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Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy

Part 4 out of 4

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marry me?" she coaxed.

"Well, there, say next Midsummer; that's not a day too long to

On leaving the school Geoffrey went to the tranter's. Old William
opened the door.

"Is your grandson Dick in 'ithin, William?"

"No, not just now, Mr. Day. Though he've been at home a good deal

"O, how's that?"

"What wi' one thing, and what wi' t'other, he's all in a mope, as
might be said. Don't seem the feller he used to. Ay, 'a will sit
studding and thinking as if 'a were going to turn chapel-member, and
then do nothing but traypse and wamble about. Used to be such a
chatty boy, too, Dick did; and now 'a don't speak at all. But won't
ye step inside? Reuben will be home soon, 'a b'lieve."

"No, thank you, I can't stay now. Will ye just ask Dick if he'll do
me the kindness to step over to Yalbury to-morrow with my da'ter
Fancy, if she's well enough? I don't like her to come by herself,
now she's not so terrible topping in health."

"So I've heard. Ay, sure, I'll tell him without fail."


The visit to Geoffrey passed off as delightfully as a visit might
have been expected to pass off when it was the first day of smooth
experience in a hitherto obstructed love-course. And then came a
series of several happy days, of the same undisturbed serenity.
Dick could court her when he chose; stay away when he chose,--which
was never; walk with her by winding streams and waterfalls and
autumn scenery till dews arid twilight sent them home. And thus
they drew near the day of the Harvest Thanksgiving, which was also
the time chosen for opening the organ in Mellstock Church.

It chanced that Dick on that very day was called away from
Mellstock. A young acquaintance had died of consumption at
Charmley, a neighbouring village, on the previous Monday, and Dick,
in fulfilment of a long-standing promise, was to assist in carrying
him to the grave. When on Tuesday, Dick went towards the school to
acquaint Fancy with the fact, it is difficult to say whether his own
disappointment at being denied the sight of her triumphant debut as
organist, was greater than his vexation that his pet should on this
great occasion be deprived of the pleasure of his presence.
However, the intelligence was communicated. She bore it as she best
could, not without many expressions of regret, and convictions that
her performance would be nothing to her now.

Just before eleven o'clock on Sunday he set out upon his sad errand.
The funeral was to be immediately after the morning service, and as
there were four good miles to walk, driving being inconvenient, it
became necessary to start comparatively early. Half an hour later
would certainly have answered his purpose quite as well, yet at the
last moment nothing would content his ardent mind but that he must
go a mile out of his way in the direction of the school, in the hope
of getting a glimpse of his Love as she started for church.

Striking, therefore, into the lane towards the school, instead of
across the ewelease direct to Charmley, he arrived opposite her door
as his goddess emerged.

If ever a woman looked a divinity, Fancy Day appeared one that
morning as she floated down those school steps, in the form of a
nebulous collection of colours inclining to blue. With an audacity
unparalleled in the whole history of village-school-mistresses at
this date--partly owing, no doubt, to papa's respectable
accumulation of cash, which rendered her profession not altogether
one of necessity--she had actually donned a hat and feather, and
lowered her hitherto plainly looped-up hair, which now fell about
her shoulders in a profusion of curls. Poor Dick was astonished:
he had never seen her look so distractingly beautiful before, save
on Christmas-eve, when her hair was in the same luxuriant condition
of freedom. But his first burst of delighted surprise was followed
by less comfortable feelings, as soon as his brain recovered its
power to think.

Fancy had blushed;--was it with confusion? She had also
involuntarily pressed back her curls. She had not expected him.

"Fancy, you didn't know me for a moment in my funeral clothes, did

"Good-morning, Dick--no, really, I didn't know you for an instant in
such a sad suit."

He looked again at the gay tresses and hat. "You've never dressed
so charming before, dearest."

"I like to hear you praise me in that way, Dick," she said, smiling
archly. "It is meat and drink to a woman. Do I look nice really?"

"Fie! you know it. Did you remember,--I mean didn't you remember
about my going away to-day?"

"Well, yes, I did, Dick; but, you know, I wanted to look well;--
forgive me."

"Yes, darling; yes, of course,--there's nothing to forgive. No, I
was only thinking that when we talked on Tuesday and Wednesday and
Thursday and Friday about my absence to-day, and I was so sorry for
it, you said, Fancy, so were you sorry, and almost cried, and said
it would be no pleasure to you to be the attraction of the church
to-day, since I could not be there."

"My dear one, neither will it be so much pleasure to me . . . But I
do take a little delight in my life, I suppose," she pouted.

"Apart from mine?"

She looked at him with perplexed eyes. "I know you are vexed with
me, Dick, and it is because the first Sunday I have curls and a hat
and feather since I have been here happens to be the very day you
are away and won't be with me. Yes, say it is, for that is it! And
you think that all this week I ought to have remembered you wouldn't
be here to-day, and not have cared to be better dressed than usual.
Yes, you do, Dick, and it is rather unkind!"

"No, no," said Dick earnestly and simply, "I didn't think so badly
of you as that. I only thought that--if YOU had been going away, I
shouldn't have tried new attractions for the eyes of other people.
But then of course you and I are different, naturally."

"Well, perhaps we are."

"Whatever will the vicar say, Fancy?"

"I don't fear what he says in the least!" she answered proudly.
"But he won't say anything of the sort you think. No, no."

"He can hardly have conscience to, indeed."

"Now come, you say, Dick, that you quite forgive me, for I must go,"
she said with sudden gaiety, and skipped backwards into the porch.
"Come here, sir;--say you forgive me, and then you shall kiss me;--
you never have yet when I have worn curls, you know. Yes, just
where you want to so much,--yes, you may!"

Dick followed her into the inner corner, where he was probably not
slow in availing himself of the privilege offered.

"Now that's a treat for you, isn't it?" she continued. "Good-bye,
or I shall be late. Come and see me to-morrow: you'll be tired to-

Thus they parted, and Fancy proceeded to the church. The organ
stood on one side of the chancel, close to and under the immediate
eye of the vicar when he was in the pulpit, and also in full view of
the congregation. Here she sat down, for the first time in such a
conspicuous position, her seat having previously been in a remote
spot in the aisle.

"Good heavens--disgraceful! Curls and a hat and feather!" said the
daughters of the small gentry, who had either only curly hair
without a hat and feather, or a hat and feather without curly hair.
"A bonnet for church always," said sober matrons.

