Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

“I fear that it may be the little girl's a fallen tombstone. The white velvet trapfuneral," said May, and burst into a passion pings swept the earth, and the flowers and of tears.

baubles glowed and glittered with new lustre “Impossible;” said Miss Martha; “we and colour in the brilliant air. A tawnyshould have heard of her death."

cheeked woman in a scarlet shawl held a "Do not cry, little one,” said Father canopy of white silk over the sick girl's wan Felix. “It is no doubt an ordinary funeral face, and over the loose golden hair, which from the hills.” And he stole away to his lay in a shower among the nettles. Sir John chapel to pray for the rest of some un- had alighted, and, with hat in hand, adknown soul.

vanced to meet the monk. Lady Archbold “Now you take the telescope, May,” said sat haughtily on her horse. her aunt, “and amuse yourself watching “Good sir,” said Sir John, “our daughter these travellers. And don't you fret your- is sick. All natural aid has failed to cure self for nothing, my dear. As for me I have her. We come to you, begging you will to boil my preserves."

restore her. We have brought you giftsFunerals were familiar events to Miss the most precious things we could select on Martha.

the instant-but they are a small part of “ But there are bright things shining in what we are prepared to give you." the riders' hands, and a bier with a cover The old man glanced all around, for the as white as snow," muttered May in her pomp and pride of the scene troubled him. belfry, telescope in hand. And then about As he stood there, with the eyes of these noon she beheld wild Con coming flying great people upon him, he looked to worldly along the road to Monasterlea.

view a meagre figure, both as to flesh and “ News, Con ? News from Camlough ?" garb, yet with a certain dignity of age and cried May, speeding to meet him, and holiness which could not be questioned, clapping her hands to attract his notice. still less understood. Sir John grew imBut he dashed past her without heed patient at a moment's delay. ing, leaped over the gravestones like a goat, 'Sir,” he said, “ we are in anguish. Is dived into the cloisters through a breach it not your calling to succour the disin the wall, nor paused till he burst into tressed?" the chapel.

Alas, sir," said the old man, “take The old priest had been kneeling in away your gifts. God alone can do what prayer before his altar, but rose in dismay you desire. I can pray in your name, but at the rude noise. Wild Con dropped pro- He looks to the humility of your heart.” strate at his feet.

Lady Archbold now pressed forward. "Master bring miss down hill,” cried the “Sirrah, obey !" she cried, wildly. “You fool. “Father Felix make her laugh and shall exert your power-we care not much walk about. Aha! little missy get up if it be of heaven or of hell. We only quite well."

want our child! Oh, me, we only want our Father Felix patted him soothingly on child !" And she broke out into a wail of the head. The idiot was quivering with despair. excitement. He began to laugh and cry as "Lady,” said the old man, looking at the sound of many feet and voices became her with mild pity, “ you speak to me as audible through the window. But the priest if I were a sorcerer. I am no such thing, signed to him to be still and reverent, and neither am I a saint-only the poorest of he crouched upon the ground, covering his God's servants. And I hesitate, fearing no face with his hands.

mercy will be shown which is demanded The door opened again, and May came in such a spirit.” radiantly into the chapel, stepping on tip- Lady Archbold's face sank beneath his toe, and looking like a spirit.

glance. She flung herself from her horse, "Uncle," she whispered, clasping his and went down on her knees till the feathers hands, “Sir John and Lady Archbold have of her hat touched the earth. come all the way from Camlough with their “Oh,” she moaned, "tell me how to feel daughter, who is sick. You will cure her, that this be done. You shall put ashes on uncle? Oh, you will make her well.” my head, and I will be the humblest poor

The old man changed colour and trembled. woman in these mountains. I have lived “My child,” he said, "you know not what without religion, but I will try to be a you say. But I will go and learn what Christian henceforward. Only ask your they ask of me."

