« VorigeDoorgaan »
up however, and listening, for the instinct of music was strong in her nature, and the song made her feel less lonely.
Just beyond the corner of the house was a bank on which she saw the little green lamp hung out by a glowworm for her winged spouse: she went a few steps out under the trees, and as she stooped to pick it up, she heard the click of the little wicket-gate, as Teazer, Everhard's Scotch terrier, wisest and most solemn of dogs, laid his paw on the latch as was his wontopened it for himself, and came gravely up to salute her. Presently she heard her uncle's voice,
"What, so you've come back, young 'un!" Job always considered his dignity involved in treating Everhard rather majestically. "I thowt you'd pretty nigh done with us."
"I've been at Seaford this fortnight," replied he. There was business there in the ship-office, and I was wanted. I saw Ned just before I came away, and I've brought a parcel from him for your niece." Lettie was in the archat but now, under the Welsh nuts" (walnuts), said the sapient Job. 66 Here, child," he called out, "you come here in no time; 'tain't often as a handsel comes to the Woodhouse, for whomsoever it may be."
And Lettice came shyly up to the little gate, on the other side of which stood Everhard and her uncle.
He drew the small packet out of some inner pocket and held it out to her; when she took it, however, he did not leave his hold, but kept both her hand and it.
Lettice scarcely knew what to do -" because it will look as if I were in such a hurry if I pull it," reasoned she to herself: "and if I leave go 'twill seem as I were vexed."
Mark Giles were just a-saying to me as he didn't know what to do wi' the nets and rods, we were such a mortal long time without hearin' aught on ye," observed Job. "Have you thought it a long while, Lettie ?" said Everhard, in a low voice, leaning over the gate toward her, and without answering Job.
Lettice was silent, and hoped that it was too dark to see her tell-tale blushes.
"What are ye doing out there, Lettice, wasting o' yer time o' this fashion, and that spikenard all littering about in the windowseat, and yer uncle's plate and glass not set by yet? Come in directly, child, I want to shut up," cried her grandmother, sharply, at the open door.
Now Lettice had been hard at work the whole day, and the bits of lavender which she had laid out to dry to put with her un
cle's shirts did nobody any harm: so that this reflection on her housewifeliness, before the only stranger she had ever known, seemed to her to be cruel. She wrung away her hand hastily, and went into the house, with the tears in her eyes.
"What call has mother crying out like. that?" soliloquized Job. Why, the little lass 'ud run herself off of both her feet to pleasure a body, that's what she would. She's a good little maid, as does her duty by all folk."
But Lettice did not hear her defender. "What's that you've got there in your hand?" said her grandmother; "and who was you talking to out there by the wicket ?"
Lettice half unconsciously unfolded her parcel as an answer and a protection against overmuch questioning.
'Uncle Ñed sent it as a present by Mr. Everhard, from Seaford," she said, slowly.
"And so that young fella's come back again, whipping of the water day after day; and a pretty way of spendin' his time for an immortal soul, that is! And what call has Ned for to send you blue ribins for yer hat, I'd like to know? Such waste! and you that goes nowhere," went on Mrs. Wynyate, looking with much disgust at the obnoxious bit of silk as she locked the door.
And I don't like that new afternoon frock of yourn: there's too much white in it; I telled ye so when you bought it," added she, in an annoyed tone, looking at Lettice with a disapproving snort.
It was a most innocent pale blue and white cotton; but somehow she could not help everything which she put on partaking of the dainty look of her own little person; and she certainly looked a great deal too pretty for her grandmother's theories.
Nay, mother," said Amyas, who came up, "I like her to be so trim and neat; 'tain't much that's pretty as we've got about the house to look at, as we can afford to do without Lettie's frock." And he stroked her head fondly as they all went upstairs to bed.
When Lettice had put out her light she looked through the open lattice once more into the night, and saw a dark shadow still moving under the old trees, and crept away half frightened in her coy, shy way, instead of leaning out of the window; and then lay awake for hours thinking what "it" meant and "he" meant, and the " meaning" of the world in general.
and although she took great pains to tell her body to go about its business faithfully, her soul was not, as it ought to have been, among her preserving-pots, but wandering about somewhere outside by the river, or wherever Everhard might be at that mo
"I can't think what ails ye, child, today," said Mrs. Wynyate, in an aggrieved tone. Are ye grown dunch all of a sudden? Why, I telled ye three times as the black currant warn't to go in them jars."