That Mr. Maybold was conscious of her presence close beside him
during the sermon; that he was not at all angry at her development
of costume; that he admired her, she perceived. But she did not see
that he loved her during that sermon-time as he had never loved a
woman before; that her proximity was a strange delight to him; and
that he gloried in her musical success that morning in a spirit
quite beyond a mere cleric's glory at the inauguration of a new
order of things.

The old choir, with humbled hearts, no longer took their seats in
the gallery as heretofore (which was now given up to the school-
children who were not singers, and a pupil-teacher), but were
scattered about with their wives in different parts of the church.
Having nothing to do with conducting the service for almost the
first time in their lives, they all felt awkward, out of place,
abashed, and inconvenienced by their hands. The tranter had
proposed that they should stay away to-day and go nutting, but
grandfather William would not hear of such a thing for a moment.
"No," he replied reproachfully, and quoted a verse "Though this has
come upon us, let not our hearts be turned back, or our steps go out
of the way."

So they stood and watched the curls of hair trailing down the back
of the successful rival, and the waving of her feather, as she
swayed her head. After a few timid notes and uncertain touches her
playing became markedly correct, and towards the end full and free.
But, whether from prejudice or unbiassed judgment, the venerable
body of musicians could not help thinking that the simpler notes
they had been wont to bring forth were more in keeping with the
simplicity of their old church than the crowded chords and
interludes it was her pleasure to produce.


The day was done, and Fancy was again in the school-house. About
five o'clock it began to rain, and in rather a dull frame of mind
she wandered into the schoolroom, for want of something better to
do. She was thinking--of her lover Dick Dewy? Not precisely. Of
how weary she was of living alone: how unbearable it would be to
return to Yalbury under the rule of her strange-tempered step-
mother; that it was far better to be married to anybody than do
that; that eight or nine long months had yet to be lived through ere
the wedding could take place.

At the side of the room were high windows of Ham-hill stone, upon
either sill of which she could sit by first mounting a desk and
using it as a footstool. As the evening advanced here she perched
herself, as was her custom on such wet and gloomy occasions, put on
a light shawl and bonnet, opened the window, and looked out at the

The window overlooked a field called the Grove, and it was the
position from which she used to survey the crown of Dick's passing
hat in the early days of their acquaintance and meetings. Not a
living soul was now visible anywhere; the rain kept all people
indoors who were not forced abroad by necessity, and necessity was
less importunate on Sundays than during the week.

Sitting here and thinking again--of her lover, or of the sensation
she had created at church that day?--well, it is unknown--thinking
and thinking she saw a dark masculine figure arising into
distinctness at the further end of the Grove--a man without an
umbrella. Nearer and nearer he came, and she perceived that he was
in deep mourning, and then that it was Dick. Yes, in the fondness
and foolishness of his young heart, after walking four miles, in a
drizzling rain without overcoat or umbrella, and in face of a remark
from his love that he was not to come because he would be tired, he
had made it his business to wander this mile out of his way again,
from sheer wish of spending ten minutes in her presence.

"O Dick, how wet you are!" she said, as he drew up under the window.
"Why, your coat shines as if it had been varnished, and your hat--my
goodness, there's a streaming hat!"

"O, I don't mind, darling!" said Dick cheerfully. "Wet never hurts
me, though I am rather sorry for my best clothes. However, it
couldn't be helped; we lent all the umbrellas to the women. I don't
know when I shall get mine back!"

"And look, there's a nasty patch of something just on your

"Ah, that's japanning; it rubbed off the clamps of poor Jack's
coffin when we lowered him from our shoulders upon the bier! I
don't care about that, for 'twas the last deed I could do for him;
and 'tis hard if you can't afford a coat for an old friend."

Fancy put her hand to her mouth for half a minute. Underneath the
palm of that little hand there existed for that half-minute a little

"Dick, I don't like you to stand there in the wet. And you mustn't
sit down. Go home and change your things. Don't stay another

"One kiss after coming so far," he pleaded.

"If I can reach, then."

He looked rather disappointed at not being invited round to the
door. She twisted from her seated position and bent herself
downwards, but not even by standing on the plinth was it possible
for Dick to get his lips into contact with hers as she held them.
By great exertion she might have reached a little lower; but then
she would have exposed her head to the rain.

"Never mind, Dick; kiss my hand," she said, flinging it down to him.
"Now, good-bye."


He walked slowly away, turning and turning again to look at her till
he was out of sight. During the retreat she said to herself, almost
involuntarily, and still conscious of that morning's triumph--"I
like Dick, and I love him; but how plain and sorry a man looks in
the rain, with no umbrella, and wet through!"

As he vanished, she made as if to descend from her seat; but
glancing in the other direction she saw another form coming along
the same track. It was also that of a man. He, too, was in black
from top to toe; but he carried an umbrella.

He drew nearer, and the direction of the rain caused him so to slant
his umbrella that from her height above the ground his head was
invisible, as she was also to him. He passed in due time directly
beneath her, and in looking down upon the exterior of his umbrella
her feminine eyes perceived it to be of superior silk--less common
at that date than since--and of elegant make. He reached the
entrance to the building, and Fancy suddenly lost sight of him.
Instead of pursuing the roadway as Dick had done he had turned
sharply round into her own porch.

She jumped to the floor, hastily flung off her shawl and bonnet,
smoothed and patted her hair till the curls hung in passable
condition, and listened. No knock. Nearly a minute passed, and
still there was no knock. Then there arose a soft series of raps,
no louder than the tapping of a distant woodpecker, and barely
distinct enough to reach her ears. She composed herself and flung
open the door.

In the porch stood Mr. Maybold.

There was a warm flush upon his face, and a bright flash in his
eyes, which made him look handsomer than she had ever seen him

"Good-evening, Miss Day."

"Good-evening, Mr. Maybold," she said, in a strange state of mind.
She had noticed, beyond the ardent hue of his face, that his voice
had a singular tremor in it, and that his hand shook like an aspen
leaf when he laid his umbrella in the corner of the porch. Without
another word being spoken by either, he came into the schoolroom,
shut the door, and moved close to her. Once inside, the expression
of his face was no more discernible, by reason of the increasing
dusk of evening.

"I want to speak to you," he then said; "seriously--on a perhaps
unexpected subject, but one which is all the world to me--I don't
know what it may be to you, Miss Day."

No reply.

"Fancy, I have come to ask you if you will be my wife?"

As a person who has been idly amusing himself with rolling a
snowball might start at finding he had set in motion an avalanche,
so did Fancy start at these words from the vicar. And in the dead
silence which followed them, the breathings of the man and of the
woman could be distinctly and separately heard; and there was this
difference between them--his respirations gradually grew quieter and
less rapid after the enunciation hers, from having been low and
regular, increased in quickness and force, till she almost panted.

