“I doubt it. He had no very near re- | has unreasonably estranged him, in a lations. The nearest was an old céliba- cloudless day of May,-if he be not haptaire of the same name, from whom he py enough to feel a brotherhood in all had some expectations, but who died things happy - a leaf in bloom, a bird in shortly after this esclandre, and did not song - then indeed he may call himself name the Vicomte in his will. M. Victor lover, but he does not know what is love. had numerous connections among the highest families the Rochebriants, Chavignys, Vandemars, Beauvilliers. But they are not likely to have retained any connection with a ruined vaurien, and

From Chambers' Journal. still less with a niece of his who was the

A “NAVVY” BALL. child of a drawing-master. But now you It came in the way of my work rehave given me a clue, I will try to follow cently to visit a colony of navvies enit up. We must find the Vicomte, and I gaged in the construction of the heaviest am not without hope of doing so. Par- portion of the works on the new line of don me if I decline to say more at pres- railway at present being made between ent. I would not raise false expectations. | Settle and Carlisle. The headquarters of But in a week or two I will have the hon this scattered colony are on the slope of our to call again upon Monsieur.”

an outlying buttress of Ingleborough “Wait one instant. You have really a Hill, at the foot of which is a deep hole hope of discovering M. de Mauléon ?" in the limestone, whence issues the head“Yes. I cannot say more at present." waters of the Ribble. From some old M. Renard departed.

legend of a suicide, this wild and savage Still that hope, however faint it might place bears the curious name of Battyprove, served to reanimate Graham ; and wife-hole. Three or four hundred navvies with that hope his heart, as if a load had are housed in the wooden huts, covered been lifted from its mainspring, returned with black felting, that have been set instinctively to the thought of Isaura. down at hap-hazard on to the slope above Whatever seemed to promise an early the river-head, and there are various setdischarge of the commission connected tlements bearing outlandish names bewith the discovery of Louise Duval stowed upon them by the navvies themseemed to bring Isaura nearer to him, or selves. Inkermann, Sebastopol, Belgraat least to excuse his yearning desire to via, Jericho, Salt Lake City — all these see more of her to understand her bet- can be reached with no greater exertion ter. Faded into thin air was the vague than half an hour's wade through the jealousy of Gustave Rameau which he had deep, treacherous, oozy bog of which so unreasonably conceived ; he felt as if much of the moorland is composed. it were impossible that the man whom the True, when reached, they are not much “Ondine of Paris ” claimed as her lover to look at, but they are racy of phases of could dare to woo or hope to win an that curious half-savage navvy life, which Isaura. He even forgot the friendship has in it so much that is interesting to with the eloquent denouncer of the mar- the student of the by-tracks of human riage-bond, which a little while ago had life. seemed to him an unpardonable offence : While staying in Batty-wife-hole, I behe remembered only the lovely face, so came acquainted with a family which I innocent, yet so intelligent ; only the shall call Pollen. The father had been a sweet voice which had for the first time navvy in his earlier days ; but having breathed music into his own soul ; only saved a little money, had set up a tommythe gentle hand whose touch had for the shop, and was making money. His wife first time sent through his veins the thrill was a robust, powerful, purposeful dame, which distinguishes from all her sex the of immense energy, considerable surfacewoman whom we love. He went forth roughness, and real genuine kindliness of elated and joyous, and took his way to heart. During my stay, I was indebted Isaura's villa. As he went, the leaves on to this burly navvy-woman for several the trees under which he passed seemed good turns, in connection with which stirred by the soft May breeze in sympa- there could be no thought of self-interest. thy with his own delight. Perhaps it was There was a married daughter who lived rather the reverse : his own silent delight in a caravan at the gable of the parental sympathized with all delight in awakening hut, and there were two unmarried daughnature. The lover seeking reconciliation ters, one an extremely pretty girl of about with the loved one from whom some trifle | twenty, the other considerably younger.

