Infomotions, Inc.Springhaven : a Tale of the Great War / Blackmore, R. D. (Richard Doddridge), 1825-1900



Author: Blackmore, R. D. (Richard Doddridge), 1825-1900
Title: Springhaven : a Tale of the Great War
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): carne; springhaven; twemlow; scudamore; dolly; captain stubbard; darling
Contributor(s): Keller, Arthur Ignatius, 1866-1924 [Illustrator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 201,988 words (longer than most) Grade range: 9-11 (high school) Readability score: 67 (easy)
Identifier: etext7435
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Title: Springhaven
       A Tale of the Great War

Author: R. D. Blackmore

Release Date: June 6, 2006 [EBook #7435]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SPRINGHAVEN ***




Produced by Don Lainson





SPRINGHAVEN:

A Tale of the Great War


By R. D. Blackmore


1887




CHAPTER I

WHEN THE SHIP COMES HOME


In the days when England trusted mainly to the vigor and valor of one
man, against a world of enemies, no part of her coast was in greater
peril than the fair vale of Springhaven. But lying to the west of the
narrow seas, and the shouts both of menace and vigilance, the quiet
little village in the tranquil valley forbore to be uneasy.

For the nature of the place and race, since time has outlived memory,
continually has been, and must be, to let the world pass easily. Little
to talk of, and nothing to do, is the healthy condition of mankind just
there. To all who love repose and shelter, freedom from the cares of
money and the cark of fashion, and (in lieu of these) refreshing air,
bright water, and green country, there is scarcely any valley left to
compare with that of Springhaven. This valley does not interrupt the
land, but comes in as a pleasant relief to it. No glaring chalk, no
grim sandstone, no rugged flint, outface it; but deep rich meadows, and
foliage thick, and cool arcades of ancient trees, defy the noise that
men make. And above the trees, in shelving distance, rise the crests of
upland, a soft gray lias, where orchards thrive, and greensward strokes
down the rigor of the rocks, and quick rills lace the bosom of the slope
with tags of twisted silver.

In the murmur of the valley twenty little waters meet, and discoursing
their way to the sea, give name to the bay that receives them and the
anchorage they make. And here no muddy harbor reeks, no foul mouth
of rat-haunted drains, no slimy and scraggy wall runs out, to mar the
meeting of sweet and salt. With one or two mooring posts to watch it,
and a course of stepping-stones, the brook slides into the peaceful bay,
and is lost in larger waters. Even so, however, it is kindly still, for
it forms a tranquil haven.

Because, where the ruffle of the land stream merges into the heavier
disquietude of sea, slopes of shell sand and white gravel give welcome
pillow to the weary keel. No southerly tempest smites the bark, no long
groundswell upheaves her; for a bold point, known as the "Haven-head,"
baffles the storm in the offing, while the bulky rollers of a strong
spring-tide, that need no wind to urge them, are broken by the shifting
of the shore into a tier of white-frilled steps. So the deep-waisted
smacks that fish for many generations, and even the famous "London
trader" (a schooner of five-and-forty tons), have rest from their
labors, whenever they wish or whenever they can afford it, in the
arms of the land, and the mouth of the water, and under the eyes of
Springhaven.

At the corner of the wall, where the brook comes down, and pebble turns
into shingle, there has always been a good white gate, respected (as a
white gate always is) from its strong declaration of purpose. Outside
of it, things may belong to the Crown, the Admiralty, Manor, or Trinity
Brethren, or perhaps the sea itself--according to the latest ebb or
flow of the fickle tide of Law Courts--but inside that gate everything
belongs to the fine old family of Darling.

Concerning the origin of these Darlings divers tales are told, according
to the good-will or otherwise of the diver. The Darlings themselves
contend and prove that stock and name are Saxon, and the true form of
the name is "Deerlung," as witness the family bearings. But the foes of
the race, and especially the Carnes, of ancient Sussex lineage, declare
that the name describes itself. Forsooth, these Darlings are nothing
more, to their contemptuous certainty, than the offset of some
court favorite, too low to have won nobility, in the reign of some
light-affectioned king.

If ever there was any truth in that, it has been worn out long ago by
friction of its own antiquity. Admiral Darling owns that gate, and
all the land inside it, as far as a Preventive man can see with his
spy-glass upon the top bar of it. And this includes nearly all the
village of Springhaven, and the Hall, and the valley, and the hills that
make it. And how much more does all this redound to the credit of the
family when the gazer reflects that this is nothing but their younger
tenement! For this is only Springhaven Hall, while Darling Holt, the
headquarters of the race, stands far inland, and belongs to Sir Francis,
the Admiral's elder brother.

When the tides were at their spring, and the year 1802 of our era in
the same condition, Horatia Dorothy Darling, younger daughter of the
aforesaid Admiral, choosing a very quiet path among thick shrubs and
under-wood, came all alone to a wooden building, which her father called
his Round-house. In the war, which had been patched over now, but would
very soon break out again, that veteran officer held command of the
coast defense (westward of Nelson's charge) from Beachy Head to Selsey
Bill. No real danger had existed then, and no solid intent of invasion,
but many sharp outlooks had been set up, and among them was this at
Springhaven.

Here was established under thatch, and with sliding lights before it,
the Admiral's favorite Munich glass, mounted by an old ship's carpenter
(who had followed the fortunes of his captain) on a stand which would
have puzzled anybody but the maker, with the added security of a lanyard
from the roof. The gear, though rough, was very strong and solid,
and afforded more range and firmer rest to the seven-feet tube and
adjustments than a costly mounting by a London optician would have been
likely to supply. It was a pleasure to look through such a glass, so
clear, and full of light, and firm; and one who could have borne to
be looked at through it, or examined even by a microscope, came now to
enjoy that pleasure.

Miss Dolly Darling could not be happy--though her chief point was to
be so--without a little bit of excitement, though it were of her own
construction. Her imagination, being bright and tender and lively,
rather than powerful, was compelled to make its own material, out of
very little stuff sometimes. She was always longing for something sweet
and thrilling and romantic, and what chance of finding it in this
dull place, even with the longest telescope? For the war, with all its
stirring rumors and perpetual motion on shore and sea, and access of
gallant visitors, was gone for the moment, and dull peace was signed.

This evening, as yet, there seemed little chance of anything to enliven
her. The village, in the valley and up the stream, was hidden by turns
of the land and trees; her father's house beneath the hill crest was out
of sight and hearing; not even a child was on the beach; and the only
movement was of wavelets leisurely advancing toward the sea-wall fringed
with tamarisk. The only thing she could hope to see was the happy return
of the fishing-smacks, and perhaps the "London trader," inasmuch as the
fishermen (now released from fencible duty and from French alarm) did
their best to return on Saturday night to their moorings, their homes,
the disposal of fish, and then the deep slumber of Sunday. If the breeze
should enable them to round the Head, and the tide avail for landing,
the lane to the village, the beach, and even the sea itself would swarm
with life and bustle and flurry and incident. But Dolly's desire was for
scenes more warlike and actors more august than these.

Beauty, however, has an eye for beauty beyond its own looking-glass.
Deeply as Dolly began to feel the joy of her own loveliness, she had
managed to learn, and to feel as well, that so far as the strength and
vigor of beauty may compare with its grace and refinement, she had
her own match at Springhaven. Quite a hardworking youth, of no social
position and no needless education, had such a fine countenance and such
bright eyes that she neither could bear to look at him nor forbear to
think of him. And she knew that if the fleet came home she would see him
on board of the Rosalie.

Flinging on a shelf the small white hat which had scarcely covered her
dark brown curls, she lifted and shored with a wooden prop the southern
casement of leaded glass. This being up, free range was given to the
swinging telescope along the beach to the right and left, and over the
open sea for miles, and into the measureless haze of air. She could
manage this glass to the best advantage, through her father's teaching,
and could take out the slide and clean the lenses, and even part the
object-glass, and refix it as well as possible. She belonged to the
order of the clever virgins, but scarcely to that of the wise ones.



CHAPTER II

WITH HER CREW AND CARGO


Long after the time of those who write and those who read this history,
the name of Zebedee Tugwell will be flourishing at Springhaven.

To achieve unmerited honor is the special gift of thousands, but to
deserve and win befalls some few in every century, and one of these few
was Zebedee. To be the head-man of any other village, and the captain of
its fishing fleet, might prove no lofty eminence; but to be the leader
of Springhaven was true and arduous greatness. From Selsey Bill to
Orfordness, taking in all the Cinque Ports and all the port of London,
there was not a place that insisted on, and therefore possessed, all
its own rights so firmly as this village did. Not less than seven stout
fishing-smacks--six of them sloops, and the seventh a dandy--formed the
marine power of this place, and behaved as one multiplied by seven. All
the bold fishermen held their line from long-established ancestry, and
stuck to the stock of their grandfathers, and their wisdom and freedom
from prejudice. Strength was condensed into clear law with them--as
sinew boils down into jelly--and character carried out its force as the
stamp of solid impress. What the father had been, the son became, as the
generation squared itself, and the slates for the children to do their
copies were the tombstones of their granddads. Thus brave Etruria grew,
and thus the Rome which was not built in a day became the flower of the
world, and girt in unity of self seven citadels.

There was Roman blood--of the Tenth Legion, perhaps--in the general
vein of Springhaven. There was scarcely a man who pretended to know much
outside of his own business, and there was not a woman unable to
wait (when her breath was quite gone) for sound reason. Solidity,
self-respect, pure absence of frivolous humor, ennobled the race and
enabled them to hold together, so that everybody not born in Springhaven
might lament, but never repair, his loss.

This people had many ancient rules befitting a fine corporation, and
among them were the following: "Never do a job for a stranger; sleep in
your own bed when you can; be at home in good time on a Saturday; never
work harder than you need; throw your fish away rather than undersell
it; answer no question, but ask another; spend all your money among your
friends; and above all, never let any stranger come a-nigh your proper
fishing ground, nor land any fish at Springhaven."

These were golden laws, and made a snug and plump community. From the
Foreland to the Isle of Wight their nets and lines were sacred, and no
other village could be found so thriving, orderly, well-conducted, and
almost well-contented. For the men were not of rash enterprise, hot
labor, or fervid ambition; and although they counted things by money,
they did not count one another so. They never encouraged a friend to
work so hard as to grow too wealthy, and if he did so, they expected him
to grow more generous than he liked to be. And as soon as he failed upon
that point, instead of adoring, they growled at him, because every one
of them might have had as full a worsted stocking if his mind had been
small enough to forget the difference betwixt the land and sea, the tide
of labor and the time of leisure.

To these local and tribal distinctions they added the lofty expansion of
sons of the sea. The habit of rising on the surge and falling into the
trough behind it enables a biped, as soon as he lands, to take things
that are flat with indifference. His head and legs have got into a state
of firm confidence in one another, and all these declare--with the rest
of the body performing as chorus gratis--that now they are come to a
smaller affair, upon which they intend to enjoy themselves. So that,
while strenuous and quick of movement--whenever they could not help
it--and sometimes even brisk of mind (if anybody strove to cheat them),
these men generally made no griefs beyond what they were born to.

Zebedee Tugwell was now their chief, and well deserved to be so. Every
community of common-sense demands to have somebody over it, and nobody
could have felt ashamed to be under Captain Tugwell. He had built with
his own hands, and bought--for no man's work is his own until he has
paid for as well as made it--the biggest and smartest of all the fleet,
that dandy-rigged smack, the Rosalie. He was proud of her, as he well
might be, and spent most of his time in thinking of her; but even she
was scarcely up to the size of his ideas. "Stiff in the joints," he now
said daily--"stiff in the joints is my complaint, and I never would have
believed it. But for all that, you shall see, my son, if the Lord should
spare you long enough, whether I don't beat her out and out with the
craft as have been in my mind this ten year."

But what man could be built to beat Zebedee himself, in an age like
this, when yachts and men take the prize by profundity of false keel?
Tugwell yearned for no hot speed in his friends, or his house, or his
wife, or his walk, or even his way of thinking. He had seen more harm
come from one hour's hurry than a hundred years of care could cure, and
the longer he lived the more loath he grew to disturb the air around
him.

"Admirable Nelson," he used to say--for his education had not been so
large as the parts allotted to receive it; "to my mind he is a brave
young man, with great understanding of his dooties. But he goeth too
fast, without clearing of his way. With a man like me 'longside of 'un,
he'd have brought they boats out of Bulong. See how I brings my boats
in, most particular of a Saturday!"

It was Saturday now, when Miss Dolly was waiting to see this great
performance, of which she considered herself, as the daughter of
an admiral, no mean critic. And sure enough, as punctual as in a
well-conducted scheme of war, and with nice forecast of wind and tide,
and science of the supper-time, around the westward headland came the
bold fleet of Springhaven!

Seven ships of the line--the fishing line--arranged in perfect order,
with the Rosalie as the flag-ship leading, and three upon either
quarter, in the comfort and leisure of the new-born peace, they spread
their sails with sunshine. Even the warlike Dolly could not help some
thoughts of peacefulness, and a gentle tide of large good-will submerged
the rocks of glory.

"Why should those poor men all be killed?" she asked herself, as a new
thing, while she made out, by their faces, hats, fling of knee or
elbow, patch upon breeches, or sprawl of walking toward the attentive
telescope, pretty nearly who everybody of them was, and whatever else
there was about him. "After all, it is very hard," she said, "that they
should have to lose their lives because the countries fight so."

But these jolly fellows had no idea of losing their lives, or a hair of
their heads, or anything more than their appetites, after waging hot
war upon victuals. Peace was proclaimed, and peace was reigning; and
the proper British feeling of contempt for snivelly Frenchmen, which
produces the entente cordiale, had replaced the wholesome dread of them.
Not that Springhaven had ever known fear, but still it was glad to leave
off terrifying the enemy. Lightness of heart and good-will prevailed,
and every man's sixpence was going to be a shilling.

In the tranquil afternoon the sun was making it clear to the coast
of Albion that he had crossed the line once more, and rediscovered a
charming island. After a chilly and foggy season, worse than a brave
cold winter, there was joy in the greeting the land held out, and in the
more versatile expression of the sea. And not beneath the contempt of
one who strives to get into everything, were the creases and patches of
the sails of smacks, and the pattern of the resin-wood they called their
masts, and even the little striped things (like frogs with hats on, in
the distance) which had grown to believe themselves the only object the
sun was made to shine upon.

But he shone upon the wide sea far behind, and the broad stretch of
land before them, and among their slowly gliding canvas scattered soft
touches of wandering light. Especially on the spritsail of the Rosalie,
whereunder was sitting, with the tiller in his hand and a very long pipe
in his mouth, Captain Zebedee Tugwell. His mighty legs were spread at
ease, his shoulders solid against a cask, his breast (like an elephant's
back in width, and bearing a bright blue crown tattooed) shone out of
the scarlet woolsey, whose plaits were filled with the golden shower of
a curly beard, untouched with gray. And his face was quite as worthy as
the substance leading up to it, being large and strengthful and slow to
move, though quick to make others do so. The forehead was heavy, and the
nose thickset, the lower jaw backed up the resolution of the other, and
the wide apart eyes, of a bright steel blue, were as steady as a brace
of pole-stars.

"What a wonderful man!" fair Dolly thought, as the great figure, looking
even grander in the glass, came rising upon a long slow wave--"what a
wonderful man that Tugwell is! So firmly resolved to have his own way,
so thoroughly dauntless, and such a grand beard! Ten times more like an
admiral than old Flapfin or my father is, if he only knew how to hold
his pipe. There is something about him so dignified, so calm, and so
majestic; but, for all that, I like the young man better. I have a great
mind to take half a peep at him; somebody might ask whether he was there
or not."

Being a young and bashful maid, as well as by birth a lady, she had
felt that it might be a very nice thing to contemplate sailors in the
distance, abstract sailors, old men who pulled ropes, or lounged on the
deck, if there was one. But to steal an unsuspected view at a young man
very well known to her, and acknowledged (not only by his mother
and himself, but also by every girl in the parish) as the Adonis of
Springhaven--this was a very different thing, and difficult to justify
even to one's self. The proper plan, therefore, was to do it, instead of
waiting to consider it.

"How very hard upon him it does seem," she whispered to herself, after a
good gaze at him, "that he must not even dream of having any hope of
me, because he has not happened to be born a gentleman! But he looks a
thousand times more like one than nine out of ten of the great gentlemen
I know--or at any rate he would if his mother didn't make his clothes."

For Zebedee Tugwell had a son called "Dan," as like him as a tender pea
can be like a tough one; promising also to be tough, in course of time,
by chafing of the world and weather. But at present Dan Tugwell was as
tender to the core as a marrowfat dallying till its young duck should be
ready; because Dan was podding into his first love. To the sympathetic
telescope his heart was low, and his mind gone beyond astronomical
range, and his hands (instead of briskly pairing soles) hung asunder,
and sprawled like a star-fish.

"Indeed he does look sad," said Miss Dolly, "he is thinking of me, as
he always does; but I don't see how anybody can blame me. But here comes
daddy, with dear old Flapfin! I am not a bit afraid of either of them;
but perhaps I had better run away."



CHAPTER III

AND HER TRUE COMMANDER


The nature of "Flapfin"--as Miss Dolly Darling and other young people
were pleased to call him--was to make his enemies run away, but his
friends keep very near to him. He was one of the simplest-minded men
that ever trod the British oak. Whatever he thought he generally said;
and whatever he said he meant and did. Yet of tricks and frauds he had
quick perception, whenever they were tried against him, as well as a
marvellous power of seeing the shortest way to everything. He enjoyed a
little gentle piece of vanity, not vainglory, and he never could sec any
justice in losing the credit of any of his exploits. Moreover, he was
gifted with the highest faith in the hand of the Almighty over him (to
help him in all his righteous deeds), and over his enemies, to destroy
them. Though he never insisted on any deep piety in his own behavior, he
had a good deal in his heart when time allowed, and the linstocks were
waiting the signal. His trust was supreme in the Lord and himself; and
he loved to be called "My Lord Admiral."

And a man of this noble type deserved to be met with his own nobility.
But the English government, according to its lights--which appear to be
everlasting--regarded him as the right man, when wanted, but at other
times the wrong one. They liked him to do them a very good turn, but
would not let him do himself one; and whenever he looked for some fair
chance of a little snug prize-money, they took him away from the likely
places, and set him to hard work and hard knocks. But his sense of duty
and love of country enabled him to bear it, with grumbling.

"I don't care a rope's end," he was saying, with a truthfulness simple
and solid as beefsteak is, "whether we have peace or war; but let
us have one or the other of them. I love peace--it is a very fine
thing--and I hate to see poor fellows killed. All I want is to spend the
rest of my life ashore, and lay out the garden. You must come and see
what a bridge I have made to throw across the fish-pond. I can do well
enough with what I have got, as soon as my farm begins to pay, and I
hope I may never hear another shotted cannon; but, my dear Lingo, you
know as well as I do how much chance there is of that."

"Laudo manentem. Let us praise her while we have got her. Parson Twemlow
keeps up my Latin, but you have forgotten all yours, my friend. I
brought you down here to see the fish come in, and to choose what you
like best for dinner. In the days when you were my smallest youngster,
and as proud as Punch to dine with me, your taste was the finest in the
ship, because your stomach was the weakest. How often I thought that the
fish would eat you! and but for your wonderful spirit, my friend, that
must have happened long ago. But your nature was to fight, and you
fought through, as you always do. A drumstick for your praise of peace!"

Admiral Darling, a tall, stout man in the sixty-fifth year of his age,
looked down at his welcome and famous guest as if he knew a great deal
more of his nature than the owner did. And this made that owner, who
thought very highly of his own perception, look up and laugh.

"Here comes the fish!" he cried. "Come along, Darling. Never lose a
moment--that's my rule. You can't get along as fast as I can. I'll go
and settle all the business for you."

"Why should you be in such a hurry always? You will never come to my
age if you carry on so. You ought to tow a spar astern. Thank God, they
don't know who he is, and I'll take good care not to let them know. If
this is what comes of quick promotion, I am glad that I got on slowly.
Well, he may do as he likes for me. He always does--that's one thing."

Stoutly grumbling thus, the elder and far heavier Admiral descended the
hill to the white gate slowly, as behooved the owner. And, by the time
he halted there, the other had been upon the beach five minutes, and
taken command of the fishing fleet.

"Starboard there! Brail up your gaff! Is that the way to take the
ground? Ease helm, Rosalie. Smartly, smartly. Have a care, you lubber
there. Fenders out! So, so. Now stand by, all! There are two smart
lads among you, and no more. All the rest are no better than a pack
of Crappos. You want six months in a man-of-war's launch. This is what
comes of peace already!"

The fishermen stared at this extraordinary man, who had taken all the
business out of Master Tugwell's hands; but without thinking twice about
it, all obeyed him with a speed that must have robbed them of a quantity
of rust. For although he was not in uniform, and bore no sword, his
dress was conspicuous, as he liked to have it, and his looks and deeds
kept suit with it. For he wore a blue coat (very badly made, with gilt
buttons and lappets too big for him), a waistcoat of dove-colored silk,
very long, coming over the place where his stomach should have been, and
white plush breeches, made while he was blockading Boulogne in 1801, and
therefore had scarcely any flesh upon his bones. Peace having fattened
him a little, these breeches had tightened upon him (as their way is
with a boy having six weeks' holiday); but still they could not make his
legs look big, though they showed them sharp and muscular. Below them
were brisk little sinewy calves in white silk hose, with a taper descent
to ankles as fine as a lady's, and insteps bright with large silver
buckles. Yet that which surpassed all the beauty of the clothes was the
vigor of the man inside them, who seemed to quicken and invigorate the
whole, even to the right sleeve, doubled up from the want of any arm
inside it. But the loss of the right arm, and the right eye also, seemed
to be of no account to the former owner, so hard did he work with the
residue of his body, and so much did he express with it.

His noble cocked hat was in its leathern box yet, for he was only just
come from Merton; but the broad felt he wore was looped up in front,
and displayed all the power of his countenance, or rather the vigor; for
power is heavy, and his face was light and quickness. Softness also, and
a melancholy gift of dreaminess and reflection, enlarged and impressed
the effect of a gaze and a smile which have conquered history.

"Why don't 'ee speak up to 'un, Cap'en Zeb?" cried young Harry Shanks,
of the Peggy, the smartest smack next to the Rosalie. "Whoever can 'a
be, to make thee so dumb? Doth 'a know our own business afore our own
selves? If 'ee don't speak up to 'un, Cap'en Zeb, I'll never take no
more commands from thee."

"Harry Shanks, you was always a fool, and you always will be," Master
Tugwell replied, with his deep chest voice, which no gale of wind could
blow away. "Whether he be wrong or right--and I won't say but what I
might have done it better--none but a fool like you would dare to set
his squeak up against Admirable Lord Nelson."



CHAPTER IV

AND HER FAITHFUL CHAPLAIN


"I am not a man of the world, but a man of the Word," said Parson
Twemlow, the Rector of Springhaven; "and I shall not feel that I have
done my duty unless I stir him up to-morrow. His valor and glory are
nothing to me, nor even his value to the country. He does his duty, and
I shall do mine. It is useless to talk to me, Maria; I never shall have
such a chance again."

"Well, dear, you know best," replied Mrs. Twemlow; "and duty is always
the highest and best and most sacred consideration. But you surely
should remember, for Eliza's sake, that we never shall dine at the Hall
again."

"I don't care a snap for their dinners, or the chance of Eliza catching
some young officer; and very few come while this peace goes on. I won't
shirk my duty for any of that."

"Nothing would ever make you shirk your duty, Joshua. And I hope that
you know me too well to suppose that I ever would dream of suggesting
it. But I do want to see you a Canon, and I know that he begins to have
influence in the Church, and therefore the Church is not at all the
place to allude to his private affairs in. And, after all, what do we
know about them? It does seem so low to be led away by gossip."

"Maria," said the Rector, severely sorry, "I must beg you to leave me
to my conscience. I shall not refer to his private affairs. I shall put
leading truths in a general way, and let him make the home application."

"Put the cap on if it fits. Very well: you will injure yourself, and do
no one any good. Lord Nelson won't know it; he is too simple-minded.
But Admiral Darling will never forgive us for insulting him while he is
staying at the Hall."

"Maria! Well, I have long given up all attempts at reasoning with
you. If I see a man walking into a furnace, do I insult him by saying
beware?"

"As I am beyond all reason, Joshua, it is far above me to understand
that. But if you escape insulting him, what you do is far worse, and
quite unlike a gentleman. You heap a whole pile of insults upon your own
brother clergymen."

"I do not at all understand you, Maria: you fly off in such a way from
one thing to another!"

"Not at all. Anybody who is not above paying attention must understand
me. When he is at Merton he goes to church, and his Rector is bound to
look after him. When he is at sea, he has his Chaplain, who preaches
whenever the weather permits, and dare not neglect his duties. But the
strongest point of all is this--his very own father and brother are
clergymen, and bound to do their best for him. All these you insult,
and in so many words condemn for neglecting their duty, because you are
unable to resist the pleasure of a stray shot at a celebrated man when
he comes down here for hospitality."

"My dear, you have put the matter in a new light," said the Rev. Joshua
Twemlow; "I would be the last man in the world to cast a slur upon any
brother clergyman. But it is a sad denial to me, because I had put it so
neatly, and a line of Latin at the end of it."

"Never mind, dear. That will do for some one else who deserves it, and
has got no influence. And if you could only put instead of it one of
your beautifully turned expressions about our debt of gratitude to the
noble defender of our country--"

"No, no, Maria!" said her husband, with a smile; "be content without
pushing your victory further than Nelson himself would push it. It may
be my duty to spare him, but I will not fall down and worship him."

Joshua Twemlow, Bachelor of Divinity, was not very likely to worship
anybody, nor even to admire, without due cause shown. He did not pretend
to be a learned man, any more than he made any other pretense which he
could not justify. But he loved a bit of Latin, whenever he could find
anybody to share it with him, and even in lack of intelligent partners
he indulged sometimes in that utterance. This was a grievance to the
Squire of the parish, because he was expected to enjoy at ear-shot that
which had passed out of the other ear in boyhood, with a painful echo
behind it. But the Admiral had his revenge by passing the Rector's bits
of Latin on--when he could remember them--to some one entitled to an
explanation, which he, with a pleasant smile, vouchsafed. This is one of
the many benefits of a classical education.

But what are such little tags, compared with the pith and marrow of the
man himself? Parson Twemlow was no prig, no pedant, and no popinjay,
but a sensible, upright, honorable man, whose chief defect was a quick
temper. In parish affairs he loved to show his independence of the Hall,
and having a stronger will than Admiral Darling, he mostly conquered
him. But he knew very well how far to go, and never pressed the
supremacy of the Church beyond endurance.

His wife, who was one of the Carnes of Carne Castle, some few miles
to the westward, encouraged him strongly in holding his own when the
Admiral strove to override him. That was her manner of putting the
case; while Admiral Darling would rather have a score of nightmares than
override any one. But the Carnes were a falling as much as the Darlings
were a rising family, and offense comes down the hill like stones
dislodged by the upward traveller. Mrs. Twemlow knew nothing she
disliked so much as any form of haughtiness; it was so small, so petty,
so opposed to all true Christianity. And this made her think that the
Darlings were always endeavoring to patronize her--a thing she would
much rather die than put up with.

This excellent couple had allowed, however, their only son Erle, a
very fine young man, to give his heart entirely to Faith Darling, the
Admiral's eldest daughter, and to win hers to an equal extent; and
instead of displaying any haughtiness, her father had simply said: "Let
them wait two years; they are both very young, and may change their
minds. If they keep of the same mind for two years, they are welcome to
one another."

For a kinder-hearted man than Admiral Darling never saw the sun.
There was nothing about him wonderful in the way of genius, heroism,
large-mindedness, or unselfishness. But people liked him much better
than if he combined all those vast rarities; because he was lively,
genial, simple, easily moved to wrath or grief, free-handed, a little
fond, perhaps, of quiet and confidential brag, and very fond of gossip.

"I tell you," he said to Lord Nelson now, as they walked down the hill
to the church together that lovely Sunday morning, "you will not have
seen a finer sight than our fishermen in church--I dare say never.
Of course they don't all go. Nobody could expect it. But as many as a
reasonable man could desire come there, because they know I like it.
Twemlow thinks that they come to please him; but he finds a mighty
difference in his congregation when I and my daughters are out of the
parish. But if he goes away, there they are all the same, or perhaps
even more, to get a change from him. That will show which of us they
care about pleasing."

"And they are quite right. I hate the levelling system," the hero of the
Nile replied. "A man should go to church to please his landlord, not to
please the parson. Is the Chaplain to settle how many come to prayers?"

"That is the right way to look at the thing," said the larger-bodied
Admiral; "and I only wish Twemlow could have heard you. I asked him to
dine with us yesterday, as you know, because you would have done him so
much good; but he sent some trumpery excuse, although his wife was asked
to come with him. She stopped him, no doubt; to look big, I dare say; as
if they could dine with a Lord Nelson every day!"

"They can do that every day, when they dine with a man who has done his
duty. But where is my pretty godchild Dolly? Horatia seems too long for
you. What a long name they gave me! It may have done very well for my
granduncle. But, my dear Lingo, look sharp for your Dolly. She has no
mother, nor even a duenna--she has turned her off, she said yesterday.
Your daughter Faith is an angel, but Dolly--"

"My Dolly is a little devil, I suppose! You always found out everything.
What have you found my Dolly at? Perhaps she got it at her baptism." A
word against his pet child was steel upon flint to Admiral Darling.

"I am not concerned with your opinion," Lord Nelson answered, loftily.
"But Horatia Dorothy Darling is my godchild by baptism, and you will
find her down in my will for a thousand pounds, if she behaves well,
and if it should please the Lord to send me some of the prize-money I
deserve."

This was announced in such a manner, with the future testator's useful
eye bearing brightly on his comrade, and his cocked hat lifted as he
spoke of the great Awarder of prizes, that no one able to smile could
help a friendly and simple smile at him. So Admiral Darling forgot his
wrath, which never had long memory, and scorning even to look round for
Dolly, in whom he felt such confidence, took the mighty warrior by the
good arm and led him toward the peaceful bells.

"Hurry; we shall be late," he said. "You remember when we called you
'Hurry,' because of being always foremost? But they know better than to
stop the bells till they see me in the church porch. Twemlow wanted to
upset that, for the parsons want to upset everything. And I said: 'Very
well; then I shall square it by locking the gate from your shrubbery.
That will give me five minutes to come down the hill.' For my
grandfather put up that gate, you must know, and of course the key
belongs to me. It saves Twemlow a cable's-length every time, and the
parsons go to church so often now, he would have to make at least
another knot a month. So the bells go on as they used to do. How many
bells do you make it, Mr. Nelson?"

"Eight bells, sir," Lord Nelson replied, saluting like the middy in
charge of the watch. And at this little turn they both laughed, and went
on, with memory of ancient days, to church.



CHAPTER V

OPINION, MALE AND FEMALE


The fine young parsons of the present generation are too fond of asking
us why we come to church, and assigning fifty reasons out of their own
heads, not one of which is to our credit or theirs; whereas their proper
business is to cure the fish they have caught, instead of asking how
they caught them. Mr. Twemlow had sense enough for this, and treated the
largest congregation he had ever preached to as if they were come for
the good of their souls, and should have it, in spite of Lord Nelson.
But, alas! their bodies fared not so well, and scarcely a man got his
Sunday dinner according to his liking. Never a woman would stay by the
fire for the sake of a ten-pound leg of mutton, and the baker put his
shutters up at half past ten against every veal pie and every loin
of pork. Because in the church there would be seen this day (as the
servants at the Hall told every one) the man whom no Englishman could
behold without pride, and no Frenchman with it--the victor of the Nile,
and of Copenhagen, and countless other conflicts. Knowing that he would
be stared at well, he was equal to the occasion, and the people who saw
him were so proud of the sight that they would talk of it now if they
were alive.

But those who were not there would exhibit more confidence than
conscience by describing every item of his raiment, which verily even
of those who beheld it none could do well, except a tailor or a woman.
Enough that he shone in the light of the sun (which came through a
windowful of bull's-eyes upon him, and was surprised to see stars by
daylight), but the glint of his jewels and glow of his gold diverted no
eye from the calm, sad face which in the day of battle could outflash
them all. That sensitive, mild, complaisant face (humble, and even
homely now, with scathe and scald and the lines of middle age) presented
itself as a great surprise to the many who came to gaze at it. With
its child-like simplicity and latent fire, it was rather the face of a
dreamer and poet than of a warrior and hero.

Mrs. Cheeseman, the wife of Mr. Cheeseman, who kept the main shop in
the village, put this conclusion into better English, when Mrs. Shanks
(Harry's mother) came on Monday to buy a rasher and compare opinions.

"If I could have fetched it to my mind," she said, "that Squire Darling
were a tarradiddle, and all his wenches liars--which some of them be,
and no mistake--and if I could refuse my own eyes about gold-lace, and
crown jewels, and arms off, happier would I sleep in my bed, ma'am,
every night the Lord seeth good for it. I would sooner have found
hoppers in the best ham in the shop than have gone to church so to
delude myself. But there! that Cheeseman would make me do it. I did
believe as we had somebody fit to do battle for us against Boney, and I
laughed about all they invasion and scares. But now--why, 'a can't say
bo to a goose! If 'a was to come and stand this moment where you be
a-standing, and say, 'Mrs. Cheeseman, I want a fine rasher,' not a bit
of gristle would I trim out, nor put it up in paper for him, as I do for
you, ma'am."

And Widow Shanks quite agreed with her.

"Never can I tell you what my feelings was, when I seed him a-standing
by the monument, ma'am. But I said to myself--'why, my poor John, as is
now in heaven, poor fellow, would 'a took you up with one hand, my lord,
stars and garters and crowns and all, and put you into his sow-west
pocket.' And so he could have done, Mrs. Cheeseman."

But the opinion of the men was different, because they knew a bee from a
bull's foot.

"He may not be so very big," they said, "nor so outrageous thunderin',
as the missus looked out for from what she have read. They always goes
by their own opinions, and wrong a score of times out of twenty. But any
one with a fork to his leg can see the sort of stuff he is made of. He
'tended his duty in the house of the Lord, and he wouldn't look after
the women; but he kept his live eye upon every young chap as were fit
for a man-of-war's-man--Dan Tugwell especial, and young Harry Shanks.
You see if he don't have both of they afore ever the war comes on
again!"

Conscious of filling the public eye, with the privilege of being upon
private view, Lord Nelson had faced the position without flinching, and
drawn all the fire of the enemy. After that he began to make reprisals,
according to his manner, taking no trouble to regard the women--which
debarred them from thinking much of him--but settling with a steady
gaze at each sea-faring man, whether he was made of good stuff or of
pie-crust. And to the credit of the place it must be said that he found
very little of that soft material, but plenty of good stuff, slow,
perhaps, and heavy, but needing only such a soul as his to rouse it.

"What a fine set of fellows you have in your village!" he said to Miss
Darling after dinner, as she sat at the head of her father's table,
for the Admiral had long been a widower. "The finest I have seen on
the south coast anywhere. And they look as if they had been under some
training. I suppose your father had most of them in the Fencibles, last
summer?"

"Not one of them," Faith answered, with a sweet smile of pride. "They
have their own opinions, and nothing will disturb them. Nobody could get
them to believe for a moment that there was any danger of invasion. And
they carried on all their fishing business almost as calmly as they do
now. For that, of course, they may thank you, Lord Nelson; but they have
not the smallest sense of the obligation."

"I am used to that, as your father knows; but more among the noble than
the simple. For the best thing I ever did I got no praise, or at any
rate very little. As to the Boulogne affair, Springhaven was quite
right. There was never much danger of invasion. I only wish the villains
would have tried it. Horatia, would you like to see your godfather at
work? I hope not. Young ladies should be peaceful."

"Then I am not peaceful at all," cried Dolly, who was sitting by the
maimed side of her "Flapfin," as her young brother Johnny had nicknamed
him. "Why, if there was always peace, what on earth would any but very
low people find to do? There could scarcely be an admiral, or a general,
or even a captain, or--well, a boy to beat the drums."

"But no drum would want to be beaten, Horatia," her elder sister Faith
replied, with the superior mind of twenty-one; "and the admirals and the
generals would have to be--"

"Doctors, or clergymen, or something of that sort, or perhaps even
worse--nasty lawyers." Then Dolly (whose name was "Horatia" only
in presence of her great godfather) blushed, as befitted the age of
seventeen, at her daring, and looked at her father.

"That last cut was meant for me," Frank Darling, the eldest of the
family, explained from the opposite side of the table. "Your lordship,
though so well known to us, can hardly be expected to know or remember
all the little particulars of our race. We are four, as you know; and
the elder two are peaceful, while the younger pair are warlike. And I
am to be the 'nasty lawyer,' called to the bar in the fullness of
time--which means after dining sufficiently--to the great disgust of
your little godchild, whose desire from her babyhood has been to get me
shot."

"LITTLE, indeed! What a word to use about me! You told a great story.
But now you'll make it true."

"To wit--as we say at Lincoln's Inn--she has not longed always for my
death in battle, but henceforth will do so; but I never shall afford
her that gratification. I shall keep out of danger as zealously as your
lordship rushes into it."

"Franky going on, I suppose, with some of his usual nonsense," Admiral
Darling, who was rather deaf, called out from the bottom of the table.
"Nobody pays much attention to him, because he does not mean a word of
it. He belongs to the peace--peace--peace-at-any-price lot. But when a
man wanted to rob him last winter, he knocked him down, and took him by
the throat, and very nearly killed him."

"That's the only game to play," exclaimed Lord Nelson, who had been
looking at Frank Darling with undisguised disgust. "My young friend, you
are not such a fool after all. And why should you try to be one?"

"My brother," said the sweet-tempered Faith, "never tries to be a fool,
Lord Nelson; he only tries to be a poet."

This made people laugh; and Nelson, feeling that he had been rude to a
youth who could not fairly answer him, jumped from his chair with the
lightness of a boy, and went round to Frank Darling, with his thin
figure leaning forward, and his gray unpowdered hair tossed about, and
upon his wrinkled face that smile which none could ever resist, because
it was so warm and yet so sad.

"Shake hands, my dear young friend," he cried, "though I can not offer
the right one. I was wrong to call you a fool because you don't look at
things as I do. Poets are almost as good as sailors, and a great deal
better than soldiers. I have felt a gift that way myself, and turned out
some very tidy lines. But I believe they were mainly about myself, and I
never had time to go on with them."

Such little touches of simplicity and kindness, from a man who never
knew the fear of men, helped largely to produce that love of Nelson
which England felt, and will always feel.

"My lord," replied the young man, bending low--for he was half a cubit
higher than the mighty captain--"it is good for the world that you have
no right arm, when you disarm it so with your left one."



CHAPTER VI

AS OTHERS SEE US


Admiral Darling was very particular in trying to keep his grounds and
garden tolerably tidy always. But he never succeeded, for the simple
reason that he listened to every one's excuses; and not understanding a
walk or a lawn half so well as the deck of a battle-ship, he was always
defeated in argument.

"Here's a state of things!" he used to say in summer-time; "thistles
full of seed within a biscuit-heave of my front door, and other
things--I forget their names--with heads like the head of a capstan
bursting, all as full of seeds as a purser is of lies!"

"Your lordship do not understand them subjects," Mr. Swipes, the head
gardener, was in the habit of replying; "and small blame to you, in my
opinion, after so many years upon the briny wave. Ah! they can't grow
them things there."

"Swipes, that is true, but to my mind not at all a satisfactory reason
for growing them here, just in front of the house and the windows. I
don't mind a few in the kitchen-garden, but you know as well as I do,
Swipes, that they can have no proper business here."

"I did hear tell down to the Club, last night," Mr. Swipes would reply,
after wiping his forehead, as if his whole mind were perspired away,
"though I don't pretend to say how far true it may be, that all the
land of England is to be cultivated for the public good, same as on
the continence, without no propriety or privacy, my lord. But I don't
altogether see how they be to do it. So I thought I'd better ask your
lordship."

"For the public good! The public-house good, you mean." The Admiral
answered nine times out of ten, being easily led from the track of his
wrath, and tired of telling Swipes that he was not a lord. "How
many times more must I tell you, Swipes, that I hate that Jacobin
association? Can you tell me of one seaman belonging to it? A set of
fish-jobbers, and men with barrows, and cheap-jacks from up the country.
Not one of my tenants would be such a fool as to go there, even if I
allowed him. I make great allowances for you, Swipes, because of your
obstinate nature. But don't let me hear of that Club any more, or YOU
may go and cultivate for the public good."

"Your lordship knows that I goes there for nothing except to keep up my
burial. And with all the work there is upon this place, the Lord only
knows when I may be requiring of it. Ah! I never see the like; I never
did. And a blade of grass the wrong way comes down on poor old Swipes!"

Hereupon the master, having done his duty, was relieved from overdoing
it, and went on other business with a peaceful mind. The feelings,
however, of Mr. Swipes were not to be appeased so lightly, but demanded
the immediate satisfaction of a pint of beer. And so large was his
charity that if his master fell short of duty upon that point, he
accredited him with the good intention, and enabled him to discharge it.

"My dear soul," he said, with symptoms of exhaustion, to good Mrs.
Cloam, the housekeeper, who had all the keys at her girdle, about ten
o'clock on the Monday morning, "what a day we did have yesterday!"

"A mercy upon me, Mr. Swipes," cried Mrs. Cloam, who was also short of
breath, "how you did exaggerate my poor narves, a-rushing up so soft,
with the cold steel in both your hands!"

"Ah! ma'am, it have right to be a good deal wuss than that," the
chivalrous Swipes made answer, with the scythe beside his ear. "It don't
consarn what the masters say, though enough to take one's legs off. But
the ladies, Mrs. Cloam, the ladies--it's them as takes our heads off."

"Go 'long with you, Mr. Swipes! You are so disastrous at turning things.
And how much did he say you was to have this time? Here's Jenny Shanks
coming up the passage."

"Well, he left it to myself; he have that confidence in me. And little
it is I should ever care to take, with the power of my own will, ma'am.
Why, the little brown jug, ma'am, is as much as I can manage even of our
small beer now. Ah! I know the time when I would no more have thought
of rounding of my mouth for such small stuff than of your growing up,
ma'am, to be a young woman with the sponsorship of this big place upon
you. Wonderful! wonderful! And only yesterday, as a man with a gardening
mind looks at it, you was the prettiest young maiden on the green, and
the same--barring marriage--if you was to encounter with the young men
now."

"Oh," said Mrs. Cloam, who was fifty, if a day, "how you do make me
think of sad troubles, Mr. Swipes! Jenny, take the yellow jug with the
three beef-eaters on it, and go to the third cask from the door--the key
turns upside down, mind--and let me hear you whistle till you bring me
back the key. Don't tell me nonsense about your lips being dry. You can
whistle like a blackbird when you choose."

"Here's to your excellent health, Mrs. Cloam, and as blooming as it
finds you now, ma'am! As pretty a tap as I taste since Christmas, and
another dash of malt would 'a made it worthy a'most to speak your health
in. Well, ma'am, a leetle drop in crystal for yourself, and then for
my business, which is to inquire after your poor dear health to-day.
Blooming as you are, ma'am, you must bear in mind that beauty is only
skin-deep, Mrs. Cloam; and the purtier a flower is, the more delicate it
grows. I've a-been a-thinking of you every night, ma'am, knowing how
you must 'a been put about and driven. The Admiral have gone down to the
village, and Miss Dolly to stare at the boats going out."

"Then I may speak a word for once at ease, Mr. Swipes, though the Lord
alone knows what a load is on my tongue. It requires a fine gardener,
being used to delicacy, to enter into half the worry we have to put up
with. Heroes of the Nile, indeed, and bucklers of the country! Why, he
could not buckle his own shoe, and Jenny Shanks had to do it for him.
Not that I blame him for having one arm, and a brave man he is to have
lost it, but that he might have said something about the things I got
up at a quarter to five every morning to make up for him. For cook is
no more than a smoke-jack, Mr. Swipes; if she keeps the joint turning,
that's as much as she can do."

"And a little too fond of good beer, I'm afeard," replied Mr. Swipes,
having emptied his pot. "Men's heads was made for it, but not women's,
till they come to superior stations in life. But, oh, Mrs. Cloam, what a
life we lead with the crotchets of they gentry!"

"It isn't that so much, Mr. Swipes, if only there was any way of giving
satisfaction. I wish everybody who is born to it to have the very best
of everything, likewise all who have fought up to it. But to make all
the things and have nothing made of them, whether indigestion or want
of appetite, turns one quite into the Negroes almost, that two or three
people go on with."

"I don't look at what he hath aten or left," Mr. Swipes made answer,
loftily; "that lieth between him and his own stommick. But what hath a'
left for me, ma'am? He hath looked out over the garden when he pleased,
and this time of year no weeds is up, and he don't know enough of things
to think nothing of them. When his chaise come down I was out by the
gate with a broom in my hand, and I pulled off my hat, but his eye never
seemed to lay hold of me."

"His eye lays hold of everything, whether he makes 'em feel or no.
One thing I'm sure of--he was quite up to Miss Dolly, and the way she
carries on with you know who, every blessed Sunday. If that is what they
go to church for--"

"But, my dear soul," said the genial Swipes, whose heart was enlarged
with the power of good beer, "when you and I was young folk, what did
we go to church for? I can't speak for you, ma'am, being ever so much
younger, and a baby in the gallery in long clothes, if born by that
time; but so far as myself goes, it was the girls I went to look at, and
most of 'em come as well to have it done to them."

"That never was my style, Mr. Swipes, though I know there were some not
above it. And amongst equals I won't say that there need be much harm
in it. But for a young man in the gallery, with a long stick of the
vile-base in his hand, and the only clean shirt of the week on his back,
and nothing but a plank of pitch to keep him, however good-looking he
may be, to be looking at the daughter, and the prettiest one too, though
not the best, some people think, of the gentleman that owns all the
houses and the haven--presumption is the smallest word that I can
find to use for it; and for her to allow it, fat--fat something in the
nation."

"Well, ma'am," said Mr. Swipes, whose views were loose and liberal, "it
seems a little shock at first to those on trust in families. But Dannel
is a brave boy, and might fight his way to glory, and then they has
the pick of the femmels up to a thousand pound a year. You know what
happened the miller's son, no further off than Upton. And if it hadn't
been for Dannel, when she was a little chit, where would proud Miss
Dolly be, with her feathers and her furbelows? Natur' is the thing
I holds by, and I sees a deal of it. And betwixt you and me and the
bedpost, ma'am, whoever hath Miss Dolly will have to ride to London on
this here scythe. Miss Faith is the lass for a good quiet man, without
no airs and graces, and to my judgment every bit as comely, and more
of her to hold on by. But the Lord 'a mercy upon us. Mrs. Cloam, you've
a-been married like my poor self; and you knows what we be, and we knows
what you be. Looks 'ain't much to do with it after the first week or
two. It's the cooking, and the natur', and the not going contrairy.
B'lieve Miss Dolly would go contrairy to a hangel, if her was j'ined to
him three days."

"Prejudice! prejudice!" the housekeeper replied, while shaking her
finger severely at him. "You ought to be above such opinions, Mr.
Swipes, a superior man, such as you are. If Miss Faith came into your
garden reading books, and finding fault here and there, and sniffing
at the flowers, a quarter so often as pretty Dolly does, perhaps you
wouldn't make such a perfect angel of her, and run down her sister in
comparison. But your wonderful Miss Faith comes peeping here and poking
there into pots and pans, and asking the maids how their mothers are, as
if her father kept no housekeeper. She provoked me so in the simple-room
last week, as if I was hiding thieves there, that I asked her at last
whether she expected to find Mr. Erle there. And you should have seen
how she burst out crying; for something had turned on her mind before."

"Well, I couldn't have said that to her," quoth the tender-hearted
Swipes--"not if she had come and routed out every key and every box,
pot, pan, and pannier in the tool-house and stoke-hole and vinery! The
pretty dear! the pretty dear! And such a lady as she is! Ah, you women
are hard-hearted to one another, when your minds are up! But take my
word for it, Mrs. Cloam, no one will ever have the chance of making your
beautiful Miss Dolly cry by asking her where her sweetheart is."



CHAPTER VII

A SQUADRON IN THE DOWNS


"My dear girls, all your courage is gone," said Admiral Darling to his
daughters at luncheon, that same Monday; "departed perhaps with Lord
Nelson and Frank. I hate the new style of such come-and-go visits, as
if there was no time for anything. Directly a man knows the ways of the
house, and you can take him easily, off he goes. Just like Hurry, he
never can stop quiet. He talks as if peace was the joy of his life, and
a quiet farm his paradise, and very likely he believes it. But my belief
is that a year of peace would kill him, now that he has made himself so
famous. When that sort of thing begins, it seems as if it must go on."

"But, father dear," exclaimed the elder daughter, "you could have done
every single thing that Lord Nelson has ever contrived to do, if you
had only happened to be there, and equally eager for destruction. I
have heard you say many times, though not of course before him, that you
could have managed the battle of the Nile considerably better than he
did. And instead of allowing the great vessel to blow up, you would have
brought her safe to Spithead."

"My dear, you must have quite misunderstood me. Be sure that you never
express such opinions, which are entirely your own, in the presence
of naval officers. Though I will not say that they are quite without
foundation."

"Why, papa," cried Miss Dolly, who was very truthful, when her own
interests were not involved, "you have often said twice as much as that.
How well I remember having heard you say--"

"You young people always back up one another, and you don't care what
you make your poor father say. I wonder you don't vow that I declared
I could jump over the moon with my uniform on. But I'll tell you what
we'll do, to bring back your senses--we will go for a long ride this
fine afternoon. I've a great mind to go as far as Stonnington."

"Now how many times have you told us that? I won't believe it till we
get there," young Dolly answered, with her bright eyes full of joy. "You
must be ashamed of yourself, papa, for neglecting your old friend's son
so long."

"Well, to tell you the truth, I am, my dear," confessed the good-natured
Admiral; "but no one but myself has the least idea of the quantity of
things I have to do."

"Exactly what old Swipes said this very morning, only much more
impressively. And I really did believe him, till I saw a yellow jug, and
a horn that holds a pint, in the summer-house. He threw his coat over
them, but it was too late."

"Dolly, I shall have to put you in the blackhole. You belong too much
to the rising generation, or the upstart generation is the proper word.
What would Lord Nelson say? I must have him back again. He is the man
for strict discipline."

"Oh, I want to ask one thing about my great godfather. You know he only
came down with one portmanteau, and his cocked-hat box, and two hampers.
But when I went into his bedroom to see, as a goddaughter should, that
his pillow was smooth, there he had got tacked up at the head of his
bed a picture of some very beautiful lady, and another at the side, and
another at the foot! And Jenny Shanks, who couldn't help peeping in, to
see how a great hero goes to sleep, wishes that she may be an old maid
forever if she did not see him say his prayers to them. Now the same
fate befall me if I don't find out who it is. You must know, papa, so
you had better tell at once."

"That hussy shall leave the house tomorrow. I never heard of anything so
shameless. Mrs. Cloam seems to have no authority whatever. And you
too, Dolly, had no business there. If any one went to see the room
comfortable, it should have been Faith, as the lady of the house. Ever
since you persuaded me that you were too old for a governess, you seem
to be under no discipline at all."

"Now you know that you don't mean that, papa. You say those cruel things
just to make me kiss you," cried Dolly, with the action suited to the
word, and with her bright hair falling upon his snowy beard the father
could not help returning the salute; "but I must know who that lady is.
And what can he want with three pictures of her?"

"How should I know, Dolly? Perhaps it is his mother, or perhaps it is
the Queen of Naples, who made a Duke of him for what he did out there.
Now be quick, both of you, or no ride to-day. It is fifteen long miles
to Stonnington, I am sure, and I am not going to break my neck. As
it is, we must put dinner off till half past six, and we shall all be
starved by that time. Quick, girls, quick! I can only give you twenty
minutes."

The Admiral, riding with all the vigor of an ancient mariner, looked
well between his two fair daughters, as they turned their horses' heads
inland, and made over the downs for Stonnington. Here was beautiful
cantering ground, without much furze or many rabbit-holes, and lovely
air flowing over green waves of land, to greet and to deepen the rose
upon young cheeks. Behind them was the broad sea, looking steadfast,
and spread with slowly travelling tints; before them and around lay the
beauty of the earth, with the goodness of the sky thrown over it. The
bright world quivered with the breath of spring, and her smile was shed
on everything.

"What a lovely country we have been through! I should like to come here
every day," said Faith, as they struck into the London road again. "If
Stonnington is as nice as this, Mr. Scudamore must be happy there."

"Well, we shall see," her father answered. "My business has been upon
the coast so much, that I know very little about Stonnington. But
Scudamore has such a happy nature that nothing would come much amiss to
him. You know why he is here, of course?"

"No, I don't, papa. You are getting so mysterious that you never tell us
anything now," replied Dolly. "I only know that he was in the navy, and
now he is in a grammar school. The last time I saw him he was about a
yard high."

"He is a good bit short of two yards now," said the Admiral, smiling as
he thought of him, "but quite tall enough for a sailor, Dolly, and the
most active young man I ever saw in my life, every inch of him sound and
quick and true. I shall think very little of your judgment unless you
like him heartily; not at first, perhaps, because he is so shy, but as
soon as you begin to know him. I mean to ask him to come down as soon
as he can get a holiday. His captain told me, when he served in the
Diomede, that there was not a man in the ship to come near him for
nimbleness and quiet fearlessness."

"Then what made him take to his books again? Oh, how terribly dull he
must find them! Why, that must be Stonnington church, on the hill!"

"Yes, and the old grammar school close by. I was very near going there
once myself, but they sent me to Winchester instead. It was partly
through me that he got his berth here, though not much to thank me for,
I am afraid. Sixty pounds a year and his rations isn't much for a man
who has been at Cambridge. But even that he could not get in the navy
when the slack time came last year. He held no commission, like many
other fine young fellows, but had entered as a first-class volunteer.
And so he had no rating when this vile peace was patched up--excuse me,
my dear, what I meant to say was, when the blessings of tranquillity
were restored. And before that his father, my dear old friend, died very
suddenly, as you have heard me say, without leaving more than would bury
him. Don't talk any more of it. It makes me sad to think of it."

"But," persisted Dolly, "I could never understand why a famous man like
Sir Edmond Scudamore--a physician in large practice, and head doctor to
the King, as you have often told us--could possibly have died in that
sort of way, without leaving any money, or at least a quantity of
valuable furniture and jewels. And he had not a number of children,
papa, to spend all his money, as I do yours, whenever I get the chance;
though you are growing so dreadfully stingy now that I never can look
even decent."

"My dear, it is a very long sad story. Not about my stinginess, I
mean--though that is a sad story, in another sense, but will not move my
compassion. As to Sir Edmond, I can only tell you now that, while he was
a man of great scientific knowledge, he knew very little indeed of money
matters, and was not only far too generous, but what is a thousand
times worse, too trustful. Being of an honorable race himself, and an
honorable sample of it, he supposed that a man of good family must be
a gentleman; which is not always the case. He advanced large sums of
money, and signed bonds for a gentleman, or rather a man of that rank,
whose name does not concern you; and by that man he was vilely betrayed;
and I would rather not tell you the rest of it. Poor Blyth had to leave
Cambridge first, where he was sure to have done very well indeed, and at
his wish he was sent afloat, where he would have done even better; and
then, as his father's troubles deepened, and ended in his death of heart
complaint, the poor boy was left to keep his broken-hearted mother upon
nothing but a Latin Grammar. And I fear it is like a purser's dip. But
here we are at Stonnington--a long steep pitch. Let us slacken sail, my
dears, as we have brought no cockswain. Neither of you need land, you
know, but I shall go into the schoolroom."

"One thing I want to know," said the active-minded Dolly, as the horses
came blowing their breath up the hill: "if his father was Sir Edmond,
and he is the only child, according to all the laws of nature, he ought
to be Sir Blyth Scudamore."

"It shows how little you have been out--as good Mrs. Twemlow expresses
it--that you do not even understand the laws of nature as between a
baronet and a knight."

"Oh, to be sure; I recollect! How very stupid of me! The one goes on,
and the other doesn't, after the individual stops. But whose fault is
it that I go out so little? So you see you are caught in your own trap,
papa."



CHAPTER VIII

A LESSON IN THE AENEID


In those days Stonnington was a very pretty village, and such it
continued to be until it was ravaged by a railway. With the railway came
all that is hideous and foul, and from it fled all that is comely. The
cattle-shed, called by rail-highwaymen "the Station," with its roof of
iron Pan-pipes and red bull's-eyes stuck on stack-poles, whistles and
stares where the grand trees stood and the village green lay sleeping.
On the site of the gray-stone grammar school is an "Operative
Institute," whose front (not so thick as the skin of a young ass) is
gayly tattooed with a ringworm of wind-bricks. And the old manor-house,
where great authors used to dine, and look out with long pipes through
the ivy, has been stripped of every shred of leaf, and painted red and
yellow, and barge-boarded into "the Temperance Tap."

Ere ever these heathen so furiously raged, there was peace and content,
and the pleasure of the eyes, and of neighborly feeling abundance.
The men never burst with that bubble of hurry which every man now is
inflated with; and the women had time enough to mind one another's
affairs, without which they grow scandalous. And the trees, that kept
company with the houses, found matter for reflection in their calm blue
smoke, and the green crop that promised a little grove upon the roof.
So that as the road went up the hill, the traveller was content to leave
his legs to nature, while his eyes took their leisure of pleasant views,
and of just enough people to dwell upon.

At the top of the hill rose the fine old church, and next to it, facing
on the road itself, without any kind of fence before it, stood the
grammar school of many generations. This was a long low building, ridged
with mossy slabs, and ribbed with green, where the drip oozed down
the buttresses. But the long reach of the front was divided by a gable
projecting a little into the broad high-road. And here was the way,
beneath a low stone arch, into a porch with oak beams bulging and a
bell-rope dangling, and thence with an oaken door flung back into the
dark arcade of learning.

This was the place to learn things in, with some possibility of keeping
them, and herein lay the wisdom of our ancestors. Could they ever have
known half as much as they did, and ten times as much as we know, if
they had let the sun come in to dry it all up, as we do? Will even the
fourteen-coated onion root, with its bottom exposed to the sun, or will
a clever puppy grow long ears, in the power of strong daylight?

The nature and nurture of solid learning were better understood when
schools were built from which came Shakespeare and Bacon and Raleigh;
and the glare of the sun was not let in to baffle the light of the
eyes upon the mind. And another consideration is that wherever there is
light, boys make a noise, which conduces but little to doctrine; whereas
in soft shadow their muscles relax, and their minds become apprehensive.
Thus had this ancient grammar school of Stonnington fostered many
scholars, some of whom had written grammars for themselves and their
posterity.

The year being only at the end of March, and the day going on for five
o'clock, the light was just right, in the long low room, for correction
of manners and for discipline. Two boys had been horsed and brushed up
well, which had strengthened the conscience of all the rest, while sobs
and rubs of the part affected diffused a tender silence. Dr. Swinks,
the head-master, was leaning back in his canopied oaken chair, with the
pride inspired by noble actions.

"What wonderfully good boys!" Dolly whispered, as she peeped in through
the dark porch with Faith, while her father was giving the horses in
charge to the hostler from the inn across the way; "I declare that I
shall be frightened even to look at Mr. Scudamore, if this is a specimen
of what he does. There is scarcely a boy looking off his book. But
how old he does look! I suppose it must be the effect of so much hard
teaching."

"You silly thing," her sister answered; "you are looking at the great
head-master. Mr. Scudamore is here at the bottom of the school. Between
these big hinges you can see him; and he looks as young as you do."

Miss Dolly, who dearly loved any sly peep, kept her light figure back
and the long skirt pulled in, as she brought her bright eyes to the slit
between the heavy black door and the stone-work. And she speedily gave
her opinion.

"He is nothing but a regular frump. I declare I am dreadfully
disappointed. No wonder the title did not come on! He is nothing but a
very soft-natured stupe. Why, the boys can do what they like with him!"

Certainly the scholars of the Virgil class, which Blyth Scudamore was
dealing with, had recovered from the querimonies of those two sons of
Ovid, on the further side of Ister, and were having a good laugh at the
face of "Captain Scuddy," as they called their beloved preceptor. For
he, being gifted with a gentle sense of humor, together with a patient
love of the origin of things, was questing in his quiet mind what had
led a boy to render a well-known line as follows: "Such a quantity of
salt there was, to season the Roman nation." Presently he hit upon the
clue to this great mystery. "Mola, the salted cake," he said; "and the
next a little error of conjugation. You have looked out your words,
Smith, but chanced upon the wrong ones."

"Oh, Captain Scuddy," cried the head boy, grinning wisely, though he
might have made just the same blunder himself; "after that, do tell
us one of your sea-stories. It will strike five in about five minutes.
Something about Nelson, and killing ten great Frenchmen."

"Oh, do," cried the other little fellows, crowding round him. "It is
ever so much better than Virgil, Captain Scuddy!"

"I am not Captain Scuddy, as I tell you every day. I'm afraid I am a
great deal too good-natured with you. I shall have to send a dozen of
you up to be caned."

"No, you couldn't do that if you tried, Captain Scuddy. But what are you
thinking of, all this time? There are two pretty ladies in riding-habits
peeping at you from the bell porch. Why, you have got sweethearts,
Captain Scuddy! What a shame of you never to have told us!"

The youngest and fairest of all the boys there could scarcely have
blushed more deeply than their classical tutor did, as he stooped for
his hat, and shyly went between the old desks to the door in the porch.
All the boys looked after him with the deepest interest, and made
up their minds to see everything he did. This was not at all what he
desired, and the sense of it increased his hesitation and confusion. Of
the Admiral's lovely daughters he had heard while in the navy, and
now he was frightened to think that perhaps they were come here to
reconnoitre him. But luckily the Admiral was by this time to the fore,
and he marched into the school-room and saluted the head-master.

"Dr. Swinks," he said, "I am your very humble servant, Vice-Admiral of
the Blue, Charles Darling, and beg a thousand pardons for intrusion on
deep learning. But they tell me that your watch is over in some half a
minute. Allow me to ask for the son of an old friend, Blyth Scudamore,
late of the Diomede frigate, but now of this ancient and learned grammar
school. When his labors are over, I would gladly speak with him."

"Boys may go," the head-master pronounced, as the old clock wheezed
instead of striking. "Sir, my valued young coadjutor is advancing from
the fourth form toward you."

The Doctor was nice in his choice of words, and prided himself on
Johnsonian precision, but his young coadjutor's advance was hardly to be
distinguished from a fine retreat. Like leaves before the wind, the
boys rushed out by a back door into the play-ground, while the master
solemnly passed to his house, with a deep slow bow to the ladies; and
there was poor Scudamore--most diffident of men whenever it came to
lady-work--left to face the visitors with a pleasing knowledge that his
neckcloth was dishevelled, and his hair sheafed up, the furrows of his
coat broadcast with pounce, and one of his hands gone to sleep from
holding a heavy Delphin for three-quarters of an hour.

As he came out thus into the evening light, which dazed his blue eyes
for a moment, Miss Dolly turned away to hide a smile, but Faith, upon
her father's introduction, took his hand and looked at him tenderly. For
she was a very soft-hearted young woman, and the tale of his troubles
and goodness to his mother had moved her affection toward him, while
as one who was forever pledged--according to her own ideas--to a hero
beyond comparison, she was able to regard young men with mercy, and with
pity, if they had none to love. "How hard you have been at work!" she
said; "it makes us seem so lazy! But we never can find any good thing to
do."

"That's a cut at me," cried the Admiral. "Scudamore, when you come to my
age, be wiser than to have any daughters. Sure enough, they find no good
to do; and they not only put all the fault of that on me, but they make
me the victim of all the mischief they invent. Dolly, my darling, wear
that cap if it fits. But you have not shaken hands with Mr. Scudamore
yet. I hope you will do so, some hundreds of times."

"Not all at once, papa; or how thankful he would be! But stop, I have
not got half my glove off; this fur makes them stick so."

Miss Dolly was proud of her hands, and lost few chances of getting them
looked at. Then with a little smile, partly at herself for petulance,
partly to him for forgiveness, she offered her soft warm rich white
hand, and looked at him beautifully as he took it. Alack and alas for
poor "Captain Scuddy"!

His eyes, with a quick shy glance, met hers; and hers with soft inquiry
answered, "I wonder what you think of me?" Whenever she met a new face,
this was her manner of considering it.

"Scudamore, I shall not allow you any time to think about it," Admiral
Darling broke in suddenly, so that the young man almost jumped.
"Although you have cut the service for a while, because of our stingy
peacefulness, you are sure to come back to us again when England wants
English, not Latin and Greek. I am your commanding officer, and my
orders are that you come to us from Saturday till Monday. I shall send
a boat--or at least I mean a buggy--to fetch you, as soon as you are off
duty, and return you the same way on Monday. Come, girls, 'twill be dark
before we are home; and since the patrols were withdrawn, I hear there's
a highwayman down this road again. That is one of the blessings
of peace, Scudamore; even as Latin and Greek are. 'Apertis otia
portis'--Open the gates for laziness. Ah, I should have done well at old
Winton, they tell me, if I had not happened to run away to sea."



CHAPTER IX

THE MAROON


If yet there remained upon our southern coast a home for the rarer
virtues, such as gratitude, content, liberality (not of other people's
goods alone), faith in a gracious Providence, and strict abstinence from
rash labor, that home and stronghold was Springhaven. To most men good
success brings neither comfort, nor tranquillity, nor so much as a stool
to sit upon, but comes as a tread-mill which must be trodden without any
getting to the top of it. Not so did these wise men take their luck. If
ever they came from the fickle wave-bosom to the firm breast of land on
a Saturday, with a fine catch of fish, and sold it well--and such was
their sagacity that sooner would they keep it for cannibal temptation
than sell it badly--did they rush into the waves again, before they had
dried their breeches? Not they; nor did their wives, who were nearly
all good women, stir them up to be off again. Especially at this time of
year, with the days pulling out, and the season quickening, and the fish
coming back to wag their tails upon the shallows, a pleasant race of men
should take their pleasure, and leave flints to be skinned by the sons
of flint.

This was the reason why Miss Dolly Darling had watched in vain at
the Monday morning tide for the bold issue of the fishing fleet. The
weariless tide came up and lifted the bedded keel and the plunged
forefoot, and gurgled with a quiet wash among the straky bends, then
lurched the boats to this side and to that, to get their heft correctly,
and dandled them at last with their bowsprits dipped and their little
mast-heads nodding. Every brave smack then was mounted, and riding, and
ready for a canter upon the broad sea: but not a blessed man came to set
her free. Tethered by head and by heel, she could only enjoy the poised
pace of the rocking-horse, instead of the racer's delight in careering
across the free sweep of the distance.

Springhaven had done so well last week, that this week it meant to do
still better, by stopping at home till the money was gone, and making
short work afterward. Every man thoroughly enjoyed himself, keeping
sober whenever good manners allowed, foregoing all business, and
sauntering about to see the folk hard at work who had got no money. On
Wednesday, however, an order was issued by Captain Zebedee Tugwell that
all must be ready for a three days' trip when the tide should serve,
which would be at the first of the ebb, about ten in the morning. The
tides were slackening now, and the smacks had required some change of
berth, but still they were not very far from the Admiral's white gate.

"I shall go down to see them, papa, if you please," Dolly said to her
father at breakfast-time. "They should have gone on Monday; but they
were too rich; and I think it very shameful of them. I dare say they
have not got a halfpenny left, and that makes them look so lively. Of
course they've been stuffing, and they won't move fast, and they can't
expect any more dinner till they catch it. But they have got so much
bacon that they don't care."

"What could they have better, I should like to know?" asked the Admiral,
who had seen hard times. "Why, I gave seven men three dozen apiece for
turning their noses up at salt horse, just because he whisked his tail
in the copper. Lord bless my soul! what is the nation coming to, when a
man can't dine upon cold bacon?"

"No, it is not that, papa. They are very good in that way, as their
wives will tell you. Jenny Shanks tells me the very same thing, and
of course she knows all about them. She knew they would never think of
going out on Monday, and if I had asked her I might have known it too.
But she says that they are sure to catch this tide."

"Very well, Dolly. Go you and catch them. You are never content without
seeing something. Though what there is to see in a lot of lubberly craft
pushing off with punt-poles--"

"Hush, papa, hush! Don't be so contemptuous. What did my godfather say
the other day? And I suppose he understands things."

"Don't quote your godfather against your father. It was never intended
in the Catechism. And if it was, I would never put up with it."

Dolly made off; for she knew that her father, while proud of his great
impartiality, candor, and scorn of all trumpery feeling, was sometimes
unable to make out the reason why a queer little middy of his own should
now stand upon the giddy truck of fame, while himself, still ahead of
him in the Navy List, might pace his quarter-deck and have hats touched
to him, but never a heart beat one pulse quicker. Jealous he was not;
but still, at least in his own family--

Leaving her dear father to his meditations, which Faith ran up to kiss
away, fair Dolly put on a plain hat and scarf, quite good enough for
the fishermen, and set off in haste for the Round-house, to see the
expedition start. By the time she was there, and had lifted the sashes,
and got the spy-glass ready, the flow of the tide was almost spent, and
the brimming moment of the slack was nigh. For this all the folk of the
village waited, according to the tradition of the place; the manhood
and boyhood, to launch forth; old age, womanhood, and childhood, to
contribute the comfort of kind looks and good-by. The tides, though not
to be compared to the winds in fickleness, are capricious here, having
sallies of irregularity when there has been a long period of northeast
winds, bringing a counter-flow to the Atlantic influx. And a man must
be thoroughly acquainted with the coast, as well as the moon and the
weather, to foretell how the water will rise and fall there. For the
present, however, there was no such puzzle. The last lift of the quiet
tide shone along the beach in three straight waves, shallow steps that
arose inshore, and spent themselves without breaking.

"Toorn o' the tide!" the Captain shouted; "all aboord, aboord, my lads!
The more 'ee bide ashore, the wuss 'ee be. See to Master Cheeseman's
craft! Got a good hour afront of us. Dannel, what be mooning at? Fetch
'un a clout on his head, Harry Shanks; or Tim, you run up and do it.
Doubt the young hosebird were struck last moon, and his brains put to
salt in a herring-tub. Home with you, wife! And take Dan, if you will.
He'd do more good at the chipping job, with the full moon in his head
so."

"Then home I will take my son, Master Tugwell," his wife answered, with
much dignity, for all the good wives of Springhaven heard him, and what
would they think of her if she said nothing? "Home I will take my son
and yours, and the wisest place for him to abide in, with his father set
agin him so. Dannel, you come along of me. I won't have my eldest boy
gainsaid so."

Zebedee Tugwell closed his lips, and went on with his proper business.
All the women would side with him if he left them the use of their own
minds, and the sound of his wife's voice last; while all the men in
their hearts felt wisdom. But the young man, loath to be left behind,
came doubtfully down to the stern of the boat, which was pushed off for
the Rosalie. And he looked at the place where he generally sat, and then
at his father and the rest of them.

"No gappermouths here!" cried his father, sternly. "Get theezell home
with the vemmelvolk. Shove off without him, Tim! How many more tides
would 'ee lose?"

Young Dan, whose stout legs were in the swirling water, snatched up his
striped woolsey from under the tiller, threw it on his shoulder, and
walked off, without a farewell to any one. The whole of Springhaven that
could see saw it, and they never had seen such a thing before. Captain
Zeb stood up and stared, with his big forehead coming out under his
hat, and his golden beard shining in the morning sun; but the only
satisfaction for his eyes was the back of his son growing smaller and
smaller.

"Chip of the old block!" "Sarve 'ee right, Cap'en!" "Starve 'un back
to his manners again!" the inferior chieftains of the expedition cried,
according to their several views of life. But Zebedee Tugwell paid no
heed to thoughts outside of his own hat and coat. "Spake when I ax you,"
he said, urbanely, but with a glance which conveyed to any too urgent
sympathizer that he would be knocked down, when accessible.

But, alas! the less-disciplined women rejoiced, with a wink at their
departing lords, as Mrs. Zebedee set off in chase of her long-striding
Daniel. The mother, enriched by home affections and course of duties
well performed, was of a rounded and ample figure, while the son was
tall, and thin as might be one of strong and well-knit frame. And the
sense of wrong would not permit him to turn his neck, or take a glance
at the enterprise which had rejected him.

"How grand he does look! what a noble profile!" thought Dolly, who had
seen everything without the glass, but now brought it to bear upon his
countenance. "He is like the centurion in the painted window, or a Roman
medallion with a hat on. But that old woman will never catch him. She
might just as well go home again. He is walking about ten miles an hour,
and how beautifully straight his legs are! What a shame that he should
not be a gentleman! He is ten times more like one than most of the
officers that used to come bothering me so. I wonder how far he means
to go? I do hope he won't make away with himself. It is almost enough
to make him do it, to be so insulted by his own father, and disgraced
before all the village, simply because he can't help having his poor
head so full of me! Nobody shall ever say that I did anything to give
him the faintest encouragement, because it would be so very wicked and
so cruel, considering all he has done for me. But if he comes back,
when his father is out of sight, and he has walked off his righteous
indignation, and all these people are gone to dinner, it might give a
turn to his thoughts if I were to put on my shell-colored frock and
the pale blue sash, and just go and see, on the other side of the
stepping-stones, how much longer they mean to be with that boat they
began so long ago."



CHAPTER X

ACROSS THE STEPPING-STONES


Very good boats were built at this time in the south of England, stout,
that is to say, and strong, and fit to ride over a heavy sea, and plunge
gallantly into the trough of it. But as the strongest men are seldom
swift of foot or light of turn, so these robust and sturdy boats must
have their own time and swing allowed them, ere ever they would come
round or step out. Having met a good deal of the sea, they knew, like
a man who has felt a good deal of the world, that heavy endurance
and patient bluffness are safer to get through the waves somehow than
sensitive fibre and elegant frame.

But the sea-going folk of Springhaven had learned, by lore of
generations, to build a boat with an especial sheer forward, beam far
back, and deep run of stern, so that she was lively in the heaviest of
weather, and strong enough to take a good thump smiling, when unable to
dance over it. Yet as a little thing often makes all the difference in
great things, it was very difficult for anybody to find out exactly
the difference between a boat built here and a boat built ten or twenty
miles off, in imitation of her. The sea, however, knew the difference in
a moment between the true thing and the counterfeit, and encouraged
the one to go merrily on, while it sent back the other staggering. The
secret lay chiefly in a hollow curve forward of nine or ten planks upon
either side, which could only be compassed by skilful use of adze and
chisel, frame-saw and small tools, after choice of the very best timber,
free from knots, tough, and flexible. And the best judge of these points
was Zebedee Tugwell.

Not having cash enough just at present (by reason of family expenses,
and the high price of bread and of everything else) to set upon the
stocks the great smack of the future, which should sail round the
Rosalie, Captain Tugwell was easing his mind by building a boat for
stormy weather, such as they very seldom have inshore, but are likely to
meet with outside the Head. As yet there were not many rowing boats here
fit to go far in tumbling water, though the few that could do it did
it well, and Tugwell's intention was to beat them all, in power, and
spring, and buoyancy. The fame of his meaning was spread for as much as
twenty leagues along the coast; and jealous people laughed, instead of
waiting for him to finish it.

Young Daniel had been well brought up in the mysteries of his father's
craft, and having a vigorous turn of wrist, as well as a true eye and
quick brain, he was even outgrowing the paternal skill, with experiments
against experience. He had beautiful theories of his own, and felt
certain that he could prove them, if any one with cash could be brought
to see their beauty. His father admitted that he had good ideas, and
might try them, if any fool would find the money.

Wroth as he had been at the sharp rebuff and contumely of his father,
young Daniel, after a long strong walk, began to look at things more
peaceably. The power of the land and the greatness of the sea and the
goodness of the sky unangered him, and the air that came from some
oyster beds, as the tide was falling, hungered him. Home he went, in
good time for dinner, as the duty of a young man is; and instead of
laughing when he came by, the maids of Springhaven smiled at him. This
quite righted him in his own opinion, yet leaving him the benefit of
the doubt which comes from a shake in that cradle lately. He made a good
dinner, and shouldered his adze, with a frail of tools hanging on
the neck of it, and troubled with nothing but love--which is a woe of
self-infliction--whistled his way to the beach, to let all the women
understand that he was not a bit ashamed. And they felt for him all the
more, because he stood up for himself a little.

Doubtful rights go cheap; and so the foreshore westward of the brook
being claimed by divers authorities, a tidy little cantle of it had
been leased by Admiral Darling, lord of the manor, to Zebedee Tugwell,
boat-builder, for the yearly provent of two and sixpence sterling. The
Admiral's man of law, Mr. Furkettle, had strongly advised, and
well prepared the necessary instrument, which would grow into value
by-and-by, as evidence of title. And who could serve summary process of
ejectment upon an interloper in a manner so valid as Zebedee's would be?
Possession was certain as long as he lived; ousters and filibusters, in
the form of railway companies and communists, were a bubble as yet in
the womb of ages.

This piece of land, or sand, or rush, seemed very unlikely to be worth
dispute. If seisin corporeal, user immemorial, and prescription for
levance and couchance conferred any title indefeasible, then were the
rabbits the owners in fee-simple, absolute, paramount, and source of
pedigree. But they, while thoroughly aware of this, took very little
heed to go into it, nor troubled their gentle natures much about a
few yards of sand or grass, as the two-legged creatures near them did.
Inasmuch as they had soft banks of herb and vivid moss to sit upon,
sweet crisp grass and juicy clover for unlabored victuals--as well as
a thousand other nibbles which we are too gross to understand--and for
beverage not only all the abundance of the brook (whose brilliance might
taste of men), but also a little spring of their own which came out of
its hole like a rabbit; and then for scenery all the sea, with strange
things running over it, as well as a great park of their own having
countless avenues of rush, ragwort, and thistle-stump--where would they
have deserved to be, if they had not been contented? Content they
were, and even joyful at the proper time of day. Joyful in the morning,
because the sun was come again; joyful in the middle day to see how well
the world went; and in the evening merry with the tricks of their own
shadows.

Quite fifteen stepping-stones stepped up--if you counted three that were
made of wood--to soothe the dignity of the brook in its last fresh-water
moments, rather than to gratify the dry-skin'd soles of gentlefolk. For
any one, with a five-shilling pair of boots to terminate in, might skip
dry-footed across the sandy purlings of the rivulet. And only when a
flood came down, or the head of some springtide came up, did any but
playful children tread the lichened cracks of the stepping-stones. And
nobody knew this better than Horatia Dorothy Darling.

The bunnies who lived to the west of the brook had reconciled their
minds entirely now to the rising of that boat among them. At first it
made a noise, and scratched the sand, and creaking things came down to
it; and when the moon came through its ribs in the evening, tail was
the quarter to show to it. But as it went on naturally growing, seldom
appearing to make much noise, unless there was a man very near it, and
even then keeping him from doing any harm--outside the disturbance that
he lives in--without so much as a council called, they tolerated this
encroachment. Some of the bolder fathers came and sat inside to
consider it, and left their compliments all round to the masters of the
enterprise. And even when Daniel came to work, as he happened to do this
afternoon, they carried on their own work in its highest form--that of
play--upon the premises they lent him.

Though not very large, it was a lively, punctual, well-conducted, and
pleasant rabbit-warren. Sudden death was avoidable on the part of most
of its members, nets, ferrets, gins, and wires being alike forbidden,
foxes scarcely ever seen, and even guns a rare and very memorable
visitation. The headland staves the southern storm, sand-hills shevelled
with long rush disarm the western fury, while inland gales from north
and east leap into the clouds from the uplands. Well aware of all their
bliss, and feeling worthy of it, the blameless citizens pour forth, upon
a mild spring evening, to give one another the time of day, to gaze
at the labors of men upon the sea, and to take the sweet leisure,
the breeze, and the browse. The gray old conies of curule rank, prime
senators of the sandy beach, and father of the father-land, hold a
just session upon the head borough, and look like brown loaves in the
distance. But these are conies of great mark and special character, full
of light and leading, because they have been shot at, and understand how
to avoid it henceforth. They are satisfied to chew very little bits of
stuff, and particular to have no sand in it, and they hunch their round
backs almost into one another, and double up their legs to keep them
warm, and reflect on their friends' gray whiskers. And one of their
truest pleasures is, sitting snug at their own doors, to watch their
children's gambols.

For this is the time, with the light upon the slope, and the freshness
of salt flowing in from the sea, when the spirit of youth must be free
of the air, and the quickness of life is abounding. Without any heed
of the cares that are coming, or the prick-eared fears of the elders, a
fine lot of young bunnies with tails on the frisk scour everywhere over
the warren. Up and down the grassy dips and yellow piles of wind-drift,
and in and out of the ferny coves and tussocks of rush and ragwort, they
scamper, and caper, and chase one another, in joy that the winter is
banished at last, and the glorious sun come back again.

Suddenly, as at the wave of a wand, they all stop short and listen. The
sun is behind them, low and calm, there is not a breath of wind to
stir their flax, not even the feather of a last year's bloom has moved,
unless they moved it. Yet signal of peril has passed among them; they
curve their soft ears for the sound of it, and open their sensitive
nostrils, and pat upon the ground with one little foot to encourage
themselves against the panting of their hearts and the traitorous length
of their shadows.

Ha! Not for nothing was their fear this day. An active and dangerous
specimen of the human race was coming, lightly and gracefully skimming
the moss, above salt-water reach, of the stepping-stones. The steps
are said to be a thousand years old, and probably are of half that age,
belonging to a time when sound work was, and a monastery flourished
in the valley. Even though they come down from great Hercules himself,
never have they been crossed by a prettier foot or a fairer form than
now came gayly over them. But the rabbits made no account of that. To
the young man with the adze they were quite accustomed, and they liked
him, because he minded his own business, and cared nothing about theirs;
but of this wandering maiden they had no safe knowledge, and judged the
worst, and all rushed away, some tenscore strong, giving notice to him
as they passed the boat that he also had better be cautious.

Daniel was in a sweet temper now, by virtue of hard labor and gratified
wit. By skill and persistence and bodily strength he had compassed a
curve his father had declared impossible without a dock-yard. Three
planks being fixed, he was sure of the rest, and could well afford to
stop, to admire the effect, and feel proud of his work, and of himself
the worker. Then the panic of the conies made him turn his head, and the
quick beat of his heart was quickened by worse than bodily labor.

Miss Dolly Darling was sauntering sweetly, as if there were only one
sex in the world, and that an entirely divine one. The gleam of spring
sunset was bright in her hair, and in the soft garnish of health on
her cheeks, and the vigorous play of young life in her eyes; while the
silvery glance of the sloping shore, and breezy ruffle of the darkening
sea, did nothing but offer a foil for the form of the shell-colored
frock and the sky-blue sash.

Young Daniel fell back upon his half-shaped work, and despised it, and
himself, and everything, except what he was afraid to look at. In the
hollow among the sand-hills where the cradle of the boat was, fine
rushes grew, and tufts of ragwort, and stalks of last year's thistles,
and sea-osiers where the spring oozed down. Through these the white
ribs of the rising boat shone forth like an elephant's skeleton; but
the builder entertained some hope, as well as some fear, of being
unperceived.

But a far greater power than his own was here. Curved and hollow ships
are female in almost all languages, not only because of their curves and
hollows, but also because they are craft--so to speak.

"Oh, Captain Tugwell, are you at work still? Why, you really ought to
have gone with the smacks. But perhaps you sent your son instead. I
am so glad to see you! It is such nice company to hear you! I did not
expect to be left alone, like this."

"If you please, miss, it isn't father at all. Father is gone with the
fishing long ago. It is only me, Daniel, if you please, miss."

"No, Daniel, I am not pleased at all. I am quite surprised that you
should work so late. It scarcely seems respectable."

At this the young man was so much amazed that he could only stare while
she walked off, until the clear duty of righting himself in her good
opinion struck him. Then he threw on his coat and ran after her.

"If you please, Miss Dolly--will you please, Miss Dolly?" he called, as
she made off for the stepping-stones; but she did not turn round, though
her name was "Miss Dolly" all over Springhaven, and she liked it. "You
are bound to stop, miss," he said, sternly; and she stopped, and cried,
"What do you mean by such words to me?"

"Not any sort of harm, miss," he answered, humbly, inasmuch as she had
obeyed him; "and I ask your pardon for speaking so. But if you think
twice you are bound to explain what you said concerning me, now just."

"Oh, about your working so late, you mean. I offered good advice to you.
I think it is wrong that you should go on, when everybody else has left
off long ago. But perhaps your father makes you."

"Father is a just man," said young Tugwell, drawing up his own
integrity; "now and then he may take a crooked twist, or such like; but
he never goeth out of fair play to his knowledge. He hath a-been hard
upon me this day; but the main of it was to check mother of her ways.
You understand, miss, how the women-folk go on in a house, till the
other women hear of it. And then out-of-doors they are the same as
lambs."

"It is most ungrateful and traitorous of you to your own mother to talk
so. Your mother spoils you, and this is all the thanks she gets! Wait
till you have a wife of your own, Master Daniel!"

"Wait till I am dead then I may, Miss Dolly," he answered, with a depth
of voice which frightened her for a moment; and then he smiled and said,
"I beg your pardon," as gracefully as any gentleman could say it; "but
let me see you safe to your own gate; there are very rough people about
here now, and the times are not quite as they used to be, when we were
a-fighting daily."

He followed her at a respectful distance, and then ran forward and
opened the white gate. "Good-night, Daniel," the young lady said, as
he lifted his working cap to her, showing his bright curls against the
darkening sea; "I am very much obliged to you, and I do hope I have not
said anything to vex you. I have never forgotten all you did for me, and
you must not mind the way I have of saying things."

"What a shame it does appear--what a fearful shame it is," she whispered
to herself as she hurried through the trees--"that he should be
nothing but a fisherman! He is a gentleman in everything but birth and
education; and so strong, and so brave, and so good-looking!"



CHAPTER XI

NO PROMOTION


"Do it again now, Captain Scuddy; do it again; you know you must."

"You touched the rim with your shoe, last time. You are bound to do it
clean, once more."

"No, he didn't. You are a liar; it was only the ribbon of his shoe."

"I'll punch your head if you say that again. It was his heel, and here's
the mark."

"Oh, Scuddy dear, don't notice them. You can do it fifty times running,
if you like. Nobody can run or jump like you. Do it just once more to
please me."

Kitty Fanshawe, a boy with large blue eyes and a purely gentle face,
looked up at Blyth Scudamore so faithfully that to resist him was
impossible.

"Very well, then; once more for Kitty," said the sweetest-tempered of
mankind, as he vaulted back into the tub. "But you know that I always
leave off at a dozen. Thirteen--thirteen I could never stop at. I shall
have to do fourteen at least; and it is too bad, just after dinner. Now
all of you watch whether I touch it anywhere."

A barrel almost five feet in height, and less than a yard in breadth,
stood under a clump of trees in the play-ground; and Blyth Scudamore had
made a clean leap one day, for his own satisfaction, out of it. Sharp
eyes saw him, and sharp wits were pleased, and a strong demand had
arisen that he should perform this feat perpetually. Good nerve, as well
as strong spring, and compactness of power are needed for it; and even
in this athletic age there are few who find it easy.

"Come, now," he said, as he landed lightly, with both heels together;
"one of you big fellows come and do it. You are three inches taller than
I am. And you have only got to make up your minds."

But all the big fellows hung back, or began to stimulate one another,
and to prove to each other how easy it was, by every proof but practice.
"Well, then, I must do it once more," said Blyth, "for I dare not leave
off at thirteen, for fear of some great calamity, such as I never could
jump out of."

But before he could get into the tub again, to prepare for the clear
spring out of it, he beheld a man with silver buttons coming across
the playing-field. His heart fell into his heels, and no more agility
remained in him. He had made up his mind that Admiral Darling would
forget all about him by Saturday; and though the fair image of Dolly
would abide in that quiet mind for a long while, the balance of his
wishes (cast by shyness) was heavily against this visit. And the boys,
who understood his nature, with a poignant love--like that of our
friends in this world--began to probe his tender places.

"One more jump, Captain Scuddy! You must; to show the flunky what you
can do."

"Oh, don't I wish I was going? He'll have turtle soup, and venison, and
two men behind his chair."

"And the beautiful young ladies looking at him every time he takes a
mouthful."

"But he dare not go courting after thirteen jumps. And he has vowed that
he will have another. Come, Captain Scuddy, no time to lose."

But Scudamore set off to face his doom, with his old hat hanging on the
back of his head--as it generally did--and his ruddy face and mild blue
eyes full of humorous diffidence and perplexity.

"If you please, sir, his honour the Hadmiral have sent me to fetch 'e
and your things; and hoss be baiting along of the Blue Dragon."

"I am sorry to say that I forgot all about it, or, at least, I thought
that he would. How long before we ought to start?"

"My name is Gregory, sir--Coachman Gregory--accustomed always to a pair,
but doesn't mind a single hoss, to oblige the Hadmiral, once in a way.
About half an hour, sir, will suit me, unless they comes down to the
skittle-alley, as ought to be always on a Saturday afternoon; but not a
soul there when I looked in."

Any man in Scudamore's position, except himself, would have grieved and
groaned. For the evening dress of that time, though less gorgeous than
of the age before, was still an expensive and elaborate affair; and the
young man, in this ebb of fortune, was poorly stocked with raiment. But
he passed this trouble with his usual calmness and disregard of trifles.
"If I wear the best I have got," he thought, "I cannot be charged with
disrespect. The Admiral knows what a sailor is; and, after all, who will
look at me?" Accordingly he went just as he was, for he never wore an
overcoat, but taking a little canvas kit, with pumps and silk stockings
for evening wear, and all the best that he could muster of his Volunteer
equipment.

The Admiral came to the door of the Hall, and met him with such hearty
warmth, and a glance of such kind approval at his open throat and
glowing cheeks, that the young man felt a bound of love and tender
veneration towards him, which endured for lifetime.

"Your father was my dearest friend, and the very best man I ever knew.
I must call you 'Blyth,'" said the Admiral, "for if I call you
'Scudamore,' I shall think perpetually of my loss."

At dinner that day there was no other guest, and nothing to disturb the
present one, except a young lady's quick glances, of which he endeavored
to have no knowledge. Faith Darling, a gentle and beautiful young
woman, had taken a natural liking to him, because of his troubles, and
simplicity, and devotion to his widowed mother. But to the younger,
Dolly Darling, he was only a visitor, dull and stupid, requiring,
without at all repaying, the trouble of some attention. He was not tall,
nor handsome, nor of striking appearance in any way; and although he was
clearly a gentleman, to her judgment he was not an accomplished, or
even a clever one. His inborn modesty and shyness placed him at great
disadvantage, until well known; and the simple truth of his nature
forbade any of the large talk and bold utterance which pleased her as
yet among young officers.

"What a plague he will be all day tomorrow!" she said to her sister in
the drawing-room. "Father was obliged, I suppose, to invite him; but
what can we do with him all the day? Sundays are dull enough, I am sure,
already, without our having to amuse a gentleman who has scarcely
got two ideas of his own, and is afraid to say 'bo' to a goose, I do
believe. Did you hear what he said when I asked him whether he was fond
of riding?"

"Yes; and I thought it so good of him, to answer so straightforwardly.
He said that he used to be very fond of it, but was afraid that he
should fall off now."

"I should like to see him. I tell you what we'll do. We will make him
ride back on Monday morning, and put him on 'Blue Bangles,' who won't
have seen daylight since Friday. Won't he jump about a bit! What a shame
it is, not to let us ride on Sundays!"

Ignorant of these kind intentions, Scudamore was enjoying himself in
his quiet, observant way. Mr. Twemlow, the rector of the parish, had
chanced--as he often chanced on a Saturday, after buckling up a brace
of sermons--to issue his mind (with his body outside it) for a little
relief of neighbourhood. And these little airings of his chastening
love--for he loved everybody, when he had done his sermon--came,
whenever there was a fair chance of it, to a glass of the fine old port
which is the true haven for an ancient Admiral.

"Just in time, Rector," cried Admiral Darling, who had added by many
a hardship to his inborn hospitality. "This is my young friend Blyth
Scudamore, the son of one of my oldest friends. You have heard of Sir
Edmond Scudamore?"

"And seen him and felt him. And to him I owe, under a merciful
Providence, the power of drinking in this fine port the health of his
son, which I do with deep pleasure, for the excellence both of end and
means."

The old man bowed at the praise of his wine, and the young one at that
of his father. Then, after the usual pinch of snuff from the Rector's
long gold box, the host returned to the subject he had been full of
before this interruption.

"The question we have in hand is this. What is to be done with our
friend Blyth? He was getting on famously, till this vile peace came.
Twemlow, you called it that yourself, so that argument about words is
useless. Blyth's lieutenancy was on the books, and the way they carry
things on now, and shoot poor fellows' heads off, he might have been
a post-captain in a twelvemonth. And now there seems nothing on earth
before him better than Holy-Orders."

"Admiral Darling is kind enough to think," said Scudamore, in his mild,
hesitative way, blushing outwardly, but smiling inwardly, "that I am too
good to be a clergyman."

"And so you are, and Heaven knows it, Blyth, unless there was a chance
of getting on by goodness, which there is in the Navy, but not in the
Church. Twemlow, what is your opinion?"

"It would not be modest in me," said the Rector, "to stand up too much
for my own order. We do our duty, and we don't get on."

"Exactly. You could not have put it better. You get no vacancies by shot
and shell, and being fit for another world, you keep out of it. Have you
ever heard me tell the story about Gunner MacCrab, of the Bellerophon?"

"Fifty times, and more than that," replied the sturdy parson, who liked
to make a little cut at the Church sometimes, but would not allow any
other hand to do it. "But now about our young friend here. Surely, with
all that we know by this time of the character of that Bony, we can see
that this peace is a mere trick of his to bamboozle us while he gets
ready. In six months we shall be at war again, hammer and tongs, as sure
as my name is Twemlow."

"So be it!" cried the Admiral, with a stamp on his oak floor, while
Scudamore's gentle eyes flashed and fell; "if it is the will of God, so
be it. But if it once begins again, God alone knows where France will be
before you and I are in our graves. They have drained all our patience,
and our pockets very nearly; but they have scarcely put a tap into our
energy and endurance. But what are they? A gang of slaves, rammed into
the cannon by a Despot."

"They seem to like it, and the question is for them. But the struggle
will be desperate, mountains of carnage, oceans of blood, universal
mourning, lamentation, and woe. And I have had enough trouble with my
tithes already."

"Tithes are dependent on the will of the Almighty," said the Admiral,
who paid more than he altogether liked; "but a war goes by reason and
good management. It encourages the best men of the day, and it brings
out the difference between right and wrong, which are quite smothered up
in peace time. It keeps out a quantity of foreign rubbish and stuff only
made to be looked at, and it makes people trust one another, and know
what country they belong to, and feel how much they have left to be
thankful for. And what is the use of a noble fleet, unless it can get
some fighting? Blyth, what say you? You know something about that."

"No, sir, I have never been at close quarters yet. And I doubt--or at
least I am certain that I should not like it. I am afraid that I should
want to run down below."

Mr. Twemlow, having never smelled hostile powder, gazed at him rather
loftily, while the young man blushed at his own truth, yet looked up
bravely to confirm it.

"Of all I have ever known or met," said Admiral Darling, quietly,
"there are but three--Nelson and two others, and one of those two was
half-witted--who could fetch up muzzle to muzzle without a feeling of
that sort. The true courage lies in resisting the impulse, more than
being free from it. I know that I was in a precious fright the first
time I was shot at, even at a decent distance; and I don't pretend to
like it even now. But I am pretty safe now from any further chance, I
fear. When we cut our wisdom-teeth, they shelf us. Twemlow, how much
wiser you are in the Church! The older a man gets, the higher they
promote him."

"Then let them begin with me," the Rector answered, smiling; "I am old
enough now for almost anything, and the only promotion I get is stiff
joints, and teeth that crave peace from an olive. Placitam paci, Mr.
Scudamore knows the rest, being fresh from the learned Stonnington.
But, Squire, you know that I am content. I love Springhaven, Springhaven
loves me, and we chasten one another."

"A man who knows all the Latin you know, Rector--for I own that you beat
me to the spelling-book--should be at least an Archdeacon in the Church,
which is equal to the rank of Rear-Admiral. But you never have pushed
as you should do; and you let it all off in quotations. Those are very
comforting to the mind, but I never knew a man do good with them, unless
they come out of the Bible. When Gunner Matthew of the Erigdoupos was
waiting to have his leg off, with no prospect before him--except a
better world--you know what our Chaplain said to him; and the effect
upon his mind was such, that I have got him to this day upon my land."

"Of course you have--the biggest old poacher in the county. He shoots
half your pheasants with his wooden leg by moonlight. What your Chaplain
said to him was entirely profane in the turn of a text of Holy-Writ;
and it shows how our cloth is spoiled by contact with yours"--for the
Admiral was laughing to himself at this old tale, which he would
not produce before young Scudamore, but loved to have out with the
Rector--"and I hope it will be a good warning to you, Squire, to
settle no more old gunners on your property. You must understand, Mr.
Scudamore, that the Admiral makes a sort of Naval Hospital, for all his
old salts, on his own Estates."

"I am sure it is wonderfully kind in him," the young man answered,
bravely, "for the poor old fellows are thrown to the dogs by the
country, when it has disabled them. I have not seen much of the service,
but quite enough to know that, Mr. Twemlow."

"I have seen a great deal, and I say that it is so. And my good friend
knows it as well as I do, and is one of the first to lend a helping
hand. In all such cases he does more than I do, whenever they come
within his knowledge. But let us return to the matter in hand. Here is
a young man, a first-rate sailor, who would have been under my
guardianship, I know, but for--but for sad circumstances. Is he to be
grinding at Virgil and Ovid till all his spirit goes out of him, because
we have patched up a very shabby peace? It can never last long. Every
Englishman hates it, although it may seem to save his pocket. Twemlow,
I am no politician. You read the papers more than I do. How much longer
will this wretched compact hold? You have predicted the course of things
before."

"And so I will again," replied the Rector. "Atheism, mockery, cynicism,
blasphemy, lust, and blood-thirstyness cannot rage and raven within
a few leagues of a godly and just nation without stinking in their
nostrils. Sir, it is our mission from the Lord to quench Bony, and
to conquer the bullies of Europe. We don't look like doing it now, I
confess. But do it we shall, in the end, as sure as the name of our
country is England."

"I have no doubt of it," said the Admiral, simply; "but there will be a
deal of fighting betwixt this and then. Blyth, will you leave me to see
what I can do, whenever we get to work again?"

"I should think that I would, sir, and never forget it. I am not fond of
fighting; but how I have longed to feel myself afloat again!"



CHAPTER XII

AT THE YEW-TREE


All the common-sense of England, more abundant in those days than now,
felt that the war had not been fought out, and the way to the lap of
peace could only be won by vigorous use of the arms. Some few there
were even then, as now there is a cackling multitude, besotted enough to
believe that facts can be undone by blinking them. But our forefathers
on the whole were wise, and knew that nothing is trampled more basely
than right that will not right itself.

Therefore they set their faces hard, and toughened their hearts like
knotted oak, against all that man could do to them. There were no
magnificent proclamations, no big vaunts of victory at the buckling
on of armour, but the quiet strength of steadfast wills, and the stern
resolve to strike when stricken, and try to last the longest. And so
their mother-land became the mother of men and freedom.

In November, 1802, the speech from the throne apprised the world that
England was preparing. The widest, longest, and deadliest war, since the
date of gunpowder, was lowering; and the hearts of all who loved their
kin were heavy, but found no help for it.

The sermon which Mr. Twemlow preached in Springhaven church was
magnificent. Some parishioners, keeping memory more alert than
conscience, declared that they had received it all nine, or it might be
ten, years since, when the fighting first was called for. If so, that
proved it none the worse, but themselves, for again requiring it. Their
Rector told them that they thought too much of their own flesh-pots and
fish-kettles, and their country might go to the bottom of the sea, if it
left them their own fishing-grounds. And he said that they would wake up
some day and find themselves turned into Frenchmen, for all things were
possible with the Lord; and then they might smite their breasts, but
must confess that they had deserved it. Neither would years of prayer
and fasting fetch them back into decent Englishmen; the abomination of
desolation would be set up over their doorways, and the scarlet woman of
Babylon would revel in their sanctuaries.

"Now don't let none of us be in no hurry," Captain Tugwell said, after
dwelling and sleeping upon this form of doctrine; "a man knoweth his own
trade the best, the very same way as the parson doth. And I never knew
no good to come of any hurry. Our lives are given us by the Lord. And He
never would 'a made 'em threescore and ten, or for men of any strength
fourscore, if His will had been to jerk us over them. Never did I see no
Frenchman as could be turned to an Englishman, not if he was to fast and
pray all day, and cut himself with knives at the going down of the sun.
My opinion is that Parson Twemlow were touched up by his own conscience
for having a nephew more French than English; and 'Caryl Carne' is the
name thereof, with more French than English sound to it."

"Why, he have been gone for years and years," said the landlord of the
Darling Arms, where the village was holding council; "he have never
been seen in these parts since the death of the last Squire Carne, to my
knowledge."

"And what did the old Squire die of, John Prater? Not that he were to be
called old--younger, I dare say, than I be now. What did he die of, but
marrying with a long outlandish 'ooman? A femmel as couldn't speak a
word of English, to be anyhow sure of her meaning! Ah, them was bad
times at Carne Castle; and as nice a place as need be then, until they
dipped the property. Six grey horses they were used to go with to London
Parliament every year, before the last Squire come of age, as I have
heered my father say scores of times, and no lie ever come from his
mouth, no more than it could from mine, almost. Then they dropped to
four, and then to two, and pretended that the roads were easier."

"When I was down the coast, last week, so far as Littlehampton," said
a stout young man in the corner, "a very coorous thing happened me,
leastways by my own opinion, and glad shall I be to have the judgment
of Cappen Zeb consarning it. There come in there a queer-rigged craft
of some sixty ton from Halvers, desiring to set up trade again, or to do
some smoogling, or spying perhaps. Her name was the Doctor Humm, which
seem a great favorite with they Crappos, and her skipper had a queer
name too, as if he was two men in one, for he called himself 'Jacks'; a
fellow about forty year old, as I hauled out of the sea with a boat-hook
one night on the Varners. Well, he seemed to think a good deal of that,
though contrary to their nature, and nothing would do but I must go to
be fated with him everywhere, if the folk would change his money. He had
picked up a decent bit of talk from shipping in the oyster line before
the war; and I put his lingo into order for him, for which he was very
thankful."

"And so he was bound to be. But you had no call to do it, Charley
Bowles." Captain Tugwell spoke severely, and the young man felt that he
was wrong, for the elders shook their heads at him, as a traitor to the
English language.

"Well, main likely, I went amiss. But he seemed to take it so uncommon
kind of me hitching him with a boat-hook, that we got on together
wonderful, and he called me 'Friar Sharley,' and he tried to take up
with our manners and customs; but his head was outlandish for English
grog. One night he was three sheets in the wind, at a snug little crib
by the river, and he took to the brag as is born with them. 'All dis
contray in one year now,' says he, nodding over his glass at me, 'shall
be of the grand nashong, and I will make a great man of you, Friar
Sharley. Do you know what prawns are, my good friend?' Well, I said I
had caught a good many in my time; but he laughed and said, 'Prawns will
catch you this time. One tousand prawns, all with two hondred men inside
him, and the leetle prawns will come to land at your house, Sharley.
Bootiful place, quiet sea, no bad rocks. You look out in the morning,
and the white coast is made black with them.' Now what do you say to
that, Cappen Tugwell?"

"I've a-heered that style of talk many times afore," Master Tugwell
answered, solidly; "and all I can say is that I should have punched his
head. And you deserve the same thing, Charley Bowles, unless you've got
more than that to tell us."

"So I might, Cappen, and I won't deny you there. But the discourse were
consarning Squire Carne now just, and the troubles he fell into, before
I was come to my judgment yet. Why, an uncle of mine served footman
there--Jeremiah Bowles, known to every one, until he was no more heard
of."

Nods of assent to the fame of Jeremiah encouraged the stout young man in
his tale, and a wedge of tobacco rekindled him.

"Yes, it were a coorous thing indeed, and coorous for me to hear of it,
out of all mast-head of Springhaven. Says Moosoo Jacks to me, that night
when I boused him up unpretending: 'You keep your feather eye open, my
tear,' for such was his way of pronouncing it, 'and you shall arrive to
laglore, laglore--and what is still nobler, de monnay. In one two tree
month, you shall see a young captain returned to his contray dominion,
and then you will go to his side and say Jacks, and he will make present
to you a sack of silver.' Well, I hailed the chance of this pretty
smart, you may suppose, and I asked him what the sailor's name would be,
and surprised I was when he answered Carne, or Carny, for he gave it in
two syllables. Next morning's tide, the Doctor Humm cleared out, and I
had no other chance of discourse with Moosoo Jacks. But I want to know
what you think, Cappen Zeb."

"So you shall," said the captain of Springhaven, sternly. "I think
you had better call your Moosoo Jacks 'Master Jackass,' or 'Master
Jackanapes,' and put your own name on the back of him. You been with a
Frenchman hob and nobbing, and you don't even know how they pronounce
themselves, unchristian as it is to do so. 'Jarks' were his name, the
very same as Navy beef, and a common one in that country. But to speak
of any Carne coming nigh us with French plottings, and of prawns landing
here at Springhaven--'tis as likely as I should drop French money into
the till of this baccy-box. And you can see that I be not going to play
such a trick as that, John Prater."

"Why to my mind there never was bigger stuff talked," the landlord spoke
out, without fear of offence, for there was no other sign-board within
three miles, "than to carry on in that way, Charley. What they may do
at Littlehampton is beyond my knowledge, never having kept a snug crib
there, as you was pleased to call it. But at Springhaven 'twould be the
wrong place for hatching of French treacheries. We all know one another
a deal too well for that, I hope."

"Prater, you are right," exclaimed Mr. Cheeseman, owner of the main shop
in the village, and universally respected. "Bowles, you must have an
imagination the same as your uncle Jerry had. And to speak of the Carnes
in a light way of talking, after all their misfortunes, is terrible.
Why, I passed the old castle one night last week, with the moon to one
side of it, and only me in my one-horse shay to the other, and none but
a man with a first-rate conscience would have had the stomach to do so.
However, I seed no ghosts that time, though I did hear some noises as
made me use the whip; and the swing of the ivy was black as a hearse. A
little drop more of my own rum, John: it gives me quite a chill to think
of it."

