The Project Gutenberg eBook of Sister Gertrude: A Tale of the West Riding

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Title: Sister Gertrude: A Tale of the West Riding

Author: D. F. E. Sykes

Release date: January 8, 2017 [eBook #53919]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by John Parkinson



Sister Gertrude,

A Tale of the

West Riding.



Author of “The History of Huddersfield,”

“The History of the Colne Valley,”

“Ben 0’ Bill’s, the Luddite,”

“Tom Pinder, Foundling,”

Etc., Etc.



About the author

D. F. E. Sykes

D F E Sykes was a gifted scholar, solicitor, local politician, and newspaper proprietor. He listed his own patrimony as ‘Fred o’ Ned’s o’ Ben o’ Billy’s o’ the Knowle’ a reference to Holme village above Slaithwaite in the Colne Valley. As the grandson of a clothier, his association with the woollen trade would be a valuable source of material for his novels, but also the cause of his downfall when, in 1883, he became involved in a bitter dispute between the weavers and the mill owners.

When he was declared bankrupt in 1885 and no longer able to practise as a solicitor he left the area and travelled abroad to Ireland and Canada. On his return to England he struggled with alcoholism and was prosecuted by the NSPCC for child neglect. Eventually he was drawn back to Huddersfield and became an active member of the Temperance Movement. He took to researching local history and writing, at first in a local newspaper, then books such as ‘The History of Huddersfield and its Vicinity’. He also wrote four novels. It was not until the 1911 Census, after some 20 years as a writer, that he finally states his profession as ‘author’.

In later life he lived with his wife, the daughter of a Lincolnshire vicar, at Ainsley House, Marsden. He died of a heart attack following an operation at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary on 5th June 1920 and was buried in the graveyard of St Bartholomew’s in Marsden.


In all of Sykes’ novels he draws heavily on his own life experiences though none more so than in this, his third, semi-autobiographical novel. The Edward Beaumont of the novel is indeed Sykes; his solicitors practice and early political aspirations are featured along with his romance of the daughter of a Lincolnshire vicar. From newspaper articles we can also confirm that he was a councillor and a potential parliamentary candidate for the West Staffordshire constituency; his embroilment with the weavers dispute, bankruptcy and his dependency on alcohol are also well documented. He is however selective in what he chooses to reveal about himself and uses artistic licence to make the book more readable. He does give us an insight into his ideas, opinions and aspirations and the turmoil he must have endured before turning his life around. It is a salutary lesson in how a talented man can be destroyed for his convictions and his struggle, with support, to regain his self-respect.



It was a summer evening of the early eighties, and market-day in the ancient manufacturing town of Huddersfield, in the West Riding. The town is called a manufacturing town in the geographies, and its name may be found therein among the leading centres of the great cloth industry. As a matter of fact, though, to be sure, there are still some few mills in the lower quarters and outskirts of the town, and hard by the inky river that runs through it, the cloth for which Huddersfield is noted is manufactured for the most part in the adjacent villages, and the town itself is its central mart. On market-days the manufacturers of the rural districts, if rural is a term to be applied with any propriety to clusters of mills situate on lofty steeps, betake themselves to the town, attend the Cloth Market, or may be seen in their town warehouses or at the corners of the streets converging on the Cloth Hall, dine heavily at the market ordinary of their favourite hostelry, see their bankers and their lawyers, and not uncommonly, in the late afternoon, join their buxom wives or comely daughters at an accustomed rendezvous, assist in the weekly household shopping of their frugal dames, and by them are driven home in that outward and visible sign of commercial prosperity and social respectability, the family gig or trap. By the time the worthy owner of mill and loom is seated at his ample board, surrounded by his Lares and Penates, consuming the home-fed ham and domestic muffin, and quaffing his fragrant Souchong, his mill hands, male and female, donned in their second-best, have in their turn betaken themselves townwards to see the sights, and indulge the mild dissipation of strolling the streets, gazing in the shop-windows, making a modest purchase—it is then that the Phyllis of the loom buys for Corydon the meerschaum pipe he is afraid to smoke except on Sundays, and that Corydon wastes his substance on sweet-meats for the ripe lips of his charmer. Or maybe Phyllis and Corydon, amorously-linked, seek the pit-door of the town theatre to suck oranges and furtive peppermints, whilst the buskined villain struts upon the none too ample stage and declaims his stilted speech.

It was, then, about eight of the evening of a certain Summer market-day when two young men, arm in arm, lounged leisurely past the Market Place, and stopped for no other reason than to see why others had stopped, for a small and shifting crowd had gathered round the base of the Market Cross, and were giving, some a rapt and sustained attention, others but the brief hearing of a soon-sated curiosity to a speaker standing upon the Cross’s pedestal. The audience were, for the most part, of young and little heedful holiday-makers, who took the speaking as part of their outing, and one of the many wonderful things to be heard of market-days, and to be mused upon at leisure, amid the clack of the loom and the hum of the revolving wheels, or discussed in the interchange of feminine experiences for which the all too brief dinner-hour avails.

There was, however, a fringe of the more serious-minded, who listened to the speaker with solemn attention, and regarded her with respectful appreciation. These, one may surmise, were in their several homes Sunday-school teachers or chapel members themselves, with some experience of spiritual exhorting, and feeling under some compulsion to lend their countenance, if only, by the way, even to an unauthorised Evangelist. Nearer to the speaker stood a body of men and women, some with cymbals or other instruments of music or of noise, wearing the scarlet tunic and German-band cap, or the close-fitting serge costume and coal-scuttle bonnet by which the gentler soldiers of the Salvation Army seek to conceal what fairness of feature it has pleased the good God to give them.

These militant believers served not only as a body-guard of the central figure of the gathering, but as a chorus; a stalwart, rugged-featured soldier, whose secular calling was the ungentle craft of a butcher, evoking an occasional subdued note from the drum he beat o’ nights to the praise and glory of God; whilst a neat and modest maiden, once the slattern scullery-maid of the Red Lion, gently tinkled a tambourine, that served also as a collection-box for stray coppers earnestly entreated; and their brethren of both sexes punctuated the address of their leader by fervent “Amens,” “Glorys,” and “Hallelujahs,” ejaculated at frequent intervals and interspersed with as little regard to their appropriateness to the spoken word as a ’prentice compositor displays in the sprinkling of his commas in the printed line.

The speaker, to whom all faces were turned, was young and of a rare beauty. Her features were of Grecian cast, her eye of a soft, dark violet hue, her lips of that Cupid arch so seldom seen, her complexion pure, and suffused now with the glow of health or excitement, and her wealth of rippling hair was of dark chestnut hue, just touched by the parting rays of the westerning sun as it declined behind the roofs of the Bank on the opposite side of New Street, off which the Market Place stood. Her dress was of blue serge, fitting closely to a form of just proportions and unrelieved by any kind of ornament, unless a small cross of chased silver suspended round the neck might deserve the term. The hand, which was occasionally moved to emphasise a sentence or point a remark, was white and soft and well-formed. The voice in which she spoke was soft, sweet, pure, musical, almost caressing; her diction the chaste speech of education and refinement.

“Que diable, fait-elle dans cette galère?” muttered Edward Beaumont to his companion, as the two young men above-mentioned lingered on the fringe of the crowd.

“Oh! it’s one of that Salvation Army lot,” replied his friend, Sam Storth. “Come along, Beaumont. The usual thing, you know: hell and brimstone, blood and fire, and a collection.”

“Poachers on the preserves of the Church, eh, Sam? Well, you’ll admit the saint is pretty enough for a sinner. Let us listen.”

Sam Storth shrugged his shoulders, stretched his little legs apart, thrust his hands into his trousers’ pockets, yawned drearily, and fixed his big and bulging eyes upon the speaker, eyeing her beauty with the calmly critical survey he was wont to bestow upon the Coryphées of the local ballet. Edward Beaumont, whom two or three of the more respectably clad of the audience recognised and saluted, turned to the speaker with respectful and serious attention, already repenting of his jesting allusion to her good looks.

“Dear friends,” the girl was saying, as Beaumont and Storth joined the crowd, “believe me, we plead with you for your good. I cannot think it right so many of you should lead the lives you do. Some of you, I fear, live very far apart from Christ, living only, as it were, that you may continue to live. All your efforts, all your anxieties, are summed up in that—to continue to live. If you can live honestly you are the more content, because you do not like the risks of dishonesty. If you are unhappily compelled to live meanly, meagrely, you put up with it as best you may, hoping, for a turn of your luck. If you are not so compelled how do you show your gratitude to the Almighty giver and disposer? By faring sumptuously every day, caring only for raiment and fine linen, for dainty dishes, good cheer, soft living. Perhaps you are of the foolish ones that cannot be quite happy without the envy of your neighbours. Then you spend your money upon vanities that give you no real pleasure, except the poor delight of making someone jealous of your good fortune. You work very hard to get more money than you have any need for to buy luxuries that are hurtful to you body and soul. You are really very foolish so to waste this precious life in vain strivings. How much of the misery and poverty of this world are caused because one man conceives he cannot be happy till he has amassed a large fortune. It does not seem to matter to him that the price of his wealth is the abject misery of many whom in church on Sundays he calls his brothers. So have I seen a greedy pig snouting in the trough long after he has eaten his fill, and pushing aside some half-starved weakling of the same litter. The vaunted brotherhood of man is like that. Do you think that you have solved all problems when you have spoken glibly of supply and demand, or this new doctrine of the survival of the fittest? Methinks I see one of your sleek manufacturers, an alderman, maybe, perhaps a magistrate. He is well clad, housed sumptuously; he has money always at command, enough and to spare. I can fancy how sweet to him must be that smooth saying, ‘the survival of the fittest.’ Pshaw! The man mistakes a letter. He means the survival of the fattest. Do you think Jesus Christ died for the survival of the fittest, for the sacred law of supply and demand? It seems to me that the fittest do not survive. They are too fit, and the world crucifies them. That is the world’s way of dealing with the fittest. No! Jesus taught a very different doctrine, and His teaching will square with that of neither your Huxleys nor your Spencers, and still less will it square with your consecrated supply and demand. You have tried to carry on the world with theories of men’s devising. Are you satisfied with the result? Does Dives enjoy his dinner the more because he has perforce heard the moans of Lazarus at his gate? Is anybody who has a head to think and eyes to see and a heart to feel content with things as they now are? Oh, no! They tell me you people in Huddersfield are great Radicals and are going to set everything right by Act of Parliament. Well, you have tried Parliament tinkering a many centuries. Is the world so very much better for your Acts of Parliament? Don’t you think it is time to try a little of Christ’s doctrine? And Christ’s doctrine means what? In a word, Christ’s doctrine is Christ living. But you profess Christ on Sunday. Where do you put Him on Monday? On the shelf with the Family Bible. He is too sacred a Being, you think, perhaps, for the mill, the warehouse, the shop.

“Christ, I think, meant that the lives of the people should be more joyous, more free from carking care, from grinding poverty. I cannot think Christ meant the world should always have its Dives and always its Lazarus. Surely there is a happy board of solid comfort midway between the insolent ostentation and sinful waste of the rich man’s table, and the floor on which the dogs fight for the fallen crumbs. Let us find that happy mean, and there will be more of the brotherhood of man and more kinship with Christ.

“But you tell me that a working-man has only one use for good wages—to spend his superfluity in drink. I know full well how prone so many are to besot themselves with drink. But you—” and here the speaker looked full at Beaumont and the other well-dressed men, now not a few, who stood on the skirts of the growing gathering, “you who have never known want can scarcely credit me if I tell you that the most part of the fearful, sickening drunkenness of the people comes not from too much money, but from too little. When people are stupefied by drink they forget for a time their hunger, their rags, their mean, despicable condition, their empty, dirty homes, their squalid courts, their unkempt children, their slattern wives, in a word, they lose their real selves and become for an hour or two your equals. A drunken man is only dreaming with his eyes open, and when the waking life is so cold, so bare, so unlovely, do you wonder that men love to dream?

“Do I then excuse drunkenness? God forbid. Nay, rather do I plead with all that they should quit the accursed thing and not purchase for themselves that Fool’s Paradise, so costly, and from which they awake to find the world still harder. But I am here to-night to plead with all who may hear me, rich or poor, high or low, master or man, to try to live in all things the Christ-life. There are miserable sinners enough besides the poor drunkard. I daresay some of you have stopped to listen just on purpose to hear the faults and vices of the very poor and very lost denounced. It is soothing, no doubt, to see other people soundly trounced, to hear vices we haven’t got, and imagine we are never likely to have, scathingly lashed. But I think we’ll let the poor sinner have a rest to-night. There are sins in high as well as in low places, and first and foremost I count the sin and folly of setting all your heart and all your mind on the mad haste to be rich, caring to stand well with the world, to have the seat of honour at the feast, to surround yourself with all the garb and trappings of wealth—in a word, to get on. It is a mean and paltry ambition. Who are you that you should want to thrust yourself head and shoulders above your fellows? When the final judgment comes, what will it avail you to have piled up riches and be driven to church in a carriage and pair.

“I tell you, there are a few other matters that will have to be inquired into there——”

“Oh! come along, Beaumont,” said Storth, “we’ve had about enough of this bally rot. Canting humbug, I call it. Chuck the girl a bob, and let’s slide,” and he flung the silver coin towards the tambourine of Happy Sal and moved away. Beaumont flung no coin, but, raising his hat, followed his companion.

“I’d have liked to hear the end of it, Storth,” he said. “The young lady, for she’s that you can see with half an eye, has tackled a big subject. I fancy that’s not the usual kind of Salvation Army harangue. If it is, I think I must hunt up their barracks.”

“A lot of blooming nonsense, I call it. That is so far as I could understand what the dickens the girl was driving at. But I say, though, if she’s a fair sample of Salvation Army lasses, I think I’ll put in an hour or two at the Barracks myself. Face like a Mary Magdalene, hasn’t she? ’Spose that’s about the time of day with her, eh, Beaumont?”

“You’ll have to read faces better than that, Sam, or you’ll never be any good in Court,” said Beaumont. “Do you believe in anything or anybody? Is there no good thing under the sun?”

“Believe in anything or anybody? Rather. Not many bodies, but a good many things. I believe in Sam Storth. I’ve a very great respect for him too, and mean to do him well. I believe in a good dinner, and if somebody else is fool enough to pay for it, that won’t spoil my appetite, you bet. I believe in good wine, and it won’t break my heart if it comes out of your or any other fellow’s cellar, and if I can’t get good wine at your expense, I’ll be thankful for good beer at my own. There’s a very good tap of it at the Royal, let me tell you. And I believe in good clothes, and I’d rather drive than walk. Third-class riding’s better than first-class walking, let me tell you. And I like a good play, not Shakespeare, you know, nor anything classic, but something you can take easy, with plenty of leg in it, don’t you know! And I like a pretty girl, too, but not enough to chuck myself away on one, and I like a coin or two in an old stocking, for I’ve an eye for a rainy day, and don’t mean to be out in the wet when it comes. There, that’s about my credo, Beaumont, and if I can only get a fair share of what I want, there isn’t a heartier singer of the doxology in church than yours truly.”

“You’re a Sybarite, Sam, a frankly brutal sensualist. Well, I give you credit for making no pretences. You aren’t a hypocrite anyway.”

“It isn’t worth while with you, Beaumont. There’s nothing to be got out of you by make-believe. But I can pull a long face and snivel and turn up the whites of my eyes and groan on occasion. It’s in the family, you know. But I’m not paid for doing it. My uncle is. That’s all the difference. But here we are at the club. Don’t think I’ll go in just yet. I’ll do a half-time at the theatre. So long.”

Beaumont entered the reading-room of the club. There was no library in this feeble imitation of a London club. He took up the current number of the “Nineteenth Century Review.” He had to cut its leaves. The members of the club, manufacturers, merchants, and the larger shopkeepers preferred to have their monthlies boiled down for them by Mr. Stead in the “Review of Reviews.” But Edward could not concentrate his mind on the weighty problems discussed by the sages of the century. His thoughts wandered to the scene in the Market Place.

“Which is right,” he mused, “that girl or Sam? The girl, of course. But am I any better, au fond, than Storth, the epicurean little beast? Is there any difference between us, except that he is honest with himself? I spend my leisure in political agitation, and rather plume myself on being a Town Councillor and Vice-President of the Liberal Two Hundred at twenty-four, and would rather any day wag my tongue on a public platform for nothing than earn a couple of guineas by exercising the same useful member in the County Court or Police Court. But do I really care for the political reforms for which I agitate, and am I really indignant at the wrongs about which I wax eloquent? How much of my wrath against the House of Lords, I wonder, arises from the fact that I am not myself the ‘tenth transmitter of a foolish face?’ When I thunder against the iniquity of a restricted franchise, is it not, perhaps, mainly because it tickles my ears to hear the answering plaudits of the great unfranchised? Sam Storth likes soft living, and says so, and in that he is honest. I like monstrari digito et diceri hic Niger est. But I call my liking public spirit, intelligent Liberalism, and look to be, and indeed am, patted on the back for it by others and myself. His liking I call sensuality and scorn. But aren’t his ways and my ways equally a self-gratification in different forms? Now, that girl does really seem to care for people. I’ll be bound she feels like a sister to the poor wretches of the slums. There’s a screw loose with you somewhere, Edward, my boy. What’s the matter with you? That girl’s got religion. She believes in Christ. Curious; but I’ll bet she does. What a facility women have for accepting myths for facts. The clear, cold light of science is a grand thing, but I sometimes feel inclined to say, ‘Hang the clear, cold light of science.’ Heigho! the ‘Nineteenth’s’ deadly dull, and the ‘Contemporary’ attain a deeper depth of Beotian opacity. I wonder if I can cut in at a rubber.” And Beaumont threw his magazine aside and ascended to the higher regions of the Club, where two or three rooms were set aside for the devotees of whist, nap and poker.

Edward Beaumont and Sam Storth, though both solicitors, and partners in the practice of a much and perhaps undeservedly abused profession, were in almost every particular in which men may be compared or contrasted as dissimilar as two men may well be. Beaumont was a native of Huddersfield, and his family connections with the town and district were numerous and intricate. The Beaumonts of that vicinity are a numerous progeny, and may be found in every calling, in every trade and every craft. The Squire of White Meadows is a Beaumont, and traces an unbroken line of descent from one of the most intrepid of the Crusaders, whose effigy may be seen to this day in the small, time-worn church on the ancestral domain. The Beaumonts, or de Bellomontes, were, aforetime, lords of the manor of Huddersfield itself, but that position passed from them many centuries ago. Whether or no our Edward Beaumont was of the Beaumonts of White Meadows is a matter which Edward himself affected to regard as of absolutely no importance. His father had been, like himself, a solicitor, and had founded the present firm of Beaumont and Storth. His grandfather had been a cloth manufacturer, and as to his great grandfather, Edward declared that he, too, had been either a cloth manufacturer of the smallest, or, more likely, a handloom weaver of a saving disposition. As in Huddersfield it is quite exceptional for anyone to be able to refer to a grandfather at all, Edward could very well afford to affect indifference on the score of his great grand-sire’s status.

If looks go for anything Beaumont might certainly have pretended to aristocratic lineage. He was tall above the ordinary, and well proportioned, his frame well-knit and active, his features regular, his hair abundant, of the hue of the raven, and with the natural sheen of perfect health. His eyes, well shaped, were dark and full of fire and expression. He had a well-formed mouth, mobile lips, of that fullness that may betoken either the orator, the poet, or the sensualist, a rounded, dimpled chin, the long White hand commonly supposed to be indicative of gentle birth. But the tips of the fingers were square rather than finely pointed, a trait which a palmist had assured him indicated stubborness of character or resoluteness of will, but which Edward asserted more probably suggested that one of his female ancestors had been engaged in the manual exercise of “twisting,” one of the many processes of cloth manufacture, and one eminently calculated to stub the fingers of the artist.

Edward Beaumont had been carefully educated, and had taken to books like a duck to water. His natural aptitude and facility of apprehension made his studies easy to him, and though no one who knows what is properly implied in the term scholarship, would have called him a scholar, he had taken a fair degree at his University, at that time a somewhat uncommon attainment in the lower branch of the legal profession, and could no doubt hold his own indifferent will among other educated gentlemen. He was reputed to be a sound and careful lawyer, when he could be induced to take the necessary trouble, but none questioned that he was always a ready one, and it is not, therefore, surprising that he preferred the change and excitement and rivalry of the Courts to the more prosaic and monotonous and retired, if also more profitable, exercise of the dreary art of conveyancing. The same alertness of mind and nimbleness of speech that served him well in the forum inclined him to the political platform, and already he was a warm favourite of the working-classes at the meetings under the auspices of the Liberal Party with which the adults of the West Riding beguile the tedium of the winter months. Edward was wont to declare that he had imbibed Radicalism with his mother’s milk, and certain it is he could point with equal truth and pride to more than one of his relations who had suffered in the popular cause. His partner Sam Storth, used to complain that Edward’s political engagements took him a great deal away from the office, and if Edward laughingly pleaded that his public appearances were a capital advertisement of the firm, his more sagacious partner retorted that Edward’s “clap-trap clientèle,” as he was pleased to stigmatise it, wasn’t worth half the time it took to attend to it, and that for every decent client Beaumont’s Radicalism attracted it frightened a dozen better ones away.

“Depend upon it, Beaumont,” he said one day, “Leatham’s is the right tip.”

Now, Mr. Leatham was the respected member for Huddersfield, and sat, of course, in the Liberal interest.

“Expound, most sapient Sam,” said Edward.

“Why, somebody said to him the other day, ‘How is it you never take your seat on the Borough Bench when you’re in town?’ ‘Pas si bete,’ replied Leatham; ‘every time I fine a man or send one down I make at least one enemy, and they count at elections.’ So it is with your informal spouting, Beaumont. You make a lot of admirers, perhaps, among a lot of greasy, dirty, unwashed mill-hands, who shout themselves hoarse about a policy they don’t understand, and they bring you a dirty, greasy guinea or so if they get into trouble with an equally dirty, greasy mill-girl. But who prepares the conveyances and mortgages and settlements for the big-pots? We don’t, anyhow. Why! Leatham himself takes his work to that sheaf of parchment skins, old Heatherington, who has consistently voted against him ever since he first contested the borough. Politics don’t pay, Beaumont, at least, not your sort.”

“Ah! well, Sam, suppose we say I like ’em. I think they’re my only serious dissipation. You know I don’t go in much for beer and skittles, and am bored at a ballet. Supposing we call politics my little vice. You don’t want them all yourself, Sam.”

Certainly no one could with justice accuse Sam Storth of having any enthusiasms political or otherwise. He called himself a Conservative, and plumed himself on his gentility, and had undoubtedly an uncle in holy orders, to whom, on occasion, he would casually allude. He chose his associates, so far as he could, among the jeunesse doree of the wealthy manufacturers and merchants of the town, who patronised a Bond Street tailor—“can’t get a decent cut in the country, don’t you know,”—were much concerned about the fit of their boots and the colour of their ties and gloves; affected a languid drawl, crawled on the sunny side of New Street of a Saturday morning, found life a “doosid bore,” avoided a reference to the paternal mill or counting-house themselves, and thought any such reference by others uncommon bad form; held commissions in the Yeomanry or Volunteers and were rigorous in the use of their pseudo… military titles in season and out of season; had a club of their own, from which the retailer of the goods their fathers manufactured were jealously excluded; and, in a word, were as innocent a set of sucking young snobs, without knowing it, as one could well wish to encounter. As Storth had lived much in London before condescending upon Huddersfield, he was rather a favourite at this club, though he had to surmount a certain amount of prejudice arising from his connection with that low Radical chap, Beaumont.

In person, the junior partner of the firm of Beaumont and Storth was small, stout and stodgy, with a broad, flat nose, and eyes that a disparaging critic had likened to boiled onions. In address he was suavely deferential to the verge of obsequiousness to the local magnates, who liked the implied homage of his voice and look, and voted him a sensible young fellow who knew his place. In revenge for his own lackeydom he bullied and swore at his clerks and the waiters and the billiard-markers who ministered to his needs, and they, too, no doubt, had their opinion of Mr. Sam Storth. He was careful in his dress, without being an exquisite, took in the “Daily Telegraph” and “Bell’s Life,” affected a patriotic interest in the national sport, and played a very judicious hand at whist and other games, as the young nabobs of the club knew to their cost. He had the reputation, in a darkly, mysterious way, of being somewhat of a Lothario among the women, and it was known that he had access to the green-room of the local theatre. But if, indeed, Sam were a sad dog, of which this veracious history alleges nothing, he was a very discreet sad dog, and never imperilled his reputation by any open indiscretion. He was careful, too, to attend church every Sunday morning, and uttered the responses with that modulated fervour that is the hall-mark of good breeding, having neither the perfunctoriness of custom or inattention nor the warmth of spiritual exaltation.

How two men so diverse as Edward Beaumont and Sam Storth came to be partners in the same business had puzzled many, but the explanation was simple enough. Beaumont had been in want of a managing clerk, and a mutual acquaintance had recommended Storth as a safe chamber-man, and a safe chamber-man or desk-lawyer Storth proved himself to be. He made no pretence of knowing more law than had sufficed to satisfy the not very exacting examiners of Carey Street; but he had a very considerable endowment of the not very common faculty called common-sense.

“Law, sir,” was Storth’s favourite axiom, delivered oracularly, “law is the embodiment of common-sense,” and though the reader can scarcely be expected to believe it, Common law is largely common-sense. At all events with common-sense and a tincture of technicalities and a very considerable knowledge of the shady side of human nature, and a very small opinion of that nature in the general. Storth’s did very well the kind of work that Beaumont wanted him for, and left that somewhat fastidious young gentleman free to lift his voice in the courts without being harassed by the petty details of a lawyer’s practice. Beaumont thought Sam a soulless little animal, but shrewd and steady; Storth thought Beaumont a stuck-up enthusiast with a bee in his bonnet, but a good hand with a brief, and as they saw very little of each other except business hours, there was little friction in the busy office of the well-established and prosperous firm of Beaumont and Storth.

But if there was no friction there was no cordiality between the partners. Beaumont’s attitude to Storth was almost of good-humoured contempt. Storth retaliated with undisguised scorn for his partner’s unpracticability and want of worldly wisdom.

“What do you want sitting in the Town Council?” he grumbled at times. “There’s no honour in it. Why, hang it, the barber fellow that shaves me sits on the Town Council.”

“And a very good councillor he makes, too. Why not? Does he shave you any the worse for being on the Council. I’m sure his opinion on matters municipal is none the worse for his being a barber. Shaving is really, if you think of the matter dispassionately, a most reputable occupation. The profession of a barber, you cannot call it a trade, is an ancient and an honourable one. It was formerly, as you know connected with the profession of a surgeon. Probably the barbers cut the surgeons, and that led to a split. But if you reflect you will see that most exceptional qualities are required by a good barber. Sobriety is indispensable cleanliness, which everyone knows to be nearer to godliness than many people attain, some degree of polish and a pleasing loquacity and an intelligent acquaintance with the topics of the day. People trust their barber more than their lawyer, for would you offer your bared throat to anyone armed with a deadly weapon, unless you had the supremest confidence in him? Surely we can confide the gas-pipes and water-pipes of a town to a man to whom we entrust our own wind-pipes. I protest your barber is a most inestimable profession brother.”

“Oh! dry up,” said Storth, “you aren’t in court now. Beaumont, I say again, you get neither profit nor kudos from being in the Council, and it takes up a lot of your time. But that’s a small matter. Do you think, now, it will add to your professional or social status or do you or the office a blessed scintilla of good, to take the chair for that fellow Bradlaugh, as I see you are advertised to do?”

“That fellow Bradlaugh, as you are pleased to call him, is worth half-a-dozen such respectabilities as either you or I, Sam. In mere ability as a lawyer he is worth a round dozen of us lumped together. But he is more than that, he is a very fair scholar, though entirely self-educated. He has done more for his brains and with his brains than many do who have had hundreds of pounds spent upon their education by fond parents. He has not only brains but a conscience; he might have earned a fat living as a lawyer or a parson. He has not only a conscience but a character, and a good one, too, and besides all that, he’s the elected member for Northampton, has as much right legally to sit for that borough as Churchill has for Woodstock, and a great deal better right morally.”

