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my tongue as if they'd been no more than “ That's human nature," said the Bard common words. I allays thought it took a humbly, “an' what's human nature has got effort, Shadrach !”

to be took and be put up with.” “I should think it did an' all," Shadrach “Of course it's human nature," returned replied, as if he were a little nettled by the Hepzibah. “If I'd ha' nussed you an' carried implied disparagement of the gift. “There's you about as soon as I was big enough to do a many as can get as fur as the fust two it, and seed you grow up bit by bit into the lines, but four's a trial. Thee try thy hand likeliest young man for miles and miles, and at four, Hepzibah, and see what thee canst then to fall into trouble over a pale-faced make on it.'

chit of a girl as throwed herself away on “No, no," returned Hepzibah, humbled a wastrel like Will Hackett

Here already by the test proposed. She was so Hepzibah wiped her eyes again with the full of the dreadful event of the evening that corner of her apron, and left the theme even the amazement of having deviated into unfinished. poetry could not charm her from the theme. A minute or two later there entered a She returned to it whilst the Bard, with his little old woman, whom both Shadrach and head poised critically on one side and his Hepzibah greeted as “mother." The little mouth a little wider open than usual, was old woman had a fretful face, a fretful voice, still tasting the combination quatrain. and with these, as it seemed, a fretful “Mister Edward,” she said mournfully, temper. “ isn't the man he used to be, Shadrach.” “Hast been callin' me 'mother,'” she said,

“No ? " said Shadrach, dropping the study addressing Hepzibah, “this ten or twelve of the quatrain instantly. “As how !" 'ear. Beest goin' to keep the lad danglin' at

“He's been changed from the very night thy tail till he's grey?”. when you come to the house and spoke o' “Nay, mother,” said Shadrach mildly, Mary Howarth's weddin'. He was used to “it stands to rayson her can't leave wheer be the gayest creetur—always ready with her is while theer's trouble i' the place.” his bit of a joke, poor young gentleman, and Well,” said the little old woman queruthe smile on his face like sunshine. And lously, “theer's a pair on you. When I was now theer's niver a merry word to be had a wench the gells liked a mon as ’ud have for love nor money. He draws himself about 'em to church whether or no, an' stand no as if he took no interest in life, and some shilly-shallyin'. And if the gell was that times he'll smile that sad it would break your standoffish for a number o’’ears as thee'st heart. Thee know'st, Shadrach, when you've been, Zibah, the lads 'ud ha' routed out nussed a child, an' lived to see him grow up another from somewheer.” the finest young man of a parish, it ain't like “He's fine and welcome, I'm sure," said a stranger."

Hepzibah, rising and drawing her shawl “ Thee think'st he frets about her 9" about her. asked Shadrach wistfully.

“Say not so, Hepzibah !” said the Bard. Shadrach," said Hepzibah, wiping a tear "Let nothin' come twixt you an' me, For away with a corner of her herden apron, I am iver true to thee.” “I've niver believed as you'd be a-sittin' “ Who's to tek care on him ?asked the afore me now if it hadn't been for that. It old woman, “and do his mendin' and get was only a man as was desperate of his life him his bit o' victuals when I'm gone? It'll could ha' run the risk he did. I've heard be no great time, I reckon, afore I'm carried it said by more than one as it seemed like out toes foremost, and him no more to be going back to death more than it was like a trusted to tek care of himself than a :hild,

His heart was broke, poor as is no more than could be expected, conthing, and he set no worth on his life at all. siderin' his gift, and the way his thoughts It was a hundred to one again saving you, goes wool-gatherin'." Shadrach, and Master Edward isn't like a “Well, well, mother," said Shadrach, if novice as doesn't know the ins an' outs o' I'm contented, so must thou be. I'll see things."

thee home, Hepzibah.” “I allays set it down to his bein' fond o' thee,” said Shadrach. “He knowed you'd

CHAPTER VI. fret if anything had happened to me."

“ HAY-BERRY-HAM !” said Mr. Horatio “He know'd I'd ha'fretted a sight worse,” Lowther. “Hay-berry-ham!”. replied Hepzibah, with a rather tart decision, Mr. Lowther was seated in his office at a "if anything had happened to him." table overspread with papers, which he was

common rescue.


in the act of sorting and docketing. He “Do as you are told," said Mr. Lowther, made no cessation in his work as he uttered

" and do it now.” this curious call; but his voice took an “Shall I send the Town Crier round to ascending tone as he repeated it, until its say I'm going ?” Abram asked, standing on oily smoothness gave way to a grating tip-toe to reach his hat. “They're a very shrillness. When the cry had been repeated young married couple, Gaffer.