"I don't take much account of what people say," Harry Shanks, who had a
deep clear voice, observed, "without it is in my own family. But my
own cousin Bob was coming home one night from a bit of sweethearting at
Pebbleridge, when, to save the risk of rabbit-holes in the dark, for he
put out his knee-cap one time, what does he do but take the path inland
through the wood below Carne Castle--the opposite side to where you
was, Master Cheeseman, and the same side as the moon would be, only she
wasn't up that night. Well, he had some misgivings, as anybody must;
still he pushed along, whistling and swinging his stick, and saying to
himself that there was no such thing as cowardice in our family;
till just at the corner where the big yew-tree is, that we sometimes
starboard helm by when the tide is making with a nor'west wind; there
Bob seed a sight as made his hair crawl. But I won't say another word
about it now, and have to go home in the dark by myself arter'ards."

"Come, now, Harry!" "Oh, we can't stand that!" "We'll see you to your
door, lad, if you out with it, fair and forcible."

Of these and other exhortations Harry took no notice, but folded his
arms across his breast, and gazed at something which his mind presented.

"Harry Shanks, you will have the manners"--Captain Tugwell spoke
impressively, not for his own sake, for he knew the tale, and had been
consulted about it, but from sense of public dignity--"to finish the
story which you began. To begin a yarn of your own accord, and then
drop it all of a heap, is not respectful to present company. Springhaven
never did allow such tricks, and will not put up with them from any
young fellow. If your meaning was to drop it, you should never have
begun."

Glasses and even pipes rang sharply upon the old oak table in applause
of this British sentiment, and the young man, with a sheepish look,
submitted to the voice of the public.

"Well, then, all of you know where the big yew-tree stands, at the break
of the hill about half a mile inland, and how black it looms among the
other stuff. But Bob, with his sweetheart in his head, no doubt, was
that full of courage that he forgot all about the old tree, and the
murder done inside it a hundred and twenty years ago, they say, until
there it was, over his head a'most, with the gaps in it staring like
ribs at him. 'Bout ship was the word, pretty sharp, you may be sure,
when he come to his wits consarning it, and the purse of his lips, as
was whistling a jig, went as dry as a bag with the bottom out. Through
the grey of the night there was sounds coming to him, such as had no
right to be in the air, and a sort of a shiver laid hold of his heart,
like a cold hand flung over his shoulder. As hard as he could lay foot
to the ground, away he went down hill, forgetting of his kneecap, for
such was the condition of his mind and body.

"You must understand, mates, that he hadn't seen nothing to skeer him,
but only heard sounds, which come into his ears to make his hair rise;
and his mind might have put into them more than there was, for the want
of intarpreting. Perhaps this come across him, as soon as he felt at
a better distance with his wind short; anyhow, he brought up again'
a piece of rock-stuff in a hollow of the ground, and begun to look
skeerily backward. For a bit of a while there was nothing to distemper
him, only the dark of the hill and the trees, and the grey light
a-coming from the sea in front. But just as he were beginning for to
call himself a fool, and to pick himself onto his legs for trudging
home, he seed a thing as skeered him worse than ever, and fetched him
flat upon his lower end.

"From the black of the yew-tree there burst a big light, brighter than
a lighthouse or a blue thunder-bolt, and flying with a long streak down
the hollow, just as if all the world was a-blazing. Three times it come,
with three different colours, first blue, and then white, and then
red as new blood; and poor Bob was in a condition of mind must be seen
before saying more of it. If he had been brought up to follow the sea,
instead of the shoemaking, maybe his wits would have been more about
him, and the narves of his symptom more ship-shape. But it never was
borne into his mind whatever, to keep a lookout upon the offing, nor
even to lie snug in the ferns and watch the yew-tree. All he was up
for was to make all sail, the moment his sticks would carry it; and he
feared to go nigh his sweetheart any more, till she took up with another
fellow."

"And sarve him quite right," was the judgment of the room, in high
fettle with hot rum and water; "to be skeered of his life by a
smuggler's signal! Eh, Cappen Zebedee, you know that were it?"

But the captain of Springhaven shook his head.



CHAPTER XIII

WHENCE, AND WHEREFORE?


At the rectory, too, ere the end of that week, there was no little
shaking of heads almost as wise as Zebedee Tugwell's. Mrs. Twemlow,
though nearly sixty years of age, and acquainted with many a sorrow, was
as lively and busy and notable as ever, and even more determined to
be the mistress of the house. For by this time her daughter Eliza,
beginning to be twenty-five years old--a job which takes some years in
finishing--began at the same time to approve her birth by a vigorous aim
at the mastery. For, as everybody said, Miss Eliza was a Carne in
blood and breed and fibre. There was little of the Twemlow stock about
her--for the Twemlows were mild and humorous--but plenty of the strength
and dash and wildness and contemptuous spirit of the ancient Carnes.

Carne a carne, as Mr. Twemlow said, when his wife was inclined to be
masterful--a derivation confirmed by the family motto, "Carne non
caret carne." In the case, however, of Mrs. Twemlow, age, affliction,
experience, affection, and perhaps above all her good husband's larger
benevolence and placidity, had wrought a great change for the better,
and made a nice old lady of her. She was tall and straight and slender
still; and knew how to make the most, by grave attire and graceful
attitude, of the bodily excellence entailed for ages on the lineage
of Carne. Of moral goodness there had not been an equally strict
settlement, at least in male heredity. So that Mrs. Twemlow's thoughts
about her kith and kindred were rather sad than proud, unless some
ignorance was shown about them.

"Poor as I am," said Mr. Twemlow, now consulting with her, "and poor as
every beneficed clergyman must be, if this war returns, I would rather
have lost a hundred pounds than have heard what you tell me, Maria."

"My dear, I cannot quite see that," his wife made thoughtful answer;
"if he only had money to keep up the place, and clear off those nasty
incumbrances, I should rejoice at his coming back to live where we have
been for centuries."

"My dear, you are too poetical, though the feeling is a fine one. Within
the old walls there can scarcely be a room that has a sound floor to
it. And as for the roof, when that thunder-storm was, and I took shelter
with my pony--well, you know the state I came home in, and all my best
clothes on for the Visitation. Luckily there seems to be no rheumatism
in your family, Maria; and perhaps he is too young as yet to pay out for
it till he gets older. But if he comes for business, and to see to the
relics of his property, surely he might have a bedroom here, and come
and go at his liking. After all his foreign fanglements, a course of
quiet English life and the tone of English principles might be of the
greatest use to him. He would never wish to see the Continent again."

"It is not to be thought of," said Mrs. Twemlow. "I would not have him
to live in this house for fifty thousand pounds a year. You are a
great deal wiser than I am, Joshua; but of his nature you know nothing,
whereas I know it from his childhood. And Eliza is so strong-willed
and stubborn--you dislike, of course, to hear me say it, but it is the
fact--it is, my dear. And I would rather stand by our daughter's grave
than see her fall in love with Caryl Carne. You know what a handsome
young man he must be now, and full of French style and frippery. I am
sure it is most kind of you to desire to help my poor family; but you
would rue the day, my dear, that brought him beneath our quiet roof.
I have lost my only son, as it seems, by the will of the Lord, who
afflicts us. But I will not lose my only daughter, by any such folly of
my own."

Tears rolled down Mrs. Twemlow's cheeks as she spoke of her mysterious
affliction; and her husband, who knew that she was not weak-minded,
consoled her by sharing her sorrow.

"It shall be exactly as you like," he said, after a quiet interval. "You
say that no answer is needed; and there is no address to send one to. We
shall hear of it, of course, when he takes possession, if, indeed, he is
allowed to do so."

"Who is to prevent him from coming, if he chooses, to live in the home
of his ancestors? The estates are all mortgaged, and the park is gone,
turned into a pound for Scotch cattle-breeding. But the poor old castle
belongs to us still, because no one would take the expense of it."

"And because of the stories concerning it, Maria. Your nephew Caryl is
a brave young fellow if he means to live there all alone, and I fear he
can afford himself no company. You understand him so much better: what
do you suppose his motive is?"

"I make no pretence to understand him, dear, any more than his poor
father could. My dear brother was of headstrong order, and it did him
no good to contradict him, and indeed it was dangerous to do so; but his
nature was as simple as a child's almost, to any one accustomed to him.
If he had not married that grand French lady, who revelled in every
extravagance, though she knew how we all were impoverished, he might
have been living and in high position now, though a good many years my
senior. And the worst of it was that he did it at a time when he ought
to have known so much better. However, he paid for it bitterly enough,
and his only child was set against him."

"A very sad case altogether," said the rector. "I remember, as if it
were yesterday, how angry poor Montagu was with me. You remember what
words he used, and his threat of attacking me with his horsewhip. But he
begged my pardon, most humbly, as soon as he saw how thoroughly right I
was. You are like him in some things, as I often notice, but not quite
so generous in confessing you were wrong."

"Because I don't do it as he did, Joshua. You would never understand me
if I did. But of course for a man you can make allowance. My rule is to
do it both for men and women, quite as fairly as if one was the other."

"Certainly, Maria--certainly. And therefore you can do it, and have
always done it, even for poor Josephine. No doubt there is much to be
pleaded, by a candid and gentle mind, on her behalf."

"What! that dreadful creature who ruined my poor brother, and called
herself the Countess de Lune, or some such nonsense! No, Joshua, no!
I have not so entirely lost all English principle as to quite do that.
Instead of being largeness, that would be mere looseness."

"There are many things, however, that we never understood, and perhaps
never shall in this world," Mr. Twemlow continued, as if talking to
himself, for reason on that subject would be misaddressed to her; "and
nothing is more natural than that young Caryl should side with his
mother, who so petted him, against his poor father, who was violent and
harsh, especially when he had to pay such bills. But perhaps our good
nephew has amassed some cash, though there seems to be but little on the
Continent, after all this devastation. Is there anything, Maria, in his
letter to enable us to hope that he is coming home with money?"

"Not a word, I am afraid," Mrs. Twemlow answered, sadly. "But take it,
my dear, and read it to me slowly. You make things so plain, because
of practice every Sunday. Oh, Joshua, I never can be sure which you
are greatest in--the Lessons or the Sermon. But before you begin I will
shoot the bolt a little, as if it had caught by accident. Eliza does
rush in upon us sometimes in the most unbecoming, unladylike way. And I
never can get you to reprove her."

"It would be as much as my place is worth, as the maids say when
imagined to have stolen sugar. And I must not read this letter so loud
as the Lessons, unless you wish Lizzie to hear every word, for she has
all her mother's quick senses. There is not much of it, and the scrawl
seems hasty. We might have had more for three and fourpence. But I am
not the one to grumble about bad measure--as the boy said about old
Busby. Now, Maria, listen, but say nothing; if feminine capacity may
compass it. Why, bless my heart, every word of it is French!" The rector
threw down his spectacles, and gazed at his wife reproachfully. But she
smiled with superior innocence.

"What else could you expect, after all his years abroad? I cannot
make out the whole of it, for certain. But surely it is not beyond the
compass of masculine capacity."

"Yes, it is, Maria; and you know it well enough. No honest Englishman
can endure a word of French. Latin, or Greek, or even Hebrew--though I
took to that rather late in life. But French is only fit for women, and
very few of them can manage it. Let us hear what this Frenchman says."

"He is not a Frenchman, Joshua. He is an Englishman, and probably a very
fine one. I won't be sure about all of his letter, because it is so long
since I was at school; and French books are generally unfit to read. But
the general meaning is something like this:


'MY BELOVED AND HIGHLY VALUED AUNT,--Since I heard from you there
are many years now, but I hope you have held me in memory. I have the
intention of returning to the country of England, even in this bad time
of winter, when the climate is most funereal. I shall do my best to call
back, if possible, the scattered ruins of the property, and to institute
again the name which my father made displeasing. In this good work you
will, I have faith, afford me your best assistance, and the influence
of your high connection in the neighbourhood. Accept, dear aunt, the
assurance of my highest consideration, of the most sincere and the most
devoted, and allow me the honour of writing myself your most loving and
respectful nephew,

'CARYL CARNE.'


Now, Joshua, what do you think of that?"

"Fine words and no substance; like all French stuff. And he never even
mentions me, who gave him a top, when he should have had the whip. I
will not pretend to understand him, for he always was beyond me. Dark
and excitable, moody and capricious, haughty and sarcastic, and devoid
of love for animals. You remember his pony, and what he did to it, and
the little dog that crawled upon her stomach towards him. For your
sake I would have put up with him, my dear, and striven to improve his
nature, which is sure to be much worse at six-and-twenty, after so many
years abroad. But I confess it is a great relief to me that you wisely
prefer not to have him in this house, any more at least than we can help
it. But who comes here? What a hurry we are in! Lizzie, my darling, be
patient."

"Here's this plague of a door barred and bolted again! Am I not to have
an atom of breakfast, because I just happened to oversleep myself? The
mornings get darker and darker; it is almost impossible to see to dress
oneself."

"There is plenty of tinder in the house, Eliza, and plenty of good
tallow candles," Mrs. Twemlow replied, having put away the letter, while
her husband let the complainant in. "For the third time this week
we have had prayers without you, and the example is shocking for the
servants. We shall have to establish the rule you suggest--too late to
pray for food, too late to get it. But I have kept your help of bacon
hot, quite hot, by the fire. And the teapot is under the cozy."

"Thank you, dear mother," the young lady answered, careless of words,
if deeds were in her favour, and too clever to argue the question. "I
suppose there is no kind of news this morning to reward one for getting
up so early."

"Nothing whatever for you, Miss Lizzie," said her father, as soon as he
had kissed her. "But the paper is full of the prospects of war, and the
extent of the preparations. If we are driven to fight again, we shall do
it in earnest, and not spare ourselves."

"Nor our enemies either, I do hope with all my heart. How long are we to
be afraid of them? We have always invaded the French till now. And for
them to talk of invading us! There is not a bit of spirit left in this
island, except in the heart of Lord Nelson."

"What a hot little patriot this child is!" said the father, with a quiet
smile at her. "What would she say to an Englishman, who was more French
than English, and would only write French letters? And yet it might be
possible to find such people."

"If such a wretch existed," cried Miss Twemlow, "I should like to
crunch him as I crunch this toast. For a Frenchman I can make all fair
allowance, because he cannot help his birth. But for an Englishman to
turn Frenchman--"

"However reluctant we may be to allow it," the candid rector argued,
"they are the foremost nation in the world, just now, for energy,
valour, decision, discipline, and I fear I must add patriotism. The
most wonderful man who has appeared in the world for centuries is their
leader, and by land his success has been almost unbroken. If we must
have war again, as I fear we must, and very speedily, our chief hope
must be that the Lord will support His cause against the scoffer and the
infidel, the libertine and the assassin."

"You see how beautifully your father puts it, Eliza; but he never abuses
people. That is a habit in which, I am sorry to say, you indulge too
freely. You show no good feeling to anybody who differs from you in
opinion, and you talk as if Frenchmen had no religion, no principles,
and no humanity. And what do you know about them, pray? Have you ever
spoken to a Frenchman? Have you ever even seen one? Would you know one
if you even set eyes upon him?"

"Well, I am not at all sure that I should," the young lady replied,
being thoroughly truthful; "and I have no wish for the opportunity. But
I have seen a French woman, mother; and that is quite enough for me. If
they are so, what must the men be?"

"There is a name for this process of feminine reasoning, this cumulative
and syncopetic process of the mind, entirely feminine (but regarded by
itself as rational), a name which I used to know well in the days when I
had the ten Fallacies at my fingers' ends, more tenaciously perhaps
than the Decalogue. Strange to say, the name is gone from my memory;
but--but--"

"But then you had better go after it, my dear," his wife suggested with
authority. "If your only impulse when you hear reason is to search after
hard names for it, you are safer outside of its sphere altogether."

"I am struck with the truth of that remark," observed the rector; "and
the more so because I descry a male member of our race approaching, with
a hat--at once the emblem and the crown of sound reason. Away with all
fallacies; it is Church-warden Cheeseman!"



CHAPTER XIV

A HORRIBLE SUGGESTION


"Can you guess what has brought me down here in this hurry?" Lord
Nelson asked Admiral Darling, having jumped like a boy from his yellow
post-chaise, and shaken his old friend's broad right hand with his
slender but strenuous left one, even as a big bell is swung by a thin
rope. "I have no time to spare--not a day, not an hour; but I made up my
mind to see you before I start. I cannot expect to come home alive, and,
except for one reason, I should not wish it."

"Nonsense!" said the Admiral, who was sauntering near his upper gate,
and enjoying the world this fine spring morning; "you are always in
such a confounded hurry! When you come to my time of life, you will know
better. What is it this time? The Channel fleet again?"

"No, no; Billy Blue keeps that, thank God! I hate looking after a school
of herring-boats. The Mediterranean for me, my friend. I received the
order yesterday, and shall be at sea by the twentieth."

"I am very glad to hear it, for your sake. If ever there was a restless
fellow--in the good old times we were not like that. Come up to the
house and talk about it; at least they must take the horses out. They
are not like you; they can't work forever."

"And they don't get knocked about like me; though one of them has lost
his starboard eye, and he sails and steers all the better for it. Let
them go up to the stable, Darling, while you come down to the beach with
me. I want to show you something."

"What crotchet is in his too active brain now?" the elder and stronger
man asked himself, as he found himself hooked by the right arm, and led
down a track through the trees scarcely known to himself, and quite
out of sight from the village. "Why, this is not the way to the beach!
However, it is never any good to oppose him. He gets his own way so
because of his fame. Or perhaps that's the way he got his fame. But to
show me about over my own land! But let him go on, let him go on."

"You are wondering, I dare say, what I am about," cried Nelson, stopping
suddenly, and fixing his sound eye--which was wonderfully keen, though
he was always in a fright about it--upon the large and peaceful blinkers
of his ancient commander; "but now I shall be able to convince you,
though I am not a land-surveyor, nor even a general of land-forces. If
God Almighty prolongs my life--which is not very likely--it will be that
I may meet that scoundrel, Napoleon Bonaparte, on dry land. I hear
that he is eager to encounter me on the waves, himself commanding a
line-of-battle ship. I should send him to the devil in a quarter of an
hour. And ashore I could astonish him, I think, a little, if I had a
good army to back me up. Remember what I did at Bastia, in the land that
produced this monster, and where I was called the Brigadier; and again,
upon the coast of Italy, I showed that I understood all their dry-ground
business. Tush! I can beat him, ashore and afloat; and I shall, if I
live long enough. But this time the villain is in earnest, I believe,
with his trumpery invasion; and as soon as he hears that I am gone,
he will make sure of having his own way. We know, of course, there are
fifty men as good as myself to stop him, including you, my dear Darling;
but everything goes by reputation--the noise of the people--praise-puff.
That's all I get; while the luckier fellows, like Cathcart, get the
prize-money. But I don't want to grumble. Now what do you see?"

"Well, I see you, for one thing," the Admiral answered, at his leisure,
being quite inured to his friend's quick fire, "and wearing a coat that
would be a disgrace to any other man in the navy. And further on I see
some land that I never shall get my rent for; and beyond that nothing
but the sea, with a few fishing-craft inshore, and in the offing a sail,
an outward-bound East Indiaman--some fool who wouldn't wait for convoy,
with war as good as proclaimed again."

"Nothing but the sea, indeed? The sweep of the land, and the shelter
of the bay, the shoaling of the shore without a rock to break it, the
headland that shuts out both wind and waves; and outside the headland,
off Pebbleridge, deep water for a fleet of line-of-battle ships to
anchor and command the land approaches--moreover, a stream of the purest
water from deep and never-failing springs--Darling, the place of all
places in England for the French to land is opposite to your front
door."

"I am truly obliged to you for predicting, and to them for doing it, if
ever they attempt such impudence. If they find out that you are away,
they can also find out that I am here, as commander of the sea defences,
from Dungeness to Selsey-Bill."

"That will make it all the more delightful to land at your front door,
my friend; and all the easier to do it. My own plan is to strike with
all force at the head-quarters of the enemy, because the most likely to
be unprepared. About a year ago, when I was down here, a little before
my dear father's death, without your commission I took command of your
fishing-craft coming home for their Sunday, and showed them how to
take the beach, partly to confirm my own suspicions. There is no other
landing on all the south coast, this side of Hayling Island, fit to be
compared with it for the use of flat-bottomed craft, such as most of
Boney's are. And remember the set of the tide, which makes the fortunes
of your fishermen. To be sure, he knows nothing of that himself; but he
has sharp rogues about him. If they once made good their landing here,
it would be difficult to dislodge them. It must all be done from the
land side then, for even a 42-gun frigate could scarcely come near
enough to pepper them. They love shoal water, the skulks--and that has
enabled them to baffle me so often. Not that they would conquer the
country--all brag--but still it would be a nasty predicament, and scare
the poor cockneys like the very devil."

"But remember the distance from Boulogne, Hurry. If they cannot cross
twenty-five miles of channel in the teeth of our ships, what chance
would they have when the distance is nearer eighty?"

"A much better chance, if they knew how to do it. All our cruisers would
be to the eastward. One afternoon perhaps, when a haze is on, they make
a feint with light craft toward the Scheldt--every British ship crowds
sail after them. Then, at dusk, the main body of the expedition slips
with the first of the ebb to the westward; they meet the flood tide in
mid-channel, and using their long sweeps are in Springhaven, or at any
rate the lightest of them, by the top of that tide, just when you
are shaving. You laugh at such a thought of mine. I tell you, my dear
friend, that with skill and good luck it is easy; and do it they should,
if they were under my command."

If anybody else had even talked of such a plan as within the bounds of
likelihood, Admiral Darling would have been almost enraged. But now he
looked doubtfully, first at the sea (as if it might be thick with prames
already), and then at the land--which was his own--as if the rent might
go into a Frenchman's pocket, and then at his old and admired friend,
who had ruined his sleep for the summer.

"Happily they are not under your command, and they have no man to
compare with you;" he spoke rather nervously; while Nelson smiled,
for he loved the praise which he had so well earned; "and if it were
possible for you to talk nonsense, I should say that you had done it
now. But two things surely you have overlooked. In the first place, the
French can have no idea of the special opportunities this place affords.
And again, if they had, they could do nothing, without a pilot well
acquainted with the spot. Though the landing is so easy, there are
shoals outside, very intricate and dangerous, and known to none except
the natives of the place, who are jealous to the last degree about their
knowledge."

"That is true enough; and even I should want a pilot here, though I
know every spit of sand eastward. But away fly both your difficulties if
there should happen to be a local traitor."

"A traitor at Springhaven! Such a thing is quite impossible. You would
laugh at yourself, if you only knew the character of our people. There
never has been, and there never will be, a Springhaven man capable of
treachery."

"That is good news, ay, and strange news too," the visitor answered,
with his left hand on his sword, for he was now in full though rather
shabby uniform. "There are not many traitors in England, I believe; but
they are as likely to be found in one place as another, according to my
experience. Well, well, I am very glad you have no such scoundrels here.
I won't say a single word against your people, who are as fine a lot
as any in the south of England, and as obstinate as any I could wish to
see. Of an obstinate man I can always make good; with a limp one I can
do nothing. But bear in mind every word you have heard me say, because I
came down on purpose about it; and I generally penetrate the devices of
the enemy, though they lead me on a wild-goose-chase sometimes, but only
when our own folk back them up, either by lies or stupidity. Now look
once more, for you are slower as well as a great deal wiser than I am.
You see how this land-locked bight of Springhaven seems made by the
Almighty for flat-bottomed craft, if once they can find their way into
it; while the trend of the coast towards Pebbleridge is equally suited
for the covering fleet, unless a gale from southwest comes on, in
which case they must run for it. And you see that the landed force, by
crowning the hill above your house and across the valley, might defy
our noble Volunteers, and all that could be brought against them, till a
hundred thousand cutthroats were established here. And Boney would make
his head-quarters at the Hall, with a French cook in your kitchen, and
a German butler in your cellar, and my pretty godchild to wait upon him,
for the rogue loves pretty maidens."

"That will do. That is quite enough. No wonder you have written poems,
Nelson, as you told us the last time you were here. If my son had only
got your imagination--but perhaps you know something more than you have
told me. Perhaps you have been told--"

"Never mind about that," the great sea-captain answered, turning away
as if on springs; "it is high time for me to be off again, and my chaise
has springs on her cables."

"Not she. I have ordered her to be docked. Dine with us you shall this
day, if we have to dine two hours earlier, and though Mother Cloam rage
furiously. How much longer do you suppose you can carry on at this pace?
Look at me. I have double your bodily substance; but if I went on as
you do--you remember the twenty-four-pounder old Hotcoppers put into the
launch, and fired it, in spite of all I could say to him? Well, you are
just the same. You have not got the scantling for the metal you carry
and are always working. You will either blow up, or else scuttle
yourself. Look here, how your seams are opening!" Here Admiral Darling
thrust his thumb through the ravelled seam of his old friend's coat,
which made him jump back, for he loved his old coat. "Yes, and you will
go in the very same way. I wonder how any coat lasts so much as a month,
with you inside it."

"This coat," said Nelson, who was most sweet-tempered with any one he
loved, though hot as pepper when stirred up by strangers--"this coat is
the one I wore at Copenhagen, and a sounder and kinder coat never came
on a man's back. Charles Darling, you have made a bad hit this time.
If I am no more worn out than this coat is, I am fit to go to sea for a
number of years yet. And I hope to show it to a good many Frenchmen, and
take as many ships, every time they show fight, as there are buttons on
it."

"Then you will double all your captures at the Nile;" such a series of
buttons had this coat, though mostly loose upon their moorings, for his
guardian angel was not "domestic"; "but you may be trusted not to let
them drift so. You have given me a lesson in coast-defence, and now you
shall be boarded by the ladies. You possess some gifts of the tongue,
my friend, as well as great gifts of hand and eye; but I will back my
daughters to beat you there. Come up to the house. No turning of tail."

"I spoke very well in the House of Lords," said Nelson, in his simple
way, "in reply to the speech of his Majesty, and again about the
Commissioner's Bill; or at least everybody tells me so. But in the House
of Ladies I hold my tongue, because there is abundance without it."

This, however, he failed to do when the matter came to the issue; for
his godchild Horatia, more commonly called Dolly, happened to be in the
mood for taking outrageous liberties with him. She possessed very little
of that gift--most precious among women--the sense of veneration; and to
her a hero was only a man heroic in acts of utility. "He shall do it,"
she said to Faith, when she heard that he was come again; "if I have to
kiss him, he shall do it; and I don't like kissing those old men."

"Hush!" said her elder sister. "Dolly, you do say things so recklessly.
One would think that you liked to kiss younger men! But I am sure that
is not your meaning. I would rather kiss Lord Nelson than all the young
men in the kingdom."

"Well done, Faith! All the young men in the kingdom! How recklessly you
do say things! And you can't kiss him--he is MY godfather. But just see
how I get round him, if you have wits enough to understand it."

So these two joined in their kind endeavour to make the visitor useful,
the object being so good that doubtful means might be excused for it.
In different ways and for divers reasons, each of these young ladies now
had taken to like Blyth Scudamore. Faith, by power of pity first, and of
grief for her own misfortunes, and of admiration for his goodness to his
widowed mother--which made his best breeches shine hard at the knees;
and Dolly, because of his shy adoration, and dauntless defence of her
against a cow (whose calf was on the road to terminate in veal), as well
as his special skill with his pocket-knife in cutting out figures that
could dance, and almost sing; also his great gifts, when the tide was
out, of making rare creatures run after him. What avails to explore
female reason precisely?--their minds were made up that he must be a
captain, if Nelson had to build the ship with his one hand for him.

"After that, there is nothing more to be said," confessed the vanquished
warrior; "but the daughters of an Admiral should know that no man can be
posted until he has served his time as lieutenant; and this young hero
of yours has never even held the King's commission yet. But as he has
seen some service, and is beyond the age of a middy, in the present
rush he might get appointed as junior lieutenant, if he had any stout
seconders. Your father is the man, he is always at hand, and can watch
his opportunity. He knows more big-wigs than I do, and he has not given
offence where I have. Get your father, my dears, to attend to it."

But the ladies were not to be so put off, for they understood the
difference of character. Lord Nelson was as sure to do a thing as
Admiral Darling was to drop it if it grew too heavy. Hence it came
to pass that Blyth Scudamore, though failing of the Victory and
Amphion--which he would have chosen, if the choice were his--received
with that cheerful philosophy (which had made him so dear to the
school-boys, and was largely required among them) his appointment as
junior lieutenant to the 38-gun frigate Leda, attached to the Channel
fleet under Cornwallis, whose business it was to deal with the French
flotilla of invasion.



CHAPTER XV

ORDEAL OF AUDIT


England saw the growing danger, and prepared, with an even mind and
well-girt body, to confront it. As yet stood up no other country to help
or even comfort her, so cowed was all the Continent by the lash, and
spur of an upstart. Alone, encumbered with the pack of Ireland, pinched
with hunger and dearth of victuals, and cramped with the colic of
Whiggery, she set her strong shoulder to the wheel of fortune, and so
kept it till the hill was behind her. Some nations (which owe their
existence to her) have forgotten these things conveniently; an
Englishman hates to speak of them, through his unjust abhorrence of
self-praise; and so does a Frenchman, by virtue of motives equally
respectable.

But now the especial danger lay in the special strength of England.
Scarcely any man along the coast, who had ever come across a Frenchman,
could be led (by quotations from history or even from newspapers) to
believe that there was any sense in this menace of his to come and
conquer us. Even if he landed, which was not likely--for none of them
could box the compass--the only thing he took would be a jolly good
thrashing, and a few pills of lead for his garlic. This lofty contempt
on the part of the seafaring men had been enhanced by Nelson, and throve
with stoutest vigour in the enlightened breasts of Springhaven.

Yet military men thought otherwise, and so did the owners of crops and
ricks, and so did the dealers in bacon and eggs and crockery, and even
hardware. Mr. Cheeseman, for instance, who left nothing unsold that he
could turn a penny by, was anything but easy in his mind, and dreamed
such dreams as he could not impart to his wife--on account of her
tendency to hysterics--but told with much power to his daughter Polly,
now the recognised belle of Springhaven. This vigilant grocer and
butterman, tea, coffee, tobacco, and snuffman, hosier also, and general
provider for the outer as well as the inner man, had much of that
enterprise in his nature which the country believes to come from London.
His possession of this was ascribed by all persons of a thoughtful turn
to his ownership of that well-built schooner the London Trader. Sailing
as she did, when the weather was fine, nearly every other week, for
London, and returning with equal frequency, to the women who had never
been ten miles from home she was a mystery and a watchword. Not one of
them would allow lad of hers to join this romantic galleon, and tempt
the black cloud of the distance; neither did Mr. Cheeseman yearn (for
reasons of his own about city prices) to navigate this good ship with
natives. Moreover, it was absurd, as he said, with a keen sense of his
own cheapness, to suppose that he could find the funds to buy and ply
such a ship as that!

Truth is a fugitive creature, even when she deigns to be visible, or
even to exist. The truth of Mr. Cheeseman's statement had existed, but
was long since flown. Such was his worth that he could now afford to buy
the London Trader three times over, and pay ready money every time. But
when he first invested hard cash in her--against the solid tears of his
prudent wife--true enough it was that he could only scrape together one
quarter of the sum required. Mrs. Cheeseman, who was then in a condition
of absorbing interest with Polly, made it her last request in this
world--for she never expected to get over it--that Jemmy should not
run in debt on a goose-chase, and fetch her poor spirit from its grave
again. James Cheeseman was compelled--as the noblest man may be--to
dissemble and even deny his intentions until the blessed period of
caudle-cup, when, the weather being pleasant and the wind along the
shore, he found himself encouraged to put up the window gently. The
tide was coming in with a long seesaw, and upon it, like the baby in the
cradle full of sleep, lay rocking another little stranger, or rather a
very big one, to the lady's conception.

Let bygones be bygones. There were some reproaches; but the weaker
vessel, Mrs. Cheeseman, at last struck flag, without sinking, as she
threatened to do. And when little Polly went for her first airing, the
London Trader had accomplished her first voyage, and was sailing in
triumphantly with a box of "tops and bottoms" from the ancient firm in
Threadneedle Street, which has saved so many infants from the power that
cuts the thread. After that, everything went as it should go, including
this addition to the commercial strength of Britain, which the lady was
enabled soon to talk of as "our ship," and to cite when any question
rose of the latest London fashion. But even now, when a score of years,
save one, had made their score and gone, Mrs. Cheeseman only guessed and
doubted as to the purchase of her ship. James Cheeseman knew the value
of his own counsel, and so kept it; and was patted on both shoulders by
the world, while he patted his own butter.

He wore an apron of the purest white, with shoulder-straps of linen
tape, and upon his counter he had a desk, with a carved oak rail in
front of it and returned at either end. The joy of his life was here to
stand, with goodly shirt sleeves shining, his bright cheeks also shining
in the sun, unless it were hot enough to hurt his goods. He was not a
great man, but a good one--in the opinion of all who owed him nothing,
and even in his own estimate, though he owed so much to himself. It was
enough to make any one who possessed a shilling hungry to see him so
clean, so ready, and ruddy among the many good things which his looks
and manner, as well as his words, commended. And as soon as he began
to smack his rosy lips, which nature had fitted up on purpose, over a
rasher, or a cut of gammon, or a keg of best Aylesbury, or a fine red
herring, no customer having a penny in his pocket might struggle hard
enough to keep it there. For the half-hearted policy of fingering
one's money, and asking a price theoretically, would recoil upon the
constitution of the strongest man, unless he could detach from all
cooperation the congenial researches of his eyes and nose. When the
weather was cool and the air full of appetite, and a fine smack of salt
from the sea was sparkling on the margin of the plate of expectation,
there was Mr. Cheeseman, with a knife and fork, amid a presence of
hungrifying goods that beat the weak efforts of imagination. Hams of
the first rank and highest education, springs of pork sweeter than the
purest spring of poetry, pats of butter fragrant as the most delicious
flattery, chicks with breast too ample to require to be broken, and
sometimes prawns from round the headland, fresh enough to saw one
another's heads off, but for being boiled already.

Memory fails to record one-tenth of all the good things gathered there.
And why? Because hope was the power aroused, and how seldom can memory
endorse it! Even in the case of Mr. Cheeseman's wares there were people
who said, after making short work with them, that short weight had
enabled them to do so. And every one living in the village was surprised
to find his own scales require balancing again every time he sent his
little girl to Cheeseman's.

This upright tradesman was attending to his business one cold day in
May, 1803, soon after Nelson sailed from Portsmouth, and he stood with
his beloved pounds of farm-house butter, bladders of lard, and new-laid
eggs, and squares of cream-cheese behind him, with a broad butter-spathe
of white wood in his hand, a long goose-pen tucked over his left ear,
and the great copper scales hanging handy. So strict was his style,
though he was not above a joke, that only his own hands might serve
forth an ounce of best butter to the public. And whenever this was
weighed, and the beam adjusted handsomely to the satisfaction of the
purchaser, down went the butter to be packed upon a shelf uninvaded by
the public eye. Persons too scantily endowed with the greatest of all
Christian virtues had the hardihood to say that Mr. Cheeseman here
indulged in a process of high art discovered by himself. Discoursing
of the weather, or the crops, or perhaps the war, and mourning the
dishonesty of statesmen nowadays, by dexterous undersweep of keen steel
blade, from the bottom of the round, or pat, or roll, he would have away
a thin slice, and with that motion jerk it into the barrel which he kept
beneath his desk.

"Is this, then, the establishment of the illustrious Mr. Cheeseman?"
The time was yet early, and the gentleman who put this question was in
riding dress. The worthy tradesman looked at him, and the rosy hue upon
his cheeks was marbled with a paler tint.

"This is the shop of the 'umble James Cheeseman," he answered, but not
with the alacrity of business. "All things good that are in season, and
nothing kept unseasonable. With what can I have the honor of serving
you, sir?"

"With a little talk." The stranger's manner was not unpleasantly
contemptuous, but lofty, and such as the English shopman loves, and
calls "aristocratic."

"To talk with a gentleman is a pleasure as well as an honour," said
Cheeseman.

"But not in this public establishment." The visitor waved both hands as
he spoke, in a style not then common with Englishmen--though they are
learning eloquent gesticulation now. "It is fine, Mr. Cheeseman; but it
is not--bah, I forget your English words."

"It is fine, sir, as you are good enough to observe"--the humble James
Cheeseman was proud of his shop--"but not, as you remarked, altogether
private. That can hardly be expected, where business is conducted to
suit universal requirements. Polly, my dear, if your mother can spare
you, come and take my place at the desk a few minutes. I have business
inside with this gentleman. You may sell almost anything, except butter.
If any one wants that, they must wait till I come back."

A very pretty damsel, with a cap of foreign lace both adorning and
adorned by her beautiful bright hair, came shyly from a little door
behind the counter, receiving with a quick blush the stranger's earnest
gaze, and returning with a curtsey the courteous flourish of his
looped-up riding-hat. "What a handsome gentleman!" said Polly to
herself; "but there is something very sad and very wild in his
appearance." Her father's conclusion was the same, and his heart misgave
him as he led in this unexpected guest.

"There is no cause for apologies. This place is a very good one,"
the stranger replied, laying down his heavy whip on the table of a
stone-floored room, to which he had been shown. "You are a man of
business, and I am come upon dry business. You can conjecture--is it not
so?--who I am by this time, although I am told that I do not bear any
strong resemblance to my father."

He took off his hat as he spoke, shook back his long black hair, and
fixed his jet-black eyes upon Cheeseman. That upright dealer had not
recovered his usual self-possession yet, but managed to look up--for he
was shorter by a head than his visitor--with a doubtful and enquiring
smile.

"I am Caryl Carne, of Carne Castle, as you are pleased to call it. I
have not been in England these many years; from the death of my father I
have been afar; and now, for causes of my own, I am returned, with hope
of collecting the fragments of the property of my ancestors. It appears
to have been their custom to scatter, but not gather up again. My
intention is to make a sheaf of the relics spread by squanderers, and
snapped up by scoundrels."

"To be sure, to be sure," cried the general dealer; "this is vastly to
your credit, sir, and I wish you all success, sir, and so will all who
have so long respected your ancient and honourable family, sir. Take a
chair, sir--please to take a chair."

"I find very little to my credit," Mr. Carne said, dryly, as he took the
offered chair, but kept his eyes still upon Cheeseman's; "but among that
little is a bond from you, given nearly twenty years agone, and of which
you will retain, no doubt, a vivid recollection."

"A bond, sir--a bond!" exclaimed the other, with his bright eyes
twinkling, as in some business enterprise. "I never signed a bond in all
my life, sir. Why, a bond requires sureties, and nobody ever went surety
for me."

"Bond may not be the proper legal term. It is possible. I know nothing
of the English law. But a document it is, under hand and seal, and your
signature is witnessed, Mr. Cheeseman."

"Ah well! Let me consider. I begin to remember something. But my memory
is not as it used to be, and twenty years makes a great hole in it. Will
you kindly allow me to see this paper, if you have it with you, sir?"

"It is not a paper; it is written upon parchment, and I have not brought
it with me. But I have written down the intention of it, and it is as
follows:

"'This indenture made between James Cheeseman (with a long description),
of the one part, and Montagu Carne (treated likewise), of the other
part, after a long account of some arrangement made between them,
witnesseth that in consideration of the sum of 300 pounds well and truly
paid by the said Montagu Carne to Cheeseman, he, the said Cheeseman,
doth assign, transfer, set over, and so on, to the said Carne, etc., one
equal undivided moiety and one half part of the other moiety of and in a
certain vessel, ship, trading-craft, and so forth, known or thenceforth
to be known as the London Trader, of Springhaven, in the county of
Sussex, by way of security for the interest at the rate of five per
cent. per annum, payable half-yearly, as well as for the principal sum
of 300 pounds, so advanced as aforesaid.'"

"If it should prove, sir, that money is owing," Mr. Cheeseman said, with
that exalted candour which made a weak customer condemn his own eyes and
nose, "no effort on my part shall be wanting, bad as the times are,
to procure it and discharge it. In every commercial transaction I
have found, and my experience is now considerable, that confidence, as
between man and man, is the only true footing to go upon. And how can
true confidence exist, unless--"

"Unless a man shows some honesty. And a man who keeps books such as
these," pursued the visitor, suggesting a small kick to a pile of
ledgers, "can hardly help knowing whether he owes a large sum or whether
he has paid it. But that is not the only question now. In continuation
of that document I find a condition, a clause provisional, that it
shall be at the option of the aforesaid Montagu Carne, and his
representatives, either to receive the interest at the rate before
mentioned and thereby secured, or, if he or they should so prefer, to
take for their own benefit absolutely three-fourths of the net profits,
proceeds, or other increment realised by the trading ventures, or other
employment from time to time, of the said London Trader. Also there is a
covenant for the insurance of the said vessel, and a power of sale, and
some other provisions about access to trading books, etc., with which
you have, no doubt, a good acquaintance, Mr. Cheeseman."

That enterprising merchant, importer of commodities, and wholesale and
retail dealer was fond of assuring his numerous friends that "nothing
ever came amiss to him." But some of them now would have doubted about
this if they had watched his face as carefully as Caryl Carne was
watching it. Mr. Cheeseman could look a hundred people in the face, and
with great vigour too, when a small account was running. But the
sad, contemptuous, and piercing gaze--as if he were hardly worth
penetrating--and the twirl of the black tuft above the lip, and the firm
conviction on the broad white forehead that it was confronting a rogue
too common and shallow to be worth frowning at--all these, and the facts
that were under them, came amiss to the true James Cheeseman.

"I scarcely see how to take this," he said, being clever enough to
suppose that a dash of candour might sweeten the embroilment. "I will
not deny that I was under obligation to your highly respected
father, who was greatly beloved for his good-will to his neighbours.
'Cheeseman,' he used to say, 'I will stand by you. You are the only man
of enterprise in these here parts. Whatever you do is for the good of
Springhaven, which belonged to my family for centuries before those
new-fangled Darlings came. And, Cheeseman, you may trust to the honour
of the Carnes not to grind down a poor man who has his way to make.'
Them were his words, sir; how well I recollect them!"

"Too well almost," replied the young man, coldly, "considering how
scanty was your memory just now. But it may save time, and painful
efforts of your memory, if I tell you at once that I am not concerned in
any way with the sentiments of my father. I owe him very little, as you
must be well aware; and the matter betwixt you and me is strictly one
of business. The position in which I am left is such that I must press
every legal claim to the extremest. And having the option under this
good document, I have determined to insist upon three-quarters of the
clear proceeds of this trading-ship, from the date of the purchase until
the present day, as well as the capital sum invested on this security."

"Very well, sir, if you do, there is only one course left me--to go into
the Court of Bankruptcy, see all my little stock in trade sold up, and
start in life again at the age of fifty-seven, with a curse upon all old
families."

"Your curse, my good friend, will not add sixpence to your credit. And
the heat you exhibit is not well adapted for calculations commercial.
There is one other course which I am able to propose, though I will not
give a promise yet to do so--a course which would relieve me from taking
possession of this noble ship which has made your fortune, and perhaps
from enforcing the strict examination of your trading-books, to which I
am entitled. But before I propose any such concession, which will be
a grand abdication of rights, one or two things become necessary.
For example, I must have some acquaintance with your character, some
certitude that you can keep your own counsel, and not divulge everything
that arrives within your knowledge; also that you have some courage,
some freedom of mind from small insular sentiments, some desire to
promote the true interests of mankind, and the destruction of national
prejudices."

"Certainly, sir; all of those I can approve of. They are very glorious
things," cried Cheeseman--a man of fine liberal vein, whenever two
half-crowns were as good as a crown. "We are cramped and trampled and
down-trodden by the airs big people give themselves, and the longing of
such of us as thinks is to speak our minds about it. Upon that point
of freedom, sir, I can heartily go with you, and every stick upon my
premises is well insured."

"Including, I hope, the London Trader, according to your covenant. And
that reminds me of another question--is it well-found, well-manned, and
a good rapid ship to make the voyage? No falsehood, if you please, about
this matter."

"She is the fastest sailer on the English coast, built at Dunkirk, and
as sound as a bell. She could show her taffrail, in light weather, to
any British cruiser in the Channel. She could run a fine cargo of French
cognac and foreign laces any day."

"It is not my desire," Caryl Carne replied, "to cheat the British
Revenue. For that purpose exist already plenty of British tradesmen. For
the present I impress upon you one thing only, that you shall observe
silence, a sacred silence, regarding this conversation. For your own
sake you will be inclined to do so, and that is the only sake a man pays
much attention to. But how much for your own sake you are obliged to
keep your counsel, you will very soon find out if you betray it."



CHAPTER XVI

FOX-HILL


When it was known in this fine old village that young Squire Carne from
foreign parts was come back to live in the ancient castle, there was
much larger outlay (both of words and thoughts) about that than about
any French invasion. "Let them land if they can," said the able-bodied
men, in discussion of the latter question; "they won't find it so easy
to get away again as they seem to put into their reckoning. But the
plague of it all is the damage to the fishing."

Not that the squadron of Captain Tugwell was shorn as yet of its number,
though all the young men were under notice to hold themselves ready as
"Sea-Fencibles." The injury to their trade lay rather in the difficulty
of getting to their fishing-grounds, and in the disturbance of these by
cruisers, with little respect for their nets and lines. Again, as the
tidings of French preparation waxed more and more outrageous, Zebedee
had as much as he could do to keep all his young hands loyal. All their
solid interest lay (as he told them every morning) in sticking to
the Springhaven flag--a pair of soles couchant, herring salient,
and mackerel regardant, all upon a bright sea-green--rather than in
hankering after roll of drum and Union-Jack. What could come of these
but hardship, want of victuals, wounds, and death; or else to stump
about on one leg, and hold out a hat for a penny with one arm? They felt
that it was true; they had seen enough of that; it had happened in all
their own families.

Yet such is the love of the native land and the yearning to stand in
front of it, and such is the hate of being triumphed over by fellows who
kiss one another and weep, and such is the tingling of the knuckles for
a blow when the body has been kicked in sore places, that the heart
will at last get the better of the head--or at least it used to be so
in England. Wherefore Charley Bowles was in arms already against his
country's enemies; and Harry Shanks waited for little except a clear
proclamation of prize-money; and even young Daniel was tearing at his
kedge like a lively craft riding in a brisk sea-way. He had seen Lord
Nelson, and had spoken to Lord Nelson, and that great man would have
patted him on the head--so patriotic were his sentiments--if the great
man had been a little taller.

But the one thing that kept Dan Tugwell firm to his moorings at
Springhaven was the deep hold of his steadfast heart in a love which it
knew to be hopeless. To die for his country might become a stern duty,
about which he would rather not be hurried; but to die for Miss Dolly
would be a wild delight; and how could he do it unless he were at hand?
And now there were so many young officers again, landing in boats,
coming in post-chaises, or charging down the road on horseback, that
Daniel, while touching up the finish of his boat with paint and varnish
and Venetian Red, was not so happy as an artist should be who knows how
to place the whole. Sometimes, with the paint stirred up and creaming,
and the ooze of the brush trimmed warily, through the rushes and ragwort
and sea-willow his keen, unconquerable eyes would spy the only figure
that quelled them, faraway, shown against the shining water, or shadowed
upon the flat mirror of the sand. But, alas! there was always another
figure near it, bigger, bulkier, framed with ugly angles, jerking about
with the elbow sticking out, instead of gliding gracefully. Likely
enough the lovely form, brought nearer to the eyes and heart by love,
would flit about beautifully for two sweet moments, filling with rapture
all the flashes of the sea and calm of the evening sky beyond; and then
the third moment would be hideous. For the figure of the ungainly foe
would stride across the delicious vision, huge against the waves like
Cyclops, and like him gesticulant, but unhappily not so single-eyed that
the slippery fair might despise him. Then away would fly all sense of
art and joy in the touch of perfection, and a very nasty feeling would
ensue, as if nothing were worth living for, and nobody could be believed
in.

That plaguesome Polypheme was Captain Stubbard, begirt with a wife,
and endowed with a family almost in excess of benediction, and dancing
attendance upon Miss Dolly, too stoutly for his own comfort, in the hope
of procuring for his own Penates something to eat and to sit upon. Some
evil genius had whispered, or rather trumpeted, into his ear--for he
had but one left, and that worked very seldom, through alarm about the
bullet which had carried off its fellow--that if he desired, as he did
with heart and stomach, to get a clear widening by 200 pounds of his
strait ways and restricted means, through Admiral Darling it might
be done, and Miss Dolly was the proper one to make him do it. For the
Inspectorship of Sea-Fencibles from Selsea-Bill to Dungeness was worth
all that money in hard cash yearly; and the late Inspector having
quitted this life--through pork boiled in a copper kettle--the situation
was naturally vacant; and the Admiral being the man for whose check the
Inspectorship was appointed, it is needless to say that (in the spirit
of fair play) the appointment was vested in the Admiral.

The opinion of all who knew him was that Captain Stubbard was fairly
entitled to look for something higher. And he shared that opinion,
taking loftier aim than figures could be made to square with, till the
latter prevailed, as they generally do, because they can work without
victuals. For although the brave Captain had lost three ribs--or at any
rate more than he could spare of them (not being a pig)--in the service
of his country, he required as much as ever to put inside them; and
his children, not having inherited that loss as scientifically as
they should have done, were hard to bring up upon the 15 pounds yearly
allowed by Great Britain for each of the gone bones. From the ear that
was gone he derived no income, having rashly compounded for 25 pounds.

In the nature of things, which the names have followed, the father is
the feeder; and the world is full of remarks unless he becomes a good
clothier also. But everything went against this father, with nine little
Stubbards running after him, and no ninepence in any of his pockets,
because he was shelfed upon half-pay, on account of the depression of
the times and of his ribs. But Miss Dolly Darling was resolved to see
him righted, for she hated all national meanness.

"What is the use of having any influence," she asked her good father,
"unless you employ it for your own friends? I should be quite ashamed
to have it said of me, or thought, that I could get a good thing for any
one I was fond of, and was mean enough not to do it, for fear of paltry
jealousy. Mean is much too weak a word; it is downright dishonest, and
what is much worse, cowardly. What is the government meant for, unless
it is to do good to people?"

"Certainly, my dear child, certainly. To the people at large, that is to
say, and the higher interests of the country."

"Can there be any people more at large than Captain Stubbard and his
wife and children? Their elbows are coming out of their clothes, and
they have scarcely got a bed to sleep upon. My income is not enough to
stop to count, even when I get it paid punctually. But every farthing I
receive shall go--that is to say, if it ever does come--into the lap of
Mrs. Stubbard, anonymously and respectfully."

"Pay your bills, first," said the Admiral, taking the weather-gage of
the discussion: "a little bird tells me that you owe a good trifle, even
in Springhaven."

"Then the little bird has got a false bill," replied Dolly, who was not
very easy to fluster. "Who is there to spend sixpence with in a little
hole of this kind? I am not a customer for tea, coffee, tobacco, snuff,
or pepper, nor even for whiting, soles, or conger. Old Cheeseman imports
all the fashions, as he says; but I go by my own judgment. And trumpery
as my income is, very little of it goes into his till. But I should like
to know who told you such a wicked story, father?"

"Things are mentioned in confidence, and I put them together," said the
Admiral. "Don't say another word, or look as if you would be happier if
you had something to cry about. Your dear mother used to do it; and it
beats me always. I have long had my eye upon Captain Stubbard, and I
remember well that gallant action when his three ribs flew away. We
called him Adam, because of his wife coming just when his middle rib
went, and his name was Adam Stubbard, sure enough. Such men, in the
prime of their life, should be promoted, instead of being disabled, for
a scratch like that. Why, he walks every bit as well as I do, and
his watch-ribbon covers it. And nine children! Lord bless my heart! I
scarcely know which way to turn, with only four!"

Within a short fortnight Captain Stubbard was appointed, with an
office established at the house of Widow Shanks--though his real office
naturally was at the public-house--and Royal Proclamations aroused the
valour of nearly everybody who could read them. Nine little Stubbards
soon were rigged too smart to know themselves, as the style is of all
dandies; and even Mrs. Stubbard had a new belt made to go round her,
when the weather was elastic.

"These are the things that prove the eye of an All-wise Providence over
us," said the Captain to the Admiral, pointing out six pairs of short
legs, galligaskined from one roll of cloth; "these are the things that
make one feel the force of the words of David."

"Certainly, yes, to be sure!" replied the gallant senior officer, all
at sea as to the passage suggested. "Good legs they have got, and no
mistake; like the polished corners of the temple. Let them go and dip
them in the sea, while you give the benefit of your opinion here. Not
here, I mean, but upon Fox-hill yonder; if Mrs. Stubbard will spare you
for a couple of hours, most kindly."

Of the heights that look down with a breezy air upon the snug nest of
Springhaven, the fairest to see from a distance, and to tread with brisk
foot, is Fox-hill. For the downs, which are channelled with the springs
that form the brook, keep this for their own last spring into the air,
before bathing in the vigorous composure of the sea. All the other hills
fall back a little, to let Fox-hill have the first choice of aspect--or
bear the first brunt, as itself would state the matter. And to anybody
coming up, and ten times to a stranger, this resolute foreland offers
more invitation to go home again, than to come visiting. For the bulge
of the breast is steep, and ribbed with hoops coming up in denial,
concrete with chalk, muricated with flint, and thornily crested with
good stout furze. And the forefront of the head, when gained, is stiff
with brambles, and stubbed with sloes, and mitred with a choice band of
stanch sting-nettles.

"It would take a better Frenchman," said the Admiral, with that brevity
which is the happy result of stoutness up steep hill, "than any of 'they
flat-bottoms,' as Swipes, my gardener, calls them, to get through
these prickles, Stubbard, without Sark-blewing. Such a wonderfully
thin-skinned lot they are! Did I ever tell you the story of our
boatswain's mate? But that takes a better sailing breeze than I've got
now. You see where we are, don't you?"

"Certainly, Admiral," replied Captain Stubbard, disdaining to lay hand
to his injured side, painfully as it yearned for pressure; "we have had
a long pull, and we get a fine outlook over the country for leagues, and
the Channel. How close at hand everything looks! I suppose we shall have
rain, and we want it. I could thump that old castle among the trees into
smash, and your church looks as if I could put a shot with a rifle-gun
into the bell-chamber."

"And so you could. What I want to show you is that very point, and
the importance of it. With a battery of long twenty-fours up here, the
landing, the bay, and all the roads are at our mercy. My dear old friend
Nelson drew my attention to it."

"It is plain as a pikestaff to Tom, Dick, or Harry:" Captain Stubbard
was a frank, straightforward man, and much as he owed to the Admiral's
aid, not a farthing would he pay in flattery. "But why should we want to
command this spot? There is nothing to protect but a few common houses,
and some half-score of fishing-craft, and a schooner that trades to
London, and yonder old church, and--oh yes, to be sure, your own house
and property, Admiral."

"Those must take their chance, like others. I hope I know better than to
think of them in comparison with the good of the country. But if we fail
to occupy this important post, the enemy might take us by surprise, and
do so."

"Possible, but most improbable. This little place lies, by the trend of
the coast, quite out of their course from Boulogne to London; and what
is there here to tempt them? No rich town to sack, no great commerce to
rob, no valuable shipping to lay hands on."

"No; but there's my house and my two girls; and I don't want my old
roof burned, and my daughters put to wait on Boney. But to think of
self-interest is below contempt, with our country going through such
trials. Neither should we add any needless expense to a treasury already
overburdened."

"Certainly not. It would be absolutely wicked. We have a long and costly
war before us, and not a shilling should be spent except in case of
clear necessity."

"I am very glad indeed to find your opinion so decided, so untainted
with petty self-interest." As Admiral Darling spoke he closed a little
silver telescope, with which he had been gazing through the wooded
coronet of the hill. "I thought it my duty to consult you, Stubbard,
before despatching this letter, which, being backed by Nelson's opinion,
would probably have received attention. If a strong battery were thrown
up here, as it would be in a fortnight from the receipt of this bit of
foolscap, the appointment of commandant would rest with me, and I could
appoint nobody but your good self, because of your well-known experience
in earthworks. The appointment would have doubled your present pay,
which, though better than nothing, is far below your merits. But your
opinion settles the question otherwise, and I must burn my letter. Let
us lose no more time. Mrs. Stubbard will call me a savage, for keeping
you away so long."

"Important business," replied the Captain, "will not wait even for
ladies, or, rather, they must try to wait for it, and give way to more
reasonable urgency. Some time is required for considering this matter,
and deciding what is most for the interest of the nation. Oblige me with
your spy-glass, Admiral. There is one side on which I have neglected
to look out, and that may of all be the most important. A conclusion
arrived at by yourself and Nelson is not to be hastily set aside. Your
knowledge of the country is so far beyond mine, though I may have
had more to do with land-works. We ought to think twice, sir, if the
government will pay for it, about a valuable job of this kind."

With these words Captain Stubbard began to use the telescope carefully,
forming his opinion through it, and wisely shaking his head, now and
then, with a longer and longer focus. Then he closed the glass, and his
own lips firmly--whereby a man announces that no other should open his
against them--and sternly striding the yard exact, took measurement for
the battery. The hill was crowned with a ring of Scotch firs, casting
a quiet shade upon the warlike haste of the Captain. If Admiral Darling
smiled, it was to the landscape and the offing, for he knew that
Stubbard was of rather touchy fibre, and relished no jokes unless of
home production. His slow, solid face was enough to show this, and the
squareness of his outline, and the forward thrust of his knees as he
walked, and the larkspur impress of his lingering heels. And he seldom
said much, without something to say.

"Well," cried the Admiral, growing tired of sitting so long upon a
fallen trunk, "what conclusion do you feel inclined to come to? 'Tis
a fine breezy place to clear the brain, and a briny air to sharpen the
judgment."

"Only one tree need come down--this crooked one at the southeast
corner." Captain Stubbard began to swing his arms about, like a windmill
uncertain of the wind. "All gentlemen hate to have a tree cut down,
all blackguards delight in the process. Admiral, we will not hurt
your trees. They will add to our strength, by masking it. Six long
twenty-fours of the new make, here in front, and two eighteens upon
either flank, and I should like to see the whole of the Boulogne
flotilla try to take yonder shore by daylight. That is to say, of
course, if I commanded, with good old salts to second me. With
your common artillery officers, landlubbers, smell-the-wicks,
cross-the-braces sons of guns, there had better not be anything at all
put up. They can't make a fortification; and when they have made it,
they can't work it. Admiral Darling, you know that, though you have not
had the bad luck to deal with them as I have. I may thank one of them
for being up here on the shelf."

"Of one thing you may be quite certain," replied the commander of the
sea defence; "if we have any battery on this Fox-hill, it shall be
constructed and manned by blue-jackets. I have a large draft of them now
at discretion. Every man in Springhaven will lend a hand, if paid for
it. It would take at least a twelvemonth to get it done from Woolwich. A
seaman does a thing before a landsman thinks about it."



CHAPTER XVII

SEA-SIDE LODGINGS


To set a dog barking is easier than to stop him by the soundest
reasoning. Even if the roof above his honest head, growing loose on its
nails, is being mended, he comes out to ask about the matter, and in
strong terms proclaims his opinion to the distance.

After this kind behaved the people about to be protected by this
battery. They had dreamed of no danger till they saw their houses
beginning to be protected, and for this--though it added to their
importance--they were not truly thankful. They took it in various ways,
according to their rich variety of reflection; but the way in which
nobody took it was that of gratitude and humility.

"Everything upside down," they said, "everything gone clean topsy-turvy!
And the deep meaning of it is to rob our fishing, under pretence of the
Nationals. It may bring a good bit of money to the place, for the lining
of one or two pockets, such as John Prater's and Cheeseman's; but I
never did hold so much with money, when shattery ways comes along of it.
No daughter of mine stirs out-of-doors after sundown, I can tell them."

Thus were the minds of the men disturbed, or at any rate those of the
elder ones; while the women, on the whole, were pleased, although they
pretended to be contemptuous. "I'll tell you what I think, ma'am," Mrs.
Cheeseman said to Widow Shanks quite early, "if you take a farthing less
than half a guinea a week for your dimity-parlour, with the window up
the hill, and the little door under the big sweet-briar, I shall think
that you are not as you used to be."

"And right you would be, ma'am, and too right there;" Mrs. Shanks sighed
deeply as she thought of it. "There is nobody but you can understand
it, and I don't mind saying it on that account to you. Whenever I have
wanted for a little bit of money, as the nature of lone widows generally
does, it has always been out of your power, Mrs. Cheeseman, to oblige
me, and quite right of you. But I have a good son, thank the Lord,
by the name of Harry, to provide for me; and a guinea a week is the
agreement now for the dimity-parlour, and the three leg'd bed, and cold
dinner to be paid for extra, such as I might send for to your good shop,
with the money ready in the hand of my little girl, and jug below her
apron for refreshment from the Darling."

"Well, I never! My dear soul, you have taken all my breath away. Why,
it must be the captain of all the gunners. How gunpowder do pay, to be
sure!"

"Lor, ma'am, why, don't you know," replied Mrs. Shanks, with some
contempt, "that the man with three ribs is the captain of the
gunners--the man in my back sitting-room? No dimity-parlour for him with
his family, not for a guinea and a half a week. But if I was to tell
you who the gentleman is, and one of the highest all round these parts,
truthful as you know me, Mrs. Cheeseman, you would say to yourself, what
a liar she is!"

"Mrs. Shanks, I never use coarse expressions, even to myself in private.
And perhaps I could tell you a thing or two would astonish you more than
me, ma'am. Suppose I should tell you, to begin with, who your guinea
lodger is?"

"That you could never do, Mrs. Cheeseman, with all your time a-counting
changes. He is not of the rank for a twopenny rasher, or a wedge of
cheese packed in old petticoat."

These two ladies now looked at one another. They had not had a quarrel
for almost three months, and a large arrear of little pricks on either
side was pending. Sooner or later it would have to be fought out (like
a feud between two nations), with a houseful of loss and woe to either
side, but a thimbleful of pride and glory. Yet so much wiser were these
women than the most sagacious nations that they put off to a cheaper
time their grudge against each other.

"His rank may be royal," said the wife of Mr. Cheeseman, "though a
going-downhill kind of royalty, perhaps, and yet he might be glad, Mrs.
Shanks, to come where the butter has the milk spots, and none is in the
cheese, ma'am."

"If such should be his wish, ma'am, for supper or for breakfast, or even
for dinner on a Sunday when the rain comes through the Castle, you may
trust me to know where to send him, but not to guarantee him at all of
his money."

"They high ones is very apt to slip in that," Mrs. Cheeseman answered,
thoughtfully; "they seem to be less particular in paying for a thing
than they was to have it good. But a burnt child dreads the fire, as
they say; and a young man with a castleful of owls and rats, by reason
of going for these hundred years on credit, will have it brought home
to him to pay ready money. But the Lord be over us! if I don't see him
a-going your way already! Good-by, my dear soul--good-by, and preserve
you; and if at any time short of table or bed linen, a loan from an old
friend, and coming back well washed, and it sha'n't be, as the children
sing, 'A friend with a loan has the pick of your bone, and he won't let
you very long alone.'"

"Many thanks to you for friendly meaning, ma'am," said the widow, as she
took up her basket to go home, "and glad I may be to profit by it, with
the time commanding. But as yet I have had neither sleepers or feeders
in my little house, but the children. Though both of them reserves
the right to do it, if nature should so compel them--the three-ribbed
gentleman with one ear, at five shillings a week, in the sitting-room,
and the young man up over him. Their meaning is for business, and
studying, and keeping of accounts, and having of a quiet place in bad
weather, though feed they must, sooner or later, I depend; and then who
is there but Mr. Cheeseman?"

"How grand he do look upon that black horse, quite as solid as if he was
glued to it!" the lady of the shop replied, as she put away the money;
"and to do that without victuals is beyond a young man's power. He
looks like what they used to call a knight upon an errand, in the
picture-books, when I was romantic, only for the hair that comes under
his nose. Ah! his errand will be to break the hearts of the young ladies
that goes down upon the sands in their blue gowns, I'm afraid, if they
can only manage with the hair below his nose."

"And do them good, some of them, and be a judgment from the Lord, for
the French style in their skirts is a shocking thing to see. What should
we have said when you and I were young, my dear? But quick step is the
word for me, for I expect my Jenny home on her day out from the Admiral,
and no Harry in the house to look after her. Ah! dimity-parlours is a
thing as may happen to cut both ways, Mrs. Cheeseman."

Widow Shanks had good cause to be proud of her cottage, which was the
prettiest in Springhaven, and one of the most commodious. She had fought
a hard fight, when her widowhood began, and the children were too young
to help her, rather than give up the home of her love-time, and the
cradle of her little ones. Some of her neighbours (who wanted the house)
were sadly pained at her stubbornness, and even dishonesty, as they put
it, when she knew that she never could pay her rent. But "never is a
long time," according to the proverb; and with the forbearance of
the Admiral, the kindness of his daughters, and the growth of her own
children, she stood clear of all debt now, except the sweet one of
gratitude.

And now she could listen to the moaning of the sea (which used to make
her weep all night) with a milder sense of the cruel woe that it had
drowned her husband, and a lull of sorrow that was almost hope; until
the dark visions of wrecks and corpses melted into sweet dreams of her
son upon the waters, finishing his supper, and getting ready for his
pipe. For Harry was making his own track well in the wake of his dear
father.

Now if she had gone inland to dwell, from the stroke of her great
calamity--as most people told her to make haste and do--not only the
sympathy of the sea, but many of the little cares, which are the ants
that bury heavy grief, would have been wholly lost to her. And amongst
these cares the foremost always, and the most distracting, was that
of keeping her husband's cottage--as she still would call it--tidy,
comfortable, bright, and snug, as if he were coming on Saturday.

Where the brook runs into the first hearing of the sea, to defer its own
extinction it takes a lively turn inland, leaving a pleasant breadth of
green between itself and its destiny. At the breath of salt the larger
trees hang back, and turn their boughs up; but plenty of pretty shrubs
come forth, and shade the cottage garden. Neither have the cottage walls
any lack of leafy mantle, where the summer sun works his own defeat by
fostering cool obstruction. For here are the tamarisk, and jasmin, and
the old-fashioned corchorus flowering all the summer through, as well
as the myrtle that loves the shore, with a thicket of stiff young sprigs
arising, slow of growth, but hiding yearly the havoc made in its head
and body by the frost of 1795, when the mark of every wave upon the
sands was ice. And a vine, that seems to have been evolved from a
miller, or to have prejected him, clambers with grey silver pointrels
through the more glossy and darker green. And over these you behold the
thatch, thick and long and parti-coloured, eaved with little windows,
where a bird may nest for ever.

But it was not for this outward beauty that Widow Shanks, stuck to her
house, and paid the rent at intervals. To her steadfast and well-managed
mind, the number of rooms, and the separate staircase which a solvent
lodger might enjoy, were the choicest grant of the household gods. The
times were bad--as they always are when conscientious people think
of them--and poor Mrs. Shanks was desirous of paying her rent, by the
payment of somebody. Every now and then some well-fed family, hungering
(after long carnage) for fish, would come from village pastures or town
shambles, to gaze at the sea, and to taste its contents. For in those
days fish were still in their duty, to fry well, to boil well, and to
go into the mouth well, instead of being dissolute--as nowadays the
best is--with dirty ice, and flabby with arrested fermentation. In the
pleasant dimity-parlour then, commanding a fair view of the lively sea
and the stream that sparkled into it, were noble dinners of sole, and
mackerel, and smelt that smelled of cucumber, and dainty dory, and
pearl-buttoned turbot, and sometimes even the crisp sand-lance, happily
for himself, unhappily for whitebait, still unknown in London. Then,
after long rovings ashore or afloat, these diners came back with a new
light shed upon them--that of the moon outside the house, of the supper
candles inside. There was sure to be a crab or lobster ready, and a dish
of prawns sprigged with parsley; if the sea were beginning to get cool
again, a keg of philanthropic oysters; or if these were not hospitably
on their hinges yet, certainly there would be choice-bodied creatures,
dried with a dash of salt upon the sunny shingle, and lacking of
perfection nothing more than to be warmed through upon a toasting-fork.

By none, however, of these delights was the newly won lodger tempted.
All that he wanted was peace and quiet, time to go through a great trunk
full of papers and parchments, which he brought with him, and a breath
of fresh air from the downs on the north, and the sea to the south,
to enliven him. And in good truth he wanted to be enlivened, as Widow
Shanks said to her daughter Jenny; for his eyes were gloomy, and his
face was stern, and he seldom said anything good-natured. He seemed to
avoid all company, and to be wrapped up wholly in his own concerns, and
to take little pleasure in anything. As yet he had not used the bed at
his lodgings, nor broken his fast there to her knowledge, though he rode
down early every morning and put up his horse at Cheeseman's, and never
rode away again until the dark had fallen. Neither had he cared to make
the acquaintance of Captain Stubbarb, who occupied the room beneath
his for a Royal Office--as the landlady proudly entitled it; nor had
he received, to the best of her knowledge, so much as a single visitor,
though such might come by his private entrance among the shrubs
unnoticed. All these things stirred with deep interest and wonder the
enquiring mind of the widow.

"And what do they say of him up at the Hall?" she asked her daughter
Jenny, who was come to spend holiday at home. "What do they say of my
new gentleman, young Squire Carne from the Castle? The Carnes and the
Darlings was never great friends, as every one knows in Springhaven.
Still, it do seem hard and unchristianlike to keep up them old enmities;
most of all, when the one side is down in the world, with the owls and
the bats and the coneys."

"No, mother, no. They are not a bit like that," replied Jenny--a maid
of good loyalty; "it is only that he has not called upon them. All
gentlefolks have their proper rules of behaviour. You can't be expected
to understand them, mother."

"But why should he go to them more than they should come to him,
particular with young ladies there? And him with only one horse to
their seven or eight. I am right, you may depend upon it, Jenny; and
my mother, your grandmother, was a lady's-maid in a higher family than
Darling--it depends upon them to come and look him up first, and he have
no call to knock at their door without it. Why, it stands to reason,
poor young man! And not a bit hath he eaten from Monday."

"Well, I believe I am right, but I'll ask Miss Dolly. She is that sharp,
she knows everything, and I don't mind what I say to her, when she
thinks that she looks handsome. And it takes a very bad dress, I can
tell you, to put her out of that opinion."

"She is right enough there:" Mrs. Shanks shook her head at her daughter
for speaking in this way. "The ugliest frock as ever came from France
couldn't make her any but a booty. And the Lord knows the quality have
come to queer shapes now. Undecent would be the name for it in our ranks
of women. Why, the last of her frocks she gave you, Jenny, how much did
I put on, at top and bottom, and you three inches shorter than she is!
And the slips they ties round them--oh dear! oh dear! as if that was to
hold them up and buckle them together! Won't they have the groanings by
the time they come to my age?"



CHAPTER XVIII

FRENCH AND ENGLISH


Admiral Darling was now so busy, and so continually called from home by
the duties of his commandership, that he could not fairly be expected
to call upon Mr. Caryl Carne. Yet that gentleman, being rather
sensitive--which sometimes means very spiteful--resented as a personal
slight this failure; although, if the overture had been made, he would
have ascribed it to intrusive curiosity, and a low desire to behold him
in his ruins. But truly in the old man's kindly heart there was no sour
corner for ill blood to lurk in, and no dull fibre for ill-will to feed
on. He kept on meaning to go and call on Caryl Carne, and he had quite
made up his mind to do it, but something always happened to prevent him.

Neither did he care a groat for his old friend Twemlow's advice upon
that subject. "Don't go near him," said the Rector, taking care that
his wife was quite safe out of hearing; "it would ill become me to say
a word against my dear wife's own nephew, and the representative of her
family. And, to the utmost of my knowledge, there is nothing to be said
against him. But I can't get on with him at all. I don't know why. He
has only honored us with a visit twice, and he would not even come to
dinner. Nice manners they learn on the Continent! But none of us wept
when he declined; not even his good aunt, my wife. Though he must have
got a good deal to tell us, and an extraordinary knowledge of foreign
ways. But instead of doing that, he seems to sneer at us. I can look
at a question from every point of view, and I defy anybody to call me
narrow-minded. But still, one must draw the line somewhere, or throw
overboard all principles; and I draw it, my dear Admiral, against
infidels and against Frenchmen."

"No rational person can do otherwise"--the Admiral's opinion was
decisive--"but this young man is of good English birth, and one can't
help feeling sorry for his circumstances. And I assure you, Twemlow,
that I feel respect as well for the courage that he shows, and the
perseverance, in coming home and facing those vile usurers. And your own
wife's nephew! Why, you ought to take his part through thick and thin,
whatever you may think of him. From all I hear he must be a young man of
exceedingly high principle; and I shall make a point of calling upon him
the first half-hour I get to spare. To-morrow, if possible; or if not,
the day after, at the very latest."

But the needful half-hour had not yet been found; and Carne, who was
wont to think the worst of everybody, concluded that the Darling race
still cherished the old grudge, which had always been on his own side.
For this he cared little, and perhaps was rather glad of it. For the
old dwelling-place of his family (the Carne Castle besieged by the
Roundheads a hundred and sixty years agone) now threatened to tumble
about the ears of any one knocking at the gate too hard. Or rather the
remnants of its walls did so; the greater part, having already fallen,
lay harmless, and produced fine blackberries.

As a castle, it had been well respected in its day, though not of mighty
bulwarks or impregnable position. Standing on a knoll, between the
ramp of high land and the slope of shore, it would still have been
conspicuous to traveller and to voyager but for the tall trees around
it. These hid the moat, and the relics of the drawbridge, the groined
archway, and cloven tower of the keep--which had twice been struck by
lightning--as well as the windows of the armoury, and the chapel hushed
with ivy. The banqueting hall was in better repair, for the Carnes had
been hospitable to the last; but the windows kept no wind off, neither
did the roof repulse the rain. In short, all the front was in a pretty
state of ruin, very nice to look at, very nasty to live in, except for
toads, and bats, and owls, and rats, and efts, and brindled slugs with
yellow stripes; or on a summer eve the cockroach and the carrion-beetle.

At the back, however, and above the road which Cheeseman travelled in
his pony-chaise, was a range of rooms still fit to dwell in, though
poorly furnished, and floored with stone. In better times these had been
the domain of the house-keeper and the butler, the cook and the other
upper servants, who had minded their duty and heeded their comfort more
truly than the master and mistress did. For the downfall of this family,
as of very many others, had been chiefly caused by unwise marriage.
Instead of choosing sensible and active wives to look after their home
affairs and regulate the household, the Carnes for several generations
now had wedded flighty ladies of good birth and pretty manners, none
of whom brought them a pipkinful of money, while all helped to spend a
potful. Therefore their descendant was now living in the kitchens, and
had no idea how to make use of them, in spite of his French education;
of comfort also he had not much idea, which was all the better for him;
and he scarcely knew what it was to earn and enjoy soft quietude.

One night, when the summer was in full prime, and the weather almost
blameless, this young Squire Carne rode slowly back from Springhaven to
his worn-out castle. The beauty of the night had kept him back, for
he hated to meet people on the road. The lingering gossips, the tired
fagot-bearers, the youths going home from the hay-rick, the man with
a gun who knows where the hares play, and beyond them all the
truant sweethearts, who cannot have enough of one another, and wish
"good-night" at every corner of the lane, till they tumble over one
another's cottage steps--all these to Caryl Carne were a smell to be
avoided, an eyesore to shut the eyes at. He let them get home and pull
their boots off, and set the frying-pan a-bubbling--for they ended the
day with a bit of bacon, whenever they could cash or credit it--and then
he set forth upon his lonely ride, striking fear into the heart of any
bad child that lay awake.

"Almost as good as France is this," he muttered in French, though for
once enjoying the pleasure of good English air; "and better than France
would it be, if only it were not cut short so suddenly. There will come
a cold wind by-and-by, or a chilly black cloud from the east, and then
all is shivers and rawness. But if it only remained like this, I could
forgive it for producing me. After all, it is my native land; and I saw
the loveliest girl to-day that ever I set eyes on. None of their made-up
and highly finished demoiselles is fit to look at her--such simple
beauty, such charms of nature, such enchanting innocence! Ah, that is
where those French girls fail--they are always studying how they look,
instead of leaving us to think of it. Bah! What odds to me? I have
higher stakes to play for. But according to old Twemlow's description,
she must be the daughter of that old bear Darling, with whom I shall
have to pick a bone some day. Ha! How amusing is that battery to me! How
little John Bull knows the nature of French troops! To-morrow we are
to have a grand practice-day; and I hope they won't shoot me in my new
lodgings. Nothing is impossible to such an idiot as Stubbard. What a set
of imbeciles I have found to do with! They have scarcely wit enough to
amuse oneself with. Pest of my soul! Is that you, Charron? Again you
have broken my orders."

"Names should be avoided in the open air," answered the man, who was
swinging on a gate with the simple delight of a Picard. "The climate is
of France so much to-night that I found it my duty to encourage it.
For what reason shall not I do that? It is not so often that I have
occasion. My dear friend, scold not, but accept the compliment very
seldom truthful to your native land. There are none of your clod-pates
about to-night."

"Come in at once. The mere sound of your breath is enough to set the
neighbourhood wondering. Could I ever have been burdened with a more
French Frenchman, though you speak as good English as I do?"

"It was all of that miserable Cheray," the French gentleman said, when
they sat in the kitchen, and Jerry Bowles was feeding the fine black
horse. "Fruit is a thing that my mouth prepares for, directly there is
any warmth in the sun. It puts itself up, it is elevated, it will not
have meat, or any substance coarse. Wine of the softest and fruit of
the finest is what it must then have, or unmouth itself. That miserable
Cheray, his maledictioned name put me forth to be on fire for the good
thing he designs. Cherays you call them, and for cherays I despatched
him, suspended between the leaves in the good sun. Bah! there is nothing
ever fit to eat in England. The cherays look very fine, very fine
indeed; and so many did I consume that to travel on a gate was the
only palliation. Would you have me stay all day in this long cellar?
No diversion, no solace, no change, no conversation! Old Cheray may
sit with his hands upon his knees, but to Renaud Charron that is not
sufficient. How much longer before I sally forth to do the things,
to fight, to conquer the nations? Where is even my little ship of
despatch?"

"Captain," answered Caryl Carne, preparing calmly for his frugal supper,
"you are placed under my command, and another such speech will despatch
you to Dunkirk, bound hand and foot, in the hold of the Little Corporal,
with which I am now in communication. Unless by the time I have severed
this bone you hand me your sword in submission, my supper will have to
be postponed, while I march you to the yew-tree, signal for a boat, and
lay you strapped beneath the oarsmen."

Captain Charron, who had held the command of a French corvette, stared
furiously at this man, younger than himself, so strongly established
over him. Carne was not concerned to look at him; all he cared about was
to divide the joint of a wing-rib of cold roast beef, where some good
pickings lurked in the hollow. Then the French man, whose chance would
have been very small in a personal encounter with his chief, arose and
took a naval sword, short but rather heavy, from a hook which in better
days had held a big dish-cover, and making a salute rather graceful than
gracious, presented the fringed handle to the carver.

"This behaviour is sensible, my friend, and worthy of your distinguished
abilities." Carne's resolute face seldom yielded to a smile, but the
smile when it came was a sweet one. "Pardon me for speaking strongly,
but my instructions must be the law to you. If you were my commander
(as, but for local knowledge, and questions of position here, you would
be), do you think then that you would allow me to rebel, to grumble,
to wander, to demand my own pleasure, when you knew that it would ruin
things?"

"Bravo! It is well spoken. My captain, I embrace you. In you lives the
spirit of the Grand Army, which we of the sea and of the ships admire
always, and always desire to emulate. Ah, if England possessed many
Englishmen like you, she would be hard to conquer."

The owner of this old English castle shot a glance at the Frenchman
for any sign of irony in his words. Seeing none, he continued, in the
friendly vein:

"Our business here demands the greatest caution, skill, reserve, and
self-denial. We are fortunate in having no man of any keen penetration
in the neighbourhood, at least of those in authority and concerned with
public matters. As one of an ancient family, possessing the land for
centuries, I have every right to be here, and to pursue my private
business in privacy. But if it once gets talked about that a French
officer is with me, these stupid people will awake their suspicions more
strongly by their own stupidity. In this queer island you may do what
you like till the neighbourhood turns against you; and then, if you
revolve upon a pin, you cannot suit them. You understand? You have heard
me before. It is this that I never can knock into you."

Renaud Charron, who considered himself--as all Frenchmen did then, and
perhaps do now--far swifter of intellect than any Englishman, found
himself not well pleased at this, and desired to know more about it.

"Nothing can be simpler," the Englishman replied; "and therefore nothing
surer. You know the old proverb--'Everything in turn, except scandal,
whose turn is always.' And again another saying of our own land--'The
second side of the bread takes less time to toast.' We must not let the
first side of ours be toasted; we will shun all the fire of suspicion.
And to do this, you must not be seen, my dear friend. I may go abroad
freely; you must hide your gallant head until matters are ripe for
action. You know that you may trust me not to keep you in the dark a day
longer than is needful. I have got the old shopkeeper under my thumb,
and can do what I please with his trading-ship. But before I place you
in command I must change some more of the crew, and do it warily. There
is an obstinate Cornishman to get rid of, who sticks to the planks like
a limpet. If we throw him overboard, we shall alarm the others; if we
discharge him without showing cause, he will go to the old Admiral and
tell all his suspicions. He must be got rid of in London with skill,
and then we ship three or four Americans, first-rate seamen, afraid of
nothing, who will pass here as fellows from Lancashire. After that we
may run among the cruisers as we like, with the boldness and skill of a
certain Captain Charron, who must be ill in his cabin when his ship is
boarded."

"It is famous, it is very good, my friend. The patience I will have, and
the obedience, and the courage; and so much the more readily because my
pay is good, and keeps itself going on dry land as well as sea."



CHAPTER XIX

IN THE LINE OF FIRE


No wonder there had been a great deal of talking in the village all that
evening, for the following notice had appeared in a dozen conspicuous
places, beginning with the gate of the church-yard, and ending with two
of the biggest mooring-posts, and not even sparing the Admiral's white
gate, where it flapped between the two upper rails. It was not printed,
but written in round hand, with a liberal supply of capitals, on a stiff
sheet of official paper, stamped with the Royal Arms at the top.
And those who were in the secret knew that Master Bob Stubbard, the
Captain's eldest son, had accomplished this great literary feat at a
guerdon of one shilling from the public service funds every time he
sucked his pen at the end of it.


"By order of His Majesty King George III. To-morrow being Wednesday, and
the fishing-boats at sea, Artillery practice from Fox-hill fort will be
carried on from twelve at noon until three P.M. at a mark-boat moored
half a mile from the shore. Therefore His Majesty's loyal subjects
are warned to avoid the beach westward of the brook between the white
flagstaffs, as well as the sea in front of it, and not to cross the line
of fire below the village but at their own risk and peril.

"(Signed) ADAM JACKSON STUBBARD, R.N., commanding Fox-hill Battery."


Some indignation was aroused by this; for Mrs. Caper junior (who was
Mrs. Prater's cousin) had been confined, out of proper calculation, and
for the very first time, the moment the boats were gone on Monday; and
her house, being nearest to the fort, and in a hollow where the noise
would be certain to keep going round and round, the effect upon her
head, not to mention the dear baby's, was more than any one dared to
think of, with the poor father so far away. And if Squire Darling had
only been at home, not a woman who could walk would have thought twice
about it, but gone all together to insist upon it that he should stop
this wicked bombardment. And this was most unselfish of all of them,
they were sure, because they had so long looked forward to putting
cotton-wool in their ears, and seeing how all the enemies of England
would be demolished. But Mrs. Caper junior, and Caper, natu minimus,
fell fast asleep together, as things turned out, and heard not a single
bang of it.

And so it turned out, in another line of life, with things against
all calculation, resenting to be reckoned as they always do, like the
countless children of Israel. For Admiral Darling was gone far away
inspecting, leaving his daughters to inspect themselves.

"You may just say exactly what you consider right, dear," said Miss
Dolly Darling to her sister Faith; "and I dare say it makes you more
comfortable. But you know as well as I do, that there is no reason in
it. Father is a darling; but he must be wrong sometimes. And how can
he tell whether he is wrong or right, when he goes away fifty miles
to attend to other people? Of course I would never disobey his orders,
anymore than you would. But facts change according to circumstances, and
I feel convinced that if he were here he would say, 'Go down and see it,
Dolly.'"

"We have no right to speculate as to what he might say," replied Faith,
who was very clear-headed. "His orders were definite: 'Keep within the
grounds, when notice is given of artillery practice.' And those orders I
mean to obey."

"And so do I; but not to misunderstand them. The beach is a part of our
grounds, as I have heard him say fifty times in argument, when people
tried to come encroaching. And I mean to go on that part of his grounds,
because I can't see well from the other part. That is clearly what he
meant; and he would laugh at us, if we could tell him nothing when he
comes home. Why, he promised to take us as far as Portsmouth to see some
artillery practice."

"That is a different thing altogether, because we should be under his
control. If you disobey him, it is at your own risk, and I shall not let
one of the servants go with you, for I am mistress of the household, if
not of you."

"What trumpery airs you do give yourself! One would think you were fifty
years old at least. Stay at home, if you are such a coward! I am sure
dear daddy would be quite ashamed of you. They are popping already, and
I mean to watch them."

"You won't go so very far, I am quite sure of that," answered Faith, who
understood her sister. "You know your own value, darling Dolly, and you
would not go at all, if you had not been forbidden."

"When people talk like that, it goads me up to almost anything. I intend
to go, and stand, as near as can be, in the middle of the space that is
marked off 'dangerous.'"

"Do, that's a dear. I will lend you my shell-silk that measures twenty
yards, that you may be sure of being hit, dear."

"Inhuman, selfish, wicked creature!" cried Dolly, and it was almost
crying; "you shall see what comes of your cold-bloodedness! I shall pace
to and fro in the direct line of fire, and hang on my back the king's
proclamation, inside out, and written on it in large letters--'By order
of my sister I do this.' Then what will be said of you, if they only
kill me? My feelings might be very sad, but I should not envy yours,
Faith."

"Kiss me, at any rate, before you perish, in token of forgiveness;" and
Dolly (who dearly loved her sister at the keenest height of rebellion)
ran up and kissed Faith, with a smile for her, and a tear for her own
self-sacrifice. "I shall put on my shell-pink," she said, "and they
won't have the heart to fire shells at it."

The dress of the ladies of the present passing period had been largely
affected by the recent peace, which allowed the "French babies"--as
the milliners' dolls were called--to come in as quickly as they were
conceived. In war time scores of these "doxy-dummies"--as the rough tars
called them--were tossed overboard from captured vessels or set up as
a mark for tobacco-juice, while sweet eyes in London wept for want of
them. And even Mr. Cheeseman had failed to bring any type genuinely
French from the wholesale house in St. Mary's Axe, which was famed for
canonical issue. But blessed are the patient, if their patience lasts
long enough. The ladies of England were now in full enjoyment of all the
new French discoveries, which proved to be the right name, inasmuch as
they banished all reputable forms of covering. At least, so Mrs. Twemlow
said; and the Rector went further than she did, obtaining for his
sympathy a recommendation to attend to his own business. But when he
showed the Admiral his wife's last book of patterns--from a drawer which
he had no right to go to--great laughter was held between the twain,
with some glancing over shoulders, and much dread of bad example.
"Whatever you do, don't let my girls see it; I'll be bound you won't
let your Eliza," said the Admiral, after a pinch of snuff to restore the
true balance of his principles; "Faith would pitch it straight into the
fire; but I am not quite so sure that my Dolly would. She loves a bit of
finery, and she looks well in it."

"Tonnish females," as the magazine of fashion called the higher class
of popinjays, would have stared with contempt at both Faith and Dolly
Darling in their simple walking-dress that day. Dowdies would have been
the name for them, or frumps, or frights, or country gawks, because
their attire was not statuesque or classic, as it should have been,
which means that they were not half naked.

Faith, the eldest sister, had meant to let young Dolly take the course
of her own stubbornness; but no sooner did she see her go forth alone
than she threw on cloak and hat, and followed. The day was unsuited for
classic apparel, as English days are apt to be, and a lady of fashion
would have looked more foolish, and even more indecent, than usual. A
brisk and rather crisp east wind had arisen, which had no respect for
persons, and even Faith and Dolly in their high-necked country dresses
had to handle their tackle warily.

Dolly had a good start, and growing much excited with the petulance of
the wind and with her own audacity, crossed the mouth of the brook at a
very fine pace, with the easterly gusts to second her. She could see
the little mark-boat well out in the offing, with a red flag flaring
merrily, defying all the efforts of the gunners on the hill to plunge it
into the bright dance of the waves. And now and then she heard what she
knew to be the rush of a round shot far above her head, and following
the sound saw a little silver fountain leap up into the sunshine and
skim before the breeze; then glancing up the hill she saw the gray puff
drifting, and presently felt the dull rumble of the air. At the root
of the smoke-puffs, once or twice, she descried a stocky figure moving
leisurely, and in spite of the distance and huddle of vapour could
declare that it was Captain Stubbard. Then a dense mass of smoke was
brought down by an eddy of wind, and set her coughing.

"Come away, come away this very moment, Dolly," cried Faith, who had
hurried up and seized her hand; "you are past the danger-post, and I met
a man back there who says they are going to fire shells, and they have
got two short guns on purpose. He says it will be very dangerous till
they get the range, and he begged me most earnestly not to come on here.
If I were anybody else, he said, he would lay hands on me and hold me
back."

"Some old fisherman, no doubt. What do they know about gun practice? I
can see Captain Stubbard up there; he would rather shoot himself than
me, he said yesterday."

While Dolly was repeating this assurance, the following words were being
exchanged upon the smoky parapet: "If you please, sir, I can see two
women on the beach, half-way between the posts a'most." "Can't help
it--wouldn't stop for all the petticoats in the kingdom. If they choose
to go there, they must take their chance. A bit more up, and to you, my
good man. Are you sure you put in twenty-three? Steady! so, so--that's
beautiful."

"What a noisy thing! What does it come here for? I never saw it fall.
There must be some mistake. I hope there's nothing nasty inside it. Run
for your life, Faith; it means to burst, I do believe."

"Down on your faces!" cried a loud, stern voice; and Dolly obeyed in
an instant. But Faith stood calmly, and said to the man who rushed past
her, "I trust in the Lord, sir."

There was no time to answer. The shell had left off rolling, and
sputtered more fiercely as the fuse thickened. The man laid hold of
this, and tried to pull it out, but could not, and jumped with both feet
on it; while Faith, who quite expected to be blown to pieces, said to
herself, "What pretty boots he has!"

"A fine bit of gunnery!" said the young man, stooping over it, after
treading the last spark into the springy sand. "The little artillery man
is wanted here. Ladies, you may safely stay here now. They will not make
two hits in proximity to each other."

"You shall not go," said Faith, as he was hurrying away, "until we know
who has been so reckless of his life, to save the lives of others. Both
your hands are burned--very seriously, I fear."

"And your clothes, sir," cried Dolly, running up in hot terror, as soon
as the danger was over; "your clothes are spoiled sadly. Oh, how good
it was of you! And the whole fault was mine--or at least Captain
Stubbard's. He will never dare to face me again, I should hope."

"Young ladies, if I have been of any service to you," said the stranger,
with a smile at their excitement, "I beg you to be silent to the Captain
Stubbard concerning my share in this occasion. He would not be gratified
by the interest I feel in his beautiful little bombardments, especially
that of fair ladies. Ha, there goes another shell! They will make better
aim now; but you must not delay. I beseech you to hasten home, if you
would do me kindness."

The fair daughters of the Admiral had enjoyed enough of warfare to last
them till the end of their honeymoon, and they could not reject the
entreaty of a man who had risked his life to save them. Trembling and
bewildered, they made off at the quickest step permitted by maiden
dignity, with one or two kindly turns of neck, to show that he was
meant to follow them. But another sulphurous cloud rushed down from the
indefatigable Stubbard, and when it had passed them, they looked back
vainly for the gentleman who had spoiled his boots.



CHAPTER XX

AMONG THE LADIES


It would have surprised the stout Captain Stubbard, who thought no small
beer of his gunnery, to hear that it was held in very light esteem by
the "Frenchified young man overhead," as he called Caryl Carne, to his
landlady. And it would have amazed him to learn that this young man was
a captain of artillery, in the grand army mustering across the sea, and
one of the most able among plenty of ability, and favoured by the great
First Consul.

In the gully where the Tugwell boats were built, behind a fringe
of rough longshore growth, young Carne had been sitting with a good
field-glass, observing the practice of the battery. He had also been
able to observe unseen the disobedient practices of young ladies, when
their father is widely out of sight. Upon Faith, however, no blame could
fall, for she went against her wish, and only to retrieve the rebellious
Dolly.

Secure from the danger, these two held council in the comfort of the
Admiral's Round-house. There Miss Dolly, who considered it her domain,
kept sundry snug appliances congenial to young ladies, for removing
all traces of sudden excitement, and making them fit to be seen again.
Simple and unfashionable as they were in dress, they were sure to have
something to do to themselves after the late derangement, ere ever they
could run the risk of meeting any of the brave young officers, who were
so mysteriously fond of coming for orders to Springhaven Hall.

"You look well enough, dear," said Faith at last, "and much better than
you deserve to look, after leading me such a dance by your self-will.
But one thing must be settled before we go back--are we to speak of this
matter, or not?"

"How can you ask such a question, Faith?" Miss Dolly loved a bit of
secrecy. "Of course we must rather bite our tongues out, than break the
solemn pledges which we have given." She had cried a good deal, and she
began to cry again.

"Don't cry, that's a darling," said the simple-hearted sister. "You
make the whole world seem so cruel when you cry, because you look so
innocent. It shall be as you please, if I can only think it right. But
I cannot see how we gave a pledge of any sort, considering that we ran
away without speaking. The question is--have we any right to conceal it,
when father has a right to know everything?"

"He would be in such a sad passion," pleaded Dolly, with a stock of
fresh tears only waiting, "and he never would look again at poor Captain
Stubbard, and what would become of all his family?"

"Father is a just and conscientious man," replied the daughter who
inherited those qualities; "he would not blame Captain Stubbard; he
would blame us, and no others."

"Oh, I could not bear to hear you blamed, Faith. I should have to
say that it was all my fault. And then how I should catch it, and be
punished for a month! Confined to the grounds for a month at least,
and never have a bit of appetite. But I am not thinking of myself, I am
quite sure of that. You know that I never do that much. I am thinking of
that heroic gentleman, who stamped out the sparks so cleverly. All the
time I lay on the sand I watched him, though I expected to be blown
to pieces every single moment. Oh! what a nasty sensation it was! I
expected to find all my hair turned grey. But, thank Heaven, I don't see
a streak in it!" To make sure of that, she went to the glass again.

"If all mine had turned grey, 'twould be no odds to nobody--as Captain
Zeb says about his income--because I am intended for an old maid." Miss
Darling, whose beauty still lacked many years of its prime, turned away
for a moment, because her eyes were glistening, and her sister was
tired of the subject. "But for yours there are fifty to weep, Dolly.
Especially perhaps this young gentleman, towards whom you feel so much
gratitude."

"How unkind you are, Faith! All the gratitude I owe him is for saving
your life. As for myself, I was flat upon the sand, with a heap of
sea-weed between me and the thing. If it had gone off, it would have
gone over me; but you chose to stand up, like a stupid. Your life was
saved, beyond all doubt, by him; and the way you acknowledge it is to go
and tell his chief enemy that he was there observing him!"

"Well, I never!" Faith exclaimed, with more vigour than grace of
language. "A minute ago you knew nothing of him, and even wondered who
he was, and now you know all about his enemies! I am afraid that you
stick at nothing."

"I don't stick thinking, as you do, Miss," Dolly answered, without
abashment, and knowing that the elder hated to be so addressed; "but
things come to me by the light of nature, without a twelvemonth of
brown-study. When I said what you remind me of, in such a hurry, it was
perfectly true--so true that you need have no trouble about it, with all
your truth. But since that, a sudden idea flashed across me, the sort of
idea that proves itself. Your hero you are in such a hurry to betray can
be nobody but the mysterious lodger in Widow Shanks' dimity-parlour, as
she calls it; and Jenny has told me all she knows about him, which is
a great deal less than she ought to know. I meant to have told you, but
you are so grand in your lofty contempt of what you call gossip, but
which I call good neighbourly intercourse! You know that he is Mr. Caryl
Carne, of course. Everybody knows that, and there the knowledge seems to
terminate. Even the Twemlows, his own aunt and uncle, are scarcely ever
favoured with his company; and I, who am always on the beach, or in the
village, have never had the honour of beholding him, until--until it
came to this"--here she imitated with her lips the spluttering of the
fuse so well that her sister could not keep from laughing. "He never
goes out, and he never asks questions, any more than he answers them,
and he never cares to hear what fish they have caught, or anything else,
about anybody. He never eats or drinks, and he never says a word about
the flowers they put upon his table; and what he does all day long
nobody knows, except that he has a lot of books with him. Widow Shanks,
who has the best right to know all about him, has made up her mind that
his head has been turned by the troubles of his family, except for
his going without dinner, which no lunatic ever does, according to her
knowledge. And he seems to have got 'Butter Cheeseman,' as they call
him, entirely at his beck and call. He leaves his black horse there
every morning, and rides home at night to his ancestral ruins. There,
now, you know as much as I do."

"There is mischief at the bottom of all this," said Faith; "in these
dangerous times, it must not be neglected. We are bound, as you say,
to consider his wishes, after all that he has done for us. But the
tale about us will be over the place in a few hours, at the latest. The
gunners will have known where their bad shot fell, and perhaps they will
have seen us with their glasses. How will it be possible to keep this
affair from gossip?"

"They may have seen us, without seeing him at all, on account of the
smoke that came afterwards. At any rate, let us say nothing about it
until we hear what other people say. The shell will be washed away
or buried in the sand, for it fell upon the shingle, and then rolled
towards the sea; and there need be no fuss unless we choose to make it,
and so perhaps ruin Captain Stubbard and his family. And his wife has
made such pretty things for us. If he knew what he had done, he would go
and shoot himself. He is so excessively humane and kind."

"We will not urge his humanity to that extreme. I hate all mystery, as
you know well. But about this affair I will say nothing, unless there is
cause to do so, at least until father comes back; and then I shall tell
him if it seems to be my duty."

"It won't be your duty, it can't be your duty, to get good people into
trouble, Faith. I find it my duty to keep out of trouble, and I like to
treat others the same as myself."

"You are such a lover of duty, dear Dolly, because everything you
like becomes your duty. And now your next duty is to your dinner. Mrs.
Twemlow is coming--I forgot to tell you--as well as Eliza, and Mrs.
Stubbard. And if Johnny comes home in time from Harrow, to be Jack among
the ladies, we shall hear some wonders, you may be quite sure."

"Oh, I vow, I forgot all about that wicked Johnny. What a blessing that
he was not here just now! It is my black Monday when his holidays begin.
Instead of getting steadier, he grows more plaguesome. And the wonder of
it is that he would tie your kid shoes; while he pulls out my jaconet,
and sits on my French hat. How I wish he was old enough for his
commission! To-morrow he will be dancing in and out of every cottage,
boat, or gun, or rabbit-hole, and nothing shall be hidden from his eyes
and ears. Let him come. 'I am accustomed to have all things go awry,'
as somebody says in some tragedy. The only chance is to make him fall
in love, deeply in love, with Miss Stubbard. He did it with somebody for
his Easter week, and became as harmless as a sucking dove, till he found
his nymph eating onions raw with a pocketful of boiled limpets. Maggie
Stubbard is too perfect in her style for that. She is twelve years old,
and has lots of hair, and eyes as large as oysters. I shall introduce
Johnny to-morrow, and hope to keep him melancholy all his holidays."

"Perhaps it will be for his good," said Faith, "because, without some
high ideas, he gets into such dreadful scrapes; and certainly it will be
for our good."

After making light of young love thus, these girls deserved the shafts
of Cupid, in addition to Captain Stubbard's shells. And it would have
been hard to find fairer marks when they came down dressed for dinner.
Mrs. Twemlow arrived with her daughter Eliza, but without her husband,
who was to fetch her in the evening; and Mrs. Stubbard came quite
alone, for her walkable children--as she called them--were all up at the
battery. "Can't smell powder too young in such days as these," was the
Captain's utterance; and, sure enough, they took to it, like sons of
guns.

"I should be so frightened," Mrs. Twemlow said, when Johnny (who sat at
the foot of the table representing his father most gallantly) had said
grace in Latin, to astonish their weak minds, "so nervous all the time,
so excessively anxious, the whole time that dreadful din was proceeding!
It is over now, thank goodness! But how can you have endured it, how
can you have gone about your household duties calmly, with seven of your
children--I think you said--going about in that fiery furnace?"

"Because, ma'am," replied Mrs. Stubbard, who was dry of speech, and fit
mother of heroes, "the cannons are so made, if you can understand, that
they do not shoot out of their back ends."

"We are quite aware of that"--Miss Twemlow came to her mother's relief
very sharply--"but still they are apt to burst, or to be overloaded, or
badly directed, or even to fly back suddenly, as I have heard on good
authority."

"Very likely, miss, when they are commanded by young women."

Eliza Twemlow coloured, for she was rather quick of temper; but she did
not condescend to pay rudeness in kind.

"It would hardly be a lady-like position, I suppose," she answered, with
a curve of her graceful neck--the Carnes had been celebrated for their
necks, which were longer than those of the Darlings; "but even under
the command of a most skilful man, for instance Captain Stubbard, little
accidents will happen, like the fall of a shell upon the beach this
afternoon. Some people were close to it, according to the rumour; but
luckily it did not explode."

"How providential!" cried Mrs. Twemlow; "but the stupid people would
have gone without much pity, whatever had befallen them, unless they
were blind, or too ignorant to read. Don't you think so, Faith, my
dear?"

"I don't believe a single word of that story," Mrs. Stubbard cut short
the question; "for the simple reason that it never could have happened.
My husband was to direct every gun himself. Is it likely he would have
shelled the beach?"

"Well, the beach is the proper place for shells; but if I had only known
it, wouldn't I have come a few hours earlier?" said Johnny. "Even now
there must be something left to see; and I am bound to understand that
sort of thing. Ladies, I entreat you not to think me rude, if I go
as soon as ever you can do without me. I think I have got you nearly
everything you want; and perhaps you would rather be without me."

With many thanks and compliments--such a pretty boy he was--the ladies
released him gladly; and then Mrs. Twemlow, having reasons of her own,
drew nigh to Mrs. Stubbard with lively interest in her children. At
first, she received short answers only; for the Captain's wife had drawn
more sour juices than sweet uses from adversity. But the wife of the
man of peace outflanked the better half of the man of war, drove in her
outposts, and secured the key of all her communications.

"I can scarcely believe that you are so kind. My dear Mrs. Twemlow, how
good you are! My Bob is a nice boy, so manly and clever, so gentle and
well-behaved, even when he knows that I am not likely to find him out.
But that you should have noticed it, is what surprises me--so few
people now know the difference! But in the House of God--as you so well
observe--you can very soon see what a boy is. When I tell him that he
may ride your grey pony, I wish you could be there to watch the fine
expression of his face. How he does love dumb animals! It was only last
Saturday, he knocked down a boy nearly three times his own size for
poking a pin into a poor donkey with the fish. And Maggie to have a
flower-bed on your front lawn! They won't let her touch a plant, at our
cottage, though she understands gardening so thoroughly. She won't
sleep a wink to-night, if I tell her, and I had better keep that for the
morning. Poor children! They have had a hard time of it; but they have
come out like pure gold from the fire--I mean as many of them as can use
their legs. But to be on horseback--what will Bob say?"

"You must have met with very little kindness, Mrs. Stubbard, to attach
any importance to such mere trifles. It makes me blush to think that
there can be a spot in England where such children as yours could pass
unnoticed. It is not a question of religious feeling only. Far from
it; in fact, quite the opposite; though my husband, of course, is quite
right in insisting that all our opinions and actions must be referred
to that one standard. But I look at things also from a motherly point
of view, because I have suffered such sad trials. Three dear ones in the
churchyard, and the dearest of all--the Almighty only knows where he is.
Sometimes it is more than I can bear, to live on in this dark and most
dreadful uncertainty. My medical man has forbidden me to speak of it.
But how can he know what it is to be a mother? But hush! Or darling
Faith may hear me. Sometimes I lose all self-command."

Mrs. Twemlow's eyes were in need of wiping, and stout Mrs. Stubbard's
in the same condition. "How I wish I could help you," said the latter,
softly: "is there anything in the world that I can do?"

"No, my dear friend; I wish there was, for I'm sure that it would be
a pleasure to you. But another anxiety, though far less painful, is
worrying me as well just now. My poor brother's son is behaving most
strangely. He hardly ever comes near us, and he seems to dislike my dear
husband. He has taken rooms over your brave husband's Office, and he
comes and goes very mysteriously. It is my duty to know something about
this; but I dare not ask Captain Stubbard."

"My dear Mrs. Twemlow, it has puzzled me too. But thinking that you knew
all about it, I concluded that everything must be quite right. What
you tell me has surprised me more than I can tell. I shall go to work
quietly to find out all about it. Mystery and secrecy are such hateful
things; and a woman is always the best hand at either."



CHAPTER XXI

A GRACIOUS MERCY


As a matter of course, every gunner at the fort was ready to make oath
by every colour of the rainbow, that never shot, shell, wad, sponge, or
even powder-flake could by any possibility have fallen on the beach. And
before they had time to grow much more than doubly positive--that is to
say, within three days' time--the sound of guns fired in earnest drowned
all questions of bad practice.

For the following Sunday beheld Springhaven in a state of excitement
beyond the memory of the very oldest inhabitant, or the imagination of
the youngest. Excitement is a crop that, to be large, must grow--though
it thrives all the better without much root--and in this particular
field it began to grow before noon of Saturday. For the men who were
too old to go to sea, and the boys who were too young, and the women
who were never of the proper age, all these kept looking from the best
lookouts, but nothing could they see to enable them to say when the
kettle, or the frying-pan, or gridiron, would be wanted. They rubbed
their eyes grievously, and spun round three times, if time had brought
or left them the power so to spin; and they pulled an Irish
halfpenny, with the harp on, from their pockets, and moistened it with
saliva--which in English means spat on it--and then threw it into the
pocket on the other side of body. But none of these accredited appeals
to heaven put a speck upon the sea where the boats ought to have been,
or cast upon the clouds a shade of any sail approaching. Uneasily
wondering, the grannies, wives, and little ones went home, when the
nightfall quenched all eyesight, and told one another ancient tales of
woe.