"I cannot, I cannot, Mr. Maybold--I cannot! Don't ask me!" she

"Don't answer in a hurry!" he entreated. "And do listen to me.
This is no sudden feeling on my part. I have loved you for more
than six months! Perhaps my late interest in teaching the children
here has not been so single-minded as it seemed. You will
understand my motive--like me better, perhaps, for honestly telling
you that I have struggled against my emotion continually, because I
have thought that it was not well for me to love you! But I
resolved to struggle no longer; I have examined the feeling; and the
love I bear you is as genuine as that I could bear any woman! I see
your great charm; I respect your natural talents, and the refinement
they have brought into your nature--they are quite enough, and more
than enough for me! They are equal to anything ever required of the
mistress of a quiet parsonage-house--the place in which I shall pass
my days, wherever it may be situated. O Fancy, I have watched you,
criticized you even severely, brought my feelings to the light of
judgment, and still have found them rational, and such as any man
might have expected to be inspired with by a woman like you! So
there is nothing hurried, secret, or untoward in my desire to do
this. Fancy, will you marry me?"

No answer was returned.

"Don't refuse; don't," he implored. "It would be foolish of you--I
mean cruel! Of course we would not live here, Fancy. I have had
for a long time the offer of an exchange of livings with a friend in
Yorkshire, but I have hitherto refused on account of my mother.
There we would go. Your musical powers shall be still further
developed; you shall have whatever pianoforte you like; you shall
have anything, Fancy, anything to make you happy--pony-carriage,
flowers, birds, pleasant society; yes, you have enough in you for
any society, after a few months of travel with me! Will you, Fancy,
marry me?"

Another pause ensued, varied only by the surging of the rain against
the window-panes, and then Fancy spoke, in a faint and broken voice.

"Yes, I will," she said.

"God bless you, my own!" He advanced quickly, and put his arm out
to embrace her. She drew back hastily. "No no, not now!" she said
in an agitated whisper. "There are things;--but the temptation is,
O, too strong, and I can't resist it I can't tell you now, but I
must tell you! Don't, please, don't come near me now! I want to
think, I can scarcely get myself used to the idea of what I have
promised yet." The next minute she turned to a desk, buried her
face in her hands, and burst into a hysterical fit of weeping. "O,
leave me to myself!" she sobbed; "leave me! O, leave me!"

"Don't be distressed; don't, dearest!" It was with visible
difficulty that he restrained himself from approaching her. "You
shall tell me at your leisure what it is that grieves you so; I am
happy--beyond all measure happy!--at having your simple promise."

"And do go and leave me now!"

"But I must not, in justice to you, leave for a minute, until you
are yourself again."

"There then," she said, controlling her emotion, and standing up; "I
am not disturbed now."

He reluctantly moved towards the door. "Good-bye!" he murmured
tenderly. "I'll come to-morrow about this time."


The next morning the vicar rose early. The first thing he did was
to write a long and careful letter to his friend in Yorkshire.
Then, eating a little breakfast, he crossed the meadows in the
direction of Casterbridge, bearing his letter in his pocket, that he
might post it at the town office, and obviate the loss of one day in
its transmission that would have resulted had he left it for the
foot-post through the village.

It was a foggy morning, and the trees shed in noisy water-drops the
moisture they had collected from the thick air, an acorn
occasionally falling from its cup to the ground, in company with the
drippings. In the meads, sheets of spiders'-web, almost opaque with
wet, hung in folds over the fences, and the falling leaves appeared
in every variety of brown, green, and yellow hue.

A low and merry whistling was heard on the highway he was
approaching, then the light footsteps of a man going in the same
direction as himself. On reaching the junction of his path with the
road, the vicar beheld Dick Dewy's open and cheerful face. Dick
lifted his hat, and the vicar came out into the highway that Dick
was pursuing.

"Good-morning, Dewy. How well you are looking!" said Mr. Maybold.

"Yes, sir, I am well--quite well! I am going to Casterbridge now,
to get Smart's collar; we left it there Saturday to be repaired."

"I am going to Casterbridge, so we'll walk together," the vicar
said. Dick gave a hop with one foot to put himself in step with Mr.
Maybold, who proceeded: "I fancy I didn't see you at church
yesterday, Dewy. Or were you behind the pier?"

"No; I went to Charmley. Poor John Dunford chose me to be one of
his bearers a long time before he died, and yesterday was the
funeral. Of course I couldn't refuse, though I should have liked
particularly to have been at home as 'twas the day of the new

"Yes, you should have been. The musical portion of the service was
successful--very successful indeed; and what is more to the purpose,
no ill-feeling whatever was evinced by any of the members of the old
choir. They joined in the singing with the greatest good-will."

"'Twas natural enough that I should want to be there, I suppose,"
said Dick, smiling a private smile; "considering who the organ-
player was."

At this the vicar reddened a little, and said, "Yes, yes," though
not at all comprehending Dick's true meaning, who, as he received no
further reply, continued hesitatingly, and with another smile
denoting his pride as a lover -

"I suppose you know what I mean, sir? You've heard about me and--
Miss Day?"

The red in Maybold's countenance went away: he turned and looked
Dick in the face.

"No," he said constrainedly, "I've heard nothing whatever about you
and Miss Day."

"Why, she's my sweetheart, and we are going to be married next
Midsummer. We are keeping it rather close just at present, because
'tis a good many months to wait; but it is her father's wish that we
don't marry before, and of course we must submit. But the time 'ill
soon slip along."

"Yes, the time will soon slip along--Time glides away every day--

Maybold said these words, but he had no idea of what they were. He
was conscious of a cold and sickly thrill throughout him; and all he
reasoned was this that the young creature whose graces had
intoxicated him into making the most imprudent resolution of his
life, was less an angel than a woman.

"You see, sir," continued the ingenuous Dick, "'twill be better in
one sense. I shall by that time be the regular manager of a branch
o' father's business, which has very much increased lately, and
business, which we think of starting elsewhere. It has very much
increased lately, and we expect next year to keep a' extra couple of
horses. We've already our eye on one--brown as a berry, neck like a
rainbow, fifteen hands, and not a gray hair in her--offered us at
twenty-five want a crown. And to kip pace with the times I have had
some cards prented and I beg leave to hand you one, sir."

"Certainly," said the vicar, mechanically taking the card that Dick
offered him.

"I turn in here by Grey's Bridge," said Dick. "I suppose you go
straight on and up town?"


