Pointing : over the scene it seemed to tell a tale of….

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[37] the owner of those rich domains.

He mused over its proud possessors, whom death had swept away-of the triumphs and festivals which had ushered in their” coming of age”- the gloomy train of mourners mustering in solemn array when they died-the black hearse and nodding plumes, wedding favours and music, that had waved, and sounded, down that long aisle of elm-trees-and he walked along, sad and thoughtful.

Sometimes his eye caught a glimpse of level and lawn-like pastures, where the sunshine slept on swards of velvet, that glowed in the richest green of spring.

Further on, the broad river heaved in sight, now sparkling through the distant landscape, and again hidden by some clump of noble oaks, until it was once more revealed through the opening of the copse, that seemed to sweep, winding and woody, to its very brink.

In some places the ground swelled into verdurous hillocks, reared pile above pile, like waves of flowers, then sank again into deep and delicious valleys, above which peered the thatched roof of a deer-shed, or the topmost boughs of the sheeted hawthorn.

Gideon looked around, and marvelled why one so undeserving should dwell, in such a paradise, forgetting for the moment that every bosom must have within itself its own quiet heaven.

In some places little enclosures extended to the barriers of thicket and underwood, and in these green solitudes flocks of sheep were seen grazing; their long flaky wool forming beautiful contrasts beside the foliage, and breaking the monotonous colour of the uplands, by masses of dingy white.

Sometimes a straggling deer crossed the sunlight of a distant glade, and moved leisurely along, until only his lofty antlers were seen above the burnished gold of the furze or broom.

Then the eye swept over a sea of foliage, masses of light and shade, bronzy, and silver-bright, some hanging lightly together, or overspread by gloomy pines, that darkened the springing under-wood, and saddened the sunshine which streamed feebly onhazel or hawthorn beneath.

Anon, the road diverged into wild bridlepaths, or ridings, and wound through wooded solitudes, where the ring-dove built and the grey rabbit burrowed, and the gaudy plumage of the pheasant might be seen peeping between the briars and bracken-spots where a care-worn man might sit and brood, until he reconciled himself to the follies of the world, and learnt to pity and forgive mankind for all the injuries they had done to him. Seek out these sweet solitudes, all ye who are sick and weary at heart! for nature hath a balm that will heal a thousand maladies; she will send a gushing thrill through the sinking spirit, will raise the [38] drooping head and the desponding heart, and shed over the darkened soul a tranquil light, that will fall upon it like a rich sunset, and streak the coming night of the grave with a subdued and solemn splendour.

There is something in lonely fields and silent woods that seems to subdue the iron of our nature-that melts the sterner feelings, and makes us feel a spiritual alliance with the green and living things around; and we think how other eyes, in future years will be gazing on those very scenes, while we, freed from all feelings of hatred or love, sleep beside friend or foe, unconsciously; while suns rise and set upon our graves, and the busy world, with all its cares and heartaches, can interest us no more.

And from these thoughts spring others of a more tender nature; we become wiser, and grow better; we see our own weaknesses, and feel our own follies; and we seem more able to bear with the faults of our fellow-creatures; for we know that in a few brief years, the fever and the fret of this life will be at an end, and the great eternal morning break at last upon all alike, and that mystery, which the fading eye of king and clown sought in vain to penetrate, shall be revealed.

It might be that some such thoughts as these passed through the mind of the humble Roper as he threaded his way along the wooded paths of the park, and he muttered to himself,” We shall at last sleep in the same churchyard.” He turned up one of those secluded bridlepaths which we have already mentioned, and which was the nearest way to the hall,-for the park covered an immense space of ground.

The road he now pursued was one that was but seldom traversed, for it wound past a spot which tradition had associated with some murder, committed many years ago by one of Sir Edward’s ancestors, and the place bore an evil name.

Owing to this, the pathway had been neglected, the grass rose high and rank in the very centre of it, and the straggling bramble and rugged furze, grew on unmolested in the very spot which in former days the beautiful daughter of the hall, and the humble domestics, were wont to traverse.

The trees had also mingled their branches together overhead without interruption, and so intertwisted bough with bough, that it was only in a few places, in the height of summer, when the gloomy pathway was enlivened and chequered by the piercing sunbeams.

By degrees the road widened, until it shewed a more open and desolate space than any the Roper had hitherto passed.

A dark and sluggish pool of water, extending to a considerable distance, was overhung with black-firs, and other trees of dense foliage, which added to its gloomy and melancholy appear‑ [39] ante.

An old fountain, now partially overgrown with long moss and wild weeds, which had shot out from the fissures, stood in ruins amid the solitude; for it had been partly destroyed, and suffered to fall into decay, and all that remained was the lower portion and the shattered head of a dolphin, from the jaws of which still trickled forth a stream of water, fed from some neighbouring spring on the hill.

The low mournful sounding of the waterfall was the only voice that broke the silence which reigned around.

Beside the ruined fountain stood a bold, bare, and blasted oak, presiding like a huge skeleton.

Over the scene; it seemed to tell a tale of levenfire and forgotten thunder-storms, for the bolt and the blaze had long ago laid low its ancient head, and it stood like a landmark of time, pointing out to its own destruction.

Gideon Giles paused a moment to gaze upon the scene we have described, and when he again raised his eyes, Sir Edward Lee stood before .him.

The Baronet might have stolen away unperceived; so deeply was the Roper wrapt up in his own thoughts, and so noiseless was the approach of the former on the grassy pathway, had not his dog first given the alarm.

As it was, however, they met face to face, and stood gazing on each other for the space of a few moments in silence. Although the Baronet stood erect, and, tried to appear composed before his opponent, still his colour changed from red to pale, and his eye quailed before the fixed glance of Gideon, as the latter exclaimed, with a firm deep voice, “Sir Edward Lee! art thou not ashamed to look upon my face, after the insult offered to my daughter?” He raised his arm as he spoke, and pointed out his finger, and the rich man stood appalled before the poor one, but answered not a word.” Was I a wealthy man like yourself,” continued the undaunted Roper,” the society in which you move would no longer consider me worthy of the name of a man unless I made an attack upon your life;-I am not a man of blood,-if I were, on this spot would I wreak my revenge.” “Do you dare to threaten me, Sir,” said the Baronet, now bridling up, though his voice trembled as he spoke;” Remember who I am, and where you now stand.” “I dare defend the honour of my child,” said Gideon, his look growing sterner as he spoke;” Provoke me not to do what I dare — in this spot we are at least equal.” He clenched his teeth together, and his hand closed as if involuntary; another angry word, at that moment, and he would have struck the proud Baronet to [40] the earth; – but he spoke not, and Gideon mastered the rising passion which was fast overpowering him : he turned pale as death for an instant-then again seemed to become calm.” Let us change places,” continued Gideon : “fancy for a moment it is your own daughter-that you stand face to face with a man who has attempted the dishonour of Miss Lee,-it was last night,-and you meet him now in this solitude.

Ten years ago, Sir Edward Lee, and had this happened, that dark lake should have closed over either your body or mine;–then I knew no law saving my own passions; – even now I am tempted The words seemed to stick in his throat. – Ten years ago, and the face of the Baronet would have blackened beneath such emotions.

Gideon Giles would have taken justice into his own hands-and even then the old devil raged furiously within him; and man in his anger, like the brute, seems still to pant for blood.

The law itself can in some cases only be appeased by taking away life : can it be expected, then, while this is done with a shew of pity-perpetrated coolly with hymns, and prayers, and tears-no passion, even no ill feeling, but done with signs of love and sorrow-that a man deeply injured, should, in the height of his anger, shew mercy? Oh God! what solemn mockeries are daily displayed before thee! Well might that great poet “who spake o’ th’ people as if he were a god-not a man of their infirmity,” before whose eyes the human heart stood bared like a book plainly written, exclaim- “Man, proud man, Drest in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he’s most assured- His glassy essence-like an angry ape, Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven As make the angels weep.” “I can offer no excuse,” said the Baronet, after a long pause : “I am no longer what I was.

Your daughter’s image bath taken possession of me-sleeping or waking, she is ever before me.

There is a curse upon our race; I foresee my ruin but cannot prevent it.

Gideon! I love your daughter, and were I free would make her my wife.

Wave not your hand-I cannot help it-it may be madness; I have tried to forget her, but in vain.

I will deal plainly with you, however this interview may end.

I am no longer my own master.” Gideon Giles kept his eye riveted on the Baronet as he spoke; and there appeared something so sincere in this unexpected confession [41] — “You must call a little louder, my pretty nightingale,” said Banes, before your father can hear you.come, It’s my turn now.

Sir Edward has had a deal of patience.

That’s right, shout away; (“ * ) if the owl or the plover can help you, why you’ll not leave one asleep either on the heath or in the wood.” And he dragged her as he spoke in the direction of the Grange. “Let me go,” said Ellen, “for mercy’s sake let me go this time.

Not now, Mr.

Banes, some other day I will see you.

Let me alone now,-consider my poor mother,-my little brother who is dying.

Oh, if you are a man have mercy on me! O God, look down and help me! Let me go home, and I will never utter a word of this.

Oh, my father!-Villain! let me alone.” She made another strong effort, and by that almost superhuman power which danger alone can call forth, she succeeded in releasing one hand, but still Banes was drawing her nearer to the Grange. “It’s of no use,” said he, “you may as well come to-night as tomorrow, and all the devils in hell shall not turn me from my purpose.” He paused a moment, but without releasing his hold, for he heard the sound of footsteps approaching: another instant, and Gideon Giles was in sight: he seemed to come up with the speed of a grey‑ [118] hound; he spoke but one word, and that was “Villain!” then raising his arm and clenching his teeth, he struck the keeper senseless to the earth.

The blow seemed to come from the arm of a giant, so sure and quick, and with such force did it fall, that Banes dropped down like a man dead. It was but a momentary glance that Ellen caught, in the half-shadowy moonlight, of those stern features, but she knew the face, and fainted in his arms as she faintly exclaimed, “O, my father!” Gideon cast but one savage look at the prostrate gamekeeper; it was one of those looks which a man can only wear for an instant, and he raised his foot as if he hesitated whether or not to crush him into the earth.

Then he averted his head, and lifting his daughter up with as much ease as he would a child, he struck down the lane in the direction of home.

Ellen was senseless for several minutes. Gideon had scarcely got out of sight before two men came running up.

One held a parcel of twisted wire snares in his hand, leaving no doubt of his being a poacher.

They were followed by two dogs. “The sound came from somewhere here about, Tom,” said the one who held the snares. “It was a woman’s voice I’ll be sworn.” “Then where the devil can she have hidden herself?” replied the other, hutching up the two hares on his shoulder as he spoke, and which had but just been ‘snickled.’ “Hilloa! what hey we here?” added he, pointing to the prostrate form of Banes. “The cursed keeper, by heaven!” said Jack; “and dead enough seemingly.

He’s got his whack at last, and the devil his own precious bargain, and not a soul will be sorry.” “He’s none dead,” said Tom, stooping down and raising his arm, “only a little stunned, and will come round again I’ll a-warrant it in a short time.

What say you to making a grab, and paying were selves for the time this thief caused us to lose in prison? You saw him shewing off his sovereigns this morning.” “Speak low then,” said the other, “and do it.

The right hand pocket, all right.

I’ll hold his arm aside; he begins to breathe; we must bolt.” “Somebody’s served him out at last,” said Tom. “I thought he would catch it some of these times.

Now who the devil can it be! I heard a woman’s voice, as plain as ever I heard ought in my life; but he moves.” They then drew off, and sharing the ten sovereigns, struck down the same lane that Gideon had entered with his daughter. [119] Banes lay writhing like a wounded snake upon the heath, his eyes dimmed, and his senses stupified with the blow; and when he began to recover, he gave vent to his feelings in a volley of oaths and curses.

He knew it was the Roper who had struck him senseless, and he ground his teeth at the thought, for he feared that all his villany would now be discovered.

