Page images


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

he would have expressed it, more than two or three minutes to bit wummicky.” There was also

There was also don them. Next came the socks; a queer sense of oppression about his clogs and wide-awake were in his chest, but he congratulated the hall below; out of the room himself on the fact that his cough now, and down the stairs. “Lord!” had altogether ceased. Joe crossed how that lazy Tom snored! Joe the room, pausing to peer through could even hear him through his the unshuttered window. What closed door. There were the clogs, a glorious morning! golden and and yonder the hat; cautiously silver with sunshine and dew. Joe withdrew the bolts of the What a sky! cloudless save for back-door, standing at last under the rosy and purple streaks at the the free air of heaven. He made horizon. The new - budded trees one or two faltering steps forwere stirring in the morning ward, and paused, hat in hand, breeze; yonder in the field the his head tilted a little backwards

; dairy.cows were trooping through that the breezes lifted his the glistening grass to the gate, ragged grey hair. His eyes were awaiting milking-time. This was sparkling, his lips parted in a long a morning truly for folks to lie breath of rapture. abed, with such a piece of business “Coom, now, I'm a mon again !” awaiting them too as the breaking he muttered, and thumped his up of the Sunnyfields ! Eh, if chest. "Ay, I can feel mysel Joe were only able to go out- wick.”

A sudden idea struck him. The old yard-dog came limping Why should he not go out? Why to his feet, fawning on him with should he lie there just because extravagant joy. Joe stooped and Mary and the doctor said so? patted him. " Ay, Laddie, there's

Mary was not likely to know life i' th' owd mon yet! we're noan better than her own father when done for yet, neither of us! Coom, all was said and done; and as we'll have a bit of a do together for the doctor, "young whipper- afore onybody else is stirrin!"

. snapper," as Richard said, who He crossed the yard with feeble was he to be ordering about a heavy steps, and opened the stableman of seventy-six ? Why, what door. A gust of warm air greeted Joe wanted was a good brisk him, the familiar aroma being as walk, with a beefsteak and a incense to his nostrils. tumbler of something hot when There they stood, the great sleek he came in.

beasts — Blossom and Daisy and “He doesn't understand my Prince and Di'mond; thriving and constitootion,” said Joe, emphat- hearty, every one, their shaggy ically; “thot's where it is-and

manes plaited, their broad backs I'll ston' no more o’this mak' o' groomed till they shone, a simulwork!"

taneous rattling and banging of Creaking across the floor he ropes and weights sounding as went, moving unwieldily on tip- they lifted their heads to look toe. There were his clothes in round at the

Joe the cupboard- the familiar folds made straight for his favourite and creases of the well-worn gar- mare, bestowing one or two rements greeting him like smiles on sounding caresses on her round the face of an old friend. His dappled flank; then going close fingers were stiff and trembling; up to her he fairly took her head but for all that, it did not take in his arms.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Eh, Blossom !” he said, “thou’rt stare! He'd scarce know what t here, arto? Coom, arto fain to see mak' on't." mester? I welly believe the poor

He walked a little faster now, owd lady knows me! Theer, Blos- upheld by his inward excitement, som, theer!

and further exhilarated by the Keeping one arm still round the brisk keen morning air. The creature's neck, he laid his cheek hedgerow beside him, white in against her soft nose, whimpering patches with blossoming blacka little, and uttering inarticulate thorn, or sown with little folded phrases of endearment as the mare green-tipped leaf-buds, was all whinnied back. But recovering asheen with glistening drops. himself after a moment or two, he Birds rose twittering from it as brushed his coat-sleeve across his he passed; yonder on a newly eyes, and began to unfasten the fledged elder sapling a thrush animal's headstall.

was singing: a delicious smell of " Thou an' me's bahn to do a bit moist and fresh- bruised grasses o' wark afore breakfast,” he ob- greeted his nostrils as the heavy served. “Eh, an' Prince too. Ay, feet of Blossom and Prince fell lad, we's addle our mate this mor- rhythmically on the strip of sod nin'.”

that bordered the lane. The ditch One by one the horses came alongside was golden with marshclattering forth, harnessed, ready mallows flaming in the morning for the plough. Joe followed, sunshine. Beyond the hedge lay staggering but determined, and the Sunny fields, the yellowish Laddie brought up the rear, sniff- mossy surface of the wide exing uneasily at his master's heels, panse veiled, as it were, in parts, and turning up his old white with ethereal greyish green. The muzzle inquiringly from time to unreal aspect thus produced by time, as though to intimate his the heavy dew was broken here suspicion that something and there by streaks of darker amiss. But Joe's face beamed green, where the rabbits or pheasagain with the rapture and triumph ants had left tracks. At one end of his new - found freedom, and of the field two long narrow brown when the little company had stripes marked the scene of Tom's crossed the yard, and passed labours of the preceding day. Joe through the gate, and found them- glanced at them contemptuously selves fairly in the sandy lane from time to time, and when they which led to the Sunnyfields, he reached the gate, and entered the uttered a quavering whoop of joy. field, he paused, the better to con

