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things as far removed. They kept early hours at the farm, and the lights were all out, and Dan, "Bonny Dan," might die before the morning.
Meanwhile they did what they could, and if the remedies were not of the best, they were, at all events, numerous enough, beginning with "peppermint waters," and ending with a dianer-plate heated in the oven and laid where the pain was worst.
Still no relief came, and the strong young fellow turned his cheek to the pillow and wept like a child.
"Eh, my man, my bonny man, dinna, now dinna. I'll gan to Horton mysel. but ye shall hae a bottle frae the doctor," and Jane took her thin, old shawl and her woollen bonnet from the peg behind the door and stepped out into the night.
Dare she waken them at the farm and ask the master to send? But there was nobody to go, for Dan and she were the only workpeople that lived near, for Jim the plough-boy had gone to his mother's "buryin'," and the farmer was getting an old man himself, and not too kindly either, it must be confessed. "Sally? No. Sally might like a good-looking chap like Dan well enough to fetch and carry for her, but catch her turning out of her warm bed to do aught for him," thought Jane, comforting herself amid her suffering with the thought that no one could love Dan as she did, and maybe she wasn't far wrong. Anyhow, she needed all her love before the night was over.
The woman was very tired to start with, for she had tried to do both Dan's work and her own, "so that the poor beasts should not want their meat," and in her care for them had well-nigh forgotten food for herself.
Her clothes were thin and worn, and her shoes were heavy, yet far from water-tight, and the roads she had to travel alternated between bits that were hard and frost-bound, but comparatively passable where the wind had swept them clear, and others inches thick of snow, where it lay in the hollows, and the air was keen and
cold, and pitiless as that of Dante's "Inferno" itself.
It was well on to ten o'clock when she started, and the night was dark save for the stars, and the gleam of the unsmirched icy snow.
Such a night in the country is the acme of loneliness. The world itself seemed dead and the wind alone left to mourn. Not a sound of bird nor beast to break the stillness; and the solitary wayfarer may travel miles without meeting another human creature.
Jane was prosaic enough, and yet weird new thoughts came to her in that night's walk.
Strange, she hardly knew what the night was like till then, for all her forty years of country life, for she had been wont to go to bed at sundown, and, weary and sleepy, had never thought of rising to look from her window at midnight storm or midnight calm.
How far off the sky seemed, and how big the dark, threatening clouds that told of more snow yet to come. Did God live up there, and would Danher Dan-have to go all the way up there by himself? And would God ken who he was, and not be hard on him, for he'd never had much schoolin'? And maybe Dan would forget his manners, as he used to do when he met the parish priest, and not think to pull his forelock till she minded him what the Quality looked for.
God was, in Jane's mind, not so very unlike the "priest," only bigger and older; and, in her heart, she thought, kinder, for "He had heard her when she prayed for a good crop o' taties. and that was good of him, seein' he'd such a lot o' things to mind, and sae many folks speakin' to him that could make 'grand prayers.' Eh! Would he happen to listen if she asked him to spare Dan?"
One moment she knelt beneath the stars in the piercing cold, and all her soul went out in a cry for help to the Power she knew so little, but yet felt was good.
Then, a little more hopeful, a little stronger even, as it seemed, in body, she went on her way.
It was slow work at best, and the drifted snow was toilsome; the woman's breath came in short, hard gasps at times, and there was a sound in her ears like church bells far away, and she wondered what it meant.
Once or twice she staggered, but never for one moment thought of relinquishing her purpose.
At last she reached the village and roused the man she sought. "It's Dan -wor Dan-ye maun come, for he's gae bad," she sobbed, and leaned against the door-post as she spoke; and the doctor, weary though he was. looked once into the woman's face and knew it was no light case that had brought her there.
"Poor soul-poor soul; sit down a bit and rest. You are not fit to walk back," he said. But Jane had done her work and turned to go.