He arose, and supported himself on the bole of a tree, and wiped off the blood that still trickled down his forehead.

He felt in his pocket and missed the gold. “He has robbed me,” said Banes; “they will not take his daughter’s oath.

I will have a warrant for him before morning.

And yet he would not do this; -no matter, I shall be revenged.

I will swear he waylaid me on the heath, robbed me, and attempted my life.” and he uttered one of his deepest oaths to confirm the resolution. He went back again to Burton Woodhouse, and knocked up the constable; a lazy lounging rascal, who had rendered his name a very terror to poor vagrants, and had in his day taken hundreds to prison. “Who’s there?” said the constable, thrusting his head and red nightcap through the window at the same time. “It is I; Banes the gamekeeper.

I have been knocked down and robbed by Gideon Giles on the heath.

Get up this instant; I’ve no doubt we shall find him at home.” “Just go down the street and knock up Lawson, my deputy, while I dress me,” said the constable; “we’ll have him in the round-house before another hour, if we can but lay hold of him.” Banes obeyed, and the whole party were soon in motion, and on their way to the cottage of the Roper. “He’s soon begun to take up a new trade,” said the constable. “I thought we should nap him some of these days.” “I allos said he’d the look of a thief,” said the deputy, “and told him that one day or other he would have to sail across the herring-pond; but if he gets off now without hanging, he’ll be lucky.

I should like to see him swing in one of his own ropes.” Banes made no reply, for he felt conscious that he had not been robbed by the Roper. — “You was alloss over book-lamed for me, Ben,” answered the cousin. “But I feel too full to talk much. ‘ye heard say sleep is a fine thing for to meek your meat digest.” “It’s a capital thing at any time,” said Ben, taking up the last hit that was left on his plate; when, looking at it, he sighed heavily, and laid it down again.

Benjamin could eat no more, and he leant back in his chair and said, “If brusting wouldn’t hurt one, I shouldn’t mind it a bit, just to hey the pleasure of eating again.

If I was a rich man I would keep a doctor and a stomach-pump, and hey a dinner every hour in the day.” “Then I wouldn’t,” answered the cousin; “I would only dine every three hours;” and he took up the last potatoe, and cut it in two.

It was the first one that had been halved.

He dipped it in salt and gravy, and had difficulty to swallow it.

He was full to the very throat.

They had eaten like famished wolves. “I think if I was to cut off this bit of a knuckle, and teck it we me,” said cousin William, “it would be a nice snack to a can of ale on the road.” “Eat all, if you can, but pocket none,” said Ben, who had his own peculiar notions of honour. “A dinner’s only a dinner, though we’ve nearly eaten the whole leg.

But he’s not bound to supply us we another meal; I think he’s suffered quite enough by us for one day.

The next man that dines off it, must bring a good sharp knife to make his dinner.” “Well, then, we’ll he jogging on the road,” replied William; “and I’ll pull the bell, to see what’s to pay.

The two shillings for dinner you’re to stand, Ben.

I’ll pay for the ale.” [132] “All right,” answered Ben, and the landlord entered the room.

They both cast down their eyes, for (to do them justice) they felt half-ashamed of looking either at the landlord or the mangled skeleton that lay on the dish. “I’m glad to see you’ve made sich a famous dinner,” said the landlord, smiling. “We’ve done very fairly indeed,” replied Ben, now looking up under such encouragement. “What’s to pay?-the two dinners go down to me: he settles for the drink,” said Ben, pointing to his cousin. “There’s nothing to pay, Ben,” answered the host; “potatoes, bread, ale, and cooking you’re very welcome to-and I’m glad to get off so cheap.

The leg of mutton was your own, Ben, and I hope it was done to your liking!” “What!” said Ben, not fully comprehending the host’s meaning; “you don’t mean to say that we’ve been eating that leg of mutton I brought?” “The very same,” answered the host, laughing. “I put it down to roast myself.” Ben stared at the landlord in silence; and after a long pause, he said, “why it cost me six shillings.

It’s a regular swindle,” continued Ben, “and I’ll hey an action-at-law against you.

Here you pretend to give a man a dinner for a shilling, and set before him his own joint that cost six shillings, which he eats up an’ loses five by it; I’ll never use your house again.

What do I care about your few potatoes, your hit of bread, and drop of ale.

I’ll hey my leg of mutton, if I get it out of your bones.” Cousin William could scarcely keep his seat for laughing, he shook from head to foot, as he exclaimed,- “So I’ve dined off that prime leg after all, wehout waiting till Sunday.

Ben, your done this time.

It’s come home by you for eating that two pounds seven ounces.” “And so this is all that’s left of my prime leg,” said Ben, looking at the fragments; “but don’t you mean to give me something for letting cousin William go wacks we me?” “I’ll stan a pot of ale,” said the landlord, “we pleasure, for I do think you’ve saved me half-a-crown through treating him.” “I niver was so tecken in before in my life,” said Ben; “next time I dine anywhere, and hey a joint we me, I’ll keep it tied round my shoulder all the while I eat.

Dash your wig, landlord, you’ve done me this time, but I’ll be even we you.” The joke had by this time got wind in the tap-room, and rare laughter did it create, [133] when they found Ben and the cousin had nearly eaten up the whole of his own leg of mutton.

And one wag after another dropped in, to ask Ben how he’d enjoyed his dinner.

William was well nigh suffocated with laughter, so heartily did he relish the joke. “Wife al be tecken in as well,” said the mischievous cousin; “I think I’ll on to Winthorpe now.

Ben, I never thought this morning I should help to eat that sweet pretty joint so soon, ah! ah, ah! I’ve dined we you at last Ben.” “I’ll tell you what it is cousin,” said Ben, unable to bear the burst of laughter which rang through every room of the house; but the taunts of the cousin least of all. “You’ve hed a good belly-full, and very cheap, now be satisfied, or else you’ll maybe hey to pay dear for it, though you are my wife’s cousin.

You’ve hed a meat-offering, and a drink-offering, and if you don’t behave I’ll give you a eve-offering, for I’ll heave you clean out at th’ door.” Cousin William chuntered something to himself, but said no more to Ben.

Another quart of ale, however, restored Ben to his usual good-temper, and he joined in the joke against himself; and laughed as heartily as the merriest in the group.

It was not in Ben’s nature to be angry long.

He gave the fragments of the joint to a poor pauper, whose occupation was to break stones on the high road, for which he received one shilling and twopence a day, and out of that was compelled to support a sickly wife and three children. “There’ll be a nice bit of picking for the bairns,” said the poor man, and he made his dinner of the crust of brown bread and morsel of leather-skinned cheese, washing it down with the drop of small beer which the host allowed him daily.

One thing contributed to the recovery of Ben’s good humour; he took an old farmer in with the bet about drinking only half-a-pint from a full quart, the trick which he had learnt of Nock the nailmaker. The mirth was, however, suddenly broken by a loud “hilloa” at the door.

It was the worthy host of the Fallow Deer, from Newark, on his way to Burton Woodhouse, to render what assistance he could to the poor Roper.

The doctor’s boy had dropped asleep in his saddle, fallen off, and lost the horse, which had set off home again at full speed, so that the lad was compelled to go the best half of his journey on foot, which accounted for the late arrival of the honest landlord.

He called for a small glass of brandy, and, seeing Ben Brust, exclaimed, “You here Ben! I thought you’d been well nigh home by this time, come jump into my gig this instant, no — [137] in bringing the cause of the poor Roper through the court, when Sir Edward Lee laid claim to his cottage and garden by the road-side; not with any intention, either to take it from him, or to raise his “pepper-corn” rent, which amounted only to five shillings a year, but only to prove that he was MASTER.

How many thousands of pounds have been wasted in this weakest of all follies, that one man may shew he has the power to do what another has not! But the Baronet lost the cause, and felt but little regret. The justice was seated in his large easy chair, ruminating over various matters; now puzzled at the connexion which existed between his son and the gamekeeper, then endeavouring to find out some excuse for the folly of the Baronet, or recalling all he remembered of the honesty and integrity of the Roper, when the door was thrown open, and Gideon himself entered with Walter Northcot, and was followed by his daughter.

Shortly • after came the two constables and the gamekeeper, none of whom the magistrate seemed to recognise, while he invited Ellen Giles to take a seat, shook hands with Walter, whose father he had known in days gone by, and exchanged a nod and a glance with Gideon.

He seemed rather taken aback by the abrupt entrance of Banes and the constables, followed by his own son, and looked at the attendant whose duty it was to have announced them, but as the worthy old servant was mending his pen, and preparing himself to act as clerk, he stopped short, and giving a loud “Hem!” said,- “Now, Mr.

Banes, I will listen to your complaint.

John,” added he, calling to his old serving man, “administer the oath; I will not swerve one jot from the law with you, sir.

You bear a bad name, and I, as magistrate, sit here to tell you of it, before we proceed further.” As the gamekeeper kissed the book, and repeated the oath in the usual form, his eye caught the fixed glance of Gideon, and his colour rose.

However, he told a tolerable straightforward tale, admitting that he had tried to steal a kiss from Ellen Giles, but intended her no harm; that he was struck senseless to the earth by her father, and when he came to himself again, discovered his loss of the ten sovereigns, which sum was found upon the Roper when they entered his cottage.

The two constables swore that they saw the money in Gideon’s possession, and were about to proceed with a long account of his conduct, the whole of which our readers are already acquainted with, when they were interrupted by the magistrate, who had hitherto listened in silence, nor had either Gideon or his daughter offered any interruption. [138] “Are you sure the ten sovereigns were in your possession at the time you made the wanton and unmanly assault upon this young woman,” inquired the magistrate; “or were you not in some company more likely to rob you of it than this worthy person, before you received the blow you so justly merited?” “I am sure they were in my pocket at the time,” answered the keeper, “because -” he made a pause. “I do remember,” said Ellen Giles, now rising, “that when I struggled with him, as he attempted to force me to his house, he made mention of gold, and struck his pocket as he spoke, and although I had forgotten it until this moment, I heard the sound of money distinctly.

But I am sure my father never touched him after he had once rescued me.” The honest old magistrate looked confounded at this reply; it was a confirmation that he needed not, and he was puzzled at the moment how to proceed, when Gideon Giles broke the silence by saying, “Bad as I know this man to be, and evil as his intentions are towards my daughter, still I believe that he may have been robbed of the money after the blow I struck him, as I remember hearing the sound of voices after I left him, and while resting a few moments with Ellen, who was senseless, in the lane.

The ten sovereigns I have here,” added he, placing them on the table, “were lent to me by Mr.

Bent, landlord of the Fallow Deer, at Newark.

Ben Brust was witness at the time; and the purpose for which the sum was lent me, was, that I might begin in a small way of business for myself, as Mr.

Brown has discharged me from the ropery, and I have endeavoured in vain to obtain work elsewhere.

I doubt not but that Ben and the landlord will he here before long, to confirm the truth of what I have stated.

As to that villain there,” added he, pointing to Banes, “he has known me too long, even to believe for a moment that I am guilty of the robbery laid to my charge; wicked as he is, he dare not swear it.” Banes hung down his head and remained silent for several moments, while his brow darkened and his whole countenance shewed signs of guilty consciousness to the truth of what Gideon uttered; but with this consciousness there was mingled a feeling of deep hatred towards the Roper, for he felt the full power of good over evil, and shrunk from it, and dipping again into his black and inventive brain, said, “This may be all a tale about the sound of voices heard after he left me.

How will he prove that those are the [139] ten sovereigns lent him by the landlord, he has named, instead of those I was robbed of? I have heard that it is difficult to swear to money, and you are all witness that Miss Giles heard the sound of it before her father came up; and when I recovered, I can swear upon my oath, that I had not a single coin in my possession.” Oram touched Lawson with his elbow, and whispered something which no one heard distinctly, but which signified that the last question was a poser.

