Imatges de pÓgina

cynically you are speaking. Are you not dead, and the search could only originate well, dear?"

with the father, and it is not likely that Quite well, Alice. Why do you ask ?" after leaving the mother of his child to “Your face is rather flushed, 'dear, and die in a workhouse bed, he will have any there is a strange look in your eyes, such long deferred stings of conscience to make as I have never noticed before. Oh, John! him inquire as to what has become of her I am certain you work too hard, and all offspring. Oh, John, when I think of the this travelling is too much for you. When wickedness that goes on in the world, will you give it up ?”

through men, John, through men alone, “When I see my way to settling down for women are but what men choose to here in peace and comfort with you, my make them, I am so thankful that it was darling, and little Bell. Depend upon it given to me to win the honest, noble love when that opportunity comes I shall grasp of an honourable man, and to be removed it eagerly enough !"

in good time from the temptations assailing “And when will it come, John ?” a girl in the position which I occupied.

That, my child, it is impossible to say; Now, John, no more wine!" it may come sooner than we expect; I hope

“ Yes," he cried, “ give it to me quickly, it will, I'm sure. It is the one thing now full, full to the brim, Alice. There !” he at the close of my life left me to look for- said, as he drained it. “I am better now, ward to.”

I wanted some extra stimulant, to-night; I “ Don't talk about the close of your life suppose I am knocked up by my journey.” in that wicked way, John. I am sure if “Your face was as pale then as it was you only take care of yourself when you flushed before, John. I shall take upon are away on those journeys, and mind that myself to nurse you, and you shall not your bed is always aired, and see that you leave home again until you are quite have proper food, there is no question recovered, whatever Mr. Calverley may about the close of your life until you have say! You should have him here some seen little Bell grown up into a marriage- day, John, and let me talk to him. I able young woman."

warrant I would soon bring him round to “Poor little Bell,” said John Claxton, my way of thinking." with a grave smile; “dear little Bell. I "Your ways are sufficiently coaxing to

“ don't think we did wrongly, Alice, in do that with anybody, Alice," said John adopting this little fatherless, motherless Claxton, with a faint smile; “but never waif?"

mind Mr. Calverley just now; what were “Wrong, indeed! I should think not,” we saying before ?" said Alice, quickly. “ Even from a selfish “I was saying how pleased I was to be point of view it was one of the best things removed from the temptations to which a we ever did in our lives. See what a com- girl in the position which I held is always panion she is to me while you are away; exposed.” see how the time which I have to spare No,” said Claxton, “I don't mean that after attending to the house, and my gar

- before." den, and my reading, and my music, and “Yes, yes," said Alice, “I insist upon all those things which you insist upon talking about these old times, John; you my doing, John, and which I really go never will, and I have no one else who through conscientiously every day; see how knows anything about them, or can discuss the spare time, which might be dull, is them with me. Now, do you recollect," filled up in dressing her, and teaching her, she continued, nestling closer to him, “ the

" and listening to her sweet little prattle. first time you saw me ?” Do

you think we shall ever find out whose “Recollect it! As you were then, I can child she was, John ?”

see you now.” “No dear, I should say not. You have “And so can I you, you are not altered the clothes which she had on, and the little an atom. You were standing at a book. gold cross that was found round the mother's stall in Low Ousegate, just beyond the neck after her death; it is as well to keep bridge, looking into a book, and as I passed them in case any search should be made by with the two little Prestons you raised after the child, though the probability of your eyes from the book and stared at me that is very remote.”

so hard, and yet so gravely, that I-_" “We should not give Bell up, whatever “That you were quite delighted," said search might be made, should we, John ?" John Claxton, putting his arm round her; said Alice, quickly. "The poor mother is “ you know that, so don't attempt a bash


went up

fulness which is foreign to your nature, that matter, John,” said Alice; "neither but confess at once."

Mr. nor Mrs. Preston had the slightest in“I decline to confess any such thing,” terest in me, and when I left they cared said Alice. “Of course, I was in the habit not what became of me. I suited them as of being stared at by the officers and the a governess, and they were angry when I young men of the town. Come now, there first told them I was going away; but is the return blow for your impertinent hit when they saw that I had fully made up just now; but one scarcely expects to create my mind, their sole thought was how best to an impression on people whom one finds supply my place. As to what became of glozing over bookstalls.

me, that was no concern of theirs.” “Elderly people, you should have said, “No,” said John Claxton, whose colour Alice."

had returned, and who seemed to have re“Elderly people, I will say, John, if it gained his ordinary composure," no conpleases you. Much less does one expect to cern, perhaps, of either Mr. or Mrs. Pressee them lay down the book, and come ton; but what about the young gentleman sailing up the street after one in direct whom you mentioned just now, Alice, Mr. pursuit."