"Ye'll ride your mare, doctor; she'll travel faster wantin' the gig, for the snow's gae thick in places and barely passable," and the wisdom of her counsel stopped his offer of a seat by his side.
Back into the night the woman went, and the darkness was deeper, and the cold more pitiless. No sound, no human footsteps, only by and by the doctor passed her on his horse, and spoke a kindly word, but did not wait her reply, and, indeed, she had no voice to answer.
Once or twice she stumbled, and once she fell and lay a moment or two in blissful rest. Oh, the relief of giving up the struggle and the strange sense of peace; and again that far-off ringing-was it really bells?
her intensity of love, the tired woman managed the last mile or two almost in a state of trance. She grew unconscious of all that surrounded her-of the cold, the darkness, and even of her own body, and seemed to herself to be already present where her loved one lay.
"He is easier now, and I'll try and come again to-morrow," said the doctor, who had remained longer than usual at the cottage, fighting Deat with his own hands, for the old mother was far from an efficient nurse.
Even as he spoke the latch was lifted, and Jane entered. Her eyes were set -her lips drawn across her teeth, and she looked tall and straight and white as one already dead, yet her pallid lips tried to form a question. Tried, but tried in vain.
"Yes, there is hope-hope assuredly," the doctor said, answering that pathetic appeal; but even as he spoke he laid the woman on the low tressle bed and tried to feel the pulseless wrist.
The hours passed, and the woman lay apparently unconscious-though the doctor was still in the little home trying every means he knew to keep the ebbing life-for Death, great Death, was hovering near.
Morning broke, and Dan lay sleeping like a child, his breathing peaceful, and his hot and feverish forehead cool and moist; but Jane's face looked strangely grey in that early light of dawn. Then her eyes unclosed and her lips murmured one word just audible to the doctor, as he stooped over her, "Dan!"
"Dan will pull through now, my woman," he answered; but his voice. had a quiver in it that surprised himself.
A smile-a gleam of joy-"Eh, God
And was it a warning? Folks did did hear then, bless him, and heaven have them whiles!
Then through all her fainting senses came again the thought of Dan, and nerved her for another effort. She must see his canny face again-must know how, he was-and upborne by
maun be nearer then I thought, the music is that sweet."
Then there was silence, and another soul was freed from earthly bondage forevermore.
From Longman's Magazine.
Ille terrarum mihi præter omnes Angulus ridet.-Hor. Od. II. vi. That little nook of the world on each side of and among the Black Mountains, which separate Herefordshire and Brecknockshire, seems to those who know it best to be a survival from an other century; a patch of the England of a hundred years ago set down in the England of to-day. "I know not how it is, but some of us in this century find ourselves possessed by an insatiable yearning not to speculate upon the future but to get into touch with the past." Here, indeed, we can study the past with something like success; and not only are the "minor antiquities of the generations immediately preceding ours" unfolded for us in every farmhouse and cottage, but nature too is seen at its best-inanimate nature in the great solemn mountain wastes and green hillsides, animate nature in the wealth of life in every hedgerow and field and tree.
And this green wilderness takes our imagination by storm in its very aloof ness from all that makes up the world of to-day. What seems to me its greatest want is indeed its greatest charm. It is just because it offers nothing that is new, nothing that is exciting, nothing that is of to-day more than of yesterday, only "the old loved things," that the remembrance of it comes back to us in crowded London streets like a sea breeze, like a gale that bestows much more than a momentary bliss. Thought, and human life and its conditions, are forever changing; and while we are still pondering over what seems Lo be the problem or the book of to-day, some new problem has arisen before the other has been set at rest, and there is a life and stir in the very air. But the world of nature is so different from all this! It makes no imperious demands on our time or on our thoughts. We leave it and come back to it and find it as we left it, except for the season's difference-except that the tender green of spring leaves has turned to yellow, and the summer birds have gone away.
