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   Chapter 1 No.1

The Hallam Succession By Amelia E. Barr Characters: 37843

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04


"The changing guests, each in a different mood,

Sit at the road-side table and arise:

And every life among them in likewise

Is a soul's board set daily with new food.

"May not this ancient room thou sitt'st in dwell

In separate living souls for joy or pain?

Nay, all its corners may be painted plain

Where Heaven shows pictures of some life well-spent."

Yorkshire is the epitome of England. Whatever is excellent in the whole land is found there. The men are sturdy, shrewd, and stalwart; hard-headed and hard-fisted, and have notably done their work in every era of English history. They are also a handsome race, the finest specimens extant of the pure Anglo-Saxon, and they still preserve the imposing stature and the bright blonde characteristics of the race.

Yorkshire abounds in what is the typical English home-fine old halls and granges, set in wooded parks, and surrounded by sweet, shady gardens. One of the fairest of these homes is Hallam-Croft. There may be larger halls in the West Riding, but none that combines so finely all the charms of antiquity, with every modern grace and comfort. Its walls are of gray stone, covered with ivy, or crusted with golden lichens; its front, long and low, is picturesquely diversified with oriel windows, gable ends, and shadowy angles. Behind is a steep, craggy range of woody hills; in front, a terraced garden of great extent; full of old-fashioned bowers, and labyrinth-like walks, and sloping down to a noble park, whose oaks and beeches are of wonderful beauty, and whose turf is soft as velvet and greener than any artist ever dreamed of.

Fifty years ago the owner of this lovely spot was Squire Henry Hallam. He was about sixty years of age, stout and fair and dressed in fine drab broad-cloth, with a white vest, and a white cambric kerchief tied loosely round his neck. His hat, drab also, was low-crowned and broad-brimmed, and, as a general rule, he kept it on. In the holy precincts of a church, or if the national anthem was played, he indeed always bared his head; but, in the first case, it was his expression of a religious sentiment, in the second he saluted his country, and, in a measure, himself.

One evening in the early spring he was sitting upon a low sofa in the room that was specially his own, mending some fishing tackle. A couple of setter puppies were worrying each other on the sofa beside him, and a splendid fox-hound leaned her muzzle on one of his broad knees, and looked up into her master's face with sad reproachful eyes. She was evidently jealous, and watching anxiously for some look or word of favor. She had not long to wait. The puppies became troublesome; he chided them, and put the bit of leather they were quarreling about in his pocket. Then he patted the hound, and said: "There's a deal o' difference between them and thee, Fanny, and it's a' in thy favor, lass;" and Fanny understood the compliment, for she whimpered happily, and thrust her handsome head up against her master's breast.

At that moment his daughter, Elizabeth, entered the room. She had an open letter in her hand, and a look half-perplexed and half-pleased upon her face. "Father," she said, "there is a letter from America; Richard and Phyllis are coming; and I am afraid I shall not know how to make them happy."

"Don't thee meet troubles half 'way; they arn't worth th' compliment.

What is ta feared for, dearie?"

"Their life is so different from ours-and, father, I do believe they are Methodists."

The squire fastened the bit of gaudy feather to the trout "fly" he was making, before he answered. "Surely to goodness, they'll nivver be that! Sibbald Hallam, my uncle, was a varry thick Churchman when he went to th' Carolinas-but he married a foreigner; she had plenty o' brass, and acres o' land, but I never heard tell owt o' her religion. They had four lads and lasses, but only one o' them lived to wed, and that was my cousin, Matilda Hallam-t' mother o' these two youngsters that are speaking o' coming here."

"Who did she marry, father?"

"Nay, I knowt o' th' man she married. He was a Colonel Fontaine. I was thinking a deal more o' my own wedding than o' hers at that time. It's like enough he were a Methodist. T' Carolinas hed rebelled against English government, and it's nobbut reasonable to suppose t' English Church would be as little to their liking. But they're Hallams, whativer else they be, Elizabeth, and t' best I hev is for them."