Preston's nephew, Mr. Arthur, as he was “Oh! you saw that, did you, miss ? called ? Your decision as to the future You never told me that before !"

course of life you intended to adopt was “Saw it, of course I saw it. What not quite so immaterial to him, was it, woman ever misses anything of that kind ? child ?” At a distance you tracked me straight to “ What do you mean, John ?” said Alice, Mr. Preston's door, saw me and my little looking down, as the blood began to mount charges safely inside, and then turned on into her cheeks. your heel and walked away.”

“ You know well enough what I mean, “ While

you to your room and child; exactly what I say. Mr. Arthur Pressat down before your glass, admiring your ton took great interest in you—was in love own charms, and thinking of the dashing with you, in point of fact-is not that so ?” young cavalier whose attention you had just “He said so, John; but his actions beattracted. Was that it?” said John. lied his words. No man who had any real,

“Nothing of the sort, though I don't honest love-nay, more, I will go further, mind confessing that I did wonder whether and say respect for a girl — could have I should ever see you again! And then, spoken or acted towards me as he did.” two days after, when Mrs. Preston told me Why, Alice,” said John Claxton, lookto take the little girls into the drawing- ing with surprise at her flushed cheeks, room in the evening, and to be sure that you never told me anything of this before. they practised thoroughly some piece which Why have you kept it secret from me ?” they would be called upon to play, as there “Because I know, John,” said Alice, laywas a gentleman coming to dinner who ing her hand upon his shoulder, " that doted on little children, how could I have however outwardly calm and quiet you the slightest idea that this benevolent may appear to be, however sensible and Mr. Claxton was to be my friend of the practical you are in most matters, you have Low Ousegate bookstall ? And yet you a temper which, when anything touching scarcely spoke to me once during that my honour or my dignity is involved, is evening, I remember!"

quite beyond your control. I have seen its “That was my diplomacy, my child; but effects before, John, and I dreaded any reI paid great attention to Mrs. Preston, and petition of them." was very favourably received by her.” “ Then why do you tell me now?"

Yes, I heard Mr. Preston say to Mr. “Because we are far away from York, Arthur, as they stood behind the piano, John, and from Arthur Preston and his 'He's of the house of Calverley and Com- friends, and there is no likelihood of our pany of Mincing-lane. Thee hast heard of seeing any of them again, so that I know it? Its transactions are enormous.' your temper can be trusted safely now,

"And I won Mr. Preston's heart by a John; for however much it may desire to good order for wine,” said John Claxton; break out, it will find no object on which to "and then I threw off all disguise, and I vent itself.” am afraid made it clear that I had only 6. This conversation and conduct then of made his acquaintance for the sake of pay- Mr. Arthur Preston were matters, I am to ing court to his governess.”

understand, in which your honour and dig“You need have very little delicacy in nity were involved, Alice ?"


“ To a certain extent, John, yes,” faltered ternal game-laws, our equitable law of Alice.

landlord and tenant, are all in danger; " I should like to know what they were ?" when, on the other hand, the urban public said John Claxton. “I put no compulsion believe that a family quarrel on these topics on you to tell me. I have never asked you is raging in many country parishes-it may since our marriage to tell me anything of be useful to describe a bright little scene your previous life; but I confess I should enacted the other day by all these characlike to know about this !”

ters (except Barlow), for it affords some “I will tell you, John,” said Alice; “I timely and pleasant considerations. always intended to do so; it is the only It was the home-coming of the squire thing I have kept back from you, and often of Platting-Hugh with his bride. The and often while you have been away have I squire had intended, apparently, to get thought, if anything happened to you or to married “on the quiet, as they say in me-if either of us were to die, I mean, these parts. But he is the great man of John-how grieved I should be that I had the place, master of the H. B. fox-hounds, not told you of this matter. Arthur Pres- landlord of numerous farms, deputy-lienton pretended he loved me, but he could tenant, and all the rest of it; and his not have done so really. No man who is modest programme to get married at the wicked and base can know what real love country seat of the bishop of the diocese by is, John, and Arthur Preston was both. special license, to be conveyed in a special Some little time before I knew you he train to a by-station, and to slip home unmade love to me-fierce, violent love. I observed, oozing out, the important populahad not seen you then, John; I had scarcely tion of Platting declared itself slighted, and seen any one. I was an unsophisticated rose as one man. It held public meetings, country girl, and I judged of the reality of appointed a reception committee, and prohis love by the warmth of his professions, claimed a general holiday. Tenants on the and told him I would marry him. I shall estate, farmers all over the H. B. country, never forget that scene! It was one sum- even the members of that distinguished mer's evening, on the river-bank just hunt, declared that they would waylay the abreast of Bishopthorpe. When I men- happy pair at their own park-gate, and tioned marriage he almost laughed, and greet them with a hearty welcome. then he told me in a cynical, sneering Upon these urgent representations the way, that he never intended to be married Chickabiddy station was abandoned, and unless he could find some one with a large the Platting station adopted. Being a fortune, or with peculiar means of extend- stranger, I made for the wrong park-gate ing his uncle's business when he inherited on the appointed day -- having heard it. But that, meanwhile, he would give me all the above gossip at the inn where the prettiest house within twenty miles. I my hunter stands-nor could I see a soul need not go on; he would not make me on my route to set me right. All the cot. his wife, but he offered to make me his tages on the Platting-Hugh estate which I mistress. Was it not unmanly in him, John ? passed-numerous and new-looking—were Was it not base and cowardly ?"