Yet there is a salve for every sore, a bung for every bunghole. Upon the
Sunday morning, when the tide was coming in, and a golden haze hung
upon the peaceful sea, and the seven bells of the old grey church were
speaking of the service cheerfully, suddenly a deep boom moved the bosom
of distance, and palpitated all along the shore. Six or seven hale
old gaffers (not too stiff to walk, with the help of a staff, a little
further than the rest) were coming to hear parson by the path below the
warren, where a smack of salt would season them for doctrine. They knew
from long experience, the grandmother of science, that the mist of the
sea, coming on at breakfast-time, in the month of August (with the wind
where it was and the tides as they were), would be sure to hold fast
until dinner-time. Else, good as they were, and preparing punctually
once a week for a better world, the hind buttons of their Sunday coats
would have been towards the church, and the front ones to the headland.
For the bodies of their sons were dearer to them, substantially dearer,
than their own old souls.

They were all beginning to be deaf, or rather going on with it very
agreeably, losing thereby a great deal of disturbance, and gaining great
room for reflection. And now when the sound of a gun from the sea hung
shaking in the web of vapour, each of these wise men gazed steadfastly
at the rest, to see his own conclusion reflected, or concluded. A gun
it was indeed--a big well-shotted gun, and no deafness could throw any
doubt on it. There might not be anything to see, but still there would
be plenty to hear at the headland--a sound more arousing than the
parson's voice, a roar beyond that of all the gallery. "'Tis a battle!"
said one, and his neighbour cried, "A rare one!" They turned to the
parish church the quarters of farewell, and those of salutation to the
battle out at sea.

It was all over the village, in the time it takes to put a hat on, that
the British and the French fleets were hammer and tongs at it, within
the distance you may throw an apple off Springhaven headland.

Even the young women knew that this was quite impossible, because there
was no water there for a collier-brig to anchor; nevertheless, in the
hurry and scare, the thoughts of that new battery and Lord Nelson, and
above all in the fog, they believed it. So that there was scarcely any
room to stand, at the Watch-point, inside the Shag-rock; while in church
there was no one who could help being there, by force of holy office, or
example.

These latter were not in a devout frame of mind, and (but for the look
of it) would have done more good by joining the other congregation.
For the sound of cannon-shot came into their ears, like balls of
unadulterated pepper, and every report made them look at one another,
and whisper--"Ah! there goes some poor fellow's head." For the sacred
building was constructed so that the sounds outside of it had more power
than the good things offered in the inside.

However, as many, or as few, as did their duty, by joining the good
company of the minister, found themselves all the better for it, and
more fresh for a start than the runagates. Inasmuch as these latter had
nearly got enough of listening without seeing anything, while the steady
church-goers had refreshed the entire system by looking about without
listening. And to show the truant people where their duty should have
bound them, the haze had been thickening all over the sea, while the sun
kept the time on the old church dial. This was spoken of for many years,
throughout the village, as a Scriptural token of the proper thing to do.

"Well, and what have 'e seen?" asked the senior church-warden--not
Cheeseman, who was only the junior, and had neither been at church
nor on the headland--but Farmer Graves, the tenant of the Glebe and of
Up-farm, the Admiral's best holding; "what have 'e seen, good people
all, to leave parson to prache to hisself a'most a sarmon as he's
hathn't prached for five year, to my knowledge? Have 'e seen fat bulls
of Basan?"

"Naw; but us have heer'd un roar," replied one who was sure to say
something. "Wust of it is, there be no making out what language un do
roar in."

"One Englishman, I tell 'e, and two Frenchmen," said an ancient tar who
had served under Keppel; "by the ring of the guns I could swear to that
much. And they loads them so different, that they do."

Before the others had well finished laughing at him, it became his turn
to laugh at them. The wind was in the east, and the weather set fair,
and but for the sea-mist the power of the sun would have been enough to
dazzle all beholders. Already this vapour was beginning to clear off,
coiling up in fleecy wisps above the glistening water, but clinging
still to any bluff or cliff it could lay hold on.

"Halloa, Jem! Where be going of now?" shouted one or two voices from the
Oar-stone point, the furthest outlook of the Havenhead hill.

"To see them Frenchy hoppers get a jolly hiding," Jem Prater replied,
without easing his sculls. He was John Prater's nephew, of the "Darling
Arms," and had stopped behind the fishing to see his uncle's monthly
beer in. "You can't see up there, I reckon, the same as I do here.
One English ship have got a job to tackle two Crappos. But, by George!
she'll do it, mates. Good bye, and the Lord defend you!"

He had nobody but his little brother Sam, who was holding the tiller,
to help him, and his uncle's boat (which he had taken without leave)
was neither stout nor handy. But the stir of the battle had fetched him
forth, and he meant to see the whole of it without taking harm. Every
Englishman had a full right to do this, in a case of such French
audacity, and the English sea and air began to give him fair occasion.
For now the sun had swept the mist with a besom of gold wire, widening
every sweep, and throwing brilliant prospect down it. The gentle heave
of the sea flashed forth with the white birds hovering over it, and the
curdles of fugitive vapour glowed like pillars of fire as they floated
off. Then out of the drift appeared three ships, partly shrouded in
their own fog.

The wind was too light for manoeuvring much, and the combatants swung to
their broadsides, having taken the breath of the air away by the fury of
their fire. All three were standing to the north-north-west, under easy
sail, and on the starboard tack, but scarcely holding steerage-way,
and taking little heed of it. Close quarters, closer and closer still,
muzzle to muzzle, and beard to beard, clinched teeth, and hard pounding,
were the order of the day, with the crash of shattered timber and the
cries of dying men. And still the ships came onward, forgetting where
they were, heaving too much iron to have thought of heaving lead, ready
to be shipwrecks, if they could but wreck the enemy.

Between the bulky curls of smoke could be seen the scars of furious
battle, splintered masts and shivered yards, tattered sails and yawning
bulwarks, and great gaps even of the solid side; and above the ruck of
smoke appeared the tricolor flag upon the right hand and the left, and
the Union-jack in the middle.

"She've a'got more than she can do, I reckon," said an old man famous in
the lobster line; "other a one of they is as big as she be, and two to
one seemeth onfair odds. Wish her well out of it--that's all as can be
done."

"Kelks, you're a fool," replied the ancient navyman, steadying his
spy-glass upon a ledge of rock. "In my time we made very little of that;
and the breed may be slacked off a little, but not quite so bad as that
would be. Ah! you should a' heard what old Keppel--on the twenty-seventh
day of July it was, in the year of our Lord 1778. Talk about Nelson! to
my mind old Keppel could have boxed his compass backward. Not but what
these men know how to fight quite as well as need be nowadays. Why, if I
was aboard of that there frigate, I couldn't do much more than she have
done. She'll have one of them, you see if she don't, though she look to
have the worst of it, till you comes to understand. The Leader her name
is, of thirty-eight guns, and she'll lead one of they into Portsmouth,
to refit."

It was hard to understand the matter, in its present aspect, at all as
the ancient sailor did; for the fire of the Leda ceased suddenly, and
she fell behind the others, as if hampered with her canvas. A thrill of
pain ran through all the gazing Britons.

"How now, old Navy-Mike?" cried the lobster man. "Strike is the word,
and no mistake. And small blame to her either. She hathn't got a sound
thread to draw, I do believe. Who is the fool now, Mike? Though vexed I
be to ask it."

"Wait a bit, old lobster-pot. Ah, there now, she breezes! Whistle for
a wind, lads, whistle, whistle. Sure as I'm a sinner, yes! She's laying
her course to board the Frenchman on the weather quarter. With a slant
of wind she'll do it, too, if it only holds two minutes. Whistle on your
nails, my boys, for the glory of old England."

In reply to their shrill appeal--for even the women tried to whistle--or
perhaps in compulsory sequence of the sun, the wind freshened briskly
from the sunny side of east. The tattered sails of the brave ship
filled, with the light falling through them upon one another, the head
swung round at the command of helm, the pennons flew gaily and the
ensign flapped, and she bore down smoothly on the outer and therefore
unwounded side of the enemy.

"That's what I call judgmatical," old Mike shouted, with a voice that
rivalled cannon; "whoever thought of that deserves three epulets, one
on each shoulder and one upon his head. Doubt if old Keppel would have
thought of that, now. You see, mates, the other Crappo can't fire at her
without first hitting of her own consort. And better than that--ever so
much better--the tilt of the charge will throw her over on her wounds.
Master Muncher hath two great holes 'twixt wind and water on his
larboard side, and won't they suck the briny, with the weight of our
bows upon the starboard beam? 'Twill take fifty hands to stop leaks,
instead of stopping boarders."

The smoke was drifting off, and the sun shone bravely. The battle had
been gliding toward the feet of the spectators; and now from the height
of the cliff they could descry the decks, the guns, the coils of rope,
the turmoil, and dark rush of men to their fate. Small fights, man to
man, demanded still the power of a telescope, and distance made the
trenchant arms of heroes, working right and left, appear like the
nippers of an earwig. The only thing certain was that men were being
killed, and glory was being manufactured largely.

"She've a doed it, she've a doed it rarely. There's not a d----d froggy
left to go to heaven; or if there be so he's a' battened down below,"
old Mike shouted, flourishing his spy-glass, which rattled in its joints
as much as he did; "down comes the blood, froth, and blue blazes,
as they call the Republican emrods, and up goes the Union-jack, my
hearties. Three cheers! three cheers! Again! again! again!"

From the sea far below, and far away, came also the volume of a noble
English shout, as the flag began to flutter in the quickening breeze,
and the sea arose and danced with sunshine. No one, who had got all his
blood left in him, could think of anything but glory.

"My certy, they had better mind their soundings, though!" said the old
navy-man, with a stitch in his side and a lump in his throat, from loud
utterance; "five fathoms is every inch of it where they be now, and
the tide making strong, and precious little wind to claw off with. Jem
Prater! Jem Prater! Oar up, and give signal. Ah, he's too far off to
do any good. In five minutes more they'll be on the White Pig, where no
ship ever got off again. Oh, thank the Lord, mates, thank the Lord, for
his mercy endureth forever! The other froggy is stuck hard and fast, and
our lads will just fetch out in time."

Old Navy-Mike had made no mistake. The consort of the captured frigate,
a corvette of twenty-four guns, had boldly stood on with the intention
of rounding to the wind, crossing the bows of the other twain, and
retrieving the fortunes of the day perhaps, by a broadside into the
shattered upper works of the terribly hampered British ship. The idea
was clever and spirited, and had a very fair chance of success; but
the land below the sea forefended it. Full of fine ardour and the noble
thirst for fame, speeding on for the palm of high enterprise and the
glory of the native land, alas, they stuck fast in a soft bit of English
sand! It was in their power now to swear by all they disbelieved in,
and in everything visible and too tangible; but their power was limited
strictly to that; and the faster they swore, the faster they were bound
to stick.

Springhaven dined well, with its enemy so placed, and a message from
the Leda by Jem Prater, that the fishing fleet was rescued, and would
be home to early supper, and so much to be talked about all dinner-time,
that for once in his life nearly everybody found it more expedient to
eat with his fork than his knife. Then all who could be spared from
washing up, and getting ready for further cookery, went duly to church
in the afternoon, to hear the good rector return humble thanks for a
Gracious Mercy to the British arms, and to see a young man, who had
landed with despatches, put a face full of gunpowder in at window, to
learn whether Admiral Darling was there.



CHAPTER XXII

A SPECIAL URGENCY


Admiral Darling was not in church. His duty to his country kept him
up the hill, and in close consultation with Captain Stubbard, who was
burning to fire his battery.

"I never knew such bad luck in all my life. The devil has been appointed
First Lord of the weather ever since I came to Springhaven." As Stubbard
declared these great truths he strode about in his little fortress,
delivering a kick at the heels of things which had no right to be
lumbering there. "To think that I should never have seen those beggars,
when but for the fog I could have smashed them right and left. Admiral,
these things make a Christian an infidel."

"Nonsense, sir!" said the Admiral, sternly, for a man of his kind
nature; "you forget that without the fog, or rather the mist--for it
was only that--those fellows would never have come within range. We have
very great blessings to be thankful for, though the credit falls not to
our battery. The Frenchmen fought wonderfully well, as well as the best
Englishman could have done, and to capture them both is a miracle of
luck, if indeed we can manage to secure them. My friend, young Honyman,
of the Leda, has proved himself just what I said he would be; and has
performed a very gallant exploit, though I fear he is severely wounded.
But we shall know more now, for I see a young fellow jumping up the
hill, like a kangaroo, and probably he comes for orders. One thing we
have learned, Stubbard, and must take the hint to-morrow--put a hut on
the Haven head, and keep a watchman there. Why, bless my heart, it is
Blyth Scudamore that's coming! There is nobody else that can skip like
that."

The young lieutenant entered between two guns--the gunners were
dismissed in great disgust to dinner--with his pleasant face still a
little grimed with gunpowder, and flushed by his hurry up the steep
hill-side.

"This for you, sir," he said, saluting the Admiral, presenting his
letter, and then drawing back; "and I am to wait your convenience for
reply."

"What next will the service come to," asked the Admiral of Captain
Stubbard, "when a young man just commissioned gives himself such mighty
airs? Shake hands, Blyth, and promise you will come and dine with us,
unless you are ordered to return on board at once. How is your good
captain? I knew him when he wore Nankins. Jem Prater brought word that
he was wounded. I hope it is not serious."

"No, sir; not much to speak of. He has only lost three fingers. That was
why I wrote this letter--or report, I ought to call it, if anybody else
had written it. Oh, sir! I cannot bear to think of it! I was fifth luff
when the fight began, and now there is only one left above me, and he is
in command of our biggest prize, the Ville d'Anvers. But, Admiral, here
you will find it all, as I wrote it, from the lips, when they tied up
the fingers, of Captain Honyman."

"How could you tie them up when they were gone?" Captain Stubbard
enquired, with a sneer at such a youth. He had got on very slowly in his
early days, and could not bear to see a young man with such vacancies
before him. "Why, you are the luckiest lad I ever saw! Sure to go up at
least three steps. How well you must have kept out of it! And how happy
you must feel, Lieutenant Scudamore!"

"I am not at all happy at losing dear friends," the young man answered,
gently, as he turned away and patted the breech of a gun, upon which
there was a little rust next day; "that feeling comes later in life, I
suppose."

The Admiral was not attending to them now, but absorbed in the
brief account of the conflict, begun by Captain Honyman in his own
handwriting, and finished by his voice, but not his pen. Any one
desirous to read this may do so in the proper place. For the present
purpose it is enough to say that the modesty of the language was
scarcely surpassed by the brilliancy of the exploit. And if anything
were needed to commend the writer to the deepest good will of the
reader, it was found in the fact that this enterprise sprang from warm
zeal for the commerce of Springhaven. The Leda had been ordered on
Friday last to protect the peaceful little fishing fleet from a crafty
design for their capture, and this she had done with good effect, having
justice on her side, and fortune. The particulars of the combat were not
so clear, after the captain's three fingers were gone; but if one made
proper allowance for that, there was not very much to complain of.
The Admiral considered it a very good report; and then put on his
spectacles, and thought it still better.

"Why! why! why!" he said--for without affectation many officers had
caught the style of His then Gracious Majesty--"What's this? what's
this? Something on the other side, in a different man's handwriting, and
mighty difficult to read, in my opinion. Stubbard, did you ever see such
a scrawl? Make it out for me. You have good eyes, like a hawk, or the
man who saw through a milestone. Scudamore, what was his name? You
know."

"Three fingers at five pounds apiece per annum as long as he lives!"
Captain Stubbard computed on his own: "fifteen pounds a year perhaps for
forty years, as you seem to say how young he is; that comes to just 600
pounds, and his hand as good as ever"--("I'll be hanged if it is, if he
wrote this!" the Admiral interjected)--"and better, I must say, from a
selfish point of view, because of only two nails left to clean, and
his other hand increased in value; why, the scale is disgraceful,
iniquitous, boobyish, and made without any knowledge of the human frame,
and the comparative value of its members. Lieutenant Scudamore, look at
me. Here you see me without an ear, damaged in the fore-hatch, and with
the larboard bow stove in--and how much do I get, though so much older?"

"Well, if you won't help me, Stubbard," said the Admiral, who knew
how long his friend would carry on upon that tack, "I must even get
Scudamore to read it, though it seems to have been written on purpose to
elude him. Blyth, my dear boy, can you explain it?"

"It was--it was only something, sir"--the lieutenant blushed, and
hesitated, and looked away unmanfully--"which I asked Captain Honyman
to leave out, because--because it had nothing to do with it. I mean,
because it was of no importance, even if he happened to have that
opinion. His hand was tied up so, that I did not like to say too much,
and I thought that he would go to sleep, because the doctor had made him
drink a poppy head boiled down with pigtail. But it seems as if he had
got up after that--for he always will have his own way--while I was gone
to put this coat on; and perhaps he wrote that with his left hand, sir.
But it is no part of the business."

"Then we will leave it," said Admiral Darling, "for younger eyes than
mine to read. Nelson wrote better with his left hand than ever he did
with his right, to my thinking, the very first time that he tried it.
But we can't expect everybody to do that. There is no sign of any change
of weather, is there, Stubbard? My orders will depend very much upon
that. I must go home and look at the quicksilver before I know what is
best to do. You had better come with me, Scudamore."

Admiral Darling was quite right in this. Everything depended upon the
weather; and although the rough autumn was not come yet, the prime of
the hopeful year was past. The summer had not been a grand one, such
as we get about once in a decade, but of loose and uncertain character,
such as an Englishman has to make the best of. It might be taking up for
a golden autumn, ripening corn, and fruit, and tree, or it might break
up into shower and tempest, sodden earth, and weltering sky.

"Your captain refers to me for orders," said Admiral Darling to
Scudamore, while they were hastening to the Hall, "as Commander of the
Coast Defence, because he has been brought too far inshore, and one of
the Frenchmen is stranded. The frigate you boarded and carried is the
Ville d'Anvers, of forty guns. The corvette that took the ground, so
luckily for you, when half of your hands were aboard the prize, is the
Blonde, teak-built, and only launched last year. We must try to have
her, whatever happens. She won't hurt where she is, unless it comes
on to blow. Our sands hold fast without nipping, as you know, like a
well-bred sheep-dog, and the White Pig is the toughest of all of them.
She may stay there till the equinox, without much mischief, if the
present light airs continue. But the worst job will be with the
prisoners; they are the plague of all these affairs, and we can't
imitate Boney by poisoning them. On the whole, it had better not have
happened, perhaps. Though you must not tell Honyman that I said so. It
was a very gallant action, very skilful, very beautiful; and I hope he
will get a fine lift for it; and you too, my dear Blyth, for you must
have fought well."

"But, Admiral, surely you would have been grieved if so many of your
tenants, and their boats as well, had been swept away into a French
harbour. What would Springhaven be without its Captain Zebedee?"

"You are right, Blyth; I forgot that for the moment. There would have
been weeping and wailing indeed, even in our own household. But they
could not have kept them long, though the loss of their boats would have
been most terrible. But I cannot make out why the French should have
wanted to catch a few harmless fishing-smacks. Aquila non captat muscas,
as you taught the boys at Stonnington. And two ships despatched upon
a paltry job of that sort! Either Captain Honyman was strangely
misinformed, or there is something in the background, entirely beyond
our knowledge. Pay attention to this matter, and let me know what you
hear of it--as a friend, Blyth, as a friend, I mean. But here we are!
You must want feeding. Mrs. Cloam will take care of you, and find all
that is needful for a warrior's cleanup. I must look at the barometer,
and consider my despatches. Let us have dinner, Mrs. Cloam, in twenty
minutes, if possible. For we stand in real need of it."

Concerning that there could be no doubt. Glory, as all English officers
know, is no durable stay for the stomach. The urgency of mankind
for victuals may roughly be gauged by the length of the jaw. Captain
Stubbard had jaws of tremendous length, and always carried a bag of
captain's biscuits, to which he was obliged to have recourse in the
height of the hottest engagement. Scudamore had short jaws, well set up,
and powerful, without rapacity. But even these, after twelve hours of
fasting, demanded something better than gunpowder. He could not help
thinking that his host was regarding the condition of affairs very
calmly, until he remembered that the day was Sunday, when no Briton has
any call to be disturbed by any but sacred insistency. At any rate, he
was under orders now, and those orders were entirely to his liking. So
he freshened up his cheerful and simple-minded face, put his sailor-knot
neckcloth askew, as usual, and with some trepidation went down to
dinner.

The young ladies would not have been young women if they had not
received him warmly. Kind Faith, who loved him as a sister might--for
she had long discovered his good qualities--had tears in her beautiful
eyes, as she gave him both hands, and smiled sweetly at his bashfulness.
And even the critical Dolly, who looked so sharply at the outside
of everything, allowed her fair hand to stay well in his, and said
something which was melody to him. Then Johnny, who was of a warlike
cast, and hoped soon to destroy the French nation, shook hands with this
public benefactor already employed in that great work.

"I shall scarcely have time for a bit of dinner," said Admiral Darling,
as they sat down. "I have sent word to have the Protector launched, and
to give little Billy a feed of corn. All you young people may take your
leisure. Youth is the time that commands time and space. But for my
part, if I can only manage this plate of soup, and a slice of that fish,
and then one help of mutton, and just an apple-fritter, or some trifle
of that sort, I shall be quite as lucky as I can hope to be. Duty
perpetually spoils my dinner, and I must get some clever fellow to
invent a plate that will keep as hot as duty is in these volcanic times.
But I never complain; I am so used to it. Eat your dinners, children,
and don't think of mine."

Having scarcely afforded himself an hour, the Admiral, in full uniform,
embarked upon little Billy, a gentle-minded pony from the west country,
who conducted his own digestion while he consulted that of his rider. At
the haven they found the Protector ready, a ten-oared galley manned by
Captain Stubbard's men, good samples of Sea-Fencibles. And the Captain
himself was there, to take the tiller, and do any fighting if the chance
should arise, for he had been disappointed all the morning. The boat
which brought Scudamore had been recalled by signal from the Leda, and
that active young officer having sought her vainly, and thereby missed
the Protector, followed steadily in Mr. Prater's boat, with the nephew,
Jem, pulling the other oar, and Johnny Darling, who raged at the thought
of being left behind, steering vaguely. And just as they rounded the
harbour-head, the long glassy sweep of the palpitating sea bore inward
and homeward the peaceful squadron, so wistfully watched for and so
dearly welcome.



CHAPTER XXIII

YOH-HEAVE-OH!


"Her condition was very bad, as bad as could be, without going straight
to the bottom," the Admiral said to the Rector that night, as they
smoked a pipe together; "and to the bottom she must have gone, if the
sea had got up, before we thrummed her. Honyman wanted to have her
brought inside the Head; but even if we could have got there, she would
ground at low water and fill with the tide. And what could we do with
all those prisoners? With our fresh hands at the pumps, we very soon
fetched the water out of her, and made her as tight as we could; and
I think they will manage to take her to Portsmouth. She has beautiful
lines. I never saw a smarter ship. How she came to the wind, with all
that water in her! The wind is all right for Portsmouth, and she will be
a fine addition to the Navy."

"But what is become of the other vessel, craft, corvette, or whatever
you call her? You say that she is scarcely hurt at all. And if she gets
off the White Pig's back in the night, she may come up and bombard us.
Not that I am afraid; but my wife is nervous, and the Rectory faces
the sea so much. If you have ordered away the Leda, which seems to have
conquered both of them, the least you can do is to keep Captain Stubbard
under arms all night in his battery."

"I have a great mind to do so; it would be a good idea, for he was very
much inclined to cut up rough to-day. But he never would forgive me, he
is such a hog at hammock--as we used to say, until we grew too elegant.
And he knows that the Blonde has hauled down her colours, and Scudamore
is now prize-captain. I have sent away most of her crew in the Leda, and
I am not at all sure that we ought not to blow her up. In the end, we
shall have to do so, no doubt; for nothing larger than a smack has ever
got off that sand, and floated. But let our young friend try; let him
have a fair trial. He has the stuff of a very fine seaman in him. And if
he should succeed, it would be scored with a long leg for him. Halloa!
Why, I thought the girls were fast asleep long ago!"

"As if we could sleep, papa, with this upon our minds!" Dolly waved an
open letter in the air, and then presented it. "Perhaps Faith might, but
I am sure I never could. You defied us to make out this, which is on the
other leaf; and then, without giving us fair play, you took it to the
desk in your Oak-room, and there you left it. Well, I took the liberty
of going there for it, for there can't be any secret about a thing that
will be printed; and how are they to print it, if they can't contrive to
read it? How much will you pay me for interpreting, papa? Mr. Twemlow,
I think I ought to have a guinea. Can you read it, now, with all your
learning, and knowledge of dead languages?"

"My dear, it is not my duty to read it, and not at all my business. It
seems to be written with the end of a stick, by a boy who was learning
his letters. If you can interpret it, you must be almost a Daniel."

"Do you hear that, papa, you who think I am so stupid? Faith gave it up;
she has no perseverance, or perhaps no curiosity. And I was very nearly
beaten too, till a very fine idea came into my head, and I have made
out every word except three, and perhaps even those three, if Captain
Honyman is not very particular in his spelling. Can you tell me anything
about that, papa?"

"Yes, Dolly, just what you have heard from me before. Honyman is a good
officer; a very good one, as he has just proved. No good officer ever
spells well, whether in the army or the navy. Look at Nelson's letters.
I am inclined to ascribe my own slow promotion to the unnatural accuracy
of my spelling, which offended my lords, because it puzzled them."

"Then all is straight sailing, as you say, papa. But I must tell you
first how I found it out, or perhaps you won't believe me. I knew that
Captain Honyman wrote this postscript, or whatever it is, with his
left hand, so I took a pen in my own left hand, and practised all the
letters, and the way they join, which is quite different from the other
hand. And here is the copy of the words, as my left hand taught my right
to put them down, after inking ever so many fingers:

"'We never could have done it without Scudamore. He jumped a most
wonderful jump from our jib-boom into her mizzen chains, when our
grapples had slipped, and we could get no nearer, and there he made
fast, though the enemy came at him with cutlasses, pikes, and muskets.
By this means we borded and carried the ship, with a loss as above
reported. When I grew faint from a trifling wound, Luff Scudamore led
the borders with a cool courage that discomfited the fo.'"

"Robert Honyman all over!" cried the Admiral, with delight. "I could
swear that he wrote it, if it was written with his toes. 'Twas an old
joke against him, when he was lieutenant, that he never could spell his
own title; and he never would put an e after an o in any word. He is
far too straightforward a man to spell well; and now the loss of three
fingers will cut his words shorter than ever, and be a fine excuse
for him. He was faint again, when I boarded the Leda, partly no doubt
through strong medical measures; for the doctor, who is an ornament to
his profession, had cauterised his stumps with a marlinspike, for fear
of inflammation. And I heard that he had singed the other finger off.
But I hope that may prove incorrect. At any rate, I could not bear to
disturb him, but left written orders with Scudamore; for the senior was
on board the prize. Dolly, be off to bed, this moment."

"Well, now," said the Rector, drawing near, and filling another
deliberative pipe, "I have no right to ask what your orders were, and
perhaps you have no right to tell me. But as to the ship that remains in
my parish, or at any rate on its borders, if you can tell me anything,
I shall be very grateful, both as a question of parochial duty, and also
because of the many questions I am sure to have to answer from my wife
and daughter."

"There is no cause for secrecy; I will tell you everything:" the Admiral
hated mystery. "Why, the London papers will publish the whole of it, and
a great deal more than that, in three days' time. I have sent off the
Leda with her prize to Portsmouth. With this easterly breeze and smooth
water, they will get there, crippled as they are, in some twenty-four
hours. There the wounded will be cared for, and the prisoners drafted
off. The Blonde, the corvette which is aground, surrendered, as you
know, when she found herself helpless, and within range of our new
battery. Stubbard's men longed to have a few shots at her; but of course
we stopped any such outrage. Nearly all her officers and most of her
crew are on board the Leda, having given their parole to attempt no
rising; and Frenchmen are always honourable, unless they have some very
wicked leader. But we left in the corvette her captain, an exceedingly
fine fellow, and about a score of hands who volunteered to stay to help
to work the ship, upon condition that if we can float her, they shall
have their freedom. And we put a prize crew from the Leda on board her,
only eight-and-twenty hands, which was all that could be spared, and
in command of them our friend Blyth Scudamore. I sent him to ask Robert
Honyman about it, when he managed to survive the doctor, for a captain
is the master of his own luffs; and he answered that it was exactly
what he wished. Our gallant frigate lost three lieutenants in this very
spirited action, two killed and one heavily wounded. And the first is
in charge of the Ville d'Anvers, so there was nobody for this enterprise
except the gentle Scuddy, as they call him. He is very young for such a
business, and we must do all we can to help him."

"I have confidence in that young man," said Mr. Twemlow, as if it were
a question of theology; "he has very sound views, and his principles are
high; and he would have taken holy orders, I believe, if his father's
assets had permitted it. He perceives all the rapidly growing dangers
with which the Church is surrounded, and when I was in doubt about a
line of Horace, he showed the finest diffidence, and yet proved that
I was right. The 'White Pig,' as the name of a submarine bank, is most
clearly of classic origin. We find it in Homer, and in Virgil too; and
probably the Romans, who undoubtedly had a naval station in Springhaven,
and exterminated the oyster, as they always did--"

"Come, come, Twemlow," said the Admiral, with a smile which smoothed the
breach of interruption, "you carry me out of my depth so far that I long
to be stranded on my pillow. When your great book comes out, we shall
have in perfect form all the pile of your discoveries, which you break
up into little bits too liberally. The Blonde on the Pig is like Beauty
and the Beast. If gentle Scuddy rescues her, it won't be by Homer, or
Horace, or even holy orders, but by hard tugs and stout seamanship."

"With the blessing of the Lord, it shall be done," said the Rector,
knocking his pipe out; "and I trust that Providence may see fit to have
it done very speedily; for I dread the effect which so many gallant
strangers, all working hard and apparently in peril, may produce upon
the females of this parish."

But the Admiral laughed, and said, "Pooh, pooh!" for he had faith in the
maids of Springhaven.

For these there was a fine time now in store--young men up and down
everywhere, people running in and out with some new news, before they
could get their hats on, the kettle to boil half a dozen times a day,
and almost as much to see as they could talk of. At every high-water
that came by daylight--and sometimes there were two of them--every maid
in the parish was bound to run to the top of a sand-hill high enough to
see over the neck of the Head, and there to be up among the rushes all
together, and repulse disdainfully the society of lads. These took the
matter in a very different light, and thought it quite a pity and a
piece of fickle-mindedness, that they might go the round of crab-pots,
or of inshore lug-lines, without anybody to watch them off, or come down
with a basket to meet them.

For be it understood that the great fishing fleet had not launched forth
upon its labours. Their narrow escape from the two French cruisers would
last them a long time to think over, and to say the same thing to each
other about it that each other had said to them every time they met. And
they knew that they could not do this so well as to make a new credit of
it every time, when once they were in the same craft together, and could
not go asunder more than ten yards and a half. And better, far better,
than all these reasons for staying at home and enjoying themselves,
was the great fact that they could make more money by leisure than by
labour, in this nobly golden time.

Luck fostered skill in this great affair, which deserves to be recorded
for the good of any village gifted with like opportunity. It appears
that the British Admiralty had long been eager for the capture of the
Blonde, because of her speed and strength and beauty, and the mischief
she had done to English trade. To destroy her would be a great comfort,
but to employ her aright would be glorious; and her proper employment
was to serve as a model for English frigates first, and then to fight
against her native land. Therefore, no sooner did their lordships hear
what had happened at Springhaven than they sent down a rider express,
to say that the ship must be saved at any price. And as nothing could
be spared from the blockading force, or the fleet in the Downs, or the
cruising squadron, the Commander of the coast-defence was instructed to
enrol, impress, or adapt somehow all the men and the matter available.
Something was said about free use of money in the service of His
Majesty, but not a penny was sent to begin upon. But Admiral Darling
carried out his orders, as if he had received them framed in gold. "They
are pretty sure to pay me in the end," he said; "and if they don't, it
won't break me. I would give 500 pounds on my own account, to carry
that corvette to Spithead. And it would be the making of Scudamore, who
reminds me of his father more and more, every time I come across him."

The fleet under Captain Tugwell had quite lately fallen off from seven
to five, through the fierce patriotism of some younger members, and
their sanguine belief in bounty-money. Captain Zeb had presented them
with his experience in a long harangue--nearly fifty words long--and
they looked as if they were convinced by it. However, in the morning
they were gone, having mostly had tiffs with their sweethearts--which
are fervent incentives to patriotism--and they chartered themselves,
and their boats were numbered for the service of their Country. They had
done their work well, because they had none to do, except to draw small
wages, and they found themselves qualified now for more money, and came
home at the earliest chance of it.

Two guineas a day for each smack and four hands, were the terms
offered by the Admiral, whose hard-working conscience was twitched into
herring-bones by the strife between native land and native spot. "I have
had many tussles with uncertainty before," he told Dolly, going down
one evening, "but never such vexation of the mind as now. All our people
expect to get more for a day, than a month of fine fishing would bring
them; while the Government goes by the worst time they make, and expects
them to throw in their boats for nothing. 'The same as our breeches,'
Tugwell said to me; 'whenever we works, we throws in they, and we ought
to do the very same with our boats.' This makes it very hard for me."

But by doing his best, he got over the hardship, as people generally do.
He settled the daily wages as above, with a bonus of double that
amount for the day that saw the Blonde upon her legs again. Indignation
prevailed, or pretended to do so; but common-sense conquered, and all
set to work. Hawsers, and chains, and buoys, and all other needful gear
and tackle were provided by the Admiralty from the store-house built not
long ago for the Fencibles. And Zebedee Tugwell, by right of position,
and without a word said for it--because who could say a word against
it?--became the commander of the Rescue fleet, and drew double pay
naturally for himself and family.

"I does it," he said, "if you ask me why I does it, without any
intention of bettering myself, for the Lord hath placed me above need of
that; but mainly for the sake of discipline, and the respectability of
things. Suppose I was under you, sir, and knew you was getting no more
than I was, why, my stomach would fly every time that you gave me an
order without a 'Please, Zebedee!' But as soon as I feels that you
pocket a shilling, in the time I take pocketing twopence, the value of
your brain ariseth plain before me; and instead of thinking what you
says, I does it."



CHAPTER XXIV

ACCORDING TO CONTRACT


When the Blonde had been on the White Pig for a week, in spite of all
the science of Scudamore, ready money of the Admiral, and efforts of the
natives, there began to be signs of a change in the weather. The sea was
as smooth, and the sky as bright, and the land as brown as ever; but the
feel of the air was not the same, and the sounds that came through it
were different. "Rain afore Friday," said Captain Zeb, "and a blow from
sowwest afore Sunday. 'Twill break up the Blunder, I reckon, my lads."

With various aspects they looked at him, all holding sweet converse at
the Darling Arms, after the manifold struggles of the day. The eyes of
the younger men were filled with disappointment and anger, as at a sure
seer of evil; the elder, to whom cash was more important, gazed with
anxiety and dismay; while a pair, old enough to be sires of Zebedee,
nodded approval, and looked at one another, expecting to receive, but
too discreet to give, a wink. Then a lively discourse arose and throve
among the younger; and the elders let them hold it, while they talked of
something else.

On the following morning two dialogues were held upon different parts
of Springhaven shore, but each of great import to the beautiful captive
still fast aground in the offing. The first was between Captain Zebedee
Tugwell and Lieutenant Scudamore. The gentle Scuddy, still hoping
against hope, had stuck fast to his charge, upon whose fortunes so much
of his own depended. If he could only succeed in floating and carrying
her into Portsmouth, his mark would be made, his position secured far
quicker than by ten gallant actions; and that which he cared for a
hundredfold, the comfort of his widowed mother, would be advanced and
established. For, upon the valuation of the prizes, a considerable sum
would fall to him, and every farthing of it would be sent to her. Bright
with youthful hope, and trustful in the rising spring of tide, which had
all but released them yesterday, according to his firm belief, he ran
from the Hall through the Admiral's grounds, to meet the boat which
was waiting for him, while he was having breakfast and council with his
chief. Between the Round-house and the old white gate he heard a low
whistle from a clump of shrubs, and turning that way, met Tugwell. With
that prince of fishermen he shook hands, according to the manner of
Springhaven, for he had learned to admire the brave habit of the man,
his strong mind, and frank taciturnity. And Tugwell on his part had
taken a liking to the simple and cheerful young officer, who received
his suggestions, was kind to all hands, and so manfully bore the daily
disappointment.

"Nobody in there?" asked Zeb, with one finger pointing to the
Round-house; "then sit down on this bit of bank, sir, a minute. Less
chance to be shot at by any French ship."

The bit of bank really was a bit of hollow, where no one could see them
from the beach, or lane, or even from the Round-house. Scudamore, who
understood his man, obeyed; and Tugwell came to his bearings on a clump
of fern before him.

"How much will Government pay the chaps as fetches her out of that snug
little berth? For division to self and partners, how much? For division
to self and family, how much?"

"I have thought about that," the lieutenant answered, with little
surprise at the question, but much at the secrecy thrown around it; "and
I think it would be very unsafe to count upon getting a penny beyond the
Admiral's terms--double pay for the day that we float her."

Captain Zebedee shook his head, and the golden sheaf of his Olympian
beard ruffled and crisped, as to an adverse wind.

"Can't a'most believe it," he replied, with his bright eyes steadily
settled on Scudamore's; "the English country, as I belongs to, can't
quite 'a coom to that yet!"

"I fear that it has indeed," Blyth answered, very gravely; "at least I
am sure of this, Master Tugwell, that you must not look forward to
any bounty, bonus, or premium, or whatever it is called, from the
Authorities who should provide it. But for myself, and the difference it
will make to me whether we succeed or fail, I shall be happy, and will
give my word, to send you 50 pounds, to be divided at your discretion
among the smacks. I mean, of course, as soon as I get paid."

Scudamore was frightened by the size of his own promise; for he had
never yet owned 50 pounds in the solid. And then he was scared at the
wholesale loss of so large a sum to his mother.

"Never fear, lad," honest Tugwell replied, for the young man's face was
fair to read; "we'll not take a farden of thy hard airnings, not a brass
farden, so help me Bob! Gentlefolks has so much call for money, as none
of us know nothing of. And thou hast helped to save all the lot of us
from Frenchies, and been the most forwardest, as I hear tell. But if us
could 'a got 50 pounds out of Government, why so much more for us, and
none the less for they. But a Englishman must do his duty, in reason,
and when 'a don't hurt his self by the same. There's a change in
the weather, as forbids more sport. You shall have the Blunder off
to-morrow, lad. Wouldn't do to be too sudden like."

"I fear I am very stupid, Master Tugwell. But I don't see how you can
manage it so surely, after labouring nine days all in vain."

Zebedee hesitated half a moment, betwixt discretion and the pride of
knowledge. Then the latter vanquished and relieved his mind.

"I trust in your honour, sir, of course, to keep me clear. I might have
brought 'e off the Pig, first day, or second to the latest, if it were
sound business. But with winter time coming, and the week's fishing
lost, our duty to our families and this place was to pull 'e on harder,
sir, to pull 'e aground firmer; and with the help of the Lord we have
a-doed it well. We wasn't a-going to kill the goose as laid the golden
eggs. No offence to you, sir; it wasn't you as was the goose."

Master Tugwell rubbed his pockets with a very pleasant smile, and then
put his elbows on his great square knees, and complacently studied the
lieutenant's smaller mind.

"I can understand how you could do such a thing," said Scudamore, after
he had rubbed his eyes, and then looked away for fear of laughing, "but
I cannot understand by what power on earth you are enabled to look at me
and tell me this. For nine days you have been paid every night, and paid
pretty well, as you yourself acknowledge, to haul a ship off a shoal;
and all the time you have been hauling her harder upon it!"

"Young man," replied Tugwell, with just indignation, "a hofficer should
be above such words. But I forgive 'e, and hope the Lord will do the
same, with allowance for youth and ill-convenience. I might 'a knowed no
better, at your age and training."

"But what were you paid for, just answer me that, unless it was to pull
the Blonde off the sand-bank? And how can you pretend that you have done
an honest thing by pulling her further upon the bank?"

"I won't ask 'e, sir, to beg my pardon for saying what never man said
to me, without reading the words of the contraction;" Zeb pulled out
a paper from his hat, and spread it, and laid a stone at every corner;
"this contraction was signed by yourself and Squire Darling, for and on
behalf of the kingdom; and the words are for us to give our services, to
pull, haul, tow, warp, or otherwise as directed, release, relieve, set
free, and rescue the aforesaid ship, or bark, or vessel, craft, or--"

"Please not to read all that," cried Scuddy, "or a gale of wind may come
before you are half-way through. It was Admiral Darling's lawyer, Mr.
Furkettle, who prepared it, to prevent any chance of misunderstanding."

"Provided always," continued Tugwell, slowly, "and the meaning,
condition, purport, object, sense, and intention of this agreement is,
that the aforesaid Zebedee Tugwell shall submit in everything to the
orders, commands, instructions, counsel, directions, injunctions,
authority, or discretion, whether in writing or otherwise, of the
aforesaid--"

"I would not interrupt you if I could help it"--Scudamore had a large
stock of patience (enhanced by laborious practice at Stonnington), but
who might abide, when time was precious, to see Zebedee feeling his way
with his fingers along the bottom and to the end of every word, and then
stopping to congratulate himself at the conquest of every one over two
syllables? "But excuse me for saying that I know all these conditions;
and the tide will be lost, if we stop here."

"Very good, sir; then you see how it standeth. Who hath broken them?
Not us! We was paid for to haul; and haul we did, according to superior
orders. She grounded from the south, with the tide making upp'ard,
somewhere about three-quarter flow; and the Squire, and you, and all
the rest of 'e, without no knowledge of the Pig whatsomever, fastens all
your pulley-haulies by the starn, and says, 'now pull!' And pull we did,
to the tune of sixteen guineas a day for the good of Springhaven."

"And you knew all the time that it was wrong! Well, I never came across
such people. But surely some one of you would have had the honesty--I
beg pardon, I mean the good-will--to tell us. I can scarcely imagine
some forty men and boys preserving such a secret for nine whole days,
hauling for their lives in the wrong direction, and never even by a wink
or smile--"

"Springhaven is like that," said Master Tugwell, proudly; "we does a
thing one and all together, even if us reasons consarning it. And over
and above that, sir, there is but two men in Springhaven as understands
the White Pig, barring my own self. The young 'uns might 'a smelt a rat,
but they knew better than to say so. Where the Blunder grounded--and she
hath airned her name, for the good of the dwellers in this village--is
the chine of the Pig; and he hath a double back, with the outer side
higher than the inner one. She came through a narrow nick in his outer
back, and then plumped, stem on, upon the inner one. You may haul at
her forever by the starn, and there she'll 'bide, or lay up again on the
other back. But bring her weight forrard, and tackle her by the head,
and off she comes, the very next fair tide; for she hath berthed herself
over the biggest of it, and there bain't but a basketful under her
forefoot."

"Then, Master Tugwell, let us lose no time, but have at her at once, and
be done with it." Scudamore jumped up, to give action to his words; but
Tugwell sate aground still, as firmly as the Blonde.

"Begging of your pardon, sir, I would invite of you not to be in no sart
of hurry hasting forwardly. Us must come off gradual, after holding on
so long there, and better to have Squire Darling round the corner first,
sir. Not that he knoweth much about it, but 'a might make believe to
do so. And when 'a hath seen us pull wrong ways, a hundred and twenty
guineas' worth, a' might grudge us the reward for pulling right ways.
I've a-knowed 'un get into that state of mind, although it was his own
tenants."

The lieutenant was at length compelled to laugh, though for many reasons
loth to do so. But the quiet contempt for the Admiral's skill, and the
brief hint about his character, touched his sense of the ludicrous more
softly than the explanation of his own mishaps. Then the Captain of
Springhaven smiled almost imperceptibly; for he was a serious man, and
his smiles were accustomed to be interior.

"I did hear tell," he said, stroking his beard, for fear of having
discomposed it, "that the Squire were under compulsion to go a bit
westward again to-morrow. And when he cometh back he would be glad to
find us had managed the job without him. No fear of the weather breaking
up afore Friday, and her can't take no harm for a tide or two. If you
thinks well, sir, let us heave at her to-day, as afore, by superior
orders. Then it come into your mind to try t'other end a bit, and you
shift all the guns and heavy lumber forrard to give weight to the bows
and lift the starn, and off her will glide at the first tug to-morrow,
so sure as my name is Zebedee. But mind one thing, sir, that you keep
her, when you've got her. She hath too many furriner natives aboard of
her, to be any way to my liking."

"Oh, there need be no doubt about them," replied Blyth; "we treat them
like ourselves, and they are all upon their honour, which no Frenchman
ever thinks of breaking. But my men will be tired of waiting for me. I
shall leave you to your plans, Tugwell."

"Ah, I know the natur' of they young men," Captain Zebedee mused, as he
sate in his hollow, till Scudamore's boat was far away; "they be full
of scruples for themselves and faith in other fellows. He'll never tell
Squire, nor no one else here, what I laid him under, and the laugh would
go again' him, if he did. We shall get to-day's money, I reckon, as well
as double pay to-morrow, and airn it. Well, it might 'a been better, and
it might be wuss."

About two miles westward of the brook, some rocks marked the end of the
fine Springhaven sands and the beginning of a far more rugged beach, the
shingles and flint shelves of Pebbleridge. Here the chalk of the Sussex
backbone (which has been plumped over and sleeked by the flesh of the
valley) juts forth, like the scrags of a skeleton, and crumbles in low
but rugged cliffs into the flat domain of sea. Here the landing is bad,
and the anchorage worse, for a slippery shale rejects the fluke, and the
water is usually kept in a fidget between the orders of the west wind
and scurry of the tide.

This very quiet morning, with the wind off shore, and scarcely enough of
it to comb the sea, four smart-looking Frenchmen, with red caps on their
heads, were barely holding way upon the light gig of the Blonde, while
their Captain was keeping an appointment with a stranger, not far
from the weed-strewn line of waves. In a deep rocky channel where a
land-spring rose (which was still-born except at low water), and laver
and dilsk and claw-coral showed that the sea had more dominion there
than the sky, two men stood facing each other; and their words, though
belonging to the most polite of tongues, were not so courteous as might
be. Each man stood with his back to a rock--not touching it, however,
because it was too wet--one was as cold and as firm as the rock,
the other like the sea, tumultuous. The passionate man was Captain
Desportes, and the cold one Caryl Carne.

"Then you wish me to conclude, monsieur," Carne spoke as one offering
repentance, "that you will not do your duty to your country, in the
subject set before you? I pray you to deliberate, because your position
hangs upon it."

"Never! Never! Once more, Captain, with all thanks for your
consideration, I refuse. My duty to my own honour has first place. After
that my duty to my country. Speak of it no more, sir; it quite is to
insult me."

"No, Captain Desportes, it is nothing of that kind, or I should not
be here to propose it. Your parole is given only as long as your ship
continues upon the sand. The moment she floats, you are liberated.
Then is the time for a noble stroke of fortune. Is it not so, my dear
friend?"

"No, sir. This affair is impossible. My honour has been pledged, not
until the ship is floating, but until I am myself set free in France. I
am sorry not to see things as you see them for me; but the question is
for my own consideration."

Captain Desportes had resented, as an honest man must do, especially
when more advanced in years, the other's calm settlement, without
invitation, of matters which concerned his own conscience. And as most
mankind--if at all perceptive--like or dislike one another at a glance,
Desportes, being very quick and warm of nature, had felt at first sight
a strong repulsion from the cold and arrogant man who faced him. His age
was at least twice that of Carne, he had seen much service in the better
days of France, and had risen slowly by his own skill and valour; he
knew that his future in the service depended upon his decision in
this matter, and he had a large family to maintain. But his honour was
pledged, and he held fast by it.

"There is one consideration," Carne replied, with rancour slowly
kindling in his great black eyes, "which precedes all others, even
that of honour, in the mind of a trusted officer. It is not that of
patriotism--which has not its usual weight with monsieur--but it is that
of obedience, discipline, loyalty, faith, towards those who have placed
faith in him. Captain Desportes, as commander of a ship, is entrusted
with property; and that confidence is the first debt upon his honour."

To Desportes, as to most men of action, the right was plainer than the
reason. He knew that this final plea was unsound, but he did not see how
to contest it. So he came back to fact, which was easier for him.

"How am I to know, monsieur, what would be the wishes of those who have
entrusted me with my position? You are placed in authority by some means
here, in your own country, but against it. That much you have proved to
me, by papers. But your credentials are general only. They do not apply
to this especial case. If the Chief of the State knew my position, he
would wish me to act as I mean to act, for the honour and credit of our
nation."

"Are you then acquainted with his signature? If so, perhaps you will
verify this, even if you are resolved to reject it."

Carne drew a letter from an inner pocket, and carefully unfolded it.
There were many words and minute directions upon various subjects,
written by the hand of the most minute, and yet most comprehensive, of
mankind.

"There is nothing in this that concerns you," he said, after showing
the date, only four days old, "except these few words at the end,
which perhaps you may like to read, before you make final decision. The
signature of the Chief is clear."

Captain Desportes read aloud--"It is of the utmost importance to me,
that the Blonde should not be captured by the enemy, as the Ville
d'Anvers has been. You tell me that it is ashore near you, and the
Captain and crew upon parole, to be liberated if they assist in the
extrication of the vessel. This must not be. In the service of the
State, I demand that they consider not at all their parole. The
well-known speed and light draught of that vessel have rendered her
almost indispensable to me. When the vessel is free, they must rise upon
the enemy, and make for the nearest of our ports without delay. Upon
this I insist, and place confidence in your established courage and
management, to accomplish it to my satisfaction."

"Your orders are clear enough," said Caryl Carne. "What reason can you
give, as an officer of the Republic, for disobeying them?"

Desportes looked at his ship in the distance, and then at the sea and
the sky, with a groan, as if he were bidding farewell to them. Carne
felt sure that he had prevailed, and a smile shed light, but not a soft
light, on his hard pale countenance.

"Be in no rash haste," said the French sea-captain, and he could not
have found words more annoying to the cold proud man before him; "I do
not recognise in this mandate the voice of my country, of the honourable
France, which would never say, 'Let my sons break their word of honour!'
This man speaks, not as Chief of a grand State, not as leader of noble
gentlemen, but as Emperor of a society of serfs. France is no empire;
she is a grand nation of spirit, of valour, above all, of honour. The
English have treated me, as I would treat them, with kindness, with
largeness, with confidence. In the name of fair France, I will not do
this thing."

Carne was naturally pale, but now he grew white with rage, and his black
eyes flashed.

"France will be an empire within six months; and your honour will be put
upon prison diet, while your family starve for the sake of it."

"If I ever meet you under other circumstances," replied the brave
Frenchman, now equally pale, "I shall demand reparation, sir."

"With great pleasure," replied Carne, contemptuously; "meanwhile
monsieur will have enough to do to repair his broken fortunes."

Captain Desportes turned his back, and gave a whistle for his crew,
then stepped with much dignity into his boat. "To the Blonde, lads,"
he cried, "to the unsullied Blonde!" Then he sate, looking at her, and
stroked his grizzled beard, into which there came trickling a bitter
tear or two, as he thought of his wife and family. He had acted well;
but, according to the measure of the present world, unwisely.



CHAPTER XXV

NO CONCERN OF OURS


The very next morning it was known to the faithful of Springhaven
that the glory of the place would be trebled that day, and its income
increased desirably. That day, the fair stranger (which had so long
awakened the admiration of the women, and the jealousy of the men) would
by the consummate skill of Captain Zeb--who had triumphed over all the
officers of the British Navy--float forth magnificently from her narrow
bed, hoist her white sails, and under British ensign salute the new
fort, and shape a course for Portsmouth. That she had stuck fast and in
danger so long was simply because the cocked hats were too proud to give
ear to the wisdom in an old otter-skin. Now Admiral Darling was baffled
and gone; and Captain Tugwell would show the world what he could do, and
what stuff his men were made of, if they only had their way. From old
Daddy Stakes, the bald father of the village, to Mrs. Caper junior's
baby--equally bald, but with a crop as sure of coming as mustard and
cress beneath his flannel--some in arms, some on legs, some upon brave
crutches, all were abroad in the soft air from the west, which had
stolen up under the stiff steel skirt of the east wind, exactly as wise
Captain Zeb predicted.

"My dear," said Mrs. Twemlow to the solid Mrs. Stubbard, for a very
sweet friendship had sprung up between these ladies, and would last
until their interests should happen to diverge, "this will be a great
day for my dear husband's parish. Perhaps there is no other parish
in the kingdom capable of acting as Springhaven has, so obedient, so
disciplined, so faithful to their contract! I am told that they even
pulled the vessel more aground, in preference to setting up their own
opinions. I am told that as soon as the Admiral was gone--for between
you and me he is a little overbearing, with the very best intentions in
the world, but too confident in his own sagacity--then that clever but
exceedingly modest young man, Lieutenant Scudamore, was allowed at last
to listen to our great man Tugwell, who has long been the oracle of the
neighbourhood about the sea, and the weather, and all questions of that
kind. And between you and me, my dear, the poor old Admiral seems a
little bit jealous of his reputation. And what do you think he said
before he went, which shows his high opinion of his own abilities?
Tugwell said something in his rough and ready way, which, I suppose, put
his mightiness upon the high ropes, for he shouted out in everybody's
hearing, 'I'll tell you what it is, my man, if you can get her off, by
any of your'--something I must not repeat--'devices, I'll give you fifty
guineas, five-and-twenty for yourself, and the rest to be divided among
these other fellows.' Then Zebedee pulled out a Testament from his
pocket, for he is a man of deep religious convictions, and can read
almost all the easy places, though he thinks most of the hard ones, and
he made his son Dan (who is a great scholar, as they say, and a very
fine-looking youth as well) put down at the end what the Admiral had
said. Now, what do you think of that, dear Mrs. Stubbard?"

"I think," replied that strong-minded lady, "that Tugwell is an arrant
old fox; and if he gets the fifty guineas, he will put every farthing
into his own pocket."

"Oh, no! He is honest as the day itself. He will take his own
twenty-five, and then leave the rest to settle whether he should share
in their twenty-five. But we must be quick, or we shall lose the sight.
Quite a number of people are come from inland. How wonderfully quickly
these things spread! They came the first day, and then made up their
minds that nothing could be done, and so they stopped at home. But now,
here they are again, as if by magic! If the ship gets off, it will be
known halfway to London before nightfall. But I see Captain Stubbard
going up the hill to your charming battery. That shows implicit faith in
Tugwell, to return the salute of the fair captive! It is indeed a proud
day for Springhaven!"

"But it isn't done yet. And perhaps it won't be done. I would rather
trust officers of the navy than people who catch crabs and oysters. I
would go up to the battery, to laugh at my husband, but for the tricks
the children play me. My authority is gone, at the very first puff of
smoke. How children do delight in that vile gunpowder!"

"So they ought, in the present state of our country, with five hundred
thousand of Frenchmen coming. My dear Mrs. Stubbard, how thankful we
should be to have children who love gunpowder!"

"But not when they blow up their mother, ma'am."

"Oh, here comes Eliza!" cried Mrs. Twemlow. "I am so glad, because she
knows everything. I thought we had missed her. My dear child, where are
Faith and Dolly Darling gone? There are so many strangers about to-day
that the better class should keep together."

"Here are three of us at any rate," replied the young lady, who
considered her mother old-fashioned: "enough to secure one another's
sanctity from the lower orders. Faith has gone on to the headland, with
that heroic mannikin, Johnny. Dolly was to follow, with that Shanks maid
to protect her, as soon as her hat was trimmed, or some such era. But
I'll answer for it that she loses herself in the crowd, or some fib of
that sort."

"Eliza!" said her mother, and very severely, because Mrs. Stubbard was
present, "I am quite astonished at your talking so. You might do the
greatest injury to a very lively and harmless, but not over-prudent
girl, if any one heard you who would repeat it. We all know that the
Admiral is so wrapped up in Dolly that he lets her do many things which
a mother would forbid. But that is no concern of ours; and once for all,
if such things must be said, I beg that they may not be said by you."

In the present age, Mrs. Twemlow would have got sharp answer. But her
daughter only looked aggrieved, and glanced at Mrs. Stubbard, as if to
say, "Well, time will show whether I deserve it." And then they hastened
on, among the worse class, to the headland.

Not only all the fishing-smacks, and Captain Stubbard's galley, but
every boat half as sound as a hat, might now be seen near the grounded
vessel, preparing to labour or look on. And though the White Pig was
allowed to be three-quarters of a mile from the nearest point, the
mighty voice of Captain Zeb rode over the flickering breadth of sea,
and through the soft babble of the waves ashore. The wind was light
from southwest, and the warp being nearly in the same direction now, the
Blonde began to set her courses, to catch a lift of air, when the tide
should come busily working under her. And this would be the best tide
since she took the ground, last Sunday week, when the springs were going
off. As soon as the hawsers were made fast, and the shouts of Zebedee
redoubled with great strength (both of sound and of language), and the
long ropes lifted with a flash of splashes, and a creak of heavy wood,
and the cry was, "With a will! with a will, my gay lads!" every body
having a sound eye in it was gazing intently, and every heart was
fluttering, except the loveliest eyes and quickest heart in all
Springhaven.

Miss Dolly had made up her mind to go, and would have had warm words
ready for any one rash enough to try to prevent her. But a very short
note which was put into her hand about 10 A.M. distracted her.

"If you wish to do me a real service, according to your kind words of
Saturday, be in the upper shrubbery at half past eleven; but tell no one
except the bearer. You will see all that happens better there than on
the beach, and I will bring a telescope."

Dolly knew at once who had written this, and admired it all the more
because it was followed by no signature. For years she had longed for
a bit of romance; and the common-sense of all the world irked her. She
knew as well as possible that what she ought to do was to take this
letter to her sister Faith, and be guided by her advice about it. Faith
was her elder by three years or more, and as steadfast as a rock, yet as
tender as young moss. There was no fear that Faith would ride the high
horse with her, or lay down the law severely; she was much more likely
to be too indulgent, though certain not to play with wrong.

All this the younger sister knew, and therefore resolved to eschew
that knowledge. She liked her own way, and she meant to have it, in a
harmless sort of way; her own high spirit should be her guide, and she
was old enough now to be her own judge. Mr. Carne had saved her sister's
life, when she stood up in that senseless way; and if Faith had no
gratitude, Dolly must feel, and endeavour to express it for her.

Reasoning thus, and much better than this, she was very particular about
her hat, and French pelerine of fluted lawn, and frock of pale violet
trimmed on either side with gathered muslin. Her little heart fluttered
at being drawn in, when it should have been plumped up to her neck, and
very nearly displayed to the public; but her father was stern upon some
points, and never would hear of the classic discoveries. She had not
even Grecian sandals, nor a "surprise fan" to flutter from her wrist,
nor hair oiled into flat Lesbian coils, but freedom of rich young
tresses, and of graceful figure, and taper limbs. There was no one who
could say her nay, of the lovers of maiden nature.

However, maidens must be discreet, even when most adventurous; and
so she took another maid to help her, of respected but not romantic
name--Jenny Shanks, who had brought her that letter. Jenny was much
prettier than her name, and the ground she trod on was worshipped by
many, even when her shoes were down at heel. Especially in this track
remained the finer part of Charley Bowles's heart (while the coarser
was up against the Frenchmen), as well as a good deal of Mr. Prater's
nephew's, and of several other sole-fishers. This enabled Jenny to enter
kindly into tender questions. And she fetched her Sunday bonnet down the
trap-ladder where she kept it--because the other maids were so nasty--as
soon as her letter was delivered.

"Your place, Jenny, is to go behind," Miss Dolly said, with no small
dignity, as this zealous attendant kept step for step with her, and
swung her red arm against the lady's fair one. "I am come upon important
business, Jenny, such as you cannot understand, but may stay at a proper
distance."

"Lor, miss, I am sure I begs your pardon. I thought it was a kind of
coorting-match, and you might be glad of my experience."

"Such things I never do, and have no idea what you mean. I shall be much
obliged to you, Jenny, if you will hold your tongue."

"Oh yes, miss; no fear of my telling anybody. Wild horses would never
pull a syllable out of me. The young men is so aggravating that I keep
my proper distance from them. But the mind must be made up, at one time
or other."

Dolly looked down at her with vast contempt, which she would not lower
herself by expressing, even with favour of time and place. Then turning
a corner of the grassy walk, between ground-ash and young larches, they
came upon an opening planted round with ilex, arbutus, juniper, and
laurel, and backed by one of the rocks which form the outworks of the
valley. From a niche in this rock, like the port-hole of a ship, a rill
of sparkling water poured, and beginning to make a noise already, cut
corner's--of its own production--short, in its hurry to be a brook, and
then to help the sea. And across its exit from the rock (like a measure
of its insignificance) a very comfortable seat was fixed, so that any
gentleman--or even a lady with divided skirts--might freely sit with one
foot on either bank of this menacing but not yet very formidable stream.
So that on the whole this nook of shelter under the coronet of rock was
a favourite place for a sage cock-pheasant, or even a woodcock in wintry
weather.

Upon that bench (where the Admiral loved to sit, in the afternoon of
peace and leisure, observing with a spy-glass the manoeuvres of his
tranquil fishing fleet) Caryl Carne was sitting now, with his long and
strong legs well spread out, his shoulders comfortably settled back, and
his head cast a little on one side, as if he were trying to compute his
property. Then, as Dolly came into the opening, he arose, made a bow
beyond the compass of any true Briton, and swinging his hat, came to
meet her. Dolly made a curtsey in the style impressed upon her by her
last governess but one--a French lady of exceedingly high ancestry and
manners--and Carne recognised it as a fine thing out of date.

"Jenny, get away!" said Dolly--words not meant for him to hear, but he
had grave command of countenance.

"This lays me under one more obligation:" Carne spoke in a low voice,
and with a smile of diffidence which reminded her of Scudamore, though
the two smiles were as different as night and day. "I have taken a great
liberty in asking you to come, and that multiplies my gratitude for
your good-will. For my own sake alone I would not have dared to sue this
great favour from you, though I put it so, in terror of alarming you.
But it is for my own sake also, since anything evil to you would be
terrible to me."

"No one can wish to hurt me," she answered, looking up at him bravely,
and yet frightened by his gaze, "because I have never harmed any one.
And I assure you, sir, that I have many to defend me, even when my
father is gone from home."

"It is beyond doubt. Who would not rush to do so? But it is from those
who are least suspected that the danger comes the worst. The most modest
of all gentlemen, who blushes like a damsel, or the gallant officer
devoted to his wife and children, or the simple veteran with his stars,
and scars, and downright speech--these are the people that do the wrong,
because no one believes it is in them."

"Then which of the three is to carry me off from home, and friends, and
family--Lieutenant Scudamore, Captain Stubbard, or my own godfather,
Lord Nelson?"

This young man nourished a large contempt for the intellect of women,
and was therefore surprised at the quickness and spirit of the girl whom
he wished to terrify. A sterner tone must be used with her.

"I never deal in jokes," he said, with a smile of sad sympathy for
those who do; "my life is one perpetual peril, and that restrains
facetiousness. But I can make allowance for those who like it."

Miss Dolly, the pet child of the house, and all the people
round it--except the gardener, Mr. Swipes, who found her too
inquisitive--quick as she was, could not realise at once the possibility
of being looked down upon.

"I am sorry that you have to be so grave," she said, "because it
prevents all enjoyment. But why should you be in such continual danger?
You promised to explain it, on Saturday, only you had no time then.
We are all in danger from the French, of course, if they ever should
succeed in landing. But you mean something more than that; and it seems
so hard, after all your losses, that you should not be safe from harm."

With all her many faults--many more than she dreamed of--fair Dolly had
a warm and gentle heart, which filled her eyes with tender loveliness,
whenever it obtained command of them. Carne, who was watching them
steadfastly for his own purpose, forgot that purpose, and dropped his
dark eyes, and lost the way to tell a lie.

"If I may ask you," he said, almost stammering, and longing without
knowledge for the blessing of her touch, "to--to allow me just to lead
you to this seat, I may perhaps be able--I will not take the liberty of
sitting at your side--but I may perhaps be able to explain as much of my
affairs as you can wish to hear of them, and a great deal more, I fear,
a great deal more, Miss Darling."

Dolly blushed at the rich tone in which he pronounced her name, almost
as if it were an adjective; but she allowed him to take her hand,
and lead her to the bench beneath the rock. Then, regardless of his
breeches, although of fine padusoy, and his coat, though of purple
velvet, he sate down on the bank of the rill at her feet, and waited for
her to say something. The young lady loved mainly to take the lead, but
would liefer have followed suit just now.

"You have promised to tell me," she said, very softly, and with an
unusual timidity, which added to her face and manner almost the only
charm they lacked, "some things which I do not understand, and which I
have no right to ask you of, except for your own offer. Why should you,
without injuring any one, but only having suffered loss of all your
family property, and of all your rights and comforts, and living in
that lonely place which used to be full of company--why should you be
in danger now, when you have nothing more to be robbed of? I beg your
pardon--I mean when all your enemies must have done their worst."

"You are too young yet to understand the world," he answered, with a
well-drawn sigh; "and I hope most truly that you may never do so. In
your gentle presence I cannot speak with bitterness, even if I could
feel it. I will not speak harshly of any one, however I may have been
treated. But you will understand that my life alone remains betwixt the
plunderers and their prey, and that my errand here prevents them from
legally swallowing up the spoil."

Miss Dolly's idea of the law, in common with that of most young ladies,
suggested a horrible monster ravening to devour the fallen. And the fall
of the Carnes had long been a subject of romantic interest to her.

"Oh, I see!" she exclaimed, with a look of deep wisdom. "I can quite
understand a thing like that, from what I have heard about witnesses. I
hope you will be very careful. My sister owes so much to you, and so do
I."

"You must never speak of that again, unless you wish to grieve me. I
know that I have said too much about myself; but you alone care to know
anything about me; and that beguiles one out--out of one's wits. If I
speak bad English, you will forgive me. I have passed so many years
on the Continent, and am picking up the language of my childhood
very slowly. You will pardon me, when I am misled by--by my own
signification."

"Well done!" cried the innocent Dolly. "Now that is the very first piece
of bad English you have used, to the best of my belief, and I am rather
quick in that. But you have not yet explained to me my own danger,
though you asked me to come here for that purpose, I believe."

"But you shall not be so; you shall not be in danger. My life shall be
given for your defence. What imports my peril compared with yours? I am
not of cold blood. I will sacrifice all. Have faith in me purely, and
all shall be done."

"All what?" Dolly asked, with a turn of common-sense, which is the most
provoking of all things sometimes; and she looked at him steadily, to
follow up her question.

"You cannot be persuaded that you are in any danger. It is possible that
I have been too anxious. Do you speak the French language easily? Do you
comprehend it, when spoken quickly?"

"Not a word of it. I have had to learn, of course, and can pronounce
very well, my last mistress said; but I cannot make it out at all in the
way the French people pronounce it, when one comes to talk with them."

"It is very wrong of them, and the loss is theirs. They expect us to
copy them even in their language, because we do it in everything else.
Pardon me--one moment. May I look at the great enterprise which is to
glorify Springhaven? It is more than kind of you to be here instead of
there. But this, as I ventured to say, is a far better place to observe
the operation. Your words reminded me of Captain Desportes, who has
been, I think, your father's guest. A very gallant sailor, and famed for
the most unexpected exploits. Without doubt, he would have captured all
three ships, if he had not contrived to run his own aground."

"How could he capture his own ship? I thought that you never dealt in
jokes. But if you dislike them, you seem to be fond of a little mystery.
I like the French captain very much, and he took the trouble to speak
slowly for me. My father says that he bears his misfortune nobly, and
like a perfect gentleman. Mr. Scudamore admires him, and they are great
friends. And yet, sir, you seem inclined to hint that I am in danger
from Captain Desportes!"

"Ha! she is afloat! They have succeeded. I thought that they had so
arranged it. The brave ship spreads her pinions. How clever the people
of Springhaven are! If you will condescend to look through this glass,
you will see much embracing of the Saxon and the Gaul, or rather, I
should say, of the Saxon by the Gaul. Old Tugwell is not fond to be
embraced."

"Oh, let me see that! I must see that!" cried Dolly, with all reserve
and caution flown; "to see Capp'en Zeb in the arms of a Frenchman--yes,
I declare, two have got him, if not three, and he puts his great back
against the mast to disentangle it. Oh, what will he do next? He has
knocked down two, in reply to excessive cordiality. What wonderful
creatures Frenchmen are! How kind it is of you to show me this! But
excuse me, Mr. Carne; there will be twenty people coming to the house
before I can get back almost. And the ship will salute the battery,
and the battery will return it. Look! there goes a great puff of smoke
already. They can see me up here, when they get to that corner."

"But this spot is not private? I trust that I have not intruded.
Your father allows a sort of foot-path through this upper end of his
grounds?"

"Yes, to all the villagers, and you are almost one of them; there is
no right of way at all; and they very seldom come this way, because it
leads to nowhere. Faith is fond of sitting here, to watch the sea, and
think of things. And so am I--sometimes, I mean."



CHAPTER XXVI

LONG-PIPE TIMES


Daily now the roar and clank of war grew loud and louder, across the
narrow seas, and up the rivers, and around the quiet homes of England.
If any unusual cloud of dust, any moving shade, appeared afar, if the
tramp of horses in the lane were heard, or neigh of a colt from the
four-cross roads, people at dinner would start up and cry, "The French,
the French have landed!" while the men in the fields would get nearer
the hedge to peep through it, and then run away down the ditch.

But the nation at large, and the governing powers, certainly were not
in any great fright. Nay, rather they erred, if at all, on the side
of tranquillity and self-confidence; as one who has been fired at with
blank-cartridge forgets that the click of the trigger will not tell him
when the bullet has been dropped in. The bullet was there this time; and
it missed the heart of Britannia, only through the failure of the powder
to explode all at once.

It was some years before all this was known; even Nelson had no
perception of it; and although much alarm was indulged in on the sly,
the few who gave voice to it were condemned as faint-hearted fellows
and "alarmists." How then could Springhaven, which never had feared
any enemies, or even neighbours, depart from its habits, while still
an eye-witness of what had befallen the Frenchman? And in this state of
mind, having plenty to talk of, it did not (as otherwise must have been
done) attach any deep importance to the strange vagaries of the London
Trader.

That great Institution, and Royal Exchange, as well as central embassy
of Fashion, had lately become most uncertain in its dates, which for
years had announced to loose-reckoning housewives the day of the week
and the hour to buy candles. Instead of coming home on a Saturday eve,
in the van of all the fishing fleet, returning their cheers and those of
customers on the beach, the London Trader arrived anywhen, as often in
the dark as daylight, never took the ground at all, and gave a very wide
berth to Captain Zeb Tugwell, his craft, and his crews. At times she
landed packages big and bulky, which would have been searched (in spite
of London bills of lading) if there had been any Custom-house here,
or any keen Officer of Customs. But these were delivered by daylight
always, and carted by Mr. Cheeseman's horse direct to his master's
cellars; and Cheeseman had told everybody that his wife, having come
into a little legacy, was resolved in spite of his advice to try a bit
of speculation in hardware, through her sister miles away at Uckfield.
Most of the neighbours liked Mrs. Cheeseman, because she gave good
weight (scarcely half an ounce short, with her conscience to her family
thrown in against it), as well as the soundest piece of gossip to be had
for the money in Springhaven. And therefore they wished her well, and
boxed their children's ears if they found them poking nose into her
packages. Mrs. Cheeseman shook her head when enquired of on the subject,
and said with grave truth that the Lord alone can tell how any of poor
people's doings may turn out.

Some other things puzzled the village, and would in more sensible times
have produced a sensation. Why did Mr. Cheeseman now think nothing of as
much as three spots on his white linen apron, even in the first half of
the week? Why was he seldom at John Prater's now, and silent in a corner
even when he did appear? What was become of the ruddy polish, like that
of a Winter Redstrake, on his cheeks, which made a man long for a slice
of his ham? Why, the only joke he had made for the last three months was
a terrible one at his own expense. He had rushed down the street about
ten o'clock one morning, at a pace quite insane for a middle-aged man,
with no hat on his head and no coat on his back, but the strings of
his apron dashed wild on the breeze, and his biggest ham-carver making
flashes in his hand. It was thought that some boy must have run off with
a penny, or some visitor changed a bad shilling; but no, there was no
such good reason to give for it.

The yearning of all ages, especially dotage, is for a relapse to the
infantile state when all playthings were held in common. And this wisest
of all places (in its own opinion) had a certain eccentric inclination
towards the poetic perfection when it will be impossible to steal,
because there will be nothing left worth stealing. Still everybody
here stuck to his own rights, and would knock down anybody across them,
though finding it very nice to talk as if others could have no such
standing-point. Moreover, they had sufficient common-sense to begin with
the right end foremost, and to take a tender interest in one another's
goods, moveable, handy, and divisible; instead of hungering after hungry
land, which feeds nobody, until itself well fed and tended, and is as
useless without a master as a donkey or a man is. The knowledge of these
rudiments of civilization was not yet lost at Springhaven; and while
everybody felt and even proved his desire to share a neighbour's
trouble, nobody meddled with any right of his, save his right to be
assisted.

Among them throve the old English feeling of respect for ancient
families, which is nowadays called "toadyism" by those whom it baulks
of robbery. To trade upon this good-will is almost as low a thing as any
man can do, even when he does it for good uses. But to trade upon it,
for the harm of those who feel it, and the ruin of his country, is
without exception the very lowest--and this was what Caryl Carne was at.

He looked at the matter in a wholly different light, and would have
stabbed any man who put it as above; for his sense of honour was as
quick and hot as it was crooked and misguided. His father had been
a true Carne, of the old stamp--hot-blooded, headstrong, stubborn,
wayward, narrow-minded, and often arrogant; but--to balance these faults
and many others--truthful, generous, kind-hearted, affectionate, staunch
to his friends, to his inferiors genial, loyal to his country, and
respectful to religion. And he might have done well, but for two sad
evils--he took a burdened property, and he plunged into a bad marriage.

His wife, on the other hand, might have done well, if she had married
almost anybody else. But her nature was too like his own, with feminine
vanity and caprice, French conceit, and the pride of noble birth--in the
proudest age of nobility--hardening all her faults, and hammering the
rivets of her strong self-will. To these little difficulties must be
added the difference of religion; and though neither of them cared two
pins for that, it was a matter for crossed daggers. A pound of feathers
weighs as much as (and in some poise more than) a pound of lead, and
the leaden-headed Squire and the feather-headed Madame swung always at
opposite ends of the beam, until it broke between them. Tales of rough
conflict, imprisonment, starvation, and even vile blows, were told about
them for several years; and then "Madame la Comtesse" (as her husband
disdainfully called her) disappeared, carrying off her one child, Caryl.
She was still of very comely face and form; and the Squire made known to
all whom it concerned, and many whom it did not concern, that his French
wife had run away with a young Frenchman, according to the habit of
her race and kind. In support of this charge he had nothing whatever to
show, and his friends disbelieved it, knowing him to be the last man in
the world to leave such a wrong unresented.

During the last three generations the fortunes of the Carnes had been
declining, slowly at first, and then faster and faster; and now they
fell with the final crash. The lady of high birth and great beauty had
brought nothing else into the family, but rather had impoverished it by
her settlement, and wild extravagance afterwards. Her husband Montagu
Carne staved off the evil day just for the present, by raising a large
sum upon second mortgage and the security of a trustful friend. But this
sum was dissipated, like the rest; for the Squire, being deeply wounded
by his wife's desertion, proved to the world his indifference about it
by plunging into still more reckless ways. He had none to succeed him;
for he vowed that the son of the adulteress--as he called her--should
never have Carne Castle; and his last mad act was to buy five-and-twenty
barrels of powder, wherewith to blow up his ancestral home. But ere he
could accomplish that stroke of business he stumbled and fell down the
old chapel steps, and was found the next morning by faithful Jeremiah,
as cold as the ivy which had caught his feet, and as dead as the stones
he would have sent to heaven.

No marvel that his son had no love for his memory, and little for the
land that gave him birth. In very early days this boy had shown that
his French blood was predominant. He would bite, and kick, and scratch,
instead of striking, as an English child does, and he never cared for
dogs or horses, neither worshipped he the gamekeeper. France was the
proper land for him, as his mother always said with a sweet proud smile,
and his father with a sneer, or a brief word now condemned. And France
was the land for him (as facts ordained) to be nourished, and taught,
and grown into tall manhood, and formed into the principles and habitude
and character which every nation stamps upon the nature of its members.

However, our strong point--like that of all others--is absolute freedom
from prejudice; and the few English people who met Caryl Carne were
well pleased with his difference from themselves. Even the enlightened
fishermen, imbued with a due contempt for Crappos, felt a kindly will
towards him, and were touched by his return to a ruined home and a
lonely life. But the women, romantic as they ought to be, felt a tender
interest in a young man so handsome and so unlucky, who lifted his hat
to them, and paid his way.

Among the rising spirits of the place, who liked to take a larger
view, on the strength of more education, than their fathers had found
confirmed by life, Dan Tugwell was perhaps the foremost. In the present
days he might have been a hot radical, even a socialist; but things were
not come to that pass yet among people brought up to their duty. And
Dan's free sentiments had not been worked by those who make a trade of
such work now. So that he was pleased and respectful, instead of carping
and contradictory, when persons of higher position than his own would
discuss the condition of the times with him. Carne had discovered this,
although as a rule he said little to his neighbours, and for reasons of
his own he was striving to get a good hold upon this young fellow.
He knew that it could not be done in a moment, nor by any common
corruption; the mind of the youth being keen, clear-sighted, and
simple--by reason of soundness. Then Carne accidentally heard of
something, which encouraged and helped him in his design upon Dan.

Business was slack upon the sea just now, but unusually active upon
land, a tide of gold having flowed into Springhaven, and bubbled up in
frying-pans and sparkled in new bonnets. The fishing fleet had captured
the finest French frigate--according to feminine history--that ever
endeavoured to capture them. After such a prisoner, let the fish go
free, till hunger should spring again in the human breast, or the part
that stands up under it. The hero of the whole (unlike most heroes) had
not succeeded in ruining himself by his services to his country, but was
able to go about patting his pocket, with an echo in his heart, every
time it tinkled, that a quantity more to come into it was lying
locked up in a drawer at home. These are the things that breed present
happiness in a noble human nature, all else being either of the future
or the past; and this is the reason why gold outweighs everything that
can be said against it.

Captain Tugwell, in his pithy style, was wont to divide all human life
into two distinctive tenses--the long-pipe time and the short-pipe time.
The long-pipe time was of ease and leisure, comfort in the way of hot
victuals and cool pots, the stretching of legs without strain of muscle,
and that ever-fresh well-spring of delight to the hard worker, the
censorial but not censorious contemplation of equally fine fellows,
equally lazy, yet pegging hard, because of nothing in their pockets to
tap. Such were the golden periods of standing, or, still better, sitting
with his back against a tree, and a cool yard of clay between his gently
smiling lips, shaving with his girdle-knife a cake of rich tobacco, and
then milling it complacently betwixt his horny palms, with his resolute
eyes relaxing into a gentle gaze at the labouring sea, and the part
(where his supper soon would be) warming into a fine condition for it,
by good-will towards all the world. As for the short-pipe times, with
a bitter gale dashing the cold spray into his eyes, legs drenched with
sleet, and shivering to the fork, and shoulders racked with rheumatism
against the groaning mast, and the stump of a pipe keeping chatter with
his teeth--away with all thought of such hardship now, except what would
serve to fatten present comfort.

But fatherly feeling and sense of right compelled Captain Zeb to check
idle enjoyment from going too far--i. e., further than himself. Every
other member of his family but himself, however good the times might
be, must work away as hard as ever, and earn whatever victuals it should
please the Lord to send them. There was always a job to be found, he
knew that, if a young man or maid had a mind for it; and "no silver no
supper" was the order of his house. His eldest son Dan was the first to
be driven--for a good example to the younger ones--and now he was set to
work full time and overtime, upon a heavy job at Pebbleridge.

Young Daniel was not at all afraid of work, whenever there was any kind
of skill to be shown, or bodily strength to be proved by it. But the
present task was hateful to him; for any big-armed yokel, or common
wood-hewer, might have done as much as he could do, and perhaps more,
at it, and could have taken the same wage over it. Mr. Coggs, of
Pebbleridge, the only wheelwright within ten miles of Springhaven, had
taken a Government contract to supply within a certain time five hundred
spoke-wheels for ammunition tumbrils, and as many block-wheels for small
artillery; and to hack out these latter for better men to finish was the
daily task of Dan Tugwell.

This job swelled his muscles and enlarged his calves, and fetched away
all the fat he had been enabled to form in loftier walks of art; but
these outward improvements were made at the expense of his inner and
nobler qualities. To hack and hew timber by the cubic foot, without any
growing pleasure of proportion or design, to knit the brows hard for a
struggle with knots, and smile the stern smile of destruction; and
then, after a long and rough walk in the dark--for the equinox now was
impending--to be joked at by his father (who had lounged about all
day), and have all his money told into the paternal pocket, with narrow
enquiries, each Saturday night. But worst of all to know that because he
was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he had no heart--no heart
that he could offer where he laid it; but there it must lie, and
be trodden on in silence, while rakish-looking popinjays--But this
reflection stopped him, for it was too bitter to be thought out, and
fetched down his quivering hand upon his axe. Enough that these things
did not tend to a healthy condition of mind, or the proper worship of
the British Constitution. However, he was not quite a Radical yet.



CHAPTER XXVII

FAIR IN THEORY


One Saturday evening, when the dusk was just beginning to smoothe the
break of billow and to blunt the edge of rock, young Dan Tugwell swung
his axe upon his shoulder, with the flag basket hanging from it in which
his food had been, and in a rather crusty state of mind set forth upon
his long walk home to Springhaven. As Harry Shanks had said, and
almost everybody knew, an ancient foot-path, little used, but never yet
obstructed, cut off a large bend of the shore, and saved half a mile
of plodding over rock and shingle. This path was very lonesome, and
infested with dark places, as well as waylaid with a very piteous ghost,
who never would keep to the spot where he was murdered, but might appear
at any shady stretch or woody corner. Dan Tugwell knew three courageous
men who had seen this ghost, and would take good care to avoid any
further interview, and his own faith in ghosts was as stanch as in gold;
yet such was his mood this evening that he determined to go that way
and chance it, not for the saving of distance, but simply because he
had been told in the yard that day that the foot-path was stopped by the
landowner. "We'll see about that," said Dan; and now he was going to see
about it.

For the first field or two there was no impediment, except the usual
stile or gate; but when he had crossed a little woodland hollow, where
the fence of the castle grounds ran down to the brow of the cliff, he
found entrance barred. Three stout oak rails had been nailed across
from tree to tree, and on a board above them was roughly painted: "No
thoroughfare. Tresspassers will be prosecuted." For a moment the young
man hesitated, his dread of the law being virtuously deep, and his
mind well assured that his father would not back him up against settled
authorities. But the shame of turning back, and the quick sense of
wrong, which had long been demanding some outlet, conquered his calmer
judgment, and he cast the basket from his back. Then swinging his
favourite axe, he rushed at the oaken bars, and with a few strokes sent
them rolling down the steep bank-side.

"That for your stoppage of a right of way!" he cried; "and now perhaps
you'll want to know who done it."

To gratify this natural curiosity he drew a piece of chalk from his
pocket, and wrote on the notice-board in large round hand, "Daniel
Tugwell, son of Zebedee Tugwell, of Springhaven." But suddenly his smile
of satisfaction fled, and his face turned as white as the chalk in his
hand. At the next turn of the path, a few yards before him, in the gray
gloom cast by an ivy-mantled tree, stood a tall dark figure, with the
right arm raised. The face was indistinct, but (as Dan's conscience
told him) hostile and unforgiving; there was nothing to reflect a ray
of light, and there seemed to be a rustle of some departure, like the
spirit fleeing.

The ghost! What could it be but the ghost? Ghosts ought to be white; but
terror scorns all prejudice. Probably this murdered one was buried in
his breeches. Dan's heart beat quicker than his axe had struck; and his
feet were off to beat the ground still quicker. But no Springhaven lad
ever left his baggage. Dan leaped aside first to catch up his basket,
and while he stooped for it, he heard a clear strong voice.

"Who are you, that have dared to come and cut my fence down?"

No ghost could speak like that, even if he could put a fence up. The
inborn courage of the youth revived, and the shame of his fright made
him hardier. He stepped forward again, catching breath as he spoke, and
eager to meet any man in the flesh.

"I am Daniel Tugwell, of Springhaven. And no living man shall deny me of
my rights. I have a right to pass here, and I mean to do it."

Caryl Carne, looking stately in his suit of black velvet, drew sword and
stood behind the shattered barrier. "Are you ready to run against this?"
he asked. "Poor peasant, go back; what are your rights worth?"

"I could smash that skewer at a blow," said Daniel, flourishing his axe
as if to do it; "but my rights, as you say, are not worth the hazard.
What has a poor man to do with rights? Would you stop a man of your own
rank, Squire Carne?"

"Ah, that would be a different thing indeed! Justice wears a sword,
because she is of gentle birth. Work-people with axes must not prate
of rights, or a prison will be their next one. Your right is to be
disdained, young man, because you were not born a gentleman; and your
duty is to receive scorn with your hat off. You like it, probably,
because your father did. But come in, Daniel; I will not deny you of the
only right an English peasant has--the right of the foot to plod in
his father's footsteps. The right of the hand, and the tongue, and the
stomach--even the right of the eye is denied him; but by some freak of
law he has some little right of foot, doubtless to enable him to go and
serve his master."

Dan was amazed, and his better sense aroused. Why should this gentleman
step out of the rank of his birth, to talk in this way? Now and then Dan
himself had indulged in such ideas, but always with a doubt that they
were wicked, and not long enough to make them seem good in his eyes. He
knew that some fellows at "the Club" talked thus; but they were a lot of
idle strangers, who came there chiefly to corrupt the natives, and work
the fish trade out of their hands. These wholesome reflections made him
doubt about accepting Squire Carne's invitation; and it would have been
good for him if that doubt had prevailed, though he trudged a thousand
miles for it.

"What! Break down a fence, and then be afraid to enter! That is the
style of your race, friend Daniel. That is why you never get your
rights, even when you dare to talk of them. I thought you were made of
different stuff. Go home and boast that you shattered my fence, and
then feared to come through it, when I asked you." Carne smiled at his
antagonist, and waved his hand.

Dan leaped in a moment through the hanging splinters, and stood before
the other, with a frown upon his face. "Then mind one thing, sir," he
said, with a look of defiance, while touching his hat from force of
habit, "I pass here, not with your permission, but of right."

"Very well. Let us not split words," said Carne, who had now quite
recovered his native language. "I am glad to find a man that dares to
claim his rights, in the present state of England. I am going towards
Springhaven. Give me the pleasure of your company, and the benefit of
your opinion upon politics. I have heard the highest praise of your
abilities, my friend. Speak to me just as you would to one of your
brother fishermen. By the accident of birth I am placed differently from
you; and in this country that makes all the difference between a man
and a dog, in our value. Though you may be, and probably are, the better
man--more truthful, more courageous, more generous, more true-hearted,
and certain to be the more humble of the two. I have been brought up
where all men are equal, and the things I see here make a new world to
me. Very likely these are right, and all the rest of the world quite
wrong. Englishmen always are certain of that; and as I belong to the
privileged classes, my great desire is to believe it. Only I want to
know how the lower orders--the dregs, the scum, the dirt under our
feet, the slaves that do all the work and get starved for it--how these
trampled wretches regard the question. If they are happy, submissive,
contented, delighted to lick the boots of their betters, my conscience
will be clear to accept their homage, and their money for any stick
of mine they look at. But you have amazed me by a most outrageous act.
Because the lower orders have owned a path here for some centuries, you
think it wrong that they should lose their right. Explain to me, Daniel,
these extraordinary sentiments."

"If you please, sir," said Dan, who was following in the track, though
invited to walk by the side, of Caryl Carne, "I can hardly tell you how
the lower orders feel, because father and me don't belong to them. Our
family have always owned their own boat, and worked for their own hand,
this two hundred years, and, for all we know, ever since the Romans was
here. We call them the lower orders, as come round to pick up jobs, and
have no settlement in our village."

"A sound and very excellent distinction, Dan. But as against those who
make the laws, and take good care to enforce them, even you (though of
the upper rank here) must be counted of the lower order. For instance,
can you look at a pheasant, or a hare, without being put into prison?
Can you dine in the same room with Admiral Darling, or ask how his gout
is, without being stared at?"

"No, sir. He would think it a great impertinence, even if I dared to do
such a thing. But my father might do it, as a tenant and old neighbour.
Though he never gets the gout, when he rides about so much."

"What a matter-of-fact youth it is! But to come to things every man has
a right to. If you saved the life of one of the Admiral's daughters,
and she fell in love with you, as young people will, would you dare even
lift your eyes to her? Would you not be kicked out of the house and the
parish, if you dared to indulge the right of every honest heart?
Would you dare to look upon her as a human being, of the same order of
creation as yourself, who might one day be your wife, if you were true
and honest, and helped to break down the absurd distinctions built up by
vile tyranny between you? In a word, are you a man--as every man is on
the Continent--or only an English slave, of the lower classes?"

The hot flush of wrath, and the soft glow of shame, met and deepened
each other on the fair cheeks of this "slave"; while his mind would
not come to him to make a fit reply. That his passion for Dolly, his
hopeless passion, should thus be discovered by a man of her own rank,
but not scorned or ridiculed, only pitied, because of his want of manly
spirit; that he should be called a "slave" because of honest modesty,
and even encouraged in his wild hopes by a gentleman, who had seen all
the world, and looked down from a lofty distance on it; that in his
true estimate of things there should be nothing but prejudice, low and
selfish prejudice, between--Well, he could not think it out; that would
take him many hours; let this large-minded man begin again. It was so
dark now, that if he turned round on him, unless he was a cat, he would
be no wiser.

"You do well to take these things with some doubt," continued Carne, too
sagacious to set up argument, which inures even young men in their own
opinions; "if I were in your place, I should do the same. Centuries of
oppression have stamped out the plain light of truth in those who are
not allowed it. To me, as an individual, it is better so. Chance has
ordained that I should belong to the order of those who profit by it.
It is against my interest to speak as I have done. Am I likely to desire
that my fences should be broken, my property invaded, the distinction so
pleasing to me set aside, simply because I consider it a false one? No,
no, friend Daniel; it is not for me to move. The present state of things
is entirely in my favour. And I never give expression to my sense of
right and wrong, unless it is surprised from me by circumstances. Your
bold and entirely just proceedings have forced me to explain why I
feel no resentment, but rather admiration, at a thing which any other
land-owner in England would not rest in his bed until he had avenged. He
would drag you before a bench of magistrates and fine you. Your father,
if I know him, would refuse to pay the fine; and to prison you would
go, with the taint of it to lie upon your good name forever. The penalty
would be wrong, outrageous, ruinous; no rich man would submit to it, but
a poor man must. Is this the truth, Daniel, or is it what it ought to
be--a scandalous misdescription of the laws of England?"

"No, sir; it is true enough, and too true, I am afraid. I never thought
of consequences, when I used my axe. I only thought of what was right,
and fair, and honest, as between a man who has a right, and one who
takes it from him."

"That is the natural way to look at things, but never permitted in
this country. You are fortunate in having to deal with one who has been
brought up in a juster land, where all mankind are equal. But one thing
I insist upon; and remember it is the condition of my forbearance. Not
a single word to any one about your dashing exploit. No gentleman in the
county would ever speak to me again, if I were known to have put up with
it."

"I am sure, sir," said Daniel, in a truly contrite tone, "I never should
have done such an impudent thing against you, if I had only known what a
nice gentleman you are. I took you for nothing but a haughty land-owner,
without a word to fling at a poor fisherman. And now you go ever so far
beyond what the Club doth, in speaking of the right that every poor man
hasn't. I could listen to you by the hour, sir, and learn the difference
between us and abroad."

"Tugwell, I could tell you things that would make a real man of you. But
why should I? You are better as you are; and so are we who get all the
good out of you. And besides, I have no time for politics at present.
All my time is occupied with stern business--collecting the ruins of my
property."

"But, sir--but you come down here sometimes from the castle in the
evening; and if I might cross, without claiming right of way, sometimes
I might have the luck to meet you."

"Certainly you may pass, as often as you please, and so may anybody who
sets value on his rights. And if I should meet you again, I shall be
glad of it. You can open my eyes, doubtless, quite as much as I can
yours. Good-night, my friend, and better fortunes to you!"

"It was worth my while to nail up those rails," Carne said to himself,
as he went home to his ruins. "I have hooked that clod, as firm as ever
he hooked a cod. But, thousand thunders! what does he mean, by going
away without touching his hat to me?"



CHAPTER XXVIII

FOUL IN PRACTICE


"I hope, my dear, that your ride has done you good," said the Rector's
wife to the Rector, as he came into the hall with a wonderfully red
face, one fine afternoon in October. "If colour proves health, you have
gained it."

"Maria, I have not been so upset for many years. Unwholesome indignation
dyes my cheeks, and that is almost as bad as indigestion. I have had
quite a turn--as you women always put it. I am never moved by little
things, as you know well, and sometimes to your great disgust; but
to-day my troubles have conspired to devour me. I am not so young as I
was, Maria. And what will the parish come to, if I give in?"

"Exactly, dear; and therefore you must not give in." Mrs. Twemlow
replied with great spirit, but her hands were trembling as she helped
him to pull off his new riding-coat. "Remember your own exhortations,
Joshua--I am sure they were beautiful--last Sunday. But take something,
dear, to restore your circulation. A reaction in the system is so
dangerous."

"Not anything at present," Mr. Twemlow answered, firmly; "these mental
cares are beyond the reach of bodily refreshments. Let me sit down, and
be sure where I am, and then you may give me a glass of treble X. In
the first place, the pony nearly kicked me off, when that idiot of a
Stubbard began firing from his battery. What have I done, or my peaceful
flock, that a noisy set of guns should be set up amidst us? However, I
showed Juniper that he had a master, though I shall find it hard to
come down-stairs tomorrow. Well, the next thing was that I saw James
Cheeseman, Church-warden Cheeseman, Buttery Cheeseman, as the bad boys
call him, in the lane, in front of me not more than thirty yards, as
plainly as I now have the pleasure of seeing you, Maria; and while I
said 'kuck' to the pony, he was gone! I particularly wished to speak to
Cheeseman, to ask him some questions about things I have observed, and
especially his sad neglect of public worship--a most shameful example
on the part of a church-warden--and I was thinking how to put it,
affectionately yet firmly, when, to my great surprise, there was no
Cheeseman to receive it! I called at his house on my return, about three
hours afterwards, having made up my mind to have it out with him, when
they positively told me--or at least Polly Cheeseman did--that I must be
mistaken about her 'dear papa,' because he was gone in the pony-shay all
the way to Uckfield, and would not be back till night."

"The nasty little story-teller!" Mrs. Twemlow cried. "But I am not at
all surprised at it, when I saw how she had got her hair done up, last
Sunday."

"No; Polly believed it. I am quite sure of that. But what I want to tell
you is much stranger and more important, though it cannot have anything
at all to do with Cheeseman. You know, I told you I was going for a good
long ride; but I did not tell you where, because I knew that you would
try to stop me. But the fact was that I had made up my mind to see what
Caryl Carne is at, among his owls and ivy. You remember the last time
I went to the old place I knocked till I was tired, but could get no
answer, and the window was stopped with some rusty old spiked railings,
where we used to be able to get in at the side. All the others are out
of reach, as you know well; and being of a yielding nature, I came
sadly home. And at that time I still had some faith in your friend Mrs.
Stubbard, who promised to find out all about him, by means of Widow
Shanks and the Dimity-parlour. But nothing has come of that. Poor Mrs.
Stubbard is almost as stupid as her husband; and as for Widow Shanks--I
am quite sure, Maria, if your nephew were plotting the overthrow of
King, Church, and Government, that deluded woman would not listen to a
word against him."

"She calls him a model, and a blessed martyr"--Mrs. Twemlow was smiling
at the thought of it; "and she says she is a woman of great penetration,
and never will listen to anything. But it only shows what I have always
said, that our family has a peculiar power, a sort of attraction, a
superior gift of knowledge of their own minds, which makes them--But
there, you are laughing at me, Joshua!"

"Not I; but smiling at my own good fortune, that ever I get my own
way at all. But, Maria, you are right; your family has always
been distinguished for having its own way--a masterful race, and a
mistressful. And so much the more do the rest of mankind grow eager to
know all about them. In an ordinary mind, such as mine, that feeling
becomes at last irresistible; and finding no other way to gratify it,
I resolved to take the bull by the horns, or rather by the tail, this
morning. The poor old castle has been breaking up most grievously, even
within the last twenty years, and you, who have played as a child among
the ruins of the ramparts, would scarcely know them now. You cannot bear
to go there, which is natural enough, after all the sad things that have
happened; but if you did, you would be surprised, Maria; and I believe a
great part has been knocked down on purpose. But you remember the little
way in from the copse, where you and I, five-and-thirty years ago--"

"Of course I do, darling. It seems but yesterday; and I have a flower
now which you gathered for me there. It grew at a very giddy height upon
the wall, full of cracks and places where the evening-star came through;
but up you went, like a rocket or a race-horse; and what a fright I was
in, until you came down safe! I think that must have made up my mind to
have nobody except my Joshua."

"Well, my dear, you might have done much worse. But I happened to think
of that way in, this morning, when you put up your elbow, as you made
the tea, exactly as you used to do when I might come up there. And that
set me thinking of a quantity of things, and among them this plan which
I resolved to carry out. I took the trouble first to be sure that Caryl
was down here for the day, under the roof of Widow Shanks; and then I
set off by the road up the hill, for the stronghold of all the Carnes.
Without further peril than the fight with the pony, and the strange
apparition of Cheeseman about half a mile from the back entrance, I came
to the copse where the violets used to be, and the sorrel, and the lords
and ladies. There I tethered our friend Juniper in a quiet little nook,
and crossed the soft ground, without making any noise, to the place we
used to call our little postern. It looked so sad, compared with what
it used to be, so desolate and brambled up and ruinous, that I scarcely
should have known it, except for the gray pedestal of the prostrate dial
we used to moralise about. And the ground inside it, that was nice turf
once, with the rill running down it that perhaps supplied the moat--all
stony now, and overgrown, and tangled, with ugly-looking elder-bushes
sprawling through the ivy. To a painter it might have proved very
attractive; but to me it seemed so dreary, and so sombre, and
oppressive, that, although I am not sentimental, as you know, I actually
turned away, to put my little visit off, until I should be in better
spirits for it. And that, my dear Maria, would in all probability have
been never.

"But before I had time to begin my retreat, a very extraordinary sound,
which I cannot describe by any word I know, reached my ears. It was not
a roar, nor a clank, nor a boom, nor a clap, nor a crash, nor a thud,
but if you have ever heard a noise combining all those elements, with a
small percentage of screech to enliven them, that comes as near it as I
can contrive to tell. We know from Holy Scripture that there used to be
such creatures as dragons, though we have never seen them; but I seemed
to be hearing one as I stood there. It was just the sort of groan you
might have expected from a dragon, who had swallowed something highly
indigestible."

"My dear! And he might have swallowed you, if you had stopped. How could
you help running away, my Joshua? I should have insisted immediately
upon it. But you are so terribly intrepid!"

"Far from it, Maria. Quite the contrary, I assure you. In fact, I did
make off, for a considerable distance; not rapidly as a youth might do,
but with self-reproach at my tardiness. But the sound ceased coming; and
then I remembered how wholly we are in the hand of the Lord. A sense of
the power of right rose within me, backed up by a strong curiosity; and
I said to myself that if I went home, with nothing more than that to
tell you, I should not have at all an easy time of it. Therefore I
resolved to face the question again, and ascertain, if possible, without
self-sacrifice, what was going on among the ruins. You know every stick
and stone, as they used to be, but not as they are at present; therefore
I must tell you. The wall at the bottom of the little Dial-court, where
there used to be a sweet-briar hedge to come through, is entirely gone,
either tumbled down or knocked down--the latter I believe to be the
true reason of it. Also, instead of sweet-briar, there is now a very
flourishing crop of sting-nettles. But the wall at the side of the
little court stands almost as sound as ever; and what surprised me most
was to see, when I got further, proceeding of course very quietly, that
the large court beyond (which used to be the servants' yard, and the
drying-ground, and general lounging-place) had a timber floor laid down
it, with a rope on either side, a long heavy rope on either side;
and these ropes were still quivering, as if from a heavy strain just
loosened. All this I could see, because the high door with the spikes,
that used to part the Dial-court from this place of common business, was
fallen forward from its upper hinge, and splayed out so that I could put
my fist through.

"By this time I had quite recovered all my self-command, and was as calm
as I am now, or even calmer, because I was under that reaction which
ensues when a sensible man has made a fool of himself. I perceived,
without thinking, that the sound which had so scared me proceeded from
this gangway, or timberway, or staging, or whatever may be the right
word for it; and I made up my mind to stay where I was, only stooping a
little with my body towards the wall, to get some idea of what might be
going forward. And then I heard a sort of small hubbub of voices, such
as foreigners make when they are ordered to keep quiet, and have to
carry on a struggle with their noisy nature.

"This was enough to settle my decision not to budge an inch, until
I knew what they were up to. I could not see round the corner,
mind--though ladies seem capable of doing that, Maria--and so these
fellows, who seemed to be in two lots, some at the top and some at the
bottom of the plankway, were entirely out of my sight as yet, though I
had a good view of their sliding-plane. But presently the ropes began to
strain and creak, drawn taut--as our fishermen express it--either
from the upper or the lower end, and I saw three barrels come sliding
down--sliding, not rolling (you must understand), and not as a brewer
delivers beer into a cellar. These passed by me; and after a little
while there came again that strange sepulchral sound, which had made me
feel so uneasy.

"Maria, you know that I can hold my own against almost anybody in
the world but you; and although this place is far outside my parish
boundaries, I felt that as the Uncle of the present owner--so far at
least as the lawyers have not snapped him up--and the brother-in-law
of the previous proprietor, I possessed an undeniable legal right--quo
warranto, or whatever it is called--to look into all proceedings on
these premises. Next to Holy Scripture, Horace is my guide and guardian;
and I called to mind a well-known passage, which may roughly be rendered
thus: 'If the crushed world tumble on him, the ruins shall strike him
undismayed.' With this in my head, I went softly down the side-wall of
the Dial-court (for there was no getting through the place where I had
been peeping) to the bottom, where there used to be an old flint wall,
and a hedge of sweet-briar in front of it. You remember the pretty
conceit I made--quaint and wholesome as one of Herrick's--when you said
something--but I verily believe we were better in those days than we
ever have been since. Now don't interrupt me about that, my dear.

"Some of these briars still were there, or perhaps some of their
descendants, straggling weakly among the nettles, and mullein, and other
wild stuff, but making all together a pretty good screen, through which
I could get a safe side-view of the bottom of the timber gangway. So
I took off my hat, for some ruffian fellows like foreign sailors were
standing below, throwing out their arms, and making noises in their
throats, because not allowed to scream as usual. It was plain enough at
once to any one who knew the place, that a large hole had been cut in
the solid castle wall, or rather, a loophole had been enlarged very
freely on either side, and brought down almost to the level of the
ground outside. On either side of this great opening stood three heavy
muskets at full cock, and it made my blood run cold to think how likely
some fatal discharge appeared. If I had been brought up to war, Maria,
as all the young people are bound to be now, I might have been more at
home with such matters, and able to reconnoitre calmly; but I thought of
myself, and of you, and Eliza, and what a shocking thing it would be for
all of us--but a merciful Providence was over me.

"Too late I regretted the desire for knowledge, which had led me into
this predicament, for I durst not rush off from my very sad position,
for my breath would soon fail me, and my lower limbs are thick from the
exercise of hospitality. How I longed for the wings of a dove, or at
any rate for the legs of Lieutenant Blyth Scudamore! And my dark
apprehensions gained double force when a stone was dislodged by my foot
(which may have trembled), and rolled with a sharp echo down into the
ballium, or whatever it should be called, where these desperadoes stood.
In an instant three of them had their long guns pointed at the very
thicket which sheltered me, and if I had moved or attempted to make
off, there would have been a vacancy in this preferment. But luckily a
rabbit, who had been lying as close as I had, and as much afraid of me
perhaps as I was of those ruffians, set off at full speed from the hop
of the stone, and they saw him, and took him for the cause of it. This
enabled me to draw my breath again, and consider the best way of making
my escape, for I cared to see nothing more, except my own house-door.

"Happily the chance was not long in coming. At a shout from below--which
seemed to me to be in English, and sounded uncommonly like 'now,
then!'--all those fellows turned their backs to me, and began very
carefully to lower, one by one, the barrels that had been let down
the incline. And other things were standing there, besides barrels:
packing-cases, crates, very bulky-looking boxes, and low massive wheels,
such as you often see to artillery. You know what a vast extent there
is of cellars and vaults below your old castle, most of them nearly as
sound as ever, and occupied mainly by empty bottles, and the refuse
of past hospitality. Well, they are going to fill these with
something--French wines, smuggled brandy, contraband goods of every kind
you can think of, so long as high profit can be made of them. That is
how your nephew Caryl means to redeem his patrimony. No wonder that he
has been so dark and distant! It never would have done to let us get the
least suspicion of it, because of my position in the Church, and in the
Diocese. By this light a thousand things are clear to me, which exceeded
all the powers of the Sphinx till now."

"But how did you get away, my darling Joshua?" Mrs. Twemlow enquired,
as behoved her. "So fearless, so devoted, so alive to every call of
duty--how could you stand there, and let the wretches shoot at you?"