“The man’s an atheist,” said Storth.

“I don’t know that he is; but even so, that’s his concern and Northampton’s. What are you, Sam? What, indeed, is anyone of us that we should throw stones at such a man as Bradlaugh?”

“Well, I call myself a Christian and I rather flatter myself I am one, at least, an indifferent one,” replied Sam. “I don’t set up for a saint, of course.”

“I should think not, indeed.” replied Beaumont, smiling, as he recalled certain gossip that had floated from the coulisses of the theatre to the club. “I Suppose you fancy yourself what we may call a so-so Christian. So are we all, so-so Christians. Why, man alive, I’d guarantee to empty any church in Christendom simply by preaching Christianity in it. I mean the pure, unadulterated article, as Jesus of Nazareth is reported to have preached it, not as it is watered down to suit the weak stomachs of your latter-day saints, or more likely to square with our conceptions of social necessity.”

“Look here, Beaumont;” Storth said, stretching his arms lazily and yawning long and loud, “I’m not going to be drawn into an argument on theology with you. I’d almost said another member of our illustrious family attends to that department. But I don’t think you’d catch the Rev. Jacob arguing about it, either. He’s far too downy for that. It pays better to treat matters you’re paid to believe as beyond question, and a man who questions them as a moral leper. Now, I don’t say you’re a moral leper any more than I say I’m a saint. But I do say that, from a business point of view, it’s just as bad to be thought one as to be one; worse, in fact, for you get damned as a sinner without the fun of the sin.”

“Oh, Sam, you’re just incorrigible. I’ve said in my haste you believe in nothing. But you do believe in Mrs. Grundy.”

“I do,” said Storth, devoutly. “Great is the Grundy of the British Philistine.”

“Hang the fellow, with his affectation of being so superior to another fellow,” he added to himself. “Mind you don’t carry your head so high in the clouds, Master Edward, that you trip and fall over a very little obstacle, and if that obstacle’s Sam Storth thank your own infernal folly. I’ll back common-sense against ideals any day, and if you’ll allow me the one. You’re welcome to my share of the other.”


The morning after the meeting in the Market Place Edward Beaumont was seated in a capacious easy chair in his own room in the office in Queen Street, smoking a well-seasoned meerschaum pipe, and reading the “Leeds Mercury” of the day. Edward felt a sort of proprietorship in the winged messenger from the fact, which he regarded with satisfaction, that his great-grandfather had purchased the first issue of the paper a hundred years before, and the subscription to that journal had been piously continued in the family down to his own day, though he flattered himself he had considerably overpast the cautious Liberalism but slightly differentiated from Whiggery, of the “Mercury.” He had skimmed the local news, pshaw’d over the leading articles, and was enjoying the London Letter from our Own Correspondent, usually attributed to a rising publicist, when Storth bustled into the room.

“There’s not much for Petty Sessions this morning, Beaumont; a couple of assaults, a profane and obscene, and a bastardy; but there’s one case you’ll have to put all you know into. You remember that girl we heard last night in the Market Place?”

“The Salvation Army girl?”

“That’s the party. Well, she’s in my room now.”

“What’s the trouble?”

“Well, here’s the brief. It seems she was staying in Matt Duskin’s Lodging House last night.”

“In Matt Duskin’s Lodging House in Kirkgate?”

“Nowhere else, as I’m a sinner, and a lively time of it she must have had before they settled down for the night and went to bed.”

“I should imagine the lively time for a lodger at Matt’s comes after he gets into bed,” said Beaumont, smiling. “The place must be alive with vermin. But what’s the case?”

“You remember Pat Sullivan that’s been in trouble with the police so often and that they’re so afraid of? They say it took three of them to get him to the station last night. Well, he’s about half-killed another of Duskin’s select assortment of lodgers, and all Kirkgate and his wife will be in Court this morning to see the last of Sullivan for a few months anyway. He’s sure to be sent down. Ward will work for a committal without the option, and the constables on that beat will do their nightly prowl all the more serenely when they know Pat’s comfortably snoring on a plank bed in Wakefield gaol.”

“Miss—the Salvation Army girl’s in your room, you say. What’s she got to do with it?”

“There’s her and Sullivan’s wife in tears and a shawl and half-a-dozen more of the quality. They say Pat didn’t begin it. But it’ll be no good. Pat’s booked this journey, you bet. Anyhow, here’s your brief, and it’s about time you were off to Court.”

“I think I’ll speak to the Young lady first. Ask her to come here, will you, Sam?”

When the speaker of the previous evening entered the large low room, with its walls lined with many rows of calf-bound volumes of statutes, reports, and precedents, its lettered pigeon-holes, its ponderous safe, and japanned deed boxes, it was evident she had lost for a time the calm serenity that had distinguished her at the Market Cross. Her face was pale, and her eyes looked as though they had lately wept. Her expression was anxious, and her manner agitated. As Beaumont rose from his chair she returned the respectful bow with which he greeted her, and took with some trembling the chair he placed for her. She waited for him to speak.

“Mr. Storth tells me you will be a witness in the case in which Sullivan is charged with assault, Miss——. I beg your pardon, I don’t think Storth told me your name.”

A crimson flush suffused the fair and beautiful features.

“I am called Sister Gertrude in the Army.”

“H’m; I’m afraid the clerk will ask for your full name. I understand this is a serious case, and he may think it necessary to take depositions.”

“My name is Gertrude Fairfax, but, if possible, I prefer that my surname should not appear. There are reasons.”

“Fairfax is a name both known and honoured in Yorkshire,” said Edward, with a courteous inclination towards the lady; “but I should not take you for a native of our county.”

“Oh, no! my home is in Staffordshire, but my address is at the headquarters of the Army in London.”

“Very well, Sister, I think we can manage that your name may not appear. I’ll speak to the reporter; he’ll work the oracle for a drink,” he mentally added.

“And now Miss——I beg your pardon, Sister Gertrude—would you mind telling me what you know about this wretched business. You belong to the Salvation Army, I perceive.”

“Yes; I am a soldier in the Army, not an officer, and last night, after our meeting at the Market Cross, a poor frightened woman spoke to me. She was in great trouble, but almost afraid to address me. You see, she is a Catholic and the Catholics never care to do anything their priest might not like. She said she was living an awful life. Her husband, the man they are to try to-day, she said, is a good, true man, and a loving husband, but for the drink, and then he is like one possessed. She said he earned good wages, under the Corporation, I fancy, as a navvy; but he spent so much in drink they were always in sore straits, and now had broken up their home and were living in vile lodgings. I was moved by Nellie’s story, and asked how I could help her. She begged me to go speak with her husband, plead and pray with him to give up the drink. Of course I went….

“Oh! yes. Why should I fear? No one would injure me, and if they did, what matter? So she took me to the lodging-house in which they live. Her husband, Pat, was in a long room, where there were several men and women and some children. At first the man was very surly, would not speak to me. But he is Irish, from the county Cork; and I happen to have spent some time with friends in the neighbourhood of Cork, between the city and Queenstown, on the Lea. But perhaps you don’t know the Lea?”

“Only the lines:

‘…those bells of Shandon,

That sound so grand on,

The pleasant waters of the river Lea,’”

confessed Edward.

“Ah! you read Father Prout,” said the girl, and looked at the grim law books as though to say they did not look suggestive of the warblings of a poet. “Well, when he got to speak of his home in the ould country, and the good mother he had left in the village he was born in, and of the days of boyhood, I led him on to speak of the glad springtime, when he courted Ellen as a sweet colleen, as he called her, and so the man was melted, and he heard me patiently. Then I asked Mr. Duskin if I might say a few words to the others, and offer a prayer, and as he didn’t say me nay, why I did.”

“Was this man, what’s his name, the complainant, I mean, there then?”

“Oh, no! I was just about to leave, for it was near eleven o’clock, and I feared the friends with whom I stayed would be anxious about me.”

“Oh! you weren’t staying at Duskin’s yourself, then? Mr. Storth must have misunderstood you.”

“Oh, no! I was saying a few parting words to one or two of the women, who seemed glad that I should speak to them. Then the door was thrust open violently, and the man Graham almost fell into the room. He was very much under the influence of drink. One of the women was his wife, and he accused me of wanting to make a Black Protestant of her, and threatened me. But I did not mind him, for he was not himself and was moving to the door. But he stood in my way, and made as though to prevent my going, and Ellen came between us, and made to push him on one side, and he called her a foul name and struck her in the face. Then Patrick Sullivan jumped to his feet with a wild cry, and before one could think or speak the two men were fighting, and then it seemed as though all the house began to scream and shout and yell and swear, and the street filled even at that late hour, and then the police came and seized Sullivan. Graham was on the floor with a nasty wound in his head, and poor Ellen almost in hysterics blaming herself bitterly for taking me to the house at all.”

“You are sure Graham struck Nelly?”

“Oh, yes! And now this morning what could I do but come with the poor woman to see her through the trouble. I had much ado to prevent her pawning her wedding-ring to pay your fee, but we managed without that.”

“Oh! Nelly had her wedding-ring? Then Pat hadn’t been drinking long. It’s the last thing that goes. When that’s gone the husband starts working again. It’s the last thing in and the first thing out.”

“Can you get Sullivan off, Mr. Beaumont? If it is only a question of a fine, perhaps that can be arranged.”

“In the same way, I supose as my fee was arranged?”

“Well, yes; that way or some other. But I hope he may not be sent to prison. Perhaps he may turn over a new leaf, and give up the drink and mend his ways. I’m sure there’s much more of good than bad in him, and prison will only foster the bad and dwarf the good.”

“Oh! we’ll pull him through, Sister Gertrude, if you tell the Bench your story as you have told it to me. I’m sure, if you will permit me to say so, you behaved very pluckily in going unprotected to that horrid hole. But I’m afraid you wasted your time in trying to save Pat Sullivan. He’s always in trouble with the police.”

“That’s why my time was not wasted. Society has been trying to deal with such lost creatures as Sullivan for centuries by its police, always its police. I think perhaps a little human sympathy and gentle entreating may do what your police cannot do. That is why I wear this uniform.”

Beaumont bowed silently. He had had his own opinion of ecstatic young ladies who take to Slumming as a diversion; but Sister Gertrude did not harmonise with his preconceived ideas. He would have liked to ask many questions, but he resented prying inquisitiveness in his own affairs, and was careful to respect the reserve of others. He looked at his watch.

“Jove! we must be off. May I have the pleasure of showing you the way to Court?”

“Thank you. Nelly will be waiting for me. I will go with her.”

As Beaumont entered the Court and made his way to the solicitors’ well, he glanced at the Bench and noted with satisfaction that the Mayor, Thomas Hoyleham, presided. Mr. Hoyleham was a weak, worthy man of venerable appearance, with a long, flowing, white beard, and of pallid, bloodless complexion. He was a draper by trade, and one of the pillars of the Independent Church at Lowfield. He had signalised his accession to the Chief Magistracy by treating the members of the Town Council to a Temperance Banquet, zoedone, phospherade, and other effervescent and phosphorescent cordials supplanting the wines of France and Spain; much to the discontent of his guests.

Beaumont, however, had tossed off a bumper of the beady and gaseous compound with a flourish to the health of the Mayor, and whilst questioning convictions that forced a man to prefer zoedone to champagne, vowed he admired the Mayor’s pluck and consistency, and protested that it was worth while to run the risk of being poisoned to sit at table with a man of principle. Of course, this sentiment had reached the Mayor’s ears, and had not only greatly comforted him and sustained him in presence of the rueful countenances of his guests, but had led him ever after to entertain a high opinion of Beaumont’s discrimination. And though he mourned over the young councillor's infidelity, he was not without hopes some Christian Church might win him to its bosom, and lost no opportunity of speaking a word in season to his young colleague; and had even ventured to give him a Temperance Tract in an apologetic manner, assuring him that the passages marked by the Mayor’s own hand were not to be taken by Edward as offensively personal. Beaumont had taken all in good part, and when ribald members of the Council poked fun at the old gentleman, and called him an old woman, only fit to sit behind the urn at a tea-party, Beaumont had stoutly declared that beneath the mild and deferential, almost shrinking, manner of Mr. Hoyleham, lay a rare staunchness and fidelity to the right as he conceived it.

The case against Patrick Sullivan was not taken till the charge-sheet was cleared of all others. Mr. Ward the Chief Constable, was determined to have that redoubtable breaker of the law and terror of the police safe under lock and key for so long a spell as the law could ensure, and he, of course, had heard only the version of the fracas given by the police and by Graham. The strong, most damaging point against Pat was his resistance of the police in the discharge of their duty. It was an article of faith with the Borough Bench that the police must be supported, and it was equally a matter of faith with those who had been summoned before it, or who expected to be, and with their witnesses, that the sworn testimony of one policeman would be taken before that of all Kirkgate put together. Sullivan was looked upon as a doomed man, as good as done for, and his sympathisers only found consolation in the resolve to make the place too hot to hold the complainant. With these sympathisers the back benches of the Court were crowded. They were there, male and female, some scores of them, in all states of dress and undress and all degrees of cleanliness and sobriety. They were all to a man and also woman known to the police, and most of them had stood in the very dock now tenanted by the redoubtable Sullivan, and those who had not looked forward to their appearance in that unenviable rectangle as a natural and inevitable incident in their career. Needless to say, the sympathies of this section of the audience in Court were entirely with the prisoner, and when Edward entered with a light and springing step and bright smiling face, a subdued murmur ran through their ranks.

“Och! it’s himself has the cometherin’ way wid ’im,” whispered a shawled and frowsy nymph of the pavement to another lady of the same nationality and facility of affection. “Fwat an eye’s in de face of ’im; ’t would melt a stone, an’ the tongue of him for Blarney most wonderful.”

The chief witness against Sullivan was, of course, the aggrieved Graham, who appeared in the box, his head all swathed in bandages and plasters. He told a piteous tale. He was a homeless, inoffensive man that lodged at Duskin’s, and wouldn’t harm a fly, so he said. He had been refreshing himself after the labours of the day at the house of a friend, and at an early hour had sought his humble lodgings and his virtuous couch. But he had no sooner entered the door of that sacred spot—where peace should reign, whatever broils disturb the street—than that cowardly brute, as strong as an ox and as raging as a lion, had leaped upon him, beaten down his feeble defence, and left him senseless on the ground. His wounds were there for their Worships and all the world to see, and so forth.

Unfortunately for Graham, Beaumont had a memory and Graham an unwary tongue. Looking at Beaumont’s face as he rose to cross examine the witness, one would have read there nothing but compassion and sympathy with the complainant in his great and unmerited wrongs. Sister Gertrude confided to Ellen, when all was over, that her heart failed her at that moment, for she feared the plausible rogue’s canting tongue had imposed on their chosen champion. “He is so young, you know,” But Ellen had smiled superior.

“Let me see, Graham,” Edward began, in an insinuating voice, “I think you did not tell us your age.”

“Forty-four, your honour, if I live till Christmas.”

“And what trade may you be?”

“A mason, sorr.”

“May I feel your hands?”

“’Deed, they’re too dirty, sir.”

“Oh, never mind. His Worship might tell you lawyers are used to dirt. But, indeed, they are dirty, and soft, too; very soft. Where do you work?”

“’Deed, sorr, just at the time present I’m out of a job.”

“But the building trade’s very brisk just now, I believe?”

“’Deed, sorr, I couldn't say.”

“What, not know the state of the labour market in your own trade! Where did you work last?”

“At Mr. Whitwam’s, sorr.”

“You live in Huddersfield, I think?”

“Yes, sorr.”

“This how long?”

“This twenty years and more, sorr” answered Graham, with alacrity, apparently relieved to get away from the subject of his occupation.

“Off and on, or all on?”

“Straight on, sorr, twenty year an’ more I’ve lived in this town.”

“And never out of it this twenty years?”

“Not a day, sorr. If I have may I be——”

“Oh, quite so. Then may I ask how long it is since you worked for Mr. Whitwam?”

After much evasion it appeared that it was ten years since the witness had worked for Mr. Whitwam or anyone else.

“Made your fortune at thirty, you lucky man, and retired from business, is that it?”

His clothes answered for him.

“Then may I ask how you’ve lived since you gave up working?”

“Hadn’t he a license to hawk, sure?”

“A pedlar, eh? In other words, a licensed mendicant. Let me see your license.”

After much fumbling in the inner creases of the rag that served him as a vest, the witness produced a soiled, tattered document that Beaumont handled gingerly.

“Dated seven years ago and long out of date. That won’t do, my man. Well what else have you done?”

“Arrah! odd jobs, an’ maybe, a copper or two from a friend or a Christian lady of the town or the praste. God bless them.”

“Now, turn up the sleeve of your arm, higher, let’s see your muscles, man.”

A brawny, muscular arm was bared to view.

“An arm, your Worships will observe” said Edward, “that hasn’t done a stroke of honest work these ten years back.”

“You’re a married man, I think, Graham?”

“’Deed, I am, sorr, worse luck.”

“Where’s your wife?”

Graham couldn’t say, but when his memory was assisted he confessed she had left him years ago, but not before he had been convicted three or four times in that very Court of aggravated assault upon her.

“You didn’t strike Pat Sullivan last night, you say?”

“Not a strike, sorr!”

“Striking a woman’s more in your line, I suppose. Perhaps you’ll have their Worships believe you never beat your wife. Who was the friend you had been spending the night with?”

Then it transpired that the friend was the genial host of the “Spotted Dog,” and that before visiting that popular house of entertainment Graham had favoured the “Brindled Cow” with his company, and when somebody in the crowd at the back called out “Wheatsheaf,” to the great indignation of half-a-dozen constables, who all called out “Silence in Court,” and glared angrily at a very small boy who began to whimper, Mr. Graham confessed to having had a glass, or maybe, two, ’deed, he wouldn’t swear not three, at the “Wheatsheaf.”

But at this the confusion of the witness was so great that Beaumont knew it to be more damaging than any evidence, and magnanimously forbore to press the question.

“Hadn’t we better get to last night?” suggested Mr. Mayor, mildly.

“I agree with your Worship. But it was desirable that we should know who this injured innocent is that comes here with his whimpering, whining story. And now, Graham, you know Nelly Sullivan?”

“Sure he did, bad cess to her for a squalling, meddling woman!”

“What made you strike Nelly Sullivan when you returned to your lodgings last night?”

Of course he hadn’t struck Nelly. “Was he the man to lift his hand against any woman?”

“Bar your wife, Graham,” reminded Beaumont.

“That was different. He hadn’t come there to talk about his wife. He swore before God and all His saints on the blessed book he’d never lifted so much as his little finger ’gainst Nelly Sullivan; strike him dead, if he had!”

“Well, we’ll see what others have to say about it,” concluded Edward, as he sat down.

“You’ve settled the assault on Graham, but what about resisting the police?” whispered Storth, to his partner; “that’ll settle his hash you’ll see.”

The constables who had arrested Pat and carried him to the cells certainly bore speaking marks of that hero’s prowess, and their story lost nothing in the telling. They told it with that unswerving consistency which distinguishes the British policeman before “their Washups.” They had certain things to say, those and no more. For the time being the sum total of human knowledge was contained in just that. They knew neither more nor less than what they went into the box to swear to. For anything they knew Sullivan might have been provoked beyond endurance by Graham, but when they appeared he ought to have become as a bleating lamb. That was the official view, that, too, it was clear, was the view of the Bench.

“We must support the police, you know,” was the most sacred tenet of the magisterial mind.

“I shall not occupy your Worship’s time by making a speech,” said Edward briefly. “I shall show you that Sullivan at the time the police appeared was smarting under the sense of a cowardly blow given by that wretched man Graham to his wife. When the police rushed in it was Graham they ought to have seized, not my client. But give a dog a bad name and hang him. But it is a most unfortunate thing that the police should have interfered and put poor Pat to his trial at the very time when there was some likelihood of his becoming a teetotaller and entirely amending his ways.”

The Mayor pricked up his ears.

“Eh, eh? What’s that you say, Mr. Beaumont—a teetotaller?”

“Yes, your Worship, incredible as it may seem. Sullivan had yielded to the persuasion a young lady, who will give her evidence before you, and whose influence, I verily believe, was in a fair way to accomplish what your Worships can do neither by fine nor imprisonment. You shall hear the lady’s story. She is known in the Salvation Army as Sister Gertrude, and as many ladies of very good social position and education are engaged in this good work under these assumed titles, I shall ask the Bench to allow the witness to be sworn in that name.

A hush fell upon the Court when Gertrude Fairfax entered the box, a thrill passed through it when her clear but sweet and soft voice spoke. Very quietly, almost timidly, with nothing of the self-assurance and glib loquacity one hears in so many of the public women speakers and that takes the bloom off their womanhood, she told to the Bench, with little prompting from Edward, the story with which we are already acquainted. Insensibly there arose before the minds of all who heard her the picture of this pure, delicately-nurtured maiden, seated in a vile den, surrounded by rough men, and slattern, vicious women, speaking to them words of loving counsel and pleading with them for their good; of Pat Sullivan, at first resentful, then subsiding into sulky silence, then interested, then touched, and at length moved to promise of amendment, the forgotten tenderness for his wife revived, the angel within the man rescued from the death of sensuality and self-indulgence. As she told her simple tale, women in the body of the Court sobbed aloud, and even the stolid policemen looked human. The Mayor, an emotional man, furtively used his handkerchief.

Then, when Beaumont adroitly threw in the remark:

“You are not, I believe, a paid officer in the Army, Sister Gertrude; why should you concern yourself about the reformation of Patrick Sullivan?”

The witness paused for one short moment, and then, with utmost naturalness and naiveté, not as one quoting, but as speaking from her own heart, said quietly:

“Wist ye not that I must be about Father’s business?”

“That is the case for the defence, Sir,” Said Beaumont, with a bow to the Bench.

“We cannot convict upon such testimony,” said the Mayor, after consulting his colleagues. “We only hope this will be a warning to Sullivan. He shall go scot free this time, may God help him to be a better man.”

“The Clerk ought to say ‘Amen,’” muttered Sam Storth, “and then the thing would be complete. We’d turn the Court into a church and dedicate it to St. Barabbas.”

“That was a narrow squeak for Master Sullivan,” said Beaumont to Sister Gertrude. He found her waiting at the Court door, as he passed out of it at the rising of the Court—to thank him, she said. “There’s nothing to thank me for. It’s you they’ve to thank. I’m afraid, if you are returning to Duskin’s Lodging House, you won’t find Pat there cultivating the domestic virtues. He’ll be celebrating his victory over the allied forces of the brutal and bloody Sassenach in his national beverage at the ‘Wheatsheaf.’ The police will keep a sharper eye on him than ever now, and I hope he won’t give them another chance yet awhile. We can’t hope for a Thomas Hoyleham and a Sister Gertrude in conjunction every day in the planetary system of police administration. However, sufficient for the day’s the evil thereof.”

“I hope better things for Pat and Nelly, Mr. Beaumont. I know how difficult it will be for him and Nelly to struggle out of their present surroundings; but I have faith.”

“Yes, you may have faith, Miss Fairfax; but I fear the surroundings will be stronger than your faith. I suppose environment has a lot to say to it. See! I don’t like the idea of Sullivan going and making a mess of it again after the way you’ve tried to save him. Can’t you get him and Nelly out of Duskin’s?”

“It would be a help, of course. But environment isn’t everything, Mr. Beaumont.”

They were walking slowly on the New Street now, and many turned to cast an envious and admiring glance at the well-known young lawyer and the beautiful, graceful figure that moved, dea certe, by his side.

“Perhaps not. But it must be difficult to cultivate the domestic virtues—that was what we called them, I think?—at such a hole as Duskin’s. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Tell Nelly to find a small house somewhere near Sullivan’s work, and if you don’t mind getting them some furniture into it—you can go to Oldfield and tell him to send the bill in to me. We’ll give poor Pat a chance, anyway; but I’m afraid the sticks will find their way back to Oldfield before the month’s over. And now, good-bye, Miss Fairfax,” and Beaumont hurried away to avoid the thanks his companion was beginning to express.


It was the beginning of the Long Vacation, and Edward Beaumont was asking himself how he should spend his holiday. Sam Storth had already elected for Scotland, and had amused his partner by appearing at the office in a tweed shooting suit, knicker-bockers and ribbed stockings and stout boots complete. Sam was breaking his suit in, so that by the time he reached the land of cakes it might be subtly suggestive of honourable service on the moors.

“I don’t suppose you could hit a haystack if you tried, Sam,” Edward had commented, with an amused smile. “Practising in a shooting gallery at Huddersfield Fair at three shots a penny must be rather different from popping at grouse on their native heath.”

“Well, I’m not going to pop at grouse on their native heath or anywhere else. When I tackle that toothsome bird give me a knife and fork, and I’m your man. But a fellow can’t go to Scotland, even if he doesn’t get further North than Princess Street in Auld Reekie—that’s the correct name for the town, isn’t it?—in a frock-coat and top hat. But here’s a letter for you marked ‘Private.’ I’d nearly opened it with the office letters.”

Beaumont looked at the envelope. There was a crest and motto on the flap. “Forliter et leniter, a lion rampant air scraping, I call it. What rot this heraldic tomfoolery is? Who the deuce can it be from?”

“Better open it and see,” suggested Storth. Beaumont read the letter rapidly, then more carefully, and finally handed it to his partner.

“Read it up, Sam. Who in the name of all that’s ecclesiastical is Hugh St. Clair, Archdeacon?”

“The Vicarage,



August 10, 188


I am strongly recommended by my esteemed friend, Mr. Fortescue, to seek your advice and professional assistance in a somewhat complicated matter in which I am very seriously concerned. Unfortunately, the absence of the Bishop on the Continent has thrown an unusual stress of diocesan work upon me, and I cannot very well pay a visit to Yorkshire at this juncture. Moreover, if you should be disposed to undertake the protection of my interests, the matter is such as to render a visit by you—probably, indeed, many visits—to this neighbourhood, indispensable. May I suggest, then, that you should accept the modest hospitality of the Vicarage for a few days. If you can come, I hope you can come at a very early day. You will find the route by Doncaster a convenient one, and if you will apprize me of the time of your arrival, I will send the carriage to meet your train. Believe me, Mr. Fortescue has spoken to me of you in such terms that I hope your many engagements will not preclude you from giving your valued time and attention to the affair in which I hope to have the benefit of your advice.

Yours faithfully,



“Who’s ‘my friend Mr. Fortescue’?” queried Beaumont. “Never heard of him in my life that I can remember. Tell you what, Sam, seems to me this letter’s missed its way. St. Clairs and Fortescues and crests and mottoes aren’t much in our line, eh? Memorandum heads from Plover Mills, Telephone address No.—is more our form. Yet here it is as plain as a pike-staff, ‘Edward Beaumont, Esq., solicitor, Huddersfield.’”

“I fancy I’ve heard my reverend relative talk of a Fortescue he knew at Cambridge. I daresay that’s the way it’s worked round. Anyhow, assuming the letter’s for you, what do you mean to do? Go, of course.”

“Well, no, Sam, I think not. You see, Archdeacons and I don’t assimilate somehow. Who was it that wondered how the old augurs and haruspices kept their faces when they saw each other? Well, I’m that way with parsons. Not that I ever came across a live Archdeacon. But I suppose he’ll be a cleric, double distilled. I think you’d better write and offer your own valuable services. Besides, it looks like chamber business, and that’s your department, you know.”