The magistrate caught the sign and just heard the whisper, and being at a loss what to advance in the Roper’s favour, of whose innocence he felt certain, he began to abuse the two constables, and said, “Let me have no whispering or underhanded work here, or I will commit you both to Kirton House of Correction for a month, a place you have more right to than hundreds of the unfortunate wretches you have taken there.

Were you half as honest as the Roper you would pick up a more honourable living than you do now by bunting after vagrants, and compelling such men as me to put into force laws that would be better employed against lazy vagabonds like yourselves.

You would like to take him to prison, I doubt not; but we will see.” Then turning to Banes, he added, “How came those ten sovereigns in your possession, sir? of whom did you receive them?” “Of Sir Edward Lee,” answered the keeper; “you can inquire of the Baronet himself if you please.” “Should you wish to defer further inquiry,” said Walter Northcot, now rising, “until the arrival of the landlord and Ben Brust, I will hold myself as bail for the appearance of Gideon Giles, whom I should here advise to take out a warrant for the assault committed upon his daughter, for I hold it shame that a young woman cannot move abroad without being subject to the assaults of every ruffian-” Banes scowled at him, as he spoke, a look of black and bitter hatred, and as the justice was about to reply, Ben Brust rushed into the room, and was followed by the host. Ben’s first action was to seize Gideon by the hand, and without regarding either the magistrate or any one present, he began to vent his English indignation, by turning round and pointing to Banes as he said, “An’ that thief of a keeper there says you’ve robbed him, does he? D- him, I wish I’d only been by and heard him, I would have smashed him to powder.

You, rob a man, my boy! God bless you, you would sooner give the bit out of your mouth to a poor body as wanted it.

I should as soon think of robbing a [140] pauper of his breakfast (and God knows that would be a sin now), since they hardly let ‘em live.

I’ll tell you what, your worshipful justice, I’m d-d if he’s capable of sich a mean trick; it aint in him, it niver was; I would as soon think of you doing it yoursen’, and then I couldn’t believe it if I saw you, but I should say it was the devil that came in your shape.

As to that thief there,” continued he, pointing to Banes, “he would do any mander of thing; there’s nowt either too hot or too heavy for him; and if you’ll only commit me to prison for a single month, I’ll just break every bone in his skin, and then go willingly; he’s a bad fellow.

Gideon my lad, he’s the biggest liar, and the greatest thief and scoundrel as ever lived.

O, how I could -” and he clenched his fist at Banes and remained silent. “I believe you’re right, I’m afraid he is, Ben,” exclaimed the justice, quite forgetful of his magisterial dignity, while carried away by the rough current of his straightforward feelings.

Then remembering himself; he gave two or three mysterious “hems!” and proceeded with the business with all the gravity of a practised judge.

The host was shaking hands with Walter Northcot when he was summoned to take his oath respecting the money, and he put an end to the business in a few words, by saying, “I’ve no objection to take an oath on a matter of life and death, because then I think It’s necessary when the life of a fellow-creature’s depending on it.

But as to the doubt about the ten sovereigns I lent Gideon, and which I would make fifty if he wanted it, why you’ll find two little dots under the chin on the head side of every one of them.

I never took a sovereign in my life without marking it as I’ve said, for I used to say, in case I was ever robbed, I should have some just grounds to go upon.” Every one of the sovereigns bore the marks the host had named.

Ben Brust was as eager as the foremost to examine them, and when he had thrown down the last, he said, “Now ain’t this Banes a cursed thief and a rogue.” “This part of the business is now at an end,” said the justice.

Banes was about to leave the Hall. “Stop,” said he, and pointing to the constables, he exclaimed, “On your peril let not that man escape.” Ben Brust seized him in an instant, and the two constables also laid hold of him; but their help was needless, for he was as secure in Ben’s manly grasp, as if his arms had been screwed up in a vice. “The assault you have committed, according to your own [141] shewing, upon Ellen Giles, renders it necessary that I should compel you to find two sureties, each in fifty pounds, and yourself in fifty also, to be forfeited, if within twelve months you attempt to molest her either by word or deed; and in case of your not finding two sufficient bondsmen, whom I approve of, before to-morrow at noon, it will be my duty to commit you to prison for three calendar months.

I am no stranger to your character; Lawson and Oram shall go in quest of any persons you may name as bail.” “Sir Edward Lee will himself be hound for a thousand pounds if it is needed,” replied Banes sternly and briefly; then added, “should you insist upon two bondsmen, I have but to name your own son, Squire Bellwood, for the second, which will shew that he holds me in different estimation to his father.” The Squire spoke not. Banes stood with his brows bent, and his eyes fixed upon the floor, and maintained a savage silence, for the working of his countenance, and the way in which he bit his lips, even until the blood oozed forth, sheaved that although beaten and caught beyond all chance of escape for the present, he was still a tiger in the net, and as ready to leap at the throats of his capturers as when he was free. “My son’s bail I shall refuse to take,” said the magistrate, “and ground my objections on such facts as, if they are needed, will reflect but little credit even on himself, so bethink you of some other.” He was resolute, and ordered the gamekeeper to be locked up in a safe room until bail was found, and Oram and Lawson were soon again in his “good graces,” when he saw with what alacrity they obeyed the command. When Banes left the room, the justice addressed a few kind words to Gideon, and in the gentlest terms, told him that he had done wrong in offering any resistance to the constables, but that from a knowledge of his previous character, and a conviction of his innocence, he had deviated from the usual form of the law in not granting a warrant for his apprehension; and concluded by stating that he trusted his confidence would lead to a good example on the part of other of his neighbours, and convince them that honesty and industry were not unnoticed even by a magistrate.

He then ordered refreshments for the whole of the company, reserving a separate invitation for Walter to dine with him, which was accepted for the next day, as he had left Amy Lee at Gideon’s cottage.

Ellen Giles returned home with Walter Northcot, nor was he ashamed of offering his arm, and walking through the village with the beautiful, though lowly, daughter of the Roper. [142] Ben, the host, and Gideon, stayed behind to partake of the justice’s good cheer, and the worthy old magistrate entered into the room where they were assembled, to see that every thing was arranged to their satisfaction.

Nor did he forget Gideon, but promised him his custom, and that of all the friends he could influence.

He also gave the two constables strict orders to look out, and endeavour to discover the robbers. Ben was so happy that he gave a full account of the dinner at Besthorpe, and laughed heartily at the trick the landlord had played him, and he ate so much, and drank so deeply of the justice’s strong old ale, that Gideon was compelled to see him home.

The host slept at the Blue Bell that night. CHAPTER XIX. In which, as usual, more is said than belongs to the story, and the baronet has some conversation with Walter Northcot respecting his daughter. — “I will tell him that which his own heart shall feel to be true,” answered the gipsy; “but it must be in his own hearing alone that I utter my secrets.

Walter, follow me!” The colour of the young man deepened, for there was that in the countenance of Jael which told at once that her business was serious, and shame alone prevented him from following her. “Some other time will do,” answered he, “not now, Jael.” “You refuse to hear me, then,” said the gipsy, her beautiful eyes flashing angrily upon him; “I have walked from the camp to meet with you.” “Come,” said Amy, rising, and seizing Walter’s arm, “you must accompany her, or I will go and learn all your secrets.” “We will drag him before his oracle,” exclaimed Lavinia, springing up with her face all smiles; “only point out in what dark grove thou wilt utter thy prophecy,” added she, turning to Jael, “and we will force him there whether he will or not.” “Anywhere beyond the hearing of Bellwood,” whispered the [167] gipsy; and, pressing her finger on her lip, she looked at ‘Walter, then added, when she had drawn him a few paces forward, “I would be thy friend, follow me!” The young man obeyed, while Amy stood leaning upon her sister’s arm, pale as death.

Lady Lee had by this time entered the hall, and the Baronet and Bellwood were left together. “Have you thought over the conversation we had a few days ago respecting yonder fellow?” said Bellwood, pointing with his whip towards Walter Northcot. “I have thought that while he conducts himself with propriety,” answered the Baronet, “I neither can nor will close my doors against him.

I have told you, sir, that Colonel Northcot was one of my oldest friends; his son is a favourite with my family, and, I must add, with myself; and, whilst he is here, he will receive the kindest treatment.

I believe he dined with your father to-day!” “He did, curse him for it,” replied the Squire; “and when he had gone I had to sit down and listen to a long lecture-to be told that Mr.

Northcot was this and that, and how I ought to copy him in this thing and the other, as if a man born with a fortune ought to strive to make himself as agreeable as a pennyless beggar, who has no chance of getting through the world, but by making himself most particularly amiable.

I think if he was to come a few more times, the old man would make him his heir.

But I will stop his career,” added he in a deep voice. “I hate the fellow; he is carrying away all the good opinions of the neighbourhood; wherever I go, my ears are dinned with his name.

By-the-by, when do you propose this marriage between myself and Miss Lee to come off? I am weary of this delay, and have been in scent so long, that it is time either to run down the game or give up the chase.” “There was no particular time specified,” said the Baronet, “and until you have made further progress in my daughter’s favour, it must still be postponed; I will deal plainly with you, you seem to look upon her as a merchant does a bale of goods which he has put his mark on, and leaves in the warehouse until it suits his own convenience to fetch it, neither thinking nor caring what becomes of it until that time.

You have taken no pains to please her.” “Whew! has it come to this?” said the Squire, giving a long whistle. “The fact is, I seemed going on all right until Northcot came, with his poetry and his soft voice, and his clothes made as if they were stitched on him.

While he’s here I’ve no chance, that I [168] see plainly, and I think you act unfairly towards me in countenancing him.” “Enough of this,” answered Sir Edward, rising impatiently. “I cannot be dictated to, sir, and told who shall and who shall not be my guests.” He arose and ascended the hall steps without bidding the Squire good night. “It shall be done, by heaven!” said Bellwood; “they had better trifle with the horned devil than with me.

They shall find that they have crossed the track of a tiger.” He struck the top of his boot With his whip as he walked away, and amused himself with a swearing solo all the way home. Walter Northcot returned from his interview with Jael with a knit brow, and a look of stern determination.

He had the appearance of a man who is prepared to meet any danger without shrinking.

But the cloud left his forehead after supper, and at the request of the Baronet he sat down to the harp and sung the following verses. SONG. On a sweet flowery island the god of sleep lies, Till the blue-mantled twilight drops down from the skies; Then, laden with visions, he steals from above, He hastes silently on to the chambers of love, — [180] times without stopping.

She was indeed strangely altered since the night she attempted to escape.

Ben Brust had often met her, and entered into conversation with her, but latterly he had gone away with a conviction that-to use his own words- “She was mad as a March hare.” “She goes moping about,” said Ben, speaking of her to Gideon Giles one morning, as the Roper was at work in his little rope-walk, “moping and talking to hersen, and throwing her arms about, and then again laughing, till It’s really shocking sometimes to see her.

Only th’ t’ other day I was in the wood, getting a little agrimony and wood-betony-’cos you see I meek a few shillings in a summer wi’ cutting a bundle of herbs now and then; and It’s a kind of work that suits me like, ‘cos when I’m tired I can throw mysen down under a tree and hey a nap, and there’s nobody likely to come there to disturb one.

Getting herbs and looking for bird’s-nests is what I call pretty employment.

Well, as I was saying, she comes up and helps me, and when she’d gotten a decent handful of agrimony, she says, Come here, Ben, and I’ll shew you where they’ve buried my bairn (child). ‘Stuff;’ says I, ‘you aint right;’ but she laid hold of my hand and pulled me so, poor thing, I thought I would humour her like, and she took me to a part of the wood where there was two or three ant-hills together, covered with wild thyme-that didn’t look much unlike a babby’s grave-and she pointed to it, then pressed her lips, as if to say, don’t speak; and really, Gideon, it quite touched my feelings, and I couldn’t find in my heart to say, Why, you mad fool, those are old ant-hills,’ no I couldn’t for the world; so I shook my head, and said nowt; then went back, and got on wi’ cutting my herbs.