"Good-morning, sir."

"Good-morning, Dewy."

Maybold stood still upon the bridge, holding the card as it had been
put into his hand, and Dick's footsteps died away towards Durnover
Mill. The vicar's first voluntary action was to read the card


NB.--Furniture, Coals, Potatoes, Live and Dead Stock, removed to any
distance on the shortest notice.

Mr. Maybold leant over the parapet of the bridge and looked into the
river. He saw--without heeding--how the water came rapidly from
beneath the arches, glided down a little steep, then spread itself
over a pool in which dace, trout, and minnows sported at ease among
the long green locks of weed that lay heaving and sinking with their
roots towards the current. At the end of ten minutes spent leaning
thus, he drew from his pocket the letter to his friend, tore it
deliberately into such minute fragments that scarcely two syllables
remained in juxtaposition, and sent the whole handful of shreds
fluttering into the water. Here he watched them eddy, dart, and
turn, as they were carried downwards towards the ocean and gradually
disappeared from his view. Finally he moved off, and pursued his
way at a rapid pace back again to Mellstock Vicarage.

Nerving himself by a long and intense effort, he sat down in his
study and wrote as follows:

"DEAR MISS DAY,--The meaning of your words, 'the temptation is too
strong,' of your sadness and your tears, has been brought home to me
by an accident. I know to-day what I did not know yesterday--that
you are not a free woman.

"Why did you not tell me--why didn't you? Did you suppose I knew?
No. Had I known, my conduct in coming to you as I did would have
been reprehensible.

"But I don't chide you! Perhaps no blame attaches to you--I can't
tell. Fancy, though my opinion of you is assailed and disturbed in
a way which cannot be expressed, I love you still, and my word to
you holds good yet. But will you, in justice to an honest man who
relies upon your word to him, consider whether, under the
circumstances, you can honourably forsake him?--Yours ever


He rang the bell. "Tell Charles to take these copybooks and this
note to the school at once."

The maid took the parcel and the letter, and in a few minutes a boy
was seen to leave the vicarage gate, with the one under his arm, and
the other in his hand. The vicar sat with his hand to his brow,
watching the lad as he descended Church Lane and entered the
waterside path which intervened between that spot and the school.

Here he was met by another boy, and after a free salutation and
pugilistic frisk had passed between the two, the second boy came on
his way to the vicarage, and the other vanished out of sight.

The boy came to the door, and a note for Mr. Maybold was brought in.

He knew the writing. Opening the envelope with an unsteady hand, he
read the subjoined words:

"DEAR MR. MAYBOLD,--I have been thinking seriously and sadly through
the whole of the night of the question you put to me last evening
and of my answer. That answer, as an honest woman, I had no right
to give.

"It is my nature--perhaps all women's--to love refinement of mind
and manners; but even more than this, to be ever fascinated with the
idea of surroundings more elegant and pleasing than those which have
been customary. And you praised me, and praise is life to me. It
was alone my sensations at these things which prompted my reply.
Ambition and vanity they would be called; perhaps they are so.

"After this explanation I hope you will generously allow me to
withdraw the answer I too hastily gave.

"And one more request. To keep the meeting of last night, and all
that passed between us there, for ever a secret. Were it to become
known, it would utterly blight the happiness of a trusting and
generous man, whom I love still, and shall love always.--Yours


The last written communication that ever passed from the vicar to
Fancy, was a note containing these words only:

"Tell him everything; it is best. He will forgive you."



The last day of the story is dated just subsequent to that point in
the development of the seasons when country people go to bed among
nearly naked trees, are lulled to sleep by a fall of rain, and awake
next morning among green ones; when the landscape appears
embarrassed with the sudden weight and brilliancy of its leaves;
when the night-jar comes and strikes up for the summer his tune of
one note; when the apple-trees have bloomed, and the roads and
orchard-grass become spotted with fallen petals; when the faces of
the delicate flowers are darkened, and their heads weighed down, by
the throng of honey-bees, which increase their humming till humming
is too mild a term for the all-pervading sound; and when cuckoos,
blackbirds, and sparrows, that have hitherto been merry and
respectful neighbours, become noisy and persistent intimates.

The exterior of Geoffrey Day's house in Yalbury Wood appeared
exactly as was usual at that season, but a frantic barking of the
dogs at the back told of unwonted movements somewhere within.
Inside the door the eyes beheld a gathering, which was a rarity
indeed for the dwelling of the solitary wood-steward and keeper.

About the room were sitting and standing, in various gnarled
attitudes, our old acquaintance, grandfathers James and William, the
tranter, Mr. Penny, two or three children, including Jimmy and
Charley, besides three or four country ladies and gentlemen from a
greater distance who do not require any distinction by name.
Geoffrey was seen and heard stamping about the outhouse and among
the bushes of the garden, attending to details of daily routine
before the proper time arrived for their performance, in order that
they might be off his hands for the day. He appeared with his
shirt-sleeves rolled up; his best new nether garments, in which he
had arrayed himself that morning, being temporarily disguised under
a weekday apron whilst these proceedings were in operation. He
occasionally glanced at the hives in passing, to see if his wife's
bees were swarming, ultimately rolling down his shirt-sleeves and
going indoors, talking to tranter Dewy whilst buttoning the
wristbands, to save time; next going upstairs for his best
waistcoat, and coming down again to make another remark whilst
buttoning that, during the time looking fixedly in the tranter's
face as if he were a looking-glass.

The furniture had undergone attenuation to an alarming extent, every
duplicate piece having been removed, including the clock by Thomas
Wood; Ezekiel Saunders being at last left sole referee in matters of

Fancy was stationary upstairs, receiving her layers of clothes and
adornments, and answering by short fragments of laughter which had
more fidgetiness than mirth in them, remarks that were made from
time to time by Mrs. Dewy and Mrs. Penny, who were assisting her at
the toilet, Mrs. Day having pleaded a queerness in her head as a
reason for shutting herself up in an inner bedroom for the whole
morning. Mrs. Penny appeared with nine corkscrew curls on each side
of her temples, and a back comb stuck upon her crown like a castle
on a steep.

The conversation just now going on was concerning the banns, the
last publication of which had been on the Sunday previous.

"And how did they sound?" Fancy subtly inquired.

"Very beautiful indeed," said Mrs. Penny. "I never heard any sound

"But HOW?"

"O, SO natural and elegant, didn't they, Reuben!" she cried, through
the chinks of the unceiled floor, to the tranter downstairs.

"What's that?" said the tranter, looking up inquiringly at the floor
above him for an answer.