The gell's half-a-dozen times a voice was heard over- always been particular respectable. Folks head

ought to know as the bailiff's in the house." “ Hillo!

“Do as you are told,” repeated Mr. Low“You have been there all the time ?" asked ther, “and do it now.” Mr. Lowther. “Why did you not answer Abram departed, grumbling inarticulately, sooner ?"

and Mr. Lowther, with great smoothness of “Better late than never,” said the voice, voice and suavity of manner, called him back and a pair of corduroyed legs came into view in order to irritate him. on the open stairway which led from the “Let me see the document,” he said ; "and upper room to the lower.

be sure that it is in order." “What do you mean by better late than Abram, who by long experience of his emnever ?” asked Mr. Lowther, frowning. ployer could read him like a book, returned

Nothing," said the voice gruffly, as its with a smiling alacrity in order to irritate owner came into view. “I might ha' said Mr. Lowther, and lugging the paper from his Better never than late. It would ha' been breast-pocket, presented it with a burlesque truer about most things.

flourish of politeness. Mr. Lowther, having "Hay-berry-ham!” said Mr. Lowther, failed of his purpose, glanced casually at it speaking rather high in his head, and in a and returned it, and Abram took his way in tone of dignified reproof and protest. glee, but had no sooner reached the street than

“Abrum," the other corrected him dog- he allowed the tip of his nose to rise and gedly. “Christened name, A-b—r—a—m, the corners of his mouth to descend to their Abrum. Don't put me on the rack and drag normal expression. me out into four synnables. I won't have it. He walked at a great pace to Hackett's

“Did you get the document at the County house, a semi-detached villa on the edge of Court last night ?” asked Mr. Lowther. the town, and, having knocked at the door,

“Yes,” said Abram, a little more doggedly made himself as small as he could to avoid than before.

observation, until a clean little rosy-cheeked “ Then down to Mr. Hackett's and take maid, in a pink print and a smart cap, answered possession,

to his summons. The rosy maid blanched "That's a nice job, that is,” the man grum- when she saw him, for Mr. Lowther had had bled. He was a clean-shaven, wooden-fea- dealings with all sorts of people in his time, tured, bald man, with moist eyes and a chronic and—little fish being proverbially sweetscowl of satire. “Where's the hurry?" he he rather liked the small fry best. And the demanded. “It'll do at night, won't it? maid knew Mr. Lowther's messenger from Come now. Why shouldn't I put it off till home experience. Abram, though a duly after dark ?"

qualified servant of the court, was in a sense He had come down-stairs in his shirt-sleeves, Mr. Lowther's retainer. When not engaged and on receipt of Mr. Lowther's commands in his professional duties, Abram did odd had reached down a coat from a nail on the jobs for Mr. Lowther, and even in the exeroffice wall. He had struggled half-way into cise of his profession was oftener engaged in the coat, which was rather too small for him, his behalf than in that of all other people when he paused to put these questions. put together.

“You know very well that it will not do “Gaffer in ?” said Abram, nodding at the after dark,” said Mr. Lowther. He added maid to claim his old acquaintance with her. suavely, “Prokerastination is the thief of “No," answered the girl. “Master's gone time. Do what you are told.”

to the races.” “ All right !" returned Abram, struggling

“ Missis in ?" with the coat. “Hadn't I better wait till

“ Yes.” about two minutes after one o'clock ? Every- “ Tell her there's a party wants to speak body turns out of the factory just then. to her.” Everybody knows me, and when I go into The maid during this brief colloquy had, a house they know what I'm there for. Bless more by defensive instinct than design, closed your heart, I'm known as well as you are.” the door little by little, until by this time

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only one of her eyes was visible behind it, in spite of herself, and encountered Abram but the visitor pushed it open with authori- in the hall. The man, to do him justice, tative shoulder, and closed it behind him explained his mission civilly, and even with when he had entered upon the neat little some delicacy. hall. The little maid recoiled before him, " You won't put yourself about about me, and disappeared with a backward gaze of ma'am," he said, “neither about eatin', nor terror. Abram watched her as she mounted yet about sleepin'. I ain't particular, nor the stairs, and shook his head twice or thrice used to be particular. Dessay when Mr. up and down.