God to give me back my child ?” The procession had poured itself into the Many women began to sob around to graveyard. The litter had been placed upon see the proud lady humbled thus. The old

God no,

silent prayer.

priest himself had tears in his eyes as he turned him on his back, and found he had answered her appeal.

passed from prayer into a swoon. Now Daughter,” he said, “I will do as you Miss Martha bustled up in tears. She had wish. Let us all, then, kneel, and crave knelt in the distance upon her door-step, this blessing."

half joining in the scene and half resenting All sank upon their knees in the grass. it, knowing too well the consequences of Some supported themselves against the such efforts for her brother. She gathered broken crosses,

some leaned upon the his frail body in her arms, and, with the mounds of the graves. Many women were help of friends, had him carried to the weeping, many men trembling. Lady house. Archbold crouched with her face to the “Ah, yes, good sir,” she said, bitterly, to very moss of the earth. It was long, Sir John," he has given your daughter whispered the people, since she had knelt health, but I greatly fear she has given before. She shuddered as the priest made him his death.” a loud distinct prayer, to which the mass of “I

pray

said Sir John. the people responded with a sound that was Miss Martha was too hospitable to suffer like the roaring of a troubled sea.

the people from Camlough to return withBut soon there was silence in the grave- out refreshment, and bestowed on them such yard. The priest had sunk prostrate in entertainment as it was in her power to

The

very rooks had stopped give. The crowd soon scattered to carry their clamour in the belfry. The people far and wide the story of the morning, and held their breath, and feared even to sway Sir John and his wife and child honoured their bent bodies. Only a lark dared to Miss Martha's dwelling with their presence. sing, and sang long and ecstatically, rising May invited Katherine to her own little higher and higher, till, only for the echo room, having leave to wait upon_her, of its notes, it might have seemed to be whilst Miss Martha was attending to Lady consumed in the amber fires of the sun. Archbold. To this Katherine submitted It seemed to May that the singing of this with a languid condescension. lark was the voice of the old man's prayer, “ Have

you

not a better frock than this?" as it pierced its urgent way to heaven. asks she, surveying the robe of thick white

An hour passed, and the kneeling people muslin in which May was attiring her with began to grow weary. Lady Archbold tender hands. glanced once at her child, crouched to the “ Alas, no !” said May, crest-fallen, “I earth again, and groaned aloud. Another always thought it was a pretty frock, but I hour passed, and a woman fainted, and some see it is not good enough for you. children stole away to play at a distance. “I should think not,” said Katherine, It was far in the third hour when a loud flinging her head about, and tossing her scream rang out upon the air.

gold mane in May's eyes. “You should The scream came from May, who was see what handsome frocks I wear at Camclose to the sick girl, and had seen her lough; but what makes your eyes so red, long hair stir among the nettles. The next little girl ?” moment Katherine Archbold sat up, and “I wept this morning,” said May, who began gazing curiously around her. First was ready to weep again. “I wept because a hoarse murmur of awe ran through the you were so sick.' crowd ; then there arose such a cheer from “ How funny !" said Katherine, laughthe hearts of the mountain men as had never ing; “I'm sure I should not weep if you been heard among these walls before. The were sick. But I like you very well, and startled crows set up a wild clamour round you shall come to Camlough. You are a the belfry. The mother rushed towards nice little girl in your own way; but you her daughter, stumbled among the people are not so beautiful as I am." and fell, but was raised by the strong, kind “Oh, no!" said May, eagerly, “I could arms of women, and carried by them to the not be so silly as to think so.” side of her Katherine. Mother, father, and “You are a very pleasant little girl," child were locked in a wild embrace, amidst said Katherine; “I shall certainly have the sobs and exclamations of the people. you with me at Camlough.”

It was some minutes before any one Before Sir John and Lady Archbold left remembered the old priest. Little May's Monasterlea, they stood by the old priest's shrill voice again raised, and her slight arm bedside, to offer him their thanks. At her beating back the people, first recalled him husband's suggestion, Lady Archbold er to their minds. Then they looked on the pressed her sorrow for wild words which ground where he lay upon his face. They had been uttered in her grief.

