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CXCIV 

THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

•by 
M. BETHAM-EDWARDS 



PRESS NOTICES 

' A novel to be recommended to all readers of taste.' — 
The Times. 

'Simple and interesting — admirable opening scene.' — 
The Westminster Gazette. 

' Carries us along. The farm-house maids are delight- 
ful.' — The Daily Chronicle. 

' Farm life in the early Victorian epoch and the pictures 
of Suffolk scenes and field labour are prettily and softly 
touched in. So are the characters. A quaint and lively 
picture of a bygone time, yet one near enough to be partly 
familiar to some readers.' — The Athenaeum. 

' Toutes ces scenes de la vie de campagne dans le Suffolk 
d'autrefois sont rendues avec le sentiment tres juste et 
tres profond de la nature.' — La Bevue des Deux Mondes, 



M. BETHAM-EDWARDS 





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THE 
[LORD OF THE HARVEST 

BY 

M. BETHAM-EDWARDS 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION 
BY FREDERIC HARRISON 




HUMPHREY MILFORD 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

LONDON, EDINBURGH, GLASGOW 

NEW YORK, TORONTO, MELBOURNE & BOMBAY 



'The Lord of the Harvest^ was first published in 1899. 
In ' The World^s Classics ' it was first published in 1913. 



OXFORD : HOEACE HART 
PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY 



INTRODUCTION 

This delicious idyll is a home-made picture 
of East Anglia in the early days of Victoria, 
now some seventy years ago ; an age of corn 
tillage and high rents, of old-world farming, 
and quaint provincial life ; innocent of rail- 
roads, free trade, popular education, cheap 
press, and labourers' Unions. In those far-off 
days the squire was a local magnate indeed ; 
the parson, the justice, the beadle, the con- 
stable, each in his degree, held a semi-feudal 
authority, sanctioned by ancient custom ; and 
the Lord of the Harvest was a little king of the 
hour, ruhng over his village subjects. 

This tale, then, written by the doyenne of our 
English novelists, who was brought up in the 
very heart of this country-side, has an historic, 
even a social and political value, quite apart 
from its beauty as a poetic landscape of old 
England, quite beside the charm of its home- 
spun dialect, and along with its simple truth to 
nature and human life. These are the yeomen 
and the peasants whomGeOTge Crabbe knew 



vi INTRODUCTION 

and told us of in rather prosaic verse ; and 
I sometimes think I find more real poetry in 
the lady's simple prose than in the parson's 
somewhat halting couplets. In this little book 
there is not a sentence which rings monotonous 
or artificial ; all is racy of the soil ; a plam 
tale told by ' one who knows ', by one ' who 
was there then and saw it ' ; by one who knew 
these Elishas, Karrenheppuchs, and Ezekiels, 
and has made us know them. 

As I am myseK somewhat older than our 
authoress, and lived in a quiet country village 
as far away as the time of William IV, I have 
asked leave to express my admiration in re- 
reading this tale in a new form, to bear my 
testimony to its faithful picture of Old England 
in the ministries of Wellington and Peel ; 
before rural life was transformed by the railway 
system, imported corn, and the incalculable 
changes wrought by passing from country life 
to town life, from agriculture to manufactures, 
from a semi-feudal and provincial conservatism 
to an imperial, cosmopolitan, or at least, trans- 
atlantic democracy. 

This is not the place to enlarge on these 
crucial problems, nor am I at all the man to 
deal with them, at any rate whilst asking the 
reader to revel in what is a work of art, without 
a trace of ' purpose ' or ' problem ' in it. But 



INTRODUCTION vii 

it opens a fascinating vein of thought which 
can hardly fail to rise in the mind even of 
a youthful reader of romance, and must surely 
strike deep into the reflections of the more 
serious reader. Was England, say in 1843, 
a land less happy in a high sense, less great, 
less religious, less humane, than it is in 1913 ? 
We all know that the change was inevitable, 
has infinite sides, promises infinite compensa- 
tions in the future. I do not answer the problem ; 
I hope no reader of this tale will think of find- 
ing any answer to the problem, until he has 
drunk his fill of ' Bever ', has brought his 
harvest home to barn, has given Smiler his 
last feed of com, has spent the last penny 
of * Largess \ has seen Elisha Sage, Lord 
of the Harvest, installed in the HaU Farm 
after aU. 

Away then with politics, problems, and 
sociology ! Let us taste this harvest home- 
brew, and listen with all our ears to the har- 
vesters' japes, the ' nannicking with the maw- 
thers ', Karra's Bible objurgations and un- 
adorned rhymes, Amma's ' hudderen ' swains, 
and Smy's monkey tricks and Scriptural rail- 
ing even as Nabal railed on David the king. 
These people knew their Bibles, though very 
few of them could read, Church-goers or 
' meeteners ', all alike. There is a touch of 



viii INTRODUCTION 

Ruth about this tale — of Ruth, that idyll of old 
Israel ; there too was ' a servant who was set 
over the reapers ' by Boaz, a Lord of the 
Harvest in primitive Bethlehem-judah. There 
is, perhaps, a faint ray of Ruth, the Moabitess, 
in the foreign Aimee, who is mated at last with 
the master of these rich acres. 

The whole tale is redolent of Bible ways, and 
no doubt this is the basis of its perfect truth 
and simplicity. ' Talk of Sodom and Gomorrah,' 
cries little Smy, the bandy-legged, ' three- 
quarter ', ' baccus ' imp, 'they were a flea-bite 
to the like of you. Jezabel herself wouldn't 
sit down to tea with any such.' ' You brazen 
Gehazi,' hissed Miss 'Ria, ' well may you look 
as if you expected to be swallowed up like 
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, Elisha Sage 1 ' 
' You go to bed, I'll read a chapter of Nehemiah, 
first,' says Karra, to console her husband after 
a mishap. ' We've all of us a Sanballat to 
laugh us to scorn, I reckon, but the Lord will 
prosper His servants who desire to fear His 
name. Why, you haven't taken off your high- 
lows ! ' Then ' Karra brought out the family 
Bible, a quarto printed in great primer, having 
full -page illustrations. Her eyesight was not 
over good, but she hardly needed a farthing 
dip, so at home was she with the cupbearer's 
beautiful story'. The Bible was the only 



INTRODUCTION ix 

literature known to East Anglian peasants in 
those pre-schooldays, days of the paper-duty, 
and thirty-shilling novels for the ' quality '. 

The story, again, is rich in what it is 
the fashion to caU ' atmosphere '. South-east 
Suffolk of the Stour and the Orwell is not 
a country that smiles on us ' Shiremen ' — (they 
who dwell west of a line drawn from the Wash 
to Southampton Water are Shiremen, to those 
who dwell in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Middlesex, 
Kent, Sussex, and Surrey) — ^but even we of the 
Shires must admit the charm of the great 
Anghan corn-lands. These farmers and har- 
vesters love it, and it is painted with patriotic 
glow by our East Anglian authoress. 

Elisha's drift was a perpetual glory [a 
drift is a field lane with hedge and trees]. 
When spring came its banks were covered 
with purple and white violets — ^none to gather 
them, — later on every bit of hedge bemg 
garlanded with wild rose, honeysuckle, and 
traveller's joy. All the year round, whether 
clothed in richest foliage or in wintry white, 
its veteran oaks and elms made a beautiful 
show, throughout the summer-time tenanted 
by myriads of singing birds. The paramount 
charm of the drift was a solitude sometimes 
unbroken throughout the entire day. 

Master Sage, for a shilling a week, rented an 
ancient cottage with large brick-floored kitchen, 



X INTRODUCTION 

from which a rude wooden stair led to two 
bed-chambers. His garden had some fine old 
fruit trees and flowers adorning the front 
path. 

Here flourished 'Welcome home, husband, 
tho' never so drunk ' — as, nobody Iniows why, 
country folks always called the yellow stone - 
crop — 'granny's night-cap', or monk's-hood, 
sweetwilliams, picotees in abundance, with 
lavender and rosemary for sweetening bed- 
Hnen, a few pot-herbs, arid rue to drive away 
fleas. 

These hard-working sons of the soil had scant 
leisure to admire scenery — but the calm of even- 
ing, or the call of love, would give it a new 
meaning. Edward Flindell, the solid farmer of 
the harvest, has told his tenderness and hopes 
to the dainty governess of the rector's children. 
Love became to him an education in beauty. 

He now took heed of everything, rosy 
cloudlet, bloomy blackberry, oak leaf tingling 
with last sun -ray, little caressing lay of red- 
breast, social twitter of ground-lark above the 
sweet-smelling turnips. Sights and sounds 
familiar to him from childhood were for the 
first time realized. 

And as the book ends, and all the worthy 
ones are left m happiness, and the gentle trials 
of youth and girl, of labourer and lady, brought 



INTRODUCTION xi 

to a close, a brooding peace succeeds to the 
husbandman's jubilee. 

As a soft purple cloud, myriads of tiny 
blossoms coloured the fallow, wild thyme, 
peppermint, and minute heartsease ; these 
last, so many little cheering eyes invoking 
hope and dreams of merry springtide. 

Of course the tale is full of rustic proverbs 
and quaint phrases, that recall to us Mrs. 
Poyser and Silas Marner. The Hall Farm is 
choice — ' you might ride a black mare white ' 
before lighting on such another. The lucky 
farmer of it prospered ; but he did not ' eat 
five-pound notes between his bread and butter '. 
The housekeeper at the farm wonders how 
' farmers can keep so much as a cat since 
Bobby Peel, the old scoundrel, abolished hang- 
ing for sheep-stealing '. The head horseman's 
wife will never believe that her ' 'Lishy would 
be tempted of Satan ' to steal barley. He loved 
his favourite plough-horse — ' he had made a 
graven image ' of his pet Smiler. 

Naturally, too, the tale is spiced with East- 
Anglicisms, which the young reader will miss, 
as his way is, and which will send the thoughtful 
reader to his Dialect Dictionary. I note that 
very many of these locutions, so mysterious to 
us of the Shires, are to be foimd in Shakespeare, 
and are stiU heard in Long Island, New York, 



xii INTRODUCTION 

U.S.A. * Mawthers ' are ' asked in Church ' 
— or else go off ' to the Shires ' in service. Cut 
wheat falls on the ' stover '. A girl ' fleets ' the 
milk, and when it rains, ' roars in the clothes ' 
off the line. A lad climbing is as ' safe as 
a tomtit on a laylock bough '. A ' pitman pig ' 
is nearly choked in a ' pightle-gate '. The lanes 
are ' good tightly rough '. ' Weddeners ' to-day 
throng at society weddings, but they are not 
so described in the Morning Post ; and ' meet- 
eners ' are still to the fore in country parishes, 
but they do not claim the title themselves. In 
the Shires we do not call a month a ' moon ' ; 
and I am at a loss to explain 'put on farins^', 
unless it means soft words. 

The tale has within it a pretty bit of love- 
making between a plain and generous farmer 
and a dainty but penniless girl of breeding and 
culture. But the essence of the story concerns 
the labouring men in the first half of the last 
century, ' when Queen Victoria was a maiden ', 
and harvest was ruled by its ' Lord '. EHsha's 
pride in his work, his love for his plough-land, 
his affection for his beautiful horse, colours the 
whole book. It begins and ends with his daily 
routine — in ' stacking the haulm ', in ' a-carting 
muck ', in a loud sob as he parts from his 
Smiler for ever. There are few ' head horse- 
^ East Anglian for 'behaviours'. — M. B.-E. 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

men' now, fewer harvesters, and far fewer 
corn -farmers left — almost no Smilers at all. 
American machines and steam ploughs do it 
all. It was a breezy cheery world once ! 

How jocmid did they drive their team 

afield 1 
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy 

stroke ! 

FREDERIC HARRISON. 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 




PAGE 


I. 


Bever 


1 


II. 


The Muse of the Drift 


. 11 


III. 


Miss 'Ria 


. 23 


IV. 


The Drive to Market 


. 33 


V. 


A Flirtation by Rushlight 


. 46 


VI. 


The Old Hundredth . 


. 56 


VII. 


Shakespeare and the Musical Glasse 


3 65 


VIII. 


Among the Hen-Coops 


78 


IX. 


The Last Waggon 


86 


X. 


A Midnight Summons . 


. 105 


XI. 


The Stolen Barley . 


112 


XII. 


At the Turnpike Gate 


127 


XIII. 


Drawing the Stetches 


137 


XIV. 


' Never, no More ' . . . 


145 


XV. 


Two Sides to a Question . 


154 


XVI. 


Market Day .... 


168 


XVII. 


Mrs. Karra opens an Abyss 


179 


XVIII. 


A Rustic Paladin 


188 


XIX. 


Halloo Largess . . . . 


198 


XX. 


Halloo Largess — (continued) 


213 


XXI. 


The Cutting of the Gordian Knot . 


227 


XXII. 


Conclusion 


234 



THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

CHAPTER I 

BEVER 

No inglorious son of Adam was this leader of 
men, although his title depended neither on 
parchment nor escutcheon, and his dignities 
lasted for one moon only. But such lordship 
was self -earned, and therefore all the more to 
be revelled in ; it was authoritative, a tribunal 
beyond appeal. This Suffolk usage dating from 
the olden time recalled Homeric story ; just 
as the strong, the wise, and the bold obtained 
a crown in legend and romance, so, when Queen 
Victoria was a maiden, harvestmen of East 
Anglia chose for their chief the best among 
them. Greater honour could befall none. For 
a brief space and over a circumscribed area the 
Lord of the Harvest reigned supreme. The first 
magistrate of London uttered no weightier yea 
or nay. On his shoulders rested the order and 
conduct of the cornfield. Did any hireling 
break rules, shirk his duty, or abuse the beer-can, 

194 ^ 



2 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

he was summarily sent about his business. 
Bad language, brawls, unseemly behaviour when 
women-folk were about, he must keep in check 
and punish : no easy task when a quick harvest- 
ing was imperative, and soldiers, pedlars, and 
even gipsies, had to be hired at a pinch. 

Elisha Sage, Master Sage as he was called by 
his employers, the title of Mister being reserved 
for farmers and tradesmen, stood five feet eleven 
inches in his well-greased high-lows. He pos- 
sessed the brawny limbs of the able-bodied man, 
of him who could shoulder a coomb of corn and 
claim his full ten shillings a week. Heavy- 
faced, dull-eyed, no one would guess that he 
carried off kettle after kettle at the yearly 
ploughing match, and although unable to read 
or write, was first-rate at reckoning up. Elisha 's 
career as a son of the soil had begun forty years 
before. From rook-scaring and stone -picking, 
when barely breeched, to the position of head 
horseman, was certainly a stride, but a stride 
that meant the same routine. To sow and to 
reap for others was he born, the poor-house 
would shelter his old age, for thus seemed it 
good to the Almighty. 

Harvest evoked a jovial mood, and even the 
stolid Elisha felt himself at a kind of fete. His 
white teeth now gleamed, his eyes very nearly 



BEVER 3 

sparkled as he suddenly threw down his sickle, 
sprang to his feet, and, glancing along the line 
of serried reapers, shouted : 

' Halt for bever ! ' 

' Yes, my lord.' 

With the utmost alacrity one and all gave the 
same response, and followed their lord's example. 
Rhythmically the shining sickles fell to the 
ground, and rhythmically the blowsed sweated 
harvesters rose to their full height, filing off 
towards the nearest hedge. 

It was just upon four o'clock in the afternoon ; 
no need for Elisha to take out his ponderous 
old watch, he could tell that by the sun ; time 
therefore had come for the collation of harvest 
cake and beer called by its name derived from 
the French. 

The motley group squatted down, half a 
dozen strangers being easily distinguishable 
from the village folk. Alike garb and physiog- 
nomy proclaimed the shiremen, or those who 
had come from the shires, a term including 
newcomers generally. This geographical desig- 
nation was vague, but the simplest understood 
by it one thing, namely, that the shires lay 
beyond London. 

A hundred yards off, in broad-brimmed straw 
hat and shirt sleeves, the farmer was shocking 
B 2 



4 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

his sheaves. Without a word he now took up 
his grey frock coat and set off in the direction 
of a low tiled roof, nestled amid apple trees 
close by, as he went every eye watching him 
impatiently. A few minutes later and the 
oddest little figure imaginable was seen along- 
side the uncut corn, his appearance, or rather 
that of an enormous can of beer on his arm, 
being the signal for a wild outburst of hilarity. 
The battered old soldier threw up his cap and 
shouted, ' God save the Queen ', the pedlar 
performed a wonderful pantomimic feat with 
the leg, the sheep-shearer, a lank veteran 
renowned for his wit, put on the simper of 
a love -sick maiden, and blew the grotesque little 
Ganymede a kiss, the three shiremen whistled 
a bucolic air, only Elisha and his neighbours 
remained passive. They wiped their steaming 
brows, and turned to their frails or flat baskets, 
getting out drinking-horn and harvest cake. 

' Come, my lord,' cried old Nat, the sheep- 
shearer, ' just hasten yonder smart little chap, 
will you, or we shall be kept dry here till night. 
Don't you see how he lags behind, hoping that 
your Amma will overtake him. He is always 
thinking of the mawthers, and no wonder, for 
they won't let him alone, the beauty that 
he is.' 



BEVER 5 

There was no intended disrespect in the word : 
mawthers, in local phraseology, standing for 
girls or maidens; nor were Nat's personalities 
meant ill-naturedly. And heartily did the object 
of them join in the general laugh. Little Smy, 
as the undersized, crooked, monkey-faced man 
was called, knew his comrades too well to take 
their jokes amiss. They might get entertain- 
ment out of him, but he got something more to 
the purpose out of them ; in harvest time, with 
the able-bodied, he fared sumptuously, through- 
out the winter he was welcome at the poorest 
board. 

' I'd 'ammer your skull if I had a muck-fork 
handy,' growled the little man, setting down 
his heavy can. Smy prided himself upon choice 
invective ; those big lubberly chaps might rail 
at his bandy legs, apology for a nose, and 
dwarfish size ; with the tongue he was more 
than their match. ' Talk of Sodom and Go- 
morrah,' he muttered, ' they were a fleabite to 
the like of you. Jezebel herself wouldn't sit 
down to tea with any such. Amma indeed ! 
I want no Ammas, and Ammas don't want me 
that I know on. But come now, 'Lishy, don't 
keep me waiting till wheat-sowing. I'm wanted 
yonder.' 

Smy being barely a three-quarter man, and 



6 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

therefore not eligible as a reaper, owed no 
allegiance to the Lord of the Harvest, at other 
times known as 'Lishy. Hence the familiarity. 

The doling out of the strong, sweet, sparkling 
old home-brewed now began, each man making 
a pantomimic show of ecstasy as his especial 
horn was filled. The large wheatfield must be 
reaped ere nightfall, and extra hours were 
always feted in this way. When the can of 
* old harvest ' was caught sight of the men 
knew what the farmer expected. 

Paying no attention to the jokes of the others, 
little Smy sipped his draught, then, wiping his 
mouth on his sleeve, limped away, ejaculating 
to himself. The jesters might shout and give 
way to uproarious mirth at his expense, he 
never so much as turned his head, the super- 
lative qualities of the beer driving out every 
other thought. At every step he formed a new 
interjection, some fresh term of approval. 

As to the harvestmen, faces grew ruddier, 
tongues became more loquacious, but, wonder- 
ful as it seemed, none got drunk. Each with 
infinite content munched his hunk of harvest 
cake, that excellent dough-cake, well sugared, 
spiced and sprinkled with currants, made in the 
shape of small loaves, and never seen except 
during this season. 



BEVER 7 

The one sober, silent figure present was Elisha 
Sage. He was naturally a pallid man, and 
although gaunt of limb and muscularly strong, 
not particularly robust. Truth to tell, like his 
wife, he was afflicted with a delicate stomach, 
and being unable to digest the usual plough- 
man's fare, fat salted pork and flour and water 
dumplings, lived mainly on bread and cheese. 

Naturally, also, a man of few words, to-day 
he said less than usual. He was evidently 
brooding, his thoughts far from this hilarious 
scene. 

' You don't look as if master's old beer made 
your very big toe tingle,' said Nat, the sheep- 
shearer, turning to his chief. ' Why, my lord, 
what matters the Hall Farm to you ? Farmer 
Betts may be dead now, or live as long as 
Methuselah, you won't get the offer of his lease, 
I'm thinking.' 

There was a general laugh, which Elisha took 
very quietly. 

' And you won't get the half-crown offered to 
the first man who minds his own business,' he 
replied, dipping his head into the drinking-horn 
and taking a long draught. 

' Well,' continued the irrepressible sheep- 
shearer, ' what Teddie yonder is a thinking on 
morning, noon, and night we all know well 



8 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

enough, and what Mrs. Betsey is a'thinking on 
we needn't scratch our polls about either. I'll 
lay, the widow gets the lease, women-folks some- 
how always circumvent us men.' 

The persons alluded to were Mr. Edward 
Flindell, tenant farmer, owning this wheat crop, 
and Mrs. Elizabeth Askew, his neighbour, also 
a tenant farmer, and on the same scale. With- 
out intending disrespect country folks thus 
familiarly called their employers. 

Elisha's face had grown sombre as he listened. 
Nat's speech evidently displeased him. 

' It 's not for you to say who will get the 
lease, nor for me either,' he made somewhat 
surly reply. ' Nobody is dead at the Hall Farm 
that we know on, and I call it downright wicked 
to put fellow-beings into their coffins afore their 
time.' 

Nat affected a ludicrous air of penitence. 

' See if my lord don't put on a white choker 
and take to preaching o' Sundaj^s,' cried the 
wag; ' if so, I'm blowed if I don't turn meetener.' 

' The meeting-house mightn't do you much 
good, it wouldn't harm you leastways,' Elisha 
replied. Then leal to duty as the hand of 
a clock, the Lord of the Harvest slowly rose, 
the word of command was given, and mechan- 
ically each reaper fell into his place. 



BEVER 9 

What a scene was that cornfield under the 
hot August sky ! Fiery red glowed the faces 
of the harvestmen, against the golden back- 
ground, a sea of waving wheat, the famed 
ruddy-hued wheat of Talavera. Not a cloud 
obscured the burning blue heavens, whilst 
beyond the standing corn showed here and there 
a bit of foliage, lofty hedge starred with wild 
roses or low pollard oaks of deep rich green. 

As the afternoon drew on, the sultriness 
increased, and such brilliant contrasts of colour 
grew more intense. Southern warmth and 
gorgeousness seemed to invest the Suffolk 
harvest field. But the bucolic mood of the 
reapers had passed. Whilst the sickles moved 
automatically backwards and forwards, not 
a word passed their lips, a regiment of deaf- 
mutes were hardly quieter. From time to time, 
at a signal of the leader, each stood up, wiped 
his brow, shook himself, took a draught of beer, 
interchanged a word with his fellow, then 
resumed work vigorously as before. 

The sun sank behind the pollard oaks and 
twilight succeeded, hardly bringing coolness. 
A little later, although no breeze sprang up, 
pleasant freshness lightened their labours ; 
another and yet another drink from the master's 
can lent new strength ; long after moon-rising. 



10 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

that mechanical swing of forty arms, that 
gleam of twenty sickles went on. Deep, almost 
solemn silence reigned over the cornfield. Only 
the rustle of footsteps and wheat falling on the 
stover broke the stillness, a stillness and 
monotony emblematic of these noiseless, un- 
heroic lives, the tide of human existence that 
perpetually ebbs and flows, leaving no memory 
behind. 



CHAPTER II 

THE MUSE OF THE DRIFT 

Sepabated from the harvest field by a mile 
of undulating meadow stood Elisha's house, 
known as the cottage in the Drift. An enclosed 
lane or cart-way leading from field to field is — 
or was — always thus called in Suffolk. Elisha's 
'Drift was a perpetual glory. When spring came, 
its banks were covered with purple and white 
violets — none to gather them ; — slater on every 
bit of hedge being garlanded with traveller's 
joy, wild rose, and honeysuckle. All the year 
round, whether clothed with richest foliage or 
in wintry white, its veteran oaks and elms made 
a beautiful show, throughout the summer-time 
tenanted by myriads of singing birds. The 
paramount charm of the Drift was a sohtude 
sometimes unbroken throughout the entire day. 
Cattle were driven this way, occasionally a 
turnip-cart or waggon passed, and at morn and 
eve one or two farming folks traversed the lane, 
that was all. Few such solitudes existed here- 
abouts even so long ago. 

Master Sage had little to complain of in the 



12 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

matter of house-room and garden. For a shilling 
a week he rented an ancient cottage with large 
brick-fioored kitchen, from which a rude 
wooden stair led to two bed-chambers. The 
garden possessed some fine old apple trees, 
a row of veteran gooseberry bushes, potato and 
pumpkin beds, flowers adorning the front path. 
Here flourished ' Welcome home, husband, tho' 
never so drunk ' — as, nobody knows why, 
countryfolks always called the yellow stonecrop, 
— 'granny's night-cap' or monk's-hood, sweet- 
williams, picotees in abundance, with lavender 
and rosemary for sweetening bed-linen, a few 
pot-herbs, and rue to drive away fleas. 

A pallid woman in neat lilac sunbonnet and 
well-patched cotton gown sat on the doorstep 
sewing ; from time to time she glanced towards 
the gate, as she did so her expression changing 
from gentleness to indignation. It was a mild, 
pathetic, and even refined face under that 
flapping sunbonnet. Not a trace of coarseness 
marred the large, sallow features, and not all 
her privations at home nor her labours afield 
had imparted a hard, rustic look. This poor 
woman, like many another, was the victim of 
local diet, that perpetual fare of fat salted pork, 
only found digestible by the strongest. A daily 
bit of scraggy mutton was her ideal of worldly 



THE MUSE OF THE DRIFT 13 

good, her highest conception of material enjoy- 
ment. 

She had compensations. Natm-e, in denying 
a somid digestion, had endowed her with some- 
thing much rarer, the poetic faculty. Karren- 
heppuch Sage was a poet. She could not write, 
but she could put her verses together for the 
more accomplished to transcribe. And she 
could read ; the Bible, the Pilgrim's Progress, 
and City of Mansoul, the Dairy Man's Daughter, 
the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain, Coelehs in 
Search of a Wife, the Cottagers of Glenburnie, 
and Baxter's Saints' Best, forming her library. 

On this sweet summer evening, as she sat 
sewing her gleaning-poke or large pocketed 
apron, the meditative glow on her face suddenly 
changed to rising wrath. 

A click of the garden gate, the appearance of 
a slender girl's figure, and youthful copy of her 
own features, in white sunbonnet, had wrought 
the transformation. 

' It 's a pity you didn't stay away altogether, 
I think,' began the mother reproachfully ; 
' days and days ago I sent for you. Ah ! 
Amma, were your poor sister Delphie alive and 
well I should have some comfort inmymawthers.' 

Amma, as Emma was pronounced in those 
parts, had unfortunately survived a more 



14 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

promising sister, Philadelphia, a girl of much 
winningness and promise. The loss of that 
fourteen-year-old idol had wellnigh broken 
Karra's heart and wrecked her intellect. She 
could not help it, she said, but neither Amma 
nor her brothers, Nehemiah and Isaiah, must 
ever expect to be loved like Delphie. 

' The butter wouldn't come ; it 's not my 
fault, mother,' Amma replied very complacently 
— she was used to these maternal ratings — ' and 
yesterday and the day afore we were busy 
a'washing.' Then, with a look that said, ' Have 
your say and have done', the young woman 
squatted down and began to munch a green 
apple. 

* Amma,' said her mother, fixing on the girl 
her large, light grey, ever tearful eyes, ' who 
rode home from Ipswich last Saturday week in 
the miller's cart, and got out with the mark of 
a floury arm around her waist ? 'Tis well you 
had on your dark shawl, madam, or such 
'havious would be unbeknown to me perhaps 
till too late.' 

' Was I going to maul myself in the boiling 
sun for three miles when offered a lift ? ' 
Amma retorted, * and if I got some flour on 
my shawl, what else could you expect in a 
miller's cart ? ' 



THE MUSE OF THE DRIFT 15 

' Such farings lead to — you know what,' was 
the severe reply. ' Remember Martha Smith 
and the poor fatherless child she brought into 
the world — remember Ann Birch.' 

' Don't talk to me of Martha Smith and Ann 
Birch,' exclaimed Amma in high dudgeon ; 
' thanks to the Almighty I have not disgraced 
myself up till now, nor shall I in time to come.' 

' Do you suppose that the Almighty troubles 
Himself about silly mawthers like you ? ' Karra 
went on. * He has that old serpent which is the 
Devil to look after ; but I'm your mother, and 
married at church, and if you don't go and do 
likewise, you know what to expect.' 

A positively vicious look came into Karra 's 
usually mild face, and she shook her fist at her 
daughter menacingly. 

* A good horse -whipping and out you would 
have to turn, no mercy must you count on from 
me or your father. To think of nannicking' 
(fooling) 'with a miller's son.' 

* I tell you I wasn't a' nannicking, mother ; 
who 's been impinging my modesty, I should 
very much like to know ? ' Amma had the 
maternal trick of picking up fine words. 

' If letting a fellow, and him a mere hudderen ' 
(hobbledehoy), * put his arm round your waist 
isn't a' nannicking, what is ? ' Karra continued, 



16 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

' Never mind how I heard on't, and I shall hear 
of anything else that goes on, you won't baffle 
me, and remember Tat Turtle may give you 
a lift in his father's cart, he won't take such as 
you to church, he'll look higher.' 

All this time Karra had no idea of what was 
going on in the girl's mind. Amma did not 
flinch from that sharp maternal gaze, her own 
face remaining wholly unreadable. Plain she 
undoubtedly was, but a certain pallor and 
plaintiveness, recalHng her mother, lent some- 
thing that the neighbours took to be gentility 
and something more. Unlike Karra, she had 
dark hair and eyes expressive of patient resolve 
and immense self-possession, even subtlety of 
character. 

' Tat Turtle may look as high as he likes for all 
me,' she replied in her provoking passionless 
tone. ' So, mother, if that 's all you have to 
say, I'll be off. We've been a' churning all day ; 
the butter, as I've just told you, wouldn't come, 
and Miss 'Ria is as cross as two sticks. I'll tell 
you what it is, I can't bide her any longer ; at 
Michaelmas I shall better myself.' 

' Think on what I say any ways,' Karra said. 
' You're my only comfort now, Amma, if com- 
fort you are, and think of poor Delphie, that 
blessed lamb in Heaven.' 



THE MUSE OF THE DRIFT 17 

Amma tied her cotton bonnet -strings, her 
thin red fingers twitching nervously. She in- 
wardly reproached herself for the feeling but could 
not overcome it. The very name of this dead 
sister, ever flung at her as a reproach, aroused 
bitterness and rebellion. It was ' Delphie 
this, Delphie that,' year in and year out. 

' It isn't my fault that I am not a blessed 
lamb in Heaven also,' she replied with as much 
warmth as she was capable of. ' You wouldn't 
have me go and drown myself, I suppose ? ' 

' Amma, will you mock your own mother ? ' 

' I'm not a' mocking you, but such harpings 
on poor Delphie are more than flesh and blood 
can stand. Well, good night, mother, I must 
be off to fleet the milk.' She had reached the 
little wooden gate when Karra called her back, 

' Have you heard any news of the Hall 
Farm ? ' she asked. 

' I've seen neither feather nor bone of any one 
from the Hall,' was the curt reply, whereupon 
the white cotton sunbonnet disappeared behind 
the trees. Her mother sewed and mused. 

Just over against the cottage, crowning glory 
of the Drift, stood a magnificent old elm. Karra 
never tired of gazing at that ancient tree. Un- 
like her neighbours she was of a reflective turn 
and loved Nature. Every one cultivated 

194 



18 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

flowers, the poorest thatched cabin had its 
roses, daffy-down-dillies, and sweet-williams, 
but these were regarded rather as so much 
furniture than ideal wealth. Of beauty in the 
abstract, beauty as a consolation, only Karra 
had an inkling. 

She could not join the stone -pickers' gang or 
go a' weeding, on accoimt of feeble health, and 
in her long hours of soUtude the tree had become 
a companion, almost a fetish. Had Karra 
learned the elementary laws of composition she 
might have turned her artless rhymes into 
poetry. Thus ran two verses on the old elm : — 

Indeed it is a very fine tree, 

And its dress is a beautiful green, 
When the autumn winds blow, its dress will lie low. 

There'll scarce be a piece to be seen. 
At Christmas most likely we'll see the old tree 

Dressed up all in silvery white. 
And although the cold snow is pinching to bear. 

It's a grand and beautiful sight. 

Rhyming and meditation did not interfere 
with housewifely tasks. As folks said, you could 
eat off her brick floor, the deal flour-hutch was 
white as snow, tin kettles, her husband's prizes 
at the ploughing match, and saucepans shone 
bright as silver. Carpets, sofas, and works of 
art had not yet found their way to cottage 
homes, but on a little side table covered with 



THE MUSE OF THE DRIFT 19 

bright-patterned oilcloth lay the family Bible, 
half a dozen books, a pair of ornamental china 
candlesticks with snuffers and tray, and lacquered 
tea-caddy. Over the high fireplace with dog- 
irons and enormous chimney hung a sampler 
and two little prints representing bucoUc scenes, 
in black wooden frames ; an old-fashioned 
clock, deal table, and six wooden chairs, com- 
pleted the furniture ; leading out of the kitchen 
w^as a small back-house, or scullery, with copper 
and bake-oven. 

At other times of the year, Elisha's dinner 
hour was three o'clock in the afternoon, when 
all ploughmen returned from the field ; during 
harvest the order of things was reversed. Men, 
as well as masters, now dined at midday, bever 
being taken abroad, and supper as occasion 
served. More changed was the meal than the 
meal-time. Instead of salt pork and hard 
dumpling, the big boiler hanging from the 
spirket now contained a bit of beef and a plum- 
pudding. As Karra laid the cloth she brought 
out, not the usual flet cheese, i.e. Suffolk cheese 
made of skimmed or fleeted milk, but a piece of 
genuine Derby. 

Complacently the Muse of the Drift made 
all things in readiness for her good man, then 
again took up the gleaning-poke. 
c 2 



20 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

This was a large wide apron of coarse whitey 
brown calico, prepared expressly for the harvest 
field, the hem being turned up so as to form an 
enormous pocket. Karra's mild watery blue 
eyes beamed with satisfaction as she contem- 
plated her handiwork. Gleaning corn meant 
the for.tim.e of the year, golden windfall of the 
poorest. There are gleaners and gleaners, and 
none could fill a poke quicker than Karra. 
To her, gleaning corn was not the mere vulgar 
filling of children's bellies, it implied the luxury 
and distinction of a doctor's bill. Ever an in- 
valid, ever proud, Karra held aloof from the 
over-worked parish doctor. Seven miles she 
tramped across country to consult the best 
esteemed medical man in the neighbourhood, 
and seven miles more to pay his bill with the 
proceeds of her gleaning, that is to say, the 
com was taken to the windmill, duly ground 
and weighed, then its money value deducted 
week by week from Elisha's wages. Karra 
prided herself hardly less upon her ailments 
and what they cost, than upon her poetic 
faculty. We have all our little weaknesses, and 
even a poor digestion under certain circum- 
stances may become a title of honour. 

It was dusk when Elisha entered, the pair 
sitting down to supper by a farthing rushlight. 



THE MUSE OF THE DRIFT 21 

Karra sipped a cup of tea and ate daintily. The 
Lord of the Harvest fell to with right goodwill. 

* Our mawther has been here, and I gave it to 
her pretty well,' began the wife. ' To think of 
her a' ridin' on the Queen's highway with 
a man's arm round her waist, and him a miller 
white from the mill ! ' 

Elisha's thoughts were evidently elsewhere. 

' Any news from the Hall ? ' he asked. 

' Not that I knows on, a pretty thing, 'Lishy, 
if so be that master does get the Hall Farm and 
our Amma should meanwhile run after Tat 
Turtle and have a misfortune ! You wouldn't 
be head-man long, I'm thinking. Well, Amma 
knows what to expect from me if she disgraces 
herself. Skinning alive would be nothing to it. 
I'm not a holy woman, but a good living one, 
and I've tried to bring up my children respect- 
able, though I don't take them to see folks 
hanged, as Mrs. Warner does her mawthers, 
my inside wouldn't stand it.' 

Elisha was slow in replying. Women ever 
had the best of the argument hereabouts. The 
last word and the spending of the weeks' wages 
were tacitly acknowledged as feminine privilege. 

' If master don't get the farm and Mrs. Askew 
do, Jerry Hammond and his wife will crow over 
us finely, for in course he'll be her head-man.' 