He had risen as he spoke; the puppies were barking and gamboling at his feet, and Fanny watching his face with dignified eagerness. They knew he was going to walk, and were asking to go with him. "Be still wi' you, Rattle and Tory!-Yes, yes, Fanny!-and Elizabeth, open up t' varry best rooms, and give them a right hearty welcome. Where's Antony?"

"Somewhere in the house."

"Hedn't ta better ask him what to do? He knows ivery thing."

There was a touch of sarcasm in the voice, but Elizabeth was too much occupied to notice it; and as the squire and his dogs took the road to the park, she turned, with the letter still open in her hand, and went thoughtfully from room to room, seeking her brother. There was no deeper motive in her thought than what was apparent; her cares were simply those of hospitality. But when a life has been bounded by household hopes and anxieties, they assume an undue importance, and since her mother's death, two years previously, there had been no company at Hallam. This was to be Elizabeth's first effort of active hospitality.

She found Antony in the library reading "The Gentleman's Magazine," or, perhaps, using it for a sedative; for he was either half asleep, or lost in thought. He moved a little petulantly when his sister spoke. One saw at a glance that he had inherited his father's fine physique and presence, but not his father's calm, clear nature. His eyes were restless, his expression preoccupied, his manner haughty. Neither was his voice quite pleasant. There are human instruments, which always seem to have a false note, and Antony's had this peculiarity.

"Antony, I have a letter from Richard and Phyllis Fontaine. They are going to visit us this summer."

"I am delighted. Life is dreadfully dull here, with nothing to do."

"Come to the parlor, and I will give you a cup of tea, and read you cousin Phyllis's letter."

The squire had never thought of asking Elizabeth why she supposed her cousins to be Methodists. Antony seized at once upon the point in the letter which regarded it.

"They are sailing with Bishop Elliott, and will remain until September, in order to allow the Bishop to attend Conference; what does that mean, Elizabeth?"

"I suppose it means they are Methodists."

The young man was silent a moment, and then he replied, emphatically,

"I am very glad of it."

"How can you say so, Antony? And there is the rector, and the

Elthams-"

"I was thinking of the Hallams. After a thousand years of stagnation one ought to welcome a ripple of life. A Methodist isn't asleep. I have often felt inclined to drop into their chapel as I passed it. I wonder how it would feel to be awake soul and body at once!"

"Antony, you ought not to talk so recklessly. Some people might imagine you meant what you said. You know very well that the thousand years of 'stagnation,' as you call it, of the Hallams, is a most respectable thing."

"Very respectable indeed! That is all women think about-born conservatives every one of them-'dyed in the wool,' as a Bradford man would say."

"Why do you quote what Bradford men say? I cannot imagine what makes you go among a crowd of weavers, when you might be at Eltham Castle with gentlemen."

"I will tell you why. At Eltham we yawn and stagnate together. The weavers prick and pinch me in a thousand places. They make me dream of living."

"Drink your tea, Antony and don't be foolish."

He shrugged his shoulders and laughed. Upon the whole, he rather liked the look of astonishment in his sister's gray eyes, and the air of puzzled disapproval in her manner. He regarded ignorance on a great many matters as the natural and admirable condition of womanhood.

"It is very good tea, Elizabeth, and I like this American news. I shall not go to the Tyrol now. Two new specimens of humanity to study are better than glaciers."

"Antony, do remember that you are speaking of your own cousins-'two new specimens of humanity'-they are Hallams at the root."

"I meant no disrespect; but I am naturally a little excited at the idea of American Hallams-Americans in Hallam-Croft! I only hope the shades of Hengist and Horsa wont haunt the old rooms out of simple curiosity. When are they to be here?"

"They will be in Liverpool about the end of May. You have two weeks to prepare yourself, Antony."

Antony did not reply, but just what kind of a young lady his cousin Phyllis Fontaine might be he had no idea. People could not in those days buy their pictures by the dozen, and distribute them, so that Antony's imagination, in this direction, had the field entirely to itself. His fancy painted her in many charming forms, and yet he was never able to invest her with any other distinguishing traits than those with which he was familiar-the brilliant blonde beauty and resplendent health of his countrywomen.