“Well, I’m not having any, thank you, Beaumont. I pass this deal. I’ve no sort of fancy for passing a week in a country vicarage with a parson double-distilled or diluted. I know the kind of thing; family prayers at eight, croquet with the parsonettes till luncheon, cold mutton and rice pudding and small beer, inspection of the village school at three, yawn yourself to death till dinner, heavy joint, sodden pudding, cheap claret, family prayers again at ten, no beer, no baccy, no cards, unless its back-gammon or whist for penny points and no grog. A washed-out archdeaconess, gushing or prim daughters, a dozen of ’em, a cub of a son home from the local grammar-school, a noodle of a curate, and the devil and all to pay if you wink at the chambermaid. No thank you, Beaumont, you’re the man asked for, and ought to go. You can talk theology till you’re black in the face, and flirt mildly with the saintly misses, take it out of the curate generally, and perhaps shoot a rabbit or two if you fancy yourself with a gun,” concluded Sam, viciously.

And so it came to pass that Edward Beaumont some three days later found himself in a market train crawling between Doncaster and Caisterholm, marvelling at the, to him, new and unaccustomed types he saw on the platforms or had for companions in his department—gentlemen farmers, with a horsey look, ponderous bucolics, farmers of their thousand acres, and slouching, sleepy peasants, with occasional glimpses of country Hebes, with tangled, tawny locks, blooming cheeks, cherry lips, dancing eyes of azure hue, bidding noisy farewells or boisterous greetings to bent and wrinkled parents as they left for or returned to their rural homes from domestic service in the colliery towns, where so many leave their roses and their innocency. As the train crept its leisurely way into the heart of the fen country, with its thorpes and long spires or hoary towers, its dykes and placid streams—the majestic Trent spanned and left many miles behind—its hazel groves, its clustered copses, its broad expanse of teeming soil, groaning in labour of the bearded barley and the golden wheat, Beaumont could scarcely realise that but a few hours’ journey had borne him from the rough, brown, bare, moor-crested hills of his home, with their streams all foul with the waste of the dye-pans, the sky greyed by the smoke of a legion of long and lean mill-chimneys, sallow, gaunt, eager-visaged, restless mill hands, rude and assertive of speech, clattering everywhere with clogged feet, all nerve, hurry, impatience, and irreverence. When he asked his whereabouts, and was told that the Parts of Holland lay to his left, he could have well-believed that he had slept and awoke in the flat land of Hans and Frau and schiedam. The talk, such as there was, of his companions for the first few miles had been of mangols and “’tates,” of beasts and calves, of tithes and rents, of bushels and loads, and the dreadful low prices ruling at the Corn Exchange in Doncaster. The farmers had talked with dreamy complacency of inevitable ruin, and seemed to be sheathing themselves in fat as they progressed comfortably to the Bankruptcy Court. There had been a good many clergymen travelling by the same train for short distances, and they seemed as learned in matters agricultural as their parishioners. One, indeed, had spoken of chemistry and scientific agriculture, and certain classes that were spoken of for the farmers, with professors from London, and the farmers had listened with tolerant contempt, but with the evident conviction that nothing was to be learned from gentlemen in London.

“I went to one o’ the classes when I was staying with my missus’ brother, Selby way. An’ if he didn’t talk of oxides an’ nitrates. If he’d ha’ talked about poor-rates and sheep scab there’d ha’ been some sense in it.”

Edward Beaumont did not anticipate his stay at Caistorholm Vicarage without some inward trepidation. To begin with, he did not quite know what manner of man an Archdeacon might be. He had a vague memory that Lord Palmerston had defined an Archdeacon to be a priest who discharged archidiaconal functions; but that did not seem to help him much. His own acquaintance among ministers of religion lay chiefly among the professors of dissenting doctrines with whom his political activities had brought him into contact on the Liberal Two Hundred and on platforms. He bethought him of two doctors of divinity of his own town, one a pillar of Congregationalism, a Scotchman, long, lean, ascetic, but a scholar; the other a Boanerges of the Baptist faith, loud, blatant, pushing, with an American degree. A week of either in the enforced companionship of a country house would be badly paid by any fee the most indulgent taxing-master would be likely to approve. But an Archdeacon! That might mean anything from a prince of the Church, haughty, dignified unconsciously patronizing, to a country vicar with a sounding title, but differing only from an educated farmer in the necessity of preaching a sermon a week to a sprinkling of clodhoppers and pensioners.

“Anyhow, I won’t be patronized!” resolved Edward, as he drew near his destination. “If I find the place too much of a bore, or too much against the grain, I can either chuck the thing altogether or send Storth. He’s got a better stomach for spattle than I have, and if there’s a decent inn in the place, with a respectable tap, Master Sam will comfort himself o’ nights for the ennui of the days.”

The station at Caistorholm seemed to consist of a platform and a wooden waiting-room, a porter’s-room, and a ticket-office. An aged station-master received his portmanteau, and told him a carriage from the Vicarage was waiting outside for a gent from Yorkshire. A steep flight of wooden steps led from the top of the embankment, on which the station stood, to the long, straight, chalky road outside—a Roman road Edward learned later, straight as an arrow’s flight, running mile after mile in undeviating line—“the shortest distance between two extreme points,” ruminated Edward. A neat dogcart was at the foot of the steps, a natty groom stood at the head of the mettlesome cob; the aged porter, descending the steps with difficulty, placed Edward’s portmanteau at the back of the phaeton, received a more liberal tip, as he reflected subsequently, than he was accustomed to receive from visitors to the Vicarage, and the mare, at a word, jumped to the collar, and the carriage bowled away. On each side the road a broad, unfenced ditch ran between the highway and the hedgerows that fenced the spreading acres of potatoes, cabbage, and turnip that spread on either side, far as the eye could reach, in one vast expanse of weary level, unbroken save by an occasional windmill, whose great wheels turned slowly with many a creak and groan in the warm autumn air.

“These roads must be dangerous on a dark night,” suggested Beaumont, by way of breaking a silence that was becoming irksome.

“Not when you knows the road, sir.”

“The farmers hereabout must be a remarkably temperate sort of men!”

“’Taint the farmers, sir, it’s the hosses. Give a hoss his head if you be o’ercome yourself, sir, an’ he’ll bring you home all right, never fear. That’s my advice.”

“I don’t drive myself,” said Edward, smiling, “when I do I’ll remember your advice. Though I’m more by way of giving advice than taking it.”

“Doctor Gummidge, sir, the young ’un, he hasn’t been in these parts above ten year or so. He take a deal aboard, he do, to be sure, an’ he never had a spill yet that I heerd tell on. If you can’t trust a hoss, sir, why, sell him or shoot him, that’s what I say. That’s the Vicarage, sir, between the trees. If you’ll hold the reins, I’ll open the gates of the drive. Woa, lass.”

A wide, well-kept carriage drive swept up between fields of what Edward rightly surmised to be ancient glebe, in which a few sheep grazed placidly, lifting drowsy heads to gaze unconcernedly at the high stepping mare, a turkey, angrily suffused about the head, gobbled in indignant protest, and a peacock, with outspread tail, strutted resplendent. An Alderney whisked the flies from its back lazily as it chewed its cud. A sunk fence divided the paddocks from a large lawn, which, with flower beds of varied shape, rich in a declining bloom, extended to the long French windows of a massive, square, two-storied building of deep-toned, ruddy brick, about which the ivy and the honeysuckle climbed and clustered in rich luxuriance. At the trellised porch of the main entrance stood a tall, well-built, portly man of some sixty years. His face was full and clean-shaven, his teeth perfect, his hair, still abundant, snowy white. His broad shoulders, well thrown back, enabled him to bear without loss of dignity a becoming fullness of habit. The hand, which was extended in greeting to Edward, was plump, white, and soft, the voice refined and mellow.

“You’re train was late, of course, Mr. Beaumont. If a train arrived punctually at Caistorholm we should expect a revival of miracles in the Church. You shall go to your room now, and we can have a chat in my study before dinner. We dine early, six o’clock. I hope you won’t find that too early for you; but you must try to put up with our country ways.”

The ordinary dinner-hour at Huddersfield was one o’clock. At the club or hostelries at which Beaumont was fain to dine, if he wished for ought more than the chop or steak beyond which the culinary skill of his landlady seldom adventured, one o’clock was the sacred hour of dinner, and at that time the manufacturers, merchants, and professional men took their substantial mid-day meal. To be sure, there were occasional dinner-parties at private houses of the more pretentious of the nouveaux riches of the neighbourhood, fixed for seven o’clock, at which the gentlemen were expected to appear arrayed in the correct glories of evening-dress, but Edward had always complied with an ill-grace to this sacrifice to middle-class snobbishness. He thought it ridiculous that people who, on three hundred and sixty days of the year, sat down at noon with healthy appetites to their Yorkshire pudding and roast beef, with pickled cabbage and apple-pie and cheese, and a glass of Burton to wash it down, should, on festive days, don a garb they were not used to, and in which they felt ill at ease, dine off kickshaws they did not care for, drink wines of which they hardly knew the names, and which they did not honestly like—all because, instead of dining, they were giving a dinner. However, he had brought a dress suit with him in—utrurmque sortem paratus, as he reflected with satisfaction. The library at the Vicarage was a capacious room, furnished in oak, and did service also as a smoke-room. It was a very choice Havana that the Archdeacon handed to his guest, as the latter joined him in the pleasant room, and stood to admire the prospect from the long French window giving upon the trim lawn.

“I’m afraid you won’t find many books here much to your taste; but my daughter will perhaps be able to find you some literature of a lighter sort.”

“I confess, Archdeacon, to a weakness for fiction. The mistress of my choice is, of course, law; but I flirt with divinity, or, should I say, apologetics, and I am afraid to think how many novels I read in the year.”

“Ah! well, dulce est desipere. Unhappily I neglect my books too much in these latter days. And for some time now I have been unable to concentrate my mind even on my sermons, I suppose it is a just judgment on me. I preach to my poor flock on the sin of covetousness and the blessedness of contentment, and yet I have myself, though blessed by Providence with stores above my every need, have not known to be content, and have sought to add to my sufficiency. I say mea culpa with all my heart, and I promise you, Mr. Beaumont, if you can help me out of this coil, never again to entangle myself with concerns I do not understand, and which have brought me hitherto only anxious days and sleepless nights.”

“Perhaps,” suggested Edward, “’t were as well that you should give me an outline of the matter on which you desire my assistance. I can afterwards consider the papers in detail, for I understand the affair is one of complexity.”

“A perfect maze, I assure you, my dear sir. I was tenth wrangler of my year, and one would have thought I should know something about figures. But when I try to understand the books and accounts of the Skerne Iron Works Company, of which I am a director, I am as utterly befogged as if I had never heard of Todhunter or Colenso.”

“Ah, well! happily I know something of book-keeping, so we may be able to unravel the skein. Now tell me all about it.”

“What do you say to a little whisky and seltzer to your cigar—unless you prefer a dry smoke?”

“If you will join me, Archdeacon.”

“With all my heart. We have a couple of hours before the dressing-bell sounds. If whisky and rheumatism had been known to St. Paul, and Timothy’s complaint had not apparently been simply stomachic, no doubt the Pauline injunction would have been more comprehensive. But I am not for literal interpretation, Mr. Beaumont, are you?”

“Assuredly not! We will apply the cy pres doctrine. ’tis merest equity.”

The Archdeacon looked puzzled, but passed the decanter.

“It is some five years since I acquired my shares in the Skerne Iron Works. The concern had, according to all seeming, been a prosperous one for years. The three brothers who owned it were most respectable men, good churchmen, justices for the borough of G——, and, in a word, most respectable men. When they turned their business into a company, and sold out the greater part of their interest, I was easily persuaded to adventure a large part of my savings in the shares of the company. I was only getting a beggarly 4 per cent. on mortgage securities, and had often as much difficulty and delay in getting my interest as I still have in getting my tithes. But the Skerne shares showed 7 per cent., and the interest was to come as punctually as quarter-day itself. So it did for a year or so, and I congratulated myself on my prescience in making so excellent an investment. I assured myself that my dear daughter’s welfare was now secured, die when I might. Of course, as you know, my income with this living dies with me. My poor wife had some three thousand pounds of her own, which, by her will, she left to our child, and as I was sole trustee of it, I thought I could not do better than invest it along with my own money, and my daughter, of course, assented to my proposal.”

“Was she of age?” asked Edward.

“H’m, well, no; not at the time.”

“Was the Skerne investment authorised by the terms of the will?”

“Really I cannot say, and I don’t see that it matters. Of course, whatever I have is, or will be, my daughter’s some day.”

“Quite so,” assented Beaumont. “Well?”

“The shareholders made me a director,” continued the Archdeacon, “and for a time I took quite an eager interest in the work of the concern. It was quite delightful to drive over—it is but ten miles from here—and see the various processes. But after the first twelve months or so, instead of dividend warrants, I got calls, and that was not so pleasant, you know.”

“Naturally,” agreed Edward. “What became of the three most respectable brothers?”

“Two of them retired on the formation of the company. The elder continued for a time as managing director; but gradually, as I have ascertained, he, too, has almost entirely severed his connection, and his financial interest in the works is very slender. In fact, whilst I was eagerly acquiring more and more of the shares, Allcroft, that’s his name, was quietly but steadily getting rid of his.”

“‘Unloading,’ I think it is called,” said Edward.

“And a very good term, too. The worst of it is, in a sense, I not only put my own and my daughter’s money into the company, but persuaded a number of my brother clergymen to do the same. You see, Mr. Beaumont, an archdeacon has naturally a great deal of confidence reposed in him, and, I’m sure I can’t tell why, my brethren credited me with an amount of business capacity and astuteness, which it is quite clear I don’t possess.”

“You ought to have smelt a rat when the Allcrofts unloaded. Depend upon it, they knew what they were about.”

“Oh! they had very good reasons to give—family settlements, the desire to retire from business, and so on.”

“You went into this thing, I suppose, largely on the advice of these Allcrofts?”


“Well, if I had thought their advice good enough to lead me into it, I think I should have considered their example still better to lead me out. However, you aren’t out, so it’s no use talking about that. But perhaps it’s not too late now. The shares will have fallen, but you might clear at a trifling loss.”

“Rat, you mean?”

“If you like, yes. A sinking ship’s not the best quarters.”

“You forget, Mr. Beaumont, I told you many of my brother clergymen have invested in the Skerne Iron Works through my advice and influence, and, indeed, not a few others, widowed ladies chiefly of small means. And I cannot leave them in the lurch. I wish you to investigate the affairs of the Company, and to take such steps as may get me clear of it with honour and with as little loss as may be.”

“I understand thoroughly, Archdeacon, and I shall have pleasure in doing my best to protect both your interest and your honour.”

“And now, Mr. Beaumont, enough of business for to-day. It is time to dress, and we shall, no doubt, find my daughter expecting us in the drawing-room. Our neighbour, Squire Wright, is to dine with us to-day, I think.”

Whilst the Vicar and his lawyer were in serious conference in the library. Miss Eleanor St. Clair was whiling away the tedious quarter of an hour before the dinner-bell with the only other guest of the evening. She was the Archdeacon’s only child, and he a widower for some years, and, since her mother’s death, the charge of the household had devolved upon daughter. Perhaps that fact had given to Eleanor a thoughtfulness and an air of authority beyond her years. Tall, raven of hair, of pure, pale the complexion, with dark orbs, full of life and intelligence, Eleanor moved with the easy grace of accustomed dignity. Incessit regina. Related on her mother’s side to the noble house of Yarborough, she did not forget that her grandfather was an earl, and it is possible she was equally well aware that the coronet of a countess would sit becomingly upon the smooth, white brow borne so proudly above her long but rounded neck, and the white smooth shoulders her simple costume of to-night rather hinted than revealed.

Her companion, Squire Wright, was the largest landowner, except perhaps the noble family aforesaid, for miles around. He said, and believed, that when Norman William came to the fens, a Wright was a Saxon Thane, and lord of many a wide-spreading demense, and that, from that day to this, Thoresby Manor had never been without a squire of his family sprung in direct line from the stout old Thane, who had dealt his shrewd knocks against the mailed warriors on Senlac’s fatal field. One felt little disposed to question the genealogy, looking at the present representative of the ancient line. George Wright was a well-set, stalwart man, of some thirty summers. His hair was flaxen, and curled closely to his head, his short beard and moustache were of flax, rudded by the sun, his shoulders were broad, his chest deep, his cheeks full, his eye of pale blue—a healthy, manly young Saxon, and good to look upon. For the rest, was he not in the commission of the peace, had a troop in the Yeomanry, riding to the annual inspection at the head of his own tenantry, could give a good account of himself among the partridges, and was so good a judge of a horse or a bullock that he was one of the judges at the County Cattle Show, and if not especially brilliant, was also not especially stupid; and if he had sowed any wild oats had sowed them discreetly and without scandal; was regular in his church-going, a steady supporter of the Crown, the Church, and the finest constitution in the world, and had no silly fads. He was an easy landlord, and, therefore, popular; his estate was unencumbered, and there were no sisters or younger brothers to provide for, and as it was now full time in everybody’s opinion, his own included, that he should marry and settle down, he told himself to-night for the thousandth time, that the country for once was right when it declared that no more gracious nor more beautiful nor more worthy a mistress for Thoresby Grange could be found, search where he might, than the Archdeacon’s queenly daughter.

“We have a visitor, George, from Yorkshire. Papa thought he could not very well do otherwise than ask him to stay at the Vicarage; though, I’m sure, if he’s at all like that horrid Mr. Shaw, he would have been much more at home at the ‘Marquis of Granby’ than with us.”

“And why should he be like ‘that horrid Shaw,’ Eleanor? Though Shaw is right enough for anything I can see. What’s the matter with Shaw, and why should your visitor be like him?”

“Mr. Shaw always smells of gin and tobacco, and our visitor, like him, is a solicitor.”

“Phew! a solicitor, and from Yorkshire? But, then, there are no doubt solicitors and solicitors; though I confess I don’t like the breed. No trouble of the Archdeacon’s, I hope.”

“Something to do with the Iron Works, I fancy. Papa, I know, has been very much troubled about them. You know I hate business, and understand it as little as I dislike it much. Whatever could have induced papa to meddle with those dirty works I can’t conceive.”

“Well come to that I’ve got a few shares in the Iron Works myself, Eleanor. The Archdeacon said it would be a good thing. I’m not in very deep, but I’m afraid your father has invested pretty considerably in the shares. Indeed, I know he has taken over shares from people who bought on his recommendation, and very foolishly insisted on giving them the price they gave, though the shares are down in the market.”

“Well, I only hope this Mr. Beaumont, I think they call him, will take some of the creases out of papa’s brow. He may smell of gin and tobacco as much as he likes, and I’ll be monstrous civil to him, if he’ll do that, and I expect you to be the same, sir. But here they come.”

If either Eleanor St. Clair or Squire Wright had any idea of being condescendingly polite to the lawyer from Yorkshire, the idea was banished as Edward Beaumont acknowledged the Archdeacon’s introduction to his daughter, and made his bow before his hostess. If Edward had not mixed much in polite society—as the world counts polite society—he knew its usages. Without being conceited, he knew himself to be as well educated, in the broad sense of the word, as most men, and he was very far from feeling disposed to cringe before either Church dignitary or landed magnate. The Archdeacon, indeed, accustomed to the smooth deference of the suave attorneys of the cathedral town who did the business of the clergy of the county, had been surprised and pleased to find in his guest not only a shrewd, well-informed lawyer, but a scholar and a gentleman, who took it for granted that he would be received in the Archdeacon’s house on the footing of any other guest.

The dinner-gong sounded as the introductions ended, and Edward with Miss St. Clair on his arm, followed his host and the Squire into the dining-room.

“You’ve not seen enough of our county, yet, to tell us how it impresses you, Mr. Beaumont, and I don’t know anything of Yorkshire, except that it is mostly moors and mills. Huddersfield, I suppose, is all smoke and mills?”

“We’ve mills enough in and about the town, but we haven’t much to complain about in the matter of smoke. For one thing, the surrounding hills are so lofty, and the moors on their summits so extensive, that the breezes sweep down the valleys or over our heads, and of a summer day you can stand in the main street of the town and see above your head sky as blue and as little obscured by smoke as looks down upon your fat pastures and rustling cornfields. You must go to Sheffield for smoke, not Huddersfield.”

“But your people,” said the Squire. “They’re a rascally set of malcontents, I have always understood—Chartists, atheists, and Communists.”

Edward laughed pleasantly.

“I am by way of telling our people they are the most intelligent and the most independent in the world. I’ve no doubt, though, there are some Chartists among them, or those who were Chartists in their youth. As for Republicans, well, you know, we go in for practical measures up our way and leave Utopias to the dreamers. As Pat at Donnybrook Fair, if he sees a head he hits it; so we just hit the abuses we see.”

“But aren’t the mill-hands, generally speaking, a very godless set of men?” asked the Archdeacon. “I have always looked on my brother clergymen who accept livings or curacies in the West Riding more as missionaries than incumbents, and, indeed, they tell fearful tales of the irreverence and slackness of the common people in the manufacturing towns. Dissent, we know, is simply rampant in the West Riding.”

“I should scarcely have regarded dissent as a sign of want of spirituality,” said Edward, with a quiet smile. “I have always regarded it as a rather disagreeable sign of excessive spirituality—religion run mad.”

“But the mills, Mr. Beaumont,” interposed Miss St. Clair, who, perhaps, thought the conversation was tending in a direction best avoided. “One reads stories of the awful lives of the factories. It must be so wretched to live all the weary days amid the din of the wheels and the fluff and dirt and grease of the wool.”

“If you were to stand, Miss St. Clair, as I have often stood, of a dark and wintry night on the ridge of one of our valleys, and looked down upon the great mills, their windows all glowing with light, and heard from within the deep voices of the men, and the sweet, pure, trained notes of the women and the girls, blended in some well-known hymn, or even taking their parts in some familiar and more complex song, you would not think the weaver’s lot a very wretched one. Depend upon it, there’s a lot of poetry in a mill, only we haven’t yet been happy enough to produce a poet. But I profess it is strange to find you commiserating our mill-hands. We in the West Riding have always thought it was the poor hinds of the country who called for commiseration. I don’t know that we regard Huddersfield as an Athens of the North, but we certainly have thought of parts of Lincolnshire as a sort of Baotia. I’m afraid we have been wasting a lot of very genuine sympathy. Perhaps I don’t know much about Hodge. I hope to know more before I leave Lincolnshire. May I hope Miss St. Clair will be my instructress?”

“Confound his impudence!” thought the Squire. “Do you hunt, Mr. Beaumont?”

“No! our’s is not a hunting district. Besides, I haven’t the time for it.”

“You shoot, of course?”

“Oh! I’ve knocked over a grouse or a hare or two. But, to tell the truth, I am no sportsman. When I go on the moors I’d rather lie down in the sun and admire the view than blaze away at the birds. And as for sport, rather badger a witness than hunt a fox, any day.”

“We can’t all badger a witness,” suggested Eleanor.

“Besides, a fox likes the run as much as the hounds do.”

“So I’ve heard,” conceded Edward; “but never from the lips of Monsieur Reynard. I never heard of a witness enjoying badgering. But, there, I’m no sportsman, only because I can’t get sport conveniently—I’m no sentimentalist.”

“It’s marvellous,” said the Archdeacon, “what a lot of ‘anti-everything’ people there are. You have nothing to do nowadays but declare you like something, and a society is sure to be formed to put it down. There are people who won’t smoke, or drink a glass of good wine, or honest beer, or eat flesh meat, or play a hand at whist, or go near a racecourse, or handle a gun, or touch a cue. It is Puritanism run mad.”

“They’re generally a set of low Radical Methodists,” opined the Squire. “You never find such absurd fads among Church people.”

“Of course not,” agreed the Archdeacon. “All the same,” demurred Edward, “I don’t see the connection between sound doctrine and roast beef, or between Church polity and a hand at whist.”

“It’s a mental habit, my dear sir,” explained the cleric. “A man begins by dissenting from the Church of his fathers, and by a natural process begins to question their diet.”

“Depend upon it,” said Wright, with conviction, the battles of Old England were never fought, nor its empire built, on carrots and cold water. Look at your Frenchman.”

“I’ve known some very charming French-women,” protested Edward.

“We spent a month in Paris last autumn,” said the Archdeacon, “and I hadn’t a decent meal all the time I was there.”

“Oh! Papa!” protested Eleanor. “The cooking is exquisite.”

“A woman doesn’t understand cooking,” declared her father. “It is well known that if the matter had been left to Eve, we should never have progressed beyond tea and bread and butter.”

“At any rate, Eve invented costumes,” suggested Edward. “The Palais-Royal was founded in Eden.”

“Don’t speak disrespectfully of Eden,” said the Archdeacon.

“I don’t. ’tis there we meet the first lawyer.”

“You mean the serpent.”

Teste Coleridge,” said Beaumont. “You remember the lines, Miss St. Clair?—

‘Cain and his brother Abel.’”

“I never knew before how much we have to reproach you with, Mr. Beaumont.”

“But if there had been no lawyers there would have been no—Archdeacons, shall we say?”

“Oh, then, we’ll forgive them for the sake of the Archdeacons. You won’t keep me sitting by myself in the drawing-room too long, papa,” and Miss St. Clair swept through the door which Beaumont opened. “I declare we women have always to leave the table by the time men find their tongues.”

“’Tis a custom more honoured in the breach than the observance,” quoted Edward, as he bowed before her.

“Fill up your glass, Wright,” said the Archdeacon. “That Burgundy’s all right, if you prefer it. But I’m for the vintage—what does our Lincolnshire bard sing?—

‘Whose father grape grew fat

In Lusitanian summers.’

Did you see the Standard this morning, Mr. Beaumont? I see the rumour grows more persistent that Gladstone may dissolve any day. He will go to the country, of course, on the Extension of the Franchise?”

“And Parish Councils,” added Beaumont.

“Cursed rot,” muttered the Squire. “That man will ruin the country. See if he don’t disestablish and disendow you, Archdeacon, before he dies.”

“Mr. Gladstone’s a good Churchman, I always understood,” demurred Edward.

“He’d rob his grandmother for power,” vowed the Squire.

“Perhaps Mr. Beaumont is an admirer of his?” queried his host.

“My grandfather was a Whig, my father a Liberal, and you may write me down a——”

“‘Not an ass,’ that’s the correct quotation, I believe.”

“No! a Radical.”

“That’s worse!” said the Squire, with emphasis.

“Radical lawyers are raræaves are they not, Mr. Beaumont?” asked the Archdeacon.

“Black swans. Black enough, I suppose, Mr. Wright thinks. Well, yes, in the country, men of my branch of the profession are generally Conservative. I don’t know why, except it be that they have the sense to know on which side their bread is buttered.”

“Of course,” said the Squire; “the law and the land.”

“But in my town,” said Edward, “there’s only one landlord and we can’t all live on him. But we manage to butter our bread pretty well all the same.”

“No more wine, Mr. Beaumont? Then we’ll see if Miss St. Clair can give us a cup of tea.”