Coom, Blossom, lass, we'n sider them. stolen a march on 'em for once “Jist same as Richard said," 'as how 'tis ! We'll put 'em all to he observed with a disgusted air, shame yonder! Ho! ho! theer'll “not a straight line between 'em ! be a bonny to-do when our Mary Coom, Prince an' Blossom, we's wakkens and finds 'at I've flitted ! show 'em what we can do. Coom, My word, Tom will be ashamed to we's start o' this side o' field so's look me i' th' face, I should think, Tom can see a bit of the better when he sees me wortchin'! It'll mak' o' work." larn him to lay abed, th' lazy lout! There lay the plough under the Now, Prince, step out, lad ! eh, hedge. With a good deal of pantI could wishowd Richard could ing, and at the cost of more fatigue see me!

How th' owd lad would than he would have cared to own,



Joe fastened the horses to it and whines as though to attract his began operations.

attention. “Now then! steady! off we go.” · Well, an' what dosto want,

Off they went, the ploughshare eh ?” he said, looking back lazily. cutting into the sod with unerring "Poor fellow, thou’rt lame enough! accuracy, Joe plodding behind, Wilto have a ride?" crooning some old-time ditty for But the dog, turning, hobbled a very lightness of heart. The far- few steps in the contrary directher end of the field was reached, tion, and with a piteous backward and Blossom and Prince strained glance whined again. their huge limbs as the plough Why, it's Laddie, I believecreaked round. Now down they Laddie o' th’ Gate Farm ! What came, cutting a parallel line a few brings thee here? Hasto lost thy paces from the other; then they road? Coom, jump in wi' thee, , turned once more, Joe's feet sink- an' we's bring thee awhoam ing deep into the uncovered earth. again." He was not singing now, for his He pulled up, patting his knee breath came rather short, and it and whistling; but Laddie did not required all his energy and re-approach. solution to withstand a gathering Well, then, stay theer if thou sense of weakness. The end of wonnot,” ejaculated Richard, irrithe field was regained, however, tably; and he whipped up his and, throwing down the reins, he pony, leaving the dog standing drew himself up and looked back, mournfully in the road, its tail rubbing his hands and chuckling drooping, its face wistful. faintly. There was

a furrow ! Farmer Woodcock glanced back clean and shapely—and straight and shook his head. as a dart.

“Soombry's bin ill-usin' yon poor “Theer, Mester Tom, match me beast,” he muttered. “I've a mind thot if thou con! Coom, Blossom, to go round by Orrells' an' tell Joe we's rest a bit, and then we'll be about it. It's a shame-as faithful gettin' on again."

as it's allus bin!” He walked to the horses' heads, He turned back, Laddie hobflinging an arm about the neck of bling eagerly forward, and preeach. Laddie, who had been pac- ceding the gig for some little way; ing up and down in his wake, now but when they reached the lane squatted on his haunches, survey. which led to the Sunnyfields the ing the scene with a grave and animal again paused, barking. judicial air. Suddenly he sprang

Richard, looking over the hedge, forward. Joe's head had sunk on discerned the plough and team of his chest, his hands were slipping horses motionless in the far corner: slowly from the supporting crests, no driver was to be seen. and all at once he fell heavily to “ Well, to be sure! Did anythe ground almost under Blossom’s body iver hear owt so knowin'? feet.

The poor brute's fur tellin' me as

horses is left stonnin’’ere wi' nobry Old Richard Woodcock, com- to see to 'em. He knows th' owd fortably jogging along the road gaffer 'ud niver ha' had sich doin's. an hour or so later, became sud- It ’ull be yon wastril, Will’um o' denly aware that an old collie th' Lone End-Mester Tom's too dog was limping after his low lazy t' be agate himsel so early, — trap, uttering snuffling barks and it ’ull be Will’um, for sure, on the Ah,




fuddle again! Theer, Laddie, we's theer a two-three minutes ago. see to’t, mon! Hie thee yon, an' He's started ploughin'-eh, he's ston' by they 'orses till soombry a gradely owd chap! he would cooms. Ha, ha! how th' poor 'ave a finger i th' poy, see'n yo'? owd fellow hobbles off! Now he's Thot's where he is—an' Laddie wi’ lookin' back. Reet, mon, I'm bahn bim. Laddie coom runnin' arter to fetch soombry."

my trap — quite takken-to, poor He drove on, smiling to himself, dog! he knowed his mester and, turning into the yard of the oughtn't to ha' bin theer, an' he Gate Farm, hallooed sturdily for coom runnin' and yowlin' arter me Tom.