; 

1 
I' 


1 


i 1 II III 



CHAPTER III 

MISS 'RIA 

Mr. Edward Flindell, Elisha's master, was 
a bachelor of forty, farming a hundred and sixty 
acres at a corn-rent ; that is to say, when prices 
went down he suffered little, but when prices 
ran up he did not, in local phrase, eat five-pound 
notes between his bread and butter. Bad times 
but moderately affected him, by good times he 
profited less than his neighbours. Farmers 
made money at this period, and the lease of a 
good holding was then as difficult to get as a seat 
in Parliament, perhaps more so. Just as a con- 
stituency is nursed long before a seat becomes 
vacant, every available expedient being resorted 
to by the rival candidates, so leases would be 
watched for, strategically striven after, awaited 
with a persistence and diplomacy often grimly 
humorous or pathetic. 

The Hall Farm of Burridge, the Hall, as folks 
usually called it, was by far the most desirable 
occupation in that part of Suffolk. You might 
ride a black mare white, so folks said, before 
lighting on such another, three hundred acres 



24 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

of good mixed soil, plenty of meadow-land, few 
trees in the fields, a fine old manor-house to 
live in, excellent premises, and only three miles 
from market with one toll-bar on the way. 

Now Mr. Flindell came of first-rate farming 
stock, which was an immense recommendation 
to landowners. His brothers, like their sire and 
grandsire before them, were all what was called 
substantial men, well known for their clean 
farming, fat bullocks and sheep, and impregnable 
respectability. They went to church, voted 
Tory, above all, could show a full stack-yard 
till the following haysel, or hay harvest — un- 
doubted sign of first-rate management and solid 
means. To thresh out within a few months of 
harvest had an unprosperous look. But among 
the numerous applicants for Burridge Hall, 
Edward Flindell knew that he had at least one 
redoubtable rival, that rival a woman. Women 
farmers were pretty numerous in the county. 
Any landlord who should deny the renewal of 
a lease to widow, daughters, or even sisters, of 
an irreproachable tenant would have dubbed 
himself a churl. When a farmer died without 
male issue, the lease, like the crown of England, 
passed as a matter of course to the female line. 
This rival, by name Mrs. Betsey Askew, had 
unusual claims also on the Honourable Captain 



MISS 'RIA 25 

de Medue, a retired officer, one of the largest 
landowners in the county, whose hobby it was 
to have as many women tenants as possible. 
For this predilection he gave reasons eccentric 
enough. Women could not go to the poll, 
he used to say, and he objected to political 
farmers, they might or might not vote with 
him, but when precluded from voting at all, 
there was an end of the matter. 

Again, Widow Askew came not only of sub- 
stantial but of moneyed stock. 

' My last cow has calved,' she had lately said, 
alluding to the handsome legacy of a rich old 
uncle ; the Captain knew well enough that if she 
had no more expectations she was already in a 
position to farm high and he liked tenants who 
farmed high. 

Thinking of these things and weighing his 
chances, the farmer quitted the harvest field. 
Crossing a pightle, or enclosed meadow, he 
reached his home, an ordinary farmhouse of 
the humbler kind, red-tiled, with white -washed 
walls. In front, a small flower and fruit garden 
led to a well-stocked orchard, at the back were 
barn, granary, neat-house, fowl-houses, and 
farmyard. Like many another in these parts 
Walnut Tree Farm had no direct communication 
with the outer world. Elisha's Drift and a 



26 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

parallel cart-way led to the high-road a mile 
and a half away. With many another Walnut 
Tree Farm possessed only one attraction, that 
indescribable unspoiled as yet aspect of old- 
world rustic England. All was not idyllic, 
but the poetry of a fast vanishing epoch and 
condition were here. No railway had reached 
the ear of its youngest inhabitant. The sound 
of the flail still echoed on the threshing-floor. 
The tinder-box stood beside the housewife's bed. 
In his best corduroys the labourer set off to 
church or meeting-house. 

Quietly as a mouse Mr. Flindell unlatched the 
scullery door, a sharp snappish voice calling 
from within : 

* I hope you are wiping your shoes ? ' 

Scrape, scrape, went the master's high-lows on 
the rude iron scraper, rub, rub, on the straw 
mat. 

' I haven't been carting muck that I know of,' 
he replied, meekly ironic. 

Mr. Flindell was not without a touch of 
humour (few Suffolkers are), but he stood some- 
what in awe of his housekeeper and was con- 
stantly restraining himself. 

' Muck or no muck, Mr. Flindell, there are 
no carpets abroad, and it 's my business to 
keep your floors clean. Thank God I'm not 



MISS 'RIA 27 

as clean as some folks, your sister Martha 
for one; if I were, a pretty life of it you'd 
lead.' 

The farmer smiled to himself, but made no 
reply. He was a man of few words and she was 
a woman of many : better, he always thought, 
to let her have her way. 

' Will they finish cutting the home -field 
to-night ? ' she asked as he washed his hands at 
the sink. Had Miss Maria Studd, Miss 'Ria, as 
the farming folks called her, been Mr. Mindell's 
wife, she could not have testified more affection- 
ate interest in his concerns, a compliment 
accepted by him rather ruefully, but a compli- 
ment not to be rejected. When two people sit 
down day after day to the same board, one must 
of necessity draw out, the other consent to be 
drawn. 

The question being answered satisfactorily, 
they passed into the keeping-room, as a farm- 
house parlour was always called, Maria having 
her heavy key-basket in one hand. She was 
a ruddy-cheeked, bright-eyed little woman of 
about thirty-five, and, the fact was apparent 
at a glance round the house, a first-rate house- 
keeper. Another fact equally apparent to the 
casual observer was this, Miss Maria Studd had 
made up her mind to marry Mr. Edward Flindell. 



28 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Less obvious to outsiders remained her em- 
ployer's attitude in the matter. Only those well 
up in the book of human nature would detect 
a certain passive resistance and recoiling, and 
at the same time a half acknowledgement of 
his adversary's superiority. The pair were 
indeed playing a game in which everything 
depended upon coolness and skill. Miss 'Ria 
could not more resolutely decide to become 
Mrs. Edward Flindell than the farmer decide 
to leave her a spinster. Hence the piquancy 
of daily intercourse. It was a perpetual parry 
and thrust, catch and throw, touch and go. 

' Mr. Betts is much the same ; it is wonderful 
how some people hold out,' she said with the 
complacent self -approval of the faithful steward. 
' I got Smy to waylay the postman and inquire. 
You see, if anything happens, you must not lose 
a moment in seeing the Captain.' 

Mr. Flindell sugared his apple-turnover — he 
ever supped lightly — cut it into mathematical 
little squares, then, before poising one on the 
edge of his black-handled knife, made reply : 

* It 's a bad business waiting for dead men's 
shoes.' 

* We must take the bad business with the 
good,' she rattled on, her speech having a ring 
of immistakable decision and self-assurance, no 



MISS 'RIA 29 

matter the topic. ' Remember what happened 
about Reaford Hall. For weeks and weeks 
afore Tom Smith died, Ralph Spooner kept a 
horse saddled night and day, and no sooner was 
the breath out of the poor man's body than off 
he set in the dead of the night, galloped straight 
to London, saw Sir Theobald Gosford, and came 
home with the lease of the Hall in his pocket. 
I should like to see any one of the name of 
Flindell doing the same ! ' 

' You ain't likely to,' rejoined the farmer. 

His family — ^there were seven of them, all in 
the farming line — had their code of honour ; 
one article of faith was decency in business 
matters. No one's mouth could water for the 
lease of Burridge Hall more than Edward 
Flindell's. The notion of riding to London on 
such an errand shocked his moral sense. 

' We wriggle on, if we don't make money as 
fast as some folks,' he added, as he ate his turn- 
over ; the perfection of turnover it was, crust 
light as a feather, the ribstone pippin apples 
spiced and baked to a turn. Mr. Flindell was 
very particular about his turnovers, as Miss 
'Ria knew. 

' Wriggle on, you may well say that,' the little 
woman continued with flashes of her dark eyes. 
' But how are farmers to do that if Sir Robert 



30 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Peel gets his way ? He ought to be hanged with 
darning-cotton and drawn to his grave by 
hopping-toads, the scoundrel ! ' 

Mr. Flindell had an immense respect for ' the 
wealth and talent of the country,' as he styled 
Government, whether Whig or Tory, but he let 
his housekeeper rail on. It was not in the 
Flindell family to abuse great folks. Miss 
Studd, as he knew well, came from a slightly 
lower social stratum. Thus he excused her 
vituperations, whilst for her part she regarded 
strong words as a tonic of which he stood sorely 
in need. Truth to tell, he was a trifle phleg- 
matic. 

' I'll be on the look out, never fear,' she 
added, then with a change of tone put the 
question, ' I suppose you don't intend to go to 
market to-morrow ? ' 

During haysel and harvest, farmers frequently 
absented themselves from market, Mr. Ederd, 
as Edward was called by his own people, among 
the number. 

* Were you wanting to go yourself ? ' he asked. 

' I should say I have something better to do,' 
was the contemptuous reply, * what with draw- 
ing beer at all hours of the day and the washing 
still about. I only asked because I want some 
groceries, and as well have them put in your 



MISS 'RIA 31 

gig as pay the butter-woman for bringing them 
o' Saturdays.' 

The farmer's richly-bronzed complexion took 
a ruddier tone, and he suddenly coughed as if a 
crumb had gone the wrong way. It was a trick 
of his when conscious of blushing, a trick that 
f ortimately Miss 'Ria had not found out. When 
the impediment was dislodged he merely 
said : 

' Yes, Richard and Samuel will be there, and 
I want to see about some oil-cake.' 

' Well, you've only to tell me how much 
beer is to be drawn, I'll look after the people, 
never fear.' 

Miss Studd loved to sit beside Mr. Flindell in 
his gig : hardly less flattering was the fact of 
being left in charge at home. 

Her companion answered mechanically, and 
was now left alone, off bustled the housekeeper 
to draw the men's supper beer, see that the 
cats had not got into the dairy, that the fowl- 
houses were locked, the maids behaving them- 
selves, and everything in order. Meantime an 
expression stole over Mr. Edward's face that 
rendered him for the moment positively beauti- 
ful. He seemed to catch the reflex of some 
heavenly vision, to consort in that commonplace 
little keeping-room with angelic visitants. 



32 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

In bounced Miss 'Ria, bearing key-basket and 
rushlights in tin candlesticks. 

* Don't you think it as well to save fire and 
candle when we can ? ' she asked, and suiting 
the action to the words, snuffed out the tall 
tallow candles. ' Never you fear, I'll drive the 
men and maids to bed.' 

The energetic little woman was fond of strong 
language. It was ' Roar in the clothes,' if 
a heavy shower fell just after filling the line ; 
' are you going to sit guzzling there till Martin- 
mas ? ' if Amma and 'Liza lingered too long 
over their dinner, and so on. A mild expletive 
was never used when a vehement one could be 
thought of. Alike words and deeds were in 
Mr. FHndell's interest. How then could he 
object to either ? 



CHAPTER IV 

THE DRIVE TO MARKET 

Soon after five o'clock next morning Mr. 
Flindell was abroad, and his well-known ' coop, 
coop, coop,' resounded from one end of the 
premises to the other. Before, indeed, their 
master had descended the granary steps, his 
feathered dependants were impatiently await- 
ing the morning meal ; dun-coloured hens, 
gorgeous cocks, and the beautiful white and 
grey guinea-fowls, or come-backs, so called 
from their cry, ' Come back, come back,' now 
flocked about him in such numbers that he 
could hardly move. And still to the sound of 
that reiterated ' Coop, coop, coop,' they came, 
the farmer as usual doing his best to insure 
an equitable distribution. Some especially 
greedy ones he roughly drove away, but, as he 
often said, Solomon himself could not have here 
seen justice done. Certain of his family hens 
would outwit the Lord Chief Justice himself. 
With an alacrity quite unusual to him, Mr. 
Flindell got through the daily routine, fed the 
pigs, gave out corn and oil-cake for horses and 

194 ^ 



34 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

fat stock, set Smy to work at jobbing, next 
visited the buds or young steers in pightle and 
meadow, lastly the harvest field. 

Precisely at noon he was ready for the 
hurried Tuesday's dinner on market days, 
a mere snack of cold meat and glass of beer. 
Clean-shaven, in his best black stock and well- 
ironed collar neatly adjusted, a fine yellow silk 
handkerchief in the pocket of his black cloth 
surtout, he well represented the substantial 
tenant farmer. 

To-day Miss 'Ria did not dine with her 
employer. After the manner of farmers' wives 
when not accompanying their lords to market, 
she ' got him off ', as the phrase went, before 
sitting down to table herself. 

' Have you thought of the beer-bungs ? ' she 
asked as Smy came up with the gig. 

' On my word I had clean forgotten them.' 

* Some one must have bunged up your senses 
this morning ; you forget every mortal thing,' 
cried the little woman, with affected impatience. 
In reality she was delighted at finding herself so 
useful. 

The bungs, of which he required duplicates, 
being neatly wrapped up and put in the gig- 
box, she watched him mount and drive off. 

' Tell your sister Marthy not to expect me till 



THE DRIVE TO MARKET 35 

the moon after next/ she called after him, as 
she did so saying to herself, ' If that doesn't 
show him and his family that I study his 
interests, what will ? As if I did not prefer 
going out to tea to putting down pork and 
ironing all day, or getting red as a turkey-cock 
over the jam saucepan ! ' 

Mr. Flindell was soon rattling down the Drift ; 
she had never known him in such a hurry. 
Once on the high-road he drove faster still, his 
brown, humorous, kindly eyes lighting up as he 
approached the toll-gate. 

Yes, he was in luck's way to-day. There she 
stood, beside good Mrs. Pipe, the toll-gate 
keeper's wife, awaiting a chance ride to Ipswich. 
The young governess at the Rectory could 
seldom count on a seat in the Rector's four- 
wheeler, it being packed with children, and as 
the family liked the liveliness of market day 
she was free to go marketing also, provided that 
some one would take her up. The slender 
figure in fan-shaped Tuscan bonnet, blue muslin 
gown and white gauze scarf worn so daintily on 
the shoulders, was distinguishable to certain 
eyes a long way off. Mr. Flindell felt sure that 
he could not be mistaken. Other girls wore blue 
muslin gowns and white scarves, but the wearer, 
the way of wearing, made all the difference. 
D 2 



36 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

As he drew up to pay his fourpence, Mrs. 
Pipe turned to her companion : 

* Now, Miss Aimay, jump in. This is the 
seventh gig that has passed since she 's been 
a' waiting, Mr. Fhndell, and all choke-full, true 
as I stand here. But there's luck in some 
numbers, so folks say.' 

Mr. Flindell's face showed that here he 
agreed with the good woman, it shone like the 
brand-new fourpenny-bit he handed for toll. 
Meantime the girl modestly awaited an invita- 
tion. 

' The seat wants filling,' was all he said, as 
he arranged the gig cushions. 

Lightly she sprang to her place, only just 
displaying a neat little foot, white -stockinged and 
sandalled after the fashion of the day. Then 
nodding to Mrs. Pipe the pair drove off. Miss 
Aimay, as she was always called, could hardly 
be styled handsome or even pretty, but she did 
not in the least resemble local beauties, hence, 
for some eyes, her charm. The face was thin, 
not with the thinness of emaciation or poor 
health, rather of delicate symmetrical propor- 
tion. On each cheek, shaded by auburn curls, 
seemed to have fallen a pale pink rose leaf, so 
pure and fresh was the healthful carnation. And 
her eyes possessed that rarest, wholly indefinable 



THE DRIVE TO MARKET 37 

attribute, loosely called expressiveness. A 
direct, arch glance now intoxicated the 
farmer. 

' Is your horse lame that you drive at this 
snail's pace ? ' she asked suddenly. 

For no sooner had they passed the toll-bar 
than Mr. Flindell slackened speed, gig after gig, 
sulky and cart, rattling by. A poor pretext is 
better than none at all. 

' You should always walk a horse uphill,' he 
replied, conscious of arch-hypocrisy. 

Now it would require a very strong imagina- 
tion to find a hill in the whole county of Suffolk. 
Here the ground just perceptibly rose. That 
was all, but Mr. Flindell did not drive Miss 
Aimay to market every day. He was in no 
hurry whatever to reach Ipswich. 

' This a hill ! ' the young lady cried, bursting 
into a merry laugh. ' What would you say to 
the hills in Dauphine, the part of France I come 
from ? ' 

Mr. Flindell now pretended to hurry his horse 
a bit, and after hearing a little more about 
Dauphine, said : 

' There is one place in France I should well 
like to see, I mean Waterloo. Is it anywhere 
near the mountains you speak of ? ' 

Again his companion's face beamed with 



38 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

mirthfulness, but she checked herself, and 
repHed very gravely : 

' No, Waterloo, although close to France, is 
in Belgium, on the frontier ; why do you so 
much wish to see that ugly battlefield, Mr. 
Flindell ? ' 

For the look of the thing, as neighbours were 
constantly passing, he had now put Jack to 
a slow trot. He replied in the same easy, con- 
fidential manner, it seemed so easy to speak of 
his feelings to her ! 

' You know much more about history than 
I do, but nobody forgets the things that he sees 
and hears, as a child. Well, when I was an 
unbreeched boy, Bonaparty wanted to conquer 
England, as you know, and " Bony is a' coming. 
Bony will eat you ! " was enough to quiet us, 
whatever mischief we might be at. That is 
why I should like to see Waterloo.' 

' I am glad Bonaparte never did set foot in 
England, but he was a Corsican with not a drop 
of French blood in his body. No Frenchman 
would have treated women as he did,' Miss 
Aimay exclaimed, with great decision. She 
then elucidated that little remark about 
Napoleon's origin, much to her companion's 
admiration. How excellent a thing is learning ! 
he thought, ruefully calling to mind his own 



THE DRIVE TO MARKET 39 

modicum of instruction, the dame-school to 
begin with, followed by two or three years under 
an old village schoolmaster, whose very name 
was synonymous with pedagogic incompetence, 
a proverb in folks' mouths. 

The company of this young girl indeed 
transported him into a wholly new atmosphere. 
It was as if he gazed upon some lovely exotic, 
caught its fragrance, realized the existence of 
far-off, more beautiful regions. 

Perhaps, too, he was conscious of the differ- 
ence between her attitude and that of Maria 
Studd; overmatched by his housekeeper in 
fetches and expedients, he yet saw through all. 
Miss 'Ria regarded him as her legitimate prey. 
Here the position was entirely reversed. Airily 
naive and at her ease, without a vestige of 
coquetry or seK-interest, the little governess 
bewitched him, hardly seeing, perhaps hardly 
caring, whether it was so or no. For him 
to adore, covet, dream of from morning till 
night, instead of, after a fashion, being adored, 
coveted, dreamed of was a delicious sensa- 
tion. Maria's hankering after the name and 
position of Mrs. Edward FMndell hardly war- 
ranted a sentimental adjective. Mere senti- 
mentality were more bearable. The girl now 
caught his glance directed at her reticule, a little 



40 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

velvet bag with silver clasps, on its upper side 
embroidered the name — Aimee. 

' You are perhaps wondering why I should 
have a French name,' she asked. ' I will tell 
you. My mother was a governess, as I am, 
and named me after a favourite pupil, a little 
French girl, called Aimee. She thought it 
a good omen, because, although Aimee is a 
proper name, it is the past participle of a verb, 
and means " Beloved." ' 

' You would always be that, I am sure.' 

The farmer had never before heard of verbs 
and past participles, but he understood Miss 
Aimay's speech, and got out those terribly 
venturesome words in a low voice, and with his 
eyes fixed on the reins. His companion con- 
tinued vivaciously enough. Perhaps this kind- 
hearted, homely, middle-aged farmer wore a 
fatherly aspect in her eyes. 

' I don't think the Rectory children are of 
your opinion,' she said ; ' they would hate any 
one who set them to French grammar and sums. 
But let me tell you about mamma.' 

' Yes, I like to hear about your mamma,' 
was the low-voiced reply. 

Mr. Flindell could not at all understand him- 
self to-day. As his steady old nag trotted by 
field and meadow, past blacksmith's shop, wind- 



THE DRIVE TO MARKET 41 

mill and ' Barley Mow ', familiar objects looked 
strange and new. He felt somehow that the 
world had turned upside down, and his too well- 
known Ego with it. 

Miss Aimay prattled on. 

' Mamma married a Frenchman of English 
descent, named de Richemont ; he used to say 
that he was descended from the royal dukes of 
Richmond. Who knows, it may be so ? But 
the name did not bring good fortune.' 

' Your poor mamma and papa are dead and 
gone then ? ' asked the farmer compassion- 
ately. 

' Oh ! dear no, thank God, both are as well 
as possible,' said the young lady ; ' I go to see 
them every year at Grenoble, where they keep 
a pension, that is to say, a boarding-house.' 

What could her parents' calling in life matter 
to him ? Yet his face fell. Farmers were very 
aristocratic in their way. They rang the side 
door of titled landlords, and were never invited 
for refreshments beyond the housekeeper's room. 
But among themselves reigned an exclusiveness 
and an etiquette equally stringent with that of 
the gentry. With shopkeepers they seldom 
visited, and a boarding-house had positively a low 
sound. Every moment he was falling deeper 
in love, every moment her concerns began to 



42 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

look like his own. France, however, was not 
England, that was a comfortable reflection. 

' You can have a seat home, and welcome,' 
he said, after a little ; ' I shall leave the " Crown 
and Anchor " yard at five o'clock.' 

' How kind of you ! I always tell mamma 
that the only nice people in Suffolk are the 
farmers. But I am to drive back in the Rector's 
four-wheeler, and I will get down at St. Mar- 
garet's Green, if you please.' 

Certain moments of life are veritable eternities. 
Brief as they are to recall, they seem to have 
lasted indefinitely. Now, to Edward Flindell 
came one. 

When he drew up by that old-fashioned 
tavern, * The Woolpack,' gigs, sulkies, four- 
wheelers, and carts haK-filled St. Margaret's 
Green. The place was deserted. 

Mr. Flindell could have prolonged those last 
minutes till nightfall, for ever. With graceful 
spring she reached the ground, again displaying 
the small feet in white stockings with open-work 
and sandalled shoes ; distractingly engaging too, 
in his eyes, was the slim, genteel figure, and gauze 
scarf worn with such elegance. More distract- 
ing still was the curtsey of thanks and farewell. 

Suddenly possessed by some daemonic force 
he said as he drank in the vision : 



THE DRIVE TO MARKET 43 

' Do you really mean what you told your 
mamma about us farmers ? ' 

* You would not ask the question if you were 
the governess of some people's children,' was 
the reply. Then, with a smiling inclination of 
the fan-shaped Tuscan bonnet, she tripped off. 

The everyday world came back as Mr. Flindell 
alighted in the * Crown and Anchor ' yard. With 
the habitual retiringness of his class, he always 
entered by a back street. To dash up from the 
Cornhill was only becoming in the clergy, gentry, 
and independent people, that is to say, folks 
who lived on their means. 

' I began to think you weren't a' coming,' 
reproachfully exclaimed a bluff, rubicund copy 
of himself. Mr. Samuel Flindell always felt 
aggrieved if his brothers stayed away from 
market. Whether or no farmers had business 
on hand it w^as clearly their duty to be seen o' 
Tuesdays. 

* Is Marthy here ? ' asked Edward. 

' No, we don't like to be both away just now% 
what with bever beer to be drawn, and so much 
else to look after abroad. She said most likely 
you would be a' coming next moon.' 

' The moon after next, Sammel,' replied 
Edward with decision. He was a stay-at-home 
man, seldom visiting even his own people, and 



44 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

at this particular time he had especial reasons 
for avoiding Martha. His unmarried sister, too, 
was a bit of a match-maker, and between her 
plotting and Miss Studd's counter-plotting he 
felt, as the local phrase went, ' like a toad under 
two harrows.' 

Having nodded to this neighbour and that, 
the pair sauntered on to the Cornhill, just in 
front of the inn-yard, always a busy scene on 
Tuesday afternoon, but in those days far 
from an imposing one. No palatial structure, 
as now, ornamented the square ; alike Corn 
Exchange and streets showed the plainest 
architecture. 

Little business was doing to-day. Few farmers 
had brought the usual brown paper bags of 
sample corn. But if not within, at least outside 
the Corn Exchange, there was active buying 
and selling. In every gig lay a large frail 
or rush-woven basket to be filled with household 
necessaries. Folks were too well off to stint 
themselves of tea at five shillings a pound, and 
as yet no cheap American cheese had driven 
rich Derby and Cheshire out of the field. The 
prevailing atmosphere was of solid sober pros- 
perity. The townsfolk were all abroad ; mingling 
with the rest, many a Quaker, in collarless coat 
and broad-brimmed hat, and Quakeress in 



THE DRIVE TO MARKET 45 

coal-scuttle bonnet, little black shawl, white 
lawn kerchief and drab or brown dress. 

' How do thee do, friend Edward ? ' — ' Glad to 
see thee, friend Samuel,' suavely said one and 
another to the two jolly farmers as they threaded 
the crowd. 

The scene was certainly exhilarating. The 
chats alike at street corner and in tavern 
parlour were for the most part personal. But 
comfortable circumstances beget a charitable 
frame of mind and honest dealing. As a spec- 
tacle those tenant farmers thronging the Cornhill 
and adjacent streets engendered confidence in 
humanity and in the conduct of human affairs. 



CHAPTER V 

A FLIRTATION BY RUSHLIGHT 

Amma Sage might well toss her head and 
' put on parts ', as the phrase went. In those 
days it was not the village lass that sighed for 
a lover, but the lover that sighed oft-times in 
vain for a lass. Emigration had hitherto con- 
cerned felons only. The vast Australian con- 
tinent hardly boasted of a sheepfold. No 
grain-laden ships reached Liverpool from the 
Far West or Argentina ; no Chicago stockyards 
or Scandinavian dairies as yet supplied the 
provision merchant and the butterman. 

Thus it came about that in one sense, and that 
a most important one, this Suffolk village, with 
many another, was a veritable Arcadia. Alike 
the able-bodied, the three-quarter man, and 
the hudderen or hobbledehoy were in request. 
Not one could be spared by the farmer ; and 
as occasionally young women did ' go into the 
shires ', in other words, accept situations beyond 
London, whilst their fathers, brothers, and 
sweethearts stayed behind, the hirsute, the 
courting sex, ever remained a decided majority. 



A FLIRTATION BY RUSHLIGHT 47 

Amma, with her large languishing eyes, com- 
plexion of genteel paleness and slim waist, was fully 
alive to the above-named advantages. She was 
a farmhouse maid, receiving two shillings a week 
as wages. She could barely read or write, and 
had not a well-to-do relation in the world. But 
she was a woman and conscious of feminine 
power, often capriciously, even cruelly used. 

According to custom, Mr. Flindell boarded 
two young ploughmen, so that Amma and her 
fellow-servant 'Liza enjoyed the society of the 
stronger sex at supper and every meal o' 
Sundays. In this farmhouse, as in every other, 
the most rigid decorum was preserved. The 
maids' bed-chamber ever adjoined that of the 
master and mistress, whilst the men slept in 
an attic approached by a back-stair. But 
neither bolts, bars, nor yet the ubiquitous eye 
of housewives like Miss Maria Studd could 
prevent soft glances, whispered vows, Sunday 
walks, and the sending of Valentines. 

' Well, Ebby,' said Amma, addressing the elder 
and taller of the two youths, brothers of twenty- 
two and seventeen ; ' how I've been a waitin' 
and a lookin' for you 1 ' 

' It 's all very fine to say that,' rejoined the 
swain, sullenly. 

Men may follow the plough, fare on fat pork 



48 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

and flour and water dumplings : the spark of 
romance, of poetry, is nevertheless not to be 
extinguished in their humble breasts. For 
Ebenezer Murphy, Amma's big brown eyes were 
the luminaries of the universe, her smile or 
frown, the day's destiny. 

' Why all very fine, pray ? Here, Zeky, you 
catch.' As she spoke, she threw across the kit- 
chen a bit of home-made toffee, called treacle - 
sucker. Every one here made treacle -sucker. 

Zeky, or Ezekiel — ^for every one gave children 
Bible names — opened not his palm, but his 
mouth. In went the sweetmeat, unerringly 
aimed, as unerringly swallowed. 'Liza, with 
a hand on each hip, laughed aloud. The stout, 
red-cheeked, unromantic, and imperturbably 
cheerful dairy-maid was a girl who, in local 
phrase, ' had had a misfortune.' Young women, 
in such case. Miss Studd said, made the best 
possible servants. They did not mind how hard 
they worked, nor what they ate, so long as they 
got plenty. And they were not perpetually 
running after men-folk, having had more than 
enough of them to their cost. The four sat 
down, Zeky's eyes brightening at the regale ; 
a chunk of cold plum-pudding was allotted to 
each and the pewter mugs showed suggestive 
foam. Ah ! that good old harvest beer ! There- 



A FLIRTATION BY RUSHLIGHT 49 

in lay the secret of tremendously long working- 
days, and prevailing good humour. Higher 
wages certainly counted for something ; the 
occasional taste of beef and the daily plum- 
puddings must also be taken into account. 
But it was the sweet, strong, sparkling home- 
brewed that, for the time being, made life exhil- 
arating and toil almost a gracious dispensation. 

Ebenezer Murphy, like his younger brother, 
was heavy-featured, square-built, with flaming 
complexion and yellow hair, recalling the hues 
of full-blown poppies and ripe corn. He was 
a typical Suffolker, drawling in speech, first-rate 
at ploughing or ninepins, not without a touch 
of native wit, and absolutely inoffensive. - No 
half-penny newspaper had as yet opened his 
mind to wider intellectual and social horizons. 
A head horseman's place, a cottage with garden, 
and Amma — beyond these limits ambition 
soared not. 

' Why all very fine, pray ? ' he repeated, with 
a look in his light blue eyes as of some timid 
animal entreating mildness at the hand of its 
captor. ' Because you know that you are never 
a' waiting and a'looking for me.' 

' I was, Ebby, but what I had to say isn't 
pending,' she replied provokingly. ' If so be 
you are curious, ask 'Liza.' 

IQJ. E 



50 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

'Liza was more addicted to giggling than 
speech, where, as she expressed it, a good bellyful 
was concerned. Miss Studd was a slave-driver, 
a Tartar, but she did heap her serving-people's 
board. 'Liza vigorously plied black-handled 
knife and fork with only a wink by way of 
reply. 

' I'm going to leave at Michaelmas, I'm going 
into the shires,' pursued Amma. 

' How can you go into the shires ? ' asked 
Ebenezer, the first word being on the note, the 
last on its upper octave. Every one's sentences 
hereabouts formed a gamut after this fashion. 

' I suppose the coach will take me there as 
well* as any one else,' Amma replied, quietly 
scornful. 

Both 'Liza and Zeky laughed immoderately, 
but Ebenezer remained grave. Love may render 
some blind, others perspicacious. He was 
ready to credit Amma with any enterprise, 
however daring. 

' Why should you go to the shires ? ' he 
asked. 

' Why should I want to stay here ? ' was the 
merciless retort. 

Susceptibilities were not keen in this work- 
aday world. Folks called things by their names, 
and saw them as they were. Amma reasoned 



A FLIRTATION BY RUSHLIGHT 51 

in this way : ' If Ebby cares for me, and I 
don't care for him, the more fool he ; am I to 
blame ? ' 

' Because Ebby wants you,' chuckled 'Liza. 

The excellent soul entertained positive venera- 
tion for the wedding-ring, although she had 
missed it herself. She knew that here was one 
at Amma's service. 

' Has he lost his tongue then, poor little 
dear ? ' the girl said, quizzing her adorer's 
habitual poverty of speech. 

Ebenezer took a deep draught of beer in order 
to give himself a little courage. 

' I sometimes wish that you had lost yours, 
Amma,' was all he made reply. 

The rebuke sobered 'Liza and Zeky, even 
Amma felt herself worsted. 

' What can you do in the shires ? ' pursued 
Ebby. 

' Isn't there a registry office at Ipswich ? 
Didn't Betsy Last get a housemaid's place 
beyond London with independent people, and 
have a lady's time of it ? I'm going to do the 
same.' 

Ebenezer looked downcast enough. Was ever 
so unaccountable a creation as womankind ? 
Why on earth must Amma's head run upon the 
shires and independent people ? 

E 2 



52 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

The bouncing in of Miss 'Ria put an end to 
further talk. 

' Have a care, what 's all this bobbery about ? ' 
cried the little woman, rattling her keys. ' If 
you can't be quicker over your supper you must 
go without cold plum-pudding, that 's about it. 
'Liza, have you got the tinder-boxes ready ? 
Amma, take the bread and cheese into the 
store-room. Am I to be kept driving you to 
bed till midnight ? ' 

Mute and sheepish, the young ploughmen took 
off their high-lows, then Ebby holding a rush- 
light in a lantern, the two crept up their attic 
stair, Miss Studd following the maids in the 
opposite direction, noisily bolting and barring 
doors as she went. The weather was sultry, 
and male night-gear here unheard of, bare as 
Adam the stalwart youths soon snored side by 
side. 

Without a whisper 'Liza and Amma imdressed 
in their bed-chamber adjoining the house- 
keeper's, their shapely arms not as yet covered 
at night with the matronly bed-gown. 

Decently, comfortably, nevertheless, were 
those farm-folk housed fifty years ago, after 
lordly fashion indeed, compared with the accom- 
modation of liveried lacqueys in some other 
countries. Nor was Walnut Tree Farm the only 



A FLIRTATION BY RUSHLIGHT 53 

household in which the temptations of the 
flesh were guarded against. Rigid supervision 
was no peculiarity of Miss Maria Studd. 

'Liza no sooner laid her night-capped head 
on the pillow than she was sound asleep, but 
Amma gave a quarter of an hour to day-dreams. 
' Mother may jaw me as she likes, but I'm not 
going to church with a clod-hopper, not I. 
When I marry it shall be some one who wears 
a black coat o' Sundays, and is called Mister. 
Tat Turtle is not the first tradesman who has 
put his arm round my waist, or would like to. 
And I've heard tell of a right down gentleman 
marrying a poor man's daughter afore now.' 
Nor did Miss 'Ria immediately put away daily 
concerns, and what with her did duty for 
romance. 

In neat frilled muslin night-cap and short 
white bed-gown she remained at the lattice - 
window, watching the flitting bats and ponder- 
ing, half her faculties given to Mr. Flindell's 
worldly interest, half to himself. 

She had a habit of thus keeping awake, and 
even of roaming about the house when every one 
else slumbered. The usual notice, ' Man-traps 
and spring-guns set on these premises,' did not, 
as she knew, deter nightly marauders ; tinkers 
of gipsy tribe would occasionally poison pigs 



54 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

and rob fowl-house, orchard, and potato-clamp ; 
even stack-yards were not safe. 

Miss Studd yearned after a bit of successful 
thief -catching. She had lately heard, or fancied 
that she had heard, footsteps round the granary 
at nights, but without opening her lips on the 
subject. What an arch-triumph for her, the 
pouncing upon fowl-stealer or corn-purloiner ! 
She knew Mr. Flindell to be a just man ; * Right 
is right, and justice is justice,' he was perpetually 
saying. On his conscientiousness she could rely. 
It seemed plain as day that he would consider 
himself immensely indebted to the woman 
thus careful of his property, thus ever watchful 
on his behalf. Only on the practical side was 
her employer attackable. She realized that the 
evoking of sentiment was quite out of the ques- 
tion. Edward Flindell might, or might not, 
have felt for some other woman the fascination 
of the bee to the flower, the moth to the candle : 
he would never be thus drawn towards herself. 
Sentiment was out of the question on her side 
as well as his own. But she had made up her 
mind to marry him, and to prove the best 
farmer's wife in that part of the country. No 
modest ambition as things went ! Another 
train of thought followed. To surprise a lurcher 
in the farm -yard would improve her hand vastly ; 



A FLIRTATION BY RUSHLIGHT 55 

to forestall Mrs. Betsey Askew with regard to 
the lease would be a veritable ace of trumps. 
These big landlords — ah ! she knew their ways 
so well — were as difficult to manage as Mr. 
Flindell himself. If her own game required 
extraordinary skill, so did the applicant's for 
Burridge Hall. Captain de Medue was whimsi- 
cal, hasty, apt to take sudden likes and dislikes, 
but he was also a sharp man of business, ever 
contriving to get the best men and the best 
rents. You never knew which way the wind 
blew with him, folks said ; he might seem to be 
ready to let you a farm to-day, and turn his 
back upon you to-morrow. 

Could she only help Mr. Flindell here, procure 
for him ever so slight an advantage, an influential 
word, better still a first hearing ! 

Neighbour Betts had rallied, the poor man 
might live some days, nay, weeks yet. Miss 
Maria Studd pondered and pondered, attaining 
a happy solution ere launched into night-cap 
land. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE OLD HUNDREDTH 

Church-going at Burridge might be likened 
to the Camera Obscura, that temple of marvels 
opened on the Harwich sands for sixpence. 
There the delighted traveller — ^for a trip from 
Ipswich to the sea constituted travel in those 
days — beheld the curved shore at a glance, the 
animated panorama around passing within a 
radius immediately under his nose. In the 
same way did morning service here prove 
a centre of convergence, a microcosm, as was 
the sea-side picture, representative of many 
another. 