Lettice blushed guiltily: she knew only too well that she had been listening intently for another voice, and could not hear her grandmother's. It was quite late in the morning before she had done her work: when suddenly seeing a fight going on between Teazer and her own particular white kitten, she ran out to the rescue on the green before the house. Teazer was a serious dog, a high-minded dog, but he was not above the delight of tormenting a kitten; he was getting rather the worst of the battle, however, when she took up the indignant little spitfire, although he danced barking round her, as if he was being defrauded of his prey.
"Lettice," said Teazer's master, in a low voice, from behind the cedar (he was certainly as much to blame as his dog in the attack on her pet), "won't you come into the orchard?"
Now it happened that Wallcott, passing near the Woodhouse, took it into his head that day to come and look after his son's very pertinacious fishing: he had been a good deal pleased at Everhard's going so much to the place, as it seemed in his eyes like a proof of his future ownership, and it was not that he suspected mischief of any kind: he had never seen Lettice with the eyes of his mind, whatever he might have done with those of his body; he had a sort of notion that there was a 66 woman child" at the Wynyates', but that was all. He liked, however, spying into by-places where he was not expected, and finding out secret ways they were often useful to him in his business. He put up his horse at a little wayside inn not far off and walked up, and as he came quietly in near the gate into the orchard he stumbled on another listener, the blind man, who almost ran against him in suddenly turning the corner of some farm-buildings.
They thinks as I can't see 'um," said the old man in his exultation, not regarding to whom he might be speaking; "but I heerd 'um pass all one as if I did, he and she too, into the archat."
"Who, you old fool ?" said Wallcott, in
an angry tone of command. He smelt mischief; here was a secret which he had not bargained for.
"Our young missis," answered the old man, reluctantly, and with a sudden chill, as he felt that he had let out what ought not to have been told to a mere stranger.
"And who was with her?" repeated the other, angrily.
The old man was silent.
"I will know," said Wallcott, taking hold of his staff and shaking it.
'The young 'un as is down fishing,” replied the trembling old man, in great distress at what he had done.
Wallcott strode on with an oath toward the orchard; but he changed his mind, and turned to the house.
"So that's your game, Wynyate?" he cried, in his loud insolent voice, to Amyas whom he found at the door. "Luring my son on in this way, and thinking that'll pay your debts, I'll be bound. You're quite out there, and she too, I can tell ye. It's a burning shame!"
Amyas looked so completely at sea that it would have convinced any one less prejudiced how entirely innocent he was.
Now don't you pretend not to understand. Where's yer niece at this minnit?" "I'm sure I can't tell," said Amyas, striving to be calm.
"She and Everhard are making love in the orchard, confound 'um! Come and see for yourself."
"Then it ain't more to my pleasure nor yours that she's aught to do with him," said Amyas, with an expression almost of disgust as they both hurried across the green shaven sward.
And Everhard had just said to Lettice, as with the white kitten in her arms they sauntered down under the bright flickering lights and shadows in the shadiest part of the grove, near the deep quiet pools,“ Lettie, I've been away to try and see plain into my own feeling, and whether I could manage to live without you, my darling" (with the unconscious selfishness whereby a man often considers that his share in the concern is the only really important part of the matter); "but," he went on, "you've got my heart too tight in your little hand for me to disentangle. Give me your own instead, my little one."
And Lettice blushing from head to foot, as it seemed to her, turned away from him, for the flowers and the birds and the wind all seemed to her, to be telling her secret, and to be whispering, "You know you've got it already;" and as he drew her toward him she raised her eyes, with the shy fawn
look in them, and he seemed to read it there too. "At least it's gone away from me," she put in.
And the two delinquents stood, her hand in his and the smile gathering on her face, too much engrossed with each other to see the storm approaching-when, instead of the answer which each expected, two angry voices at the same moment began:
66 Lettice, come here to me directly. How can you have anything to do with that fellow?"
And Wallcott's furious, "I'll tell yer what, sir; I'll disown yer for my son unless ye come off instantly. A lot of scheming ruined cheats, trying to make a market out on ye."
In the first surprise they had drawn a little apart, but Everhard took hold once more of her hand as he answered, "If there's been any scheming, it's been mine to win her. I'll give her up for no hard
I won't have ye stay to hear such things said by any man. Come away with me, Lettie."
The bewildered girl looked from one to the other in utter dismay.
knave. He's got a rope round my neck, and he tells me to my face I'm saving myself by dragging in his son to marry ye. I'd rather see ye in yer coffin, Lettie, before ye wedded with such as he."
"But he said he'd soon set all right with his father about the mortgage, as you shouldn't be troubled," said Lettice pitifully.