She’s mad as a March hare.” Such was the state of poor Mary Sanderson’s mind at the time we again bring her before our readers. The morning following the events which we recorded in our last chapter, saw Black Boswell at the breakfast table of Banes the keeper; if we may so call a meal which consisted of cold ham and bread, and strong ale, for the gipsy turned up his lip at the mention of tea, nor was the keeper a man who had much affection for the aforesaid beverage.

Mad Mary, as Banes called her when in his best mood, set out the table for them, and replenished the ale-jug whenever it was needed.

After a time Bellwood came, and all seemed ripe for business. Until the arrival of Bellwood, the poor woman seemed to go about [181] her household matters as perfectly collected as if nothing was wrong with her, but he no sooner crossed the threshold, than her mind began to wander.

She took away the cold ham when she was bid, but instead of placing it on the shelf, over the cellar entrance, she only removed it to the opposite table; and when she was again ordered to take the jug, she went out at the back door and filled it with water, then reached the brandy decanter from the cupboard. “Not a bad move,” said the gipsy.

Banes looked at her, but spoke not. Bellwood planted himself before a window which commanded a view of the wood-side, a portion of the heath, and the entrance of the lane which led down to the village; and after standing some time in silence, he said, “quick, now’s your time.” Banes looked at the woman, and pointing to the door, made a sign that he wished her to be gone; and, without replying, she took her bonnet from behind the door and left the house, muttering something that was inaudible as she passed the window.

She paused at the corner of the house, as if hesitating whether or not to cross the broad heath, and stepping a yard or two in that direction, she seemed suddenly to change her mind, and walked along the rugged footpath beside the wood. “All right,” said Banes, who watched her motions with deep anxiety; “follow her, Squire; we will into the wood.

Quick! you black devil,” added he, addressing the gipsy, “and let us out at the back here.

Yonder my gentleman comes.” “Hey, hey,” said Boswell, gulping down his brandy, “I’m ready;” and he followed Banes through the back door, and over the stile which led into the wood.

After a few moments Squire Bellwood went out at the front door, and struck more into the open heath, though still keeping in the same direction as that which the woman had taken.

She walked along slowly, with her hands crossed before her, and her head drooping like one in deep trouble, but without once looking back. It might be a glimpse of Walter Northcot which she caught in the distance that induced her to take the course she did-some remembrance of his kind smile and his gentle manner of accosting her; and Banes had calculated on this, for he had heard her drop words, when talking to herself, “of the handsome gentleman that was in love with her, and met her by the wood-side;” but whatever it might be, all promised fairly to turn out as they had planned it.

Had she struck [182] into the middle of the heath, they could have done but little, unless they attacked Walter openly, and without a shadow of excuse. The wood was of considerable length; the path beside it seldom traversed, unless by those who had some business at the keeper’s house; for although, as we have before stated, it was a nearer way to Torksey, still, by striking across the heath from the corner of the lane, the dead elbow was saved, though at the risk of the traveller having his legs pierced by the thousands of armed furze bushes which hung over, and seemed to dispute every foot of the narrow pathway. The walk beside the wood, and far beyond the gamekeeper’s residence, was one of great beauty, especially in the hot summer season, when the huge over-hanging trees cast their broad cool shadows far over the footpath, and afforded a sweet shelter to the wild hedge and the rich variety of flowers that adorned the sloping bank.

The hedge itself was a grand mixture of all that is wild and beautiful in so small a compass, intermixed as it was with old hawthorn and creeping woodbine, and wreathed with the deep white cups of the convolvulus, and all its rich garlandry of leaves, while the long bramble drooped in arches here and there over the bank, hanging across the fan-like leaves of the broad fern, and engirding the comby head of the teasle, which shot up above the clustering mallows, the tall betony, and many-belled foxglove.

It was just such a spot as a poet would select for his morning’s walk, surrounded as it was with all green and lovely things, and made merry or solemn by the sounds which filled the air-music that the heart beats to, in either sweet or sad unison, having over itself no control, but still feeling it suited to every mood of mind; for with us nature holds a strange mysterious fellowship. Here then walked Walter Northcot, perusing that grand Miltoniclike fragment, the mighty “Hyperion” of John Keats; a fragment that stands up in these days, like the ruins of a vast temple, on the floor of which is imprinted Titanic foot-marks, traces of great gods that have passed away, “along the margin-sand,” whose “old right hands lay nerveless, listless, dead, Unsceptred, and whose realmless eyes are closed.” He had just read the following lines, where the Titans are described as “One here, one there, Lay vast and edgeways; like a dismal cirque [183] — “Get off,” exclaimed the woman, “you tried to shoot me, and I’ll swear it.

Ben saw you, everybody knows Ben speaks the gospel truth.

I didn’t deceive you, when you said you would marry me; I told you all about it, and how I sought for the child, and now its dead, dead.

No gravestone, no, nothing!-I never saw the coffin-but I will, I will; Ill tear it out of its grave with my nails.

Bellwood! Bellwood! God heard you say you loved me; and my little angel came, and skewed how I loved you-I shall die soon.” And she sat down on the wild heath and wept aloud. “Poor creature,” said Walter, looking upon her with an eye of compassion. “Ben, can we do nothing for her? Lady Lee would see that she was looked well after, in some comfortable cottage, if we could but get her down there.” “I will home! I will home!” said the woman, springing up wildly, [188] and hurrying off in the direction of the Grange. “The time will come, and I shall meet with it again.” Banes followed her, without exchanging a word with any one, right glad that her departure offered him an excuse for retreating.

Boswell took himself off in sullen silence, and never turned his head, when Walter Northcot threatened that he would summon the whole party of them, to answer for the assault they had committed.

Ben and himself were now the only two persons left on the heath; and after Walter had with great difficulty forced a sovereign upon him, they walked into the village together-Ben in the highest spirits, to think, as he said, “How we hev beaten the thieves!” for said he, “you and I, Mr.

Walter, could wallop a five-mile lane full of such fellows as those, any day before breakfast.” When Ben reached home, he went up to the table where Betty sat peeling the potatoes for dinner, and throwing down the sovereign with all the weight of his ponderous palm, he lifted up his hand, and said, “Look at that, wench! is that nowt? aint the sight of it good for sore eyes?” “And is it real gowd (gold)” -answered Betty, gloating over it, but not daring to touch it, lest like a fairy-gift it should vanish “or hey you been buying it for a penny? tell me the truth Ben, is it like them six that Mrs.

Brown kept in her purse to swagger wi’, that Jack Nettleby fun (found), when she said the poor lad had changed the real sovereigns when he fun her purse, and would hey gotten into a mess, if Mrs.

Lawson hedn’t seen her buy e’m for sixpence, at Gainsbro-market?” “It is gowd, good gold,” answered Ben, rubbing his hands with delight, “and my own too, Master Walter gave it me, for walloping that black thief Boswell; and he said to me, ‘Ben,’ says he, ‘you shall never want a sovereign while I am worth one!’ Think of that, Betty-think of that, you old-” and Ben chucked her under the chin, gave her a kiss, and flourishing his stick, danced round the room, breaking the little looking-glass which hung on the wall, in the height of his happiness.

One or two of the women-his next-door neighbours-hearing him so noisy, and seeing him cut such extraordinary capers, came in-for in the country they stand to no ceremony on such matters as these. “Hey! what now, Ben lad?” said Mrs.

Cawthry, knitting away at her stocking as she spoke. “Look you there,” answered Ben, pointing to the sovereign, “you don’t often see one of those, I reckon.” [189] “Well, I declare! blocky- daisy me!” exclaimed Mrs.

Cawthry taking up the sovereign, and turning it all ways, “and good gowd too! I’ll hey a lucky rub at any rate;” and she rubbed both her eyes with the sovereign, then handed it to her gossip, who did the same, saying when she had done, “I’ve never rubbed my eyes before for above seven years, the last time I did was in May, and the Mart after that, I fun sixpence as I was going to Gainsbro, so you see that proves It’s lucky.” As this happened six months after, we must suppose the spell, or whatever it was, to have had power a long time; be this as it may, we have many a time seen a sovereign handed round a room, where of course such things are scarce, and each one in turn rub their eyes with it, believing it to be “lucky.” “I reckon thou means buying Betty a new gown out of this,” said Mrs.

Cawthry, “does not Ben?” “No,” answered Ben, “I never like to encourage pride; It’s been the ruin of many a man and woman in this world.

She’s got more gowns than backs now.

I never hey but one suit mysen, and whether it be day or night everybody knows me in it.

I abominate pride.” “Bless you, he’ll buy me nowt,” said Betty, “he’s never laid out but one shilling on me since we were married, and that was for a pair of stockings he bought one night when he was drunk, and they were too little for him, so I was forced to wear ‘em; and he hounded me for the shilling for many a long day after.

But I think he ought to buy a new coverlet for the bed.” “I’m over hot as it is,” answered Ben, “and I allos tell thee as thou can hey my coat on thy side, if thou arnt warm enough.

For my part I could spare a blanket the coldest night in winter.” “If you would work a little more, and teck your fat down,” said Betty, “you would want an extra blanket then, same as I often do.” “It would just amount to the same thing, thou sees,” answered Ben, “I should hey to lay my addlings out to keep me warm, and what richer should I be? For my part I’m quite contented as I am.” “But she does want a bonnet, Ben,” said the persevering neighbour. “I remarked last Sunday how shabby she looked at church.” “If you’d been thinking on the sarment,” answered Ben, “you wouldn’t hey noticed her bonnet.

I never wear nowt on my head when I’m in a church.

Now I think there’ll be more sense in buying a good leg of mutton than all the fine things you’ve named, cos you see that’s a thing one may eat, and feel thankful for after.” “He’s allos thinking about stuffing hissen,” answered Famine [190] tartly, “brusting and snoring’s all he cares about.

He’s no more pride in him nor a pig.” — “They mun turn ’em bottom uppermost,” said Ben, “the under side ‘ill be clean enough, I’ll warrant it; else rub all the gravy up we’ a piece of bread; or teck their tongues to it, which is the best way: I do so mysen often.” “Nay, that won’t do,” said Betty. “ I mun give ’em a rub out in the hot water that I boil the potatoes in, at the same time as I wipe the knives and forks.” [213] “That aint a bad thought,” answered Ben; “but I shan’t want a plate mysen, coss thou sees when I’ve helped ’em all to a little bit a piece, I can eat my wack out o’ the dish with a spewn.

It’s no use weshing a plate for me.” “That looks so, Ben!” said his spouse, “for you hey to open your mouth so wide with that big table spewn.

I wish, for my part, you could hey done wehout the pie and custard; they’ll put me a deal about, weshing the plates and things: you ought niver to give a second course, Ben.” “Why, I would do wehout it if I hedn’t promised;” said Ben, “only thou sees I’ve mentioned it; and farmer Kitchen said he should think much o’ the pie and custard, and promised hissen a treat.

But if thou likes, we’ll eat ’em both up for supper to-night, and say nowt about ’em.

They’ll hey lots of beef, thou knows, and sich beef-Lors!” Ben wiped his mouth, for the very mention of it made him hungry. “No, we musn’t do soe,” replied Betty; “I hope, Ben, thou’ll conduct thysen very becomingly, and don’t think of tasting a morsel thysen, till iverybody else is sarved.

And don’t, prythee, don’t pull the dishes to thee with the pie and custard in, after thou ’st given ’em a spewnful a-piece, and eat all up.

Nor dip thy tater in the gravy on the dish, and then in the salt-cellar.

And be sure and wipe thy mouth on thy coat-sleeve before te (thou) drinks.” “I’ll try to remember,” answered Ben; “but don’t go to lets hey any more of thy hints how to Eat-a-cat, as they call that book; coss thou knows how unlucky it turned out last time.