Not that every homely figure now passing up 
the lane through the old wooden lich-gate was 
an orthodox church-goer. Many a meetinger 
attended simply because the meeting-house was 
closed, service being only held there in the 
evening. The Rector — good, easy man — bore 
such defalcations bravely, comforting himself 
with the thought that when Christmas drew 
near his congregation would be complete. Two 
hundred years before, some well-meaning parish- 



THE OLD HUNDREDTH 57 

ioner had bequeathed a certain sum to be laid 
out upon beef, coals — here whimsically pro- 
nounced cools — and woollen petticoats, con- 
sequently, by the last week in November, a parish 
census might have been taken from the pulpit. 

Typical as congregation, were church and 
churchyard. Hundreds of such grey, ivy-covered 
churches, perched on the highest spot available, 
characterize England of the olden time, one 
and all standing in the midst of grass -grown 
graves and abundant greenery. Here too, as 
elsewhere, a small gabled building abutting on 
the west side indicated the village school, still 
as much an appendage of the church, and as 
completely under clerical jurisdiction, as the 
burial ground itself. 

Whilst the male population, veterans, middle- 
aged, and hudderens in Sunday smock or cor- 
duroy, lingered outside the porch till the last 
bell tolled, the women walked straight in, 
neither looking to the right nor left, each carry- 
ing her prayer-book between neatly folded 
pocket-handkerchief. 

The village boasted of one old maid only, 
and all eyes respectfully followed the much 
revered figure of Sarah Weedon as she now 
passed along, personification of unassailable 
reputation and feminine austereness. Although 



58 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

far as yet from the sere and yellow leaf, — still 
pursued by elderly swains, — a cruel disillusion 
to many, a sphinx to all, she held aloof from 
courtship and wedlock. She had elected single 
blessedness, but would never give the reason why. 

Most likely it was of the simplest, an objection 
to muddy high-lows on her speckless brick floor, 
to matronly cares, and perhaps the smell of 
tobacco. Be this as it may, she preferred the 
smooth routine of a washer- woman's life, wheel- 
ing her baskets of clean linen on a hand-barrow 
herself to Ipswich, beholdeii to none for daily 
bread. The appearance of the younger and 
flightier fair would evoke side-long glances, 
tittering comments among the younger men. 

Amma, with her masterful brown eyes, might 
stare them out of countenance, the next girl 
was sure to be quizzed or criticized. This sort 
of thing went on every Sunday and com- 
pensated for the dullness of church-going. In 
very truth nothing could have been duller. 

With their elders conversation would be sober, 
even edifying. They took counsel together on 
the matter in hand, discussed wheat-cutting, 
carting, and the weather. 

' Day, Master Sage, hope I see you well ? ' 

' Day, Master Hammond, I'm good tightly, 
thank you.' 



THE OLD HUNDREDTH 59 

Thus the rivals greeted each other, EKsha 
and Jerry no less eager for the place of head- 
man at Burridge Hall than their respective 
employers for the farm itself. Just as Elisha 
enjoyed Mr. Flindell's confidence, so Jerry stood 
high in the estimation of Mrs. Betsey Askew, 
for years being her head horseman and Lord of 
the Harvest. The pair were not quite equally 
matched. In bodily strength and a good 
stomach, Jerry had the advantage, mentally 
and morally, he was inferior. 

' You've nearly cut yer wheat ? ' asked Jerry. 

The two were now running a neck-and-neck 
race in the harvest field. Mr. Flindell and Mrs. 
Askew grew about the same acreage of corn. 
The first to get the wheat all carted and stacked 
might fairly boast of superlative management. 

' Well nigh on it,' was Elisha's proud reply. 

Jerry looked a trifle disconcerted. He had 
a habit of keeping his mouth open and uttering 
truisms, was indeed a kind of Sancho Panza 
without his wit, if we can imagine such a being, 
the clayey envelope without the divine spark. 

' I never see'd such a crop of Talavera,' he 
went on, * nor so much stover either.' 

' We can't have wheat without stover,' Elisha 
answered sententiously. ' Why, even the Lord's 
chosen hadn't the like of that.' 



60 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Being Sunday Scriptural allusion seemed 
appropriate. And the Lord of the Harvest was 
an assiduous student of the Bible. He could 
not read, but had he not a most capable pre- 
lectress and expounder by his side ? The com- 
panionship of such a woman as Karra was 
indeed an education in itself and, as times went, 
a pretty liberal one. 

* I suppose you're right there,' Jerry replied, 
with the air of a man who has just learned 
something. Then they chatted on of crops 
and weather prospects, how the barley looked, 
how the tares had yielded, and so on. Some 
naive listener dropped from the clouds might 
have supposed these men to be Lords of the 
Harvest in the fact, owners, or at least sharers 
of the wealth under discussion, sweeps of 
golden com and silvery barley, fields of sweet- 
smelhng turnip, luscious meadow and pightle 
full of young stock. 

Could human meekness go farther, long- 
suffering reach a higher level ? There was no 
envy in these slow, drawling utterances, per- 
haps none in these honest breasts, only an 
occasional feeling of wistfulness and wonder. 
Was it so all the world over, a Heaven-sent dis- 
pensation, that some must sow whilst others 
reaped ? 



THE OLD HUNDREDTH 61 

The bell now ceased and the Rector took his 
place. His appearance was anything but sacer- 
dotal. Shock-headed, slovenly, blustering, un- 
couth, the outer man ever revealed the inner. 
The Reverend Mr. Pascoe was about as fitted 
to officiate at the altar as to wear the triple 
crown itself. There he was, and perhaps 
parishioners might have been, in their own 
words, ' a sight deal worse off '. In an enormous 
pew immediately under the pulpit sat Mrs. 
Pascoe and her elder children ; in an overflow 
pew adjoining, Miss Aimay frowned down the 
yoimger and led the village choir. 

One and all of the little Pascoes were imbued 
with an overwhelming sense of rectorial supre- 
macy. Outside the Rectory, as outside the 
Church of England, existed neither manners nor 
morals, to say nothing of salvation. But their 
governess was more than their match. She had 
the little crew well under command. 

Miss Studd seldom accompanied the farmer 
to morning service, preferring the shorter after- 
noon ceremony. ' If I don't baste the duck 
myseK it would be burnt to a cinder,' she had 
said to-day. Mr. Flindell chuckled. In his 
capacity of churchwarden he attended pretty 
regularly, and as good fortune would have it, 
his pew adjoined the Rectory annexe. Thus, 



62 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

throughout psalms, lessons and hymns, he 
could feast his eyes on a captivating apparition 
close by, Miss 'Ria's absence rendering enchant- 
ment more complete. He felt free, more at 
liberty to drink in the sweet picture. 

That business of choir-leading might have 
been onerous to a girl of less spirit than Aimee 
de Richemont. Few and far between were the 
village churches provided with an organ, har- 
moniums were not as yet in use, night-schools 
and parish societies unheard of. Here half 
a dozen of the elder Sunday scholars were taught 
the Old Hundredth and a few other hymns by 
the Rectory governess, on Sunday gathering 
round her pew, and singing under her direction. 
On the whole, it was a case of every one doing 
her best, and due consideration was shown for 
shortcomings. To-day, somehow, things went 
as wrong as possible. ^ 

The lessons ended, Mr. Pascoe announced the 
Old Hundredth, whereupon half a dozen Sunday 
school girls quitted their low bench in the church 
and formed a semi-circle by the open door of 
the annexe. 

In a clear, loud, well-trained voice the young 
choir-mistress began : 

*With one consent let all the earth 
To God their cheerful voices raise.' 



THE OLD HUNDREDTH 63 

What possessed Fanny Bent, Polly Cage, and 
Lizzie Last, Miss Aimay's best girls ? Usually 
they followed suit with right goodwill, the other 
three, and here and there the congregation, 
joining. 

But something this morning had upset the 
minxes, either a hudderen more bold than the 
rest was making faces to them from the gallery, 
or the Rector's gown had been put on inside 
out. Aimee found herself in the cruellest 
dilemma, her six pupils, scarlet in the face, 
stuffing their handkerchiefs into their mouths 
to check their laughter, the whole audience 
tittering. 

Even well-meaning folks are led astray un- 
awares. The few singers in the body of the 
church were mute ; Mr. Turtle, the miller, 
reseated himself with a severe expression of 
face, motioning Mrs. Turtle to do the same. 
The Rectory children giggled aloud. A grave 
scandal seemed imminent. Mr. Flindell had not 
much of a voice, and was nothing of a musician, 
but he always joined in the hymns, and, as 
churchwarden, exercised hardly less authority 
within the sacred precincts than Mr. Pascoe 
himself. Over against Aimee 's pew was a little 
side door, now standing open on accoimt of the 
great heat. Jumping up, he put his hand on 



64 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Fanny Bent's shoulder, pointing to the exit 
with a gesture impossible to mi sunderstand . One 
by one the crestfallen offenders filed out, Mr. 
Flindell closing the door after them. Then 
confronting his neighbours, inciting them to 
repair their ill-behaviour, he added his deep 
bass to Aimee's pure contralto, taking up the 
verse : 

'Glad homage pay with awful mirth 
And sing before Him songs of Praise.' 

Chivalrousness may prove even more infectious 
than cowardly initiative. Hardly a voice now 
remained silent. Many who had never sung 
before contrived to do so to-day. With a 
volume of sound, a heartiness and spontaneity, 
unexampled in Burridge annals, the words 
rang out : 

* Oh ! enter then the temple gate. 
Thence to his court devoutly press.' 

Aimee was not a young lady addicted to the 
smelHng-bottle. In that slender yet strong 
frame beat a stout heart. But tears of morti- 
fication had risen to her eyes when she found 
herself unaccompanied, and the usually sure, 
steady voice had faltered. The predicament 
over, Mr. Flindell encountered a glance and 
a smile that rewarded him only too well. 



CHAPTER VII 

SHAKESPEARE AND THE MUSICAL GLASSES 

Next day, at dinner-time, Mr. Flindell found 
a note from the Rector, begging him to look in 
that evening on parish business. As church- 
warden th©^ farmer was often thus summoned 
to the Rectory, and even before Aimee's arrival 
the command ever gave pleasure. 

After a chat with Mr. Pascoe in his study, the 
pair would adjourn to the drawing-room : music, 
a charade, acted by the children, or a recitation 
filling the interval before supper. Here Mr. 
Flindell gained a glimpse of that world from 
which he was otherwise shut out, the world of 
gentility, Shakespeare, and the musical glasses ; 
in plain language, he could realize, however 
faintly, the existence of art and letters and 
what goes by the name of culture. 

Mrs. Pascoe, despite, poor woman, of ever- 
recurring cares of maternity, contrived to keep 
up her slender accomplishments. Her flowers, 
painted from nature, in Mr. Flindell's eyes were 
works of art ; her French and Italian sentences, 
interchanged with the children's governess, 

194 ^ 



66 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

savoured of high life and good breeding. Then 
at the tea or supper table, in her soft lisp — 
a lisp betokened aristocratic birth — she talked 
familiarly of great writers, of a poet named 
Shakespeare, of a novelist named Sir Walter 
Scott, of a critic named Dr. Samuel Johnson, — to 
himself, mere names. Oh, dear ! thought he, 
with Juliet's nurse, what a thing was eddication 
to be sure ! 

Very expeditiously he now mixed the flet 
milk and barley-meal for his pigs, always the 
master's, job ; next gave out oil-cakes for the 
fat stock, and corn for the horses, finally changed 
his coat and swallowed a hasty tea. 

There were important matters to be discussed 
to-night> church and school-house repairs, last 
Sunday's scandal, and so on. When the Rector 
and his guest passed out of the study. Miss 
Aimee was taking the younger children to bed. 

A turbulent set of boys and girls the young 
governess had to deal with, but in the matter of 
discipline papa and mamma were her steadfast 
allies. As the boisterous little crew filled the 
entrance-hall, the Rector cried : 

' Don't forget, Miss Aimee, if Jack doesn't 
say his prayers properly he is to have a good 
thrashing to-morrow, and Miss Esther Ann, 
another fib, and instead of a box on the ear 



THE MUSICAL GLASSES 67 

you'll get my cane — remember — aye, and 
smartly too.' 

The words were hardly out of his mouth when 
down came Bob, an unbreeched harum-scarum 
of four, sliding from top to bottom of the 
banisters. 

To catch up the offender, administer a few 
stinging spanks, and send him blubbering back 
was the Rector's work of a moment, Aimee 
evidently distressed, hardly acknowledging Mr. 
Flindell's nod, coaxing her charges upstairs. 

* Humph ! ' murmured the Rector gruffly, 
' it 's well that I've three promises for the Blue 
Coat School — off these youngsters will go as 
soon as they are ten years old.' 

The little drawing-room looked cheerful and 
inviting. Mrs. Pascoe lay on the sofa reading 
aloud ; the poor lady was rarely, if ever, in 
a comfortable state of health. Cassy and Anna, 
tall, handsome, unkempt-looking girls of fifteen 
and twelve, were copying pencil drawings at the 
table. 

Mrs. Pascoe, smiling sweetly, lay down her 
book, Modern Society, by Catherine Sinclair. 
' It is very good of you to come at this busy 
season,' she lisped. ' As Mr. Pascoe says, he 
can always depend on you. Indeed, were it not 
for one or two such parishioners, where would 

F 2 



68 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

poor parsons be nowadays, with meeting-houses 
on the increase everywhere ? But, Gassy, my 
love, and you, my httle Anna, show Mr. Flindell 
your drawings.' 

The farmer recognized a house or a tree, even 
a bridge or windmill, when deUneated on paper 
or canvas ; here his artistic perceptions began 
and ended. 

He felt bound to be encouraging and com- 
plimentary. 

' Ah ! young ladies,' he said, ajffecting to 
inspect the drawings. ' What a thing it is to 
have such a ma ! Make the most of your chances ; 
try to be as ingenious.' Mrs. Pascoe gracefully 
accepted the flattery. The Rector put in with 
rough good nature : 

' Farmers know more about porkers than 
pictures, don't they, Mr. Flindell ? But come, 
girls, hurry down your governess, and give us 
some music ; our neighbour likes a merry 
tune.' 

Just then Aimee appeared. The look of dis- 
composure had passed from her face. In seem- 
ing to smile at all, the visitor made sure that 
she smiled at him. All the old intoxication 
came back. The simile of the toad under two 
harrows was clean forgotten, alike Widow Askew 
and Miss 'Ria for the moment were non-existent, 



THE MUSICAL GLASSES 69 

and he fancied, nay, he felt sure that in Aimee's 
glance he detected a kind of answer to the 
feeling, a secret sympathy, an attitude of 
trustingness and appeal. 

She wore — but what did it matter how she 
dressed ? She would never look like any other 
woman, or rather, no other woman could 
ever look like her. An indescribable freshness 
and purity of outline, an exotic daintiness and 
finish, lent this girlish figure in light muslin its 
stamp and charm. There was, moreover, 
a self-possession and sparkle about every 
act and word that made outsiders forget her 
dependence. 

' Here we are. Miss Aimee, all waiting ijn- 
patiently for the " Battle of Prague ", or the 
" Siege of Valenciennes ",' exclaimed the Rector. 
' Well, how did your pupils say their prayers ? 
Any to be whipped to-morrow ? ' 

' Really, Zachary,' put in Mrs. Pascoe, ' you 
would have Mr. Flindell think that you are 
a second Dr. Busby to your children.' 

' They deserve one sometimes, I'm sure,' was 
the blunt reply. ' But thump away. Miss 
Aimee, or supper time will be here. " The 
Battle of Prague" first, and the ''Siege of 
Valenciennes " afterwards.' 

' No, indeed,' lisped his wife. ' Mr. Flindell 



70 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

must hear the girls' duet, when Miss Aimee 
has got through her first piece.' 

' Thump away, I tell you,' repeated Mr. 
Pascoe. ' I will explain the movements to our 
neighbour as you go on.' 

Mrs. Pascoe 's musical albums of former days 
were now discarded. ' Rory O'More,' * Sich 
a gettin' upstairs,' and other delightful melodies 
of her girlhood being superseded by Rondo, 
Divertimento, and even Sonata. But as a 
drawing-room piece, and a touchstone of do- 
mestic virtuosity, Kotzwarra's chef d'oeuvre still 
held its own. Every young lady who could 
show herself off at all, played with ' The Battle 
of Prague '. 

' You'll hear what a wonderful composition 
it is,' said the Rector. ' The march to battle, 
the word of command, the signal cannon, the 
bugle horn, the trumpet-call, and the attack. 
On my word, that 's music, if you like.' 

If Amy Richmond, as she was often called, 
thumped away on the old-fashioned square 
pianoforte in good earnest, it was hardly her 
fault. Musical excellence meant this sort of 
thing, as much thunder and lightning as folks 
could get for their money. 

Away flew those nimble fingers, bringing out 
the utmost possible din from the well-worn in- 



THE MUSICAL GLASSES 71 

strument, bloodshed and battle triumphantly 
rendered by flats and sharps, arpeggios and 
staccatos, allegro and crescendo. 

* Eljang bullets ! ' said the Rector, nudging 
his guest. Mr. Pascoe always followed the 
performance, music in hand, an edition having 
for frontispiece the scene thus made subservient 
to sweet sound. Thereon was represented 
naively as in the Bayeux tapestry, fort and 
plain, foot-soldiers and cavaliers, hand-to-hand 
combat and fury of contending hosts. 

' Horses galloping ! Don't you hear them ? ' 
continued Mr. Pascoe, beating time on his knee ; 
* and now, rat-tat-tat, boom, boom, boom, 
that 's the beating of drums, the roar of cannon, 
those loud notes. Can't you fancy you see the 
poor fellows, hear the shrieks of the wounded ? 
Well done. Miss Aimee, feelingly you give this 
part, and now comes the trumpet of victory, 
and '' God save the King " to wind up with. 
But why we should ask God to save the King 
of Prussia, I don't see.' 

Mrs. Pascoe laughed away the unclerical 
speech with a * Really, really, Zachariah ! ' 
Meanwhile Mr. Flindell was trying to frame an 
appreciative remark. He dared not blurt out 
his honest opinion, namely, that the squeaking 
of pigs seemed equally melodious in his ears; 



72 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

but Aimee's extraordinary skill, for that he 
felt no praise could overshoot the mark. And, 
music apart, this evening spent in her company 
was pure enchantment. 

' And how do you like the piece ? ' asked his 
hostess sweetly. Mrs. Pascoe ruled nursery and 
schoolroom with the severity of her husband, 
but dissent was rampant, parsons and parsons' 
wives could not make too much of the orthodox. 

* Oh ! you mustn't ask me, Mrs. Pascoe,' 
cried the farmer. ' Where the pianoforty is 
concerned, I don't know a heron from a hern- 
shaw. But if I might be so bold as to ask it, 
I'd like a song.' 

* Let Miss Aimee sing " In my Cottage near 
a Wood ", my dear,' put in the Rector good- 
naturedly. ' Then we will have the girls' duet, 
and go to supper.' 

Aimee turned to the visitor before re-seating 
herself on the music-stool. 

' I shall always think of Mr. Flindell's kind 
help on Sunday when I sing now,' she said, 
addressing herself ostensibly to all, but in reality 
to one. 

The farmer was dumbfounded. Then, of 
course, he stammered out quickly the opposite 
of what was in his mind. 

' It isn't worth while doing that ! ' 



THE MUSICAL GLASSES 73 

' Well, Mr. Flindell, I have arranged something 
else in the way of a choir,' said the Rector. 
' Now for the song.' 

Aimee turned her face to the piano and began 
in a pretty, not untrained voice, this sentimental 
Rosa Matilda ballad then in vogue : 

*In my cottage near a wood. 

Love and Rosa now are mine, 
Rosa ever fair and good 

Charm me with those smiles of thine. 
'Rosa, partner of my life. 

Thee alone my heart shall prize, 
Thee the tender friend and wife. 

Ah, too swift Life's current flies ! 
'Linger yet, ye moments stay. 

Why so rapid is your wing ? 
Whither would ye haste away ? 

Stay and hear my Rosa sing. 
*Love and you still bless my cot, 

Fortune's frowns are for our good. 
May we live by pride forgot. 

In our cottage near a wood ! ' 

Poor although music and words were, both 
were unpretentious, and not devoid of a certain 
artless grace and plaintiveness. After the flashy 
clap-trap that had gone before, Moreland's 
ballad seemed melody indeed, at least to the 
naive hearer. Mr. Flindell hearkened as if the 
very heavens had opened, letting in angelic 
minstrelsy. 



74 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

There was no opportunity of thanking the 
singer. Hardly had she reached the key- 
note when all were hustled into the dining- 
room. 

' We must have the '' Siege of Valenciennes " 
another time/ cried Mr. Pascoe ; then he added, 
for the blustering, burly Rector dearly liked a 
joke, ' Come, Mr. Flindell, you are a lady's 
man, I know ; just look after Miss Aimee, and 
help her to what she wants.' 

There was intoxication of milder kind about 
the supper-table, with its floral centre-piece, 
its silver forks, table-napkins, hereabouts 
a great and aristocratic novelty, cut glass 
saucers of confectionery, and claret-jug. The 
farmer did his best to behave like others, 
manipulated the unaccustomed silver forks 
gingerly, and took care not to cut his bread 
or misuse his knife. Aimee sat beside him, 
but he dared not look at her, much less open 
a conversation. 

* Mr. Flindell,' exclaimed Miss Gassy — ^Miss 
Pascoe, as she insisted on being called — a big, 
good-looking, but ill-finished girl of fifteen, * we 
want a ride in your waggon ; ma says that 
clergymen's children may do anything, and we 
should so love it.' 

* Gassy, my love,' lisped her mamma, ' Mr. 



THE MUSICAL GLASSES 75 

Flindell will, of course, understand my meaning. 
Had he daughters of his own I am sure he would 
not permit them to ride in his waggon. With you 
and Lady Louisa's children ' (Lady Louisa was 
a distant relation of the Rector's wife, who 
occasionally visited her) 'the case is quite 
different ; you will never have anything to do 
with the farming people, and so need fear no 
familiarity.' 

' When I begin to cart you may have a ride, 
and welcome, missy.' 

' All of us ? ' asked Anna, the second girl, a 
hoyden of twelve, dressed in the delectable style 
of the day, low-necked, short-sleeved frock, 
barely reaching to the knee, and white trousers, 
tucked and starched, all but touching the 
ground. 

' The waggon would hold you all, I fancy,' 
said the farmer, seeing in this scheme a delight 
for himself, ' and if you come at bever time; 
and your ma doesn't object, you shall taste 
bever cake and harvest beer.' 

The child clapped her hands in ecstasy ; truth 
to tell, in spite of plate, cut glass, and claret-jug, 
the nursery fare at the Rectory was Spartan — 
home-made bread, often a week old, a scrape 
of dripping by way of butter, and dough-cake 
just floured with seeds and coarse sugar. To 



76 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

sit up to supper, when visitors came, was a treat 
of the first water. 

' I shall be very pleased to send them all under 
Miss Aimee's care. It will be quite a picnic for 
my poor darlings,' Mrs. Pascoe lisped ; she ever 
spoke thus endearingly of her children, although 
as good at spanking as the Rector, ' and so like 
you to propose it, dear Mr. Flindell ! ' 

' May we go to-morrow ? ' asked Anna. 

'As I said, I haven't begun carting yet, 
missy, but I'll let your ma know when I do. 
You must come to see the last waggon brought 
home trimmed with boughs and flowers, and 
hear the harvest-folks sing.' 

The matter being happily settled, host and 
churchwarden discussed the proposed choir. 
Yes, it was quite impossible to go on in this way 
any longer. The Bishop and the parishioners 
must be appealed to, a fund raised for purchase 
of a second-hand organ, a choir formed. 

It was past ten o'clock when the farmer 
quitted the Rectory. As the night was dark 
he did not betake himself to field paths, but 
kept the turnpike road, to-day hardly less 
fragrant and solitary. Sweetbrier and honey- 
suckle scented every inch of the way. The 
very genius of peace brooded here, and such 
influences of time and place harmonized with 



THE MUSICAL GLASSES 77 

the wayfarer's mood. His sweet and wholesome 
nature was unconsciously alive to the evening's 
experience, a feeling of rapture took possession 
of him, a feeling more akin to spiritual revelation 
than mere hope and joy. 



CHAPTER VIII 

AMONG THE HEN-COOPS 

Amma sallied forth into the orchard, one part 
of which was dotted with hen-coops. It was 
her business to tend these late broods the last 
thing, scatter com and refill saucers with water. 

A miller's cart stood at the back gate, and 
naturally where the flour-sacks are, there will 
the miller be also. 

Without once turning her head, but all the 
time quite well assured of Tat Turtle's move- 
ments, Amma now went from coop to coop, 
replenishing the red earthen saucers, and scatter- 
ing corn from her quart measure. As thus 
engaged on her knees a voice of lover -like 
insinuation whispered in her ear : 

* I've been a'lookin' for you high and low, 
Amma.' 

' I hope you don't think I've been a'lookin' 
for you,' was the brisk reply. 

Amma understood, none of her sex better, 
the worth of sheer outspoken contemptuousness 
in dealing with the other. Show a man that 
you don't care a farden' for him, and he will 



AMONG THE HEN-COOPS 79 

crawl on his hands and knees before you, was 
her favourite dictum, a dictum on which she 
acted. Hence her enviable position ; every 
damsel hereabouts owned a lover. Amma could 
boast of a round dozen. 

Now the miller's son was not like Saul, the 
son of Kish, a choice young man and a goodly. 
Outwardly, Tat Turtle possessed few attractions. 
The much-despised Ebenezer was by far a finer 
specimen of humanity to look at, being tall and 
well-proportioned. His rival, on the contrary, 
was short, thickset, and pugnacious of feature. 
The elder Turtle enjoyed a wide reputation for 
personal strength. In the matter of thews and 
sinews no one would vie with him ; none dared 
encounter him in the wrestling-ring. The 
younger prided himself upon the inheritance 
of these qualities. He, in turn, promised to 
be the strong man of his own generation, as 
his father had been that of the preceding one. 

But Tat Turtle occupied a different social 
position to that of Amma and her family. His 
sisters were apprenticed to dressmakers and 
milliners at Ipswich, and were called ' Miss ' 
this, ' Miss ' that ; his father had an account 
at the bank, went to the poll on election days, 
fulfilled the office of churchwarden and actually 
took in a weekly newspaper. 



80 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

In view of these considerations it might be 
supposed that Amma's manner would change, 
become softer, more engaging. But no, the 
saucy little baggage was as consummate a 
coquette as Calypso herself ! In dealing with 
the men-folk, she knew well enough what she 
was about. 

The swain stood arms a-kimbo, watching the 
adorable figure before the hen-coop. 

* No, I'm not such a gaby as to expect any 
attention from you,' he replied, moving a step 
nearer. 

Amma was now kneeling in order to push 
her saucers through the bars. 

With a sudden movement he now stole behind 
her, bent down and kissed the dainty neck, 
set off by snow-white, turn-down collar and pink 
ribbon. 

With a movement deft as his own, the young 
woman raised her bowl and threw it backward, 
the culprit receiving the full contents in his 
face. 

He mopped himself briskly, his lover-like 
ardour not at all damped ; on the contrary, the 
deliciousness of that stolen embrace seemed 
thereby enhanced. Inadequate payment for 
another were a veritable ducking ! 

* You confounded little hussy,' he cried, * I've 



AMONG THE HEN-COOPS 81 

all the mind in the world to get into my cart 
and drive away.' 

' And why don't you ? ' coolly asked Amma, 
rising and making for the next hen-coop. 

' Just let me finish, will you ; get into my cart 
and drive away without saying what I had to 
say, was what I meant.' 

' You'll be coming again this side of Christmas, 
I daresay,' said the maiden with an air of 
absolute indifference. 

' Some news will keep and some won't,' the 
young man replied, his voice and manner 
thrilling Amma, despite her careless attitude. 

He drew nearer, this time for the purpose of 
speaking low. 

' Father 's had some money left him,' he 
began. 

' Is that all ? ' quoth Amma, feigning dis- 
illusion ; ' why, I thought at least you had 'listed 
as a soldier, or was goin' to Ameriky.' 

The uncomplimentary suggestions evoked a 
yet more lover-like glance. 

' Father 's a' going to take a farm,' he began. 

' Fine parts you'll be puttin' on then,' in- 
terrupted the girl. ' I think I see you a'drivin' 
to market in a gig, your hat shinin' like master's 
o' Sunday.' 

' Father wants me to marry,' said the adorer. 

194 G 



82 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

' He wants to be rid of you, well he may,' 
quoth the adored, looks and behaviour saying : 
' and pray what is your marriage to me ? ' 

' You're not to talk to any one about this, nor 
about something else either. I shall be asked 
in church with you or nobody, that 's the long 
and the short of it.' 

' The short, most likely. Lor', Tat, you must 
have been under your father's beer -tap, drinking 
the barrel dry ; as if he would ever let you go 
to church with a poor mawther like me.' 

* When I do a day's work for him and take 
a day's wage I am bound to please father. 
When I take a missus, I take her to please 
myself ! ' Tat said gallantly. 

' My ! ' said the young woman, ' how fine you 
do talk. Tat. But how contrary things do 
happen to be sure ! I've given Miss 'Ria 
warnin' ! I'm going at Michaelmas to a place 
in the shires.' 

' No, you're not,' was the sturdy reply. 
' Father 's in a hurry to see me settled, and I'm 
in a hurry too.' Just then the speaker caught 
sight of Mr. Flindell by the gate. 

' Teddie will think I've been looking at his 
walnuts,' he added hurriedly. ' Good-bye then 
till Sunday.' 

With all the aplomb imaginable, for, compared 



AMONG THE HEN-COOPS 83 

to Ebenezer, Tat Turtle was a finished man of the 
world, he shouted : 

' Hullo, Mr. Flindell 1 What might you think 
of asking for your nice little brush of walnuts ? ' 

The farmer made for his interlocutor, and 
Tat, nothing loath, awaited him among the hen- 
coops. Amma went on with her task. She 
held aloof from the pair, never once looking 
back. 

A pretty girl is the poetry of the workaday 
world, and Tat Turtle knew no other. When in 
their survey the two men moved nearer that 
slim figure his heart gave a leap ; when she was 
hidden by the fruit-trees, the place seemed 
empty. 

' You've got a beautiful lot of damsons too, 
I see, Mr. Flindell,' he said ; having discussed 
the walnuts, he contrived this excuse for further 
loitering. 

' They're worth nothing, for sale I mean,' 
replied the farmer ; ' if your people make 
damson cheese they're welcome to a peck or 
two.' 

What a sight was that orchard as the sun 
sank ! No need was there of lover-like raptures 
to turn it into a scene of enchantment. The 
veteran trees were laden with fruit, damsons 
making a soft blue cloud here and there; in 
G2 



84 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

striking contrast, the old-fashioned buUace, its 
pale yellow globes just touched with crimson ; 
patriarchal too, was every pear and apple tree, 
some of these evidently in the last stage, yet 
like serene old age, beautiful to the last, bent, 
leafless branches being adorned with mellowing 
fruit. The orchard, with every other feature 
of Walnut Tree Farm, had no pretension to 
symmetry or horticultural art, but damson trees 
had been grouped in one spot, pear trees in 
another, and so on ; their especial fruit and 
foliage being massed together ; fragrant and rich- 
hued above all was the walnut-leaf now tingling 
with warm sunshine. 

Farmer and miller strolled hither and thither, 
neither, perhaps, accounting to himself for his 
secret transport. Nature and its varying aspects, 
like life and its accidents — birth, marriage, and 
death — ^was taken very much by these country 
folks as a matter of course. They no more went 
into raptures over a fair prospect or a lovely 
sunset, than into depths of despair at bereave- 
ment or calamity. Existence here was singularly 
free from complication, simple to artlessness, 
yet sane and robust. 

Why were the peace and pleasantness of this 
familiar scene so brought home to the two men 
to-night ? Such rosy glow, such wafted balmi- 



AMONG THE HEN-COOPS 85 

ness, such placidity were things of every day, 
yet both seemed conscious of all for the first 
time. 

Tat Turtle tasted by anticipation the bride- 
groom's happy portion, dark eyes to shoot their 
ineffable glances, a brisk tongue making merry 
the hours, a second and more piquant presence 
to enliven his home. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE LAST WAGGON 

Perfect weather had favoured the harvesters. 
Mr. FhndelFs stack-yard showed a goodly array 
of wheat stacks, only one field now remained to 
clear, that field dedicated to rustic ceremonial, 
festive song, and love ! 

From time immemorial the return of the last 
waggon had been here celebrated with exuberant 
joy and triumph. Boughs and posies decorating 
the piled-up corn, reapers and their women-folk 
accompanying it with merry chorus. 

At the Rectory all was delight and expecta- 
tion. Capacity for affection and docility had 
not been wholly spanked, cuffed, and boxed out 
of its turbulent little crew. These innumerable 
boys and girls were ready enough to like their 
governess, when not interfered with after 
Spartan fashion. Let alone. Amy Richmond 
would have found her task supportable. To- 
day, however, not a ripple troubled the surface. 
Nursery and school-room treats were as rare 
as when the lonely little Princess Victoria had 
trundled a hoop in Kensington Gardens ; a plum- 



THE LAST WAGGON 87 

cake on birthdays, the annual flower-show at 
Ipswich, a bag of nuts, oranges, and gingerbread 
from the May Fair, were here the only extras. 
No wonder, therefore, that Mr. Flindell's invita- 
tion put one and all into extravagant spirits. 

At last came the ecstatic moment of depar- 
ture. Singing, pirouetting, shouting. Amy's 
little troop poured into the cool, umbrageous 
Drift, leading from the turnpike road to Mr. 
Flindell's stack-yard. The afternoon was sultry. 
Blowsed and scarlet were alike harvestmen and 
gleaners, even this delicious avenue seemed 
heavy with warmth to-day. But the children 
exuberated, and Amy too, breathed the air of 
romance. 

The farmer's brown eyes now shyly, yet 
adoringly, meeting her own, now brightening 
with kindliness and quiet humour, had of late 
changed daily routine and the current of her 
ideas. A girl can no more help dreaming of love 
than a stripling of bridegroom's rapture. 

It was the sense of entire freedom, also of 
feminine supremacy, that rendered Mr. Flindell's 
homely fete so exhilarating. A woman's un- 
erring instinct told her that these simple pre- 
parations were not all made for half a dozen 
boisterous children. Would Gassy and Anna 
have noticed whether he wore high-lows, and 



88 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

was in his shirt sleeves or no ? Would the little 
ones be any the wiser for his semi -Sunday and 
market garb ? When their host met them at 
the stack-yard gate, she saw that he wore well- 
polished boots and pepper and salt tweed sur- 
tout. Above his black silk stock showed a rim 
of white collar; a new handkerchief of rich 
oriental pattern, in orange and crimson, pro- 
truded from his pocket. His bronzed, ruddy 
face was close-shaven. Alike in dress, person, 
and manner, the well-to-do tenant-farmer was 
here admirably represented. 

' There is the waggon, it will soon be unloaded,' 
he said, pointing to the bright blue waggon with 
red wheels inside the stack-yard. ' And here 
comes Smy with the bever.' 

For a moment the children were literally 
transfixed with delight. Even the coming ride 
was forgotten, lost in anticipation of another 
kind. There came Smy, muttering and making 
grimaces, as was his habit, his odd, crooked little 
figure bending under the weight of two enormous 
frail-baskets, the one piled to the brim with 
bever cakes, the other showing a two -quart 
stone bottle of harvest beer, drinking-horns, and 
goblets. 

' I don't want to make these little ladies' and 
gentlemen's heads go round, so I have sent to 



THE LAST WAGGON 89 

the " Barley Mow " for some ginger-pop. 
They'll like it better, I'll be bound, and it 
don't make folks' tongues run on,' explained 
the host. 

The children clapped their hands and danced 
for joy. Ginger -pop and a penny bun had ever 
rewarded them after the agonies of tooth- 
drawing, and now they were to have as much 
of it as they wanted, and bever cake to boot, 
without the dentist and his horrible forceps. 

Wriggling and writhing, curling and uncurling 
his mis-shapen limbs, mouthing and mumbling, 
Smy contrived to free himself from his burden. 

' Mussy on us, I've to go back. Miss 'Ria says, 
another prog basket 's a' waitin',' he said, 
pausing a moment to mop his face, that small 
face, monkeyish as it was, an anticipatory argu- 
ment in favour of Darwinism, yet alert with 
boorish wit and rude good nature. 

' I s'pose we're all a' going to eat for a week,' 
he added ; ' leastways, I'll match the best at 
that game, if I have a chance.' 