Therefore, when the real Phyllis Fontaine met his vision she was a revelation to him. It was in the afternoon of the last day of May, and Hallam seemed to have put on a more radiant beauty for the occasion. The sun was so bright, the park so green, the garden so sweet and balmy. Heart's-ease were every-where, honeysuckles filled the air, and in the wood behind, the blackbirds whistled, and the chaffinches and tomtits kept up a merry, musical chattering. The squire, with his son and daughter, was waiting at the great open door of the main entrance for his visitors, and as the carriage stopped he cried out, cheerily, "Welcome to Hallam!" Then there was a few minutes of pleasant confusion, and in them Phyllis had made a distinct picture on every mind.

"She's a dainty little woman," said the squire to himself, as he sat calmly smoking his pipe after the bustle of the arrival was over; "not much like a Hallam, but t' eye as isn't charmed wi' her 'ell hev no white in it, that's a' about it."

Antony was much interested, and soon sought his sister.

"If that is Cousin Phyllis, she is beautiful. Don't you think so,

Elizabeth?"

"Yes; how perfectly she was dressed."

"That is a woman's criticism. Did you see her soft, dark eyes, her small bow-shaped mouth-a beauty one rarely finds in English women-her exquisite complexion, her little feet?"

"That is a man's criticism. How could you see all that in a moment or two of such confusion?"

"Easily; how was she dressed?"

"In a plain dress of gray cloth. The fit was perfect, the linen collar and cuffs spotless, the gray bonnet, with its drooping, gray feather bewitching. She wore gray gloves and a traveling cloak of the same color, which hung like a princess's mantle."

"How could you see all that in a moment or two of such confusion?"

"Do not be too clever, Antony. You forget I went with her to her rooms."

"Did you notice Richard?"

"A little; he resembles his sister. Their foreign look as they stood beside you and father was very remarkable. Neither of them are like Hallams."

"I am so glad of it; a new element coming into life is like a fresh wind 'blowing through breathless woods.'"

But Elizabeth sighed. This dissatisfaction with the old, and craving for the new, was one of the points upon which Antony and his father were unable to understand each other. Nothing permanent pleased Antony, and no one could ever predicate of him what course he would pursue, or what side he would take. As a general rule, however, he preferred the opposition in all things. Now, the squire's principles and opinions were as clear to his own mind as his own existence was. He believed firmly in his Bible, in the English Constitution, and in himself. He admitted no faults in the first two; his own shortcomings toward Heaven he willingly acknowledged; but he regarded his attitude toward his fellow-man as without fault. All his motives and actions proceeded from well-understood truths, and they moved in consistent and admirable grooves.

Antony had fallen upon different times, and been brought under more uncertain influences. Oxford, "the most loyal," had been in a religious ferment during his stay there. The spirit of Pusey and Newman was shaking the Church of England like a great wind; and though Antony had been but little touched by the spiritual aspect of the movement, the temporal accusations of corruption and desertion of duty were good lances to tilt against the Church with. It gave him a curiously mixed pleasure to provoke the squire to do battle for her; partly from contradiction, partly that he might show off his array of second-hand learning and logic; and partly, also, for the delight of asserting his own opinions and his own individuality.

Any other dispute the squire would have settled by a positive assertion, or a positive denial; but even the most dogmatic of men are a little conscientious about religious scruples. He had, therefore, allowed his son to discuss "the Church" with him, but in some subtle way the older man divined that his ideas were conviction; while Antony's were only drifting thoughts. Therefore, the moral strength of the argument was with him, and he had a kind of contempt for a Hallam who could be moved by every Will-o'-the-wisp of religious or Political opinions.

But Elizabeth was greatly impressed by her brother's accomplishments, and she loved him, and believed in him with all her heart. The Hallams hitherto had no reputation for mental ability. In times of need England had found them good soldiers and ready givers; but poets and scholars they had never been. Antony affected the latter character. He spoke several languages, he read science and German philosophy, and he talked such radical politics to the old gardener, that the man privately declared himself "fair cap't wi' t' young squire."