I’ve a good mind to ax Walter Northcot and Sir Edward Lee to come; there’ll be plenty for ’em, and a finer piece of beef nobody can sit down to.

We might borrow another, and a knife and fork or two.

I like Walter much, and Gideon can’t come. “Lors, how thou talks, Ben!” said Betty, “however does te’ think I could wesh up and do before them.

Beside, real gentlefolks, sich as they are, hey roast beef ivery day in the week; and I’m sure I couldn’t ‘bide th’ house if sich grand people were to come.

Don’t think of sich a thing.

I dare say that real gentlefolks hey roast beef all the year round.” “But they can’t hey a finer piece than that,” said Ben, pointing to the dish, “and surely twenty pounds would be enough for six folks beside thysen.

But happen they wouldn’t come if I ax’d ’em.

What time will cousin William be here? I hope he won’t come before [214] dinner’s ready; if he does, he’s sure to want me to cut him a slice off before the beef’s done: he’s the very devil for fresh meat.” “O! he sent a letter by Turner, the carrier, to-day,” said Betty, “and talks of starting by four in the morning; so he’ll be here early.” Betty handed the letter from the mantel-piece, and Ben twisted it every way, as if he hoped to arrive at its contents by turning it upside down; when returning it, he said, “Thou knows I can only read book-print by spelling it first: thou‘rt the scholard; let’s hear wha he says.” Betty smiled, and read as follows, saying, “It’s a very feeling letter.” “Dear Cozen Betty and Ben.- John Herod cummed to Winthorpe yesterday, just ass I had dun my second plate of cabbage and bacon, and woz helping mysen two a third slize of fat, which woz bewteefull.

He telled me all about the sovrin, and the beef, and your luv two me, and the custard, and the pie, and I sharpened my pocketknife after dinner to bee reddy.

I shan’t eat no breckfast, soe I shall cum in prime fettle.

Farmer Jones had a cow died in coveing, and I think the beef wood be as well baked ower puttatees, coss o’ th’ fat-pardon my hoppinyon.

Mrs.

Clay died onn Mundee, agehed 84.

I promise mysen a treat in the pie and custard.

I’ve never tasted one since ant Patty died, when she left mee five pound to bye morning, to goe in black.

I shall be there to the minnit-twenty pounds, John sed; I reckon it ’ill take ommost three hours, if it ‘s roasted thro.

We had a peece same size at ant’s berrin (funeral), but it warnt dun well.

I hope your’s will bee.

I helped to carry poor Mrs.

Clay to her grave, and we had a nice bit of ham after wee cummed frae church, and sum fair ale, poor thing she brewed it hersen, but itt tasted ower much o’ th’ hopp, which woss a pitty.

I wished she’d bean alive as I mite hey telled her.

I telled her sun soe, an he gaped.

The berry-pie ‘ill want plenty of suggar, my coff’s better.

I found that parry-gorrick do mee a deel of gud, and soe no more till Fryday till the beef’s about reddy, when if I’m famished I shall mak shift wi’ a sop till it’s dun.

And soe your ‘still then wi’ all luv.

W.

Longbottom. “Postscrape.-Tell Ben the berry-pie’s eaten wi’ cheese in genteel sossighiety.

I thought I’d menchen it, coss of farmer Kitchin.

Custard ‘s my faveritt, coss it’s lightest.

I shall teck my bitters as hewshall, they give me a happytight.

If Ben carves tell him to cut mine thick, an lotts of fatt.

Cabbage is just prime now, pees aint [215] amiss.

I thinks the best puttatees is the redd-eyed kidnees.

Be sure I shall cumin if I live.

Ned and Patty send their luv, and ‘ill bee gladd to sea you boath when they kill the next pig, which, please God, they think ‘ill be about Crissemais.

Little Jonny’s hed the mezzles, but’s better, I wish it lied been mutton instead, but beef’s good meat, and I’ve lied nowt but bacon niver sin I’ve been here, but I will say it’s prime, soe no moor, as the old song says.

I hope I shan’t hey to carve.” “It ‘s a pritty letter, aint it,” said Betty? folding it up and replacing it on the mantel-piece. “How feelingly he speaks of Mrs.

Clay, and Farmer Jones’s calf, and aunt Patty, and Johnny’s measles, don’t he Ben?” “He does,” said Ben, looking at the fire with one eye shut, “and the pie and custard, and the beef.

I don’t like that mention about his knife and the physic, coss I know what he did at Besthorpe wehout sich help, when he eat the best half of my prime leg.

He’s a rare appetite, Betty, and a long-bottom to his stomach as well as his name.

But he shall hey a fair share of the pie and custard, and no more.

Wehout you’ll meek up your mind to eat ’em to-night at supper, then they’ll be no more bother about the plates.

I should like a taste: there’ll be lots of good beef, thou knows, lovey, and a bit of prime cheese to finish wi’, and what would the king hey more?” “Nay, I won’t touch a bit, Ben, till the company comes,” answered Betty, shaking her head. “I shall put ’em on the shelf over the door to cool when they’re done, and grate a little lump sugar over the pie to meek it look frosty, and niver look at ’em again till to-morrow.” “Well, well!” said Ben, “Ill try to do the same.

But lors! Betty, the smell of that custard’s enough to tempt a saint.

But I’ll just cut a thin slice off the beef; to taste how it eats, and think no more of neither the pie nor the custard.” — of his kindest moods. -Come,” added she, drawing back the drapery at the foot of her own tent, and which stood next to her father’s, “come; no one bath slept here since my own hands washed these blankets at the woodland brook, and hung them on the sweet woodbine until sunset to dry;-and who knows what fairy-bird may have charmed them, and what sweet dream you may have of the bonny lady you love! Lie down, and I will keep watch while you sleep.” It was Jael’s own tent; and never did a young lamb sport across the daisied meadows at the sweet spring-time with a whiter fleece than was there revealed by the strong light of the fire.

Around it, and fastened within the hoops which formed the arched roof of the tent, were stuck small branches of wild-flowers, which gave out such a fragrance as Adam may be supposed to have inhaled as he led our first mother to her nuptial couch, when, “lulled by nightingales, the flowery roof showered roses on them all the night,” and when they awoke at morning, a thousand new buds hung above their heads fresh blown! Not that Jael grew a rose-tree in her tent; though she had many as sweet a branch of wood-blossoms and blushing woodbine as sunbeam ever beat upon. Walter accepted the offer, and, ready-robed as he was, threw himself on the lowly couch, which none saving the fair form of Jael had ever pressed.

For a few moments the novelty of the situation kept him awake, as he gazed upon the reflection of the fire, which made a kind of red, hazy light, upon the roof, only darkened here and there, where the hoops spanned across, or where the branches of flowers and herbs were suspended.

At length he fell asleep, without once dreaming of danger so firm a faith had he in the integrity of Jael.

He slept soundly, although his throat was bared, and at the mercy of the greatest ruffian in the tribe. Jael kept watch at the entrance of the tent, having with her own hands secured the curtaining with pins, so closely that scarcely a shrew-mouse could have entered unheard. The beautiful gipsy threw more wood on the fire; then, drawing her hood closely around her head, sighed deeply as she gazed upon the stern features of her father; and folding her arms, kept a silent and solitary watch over the camp while Walter Northcot slept. Sleep on! the time may come when a fair head shall rest beside thee Walter, and the heaving of thy manly breast, stir the drooping ringlets which fall upon it in rich clusters.

When a breathed word, [238] as it comes half uttered from pouting roses above the parted-pearls, shall waft thee to Elysium. And now as we have not yet written half down our side of foolscap, we will Burke the Sublime.-So here goes-to Sleep. – Awful and Holy art thou, Almighty Sleep; thou great drawer down of darkness at noonday.

Death resting himself ere he reaches the end of his journey-a brief night in the grave, broken by the morning’s resurrection.

Haunter of prince and peasant, castle and cottage, thou restest at times more soundly on the bleak and desolate heath than on the couch of three-piled velvet.

Thou art the kind Soother of many sorrows, the great Healer of aching hearts, the great Bail that fees the debtor from his duns; “looped and windowed raggedness” sink on thy soothing bosom as on a bed of cygnet-down, the gold-engirded brow of the monarch presses not the weight of a thistle-down heavier upon thee, than the infant that breathes its first hour; pride leaves not a deeper dint in thy pillow than poverty.

The dreams of honey-lipped eloquence, and the wild thoughts of the maniac fall on thine ear with the self-same music; the breath of innocence and the sighs of guilt, sully not the lustre of thy dark watching eyes.

Sorrow falls senseless beside thee, and pain lies prostrate in thy lap, and grief with hair unbound presses her cold finger to her silent lip while her sobbings are stilled.

Great Destroyer of all Distinction, awful statue, that ever seemest to stand pointing thy stony finger towards the grave: Mighty Usher of the Black – rod, what a lesson dost thou nightly teach us poor worms! Thou plantest thy dark foot upon us-and what are we, more than the mute dead which the grisly grave holds in its cold, black jaws? Great grave, in which all mind lies buried! Gloomy change-house of life, which skirts the black forest of death, and where all blind roads meet, until we are bewildered and lost,-not knowing whether we may see the morning light break above the thatch of the next grey hamlet, or the mists of death curling coldly around the grim gateway of the grave! Sweet is thy reign, O Sleep! to the wretched.

Tears that no human hand could wipe away, are dried by thee; -sighs which would have broken the heart, thou hast stifled.

Thou art the great resting-place for all pain;-thou canst alone “minister to the mind diseased.” Thou art the brief righter of all wrongs-the momentary blotter-out of all transgressions-the drowsy sister of Death, that lives in utter forgetfulness-the grave into which we drop alive. [239] What art thou, mighty Sleep? Art thou not the boon which Mercy craves nightly of the Highest;-ever kneeling with supplicating hands, and begging another brief respite from the tomb, that we may repent, and live to amend our evil ways? Happy is the man who can welcome thee at each return, and with calm mind receive thee, with such holy reverence, as if he expected it to be thy last visit.

Thou art misery’s only friend-the comforter that change affecteth not.

Prosperity or adversity doth not alter thee.

Thou visitest humility and contentedness under lowly roofs; and their repose is sound as the wood-linnet’s in its nest.

Thou hangest over the couch of ambition like the wind that blows around the solitary eagle sleeping on his cloudy crag, with eyes closed and head bowed; the ruffled crest and back-blown plumes bespeak the stormy slumber, awe’ beat back the quietude and calm thou bringest.

Statesman, warrior, bard, and sage, all fall before thee; the clinking links of thought are locked, as if by the spell of a magician.

The “fever and the fret” of life lie dormant-the human hum dies away, like the sound of waters, falling fainter as they close deeper over the drowned. Then comes Death!-the long midnight unbroken by a brawl-the silent city that stirs not at the cry of murder, fire, or flood!- But the grey morning already breaks upon our casement.

Industry is now astir; and we no matter.

The bright light that seems to dim our watching eyes, breaks beautifully over many a tranquil spot that we still “in fancy see.” The river, with its willow-crowned bank-the hill-side, covered with trees, are now unrolling themselves from the darkness, and the valleys change from grey to green.

The spire is now visible -the meadows to the right of it dotted with fleecy sheep-masses of moving mist-so indistinct do they seem.

The milkmaid will soon be up, and she will hear the birds as if answering her, while she goes singing through the quiet green lane.

Perchance in our dreams we may be there-may hear such sounds “That, when we wake after long sleep, Will make us sleep again.” [240] CHAPTER XXIX. How squire Bellwood had an interview with his father ant) promised to become better, while he “laughed in his sleeve”-with a few remarks, which may either be passed over or read, without injury to the story. Return we to the Squire. “That Banes is a clear-headed fellow,” said Bellwood to himself as he was returning home after having had a long gossip with the Gamekeeper, “I will be ruled by him, and blind the old man a little.

