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THE BLACK HARE.
“I swear I didn't. Strike me dead, I think that our friend Mackworth is Bill, if there's been anything wrong." the most remarkable man of the lot.
“No. If I thought there had, I'd cut his throat first and yours after.” “If it had been him, Bill, you
CHAPTER XIII. wouldn't have used me like this.” Never
you mind that." “ You want to drive me mad. You do.
You hate me. Master Charles It was a glorious breezy November hates me.
Oh, I wish I was mad.” morning; the sturdy oaks alone held on “I'd sooner see you chained by the to the last brown remnants of their sumwaist in the straw, than see what I saw mer finery; all the rest of the trees to-night.” Then followed an oath. in the vast sheets of wood which
The door was rudely opened, and clothed the lower parts of the downs there entered first of all our old friend, overhanging Ravenshoe, had changed the Charles's groom, William, who seemed bright colours of autumn for the duller, beside himself with passion, and after but not less beautiful, browns and purhim a figure which struck the good ples of winter. Below, in the park, the Irishman dumb with amazement and deer were feeding among the yellow admiration—a girl as beautiful as the furze brakes, and the rabbits were basksummer morning, with her bright brown ing and hopping in the narrow patches hair tangled over her forehead, and an of slanting sun-light, which streamed expression of wild terror and wrath on through the leatless trees. Aloft, her face, such as one may conceive the on the hill, the valiant blackcock led old sculptor wished to express, when he out his wives and family from the tried, and failed, to carve the face of the whortle-grown rocks, to flaunt his plumGorgon.
in the warmest corner beneath the She glared on them both in her Tor. magnificent beauty only one moment. And the Tors, too! How they hung Yet that look, as of a lost soul out of aloft above the brown heather, which another world, mad, hopeless, defiant, was relieved here and there by patches has never past from the memory of of dead, brown, king-fern! hung aloft either of them.
like brilliant, clearly defined crystals, She was gone, in an instant, into an with such mighty breadths of light and inner room, and William was standing shadow as Sir Charles Barry never looking savagely at the priest. In an- could accomplish, though he had Westother moment his eyes had wandered minster Abbey to look at every day. to Charles, and then his face grew Up past a narrow sheep path, where smooth and quiet, and he said, - the short grass faded on the one side into
“We've been a-quarrelling, sir; don't feathery broom, and on the other into you and this good gentleman say any
brown heather and grey stone, under thing about it. Master Charles, dear, the shadow of the Tor which lay nearest she drives me mad sometimes. Things to Ravenshoe, and overhung those dark ain't going right with her."
woods in which we saw Densil just now Charles and the priest walked thought- walking with his old hound, there was fully home together.
grouped, on the morning after the day of “ Allow me to say, Ravenshoe,” said Charles'sarrival, a happy party, every one the priest, “that, as an Irishman, I con- of whom is already known to the reader. sider myself a judge of remarkable Of which circumstance I, the writer, am establishments. I must say honestly most especially glad. For I am already that I have seldom or never met with as tired of introducing new people to a great house with so many queer ele- you as my lord chamberlain must be of ments about it as yours. You are all presenting strangers to Her Majesty at a
Densil first, on a grey cob, looking don't seem to me now, as an old man, a very old and feeble, straining his eyes more absurd belief than this new electroup the glen whither Charles, and James, biology and table-turning. Charles tells the old keeper, had gone with the grey- me that they use magic crystals at Ox. hounds. At his rein stood William, ford, and even claim to have raised whom we knew at Oxford. Beside the the devil himself in Merton ; which, for old man sat Mary on her pony, looking the Exhibition year, seems rather like reso riant and pleasant, that, even if there verting to first principles. But I am had been no glorious autumn sun over- not sure I believe in any of it. I only head, one glance at her happy face know that, if any poor old woman has would have lighted up the dullest land- sold herself to Satan, and taken it into scape in Lancashire. Last, not least, the her head to transform herself into a good Father Tiernay, who sat on his black hare, my greyhounds won't light horse, hatless, radiant, scratching his upon her. She must have made such a tonsure.