Yet after all, his dominant passion was a love of power, and of money as the means by which to grasp power. Below all his speculations and affectations this was the underlying thought. True, he was heir of Hallam, and as the heir had an allowance quite equal to his position. But he constantly reflected that his father might live many years, and that in the probable order of things he must wait until he was a middle-aged man for his inheritance; and for a young man who felt himself quite competent to turn the axle of the universe, it seemed a contemptible lot to grind in his own little mill at Hallam. He had not as yet voiced these thoughts, but they lay in his heart, and communicated unknown to himself an atmosphere of unrest and unreliability to all his words and actions.

It was soon evident that there would be little sympathy between Richard and Antony. Richard Fontaine was calm, dignified, reticent; never tempted to give his confidence to any one; and averse to receive the confidences of others; therefore, though he listened with polite attention to Antony's aspirations and aims, they made very little impression upon him. Both he and Phyllis glided without effort into the life which must have been so new to them; and in less than a week, Hallam had settled happily down to its fresh conditions. But nothing had been just as Antony expected. Phyllis was very lovely, but not lovely specially for him, which was disappointing; and he could not help soon seeing that, though Richard was attentive, he was also unresponsive.

There is one charming thing about English hospitality, it leaves its guests perfect freedom. In a very few days Phyllis found this out; and she wandered, unnoticed and undisturbed, through the long galleries, and examined, with particular interest, the upper rooms, into which from generation to generation unwelcomed pictures and unfashionable furniture had been placed. There was one room in the eastern turret that attracted her specially. It contained an old spinet, and above it the picture of a young girl; a face of melancholy, tender beauty, with that far-off look, which the French call predestinee, in the solemn eyes.

It is folly to say that furniture has no expression; the small couch, the faded work-table, the straight chairs, with their twisted attenuated legs, had an unspeakable air of sadness. One day she cautiously touched the notes of the instrument. How weak and thin and hollow they were! And yet they blended perfectly with something in her own heart. She played till the tears were on her cheeks, it seemed as if the sorrowful echoes had found in her soul the conditions for their reproduction. When she went back to her own room the influence of the one she had left followed her like a shadow.

"How can I bring one room into another?" she asked herself, and she flung wide the large windows and let the sunshine flood the pink chintzes and the blooming roses of her own apartment. There was a tap at the door, and Elizabeth entered.

"I have brought you a cup of tea, Phyllis. Shall I drink mine beside you?"

"I shall enjoy both your company and the tea. I think I have been in an unhappy room and caught some of its spirit-the room with the old spinet in it."

"Aunt Lucy's room. Yes, she was very unhappy. She loved, and the man was utterly unworthy of her love! She died slowly in that room-a wasted life."

"Ah, no, Elizabeth! No life is waste in the great Worker's hands. If human love wounds and wrongs us, are we not circled by angels as the stars by heaven? Our soul relatives sorrow in our sorrow; and out of the apparent loss bring golden gain. I think she would know this before she died."

"She died as the good die, blessing and hoping."

Elizabeth looked steadily at Phyllis. She thought she had never seen any face so lovely. From her eyes, still dewy with tears, the holy soul looked upward; and her lips kept the expression of the prayer that was in her heart. She did not wonder at the words that had fallen from them. After a moment's silence, she said:

"My mother loved Aunt Lucy very dearly. Her death made a deal of difference in mother's life."

"Death is always a great sorrow to those who love us; but for ourselves, it is only to bow our heads at going out, and to enter straightway another golden chamber of the King's, lovelier than the one we leave."

Elizabeth scarce knew how to answer. She had never been used to discuss sacred subjects with girls her own age; in fact, she had a vague idea that such subjects were not to be discussed out of church, or, at least, without a clergyman to direct the conversation. And Phyllis's childish figure, glowing face, a

nd sublime confidence affected her with a sense of something strange and remote. Yet the conversation interested her greatly. People are very foolish who restrain spiritual confidences; no topic is so universally and permanently interesting as religious experience. Elizabeth felt its charm at once. She loved God, but loved him, as it were, afar off; she almost feared to speak to him. She had never dared to speak of him.

"Do you really think, Phyllis, that angels care about our earthly loves?"

"Yes, I do. Love is the rock upon which our lives are generally built or wrecked. Elizabeth, if I did not believe that the love of God embraced every worthy earthly love, I should be very miserable."