The time passed very pleasantly at Caistorholm Vicarage. Edward rose betimes each morning, and was often deep immersed in the intricacies of the Skerne Iron Works Company’s accounts long before his host had quitted his downy bed, and could with clear conscience enter into those delights of country-life that were to him all the sweeter because unaccustomed. The glories of the Vicarage garden were on the wane, but its orchard was prepared to yield its juicy fruits. The fields were fast ripening for the sickle. The great calm and hush of those pastoral scenes stole over his senses like a young child’s sleep. There were no revelries, but there was constant interest. The Archdeacon had suggested a dinner-party, but Edward had been so emphatic in his declarations of preference for quiet, the project had been abandoned. A neighbouring vicar or rector dropped in occasionally for luncheon, and was easily persuaded to stay for dinner. Edward had, at first, spoken rarely and with reserve about matters social and political—doctrine was avoided by common consent. Strange, one may pass a month in a clergyman’s house and never hear religion discussed. Presumably the household has so long taken fundamental dogma for granted that the possibilities of wide divergence amounting to repudiation is not so much as thought of. Edward saw with amaze men of unquestioned scholarship and intelligence equally indisputably above the average grow warm and excited in discussing the Eastward position, incense, lights, stoles, birettas, man millinery generally. He itched to tell them that the vast bulk of those who should be their flock didn’t care a brass farthing about genuflexions or ecclesiastical trappings. What the human soul yearns to understand is the Divine rule and ordinance, if rule and ordnance there be and not blind chaos; to know if man be indeed Imaginis Imago, or but the last if not the final link of a chain long drawn out with a protoplasm at one end of it; if there is indeed and in very sooth a God our Father, who sees and loves and can be moved by prayer, if man have in truth an immortal spirit or is like unto the beasts that perish; if it be true that after death comes the judgement, when the gross inequalities of this world shall be made right and virtue shall indeed reign. Edward knew, as any man with ears to hear may know, that the avowed scepticism of mankind is a mere speck of dust compared with the huge mass of practical perhaps unconscious, infidelity that pervades society. It filled him with impatient scorn that men who should be leaders of thought, able to give counsel and enlightenment to those who grope in darkness, should spend the priceless years in mumbling twaddling homilies and in agitated harassment about stage effects. He could not interest himself in the question how far a beneficed incumbent may go on the road to Rome without jeopardising his living. He longed to tell these clerical traitors who let “I dare not wait upon I would,” that in this country any man worth his salt, who had a message to give, need not be uneasy about the forthcoming of the salt. He could go back to Yorkshire, he reflected sardonically, and find a score of half-educated weavers who had borne hunger and thirst, imprisonment, and stripes for conscience sake, and were ready to do it again and glory in the doing. But, then, hunger and thirst and imprisonment and stripes are one thing to a man to whom hunger and thirst and oppression are the daily lot, and quite another to a sleek, soft man who basks in the sunshine all his days and counts himself piteously poor and an object of commiseration on five hundred a year.

“Why, don’t you all turn dissenters?” he asked of a clerical party one evening, as they lingered over the desert. “You all find fault with your Bishop. The poor man can apparently do nothing right. If you were dissenting ministers you would be your own bishops.”

“I fancy, my dear Beaumont, the dissenters have their Trust deeds.”

“Oh, Trust deeds—a fico for your Trust deeds. They talk about driving a coach and six through an Act of Parliament—why, a regiment of soldiers could walk through a Trust deed. ’Tis an instrument as little resorted to for the purpose of torture in a Nonconformist church as the thumbscrew in the Tower of London. Besides a man isn’t a fixture in a Dissenting Church. When he has talked himself dry, or made more enemies than friends, he can always change pulpits with another fellow who has talked himself dry or made more enemies than friends.”

“There are our social status and influence to be considered,” said a sucking young curate just emerged from the Bishop’s Hostel. “Our mere position invests us with a sacred authority never wielded by a mere dissenter.”

“Your social position is largely the result of social factors. The Established Church draws its ministers mainly from families socially established, and they receive not only the education and culture, but also the social stamp of Oxford or Cambridge. The dissenting parson is often the son of a grocer or a shoemaker, and receives a surface polish and a surfeit of theology at a training college, but seldom loses the smell of the ancestral shop. Your clergyman is a gentleman first, a clergyman afterwards. Turn all your well-born scholars into Methodists, and your half-educated social inferiors into the Church, and you would reverse the present social positions of the established and the nonconforming divines.”

“Then you think our present social superiority, and therefore our greater influence for good, for, of course, it is only to be valued for that, is a matter of birth and education.”

“Largely, but not entirely. You see, your present status is official. You owe your posts directly or indirectly to the Crown. You are part of the machinery of the State. And it is surprising how mere officialism and the possession of authorised and acknowledged titles impress the popular imagination in this country. You see it all through. Dub a man M.A. or LL.D., and the general man will persist in thinking him a better scholar than another who far surpasses him, but has not received the hall-mark of a University. So put a man in uniform with epaulettes and dub him an officer. He bears a social cachet, though he may be a poltroon and a blackguard. It is largely an affair of clothes and names and State-connection. You clergymen, if you really care about retaining your social importance, would commit social suicide if you got yourselves disestablished, even if you retain those endowments and other fleshpots you are so concerned about, but which appear to me the element you could most easily compensate under a system of voluntaryism.”

“Then you think, Mr. Beaumont,” asked the Rector of Fillingham, “our policy is to let well alone?”

“Yes, if you’re let. I think if I were an incumbent with a fat living I could swallow my bishop and make no bones about it. Remember the dissenting parsons have their deacons, and I can conceive of nothing more galling than for a man of principle and education to have to trim his sails to suit the views of a coarse, uneducated deacon with all the soul of a village tyrant, just because he happens to have more money than some of the humbler worshippers. I should preach either him or myself out of the conventicle.”

“Ah! he would be your bishop,” laughed the Archdeacon.

“Those dissenters are just the plague of my life,” confided one of the country vicars from a neighbouring parish. “Just fancy, Mr. Beaumont, there aren’t five hundred families in all my parish, and yet there is besides mother church, a Wesleyan chapel, a Congregational and a Baptist. It turns my modest glass of wine and my crust to gall and ashes when I think of it.”

“Oh! I know something of the feeling, Vicar. You don’t suppose I like to see people taking their cases to the man next door, who, I am persuaded is not half so fine a fellow as I am. But you can’t go begging for communicants, any more than I can go touting for clients. Besides, what does it matter in which church a man saves his soul alive, so long as it is saved. Ut palata, sic judicia is of universal application.”

“Ah! but can a man be saved outside the true Church?” asked the young curate from the Bishop’s Hostel.

“That’s a question the next Roman Catholic parish priest might have something to say about,” rejoined Edward. “Anyway, people seem willing to risk it. Don’t you think, Archdeacon, instead of trying to filch flocks from the folds, the shepherds of the Church could find quite enough to do in casting their crooks about those wandering sheep that are utterly lost in the wilderness?”

“Pray condescend to particularise, Mr. Beaumont,” begged his host.

“Well, a day or two before I came down here a vulgar case, of which I need not trouble you with the details, gave me a glimpse of the workings of the Salvation Army.”

“A most valuable institution, no doubt,” said the Archdeacon.

“Yes,” said Edward, “but you will pardon my saying—why a Salvation Army at all? Here are more than half our churches and chapels with yawning pews, and out in the street are crowds of earnest enthusiasts following a dancing Dervish and a big drum.”

“You wouldn’t have me dancing in my cassock through Caisterholm, and the parish clerk or verger tinkling a tambourine?”

“Well, no. But, after all, if the mountain won’t come to Mahomet, Mahomet must go to the mountain. And that’s just General Booth’s secret.”

“A very latitudinarian young man,” commented one vicar to another, as they jogged home together in the still autumnal evening through the fragrant hedgerows. “Whatever did St. Clair mean by taking advice from a man like him. But the man may be a good lawyer for all that, and I won’t look too closely at his Church principles if he’ll pull my good sovereigns out of those infernal Skerne blasts.”

The Archdeacon himself, before Beaumont had been a week under his roof, had conceived not only a high opinion of his guests’ acumen and legal attainments, but also a warm regard for himself personally. Their very points of difference seemed to enhance the pleasure the cleric found in the lawyer’s society and conversation. It is true they approached almost every subject from an entirely different point of view, and therein lay constant danger of friction or collision. But Edward had ever a seemly consideration for his senior in years and a ready concession of whatever deference the Archdeacon’s ecclesiastical dignity reasonably demanded. There is, perhaps, nothing so well designed as practice in the Courts to develop in a man a happy blending of due submission to authority with the respectful but unflinching assertion of one’s own opinions. The Archdeacon declared in later years that it was as great a pleasure to be routed in argument by Beaumont as to prevail, for the fellow had a sweet reasonableness about him that took away the sting of defeat, and almost persuaded the vanquished that he himself was victor. The elder man was fond of controversy if it were not pushed too far, of debate if it were conducted decently. It was an intellectual treat to meet a man with the generous enthusiasm of youth and with ideas outside the narrow range with which a country clergyman, whose only associates are clergymen like unto himself, must, almost perforce, be content. Though not so disputative as the man who repined because the very wife of his bosom was ceasing to contradict him, the Archdeacon wearied at times of speaking ex cathedra Moreover, in a society drawn almost exclusively from one’s fellows controversy lacked not only variety of interest but variety of treatment. No doubt the smooth serenity of a soundly Conservative orthodoxy was an excellent thing, but the Vicar of Caistorholm confessed to himself that Beaumont’s radical heterodoxy, if a disturbance, was one that acted as a mental tonic and wholesome fillip. Exercise is a disturbance; but it is recommended for the liver. Mr. St. Clair acknowledged with a sigh that, intellectually and spiritually, life at Caistorholm might be serene, but it was unquestionably sluggish.

“We touched on Disestablishment the other evening,” he said one day to Edward, as they walked together in the peaceful afternoon of a mellow autumn day about the Vicarage gardens; “I did not encourage you to pursue the subject, because some of our friends are very sensitive on that topic. To us clergymen, you know, the Church is as the Ark to the Levites, not to be touched by unholy hands.”

“Well,” said Edward, smiling, “I’ve no mind to bring upon myself the fate of Uzzah—at all events, I must avoid it whilst I am at the Vicarage. Percz-Uzzah is not near so pretty a name as Caistorholm.”

“But though I did not think it desirable to discuss the question when some of my friends were present who are, I fear, too apt to confound persons and principles and to think suspiciously, if not evilly, of a man who differs from them as widely as I know you do, I hope you will not conclude I shrink from discussing it. Nay, I confess, I should like to know your views on the question more at large, for then we of the Order should at least know how we appear to the outer world and learn the worst we have to expect.”

“To tell the truth, Mr. St. Clair, it is a question I have little at heart. It has always seemed to me more an affair between Church and Chapel than one that concerns the masses very largely. And, you see, if I’m but an indifferent Churchman I’m just as bad a Chapel man. Indeed, so far as I can see, a Chapel man is only an average Trinitarian, plus envy, indocility, and cant. In the abstract, of course, I certainly think the Establishment cannot be justified to-day whatever might have been said for it, at the reformation, say. As for your endowments, I think the nonconforming envy of them simply contemptible, and the claim that they ought to be applied to national education, free libraries, art galleries, etc., a mere pretence. If John Bull wants art galleries he can afford to pay for them without taking the coat off your back. No! I don’t feel like slapping you in the face, Archdeacon, just to pleasure the Rev. Josiah Boanerges, who would have no objection to be snugly endowed himself. Frankly, I don’t think the Church will fall from any blows that may be dealt from without. Its danger lies in the dry-rot that is silently but surely Consuming the inner rafters and supports.”

“Dry rot, my dear Beaumont!”

“Yes, dry-rot. If I speak at all you must let me speak frankly, and you know I do not want to wound your sensibilities. Burns, after all, was foolish to sigh for the gift to see ourselves as others see us. It might from ‘mony a faultie free us and sair mistake’; but it would so rudely and so constantly shake our serenity that life would not be worth the living. Let us change the subject, Archdeacon.”

“Well, I’ll tell you frankly enough the great danger of the Church. You know it is a common lament that your services, in the towns, I mean, attract the women, not the men?”

The Vicar bowed a silent assent.

“Now, how do you account for it, Mr. St. Clair?”

“I can only suggest spiritual indifference.”

“Nay, I cannot subscribe to that. Take my town. Let a good speaker be announced to deliver an address on political or social questions he can fill the Town Hall with men and women, mostly men, of every grade—clergy men, dissenting ministers, lawyers, doctors, manufacturers, merchants, shop-keepers; and working-men.”

“Yes, but that is to hear about worldly affairs, Beaumont, not heavenly. Your lecturers deal with to-day and here. I speak of to-morrow and there.”

“Ah! well, Archdeacon, I think you will find if a man is anxious about setting matters right to-day and here he will not be indifferent about to-morrow and there. But you must satisfy him there is a to-morrow and there.”

“But that is of course.”

“To you, yes. But to how many? I don’t judge men by their professions or their creeds. I judge them by their acts. And so judged I conclude that for most men to-day and here are very real, to-morrow and there are very visionary, very problematical; so distant, so uncertain, as to be a negligible quantity.”

“Then you would have us?”

“I would have the Church remember that we live in a questioning age, an age when the fact of an institution or an opinion being hoary with age, so far from rendering it secure from investigation rather makes it an object of suspicion. We have found our forefathers wrong in so many things, and we have improved on them so much, that we have lost our confidence in their judgment. The Church drones about things nobody questions I mean what Matthew Arnold calls ‘right conduct,’ what you call ‘righteousness’; it dogmatises, I mean asserts positively or takes for granted things which an increasing number of intelligent men are very far indeed from taking for granted. Men will no more endure being droned to about right conduct than they will submit to having it eternally dinned into their ears that twice two makes four. They cry you ‘granted.’ They go to Church for bread and you give them a stone. They seek for guidance and assurance, if guidance and assurance there may be, on matters you have made a special study, and instead of showing them how to be sure, you only tell them that you are sure.”

“What more can we do? People don’t believe, because their hearts are corrupt, and they don’t want to believe. If anyone wish to know the truth let him seek it on his knees. ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cannot tell whither it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.’”

“Possibly,” said Edward, dryly. “We quote authorities in the Law Courts, Mr. St. Clair; but, you see, they are of acknowledged validity there. The suitors in our Courts are bound by the law they seek to invoke, and submit themselves to the jurisdiction when they enter their plaints. You see, the whole point is that, to-day, you have to deal with honest doubters who deny the authority of your authority, and your only answer is a petitio principis. But I see Miss St. Clair is ready for her expedition to the village, and I am to have the honour of accompanying her.”

The Archdeacon looked thoughtfully at the figures of his daughter and guest, as, side by side, apparently in gay converse, they passed down the Vicar’s Walk that led through orchard and paddock, past the hoary church and mouldering churchyard into the road that led to the straggling rows of peasants’ and small farmers’ houses, with here and there a shop, that constitute the village of Caistorholm. He could not fail to observe that Eleanor took pleasure in the lawyer’s company, that her glance had been brighter, her face happier of late. Mr. St. Clair was glad that Edward’s stay at the Vicarage should be made pleasant to him, and that his daughter should find a visit that might have developed into a visitation an agreeable break in the monotony of rural life. It was, of course, eminently satisfactory that the stranger whom he had been advised to consult and to trust in a matter of the very gravest importance should turn out to be not only a sound and reliable lawyer and a shrewd business man, but also a well-educated, well-read man, with the manners of a gentleman. Mr. St. Clair’s acquaintance with solicitors was chiefly confined to the urbane practitioners who dealt in advowsons or were learned in dilapidations, and with them he had permitted himself rather a condescending affability. From the first he had recognised that he could not patronise Beaumont, and had enjoyed the discomfiture and amazement with which Squire Wright had retired from his attempt in that direction, and which had so affected him that he had given the Vicarage a wide berth ever since. But Mr. St. Clair told himself that, after all, he knew very little about Beaumont. His old college friend, Fortescue, had told him that he had heard the best accounts of Beaumont’s successful conduct of a difficult and delicate matter, in which a mutual friend had been embroiled, and on his recommendation, and not without some natural hesitation, he had invited Edward to his home, feeling that he would rather confide to a stranger living at a distance than to a Lincoln lawyer the whole story of what he was now fully persuaded had been his very foolish, nay, reckless speculations in the Skerne shares. With Edward as a legal adviser he felt that he had more than reason to be satisfied, and he had enjoyed his conversation and the interchange of thought not a little. But he noticed with anything but satisfaction that Edward had made his conversation very acceptable to the stately Eleanor, who was not easily pleased. Not one afternoon passed but the young people found some occasion for being together—a round of parochial visits in which Edward carried the basket, and supplemented Eleanor’s tracts with covert half-crowns to rheumatic and asthmatical pensioners; a drive in Eleanor’s pony-carriage to some object of antiquarian interest, an ancient tower or a ruined church—who does not know the devices by which the tedium of the country is enlivened for the visitor from the towns?

On these excursions the Archdeacon felt he could not, even privately to his daughter, put an embargo, without giving them an importance which they might not deserve, and even suggesting to his daughter’s mind ideas that might never lodge there unless suggested. To be sure, the Archdeacon might accompany the young folk on these jaunts; but the archdeacon, like many less exalted individuals, liked to take his ease of an afternoon, and found himself on all the better terms with himself and mankind in general for forty winks in the armchair of his study, after luncheon of an afternoon, when it was a matter of faith in the household that he was meditating his next Sunday sermon, and must on no account be disturbed.

And so it came about that if Edward spent many a long hour with the father over the wearying and irritating concerns of the Iron Works, or holding forth, as was his wont, upon topics of more general interest, sometimes startling, sometimes alarming, but always interesting the Vicar, he spent also hours that seemed neither long, tedious, nor irritating with Eleanor St. Clair, when we may be sure the subjects of conversation were neither law nor theology nor commerce.

“This kind of thing, Miss St. Clair, is idyllic,” said Beaumont. “I have always had my mental picture of the Lady Bountiful of a village. She must, of course, be beautiful, with a soft, musical, tender voice, a heart quick to feel, and a soft and lily-white hand quick to help. Her path is strewn beneath her feet with the heartfelt blessings of the poor and afflicted. She moves a ministering angel among the hovels of the destitute.”

“Ah! now, Mr. Beaumont, you are laughing at me. Surely you would have me help the sick and needy.”

“It is the most priceless prerogative of the rich, and if I seem to mock I hasten to cry peccavi. But, seriously, this kind of parochial charity is but a dainty dilettantism, and you engage in it, Miss St. Clair, I beg you to confess, partly because it grieves you to see suffering without trying to relieve it and partly because it is picturesque.”

“Then I shall confess nothing of the kind, Mr. Beaumont. It is my simple duty to visit the sick and to do what little I can to ease their pains.”

“There’s Stokes the cobbler laid up with the lumbago, I am told. I went into his little shop the other day to get a trifling repair done, and the poor old fellow was nearly doubled up with pain, and, if I’m not very much mistaken, slowly dying of hunger. Shall we take Stokes the cobbler on our round?”

“Stokes does not belong to us, Mr. Beaumont. Papa would not like me to visit him. And I’m not sure that Stokes would be over civil to me.”

“He seemed a surly sort of customer, truly. I was chatting away quite comfortably with him when I mentioned casually that I was staying at the Vicarage. Then he seemed to shut himself up as I’ve seen a flower do in an east wind. Is there war between him and the Vicarage?”

“As if there could be! Papa would not condescend to notice anything such a man could say or do. All the same, it isn’t nice to be called a whited sepulchre, and I believe that is Stokes’ mildest epithet for papa.”

“Then he’s a dissenter, I suppose. He did not appear unctuous enough for that. But religion may have disagreed with him. I have observed that with some people it acts like whey in a curd.”

“They say,” spoke Eleanor, with bated breath, “he’s a Bradlaughite, an atheist. He talks about Tom Paine and the rights of man.”

“And how does he live?”

“As you know, he is a cobbler. But I don’t suppose he gets much work. It is very inconvenient. Of course, we cannot send our repairs to him, and his being here prevents another setting up in the village.”

“It’s most inconsiderate of him,” said Beaumont, gravely. “He ought to be made to see that he is inconveniencing the servants of the Vicarage. No doubt, if he were told, he would go away, and make room for a better man. Then he doesn’t get much work?”

“Very little. He seems to spend most of his time, in the summer, in the fields; and I have heard he has a curious gift of taming birds and animals. I fancy he ekes out a scanty livelihood that way.”

“Perhaps he has taken to birds and animals because he can’t get men and women to have anything to do with him. A man must love something or other.”

“What! all men?”

“Yes, I suppose so—all men. Even lawyers.”

“I know one lawyer who is very fond of something.”

“And of someone?”

“I said something, sir!”

“And that is?”

“Lecturing other people.”

“A hit, a most palpable hit, Miss St. Clair. I own my fault. But confess I don’t pretend to be a bit better than my neighbours. But about this Stokes, now. He interests me.”

“Of course.”

“Why of course?”

“Well, you see, Stokes would be all right if he would only take things as he finds them. Why can’t he come to church like other people, and be a decent member of society? Instead of that he goes on Saturday night to the public-house and talks—oh! horrid things—blasphemy and high treason, to the labourers. Papa says if his ricks are burned he shall have Stokes arrested as an accessory before the fact.”

“I don’t suppose Mr. St. Clair will entrust me with the brief for the prosecution.”

“Oh, no! If you don’t take care, sir, you’ll have enough to do to defend yourself some fine day. But I’ve done Stokes an injustice. I said he went to the public-house. He used to; but the Publican refused to serve him any more.”

“Got too much to drink, I suppose. I always knew tailors were a guzzling lot. Tailoring runs to drink, as naturally as cobbling to atheism. I don’t know why, but cobblers are all free-thinkers and tailors and lawyers’ clerks born tosspots.”

“Well, you’re out this time, Mr. Beaumont. The landlord—he’s people’s warden, you know, at the church and a most respectable man—turned Stokes out because, whenever he went of a Saturday night, he drank only one mug of small beer in a matter of three hours, and all the time discoursed of nothing but the evils of strong drink. He so frightened our undergardener, who was of the company, that he turned teetotaller, and got my maid to stitch him a piece of blue ribbon in the lapel of his Sunday coat.”

“That was carrying the war into the enemy’s camp with a vengeance. Well, he won’t be able to corrupt the farm labourers any longer of a Saturday night now he’s ejected from the ‘Blue Boar.’”

“Oh! they’ve started a club, and Joseph Arch came to open it. Papa was so upset he fled to Lincoln, and stopped a whole week at the Palace, though he does nothing but quarrel with the dear bishop.”

“And I suppose the Vicarage set the fashion in tabooing this poor son of St. Crispin?”

“Of course, papa cannot countenance atheism and arson”

“Clearly. But if the man’s ill, the man’s ill, and atheist or no atheist the man’s a man. I’m sorry I didn’t know more about him when I went to have my boot stretched. However, the other boot isn’t very comfortable, that’s one consolation.”

They walked on in silence for a time. Then, apropos of nothing, Eleanor said, very quietly: “The man must have some good about him or he wouldn’t be so fond of birds and animals. I think my boot is not very comfortable, Mr. Beaumont.”

Edward laughed gaily. “What will the Archdeacon say?”

“Oh! papa won’t mind. He’ll probably tell me I’m a goose for my pains.”

“Ah! well; I don’t know. I think the Church makes a mistake in being so discriminating in its charity.”

“You are a universal fault-finder, Mr. Beaumont. But I suppose that is what makes you a Radical. It must be a very unhappy state of mind—to be always seeing the imperfections of things.”

“Somebody must do it, Miss St. Clair. Even critics have their uses. But when you announced so unexpectedly that your shoe pinched you, I was wondering how Sister Gertrude would have dealt with old Stokes.”

“I didn’t know you had a sister. Do tell me about her.”

“Well you see, I haven’t, except in a very broad sense. Sister Gertrude is the name of a young lady I met under rather interesting circumstances. Shall I tell you about her?”

Then Edward narrated the story of the troubles of Patrick Sullivan.

“Was she very beautiful?”

“Very. It was a sort of awful beauty. You forgot the artistic delight inspired by her perfection of form, colour, and expression, in the sense that you gazed upon one who was superior to mere charm of person. There seemed something like sacrilege in thinking of her as beautiful. I suppose a devout Catholic does not let his thoughts dwell upon the physical charms of the Madonna.”

“You cease to be critical, Mr. Beaumont, sometimes I see. And she was a lady, you say?”

“Unquestionably, or I’m no judge.”

“But, after all, this lady only does ostentatiously and to the sound of the drum and the tambourine what I, what we, try to do quietly and unostentatiously. You sneer at my tracts; but as I have no gifts for sermon-making, what can I do but take a tract?”

“Oh! I don’t find fault with the tracts, Miss St. Clair, though they’re twaddly things.”

Miss St. Clair smiled.

“I fear they’re very goody-goody. But I don’t write them, you know. Why don’t you write a tract yourself, Mr. Beaumont, and show the world how it should be done?”

“Again a hit, a most palpable hit. But you see, that isn’t my line.”

“No; your line is fault-finding. What’s that Latin papa always quotes—si possis, ernenda. I forget the rest.”

Si non, his utere mecum,” completed Edward. “Well, I won’t amend your tracts, still less use them. A Radical has greater work cut out for him. You see that hind labouring in the field yonder, Miss St. Clair? Now, I think I know the kind of life that man leads. He toils like a slave year in and year out for a wretched twelve shillings a week. He lives on fat bacon and cabbage and coarse bread. His thatched cottage is small, dark, unwholesome. There is a cesspool at his very door and a dunghill under his window. His great dissipation is a quart of beer and a big drunk at harvest time. He can scarcely read, and if he could read he has no literature but a Bible, of which only very small portions are intelligible to him for want of other knowledge, and, of course, your tracts. When he is old, and rheumatism wracks his bones, and he is past work, he and his dame must either be burdens on their children, who will be no better off than he is now, or go to the Union Workhouse. And this kind of thing has been going on for generation after generation, and all the suggestion the Church, or Sister Gertrude I suppose for that matter, has to make, takes the form of a bottle of medicine, a roll of flannel, and a tract or a sermon.”

Edward spoke warmly indignantly.

“And you?” said Miss St. Clair.

“I—nay, not I. Say We. We, Radicals I mean, would tell that man he is a fool to be content to till the land all his life for another to reap the harvest. We don’t think that it is one of the divinely ordained laws of nature that there should be a Squire Wright and a Hodge.”

“There always has been, there always will be, just as there have always been horses and riders.”

“And hammers and anvils? Well, we Radicals think otherwise. We say that it is better that all men should walk on their own legs than that one should be borne in a palanquin. Some day the people will examine the title deeds of your Squire Wrights.”

“That will be a fat day for the lawyers, Mr. Beaumont,” suggested Eleanor mischievously.

“Nay, in the ideal state there’ll be no lawyers.”

“And clearly there’ll be no critics; there’ll be nothing to criticise. Poor Mr. Beaumont. How unhappy you’ll be. Quelle triste veillesse vous vous preparez.”

“Oh, well, imperfection will last my time, Miss St. Clair. And if I cannot find perfection in this sweet Arcadia of yours, why I deserve to. . . .”

“Get Sister Gertrude to find it for you in the slums. How provoking there’s the bell, and only just time to dress for dinner.”


The business that had taken Edward Beaumont to Caistorholm was progressing satisfactorily, and the Archdeacon and the other shareholders had every reason to congratulate themselves on having invited his assistance. It had been the usual story, a large industrial concern successfully and prosperously conducted so long as its founders had been young, energetic, and single-eyed. When they had made their fortunes and courted ease they had converted the business into a company, retaining a connection with it as salaried directors. They had put their own price on what they had to sell to the company and had not felt called upon exactly to kill themselves by working too hard as directors.

With a concern much over-capitalised and lax management, the natural result had ensued; but Beaumont had seen that with some reduction of sharemoney and better management, the situation might be saved. He had impressed his views on the general body of shareholders without any difficulty, and had cared not a rap for the black looks of the directors compulsorily retired.

All this had kept him busy enough, and every post brought him letters, copies of accounts, drafts of legal documents, and such like. One morning, as the Vicarage party were at breakfast, and the Archdeacon had opened the letter-bag and distributed its contents, Edward was smiling over a petulant letter from Storth, who wanted to know if he intended to spend the whole of the Long Vacation at Caistorholm, and if he expected his long-suffering partner to submit to being cooped up in the office when all the rest of the legal world was on the moors or drinking the waters or sniffling the salt sea air.

“Poor Sam! it’s too bad, after he’d rigged himself out for the moors. Ah, well! he must spell patience for another week anyhow,” he reflected.

“Do Radicals dance, Mr. Beaumont?” asked Eleanor. “Yes, you’re right, papa, it’s from the Countess.”

“Do Radicals dance? Some of them do, I believe. I know one who tries, et après?”

“The Countess of Yarborough asks us to dinner for the —th, and there’s to be dancing afterwards. It won’t be a ball, you know. Only the house-party down with Lord Lindsey for the shooting and a few neighbours. It will be very nice, though. Of course, we can go, papa?”

“Yes, why not? Write and accept at once, Eleanor. You’ll join us, Beaumont?”