"I want none of his charity; let him mind his own business and keep hisself to hisself. Set all right indeed! I should like to see Wallcott's face when he offered to meddle wi' such matters! Don't ye see, Lettie, he's just playing wi' ye; how he went off when his father drove him like a sheep. Why didn't he speak up more to his face, if he really cared for ye?"
"What were all that row about?" said Job, coming up from the other side as they returned to the house. "I heerd ye hollering and squealing all over the farm."
"It were that fellow Wallcott's son as has been making up to Lettie," answered Amyas, much excited. "Of all the men that's in the world the very last as should have anything to do with her."
"Well, and what's the harm o' him?" answered Job, philosophically.
"And then Wallcott flings it in my teeth that I'm a-drawing and wiling in his son to marry her to set matters straight as 'twere about the money?"
"Well, and what did that sinnify? Where could he find a better? Ain't she as good a lass as any man need have? and the young 'un can throw a line as neat as any one I e'er come across; he were as sharp as a needle t'other day arter the rabbits, and he'd make her a good husband!" Amyas almost smiled. "Well, we need not argufy it; Wallcott'll no more let it be than he'd fly, nor I neither."
"I'll be true to you, be true to me," said Everhard, in a low voice, as his father almost drove him before him in the other direction. He had been a spoilt child all his life in his weakly days his mother would not allow him to be crossed, and as he grew up his father's pursuits and tastes were so opposed to his that they hardly ever came into collision. He had often seen Wallcott in a passion, but never before with him, his only child, the object of his pride and ambition. He had fancied that in anything on But why not, Amyas?" persisted Job. which he really set his heart his father"The young 'un always said as how he'd would quickly yield, and was so utterly circumvent his father and keep him quiet confounded and astonished at this vehemence along o' the mortage, and that 'ud be a of indignation, that he suffered himself to terrible fine thing for you." be led off in a way which confirmed Amyas's dislike and his feeling that the young man was only trifling with Lettice for the amusement of his idle time.
"And that's just what I don't choose, to set Lettie's love barter like for the money on the farm. But what's the use o' talking? you can't odds it with me nor with Wallcott neither."
Lettice looked from one to the other in a maze of surprise and misery.
"You're a silly fella, Job," interposed Mrs. Wynyate, who had come up and was looking out of the low window as they stood just outside the house, but had listened hitherto in silence. "Don't ye see Wallcott's one who'd sooner leave his money to the pigs if his son married to dis
oblige him? You're quite out in yer reck- helped in firing. In the afternoon he met oning. Excuse the mortgage! he'd sooner Lettice going sadly about her work. by far see him a beggarman for crossing him."
Lettice wandered upstairs and sat down in her little room, tearless and hopeless; thefrost in June," as it were, had fallen upon her garden in full bloom. 66 Ye should have seen mother," said Amyas, who hardly ever utto the girl, tered a syllable of blame to her. 66 ever could How let her make free with that you fellow ?"
"I'm sure I'd no more thought of her o' that fashion nor the crows, and she such a child!" replied the grandmother angrily. "How old is she?" said Amyas.
Eighteen," answered Mrs. Wynyate, after some consideration.
"Sure her mother weren't such a very deal older, were she, when she took on wi' Norton Lisle ? "
"Scarce nineteen," sighed the old woman, with a host of melancholy recollections thronging over her. soon these young 'uns grows up, too; 'tis "It's queer how like the beanstalks, up ever so high when one's back's turned and one isn't looking. "Twere but yesterday, seems, as Lettice came to us ever such a little 'un, after that time her mother died!"
The old blind man had been anxiously wandering round the farm to see what had come of the match he had so unconsciously
"Well, little 'un, how's it all going?" is! I knows all about yon young chap, said he. "It's a proper job, that's what it more nor he thinks of, and o' all the folk as he comes on. My son Thomas were wi' the old 'un for to mind the horses and the placen he've ever a had." garden, and 'twere one of the hardest
"Tell me, Daniel," answered Lettice,
a family, and this as is his second wife had Ye see Wallcott were a widowman wi' a been married and had a child, and then there comes this 'un. So there were his'n, all died just one after another, like flies, and her'n, and their'n ye see. And they give a cristened child: but 'twere Wallcott's but Everhard; and a queer name it were to mother's maiden name, I've a heerd tell. as is the last chick they've got, and no end And they both sets no end of store on this, of money for him; and that's where 'tis: not if it were a princess born and bred. and they thinks naught's too good for him, Though for that matter, Joe's wife seed the King a-posting down to Weymouth wi the Queen likewise, years back, and she allays said as how she were an ugly old head, and her bonnet not much to speak on." thing, wi' not a mossel o' crown upo' her said poor Lettice, humbly. I know I'm not good enough for him,"
BY JOHN G. WHITTIER.