deserted. The one policeman at the She stopped and looked at her husband. Chickabiddy station who opened my way But John Claxton, whose face had become across the rails, knew nothing. Nobody pale again, his chin resting on his hand, could be observed in the home-farm yard; and his eyes glaring into the fire, made her the lodge was shut up, the gate wide open ; no reply.

not a living creature to be seen, nor a sound to be heard in the park. Cantering over

the turf between the trees, I felt like an BRINGING HOME A BRIDE.

explorer in some exquisitely planted back

woods. Was I too late? Had I been " At a time when”—as Mr. Barlow would hoaxed ? Had the marriage been put off'; have told Sandford and Merton* — the

or, spiteful conjecture, had it gone off altoclaims of the British labourer divide atten

gether? tion with the Alabama claims; when the ruin of the country is predicted for the shied: a burst of huzzas pierced by a

The answer was startling. My horse hundredth time from a threatened rise in tally-o or two which might have split, but that bloated spendthrift's wages; when our concise and simple land-laws, our pa- them! Clear of my screen of trees, no pan

were not muffled by the tent that covered * See ALL THIE Year Round, New Series, vol. i. p. 156. tomime ever displayed a quicker transfor



mation scene. Suddenly presented to me scouts telling themselves off to distant

I were the decorated mansion in a dip of a coigns of vantage to give notice of the apgrassy slope, triumphal arches, carriage- proach of the carriage and (happy) pair. drives lined with Venetian masts and ban- A high embankment outside the parkners, the foreground crowned with an gate conducts the railway into Platting. enormous marquee flaunting gaily with Upon this all eyes were fixed. Something flags; crowds of riderless horses lazily led like a shrill vicw-hallo in remote perspecabout by holiday labourers ; lastly, their tiveis discerned. Was it the special whistle? riders merrily emerging from the festive Attention! Another sibilation, more distent pulling on their gloves to mount. Pre- tinct, followed very soon by the special vious solitude and silence were at once itself. It

passes at “slowed":


Four accounted for. Everybody belonging to the hundred of the soundest lungs in two place was there, and nowhere else. Inside counties discharge a volley of cheers which, the tent everybody was listening to wed- drowning the noise of the engine, must ding-day oratory that commanded silence, have startled the two distinguished pasuntil pent-up enthusiasm burst forth and sengers who had so recently been made banished every unhandsome doubt.

Showers of invitations to "just one glass Surely we shall not have to wait much of champagne to wish them joy, you know," longer now," I remarked to my left-hand dismounted and brought me inside the file. pavilion to behold an immense and sump- Ah !” he replied, “ you don't know the tuous wedding - breakfast - Gunter fecit. Platting folks. When once they get hold But there was no time for feasting: An of 'em” ('em I took to mean the squire equestrian procession was being marshalled and his bride) " they won't part with 'em in by a host of comma

manding officers amidst a a hurry." medley of yeomanry and hunting shouts- This gentleman's further information of-command. Yet we managed to form may be summed up thus. Platting shops fours behind a huge waggonette with mag- shut, streets lined with streamers and nificent post-boys containing the volunteer people. Band of Royal Horse Guards from brass band, and promptly to obey a con- London. Procession formed of freeholders, fusing order compounded of “Quick flagholders, and lodge Number Fifteen

" march !” and “Forra'd on!”

Hundred and One of the Odd Fellows. We presented a strong muster: four School children to sing, in the red-carpeted hundred horse at least. Our march through station, a hymn composed expressly for the best part of a mile of gravelled drive did occasion by the Platting poet. us real credit. We must have convinced

Meanwhile, more loud music: white cob the foreign invader (who, if present, na- next to unmanageable, obliging its accomturally kept in the background) with what plished rider remarkable ease the English hunter can be trained into the formidable trooper. A

To witch the world with noble horsemanship few chargers, however, showed no taste for more frantically than ever. Gradualreaction military music, especially a sturdy white into subdued expectation; the merest mocob, posted in the van, and therefore too tion at the gate causing a universal flutter. near the waggonette. The brazen fanfare The first views of a much admired visand the big drum drove him nearly mad. countess driving her grand roan, of a Yet, although he caused gaps in our ranks one-horse waggonette freighted with back here and there, the way in which we halted views all chignon and white muslin, of at the gorgeous arch near to the gate of three policemen in three single detachtriumphal entry, deployed twos about, and ments—each separately greeted with a half formed up on the turf in a lane of single lines spoken “ Here they are !” for the bridal procession to pass through, But see! The only scout in sight on the must have filled our innumerable com- margin of the lake capers uneasily. He manders-in-chief with pride in themselves, canters towards the arch.

