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JALL THE YEAR POUNDS

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THE WICKED WOODS OF

panion. Her laugh was so pleasant, and

she was not afraid to talk, and she bad TOBEREEVIL.

such very lovely purple-coloured eyes !

Mrs. Finiston said: “And this is the little Italian !” kissed May, held her off

and looked at her, and kissed her very CHAPTER VI. MISS MARTHA MAKES A PROMISE.

heartily again. But after this she had no May had suddenly stepped from dream- eyes nor ears for any one save Martha. It land into a world of reality and bustle. was on Martha that her eyes had longed to What business could have brought so many rest. She had wished for, and been almost people together? Who could have built hopeless of, this visit. She had much to so many houses; and how did each person say to this friend. She could not set out know his own ? The best novelty of all, for the other world without first opening and the one which she had most leisure to her heart to her. She might have written examine, was the great tall boy who had to Martha, was in the habit of writing to untied her bonnet-strings, and who was her. She told her punctually that Paul looking at her and talking to her, as if she was an inch taller, and that butter was had been some one of importance—a grown very dear. But a gnawing anxiety was person at least-instead of being only little still stored ap in that heart which so proMay from Monasterlea. In a world where tested that it must rid itself of a burden. such people as this were to be found there She had waited and waited, hoping for was no knowing what one might expect. this chance visit. It is so much easier Since the shock of her disappointment in for a woman to explain herself to a friend, Katherine from Camlough her imagination while looking in the eyes or holding the had been empty of an idol

. Her heroine hand, than to put a plain statement upon had vanished; but now, behold a hero! paper. May, with a well-piled plate before her, * Paul,” said the mother, “will you take folded her little hands under the table, and the little girl to see the shops? They will sighed—a sigh of ineffable joy, whose still be open for an hour.” flavour was so high as almost to take away She spoke pleadingly, and turned to her appetite.

urge her petition by a look. But Paul was Paal found May a most unusual little already tying on May's bonnet. person. He wondered if it was her age “Oh, I hope they will not be shut," said that made her so pleasant to him. She the little girl, earnestly; "I have so many was not at all grown up, and yet was things to buy. Beads for Nanny, and far from being a baby. He had never ribbons for Bridget, and a cap with strings known a girl of this age before. It seemed for Con the fool. He loses all his hats, to him that he had never even passed one and gets pains in his ears." in the streets. All the rest whom he had "If the shops be shut,” said Paul, “why seen were either grown-up women or chil- we shall only have to break in the doors.” dren. But this one was child enough to “But I should not like you to get into be petted and treated without ceremony, trouble on my account,” said May, as they yet woman enough to be a desirable con- swept down the stairs at a flying pace.

VOL,

101

VI.

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She was divided between her admiration of life. For a sick, lonely woman I have had Paul's

prowess and her fears for his safety. very few whims. But now I believe that I “I'd much rather not make any disturb- am soon going to die." ance,” said she.

Miss Martha cleared her throat twice “We shall see,” said Paul, mischievously. before her voice was ready to answer.

The shops were found to be open. Nerer “Of course I am not going to laugh at was there such an expedition of wonder you, Elizabeth. It may, as you say, be a and excitement. Paul led his enchanted fancy. Very likely. But then, as companion first into a large boot and shoe have all got to die, it may happen to come shop, and asked for woollen caps with true. And you would like to arrange for strings for protecting the ears of fools. He it, just as if it were going to come true. I next introduced her to a millinory establish approve of that. Be ready for a thing, ment, festooned with bonnets and head and it is nothing when it comes. If this dresses, feathers and flowers, satins and appears coming, send for me without the tinsels, the like of which May could not delay of an instant, and I have no doubt at have imagined. And here Paul politely all that we shall help each other. There, asked for rosary beads “ fit for the pious now, we have faced it. And that being use of old women in the country.” May over, let me remind you that I am older thought it very odd that it should be so than you, and shall probably die first.'' difficult to get the things she wanted. Mrs. Finiston choked back a little flutter After this they went to picture-shops for of the heart. “I could wish to live," she cap-ribbons, and to a jeweller's for sugar- said, “and I will send for you if there is stick. In the end, however, and after time. In the mean time, I like to have much perseverance, they succeeded in get, things settled. There is Paul! Suppose I ting all they had been seeking for—and left him now, he has not a penny nor a something more besides. For Paul, hap- friend in the world.” pening to have, by accident, the price of a “He is the heir of Tobereevil,” said pair of new boots in his pocket, recklessly Miss Martha, boldly. expended half the sum on a cross of bog “Martha!" almost shrieked Mrs. Finiston, oak for May. It was handsomely carved, letting her friend's hand drop in dismay. and hung round her neck by a pretty black “Now, Elizabeth, be quiet. There has chain. May was so absorbed and trans- been a great deal of nonsense talked about fixed by gratitude and surprise, that he that curse, and I believe that it has worked had almost to carry her over the next two all the harm. If Simon Finiston had not crossings to save her from being run down known that he was cursed he would proby the jaunting-cars. And as his mind bably never have been the miser that he is. was rather uneasy about the money, he weak-minded people will submit to fate. soothed his conscience by laying out the The fascination of being marked out and other half on a pretty new Bible for his prophesied over is strong for little souls. mother. He resolved to wear his boots They like the eccentricity, and fall in with for another half-year. He would send it, and pander to their morbid expectations. them to the cobbler, and entreat the sullen Simon Finiston had as good a chance as servant in St. Audrey's-street to give them any man in the world, and his ruin is upon a little extra blacking every morning for his own head.” the future. And if all that did not make Mrs. Finiston was aghast at this speech. things right, why then that disagreeable She was so utterly surprised that for a future must e'en take care of itself.