"Didn't Dick and Fancy sound well when they were called home in
church last Sunday?" came downwards again in Mrs. Penny's voice.

"Ay, that they did, my sonnies!--especially the first time. There
was a terrible whispering piece of work in the congregation, wasn't
there, neighbour Penny?" said the tranter, taking up the thread of
conversation on his own account and, in order to be heard in the
room above, speaking very loud to Mr. Penny, who sat at the distance
of three feet from him, or rather less.

"I never can mind seeing such a whispering as there was," said Mr.
Penny, also loudly, to the room above. "And such sorrowful envy on
the maidens' faces; really, I never did see such envy as there was!"

Fancy's lineaments varied in innumerable little flushes, and her
heart palpitated innumerable little tremors of pleasure. "But
perhaps," she said, with assumed indifference, "it was only because
no religion was going on just then?"

"O, no; nothing to do with that. 'Twas because of your high
standing in the parish. It was just as if they had one and all
caught Dick kissing and coling ye to death, wasn't it, Mrs. Dewy?"

"Ay; that 'twas."

"How people will talk about one's doings!" Fancy exclaimed.

"Well, if you make songs about yourself, my dear, you can't blame
other people for singing 'em."

"Mercy me! how shall I go through it?" said the young lady again,
but merely to those in the bedroom, with a breathing of a kind
between a sigh and a pant, round shining eyes, and warm face.

"O, you'll get through it well enough, child," said Mrs. Dewy
placidly. "The edge of the performance is took off at the calling
home; and when once you get up to the chancel end o' the church, you
feel as saucy as you please. I'm sure I felt as brave as a sodger
all through the deed--though of course I dropped my face and looked
modest, as was becoming to a maid. Mind you do that, Fancy."

"And I walked into the church as quiet as a lamb, I'm sure,"
subjoined Mrs. Penny. "There, you see Penny is such a little small
man, But certainly, I was flurried in the inside o' me. Well,
thinks I, 'tis to be, and here goes! And do you do the same: say,
''Tis to be, and here goes!'"

"Is there such wonderful virtue in ''Tis to be, and here goes!'"
inquired Fancy.

"Wonderful! 'Twill carry a body through it all from wedding to
churching, if you only let it out with spirit enough."

"Very well, then," said Fancy, blushing. "'Tis to be, and here

"That's a girl for a husband!" said Mrs. Dewy.

"I do hope he'll come in time!" continued the bride-elect, inventing
a new cause of affright, now that the other was demolished.

"'Twould be a thousand pities if he didn't come, now you be so
brave," said Mrs. Penny.

Grandfather James, having overheard some of these remarks, said
downstairs with mischievous loudness--"I've known some would-be
weddings when the men didn't come."

"They've happened not to come, before now, certainly," said Mr.
Penny, cleaning one of the glasses of his spectacles.

"O, do hear what they are saying downstairs," whispered Fancy.
"Hush, hush!"

She listened.

"They have, haven't they, Geoffrey?" continued grandfather James, as
Geoffrey entered.

"Have what?" said Geoffrey.

"The men have been known not to come."

"That they have," said the keeper.

"Ay; I've knowed times when the wedding had to be put off through
his not appearing, being tired of the woman. And another case I
knowed was when the man was catched in a man-trap crossing Oaker's
Wood, and the three months had run out before he got well, and the
banns had to be published over again."

"How horrible!" said Fancy.

"They only say it on purpose to tease 'ee, my dear," said Mrs. Dewy.

"'Tis quite sad to think what wretched shifts poor maids have been
put to," came again from downstairs. "Ye should hear Clerk Wilkins,
my brother-law, tell his experiences in marrying couples these last
thirty year: sometimes one thing, sometimes another--'tis quite
heart-rending--enough to make your hair stand on end."

"Those things don't happen very often, I know," said Fancy, with
smouldering uneasiness.

"Well, really 'tis time Dick was here," said the tranter.

"Don't keep on at me so, grandfather James and Mr. Dewy, and all you
down there!" Fancy broke out, unable to endure any longer. "I am
sure I shall die, or do something, if you do!"

"Never you hearken to these old chaps, Miss Day!" cried Nat
Callcome, the best man, who had just entered, and threw his voice
upward through the chinks of the floor as the others had done.
"'Tis all right; Dick's coming on like a wild feller; he'll be here
in a minute. The hive o' bees his mother gie'd en for his new
garden swarmed jist as he was starting, and he said, "I can't afford
to lose a stock o' bees; no, that I can't, though I fain would; and
Fancy wouldn't wish it on any account." So he jist stopped to ting
to 'em and shake 'em."

"A genuine wise man," said Geoffrey.

"To be sure, what a day's work we had yesterday!" Mr. Callcome
continued, lowering his voice as if it were not necessary any longer
to include those in the room above among his audience, and selecting
a remote corner of his best clean handkerchief for wiping his face.
"To be sure!"

"Things so heavy, I suppose," said Geoffrey, as if reading through
the chimney-window from the far end of the vista.

"Ay," said Nat, looking round the room at points from which
furniture had been removed. "And so awkward to carry, too. 'Twas
ath'art and across Dick's garden; in and out Dick's door; up and
down Dick's stairs; round and round Dick's chammers till legs were
worn to stumps: and Dick is so particular, too. And the stores of
victuals and drink that lad has laid in: why, 'tis enough for
Noah's ark! I'm sure I never wish to see a choicer half-dozen of
hams than he's got there in his chimley; and the cider I tasted was
a very pretty drop, indeed;--none could desire a prettier cider."

"They be for the love and the stalled ox both, Ah, the greedy
martels!" said grandfather James.

"Well, may-be they be. Surely," says I, "that couple between 'em
have heaped up so much furniture and victuals, that anybody would
think they were going to take hold the big end of married life
first, and begin wi' a grown-up family. Ah, what a bath of heat we
two chaps were in, to be sure, a-getting that furniture in order!"

"I do so wish the room below was ceiled," said Fancy, as the
dressing went on; "we can hear all they say and do down there."

"Hark! Who's that?" exclaimed a small pupil-teacher, who also
assisted this morning, to her great delight. She ran half-way down
the stairs, and peeped round the banister. "O, you should, you
should, you should!" she exclaimed, scrambling up to the room again.

"What?" said Fancy.

"See the bridesmaids! They've just a come! 'Tis wonderful, really!
'tis wonderful how muslin can be brought to it. There, they don't
look a bit like themselves, but like some very rich sisters o'
theirs that nobody knew they had!"