“Oh! there’s neither if nor but in it. Lady Yarborough will be delighted to see you, and you’ll get on well with young Lindsey, that’s her son, you know. He’s been at Heidelburgh lately, studying philosophy. Said Oxford was decadent and obstructive. I’m sure I don’t know what’s come over all the young fellows now-a-days.”

“The sportsmen aren’t content with pheasants and partridges and hares as their fathers were, they go to the Alleghanies and Central Africa for big game, and the scholars, I suppose, think they’re entitled to follow suit and try farther afield for fresh ideas,” suggested Eleanor.

“Anyhow, I don’t know what to make of young Lindsey. When I talked with him last he didn’t seem to know his own mind. But he’ll have to make it up one way or another before the next election. Richardson says he’s tired of playing warming-pan for him, and, of course, it’s out of the question that anyone but a Yarborough or his nominee should sit for this division. But Lindsey will be getting married before long, no doubt, and that will take the nonsense out of him. Say we’re bringing a friend, Eleanor.”

Norton Towers, the ancestral home of the Yarboroughs is a large and rambling structure in various styles of architecture, built originally in the Wars of the Roses, but added to and altered many times. It stands pleasantly and picturesquely on a rising stretch of knoll, Some eight miles distant from Caistorholm The noble family, whose principal seat it is, has for many generations been of paramount consideration and influence in Lincolnshire. The founder of the family is commonly supposed to have been a Venetian adventurer, one of the many merchant princes of the Adriatic’s queen, who, settling in London, became Lord Mayor under the second Richard. Then, in time, the family withdrew from commerce, acquired by prudent purchases and equally prudent marriages considerable estates in Lincolnshire, and became in time as racy of the soil as though not a trace of Italian blood intermingled with the blue blood their alliances had incorporated.

In the Civil War the heir of the house had a narrow escape of perishing on Cavendish Bog at the hand of Oliver himself, then a captain of Horse in the Parliamentary forces not yet known to fame, though marked by the observant. The Royalist soldier was borne from the field with Oliver’s bullet in his sword-arm, and that and the fever that supervened had like to have finished him, and gave him a distaste for further adventures of the kind. When the Commonwealth came the family compounded for past offences by a smart money-fine, and accepted with what grace they might the Roundhead régime. Cromwell bore no malice, perhaps remembering Cavendish Bog, and the Yarboroughs, though but sullenly acquiescent in the new order of things, and indifferent psalm-singers, kept themselves clear of the plots against the Protector’s life and rule.

When the glorious Restoration came the Lincolnshire lord was welcomed at Whitehall, perhaps because, having made few sacrifices for the Stuarts, Charles felt he owed the family nothing, and they wanted nothing from him. The Court of the second James smelt too much of incense for the stomach of the Earl, and he kept to his hunting and farming in the Fens, and had no difficulty in wearing the Orange favours when James fled the country. Since that time the Yarboroughs had been consistent Whigs, but they did not conceive that their Whiggery compelled them to quarrel with their neighbours. They had made no bones about Catholic emancipation, and, indeed, were on friendly terms with not a few of the Catholic families to be found in Lincolnshire. They had supported Jack Russell and his Reform Bill, had made a wry face over Household Suffrage, and now the Earl, who cared little for politics, but thought Lord Granville an ideal Foreign Secretary, was counted a friend of Mr. Gladstone, thinking that his dangerous political proclivities would be finally corrected by his admirable High Church principles.

But it was whispered in the county that the heir and hope of the family had returned from the Continent tainted with rank heresies of every kind. This was the Lord Lindsey, whom marriage was expected to sober.

“I don’t suppose we shall see the Earl,” said the Archdeacon, as the carriage rapidly traversed the distance between the Vicarage and the Towers. “He is a great invalid and seldom shows at the dinner table. Like the Speaker of the House he takes his homely chop when his guests are dining. I shall go to him in his room and smoke my cigar with him whilst you young folk are romping. Wright will, no doubt, be invited, and he’ll find you some partners.”

Edward had not much confidence in any help likely to be vouchsafed by the master of Thorsby Manor.

Some thirty guests gathered in the drawing room a few minutes before the clanging of the dinner-gong, and a sparkling, blue-eyed damsel of some twenty summers fell to Edward’s lot. He would have preferred to take down Miss St. Clair, but Miss Edith des Forges left him no leisure to indulge regrets.

“You’re staying at Caistorholme Vicarage, Eleanor St. Clair tells me. I stayed there three years ago, just after I left school. Eleanor and I were at school together. Mrs. St. Clair was alive then, poor dear. I flirted outrageously with the Archdeacon, and she wasn’t a bit jealous. It’s such fun flirting with a parson, don’t you know.”

“Can’t say, I’m sure. I’ll take your opinion, Miss des Forges. Are you an authority on flirting?”

“Well, pretty fair. I ought to be. Practice makes perfect. Don’t you think Eleanor simply beautiful? Don’t look at her. She is looking at us. I’m sure that stupid George Wright is boring her to death. But I suppose she’ll have to get used to it.”

“Ah! Why?”

“How long have you been at the Vicarage?”

“A fortnight.”

“And you don’t know why?”

“’Pon my word I don’t.”

“And you a lawyer! and Eleanor said you were so awfully clever. I quite quaked when the Countess sent me down with you. Are you very clever, Mr. Beaumont?”

“You must find out, Miss des Forges.”

“Do you know, I’ve never talked to a Solicitor before. I’ve wanted to meet a real live Solicitor this ever so long.”

“Question of marriage settlement, I suppose?”

“Nonsense. Anybody that takes me will have to take me just as I am without one stiver. Not much of a bargain, am I?”

“I should say cheap at any price.”

“That’s what Charlie says.”

“And who’s Charlie?”

“Ah! that’s why I wanted to meet a solicitor. Charlie’s my cousin and awfully nice. Just ask Eleanor.”

“I’ll be content with your opinion.”

“But perhaps you know him. He’s in the Temple, Paper Buildings. Isn’t it ridiculous? Paper Buildings! I’ve heard of men of straw.”

“There are a good many Charlies in Paper Buildings, Miss des Forges. I suppose your cousin is a barrister?”

“That’s just what he is—a what d’ye call it barrister, short, no, not short.”

“Briefless, perhaps?”

“How clever of you to guess it. Eleanor must be right. And he’s delightfully poor, and gives luncheon to us girls in his chambers when we go up to town, and takes us down the river. He’s awfully good; but he’s only had one brief, and then the wretched people went and settled out of Court, as Charlie calls it. I think it was a conspiracy. I’d settle ’em,” and Miss des Forgess glared vindictively across the table, to the great discomfiture of the curate of an adjoining village, who blushed distressedly.

“Quite possibly,” agreed Edward. “So your cousin’s one chance of distinction was taken from him. Never mind, he may have another brief some day.”

Miss des Forges shook her head dolefully.

“Charlie says not. He writes for the papers and magazines now and lives on air. Tell me, how do barristers get on—at first, you know. What gives them the start?”

“There are three ways never known to fail.”

“Oh! do tell one. How I wish Charlie were here!”

“Well, first, he can write a book, not a book likely to run through the fictional monthlies, you know, but a sound, solid, substantial book, say, on Estovers.”

“What’s Estovers? It sounds like something to eat. Charlie could manage that.”

“You’d better ask your cousin to tell you all about Estovers. It will help him to write the book.”

“And how long will that take?”

“Oh! not long. Say, ten or fifteen years for it to be written and get known.”

The sunshine faded from the bright face of Miss des Forges.

“As well say a lifetime,” she pouted. “And what’s another way—a short way, you understand, Mr. Beaumont?”

“Well, there’s huggery.”

“Heavens, what a name! Now, pray, Mr. Beaumont, what is huggery, It sounds like a crime of the Middle Ages.”

“Well, it has a smack of the Middle Ages. You’ve heard of ‘the rich attorney’s elderly ugly daughter’?”

Miss des Forges nodded.

“Well, that’s huggery.”

“Then that won’t do at all, sir, and you ought to know it.”

“Perhaps I do, Miss des Forges. But don’t be angry. There’s still another way.”

“Oh, yes! the third—and what is that?”

“A miracle!”

“Oh! you stupid. And Eleanor praised you ever so much.”

“Well, you haven’t told me your cousin’s name yet. There may be still another, but it isn’t recorded in the books.”

“And the heart of a certain young barrister in the Temple, sighing like hundreds of other young fellows for the chance so long a-coming, was made glad within a week from the dinner at the Temple by receipt of a ponderous parcel, bearing the Caistorholm postmark.”

“And may I post it with my own hands, Mr. Beaumont?”

“Come over to Caistorholm the day after tomorrow. The brief shall be ready then.”

And if the saucy lips of Miss des Forges were pressed just above the words, “With you, Mr. Dryasdust, Q.C.,” was ever brief better endorsed.

“I think you owe me a dance to-night, Miss des Forges.”

“A dozen, if you like. But Eleanor will want some. Oh! do just cut in and shake that stupid George Wright out of his self-centred serenity. Estovers was the word, wasn’t it? Write it me down on a slip of paper, and I’ll give you any dance you ask for in exchange for it.”

“You found a lot to talk about with Mr. Beaumont, Ethel,” said Miss St. Clair to the vivacious girl, as they awaited the gentlemen in the drawing-room. “He talks politics chiefly to me. But you wouldn’t look so radiant on politics. What was it all about?”

“Oh! huggery!” said Ethel, gaily, and Miss St. Clair wondered mightily.

Edward was standing later in the evening gazing on the pretty scene musingly. The large drawing-room was brilliantly lighted. The huge, candelabras, with their crystal pendants cunningly cut, broke and reflected the soft lights of tapers of purest wax. The mirrors, posed with art, reflected the shifting scene. There was the soft frou-frou of sweeping trains, the low hum of broken converse, the rippling music of maiden voices, and the dreamy strains of a Danubian waltz. Edward, though dancing sufficiently well, well enough, as he thought, for a man, was no votary of the graceful art; the party, happily, was a well-balanced one—there was no need for him to dance from mere complaisance. His mind carried him to a festive gathering he had recently attended in Yorkshire. The son of an acquaintance and client—a large manufacturer—had come of age and a treat was given to the millhands. After their own repast in the house the guests of the millowner had adjourned willingly enough to the vast weaving shed in which the “hands” held their revel. The bare, whitewashed walls had been hung with gay festoons and appropriate devices. The Linthwaite Brass Band, victor in historic contests, discoursed sweet music. The employees danced not ungracefully. Instead of languourous movement, swimming smoothly to a dying strain, there was the grigging romp of lusty lads and lasses. The couples in the quadrilles had no sort of notion of the challenge, the equivoque, the alluring and the feigned retreat the movements symbolise. But the music caught their feet, the unwonted excitement stirred their young blood, and their cheeks mantled and eyes glowed with the unrestrained and undisguised rapture of the fleeting hour. There was the rude and rustic humour of the looms, the lively sally, the broad retort, and the ringing laugh. Was it not as good in its way, mused Edward, as the veiled innuendo, the sneer in silky tones, the languid smile of an earl’s drawing-room—and was not that way a better way?

“Are you so soon tired of dancing—shall I find you a partner?” asked a voice at his elbow, as Edward started out of his reverie and came back from the weaving shed to the gilded saloon. He did not know the young man who had addressed him, a youth of medium height, with features none too classical, but with a smooth and lofty brow, dreamy eyes, a nascent moustache of brown down upon the upper lip. The complexion was pale to pallor, the small white hand that caressed the lips’ adorning was thin and delicate, the figure frail and almost effeminate.

“You don’t know me, Mr. Beaumont. I didn’t get the chance of an introduction before dinner. I took in Miss St. Clair—stunning creature, isn’t she?—and she told me all about you. If you aren’t dancing for a while let us slip off to my den and have a cigarette. I’m Lindsay, Lord Lindsay, you know.”

Then Beaumont knew he was speaking to the heir of the house.

“We must slip out quietly, or my mother ’ll collar us. Keep your eye on me, and hook it when we near the door. I’ll pilot you.”

The manœuver was executed.

“Take that chair; you can lose yourself in it. Try this smoke. Seltzer or soda. Mix your own liquor. Ain’t this a cozy little hole? This is my hermitage. What were you thinking of when I spoke to you? You looked miles away.”

“So I was. I was wondering, I think, whether I’d rather be a Lifeguardsman or a power-loom weaver, and contrasting that six feet two of quintessential boredom, Captain Bouverie, I think his name is, with a shuttle-thrower of my native valley.”

“Ah! yes. You’re Yorkshire, aren’t you? Any relation of Beaumont, of White Meadows? I met him once at Baden.”

“I can’t say I am and I can’t say I’m not. I’ve heard my mother say there’s some distant connection, but it is of the remotest. If we are of the same blood, it’s about run itself out by this time.”

“But you know Beaumont, of White Meadows. Plunges a lot at the tables, they say. Great friend of the Prince.”

“So I have heard. But I don’t know much about him. I’ve spoken once or twice on the same platform and probably shall again.”

“Beaumont’s a Liberal, isn’t he? Then you’re a Liberal, too. I’m glad of that. I’m to go into the House at the next Election. I suppose we’ll all have to talk extension of the suffrage to the counties?”

“That won’t be a very difficult matter in my district. I pity the poor devil of a candidate who has to address a lot of unenfranchised weavers and tell them they’re not fit to have the franchise enjoyed by their mates who work in the same shed, but happen to live the other side of an inky stream you could hop over, but that divides the county from the borough. It’s preposterous!”

“Of course it is. But how do your manufacturers like the idea?”

“Like it! Why shouldn’t they like it? If they don’t they’ll have to lump it, that’s all. It’s sure to come. If not from Gladstone then from Salisbury.”

“Do you know, Beaumont, I never saw a weaver in my life, not to talk to, that is. I should awfully like to.”

“Well, come up to Yorkshire. I’ll take you the round of the mills. But if you want to see the genuine article you must drop the Lord and come as plain Lindsay. They’ll think you’re home spun. We make lindseys our way.”

“Do you mean the hands would fawn? I shouldn’t like that.”

“No, they wouldn’t fawn. But you’d be seized on by the masters. They’d ‘my lord’ up hill and down dale. The ‘hands’ would try to equalise matters by being as unapproachable as they knew how, and that’s saying something I can tell you.”

“But I should like that.”

“I don’t think you would. But, anyway, you wouldn’t see them just as they are. To do that plain Lindsay’s the ticket.”

“Our farmers don’t take half kindly to enfranchising Hodge.”

“That’s because your farmer is only a step removed from Hodge. Intellectually, I should imagine there isn’t much difference between the farmer and the hind nor between the hind and his sheep.”

“Oh! come; we’re not so bad as that. Anyway, I tell you household suffrage for the counties is a bitter pill. Our clergy pull a sour face over it. It will take a lot of gilding to make it go down. I’m not sure I shall be returned, and I shall be the first Lindsay to be rejected since good old Noll’s days.”

“Oh! come to the West Riding and we’ll console you. We dearly love a lord.”

“Young Fitzwilliam didn’t find it so.”

“Ah! he was weighted by a banker.”

“But, seriously, do you think the people will be any better off when they get the vote?”

“That depends.”

“On how they use it? Not for revolution, I hope.”

“For reform, I hope. For revolution if they cannot get reform.”

“You don’t stick at tries.”

“No; three acres and a cow is my minimum, and that is to be only typical of inroads in other directions.”

“A leveller you?”

“No! a diffuser.”

“That’s a bitter word. I must throw that at the Archdeacon. He moans over my dangerous principles. He must rend himself over yours. How do you get on with him?”

“Oh! I change the subject when he winces.”

“See much of Wright these days?”


“I suppose it’s a settled thing between the Manor and the Vicarage. She is too good for him.”

“He hasn’t got her yet.”

Lord Lindsay stole a glance out of the corner of his eyes.

“Phew! sets the wind in that corner. Well, time’s up. That’s a waltz they’re starting and I’m booked.”

When Lord Lindsay and Beaumont reentered the drawing-room Edward sought Eleanor St. Clair to claim the dance she had promised him. He was received with gay rebuke.

“This is the way you fulfil your trust, Mr. Beaumont. Papa makes his bow to the Countess and sidles off incontinent to the sanctum of the Earl. I have no doubt he is at this moment smoking a cigar and discoursing learnedly on the virtues of the Earl’s very particular and precious Madeira to which my lord, they say, is indebted for his very particular and precious gout. It’s a mercy if the wine is so very particular and precious, or I should have papa prostrate with the gout, and from all accounts that would be as bad for me as for him. Deprived of my natural protector I rely, of course, on a certain cavalier from Yorkshire, and, lo! he, too, has vanished, spirited away by Lord Lindsay to his own secret cave, there to demolish institutions, or was it only reputations?”

“As I was being spirited away I caught a vision of a radiant being threading the mazes of the Lancers on the arm of a dashing son of Mars, and looking in need neither of protection nor consolation.”

“I am a woman and therefore can dissemble, Mr. Beaumont; but see, the sets are filling.”

“Do you really want to dance every dance? See how brightly the moon shines above the trees, and the air is still and warm without. Will you not show me the view from the Terrace. It must be lovely at this hour, stretched beneath the harvest moon.”

“Papa will miss me should he tear himself away from the Earl and the Madeira.”

“He will miss me, too, and know you are in safe keeping.”

“H’m, perhaps. Well, it is hot within.”

“Adjust my wrap, so. Now, your arm, and you shall see as sweet a vista as ever eyes gazed upon—the Axholme winding through the shorn fields with the moon upon its bosom.”

In silence, side by side, they drank into their souls the solemn beauty of the darkling scene. The music of the instruments floated through the casement and fell with mellowed cadence on their ears. An owl hooted from the ivy that clung about the ancient towers; the river beneath them coiled sinuously almost at the Castle base, and the full moon with harvest beam played upon the rich treasures of the ripened grain.

“We have nothing to equal this in my part of the country. ’Tis an idyll. It breathes the spirit of peace, the gospel of content. Sure everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.”

“That’s the first Christian sentiment I have ever heard you utter, sir.”

“Miss St. Clair,” said Edward very gravely, “I had a purpose in asking you to forego the dance and bear me company a while where I could say to you that of which my heart is full. And now I seek in vain for words to tell you what I would. Miss St. Clair, Eleanor, I have presumed to love you. How great is that presuming none can know so acutely as myself. But I love you. To-morrow I must return to Yorkshire and I could not go, my love untold. Perhaps I ought to have spoken first to the Archdeacon, to your father; but it is not so we woo in my class. I can offer you nothing but my love to make my suit more pleasing in your ears. Unless your own heart, fair Eleanor, should be my mediator, I must sue as one without hope. Say, Eleanor, that I do not speak too presumptuously, can I hope the love I offer you, the life I would dedicate to you are not spurned as worthless and unfit.”

“Not spurned, Mr. Beaumont—surely not spurned!” said Eleanor, in a voice so low, ’twas scarce a whisper.

“I will not win you, Eleanor, by false pretences. Though my profession is an honourable one, and my social position respectable, it does not equal yours. I number no Earls and no Countesses among my friends, and the great mansions do not receive me as a guest. But I am young, the world is all before me, and for your sweet sake I feel I could greatly dare and perhaps greatly do. Give me your glove, Eleanor, to wear in the fray and it shall not be soiled in the dust of the lists.”

“I do not fear, Mr. Beaumont, nay, let me say I do not tremble, Edward, lest you should lack courage and high endeavour. ’Tis for myself I tremble. I had looked to spend my life, if not by my father’s side, at least near him. I had schooled myself to anticipate without other yearnings the serene uneventful round of a village life. But you have touched my soul to fiercer longings, you have opened my eyes to a wider vision. I do not fear poverty, and there can be no meanness in the life that contents you. But it is all so strange, so unreal, you know me so little. You lure me to a nobler and a grander life, and I dread lest the past of my upbringing may fetter my limbs and keep my feet from those giddier heights you would tread.”

“If you can love me, Eleanor, as I love you, your soul will grow into my own. We shall have one heart, one hope, one life. Say, oh! Eleanor, can such bliss be mine!” He stole his arm round her waist, the proud head drooped upon his shoulder, and upon the lips that breathed “I love you true!” he pressed the kindling kiss.

It was only with a qualified satisfaction that Archdeacon St. Clair received Edward’s formal proposal for his daughter’s hand.

“I had other views for her, Beaumont, other views. And I have had them so long that they seem part of my life, part of the natural order of things. Everything was going just as I wished till—till you came. Eleanor would make an ideal chatelaine, and I had hoped to see her established almost at my Vicarage gates.”

“At Thoresby Manor in effect?”

“Well, yes. I’ve no doubt the Squire took the thing as settled.”

“It doesn’t do, Archdeacon, to take a woman’s hand for granted. I haven’t much experience of the sex, but I fancy a lady does not care to be regarded as to be had for the asking. A woman likes to be wooed before she is won.”

“Well, it seems you have both wooed and won. There’s one comfort, I shan’t have to explain all about those confounded Skerne Iron Works in which Eleanor’s fortune is invested. You’ll have to take it in shares instead of cash.”

“I want neither the shares nor the cash. I want Eleanor.”

“I don’t see it’s much use coming to me now. Eleanor’s her own mistress. Well, Beaumont, you know I like you. Of course, I think your opinions are horrid, but you’ll wear out of them, just as young men of poetical fancies wear out of long hair and Byron collars. But, frankly, and though it’s a nasty thing to say to a fellow in my own house, I aspired higher for my only daughter than a provincial attorney.”

Edward winced and flushed.

“A provincial attorney may rise to the Woolsack, Archdeacon St. Clair. He is not more remote from it than a curate from a mitre.”

“Now, you’re huffed, and I don’t wish you to be. You may thank your stars you haven’t Eleanor’s mother to deal with instead of me. You’d have heard a great deal about her grandfather, the Earl. I know I did.”

“Well, he’s dead and buried now, Archdeacon.”

“All the same, I am ambitious for my child. I should not like to think of her settling down to the somewhat vulgar mediocrity of your manufacturing middle-classes. And, what’s more, Beaumont, Eleanor won’t like it. Depend on it. She will not like your bejewelled dames sprung from the loom, with good hearts, maybe, and excellent principles, but lax notions about the letter H. She may not think so now. No doubt she’ll think that for life and eternity you will be all in all. But it won’t do. She’ll miss the kind of society she has been used to, and I don’t think she’s the sort of girl to find her compensation in the nursery and household idolatry. You must go into Parliament, Beaumont. With your ability you can count on a Junior Lordship, at least. That is, if you shred some of your impracticabilities and vote the party ticket, as I think they phrase it in America. And, of course, you’ll do that.”

“I have thought of Parliament, sir, but as a remote possibility. Something to crown my days, not to begin them on. But I should not run well in official harness.”

“Oh, we won’t insist on that. After all, an M.P.’s an M.P., if he’s but a Radical member. I don’t like that Labouchere, though he’s an amusing fellow, and of good family, too. Well, go into Parliament, and then come to me for my blessing.”

“And meanwhile, sir?”

“Meanwhile? meanwhile? Why, if Eleanor St. Clair has said she will have you, have you she will, and I don’t and won’t withhold my consent from your engagement. But I ask you not to press for an early marriage. Win your spurs, Edward, and then we’ll set the wedding bells ringing. You’re both young, and waiting will try you and do you good. Now, admit I’m reasonable.”

“I don’t say you’re not. So hey! for Westminster and my bride.”

“What did papa say to you, Edward?” asked Eleanor when he sought her to tell her the issue of the dreaded interview. “Wasn’t he awfully cross?”

“Not a bit of it. I can bring a ring for the prettiest hand in the world the next time I come down. But I’m to get into Parliament before I bring the plain gold loop.”

Eleanor’s eyes sparkled.

“Did papa really say that?”

Edward nodded.

“Oh! won’t that be glorious! And I can go up to town for the season. Shall we be so very poor, Edward? Shall we have to live in a garret when we go to London, and shall I have to sit in the Ladies’ Gallery in a print frock whilst you make your maiden speech in fustian.”

“Not so bad as that, Eleanor mine. But I’m not in yet. Can you wait; will you wait?”

“Wait, you know I will wait, sir. Besides, we shan’t have to wait long. You’re sure to be elected as soon as you try. I wish there was an election to-morrow. I’ll canvas for you, Edward!”

“And bribe the electors as the Duchess bribed for Fox?”

“Are Yorkshiremen very fond of kisses, sir?”

“What should you say?”

“Well, yes. Pretty fair. There, that will do. Oh! I am so happy. Edward Beaumont, M.P. You’ll be Sir Edward in no time and a Peer before your first twinge of the gout.”

“They don’t make Peers of men whose greatest worldly wealth is a beautiful wife. At least, they don’t now-a-days.”

“Of course, I’m joking, Edward. Isn’t papa thoughtful? I don’t suppose you’d have thought of it yourself.”

“I don’t suppose I should,” conceded Edward. “I thought only of you.”


Dulce est desipere in loco—a Latin tag that assures us we may on occasions pleasantly unbend. Edward Beaumont, as we have seen, was dreaming love’s young dream, than which we are all convinced there is nothing sweeter in this brief life of ours, and seeing visions of a glorious future rounded by the woolsack, and I know not what other suggestions of a lively imagination. Sam Storth, the partner whom he was fool enough to at the same time trust implicitly and regard with a sort of good-humoured contempt, was essaying the gentle art, desipere in loco, after a fashion of his own, in a word, combining business with pleasure. The Long Vacation, beloved of lawyers of ample means, bemoaned by those members of the junior bar to whom briefs—briefs lightly “marked” at that—are as angels’ visits, few and far between, was now dragging its weary course—and Mr. Storth had time enough and to spare on his hands. He would have liked to don that much-prized shooting-jacket and those knickerbockers that so fittingly displayed a calf whose proportions Sam surveyed with a proper pride, and to which he rightly conceived the costume of the courts failed to do adequate justice. But here was he doomed to the treadmill, whilst his partner dangled at the petticoats of an Archdeacon’s daughter, and had the confounded impudence to stretch his legs under an earl’s mahogany.

“There’s Beaumont,” the irate junior partner thus unburthened himself, “doing the la-di-da in baronial halls, whilst I’m expected to moil and toil trying to find work for a set of idle clerks in the deadest season of the legal year. How Beaumont, with the principles he professes can cheek to make himself so very much at home, as I’m sure from his letters he has done, in gremio ecclesiae, in the very bosom of the Church, or, what is more scandalous still, of the Church’s daughter, passes my comprehension. But I suppose Beaumont’s not such a fool as a fellow’d take him to be by his talk. These Radicals are all alike. They rail against aristocrats, but give me a Radical for kow-towing to a duke; they gibe at the Church as by law established, but trust ’em to be uncommon deferential to a bishop; they declaim against pensions and annuities, but wouldn’t they just like a soft job themselves. Oh, no, I don’t think. There’s Beaumont, whose grandfather, I verily believe, used to wear clogs and a blue smock, and take his twopenny-ha’penny pieces to market on a donkey’s back, quaffing the vintages of Burgundy in the baronial halls aforesaid, whilst I, forsooth, whose father was a——”

“Was a what?” queried the fair damsel to whom Master Sam had opened the floodgates of his eloquence.

“Well, he wasn’t a damned poverty-knocker anyway,” said Charles hurriedly; “whilst I, as I was saying, must content myself with a tankard of bitter in a——”

“In a what, sir?” asked the lady, tartly.

“In a place that I much refer to baronial halls,” quoth Sam gallantly.

The place so honoured was the snug of the Royal Albert in Huddersfield, and the lady to whom Mr. Storth was confiding his grievances was Miss Amelia Wrigley, the very comely daughter of the landlord of that old-established hostelry, a lady not only well-dowered by Nature with a good figure, a pleasing face, and a sprightly wit, but reputed to be likely in the years to come to be well-dowered by the worthy but gouty sire, whose ales and liquors Mr. Storth so vastly appreciated.