"Because?"

"Because, dear, I love, and am beloved again."

"But how shall we know if the love be worthy?"

"Once in class-meeting I asked this question. That was when I first became aware that I loved John Millard. I am not likely to forget the answer my leader gave me."

"What was it?"

"Sister Phyllis," he said, "ask yourself what will your love be to you a thousand ages hence. Ask yourself if it will pass the rolling together of the heavens like a scroll, and the melting of the elements with fervent heat. Ask if it will pass the judgment-day, when the secret thoughts of all hearts will be revealed. Dare to love only one whom you can love forever."

"I have never thought of loving throughout all eternity the one whom

I love in time."

"Ah! but it is our privilege to cherish the immortal in the man we love. Where I go I wish my beloved to go also. The thought of our love severed on the threshold of paradise makes me weep. I cannot understand an affection which must look forward to an irrevocable separation. Nay, I ask more than this; I desire that my love, even there assuming his own proper place, should be still in advance of me-my guide, my support, my master every-where."

"If you love John Millard in this way, he and you must be very happy."

"We are, and yet what earthly light has not its shadow?"

"What is the shadow, Phyllis?"

"Richard dislikes him so bitterly; and Richard is very, very near and dear to me. I dare say you think he is very cool and calm and quiet. It is the restraint which he puts upon himself; really Richard has a constant fight with a temper, which, if it should take possession of him, would be uncontrollable. He knows that."

"You spoke as if you are a Wesleyan, yet you went to Church last

Sunday, Phyllis."

"Why not? Methodists are not bigots; and just as England is my mother-country, Episcopacy is my mother-Church. If Episcopacy should ever die, Elizabeth, Methodism is next of kin, and would be heir to all her churches."

"And Wesleyans and Methodists are the same?"

"Yes; but I like the old name best. It came from the pen of the golden-mouthed Chrysostom, so you see it has quite an apostolic halo about it."

"I never heard that, Phyllis."

"It is hardly likely you would. It was used at first as a word of reproach; but how many such words have been adopted and made glorious emblems of victory. It was thus in ancient Antioch the first followers of Christ were called 'Christians.'"

"But how came Chrysostom to find a name for John Wesley's followers?"

"Richard told me it was used first in a pamphlet against Whitefield. I do not remember the author, but he quoted from the pages of Chrysostom these words, 'To be a Methodist is to be beguiled.' Of course, Chrysostom's 'Methodist' is not our Methodist. The writer knew he was unjust and meant it for a term of reproach, but the word took the popular fancy, and, as such words do, clung to the people at whom it was thrown. They might have thrown it back again; they did better; they accepted it, and have covered it with glory."

"Why, Phyllis, what a little enthusiast you are!" and Elizabeth looked again with admiration at the small figure reclining in the deep chair beside her.

Its rosy chintz covering threw into vivid relief the exquisite paleness of Phyllis's complexion-that clear, warm paleness of the South-and contrasted it with the intense blackness of her loosened hair. Her dark, soft eyes glowed, her small hands had involuntarily clasped themselves upon her breast. "What a little enthusiast you are!" Then she stooped and kissed her, a most unusual demonstration, for Elizabeth was not emotional. Her feelings were as a still lake, whose depths were only known to those who sounded them.

The conversation was not continued. Fine souls have an instinctive knowledge of times and seasons, and both felt that for that day the limit of spiritual confidence had been reached. But it was Phyllis's quicker nature which provided the natural return to the material life.

"I know I am enthusiastic, about many things, Elizabeth. The world is so full of what is good and beautiful! Look at those roses! Could flowers be more sweet and perfect? I always dream of happy things among roses."

"But you must not dream now, dear. It is very near dinner-time. We have had a very pleasant hour. I shall think of all you have said."