moment she forgot her own troubles. Meantime the two friends in the high Never before had Martha Mourne been room had been occupied in dividing the heard to condemn Simon Finiston. But mother's trouble, share and share alike, the explanation of this outburst was easy, between two faithful hearts.

though poor Mrs. Finiston was too preocIt was nothing very new that Miss cupied to see it at the time. Miss Martha Martha had to bear; only the old, old had a fine little morsel of sublimity at the story, with the slight variation of Mrs. bottom of her simple heart. It may be Finiston's fears about her boy. The little that at this moment the memory of Simon bit of novelty being a vivid expectation of Finiston, as he had been once, was dearer her own approaching death.

to her than the reality of young Paul in his “I know you won't laugh at me, Martha,” present state of youthful undevelopment. she said, “though, of course, I do not insist But Miss Martha saw the drift of her friend's that this may not be a fancy. But you fears, and her handful of dried sentiment know I have been tolerably brave all my was cast out of the way like a sheaf of old

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lavender from a drawer. The future of a than if we had got everything at first. young man, she acknowledged, was more And please, Aunt Martha, do come close to precious than an old man's past.

the window and see what a beautiful present The shock of this surprise over, Mrs. he has bought me !" Finiston returned to her own affairs.

The entrance of a lamp here revealed “ But, Martha, Martha ! what happens Paul's face, which broadly reflected the to one man may happen to another.” girl's delight. The mother, who knew the

“I see no fears for your lad,” said Miss secret of the broken shoes, and the friend Martha. “Unlike his uncle, he has grown who did not, exchanged meaning glances. up quite apart from the dangerous in. They said to one another without words: fluence. He knows the evil, yet he has “ This lad is not likely to become a churl no morbid dread of it. And I see in his or a miser!" eye that he is no shallow soul. My friend, As Miss Martha was going out to her you must commit him to God and to me. lawyer's next day, Mrs. Finiston put her a If you go first I will try to be Elizabeth. question which it may be thought she might I am not a mother, but it may be that it is have put to her before. in me to act a motherly part.'

“And now that I have time to think of Mrs. Finiston sobbed, and squeezed the it, Martha, what is this business that has spinster's fingers.

brought you up to town?" “Well, then, let us see.

He will one

The answer was hard to give, but Miss day be called upon to accept the inheritance Martha was honest, and it came out of Tobereevil. Do as we will the future bluntly. will place him in that position. You have · "My landlord thinks of raising my prepared him well to receive such a trying rent,” she said, showing some confusion of stewardship. He will be close to us who manner, "and"-here she was looking are his friends. He will bring a generous anxiously over the table for the gloves ardour to the righting of what is wrong. which were on her hands—"I do not feel And you know I am not so credulous as justified in complying with his demand." some, and I hold that when a person is Mrs. Finiston knew well who the landstriving to do his best, the Lord is very lord was. Truly old Simon's disease was likely to step in and help him."

progressing. “ It is true," said Mrs. Finiston, with

CHAPTER VII. TRYING TO BE ELIZABETH. many more sobs; “ I have sometimes had dreams like this, but the bitterness of my Miss MARTHA was right and wrong when fears always frightened them away." she persuaded Paul's mother that her fears