Busy as were the harvesters, two atop the 
half-stacked wheat, two pitchforking the 
sheaves from the fast -emptying waggon below, 
they found time for a joke. 

' That 's it, Smy, don't go without anything 
for want of axing,' said one. 



90 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST . 

' Miss 'Ria 's a' callin' you, Smy,' said 
another ; ' she'll have you by the ears if you 
don't mind.' 

' And be sure not to stop a' nannicking with 
Amma,' cried the third. 

The fourth just showed his ivory teeth, but 
said nothing. Too busy for jest or merriment 
to-day was the Lord of the Harvest. From 
sheer force of habit, Elisha's heart now rejoiced 
unenvyingly in the plenteousness around him 
— the piled-up corn he had helped to sow, reap, 
and garner ; the abundant evidence of a rich 
and prosperous season. By the time Smy's 
comical figure re-appeared, the waggon was 
empty, and the fascinating business of packing 
in began. First, Mr. Flindell aided Elisha to 
stow away the frails and arrange a seat of sacks 
for Aimee and her eldest pupil ; next the ladder 
was adjusted for their use, the rest preferring 
to do without. Scrambling up with the agility 
of sailors boarding a ship, aiding themselves by 
wheel and shaft, the noisy little troop took 
possession; a few minutes more and they 
were off. 

Aimee had not a vestige of sentimentality in 
her composition. But the isolation of depend- 
ency, the natural hauteur of clerical employers, 
made the least show of interest and liking, 



THE LAST WAGGON 91 

especially in the other sex, welcome indeed. 
Occasionally she had chaperoned the elder girls 
to some neighbouring vicarage or rectory, when 
a dance would be improvised. That sleek young 
curate who should invite a governess to quadrille 
or lancers must expect a covert reprimand. 
The governess's business was at the piano, her 
share of the evening's gaiety the playing for 
others. 

Upon one occasion a visitor from London, 
not, however, in holy orders, had committed the 
transgres'sion. 

' Arn't you allowed to ? ' was the rough yet 
good-natured query of a young lawyer, whom 
she refused. 

She was certainly ' not allowed to ', although 
the condition formed no part of agreement. As 
Mrs. Pascoe blandly observed : 

' Miss Aimee was uppish about many things, 
but she did know her place.' 

The girl's pride served to stave off humiliation. 

' Oh ! that dear little man, he will fall, I am 
sure ! ' cried Esther Ann, at sight of Smy 
climbing to his seat. 

The small mis-shapen figure at the last 
moment had caught hold of a dangling rope, 
and fixing one foot firmly against the shaft, 
literally swung in mid-air. 



92 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

' Don't you be afeard, missy,' said Elisha, 
smiling gravely ; ' Lor's a' mussy, he 's as safe 
as a tomtit on a laylock bough.' 

That slight perturbation over, how delightful 
the jig-jog through field and lane, how enthral- 
ling the present moment, how blissful the 
moments to come ! Leaning on the edge of the 
waggon the children sang, shouted, danced, 
hurrahed. The thumps and bumps, the jerks 
and lunges by the way, only heightened their 
enjoyment. It was so much pleasanter to ride 
than go afoot, and so much more delightful to 
ride in a waggon than be mewed up in papa's 
four-wheeler ! 

On Aimee equally had the spell fallen. She 
knew well enough that her presence, and her 
presence only, made the farmer's festival. He 
said little, readiness of speech was not Edward 
Flindell's strong point, but a certain reticence, 
a shy, almost tearfully joyous glance — an 
impulse to speak held in constant check, these 
things may be more eloquent than any words. 

And alike wooded lane, corn-field, and pightle 
echoed with the stock-dove's note, that low, 
tender, unwearied call, as if it were the very 
genius of love summoning its votaries, the one 
voice of all to which none of mortal bom are 
wholly deaf ! 



THE LAST WAGGON 93 

' Halt for bever 1 ' 

' All right, my lord.' 

Squatted under a hedge near harvestmen and 
waggons, the children had impatiently awaited 
the summons. 

' When are the frails to be unpacked ? ' little 
Esther Ann had asked again and again, almost 
crying of hunger and impatience. The Rectory 
dinner, always called lunch for gentility's sake, 
had been dispatched earlier than usual ; visions 
of bever cake eaten abroad took away all relish 
from cold boiled beef and flour and water 
dumplings. Tantalizing too was the sight of 
Smy standing between the prog baskets, as he 
called them ; now the little Jack-in-the-box 
of a man poised himself upon one foot, now upon 
another, his small, sharp eyes watching Elisha 
Sage, his ears alert, not for a second that 
railing little tongue of his still. Expletives, 
jeers, innuendoes poured forth in a veritable 
cataract. 

' My lord, indeed,' quoth he, ' his whistle 
don't wan't whetting as mine do, I'll lay, or he 
wouldn't stand there, a'lookin' as grave as the 
prophet Elisha himself. Come, Master Sage, 
here we be hungry and dry, and the clock gone 
four. If it warna for these little ladies here, 
wouldn't I creep up unbeknown and give you 



94 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

a kick in your hinder part ? Lor's a mussy, 
how folks would split with laughin' to see him 
sent half -across the field. Tomtit, he called 
me 1 I'd Tom-tit him, if it warna harvest time, 
and he lorded it over master's old ale.' 

Thus he muttered and ejaculated, Amy 
answering the child's question. 

' Esther Ann, what can you be thinking of ? 
Don't you know that we've all changed places 
like the people in Arabian Nights ? Elisha Sage 
is Grand Vizier. Were the Archbishop of 
Canterbury here himself he would have to wait 
for cake and ale till yonder good man gives 
permission.' 

Hardly was the mechanically uttered bidding 
out of Elisha's mouth than the scene changed. 
With the swiftness of stage machinery, rakes 
and pitchforks were laid aside, horses tethered 
under the shade, then in a long file, as soldiers 
summoned to bivouac, the harvesters sat down, 
each provided with a small frail containing 
stone bottle and cake. Hilarity reigned. 
Settling-day, Harvest home, and Largess -spend- 
ing were near. The crowning labours of the 
field would soon receive crowning reward. None 
now took full harvest wages o' Saturday nights. 
Ahke full-bodied, three-quarter men and hud- 
derens, had a balance due for extra work, that 



THE LAST WAGGON 95 

balance to be paid when the last load of barley 
should enter the stack-yard. 

Mr. Flindell and his guests sat under the same 
hedge a hundred and odd yards off, Smy acting 
the part of waiter. For the matter of that, 
ceremony was set aside. With his huge clasp- 
knife the farmer now cut off large hunks of 
bever cake, first serving Aimee, then her pupils. 
Next he bade his whimsical cup-bearer tilt the 
heavy stone bottle of ' old harvest ', himself 
holding a battered silver goblet. Bright and 
sparkling as sack or canary, effervescing as sea- 
foam, the potation he now proffered, Aimee 
the beloved toasting him with a smile. 

' If I live to be as old as grandmamma, now 
in her ninetieth year, I shall never forget that 
draught,' she said, restoring the goblet. 

He stared as one whose senses reeled with 
reckless drinking. Edward Flindell was as 
temperate as a man could well be. He had never 
been drunk in his life till now ! Smy, mutter- 
ing and gesticulating all the while, had begun 
to serve the children. Pop, pop, pop, went one 
ginger-beer bottle after another, the little tip- 
plers shrieking with delight, clamouring for 
more and yet more. Mr. Flindell's dazed expres- 
sion soon changed to one of rapture ; if only 
he could have put that rapture into words 1 



96 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

There was something incongruous in Aimee's 
reminder of a nonagenarian, the coupling of 
vision so exquisite with bald, toothless, wrinkled 
age 1 The hinted hold on memory, the notion 
of being recollected throughout a lifetime, the 
implied interest in himself, could but arouse 
passionate thoughts. Without the ability to 
say so, he felt that existence now possessed only 
one meaning for him. Edward Flindell had 
ceased to belong to himself. The world of every 
day seemed slipping from him as the solid globe 
slips from the balloonist. 

' It is only old harvest ale,' he got out at last. 
* We farmers cannot offer anything better than 
we have.' 

The speech was modest to humility : intoxicat- 
ing as had been her words, doubt and self- 
depreciation succeeded to rapture. How could 
creature so dainty, a young lady able to speak 
French and play the pianof orty, care for a tenant 
farmer without eddication ? What had she in 
common with dairy -maids and market-women ? 
How unsuited those slender white fingers for 
the churn and the bake -oven, the business of 
pickling hams or making gruel for sick cows 1 

Men and women only read each other's 
thoughts by fits and starts, at rare intervals, 
and under peculiar circumstances. Well aware 



THE LAST WAGGON 97 

of her host's embarrassment, with feminine 
intuitiveness imputing it to the true motive, 
her thoughts ran thus : oh, heart of gold, thou 
art then mine, mine 1 This young girl was 
neither mercenary nor a coquette, but with the 
revelation of triumph came day-dreams of less 
romantic kind. Hitherto existence had been 
hard ; schooled in human nature and versed in 
fortune's caprices, she knew, none better, the 
pricelessness of modest independence, the dignity 
of an assured position. This unpretending, but 
prosperous, tenant farmer, was as the fairy 
prince to Cinderella. 

Meantime the picnic went on gaily. Deep 
hidden emotion yields to happy circumstance 
and the exigences of the moment. Edward 
Flindell could not be loquacious or mirthful, 
but he could enjoy things in his own way. The 
children's voracity evoked a quiet smile. 

' I am glad the little folks don't find bever 
cake amiss,' he said. 

' We had dinner, lunch I mean, but, of course, 
the little ones' dinner, earlier than usual,' 
replied Miss Gassy, adding, with the patronizing 
air learned of her mother, ' and if we ate nothing 
you might think that what you offered us was 
not good enough.' 

' Pray eat all you like,' Mr. Flindell replied, 
H 



98 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

his huge clasp-knife being in constant requisition. 
The glossy brown loaves rich with currants and 
spice were disappearing as if by magic. 

Love knows not the commonplace. The 
Beloved can never speak, behave, or look after 
commonplace fashion. Whilst thus employed, 
the farmer's attention was wholly given to the 
distracting figure opposite. Aimee wore fine 
black silk mittens setting off ivory hue and 
glossiness of taper fingers and rounded arm. As 
she daintily broke off bit after bit of her cake 
he contrasted the action with the children's, 
that ravenous sticking into their morsels with 
the teeth, that cramming and stuffing as if for 
a wager. 

Then her voice, vivacious, yet gentle, by no 
means monotonous, yet never abrupt, and 
graceful diction, how unlike his housekeeper's 
rasping speech, interlarded with invective, or 
even sister Martha's blunt utterances ! Most 
of all did her looks betoken superior birth and 
bringing up ; fair as those of court beauties in 
Martha's Keepsake were this girl's features, 
a certain composure and self-control adding 
dignity and charm ; no frowns, twinkling of 
the eye, compression in pouting of the lips, no 
contortion, whatever her humour might be. 
Miss Maria Studd, on the contrary, knit her 



THE LAST WAGGON 99 

brows, nodded, winked, gesticulated with every 
syllable. 

When, in Scriptural phrase, every one had 
eaten and was filled, he rose, stone bottle in 
hand. 

* I must go to the men now,' he said. ' Per- 
haps the little ladies and gentlemen will like to 
cut boughs and gather posies with Smy till the 
last waggon is ready. There are plenty of pretty 
flowers in yonder barley field.' 

Aimee and her charges set ofi. Smy following, 
he too, as he forcibly expressed it, ' being full 
to the bung-hole.' 

Mr. Flindell made for the harvesters. 

' That 's it, Teddie,' shouted Nat, the sheep- 
shearer ; like all wits, he was no respecter of 
persons. 'We've been a'longin' for your old 
harvest, Teddie dear, as David for the water of 
the well at Bethlehem.' 

The farmer took no notice. Such sallies 
formed part of the season's programme. Walk- 
ing straight up to Elisha he put the stone bottle 
in his hand. Then as silently, amid jokes, 
shouts, and guflaws, the Lord of the Harvest 
made the round, filling each man's drinking- 
horn. Bever ended, carting went on more 
diligently than ever, the children and Smy 
being busy enough in the adjoining field. 
H 2 



100 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Amid this sea of pale gold, wave upon wave 
of ripe barley, bright flower-heads showed here 
and there, the corn-cockle of deepest carmine, 
the wild periwinkle, blue as a baby's eye, 
fiery -red poppies, wild marigold, and purple 
loosestrife. Smy creeping along the stetches 
could gather these, but it was the hedgerow 
that attracted the children. 

' That will do for nosegays, now for the 
green boughs and garlands. Master Smy,' they 
cried. 

Obedient to their behest, the little man 
climbed bank and tree like a squirrel. With 
shouts of delight, Aimee's pupils pounced upon 
each treasure as it fell, now a trailing mass of 
honeysuckle, traveller's joy, and wild rose, now 
a branch of sycamore, with its pale yellow 
tassels, now an oak bough showing many an 
acorn. 

If entrancing this task, even more so was that 
of decorating the last waggon, for all here could 
lend a helping hand. 

Whilst the Lord of the Harvest and his men 
covered the piled-up corn with greenery and 
flowers, Aimee and the children garlanded 
horses and harness. Elisha's favourite, Smiler. 
must have his necklace of poppies, the rest their 
floral adornments. 



THE LAST WAGGON 101 

'On my word, a boneiy indeed," ol!/^>erv^ed 
Mr. Flindell, eyeing the waggons. 

It was evenfall when the joyous business of 
preparation began ; twilight faded ere it came to 
an end. Then indescribably beautiful, and only 
to be faintly suggested, became that rustic 
scene. The group of harvesters had now con- 
siderably swelled. One by one came wives and 
sweethearts to participate in the jubilation, and 
add to the general air of festivity. From his 
perch on the piled-up sheaves Elisha caught 
sight of Karra's pale, emotional face, Ebenezer 
of Amma's slim figure. The presence of their 
womankind, the only amiable influence they 
knew, rendered these toilers all the gayer, more 
expansive. They whistled, sang, shouted, with 
the self-abandonment of Burgundian vintagers. 
Troubles and hardships were forgotten, jollity 
and rollicking fun held sway. 

Hitherto the prevailing loveliness had been of 
subdued hues and mellow sobriety. 

Amid pearly tints the sun went down, light 
clouds just touched with purple and rose soon 
giving place to soft uniform greyness. For 
a brief spell cornfield and hedgerow, waggon and 
harvesters formed part of a neutral landscape, 
outlined features hardly deeper in tone than 
their dim surroundings. 



102 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

But all at once, just as* sudden passion trans- 
forms a beautiful nature, so was this scene 
changed, enriched, glorified. 

It was the rising — rather, revelation — of the 
harvest moon ; here came no heralding illumina- 
tion, no preparation rays, as at sunrise. This 
vesper world, so uniformly grey and quiet the 
moment before, now seemed afire. From that 
resplendent orb, trembling above the horizon, 
emanated a glory wrapping heaven and earth, 
and perhaps, although unconsciously, not a soul 
here but was impressed by the sight. Every 
year rose the harvest moon, brightest, largest, 
most irradiating of the year, yet the experience 
lost not novelty. Folks gazed and adniired as 
if they had never seen it before. 

At last, noisily and joyfully, the procession 
moved off, some before, some alongside, others 
behind the waggon. 

' We are clergymen's children, remember, and 
can do anything,' Gassy had reminded her little 
brothers and sisters. 

So the six abreast fell in with the others, 
brandishing rakes, cheering, hurrahing lustily 
as any. 

Just behind followed their host and governess, 
the farmer having no word to say, Aimee's 
sprightly talk ended. Side by side they kept 



THE LAST WAGGON 103 

measured pace, the fact of such nearness afford- 
ing new, unaccountable pleasure, were indeed 
pleasure the word ! That long, joyous spell 
of holiday, that understanding brought about 
by simple happiness mutually shared, had 
changed to deeper, untranslatable feeling. In 
such moods speech is indeed not needed. It 
suffices for lover and beloved to breathe the 
same air, gaze on the same scene, take part in 
the same event. 

The long wooded Drift, more beautiful than 
ever, thus irradiated, was now left behind, and 
the stack-yard reached. 

Here, as the wreathed, garlanded waggon 
turned, the procession broke up ; instead of 
a long file, the harvesters and their guests 
formed a compact crowd at the gate. A final 
cheer, and the glorious evening would be over. 

' Have a care, Aimee,' cried the farmer ; 
almost unconsciously he had called her by her 
French name of such sweet significance. 

Around the stack-yard, separating it from the 
thicket, was a deep ditch, partly choked up 
with brier and undergrowth; as the waggon 
turned in, folks fell back so eagerly that there 
was barely standing-room. In ignorance of the 
pitfall Aimee suddenly receded, her cavalier's 
outstretched arm being only just in time to 



104 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

prevent a mishap. For several minutes she 
stood thus imprisoned, no one before them 
stirring an inch. Unable to utter a word, Mr. 
Flindell held her tight, the pair trembling, weep- 
ing, smiling. Passion suddenly awakened to 
consciousness is slow to find expression, deepest 
feeling is shy to unutterableness. These two 
had now only one thing to say, but although 
voiceless, each reached the other's heart, probed 
the other's nature. The tell-tale kiss, the one 
kiss that has no fellow, which fates us against 
our will, did duty for words. 

How could the farmer know that her lips 
would meet his own with such utter self- 
abandonment, that indeed she was waiting for 
it, soul and body suddenly his, and for life ? 
These things are riddles. 

' Make an errand to Ipswich next market 
day,' was all he whispered. ' My gig is as good 
as yours, you know.' 



CHAPTER X 

A MIDNIGHT SUMMONS 

From broken yet happy slumbers, with sweet 
dreams, the farmer was rudely awakened. 

That low thrice-repeated knock, that hushed 
yet so clearly reiterated ' Mr. Flindell, Mr. 
Flindell,' could not surely belong to dream- 
land ? 

He rose in his bed and felt the hands of his 
large old-fashioned watch, long habit enabling 
him thus to dispense with flints and tinder-box. 
It wanted a few minutes to midnight. 

' Mr. Flindell, Mr. Flindell,' cried Miss 'Ria, 
in the same penetrating undertone. ' You must 
get up at once. There is not a moment to lose. 
Don't stop to strike a light.' 

The door was now opened an inch, and a rush- 
light in a chamber-lantern pushed through, bed- 
room candlesticks being as yet a luxury. 
Thinking that fowl-stealers were about, or that 
a horse had been seized with the gripes, neither 
being infrequent occurrences, Mr. Flindell 
jumped out of bed and into his nether garments. 
A minute later the door was thrown wide. 



106 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

There stood Maria Studd, like himself, clothed 
certainly, but presenting an unaccustomed vision 
to bachelor eyes. The little woman, perhaps, 
showed to no disadvantage in her mixed day 
and night gear. The frilled night-cap quite 
becomingly set off twinkling black eyes and 
ruddy cheeks, whilst the plaid shawl, thrown 
over bed-gown and ' coat ', as underskirt was 
here called, although displaying well-turned 
stockingless ankles, at the same time answered 
every requisite of decorum. 

The farmer's eyes seemed elsewhere ; nor, 
indeed, had Maria Studd just now thought of 
effect. Her power lay in a wholly different 
direction. She did not wait to be questioned, 
but blurted out — 

' Mr. Betts breathed his last exactly three- 
quarters of an hour ago.' 

' How on earth came you to know it ? 
asked the farmer, with a bewildered look. 

'Never mind that now; what you have to 
do is to saddle Jack and post to London. 
Captain de Medue I hear is at Brighton. You 
will then have a day's start of every one else.' 

Mr. Flindell tried to put in a word. 

' First come, first served, has been Captain 
de Medue 's motto more than once,' she went 
on with the same familiar peremptoriness. ' He 



A MIDNIGHT SUMMONS 107 

isn't the man to refuse a tenant like you the 
offer of the Hall Farm, when you have travelled 
over a hundred miles to ask for it. And you 
have not five minutes to lose.' 
» ' I'll tell you what it is, I don't like putting 
myseK so forward,' he said, his slow wavering 
accents in striking contrast to her own ; ' and 
how can I be away in harvest time ? Barley- 
mowing begins to-morrow.' 

She laughed derisively. 

' Can't I set the men to work every bit as 
well as yourself ? I know which field yqu said 
you should have mown first. Master Sage, too, 
wants no looking after at harvesting.' 

' You have said right there,' the farmer 
replied absently. He felt netted, entangled, 
whilst a few hours before the future had seemed 
clear as day, straight ahead as a turnpike 
road ! 

Thus, on the homeliest, as on the most splendid 
stage of human existence. Fortune ever wears 
a twofold guise. The nod of propitious fate 
must be followed, but not without anxious 
questioning and flutter of apprehension and 
lingering looks behind. 

' It won't do to stop talking, hand me your 
tail coat and black trousers, I'll go and put 
them up with a clean shirt, and something to 



108 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

eat and drink on the way. And when you're 
dressed, we'll get Jack saddled between us in 
a jiffy.' 

With that she left him. The swift shutting 
of the door cut short further discussion. Mechani- 
cally he undressed and dressed again, now 
wearing second-best or market clothes. The 
plain, practical, and welcome fact was not to 
be argued away. Complications and imbroglios 
occupying his mind a moment before might 
prove chimerical or easy to deal with. One thing 
was quite certain. He now stood a chance of 
obtaining the most desirable occupation in that 
part of the country. Etiquette in such matters 
was strict and clearly defined. No farmer, how- 
ever mercenary, would ask the reversion of 
a lease during a tenant's lifetime. His wishes 
might reach the owner's ears in a roundabout 
way ; indirectly, he might seek to influence 
him. A direct offer for the farm could only be 
made when it became tenantless by death. 
Thus, his journey savoured of nothing mean or 
underhand. Under such circumstances every 
man was free to do the best for himself. And 
the late occupier of the Hall Farm left neither 
widow, son, or son-in-law who should stand 
first. The field lay open to all. 

Moreover, he knew Captain de Medue's 



A MIDNIGHT SUMMONS 109 

character well. The wealthy Squire and retired 
Militia officer was a sharp man of business, 
a whimsicality, and the lover of a joke. This 
stealthy ride, this taking opportunity by the 
forelock, this forestalling of Widow Askew — 
and how many more rivals ? — ^would be sure 
to tickle his fancy. 

The Captain was fully alive to the advantage 
of securing a good tenant. Yes, sure enough, 
he should return from Brighton, with the lease 
in his pocket. 

Downstairs he found Miss 'Ria, now, like him- 
self, fully dressed, and holding lantern and 
cloak-bag. 

' What about money ? ' she asked, much as 
if she were already his wife. ' Will you take 
all the cash I have ? ' 

' Haven't I time to go to my bureau and write 
a cheque ? ' he asked. ' Suppose I don't get 
back in time to pay the men ? ' 

' Lor' ! how you do talk, Mr. Flindell ! As if 
I spent sixteen poiuid a year on my back ! Here 
are ten guineas, and I have more than enough 
for Saturday upstairs.' 

He brought out his knitted silk purse with 
silver rings, gold pieces at one end, silver at the 
other, and counted the former. 

' I'll take just five,' he said ; ' and you can 



110 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

square off the sum with the egg and butter 
money. Turtle, too, a\111 bring thirty shillings 
for the walnuts.' 

' Never mind the money, but be off,' she said, 
pettishly, again with familiar insistance ; neither 
wife nor sister could have testified more anxiety 
about the success of his errand. 

They crossed the farm-yard and entered the 
stable. 

At the door he turned round sharply : ' You are 
sure that poor Betts is really gone ? ' he asked. 

' As if I shouldn't be the first to know ! ' she 
replied ; ' why, Mr. Betts' nurse always sends 
to me if she wants anjrthing, and now she begs 
me to go and stay with her a bit.' 

' Who came with the message ? ' again the 
farmer asked. 

' Dick, the old baccus boy (back-house meant 
scullery, hereabouts) ; I wouldn't keep him 
a moment.' 

After a few more words on business he 
mounted horse, and at a walking pace passed 
quietly out of the farm-yard. 

Miss Studd closed the stable door with a 
significant nod. She had a habit of muttering 
to herself in such moments. As she now re- 
entered the house, little chuckling ejaculations 
passed her lips. 



A MIDNIGHT SUMMONS 111 

' I shall nab him at last/ she muttered to 
herself. 

Once out of the Drift Mr. Flindell put his 
horse to a canter. So hushed the landscape, 
and so dry the turnpike road that had it been 
frostbound his horse's hoofs could hardly have 
aroused wider echo. Bodily exercise so brisk 
precluded alike calculation and sentiment. The 
farmer could neither prepare himself for the 
coming interview, nor review the day's delicious- 
ness. All his energies must be bent upon one 
object, namely, that of reaching the London 
coach, and getting to Brighton as fast as 
possible. 

Yet a thrill ran through him as he passed the 
Rectory gate. Tears for an instant rose to his 
eyes, his Hps trembled. He pictured his Aimee 
as she lay, so fair on her white pillows, and 
wondered if she slept indeed, or in a wakeful 
moment, might hear him pass ? And true 
enough, between dream and dream, Aimee 
caught the echo. She even half rose to listen, 
then fell back with a smile. What were nightly 
messengers and the clatter of swift horses' 
hoofs to her ? How could any errand of life 
or death affect her newly-gained possession — 
a true lover's heart ? 



CHAPTER XI 

THE STOLEN BARLEY 

It was the night after Mr. Flindell's departure. 

Miss Maria Studd was no devotee of the work- 
box. Few farming women were that. What 
with kneading bread and churning butter, 
curing hams, chopping sausages, ironing, pick- 
ling, and jam-making, their hands became too 
stiff and horny for skilful plying of the needle. 
As a rule, therefore, very little needlework 
was got through by farmers' wives and daughters. 
The notion of making a gown or trimming a 
bonnet would never have entered into anybody's 
head. Dressmakers, milliners, and sempstresses 
therefore had no better customers than those 
of market day. 

Miss 'Ria, however, was consistency itself, 
and, having formed a plan of life, never in the 
least particular deviated from it. She had 
made up her mind to marry Mr. Edward Flindell. 
To this end all other aims and inclinations were 
subservient. Thus she had ever lying about 
some ingratiating reminder in the shape of 
needlework ; now a basketful of her master's 



THE STOLEN BARLEY 113 

white collars or grey woollen stockings to be 
mended, now a cotton shirt in need of collar, 
front, and wristbands. Both jobs tried her 
sorely. Not that she was near-sighted or a 
botcher, but she hated sitting still, and the 
stitching of linen shirt-cuffs seemed next door 
to oakum-picking itself. Ennui and secret 
disgust availed nothing. The heart's desire is 
no more obtained without an effort than a leg 
of mutton or a smock at fair time without 
climbing a greased pole or footing it bravely. 
To win Mr. Edward Flindell might be a far 
harder task than the winning of such prizes. 
But of success she never doubted. 

So unbroken the hush around that she seemed 
alone on the premises to-night. Fowl-houses 
and granary had been secured long before, 
ploughmen and maids snored in their attics ; 
although not yet nine o'clock the place was quiet 
as a graveyard. 

' I'll just take a look round,' she thought to 
herself. ' It 's not the first time that I've heard 
footsteps by the granary late o' nights. And 
two fowl-stealers were caught at Woodbridge 
last week. The wonder is that farmers can 
keep so much as a cat since Bobby Peel, the 
old scoundrel, abolished hanging for sheep- 
stealing ! ' 



114 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Musing thus, she put on a nankeen sun- 
bonnet, and stole out of the back-house door. 

All was quite still, only as she passed the 
fowl-house some hens more wakeful than the 
rest gave an uneasy ' cluck, cluck ' and fluttered 
on the roost. Otherwise not a creature stirred. 
Neat-house, stable, and pigsty gave no sign. 

The harvest moon shed gentle light, and as 
she reached the granary steps she noticed a dark 
object half hidden by the lower rung. Stooping 
down she felt the round smooth surface of a 
four-peck measure ; a second touch told her 
that it was piled with barley. 

To step aside, secrete herself behind the nearest 
shed, was the work of a second. Then holding 
her breath she peered and waited. 

But not long. Five minutes later she heard 
a slow, stealthy step, and discerned a tall man's 
figure making for the stolen corn. As he 
stooped Miss 'Ria pounced upon him, neither 
cat nor ferret more murderously seizing its prey. 

' You scum, you vile toad ! ' cried the 
infuriated little woman, all but throttling her 
prisoner. ' Men and maids, wake up, wake up, 
d'ye hear ? Thieves, murderers, on the premises ! 
Ebby, Zeky, mawthers, will you leave me here 
to have my throat cut ? ' 

So startling and immense the hubbub created 



THE STOLEN BARLEY 115 

by that single throat, so shrill and piercing 
Miss 'Ria's cries, screeches, yells, that not only 
were those leaden slumberers in attic and 
chamber aroused, but fourfooted and feathered 
folk in the farm -yard. Horses neighed, cows 
lowed, pigs squeaked, cocks began to crow. 
Tumbling down back-stairs, in various stages 
of undress, came 'Liza, leading the way ; at her 
heels, truth to tell, quaking with fear and only 
haK-awake, the young ploughmen ; Amma, 
always mindful of appearance and the proprieties, 
having stopped to put on slip and stockings, 
brought up the rear. 

' Lay a-hand, seize him, fetch a linen line, 
cable him to the banisters ; you, 'Liza, pop 
on your gown and run like a hare for Mr. Mump- 
ford.' Mr. Mumpford was the parish constable. 
' Amma, you go to the pightle gate and halloo 
your father,' vociferated, at the top of her 
voice, Mr. Flindell's intrepid housekeeper. ' Oh, 
you're trying to wriggle away, are you ? ' and 
with that she gave her prisoner a doughty kick. 

By a desperate effort the stalwart figure, thus 
held in a vice, managed to free his throat, but 
attempted no further resistance. There he 
stood, his knees a-tremble, *his face white with 
shame and terror, unable to articulate a word. 

Maria fell back, no less consternated than 
I 2 



116 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

himself, for a moment; the rest were equally 
overcome. 

' You,' hissed out Miss 'Ria at last. ' So it 's 
you, oh, you brazen Gehazi ! ' 

The Lord of the Harvest, for indeed it was 
he, did not reply ; his teeth chattered, he was 
shaking from head to foot. 

* What are you all a -gaping at ? ' continued 
the bloodthirsty little woman ; this capture was 
to her a moment of sweetest triumph. How 
would her employer praise such vigilance, 
appreciate such care for his interests ! ' Do as 
I bid you or you'll all repent it.' 

Then she turned to her prey : ' Well may you 
look as if you expected to be swallowed up like 
Korah, Dathan and Abiram, Elisha Sage ! To 
Ipswich jail or Botany Bay you'll go, to a dead 
certainty, picking oakum and turning the tread- 
mill in company of strumpets and card-sharpers, 
or road-mending in chains with highwaymen 
and false coiners. How long, pray, have you 
carried on this nice trade, fattening hogs on the 
sly or guzzling beer brewed with your master's 
barley ? We want spring-guns and man-traps 
for our own folks, it seems, not for travelling 
tinkers and gipsies. Nicely you've done for 
yourself ! Who do you think will give you 
a job when you come out of jail ? ' 



THE STOLEN BARLEY 117 

Crushed though he was, Elisha retorted almost 
scornfully, Amma slapping his back by way of 
encouragement, whispering in his ear, ' Give 
it to her, father, give it to her well.' 

' 'Twas neither for hog nor beer-barrel of 
mine that I filled this here measure unbeknown,' 
he said, ' but for master's own horses ' 

' And you don't call that stealing ? ' Maria 
stormed on. ' But judge and jury won't be of 
your opinion, and so you'll find out to your 
cost. Humph ! Of course, it 's the ploughing 
match you're thinking of : your horses must 
be the sleekest there ; as if Mr. Flindell starved 
any brute beast on his premises ! ' 

' The horses don't get no corn to speak of in 
harvest time, Miss 'Ria,' put in Elisha : despite 
Amma's promptings, remaining meekest of the 
meek. 

' Why on earth should they when they've 
next to nothing to do ? But don't stand there 
defying me. Into the house with you till Mr. 
Mumpford comes. Ebby, where 's the linen 
line ? ' 

Now Miss Studd knew well enough that 
Elisha was harmless as a lamb, and even if he 
had any place to run to, would no more dream 
of running away than of preparing his own legal 
defence before judge and jury. But the bare 



118 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

mention of linen line and banisters sounded 
awful in Elisha's ears. Many years before, a 
farm-yard marauder had indeed thus been made 
fast to this very staircase until the arrival of 
the parish constable. Elisha, with a shudder, 
recalled the incident which he had witnessed 
as a lad, the bemired, tattered, dishevelled 
wretch tied to the banister, with a hang-dog 
look, bearing taunts of lookers-on. And to 
find himself in the same degrading position, 
laughing-stock of his neighbours, butt of raillery 
and outrage ! 

But Miss 'Ria was reckoning without her host. 
Full of filial ardour, having charged 'Liza to 
summon Karra to the scene of action, Amma 
now placed herself between captive and captor. 
' Who lays a hand on my own father must first 
lay hands on me, his daughter lawfully begotten,' 
she cried. ' Do you suppose master's the man 
to take anything father should do for his own 
horses amiss ? Hasn't Mr. Flindell summered 
and wintered father for years and years, and 
you've only been here a twelvemonth come 
Michaelmas ? ' 

' Have a care, Amma,' Elisha said in a low 
voice. 

' There, go home and tuck yourself up in bed, 
father, do ! ' Amma continued, growing bolder 



THE STOLEN BARLEY 119 

and bolder. ' There 's nothing to be afraid of, 
you've not been stealin', only givin' the horses 
an extra bait without leave.' 

Matters seemed coming to a climax when 
Karra bustled up, her cheeks aflame, ready with 
a cataract of words ; immediately behind, 
followed Mr. Mumpford, the village carpenter 
and sole representative of law and police in 
Burridge and the neighbouring hamlets. 

' Lawk's a mussy me. Miss 'Ria, what 's all 
this bobbery about ? My husband, though I 
repeat it as shouldn't, as Mr. Flindell says, to 
be trusted with untold gold, and you a'treatin' 
him as if he was dirt under your feet only fit for 
^ the gallows.' 

To Karra, as to her daughter, this conflict 
with the unpopular middle-woman was by no 
means disagreeable. ' And what do you think 
is your business here, Mr. Mumpford ? ' she 
added, turning to the meek-faced embodiment of 
police. ' Lawk's, go home, you know Miss 'Ria, 
always a'makin' and a'meddlin' with us poor folk.' 

' Parish constable,' shrieked Miss Studd, ' do 
your duty, you see before you a night -prowler, 
a thief ' 

' No names, ma'am,' Karra cried, shaking 
her fists in the other's face. ' Law and justice 
when befittin', but no names ! ' 



120 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

' Mr. Mumpford,' again remonstrated Maria, 
' you hear this ? ' 

' And he'll hear more if he don't go back 
about his business, and that pretty quick,' 
Mrs. Sage went on. ' I'm not a'goin' to see my 
husband, as honest a man as ever wore high- 
lows ' 

' You hear her, parish constable ? ' put in 
Miss 'Ria. 

' As I say,' Karra continued, not one whit 
abashed, ' I'm not a'goin' to see 'Lishy treated 
like one of your trampin' folks caught a'fowl- 
stealin' ; home with me, his lawful wife, this 
night he'll go, in his own bed he'll sleep, and 
those who want him will know where to find 
him to-morrow, if the Lord sees fit to spare us 
all, the righteous and unrighteous together,' 
here she glanced viciously at the housekeeper. 
' Come along, 'Lishy, I say, what 's the use of 
me a'spendin' my breath to the last gasp whilst 
you stand there mute as Guy Fawkes on Gun- 
powder Plot day ? There, come along.' 

' Mr. Mumpford,' once more interposed Maria, 
this time with an air of portentous severity. 
There stood Ebby making signs to Amma, the 
linen line playfully swung over his shoulder, 
there stood 'Liza and Zeky giggling and tittering, 
and there was Karra, in defiance of all authority, 



THE STOLEN BARLEY 121 

tugging away at her husband's coat-tails, trying 
to drag him homewards. The situation was 
critical ; Miss Studd felt that her dignity, her 
authority, her very future were at stake ; that 
idiot of a parish constable not lifting a finger, 
men and maids in open defiance, and to make 
matters ten times worse, cocks crowing, hens 
cackling, ducks quacking, guinea-fowls ' come 
backing ' as if foxes were making themselves at 
home in a fowl-house! 

Meekest of the meek, and ever in terror of 
feminine tongues, Mr. Mumpford had always 
a thunderbolt in his shirt sleeve. Terrible is 
the majesty of the law, and under an almost 
girl-like exterior he knew how to brow-beat the 
most daring. 

Putting on an air solemn as that of any judge 
delivering sentence, he turned to the house- 
keeper, ' I must please put a question or two 
to you. Miss Studd.' 

' As many as you please,' was the brisk reply. 