Now, Miss Amelia Wrigley was not only of a good figure, a pleasing face, and a sprightly wit, and with those promising prospects that are a mighty agreeable adjunct to personal charms; she was also fully aware of her own value. She knew to the decimal of an inch how far it was prudent to permit the thirsty youths who frequented the Royal Albert Hotel to go in their amorous advances. Of course, she must not be too frigid, and there were occasions when it was politic to be diplomatically hard of hearing. The ingenious Hebe who ministers to the pleasures of manufacturers, flushed by the frequent “friendly glasses” inseparable from the conduct of business on market-day, must affect not to hear many an innuendo that crapulous youth seems to think he may safely utter in the presence of a barmaid, though he would soundly trounce the fellow who should utter the like in the hearing of his sister in the domestic drawing-room. Poor Hebe’s face may glow with outraged modesty, her eyes may flash her indignation and resentment, but business requires that she should smile and smirk and say smooth things. Miss Amelia Wrigley was declared by many a young buck of Huddersfield to be “too stand-offish” for his taste, which required that a girl should be able “to give a joke and take a joke, don’t you know”; though the kind of joke required by this predilection to be given and taken was not defined with that precision beloved of the mathematician. But it may be put down to Mr. Sam Storth’s credit that this stand-offishness of the fair Amelia was very far from diminishing that lady’s attractiveness in his eyes.

“I like a larky girl as well as any man,” he confided to his partner, “and when I’m in for fun I don’t want to have to do with a condemned iceberg; but fun’s one thing and matrimony’s another and don’t you forget it. And when I place a lady at the head of my mahogany, I don’t want to think that every doddering idiot in Huddersfield that can sport a flash ring and chain has blown a cloud of cigarette smoke in her face and drawled out ‘Another special, Millie, my angel, and a smile with it.’ You don’t ‘Millie’ Amelia Wrigley, I can tell you.”

From which profound observation it may be inferred that in the conversation of which we have heard but a part, and of which, by your leave, good reader, we will take the liberty to hear more, Mr. Sam Storth could not boast of that self-assurance and complacency that usually marked his intercourse with the ladies he honoured with his acquaintance. In some mysterious way the talk had drifted, as talk between a young man and maid will drift, to the perilous subject of liking, of love, of the choice of a lover and so forth.

“I used to think I wasn’t a marrying man, Miss Amelia—I may call you that mayn’t I?—Miss Wrigley’s so formal, so cold, between friends, don’t you think?—not a marrying man by a long chalk. Seen so much billing and cooing in my time, and then a chain that can’t very well be broken with a cat at one end of it and a dog at the other. I always draw the line at that particular service in the Prayer Book that so appropriately begins with “dearly beloved” and ends with “amazement! But”—with a sigh that was intended to be sentimental, and a glance that was unmistakeably amorous—“but a man never knows his fate. How true it is that man proposes but God disposes.”

“Then man shouldn’t propose,” suggested the lady.

“Oh, do be serious, Miss Amelia, or may say I Amelia?”

“Certainly you may not say Amelia, Storth, at least not to me. Why should you?”

“Because, because oh! hang it Amelia, I mean Miss Amelia, you make it confounded difficult for a fellow. Jove! Isn’t it hot?”—and Mr. Storth mopped his troubled and moist brow with a vast bandana. “I think, if you don’t mind, I’ll have another pint of bitter, with a top on.”

Miss Wrigley rose, and, moving with stately ease to the pumps, drew a large tankard of the foaming beverage.

“I never knew such a man as you for beer, Mr. Storth.”

“Safer than whisky, my dear. I mean Miss Amelia; but I was saying——”

“Yes; you were saying.”

“Well, lately, ever since I came to know you in fact, I’ve been thinking of settling down. I’m not a sentimental young fool, as you know. This isn’t calf love, in fact, I never had any such tommyrot to bother me as calf-love. It’s the genuine article, warranted 18 carat and entered A1 at Lloyd’s. I’ve met my fate at last. A lady, young, and yet not too young; I do hate your simpering schoolgirl-misses, just out of short frocks, and long what-do-you-call-’ems, with the crochet frills on; tall, a good figure, handsome, of good intelligence and education and manners—by Jove, the manners of a duchess.”

“Oh! so you’ve met such a lady at last, have you, Mr. Storth, and deigned to approve of her figure, face, mind, and manners, and all.”

“Why, you know I have, Amelia. Ain’t I telling you so?”

“Meaning me, I suppose?” queried the lady, with much composure.

“Why, of course I mean you. You don’t think I’m such a confounded ass as to sit here half the afternoon talking about another girl. I may be ten or twenty different kinds of fool, but I’m not such a fool as all that comes to. Of course I mean you.”

“I’m sure I’m vastly obliged to you,” commented the lady. “You’ve assured me, somewhat obliquely, to be sure, that I’ve a fine figure, a passable face, an intelligent mind, and the manners of a duchess, I think you were so flattering as to observe; and you’ve also assured me, also somewhat obliquely, but ’twill pass, that I’m your fate. You’ve said nothing, by the way, about my heart, Mr. Storth, nor, now I come to think of it, unless very, very obliquely, about your own.”

“Oh! that’s of course,” declared Sam, with considerable vigour.

“Exactly, that’s, as you say, of course. So I’ve a good figure, a fair face, an intelligent mind, the manners of a duchess. I never met a duchess, but I presume the comparison is meant as complimentary; all these, and, to boot, a heart that’s, as you say, of course. Now, pray, Mr. Storth, what do you offer in exchange for all this?”

“What do I offer? I? Why, surely you can’t misunderstand me, you cannot fail to know that all this time I’ve been offering MYSELF!”

“I see ‘myself,’ in large capitals, I suppose.” Sam Storth looked, as he doubtless felt, somewhat nonplussed by this reception of what he assured himself was an uncommonly handsome offer.

“Yourself!” continued the object of his well-regulated affections; “h’m, yourself. That’s so comprehensive as to be a trifling vague. You were good enough to enter into detailed particulars, quite a bill of quantities, or particular invoice of what should be included in the self, the other self besides yourself, on which you would deign to lavish the treasures of your heart. Cannot you be a little more precise as to what is included in YOURSELF? What’s to be the quid pro quo for my good figure, my fair face, my excellent understanding and my manners of a duchess? Is it to be par example your good figure?”

Now, it has been said that Mr. Storth, however excellent a lawyer, was no Adonis.

He winced and sate silent.

Your fair face?”

Again Mr. Storth winced and found no words.

Your excellent understanding? Your manners? I suppose they should be ducal to match mine?”

“Oh, hang it all, Miss Wrigley! I think you’re piling it on a bit too thick. I don’t set up for a beauty, though I’ve had my successes,” Sam added, in parenthesis.

“So I understand. In the coulisses of the music-hall.”

“And I don’t set up for a saint. But that’s all over now. But you’ve beauty and goodness enough for the pair of us, and if I’m neither an Adonis nor a saint I’m not generally looked upon as a fool. I’m a gentleman by profession, I’ve a good business, and I’m making enough to keep a wife, and if that isn’t good enough, why, I can’t help it, and there’s an end on’t.”

“Ah! now you’re talking sense. You’re making, you say, a good income. But as what? As the junior partner of Mr. Edward Beaumont; the man who does the leavings of his work, takes the cases he doesn’t think important enough to attend to himself, and does the drudgery he thinks beneath his high and mightiness.”

“Oh, damn Edward Beaumont!” broke in Storth, hotly.

“With all the pleasure in life,” pursued the lady serenely, “though perhaps it isn’t quite in harmony with ducal manners to say so in the presence of a lady. But that’s the position you offer me—the wife of a junior partner, whose senior is, I understand, the guest of an Archdeacon, and is, you imagine, basking in the smiles of the Archdeacon’s daughter. I suppose I should be expected to take up the role of a junior partner’s wife, to receive an occasional invitation to dinner when no one else in particular was invited, to be on visiting terms with the managing clerk and his lady, and to be humbly thankful when my partner’s wife acknowledged me in New Street. No thank you, Mr. Storth, it isn’t good enough.”

“Is that your final word?” asked Storth, savagely.

“No, it isn’t, and you needn’t glare at me like that. I’m not in the witness box, and, if I were, I shouldn’t be afraid of you. It isn’t my final word. If you want me you must win me.”

“How?” interjected Sam, eagerly.

“Only show me how.”

“Cease to be a junior partner, and if, in doing so, you humble your Mr. Edward Beaumont to the dust, I shall be none the less pleased on that account. Make a position that is your own. I know you’ve brains. Perhaps not of the highest order, but still good enough for the work you have to do. Use them to lift you up from the shadow by which you are now obscured, the shadow of another man’s personality. And then come to me. And, meanwhile, don’t forget what I said about your precious Mr. Edward Beaumont.”

“Then it’s a promise, Amelia?” asked Storth eagerly, his face lit up with the joy of triumph.”

“It’s what I think you lawyers would call a conditional promise. You keep your part of the bargain, Sam, and I’ll keep mine. There, that’ll do. I’m not fond of those demonstrations, and I don’t like the smell of beer. You’ll have to take to claret—some day.”

“And that day isn’t far off, you bet, Amelia. I’m not too fond of Mr. Edward Beaumont, as you call him, myself; and I’ll be no more sorry than yourself to see my lord taught a lesson he badly needs. Well what is it, Ainley?”—this to one of the clerks of his firm who was heard inquiring if Mr. Storth was about.

“Mr. Schofield would like to see you, sir.”

“Pat as the heft to the blade,” exclaimed Storth. “I’ll tell you some day what I mean,” he added, as he hastily drained his pewter, wiped his lips and nodded his adieus to Miss Wrigley.

Mr. William Schofield, the client whom Mr. Storth found nervously awaiting him, was a man of some sixty years of age, of middle stature, with hard, one might say, harsh features, his face clean shaven save for a ragged, grizzled fringe of hair that ran down the sides of the cheeks and under the chin, leaving unadorned the close lips, and exposed the few yellow front teeth advancing years had left; eyes bright, keen and greedy. Mr. Schofield had been, as he would have told you with pride, a hard worker all his life. He had known the hardships in his youth of the unreformed, uncoerced Factory System. As a boy, not yet in his teens, he had been a “billy piecener,” walking miles to the mill in all sorts of weather, in winter time long before sunrise, he had worked his fourteen and fifteen hours a day for a beggarly wage of a few shillings weekly, subsisting for the most part on water porridge, which he often had to eat cold. What education he had he had picked up in the Sunday School attached to the Golcar Baptist Chapel. There he had learned to read, to write, and to “sum,” so that by the aid of a ready-reckoner he could make out an invoice.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his early disadvantages he had prospered. He had by the time he was forty years old become a small lindsey manufacturer. He worked hard six days a week, and he could scarce be said to rest on the seventh, for he was a deacon of the chapel in whose Sunday school he had learned the rudiments. He had worked hard and he had lived hard, denying himself almost necessary food and fuel and clothing, “clamming,” so it was said by the envious, himself and his wife, that he might put more and more of his earnings into his business. He had no pleasures, unless the hearing of the non-elect vigorously damned every Sunday by a Predestinarian preacher be a pleasure, and excepting always that: great and all-sufficing joy of adding shilling by shilling to his store. He had no children, and when he reflected that unless he left his money to the chapel it should in the natural course go to a spendthrift nephew he often consoled himself by the thought that the nephew could not have more pleasure in dissipating his patrimony than the uncle had in hoarding it. He cared neither for literature nor arts. He never read anything but the Bible, the Baptist Magazine, and the Leeds Mercury. He called himself a Liberal, but his Liberalism was not based so much on a desire for the betterment of the condition of the many as upon resentment of the privileges of the few. And Edward Beaumont was his solicitor, as Edward Beaumont’s father before him had been.

“Howd’ye do, Mr. Schofield? Fine day, isn’t it? Glad to see you looking so fit, ’pon my word you look younger every time you give us a call.” It was one of Mr. Sam Storth’s most cherished maxims that politeness—to the people to whom it is worth while to be polite—costs nothing.

“Well, I’m nobbut so-so, Mr. Storth, nobbut so-so, a plaguy lot o’ rheumatiz these days, but aw reckon aw mun expect to feel th’ years creepin ower me, tho aw’m nobbut a lad yet in a manner o’ speakin’, that is, wheer some come; but it wer’ Mr. Beaumont aw wer’ wantin’ to see. Aw reckon yo’n know nowt abaat that bit o’ brass o’ mine, if yo can call a matter o’ three thousand paand a bit o’ brass at Edward’s father ligged aat at interest for me. I’d better wait and see hissen.”

“But Mr. Beaumont’s away, down in Lincolnshire, and I can’t quite say when he’ll be back. Perhaps you can tell me what it is you want to know and I may be able to give you the information you require. Let me see, you’re the mortgagee of Midgley’s mill, aren’t you?”

“Aye, that’s me. Yo’ see, it’s abaat ten yer sin’ aw, put th’ brass aat. It were i’ Edward’s father’s time an’ he made th’ writins for me. It wer’ a seet o’ eggs to put i’ one basket—three thaasand paand, awmost th’ savin’s o’ my lifetime—but Midgley were doin’ well then an’ th’ rate o’ interest, five per cent., were temptin’. But aw’d never ony bother abaat th’ interest till just abaat th’ time th’ owd man, tho’ he woren’t so owd to be sure, Edward’s father aw mean, took an’, died, and Edward stepped into his shoin. That were afore yo’ came to th’ office, so happen yo’ won’t know th’ ins an’ th’ outs on it. Then owd Midgley went dahn th’ slot, banked tha’ knows. Awst nivver forget that market-day, when th’ news came to th’ market. Aw’ were eitin’ a fourpenny plate o’ meat pie at Morton’s, when somebody axed me if aw’d heerd owd Tommy Midgley had done a bank. It welly choked me, an’ aw’d to struggle hard to finish th’ pie, but aw couldn’t fashion to put it i’ mi pocket-hanker. Aw come up straight to see Mr. Edward, an’ he made nowt but fun o’ me. He axed me if aw’d forgotten th’ mortgage. As aw’m a miserable sinner it had clean slipped my mind. He tried to sell th’ mill under th’ mortgage, but th’ highest bid wouldn’t have paid me off. Trade were very bad just then, an’ folk failin’ reet an’ left. Midgley’s mill were just a white elephant. But Mr. Edward came out like a gentleman an’ he said as how his father had advised th’ loan he’d take th’ responsibility on his showders till things mended. An’ aw’ve had my cheque reg’lar ivery half-year ever sin for th’ interest less th’ income-tax.”

“Ah! I see,” said Storth; “this is all new to me. You see this was, as you say, before I came into the office, and it appears to have been a private arrangement between you and Mr. Beaumont. A merely verbal arrangement, I understand. You’ve only Mr. Beaumont’s word.”

“That’s all. It’s good enough, isn’t it?”

“Oh, quite so. But we’re all mortal, you know, and I like black and white myself in business. Who’s running the mill now?”

“Aw couldn’t reetly say for sure. But aw yer it’s let off, or part on it is, shoose ha’, i’ room an’ power. Aw nivver bothered my yed abaat it, as long as th’ interest cam’ to hand. But it’s a week o’er due, an’ aw’ve been expectin’ it by ivery post, so aw thowt aw’d better call in an’ see abaat it. Yo’ won’t charge me owt for that, will yo’?” he asked, as a sudden fear seized him.

“No, no, by no means—mortgagor’s costs. Make your mind easy. I’ve no doubt it will be all right when Mr. Beaumont returns. Still…,” and Mr. Storth fingered the seal on his watch-chain, and puckered his brow and pursed his lips and slowly shook his head.

“Still, what?” asked Mr. Schofield, sharply. “There’s nowt wrong, is there?”

“Wrong? No, no, of course not, at least…. well, well. No writing, you say, only Mr. Beaumont’s word; and, of course, Mr. Beaumont’s the soul of honour. You know what the poet says: “So are we all, all honourable men.” Still, three thousand pounds is a tidy bit.”

“Yo’d ’ave thowt so if yo’d had to addle it an’ nip an’ scrat for it same as I had.”

“A very tidy bit. You have the deeds, of course?”

“They’re at the bank.”

“You’ve overdrawn on them, I suppose.”

“Then you suppose wrang, young man, aw dunnot lend money at five per cent. to borrow brass fra’ the bank at six. That’s noan th’ way we mak’ money i’ Golcar. Th’ writin’s are nobbut theer for safety. Aw can fot ’em aat ony day aw like. What are yo’ axin’ for, if aw may mak’ so bowd?”

“I’m not only asking, Mr. Schofield, I’m thinking. You read the local papers, of course?”

“Aw see th’ Weekly Examiner ivery week. Me an’ a neighbour join at it. What for?”

“Well, of course, you’ve read any time this last few weeks that there’s great unrest in the industrial world. There was the strike at Martin’s, of Lindley, not so long ago; there’s just been trouble at Taylor and Littlewood’s, at Newsome, and I know for a fact that the textile workers have formed a very strong and formidable union that embraces not only Huddersfield, but the valleys of the Colne and the Holme. In fact, Mr. Beaumont was fool enough to draw up the rules of the union and make no charge.”

“That’s more nor he’d do for me, aw rekon. What sud he do that for?”

“Oh, you know, he’s all for the rights of labour.”

“Rights o’ fiddlesticks. What’s a man want more nor plenty o’ wark an’ overtime? But what’s all this to do wi’ my brass?”

“Not much, perhaps. Only, you see, I don’t think, from what I saw of that exceedingly amiable gentleman, Albert Clough, the weavers’ secretary, when he came to consult Beaumont about the draft of the new rules—a cut-throat lace, if I ever saw one—that this new union’s going to be idle very long.”

“Well, what’s that to me?”

“Nothing—perhaps; perhaps a great deal; perhaps a matter of that tidy little bit of a three thousand pounds of yours.”

Mr. Schofield’s face sicklied over with the pale cast of a mortal fear. His hands became cold and clammy, his heart sank within him.

“Good God! how can that be? Isn’t there th’ writin’s?”

“Oh, don’t alarm yourself unnecessarily, Mr. Schofield. It may be all right. The late Mr. Beaumont was a very cautious man, I’ve always understood. Still, as you say, there wasn’t a very spirited bidding when the mill was put up before, and if there should be a general strike, or what comes to much the same thing in the long run, a general lockout, mill property will be a drug on the market.”

“Still, aw’ve Mr. Beaumont’s word.”

Mr. Storth shrugged his shoulders.

“Exactly. Well, Mr. Beaumont’s away. Lord only knows when he’ll be back. It’s the Long Vacation, you know. Meanwhile, tho’ it’s very irregular, I’ll let you have my own cheque, on my private account, for the interest. Doubtless Beaumont will see me all right. All the same, I’m glad my little bit isn’t out on mill property and I’ll take precious good care it never is. Of course, it was all right to have your money out in a good round sum when you were up to your eyes in business, and hadn’t time to look after things. But if I were a man of your years, with a fair amount of leisure and settled in my native village, do you know the kind of investment I should fancy?”

“Let’s be knowing, sir, if yo’ don’t mind.”

“I’d lend a hundred here and a hundred there on good cottage property—property that I could walk past every day of my life. I should have the satisfaction of knowing I’d helped some hard-working man to become the owner of his own dwelling.”

“Wi’ me on th’ top of it.”

“Exactly, with you on the top of it, as a sort of ballast; and if you like to devote your retired leisure to serving your native village on the Local Board, or on the Board of Guardians, why you could serve your own interests at the same time by keeping the rates down . . . .”

“Them poor rates is a scandal,” interposed Mr. Schofield with conviction.

“Keeping the rates down and consequently the value of property up; and with three thousand pounds out in small sums take it you’ve thirty voters at least you can rely on any time you like to put up for office.”

“Aw winnot say but aw had thowt o’ th’ Local Board, an’ happen’ th’ Guardians. But nob’dy’s axed me to stand.”

Mr. Storth smiled indulgently.

“Oh, that’s easily managed when the time comes. Let me see, what’s the formula? ‘Yielding to the urgent solicitations of a large and influential body of my fellow townsmen I have consented to allow myself to be nominated as a candidate for your suffrages at the forthcoming election. If elected, etc.’ But we’re jumping a little before we get to the stile, eh? You haven’t got these thirty nice snug mortgages yet, have you?”

“No; but aw sooin can have. Just yo’ call in that brass i’ double quick time.”

“No need to be precipitate. I’ll speak to Mr. Beaumont about it when he returns. All the same, there’s no need to let the grass grow under your feet. If you’ll make yourself comfortable with a newspaper in the waiting-room for half-an-hour, I’ll draw up the formal notice of withdrawal of the money—we shall have sufficient particulars in the Deed Book, I’ve no doubt, and you can sign it, leaving the date open; and if Mr. Beaumont concurs in my view, the notice can go without troubling you again.”

But a few days after the consultation, at which we have been privileged to assist, Edward Beaumont returned to Yorkshire and the duties there awaiting him.

“Morning, Sam,” he exclaimed, as he grasped his partner’s chubby hand. “I’m a bit overdue, I fear. The fact is, I didn’t come straight on from Lincolnshire. I had to take a run up to town.”

“Did you go to see Russell about those Iron Works, those blasted Blasting Works, as I’ve been tempted to call them. It’ll end in Chancery, I suppose.”

“Not if I can help it; and I didn’t go to town to see Russell.” Now, Mr. Russell, of Bedford Row, was the London agent of the firm of Beaumont, Son, and Storth. “You’ll never guess whom I went to see, and why. The fact is, I put in a good bit of time at the Reform Club.”

“Well, I don’t doubt they do you very well at the Reform Club. Never been beyond its august portals myself, but on general principles I should argue a cordon bleu for a chef and a cellar second only to an Emperor’s. Your true reformer who recommends vegetarianism and total abstinence, high thinking and low feeding to the general, takes uncommon good care to have the best of everything for himself.”

“Well, I only sampled a cigar and a whiskey and soda. Leatham took me to interview the Junior Whip.”

Now Mr. Leatham was the Liberal member for Huddersfield.

“And what the deuce did you want with the Liberal Whip, if I may make so free?”

“Why, what the deuce, to borrow your phrase, do people want with Liberal Whips?”

“Can’t say. No use for ’em myself, and I should have thought you hadn’t. But I can make a shrewd guess what the Junior Liberal Whip wanted with Mr. Edward Beaumont, and that’s a subscription to the party fund. Well, go ahead with your tale.”

“Well, it seems I was just the sort of man the party’s looking for. There’s to be a vacancy soon in one of the West Staffordshire Divisions—Staveley Hill’s the sitting member, a blue of the blues, you know—and the party our party, want a man well up on the Land Question to fight the seat. Now, I do rather fancy myself on the Land Question.”

“I don’t think you know a turnip from a mangel wurzel, if that’s what you call being well up on the Land Question.”

“Don’t be a fool, Sam. You know that’s nothing to do with the question. And the long and short of it is I’ve promised to step into the breach, and uncommon glad of the chance, too. Why, man, it’s an honour to be permitted to carry the banner of Land Reform right up to the entrenchments of feudalism.”

“Oh, you can keep that sort of talk for the free and independent. Have you counted the cost? There hasn’t been a Liberal member for a county constituency in the whole length and breadth of Staffordshire since the days of Simon de Montfort, I imagine. The Southern Division’s an awfully scattered one and almost purely agricultural.”

“There’s the mining district right in the heart of it,” broke in Beaumont.

“True; and the miners haven’t a vote. They’ll crowd round your meetings, and carry you shoulder high, shout themselves harse, and wring the hands off you in their grimy fists, and sing ‘See the conquering hero comes’ till you feel you can’t fail to head the poll. And when the polling day comes, where are they? No more use than a row of skittles. And while they’re roaring, your quiet comfortable farmer draws up in his gig from his quiet comfortable farm, has a quiet and comfortable glass at his favourite hostelry, and then quietly and comfortably pills you in the polling-booth. Do you think the farmer is such an insensate ass as to fall out with the vicar and the squire and his relations, just to oblige Mr. Edward Beaumont, charm he never so wisely?”

“Well, commend me to you for a Job’s comforter, Sam. It will be a hard fight, I know, but, as the Whip put it, it will give me a chance to show the stuff I’m made of, to win my spurs; and what can a man want more? Anyway, I’ve passed my word, and I’m off to Wolverhampton in next to no time to meet the election agent and arrange for a series of meetings all over the Division. And I want you to cut off for your holidays and come back as fit as a fiddle, for I expect during the next few months you’ll have to do more than your share of the office work.”

“Well, ‘who will to Cupar, maun to Cupar.’ Whom God wants to ruin, He first turns mad; and if ever a man was qualifying for a lunatic asylum, that man’s yourself, Beaumont. Don’t say I haven’t warned you. You’ll think of what I say someday or my name’s not Sam Storth. You’ll spend a lot of money.”…

“I don’t care if it costs every penny I have in the world.”

“You needn’t care. It will cost every penny you have in the world, and more to boot, unless you’ve stumbled across a gold mine in the fens.”

“Better than a gold mine, my boy. The grandest, divinest creature——”

“Exactly. I guessed there was a woman at the bottom of it. But for electioneering purposes give me the gold mine. Well, just run through these papers with me and then I’m off. My name’s Walker, and my address the Highlands for the next six weeks.”

At the door Storth turned, as if on an afterthought.

“Oh, by-the-bye, Beaumont, I had a man here the other day, a William Schofield, of Golcar. He’d got some maggot in his head about a mortgage, and was in mortal terror about some overdue interest. He told me the amount and I gave him my cheque for it. I suppose it was all right?”

“Quite right. If you’ll wait a moment I’ll write you a cheque for the money. It’s a private account, you know. I’d forgotten the interest was due. How quickly half-years slip away when you’ve money to pay at the end of them. I think I’ve had more bother about that loan of Schofield’s than all the rest of the business put together.”

“Ah! I didn’t quite get the hang of the matter from the old gentleman. But I sized him up to be just the sort to talk enough about his interest, if he didn’t get it, to shake the credit of the Bank of England, so I just, as I say, calmed him down with a piece of stamped paper with my name in the corner.”

“Well, I’d better tell you all about it. It seems he lent three thousand pounds to Midgley, of Almondbury, on the security of Plover Mill, and some adjacent cottages, in the mill-yard, I expect. That was in my father’s time; and the strange thing about it is I’ve never been able to find any valuer’s certificate as to the value of the property at the time of the loan, though from what I know of my father’s way of doing business I’m as certain there was one as I am that the sun’s in the heavens. To make matters worse, soon after my father’s death, poor old Midgley went smash and the mill has never been wholly occupied since, and the rents from the cottages hardly pay a clerk’s wages for collecting. However, I told Schofield I’d pay the interest myself, and so I must, I fear, for the sake of the dear old dad’s memory. It’s a bit of a pull though.”

“But what about the principal? Three thousand pounds isn’t exactly a flea-bite, and it would about kill Schofield to lose it.”

“I suppose I’ll have to take it on my own shoulders. I’ve always put off taking over the property, subject to the mortgage, though Midgley’s trustee is willing enough to transfer the equity to me. I hoped to get a good tenant, but things seem to go from bad to worse out Almondbury way. Still, the thing’s got to be done. They can’t go on in this slip-shod way. Just attend to the matter, Sam, when you come back. Put it on a business footing. I’ll take over the whole thing, lock, stock, and barrel, with Schofield’s mortgage on the top of it.”

“All right; I’ll see to it between now and next interest-day No hurry. I think you’re rather a fool though.”

“Well, you see, it wasn’t your father, Sam. If only that confounded valuer’s certificate would turn up; but that’s past praying for, I fear, and I don’t know who the valuer was and, what’s more, when I tried to find out, some time ago, by inquiring among the auctioneers and estate agents, nary a one of them had any recollection of making a valuation.”

“All right, Beaumont, I’ll put things to ship-shape. Well, I shan’t see you again before I start, so ta-ta. Hope biz. will brighten up before I come back. It’s been as dull as ditch-water this month back.”

Mr. Storth returned to his own room and began to set to rights, as he styled it, the heterogeneous mass of papers that accumulate about a busy lawyer’s desk and pigeon-holes and drawers. He was routing out the contents of a deep recess, lettered XYZ, a receptacle apparently for odds and ends of documents that could find no other home, reading the endorsements, tearing up some, transferring others to their appropriate resting-place, when he chanced upon a document bearing no endorsement—an omission not a little irritating to the methodic mind.