Here comes admiration of us, and confidence in our another, galloping; a third ; a dozen; horses; all which they showed by promul- twenty; half a hundred ; squadrons of gating very complicated orders to be executed outposts galloping like mad. No mistake at the supreme moment. Also, for fear of now. A faint cheer in the Platting road. mistakes, they put us through a distract- Yet no wedding carriage. Delay accounted ing preliminary drill, which had the effect for by a halted scout breathless and deof thinning our ranks; large numbers of liquescent. Young ladies at the gate,



gasps, are showering bouquets on the book full of questions. What did this bride, and more school children are sing- merry, warm-hearted welcome indicate ? ing more hymns, composed expressly for Was it purse-worship of a millionaire: the occasion by the Platting poet. A sweet kow-tow to a golden idol? Was it family musical little cheer is wafted to us—end of worship offered up to the heir of a long hymn, perhaps. Four yeomanry cavalry line of ancestry? Did it, on the contrary, in full uniform prance into view through testify to the results of clean and careful the gate. Then (tremendous excitement), tillage observable as far as the eye could seated in an open calèche,

reach, to the well-built home-steadings,

to the clusters of comfortable labourers' THE BRIDE AND BRIDEGROOM.

cottages, and to the fact that where the The blare of music, even the park artil- land is well cared for, human beings are lery is drowned by every form of cheering well-cared for also ? Would there be known to excited mankind. Total military starvation, and dissension, and strikes any. disorganisation and grand concentric charge, where, if other estates were as well ad. until every horse is wedged in tight round ministered as, to the stranger's eye, this the carriage. Dead stoppage. Bride and Platting-Hugh property appears to be? bridegroom bowing and smiling at large; Would not a great many noble lords and carriage gradually disentangled, and the right honourable and honourable gentle

on pell-mell. A shriek! men who sit in parliament under the preAlarming halt. The white cob has dis- tence of managing the affairs of the nation, posed of his rider close under the hoofs of render the nation more happy, glorious, the bridal horses. Shock recovered (no- and (best of all) contented, if they would body hurt), a mobbed and tangled race condescend to give more time and closer commences for the near side of the calèche attention to their own affairs; or, if they and a sight of the bride. I win. One would select land - stewards with higher glance confirms the county verdict to objects than screwing down wages, screwthe full. If I said more, superlatives (how- ing up rents, taking everything that can ever truthful) might spur me over the be got off the land, and putting nothing fences of propriety. For this there would be into it or upon it except game ? no excuse after the remarkable instance of

And so— leaving the answers to wiser good taste then displayed. A great open heads than mineends my catechism. semicircle of turf stretches out in front of the mansion. Here, by a spontaneous instinct, the whole festive army halted, that the GENERAL TACON'S JUDGMENT. squire might alight with his bride at his own door alone. An enormous half-moon Since the Pearl of the Antilles has of by no means irregular horse was, con- adorned the Spanish crown, the island of sequently, drawn up on the outer edge of Cuba has always been governed by a this huge lawn. But, when the calèche captain-general, a mighty personage, inmoved empty away from under the portico vested with much the same power of autholeaving the handsome spouses standing rity as that of a monarch in some counhand-in-hand on the steps bowing their tries, and like a king could not possibly do thanks, an inspired trumpeter sounded the anything that was wrong. The Cubans charge, and the dense circle made a fearful have seldom had reason to be grateful to rush up to the very pillars of the portico. Spain for the rulers she has appointed over The bridegroom favoured us with a pleasant them, because these have been usually thanksgiving speech, the lady took an selected rather on the score of influence emotional leave in dumb-show amidst final than capacity or merit. There is, however, volleys of ringing acclamation, and, led on record at least one captain-general into the house by her husband, the cere- whose name is held in esteem by the Cuban mony of Bringing Home the Bride was people, on account of the good he effected completed.

during his short reign in Havannah. CapDuring my return-especially on the tain-General Tacon established some degree crown of the hill outside the park over- of safety for the inhabitants by introducing looking a broad extent of excellent farm- new laws, and by severely punishing cer. ing — the spirit of Barlow was drearily tain social offences which his predecessors supplanted in my soul by the shade of had rather overlooked, if they did not themPinnock. In the vein of that immortal selves set the example. It is said of Tacon catechist I asked myself a whole sixpenny- that, like Alfred the Great, he promised

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