It wears the same face to us as it did to Homer. "The sighing of the coming south wind," "the beating of the willows upon the shore," "streams downfalling through the rocky glens," sound to us as they did to Virgil; the goldfinches sing the same song above the hedge to-day as they sang to him in his Italian summers so long ago. The
daisies pied and violets blue, And lady-smocks all silver white, And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,
Do paint the meadows with delight
now as they did when Shakespeare looked on them in the fields by Stratford. Or, leaving poetry, White's beautiful "Selborne" will never grow old, never cease to have a place in the world's affections, because the little lives therein so gracefully discoursed of will not change as the centuries go by.
And then this green wilderness has those other charms which appeal to some more strongly than even the charms of nature can do. We all remember how Dean Stanley wrote of the Alps as "unformed, unmeaning lumps;" unless history or great fiction had left its impress on scenery, it was nothing to him. And Scott too, in the words of Professor Shairp, was one who "looked on the earth most habitually as seen through the coloring with which historic events and great historic names had invested it." But in many minds this feeling works in a still more subtle way, "and it is this: wherever men have been upon earth, even when they have done no memorable deeds, and left no history behind them, they have lived and they have died, they have joyed and they have sorrowed; and the sense that men have been there and disappeared leaves a pathos on the face of many a now unpeopled solitude." And these are the things which give an additional charm to the solitudes of which I write, although they are not wholly unpeopled; these traces of a vanished humanity in the shape of pathetic old farmhouses, grey and gaunt now; of some ruined priory almost hidden in wild brushwood; of some little whitewashed
So far I have been thinking of the district on each side of and among the Black Mountains. But now I must narrow the horizon to one little town. ship therein, and to recollections of half hours spent in its fields and by its old-fashioned chimney corners and those of its immediate surroundings.
This township takes in a long ridge of low hill which slopes down to a little river, such a river as Bewick loved, and drew again and again. Again and again has he drawn these rocky banks, the deep shadows under the black alder trees, the sparkle of the sunshine beyond, the great boulders over which you know the brook is singing its quiet tune, the white-breasted dipper on the stone-you think you can hear its wild sweet song and the ripple of the passing water. On the opposite side, the western side of the brook, the great solemn wall of the Black Mountains bounds the view, and creeping as far up it as plough can work are little fields of uncertain outline with white cottages among them. But the plough is soon beaten back by rock and steepness, and the ingenuity of man will not easily reclaim these beautiful wastes.
By the side of the brook there is a road-road and brook run almost side by side for miles. But the majority of the houses are in the fields, and are reached by cart-tracks which are only rough watercourses or grassy lanes, but all are beautiful with those tall hedgerows which give food and shelter to birds and hours of interest to all birdlovers. And again, to some of the houses the only approach is a footpath across the pleasant fields and over those stone stiles which are another feature of this country.
The farms are small and are chiefly pasture, sheep pasture; and this will explain those tall hedges,
Hardly hedgerows, little lines Of sportive wood run wild,
to bad farming. But here they mean no such thing. The country is high and exposed to heavy winds from the mountains, and these hedges are a useful shelter for the stock; indeed, they are a necessity.
But if here, as everywhere, some of the land shows the effects of the bad times, yet, on the other hand, though nowhere is there "high farming," there is much that does credit to perseverance, brains, and hard work. I have seen a crop of turnips on this hillside of which any farmer might well be proud.
Of the smaller holdings on the mountain-side many are lineal descendants, if I may so say, of holdings on the waste ground of the manor, granted„in remote times by the then lord to his followers, and the rent for which was some service rendered to him, or payment in kind, now commuted into a nominal chief rent. In all but name these copyholds seem to be freeholds and the interest of the matter lies in its being a living relic of feudal law, as are also the heriots which remain in
force, although they too are no longer paid in kind. The houses on such holdings are mostly, as I said, little whitewashed buildings, gleaming from afar and the dwellers in them are farmers on a small scale with a sheep run on the mountain.