But the thing she thought most persistently of was Richard Fontaine's temper. Was it possible that the equable charm and serenity of his mood was only an assumed one? As she went to the dining-room she saw him standing in the great hall caressing two large hounds. In the same moment he raised his head and stood watching her approach. It seemed to him as if he had never seen her before. She advanced slowly toward him through the level rays of the westering sun, which projected themselves in a golden haze all around her. Those were not the days of flutings and bows and rufflings innumerable. Elizabeth's dress was a long, perfectly plain one, of white India mull. A narrow black belt confined it at the waist, a collar of rich lace and a brooch of gold at the throat. Her fair hair was dressed in a large loose bow on the crown, and lay in soft light curls upon her brow. Her feet were sandaled, her large white hands unjeweled and ungloved, and with one she lifted slightly her flowing dress. Resplendent with youth, beauty, and sunshine, she affected Richard as no woman had ever done before. She was the typical Saxon woman, the woman who had ruled the hearts and homes of his ancestors for centuries, and she now stirred his to its sweetest depths. He did not go to meet her. He would not lose a step of her progress. He felt that at last Jove was coming to visit him. It was a joy almost solemn in its intensity and expectation. He held out his hand, and Elizabeth took it. In that moment they saw each other's hearts as clearly as two drops of rain meeting in air might look into each other if they had life.

Yet they spoke only of the most trivial things-the dogs, and the weather, and Richard's ride to Leeds, and the stumbling of Antony's horse. "We left the Squire in the village," said Richard. "A woman who was apparently in very great trouble called him."

"A woman who lives in a cottage covered with clematis?"

"I think so."

"It must have been Martha Craven. I wonder what is the matter!" and they walked together to the open door. The squire had just alighted from his horse, and was talking earnestly to his favorite servant. He seemed to be in trouble, and he was not the man to keep either Sorrow of joy to himself. "Elizabeth! my word, but I'm bothered! Here's Jonathan Clough murdered, and Ben Craven under lock and key for it!"

"Why, father! Ben would never do a thing like that!"

"Not he! I'd be as like to do it mysen. Thou must go thy ways and see

Martha as soon as iver t' dinner is eat. I s'all stand by Martha and

Ben to t' varry last. Ben Craven murder any-body! Hee! I crack't out

laughing when I heard tell o' such nonsense."

In fact, the squire had been touched in a very tender spot. Martha Craven's mother had been his nurse, and Martha herself, for many years, his wife's maid and confidential servant. He felt the imputation as a personal slander. The Cravens had been faithful servants of the Hallams for generations, and Clough was comparatively a new-comer. Right or wrong, the squire would have been inclined to stand by an old friend, but he had not a doubt of Ben's innocence.

"What have you done about it?" asked Antony.

"I've been to see Israel Potter, and I've bound him to stand up for Ben. What Israel doesn't know 'bout law, and what Israel can't do with t' law, isn't worth t' knowing or t' doing. Then I went for t' Wesleyan minister to talk a bit wi' Martha, poor body? She seemed to want something o' t' kind; and I'm bound to say I found him a varry gentlemanly, sensible fellow. He didn't think owt wrong o' Ben, no more than I did."

"People would wonder to see you at the Wesleyan's door."

"May be they'll be more cap't yet, son Antony. I'll ask neither cat nor Christian what door to knock at. I wish I may nivver stand at a worse door than Mr. North's, that's a'. What say you to that, then?"

"I say you are quite right, father."

"I'm nivver far wrong, my lad; nobody is that lets a kind heart lead them, and it would be against nature if I didn't stand up for any Craven that's i' trouble."

Phyllis, who was sitting beside him, laid her hand upon his a moment, and he lifted his eyes and met hers. There was such a light and look of sympathy and admiration in them, that she had no need to say a word. He felt that he had done the right thing, and was pleased with himself for doing it. In a good man there is still a deal of the divinity from which he has fallen, and in his times of trial his heart throbs upward.

Dinner was insensibly hurried, and when Elizabeth rose Phyllis followed her. "I must go with you dear; if Martha is a Methodist she is my sister, and she has a right to my sympathy and my purse, if it is necessary to her."

"I shall be glad. It is only a pleasant walk through the park, and Antony and Richard can meet us at the park gates. I think you will like Martha."