“If I knew the clerk who’s responsible for this I’d give him a piece of my mind,” muttered Mr. Storth, vindictively, as he opened the folded paper and set about ascertaining its nature, with a view to duly marking its date and character upon its back. He read a few lines and then whistled softly.

“Well, I’m jiggered! The missing certificate! ‘Can recommend an advance of £3,000 (three thousand) to £3,500 (three thousand five hundred pounds).’ Now, what shall I do with this precious bit of paper? What a load the finding of this will take off Beaumont’s mind! I’ve a good mind to pop it in the fire. I know a young lady who would say that’s what I ought to do. Shall I? No; hanged if I play it as low as that, not even to pleasure Miss Amelia Wrigley.”

Mr. Storth was so absorbed in his own reflections that he did not hear a gentle tap at his room door, did not hear the door open, did not hear the deprecating cough by which the clerk who entered sought to attract his attention, and only when the clerk stood by his side, and had cast a quick glance at the document that engrossed his thoughts did he turn swiftly round in his chair.

“That you, Barnes. What the deuce do you mean stealing into my room like a confounded ghost? What do you want any way?” And Mr. Storth huddled up the papers he had taken from the pigeon-hole XYZ, the long lost, anxiously-searched certificate among them and thrust them into that receptacle.

And though, later, Mr. Storth searched high and low for the document, he found it not. It had again vanished.

And so had Mr. Barnes.


If any man prides himself on being the master and controller of his own destiny, if he plumes himself on his own achievements, saying in his heart: “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth,” or this title, or this what you will, let him chasten his self-esteem by reviewing his own career, and observing how, not once nor twice but many times, it hath been over-ruled, shaped, fashioned, deflected, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill, by happenings in which he has had neither part nor parcel, in which it seemed little likely he would and could have no concern, yet which for him and all his future were as big with fate as if they had been specially designed by Providence for no other purpose than to humble or exalt him, to make or to mar him. Thus, whilst at this period we may safely conceive of Edward Beaumont as reflecting with some complacency on the enjoyment of a lucrative practice, anticipating the delights of a keen contest for a seat in Parliament, with visions belike of at least a junior lordship, and sweet imaginings of bridal veils and orange wreaths; it is none the less true that the doings of some half-dozen not over cultured millhands, whose very names were unknown to him, were fated to leave on his life a mark eternity itself would perchance not suffice to efface.

It is a wild night, and the wild and blustering month of March, 1883, and the New Street of Huddersfield is swept by a gale that comes tearing, roaring, wuthering down the Come Valley right from Standedge top; a wind laden with pelting rain that dashes into your face, blinds your eyes, and makes as though to rend the very garments from your back, whirl them sky high, and sport with them among the scurrying, glowering clouds. It is a night on which, to quote the quaint equivoque, it is good to have no home to go to, to be instead snugly seated in your own ingle-nook, by a roaring fire, with slippered feet on a thick, list rug, a pipe in your mouth, a book in your hand, the dog at your feet blinking his honest eyes at you, the cat purring peacefully its hymn of bliss, and the placens uxor, the sonsie wife, as she rocks in her chair opposite you, breathes a sigh of profound thankfulness that the day’s work is well-nigh done, that the bairns, God bless them, are snugly tucked in bed, and for ten peaceful hours will cease from troubling, and the weary mother may be at rest. It is a night on which the mind, reposeful after a day’s toil well done, and a day’s wage well won, would fain enjoy a peace undisturbed by thoughts of the morrow’s harrassings.

But in Huddersfield and in all the wildly beautiful district around, nor for master nor man, was there any hope that night of that ideal, beatific peace. The strike, the great Weavers’ Strike, as it came to be known, was well under weigh, and both masters and men had settled down with the grim resolve of the northern character to see which side could starve the other into submission. For, after all, with all the talk and all the writing about good trade and bad trade, about high profits and losses, about scales and rates of wages, after all the conferences and deputations and talk of arbitration and Boards of Conciliation, to a trial of brute strength, of sheer endurance, of staying power, not to a determination of which side was right and which was wrong, must the contest surely come.

It was a very pretty quarrel, as quarrels go, a quarrel to make the cynic hug himself in glee, a quarrel to make angels weep. The masters had agreed upon a new scale of wages to be adopted and enforced in every mill in the district, a scale that would determine not only the plus and minus of the employers’ balance-sheets, but that perhaps negligible affair, the plus or minus of thousands of humble homes for miles around. The masters declared, ore rotundo, with swelling voices and in good round phrase that the new scale of wages was not a reduction, but a readjustment; the weavers swore by all their gods that any readjustment the scale would effect would be a transference of so many weekly shillings from the earnings of each craftsman to the pockets of his master.

A question, surely, this, to be settled in three minutes by a penny ready reckoner, where and when Reason has sway. But in Huddersfield and in the villages converging therein Reason had unfurled her glittering wings and had fled affrighted from the scene of strife, to return only when Passion, and Hatred, and Ignorance, and all evil imaginings and utterings had wrought their fill of ill.

A pretty quarrel, in very sooth, a quarrel that should have shown the veriest idiot of a workingman of how little worth are political professions, nay, indeed, of how little worth are religious protestations when that sorest of sore points, the pocket, is touched. The weavers of Huddersfield and of the valleys hard by had, for years that stretched back almost beyond count, flocked in their thousands to shout at the hustings in the Square, or, in later days, to shout in their noble Town Hall for banker or manufacturer or merchant who came to them with glib, smooth speech, asseverating with tear-laden eyes that all they asked, to make them happy, was to spend and be spent in the workers’ cause. And now the lists are ranged for a grim conflict between Labour and Capital, and where are ye now oh, friends of the people? Where now is the Liberal merchant, where now the Radical manufacturer, where now your reforming councillors and aldermen who have risen to their paltry place and gimcrack power on the popular vote, where now the editors of facile pen who have been so fluent in their vows of fidelity to the people’s cause? All, all alike—Whig and Tory, Conservative, Liberal, and Radical stand in solid phalanx, confronting an abandoned, impassioned mob, conscious only of its wrongs and its betrayal. The men know the masters’ scale means robbery, but how shall they, unlettered, unskilled, with hands that can ply a shuttle but unused to pen, with brains to think and know and feel, with tongues little used to ordered speech, how shall they plead their cause?

Two men are seated this stormy March night in a retired room of the Albion public-house on the Buxton Road. The room is small, ill-ventilated, stuffy, its air laden with tobacco reek and the fumes of stale ale. They are Albert Clough, the Weavers’ Secretary, and Allen Rae, two men as different in character and temperament as the poles are wide asunder, but united in a common belief in the worker’s right to a fairer and a sweeter heritage.

Both were weavers, and both, therefore, were well aware of the effect likely to be produced by the masters’ proposed scale upon the earnings of themselves and their fellow-workmen. But there was little other resemblance between the two men. Rae was a man of no small natural ability, his forehead denoted intellectuality, his firm, close-set lips determination and self-control. Anyone accustomed to judge character by external indications would have no difficulty in pronouncing Rae to be of an essentially practical turn of mind; of no great ideals or enthusiasms; a safe guide rather than an impassioned leader. Clough, on the other hand, was as readily assessed, or, as his acquaintances would have phrased it, “sized up,” as a man of impulses, apt to allow his judgment to be warped by his passions and his prejudices. And of passions and prejudices he had his full share. He had read much, and the literature to which he was partial consisted, for the most part, of those books that exposed the iniquities of those in high places, men born and nurtured in the lap of luxury. He, at all events, never questioned the divine dictum as to the possibility of a rich man entering the kingdom of heaven. His whole attitude to the capitalist class, as embodied for him in the Masters’ Union, was determined by a consuming sense of the rank injustice of things, the gross iniquity that he and his fellows should be cursed rather than born into the world, foredoomed to moil and toil for a pittance to lead a hard life of endless work, with long hours and paltry pay, to live a dun, colourless existence, a life of carking care and ceaseless struggle, with the prospect at its close, of the Workhouse, unless he should be so happy as to drop at his loom; while other men, many of whom, he was very sure, were neither so clever, nor so well instructed as himself, were by the accident of birth or from positions their own hands and brains had not won, sheltered from the storms of life, had never known and would never know the pangs of hunger nor the hideous monotony of a life of mechanical toil in another’s service. There was not much talk of Socialism in those days; Socialism was vaguely supposed to be a milder form of Nihilism, having something to do with dynamite and secret societies. Had there been any Socialists in Huddersfield, Clough would have been in their midst; but his Socialism would have been based not so much upon a divine compassion for others as upon a fierce pity for himself.

“Have you read that leading article o’ Joe Woodhead in to-neet’s Rag?” it was thus impolitely he referred to the “Huddersfield Daily Examiner.”

Rae nodded.

“An’ this is th’ paper th’ working-men ha’ been fooils enough to call th’ friend o’ freedom. By gow, Allen, it ma’es me think what fooils we ’n bin.”

“I don’t quite see what else we could expect,” said Rae, quietly. “Yo’ musn’t forget that behind the editorial ‘we’ there is always a very human personality. Th’ editor o’ th’ ‘Examiner’s’ only human, and it’s only natural he’ll look at the present crisis in th’ trade of Huddersfield from a very different standpoint to you an’ me. Yo’ see, he started in life as a manufacturer hissen, an’ only drifted into journalism. He’s one of the middle-class hissen. He were born into it, he wedded into it, an’ aw should think all his friends are of it. Look how thick he is wi’ ‘Midget’ o’ Marsden, ’at they say’s done so much to make th’ ‘Examiner’ go in the Colne Valley. Yo’ can’t say but what both Mr. Woodhead an’ Mr. Robinson—that’s ‘Midget,’ you know—are good Liberals. They’re sound on questions of Church an’ State. But this strike isn’t a question of Church an’ State; it’s a question o’£ s. d.”

“It’s more nor that, Allen. It’s a question o’ th’ right o’ combination; th’ right o’ th’ men to have a say in fixin’ th’ rate o’ wages they’re willin’ to work for.”

“Well, it comes to £ s. d. in the end. The masters want to put their finished goods on the market at as little cost to themselves as they possibly can; the men want to get as much for producing the finished article as they possibly can. The only question is, can they starve us into accepting their price for our labour.”

“There’s one man they’ll never starve into swallowing this new scale. There’s another man off to America first.”

“That’s all very well for you, Albert, and may be for me, too. In fact, when this fight’s over, end choose which way it may, it’s more nor likely that’s th’ only course open for either on us. I don’t fancy there’ll be a loom for either you or me long in this town or hereabouts. We’re marked men, however others may fare. But we can’t all clear out to th’ States, an’ none o’ us can stand clammin’ long. We haven’t really felt th’ pinch yet. We’ve only had a month of it, and it’s just been a holiday for all o’ us. An’ th’ anxiety’s been on th’ masters’ side up to now, having to turn away orders because they couldn’t accept ’em running th’ risk o’ losing good customers it’s cost em happen years o’ fishing an’ a mint o’ money to cooper. That’ll hit us in the long run, but it hits them first. And, meantime, we’ve been all right. The strike pay’s been there to th’ minnit, an’ it’s just been a novel an’ delightful sensation to lie i’ bed as long as you like, to stroll about th’ streets, or sit by th’ fireside, or hang about th’ pubs, as too many of us do, an’ then to draw our strike pay without th’ trouble of addling it. But this can’t go on for ever. Th’ question is, how long will it last, Albert, how long will it last?”

“Well, as far as I’m concerned it’ll last as long as the Union has a meg to its back.”

“That won’t be long, as things are shaping. Yo’ see, if we’d only a third of the men out and two-third’s working for th’ ‘out’s’ to draw on we should be up another street. But th’ masters….”

“Curse ’em!” ejaculated Clough.

“Th’ masters soon saw that, an’ now yo’ may say were’re all out, an’ we’re like that German chap’s monkey you’ll have read on, sat afore th’ fire hilariously boiling its own tail for breakfast.”

“You’re nobbut a Job’s comforter, Allen. Don’t yo’ believe in th’ triumph o’ right over might, o’ principle over pelf?”

“I believe in facts, Albert, an’ facts stubborn things. Of course, there’s no hurry yet. As I said, th’ pinch hasn’t come yet. Wait till th’ co-op.’s an’ th’ small grocers ha’ put their foot down, an’ won’t let as much as a pound o’ oatmeal go out o’ th’ shop till it’s paid for; wait till th’ landlord begins to fetch th’ sticks for th’ rent; wait till the distress warrants are out for the borough rate an’ th’ poor rate; wait till th’ pop-shops are full an’ the houses are welly empty; wait till th’ strike fund’s don an’ th’ children are cryin’ for bread—what then Albert, what then?”

“There’s wealth enough all round for th’ taking, wealth we’n more right to nor them ’at’s gotten it.”

“That means the treadmill. No thank you, lad.”

“Oh! what’s th’ use o’ lookin’ forrard so far? Th’ masters ’ll weaken before th’ worst comes to th’ worst. I’m all for a policy o’ bluff; th’ weaker we get th’ bigger we mun talk.”

“That’s all right. But we must look forward to a time when it’ll do us good to have th’ public on our side, an’ th’ only way to get them is to show th’ people we’re right an’ th’ masters wrong. I don’t think myself that th’ people o’ England are going to see our Union stamped out if we’ve reason on our side—an’ I’m as sure o’ that as that’s a pint o’ ale you’ve got in front o’ you.”

“But it isn’t,” said Albert, “it wor, but awve supped it long sin. But how are we to get th’ public on our side? It’s easy talking. You see for yoursen th’ ‘Examiner’s’ none likely to take our side, an’ you may be certain sure th’ ‘Chronicle’ and th’ ‘Weekly News’ ’ll be worse. If we hold meetings there’ll be nobbut weavers theer, and that’s preachin’ to the converted w’ a vengeance. There’s only th’ pen left when th’ sword an’ th’ tongue are teed. An’ if it comes to writin’ there’s none o’ us fit to howd a candle to th’ masters, to say wowt o’ th’ allies they may have i’ th’ Press.”

“I’ve been wondering,” said Rae, slowly, “if Mr. Edward Beaumont….”

“The very man,” cried Clough, rising so excitedly that he upset his pewter; “th’ very man, or I’m sore mista’en. By gow, aw nivver thowt o’ him. If we can nobbut mak’ him see th’ same way as we see.”

“If,”, assented Rae. “But there’s no harm i’ trying.”

And thus it came about that long letters signed “Edward Beaumont” began to appear in one of the local papers, bearing upon the one topic that engrossed the thoughts and speech of nearly every man and woman in Huddersfield, and in the valleys converging on that town, be those men and women of what class, of what degree they might. For the Weavers’ Strike, as it was called, though strike it was not, if by a strike is meant a refusal to work for the wages current at its commencement, had assumed proportions so portentous that there was in all that great and populous district scarce a household that was not seriously affected by it. The combatants drawn up in conflict, of course; but not they alone. And yet they alone, and the children of their loins, were numbered by their thousands. But upon the textile industry of that great area depended dozens of auxiliary trades, and every trade, wholesale and retail, was hit and hit hard. All gloomed under this heavy pall except, at first, the publican, and he, for a few glad weeks, felt that the normal condition of every industry should be one of strike or lock-out; felt it so intensely that in the exuberance of his disinterested sympathy he placed upon his beer-stained tables hot luncheons of fried tripe with onions, and savoury dishes of liver and bacon. And as the men consumed these delicacies and quaffed their measures of “Timmy,” by which fond name the brew of a local firm was widely and appreciatively known, of what should they read, and of what should they talk but the great Strike, and, of course, the letters of Edward Beaumont. It is to be feared that these contributions to the dialectics of the great contest were more relished by the workers than by their employers. The letters took it for granted in the outset that the masters were sincere in their protestations that nothing was further from their thoughts, in insisting on the acceptance of the new scale, than the reduction of current wages. The writer declined to believe, with the men, that the masters’ insistence on this point was but a Machiavellian device for a considerable lowering of rates. The masters were, of course, honourable men, all honourable men, and they must know how the scale of their own devising would work out. But if the men were so obtuse that they could not see that a raising rather than a lowering at all events and certainly no lowering, would result; why not put the whole question to the arbitrament of one or two competent men conversant with the intricacies of the textile trade, men able to unravel the somewhat tangled and bewildering skein of the new scale—and let them say, aye or nay, would it be, as the weavers so passionately persisted, a grievous weekly diminution, not of their earnings, not of their work and output, but of the guerdon of their toil. Never in the whole history of industrial conflicts, the writer exclaimed, had there before been known a case of employers being driven to lock-out their men to dragoon them into accepting higher wages, or of men striking in resentment of the benefits their benevolent despots were bent upon thrusting into their unwilling hands.

And when the blue-smocked ones read these words they gaffawed over their cups; but the masters scowled and damned the writer as a meddling busy-body. The president of the Employers’ Association—the employers naturally, did not have a union, merely an Association, such virtue is there in a name, despite the poet’s dictum—Who chanced to be, not only a large manufacturer, but also a prominent Liberal, worshipful master of Beaumont’s Masonic Lodge, and a very desirable client to boot, called upon that gentleman at his office, and proceeded to give him a piece of his mind in language whose plainness left nothing to be desired.

“Look here, brother Beaumont, I should have thought by this time you’d learned which side your bread’s buttered on, and who spreads the butter. You know I’m a Liberal, as good a Liberal as you are yourself, if it comes to that; you know when there’s a fight to be fought my cheque’s always been ready, and not a little cheque at that; and you’re vastly mistaken if you think you’ve got a monopoly of zeal for the working-class. But what the deuce, man alive, do you want poking your finger into this pie for? Why, in the name of common sense, can’t you leave us and our men to fight this battle out between us?”

“Do you think it’s a fair fight, brother Tomlinson?”

“Fair. Why not?”

“Well, I’ll tell you why not, if my opinion’s worth anything. On your side you’ve got all the money, all the staying power, and all, or nearly all, the educated skill to put your case plausibly before the public. Now, what have these poor devils of weavers got? A few pounds of reserve in the Co-op. and the Savings Bank, a few sticks of furniture, and hands for which they can find no work to do, and so unused to wielding the pen to state their own claim that, with the best case in the world, if they had it, you’d have no difficulty in making it appear the worst. They’ve been to me, I admit it, everyone by this time knows they have. I’ve tried in every way I could to get at the merits of the dispute, and, to tell you frankly, I don’t believe, for a single minute, this is a question of wages at all!”

“Oh, indeed, and what is it?”

“I believe, in my heart of hearts, it’s neither more nor less than a deliberate attempt to smash and pulverise the Weavers’ Union. That, neither more nor less; and I think it’s a criminal shame that men like yourself, who call themselves Liberals and the friends of Labour, should be engaged in what is at bottom simply a conspiracy against Labour’s most precious and hard-won right—the right of combination.”

“Oh, stow that talk! it’s good enough for electioneering and the Town Hall platform. This is business, solid business, and business hasn’t room for bunkum. How would you like Albert Clough coming swaggering and hectoring into your office, and telling you you didn’t pay your clerks a proper wage?”

“I shouldn’t like anybody coming swaggering and hectoring into my office. I shouldn’t like Albert Clough and, perhaps you won’t mind my saying, I shouldn’t like Albert Cough’s employer.”

Mr. Tomlinson waived away the suggestion impatiently and continued:—

“Not merely saying you didn’t pay enough wage, demanding, when you told him you paid as much as you could see your way to pay, demanding in a truculent voice to see your ledgers and overhaul your pass-book, and wanting to know why you kept a carriage if you couldn’t afford better wages. D—n the man, he’ll be wanting to know what I have for dinner next, and what my wife gives for her bonnets and her gloves.”

Edward smiled. He knew Albert Clough and Albert’s ways. But he was not the man to make admissions that might be useful to his adversary and of no use to himself.

“Why, Tomlinson,” he said, “if it comes to that I’ve over a thousand men coming every day of the week into my office, not exactly hectoring and blustering, but in a manner that is more effective, though quieter, than any hectoring and blustering, and these thousand men and more dictate to me every hour of my life, not what I shall pay my clerks, but, what is more comprehensive still, what I shall sell my goods for, in other words, what I shall charge for every act of my business life; I can’t give a piece of advice, I can’t open my mouth in the court, I can’t write a business letter, I can’t take a business journey, I can’t prepare a will, an agreement, or a deed, but these impertinent thousand odd men, meaning thereby my lords and gentlemen of the British Parliament, tell me exactly what I may charge and what I may not. And yet, you see, I contrive to live and look pleasant.”

“Oh! that’s special pleading, and you know it. There’s no parallel in the two cases.”

“Pardon me, the cases are exactly parallel. The State intervenes between me and my client because it knows it would be a sad day for the client if he were left to the tender mercies of the lawyer, or, as you would put it, to the law of supply and demand on which you employers claim to rest the rate of wages. Now the workman has nothing to help him against you but this very right of combination and the clumsy, often futile, boomerang-like device of a strike. A poor weapon, but better than none at all. And yet he is to be deprived even of that.”

“But you’re ruining us, man; you’re driving the trade out of the district and God only knows when and whether it will ever come back again.”

“Pardon me, Tomlinson. It is not I that am doing all this. It is rather you and your fellow employers, who have not only caused the present crisis, but are needlessly prolonging it. Sooner or later I suppose you’ll get your own way. I’ve no doubt that sooner or later the men—not the best of them, for they will have been snapped up by outside firms—will be brought to their knees. The victory will be yours—but what a victory! Do you think things will be any pleasanter in your mills when the men have been starved into submission, and go back to their work beaten, sullen, and resentful, feeling every day they live that they have been robbed and their masters are the thieves, for that’s what it comes to in plain English. If it isn’t so, why in the name of elemental justice and common sense don’t you agree to arbitrate the whole matter? The men are willing, always have been willing. I’ll go bail that if you’ll agree to that every mill shall be running in a week, aye, and less. It is you and your Association that stand in the way and not the men. If you are being done to death it is felo de se, suicide, pure and simple; if the town is being ruined, you and your colleagues are doing that deed most damnable.”

“By heavens! Beaumont, I’ll hear no more of this. I came to you as a friend and as a brother mason to bring you to reason in a friendly and brotherly way, and you as good as tell me I’m a robber and a murderer. Well, well, if I’m to be ruined, I’ll be ruined; but I’ll take precious good care there’s somebody tumbles before I tumble, and I shouldn’t be surprised if his name’s Edward Beaumont. I’m not chairman of a Banking Company for nothing. People who play at bowls must expect rubbers. Send me my account, if you’ve got one against me, and you can send all my papers to Ewart and Co. You’ll get your cheque, and I fancy it’ll be a long time before you see the colour of my money again.”

“Good morning, Mr. Tomlinson. There’s the door. You remember what I said about hectoring and bullying?”

For long after the irate manufacturer had bounced out of his office Beaumont sat ruminating in the chair he drew to the fire. In vain he had tried to concentrate his thoughts upon the documents upon his desk. His own concerns crowded out the concerns of others. He had been made painfully sensible of late that things were not going well with him. Mr. Tomlinson was not the only client who had demanded his account and the transference of his papers. His best and oldest clients were deserting him. His staff of clerks was a large and expensive one, and he had little or no work now for them to do, and yet he shrank from discharging so much as an office-boy. Why should they and their families suffer? At the club, too, men looked black at him; at his Lodge his brethren treated him coldly. He was uneasy, too, about Schofield’s mortgage. Edward was resolved, that at any cost to himself, no cloud should rest upon his father’s name. The expenses of his electioneering promised to be heavy. Money seemed to flow like water from his bank into Staffordshire, and his account was overdrawn to an unusual and disquieting extent. The courteous manager and he were on the best of terms, but Edward knew a manager, even a bank manager, is but a servant of the directors—and the directors were manufacturers or merchants to a man, and the chairman of the directors was none other than the gentleman who had just left him in such high dudgeon and breathing threats that could have but one meaning.

And top of all this the morning’s post had brought him a letter from Storth.

“DEAR BEAUMONT,—I have been thinking things over a lot since I started for my holidays, and I’ve come to the conclusion to try to stand on my own bottom, like any other tub. I know by the terms of our agreement you are entitled to six months’ notice of dissolution, but I’ve no doubt you’ll waive that, for it would be pleasant for neither you nor me for me to continue in the office, as it were, with one foot in it and the other out. What say you? My plans for the future are very vague. Hope things are going on smoothly at your end. Wretched weather here.


S. S.”

“Pretty cool,” reflected Edward, as he re-perused this missive. “Anyway, I’m not going to beg him to stop on to please me. He can cut the painter now if he likes, and I’ll write and say so. It’s a nuisance that I must be in Stafford to-morrow night, and I wish more than I can say I’d never gone into that electioneering campaign. However, I’m in it and it can’t be helped. In for a penny, in for a pound. I feel very much like having put out my leg further than I can stride, and it’s time for the proverbial silver lining to the cloud.”


There stands, or some years ago there stood, in a noble park some five miles to the south of the ancient town of Stafford, a large and imposing edifice, built of a dull red brick, grown russet-hued with age, a house, one judged, reared in the days when Anne was queen. The outer door, stout almost as the portal of a jail, opened into a spacious hall, cheered by the fire of a commodious grate, its walls adorned, or one had perhaps better say furnished, by gloomy portraits of departed worthies and their beloved spouses. Dining-room and breakfast or morning-room opened right and left into the hall, whilst a noble staircase of oak, dark with age, with broad, shallow steps, worn by the feet of many generations, led to the upper storeys. In a room, on the second floor, snug, cosy, but somewhat severely furnished, sat in the early gloom of a wintry afternoon two maidens, both passing fair and good to look upon, and yet of a fairness how unlike—the one dark, tall, queenly of port and mien, and the other of slenderer form, of a gentler aspect, of a softer gaze, the one born to sway imperious, the other to win by the soft persuasion of tender look and soft appeal. The house is the home of Mrs. Jane Fairfax, relict of a former burgess and mayor of the town, whose trade—the townsfolk proudly boast—is trodden under foot by all the world—and it is the home also of her niece, ward, and heiress, Gertrude Fairfax.

Gertrude Fairfax and her old schoolfellow, Eleanor St. Clair, the proud and imperious beauty who, as a girl, had ruled her classmates and sorely tried the patience of her teachers, and to whom the gentler maiden had yielded a ready and adoring submission when both were in short frocks and wore their hair in a pig-tail, were in the intimate converse of afternoon tea.

“My dearest Eleanor,” the younger girl is saying, as she hands cake and tea to her friend reclined in the deep, soft-cushioned basket chair, “I cannot tell you how delighted I am to see you after all these years. Why, you had almost ceased to write, and, lo! when I could not have dreamed of such a pleasure, with just one day’s warning, you drop, as it were, out of the clouds. And how beautiful you are, Eleanor. Oh! how beautiful. But you always were. Don’t you remember how we used to call you Lady Macbeth, and vow you would wed at least an earl. You were born to move resplendent in imperial courts, waited upon by adoring slaves, laying their coronets at your feet.”

Eleanor laughed complacently.

“Well, if I was so born, I’m not going to fulfil my destiny. I don’t know that courts will know much of me, unless they are some horrid, low, fusty, musty law courts. Heigho! I shudder at the thought of them. No! destiny’s out of it this time for me. But you, Gertrude, you, if you like, are fulfilling your destiny. Didn’t we call you Saint Cecilia, and the Puritan maiden, and Miss Prim, and all that? And there you sit, I declare, dressed in a plain serge, with a plain linen collar and cuffs, your hair confined as tight and brushed as smooth as its inherent rebelliousness will permit, without a ribbon or a ring, and just a cheap jet brooch at a neck you hide as though you were ashamed of it. You might be a nun, or what is it you remind me of? I have it. You only want a poke bonnet and a tambourine and you’re the picture of a Salvation Army lass; but sure the prettiest and the sweetest Salvation Army lass that ever travestied religion.”

“Well, I am a Salvation Army lass, if it comes to that; but I don’t know, Eleanor, that I travesty religion. I try to live it, not to parody it.”