Pollen had taken a letter for me down evinced in subscriptions to sick funds to Ingleton, and in the afternoon I looked and doctors' bills ; clear-headed applicain to see whether he had come back. tion of labour to produce a definite result; His good lady reported his non-arrival, above all, a sense of the right that man adding -“ Afore we comed here, we and master alike have to fair-play and were on the 'Surrey and Sussex;' and honest dealing: all these virtues are to this morning, Betsy Smith, a lass as my be found in the kit of the navvy. He is daughter knowed there, comed here to see a man with whom there is some satisfacher mother, as is married on old Recks ; tion in working, and a man as to whom and my girls, they be to have a holiday you can attribute any failure in the for to spend wi' their old friend. Well, I attempt to elevate him into a position of bid them tighten themselves up a bit, and permanent comfort and respectability not tak' a basket, and go to the top of Ingle-to any inherent infirmity of nature, but to borough Hill, the three on 'em, for a day's want of early training, and to the potent 'scursion like ; and when they'd come influence of strong drink.” back, I'd have tea waitin' an' a cake, and The “lasses" had got down from InI'd get in a bottle or two of wine, and gleborough Hill, and were seated round we'd make a bit of a feast on't, you see, the huge coal-fire in Mrs. Pollen's keepsir, for the lasses mayn't see one another ing-room. It was a state occasion ; and no more in this here life.” It seemed as the six navvies, who are lodgers, were if I had achieved the footing of a friend relegated to their own sleeping-apartment, of the family; and Mrs. Pollen invited where I found Mr. Pollen, slightly the me, “if I would not think it beneath me,” | fresher from his journey to Ingleton, and to look in and participate in the modest having his hair cut by one of his lodgers festivities of the evening. Beneath me! prior to entering the sphere of gentility Why, it was the very thing I desired. in the other room. Mrs. Pollen was pain.