"By taking good care not to do it," the Rector answered, simply. "No
sooner were all their backs towards me, than I said to myself that
the human race happily is not spiderine. I girt up my loins, or rather
fetched my tails up under my arms very closely, and glided away, with
the silence of the serpent, and the craft of the enemy of our fallen
race. Great care was needful, and I exercised it; and here you behold
me, unshot and unshot-at, and free from all anxiety, except a pressing
urgency for a bowl of your admirable soup, Maria, and a cut from the
saddle I saw hanging in the cellar."



CHAPTER XXIX

MATERNAL ELOQUENCE


Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof; and more than sufficient
with most of us. Mr. Twemlow and his wife resolved discreetly, after a
fireside council, to have nothing to say to Carne Castle, or about it,
save what might be forced out of them. They perceived most clearly, and
very deeply felt, how exceedingly wrong it is for anybody to transgress,
or even go aside of, the laws of his country, as by Statute settled.
Still, if his ruin had been chiefly legal; if he had been brought up
under different laws, and in places where they made those things which
he desired to deal in; if it was clear that those things were good, and
their benefit might be extended to persons who otherwise could have no
taste of them; above all, if it were the first and best desire of all
who heard of it to have their own fingers in the pie--then let others
stop it, who by duty and interest were so minded; the Rector was not in
the Commission of the Peace--though he ought to have been there years
ago--and the breach of the law, if it came to that, was outside of his
parish boundary. The voice of the neighbourhood would be with him, for
not turning against his own nephew, even if it ever should come to be
known that he had reason for suspicions.

It is hard to see things in their proper light, if only one eye has a
fly in it; but if both are in that sad condition, who shall be blamed
for winking? Not only the pastor, but all his flock, were in need of
wire spectacles now, to keep their vision clear and their foreheads
calm. Thicker than flies around the milk-pail, rumours came flitting
daily; and even the night--that fair time of thinking--was busy with
buzzing multitude.

"Long time have I lived, and a sight have I seed," said Zebedee Tugwell
to his wife, "of things as I couldn't make no head nor tail of; but
nothing to my knowledge ever coom nigh the sort of way our folk has
taken to go on. Parson Twemlow told us, when the war began again, that
the Lord could turn us all into Frenchmen, if we sinned against Him
more than He could bear. I were fool enough to laugh about it then,
not intaking how it could be on this side of Kingdom Come, where no
distinction is of persons. But now, there it is--a thing the Almighty
hath in hand; and who shall say Him nay, when He layeth His hand to it?"

"I reckon, 'a hath begun with you too, Zeb," Mrs. Tugwell would answer,
undesirably. "To be always going on so about trash trifles, as a woman
hath a right to fly up at, but no man! Surely Dan hath a right to his
politics and his parables, as much as any lame old chap that sitteth on
a bench. He works hard all day, and he airns his money; and any man hath
a right to wag his tongue of night-time, when his arms and his legs have
been wagging all day."

"Depends upon how he wags 'un." The glance of old Tugwell was stern, as
he spoke, and his eyebrows knitted over it. "If for a yarn, to plaise
children or maidens, or a bit of argyment about his business, or talk
about his neighbours, or aught that consarns him--why, lads must be
fools, and I can smoke my pipe and think that at his age I was like him.
But when it comes to talking of his betters, and the Government, and
the right of everybody to command the ship, and the soup--soup, what was
it?"

"Superior position of the working classes, dignity of labour,
undefeasible rights of mankind to the soil as they was born in, and
soshallistick--something."

"So--shall--I--stick equality," Mr. Tugwell amended, triumphantly; "and
so shall I stick him, by the holy poker, afore the end of the week is
out. I've a-been fool enough to leave off ropesending of him now for a
matter of two years, because 'a was good, and outgrowing of it like, and
because you always coom between us. But mind you, mother, I'll have none
of that, next time. Business I means, and good measure it shall be."

"Zeb Tugwell," said his wife, longing greatly to defy him, but
frightened by the steadfast gaze she met, "you can never mean to say
that you would lay your hand on Dan--a grown man, a'most as big as
yourself, and a good half-head taller! Suppose he was to hit you back
again!"

"If he did, I should just kill him," Zeb answered, calmly. "He would
be but a jellyfish in my two hands. But there, I'll not talk about it,
mother. No need to trouble you with it. 'Tis none of my seeking--the
Lord in heaven knows--but a job as He hath dutified for me to do. I'll
go out, and have my pipe, and dwell on it."

"And I may lay a deal of it on myself," Mrs. Tugwell began to moan, as
soon as he was gone; "for I have cockered Dan up, and there's no denying
it, afore Tim, or Tryphena, or Tabby, or Debby, or even little Solomon.
Because he were the first, and so like his dear father, afore he got
on in the world so. Oh, it all comes of that, all the troubles comes of
that, and of laying up of money, apart from your wife, and forgetting
almost of her Christian name! And the very same thing of it--money,
money, and the getting on with breeches that requireth no mending, and
the looking over Church-books at gay young ladies--all of it leadeth
to the same bad end of his betters, and the Government, and the
Soshallistick Quality.

"Why, with all these mercies," continued Mrs. Tugwell, though not in a
continuous frame of mind, as Daniel came in, with a slow heavy step, and
sat down by the fire in silence, "all these mercies, as are bought and
paid for, from one and sixpence up to three half-crowns, and gives no
more trouble beyond dusting once a week--how any one can lay his eyes
on other people's property, without consideration of his own, as will be
after his poor mother's time, is to me quite a puzzle and a pin-prick.
Not as if they was owing for, or bought at auction, or so much as beaten
down by sixpence, but all at full price and own judgment, paid for by
airnings of labour and perils of the deep. And as Widow Shanks said, the
last time she was here, by spoiling of the enemies of England, who makes
us pay tremenjious for 'most everything we lives on. And I know who
would understand them crackeries, and dust them when I be gone to
dust, and see her own pretty face in them, whenever they has the
back-varnish."

Dan knew that the future fair owner and duster designed by his mother
was Miss Cheeseman, towards whom he had cherished tender yearnings in
the sensible and wholesome days. And if Polly Cheeseman had hung herself
on high--which she might have done without a bit of arrogance--perhaps
she would still have been to this young man the star of fate and glory,
instead of a dip, thirty-two to the pound; the like whereof she sold
for a farthing. Distance makes the difference. "He that won't allow heed
shall pay dear in his need;" the good mother grew warm, as the son began
to whistle; "and to my mind, Master Dan, it won't be long afore you have
homer things to think of than politics. 'Politics is fiddle-sticks' was
what men of my age used to say; sensible men with a house and freehold,
and a pig of their own, and experience. And such a man I might have had,
and sensible children by him, children as never would have whistled at
their mother, if it hadn't been for your poor father, Dan. Misguided he
may be, and too much of his own way, and not well enough in his own mind
to take in a woman's--but for all that he hath a right to be honoured by
his children, and to lead their minds in matters touching of the King,
and Church, and true religion. Why only last night, no, the night afore
last, I met Mrs. Prater, and I said to her--"

"You told me all that, mother; and it must have been a week ago; for I
have heard it every night this week. What is it you desire that I should
do, or say, or think?"

"Holy mercy!" cried Mrs. Tugwell, "what a way to put things, Dan! All
I desire is for your good only, and so leading on to the comfort of the
rest. For the whole place goes wrong, and the cat sits in the corner,
when you go on with politics as your dear father grunts at. No doubt it
may all be very fine and just, and worth a man giving his life for, if
he don't care about it, nor nobody else--but even if it was to keep the
French out, and yourn goeth nearer to letting them in, what difference
of a button would it make to us, Dan, compared to our sticking together,
and feeding with a knowledge and a yielding to the fancies of each
other?"

"I am sure it's no fault of mine," said Daniel, moved from his high
ropes by this last appeal; "to me it never matters twopence what I have
for dinner, and you saw me give Tim all the brown of the baked potatoes
the very last time I had my dinner here. But what comes above all those
little bothers is the necessity for insisting upon freedom of opinion. I
don't pretend to be so old as my father, nor to know so much as he knows
about the world in general. But I have read a great deal more than he
has, of course, because he takes a long time to get a book with the
right end to him; and I have thought, without knowing it, about what I
have read, and I have heard very clever men (who could have no desire
to go wrong, but quite the other way) carrying on about these high
subjects, beyond me, but full of plain language. And I won't be forced
out of a word of it by fear."

"But for love of your mother you might keep it under, and think it all
inside you, without bringing of it out, in the presence of your elders.
You know what your father is--a man as never yet laid his tongue to a
thing without doing of it--right or wrong, right or wrong; and this time
he hath right, and the law, and the Lord, and the King himself, to the
side of him. And a rope's-end in his pocket, Dan, as I tried to steal
away, but he were too wide-awake. Such a big hard one you never did
see!"

"A rope's end for me, well turned twenty years of age!" cried Daniel,
with a laugh, but not a merry one; "two can play at that game, mother.
I'll not be ropes ended by nobody."

"Then you'll be rope-noosed;" the poor mother fell into the settle, away
from the fire-light, and put both hands over her eyes, to shut out the
spectacle of Dan dangling; "or else your father will be, for you. Ever
since the Romans, Dan, there have been Tugwells, and respected ten times
more than they was. Oh do 'e, do 'e think; and not bring us all to the
grave, and then the gallows! Why I can mind the time, no more agone than
last Sunday, when you used to lie here in the hollow of my arm, without
a stitch of clothes on, and kind people was tempted to smack you in
pleasure, because you did stick out so prettily. For a better-formed
baby there never was seen, nor a finer-tempered one, when he had his
way. And the many nights I walked the floor with you, Dan, when your
first tooth was coming through, the size of a horse-radish, and your
father most wonderful to put up with my coo to you, when he had not had
a night in bed for nigh three weeks--oh, Dan, do 'e think of things as
consarneth your homer life, and things as is above all reason; and let
they blessed politics go home to them as trades in them."

Mrs. Tugwell's tender recollections had given her a pain in the part
where Dan was nursed, and driven her out of true logical course; but she
came back to it, before Dan had time to finish the interesting pictures
of himself which she had suggested.

"Now can you deny a word of that, Dan? And if not, what is there more to
say? You was smacked as a little babe, by many people kindly, when ever
so much tenderer than you now can claim to be. And in those days you
never could have deserved it yet, not having framed a word beyond 'Mam,'
and 'Da,' and both of those made much of, because doubtful. There was
nothing about the Constitooshun then, but the colour of the tongue and
the condition of the bowels; and if any fool had asked you what politics
was, you would have sucked your thumb, and offered them to suck it; for
generous you always was, and just came after. And what cry have bigger
folk, grown upright and wicked, to make about being smacked, when they
deserve it, for meddling with matters outside of their business, by
those in authority over them?"

"Well, mother, I daresay you are right, though I don't altogether see
the lines of it. But one thing I will promise you--whatever father does
to me, I will not lift a hand against him. But I must be off. I am late
already."

"Where to, Dan? Where to? I always used to know, even if you was going
courting. Go a-courting, Dan, as much as ever you like, only don't make
no promises. But whatever you do, keep away from that bad, wicked, Free
and Frisky Club, my dear."

"Mother, that's the very place I am just bound to. After all you have
said, I would have stayed away to-night, except for being on the list,
and pledged in honour to twenty-eight questions, all bearing upon the
grand issues of the age."

"I don't know no more than the dead, what that means, Dan. But I know
what your father has got in his pocket for you. And he said the next
time you went there, you should have it."



CHAPTER XXX

PATERNAL DISCIPLINE


"The Fair, Free, and Frisky"--as they called themselves, were not of
a violent order at all, neither treasonable, nor even disloyal. Their
Club, if it deserved the name, had not been of political, social, or
even convivial intention, but had lapsed unawares into all three uses,
and most of all that last mentioned. The harder the times are, the more
confidential (and therefore convivial) do Englishmen become; and if
Free-trade survives with us for another decade, it will be the death of
total abstinence. But now they had bad times, without Free-trade--that
Goddess being still in the goose-egg--and when two friends met, without
a river between them, they were bound to drink one another's health, and
did it, without the unstable and cold-blooded element. The sense of this
duty was paramount among the "Free and Frisky," and without it their
final cause would have vanished long ago, and therewith their formal
one.

None of the old-established folk of the blue blood of Springhaven,
such as the Tugwells, the Shankses, the Praters, the Bowleses, the
Stickfasts, the Blocks, or the Kedgers, would have anything to do
with this Association, which had formed itself among them, like
an anti-corn-law league, for the destruction of their rights and
properties. Its origin had been commercial, and its principles
aggressive, no less an outrage being contemplated than the purchase of
fish at low figures on the beach, and the speedy distribution of that
slippery ware among the nearest villages and towns. But from time
immemorial the trade had been in the hands of a few staunch factors,
who paid a price governed by the seasons and the weather, and sent
the commodity as far as it would go, with soundness, and the hope of
freshness. Springhaven believed that it supplied all London, and was
proud and blest in so believing. With these barrowmen, hucksters and
pedlars of fish, it would have no manifest dealing; but if the factors
who managed the trade chose to sell their refuse or surplus to them,
that was their own business. In this way perhaps, and by bargains on
the sly, these petty dealers managed to procure enough to carry on
their weekly enterprise, and for a certain good reason took a room and
court-yard handy to the Darling Arms, to discuss other people's business
and their own. The good reason was that they were not allowed to leave
the village, with their barrows or trucks or baskets, until the night
had fallen, on penalty of being pelted with their own wares. Such was
the dignity of this place, and its noble abhorrence of anything low.

The vision of lofty institutions, which one may not participate,
inspires in the lower human nature more jealousy than admiration.
These higglers may have been very honest fellows, in all but pecuniary
questions, and possibly continued to be so in the bosom of their own
families. But here in Springhaven, by the force of circumstances they
were almost compelled to be radicals: even as the sweetest cow's milk
turns sour, when she can just reach red clover with her breath, but
not her lips. But still they were not without manners, and reason, and
good-will to people who had patience with them. This enabled them to
argue lofty questions, without black eyes, or kicking, or even tweak of
noses; and a very lofty question was now before them.

To get once into Admiral Darling's employment was to obtain a vested
interest; so kind was his nature and so forgiving, especially when he
had scolded anybody. Mr. Swipes, the head gardener for so many years,
held an estate of freehold in the garden--although he had no head, and
would never be a gardener, till the hanging gardens of Babylon should
be hung on the top of the tower of Babel--with a vested remainder to his
son, and a contingent one to all descendants. Yet this man, although
his hands were generally in his pockets, had not enough sense of their
linings to feel that continuance, usage, institution, orderly sequence,
heredity, and such like, were the buttons of his coat and the texture of
his breeches, and the warmth of his body inside them. Therefore he never
could hold aloof from the Free and Frisky gatherings, and accepted the
chair upon Bumper-nights, when it was a sinecure benefice.

This was a Bumper-night, and in the chair sat Mr. Swipes, discharging
gracefully the arduous duties of the office, which consisted mainly
in calling upon members for a speech, a sentiment, or a song, and in
default of mental satisfaction, bodily amendment by a pint all round.
But as soon as Dan Tugwell entered the room, the Free and Friskies with
one accord returned to loftier business. Mr. Swipes, the gay Liber of
the genial hour, retired from the chair, and his place was taken by a
Liberal--though the name was not yet invented--estranged from his own
godfather. This was a hard man, who made salt herrings, and longed to
cure everything fresh in the world.

Dan, being still a very tender youth, and quite unaccustomed to public
speaking, was abashed by these tokens of his own importance, and
heartily wished that he had stopped at home. It never occurred to
his simple mind that his value was not political, but commercial; not
"anthropological," but fishy, the main ambition of the Free and Frisky
Club having long been the capture of his father. If once Zeb Tugwell
could be brought to treat, a golden era would dawn upon them, and a
boundless vision of free-trade, when a man might be paid for refusing to
sell fish, as he now is for keeping to himself his screws. Dan knew not
these things, and his heart misgave him, and he wished that he had never
heard of the twenty-eight questions set down in his name for solution.

However, his disturbance of mind was needless, concerning those great
issues. All the members, except the chairman, had forgotten all about
them; and the only matter they cared about was to make a new member of
Daniel. A little flourish went on about large things (which nobody knew,
or cared to know), then the table was hammered with the heel of a pipe,
and Dan was made a Free and Frisky. An honorary member, with nothing to
pay, and the honour on their side, they told him; and every man rose,
with his pot in one hand and his pipe in the other, yet able to stand,
and to thump with his heels, being careful. Then the President made
entry in a book, and bowed, and Dan was requested to sign it. In the
fervour of good-will, and fine feeling, and the pride of popularity, the
young man was not old enough to resist, but set his name down firmly.
Then all shook hands with him, and the meeting was declared to be
festive, in honour of a new and noble member.

It is altogether wrong to say--though many people said it--that young
Dan Tugwell was even a quarter of a sheet in the wind, when he steered
his way home. His head was as solid as that of his father; which,
instead of growing light, increased in specific, generic, and
differential gravity, under circumstances which tend otherwise, with an
age like ours, that insists upon sobriety, without allowing practice.
All Springhaven folk had long practice in the art of keeping sober, and
if ever a man walked with his legs outside his influence, it was always
from defect of proper average quite lately.

Be that as it may, the young man came home with an enlarged map of the
future in his mind, a brisk and elastic rise in his walk, and his head
much encouraged to go on with liberal and indescribable feelings. In
accordance with these, he expected his mother to be ready to embrace
him at the door, while a saucepan simmered on the good-night of the
wood-ash, with just as much gentle breath of onion from the cover as a
youth may taste dreamily from the lips of love. But oh, instead of this,
he met his father, spread out and yet solid across the doorway, with
very large arms bare and lumpy in the gleam of a fireplace uncrowned by
any pot. Dan's large ideas vanished, like a blaze without a bottom.

"Rather late, Daniel," said the captain of Springhaven, with a nod of
his great head, made gigantic on the ceiling. "All the rest are abed,
the proper place for honest folk. I suppose you've been airning money,
overtime?"

"Not I," said Dan; "I work hard enough all day. I just looked in at the
Club, and had a little talk of politics."

"The Club, indeed! The stinking barrow-grinders! Did I tell you, or did
I forget to tell you, never to go there no more?"

"You told me fast enough, father; no doubt about that. But I am not
aboard your boat, when I happen on dry land, and I am old enough now to
have opinions of my own."

"Oh, that's it, is it? And to upset all the State, the King, the House
of Lords, and the Parliamentary House, and all as is descended from the
Romans? Well, and what did their Wusships say to you? Did they anoint
you king of slooshings?"

"Father, they did this--and you have a right to know it;" Dan spoke with
a grave debative tone, though his voice became doubtful, as he saw that
his father was quietly seeking for something; "almost before I knew what
was coming, they had made me a member, and I signed the book. They have
no desire to upset the kingdom; I heard no talk of that kind; only that
every man should have his own opinions, and be free to show what can be
said for them. And you know, father, that the world goes on by reason,
and justice, and good-will, and fair play--"

"No, it don't," cried the captain, who had found what he wanted; "if
it had to wait for they, it would never go on at all. It goes on by
government, and management, and discipline, and the stopping of younkers
from their blessed foolery, and by the ten commandments, and the
proverbs of King Solomon. You to teach your father how the world goes
on! Off with your coat, and I'll teach you."

"Father," said Dan, with his milder nature trembling at the stern
resolution in his father's eyes, as the hearth-fire flashing up showed
their stronger flash, "you will never do such a thing, at my age and
size?"

"Won't I?" answered Zebedee, cracking in the air the three knotted
tails of the stout hempen twist. "As for your age, why, it ought to know
better; and as for your size, why, the more room for this!"

It never came into Daniel's head that he should either resist or run
away. But into his heart came the deadly sense of disgrace at being
flogged, even by his own father, at full age to have a wife and even
children of his own.

"Father," he said, as he pulled off his coat and red striped shirt, and
showed his broad white back, "if you do this thing, you will never set
eyes on my face again--so help me God!"

"Don't care if I don't," the captain shouted. "You was never son of
mine, to be a runagate, and traitor. How old be you, Master Free and
Frisky, to larn me how the world goes on?"

"As if you didn't know, father! The fifteenth of last March I was twenty
years of age."

"Then one for each year of your life, my lad, and another to make a
man of thee. This little tickler hath three tails; seven threes is
twenty-one--comes just right."

When his father had done with him, Dan went softly up the dark staircase
of old ship timber, and entering his own little room, struck a light.
He saw that his bed was turned down for him, by the loving hand of his
mother, and that his favourite brother Solomon, the youngest of the
Tugwell race, was sleeping sweetly in the opposite cot. Then he caught a
side view of his own poor back in the little black-framed looking-glass,
and was quite amazed; for he had not felt much pain, neither flinched,
nor winced, nor spoken. In a moment self-pity did more than pain,
indignation, outrage, or shame could do; it brought large tears into his
softened eyes, and a long sob into his swelling throat.

He had borne himself like a man when flogged; but now he behaved in
the manner of a boy. "He shall never hear the last of this job," he
muttered, "as long as mother has a tongue in her head." To this end he
filled a wet sponge with the red proofs of his scourging, laid it where
it must be seen, and beside it a leaf torn from his wage-book, on which
he had written with a trembling hand: "He says that I am no son of his,
and this looks like it. Signed, Daniel Tugwell, or whatever my name
ought to be."

Then he washed and dressed with neat's-foot oil all of his wounds that
he could reach, and tied a band of linen over them, and, in spite of
increasing smarts and pangs, dressed himself carefully in his Sunday
clothes. From time to time he listened for his father's step, inasmuch
as there was no bolt to his door, and to burn a light so late was
against all law. But nobody came to disturb him; his mother at the end
of the passage slept heavily, and his two child-sisters in the room
close by, Tabby and Debby, were in the land of dreams, as far gone
as little Solly was. Having turned out his tools from their flat flag
basket, or at least all but three or four favourites, he filled it with
other clothes likely to be needed, and buckled it over his hatchet-head.
Then the beating of his heart was like a flail inside a barn, as he
stole along silently for one terrible good-bye.

This was to his darling pet of all pets, Debby, who worshipped this
brother a great deal more than she worshipped her heavenly Father;
because, as she said to her mother, when rebuked--"I can see Dan,
mother, but I can't see Him. Can I sit in His lap, mother, and look
into His face, and be told pretty stories, and eat apples all the time?"
Tabby was of different grain, and her deity was Tim; for she was of
the Tomboy kind, and had no imagination. But Debby was enough to make a
sound and seasoned heart to ache, as she lay in her little bed, with
the flush of sleep deepening the delicate tint of her cheeks, shedding
bright innocence fresh from heaven on the tranquil droop of eyelid and
the smiling curve of lip. Her hair lay fluttered, as if by play with the
angels that protected her; and if she could not see her heavenly Father,
it was not because she was out of His sight.

A better tear than was ever shed by self-pity, or any other selfishness,
ran down the cheek she had kissed so often, and fell upon her coaxing,
nestling neck. Then Dan, with his candle behind the curtain, set a long
light kiss upon the forehead of his darling, and with a heart so full,
and yet so empty, took one more gaze at her, and then was gone. With the
basket in his hand, he dropped softly from his window upon the pile
of seaweed at the back of the house--collected to make the walls
wholesome--and then, caring little what his course might be, was led
perhaps by the force of habit down the foot-path towards the beach. So
late at night, it was not likely that any one would disturb him there,
and no one in the cottage which he had left would miss him before the
morning. The end of October now was near, the nights were long, and he
need not hurry. He might even lie down in his favourite boat, the best
of her size in Springhaven, the one he had built among the rabbits.
There he could say good-bye to all that he had known and loved so long,
and be off before dawn, to some place where he might earn his crust and
think his thoughts.



CHAPTER XXXI

SORE TEMPTATION


When a man's spirit and heart are low, and the world seems turned
against him, he had better stop both ears than hearken to the sound of
the sad sea waves at night. Even if he can see their movement, with the
moon behind them, drawing paths of rippled light, and boats (with white
sails pluming shadow, or thin oars that dive for gems), and perhaps a
merry crew with music, coming home not all sea-sick--well, even so, in
the summer sparkle, the long low fall of the waves is sad. But how much
more on a winter night, when the moon is away below the sea, and weary
waters roll unseen from a vast profundity of gloom, fall unreckoned, and
are no more than a wistful moan, as man is!

The tide was at quarter-ebb, and a dismal haze lay thick on shore and
sea. It was not enough to be called a fog, or even a mist, but quite
enough to deaden the gray light, always flowing along the boundary of
sky and sea. But over the wet sand and the white frill of the gently
gurgling waves more of faint light, or rather perhaps, less of heavy
night, prevailed. But Dan had keen eyes, and was well accustomed to the
tricks of darkness; and he came to take his leave forever of the
fishing squadron, with a certainty of knowing all the five, as if by
daylight--for now there were only five again.

As the tide withdrew, the fishing-smacks (which had scarcely earned
their name of late) were compelled to make the best of the world until
the tide came back again. To judge by creakings, strainings, groanings,
and even grindings of timber millstones [if there yet lives in Ireland
the good-will for a loan to us], all these little craft were making
dreadful hardship of the abandonment which man and nature inflicted on
them every thirteenth hour. But all things do make more noise at
night, when they get the chance (perhaps in order to assert their own
prerogative), and they seem to know that noise goes further, and assumes
a higher character, when men have left off making it.

The poor young fisherman's back was getting very sore by this time, and
he began to look about for the white side-streak which he had painted
along the water-line of that new boat, to distract the meddlesome gaze
of rivals from the peculiar curve below, which even Admiral Darling
had not noticed, when he passed her on the beach; but Nelson would have
spied it out in half a second, and known all about it in the other half.
Dan knew that he should find a very fair berth there, with a roll or two
of stuff to lay his back on, and a piece of tarpauling to draw over his
legs. In the faint light that hovered from the breaking of the wavelets
he soon found his boat, and saw a tall man standing by her.

"Daniel," said the tall man, without moving, "my sight is very bad at
night, but unless it is worse than usual, you are my admired friend
Daniel. A young man in a thousand--one who dares to think."

"Yes, Squire Carne," the admired friend replied, with a touch of hat
protesting against any claim to friendship: "Dan Tugwell, at your
service. And I have thought too much, and been paid out for it."

"You see me in a melancholy attitude, and among melancholy
surroundings." Caryl Carne offered his hand as he spoke, and Dan took
it with great reverence. "The truth is, that anger at a gross injustice,
which has just come to my knowledge, drove me from my books and sad
family papers, in the room beneath the roof of our good Widow Shanks.
And I needs must come down here, to think beside the sea, which seems to
be the only free thing in England. But I little expected to see you."

"And I little expected to be here, Squire Carne. But if not making too
bold to ask--was it anybody that was beaten?"

"Beaten is not the right word for it, Dan; cruelly flogged and lashed,
a dear young friend of mine has been, as fine a young fellow as ever
lived--and now he has not got a sound place on his back. And why?
Because he was poor, and dared to lift his eyes to a rich young lady."

"But he was not flogged by his own father?" asked Dan, deeply interested
in this romance, and rubbing his back, as the pain increased with
sympathy.

"Not quite so bad as that," replied the other; "such a thing would be
impossible, even in England. No; his father took his part, as any father
in the world would do; even if the great man, the young lady's father,
should happen to be his own landlord."

A very black suspicion crossed the mind of Dan, for Carne possessed the
art of suggesting vile suspicions: might Admiral Darling have discovered
something, and requested Dan's father to correct him? It was certain
that the Admiral, so kind of heart, would never have desired such
severity; but he might have told Captain Tugwell, with whom he had a
talk almost every time they met, that his eldest son wanted a little
discipline; and the Club might have served as a pretext for this, when
the true crime must not be declared, by reason of its enormity. Dan
closed his teeth, and English air grew bitter in his mouth, as this
belief ran through him.

"Good-night, my young friend; I am beginning to recover," Carne
continued, briskly, for he knew that a nail snaps in good oak, when the
hammer falls too heavily. "What is a little bit of outrage, after all?
When I have been in England a few years more, I shall laugh at myself
for having loved fair play and self-respect, in this innocent young
freshness. We must wag as the world does; and you know the proverb, What
makes the world wag, but the weight of the bag?"

"But if you were more in earnest, sir--or at least--I mean, if you were
not bound here by property and business, and an ancient family, and
things you could not get away from, and if you wanted only to be allowed
fair play, and treated as a man by other men, and be able to keep your
own money when you earned it, or at least to buy your own victuals with
it--what would you try to do, or what part of the country would you
think best to go to?"

"Dan, you must belong to a very clever family. It is useless to
shake your head--you must; or you never could put such questions, so
impossible to answer. In all this blessed island, there is no spot yet
discovered, where such absurd visions can be realized. Nay, nay, my
romantic friend; be content with more than the average blessings of
this land. You are not starved, you are not imprisoned, you are not even
beaten; and if you are not allowed to think, what harm of that? If you
thought all day, you would never dare to act upon your thoughts, and
so you are better without them. Tush! an Englishman was never born for
freedom. Good-night."

"But, sir, Squire Carne," cried Dan, pursuing him, "there is one
thing which you do not seem to know. I am driven away from this place
to-night; and it would have been so kind of you to advise me where to go
to."

"Driven away!" exclaimed Carne, with amazement. "The pride of the
village driven out of it! You may be driving yourself away, Tugwell,
through some scrape, or love affair; but when that blows over you will
soon come back. What would Springhaven do without you? And your dear
good father would never let you go."

"I am not the pride, but the shame, of the village." Dan forgot all his
home-pride at last. "And my dear good father is the man who has done it.
He has leathered me worse than the gentleman you spoke of, and without
half so much to be said against him. For nothing but going to the Club
to-night, where I am sure we drank King George's health, my father has
lashed me so, that I am ashamed to tell it. And I am sure that I never
meant to tell it, until your kindness, in a way of speaking, almost
drove it out of me."

"Daniel Tugwell," Carne answered, with solemnity, "this is beyond
belief, even in England. You must have fallen asleep, Dan, in the middle
of large thoughts, and dreamed this great impossibility."

"My back knows whether it has been a dream, sir. I never heard of dreams
as left one-and-twenty lines behind them. But whether it be one, or
whether it be twenty, makes no odds of value. The disgrace it is that
drives me out."

"Is there no way of healing this sad breach?" Carne asked, in a tone of
deep compassion; "if your father could be brought to beg your pardon, or
even to say that he was sorry--"

"He, sir! If such a thing was put before him, his answer would be just
to do it again, if I were fool enough to go near him. You are too mild
of nature, sir, to understand what father is."

"It is indeed horrible, too horrible to think of"--the voice of this
kind gentleman betrayed that he was shuddering. "If a Frenchman did such
a thing, he would be torn to pieces. But no French father would ever
dream of such atrocity. He would rather flog himself within an inch of
his own life."

"Are they so much better, then, and kinder, than us Englishmen?" In
spite of all his pain and grief, Dan could not help smiling at the
thought of his father ropesending himself. "So superior to us, sir, in
every way?"

"In almost every way, I am sorry to confess. I fear, indeed, in
every way, except bodily strength, and obstinate, ignorant endurance,
miscalled 'courage,' and those rough qualities--whatever they may
be--which seem needful for the making of a seaman. But in good manners,
justice, the sense of what is due from one man to another, in dignity,
equality, temperance, benevolence, largeness of feeling, and quickness
of mind, and above all in love of freedom, they are very, very sadly far
beyond us. And indeed I have been led to think from some of your finer
perceptions, Dan, that you must have a share of French blood in your
veins."

"Me, sir!" cried Dan, jumping back, in a style which showed the distance
between faith and argument; "no, sir, thank God there was never none
of that; but all English, with some of the Romans, who was pretty near
equal to us, from what I hear. I suppose, Squire Carne, you thought
that low of me because I made a fuss about being larruped, the same as
a Frenchman I pulled out of the water did about my doing of it, as if I
could have helped it. No Englishman would have said much about that;
but they seem to make more fuss than we do. And I dare say it was
French-like of me, to go on about my hiding."

"Daniel," answered Caryl Carne, in alarm at this British sentiment; "as
a man of self-respect, you have only one course left, if your father
refuses to apologise. You must cast off his tyranny; you must prove
yourself a man; you must begin life upon your own account. No more
of this drudgery, and slavery for others, who allow you no rights in
return. But a nobler employment among free people, with a chance of
asserting your courage and manhood, and a certainty that no man will
think you his bondslave because you were born upon his land, or in his
house. My father behaved to me--well, it does not matter. He might have
repented of it, if he had lived longer; and I feel ashamed to speak of
it, after such a case as yours. But behold, how greatly it has been
for my advantage! Without that, I might now have been a true and simple
Englishman!"

Carne (who had taken most kindly to the fortune which made him an
untrue Englishman) clapped his breast with both hands; not proudly, as
a Frenchman does, nor yet with that abashment and contempt of
demonstration which make a true Briton very clumsy in such doings; while
Daniel Tugwell, being very solid, and by no means "emotional"--as people
call it nowadays--was looking at him, to the utmost of his power (which
would have been greater by daylight), with gratitude, and wonder, and
consideration, and some hesitation about his foreign sentiments.

"Well, sir," said Dan, with the usual impulse of the British workman,
"is there any sort of work as you could find for me, to earn my own
living, and be able to think afterwards?"

"There is work of a noble kind, such as any man of high nature may be
proud to share in, to which it is possible that I might get an entrance
for you, if there should be a vacancy; work of high character, such as
admits of no higgling and haggling, and splitting of halfpence, but an
independent feeling, and a sense of advancing the liberty of mankind,
without risking a penny, but putting many guineas into one's own pocket,
and so becoming fitted for a loftier line of life."

"Is it smuggling, sir?" Daniel asked, with sore misgivings, for he had
been brought up to be very shy of that. "Many folk consider that quite
honest; but father calls it roguery--though I never shall hear any more
of his opinions now."

"Sigh not, friend Daniel; sigh not so heavily at your own emancipation."
Carne never could resist the chance of a little bit of sarcasm, though
it often injured his own plots. "Smuggling is a very fine pursuit, no
doubt, but petty in comparison with large affairs like ours. No, Dan
Tugwell, I am not a smuggler, but a high politician, and a polisher of
mankind. How soon do you think of leaving this outrageous hole?"

Despite the stupid outrage upon himself, Dan was too loyal and generous
of nature to be pleased with this description of his native place. But
Carne, too quick of temper for a really fine intriguer, cut short his
expostulations.

"Call it what you please," he said; "only make your mind up quickly. If
you wish to remain here, do so: a man of no spirit is useless to me.
But if you resolve to push your fortunes among brave and lofty comrades,
stirring scenes, and brisk adventures, meet me at six to-morrow evening,
at the place where you chopped down my rails. All you want will be
provided, and your course of promotion begins at once. But remember,
all must be honour bright. No shilly-shallying, no lukewarmness, no
indifference to a noble cause. Faint heart never won fair lady."

The waning moon had risen, and now shone upon Carne's face, lighting up
all its gloomy beauty, and strange power of sadness. Dan seemed to lose
his clear keen sight beneath the dark influence of the other's gaze; and
his will, though not a weak one, dropped before a larger and stronger.
"He knows all about me and Miss Dolly," said the poor young fisherman to
himself; "I thought so before, and I am certain of it now. And, for
some reason beyond my knowledge, he wishes to encourage it. Oh, perhaps
because the Carnes have always been against the Darlings! I never
thought of that before."

This was a bitter reflection to him, and might have inclined him the
right way, if time had allowed him to work it out. But no such time was
afforded; and in the confusion and gratitude of the moment, he answered,
"Sir, I shall be always at your service, and do my very best in
every way to please you." Caryl Carne smiled; and the church clock of
Springhaven solemnly struck midnight.



CHAPTER XXXII

THE TRIALS OF FAITH


He following day, the 27th of October, was a dark one in the calendar of
a fair and good young lady. Two years would then have passed since Faith
Darling, at the age of twenty, had received sad tidings, which would
make the rest of her life flow on in shadow. So at least she thought,
forgetful (or rather perhaps unconscious, for she had not yet learned
the facts of life) that time and the tide of years submerge the loftiest
youthful sorrow. To a warm and stedfast heart like hers, and a nature
strong but self-controlled, no casual change, or light diversion, or
sudden interest in other matters, could take the place of the motive
lost. Therefore, being of a deep true faith, and staunch in the belief
of a great God, good to all who seek His goodness, she never went away
from what she meant, that faith and hope should feed each other.

This saved her from being a trouble to any one, or damping anybody's
cheerfulness, or diminishing the gaiety around her. She took a lively
interest in the affairs of other people, which a "blighted being"
declines to do; and their pleasures ministered to her own good cheer
without, or at any rate beyond, her knowledge. Therefore she was liked
by everybody, and beloved by all who had any heart for a brave and
pitiful story. Thus a sweet flower, half closed by the storm, continues
to breathe forth its sweetness.

However, there were times when even Faith was lost in sad remembrance,
and her bright young spirit became depressed by the hope deferred that
maketh sick the heart. As time grew longer, hope grew less; and even the
cheerful Admiral, well versed in perils of the deep, and acquainted with
many a wandering story, had made up his mind that Erle Twemlow was
dead, and would never more be heard of. The rector also, the young man's
father, could hold out no longer against that conclusion; and even the
mother, disdaining the mention, yet understood the meaning, of despair.
And so among those to whom the subject was the most interesting in the
world, it was now the strict rule to avoid it with the lips, though the
eyes were often filled with it.

Faith Darling at first scorned this hard law. "It does seem so unkind,"
she used to say, "that even his name should be interdicted, as if he had
disgraced himself. If he is dead, he has died with honour. None who ever
saw him can doubt that. But he is not dead. He will come back to us,
perhaps next week, perhaps to-morrow, perhaps even while we are afraid
to speak of him. If it is for my sake that you behave thus, I am not
quite so weak as to require it."

The peculiar circumstances of the case had not only baffled enquiry,
but from the very beginning precluded it. The man with the keenest eyes,
sharpest nose, biggest ears, and longest head, of all the many sneaks
who now conduct what they call "special enquiries," could have done
nothing with a case like this, because there was no beginning it. Even
now, in fair peace, and with large knowledge added, the matter would
not have been easy; but in war universal, and blank ignorance, there was
nothing to be done but to sit down and think. And the story invited a
good deal of thinking, because of its disappointing turn.

During the negotiations for peace in 1801, and before any articles were
signed, orders were sent to the Cape of Good Hope for the return of a
regiment of the line, which had not been more than three months there.
But the Cape was likely to be restored to Holland, and two empty
transports returning from India were to call under convoy, and bring
home these troops. One of the officers was Captain Erle Twemlow, then
about twenty-five years of age, and under probation, by the Admiral's
decree, for the hand of the maiden whose heart had been his from a time
to itself immemorial. After tiresome days of impatience, the transports
arrived under conduct of a frigate; and after another week, the soldiers
embarked with fine readiness for their native land.

But before they had cleared the Bay, they met a brig-of-war direct
from Portsmouth, carrying despatches for the officer in command of the
troops, as well as for the captain of the frigate. Some barbarous tribes
on the coast of Guinea, the part that is called the Ivory Coast, had
plundered and burnt a British trading station within a few miles of Cape
Palmas, and had killed and devoured the traders. These natives must be
punished, and a stern example made, and a negro monarch of the name of
Hunko Jum must have his palace burned, if he possessed one; while his
rival, the king of the Crumbo tribe, whose name was Bandeliah, who had
striven to protect the traders, must be rewarded, and have a treaty
made with him, if he could be brought to understand it. Both sailors
and soldiers were ready enough to undertake this little spree, as they
called it, expecting to have a pleasant run ashore, a fine bit of sport
with the negroes, and perhaps a few noserings of gold to take home to
their wives and sweethearts.

But, alas! the reality was not so fine. The negroes who had done all
the mischief made off, carrying most of their houses with them; and
the palace of Hunko Jum, if he possessed one, was always a little
way further on. The Colonel was a stubborn man, and so was the
sea-captain--good Tories both, and not desirous to skulk out of scrapes,
and leave better men to pick up their clumsy breakages. Blue and red
vied with one another to scour the country, and punish the natives--if
only they could catch them--and to vindicate, with much strong language,
the dignity of Great Britain, and to make an eternal example.

But white bones are what the white man makes, under that slimy sunshine
and putrefying moon. Weary, slack-jointed, low-hearted as they were, the
deadly coast-fever fell upon them, and they shivered, and burned, and
groaned, and raved, and leaped into holes, or rolled into camp fires.
The Colonel died early, and the Naval Captain followed him; none stood
upon the order of their going; but man followed man, as in a funeral, to
the grave, until there was no grave to go to. The hand of the Lord
was stretched out against them; and never would one have come back
to England, out of more than five hundred who landed, except for the
manhood and vigour of a seaman, Captain Southcombe, of the transport
Gwalior.

This brave and sensible man had been left with his ship lying off to be
signalled for, in case of mishap, while his consort and the frigate were
despatched in advance to a creek, about twenty leagues westward, where
the land-force triumphant was to join them. Captain Southcombe, with
every hand he could muster, traced the unfortunate party inland, and
found them led many leagues in the wrong direction, lost among quagmires
breathing death, worn out with vermin, venom, and despair, and hemmed
in by savages lurking for the night, to rush in upon and make an end of
them. What need of many words? This man, and his comrades, did more than
any other men on the face of this earth could have done without British
blood in them. They buried the many who had died without hope of the
decent concealment which our life has had, and therefore our death longs
for; they took on their shoulders, or on cane wattles, the many who had
made up their minds to die, and were in much doubt about having done it,
and they roused up and worked up by the scruff of their loose places the
few who could get along on their own legs. And so, with great spirit,
and still greater patience, they managed to save quite as many as
deserved it.

Because, when they came within signal of the Gwalior, Captain
Southcombe, marching slowly with his long limp burdens, found ready on
the sand the little barrel, about as big as a kilderkin, of true and
unsullied Stockholm pitch, which he had taken, as his brother took
Madeira, for ripeness and for betterance, by right of change of climate.
With a little of this given choicely and carefully at the back of every
sick man's tongue, and a little more spread across the hollow of his
stomach, he found them so enabled in the afternoon that they were glad
to sit up in the bottom of a boat, and resign themselves to an All-wise
Providence.

Many survived, and blessed Captain Southcombe, not at first
cordially--for the man yet remains to be discovered who is grateful to
his doctor--but gradually more and more, and with that healthy action
of the human bosom which is called expectoration, whenever grateful
memories were rekindled by the smell of tar. But this is a trifle; many
useful lives were saved, and the Nation should have thanked Captain
Southcombe, but did not.

After these sad incidents, when sorrow for old friends was tempered by
the friendly warmth afforded by their shoes, a muster was held by the
Major in command, and there was only one officer who could neither
assert himself alive, nor be certified as dead. That one was Erle
Twemlow, and the regiment would rather have lost any other two officers.
Urgent as it was, for the safety of the rest, to fly with every feather
from this pestilential coast, sails were handed, boats despatched, and
dealings tried with Hunko Jum, who had reappeared with promptitude, the
moment he was not wanted. From this noble monarch, and his chiefs, and
all his nation, it was hard to get any clear intelligence, because their
own was absorbed in absorbing. They had found upon the sands a cask of
Admiralty rum, as well as a stout residue of unadulterated pitch. Noses,
and tongues, and historical romance--for a cask had been washed ashore
five generations since, and set up for a god, when the last drop was
licked--induced this brave nation to begin upon the rum; and fashion (as
powerful with them as with us) compelled them to drink the tar likewise,
because they had seen the white men doing it. This would have made it
hard to understand them, even if they had been English scholars, which
their ignorance of rum proved them not to be; and our sailors very
nearly went their way, after sadly ascertaining nothing, except that the
cask was empty.

But luckily, just as they were pushing off, a very large, black head
appeared from behind a vegetable-ivory tree, less than a quarter of a
mile away, and they knew that this belonged to Bandeliah, the revered
king of the Crumbos, who had evidently smelled rum far inland. With
him they were enabled to hold discourse, partly by signs, and partly by
means of an old and highly polished negro, who had been the rat-catcher
at the factory now consumed; and the conclusion, or perhaps the
confusion, arrived at from signs, grunts, grins, nods, waggings of
fingers and twistings of toes, translated grandiloquently into broken
English, was not far from being to the following effect:

To wit, that two great kings reigned inland, either of them able to eat
up Hunko Jum and Bandeliah at a mouthful, but both of them too proud to
set foot upon land that was flat, or in water that was salt. They ruled
over two great nations called the Houlas, and the Quackwas, going out of
sight among great rivers and lands with clear water standing over them.
And if the white men could not understand this, it was because they
drank salt-water.

Moreover, they said that of these two kings, the king of the Houlas was
a woman, the most beautiful ever seen in all the world, and able to
jump over any man's head. But the king of the Quackwas was a man, and
although he had more than two thousand wives, and was taller by a
joint of a bamboo than Bandeliah--whose stature was at least six feet
four--yet nothing would be of any use to him, unless he could come to an
agreement with Mabonga, the queen of the Houlas, to split a durra straw
with him. But Mabonga was coy, and understanding men, as well as jumping
over them, would grant them no other favour than the acceptance of their
presents. However, the other great king was determined to have her
for his wife, if he abolished all the rest, and for this reason he had
caught and kept the lost Englishman as a medicine-man; and it was not
likely that he would kill him, until he failed or succeeded.

To further enquiries Bandeliah answered that to rescue the prisoner was
impossible. If it had been his own newest wife, he would not push out a
toe for her. The great king Golo lived up in high places that overlooked
the ground, as he would these white men, and his armies went like wind
and spread like fire. None of his warriors ate white man's flesh; they
were afraid it would make them cowardly.

A brave heart is generally tender in the middle, to make up for being so
firm outside, even as the Durian fruit is. Captain Southcombe had walked
the poop-deck of the Gwalior many a time, in the cool of the night, with
Erle Twemlow for his companion, and had taken a very warm liking to him.
So that when the survivors of the regiment were landed at Portsmouth,
this brave sailor travelled at his own cost to Springhaven, and told
the Rector the whole sad story, making it clear to him beyond all doubt,
that nothing whatever could be done to rescue the poor young man from
those savages, or even to ascertain his fate. For the Quackwas were an
inland tribe, inhabiting vast regions wholly unknown to any European,
and believed to extend to some mighty rivers, and lakes resembling
inland seas.

Therefore Mr. Twemlow, in a deep quiet voice, asked Captain Southcombe
one question only--whether he might keep any hope of ever having, by
the mercy of the Lord, his only son restored to him. And the sailor
said--yes; the mistake would be ever to abandon such a hope, for at
the moment he least expected it, his son might stand before him. He
pretended to no experience of the western coast of Africa, and niggers
he knew were a very queer lot, acting according to their own lights,
which differed according to their natures. But he was free to say, that
in such a condition he never would think of despairing, though it might
become very hard not to do so, as time went on without bringing any
news. He himself had been in sad peril more than once, and once it
appeared quite hopeless; but he thought of his wife and his children at
home, and the Lord had been pleased to deliver him.

The parson was rebuked by this brave man's faith, who made no pretence
whatever to piety; and when they said Goodbye, their eyes were bright
with the goodwill and pity of the human race, who know trouble not
inflicted as yet upon monkeys. Mr. Twemlow's heart fell when the sailor
was gone, quite as if he had lost his own mainstay; but he braced
himself up to the heavy duty of imparting sad news to his wife and
daughter, and worst of all to Faith Darling. But the latter surprised
him by the way in which she bore it; for while she made no pretence
to hide her tears, she was speaking as if they were needless. And
the strangest thing of all, in Mr. Twemlow's opinion, was her curious
persistence about Queen Mabonga. Could any black woman--and she supposed
she must be that--be considered by white people to be beautiful? Had
Captain Southcombe ever even seen her; and if not, how could he be in
such raptures about her attractions? She did not like to say a word,
because he had been so kind and so faithful to those poor soldiers, whom
it was his duty to bring home safe; but if it had not been for that, she
might have thought that with so many children and a wife at Limehouse,
he should not have allowed his mind to dwell so fondly on the personal
appearance of a negress!

The Rector was astonished at this injustice, and began to revise his
opinion about Faith as the fairest and sweetest girl in all the world;
but Mrs. Twemlow smiled, when she had left off crying, and said that
she liked the dear child all the better for concluding that Ponga--or
whatever her name was--must of necessity and at the first glance fall
desperately in love with her own Erle. Then the Rector cried, "Oh, to
be sure, that explained it! But he never could have thought of that,
without his wife's assistance."

Two years now, two years of quiet patience, of busy cheerfulness now and
then, and of kindness to others always, had made of Faith Darling a lady
to be loved for a hundred years, and for ever. The sense of her sorrow
was never far from her, yet never brought near to any other by herself;
and her smile was as warm, and her eyes as bright, as if there had never
been a shadow on her youth. To be greeted by her, and to receive her
hand, and one sweet glance of her large goodwill, was enough to make an
old man feel that he must have been good at some time, and a young man
hope that he should be so by-and-by; though the tendency was generally
contented with the hope.



CHAPTER XXXIII

FAREWELL, DANIEL


Thoughtful for others as she always was, this lovely and loveable young
woman went alone, on the morning of the day that was so sorrowful for
her, to bear a little share of an elder lady's sorrow, and comfort her
with hopes, or at any rate with kindness. They had shed tears together
when the bad news arrived, and again when a twelvemonth had weakened
feeble hope; and now that another year had well-nigh killed it in old
hearts too conversant with the cruelties of the world, a little talk, a
tender look, a gentle repetition of things that had been said at least a
hundred times before, might enter by some subtle passage to the cells of
comfort. Who knows how the welted vine leaf, when we give it shade
and moisture, crisps its curves again, and breathes new bloom upon
its veinage? And who can tell how the flagging heart, beneath the cool
mantle of time, revives, shapes itself into keen sympathies again, and
spreads itself congenially to the altered light?

Without thinking about it, but only desiring to do a little good,
if possible, Faith took the private way through her father's grounds
leading to the rectory, eastward of the village. It was scarcely two
o'clock, and the sun was shining, and the air clear and happy, as it can
be in October. She was walking rather fast, for fear of dropping into
the brooding vein, when in the little fir plantation a man came forth on
her path, and stood within a few yards in front of her. She was startled
for an instant, because the place was lonely, and Captain Stubbard's
battery crew had established their power to repulse the French by
pounding their fellow-countrymen. But presently she saw that it was Dan
Tugwell, looking as unlike himself as any man can do (without the aid of
an artist), and with some surprise she went on to meet him.

Instead of looking bright, and bold, and fearless, with the freedom of
the sea in his open face, and that of the sun in his clustering curls,
young Daniel appeared careworn and battered, not only unlike his proper
self, but afraid of and ashamed of it. He stood not firmly on the
ground, nor lightly poised like a gallant sailor, but loosely and
clumsily like a ploughman who leaves off at the end of his furrow to
ease the cramp. His hat looked as if he had slept in it, and his eyes as
if he had not slept with them.

Miss Darling had always been fond of Dan, from the days when they played
on the beach together, in childhood's contempt of social law. Her old
nurse used to shut her eyes, after looking round to make sure that there
was "nobody coming to tell on them," while as pretty a pair of children
as the benevolent sea ever prattled with were making mirth and music
and romance along its margin. And though in ripe boyhood the unfaithful
Daniel transferred the hot part of his homage to the more coquettish
Dolly, Faith had not made any grievance of that, but rather thought all
the more of him, especially when he saved her sister's life in a very
rash boating adventure.

So now she went up to him with a friendly mind, and asked him softly and
pitifully what trouble had fallen upon him. At the sweet sound of her
voice, and the bright encouragement of her eyes, he felt as if he was
getting better.

"If you please, miss," he said, with a meek salutation, which proved his
panisic ideas to be not properly wrought into his system as yet--"if you
please, miss, things are very hard upon me."

"Is it money?" she asked, with the true British instinct that all common
woes have their origin there; "if it is, I shall be so glad that I
happen to have a good bit put by just now."

But Dan shook his head with such dignified sadness that Faith was quite
afraid of having hurt his feelings. "Oh, I might have known," she said,
"that it was nothing of that kind. You are always so industrious and
steady. But what can it be? Is it anything about Captain Stubbard
and his men, because I know you do not like them, and none of the old
Springhaven people seem to do so? Have you been obliged to fight with
any of them, Daniel?"

"No, miss, no. I would not soil my hand by laying it on any of such
chaps as those. Unless they should go for to insult me, I mean, or any
one belonging to me. No, miss, no. It is ten times worse than money, or
assault and battery."

"Well, Daniel, I would not on any account," said Faith, with her desire
of knowledge growing hotter by delay, as a kettle boils by waiting--"on
no account would I desire to know anything that you do not seem to think
my advice might help you to get out of. I am not in a hurry, but still
my time is getting rather late for what I have to do. By the time I come
back from the rectory, perhaps you will have made up your mind about it.
Till then, good-bye to you, Daniel."

He stepped out of the path, that she might go by, and only said, "Then
goodbye, miss; I shall be far away when you come back."

This was more than the best-regulated, or largest--which generally is
the worst-regulated--feminine mind could put up with. Miss Darling came
back, with her mind made up to learn all, or to know the reason why.

"Dan, this is unworthy of you," she said, with her sweet voice full of
sorrow. "Have I ever been hard or unkind to you, Dan, that you should be
so afraid of me?"

"No, miss, never. But too much the other way. That makes it so bad for
me to say good-bye. I am going away, miss. I must be off this evening. I
never shall see Springhaven no more, nor you, miss--nor nobody else."

"It is quite impossible, Dan. You must be dreaming. You don't look at
all like yourself to-day. You have been doing too much over-time. I have
heard all about it, and how very hard you work. I have been quite sorry
for you on Sundays, to see you in the gallery, without a bit of rest,
still obliged to give the time with your elbow. I have often been
astonished that your mother could allow it. Why, Dan, if you go
away, you will break her heart, and I don't know how many more in
Springhaven."

"No, miss, no. They very soon mends them. It is the one as goes away
that gets a deal the worst of it. I am sure I don't know whatever I
shall do, without the old work to attend to. But it will get on just as
well without me."

"No, it won't," replied Faith, looking at him very sadly, and shaking
her head at such cynical views; "nothing will be the same, when you are
gone, Daniel; and you ought to have more consideration."

"I am going with a good man, at any rate," he answered, "the
freest-minded gentleman that ever came to these parts. Squire Carne, of
Carne Castle, if you please, miss."

"Mr. Caryl Carne!" cried Faith, in a tone which made Daniel look at her
with some surprise. "Is he going away? Oh, I am so glad!"

"No, miss; not Squire Carne himself. Only to provide for me work far
away, and not to be beholden any more to my own people. And work where
a man may earn and keep his own money, and hold up his head while adoing
of it."

"Oh, Dan, you know more of such things than I do. And every man has a
right to be independent, and ought to be so, and I should despise
him otherwise. But don't be driven by it into the opposite extreme of
disliking the people in a different rank--"

"No, miss, there is no fear of that--the only fear is liking some of
them too much."

"And then," continued Faith, who was now upon one of her favourite
subjects past interruption, "you must try to remember that if you work
hard, so do we, or nearly all of us. From the time my father gets up in
the morning, to the time when he goes to bed at night, he has not got
five minutes--as he tells us every day--for attending to anything
but business. Even at dinner, when you get a good hour, and won't be
disturbed--now will you?"

"No, miss; not if all the work was tumbling down. No workman as respects
himself would take fifty-nine minutes for sixty."

"Exactly so; and you are right. You stand up for your rights. Your
dinner you have earned, and you will have it. And the same with your
breakfast, and your supper too, and a good long night to get over it. Do
you jump up in bed, before you have shut both eyes, hearing or fancying
you have heard the bell, that calls you out into the cold, and the dark,
and a wet saddle, from a warm pillow? And putting that by, as a trouble
of the war, and the chance of being shot at by dark tall men"--here
Faith shuddered at her own presentment, as the image of Caryl Carne
passed before her--"have you to consider, at every turn, that whatever
you do--though you mean it for the best--will be twisted and turned
against you by some one, and made into wickedness that you never dreamed
of, by envious people, whose grudge against you is that they fancy you
look down on them? Though I am sure of one thing, and that is that my
father, instead of looking down upon any honest man because he is poor,
looks up to him; and so do I; and so does every gentleman or lady.
And any one who goes about to persuade the working-people--as they are
called, because they have to use their hands more--that people like
my father look down upon them, and treat them like dogs, and all those
wicked stories--all I can say is, any man who does it deserves to be put
in the stocks, or the pillory, or even to be transported as an enemy to
his country."

Dan looked at the lady with great surprise. He had always known her
to be kind and gentle, and what the old people called "mannersome," to
every living body that came near her. But to hear her put, better than
he could put them, his own budding sentiments (which he thought to be
new, with the timeworn illusion of young Liberals), and to know from her
bright cheeks, and brighter eyes, that her heart was in every word of
it, and to feel himself rebuked for the evil he had thought, and the
mischief he had given ear to--all this was enough to make him angry with
himself, and uncertain how to answer.

"I am certain that you never thought of such things," Miss Darling
continued, with her gentle smile returning; "you are much too
industrious and sensible for that. But I hear that some persons are now
in our parish who make it their business, for some reason of their own,
to spread ill-will and jealousy and hatred everywhere, to make us all
strangers and foes to one another, and foreigners to our own country. We
have enemies enough, by the will of the Lord (as Mr. Twemlow says), for
a sharp trial to us, and a lesson to our pride, and a deep source of
gratitude, and charity, and good-will--though I scarcely understand how
they come in--and, above all, a warning to us to stick together, and not
exactly hate, but still abhor, everybody who has a word to say against
his own country at a time like this. And ten thousand times as much,
if he is afraid to say it, but crawls with crafty poison into simple
English bosoms."

"There is nothing of that, miss, to my knowledge, here," the young
fisherman answered, simply; "Springhaven would never stand none of
that; and the club drinks the health of King George every night of their
meeting, and stamps on the floor for him. But I never shall help to do
that any more. I must be going, miss--and thank you."

"Then you will not tell me why you go? You speak of it as if it was
against your will, and yet refuse to say what drives you. Have you been
poaching, Dan? Ah, that is it! But I can beg you off immediately. My
father is very good even to strangers, and as for his doing anything to
you--have no fear, Dan; you shall not be charged with it, even if you
have been in Brown Bushes."

Brown Bushes, a copse about a mile inland, was the Admiral's most sacred
spot, when peace allowed him to go shooting, because it was beloved by
woodcocks, his favourite birds both for trigger and for fork. But Daniel
only shook his head; he had not been near Brown Bushes. Few things
perhaps will endure more wear than feminine curiosity. But when a trap
has been set too long, it gets tongue-bound, and grows content without
contents.

"Daniel Tugwell," said Miss Darling, severely, "if you have not been
fighting, or conspiring against society, or even poaching, I can well
understand that you may have reasons for not desiring my assistance or
advice. And I only wonder that under such circumstances you took the
trouble to wait for me here, as you appear to have done. Good-bye."

"Oh, don't be cross, miss! please not to be cross," cried Daniel,
running after her; "I would tell you all about it this very instant
moment, if it were behoving to me. You will hear all about it when you
get to Parson Twemlow's, for I saw mother going there, afore she had her
breakfast, though I was not concernable to let her see me. If the Squire
had been home, she would have gone up to Hall first. No, miss, no. I
done nothing to be ashamed of; and if you turn back on me, you'll be
sorry afterwards."

Faith was more apt to think that she had been too sharp than to be so in
behaviour to any one. She began at once, with a blush for her bad ideas,
to beg Dan's pardon, and he saw his way to say what he was come to say.

"You always were too good, Miss Faith, too good to be hard upon any one,
and I am sure you have not been hard upon me; for I know that I look
disrespectable. But I couldn't find words to say what I wanted, until
you spoke so soft and kind. And perhaps, when I say it, you'll be angry
with me, and think that I trespass upon you."

"No, I won't, Dan; I will promise you that. You may tell me, as if I
were Mr. Swipes, who says that he never lost his temper in his life,
because he is always right, and other people wrong."

"Well, miss, I'm afraid that I am not like that, and that makes me feel
so uncomfortable with the difference between us. Because it is all about
Miss Dolly, and I might seem so impudent. But you know that I would
go through fire and water to serve Miss Dolly, and I durstn't go away
forever without one message to her. If I was in her own rank of life,
God Almighty alone should part us, whether I was rich or whether I
was poor, and I'd like to see any one come near her! But being only an
ignorant fellow without any birth or book-learning, I am not such a fool
as to forget that the breadth of the world lies between us. Only I may
wish her well, all the same--I may wish her well and happy, miss?"

"Certainly you may." Faith blushed at the passion of his words, and
sighed at their despair. "You have saved her life. She respects and
likes you, the same as my father and I do. You may trust me with your
message, Dan."

"I suppose it would not be the proper thing for me to see her once
before I go; just for one minute, with you standing by her, that I
might--that she might--"

"No," answered Faith, though it grieved her to say it; "we must not
think of that, Dan. It could do you no good, and it might do her harm.
But if you have any message, to be useful to her--"

"The useful part of it must be through you, miss, and not sent to her at
all, I think, or it would be very impertinent. The kind part is to give
her my good-bye, and say that I would die to help her. And the useful
part is for yourself. For God's sake, miss, do keep Miss Dolly out of
the way of Squire Carne! He hath a tongue equal to any woman, with the
mind of a man beneath it. He hath gotten me body and soul; because I
care not the skin of a dab what befalls me. But oh, miss, he never
must get Miss Dolly. He may be a very good man in some ways, and he is
wonderful free-minded; but any young lady as marries him had better have
leaped into the Culver Hole. Farewell, miss, now that I have told you."
He was gone before Faith could even offer him her hand, but he took
off his hat and put one finger to his curls, as he looked back from
the clearing; and her eyes filled with tears, as she waved her hand and
answered, "Farewell, Daniel!"



CHAPTER XXXIV

CAULIFLOWERS


"They cocks and hens," Mr. Swipes used to say in the earlier days of
his empire--"bless you, my lord, they cocks and hens knows a good bit of
gardening as well as I do. They calls one another, and they comes to see
it, and they puts their heads to one side and talks about it, and they
say to one another, 'Must be something good there, or he wouldn't have
made it so bootiful'; and then up go their combs, and they tear away
into it, like a passel of Scotchmen at a scratching-match. If your
lordship won't put a lock on the door, you will never taste a bit of
good vegetable."

Admiral Darling was at length persuaded to allow Mr. Swipes the
privilege of locking himself in the kitchen-garden; and then, for
the purpose of getting at him, a bell was put in the gable of the
tool-house, with a long handle hanging outside the door in the courtyard
towards the kitchen. Thus he was able to rest from his labours, without
incurring unjust reproach; and gradually as he declined, with increasing
decision, to answer the bell when it rang, according to the highest laws
of nature it left off ringing altogether. So Mr. Swipes in the walled
kitchen-garden sought peace and ensued it.

One quiet November afternoon, when the disappearance of Dan Tugwell had
been talked out and done with, a sad mishap befell this gardener, during
the performance, or, to speak more correctly, the contemplation of his
work. A yawn of such length and breadth and height and profundity took
possession of him that the space it had so well occupied still retained
the tender memory. In plainer words, he had ricked his jaw, not from
general want of usage, but from the momentary excess.

"Sarves me right," he muttered, "for carrying on so, without nothing
inside of 'un. Must go to doctor, quick step, and no mistake."

In this strait he set off for John Prater's (for it was a matter of
luck to get ale at the Hall, and in such emergency he must not trust to
fortune), and passing hastily through the door, left it unlocked behind
him. Going down the hill he remembered this, and had a great mind to go
back again, but the unanimous demand of his system for beer impelled
him downwards. He never could get up that hill again without hydraulic
pressure.

All might have gone well, and all would have gone well, except for the
grievous mistake of Nature in furnishing women with eyes whose keenness
is only exceeded by that of their tongues. The cook at the Hall, a
superior person--though lightly esteemed by Mrs. Cloam--had long been
ambitious to have a voice in the selection of her raw material. If
anything was good, who got the credit? Mr. Swipes, immediately. But if
everything was bad, as more often happened, who received the blame? Mary
Knuckledown. Her lawful name was "Knuckleup," but early misfortunes
had reduced her to such mildness that her name became converted--as she
expressed it--in harmony with her nature. Facts having generally been
adverse to her, she found some comfort in warm affection for their
natural enemies and ever-victorious rivals--words. Any words coming with
a brave rush are able to scatter to the winds the strongest facts; but
big words--as all our great orators know--knock them at once on the head
and cremate them. But the cook was a kind-hearted woman, and liked both
little and big words, without thinking of them.

She had put down her joint, a good aitch-bone, for roasting--than which,
if well treated, are few better treats--to revolve in the distant salute
of the fire (until it should ripen for the close embrace, where the
tints of gold and chestnut vie), when it came into her provident mind
with a flash that neither horse-radish nor cauliflower had yet been
delivered by Mr. Swipes. She must run out and pull the long handle in
the yard, and remind him gently of her needs, for she stood in some awe
of his character, as a great annalist of little people's lives.

Leaving the small dog Dandolo with stern orders to keep the jack
steadily going, with a stick on the dresser to intimidate one eye, and
a sop in the dripping-pan to encourage the other, Mrs. Knuckledown ran
into the court-yard, just in time to see the last swing of the skirt of
that noble gardener's coat, as he turned the wall corner on his march
towards the tap. She longed to call him back, but remembered just in
time how fearfully cross that had made him once before, and she was
yielding with a sigh to her usual bad luck, when an eager and triumphant
cluck made her look about. The monarch and patriarch of cocks, a
magnificent old Dorking, not idly endowed with five claws for the
scratch, had discovered something great, and was calling all his wives,
and even his sons, as many as yet crowed not against him, to share this
special luck of fortune, or kind mood of Providence. In a minute or two
he had levied an army, some half-hundred strong, and all spurring the
land, to practise their liberal claws betimes for the gorgeous joy of
scattering it. Then the grand old cock, whose name was "Bill," made
them all fall in behind him, and strutting till he almost tumbled on his
head, led the march of destruction to the garden door.

But, alas, he had waited for his followers too long, eager as they were
for rapine. When he came to his portal of delight, there stood, stout
as Britannia herself, and sweeping a long knife for her trident, the
valiant cook, to protect her cauliflowers. "You be off, Bill," she
cried. "I don't want to hurt you, because you have been a good bird in
your time, but now you be growing outrageous." Bill made a rush for it,
but losing a slice of his top-heavy comb, retired.

"Now's my opportunity," said Mary to herself, "for to cut my own cabbage
for once in my life, and to see what that old beast does in here. Oh my!
The old villain, and robber that he is! Bamboozlement is the language
for it." Embezzlement she should have said, and to one who knew as she
did how badly the table of the master was supplied, the suspicion was
almost unavoidable. For here she saw in plenteous show, and appetising
excellence, a many many of the very things she had vainly craved from
Mr. Swipes. And if it was so now in November, what must it have been two
months ago? Why, poor Miss Faith--Mary Knuckledown's idol, because of
her kindness and sad disappointment--had asked a little while ago for a
bit of salsify, not for herself--she never thought of herself--but for a
guest who was fond of it; also the Admiral himself had called out for a
good dish of skirrets. But no; Mr. Swipes said the weather and the black
blight had destroyed them. Yet here they were; Mary could swear to them
both, with their necks above-ground, as if waiting for the washing!
Cauliflowers also (as the cooks call broccoli of every kind), here they
were in abundance, ten long rows all across the middle square, very
beautiful to behold. Some were just curling in their crinkled coronets,
to conceal the young heart that was forming, as Miss in her teens draws
her tresses around the first peep of her own palpitation; others were
showing their broad candid bosoms, with bold sprigs of nature's green
lace crisping round; while others had their ripe breasts shielded from
the air by the breakage of their own broad fringe upon them.

Mary knew that this was done by Mr. Swipes himself, because he had
brought her some in that condition; but the unsuspicious master had
accepted his assurance that "they was only fit for pigs as soon as the
break-stalk blight come on 'em"; and then the next day he had bought
the very same, perhaps at ninepence apiece, from Mr. Cheeseman's window,
trimmed and shorn close, like the head of a monk. "I'll see every bit of
'un, now that I be here." Mrs. Knuckledown spoke aloud, to keep up her
courage. "Too bad for that old beast to keep us locked out from the very
place us ought to have for pommylarding, because he saith all the fruit
would go into our pockets. And what goes into his'en, I should like to
know? Suppose I lock him out, as he hath locked us out. He won't be back
yet for half an hour, anyway. Wish I could write--what a list I would
make, if it was only of the things he denieth he hath got!"

Strong in her own honesty and loyalty to her master, the cook turned the
key in the lock, and left Swipes to ring himself into his own garden, as
he always called it. That is to say, if he should return, which was not
very likely, before she had time for a good look round. But she saw
such a sight of things she had longed for, to redeem her repute in the
vegetable way, as well as such herbs for dainty stuffing, of which she
knew more than cooks generally do, that her cap nearly came off her head
with amazement, and time flew by unheeded. Until she was startled and
terrified sadly by the loud, angry clang of the bell in the gable. Not
only was Mr. Swipes come back, but he was in a furious rage outside,
though his fury was chilled with some shivers of fear. At first, when he
found the door locked against him, he thought that the Admiral must have
come home unexpected, and failing to find him at work, had turned the
key against him, while himself inside. If so, his situation would be in
sad peril, and many acres of lies would be required to redeem it. For
trusting in his master's long times of absence, and full times of public
duty when at home, Mr. Swipes had grown more private stock, as he
called it, and denied the kitchen more, than he had ever done before,
in special preparation for some public dinners about to be given at the
Darling Arms, by military officers to naval, and in turn by the latter
to the former; for those were hospitable days, when all true Britons
stuck their country's enemy with knife and fork, as well as sword.

But learning, as he soon did at the stables, that the Admiral was still
away, and both the young ladies were gone for a ride with Miss Twemlow,
the gardener came back in a rage, and rang the bell. "Oh, whatever shall
I do?" the trembling Mary asked herself. "Best take the upper hand if
I can. He's a thief, and a rogue, and he ought to be frighted. Does
he know I can't write? No, for certain he dothn't. One of his big lies
about me was a letter I wrote to poor Jonadab."

With her courage renewed by the sense of that wrong, she opened the
door, and stood facing Mr. Swipes, with a piece of paper in her hand,
which a woman's quick wit bade her fetch from her pocket.

"Halloa, madam!" the gardener exclaimed, with a sweep of his hat and
a low salute, which he meant to be vastly satirical; "so your ladyship
have come to take the air in my poor garden, instead of tending the
spit. And what do your ladyship think of it, so please you? Sorry as I
had any dung about, but hadn't no warning of this royal honour."

"Sir," said Mrs. Knuckledown, pretending to be frightened a great deal
more than she was--"oh, sir, forgive me! I am sure I meant no harm. But
the fowls was running in, and I ran up to stop them."

"Oh, that was how your ladyship condescended; and to keep out the fowls,
you locked out me! Allow me the royal and unapparelled honour of showing
your ladyship to her carriage; and if I ever catch her in here again,
I'll pitch you down the court-yard pretty quick. Be off, you dirty
baggage, or I won't answer for it now!"

"Oh, you are too kind, Mr. Swipes; I am sure you are too gentle, to
forgive me, like of that! And the little list I made of the flowers
in your garden, I shall put it in a teapot till the Quality wants
something."

Mr. Swipes gave a start, and his over-watered eyes could not meet those
of Mary, which were mildly set upon them. "List!" he muttered--"little
list! What do you please to mean, Miss?"

"Well, the 'dirty baggage' means nothing unparalleled, sir, but just the
same as anybody else might do. Some people calls it a Inventionary, and
some an Emmarandum, and some a Catalogue. It don't interfere with you,
Mr. Swipes; only the next time as Miss Dolly asks, the same as she was
doing the other day--"

"Oh, she was, was she? The little -----!" Mr. Swipes used a word
concerning that young lady which would have insured his immediate
discharge, together with one from the Admiral's best toe. "And pray,
what was her observations, ma'am?"

"It was Charles told me, for he was waiting at dinner. Seems that the
turnip was not to her liking, though I picked out the very best of what
few you sent in, so she looks up from her plate, and she says: 'Well, I
cannot understand it! To me it is the greatest mistress in the world,'
she says, 'that we never can get a bit of vegetable fit for eating.
We've got,' she says, 'a kitchen-garden close upon two acres, and a man
who calls himself head gardener, by the name of Swipes'--my pardoning
to you, Mr. Swipes, for the young lady's way of saying it--'and his two
sons, and his nephew, and I dare say soon his grandsons. Well, and what
comes of it?' says she. 'Why, that we never has a bit of any kind
of vegetable, much less of fruit, fit to lay a fork to!' Charles was
a-pricking up his ears at this, because of his own grumbles, and the
master saw it, and he says, 'Hush, Dolly!' But she up and answers
spiritly: 'No, I won't hush, papa, because it is too bad. Only you
leave it to me,' she says, 'and if I don't keep the key from that old
thief--excoose me, Mr. Swipes, for her shocking language--'and find out
what he locks up in there, my name's not Horatia Dorothy Darling.' Oh,
don't let it dwell so on your mind, Mr. Swipes! You know what young
ladies be. They says things random, and then goes away and never
thinks no more about it. Oh, don't be upset so--or I shall have to call
Charles!"

Mr. Swipes took his hat off to ease his poor mind, which had lost its
way altogether in other people's wickedness. "May I never set eyes on
that young man no more!" he exclaimed, with more pathetic force than
reasoning power. "Either him or me quits this establishment to-morrow.
Ah, I know well why he left his last place, and somebody else shall know
to-morrow!"

"What harm have poor Charles done?" the cook asked sharply; "it
wasn't him that said it; it was Miss Dolly. Charley only told me
conferentially."

"Oh, I know what 'conferentially' means, when anything once gets among
the womenkind! But I know a thing or two about Miss Dolly, as will give
her enough to do at home, I'll warrant, without coming spying after me
and my affairs. Don't you be surprised, cook, whatever you may hear, as
soon as ever the Admiral returneth. He's a soft man enough in a number
of ways, but he won't put up with everything. The nasty little vixen, if
she don't smart for this!"

"Oh, don't 'e, now don't 'e, Mr. Swipes, that's a dear!" cried the
soft-hearted Mrs. Knuckledown; "don't 'e tell on her, the poor young
thing. If her hath been carrying on a bit with some of them young
hofficers, why, it's only natteral, and her such a young booty. Don't 'e
be Dick-tell-tale, with a name to it, or without. And perhaps her never
said half the things that Charles hath contributed to her." The truth
was that poor Dolly had said scarcely one of them.

"Bain't no young hofficer," Mr. Swipes replied, contemptuously; "ten
times wuss than that, and madder for the Admiral. Give me that paper,
Miss, and then, perhaps, I'll tell 'e. Be no good to you, and might be
useful to me."

Mary could not give up the paper, because it was a letter from one of
her adorers, which, with the aid of Jenny Shanks, she had interpreted.
"No, no," she said, with a coaxing look; "by-and-by, Mr. Swipes, when
you have told me who it is, and when you have promised not to tell on
poor Miss Dolly. But nobody sha'n't see it, without your permission.
We'll have another talk about that to-morrow. But, oh my! look at the
time you have kept me, with all the good things to make a hangel's
mouth water! Bring me two cauliflowers in two seconds. My beef will want
basting long ago; and if Dandy hathn't left his job, he'll be pretty
well roasted hisself by now."

Mr. Swipes went muttering up the walk, and was forced to cut two of the
finest cauliflowers intended for Cheeseman's adornment to-morrow. This
turned his heart very sour again, and he shook his head, growling in
self-commune: "You see if I don't do it, my young lady. You speaks again
me, behind my back, and I writes again you, before your face; though, in
course, I need not put my name to it."



CHAPTER XXXV

LOYAL, AYE LOYAL


One of the dinners at the Darling Arms, and perhaps the most brilliant
and exciting of the whole, because even the waiters understood the
subject, was the entertainment given in the month of December, A.D.
1803, not only by the officers of two regiments quartered for the time
near Stonnington, but also by all the leading people round about those
parts, in celebration of the great work done by His Majesty's 38-gun
frigate Leda. Several smaller dinners had been consumed already, by way
of practice, both for the cooks and the waiters and the chairman, and
Mr. John Prater, who always stood behind him, with a napkin in one hand
and a corkscrew in the other, and his heart in the middle, ready either
to assuage or stimulate. As for the guests, it was always found that no
practice had been required.

"But now, but now"--as Mr. Prater said, when his wife pretended to make
nothing of it, for no other purpose than to aggravate him, because she
thought that he was making too much money, in proportion to what he was
giving her--"now we shall see what Springhaven can do for the good of
the Country and the glory of herself. Two bottles and a half a head is
the lowest that can be charged for, with the treble X outside, and the
punch to follow after. His lordship is the gentleman to keep the bottle
going."

For the Lord-Lieutenant of the county, the popular Marquis of Southdown,
had promised to preside at this grand dinner; and everybody knew what
that meant. "Short tongue and long throat," was his lordship's motto in
the discharge of all public business, and "Bottle to the gentleman on
my left!" was the practical form of his eulogies. In a small space like
this, there would be no chance for a sober-minded guest to escape his
searching eye, and Blyth Scudamore (appointed to represent the officers
of the Leda, and therefore the hero of the evening) felt as happy as a
dog being led to be drowned, in view of this liquid ordeal. For Blyth
was a temperate and moderate young man, neither such a savage as to turn
his wine to poison, nor yet so Anti-Christian as to turn it into water.

Many finer places had been offered for the feast, and foremost amongst
them the Admiral's house; but the committee with sound judgment had
declined them all. The great point was to have a place within easy reach
of boats, and where gallant naval officers could be recalled at once,
if the French should do anything outrageous, which they are apt to do
at the most outrageous time. But when a partition had been knocked down,
and the breach tacked over with festoons of laurel, Mr. Prater was quite
justified in rubbing his red hands and declaring it as snug a box
as could be for the business. There was even a dark elbow where the
staircase jutted out, below the big bressemer of the partition, and made
a little gallery for ladies to hear speeches, and behold the festive
heroes while still fit to be beholden. And Admiral Darling, as
vice-chairman, entering into facts masculine and feminine, had promised
his daughters and Miss Twemlow, under charge of the rector's wife and
Mrs. Stubbard, a peep at this heroic scene, before it should become too
convivial. The rescuers also of the Blonde, the flesh and bone, without
which the master brain must still have lain stranded, were to have a
grand supper in the covered skittle-alley, as the joints came away from
their betters, this lower deck being in command of Captain Tugwell, who
could rouse up his crew as fast as his lordship roused his officers.

Admiral Darling had been engaged of late in the service of his Country
so continually, and kept up and down the great roads so much, or in and
out of any little port where sailors grew, that his own door had nearly
forgotten his shadow, and his dining-room table the reflection of his
face. For, in those days, to keep a good table implied that the table
must be good, as well as what was put upon it; and calico spread upon
turpentine was not yet considered the proper footing for the hospitable
and social glass.

"When shall Twemlow and I have a hobnob again?" the Admiral asked
himself many a time. "How the dear old fellow loves to see the image of
his glass upon the table, and the ruby of his port reflected! Heigho!
I am getting very stiff in the back, and never a decent bit of dinner
for'ard. And as for a glass of good wine--oh Lord! my timbers will be
broken up, before it comes to mend them. And when I come home for even
half an hour, there is all this small rubbish to attend to. I must
have Frank home, to take this stuff off my hands, or else keep what I
abominate, a private secretary."

Among the pile of letters that had lain unopened was one which he left
to the last, because he disliked both the look and the smell of it. A
dirty, ugly scrawl it was, bulged out with clumsy folding, and dabbed
with wax in the creases. With some dislike he tore it open; and the
dislike became loathing, as he read:


"Hon'd Sir. These foo lines comes from a umble but arty frend to
command. Rekwesting of your pardon sir, i have kep a hi same been father
of good dawters on the goings on of your fammeley. Miss Faith she is
a hangel sir but Miss Dolly I fere no better than she ort to be, and
wonderful fond of been noticed. I see her keeping company and carryin on
dreadful with a tall dark young man as meens no good and lives to Widow
Shankses. Too nites running when the days was short she been up to the
cornder of your grounds to meat he there ever so long. Only you hask her
if you don't believe me and wash her fase same time sir. Too other peple
besides me nose it. Excoose hon'd sir this trubble from your obejiant
servant

"FAX AND NO MISSTAKE."


The Admiral's healthy face turned blue with rage and contempt, and he
stamped with his heel, as if he had the writer under it. To write a
stabbing letter, and to dare to deal the stab, and yet fear to show the
hand that deals it, was at that time considered a low thing to do. Even
now there are people who so regard it, though a still better tool for a
blackguard--the anonymous post-card--is now superseding it.

All the old man's pleasure, and cheer, and comfort, and joy in having
one day at home at last, were dashed and shattered and turned into
wretched anxiety by this vile scrawl. He meant to have gone down, light
of heart, with a smiling daughter upon either arm, to the gallant little
festival where everybody knew him, and every one admired and loved him.
His two pretty daughters would sit upstairs, watching from a bow-window
(though themselves unseen) all the dashing arrivals and the grand
apparel. Then when the Marquis made his speech, and the King and Queen
and Royal Family rode upon the clouds, and the grandeur of Great Britain
was above the stars of heaven, the ladies in the gallery would venture
just to show themselves, not for one moment with a dream of being looked
at, but from romantic loyalty, and the fervour of great sentiments.
People pretending not to know would ask, "Who are those very lovely
ladies?" And he would make believe to know nothing at all about it, but
his heart would know whether he knew it or not.

On the very eve of all this well-earned bliss, when it would have
refreshed his fagged body and soul--which were now not so young as they
used to be--to hear from some scoundrel without a name, that his pet
child, the life of his life, was no better than she ought to be, which
being said of a woman means that she is as bad as she can be! This fine
old gentleman had never received such a cowardly back-handed blow till
now, and for a moment he bent under it.

Then, greatly ashamed of himself, he arose, and with one strong word,
which even Mr. Twemlow might have used under such provocation, he trod
the vile stuff under foot, and pitched it with the fire-tongs into the
fire. After this he felt better, and resolving most stoutly that he
never would let it cross his mind again, made a light and cheerful
answer to the profligate one--his young girl who came seeking him.

"Oh, father, and you ought to be dressed!" she cried. "Shall we keep His
Majesty the Lord-Lieutenant waiting? Don't let us go at all. Let us stop
at home, papa. We never see you now, more than once in a month; and we
don't want to see you from a staircase hole, where we mustn't even blow
a kiss to you. I have got such a lot of things to tell you, dear father;
and I could make you laugh much more than they will."

"But, my darling--all these grand things?" said the father, gently
fingering but half afraid to look at her, because of what had been in
his own mind; "the sweetest Navy blue, and the brightest Army red, and
little bits of silver lace so quiet in between them! I am sure I don't
know what to call a quarter of it; but the finest ship ever seen under
full sail, with the sun coming through her from her royals to her
courses--"

"Now, papa, don't be so ridiculous. You know that I am not a fine ship
at all, but only a small frigate, about eighteen guns at the outside, I
should say--though she would be a sloop of war, wouldn't she?--and come
here at any rate for you to command her, if you are not far too lofty an
Admiral."

"Do you love your old father, my dear?" said he, being carried beyond
his usual state by the joy in her eyes as she touched him.

"What a shame to ask me such a question? Oh, papa, I ought to say, 'Do
you love me?' when you go away weeks and months almost together! Take
that, papa; and be quite ashamed of yourself."

She swept all her breast-knots away anyhow--that had taken an hour to
arbitrate--and flung back her hair that would never be coiled, and with
a flash of tears leaping into laughing eyes, threw both arms round her
father's neck, and pressed her cool sweet lips to his, which were not at
all in the same condition.

"There, see what you've done for me now!" she cried. "It will take
three-quarters of an hour, papa, to make me look fit to be looked at
again. The fashions are growing so ridiculous now--it is a happy thing
for us that we are a hundred years behind them, as Eliza Twemlow had the
impudence to say; and really, for the daughter of a clergyman--"

"I don't care that for Eliza Twemlow," the Admiral exclaimed, with a
snap of his thumb. "Let her show herself as much as there is demand for.
Or rather, what I mean to say is, let Miss Twemlow be as beautiful as
nature has made her, my dear; and no doubt that is very considerable.
But I like you to be different; and you are. I like you to be simple,
and shy, and retiring, and not to care twopence what any one thinks of
you, so long as your father is contented."

Dolly looked at her father, as if there were no other man in the world
for the moment. Then her conscience made her bright eyes fall, as she
whispered: "To be sure, papa. I only put these things on to please you;
and if you don't like them, away they go. Perhaps I should look nicer in
my great-aunt's shawl. And my feet would be warmer, oh ever so much! I
know where it is, and if you prefer the look of it--"

"No, no!" cried the simple old father, as the girl tripped away in hot
haste to seek for it; "I forbid you to make such a guy of yourself. You
must not take my little banter, darling, in such a matter-of-fact way,
or I must hold my tongue."

"Thank God," he continued to himself, as Miss Dolly ran away, to repair
her damages; "the simple little soul thinks of nobody but me! How could
I be such a fool as to imagine harm of her? Why, she is quite a child, a
bigger child than I am. I shall enjoy my evening all the more for this."

And truly there seemed to be no reason why all the guests at that great
festival, save those who had speeches to make, should not enjoy their
evening thoroughly. Great preparations had been made, and goodly
presents contributed; plenty of serving-men would be there, and John
Prater (now growing white-headed and portly) was becoming so skilful a
caterer that if anything was suggested to him, he had always thought of
it long ago. The only grief was that the hour should be so late--five
o'clock, an unchristian time, as they said, for who could have manners
after starving so long?

There was some sense in this; but the unreasonable lateness of the hour
could not be helped, because the Lord-Lieutenant had to wait upon the
King at eight o'clock that morning. That he could do so, and yet be in
Springhaven by five, seemed almost impossible; for only ten years ago
the journey took two days. But the war seemed to make everything go
quicker, and it was no use to wonder at anything. Only if everything
else went quicker, why should dinner (the most important of them all)
come slower? And as yet there was nobody to answer this; though perhaps
there is no one to ask it now.

All things began very beautifully. The young ladies slipped in
unobserved, and the elder blessings of mankind came after, escorting
themselves with dignity. Then the heroes who had fought, and the
gallants who had not had the luck yet, but were eager for it, came
pleasantly clanking in, well girt to demolish ox and sheep, like Ajax,
in lack of loftier carnage. The rector said grace, and the Marquis amen,
and in less than two minutes every elbow was up, and every mouth at
business. There was very little talking for the first half hour. In
those days emptiness was not allowed to make the process of filling a
misery.

While these fine fellows were still in the prime of their feeding, bent
over and upon it, two men with empty stomachs, and a long way between
them and their victuals, stood afar regarding them. That is to say, just
far enough to be quite out of sight from the windows, in the gloom of
the December evening; but at the same time near enough, to their own
unhappiness, to see and even smell the choice affairs across the road.

"For what, then, hast thou brought me here?" the shorter man sharply
asked the tall one, both being in an uncomfortable place in a hedge, and
with briars that scratched them. "Is it to see other people eat, when
to eat myself is impossible? You have promised to show me a very fine
thing, and leagues have I traversed to please you. Fie, then, what is
it? To see eat, eat, eat, and drink, drink, drink, and have nothing for
myself!"

"My friend," said the tall man, "I have not brought you here with any
desire to improve your appetite, which is always abundant, and cannot be
gratified for several hours, and with poor stuff then, compared to what
you are beholding. Those men are feeding well. You can see how they
enjoy it. There is not a morsel in their mouths that has not a very
choice flavour of its own distinguished relish. See, there is the
venison just waiting to be carved, and a pheasant between every two of
them. If only the wind was a little more that way, and the covers taken
off the sauce-boats, and the gravy--ah, do I perceive a fine fragrance,
or is it a desirous imagination?"

"Bah! you are of the cold-blood, the wicked self-command. For me it is
either to rush in, or rush away. No longer can I hold my nose and mouth.
And behold they have wine--grand wine--the wine of Sillery, of Medoc, of
Barsac, and of Burgundy! By the bottles I can tell them, and by all the
Saints--"

"Be not so excited, for you cannot smack the lips. It is too late now to
envy them their solids, because they have made such speed with them. But
listen, my dear friend"--and here the tall man whispered into the ear of
his brisk companion, who danced with delight in the ungenial hedge, till
his face was scarred with brambles.

"It is magnificent, it is droll, it is what you call in England one
grand spree, though of that you understand not the signification. But,
my faith, it is at the same time barbarous, and almost too malignant."

"Too benevolent Charron," said the tall stern man, "that shall rest
upon my conscience, not on yours. The object is not to spoil their noisy
revel, but to gain instruction of importance. To obtain a clear idea
of the measures they adopt--ah, you see, you are as quick as lightning.
This urgent message is upon official paper, which I have taken from the
desk of that very stupid Stubbard. Take the horse Jerry holds at the
corner, and the officer's hat and cape provided are ample disguise for
so dark a night. Take the lane behind the hills, and gallop two miles
eastward, till you come to the shore again, then turn back towards the
village by way of the beach, and you will meet the Coast-guard on duty,
a stupid fellow called Vickers. Your horse by that time will be piping
and roaring: he can go like the wind, but his own is broken. The moment
you see Vickers, begin to swear at your horse. I have practised you in
d--ns, for an emergency."

"Ten thousand thunders, I can say d--n now to equal and surpass the
purest born of all Britons."

"Not so loud, my friend, until by-and-by. The Coast-guard will come
to you, and you pull up with your horse hanging down his head, as if
dead-beaten. Using your accomplishment again, you say: 'Here, take
this on to Admiral Darling. My nag is quite done, and I must get to
Stonnington to call Colonel James. For your life, run, run. You'll get a
guinea, if you look sharp.' Before he can think of it, turn your horse,
and make back to the lane, as if for Stonnington. But instead of that,
gallop back to our ruins; and we'll go up the hill, and see what comes
of it."

"It is very good, it is magnificent. But will not the sentinel perceive
my voice and accent?"

"Not he; he is a very honest and therefore stupid fellow. Give him no
time, answer no questions. Be all in a rush, as you so generally are. I
would do it myself, but I am too well known. Say, will you undertake it?
It will be a fine joke for you."

About half an hour after this, the Lord-Lieutenant having hammered on
the table with an empty bottle, stood up to propose the chief toast
of the evening--the gallant crew of the Leda, and the bold sailors of
Springhaven. His lordship had scarcely had a bottle and a half, and
was now in the prime of his intellect. A very large man, with a long
brocaded coat of ruby-coloured cloth, and white satin breeches, a
waistcoat of primrose plush emblazoned with the Union-jack (then the
popular device) in gorgeous silks with a margin of bright gold, and a
neckcloth pointed and plaited in with the rarest lace, worth all the
rest put together--what a pity it seemed that such a man should get
drunk, or at any rate try so hard to do it. There was not a pimple on
his face, his cheeks were rosy and glistening, but not flushed; and his
eyes were as bright and clear and deep as a couple of large sapphires.

This nobleman said a few words, without any excitement, or desire to
create it, every word to the point, and the best that could be chosen
not to go beyond the point. There was no attempt at eloquence, and yet
the speech was eloquent, because it suggested so much more than was
said. More excitable natures, overcome by half a bottle, resolved to
have the other half, in honour of that toast.

Then the Marquis did a very kind and thoughtful thing, for which he
deserved a bottle of the Royal Tokay, such as even Napoleon could not
obtain. When the cheering was done, and every eye was fixed upon the
blushing Scudamore--who felt himself, under that fixture, like an insect
under a lens which the sun is turning into a burning-glass--the Chairman
perceived his sad plight, and to give him more time and more spirit,
rose again.

"Gentlemen," he said, "or I would rather call you brother Englishmen at
this moment, I have forgotten one thing. Before our young hero replies
to his health, let us give him that spirited song 'Billy Blue,' which is
well known to every man here, I'll be bound. Tell the drummer down
there to be ready for chorus." Billy Blue, though almost forgotten now
(because the enemy would not fight him), the blockader of Brest, the
hardy, skilful, and ever watchful Admiral Cornwallis, would be known to
us nearly as well as Nelson, if fame were not a lottery.

As the Lord-Lieutenant waved his hand, the company rose with one accord,
and followed the lead of his strong clear voice in the popular song,
called


                  "BILLY BLUE"

                       1

     "'Tis a terrible time for Englishmen;
      All tyrants do abhor them;
      Every one of them hath to fight with ten,
      And the Lord alone is for them.
      But the Lord hath given the strong right hand,
      And the courage to face the thunder;
      If a Frenchman treads this English land,
      He shall find his grave thereunder.

                    CHORUS

      Britannia is the Ocean-Queen, and she standeth staunch and
        true,
      With Nelson for her faulchion keen, and her buckler Billy Blue.

                       2

     "They are mustering on yon Gallic coasts,
      You can see them from this high land,
      The biggest of all the outlandish hosts
      That ever devoured an island.
      There are steeds that have scoured the Continent,
      Ere ever one might say, 'Whoa, there!'
      And ships that would fill the Thames and Trent,
      If we would let them go there.

                    CHORUS

      But England is the Ocean-Queen, and it shall be hard to do;
      Not a Frenchman shall skulk in between herself and her Billy
        Blue.

                       3

     "From the smiling bays of Devonshire
      To the frowning cliffs of Filey,
      Leaps forth every son of an English sire,
      To fight for his native isley.
      He hath drawn the sword of his father now
      From the rusty sheath it rattled in;
      And Dobbin, who dragged the peaceful plough,
      Is neighing for the battle-din.

                    CHORUS

      For Albion still is Ocean-Queen, and though her sons be few,
      They challenge the world with a dauntless mien, and the flag
        of Billy Blue.

                       4

     "Then pledge me your English palm, my lad;
      Keep the knuckles for Sir Frenchman;
      No slave can you be till you change your dad,
      And no son of yours a henchman.
      The fight is to come; and we will not brag,
      Nor expect whatever we sigh for,
      But stand as the rock that bears the flag
      Our duty is to die for.

                    CHORUS

      For Englishmen confront serene whatever them betideth;
      And England shall be Ocean's Queen as long as the world
        abideth."


What with the drum and the fifes of one of the regiments now at
Stonnington, and the mighty bass of some sea-captains vehement in
chorus, these rough and rolling lines were enough to frighten a thousand
Frenchmen, while proving the vigour of British nerve, and fortitude both
of heart and ear. When people have done a thing well, they know it, and
applaud one another to include themselves; and even the ladies, who were
meant to be unseen, forgot that and waved their handkerchiefs. Then up
and spoke Blyth Scudamore, in the spirit of the moment; and all that he
said was good and true, well-balanced and well-condensed, like himself.
His quiet melodious voice went further than the Lord-Lieutenant's,
because it was new to the air of noise, and that fickle element loves
novelty. All was silence while he spoke, and when he ceased--great
uproar.

"That lad will do," said the Marquis to his supporter on the right hand;
"I was just like him at that age myself. Let me draw this cork--it is
the bottle of the evening. None but my own fellows understand a cork,
and they seem to have got away somewhere. What the doose are they
about--why, halloa, Darling! What's the meaning of all this, at such a
time?"

"Well, my lord, you must judge for yourself," said the Admiral, who had
made his way quietly from the bottom of the table. "We know that false
alarms are plentiful. But this looks like business, from the paper it is
written on; and I know that old Dudgeon is as solid as myself. Vickers
the Coast-guard brought it in, from an officer whose horse was blown,
who had orders to get somehow to Stonnington."

"Is Vickers a knave, or a fool who is likely to be made the victim of a
very low joke? There are hundreds of jealous scoundrels eager to spoil
every patriotic gathering. Ah, this looks rather serious, though, if you
can vouch for the paper."

"I can vouch for the paper, my lord, and for Vickers; but not for
Dudgeon's signature. Of that I have no knowledge--though it looks right
enough, so far as I know. Shall I read it aloud, and let officers who
are not under my command judge for themselves, as I shall judge for
those I have the honour to command?"

The Lord-Lieutenant, with his cork just squeaking in the neck of the
bottle, nodded; and the Admiral, with officers crowding round, read
aloud as follows, part being in type, and part in manuscript:


"Commander of Coast-defence at Hythe, to Vice-Admiral Darling,
Springhaven.

"French fleet standing in, must have slipped Cornwallis. Do all you can.
Not a moment to lose.

(Signed) "BELLAMY DUDGEON."


"Well, it may be true, or it may be a lie," said the Marquis, pouring
carefully; "my opinion is the latter; but I have nothing to do with
it officially, according to the new arrangements. Every gentleman
must judge for himself. And I mean to abide by my own judgment, which
strongly recommends me to finish this bottle."

"Probably you are right enough; and in your place perhaps I should do
the same," the Admiral answered, quietly; "but be the alarm either true
or false, I am bound to act otherwise. All Naval Officers present will
be good enough to follow me, and prepare to rejoin if ordered. We shall
very soon know from the signal-point, unless fog has set in suddenly,
whether we are bound to beat a general alarm."

All the sons of the sea arose quietly, and were despatched with brief
orders to the right and left, to communicate with their signal stations,
while Stubbard hurried back to his battery.

"What cold blood they do display!" whispered the Frenchman, who had
returned with the author of the plot to watch the issue from a point of
vantage. "My faith, they march slowly for their native land! Not less
than six bottles of great French wine did I anticipate to steal through
the window, while they fell out precipitous. But there sits a man big
enough to leave me nothing--not even a remainder of my own body. Soul of
St. Denis, can it be that they question the word of a gentleman?"

"Not they!" replied Carne, who was vexed, however; "they are taking
things easily, according to the custom of the nation. But two good
things we have done, friend Charron; we have learned their proceedings,
and we have spoiled their feasting."

"But not at all; they are all coming back to enjoy it all the more!"
cried the Frenchman. "Oh that I were an Englishman, to get such a
dinner, and to be so loyal to it!"



CHAPTER XXXVI

FAIR CRITICISM


Few things can be worse for a very young woman than to want to be led
by somebody, and yet find nobody fit to do it. Or at any rate, through
superior quickness and the knowledge of it, to regard old friends and
relatives of experience as very slow coaches, and prigs or prudes, who
cannot enter into quick young feelings, but deal in old saws which grate
upon them.

Not to moralise about it--for if young ladies hate anything, it is such
moralising--Miss Dolly Darling was now in that uncomfortable frame of
mind when advice is most needed, yet most certain to be spurned. She
looked upon her loving and sensible sister as one who was fated to be
an old maid, and was meant perhaps by nature for that condition, which
appeared to herself the most abject in the world. And even without that
conclusion about Faith she would have been loth to seek counsel from
her, having always resented most unduly what she called her "superior
air of wisdom." Dolly knew that she was quicker of wit than her
sister--as shallow waters run more rapidly--and she fancied that she
possessed a world of lively feelings into which the slower intellect
could not enter. For instance, their elder brother Frank had just
published a volume of poems, very noble in their way, and glowing with
ardour for freedom, democracy, and the like, as well as exhibiting fine
perception of sound, and great boldness in matters beyond sounding, yet
largely ungifted with knowledge of nature, whether human or superior.

"Better stick to his law-books," the Admiral had said, after singing out
some of the rhyme of it to the tune of "Billy Benbow"; "never sit on the
wool-sack by spewing oakum this way."

Faith had tried, as a matter of duty, to peruse this book to its cover;
but she found it beyond even her good-will, and mild sympathy with
everything, to do so. There was not the touch of nature in it which
makes humble people feel, and tickles even the very highest with desire
to enter into it. So Faith declared that it must be very clever, and no
doubt very beautiful, but she herself was so stupid that she could not
make out very clearly what it was all about.

"Well, I understand every word of it," Miss Dolly cried, with a literary
look. "I don't see how you can help doing that, when you know all about
Frank, who wrote it. Whenever it is not quite clear, it is because he
wants us to think that he knows too much, or else because he is not
quite certain what he wants to mean himself. And as for his talk about
freedom, and all that, I don't see why you should object to it. It is
quite the fashion with all clever people now, and it stops them from
doing any mischief. And nobody pays much attention to them, after the
cruel things done in France when I was seven or eight years old. If I
see Frank, I shall tell him that I like it."

"And I shall tell him that I don't," said Faith. "It cannot do anybody
any good. And what they call 'freedom' seems to mean making free with
other people's property."

These poems were issued in one volume, and under one title--The
Harmodiad--although there must have been some half-hundred of them,
and not more than nine odes to freedom in the lot. Some were almost
tolerable, and others lofty rubbish, and the critics (not knowing the
author) spoke their bright opinions freely. The poet, though shy as a
mouse in his preface, expected a mountain of inquiry as to the identity
of this new bard, and modestly signed himself "Asteroid," which made
his own father stare and swear. Growing sore prematurely from much
keelhauling--for the reviewers of the period were patriotic, and the
English public anti-Gallic--Frank quitted his chambers at Lincoln's Inn,
and came home to be comforted for Christmas. This was the wisest thing
that he could do, though he felt that it was not Harmodian. In spite of
all crotchets, he was not a bad fellow, and not likely to make a good
lawyer.

As the fates would have it (being naturally hostile to poets who defy
them), by the same coach to Stonnington came Master Johnny, in high
feather for his Christmas holidays. Now these two brothers were as
different of nature as their sisters were, or more so; and unlike the
gentler pair, each of these cherished lofty disdain for the other. Frank
looked down upon the school-boy as an unlicked cub without two
ideas; the bodily defect he endeavoured to cure by frequent outward
applications, but the mental shortcoming was beneath his efforts. Johnny
meanwhile, who was as hard as nails, no sooner recovered from a thumping
than he renewed and redoubled his loud contempt for a great lout over
six feet high, who had never drawn a sword or pulled a trigger. And now
for the winter this book would be a perpetual snowball for him to pelt
his big brother with, and yet (like a critic) be scarcely fair object
for a hiding. In season out of season, upstairs down-stairs, even in
the breakfast and the dinner chambers, this young imp poked clumsy
splinters--worse than thorns, because so dull--into the tender poetic
side; and people, who laugh at the less wit the better, laughed very
kindly, to please the boy, without asking whether they vexed the man.
And the worst of it was that the author too must laugh.

All this might be looked down at by a soul well hoisted upon the
guy-ropes of contempt; and now and then a very solid drubbing given
handsomely (upon other grounds) to the chief tormentor solaced the mind
of unacknowledged merit. But as the most vindictive measure to the man
who has written an abusive letter is to vouchsafe him no reply, so to
the poet who rebukes the age the bitterest answer it can give is none.
Frank Darling could retaliate upon his brother Johnny, and did so
whenever he could lay hold of him alone; but the stedfast silence of his
sister Faith (to whom one of his loftiest odes was addressed), and of
his lively father, irked him far more than a thousand low parodies.
Dolly alone was some comfort to him, some little vindication of true
insight; and he was surprised to find how quickly her intelligence
(which until now he had despised) had strengthened, deepened, and
enlarged itself. Still he wanted some one older, bigger, more capable of
shutting up the mouth, and nodding (instead of showing such a lot of red
tongue and white teeth), before he could be half as snug as a true
poet should be, upon the hobs of his own fire. And happily he found his
Anti-Zoilus ere long.

One day he was walking in a melancholy mood along the beach towards
Pebbleridge, doubting deeply in his honest mind whether he ever should
do any good, in versification, or anything else. He said to himself that
he had been too sanguine, eager, self-confident, ardent, impetuous, and,
if the nasty word must be faced, even too self-conceited. Only yesterday
he had tried, by delicate setting of little word-traps, to lead
Mr. Twemlow towards the subject, and obtain that kind-hearted man's
comforting opinion. But no; the gentle Rector would not be brought to
book, or at any rate not to that book; and the author had sense enough
to know without a wink that his volume had won volumes of dislike.

Parnassus could never have lived till now without two heads--one to
carry on with, while the other is being thumped to pieces. While the
critics demolish one peak, the poet withdraws to the other, and assures
himself that the general public, the larger voice of the nation, will
salute him there. But alas, Frank Darling had just discovered that even
that eminence was not his, except as a desert out of human sight. For
he had in his pocket a letter from his publishers, received that dreary
morning, announcing a great many copies gone gratis, six sold to the
trade at a frightful discount, and six to the enterprising public. All
these facts combined to make him feel uncommonly sad and sore to-day.

A man of experience could have told him that this disappointment was for
his good; but he failed to see it in that light, and did not bless the
blessing. Slowly and heavily he went on, without much heed of anything,
swinging his clouded cane now and then, as some slashing reviews
occurred to him, yet becoming more peaceful and impartial of mind under
the long monotonous cadence and quiet repetitions of the soothing sea.
For now he was beyond the Haven head--the bulwark that makes the bay a
pond in all common westerly weather--and waves that were worthy of the
name flowed towards him, with a gentle breeze stepping over them.

The brisk air was like a fresh beverage to him, and the fall of the
waves sweet music. He took off his hat, and stopped, and listened, and
his eyes grew brighter. Although the waves had nothing very distinct to
say in dying, yet no two (if you hearkened well), or at any rate no two
in succession, died with exactly the same expression, or vanished with
precisely the same farewell. Continual shifts went on among them, and
momentary changes; each in proper sequence marching, and allowed its
proper time, yet at any angle traversed, even in its crowning curl,
not only by the wind its father, but by the penitent return and white
contrition of its shattered elder brother. And if this were not enough
to make a samely man take interest in perpetually flowing changes, the
sun and clouds, at every look and breath, varied variety.

Frank Darling thought how small his griefs were, and how vain his
vanity. Of all the bubbly clots of froth, or frayed and shattered dabs
of drift, flying beside him or falling at his feet, every one was
as good as his ideas, and as valuable as his labours. And of all the
unreckoned waves advancing, lifting their fugitive crests, and roaring,
there certainly was not one that fell with weight so futile as his
own. Who cared even to hear his sound? What ear was soothed by his long
rhythm, or what mind solaced by the magnitude of his rolling?

Suddenly he found that some mind was so. For when he had been standing
a long while thus, chewing the salt cud of marine reflections, he seemed
to hear something more intelligible than the sea. With more surprise
than interest he walked towards the sound, and stood behind the corner
of a jutting rock to listen. In another second his interest overpowered
his surprise, for he knew every word of the lines brought to his ears,
for the very simple reason that they were his own. Round the corner of
that rock, so absorbed in admiration that he could hear no footstep, a
very fine young man of the highest order was reading aloud in a powerful
voice, and with extremely ardent gesticulation, a fine passage from that
greatly undervalued poem, the Harmodiad, of and concerning the beauties
of Freedom--


     "No crown upon her comely head she bore,
      No wreath her affluent tresses to restrain;
      A smile the only ornament she wore,
      Her only gem a tear for others' pain.
      Herself did not her own mishaps deplore,
      Because she lives immortal as the dew,
      Which falling from the stars soon mounts again;
      And in this wise all space she travels through,
      Beneficent as heaven, and to the earth more true.