I marvel the thought never struck me before, Banes is a clever fellow.” The Gamekeeper had been clever enough to get Bellwood into his leading-strings, and now guided him with less difficulty than ever he had done the Baronet. The Squire entered the hall at a much earlier hour than usual, which caused no small surprise amongst the domestics, for many a suspicious whisper had long been circulated respecting the manner in which he spent his time until midnight, for he seldom came home before.

But the young Squire was a welcome guest under many a happy roof-happy indeed, until he was received as a visitor; for there were fond and foolish mothers, who only looked at his faults as those common to young men, who believed that when he had “sown his wild oats,” he would settle down into a decent kind of a husband. “Such a girl as our Mary, would just suit him;” so too many of them thought, “he wants a wife with some life in her, one that could rattle after the hounds, and not a delicate sort of a creature like Miss Lee.

He wants a woman with some spirit.” So they talked and thought, and bore his coarse jokes, even arguing their daughters out of all modesty; for the hopes of a match with him was not to be lost for trifles; and on some young unsuspecting hearts, his off-handed manner and senseless “small-talk” made an impression, while upon more than one family it brought such misery as had befallen poor Mary Sanderson. ‘When wearied with wooing, there was still the boisterous hall of the fox-hunting Justice to fly to, and he had more than once taken Banes along with him, so that by those who knew but little of the gamekeeper’s real character, he was now looked upon as a rising man, and several of the small farmers’ wives who had good-looking daughters to dispose of, instead of calling him “Keeper” as they — Although Gideon was not committed to the “Common Felons’-ward,” still be was compelled to associate with as hardened a lot of rascals as ever the walls of a prison encompassed,-and the more hardened during their sojourn in that place, which was so wisely set apart to improve the morals of all who entered therein; for it has almost become a proverb, that however few the faults of a man may be when he enters such places as these, there is but little doubt of his corning out a confirmed rogue, although the offence for which he is committed may not amount to a trivial crime.

Witness the tender mercy shewn to a man, in any trial in the present clay, who has once been in prison!-nay, if only tried, and honestly acquitted. “Have you any tobacco?” said a poor peasant, who was committed for picking up a few rotten sticks for fuel. “If you have, I have a wooden pipe I made; and you can smoke up the chimney of a night, and nobody can smell it.” “Hang your tobacco!” said a half-starved labourer, who was sentenced for three months for refusing to live with a wife who had twice attempted to poison him. “Hey you brought any beef? – this is all we get here,” added he, stirring his oatmeal porridge, which was really very thin. “How long are you for?” inquired a poor fellow, who had caught a hare, that came every night and supped on the few starveling cabbages [262] which grew in his garden, and for which he was convicted as an arrant poacher. “I’ve got another side of bars to rub off, then I’m out.” -He alluded to the number of iron bars on one side of the palisade, which equalled the days he had yet to stay in prison.

Every morning when he arose he pointed to his companions, and shewed them that he had one bar less to stay. “I wish I was out,” sighed a hungry-looking bricklayer, who was found guilty of leaving the New Poorhouse without giving a proper notice; and had been taken away from a summer’s job, at twenty-five shillings a week, on the second day of his employment, and whose “whereabout” was only discovered by the letter and the half-sovereign he enclosed to his wife in the workhouse, to come and meet him, and which sum he had drawn on account of his new master. “But,” added he, “another fortnight will soon be over; then I shall be free again.” Gideon made a courteous reply to each; and having ascertained the offences many of them were committed for, dropped his spoon in his porridge, and exclaimed, “God help the poor!” And he stirred up his oatmeal and water, and wondered what a magistrate would think of such a breakfast, and that if another hundred years rolled over, whether or not the people then alive would believe that such a law ever existed, as that which doomed a man to prison for being industrious. After breakfast he was ordered to the tread-mill-the poachers were not,-and according to the laws of his country, he “winnowed the buxom air.” That morning there was a plan laid amongst the prisoners to break the odious mill; and this was to be done by their standing all at once on one step, and jumping together: they did it, and smash went the machine.

Then they had a holiday until it was repaired. One or two of them endeavoured to persuade Gideon to affect illness, and get into the sick-ward, where, they told him, he would be allowed meat and broth.

They recommended his swallowing a little tobacco, to make him ill and deceive the surgeon.

During the afternoon several of the oldest and most daring of the prisoners discussed a plan for seizing the turnkey, and setting themselves at liberty.

The poachers amused each other by pointing out the best places for game, and agreed to make a “little party” when they were set at liberty, and to have a “jolly night of it.” Some planned letters to send to their friends by those whose time was nearly out, – how money was [263] to be sent concealed them in the soles of a pair of shoes,-how others were to throw tobacco over the walls when they got out,-and how such a warden, when he went his rounds, would, for a “consideration,” deliver it per address! In fact, Gideon heard such theories started, and saw such plans put into execution in a few brief hours, as completely startled him, and made him conclude that, however honest a man might be when he entered those walls, it would be his own fault if he did not quit them as great a rogue as ever made his escape from Newgate. Still there were many imprisoned in that place for such trifling offences as are beneath the notice of the laws of a boasted free country like England.

Here were found the victims of those “silence sirrahs!” issued by brutal and unfeeling magistrates, who, either in haste to eat their dinner, or hand and glove with the rich oppressor and persecutor, refuse to hear what a poor man has to say in his defence.

Men in office who, instead of kindly admonishing and gently punishing the unfortunate prisoner, browbeat and bully, and insult him, turning all his better blood to gall; driving him to join rebellious factions, to carry the torch at midnight, and meet with riotous assemblies at day.

Men who emigrate, and teach their children to hate England; who become spies, and hold up their country as a laughing-stock to the stranger, and who sometimes turn heroes, and when the hour of danger comes, wreak their vengeance on their native land.

Men committed under petty and aggravated laws, which chafe the spirit more than when found guilty of any serious crime.

Laws that tend to demoralize and make men disloyal, desperate, and mad; turning their blood to blackness. Here was a poor sickly-looking man, committed for a month because he had not taken home a piece of work at the appointed time, though he had been laid up with the ague.

But he was told that he must either make good the price of the piece (which was an order and the sale lost), or go to prison.

The poor man had not a shilling in the world, so was committed, while his family were compelled to part with their furniture to get bread until he was released from prison. Another was sentenced for having trespassed on a field which the owner had shut up, though it was an old footpath; but the poor man had no one to back him, had no means of defending the action, and his doom was a prison. A third had left his wife and family because there was no longer any [264] work for him in his native town; he had wandered hundreds of miles in quest of employment, had borne cold, and hunger, and fatigue without a murmur, and during his absence, his wife was compelled to apply for relief to the parish.

They were taken into the workhouse, and he was committed as a vagabond for three months.

That man became a leader amongst the Chartists. A fourth had been found fishing in a broad navigable river which ought to be free to all, but he had neglected to ask permission of the owner of the field-along the bank of which ran a public footpath, where he stood to angle, but the magistrate was not able to decide his right to the spot, so being the least trouble, filled up the warrant and imprisoned him. A fifth was a poor pauper, whose wife when far advanced in pregnancy, and while suffering under a severe cold, was doomed to stand over her wash-tub, in a damp outhouse, the walls of which were constantly wet.

Her husband had remonstrated against such treatment, and was committed to prison.

The day before Gideon arrived he had heard of her death, and that night vowed, on his knees before God, that when liberated, he would murder the hardhearted overseer.

Shortly after he was narrowly prevented from fulfilling his word,-and in a fit of desperation he hung himself. One was committed because his dog had started out of the highroad, and given chase to a rabbit, although he paid the dog-tax, and had done his best to call off the animal; he was told that he had no right to keep a dog, and was imprisoned.

One poor old man had being found guilty of gathering herbs, where he had no permission to go.

He had no other means of obtaining a livelihood. Another was sentenced to three months for having struck a constable, though the brutal official in office had kicked over his basket of apples which he had placed on the pavement for a few moments to rest his arm.

But he had obstructed the footway, struck an officer, and the anger of the moment was not thought of, though if the man had died of the blow, he would have got off though a little longer confinement. — “Keep squat,” whispered Tom, as they lagged behind for a moment. “We’ll make sure of that sum before midnight, or we’ll try for it.” “Fifty pounds a-piece for us!” replied Jack, nudging his companion. “We’d better not let the grass grow beneath our feet, for fear Leonard the gipsy should be the first to peach.” “We’ll just have a glass or so,” said Tom, “then see what’s to be done.” And they entered the public-house, each keeping a sharp look-out on the other, and each alike jealous lest one should try to give the other the slip, and be the first to seize the reward; for no doubt there is more suspicion than “honour amongst thieves.” Outstepping the slow, moody pace, at which Squire Bellwood ascended the hill-side, we must again conduct our readers to the gipsy encampment, to where Black Boswell, now half frantic through fever and pain, was stretched in his camp, with Jael watching beside him; for so harrowing were the curses the old man had uttered in his delirium, and so awful had the scene been in the early part of the day, that even the hardiest gipsy of the tribe preferred retiring to the loneliest recess of the wood, rather than witness such a scene any longer.

Jael was then alone, kneeling beside the death-bed of her father; for even her lover Ishmael, had deserted her, though he still remained within call. The sun was by this time bending towards the west, and throwing that deep orange light among the mossed branches of the forest, which is so much richer, deeper, and more solemn than the pale yellow that flickers amid the thick-set foliage in a morning.

Not a bird raised its voice within hearing of the camp; nothing, saving the brawling of the brook, and even that was sometimes deadened beneath the deep curses of the dying gipsy.

The covering was half removed from the roof of the tent in which Black Boswell lay, and the rich bronzy light fell full upon his figure, tinging the green foliage overhead with dusky gold, and flashing on the massy boles of the huge trees.

Beside the athletic form of her dying father knelt Jael on the dark green moss, her hands clasped, and the tears streaming down her cheeks, while the sunbeams fell around her long dark hair, not unlike the glory which the old masters have thrown around the head of the Virgin Mother.

But oh! how unlike the God-horn child was the form she watched over! That swarthy countenance, which seemed [333] to lay open like a volume that records only crime, and on every page bears hideous illustrations that make us shudder, without even venturing to unravel the yet more hideous text.

The sunken cheek, the deep-set, fiery and blood-shot eye, the burning hand which grasped and tore the coverlet that was half thrown over him, the muscular limb drawn up in convulsive agony, and the set teeth muttering a curse at every pang,-told that the end of that man would be the very opposite of “peace.” “Jael, Jael!” said he, breathing heavily and lolling out his white tongue, “give me drink-the last was hot as hell-it burnt my throat like flaming brimstone.

Off, hell-cat!” added he, waving his hand, as if he saw some one approaching; “we shall have light enough to talk by there below– your sulphurous breath chokes me – Poh, poh! take off your burning lips, there is blood on them-Jael, her fingers are at my throat-I will come soon, soon! Go, muster your friends to make me welcome I” “There is no one near,” said Jael, offering him drink, while her hand shook as she raised the jug. “Oh! talk not so wildly, or you will make me afraid! think of that book I have told you of, in which it says that there is pardon for all, even the very worst of sinners.” But the dying man regarded her not, as with straining eyes he half emptied the jug at a breath; then again threw himself down on his straw pallet, while his evil conscience once more held hideous revelry, as strange forms flitted before his diseased vision, and horrid fancies chased each other across his heated brain. “There she comes again,” exclaimed the gipsy, pointing with his finger to where the red sunbeams flashed full upon the stem of a large birch. “But she angered me-I dealt her the death-blow in my rage.

I was mad when I did it-mad! Her eyes looked on me while I dug her grave; they looked on me, and on the moon; and when I wrapped her up in my old coat, her eyes still pept out upon me.

Well-I have felt sorry for it, and that is what they tell me gets us into a better camp, in another wood-in a world where they say there is no winter.

I was sorry, Jael, that I shot the poor dog; but he went every night and lay howling upon her grave; they would have found me out had they followed him.

He went bleeding to her grave after I had shot him, and there he died.