' No offence then. Miss, but now for number 
one. Did the prisoner at the bar make an 
assault upon your chastity ? ' 

Now it spoke volumes for Mr. Mumpford, and 
the way in which he exercised his judicial 
functions that the propounding of this question 
was listened to breathlessly and with an awe- 



122 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

struck look by all ; only Maria blushed and 
smiled ; the very suggestion savoured of 
romance, and recalled sweet episodes of boarding- 
school fiction. 

' Lor, Mr. Mumpford, what are you thinking 
of ? ' she replied. 

' As I said just now, Miss, no offence meant, 
but the law is the law, and as matters stand it 's 
Mr. Fhndell who 's the plaintiff and no one 
else.' 

' I told you so ; there, come along, 'Lishy,' 
said Karra, again tugging at her husband's 
arm. 

' Till Mr. Flindell lodges a complaint against 
Master Sage, nobody else can do anything, so 
we'd best adjourn.' 

Mr. Mumpford loved legal phraseology, and 
as Miss Studd looked unwilling to let the episode 
pass off thus quietly, he added, ' You see. Miss 
Maria, we've aHabeyus Scorperusinthis country, 
and we must abide by the consequences, so I'll 
wish you good night, Miss. Master Sage, we 
know where to find you when wanted.' 

Elisha, on reaching home, still looked and 
felt the veriest coward alive. ' You see,' he 
said, ' I feel that bad and low that if the 
Ipswich police constable were to show himself, 
at the door I believe I should drop down dead.' 



THE STOLEN BARLEY 123 

' There, don't be so cut up. Take off your 
high-lows and eat your supper.' 

* I couldn't swallow a morsel, I couldn't 
really. She called me Gehazi,' Elisha said, 
gulping down a sob. 

' Oh, she'd better read her Bible, a'thinking 
of herself,' quoth Karra. ' She isn't Elisha the 
prophet, leastways, and there is no turning 
folks into lepers in our time.' 

Elisha watched his wife's face. She had not 
as yet realized the worst. 

* Drink a drop of beer,' she added, and going 
to the little cask of home-brewed harvest ale 
in the back -house, filled his pewter pint. The 
draught imparted courage to speak out. 

' You don't think I shall be sent to the 
Assizes ? ' he asked. 

' I'd raise a hue and cry through the country 
first. I'd tramp to London and petition the 
Queen, and if so be that to jail you go, 'Lishy, 
out you would soon come, like Margaret Catch- 
pole,' quoth Karra. ' With a couple of sheets 
and my clothes' line, I'd baffie judge, jury, and 
jailers as true as my name is Karrenheppuch 
and we were married in church.' 

Intensely pious as she was, of tried integrity 
also, the good woman refused to see crime, 
even wrong-doing here. The barley had been 



124 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

purloined, but for its owner's beasts, not to enrich 
the thief. 

' You haven't thought of one thing,' at last 
her husband got out, painfully anticipating the 
effect of his words. ' Master may overlook this 
business, but what if he turn me off after harvest? 
And whoever else may get to Burridge Hall, it 
won't be you and me, I reckon.' 

* There, don't talk any more, my poor head is 
all of a swim,' replied Karra, on the point of 
breaking down again. ' Try to get down a bit 
of this onion-turnover, it 's easy to swallow, and 
very temptin'. I do believe I could eat a dollop 
myself.' 

' If you will, I will,' Elisha replied. 

Karra was renowned for her turnovers ; as 
she now cut open the compound, the small 
discs of pork garnished with onions, recalled 
white marble having green veins. The sight 
was certainly appetizing. 

With one hand on his shoulder, helping herself 
from his plate as she stood, she ate a mouthful 
or two whilst Elisha made a meal. The food 
and drink invigorated ; much more power of 
resistance, mental and physical, was accorded 
by that wifely caress. There was no senti- 
mentality in these rustic partnerships, but 
wedded couples stood loyally by each other till 



THE STOLEN BARLEY 125 

the workhouse, or a kinder friend still — Death — 
separated them. 

' You go to bed, I'll read a chapter of Nehe- 
miah, first/ Karra said, when he had done. 
' We've all of us a Sanballat to laugh us to 
scorn, I reckon, but the Lord will prosper His 
servants who desire to fear His name. Why, 
you haven't taken off your high -lows I ' 

Meek as a lamb, Elisha unlaced his heavy, 
well-greased boots, and in his stockings — 
slippers being unknown — climbed the creaking 
stairs. 

Karra brought out the family Bible, a quarto 
printed in great primer and having full-page 
illustrations. Her eyesight was not over good, 
but she hardly needed a farthing dip, so at 
home was she with the cup-bearer's beautiful 
story. All country folks had their favourite 
book or chapter of the Bible, and Karra's was 
this. Devotional, resigned, the Scriptures yet 
appealed to her intellect rather than to her 
heart. In those marvellous pages she sought 
less for spiritual solace than for mental up- 
holding and enlightenment. Nor was she dis- 
appointed now. That building of the wall, 
despite scoffers and detractors, by the light of 
to-day's events seemed an allegory. Elisha 
Sage was a God-fearing man, and thus would 



126 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

his good name be re-established, however his 
enemies might strive against him. 

As later the pair lay side by side, the Lord of 
the Harvest felt a certain sense of security steal 
over him. The heavy sleep induced by weari- 
ness at last closed their eyes. And not even the 
thought of jail came as a nightmare, not even 
the echo of Miss 'Ria's threats could disturb 
those leaden slumbers. 



CHAPTER XII 

AT THE TURNPIKE GATE 

The longed for comes at last, and next market 
day Aimee woke up to an all too happy world. 
Everything had turned out well. 

' Mr. Pascoe will take the dear children to 
Ipswich to-day, and give each a haKpenny to 
spend as a treat, not one having been whipped 
for a whole week,' lisped out Mrs. Pascoe, after 
breakfast, which consisted of bread and milk, 
or bread and treacle for the younger fry, 
dripping toast and weak tea for the elder. 
' So, the afternoon is at your own disposal, 
Miss Aimee ; unless, indeed, you prefer a quiet 
reading of Corinne with myself.' 

' Thank you,' was the quick reply, ' but 
I particularly want to go to Ipswich this after- 
noon.' 

' Ah ! there are the requisites for Cassy's 
wax-flower making. The dear child is wild 
with delight at the thought of her first lesson, 
and I confess I long for the result. What so 
decorative in winter as wax-flowers ? But five 



128 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

shillings, Miss Aimee, remember, I camiot go 
beyond that sum. These accomplishments will 
soon compel Mr. Pascoe and myseK to forgo 
warm underclothes, and winter at hand ! Do 
you hear, my poor darlings ? ' 

Although well accustomed to threats quite as 
distressing, the young faces fell. Sad, indeed, 
it seemed, that on their account poor mamma 
should have to leave off buying flannel petti- 
coats, and papa his woollen vests ! But thus 
were things ordered. They had been taught 
to regard themselves as so many trying dis- 
pensations. How this had come about they 
did not understand. 

Once again lesson time went off like a rocket, 
and Aimee found leisure to finish that long, 
ecstatically fond and blissful letter to her 
mother begun at dawn. There could not be 
any possible reason for concealment. Mr. 
Flindell was no Lovelace, whose pastime it was 
to win and break maidens' hearts. This sober 
farmer, with the kindly brown eyes and 
humorous smile, would never, she felt sure, 
tread on a worm, much less wrong a fellow- 
creature, especially a woman. His whispered 
charge was nothing else but a declaration, an 
honest offer of marriage. ' Mind and make an 
errand to Ipswich next market day,' he had 



AT THE TURNPIKE GATE 129 

said — * my gig is as good as yours,' Such words 
from a man of his stamp and calibre could mean 
nothing else. 

One nail drives out another, but love in 
a sound, wholesome nature intensifies rather 
than weakens prior affections. Immediately 
after Aimee's first sense of triumph, the con- 
sciousness of empire over a manly nature, came 
a second and hardly less overwhelming joy. 
That sorely tried, ever fond and anxious mother, 
what would be her delight and satisfaction at 
this good news ? Her father, too, how he would 
revel in the thought that his child would not 
grow pinched and grey in dependency ; instead, 
become a happy wife, mistress of a highly 
respected, substantial house. The woman, how- 
ever deeply she may be in love, is of necessity 
more prosaic, less given to romance than the 
man. A girl's existence is entirely altered, her 
lover's only modified, by wedlock. He can give 
all his thoughts to sentiment, she must perforce 
dwell on worldly circumstances. Aimee was not 
alone in thus counting up welcome accessories, 
anticipating in detail altered and happier for- 
tunes. 

This wealthy farmer, so at least he seemed to 
her, knew nothing, would never know anything 
of the petty carking cares amid which she had 

194 ^ 



130 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

been brought up. And who could tell ? The 
prosperous union might end in another circum- 
stance longed for if less romantically, yet with 
deep pious fervour. Already she saw her 
parents settled within reach of their daughter, 
perhaps under Mr. FlindelFs supervision, like 
their frugal but independent neighbours in 
France, cultivating a few acres, living upon the 
produce of their labour. 

The crossed and re -crossed letter folded and 
wafered, dinner over, the Rector's phaeton off, 
she set out for the turnpike gate. Mr. Flindell 
was a very punctual man, and never spent more 
time at market than he could possibly help. 
His turn on the Corn Exchange and general 
business over, in company of Samuel, and per- 
haps a neighbour or two, he would take a glass 
of sherry at the ' Crown and Anchor,' putting 
down a shilling without taking change, ' for 
the look of the thing,' then drive home. 

She knew when he was sure to quit the Drift, 
and of course he would neither be too early, nor 
too late on this especial occasion. The after- 
noon was intensely hot, but weather so glorious 
accorded with her exuberant spirits. She had 
perhaps bestowed less thought on her toilette 
to-day, knowing well that the Beloved can do 
no wrong. Yet no neater, daintier figure, and 



AT THE TURNPIKE GATE 131 

certainly no happier, tripped under that bright 
heaven. 

Every sound of wheels flushed her cheeks 
and made her heart beat quicker. Already she 
seemed to see the lover-like glance of those 
kindly brown eyes, to hear those shyly uttered 
words, hardly needed by way of supplement. 
Neither looks nor speech indeed were needed. 
She knew it, oh 1 how well she knew it ; his 
heart was hers. 

One, two, three gigs came rattling behind her, 
but without slackening pace as they approached. 
Should she stroll on, or await him under the 
tall shady hedge ? But no, folks might talk, 
better reach the toll-bar in the ordinary way. 
If any one else offered her a seat she could 
frame an excuse. She stole a hasty glance or 
two at her watch, smiling at impatience so 
foolish, so uncalled for. In his anxiety not to 
miss her, Mr. Flindell would naturally start 
a little later than usual, whilst she had started 
a good quarter of an hour earlier. 

As the moments wore on, her listening powers 
became painfully acute, yet, she asked herself, 
why hearken to gig wheels with such desperate 
eagerness ? His own were only a little behind. 

When at last the turnpike gate came in sight 
the buoyant step dragged slowly, the slight, 
K 2 



132 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

graceful figure showed signs of lassitude, the 
face, so radiant a few minutes before, showed 
unmistakable signs of suspense. 

Good Mrs. Pipe, standing at her post, her left 
hand full of small coins, nodded cheerfully. 

' All the Burridge folks be gone, Miss Aimay, 
but Mr. Pain, of Battleigh, will be here, I dare- 
say ; he 's a family man, you can ride with 
him.' 

Over Aimee's features flashed a look of 
anxious inquiry. Only half interpreting it, the 
toll-gate keeper added : 

' It 's no use a-waitin' for Mr. Flindell. He 's 
in the shires — somewheres the other side of 
London anyhow.' 

Pride for the moment got the mastery. 

' I'll just stroll on, thank you, Mrs. Pipe,' 
Aimee said, not giving the good woman time 
to notice her scarlet cheeks and rising tears. 

Once more alone on the high road, disappoint- 
ment, mortification, and wounded self-love 
would have vent. She felt inclined to take 
a field-path home and seeking some secluded 
spot, there weep her fill. 

' How cowardly, how cruel ! ' she murmured 
between her sobs. 

The first impulse was soon checked. Wiping 
her hot cheeks and subduing her tears, she 






AT THE TURNPIKE GATE 133 

hastened on, her little head higher than usual, 
her slender feet self-assertively striking the 
ground. Schooled in adversity, not without 
experience of the human heart, Aimee de 
Richemont possessed one priceless treasure, 
one goodliest, unpurchasable gift, namely, an 
adequate share of feminine pride. No woman 
should ever be lessened in men's eyes through 
conduct of hers, no masculine arrogance be 
increased by her own self -depreciation. Ah, 
that self -depreciation of her sex ! For how much 
wretchedness, debasement and folly has this 
vice to answer ! 

It naturally crossed Aimee's mind that 
Mr. FlindelFs behaviour meant one thing and 
one thing only. He had repented of his advances 
and was drawing back. Otherwise, why no 
letter ? How easy for him to have sent a line, 
or even a message ! The Rector and his wife 
would, of course, comment on either. Well, 
were his intentions straightforward and manly, 
what of that ? Nor did the shires lie at the 
Antipodes. Every morning the postman 
brought London letters, and from distances 
beyond, the transit now occupied only twenty- 
four hours. 

' Can I offer you a seat, ma'am ? ' shouted 
a bluff, good-natured vcfice close by. 



134 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Indignation had blunted, as hope had just 
before sharpened, her hearing. There sat jolly 
Farmer Pain in his high gig, and she had never 
so much as heard his wheels. 

She jumped in, smiling her thanks, and the 
pair drove off at a brisk trot, for Mr. Pain was 
late. 

' Time out of mind I've seen you a'driving 
with the Burridge folks, but I don't know who 
you be ? ' he said, by way of opening con- 
versation. 

An uncommonly genteel girl, thought the 
family man ; wouldn't I like her for Abraham ? 

Abraham was his eldest son, a prosperous 
fellow, but a bit of a clown, holding a nice little 
occupation in an adjoining parish . ' Eddication ' 
was now beginning to be thought of in the 
farming world, many a governess having 
settled down as a farmer's wife. 

Mr. Pain loved to joke young ladies about 
matrimony ; it was indeed considered a com- 
pliment among his set, and topics of conversa- 
tion were few and far between. 

* Yes,' Aimee replied, forcing herself into 
composure, ' I am governess to Mr. Pascoe's 
children, and we often go to Ipswich on market 
days.' 

' Mr. Flindell, of Burridge, has took you up 



AT THE TURNPIKE GATE 135 

in his gig sometimes, hasn't he ? ' asked the 
farmer. 

' Yes,' again Aimee said. ' The children 
dearly love a drive, and Mr. Pascoe's four- 
wheeler won't hold us all.' 

' Come now,' pursued her good-natured con- 
ductor, * shall I tell you what I think ? Drivin' 
to market, you know, often ends in drivin' to 
church.' He just tickled his horse's sides, 
quickening the pace. ' There was Miss Crisp, 
teacher to Squire Chaplin's young 'uns. She 
can play the pianoforty and spell anything, 
such a beautiful writer, you never see'd ; well, 
Mr. Simpson, of Stowe Farm, my neighbour, 
married her last year, and a notable wife she 's 
turned out to be.' 

' I think I have seen them driving to market,' 
Aimee got out, feeling compelled to say some- 
thing. 

' And I shall see you doing the same some 
day, I'll lay. With all your learning you 
wouldn't look down on a farmer, if he be a 
proper sort of a man, would you now ? There's 
Ederd • Flindell, what a husband he'd make, 
sure-ly ! ' 

Aimee felt that her powers of endurance were 
giving way. 

* I will ask you to set me down at the '' Wool- 



136 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

pack," please/ she said, desperately, keeping 
back her tears. 

' Just where you like, and if you want a lift 
home, be at the '' Crown and Anchor " yard 
before five. You know I'm a family man, and 
my old woman won't be jealous.' 

' Thank you, I may be very glad to accept 
your offer,' the poor girl replied ; then, to her 
great relief, he said no more. 

' Lord ! ' muttered the farmer, as he watched 
her spring to the ground, curtsey, and hasten off. 
' I'm blowed if I ever set eyes on such an ankle, 
and such a stocking, so fine you can see through 
it, and fitting like her skin ! ' 

A rucky , ill gartered, above all, soiled stocking, 
was regarded as next door to disreputableness 
by country folks. Aimee, schooled in French 
fastidiousness, was, to use Farmer Pain's 
expression, ' a right down pictur' as she jumped 
down ; a queen couldn't be better shod.' 

Hastily and excitedly she got through the 
afternoon's business, making her way back on 
foot. Oh, to be hundreds of miles away, she 
thought, to take farewell of once too happy, 
now ever hateful Burridge, for once and for all ! 



CHAPTER XIII 

DRAWING THE STETCHES 

Mr. Flindell did not return. 

After several days of alternating hopes and 
fears the Lord of the Harvest felt himself again. 
Hilarious Elisha Sage had never been ; exhilara- 
tion was a mental phase absolutely foreign to 
this as to other sons of the soil, but passiveness, 
perhaps conscious resignation, did duty for joy. 
Elisha, no more than his fellows, was religious 
in the ordinary sense. His mood partook 
rather of philosophy. Things were as they were 
because the Almighty so willed it ; no one with 
a grain of good sense could affirm that they 
might not be better. 

Teddy Flindell was an upright man, very exact 
in business dealings and it seemed unlikely 
that he would pass such a dereliction by ; on 
the other hand, his head-man had worked on 
Walnut Tree Farm, year out and year in, for 
welhiigh forty summers. Surely he would not 
let his mind be poisoned by that cross-patch, 
that meddlesome hussy. Miss 'Ria, and pay 
him off after Halloo Largess, to say nothing of 



138 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

going to law ? With Largess -spending harvest 
virtually ended, odd hands were dismissed, 
wages dropped to the normal. 

What if the woman did get her way, and for 
the first time in his life he had to look out for 
a job ? The neighbours too ! Elisha felt as if 
wasps and earwigs were stinging him when he 
conjured up Jerry's offensive wink and Lyddy's 
still more odious smirk o' Sundays. 

Then the hudderens, they meant no kind of 
harm, poor lads and knew no better, but they 
could no more help jeering any one in evil 
plight than the little children of Bethel could 
help mocking his awful namesake of the bald 
head. 

On this especial morning depression had 
fallen from him as a garment. It was a ravishing 
day to begin with ; delicious the fragrance of 
turnip fields, bright the heavens with swiftly 
scudding, silvery clouds, untouched by autumn 
as yet the rich foliage of Drift and pightle. But 
for Elisha the charm lay elsewhere. 

For the first time since harvest he resumed 
the plough. In company of his favourite Smiler 
he was to spend the long day a-field, from seven 
in the morning till three in the afternoon, 
drawing stetches, by force of natural aptitude 
and habit making them straight as mathematical 



DRAWING THE STETCHES 139 

lines, the accomplishment having won for him 
local renown. 

For just upon thirty years Elisha had drawn 
stetches, and his horses had been regarded as 
so many comrades. But cart-horses, like 
human beings, are not all formed after one 
pattern ; there are degrees of intelligence, 
docility, and affectionateness. Now, Smiler, in 
Elisha's eyes, resumed all the excellencies of his 
species, and, having never known any other 
master, had attached himself to him with dog- 
like devotion. 

' As true as I stand here,' he would say at 
ploughing matches, ' that there animal knows as 
much as most folks that can speak. I believe 
that if he had but a tongue he would answer 
Bible questions before the best scholar of the 
Sunday school.' 

But for the capacities of the enormously strong 
lamb-like creature he should never have won 
kettle after kettle at the ploughing match. 
Smiler had an eye for a straight line and turned 
at the sound of ' Come hather ', and ' Wouree ', 
the ploughman's call to right and left as a soldier 
at drill. Tim^ his yoke-fellow, was an excellent 
beast, but between Tim and Elisha existed no 
such understanding and sympathy. 

* And lor' bless you,' he had often said over 



140 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

his pot of ale at the 'Barley Mow', 'though 
book larnin' hasn't done it, there 's as much 
difference between those two horses as between 
parson and myself.' 

Much pride too he took in Smiler's beauty, 
and in his own adornment of fine proportions, 
sleek coat, and long tail. Smiler was far and 
away the handsomest animal of his kind to be 
seen for miles round, and like all Suffolk cart- 
horses possessed a long plume-like tail, which 
was combed, brushed, braided and trimmed 
as tresses of a court beauty. A wealth of fancy 
and fondness was lavished upon this task, and 
no equine hairdresser in those parts was here 
so skilful as Elisha. Not Karra's poetic reputa- 
tion, not Amma's facility of repartee, not the 
good character of his hudderens, more elated 
him than Smiler's repute. 

Well pleased then was he once more to breathe 
the air of the fallow and freshly turned earth. 
Scythe and sickle meant good fare and jolly 
comradeship, but at the same time strain and 
sweat. The autumnal job of carting manure 
from Ipswich was not to his taste. He little 
relished the pot-house talk of town loafers, nor 
the coarse jokes of ostlers. Here he had the 
broad field and Smiler to himself. 

What does the ploughman think of all day 



DRAWING THE STETCHES 141 

as he automatically draws stetch after stetch ? 
Perhaps none could answer the question, but 
the hours pass, and not so slowly as lookers-on 
might think, Hunger, not ennui, is found in 
the husbandman's vocabulary. 

On this especial evening, as he was turning 
into the Drift, more cheerful than he had felt 
for days. Miss Studd called him back. The 
events of that terrible evening had never once 
been mentioned since. 

' Master Sage,' she said, with the tone of 
every day, ' you're not to go a'ploughing to- 
morrow, but to ride Smiler to Mr. Sammel's, so 
your master writes word. Take the fields and 
don't heat him. I daresay you'll get a lift home 
by the road.' 

Elisha stood stock-still, his mouth agape. 
Not Jerry Hammond himself could have looked 
blanker, more tongueless just then. 

The housekeeper fumbled in her pockets and 
brought out sixpence. 

' You're sure to get victuals and drink at the 
house,' she said, ' but here 's something for 
a pot of beer on the way home.' 

Still Elisha looked positively moonstruck, his 
tongue clave to the roof of his mouth. He had 
become white as when surprised at the granary 
steps. 



142 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Not till he saw her turning away did he 
manage to stammer, ' Arn't I to bring that there 
horse back, Miss 'Ria V 

' No, Master Sage, Mr. Sammel wants the best 
cart-horse your master can spare, and the best 
is no other, he says.' 

' You're right there and no mistake,' almost 
groaned Elisha, Miss 'Ria paying no attention, 
her thoughts seemed elsewhere. Without waiting 
to hear more she went indoors, merely pausing at 
the back-house scraper for a parting injunction. 

' Have a good look at the horse's shoes afore 
you start,' she shouted, ' those lanes are good 
tightly rough.' 

The Lord of the Harvest waited for a moment, 
all the manhood having gone out of him. Then 
he moved a step or two in the direction of the 
house, a wild, almost insane, impulse prompting 
him. He would seek his master and out with 
a bold : ' Mr. Flindell, if so be that Smiler goes 
for good, you'll pay me off come Saturday.' 

But an instant later his true position flashed 
upon him. ' As things had happened,' he asked 
himself, * what right had he to put on such parts 
and farins (behaviours) ? Why, master may be 
a'turnin' me off o' Saturday anyways, and how 
should I look then ? ' 

The thought came too, though not to stay. 



DRAWING THE STETCHES 143 

that his favourite horse was thus to be got rid 
of as punishment for having been held too dear. 
But no, Teddy Flindell was not the man to 
give any one a back-handed slap, and besides, 
the stolen corn had fed Tim as well ! Was it 
Miss 'Ria's doing, a nasty turn of her contriving ? 
Women were more crafty than men-folk, there 
was no circumventing a female, and the harridan 
owed his missus a grudge. Again, he negatived 
the idea. No, Mr. Flindell was about to take 
the Hall, stock, crop, and valuation ; he had 
a horse or two to spare, and Mr. Samuel, as he 
knew, had lately lost one by the gripes. Things 
were merely taking their course. 

Nevertheless Elisha could not shake off a 
certain sense of retribution. What else was the 
loss of his favourite but the penalty of wrong 
doing ? And right was right and justice is 
' justice in small matters as in great ; why had 
he not left the barley alone ? 

Put in another way, perhaps his self-reproach 
really ran thus : Why had he not kept the stolen 
bushel out of Miss 'Ria's sight ? The com cer- 
tainly was Mr. Flindell's, but so were the horses' 
bellies. Here lay a metaphysical problem beyond 
his capacities to solve. So many peccadilloes 
seem pardonable to most folks unless found out ! 

He said nothing of the next day's errand to 



144 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Karra. For the first time in life he felt that the 
wife of his bosom could not comfort him, and for- 
tunately that night she was not chattily inclined. 

As they sat down to their pork and onion 
turnover, bread a week old, and flet cheese, 
it became evident that her thoughts soared 
upwards. Whilst Elisha drew deep draughts of 
home-brewed from his pewter pot and she sipped 
her tea, she said : 

' Lawks' a mussy me, 'Lishy, my head is that 
a'runnin' on Sanballat and the rhymes accordin' 
that I forgot to bile you a tater. Sanballat and 
ballad go together, but ballad isn't a Bible word, 
and salad is wus, not but that the Egyptians 
had leeks and onions, but we don't hear talk of 
'em being served with mustard and vinegar.' 

She did not inform him that she was inditing 
a parable in verse appropriate to passing events. 
'Lishy was no king's cup-bearer like Nehemiah," 
to be sure, nor was Jerry quite a second Horonite, 
but had he not winked last Sunday as her 
husband passed by, and did she not know as 
well as he could tell her what that wink meant ? 
Miss 'Ria, the spiteful hussy, had, of course, let 
the cat out of the bag, and made the most of 
that paltry corn ! Well, in good time, she'd 
hear of herself too, perhaps even read of herself ! 
Karra's literary ambitions as yet remained secret. 



CHAPTER XIV 

' NEVER, NO MORE ! ' 

Next morning Elisha was up earlier than 
usual. 

* I shan't be in to dinner, master's sendin' 
me on an arrand/ was all he said as he left the 
cottage, then swallowing a little beer and stuffing 
a chunk of bread and cheese into his pockets, 
he set off for the stable. To-day Smiler made 
a spectacle even for urban eyes, that wonderful 
coat of his shining like burnished copper, the 
long flaxen plume, not a hair out of place, 
artistically coiled. 

And the animal world has its little vanities 
no less than the human. Conscious of beauty as 
strength looked Smiler, thus prepared for no 
common occasion : so much the sagacious animal 
divined. For his toilette varied as that of his 
master's ; it was not the same when drawing 
stetches for Mr. Flindell or before crowds for 
a prize kettle. 

Thus Elisha had tidied but not be-Sundayed 
himseK. His coarse whitey -brown shirt was 
speckless, his corduroys not ' seated ', i. e., 

194 ^ 



146 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

patched in the nether region ; over his red 
waistcoat he wore a linen slop. 

The day promised to be one of extraordinary 
splendour, but at present brilliant heavens were 
a promise only. Dew lay heavily on bank and 
hedgerow ; like jet gleamed blackberries amid 
leaves of bespangled vermilion, of frosted 
silver seemed every spike of wild oats or barley. 
No Raja's diadem ever scintillated as did way- 
side fruitage and leaf under the swiftly ad- 
vancing sun. 

From end to end of the level landscape came 
notes of stock-dove and field-lark, whilst every 
coppice rang with chirps and pipings, and 
around every wayside pool flashed kingfishers, 
wagtail, and yellow-hammer. Rural England 
of sixty and more years agone yet remained 
a bird-haunted, bird-beautified land. In lane 
and spinney folks listened to woodland singers, 
instead of identifying them in that mausoleum 
of animal life, the Natural History Museum. 

Upon any other occasion, such a journey to 
Elisha Sage would have been an adventure, 
holiday of rare and instructive kind, as such 
to be made the most of. His eye would have 
remained wide open during each inch of the 
road; for weeks after, his tongue would have 
been loosened at home, at bowls and in the ale- 



' NEVER, NO MORE ! ' 147 

house parlour. To-day he coasted meadow 
and field, hardly glancing around him. Nothing 
arrested his gaze, neither young stock at grass, 
pigs acorning on the fallow, pyramidal wheat 
and barley in wayside stack-yards. With a 
dejected, almost morose face, he pursued his 
way, no more pitiable figure under that mellow 
heaven. 

' Halloo, Master Sage, it is you with the 
horse, is it ? ' shouted Samuel, cheerily, as he 
caught sight of the pair. ' There 's nobody 
handy about just now, but we'll bait him and 
then you can go indoors and have a bit of wittals 
yourself.' 

Unlike his brother, Samuel Flindell was a 
garrulous man and asked twenty questions 
whilst the business of stabling Smiler went on. 
Elisha dawdled and dawdled, but his companion 
was not to be got rid of. The farmer must talk 
to somebody, the perpetual sound of his own 
voice constituting a necessity of existence 
second only to that of air itself. His listener's 
capacity was quite a secondary matter. 

When at last they left the stable, he said : 

' That horse is turning his head round, he 
knows you're leaving him, I'll lay, but he'll 
be well off here, never fear.' 

Elisha did not look back, he felt in a dream. 
L 2 



148 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

They entered the kitchen where all was bustle 
and activity. Martha and her maids were in 
the midst of ham-pickling, on the hob simmered 
a boiler of harvest beer emitting spicy odour, 
one stout wench plied pestle and mortar, a 
second carefully deposited hams in earthen pans, 
whilst the mistress stirred her seething com- 
pound. 

' Mornin', Master Sage,' said Martha. ' Just 
sit down, will you. Thank Mr. Ederd kindly 
for setting us up with a horse. We have had 
a sad misfortune with one of ours, as you know. 
Poor creature, how he suffered, sure-ly, and took 
his gribbals (gripe-balls) like a Christian. But, 
lor bless you, never were so many horses carried 
off by the gripes as this year ! Well, sit down. 
Here, Sukey,' she added to the wielder of the 
pestle, ' lend a hand with the boiler, but don't 
pour out till I come back.' 

Away she went to draw Elisha's pot of ale 
and fetch his bait from the store-room, her 
jolly mawthers nothing loth. What so much 
interests every Eve as the first Adam she meets ? 
Sukey and Sally relished the society of the 
other sex above all things, and during their 
mistress's brief absence contrived to obtain 
what did duty for a flirtation. Elisha Sage, in 
his own words, had never ' nannicked with 



' NEVER, NO MORE ! ' 149 

a female in his born days/ but he was a man, 
as such to be made eyes at, joked and giggled 
with, flattered into coquetry. These buxom 
lasses did not lack admiration of a certain kind ; 
what a Transatlantic writer calls ' the pathos of 
unsought women,' was a pathos wholly unknown 
in this Arcadia. But an Adam was an Adam 
whether comely or ill-favoured, sober pater- 
familias or dashing heart-breaker. 

' I say, Suke,' said Sally, looking up from her 
ham pan, ' aren't men-folk good-looking at 
Burridge ? ' 

Quoth Sukey, not to be outdone, ' And I'm 
in just the trim for a kiss. But if I let this here 
blessed beer boil over, shouldn't I catch it 1 So 
you can get one for me.' 

' That 's easily done,' was the reply, and before 
Elisha could remonstrate, up sprang Sally and 
put her arms round his neck. Now Elisha had no 
natural surliness in his disposition, but he was 
just then in little mood for a joke — moreover, 
he entertained positive aversion for what in 
local parlance passed as * outdaciousness in 
a female', that is to say, want of decorum in 
the fair sex. Time and opportunity admitted 
of no fitting reproof. He had only an instant 
in which to disengage himself and quietly 
threaten the sauce-box with ' a smack that 



150 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

would send her into the middle of next week ', 
when Martha returned with a pewter pint of 
ale and a plateful of bread and meat. Elisha 
had little more stomach for the mistress's 
dainties than for her maids' rough coquetry. 
He munched the appetizing cold beef -pie hardly 
knowing what he ate, then, having swallowed 
his ale, rose to go. 

' You're very welcome, I'm sure, Master Sage,' 
said Martha, as he stammered out his thanks, 
' and Mr. Samuel left word you were to have 
a shilling, here it is, my respects to my brother, 
and good day to you.' 

At any other time the windfall of a shilling 
would have brightened Elisha' s stolid counten- 
ance. Housewives, who hereabouts always laid 
out the weekly wages, generally contrived from 
time to time to allow their husbands a few 
pence, as pocket money. Karra, indeed, boasted 
that Elisha had ever a piece of silver in his 
breeches' pocket, there to remain intact, like the 
Miss Primroses' guineas. With others, he had 
his pet luxuries but rarely gratified : a little 
tobacco, a game of bowls, an occasional half- 
pint at the ' Barley Mow,' in such items an extra 
shilling went far. To-day the biggest gold piece 
of the realm would have seemed a mere clod. 

Pulling his front hair, hat in hand, the 



' NEVER, NO MORE ! ' 151 

countryman's most respectful salute, and nodding 
to the maids, he went out, stood for a moment 
as if pondering, then crossed the back-yard 
leading to neat -house and stable. 

Just at this hour the farm-yard was silent, 
the ploughmen were afield, Mr. Samuel and his 
odd hands were busy clamping potatoes in the 
potato garden, the pigs were acorning on the 
fallow, only the flail sounded on the barn floor. 
Elisha was evidently irresolute ; should he 
make at once for the high road or take another 
look at his favourite, bid him final farewell ? 

His first impulse was to master the longing and 
stride off fast as legs would carry him. And the 
consideration for another's feelings were upper- 
most, that other the mute four-legged companion 
of years. 

Throughout the last troubled hours, indeed, 
his pity had been rather for Smiler than for 
himself. 

' I know all about it,' he mused ; ' that it 
must be so and can't he helped, but how should 
a poor dumb thing understand ? How will he 
feel when the mornin' comes, and he hears 
another in the stable ? For never no more, 
never no more, 'twill be mine, Smiler.' 

Looking cautiously to the right and the left, 
creeping along like a thief, he now hastened 



152 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

across the farm-yard, and unlatching the stable- 
door, entered softly. The gentle creature turned 
round, then, as if re-assured by the sight of his 
old master, again dipped his head into the well- 
filled bin. 

' He thinks I shall be a'takin' him home 
later,' mused Elisha, and once more hesitated, 
half turning to go. But no, if he now tore 
himself away, no good-bye said, Smiler in some 
dim way would feel tricked, heartlessly aban- 
doned. Better to make him understand the 
truth, for, reasoned Elisha, folks may prate 
as they will, some things dumb beasts under- 
stand as well as any judge and jury, better then 
to make him understand than that at night 
a stranger hand would fill his bin, next morning 
some other voice would summon him to the 
furrow, that indeed they should see each other 
' never, never no more '. Poor Elisha's piled- 
up negatives, implying as they did the climax 
of desolation, again rose to his lips. 

He approached the bin and patted the bent 
down neck: Smiler was evidently relishing his 
oats to the utmost. 

* I'm a'goin' to leave you, Smiler,' murmured 
Elisha, ' you'll see me never, never no more.' 

The voice broke down, and with a loud sob he 
threw his arms around the animal's neck. 



' NEVER, NO MORE ! ' 153 

Smiler had turned again quickly, and into his 
eyes also flashed the anguish of that artless 
adieu. The good horse realized as well as his 
master that they were parting, that they should 
never again belong to each other. No one was 
by, no need, therefore, for false shame or en- 
forced self-command. Again and again Elisha 
kissed the broad forehead, wetting it with his 
sobs. Bitterer tears the Lord of the Harvest 
had hardly shed by his little Delphie's grave 
years before, and from those patient yet how 
expressive eyes, fixed on his own so wistfully, 
tears now streamed plenteously also. The 
Suffolk cart-horse wept for sorrow as had done 
his immortal predecessor of Homeric story. 

' No more, never no more ! ' Elisha murmured, 
but the sight of Smiler's grief was more than he 
could bear. With a last inarticulate word of 
endearment he closed the stable door, as quickly 
as might be, gaining the high road. 



CHAPTER XV 

TWO SIDES TO A QUESTION 

When Edward Flindell again found himself 
at Burridge, it was much with the feeling of 
one who had just circumnavigated the globe. 
Although a bibliographer, and a man of the 
world, Captain de Medue relished homely wit 
and farming talk. He had a hundred questions 
to ask about rural affairs. His brother-in-law, 
too, wanted agricultural training for his second 
son. The lad's godmother had left him a small 
estate, and he was to spend the next few years 
as pupil in a farm-house . Flindell might perhaps 
entertain the matter himself ; a hundred guineas 
yearly was worth having. ' I should think so 
indeed,' had ejaculated Mr. Flindell. It was 
the Dean's express wish that Robert ^ould go 
to plough ; he would thus earn his keep. So, 
despite some show of resistance, the Suffolk 
farmer was carried from Brighton to Chichester, 
lodged in the Deanery, and, as he afterwards 
related, ' there saw high life, and no mistake, 
the ladies at dinner without stay or habit-shirt ; ' 
thus he described the fashion of low dresses ; 'the 



TWO SIDES TO A QUESTION 155 

valets so thick you stumbled over them ; the 
dinner -table so crowded that what with plate, 
crystal, and flowers, you couldn't find room for 
a pin.' 