The old man was ill, and could not speak to keep him from longing after ill-omened much. Forget all that,” he said, “but possessions. She was tender, upright, and there is one thing I would bid you re- somewhat superstitious, and the curse of member. Guard well this soul that God Tobereevil had been the terror of her life. has given back into your keeping. See The dread of it had made her patient in that in gaining her you have not lost her. poverty, and peculiarly unselfish in her Make her modest and holy, gentle and love; and her patience and love had so wise."

influenced her husband that he had never But Lady Archbold's pride was on the shown a desire to touch the rusting treasures return. She thought herself lectured, and of his race. Husband and wife had paid turned away with impatience, which she one visit together to Tobereevil, and had hardly took the trouble to conceal. At hastened away, shuddering at the wretchedthe same moment Katherine was led un- ness they had witnessed. But now he had willingly into the room, glancing about the been dead many years. place with an air of scorn. The pallid old Mrs. Finiston was in receipt of a small man upon the couch was an object of ridi- pension, and possessed also a trifling ancule in her eyes. When her father placed ity of her own. But all this little income her beneath the hand which was extended would ranish when she died. No wonder, to bless her, she drew back in disgust. And then, that she prayed to bespared. No wonder then they all departed, and the train went that she stinted and saved with the hope of back to Camlough.

being enabled to give her son a profession. And May hid herself in her belfry to She had determined against making him weep. This was her first real grief. Kathe- a soldier. As a soldier he would be always rine had disappointed her. The sweet dream- poor; and in poverty, there was that danger playmate was no more. Pride shown to her of the longing for the riches of the misers self she did not mind, but contempt of her of Tobereevil. She would hedge round his uncle the loving heart could not brook. future from that risk.

And after all this Miss Martha's anxious Her high sitting-room window was words came true; for in two days Father bowed out towards the river, and the Felix was dead.

narrow panes between its ancient pilasters

afforded a view over the bridge into the sunCHAPTER V. THE HEIR TO THE WOODS.

shine. The dome of the Four Courts shone PAUL FINISTON and his mother had for finely in the distance above the masts, many years lived in a high narrow house, on through the soft amber haze of a summer's the Quays, in Dublin, close by where a light day. She had resolved that under its shelter bridge springs over the dark running river. her Paul should yet win fame and gold: Tall spars congregated beside it, and old honourable fame, which he would prefer to brown sails flapped heavily in the water, wealth, gold, honestly earned, which he turning orange and red in the sun. High would generously share and spend. There above there were domes against the sky, were many great men even in her own and in the shadow of the up-hill distance little day who had grown up out of smaller loomed the ghostly outlines of many peaks beginnings. The mother on the sofa reand pinnacles.

called a dozen such. Mrs. Finiston was a frail creature, who With a view to all this she had deprived was chained to a sofa in her dingy room. herself of comfort that he might be taught For years she had had nothing strong to by the best tutors in Dublin. He was now protect her but her trust in God, nothing seventeen, a student of Trinity, and had bright to look at but the face of her boy. taken a fair share of honours for his time. Yet with these two comforts she had He was not a genius, nor over-fond of managed to get on pretty well, and now books, but he loved his mother, and appreher son was turning into a tall brave lad. ciated the sacrifices she was making for Only let her live for a few years more and his sake. And, though he smiled a little at she might free him for ever from the her anxiety about the curse, his horror of it dangers that beset him.

was even greater than her own. She had saved her husband from the Thus Paul Finiston, sitting among his curse of his family, and she would also try books in the rude old window, would often to save her son. Her husband had been also raise his eyes and hopes to that dome the brother of Simon the miser. He had of promise against the clouds. He would obtained with difficulty a commission in stifle in his heart certain yearnings for an the army, and had been sent into the world open-air life; for travel, for change, for to seek his fortune. It had been her labour the ownership of country acres, and the

66

up.”