"And as I have found you so credulous of approaching death were unfounded. of prophecies," went on Miss Martha, with Three years passed away, and Mrs. Finisincreased liveliness of manner, “I will ton still lived, still languished on her sofa, Fenture to foretell something which the and paid her son's college fees, and wrote least superstitious may expect to come to letters to her friend at Monasterlea. But pass. One Paul Finiston brought evil into one morning, while Miss Mourne bustled the country. Another Paul shall cast it briskly about her breakfast-room, she got ont. We shall see your boy break this ugly the news that Mrs. Finiston was no longer spell upon his race, and begin a reign of in the world. The end had been quick; peace among our hills !"

there had been scarcely any warning, and Miss Martha wound up this little period little time for reluctance and regret. with a most unusual note in her matter-of- Then Miss Martha, reading her letter fact yoice. And Mrs. Finiston, carried with red eyes, had reason to remember that away by the eloquence of her friend, flung she had said, "I will try to be Elizabeth.” her arms round her neck and wept all the She would have remembered it in any remnant of the tears she had to weep. case, but the special reason which suggested But in the course of a few minutes this it came in the form of a message from the scene was interrupted by the young people dead. It was simply, “Go to Simon,” bursting in at the door, May flourishing scrawled feebly upon a morsel of paper. The invisible purchases over her head, and dying hand had been unable to write more. calling upon every one to admire them in Well, Miss Martha would go to Simon. the dark.

She knew all that would have been added " And, oh, such hunting as we have to those few eager words had there been had !” she exclaimed. “We were in at least time. Miss Martha would go to Simon. ten shops before we could get anything we Now Martha Mourne was not romantic. wanted. And it was so much better fun | Even in her youth she had been remark

sense.

able for nothing so much as simple common past her feet. Here and there a rusted

The experience of a long life had gate barred her way, while a broken-down done its utmost to make her the most fence reluctantly allowed her to proceed. matter-of-fact person in the world. And And as she made her way resolutely past yet there was something within her that all obstacles, there were other things be. made it difficult that she should go to sides the cruel east wind that plucked at see Simon of Tobereevil. So difficult that her sorely. She remembered how many Miss Martha would rather have marched and many a time she had been used to trip into a battle-field in her neat bright goloshes up and down that avenue. She saw the and best black silk, and taken the few odd moss-covered trunk on which she had liked chances for her life. It was twenty years to stand to get a favourite view down an since she had seen Simon Finiston. And arch of the trees, thinking pleasantly all on the occasion of that last meeting she the time of what things she and Simon had broken off an engagement, which had would do when they should become owners then already lasted nearly a quarter of a life of Tobereevil. They would prune and weed,

a time. She had sought him then as she was and tilland plant, until the wilderness should going to seek him now, had spoken to him, be changed into a paradise. They would and left him before his own door-step. She make the mountains glad, and restore the was not going to have the blood of the tarnished honour of the Finistons. Then poor upon her head, and their hunger.cry the desolation of Tobereevil had possessed in her ears all her life. If he would per. a weird charm for her, as the haunt of an sist in walking evil ways, why, then, she evil genius which was to be banished one must let him walk them alone. She had day by the force of her strong goodwill. waited and hoped till suspense had

gnawed Then the mansion itself, the mansion which the pith out of her heart. Now she was was just now showing a cold grey shoulder going away to mend her wounds, and to fit between the trees, had been as the castle herself for a life of wholesome labour else- of an ogre, which was to be charmed into where. It was in this way that she had a home of all blessedness and happiness. talked to him, and left him, and he had These had been a young girl's joyful exwalked his evil ways quite alone ever since. pectations. Yet now all that she looked It had pleased her later to come back upon was sunk a hundred times deeper in in her independence and settle for old ruin than it had been in the hour of her age within a mile of Tobereevil. But it hope. did not please her tr confront this old man Miss Martha did not dwell upon these who could remind her that certain five thoughts at all. She simply gathered up years of her life had been full of a light her wits and her skirts, and held both which had failed her, and that other ten well in control, as she confronted the years had been racked with the worst grief sour visage of the house. She rememthat can be suffered, the ill-doing and dis- bered it well, she had known it morose, grace of one entirely beloved. To save and threatening, and woebegone; but she herself from death she would not have en. saw now the marks of twenty years of tered in at that rusty gate and travelled extra desolation on its front. It had gained up that dismal avenue. But she knew an air of surly recklessness, and much of very well what she had meant when she its dignity was gone. There was a savage had said, “I will try to be Elizabeth." raggedness about its chimneys, and window

The unkind March wind was making a sills, and door-steps, tufted with tall wild jest of her all the time, plucking at her grass, and fluttering with streamers of the gown, and puffing in her face, and singing most flaunting weeds. The greenness of out a loud shrill song at her expense, that the earth had not been content with eating made the tender buds shiver on the trees. up the approaches to the walls, but seemed It was as hard upon her as would have resolved to make its way under the very been any other raw blustering thing that roof itself. prided itself on youth, and had no pity Miss Martha saw the one cow feeding on upon the romance of a weather-beaten the lawn, and the few famished hens that heart. Miss Martha often paused to con- were pecking about the door-step.