Hackett comes home he'll put this little mat“Pretty ockipation this is,” he said, grum- ter straight. Prob’ly it's a oversight. Often bling half aloud. “But if it's got to be done, and often I finds it so." it's got to be done, and it's just as well to She left him standing in the hall unhave a cove in the business as does it plea- answered, and returned to her old place and sant as it is to have a cove in the business posture by the window. The outlook on the as does it unpleasant."

summer day had already seemed a little tristThe maid, panting a little and somewhat ful and weary. She had once or twice failed scared, knocked at the drawing-room door. to banish the intruding fear that her marriage Her mistress's voice bade her come in, and was an irretrievable misfortune. It was early she entered, and, having closed the door, to have to do battle with so horrible a constood silent for a moment or two. The three-clusion; it was earlier still to be vanquished months' bride was seated near the window by it, even though loyalty was yet too active looking out with absent eyes. A half-finished and self-respect too strong to allow her to piece of embroidery was in her hands, but be conquered for more than a moment at a they lay idly in her lap with an air of weary time. lassitude. There was a hint of the same ex- And here is the place for the revelation of pression in her face, which was of a delicate a fact which in its own way is a tragedy. and rather meagre oval. Her eyes were of The poor thing had not gone through the a darkish blue-grey, mystic and dreamy. ordinary gates of enchantment to marry Will Her lips were mobile and tender, but she had Hackett. She had married that handsome a very decided little chin, and the form of her and sweet-voiced prodigal, not in the least eyebrows too, notwithstanding the dreamy because she loved him, but because she was mystery of the eyes they surmounted, looked going to reform him. Life was to have been as though she might upon occasion claim a all nobility and self-sacrifice and lofty duty will of her own.

until this black sheep should change his colour, When only a second or two had gone by and then she was to have her reward, poor in silence, a dim sense that there had been child. But Master Will was one of those something stealthy and afraid in the girl's effusive, amiable, generous, and free-handed action intruded itself upon her day dream. gentry who have no more heart than a turnip. She turned and awoke from her fancies with He had seemed so affectionate! In his courta little start at this curious thought, and a ing days he had been so easily guided. When glance at the maid's face confirmed it. She a young man has his arm round a pretty rose, and laid the embroidery on a table girl's waist it is not difficult to seem affecnear her.

tionate ; and young men in their courting “What is the matter, Sarah ?”

days have often seemed easily guided, though “Oh, if you please, ma'am," said the maid, they have turned out sadly tough in the “the bum-bailiff's in the house !”

mouth and rusty in the temper a little later " What is in the house ?" asked Mrs. But if once the girl who is tied to such Hackett. Her experience was at fault. She a man has gone through the land of rainbows had been tenderly nurtured, and knew little and magic promise he will never seem to her of the disgraces and miseries of life.

to be altogether the brute he is. Something “Mr. Whitelaw, ma'am," answered the of the old glamour will cling to him, and scared maid. “He's the county-court man, if bring yet a hint of the old happy blindness you please, ma'am. He was put into father's to her eyes. Something of the old sweet house when we was sold up.

thrill will stir in the heart at times. So aided, This sounded alarming, but the alarm was the black sheep may seem to be only a little only vague. What could the man want here?

-a very little—dingier than his brethren of " Where is he?" she asked. “In the hall ? | the flock. There are cases-we have mostly I will and see him.”

been happy enough to know them—where She descended the stairs, a little fluttered to one faithful and tender pair of eyes in the



world the blackest sheep has shown lustrous a gust of wrath passed over her spirit and white. Shall we scorn that blissful folly, or stirred the sick waters of despair. But she laugh at it? Not I—for one.