power of mastership in a dominion of his able arrangements made, he sanntered own. He would determine within him to let slowly down the quay with his hands in his no weakness of purpose throw him in the pockets. He gazed with new interest at way of temptation. He would become a the movements of the men in the boats. learned hard-headed man of business, who He spoke to them from the wall, and was should found a new house to redeem the pleased when they invited him on board; honour of his name; and above all should but the very last moment of lingering have no leisure for bad dreams.

arrived, and Paul was at his post when the Paul,” said his mother one evening as coach drove up. he came in and settled down to his books, He scanned the faces inside, and recog“I have had a letter from the west." nised his charge with a thrill of relief.

“ From the west !” echoed Paul, startled, They did not appear awful after all, and thinking of the miser.

they looked very tired, and very glad of “From dear old Martha Mourne. She him at the door. This no doubt made is coming to Dublin on business with her Paul look also glad to see them, and the inlawyer. And she says, “I will bring poor troduction was quite pleasant and friendly. Timothy's child to see you.''

There was nothing to object to about Miss “Who is poor Timothy's child ?” asked Martha, except that her bonnet was a little Paul. “Her niece? I hope she is not grown bruised on one side ; but that was from fall

For he was very shy of women, ing asleep against the side of the coach. She having been accustomed to speak to none looked thoroughly a lady in her neat garbut his mother.

ments of lavender and black, and her quick“She is a child of about twelve years witted ways seemed to announce that she old, if I remember. And you must be kind was accustomed to be no inconvenience to to her, Paul. You must meet them at the any one. Beside her sat a slim little maiden, coach and bring them here."

in a grey pelisse and a deep straw bonnet Paul pulled a face over his book, a sign tied down with white, who was cherishof dismay which he would not have shown ing fondly a basket of roses, which had his mother for the world. He tried to be faded, in her lap. And, when the bonnet glad that she should see a friend, but turned round, there were discovered under for himself he had a dread of old women it cheeks flushed with fatigue, and bright and children. Still he would be kind to eager eyes; a sweet little bloomy carnathem and civil to them, if he could. Hetion of a face. would meet them at the coach-office, of The travellers, upon their part, saw a course, and carry all their band-boxes, if strong, graceful, good-looking lad. The need be. He would pour out the tea as he face was as good a face as ever woman was accustomed to do, and help little missy looked upon. The features were manly, the and old madam to cake. But after all eyes dark and steady under finely marked these things were resolved upon, it could brows. They were sweet-tempered eyes, surely never hurt any one that he should yet suggestive of passion. The forehead kick his old boots about his own little room, was broad; and the temples_too full and wish the good people safely back where for any man, but a poet.

The halfthey came from.

curled locks were thick and fair, and the At four o'clock next day the coach came mouth looked particularly truthful. It was in. It was a long, rose-coloured evening not a very firm mouth, and yet not weak. towards the spring, full of soft promise of Truthful-looking and changeful, and very sweet months yet to come; bars of red fell apt to smile. And it smiled broadly as across the bridge, and spikes of burnished Paul Finiston handed young missy and old gold tipped the clustering spars, while madam out of the coach. masses of light and shade rolled up and As for parcels, Miss Martha had only two down the shifting shrouds, gambolling like small bags and a large umbrella, and it living things.

was as much as Paul could do to get leave Paul had laid the cloth, and brought the to carry the latter. fat roast chicken and the slices of cold ham “No, my dear," she said, “though I from the nearest cook's shop; had set forth like you for offering. It is a good sign to the fresh lemon-cakes and the strawberry see a lad polite to old women. But I'd preserves. The tea was in the teapot and rather you'd take hands with little May to the kettle on the hob. He had placed the keep her steady on the crossings.”. muffins at a prudent distance from the fire, So Paul marched forward with May where his mother on her sofa could turn under one arm and the umbrella under the them at her leisure; and, all these formid-other, and Miss Martha followed with a

[ocr errors]

an end.

manner.

bag in each hand. And, in spite of his home from India to reign in his stead, every dread of old women and children, Paul for one said it was a thing so plainly marked out got to be uneasy lest any of the Trinity by Providence and the local map-that fellows should happen to stroll down the the major couldn't but see it, and do as his street at the wrong minute, and behold this father had wished him to do; namely, take procession crossing the bridge.