The navvy population of Batty-wife- fully polite, and her notions of my capacihole do not keep fashionable hours. ties for rashers of bacon eaten along with Half-past five was the hour named by buttered toast must have been based on Mrs. Pollen, and I was punctual. As I her experience of navvies. The young came up the road from the “Chum-hole,” | ladies were at first slightly distrait, but through Inkermann, to the mansion of Ingleborough air had given their appetite the Pollens, the face of the swamp in the a beautiful fillip. Mr. Pollen was bewatery twilight was alive with navvies on nignly jocose, with a slight tendency to their way home from work. They stalked hiccup. After tea, he entertained me carelessly through the most horrid cling- with an historical account of Batty-wifeing mire. What thews and sinews, what hole, from his first appearance in a van stately, stalwart forms, what breadth of on its soil, exactly three years previous. shoulder, and shapely development of Shortly afterwards, he said, “some chaps muscle were displayed by these home- came down to make experimental borings, coming sons of toil! The navvy is a and they had to bide wi' us in the wan, .very rough diamond; but when you come for there were nowheres else to bide. All to mix with him familiarly, and to under-that winter there were ten of us living in stand him, you come to realize that he is that van, and a tight fit it were, surely. a diamond. His character has never Of a night I used to have to stand by it been more accurately delineated than in for half an hour with the bull's-eye as a the words which I venture to quote, I guide to the men home-coming through written by an engineer who knows him to the waste. Sometimes one would stick, his very marrow. “The English navvy and his mates would have to dig him out; has his bad points. Very bad points, there were two chain o' knee-deep water they are, no doubt, but, as a rule, they four times a day for the fellows atween have all a common origin. The fountain their meat and their work. of all, or almost all, the troubles of an “It were a winter! The snow lay on English employer of this description of the backs of the hill-sheep for two months labour is the ale-can. But with these at a stretch, and many on 'em were frozen bad points there are many elements of as hard as a chip. But we got over it the true pith and ring of the English somehow; and in the spring, Recks and character. Industry like that of the bee- me built this cottage, and the works behive; sturdy toil such as that which was gan in fair earnest. There's been a good commanded by the builders of the pyra- many deaths — what with accidents, low mids, or the brick-building kings of Nine- fevers, small-pox, and so on. I've buried veh; firm fellowship and good feeling, 'three o' my own. I'm arter a sort the "undertaker of the place. You passed the lodgers. Sundry smothered and gasping little church down at Chapel-a-dale, near squeakings of a fiddle had been audible the head of the valley. Well, in the three lately from that apartment, the sounds years I've toted over a hundred of us being suggestive of the existence of an down the hill to the little churchyard ly- assertive and pertinacious violin, upon ing round the church. T' other day I which the navvies were collectively sitting, had toted one poor fellow down - he sternly determined that while they lived, were hale and hearty on Thursday, and it should not violate the decorous quiet on Tuesday he were dead o'erinsipalis ; incumbent on lodgers whose respected and I says to the clerk as how I thought host and hostess were entertaining visitI had töted well nigh on to a hundred ors. The “lasses," I had noticed, were down over the beck to Chapel-a-dale. He yawning a little after tea, as if the hill-air goes, and has a look at his books, and of Ingleborough had induced a somnifercomes out, and says, says he: 'Joe, ous tendency. As the tap was heard at you've fetched to ť kirkyawd xactly a the door, a glance of mutual intelligence hundred and ten corps ! I knowed I and a smile of satisfaction passed round warn't far out. They've had to add a the younger · ladies, and in truth Mrs. piece on to t' churchyard, for it were Pollen herself did not frown as she chock-full. And there were one poor fel-called : “ Come in.” Enter a stalwart low I toted down the hill as don't lie in navvy, whose powerful frame contrasted Chapel-a-dale. It were the first summer comically with his shamefaced countewe were here, and a cutting had been nance. He was blushing from ear to ear, opened outside the Dents-head end of the yet there was a twinkle in the big black tunnel. Five men were in a heading as eye of the good-looking fellow that might was being driven in along the track of speak of a consciousness he was not altothe tunnel. There came on such a fear-gether taking a leap in the dark. He bore ful thunderstorm as nobody hereabout a message from the navvy brotherhood in ever saw the like afore or since. The end the other room. He craved humbly of of the cutting was stopped up, and the “ Mother Pollen" that he and they should water came tearing down the hillsides be admitted to participate in the festiviinto it, and soon filled it like the lock of ties of the evening, whereunto they ena canal. The chaps in the heading were gaged to contribute by instrumental and caught afore they could get out ; as the vocal music, replenishment of the refreshwater rose, three swam into the cutting, ments utterly regardless of cost, and good and tried to scramble out. As the water behaviour. Pollen pronounced at once rose, they got on a wagon that was in the for their admission. Mrs. Pollen only heading, and tried to prop themselves up stipulated for order; and the navvies between some barrels that were on it. trooped solemnly in, and seated themWe could just see one, the tallest on the selves on the extreme edge of a form. two- the face of him just above the Mrs. Pollen offered them wine, of which water, and his hands held afore his all ceremoniously partook; and then the mouth, to fend off the water that came | black-eyed navvy took Mrs. Pollen aside, lipping over him every now and then. an interview which resulted in the introHe could get no higher for the head of duction of a pail of strong ale and a botthe working, and it was horrible to see tle of whisky. The navvies were a dehim. But we were tearing like mad at cided acquisition. First, the black-eyed the bank of earth that was blocking the navvy played a lively spring on his fiddle. cutting, and at last we got a hole jumped I may remark, that he had imperceptibly through it, and then the water soon found edged off the form, and had dexterously its own vent, and emptied the cutting. taken up new ground between Miss The shorter of the two men in the head- Pollen and the lass from the “Surrey and ing was drowned, and his mouth stopped Sussex.” Then Tom Purgin sang My up wi' clay. He came from Kingscliffe Pretty Jane. "Mr. Purgin was a smart in Northamptonsheer, hard by my own ruddy-faced young fellow with black curlnative place; and I got a coffin for the ing hair, and the physical development of poor chap, and toted him down to Ingle- a Hercules. “Tom is the best man on this ton, and sent him home by the railway." section," whispered Pollen to me. A dance