“You, a Salvation Army lass! Angels and ministers of grace defend us! You, Gertrude, that simply roll in money, you that live in this grand old house, you with a maid of your own a butler like a bishop, a footman with calves that are simply thrown away in Staffordshire, you with a carriage and a lovely pair, and a coachman as gorgeous as the Lord Mayor’s, you a Salvation Army lass! As the Scotch parson said: ‘Good Lord! it’s juist rideeculous!’”

“My dear Eleanor, you forget. The house is not mine, the maid, the groom, the coachman, and the carriage and the pair—these are not mine. They are my dear aunt’s. Mine they never may be. Should they be destined some day to be mine, may that day be far, far distant.”

“Amen, with all my heart. Your aunt’s a dear. But to all intents and purposes they’re yours, or will be some day, and you know it. I wish I were as certain of heaven. And, heigho! don’t I just wish that some of that filthy dross you Salvationists affect to despise were mine. Money’s just thrown away on you. It’s a ridiculous waste of the good things of life to lavish them on a girl I verily believe would just as soon have a steel as a diamond brooch at her breast, and a slip of velvet round her neck as a rope of pearls.”

“Sooner,” said Gertrude. “I think it’s simply sinful to spend precious money on pearls and diamonds when so many of my sisters perish for lack of very bread. I do not judge others, Eleanor, God forbid that I should. It may not be sinful for others, but it would for me, seeing as I see and thinking and feeling as I think and feel. And, indeed, it is no sacrifice for me to be without fine apparel and costly jewels. I take neither pride nor pleasure in them. A bit of coloured glass is to me as beautiful as the rarest gem, and a rose or a violet more beautiful than either. I often think people value jewels not for what they see in them, but from a curious sense that their costliness denies them to others. I don’t think it is an enviable frame of mind. But you haven’t told me, dear, why you wished particularly to be in Staffordshire just now. You hinted in your letter there was a reason. Is it a secret?”

“It is, and it isn’t. Oh! Gertrude, I am the happiest and the most miserable of girls. I’ve given my heart and promised my hand to nearly the last man in the world I ought to have loved, and papa simply won’t hear a word of our being engaged, and as for being married, it may come off when I’m ready for one of those old-age pensions those horrid Radicals dangle before the silly people’s eyes. But, I forgot, I’m a Radical myself now, or I suppose I ought to be.”

“You a Radical, Gertrude! Yes, when I’m a Tory. But why must you?”

“Why, because Edward’s a Radical. Isn’t that reason enough? But I forget. You’re but a schoolgirl yet. You know nothing of such things. And there’s that goose of a Squire Wright—never leaves me alone, follows me like my shadow, and the more I snub him the more he seems to like it. He grows sleek on cruelty and positively beams under despiteful usage.”

“And Edward is, I presume, the fortunate suitor. Edward what? Who is he? Where did you meet him? You’ve never mentioned him in your letters.”

“Edward Beaumont. See, this is his portrait,” and Eleanor drew a locket from her bosom and handed it to her friend. “Isn’t he handsome? Now don’t say yes if you don’t think so; but I’ll just shake you if you don’t.” Gertrude Fairfax gazed long upon the face encircled in its golden frame, and a close observer would have seen a deeper colour suffuse her cheeks and brow only to leave them paler than before. She clasped the locket nervously and returned it to her companion.

“It is a good face,” she said quietly. “I have seen it before. I know Mr. Beaumont slightly, and, Eleanor, I think you should be a very happy girl.”

Then she told of that adventure in Huddersfield which has been already chronicled in these veracious pages.

“And you love him, Eleanor?” she concluded, “and he loves you, and soon the glad marriage-bells will ring and you will live happy ever after.”

“I’m not so sure of all that, Gertrude. There’s the Archdeacon to reckon with, and though he’s the best of fathers, he can put his foot down when he likes, and it’s a heavy one. Then, yes, I suppose it’s true enough, and I may as well say it, there’s Eleanor St. Clair to reckon with. You see, Edward’s not rich, a successful attorney at the best. That is what he is now, and if I marry now I marry what he is now, not what he may be. And I really don’t think I could marry a poor man of no position worth talking of. Why, I might as well marry a curate.”

“But you love him, Eleanor?”

“Oh! that’s well enough in novels. But I’ve been told on high authority that when poverty comes in at the door, love flies out at the window. Fancy me, Eleanor St. Clair, living in a cheap villa, with a horrid garden patch in front and a yard for drying clothes at the back; a slip-shod servant-maid with a sniffing nose, doing my own laundry work, cooking my own meals and my lord’s, cold mutton and rice pudding most days. I don’t think I could bear it for the best man living, and that’s flat!”

“Perhaps it won’t be so bad as all that, Eleanor. Does Mr. Beaumont know how you look at things?”

“Pretty well, I fancy, and he has more sense than to expect anything else. Don’t you know he’s trying for Parliament? Why, bless me, I forget to tell you. He’s to be in Stafford to-night, speaking in the Town Hall, I’ve never heard him make a speech, so I trumped up an invitation from my old school friend and here I am. You’ll go with me to the Hall to-night, won’t you, dear? He mustn’t see me nor know I’m in Stafford, but I do so want to see and hear him.”

That was a memorable meeting in the Stafford Town Hall. It was to be, so far as possible, a county meeting. From all parts of the Southern Division men teemed into Stafford—farmers, greatly daring, who braved the wrath of their landlords, shop-keepers, agricultural labourers, and the miners from Cannock Chase. An ex-Cabinet Minister was to be on the platform, Joseph Arch, the peasant’s pride, was to speak, and the new Radical candidate was to address the electors and non-electors. And Edward Beaumont had resolved that that night he would deliver his soul, let the result be what it might. He would speak not to win this election, for that he was convinced no Radical could do and be honest, but so speak that either he or some better man should hereafter win elections by an emancipated electorate. He would not water down his creed to conciliate the half-hearted or to disarm the prejudiced. The people should know his soul, his whole soul and nothing short of it. He knew his speech would shock, would wound, would alienate; but he had learned his political creed amid the free, outspoken, fearless, and enlightened citizens of the North; and that creed, or none at all, from him the more dull and decorous Midlands should have. The chairman, a pursy, podgy alderman of the town, gasped with horror, the ex-Cabinet Minister grew frigid with haughty resentment, the black-clothed citizens looked into each other’s eyes in blank dismay, but the ruddy peasants and the grimy miners roared themselves hoarse as he warmed to his work and spoke the convictions of his mind.

“You have heard,” he said, “from the right hon. gentleman who has just resumed his seat that a much-needed, long-delayed measure of electoral reform cannot much longer be denied. You met that declaration with much cheering, and rightly so. But I wish you to ask yourselves what use are you prepared to make of the vote when you get it? Are you so content with your present lot that you look forward to ending your lives as most of you have begun and so far spent them? You miners, you stalwart sons of the soil, has the future no fairer promise for you than the lot you and your fathers have known. To what measures are our legislators to put their hands when Liberal, perchance a Radical, House sits to carry into law the people’s behests? I tell you your votes will be of no value unless you are resolved to use them as the crowbars and the jemmies with which to force the safes of privilege and plunder, use them not to steal what is not your own, but to regain that of which the people have been despoiled, to win back for yourselves your own, but that which has been so long enjoyed by others you have almost forgotten your imprescriptible rights. Is it a law of Nature that one should spend his toil and another enjoy its fruits? Is it an immutable decree of heaven that there should be for ever and for aye the inordinately rich and the abjectly poor? Is it marked down in holy Writ that Dives should always be clad in purple and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day, whilst Lazarus lies at his gates and the dogs lick his sores? Is it to be endured for ever that the miner should toil in the bowels of the earth—shut out from God’s sunshine and daring all the perils of a sudden and awful death, whilst the mine-owner rolls lordly in his carriage and cossets himself on partridge and champagne? Is it to be endured that so long as this earth shall last the owners of the soil may live in pampered luxury upon the earnings of the harassed farmer and the sweating and sweated hind? No, by heavens, gentlemen, if I am to be your candidate I shall stand for measures that will humble the pride of those in high places, measures that will strip the coronetted peers of the power they now possess to thwart the people’s will, measures that will humble the bishop’s bench and strip the haughty hierarchy of its ungodly privileges, measures that will give back to the people the wealth the people earn by their sinews and their brain. A time shall come when England shall be Merry England once more, aye, if we have to make a holocaust of the title-deeds by which its broad acres have been tied in parchment bonds; a time when honest toil shall be honestly rewarded; a time when he who toils not shall see himself and be seen as the parasite he is; a time when no man shall wield political power merely because he chances to be ‘the tenth transmitter of a foolish face’; a time when no man and no woman shall be poor who is willing and able to work; a time when the Workhouse shall no longer be the only asylum for decent poverty, a time when the wealth-winners shall be the wealth-enjoyers. Woe in that day to the man, aye, though he boast the blood of the Plantagenets, who owes his pride and station, his pomp and luxury, to the rentals of common land stolen from the peasant; woe in that day to the capitalist who grinds the faces of the poor; woe in that day to all who sit at the feast they have not spread and quaff the goblet they have not filled. But glad, glad that day for all who give unstinting of brain or muscle and by honest toil add their measure to the common wealth and win thereby the right to share to the full in the generous bounty of Nature’s ungrudging hand. I do not come to you with mincing gait and honeyed words. No kid-glove politician I. You know my mind. Say, shall I be your spokesman at the people’s House?”

And that vast audience, almost to a man, sprang to feet, and thundered back an “Aye” that shook the very walls. But the chairman paled in his puffy cheeks and the ex-minister’s brow was dark. And even as the cheers rolled and rolled again a messenger handed to Beaumont as, flushed and exultant, he gazed upon the sea of faces, a message flashed across the wires by his confidential clerk:—

“Petition in Bankruptcy against you by Bank and Schofield.”

“See, Eleanor,” whispered Gertrude Fairfax, who, seated in the balcony beside her friend, had drunk in with enraptured ears the fervent periods of the speaker. “See, he has had bad news. He pales, I can see it even here. He is ghastly white. Oh! I am sure he has had some terrible blow. And at such a moment! Cannot you go to him and comfort him?”

But Eleanor made no sign.


Three years have passed; years to which in later life Edward Beaumont looked back with loathing and with wonder, wonder that in so short a time he should have not merely fallen from that fair place he had filled in the eye of what was to him the world, but worse, infinitely worse, have fallen from his purer, better, nobler self; years in which, merged, well-nigh submerged, in London’s restless, ruthless sea, he had struggled to keep body and soul together by the use of his pen. When first he had come to town he could, doubtless, have obtained employment as a managing clerk. There are hundreds of men of his profession who are glad to earn the bread of dependence in that capacity; but a false pride forbade him to serve as clerk, who had so recently kinged it in his own office. So he had turned to that refuge of the educated out-of-work—literature—to find, as thousands have found before, that literature is, perhaps, the hardest of all professions. And yet it seems so easy a thing to start in life as a writer; all you need is a J pen, a few sheets of foolscap, and, yes, there’s the rub, something to write about that people want to read about; and, given all that, he’s a lucky man that does not find someone else has forestalled him and has written on the same theme infinitely better than he can write himself. Beaumont, in those days, often recalled the three ways in which, according to the traditions of the Bar, a young barrister may rise rapidly: by writing a book on some legal subject, by huggery—id est—by marrying an attorney’s daughter, or by a miracle. For the man who must needs write daily for his daily crust it is not easy to write a book, certainly not easy to find an appreciative publisher; as for huggery, or marrying an editor’s daughter editor’s daughters look far beyond the out-at elbows penny-a-liner; and as for miracles, well, he had never believed in them. Indeed, in these days he had ceased to believe in anything or anybody, even in himself. It was the worst of his misfortunes that he had lost, as it were, at one fell swoop, everything, even the desire to succeed. If he could earn enough to keep life within him, though why he should care even to do that he would have been hard put to it to say, that would suffice. He who loses fortune loses much, who loses friends loses more, but who loses courage loses all. And Beaumont’s heart was dead within him.

It was a dark, dreary night of March. The rain beat fitfully against the window of a bedroom in a small by-street off the Holloway Road. The room is Edward’s sleeping room, his eating-room, and his workshop. A tiny fire burns dully in a tiny grate and emits rather less heat than the gas that blares with a sickly flame above Beaumont’s head. It is close upon ten of the night, and Edward has thrown down his pen, collected the sheets of “copy” that he hopes to turn into money if editors prove kind on the morrow, and is now, pipe in mouth and book in hand, trying to find a comfortable place in the rickety, horse-hair armchair, called by his landlady in some fit of uncanny humour, an easy chair, and trying, too, to so focus his book as to catch the rays from his solitary gas-jet. A very different Edward this from the easy, debonair youth whom men had envied and maidens smiled upon. His clothes are well cut, but woefully white at the seams, his linen is frayed, his boots down at heel, the watch he glances at is manifestly a Waterbury, its chain of steel; and before he lights his pipe he is compelled to cut a pipeful of unmistakeable Limerick. Upon the small table are a jug of water, a tumbler, and a bottle labelled “Pride of the Glen.” Edward holds it to the light and measures its contents with his eye.

“Still three-parts full. Behold the rewards of abstinence. Had I not been frugal last night I must have been frugal to-night; but, heaven be thanked, there are two or three hours’ quiet soaking in three-quarters of a 3s. 6d. bottle of the ‘Pride of the Glen,’ and by that is drunk this dingy hole will be a palace and Edward Beaumont its prince; my tea of bread and margarine, with a bloater, will look in the retrospect a Guildhall banquet; this very angular, grid-iron like chair will be as cosy as a divan; the cheap prints that adorn my walls will show as the works of Watteau and Greuze; my rags will fall away, and I shall be clad in purple and fine linen; my whiskey will be imperial Tokay; my twist Havanas; and, in fine, it will be Edward Beaumont and not the bottle that will be three-parts full. It is true that tomorrow my mouth will be parched and I shall crave for a hair of the dog that bit me, and have to crave unless the landlord of the ‘Jolly Dogs’ is in confiding mood; my gorge will rise at the streaky, sickly slice of bacon and the ghastly ‘shop-’un’ and the leathery bread that will be served for breakfast; it is also true my eye will be bleared, if not blood-shot, my head will ache fit to split, and my hand tremble till I can scarce lift to my lips the cup of wash-up water my landlady calls tea. All these things I verily believe. It is doubtless also true that I am shortening my life, true as gospel, oh! most sapient Sir Wilfrid Lawson. But is it not written that man shall take no thought for the morrow and that sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. Here, benign deity at 3s. 6d. the bottle! here, thou offerest three hours’ oblivion, and they’re well purchased by tomorrow’s reckoning.”

And he poured from the bottle a generous measure of the elixir mortis, puffed his pipe to a vigorous glow, and with a sigh of something like content, set himself to the reading of his well-thumbed “Omar Khayyam.”

“Ah, my Beloved, fill the cup that clears

TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears—

To-morrow? Why, To-morrow I may be

Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n Thousand years”

“Good old Omar,” the reader mutters, as he drains his goblet, and replenishes it from bottle and jug, “good old Omar, thine is the only true philosophy. Carpe diem, pluck the passing hour, let us eat and drink for to-morrow we may die, and who cares?

“Into this Universe, and why not knowing,

Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing;

And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,

I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

What, without asking, hither hurried whence?

And, without asking, whither hurried hence!

Another and another Cup to drown

The Memory of this Impertinence.”

“Now, talk of Impertinence, who the deuce is this coming up my stairs at this hour of the night, and such a night? It can’t be the printer’s devil, besides, the step’s a man’s at that. If his thirst’s as big as himself, God help the bottle or what’s left of it. Oh! come in, whoever you are, and be hanged to you!” and in response to this not very pressing invitation the door opens, and in the doorway stands, peering into the room, dazzled in the transition from the gloomy staircase, a tall, erect figure, closely draped in a heavy Inverness cape, sodden with the rain.

“It is Mr. Beaumont, is it not?” asks a manly, pleasant voice. “Why, of course it is, now I can see you. How are you, Beaumont?” and a white but strong firm hand is outstretched and grasps the hand that not too gladly meets it.

“Denis Caird, by all that’s holy!”

“Of course, it’s Denis Caird, and glad to see you, Beaumont. Been hunting for you everywhere this month or two back. Was up in the West Riding lecturing, inquired about my old pupil we all prophesied such great things from, expected to find you in the Mayor’s parlour at least, till such times as you could follow Chamberlain’s lead heard you’d gone under, been seen in London, made up my mind to find you by hook or crook, and here I am and there you are. I say, what’s this, and this?” And the speaker, who had thrown off his cape, took up the little volume of verse, glanced at the title, and shook his head at the tall bottle. “‘Omar Khayyam’ and a whiskey bottle; bad food for mind, worse food for the body, my friend; the apostle of self-indulgence, and the worst, or nearly the worst, way to gratify it. This won’t do, Beaumont; this won’t do, my lad.”

Edward moved uneasily in his chair.

Dulce est” he began.

Dulce est be hanged,” quoth his visitor.

“I’m a clergyman or I’d say something stronger than that. What’s a young fellow like you want cooped up in a garret reading that rubbish, beautiful rubbish, if you like, but still rubbish, and making matters ten thousand times worse by drinking liquid damnation at three-and-six a bottle; up here, I say, in a garret, mooning over a lot of verses and soaking yourself with poison, when all around you there’s work to be done, man’s work, God’s work, and none too many to do it. What’s wrong with you, Beaumont, what’s wrong, say?”

“Everything’s wrong. You know, of course, how I came a mucker up yonder. Well, I’ve cared for nothing since, but just to get a crust of bread, and as much of that stuff as the money’ll run to.”

“Wasn’t there a girl in the case. Hadn’t you her to live for if nothing and nobody else?”

“Oh! yes, there was a girl, if it comes to that. But when the smash came she very promptly declined to permit me to ‘live for her,’ as you put it. See, look here, you can read my letters of dismissal, if you care to. Short and sweet, like a donkey’s gallop, I call ’em.”

And Beaumont took from a drawer and threw upon the table two letters:

“The Vicarage,



February, 188


I am exceedingly distressed to learn of your misfortune. You will do me the justice to remember that I gave only a reluctant and conditional assent to my daughter’s engagement to you. Of course that must now be absolutely and finally broken. I trust the dear girl may be given strength to bear this fearful trial, and I hope that your future may be brighter than present prospects indicate.

Yours faithfully,


“The Vicarage,



Papa insists that I endorse his words. What else can I do? I am so sorry, but there seems no other way. And, after all, I’m sure I should not have made you the wife you ought to have. With best wishes,


“Humph!” said the Rev. Denis Caird.

“There’s nothing lacking on the score of lucidity anyway. Anything else?”

“Merely this,” said Edward, bitterly, as he handed a newspaper to his visitor.

“A marriage has been arranged, and will shortly be solemnised, between Mr. George Wright, of Thoresby Manor, Lincs, and Eleanor, only child of the Very Reverend Archdeacon St. Clair, of Caistorholm Vicarage, Lincs.”

“Ah, well!” said Mr. Denis; “there’s an end of that chapter anyway.”

“With your permission we’ll drop these precious letters carefully into that not very cheerful fire of yours. It’s simply mawkish sentimentality keeping them by you to gloom over. I don’t know the lady, but it seems to me she knew what she was talking about when she said she wasn’t quite the kind of wife you want. A fair-weather sort of mate isn’t quite the sort of mate for a shipwrecked mariner. And so, because you’ve got two nasty slaps in the face from that fickle jade, Dame Fortune, you coop yourself up in this dingy hole, read Omar Khayyam and that rot, and drink yourself into a fool’s paradise or a sot’s oblivion, by way of mending matters. I thought you were made of better stuff, Beaumont, and that’s a fact. Why, man alive, if you’ve no more backbone in you than that comes to Eleanor St. Clair’s well rid of you, or any other decent woman for that matter.”

“Oh, yes, I’m down, jump on me,” said Beaumont, savagely.

“It’s time somebody did jump on you to some purpose. I’ve no patience with you, man. Why, it’s just such nasty knocks as those that test a man. Life’s a fight for the best of us, a stand-up fight, shoulders squared, knees braced, fists clenched, lips tight-pressed, and eyes intent and steadfast. A fight not with your fellow-man, to see which can down the other, that’s a poor business, but with the world, the flesh, and the devil. What sort of a fighter do you call the man who, on the first knockout, lies grovelling in the saw-dust, bleating for mercy? he’s not the man you put your money on. No, it’s the little game one who never knows when he’s beaten, that takes his gruel kindly, and is up on his feet after a breathing space, bruised and stricken, if you like, but eager for another round, and another, and still another, so long as he’s a leg to stand on. Now, you’ve had your breathing space. Look on me, if you like, as the man who brushes the saw-dust off your clothes, sponges your brow, gives you a knee, and bucks you up generally for another set-to. I want to see you in the ring again. Are you willing, or is it to be whiskey and Omar Khayyam, till the inevitable end, a leap over Westminster Bridge into the Thames, or the Workhouse? I could almost quote Scripture to you: ‘See, I have set before thee this day life and good, death and evil. Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.’”

For a long time there was silence between the men. Edward leaned with his elbows upon his knees, gazing into the dull embers of the fire, the minister watching him anxiously. Then Beaumont rose and stretched out his hand.

“I choose life,” he said. “Show me the way.”

“There is only one way, Beaumont. There never has been, never will be, anyway but one. It is the Via Crucis—the way of the Cross. It is a way that was before Gethsemane, though men knew it not as they may know it now, if they but will. And you may put your foot on that way to-night, this very moment. What are you going to do with that whiskey bottle? You can’t carry that sort of luggage on the Via Crucis?”

“There’s the sink,” said Edward.

“Precisely, there’s the sink, and here goes for the sink and the sewer and the rats. And those letters?”

“There’s the fire.”

“Exactly. Let the dead past bury its dead, or as burial is not convenient for letters, here’s for cremation. And Omar Khayyam?”

“In with him.”

“Now we breathe a purer air. Now put on your hat and coat and come with me to a place I wot of where you can get the juiciest steak in all London town, with fried onions and roast potatoes and a cup of very decent coffee, piping hot. And then we’ll talk of things, and I may be able to put you in the way of doing a bit of useful work and earning a modest shilling or two by doing it. And that’s something to be thankful for in this vale of tears, I can tell you.”



Denis Caird was as good as his word, and better. He stuck to Beaumont like a leech. In those hours of depression that always come to him who has abandoned alcoholic stimulant—those hours in which every fibre of the being seems to clamour for the wonted drug, the good clergyman was to Beaumont a man and a brother, cheering him, rallying him, exhorting him, appealing to all the better forces of his nature, and aiding him in the bitter fight, till, after anxious months, both could feel the victory was won.

And Beaumont got work, work to his heart’s desire, work for his pen and work for what gift of speech he had.

“Go into the slums, go to the bottommost pit in this London hell,” said Mr. Caird. “Go and see for yourself what the teaching of your Omar Khayyam makes of men and women. See human beings turned into beasts and devils by yielding to the beast and devil latent within every man and every woman. You believe in evolution, you say. Well, what has made men and women only a little lower than the angels? Why, nought but myriads of years of beating down Satan under their feet, beating down the animal basis on which the moral and the spiritual superstructure is reared. Go, learn your lesson, and then, and not till then, with pen and tongue preach your lesson. I’m a Socialist, you know I am. But ere ever the masses enter into their kingdom of economic justice, ere ever they win the full heritage of their toil, I pray and labour that they may be worthy of that kingdom and of that heritage, that they may learn the right use of wealth; else will all their gains be but added curses.”

And Beaumont went into the slums, and their teaching sank deep into his soul. And in his goings he met time after time that sweet and winsome maiden whom he had first seen, years ago, in circumstances how different, in his office in Huddersfield—Gertrude Fairfax, Sister Gertrude. He saw her move, a ministering angel, among the foul purlieus, the noxious dens, speaking to Women from whose touch Respectability plucked its skirts, saw her indeed touch pitch without being defiled, a serene and wholesome presence before which sin slunk abashed away, and e’en the drunkard forbore to curse.

And seeing her thus almost daily, old memories died away, the carking bitterness left his heart, and it was filled again with the image of a woman whom to love was a liberal education and a holy cult in one.

The last scene of this story shall not open under the fogs nor ’mid the slums of hideous London. Come with me, gentle reader, to that goodly mansion by Stafford town, where dwell Mistress Jane Fairfax and her niece Gertrude. It is the month of leafy June, the skies are blue o’erhead, the air sweet and soft and warm, and the garden of Cromwell House is rich in verdure and in bloom, and redolent of the choicest perfumes distilled by that cunningest of all alchemists—Dame Nature. There is a bower there with rustic seat, a bower all garlanded with roses sweetly breathing, with clematis and wild convolvulus, and a purling brook alive with darting troutlet babbles by. And there are seated side by side the heroine of this story and Edward Beaumont.

“I have something to give you, Mr. Beaumont, that I think belongs to you. Let me first tell you how it came to my hands. You had a clerk, had you not, called Barnes?”

“I had.”

“Well, he came to a sad end, poor fellow. Drifted to London, took to evil courses, and died in great straits. I was by his bed when the end drew near. He remembered my being at your office, when you defended Pat Sullivan. He had tried to find you. He confessed he had abstracted this paper from your office, thinking he might make money by it, if a reward were offered for its recovery. I promised if ever I met you to restore it to you, and the man seemed easier for the promise.”

Beaumont wondering opened the document she handed to him.

“By Jove!” he cried, “the missing valuer’s certificate for Midgley’s mortgage. Why, I’ve searched high and low for this. What would I not have given for this precious bit of paper that night in Stafford Town Hall when I got that awful telegram. You were there, you tell me. If I’d only had this then! But it’s better as it is, much better. Don’t you think God schemes for us better than we can scheme for ourselves? A man need have long visions to scan the ways of God.”

“I don’t think, I know. But why do you ask that question just now?”

“Why, you see, Gertrude, if I may call you so, if I had had this paper I should probably have made a fight and struggled on in the law. And if I had, it seems to stand to reason I shouldn’t have been here!”

“No; you’d have been happily married by this to Eleanor St. Clair!”

“Who is much more happily married to George Wright, and I am free to say what say I must before I leave for London and my work. Can’t you guess what it is I would say, Gertrude? I’m not much of a man to offer to any woman, but such as I am I love you, Gertrude. I’m poor, you are rich or will be; I’m tainted, you are pure, unsullied. But, there, I think you know me as I am. Say, Gertrude, is there in your heart any tiny seedling of love for me that time and the warmth of my love may woo to life and growth?”

Edward had risen and now stood before the girl to whom he pleaded, who drooped her eyes before the ardour of his gaze, her bosom fluttering ’neath her modest dress like a prisoned bird that beats its bars, the rich colour suffusing the pale brow and cheeks.

“I think I have loved you, Edward, since that day in the Police Court. Oh! it nearly broke my heart when I heard how sadly you had fallen from what I dreamed you might be, and shall from what, God willing, you may be yet.”

“And you will help, Gertrude?”

“Aye, that I will.” And she rose and placed her hands in his and spake to him as Ruth the Maobitish damsel, spake to Naomi, and as Edward drew her to his breast and kissed the lips that met his he murmured: “The Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”

And this is the end of my story, and yet but the real beginning of the lives that were joined before God’s altar by the Rev. Denis Caird. The wedding presents were neither costly nor numerous, but they included one from Eleanor St Clair, now Lady Wright, for that ambitious matron never rested till she saw her spouse a member for the Louth division, and, once in Parliament, that gentleman wisely refrained from speech, “never thought of thinking for himself at all, but always voted at his party’s call” ; and in due time the Premier of the day, yielding, it was said, to the blandishments of that brilliant leader of society, Mrs. George Wright, rewarded him with a baronetcy.

And what of Miss Amelia Wrigley and her amorous Sam? Alas! that lady never realised her modest ambitions. Mr. Storth prospered, as indeed he deserved to prosper, in the profession of his choice; but much beer, added to a plethoric habit and a choleric temperament, induced an apoplectic seizure from which he never rallied, and Miss Wrigley still lives in maiden meditation, if not fancy free, still to be wooed and won.