     "Her blessings all may win who seek the prize,
      If only they be faithful, meek, and strong,
      And crave not that which others' right denies,
      But march against the citadel of wrong.
      A glorious army this, that finds allies
      Wherever God hath built the heart of man
      With attributes that to Himself belong;
      By Him ordained to crown what He began,
      And shatter despotism, which is the foul fiend's ban."


Frank thought that he had never heard nobler reading, sonorous, clear,
well timed, well poised, and of harmonious cadence. The curved rock gave
a melodious ring, and the husky waves a fine contrast to it, while
the reader was so engrossed with grandeur--the grandeur of Frank's own
mind!--that his hat could evidently not contain his head, but was flung
at the mercy of his feet. What a fine, expressive, and commanding face!

If Frank Darling had been a Frenchman--which he sometimes longed to be,
for the sake of that fair Liberty--the scene, instead of being awkward,
would have been elegant, rapturous, ennobling. But being of the clumsy
English race, he was quite at a loss what to do with himself. On paper
he could be effusive, ardent, eloquent, sentimental; but not a bit of
that to meet the world in his own waistcoat. He gave a swing to his
stick, and walked across the opening as if he were looking at sea-gulls.
And on he would have walked without further notice, except a big gulp in
his throat, if it had not been for a trifling accident.

Somehow or other the recitative gentleman's hat turned over to the wind,
and that active body (which never neglects any sportive opportunity) got
into the crown, with the speed of an upstart, and made off with it along
the stones. A costly hat it was, and comely with rich braid and satin
loops, becoming also to a well-shaped head, unlike the chimney-pot of
the present day, which any man must thank God for losing. However, the
owner was so wrapped up in poetry that his breeches might have gone
without his being any wiser.

"Sir," said Frank Darling, after chasing the hat (which could not
trundle as our pots do, combining every possible absurdity), "excuse me
for interrupting you, but this appears to be your hat, and it was on its
way to a pool of salt-water."

"Hat!--my hat?" replied the other gentleman. "Oh, to be sure! I had
quite forgotten. Sir, I am very much obliged to you. My hat might have
gone to the devil, I believe, I was so delightfully occupied. Such a
thing never happened to me before, for I am very hard indeed to please;
but I was reading, sir; I was reading. Accept my thanks, sir; and I
suppose I must leave off."

"I thought that I heard a voice," said Frank, growing bold with fear
that he should know no more, for the other was closing his book with
great care, and committing it to a pouch buckled over his shoulder; "and
I fear that I broke in upon a pleasant moment. Perhaps I should have
pleased you better if I had left this hat to drown."

"I seem ungrateful," the stranger answered, with a sweet but melancholy
smile, as he donned his hat and then lifted it gracefully to salute its
rescuer; "but it is only because I have been carried far away from all
thoughts of self, by the power of a much larger mind. Such a thing may
have occurred to you, sir, though it happens very seldom in one life. If
so, you will know how to forgive me."

"I scarcely dare ask--or rather I would say"--stammered the anxious
poet--"that I cannot expect you to tell me the name of the fortunate
writer who has moved you so."

"Would to Heaven that I could!" exclaimed the other. "But this great
poet has withheld his name--all great poets are always modest--but it
cannot long remain unknown. Such grandeur of conception and force of
language, combined with such gifts of melody, must produce universal
demand to know the name of this benefactor. I cannot express myself as I
would desire, because I have been brought up in France, where literature
is so different, and people judge a work more liberally, without
recourse to politics. This is a new work, only out last week; and a
friend of mine, a very fine judge of literature, was so enchanted
with it that he bought a score of copies at once, and as my good stars
prevailed, he sent me one. You are welcome to see it, sir. It is unknown
in these parts; but will soon be known all over Europe, unless these
cruel wars retard it."

With a face of deep gravity, Caryl Carne put into Frank Darling's hand
a copy of his own book, quite young, but already scored with many loving
marks of admiration and keen sympathy. Frank took it, and reddened with
warm delight.

"You may not understand it at first," said the other; "though I beg your
pardon for saying that. What I mean is, that I can well suppose that
an Englishman, though a good judge in general, would probably have his
judgment darkened by insular prejudices, and the petty feeling which
calls itself patriotism, and condemns whatever is nobler and larger than
itself. My friend tells me that the critics have begun to vent their
little spite already. The author would treat them with calm disdain!"

"Horribly nasty fellows!" cried Frank. "They ought to be kicked; but
they are below contempt. But if I could only catch them here--"

"I am delighted to find," replied Carne, looking at him with kind
surprise, "that you agree with me about that, sir. Read a few lines, and
your indignation against that low lot will grow hotter."

"It cannot grow hotter," cried the author; "I know every word that the
villains have said. Why, in that first line that I heard you reading,
the wretches actually asked me whether I expected my beautiful goddess
to wear her crown upon her comely tail!"

"I am quite at a loss to understand you, sir. Why, you speak as if this
great work were your own!"

"So it is, every word of it," cried Frank, hurried out of all reserve
by excitement. "At least, I don't mean that it is a great work--though
others, besides your good self, have said--Are you sure that your friend
bought twenty copies? My publishers will have to clear up that. Why,
they say, under date of yesterday, that they have only sold six copies
altogether. And it was out on Guy Fawkes' Day, two months ago!"

Caryl Carne's face was full of wonder. And the greatest wonder of all
was its gravity. He drew back a little, in this vast surprise, and
shaded his forehead with one hand, that he might think.

"I can hardly help laughing at myself," he said, "for being so stupid
and so slow of mind. But a coincidence like this is enough to excuse
anything. If I could be sure that you are not jesting with me, seeing
how my whole mind is taken up with this book--"

"Sir, I can feel for your surprise," answered Frank, handing back the
book, for which the other had made a sign, "because my own is even
greater; for I never have been read aloud before--by anybody else
I mean, of course; and the sound is very strange, and highly
gratifying--at least, when done as you do it. But to prove my claim to
the authorship of the little work which you so kindly esteem, I will
show you the letter I spoke of."

The single-minded poet produced from near his heart a very large letter
with much sealing-wax endorsed, and the fervent admirer of his genius
read:


"DEAR SIR,--In answer to your favour to hand, we beg to state that your
poetical work the Harmodiad, published by our firm, begins to move.
Following the instructions in your last, we have already disposed of
more than fifty copies. Forty-two of these have been distributed to
those who will forward the interests of the book, by commending it to
the Public; six have been sold to the trade at a discount of 75 per
cent.; and six have been taken by private purchasers, at the full
price of ten shillings. We have reason to anticipate a more rapid sale
hereafter. But the political views expressed in the poems--as we frankly
stated to you at first--are not likely to be popular just now, when the
Country is in peril, and the Book trade incommoded, by the immediate
prospect of a French invasion. We are, dear sir, your obedient servants,
TICKLEBOIS, LATHERUP, BLINKERS, & Co.--To Mr. FRANK DARLING, Springhaven
Hall."


"You cannot call that much encouragement," said Frank; "and it is a most
trusty and honourable house. I cannot do what a friend of mine has
done, who went to inferior publishers--denounce them as rogues, and
call myself a martyr. If the book had been good, it would have sold;
especially as all the poets now are writing vague national songs, full
of slaughter and brag, like that 'Billy Blue' thing all our fishermen
are humming."

"You have nothing to do but to bide your time. In the long-run, fine
work is sure to make its way. Meanwhile I must apologise for praising
you to your face, in utter ignorance, of course. But it must have made
you feel uncomfortable."

"Not at all; far otherwise," said the truthful Frank. "It has been the
very greatest comfort to me. And strange to say, it came just when I
wanted it most sadly. I shall never forget your most kind approval."

"In that case I may take the liberty of introducing myself, I trust.
You have told me who you are, in the most delightful way. I have no such
claim upon your attention, or upon that of the world at large. I am
only the last of an ill-fated race, famous for nothing except ruining
themselves. I am Caryl Carne, of yonder ruin, which you, must have known
from childhood."

Frank Darling lifted his hat in reply to the other's more graceful
salutation, and then shook hands with him heartily. "I ought to
have known who you are," he said; "for I have heard of you often at
Springhaven. But you have not been there since I came down, and we
thought that you had left the neighbourhood. Our little village is
like the ear of the tyrant, except that it carries more false than true
sound. I hope you are come to remain among us, and I hope that we shall
see you at my father's house. Years ago I have heard that there used to
be no especial good-will between your family and mine--petty disputes
about boundaries, no doubt. How narrow and ridiculous such things are!
We live in a better age than that, at any rate, although we are small
enough still in many ways."

"You are not; and you will enlarge many others," Carne answered, as
if the matter were beyond debate. "As for boundaries now, I have none,
because the estates are gone, and I am all the richer. That is the
surest way to liberate the mind."

"Will you oblige me," said Frank, to change the subject, for his mind
did not seek to be liberated so, and yet wished its new admirer to
remain in admiration, "by looking along the shore towards Springhaven as
far as you can see, and telling me whether any one is coming? My sisters
were to follow me, if the weather kept fine, as soon as they had paid
a little visit at the rectory. And my sight is not good for long
distances."

"I think I can see two ladies coming, or at any rate two figures moving,
about a mile or more away, where the sands are shining in a gleam of
sunlight. Yes, they are ladies. I know by their walk. Good-bye. I have a
way up the cliff from here. You must not be surprised if you do not see
me again. I may have to be off for France. I have business there, of
which I should like to talk to you. You are so far above mean prejudice.
If I go, I shall carry this precious volume with me. Farewell, my
friend, if I may call you so."

"Do wait a minute," cried the much admiring Frank; "or walk a few yards
with me towards Springhaven. It would give me such pleasure to introduce
you to my sisters. And I am sure they will be so glad to know you, when
I tell them what I think. I very seldom get such a chance as this."

"There is no resisting that!" replied the graceful Carne; "I have not
the honour of knowing a lady in England, except my aunt Mrs. Twemlow,
and my cousin Eliza--both very good, but to the last degree insular."

"It is very hard to help being that, when people have never been out of
an island. But I fear that I am taking you out of your way."

In a few minutes these two young men drew near to the two young women,
whose manners were hard put to hide surprise. When their brother
introduced Mr. Carne to them, Faith bowed rather stiffly, for she had
formed without reason a dark and obstinate dislike to him. But the
impetuous Dolly ran up and offered him both her hands, and said, "Why,
Mr. Carne saved both our lives only a few days ago."



CHAPTER XXXVII

NEITHER AT HOME


Though Admiral Darling had not deigned to speak to his younger daughter
about that vile anonymous charge, he was not always quite comfortable
in his inner mind concerning it. More than once he thought of asking
Faith's opinion, for he knew her good sense and discretion; but even
this was repugnant to him, and might give her the idea that he cherished
low suspicions. And then he was called from home again, being occupied
among other things with a vain enquiry about the recent false alarm.
For Carne and Charron had managed too well, and judged too correctly the
character of Vickers, to afford any chance of discovery. So that, when
the Admiral came home again, his calm and--in its fair state--gentle
nature was ruffled by the prosperity of the wicked.

"Oh, he is a fine judge of poetry, is he?" he said, more sarcastically
than his wont; "that means, I suppose, that he admires yours, Frank.
Remember what Nelson said about you. The longer I live, the more I find
his views confirmed."

"Papa, you are too bad! You are come home cross!" cried Dolly, who
always took Frank's part now. "What does my godfather know of poetry,
indeed? If he ever had any ear for it, the guns would have ruined it
long ago."

"No mostacchio in my house!" said the master, without heeding her. "I
believe that is the correct way to pronounce the filthy thing--a foreign
abomination altogether. Who could keep his lips clean, with that dirt
over them? A more tolerant man than myself never lived--a great deal too
tolerant, as everybody knows. But I'll never tolerate a son of mine in
disgusting French hairiness of that sort."

"Papa, you are come home as cross as a bear!" cried Dolly, presuming on
her favour. "Lord Dashville was here the other day with a very nice one,
and I hear that all Cavalry Officers mean to have one, when they can.
And Mr. Carne, Frank's friend, encourages it."

"The less you have to say about that young man, the better. And the less
he has to say to any child of mine, the better, both for him and her, I
say. I know that the age is turned upside down. But I'll not have that
sort of thing at my table."

When a kind and indulgent father breaks forth thus, the result is
consternation, followed by anxiety about his health. Faith glanced at
Dolly, who was looking quite bewildered, and the two girls withdrew
without a word. Johnny was already gone to visit Captain Stubbard, with
whose eldest daughter Maggie and the cannons of the battery he was by
this time desperately in love; and poor Frank was left to have it out
with the angry father.

"I very seldom speak harshly, my boy," said the Admiral, drawing near
his son gradually, for his wrath (like good vegetables) was very short
of staple; "and when I do so you may feel quite certain that there is
sound reason at the bottom of it"--here he looked as if his depth was
unfathomable. "It is not only that I am not myself, because of the many
hours spent upon hard leather, and vile chalks of flint that go by me
half asleep, when I ought to be snoring in the feathers; neither has it
anything to do with my consuming the hide of some quadruped for dinner,
instead of meat. And the bread is made of rye, if of any grain at all;
I rather think of spent tan, kneaded up with tallow ends, such as I have
seen cast by in bushels, when the times were good. And every loaf of
that costs two shillings--one for me, and one for Government. They all
seem to acknowledge that I can put up with that; and I make a strict
point of mild language, which enables them to do it again with me.
And all up and down the roads, everybody likes me. But if I was shot
to-morrow, would they care twopence?"

"I am sure they would, sir; and a good deal more than that," answered
Frank, who perceived that his father was out of his usual lines of
thinking, perhaps because he had just had a good dinner--so ill do we
digest our mercies. "I am sure that there is nobody in Sussex, Kent, or
Hampshire who does not admire and respect and trust you."

"I dare say, and rejoice to see me do the work they ought to do. They
have long nights in bed, every one of them, and they get their meals
when they want them. I am not at all astonished at what Nelson said. He
is younger than I am by a good many years, but he seems to have picked
up more than I have, in the way of common sentiments, and such like.
'You may do everybody's work, if you are fool enough,' he said to me the
last time I saw him; 'and ease them of their souls as well, if you are
rogue enough, as they do in the Popish countries. I am nearly sick of
doing it,' he said, and he looked it. 'If you once begin with it, you
must go on.' I find it more true every day of my life. Don't interrupt
me; don't go on with comfortable stuff about doing good, and one's duty
towards one's Country--though I fear that you think very little of that.
If I thought I had done good enough to make up for my back-aches, and
three fine stumps lost through chewing patriotic sentiments, why, of
course I should be thankful, and make the best of my reward. But charity
begins at home, my boy, and one's shirt should be considered before
one's cloak. A man's family is the nearest piece of his country, and the
dearest one."

"I am sure, sir, I hope," replied Frank, who had never heard his father
talk like this before, "that nothing is going on amiss with us here.
When you are away, I keep a sharp lookout. And if I saw anything going
wrong, I should let you know of it immediately."

"No doubt you would; but you are much too soft. You are quite as
easygoing as I used to be at your age"--here the Admiral looked as if
he felt himself to be uncommonly hard-going now--"and that sort of thing
will not do in these days. For my own discomforts I care nothing. I
could live on lobscouse, or soap and bully, for a year, and thank God
for getting more than I deserved. But my children, Frank, are very
different. From me you would never hear a grumble, or a syllable of
anything but perfect satisfaction, so long as I felt that I was doing
good work, and having it appreciated. And all my old comrades have just
the same feeling. But you, who come after us, are not like that. You
must have everything made to fit you, instead of making yourselves fit
them. The result will be, I have very little doubt, the downfall of
England in the scale of nations. I was talking to my old friend St.
Vincent last week, and he most heartily agreed with me. However, I don't
mean to blame you, Frank. You cannot help your unfortunate nature for
stringing ends of words together that happen to sound alike. Johnny will
make a fine Officer, not in the Navy, but of Artillery--Stubbard says
that he has the rarest eyes he ever came across in one so young, and he
wishes he could put them into his Bob's head. He shall not go back to
Harrow; he can spell his own name, which seems to be all they teach them
there, instead of fine scholarship, such as I obtained at Winton. But to
spell his own name is quite enough for a soldier. In the Navy we always
were better educated. Johnny shall go to Chatham, when his togs are
ready. I settled all about it in London, last week. Nothing hurts him.
He is water-proof and thunder-proof. Toss him up anyhow, he falls upon
his feet. But that sort of nature very seldom goes up high. But you,
Frank, you might have done some good, without that nasty twist of
yours for writing and for rhyming, which is a sure indication of spinal
complaint. Don't interrupt me; I speak from long experience. Things
might be worse, and I ought to be thankful. None of my children will
ever disgrace me. At the same time, things would go on better if I were
able to be more at home. That Caryl Carne, for instance, what does he
come here for?"

"Well, sir, he has only been here twice. And it took a long time to
persuade him at all. He said that as you had not called upon him, he
felt that he might be intruding here. And Faith, who is sometimes very
spiteful, bowed, as much as to say that he had better wait. But Dolly,
who is very kind-hearted, assured him that she had heard you say at
least a dozen times: 'Be sure that I call upon Mr. Carne to-day. What
will he think of my neglect? But I hope that he will set it down to the
right cause--the perpetual demands upon my time.' And when she told him
that, he said that he would call the next day, and so he did."

"Ah!" cried the old man, not well pleased; "it was Dolly who took that
little business off my shoulders! She might have been content with her
elder sister's judgment, in a family question of that sort. But I dare
say she thought it right to make my excuses. Very well, I'll do that for
myself. To-morrow I shall call upon that young man, unless I get another
despatch to-night. But I hear he wants nobody at his ruins. I suppose he
has not asked even you to go there?"

"No, sir; I think he took his little place here, because it would be so
painful for him to receive any friends at that tumble-down castle. He
has not yet been able to do any repairs."

"I respect him for that," said the Admiral, with his generous sympathies
aroused; "they have been a grand old family, though I can't say much for
those I knew--except, of course, Mrs. Twemlow. But he may be a very fine
young fellow, though a great deal too Frenchified, from all I hear. And
why my friend Twemlow cold-shoulders him so, is something of a mystery
to me. Twemlow is generally a judicious man in things that have nothing
to do with the Church. When it comes to that, he is very stiff-backed,
as I have often had to tell him. Perhaps this young man is a Papist. His
mother was, and she brought him up."

"I am sure I don't know, sir," answered Frank. "I should think none
the worse of him if he were, unless he allowed it to interfere with his
proper respect for liberty."

"Liberty be hanged!" cried the Admiral; "and that's the proper end for
most of those who prate about it, when they ought to be fighting for
their Country. I shall sound him about that stuff to-morrow. If he is
one of that lot, he won't come here with my good-will, I can assure
him. What time is he generally to be found down there? He is right over
Stubbard's head, I believe, and yet friend Adam knows nothing about him.
Nor even Mrs. Adam! I should have thought that worthy pair would have
drawn any badger in the kingdom. I suppose the youth will see me, if I
call. I don't want to go round that way for nothing. I did want to have
a quiet day at home, and saunter in the garden, as the weather is so
mild, and consult poor Swipes about Spring crops, and then have a pipe
or two, and take my gun to Brown Bushes for a woodcock, or a hare, and
come home with a fine appetite to a good dinner. But I never must hope
for a bit of pleasure now."

"You may depend upon it, sir," said Frank, "that Caryl Carne will be
greatly pleased to see you. And I think you will agree with me that a
more straightforward and simple-minded man is not to be found in this
country. He combines what we are pleased to call our national dignity
and self-respect with the elegant manners, and fraternal warmth, and
bonhomie--as they themselves express it--of our friends across the
water."

"You be off! I don't want to be cross any more. Two hundred thousand
friends there at this moment eager to burn down our homes and cut
our throats! Tired as I am, I ought to take a stick to you, as friend
Tugwell did to his son for much less. I have the greatest mind not to go
near that young man. I wish I had Twemlow here to talk it over. Pay your
fine for a French word, and be off!"

Frank Darling gravely laid down five shillings on his dessert plate, and
walked off. The fine for a French word in that house, and in hundreds
of other English houses at this patriotic period, was a crown for a
gentleman, and a shilling for a lady, the latter not being liable except
when gentlemen were present. The poet knew well that another word on his
part would irritate his father to such a degree that no visit would be
paid to-morrow to the admirer of the Harmodiad, whose admiration he
was longing to reward with a series of good dinners. And so he did his
utmost to ensure his father's visit.

But when the Admiral, going warily--because he was so stiff from
saddle-work--made his way down to the house of Widow Shanks, and winking
at the Royal Arms in the lower front window, where Stubbard kept Office
and convenience, knocked with the knocker at the private door, there
seemed to be a great deal of thought required before anybody came to
answer.

"Susie," said the visitor, who had an especial knack of remembering
Christian names, which endeared him to the bearers, "I am come to see
Mr. Carne, and I hope he is at home."

"No, that 'a bain't, sir," the little girl made answer, after looking at
the Admiral as if he was an elephant, and wiping her nose with unwonted
diligence; "he be gone away, sir; and please, sir, mother said so."

"Well, here's a penny for you, my dear, because you are the best little
needle-woman in the school, they tell me. Run and tell your mother to
come and see me.--Oh, Mrs. Shanks, I am very glad to see you, and so
blooming in spite of all your hard work. Ah, it is no easy thing in
these hard times to maintain a large family and keep the pot boiling.
And everything clean as a quarter-deck! My certy, you are a woman in a
thousand!"

"No, sir, no. It is all the Lord's doing. And you to the back of Him, as
I alway say. Not a penny can they make out as I owes justly, bad as I be
at the figures, Squire. Do 'e come in, and sit down, there's a dear. Ah,
I mind the time when you was like a dart, Squire!"

"Well, and now I am like a cannon-ball," said the Admiral, who
understood and liked this unflattering talk; "only I don't travel quite
so fast as that. I scarcely get time to see any old friends. But I
came to look out for a young friend now, the gentleman you make
so comfortable upstairs. Don't I wish I was a young man without
incumbrance, to come and lodge with such a wonderful landlady!"

"Ah, if there was more of your sort, sir, there'd be a deal less trouble
in the world, there would. Not that my young gentleman is troublesome,
mind you, only so full of them outlandish furrin ways--abideth all day
long without ating ort, so different from a honest Englishman. First I
used to think as he couldn't afford it, and long to send him up a bit
of my own dinner, but dursn't for the life of me--too grand for that,
by ever so--till one day little Susie there comes a-running down
the stairs, and she sings out, with her face as red as ever a boiled
lobster: 'Looky see, mother! Oh, do 'e come and looky see! Pollyon hath
got a heap of guineas on his table; wouldn't go into the big yellow
pudding-basin!' And sure enough he had, your Honour, in piles, as if
he was telling of them. He had slipped out suddenly, and thought
the passage door was bolted. What a comfort it was to me, I can't
configurate. Because I could eat my dinner comfortable now, for such a
big heap of money never I did see."

"I am very glad--heartily glad," exclaimed the smiling Admiral. "I hope
he may get cash enough to buy back all the great Carne property, and
kick out those rascally Jews and lawyers. But what makes Susie call him
that?"

"Well, sir, the young ones must have a nickname for anything beyond
them; and because he never takes any notice of them--so different from
your handsome Master Frank--and some simility of his black horse, or his
proud walk, to the pictur', 'Pollyon' is the name they give him, out of
Pilgrim's Progress. Though not a bit like him, for such a gentleman to
pay his rent and keep his place untroublesome I never had before. And a
fortnight he paid me last night, afore going, and took away the keys of
all three doors."

"He is gone, then, is he? To London, I dare say. It would be useless to
look for him at the castle. My son will be disappointed more than I am.
To tell you the truth, Mrs. Shanks, in these days the great thing is to
stick to the people that we know. The world is so full, not of rogues,
but of people who are always wanting something out of one, that to talk
with a thoroughly kind, honest person, like yourself, is a real luxury.
When the gentleman comes back, let him know that I have called."

"And my Jenny, sir?" cried the anxious mother, running after him into
the passage; "not a word have you said about my Jenny. I hope she show
no sign of flightiness?"

"Jenny is as steady as the church," replied the Admiral. "We are going
to put her on a pound a year from next quarter-day, by Mrs. Cloam's
advice. She'll have a good stocking by the time she gets married."

"There never was such a pleasant gentleman, nor such a kind-hearted one,
I do believe," said Widow Shanks, as she came in with bright eyes. "What
are they Carnes to the Darlings, after all? As different as night and
day."

But the Admiral's next visit was not quite so pleasant; for when he got
back into the village road, expecting a nice walk to his luncheon and
his pipe, a man running furiously almost knocked him down, and had no
time to beg his pardon. The runner's hat was off his head, and his
hair blowing out, but luckily for itself his tongue was not between his
teeth.

"Has the devil got hold of you at last, Jem Prater?" the Admiral asked,
not profanely; for he had seen a good deal of mankind, and believed in
diabolical possession.

"For Parson! for Parson!" cried Jem, starting off again as hard as he
could go. "Butter Cheeseman hath hanged his self in his own scales. And
nobody is any good but Parson."

Admiral Darling was much disturbed. "What will the world come to? I
never knew such times," he exclaimed to himself, with some solemnity;
and then set off, as fast as his overridden state permitted, for the
house of Mr. Cheeseman. Passing through the shop, which had nobody in
it, he was led by the sound of voices into a little room beyond it--the
room in which Mr. Cheeseman had first received Caryl Carne. Here
he beheld an extraordinary scene, of which he often had to dream
thereafter.

From a beam in the roof (which had nothing to do with his scales, as Jem
Prater had imagined), by a long but not well-plaited cord, was dangling
the respected Church-warden Cheeseman. Happily for him, he had relied on
his own goods; and the rope being therefore of very bad hemp, had failed
in this sad and too practical proof. The weight of its vendor had added
to its length some fifteen inches--as he loved to pull out things--and
his toes touched the floor, which relieved him now and then.

"Why don't you cut him down, you old fools?" cried the Admiral to three
gaffers, who stood moralising, while Mrs. Cheeseman sat upon a barrel,
sobbing heavily, with both hands spread to conceal the sad sight.

"We was afraid of hurting of him," said the quickest-witted of the
gaffers; "Us wanted to know why 'a doed it," said the deepest; and, "The
will of the Lord must be done," said the wisest.

After fumbling in vain for his knife, and looking round, the Admiral ran
back into the shop, and caught up the sharp steel blade with which the
victim of a troubled mind had often unsold a sold ounce in the days of
happy commerce. In a moment the Admiral had the poor Church-warden in
his sturdy arms, and with a sailor's skill had unknotted the choking
noose, and was shouting for brandy, as he kept the blue head from
falling back.

When a little of the finest eau de vie that ever was smuggled had been
administered, the patient rallied, and becoming comparatively cheerful,
was enabled to explain that "it was all a mistake altogether." This
removed all misunderstanding; but Rector Twemlow, arriving too late
for anything but exhortation, asked a little too sternly--as everybody
felt--under what influence of the Evil One Cheeseman had committed that
mistake. The reply was worthy of an enterprising tradesman, and brought
him such orders from a score of miles around that the resources of the
establishment could only book them.

"Sir," he said, looking at the parson sadly, with his right hand laid
upon his heart, which was feeble, and his left hand intimating that his
neck was sore, "if anything has happened that had better not have been,
it must have been by reason of the weight I give, and the value such a
deal above the prices."



CHAPTER XXXVIII

EVERYBODY'S MASTER


The peril of England was now growing fast; all the faster from being in
the dark. The real design of the enemy escaped the penetration even
of Nelson, and our Government showed more anxiety about their great
adversary landing on the coast of Egypt than on that of England. Naval
men laughed at his flat-bottomed boats, and declared that one frigate
could sink a hundred of them; whereas it is probable that two of them,
with their powerful guns and level fire, would have sunk any frigate we
then possessed. But the crafty and far-seeing foe did not mean to allow
any frigate, or line-of-battle ship, the chance of enquiring how that
might be.

His true scheme, as everybody now knows well, was to send the English
fleet upon a wild-goose chase, whether to Egypt, the west coast of
Ireland, or the West Indies, as the case might be; and then, by a rapid
concentration of his ships, to obtain command of the English Channel,
if only for twenty-four hours at a time. Twenty-four hours of clearance
from our cruisers would have seen a hundred thousand men landed on our
coast, throwing up entrenchments, and covering the landing of another
hundred thousand, coming close upon their heels. Who would have faced
them? A few good regiments, badly found, and perhaps worse led, and a
mob of militia and raw volunteers, the reward of whose courage would be
carnage.

But as a chip smells like the tree, and a hair like the dog it belongs
to, so Springhaven was a very fair sample of the England whereof (in its
own opinion) it formed a most important part. Contempt for the body of
a man leads rashly to an under-estimate of his mind; and one of the
greatest men that ever grew on earth--if greatness can be without
goodness--was held in low account because not of high inches, and
laughed at as "little Boney."

However, there were, as there always are, thousands of sensible
Englishmen then; and rogues had not yet made a wreck of grand
Institutions to scramble for what should wash up. Abuses existed, as
they always must; but the greatest abuse of all (the destruction of
every good usage) was undreamed of yet. And the right man was even now
approaching to the rescue, the greatest Prime-Minister of any age or
country.

Unwitting perhaps of the fine time afforded by the feeble delays of
Mr. Addington, and absorbed in the tissue of plot and counterplot
now thickening fast in Paris--the arch-plotter in all of them being
himself--the First Consul had slackened awhile his hot haste to set foot
upon the shore of England. His bottomless ambition for the moment had
a top, and that top was the crown of France; and as soon as he had got
that on his head, the head would have no rest until the crown was that
of Europe.

But before any crown could be put on at all, the tender hearts of
Frenchmen must be touched by the appearance of great danger--the danger
which is of all the greatest, that to their nearest and dearest selves.
A bloody farce was in preparation, noble lives were to be perjured away,
and above all, the only great rival in the hearts of soldiers must be
turned out of France. This foul job worked--as foul Radical jobs do
now--for the good of England. If the French invasion had come to pass,
as it was fully meant to do, in the month of February, 1804, perhaps its
history must have been written in French, for us to understand it.

So, at any rate, thought Caryl Carne, who knew the resources of either
side, and the difference between a fine army and a mob. He felt quite
sure that his mother's country would conquer his father's without much
trouble, and he knew that his horn would be exalted in the land, when he
had guided the conqueror into it. Sure enough then he would recover his
ancestral property with interest and be able to punish his enemies well,
and reward his friends if they deserved it. Thinking of these things,
and believing that his own preparations would soon be finished, he
left Widow Shanks to proclaim his merits, while under the bold and able
conduct of Captain Renaud Charron he ran the gauntlet of the English
fleet, and was put ashore southward of Cape Grisnez. Here is a long
reach of dreary exposure, facing the west unprofitably, with a shallow
slope of brown sand, and a scour of tide, and no pleasant moorings.
Jotted as the coast was all along (whereon dry batteries grinned
defiance, or sands just awash smiled treachery) with shallow transports,
gun-boats, prames, scows, bilanders, brigs, and schooners, row-galleys,
luggers, and every sort of craft that has a mast, or gets on without
one, and even a few good ships of war pondering malice in the safer
roadsteads, yet here the sweep of the west wind, and the long roll
from the ocean following, kept a league or two, northward of the mighty
defences of Boulogne, inviolate by the petty enmities of man. Along the
slight curve of the coast might be seen, beyond Ambleteuse and Wimereux,
the vast extent of the French flotilla, ranged in three divisions,
before the great lunette of the central camp, and hills jotted with
tents thick as limpets on a rock.

Carne (whose dealings were quite unknown to all of the French
authorities save one, and that the supreme one) was come by appointment
to meet his commander in a quiet and secluded spot. It was early
February now, and although the day was waning, and the wind, which was
drawing to the north of west, delivered a cold blow from the sea, yet
the breath of Spring was in the air already, and the beat of her pulse
came through the ground. Almost any man, except those two concerting
to shed blood and spread fire, would have looked about a little at the
pleasure of the earth, and felt a touch of happiness in the goodness of
the sky.

Caryl Carne waited in the shelter of a tree, scarcely deserving to be
called a tree, except for its stiff tenacity. All the branches were
driven by the western gales, and scourged flat in one direction--that in
which they best could hold together, and try to believe that their life
was their own. Like the wings of a sea bird striving with a tempest,
all the sprays were frayed alike, and all the twigs hackled with the
self-same pile. Whoever observes a tree like this should stop to wonder
how ever it managed to make itself any sort of trunk at all, and how
it was persuaded to go up just high enough to lose the chance of ever
coming down again. But Carne cared for nothing of this sort, and heeded
very little that did not concern himself. All he thought of was how he
might persuade his master to try the great issue at once.

While he leaned heavily against the tree, with his long sea-cloak
flapping round his legs, two horsemen struck out of the Ambleteuse road,
and came at hand-gallop towards him. The foremost, who rode with short
stirrups, and sat his horse as if he despised him, was the foremost man
of the world just now, and for ten years yet to come.

Carne ran forward to show himself, and the master of France dismounted.
He always looked best upon horseback, as short men generally do, if they
ride well; and his face (which helped to make his fortune) appeared
even more commanding at a little distance. An astonishing face, in its
sculptured beauty, set aspect, and stern haughtiness, calm with the
power of transcendant mind, and a will that never met its equal. Even
Carne, void of much imagination, and contemptuous of all the human
character he shared, was the slave of that face when in its presence,
and could never meet steadily those piercing eyes. And yet, to the study
of a neutral dog, or a man of abstract science, the face was as bad as
it was beautiful.

Napoleon--as he was soon to be called by a cringing world--smiled
affably, and offered his firm white hand, which Carne barely touched,
and bent over with deference. Then the foaming horse was sent away in
charge of the attendant trooper, and the master began to take short
quick steps, to and fro, in front of the weather-beaten tree; for to
stand still was not in his nature. Carne, being beckoned to keep at his
side, lost a good deal of what he had meant to say, from the trouble he
found in timing his wonted stride to the brisk pace of the other.

"You have done well--on the whole very well," said Napoleon, whose voice
was deep, yet clear and distinct as the sound of a bell. "You have
kept me well informed; you are not suspected; you are enlarging your
knowledge of the enemy and of his resources; every day you become more
capable of conducting us to the safe landing. For what, then, this
hurry, this demand to see me, this exposing of yourself to the risk of
capture?"

Carne was about to answer; but the speaker, who undershot the thoughts
of others before they were shaped--as the shuttle of the lightning
underweaves a cloud--raised his hand to stop him, and went on:

"Because you suppose that all is ripe. Because you believe that the slow
beasts of islanders will strengthen their defences more by delay than
we shall strengthen our attack. Because you are afraid of incurring
suspicion, if you continue to prepare. And most of all, my friend,
because you are impatient to secure the end of a long enterprise. But,
Captain, it must be longer yet. It is not for you, but for me, to
fix the time. Behold me! I am come from a grand review. We have again
rehearsed the embarkation. We have again put two thousand horses on
board. The horses did it well; but not the men. They are as brave as
eagles, but as clumsy as the ostrich, and as fond of the sand without
water. They will all be sea-sick. It is in their countenances, though
many have been practised in the mouths of rivers. Those infamous English
will not permit us to proceed far enough from our native land to acquire
what they call the legs of the sea. If our braves are sea-sick, how can
they work the cannon, or even navigate well for the accursed island?
They must have time. They must undergo more waves, and a system of diet
before embarkation. Return, my trusted Captain, and continue your
most esteemed services for three months. I have written these new
instructions for you. You may trust me to remember this addition to your
good works."

Carne's heart fell, and his face was gloomy, though he did his best
to hide it. So well he knew the arrogance and fierce self-will of his
commanding officer that he durst not put his own opposite view of the
case directly before him. This arrogance grew with the growth of his
power; so that in many important matters Napoleon lost the true state of
the case through the terror felt by his subordinates. So great was the
mastery of his presence that Carne felt himself guilty of impertinence
in carrying his head above the level of the General's plume, and stooped
unconsciously--as hundreds of tall men are said to have done--to lessen
this anomaly of Nature.

"All shall be done to your orders, my General," he replied,
submissively. "For my own position I have no fear. I might remain there
from year to year without any suspicion arising, so stupid are the
people all around, and so well is my name known among them. The only
peril is in the landing of stores, and I think we should desist from
that. A few people have been wondering about that, though hitherto we
have been most fortunate. They have set it down so far to smuggling
operations, with which in that tyrannical land all the lower orders
sympathise. But it would be wiser to desist awhile, unless you, my
General, have anything of moment which you still desire to send in."

"What sort of fellow is that Sheeseman?" asked Napoleon, with his
wonderful memory of details. "Is he more to be confided in as a rogue or
as a fool?"

"As both, sir; but more especially as a rogue, though he has the
compunctions of a fool sometimes. But he is as entirely under my thumb,
as I am under that of my Commander."

"That is very good," answered the First Consul, smiling with the sense
of his own power; "and at an hour's notice, with fifty chosen men landed
from the London Trader--ah, I love that name; it is appropriate--you
could spike all the guns of that pretentious little battery, and lock
the Commander of the Coast-Defence in one of his own cellars. Is it not
so, my good Captain? Answer me not. That is enough. One question more,
and you may return. Are you certain of the pilotage of the proud young
fisherman who knows every grain of sand along his native shore? Surely
you can bribe him, if he hesitates at all, or hold a pistol at his ear
as he steers the leading prame into the bay! Charron would be the man
for that. Between you and Charron, there should be no mistake."

"He requires to be handled with much delicacy. He has no idea yet what
he is meant to do. And if I understand his nature, neither bribes nor
fear would move him. He is stubborn as a Breton, and of that simple
character."

"One can always befool a Breton; but I hate that race," said Napoleon.
"If he cannot be made useful, tie a round shot to him, throw him
overheard, and get a gentler native."

"Alas, I fear that we cannot indulge in that pleasure," said Carne, with
a smile of regret. "It cost me a large outlay of skill to catch him, and
the natives of that place are all equally stubborn. But I have a plan
for making him do our work without being at all aware of it. Is it your
wish, my General, that I should now describe that plan?"

"Not now," replied Napoleon, pulling out a watch of English make, "but
in your next letter. I start for Paris in an hour's time. You will hear
of things soon which will add very greatly to the weight and success of
this grand enterprise. We shall have perfidious Albion caught in her own
noose, as you shall see. You have not heard of one Captain Wright,
and the landing-place at Biville. We will have our little Biville
at Springhaven. There will be too many of us to swing up by a rope.
Courage, my friend! The future is with you. Our regiments are casting
dice for the fairest English counties. But your native county is
reserved for you. You shall possess the whole of it--I swear it by
the god of war--and command the Southern army. Be brave, be wise, be
vigilant, and above all things be patient."

The great man held up his hand, as a sign that he wanted his horse, and
then offered it to Caryl Carne, who touched it lightly with his lips,
and bent one knee. "My Emperor!" he said, "my Emperor!"

"Wait until the proper time," said Napoleon, gravely, and yet well
pleased. "You are not the first, and you will not be the last. Observe
discretion. Farewell, my friend!"

In another minute he was gone, and the place looked empty without him.
Carne stood gloomily watching the horsemen as their figures grew small
in the distance, the large man behind pounding heavily away, like an
English dragoon, on the scanty sod, of no importance to anybody--unless
he had a wife or children--the little man in front (with the white plume
waving, and the well-bred horse going easily), the one whose body would
affect more bodies, and certainly send more souls out of them, than
any other born upon this earth as yet, and--we hope--as long as ever it
endureth.

Caryl Carne cared not a jot about that. He was anything but a
philanthropist; his weaknesses, if he had any, were not dispersive, but
thoroughly concentric. He gathered his long cloak round his body,
and went to the highest spot within his reach, about a mile from the
watch-tower at Cape Grisnez, and thence he had a fine view of the vast
invasive fleet and the vaster host behind it.

An Englishman who loved his Country would have turned sick at heart and
faint of spirit at the sight before him. The foe was gathered together
there to eat us up on every side, to get us into his net and rend us,
to tear us asunder as a lamb is torn when its mother has dropped it in
flight from the wolves. For forty square miles there was not an acre
without a score of tents upon it, or else of huts thrown up with slabs
of wood to keep the powder dry, and the steel and iron bright and sharp
to go into the vitals of England. Mighty docks had been scooped out by
warlike hands, and shone with ships crowded with guns and alive with
men. And all along the shore for leagues, wherever any shelter lay, and
great batteries protected them, hundreds of other ships tore at their
moorings, to dash across the smooth narrow line, and blacken with fire
and redden with blood the white cliffs of the land they loathed.

And what was there to stop them? The steam of the multitude rose in
the air, and the clang of armour filled it. Numbers irresistible, and
relentless power urged them. At the beck of the hand that had called the
horse, the grey sea would have been black with ships, and the pale waves
would have been red with fire. Carne looked at the water way touched
with silver by the soft descent of the winter sun, and upon it, so far
as his gaze could reach, there were but a dozen little objects moving,
puny creatures in the distance--mice in front of a lion's den. And much
as he hated with his tainted heart the land of his father, the land
of his birth, some reluctant pride arose that he was by right an
Englishman.

"It is the dread of the English seaman, it is the fame of Nelson, it is
the habit of being beaten when England meets them upon the sea--nothing
else keeps this mighty host like a set of trembling captives here, when
they might launch forth irresistibly. And what is a great deal worse,
it will keep me still in my ruined dungeons, a spy, an intriguer, an
understrapper, when I am fit to be one of the foremost. What a fool I am
so to be cowed and enslaved, by a man no better endowed than myself with
anything, except self-confidence! I should have looked over his head,
and told him that I had had enough of it, and if he would not take
advantage of my toils, I would toil for him no longer. Why, he never
even thanked me, that I can remember, and my pay is no more than
Charron's! And a pretty strict account I have to render of every
Republican coin he sends. He will have his own head on them within
six months, unless he is assassinated. His manners are not those of a
gentleman. While I was speaking to him, he actually turned his back upon
me, and cleared his throat! Every one hates him as much as fears him, of
all who are in the rank of gentlemen. How would it pay me to throw him
over, denounce my own doings, excuse them as those of a Frenchman and a
French officer, and bow the knee to Farmer George? Truly if it were not
for my mother, who has sacrificed her life for me, I would take that
course, and have done with it. Such all-important news would compel
them to replace me in the property of my forefathers; and if neighbours
looked coldly on me at first, I could very soon conquer that nonsense. I
should marry little Dolly, of course, and that would go half-way towards
doing it. I hate that country, but I might come to like it, if enough of
it belonged to me. Aha! What would my mother say, if she dreamed that
I could have such ideas? And the whole of my life belongs to her. Well,
let me get back to my ruins first. It would never do to be captured by
a British frigate. We had a narrow shave of it last time. And there will
be a vile great moon to-night."

With these reflections--which were upon the whole more to his credit
than the wonted web of thought--Carne with his long stride struck into
a path towards the beach where his boat was waiting. Although he knew
where to find several officers who had once been his comrades, he kept
himself gladly to his loneliness; less perhaps by reason of Napoleon's
orders than from the growing charm which Solitude has for all who begin
to understand her.



CHAPTER XXXIX

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET


Though Carne had made light, in his impatient mood, of the power of
the blockading fleet, he felt in his heart a sincere respect for its
vigilance and activity. La Liberte (as the unhappy Cheeseman's schooner
was called within gunshot of France) was glad enough to drop that
pretentious name, and become again the peaceful London Trader, when she
found herself beyond the reach of French batteries. The practice of her
captain, the lively Charron, was to give a wide berth to any British
cruiser appearing singly; but whenever more than one hove in sight,
to run into the midst of them and dip his flag. From the speed of his
schooner he could always, in a light wind, show a clean pair of heels to
any single heavy ship, and he had not yet come across any cutter, brig
of war, or light corvette that could collar the Liberte in any sort of
weather. Renaud Charron was a brave young Frenchman, as fair a specimen
as could be found, of a truly engaging but not overpowering type,
kindly, warm-hearted, full of enterprise, lax of morals (unless
honour--their veneer--was touched), loving excitement, and capable of
anything, except skulking, or sulking, or running away slowly.

"None of your risky tricks to-night!" said Carne, as he stood on the
schooner's deck, in the dusk of the February evening, himself in a dark
mood growing darker--for his English blood supplied the elements of
gloom, and he felt a dull pleasure in goading a Frenchman, after being
trampled on by one of French position. "You will just make straight, as
the tide and shoals allow, for our usual landing-place, set me ashore,
and follow me to the old quarters. I have orders to give you, which can
be given only there."

"My commanding officer shall be obeyed," the Frenchman answered, with a
light salute and smile, for he was not endowed with the power of hating,
or he might have indulged that bad power towards Carne; "but I fear that
he has not found things to his liking."

"What concern is that of yours? Your duty is to carry out my orders, to
the utmost of your ability, and offer opinion when asked for."

The light-hearted Frenchman shrugged his shoulders. "My commanding
officer is right," he said; "but the sea is getting up, and there will
be wind, unless I mistake the arising of the moon. My commanding officer
had better retire, until his commands are needed. He has been known
to feel the effects of high tossing, in spite of his unequalled
constitution. Is it not so, my commander? I ask with deference, and
anxiety."

Carne, who liked to have the joke on his side only, swore at the moon
and the wind, in clear English, which was shorter and more efficacious
than French. He longed to say, "Try to keep me out of rough water," but
his pride, and the fear of suggesting the opposite to this sailor who
loved a joke, kept him silent, and he withdrew to his little cuddy,
chewing a biscuit, to feed, if it must be so, the approaching malady.

"We shall have some game, and a fine game too," said Renaud Charron to
himself, as he ordered more sail to be made. "Milord gives himself such
mighty airs! We will take him to the cross-run off the Middle Bank,
and offer him a basin through the key-hole. To make sea-sick an
Englishman--for, after all, what other is he?--will be a fine piece of
revenge for fair France."

Widow Shanks had remarked with tender sorrow--more perhaps because she
admired the young man, and was herself a hearty soul, than from any loss
of profit in victualling him--that "he was one of they folk as seems to
go about their business, and do their jobs, and keep their skins as full
as other people, without putting nort inside of them." She knew one
of that kind before, and he was shot by the Coast-guard, and when they
postmartyred him, an eel twenty foot long was found inside him, doubled
up for all the world like a love-knot. Squire Carne was of too high
a family for that; but she would give a week's rent to know what was
inside him.

There was no little justice in these remarks, as is pretty sure to be
the case with all good-natured criticism. The best cook that ever was
roasted cannot get out of a pot more than was put in it; and the weight
of a cask, as a general rule, diminishes if the tap is turned, without
any redress at the bung-hole. Carne ran off his contents too fast,
before he had arranged for fresh receipts; and all who have felt what
comes of that will be able to feel for him in the result.

But a further decrease was in store for him now. As the moon arose, the
wind got higher, and chopped round to one point north of west, raising a
perkish head-sea, and grinning with white teeth against any flapping of
sails. The schooner was put upon the starboard tack as near to the wind
as she would lie, bearing so for the French coast more than the English,
and making for the Vergoyers, instead of the Varne, as intended. This
carried them into wider water, and a long roll from the southwest
crossing the pointed squabble of the strong new wind.

"General," cried Charron, now as merry as a grig, and skipping to the
door of Carne's close little cabin, about an hour before midnight, "it
would afford us pleasure if you would kindly come on deck and give us
the benefit of your advice. I fear that you are a little confined down
here, and in need of more solid sustenance. My General, arise; there is
much briskness upon deck, and the waves are dancing beautifully in the
full moon. Two sail are in sight, one upon the weather bow, and the
other on the weather quarter. Ah, how superior your sea-words are
to ours! If I were born an Englishman, you need not seek far for a
successor to Nelson, when he gets shot, as he is sure to be before very
long."

"Get out!" muttered Carne, whose troubles were faintly illuminated by a
sputtering wick. "Get out, you scoundrel, as you love plain English. Go
direct to the devil--only let me die in peace."

"All language is excusable in those affected with the malady of the
sea," replied the Frenchman, dancing a little to encourage his friend.
"Behold, if you would get up and do this, you would be as happy inside
as I am. But stay--I know what will ease you in an instant, and enable
you to order us right and left. The indefatigable Sherray put a fine
piece of fat pork in store before we sailed; I have just had it cooked,
for I was almost starving. It floats in brown liquor of the richest
order, such as no Englishman can refuse. Take a sip of pure rum, and you
will enjoy it surely. Say, my brave General, will you come and join me?
It will cure any little disquietude down here."

With a pleasant smile Charron laid his hand on the part of his commander
which he supposed to be blameable. Carne made an effort to get up and
kick him, but fell back with everything whirling around, and all human
standards inverted. Then the kindly Frenchman tucked him up, for his
face was blue and the chill of exhaustion striking into him. "I wish
you could eat a little bit," said Charron, gently; but Carne gave a push
with his elbow. "Well, you'll be worse before you are better, as the
old women say in your country. But what am I to do about the two British
ships--for they are sure to be British--now in sight?" But Carne turned
his back, and his black boots dangled from the rim of his bunk as if
there was nothing in them.

"This is going a little too far," cried Charron; "I must have some
orders, my commander. You understand that two English ships are
manifestly bearing down upon us--"

"Let them come and send us to the bottom--the sooner the better," his
commander groaned, and then raised his limp knuckles with a final effort
to stop his poor ears forever.

"But I am not ready to go to the bottom, nor all the other people of our
fourteen hands"--the Frenchman spoke now to himself alone--"neither will
I even go to prison. I will do as they do at Springhaven, and doubtless
at every other place in England. I will have my dish of pork, which is
now just crackling--I am capable of smelling it even here--and I will
give some to Sam Polwhele, and we will put heads together over it. To
outsail friend Englishman is a great delight, and to out-gun him would
be still greater; but if we cannot accomplish those, there will be some
pleasure of outwitting him."

Renaud Charron was never disposed to make the worst of anything. When he
went upon deck again, to look out while his supper was waiting, he found
no change, except that the wind was freshening and the sea increasing,
and the strangers whose company he did not covet seemed waiting for no
invitation. With a light wind he would have had little fear of giving
them the go-by, or on a dark night he might have contrived to slip
between or away from them. But everything was against him now. The wind
was so strong, blowing nearly half a gale, and threatening to blow
a whole one, that he durst not carry much canvas, and the full moon,
approaching the meridian now, spread the white sea with a broad flood of
light. He could see that both enemies had descried him, and were acting
in concert to cut him off. The ship on his weather bow was a frigate,
riding the waves in gallant style, with the wind upon her beam, and
travelling two feet for every one the close-hauled schooner could
accomplish. If the latter continued her present course, in another
half-league she would be under the port-holes of the frigate.

The other enemy, though further off, was far more difficult to
escape. This was a gun-brig, not so very much bigger than La Liberte
herself--for gun-brigs in those days were very small craft--and for that
very reason more dangerous. She bore about two points east of north from
the greatly persecuted Charron, and was holding on steadily under easy
sail, neither gaining much upon the chase nor losing.

"Carry on as we are for about ten minutes," said Charron to his mate,
Sam Polwhele; "that will give us period to eat our pork. Come, then, my
good friend, let us do it."

Polwhele--as he was called to make believe that he and other hands were
Cornishmen, whereas they were Yankees of the sharpest order, owing no
allegiance and unhappily no good-will to their grandmother--this man,
whose true name was Perkins, gave the needful orders, and followed down.
Charron could talk, like many Frenchmen, quite as fast with his mouth
full as empty, and he had a man to talk to who did not require anything
to be said twice to him.

"No fear of me!" was all he said. "You keep out of sight, because of
your twang. I'll teach them a little good English--better than ever came
out of Cornwall. The best of all English is not to say too much."

The captain and his mate enjoyed their supper, while Carne in the
distance bore the pangs of a malady called bulimus, that is to say, a
giant's ravening for victuals, without a babe's power of receiving them.
For he was turning the corner of his sickness now, but prostrate and
cold as a fallen stalactite.

"Aha! We have done well. We have warmed our wits up. One glass of what
you call the grog; and then we will play a pleasant game with those
Englishmen!" Carne heard him say it, and in his heart hoped that the
English would pitch him overboard.

It was high time for those two to finish their supper. The schooner
had no wheel, but steered--as light craft did then, and long
afterwards--with a bulky ash tiller, having iron eyes for lashing it in
heavy weather. Three strong men stood by it now, obedient, yet muttering
to one another, for another cable's length would bring them into danger
of being run down by the frigate.

"All clear for stays!" cried Polwhele, under orders from Charron. "Down
helm! Helm's alee! Steady so. Let draw! Easy! easy! There she fills!"
And after a few more rapid orders the handy little craft was dashing
away, with the wind abaft the beam, and her head about two points north
of east. "Uncommon quick in stays!" cried Polwhele, who had taken to the
helm, and now stood there. "Wonder what Britishers will think of that?"

The British ship soon let him know her opinion, by a roar and a long
streak of smoke blown toward him, as she put up her helm to consider
the case. It was below the dignity of a fine frigate to run after little
smuggling craft, such as she voted this to be, and a large ship had been
sighted from her tops down channel, which might afford her nobler sport.
She contented herself with a harmless shot, and leaving the gun-brig to
pursue the chase, bore away for more important business.

"Nonplussed the big 'un; shall have trouble with the little 'un," said
Master Polwhele to his captain. "She don't draw half a fathom more than
we do. No good running inside the shoals. And with this wind, she has
the foot of us."

"Bear straight for her, and let her board us," Charron answered,
pleasantly. "Down with all French hands into the forepart of the hold,
and stow the spare foresail over them. Show our last bills of lading,
and ask them to trade. You know all about Cheeseman; double his prices.
If we make any cash, we'll divide it. Say we are out of our course,
through supplying a cruiser that wanted our goods for nothing. I shall
keep out of sight on account of my twang, as you politely call it. The
rest I may safely leave to your invention. But if you can get any ready
rhino, Sam Polwhele is not the man to neglect it."

"Bully for you!" cried the Yankee, looking at him with more admiration
than he expected ever to entertain for a Frenchman. "There's five ton
of cheeses that have been seven voyages, and a hundred firkins of Irish
butter, and five-and-thirty cases of Russian tongues, as old as old
Nick, and ne'er a sign of weevil! Lor' no, never a tail of weevil!
Skipper, you deserve to go to heaven out of West Street. But how about
him, down yonder?"

"Captain Carne? Leave him to me to arrange. I shall be ready, if they
intrude. Announce that you have a sick gentleman on board, a passenger
afflicted with a foreign illness, and having a foreign physician. Mon
Dieu! It is good. Every Englishman believes that anything foreign
will kill him with a vault. Arrange you the trading, and I will be the
doctor--a German; I can do the German."

"And I can do the trading," the American replied, without any rash
self-confidence; "any fool can sell good stuff; but it requireth a good
man to sell bad goods."

The gun-brig bore down on them at a great pace, feeling happy certitude
that she had got a prize--not a very big one, but still worth catching.
She saw that the frigate had fired a shot, and believed that it was done
to call her own attention to a matter below that of the frigate. On
she came, heeling to the lively wind, very beautiful in the moonlight,
tossing the dark sea in white showers, and with all her taut canvas
arched and gleaming, hovered with the shades of one another.

"Heave to, or we sink you!" cried a mighty voice through a speaking
trumpet, as she luffed a little, bringing her port broadside to bear;
and the schooner, which had hoisted British colours, obeyed the command
immediately. In a very few seconds a boat was manned, and dancing on
the hillocks of the sea; and soon, with some danger and much care, the
visitors stood upon the London Trader's deck, and Sam Polwhele came to
meet them.

"We have no wish to put you to any trouble," said the officer in
command, very quietly, "if you can show that you are what you profess to
be. You sail under British colours; and the name on your stern is London
Trader. We will soon dismiss you, if you prove that. But appearances are
strongly against you. What has brought you here? And why did you run
the risk of being fired at, instead of submitting to his Majesty's ship
Minerva?"

"Because she haven't got any ready money, skipper, and we don't like
three months' bills," said the tall Bostonian, looking loftily at the
British officer. "Such things is nothing but piracy, and we had better
be shot at than lose such goods as we carry fresh shipped, and in prime
condition. Come and see them, all with Cheeseman's brand, the celebrated
Cheeseman of Springhaven--name guarantees the quality. But one thing,
mind you--no use to hanker after them unless you come provided with the
ready."

"We don't want your goods; we want you," answered Scudamore, now first
luff of the brig of war Delia, and staring a little with his mild blue
eyes at this man's effrontery. "That is to say, our duty is to know all
about you. Produce your papers. Prove where you cleared from last, and
what you are doing here, some thirty miles south of your course, if you
are a genuine British trader."

"Papers all in order, sir. First-chop wafers, as they puts on now, to
save sealing-wax. Charter-party, and all the rest. Last bills of lading
from Gravesend, but you mustn't judge our goods by that. Bulk of them
from St. Mary Axe, where Cheeseman hath freighted from these thirty
years. If ever you have been at Springhaven, Captain, you'd jump at
anything with Cheeseman's brand. But have you brought that little bag of
guineas with you?"

"Once more, we want none of your goods. You might praise them as much
as you liked, if time permitted. Show me to the cabin, and produce your
papers. After that we shall see what is in the hold."

"Supercargo very ill in best cabin. Plague, or black fever, the German
doctor says. None of our hands will go near him but myself. But you
won't be like that, will you?"

Less for his own sake than his mother's--who had none but him to help
her--Scudamore dreaded especially that class of disease which is now
called "zymotic." His father, an eminent physician, had observed and
had written a short work to establish that certain families and types
of constitution lie almost at the mercy of such contagion, and find no
mercy from it. And among those families was his own. "Fly, my boy, fly,"
he had often said to Blyth, "if you ever come near such subjects."

"Captain, I will fetch them," continued Mr. Polwhele, looking grave at
his hesitation. "By good rights they ought to be smoked, I dare say,
though I don't hold much with such stuff myself. And the doctor keeps
doing a heap of herbs hot. You can see him, if you just come down these
few steps. Perhaps you wouldn't mind looking into the hold, to find
something to suit your judgment--quality combined with low figures
there--while I go into the infected den, as the cleverest of my chaps
calls it. Why, it makes me laugh! I've been in and out, with this
stand-up coat on, fifty times, and you can't smell a flue of it, though
wonderful strong down there."

Scudamore shuddered, and drew back a little, and then stole a glance
round the corner. He saw a thick smoke, and a figure prostrate, and
another tied up in a long white robe, waving a pan of burning stuff in
one hand and a bottle in the other, and plainly conjuring Polwhele to
keep off. Then the latter returned, quite complacently.

"Can't find all of them," he said, presenting a pile of papers big
enough to taint Sahara. "That doctor goes on as bad as opening a coffin.
Says he understands it, and I don't. The old figure-head! What does he
know about it?"

"Much more than you do, perhaps," replied Blyth, standing up for the
profession, as he was bound to do. "Perhaps we had better look at these
on deck, if you will bring up your lantern."

"But, Captain, you will have a look at our hold, and make us a bid--we
need not take it, any more than you need to double it--for as prime a
lot of cheese, and sides of bacon--"

"If your papers are correct, it will not be my duty to meddle with your
cargo. But what are you doing the wrong side of our fleet?"

"Why, that was a bad job. There's no fair trade now, no sort of dealing
on the square nohow. We run all this risk of being caught by Crappos on
purpose to supply British ship Gorgeous, soweastern station; and blow me
tight if I couldn't swear she had been supplied chock-full by a Crappo!
Only took ten cheeses and fifteen sides of bacon, though she never
knew nought of our black fever case! But, Captain, sit down here, and
overhaul our flimsies. Not like rags, you know; don't hold plague much."

The young lieutenant compelled himself to discharge his duty of
inspection behind a combing, where the wind was broken; but even so he
took good care to keep on the weather side of the documents; and the
dates perhaps flew away to leeward. "They seem all right," he said, "but
one thing will save any further trouble to both of us. You belong to
Springhaven. I know most people there. Have you any Springhaven hands on
board?"

"I should think so. Send Tugwell aft; pass the word for Dan Tugwell.
Captain, there's a family of that name there--settled as long as we have
been at Mevagissey. Ah, that sort of thing is a credit to the place, and
the people too, in my opinion."

Dan Tugwell came slowly, and with a heavy step, looking quite unlike the
spruce young fisherman whom Scudamore had noticed as first and smartest
in the rescue of the stranded Blonde. But he could not doubt that this
was Dan, the Dan of happier times and thoughts; in whom, without using
his mind about it, he had felt some likeness to himself. It was not in
his power to glance sharply, because his eyes were kindly open to all
the little incidents of mankind, but he managed to let Dan know that
duty compelled him to be particular. Dan Tugwell touched the slouched
hat upon his head, and stood waiting to know what he was wanted for.

"Daniel," said Scudamore, who could not speak condescendingly to any
one, even from the official point of view, because he felt that every
honest man was his equal, "are you here of your own accord, as one of
the crew of this schooner?"

Dan Tugwell had a hazy sense of being put upon an untrue balance. Not
by this kind gentleman's words, but through his own proceedings. In his
honest mind he longed to say: "I fear I have been bamboozled. I
have cast my lot in with these fellows through passion, and in hasty
ignorance. How I should like to go with you, and fight the French,
instead of getting mixed up with a lot of things I can't make out!"

But his equally honest heart said to him: "You have been well treated.
You are well paid. You shipped of your own accord. You have no right to
peach, even if you had anything to peach of; and all you have seen is
some queer trading. None but a sneak would turn against his shipmates
and his ship, when overhauled by the Royal Navy."

Betwixt the two voices, Dan said nothing, but looked at the lieutenant
with that gaze which the receiver takes to mean doubt of his meaning,
while the doubt more often is--what to do with it.

"Are you here of your own accord? Do you belong to this schooner of your
own accord? Are you one of this crew, of your own free-will?"

Scudamore rang the changes on his simple question, as he had often been
obliged to do in the Grammar-school at Stonnington, with the slow-witted
boys, who could not, or would not, know the top from the bottom of a
sign-post. "Do you eat with your eyes?" he had asked them sometimes; and
they had put their thumbs into their mouths to enquire.

"S'pose I am," said Dan at last, assuming stupidity, to cover
hesitation; "yes, sir, I come aboard of my own free-will."

"Very well. Then I am glad to find you comfortable. I shall see your
father next week, perhaps. Shall I give him any message for you?"

"No, sir! For God's sake, don't let him know a word about where you
have seen me. I came away all of a heap, and I don't want one of them to
bother about me."

"As you wish, Dan. I shall not say a word about you, until you return
with your earnings. But if you found the fishing business dull, surely
you might have come to us, Dan. Any volunteers here for His Majesty's
service?" Scudamore raised his voice, with the usual question. "Good
pay, good victuals, fine promotion, and prize-money, with the glory of
fighting for their native country, and provision for life if disabled!"

Not a man came forward, though one man longed to do so; but his sense
of honour, whether true or false, forbade him. Dan Tugwell went heavily
back to his work, trying to be certain that it was his duty. But sad
doubts arose as he watched the brave boat, lifting over the waves in the
moonlight, with loyal arms tugging towards a loyal British ship; and he
felt that he had thrown away his last chance.



CHAPTER XL

SHELFING THE QUESTION


There is a time of day (as everybody must have noticed who is kind
enough to attend to things) not to be told by the clock, nor measured to
a nicety by the position of the sun, even when he has the manners to say
where he is--a time of day dependent on a multiplicity of things unknown
to us (who have made our own brains, by perceiving that we had none,
and working away till we got them), yet palpable to all those less
self-exalted beings, who, or which, are of infinitely nobler origin than
we, and have shown it, by humility. At this time of day every decent
and good animal feels an unthought-of and untraced desire to shift its
position, to come out and see its fellows, to learn what is happening
in the humble grateful world--out of which man has hoisted himself long
ago, and is therefore a spectre to them--to breathe a little sample of
the turn the world is taking, and sue their share of pleasure in the
quiet earth and air.

This time is more observable because it follows a period of the opposite
tendency, a period of heaviness, and rest, and silence, when no bird
sings and no quadruped plays, for about half an hour of the afternoon.
Then suddenly, without any alteration of the light, or weather, or even
temperature, or anything else that we know of, a change of mood flashes
into every living creature, a spirit of life, and activity, and stir,
and desire to use their own voice and hear their neighbour's. The usual
beginning is to come out first into a place that cannot knock their
heads, and there to run a little way, and after that to hop, and take
a peep for any people around, and espying none--or only one of the very
few admitted to be friends--speedily to dismiss all misgivings, take a
very little bit of food, if handy (more as a duty to one's family than
oneself, for the all-important supper-time is not come yet), and then,
if gifted by the Lord with wings--for what bird can stoop at such a
moment to believe that his own grandfather made them?--up to the topmost
spray that feathers in the breeze, and pour upon the grateful air the
voice of free thanksgiving. But an if the blade behind the heart is
still unplumed for flying, and only gentle flax or fur blows out on the
wind, instead of beating it, does the owner of four legs sit and sulk,
like a man defrauded of his merits? He answers the question with a skip
and jump; ere a man can look twice at him he has cut a caper, frolicked
an intricate dance upon the grass, and brightened his eyes for another
round of joy.

At any time of year almost, the time of day commands these deeds, unless
the weather is outrageous; but never more undeniably than in the month
of April. The growth of the year is well established, and its manner
beginning to be schooled by then; childish petulance may still survive,
and the tears of penitence be frequent; yet upon the whole there is--or
used to be--a sense of responsibility forming, and an elemental inkling
of true duty towards the earth. Even man (the least observant of the
powers that walk the ground, going for the signs of weather to the cows,
or crows, or pigs, swallows, spiders, gnats, and leeches, or the final
assertion of his own corns) sometimes is moved a little, and enlarged
by influence of life beyond his own, and tickled by a pen above his
thoughts, and touched for one second by the hand that made him. Then he
sees a brother man who owes him a shilling, and his soul is swallowed up
in the resolve to get it.

But well in the sky-like period of youth, when the wind sits lightly,
and the clouds go by in puffs, these little jumps of inspiration take
the most respectable young man sometimes off his legs, and the young
maid likewise--if she continues in these fine days to possess such
continuation. Blyth Scudamore had been appointed now, partly through
his own good deserts, and wholly through good influence--for Lord St.
Vincent was an ancient friend of the excellent Admiral Darling--to the
command of the Blonde, refitted, thoroughly overhauled at Portsmouth,
and pronounced by the dock-yard people to be the fastest and soundest
corvette afloat, and in every way a credit to the British navy. "The man
that floated her shall float in her," said the Earl, when somebody, who
wanted the appointment, suggested that the young man was too young. "He
has seen sharp service, and done sharp work. It is waste of time to talk
of it; the job is done." "Job is the word for it," thought the other,
but wisely reserved that great truth for his wife. However, it was not
at all a bad job for England. And Scudamore had now seen four years of
active service, counting the former years of volunteering, and was more
than twenty-five years old.

None of these things exalted him at all in his own opinion, or, at
any rate, not very much. Because he had always regarded himself with
a proper amount of self-respect, as modest men are almost sure to do,
desiring less to know what the world thinks of them than to try to think
rightly of it for themselves. His opinion of it seemed to be that it was
very good just now, very kind, and fair, and gentle, and a thing for the
heart of man to enter into.

For Dolly Darling was close beside him, sitting on a very pretty bench,
made of twisted oak, and turned up at the back and both ends, so that
a gentleman could not get very far away from a lady without frightening
her. Not only in this way was the spot well adapted for tender feelings,
but itself truly ready to suggest them, with nature and the time of year
to help. There was no stream issuing here, to puzzle and perpetually
divert the human mind (whose origin clearly was spring-water poured into
the frame of the jelly-fish), neither was there any big rock, like an
obstinate barrier rising; but gentle slopes of daisied pasture led the
eye complacently, sleek cows sniffed the herbage here and there, and
brushed it with the underlip to fetch up the blades for supper-time, and
placable trees, forgetting all the rudeness of the winter winds, began
to disclose to the fond deceiving breeze, with many a glimpse to
attract a glance, all the cream of their summer intentions. And in full
enjoyment of all these doings, the poet of the whole stood singing--the
simple-minded thrush, proclaiming that the world was good and kind, but
himself perhaps the kindest, and his nest, beyond doubt, the best of it.

"How lovely everything is to-day!" Blyth Scudamore spoke slowly, and
gazing shyly at the loveliest thing of all, in his opinion--the face of
Dolly Darling. "No wonder that your brother is a poet!"

"But he never writes about this sort of thing," said Dolly, smiling
pleasantly. "His poems are all about liberty, and the rights of men,
and the wrongs of war. And if he ever mentions cows or sheep, it is
generally to say what a shame it is to kill them."

"But surely it is much worse to kill men. And who is to be blamed for
that, Miss Darling? The Power that wants to overrun all the rest, or the
Country that only defends itself? I hope he has not converted you to
the worship of the new Emperor; for the army and all the great cities of
France have begged him to condescend to be that; and the King of Prussia
will add his entreaties, according to what we have heard."

"I think anything of him!" cried Dolly, as if her opinion would settle
the point. "After all his horrible murders--worst of all of that very
handsome and brave young man shot with a lantern, and buried in a ditch!
I was told that he had to hold the lantern above his poor head, and his
hand never shook! It makes me cry every time I think of it. Only let
Frank come back, and he won't find me admire his book so very much! They
did the same sort of thing when I was a little girl, and could scarcely
sleep at night on account of it. And then they seemed to get a little
better, for a time, and fought with their enemies, instead of one
another, and made everybody wild about liberty, and citizens, and the
noble march of intellect, and the dignity of mankind, and the rights
of labour--when they wouldn't work a stroke themselves--and the black
superstition of believing anything, except what they chose to make a
fuss about themselves. And thousands of people, even in this country,
who have been brought up so much better, were foolish enough to think
it very grand indeed, especially the poets, and the ones that are too
young. But they ought to begin to get wiser now; even Frank will find it
hard to make another poem on them."

"How glad I am to hear you speak like that! I had no idea--at least I
did not understand--"

"That I had so much common-sense?" enquired Dolly, with a glance of
subtle yet humble reproach. "Oh yes, I have a great deal sometimes, I
can assure you. But I suppose one never does get credit for anything,
without claiming it."

"I am sure that you deserve credit for everything that can possibly
be imagined," Scudamore answered, scarcely knowing, with all his own
common-sense to help him, that he was talking nonsense. "Every time I
see you I find something I had never found before to--to wonder at--if
you can understand--and to admire, and to think about, and to--to be
astonished at."

Dolly knew as well as he did the word he longed to use, but feared.
She liked this state of mind in him, and she liked him too for all his
kindness, and his humble worship; and she could not help admiring him
for his bravery and simplicity. But she did not know the value yet of a
steadfast and unselfish heart, and her own was not quite of that order.
So many gallant officers were now to be seen at her father's house, half
a cubit taller than poor Blyth, and a hundred cubits higher in rank, and
wealth, and knowledge of the world, and the power of making their wives
great ladies. Moreover, she liked a dark man, and Scudamore was fair and
fresh as a rose called Hebe's Cup in June. Another thing against him was
that she knew how much her father liked him; and though she loved her
father well, she was not bound to follow his leadings. And yet she did
not wish to lose this useful and pleasant admirer.

"I am not at all ambitious," she replied, without a moment's hesitation,
for the above reflections had long been dealt with, "but how I wish I
could do something to deserve even half that you say of me! But I
fear that you find the air getting rather cold. The weather is so
changeable."

"Are you sure that you are not ambitious?" Scudamore was too deeply
plunged to get out of it now upon her last hint; and to-morrow he must
be far away. "You have every right to be ambitious, if such a word can
be used of you, who are yourself the height of so many ambitions. It was
the only fault I could imagine you to have, and it seems too bad that
you should have none at all."

"You don't know anything about it," said Dolly, with a lovely expression
in her face of candour, penitence, and pleasantry combined; "I am not
only full of faults, but entirely made up of them. I am told of them too
often not to know."

"By miserably jealous and false people." It was impossible to look at
her and not think that. "By people who cannot have a single atom of
perception, or judgment, or even proper feeling. I should like to
hear one of them, if you would even condescend to mention it. Tell
me one--only one--if you can think of it. I am not at all a judge of
character, but--but I have often had to study it a good deal among the
boys."

This made Miss Dolly laugh, and drop her eyes, and smoothe her dress, as
if to be sure that his penetration had not been brought to bear on her.
And the gentle Scuddy blushed at his clumsiness, and hoped that she
would understand the difference.

"You do say such things!" She also was blushing beautifully as she
spoke, and took a long time before she looked at him again. "Things that
nobody else ever says. And that is one reason why I like you so."

"Oh, do you like me--do you like me in earnest? I can hardly dare to
dream even for one moment--"

"I am not going to talk about that any more. I like Mr. Twemlow, I like
Captain Stubbard, I like old Tugwell--though I should have liked him
better if he had not been so abominably cruel to his son. Now I am sure
it is time to go and get ready for dinner."

"Ah, when shall I dine with you again? Perhaps never," said the young
man, endeavouring to look very miserable and to inspire sadness. "But
I ought to be very happy, on the whole, to think of all the pleasures I
have enjoyed, and how much better I have got on than I had any right in
the world to hope for."

"Yes, to be the Commander of a beautiful ship, little more than a year
from the date of your commission. Captain Stubbard is in such a rage
about it!"

"I don't mean about that--though that of course is rare luck--I mean a
much more important thing; I mean about getting on well with you. The
first time I saw you in that fine old school, you did not even want to
shake hands with me, and you thought what a queer kind of animal I was;
and then the first time or two I dined at the Hall, nothing but fine
hospitality stopped you from laughing at my want of practice. But
gradually, through your own kind nature, and my humble endeavours to be
of use, I began to get on with you better and better; and now you are
beginning almost to like me."

"Not almost, but altogether," she answered, with quite an affectionate
glance. "I can tell you there are very few, outside of my own family,
that I like half so well as I like you. But how can it matter to you so
much?"

She looked at him so that he was afraid to speak, for fear of spoiling
everything; and being a very good-natured girl, and pleased with his
deep admiration, she sighed--just enough to make him think that he might
hope.

"We are all so sorry to lose you." she said; "and no one will miss you
so much as I shall, because we have had such pleasant times together.
But if we can carry out our little plot, we shall hear of you very
often, and I dare say not very unfavourably. Faith and I have been
putting our heads together, and for our own benefit, and that of all the
house, if we can get you to second it. My father jumped at the idea,
and said how stupid we were not to think of it before. You know how very
little he can be at home this summer, and he says he has to sacrifice
his children to his country. So we suggested that he should invite Lady
Scudamore to spend the summer with us, if she can be persuaded to leave
home so long. We will do our very utmost to make her comfortable, and
she will be a tower of strength to us; for you know sometimes it is very
awkward to have only two young ladies. But we dare not do anything until
we asked you. Do you think she would take compassion upon us? A word
from you perhaps would decide her; and Faith would write a letter for
you to send."

Scudamore reddened with delight, and took her hand. "How can I thank
you? I had better not try," he answered, with some very tender play
of thumb and fore-finger, and a strong impulse to bring lips too into
action. "You are almost as clever as you are good; you will know what
I mean without my telling you. My mother will be only too glad to come.
She knows what you are, she has heard so much from me. And the reality
will put to shame all my descriptions."

"Tell me what you told her I was like. The truth, now, and not a word
of afterthought or flattery. I am always so irritated by any sort of
flattery."

"Then you must let me hold your hands, to subdue your irritation; for
you are sure to think that it was flattery--you are so entirely ignorant
of yourself, because you never think of it. I told my dear mother that
you were the best, and sweetest, and wisest, and loveliest, and most
perfect, and exquisite, and innocent, and unselfish of all the human
beings she had ever seen, or heard, or read of. And I said it was quite
impossible for any one after one look at you to think of himself any
more in this world."

"Well done!" exclaimed Dolly, showing no irritation, unless a gleam of
pearls inside an arch of coral showed it. "It is as well to do things
thoroughly, while one is about it. I can understand now how you get on
so fast. But, alas, your dear mother will only laugh at all that. Ladies
are so different from gentlemen. Perhaps that is why gentlemen never
understand them. And I would always a great deal rather be judged by a
gentleman than a lady. Ladies pick such a lot of holes in one another,
whereas gentlemen are too large-minded. And I am very glad upon the
whole that you are not a lady, though you are much more gentle than
they make believe to be. Oh dear! We must run; or the ladies will never
forgive us for keeping them starving all this time."



CHAPTER XLI

LISTENERS HEAR NO GOOD


"Not that there is anything to make one so very uneasy," said Mr.
Twemlow, "only that one has a right to know the meaning of what we are
expected to put up with. Nothing is clear, except that we have not one
man in the Government who knows his own mind, or at any rate dares to
pronounce it. Addington is an old woman, and the rest--oh, when shall
we have Pitt back again? People talk of it, and long for it; but the
Country is so slow. We put up with everything, instead of demanding that
the right thing shall be done at once. Here is Boney, a fellow raised up
by Satan as the scourge of this island for its manifold sins; and now he
is to be the Emperor forsooth--not of France, but of Europe, continental
Europe. We have only one man fit to cope with him at all, and the voice
of the nation has been shouting for him; but who pays any attention
to it? This state of things is childish--simply childish; or perhaps I
ought to say babyish. Why, even the children on the sea-shore know, when
they make their little sand walls against the tide, how soon they must
be swept away. But the difference is this, that they don't live inside
them, and they haven't got all that belongs to them inside them. Nobody
must suppose for a moment that a clergyman's family would fail to know
where to look for help and strength and support against all visitations;
but, in common with the laity, we ask for Billy Pitt."

"And in another fortnight you will have him," replied Captain Stubbard,
who was dining there that day. "Allow me to tell you a little thing that
happened to my very own self only yesterday. You know that I am one of
the last people in the world to be accused of any--what's the proper
word for it? Mrs. Stubbard, you know what I mean--Jemima, why the deuce
don't you tell them?"

"Captain Stubbard always has more meaning than he can well put into
words," said his wife; "his mind is too strong for any dictionary.
Hallucination is the word he means."

"Exactly!" cried the Captain. "That expresses the whole of what I wanted
to say, but went aside of it. I am one of the last men in the world to
become the victim of any--there, I've lost it again! But never mind. You
understand now; or if you don't, Mrs. Stubbard will repeat it. What I
mean is that I see all things square, and straight, and with their own
corners to them. Well, I know London pretty well; not, of course, as
I know Portsmouth. Still, nobody need come along with me to go from
Charing Cross to St. Paul's Church-yard; and pretty tight I keep all my
hatches battened down, and a sharp pair of eyes in the crow's-nest--for
to have them in the foretop won't do there. It was strictly on duty that
I went up--the duty of getting a fresh stock of powder, for guns are not
much good without it; and I had written three times, without answer or
powder. But it seems that my letters were going the rounds, and would
turn up somewhere, when our guns were stormed, without a bit of stuff to
make answer."

"Ah, that's the way they do everything now!" interrupted Mr. Twemlow. "I
thought you had been very quiet lately; but I did not know what a good
reason you had. We might all have been shot, and you could not have
fired a salute, to inform the neighbourhood!"

"Well, never mind," replied the Captain, calmly; "I am not complaining,
for I never do so. Young men might; but not old hands, whose duty it is
to keep their situation in life. Well, you must understand that the air
of London always makes me hungry. There are so many thousands of people
there that you can't name a time when there is nobody eating, and this
makes a man from the country long to help them. Anyhow, I smelled roast
mutton at a place where a little side street comes up into the Strand;
and although it was scarcely half past twelve, it reminded me of Mrs.
Stubbard. So I called a halt, and stood to think upon a grating, and the
scent became flavoured with baked potatoes. This is always more than I
can resist, after all the heavy trials of a chequered life. So I pushed
the door open, and saw a lot of little cabins, right and left of a fore
and aft gangway, all rigged up alike for victualling. Jemima, I told you
all about it. You describe it to the Rector and Mrs. Twemlow."

"Don't let us trouble Mrs. Stubbard," said the host; "I know the sort of
thing exactly, though I don't go to that sort of place myself."

"No, of course you don't. And I was a little scared at first, for
there was sawdust enough to soak up every drop of my blood, if they had
pistolled me. Mrs. Twemlow, I beg you not to be alarmed. My wife has
such nerves that I often forget that all ladies are not like her. Now
don't contradict me, Mrs. Stubbard. Well, sir, I went to the end of this
cockpit--if you like to call it so--and got into the starboard berth,
and shouted for a ration of what I had smelled outside. And although
it was far from being equal to its smell--as the character is of
everything--you might have thought it uncommon good, if you had never
tasted Mrs. Stubbard's cooking, after she had been to the butcher
herself. Very well. I don't care for kickshaws, even if I could afford
them, which has never yet been my destiny. So I called for another
ration of hot sheep--beg your pardon, ladies, what I mean is mutton--and
half a dozen more of baked potatoes; and they reminded me of being at
home so much that I called for a pint of best pine-apple rum and a
brace of lemons, to know where I was--to remind me that I wasn't where I
couldn't get them."

"Oh, Adam!" cried Mrs. Stubbard, "what will you say next? Not on
weekdays, of course, but nearly every Sunday--and the samples of his
powder in his pocket, Mr. Twemlow!"

"Jemima, you are spoiling my story altogether. Well, you must
understand that this room was low, scarcely higher than the cabin of a
fore-and-after, with no skylights to it, or wind-sail, or port-hole that
would open. And so, with the summer coming on, as it is now--though a
precious long time about it--and the smell of the meat, and the thoughts
of the grog, and the feeling of being at home again, what did I do but
fall as fast asleep as the captain of the watch in a heavy gale of wind!
My back was to the light, so far as there was any, and to make sure of
the top of my head, I fetched down my hat--the soft-edged one, the same
as you see me wear on fine Sundays.

"Well, I may have gone on in that way for an hour, not snoring, as Mrs.
Stubbard calls it, but breathing to myself a little in my sleep, when I
seemed to hear somebody calling me, not properly, but as people do in
a dream--'Stoobar--Stoobar--Stoobar,' was the sound in my ears, like my
conscience hauling me over the coals in bad English. This made me wake
up, for I always have it out with that part of me when it mutinies; but
I did not move more than to feel for my glass. And then I perceived that
it was nothing more or less than a pair of Frenchmen talking about me
in the berth next to mine, within the length of a marlin-spike from my
blessed surviving ear.

"Some wiseacre says that listeners never hear good of themselves, and
upon my word he was right enough this time, so far as I made out. The
French language is beyond me, so far as speaking goes, for I never can
lay hold of the word I want; but I can make out most of what those queer
people say, from being a prisoner among them once, and twice in command
of a prize crew over them. And the sound of my own name pricked me up to
listen sharply with my one good ear. You must bear in mind, Rector,
that I could not see them, and durst not get up to peep over the
quarter-rail, for fear of scaring them. But I was wearing a short
hanger, like a middy's dirk--the one I always carry in the battery."

"I made Adam promise, before he went to London," Mrs. Stubbard explained
to Mrs. Twemlow, "that he would never walk the streets without steel or
firearms. Portsmouth is a very wicked place indeed, but a garden of Eden
compared with London."

"Well, sir," continued Captain Stubbard, "the first thing I heard those
Frenchmen say was: 'Stoobar is a stupid beast, like the ox that takes
the prize up here, except that he has no claim to good looks, but the
contrary--wholly the contrary.' Mrs. Stubbard, I beg you to preserve
your temper; you have heard others say it, and you should now despise
such falsehoods. 'But the ox has his horns, and Stoobar has none. For
all his great guns there is not one little cup of powder.' The villains
laughed at this, as a very fine joke, and you may well suppose that I
almost boiled over. 'You have then the command of this beast Stoobar?'
the other fellow asked him, as if I were a jackass. 'How then have you
so very well obtained it?' 'In a manner the most simple. Our chief has
him by the head and heels: by the head, by being over him; and by the
heels, because nothing can come in the rear without his knowledge.
Behold! you have all.' 'It is very good,' the other villain answered;
'but when is it to be, my most admirable Charron?--how much longer?--how
many months?' 'Behold my fingers,' said the one who had abused me; 'I
put these into those, and then you know. It would have been already,
except for the business that you have been employed upon in this black
hole. Hippolyte, you have done well, though crookedly; but all is
straight for the native land. You have made this Government appear more
treacherous in the eyes of France and Europe than our own is, and you
have given a good jump to his instep for the saddle. But all this throws
us back. I am tired of tricks; I want fighting; though I find them
quite a jolly people.' 'I don't,' said the other, who was clearly a low
scoundrel, for his voice was enough to settle that; 'I hate them; they
are of thick head and thick hand, and would come in sabots to catch
their enemy asleep. And now there is no chance to entangle any more.
Their Government will be of the old brutal kind, hard knocks, and no
stratagems. In less than a fortnight Pitt will be master again. I know
it from the very best authority. You know what access I have.' 'Then
that is past,' the other fellow answered, who seemed to speak more like
a gentleman, although he was the one that ran down me; 'that is the
Devil. They will have their wits again, and that very fat Stoobar will
be supplied with powder. Hippolyte, it is a very grand joke. Within
three miles of his head (which is empty, like his guns) we have nearly
two hundred barrels of powder, which we fear to bring over in those
flat-bottoms for fear of a volley among them. Ha! ha! Stoobar is one
fine fat ox!'

"This was all I heard, for they began to move, having had enough sugar
and water, I suppose; and they sauntered away to pay their bill at the
hatch put up at the doorway. It was hopeless to attempt to follow them;
but although I am not so quick in stays as I was, I slewed myself round
to have a squint at them. One was a slight little active chap, with
dapper legs, and jerks like a Frenchman all over. I could pardon him
for calling me a great fat ox, for want of a bit of flesh upon his own
bones. But he knows more about me than I do of him, for I never clapped
eyes on him before, to my knowledge. The other was better built, and of
some substance, but a nasty, slouchy-looking sort of cur, with high fur
collars and a long grey cloak. And that was the one called Hippolyte,
who knows all about our Government. And just the sort of fellow who
would do so in these days, when no honest man knows what they are up
to."

"That is true," said the Rector--"too true by half. But honest men
soon will have their turn, if that vile spy was well informed. The
astonishing thing is that England ever puts up with such shameful
anarchy. What has been done to defend us? Nothing, except your battery,
without a pinch of powder! With Pitt at the helm, would that have
happened? How could we have slept in our beds, if we had known it?
Fourteen guns, and not a pinch of powder!"

"But you used to sleep well enough before a gun was put there." Mrs.
Stubbard's right to spare nobody was well established by this time.
"Better have the guns, though they could not be fired, than no guns at
all, if they would frighten the enemy."

"That is true, ma'am," replied Mr. Twemlow; "but until the guns came,
we had no sense of our danger. Having taught us that, they were bound to
act up to their teaching. It is not for ourselves that I have any fear.
We have long since learned to rest with perfect faith in the Hand that
overruleth all. And more than that--if there should be a disturbance, my
nephew and my godson Joshua has a house of fourteen rooms in a Wiltshire
valley, quite out of the track of invaders. He would have to fight, for
he is Captain in the Yeomanry; and we would keep house for him till all
was over. So that it is for my parish I fear, for my people, my schools,
and my church, ma'am."

"Needn't be afraid, sir; no call to run away," cried the Captain of
the battery, having now well manned his own portholes with the Rector's
sound wine; "we shall have our powder in to-morrow, and the French can't
come to-night; there is too much moon. They never dare show their noses
nor'ard of their sands, with the man in the moon--the John Bull in the
moon--looking at them. And more than that, why, that cursed Boney--"

"Adam, in Mr. Twemlow's house! You must please to excuse him, all good
people. He has sate such a long time, without saying what he likes."

"Jemima, I have used the right word. The parson will back me up in every
letter of it, having said the same thing of him, last Sunday week. But
I beg Mrs. Twemlow's pardon, if I said it loud enough to disturb her.
Well, then, this blessed Boney, if you prefer it, is a deal too full of
his own dirty tricks for mounting the throne of the King they murdered,
to get into a flat-bottomed boat at Boulogne, and a long sight too
jealous a villain he is, to let any one command instead of him. Why,
the man who set foot upon our shore, and beat us--if such a thing can be
supposed--would be ten times bigger than Boney in a month, and would sit
upon his crown, if he gets one."

"Well, I don't believe they will ever come at all," the solid Mrs.
Stubbard pronounced, with decision. "I believe it is all a sham, and
what they want is to keep us from attacking them in France. However, it
is a good thing on the whole, and enables poor Officers, who have
fought well for their country, to keep out of the Workhouse with their
families."

"Hearken, hearken to Mrs. Stubbard!" the veteran cried, as he patted his
waistcoat--a better one than he could have worn, and a larger one than
he could have wanted, except for the promised invasion. "I will back my
wife against any lady in the land for common-sense, and for putting it
plainly. I am not ashamed to say thank God for the existence of
that blessed Boney. All I hope is that he will only try to land at
Springhaven--I mean, of course, when I've got my powder."

"Keep it dry, Captain," said the Rector, in good spirits. "Your
confidence makes us feel comfortable; and of course you would draw all
their fire from the village, and the houses standing near it, as this
does. However, I pray earnestly every night that they may attempt it in
some other parish. But what was it you heard that Frenchman say about
two or three hundred barrels of powder almost within three miles of us?
Suppose it was to blow up, where should we be?"

"Oh, I don't believe a word of that. It must be brag and nonsense. To
begin with, there is no place where they could store it. I know all the
neighbourhood, and every house in it. And there are no caves on this
coast in the cliff, or holes of that kind such as smugglers use.
However, I shall think it my duty to get a search-order from Admiral
Darling, and inspect large farm-buildings, such as Farmer Graves has
got, and another man the other side of Pebbleridge. Those are the only
places that could accommodate large stores of ammunition. Why, we can
take only forty barrels in the fire-proof magazine we have built. We
all know what liars those Frenchmen are. I have no more faith in the 200
barrels of powder than I have in the 2000 ships prepared on the opposite
coast to demolish us."

"Well, I hope you are right," Mr. Twemlow answered. "It does seem a very
unlikely tale. But the ladies are gone. Let us have a quiet pipe. A man
who works as hard as you and I do is entitled to a little repose now and
then."



CHAPTER XLII

ANSWERING THE QUESTION


If Scudamore had not seen Dan Tugwell on board of the London Trader, and
heard from his own lips that he was one of her crew, it is certain that
he would have made a strict search of her hold, according to his orders
in suspicious cases. And if he had done this, it is probable that he
never would have set his nimble feet on deck again, for Perkins (the
American who passed as Sam Polwhele) had a heavy ship-pistol in his
great rough pocket, ready for the back of the young officer's head if
he had probed below the cheeses and firkins of butter. Only two men had
followed the lieutenant from their boat, the rest being needed for her
safety in the strong sea running, and those two at the signal would have
been flung overboard, and the schooner (put about for the mouth of the
Canche, where heavy batteries were mounted) would have had a fair chance
of escape, with a good start, while the gun-brig was picking up her
boat. Unless, indeed, a shot from the Delia should carry away an
important spar, which was not very likely at night, and with a quick
surf to baffle gunnery. However, none of these things came to pass, and
so the chances require no measurement.

Carne landed his freight with his usual luck, and resolved very wisely
to leave off that dangerous work until further urgency. He had now a
very fine stock of military stores for the ruin of his native land,
and especially of gunpowder, which the gallant Frenchmen were afraid of
stowing largely in their flat-bottomed craft. And knowing that he owed
his success to moderation, and the good-will of his neighbours towards
evasion of the Revenue, he thought it much better to arrange his
magazine than to add to it for a month or two.

Moreover, he was vexed at the neglect of his advice, on the part of his
arrogant Commander, a man who was never known to take advice from
any mind external to his own body, and not even from that clear power
sometimes, when his passionate heart got the uppermost. Carne, though of
infinitely smaller mind, had one great advantage--he seldom allowed it
to be curdled or crossed in its clear operations by turbulent bodily
elements. And now, when he heard from the light-hearted Charron, who had
lately been at work in London, that the only man they feared was about
to take the lead once more against the enemies of Great Britain, Caryl
Carne grew bitter against his Chief, and began for the first time to
doubt his success.

"I have a great mind to go to Mr. Pitt myself, tell him everything,
and throw myself upon his generosity," he thought, as he sate among
his ruins sadly. "I could not be brought to trial as a common traitor.
Although by accident of birth I am an Englishman, I am a French officer,
and within my duty in acting as a pioneer for the French army. But
then, again, they would call me at the best a spy, and in that capacity
outside the rules of war. It is a toss-up how they might take it, and
the result would depend perhaps on popular clamour. The mighty Emperor
has snubbed me. He is not a gentleman. He has not even invited me to
Paris, to share in the festivities and honours he proclaims. I would
risk it, for I believe it is the safer game, except for two obstacles,
and both of those are women. Matters are growing very ticklish now. That
old bat of a Stubbard has got scent of a rat, and is hunting about the
farm-houses. It would be bad for him if he came prowling here; that step
for inspectors is well contrived. Twenty feet fall on his head for my
friend; even his bull-neck would get the worst of that. And then, again,
there is that wretch of a Cheeseman, who could not even hang himself
effectually. If it were not for Polly, we would pretty soon enable
him, as the Emperor enabled poor Pichegru. And after his own bona fide
effort, who would be surprised to find him sus. per coll.? But Polly is
a nice girl, though becoming too affectionate. And jealous--good lack!
a grocer's daughter jealous, and a Carne compelled to humour her! What
idiots women are in the hands of a strong man! Only my mother--my mother
was not; or else my father was a weak one; which I can well believe from
my own remembrance of him. Well, one point at least shall be settled
to-morrow."

It was early in May, 1804, and Napoleon having made away to the best of
his ability--which in that way was pre-eminent--with all possible rivals
and probable foes, was receiving addresses, and appointing dummies, and
establishing foolscap guarantees against his poor fallible and flexible
self--as he had the effrontery to call it--with all the gravity, grand
benevolence, confidence in mankind (as fools), immensity of yearning
for universal good, and intensity of planning for his own, which have
hoodwinked the zanies in every age, and never more than in the present
age and country. And if France licked the dust, she could plead more
than we can--it had not been cast off from her enemy's shoes.

Carne's love of liberty, like that of most people who talk very largely
about it, was about as deep as beauty is declared to be; or even less
than that, for he would not have imperilled the gloss of his epiderm for
the fair goddess. So that it irked him very little that his Chief had
smashed up the Republic, but very greatly that his own hand should
be out in the cold, and have nothing put inside it to restore its
circulation. "If I had stuck to my proper line of work, in the
Artillery, which has made his fortune"--he could not help saying to
himself sometimes--"instead of losing more than a year over here, and
perhaps another year to follow, and all for the sake of these dirty old
ruins, and my mother's revenge upon this country, I might have been a
General by this time almost--for nothing depends upon age in France--and
worthy to claim something lofty and grand, or else to be bought off at
a truly high figure. The little gunner has made a great mistake if he
thinks that his flat thumb of low breed can press me down shuddering,
and starving, and crouching, just until it suits him to hold up a finger
for me. My true course is now to consider myself, to watch events, and
act accordingly. My honour is free to go either way, because he has not
kept his word with me; he promised to act upon my advice, and to land
within a twelvemonth."

There was some truth in this, for Napoleon had promised that his
agent's perilous commission in England should be discharged within a
twelvemonth, and that time had elapsed without any renewal. But Carne
was clear-minded enough to know that he was bound in honour to give fair
notice, before throwing up the engagement; and that even then it would
be darkest dishonour to betray his confidence. He had his own sense of
honour still, though warped by the underhand work he had stooped to; and
even while he reasoned with himself so basely, he felt that he could not
do the things he threatened.

To a resolute man it is a misery to waver, as even the most resolute
must do sometimes; for instance, the mighty Napoleon himself. That
great man felt the misery so keenly, and grew so angry with himself for
letting in the mental pain, that he walked about vehemently, as a horse
is walked when cold water upon a hot stomach has made colic--only
there was nobody to hit him in the ribs, as the groom serves the nobler
animal. Carne did not stride about in that style, to cast his wrath out
of his toes, because his body never tingled with the sting-nettling of
his mind--as it is bound to do with all correct Frenchmen--and his
legs being long, he might have fallen down a hole into ancestral vaults
before he knew what he was up to. Being as he was, he sate still, and
thought it out, and resolved to play his own game for a while, as his
master was playing for himself in Paris.

The next day he reappeared at his seaside lodgings, looking as comely
and stately as of old; and the kind Widow Shanks was so glad to see him
that he felt a rare emotion--good-will towards her; as the hardest man
must do sometimes, especially if others have been hard upon him. He even
chucked little Susy under the chin, which amazed her so much that she
stroked her face, to make sure of its being her own, and ran away
to tell her mother that the gentleman was come home so nice. Then he
ordered a special repast from John Prater's--for John, on the strength
of all his winter dinners, had now painted on his sign-board "Universal
Victualler," caring not a fig for the offence to Cheeseman, who never
came now to have a glass with him, and had spoiled all the appetite
inspired by his windows through the dismal suggestions of his rash act
on the premises. Instead of flattening their noses and opening their
mouths, and exclaiming, "Oh, shouldn't I like a bit of that?" the
children, if they ventured to peep in at all, now did it with an anxious
hope of horrors, and a stealthy glance between the hams and bacon for
something that might be hanging up among the candles. And the worst of
it was that the wisest man in the village had failed to ascertain as yet
"the reason why 'a doed it." Until that was known, the most charitable
neighbours could have no hope of forgiving him.

Miss Dolly Darling had not seen her hero of romance for a long time; but
something told her--or perhaps somebody--that he was now at hand; and to
make sure about it, she resolved to have a walk. Faith was very busy, as
the lady of the house, in preparing for a visitor, the mother of Blyth
Scudamore, whom she, with her usual kindness, intended to meet and bring
back from the coach-road that evening; for no less than three coaches
a day passed now within eight miles of Springhaven, and several of the
natives had seen them. Dolly was not to go in the carriage, because
nobody knew how many boxes the visitor might bring, inasmuch as she was
to stop ever so long. "I am tired of all this fuss," cried Dolly; "one
would think Queen Charlotte was coming, at the least; and I dare
say nearly all her luggage would go into the door-pocket. They are
dreadfully poor; and it serves them right, for being so dreadfully
honest."

"If you ever fall into poverty," said Faith, "it will not be from that
cause. When you get your money, you don't pay your debts. You think that
people should be proud to work for you for nothing. There is one house
I am quite ashamed to pass by with you. How long have you owed poor
Shoemaker Stickfast fifteen shillings and sixpence? And you take
advantage of him, because he dare not send it in to father."

"Fashionable ladies never pay their debts," Dolly answered, as she spun
round on one light heel, to float out a new petticoat that she was very
proud of; "this isn't paid for, nor this, nor this; and you with your
slow head have no idea how it adds to the interest they possess. If I
am not allowed to have a bit of fashion in my dress, I can be in the
fashion by not paying for it."

"It is a most happy thing for you, dear child, that you are kept under
some little control. What you would do, I have not the least idea, if
you were not afraid of dear father, as you are. The worst of it is that
he is never here now for as much as two days together. And then he is so
glad to see us that he cannot attend to our discipline or take notice of
our dresses."

"Ha! you have inspired me!" exclaimed Dolly, who rejoiced in teasing
Faith. "The suggestion is yours, and I will act upon it. From the
village of Brighthelmstone, which is growing very fine, I will
procure upon the strictest credit a new Classic dress, with all tackle
complete--as dear father so well expresses it--and then I will promenade
me on the beach, with Charles in best livery and a big stick behind me.
How then will Springhaven rejoice, and every one that hath eyes clap a
spy-glass to them! And what will old Twemlow say, and that frump of
an Eliza, who condescends to give me little hints sometimes about
tightening up SO, perhaps, and letting out so, and permitting a little
air to come in HERE--"

"Do be off, you wicked little animal!" cried Faith, who in spite of
herself could not help laughing, so well was Dolly mimicking Eliza
Twemlow's voice, and manner, and attitude, and even her figure, less
fitted by nature for the Classic attire; "you are wasting all my time,
and doing worse with your own. Be off, or I'll take a stick to 'e, as
old Daddy Stakes says to the boys."

Taking advantage of this state of things, the younger Miss Darling set
forth by herself to dwell upon the beauty of the calm May sea, and her
own pretty figure glassed in tidal pools. She knew that she would show
to the utmost of her gifts, with her bright complexion softly gleaming
in the sun, and dark gray eyes through their deep fringe receiving and
returning tenfold the limpid glimmer of the shore. And she felt that the
spring of the year was with her, the bound of old Time that renews his
youth and powers of going at any pace; when the desire of the young is
to ride him at full gallop, and the pleasure of the old is to stroke his
nose and think.

Dolly, with everything in her favour, youth and beauty, the time of
year, the time of day, and the power of the place, as well as her own
wish to look lovely, and to be loved beyond reason, nevertheless came
along very strictly, and kept herself most careful not to look about
at all. At any rate, not towards the houses, where people live, and
therefore must look out. At the breadth of sea, with distant ships
jotted against the sky like chips, or dotted with boats like bits of
stick; also at the playing of the little waves that ran at the bottom
of the sands, just now, after one another with a lively turn, and then
jostled into white confusion, like a flock of sheep huddled up and
hurrying from a dog--at these and at the warm clouds loitering in the
sun she might use her bright eyes without prejudice. But soon she had to
turn them upon a nearer object.

"How absorbed we are in distant contemplation! A happy sign, I hope, in
these turbulent times. Miss Darling, will you condescend to include me
in your view?"

"I only understand simple English," answered Dolly. "Most of the other
comes from France, perhaps. We believed that you were gone abroad
again."

"I wish that the subject had more interest for you," Carne answered,
with his keen eyes fixed on hers, in the manner that half angered and
half conquered her. "My time is not like that of happy young ladies,
with the world at their feet, and their chief business in it, to
discover some new amusement."

"You are not at all polite. But you never were that, in spite of your
French education."

"Ah, there it is again! You are so accustomed to the flattery of great
people that a simple-minded person like myself has not the smallest
chance of pleasing you. Ah, well! It is my fate, and I must yield to
it."

"Not at all," replied Dolly, who could never see the beauty of that kind
of resignation, even in the case of Dan Tugwell. "There is no such thing
as fate for a strong-willed man, though there may be for poor women."

"May I tell you my ideas about that matter? If so, come and rest for
a moment in a quiet little shelter where the wind is not so cold. For
there is no such thing as Spring in England."

Dolly hesitated, and with the proverbial result. To prove himself more
polite than she supposed, Caryl Carne, hat in hand and with low bows
preserving a respectful distance, conducted her to a little place of
shelter, so pretty and humble and secluded by its own want of art, and
simplicity of skill, that she was equally pleased and surprised with it.

"Why, it is quite a little bower!" she exclaimed; "as pretty a little
nest as any bird could wish for. And what a lovely view towards the west
and beyond Pebbleridge! One could sit here forever and see the sun set.
But I must have passed it fifty times without the least suspicion of it.
How on earth have you managed to conceal it so? That is to say, if it is
your doing. Surely the children must have found it out, because they go
everywhere."

"One brat did. But I gave him such a scare that he never stopped roaring
till next Sunday, and it frightened all the rest from looking round that
corner. If any other comes, I shall pitch-plaster him, for I could not
endure that noise again. But you see, at a glance, why you have failed
to see it, as we always do with our little oversights, when humbly
pointed out to us. It is the colour of the ground and the background
too, and the grayness of the scanty growth that hides it. Nobody finds
it out by walking across it, because of this swampy place on your side,
and the shoot of flints down from the cliff on the other, all sharp as
a knife, and as rough as a saw. And nobody comes down to this end of the
warren, neither is it seen from the battery on the hill. Only from the
back is it likely to be invaded, and there is nothing to make people
look, or come, up here. So you have me altogether at your mercy, Miss
Darling."

Dolly thought within herself that it was much the other way, but could
not well express her thoughts to that effect. And being of a brisk and
versatile--not to say volatile--order, she went astray into a course of
wonder concerning the pretty little structure she beheld. Structure was
not the proper word for it at all; for it seemed to have grown from the
nature around, with a little aid of human hands to guide it. Branches of
sea-willow radiant with spring, and supple sprays of tamarisk recovering
from the winter, were lightly inwoven and arched together, with the
soft compliance of reed and rush from the marsh close by, and the stout
assistance of hazel rods from the westward cliff. The back was afforded
by a grassy hillock, with a tuft or two of brake-fern throwing up their
bronzy crockets among the sprayed russet of last year's pride. And
beneath them a ledge of firm turf afforded as fair a seat as even two
sweet lovers need desire.

"How clever he is, and how full of fine taste!" thought the
simple-minded Dolly; "and all this time I have been taking him for a
gloomy, hard-hearted, unnatural man. Blyth Scudamore never could have
made this lovely bower."

In this conclusion she was altogether wrong. Scudamore could have made
it, and would have made it gladly, with bright love to help him. But
Carne never could, and would have scorned the pleasant task. It was
Charron, the lively Frenchman, who, with the aid of old Jerry, had
achieved this pretty feat, working to relieve his dull detention, with
a Frenchman's playful industry and tasteful joy in nature. But Carne was
not likely to forego this credit.

"I think I have done it pretty well," he said, in reply to her smile of
admiration; "with such scanty materials, I mean, of course. And I shall
think I have done it very well indeed, if you say that you like it, and
crown it with new glory by sitting for a moment in its unpretentious
shade. If your brother comes down, as I hope he will, next week, I shall
beg him to come and write a poem here. The place is fitter for a poet
than a prosy vagabond like me."

"It is very hard that you should be a--a wanderer, I mean," Dolly
answered, looking at him with a sweet thrill of pity; "you have done
nothing to deserve it. How unfairly fortune has always treated you!"

"Fortune could make me a thousand times more than the just compensation
even now, if she would. Such a glorious return for all my bitter losses
and outcast condition, that I should--but it is useless to think of such
things, in my low state. The fates have been hard with me, but never
shall they boast that they drove me from my pure sense of honour. Oh
yes, it is damp. But let me cure it thus."

For Dolly, growing anxious about his meaning, yet ready to think about
another proposal, was desirous to sit down on the sweet ledge of grass,
yet uneasy about her pale blue sarsenet, and uncertain that she had not
seen something of a little sea-snail (living in a yellow house, dadoed
with red), whom to crush would be a cruel act to her dainty fabric. But
if he was there, he was sat upon unavenged; for Carne, pulling off his
light buff cloak, flung it on the seat; after which the young lady could
scarcely be rude enough not to sit.

"Oh, I am so sorry now! Perhaps it will be spoiled," she said; "for
you say that the fates are against you always. And I am sure that they
always combine against me, when I wear anything of that colour."