Next year the tree withered, Jael; they said the lightning had struck its branches-they knew not that the blood of your murdered mother blackened its roots [334] -they knew not that a deed which now scorches my soul with fire, dried up all its sap.

I would have given myself up to justice, but they would have hung me; they would not have shot me, as I did my dog,-they would have gibbeted me on the heath.

In sight of the very spot where I married her-where I murdered her.

Where she first came to my arms with the flowers of summer in her dark hair-where she lay with those very locks clotted with blood.

Where you was born, Jael, where you first run to gather the early flowers of spring, and the ripe berries of autumn.

But I shall be buried in the same grave, and her eyes will no longer be turned upon me as they were in the cold moonlight.

Avaunt-avaunt!” exclaimed he, half-rising from his couch and supporting himself on his elbow; “did you not see her, she beckoned me to come, and there was an old man with her; but his blood is on Bellwood’s hands.

It was in his quarrel he fell.

Poor old man! he was frantic because of his daughter; but the river swept over mother and child.

He wanted justice-he obtained death.

His hair was very white until it lay in the red pool of blood, and he clasped his hands and said something as he died.

He talked about his daughter, and heaven.” He then broke out again into loud curses too shocking to be recorded; and when this awful outburst was over, sunk down with closed hands and turned his eyes towards Jael.

The beautiful gipsy looked like a “ministering angel” beside the couch of her dying father.

She talked of mercy and forgiveness, called him her kind father, her only friend, and bade him take comfort, for heaven would deal mercifully with him were it only for his kindness to herself. “True, true!” said the old man, again becoming a little calmer; “I never went to a fair without bringing thee something to the camp.

But I have being afraid of thee of late, thou hast so much the look of thy mother-so like what she was when I married her.

When thirteen tribes were assembled on yonder heath, but not one amongst the youngest, and the most beautiful, could match with her.

But her mother fomented quarrels between us-she made me jealous-she drove me to drink, to murder-to madness.

Oh, that I should be doomed to linger here in this pain! I who might ere now have spilt my blood in some brawl, and died as I have lived, reckless and unthinking, fearless and bold-Oh curse”– “What! laid up like an old hound that is at last forsaken by the pack,” said a voice near at hand, and in another moment Squire Bellwood stood beside the tent. “Well, old fellow, how do you like [335] the prospect, pretty warm look-out in the distance, I guess, no fear but they’ll keep your camp-kettle boiling old boy?” The old gipsy gazed on him with set-teeth, and a look of bitter hatred, which was rendered more hideous by the change that had already taken place in his countenance; and there was an awful depth in the tones of his voice as he said, “I needed you not at this hour; had I never have known you, the spirit would have passed from me more freely: leave me, leave me! I, would sooner keep company with the devil himself than such as you.

Remember the old man whose grave you helped to dig!” “Hey well!” said Bellwood, gazing on him with a look of savage mockery, “I am glad you can so readily shoulder that deed from off your conscience.

Perhaps you can manage to thrust the murder of your wife on me as well.

But that happened I believe somewhat before my time-at least I must have been very young.” “Who said I murdered her?” exclaimed the gipsy, the hard cordage of his countenance twitching up as he spoke: “Villain! would you betray me after all I have done for you?” “Not I,” replied the Squire, with an apparent carelessness. “It is not worth while to hang a dying dog, though there is no harm in shewing him that I have power at any moment to throw a rope round his neck.

But I come here to seek Leonard.” “A dying dog!” muttered Black Boswell, the dark veins of his swarthy forehead swelling with passion, “at any other time you would have trembled had he but shewn you his teeth; but begone! begone! before his last act is to bite you-coward! cur! begone!” “Oh leave him,” said Jael, again imploring him to depart, as she had before done. “Do not anger him; you see the sand of his life is fast flowing.

It is but the trick of a coward to taunt a dying man,” added she with more energy, for the spirit of her father, though subdued by her gentleness, was nevertheless within her. “Nay, I may as well wait until the old hound has given his last growl,” said the brutal Squire, “then take you with me, you would be a bonny little cub to kennel with, sleek, warm and round-sided.” And Bellwood began to handle her rudely as he spoke, never seeming to regard for a moment the dying gipsy, whose eye had for the last few moments flashed ominously on the Squire, as if he meditated some desperate deed, and was summoning up all his enfeebled energies to accomplish it.

Thrice did he mutter the invective of “dying dog” between his teeth; his look every moment growing more fierce; — It chanced on this very evening, that farmer Kitchen, accompanied by his lodger William Manning, who now makes his first appearance on our stage (and who was the son of the drunken old Justice), were returning from a long ride; for they had been visiting some fields which lay at a considerable distance from the village, and were now almost ripe for the harvest; for the time was fast approaching when that most soothing of all rural sounds, the “rustle of the reaped corn,” was soon to be heard. “I have mended yonder gap at least a dozen times,” said farmer Kitchen, as they entered the heath, “and that thief of a fellow Banes is constantly breaking through it, and trampling down the corn, because he saves some five or six hundred yards when he goes his rounds.

My shepherd saw him break it down only last Monday.

I will call and give the fellow a good blowing up, and if he is very saucy, prosecute him for trespassing on my fields; for I have now a witness.” “It is very annoying,” said young Manning (who had nothing at all striking about his appearance more than the general class of what are called ‘gentleman farmers’)- “I would at all events threaten to prosecute him.

Though it would be best, perhaps, to let him alone; for he bears an infamous character, and might throw open your gates in the night, or do your cattle some injury.

I think the less you have to do with such men the better.” “O, I care nothing for him!” said the farmer, turning his horse’s head into the path which led to Banes’s residence. “If he’s saucy to me I’ll horsewhip him; that’s the only way to serve such fellows.” So saying, he rode up to the door of the house, and struck it smartly with the butt-end of his whip. “Who’s there, in the devil’s name?” exclaimed the gruff voice of the Gamekeeper from within; for the brandy had by this time made ‘ Richard himself again.’ The answer of the former was drowned in the deep barking of Banes’s mastiff; this once subsided, the altercation between them rose high, and on neither side was there any lack of oaths. While young Manning sat still in his saddle, wondering what had made such havoc with the Gamekeeper’s windows, he was startled by the sound of a female voice; he looked round on the heath, but saw no one at hand; until at last, raising his eyes towards the chamber- [341] window, he beheld the face of a woman, and listening more attentively, heard a sweet voice exclaim- “For heaven’s sake, sir, do not go away until you see me safe out of this villain’s hands! I am here a prisoner.

I mistook my way in the wood, a night or two ago, and under pretence of guiding me home, Banes brought me to this place.

It is only through God’s mercy that I am now alive; for He alone knows all I have suffered.

You may have heard of my misfortunes, sir; my name is Ellen Giles.” “Ellen Giles!” said the young man, who had seen her often, and thought of her more times than he could well number. “Break down the door this instant, Kitchen!” He stuck the spurs into his horse as he spoke, and the animal reared on-end, and with full force struck the door with its fore-feet. “I will shoot you dead if you are not off this instant,” said Banes, pointing the muzzle of his gun through the window.

But the men regarded not his threats, as with all their might they assailed the door.

The Keeper fired, and slightly wounded young Manning’s horse in the flank, but did no great injury; and scarcely had the echo of the gun-shot died away over the heath, before a loud shout was heard at hand, and Ben Brust and Gideon Giles appeared before the house, followed by a score of the villagers. “This way, this way!” shouted Ben, making for the back door; “quick, quick! if he once gets into the wood we shall lose him.” Young Manning understood Ben’s signal in an instant, and again leaping into his saddle, cleared the wood-fence at a bound. “Come on!” shouted Ben, “I saw the thief’s hat, as he ran through that clump of hazels.

Hilloa, hilloa! yoix, yoix!” and Ben led the way as if he was heading a fox-chase; while four or five men followed at his heels in full cry.

William Manning dashed fearlessly through the underwood on horseback, and took a wider circuit, hoping to outstrip the Keeper, and either capture him, or force him back into the very teeth of his pursuers.

The barking of the Keeper’s mastiff for a short time kept them on the right track. Return we now to the house, where all was in confusion; for it was some time before they could liberate Ellen Giles and Mary Sanderson, so stoutly was the door secured.

The meeting between the father and daughter we shall pass over; such a scene would possess but little interest if described.

It was a mingling of smiles and tears, where there was much felt and but little to tell of. The fair prisoners once liberated, the mob began to think of mischief. [342] It might have originated in an accident-for it was now nearly dark-hut the curtains of the room in which they had been confined were all at once in a blaze; and instead of attempting to put out the fire, the boys set up a loud huzza, and the men only looked at one another and laughed.

In vain did Gideon Giles rush up stairs and attempt to extinguish the flames; when he came down for water, the room below was in a blaze; the screen was thrown down and set fire to, and some one had thrown the chairs upon it-the house was on fire.

Scarcely had Gideon Giles got down stairs before the flames had reached a cupboard in the room he had just quitted, and a loud explosion was heard-a drawer full of powder had ignited.

It was now beyond all human aid to save the old building from destruction; and the group without stood silently watching the progress of the flames, as beam after beam fell in, throwing around a shower of sparks, then again bursting out into one broad blaze.

Ellen Giles leant upon the arm of her father, and gazed in silence upon the burning mansion, while she ran over in her own mind all that she had endured within those hated walls.

Not a vestige did any one attempt to save from the ruins, nor was the value of a pin carried away; for so universally was Banes hated, that no one would contaminate himself by bearing off any trifle which had belonged to such a man.

As for the house, Sir Edward Lee had before granted him a lease of it, which was likely enough to have outlasted the period the building might be supposed to stand, had it only been left to the slow crumbling hand of time. As the house stood on a hill, the fire was seen far and wide, and a large crowd was soon congregated before it; and amongst those who had rushed forth out of a pure love of “seeing a sight” was our old friend Mrs.

Brown, and she was in ecstasies. “O, if they could but catch him, now, and throw him into it,” said this merciful woman, “what a good thing it would be! It would save the devil a deal of trouble, for he’s sure on him in the end.” “Is that all the love you have for your dear Mr.

Banes, that was sich a nice man a day or two ago?” said Mrs.

Lawson, the deputy’s wife, who, having heard that Mr.

Brown was likely to lose his ropery, now thought it time to pay court to her rival Mrs.

Giles; for women are like the rest of mankind. “Marry, come up, to sich love, say I! and a fig for people who pretend to drown themselves, as somebody did that I know, and then hedn’t the courage; throwing folks into sich an alarm for nowt at all.

I wonder if I should hey done so!” [343] “I don’t demean mysen wi’ talking to rich low people,” said Mrs.

Brown turning up her nose, while the blaze of the huge fire made her ruddy countenance appear more red- “though if I did, I could say that which would shew how some people want to take the bread out of other people’s mouths who have fed them; and wouldn’t stick at any dirty action to get their husband made chief constable, instead of being deputy.

But I name no names.” “Hush wife!” said her husband, “you’ve made yourself a big fool enough lately; and what between your advice and that villain Banes’s, I am likely enough to bring my hogs to a pretty market at last.

Keep your tongue still, will you?” — [354] blade of silk-grass over his lips, it never stirred-so I knew he was dead.” It was an awful scene to behold the two dead bodies stretched beside the camp-fire-Jael weeping over the lifeless form of her father, and Banes, with the tears streaming down his bronzed cheeks, pressing the cold hand of Bellwood-for the hardened Gamekeeper now wept aloud.

The gipsies stood round the fire with folded arms and bent brows, sullenly looking on the corpse of their leader, and more angry than sorrowful at his death-for they thought they should now be compelled to join some other tribe.

Two or three labouring men who had long known Black Boswell stood by, silently surveying the scene.

They had come to see a dead gipsy more out of a motive of curiosity than anything else.

They looked on, but offered no consolation.