"Make 'em come up to me, make 'em come up!" cried Fancy
ecstatically; and the four damsels appointed, namely, Miss Susan
Dewy, Miss Bessie Dewy, Miss Vashti Sniff, and Miss Mercy Onmey,
surged upstairs, and floated along the passage.

"I wish Dick would come!" was again the burden of Fancy.

The same instant a small twig and flower from the creeper outside
the door flew in at the open window, and a masculine voice said,
"Ready, Fancy dearest?"

"There he is, he is!" cried Fancy, tittering spasmodically, and
breathing as it were for the first time that morning.

The bridesmaids crowded to the window and turned their heads in the
direction pointed out, at which motion eight earrings all swung as
one: --not looking at Dick because they particularly wanted to see
him, but with an important sense of their duty as obedient ministers
of the will of that apotheosised being--the Bride.

"He looks very taking!" said Miss Vashti Sniff, a young lady who
blushed cream-colour and wore yellow bonnet ribbons.

Dick was advancing to the door in a painfully new coat of shining
cloth, primrose-coloured waistcoat, hat of the same painful style of
newness, and with an extra quantity of whiskers shaved off his face,
and hair cut to an unwonted shortness in honour of the occasion.

"Now, I'll run down," said Fancy, looking at herself over her
shoulder in the glass, and flitting off.

"O Dick!" she exclaimed, "I am so glad you are come! I knew you
would, of course, but I thought, Oh if you shouldn't!"

"Not come, Fancy! Het or wet, blow or snow, here come I to-day!
Why, what's possessing your little soul? You never used to mind
such things a bit."

"Ah, Mr. Dick, I hadn't hoisted my colours and committed myself
then!" said Fancy.

"'Tis a pity I can't marry the whole five of ye!" said Dick,
surveying them all round.

"Heh-heh-heh!" laughed the four bridesmaids, and Fancy privately
touched Dick and smoothed him down behind his shoulder, as if to
assure herself that he was there in flesh and blood as her own

"Well, whoever would have thought such a thing?" said Dick, taking
off his hat, sinking into a chair, and turning to the elder members
of the company.

The latter arranged their eyes and lips to signify that in their
opinion nobody could have thought such a thing, whatever it was.

"That my bees should ha' swarmed just then, of all times and
seasons!" continued Dick, throwing a comprehensive glance like a net
over the whole auditory. "And 'tis a fine swarm, too: I haven't
seen such a fine swarm for these ten years."

"A' excellent sign," said Mrs. Penny, from the depths of experience.
"A' excellent sign."

"I am glad everything seems so right," said Fancy with a breath of

"And so am I," said the four bridesmaids with much sympathy.

"Well, bees can't be put off," observed the inharmonious grandfather
James. "Marrying a woman is a thing you can do at any moment; but a
swarm o' bees won't come for the asking."

Dick fanned himself with his hat. "I can't think," he said
thoughtfully, "whatever 'twas I did to offend Mr. Maybold, a man I
like so much too. He rather took to me when he came first, and used
to say he should like to see me married, and that he'd marry me,
whether the young woman I chose lived in his parish or no. I just
hinted to him of it when I put in the banns, but he didn't seem to
take kindly to the notion now, and so I said no more. I wonder how
it was."

"I wonder!" said Fancy, looking into vacancy with those beautiful
eyes of hers--too refined and beautiful for a tranter's wife; but,
perhaps, not too good.

"Altered his mind, as folks will, I suppose," said the tranter.
"Well, my sonnies, there'll he a good strong party looking at us to-
day as we go along."

"And the body of the church," said Geoffrey, "will be lined with
females, and a row of young fellers' heads, as far down as the eyes,
will be noticed just above the sills of the chancel-winders."

"Ay, you've been through it twice," said Reuben, "and well mid

"I can put up with it for once," said Dick, "or twice either, or a
dozen times."

"O Dick!" said Fancy reproachfully.

"Why, dear, that's nothing,--only just a bit of a flourish. You be
as nervous as a cat to-day."

"And then, of course, when 'tis all over," continued the tranter,
"we shall march two and two round the parish."

"Yes, sure," said Mr. Penny: "two and two: every man hitched up to
his woman, 'a b'lieve."

"I never can make a show of myself in that way!" said Fancy, looking
at Dick to ascertain if he could.

"I'm agreed to anything you and the company like, my dear!" said Mr.
Richard Dewy heartily.

"Why, we did when we were married, didn't we, Ann?" said the
tranter; "and so do everybody, my sonnies."

"And so did we," said Fancy's father.

"And so did Penny and I," said Mrs. Penny: "I wore my best Bath
clogs, I remember, and Penny was cross because it made me look so

"And so did father and mother," said Miss Mercy Onmey.

"And I mean to, come next Christmas!" said Nat the groomsman
vigorously, and looking towards the person of Miss Vashti Sniff.

"Respectable people don't nowadays," said Fancy. "Still, since poor
mother did, I will."

"Ay," resumed the tranter, "'twas on a White Tuesday when I
committed it. Mellstock Club walked the same day, and we new-
married folk went a-gaying round the parish behind 'em. Everybody
used to wear something white at Whitsuntide in them days. My
sonnies, I've got the very white trousers that I wore, at home in
box now, Ha'n't I, Ann?"

"You had till I cut 'em up for Jimmy," said Mrs. Dewy.

"And we ought, by rights, after doing this parish, to go round
Higher and Lower Mellstock, and call at Viney's, and so work our way
hither again across He'th," said Mr. Penny, recovering scent of the
matter in hand. "Dairyman Viney is a very respectable man, and so
is Farmer Kex, and we ought to show ourselves to them."

"True," said the tranter, "we ought to go round Mellstock to do the
thing well. We shall form a very striking object walking along in
rotation, good-now, neighbours?"

"That we shall: a proper pretty sight for the nation," said Mrs.

"Hullo!" said the tranter, suddenly catching sight of a singular
human figure standing in the doorway, and wearing a long smock-frock
of pillow-case cut and of snowy whiteness. "Why, Leaf! whatever
dost thou do here?"

"I've come to know if so be I can come to the wedding--hee-hee!"
said Leaf in a voice of timidity.

"Now, Leaf," said the tranter reproachfully, "you know we don't want
'ee here to-day: we've got no room for ye, Leaf."

"Thomas Leaf, Thomas Leaf, fie upon ye for prying!" said old

"I know I've got no head, but I thought, if I washed and put on a
clane shirt and smock-frock, I might just call," said Leaf; turning
away disappointed and trembling.