I don't know to what greater length Mr. followed — something between a reel and Pollen's gossiping, reminiscences might an Irish jig - in which the black-eyed have extended, if they had not been inter- navvy immensely distinguished himself rupted by a tap at the door communicat- by playing and dancing at the same time; ing with the room inhabited by the navvy while the noise his big boots made in the double-shuffle was a Terpsichorean tri-| might take up housekeeping. In the umph that may be imagined, but cannot midst of this interesting conversation, be described. The beer-pail was replen- the “ Wellingborough Pincer" reappeared ished, the ladies were radiant with good on the scene. Mrs. Pollen had not bolted humour and enjoyment, the navvies were the door, and he had entered bent on making themselves as agreeable as possi- apologizing all round, and expressing his ble, and the evening altogether was pass-heart-felt repentance for his conduct. It ing most hilariously.

struck me at the time that the leading The “Surrey and Sussex" lass was motive for the “Pincer's” apparent consuddenly interrupted in the middle of a trition was a keen anxiety to return to song by a loud knock at the outer door. the neighbourhood of the beer-pail ; but Mrs. Pollen rose, and admitted a stranger, he appeared sincere, and his expressions a big navvy in working-dress. This of sorrow were graciously accepted. He worthy had no card, but he “named him- inade the most of his time, and it was a self” as the “ Wellingborough Pincer.” caution to see what quantities of beer At a glance, one could see that the that man contrived to swallow. But he “ Wellingborough Pincer" was not quite was an ill-conditioned dog in his cups. so sober as he necessarily would have Without the slightest warning, he sudbeen if intoxicating beverages had never denly hit Tom Purgin in the eye. It was been invented. He was a new-comer at good to see that honest fellow's power of Batty-wife-hole, having only arrived that self-restraint. “ It will keep till to-morday; and being a Northamptonshire man, row," he said with a pleasant smile, as he he had come to pay a visit to his “ townie,” wiped some blood from the cut cheekas he had learned Mr. Pollen was. On bone. This was Tom's own quarrel, and Pollen the ties of “ townieship” are bind- in his own quarrel he would not brawl in ing; he hailed the “Wellingborough Pin-the presence of the women. But the cer” with effusion; and that individual blow had cut short the “Pincer's” stay soon made himself extremely at home, under Mr. Pollen's roof. Again Mrs. resorting with marked freedom and fre-Pollen was upon him ; again that deterquency to the beer-can. Our own nav-mined and powerful female grappled him, vies had been obviously chafing at the dragged him across the floor, and sent goings-on of the “Pincer," restraining him forth from the door. Enlightened themselves, however, for the sake of by experience, she this time shot the peace. His conduct was obviously lead- | bolt. ing to a shindy. Mrs. Pollen had been ! But this “Wellingborough Pincer” was absent for some time, engaged in serving an incorrigible and indomitable nuisance. some customers; but just at this crisis He would not retire quietly after this his she came upon the scene, and compre- second ejection. He picked himself up, hended its bearings with a quickness and commenced a persistent hammering which may have been owing to intuition, on the doors and window-shutters of the but perhaps more to experience. To re- hut, accompanying this exercise with a solve, with Mrs. Pollen is to act. In two voluble flow of execration of the people strides she had the “Wellingborough who were inside. With difficulty did Mrs. Pincer” by the scruff of the neck, and Pollen restrain her navvies from sallying was bundling him toward the door. He out and inflicting condign punishment on struggled a little, but Mrs. Pollen pin the incorrigible “ Pincer." But it was reioned him with a vice-like grasp, and served for Pollen himself to vindicate with a promptitude and dexterity which the proud principle that an Englishwon my heartiest admiration, accom- man's house is his castle. Rising (with plished his ejection. I rather think she some little difficulty) from his seat, he threw him out ; anyhow, there was a oracularly pronounced the monosyllable sound as of a heavy body falling; and re-“ Joe !” At the word there emerged turning to the bosom of her family, she from under the table a powerfully built forbade any of “her men” from following bulldog, whose broad chest, strong loins, the “ Pincer " into the darkness where- muscular neck, and massive jaw, gave eviunto she had relegated him. Harmony dence of strength and purity of blood, as recommenced; the black-eyed navvy and did the small red eye of unconquerable I became confidential; and he told me ferocity. Silently Pollen moved to the how he had loved Miss Pollen for a con- door with Joe at his heels. He threw it siderable period, how they “had squared open, just as the “ Pincer" had comit together," and how he only wished that menced to rain on it a fresh shower of her father had another van in which they blows. “Here, Joe!” was all Pollen's reply to the volley of execrations that | Batty-wife-hole, and a triumphal entry greeted him. There was a dull thud of was accorded to the Pollens. The “Wella heavy fall, a gurgling noise, and at ingborough Pincer” returned to work a Pollen's word, “Come, Joe !” the dog re- wiser if not a better man, but he was appeared, sententiously wagging his tail. execrated by the whole community for The door was shut, and the “Welling, having imported legal proceedings into a borough Pincer” demonstrated no more colony where the policemen live in a sort against it.