deuced hard bargain that I shouldn't “And so you're determined to back like to cheat her out of any of the small the blue dog, Miss Mary?” said he. space left her between this and, and,—
“I have already betted a pair of thingamy." gloves with Charles, Mr. Tiernay,” said William, as a privileged servant, took Mary, “and I will be rash enough to do the liberty of remarking that old Mrs. so with you. Ruin is the quickest striker Jewel didn't seem to have been anything we have ever bred.”
like a match for Satan in the way of a “I know it ; they all say so," said the bargain, for she had had hard times of priest ; “but come, I must have a bet
it seven years before she died. From on the course. I will back Lightning.” which
“ Lightning is the quicker dog," said Father Tiernay deduced the moral Densil; “ but Ruin ! you will see him lesson, that that sort of thing didn't pay; lie behind the other dog all the run, and andstrike the hare at last. Father Mack- Mary said she didn't believe a word worth, a good judge of a dog, always of such rubbish, for old Mrs. Jewel was backs him against the kennel."
as nice an old body as ever was seen, “ Where is Father Mackworth ?” and had worked hard for her living, un
“I don't know," said Densil. “I am til her strength failed, and her son went surprised he is not with us; he is very down in one of the herring-boats. fond of coursing.”
Densil said that his little bird was “His reverence, sir," said William, too positive. There was the Witch of “ started
about an hour ago. Endor, for instanceI saw him going."
Father Tiernay, who had been strain“ Where was he going to ?”
ing his eyes and attention at the move“I can't say, sir. He took just over nents of Charles and the greyhounds, past the rocks on the opposite side of the and had only caught the last word, said bottom from Mr. Charles."
with remarkable emphasis and dis“I wonder," said Father Tiernay, tinctness,“whether James will find his friend, the witch, this morning."
“A broomstick of the Witch of Endor, “Ah,” said Densil, “he was telling Well shod wi' brass,” me about that.
sure I hope not.”
and then looked at Densil as though he Father Tiernay was going to laugh, had helped him out of a difficulty, and but didn't.
wanted to be thanked. Densil continued “Do you believe in witches, then, without noticing him,Mr. Ravenshoe?”
“ There was the Witch of Endor. “Why, no,” said Densil, stroking his And thou shalt not suffer a witch to chin thoughtfully, "I suppose not.
live. If there weren't such things as
witches, you know, St. Paul wouldn't going to try. He said, just where they have said that."
“I don't think it was St. Paul, papa, Densil asked, had he seen Father was it ?" said Mary:
Mackworth ? and he was in the act of “It was one of them, my love ; and. saying that he was gone over the down, for that matter, I consider St. Peter when a shout from Charles, and a still quite as good as St. Paul, if not better. louder one from James, made them all St. Peter was always in trouble, I know; start. A large black hare had burst but he was the only one who struck a from the thorns at Charles's feet, and blow for the good cause, all honour to was bowling down the glen straight tohim. Let me see ; he married St. wards them, with the dogs close behind Veronica, didn't he?"
her. “Marry St. Veronica, virgin and “ The witch,” shouted James, “the martyr !” said the priest, aghast. “My witch! we shall know who she is good sir, you are really talking at
It seemed very likely indeed. Densil Ah, well, I
broke away from William, and, spurring virgin, but she was no martyr.”
his pony down the sheep-path at the “St. Veronica," said Father Tiernay, risk of his neck, made for the entrance dogmatically, and somewhat sulkily, to the wood. The hare, one of such
was martyred under Tiberius; no less dark colour that she looked almost black, than that.'