THE day's sharp strife is ended now,
Slow, doubtful, faint, they seem at first:
That signal from Nebraska sprung,
What strange, glad voice is that which calls
From The Spectator.
WILL EMIGRATION LAST?
There are still a thousand millions of acres unsurveyed, but much of this is unsuitable for cultivation; the speculators are buying Most Englishmen are, we believe, under all the best blocks, and keeping them out of the impression that the wealth of the United the market; the farmers enclose larger and States in land is practically inexhaustible, larger pieces; farms of 20,000 acres are bethat no pressure for subsistence will be felt coming common; the Government grants there for centuries, that the surplus popula- are lavish; the stream of emigration contion of Europe may be drafted thither in stantly swells in volume, and Mr. Pearson comfort for generations. So strong is this declares it to be his opinion that twenty conviction, that we found upon it many of million more settlers added to the populaour laws and much of our social system, and tion of the Union will so far consume all the even statesmen will receive the idea that available land, that the exhaustion of the supemigration may prove a temporary phenom- ply will be visible, and land will at once enon in the history of Europe with a stare spring up to a price beyond the emigrants' of half-scornful surprise. Mr. Charles Pear-means. Already land is the favoured inson, the historian, who has recently been vestment of capitalists; small farms are travelling in the United States, and who bought up and thrown together, while the has made a special study of colonies, ven- sellers emigrate to the West and purchase tures to question the justice of these as- larger blocks than they owned before. sumptions. In an article in the Contempo- I read only the other day of two farmers in rary Review which we take to be one of the Nebraska who have fenced in a block of 23, most extreme specimens of over-condensa- 000 acres. Whether this substitution of tion ever published regular literary pem- large farms be due to the greater economy mican, to be eaten only in morsels, he in working them, or may be referred in advances the startling theory that emigra- some degree to the anxiety of all classes to tion to America may cease within twenty, hold land, though it be temporarily at a or even within ten years, that this genera- loss, it will none the less contribute to use tion may live to see that continent as little up the State domain. Wherever the farused to relieve Europe as Spain or Italy is mer goes, the land-jobber follows in his to relieve Great Britain. Nobody, however train, as the carrion-crow waits upon the poor, dreams of emigrating to Spain. We baggage-mule. The first settlers soon find cannot adhere to the order in which he has themselves enclosed by land which they marshalled his evidences, but their drift is could not purchase at first, which they must nearly as follows. The essential question buy after a time, and which they have to take to answer in this matter is not, When at enhanced rates from the speculator. It will the land of the Union be all ploughed is a general race for freehold property." up?" but, "When will it be all bought As the price of wheat is an international -a very different thing. The moment it is all bought up, the grand attraction to emigrants, the power of acquiring land for nothing, or next to nothing, will be at an end, the experience of the settled States showing that the price of land once allotted rises as in Europe, till the mere labourer has very little chance of obtaining any. "Settlers and land-jobbers pick out the eyes of the country,' to use an Australian phrase, the richest flats, the best pasturage, and the lands that lie along water-courses. I am told that in California, a new and not very populous State, it is already impossible to find good land on the public domain, and the emigrant has to buy at four-fold or six-fold prices from private speculators. California is only the extreme instance of what is taking place all over the Union. Except in part of Dakotah and in Wisconsin, there is not a State east of the Missouri where the best land has not already been preoccupied; and Kansas, west of the Missouri, is very fast filling up."
equation, dear land means cheap labour, monopolized land means labour paid in wages; and the land once divided, America will be face to face with our own social problems, and with a proletariat whose first demand may be, as in parts of Anstralia it is already, that immigration be discouraged. Emigration to the United States, the. great safety-valve of modern Europe, will, in fact, if this induction is correct, come to an end.
Of the general accuracy of Mr. Pearson's view there can, we think, be no question whatever. Some day or other the condition of affairs which he anticipates must arrive, if immigration continues, and the only point to be decided, or rather to be discussed, is the date at which the crisis is likely to arrive. Mr. Pearson thinks it is at hand, most people think it is centuries off, and the truth probably lies between the two extremes. Mr. Pearson has stated his reasons forcibly, and he has studied the subject in the Far West; but he has scarce