"Poor feller!" said the tranter, turning to Geoffrey. "Suppose we
must let en come? His looks are rather against en, and he is
terrible silly; but 'a have never been in jail, and 'a won't do no

Leaf looked with gratitude at the tranter for these praises, and
then anxiously at Geoffrey, to see what effect they would have in
helping his cause.

"Ay, let en come," said Geoffrey decisively. "Leaf, th'rt welcome,
'st know;" and Leaf accordingly remained.

They were now all ready for leaving the house, and began to form a
procession in the following order: Fancy and her father, Dick and
Susan Dewy, Nat Callcome and Vashti Sniff, Ted Waywood and Mercy
Onmey, and Jimmy and Bessie Dewy. These formed the executive, and
all appeared in strict wedding attire. Then came the tranter and
Mrs. Dewy, and last of all Mr. and Mrs. Penny;--the tranter
conspicuous by his enormous gloves, size eleven and three-quarters,
which appeared at a distance like boxing gloves bleached, and sat
rather awkwardly upon his brown hands; this hall-mark of
respectability having been set upon himself to-day (by Fancy's
special request) for the first time in his life.

"The proper way is for the bridesmaids to walk together," suggested

"What? 'Twas always young man and young woman, arm in crook, in my
time!" said Geoffrey, astounded.

"And in mine!" said the tranter.

"And in ours!" said Mr. and Mrs. Penny.

"Never heard o' such a thing as woman and woman!" said old William;
who, with grandfather James and Mrs. Day, was to stay at home.

"Whichever way you and the company like, my dear!" said Dick, who,
being on the point of securing his right to Fancy, seemed willing to
renounce all other rights in the world with the greatest pleasure
The decision was left to Fancy.

"Well, I think I'd rather have it the way mother had it," she said,
and the couples moved along under the trees, every man to his maid.

"Ah!" said grandfather James to grandfather William as they retired,
"I wonder which she thinks most about, Dick or her wedding raiment!"

"Well, 'tis their nature," said grandfather William. "Remember the
words of the prophet Jeremiah: 'Can a maid forget her ornaments, or
a bride her attire?'"

Now among dark perpendicular firs, like the shafted columns of a
cathedral; now through a hazel copse, matted with primroses and wild
hyacinths; now under broad beeches in bright young leaves they
threaded their way into the high road over Yalbury Hill, which
dipped at that point directly into the village of Geoffrey Day's
parish; and in the space of a quarter of an hour Fancy found herself
to be Mrs. Richard Dewy, though, much to her surprise, feeling no
other than Fancy Day still.

On the circuitous return walk through the lanes and fields, amid
much chattering and laughter, especially when they came to stiles,
Dick discerned a brown spot far up a turnip field.

"Why, 'tis Enoch!" he said to Fancy. "I thought I missed him at the
house this morning. How is it he's left you?"

"He drank too much cider, and it got into his head, and they put him
in Weatherbury stocks for it. Father was obliged to get somebody
else for a day or two, and Enoch hasn't had anything to do with the
woods since."

"We might ask him to call down to-night. Stocks are nothing for
once, considering 'tis our wedding day." The bridal party was
ordered to halt.

"Eno-o-o-o-ch!" cried Dick at the top of his voice.

"Y-a-a-a-a-a-as!" said Enoch from the distance.

"D'ye know who I be-e-e-e-e-e?"


"Dick Dew-w-w-w-wy!"


"Just a-ma-a-a-a-a-arried!"


"This is my wife, Fa-a-a-a-a-ancy!" (holding her up to Enoch's view
as if she had been a nosegay.)


"Will ye come across to the party to-ni-i-i-i-i-i-ight!"


"Why n-o-o-o-o-ot?"

"Don't work for the family no-o-o-o-ow!"

"Not nice of Master Enoch," said Dick, as they resumed their walk.

"You mustn't blame en," said Geoffrey; "the man's not hisself now;
he's in his morning frame of mind. When he's had a gallon o' cider
or ale, or a pint or two of mead, the man's well enough, and his
manners be as good as anybody's in the kingdom."


The point in Yalbury Wood which abutted on the end of Geoffrey Day's
premises was closed with an ancient tree, horizontally of enormous
extent, though having no great pretensions to height. Many hundreds
of birds had been born amidst the boughs of this single tree; tribes
of rabbits and hares had nibbled at its bark from year to year;
quaint tufts of fungi had sprung from the cavities of its forks; and
countless families of moles and earthworms had crept about its
roots. Beneath and beyond its shade spread a carefully-tended
grass-plot, its purpose being to supply a healthy exercise-ground
for young chickens and pheasants; the hens, their mothers, being
enclosed in coops placed upon the same green flooring.

All these encumbrances were now removed, and as the afternoon
advanced, the guests gathered on the spot, where music, dancing, and
the singing of songs went forward with great spirit throughout the
evening. The propriety of every one was intense by reason of the
influence of Fancy, who, as an additional precaution in this
direction, had strictly charged her father and the tranter to
carefully avoid saying 'thee' and 'thou' in their conversation, on
the plea that those ancient words sounded so very humiliating to
persons of newer taste; also that they were never to be seen drawing
the back of the hand across the mouth after drinking--a local
English custom of extraordinary antiquity, but stated by Fancy to be
decidedly dying out among the better classes of society.

In addition to the local musicians present, a man who had a thorough
knowledge of the tambourine was invited from the village of Tantrum
Clangley,--a place long celebrated for the skill of its inhabitants
as performers on instruments of percussion. These important members
of the assembly were relegated to a height of two or three feet from
the ground, upon a temporary erection of planks supported by
barrels. Whilst the dancing progressed the older persons sat in a
group under the trunk of the tree,--the space being allotted to them
somewhat grudgingly by the young ones, who were greedy of
pirouetting room,--and fortified by a table against the heels of the
dancers. Here the gaffers and gammers, whose dancing days were
over, told stories of great impressiveness, and at intervals
surveyed the advancing and retiring couples from the same retreat,
as people on shore might be supposed to survey a naval engagement in
the bay beyond; returning again to their tales when the pause was
over. Those of the whirling throng, who, during the rests between
each figure, turned their eyes in the direction of these seated
ones, were only able to discover, on account of the music and
bustle, that a very striking circumstance was in course of
narration--denoted by an emphatic sweep of the hand, snapping of the
fingers, close of the lips, and fixed look into the centre of the
listener's eye for the space of a quarter of a minute, which raised
in that listener such a reciprocating working of face as to
sometimes make the distant dancers half wish to know what such an
interesting tale could refer to.