Then the Captain, who was of a restless, 
mercurial disposition, bethought himself of 
sundry purchases in which Mr. Flindell's ex- 
perience would be valuable ; he wanted a horse for 
his luggage-cart, and several farm implements. 

' You must really give me a day or two in 
town, Flindell,' he said. ' We will lie at my 
Piccadilly lodging, so that you are put to no 
expense on my account, and every one visits 
London nowadays. You shall see some of the 
sights.' 

The Captain was also a fidgety, fractious 
bargainer, and by the time he had decided upon 
a horse, a sulky, a churn, and a chaff-cutter, 
little leisure remained for sightseeing. However, 
the results more than satisfied Mr. Flindell's 
wildest ambition . He saw that marvel of modern 
times, the Thames Tunnel, the legislative 
palace, in which, to quote this Suffolk farmer, 
' we are governed by the wealth and talent of 
the coimtry,' and to wind up spent an evening 
at Vauxhall, crowning experience of sherry- 
cobbler, illuminated gardens, fairy dancers, 
and a blaze of fire- works. It was a gala night. 



156 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

and the fire -works being of unusual splendour, 
positively awed Mr. Flindell. 

No wonder that he returned home with a 
bewildered mind, an aching'head and a disordered 
liver ! 

Miss 'Ria felt as nervous folk do in a thunder- 
storm when she heard her master's wheels. Did 
that slow deliberate pace indicate the depression 
of failure, or the modesty of too much success ? 
When Mr. riindeU's gig turned into the Drift 
she was, in local phrase, ' cleaning herself ' for 
tea, that is to say, putting on a stuff dress, 
fresh collar and neck-ribbon, and carefully 
readjusting the loops of hair on her temples. 
Not without visible trepidation she went down- 
stairs, key-basket in hand, Mr. Flindell meeting 
her by the doorway. 

So glum, so utterly cast down, and so wretched- 
ly ill did he look, that she concluded things 
had turned out as ill as possible. 

As a rule, none knew better when to hold the 
tongue, but, to-night, suspense got the better 
of prudence. 

' You haven't travelled all those miles for 
nothing, I hope ? ' she said, as soon as the 
door was shut. 

* No, indeed,' was the almost morose reply. 
' I have brought back a splitting headache.' 



TWO SIDES TO A QUESTION 157 

She paused, debating in her own mind whether 
curiosity might go further. Had she not a right 
to be taken into his confidence ? 

' And something more worth having, I hope,' 
she said, opening the tea-caddy. 

The keeping-room wore a warm welcoming 
look ; Mr. Flindell was a chilly subject and those 
evenings of early autumn were fresh. A bright, 
but economical fire burned on the hearth ; in 
the least little particular Miss Studd ever made 
ostentatious display of her thrift ; with thought- 
ful decision a teaspoonful or two of brandy was 
poured into his tea instead of cream, with the 
wifely remark : 

' Nothing like a drop of brandy in one's tea 
after a journey.' 

And instead of hot buttered toast, as on 
market days, she now prepared the thinnest 
possible bread and butter, adding, as she helped 
him : 

' Don't eat too much ; when one is out of 
sorts just a snack is best, and that of the plainest. 
Perhaps you would prefer a bit of dry toast, 
there it is at your elbow.' 

Could any mood fail to melt under such 
influence ? And with womanly wile, Miss Studd 
had not repeated her question, bided her time, 
every sigh of self-restraint and self-abnegation 



158 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

making Mr. Flindell feel doubly indebted. Then 
she chatted of the barley and bean harvest, fat 
stock, and the rest ; things had gone on precisely 
as under the master's eye. And as for Master 
Sage, no more purloining of barley ! She had 
taken good care of the granary key, and, well, 
of course it was not her business, but for the 
sake of example, such pilfering ought to be 
severely punished. 

All this time Mr. Flindell sipped his tea, and 
munched his dry toast with an absolutely blank 
face. Miss Studd's not more skilfully veiled 
than his own. She began to think that after 
all she had committed a blunder, that his errand 
had failed, and he lacked courage to tell her so. 
Plain-spoken, unversed in the ways of the world, 
apt to call a spade a spade, he ever shrank from 
anything like secrecy. 

At last, when the tea and cordial had some- 
what revived him, he looked up and began slowly: 

' You meant well, I know, in calling me up the 
night poor Betts died.' 

' Course I make it my business to study your 
interest in everything,' the little woman blurted 
forth with flaming cheeks and aggressively 
bright eyes. Her manoeuvre had failed then ? 
She must make the best of it. The farmer 
continued deliberately as before : 



TWO SIDES TO A QUESTION 159 

' And in course I shall always feel beholden 
to you, Miss Studd, but I am not so sure that 
I have done the best for myself, and there are 
always two sides to a question.' 

Miss 'Ria chuckled inwardly. The glow on 
her ruddy cheeks was now of relief rather than 
misgiving, the sparkle in her eyes had changed 
from suspense to triumph. Mr. Flindell would 
go to the Hall and she with him. No need for 
another word. 

' You are always afraid of something or other, 
Mr. Flindell,' was all she put in. 

' The Hall is a fine occupation, I don't deny it, 
an out and outer and no mistake, and poor 
Betts' folks would carry it on till Michaelmas 
twelvemonth I daresay, but all the same, it is 
a big business ; I've plenty to think of.' 

* Humph ! If Captain de Medue has not 
twenty applicants for this farm, you could find 
fifty to take it off your hands to-morrow, stock, 
crop and valuation. Turtle, the miller, for 
instance, you heard it, I daresay ? He has 
come into some money.' 

The farmer mused. 

* In course,' he said after a pause, ' no 
occupation in these parts is a drug in the market 
nowadays. But as I said, I have plenty to 
think about, and you know, as well as I do. 



160 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

that there were scores after the Hall ; some folks 
will owe me a grudge.' 

Miss Studd tossed her head with marked 
assumption. 

' So that 's all the thanks I'm to get for helping 
you to one of the best farms in the county ! 
But now, what about Master Sage ? You are 
surely going to make an example of him, head 
horseman too.' 

' I'll see about that at Michaelmas,' was the 
reply. Mr. Flindell had bitterly resented his 
housekeeper's action in this affair. 

* Well, all I can say is, you must take your 
choice, look out for another horseman or another 
housekeeper.' 

And with that she flounced out of the room. 

Mr. Flindell's sunburnt face took a deeper 
tone as he looked after her, but it was an 
expression of relief, not of vindictiveness, that 
came over him. 

The farmer's worst ailment was remorse. 
During the turmoil of the last few days again 
and again he had seem Aimee the Beloved as 
in a vision. Now they were taking bever with 
the Rectory children, and now side by side were 
following the last waggon. Then he recalled the 
flaming harvest moon and the strange heart- 
beating, with which had been stolen, nay, 



TWO SIDES TO A QUESTION 161 

accorded, that passionate kiss. Last of all he 
remembered his words, * Make an errand to 
Ipswich next market day. My gig is as good as 
yours, you know.' 

Ten days had elapsed since. What must she 
think of such behaviour ? The appointment 
unkept, no apology forthcoming, not so much 
as a message from him ! 

More than once indeed he had made up his 
mind, even dipping his pen in ink and getting 
as far as ' Dear Miss Aimay. I hope this finds 

you well ' But letter-writing was ever an 

onerous business to so poor a scholar, the 
composition of a love-letter seemed utterly 
beyond his powers. Again, epistles were few 
and far between in those days. Every one at 
the Rectory would know from whom Aimee's 
came, and the poor girl would be teased about 
it from morning till night. He should see the 
Rector blundering into his keeping-room with 
a blunt ' Come, come, Mr. Flindell, this is a 
case of banns, of course ? I want to know the 
when and the where,' or something of the 
kind. 

So matters stood as he drove to market the 
day after his return. And as he was loyalest of 
the loyal, and in the words of his own people, 
' would not tread on a wurrum,' as moreover, 

1QA M 



162 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

he was still AimeedeRichemont 'snot mere adorer, 
but would-be suitor, he determined to repair 
the mischief in the only manly and honest if 
not exactly prudent way. He should be sure 
to overtake her some market day soon. He 
would then put the question point blank : 

' Miss Aimay, will you go to church with me 
— on a week-day, I mean, and straight away 
come in my gig ? ' 

Thus and thus only could he state his case. 
Love-making in the ordinary acceptation of 
the word, flowery speech, compliments, were 
impossible to him. As he now.neared the toll- 
bar, suddenly his bronzed, comely features 
deepened in tone, his eyes dilated with joy, so 
confused did he become that he pulled out half 
a sovereign for Mrs. Pipe instead of the usual 
coin. There she stood, evidently waiting for him, 
the sylph-like figure arrayed as he had last 
seen it, but looking lovelier, even more be- 
witching. She carried her head high : not a lady 
in that part of the world had such a carriage, 
erectness adding great dignity to girlish bloom 
and grace. 

' Jump up. Miss Aimay,' cried good Mrs. Pipe. 
* I told you Mr. Flindell would be coming along ; 
no, no, sir, toll is as it was afore you went into 
the shires ; here 's your \half -sovering, and I've 



TWO SIDES TO A QUESTION 163 

plenty of change if so be that you are out of 
fourpenny bits.' 

With trembling hand Mr. Flindell fumbled 
first in one pocket, then in another, at last 
bringing out a shilling. Having received his 
change and asked Aimee if she were comfortably 
seated, he drove on. 

' I wanted to see you, Miss Aimay,' he began ; 
he had tickled Jack into a trot. It seemed 
easier to say what he had to say when driving 
fast. 

' And I wanted to see you, Mr. Flindell,' 
Aimee replied. 

The farmer turned round quickly. Something 
in her voice told him all. It was no longer the 
Aimee of ten days ago who sat beside him, but 
a stranger ! The voice that had seemed a caress 
in the harvest field now chilled his very veins, 
paralysed his speech, rendered him powerless 
to make an effort on his own behalf. The face 
lately so radiant, so confiding, so easy to read, 
was hard, cold, enigmatic. 

Nothing more rapidly matures the character 
than wounded self-love ; precocity of insight is 
oft-times but another name for precocity of 
feeling. Aimee de Richemont had seen more of 
the world and of human nature than most young 
women barely twenty-four. Not for the first 
M 2 



164 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

time she now smarted under the slight put upon 
dependence, not for the first time she realized the 
questionable boon that beauty may be to the 
portionless. Thus, at least, she regarded Mr. 
Flindell's affront, mere negligence, forgetfulness, 
press of business it could not surely be. 

' I wanted to say,' she continued in the same 
quick, matter-of-fact tones, * how sorry I am 
for what happened in the stack-yard. You were 
wrong to behave as you did, and I was still 
more wrong to permit it.' 

With a slight blush and just perceptible 
tremor, she added : 

' You had ever showed me kindness, and I was 
very grateful. I thought too that there was at 
least one person in Burridge who forgot my 
position, to whom it made no difference that 
I was a poor governess.' 

' Miss Aimay,' began the poor farmer (he was 
on the verge of crying), ' I've never deceived 
any living creature yet, leastways a woman. 
No such thoughts as you speak of ever entered 
my head.' 

' We need not say another word about the 
matter,' she went on, her composure and readi- 
ness of speech only adding to his own confusion. 
* But I waited for you at the turnpike gate 
because I had this to say, and because I may not 



TWO SIDES TO A QUESTION 165 

have another opportunity. I think of going 
back to France.' 

* Miss Aimay,' again began the farmer, 
desperation not lending eloquence, but at least 
restoring powers of utterance, ' I had to go away 
on business ; I am no scholar or I would have 
written to say that I could not be at market 
last Tuesday, and if you'll go to church with 
me, I'll liave the banns asked as soon as you 
like. No man can say more than that.' 

Aimee's cheeks reddened haughtily. 

* Nay, Mr. Flindell,' she retorted, ' you 
utterly misunderstand me. The indiscretion 
was chiefly mine ; it was not to obtain redress 
from you that I sought this interview. You 
are under no sort of obligation, and shameless 
indeed were any woman so to punish a man for 
his folly.' 

Mr. Flindell was crushed. What weapon of 
self-defence had he with which to meet that 
ready speech, those proud, castigating glances ? 
More helpless than ever he felt thus confronted, 
thus worsted at the first blow. Oh ! for skill 
in words. Oh ! for the power of laying bare 
his thoughts ! 

'I wish I could make you understand,' he began. 

' We had much better not say another word 
on the subject,' was the unconciUating, perfectly 



166 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

composed answer. ' And that reminds me, 
Mr. Pascoe would be glad if you could send him 
half a load of straw for the stable. I was within 
an inch of forgetting his message.' 

Just then a neighbour passed slowly, greeting 
the pair as he drove by, the farmer, making 
a tremendous effort, swallowed his tears and 
put on a semblance of every day. But for the 
life of him he could not feign a smile or get out 
more than a monosyllable. Aimee asked him 
about his journey ; how had Brighton struck 
him ; what did he think of London ? and so 
on. ' Yes, no, no, yes,' her companion made 
answer, to-day not lengthening the drive as 
usual when having her by his side ; on the 
contrary, he was as eager as herself to have 
it over. The pair meantime looked straight 
ahead, and had it been otherwise neither would 
have read the other's thoughts. Passion may 
blind or confer double vision, rendering men 
and women inscrutable, maybe transparent. 
Love is at times an interpreter, at others, a 
lying prophet. We are alternately sphinxes and 
oracles to those we love, whilst to the world in 
general we remain as common parlance. 

'Will you set me down at the " Woolpack", 
please ? ' Aimee said, as they came within sight 
of St. Margaret's Green. 



TWO SIDES TO A QUESTION 167 

On former occasions that setting down of his 
lovely burden had spoiled the rest of the day. 
This afternoon it came as a relief. With accus- 
tomed lightness and grace Aimee sprang to the 
ground, and with all the old elegance and finish 
of manners she curtsied her adieu and thanks. 
But the joyfulness and witchery were gone, 
and the last touch to the poor farmer's disen- 
chantment came with her parting words. 

'I shall see you before you go back to France ? ' 
he murmured, in a distressed, appealing voice. 

* Oh, yes,' was the apparently careless reply, 
' on Sundays, after church, of course.' 

Mr. Flindell generally interchanged a few 
words with the Pascoe family after service. On 
Communion days he usually chatted with Aimee 
and the children till separating at the Rectory 
gate. But she had at least said * Sundays '. 
The date of departure then was not fixed. 

She tripped off, the Tuscan bonnet with its 
pink top-knot, yellow spencer, white gown and 
small sandalled feet fast disappearing behind 
St. Margaret's Church. 

The farmer brushed his eyes with his coat- 
sleeve, and slowly took the back street leading 
to the * Crown and Anchor ' yard, to his satis- 
faction meeting no acquaintance on the way. 



CHAPTER XVI 

MARKET DAY 

The folks we seldom want to see, however, are 
sure to cross our path when we want to see 
nobody at all. As with a downcast face 
Mr. Flindell now turned into the inn yard, the 
first person he lighted upon was Mrs. Betsey 
Askew. 

Farming women might be the best possible 
managers out of doors as well as in, a match for 
the best farmers going, but they affected no 
mannishness, they sedulously shunned anything 
that looked like eccentricity. Thus Mrs. Betsey, 
though quite capable of administering gribbals 
to a horse that had eaten too much green food, 
or gruel to a sick cow, was scrupulous about 
appearances. She did not herself handle the 
reins on market days, but was driven by a 
former back-house boy, now a well-grown hud- 
deren tidily dressed in black cloth and wearing 
gloves, an indisputable mark of respectabihty. 

* Good day, Mr. Flindell,' she said, dropping 
a curtsey, and what a curtsey ! It was the 



MARKET DAY 169 

veriest parody of Aimee's graceful* obeisance, 
burlesque after fairy movement. She wore a 
shawl folded angularly according to the fashion, 
and her large heavy person, as she now plumped 
down, seemed indeed a mockery of the vision 
that had gone before. 

' I hope I see you well, Mrs. Askew,' the farmer 
replied. 

* That 's more than you are, I lay,' she cried, 
stepping back and staring at him. * Goodness 
gracious, you look for all the world Hke a come- 
back iji a thunderstorm, or a chicken that has 
got the pip.' 

' So would you if you had a splitting head- 
ache,' rejoined Mr. Flindell. 

' So you've been into the shires and got the 
lease ? ' added the widow. 

It was not necessary for her to specify which 
lease. 

' As you seem to know my business better 
than I do myself, I won't detain you,' replied 
the farmer huffishly. He was irritated with 
her, and still more so with himself. Why had 
he taken Maria Studd's advice and posted to 
Brighton ? In his present mood he did not 
care two straws about the Hall Farm, or indeed 
about anything. 

* No offence meant, and I've a good many 



170 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

things to do, so good day, for the present,' she 
added with malicious insinuation. The range 
of business on market day was circumscribed. 
Neighbours jostled each other not once but 
twenty times during the afternoon. 

Hardly had Mrs. Askew' s large figure disap- 
peared than Samuel caught him by the button. 

' Marthy particularly wants you to drive 
round to tea this afternoon,' he said in a low, 
confidential tone. ' You will get the moon by 
waiting half an hour later, but she 's here, some- 
where,' he added, looking round. Miss Martha 
Flindell had just stopped for a word with 
Mrs. Betsey. She now came up, ambling as she 
walked ; corns and bunions from time to time 
made her almost lame, and she was one of those 
women who affect years, apparently taking as 
much pains to look old as others to look young. 
Dress, too, in those days was no rejuvenating, 
beautifying process. The large square-shaped 
straw bonnet covering the ears, the shawl with 
its angular folds, the stuff dress, ugly in design 
as in colour, the heavy shoes and coarse white 
stockings, would have prosified Venus herself. 
But Martha's standpoint in life was not that of 
sex. Her shrewd face, humorous smile, and 
kindly expression betokened a very different 
character to that of Mrs. Askew, and one much 



MARKET DAY 171 

more engaging. Here was the same homeliness, 
but unallied with vulgarity, virtues of the work- 
aday world, as in her brother Edward's case, 
softened by innate self-respect and a sense of 
propriety. Nothing more delighted Mrs. Betsey 
than a broad joke or highly-spiced dish of 
scandal. Martha Flindell's humour was of finer 
quality. She somewhat tyrannized over her 
family, but in her own words, ' for their good,' 
and she carried herself high. 

' You've come back then, Ederd,' she said, 
eyeing the traveller almost proudly. In their 
way, these Flindells were what was called ' a 
united family '. The numerous brothers and 
sisters never quarrelled, a rare exception in 
family annals of the period. Railways had not 
as yet accomplished their beneficent mission of 
enabling relations to get away from each other 
easily and expeditiously. Folks had to take 
brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, cousins- 
german, and cousins once removed, as they took 
partners in wedlock, ' for richer, for poorer, for 
better, for worse.' There was no crossing the 
charmed circle. 

* Thank God, yes, Marthy, and glad enough 
to.' 

Her eyes, to use a Shakesperian phrase, 
coasted him round. She did not like his depressed 



172 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

look and dismal voice. Had that inconvenient 
and costly trip been made in vain ? 

' You'll drive round to tea and tell us — ^what 
you thought of London/ she said. An ostler 
was taking out Mr. FlindelFs horse and another 
gig-full had just driven up. She durst not here 
venture upon more direct questions. 

' I can't to-day/ replied the farmer, speaking 
so pettishly that Martha's first thought was of 
disaster. He had been then a fool for his 
pains ? 

' I can't to-day/ he repeated as the three 
moved down the inn yard. ' You'll see me next 
moon, sure enough.' 

Just as they turned into the Cornhill, Samuel 
was waylaid by a neighbour. Amid the crowd 
and prevailing hubbub, Martha now found her 
opportunity. 

' You got the farm ? ' she asked in an under- 
tone, stopping short, her large bonnet screening 
her from passers by. 

* I suppose so,' he replied, his indifference 
puzzling the listener. 

* Maybe a long lease ? ' 

' Maybe,' he replied in the same tone. 

' And maybe means must be, where some- 
thing else is concerned ; you know what I 
mean, I suppose, Ederd ? ' 



MARKET DAY 173 

' Not more than the dead in the grave, 
Marthy.' 

' It 's so much and no more,' she added, always 
with a sly twinkle ' you know I've always been 
against a certain somebody marrying you, but 
if she 's been the means of your getting the farm, 
why, you can't but marry her.' 

The farmer opened his lack-lustre eyes. 

' How came you to know that I was called 
up in the night by Miss 'Ria ? ' he asked. 

' We've always been friendly,' his sister 
replied, ' and she had to write to me about some 
ducks' -eggs. So she just said how it was : we'd 
been a-wondering enough about it.' 

He turned towards the Corn Exchange. 

' I've some samples to show, and time is 
going. If I don't see you again to-day, look for 
me next moon,' he said, and with that he 
turned away. The brothers and sisters rarely 
shook hands, whilst as to a warmer embrace, 
that was reserved for final leave-taking on 
earth, the death-bed solemnity. Martha, still 
with that meaning look in her eyes, went one 
way, Mr. Flindell another, each being stopped 
every five minutes by some neighbour. 

Modem Ipswich no more resembles the Ipswich 
of two generations ago, than the townsfolk of 
to-day their sober grandparents. Despite its 



174 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

veritable grove of churches, little splendour 
characterized the East Anglican metropolis, 
although such simplicity was more than com- 
pensated by picturesqueness and natural charm. 
As some superb heirloom found in middle-class 
households, some masterpiece of the goldsmith's 
or woodcarver's art, rose that Ancient House in 
the homely Butter-market, magnificent pile of 
sculptured oak, without its rival throughout 
England. Farther on, not far from the busy 
wharves and river, the stranger came upon 
Wolsey's Gate, then, as now, a piece of sad and 
beautiful antiquity, apparently crumbling to 
pieces ; then, as now, propped up by substantial 
modern buildings. That bit of ruin, so imposing 
in decay, doubtless, to many, recalled its 
builder's fate, the majesty and downfall of 
Ipswich's greatest son, him whose name even 
at this time figured on the legendary shop -sign. 
Edward Flindell, with his neighbours, ordered 
their Christmas beef of Mr. Thomas Wolsey, 
principal butcher in the place, and, as he 
proudly boasted, ' a relation of the late Cardinal.' 
The farming world had heard of Henry the 
Eighth and his numerous wife-murders. Mr. 
Wolsey's naiver customers, as he chatted to 
them of ' his relation the late Cardinal ', whilst 
weighing a quarter of suet or three-pennyworth 



MARKET DAY 175 

of bones, would ask if he remembered the great 
man, and in which parish he happened to be 
buried ? Ever a stronghold of Nonconformity 
and progress, Ipswich yet plumed herself on 
her Wolsey. 

It was not till he approached the river that 
a stranger would realize the graces of Gippiswick. 
How comes it about that no poet has arisen to 
immortalize these romantic banks of Orwell, 
no romancer to give the sweet haunts around 
Ipswich a local habitation and a name ? By 
an irony of fate, as fairy-like a dell as ever 
inspired lyrist, obtained the name of Hog Island. 
To those who gambolled there as children, to 
whom Hog Island afforded the first lesson in 
natural beauty, the first thrill of impersonal 
joy, this misnomer matters little ; it recalls 
exquisite enjoyment of dimpled sward, shady 
nooks, noble trees close to the flashing river. 
A flash of light indeed, was that clear tide amid 
densest foliage. And as it widened towards the 
sea, the wooded banks diminishing in height, 
the blue expanse gaining in splendour, Ipswich 
holiday-makers were unanimous on one^ point. 
The world had surely no more delightful cruise 
than their own little trip from Hog Island to 
Landguard Fort. 

To-day, and on ' every market day, farmers 



176 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

and farmeresses seldom got beyond the streets 
abutting on the Cornhill. Thus, they were 
perpetually running against each other, and at 
any other time the circumstance would have 
appeared mere matter of course. Now Mr. 
Flindell resented these perpetual encounters ; 
never, throughout the course of his existence, 
had he felt so disposed to curse and swear, mutter 
inaledictions forbidden by Scripture and the 
usages of society. 

Having shown his samples in the Corn Ex- 
change he made for the saddler's close by, and 
why on earth must Mrs. Betsey Askew be there 
too, joking, insinuating and jeering as before ? 
The good lady was inspecting some horses' 
collars under repair, but looked up and curtsied 
with a loud — 

' Come, Mr. Flindell, you're the man for 
roaming about the world ; how do they trim 
horses' collars in the shires ? He 's just been to 
Brighton,' she added to Mr. Croft, the saddler, 
an old acquaintance of both. 

' Humph 1 I wish, Mr. Flindell, you had 
taken me with you as your wallet ' (valet was the 
word intended), ' I'm sick of sticking here, 
year out and year in,' replied Mr. Croft ; he 
was a bit of a wag and also of an inquiring 
mind. 



MARKET DAY 177 

' Lor ! don't wish that, my good man/ 
quoth the widow ; ' why, you might come back 
like him,' here she pointed to Mr. Flindell, 
' cross as two sticks, full of prickles as a bit of 
hulver. Well, that will do, mind I have the 
things by next Saturday's butter-woman, or 
you'll get the length of my tongue, I'll warrant 
you.' 

' She 's a proper lady for a joke,' observed 
Mr. Croft, ' but I'd rather have the length of her 
tongue than the weight of her hand. Didn't 
I catch that one day when I contradicted her 1 
I'm blest if she didn't clap me a box on the ear, 
playful-like, in course, but a stinger that makes 
me tingle all over when I think on it. So you've 
been a'gaddin', Mr. Flindell ? Ah ! no gaddin' 
for poor me till I gad to the grave.' 

With all possible dispatch the farmer ordered 
some new cart-horse traces and belly-bands, 
then turned into the grocer's, and, of course, 
Mrs. Askew must be there also. A third bob, 
or curtsey, and more innuendoes about his 
recent journey, neighbours being by, aggravated 
Mr. rhndell's ill-temper and depression. And 
the last hair was laid upon the camel's back by 
a benevolent old Quaker, head of the historic 
foundry for which East Angha was famous. 

' How do thee do, friend Edward ? ' asked the 

194 ^ 



178 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

great ironmaster blandly. ' Glad to see thee 
back again, have heard of thy expedition — to 
Brighton, was it not ? Thee will snrely have 
much to tell us ? ' 

The very name of Brighton irritated his 
listener beyond endurance. 

Mr. Flindell was a courteous man, and at any 
other time would have delighted in chatting 
with the Quaker. To-day he edged away 
awkwardly. Making what haste he could he got 
his horse put to, and cleared the ' Crown and 
Anchor ' yard, as good luck would have it, 
without again encountering Marthy and Sammel. 
For the first time in his marketing experiences 
he had forborne the conventional glass of 
sherry ! 



CHAPTER XVII 

MRS. KABRA OPENS AN ABYSS 

And for the first time during Miss 'Ria's 
reign the domain over which she presided as 
tutelary goddess appeared an unbearable place. 
Hurrying over his tea, anxious to be quit of 
that most harrowing fellowship, the vis-a-vis of 
a peevish woman, Mr. Flindell took up his hat 
and went abroad. 

To-night he did not feed the pigs, on account 
of wearing Sunday clothes. Just glancing round 
the farm-yard, he now crossed orchard and 
pightle, making straight for Elisha's cottage in 
the Drift. 

There might be reserve between farmer and 
man, but never ceremony. Mr. Flindell lifted 
the latch and walked in as if at home. 

' Has Master Sage come back ? ' he asked. 

Karra, with Miss Sage, was in a tetchy humour. 
She divined her master's errand. 

It 's always us females who get the lecturin', 
she thought. What else should the farmer 
come about but the stolen barley ? 

' I'm not my husband's keeper,' she replied, 
N 2 



180 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

snappishly. ' And 'Lishy's a'cartin' your beans, 
and nobody else's. You ought to know, if any 
one does, where your own men are, Mr. FlindelL' 

Dropping into a chair the farmer looked ready 
to take these acerbities in good part. That 
threat of Miss Studd's, that flouncing out of the 
room, had wonderfully raised his spirits. 

' I wanted to see Elisha,' he began. 

' No sort of need to tell me what for,' quoth 
Karra, more aggressively than before. ' That 
meddlin' and makin' upstart of a woman up 
yonder,' here she pointed towards the farm, 
' wants to carny you over by spyin' and pryin' 
on us poor folks. If 'Lishy took the corn 
unbeknown, was it for the fillin' of his own 
belly ? ' 

' Look you here, Mrs. Sage,' mildly interposed 
Mr. Flindell, ' I don't want to make a piece o' 
work about that. I'm not a'goin' to prosecute 
this time — ' 

' I should think not, indeed,' quoth Karra. 
' And you needn't be afraid, Mr. Flindell. The 
granary key might lie on this here table year 
out and year in now for all 'Lishy would be 
tempted of Satan. It was the horse you sent 
to Mr. Sammel he stole com for. Many a word 
have I had with my husband about Smiler ; 
a good beast enough, and more sensible than half 



MRS. KARRA OPENS AN ABYSS 181 

the folks as go to church and walk on two legs, 
only a bit of a guzzler ; them animals have 
their failin's like the rest on us, and lawks, 
'Lishy had made a graven image of that there 
one, he humoured every whim. It's better he 
should be gone.' 

' Mr. Sammel had lost a horse by the gripes, 
and I had one to spare, so I let him have 
Smiler,' Mr. Flindell replied, carelessly. He 
knew that the head horseman loved his team 
dearly. How could he divine that any special 
attachment existed between Elisha Sage and 
the big, shiny-coated Suffolk cart-horse bred 
on the farm ? 

' And a good job if somebody else would go 
too,' Mrs Karra continued ; ' but, lawks a 
mussy me, Mr. Flindell, you men-folk be as 
blind as bats where us females are concerned. 
Don't you see what Miss 'Ria is a'drivin' at ? 
She wants to be missus in your house. Aye, 
and once missus, she'd be master too.' 

' Well,' Mr. Flindell interrupted, rising from 
his seat, ' I've said what I had to say, so I'll 
wish you good evening, Mrs. Sage.' 

Karra's expression changed from vindictive- 
ness and irritation to profound gravity. She 
rose also, and with quite a solemn air closed 
the door. 



182 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

*I'm not for a'forgettin' my place, Mr. Flindell, 
but if you won't hear a word in season from me 
who laid out your poor ma, then — ^the quotin' 
o' the Scriptures is never insultin' — I'll take it 
upon myself to say that you'll be like the 
wild ass alone by himself spoken of by Hosea. 
That audacious baggage yonder is takin' away 
your good name afore you've made it over to 
her in church.' 

' Come, come, Mrs. Sage, that 's neither here 
nor there ; you are talking at random.' Never- 
theless the speaker resumed his chair. 

' I'm never for a'interferin',' Karra went on, 
' but you're a good master, Mr. Flindell, and 
I can't sit quiet whilst folks talk against you 
behind your back. What did I hear with my 
own ears the last time I went to Ipswich ? 
The Rector gave me a back-seat in his four- 
wheeler, and a'ridin' with him in front was 
Mr. Webb, of Fordham, him who lost his grey 
horse by the gripes three weeks come Sunday. 
Says the Rector in his jokey way : *' I'll bet you 
sixpence, Webb, Ted Flindell posted to Brighton 
after poor Betts' lease ! " Mr. Webb looked 
that concerned you can't think. *' Humph ! " 
says he, "I should never have thought it of 
Flindell. I suppose my neighbour, Joe Frost, 
will be after my lease next afore the doctors 



MRS. KARRA OPENS AN ABYSS 183 

have given me up ! " *' A better fellow than 
Ted Flindell doesn't breathe," says Mr. Pascoe, 
" but I wish you farmers would not be in such 
a devil of a hurry — ^parsons can swear in season 
like us lay-folks — ^to step into dead men's shoes." 
These be the very words, and if I repeat them, 
Mr. Flindell, 'tis for your good.' 

The farmer writhed as he had done under 
Aimee's stinging reproaches, and naturally 
enough he now reproached Miss Studd rather 
than himself, the inciter, rather than the agent, 
of what began to look like a dirty trick. 

Those who serve us with more zeal than 
discretion soon wear the guise of enemies. This 
trying to do one's friends a good turn is ever 
a ticklish concern. Most often we drive them 
head foremost against a brick wall, ourselves 
beingignominiously sent backwards. No! alike 
in matters spiritual and material, in love and 
in lucre, the golden rule, the only liveable 
axiom among friends is that of ' Let alone '. 
Just now the farmer's would-be benefactress, 
the energetic little woman who had helped him 
to the best farm in the neighbourhood, seemed 
his worst foe. 

Mrs. Sage, perceiving her advantage, thundered 
on : 

' But it 's not only what folks are a'sayin' of 



184 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

you that keeps me awake o' nights,' she said, 
* there 's something worse to come,' here she eyed 
her visitor with quite a startling look of dismay 
and foreboding. ' A bad name ' 

' Come, come, Mrs. Sage, you forget your- 
self ' 

' I'm not a'forgettin' myself, Mr. Flindell ; 
well, a name no longer what it was, then is bad 
enough, but a whole family a'swoopin' down 
upon you without shirts and shifts to their 
backs and without good livin' principles, that 's 
a sight deal worse than waggin' tongues. Maria 
Studd, the person you hired at the register 
office after your poor ma died, who 's she ? You 
don't know perhaps, but I do ; and when once 
you've taken her, as she hopes you will, for 
better for worse, for richer for poorer, in church, 
'twill be too late to learn. Why, her father 
kept a public -house at Eye, and was sold up, 
leaving I don't know how many ma wt hers to 
shift for themselves, not that they haven't kept 
themselves respectable. I'm not a'goin' for to 
take away any poor female's character, but just 
think o' the lot of 'em — there 's Eliza now 
a'leavin' her situation, there 's Mary Anne, 
who can't go out, poor thing, because she has 
fits, there 's Caroline, that mannish and gruff - 
speakin' you'd fancy it was some fellow dressed 



MRS. KARRA OPENS AN ABYSS 185 

up — she 's a female jailer at Bury as I've heard 
tell — the lot of 'em, I say, are only a'waitin' 
a good home with Miss 'Ria when she's got to 
be ma'am'd and missus 'd in your house, Mr. 
Flindell ; ah ! and I'm blest if I haven't forgot 
Arabella, she what 's left a widow with three 
children and not a fardin' to bless herself with. 
You'd be like a toad under a harrow, like a pig 
squeezed in a gate. I can't bear to think on't, 
as I say, having laid out your poor ma and 
known you since you were breeched ' 

Mrs. Karra stopped from sheer want of breath, 
and Mr. Flindell seized the opportunity of 
escape. 

' Well, you'll tell Master Sage what I've been 
sayin',' he said on the doorstep ; the kitchen, 
of course, opened on to the garden. ' I'll not 
think any more about the barley this time, but 
he must mind what he 's about, and set a good 
example. I'll wish you good night, Mrs. Sage.' 

Karra dropped a curtsey, the reverence usually 
reserved for squiredom and rectory folk. 

Master's not a man of many words, but he 
thinks the more, she thought. I've opened his 
eyes. We shan't have that meddle-makin' 
baggage a'drivin' us like brute beasts, that I feel 
sure on. 

The farmer did not go straight indoors. 



186 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Aimlessly, pensively, yet with a sense of relief, 
he strolled along the Drift, that delicious alley 
never more inviting than at evenfall and at this 
season of the year. Nature to the farming 
world meant bean-carting and wheat-sowing, 
haysel and harvest, not the fragrant yellowing 
and purpling of meadows with cowslip and 
violet, the flash of kingfisher and wagtail 
athwart willow-banked ponds, the thousand- 
throated carol of drift and pightle. 

But newly-awakened feeling is an immense 
educator. As Edward Flindell now trod familiar 
ground all seemed sweet and strange. By little 
and little the cruelty of Aimee's reproaches lost 
its sting. Her outburst of womanly pride but 
heightened his admiration, and somehow, how he 
could not tell, Karra's warning was as a mallet 
upon fetters ; forewarned is forearmed, he felt 
free. Yes, Maria Studd should be taken at her 
word. Unconsciously paraphrasing the speech 
of a French king, he said to himself that he could 
find twenty housekeepers, but where to look 
for a second Elisha Sage ? Punctual, inoffensive, 
skilled, his Lord of the Harvest was a treasure 
upon any farm ; on a larger occupation he would 
be invaluable. The incident of the stolen barley 
was really as a blessing in disguise. Had it not 
proved an eye-opener, a finger-post, a storm- 



MRS. KARRA OPENS AN ABYSS 187 

signal ? But for this most fortuitous occurrence, 
this windfall of windfalls, he might, rather he 
must, have drifted into unpropitious wedlock 
against his will. 