would have none of that, and wrestled against For Mary Hackett there was none of this herself with all her forces. She had no right beautiful illusion possible. She had married to anger--no right to reproach: she had a rake with her eyes open and as a matter of thrown those rights away. conscience. Perhaps it is too easy to say All the while her heart cried out for her “ with her eyes open." Let a home-reared mother. Pride held her back, but gave way maiden open her eyes as wide as she may at last before the imperious call of nature. she can have but a little knowledge of the The friendly darkness had fallen and no one rake. She knows vaguely that he is not so would see her come and go. She was not good as the run of men, and she knows, on certain that she was not a prisoner, and even the authority of the silliest and falsest pro- that fear spurred her a little in the way of verb to be found in the collection of all her own desires, for she wanted to test it and nations, that when reformed he makes the to know the worst, if there were a worse best of husbands. Master Will had been than had happened already. So she slipped determined to be found out early. In taking on bonnet and shawl and left the house, no a wife he had not proposed to cripple him- effort being made to restrain her. She sped self. His friends called him “the married swiftly homewards—the mother's roof had bachelor," and he was proud of the title. It always covered home-since her marriage as bespoke the fact that he had surrendered before it—and as she went there was such a nothing of his liberties; that the yoke which promise of the peace she longed for in her weighed on most men who married had found mother's arms, that it impelled her to run. no place upon his shoulders.

Blank disappointment at the door. Mother His wife was little to blame therefore if and daughter had had but little intercourse she discovered the fatal error into which she of late, and the estrangement had grown so had fallen a little earlier than most women far already that Mrs. Howarth had gone would have done. She came of the solid, away on a customary summer visit of a week honest trading class, who abhor Bohemianism, to her sister without letting her daughter and regard debt as the worst of evils, and know of it. Her father was indoors, said idleness as one of the worst of crimes. These the domestic, and would be glad to see her. sentiments were born into her and were a No, she made shift to answer, she would call part of her. The shifts of the new household again when her mother had returned. She had hurt her bitterly many a time already. dared not face her father with the news. The little pile of unpaid tradesmen's bills The night had grown black and tempestuweighed like an incubus upon her spirit. The ous. She had had no leisure to notice this calls for each separate bill

, and her com- before, but she saw it as she turned, and the pelled statement that she would speak to gloom and threatened storm added their Mr. Hackett about it, were like stabs to her. quota to the weight which rested on her. And now, before she had found time even to The road was lonely, with, strips of green on begin to reconcile herself to her situation, either side of it, and some and there a stile, she and her husband were put to open which gave a glimpse of open fields brooding shame.

darkly in the night. The tears she had The blow fell dull at first, and it was an shed so freely already, the hurried race to hour or two before she began to know what her father's house, the disappointment there, pain it carried. The maid came to tell her the darkness and loneliness of the road, all that dinner was ready, but she could not eat helped one way. She sank upon a hillock and would not trouble even to make a pre- beneath the tall overhanging hedge and tence of eating. In a while a tear or two burst into a new passion of tears. Only a began to flow, and when once she had given minute later she heard between her own sobs way so far she had lost control of herself, the sound of a quick footstep on the path, and flying to her bedroom she locked the and rose to her feet to find a sombre figure door and cast herself upon the bed in an bending over her. abandonment of grief and shame.

"My poor dear creature," said a pitying The weary dreadful day crawled on minute and familiar voice, “what's the matter? by minute and hour by hour when this burst Don't be afraid of me. I wouldn't hurt you was over, and she paced her room to and fro for the world." as she looked at the future. More than once Ned Blane !



AROUND the globe one wave from pole to pole Beneath the noontide sun 'twas still as death.

Rolled on, and found no shore to break its roll. Within the dawn no living thing drew breath. One awful water mirrored everywhere

Beneath the cold white moon the cold blue wave The silent, blue, illimitable air,

Sealed with an icy hush the old world's grave. And glassed in one same hour the midnight moon, But hark ! upon the sunset's edge were heard, Sunrise and sunset and the sun at noon. Afar and faint, the cries of beast and bird.


Afar, between the sunset and the dark,

While the long billows, passing one by one, The lions had awakened in the ark.

Lifted and lowered in the crimson blaze Across the great red splendour white wings flew, A dead queen of the old and evil days. Weary of wandering where no green leaf grew; Weary of searching for that unfound shore One gold-clasped arm lay beautiful and bare; From which the raven had returned no more. The gold of power gleamed in her floating hair ;

Her jewelled raiment in the glassy swell And as the white wings laboured slowly back, Glittered ; and ever as she rose and fell, And down the huge orb sank, a speck of black And o'er his reddened claws the ripple broke, Stood fluttering in the circle of the sun,The raven fluttered with uneasy croak.

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