Fancy caused her looks to wear as much matronly expression as was
obtainable out of six hours' experience as a wife, in order that the
contrast between her own state of life and that of the unmarried
young women present might be duly impressed upon the company:
occasionally stealing glances of admiration at her left hand, but
this quite privately; for her ostensible bearing concerning the
matter was intended to show that, though she undoubtedly occupied
the most wondrous position in the eyes of the world that had ever
been attained, she was almost unconscious of the circumstance, and
that the somewhat prominent position in which that wonderfully-
emblazoned left hand was continually found to be placed, when
handing cups and saucers, knives, forks, and glasses, was quite the
result of accident. As to wishing to excite envy in the bosoms of
her maiden companions, by the exhibition of the shining ring, every
one was to know it was quite foreign to the dignity of such an
experienced married woman. Dick's imagination in the meantime was
far less capable of drawing so much wontedness from his new
condition. He had been for two or three hours trying to feel
himself merely a newly-married man, but had been able to get no
further in the attempt than to realize that he was Dick Dewy, the
tranter's son, at a party given by Lord Wessex's head man-in-charge,
on the outlying Yalbury estate, dancing and chatting with Fancy Day.

Five country dances, including 'Haste to the Wedding,' two reels,
and three fragments of horn-pipes, brought them to the time for
supper, which, on account of the dampness of the grass from the
immaturity of the summer season, was spread indoors. At the
conclusion of the meal Dick went out to put the horse in; and Fancy,
with the elder half of the four bridesmaids, retired upstairs to
dress for the journey to Dick's new cottage near Mellstock.

"How long will you be putting on your bonnet, Fancy?" Dick inquired
at the foot of the staircase. Being now a man of business and
married, he was strong on the importance of time, and doubled the
emphasis of his words in conversing, and added vigour to his nods.

"Only a minute."

"How long is that?"

"Well, dear, five."

"Ah, sonnies!" said the tranter, as Dick retired, "'tis a talent of
the female race that low numbers should stand for high, more
especially in matters of waiting, matters of age, and matters of

"True, true, upon my body," said Geoffrey.

"Ye spak with feeling, Geoffrey, seemingly."

"Anybody that d'know my experience might guess that."

"What's she doing now, Geoffrey?"

"Claning out all the upstairs drawers and cupboards, and dusting the
second-best chainey--a thing that's only done once a year. 'If
there's work to be done I must do it,' says she, 'wedding or no.'"

"'Tis my belief she's a very good woman at bottom."

"She's terrible deep, then."

Mrs. Penny turned round. "Well, 'tis humps and hollers with the
best of us; but still and for all that, Dick and Fancy stand as fair
a chance of having a bit of sunsheen as any married pair in the

"Ay, there's no gainsaying it."

Mrs. Dewy came up, talking to one person and looking at another.
"Happy, yes," she said. "'Tis always so when a couple is so exactly
in tune with one another as Dick and she."

"When they be'n't too poor to have time to sing," said grandfather

"I tell ye, neighbours, when the pinch comes," said the tranter:
"when the oldest daughter's boots be only a size less than her
mother's, and the rest o' the flock close behind her. A sharp time
for a man that, my sonnies; a very sharp time! Chanticleer's comb
is a-cut then, 'a believe."

"That's about the form o't," said Mr. Penny. "That'll put the stuns
upon a man, when you must measure mother and daughter's lasts to
tell 'em apart."

"You've no cause to complain, Reuben, of such a close-coming flock,"
said Mrs. Dewy; "for ours was a straggling lot enough, God knows!"

"I d'know it, I d'know it," said the tranter. "You be a well-enough
woman, Ann."

Mrs. Dewy put her mouth in the form of a smile, and put it back
again without smiling.

"And if they come together, they go together," said Mrs. Penny,
whose family had been the reverse of the tranter's; "and a little
money will make either fate tolerable. And money can be made by our
young couple, I know."

"Yes, that it can!" said the impulsive voice of Leaf, who had
hitherto humbly admired the proceedings from a corner. "It can be
done--all that's wanted is a few pounds to begin with. That's all!
I know a story about it!"

"Let's hear thy story, Leaf;" said the tranter. "I never knew you
were clever enough to tell a story. Silence, all of ye! Mr. Leaf
will tell a story."

"Tell your story, Thomas Leaf," said grandfather William in the tone
of a schoolmaster.

"Once," said the delighted Leaf; in an uncertain voice, "there was a
man who lived in a house! Well, this man went thinking and thinking
night and day. At last, he said to himself; as I might, 'If I had
only ten pound, I'd make a fortune.' At last by hook or by crook,
behold he got the ten pounds!"

"Only think of that!" said Nat Callcome satirically.

"Silence!" said the tranter.

"Well, now comes the interesting part of the story! In a little
time he made that ten pounds twenty. Then a little time after that
he doubled it, and made it forty. Well, he went on, and a good
while after that he made it eighty, and on to a hundred. Well, by-
and-by he made it two hundred! Well, you'd never believe it, but--
he went on and made it four hundred! He went on, and what did he
do? Why, he made it eight hundred! Yes, he did," continued Leaf;
in the highest pitch of excitement, bringing down his fist upon his
knee with such force that he quivered with the pain; "yes, and he
went on and made it A THOUSAND!"

"Hear, hear!" said the tranter. "Better than the history of
England, my sonnies!"

"Thank you for your story, Thomas Leaf," said grandfather William;
and then Leaf gradually sank into nothingness again.

Amid a medley of laughter, old shoes, and elder-wine, Dick and his
bride took their departure, side by side in the excellent new
spring-cart which the young tranter now possessed. The moon was
just over the full, rendering any light from lamps or their own
beauties quite unnecessary to the pair. They drove slowly along
Yalbury Bottom, where the road passed between two copses. Dick was
talking to his companion.

"Fancy," he said, "why we are so happy is because there is such full
confidence between us. Ever since that time you confessed to that
little flirtation with Shiner by the river (which was really no
flirtation at all), I have thought how artless and good you must be
to tell me o' such a trifling thing, and to be so frightened about
it as you were. It has won me to tell you my every deed and word
since then. We'll have no secrets from each other, darling, will we
ever?--no secret at all."

"None from to-day," said Fancy. "Hark! what's that?"

From a neighbouring thicket was suddenly heard to issue in a loud,
musical, and liquid voice -

"Tippiwit! swe-e-et! ki-ki-ki! Come hither, come hither, come

"O, 'tis the nightingale," murmured she, and thought of a secret she
would never tell.


{1} This, a local expression, must be a corruption of something less

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