Miss Belle, and in time the Loder property,

so soon as the days of mourning were at THE WHITE WITCH OF COMBE And perhaps things would have gone ANDREW.

their
way

if the Loders could have managed

to keep the major close, and not have let “I'll just go and see my Aunt Hagley : any one else have a chance. For he was see if I don't!"

fairly enough inclined to Miss Belle, when It was Mary Bernal who spoke, and it he first returned, and showed his liking was Jane Dalby to whom she spoke; and frankly. But in an evil hour for her he what she said she said with an air, as if accepted an invitation to stay a few days more was lying behind than the mere at Martin's Tor, the Rawdons' place; and words would show.

there he found Rose Kenealy, Mrs. RawJane Dalby tossed her head. “Go, and don's orphaned, penniless niece, whom they welcome!" she answered disdainfully. "For had adopted and brought up, and who was my part," she continued, “ I wouldn't own "ont" for her first year. as glib as you to an aunt like that old

To be sure the Rawdons, mindful of the Hagley. She's none such a dear to be common talk, had been careful to ask Belle 80 proud of!”

Loder at the same time as the major ; while, All very well, Jane, for you to cast to do them justice, no thought of little Rose, stones at aunt,” said Mary with a superior or her possible attractions, had entered into

“Me and them as knows- their calculations. She was but a child Here she stopped.

yet to them; and they did not think of “ Now then, go on, can't you ?” cried her marrying, any more than if she had Jane. “Out with it. You and them as been but ten years old instead of eighteen. knows what?"

They had known well and liked heartily "Well! we knows what we knows,” said old Darcy Crewkherne, and they had liked Mary, after a pause. “And now you're an

Julius too, when a boy ; and they wished to swered, Jane."

be neighbourly, that was all. And as Julius With which she left the servants' hall was anxious to both make new and retriumphantly, as one who has at least given establish old relations, he had gone to the enemy a check, if nothing worse ; going Martin's Tor willingly; and when he had up-stairs to adorn her young mistress, seen little Rose he had remained more Belle Loder; for it was dressing time; willingly. It was a case of love at first while Jane went to do the like office for sight; and the major was a man of a clear her young lady, Rose Kenealy ; both maids mind and determined will. having the same object at heart for each There could not be a more striking con

-the fascination of Major Julius Crewk. trast between two girls than there was herne, owner of Crewkherne Manor hard between Belle Loder and Rose Kenealy; by, and the handsomest man in Devon- and the contrast was not only on the outshire, as he was one of the best matches. side. Belle was a tall, largely made, sleepy

Now Crewkherne Manor and the Loder looking girl with a dead white skin, a proproperty lay handy to each other; and it fusion of straight and silky flaxen hair, had always been one of the favourite wishes and heavy-lidded eyes of light hazel, with of both houses, that the Crewkherne boy singularly large pupils. But you did not and the Loder girl would take a fancy to often see her eyes, for she had a trick of each other when they grew up, and so keeping them half closed; and only when enclose the two estates in a ring fence she wished to produce an effect did she that would suit every one concerned. Each open them fully. Rose, on the contrary, property alone was well enough; but, both was a small, slight, vivacious creature, with together, they would place the possessor a curly head of brightest brown, rose-red among the best of the county, and would cheeks, and large dark eyes that changed raise the joint families of Loder-Crewkherne with the light, being sometimes blue and to a position second to none in England. sometimes grey, but always bright and Wherefore it was, that when old Darcy frank, and tender or merry as the humour Crewkherne died and his son the major came took her. They were true Irish eyes, in

« AnteriorContinua »