But the farmhouses on the opposite hill-on the eastern side of the brook, that is-are of a somewhat larger and more substantial type, though they are not by any means large. They nestle in sheltered and sunny nooks on the side of the hill. The trees above them. blown into strange umbrella-like shapes by mountain winds, show that the men were wise who trusted their houses only to these more sheltered spots. The aspect is well chosen, but the houses themselves, when placed mentally beside the far larger ones in the eastern countries, seem very sombre, very colorless. Red walls, red-tiled roofs, warm yellow corn-stalks; that is the coloring of a fen farm, and very beautiful it is. The almost cottage-like farmhouses here are either of sad grey stone
which at first sight we might attribute with great porches, and all roofed, too,
with grey stone, on which lichen does not readily thrive, or of black timber with plaster between. The plaster is laid over a wattling of sticks filled in with coarse mortar in all the older buildings of this class hereabouts. By the farms stand a few hayricks, and the effect on the eye is greyness. It is sombre to a degree. There is "the hue of eld" over even last year's haystack. The houses are a hundred or even two hundred years older than those of the east country, or of the grand farmhouses on Cotswold farms, which look as if they had been built in the glorious days of farming at the beginning of the century, but which are far less picturesque than the homely ones in the district of which I am writing..
As a rule there is an absence of flowers around these farmhouses; there are "no roses bright, wreathed o'er the walls in garlands of delight." You approach them through a fold-yard, and this gives a squalid appearance to the whole. And as the cattle are often turned into the fold there is no safety for flowers in front of the house. But some of the cottage gardens are beautiful indeed. I remember one; a little flagged path with beds on each side, and 66 then here's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember; and there's pansies, that's for thoughts. . . . There's fennel for you and columbines; there's rue for you, and here's some for me. We may call it herb-of-grace o' Sundays. may wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy. . . ." It is quite a Shakesperean garden indeed.
old-fashioned interiors, for all the oldworld things which are to be found in these homesteads. It is generally by a deep porch, with stone seats on each side, that we enter the large kitchen. It is large because it was built in the days when the farmer had laborers to help in the fields, and the mistress of the house had women servants to help with the spinning and the poultry; and all who lived under the same roof had their meals together in this room.
The doors are sometimes studded with nails like church doors. One that I know is secured by a great rough wooden bolt drawn right across it into an iron loop on the opposite side at night, and in the daytime thrust back into a hole in the thickness of the wall. But the majority are more homely than this and have only a latch inside, raised from outside by a leather thong, or by "tirling at the pin," as in the old ballad.
Some of the wide chimneys still remain, with a stone seat on each side, and sometimes there are iron dogs and a wood fire burning on the low hearth. The old iron "hangers" for pots are very common. Oak dressers are almost universal, and so are oak settles, which are a necessity in these draughty houses. And perhaps we may see a four-post bed, with oak-panelled back and top, while the long oak tables, at which a household of twelve or more could sit down at once, are very common. China of much interest is seldom seen, but there are some of those glazed jugs with an iridescent sheen on them, the art of Inside the houses there is much that making which is, I am told, a lost one. belongs to other days than these. The But we may see a set of pewter plates "minor antiquities of the generations and dishes (which are round like the immediately preceding ours" are, as plates, but much larger), brass mortars Goldwin Smith has told us, becoming and pestles, brass or iron trivets, great rare as compared with those of remote brass milk-pans, and, indeed, many a ages, because nobody thinks it worth strange old-world thing, which it is while to preserve them. But in these more delight to meet with in its real old farms we find so many relics of a home on a cottage mantelpiece or bygone time. Are there many districts dresser than in a curiosity shop. I am in England, do you think, where you not, of course, intending to say that will still see men threshing with flails these things are universal or found in as they do hereabouts? every house. But they are more comSuch a sight will prepare us for the mon than elsewhere, and, fortunately,