"I am going the wrong way to work," thought Carne. "What a little vixen
it is; but what a beauty!" For his love for her was chiefly a man's
admiration. And bodily she looked worthy now of all that could be done
in that way, with the light flowing in through the budded arch and
flashing upon the sweet flush of her cheeks. Carne gazed at her without
a word or thought, simply admiring, as he never had admired anything,
except himself, till now. Then she felt all the meaning of his gaze, and
turned away.

"But you must look at me and tell me something," he said, in a low
voice, and taking both her hands; "you shall tell me what my fate must
be. Whether you can ever come to love me, as I have loved you, long and
long."

"You have no right to speak to me like that," she answered, still
avoiding his eyes, and striving to show proper anger; "no gentleman
would think of taking advantage of a lady so."

"I care not what is right or wrong. Look up, and tell me that you hate
me. Dolly, I suppose you do."

"Then you are quite wrong"--she gave him one bright glance of
contradiction; "no. I have always been so sorry for you, and for all
your troubles. You must not ask me to say more."

"But I must; I must. That is the very thing that I must do. Only say
that you love me, Dolly. Dolly darling, tell me that. Or let your lovely
eyes say it for you."

"My lovely eyes must not tell stories"--they were gazing softly at him
now--"and I don't think I can say it--yet."

"But you will--you shall!" he exclaimed, with passion growing as he drew
her near; "you shall not slip from me, you shall not stir, until you
have answered me one question--is there anybody else, my Dolly?"

"You frighten me. You forget who I am. Of course there are a great many
else, as you call it; and I am not to be called, for a moment, YOUR
DOLLY."

"No, not for a moment, but forever." Carne was accustomed to the ways of
girls, and read all their words by the light of their eyes. "Your
little heart begins to know who loves it better than all the world
put together. And for that reason I will leave you now. Farewell, my
darling; I conquer myself, for the sake of what is worth a thousand of
it."

Dolly was in very sad confusion, and scarcely knew what she might do
next--that is to say, if he still went on. Pleasant conceit and bright
coquetry ill supply the place of honest pride and gentle self-respect,
such as Faith was blest with. Carne might have kissed Dolly a hundred
times, without much resistance, for his stronger will had mastered hers;
but she would have hated him afterwards. He did not kiss her once;
and she almost wished that he had offered one--one little tribute of
affection (as the Valentines express it)--as soon as he was gone, and
the crisis of not knowing what to do was past. "I should have let him--I
believe I should," she reflected, sagely recovering herself; "but how
glad I ought to be that he didn't! And I do hope he won't come back
again. The next time I meet him, I shall sink into the earth."

For her hat had fallen off, and her hair was out of order, and she saw
two crinkles near the buckle of her waist; and she had not so much as a
looking-glass to be sure that she looked nice again. With a heavy sigh
for all these woes, she gathered a flossy bud of willow, and fixed it on
her breast-knot, to defy the world; and then, without heed of the sea,
sun, or sands, went home with short breath, and quick blushes, and some
wonder; for no man's arm, except her father's, had ever been round her
waist till now.



CHAPTER XLIII

LITTLE AND GREAT PEOPLE


If ever a wise man departed from wisdom, or a sober place from sobriety,
the man was John Prater, and the place Springhaven, towards the middle
of June, 1804. There had been some sharp rumours of great things before;
but the best people, having been misled so often, shook their heads
without produce of their contents; until Captain Stubbard came out in
his shirt sleeves one bright summer morning at half past nine, with a
large printed paper in one hand and a slop basin full of hot paste in
the other. His second boy, George, in the absence of Bob (who was now
drawing rations at Woolwich), followed, with a green baize apron on, and
carrying a hearth-brush tied round with a string to keep the hair stiff.

"Lay it on thick on the shutter, my son. Never mind about any other
notices, except the one about young men wanted. No hurry; keep your
elbow up; only don't dab my breeches, nor the shirt you had on Sunday."

By this time there were half a dozen people waiting; for this shutter of
Widow Shanks was now accepted as the central board and official panel
of all public business and authorised intelligence. Not only because all
Royal Proclamations, Offers of reward, and Issues of menace were
posted on that shutter and the one beyond the window (which served as
a postscript and glossary to it), but also inasmuch as the kind-hearted
Captain, beginning now to understand the natives--which was not to be
done pugnaciously, as he had first attempted it, neither by any show of
interest in them (than which they detested nothing more), but by taking
them coolly, as they took themselves, and gradually sliding, without any
thought about it, into the wholesome contagion of their minds, and the
divine gift of taking things easily--our Captain Stubbard may be fairly
now declared to have made himself almost as good as a native, by the way
in which he ministered to their content.

For nothing delighted them more than to hear of great wonders going on
in other places--of battles, plague, pestilence, famine, and fire; of
people whose wives ran away with other people, or highwaymen stopping
the coach of a bishop. Being full of good-nature, they enjoyed these
things, because of the fine sympathies called out to their own credit,
and the sense of pious gratitude aroused towards Heaven, that they
never permitted such things among them. Perceiving this genial desire of
theirs, the stout Captain of the Foxhill battery was kind enough to meet
it with worthy subjects. Receiving officially a London newspaper almost
every other day, as soon as it had trodden the round of his friends,
his regular practice was to cut out all the pieces of lofty public
interest--the first-rate murders, the exploits of highwaymen, the
episodes of high life, the gallant executions, the embezzlements of
demagogues, in a word, whatever quiet people find a fond delight
in ruminating--and these he pasted (sometimes upside down) upon his
shutter. Springhaven had a good deal of education, and enjoyed most of
all what was hardest to read.

But this great piece of news, that should smother all the rest, seemed
now to take a terrible time in coming. All the gaffers were waiting
who had waited to see the result of Mr. Cheeseman's suicide, and their
patience was less on this occasion. At length the great Captain unfolded
his broad sheet, but even then held it upside down for a minute. It was
below their dignity to do anything but grunt, put their specs on their
noses, and lean chin upon staff. They deserved to be rewarded, and so
they were.

For this grand poster, which overlapped the shutters, was a Royal
Proclamation, all printed in red ink, announcing that His Majesty King
George the 3rd would on the 25th of June then ensuing hold a grand
review upon Shotbury Down of all the Volunteer forces and Reserve,
mounted, footmen, or artillery, of the four counties forming the
Southeast Division, to wit, Surrey, Kent, Sussex, and Hants. Certain
regiments of the line would be appointed to act with them; and officers
in command were ordered to report at once, &c., &c. God save the King.

If Shotbury Down had been ten miles off, Springhaven would have thought
very little of the matter; for no one would walk ten miles inland to
see all the sojers that ever were shot, or even the "King and Queen, and
their fifteen little ones." Most of the little ones were very large now;
but the village had seen them in a travelling show, and expected them to
continue like it. But Shotbury Down was only three miles inland; and the
people (who thought nothing of twenty miles along the coast) resolved to
face a league of perils of the solid earth, because if they only turned
round upon their trudge, they could see where they lived from every
corner of the road. They always did all things with one accord; the
fishing fleet all should stand still on the sand, and the houses should
have to keep house for themselves. That is to say, perhaps, all except
one.

"Do as you like," said Mrs. Tugwell to her husband; "nothing as you
do makes much differ to me now. If you feel you can be happy with them
thousands of young men, and me without one left fit to lift a big crock,
go your way, Zeb; but you don't catch me going, with the tears coming
into my eyes every time I see a young man to remind me of Dan--though
there won't be one there fit to stand at his side. And him perhaps
fighting against his own King now!"

"Whatever hath coom to Dannel is all along of your own fault, I tell
'e." Captain Tugwell had scarcely enjoyed a long pipe since the night
when he discharged his paternal duty, with so much vigour, and such sad
results. Not that he felt any qualms of conscience, though his heart was
sometimes heavy, but because his good wife was a good wife no longer, in
the important sphere of the pan, pot, and kettle, or even in listening
to his adventures with the proper exclamations in the proper places.
And not only she, but all his children, from Timothy down to Solomon,
instead of a pleasant chatter around him, and little attentions, and a
smile to catch a smile, seemed now to shrink from him, and hold whispers
in a corner, and watch him with timid eyes, and wonder how soon their
own time would come to be lashed and turned away. And as for the women,
whether up or down the road--but as he would not admit, even to himself,
that he cared twopence what they thought, it is useless to give voice to
their opinions, which they did quite sufficiently. Zebedee Tugwell felt
sure that he had done the right thing, and therefore admired himself,
but would have enjoyed himself more if he had done the wrong one.

"What fault of mine, or of his, poor lamb?" Mrs. Tugwell asked, with
some irony. She knew that her husband could never dare to go to see the
King without her--for no married man in the place would venture to look
at him twice if he did such a thing--and she had made up her own mind
to go from the first; but still, he should humble himself before she did
it. "Was it I as colted him? Or was it him as gashed himself, like the
prophets of Baal, when 'a was gone hunting?"

"No; but you cockered him up, the same as was done to they, by the
wicked king, and his wife--the worst woman as ever lived. If they hadn't
gashed theirselves, I reckon, the true man of God would 'a done it for
them, the same as he cut their throats into the brook Kishon. Solomon
was the wisest man as ever lived, and Job the most patient--the same as
I be--and Elijah, the Tishbite, the most justest."

"You better finish up with all the Psalms of David, and the Holy
Children, and the Burial Service. No more call for Parson Twemlow, or
the new Churchwarden come in place of Cheeseman, because 'a tried to
hang his self. Zebedee Tugwell in the pulpit! Zebedee, come round
with the plate! Parson Tugwell, if you please, a-reading out the ten
commandments! But 'un ought to leave out the sixth, for fear of spoiling
's own dinner afterwards; and the seventh, if 'a hopes to go to see King
George the third, with another man's woman to his elbow!"

"When you begins to go on like that," Captain Tugwell replied, with some
dignity, "the only thing as a quiet man can do is to go out of houze,
and have a half-pint of small ale." He put his hat on his head and went
to do it.

Notwithstanding all this and much more, when the great day came for
the Grand Review, very few people saw more of the King, or entered more
kindly into all his thoughts--or rather the thoughts that they made him
think--than Zebedee Tugwell and his wife Kezia. The place being so near
home, and the smoke of their own chimneys and masts of their smack as
good as in sight--if you knew where to look--it was natural for them to
regard the King as a stranger requiring to be taught about their place.
This sense of proprietary right is strong in dogs and birds and cows and
rabbits, and everything that acts by nature's laws. When a dog sits in
front of his kennel, fast chained, every stranger dog that comes in at
the gate confesses that the premises are his, and all the treasures they
contain; and if he hunts about--which he is like enough to do, unless
full of self-respect and fresh victuals--for any bones invested in the
earth to ripen, by the vested owner, he does it with a low tail and many
pricks of conscience, perhaps hoping in his heart that he may discover
nothing to tempt him into breach of self-respect. But now men are
ordered, in this matter, to be of lower principle than their dogs.

King George the third, who hated pomp and show, and had in his blood the
old German sense of patriarchal kingship, would have enjoyed a good talk
with Zebedee and his wife Kezia, if he had met them on the downs alone;
but, alas, he was surrounded with great people, and obliged to restrict
himself to the upper order, with whom he had less sympathy. Zebedee,
perceiving this, made all allowance for him, and bought a new Sunday hat
the very next day, for fear of wearing out the one he had taken off to
His Majesty, when His Majesty looked at him, and Her Majesty as well,
and they manifestly said to one another, what a very fine subject they
had found. Such was loyalty--aye, and royalty--in those times that we
despise.

But larger events demand our heed. There were forty thousand gallant
fellows, from the age of fifteen upwards, doing their best to look like
soldiers, and some almost succeeding. True it is that their legs and
arms were not all of one pattern, nor their hats put on their heads
alike--any more than the heads on their shoulders were--neither did they
swing together, as they would have done to a good swathe of grass; but
for all that, and making due allowance for the necessity they were under
of staring incessantly at the King, any man who understood them
would have praised them wonderfully. And they went about in such
wide formation, and occupied so much of their native land, that the
best-drilled regiment Napoleon possessed would have looked quite small
among them.

"They understand furze," said a fine young officer of the staff, who
had ridden up to Admiral Darling's carriage and saluted three ladies who
kept watch there. "I doubt whether many of the Regular forces would
have got through that brake half so well; certainly not without double
gaiters. If the French ever land, we must endeavour to draw them into
furzy ground, and then set the Volunteers at them. No Frenchman can do
much with prickles in his legs."

Lady Scudamore smiled, for she was thinking of her son, who would have
jumped over any furze-bush there--and the fir-trees too, according to
her conviction; Dolly also showed her very beautiful teeth; but Faith
looked at him gratefully.

"It is very kind of you, Lord Dashville, to say the best of us that you
can find to say. But I fear that you are laughing to yourself. You know
how well they mean; but you think they cannot do much."

"No, that is not what I think at all. So far as I can judge, which is
not much, I believe that they would be of the greatest service, if the
Country should unfortunately need them. Man for man, they are as brave
as trained troops, and many of them can shoot better. I don't mean to
say that they are fit to meet a French army in the open; but for acting
on their flanks, or rear, or in a wooded country--However, I have no
right to venture an opinion, having never seen active service."

Miss Darling looked at him with some surprise, and much approval of
his modesty. So strongly did most of the young officers who came to her
father's house lay down the law, and criticise even Napoleon's tactics.

"How beautiful Springhaven must be looking now!" he said, after Dolly
had offered her opinion, which she seldom long withheld. "The cottages
must be quite covered with roses, whenever they are not too near the
sea; and the trees at their best, full of leaves and blossoms, by the
side of the brook that feeds them. All the rest of the coast is so hard
and barren, and covered with chalk instead of grass, and the shore so
straight and staring. But I have never been there at this time of year.
How much you must enjoy it! Surely we ought to be able to see it, from
this high ground somewhere."

"Yes, if you will ride to that shattered tree," said Faith, "you will
have a very fine view of all the valley. You can see round the corner
of Foxhill there, which shuts out most of it just here. I think you have
met our Captain Stubbard."

"Ah, I must not go now; I may be wanted at any moment"--Lord Dashville
had very fine taste, but it was not the inanimate beauties of
Springhaven that he cared a dash for--"and I fear that I could never see
the roses there. I think there is nothing in all nature to compare with
a rose--except one thing."

Faith had a lovely moss-rose in her hat--a rose just peeping through
its lattice at mankind, before it should open and blush at them--and she
knew what it was that he admired more than the sweetest rose that
ever gemmed itself with dew. Lord Dashville had loved her, as she was
frightened to remember, for more than a year, because he could not help
it, being a young man of great common-sense, as well as fine taste, and
some knowledge of the world. "He knows to which side his bread will be
buttered," Mr. Swipes had remarked, as a keen observer. "If 'a can only
get Miss Faith, his bread 'll be buttered to both sides for life--his
self to one side, and her to do the tother. The same as I told Mother
Cloam--a man that knoweth his duty to head gardeners, as his noble
lordship doth, the same know the differ atwixt Miss Faith--as fine a
young 'ooman as ever looked into a pink--and that blow-away froth of a
thing, Miss Dolly."

This fine young woman, to use the words of Mr. Swipes, coloured softly,
at his noble lordship's gaze, to the tint of the rose-bud in her hat;
and then spoke coldly to countervail her blush.

"There is evidently something to be done directly. All the people are
moving towards the middle of the down. We must not be so selfish as to
keep you here, Lord Dashville."

"Why, don't you see what it is?" exclaimed Miss Dolly, hotly resenting
the part of second fiddle; "they are going to have the grand march-past.
These affairs always conclude with that. And we are in the worst part of
the whole down for seeing it. Lord Dashville will tell us where we ought
to go."

"You had better not attempt to move now," he answered, smiling as he
always smiled at Dolly, as if she were a charming but impatient child;
"you might cause some confusion, and perhaps see nothing. And now I
must discharge my commission, which I am quite ashamed of having left
so long. His Majesty hopes, when the march-past is over, to receive a
march-up of fair ladies. He has a most wonderful memory, as you know,
and his nature is the kindest of the kind. As soon as he heard that Lady
Scudamore was here, and Admiral Darling's daughters with her, he said:
'Bring them all to me, every one of them; young Scudamore has done good
work, good work. And I want to congratulate his mother about him. And
Darling's daughters, I must see them. Why, we owe the security of the
coast to him.' And so, if you please, ladies, be quite ready, and allow
me the honour of conducting you."

With a low bow, he set off about his business, leaving the ladies in a
state of sweet disturbance. Blyth Scudamore's mother wept a little, for
ancient troubles and present pleasure. Lord Dashville could not repeat
before her all that the blunt old King had said: "Monstrous ill-treated
woman, shameful, left without a penny, after all her poor husband did
for me and the children! Not my fault a bit--fault of the Whigs--always
stingy--said he made away with himself--bad example--don't believe a
word of it; very cheerful man. Blown by now, at any rate--must see
what can be done for her--obliged to go for governess--disgrace to the
Crown!"

Faith, with her quiet self-respect, and the largeness learned from
sorrow, was almost capable of not weeping that she had left at home her
apple-green Poland mantlet and jockey bonnet of lilac satin checked with
maroon. But Dolly had no such weight of by-gone sorrow to balance
her present woe, and the things she had left at home were infinitely
brighter than that dowdy Faith's.

"Is there time to drive back? Is there time to drive home? The King
knows father, and he will be astonished to see a pair of frumps, and
he won't understand one bit about the dust, or the sun that takes the
colour out. He will think we have got all our best things on. Oh,
Lady Scudamore, how could you do it? You told us to put on quite plain
things, because of the dust, and the sun, and all that; and it might
come to rain, you said--as if it was likely, when the King was on the
hill! And with all your experience of the King and Queen, that you told
us about last evening, you must have known that they would send for us.
Gregory, how long would it take you to go home, at full gallop, allow us
half an hour in the house, and be back here again, when all these people
are gone by?"

"Well, miss, there be a steepish bit of road, and a many ockard
cornders; I should say 'a might do it in two hours and a half, with a
fresh pair of nags put in while you ladies be a-cleaning of yourselves,
miss. Leastways, if Hadmiral not object."

"Hadmiral, as you call him, would have nothing to do with it"--Dolly was
always free-spoken with the servants, which made her very popular with
some of them--"he has heavier duty than he can discharge. But two hours
and a half is hopeless; we must even go as we are."

Coachman Gregory smiled in his sleeve. He knew that the Admiral had that
day a duty far beyond his powers--to bring up his Sea-Fencibles to see
the King--upon which they had insisted--and then to fetch them all
back again, and send them on board of their several craft in a state of
strict sobriety. And Gregory meant to bear a hand, and lift it pretty
frequently towards the most loyal part of man, in the large festivities
of that night. He smacked his lips at the thought of this, and gave a
little flick to his horses.

After a long time, long enough for two fair drives to Springhaven and
back, and when even the youngest were growing weary of glare, and dust,
and clank, and din, and blare, and roar, and screeching music, Lord
Dashville rode up through a cloud of roving chalk, and after a little
talk with the ladies, ordered the coachman to follow him. Then stopping
the carriage at a proper distance, he led the three ladies towards the
King, who was thoroughly tired, and had forgotten all about them. His
Majesty's sole desire was to get into his carriage and go to sleep; for
he was threescore years and six of age, and his health not such as it
used to be. Ever since twelve o'clock he had been sitting in a box made
of feather-edged boards, which the newspapers called a pavilion, having
two little curtains (both of which stuck fast) for his only defence
against sun, noise, and dust. Moreover, his seat was a board full of
knots, with a strip of thin velvet thrown over it; and Her Majesty
sitting towards the other end (that the public might see between them),
and weighing more than he did, every time she jumped up, he went down,
and every time she plumped down, he went up. But he never complained,
and only slowly got tired. "Thank God!" he said, gently, "it's all over
now. My dear, you must be monstrous tired; and scarcely a bit to eat all
day. But I locked some in the seat-box this morning--no trusting anybody
but oneself. Let us get into the coach and have at them." "Ja, ja,
meinherr," said the Queen.

"If it please your Majesties"--a clear voice entered between the
bonnet-hoods of the curtains--"here are the ladies whose attendance I
was ordered to require."

"Ladies!--what ladies?" asked King George, rubbing his eyes, and
yawning. "Oh yes, to be sure! I mustn't get up so early to-morrow. Won't
take a minute, my dear. Let them come. Not much time to spare."

But as soon as he saw Lady Scudamore, the King's good-nature overcame
the weariness of the moment. He took her kindly by the hand, and looked
at her face, which bore the mark of many heavy trials; and she, who had
often seen him when the world was bright before her, could not smother
one low sob, as she thought of all that had been since.

"Don't cry, don't cry, my dear," said the King, with his kind heart
showing in his eyes; "we must bow to the will of the Lord, who gives sad
trials to every one of us. We must think of the good, and not the evil.
Bless me, keep your spirits up. Your son is doing very well indeed,
very well indeed, from all I hear. Good chip of the old block, very good
chip. Will cure my grandchildren, as soon as they want it; and nobody is
ever in good health now."

"No, your Majesty, if you please, my son is in the Royal Navy, fighting
for his Country and his King. And he has already captured--"

"Three French frigates. To be sure, I know. Better than curing three
hundred people. Fine young officer--very fine young officer. Must come
to see me when he gets older. There, you are laughing! That's as it
should be. Goodbye, young ladies. Forty miles to go tonight, and very
rough roads--very rough indeed. Monstrous pretty girls! Uncommon glad
that George wasn't here to see them. Better stay in the country--too
good for London. Must be off; sha'n't have a bit o' sleep to-night,
because of sleeping the whole way there, and then sure to be late in
the morning, not a bit of breakfast till eight o'clock, and all the day
thrown upside down! Darlings, Darlings--the right name for them! But
they mustn't come to London. No, no, no. Too much wickedness there
already. Very glad George wasn't here to-day!"

His Majesty was talking, as he always did, with the firm conviction
that his words intended for the public ear would reach it, while
those addressed, without change of tone, to himself, would be strictly
private. But instead of offending any one, this on the whole gave great
satisfaction, and impressed nine people out of ten with a strong and
special regard for him, because almost every one supposed himself to be
admitted at first sight to the inner confidence of the King. And to what
could he attribute this? He would do his own merits great demerit unless
he attributed it to them, and to the King an unusual share of sagacity
in perceiving them.



CHAPTER XLIV

DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN


That grand review at Shotbury was declared by all who took part in it,
or at all understood the subject, to have been a most remarkable and
quite unparalleled success. Not only did it show what noble stuff there
is in Englishmen, and how naturally they take to arms, but also it
inspired with martial feeling and happy faith the wives and mothers of
all the gallant warriors there. It would make the blood-stained despot
cower upon his throne of murder, and teach him the madness of invading
any land so fortified.

However, Napoleon failed to see the matter in that wholesome light, and
smiled a grim and unkind smile as he read Caryl Carne's report of those
"left-handed and uncouth manoeuvres." "One of your Majesty's feeblest
regiments would send the whole of those louts to the devil; and I
am bound to impress once more, with all deference to your infallible
judgment, the vast importance of carrying out your grand designs at
the first moment. All is prepared on my part. One day's notice is all I
need."

So wrote Carne; and perhaps the truth, as usual, lay about half-way
between the two opinions. Even Carne was not admitted to a perfect
knowledge of his master's schemes. But to keep things moving and men
alert, the Emperor came to the coast at once, busy as he was in Paris,
and occupied for several weeks, with short intervals of absence, the
house prepared for him near Boulogne, whence he watched and quickened
the ripening of his mighty plans against us.

Now Carne himself, while working with new vigour and fresh enterprise,
had a narrow escape from invasion. Captain Stubbard, stirred up now and
again by Mr. Twemlow, had thoroughly searched all covered places, likely
to harbour gunpowder, within at least six miles of his fort, that is to
say, all likely places, save and except the right one. By doing this
he had done for himself--as regards sweet hospitality--among all the
leading farmers, maltsters, tanners, and millers for miles around. Even
those whose premises were not entered, as if they had been Frenchmen,
had a brother-in-law, or at least a cousin, whose wooden bars had been
knocked up. And the most atrocious thing of all, if there could be
anything worse than worst, was that the Captain dined one day, at a
market-ordinary, with Farmer, or you might say Squire Hanger--for the
best part of his land followed to him from his father--and had rum and
water with him, and spoke his health, and tucked Mrs. Hanger up into the
shay, and rode alongside to guarantee them; and then the next day, on
the very same horse, up he comes at Hanger-dene, and overhauls every tub
on the premises, with a parchment as big as a malt-shovel! Such a man
was not fit to lay a knife and fork by.

Some sense of the harm he had done to himself, without a bit of good to
any one, dwelt heavily in the Captain's mind, as he rode up slowly upon
the most amiable of the battery-horses--for all sailors can ride, from
long practice on the waves--and struck a stern stroke, with a stick like
a linstock, upon the old shutter that served for a door and the
front entrance to Carne Castle. There used to be a fine old piece
of workmanship in solid and bold oak here, a door divided in the
middle--else no man might swing it back--and even so pierced with a
wicket, for small people to get through. That mighty door was not worn
out, for it was not three hundred years old yet, and therefore scarcely
in middle life; but the mortgagees who had sacked the place of all that
was worth a sack to hold it, these had a very fine offer for that door,
from a rich man come out of a dust-bin. And this was one of the many
little things that made Caryl Carne unpleasant.

"I do not require production of your warrant. The whole place is open to
your inspection," said Carne, who had long been prepared for this visit;
"open to all the winds and rains, and the lower part sometimes filled
with water. The upper rooms, or rather the few that remain of them, are
scarcely safe for a person of any weight to walk in, but you are most
welcome to try them, if you like; and this gentleman, I think, might not
fall through. Here are my quarters; not quite so snug as my little room
at the widow's; but I can offer you some bread and cheese, and a glass
of country cider. The vaults or cellars have held good wine in their
time, but only empty casks and broken bottles now."

Captain Stubbard had known for many years the silent woes of poverty,
and now he observed with some good-will the young man's sad but haughty
smile. Then he ordered his young subaltern, his battery-mate, as he
called him, to ascend the broad crumbling staircase, and glance into the
dismantled chambers, while himself with the third of the party--a trusty
old gunner--should inspect the cellarage.

"We will not keep you long, sir," he said to Carne; "and if you are kind
enough to show us the way, which is easily lost in a place of this kind,
we shall be all the quicker. Wilkins, when you have done up there, wait
here for us. Shall we want a light, sir?"

"In the winter, you could hardly do without one, but at this time of
year, I think you may. At any rate I will bring a lantern, and we can
light it if wanted. But the truth is that I know next to nothing of
those sepulchral places. They would not be very tempting, even without a
ghost, which they are said to have."

"A ghost!" cried the Captain; "I don't like that. Not that I have much
faith in them; although one never can be sure. But at this time of
day--What is it like?"

"I have never seen her, and am quite content without it. It is said to
be an ancestress of mine, a Lady Cordelia Carne, who was murdered, when
her husband was away, and buried down there, after being thrown into the
moat. The old people say that whenever her ghost is walking, the water
of the moat bursts in and covers the floor of the vaults, that she may
flit along it, as she used to do. But of course one must not listen to
that sort of fable."

"Perhaps you will go in front, sir, because you know the way. It is my
duty to inspect these places; and I am devilish sorry for it; but my
duty must be done."

"You shall see every hole and corner, including the stone that was put
up to commemorate her murder and keep her quiet. But I should explain
that these vaults extend for the entire length of the building, except
just in the middle, where we now stand. For a few yards the centre of
the building seems to have never been excavated, as to which you will
convince yourself. You may call the cellars east and west, or right and
left, or north and south, or uphill and downhill, or anything else, for
really they are so much alike, and partitioned into cells so much alike,
that I scarcely know which is which myself, coming suddenly from the
daylight. But you understand those things much better. A sailor always
knows his bearings. This leads to the entrance of one set."

Carne led the Captain and old Gunner Bob--as he was called in the
battery--along a dark and narrow passage, whose mouth was browed with
ivy. Half-way through, they found an archway on the right-hand side,
opening at right angles into long and badly lighted vaults. In this arch
there was no door; but a black step-ladder (made of oak, no doubt), very
steep and rather rickety, was planted to tempt any venturesome foot.

"Are you sure this ladder is safe?"--the Captain was by no means in love
with the look of it. "My weight has increased remarkably in the fine air
of Springhaven. If the bottom is rotten, the top won't help us."

"Let me go first. It is my duty, as the owner; and I have no family
dependent on me. My neck is of no value, compared to yours, Captain."

"How I have mistaken this young man!" thought the brave yet prudent
Stubbard. "I called him a Frenchified fool, whereas he is a downright
Englishman! I shall ask him to dinner next week, if Jemima can get a new
leg for the dripping-pan."

Following warily, with Gunner Bob behind him, and not disdaining the
strong arm of the owner, the Captain of Foxhill was landed in the vault,
and being there, made a strict examination. He even poked his short
sword into the bung-holes of three or four empty barrels, that Bob might
be satisfied also in his conscience. "Matter of form," he said, "matter
of form, sir, when we know who people are; but you might have to do it
yourself, sir, if you were in the service of your King. You ought to be
that, Mr. Carne; and it is not too late, in such days as these are, to
begin. Take my advice--such a fine young man!"

"Alas, my dear sir, I cannot afford it. What officer can live upon his
pay for a generation?"

"Gospel truth!" cried the Captain, warmly; "Gospel truth! and more than
that--he must be the last of his generation, or else send his young 'uns
to the workhouse. What things I could tell you, Mr. Carne! But here we
are at the end of the vaults; all empty, as I can certify; and I hope,
my dear sir, that you may live to see them filled with good wine, as
they used to be."

"Thank you, but there is no hope of that. Shall we take the vaults
of the other end next, or examine the chapel, and the outer
buildings--outer ruins, I should say?"

"Oh, a little open air first, for goodness sake!" said the Captain,
going heavily up the old steps; "I am pretty nearly choked with all this
mildew. A little fresh air, before we undertake the other lot."

As soon as the echo of their steps was dead, Charron, old Jerry, and
another man jumped down from a loop-hole into the vault they had left,
piled up a hoarding at the entrance, and with a crowbar swung back a
heavy oak hatch in the footings of the outer wall. A volume of water
poured in from the moat, or rather from the stream which had once
supplied it. Seeing this, they disappeared with a soft and pleasant
chuckle.

The owner kept Stubbard such a time among the ruins, telling him some
fine old legends, and otherwise leading him in and out, that when a bit
of food and a glass of old Cognac was proposed by way of interlude,
the Captain heartily embraced the offer. Then Carne conducted his three
visitors, for Wilkins had now rejoined them, into a low room poorly
furnished, and regaled them beyond his promise. "Rare stuff!" exclaimed
Stubbard, with a wink at Carne. "Ah, I see that free-trade still exists.
No concern of mine, except to enjoy its benefits. Here's to your very
good health, sir, and I am proud to have made your acquaintance."

"Have another drop; it can hurt no one," Carne declared, and the Captain
acquiesced.

"Well, I suppose we must finish our job," the official visitor at length
pronounced; "a matter of form, sir, and no offence; but we are bound
to carry out our duty. There is nothing left, except the other lot of
vaults; but the light begins to fail us, for underground work. I hope
they are not so dark as those we have been through."

"Just about the same. You would hardly know one set from the other, as
I told you, except for the stone that records the murder. Perhaps we had
better light the lantern now?"

"By all means. I don't half like that story of the lady that walks on
the water. It does seem so gashly and unchristian altogether. Not that I
have any fear of ghosts--not likely, for I have never even seen one."

"I have," said Gunner Bob, in a deep voice, which made them all glance
through the ivy. "I have, and a fearful one it were."

"Don't be a fool, Bob," the Captain whispered; "we don't want to hear
about that now. Allow me to carry the lantern, Mr. Carne; it throws such
shadows from the way you hold it. Why, surely, this is where we were
before!"

"You might easily fancy so," Carne answered, smiling, "especially with a
mind at all excited--"

"My mind is not excited, sir; not at all excited; but as calm as it ever
was in all its life."

"Then two things will show you that these are the other vaults. The arch
is on your left hand, instead of on your right"--he had brought them in
now from the other end of the passage--"and this entrance, as you see,
has a door in it, which the other had not. Perhaps the door is to keep
the ghost in"--his laugh sounded hollow, and like a mocking challenge
along the dark roof--"for this is the part she is supposed to walk in.
But so much for the door! The money-lenders have not left us a door that
will stand a good kick. You may find our old doors in Wardour Street."

As he spoke, he set foot against the makeshift door, and away it went,
as he had predicted. Crashing on the steps as it fell, it turned over,
and a great splash arose at the bottom.

"Why, bless my heart, there is a flood of water there!" cried Stubbard,
peeping timidly down the steps, on which (if the light had been clear,
and that of his mind in the same condition) he might have seen the marks
of his own boots. "A flood of water, perhaps six feet deep! I could
scarcely have believed, but for that and the door, that these were not
the very vaults that we have examined. But what business has the water
there?"

"No business at all, any more than we have," Carne answered, with some
rudeness, for it did not suit him to encourage too warmly the friendship
of Captain Stubbard; "but I told you that the place becomes covered with
water whenever the ghost intends to walk. Probably there is not more
than a foot of water"--there was in fact about three inches--"and as you
are bound to carry out your duty--"

"My dear sir, I am satisfied, perfectly satisfied. Who could keep
gunpowder under water, or even in a flooded cellar? I shall have the
greatest pleasure in reporting that I searched Carne Castle--not of
course suspiciously, but narrowly, as we are bound to do, in execution
of our warrant--"

"If you would not mind looking in this direction," whispered Carne, who
could never be contented, "I think I could show you, just beyond the
murder-stone--yes, and it seems to be coming towards us, as white as a
winding-sheet; do come and look."

"No, sir, no; it is not my duty"--the Captain turned away, with his hair
upon the rise. "I was sent here to look for saltpetre, not spectres. No
officer in His Majesty's service can be expected--Bob, and Wilkins, are
you there?"

"Yes, sir, yes--we have had quite enough of this; and unless you give
the orders--"

"Here she comes, I do declare!" whispered Carne, with extraordinary
calmness.

"Bob, and Wilkins, give me one arm each. Make for daylight in close
order. You may be glad to see your grandmother, young man; but I decline
to have anything to say to her. Bob, and Wilkins, bear a hand; I feel a
little shaky in my lower timbers. Run for your lives, but don't leave
me behind. Run, lads, like the very devil!" For a groan of sepulchral
depth, and big enough to lift a granite tombstone, issued from the
vault, and wailed along the sombre archway. All the Artillerymen fled,
as if the muzzle of their biggest gun was slewed upon them, and very
soon the sound of horses' heels, urged at a perilous pace down the hill,
rang back as the echo of that grand groan.

"I think I did that pretty well, my Captain," cried Charron, ascending
from the vault with dripping boots; "I deserve a glass of Cognac, if
they have left me any. Happy is Stoobar that he was contented, without
breaking his neck at the inspector's step."

"He has satisfied his conscience," Carne answered, grimly; "yet it
cannot be blameless, to make him run so fast. I am glad we have been
saved from killing them. It would have been hard to know what to do
next. But he will never trouble us here again."



CHAPTER XLV

FATHER, AND CHILD


"Tell Miss Faith, when she comes in, that I shall be glad to see her,"
said Admiral Darling to his trusty butler, one hot afternoon in August.
He had just come home from a long rough ride, to spend at least one day
in his own house, and after overhauling his correspondence, went into
the dining-room, as the coolest in the house, to refresh himself a
little with a glass of light wine before going up to dress for dinner.
There he sat in an arm-chair, and looked at his hands, which were
browned by the sun, and trembling from a long period of heavy work and
light sleep. He was getting too old to endure it with impunity, yet
angry with himself for showing it. But he was not thinking of himself
alone.

"I hope she will be sensible"--he was talking to himself, as elderly
people are apt to do, especially after being left to themselves; "I hope
she will see the folly of it--of living all her life as the bride of
a ghost; and herself such a beautiful, cheerful darling! Loving,
warm-hearted, sweet-tempered, adoring children, and adored by them;
obedient, gentle--I can't think of anything good that she hasn't got,
except common-sense. And even for that, I like her all the more; because
it is so different from all the other girls. They have got too much--one
lover out of sight, even for a month or two, gone fighting for his
Country, what do they do but take up with another, as I very greatly
fear our Dolly would? But Faith--Why, my darling, how well you look!"

"How I wish that I could say the same of you, dear father!" said the
lovely young woman, while kissing him, and smoothing with her soft hand
his wrinkled forehead; "you never used to have these little tucks and
gathers here. I would rather almost that the French should come and
devour us all, than see my father, whenever we do see him, once in a
month, say, gauffred like this--as their laundresses do it--and getting
reduced to the Classical shape, so that I can put one arm round him."

"My darling," said the Admiral, though proud at heart of the
considerable reduction of his stomach, "you should not say such things
to me, to remind me how very old I am!"

Fathers are crafty, and daughters childish, as behoves the both of them.
The Admiral knew, as well as if he had ordered it, what Faith would do.
And she must have perceived his depth, if only she had taken a moment to
think of it. Because when she plumped, like a child, into his arms, how
came his arms to be so wide open? and when two great tears rolled down
her cheeks, how sprang his handkerchief so impromptu out from beneath
his braided lappet?

"Tell me what harm I have done," she asked, with a bright smile dawning
through the dew of her dark eyes; "what have I done to vex you, father,
that you say things fit to make me cry? And yet I ought to laugh,
because I know so well that you are only fishing for compliments. You
are getting so active that I shall be frightened to go for a walk or
a ride with you. Only I do love to see you look fat, and your darling
forehead smooth and white."

"My dear child, I must get up my substance. This very day I begin in
earnest. Because I am to be a great man, Faith. How would you like to
have to call me 'Sir Charles'?"

"Not at all, darling; except when you deserve it, by being cross to me;
and that never, never happens. I wish there was more chance of it."

"Well, dear, if you won't, the other people must; for His Majesty has
been graciously pleased to turn me into a Baronet. He says that I have
earned it; and perhaps I have; at any rate, he put it so nicely that
without being churlish I could not refuse. And it will be a good thing
for Frank, I hope, by bringing him back from his democratic stuff. To
myself it is useless; but my children ought to like it."

"And so they will, father, for your own dear sake. Let me be the first
to salute you, father. Oh, Dolly will be in such a rage because you told
me, without telling her!"

"I never thought of that," said the Admiral, simply; "I am afraid that
I shall get in for it. However, I have a right to please myself, and you
need not tell her until I do. But that is not all my news, and not by
any means the best of it. The King was reminded, the other day, of all
that he and his family owe to the late Sir Edmond Scudamore, and better
late than never, he has ordered your governess, as he called her, to be
put on the list for a pension of 300 pounds a year. Nothing that once
gets into his head can ever be got out of it, and he was shocked at
seeing his old physician's widow 'gone out as a governess--gone out as
a governess--great disgrace to the royal family!' I am very glad that it
happened so."

"And so am I. She ought to have had it long and long ago, especially
after the sad misfortune of her husband. You will let me tell her? It
will be such a pleasure."

"Certainly, my dear; you are the very one to do it. Tell her that her
eldest pupil is come with a little piece of news for her; it will make
her smile--she has a very pretty smile, which reminds me of the
gallant Blyth. And now, my child, the third piece of news concerns
yourself--your good, and dutiful, and exceedingly sensible self. Ahem!"
cried the Admiral, as he always did, when he feared that he might have
overstepped the truth.

"I know what it is; you need not tell me," Faith answered, confirming
her fear at once. "It is no use, father; it is no good at all--unless
you intend to forget your own promise."

"That I shall never do," he replied, while looking at her sadly; "no, my
dear child, I shall never attempt to drive instead of lead you. But you
have not heard me out as yet. You don't even know who it is I mean."

"Oh yes, I do; I know well enough, father. I am not like Dolly,
universally admired. Because I do not want to be. You mean Lord
Dashville--can you tell me that you don't?"

"No, my dear"--Sir Charles was a little surprised that Faith should be
so quick, for (like most people of gentle nature) she was taken to
be slow, because she never snapped--"I cannot deny that it is Lord
Dashville, because that is the man, and no other. But how you could tell
surpasses me, and it shows that he must be very often in your mind:"
the Admiral thought he had caught her there. "Now can you say anything
against him? Is he not honest, manly, single-minded, faithful as
yourself, I do believe, good-looking, well-bred, a Tory, and a
gentleman, certain to make any woman happy whom he loves? Can you say a
syllable against all that?"

"No," replied Faith--a very long, slow "no," as if she only wished she
could say something hard about him.

"Very well," her father went on, with triumph, "and can you deny that
he is just the person you might have taken a great liking to--fallen
in love with, as they call it--if only he had come before your mind
was full of somebody else--a very fine young fellow, no doubt; but--my
darling, I won't say a word against him, only you know what I mean too
well. And are you forever to be like a nun because it has pleased the
Lord to take him from you?"

"Lord Dashville has not advanced himself in my good opinion, if he cares
for that," said Faith, starting sideways, as a woman always does, from
the direct issue, "by going to you, when I declined to have anything
more to say to him."

"My dear, you are unjust," replied Sir Charles; "not purposely, I know,
for you are the most upright darling that can be, in general. But you
accuse young Dashville of what he never did. It was his good mother, the
Countess of Blankton, a most kind-hearted and lady-like person, without
any nonsense about her, who gave me the best cup of tea I ever tasted,
and spoke with the very best feeling possible. She put it so sweetly
that I only wish you could have been there to hear her."

"Father, what is the good of it all? You hate turncoats even worse than
traitors. Would you like your daughter to be one? And when she would
seem to have turned her coat--for the ladies wear coats now, the horrid
ugly things!--for the sake of position, and title, and all that. If Lord
Dashville had been a poor man, with his own way to make in the world, a
plain Mister, there might have been more to be said for it. But to
think that I should throw over my poor darling because he will come home
without a penny, and perhaps tattoed, but at any rate turned black, for
the sake of a coronet, and a heap of gold--oh, father, I shall break
down, if you go on so!"

"My dear girl, I will not say a word to vex you. But you are famous for
common-sense, as well as every other good quality, and I would ask you
to employ just a little of it. Can you bear me to speak of your trouble,
darling?"

"Oh yes, I am so well accustomed to it now; and I know that it is
nothing compared to what thousands of people have to bear. Sometimes I
am quite ashamed of giving way to it."

"You do not give way to it, Faith. No person can possibly say that of
you. You are my brave, unselfish, cheerful, sweet-natured, upright, and
loving child. Nobody knows, but you and I--and perhaps I know it even
more than you do--the greatness of the self-command you use, to be
pleasant and gay and agreeable, simply for the sake of those around
you."

"Then, father," cried Faith, who was surprised at this, for the Admiral
had never said a word about such matters, "you think, after all, that I
am--that I am almost as good as Dolly!"

"You jealous little vixen, I shall recall every word I have said in your
favour! My child, and my pride, you are not only as good as Dolly, but
my best hope is that when Dolly grows older she may be like you. Don't
cry, darling; I can't stand crying, when it comes from eyes that so
seldom do it. And now that you know what I think of you, allow me to
think a little for you. I have some right to interfere in your life; you
will allow that--won't you?"

"Father, you have all right, and a thousand times as much, because you
are so gentle about using it."

"I calls that bad English, as Zeb Tugwell says when he doesn't want to
understand a thing. But, my pretty dear, you must remember that you
will not have a father always. Who will look after you, when I am gone,
except the Almighty?--and He does not do it, except for the few who
look after themselves. It is my duty to consider these points, and they
override sentimentality. To me it is nothing that Dashville will be
an Earl, and a man of great influence, if he keeps up his present high
character; but it is something to me that I find him modest,
truthful, not led away by phantoms, a gentleman--which is more than a
nobleman--and with his whole heart given to my dear child Faith."

Faith sighed heavily, partly for herself, but mainly, perhaps, for the
sake of a fine heart sadly thrown away on her. "I believe he is all
that," she said.

"In that case, what more can you have?" pursued the triumphant Admiral.
"It is one of the clearest things I ever knew, and one of the most
consistent"--consistent was a great word in those days--"as well as in
every way desirable. Consider, not yourself--which you never do--but
the state of the Country, and of Dolly. They have made me a baronet,
for being away from home nearly every night of my life; and if I had
Dashville to see to things here, I might stay away long enough to be a
lord myself, like my late middy the present Duke of Bronte."

Faith laughed heartily. "You call me jealous! My dear father, I know
that you could have done a great deal more than Lord Nelson has, because
he learned all that he knows from you. And now who is it that really
defends the whole south coast of England against the French? Is it Lord
Nelson? He has as much as he can do to look after their fleet in the
Mediterranean. Admiral Cornwallis and Sir Charles Darling are the real
defenders of England."

"No, my dear, you must never say that, except of course in private.
There may be some truth in it, but it would be laughed at in the present
condition of the public mind. History may do me justice; but after all
it is immaterial. A man who does his duty should be indifferent to the
opinion of the public, which begins more and more to be formed less
by fact than by the newspapers of the day. But let us return to more
important matters. You are now in a very sensible frame of mind. You see
what my wishes are about you, and how reasonable they are. I should be
so happy, my darling child, if you would consider them sensibly, and
yield some little of your romantic views. I would not ask you unless
I were sure that this man loves you as you deserve, and in his own
character deserves your love."

"Then, father, will this content you, dear? Unless I hear something of
Erle Twemlow, to show that he is living, and still holds to me, in the
course of another twelvemonth, Lord Dashville, or anybody else, may
try--may try to take his place with me. Only I must not be worried--I
mean, I must not hear another word about it, until the time has quite
expired."

"It is a very poor concession, Faith. Surely you might say half a year.
Consider, it is nearly three years now--"

"No, papa, I should despise myself if I were so unjust to one so
unlucky. And I only go so much from my own wishes because you are such a
dear and good father. Not a bit of it for Lord Dashville's sake."

"Well, my poor darling," the Admiral replied, for he saw that she was
upon the brink of tears, and might hate Lord Dashville if further urged,
"half a loaf is better than no bread. If Dashville is worthy of your
constant heart, he will stand this long trial of his constancy. This is
the tenth day of August, 1804. I hope that the Lord may be pleased to
spare me till the 10th of August, 1805. High time for them to come and
lay the cloth. I am as hungry as a hunter."



CHAPTER XLVI

CATAMARANS


Napoleon had shown no proper dread of the valiant British volunteers,
but kept his festival in August, and carried on his sea-side plans, as
if there were no such fellows. Not content with that, he even flouted
our blockading fleet by coming out to look at them. And if one of our
frigates had shot straight, she might have saved millions of lives and
billions of money, at the cost of one greatly bad life. But the poor
ship knew not her opportunity, or she would rather have gone to the
bottom than waste it.

Now the French made much of this affair, according to their nature; and
histories of it, full of life and growth, ran swiftly along the
shallow shore, and even to Paris, the navel of the earth. Frenchmen of
letters--or rather of papers--declared that all England was smitten with
dismay; and so she might have been, if she had heard of it. But as our
neighbours went home again, as soon as the water was six fathoms
deep, few Englishmen knew that they had tried to smell a little of the
sea-breeze, outside the smell of their inshore powder. They were pleased
to get ashore again, and talk it over, with vivid description of the
things that did not happen.

"Such scenes as these tended much to agitate England," writes a great
French historian. "The British Press, arrogant and calumnious, as the
Press always is in a free country, railed much at Napoleon and his
preparations; but railed as one who trembles at that which he would fain
exhibit as the object of his laughter." It may have been so, but it is
not to be seen in any serious journal of that time. He seems to have
confounded coarse caricaturists with refined and thoughtful journalists,
even as, in the account of that inshore skirmish, he turns a gun-brig
into a British frigate. However, such matters are too large for us.

It was resolved at any rate to try some sort of a hit at all these
very gallant Frenchmen, moored under their own batteries, and making
horse-marines of themselves, whenever Neptune, the father of the horse,
permitted. The jolly English tars, riding well upon the waves, sent many
a broad grin through a spy-glass at Muncher Crappo tugging hard to get
his nag into his gun-boat and then to get him out again, because his
present set of shoes would not be worn out in England. Every sailor
loves a horse, regarding him as a boat on legs, and therefore knowing
more about him than any landlubber may feign to know.

But although they would have been loth to train a gun on the noble
animal, who was duly kept beyond their range, all the British sailors
longed to have a bout with the double tier of hostile craft moored
off the shore within shelter of French batteries. Every day they could
reckon at least two hundred sail of every kind of rig invented since
the time of Noah, but all prepared to destroy instead of succouring the
godly. It was truly grievous to see them there and not be able to get at
them, for no ship of the line or even frigate could get near enough to
tackle them. Then the British Admiral, Lord Keith, resolved after much
consultation to try what could be done with fire-ships.

Blyth Scudamore, now in command of the Blonde, had done much excellent
service, in cutting off stragglers from the French flotilla, and driving
ashore near Vimereux some prames and luggers coming from Ostend. He
began to know the French coast and the run of the shoals like a native
pilot; for the post of the Blonde, and some other light ships, was
between the blockading fleet and the blockaded, where perpetual
vigilance was needed. This sharp service was the very thing required to
improve his character, to stamp it with decision and self-reliance, and
to burnish his quiet, contemplative vein with the very frequent friction
of the tricks of mankind. These he now was strictly bound not to study,
but anticipate, taking it as first postulate that every one would
cheat him, if permitted. To a scrimpy and screwy man, of the type most
abundant, such a position would have done a deal of harm, shutting him
up into his own shell harder, and flinting its muricated horns against
the world. But with the gentle Scuddy, as the boys at school had called
him, the process of hardening was beneficial, as it is with pure gold,
which cannot stand the wear and tear of the human race until it has been
reduced by them at least to the mark of their twenty carats.

And now it was a fine thing for Scudamore--even as a man too
philanthropic was strengthened in his moral tone (as his wife found out)
by being compelled to discharge the least pleasant of the duties of a
county sheriff--or if not a fine thing, at least it was a wholesome and
durable corrective to all excess of lenience, that duty to his country
and mankind compelled the gentle Scuddy to conduct the western division
of this night-attack.

At this time there was in the public mind, which is quite of full
feminine agility, a strong prejudice against the use of fire-ships.
Red-hot cannon-balls, and shrapnel, langrage, chain-shot, and
Greek-fire--these and the like were all fair warfare, and France might
use them freely. But England (which never is allowed to do, without
hooting and execration, what every other country does with loud
applause)--England must rather burn off her right hand than send a
fire-ship against the ships full of fire for her houses, her cottages,
and churches. Lord Keith had the sense to laugh at all that stuff, but
he had not the grand mechanical powers which have now enabled the human
race, not to go, but to send one another to the stars. A clumsy affair
called a catamaran, the acephalous ancestor of the torpedo, was expected
to relieve the sea of some thousands of people who had no business
there. This catamaran was a water-proof box about twenty feet long, and
four feet wide, narrowed at the ends, like a coffin for a giant. It
was filled with gunpowder, and ballasted so that its lid, or deck, was
almost awash; and near its stern was a box containing clock movements
that would go for about ten minutes, upon the withdrawal of a peg
outside, and then would draw a trigger and explode the charge. This
wondrous creature had neither oar nor sail, but demanded to be towed to
the tideward of the enemy, then have the death-watch set going, and be
cast adrift within hail of the enemy's line. Then as soon as it came
across their mooring cables, its duty was to slide for a little way
along them in a friendly manner, lay hold of them kindly with its long
tail, which consisted of a series of grappling-hooks buoyed with cork,
and then bringing up smartly alongside of the gun-boats, blow itself up,
and carry them up with it. How many there were of these catamarans is
not quite certain, but perhaps about a score, the intention being to
have ten times as many, on the next occasion, if these did well. And no
doubt they would have done well, if permitted; but they failed of their
purpose, like the great Guy Fawkes, because they were prevented.

For the French, by means of treacherous agents--of whom perhaps Caryl
Carne was one, though his name does not appear in the despatches--knew
all about this neat little scheme beforehand, and set their wits at work
to defeat it. Moreover, they knew that there were four fire-ships,
one of which was the Peggy of Springhaven, intended to add to the
consternation and destruction wrought by the catamarans. But they did
not know that, by some irony of fate, the least destructive and most
gentle of mankind was ordered to take a leading part in shattering man,
and horse, and even good dogs, into vapours.

Many quiet horses, and sweet-natured dogs, whose want of breeding had
improved their manners, lived in this part of the great flotilla, and
were satisfied to have their home where it pleased the Lord to feed
them. The horses were led to feed out of the guns, that they might not
be afraid of them; and they struggled against early prejudice, to like
wood as well as grass, and to get sea-legs. Man put them here to suit
his own ideas; of that they were quite aware, and took it kindly,
accepting superior powers, and inferior use of them, without a shade
of question in their eyes. To their innocent minds it was never brought
home that they were tethered here, and cropping clots instead of
clover, for the purpose of inspiring in their timid friends ashore the
confidence a horse reposes in a brother horse, but very wisely doubts
about investing in mankind. For instance, whenever a wild young animal,
a new recruit for the cavalry, was haled against his judgment by a man
on either side to the hollow-sounding gangway over dancing depth of
peril, these veteran salts of horses would assure him, with a neigh from
the billowy distance, that they were not drowned yet, but were walking
on a sort of gate, and got their victuals regular. On the other hand,
as to the presence of the dogs, that requires no explanation. Was
there ever a time or place in which a dog grudged his sprightly and
disinterested service, or failed to do his best when called upon? These
French dogs, whom the mildest English mastiff would have looked upon,
or rather would have shut his eyes at, as a lot of curs below contempt,
were as full of fine ardour for their cause and country as any noble
hound that ever sate like a statue on a marble terrace.

On the first of October all was ready for this audacious squibbing of
the hornet's nest, and the fleet of investment (which kept its distance
according to the weather and the tides) stood in, not bodily so as to
arouse excitement, but a ship at a time sidling in towards the coast,
and traversing one another's track, as if they were simply exchanging
stations. The French pretended to take no heed, and did not call in a
single scouting craft, but showed every sign of having all eyes shut.
Nothing, however, was done that night, by reason perhaps of the weather;
but the following night being favourable, and the British fleet brought
as nigh as it durst come, the four fire-ships were despatched after
dark, when the enemy was likely to be engaged with supper. The sky was
conveniently overcast, with a faint light wandering here and there, from
the lift of the horizon, just enough to show the rig of a vessel and
her length, at a distance of about a hundred yards. Nothing could be
better--thought the Englishmen; and the French were of that opinion too,
especially as Nelson was not there.

Scudamore had nothing to do with the loose adventure of the fire-ships,
the object of which was to huddle together this advanced part of the
flotilla, so that the catamarans might sweep unseen into a goodly
thicket of vessels, and shatter at least half a dozen at once.

But somehow the scheme was not well carried out, though it looked very
nice upon paper. One very great drawback, to begin with, was that the
enemy were quite aware of all our kind intentions; and another scarcely
less fatal was the want of punctuality on our part. All the floating
coffins should have come together, like a funeral of fifty from a
colliery; but instead of that they dribbled in one by one, and were
cast off by their tow-boats promiscuously. Scudamore did his part well
enough, though the whole thing went against his grain, and the four
catamarans under his direction were the only ones that did their duty.
The boats of the Blonde had these in tow, and cast them off handsomely
at the proper distance, and drew the plugs which set their clock-springs
going. But even of these four only two exploded, although the clocks
were not American, and those two made a tremendous noise, but only
singed a few French beards off. Except, indeed, that a fine old horse,
with a white Roman nose and a bright chestnut mane, who was living in
a flat-bottomed boat, broke his halter, and rushed up to the bows, and
gave vent to his amazement, as if he had been gifted with a trumpet.

Hereupon a dog, loth to be behind the times, scampered up to his side,
and with his forefeet on the gunwale, contributed a howl of incalculable
length and unfathomable sadness.

In the hurly of the combat and confusion of the night, with the dimness
streaked with tumult, and the water gashed with fire, that horse and
this dog might have gone on for ever, bewailing the nature of the sons
of men, unless a special fortune had put power into their mouths. One
of the fire-ships, as scandal did declare, was that very ancient tub
indeed--that could not float on its bottom--the Peggy of Springhaven,
bought at thrice her value, through the influence of Admiral Darling. If
one has to meet every calumny that arises, and deal with it before going
further, the battle that lasted for a fortnight and then turned into
an earthquake would be a quick affair compared with the one now in
progress. Enough that the Peggy proved by the light she gave, and her
grand style of burning to the water's edge before she blew up, that she
was worth at least the hundred pounds Widow Shanks received for her. She
startled the French more than any of the others, and the strong light
she afforded in her last moments shone redly on the anguish of that poor
horse and dog. There was no sign of any one to help them, and the flames
in the background redoubled their woe.

Now this apparently deserted prame, near the centre of the line, was
the Ville de Mayence; and the flag of Rear-Admiral Lacrosse was even now
flying at her peak. "We must have her, my lads," cried Scudamore, who
was wondering what to do next, until he descried the horse and dog and
that fine flag; "let us board her, and make off with all of them."

The crew of his launch were delighted with that. To destroy is very
good; but to capture is still better; and a dash into the midst of the
enemy was the very thing they longed for. "Ay, ay, sir," they cried, set
their backs to their oars, and through the broad light that still shone
upon the waves, and among the thick crowd of weltering shadows, the
launch shot like a dart to the side of the foe.

"Easy all! Throw a grapple on board," cried the young commander; and as
the stern swung round he leaped from it, and over the shallow bulwarks,
and stood all alone on the enemy's fore-deck. And alone he remained, for
at that moment a loud crash was heard, and the launch filled and sank,
with her crew of sixteen plunging wildly in the waves.

This came to pass through no fault of their own, but a clever device
of the enemy. Admiral Lacrosse, being called away, had left his
first officer to see to the safety of the flag-ship and her immediate
neighbours, and this brave man had obtained permission to try a little
plan of his own, if assailed by any adventurous British boats in charge
of the vessels explosive. In the bows of some stout but handy boats he
had rigged up a mast with a long spar attached, and by means of a guy at
the end of that spar, a brace of heavy chain-shot could be swung up and
pitched headlong into any boat alongside. While the crew of Scudamore's
launch were intent upon boarding the prame, one of these boats came
swiftly from under her stern, and with one fling swamped the enemy. Then
the Frenchmen laughed heartily, and offered oars and buoys for the poor
British seamen to come up as prisoners.

Scudamore saw that he was trapped beyond escape, for no other British
boat was anywhere in hail. His first impulse was to jump overboard and
help his own drowning men, but before he could do so an officer stood
before him, and said, "Monsieur is my prisoner. His men will be safe,
and I cannot permit him to risk his own life. Mon Dieu, it is my dear
friend Captain Scudamore!"

"And you, my old friend, Captain Desportes! I see it is hopeless to
resist"--for by this time a score of Frenchmen were round him--"I can
only congratulate myself that if I must fall, it is into such good
hands."

"My dear friend, how glad I am to see you!" replied the French captain,
embracing him warmly; "to you I owe more than to any man of your nation.
I will not take your sword. No, no, my friend. You shall not be
a prisoner, except in word. And how much you have advanced in the
knowledge of our language, chiefly, I fear, at the expense of France.
And now you will grow perfect, at the expense of England."



CHAPTER XLVII

ENTER AND EXIT


The summer having been fine upon the whole, and a very fair quantity
of fish brought in, Miss Twemlow had picked up a sweetheart, as the
unromantic mothers of the place expressed it. And the circumstances were
of such a nature that very large interest was aroused at once, and not
only so, but was fed well and grew fast.

The most complete of chronicles is no better than a sponge of inferior
texture and with many mouths shut. Parts that are full of suctive power
get no chance of sucking; other parts have a flood of juice bubbling at
them, but are waterproof. This is the only excuse--except one--for
the shameful neglect of the family of Blocks, in any little treatise
pretending to give the dullest of glimpses at Springhaven.

The other excuse--if self-accusation does not poke a finger through
it--is that the Blockses were mainly of the dry land, and never went to
sea when they could help it. If they had lived beyond the two trees and
the stile that marked the parish boundary upon the hill towards London,
they might have been spotless, and grand, and even honest, yet must
have been the depth of the hills below contempt. But they dwelt in the
village for more generations than would go upon any woman's fingers,
and they did a little business with the fish caught by the others, which
enabled it to look after three days' journey as if it swam into town
upon its own fins. The inventions for wronging mankind pay a great deal
better than those for righting them.

Now the news came from John Prater's first, that a gentleman of great
renown was coming down from London city to live on fish fresh out of
the sea. His doctors had ordered him to leave off butcher's meat, and
baker's bread, and tea-grocer's tea, and almost every kind of inland
victuals, because of the state of his--something big, which even
Springhaven could not pronounce. He must keep himself up, for at least
three months, upon nothing but breezes of the sea, and malt-liquor, and
farm-house bread and milk and new-laid eggs, and anything he fancied
that came out of the sea, shelly, or scaly, or jellified, or weedy.
News from a public-house grows fast--as seeds come up quicker for
soaking--and a strong competition for this gentleman arose; but he
knew what he was doing, and brought down his cook and house-maid, and
disliking the noise at the Darling Arms, took no less than five rooms at
the house of Matthew Blocks, on the rise of the hill, where he could see
the fish come in.

He was called at once Sir Parsley Sugarloaf, for his name was Percival
Shargeloes; and his cook rebuked his housemaid sternly, for meddling
with matters beyond her sphere, when she told Mrs. Blocks that he was
not Sir Percival, but only Percival Shargeloes, Esquire, very high up
in the Corporation, but too young to be Lord Mayor of London for some
years. He appeared to be well on the right side of forty; and every
young lady on the wrong side of thirty possessing a pony, or even a
donkey, with legs enough to come down the hill, immediately began to
take a rose-coloured view of the many beauties of Springhaven.

If Mr. Shargeloes had any ambition for title, it lay rather in a
military direction. He had joined a regiment of City Volunteers, and
must have been a Captain, if he could have stood the drill. But this,
though not arduous, had outgone his ambition, nature having gifted him
with a remarkable power of extracting nourishment from food, which is
now called assimilation. He was not a great feeder--people so blessed
seldom are--but nothing short of painful starvation would keep him lean.
He had consulted all the foremost physicians about this, and one said,
"take acids," another said, "walk twenty miles every day with two Witney
blankets on," a third said, "thank God for it, and drink before you
eat," and a fourth (a man of wide experience) bade him marry the
worst-tempered woman he knew. Then they all gave him pills to upset his
stomach; but such was its power that it assimilated them. Despairing of
these, he consulted a Quack, and received the directions which brought
him to Springhaven. And a lucky day for him it was, as he confessed for
the rest of his life, whenever any ladies asked him.

Because Miss Twemlow was intended for him by the nicest adjustment of
nature. How can two round things fit together, except superficially?
And in that case one must be upper and the other under; which is not the
proper thing in matrimony, though generally the prevailing one. But take
a full-moon and a half-moon, or even a square and a tidy triangle--with
manners enough to have one right angle--and when you have put them into
one another's arms, there they stick, all the firmer for friction. Jack
Spratt and his wife are a case in point; and how much more pointed the
case becomes when the question is not about what is on the plate, but
the gentleman is in his own body fat, and the lady in her elegant person
lean!

Mr. Sugarloaf--which he could not bear to be called--being an ardent
admirer of the Church, and aware that her ministers know what is good,
returned with great speed the Rector's call, having earnest hopes of
some heart-felt words upon the difference between a right and
left handed sole. One of these is ever so much better than the
other--according to our evolutionists, because when he was a cod, a few
milliards of years back, he chose the right side to begin lying down on,
that his descendants in the thirty-millionth generation might get flat.
His wife, from sheer perversity, lay down upon the other side, and this
explains how some of their descendants pulled their eyes through their
heads to one side, and some (though comparatively few) to the other. And
the worst of it is that the fittest for the frying-pan did not survive
this well-intended involution, except at a very long figure in the
market.

As it fell out upon that day, Miss Twemlow was sitting in the
drawing-room alone, waiting till her mother's hair was quite done up,
her own abundant locks being not done up at all, for she had lately
taken to set her face against all foreign fashions. "I have not been
introduced to the King," she said, "nor even to the Queen, like those
forward Darlings, and I shall do my hair to please myself." When her
father objected, she quenched him with St. Paul; and even her mother,
though shocked, began to think that Eliza knew what she was about. The
release of her fine hair, which fell in natural waves about her stately
neck, made her look nearly ten years younger than she was, for by this
time she must have been eight-and-twenty. The ladies of the Carne race,
as their pictures showed (until they were sold to be the grandmothers
of dry-salters), had always been endowed with shapely necks, fit
columns for their small round heads. And this young lady's hair, with no
constraint but that of a narrow band across the forehead, clustered and
gleamed like a bower of acanthus round that Parian column.

Mr. Shargeloes, having obeyed his orders always to dine early, was
thrilled with a vision of poetry and romance, as he crossed the first
square of the carpet. The lady sat just where the light fell best from a
filtered sunbeam to illumine her, without entering into the shady parts;
and the poetry of her attitude was inspired by some very fine poetry
upon her lap. "I don't care what the doctors say, I shall marry that
girl," said Mr. Shargeloes to himself.

He was a man who knew his own mind, and a man with that gift makes
others know it. Miss Twemlow clenched in the coat upon his back the nail
she had driven through his heart, by calling him, at every other breath,
"Colonel Shargeloes." He said he was not that; but she felt that he was,
as indeed every patriotic man must be. Her contempt for every man
who forsook his country in this bitter, bitter strait was at once so
ruthless and so bewitching that he was quite surprised into confessing
that he had given 10,000 pounds, all in solid gold, for the comfort of
the Royal Volunteers, as soon as the autumnal damps came on. He could
not tell such an elegant creature that what he had paid for was flannel
drawers, though she had so much strength of mind that he was enabled to
tell her before very long.

A great deal of nonsense is talked about ladies who are getting the
better of their first youth, as if they then hung themselves out as old
slates for any man to write his name on. The truth is that they have
better judgment then, less trouble in their hearts about a gentleman's
appearance, and more enquiry in their minds as to his temper, tastes,
and principles, not to mention his prospects of supporting them. And
even as concerns appearance, Mr. Shargeloes was very good. Nature had
given him a fine stout frame, and a very pleasant countenance; and
his life in the busy world had added that quickness of decision and
immediate sense of right which a clever woman knows to be the very
things she wants. Moreover, his dress, which goes a very long way into
the heart of a lady, was most correct and particular. For his coat was
of the latest Bond Street fashion, the "Jean de Brie," improved and
beautified by suggestions from the Prince of Wales himself. Bright
claret was the colour, and the buttons were of gold, bright enough to
show the road before him as he walked. The shoulders were padded, as if
a jam pot stood there, and the waist buttoned tight, too tight for any
happiness, to show the bright laticlave of brocaded waistcoat. Then
followed breeches of rich purple padusoy, having white satin bows at the
knee, among which the little silver bells of the Hessian boots jingled.

Miss Twemlow was superior to all small feeling, but had great breadth of
sympathy with the sterling truth in fashion. The volume of love, like
a pattern-book, fell open, and this well-dressed gentleman was engraved
upon her heart. The most captious young chit, such as Dolly herself,
could scarcely have called him either corpulent or old. Every day he
could be seen to be growing younger, with the aid of fresh fish as a
totally novel ingredient in his system; his muscle increased with the
growth of brain-power, and the shoemaker was punching a fresh hole
in his belt, an inch further back, every week he stopped there. After
buckling up three holes, he proposed. Miss Twemlow referred him to her
dear papa; and the Rector took a week to enquire and meditate. "Take a
month, if you like," said Mr. Shargeloes.

This reply increased the speed. Mr. Twemlow had the deepest respect for
the Corporation, and to live to be the father of a Lord Mayor of London
became a new ambition to lead on his waning years. "Come and dine with
us on Saturday, and we will tell you all about it," he said, with a
pleasant smile, and warm shake of the hand; and Shargeloes knew that the
neck and the curls would bend over the broad gold chain some day.

How grievous it is to throw a big stone into a pool which has plenty of
depth and length and width for the rings to travel pleasantly, yet not
to make one ring, because of wind upon the water! In the days that were
not more than two years old, Springhaven could have taken all this news,
with a swiftly expanding and smoothly fluent circle, with a lift of
self-importance at the centre of the movement, and a heave of gentle
interest in the far reflective corners. Even now, with a tumult of
things to consider, and a tempest of judgment to do it in, people
contrived to be positive about a quantity of things still pending. Sir
Parsley Sugarloaf had bought Miss Twemlow for 50,000 pounds, they said,
and he made her let her curls down so outrageous, because she was to be
married at Guildhall, with a guinea at the end of every hair. Miss
Faith would be dirt-cheap at all that money; but as for Miss Eliza, they
wished him better knowledge, which was sure to come, when it was no good
to him.

"What a corner of the world this is for gossip!" Mr. Shargeloes said,
pleasantly, to his Eliza, having heard from his cook, who desired no new
mistress, some few of the things said about him. "I am not such a fool
as to care what they say. But I am greatly surprised at one thing.
You know that I am a thorough Englishman; may I tell you what I think,
without offending you? It is a delicate matter, because it concerns a
relative of your own, my dear."

"I know what you mean. You will not offend me. Percival, I know how
straightforward you are, and how keen of perception. I have expected
this."

"And yet it seems presumptuous of me to say that you are all blind
here, from the highest to the lowest. Except indeed yourself, as I now
perceive. I will tell you my suspicions, or more than suspicions--my
firm belief--about your cousin, Mr. Carne. I can trust you to keep this
even from your father. Caryl Carne is a spy, in the pay of the French."

"I have long thought something, though not quite so bad as that,"
Miss Twemlow answered, calmly; "because he has behaved to us so very
strangely. My mother is his own father's sister, as you know, and yet he
has never dined with us more than once, and then he scarcely said a word
to any one. And he never yet has asked us to visit him at the castle;
though for that we can make all allowance, of course, because of its sad
condition. Then everybody thought he had taken to smuggling, and after
all his losses, no one blamed him, especially as all the Carnes had done
it, even when they were the owners of the land. But ever since poor
Mr. Cheeseman, our church-warden, tried to destroy himself with his own
rope, all the parish began to doubt about the smuggling, because it pays
so well and makes the people very cheerful. But from something he
had seen, my father felt quite certain that the true explanation was
smuggling."

"Indeed! Do you know at all what it was he saw, and when, and under what
circumstances?" Mr. Shargeloes put these questions with more urgency
than Miss Twemlow liked.

"Really I cannot tell you all those things; they are scarcely of general
interest. My dear father said little about it: all knowledge is denied
in this good world to women. But no doubt he would tell you, if you
asked him, when there were no ladies present."

"I will," said Mr. Shargeloes. "He is most judicious; he knows when to
speak, and when to hold his tongue. And I think that you combine with
beauty one of those two gifts--which is the utmost to be expected."

"Percival, you put things very nicely, which is all that could be
expected of a man. But do take my advice in this matter, and say no more
about it."

Mr. Shargeloes feigned to comply, and perhaps at the moment meant to do
so. But unluckily he was in an enterprising temper, proud of recovered
activity, and determined to act up to the phosphate supplied by fish
diet. Therefore when the Rector, rejoicing in an outlet for his long
pent-up discoveries, and regarding this sage man as one of his family,
repeated the whole of his adventure at Carne Castle, Mr. Shargeloes
said, briefly, "It must be seen to."

"Stubbard has been there," replied Mr. Twemlow, repenting perhaps of his
confidence; "Stubbard has made an official inspection, which relieves us
of all concern with it."

"Captain Stubbard is an ass. It is a burning shame that important
affairs should be entrusted to such fellows. The country is in peril,
deadly peril; and every Englishman is bound to act as if he were an
officer."

That very same evening Carne rode back to his ruins in a very grim state
of mind. He had received from the Emperor a curt and haughty answer to
his last appeal for immediate action, and the prospect of another gloomy
winter here, with dangers thickening round him, and no motion to enliven
them, was almost more than he could endure. The nights were drawing in,
and a damp fog from the sea had drizzled the trees, and the ivy, and
even his own moustache with cold misery.

"Bring me a lantern," he said to old Jerry, as he swung his stiff legs
from the back of the jaded horse, "and the little flask of oil with the
feather in it. It is high time to put the Inspector's step in order."

Jerry Bowles, whose back and knees were bent with rheumatism and dull
service, trotted (like a horse who has become too stiff to walk) for the
things commanded, and came back with them. Then his master, without
a word, strode towards the passage giving entry to the vaults which
Stubbard had not seen--the vaults containing all the powder, and the
weapons for arming the peasantry of England, whom Napoleon fondly
expected to rise in his favour at the sight of his eagles.

"How does it work? Quite stiff with rust. I thought so. Nothing is ever
in order, unless I see to it myself. Give me the lantern. Now oil the
bearings thoroughly. Put the feather into the socket, and work the pin
in and out, that the oil may go all round. Now pour in some oil from the
lip of the flask; but not upon the treadle, you old blockhead. Now do
the other end the same. Ah, now it would go with the weight of a mouse!
I have a great mind to make you try it."

"What would you do, sir, if my neck was broken? Who would do your work,
as I do?"

They were under an arch of mouldy stone, opening into the deep dark
vaults, where the faint light of the lantern glanced on burnished
leather, brass, and steel, or fell without flash upon dull round bulk.
The old man, kneeling on the round chalk-flints set in lime for
the flooring of the passage, was handling the first step of narrow
step-ladder leading to the cellar-depth. This top step had been taken
out of the old oak mortice, and cut shorter, and then replaced in the
frame, with an iron pin working in an iron collar, just as the gudgeon
of a wheelbarrow revolves. Any one stepping upon it unawares would go
down without the aid of any other step.

"Goes like spittle now, sir," said old Jerry; "but I don't want no
more harm in this crick of life. The Lord be pleased to keep all them
Examiners at home. Might have none to find their corpusses until next
leap-year. I hope with all my heart they won't come poking their long
noses here."

"Well, I rather hope they will. They want a lesson in this
neighbourhood," muttered Carne, who was shivering, and hungry, and
unsweetened.



CHAPTER XLVIII

MOTHER SCUDAMORE


If we want to know how a tree or flower has borne the gale that flogged
last night, or the frost that stung the morning, the only sure plan is
to go and see. And the only way to understand how a friend has taken
affliction is to go--if it may be done without intrusion--and let him
tell you, if he likes.

Admiral Darling was so much vexed when he heard of Blyth Scudamore's
capture by the French, and duty compelled him to inform the mother, that
he would rather have ridden a thousand miles upon barley-bread than
face her. He knew how the whole of her life was now bound up with the
fortunes of her son, and he longed to send Faith with the bad news, as
he had sent her with the good before; but he feared that it might seem
unkind. So he went himself, with the hope of putting the best complexion
upon it, yet fully expecting sad distress, and perhaps a burst of
weeping. But the lady received his tidings in a manner that surprised
him. At first she indulged in a tear or two, but they only introduced a
smile.

"In some ways it is a sad thing," she said, "and will be a terrible blow
to him, just when he was rising so fast in the service. But we must not
rebel more than we can help, against the will of the Lord, Sir Charles."

"How philosophical, and how commonplace!" thought the Admiral; but he
only bowed, and paid her some compliment upon her common-sense.

"Perhaps you scarcely understand my views, and perhaps I am wrong in
having them," Lady Scudamore continued, quietly. "My son's advancement
is very dear to me, and this will of course retard it. But I care most
of all for his life, and now that will be safe for a long while. They
never kill their prisoners, do they?"

"No, ma'am, no. They behave very well to them; better, I'm afraid, than
we do to ours. They treat them quite as guests, when they fall into good
hands. Though Napoleon himself is not too mild in that way."

"My son has fallen into very good hands, as you yourself assure me--that
Captain Desportes, a gallant officer and kind gentleman, as I know from
your daughter's description. Blyth is quite equal to Lord Nelson in
personal daring, and possibly not behind him in abilities. Consider how
shockingly poor Nelson has been injured, and he feels convinced himself
that they will have his life at last. No officer can be a hero without
getting very sad wounds, and perhaps losing his life. Every one who does
his duty must at least be wounded."

The Admiral, who had never received a scratch, was not at all charmed
with this view of naval duty; but he was too polite to enter protest,
and only made one of his old-fashioned scrapes.

"I am sure every time I have heard a gun coming from the sea, and
especially after dark," the lady resumed, without thinking of him, "it
has made me miserable to know that probably Blyth was rushing into some
deadly conflict. But now I shall feel that he cannot do that; and I hope
they will keep him until the fighting grows milder. He used to send me
all his money, poor dear boy! And now I shall try to send him some of
mine, if it can be arranged about bank-notes. And now I can do it very
easily, thanks to your kindness, Sir Charles, his father's best friend,
and his own, and mine."

Lady Scudamore shed another tear or two, not of sorrow, but of pride,
while she put her hand into her pocket, as if to begin the remittance at
once. "You owe me no thanks, ma'am," said the Admiral, smiling; "if any
thanks are due, they are due to the King, for remembering at last what
he should have done before."

"Would he ever have thought of me, but for you? It is useless to talk
in that way, Sir Charles; it only increases the obligation, which I must
entreat you not to do. How I wish I could help you in anything!"

"Every day you are helping me," he replied, with truth; "although I am
away too often to know all about it, or even to thank you. I hope my
dear Faith has persuaded you not to leave us for the winter, as you
threatened."

"Faith can persuade me to anything she pleases. She possesses the power
of her name," replied the lady; "but the power is not called for, when
the persuasion is so pleasant. For a month, I must be away to visit my
dear mother, as I always have done at this time of year; and then, but
for one thing, I would return most gladly. For I am very selfish, you
must know, Sir Charles--I have a better chance of hearing of my dear
son at these head-quarters of the defence of England, than I should have
even in London."

"Certainly," cried the Admiral, who magnified his office; "such a number
of despatches pass through my hands; and if I can't make them out, why,
my daughter Dolly can. I don't suppose, Lady Scudamore, that even when
you lived in the midst of the world you ever saw any girl half so
clever as my Dolly. I don't let her know it--that would never do, of
course--but she always gets the best of me, upon almost any question."

Sir Charles, for the moment, forgot his best manners, and spread his
coat so that one might see between his legs. "I stand like this," he
said, "and she stands there; and I take her to task for not paying her
bills--for some of those fellows have had to come to me, which is not
as it should be in a country place, where people don't understand the
fashionable system. She stands there, ma'am, and I feel as sure as if I
were an English twenty-four bearing down upon a Frenchman of fifty
guns, that she can only haul her colours down and rig out gangway
ladders--when, bless me and keep me! I am carried by surprise, and
driven under hatchways, and if there is a guinea in my hold, it flies
into the enemy's locker! If it happened only once, I should think
nothing of it. But when I know exactly what is coming, and have
double-shotted every gun, and set up hammock-nettings, and taken
uncommon care to have the weather-gage, 'tis the Devil, Lady
Scudamore--excuse me, madam--'tis the Devil to a ditty-bag that I have
her at my mercy. And yet it always comes to money out of pocket, madam!"

"She certainly has a great power over gentlemen"--Blyth's mother smiled
demurely, as if she were sorry to confess it; "but she is exceedingly
young, Sir Charles, and every allowance must be made for her."

"And by the Lord Harry, she gets it, madam. She takes uncommonly good
care of that. But what is the one thing you mentioned that would prevent
you from coming back to us with pleasure?"

"I scarcely like to speak of it. But it is about that self-same Dolly.
She is not fond of advice, and she knows how quick she is, and that
makes her resent a word from slower people. She has taken it into her
head, I fear, that I am here as a restraint upon her; a sort of lady
spy, a duenna, a dictatress, all combined in one, and all unpleasant.
This often makes me fancy that I have no right to be here. And then your
sweet Faith comes, and all is smooth again."

"Dolly has the least little possible touch of the vixen about her. I
have found it out lately," said the Admiral, as if he were half doubtful
still; "Nelson told me so, and I was angry with him. But I believe he
was right, as he generally is. His one eye sees more than a score of
mine would. But, my dear madam, if that is your only objection to coming
back to us, or rather to my daughters, I beg you not to let it weigh a
feather's weight with you. Or, at any rate, enhance the obligation to
us, by putting it entirely on one side. Dolly has the very finest heart
in all the world; not so steady perhaps as Faith's, nor quite so fair to
other people, but wonderfully warm, ma'am, and as sound as--as a roach."

Lady Scudamore could not help laughing a little, and she hoped for her
son's sake that this account was true. Her gratitude and good-will to
the Admiral, as well as her duty to her son, made her give the promise
sought for; and she began to prepare for her journey at once, that she
might be back in good time for the winter. But she felt very doubtful,
at leaving the Hall, whether she had done quite right in keeping her
suspicions of Dolly from Dolly's father. For with eyes which were
sharpened by jealousy for the interests, or at least the affections,
of her son, she had long perceived that his lady-love was playing a
dangerous game with Caryl Carne. Sometimes she believed that she ought
to speak of this, for the good of the family; because she felt the
deepest mistrust and dislike of Carne, who strictly avoided her whenever
he could; but on the other hand she found the subject most delicate and
difficult to handle. For she had taken good care at the outset not to be
here upon any false pretences. At the very first interview with her host
she had spoken of Blyth's attachment to his younger daughter, of which
the Admiral had heard already from that youthful sailor. And the Admiral
had simply said, as in Captain Twemlow's case: "Let us leave them to
themselves. I admire the young man. If she likes him, I shall make no
objection, when they are old enough, and things are favourable." And now
if she told him of the other love-affair, it would look like jealousy
of a rival. Perhaps a hundred times a day, as her love for gentle Faith
grew faster than her liking for the sprightly Dolly, she would sigh
that her son did not see things like herself; but bitter affliction had
taught her that the course of this life follows our own wishes about
as much as another man's dog heeds our whistle. But, for all that, this
good lady hoped some day to see things come round as she would like to
bring them.

"No wonder that we like her son so much," said Faith when they had done
waving handkerchiefs at the great yellow coach going slowly up the hill,
with its vast wicker basket behind, and the guard perched over it with
his blunderbus; "he takes after his mother in so many ways. They are
both so simple and unsuspicious, and they make the best of every one."

"Including themselves, I suppose," answered Dolly. "Well I like people
who have something on their minds, and make the worst of everybody. They
have so much more to talk about."

"You should never try to be sarcastic, dear. And you know that you don't
mean it. I am sure you don't like to have the worst made of yourself."

"Oh, I have long been used to that. And I never care about it, when I
know it is not true. I am sure that Mother Scudamore runs me down, when
I am out of hearing. I never did like those perfect people."

"Mother Scudamore, indeed! You are getting into a low way of talking,
which is not at all pretty in a girl. And I never heard her say an
unkind word about you. Though she may not have found you quite so
perfect as she hoped."

"I tell you, Miss Darling," cried Dolly, with her bright colour
deepened, and her grey eyes flashing, "that I don't care a--something
that papa often says--what she thinks about me, or you either. I know
that she has come here to spy out all my ways."

"You should not have any to be spied out, Dolly," Faith answered, with
some sternness, and a keen look at her sister, whose eyes fell beneath
her gaze. "You will be sorry, when you think of what you said to me, who
have done nothing whatever to offend you. But that is a trifle compared
with acting unfairly to our father. Father is the kindest man that ever
lived; but he can be stern in great matters, I warn you. If he ever
believes that you have deceived him, you will never be again to him what
you have always been."

They had sent the carriage home that they might walk across the fields,
and this little scene between the sisters took place upon a foot-path
which led back to their grounds. Dolly knew that she was in the wrong,
and that increased her anger.

"So you are another spy upon me, I suppose. 'Tis a pretty thing to have
one's sister for an old duenna. Pray who gave you authority to lord it
over me?"

"You know as well as I do"--Faith spoke with a smile of superior
calmness, as Dolly tossed her head--"that I am about the last person in
the world to be a spy. Neither do I ever lord it over you. If anything,
that matter is very much the other way. But being so much older, and
your principal companion, it would be very odd of me, and as I think
most unkind, if I did not take an interest in all your goings on."

"My goings on! What a lady-like expression! Who has got into a low way
of talking now? Well, if you please, madam, what have you found out?"

"I have found out nothing, and made no attempt to do so. But I see that
you are altered very much from what you used to be; and I am sure that
there is something on your mind. Why not tell me all about it? I would
promise to let it go no further, and I would not pretend to advise,
unless you wished. I am your only sister, and we have always been
together. It would make you so much more comfortable, I am certain of
that, in your own mind, darling. And you know when we were little girls,
dear mother on her death-bed put her hands upon our heads and said, 'Be
loving sisters always, and never let anything come between you.' And
for father's sake, too, you should try to do it. Put aside all nonsense
about spies and domineering, and trust me as your sister, that's my own
darling Dolly."

"How can I resist you? I will make a clean breast of it;" Dolly sighed
deeply, but a wicked smile lay ambushed in her bright eyes and upon her
rosy lips. "The sad truth is that my heart has been quite sore since I
heard the shocking tidings about poor old Daddy Stokes. He went to bed
the other night with his best hat on, both his arms in an old muff he
found in the ditch, and his leathern breeches turned inside out."

"Then the poor old man had a cleaner breast than yours," cried Faith,
who had prepared her heart and eyes for tears of sympathy; "he goes upon
his knees every night, stiff as they are, and his granddaughter has
to help him up. But as for you, you are the most unfeeling, mocking,
godless, unnatural creature that ever never cared what became of
anybody. Here we are at the corner where the path divides. You go home
that way, and I'll go home by this."

"Well, I'm so glad! I really did believe that it was quite impossible to
put you in a rage. Now don't be in a hurry, dear, to beg my pardon."

"Of that you may be quite sure," cried Faith across the corner of the
meadow where the paths diverged; "I never was less in a passion in my
life; and it will be your place to apologise."

Dolly sent a merry laugh across the widening interval; and Faith, who
was just beginning to fear that she had been in a passion, was
convinced by that laugh that she had not. But the weight lifted from her
conscience fell more heavily upon her heart.



CHAPTER XLIX

EVIL COMMUNICATIONS


Although she pretended to be so merry, and really was so self-confident
(whenever anybody wanted to help her), Miss Dolly Darling, when left to
herself, was not like herself, as it used to be. Her nature was lively,
and her spirit very high; every one had petted her, before she could
have earned it by aught except childish beauty; and no one had left off
doing it, when she was bound to show better claim to it. All this made
doubt, and darkness, and the sense of not being her own mistress, very
snappish things to her, and she gained relief--sweet-tempered as she was
when pleased--by a snap at others. For although she was not given, any
more than other young people are, to plaguesome self-inspection, she
could not help feeling that she was no longer the playful young Dolly
that she loved so well. A stronger, and clearer, yet more mysterious
will than her own had conquered hers; but she would not confess it, and
yield entire obedience; neither could she cast it off. Her pride still
existed, as strong as ever, whenever temper roused it; but there was too
much of vanity in its composition, and too little of firm self-respect.
Contempt from a woman she could not endure; neither from a man, if made
manifest; but Carne so calmly took the upper hand, without any show of
having it, that she fell more and more beneath his influence.

He, knowing thoroughly what he was about, did nothing to arouse
resistance. So far as he was capable of loving any one, he was now in
love with Dolly. He admired her quickness, and pretty girlish ways, and
gaiety of nature (so unlike his own), and most of all her beauty. He
had made up his mind that she should be his wife when fitted for that
dignity; but he meant to make her useful first, and he saw his way to do
so. He knew that she acted more and more as her father's secretary, for
she wrote much faster than her sister Faith, and was quicker in catching
up a meaning. Only it was needful to sap her little prejudices--candour,
to wit, and the sense of trust, and above all, patriotic feeling. He
rejoiced when he heard that Lady Scudamore was gone, and the Rector had
taken his wife and daughter for change of air to Tunbridge Wells,
Miss Twemlow being seriously out of health through anxiety about Mr.
Shargeloes. For that gentleman had disappeared, without a line or
message, just when Mr. Furkettle, the chief lawyer in the neighbourhood,
was beginning to prepare the marriage-settlement; and although his cook
and house-maid were furious at the story, Mrs. Blocks had said, and all
the parish now believed, that Sir Parsley Sugarloaf had flown away
to Scotland rather than be brought to book--that fatal part of the
Prayer-book--by the Rector and three or four brother clergymen.

This being so, and Frank Darling absorbed in London with the publication
of another batch of poems, dedicated to Napoleon, while Faith stood
aloof with her feelings hurt, and the Admiral stood off and on in the
wearisome cruise of duty, Carne had the coast unusually clear for the
entry and arrangement of his contraband ideas. He met the fair Dolly
almost every day, and their interviews did not grow shorter, although
the days were doing so.

"You should have been born in France," he said, one bright November
morning, when they sat more comfortable than they had any right to be,
upon the very same seat where the honest but hapless Captain Scuddy
had tried to venture to lisp his love; "that is the land you belong to,
darling, by beauty and manners and mind and taste, and most of all by
your freedom from prejudice, and great liberality of sentiment."

"But I thought we were quite as good-looking in England;" Dolly lifted
her long black lashes, with a flash which might challenge the brilliance
of any French eyes; "but of course you know best. I know nothing of
French ladies."

"Don't be a fool, Dolly;" Carne spoke rudely, but made up for it in
another way. "There never was a French girl to equal you in loveliness;
but you must not suppose that you beat them all round. One point
particularly you are far behind in. A French woman leaves all political
questions, and national matters, and public affairs, entirely to her
husband, or her lover, as the case may be. Whatever he wishes is the law
for her. Thy gods shall be my gods."

"But you said they had great liberality of sentiment, and now you say
they have no opinions of their own! How can the two things go together?"

"Very easily," said Carne, who was accustomed to be baffled by such
little sallies; "they take their opinions from their husbands, who are
always liberal. This produces happiness on both sides--a state of things
unknown in England. Let me tell you of something important, mainly as
it concerns yourself, sweet Dolly. The French are certain to unite with
England, and then we shall be the grandest nation in the world. No power
in Europe can stand before us. All will be freedom, and civilization,
and great ideas, and fine taste in dress. I shall recover the large
estates, that would now be mine, but for usury and fraud. And you will
be one of the first ladies in the world, as nature has always intended
you to be."

"That sounds very well; but how is it to be done? How can France unite
with England, when they are bitter enemies? Is France to conquer England
first? Or are we to conquer France, as we always used to do?"

"That would be a hard job now, when France is the mistress of the
Continent. No, there need be no conquering, sweet Dolly, but only a
little removal. The true interest of this country is--as that mighty
party, the Whigs, perceive--to get rid of all the paltry forms and dry
bones of a dynasty which is no more English than Napoleon is, and to
join that great man in his warfare against all oppression. Your brother
Frank is a leading spirit; he has long cast off that wretched insular
prejudice which defeats all good. In the grand new scheme of universal
right, which must prevail very shortly, Frank Darling will obtain that
foremost place to which his noble views entitle him. You, as his sister,
and my wife, will be adored almost as much as you could wish."

"It sounds very grand," answered Dolly, with a smile, though a little
alarmed at this turn of it; "but what is to become of the King, and
Queen, and all the royal family? And what is my father to do, and Faith?
Although she has not behaved well to me."

"Those details will be arranged to everybody's satisfaction. Little
prejudices will subside, when it is seen that they are useless. Every
possible care will be taken not to injure any one."

"But how is it all to be done?" asked Dolly, whose mind was practical,
though romantic. "Are the French to land, and overrun the country? I am
sure I never should agree to that. Are all our defenders to be thrown
into prison?"

"Certainly not. There will be no prisons. The French might have to land,
as a matter of form; but not to overrun the country, only to secure
British liberties and justice. All sensible people would hasten to join
them, and any opposition would be quenched at once. Then such a glorious
condition of mankind would ensue as has never been known in this
world--peace, wealth, universal happiness, gaiety, dancing everywhere,
no more shabby clothes, no more dreary Sundays. How do you like the
thought of it?"

"Well, some of it sounds very nice; but I don't see the use of universal
justice. Justice means having one's own rights; and it is impossible
for everybody to do that, because of other people. And as for the French
coming to put things right, they had better attend to their own affairs
first. And as if any Englishman would permit it! Why, even Frank would
mount his wig and gown (for he is a full-fledged barrister now, you
know), and come and help to push them back into the sea. And I hope that
you would do so too. I am not going to marry a Frenchman. You belong to
an old English family, and you were born in England, and your name is
English, and the property that ought to belong to you. I hope you don't
consider yourself a Frenchman because your mother is a great French
lady, after so many generations of Carnes, all English, every bit of
them. I am an English girl, and I care very little for things that I
don't see--such as justice, liberty, rights of people, and all that. But
I do care about my relations, and our friends, and the people that live
here, and the boats, and all the trees, and the land that belongs to
my father. Very likely you would want to take that away, and give it to
some miserable Frenchman."

"Dolly, my dear, you must not be excited," Carne answered, in the manner
of a father; "powerful as your comprehension is, for the moment these
things are beyond it. Your meaning is excellent, very good, very great;
but to bring it to bear requires further information. We will sit by
the side of the sea to-morrow, darling, if you grant me a view of your
loveliness again; and there you will see things in a larger light than
upon this narrow bench, with your father's trees around us, and your
father's cows enquiring whether I am good to eat. Get away, cow! Do you
take me for a calf?"

One of the cows best loved by Dolly, who was very fond of good animals,
had come up to ask who this man was that had been sitting here so long
with her. She was gifted with a white face and large soft eyes--even
beyond the common measure of a cow--short little horns, that she would
scarcely think of pushing even at a dog (unless he made mouths at her
infant), a flat broad nose ever genial to be rubbed, and a delicate
fringe of finely pointed yellow hairs around her pleasant nostrils and
above her clovery lips. With single-hearted charity and enviable faith
she was able to combine the hope that Dolly had obtained a lover as good
as could be found upon a single pair of legs. Carne was attired with
some bravery, of the French manner rather than the English, and he
wanted no butter on his velvet and fine lace. So he swung round his cane
of heavy snakewood at the cow, and struck her poor horns so sharply that
her head went round.

"Is that universal peace, and gentleness, and justice?" cried Dolly,
springing up and hastening to console her cow. "Is this the way the
lofty French redress the wrongs of England? What had poor Dewlips done,
I should like to know? Kiss me, my pretty, and tell me how you would
like the French army to land, as a matter of form? The form you would
take would be beef, I'm afraid; not even good roast beef, but bouillon,
potage, fricandeau, friture--anything one cannot taste any meat in; and
that is how your wrongs would be redressed, after having had both your
horns knocked off. And about the same fate for John Bull, your master,
unless he keeps his horns well sharpened. Do I not speak the truth,
monsieur?"

When Carne did anything to vex Miss Dolly--which happened pretty often,
for he could not stop to study much her little prejudices--she addressed
him as if he were a Frenchman, never doubting that this must reduce him
sadly in his self-esteem.

"Never mind matters political," he said, perceiving that his power must
not be pressed until he had deepened its foundations; "what are all the
politics in the world compared with your good opinion, Beauty?" Dolly
liked to be called "Beauty," and the name always made her try to deserve
it by looking sweet. "You must be quite certain that I would do nothing
to injure a country which contains my Dolly. And as for Madam Cow, I
will beg her pardon, though my cane is hurt a great deal more than her
precious horns are. Behold me snap it in twain, although it is the only
handsome one I possess, because it has offended you!"

"Oh, what a pity! What a lovely piece of wood!" cried Dolly; and they
parted on the best of terms, after a warm vow upon either side that no
nasty politics should ever come between them.

But Carne was annoyed and discontented. He came to the edge of the
cliff that evening below his ruined castle; for there are no cliffs at
Springhaven, unless the headland deserves that name; and there he sat
gloomily for some hours, revolving the chances of his enterprise. The
weather had changed since the morning, and a chill November wind began
to urge the waves ashore. The sky was not very dark, but shredded with
loose grey vapours from the west, where a heavy bank of clouds lay under
the pale crescent of a watery moon. In the distance two British cruisers
shone, light ships of outlook, under easy sail, prepared to send the
signal for a hundred leagues, from ship to ship and cliff to cliff,
if any of England's foes appeared. They shone upon the dark sea, with
canvas touched by moonlight, and seemed ready to spring against the
lowering sky, if it held any menace to the land they watched, or the
long reach of water they had made their own.

"A pest upon those watch-dogs!" muttered Carne. "They are always
wide-awake, and forever at their stations. Instead of growing tired,
they get sharper every day. Even Charron can scarcely run through them
now. But I know who could do it, if he could only be trusted. With a
pilot-boat--it is a fine idea--a pilot-boat entered as of Pebbleridge.
The Pebbleridge people hate Springhaven, through a feud of centuries,
and Springhaven despises Pebbleridge. It would answer well, although the
landing is so bad, and no anchorage possible in rough weather. I must
try if Dan Tugwell will undertake it. None of the rest know the coast
as he does, and few of them have the bravery. But Dan is a very sulky
fellow, very difficult to manage. He will never betray us; he is
wonderfully grateful; and after that battle with the press-gang, when he
knocked down the officer and broke his arm, he will keep pretty clear of
the Union-jack. But he goes about moping, and wondering, and mooning, as
if he were wretched about what he has to do. Bless my soul, where is my
invention? I see the way to have him under my thumb. Reason is an old
coat hanging on a peg; passion is the fool who puts it on and runs away
with it. Halloa! Who are you? And what do you want at such a time as
this? Surely you can see that I am not at leisure now. Why, Tugwell, I
thought that you were far away at sea!"

"So I was, sir; but she travels fast. I never would believe the old
London Trader could be driven through the water so. Sam Polwhele knows
how to pile it on a craft, as well as he do upon a man, sir. I won't
serve under him no more, nor Captain Charcoal either. I have done my
duty by you. Squire Carne, the same as you did by me, sir; and thanking
you for finding me work so long, my meaning is to go upon the search
to-morrow."

"What fools they must have been to let this fellow come ashore!" thought
Carne, while he failed to see the wisest way to take it. "Tugwell, you
cannot do this with any honour, after we have shown you all the secrets
of our enterprise. You know that what we do is of the very highest
honour, kind and humane and charitable, though strictly forbidden by a
most inhuman government. How would you like, if you were a prisoner in
France, to be debarred from all chance of getting any message from your
family, your wife, your sweetheart, or your children, from year's end
to year's end, and perhaps be dead for months without their knowing
anything about it?"

"Well, sir, I should think it very hard indeed; though, if I was dead,
I shouldn't know much more about it. But, without reproach to you, I
cannot make out altogether that our only business is to carry letters
for the prisoners, as now may be in England, from their loving friends
to command in their native country. I won't say against you, sir, if
you say it is--that is, to the outside of all your knowledge. And twenty
thousand of them may need letters by the sack. But what use they could
make, sir, of cannon as big as I be, and muskets that would kill a man
a hundred yards of distance, and bayonets more larger and more sharper
than ever I see before, even with the Royal Volunteers--this goes out of
all my calculation."

"Daniel, you have expressed your views, which are remarkable--as indeed
they always are--with your usual precision. But you have not observed
things with equal accuracy. Do you know when a gun is past service?"

"No, sir; I never was a poacher, no-how. Squire Darling, that is to say,
Sir Charles Darling now, according to a chap on board, he was always so
good upon his land that nobody durst go a-poaching."

"I mean a cannon, Dan. They don't poach with cannon yet, though they may
come to do it, as the game-laws increase. Do you know when a cannon is
unsafe to fire, though it may look as bright as ever, like a worn-out
poker? All those things that have frightened you are only meant for
ornament. You know that every ancient building ought to have its
armoury, as this castle always had, until they were taken away and sold.
My intention is to restore it, when I can afford to do so. And having
a lot of worn-out weapons offered me for next to nothing, I seized the
chance of bringing them. When times are better, and the war is over, I
may find time to arrange them. But that is not of much importance. The
great point is to secure the delivery of letters from their native
land to the brave men here as prisoners. I cannot afford to do that for
nothing, though I make no profit out of it. I have so many things to
think about that I scarcely know which to consider first. And after all,
what matters to us whether those poor men are allowed to die, and be
buried like dogs, without knowledge of their friends? Why should we run
the risk of being punished for them?"

"Well, sir, that seems hard doctrine, if I may be allowed to say so,
and not like your kind-heartedness. Our Government have no right to stop
them of their letters."

"It is a cruel thing. But how are we to help it? The London Trader is
too large for the purpose, and she is under suspicion now. I tell you
everything, Daniel, because I know that you are a true-hearted fellow,
and far above all blabbing. I have thought once or twice of obtaining
leave to purchase a stout and handy pilot-boat, with her licence and all
that transferred to us, and so running to and fro when needful. The only
risk then would be from perils of the sea; and even the pressmen dare
not meddle with a pilot-boat. By-the-by, I have heard that you knocked
some of them about. Tugwell, you might have got us all into sad
trouble."

"Was I to think of what I was doing, Squire Carne, when they wanted
to make a slave of me? I would serve King George with a good heart, in
spite of all that father has said against it. But it must be with a free
will, Squire Carne, and not to be tied hand and foot to it. How would
you like that yourself, sir?"

"Well, I think I should have done as you did, Dan, if I had been a
British sailor. But as to this pilot-boat, I must have a bold and good
seaman to command it. A man who knows the coast, and is not afraid of
weather. Of course we should expect to pay good wages; 3 pounds a week,
perhaps, and a guinea for every bag of letters landed safe. There are
plenty of men who would jump at such a chance, Dan."

"I'll be bound there are, sir. And it is more than I am worth, if you
mean offering the place to me. It would suit me wonderful, if I was
certain that the job was honest."

"Daniel Tugwell"--Carne spoke with great severity--"I will not lose my
temper, for I am sure you mean no insult. But you must be of a very low,
suspicious nature, and quite unfit for any work of a lofty and unselfish
order, if you can imagine that a man in my position, a man of my large
sentiments--"

"Oh, no, sir, no; it was not at all that"--Dan scarcely knew how to
tell what it was--"it was nothing at all of that manner of thinking. I
heartily ask your pardon, sir, if it seemed to go in that way."

"Don't do that," replied Carne, "because I can make allowances. I know
what a fine nature is, and how it takes alarm at shadows. I am always
tender with honest scruples, because I find so many of them in myself.
I should not have been pleased with you, if you had accepted my
offer--although so advantageous, and full of romantic interest--until
you were convinced of its honourable nature. I have no time for
argument, and I am sorry that you must not come up to the castle for
supper, because we have an old Springhaven man there, who would tell
your father all about you, which you especially wish to avoid. But if
you feel inclined for this berth--as you sailors seem to call it--and
hesitate through some patriotic doubts, though I cannot understand what
they are, I will bring you a document (if you meet me here to-morrow
night) from Admiral Sir Charles Darling, which I think will satisfy
you."

"And shall I be allowed to keep it, sir, to show, in case of trouble?"

"Very likely. But I cannot say for certain. Some of those official forms
must be returned, others not; all depends upon their rules. Now go and
make yourself comfortable. How are you off for money?"

"Plenty, sir, plenty. I must not go where anybody knows me, or to-morrow
half the talk at old Springhaven would be about me. Good-night, sir, and
God bless you."



CHAPTER L

HIS SAVAGE SPIRIT


At this time letters came very badly, not only to French prisoners in
England, but even to the highest authorities, who had the very best
means of getting them. Admiral Darling had often written to his old
friend Nelson, but had long been without any tidings from him, through
no default on the hero's part. Lord Nelson was almost as prompt with
the pen as he was with the sword, but despatches were most irregular and
uncertain.

"Here at last we have him!" cried Sir Charles one morning early in
December; "and not more than five weeks old, I declare! Dolly, be
ready, and call Faith down. Now read it, my dear, for our benefit. Your
godfather writes a most excellent hand, considering that it is his left
hand; but my eyes are sore from so much night-work. Put on my specs,
Dolly; I should like to see you in them."

"Am I to read every word, papa, just as it comes? You know that he
generally puts in words that are rather strong for me."

"Nelson never thought or wrote a single word unfit for the nicest
young lady. But you may hold up your hand if you come to any strong
expressions, and we shall understand them."

"Then I shall want both hands as soon as ever we come to the very first
Frenchman. But this is what my godfather says:


"'VICTORY, OFF TOULON, October 31st, 1804.

"'MY DEAR LINGO,--It was only yesterday that I received your letter of
July 21st; it went in a Spanish smuggling boat to the coast of Italy and
returned again to Spain, not having met any of our ships. And now I hope
that you will see me before you see this letter. We are certain to be at
war with Spain before another month is out, and I am heartily sorry for
it, for I like those fellows better than the French, because they are
not such liars. My successor has been appointed, I have reason to hope,
and must be far on his way by this time; probably Keith, but I cannot
say. Ministers cannot suppose that I want to fly the service; my whole
life has proved the contrary; if they refuse, I shall most certainly
leave in March or April, for a few months' rest I must have, or else
die. My cough is very bad, and my side where I was struck off Cape St.
Vincent is very much swelled, at times a lump as large as my fist is
brought on by violent coughing, but I hope and believe my lungs are
sound. I hope to do good service yet, or else I should not care so much.
But if I am in my grave, how can I serve the Country?

"'You will say, this is not at all like Nelson, to write about nothing
but his own poor self; and thank God, Lingo, I can say that you
are right; for if ever a man lived for the good of England and the
destruction of those'"--here Dolly held a hand up--"'Frenchmen, it is
the man in front of this ink-bottle. The Lord has appointed me to that
duty, and I shall carry out my orders. Mons. La Touche, who was preached
about in France as the man that was to extinguish me, and even in
the scurvy English newspapers, but never dared to show his snivelly
countenance outside of the inner buoys, is dead of his debosheries, for
which I am deeply grieved, as I fully intended to send him to the devil.

"'I have been most unlucky for some time now, and to tell the truth I
may say always. But I am the last man in the world to grumble--as you,
my dear Lingo, can testify. I always do the utmost, with a single mind,
and leave the thought of miserable pelf to others, men perhaps who never
saw a shotted cannon fired. You know who made eighty thousand pounds,
without having to wipe his pigtail--dirty things, I am glad they are
gone out--but my business is to pay other people's debts, and receive
all my credits in the shape of cannon-balls. This is always so, and I
should let it pass as usual, except for a blacker trick than I have ever
known before. For fear of giving me a single chance of earning twopence,
they knew that there was a million and a half of money coming into Cadiz
from South America in four Spanish frigates, and instead of leaving me
to catch them, they sent out Graham Moore--you know him very well--with
orders to pocket everything. This will create a war with Spain, a war
begun with robbery on our part, though it must have come soon in any
case. For everywhere now, except where I am, that fiend of a Corsican is
supreme.