scudded along in a parallel direction, “I bet
you like of it,” cried and dashed into the grass ride just in Densil, “she died
front of Densil; they saw her flying But what was Densil's opinion about down it, just under the dogs' noses, and the last days of St. Veronica will for then they saw her dash into a cross ride, ever remain a mystery; for at this mo- one of the dogs making a strike at her ment there came a “See, ho !” from as she did so; then hare and greyhounds Charles ; in the next a noble hare disappeared round the corner. had burst from a tangled mass of bram- “She's dead, sir, confound her! we bles at his feet; in another the two dogs shall have her now, the witch !” were on her haunches, and Charles, They all came round the corner pellcarrying two little flags furled in his mell. Here stood the dogs, panting hand, had dashed at the rough rocks on and looking foolishly about them, while, the bottom of the valley, had brought in front of them, a few yards distant, his horse on his nose, recovered him, and stood Father Mackworth, looking diswas half way up the hill after the flying turbed and flushed, as though he had greyhounds.
been running It was but a short course. Puss raced Old James stared aghast; William gave for some broken ground under the hill, a long whistle ; Mary, for a moment, was opposite to where our party.stood. She actually terrified. Densil looked puzwas too close pressed, and doubled back zled, Charles amused ; while Father for the open, but, meeting James, turned Tiernay made the forest ring with peal as a last desperate chance back to her after peal of uproarious laughter. first point. Too late ; the dogs were upon “I am afraid I have spoilt sport, her. There was a short scutlle, and then Mr. Ravenshoe," said Mackworth, comCharles, rising in his saddle, unfurled ing forward ; " the hare ran almost his blue flag, and waved it.
against my legs, and doubled into the “Hurrah !" cried Mary, clapping her copse, puzzling the dogs. They seemed hands, "two pairs of gloves this morning; almost inclined to revenge themselves where will he try now, I wonder ? Here on me for a moment." comes James ; let us ask him.”
“Ha, ha !” cried the jolly priest, not James approached them with the dead noticing, as Charles did, how confused
sneaking home from your appointment and Charles used to come and play with your dear friend."
there on happy summer holidays “What do you mean, sir, by appoint- play at being Robinson Crusoe and ment? You are overstepping the bounds what not; but there had been a fight of decorum, sir. Mr. Ravenshoe, I beg with the poachers there, and one of you to forgive me for inadvertently spoil- their young men had been kicked in the ing your sport."
head by one of the gang, and rendered “Not at all, my dear Father,” said idiotic; and Charles had seen the blood Densil, thinking it best, from the scared on the grass next morning; and so they look of old James, to enter into no fur- voted it a dismal place, and never went ther explanations ; “we have killed one near it again. Since then it had been hare, and now I think it is time to come taken possession of by the pheasants home to lunch.”
to dust themselves in. Altogether it “Don't eat it all before I come;
was a solitary, ghostly sort of place; must run up to the Tor; I have drop- and, therefore, Charles was considerably ped my whip there,” said Charles. startled, on looking in at the low door, * James, ride my horse home; you look to see a female figure, sitting unmovetired. I shall be there on foot in half able in the darkest corner. the time.”
It was not a ghost, for it spoke. It He had cast the reins to James, and said, “ Are you come back to upbraid was gone, and they all turned home- me again? I know my power, and
you wards together.
shall never have it." And Charles said, Charles, fleet of foot, was up on the “ Ellen !” Tor in a few minutes, and had picked She looked up, and began to cry. up his missing property ; then he sat At first a low, moaning cry, and afterhim down on a stone, thinking.
wards a wild passionate burst of grief ! “ There is something confoundedly He drew her towards him, and tried wrong somewhere, and I should like to
to quiet her, but she drew away. “Not find out what it is. What had that to-day,” she cried,“not to-day.” Jack priest been up to, that made him “ What is the matter, pretty one ? look so queer? And, also, what was What is the matter, sister?” said Charles. the matter betwen Ellen and William “Call me sister again,” she said, last night? Whom has she been going on looking up:
“I like that name. Kiss with ? I will go down. I wish I could me, and call me sister, just for once.” find some trace of him. One thing I “Sister dear,” said Charles kindly, know, and one thing only, that he hates kissing her on the forehead, “What is me worse than poison; and that his is the matter?” not likely to be a passive hatred.”