Few words were spoken by the two girls as they went in the amber twilight across the green, green turf of the park. Martha saw them coming and was at her door when they stepped inside the fragrant patch which she called her garden. She was a woman very pleasant to look at, tall and straight, with a strong ruddy face-and blue eyes, a little dim with weeping. Her cotton dress of indigo blue, covered with golden-colored moons, was pinned well up at the back, displaying her home-knit stockings and low shoes fastened with brass latchets. She had on her head a cap of white linen, stiffly starched, and a checkered kerchief was pinned over her ample bosom.

Even in her deep sorrow and anxiety her broad sweet mouth could not forget its trick of smiling. "Come this ways in, Joy," she said to Elizabeth, at the same moment dropping a courtesy to Phyllis, an old-fashioned token of respect, which had no particle of servility in it.

"This is my cousin, Miss Fontaine, from America, Martha."

"Well, I'm sure I'm right suited at meeting her. Mother used to talk above a bit about Sibbald Hallam as crossed t' seas. She looked for him to come back again. But he nivver came."

"I am his granddaughter. I am very sorry, Sister Martha, to hear of your trouble."

"Why-a! Is ta a Methodist, dearie?"

Phyllis nodded brightly and took her hand.

"Well I nivver! But I'm fain and glad! And as for trouble, I'll not fear it. Why should I, wi' t' love o' God and t' love o' man to help me?"

"When did it happen, Martha?"

"Last night, Miss Hallam. My Ben and Jonathan Clough wern't as good friends as might be. There's a lass at t' bottom o' t' trouble; there's allays that. She's a good lass enough, but good 'uns mak' as much trouble as t' bad 'uns sometimes, I think. It's Jonathan's daughter, Mary. She's ta'en Ben's fancy, and she's ta'en Bill Laycock's fancy, too. T' lass likes my Ben, and Clough he liked Laycock; for Laycock is t' blacksmith now, and owns t' forge, and t' house behind it. My Ben is nobbut Clough's overlooker."

"It is a pity he stopped at Clough's mill, if there was ill-feeling between them."

"T' lad's none to blame for that. Clough is makkin' some new kind o' figured goods, and t' men are all hired by t' twelvemonth, and bound over to keep a quiet tongue i' their mouths about t' new looms as does t' work. Two days ago Clough found out that Tim Bingley hed told t' secret to Booth; and Clough wer' neither to hold nor bind. He put Bingley out o' t' mill, and wouldn't pay him t' balance o' t' year, and somehow he took t' notion that Ben was in t' affair. Ben's none so mean as that, I'm sure."

"But Bingley is a very bad man. My father sent him to the tread-mill last year for a brutal assault. He is quite capable of murder. Has no one looked for him?"

"Bingley says he saw my Ben shoot Clough, and Clough says it was Ben."

"Then Clough is still alive?"

"Ay, but he'll die ere morning. T' magistrates hev been wi' him, and he swears positive that Ben Craven shot him."

"Where was Ben last night?"

"He came from t' mill at six o'clock, and hed a cup o' tea wi' me. He said he'd go to t' chapel wi' me at eight o'clock; and after I hed washed up t' dishes, I went to sit wi' Sarah Fisher, who's bad off wi' t' fever; and when I came back Ben was standing at t' door, and folks wer' running here, and running there, and all t' village was fair beside itseln. We wer' just reading a bit in t' Bible, when constables knocked at t' door and said they wanted Ben. My heart sank into my shoes, Miss Hallam, and I said, 'That's a varry unlikely thing, lads; you're just talking for talking's sake.' And Jerry Oddy said, 'Nay, we bean't, dame; Jonathan Clough is dying, and he says Ben Craven shot him.' Then I said, 'He'll die wi' t' lie on his lips if he says that, thou tell him so.' And Jerry Oddy said, 'Not I, dame, keep a still tongue i' thy mouth, it'll mebbe be better for thee.'"

"Martha! How could you bear it?"

"I didn't think what I wer' bearing at t' time, Miss Hallam; I wer' just angry enough for any thing; and I wer' kind o' angry wi' Ben takkin' it so quiet like. 'Speak up for thysen, lad,' I said; 'hesn't ta got a tongue i' thy head to-neet?'"

"Poor Ben! What did he say?"