In the strangest mood imaginable, sweet 
because it was sad, and none the less sad by- 
reason of its sweetness, he gazed around him, 
mused, pondered. 

He now took heed of everything, rosy cloudlet, 
bloomy blackberry, oak leaf tingling with last 
sun-ray, little caressing lay of redbreast, social 
twitter of ground-lark above the sweet -smelling 
turnips. Sights and sounds familiar to him from 
childhood were for the first time realized. 

There is an ecstasy of love, there is an ecstasy 
of hate, perhaps the ecstasy of deliverance out- 
does both. It was this consciousness of regained 
freedom that made Edward FlindelFs heart beat 
quicker, and his eyes shine now. Aimee the 
Beloved had not promised to be his wife, but 
Maria Studd, in homely phrase, had given 
warning. Joy maketh afraid, hope deferred 
maketh the heart sick, to loose one's feet from 
skilfully-laid toils brings the keenest satisfaction 
man or woman can feel. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

A RUSTIC PALADIN 

The Sunday afternoon or evening tryst was 
regarded by village lovers as solemn and bind- 
ing. Barely in their teens, mawthers and 
hudderens ' walked together ', but a stroll 
taken hand in hand often ended there. Very 
differently folks regarded the rendezvous of 
suitors' appointing. Herein they saw nothing 
less than a direct offer of marriage, preliminary 
of the asking in church to follow. Did any 
flighty wench play her follower false, he felt 
straightway at liberty to go a 'courting else- 
where. Did any swain so scurvily trick his 
mistress, the best thing she could do also was to 
seek consolation in another quarter. Neither by 
the one nor the other could such an affront be 
otherwise interpreted. With States and legisla- 
tures, rustic society possessed its unwritten 
code, its court of equity. 

Had Tat Turtle been as good as his word, 
Amma would already have heard his name 
coupled with her own in church. But the proud 
moment was deferred. Thews and sinews do 



A RUSTIC PALADIN 189 

not always represent moral courage, and it was 
well known that both the miller and his son 
stood in awe of Mrs. Turtle. Spare, acrid, with 
a voice of ringing quality, boasting also board- 
ing-school reputation for genteelness, the little 
woman ruled her household as Deborah ruled 
Israel. No weakling dreaded a big buUy more 
than the two strong men of Burridge dreaded 
their housewife's wrath. So the last time that 
Tat had caught sight of Amma at the granary 
steps, with hangdog air he confessed the truth — ■ 
he dared not again open his lips about the banns 
for the present. 

' Mother gave me the length of her tongue, 
and no mistake, last night,' he added, with 
a drawing together of the lips as if being pinched ; 
' but she'll cool down, and she shan't prevent 
me leastways from walking with you o' Sun- 
days.' 

The courting day had come round, and Amma, 
whose evening it was out, set off for the Drift. 
She generally awaited her lover at the farther 
end, then, instead of turning into the high road, 
they would strike across the fields, now in one 
direction, now in another, always getting as far 
as possible from home. There were no hills or 
dales within walking, or for the matter of that, 
driving, reach. Few folks hereabouts had ever 



190 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

seen so much as a monticule ; but honeysuckle 
gathered in the next parish smelt unlike that 
of native bowery, and if anything to be called 
perspective remained mythical, at any rate the 
level landscape before their eyes was not 
Burridge. 

A young woman could not be well freer from 
sentimentality than Amma. With her, exist- 
ence was no happy-go-lucky affair, no matter 
of odds and hazards, but of diplomacy and 
calculation. As she now arrayed herseK for 
this meeting, it was less with a flutter of alter- 
nating hopes and fears than with a deliberate 
weighing of chances. Would Tat Turtle fail her 
or comport himself gallantly ? Such was the 
problem now revolved and revolved again. 
The probabilities were in his favour, and 
indeed, but for this conclusion, Amma would 
have stayed at home. Of no brittle quality 
that heart of hers, but she wanted to marry 
a Mister, a wearer of broadcloth, possible church- 
warden, and one who did business at the Ipswich 
Bank. The evening was of intense, almost 
southern beauty and voluptuousness, of deepest, 
ruddiest gold the facets of sunshine amid the 
oak leaves, of faint caressing sweetness the 
breath of travellers' joy and wild thyme, a per- 
sonal love-note too, inviting softness and 



A RUSTIC PALADIN 191 

passion, seemed the stock-doves' cooing ; accom- 
paniment of the pastoral ; other sounds were 
heard between- whiles, in the hedgerow, twitter 
of wren and robin, from afar the cawing of rooks, 
the wood-pigeons were ever3rwhere as much 
a part of the hour and scene as sky and lan- 
guorous air. 

Amma's mood just now was of impression- 
ability, if not of sentiment. These subtle 
influences affected her, but not in the ordinary 
way. For the most exquisite visions, rather 
revelations of the outer world, to which none 
can be wholly insensible, act very differently 
upon opposed natures. Such an hour as this, 
with its wooing deliciousness, would have driven 
many a girl into her lover's arms — and perhaps 
into the guH of destruction. A kiss would have 
done duty for wedding-ring. Over Amma came 
a spell of quite another kind. 

Dairy-maids could no more lay claim to 
a watch than to the style and title of Miss, but 
Amma could reckon the time without help. 
Farming folks carried a clock as well as a 
calendar in their heads. 

The cool, wooded Drift led to the high road, 
now hot and dusty enough, but on one side 
a little spinney or plantation of larch trees 
offered shade. It was a sweet corner, the mossy 



192 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

ground being broken up into little knolls, the 
young trees making brilliant avenues, light 
screens of emerald against a background of 
clearest, warmest blue. An excellent hiding- 
place was this, and here Amma hid herseK, now 
determined that if Tat came an hour behind 
time, he should come for nothing. The position 
of the sun soon told her that it was long past 
the appointed hour. 

By and by, she did perceive a man's figure 
on the other side, and her heart gave a leap, 
not the leap of relief or allayed misgiving. As 
she caught sight of Ebby's square although 
not ungainly form arrayed in best corduroy, 
a sudden thought struck her. Starting up from 
the brushwood, she cried engagingly : 

' Where may you be making for, Ebby, look- 
ing that long-faced ? ' 

Utterly taken aback by the lovely apparition, 
imagining Amma to be far away, strolling across 
distant fields with her miller, the young man 
dropped his eyes and stammered out : 

' You know I'm a meetener,' he said, with 
a shamefaced air, ' leastways when there 's 
a meetin' to go to.' 

' There, leave the ranters alone for once, and 
come along a' me.' 

Religiousness in the proper acceptation of the 



A RUSTIC PALADIN 193 

word was as foreign to Ebenezer and his fellow 
ploughmen as aesthetic perception or intel- 
lectual rapture. But when a man can neither 
read nor write, when, moreover, he cares not 
to go a'courting, the meeting-house offers a 
better-than-nothing in the way of recreation, 
a veritable pastime. Any local preacher hold- 
ing forth in the village Bethel was therefore sure 
of an audience. 

A ray of ecstasy came into Ebby's pale blue . 
eyes, followed by a look of almost vindictive 
disillusion. 

With all his untutoredness, Amma's lover 
possessed a manly soul and some sense of moral 
dignity. A crushing taunt of a week or two 
back, ' You shall be one of my weddeners, never 
fear,' was fresh in his mind, it galled, stung, 
festered still. With bold retort he turned on 
his heel. 

' If you want to see Tat Turtle and me a'goin' 
at each other like fightin' gobblers, it shan't be 
on a Sunday, Amma, and so I tell you.' 

Amma hastened after him. 

' Look you here, Ebby,' she said, 'I'm not 
a'jokin'. I'll keep company with you, true as 
I stand here.' 

' I know all about that,' Ebby got out mock- 
ingly, yet drinking in the ineffable picture with 
o 



194 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

mingled rapture and despair. Never before 
had Amma looked so genteel, so superior to 
the rest of Burridge womankind ! No face was 
hers round and red as an apple, no pudgy pro- 
portions recalling the distich of ill-natured urban 
rhymester : 

You can see at a glance, could not be mistaken, 
These misses of Burridge have thriven on bacon. 

Milk-white was Amma's complexion, setting off 
those large brown eyes so full of changeful, 
mysterious expression, very fair too the long 
neck, becomingly arrayed in white collar and 
pink neck-ribbon ; any lady of the land who 
played the pianoforty and rode single might 
own those small hands uncoarsened, unreddened 
by toil. And her slender symmetrical propor- 
tions would have graced silks and satins as well 
as neat print or figured muslin. But after all 
it is not the setting, it is the jewel that implies 
pricelessness. Amma's character, parts, ready 
wit, made her exceptional, not pearly skin, big 
eyes, nor slender waist. 

* No, you don't, you know nothing about it 
at all, Ebby,' she replied, turning with him, 
motioning him to go on, ' nor did I afore the 
clock had gone six this day. But let us cross 
yonder fields towards Tuddenham.' 

Ebenezer's tall, athletic figure looked pro- 



A RUSTIC PALADIN 195 

portional, even graceful, when wielding scythe 
or sickle in his shirt sleeves ; the Sunday suit 
and shiny boots made him gawky and loutish. 
But Amma was in no critical mood just then, 
this devoted lover could now serve her turn, 
and should be duly rewarded. 

' Don't stand there a'turnin' up your eyes 
like a duck in a thunderstorm,' she cried 
impatiently ; * I tell you you're to go to Tudden- 
ham along o' me.' 

The road before them led straight to Ipswich, 
that behind to Helmingham, but over against 
the coppice a five-barred gate opened upon 
wide fields with enticing little paths under lofty 
hedges. 

Before Ebby could reply, his companion had 
cleared the gate, her action rousing him from his 
stupor. Amma possessed a shapely foot and 
the prettiest leg imaginable, black cashmere 
boots laced at the side, and coarse but speckless 
white cotton stockings fitting to a mcety. She 
wore too a many-tucked, well-starched and 
ironed white muslin slip, now shown under the 
daintily lifted blue and pink skirt. 

She walked on quickly, never turning to look 
round, and they were soon at the gate of the 
next field. Here she paused, letting him some- 
what awkwardly help her over. Then she did 
O 2 



196 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

just glance towards the road left behind. No 
one was there. 

* Till the clock had gone six I took Tat Turtle 
to be a man of his word, and if a man won't 
have me when he might, when he would, he 
must go without. That 's the long and the 
short of it, Ebby, my dear.' 

Ebenezer, who had been gathering nuts for 
her, now pressed them into her hand with 
extraordinary seK-confidence and hilarity. She 
permitted the lover-like grasp and began at 
once to crack the nuts with her strong white 
teeth. There was not a vestige of romance in 
her composition. Before the realistic novel was 
thought of, Amma regarded existence from the 
realistic novelist's point of view. 

Ebby, on whom the most dulcet flavour of 
nuts was wasted just then, watched his enchan- 
tress with dilating eyes. 

' I'll give it to him, or I'll try to,' he said. 

' Now, Ebby, don't you go a'gettin' yourself 
into a scrape, but leave Tat this or Tat that to 
me. Don't you s'pose it will be a'givin' it to 
him enough to hear our banns asked in church ? ' 

The young man looked positively awe-struck. 
Of course Amma would have her way, an 
enchanting, intoxicating way too ; he was only 
' bound ', as the phrase went, to Mr. Flindell 



A RUSTIC PALADIN 197 

till Michaelmas. He would then be free to quit 
the farmhouse and earn the weekly ten shillings 
of an able-bodied labourer. But the finding of 
a cottage, the furnishing of it ? His whole 
savings amounted to just six pounds, which his 
master kept for him in his bureau. 

With Amma's brisk utterance, mental hob- 
goblins and bogies vanished as mist before the sun. 

' You just leave everything to me, Ebby,' 
said the young woman, speaking coolly, as if the 
matter under consideration were a half -holiday 
for visiting the fair, ' everything except the ask- 
ing in church, I mean. We're close upon 
Michaelmas, master will want a sight more 
hands at the Hall, and if Miss 'Ria spites me, 
she don't spite you. And whether father is 
made head-man or no, there'll be a couple of 
ploughmen wanted out of doors as well as in. 
And the little cottage with the bowery, poor old 
widow Watts', stands empty at a shilling 
a week. And a help is always wanted two or 
three days a week at the Rectory, what with 
washin' and brewin' and bakin', that 's a 
shillin' a day and a bell3^ul. And ' 

On rattled that facile tongue, Ebby listening 
with the stupefaction of overjoy, Amma speak- 
ing gaily, mortified self-love and bitterest dis- 
illusion lost sight of in this foretaste of revenge. 



CHAPTER XIX 

HALLOO LARGESS 

Largess-spending has long since become mat- 
ter of hearsay, legendary as stage-coaches, tinder- 
boxes, man -traps and stocks on the village green. 
But veterans of the plough still live to recount 
that jovial celebration, and many a looker-on 
then in pinafores can remember how * My Lord 
begged round and held his hat,' and how, when 
it was full of shillings from squire, farmer, and 
friends — in the words of the Suffolk bard just 
quoted — 

Up they got and went to Halloo Largess. 

Nor have they forgotten the lusty chorus — ^this 
of local origin — sung after supper outside the 
village inn : 

With a full flowing glass of old harvest beer. 

Here 's your master's good health, boys, join in the cheer. 

That filling of the hat with shillings was often 
a matter of time. It was, moreover, a recog- 
nized tax on the sportsman. 

No sooner was a popping of guns heard amid 
the turnip fields than — ' the shooters, the 



HALLOO LARGESS 199 

shooters ! ' shouted my Lord to his men. As 
the party drew near, he would hold round his 
hat, sure enough of shillings and half-crowns 
rattling in ; this little business over, the men 
formed a ring, the leader shouting, * Halloo, 
halloo, halloo largess,' three times. Then would 
burst forth a ringing cheer, with a reiterated 
* We thank Mr. So-and-So for his largess '. 

Captain de Medue was no patron of the chase ; 
he leased his shooting, but Elisha Sage's 
' Halloo Largess ' always resulted in a hatful 
for 'Largess-spending'. 

Once more the jolly day had come round, 
and once more, under favourable auspices, 
the shooters had been no less numerous and 
liberal than usual. When my Lord's hat was 
emptied on good Mrs. Cage's table, the plump, 
rosy-cheeked landlady of the 'Barley Mow' 
lifted up her hands. 

* I'm not a'jokin'. Master Sage,' she said, 
' but if you all stuff and guzzle away thus much 
in a single night, you'll none of you take any 
harm if you go hungry and dry for a week.' 

Elisha always left everything, excepting his 
own immediate concerns, to other folks. And 
a jollification of this kind did not suit his 
Puritan nature and weak digestion, to say 
nothing of his present mood. But he must 



200 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

perforce walk in the steps of his forerunners. 
Largess -spending meant that, no matter the 
consequences, every shiUing collected for the 
purpose must be eaten and drunk upon that 
especial night. He comforted himself with the 
thought that his own small capacities as a 
reveller were exceptional, and that, as usual, 
from the highways and bywa^^s, all, as many as 
they found, both bad and good, would be 
bidden to partake. 

He shook his head gravely, whilst the hostess 
counted the money. 

' No, no, missus,' he said, ' sufficient unto the 
day is the eatin' and drinkin' thereof. We shall 
all want our pork and dumplin's to-morrow, I'll 
lay, though, maybe, we'll be a bit picksome.' 

It was growing dusk when, one by one, Mr. 
Flindell's harvestmen sauntered up to the 
' Barley Mow ', a neat, low-pitched house, with 
adjoining smithy, for Mr. Cage combined the 
business of publican and blacksmith. 

At right angles lay the village street, consist- 
ing of a dozen cottages, some having thatched 
roofs and whitewashed walls, others of more 
modern appearance. Here stood the general 
shop, where could be had tobacco, snuff, tea, 
farthing dips, and peppermint-lozenges, the 
worthy mistress charging * a haKpenny for 



HALLOO LARGESS 201 

paper ', when the order was unprofitably small 
or required an extra sheet of packing paper, 
at that time no very cheap commodity. 

Shyly enough, for shyness accompanied any 
act if not of daily occurrence, the revellers stole 
up. All were tidied as for a ploughing match, 
or any other week-day occasion ; nobody wore 
Sunday clothes. The first to arrive was little 
Smy, his small, fiery-red face grimaced with 
delight, his whimsical person fantastically 
equipped. 

It was the fashion in those days for elderly 
men of the better ranks to wear swallow-tailed 
coats for best alike indoors and out ; some 
waggish benefactor had bestowed such a gar- 
ment upon Smy, and the quaint little man, 
partly from vanity, and partly from need, took 
to it, as to the manner born. He thought also 
that his swallow-tailed coat would contribute 
to the general entertainment. 

' My, Master Smy ! ' cried Mrs. Cage, who, 
with her neighbours, mightily relished a joke, 
* you look the very efiigy of a gentleman ; feel 
like one, I daresay ? ' 

' I daresay I shall when I've filled my belly,' 
was the ready reply. ' True as I stand here, 
Mrs. Cage, I haven't swallowed bite nor sup since 
mornin' ! ' . 



202 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

' The more fool you, then, though I say it 
who shouldn't, for, my poor dear little poppet 
of a man, it couldn't surely be because you had 
nothing to whet your whistle with, harvest 
time too ? ' 

' Bless the good soul, haven't she the sense 
of a pitman pig ? ^ Why, in course, I didn't 
waste wittles and drink at twelve o'clock, 
knowin' as how I should be filled to the bung- 
hole afore night. No, no, Mrs. Cage. Largess- 
spendin' is Largess -spendin', and it don't come 
twice a year.' 

' It hadn't need to, I'm sure, what with your 
guzzling and the shindy you all kick up after- 
wards,' quoth the dame. * There 's old Nat, 
always first to come and last to go where drinkin' 
is a' goin' on.' 

* What be the pretties you're a'sayin' about old 
Nat, my dear ? ' interrupted the sheep-shearer. 

But matrons hereabouts, however fond of 
a joke, did not relish familiarity. 

' Dear, indeed ! Have I ever cost you any- 
thing ? ' cried the landlady of the ' Barley Mow ' . 
' I'll teach you to call me names,' and, jumping 
up as a bantam daring a Cochin-China to the 
fight, for she was short of stature, and Nat 

^ Pitman, the smallest pigling of a litter ; generally made 
over to farmers' children as pocket money. 



HALLOO LARGESS 203 

stood six feet two in his stockings, she dealt 
him a ringing slap on the face. 

* A soft answer turneth away wrath, and if 
any man smite thee on the right cheek, turn to 
him thy left also ; so another stinger, darlin', 
then let us kiss and be friends.' 

Thus saying, the lank, grotesque figure 
dropped upon one knee, inviting the blow. 

' Kiss, indeed ; I'd as soon kiss a squiggling 
pig caught in a gate. Have a care, or you'll 
catch a bucket of soap suds on that ugly mug 
of yours, which, for once, don't want it. But 
there 's Master Sage and the others. William, 
take up the taters.' 

The last sentence was addressed in a high 
key to her husband ; Mr. Cage being what was 
called a domesticated man, upon these occasions, 
helped alike in back-house and kitchen. Those 
Suffolk housewives of two generations ago were 
notable women, and for the most part reigned 
supreme. ' Cleaned up,' too, for the day, that 
is to say, having changed her print gown for 
a stuff one, and donned a smart cap, Mrs. Cage 
could not be expected to dish up taters and 
plum-puddings. William, a spare, meek-faced, 
but by no means incapable man, had only laid 
aside his leather apron and given himself a good 
sousing at the pump. In his shirt sleeves he 



HALLOO LARGESS 205 

shine at conversation. They had met to eat 
and drink, the being merry was no condition 
tacked to Largess -spending. During that long, 
slow consummation of cold boiled beef and hot 
potatoes, only the sheep-shearer's irrepressible 
drollery and Mrs. Cage's brisk repartee varied 
the monotonous clatter. Black-handled knives 
and steel forks were plied as if from a sense of 
duty rather than gastronomic enjoyment. Satis- 
faction were indeed a most appropriate term in 
this case. Even upon such occasions, folks ate 
first to appease natural cravings, quite second- 
arily came the notion of a tickled palate. Most 
likely others present had followed Smy's 
example of preliminary fast, so swiftly diminished 
the enormous joints at each end of the table, 

' Come, Master Sage,' cried the little landlady, 
as she moved behind the table, now admonish- 
ing a gourmand and now encouraging a shy 
feeder, ' to see you pingle one might think you 
ate beef and plum-pudding like rich folks every 
day of your life. A good tight slice, now, before 
it is clean gone ! ' 

Suiting the action to the word, she transferred 
a temptingly thin round on his plate. 

Elisha quietly put it back. 

' I thank you kindly, Mrs. Cage,' he said, 
' but I want no invitation to this here table.' 



206 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

The courteous reproof was taken very good- 
naturedly. 

' No offence, Master Sage ; but you harvest- 
folks are that uppish, to be sure, one mustn't look 
at you ! Well, have just a tater to please me.' 

The Lord of the Harvest inspected the dish 
of potatoes, and without a word prodded the 
most tempting. Then, glancing round from 
time to time, he went on with his supper. It 
was his place to see that all were behaving 
themselves. Nat must, of course, play the 
tomfool. Now the born buffoon mimicked one 
fellow-guest, and now another ; making a 
trumpet of his hands, he next imitated drum 
and bugle for the benefit of the two soldiers 
present, extra hands returning next day to 
their barracks. Monkeyish tricks, singing, 
whistling, speechifying, were as yet kept 
within due bounds and for the best possible 
reason. The sparkling ' old harvest ' was 
reserved for the Halloo Largess abroad later 
on. Only Mr. Cage's mild ale circulated at the 
supper- table. 

Table-talk was limited alike in range and 
volume. 

' I s'pose we shall be a'cuttin' beans o' Mon- 
day,' observed Zeky to his neighbour, one of 
the gallant redcoats before mentioned, who. 



HALLOO LARGESS 207 

getting gradually intoxicated upon plum-pud- 
ding, replied that they might be cutting beans, 
pumpkins, capers, or one another's throats, for 
all he cared a d — n. Smy, endeavouring to be 
equally agreeable to the other wearer of the 
loyal uniform, made the' remark, 'I'm blowed 
if ever I see'd any one tuck in like you soudgers.' 
Whereupon his companion, by way of deserving 
the compliment, stuck his fork into poor Smy's 
last slice of plum-pudding and demolished it 
amid much merriment. 

' Where to will you be a'movin' now, Nat ? ' 
he asked of the sheep-shearer, who, like the 
wandering Jew and the local rat-catcher, went 
from place to place in the pursuit of his avoca- 
tions. 

' Lord, you sucking babe, as if I knew more 
than the dead ! Perhaps into the shires, where 
I hear they're still a'harvestin', perhaps to 
Father Abraham's bosom. Hold your jaw,' was 
the reply. 

Mrs. Cage's upright clock had gone nine when 
the leader arose and pronounced the customary 
thanksgiving : ' For what we have received 
may the Lord make us truly thankful.' 

That quiet benediction was followed by an 
outburst of boyish excitement. Jumping on 
benches, playing leap-frog as they went, singing, 



208 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

shouting, whistling, the harvesters now poured 
into the village street, where a little crowd 
awaited them. Foremost amid these stood 
Jeremiah Hammond, Elisha's rival in the reap- 
ing field, the ploughing match, and former 
candidate for the head-manship at the Hall. 
Other neighbours helped to form a semicircle, 
for the ceremony of Halloo Largess implied 
a general invitation. All friends and well- 
wishers were welcome to a glass. The group 
was a representative one. Mr. Pipe, the toll- 
gate keeper, had put in an appearance ; with 
him had come Tom Potter, the parish clerk, 
who read the responses o' Sundays, making 
good scholars titter with his ' Peelican in the 
wilderness ', his ' Cherubyum and Seraphyam ' ; 
o' week-days, his grand talk about Old Moore's 
' highgloripikes '. Behind these, come merely 
to look on, were the women-folk, tittering, 
giggling, nudging each other, no one, as Karra 
severely observed, * behaving as she should do '. 
How was it, folks, gossippers, asked that Tat 
Turtle was not there, a'hangin' about Amma ? 
Immediately in front of the ' Barley Mow ' 
stood Mr. Flindell's men, Elisha's figure a little 
in advance of the rest. From glass to glass the 
host of the ' Barley Mow ' now moved, with his 
huge stone bottle of strong, sweet sparkhng 



HALLOO LARGESS 209 

old harvest \ Then in a voice of real command, 
for the occasion savoured of solemnity, the Lord 
of the Harvest led the toast : 

* Now the harvest is ended ; our labours are o'er, 
And we've met to spend Largess together once more/ 
There was no sentimentality about this 
celebration. The tremendous cheer that now 
resounded from one end of the village to the 
other, audible at the Drift and the mill, was 
a matter of ceremony and custom. Had Mr. 
Flindell been a niggardly master, even a nip- 
cheese, churlish of temper, no employer of 
cripples and ' three-quarter men ' in winter, no 
impartial doler out of parish beef and coals at 
Christmas, church-folks and meeteners ever 
faring alike during his churchwardenship, 
Largess -spending must have ended in the same 
way, although not in the same spirit. But the 
tenant of Walnut Tree Farm, without being 
a hero, without aspiring to magnanimity, 
possessed that enviable attribute, a good name. 
No one could say evil of him. So louder and 
louder, heartier and heartier, went up those 
old-fashioned couplets, improvised by some 
Lord of the Harvest in times gone by. 
'Now the harvest is ended, our labours are o'er. 
And we've met to spend Largess together once more. 
With a full flowing glass of old harvest beer, 
Here 's youi' master's good health, boys, join in the cheer.* 



210 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

And according to custom, the toagt-master now 

varied his burden : 

* For he 's a good man, he provides us good cheer, 
Long life to Ted Flindell, drink up your beer.' 

Just as comedians bring down the house with 
some happy allusion to current topics, so the 
altered version, composed of course by Karra, 
heightened general enthusiasm. Again and 
again rose that volume of sound, the hearty 
three times three many heroes of showier 
triumphs might well envy. 

Whilst friends and neighbours were bidden to 
a glass, the traditional woman's part was that 
of looker-on. Folks who ' frequented ', ' walked 
together ', or * kept company ', might break the 
rule, slily toasting each other out of the same 
goblet. To-night, but for his mother's tongue, 
Tat Turtle would proudly have armed Amma 
to the festive spot, none ever readier for a kiss 
and a drinking-bout. Anyhow, he could not 
for the life of him help starting off at the last 
moment. As he explained to the family law- 
giver, if he stayed away people were sure to 
talk, would say he had gone so far that he dared 
not look Amma in the face. Unheroic was this 
paragon of thews and sinews, but, after his own 
fashion, he adored Karra 's daughter, and his 
notion was that she would wait and wait and 



HALLOO LARGESS 211 

wait, and that somehow things would come 
right in time. Of a favoured rival he had no 
inkling. 

So having framed a plausible excuse for last 
Sunday's perfidy, he now sidled up to the girl ; 
he knew Amma as well perhaps as any one ; he 
was prepared for an outburst when next 
they should find themselves alone ; but pub- 
licity, gaping eyes, and gossiping tongues would 
befriend him. Amma might ' take on ' in 
private, she would be only too pleased to 
welcome him here, flaunt her superior lover 
before the world. 

' Come, Amma,' he said, drinking-horn in 
hand, ' just sweeten this for me, will you ? 
That 's what I've come for,' he whispered in her 
ear. Amma stood in the front row of spectators ; 
before this crowd of women and girls were the 
rollickers forming a semicircle, both groups well- 
lighted by the inn lamps. 

' Then you'll get something else, I can tell 
you,' quoth Amma. Without a second's hesita- 
tion, and with the deftest imaginable movement, 
the ale was dashed in his face, and the bearer 
sent sprawling backwards. Then belabouring 
him with her hands, calling on the rest to aid, 
he was driven ignominiously away : never was 
luckless wight boxed and buffeted as the strong 
P 2 



212 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

man's son to-night. But it was not the smart of 
blows under which he writhed, for he knew well 
enough that though Tat Turtle might become a 
substantial farmer, a compeer of the best, hence- 
forth he was a fable, a butt of raillery, a reproach 
in folks' mouths as long as he lived. Amma was 
avenged ! 



CHAPTER XX 

HALLOO LARGESS — {continued) 

A MAN may be a second Goliath, the terror of 
his compeers : he were a savage and sure to be 
treated as such, if using his fists or his heels 
against a parcel of girls. So, freeing himself 
from these village Maenads as best he could, 
hurling threats and imprecations, vowing to 
pay out alike aggressors and lookers-on, the 
young miller made good his escape. The affair 
had taken place too quickly to admit of inter- 
ference on Elisha's part; moreover, with the 
womankind and mere spectators he had nothing 
to do. His jurisdiction and mastership of the 
ceremonies did not extend beyond the harvest 
supper and its participants. But he had seen 
and heard all, and the incident, with its revela- 
tions, only deepened his unfestive mood. It 
added also to poignant self-reproach, for in his 
present state, the least little circumstance wore 
a retributive aspect. If Tat Turtle had given 
up Amma, what else did it mean but disapproval 
of her father ? Folks had been poisoning miller 
Turtle's mind against him and his : the latest 
check was of a piece with the rest. 



214 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

Since the business of the stolen barley and 
the melancholy journey with Smiler, Elisha 
had not been himself. Quiet, dogged resignation 
had changed to brooding melancholy. The one 
pleasure of his life seemed taken from him, so 
he^ said to himself. His good horse's affection 
made up for many things, so cheerfully did it 
lighten toil ; and Smiler did not sleep the sleep 
of death. He could not help dwelling on the 
faithful creature's wistfulness, his hopes perhaps 
of again hearing the familiar voice, feeling the 
touch of the well-known hand. 

But again the strain broke forth : 

* For he 's a good master, he provides us good cheer, 
Long life to our master, drink up your beer.* 

With this final toast, in which outsiders now 
joined, Elisha relinquished his glass and his 
dignity. The Lord of the Harvest, as the Lord 
Mayor of London, once more became a com- 
moner, a mere citizen, if forsooth the last epithet 
could be applied to the hind of two generations 
ago. There was not a trace of conviviality in 
his look or manner as he now stepped back, 
intending to slip away and make for home. The 
last toast drunk, the ' old harvest ' drained, he 
became once more Master Sage, a village nobody. 
Not thus quietly was he allowed to steal 
home. As is the case with wit in high places, 



HALLOO LARGESS 215 

rustic waggeries will oft-times take the form of 
ill-nature. When the blood is heated and the 
brain muddled with over much eating and an 
extra bout, delicacy is out of the question. 

For Nat, the sheep-shearer, such an oppor- 
tunity was golden. Natural frolicsomeness is 
much rarer than the occasion calling it forth ; 
to-night all were in the humour for a joke, 
and a little bird had whispered every tale into 
every ear. The whole village knew of the 
hidden bushel, the night-capped, bed-gowned 
interloper, the Biblical reprimand. But the 
matter was much more than a joke to one or 
two. It was rumoured abroad that in spite of 
Elisha's breach of trust, in spite of Miss 'Ria's 
threat — ^for at Burridge everybody knew every- 
body's business — the Lord of the Harvest was 
to follow his master to the Hall, there to be 
installed as head-man. Now, in so far as the 
obtaining of the lease was concerned, Elisha 
could not be accused by any one. Folks, 
however, were not logical, and he vicariously 
seemed an interloper. Thus it came about that 
Jerry and Lyddy, and indeed all Mrs. Betsey 
Askew's work-people were in a mischievous 
mood to-night, determined not to let their 
neighbours return home quietly. 

Just as Elisha was moving off stealthily, 



216 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

motioning Karra to do the same, he felt a grip 
from behind. 

* Come, Master Sage, you're among well- 
wishers, stand there friendly like, and tell us all 
about that there little job, Miss 'Ria a'seizin' 
you like a ferret a'springin' on a rat, yourself 
all of a tremble like an ashen-leaf, and the 
old harridan dinnin' Gehazi, Gehazi, in your 
ears.' 

' Now, together,^ just behave yourselves as 
you should do,' cried a shrill feminine voice from 
the crowd, ' the parish constable has his eye on 
you, I'll warrant.' 

Mrs. Karra's interposition did not prevent 
Elisha from giving Nat a violent push backward, 
sending the tall spindle-shanked, spidery-figure 
straight into the arms of his neighbour, Jerry 
Hammond. Open-mouthed, staring blankly, 
showing his large white teeth, the rival seized 
his opportunity. Jerry had never yet outdone 
Elisha in the ploughing match ; witless of the 
witless he could nevertheless fling liis shaft. 

' It 's all very fine to put on farins, Master 
Sage, but there 's no other thief in this here 
company that I knows on.' 

Elisha felt his patience going, but still re- 
mained outwardly cool. Again he tried to edge 

^ ' Together,' in Suffolk used for * all of you '. 



HALLOO LARGESS 217 

his way out of the semicircle and make for 
home, and again he was held back. 

' I'll teach you to mock me, and that in a jiffy, 
if you don't leave hold,' he said at last. 

He was not given to vehemence either of 
speech or action, blows and bad words were not 
in his line ; but to-night he felt somehow afraid 
of himself, for the first time realizing the pitfall 
of exasperation. 

Wounded self-love, the soreness brought about 
by irritating banter ; above all, the nasty little 
pricks, just pricks and no more, of conscience, 
were doing their work. He felt under the 
influence of moral poison. 

' There, there, darlin', I wouldn't be that 
peevish if I were you, we only want to have 
a little harmless fun,' pursued Nat. 

' Which you won't at my cost. Have a care 
and leave go.' 

* Did you ever ? I never did,' Nat replied, 
winking at his fellow topers, most of them, with 
himself, being in local phrase, ' a trifle groggy.' 
' Here 's our 'Lishy,' the wag went on, ' tetchy 
as a teethin' babe, and all because I term him 
Gehazi instead I s'pose of terming him after 
his namesake, the prophet.' 

Groups of harvesters now broke up into two, 
each member straightway becoming a partisan. 



218 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

A mere trial of strength to begin with, this 
rough play soon developed into a fierce combat, 
both sides being urged on by the beholders. 
Immediately behind Elisha, trying to free their 
chief, were Ebby and 'Zeky ; manfully emulating 
the bravest was the little Smy, one gallant 
wearer of the uniform hanging on to the flaps 
of his tail-coat, the other aiding the assailants, 
headed by Nat and Jerry. Away they tugged 
and tugged amid indescribable uproar, the 
women also separated into two camps, cheer- 
ing, expostulating, threatening, one or two 
even joining in the fray. 

Cries were raised for Mr. Mumpford, the 
representative of law and police ; above threats, 
abuse, and banter rising Karra's voice. ' 'Lishy,' 
she now shouted, in a voice of sternest wifely 
command, * have a care 1 Let me see your hand 
once raised against your brother and no wife 
will follow you into the land of Nod. And you, 
Lyddy Hammond, a 'egging on your husband, 
doing your best to make a Cain of him ; shame 
on you ! ' With fiercer and yet fiercer invective 
she harangued the rest. * Get to bed, you 
children of Belial, you tempted of the Evil One. 
Not if I know it, shall any soul be dragged to 
the bottomless pit, where will be weeping and 
gnashing of teeth to-night.' 



HALLOO LARGESS 219 

Now it happened that Mr. Flindell was supping 
at the Rectory, and having mentioned the fact 
of Largess -spending, the children begged leave 
to hear the hip, hip, hooraying. 

They need not go farther than the garden- 
gate, pleaded Esther Ann, Dick, and Bob, and 
it would be so nice for Miss Aimee 1 

' Well, well,' quoth the Rector in his rough 
but good-humoured way, ' off with the whole 
troublesome crew of you ; as I'm in my slippers 
I'll ask Mr. Flindell to halloo you home in an 
hour's time, and if you don't come at once, you'll 
get my cane to-morrow, be sure of that.' 

' You forget, Zachariah, that it is Saturday 
night,' lispingly interposed Mrs. Pascoe ; ' which 
means,' she added, smiling at her bachelor 
guest, ' tub night- — the copper fire was lighted 
half an hour ago.' 

' Oh 1 never mind,' her husband broke in, 
' ring for Mary Ann to put it out, the children 
can be scrubbed down on Monday instead. 
Halloo Largess, like Gunpowder Plot Day, only 
comes once a year. Now, Flindell, let us go 
into my study, and talk over that business of 
church repairs.' 

The churchwarden followed his Rector with 
quite a beaming face. For the first time since 
that wretched drive to market he had inter- 



220 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

changed a few words with Aimee, the Beloved. 
On being shown into the drawing-room just 
before, he had found her at the piano hearing 
Bob's scales. The boy, of course, delighted to 
be set free, bolted like a young colt escaping 
the halter; Aimee could but come forward, 
proffering her little hand — and a smile ! 

What may not an apologetic smile do ? In 
this sweet half -French, half -English face, he 
now read self-reproach, apology, all that a proud 
woman would wish to say under such circum- 
stances. She had indeed cruelly misjudged him, 
and she knew it. Every day, every hour of her 
hard life but brought out in clearer light the 
homely steadfast devotion she had so scornfully 
spurned. Every day, every hour made her feel 
the goldenness of such love as Edward Flindell's. 