"'There is not a sick man in this fleet, unless it is the one inside my
coat. That liar La Touche said HE CHASED ME AND I RAN. I keep a copy of
his letter, which it would have been my duty to make him eat, if he had
ventured out again. But he is gone to the lake of brimstone now, and I
have the good feeling to forgive him. If my character is not fixed by
this time, it is not worth my trouble to put the world right. Yesterday
I took a look into the port within easy reach of their batteries. They
lay like a lot of mice holed in a trap, but the weather was too thick to
count them. They are certainly nearly twice our number; and if any one
was here except poor little Nelson, I believe they would venture out.
But my reputation deprives me always of any fair chance to increase it.

"'And now, my dear Lingo, allow me to enquire how you are getting on
with your Coast-defence. I never did attach much importance to their
senseless invasion scheme. The only thing to make it formidable would
be some infernal traitor on the coast, some devilish spy who would keep
them well informed, and enable them to land where least expected. If
there is such a scoundrel, may the Lord Almighty'"--here both Dolly's
hands went up, with the letter in them, and her face turned as white as
the paper.

"'I have often told you, as you may remember, that Springhaven is the
very place I should choose, if I were commander of the French flotilla.
It would turn the flank of all the inland defences, and no British
ship could attack their intrenchments, if once they were snug below the
windows of the Hall. But they are not likely to know this, thank God;
and if they did, they would have a job to get there. However, it is wise
to keep a sharp lookout, for they know very well that I am far away.

"'And now that I have got to your own doors, which I heartily hope to
do, perhaps before you see this, let me ask for yourself and all your
dear family. Lingo, the longer I live the more I feel that all the
true happiness of life is found at home. My glory is very great, and
satisfies me, except when it scares the enemy; but I very often feel
that I would give it all away for a quiet life among those who love me.
Your daughter Faith is a sweet young woman, just what I should wish
for a child of mine to be. And Horatia, my godchild, will turn out very
well, if a sharp hand is kept over her. But she takes after me, she is
daring and ambitious, and requires a firm hand at the helm. Read this
to her, with my love, and I dare say she will only laugh at it. If she
marries to my liking, she will be down for a good thing in my will, some
day. God bless us all. Amen. Amen.

"'Yours affectionately,

"'NELSON AND BRONTE.'"


"Take it to heart, my dear; and so must I," said the Admiral, laughing
at the face his daughter made; "your godfather is a most excellent judge
of everybody's character except his own. But, bless me, my dear, why,
you are crying! You silly little thing! I was only in fun. You shall
marry to his liking, and be down for the good thing. Look up, and laugh
at everybody, my darling. No one laughs so merrily as my pretty Dolly.
Why, Faith, what does she mean by this?"

To the coaxing voice of her father, and the playful glance that she used
to play with, Dolly had not rushed up at all, either with mind, or, if
that failed, with body, as she always used to do. She hurried towards
the door, as if she longed to be away from them; and then, as if she
would rather not make any stir about it, sat down and pretended to have
caught her dress in something.

"The only thing is to let her go on as she likes," Faith said aloud,
so that Dolly might hear all of it; "I have done all I can, but she
believes herself superior. She cannot bear any sort of contradiction,
and she expects one to know what she says, without her saying it. There
is nothing to be done but to treat her the same way. If she is left to
herself, she may come back to it."

"Well, my dear children," said the Admiral, much alarmed at the prospect
of a broil between them, such as he remembered about three years back,
"I make no pretence to understand your ways. If you were boys, it would
be different altogether. But the Almighty has been pleased to make
you girls, and very good ones too; in fact, there are none to be found
better. You have always been bound up with one another and with me; and
every one admires all the three of us. So that we must be content if
a little thing arises, not to make too much of it, but bear with one
another, and defy anybody to come in between us. Kiss one another, my
dears, and be off; for I have much correspondence to attend to, besides
the great Nelson's, though I took him first, hoping for something
sensible. But I have not much to learn about Springhaven, even from his
lordship. However, he is a man in ten thousand, and we must not be vexed
about any of his crotchets, because he has never had children to talk
about; and he gets out of soundings when he talks about mine. I wish
Lady Scudamore was come back. She always agrees with me, and she takes a
great load off my shoulders."

The girls laughed at this, as they were meant to do. And they
hurried off together, to compare opinions. After all these years of
independence, no one should be set up over them. Upon that point Faith
was quite as resolute as Dolly; and her ladyship would have refused to
come back, if she had overheard their council. For even in the loftiest
feminine nature lurks a small tincture of jealousy.

But Dolly was now in an evil frame of mind about many things which she
could not explain even to herself, with any satisfaction. Even that
harmless and pleasant letter from her great godfather went amiss with
her; and instead of laughing at the words about herself, as with a sound
conscience she must have done, she brooded over them, and turned them
bitter. No man could have mixed up things as she did, but her mind was
nimble. For the moment, she hated patriotism, because Nelson represented
it; and feeling how wrong he had been about herself, she felt that he
was wrong in everything. The French were fine fellows, and had quite as
much right to come here as we had to go and harass them, and a little
abatement of English conceit might be a good thing in the long-run. Not
that she would let them stay here long; that was not to be thought of,
and they would not wish it. But a little excitement would be delightful,
and a great many things might be changed for the better, such as the
treatment of women in this country, which was barbarous, compared to
what it was in France. Caryl had told her a great deal about that; and
the longer she knew him the more she was convinced of his wisdom and
the largeness of his views, so different from the savage spirit of Lord
Nelson.



CHAPTER LI

STRANGE CRAFT


While his love was lapsing from him thus, and from her own true self yet
more, the gallant young sailor, whose last prize had been that useful
one misfortune, was dwelling continually upon her image, because he
had very little else to do. English prisoners in France were treated
sometimes very badly, which they took good care to proclaim to Europe;
but more often with pity, and good-will, and a pleasant study of their
modes of thought. For an Englishman then was a strange and ever fresh
curiosity to a Frenchman, a specimen of another race of bipeds, with
doubts whether marriage could make parentage between them. And a century
of intercourse, good-will, and admiration has left us still inquisitive
about each other.

Napoleon felt such confidence in his plans for the conquest of England
that if any British officer belonging to the fleet in the narrow seas
was taken (which did not happen largely), he sent for him, upon his
arrival at Boulogne, and held a little talk with any one who could
understand and answer. He was especially pleased at hearing of the
capture of Blyth Scudamore (who had robbed him of his beloved Blonde),
and at once restored Desportes to favour, which he had begun to do
before, knowing as well as any man on earth the value of good officers.
"Bring your prisoner here to-morrow at twelve o'clock," was his order;
"you have turned the tables upon him well."

Scudamore felt a little nervous tingling as he passed through the
sentries, with his friend before him, into the pavilion of the greatest
man in Europe. But the Emperor, being in high good-humour, and pleased
with the young man's modest face and gentle demeanour, soon set him at
his ease, and spoke to him as affably as if he had been his equal. For
this man of almost universal mind could win every heart, when he set
himself to do it. Scudamore rubbed his eyes, which was a trick of his,
as if he could scarcely believe them. Napoleon looked--not insignificant
(that was impossible for a man with such a countenance), but mild, and
pleasing, and benevolent, as he walked to and fro, for he never could
stay still, in the place which was neither a tent nor a room, but a
mixture of the two, and not a happy one. His hat, looped up with a
diamond and quivering with an ostrich feather, was flung anyhow upon the
table. But his wonderful eyes were the brightest thing there.

"Ha! ha!" said the Emperor, a very keen judge of faces; "you expected
to find me a monster, as I am portrayed by your caricaturists. Your
countrymen are not kind to me, except the foremost of them--the great
poets. But they will understand me better by-and-by, when justice
prevails, and the blessings of peace, for which I am striving
perpetually. But the English nation, if it were allowed a voice, would
proclaim me its only true friend and ally. You know that, if you are one
of the people, and not of the hateful House of Lords, which engrosses
all the army and the navy. Are you in connection with the House of
Lords?"

Scudamore shook his head and smiled. He was anxious to say that he had
a cousin, not more than twice removed, now an entire viscount; but
Napoleon never encouraged conversation, unless it was his own, or in
answer to his questions.

"Very well. Then you can speak the truth. What do they think of all this
grand army? Are they aware that, for their own good, it will very soon
occupy London? Are they forming themselves to act as my allies, when I
have reduced them to reason? Is it now made entirely familiar to their
minds that resistance to me is as hopeless as it has been from the first
unwise? If they would submit, without my crossing, it would save them
some disturbance, and me a great expense. I have often hoped to hear of
it."

"You will never do that, sire," Scudamore answered, looking calmly and
firmly at the deep gray eyes, whose gaze could be met by none of the
millions who dread passion; "England will not submit, even if you
conquer her."

"It is well said, and doubtless you believe it," Napoleon continued,
with a smile so slight that to smile in reply to it would have been
impertinent; "but England is the same as other nations, although the
most obstinate among them. When her capital is occupied, her credit
ruined, her great lords unable to obtain a dinner, the government (which
is not the country) will yield, and the country must follow it. I have
heard that the King, and the Court, and the Parliament, talk of
flying to the north, and there remaining, while the navy cuts off our
communications, and the inferior classes starve us. Have you heard of
any such romance as that?"

"No, sire:" Scudamore scarcely knew what to call him, but adopted this
vocative for want of any better. "I have never heard of any such
plan, and no one would think of packing up, until our fleet has been
demolished."

"Your fleet? Yes, yes. How many ships are now parading to and fro, and
getting very tired of it?"

"Your Majesty's officers know that best," Scudamore answered, with his
pleasant open smile. "I have been a prisoner for a month and more, and
kept ten miles inland, out of sight of the sea."

"But you have been well treated, I hope. You have no complaint to make,
Monsieur Scutamour? Your name is French, and you speak the language
well. We set the fair example in the treatment of brave men."

"Sire, I have been treated," the young officer replied, with a low bow,
and eyes full of gratitude, "as a gentleman amongst gentlemen. I might
say as a friend among kind friends."

"That is as it should be. It is my wish always. Few of your English
fabrications annoy me more than the falsehoods about that. It is most
ungenerous, when I do my best, to charge me with strangling brave
English captains. But Desportes fought well, before you took his vessel.
Is it not so? Speak exactly as you think. I like to hear the enemy's
account of every action."

"Captain Desportes, sire, fought like a hero, and so did all his crew.
It was only his mishap in sticking fast upon a sand-bank that enabled us
to overpower him."

"And now he has done the like to you. You speak with a brave man's
candour. You shall be at liberty to see the sea, monsieur; for a sailor
always pines for that. I will give full instructions to your friend
Desportes about you. But one more question before you go--is there much
anxiety in England?"

"Yes, sire, a great deal. But we hope not to allow your Majesty's
armament to enter and increase it."

"Ah, we shall see, we shall see how that will be. Now farewell, Captain.
Tell Desportes to come to me."

"Well, my dear friend, you have made a good impression," said the French
sailor, when he rejoined Scudamore, after a few words with the Master of
the State; "all you have to do is to give your word of honour to avoid
our lines, and keep away from the beach, and of course to have no
communication with your friends upon military subjects. I am allowed
to place you for the present at Beutin, a pleasant little hamlet on
the Canche, where lives an old relative of mine, a Monsieur Jalais, an
ancient widower, with a large house and one servant. I shall be afloat,
and shall see but little of you, which is the only sad part of the
business. You will have to report yourself to your landlord at eight
every morning and at eight o'clock at night, and only to leave the house
between those hours, and not to wander more than six miles from home.
How do these conditions approve themselves to you?"

"I call them very liberal, and very handsome," Scudamore answered, as
he well might do. "Two miles' range is all that we allow in England to
French officers upon parole. These generous terms are due to your kind
friendship."

Before very long the gentle Scuddy was as happy as a prisoner can expect
to be, in his comfortable quarters at Beutin. Through friendly exchanges
he had received a loving letter from his mother, with an amiable
enclosure, and M. Jalais being far from wealthy, a pleasant arrangement
was made between them. Scudamore took all his meals with his host, who
could manage sound victuals like an Englishman, and the house-keeper,
house-cleaner, and house-feeder (misdescribed by Desportes as a servant,
according to our distinctions), being a widow of mark, sat down to
consider her cookery upon choice occasions. Then for a long time would
prevail a conscientious gravity, and reserve of judgment inwardly,
everybody waiting for some other body's sentiments; until the author of
the work, as a female, might no more abide the malignant silence of male
reviewers.

Scudamore, being very easily amused, as any good-natured young man is,
entered with zest into all these doings, and became an authority upon
appeal; and being gifted with depth of simplicity as well as high
courtesy of taste, was never known to pronounce a wrong decision. That
is to say, he decided always in favour of the lady, which has been the
majestic course of Justice for centuries, till the appearance of Mrs.
-----, the lady who should have married the great Home-Ruler.

Thus the wily Scudamore obtained a sitting-room, with the prettiest
outlook in the house, or indeed in any house in that part of the world
for many leagues of seeking. For the mansion of M. Jalais stood in an
elbow of the little river, and one window of this room showed the curve
of tidal water widening towards the sea, while the other pleasantly gave
eye to the upper reaches of the stream, where an angler of rose-coloured
mind might almost hope to hook a trout. The sun glanced down the stream
in the morning, and up it to see what he had done before he set; and
although M. Jalais' trees were leafless now, they had sleeved their bent
arms with green velvetry of moss.

Scudamore brought his comfortable chair to the nook between these
windows, and there, with a book or two belonging to his host, and the
pipe whose silver clouds enthrone the gods of contemplation, many a
pleasant hour was passed, seldom invaded by the sounds of war. For the
course of the roads, and sands of the river, kept this happy spot aloof
from bad communications. Like many other streams in northern France,
the Canche had been deepened and its mouth improved, not for uses of
commerce, but of warfare. Veteran soldier and raw recruit, bugler,
baker, and farrier, man who came to fight and man who came to write
about it, all had been turned into navvies, diggers, drivers of piles,
or of horses, or wheelbarrows, by the man who turned everybody into
his own teetotum. The Providence that guides the world showed mercy in
sending that engine of destruction before there was a Railway for him to
run upon.

Now Scudamore being of a different sort, and therefore having pleased
Napoleon (who detested any one at all of his own pattern), might have
been very well contented here, and certainly must have been so, if he
had been without those two windows. Many a bird has lost his nest, and
his eggs, and his mate, and even his own tail, by cocking his eyes to
the right and left, when he should have drawn their shutters up. And
why? Because the brilliance of his too projecting eyes has twinkled
through the leaves upon the narrow oblong of the pupils of a spotty-eyed
cat going stealthily under the comb of the hedge, with her stomach wired
in, and her spinal column fluted, to look like a wrinkled blackthorn
snag. But still worse is it for that poor thrush, or lintie, or robin,
or warbler-wren, if he flutters in his bosom when he spies that cat, and
sets up his feathers, and begins to hop about, making a sad little chirp
to his mate, and appealing to the sky to protect him and his family.

Blyth Scudamore's case was a mixture of those two. It would have been
better for his comfort if he had shut his eyes; but having opened them,
he should have stayed where he was, without any fluttering. However, he
acted for the best; and when a man does that, can those who never do so
find a word to say against him?

According to the best of his recollection, which was generally near the
mark, it was upon Christmas Eve, A.D. 1804, that his curiosity was first
aroused. He had made up his room to look a little bit like home, with
a few sprigs of holly, and a sheaf of laurel, not placed daintily as a
lady dresses them, but as sprightly as a man can make them look, and as
bright as a captive Christmas could expect. The decorator shed a little
sigh--if that expression may be pardoned by analogy, for he certainly
neither fetched nor heaved it--and then he lit his pipe to reflect upon
home blessings, and consider the free world outside, in which he had
very little share at present.

Mild blue eyes, such as this young man possessed, are often
short-sighted at a moderate range, and would be fitted up with glasses
in these artificial times, and yet at long distance they are most
efficient, and can make out objects that would puzzle keener organs. And
so it was that Scudamore, with the sinking sun to help him, descried at
a long distance down the tidal reach a peaceful-looking boat, which made
his heart beat faster. For a sailor's glance assured him that she was
English--English in her rig and the stiff cut of her canvas, and in all
those points of character to a seaman so distinctive, which apprise him
of his kindred through the length of air and water, as clearly as we
landsmen know a man from a woman at the measure of a furlong, or a
quarter of a mile. He perceived that it was an English pilot-boat, and
that she was standing towards him. At first his heart fluttered with
a warm idea, that there must be good news for him on board that boat.
Perhaps, without his knowledge, an exchange of prisoners might have been
agreed upon; and what a grand Christmas-box for him, if the order for
his release was there! But another thought showed him the absurdity
of this hope, for orders of release do not come so. Nevertheless, he
watched that boat with interest and wonder.

Presently, just as the sun was setting, and shadows crossed the water,
the sail (which had been gleaming like a candle-flame against the haze
and upon the glaze) flickered and fell, and the bows swung round, and
her figure was drawn upon the tideway. She was now within half a mile
of M. Jalais' house, and Scudamore, though longing for a spy-glass, was
able to make out a good deal without one. He saw that she was an
English pilot-boat, undecked, but fitted with a cuddy forward, rigged
luggerwise, and built for speed, yet fit to encounter almost any Channel
surges. She was light in the water, and bore little except ballast. He
could not be sure at that distance, but he thought that the sailors must
be Englishmen, especially the man at the helm, who was beyond reasonable
doubt the captain.

Then two long sweeps were manned amidship, with two sturdy fellows to
tug at each; and the quiet evening air led through the soft rehearsal of
the water to its banks the creak of tough ash thole-pins, and the groan
of gunwale, and the splash of oars, and even a sound of human staple,
such as is accepted by the civilized world as our national diapason.

The captive Scuddy, who observed all this, was thoroughly puzzled at
that last turn. Though the craft was visibly English, the crew might
still have been doubtful, if they had held their tongues, or kept them
in submission. But that word stamped them, or at any rate the one who
had been struck in the breast by the heavy timber, as of genuine British
birth. Yet there was no sign that these men were prisoners, or acting by
compulsion. No French boat was near them, no batteries there commanded
their course, and the pilot-boat carried no prize-crew to direct
reluctant labours. At the mouth of the river was a floating bridge, for
the use of the forces on either side, and no boat could have passed it
without permission. Therefore these could be no venturesome Britons,
spying out the quarters of the enemy; either they must have been allowed
to pass for some special purpose, under flag of truce, or else they
were traitors, in league with the French, and despatched upon some dark
errand.

In a few minutes, as the evening dusk began to deepen round her, the
mysterious little craft disappeared in a hollow of the uplands on the
other side of the water, where a narrow creek or inlet--such as
is called a "pill" in some parts of England--formed a sheltered
landing-place, overhung with clustering trees. Then Scudamore rose, and
filled another pipe, to meditate upon this strange affair. "I am
justly forbidden," he thought, as it grew dark, "to visit the camp, or
endeavour to learn anything done by the army of invasion. And I have
pledged myself to that effect. But this is a different case altogether.
When Englishmen come here as traitors to their country, and in a place
well within my range, my duty is to learn the meaning of it; and if
I find treachery of importance working, then I must consider about my
parole, and probably withdraw it. That would be a terrible blow to me,
because I should certainly be sent far inland, and kept in a French
prison perhaps for years, with little chance of hearing from my friends
again. And then she would give me up as lost, that faithful darling,
who has put aside all her bright prospects for my sake. How I wish I had
never seen that boat! and I thought it was coming to bring me such good
news! I am bound to give them one day's grace, for they might not
know where to find me at once, and to-night I could not get near them,
without overstaying my time to be in-doors. But if I hear nothing
to-morrow, and see nothing, I must go round, so as not to be seen, and
learn something about her the very next morning."

Hearing nothing and seeing no more, he spent an uncomfortable Christmas
Day, disappointing his host and kind Madame Fropot, who had done all
they knew to enliven him with a genuine English plum-pudding. And the
next day, with a light foot but rather heavy heart, he made the long
round by the bridge up-stream, and examined the creek which the English
boat had entered. He approached the place very cautiously, knowing that
if his suspicions were correct, they might be confirmed too decisively,
and his countrymen, if they had fire-arms, would give him a warm
reception. However, there was no living creature to be seen, except
a poor terrified ox, who had escaped from the slaughter-houses of the
distant camp, and hoped for a little rest in this dark thicket. He was
worn out with his long flight and sadly wounded, for many men had shot
at him, when he desired to save his life; and although his mouth was
little more than the length of his tail from water, there he lay gasping
with his lips stretched out, and his dry tongue quivering between his
yellow teeth, and the only moisture he could get was running out instead
of into his mouth.

Scudamore, seeing that the coast was clear, and no enemy in chase of
this poor creature, immediately filled his hat with fresh water--for the
tide was out now, and the residue was sweet--and speaking very gently in
the English language, for he saw that he must have been hard-shouted
at in French, was allowed without any more disturbance of the system to
supply a little glad refreshment. The sorely afflicted animal licked his
lips, and looked up for another hatful.

Captain Scuddy deserved a new hat for this--though very few Englishmen
would not have done the like--and in the end he got it, though he must
have caught a bad cold if he had gone without a hat till then.

Pursuing his search, with grateful eyes pursuing him, he soon discovered
where the boat had grounded, by the impress of her keel and forefoot on
the stiff retentive mud. He could even see where a hawser had been made
fast to a staunch old trunk, and where the soil had been prodded with
a pole in pushing her off at the turn of tide. Also deep tracks of some
very large hound, or wolf, or unknown quadruped, in various places,
scarred the bank. And these marks were so fresh and bright that they
must have been made within the last few hours, probably when the last
ebb began. If so, the mysterious craft had spent the whole of Christmas
Day in that snug berth; and he blamed himself for permitting his host's
festivities to detain him. Then he took a few bearings to mark the
spot, and fed the poor crippled ox with all the herbage he could gather,
resolving to come with a rope to-morrow, and lead him home, if possible,
as a Christmas present to M. Jalais.



CHAPTER LII

KIND ENQUIRIES


That notable year, and signal mark in all the great annals of England,
the year 1805, began with gloom and great depression. Food was scarce,
and so was money; wars, and rumours of worse than war; discontent of men
who owed it to their birth and country to stand fast, and trust in
God, and vigorously defy the devil; sinkings even of strong hearts, and
quailing of spirits that had never quailed before; passionate outcry for
peace without honour, and even without safety; savage murmurings at wise
measures and at the burdens that must be borne--none but those who lived
through all these troubles could count half of them. If such came now,
would the body of the nation strive to stand against them, or fall in
the dust, and be kicked and trampled, sputtering namby-pamby? Britannia
now is always wrong, in the opinion of her wisest sons, if she dares to
defend herself even against weak enemies; what then would her crime
be if she buckled her corselet against the world! To prostitute their
mother is the philanthropy of Communists.

But while the anxious people who had no belief in foreigners were
watching by the dark waves, or at the twilight window trembling (if ever
a shooting-star drew train, like a distant rocket-signal), or in their
sleepy beds scared, and jumping up if a bladder burst upon a jam-pot,
no one attempted to ridicule them, and no public journal pronounced that
the true British flag was the white feather. It has been left for times
when the power of England is tenfold what it was then, and her duties
a hundredfold, to tell us that sooner than use the one for the proper
discharge of the other, we must break it up and let them go to pot upon
it, for fear of hurting somebody that stuck us in the back.

But who of a right mind knows not this, and who with a wrong one
will heed it? The only point is that the commonest truisms come upon
utterance sometimes, and take didactic form too late; even as we shout
to our comrade prone, and beginning to rub his poor nose, "Look out!"
And this is what everybody did with one accord, when he was down upon
his luck--which is far more momentous than his nose to any man--in the
case of Rector Twemlow.

That gentleman now had good reason for being in less than his usual
cheer and comfort. Everything around him was uneasy, and everybody
seemed to look at him, instead of looking up to him, as the manner used
to be. This was enough to make him feel unlike himself; for although he
was resolute in his way, and could manage to have it with most people,
he was not of that iron style which takes the world as wax to write
upon. Mr. Twemlow liked to heave his text at the people of his parish on
Sunday, and to have his joke with them on Monday; as the fire that has
burned a man makes the kettle sing to comfort him. And all who met him
throughout the week were pleased with him doubly, when they remembered
his faithfulness in the pulpit.

But now he did his duty softly, as if some of it had been done to him;
and if anybody thanked him for a fine discourse, he never endeavoured
to let him have it all again. So far was he gone from his natural state
that he would rather hear nothing about himself than be praised enough
to demand reply; and this shows a world-wide depression to have arrived
in the latitude of a British waistcoat. However, he went through his
work, as a Briton always does, until he hangs himself; and he tried
to try some of the higher consolation, which he knew so well how to
administer to others.

Those who do not understand the difference of this might have been
inclined to blame him; but all who have seen a clever dentist with the
toothache are aware that his knowledge adds acuteness to the pain. Mr.
Twemlow had borne great troubles well, and been cheerful even under
long suspense; but now a disappointment close at home, and the grief
of beholding his last hopes fade, were embittered by mystery and dark
suspicions. In despair at last of recovering his son, he had fastened
upon his only daughter the interest of his declining life; and now he
was vexed with misgivings about her, which varied as frequently as she
did. It was very unpleasant to lose the chance of having a grandchild
capable of rocking in a silver cradle; but that was a trifle compared
with the prospect of having no grandchild at all, and perhaps not even
a child to close his eyes. And even his wife, of long habit and fair
harmony, from whom he had never kept any secret--frightful as might be
the cost to his honour--even Mrs. Twemlow shook her head sometimes, when
the arrangement of her hair permitted it, and doubted whether any of the
Carne Castle Carnes would have borne with such indignity.

"Prosecute him, prosecute him," this good lady always said. "You ought
to have been a magistrate, Joshua--the first magistrate in the Bible was
that--and then you would have known how to do things. But because you
would have to go to Sir Charles Darling--whose Sir can never put him on
the level of the Carnes--you have some right feeling against taking out
a summons. In that I agree with you; it would be very dreadful here. But
in London he might be punished, I am sure; and I know a great deal
about the law, for I never had any one connected with me who was not
a magistrate; the Lord Mayor has a Court of his own for trying the
corporation under the chair; and if this was put properly before him by
a man like Mr. Furkettle, upon the understanding that he should not be
paid unless he won his case, I am sure the result would be three years'
imprisonment. By that time he would have worn out his coat with jailer's
keys upon it, which first attracted our poor Eliza; or if he was not
allowed to wear it, it would go out of fashion, and be harmless. No one
need know a word about it here, for Captain Stubbard would oblige us
gladly by cutting it out of the London papers. My dear, you have nobody
ill in the parish; I will put up your things, and see you off to-morrow.
We will dine late on Friday, to suit the coach; and you will be quite
fit for Sunday work again, if you keep up your legs on a chair all
Saturday."

"If ever I saw a straightforward man," Mr. Twemlow used to answer, "it
was poor Percival Shargeloes. He is gone to a better world, my dear.
And if he continued to be amenable to law, this is not a criminal, but a
civil case."

"A nice case of civility, Joshua! But you always stand up for your sex.
Does the coach take people to a better world? A stout gentleman, like
him, was seen inside the coach, muffled up in a cravat of three colours,
and eating at frequent intervals."

"The very thing poor Percival never did. That disposes to my mind of
that foolish story. My dear, when all truth comes to light, you will do
justice to his memory."

"Yes, I dare say. But I should like to do it now. If you entertain any
dark ideas, it is your duty to investigate them. Also to let me share
them, Joshua, as I have every right to do."

This was just what the Rector could not do; otherwise he might have been
far more happy. Remembering that last conversation with his prospective
son-in-law, and the poor man's declaration that the suspicious matter at
the castle ought to be thoroughly searched out at once, he nourished a
dark suspicion, which he feared to impart to his better half, the
aunt of the person suspected. But the longer he concealed it, the more
unbearable grew this misery to a candid nature, until he was compelled,
in self-defence, to allow it some sort of outlet. "I will speak to the
fellow myself," he said, heartily disliking the young man now, "and
judge from his manner what next I ought to do."

This resolution gave him comfort, much as he hated any interview with
Carne, who treated him generally with cold contempt. And, like most
people who have formed a decision for the easing of the conscience, he
accepted very patiently the obstacles encountered. In the first place,
Carne was away upon business; then he was laid up with a heavy cold;
then he was much too hard at work (after losing so much time) to be able
to visit Springhaven; and to seek him in his ruins was most unsafe, even
if one liked to do it. For now it was said that two gigantic dogs, as
big as a bull and as fierce as a tiger, roved among the ruins all day,
and being always famished, would devour in two minutes any tempting
stranger with a bit of flesh or fat on him. The Rector, patting his
gaiters, felt that instead of a pastor he might become a very sweet
repast to them, and his delicacy was renewed and deepened. He was bound
to wait until his nephew appeared at least inside his parish.

Therefore the time of year was come almost to the middle of February
when Mr. Twemlow at last obtained the chance he required and dreaded. He
heard that his nephew had been seen that day to put up his horse in the
village, and would probably take the homeward road as soon as it grew
too dark to read. So he got through his own work (consisting chiefly of
newspaper, dinner, and a cool clay pipe, to equalise mind with matter),
and having thus escaped the ladies, off he set by the lobby door,
carrying a good thick stick. As the tide would be up, and only deep
sand left for the heavy track of the traveller, he chose the inland way
across the lower part of the Admiral's grounds, leading to the village
by a narrow plank bridge across the little stream among some trees. Here
were banks of earth and thicket, shadowy dells where the primrose grew,
and the cuckoo-pint, and wood-sorrel, and perhaps in summer the glowworm
breathed her mossy gleam under the blackberries.

And here Parson Twemlow was astonished, though he had promised himself
to be surprised no more, after all he had been through lately. As he
turned a sharp corner by an ivied tree, a breathless young woman ran
into his arms.

"Oh!" cried the Rector, for he was walking briskly, with a
well-nourished part of his system forward--"oh, I hope you have not hurt
yourself. No doubt it was my fault. Why, Dolly! What a hurry you are in!
And all alone--all alone, almost after dark!"

"To be sure; and that makes me in such a hurry;" Miss Dolly was in sad
confusion. "But I suppose I am safe in my father's own grounds."

"From everybody, except yourself, my dear," Mr. Twemlow replied,
severely. "Is your father aware, does your sister know, that you are
at this distance from the house after dark, and wholly without a
companion?"

"It is not after dark, Mr. Twemlow; although it is getting darker than
I meant it to be. I beg your pardon for terrifying you. I hope you
will meet with no other perils! Good-night! Or at least I mean,
good-afternoon!"

"The brazen creature!" thought Mr. Twemlow, as the girl without another
word disappeared. "Not even to offer me any excuse! But I suppose she
had no fib handy. She will come to no good, I am very much afraid. Maria
told me that she was getting very wilful; but I had no idea that it was
quite so bad as this. I am sorry for poor Scudamore, who thinks her such
an angel. I wonder if Carne is at the bottom of this? There is nothing
too bad for that dark young man. I shall ascertain at any rate whether
he is in the village. But unless I look sharp I shall be too late to
meet him. Oh, I can't walk so fast as I did ten years ago."

Impelled by duty to put best leg foremost, and taking a short-cut above
the village, he came out upon the lane leading towards the castle, some
half-mile or so beyond the last house of Springhaven. Here he waited to
recover breath, and prepare for what he meant to say, and he was sorry
to perceive that light would fail him for strict observation of his
nephew's face. But he chose the most open spot he could find, where the
hedges were low, and nothing overhung the road.

Presently he heard the sound of hoofs approaching leisurely up the hill,
and could see from his resting-place that Carne was coming, sitting
loosely and wearily on his high black horse. Then the Rector, to cut
short an unpleasant business, stood boldly forth and hailed him.

"No time for anything now," shouted Carne; "too late already. Do you
want my money? You are come to the wrong man for that; but the right
one, I can tell you, for a bullet."

"Caryl, it is I, your uncle Twemlow, or at any rate the husband of your
aunt. Put up your pistol, and speak to me a minute. I have something
important to say to you. And I never can find you at the castle."

"Then be quick, sir, if you please;" Carne had never condescended to
call this gentleman his uncle. "I have little time to spare. Out with
it."

"You were riding very slowly for a man in a hurry," said the Rector,
annoyed at his roughness. "But I will not keep you long, young man. For
some good reasons of your own you have made a point of avoiding us, your
nearest relatives in this country, and to whom you addressed yourself
before you landed in a manner far more becoming. Have I ever pressed my
attentions upon you?"

"No, I confess that you have not done that. You perceived as a gentleman
how little there was in common between the son of a devoted Catholic and
a heretic clergyman."

"That is one way to put it," Mr. Twemlow answered, smiling in spite of
his anger at being called a heretic; "but I was not aware that you had
strong religious views. However that may be, we should have many things
in common, as Englishmen, at a time like this. But what I came to speak
of is not that. We can still continue to get on without you, although
we would rather have met with friendly feeling and candour, as becomes
relatives. But little as you know of us, you must be well aware that
your cousin Eliza was engaged to be married to a gentleman from London,
Mr. Percival Shargeloes, and that he--"

"I am sure I wish her all happiness, and congratulate you, my dear sir,
as well as my aunt Maria. I shall call, as soon as possible, to offer
my best wishes. It was very kind of you to tell me. Goodnight, sir,
good-night! There is a shower coming."

"But," exclaimed the Rector, nonplussed for the moment by this view
of the subject, yet standing square before the horse, "Shargeloes has
disappeared. What have you done with him?"

Carne looked at his excellent uncle as if he had much doubt about his
sanity. "Try to explain yourself, my dear sir. Try to connect your
ideas," he said, "and offer me the benefit another time. My horse is
impatient; he may strike you with his foot."

"If he does, I shall strike him upon the head," Mr. Twemlow replied,
with his heavy stick ready. "It will be better for you to hear me out.
Otherwise I shall procure a search-warrant, and myself examine your
ruins, of which I know every crick and cranny. And your aunt Maria shall
come with me, who knows every stone even better than you do. That would
be a very different thing from an overhauling by Captain Stubbard. I
think we should find a good many barrels and bales that had paid no
duty."

"My dear uncle," cried Carne, with more affection than he ever yet had
shown, "that is no concern of yours; you have no connection with the
Revenue; and I am sure that Aunt Maria would be loth to help in pulling
down the family once more. But do as you please. I am accustomed to
ill fortune. Only I should like to know what this is about poor Cousin
Eliza. If any man has wronged her, leave the case to me. You have no son
now, and the honour of the family shall not suffer in my hands. I will
throw up everything, busy as I am, to make such a rascal bite the dust.
And Eliza so proud, and so upright herself!"

"Caryl," said his uncle, moved more than he liked to show by this
fine feeling, "you know more, I see, than you liked to show at first,
doubtless through goodwill to us. Your dear aunt wished to keep the
matter quiet, for the sake of poor Eliza, and her future chances. But I
said--No. Let us have it all out. If there is wrong, we have suffered,
not done it. Concealment is odious to every honest mind."

"Deeply, deeply odious. Upon that point there can be no two
opinions"--he forgets his barrels, thought the Rector--"but surely this
man, whatever his name is--Charleygoes--must have been hiding from you
something in his own history. Probably he had a wife already. City men
often do that when young, and then put their wives somewhere when
they get rich, and pay visits, and even give dinners, as if they were
bachelors to be sought after. Was Charleygoes that sort of a man?"

"His name is 'Shargeloes,' a name well known, as I am assured, in the
highest quarters. And he certainly was not sought after by us, but came
to me with an important question bearing on ichthyology. He may be a
wanderer, as you suggest, and as all the ladies seem to think. But my
firm belief is to the contrary. And my reason for asking you about him
is a very clear one. He had met you twice, and felt interest in you as
a future member of our family. You had never invited him to the castle;
and the last intention he expressed in my hearing was to call upon you
without one. Has he met with an accident in your cellars? Or have your
dogs devoured him? He carried a good deal of flesh, in spite of all he
could do to the contrary; and any man naturally might endeavour to hush
up such an incident. Tell me the truth, Caryl. And we will try to meet
it."

"My two dogs (who would never eat any one, though they might pull down
a stranger, and perhaps pretend to bite him) arrived here the first week
in January. When did Charleygoes disappear? I am not up in dates, but it
must have been weeks and weeks before that time. And I must have heard
of it, if it had happened. I may give you my honour that Orso and Leo
have not eaten Charleygoes."

"You speak too lightly of a man in high position, who would have been
Lord Mayor of London, if he had never come to Springhaven. But living
or dead, he shall never be that now. Can you answer me, in the same
straightforward manner, as to an accident in your cellars; which, as a
gentleman upon a private tour, he had clearly no right to intrude upon?"

"I can answer you quite as clearly. Nothing accidental has happened in
my cellars. You may come and see them, if you have any doubt about it.
And you need not apply for a search-warrant."

"God forbid, my dear fellow," cried the uncle, "that I should intrude
upon any little matters of delicacy, such as are apt to arise between
artificial laws and gentlemen who happen to live near the sea, and to
have large places that require restoring! I shall go home with a
lighter heart. There is nothing in this world that brings the comfort of
straightforwardness."



CHAPTER LIII

TIME AND PLACE


In a matter like that French invasion, which had been threatened for
such a time, and kept so long impending, "the cry of wolf" grows stale
at last, and then the real danger comes. Napoleon had reckoned upon
this, as he always did upon everything, and for that good reason he had
not grudged the time devoted to his home affairs. These being settled
according to his will, and mob turned into pomp as gaily as grub turns
into butterfly, a strong desire for a little more glory arose in his
mighty but ill-regulated mind. If he could only conquer England, or even
without that fetch her down on her knees and make her lick her own dust
off the feet of Frenchmen, from that day forth all the nations of the
earth must bow down before him. Russia, Prussia, Austria, Spain, though
they might have had the power, never would have plucked the spirit up,
to resist him hand in hand, any more than skittle-pins can back one
another up against the well-aimed ball.

The balance of to-be or not-to-be, as concerned our country (which many
now despise, as the mother of such disloyal children), after all that
long suspension, hung in the clouds of that great year; and a very
cloudy year it was, and thick with storms on land and sea. Storm was
what the Frenchmen longed for, to disperse the British ships; though
storm made many an Englishman, pulling up the counterpane as the window
rattled, thank the Father of the weather for keeping the enemy ashore
and in a fright. But the greatest peril of all would be in the case of
fog succeeding storm, when the mighty flotilla might sweep across before
our ships could resume blockade, or even a frigate intercept.

One of the strangest points in all this period of wonders, to us who
after the event are wise, is that even far-sighted Nelson and his
watchful colleagues seem to have had no inkling of the enemy's main
project. Nelson believed Napoleon to be especially intent on Egypt;
Collingwood expected a sudden dash on Ireland; others were sure that
his object was Jamaica; and many maintained that he would step ashore
in India. And these last came nearest to the mark upon the whole, for a
great historian (who declares, like Caryl Carne, that a French invasion
is a blessing to any country) shows that, for at least a month in the
spring of 1805, his hero was revolving a mighty scheme for robbing poor
England of blissful ravage, and transferring it to India.

However, the master of the world--as he was called already, and meant
soon to be--suddenly returned to his earlier design, and fixed the vast
power of his mind upon it. He pushed with new vigour his preparations,
which had been slackened awhile, he added 30,000 well-trained soldiers
to his force already so enormous, and he breathed the quick spirit
of enterprise into the mighty mass he moved. Then, to clear off all
obstacles, and ensure clear speed of passage, he sent sharp orders to
his Admirals to elude and delude the British fleets, and resolved to
enhance that delusion by his own brief absence from the scene.

Meanwhile a man of no importance to the world, and of very moderate
ambition, was passing a pleasant time in a quiet spot, content to
be scarcely a spectator even of the drama in rehearsal around him.
Scudamore still abode with M. Jalais, and had won his hearty friendship,
as well as the warm good-will of that important personage Madame Fropot.
Neither of these could believe at first that any Englishman was kind
and gentle, playful in manner, and light-hearted, easily pleased, and
therefore truly pleasing. But as soon as they saw the poor wounded ox
brought home by a ford, and settled happily in the orchard, and received
him as a free gift from their guest, national prejudices dwindled very
fast, and domestic good feeling grew faster. M. Jalais, although a sound
Frenchman, hated the Empire and all that led up to it; and as for
Madame Fropot, her choicest piece of cookery might turn into cinders,
if anybody mentioned conscription in her presence. For she had lost
her only son, the entire hope of her old days, as well as her only
daughter's lover, in that lottery of murder.

Nine out of ten of the people in the village were of the same way of
thinking. A great army cannot be quartered anywhere, even for a week,
without scattering brands of ill-will all around it. The swagger of the
troops, their warlike airs, and loud contempt of the undrilled swain,
the dash of a coin on the counter when they deign to pay for anything,
the insolent wink at every modest girl, and the coarse joke running
along apish mouths--even before dark crime begins, native antipathy is
sown and thrives. And now for nearly four years this coast had never
been free from the arrogant strut, the clanking spur, and the loud
guffaw, which in every age and every clime have been considered the
stamp of valour by plough-boys at the paps of Bellona. So weary was the
neighbourhood of this race, new conscripts always keeping up the pest,
that even the good M. Jalais longed to hear that the armament lay at
the bottom of the Channel. And Scudamore would have been followed by the
good wishes of every house in the village, if he had lifted his hat and
said, "Good-bye, my dear friends; I am breaking my parole."

For this, though encouraged by the popular voice, he was not
sufficiently liberal, but stayed within bounds of space and time more
carefully than if he had been watched. Captain Desportes, who had been
in every way a true friend to him, came to see him now and then, being
now in command of a division of the prames, and naturally anxious for
the signal to unmoor. Much discourse was held, without brag on either
side, but with equal certainty on both sides of success. And in one of
these talks the Englishman in the simplest manner told the Frenchman all
that he had seen on Christmas Eve, and his own suspicions about it.

"Understand this well," continued Scudamore; "if I discover any
treachery on the part of my own countrymen, I shall not be able to stop
here on the terms that have been allowed me. Whatever the plan may be,
I shall feel as if I were a party to it, if I accepted my free range
and swallowed my suspicions. With your proceedings I do not meddle,
according to fair compact, and the liberal conditions offered. But to
see my own countrymen playing my country false is more than I could
stand. You know more of such things than I do. But if you were an
Englishman, could you endure to stand by and hide treachery, for the
sake of your own comfort?"

"Beyond a doubt, no," Captain Desportes answered, spreading his hand
with decision: "in such a case I should throw up my parole. But a mere
suspicion does not justify an act so ungracious to the commander, and
personally so unkind to me. I hoped that bright eyes might persuade you
to forego hard knocks, and wear none but gentle chains among us. Nature
intended you for a Frenchman. You have the gay heart, and the easy
manner, and the grand philosophy of our great nation. Your name is
Blyth, and I know what that intends."

Scudamore blushed, for he knew that Madame Fropot was doing her best to
commit him with a lovely young lady not far off, who had felt a tender
interest in the cheerful English captive. But after trying to express
once more the deep gratitude he felt towards those who had been so
wonderfully kind and friendly, he asked with a smile, and a little sigh
behind it, what he must do, if compelled by duty to resign his present
privileges.

"My faith! I scarcely know," replied Desportes; "I have never had such
a case before. But I think you must give me a written notice, signed by
yourself and by M. Jalais, and allow a week to pass, and then, unless
you have heard from me, present yourself to the commandant of the
nearest post, which must be, I suppose, at Etaples. Rather a rough man
he is; and I fear you will have reason for regret. The duty will then
remain with him. But I beg you, my dear friend, to continue as you are.
Tush, it is nothing but some smuggler's work."

Scudamore hoped that he might be right, and for some little time was not
disturbed by any appearance to the contrary. But early in the afternoon
one day, when the month of March was near its close, he left his books
for a little fresh air, and strolled into the orchard, where his friend
the ox was dwelling. This worthy animal, endowed with a virtue denied to
none except the human race, approached him lovingly, and begged to draw
attention to the gratifying difference betwixt wounds and scars. He
offered his broad brow to the hand, and his charitable ears to be
tickled, and breathed a quick issue of good feeling and fine feeding,
from the sensitive tucks of his nostrils, as a large-hearted smoker
makes the air go up with gratitude.

But as a burnt child dreads the fire, the seriously perforated animal
kept one eye vigilant of the northern aspect, and the other studious
of the south. And the gentle Scuddy (who was finding all things happy,
which is the only way to make them so) was startled by a sharp jerk of
his dear friend's head. Following the clue of gaze, there he saw, coming
up the river with a rollicking self-trust, a craft uncommonly like that
craft which had mounted every sort of rig and flag, and carried every
kind of crew, in his many dreams about her. This made him run back to
his room at once, not only in fear of being seen upon the bank, but also
that he might command a better view, with the help of his landlord's old
spy-glass.

Using this, which he had cleaned from the dust of ages, he could clearly
see the faces of the men on board. Of these there were six, of whom five
at least were Englishmen, or of English breed. As the pilot-boat drew
nearer, and the sunlight fell upon her, to his great surprise he became
convinced that the young man at the tiller was Dan Tugwell, the son
of the captain of Springhaven. Four of the others were unknown to him,
though he fancied that he had seen two of them before, but could not
remember when or where. But he watched with special interest the tall
man lounging against the little door of the cuddy in the bows, whose
profile only was presented to him. Then the boat canted round towards
the entrance of the creek, and having his glass upon the full face of
the man, he recognised him as Caryl Carne, whom he had met more than
once at Springhaven.

His darkest suspicions were at once redoubled, and a gush of latent
jealousy was added to them. In happier days, when he was near his
lady-love, some whispers had reached him about this fellow, whose
countenance had always been repulsive to him, arrogant, moody, and
mysterious. His good mother also, though most careful not to harass
him, had mentioned that Carne in her latest letter, and by no means in
a manner to remove his old misgivings. As a matter now of duty to his
country and himself, the young sailor resolved to discover, at any risk,
what traitorous scheme had brought this dark man over here.

To escape the long circuit by the upper bridge, he had obtained leave,
through M. Jalais, to use an old boat which was kept in a bend of the
river about a mile above the house. And now, after seeing that English
boat make for the creek where she had been berthed on Christmas Eve, he
begged Madame Fropot to tell his host not to be uneasy about him, and
taking no weapon but a ground-ash stick, set forth to play spy upon
traitors. As surely as one foot came after the other, he knew that every
step was towards his grave, if he made a mistake, or even met bad luck;
but he twirled his light stick in his broad brown hand, and gently
invaded the French trees around with an old English song of the days
when still an Englishman could compose a song. But this made him think
of that old-fashioned place Springhaven; and sadness fell upon him, that
the son of its captain should be a traitor.

Instead of pulling across the river, to avoid the splash of oars he
sculled with a single oar astern, not standing up and wallowing in the
boat, but sitting and cutting the figure of 8 with less noise than a
skater makes. The tide being just at slack-water, this gave him quite
as much way as he wanted, and he steered into a little bight of the
southern bank, and made fast to a stump, and looked about; for he durst
not approach the creek until the light should fade and the men have
stowed tackle and begun to feed. The vale of the stream afforded shelter
to a very decent company of trees, which could not have put up with the
tyranny of the west wind upon the bare brow of the coast. Most of these
trees stood back a little from the margin of high tide, reluctant to see
themselves in the water, for fear of the fate of Narcissus. But where
that clandestine boat had glided into gloom and greyness, a fosse of
Nature's digging, deeply lined with wood and thicket, offered snug
harbourage to craft and fraud.

Scudamore had taken care to learn the ups and downs of the riverside ere
this, and knew them now as well as a native, for he had paid many visits
to the wounded ox, whom he could not lead home quite as soon as he had
hoped, and he had found a firm place of the little river, easy to cross
when the tide was out. With the help of this knowledge he made his way
to the creek, without much risk of being observed, and then, as he came
to the crest of the thicket, he lay down and watched the interlopers.

There was the boat, now imbedded in the mud, for the little creek was
nearly dry by this time. Her crew had all landed, and kindled a fire,
over which hung a kettle full of something good, which they seemed to
regard with tender interest; while upon a grassy slope some few yards to
the right a trooper's horse was tethered. Carne was not with them, but
had crossed the creek, as the marks of his boots in the mud declared;
and creeping some little way along the thicket, Scudamore descried
him walking to and fro impatiently in a little hollow place, where the
sailors could not see him. This was on Scudamore's side of the creek,
and scarcely fifty yards below him. "He is waiting for an interview
with somebody," thought Scuddy: "if I could only get down to that little
shanty, perhaps I should hear some fine treason. The wind is the right
way to bring me every word he says."

Keeping in shelter when the traitor walked towards him, and stealing on
silently when his back was turned, the young sailor managed to ensconce
himself unseen in the rough little wattle shed made by his own hands for
the shelter of his patient, when a snow-storm had visited the valley of
the Canche last winter. Nothing could be better fitted for his present
purpose, inasmuch as his lurking-place could scarcely be descried from
below, being sheltered by two large trees and a screen of drooping
ivy, betwixt and below which it looked no more than a casual meeting
of bushes; while on the other hand the open space beneath it was curved
like a human ear, to catch the voice and forward it.

While Scudamore was waiting here and keenly watching everything, the
light began to falter, and the latest gleam of sunset trembled with the
breath of Spring among the buds and catkins. But the tall man continued
his long, firm stride, as if the watch in his pocket were the only thing
worth heeding. Until, as the shadows lost their lines and flowed into
the general depth, Carne sprang forward, and a horse and rider burst
into the silence of the grass and moss and trees.

Carne made a low obeisance, retired a little, and stood hat in hand,
until it should please the other man to speak. And Scudamore saw, with a
start of surprise, that the other man was Napoleon.

This great man appeared, to the mild English eyes that were watching
him so intently, of a very different mood and visage from those of their
last view of him. Then the face, which combined the beauty of Athens
with the strength of Rome, was calm, and gentle, and even sweet, with
the rare indulgence of a kindly turn. But now, though not disturbed with
wrath, nor troubled by disappointment, that face (which had helped to
make his fortune, more than any woman's had ever done for her) was cast,
even if the mould could be the same, in a very different metal. Stern
force and triumphant vigour shone in every lineament, and the hard
bright eyes were intent with purpose that would have no denial.

Refusing Carne's aid, he remained on his horse, and stroked his mane for
a moment, for he loved any creature that served him well, and was tender
of heart when he could afford it; which added to his power with mankind.

"Are all your men well out of earshot?" he asked; and receiving
assurance from Carne, went on. "Now you will be satisfied at length. You
have long been impatient. It is useless to deny it. All is arranged, and
all comes to a head within three months, and perhaps within two. Only
four men will know it besides yourself, and three of those four are
commanders of my fleet. A short time will be occupied in misleading
those British ships that beleaguer us; then we concentrate ours, and
command the Channel; if only for three days, that will be enough. I
depart for Italy in three days or in four, to increase the security of
the enemy. But I shall return, without a word to any one, and as fast
as horses can lay belly to the ground, when I hear that our ships have
broken out. I shall command the invasion, and it will be for England to
find a man to set against me."

"England will have difficulty, sire, in doing that," Carne answered,
with a grim smile, for he shared the contempt of English Generals then
prevalent. "If the Continent cannot do it, how can the poor England?
Once let your Majesty land, and all is over. But what are your Majesty's
orders for me? And where do you propose to make the landing?"

"Never ask more than one question at a time," Napoleon answered, with
his usual curtness; "my orders to you are to return at once. Prepare
your supplies for a moment's notice. Through private influence of
some fair lady, you have command of the despatches of that officer at
Springport, who has the control of the naval forces there. Ha! what
was that? I heard a sound up yonder. Hasten up, and see if there is any
listener. It seemed to be there, where the wood grows thick."

Blyth Scudamore, forgetful of himself, had moved, and a dry stick
cracked beneath his foot. Carne, at the Emperor's glance and signal,
sprang up the bank, with the help of some bushes, drew his sword and
passed it between the wattles, then parted them and rushed through, but
saw no sign of any one. For Scuddy had slipped away, as lightly as a
shadow, and keeping in a mossy trough, had gained another shelter. Here
he was obliged to slink in the smallest possible compass, kneeling
upon both knees, and shrugging in both shoulders. Peering very sharply
through an intertwist of suckers (for his shelter was a stool of hazel,
thrown up to repair the loss of stem), he perceived that the Emperor had
moved his horse a little when Carne rejoined and reassured him. And this
prevented Scudamore from being half so certain as he would have liked to
be, about further particulars of this fine arrangement.

"No," was the next thing he heard Napoleon say whose power of saying
"no" had made his "yes" invincible; "no, it is not to be done like that.
You will await your instructions, and not move until you receive them
from my own hand. Make no attempt to surprise anybody or anything, until
I have ten thousand men ashore. Ten thousand will in six hours attain to
fifty thousand, if the shore proves to be as you describe; so great is
the merit of flat-bottomed boats. Your duty will be to leave the right
surprise to us, and create a false one among the enemy. This you must do
in the distance of the West, as if my Brest fleet were ravaging there,
and perhaps destroying Plymouth. You are sure that you can command the
signals for this?"

"Sire, I know everything as if I sat among it. I can do as I please with
the fair secretary; and her father is an ancient fool."

"Then success is more easy than I wish to have it, because it will not
make good esteem. If Nelson comes at all, he will be too late, as he
generally is too early. London will be in our hands by the middle of
July at the latest, probably much earlier, and then Captain Carne shall
name his own reward. Meanwhile forget not any word of what I said. Make
the passage no more. You will not be wanted here. Your services are far
more important where you are. You may risk the brave Charron, but not
yourself. Send over by the 20th of May a letter to me, under care of
Decres, to be opened by no hand but mine, upon my return from Italy, and
let the messengers wait for my reply. Among them must be the young man
who knows the coast, and we will detain him for pilot. My reply will fix
the exact date of our landing, and then you will despatch, through the
means at your command, any English force that might oppose our landing,
to the West, where we shall create a false alarm. Is all this clear to
you? You are not stupid. The great point is to do all at the right time,
having consideration of the weather."

"All is clear, and shall be carried out clearly, to the best of your
Majesty's humble servant's power."

Napoleon offered his beautiful white hand, which Carne raised to his
lips, and then the Emperor was gone. Carne returned slowly to the
boat, with triumph written prematurely on his dark stern face; while
Scudamore's brisk and ruddy features were drawn out to a wholly unwonted
length, as he quietly made his way out of the covert.



CHAPTER LIV

IN A SAD PLIGHT


"How shall I get out of this parole? Or shall I break it, instead of
getting out? Which shall I think of first, my honour, or my country? The
safety of millions, or the pride of one? An old Roman would have settled
it very simply. But a Christian cannot do things so. Thank God there is
no hurry, for a few days yet! But I must send a letter to Desportes this
very night. Then I must consider about waiting for a week."

Scudamore, unable to think out his case as yet--especially after running
as if his wind could turn a vane--was sitting on the bank, to let the
river-bed get darker, before he put his legs into the mud to get across.
For the tide was out, and the old boat high and dry, and a very weak
water remained to be crossed (though, like nearly all things that are
weak, it was muddy), but the channel had a moist gleam in the dry spring
air, and anybody moving would be magnified afar. He felt that it would
never do for him, with such a secret, to be caught, and brought to book,
or even to awake suspicion of his having it. The ancient Roman of whom
he had thought would have broken parole for his country's sake, and then
fallen on his sword for his own sake; but although such behaviour should
be much admired, it is nicer to read of such things than to do them.
Captain Scuddy was of large and steady nature, and nothing came to him
with a jerk or jump--perhaps because he was such a jumper--and he wore
his hat well on the back of his head, because he had no fear of losing
it. But for all that he found himself in a sad quandary now.

To begin with, his parole was not an ordinary leave, afforded by his
captors to save themselves trouble; but a special grace, issuing from
friendship, and therefore requiring to be treated in a friendly vein.
The liberality of these terms had enabled him to dwell as a friend
among friends, and to overhear all that he had heard. In the balance
of perplexities, this weighed heavily against his first impulse to cast
away all except paramount duty to his country. In the next place, he
knew that private feeling urged him as hotly as public duty to cast away
all thought of honour, and make off. For what he had heard about the
"fair secretary" was rankling bitterly in his deep heart. He recalled
at this moment the admirable precept of an ancient sage, that in such
a conflict of duties the doubter should incline to the course least
agreeable to himself, inasmuch as the reasons against it are sure to be
urged the most feebly in self-council. Upon the whole, the question was
a nice one for a casuist; and if there had not been a day to spare, duty
to his country must have overridden private faith.

However, as there was time to spare, he resolved to reconcile private
honour with the sense of public duty; and returning to his room, wrote a
careful letter (of which he kept a copy) to his friend Desportes, now on
board, and commanding the flagship of one division of the flotilla. He
simply said, without giving his reason, that his parole must expire in
eight days after date, allowing one day for delivery of his letter.
Then he told M. Jalais what he had done, and much sorrow was felt in
the household. When the time had expired without any answer from Captain
Desportes, who meant to come and see him but was unable to do so,
Scudamore packed up a few things needful, expecting to be placed in
custody, and resolved to escape from it, at any risk of life. Then he
walked to Etaples, a few miles down the river, and surrendered himself
to the commandant there. This was a rough man--as Desportes had
said--and with more work to do than he could manage. With very little
ceremony he placed the English prisoner in charge of a veteran corporal,
with orders to take him to the lock-up in the barracks, and there await
further instructions. And then the commandant, in the hurry of his
duties, forgot all about him.

Captain Scuddy now found himself in quarters and under treatment very
trying to his philosophy. Not that the men who had him in charge were
purposely unkind to him, only they were careless about his comfort, and
having more important work to see to, fed him at their leisure, which
did not always coincide with his appetite. Much of his food was watery
and dirty, and seemed to be growing its own vegetables, and sometimes
to have overripened them. Therefore he began to lose substance, and his
cheeks became strangers to the buxom gloss which had been the delight of
Madame Fropot. But although they did not feed him well, they took good
care of him in other ways, affording no chance of exit.

But sour fruit often contains good pips. Scudamore's food was not worth
saying grace for, and yet a true blessing attended it: forasmuch as the
Frenchmen diminished the width of their prisoner, but not of the window.
Falling away very rapidly, for his mind was faring as badly as his body
(having nothing but regrets to feed upon, which are no better diet than
daisy soup), the gentle Scuddy, who must have become a good wrangler if
he had stopped at Cambridge, began to frame a table of cubic measure,
and consider the ratio of his body to that window, or rather the
aperture thereof. One night, when his supper had been quite forgotten
by everybody except himself, he lay awake thinking for hours and hours
about his fair Dolly and the wicked Carne, and all the lies he must have
told about her--for not a single syllable would Scudamore believe--and
the next day he found himself become so soft and limp, as well as
reduced to his lowest dimension, that he knew, by that just measure
which a man takes of himself when he has but a shred of it left, that
now he was small enough to go between the bars. And now it was high time
to feel that assurance, for the morning brought news that the order for
his removal to a great prison far inland was come, and would be carried
out the next day. "Now or never" was the only chance before him.

Having made up his mind, he felt refreshed, and took his food with
gratitude. Then, as soon as the night was dark and quiet, and the
mighty host for leagues and leagues launched into the realms of slumber,
springing with both feet well together, as he sprang from the tub at
Stonnington, Scuddy laid hold of the iron bars which spanned the window
vertically, opened the lattice softly, and peeped out in quest of
sentinels. There were none on duty very near him, though he heard one
pacing in the distance. Then flinging himself on his side, he managed,
with some pain to his well-rounded chest, to squeeze it through the
narrow slit, and hanging from the bar, dropped gently. The drop was
deep, and in spite of all precautions he rolled to the bottom of a
grassy ditch. There he lay quiet to rest his bruises, and watch whether
any alarm was raised. Luckily for him, the moon was down, and no one
had observed his venture. Crawling on all fours along a hollow place, he
passed the outposts, and was free.

Free in mind as well as body, acquitted from all claims of honour,
and able without a taint upon his name to bear most important news to
England, if he could only get away from France. This would be difficult,
as he was well aware; but his plan had been thoroughly considered in his
prison, and he set forth to make the best of it. Before his escape had
been discovered, he was under M. Jalais' roof once more, and found his
good friends resolved never to betray him. "But I must not expose you to
the risk," said he, "of heavy fine and imprisonment. I shall have to say
good-bye to all your goodness in an hour. And I shall not even allow
you to know what road I take, lest you should be blamed for sending my
pursuers on the wrong one. But search my room in three days' time, and
you will find a packet to pay for something which I must steal for the
present. I pray you, ask nothing, for your own sake."

They fed him well, and he took three loaves, and a little keg of cider,
as well as the bag he had packed before he surrendered himself at
Etaples. Madame Fropot wept and kissed him, because he reminded her of
her lost son; and M. Jalais embraced him, because he was not at all like
any son of his. With hearty good wishes, and sweet regret, and promises
never to forget them, the Englishman quitted this kind French house, and
became at once a lawful and a likely mark for bullets.

The year was now filled with the flurry of Spring, the quick nick of
time when a man is astonished at the power of Nature's memory. A
great many things had been left behind, mainly for their own good, no
doubt--some of the animal, some of the vegetable, some of the mineral
kingdom even--yet none of them started for anarchy. All were content to
be picked up and brought on according to the power of the world, making
allowance for the pinches of hard times, and the blows of east winds
that had blown themselves out. Even the prime grumbler of the earth--a
biped, who looks up to heaven for that purpose mainly--was as nearly
content with the present state of things as he can be with anything,
until it is the past. Scudamore only met one man, but that one declared
it was a lovely night; and perhaps he was easier to please because he
had only one leg left.

The stars had appeared, and the young leaves turned the freshness of
their freedom towards them, whether from the crisp impulse of night,
or the buoyant influence of kindness in the air. There was very little
wind, and it was laden with no sound, except the distant voice of
an indefatigable dog; but Scudamore perceived that when the tide set
downwards, a gentle breeze would follow down the funnel of the river.
Then he drew the ancient boat which he had used before to the mossy
bank, and having placed his goods on board, fetched a pair of oars and
the short mast and brown sail from the shed where they were kept, and
at the top of a full tide launched forth alone upon his desperate
enterprise.

There was faint light in the channel, but the banks looked very dark;
and just as he cast loose he heard the big clock at Montreuil, a great
way up the valley, slowly striking midnight. And he took it for good
omen, as he swiftly passed the orchard, that his old friend the ox
trotted down to the corner, and showed his white forehead under a
sprawling apple-tree, and gave him a salute, though he scarcely could
have known him. By this time the breeze was freshening nicely, and
Scudamore, ceasing to row, stepped the mast, and hoisting the brown
sail, glided along at a merry pace and with a hopeful heart. Passing the
mouth of the creek, he saw no sign of the traitorous pilot-boat, neither
did he meet any other craft in channel, although he saw many moored at
either bank. But nobody challenged him, as he kept in mid-stream, and
braced up his courage for the two great perils still before him ere he
gained the open sea. The first of these would be the outposts on either
side at Etaples, not far from the barracks where he had been jailed, and
here no doubt the sentinels would call him to account. But a far greater
danger would be near the river's mouth, where a bridge of boats, with a
broad gangway for troops, spanned the tidal opening.

There was no bridge across the river yet near the town itself, but,
upon challenge from a sentry, Scudamore stood up and waved his hat, and
shouted in fine nasal and provincial French, "The fisherman, Auguste
Baudry, of Montreuil!" and the man withdrew his musket, and wished him
good success. Then he passed a sandy island with some men asleep upon
it, and began to fear the daybreak as he neared the bridge of boats.
This crossed the estuary at a narrow part, and having to bear much
heavy traffic, was as solid as a floating bridge can be. A double row of
barges was lashed and chained together, between piles driven deep into
the river's bed; along them a road of heavy planks was laid, rising
and falling as they rose and fell with tide, and a drawbridge near the
middle of about eight yards' span must suffice for the traffic of the
little river. This fabric was protected from the heavy western surges
by the shoals of the bar, and from any English dash by a strong shore
battery at either end. At first sight it looked like a black wall across
the river.

The darkness of night is supposed to be deepest just before dawn--but
that depends upon the weather--and the sleep of weary men is often in
its prime at that time. Scudamore (although his life, and all that life
hangs on from heaven, were quivering at the puff of every breeze) was
enabled to derive some satisfaction from a yawn, such as goes the round
of a good company sometimes, like the smell of the supper of sleep
that is to come. Then he saw the dark line of the military bridge, and
lowered his sail, and unstepped his little mast. The strength of the
tide was almost spent, so that he could deal with this barrier at his
leisure, instead of being hurled against it.

Unshipping the rudder and laying one oar astern, Scudamore fetched along
the inner row of piles, for he durst not pass under the drawbridge,
steering his boat to an inch while he sat with his face to the oar,
working noiselessly. Then he spied a narrow opening between two barges,
and drove his boat under the chain that joined them, and after some
fending and groping with his hands in the darkness under the planks
of the bridge, contrived to get out, when he almost despaired of it,
through the lower tier of the supporters. He was quit of that formidable
barrier now, but a faint flush of dawn and of reflection from the sea
compelled him to be very crafty. Instead of pushing straightway for the
bar and hoisting sail--which might have brought a charge of grape-shot
after him--he kept in the gloom of the piles nearly into the left bank,
and then hugged the shadow it afforded. Nothing but the desolate sands
surveyed him, and the piles of wrack cast up by gales from the west.
Then with a stout heart he stepped his little mast, and the breeze,
which freshened towards the rising of the sun, carried him briskly
through the tumble of the bar.

The young man knelt and said his morning prayer, with one hand still
upon the tiller; for, like most men who have fought well for England,
he had staunch faith in the Power that has made and guides the nations,
until they rebel against it. So far his success had been more than his
own unaided hand might work, or his brain with the utmost of its labours
second. Of himself he cast all thoughts away, for his love seemed lost,
and his delight was gone; the shores of his country, if he ever reached
them, would contain no pleasure for him; but the happiness of millions
might depend upon his life, and first of all that of his mother.

All by himself in this frail old tub, he could scarcely hope to cross
the Channel, even in the best of weather, and if he should escape the
enemy, while his scanty supplies held out. He had nothing to subsist on
but three small loaves, and a little keg of cider, and an old tar tub
which he had filled with brackish water, upon which the oily curdle of
the tar was floating. But, for all that, he trusted that he might hold
out, and retain his wits long enough to do good service.

The French coast, trending here for leagues and leagues nearly due north
and south, is exposed to the long accumulating power of a western gale,
and the mountain roll of billows that have known no check. If even a
smart breeze from the west sprang up, his rickety little craft, intended
only for inland navigation, would have small chance of living through
the tumult. But his first care was to give a wide berth to the land and
the many French vessels that were moored or moving, whether belonging
to the great flotilla, or hastening to supply its wants. Many a time he
would have stood forth boldly, as fast as the breeze and tide permitted;
but no sooner had he shaped a course for the open sea than some hostile
sail appeared ahead and forced him to bear away until she was far
onward. Thus, after a long day of vigilance and care, he was not more
than five miles from land when the sun set, and probably further from
the English coast than when he set forth in the morning; because he had
stood towards the south of west all day, to keep out of sight of the
left wing of the enemy; and as the straight outline of the coast began
to fade, he supposed himself to be about half-way between the mouth of
the Canche and that of the little Authie.

Watching with the eyes of one accustomed to the air the last
communication of the sun, and his postscript (which, like a lady's, is
the gist of what he means), Scudamore perceived that a change of weather
might come shortly, and must come ere long. There was nothing very
angry in the sky, nor even threatening; only a general uncertainty
and wavering; "I wish you well all round," instead of "Here's a guinea
apiece for you." Scuddy understood it, and resolved to carry on.

Having no compass, and small knowledge of the coast--which lay out of
range of the British investment--he had made up his mind to lie by for
the night, or at any rate to move no more than he could help, for
fear of going altogether in the wrong direction. He could steer by the
stars--as great mariners did, when the world was all discovery--so long
as the stars held their skirts up; but, on the other hand, those stars
might lead him into the thick of the enemy. Of this, however, he must
now take his chance, rather than wait and let the wind turn against him.
For his main hope was to get into the track where British frigates,
and ships of light draught like his own dear Blonde, were upon patrol,
inside of the course of the great war chariots, the ships of the line,
that drave heavily. Revolving much grist in the mill of his mind, as
the sage Ulysses used to do, he found it essential to supply the motive
power bodily. One of Madame Fropot's loaves was very soon disposed of,
and a good draught of sound cider helped to renew his flagging energy.

Throughout that night he kept wide-awake, and managed to make fair
progress, steering, as well as he could judge, a little to the west of
north. But before sunrise the arrears of sleep increased at compound
interest, and he lowered his sail, and discharged a part of the heavy
sum scored against him. But when he awoke, and glanced around him with
eyes that resented scanty measure, even a sleepy glance sufficed to show
much more than he wished to see. Both sky and sea were overcast with
doubt, and alarm, and evil foreboding. A dim streak lay where the land
had been, and a white gleam quivered from the sunrise on the waves, as
if he were spreading water-lilies instead of scattering roses. As the
earth has its dew that foretells a bright day--whenever the dew is of
the proper sort, for three kinds are established now--so the sea has a
flit of bloom in the early morning (neither a colour, nor a sparkle, nor
a vapour) which indicates peace and content for the day. But now there
was no such fair token upon it, but a heavy and surly and treacherous
look, with lumps here and there; as a man who intends to abuse us
thrusts his tongue to get sharp in his cheek.

Scudamore saw that his poor old boat, scarcely sound enough for the men
of Gotham, was already complaining of the uncouth manners of the strange
place to which she had been carried in the dark. That is to say, she
was beginning to groan, at a very quiet slap in the cheeks, or even a
thoroughly well-meaning push in the rear.

"You are welcome to groan, if you don't strain," exclaimed the heartless
Captain Scuddy.

Even as he spoke he beheld a trickle of water glistening down the
forward bends, and then a little rill, and then a spurt, as if a serious
leak was sprung. He found the source of this, and contrived to caulk
it with a strand of tarred rope for the present; but the sinking of his
knife into the forward timber showed him that a great part of the bows
was rotten. If a head-sea arose, the crazy old frame would be prone to
break in bodily, whereas if he attempted to run before the sea, already
beginning to rise heavily from the west, there was nothing to save the
frail craft from being pooped. On every side it was a bad lookout, there
was every sign of a gale impending, which he could not even hope to
weather, and the only chance of rescue lay in the prompt appearance of
some British ship.

Even in this sad plight his courage and love of native land prevailed
against the acceptance of aid from Frenchmen, if any should approach
to offer it. Rather would he lie at the bottom of the Channel, or drift
about among contending fishes, than become again a prisoner with his
secret in his mind, and no chance of sending it to save his country. As
a forlorn hope, he pulled out a stump of pencil, and wrote on the back
of a letter from his mother a brief memorandum of what he had heard, and
of the urgency of the matter. Then taking a last draught of his tarry
water, he emptied the little tub, and fixed the head in, after he had
enclosed his letter. Then he fastened the tub to an oar, to improve the
chance of its being observed, and laid the oar so that it would float
off, in case of the frail boat foundering. The other oar he kept at
hand to steer with, as long as the boat should live, and to help him to
float, when she should have disappeared.

This being done, he felt easier in his mind, as a man who has prepared
for the worst should do. He renewed his vigour, which had begun to flag
under constant labour and long solitude, by consuming another of his
loaves, and taking almost the last draught of his cider, and after
that he battled throughout the dreary day against the increase of bad
weather. Towards the afternoon he saw several ships, one of which he
took to be a British frigate; but none of them espied his poor labouring
craft, or at any rate showed signs of doing so. Then a pilot-boat ran by
him, standing probably for Boulogne, and at one time less than a league
away. She appeared to be English, and he was just about to make signal
for aid, when a patch in her foresail almost convinced him that she was
the traitor of the Canche returning. She was probably out of her proper
course in order to avoid the investing fleet, and she would run inside
it when the darkness fell. Better to go to the bottom than invoke such
aid; and he dropped the oar with his neckerchief upon it, and faced the
angry sea again and the lonely despair of impending night.

What followed was wiped from his memory for years, and the loss was not
much to be regretted. When he tried to think about it, he found nothing
but a roaring of wind and of waves in his ears, a numbness of arms as he
laboured with the oar tholed abaft to keep her heavy head up, a prickly
chill in his legs as the brine in the wallowing boat ran up them, and
then a great wallop and gollop of the element too abundant round him.

But at last, when long years should have brought more wisdom, he went
poaching for supper upon Welsh rabbits. That night all the ghastly time
came back, and stood minute by minute before him. Every swing of his
body, and sway of his head, and swell of his heart, was repeated, the
buffet of the billows when the planks were gone, the numb grasp of
the slippery oar, the sucking down of legs which seemed turning into
sea-weed, the dashing of dollops of surf into mouth and nose closed ever
so carefully, and then the last sense of having fought a good fight, but
fallen away from human arms, into "Oh Lord, receive my spirit!"



CHAPTER LV

IN SAVAGE GUISE


"A man came out of the sea to-day, and made me believe we were all found
out," said the gay Charron to the gloomy Carne, a day or two after poor
Scudamore's wreck. "I never beheld a more strange-looking creature as
the owner of our human face divine, as some of your poets have found
to say. He has hair from his head all down to here"--the little Captain
pointed to a part of his system which would have been larger in more
tranquil times--"and his clothes were so thin that one was able to see
through them, and the tint of his face was of roasted sugar, such as it
is not to obtain in England. A fine place for fat things, but not for
thin ones."

"My friend, you arouse my curiosity," the master of the feast, which was
not a very fat one, answered, as he lazily crossed his long legs; "you
are always apprehensive about detection, of which I have ceased to
entertain all fear, during the short time that remains. This stranger of
yours must have been very wet, if he had just appeared out of the sea.
Was it that which made his clothes transparent, like those of the higher
class of ladies?"

"You have not the right understanding of words. He was appeared out of
the sea, but the wood of a boat was spread between them. He was as dry
as I am; and that is saying much, with nothing but this squeezing of bad
apples for to drink."

"Ah, we shall have better soon. What an impatient throat it is! Well,
what became of this transparent man, made of burnt sugar, and with hair
below his belt?"

"I tell you that you take it in a very different way. But he was a long
man, as long almost as you are, and with much less of indolence in the
moving of his legs. It was not sincerely wise for me to exhibit myself,
in the land. I was watching for a signal from the sea, and a large ship,
not of the navy but of merchants, was hanging off about a league and
delaying for her boat. For this reason I prevented him from seeing me,
and that created difficulty of my beholding him. But he was going along
the basin of the sea towards Springhaven--'Springport' it is designated
by the Little Corporal; ah ha, how the language of the English comes
left to him!"

"And how right it comes to you, my friend, through your fine self-denial
in speaking it with me! It is well for our cause that it is not
sincerely wise for you to exhibit yourself in the land, or we should
have you making sweet eyes at English young ladies, and settling down
to roast beef and nut-brown ale. Fie, then, my friend! where is your
patriotism?"

"These English young ladies," said the Frenchman, unabashed, "are very
fine, in my opinion--very fine indeed; and they could be made to dress,
which is sincerely an external thing. By occasion, I have seen the very
most belle, and charming and adorable of all the creatures ever made by
the good God. And if she was to say to me, 'Abandon France, my Captain,
and become my good husband'--and she has the money also--the fair France
would go to the bottom, and the good ship Charron hoist the Union-jack."

"This becomes serious:" Carne had long learned to treat his French
colleague with a large contempt: "I shall have to confine you in the
Yellow Jar, my friend. But what young lady has bewitched you so, and led
your most powerful mind astray?"

"I will tell you. I will make no secret of it. You have none of those
lofty feelings, but you will be able in another to comprehend them. It
is the daughter of the Coast-Defender--Admiral Charles Sir Darling."

"Admiral Darling has two daughters. Which of them has the distinguished
honour of winning the regard of Captain Charron?"

"If there are two, it is so much more better. If I succeed not with one,
I will try with the other. But the one who has made me captive for the
present is the lady with the dark hair done up like this."

In a moment Charron had put up his hair, which was thick but short, into
a double sheaf; and Carne knew at once that it was Faith whose charms
had made havoc of the patriotism of his colleague. Then he smiled and
said, "My friend, that is the elder daughter."

"I have some knowledge of the laws of England," the Frenchman continued,
complacently; "the elder will have the most money, and I am not rich,
though I am courageous. In the confusion that ensues I shall have the
very best chance of commending myself; and I confide in your honourable
feeling to give me the push forward by occasion. Say, is it well
conceived, my friend? We never shall conquer these Englishmen, but we
may be triumphant with their ladies."

"It is a most excellent scheme of invasion," Carne answered, with his
slow sarcastic smile, "and you may rely on me for what you call the push
forward, if a Frenchman ever needs it with a lady. But I wish to hear
more about that brown man."

"I can tell you no more. But the matter is strange. Perhaps he was
visiting the fat Captain Stoobar. I feel no solicitude concerning him
with my angel. She would never look twice at such a savage."

But the gallant French Captain missed the mark this time. The
strange-looking man with the long brown beard quitted the shore before
he reached the stepping-stones, and making a short-cut across the
rabbit-warren, entered the cottage of Zebedee Tugwell, without even
stopping to knock at the door. The master was away, and so were all the
children; but stout Mrs. Tugwell, with her back to the door, was tending
the pot that hung over the fire. At the sound of a footstep she turned
round, and her red face grew whiter than the ashes she was stirring.

"Oh, Mr. Erle, is it you, or your ghostie?" she cried, as she fell
against the door of the brick oven. "Do 'e speak, for God's sake, if He
have given the power to 'e."

"He has almost taken it away again, so far as the English language
goes," Erle Twemlow answered, with a smile which was visible only in his
eyes, through long want of a razor; "but I am picking up a little.
Shake hands, Kezia, and then you will know me. Though I have not quite
recovered that art as yet."

"Oh, Mr. Erle!" exclaimed Zebedee's wife, with tears ready to start for
his sake and her own, "how many a time I've had you on my knees, afore
I was blessed with any of my own, and a bad sort of blessing the best of
'em proves. Not that I would listen to a word again' him. I suppose you
never did happen to run again' my Dan'el, in any of they furrin parts,
from the way they makes the hair grow. I did hear tell of him over to
Pebbleridge; but not likely, so nigh to his own mother, and never come
no nigher. And if they furrin parts puts on the hair so heavily, who
could 'a known him to Pebbleridge? They never was like we be. They'd as
lief tell a lie as look at you, over there."

In spite of his own long years of trouble, or perhaps by reason of them,
Erle Twemlow, eager as he was to get on, listened to the sad tale that
sought for his advice, and departed from wisdom--as good-nature always
does--by offering useless counsel--counsel that could not be taken, and
yet was far from being worthless, because it stirred anew the fount of
hope, towards which the parched affections creep.

"But Lor bless me, sir, I never thought of you!" Mrs. Tugwell exclaimed,
having thought out her self. "What did Parson say, and your mother, and
Miss Faith? It must 'a been better than a play to see them."

"Not one of them knows a word about it yet; nor anybody in Springhaven,
except you, Kezia. You were as good as my nurse, you know; I have never
had a chance of writing to them, and I want you to help me to let them
know it slowly."

"Oh, Mr. Erle, what a lovely young woman your Miss Faith is grown up by
now! Some thinks more of Miss Dolly, but, to my mind, you may as well
put a mackerel before a salmon, for the sake of the stripes and the
glittering. Now what can I do to make you decent, sir, for them duds
and that hair is barbarious? My Tabby and Debby will be back in half an
hour, and them growing up into young maidens now."

Twemlow explained that after living so long among savages in a burning
clime, he had found it impossible to wear thick clothes, and had been
rigged up in some Indian stuff by the tailor of the ship which had
rescued him. But now he supposed he must reconcile himself by degrees to
the old imprisonment. But as for his hair, that should never be touched,
unless he was restored to the British Army, and obliged to do as the
others did. With many little jokes of a homely order, Mrs. Tugwell,
regarding him still as a child, supplied him with her husband's summer
suit of thin duck, which was ample enough not to gall him; and then she
sent her daughters with a note to the Rector, begging him to come at
seven o'clock to meet a gentleman who wished to see him upon important
business, near the plank bridge across the little river. Erle wrote that
note, but did not sign it; and after many years of happy freedom from
the pen, his handwriting was so changed that his own father would not
know it. What he feared was the sudden shock to his good mother; his
father's nerves were strong, and must be used as buffers.

"Another trouble, probably; there is nothing now but trouble," Mr.
Twemlow was thinking, as he walked unwillingly towards the place
appointed. "I wish I could only guess what I can have done to deserve
all these trials, as I become less fit to bear them. I would never
have come to this lonely spot, except that it may be about Shargeloes.
Everything now is turned upside down; but the Lord knows best, and I
must bear it. Sir, who are you? And what do you want me for?"

At the corner where Miss Dolly had rushed into the Rector's open arms so
fast, a tall man, clad in white, was standing, with a staff about
eight feet long in his hand. Having carried a spear for four years now,
Captain Twemlow found no comfort in his native land until he had cut the
tallest growth in Admiral Darling's osier bed, and peeled it, and shaved
it to a seven-sided taper. He rested this point in a socket of moss,
that it might not be blunted, and then replied:

"Father, you ought to know me, although you have grown much stouter in
my absence; and perhaps I am thinner than I used to be. But the climate
disagreed with me, until I got to like it."

"Erle! Do you mean to say you are my boy Erle?" The Rector was
particular about his clothes. "Don't think of touching me. You are hair
all over, and I dare say never had a comb. I won't believe a word of it
until you prove it."

"Well, mother will know me, if you don't." The young man answered
calmly, having been tossed upon so many horns of adventure that none
could make a hole in him. "I thought that you would have been glad to
see me; and I managed to bring a good many presents; only they are
gone on to London. They could not be got at, to land them with me; but
Captain Southcombe will be sure to send them. You must not suppose,
because I am empty-handed now--"

"My dear son," cried the father, deeply hurt, "do you think that your
welcome depends upon presents? You have indeed fallen into savage ways.
Come, and let me examine you through your hair; though the light is
scarcely strong enough now to go through it. To think that you should be
my own Erle, alive after such a time, and with such a lot of hair! Only,
if there is any palm-oil on it--this is my last new coat but one."

"No, father, nothing that you ever can have dreamed of. Something that
will make you a bishop, if you like, and me a member of the House
of Lords. But I did not find it out myself--which makes success more
certain."

"They have taught you some great truths, my dear boy. The man who begins
a thing never gets on. But I am so astonished that I know not what I
say. I ought to have thanked the Lord long ago. Have you got a place
without any hair upon it large enough for me to kiss you?"

Erle Twemlow, whose hand in spite of all adventures trembled a little
upon his spear, lifted his hat and found a smooth front, sure to be all
the smoother for a father's kiss.

"Let us go home," said the old man, trying to exclude all excitement
from his throat and heart; "but you must stay outside until I come to
fetch you. I feel a little anxious, my dear boy, as to how your dear
mother will get over it. She has never been strong since the bad news
came about you. And somebody else has to be considered. But that must
stand over till to-morrow."



CHAPTER LVI

THE SILVER VOICE


Many shrewd writers have observed that Britannia has a special
luck--which the more devout call Providence--in holding her own, against
not only her true and lawful enemies, but even those of her own bosom
who labour most to ruin her. And truly she had need of all her fortune
now, to save her from the skulking traitor, as well as the raging
adversary.

"Now I will have my revenge," said Carne, "on all who have outraged and
plundered me. Crows--carrion-crows--I will turn them into owls without
a nest. Prowling owls, to come blinking even now at the last of my poor
relics! Charron, what did that fellow say to old Jerry, the day I tied
the dogs up?"

"He said, my dear friend, that he missed from the paintings which he had
taken to his house the most precious of them all--the picture of your
dear grandmother, by a man whose name it is hard to pronounce, but a
Captain in the British Army, very much fond of beloving and painting
all the most beautiful ladies; and since he had painted the mother of
Vash--Vash--the man that conquered England in America--all his work was
gone up to a wonderful price, and old Sheray should have one guinea if
he would exhibit to him where to find it. Meedle or Beedle--he had set
his heart on getting it. He declared by the good God that he would have
it, and that you had got it under a tombstone."

"A sample of their persecutions! You know that I have never seen it,
nor even heard of the Captain Middleton who went on his rovings from
Springhaven. And, again, about my own front-door, or rather the door of
my family for some four centuries, because it was carved as they cannot
carve now, it was put into that vile Indenture. I care very little for
my ancestors--benighted Britons of the county type--but these things are
personal insults to me. I seldom talk about them, and I will not do so
now."

"My Captain, you should talk much about it. That would be the good
relief to your extensive mind. Revenge is not of the bright French
nature; but the sky of this island procreates it. My faith! how I would
rage at England, if it were not for the people, and their daughters! We
shall see; in a few days more we shall astonish the fat John Bull; and
then his little kittens--what do you call them?--calves of an ox, will
come running to us."

"Enough of your foolish talk," said Carne. "The women are as resolute as
the men. Even when we have taken London, not an English woman will come
near us, until all the men have yielded. Go down to your station and
watch for the boat. I expect an important despatch to-night. But I
cannot stay here for the chance of it. I have business in Springhaven."

His business in Springhaven was to turn young love to the basest use, to
make a maiden (rash and flighty, but not as yet dishonourable) a traitor
to her friends and father-land, and most of all to her own father. He
had tried to poison Dolly's mind with doses of social nonsense--in which
he believed about as much as a quack believes in his own pills--but his
main reliance now was placed in his hold upon her romantic heart, and in
her vague ambitions. Pure and faithful love was not to be expected from
his nature; but he had invested in Dolly all the affection he could
spare from self. He had laboured long, and suffered much, and the red
crown of his work was nigh.

Riding slowly down the hill about half a mile from the village, Carne
saw a tall man coming towards him with a firm, deliberate walk. The
stranger was dressed very lightly, and wore a hat that looked like a
tobacco leaf, and carried a long wand in his hand, as if he were going
to keep order in church. These things took the eye afar, but at shorter
range became as nothing, compared with the aspect of the man himself.
This was grand, with its steadfast gaze--no stare, but a calm and kind
regard--its large tranquillity and power of receiving without believing
the words of men; and most of all in the depth of expression reserved by
experience in the forest of its hair.

Carne was about to pass in silent wonder and uneasiness, but the other
gently laid the rod across his breast and stopped him, and then waited
for him to ask the reason why.

"Have you any business with me, good sir?" Carne would have spoken
rudely, but saw that rudeness would leave no mark upon a man like this.
"If so, I must ask you to be quick. And perhaps you will tell me who you
are."

"I think that you are Caryl Carne," said the stranger, not unpleasantly,
but as if it mattered very little who was Caryl Carne, or whether there
was any such existence.

Carne stared fiercely, for he was of touchy temper; but he might as
well have stared at a bucket of water in the hope of deranging its
tranquillity. "You know me. But I don't know you," he answered at last,
with a jerk of his reins.

"Be in no hurry," said the other, mildly; "the weather is fine, and time
plentiful. I hope to have much pleasant knowledge of you. I have the
honour to be your first cousin, Erle Twemlow. Shake hands with your
kinsman."

Carne offered his hand, but without his usual grace and self-possession.
Twemlow took it in his broad brown palm, in which it seemed to melt
away, firm though it was and muscular.

"I was going up to call on you," said Twemlow, who had acquired a
habit of speaking as if he meant all the world to hear. "I feel a deep
interest in your fortunes, and hope to improve them enormously. You
shall hear all about it when I come up. I have passed four years in the
wilds of Africa, where no white man ever trod before, and I have found
out things no white man knows. We call those people savages, but they
know a great deal more than we do. Shall I call to-morrow, and have a
long talk?"

"I fear," replied Carne, who was cursing his luck for bringing this
fellow home just now, "that I shall have no time for a week or two. I
am engaged upon important business now, which will occupy my whole
attention. Let me see! You are staying at the rectory, I suppose. The
best plan will be for me to let you know when I can afford the pleasure
of receiving you. In a fortnight, or three weeks at the latest--"

"Very well. I am never in a hurry. And I want to go to London to see
about my things. But I dare say you will not object to my roving about
the old castle now and then. I loved the old place as a boy, and I know
every crick and cranny and snake-hole in it."

"How glad they must have been to see you--restored from the dead,
and with such rich discoveries! But you must be more careful, my good
cousin, and create no more anxiety. Glad as I shall be to see you,
when time allows that indulgence, I must not encourage you to further
rovings, which might end in your final disappearance. Two boar-hounds,
exceedingly fierce and strong, and compelled by my straitened
circumstances to pick up their own living, are at large on my premises
night and day, to remonstrate with my creditors. We fear that they ate
a man last night, who had stolen a valuable picture, and was eager for
another by the same distinguished artist. His boots and hat were found
unhurt; but of his clothes not a shred remained, to afford any
pattern for enquiry. What would my feelings be if Aunt Maria arrived
hysterically in the pony-carriage, and at great personal risk
enquired--"

"I fear no dogs," said Erle Twemlow, without any flash of anger in his
steadfast eyes. "I can bring any dog to lick my feet. But I fear any man
who sinks lower than a dog, by obtaining a voice and speaking lies with
it. If you wish, for some reason of your own, to have nought to do with
me, you should have said so; and I might have respected you afterwards.
But flimsy excuses and trumpery lies belong to the lowest race of
savages, who live near the coast, and have been taught by Frenchmen."

Erle Twemlow stood, as he left off speaking, just before the shoulder
of Carne's horse, ready to receive a blow, if offered, but without
preparation for returning it. But Carne, for many good reasons--which
occurred to his mind long afterwards--controlled his fury, and consoled
his self-respect by repaying in kind the contempt he received.

"Well done, Mr. Savage!" he said, with a violent effort to look amiable.
"You and I are accustomed to the opposite extremes of society, and the
less we meet, the better. When a barbarian insults me, I take it as a
foul word from a clodhopper, which does not hurt me, but may damage his
own self-respect, if he cherishes such an illusion. Perhaps you will
allow me to ride on, while you curb your very natural curiosity about a
civilized gentleman."

Twemlow made no answer, but looked at him with a gentle pity, which
infuriated Carne more than the keenest insult. He lashed his horse, and
galloped down the hill, while his cousin stroked his beard, and looked
after him with sorrow.

"Everything goes against me now," thought Caryl Carne, while he put up
his horse and set off for the Admiral's Roundhouse. "I want to be cool
as a cucumber, and that insolent villain has made pepper of me. What
devil sent him here at such a time?"

For the moment it did not cross his mind that this man of lofty rudeness
was the long-expected lover of Faith Darling, and therefore in some
sort entitled to a voice about the doings of the younger sister. By many
quiet sneers, and much expressive silence, he had set the brisk Dolly
up against the quiet Faith, as a man who understands fowl nature can set
even two young pullets pulling each other's hackles out.

"So you are come at last!" said Dolly. "No one who knows me keeps me
waiting, because I am not accustomed to it. I expect to be called for at
any moment, by matters of real importance--not like this."

"Your mind is a little disturbed," replied Carne, as he took her hand
and kissed it, with less than the proper rapture; "is it because of the
brown and hairy man just returned from Africa?"

"Not altogether. But that may be something. He is not a man to be
laughed at. I wish you could have seen my sister."

"I would rather see you; and I have no love of savages. He is my first
cousin, and that affords me a domestic right to object to him. As a
brother-in-law I will have none of him."

"You forget," answered Dolly, with a flash of her old spirit, which he
was subduing too heavily, "that a matter of that sort depends upon us,
and our father, and not upon the gentlemen. If the gentlemen don't like
it, they can always go away."

"How can they go, when they are chained up like a dog? Women may wander
from this one to that, because they have nothing to bind them; but a man
is of steadfast material."

"Erle Twemlow is, at any rate--though it is hard to see his material
through his hair; but that must come off, and I mean to do it. He is the
best-natured man I have ever yet known, except one; and that one had got
nothing to shave. Men never seem to understand about their hair, and
the interest we feel concerning it. But it does not matter very much,
compared to their higher principles."

"That is where I carry every vote, of whatever sex you please"--Carne
saw that this girl must be humoured for the moment. "Anybody can see
what I am. Straightforward, and ready to show my teeth. Why should an
honest man live in a bush?"

"Faith likes it very much; though she always used to say that it did
seem so unchristian. Could you manage to come and meet him, Caryl? We
shall have a little dinner on Saturday, I believe, that every one may
see Erle Twemlow. His beloved parents will be there, who are gone quite
wild about him. Father will be at home for once; and the Marquis of
Southdown, and some officers, and Captain Stubbard and his wife will
come, and perhaps my brother Frank, who admires you so much. You shall
have an invitation in the morning."

"Such delights are not for me," Carne answered, with a superior smile;
"unhappily my time is too important. But perhaps these festivities will
favour me with the chance of a few words with my darling. How I long to
see her, and how little chance I get!"

"Because, when you get it, you spend three-quarters of the time in
arguing, and the rest in finding fault. I am sure I go as far as anybody
can; and I won't take you into my father's Roundhouse, because I don't
think it would be proper."

"Ladies alone understand such subjects; and a gentleman is thankful
that they do. I am quite content to be outside the Roundhouse--so called
because it is square, perhaps--though the wind is gone back to the east
again, as it always does now in an English summer, according to a man
who has studied the subject--Zebedee Tugwell, the captain of the fleet.
Dolly, beloved, and most worthy to be more so, clear your bright mind
from all false impressions, whose only merit is that they are yours, and
allow it to look clearly at a matter of plain sense."

She was pleased to have compliments paid to her mind, even more than to
her body--because there was no doubt about the merits of the latter--and
she said: "That is very nice. Go on."

"Well, beauty, you know that I trust you in everything, because of your
very keen discretion, and freedom from stupid little prejudice. I have
been surprised at times, when I thought of it in your absence, that
any one so young, who has never been through any course of political
economy, should be able to take such a clear view of subjects which are
far beyond the intellect of even the oldest ladies. But it must be your
brother; no doubt he has helped you to--"

"Not he!" cried the innocent Dolly, with fine pride; "I rather look down
upon his reasoning powers; though I never could make such a pretty
tink of rhymes--like the bells of the sheep when the ground is full of
turnips."

"He approves of your elevated views," said Carne, looking as grave as a
crow at a church clock; "they may not have come from him, because they
are your own, quite as much as his poetry is his. But he perceives their
truth, and he knows that they must prevail. In a year or two we shall be
wondering, sweet Dolly, when you and I sit side by side, as the
stupid old King and Queen do now, that it ever has been possible for
narrow-minded nonsense to prevail as it did until we rose above it. We
shall be admired as the benefactors, not of this country only, but of
the whole world."

Miss Dolly was fairly endowed with common-sense, but often failed to
use it. She would fain have said now, "That sounds wonderfully fine; but
what does it mean, and how are we to work it?" But unluckily she
could not bring herself to say it. And when millions are fooled by the
glibness of one man--even in these days of wisdom--who can be surprised
at a young maid's weakness?

"You wish me to help you in some way," she said; "your object is sure to
be good; and you trust me in everything, because of my discretion. Then
why not tell me everything?"

"You know everything," Carne replied, with a smile of affection and
sweet reproach. "My object is the largest that a man can have; and
until I saw you, there was not the least taint of self-interest in my
proceedings. But now it is not for the universe alone, for the grandeur
of humanity, and the triumph of peace, that I have to strive, but also
for another little somebody, who has come--I am ashamed to say--to
outweigh all the rest in the balance of my too tender heart."

This was so good, and so well delivered, that the lady of such love
could do no less than vouchsafe a soft hand and a softer glance, instead
of pursuing hard reason.

"Beauty, it is plain enough to you, though it might not be so to stupid
people," Carne continued, as he pressed her hand, and vanquished the
doubt of her enquiring eyes with the strength of his resolute gaze,
"that bold measures are sometimes the only wise ones. Many English girls
would stand aghast to hear that it was needful for the good of England
that a certain number, a strictly limited number, of Frenchmen should
land upon this coast."

"I should rather think they would!" cried Dolly; "and I would be one of
them--you may be quite sure of that."

"For a moment you might, until you came to understand." Carne's voice
always took a silver tone when his words were big with roguery; as
the man who is touting for his neighbour's bees strikes the frying-pan
softly at first, to tone the pulsations of the murmuring mob. "But
every safeguard and every guarantee that can be demanded by the wildest
prudence will be afforded before a step is taken. In plain truth, a
large mind is almost shocked at such deference to antique prejudice.
But the feelings of old women must be considered; and our measures are
fenced with such securities that even the most timid must be satisfied.
There must be a nominal landing, of course, of a strictly limited
number, and they must be secured for a measurable period from any
ill-judged interruption. But the great point of all is to have no
blood-guiltiness, no outbreak of fanatic natives against benefactors
coming in the garb of peace. A truly noble offer of the olive-branch
must not be misinterpreted. It is the finest idea that has ever been
conceived; and no one possessing a liberal mind can help admiring the
perfection of this plan. For the sake of this country, and the world,
and ourselves, we must contribute our little share, darling."

Carne, with the grace of a lofty protector, as well as the face of
an ardent lover, drew the bewildered maiden towards him, and tenderly
kissed her pretty forehead, holding up his hand against all protest.

"It is useless to dream of drawing back," he continued; "my beauty,
and my poor outcast self, are in the same boat, and must sail on to
success--such success as there never has been before, because it will
bless the whole world, as well as secure our own perfect happiness. You
will be more than the Queen of England. Statues of you will be set up
everywhere; and where could the sculptors find such another model? I may
count upon your steadfast heart, I know, and your wonderful quickness of
perception."

"Yes, if I could only see that everything was right. But I feel that I
ought to consult somebody of more experience in such things. My father,
for instance, or my brother Frank, or even Mr. Twemlow, or perhaps
Captain Stubbard."

"If you had thought of it a little sooner, and allowed me time to reason
with them," Carne replied, with a candid smile, "that would have been
the very thing I should have wished, as taking a great responsibility
from me. But alas, it would be fatal now. The main object now is to
remove all chance of an ill-judged conflict, which would ruin all good
feeling, and cost many valuable lives, perhaps even that of your truly
gallant father. No, my Dolly, you must not open your beautiful lips to
any one. The peace and happiness of the world depend entirely upon your
discretion. All will be arranged to a nicety, and a happy result is
certain. Only I must see you, about some small points, as well as to
satisfy my own craving. On Saturday you have that dinner party, when
somebody will sit by your side instead of me. How miserably jealous I
shall be! When the gentlemen are at their wine, you must console me by
slipping away from the ladies, and coming to the window of the little
room where your father keeps his papers. I shall quit everything and
watch there for you among the shrubs, when it grows dark enough."



CHAPTER LVII

BELOW THE LINE


Of the British Admirals then on duty, Collingwood alone, so far as now
appears, had any suspicion of Napoleon's real plan.

"I have always had an idea that Ireland alone was the object they have
in view," he wrote in July, 1805, "and still believe that to be their
ultimate destination--that they [i. e., the Toulon fleet] will now
liberate the Ferrol squadron from Calder, make the round of the bay, and
taking the Rochefort people with them, appear off Ushant, perhaps
with 34 sail, there to be joined by 20 more. Cornwallis collecting his
out-squadrons may have 30 and upwards. This appears to be a probable
plan; for unless it is to bring their great fleets and armies to some
point of service--some rash attempt at conquest--they have been only
subjecting them to chance of loss; which I do not believe the Corsican
would do, without the hope of an adequate reward. This summer is big
with events."

This was written to Lord Nelson upon his return to Europe, after chasing
that Toulon fleet to the West Indies and back again. And a day or
two later, the same Vice-Admiral wrote to his friend very clearly, as
before:

"Truly glad will I be to see you, and to give you my best opinion on the
present state of affairs, which are in the highest degree intricate. But
reasoning on the policy of the present French government, who never aim
at little things while great objects are in view, I have considered the
invasion of Ireland as the real mark and butt of all their operations.
The flight to the West Indies was to take off the naval force, which
is the great impediment to their undertaking. The Rochefort squadron's
return confirmed me. I think they will now collect their force at
Ferrol--which Calder tells me are in motion--pick up those at Rochefort,
who, I am told, are equally ready, and will make them above thirty sail;
and then, without going near Ushant or the Channel fleet, proceed to
Ireland. Detachments must go from the Channel fleet to succour Ireland,
when the Brest fleet--21 I believe of them--will sail, either to another
part of Ireland, or up the Channel--a sort of force that has not been
seen in those seas, perhaps ever."

Lord Nelson just lately had suffered so much from the disadvantage of
not "following his own head, and so being much more correct in judgment
than following the opinion of others," that his head was not at all in
a receptive state; and like all who have doubted about being right,
and found the doubt wrong, he was hardened into the merits of his own
conclusion. "Why have I gone on a goose-chase?" he asked; "because I
have twice as many ears as eyes."

This being so, he stuck fast to the conviction which he had nourished
all along, that the scheme of invasion was a sham, intended to keep the
British fleet at home, while the enemy ravaged our commerce and colonies
afar. And by this time the country, grown heartily tired of groundless
alarms and suspended menace, was beginning to view with contempt a camp
that was wearing out its own encampment. Little was it dreamed in the
sweet rose gardens of England, or the fragrant hay-fields, that the curl
of blue smoke while the dinner was cooking, the call of milkmaids, the
haymaker's laugh, or the whinny of Dobbin between his mouthfuls, might
be turned (ere a man of good appetite was full) into foreign shouts, and
shriek of English maiden, crackling homestead, and blazing stack-yard,
blare of trumpets, and roar of artillery, cold flash of steel, and the
soft warm trickle of a father's or a husband's blood.

But the chance of this hung upon a hair just now. One hundred and sixty
thousand soldiers--the finest sons of Mars that demon has ever yet
begotten--fifteen thousand warlike horses, ready to devour all the oats
of England, cannons that never could be counted (because it was not
always safe to go near them), and ships that no reckoner could get to
the end of, because he was always beginning again.

Who was there now to meet all these? Admiral Darling, and Captain
Stubbard, and Zebedee Tugwell (if he found them intrusive), and Erle
Twemlow, as soon as he got his things from London. There might be a few
more to come forward, as soon as they saw the necessity; but Mr. John
Prater could not be relied on--because of the trade he might expect
to drive; Mr. Shargeloes had never turned up again; and as for poor
Cheeseman, he had lost himself so entirely now that he made up the
weight of a pound of sausages, in the broad summer light, with a tallow
candle. Like others concerned in this history, he had jumped at the
stars, and cracked his head against a beam, in manner to be recorded.

The country being destitute thus of defenders--for even Stubbard's
battery was not half manned, because it had never been wanted--the plan
of invasion was thriving well, in all but one particular. The fleet
under Villeneuve was at large, so was that under Lallemand, who had
superseded Missiessy, so was the force of Gravina and another Spanish
admiral; but Ganteaume had failed to elude the vigilance of that hero of
storms, Cornwallis. Napoleon arrived at Boulogne on the 3rd of August,
and reviewed his troops, in a line on the beach some eight miles long.
A finer sight he had never seen, and he wrote in his pride: "The English
know not what is hanging over their ears. If we are masters of the
passage for twelve hours, England is conquered." But all depended on
Villeneuve, and happily he could not depend upon his nerves.

Meanwhile the young man who was charged with a message which he would
gladly have died to discharge was far away, eating out his heart in
silence, or vainly relieving it with unknown words. At the last gasp, or
after he ceased to gasp for the time, and was drifting insensible, but
happily with his honest face still upward, a Dutchman, keeping a sharp
lookout for English cruisers, espied him. He was taken on board of a
fine bark bound from Rotterdam for Java, with orders to choose the track
least infested by that ravenous shark Britannia. Scudamore was treated
with the warmest kindness and the most gentle attention, for the
captain's wife was on board, and her tender heart was moved with
compassion. Yet even so, three days passed by with no more knowledge
of time on his part than the face of a clock has of its hands; and more
than a week was gone before both body and mind were in tone and tune
again. By that time the stout Dutch bark, having given a wide berth
to the wakes of war, was forty leagues west of Cape Finisterre, under
orders to touch no land short of the Cape, except for fresh water at St.
Jago.

Blyth Scudamore was blest with that natural feeling of preference for
one's own kin and country which the much larger minds of the present
period flout, and scout as barbarous. Happily our periodical blight
is expiring, like cuckoo-spit, in its own bubbles; and the time is
returning when the bottle-blister will not be accepted as the good ripe
peach. Scudamore was of the times that have been (and perhaps may
be coming again, in the teeth and the jaw of universal suffrage), of
resolute, vigorous, loyal people, holding fast all that God gives them,
and declining to be led by the tail, by a gentleman who tacked their
tail on as his handle.

This certainty of belonging still to a firm and substantial race of men
(whose extinction would leave the world nothing to breed from) made the
gallant Scudamore so anxious to do his duty, that he could not do it.
Why do we whistle to a horse overburdened with a heavy load uphill? That
his mind may grow tranquil, and his ears train forward, his eyes lose
their nervous contraction, and a fine sense of leisure pervade him. But
if he has a long hill to surmount, with none to restrain his ardour, the
sense of duty grows stronger than any consideration of his own good,
and the best man has not the conscience needful to understand half his
emotions.

Thus the sense of duty kept Blyth Scudamore full of misery. Every day
carried him further from the all-important issues; and the chance of
returning in time grew faint, and fainter at every sunset. The kindly
Dutchman and his wife were aware of some burden on his mind, because of
its many groaning sallies while astray from judgment. But as soon as his
wits were clear again, and his body fit to second them, Blyth saw that
he could not crave their help, against the present interests of their
own land. Holland was at enmity with England, not of its own accord,
but under the pressure of the man who worked so hard the great European
mangle. Captain Van Oort had picked up some English, and his wife could
use tongue and ears in French, while Scudamore afforded himself and them
some little diversion by attempts in Dutch. Being of a wonderfully happy
nature--for happiness is the greatest wonder in this world--he could not
help many a wholesome laugh, in spite of all the projects of Napoleon.

Little things seldom jump into bigness, till a man sets his microscope
at them. According to the everlasting harmonies, Blyth had not got a
penny, because he had not got a pocket to put it in. A pocketful of
money would have sent him to the bottom of the sea, that breezy April
night, when he drifted for hours, with eyes full of salt, twinkling
feeble answer to the twinkle of the stars. But he had made himself light
of his little cash left, in his preparation for a slow decease,
and perhaps the fish had paid tribute with it to the Caesar of this
Millennium. Captain Van Oort was a man of his inches in length, but in
breadth about one-third more, being thickened and spread by the years
that do this to a body containing a Christian mind. "You will never get
out of them," said Mrs. Van Oort, when he got into her husband's large
smallclothes; but he who had often jumped out of a tub felt no
despair about jumping out of two. In every way Scudamore hoped for the
best--which is the only right course for a man who has done his own
best, and is helpless.