"He said, 'Thou be still, mother, and talk to none but God. I'm as innocent o' this sin as thou art;' and I said, 'I believe thee, my lad, and God go wi' thee, Ben.' There's one thing troubles me, Miss Hallam, and it bothered t' squire, too. Ben was in his Sunday clothes-that wasn't odd, for he was going to t' chapel wi' me-but Jerry noticed it, and he asked Ben where his overlooker's brat and cap was, and Ben said they wer' i' t' room; but they wern't there, Miss Hallam, and they hevn't found 'em either."

"That is strange."

"Ay, its varry queer, and t' constables seemed to think so. Jerry nivver liked Ben, and he said to me, 'Well, dame, it's a great pity that last o' t' Cravens should swing himsen to death on t' gallows.' But I told him, 'Don't thee be so sure that Ben's t' last o' t' Cravens: Thou's makkin' thy count without Providence, Jerry;' and I'm none feared," she added, with a burst of confidence; "I'll trust in God yet! I can't see him, but I can feel him."

"And you can hold fast to his hand, Sister Martha; and the darker it gets, you can cling the closer, until the daylight breaks and the shadows flee away."

"That I can, and that I will! Look there, my dearies!" and she pointed to a little blue and white tea-pot on the high mantle-shelf, above the hearth on which they were sitting. "Last night, when they'd taken Ben away, and I couldn't finish t' psalm and I couldn't do much more praying than a little bairn thet's flayed and troubled in t' dark night, I lifted my eyes to thet tea-pot, and I knew t' words thet was on it, and they wer' like an order and a promise a' in one; and I said, 'There! thet's enough, Lord!' and I went to my bed and slept, for I knew there 'ud be a deal to do to-day, and nothing weakens me like missing my sleep."

"And did you sleep, Martha?"

"Ay, I slept. It wasn't hard wi' t' promise I'd got."

Then Phyllis took a chair and stood upon it, and carefully lifted down the tea-pot. It was of coarse blue and white pottery, and had been made in Staffordshire, when the art was emerging from its rudeness, and when the people were half barbarous and wholly irreligious-one of half a dozen that are now worth more than if made of the rarest china, the Blue Wesley Tea-pot; rude little objects, yet formed by loving, reverential hands, to commemorate the apostolic labors of John Wesley in that almost savage district. His likeness was on one side, and on the other the words, so often in his mouth, "In God we trust." Phyllis looked at it reverently; even in that poor portraiture recognizing the leader of men, the dignity, the intelligence, and the serenity of a great soul. She put it slowly back, touching it with a kind of tender respect; and then the two girls went home. In the green aisles of the park the nightingales were singing, and the sweet strength of the stars and the magic of the moon touched each heart with a thoughtful melancholy. Richard and Antony joined them, and they talked softly of the tragedy, with eloquent pauses of silence between.

On the lowest terrace they found the squire-Fanny walking with quiet dignity beside him. He joined Elizabeth and Richard, and discussed with them the plans he had been forming for the unraveling of the mystery. He had thought of every thing, even to the amount of money necessary.

"Have they no relations?" asked Richard, a little curiously. It seemed to him that the squire's kindness was a trifle officious. However lowly families might be, he believed that in trouble a noble independence would make them draw together, just as birds that scatter wide in the sunshine nestle up to each other in storm and cold. So he asked, "Have they no relatives?"

"She has two brothers Ilkley way," said the squire, with a dubious smile. "I nivver reckoned much on them."

"Don't you think she ought to send for them?"

"Nay, I don't. You're young, Richard, lad, and you'll know more some day; but I'll tell you beforehand, if you iver hev a favor to ask, ask it of any body but a relation-you may go to fifty, and not find one at hes owt o' sort about 'em."

They talked for half an hour longer in a desultory fashion, as those talk who are full of thoughts they do not share; and when they parted Richard asked Elizabeth for a rose she had gathered as they walked home together. He asked it distinctly, the beaming glance of his dark eyes giving to the request a meaning she could not, and did not, mistake. Yet she laid it in his hand, and as their eyes met, he knew that as "there is a budding morrow in the midnight," so also there was a budding love in the rose-gift.

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