* You are not going back to France just yet ? ' 
he asked eagerly. 

' No, Mr. Flindell,' was the quiet friendly 
answer, ' I remain here anyhow till the spring.' 

He had just time to murmur a low ' Very 
glad,' when the Rector entered, jocular as he 
ever was when in imruffled temper. 

' Come, come, Flindell,' he cried, * flirting 
with my little governess ! Well, as you know, 
I'm always ready to tie the matrimonial knot ; 
what else are we parsons good for ? ' 



HALLOO LARGESS 221 

Mr. Flindell looked shy as the veriest hudderen 
caught a'nannicking with some mawther under 
the mistletoe. Without a change of countenance, 
Aimee put away Bob's music -book, closed the 
piano, readjusted music-stools, and left the 
room. 

* On my word,' said Mr. Pascoe, when the 
pair found themselves alone, ' if you were a 
marrying man you might do worse ! She 's 
the briskest, cleverest, nattiest little creature 
I ever came across, and would manage a farm- 
house as if to the manner born ; you know we 
English are all loutish compared to the French. 
They can turn their hands — or brains — ^to any- 
thing.' 

The business of the evening then came up, 
a bit of church wall was crumbling ; how much 
could the churchwarden squeeze out of his 
fellow-parishioners towards reparation ? Again, 
Burridge was scandalously behind its neigh- 
bours in the matter of church accommodation. 
Every parish for miles round had long ago 
replaced the old-fashioned pews by the more 
commodious system of benching. Could not 
folks' feelings here be worked up on this subject ? 
The indecency of sleeping open-mouthed just 
imder the pulpit too ! Surely, benches would 
do away with such acts of irreverence ? Pew- 



222 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

corners, on the contrary, invited somnolence, 
were veritable arm-chairs enticing even the 
well-disposed to sleep and snore instead of 
following the sermon. 

Mr. Pascoe's harangue was interrupted by 
the bursting in of Dick and Bob. 

' Papa, Mr. Flindell ; Mr. Flindell, papa ! ' 
shouted both; 'the men are not hip, hip, 
hooraying, but fighting, trying to kill each 
other ; do go, papa, Mr. Flindell.' 

The Rector rose, much disconcerted. 

' You farmers will have to put a stop to these 
Largess-spendings,' he said, looking round for 
his boots. ' Come, Flindell, let U6 see what we 
can do ; but, of course, Mumpford ought to be 
there.' 

' Mr. Mumpford is in bed with the tooth-ache, 
folks say ; there 's nobody there to stop the 
fighting.' 

' It 's a regular battle, papa,' put in Bob ; 
' do make haste ; Miss Aimee made us run.' 

' Run, indeed ! well she might ; fetch my 
stick ; there, the big one with the knob ; aye, 
I'll use it too if words won't quiet the block- 
heads,' said Mr. Pascoe. * Flindell, where 's 
yours ? You haven't a stick, then fetch my 
second big one. Bob. That 's it. Sophy, my 
love,' he shouted at the drawing-room door, 



HALLOO LARGESS 223 

' Mr. Flindell and I are only going to break 
a few heads at the *' Barley Mow" ; don't be 
alarmed if you see me come home with my own 
bandaged up.' 

Now there can be no doubt whatever that 
there is nothing half so delightful to the general 
run of mankind as the prospect of a rattling 
scrimmage. The good old Mohawk days are 
over ; more harmless folks in the main than 
these honest Burridgers did not wear corduroy 
and high-lows, yet the notion of bludgeoning 
a few into tractable behaviour to-night, stimu- 
lated Mr. Pascoe, as the beating of drum- 
ecclesiastic in other fields. 

No sooner had the little party quitted the 
Rectory gates than the sounds of tumult burst 
upon them. The ' Barley Mow ' lay but a furlong 
off, and as they approached, suggestive shouts 
reached their ears, one or two voices, notably 
shrill feminine ones, rising above the rest. 

' Worse, all of you, than Sodom and Go- 
morrah ! ' clarioneted Karra ; ' brimstone and 
fire are a sight deal too good for the lot of you.' 

' There, don't be buffeted about like a molly- 
coddle, give 'em a lesson, father 1 ' trumpeted 
Miss Amma. 

' Who stole his master's corn ? ' viciously 
piped Mrs. Lyddy. 



224 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

With these shrill notes and the penetrating 
squeak of little Smy, were mingled bass notes, 
threats, and objurations of the able-bodied 
partisans respectively of Elisha and Jerry. 

' Who thinks he 's a'going to be head-man at 
the Hall ? ' Jerry was heard to shout. 

* Who thinks he can mock folks as he please ? ' 
was Ebby's manful retort, presumably accom- 
panied by a blow. 

' And that there 's no jail in Ipswich, though 
the parish constable be abed with the mulli- 
grubs,' screamed Karra. 

Then above the scuffle and confusion, melee 
of village Montagues and Capulets, Guelph and 
Ghibelline, were heard alarming shouts of 
* Murder ! Help ! ' with ' Seize him ! Give it 
'em ! Punch his head ! ' and the Hke, half 
smothering the remonstrances of outsiders and 
the frightened cries of the children. 

Not one whit daunted, hastening past Aimee 
and her charges, the burly Rector, with lifted 
bludgeon, forced his way into the thick of the 
fight. 

* Churchwarden ! ' he thundered out — ^his 
voice was by far the most powerful in the 
parish — ' I call on you in the Queen's name to 
do your duty. Blockheads ! blackguards ! be- 
sotted idiots ! That ever I should own such a lot 



HALLOO LARGESS 225 

of parishioners ! Hands off ! Desist ! Quiet ! 
Do you suppose that because the parish con- 
stable, by the grace of God, is confined to his 
bed, the law of the land is to be set at naught ? 
I'd have you to know then, one and all, church- 
goers and ranters — a pretty set all of you — I'd 
have you to know that the authority of your 
minister is not confined to the pulpit. Lay 
about with your cudgel, churchwarden, I take 
upon myself all responsibility. Home, meek as 
lambs, every mother's son of you, or it 's not 
the ringleaders alone, I'll warrant you, who'll 
find their way to the treadmill.' 

The unexpected onslaught had immediate 
effect. Mr. Pascoe's sudden appearance, bran- 
dished weapon, and stentorian shouts sobered 
brawlers, separated combatants, cowed the 
bullies, and silenced the women. Just as 
a crowd melts away when overtaken by a hail- 
storm, so the Largess-spenders now dispersed ; 
some scuttled in one direction, others slunk 
away in another, all with the utmost possible 
dispatch getting beyond reach of the Rector's 
knobstick and vituperations. 

It was the latter that most impressed. In 
those early days villagers might be meeteners, 
indifferentists, infidels, so-called, but a certain 
kind of divinity did hedge a parson. The least 

194 Q 



226 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

devotional, the most uncompromising Noncon., 
the openly irreverent, in the person of a clergy- 
man respected much that he would have found 
it difficult to define. And as yet the pulpit still 
represented an immense amount of temporal 
power, up to a certain point, excommunication 
itself ? Could not the parson cut off Christmas 
beef and coals, charge what he chose for 
a bricked grave, refuse consecrated burial 
ground to the unbaptized, even the Table to the 
disreputable ? His theology might be called 
into question : quite otherwise was it with his 
weight as a servant of the Crown, a magnate 
second to none. 

A few minutes later and the ' Barley Mow ' was 
barred, shuttered, silent. Never wore Burridge 
a more peaceful aspect than when Mr. Flindell 
returned home, once more dreaming happy 
dreams ! 



CHAPTER XXI 

THE CUTTING OF THE GORDIAN KNOT 

But a nightmare had yet to be shaken off, 
dispelled for once and for all, Heaven only 
knew how ! When next dawn Mr. Flindell was 
aroused by the ' Come back, come back ' of the 
guinea-fowls under his lattice, the disturbing, 
the terrible reality flashed on his mind. Michael- 
mas Day was at hand. Miss Studd would now 
learn that her challenge had been accepted, in 
other words, that when he took possession of the 
Hall Farm, Elisha followed him. What if she 
chose to put self-love in her pocket and stay, 
stay, and stay and stay ? 

It hardly discredits the stronger sex, oft-times 
the reverse, to say that they lack moral courage, as 
a rule, and detest the necessity of doing or saying 
an unpleasant thing. Women, on the contrary, 
even the best principled and the least aggres- 
sive, seldom have scruples of this sort. Perhaps 
it is the maternal instinct, inherited and diluted, 
that accounts for the possession. Apart from 
the touching, gracious aspect of motherhood, all 
must acknowledge a certain hardness pertaining 
Q2 



228 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

to such condition. Any woman rightly enough 
will face fire for her nurslings, hence by a pro- 
cess of evolution the sex has acquired a disregard 
of consequences, an apparent insensibility to 
the feelings of others from which men are 
mainly exempt. 

Edward Flindell was an instance in point. 
Who so able as himself to decide upon the 
culpability of his horseman ? Who could claim 
any right whatever to dictate to him upon the 
subject of retaining Elisha Sage ? 

In a pet Miss Studd chose to throw up her 
situation. Was he not free to take her at her 
word ? 

For all that, the farmer accused himself of 
ingratitude. In his secret heart he deplored 
the step she had forced upon him, and the good 
fortune of which she was author. So long as he 
lived he should hear of that nocturnal alarm 
and be twitted about that stolen march upon 
his neighbours ; yet he must admit that, materi- 
ally speaking, he was greatly her debtor. Come 
good seasons or bad, peace prices or war prices, 
corn-rents or fixed rents, a long lease of such an 
occupation meant prosperity, a pre-eminently 
enviable lot. And utterly as he had failed to 
read one woman's heart, blind as he had been to 
the real reason of Aimee's indignant outburst. 



CUTTING OF THE GORDIAN KNOT 22d 

here he could not be mistaken. Maria Studd 
thus zealously eared for his interests because 
she wished, nay, intended, to become his wife. 
Such then was the problem that confronted 
Edward Flindell on Michaelmas Eve. Several 
weeks had now passed since Maria's threat, his 
own decision about Elisha must by this time 
have reached her ears, yet she gave no sign. 
And it seemed clear as daylight that her capitula- 
tion, if accepted by him, entailed the final fare- 
well to love and romance, to Aimee the Beloved. 
The future lay in his own hands, all the same he 
felt helpless. 

Daily tasks brought counsel ; whilst scatter- 
ing corn to his feathered tribe and doling out 
milk and barley-meal to his pigs, he bethought 
himself of a way out of the dilemma. 

' Just bring round my gig at eleven o'clock,' 
he said to Smy, who always helped him at feed- 
ing time. 

The odd little parody of a man eyed his 
employer with a cunning, animal-like expres- 
sion. Had parson and master put their heads 
together about last night's rumpus ? Were the 
whole lot of Largess-spenders to be sent up to 
the [ 'Sizes ' ? Smy pondered and pondered, 
getting out just as they had emptied their 
pails. 



230 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

* I only halloo'd and tugged at the " Mow ", 
master ; none can say as how I laid hands on 
any one or sauced my betters.' 

Mr. Flindell's thoughts seemed elsewhere. 

* What might you be a'saying ? ' he asked, 
absently. 

' I was only alludin' to the bobbery at the 
" Mow "/ replied Smy, in a low pleading little 
whine, ' and mentioning which I know as none 
can deny, that I meddled and maked with no 
one, I only halloo'd and draw'd when asked to.' 

The farmer smiled. 

' Don't be afraid, Smy, every one knows that 
you're harmless as a tom-tit,' "vfas the uncom- 
plimentary yet soothing answer. 

Mr. Flindell had just before, and most luckily 
for himself, remembered a Michaelmas sale 
announced for to-day at Neqdham Market. He 
wanted to see Samuel, who was sure to be there, 
he wanted a drill, above all things, he wanted an 
excuse for absenting himself. The errand would 
keep him from home for several hours, most 
likely till tea-time. And, meanwhile, what 
easier than to settle matters in writing, leave 
a letter on the keeping-room sideboard ? He 
had only to enclose a quarter's salary, thank 
her for past services, and express good wishes 
for her future. And if a storm should break 



CUTTING OF THE GORDIAN KNOT 231 

over his head on his return, he determined to 
take refuge in silence. Not a syllable either of 
apology or self-defence would he utter. 

Bold decisions and Michaelmas sales are in 
themselves cheerful enough, but Mr. Flindell 
could not shake off misgiving. Over the twelve 
o'clock dinner at the ' Greyhound ' he met this 
acquaintance and that, and nobody said any- 
thing disagreeable to him. Even Samuel re- 
frained from allusions to ' a notable wife,' and 
the usual, ' look out and you haven't far to 
look, Ederd, for such-like.' The sale was well 
attended, and he succeeded in making one or 
two excellent bargains. With improved spirits 
he set out for home, but had hardly driven two 
miles when an appalling vision met his eyes. 

From the opposite direction rattled Mr. Cage's 
light spring-cart, and seated in it — there could 
not possibly be any mistake — was Maria Studd ! 

The road here slightly curved upwards, so that 
Mr. Flindell, with slackened rein, crawled up-hill, 
for up-hill would seem this just perceptible slope 
to all Suffolkers. The innkeeper's pony-trap, 
driven by Smy, came downwards at full speed. 
Before the farmer had time to collect his 
thoughts, goer and comer were face to face. 

But instead of a fury, a termagant, or at least 
a shrew, he now saw the placablest, most 



232 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

exuberating, most hilarious visage imaginable. 
Under her big straw bonnet, the little woman's 
cheeks glowed ruddier than ever, her eyes 
twinkled as he had never seen them twinkle 
before, her countenance beamed, shone, sparkled 
with joy and benignity. 

' I can't stop a moment, Mr. Flindell,' she 
said, ' only half a one to tell you that the keys 
are left with Mrs. Cage, who will see to things 
till — ' here she leaned forward, and turning 
her back upon Smy, added in a low significant 
voice, ' till my uncle Josh is dead — or well — 
the last not being at all likely. He 's taken bad 
and sent for me, and I'm much mistaken if 
that doesn't mean a sight of money. The old 
gentleman is said to be worth ten thousand 
pound, if a penny.' 

Mr. Joshua was a bachelor uncle of the 
numerous Miss Studds, a jobber, as cattle- 
dealers were called in those parts, and univers- 
ally held rich. But another reputation, that of 
being a so-called ' gay man ', had hitherto 
damped the hopes of his nieces, and, to their 
credit be it said, had kept them aloof from 
a disreputable relative. In the eleventh hour, 
the septuagenarian seemed to remember that 
blood was stronger than water, and that if 
a man was at liberty to do as he liked with his 



CUTTING OF THE GORDIAN KNOT 233 

own, it looked respectable and eased the con- 
science, to befriend his brother's children at 
the last. 

Mr. Flindell stammered out something, it 
little mattered what : Miss Studd had no ears. 

' Drive on, Smy,' she cried, nodding and smil- 
ing adieux. 

Then, as Smy put the pony to a brisk trot, 
she turned round, shouting at the top of her 
voice : 

' You'll hear from me come Sunday.' 

Gig and pony-cart were soon out of each 
other's sight, the farmer rousing himself as 
from a dream ; Christian freed from his burden 
did not realize a more complete deliverance. 

It was clear that Miss 'Ria's eye had not 
lighted upon his letter. As clearly stood out 
the fact that she herseH had cut the Gordian 
knot. He was now a free man, at liberty to 
send cheque and boxes after her, to announce 
his engagement of a successor — or his mar- 
riage ! 



CHAPTER XXII 

CONCLUSION 

Autumn had come, the beauty and softness 
of October compensating beforehand for dark 
bitter days in store. Broad and splendid now 
were the golden shafts of afternoon sun, mellow 
the foliage of Drift and pightle. A soft brooding 
peace succeeded the husbandman's jubilee ; in 
to-day's landscape there was no exhilaration, 
no overflow of life, no superabundant fruition ; 
instead, the quietude of harvested labours, the 
benison of repose. As a soft purple cloud, 
myriads of tiny blossoms coloured the fallow, 
wild thyme, peppermint, and minute heartsease ; 
these last so many little cheering eyes invoking 
hope and dreams of merry springtide. Wheat- 
sowing had not yet begun, nor turnip-pulhng, 
but the interregnum was well filled. There was 
the clamping of potatoes for winter use, the 
carting of manure from Ipswich stables, the 
stacking of haulm, with minor tasks enow alike 
in farm-yard and field, stock-feeding, turnip 
and chaff cutting, and the like, whilst from 



CONCLUSION 235 

morning till night the flail echoed on the barn- 
floor. 

Then there was the ' acorning ' of the pigs, 
and weed-burning, both features of this season 
in the good old farming times. When the beans 
had been garnered, last crop of the year, came 
the Largess -spending of the pigs. Wherever, 
either in meadow or cleared fields, stood oak 
trees, pigs were turned out for their ' acorning ', 
as the phrase went. 

Were, indeed, an euthanasia devised for these 
creatures, some painless and peaceful falling 
asleep after playing their homely part in eco- 
nomic history, how happy were they 1 The 
sight of acorning pigs would then be one to 
afford unmitigated satisfaction : the grunter's 
lot would become a parable. How the harm- 
less, comely things here snorted with delight ! 
How they jostled each other, as much from good 
fellowship as from gastronomic impatience ! 
How they scrunched the sweet young acorns ! 

At this season, weed-burning also took place, 
and a pictorial sight was that of ruddy flames 
rising above the neutral-tinted landscape, 
copperish column against the pale blue heavens. 
Weeds would thus be consumed before breaking 
up the fallow ; brambles and brushwood being 
pitchforked on to the heap in order to expedite 



236 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

matters. On this especial afternoon some of 
Mr. Flindell's men were so employed, himself, 
in straw hat and shirt sleeves, aiding the 
business. 

A joyous volley of young voices roused him 
from his reverie. 

' Mr. Flindell, Mr. Flindell, do let us come in 
and pitchfork too ! ' cried half a dozen little 
Pascoes at once. 

Glancing up he saw the two boys boarding 
the nearest gate ; behind it, with her elder pupils, 
Aimee the Beloved. It was a half -holiday, 
and all had been blackberrying by the hedge 
rows. Without waiting for permission the 
noisy crew poured in, their governess following 
slowly. 

The farmer's eyes brightened ; for a moment 
he forgot everything but the vision before him ; 
then the radiant look changed to one of intense 
humility. Aimee, ever mistress of herself, 
came forward and held out her hand, the 
children meantime frisking and shrieking round 
the bonfire like so many imps of mischief, 
Zeky giving Jack a rake, Esther Ann a pitch- 
fork, Smy piling bramble upon bramble for their 
delectation. With every fresh flame rose a 
joyous shout from the children. 

' I wanted to see you very much,' Aimee now 



CONCLUSION 237 

said, in frank friendly tones. Younger by far 
in years, much older by virtue of experience and 
intuition, this girl read her simple-minded lover 
through and through ; she realized how wide 
the difference between an Aimee de Richemont 
and an Edward Flindell, the one living in 
a world he knew not, the world of books, 
pianofortes, and cosmopolitan intercourse, the 
other's interests strictly confined to his farm 
and immediate surroundings. His sterling 
qualities she recognized now, above all the 
compensating all in all, wholly independent of 
circumstances that bind two human beings 
together. 

' I wished to say how sorry I am for having 
spoken to you as I did,' she said, calmly meeting 
his wistful look ; ' I own that I was somewhat 
hasty, but I felt aggrieved with myself and with 
you as well.' 

' You were a bit hasty,' he began in a tone of 
fondest reproach ; * you are a good scholar and 
genteelly brought up, and I am a plain man. 
I could not say what I wanted to say, or make 
you understand.' 

Aimee felt her tears rising. 

* No one here ever showed me real considera- 
tion but yourself,' she said. 

* You are too clever, too much above a plain 



238 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

farmer. I mustn't look so high/ he murmured. 
Then his voice died away in a sob. 

' No, no ! ' she cried, eagerly. ' Never say 
that again, it is you who are too good for me, 
forgive, forgive. I did not understand you, 
I did not understand myself that day when we 
drove to market.' 

Then in a transport of pity, seK-reproach and 
love, she caught his rough hand in hers and 
raised it to her lips. 

That unexpected, bewildering kiss made things 
even between them, relieved Aimee's conscience, 
and gave her lover a voice. It told, as she could 
never have told in words, what store she set by 
such devotion as his, and made him realize that 
the only equivalent to give in return was her 
own. The poor little gifts and graces, the value 
of which he so much overrated, her boarding- 
school accomplishments, her superior know- 
ledge of men and manners, how poor were these 
by comparison with a heart of gold ? Mr. 
Flindell, for his part, was metamorphosed by 
that magic kiss, and from trembling, self -abas- 
ing suitor, changed to joyous confident bride- 
groom. He now beamed upon her as if already 
they belonged to each other, in full assurance 
that no future misunderstandings were possible. 
The children were frisking about the burning 



CONCLUSION 239 

weeds, he could safely say the little, yet all in 
all, that he had to say. 

' Aimee — the Beloved,' he said, his eyes fixed 
on her upraised, adorable, half-French, half- 
English, face ! ' You will always be that, as 
I told you when we drove to market in harvest 
time. But I should like you to write home, my 
dear, afore I speak to the Elector about banns. 
And be sure and tell your ma and your 
father, that though he is a Frenchman, they'll 
be welcome to the Hall when you are missus 
there.' 

Aimee could only thank him with twin smile 
and tear. Then they rejoined the weed-burners, 
talking freely. Already they seemed to have 
known each other all their lives. 

This field had been the scene of their romantic 
holiday-making in mid-harvest. As the fiery 
columns now shot upwards, with prickly thorn 
and noxious weed, many a fair blossom being 
consumed, did they herein read a parable ? 
Thus, in their own hearts, had passion been 
consumed, mistrust, recrimination, bitterness 
giving way to a reign of hope, springtide of love 
and joy following angry conflict. And the sights 
and sounds around, the gold and purple eyes 
of the tiny heartsease on the fallow, the twitter 
of hedgerow robin, the mellow glow of autumn, 



240 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

hardly to be called sunshine, but even more 
beautiful — what were all these but so many 
hints of quiet happiness, suggestions of the 
peace, joy, and loveliness that still soften and 
embellish the human lot ? 

The first person the farmer met on returning 
home was Ehsha. 

' You've finished stacking the haulm. Master 
Sage ? ' he asked, in a voice of suggestive 
pleasantness. 

' Yes, Mr. Flindell, and I s'pose I'll be sent 
a'carting muck to-morrow.' 

' That 's it,' was the reply. ' We shall have 
wheat-sowing upon us in no time.' 

Then he added significantly : 

' I've talked to your wife, as of course she 
told you.' 

' Yes, Mr. Flindell, and I thank you kindly.' 

There was no exhilaration about Elisha's look 
or manner as he said this, nor any display of 
feeling on the other's part. Even on solemn 
occasions, at christening, marriage, or burial, 
farmer and ploughman never shook hands or 
indulged in sympathetic little outbursts. To- 
day, both men were drawn towards each other. 
Was not Elisha the agent of deliverance, 
thought the master ? Would not some men 
have sent him to jail for a lesser offence ? 



CONCLUSION 241 

mused his servant. Yet the two behaved with 
the stolidity and aloofness of every day. 

* You'll have thirteen shillings a week at the 
Hall, but you must set a good example to the 
rest,' was all Mr. Flindell added, and made for 
the house. 

Elisha looked after him with filling eyes and 
quivering lips. 

Oh ! the pathos of the unspoken word, the 
word so easy to say, the saying of which 
would set all things right, yet for ever remains 
unsaid. 

Elisha knew it well enough. He had only to 
unburden himself to Mr. Flindell in a sentence, 
and the old, contented, happy life were his 
again. 

* Master, never mind about the extra shillings 
a week, let me have Smiler back, and I'd lay 
down my life for you.' 

But it is just the destiny lying in our own 
hands that remains unfulfilled, and something 
more than timidity, a sense of the fitness of 
things held Elisha back. This blank in his 
existence, this cruel wrench, wore the aspect of 
retribution, of a stern Scriptural lesson. Had 
not the son of Sirach said, * Be ashamed of theft 
in regard of the place where thou sojournest,' 
and after all, a theft was a theft, no matter the 

194 ^ 



242 THE LORD OF THE HARVEST 

circumstances under which it might be com- 
mitted. 

And what also troubled his mind was the 
fact of tarnished dignity. Not only as a steward 
of other men's goods had he sinned, but in 
his capacity as leader of men, as Lord of the 
Harvest ! 



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THE WORLDS CLASSICS 



LIST OF THE SERIES 

The figures in parentheses denote the number of the book in the series 

Aeschylus. The Seven Plays. Translated by Lewis Campbell. (117) 
Ainsworth (W. Harrison). The Tower of London. (162) 
A Kempis (Thomas). Of the Imitation of Christ. (4^) 
Aristophanes. Frere's translation of the Acharnians, Knights, Birdt, 

and Frogs. Introduction by W. W. Merrt. (134) 
Arnold (Matthew), Poems. Introduction by Sir A. T. Quiller- 

CoucH. (85) 
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Jackson. (60) 
Austen (Jane). Emma. Introduction by E. V. Lucas. (129) 
Bacon. The Advancement of Learning, and the New Atlantis. Intro- 
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Essays. (24) 
Bar ham. The Ingoldsby Legends. (9) 
Blackmore (R. D.). Loma Doone. 
Borrow, The Bible In Spain. (75) 
Lavengro. (66> 
The Romany Rye. (73) 
Bronte Sisters. 

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, (i) 
Shirley. (14) 
Villette. (47) 

The Professor, and the Poems of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne 
Bronte. Introduction by Theodore Watts-Dunton. (78) 
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights. (10) 
Anne Bronte. Agnes Grey. (141) 
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. (67) 
Brow^n (Dr. John), Horae Subsecivae. Introduction by Austin 
DOBSON. (118) 

Browning (Elizabeth Barrett), Poems : A Selection. (176) 
Browning (Robert), Poems and Plays, 1833-1842. (58) 

Poems, 1842-1864. (137) 
Buckle. The History of Civilization in England. 3 vols. (41, 48, 53) 
Bunyan. The Pilgrim's Progress. (12) 
Burke. Works. 6 vols. 

Vol. I. General Introduction by Judge WiLLis and Preface by F. W. 
Raffety. (71) 

Vols. II. IV, V, VI. Prefaces by F. W. Raffktt. (81, 1x2-114) 

Vol. III. Preface by F. H. Willis, (hi) 
Burns, Poems. (34) 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



List of the Series— continued 

Butler. The Analogy of Religion. Edited, with Notes, by W. E. 

Gladstone. (136) 
Byron. Poems : A Selection. (180) [In preparation \ 

Carlyle. On Heroes and Hero- Worship. (62) 

Past and Present. Introduction by G. K. Chesterton. (153) 

Sartor iJesartus. (19) 

The French Revolution. Introduction by C. R. L. Fletcher. 2 vols. 

(125, 126) 
The Life of John Sterling. Introduction by W. Hale White. (144) 
Cervantes. Don Quixote. Translated by C. Jervas. Introduction and 
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(130, 131) 
Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales. (76) 

Chaucer. The Works of. From the text of Professor Sxeat. 3 vols. 
Vol. I (42); Vol. II (56); Vol. Ill, containing the whole of the 
Canterbury Talcs (76) 
Cobbold. Margaret Catchpole. Introduction by Clement Shorter. 

(119) 
Coleridge. Poems. Introduction by Sir A. T. Quiller-Couch. (99) 
Cooper (T. Fenimore). The Last of the Mohicans. (163) 
Cowper. Letters. Selected, with Introduction, by E. V. Lucas. (138) 
Darwin. The Origin of Species. With a Note by Grant Allen, (ir) 
Defoe. Captain Singleton. Introduction by Theodore Watts-Dunton. 
(82) 
Robinson Crusoe. (17) 
De Quincey. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. (23) 
Dickens. Great Expectations. With 6 Illustrations by Warwick 
Goble. (128) 
Oliver Twist. (8) 
Pickwick Papers. With 43 Illustrations by Seymour and • Phiz.* 2 

vols. (120, 121) 
Tale of Two Cities. (38) 
Dufferin (Lord). Letters from High Latitudes. Illustrated. With 

Introduction by R. W. Macan. (158) 
Eliot (George). Adam Bede. (63) 

Felix Holt Introduction by ViOLA Meynkll. (179) 

Romola. Introduction by Viola Meynell. (178) 

Scenes of Clerical Life. Introduction by Annie Matheson. (155) 

Silas Marner, The Lifted Veil, and Brother Jacob. Introduction by 

Theodore Watts-Dunton. (80) 
The Mill on the Floss. (31) 
Emerson. English Traits, and Representative Men. (30) 
Essays. First and Second Series. (6) 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



List of the Series— continued 

English Essays. Chosen and arranged by W. Peacock. (32) 
English Essays, 1600-1900 (Book of). Chosen by S. V. Makower 

and B. H. Blackwell. (172) 
English Prose from Mandeville to Ruskin. Chosen and 

arranged by W. Peacock. (45) 
English Songs and Ballads. Compiled by T. W. H. Crosland 

(13) 
Fielding. Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon. Introduction and Notes by 

Austin Dobson. 2 Illustrations. (142) 
Gali (John). The Entail. Introduction by John Ayscough. (177) 
Gaskell (Mrs.). Introductions by Clement Shorter. 
Cousin Phillis, and other Tales, etc. (168) 
Cranford, The Cajge at Cranford, and The Moorland Cottage, (iia) 

The • Cage ' has not hitherto been reprinted. 
Uzzie Leigh, The Grey Woman, and other Tales, etc. (175) 
Mary Barton. (86) 
North and South. (154) 
Ruth. (88) 
Sylvia's Lovers. (156) 
Wives and Daughters. (157) 
Gibbon. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. With Maps. 7 vols. 
(35, 44. 51. 55, 64, 69, 74) 
Autobiography. Introduction by J. B. BURT. (139) 
Goethe. Faust, Part I (with Marlowe's Dr. Faustus). Translated by 

John Anster. Introduction by A. W. Ward. (135) 
Goldsmith. Poems. Introduction and Notes by Austin Dobson. 
(123) 
The Vicar of Wakefield. (4) 
Grant (James). The Captain of the Guard. (159) 
Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter. (26) 

Hazlitt. Lectures on the English Comic Writers. Introduction by 
R Brimley Johnson. (124) 
Sketches and Essays. (15) 
Spirit of the Age. (57) 
Table-Talk. (5) 
Winterslow. (25) 
Herbert (George). Poems. Introduction by Arthur Waugh. (109) 
Herrick. Poems. (16) 

Holmes (Oliver Wendell). The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table. 
(61) 
The Poet at the Breakfast-Table. Introduction by Sir W. Robertson 

NiCOLL. (95) 
The Professor at the Breakfast-Table. Introduction by Sir W. Robert- 
son NiCOLL. (89) 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



List of the Series— continued 

Homer. Iliad, Translated by Pope. (18) 

Odyssey. Translated by Pope. (36) 
Hood. Poems. Introduction by Walter Jerrold. (87) 
Home (R. Hengist). A New Spirit of the Age. Introduction by 

Walter Jerrold. (127) 
Hume. Essays. (33) 
Hunt (Leigh). Essays and Sketches. Introduction by R. Brimley 

Johnson. (115) 
The Town. Introduction and Notes by Austin Dobsom and a 

Frontispiece. (132) 
Irving ('Washington). The Conquest of Granada. (150) 

The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent Introduction by T, 

Balston. (173) 
Jerrold (Douglas). Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures, Mr. Caudle's 

Breakfast Talk, and other Stories and Essays. Introduction by 

Walter Jerrold, and 90 Illustrations by Keens, Leech, and 

Dotle. (122) 
Johnson. Lives of the English Poets. Introduction by Arthur 

Wadgh. 2 vols. (83, 84) 
Keats. Poems. (7) 

Keble. The Cliristian Year. (181) [/n preparation 

Lamb. Essays of Elia, and The Last Essays of Elia. (2) 
Lesage. Gil Bias. Translated by T. Smollett, with Introduction and 

Notes by J. Fitzmadrice-Kellt. 2 vols. (151, 153) 
LongfellO'tv. Evangeline, The Golden Legend, &c. (39) 

Hiawatha, Miles Standish, Tales of a Wayside Inn, &c. (174) 
Lytton. Harold. With 6 Illustrations by Charles Burton. (165) 
Macaulay. Lays of Ancient Rome ; Ivry ; The Armada. (27) 
Machiavelli. The Prince. Translated by LuiGl RICCL (43) 
Marcus Aurelius. See Aurelius. 
Marlovire. Dr. Faustus (with Goethe's Faust, Part I). Introduction by 

A. W.Ward. See Goethe. 
Marryat. Mr. Midshipman Easy. (160) 

The King's Own. With 6 Illustrations by WarwioI Goble. (164) 
Mill (John Stuart). On Liberty, Representative Government, and 

the Subjection of Women. With an Introduction by Mrs. 

Fawcett. (170) 
Milton. The English Poems. (182) 

Montaigne. Essays, Translated by J. Florio. 3 vols. (65, 70, 77) 
Morris CW.). The Defence of Guinevere, The Life and Death of Jason, 

and other Poems. (183) [In preparation 

Motley. Rise of the Dutch Republic. Introduction by Clement 

Shorter. 3 vols. (96, 97, 98) 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



List of the Series— continued 

Palgrave. The Golden Treasury. With additional Poems, includin| 

Fitzgerald's translation of Omar Khayyam. (133) 
Peacock '(W.). English Prose from Mandeville to Ruskin. (45) 

Selected English Essays. (32) 
Foe (Edgar Allan). Tales of Mystery and Imagination. (21) 
Porter (Jane). The Scottish Chiefs. (161) 
Reid (Mayne). The Rifle Rangers. With 6 Illustrations by J. B. 

SUTCLIFFE. (166) 

The Scalp Hunters. With 6 Illustrations by A. H. Collins. (167) 
Reynolds (Sir Joshua). The Discourses, and the Letters to 'The 

Idler.' Introduction by Austin Dobson. (149) 
Rossetti (Christina). Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress, and other 
Poems. (184) [In preparation 

Rossetti (D. G.). Poems and Translations, 1850-1870. (185) 

[In preparation 
Ruskin. {Ruskin House Editions, by arrangement with George Allen and 
Sons.) 
• A Joy for Ever/ and The Two Paths. Illustrated. (147) 
Sesame and Lilies, and The Ethics of the Dust. (145) 
Time and Tide, and The Crown of Wild Olive. (146) 
Unto this Last, and Munera Pulveris. (148) 
Scott. Ivanhoe. (29) 

Lives of the Novelists. Introduction by Austin Dobson. (94) 
Poems. A Selection. (186) [In preparation 

Shakespeare. Plays and Poems. With a Preface by A. C. Swinburnr 
and general Introductions to the several plays and poems by 
Edward Dowden, and a Note by T. Watts-Dunton on tht 
special typographical features of this Edition. 9 vols. 
Comedies. 3 vols. (100, loi, 102) 
Histories and Poems. 3 vols. (103, 104, 105) 
Tragedies. 3 vols. (106, 107, ic8) 
Shelley. Poems. A Selection. (187) [In preparation 

Sheridan. Plays. Introduction by Joseph Knight. (79) 
Smith (Adam). The Wealth of Nations. 2 vols. (54, 59) 
Smollett. Travels through France and Italy. Introduction by Thomas 

Seccombk. (90) 
Sophocles. The Seven Plays. Translated by the late Lkwis Campbil' 

(116) 
Southey (Robert). Letters. Selected, with an Introduction 

Notes, by Maurick H. FitzGerald. (169) 
Sterne. Tristram Shandy. (40) 
Swift. Gulliver's Travels. (20) 
Tennyson (Lord). Pocmt. (3) 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



List of the S^ri^S— continued 

Thackeray, Book of Snobs, Sketches and Travels in London, &c. (50) 

Henry Esmond. (28) 

Pendenms. Introduction by Edmund Gosss. 2 vols. (91, 92) 
Thoreau. Walden. Introduction by Theodore VVatts-Dunton. (68) 
Tolstoy. Essays and Letters. Translated by Aylmer Maude. (46) 

Twenty-three Tales. Translated by L. and A. Maude. (72) 
TroUope. The Three Clerks. Introduction by W. Teignmouth 

Shore. (143) 
Virgil. Translated by Dryden. (37) 
Watts-Dunton (Theodore). Aylwin. (52) 

Wells (Charles). Joseph and his Brethren. With an Introduction by 
Algernon Charles Swinburne, and a Note on Rossetti and 
Charles Wells by Theodore Watts-Dunton. (143) 
White (Gilbert). History of Selborne. (22) 

Whittier. Poems. A Selection. (188) [In preparation 

Wordsworth. Poems : A Selection. (189) [/n preparation 

Other Volumes in Preparation, 



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