Keeping out of the usual track of commerce, because of the privateers
and other pests of war waylaying it, they met no sail of either friend
or foe until they cast anchor at St. Jago. Here there was no ship bound
for England, and little chance of finding one, for weeks or perhaps for
months to come. The best chance of getting home lay clearly in going yet
further away from home, and so he stuck to the good ship still, and they
weighed for the Cape on the 12th of May. Everything set against poor
Scuddy--wind, and wave, and the power of man. It had been the 16th of
April when he was rescued from the devouring sea; some days had been
spent by the leisurely Dutchman in providing fresh supplies, and the
stout bark's favourite maxim seemed to be, "the more haste the less
speed." Baffling winds and a dead calm helped to second this philosophy,
and the first week of June was past before they swung to their moorings
in Table Bay.

"What chance is there now of my doing any good?" the young Englishman
asked himself, bitterly. "This place is again in the hands of the Dutch,
and the English ships stand clear of it, or only receive supplies by
stealth. I am friendless here, I am penniless; and worst of all, if I
even get a passage home, there will be no home left. Too late! too late!
What use is there in striving?"

Tears stood in his blue eyes, which were gentle as a lady's; and his
forehead (usually calm and smooth and ready for the flicker of a very
pleasant smile) was as grave and determined as the brow of Caryl Carne.
Captain Van Oort would have lent him 500 guilders with the greatest
pleasure, but Scudamore would not take more than fifty, to support him
until he could obtain a ship. Then with hearty good-will, and life-long
faith in each other, the two men parted, and Scudamore's heart was
uncommonly low--for a substance that was not a "Jack-in-the-box"--as he
watched from the shore the slow fading into dream-land of the Katterina.

Nothing except patriotic feeling may justify a man, who has done no
harm, in long-continued misery. The sense of violent bodily pain, or of
perpetual misfortune, or of the baseness of all in whom he trusted, and
other steady influx of many-fountained sorrow, may wear him for a time,
and even fetch his spirit lower than the more vicarious woe can do. But
the firm conviction that the family of man to which one belongs, and
is proud of belonging, has fallen into the hands of traitors, eloquent
liars, and vile hypocrites, and cannot escape without crawling in the
dust--this produces a large deep gloom, and a crushing sense of doom
beyond philosophy. Scudamore could have endured the loss and the
disillusion of his love--pure and strong as that power had been--but
the ruin of his native land would turn his lively heart into a lump of
stone.

For two or three days he roved about among the people of the
water-side--boatmen, pilots, shipping agents, store-keepers, stevedores,
crimps, or any others likely to know anything to help him. Some of these
could speak a little English, and many had some knowledge of French; but
all shook their heads at his eagerness to get to England. "You may
wait weeks, or you may wait months," said the one who knew most of
the subject; "we are very jealous of the English ships. That country
swallows up the sea so. It has been forbidden to supply the English
ships; but for plenty money it is done sometimes; but the finger must
be placed upon the nose, and upon the two eyes what you call the guinea;
and in six hours where are they? Swallowed up by the mist from the
mountain. No, sir! If you have the great money, it is very difficult.
But if you have not that, it is impossible."

"I have not the great money; and the little money also has escaped from
a quicksand in the bottom of my pocket."

"Then you will never get to England, sir," this gentleman answered,
pleasantly; "and unless I have been told things too severely, the best
man that lives had better not go there, without a rock of gold in his
pocket grand enough to fill a thousand quicksands."

Scudamore lifted the relics of his hat, and went in search of some other
Job's comforter. Instead of a passage to England, he saw in a straight
line before him the only journey which a mortal may take without paying
his fare.

To save himself from this gratuitous tour, he earned a little money in
a porter's gang, till his quick step roused the indignation of the rest.
With the loftiest perception of the rights of man, they turned him
out of that employment (for the one "sacred principle of labour" is to
play), and he, understanding now the nature, of democracy, perceived
that of all the many short-cuts to starvation, the one with the fewest
elbows to it is--to work.

While he was meditating upon these points--which persons of big words
love to call "questions of political economy"--his hat, now become a
patent ventilator, sat according to custom on the back of his
head, exposing his large calm forehead, and the kind honesty of his
countenance. Then he started a little, for his nerves were not quite
as strong as when they had good feeding, at the sudden sense of being
scrutinized by the most piercing gaze he had ever encountered.

The stranger was an old man of tall spare frame, wearing a shovel-hat
and long black gown drawn in with a belt, and around his bare neck was a
steel chain supporting an ebony cross. With a smile, which displayed the
firm angles of his face, he addressed the young man in a language which
Scudamore could not understand, but believed to be Portuguese.

"Thy words I am not able to understand. But the Latin tongue, as it is
pronounced in England, I am able to interpret, and to speak, not
too abundantly." Scudamore spoke the best Latin he could muster at a
moment's notice, for he saw that this gentleman was a Catholic priest,
and probably therefore of good education.

"Art thou, then, an Englishman, my son?" the stranger replied, in the
same good tongue. "From thy countenance and walk, that opinion stood
fast in my mind at first sight of thee. Every Englishman is to me
beloved, and every Frenchman unfriendly--as many, at least, as now
govern the state. Father Bartholomew is my name, and though most men
here are heretical, among the faithful I avail sufficiently. What saith
the great Venusian? 'In straitened fortunes quit thyself as a man of
spirit and of mettle.' I find thee in straitened fortunes, and would
gladly enlarge thee, if that which thou art doing is pleasing to the God
omnipotent."

After a few more words, he led the hapless and hungry Englishman to
a quiet little cot which overlooked the noble bay, and itself was
overlooked by a tall flag-staff bearing the colours of Portugal. Here in
the first place he regaled his guest with the flank of a kid served with
cucumber, and fruit gathered early, and some native wine, scarcely good
enough for the Venusian bard, but as rich as ambrosia to Scudamore. Then
he supplied him with the finest tobacco that ever ascended in spiral
incense to the cloud-compelling Jove. At every soft puff, away flew the
blue-devils, pagan, or Christian, or even scientific; and the brightness
of the sleep-forbidden eyes returned, and the sweetness of the smile
so long gone hence in dread of trespass. Father Bartholomew, neither
eating, drinking, nor smoking, till the sun should set--for this was one
of his fast-days--was heartily pleased with his guest's good cheer, and
smiled with the large benevolence which a lean face expresses with more
decision than a plump and jolly one. "And now, my son," he began again,
in Latin more fluent and classical than the sailor could compass after
Cicero thrown by, "thou hast returned thanks to Almighty God, for which
I the more esteem thee. Oblige me, therefore, if it irk thee not, among
smoke of the genial Nicotium, by telling thy tale, and explaining what
hard necessity hath driven thee to these distant shores. Fear not, for
thou seest a lover of England, and hater of France the infidel."

Then Scudamore, sometimes hesitating and laughing at his own bad Latin,
told as much of his story as was needful, striving especially to make
clear the importance of his swift return, and his fear that even so it
would be too late.

"Man may believe himself too late, but the Lord ariseth early," the good
priest answered, with a smile of courage refreshing the heart of the
Englishman. "Behold how the hand of the Lord is steadfast over those who
serve him! To-morrow I might have been far away; to-day I am in time to
help thee. Whilst thou wert feeding, I received the signal of a swift
ship for Lisbon, whose captain is my friend, and would neglect nothing
to serve me. This night he will arrive, and with favourable breezes,
which have set in this morning, he shall spread his sails again
to-morrow, though he meant to linger perhaps for three days. Be of good
cheer, my son; thou shalt sail to-morrow. I will supply thee with all
that is needful, and thank God for a privilege so great. Thou shalt have
money as well for the passage from Lisbon to England, which is not
long. Remember in thy prayers--for thou art devout--that old man, Father
Bartholomew."



CHAPTER LVIII

IN EARLY MORN


One Saturday morning in the month of August, an hour and a half before
sunrise, Carne walked down to the big yew-tree, which stood far enough
from the brink of the cliff to escape the salt, and yet near enough
to command an extensive sea-view. This was the place where the young
shoemaker, belonging to the race of Shanks, had been scared so sadly
that he lost his sweetheart, some two years and a half ago; and this was
the tree that had been loved by painters, especially the conscientious
Sharples, a pupil of Romney, who studied the nicks and the tricks of
the bole, and the many fantastic frets of time, with all the loving
care which ensured the truth of his simple and powerful portraits. But
Sharples had long been away in the West; and Carne, having taste for
no art except his own, had despatched his dog Orso, the fiercer of the
pair, at the only son of a brush who had lately made ready to encamp
against that tree; upon which he decamped, and went over the cliff, with
a loss of much personal property.

The tree looked ghostly in the shady light, and gaunt armstretch of
departing darkness, going as if it had not slept its sleep out. Now
was the time when the day is afraid of coming, and the night unsure of
going, and a large reluctance to acknowledge any change keeps everything
waiting for another thing to move. What is the use of light and shadow,
the fuss of the morning, and struggle for the sun? Fair darkness has
filled all the gaps between them, and why should they be sever'd into
single life again? For the gladness of daybreak is not come yet, nor
the pleasure of seeing the way again, the lifting of the darkness leaves
heaviness beneath it, and if a rashly early bird flops down upon the
grass, he cannot count his distance, but quivers like a moth.

"Pest on this abominable early work!" muttered Carne with a yawn, as he
groped his way through the deep gloom of black foliage, and entered the
hollow of the ancient trunk; "it is all very well for sailors, but too
hard upon a quiet gentleman. Very likely that fellow won't come for two
hours. What a cursed uncomfortable maggoty place! But I'll have put
the sleep he has robbed me of." He stretched his long form on the rough
bench inside, gathered his cloak around him, and roused the dull echo of
the honey-combed hollow with long loud snores.

"Awake, my vigilant commander, and behold me! Happy are the landsmen, to
whom the stars bring sleep. I have not slept for three nights, and the
fruits are here for you."

It was the lively voice of Renaud Charron; and the rosy fan of the dawn,
unfolded over the sea and the gray rocks, glanced with a flutter of
shade into the deep-ribbed tree. Affecting a lofty indifference, Carne,
who had a large sense of his own dignity, rose slowly and came out into
the better light. "Sit down, my dear friend," he said, taking the sealed
packet; "there is bread and meat here, and a bottle of good Macon. You
are nearly always hungry, and you must be starved now."

Charron perceived that his mouth was offered employment at the expense
of his eyes; but the kernel of the matter was his own already, and he
smiled to himself at the mystery of his chief. "In this matter, I should
implore the tree to crush me, if my father were an Englishman," he
thought; "but every one to his taste; it is no affair of mine." Just as
he was getting on good terms with his refreshment, Carne came back, and
watched him with a patronising smile.

"You are the brother of my toil," he said, "and I will tell you as
much as it is good for you to know. A few hours now will complete our
enterprise. Napoleon is at Boulogne again, and even he can scarcely
restrain the rush of the spirits he has provoked. The first Division is
on board already, with a week's supplies, and a thousand horses, ready
to sail when a hand is held up. The hand will be held up at my signal,
and that I shall trust you to convey to-night, as soon as I have settled
certain matters. Where is that sullen young Tugwell? What have you done
with him?"

"Wonderfully clever is your new device, my friend," Charron replied,
after a long pull at the bottle. "To vanquish the mind by a mind
superior is a glory of high reason; but to let it remain in itself
and compel it to perform what is desired by the other, is a stroke of
genius. And under your pharmacy he must do it--that has been proved
already. The idea was grand, very noble, magnificent. It never would
have shown itself to my mind."

"Probably not. When that has been accomplished, we will hang him for a
traitor. But, my dear friend, I have sad news for you, even in this hour
of triumph. The lady of your adoration, the Admiral's eldest daughter,
Faith, has recovered the man for whom she has waited four years, and she
means to marry him. The father has given his consent, and her pride is
beyond description. She has long loved a mystery--what woman can help
it? And now she has one for life, a husband eclipsed in his own hair.
My Renaud, all rivalry is futile. Your hair, alas, is quite short and
scanty. But this man has discovered in Africa a nut which turns a man
into the husk of himself. No wonder that he came out of the sea all
dry!"

"Tush! he is a pig. It is a pig that finds the nuts. I will be the
butcher for that long pig, and the lady will rush into the arms of
conquest. Then will I possess all the Admiral's lands, and pursue the
fine chase of the rabbits. And I will give dinners, such dinners, my
faith! Ha! that is excellent said--embrace me--my Faith will sit at the
right side of the table, and explain to the English company that such
dinners could proceed from nobody except a French gentleman commingling
all the knowledge of the joint with the loftier conception of the hash,
the mince--the what you call? Ah, you have no name for it, because
you do not know the proper thing. Then, in the presence of admiring
Englishmen, I will lean back in my chair, the most comfortable chair
that can be found--"

"Stop. You have got to get into it yet," Carne interrupted, rudely; "and
the way to do that is not to lean back in it. The fault of your system
has always been that you want to enjoy everything before you get it."

"And of yours," retorted Charron, beginning to imbibe the pugnacity of
an English landlord, "that when you have got everything, you will enjoy
what? Nothing!"

"Even a man of your levity hits the nail on the head sometimes," said
Carne, "though the blow cannot be a very heavy one. Nature has not
fashioned me for enjoyment, and therefore affords me very little. But
some little I do expect in the great inversion coming, in the upset of
the scoundrels who have fattened on my flesh, and stolen my land, to
make country gentlemen--if it were possible--of themselves. It will take
a large chimney to burn their title-deeds, for the robbery has lasted
for a century. But I hold the great Emperor's process signed for
that; and if you come to my cookery, you will say that I am capable
of enjoyment. Fighting I enjoy not, as hot men do, nor guzzling, nor
swigging, nor singing of songs; for all of which you have a talent, my
friend. But the triumph of quiet skill I like; and I love to turn the
balance on my enemies. Of these there are plenty, and among them all who
live in that fishy little hole down there."

Carne pointed contemptuously at Springhaven, that poor little village
in the valley. But the sun had just lifted his impartial face above the
last highland that baulked his contemplation of the home of so many and
great virtues; and in the brisk moisture of his early salute the village
in the vale looked lovely. For a silvery mist was flushed with rose,
like a bridal veil warmed by the blushes of the bride, and the curves of
the land, like a dewy palm leaf, shone and sank alternate.

"What a rare blaze they will make!" continued Carne, as the sunlight
glanced along the russet thatch, and the blue smoke arose from the
earliest chimney. "Every cottage there shall be a bonfire, because it
has cast off allegiance to me. The whole race of Darling will be at my
mercy--the pompous old Admiral, who refused to call on me till his idiot
of a son persuaded him--that wretched poetaster, who reduced me to the
ignominy of reading his own rubbish to him--and the haughty young woman
that worships a savage who has treated me with insult. I have them all
now in the hollow of my hand, and a thorough good crumpling is prepared
for them. The first house to burn shall be Zebedee Tugwell's, that
conceited old dolt of a fishing fellow, who gives me a nod of suspicion,
instead of pulling off his dirty hat to me. Then we blow up the church,
and old Twemlow's house, and the Admiral's, when we have done with it.
The fishing-fleet, as they call their wretched tubs, will come home,
with the usual fuss, to-night, and on Monday it shall be ashes. How like
you my programme? Is it complete?"

"Too much, too much complete; too barbarous," answered the kindly
hearted Frenchman. "What harm have all the poor men done to you? And
what insanity to provoke enemies of the people all around who would
bring us things to eat! And worse--if the houses are consumed with fire,
where will be the revenue that is designed for me, as the fair son of
the Admiral? No, no; I will allow none of that. When the landing is
made, you will not be my master. Soult will have charge of the subjects
inferior, and he is not a man of rapine. To him will I address myself in
favour of the village. Thus shall I ascend in the favour of my charming,
and secure my property."

"Captain, I am your master yet, and I will have no interference. No more
talk; but obey me to the letter. There is no sign of any rough weather,
I suppose? You sailors see things which we do not observe."

"This summer has not been of fine weather, and the sky is always
changing here. But there is not any token of a tempest now. Though there
is a little prospect of rain always."

"If it rains, all the better, for it obscures the sea. You have fed
enough now to last even you till the evening; or if not, you can take
some with you. Remain to the westward, where the cliffs are higher, and
look out especially for British ships of war that may be appearing up
Channel. Take this second spy-glass; it is quite strong enough. But
first of all tell Perkins to stand off again with the pilot-boat, as
if he was looking out for a job, and if he sees even a frigate coming
eastward, to run back and let you know by a signal arranged between you.
Dan Tugwell, I see, was shipped yesterday on board of Prame No. 801, a
very handy vessel, which will lead the van, and five hundred will follow
in her track on Sunday evening. My excellent uncle will be at the height
of his eloquence just when his favourite Sunday-school boy is bringing
an addition to his congregation. But the church shall not be blown up
until Monday, for fear of premature excitement. By Monday night about
two hundred thousand such soldiers as Britain could never produce will
be able to quell any childish excitement such as Great Britain is apt to
give way to."

"But what is for me, this same Saturday night? I like very much to make
polite the people, and to marry the most beautiful and the richest; but
not to kill more than there is to be helped."

"The breaking of the egg may cut the fingers that have been sucked till
their skin is gone. You have plagued me all along with your English
hankerings, which in your post of trust are traitorous."

Charron was accustomed to submit to the infinitely stronger will of
Carne. Moreover, his sense of discipline often checked the speed of his
temper. But he had never been able to get rid of a secret contempt for
his superior, as a traitor to the race to which he really belonged, at
least in the Frenchman's opinion. And that such a man should charge him
with treachery was more than his honest soul could quite endure, and his
quick face flushed with indignation as he spoke:

"Your position, my commander, does not excuse such words. You shall
answer for them, when I am discharged from your command; which, I hope,
will be the case next week. To be spoken of as a traitor by you is very
grand."

"Take it as you please," Carne replied, with that cold contemptuous
smile which the other detested. "For the present, however, you will not
be grand, but carry out the orders which I give you. As soon as it is
dark, you will return, keep the pilot-boat in readiness for my last
despatch, with which you will meet the frigate Torche about midnight, as
arranged on Thursday. All that and the signals you already understand.
Wait for me by this tree, and I may go with you; but that will depend
upon circumstances. I will take good care that you shall not be kept
starving; for you may have to wait here three or four hours for me. But
be sure that you do not go until I come."

"But what am I to do if I have seen some British ships, or Perkins has
given me token of them?"

"Observe their course, and learn where they are likely to be at
nightfall. There will probably be none. All I fear is that they may
intercept the Torche. Farewell, my friend, and let your sense of duty
subdue the small sufferings of temper."



CHAPTER LIX

NEAR OUR SHORES


"This is how it is," said Captain Tugwell, that same day, to Erle
Twemlow: "the folk they goes on with a thing, till a man as has any
head left twists it round on his neck, with his chin looking down his
starn-post. Then the enemy cometh, with his spy-glass and his guns, and
afore he can look round, he hath nothing left to look for."

"Then you think, Tugwell, that the danger is not over?--that the French
mean business even now, when every one is tired of hearing of it? I have
been away so long that I know nothing. But the universal opinion is--"

"Opinion of the universe be dashed!" Master Zebedee answered, with a
puff of smoke. "We calls ourselves the universe, when we be the rope
that drags astarn of it. Cappen, to my mind there is mischief in the
wind, more than there hath been for these three years; and that's why
you see me here, instead of going with the smacks. Holy Scripture saith
a dream cometh from the Lord; leastways, to a man of sense, as hardly
ever dreameth. The wind was so bad again us, Monday afternoon, that we
put off sailing till the Tuesday, and Monday night I lay on my own bed,
without a thought of nothing but to sleep till five o'clock. I hadn't
taken nothing but a quart of John Prater's ale--and you know what his
measures is--not a single sip of grog; but the Hangel of the Lord he
come and stand by me in the middle of the night. And he took me by the
hand, or if he didn't it come to the same thing of my getting there, and
he set me up in a dark high place, the like of the yew-tree near Carne
Castle. And then he saith, 'Look back, Zeb'; and I looked, and behold
Springhaven was all afire, like the bottomless pit, or the thunder-storm
of Egypt, or the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. And two figures was
jumping about in the flames, like the furnace in the plain of Dura, and
one of them was young Squire Carne, and the other was my son Daniel, as
behaveth below his name. And I called out, 'Daniel, thou son of Zebedee
and Kezia Tugwell, come forth from the burning fiery furnace'; but he
answered not, neither heeded me. And then Squire Darling, Sir Charles is
now the name of him, out he come from his Round-house, and by the white
gate above high-water mark, to order out the fire, because they was all
his own cottages. But while he was going about, as he doth for fear of
being hard upon any one, out jumps Squire Carne, from the thickest of
the blazes, and takes the poor Squire by the forepart of his neck, which
he liketh to keep open when he getteth off of duty, and away with him
into the burning fiery furnace made of his own houses! That was more
than I could put up with, even under the Hangel, and I give such a kick
that Kezia, though she saith she is the most quietest of women, felt
herself a forced to bounce me up."

"A dream of that sort deserves notice," answered Erle, who had passed
many months among sailors; "and over and above that, I see proofs of
a foolish security in England, and of sharp activity in France. Last
Monday I was only five miles from Boulogne, on board of our frigate
the Melpomene, for I wanted the captain's evidence to help me in my
own affairs; and upon my word I was quite amazed at the massing of the
French forces there, and the evident readiness of their hundreds of
troop-ships. Scores of them even had horses on board, for I saw them
quite clearly with a spy-glass. But the officers only laughed at me, and
said they were tired of seeing that. And another thing I don't like
at all is the landing of a French boat this side of Pebbleridge. I was
coming home after dark one night, and as soon as they saw me they pushed
off, and pretended to be English fishermen; but if ever I saw Frenchmen,
these were French; and I believe they had a ship not far away, for I saw
a light shown and then turned off. I examined the place in the morning,
and saw the footprints of men on a path up the cliff, as if they had
gone inland towards Carne Castle. When the Admiral came home, I told him
of it; but he seemed to think it was only some smuggling."

"Ah, there's smooglin' of a bad kind over there, to my belief. I
wouldn't tell your honour not a quarter what I thinks, because of the
young gentleman being near akin to you. But a thing or two have come to
my ears, very much again a young squire over that way. A man as will do
what he have done is a black one in some ways; and if some, why not in
all?"

"Tell me what you mean," said Twemlow, sternly. "After saying so much,
you are bound to say more. Caryl Carne is no friend of mine, although he
is my cousin. I dislike the man, though I know but little of him."

"For sartin then a kind gentleman like you won't like him none the
better for betraying of a nice young maid as put her trust in him, as
lively and pretty a young maid as ever stepped, and might have had the
pick of all the young men in the parish."

"What!" exclaimed Erle, with a sudden chill of heart, for Faith had not
concealed from him her anxiety about Dolly. "Tugwell, do you mean to
say--"

"Yes, sir; only you must keep it to yourself, for the sake of the poor
young thing; though too many knows it already, I'm afeared. And that
was how poor Jem Cheeseman changed from a dapper money-turning man, as
pleasant as could be, to a down-hearted, stick-in-doors, honest-weighted
fellow. Poor little Polly was as simple as a dove, and her meant to
break none of the Lord's commandments, unless it was a sin to look so
much above her. He took her aboard her father's trading-craft, and
made pretence to marry her across the water, her knowing nothing of
the lingo, to be sure; and then when there come a thumping boy, and
her demanded for the sake of the young 'un that her marriage should be
sartified in the face of all the world, what does he do but turn round
and ask her if she was fool enough to suppose that a Carne had married a
butter-man's daughter? With a few words more, she went off of her head,
and have never been right again, they say; and her father, who was
mighty proud to have a grandson heir to an old ancient castle, he was
so took aback with this disappointment that he puzzled all the village,
including of me, as I am free to own, by jumping into his own rope.
'Twas only now just that I heard all this; and as the captain of this
here place, I shall ask leave of Cheeseman to have it out with Master
Carne, as soon as may be done without hurting the poor thing. If she
had been my child, the rope should have gone round his neck first, if it
come to mine there-arter!"

"The ----- villain!" Twemlow used a strong short word, without adding
heavily, it may be hoped, to the score against him. "And to think that
all this time he has been daring to address himself--But never mind that
now. It will be a bad time for him when I catch him by himself, though I
must not speak of Polly. Poor little Polly! what a pretty child she was!
I used to carry sugar-plums on purpose for her. Good-bye, Tugwell; I
must think about all this."

"And so must I, sir. What a strapping chap 'a be!" Captain Zebedee
continued to himself, as Twemlow strode away with the light step of a
mountain savage, carrying a long staff from force of habit, and looking
even larger than himself from the flow of chestnut hair and beard around
him. "Never did see such a hairy chap. Never showed no signs of it when
'a was a lad, and Miss 'Liza quite smooth in the front of her neck. Must
come of Hottentot climate, I reckon. They calls it the bush, from
the folk been so bushy. I used to think as my beard was a pretty good
example; but, Lord bless me and keep me, it would all go on his nose! If
'a spreadeth that over the face of Squire Carne, 'a will ravish him, as
the wicked doth ravish the poor."

Twemlow had many sad things to consider, and among them the impending
loss of this grand mane. After divers delays, and infinitude of forms,
and much evidence of things self-evident--in the spirit which drove Sir
Horatio Nelson to pin a certificate of amputation to the sleeve of his
lost arm--this Twemlow had established that he was the Twemlow left
behind upon the coast of Africa, and having been captured in the service
of his country, was entitled at least to restoration. In such a case
small liberality was shown in those days, even as now prevaileth, the
object of all in authority being to be hard upon those who are out
of it. At last, when he was becoming well weary, and nothing but an
Englishman's love of his country and desire to help in her dangers
prevented him from turning to private pursuits--wherein he held a key
to fortune--he found himself restored to his rank in the Army, and
appointed to another regiment, which happened to be short of officers.
Then he flung to the winds, until peace should return, his prospect of
wealth beyond reckoning, and locked in a black leather trunk materials
worth their weight in diamonds. But, as life is uncertain, he told
his beloved one the secret of his great discovery, which she, in sweet
ignorance of mankind, regarded as of no importance.

But as wars appear and disappear, nations wax and wane, and the holiest
principles of one age become the scoff of the next, yet human nature is
the same throughout, it would be wrong to cast no glance--even with the
French so near our shores--at the remarkable discovery of this young
man, and the circumstances leading up to it. For with keen insight
into civilized thought, which yearns with the deepest remorse for those
blessings which itself has banished, he knew that he held a master-key
to the treasuries of Croesus, Mycerinus, Attalus, and every other King
who has dazzled the world with his talents. The man who can minister to
human needs may, when he is lucky, earn a little towards his own; the
man who contributes to the pleasure of his fellows must find reward in
his own; but he who can gratify the vanity of his race is the master of
their pockets.

Twemlow had been carried from the deadly coast (as before related by
Captain Southcombe) to the mountainous district far inland, by the great
King Golo of the Quackwas nation, mighty warriors of lofty stature. Here
he was treated well, and soon learned enough of their simple language to
understand and be understood; while the King, who considered all white
men as of canine origin, was pleased with him, and prepared to make him
useful. Then Twemlow was sent, with an escort of chiefs, to the land of
the Houlas, as a medicine-man, to win Queen Mabonga for the great King
Golo. But she--so strange is the perversity of women--beholding this man
of a pearly tint, as fair as the moon, and as soft as a river--for he
took many months to get properly tanned--with one long gaze of amazement
yielded to him what he sought for another. A dwarf and a whipster he
might be among the great darkies around her--for he had only six feet
and one inch of stature, and forty-two inches round the chest--but, to
her fine taste, tone and quality more than covered defect of quantity.
The sight of male members of her race had never moved her, because she
had heard of their wickedness; but the gaze of this white man, so tender
and so innocent, set her on a long course of wondering about herself.
Then she drew back, and passed into the private hut behind, where no one
was allowed to disturb her. For she never had felt like this before, and
she wanted nobody to notice it.

But the Houla maidens, with the deepest interest in matters that came
home to them outside their understanding, held council with their
mothers, and these imparted to the angelic stranger, as plainly as
modesty permitted, the distressing results of his whiteness, and
implored him to depart, before further harm was done. Twemlow perceived
that he had tumbled into a difficult position, and the only way out of
it was to make off. Giving pledges to return in two moons at the latest,
he made his salaam to the sensitive young Queen, whose dignity was
only surpassed by her grace, and expecting to be shortened by the head,
returned with all speed to the great King Golo. Honesty is the best
policy--as we all know so well that we forbear to prove it--and the
Englishman saw that the tale would be darker from the lips of his black
attendants. The negro monarch was of much-enduring mind, but these
tidings outwent his philosophy. He ordered Twemlow's head to come off by
dinner-time, and, alas, that royal household kept very early hours; and
the poor captain, corded to a tree, sniffed sadly the growth of good
roast, which he never should taste, and could only succeed in succession
of fare. For although that enlightened King had discarded the taste of
the nations around him, it was not half so certain as the prisoner could
have wished that his prejudice would resist the relish of a candid rival
in prime condition.

While Twemlow was dwelling upon this nice question, and sympathising
deeply with the animal on the spit, Tuloo, the head councillor of
the realm, appeared, an ancient negro full of wisdom and resource.
Discovering that the white man set more value on his head than is usual
with these philosophers, he proposed conditions which were eagerly
accepted, and releasing the captive, led him into his own hut. Here the
man of wisdom spat three times into his very ample bosom, to exorcise
evil spells, and took from a hole in the corner something which he
handled very carefully, and with a touch as light as possible. Following
everything with his best eyes, Twemlow perceived in the hand of Tuloo
a spongy-looking substance of conical form, and in colour and size very
like a morel, but possessing a peculiar golden glow. "Kneel here, my
son, and move not until I tell you," the old man whispered, and was
obeyed. Then he stripped off all covering from the white neck and
shoulders, and beginning immediately below the eyes, brushed all the
cheeks and the chin, throat and neck and upper part of the bosom, with
the substance in his hand, from which a yellow powder passed, moist
rather than dusty, into the open pores. "In one moon you will be a beast
of the woods, and in two you shall return to the Queen that loves you,"
said Councillor Tuloo, with a sly little grin.

But Twemlow was robbed of no self-respect by the growth of a forest
about him; and when he was sent again to Queen Mabonga, and the dewy
glance of love died at the very first wink into a stony glare--because
of his face being covered with hair--he said to himself that he knew
where he could inflict a very different impression upon ladies. For
these cannot have too much hair in England, at the back of their own
heads, and front of their admirers'.

Councillor Tuloo was gifted with a deep understanding of a thing which
looks shallow to a man who has never yet heard of false bottoms. He said
to King Golo: "I know what women are. As long as she never had thought
about men, you might crawl, and be only a hog to her. But her eyes have
been opened to this white man, and there is room for a black one to
go into them. And unless you are at hand, it will be done by some one
else."

In short, all was managed so beautifully that in six more moons the coy
Mabonga split the Durra straw with King Golo, amid vast rejoicings and
in din almost equal to that which a wedding in Wales arouses. But
from time to time it was considered needful to keep up her Majesty's
repulsion by serving Erle Twemlow with another dose of that which would
have created for the English fair capillary attraction. Thus he became
a great favourite with the King, who listened with deep interest to
his descriptions of the houseful of beads and buttons to be earned in
England by a little proper management of Tuloo's magic dust. Before
very long it was arranged that as soon as a good supply of Pong could be
collected, Twemlow should be sent back to the coast and placed under
the charge of Bandeliah, who was now a tributary of this great King. And
here he might have waited years and years--for the trading station was
abandoned now--but for the benevolence of Captain Southcombe, who, being
driven to the eastward of his course upon one of his returns from India,
stood in a little further to enquire about his friend, and with no small
pleasure conveyed him home.



CHAPTER LX

NO DANGER, GENTLEMEN


The little dinner at Springhaven Hall, appointed for that same Saturday,
had now grown into a large one. Carne had refused Dolly's offer to get
him an invitation, and for many reasons he was not invited. He ought
to have been glad of this, because he did not want to be there; but his
nature, like a saw's, was full of teeth, and however he was used, he
grated. But without any aid of his teeth, a good dinner, well planned
and well served, bade fair in due course to be well digested also by
forty at least of the forty-two people who sat down to consider it.
For as yet the use of tongue was understood, and it was not allowed to
obstruct by perpetual motion the duties of the palate. And now every
person in the parish of high culture--which seems to be akin to the
Latin for a knife, though a fork expels nature more forcibly--as well
as many others of locality less favoured, joined in this muster of good
people and good things. At the outset, the Admiral had intended nothing
more than a quiet recognition of the goodness of the Lord in bringing
home a husband for the daughter of the house; but what Englishman can
forbear the pleasure of killing two birds with one stone?

It was Stubbard who first suggested this, and Sir Charles at once
saw the force of it, especially with the Marquis of Southdown coming.
Captain Stubbard had never admired anybody, not even himself--without
which there is no happiness--much less Mr. Pitt, or Lord Nelson, or the
King, until justice was done to the race of Stubbard, and their hands
were plunged into the Revenue. But now, ever since the return of the war
to its proper home in England, this Captain had been paid well for doing
the very best thing that a man can do, i. e., nothing. He could not help
desiring to celebrate this, and as soon as he received his invitation,
he went to the host and put it clearly. The Admiral soon entered into
his views, and as guests were not farmed by the head as yet at tables
entertaining self-respect, he perceived the advantage of a good dinner
scored to his credit with forty at the cost of twenty; and Stubbard's
proposal seemed thoroughly well timed, so long was it now since the
leaders of Defence had celebrated their own vigilance. Twenty-two,
allowing for the ladies needful, were thus added to the score of chairs
intended, and the founder of the feast could scarcely tell whether
the toast of the evening was to be the return of the traveller, or the
discomfiture of Boney. That would mainly depend upon the wishes of the
Marquis, and these again were likely to be guided by the treatment
he had met with from the government lately and the commanders of his
Division.

This nobleman was of a character not uncommon eighty years ago, but now
very rare among public men, because a more flexible fibre has choked
it. Steadfast, honourable, simple, and straightforward, able to laugh
without bitterness at the arrogant ignorance of mobs, but never to smile
at the rogues who led them, scorning all shuffle of words, foul haze,
and snaky maze of evasion, and refusing to believe at first sight that
his country must be in the wrong and her enemies in the right, he
added to all these exterminated foibles a leisurely dignity now equally
extinct. Trimmers, time-servers, and hypocrites feared him, as thieves
fear an honourable dog; and none could quote his words against one
another. This would have made him unpopular now, when perjury means
popularity. For the present, however, self-respect existed, and no one
thought any the worse of his lordship for not having found him a liar.
Especially with ladies, who insist on truth in men as a pleasant proof
of their sex, Lord Southdown had always been a prime favourite, and an
authority largely misquoted. And to add to his influence, he possessed
a quick turn of temper, which rendered it very agreeable to agree with
him.

Lord Southdown was thinking, as he led Miss Darling to her chair at the
head of the table, that he never had seen a more pleasing young woman,
though he grieved at her taste in preferring the brown young man on her
left to his elegant friend Lord Dashville. Also he marvelled at hearing
so much, among the young officers of his acquaintance, concerning the
beauty of the younger sister, and so little about this far sweeter young
person--at least in his opinion. For verily Dolly was not at her best;
her beautiful colour was gone, her neck had lost its sprightly turn, and
her gray eyes moved heavily instead of sparkling. "That girl has some
burden upon her mind," he thought as he watched her with interest and
pity; "she has put on her dress anyhow, and she does not even look to
see who is looking at her!"

For the "Belle of all Sussex," as the young sparks entitled her, was
ill at ease with herself, and ready to quarrel with every one except
herself. She had conscience enough to confess, whenever she could not
get away from it, that for weeks and months she had been slipping far
and further from the true and honest course. Sometimes, with a pain like
a stitch in the side, the truth would spring upon her; and perhaps for a
moment she would wonder at herself, and hate the man misleading her. But
this happened chiefly when he was present, and said or did something to
vex her; and then he soon set it to rights again, and made everything
feel delightful. And this way of having her misgivings eased made them
easier when they came again with no one to appease them. For she began
to think of what he had done, and how kind and considerate his mind must
be, and how hard it must seem to mistrust him.

Another thing that urged her to keep on now, without making any fuss
about it, was the wonderful style her sister Faith had shown since that
hairy monster came back again. It was manifest that the world contained
only one man of any high qualities, and nobody must dare to think even
twice about any conclusion he laid down. He had said to her, with a
penetrating glance--and it must have been that to get through such a
thicket--that dangerous people were about, and no girl possessing any
self-respect must think of wandering on the shore alone. The more she
was spied upon and admonished, the more she would do what she thought
right; and a man who had lived among savages for years must be a queer
judge of propriety. But, in spite of all these defiant thoughts, her
heart was very low, and her mind in a sad flutter, and she could
not even smile as she met her father's gaze. Supposing that she was
frightened at the number of the guests, and the noise of many tongues,
and the grandeur of the people, the gentle old man made a little signal
to her to come and have a whisper with him, as a child might do, under
courtesy of the good company. But Dolly feigned not to understand, at
the penalty of many a heart-pang.

The dinner went on with a very merry sound, and a genuine strength of
enjoyment, such as hearty folk have who know one another, and are met
together not to cut capers of wit, but refresh their goodwill and fine
principles. And if any dinner party can be so arranged that only five
per cent. has any trouble on its mind, the gentleman who whips away the
plates, at a guinea a mouth, will have to go home with a face of willow
pattern.

The other whose mind was away from her food, and reckless of its own
nourishment, was Blyth Scudamore's mother, as gentle a lady as ever
tried never to think of herself. In spite of all goodness, and faith in
the like, she had enough to make her very miserable now, whenever she
allowed herself to think about it, and that was fifty-nine minutes
out of sixty. For a brief account of her son's escape from Etaples had
reached her, through the kindness of Captain Desportes, who found means
to get a letter delivered to the Admiral. That brave French officer
spoke most highly of the honourable conduct of his English friend, but
had very small hope of his safety. For he added the result of his own
inquiries to the statement of M. Jalais, and from these it was clear
that poor Scuddy had set forth alone in a rickety boat, ill found and
ill fitted to meet even moderate weather in the open Channel. Another
young Englishman had done the like, after lurking in the forest of
Hardelot, but he had been recaptured by the French at the outset of his
hopeless voyage. Scudamore had not been so retaken; and the Captain
(who had not received his letter until it was too late to interfere,
by reason of his own despatch to Dieppe) had encountered a sharp summer
gale just then, which must have proved fatal to the poor old boat.
The only chance was that some English ship might have picked up the
wanderer, and if so the highly respected Admiral would have heard of it
before he received this letter. As no such tidings had been received,
there could be little doubt about the issue in any reasonable mind. But
the heart of a woman is not a mind, or the man that is born of her might
as well forego the honour.

However, as forty people were quite happy, the wisest course is to
rejoin them. The ladies were resolved upon this occasion to storm the
laws of usage which required their withdrawal before the toasts began;
and so many gentle voices challenged the garrison of men behind their
bottles that terms of unusual scope were arranged. It was known that the
Marquis would make a fine speech--short, and therefore all the finer--in
proposing the toast of the evening, to wit, "Our King, and our Country."
Under the vigorous lead of Mrs. Stubbard, the ladies demanded to hear
every word; after which they would go, and discuss their own affairs, or
possibly those of their neighbours. But the gentlemen must endure their
presence till his lordship had spoken, and the Admiral replied. Faith
was against this arrangement, because she foresaw that it would make
them very late; but she yielded to the wishes of so many of her guests,
consoled with the thought that she would be supported by some one on her
left hand, who would be her support for life.

When all had done well, except the two aforesaid, and good-will born of
good deeds was crowning comfort with jocund pleasure, and the long oak
table, rich of grain and dark with the friction of a hundred years,
shone in the wavering flow of dusk with the gleam of purple and golden
fruit, the glance of brilliant glass that puzzles the light with its
claim to shadow, and the glow of amber and amethyst wine decanted to
settle that question--then the bold Admiral, standing up, said, "Bring
in the lights, that we may see his lordship."

"I like to speak to some intelligence," said the guest, who was shrewd
at an answer. And Dolly, being quick at occasion, seized it, and in the
shifting of chairs left her own for some one else.

The curtains were drawn across the western window, to close the conflict
between God's light and man's, and then this well-known gentleman,
having placed his bottle handily--for he never "put wine into two
whites," to use his own expression--arose with his solid frame as
tranquil as a rock, and his full-fronted head like a piece of it. Every
gentleman bowed to his bow, and waited with silent respect for his
words, because they would be true and simple.

"My friends, I will take it for granted that we all love our country,
and hate its enemies. We may like and respect them personally, for they
are as good as we are; but we are bound to hate them collectively,
as men who would ruin all we love. For the stuff that is talked about
freedom, democracy, march of intellect, and so forth, I have nothing to
say, except to bid you look at the result among themselves. Is there a
man in France whose body is his own if he can carry arms, or his soul if
it ventures to seek its own good? As for mind--there is only the mind
of one man; a large one in many ways; in others a small one, because it
considers its owner alone.

"But we of England have refused to be stripped of all that we hold dear,
at the will of a foreign upstart. We have fought for years, and we still
are fighting, without any brag or dream of glory, for the rights of
ourselves and of all mankind. There have been among us weak-minded
fellows, babblers of abstract nonsense, and even, I grieve to
say--traitors. But, on the whole, we have stood together, and therefore
have not been trodden on. How it may end is within the knowledge of the
Almighty only; but already there are signs that we shall be helped, if
we continue to help ourselves.

"And now for the occasion of our meeting here. We rejoice most heartily
with our good host, the vigilant Defender of these shores, at the
restoration to his arms--or rather, to a still more delightful
embrace--of a British officer, who has proved a truth we knew already,
that nothing stops a British officer. I see a gentleman struck so keenly
with the force of that remark, because he himself has proved it, that I
must beg his next neighbour to fill up his glass, and allow nothing to
stop him from tossing it off. And as I am getting astray from my text, I
will clear my poor head with what you can see through."

The Marquis of Southdown filled his glass from a bottle of grand old
Chambertin--six of which had been laid most softly in a cupboard of
the wainscote for his use--and then he had it filled again, and saw his
meaning brilliantly.

"Our second point is the defeat of the French, and of this we may now
assure ourselves. They have not been defeated, for the very good reason
that they never would come out to fight; but it comes to the same thing,
because they are giving it over as a hopeless job. I have seen too many
ups and downs to say that we are out of danger yet; but when our fleets
have been chasing theirs all over the world, are they likely to come
and meet us in our own waters? Nelson has anchored at Spithead, and
is rushing up to London, as our host has heard to-day, with his usual
impetuosity. Every man must stick to his own business, even the mighty
Nelson; and he might not meddle with Billy Blue, or anybody else up
Channel. Still, Nelson is not the sort of man to jump into a chaise at
Portsmouth if there was the very smallest chance of the French coming
over to devour us.

"Well, my friends, we have done our best, and have some right to be
proud of it; but we should depart from our nature if we even exercised
that right. The nature of an Englishman is this--to be afraid of nothing
but his own renown. Feeling this great truth, I will avoid offence by
hiding as a crime my admiration of the glorious soldiers and sailors
here, yet beg them for once to remember themselves, as having enabled
me to propose, and all present to pledge, the welfare of our King and
Country."

The Marquis waved his glass above his head, without spilling a single
drop, although it was a bumper, then drained it at a draught, inverted
it, and cleverly snapped it in twain upon the table, with his other hand
laid on his heart, and a long low reverence to the company. Thereupon up
stood squires and dames, and repeating the good toast, pledged it, with
a deep bow to the proposer; and as many of the gentlemen as understood
the art, without peril to fair neighbours, snapped the glass.

His lordship was delighted, and in the spirit of the moment held up
his hand, which meant, "Silence, silence, till we all sing the National
Anthem!" In a clear loud voice he led off the strain, Erle Twemlow from
his hairy depths struck in, then every man, following as he might, and
with all his might, sustained it, and the ladies, according to their
wont, gave proof of the heights they can scale upon rapture.

The Admiral, standing, and beating time now and then with his
heel--though all the time deserved incessant beating--enjoyed the
performance a great deal more than if it had been much better, and
joined in the main roar as loudly as he thought his position as host
permitted. For although he was nearing the haven now of threescore years
and ten, his throat and heart were so sea-worthy that he could very
sweetly have outroared them all. But while he was preparing just to
prove this, if encouraged, and smiling very pleasantly at a friend who
said, "Strike up, Admiral," he was called from the room, and in the
climax of the roar slipped away for a moment, unheeded, and meaning to
make due apology to his guests as soon as he came back.



CHAPTER LXI

DISCHARGED FROM DUTY


While loyalty thus rejoiced and throve in the warmth of its own
geniality, a man who was loyal to himself alone, and had no geniality
about him, was watching with contempt these British doings. Carne had
tethered his stout black horse, who deserved a better master, in a dusky
dell of dark-winged trees at the back of the eastern shrubbery. Here the
good horse might rest unseen, and consider the mysterious ways of men;
for the main approach was by the western road, and the shades of evening
stretched their arms to the peaceful yawn of sunset. And here he found
good stuff spread by nature, more worthy of his attention, and
tucking back his forelegs, fared as well as the iron between his teeth
permitted.

Then the master drew his green riding-coat of thin velvet closer round
him, and buttoned the lappet in front, because he had heavy weight in
the pockets. Keeping warily along the lines of shadow, he gained a place
of vantage in the shrubbery, a spot of thick shelter having loops of
outlook. Above and around him hung a curtain of many-pointed ilex,
and before him a barberry bush, whose coral clusters caught the waning
light. In this snug nook he rested calmly, leaning against the ilex
trunk, and finished his little preparations for anything adverse to his
plans. In a belt which was hidden by his velvet coat he wore a short
dagger in a sheath of shagreen, and he fixed it so that he could draw it
in a moment, without unfastening the riding-coat. Then from the pockets
on either side he drew a pair of pistols, primed them well from a little
flask, and replaced them with the butts beneath the lappets. "Death for
at least three men," he muttered, "if they are fools enough to meddle
with me. My faith, these Darlings are grown very grand, on the strength
of the land that belongs to us!"

For he heard the popping of champagne corks, and the clink of abundant
silver, and tuning of instruments by the band, and he saw the flash of
lights, and the dash of serving-men, and the rush of hot hospitality;
and although he had not enough true fibre in his stomach to yearn for
a taste of the good things going round, there can be little doubt, from
what he did thereafter, that his gastric juices must have turned to
gall.

With all these sounds and sights and scents of things that he had no
right to despise, his patience was tried for an hour and a half, or at
any rate he believed so. The beautiful glow in the west died out, where
the sun had been ripening his harvest-field of sheafy gold and awny
cloud; and the pulse of quivering dusk beat slowly, so that a man might
seem to count it, or rather a child, who sees such things, which later
men lose sight of. The forms of the deepening distances against the
departure of light grew faint, and prominent points became obscure, and
lines retired into masses, while Carne maintained his dreary watch,
with his mood becoming darker. As the sound of joyful voices, and of
good-will doubled by good fare, came to his unfed vigil from the open
windows of the dining-room, his heart was not enlarged at all, and
the only solace for his lips was to swear at British revelry. For the
dining-room was at the western end, some fifty yards away from him, and
its principal window faced the sunset, but his lurking-place afforded a
view of the southern casements obliquely. Through these he had seen
that the lamps were brought, and heard the increase of merry noise, the
clapping of hands, and the jovial cheers at the rising of the popular
Marquis.

At last he saw a white kerchief waved at the window nearest to him, the
window of the Admiral's little study, which opened like a double door
upon the eastern grass-plat. With an ill-conditioned mind, and body
stiff and lacking nourishment, he crossed the grass in a few long
strides, and was admitted without a word.

"What a time you have been! I was giving it up," he whispered to the
trembling Dolly. "Where are the candles? I must strike a light. Surely
you might have brought one. Bolt the door, while I make a light, and
close the curtains quietly, but leave the window open. Don't shake, like
a child that is going to be whipped. Too late now for nonsense. What are
you afraid of? Silly child!"

As he spoke he was striking a light in a little French box containing a
cube of jade, and with very little noise he lit two candles standing on
the high oak desk. Dolly drew a curtain across the window, and then
went softly to the door, which opened opposite the corner of a narrow
passage, and made pretence to bolt it, but shot the bolt outside the
socket.

"Come and let me look at you," said Carne, for he knew that he had
been rough with her, and she was not of the kind that submits to that.
"Beauty, how pale you look, and yet how perfectly lovely in this evening
gown! I should like to kill the two gentlemen who sat next to you at
dinner. Darling, you know that whatever I do is only for your own sweet
sake."

"If you please not to touch me, it will be better," said the lady,
not in a whisper, but a firm and quiet voice, although her hands were
trembling; "you are come upon business, and you should do it."

If Carne had but caught her in his arms, and held her to his heart, and
vowed that all business might go to the devil while he held his angel
so, possibly the glow of nobler feelings might have been lost in
the fire of passion. But he kept his selfish end alone in view, and
neglected the womanly road to it.

"A despatch from London arrived today; I must see it," he said, shortly;
"as well as the copy of the answer sent. And then my beauty must insert
a NOT in the order to be issued in the morning, or otherwise invert its
meaning, simply to save useless bloodshed. The key for a moment, the
key, my darling, of this fine old piece of furniture!"

"Is it likely that I would give you the key? My father always keeps it.
What right have you with his private desk? I never promised anything so
bad as that."

"I am not to be trifled with," he whispered, sternly. "Do you think that
I came here for kissing? The key I must have, or break it open; and how
will you explain that away?"

His rudeness settled her growing purpose. The misery of indecision
vanished; she would do what was right, if it cost her life. Her face was
as white as her satin dress, but her dark eyes flashed with menace.

"There is a key that opens it," she said, as she pointed to the
bookcase; "but I forbid you to touch it, sir."

Carne's only reply was to snatch the key from the upper glass door of
the book-shelves, which fitted the lock of the Admiral's desk, though
the owner was not aware of it. In a moment the intruder had unlocked the
high and massive standing-desk, thrown back the cover, and placed one
candlestick among the documents. Many of them he brushed aside, as
useless for his purpose, and became bewildered among the rest, for the
Commander of the Coast-defence was not a man of order. He never knew
where to put a thing, nor even where it might have put itself, but found
a casual home for any paper that deserved it. This lack of method has
one compensation, like other human defects, to wit, that it puzzles a
clandestine searcher more deeply than cypher or cryptogram. Carne had
the Admiral's desk as wide as an oyster thrown back on his valve, and
just being undertucked with the knife, to make him go down easily. Yet
so great was the power of disorder that nothing could be made out of
anything. "Watch at the door," he had said to Dolly; and this suited her
intention.

For while he was thus absorbed, with his back towards her, she opened
the door a little, and presently saw the trusty Charles come hurrying
by, as if England hung upon his labours. "Tell my father to come here
this moment; go softly, and say that I sent you." As she finished her
whisper she closed the door, without any sound, and stood patiently.

"Show me where it is; come and find it for me. Everything here is in
the vilest mess," cried Carne, growing reckless with wrath and hurry.
"I want the despatch of this morning, and I find tailors' bills, way to
make water-proof blacking, a list of old women, and a stump of old pipe!
Come here, this instant, and show me where it is."

"If you forget your good manners," answered Dolly, still keeping in the
dark near the door, "I shall have to leave you. Surely you have practice
enough in spying, to find what you want, with two candles."

Carne turned for a moment, and stared at her. Her attitude surprised
him, but he could not believe in her courage to rebel. She stood with
her back to the door, and met his gaze without a sign of fear.

"There are no official papers here," he said, after another short
ransack; "there must have been some, if this desk is the one. Have you
dared to delude me by showing the wrong desk?"

Dolly met his gaze still, and then walked towards him. The band had
struck up, and the company were singing with a fine patriotic roar,
which rang very nobly in the distance--"Britannia, rule the waves!"
Dolly felt like a Briton as the words rolled through her, and the melody
lifted her proud heart.

"You have deluded yourself," she said, standing proudly before the
baffled spy; "you have ransacked my father's private desk, which I
allowed you to do, because my father has no secrets. He leaves it open
half the time, because he is a man of honour. He is not a man of plots,
and wiles, and trickery upon women. And you have deluded yourself, in
dreaming that a daughter of his would betray her Country."

"By the God that made me, I will have your life!" cried Carne in
French, as he dashed his hand under his coat to draw his dagger; but the
pressure of the desk had displaced that, so that he could not find it.
She thought that her time was come, and shrieked--for she was not at all
heroic, and loved life very dearly--but she could not take her eyes from
his, nor turn to fly from the spell of them; all she could do was to
step back; and she did so into her father's arms.

"Ho!" cried the Admiral, who had entered with the smile of good cheer
and good company glowing on his fine old countenance; "my Dolly and a
stranger at my private desk! Mr. Carne! I have had a glass or two of
wine, but my eyes must be playing me extraordinary tricks. A gentleman
searching my desk, and apparently threatening my dear daughter! Have the
kindness to explain, before you attempt to leave us."

If the curtain had not been drawn across the window, Carne would have
made his escape, and left the situation to explain itself. But the stuff
was thick, and it got between his legs; and before he could slip
away, the stout old Admiral had him by the collar with a sturdy grasp,
attesting the substance of the passing generation. And a twinkle of
good-humour was in the old eyes still--such a wonder was his Dolly that
he might be doing wrong in laying hands of force upon a visitor of hers.
Things as strange as this had been within his knowledge, and proved to
be of little harm--with forbearance. But his eyes grew stern, as Carne
tried to dash his hand off.

"If you value your life, you will let me go," said the young man to the
old one.

"I will not let you go, sir, till you clear up this. A gentleman must
see that he is bound to do so. If I prove to be wrong, I will apologise.
What! Are you going to fire at me? You would never be such a coward!"

He dropped upon the floor, with a bullet in his brain, and his course of
duty ended. Carne dashed aside the curtain, and was nearly through the
window, when two white arms were cast round his waist. He threw himself
forward with all his might, and wrenched at the little hands clasped
around him, but they held together like clenched iron. "Will you force
me to kill you?" "You may, if you like"--was the dialogue of these
lovers.

The strength of a fit was in her despair. She set her bent knees against
the window-frame, and a shower of glass fell between them; but she
flinched not from her convulsive grasp. "Let me come back, that I may
shoot myself," Carne panted, for his breath was straitened; "what is
life to me after losing you?" She made no answer, but took good care
not to release so fond a lover. Then he threw himself back with all his
weight, and she fell on the floor beneath him. Her clasp relaxed, and
he was free; for her eyes had encountered her father's blood, and she
swooned away, and lay as dead.

Carne arose quickly, and bolted the door. His breath was short, and his
body trembling, but the wits of the traitor were active still. "I must
have something to show for all this," he thought as he glanced at the
bodies on the floor. "Those revellers may not have heard this noise. I
know where it is now, and I will get it."

But the sound of the pistol, and shriek of the girl, had rung through
the guests, when the wine was at their lips, and all were nodding to one
another. Faith sprang up, and then fell back trembling, and several men
ran towards the door. Charles, the footman, met them there, with his
face whiter than his napkin, and held up his hands, but could not speak.
Erle Twemlow dashed past him and down the passage; and Lord Southdown
said: "Gentlemen, see to the ladies. There has been some little mishap,
I fear. Bob, and Arthur, come with me."

Twemlow was first at the study door, and finding it fastened, struck
with all his force, and shouted, at the very moment when Carne stood
before the true desk of office. "Good door, and good bolt," muttered
Carne; "my rule is never to be hurried by noises. Dolly will be quiet
for a quarter of an hour, and the old gentleman forever. All I want is
about two minutes."

Twemlow stepped back a few yards, and then with a good start delivered a
rushing kick; but the only result was a jar of his leg through the sole
of his thin dress sandal.

"The window!" cried the Marquis. "We'll stop here; you know the house;
take the shortest cut to the window. Whoever is there, we shall have him
so. I am too slow. Boy Bob, go with him."

"What a fool I was not to think of that!" shouted Twemlow, as he set off
for the nearest house door, and unluckily Carne heard him. He had struck
up the ledge of the desk with the butt of the pistol he had fired, and
pocketing a roll of fresh despatches, he strode across the body of the
Admiral, and with a glance at Dolly--whose eyes were wide open, but
her face drawn aside, like a peach with a split stone--out he went. He
smiled as he heard the thundering of full-bodied gentlemen against
the study door, and their oaths, as they damaged their knuckles and
knee-caps. Then he set off hot-foot, but was stopped by a figure
advancing from the corner of the house.

This was not a graceful figure, as of gentle maiden, nor venerable and
slow of foot, as that of an ancient mariner, but a man in the prime of
strength, and largely endowed with that blessing--the mate of truth.
Carne perceived that he had met his equal, and perhaps his better, in a
bout of muscle, and he tried to escape by superior mind.

"Twemlow, how glad I am that I have met you! You are the very man I
wanted. There has been a sad accident in there with one of the Admiral's
pistols, and the dear old man is badly wounded. I am off for a doctor,
for my horse is at hand. For God's sake run in, and hold his head up,
and try to staunch the bleeding. I shall be back in half an hour with
the man that lives at Pebbleridge. Don't lose a moment. Particulars
hereafter."

"Particulars now!" replied Twemlow, sternly, as he planted himself
before his cousin. "For years I have lived among liars, and they called
a lie Crom, and worshipped it. If this is not Crom, why did you bolt the
door?"

"You shall answer for this, when time allows. If the door was bolted, he
must have done it. Let me pass; the last chance depends on my speed."

Carne made a rush to pass, but Twemlow caught him by the breast, and
held him. "Come back," he said, fiercely, "and prove your words. Without
that, you go no further."

Carne seized him by the throat, but his mighty beard, like a collar of
hemp, protected him, and he brought his big brown fist like a hammer
upon the traitor's forehead. Carne wrenched at his dagger, but failed to
draw it, and the two strong men rolled on the grass, fighting like two
bull-dogs. Reason, and thought, and even sense of pain were lost in
brutal fury, as they writhed, and clutched, and dug at one another,
gashing their knuckles, and gnashing their teeth, frothing with one
another's blood, for Carne bit like a tiger. At length tough condition
and power of endurance got the mastery, and Twemlow planted his knee
upon the gasping breast of Carne.

"Surrend," he said, for his short breath could not fetch up the third
syllable; and Carne with a sign of surrender lay on his back, and
put his chin up, and shut his eyes as if he had fainted. Twemlow with
self-congratulation waited a little to recover breath, still keeping
his knee in the post of triumph, and pinning the foe's right arm to his
side. But the foe's left hand was free, and with the eyes still shut,
and a continuance of gasping, that left hand stole its way to the left
pocket, quietly drew forth the second pistol, pressed back the hammer on
the grass, and with a flash (both of eyes and of flint) fired into the
victor's forehead. The triumphant knee rolled off the chest, the body
swung over, as a log is rolled by the woodman's crowbar, and Twemlow's
back was on the grass, and his eyes were closed to the moonlight.

Carne scrambled up and shook himself, to be sure that all his limbs were
sound. "Ho, ho, ho!" he chuckled; "it is not so easy to beat me. Why,
who are you? Down with you, then!"

Lord Robert Chancton, a lad of about sixteen, the eldest son of
the Marquis, had lost his way inside the house, in trying to find a
short-cut to the door, and coming up after the pistol was fired, made a
very gallant rush at the enemy. With a blow of the butt Carne sent him
sprawling; then dashing among the shrubs and trees, in another minute
was in the saddle, and galloping towards the ancestral ruins.

As he struck into the main road through the grounds, Carne passed and
just missed by a turn of the bridle another horseman ascending the hill,
and urging a weary animal. The faces of the men shot past each other
within a short yard, and gaze met gaze; but neither in the dark flash
knew the other, for a big tree barred the moonlight. But Carne, in
another moment, thought that the man who had passed must be Scudamore,
probably fraught with hot tidings. And the thought was confirmed, as
he met two troopers riding as hard as ride they might; and then saw the
beacon on the headland flare. From point to point, and from height to
height, like a sprinkle of blood, the red lights ran; and the roar of
guns from the moon-lit sea made echo that they were ready. Then the
rub-a-dub-dub of the drum arose, and the thrilling blare of trumpet;
the great deep of the night was heaved and broken with the stir of human
storm; and the staunchest and strongest piece of earth--our England--was
ready to defend herself.



CHAPTER LXII

THE WAY OUT OF IT


"My father! my father! I must see my father. Who are you, that dare to
keep me out? Let me know the worst, and try to bear it. What are any of
you to him?"

"But, my dear child," Lord Southdown answered, holding the door against
poor Faith, as she strove to enter the room of death, "wait just one
minute, until we have lifted him to the sofa, and let us bring your poor
sister out."

"I have no sister. She has killed my father, and the best thing she can
do is to die. I feel that I could shoot her, if I had a pistol. Let me
see him, where he lies."

"But, my poor dear, you must think of others. Your dear father is beyond
all help. Your gallant lover lies on the grass. They hope to bring him
round, God willing! Go where you can be of use."

"How cruel you are! You must want to drive me mad. Let his father and
mother see to him, while I see to my own father. If you had a daughter,
you would understand. Am I crying? Do I even tremble?"

The Marquis offered his arm, and she took it in fear of falling, though
she did not tremble; so he led her to her father's last repose. The poor
Admiral lay by the open window, with his head upon a stool which Faith
had worked. The ghastly wound was in his broad smooth forehead, and his
fair round cheeks were white with death. But the heart had not quite
ceased to beat, and some remnant of the mind still hovered somewhere
in the lacerated brain. Stubbard, sobbing like a child, was lifting
and clumsily chafing one numb hand; while his wife, who had sponged the
wound, was making the white curls wave with a fan she had shaped from a
long official paper found upon the floor.

Dolly was recovering from her swoon, and sat upon a stool by the
bookcase, faintly wondering what had happened, but afraid to ask or
think. The corner of the bookcase, and the burly form of Stubbard,
concealed the window from her, and the torpid oppression which ensues
upon a fit lay between her and her agony. Faith, as she passed, darted
one glance at her, not of pity, not of love, but of cold contempt and
satisfaction at her misery.

Then Faith, the quiet and gentle maid, the tranquil and the
self-controlled (whom every one had charged with want of heart, because
she had borne her own grief so well), stood with the body of her father
at her feet, and uttered an exceeding bitter cry. The others had seen
enough of grief, as every human being must, but nothing half so sad
as this. They feared to look at her face, and durst not open lips to
comfort her.

"Don't speak. Don't look at him. You have no right here. When he comes
to himself, he will want none but me. I have always done everything for
him since dear mother died; and I shall get him to sit up. He will be
so much better when he sits up. I can get him to do it, if you will
only go. Oh, father, father, it is your own Faith come to make you well,
dear, if you will only look at me!"

As she took his cold limp hand and kissed it, and wiped a red splash
from his soft white hair, the dying man felt, by nature's feeling, that
he was being touched by a child of his. A faint gleam flitted through
the dimness of his eyes, which he had not the power to close, and the
longing to say "farewell" contended with the drooping of the underlip.
She was sure that he whispered, "Bless you, darling!" though nobody else
could have made it out; but a sudden rush of tears improved her hearing,
as rain brings higher voices down.

"Dolly too!" he seemed to whisper next; and Faith made a sign to Mrs.
Stubbard. Then Dolly was brought, and fell upon her knees, at the other
side of her father, and did not know how to lament as yet, and was
scarcely sure of having anything to mourn. But she spread out her hands,
as if for somebody to take them, and bowed her pale face, and closed her
lips, that she might be rebuked without answering.

Her father knew her; and his yearning was not to rebuke, but to bless
and comfort her. He had forgotten everything, except that he was dying,
with a daughter at each side of him. This appeared to make him very
happy, about everything, except those two. He could not be expected
to have much mind left; but the last of it was busy for his children's
good. Once more he tried to see them both, and whispered his last
message to them--"Forgive and love each other."

Faith bowed her head, as his fell back, and silently offered to kiss her
sister; but Dolly neither moved nor looked at her. "As you please,"
said Faith; "and perhaps you would like to see a little more of your
handiwork."

For even as she spoke, her lover's body was carried past the window,
with his father and mother on either side, supporting his limp arms and
sobbing. Then Dolly arose, and with one hand grasping the selvage of
the curtain, fixed one long gaze upon her father's corpse. There were
no tears in her eyes, no sign of anguish in her face, no proof that she
knew or felt what she had done. And without a word she left the room.

"Hard to the last, even hard to you!" cried Faith, as her tears fell
upon the cold forehead. "Oh, darling, how could you have loved her so?"

"It is not hardness; it is madness. Follow your sister," Lord Southdown
said. "We have had calamities enough."

But Faith was fighting with all her strength against an attack of
hysterics, and fetching long gasps to control herself. "I will go,"
replied Mrs. Stubbard; "this poor child is quite unfit. What on earth is
become of Lady Scudamore? A doctor's widow might have done some good."

The doctor's widow was doing good elsewhere. In the first rush from the
dining-room, Lady Scudamore had been pushed back by no less a person
than Mrs. Stubbard; when at last she reached the study door she found
it closed against her, and entering the next room, saw the flash of the
pistol fired at Twemlow. Bravely hurrying to the spot by the nearest
outlet she could find, she became at once entirely occupied with this
new disaster. For two men who ran up with a carriage lamp declared that
the gentleman was as dead as a door-nail, and hastened to make good
their words by swinging him up heels over head. But the lady made them
set him down and support his head, while she bathed the wound, and sent
to the house for his father and mother, and when he could be safely
brought in-doors, helped with her soft hands beneath his hair, and then
became so engrossed with him that the arrival of her long-lost son was
for several hours unknown to her.

For so many things coming all at once were enough to upset any one.
Urgent despatches came hot for the hand that now was cold for ever; not
a moment to lose, when time had ceased for the man who was to urge it.
There were plenty of officers there, but no one clearly entitled to take
command. Moreover, the public service clashed with the personal rage of
the moment. Some were for rushing to the stables, mounting every horse
that could be found, and scouring the country, sword in hand, for that
infernal murderer. Some, having just descried the flash of beacon from
the headland, and heard the alarm-guns from shore and sea, were for
hurrying to their regiments, or ships, or homes and families (according
to the head-quarters of their life), while others put their coats on
to ride for all the doctors in the county, who should fetch back
the Admiral to this world, that he might tell everybody what to do.
Scudamore stood with his urgent despatches in the large well-candled
hall, and vainly desired to deliver them. "Send for the Marquis,"
suggested some one.

Lord Southdown came, without being sent for. "I shall take this duty
upon myself," he said, "as Lord-Lieutenant of the county. Captain
Stubbard, as commander of the nearest post, will come with me and read
these orders. Gentlemen, see that your horses are ready, and have all
of the Admiral's saddled. Captain Scudamore, you have discharged your
trust, and doubtless ridden far and hard. My orders to you are a bottle
of wine and a sirloin of roast beef at once."

For the sailor was now in very low condition, weary, and worried, and in
want of food. Riding express, and changing horses twice, not once had he
recruited the inner man, who was therefore quite unfit to wrestle with
the power of sudden grief. When he heard of the Admiral's death, he
staggered as if a horse had stumbled under him, and his legs being stiff
from hard sticking to saddle, had as much as they could do to hold him
up. Yet he felt that he could not do the right thing now, he could not
go and deal with the expedient victuals, neither might he dare intrude
upon the ladies now; so he went out to comfort himself by attending to
the troubles of his foundered horse, and by shedding unseen among the
trees the tears which had gathered in his gentle eyes.

According to the surest law of nature, that broken-down animal had been
forgotten as soon as he was done with. He would have given his four
legs--if he could legally dispose of them--for a single draught of
sweet delicious rapturous ecstatic water; but his bloodshot eyes sought
vainly, and his welted tongue found nothing wet, except the flakes of
his own salt foam. Until, with the help of the moon, a sparkle (worth
more to his mind than all the diamonds he could draw)--a sparkle of the
purest water gleamed into his dim eyes from the distance. Recalling to
his mind's eyes the grand date of his existence when he was a colt, and
had a meadow to himself, with a sparkling river at the end of it, he set
forth in good faith, and, although his legs were weary, "negotiated"--as
the sporting writers say--the distance between him and the object of
his desire. He had not the least idea that this had cost ten guineas--as
much as his own good self was worth; for it happened to be the first
dahlia seen in that part of the country. That gaudy flower at its first
appearance made such a stir among gardeners that Mr. Swipes gave the
Admiral no peace until he allowed him to order one. And so great was
this gardener's pride in his profession that he would not take an order
for a rooted slip or cutting, from the richest man in the neighbourhood,
for less than half a guinea. Therefore Mr. Swipes was attending to the
plant with the diligence of a wet-nurse, and the weather being dry, he
had soaked it overhead, even before he did that duty to himself.

A man of no teeth can take his nourishment in soup; and nature,
inverting her manifold devices--which she would much rather do than be
beaten--has provided that a horse can chew his solids into liquids, if
there is a drop of juice in their composition, when his artificial life
has failed to supply him with the bucket. This horse, being very dry,
laid his tongue to the water-drops that sparkled on the foliage. He
found them delicious, and he longed for more, and very soon his ready
mind suggested that the wet must have come out of the leaves, and there
must be more there. Proceeding on this argument, he found it quite
correct, and ten guineas' worth of dahlia was gone into his stomach by
the time that Captain Scudamore came courteously to look after him.

Blyth, in equal ignorance of his sumptuous repast, gave him a pat of
approval, and was turning his head towards the stable yard, when he
saw a white figure gliding swiftly through the trees beyond the belt
of shrubbery. Weary and melancholy as he was, and bewildered with the
tumult of disasters, his heart bounded hotly as he perceived that the
figure was that of his Dolly--Dolly, the one love of his life, stealing
forth, probably to mourn alone the loss of her beloved father. As yet
he knew nothing of her share in that sad tale, and therefore felt no
anxiety at first about her purpose. He would not intrude upon her grief;
he had no right to be her comforter; but still she should have some one
to look after her, at that time of night, and with so much excitement
and danger in the air. So the poor horse was again abandoned to his own
resources, and being well used to such treatment, gazed as wistfully and
delicately after the young man Scudamore as that young man gazed after
his lady-love.

To follow a person stealthily is not conducive to one's self-respect,
but something in the lady's walk and gesture impelled the young sailor
to follow her. She appeared to be hastening, with some set purpose, and
without any heed of circumstance, towards a part of the grounds where
no house was, no living creature for company, nor even a bench to rest
upon. There was no foot-path in that direction, nor anything to go to,
but the inland cliff that screened the Hall from northeastern winds,
and at its foot a dark pool having no good name in the legends of the
neighbourhood. Even Parson Twemlow would not go near it later than the
afternoon milking of the cows, and Captain Zeb would much rather face
a whole gale of wind in a twelve-foot boat than give one glance at its
dead calm face when the moon like a ghost stood over it.

"She is going towards Corpse-walk pit," thought Scuddy--"a cheerful
place at this time of night! She might even fall into it unawares, in
her present state of distraction. I am absolutely bound to follow her."

Duty fell in with his wishes, as it has a knack of doing. Forgetting his
weariness, he followed, and became more anxious at every step. For the
maiden walked as in a dream, without regard of anything, herself more
like a vision than a good substantial being. To escape Mrs. Stubbard she
had gone upstairs and locked herself in her bedroom, and then slipped
out without changing dress, but throwing a dark mantle over it. This had
fallen off, and she had not cared to stop or think about it, but went on
to her death exactly as she went in to dinner. Her dress of white silk
took the moonlight with a soft gleam like itself, and her clustering
curls (released from fashion by the power of passion) fell, like the
shadows, on her sweet white neck. But she never even asked herself how
she looked; she never turned round to admire her shadow: tomorrow she
would throw no shade, but be one; and how she looked, or what she was,
would matter, to the world she used to think so much of, never more.

Suddenly she passed from the moonlight into the blackness of a lonely
thicket, and forced her way through it, without heed of bruise or rent.
At the bottom of the steep lay the long dark pit, and she stood upon
the brink and gazed into it. To a sane mind nothing could look less
inviting. All above was air and light, freedom of the wind and play of
moon with summer foliage; all below was gloom and horror, cold eternal
stillness, and oblivion everlasting. Even the new white frock awoke no
flutter upon that sullen breast.

Dolly heaved a sigh and shuddered, but she did not hesitate. Her mind
was wandering, but her heart was fixed to make atonement, to give its
life for the life destroyed, and to lie too deep for shame or sorrow.
Suddenly a faint gleam caught her eyes. The sob of self-pity from her
fair young breast had brought into view her cherished treasures, bright
keepsakes of the girlish days when many a lover worshipped her. Taking
from her neck the silken braid, she kissed them, and laid them on the
bank. "They were all too good for me," she thought; "they shall not
perish with me."

Then, with one long sigh, she called up all her fleeting courage, and
sprang upon a fallen trunk which overhung the water. "There will be no
Dan to save me now," she said as she reached the end of it. "Poor Dan!
He will be sorry for me. This is the way out of it."

Her white satin shoes for a moment shone upon the black bark of the
tree, and, with one despairing prayer to Heaven, she leaped into the
liquid grave.

Dan was afar, but another was near, who loved her even more than Dan.
Blyth Scudamore heard the plunge, and rushed to the brink of the pit,
and tore his coat off. For a moment he saw nothing but black water
heaving silently; then something white appeared, and moved, and a faint
cry arose, and a hopeless struggle with engulfing death began.

"Keep still, don't struggle, only spread your arms, and throw your head
back as far as you can," he cried, as he swam with long strokes towards
her. But if she heard, she could not heed, as the lights of the deep sky
came and went, and the choking water flashed between, and gurgled into
her ears and mouth, and smothered her face with her own long hair.
She dashed her poor helpless form about, and flung out her feet for
something solid, and grasped in dim agony at the waves herself had made.
Then her dress became heavily bagged with water, and the love of life
was quenched, and the night of death enveloped her. Without a murmur,
down she went, and the bubbles of her breath came up.

Scudamore uttered a bitter cry, for his heart was almost broken--within
an arm's-length of his love, and she was gone for ever! For the moment
he did not perceive that the clasp of despair must have drowned them
both. Pointing his hands and throwing up his heels, he made one vain
dive after her, then he knew that the pit was too deep for the bottom
to be reached in that way. He swam to the trunk from which Dolly had
leaped, and judging the distance by the sullen ripple, dashed in with
a dive like a terrified frog. Like a bullet he sank to the bottom, and
groped with three fathoms of water above him. Just as his lungs were
giving out, he felt something soft and limp and round. Grasping this
by the trailing hair, he struck mightily up for the surface, and drew a
long breath, and sustained above water the head that fell back upon his
panting breast.

Some three hours later, Dolly Darling lay in her own little bed, as pale
as death, but sleeping the sleep of the world that sees the sun; while
her only sister knelt by her side, weeping the tears of a higher world
than that. "How could I be so brutal, and so hard?" sobbed Faith.
"If father has seen it, will he ever forgive me? His last words
were--'forgive, and love.'"



CHAPTER LXIII

THE FATAL STEP


As Carne rode up the hill that night towards his ruined castle, the
flush of fierce excitement and triumphant struggle died away, and
self-reproach and miserable doubt struck into him like ague. For the
death of Twemlow--as he supposed--he felt no remorse whatever. Him he
had shot in furious combat, and as a last necessity; the fellow had
twice insulted him, and then insolently collared him. And Faith, who had
thwarted him with Dolly, and been from the first his enemy, now would
have to weep and wail, and waste her youth in constancy. All that was
good; but he could not regard with equal satisfaction the death of the
ancient Admiral. The old man had brought it upon himself by his stupid
stubbornness; and looking fairly upon that matter, Carne scarcely saw
how to blame himself. Still, it was a most unlucky thing, and must lead
to a quantity of mischief. To-morrow, or at the latest Monday, was to
have crowned with grand success his years of toil and danger. There
still might be the landing, and he would sail that night to hasten it,
instead of arranging all ashore; but it could no longer be a triumph of
crafty management. The country was up, the Admiral's death would
spread the alarm and treble it; and worst of all, in the hot pursuit of
himself, which was sure to follow when people's wits came back to them,
all the stores and ammunition, brought together by so much skill and
patience and hardihood, must of necessity be discovered and fall into
the hands of the enemy. Farewell to his long-cherished hope of specially
neat retribution, to wit, that the ruins of his family should be the
ruin of the land which had rejected him! Then a fierce thought crossed
his mind, and became at once a stern resolve. If he could never restore
Carne Castle, and dwell there in prosperity, neither should any of his
oppressors. The only trace of his ancestral home should be a vast black
hole in earth.

For even if the landing still succeeded, and the country were subdued,
he could never make his home there, after what he had done to-night.
Dolly was lost to him for ever; and although he had loved her with all
the ardor he could spare from his higher purposes, he must make up his
mind to do without her, and perhaps it was all the better for him. If
he had married her, no doubt he could soon have taught her her proper
place; but no one could tell how she might fly out, through her
self-will and long indulgence. He would marry a French woman; that would
be the best; perhaps one connected with the Empress Josephine. As soon
as he had made up his mind to this, his conscience ceased to trouble
him.

From the crest of the hill at the eastern gate many a bend of shore was
clear, and many a league of summer sea lay wavering in the moonlight.
Along the beach red torches flared, as men of the Coast-Defence pushed
forth, and yellow flash of cannon inland signalled for the Volunteers,
while the lights gleamed (like windows opened from the depth) where
sloop and gun-boat, frigate and ship of the line, were crowding sail
to rescue England. For the semaphore, and when day was out the
beacon-lights, had glowed along the backbone of the English hills, and
England called every Englishman to show what he was made of.

"That will do. Enough of that, John Bull!" Defying his native land,
Carne shook his fist in the native manner. "Stupid old savage, I shall
live to make you howl. This country has become too hot to hold me, and
I'll make it hotter before I have done. Here, Orso and Leo, good dogs,
good dogs! You can kill a hundred British bull-dogs. Mount guard for
an hour, till I call you down the hill. You can pull down a score of
Volunteers apiece, if they dare to come after me. I have an hour to
spare, and I know how to employ it. Jerry, old Jerry Bowles, stir your
crooked shanks. What are you rubbing your blear eyes at?"

The huge boar-hounds, who obeyed no voice but his, took post upon the
rugged road (which had never been repaired since the Carnes were a power
in the land), and sat side by side beneath the crumbling arch,
with their long fangs glistening and red eyes rolling in the silver
moonlight, while their deep chests panted for the chance of good fresh
human victuals. Then Carne gave his horse to ancient Jerry, saying,
"Feed him, and take him with his saddle on to the old yew-tree in half
an hour. Wait there for Captain Charron, and for me. You are not to go
away till I come to you. Who is in the old place now? Think well before
you answer me."

"No one now in the place but her"--the old man lifted his elbow, as
a coachman does in passing--"and him down in the yellow jug. All the
French sailors are at sea. Only she won't go away; and she moaneth
worse than all the owls and ghosts. Ah, your honour should never 'a done
that--respectable folk to Springhaven too!"

"It was a slight error of judgment, Jerry. What a mealy lot these
English are, to make such a fuss about a trifle! But I am too
soft-hearted to blow her up. Tell her to meet me in half an hour by the
broken dial, and to bring the brat, and all her affairs in a bundle such
as she can carry, or kick down the hill before her. In half an hour, do
you understand? And if you care for your stiff old bones, get out of the
way by that time."

In that half-hour Carne gathered in small compass, and strapped up in a
little "mail"--as such light baggage then was called--all his important
documents, despatches, letters, and papers of every kind, and the cash
he was entrusted with, which he used to think safer at Springhaven. Then
he took from a desk which was fixed to the wall a locket bright with
diamonds, and kissed it, and fastened it beneath his neck-cloth. The
wisp of hair inside it came not from any young or lovely head, but from
the resolute brow of his mother, the woman who hated England. He should
have put something better to his mouth; for instance, a good beef
sandwich. But one great token of his perversion was that he never did
feed well--a sure proof of the unrighteous man, as suggested by the
holy Psalmist, and more distinctly put by Livy in the character he gives
Hannibal.

Regarding as a light thing his poor unfurnished stomach, Carne mounted
the broken staircase, in a style which might else have been difficult.
He had made up his mind to have one last look at the broad lands of his
ancestors, from the last that ever should be seen of the walls they had
reared and ruined. He stood upon the highest vantage-point that he could
attain with safety, where a shaggy gnarl of the all-pervading ivy served
as a friendly stay. To the right and left and far behind him all had
once been their domain--every tree, and meadow, and rock that faced the
moon, had belonged to his ancestors. "Is it a wonder that I am fierce?"
he cried, with unwonted self-inspection; "who, that has been robbed as
I have, would not try to rob in turn? The only thing amazing is my
patience and my justice. But I will come back yet, and have my revenge."

Descending to his hyena den--as Charron always called it--he caught
up his packet, and took a lantern, and a coil of tow which had been
prepared, and strode forth for the last time into the sloping court
behind the walls. Passing towards the eastern vaults, he saw the form of
some one by the broken dial, above the hedge of brambles, which had
once been of roses and sweetbriar. "Oh, that woman! I had forgotten that
affair!" he muttered, with annoyance, as he pushed through the thorns to
meet her.

Polly Cheeseman, the former belle of Springhaven, was leaning against
the wrecked dial, with a child in her arms and a bundle at her feet.
Her pride and gaiety had left her now, and she looked very wan through
frequent weeping, and very thin from nursing. Her beauty (like her
friends) had proved unfaithful under shame and sorrow, and little of
it now remained except the long brown tresses and the large blue eyes.
Those eyes she fixed upon Carne with more of terror than of love in
them; although the fear was such as turns with a very little kindness to
adoring love.

Carne left her to begin, for he really was not without shame in this
matter; and Polly was far better suited than Dolly for a scornful and
arrogant will like his. Deeply despising all the female race--as the
Greek tragedian calls them--save only the one who had given him to the
world, he might have been a God to Polly if he had but behaved as a
man to her. She looked at him now with an imploring gaze, from the
gentleness of her ill-used heart.

Their child, a fine boy about ten months old, broke the silence by
saying "booh, booh," very well, and holding out little hands to his
father, who had often been scornfully kind to him.

"Oh, Caryl, Caryl, you will never forsake him!" cried the young mother,
holding him up with rapture, and supporting his fat arms in that
position; "he is the very image of you, and he seems to know it. Baby,
say 'Da-da.' There, he has put his mouth up, and his memory is so
wonderful! Oh, Caryl, what do you think of that--and the first time of
trying it by moonlight?"

"There is no time for this nonsense, Polly. He is a wonderful baby,
I dare say; and so is every baby, till he gets too old. You must obey
orders, and be off with him."

"Oh no! You are come to take us with you. There, I have covered his face
up, that he may not suppose you look cross at me. Oh, Caryl, you would
never leave him behind, even if you could do that to me. We are not
grand people, and you can put us anywhere, and now I am nearly as well
as ever. I have put up all his little things; it does not matter about
my own. I was never brought up to be idle, and I can earn my own living
anywhere; and it might be a real comfort for you, with the great people
going against you, to have somebody, not very grand, of course, but as
true to you as yourself, and belonging altogether to you. I know many
people who would give their eyes for such a baby."

"There is no time for this," Carne answered, sternly; "my arrangements
are made, and I cannot take you. I have no fault to find with you, but
argument is useless."

"Yes, I know that, Caryl; and I am sure that I never would attempt to
argue with you. You should have everything your own way, and I could
attend to so many things that no man ever does properly. I will be a
slave to you, and this little darling love you, and then you will feel
that you have two to love you, wherever you go, and whatever you do.
And if I spoke crossly when first I found out that--that I went away for
nothing with you, you must have forgiven me by this time, and I never
will remind you again of it; if I do, send me back to the place I belong
to. I belong to you now, Caryl, and so does he; and when we are away
from the people who know me, I shall be pleasant and cheerful again. I
was only two-and-twenty the day the boats came home last week, and they
used to say the young men jumped into the water as soon as they caught
sight of me. Try to be kind to me, and I shall be so happy that I shall
look almost as I used to do, when you said that the great ladies might
be grander, but none of them fit to look into my looking-glass. Dear
Caryl, I am ready; I don't care where it is, or what I may have to put
up with, so long as you will make room for your Polly, and your baby."

"I am not at all a hard man," said Carne, retreating as the impulsive
Polly offered him the baby, "but once for all, no more of this. I have
quite forgiven any strong expressions you may have made use of when your
head was light; and if all goes well, I shall provide for you and the
child, according to your rank in life. But now you must run down the
hill, if you wish to save your life and his."

"I have run down the hill already. I care not a pin for my own life;
and hard as you are you would never have the heart to destroy your
own little Caryl. He may be called Caryl--you will not deny him that,
although he has no right to be called Carne. Oh, Caryl, Caryl, you can
be so good, when you think there is something to gain by it. Only be
good to us now, and God will bless you for it, darling. I have given up
all the world for you, and you cannot have the heart to cast me off."

"What a fool the woman is! Have you ever known me change my mind? If
you scorn your own life, through your own folly, you must care for the
brat's. If you stop here ten minutes, you will both be blown to pieces."

"Through my own folly! Oh, God in heaven, that you should speak so of my
love for you! Squire Carne, you are the worst man that ever lived; and
it serves me right for trusting you. But where am I to go? Who will take
me and support me, and my poor abandoned child?"

"Your parents, of course, are your natural supporters. You are hurting
your child by this low abuse of me. Now put aside excitement, and run
home, like a sensible woman, before your good father goes to bed."

She had watched his face all the time, as if she could scarcely believe
that he was in earnest, but he proved it by leaving her with a wave of
his hat, and hastening back to his lantern. Then taking up that, and the
coil of tow, but leaving his package against the wall, he disappeared
in the narrow passage leading to the powder vaults. Polly stood still
by the broken dial, with her eyes upon the moon, and her arms around
the baby, and a pang in her heart which prevented her from speaking, or
moving, or even knowing where she was.

Then Carne, stepping warily, unlocked the heavy oak door at the entrance
of the cellarage, held down his lantern, and fixed with a wedge the top
step of the ladder, which had been made to revolve with a pin and collar
at either end, as before described. After trying the step with his hand,
to be sure that it was now wedged safely, he flung his coil into the
vault and followed. Some recollection made him smile as he was going
down the steps: it was that of a stout man lying at the bottom, shaken
in every bone, yet sound as a grape ensconced in jelly. As he touched
the bottom he heard a little noise as of some small substance falling,
but seeing a piece of old mortar dislodged, he did not turn round to
examine the place. If he had done so he would have found behind the
ladder the wedge he had just inserted to secure the level of the
"Inspector's step."

Unwinding his coil of tow, which had been steeped in saltpetre to make
a long fuse, with a toss of his long legs he crossed the barricade of
solid oak rails about six feet high securely fastened across the vault,
for the enclosure of the dangerous storage. Inside it was a passage,
between chests of arms, dismounted cannon, and cases from every
department of supply, to the explosive part of the magazine,
the devourer of the human race, the pulp of the marrow of the
Furies--gunpowder.

Of this there was now collected here, and stored in tiers that reached
the roof, enough to blow up half the people of England, or lay them
all low with a bullet before it; yet not enough, not a millionth part
enough, to move for the breadth of a hair the barrier betwixt right
and wrong, which a very few barrels are enough to do with a man who has
sapped the foundations. Treading softly for fear of a spark from his
boots, and guarding the lantern well, Carne approached one of the casks
in the lower tier, and lifted the tarpaulin. Then he slipped the wooden
slide in the groove, and allowed some five or six pounds to run out upon
the floor, from which the cask was raised by timber baulks. Leaving the
slide partly open, he spread one end of his coil like a broad lamp-wick
in the pile of powder which had run out, and put a brick upon the tow
to keep it from shifting. Then he paid out the rest of the coil on the
floor like a snake some thirty feet long, with the tail about a yard
inside the barricade. With a very steady hand he took the candle from
inside the horn, and kindled that tail of the fuse; and then replacing
his light, he recrossed the open timber-work, and swiftly remounted the
ladder of escape. "Twenty minutes' or half an hour's grace," he thought,
"and long before that I shall be at the yew-tree."

But, as he planted his right foot sharply upon the top step of the
ladder, that step swung back, and cast him heavily backwards to the
bottom. The wedge had dropped out, and the step revolved like the
treadle of a fox-trap.

For a minute or two he lay stunned and senseless, with the lantern
before him on its side, and the candle burning a hole in the bubbly
horn. Slowly recovering his wits, he strove to rise, as the deadly peril
was borne in upon him. But instead of rising, he fell back again with a
curse, and then a long-drawn groan; for pain (like the thrills of a man
on the rack) had got hold of him and meant to keep him. His right arm
was snapped at the elbow, and his left leg just above the knee, and the
jar of his spine made him feel as if his core had been split out of him.
He had no fat, like Shargeloes, to protect him, and no sheath of hair
like Twemlow's.

Writhing with anguish, he heard a sound which did not improve his
condition. It was the spluttering of the fuse, eating its merry way
towards the five hundred casks of gunpowder. In the fury of peril he
contrived to rise, and stood on his right foot with the other hanging
limp, while he stayed himself with his left hand upon the ladder. Even
if he could crawl up this, it would benefit him nothing. Before he
could drag himself ten yards, the explosion would overtake him. His only
chance was to quench the fuse, or draw it away from the priming. With
a hobble of agony he reached the barricade, and strove to lift his
crippled frame over it. It was hopeless; the power of his back was gone,
and his limbs were unable to obey his brain. Then he tried to crawl
through at the bottom, but the opening of the rails would not admit his
body, and the train of ductile fire had left only ash for him to grasp
at.

Quivering with terror, and mad with pain, he returned to the foot of the
steps, and clung till a gasp of breath came back. Then he shouted, with
all his remaining power, "Polly, oh, Polly, my own Polly!"

Polly had been standing, like a statue of despair, beside the broken
dial. To her it mattered little whether earth should open and swallow
her, or fire cast her up to heaven. But his shout aroused her from
this trance, and her heart leaped up with the fond belief that he had
relented, and was calling her and the child to share his fortunes. There
she stood in the archway and looked down, and the terror of the scene
overwhelmed her. Through a broken arch beyond the barricade pale
moonbeams crossed the darkness, like the bars of some soft melody; in
the middle the serpent coil was hissing with the deadly nitre; at
the foot of the steps was her false lover--husband he had called
himself--with his hat off, and his white face turned in the last
supplication towards her, as hers had been turned towards him just now.
Should a woman be as pitiless as a man?

"Come down, for God's sake, and climb that cursed wood, and pull back
the fuse, pull it back from the powder. Oh, Polly! and then we will go
away together."

"It is too late. I will not risk my baby. You have made me so weak that
I could never climb that fence. You are blowing up the castle which you
promised to my baby; but you shall not blow up him. You told me to run
away, and run I must. Good-bye; I am going to my natural supporters."

Carne heard her steps as she fled, and he fancied that he heard
therewith a mocking laugh, but it was a sob, a hysterical sob. She would
have helped him, if she dared; but her wits were gone in panic. She knew
not of his shattered limbs and horrible plight; and it flashed across
her that this was another trick of his--to destroy her and the baby,
while he fled. She had proved that all his vows were lies.

Then Carne made his mind up to die like a man, for he saw that escape
was impossible. Limping back to the fatal barrier, he raised himself
to his full height, and stood proudly to see, as he put it, the last
of himself. Not a quiver of his haughty features showed the bodily pain
that racked him, nor a flinch of his deep eyes confessed the tumult
moving in his mind and soul. He pulled out his watch and laid it on the
top rail of the old oak fence: there was not enough light to read the
time, but he could count the ticks he had to live. Suddenly hope flashed
through his heart, like the crack of a gun, like a lightning fork--a big
rat was biting an elbow of the yarn where some tallow had fallen upon
it. Would he cut it, would he drag it away to his hole? would he pull it
a little from its fatal end? He was strong enough to do it, if he only
understood. The fizz of saltpetre disturbed the rat, and he hoisted his
tail and skipped back to his home.

The last thoughts of this unhappy man went back upon his early days; and
things, which he had passed without thinking of, stood before him like
his tombstone. None of his recent crimes came now to his memory to
disturb it--there was time enough after the body for them--but trifles
which had first depraved the mind, and slips whose repetition had made
slippery the soul, like the alphabet of death, grew plain to him. Then
he thought of his mother, and crossed himself, and said a little prayer
to the Virgin.

               *     *     *     *     *

Charron was waiting by the old yew-tree, and Jerry sat trembling, with
his eyes upon the castle, while the black horse, roped to a branch, was
mourning the scarcity of oats and the abundance of gnats.

"Pest and the devil, but the coast is all alive!" cried the Frenchman,
soothing anxiety with solid and liquid comforts. "Something has gone
wrong behind the tail of everything. And there goes that big Stoobar,
blazing with his sordid battery! Arouse thee, old Cheray! The time too
late is over. Those lights thrice accursed will display our little boat,
and John Bull is rushing with a thousand sails. The Commander is mad.
They will have him, and us too. Shall I dance by a rope? It is the only
dancing probable for me in England."

"I have never expected any good to come," the old man answered, without
moving. "The curse of the house is upon the young Squire. I saw it in
his eyes this morning, the same as I saw in his father's eyes, when the
sun was going down the very night he died. I shall never see him more,
sir, nor you either, nor any other man that bides to the right side of
his coffin."

"Bah! what a set you are of funerals, you Englishmen! But if I thought
he was in risk, I would stay to see the end of it."

"Here comes the end of it!" the old man cried, leaping up and catching
at a rugged cord of trunk, with his other hand pointing up the hill.
From the base of the castle a broad blaze rushed, showing window and
battlement, arch and tower, as in a flicker of the Northern lights. Then
up went all the length of fabric, as a wanton child tosses his Noah's
ark. Keep and buttress, tower and arch, mullioned window and battlement,
in a fiery furnace leaped on high, like the outburst of a volcano. Then,
with a roar that rocked the earth, they broke into a storm of ruin,
sweeping the heavens with a flood of fire, and spreading the sea with
a mantle of blood. Following slowly in stately spires, and calmly
swallowing everything, a fountain of dun smoke arose, and solemn silence
filled the night.

"All over now, thank the angels and the saints! My faith, but I made up
my mind to join them," cried Charron, who had fallen, or been felled by
the concussion. "Cheray, art thou still alive? The smoke is in my neck.
I cannot liberate my words, but the lumps must be all come down by this
time, without adding to the weight of our poor brains. Something fell in
this old tree, a long way up, as high as where the crows build. It
was like a long body, with one leg and one arm. I hope it was not the
Commander; but one thing is certain--he is gone to heaven. Let us pray
that he may stop there, if St. Peter admits a man who was selling the
keys of his country to the enemy. But we must do duty to ourselves, my
Cheray. Let us hasten to the sea, and give the signal for the boat. La
Torche will be a weak light after this."

"I will not go. I will abide my time." The old man staggered to a broken
column of the ancient gateway which had fallen near them, and flung his
arms around it. "I remember this since I first could toddle. The ways of
the Lord are wonderful."

"Come away, you old fool," cried the Frenchman; "I hear the tramp of
soldiers in the valley. If they catch you here, it will be drum-head
work, and you will swing before morning in the ruins."

"I am very old. My time is short. I would liefer hang from an English
beam than deal any more with your outlandish lot."

"Farewell to thee, then! Thou art a faithful clod. Here are five guineas
for thee, of English stamp. I doubt if napoleons shall ever be coined in
England."

He was off while he might--a gallant Frenchman, and an honest enemy;
such as our country has respected always, and often endeavoured to turn
into fast friends. But the old man stood and watched the long gap, where
for centuries the castle of the Carnes had towered. And his sturdy faith
was rewarded.

"I am starving"--these words came feebly from a gaunt, ragged figure
that approached him. "For three days my food has been forgotten; and
bad as it was, I missed it. There came a great rumble, and my walls fell
down. Ancient Jerry, I can go no further. I am empty as a shank bone
when the marrow-toast is serving. Your duty was to feed me, with
inferior stuff at any rate."

"No, sir, no;" the old servitor was roused by the charge of neglected
duty. "Sir Parsley, it was no fault of mine whatever. Squire undertook
to see to all of it himself. Don't blame me, sir; don't blame me."

"Never mind the blame, but make it good," Mr. Shargeloes answered,
meagrely, for he felt as if he could never be fat again. "What do I see
there? It is like a crust of bread, but I am too weak to stoop for it."

"Come inside the tree, sir." The old man led him, as a grandsire leads a
famished child. "What a shame to starve you, and you so hearty! But the
Squire clean forgotten it, I doubt, with his foreign tricks coming to
this great blow-up. Here, sir, here; please to sit down a moment, while
I light a candle. They French chaps are so wasteful always, and always
grumbling at good English victual. Here's enough to feed a family
Captain Charron has throwed by--bread, and good mutton, and pretty near
half a ham, and a bottle or so of thin nasty foreign wine. Eat away, Sir
Parsley; why, it does me good to see you. You feeds something like an
Englishman. But you know, sir, it were all your own fault at bottom, for
coming among them foreigners a-meddling."

"You are a fine fellow. You shall be my head butler," Percival
Shargeloes replied, while he made such a meal as he never made
before, and never should make again, even when he came to be the Right
Honourable the Lord Mayor of London.



CHAPTER LXIV

WRATH AND SORROW


The two most conspicuous men of the age were saddened and cast down
just now--one by the natural kindly sorrow into which all men live for
others, till others live into it for them; and one by the petulant
turns of fortune, twisting and breaking his best-woven web. Lord Nelson
arrived at Springhaven on Monday, to show his affection for his dear
old friend; and the Emperor Napoleon, at the same time, was pacing the
opposite cliffs in grief and dudgeon.

He had taken his post on some high white land, about a league southward
of Boulogne, and with strong field-glasses, which he pettishly exchanged
in doubt of their power and truth, he was scanning all the roadways of
the shore and the trackless breadths of sea. His quick brain was burning
for despatches overland--whether from the coast road past Etaples, or
further inland by the great route from Paris, or away to the southeast
by special courier from the Austrian frontier--as well as for signals
out at sea, and the movements of the British ships, to show that his own
were coming. He had treated with disdain the suggestions of his faithful
Admiral Decres, who had feared to put the truth too plainly, that the
fleet ordered up from the west had failed, and with it the Master's
mighty scheme. Having yet to learn the lesson that his best plans might
be foiled, he was furious when doubt was cast upon this pet design. Like
a giant of a spider at the nucleus of his web, he watched the broad fan
of radiant threads, and the hovering of filmy woof, but without the mild
philosophy of that spider, who is versed in the very sad capriciousness
of flies.

Just within hearing (and fain to be further, in his present state of
mind) were several young officers of the staff, making little mouths at
one another, for want of better pastime, but looking as grave, when the
mighty man glanced round, as schoolboys do under the master's eye.
"Send Admiral Decres to me," the Emperor shouted, as he laid down his
telescope and returned to his petulant to-and-fro.

In a few minutes Admiral Decres arrived, and after a salute which was
not acknowledged, walked in silence at his master's side. The great man,
talking to himself aloud, and reviling almost every one except himself,
took no more notice of his comrade for some minutes than if he had been
a poodle keeping pace with him. Then he turned upon him fiercely, with
one hand thrown out, as if he would have liked to strike him.

"What then is the meaning of all this?" He spoke too fast for the other
to catch all his words. "You have lost me three days of it. How much
longer will you conceal your knowledge? Carne's scheme has failed,
through treachery--probably his own. I never liked the man. He wanted to
be the master of me--of me! I can do without him; it is all the better,
if my fleet will come. I have three fleets, besides these. Any one of
them would do. They would do, if even half their crews were dead, so
long as they disturbed the enemy. You know where Villeneuve is, but you
will not tell me."

"I told your Majesty what I thought," M. Decres replied, with dignity,
"but it did not please you to listen to me. Shall I now tell your
Majesty what I know?"

"Ha! You have dared to have secret despatches! You know more of the
movements of my fleets than I do! You have been screening him all along.
Which of you is the worse traitor?"

"Your Majesty will regret these words. Villeneuve and myself are devoted
to you. I have not heard from him. I have received no despatches. But in
a private letter just received, which is here at your Majesty's service,
I find these words, which your Majesty can see. 'From my brother on
the Spanish coast I have just heard. Admiral Villeneuve has sailed for
Cadiz, believing Nelson to be in chase of him. My brother saw the whole
fleet crowding sail southward. No doubt it is the best thing they could
do. If they came across Nelson, they would be knocked to pieces.'
Your Majesty, that is an opinion only; but it seems to be shared by M.
Villeneuve."

Napoleon's wrath was never speechless--except upon one great
occasion--and its outburst put every other in the wrong, even while he
knew that he was in the right. Regarding Decres with a glare of fury,
such as no other eyes could pour, or meet--a glare as of burnished steel
fired from a cannon--he drove him out of every self-defence or shelter,
and shattered him in the dust of his own principles. It was not the
difference of rank between them, but the difference in the power of
their minds, that chased like a straw before the wind the very stable
senses of the man who understood things. He knew that he was right, but
the right was routed, and away with it flew all capacity of reason in
the pitiless torrent of passion, like a man in a barrel, and the barrel
in Niagara.

M. Decres knew not head from tail, in the rush of invective poured upon
him; but he took off his hat in soft search for his head, and to let in
the compliments rained upon it.

"It is good," replied the Emperor, replying to himself, as the foam
of his fury began to pass; "you will understand, Decres, that I am not
angry, but only lament that I have such a set of fools. You are not the
worst. I have bigger fools than you. Alas that I should confess it!"

Admiral Decres put his hat upon his head, for the purpose of taking it
off, to acknowledge the kindness of this compliment. It was the first
polite expression he had received for half an hour. And it would have
been the last, if he had dared to answer.

"Villeneuve cannot help it that he is a fool," continued Napoleon, in
a milder strain; "but he owes it to his rank that he should not be a
coward. Nelson is his black beast. Nelson has reduced him to a condition
of wet pulp. I shall send a braver man to supersede him. Are French
fleets forever to turn tail to an inferior force of stupid English? If
I were on the seas, I would sweep Nelson from them. Our men are far
braver, when they learn to spread their legs. As soon as I have finished
with those filthy Germans, I will take the command of the fleets myself.
It will be a bad day for that bragging Nelson. Give me pen and paper,
and send Daru to me. I must conquer the Continent once more, I suppose;
and then I will return and deal with England."

In a couple of hours he had shaped and finished the plan of a campaign
the most triumphant that even he ever planned and accomplished. Then his
mind became satisfied with good work, and he mounted his horse, and
for the last time rode through the grandest encampment the sun has ever
seen, distributing his calm smile, as if his nature were too large for
tempests.

               *     *     *     *     *

On the sacred white coast, which the greatest of Frenchmen should only
approach as a prisoner, stood a man of less imperious mould, and of
sweet and gentle presence--a man who was able to command himself in the
keenest disappointment, because he combined a quick sense of humour with
the power of prompt action, and was able to appreciate his own great
qualities without concluding that there were no other. His face, at all
times except those of hot battle, was filled with quiet sadness, as if
he were sent into the world for some great purpose beyond his knowledge,
yet surely not above his aim. Years of deep anxiety and ever urgent duty
had made him look old before his time, but in no wise abated his natural
force. He knew that he had duty before him still, and he felt that the
only discharge was death.

But now, in the tenderness of his heart, he had forgotten all about
himself, and even for the moment about his country. Nelson had taken the
last fond look at the dear old friend of many changeful years, so true
and so pleasant throughout every change. Though one eye had failed for
the work of the brain, it still was in sympathy with his heart; and a
tear shone upon either wrinkled cheek, as the uses of sadness outlast
the brighter view. He held Faith by the hand, or she held by his, as
they came forth, without knowing it, through nature's demand for an open
space, when the air is choked with sorrow.

"My dear, you must check it; you must leave off," said Nelson, although
he was going on himself. "It is useless for me to say a word to you,
because I am almost as bad myself. But still I am older, and I feel that
I ought to be able to comfort you, if I only knew the way."

"You do comfort me, more than I can tell, although you don't say
anything. For any one to sit here, and be sorry with me, makes it come
a little lighter. And when it is a man like you, Lord Nelson, I feel a
sort of love that makes me feel less bitter. Mr. Twemlow drove me wild
with a quantity of texts, and a great amount of talk about a better
land. How would he like to go to it himself, I wonder? There is a great
hole in my heart, and nothing that anybody says can fill it."

"And nothing that any one can do, my dear," her father's friend
answered, softly, "unless it is your own good self, with the kindness
of the Lord to help you. One of the best things to begin with is to help
somebody else, if you can, and lead yourself away into another person's
troubles. Is there any one here very miserable?"

"None that I can think of half so miserable as I am. There is great
excitement, but no misery. Miss Twemlow has recovered her Lord
Mayor--the gentleman that wore that extraordinary coat--oh, I forgot,
you were not here then. And although he has had a very sad time of it,
every one says that the total want of diet will be much better for him
than any mere change. I am ashamed to be talking of such trifles now;
but I respect that man, he was so straightforward. If my brother Frank
had been at all like him, we should never have been as we are this day."

"My dear, you must not blame poor Frank. He would not come down to the
dinner because he hated warlike speeches. But he has seen the error of
his ways. No more treasonable stuff for him. He thought it was large,
and poetic, and all that, like giving one's shirt to an impostor. All
of us make mistakes sometimes. I have made a great many myself, and
have always been the foremost to perceive them. But your own brave
lover--have you forgotten him? He fought like a hero, I am told;
and nothing could save his life except that he wore a new-fashioned
periwig."

"I would rather not talk of him now, Lord Nelson, although he had no
periwig. I am deeply thankful that he escaped; and no doubt did his
best, as he was bound to do. I try to be fair to everybody, but I cannot
help blaming every one, when I come to remember how blind we have been.
Captain Stubbard must have been so blind, and Mrs. Stubbard a great deal
worse, and worst of all his own aunt, Mrs. Twemlow. Oh, Lord Nelson, if
you had only stopped here, instead of hurrying away for more glory! You
saw the whole of it; you predicted everything; you even warned us
again in your last letter! And yet you must go away, and leave us to
ourselves; and this is how the whole of it has ended."

"My dear child, I will not deny that the eye of Nelson has a special
gift for piercing the wiles of the scoundrelly foe. But I was under
orders, and must go. The nation believed that it could not do without
me, although there are other men every bit as good, and in their own
opinion superior. But the enemy has never been of that opinion; and a
great deal depends upon what they think. And the rule has been always
to send me where there are many kicks but few coppers. I have never been
known to repine. We all err; but if we do our duty as your dear father
did his, the Lord will forgive us, when our enemies escape. When my time
comes, as it must do soon, there will be plenty to carp at me; but I
shall not care, if I have done