of contemptuous toleration. Hints were After a parting glass, I withdrew from uttered that his career at Batty-wife-hole the festive scene, declining with thanks would be a short one. The “ Wellingthe offers of Tom Purgin and the black-borough Pincer" was last seen in the eyed navvy to see me home. I examined neighbourhood of a deep blind shaft, that the precincts carefully, out of what was had been excavated to divert the water perhaps a weak apprehension that the from the workings in the tunnel. He Pincer might be lying about somewhere, may have suddenly migrated, but there mangled, helpless, and perhaps indeed are not wanting those who darkly hint throttled. But that worthy was “gone that an exploration of the shaft would disand left not a wrack behind," and I close the fact of his being in the immedisought my couch with equanimity. A ate vicinity of its bottom. day or two later, Mr. Pollen called on me, and told me that he had received a summons at the instance of the “ Wellingborough Pincer.” Rather, indeed, there were two summonses, one for selling

From Good Words. drink without a licence, the other for set

THE PRESCOTTS OF PAMPHILLON. ting a dog at that interesting gentleman. BY MRS. PARR, AUTHOR OF "DOROTHY Fox." Mr. Pollen was game for litigation, and would hear of no compromise. The

CHAPTER IV. "Pincer” had called upon him that morn

“HARD TO PLEASE IN REGARD TO SIIE.” ing, and expressed his readiness to stay proceedings, on condition that the dog “We are going to have some one bewere shot, adding, that the doctor had as sides a boy?" asked Sir Stephen, looksured him, were this not done, that his — ing at the little boat, while the surf runthe Pincer's - arm must inevitably be ning up the beach was handling her rather amputated. Mr. Pollen had requested roughly. him to go about his business, and was “ It will be right enough outside," said ready to face the magistrates in the serene Hero; “ when we have rounded the consciousness of virtue.

point you'll find the sea as calm as a I left the place before this cause célèbre mill-pond.” was tried ; but I heard the leading inci “Because I am nothing of a salt-water dents – Mr. Pollen drove to Ingleton sailor: I can contrive to manage a boat with his wife and his two witnesses, Mr. on the river, and that is about all.” Purgin and the black-eyed navvy. The “Jim will take care of us ; - he is not " Pincer” stated his case, and summoned a boy ; Jim !” she cried, and starting up a witness who saw him worried by the from the bottom of the boat, where he dog. Then Mr. Pollen arose and pleaded had been taking a siesta, appeared a wiry, his own cause. He cited his wife to under-sized man, whose age from his prove that she sold no drink, but that the agility might have been forty, and, from whole affair was her “ treat” in honour of his face, might have been seventy. Sir the " Surrey and Sussex" lass. The Stephen felt more satisfied, until after a magistrates asked particularly whether it minute or two's inspection, he exwas in defence of his own premises that claimed – Pollen had called in the assistance of the “Why, he has only one arm.” dog, and on being assured that this was “Oh! that's nothing," replied the so, gave judgment against the “Pincer” Captain; “except for rowing he never on both counts, condemning him also in misses it; and if the wind veers round costs. On the way home, the Pollen con- or drops, as I think it will, you must lend veyance, which contained, in addition to a hand, Hero." the load it had brought down, the Pincer's "Is rowing one of your accomplishwitness, was upset in the ditch, owing, it ments, Miss Carthew ?" was hinted, to the collective inebriety of “Yes," replied Hero, laughing, “ I have the passengers, but ultimately reached not many, but I can manage a boat."

« VorigeDoorgaan »