Ishmael was the only one who seemed to sympathise with the sorrows of Jael, and he sat beside the fire, with his head bent, and his face buried in his hands. Black Boswell’s favourite mastiff lay beside the fire, every now and then giving a hideous howl, which rang through the deep solitudes of the wood.

By this time the moon had risen, and seemed to contend with the red blaze of the fire, as she darted down her bright rays upon the scene.

And Jul knelt there, regardless of the cold night-dew which gemmed her dark hair: she felt neither heat nor cold; the warmth of the fire, which her red cloak reflected back-the pale moonbeams streaming on her bare neck as she bent her head over the dead body, were alike disregarded.

She felt only the cold cheek on which her own rested-on which her tears fell; and she wished that she were also dead. Banes remained until nearly midnight beside the corpse of the Squire without once uttering a word.

At length he arose, and prevailed on four of the men to bear the dead body home to Justice Bellwood’s; and, without either bier or covering, they carried the corpse through the wood.

Banes went foremost until they cleared the thicket, removing every overhanging bough or entangling branch which obstructed their path, with as much care as if they were carrying home a sickly man, which every rude shock might injure.

But the cold dew that fell, and the green leaves which swept over that blackened countenance, affected it not.

The Squire had run his last course-he had hunted after evil, and found death.

Those green alleys would never again echo back his loud 4] whoop’ and ‘ halloo.’ Although he left hearts aching and breaking in many [355] a quiet home, on earth their griefs could never more affect him, for he was then but “a clod of the valley.” It was past midnight; and, ruminating over the events of the day, Justice Bellwood was still seated in his own parlour (he had never felt a less inclination to retire to rest), when he was startled by a loud double knock at the door.

His faithful old servant, who was still up, answered the summons.

The old man heard an altercation in the passage; and when he arose, he beheld four men bringing in the dead body of his son.

As the parlour door was open, the men entered, without waiting for instructions, and placed the corpse on the carpet.

The old Justice followed them almost mechanically, and, without speaking, sunk into his seat; nor did he observe Banes. “Here is a paper,” said one of the men, “which fell out of his pocket,” pointing to the dead body. “I picked it up, not knowing what use it might be, as it is parchment.” Justice Bellwood drew his hand from his eyes, as if to command silence, or bid them begone, when the document, which the man held open, arrested his attention; and he saw it was the bond which consigned the property of the Baronet into his hands, and which lie believed he had burnt. “Leave me! leave me!” exclaimed the old man. “To-morrow I will reward you.” Deep sorrow seldom fails in commanding respect, if not sympathy; and the men left him; although one, with less feeling than the rest, “hoped his honour would give them some refreshment, as they had carried him a long way.” “Yes! yes!” was all the answer the old man made, as he pointed to his servant.

He then locked the door, and gave vent to his feelings; but before sitting down again, he threw the document into the fire, adding, “This is the severest blow of all.

I knew he” (glancing at the corpse) “was guilty of many follies, but never thought that he would have deceived me.

I did not deserve it.

I have been a foolish and a fond old man-and should again-for with all thy faults I loved thee.

Bless God! thy mother is not alive to witness this scene.

It will kill me-but I am very old; her, it would have driven mad.

Oh! my dear boy!-what have I done to deserve this blow? I had looked upon thee as the prop and comfort of my declining age!-had fondly dreamed how I should sit in the sunshine beside my own porch, and hear the [356] prattle of little children who would call thee father, as years ago thou didst me!-that Amy would be to me as a daughter, and that on my death-bed I should clasp thy hand in mine, and feel the little heads that would kneel around their poor old grandfather’s bed, and just pass from them to other such faces, as would welcome me into heaven! Now I am left alone in my old age-like a lonely tree, the last of the forest-not a shoot to tell of what has been-nothing that I care for-but poor Amy Lee!-the only branch that grew on my old withered trunk is dead.

I have nothing left me now but to die-oh! that it had been earlier!-I should have carried a less load to my grave.

But why do I reproach thee, when I ought to accuse myself? I alone have thy untimely end to answer for.

I laughed at thy youthful follies, without checking them-I loved to see thee happy, without thinking of the end to which pleasure leads! I pointed out no course by which thou wert to steer, but launched thee into the world without either guide, or object, end, or aim-as if thy life were only to be one round of pleasure! O God! pardon me! My over-fondness hath been his ruin-his death! I taught him not the lessons of virtue-I brought him not up in Thy fear, but let him live up to his own inclinations; for to see him happy was all I coveted.

If he rushed into sin, or did injury, I made reparation with gold; deeming that years and experience would make him wiser.

The seed was thrown in, but I regarded not its growth; and now I come to reap the harvest, find only blight and.

Death. -I alone have brought him to this!” And the old man was about to throw himself upon the dead body of his son, when he was startled by a loud sobbing in the room; and, looking round, he beheld Banes clasping the cold hand of the dead man, and bathing it with tears. The Gamekeeper, who had followed the corpse home-the only mourner, had entered the room with the men who bore in the body, and remained there unperceived, until that moment, by the old Justice. “I am alone to blame,” said Banes, looking up in deep contrition, “and am more deserving of death than he is.

I first instructed him to deceive you, led him on from evil to evil, and when he would have halted, laughed at his weakness; I alone formed the plot for siezing Walter Northcot, advised him to steal the bond, taught him how to assume penitence before you-I am the villain! and, after having been an unwilling witness of your sorrow, regret only that I lay not dead in his place, and that the tears I now shed over him, [357] were by himself dropped on my lifeless corpse! O God! has thy justice no remaining bolt left to pierce this roof, and lay me stiff and blackened beside him?” Banes threw himself again upon the dead body of the Squire, and shed such tears as can only stream from the eyes of the greatest of sinners; for his repentance was sincere. The old man spoke not, for his heart was too full-but, with clasped hands, knelt in silence beside the corpse of his son; and while his head rested on the dead body, he grasped the hand of Banes within his own, and they remained, kneeling in mournful silence, side by side. Although Banes was a downright villain, he was not insensible to the reproaches of conscience; and our readers must have remarked, that during the night, and when alone, he was often compelled to drown his senses in drink, to stifle the whispers of that “silent monitor” which, at such hours, never failed to accuse him of his misdeeds.

As we have before shewn in the progress of this work, he more than once resolved to alter his course of life and become better, but then the thoughts of what people would say about him overthrew all his good resolves.

It was pride alone which, in a great measure, caused him to retain his evil habits, and he knew that, do what he might, his character could stand no worse than it did, for he thought if he became a better man, the change might be attributed to cowardice.

He therefore resolved to repel scorn with scorn, to return hatred with hatred; he had obtained the name of an oppressor and tyrant, when, considering the unpopularity of his situation, which was to uphold the odious Game-law, he did not much deserve it; but then he knew he was in power, and he did as many others have done and still do.

He saw the Baronet plunge fearlessly into vice, and attempt the seduction of a virtuous girl, and he thought it would be a “feather in his cap” to outplot him.

He became acquainted with Bellwood, and his active mind and daring spirit outstepped the weaker plans of the Squire, and he was soon the great deviser of all his schemes.

Still he was unhappy!-he saw plan after plan succeed, but the pleasure it gave him weighed but lightly in the balance, when compared to the remorse he felt afterwards.

He would fain have become better, but he was ashamed of attempting the change; had he written the letter to Gideon, and the Roper received it favourably, his evil career might that night have ended; but he had no one to encourage him to proceed in that moment of brief repentance. — “That I will do,” answered the Captain, “if it be only to account to Justice Bellwood, how I have, by the assistance of his son, so long dealt with him wrongfully.

But I should like to see these poor fellows safely aboard to-night, and to-morrow I will shew you that I can either enter a prison without complaining, or be grateful to the friend through life, who reclaimed me again to the true colours I had so long deserted.” By this time the boat was drawing near to the lighter, and the small fishing-cobble which they had unmoored; in the latter were two men, who seemed to understand as much about rowing as two bears.

Gideon and Ben Brust were in the lighter, and what they could not do by art, they accomplished by main strength.

A smile passed over the swarthy features of the Captain, while he watched their manoeuvres, which did not pass unobserved by Walter, who said, “You would find no difficulty in passing them.” [366] “I should just like to run between,” said the Captain, “without either hailing them, or laying-to.” “Then do it,” replied Walter, who with all his respect for his friends, could not resist having his joke. The men rested on their oars for a moment, while the Captain shipped the rudder, then took his seat in the stern. “Steady boys!” said he, “and we’ll walk round them.” “Come here, you thieves!” shouted Ben Brust, as he stood with a boat-hook uplifted in the moonlight, “ let me once get hold of any of you with this, and I’ll land you here as easy as I would a roach.

Hard-over with the helm, Gideon-lay-to,” continued he, calling to Cousin William. “Now farmer Kitchen, one good pull, and I shall hook that thief of a Captain.

Why dom ’em, they’re making fun on us,” said Ben, staring in astonishment at the hardihood of the Captain, who had by this time rowed round the heavy lighter, and came so near as to touch their oars. “Pull a-head,” said the Captain, the men lay-to with all their strength, and the boat shot forward like a race-horse. “We shall lose him, we shall lose him!” shouted Ben, “O! if I had but those thieves ashore.

But see, they’re coming back, they mean shewing us fight after all,” and off went Ben’s jacket in an instant. “Now,” said Ben, “just shew me which is the thief of a Captain, and leave me to deal with him!” “Lay down your boat-hook, Ben,” said Walter, when they came alongside, “and lend me your hand to mount this clumsy craft-these are all friends of mine,” added he, pointing to the crew. “Are they?” said Ben, scarcely believing his eyes, “then give us your fist my hearties,” continued he, seizing the hand of the Captain, while he added- “two minutes ago, I would have given all I’m worth in the world to have broken your head; but if I’d known you’d been a friend of Master Walter’s, I would sooner have eaten my hand than I would have hurt you.” Walter soon ascertained that the Baronet and young Manning had ridden down to Morton, and as the distance was not above ten minutes ride to a practised horseman like himself, he mounted farmer Kitchen’s bay galloway, and set off at full gallop, ordering Ben, and the whole party to proceed onward to Burton Woodhouse, and promising to overtake them before they reached the village.

The Captain requested permission to accompany him, which was readily granted, and Walter marvelled to see with what ease he sat in his [367] saddle, for he was mounted on the horse which had before borne Ben and Gideon. “I have followed many a tiger-hunt abroad,” said the Captain, in reply to the compliment Walter paid to his good horsemanship.

They reached Morton, and found Sir Edward Lee and William Manning in their saddles, looking out on the bank, opposite to which the brig was moored, and anxiously awaiting the approach of the boat.

Pass we the meeting of Walter Northcot and the Baronet.

The Captain hailed the brig, and the mate came ashore; he whispered something in his ear, which caused the honest sailor to put out his tarry hand, and grasp the Captain’s.

The Captain and mate talked together for a few minutes, and then approached Walter, who recognised in the honest sailor, the friend who had visited him when he was a prisoner in the Hall of Justice Manning. It was broad daylight when they reached the village of Burton Woodhouse-the noise they made was heard a mile off.

Ben Brust shouted and danced about like a madman, and knocked the Host up at the house where Gideon was taken up for hawking his goods.

That night Ben got drunk. CHAPTER XLV. Last scene of all-ending in a sermon, which is very old, and very original. More than twelve months have passed away since we last visited the village of Burton Woodhouse, and above three years have elapsed since the events took place which we have recorded within this volume, and great are the changes that have taken place in the village during this brief period of time. Honest Justice Bellwood is dead!-he did not long survive his son; he left the whole of his property to Walter Northcot and Amy Lee.

Amy has long been married to Walter; they have a son, a fine little fellow, a handsome likeness of his mother; he is called James Bellwood Northcot-a name long enough for any lord in the land.

Walter has erected a beautiful marble monument to the memory of the worthy Justice.

The tribute he has paid to the old man’s many virtues pleased us so much that, we made a copy of it, which we here present to our readers:- [368]

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