“I have had a disagreement with The wood into which Charles de- Father Mackworth, and he has called scended was of very large extent, and
He found me here walking composed of the densest copse, intersected with Master Cuthbert." by long, straight grass rides. The day “ With Cuthbert ?” had turned dark and chilly ; and a low “Ay, why not? I might walk with moaning wind began to sweep through you or him any time, and no harm. I the bare boughs, rendering still more must go." dismal the prospect of the long-drawn “ Before Charles had time to say one vistas of damp grass and rotting leaves. word of kindness, or consolation, or
He passed musing on from one walk wonder, she had drawn him towards to another, and, in one of them, came her, given him a kiss, and was gone in sight of a low, white building, partly down the ride towards the house. He ruinous, which had been built in saw her dress flutter round the last the deepest recesses of the wood for corner, and she disappeared. a summer house. Years ago Cuthbert
To be continued.
TO NOVELISTS--AND A NOVELIST.
“To justify the ways of God to men.”
The history of a human life is a created organism which boasts the prinstrange thing. It is also a somewhat ciple of life—is as noble a being as we. serious thing-to the individual : who Now there is something in us which often feels himself, or appears to others, will not “say Amen to that.”
We not unlike the elder-pith figure of an will not die—and die for ever: we will electrical experimentor--vibrating ridi- not while any good remains in us, culously and helplessly between influ- cease to believe in a God, who is all we ences alike invisible and incomprehen- know or can conceive of goodness made sible. What is Life—and what is the perfect. As utterly as we refuse to heart of its mystery? We know not; regard Him as a mere Spirit of Nature, and through Death only can we learn. unto whom our individuality is indifferNevertheless, nothing but the blindest ent and unknown, do we refuse to see in obtuseness of bigotry, the maddest in- Him a Being omniscient as omnipotent, difference of epicureanism—two states who puts us into this awful world withnot so opposite as they at first seem- out our volition, leaves us to struggle can stifle those
through it as we can, and, if we fail,
finally to drop out of it into hell-fire or “Obstinate questionings
annihilation. Is it blasphemy to assert Of sense and onward things,
that, on such a scheme of existence, the Fallings from us, vanishings,
latter only could be consistent with His Blank misgivings of a creature deity ? Moving about in worlds not realized.” No, human as we are, we must
have something divine to aspire to. And continually in our passage through is curious to trace this instinct through these “worlds not realized”—either the all the clouded wisdoms of the wise ; world of passion, or intellect, or beauty how the materialist, who conscientiously -do we lift up our heads from the believes that he believes in nothing, will chaos, straining our eyes to discern, if on parting bid you "good bye and God possible, where we are, why we are there, bless you !" as if there were really a what we are doing, or what is being done God to bless, that He could bless, and with us, and by whom. Then if we that He would take the trouble to bless think we have caught even the fag end
you. Stand with the most confirmed of a truth or a belief, how eagerly do we infidel by the coffin of one he loved, or sit down and write about it, or mount any coffin, and you will hear him sigh pulpits and preach about it, or get on that he would give his whole mortal life, à platform and harangue about it! with all its delights, and powers, and We feel so sure that we have something possibilities, if he could only see clearly to say; something which it must benefit
some hope of attaining the life immortal. the world to hear. Harmless delusion! What do these facts imply ? That Yet not ignoble, for it is a form of the instinct which prompts us to seek that eternal aspiration after perfect good, in every way to unriddle the riddle of without which the whole fabric of exist- life, or as Milton puts it, ence, mortal and immortal, natural and supernatural, slides from us, and there “To justify the ways of God to men," remains nothing worth living for, nothing worth dying for; since the smallest ani- is as irrepressible as universal. It is at