The sider her way, for the trees and the door was opened by a dreadful old woman, weeds seemed to have eaten up the land- a mass of rags and patches, whose face was marks which she had known. There were disfigured, apparently, by the grime and no longer any traces of the broad carriage discontent of years. This was the wretched drive. The branches of the trees hung old woman who was held in aversion by across the path, and the rabbits scampered the country because, for some reasons best

never

known to herself, she had chosen to devote manly hue above the dainty lace of his her services to the miser of Tobereevil; to ruffles, and when his well-cut profile had live a life of starvation under an accursed looked all the more stately from the becomroof. It was doubtless but seldom that ingness of the quaint and jaunty queue. she was required to answer a summons at Time had been when no finer foot and leg that inhospitable door. She looked as had stepped down the country-dance. Now scared at the wholesome apparition of Miss the limbs hung lank and limp, the knees Mourne, as if she had been suddenly con- clinging together under the patched and fronted with a whole gang of thieves. threadbare garb.

All across the vast and empty stone hall, A violent fit of agitation seized him as and away in the chamber where he stood Miss Martha spoke. Amazement, shame, at the moment, Simon Finiston heard and embarrassment struggled all together wrangling at his door. Old Tibbie's dis- in his face. It was not the sight of Miss cordant voice echoed among the rafters like Martha that had moved him, but the sound the sound of a loud quarrel. Miss Martha's of her voice. The twenty years had done tones did not travel so far, but every harsh their work upon her too, and out of the note of Tibbie's had an echo of its own, fogs of his puzzled brain he might hardly and there might bave been an angry crowd have recognised her. She had upon the door-step.

been a beauty; only one of those maidens The miser had been pacing up and down whose temper and wit idealise the homelihis room, being in a humour more than ness of their features in the eyes of all those usually timorous. As he walked he twisted who come under their spell. A husband his hands together wildly, and at intervals who had married Martha in her youth struck his forehead in the agony of his would have gone on thinking her a beauty mind. He was beginning to fear that his till her death ; but a lover who had not memory failed him.

He was subject to seen her since her youth would now wonder momentary forgetfulness of the exact posi- to find that she had altered into a plaintion of each tittle of his possessions. Some featured woman.

The memory

would

pretimes, for an instant, he could not remem- sent her as a person of rare charms, rather ber in which pocket he had placed the key than a creature of mere freshness and of the drawer, in which he kept the key of comeliness, sliining with good sense and the closet, in which was hid the key of the grace. But Simon knew her by her voice. desk, where lay safely, under heaps of It echoed yet her steady self-containment yellow papers, the key of the safe in which and simple goodwill, and now that the a large amount of money was stored. This sparkle had left her eyes, it was the truest noise in his hall alarmed him. There were messenger of the spirit still within her. loaded pistols upon a bench in a corner,

and The narrow soul of the miser was stabbed he placed his hand upon one in terror, and on the instant by the idea that here was looked towards the door. The door opened his former love come in person to reproach and Miss Martha came in, having van him, to try to assert something of her quished Tibbie, and sent her growling to olden power, so as to wheedle him into her den.

lowering her heavy rent. He could not “ You need not be alarmed, sir," said talk to her face to face, and he would not, she, cheerfully, “I am come to rob you of and as she was there confronting him, and, nothing but a few moments of your time." being nearest the door, in a way held him

Then these two, who had been lovers, prisoner, he instinctively put up a blind looked upon one another.

which might enable him to hold parley with The old man was tall, withered, and her at ease. blighted-looking, and so ill-clad, that the A look of cunning gleamed out of the blast from the door seemed to pierce him confusion of his face, and he became tranwhere he stood. It was difficult to believe quil. that he had once been handsome, yet the “Pray be seated, madam,” he said, with features were imposing, though hacked and an assumption of benevolence and statelinotched by the wrinkles and hollows of ness. He drew his frail garment around the flesh. Once the countenance had been him, and sat down on one of the few old pleasant and bland, but there were snarling carved oaken chairs that were in the room. lines defacing it now that made one shrink To the cushions of these still clung a few from the creature, shadowy as he was. fragments of the ruby-tinted velvet, which Time had been when the powdered curls had made some attempt at covering them had hung gracefully over the polished fore. when Martha had, seen them last. The head, when the complexion had worn a chilly March sun- gleam flickered down

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