to fetch me to him. I But his face changed when Mary, Blossom an' Prince mysel.” rushing out pale and distracted, an- “Eh, but did yo' see feyther?” nounced that her father was no- cried Mary; "it's enough to gi' where to be found ; and Tom, com- him his death, it is. Did yo'noan ing up breathless from the stack- see nobory theer, Mester Woodyard, added that he had hunted cock ?” everywhere he could think of about No, Richard had certainly not the place, and could not find a trace seen anybody. The jubilant exof him.

pression left his face, and he “ He connot ha' gone far," wept looked from one to the other with Mary. " As wake as a kitlin he a kind of fear, All began runwas,—it's more a fortneet ning, by a common impulse, in the sin' he took to 's bed, an' he hasn't direction of the Sunnyfields, Mary bin out o'th' 'ouse all winter." leading the way.

Old Dick flung the reins on the “Yon's th' 'orses,” gasped Tom, pony's back, and climbed out of breathlessly, “an' yon's Laddie." the trap, his face redder than ever “Eh-what !-what's thot o'th' with consternation.

ground theer?” cried the woman, “Eh !” he said, “e-e-eh! straining her eyes. Poor owd lad! Wheer con he ha' Almost under the horses' feet getten to?

I allus thought yo'lay a dark heap, which Laddie was too 'ard wi' him-yo' kept sniffed and pulled at, but which him shut up too fast. He's bruk did not move, even when every loose fur onst—thot's what he's now and then Blossom, craning done!”

forward her long neck, touched it Just then “ Will’um o'th' Lone with her pendulous under-lip. End,” with his eyes starting out Mary stopped suddenly, clutchof his head, but otherwise to all ing her husband's arm, and Richard appearances as sober as ever he pushing past her, hastened forhad been in his life, came running ward. from the stable, announcing that “Mate!” he cried, and fell Blossom and Prince were stolen. a-sobbing. It never occurred to the honest There lay his old crony, prone fellow to connect their disappear- on the upturned soil, his grey ance with that of his master; but head pillowed on the dewy sod, Richard Woodcock clapped his and a smile of triumph still on hands together.

his upturned face; and yonder “Why !” he cried, “th’owd stretched his last furrow, clearlad's takken them—thot's what cut and straight, cleaving the field he's done. He's takken them off from end to end. to Sunnyfields !-I see 'em mysel'


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Sone half a century ago the late well on its way, my lady appeared Dr Scoresby - formerly Captain on deck again. How she achieved

Scoresby of the Arctic Seas it we do not know, unless she had used to tell a story of a soiree to changed clothes with one of the which he had once been invited in sailors. The captain was now helpParis at the house of the celebrated less and compelled to surrender, savant, M. Arago. The company and, in spite of the navy regulaembraced an extraordinary group tions, his plucky wife circumnaviof travellers. Scoresby himself gated the globe. bad at that time been nearer the But since her day we have had north pole than any navigator, so lady travellers whose adventurous that it was quite natural that he spirit has defied far more formidshould be introduced to the sailor able powers than the French Adwho had been nearer to the south. miralty-defied hurricanes, shipThere were present likewise the wreck, arctic cold and darkness, aeronaut who had reached the and all other dangers and discomhighest point above, and the min- forts of the sea ; and by land, ing engineer who had penetrated fatigue, hunger and sickness, robto the greatest depth below the bers and extortioners, wild beasts, surface. But the star of the com- scorpions and mosquitoes, beat and pany was a lady—the only lady cold, filth and fever, besides the at that time who had circum- nameless terrors of savage races, navigated the globe. In accom- on whose whims they could not plishing this feat she had shown count, and whose greed and ferocity remarkable pluck. She had been shrank from no crime. In such married to a commander in the an age as this we need wonder at French navy, who, almost immedi- nothing that women will dare. In ately after, was ordered off on a some cases the impelling motive two-years' cruise round the world. may have been simply curiosity, The regulations of the service at coupled with the love of adventure. that time forbade any woman to But in other cases higher considerabe on board, though they must bave tions also have been at work. A been relaxed since then to allow genuine desire to add to our knowMiss Gordon Cumming to give us ledge of the earth and its people the story of 'A Lady's Cruise in has had a strong influence on some. a French Man-of-War. Madame, Others have been moved by a however, was determined not to philanthropic wish to improve the be balked of her marriage trip. condition of the race, both materiWhen the ship had made some ally and spiritually. The study of way, she astonished her husband their books has a double interest. one morning by appearing on deck. From a physical point of view it Loyal to his orders, he was obliged is interesting as exemplifying the to send her ashore, which he did fitness of women, or at least some at Madeira, and to make all sure, women, to rival the rougher sex he committed her to the charge of in a field which till now it has the French consul at Funchal. But monopolised. Intellectually it rea new surprise awaited him. Aveals the features of life and scenery few days later, when the ship was that most attract the female eye,



« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »