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Title:      Rogue Herries (1930)
Author:     Hugh Walpole
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Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:          January 2004
Date most recently updated: August 2009

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Production notes: Part 1 of "The Herries Chronicles"

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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      Rogue Herries (1930)
Author:     Hugh Walpole

Part 1 of "The Herries Chronicles"

A Novel







The Inn--The House

The Mountain


The Devil

Chinese Fair

The Sea--Father and Son

Christmas Feast

Death of Margaret Herries



Laughter of a Spaniel

Into the Cave


The Rocking Wood

Siege in Fog

The Prince



Candlelight Respectability

The Wild Marriage

The Voice

Saga of David:  I. The Young Sarah

Saga of David:  II. The Fight above Wasdale

Herries in 1760

The Lover

Mirabell in Flight

Uldale:  I. Founding of a Family



Return of a Wanderer

Uldale:  II. Family Life

They meet in Penrith, Feb. 4, 1772

Phantasmagoria in the Hills

They are Alone and are Happy

Departure from Herries

Over this country, when the giant Eagle flings the shadow of his
wing, the land is darkened.  So compact is it that the wing covers
all its extent in one pause of the flight.  The sea breaks on the
pale line of the shore; to the Eagle's proud glance waves run in to
the foot of the hills that are like rocks planted in green water.

From Whinlatter to Black Combe the clouds are never still.  The
Tarns like black unwinking eyes watch their chase, and the colours
are laid out in patterns on the rocks and are continually changed.
The Eagle can see the shadows rise from their knees at the base of
Scawfell and Gable, he can see the black precipitous flanks of the
Screes washed with rain and the dark purple hummocks of Borrowdale
crags flash suddenly with gold.

So small is the extent of this country that the sweep of the
Eagle's wing caresses all of it, but there is no ground in the
world more mysterious, no land at once so bare in its nakedness and
so rich in its luxury, so warm with sun and so cold in pitiless
rain, so gentle and pastoral, so wild and lonely; with sea and lake
and river there is always the sound of running water, and its
strong people have their feet in the soil and are independent of
all men.

During the flight of the Eagle two hundred years are but as a day--
and the life of man, as against all odds he pushes toward
immortality, is eternal. . . .




A little boy, David Scott Herries, lay in a huge canopied bed, half
awake and half asleep.

He must be half awake because he knew where he was--he was in the
bedroom of the inn with his sisters, Mary and Deborah; they were in
the bed with him, half clothed like himself, fast sleeping.  Mary's
plump naked arm lay against his cheek, and Deborah's body was
curled into the hollow of his back and her legs were all confused
with his own.  He liked that because he loved, nay, worshipped, his
sister Deborah.

He knew also that he was awake because, lying looking up, he could
see the canopy that ran round the top of the bed.  It was a dull
faded green with a gold thread in it.  He could see the room too,
very large, with rough mottled white walls and a big open stone
fireplace; there was a roaring, leaping fire--the only light in the
room--and he could see very clearly the big, shining brass fire-
dogs with grinning mouths like dragons and stout curly tails.

He knew, too, that he was awake, because he could see Alice Press
sitting there, her clothes gathered up to her knees, warming her
legs.  He did not like Alice Press, but she always fascinated him,
and he wondered now of what she was thinking, so motionless, her
head with its red hair pushed forward, her naked neck above her
silver brocade.

He knew that he was awake, because he could hear the sounds of the
inn, voices calling, doors banging in the wind, steps on the stair,
and even the snap-snap of horses' hoofs on the cobbles of the yard.
He could hear the wind too, rushing up to the windows and shaking
the panes and tearing away again, and then he shivered, pleasantly,
luxuriously, because it was so warm and safe where he was and so
cold and dangerous outside.

Then he shivered again because he remembered that he, with the
others, must soon plunge out again into that same wind and mud and

He would like to stay thus, in this warm bed, for ever and ever.

But, although he was awake enough to know all these things, he must
be asleep also--asleep because, for one thing, the room would not
stay still, but leapt and rollicked with the fire.  All the things
in it moved; the fire-dogs grinned and yawned; over a large arm-
chair of faded red silk, oddly enough, some harness had been slung,
and it lay there in coils of silver and dark brown leather, and
these coils turned and stretched and slipped like snakes.  Then
against the wall there was a long, thin mirror in tarnished silver
and, in this, Alice Press was most oddly reflected, the side of her
face that was shown there being very thin and red, her hair tawny-
peaked like a witch's hat; her eyebrow jumped up and down in a
terrifying manner.

Only David was not afraid.  He was a very fearless boy.  But he
thought, as he lay there and watched, how ugly she was in the
mirror, and that if his father saw her thus he would not chuck her
beneath the chin and so make his mother unhappy.  And, although he
was not afraid, he was glad nevertheless that Mary's warm arm was
against his cheek and the round shape of Deborah's body against his

Because it might be that after all Alice Press was a witch.  (He
had always had his secret suspicions.)  The way that she sat there
now, so motionless, bending forward, was just as though she were
making spells--and the silver harness blinked and the glass of the
mirror trembled as the flame of the fire rose and fell again.

Then, again, it must be that he was still asleep because, although
he knew that he was lying in his bed, he knew also that he was yet
bumping and tossing in the coach.  In that coach they had surely
been for weeks and weeks, or so at least it had seemed to his tired
and weary body.

At first when they had set out from Doncaster--how long ago?--he
had been all pride and pleasure.  It had been a fair and lovely
morning--one of the last of the late summer days.  The sun was
shining, the birds singing, such gay bustle about the cobbled
courtyard of the inn, the maids looking down from the windows, the
hostlers busy about the horses, the postilions polite and eager to
his father, all of them, Mother and Father Roche and Alice Press
and Mary and Deborah fitting so comfortably into the soft warm
inside of the coach, that had even pictures of hunting painted on
the walls and little windows with gold round the edges.

Yes, it had been all gay enough then, but how miserable it had soon
become!  He could not now divide the days and nights from one
another: moreover, he was still there in the coach, bumped up and
down, thrown here and there, sleeping, waking with cramp and pins
and needles, and Deborah crying and needing comforting, and Mary
cross, and his mother frightened, and Alice Press sulky.  Only
Father Roche, reading in his purple book, or looking steadily in
front of him, never perturbed nor upset nor unhappy, always grave
and kind, and miles and miles away from them all!

Then the Great North Road, which had sounded so fine and grand when
he had first heard of it, how different it was in reality!  Not
fine and grand at all, but full of deep ruts and mud so fearful
that again and again the coach was hopelessly stuck in it, and
everyone had to pull and push, cursing and swearing.  Once they
were almost upset.  The coach went right over on its side and the
horses went down, and they were all on the top one of another.  He,
David, had a bruise on his right leg, and his mother's cheek was

The further they went the colder it became.  They seemed, almost at
once, to leave summer right behind them.

Nor were the inns where they stopped fine and clean like the
Doncaster one, but cold, draughty, and the floors and walls often
crawling with spiders and other more evil things.

He seemed, lying there in the bed watching the leaping fire, to be
transferred suddenly back into one of the worst of them--where,
tired and bruised with the rough travelling, he had stumbled into
the low-ceilinged, ill-lighted, ill-smelling room, huddled with his
mother and sisters at a dirty table in a dim corner, and there
stared out into the rude, confused babble--men, women, children,
dogs, drinking, shouting and singing, the dogs waiting, mouths
agape, while the food was tossed to them, four men playing at some
game in a corner, a man with a fiddle and a monkey dressed in a
crimson jacket dancing in the middle of the sandy floor, the heated
damp of the room rising to the ceiling and trickling in wet smeary
streaks down the walls, a smell of straw and human breath and dung
and animals and tallow--and in the middle of this his father
standing, in his dark purple riding-coat, his high hat cocked, his
waistcoat of silver thread showing between the thick lapels of his
coat, his whip with the silver head in his hand--like a god, like a
king, demanding a private room, aweing at last the fat landlord,
round like a tub, causing all that coarse roomful to feel that a
great man had come among them.  There was little, tired though he
was, that David had not that night noticed, from the painting of
the King over the fireplace to a swinging gilt cage with a blue
bird, and a man who said he was from the wars and crept to their
table on his wooden stumps showing that his right hand had no
fingers. . . .

Yes, he remembered everything of that night (was not the man with
no legs and no fingers over there now by the fire watching Alice
Press, her back of stiff brocade?), because on that night a great
happiness had come to him.  He had slept with his father.  His
father and Father Roche and himself had slept in the one small,
dirty room, all three on the low, dirty bed.  At first it had been
almost terrible because his father had been in one of his rages,
cursing the place and the dirt and the cold, cursing his family,
too, for persuading him to the expense and danger of a private
coach, when they would all of them have been so much better on

Then, seeing his little son straight and sturdy there in his
smallclothes, looking up and waiting for orders as to whether he
should go naked to bed or no, with one of his sudden gestures he
had caught him up and hugged him, then thrown off only his outer
clothing, then taken David and wrapped him, close up against
himself, in his great riding-coat--and the two of them stretched
out on the bed, Father Roche bodily beside them but spiritually a
world away.

How wonderful that night had been!  David had slept but little of
it.  He had lain close against his father's heart, his hands across
his father's breast, feeling the great beat of the heart and the
iron ribs beneath the thin shirt, his cheek against the smooth
softness of his father's neck.

That had been a great happiness, but after that night there had
been only trouble.  On the high ground towards Kendal they had
suffered a fearful storm of wind and rain.  It had seemed to them
that the end of the world had come; the coach had sunk into the mud
so that for hours they could not move it.  They had been warned, at
the last town, that they must beware of footpads, and at every
sound they had started.  Quite a crowd of travellers had been
accompanying them for safety--farmers, pedlars and other
pedestrians.  The weather perhaps had saved them.  All the footpads
were within doors, warm and cosy beside their fires.

In Kendal they had left the coach and had ridden the remainder of
their journey on horseback.  David, tired though he was, had found
that glorious, riding in front of his father, mounting the hills,
then dropping under the faint misted morning sun down beside the
miraculous waters and mountains, a land of faery such as David had
never dreamt of, sheets of white and silver, the mountains of rose
and amber and the trees thick with leaves of gold.

They had ridden into Keswick in the afternoon, quite a cavalcade of
them, with their possessions on pack-horses, the women and children
so desperately fatigued that they could scarcely keep their seats.
So, in a dream, to the inn, and the children stripped of their
outer clothing and flung into the great bed, the two little girls
at once dropping off into heavy slumber.

So should David have done, but instead he had lain there in this
strange state of waking sleep.  It was, possibly, that he was too
greatly excited.  For months past, in their home outside Doncaster,
he had been anticipating this journey.  He had not been happy in
the Doncaster home.  His father had been so much away, his mother
so unhappy, there had been no one save his sisters with whom he
could play.  He had hated the stuffy little house, the rooms
so small and dark, the country surrounding it so dull and
uninteresting.  And always there had been this unhappiness, his
father angry and rebellious, his mother often in tears, Alice
Press, whom he hated, supposedly looking after the children but
doing nothing for them, gentlemen arriving from Doncaster,
drinking, playing cards, singing and shouting all night long.  His
only interest had been his lesson with Father Roche, who, while
teaching him Latin and Greek, would talk to him about many
wonderful things, about London with its palaces and theatres and
gardens that ran down to the river, and Rome where England's
rightful King lived, and then of God and Heaven, and how one must
live to please God--to obey Father Roche in all things and to keep
secret in his heart everything that Father Roche told him.

The only other entertainment had been the times when he was with
Nathaniel and Benjamin, the men-servants.  Nathaniel taught him the
small-sword and cudgel, and Benjamin taught him to box and to
wrestle, and he had been twice with Nathaniel to a cock-fight and
once to the village to see a bear baited.

Nevertheless, had it not been for his father and Deborah the days
would have been heavy indeed.  He was a boy of passionate
affections and his whole heart was given to his father and his
sister.  His love for his father was worship and his love for
Deborah was protection.

His father was entirely a being from another world like St. Michael
or St. George who came in the Christmas plays.  His father who was
so handsome and splendid could do no wrong, although when he was
drunk he was hard to understand; when he beat Benjamin until the
blood ran down Benjamin's back David was sorry for the man, but yet
was certain that his father was in the right.

But Deborah was of his own flesh and blood.  So, too, was Mary, but
he did not care for Mary.  She, although she was so young, had
already her own independent fashion of living and, because she was
so pretty, could have her way when she pleased, which she very well
knew.  But Deborah was not pretty and was often afraid.  Deborah
believed that David could do anything, and she always came to him
when she was in trouble and trusted him to help her.  He could do
no wrong in Deborah's eyes, and so he loved her and guarded her as
well as he could from every harm.

At the thought of Deborah he turned a little and put his arm about
her, which she feeling, although deep in sleep, recognised by a
little dreamy murmur of pleasure.

Just then he heard the door (which was behind the canopied bed so
that he could not see it) open, and an instant later it was all
that he could do to withhold a cry of pleasure.  For it was his
father who had entered, who was now standing quite close to them,
looking down upon them.  David closed his eyes--not because he
wanted to be deceitful, but because he knew that his father wished
that he should be asleep.

Nevertheless, one look had been enough.  His father was resplendent!
For days and nights now he had seen him soiled and disarrayed with
the storms and struggles of that awful journey, muddied and blown
and uncaring whether he were neatly kept or no. There were times
when his father seemed to prefer dirt and disorder, and they were
bad times too.  An unkempt wig, tarnished buckles and buttons, a
soiled cravat, and David had learnt to know that the disarray and
rebellion were more than physical.

Only an hour ago David had seen him striding about the courtyard of
the inn, mud-splashed to the thighs, raging and swearing.  That had
been his last thought before he had fallen into this half-slumber,
that his father was still out there in the wind and rain ordering
Benjamin and the rest, seeing to the horses that were to carry them
the final stage of their weary journey.  But now, how resplendent
in the white-walled fire-leaping room!  David in that one glance
had seen it all.

The fine curled chestnut wig, the beautiful claret-coloured, gold-
embroidered coat with the long spreading skirts, the claret-
coloured breeches and grey silk stockings, the fluted grey-silk
waistcoat stamped with red roses, the little sword at his side--ah!
glory upon glory, was anything in the world anywhere so glorious as
his father thus!  No, nothing in London or Rome of which Father
Roche had told him--nothing that China or India itself could show!

His heart swelling with pride and happiness he lay there,
pretending to be asleep, watching through half-closed eyes.  He saw
then an odd thing.  He saw his father, on tip-toe, approach the
fire, steal upon Alice Press, she motionless gazing into the flame,
lean forward, put then his hands, deep in their splendid white
ruffles, lightly about her face, closely across her eyes.  She gave
a little scream, but David knew that at once she was aware who this

Laughing, Francis Herries withdrew his hands.  She looked up,
smiling that strange smile of hers, half pleasure, half rebellious

'Why, sir,' (she was, like David, greatly surprised at his
grandeur), 'what fine feathers we're wearing!'

'Hush,' he put his fingers to his lips, 'the children are

'I fancy so.  They sound still enough.  Poor babies--after such a
devilish journey!'  She turned again from him and stared back into
the fire.  'You are dressed to meet your brother?'

'Why not to meet yourself, beautiful lady?'

He was laughing, that careless, jolly, kindly, good-to-all-the-
world laugh that, as David knew, came only when he was happy.  So
he was happy now!  David was glad.

'Myself?'  She turned to him fully, showing the deep swell of her
bosom beneath the brocaded vest.  'No, I think not.  God! that I
had not consented to come on this madcap journey.'

For answer he bent down and, still laughing, caught her head in his
hands, brought his mouth to hers, kissed her on the lips, the
cheeks, the eyes, then, almost violently, flung her away from him,
straightening his body as he did so.

'Do you like that better?  Does that make you more content with
your journey?'

'No, why should it?'  She shrugged her shoulders, turning back to
the fire.  'Do you love me?  No.  Then what is a kiss?'

'Love--and love.'  He laughed.  'I am no captive to it, if that's
your meaning.  I visit it, wish it good day, spend a pretty hour in
its company--so I am never weary of it nor it of me.  Love?  And
what do you mean by love?'

'I mean,' she answered fiercely, 'those foul, filthy, beggarly days
and nights of mud and dung and stinking beds; the pains and bruises
that I have known on this journey and the idiocies of your wife and
the wailings of your children and the evil dirty tempers of
yourself. . . .  And what do I receive in return for these things?'

She rose up suddenly and turned to him--a tall broad woman, with
scarlet hair and a white face, who would soon be stout.

David, watching her, had never seen her like this, so alive, her
big eyes with the fair, faint eyebrows staring, the big bosom under
the silver brocade heaving, the big mouth in the pale face half

Francis Herries looked at her gently, kindly and with amusement.
'What do you get?' speaking low so that the children should not be
waked.  He put a hand on her shoulder, and she stood strong and
sturdy without moving.  David could see her full face now in the
mirror and he watched absorbed because it was so awake.  Always it
had been yawning, the lazy eyes half closed, the cheeks heavy with
indolence as she sleepily ate sugar-plums and cakes and sugar figs.

'What do you get? . . .  Something.  Nothing.  And what is there to
get?  A little hugging and fumbling, sweating and panting, and then
satiety.'  He looked at her even with more earnest study, as though
in truth he had never seen her before, and her eyes did not fall
before his.  'You elected to come--to the end of the world.  No
roads.  Savages.  A chill house with the rain always falling--and
the ghosts of all your sins, my dear.'

She, with a sudden movement that surprised him, caught him round
the cheek and with her white face against his ruddy brown one
whispered eagerly, furiously in his ear.  The fire leapt as though
in sympathy with her urgency, and the figures swayed and swelled in
the silver mirror.

Francis Herries withdrew from her slowly, carefully, as though he
would not hurt her, no, neither her body nor her soul.  But he was
many, many miles away from her as he answered:

'So that's the way of it. . . .  To leave them in the mud and rain
and find sunshine, the two of us, alone--alone.'  He smiled--a
beautiful smile, David, who did not understand the most of this
strange conversation, thought.  'Alone with me, Alice, you'd be in
despair in a half-hour.  No one has been alone with me ever and not
suffered the intensest weariness.  I have suffered it with myself,
recurring agonies of it.  And you are not made to be wearied.

'Nevertheless, you will be infinitely dull.  Days of rain and mud
in a half-tumbled house cut off from everything but the savages.
It's your own choice, my dear.  And only my body to comfort you.
My body without my soul, I fear.  My soul has flown.  I lost it a
week back.  I shall find it doubtless on a tree in Borrowdale.'

David saw that she did not understand him, that she gazed at him
with a look that he himself did not understand, a look of rage, of
love, of uncertainty, of disappointment.  She was not very clever,
Alice Press.  Young though he was, David already had an instinct of

His father came softly to the bed and looked down on them.  David,
his eyes tightly closed, could nevertheless see him, the gold of
his coat, the white silk of the lapels, the curling splendour of
the chestnut wig.  It was as though his father were weaving a spell
over him--his eyes so fixedly closed that they burnt.  A spell, a
spell!  The crystal in the silver mirror turning, Alice Press
mounting her broomstick and riding through the dark heavy-hung
sky, and his father riding on a silver horse into the moon and
stars. . . .  A spell!  A spell!

'Wake up! wake up!'

It was Alice Press's soft white hand shaking his shoulder.  He
opened his eyes.  His father was gone as though he had never been.
They were to be up and have their clothes on and see their good
uncle and aunt--Uncle Pomfret and Aunt Jannice.

The two little girls, like little round fluffy owls bewildered by
their sleep, dazed with the strange light of the leaping fire,
fastened their own clothes.  Mary was eight years of age, and
Deborah seven, and they had been taught from a long time to do for
themselves.  They had been wearing their winter dresses these last
days, and Mary's had dark fur edging the green velvet and Deborah's
grey fur upon crimson.  David was dressed in a short yellow jacket
and long tight breeches, buff-colour, reaching down to his ankles.
He tied Deborah's ribbons and points and fastened her shoes.  She
was very frightened.  She was scarcely as yet awake.  She did not
know what this great room was nor where they were now going.  She
was terrified of her Uncle Pomfret and Aunt Jannice.  She was
weary, utterly weary after the days of the journey.  She wanted her
mother.  She, like David, hated Alice Press.  She was like a little
downy bird, her head covered with soft flaxen curls.  She stood
there biting her lips so that she would not cry.  Had David not
been there she MUST have cried.  But she stood near him looking up
into his face.  Where David was no harm could come.

It was now time for them to go down, but they had to delay because
Mary must have her horn-book to carry with her.  It was a fine one,
and its back was of gilded and embossed leather, crimson with
silver wire.  David knew at once why Mary must have it.  It was to
show off before Aunt Jannice that she might notice how exceptional
a child Mary was.

They searched here and there.  Mary had had it with her before she
fell asleep.  Alice Press swore and threatened.  It was of no use.
Mary had a marvellous obstinacy when the purpose was concerned with
herself.  The horn-book was found beneath one of the fire-dogs, and
Mary walked out, holding it virtuously by the handle, her head up
as though she were leading a procession.

They went down the wooden staircase, which was from Elizabeth's
time, very beautiful and broad, the newels thick and strong, the
handrails framed into the newels, the balustrade beautifully
arcaded, a lovely symmetry of delicacy and strength.  In the hall
below it was very dark, save in the doorway that looked out into
the street where the light of the afternoon still gleamed in pale
shadow against black cloud.  Great gusts of the gale blew into the
hall, at the end of which was a huge stone fireplace with a roaring
fire.  On broad tables candelabra held many candles that also blew
in the wind.

Across the shining floor servants, drawers, maids, men from the
kitchen were constantly passing into the wild light and out of it
again.  Uncertain though the light was, it was enough for David to
see his father, standing very stiff and upright, his mother also,
and a lady and gentleman who must, David knew, be his uncle and

The children were brought up to their parents.  Mary at once went
to her mother, caught her mother's hand, and so stayed, looking
very pretty.  David kissed his aunt's hand, bowed to his uncle,
then stood straight and stiff beside his father.  His uncle Pomfret
was a big, broad, stout man with a very red face, large wide-open
eyes and a little snub nose.  He was dressed in rough country
clothes, his long boots were splashed with mud.  He smelt strongly
of wind, rain, liquor and the stables.  He seemed good-natured and
friendly, laughed much and struck his leg often with a riding-whip.
Aunt Jannice was thin and tall, with a peaked face and a big brown
wart in the middle of her cheek.  She wore a broad hat and had a
curly brown wig which sat oddly about her yellow leathern face.
She was very composed, dignified and superior.  She contrasted
strangely with David's mother, who was always so stout and red and
flustered and was given to breaking into odd little hummings of
tunes from simple nervousness.

David knew that there was nothing that irritated his father so much
as this habit of hers.  But David's attention was fixed upon his
father.  He wished desperately--although he did not know why he
wished--that his father had not dressed so grandly.  Only half an
hour before he had been so proud of his father's grandeur, now he
was ashamed of it.

He was sure that Uncle Pomfret and Aunt Jannice were laughing at
his father for being in such grand clothes.  Not that his father
would care, but he, David, cared for him.  Uncle Pomfret was much
older than his father (he was indeed twenty-two years older; he was
the eldest, as Francis Herries was the youngest, he fifty-two years
of age and Francis only thirty).  He looked as though he might be
David's grandfather.

There was indeed no physical resemblance between the two brothers.
David discovered also another thing--that they were all striving to
persuade his father of something, and his father was very
obstinate.  He knew how his father looked when he was obstinate, he
smiled and was haughty and said little.  So it was now.

They were trying to persuade him to stay in his brother's house at
least to-night and not to go on in the wind and wet and darkness
into Borrowdale.  But his father only smiled.  He had planned to be
in the house to-night and be in the house he would, and the others
should be there too.

David saw that his mother was very near to tears, her round mottled
face all puckered, and she bit continually at her lace handkerchief.
She was desperately weary, poor woman, and afraid and very unhappy.

'Why, blast you and damn you, brother,' said Uncle Pomfret very
heartily.  'You must stay with us to-night or prove yourself most
unbrotherly.  We had always expected it so--Had we not, Janny?
There's no road over to Herries.  You are going among the savages
there, brother.  I can swear you were dismayed enough at seeing
this griddling little inn after your great Doncaster houses, but
this is Paradise to what you're going to.  Don't say I didn't warn
you now.  Damn me for a curmudgeon, brother, if I bottomed you into
doing it--but to-night you shall stay with us.  There's your lady
sunk with weariness, and the babes too, damn me if they're not.'

He shouted all this as though across a windy common, and all that
Francis Herries said to it was:

'Herries sees us all to-night, and we'll take our luck with the

'You'll be the rest of this day on horseback,' his brother assured
him.  'There's not a cart in Borrowdale, brother, nor a road to
carry one.  It's all horseback round here.  Damn it, you're in
Chiney in Borrowdale, but never say I didn't warn you.  You wanted
cheap living and you've got it.  Naked bottom and bare soil! that's
life in Borrowdale.'

David had never heard so rough and coarse and hearty a voice, and
it seemed to him strange that this big red man should be his
father's brother.  He jumped, too, from the sharp contrast when a
moment later his aunt spoke:

'Come now, Francis.  Have some softness for the family.  The
children can scarce stand with their weariness.  Margaret, persuade
him.  There is room enough with us for so long as you please to

Her voice was cold and thin like the steady trickle of a determined
pump.  When she spoke, she stared in front of her, looking neither
to right nor left, as though she were reciting a set piece.

David's mother, thus appealed to, very nervously and not looking at
her husband, answered:

'Indeed, it's very kindly of you, Jannice.  We are weary and 'tis
late.  To-morrow would be time enough.'

'There, brother!' Sir Pomfret broke in with a roar, 'have you no
tender parts?  Your wife and the children at least shall stay with
us.  You shall ride alone if you are resolved--you and the priest,'
he added, suddenly dropping his voice.

'There--that's sufficient,' Francis Herries answered sharply.  'My
wife will be thankful enough when she's there and settled.  In an
hour's time the horses will be moving and ourselves on them.  Thank
you for your goodwill, brother.  And now for a meal.  It is ready
and waiting.'

It was now late for dining.  To the children, indeed, it would,
before this tremendous journey of theirs, have seemed an incredible
hour, for their dinner had been at three of the afternoon ever
since they could remember, but now all their customs and habits
were in ruin, and they accepted, poor things, blindly and without a
murmur what came to them.

They were, however, all three, too tired to have an appetite.  In
the little private room they were crowded about the small table.
David to his distress was next to his uncle, who roared and rattled
and laughed as he helped the food, so that it was like being seated
next an earthquake.

There was a good baked pie of a leg of mutton, and roasted chickens
with pease and bacon, and a fine fruit tart that would, at another
time, have made David's mouth water.  There was much wine, too, and
of this Uncle Pomfret began to drink very heartily indeed, and
shouted to the others to do the same.  The noisier he became the
more upright and magnificent was Aunt Jannice.

Very fine, especially, was she when she rose to wash her spoon in a
bowl of water behind the table, so that, having just used it for
pease and bacon, it should not now be soiled for the fruit tart.
David's mother, who had never seen anyone do this before, could not
hide her staring wonder.

David, in spite of his weariness which made everything around him
like a dream, fancied that his aunt was storing all things up in
her mind, so that for many weeks she would be able to retail to her
genteel friends all the strange things that this wild family had
done.  He did not love her the better for fancying this.

But he was in so dreamy a state that he could be sure of nothing.
He, in his half-dream, saw--and he knew that his mother saw this
too--that his father was drinking in a defiance of his stout red-
faced brother.  He knew what his father was like when he was
drunken, and he hated his uncle that he should tempt him.
Throughout this journey his father had been very fine, drinking
nothing, aware perhaps of the charge there was upon him.  And in
any case he drank little when Father Roche was there.

But in everything that he did, while his brother was present, there
was defiance.  There had been defiance in his grand clothes,
defiance in his refusing to stay in Keswick, defiance now in every
gesture.  David, because he adored his father, knew all this with a
wisdom beyond his years.  Meanwhile, in this dreamy state, it was
all that he could do with his wits to defend himself against his
uncle, who was pushing pieces of meat and of pie on to his plate
and even holding his head back and poking food into his mouth.  But
once when he was about to force some wine down his throat Francis
Herries called out quietly:

'Nay, brother, leave the boy alone.  He shall have wine when he
wishes for it.  It shan't be thrust on him.'  Pomfret broke out
into a flurry of magnificent and filthy oaths.  He then thrust
David in the ribs and cried at him:  'Why, damn thee, boy, dost
thou not follow thy father?  He's a lecherous foul-dealing knave
enough, I'll be bound--no Herries, an he ain't.  Drink thy uncle's
health, boy, and be damned to thy father!'

'Pomfret!' said Aunt Jannice.  It was enough.  The uncle was cowed
like a dog under a whip and took some sugar-plums from a plate and
swallowed them, three at a time, like a confused child.  David
looked across to his father.  It seemed to him then, as it was to
seem to him increasingly in the coming days, that they were younger
and elder brother, not father and son.  And, indeed, there was only
the difference of nineteen years between them.

In his dreamy state it seemed to him that he and his father were
circled round with light together, they two, and that his father's
crimson and gold shone, and the room burnt against its panelling
with a strange and sombre glow.

But his next thought was for Deborah.  With every attention that
his uncle had permitted him he had watched her and had seen that
she was very unhappy.  Poor child, with weariness and fear of her
relations and her seated distance from David, she was nearly
distraught.  She did not understand what had happened to her, but
it was something terrible.  She understood that more terrible
things were shortly to occur.  David, watching her, could at last
endure it no longer; her frightened eyes, the way that her head
bobbed and nodded and then bobbed again, her fashion of pretending
to eat and not eating, hurt him as though it were himself.

While his uncle was busy with a long and excited account of his
country sports and pastimes, with vociferous curses on the French
and praise of the Hanoverian succession, he stepped from his chair
and went to her side, bending forward and whispering to her.

But, alas, this kind attention was too much for her; she broke into
sobs, not loudly but with a soft titter-witter like a wounded bird.

Uncle Pomfret broke off his account of what he would do to a French
Papist an he caught him, to tumble into a bellow of laughter.

'Why, pox on it, here's a little master . . . comforting your
sister. . . .  Why, damn it, boy, but I like your heart.  There's a
good one for the ladies.  He knows a thing or two, I warrant.  But
come hither, little Deb.  Come to thy old uncle.  He'll buy thee a
baby, one of your china sorts with pink cheeks, none of your
stuffed rags.  Come to thy uncle, Deb, and he'll comfort thee.'

'David.'  It was his father's voice.  'Leave Deborah.  Come to me.'
He went up to his father, fearless, but not knowing whether a
caress or a blow was to be his fate.  Then he looked into his
father's eyes and saw that they were soft and humorous and knew
that all was well.

'Go, find Benjamin.  We must shortly be starting.'  Then, turning
to his brother, 'She has babies enough, Pomfret; she is weary, and
there's a bed at Herries waiting for her.'

He did not hear his uncle's retort, which was something fine and
free about beds and ladies and general courtship.  He was glad to
be away, he didn't care if he never saw his uncle or aunt again; he
hated them and Keswick and the inn.  But coming into the bustle of
the kitchen where serving-men and maids were shouting and pushing,
where dogs were waiting for chance pieces of food, and a man with a
feather in his broad hat was seated on the corner of a table
playing a fiddle, the stir and adventure of it all heartened him
and he was glad that he was alive and pushing, shoving forward into
this grand new world.  The kitchen smelt of everything in the world--
meat and drink and the heat of the great fire.  He looked around
him and found Benjamin seated in a corner near the fire, his arm
round a girl.  She was feeding him with pieces of meat off his

'Benjamin,' he said, ordering him as though he were a hundred years
his master, 'my father says that it's time for the horses.'

Many of them heard him and turned laughing, and a big woman with an
enormous bosom would have made him come to her, and a brawler
wanted him to drink, but he fixed his eyes on the stout Benjamin,
who put his plate down, gave the girl a kiss, and came without a
word.  So much power had Francis Herries over his servants.

Benjamin was plump and rosy; he should have been a fine figure of a
man, but he could eat all day without ceasing.  This was one of the
reasons that he was beaten by his master, but he bore his master no
grudge.  Everything that came his way he took, and over the bad he
shrugged his shoulders and over the good he laughed and grunted.

First or all he loved himself, then food, then women (all kinds,
young, old, ugly and fair--there was not the ugliest woman in the
country who was too ugly for him, and with his round, rosy cheeks,
merry eyes, broad shoulders and stout legs he could do what he
would), then cock-fighting, dog-fighting, football, bear-baiting,
rat-hunting, witch-hunting, all kinds of sport (he was himself not
a bad sportsman with the staff and cudgel, and boxing and running
and swimming), then every kind of a horse, then young David, for
whom he cared, perhaps, more than for any other single human being,
but not for him very deeply, only lazily and with easy good-nature.
He was from the South, and had, as yet, no good word for this
northern country.

He grumbled as they made their way into the dusky yard.  'Pox on
it,' he said, 'I'll pepper my own legs with shot, but I thought his
honour would give us another hour's quiet and plenty.  What's he
want riding on to-night for?  There's but few like the master for a
restless spirit. . . .  I'd match that white dog in the kitchen
there,' he went on irrelevantly, 'for a hundred guineas against the
grey bitch the master had in Doncaster.  There's a dog.  You could
see he never blinked a bird in his life.  And you needn't tell
master I was kissing Jenny neither!  They all say their name's

'I shall not tell him,' said David proudly.

'How many miles is it from this Borrowdale to Keswick?' asked

'Around seven, I fancy,' said David.

Benjamin nodded his head but said nothing.  'It's a little inn as
you might say, this,' he remarked.  'Small beside the south-country
inns.  Not much business in this little town.  Kendal's the way the
business runs.  Not but there won't be some sport in Borrowdale.  I
may be a poor man and not bred for writing and accounts, but I know
a dog when I see one.'

David missed many more of his remarks.  For one thing Benjamin was
always talking, not like the other man Nathaniel, who was a little
spare fellow, very silent and grim, and anyone who was often with
Nathaniel must accustom himself to think his own thoughts while
Benjamin chattered.  Besides this, David again was in his dream
state.  As he stood in the yard listening to the horses striking
the cobbles, hearing the curses of the hostlers, smelling the hay
and straw, catching the sharp cold of the breeze about his face, he
seemed to move, not on his own feet, but through the air, alighting
here and there and then up again, softly, breezily like the wind.

Thus dreaming he found himself standing with the others at the inn
door.  Father Roche was there, and Alice Press, his father, mother,
uncle, aunt, and his sisters--all dreamy and wavering together.  A
crowd had collected to watch their departure.  A great wind was
hurrying through the sky above the black gables and chimneys,
carrying soft grey clouds with it, and between the clouds once and
again a burning star stared and vanished.  The horses were stamping
and pulling at the heads.  Everything was ready for this last ride.

In the doorway stood the stout host of the inn, bowing as Francis
Herries very grandly thanked him for his courtesy.  Uncle Pomfret
laughed and shouted.  Then, as it seemed, a moment later one of
life's great happinesses had occurred, for David was sitting a
horse in front of his father.  He had expected that he would be in
front of Nathaniel, because all the way from Kendal he had been
with his father, and surely such luck would not come to him twice.
But here he was pressed against his father's body, and he could
feel the movement of his thighs and above his head the throb of his
heart, and in his face the wind was beating like a whip.

They were off, trotting over the cobbles, the horse slipping now
and then in the mud or refuse, his father stiffening as he pulled
at the reins, and at their side seen dimly his mother, pillion
behind Father Roche with Mary in her lap, Alice Press with Deborah
pillion behind Benjamin, the rest duskily in the rear.

The little town was very still; a light glimmered here and there
through a shutter, a watchman going from his warm room, perhaps, to
his night-duty passed them swinging his lamp, a chair in which a
lady highly muffled could just be seen went swiftly with its
bearers round the corner.  They turned out of the square to the
left, and the clatter that they made as they swept round the corner
drew some heads to the window and an aproned man with a candle in
his hand to the doorway.  Then as they began to clear the town
another thing occurred.  David was aware that certain figures were
running at their side and a man on a little nag was keeping pace
with them.  The same thing had happened to them on their way to
Kendal, when a number of farmers and others had gone with their
coach.  That had been because of footpads, and now this must be for
the same reason.

That made his heart beat faster.  They were passing out of the
guarded town and were running into dangerous country, dangerous
country that, although he did not know it, was to be his country
for many a year.  He had perhaps some sense of it there under the
biting wind, for he shivered a little and drew closer to his

They pulled up a little hill and were aware now at once of the open
country, for the road beneath them was treacherous.  The horses
began to walk, and even so they slipped and stumbled in the mud.
In the centre the path (it was little more than a path) was hard
and well-trodden but on either side a quagmire.  There was a faint
silver misty light in the sky, but this shifted and trembled with
the driving clouds.  On the left of them there were thick trees,
but on the right the landscape sloped to the mere, and in front of
them were black shadows that waited like watchers for their coming,
and these, David knew, were the mountains.  He was aware then of a
further thing, that his father was drunk.  Not bestially drunk.
Not ferociously drunk.  Happily drunk.  His body closed a little
about his son as he sang softly the children's game:

     'Lady Queen Anne who sits in her stand,
      And a pair of green gloves upon her hand,
      As white as a lily, as fair as a swan,
      The fairest lady in a' the land.
      Come smell my lily, come smell my rose,
      Which of my maidens do you choose?
      I choose you one, and I choose you all,
      And I pray, Miss Jenny, yield up the ball.
      The ball is mine and none of yours.
      Go to the woods and gather flowers;
      Cats and kittens hide within;
      But all young ladies walk out and in.'

David knew the words very well, because, although this was a girls'
game, he had played it to please his sisters.  His father repeated

'And I pray, Miss Jenny, yield up the ball--And I pray, Miss Jenny,
yield up the ball.'

Why had he chosen the name Jenny?  Was not that the name by which
Benjamin had called the kitchenmaid?  Did they, as Benjamin had
said, always cry Jenny for a name?  His father swayed slightly as
he sang, but the horse seemed to understand.  In any case they were
going slow enough.  No harm could come.  A little man trotting at
their side called up to them:

'I have a fiddle with me, your honour, and will play to you by your

And Francis Herries answered him happily:  'I'll swear you have a
fiddle and know how to play on it too.'  Then he began to talk very
pleasantly to his young son.  The path now was bending down until
it almost touched the mere, and David could hear the little waves,
driven by the wind, slapping the shore and rippling away again into

All his life he was to remember that moment; the clap of the
horses' hoofs on the path, the slap and ripple of the water, the
little panting breaths of the man running beside them, the warmth
and intimacy of his father's body, the dark woods above them, the
black hills in front of them, the fiercely moving sky, and the
gentle good-humoured voice in his ear.

'And so, David, we are passing into the perilous country where the
savages live, where there is only hay to eat and dirty water to
drink, where it rains for a hundred days.  Dost thou think there
will be bears there, David, my son?'

'I don't know, father.  I hope so,' said David.

'Bears of one family or another there will be, and snakes in the
grass and peacocks on the garden wall.  Is it not as though we were
escaping?  Escaping from what, think you?'

'We are not escaping,' answered David proudly.  His voice came in
little jolts.  They were now on harder ground and were moving more
swiftly.  'You would never run away.'

'No, would I not?  Art thou so sure, little son?  I have run from
the lions in my time and then again I have braved them.  But this
is the most perilous adventure of all.  We will not come from this
save with our naked skins; and if I am hard pressed will you always
stay by me, David?'

'Always,' said David, nodding his head.  'I could never be
frightened an you were there.'

'Couldst thou not, couldst thou not, my son?  Although the she-
devil with the silver hams and the glassy tongue came to down us

'I'm afeared of no woman,' David answered, but the trees now were
gathering about him very darkly, and it was cold.  In spite of
himself he shivered a little.

His father laughed, bent forward and touched ever so lightly with
his lips the boy's neck.

'So we are together, side by side, whatever the peril--for ever?'

David straightened his back.  'Yes, sir,' he answered proudly.

''Twas a maid in the inn said her name was Jenny when I kissed
her,' his father said, 'though she's no maid any more.  Not by my
doing, I had no time to test her virtue.  Eh, little son?'

David understood this only vaguely.  'I don't like women,' he said.

'Not your sister Deborah?'  His father laughed softly, deeply, as
though he were thinking of other things.

'I love Deborah,' David answered.

'And your Aunt Jannice?'

But David did not reply.  He could not.  He was fast asleep,
leaning back against his father's breast.

He woke again with a start to see that all the horses were at a
standstill and were gathered about a small stone bridge.  At that
same moment, as though it had been arranged, a round moon, cherry-
coloured, broke out from shadowy banks of cloud.

She stared down at them, and at once, as it seemed in his sleepy
half-wakened state to David, the clouds fled away; she sailed
gloriously in the sky of shining light scattered with stars.  The
world around them was like a world seen through glass, pale and
unreal, with the trees and hills of ebony sharpness.  A hamlet was
clustered beyond the bridge and the river, which was running full
and throwing up, under the moon, little white waves alive and

After a consultation they moved on upwards over a little hill with
hills on their left side and the flooded gleaming river on their
right.  It was all very quiet and still.  The storm had altogether
died away.  No one spoke, and the only sound was the hoofs of the
horses, now soft, now sharp.  The scene was now to David, who had
only all his life seen flat and shallow country, incredibly

They were passing through a gateway of high rock into a little
valley, still as a man's hand and bleached under the moon, but
guarded by a ring of mountains that seemed to David gigantic.  The
moonlight made them larger and marked the shadows and lines of rock
like bands of jagged iron.  In colour they were black against the
soft lighted sky and the myriads of silver stars.  A little wind,
not sharp and cold as it had been before, but gentle and mild,
whispered across the valley.

As they advanced, the only live things in all the world, it seemed
that in a moment someone must break the strange moonlit silence
with a cry:  'Ahoy! ahoy! who comes to meet us?'

But not even an owl hooted from the listening trees.  After a while
one mountain detached himself from the skies, coming towards them--
large, sprawling, very dark and solid, with a ragged edge.  To the
left of this mountain there was a straight thin ledge like a tight-
rope, and on the right a very beautiful cluster of hills, in shape
like the grouped petals of an opening flower.

Then quite suddenly they stopped.  'That is the house on the left
of us,' someone said.  It was the first voice for half an hour, and
the hills seemed to repeat:  'Yes, that is the house.'  The horses
trotted over soft, rather boggy, grass, up a little hill, through a
thick group of trees, and at once they were all outside a rough
stone wall that guarded a ragged, grass-grown courtyard.  David
looked at the house and was sadly disappointed.  Under the black
hills it seemed so very small, and in the white moonlight so cold
and desolate.  It appeared to be two houses: on the right it was
high, with a gabled roof and thin latticed windows; then it dropped
suddenly to a low rough-seeming building with shaggy farm byres at
its hinder end.  He noticed, especially, the windows of the higher
house, because there were two little attic windows like eyebrows,
and he could see, because the moonlight made everything so clear,
that the door of this house had handsome carving.  But the other
building was low and shabby and forsaken.

While they waited at the gate three dogs came out furiously
barking, and directly they were followed by a broad thick-set man,
walking clumsily, who hurried down to meet them.

Then a light was in the doorway, but still the house watched, cold,
desolate, under the moon, with no greeting for them.

'So--we are home,' he heard his father murmur.

Then he felt himself picked up in his father's strong arms, lifted,
then carried across the courtyard.

His father set him down, and he ran over the threshold of the
doorway.  The hall where he stood was flooded with moonlight, and
opposite him were two shining suits of armour.  People were moving
and talking behind him, but he did not hear them.

He was first in the house.  As he stood there in the moonlight he,
who had been asleep so long, was suddenly awake.

And he made his compact with the house.


Charles Francis Herries woke when the light of the fine new day was
throwing silver shadows across the misty fields.  Pushing back the
creaking diamond-paned window, standing there in his purple bed-
gown he looked down on the courtyard, the thick clustered yews that
guarded, as though with fingers on their lips, the house, the
ragged stone wall, then, beyond, the river, the thatched roofs of
the nearest yeoman's farm, the fields and the dark sombre hills.

He drew a deep breath, flung off the bed-gown and stood there
naked.  He did not feel the cold, nor the sharp crisped air; he was
at that time impervious to all physical pain and discomfort, a
magnificent creature in all bodily force and feeling.  He stared
out, then looked back into the little, thin, low-ceilinged room.
It was furnished scarcely at all--only a narrow truckle-bed on
which he and his son had been sleeping--David, his flushed cheek
against his arm, still lay there soaked in sleep--a big carved
chest with the date 1652 roughly cut upon it, a mirror on the
chest, and against the farther wall some old green tapestry (very
faded) that flapped and rustled now in the breeze from the open
window.  There was one high-backed and clumsy chair, and into this
his clothes had been carelessly flung.  David's little things,
carefully folded, were on the top of the chest.

He felt his body, punching it here and there, pinching it, kicking
out a leg, stretching an arm.  He might have been proud that he was
so handsome and in such splendid health--such marvellous health
indeed, considering the life that for ten years now he had led.
But he was scornful of that as he was of everything else.  What
good had his beauty, health, strength brought him?  Not so much
good as that silver moon setting now in a pale rosy sky beyond the
latticed window.

He stood there, the breeze blowing on his bare back and thighs,
looking down on his little son.  Here, too, he was scornful.  His
young son loved him, but would he love him as the years passed and
he grew to realise his father?  Would there not develop in him that
same withdrawal that seemed to come to every human creature after a
short contact with him--yes, even to so poor a thing as Alice
Press, who was already beginning to look at him with that strange,
surmising glance?  David at present trusted and adored him, and in
the centre of Herries' universal scorn, scorn of himself, of all
human beings, of the round world and all that moved in it, there
stayed this pleasure and pride that his young son so thought of
him.  That he could neither deny nor reject.  But for how long was
it to remain?  Would he take any steps to retain it?  He knew
himself too well to fancy that he would.

He turned again to look out of the window on to the scene that was
to be his now, he was determined, for evermore.  Whatever came of
this step that he had taken, whatever misery, ruin, disgrace, he
would hold by it.  It was final.  Only thirty years of age, he yet
seemed to see far, far into the future, and something told him that
at the very last these dark hills would encircle him.

The hill that chiefly his window faced seemed especially to tell
him this.  The houses of this time in this country were not built
that their tenants might look out on beautiful views, but rather
for safety and shelter, tucked tight in under the hill, guarded by
heavy yews.

Beyond the fields, in far distance, this humped, lumpish hill,
Glaramara, sprawled in the early morning light.  Herries knew well
its name.  For so long as he could remember he had known precisely
how this house must stand, and all its history.  In 1565, the year
following the founding of the Company of Mines Royal, Sir Francis
Herries, his great-great-grandfather, had come from his house
Seddon, north of Carlisle, in part charge of the 'Almaynes,' the
foreign miners, and built him a little house here, called it
Herries, and, at last, liking it and the country, had lived in it
altogether, giving up Seddon to his younger brother.

In all his young days at Seddon, Francis had heard of Herries, the
strange house in the strange country, shut in under the mountains
behind rocky barriers, cut off from all the world.  His grandfather,
Robert Herries, had tried for a while to live in it, but it had
been too isolated for him.  That, too, his father Matthew had
found, and had moved back to Seddon, and after this the old house
had been held by a yeoman, Satterthwaite, farm-buildings had been
added to it, and much of the older house had been allowed to fall
into ruin.

When Francis' elder brother, Pomfret, had made a fortune in
speculation (this largely by chance, because Pomfret was no
brilliant financier) he had built him his house in Keswick, caring
nothing for Herries, which, although so near to him, seemed yet at
the very world's end.

Satterthwaite, a clever yeoman above the abilities of his fellows,
had done well for himself, and built a farm-house over towards
Threlkeld.  It was then, after some years of desolate neglect, that
Herries had been suggested to Francis by his brother, and, driven
both by his romantic love for the notion of it and by his own
desperate circumstances, he had accepted with an eagerness that had
amazed the unimaginative Pomfret.  Yes, an eagerness that was
amazing even to himself.  What was it that had driven him?  That
part of him that loved to be alone, that loved to brood and dream
and enfold about him, ever closer and closer, his melancholy and
dark superstition and defiant hatred of the world.  That part of
him, too, that felt, as neither Pomfret nor Harcourt, his brothers,
felt, his passionate pride in his family.  Why that pride?  God
only knew.  There was no reason for it.  The Herries men had never
done great deeds nor supplied to the world famous figures.  For
hundreds of years they had been drunken, robbing Border freebooters;
only, in Elizabeth's time, his great-great-grandfather, Francis,
having some good fortune at the Court, had pushed up a little the
family fortunes.  That Francis had been a hard-headed fellow, a
flatterer, a time-server, a sycophant, but not ungenerous if he got
his way, and no fool at any time.  Elizabeth had a fancy for him,
would have kept him with her, and was none so well pleased when,
quite eagerly, he accepted the opportunity of surveying the foreign
miners who were sent to Keswick.

Something hurried him thither, that odd strain that was for ever
cropping up in every Herries generation, the strain of the dreamer,
the romanticist, the sigher for what was not, the rebel against
facts; and in that old Elizabethan Herries this romantic dreaming
went ill enough with hardness, his pushing ambitions, his desire
for wealth.

Between the two stools of temperament he fell to the ground, as
many another Herries had done before him.  This land in Borrowdale
caught his fancy; he stayed on and on there, losing at length his
interest in the mines, mooning, a dirty unlaced old man, behind the
rocks that bounded that valley, keeping company with the yeomen,
pursuing their daughters, drinking, riding, dicing--dying at last
in his old tumble-down house, a little soiled rat of a man with ale
dribbling at his ragged beard.

That was great-great-grandfather Herries.  The place had done
something to him, and Francis Herries, gazing now out of his
window, thought it an odd fancy that this same sprawling hill,
Glaramara, had looked across into that old man's eyes, seeing them
grow ever more bleary, more dim, more obstinately sodden.

And so it might be with him!  He had come even as that old man had
come, in the vigour of his prime and strength, and he had in him
those same things--that longing for what was not, dream of Paradise
round the corner, belief in a life that could never be.  And in him
also, riding him full strength, were lechery and drunkenness,
lasciviousness and cruelty.

As he stood there, idly gazing, he had a passionate family feeling.
Not for individuals.  He hated Pomfret, despised Harcourt, cared
nothing for his cousins, the children of his uncle Robert, who
lived London way, nor for his other two cousins, Humphrey and
Maurice Cards and their children, Dorothy, Jeremy, and Henry.
Humphrey Cards, a man a good deal the elder of Francis, lived now
at Seddon and was said to be a tight-lipped Quaker.  Francis had
never seen the Cards brothers; they inhabited London when he, as a
boy, lived at Seddon, but Pomfret knew them and despised them both.

No, there was not one of the family for whom Francis cared a rap,
neither agricultural Pomfret and his yellow-faced wife, nor
bachelor Harcourt, there on the edge of that dirty sea-coast at
Ravenglass, nor the purse-proud Kensington children of Uncle Robert
with their family coach and fine Queen Anne house and garden, nor
Humphrey at Seddon, nor ship-owning Maurice (his eyes, they said,
so deeply stuck into his business that he could see nothing else)
down at Portsmouth--not for a single one of them had he a warm
feeling or a kindly thought--they were all rogues and fools
together--and yet here he was, new-come to this tumbled old ruin,
gazing out on a couple of shabby hills and some grass-greasy
fields, and his heart was swelling at the thought of Herries and of
the Herries men and women before them, the Scotch and English blood
that had gone to the making of them, the English soil that had seen
the breeding of them.

He felt suddenly the cold, and with a shiver pulled to the window
and took on his bed-gown again.

There was a pump in the yard behind the house--he could hear the
handle going; he would go and soak his head under it.  He pulled on
a pair of breeches, thrust his feet into some slippers, and then
softly, lest he should wake his son, stole out.

The morning was deepening now, but the small heavily paned windows
let in little light.

The part of the old house that remained had not been ill designed,
the rooms lofty and the staircase wide enough for two to go
abreast, still something of a wonder in Queen Anne's day and
exceedingly unaccustomed in Elizabeth's.

This old house was of two floors, a most unusual thing in that
country, the court-room, the dining-hall, the withdrawing-room
leading one from the other.  Out of the court-room a stair led to a
loft that held the three bedrooms, two very small (in one of them
he had slept last night with David, in the other Alice Press with
the two little girls), and the other larger, containing a grand
bed, and in this his wife was still sleeping; Father Roche had a
small room below.

On the ground floor there was the entrance-hall and the kitchen,
and on to the kitchen abutted the farm-buildings rented by
Satterthwaite.  These were a diminutive example of the yeoman's
dwelling.  This building was slated, the ridge made of what were
known as 'wrestlers,' slates notched so as to interlock.  The rest
was primitive enough, the upper floor open to the oaken beams, an
oak partition portioning off the sleeping-place for master and

Below was the house-place, the parlour and the kitchen.  A man and
his wife called Wilson had been caring for the house ever since the
Herries family had forsaken it.

Coming down the rickety stair from the loft in the dim light,
Francis Herries could see at once that their care had been neither
vigilant nor arduous.

He stood in the dining-hall and looked about him.  In that dim air
without a sound in the world it seemed forlorn and desolate enough.

At the withdrawing-room end there was a raised dais, and at the
court-room end, opposite the dais, some high oak screens,
intricately carved.

Along one wall hung a fine spread of tapestry, fresh and living
still, worked in colours of red, brown, amber, dark purple, its
subject a hunting-scene, so handsomely wrought that all the wall
seemed alive with straining hounds and noble horses, huntsmen
winding their horns, and for their background dark hills and
clustering trees.

This was a fine piece, and Herries, looking at it, wondered that it
should be so well preserved.  For the rest the hall was furnished
barely--one long oak table, some stiff-backed chairs, a carved
chest, and a portrait hanging above the dais.

It was this portrait that drew now Herries' attention.  In the dim
light it seemed marvellously alive.  He did not question but that
it was the portrait of old great-great-grandfather Herries himself.
It had been undoubtedly painted after his coming to Herries,
possibly by some wandering artist who had strayed into these wilds
or by some London friend passing through Kendal on his way to
Scotland--whoever had executed it, he was, in that wavering light,
alive and dominating.  An old man, his face wrinkled and seamed,
his head poked forward out of some dark furs, his eyes dimmed, half
closed, and one thin hand stretching forward out of the picture, as
though to seize some prize or arrest some attention.

What Francis Herries felt, looking at it, was that there was here
an odd resemblance to himself.  Was it in the eyes?  How could that
be when his own were so bright and eager?  Or the mouth?  But this
mouth was puffed and seemed as you looked at it to tremble.  Or the
skinny neck between the furs?  Or the grasping hand?  He looked at
it, nodded his head as though the sight of it had decided some
problem for him, and passed on down the stairs, through the shabby
little entrance-hall into the open.

Behind the house he found an old-fashioned pump, and leaning
against the wall, scratching his head and yawning, was Benjamin.

By the side of the pump was a wooden bucket.  He signed to Benjamin
to come and help him, stripped (this was the blind side of the
house, and in any case he did not care who might see him).
Benjamin splashed him.  The water was ice-cold.  He pulled on his
breeches again, bid Benjamin rub his chest and back.  He was in a
splendid glow.

Over the low wall he could see the lights of the sky clustering
about Glaramara's shoulders.  Long swaths of yellow lay across the
pale ivory, and the edge of the hills rippled with fire.  A bird
sang, a little uncertainly, from the yews, and in the fresh
stillness other birds could be heard beating their way through the
shining air.

Benjamin, his mouth open, stared at his master, waiting for orders.

'Strip, you devil,' Francis Herries said, laughing.  'You are
sodden with sleep.'  Benjamin stripped at once, and his plump,
stout body began to shiver and quake as the cold air caught his
flesh.  Francis laughed, then filled the bucket and splashed the
water over the man, who did not, however, flinch, but stood there,
shaking, but at attention.

'I will repay your courtesy,' Francis said, and seizing him, rubbed
his naked body with a ferocious vigour.  Then, giving him a kick
with his soft slippers, cuffed him on the cheek and bid him put on
his clothes.

'How does this place seem to you, Benjamin?'

Benjamin, pulling up his breeches, answered:

'We shall come to a handsome knowledge of one another's customs,
hidden here from the world--but 'tis a good place for horses.'

Francis Herries looked about him.  'I haven't seen so clear a water
nor smelt so fresh an air for years.  But you can leave me when you
will.  I'll have no man stay who's a grumbler.'

'If I would leave you, master,' Benjamin answered with that odd,
half-sulky, half-humorous speech that was so especially his, 'I'd
have left you long ago.  There's been often reason enough.'

'Why do you stay then?' asked Herries.

Benjamin, rubbing his wet head, answered:  'I can't tell.  There's
no reason for why I do things.'  He paused, then added:  'Where you
are, master, there's food and dogs and horses.  Day come, day go,
life is the same anywhere in the world, I fancy.'

'And when I beat you?'

'All men are beaten,' answered Benjamin, shuffling inside his
clothes.  'I'd sooner be beaten by you than another.'  He added,
looking about him at the hills as though he were seeing them for
the first time--'  The fellow in the house tells me there's fine
bull-baiting, wrestling and other games round these parts.  Life's
not over for us yet, master,' and, as he shuffled off with his fat
walloping walk he grinned at Herries, showing himself half servant,
half friend; half hireling, to be kicked, beaten, abused; half
equal, knowing secrets and sharing confidences that must breed
equal contact.

As he turned to go back into the house Herries saw, looking at him
from the corner of the house-wall, an old, bent, infinitely aged
woman.  She had long, white, ragged hair, and a thin, yellow face.
She stood without moving, looking at him.

'Who's that?' he asked Benjamin.

'The house-man's mother.'

The old woman raised her hand as though to feel the wind, then

He went into the house to see his wife.  The bedroom was dark.  He
pulled back the curtains and then stood by the window looking
across at her.  That was a fine bed in which she was lying, the
curtains of faded crimson velvet, the woodwork splendidly carved.
Crimson velvet, torn and shabby, was tacked also on to some of the
panelling of the walls.  There was a portrait of a young lady in a
green dress and a white ruff over the fireplace.

His wife was yet sleeping.  He came to the bed and stood there
watching.  There was something pathetic in poor Margaret Herries as
she lay there, happy for a while at least in dreamless slumber.
All the anxieties, woes and bewildered distresses that attacked, so
increasingly, her waking life were for the moment stilled.

She looked a fool as she slept.  She was a fool, she would always
be one, but there was something gentle, kindly, appealing in her
stout characterless features.  And it might be that there was more
character there than anyone, herself most certainly, at this time

Maybe Herries, as he looked at her, felt something of this.
Drawing his purple gown closely around him, he gazed at her, lost
in his own disappointed ironical thoughts.

Why in folly's name had he ever married her?  They had been young
enough, he eighteen, she seventeen.  They had been idiots enough,
he vain beyond all vanity, she adoring beyond all conceivable
adoration; she had been pretty, innocent and wealthy.  Her father,
Ephraim Harden, a very successful City merchant, had died a year
before their meeting, her mother being already long-time dead.  She
was an only child and sent to an aunt in Carlisle on a holiday.
They had met at a Carlisle ball, he handsome, without a penny,
loathing the dull life at Seddon, where he hung on because he had
no means wherewith to live in any other more lively place.

Seddon was still his brother Pomfret's at that time, and Francis
and his brother Harcourt were permitted to remain there on a kind
of tolerating sufferance.  How he had hated that place with its
dull grey walls, its poverty and greasy indolence.  You might say
that this place, Herries, to which he had now come was dull and
grey enough, but, from the first moment seen on that moonlit night,
he had thrilled to it.  It had touched, and he knew this
absolutely, some deep fundamental chord in him.

But Seddon and brother Harcourt!  Harcourt with his thin, shanky
frame, peering eyes and most exasperating cough, his passionate
absorption in his books, so that he was only happy when they were
piled high around him, sending up their dusty thick smell on every
side of him.  Harcourt who, in his twenties, had been a gay spark
in London, an acquaintance of Swift and Addison and Steele, who had
helped in the exposure of the great Psalmanazar, been present at
the trial of John Tutchin, and even spent an evening with the
infamous Mrs. Manley of the New Atalantis!

But as Harcourt had grown, his zeal for letters had grown with him;
he had abandoned the town, buried himself in Seddon with his books,
and then, at Francis' marriage, taken himself to the sea-coast,
near Ravenglass, where he lived, a contented hermit.

It had not been altogether Francis' desire for money that had
driven him into marriage with Margaret Harden.  His motives were
never unmixed in anything that he did, always there was nobility
with his greed, tenderness with his cruelty, humour with his
pessimism.  He cared for her prettiness and innocence.  He might
have had her without the marriage ceremony, her body and her money
too, she adoring him so that from the first moment she could deny
him nothing, and he did not.

Nor was it only his weariness with Seddon.  From the first he had
realised that it was likely that Margaret Harden would weary him
more than ever Seddon had done.  He had felt a tenderness (which he
might now allow was principally a weak sentiment) for this lonely
orphaned girl, tied, until some man should carry her away, to the
strings of a dumpy, frowzy aunt whose only interest was in cards
and the scandals of the country town.

He had been stung to the venture also by the sharp pleasures of
rivalry.  The neighbouring squires, the sparks of the little town,
even some of the graver, more aged officers of the garrison, had
seen in Miss Harden's pretty face and splendid fortune an exciting
prize.  But from the first moment of Francis Herries' appearance
there had been no chance for any other.  He had been for her, poor
silly fool, the god of all her dreams and maiden longings.

Yes, she had been cheated as vilely as he--nay, in the issue of it,
much more vilely.  She was no judge of men, poor thing, and had
thought him as noble in character as he was handsome in person.
The aunt, tired swiftly of the burden of this innocent girl for
whom cards were too intricate a pleasure and scandal too
distressing a pastime, was delighted to have her off her hands.

Herries had, indeed, considered the thing at some surprising length
for a boy so young, but even at that age he had no illusions about
himself, knew himself very well for what he was.  But he wanted the
money, her face pleased him, he had a certain kindness for her, and
so the thing had been.

Looking down at her now he could not believe that, so short a while
back, she had been that pretty, slender girl.  Marriage had at
least agreed so far with her that, in the very first year, she had
begun to thicken.  The three children that had come to her (the
only happiness the poor lady had known) had not assisted her
beauty; you could not believe that now she was but twenty-nine
years of age.

And he would swear that all their quarrels and distress had not
been his fault alone.  She had never tried at all to grow to his
taste and wishes; she had developed in nothing during the twelve
years of their life together.  She had no curiosity, no
inquisitiveness, no sensitiveness, no humour--only sentiment, a
liking for good food, a weak indulgence of the children and an
infinite capacity for tears.  Unfortunately all his ill-temper, his
infidelities, his squandering of her fortune had not caused her to
love him less; rather she adored him more to-day than when she had
married him.  Even this last insult, of carrying Alice Press to
this place with them, had not stirred her resentment.

It was that above all that irked him.  Although he had tried again
and again to kill it, he had deep shame at his treatment of her--a
shame that never drove him to better behaviour, but that for ever
irritated and vexed him.  Had she abused him, sworn at him, there
would have been some reason for him to despise himself less, but
this submission to his unkindness made him, when he was conscious
of it, hate her for his reproach of himself.

Not one of his mistresses had ever been anything to him, and Alice
Press the least of all.  He had taken them in a kind of impatient
scorn of their eagerness.  What did it matter, one thing more or
less, since all had gone so ill?

She was stirring.  She raised her arm, let it fall again, sighed in
her half-sleep, sighed again and woke.  Seeing him, she gave a
little cry.  He must have looked wild enough standing there in the
half-light, his shaven head with its short, bristling hairs, his
chest showing bare through the lapels of the bed-gown.

'Francis!' she said, and smiled that trusting, half-deprecating,
appealing smile that he so thoroughly detested.

'It is a fair morning,' he answered, 'and time you were about.'

'I know.'  She raised herself, putting her hand modestly over her
breasts.  'I was dreaming.  I dreamt that my aunt Hattie was here
again and her dog Pompey, and that she was giving it chocolate.'

'Thank God,' he answered grimly, 'that the reality is more
gracious.  You are at Herries, and the cesspool below this window
is in full odour, and there is a witch in the house.'

'A witch?' she cried, alarmed.  She was crammed with superstitions,
old wives' tales of warlocks and broomsticks, prophecies and magic

'A witch.  I saw her but now alight on her broomstick, scratch a
flea from her ear and whisper with her familiar hedgehog.'

Margaret Herries smiled that nervous smile with which she always
greeted his pleasantries, not knowing whether he were in jest or
earnest; whichever way her conclusion went she was always wrong.

Now she thought that he was jesting and tittered.  Also she was but
half awake and could not see his face clearly in the half-light.
He came nearer to the bed and bent over her.  He was moved by one
of those sudden and to himself most exasperating impulses of

'You had best stay where you are,' he said.  'The last week has
been exhausting enough for a hide-bound alligator.'  He smiled, sat
down on the high bed's edge and touched her hand.

'Lie here, and the woman shall bring you some food.'

Margaret was awake enough now.  Any kindness from this adored
husband set her heart wildly beating, her cheeks flushing, her
tongue dry in her mouth.

'If you think it wise--' she stammered.  She had a desperate
impulse to press his hand, even to put her arm up, pull his head
towards her and embrace him, but she knew by bitter experience how
dangerous those actions would be.  Her hand lay pulsing in his.

'Margaret,' he said, 'if you find that I have done you wrong to
bring you here, if you cannot endure the remoteness of the place
and the savagery of the inhabitants, you must go for intervals of
every year to some town.  York is not so far--even Scotland.  There
is Carlisle . . .'  He broke off, remembering certain old scenes in

'And you shall take the children with you.  Only you shall not keep
David too long.  I have done wrong to bring you to this forsaken

The flush yet on her cheeks, she answered:

'Whilst you care to have me here, Francis, I care to stay.'

It was the most aggravating thing that she could have said.  It
called up in its train a thousand stupidities, placidities,
nervousnesses, follies that had, in their time, driven him crazy
with irritation.  Never a mind of her own, always this maddening
acquiescence and sentimental fear of him.

He drew his hand away.

'The rocks that hem us in are not more implacable than your
amiability, my dear.  I remember that your aunt, prophesying (how
truly!) our wedded bliss, said that you had a nature, mild,
trustful and clinging.  With what knowledge of human character she
spoke!  Cards and the frailties of her neighbours yielded her human
wisdom.  Then you shall not go--you shall stay and love and cherish
your husband, caring nothing for the odour of the cesspool, the
machinations of the household witch, the rustic brutalities of the
neighbouring yeomen!  I will see that some food comes to you.'

He got up from the bed with that abrupt, impatient movement that
she knew so well.  She recognised, poor lady, that she had already
lost her momentary advantage, how she could not tell.

She looked at him, loving his every feature, then said:

'Yes, Francis, I thank you.'

She was an exasperating woman.  As he went from her room he felt
that he did not care how unhappy she might be in this desolation to
which she had come.  She might make friends with the pigs for all
that he cared, and good luck to her.  And she was but twenty-nine
and growing fatter with every hour!  Was ever man so cursed?

And yet once again, as, later in the day, he rode out on his black
horse, Mameluke, he was affected by his compassion.  He had escaped
them all; he had not stayed for the meal which now that it was past
three o'clock would soon be on the table.  He must be alone and
facing his own strange thoughts.

At first, as Mameluke trotted quietly along the rough path, he did
not notice the country round him.  He saw for a while nothing but
himself and he saw himself in a mirror, his features caricatured by
the distorting glass, his body lengthened to a hideous leanness,
his forehead peaked to a white cone-shaped dome.  Well, thus he was--
and thus.  This sudden quiet, this hush of the fields and sharp,
refreshing coldness of the air seemed to bring the issue of the
situation before him in sharper form than it had taken for many

The issue was this--that unlike all the men and women that he knew,
the squires and boon-companions of Doncaster, the women, loose and
otherwise--alone of them all he longed for something that he could
not touch.  He had a vision, a vision that took, when he was with
Father Roche, a religious shape, when he was with Alice Press a
fleshly, with little David a pride in family, with the beauty of
landscape and fine stuffs and rare pieces a poetic, but all these
only forms and vestures of a vision that was none of them, but of
which thing all were.  And with this vision there was the actuality
of his life--his life wasteful, idle, cruel, sensual, selfish,
vain.  He did not, as he rode now on Mameluke, turn his head away
from a single aspect of it.

He had once dreamed a dream.  It was some five years back at the
end of a race-meeting in Doncaster.  He had stayed in an inn in the
town for the night.  Drinking heavily, he was yet not drunk as were
his companions.  He had shared a room with one of them, pulled his
boots off him, flung him down on his bed, where he lay loathsomely
snoring.  Himself he had gone to the window, pushed it open and
stared out on a splendid night flaming with stars.

And there, it had seemed, propped forward on a little chair, his
head almost through the window (so that he might easily have
tumbled on to the cobbles below), he had fallen asleep.  Had he
slept or no?  How many times since then he had asked himself that
question!  In any case, through his dream he had seemed to hear the
sounds of the night.  The slow, lazy call of the watchman, the love
duet of cats, the rumbling of a country cart on distant cobbles,
the snores of his neighbour, these had been behind and through his

His eyes open, he would have sworn, staring into the stars he had
beheld a vision.  He was in a region of vast, peaked, icy
mountains.  Their fierce and lonely purity, as silver-pointed they
broke the dark sky, caused him to cry out with wonder.  The sky was
dark; the mountains glittering white, they ringed round a small
mere or tarn, black as steel in shadow.

There was absolute silence in this world.  Then as he looked he saw
a great white horse, glorious beyond any ever beheld by man, come,
tossing his great white mane, to the edge of the mere.  He
hesitated, lifting his noble head as though listening, then plunged
in.  He swam superbly, tossing his mane, and Francis could see
silver drops glistening in the icy air.  He swam to the farther
edge; and then Francis was seized with an agonising terror lest he
should not be able to climb, out of the mere, up the icy sides of
the cliff that ran sheer into the water.  That moment of suspense
was fearful and compounded of a great love for the splendid horse,
a great tenderness, a great reverence and an anguish of

Then, tossing his mane once more, the beautiful horse mounted out
of the mere, strode superbly across the ice and vanished.  Then,
again, there was great loneliness.

Waking from this dream and staring back at the little room, stuffy
and smelling of drink, the floor tumbled with clothes, his thick,
open-mouthed, red-faced companion, he knew an instant of acute,
terrible disappointment.  For a moment he thought that he would
throw himself out, end everything, so as to kill the disappointment;
and perhaps it would have been as well had he done so, because,
since then, that disappointment had been always with him.

The more that he had hated the noise and filth and confusion of his
life in Doncaster, the more he had plunged into it.  Now, as he
slowly passed along the darkening path that was leading him
gradually into the shadow of the hills, he saw one incident after
another of the Doncaster life, stretching out their hands to him as
though they were figures that kept pace with him.  The foolish duel
with young Soltery, a quarrel about nothing when they were both
drunk, Soltery who was terrified, and then more terrified yet that
he should seem terrified.  He saw young Soltery's eyes now, as they
faced one another in the early morning light on the fields outside
Doncaster, eyes of a frightened, bewildered child--and he had shot
away one of young Soltery's ears, so that he would be disfigured
for life.

Or fat Maitchison the surgeon with his brilliance, his obscenity,
his odd beliefs in magic and other humbug--that foolish night in
Maitchison's rooms when they had defied the Devil, smashed the
mirror, stripped Maitchison's mistress naked and painted her
yellow.  He could see now the room, furniture overturned, the glass
of the big mirror scattered over the floor, and fat Maitchison with
gusts of drunken laughter painting the naked back of the swearing
girl. . . .  And the sudden opening of the door, the breeze blowing
in from the street, the candles going out, and someone crying that
bats were hanging on the ceiling. . . .

Yes, the races, the cock-fights, the bull and bear baiting, the
debauchery and smells and noise--a roaring in his ears, a stink at
his nostrils, and always in his heart this longing for the icy
peaks of his dream, the black tarn, the splendid horse with the
snow-white mane.

He was young, and should do something with his talents.  That he
was talented he knew.  They all told him so.  He had infinite
courage, splendid physique, an interest and curiosity in many
things.  What should it be?  Which way should he go?  And meanwhile
the years slipped by, and now, obeying some mad, mysterious
impulse, he had cut himself right off, hidden himself among the

Was he to laze here, slouching about, making familiars of the
yeomen, riding with them, chaffing their wives, perhaps seducing
their daughters?

For what had he come here?  He only knew that already the place was
working into his veins--the silence, the air with an off-scent of
ice in it, the hills that were perhaps only little hills and yet
had so strong a power--witchcraft hills, hiding in their corners
and wrinkles magic and spells.  As he rode on, the outside world
was beginning to slip ever farther and farther away from him.  His
was the only figure in the landscape; the whole country, as the
afternoon shadows lengthened, seemed naked.  Above the clustered
group of mountains at the end of the valley a little minaret of
pale grey clouds was forming, one cloud stealing upon another as
though with some quiet purpose; a purple shadow fell over these
hills as though a cloak had been suddenly dropped over them.

He saw on his right then a group of buildings.

His empty world was in a moment peopled with life.  Near him at the
fork of the road was a small crowd gathered about a pedlar who had
slung his box off his neck and rested it on a flat stone.  Herries
drew nearer and, sitting his horse, watched quietly.

The scene that had been a moment before wild and haunted was now
absolutely domestic.  Three healthy, red-faced girls stood there,
their arms about one another's necks, laughing and giggling, one
stout yeoman, some farm boys, and a little man, tow-coloured like a
wisp of hay, who, by his drab dress, should be one of those
itinerant parsons and schoolmen who went from house to house in
country districts, taking odd services of a Sunday and teaching the

The pedlar was a tall, thin scarecrow of a man, having on his head
a peaked faded purple hat, and round his neck some of the coloured
ribbons that he was for selling.  By his speech, which was
cultivated, he was no native, and, indeed, with his sharp nose and
bright eyes he seemed a rascal of unusual intelligence.

The little scene was charming in its peace and security.  Some
cattle were being brought across the long field, two dogs at their
heels; a voice calling in rising and falling cadence sounded, as it
seemed, from the hills, and in the foreground there was the sharp
humorous note of the pedlar, the laughter of the girls and young
men and, once and again, the deep Cumbrian accents of the yeoman.

At first they had not noticed Herries, but when one of the girls,
looking up, gave a cry of surprise, they were not disturbed, and
after a glance went on with their private affairs, governed by a
certain dignity and independence of their own.

The pedlar, however, was aware of him although he continued his
patter.  He had 'Fine thread satins both striped and plain, Persia
nets, anterines, silks for scarves and hoods, shalloons, druggets,
and some Scotch plaids.'  On his tray there were some pieces of
fine bone lace, Chinese boxes, necklaces, gold rings set with
vermilions, several gold buttons, and red watch bottles ribbed with
gold--or he said it was gold.  And some books.  Chap-books and
calendars, Poor Robin, The Ladies' Diary, some old sheets of the
London Gazette, and some bound volumes of Plays.  These things of
fashion looked strange in the open fields before the little country
group, who fingered and laughed and fingered again.  The jewellery,
indeed, had a false air, but the ribbons and lace were pretty, and
above, Herries must fancy, the purses of the locals.  Herries
noticed, too, that the pedlar did not seem too intent upon his
sales or purchases, and that his sharp eyes went everywhere, and
especially to Herries and his horse.

He thought to himself that this would not be the last time that he
would see that pedlar.

The shadows of the hills now covered the valley; the light flashed
palely above Glaramara and then fell.  Herries turned his horse
towards home.  As he moved away the little tow-haired parson
detached himself from the others and approached him.

His long parson's coat was green with age, shabby and stained, and
his breeches were tied about the knees with string, his bony
fingers purple with cold, his nose red; but he had about him a very
evident dignity.  He bowed, but not subserviently.

'It has been a fine afternoon,' he said, keeping pace with
Mameluke's gentle step.

Herries, impressionable ever to the moment's atmosphere, his spirit
touched now by some quiet and happiness, answered, as he could when
he so pleased, with charm and courtesy.

'The day falls quickly in these valleys.'

'And the light is for ever changing,' the little clergyman answered
with pleased eagerness.  'You are newly arrived here, sir?'

'But yesterday.'

'I know everyone in this neighbourhood--man, woman and child.  You
are the gentleman who has come to Herries by Rosthwaite?'

'I am,' answered Herries.

'There has been much interest in your coming, sir.  It will be the
wish of everyone that you will find it pleasant here, and stay with

'Do you also belong here?' asked Herries.

'I do the Lord's will and go whither He sends me.  For some years
now I have taught the children of these villages, assisted at
services, done what the Lord has bidden me.'

'You are not a native of Cumberland then?'

'No, sir, I am from the South.  I was born in Bideford in Devon.
For many years I was chaplain to the Earl of Petersham.'

'Why, then, have you come here?  It must seem a severe exile to

'The Lord spoke to me in a dream and ordered me to go North.  I was
to walk forward until I saw a naked man tied to a tree, and in that
place to abide and do His will.'

'Where saw you your naked man?'

'After many months, begging and preaching my way through the
country, I came at last to the village of Grange on a summer
evening.  And above the river where the bridge is, I saw a man
naked and bound with ropes to a tree.  The men of the village were
throwing stones at him: he was near death.  He had been caught
robbing a yeoman of the place of two hens.  I urged them to release
him, the Lord prevailed, and afterward I lodged in his house.  I
lodge there yet.'

'And what, then, do you teach the children?' asked Herries,
entertained by this simplicity.

'The Lord's Word, the Catechism, and, when they wish it, Greek and

'You have no family?'

'My wife is with God.'

The dark was falling more swiftly now, and it was difficult to see
the path.  Herries jumped off his horse and walked beside the

'What is your name?' he asked him.

'Robert Finch.'

'How shall I like this place?  It is cut off from the world.'

There was a sudden odd note of scorn in the little man's voice as
he answered:

'It IS the world, sir.  Here within these hills, in this space of
ground is all the world.  I thought while I was with my lord
Petersham that the world was there, but in every village through
which I have passed since then I have found the complete world--all
anger and vanity and covetousness and lust, yes, and all charity
and goodness and sweetness of soul.  But most of all, here in this
valley, I have found the whole world.  Lives are lived here
completely without any thought of the countries more distant.  The
mountains close us in.  You will find everything here, sir.  God
and the Devil both walk on these fields.'

'And if I believe neither in God nor the Devil?'

'You are a young man for such confident disbelief.  God was
speaking to me now, and has told me that you will find everything
that you need for the growth of your soul here in this valley.  You
have come to your own place, sir.  You are young and strong, but
the day will come when you will remember my words.'

Herries looked back down the path.  In the dusk he could see it
point like a pale, crooked finger straight at the heavy black hump
of Glaramara that was dark against lighter dark.  Again he felt ice
in the air and shivered.

'They are little hills by your foreign sort,' he said, 'and yet
they impress.'

The small voice beside him answered:

'They are the loveliest hills in all God's world.'  Then it
continued, taking another tone, very mild and a little anxious:
'You have children, sir?'

'Three,' answered Herries.

'If you were in need--' he hesitated.  'My Greek and Latin are
good, and I have authority with children.  If I could serve you--'

Herries laughed.

'I must warn you,' he said, 'there is a priest in the house.'

There was a pause while the wind, rising, began to blow fiercely,
swaying the branches and turning the dead leaves about their feet.

The voice began again:  'He instructs your children?'

'A little.'

'Your own religion--?'

'Nay, I am no Catholic.  I have told you I have no religion.  How
think you, Mr. Finch?  In this drunken, debauched world what is
your God engaged upon?  He is busy elsewhere improving some other

'Christ died upon the Cross suffering a worse bewilderment.'

Herries laughed again.

'Well, you shall try your luck upon them.  But we are a wild house,
Mr. Finch, and may, in this desolate country, become yet wilder.'

They had come to the gate that led to Herries.'  They paused.  To
Francis' surprise the little man laid his hand on his arm.

'You are young, sir.  I have ten years' advantage of you.  I fancy
your wildness does not frighten me.'

'On thy head be it then,' Herries cried, as he led Mameluke up the
path.  The way here was very rough, and he began to curse as he hit
the loose stones, plunged into mud, fearing that his horse might
stumble and damage his knees.  His mood was changing with the
swiftness that belonged to his moods.  Oddly enough his mind had
turned to Father Roche.  The little clergyman had reminded him.
Why was he burdened with this priest and the risks and penalties
connected with his presence?  It was true that just now there was a
lull in the Catholic agitation, but it might burst out again at any
instant.  Herries did not doubt but that Roche was busied in a
thousand intrigues both political and religious, and they were
intrigues with which he had no sort of sympathy.  Jacobitism made
no appeal to him--he hated the French influence behind it.  He
wanted no king for England who would be ruled by French money and
ambition.  Moreover, he took in any case but little interest in
politics, and had no romantic feeling for that world.  Nor had the
Catholic religion attraction for him; he despised what seemed to
him its mummery, the child's play, as he saw it, of its tinkling
bells and scented air.  But Roche's influence over him was strong
and subtle.  Ever since his first meeting with the man some five
years before, it had persisted.  And for what reason?  Roche was
stern, unsympathetic to all Herries' pleasures, showed no warmth of
feeling to Herries (no warmth of feeling to anyone, indeed, save
little David), used Herries' house quite openly for his own private
purposes, had carried on in Doncaster, as Herries well knew, a
network of plans and plots with an odd audacity and defiance.  When
he spoke intimately with Herries it was to rebuke him.  And yet
Herries would endure from him things that from another he would
most furiously resent.  Where lay Roche's power?  In the continued
suggestion that he held somewhere a solution for Herries' sickness
of soul?  Not in any dogma lay that solution, but in something
deeper, something far more profound. . . .

But (and here the house with its lighted windows loomed suddenly up
before him as though it had been pushed up through the rough
ground) was the priest to remain?  Why?  He and Alice Press should
both be sent packing.  One must start fair in this new place--and
for a moment before he pushed back the heavy door he had a picture
before his eyes of the country group in the fading afternoon light,
the coloured scene, the quiet and the animals and the purple-shaded
hills.  Here in this good land there should be no place for the
priest and the woman. . . .  Here in this good land--and a moment
later he was caught into one of his dark, bestial, frantic rages.

He had left his horse outside the door and, calling Benjamin,
pressed up the staircase to the little tapestried dining-hall.  A
high, thick-clustered candelabrum was burning on the table, all the
candles blowing in the winds that came from the floor-cracks, the
slits in wall, roof and window.

At the table his wife was seated crying.  Alice Press, very gay in
a crimson gown, was turning scornfully away from her, even as he
entered.  The three children were playing together by the oak
chest.  Over all the room there was a frantic disorder.  Some of
the boxes, brought by the pack-horses the night before, were there,
and scattered about were suits, gowns, china, stuffs, linen,
children's toys.

A strange thick scent of burning wax, damp straw and odours from
the neighbouring cesspool lay heavy about the candle-shine.  He had
ordered that the boxes were not to be touched until the morrow,
when he could supervise the opening of them.

By whom had he been disobeyed?  Both women began to chatter, his
wife wailing, Alice Press loud and shrill and defiant.  The little
girls began to cry.  At that moment Benjamin, a foolish smile on
his chubby face, appeared at the stair-head.

Francis Herries caught him by the neck, then, raising the riding-
whip that was still in his hand, cried:

'What said I to these boxes?  Hast thou no wit, thou lubber-pated

Benjamin shouted something; everyone began to call aloud at once.
The room, the house, the world was filled with shouting and stink
and a raging anger.

To come thus, from an afternoon so quiet and promising, to this
vileness!  Anger boiled in his heart, choking him.  He had
Benjamin's coat off his back, struck the bare flesh again and
again, lashed him about the head, the legs, the thighs, and when
suddenly the man hung his head and began to droop in his arms he
let fall his whip and began to beat him with his hands, letting him
at last drop, a huddled, half-naked heap.

The man had fainted.  Raising Benjamin's head, Herries was suddenly
remembering how that morning in the fresh air by the pump he had
rubbed in friendliness the man's body while the birds wheeled
through the sky.

A sickness caught him at the heart.  He told David to run for some
water, but before the boy had returned the man was reviving.  He
was lying back, his head on his master's knee.  He looked up, then,
flicking his eyelids, said:

'It was not by my word, master, that the boxes were opened.'

Clumsily he rose to his feet; he caught his coat to his bare chest--

'I'll be rubbing the horse down,' he said, and stumbled down the


Pomfret Herries lived at this time in one of the most beautiful
houses in Keswick.  It was beautiful, not by his own taste or
fancy, but because he wished to have a better house than any one of
his neighbours.

This has always been a habit with certain of the Herries.  Desiring
this, he chose for architect that strange, saturnine hermit, old
John Westaway, known in Keswick for a madman and the best architect
in the North, a desperate traveller who knew Italy as you might
know Skiddaw, who had been invited again and again to London, but
preferred to live in his little house above the river, seeing no
one, liking no one, buried in his books and art treasures.  All
over the North Westaway's fame ran.  He was an old man now, had
been, it was said, in his youth the friend and intimate of
Chesterman and Van der Vaart and Vanbrugh, a curmudgeon, a surly
bachelor, in league, some whispered, with the Devil himself,
pottering about that house, with its pictures and statuary, and his
dark Italian servant--a devil, but the finest architect, it might
be, in England.

He had made Pomfret pay for his fancy, and when it was done Pomfret
had grumbled so that you might hear him from John o' Groat's to
Land's End--but it was a beautiful house.  People came from Kendal
and Carlisle and Penrith to look at it, so that at the last Pomfret
and his wife had grown proud of it and spoke of it as entirely
their doing.

In fine proportion, its roof covered with red tiles, the wrought
ironwork across its front showing like lace against the stone, the
house was oblong without gables.  The windows were for their period
most modern.  They were sash windows, a great rarity, and they were
beautifully spaced.  The doorway had fluted columns and over it
there was a charming and delicate fanlight.

The house was outside the town near to Crosthwaite Church, and the
gardens ran down to the weeds and rushes of the lake-end.  The
garden held lime trees and the lawn was bordered with tubs of
orange and bay trees.  There was a little terrace and a rosy wall
of red brick, and beyond the formal garden a meadow, the lake and
the rising hills.  To the right some greenhouses, a flower garden
and a kitchen garden.

Inside, the house was wide, spacious and full of light.  First a
pillared hall, on the right the parlour, on the left a fine, wide
staircase opening into a splendid saloon.  Beyond the parlour a
large bedroom leading to a greenhouse.  On the upper floor other

Pomfret's chief pride was the saloon, the decoration of which
Westaway had designed and executed--the subject was Paris awarding
the apple.  Lady Herries had been disturbed by the naked goddesses
until it was seen that no one else minded.

In this fine house Pomfret inhabited only one room, a dusky
apartment crowded with guns, stuffed animals and fishing-rods.
Here he drank merrily with his friends.

Lady Herries' home was the parlour, where she read her medicine
books, scolded the maids, suffered in a bitter silence that ancient
lady, Pomfret's aunt, fed a screaming macaw, and gave her
neighbours tea and chocolate.  The three children had their own
room far away at the top of the house.

There was a great array of domestics, from Mrs. Bellamy the
housekeeper to little Peter the black boy, who had been purchased
in London, shivered in the cold, and stole everything that he, with
safety, might.

Mrs. Bellamy was of the family of Mrs. Slipslop, and made all the
mischief both in the house and in the neighbourhood that time and
talents permitted her.

They could scarcely be called a united family, for they were never
together.  Pomfret diced, drank, rode, hunted with his masculine
friends, who liked his company because he was stupid enough for
them to rob him at will.  Jannice, his wife, bullied him when she
was with him, forgot him when she was not.  She loved him only when
he was ill, and this was often enough, for his intemperate habits
and his swinish feeding caused him constant attacks of biliousness
and vertigo.  There was nothing that Jannice Herries loved like a
medical treatise; her familiar and, after Mrs. Bellamy, most
constant companion was old Dr. Ellis, who would discuss with her by
the hour the whole works of that excellent practical physician, Dr.
Thomas Sydenham!

She experimented on her staff, her family and any neighbours who
would permit her.  Little Peter, who was sick every other day from
stealing confitures from the store-room, was her most unhappy
patient.  And yet, of course, this is not all that can be said
about Pomfret and his lady.  At heart they were kindly and well-
dispositioned.  Only they had no imagination, and had been covered
with a thin skin of wealth that, like a rash upon their souls,
discomforted them, made them uneasy, suspicious, unhappily proud.

Pomfret loved his children, but did not know how to approach them.
He cuffed them and spoiled them and cuffed them again.  He was
generous-natured and desired that his friends should be happy, but
he suspected that they laughed at him, and so was pompous and grand
when he wished to be easy and familiar.

His money he had made, as he well knew, from his obedience to the
advice of a London friend, Hartwell, who, at a certain moment, had
directed his affairs.

Although his companions robbed him he had wisdom sufficient to
leave his affairs in Hartwell's hands.  He pretended to a knowledge
of commerce and exchange; it was, as he knew in his heart, a bare
pretence.  He did nothing well, rode badly, shot badly, fished
badly.  He knew moments of great unhappiness.

Jannice Herries was also without imagination.  She was acrimonious
and bitter, but she knew that this was not her real life.
Somewhere real feeling was hidden, but day succeeded day and
nothing was done.  She knew that she was unpopular among the ladies
of Keswick, but she swallowed every compliment that Mrs. Bellamy
gave her, and at the end was more lonely than before.

After her interest in medicine her most active passion was her
hatred for Pomfret's Aunt Maria, that very ancient lady, who, born
in 1645 and for a time in the fashionable world, was now a hideous
remnant of a dead and musty past.  She longed for this old lady to
die, and would have poisoned her ere this, but alone of the
household Aunt Maria refused all of her niece's drugs.  She was now
eighty-five years of age.

Finally with both Pomfret and his lady there remained a constant
uneasiness about their wealth.  It had come so oddly, without any
true justification.  It might go as oddly again.  They had
witnessed in the last twenty years a series of financial panics.
Now with the abominable French ready for any villainy, all this new-
fangled independence of servants and labourers, who knew what the
next event might be?  The Catholics were listening at every window.
Why, here was Francis Herries coming to live in the neighbourhood
and bringing with him quite openly a rascally priest.  Although
Walpole and the Whigs were in, who knew how strong was their power?

Jannice Herries' favourite remark to Mrs. Bellamy was:  'Things are
not as they were.'

To which Mrs. Bellamy with a shudder would reply:  'No, my lady.
If I know my own mind there was never a truer word spoken.'

'And what will you do, Bellamy, if your master is ruined?'

'Heaven strike me dead if I ever desert you, my lady!  Marry come
up, don't I know a virtuous place when I see one?'

But Bellamy had been lining her pocket for many a year, and being
Mrs. Bellamy only by courtesy had her eye on a handsome victualler
in Kendal, whose hearth and home she proposed to encompass and
govern on the first signs of distress in the Herries country.

The three children, Anabel, Raiseley and Judith, lived in their own
world.  They, like their father, were Herries of the unimaginative,
matter-of-fact breed.  They took things as they came, and each, in
his or her own fashion, worked quietly and obstinately for personal
profit.  Anabel was good-natured, plump and easy.  Raiseley was
clever.  It would not be true of him to say that he was without
imagination, but it was imagination of an educational kind.

He was studious, priggish, aloof and cold, rarely roused to anger
but unforgetful of the slightest injury.  He had the wise,
calculating side of the Herries blood; he was studious, honest to
chilliness, and despised both his father and his mother.  Judith
would be beautiful; she was dark and slender and already cherished
her beauty as her most important asset.

These three were all typical Herries on the stony side of the
family character.  They saw everything in front of their noses and
nothing beyond.  They did not mind in the least their social
isolation.  They might contemn one another, but united at once in
condemnation of all other children.

They were waiting now in their high, chilly room for the visit that
their cousin in Borrowdale was to pay them.  Only the little boy,
they understood, was coming with his father and mother.  They had
already gathered from the conversation of their elders that Uncle
Francis was a disgrace.

Of the three of them at this time it may be said that Raiseley and
Judith held out no hope of later humanity; for Anabel, because of
her good-nature and a certain carelessness that went with it, there
were possibilities.

On this afternoon the three children were in their chill room
quietly busy.  Judith was seated motionless in a high chair, a
collar round her neck, a board tied to her back.  This was for her
figure.  She was watching the grandfather clock in the corner.
Five minutes of her daily half-hour remained.  This half-hour was
valued greatly by her, because she knew that this discipline was
for the benefit of her beauty.  She was only nine years of age, but
had already a grave and considered air.  Anabel, who was thirteen,
was curled up in the window-seat looking at the pictures of some
chap-books, Babes in the Wood, Bluebeard, Little Tom Thumb.  But
she was not reading.  She knew the old stories by heart.  She was
wondering what her little cousin would be like.

She, unlike her brother and sister, was sometimes lonely.  She
confessed it to no one, but she loved parties and fun.  Maybe this
little boy would be agreeable.

Raiseley was yawning over his Virgil.  Mr. Montgomery, who came
every day to teach him Latin and Greek, had but just now gone.

'Jam pater Aeneas . . .' murmured Raiseley, and fingered a little
box in which he had a cocoon concealed.  He hid this from his
parents and Mr. Montgomery, because they would disapprove if they
knew.  But soon the cocoon would be liberated.  No one told him any
of the things that he wanted to know about animals, about the
stars.  Now, when he thought of these things, a new expression came
into his eyes.  He was suddenly alive with a questioning,
investigating alertness.  His cold, pale, pointed features gained
an interesting sharpness.  The book fell from his hand.  There were
many things that he would know one day; they should not stop him
pursuing his knowledge.  Mr. Montgomery with his sing-song voice,
his perpetual cold at the nose, his eagerness to please, how
Raiseley despised him!

He would like to see Mr. Montgomery whipped as little Peter was
whipped, or standing as the man they had seen one day in the
pillory in the market, his face smeared with the mud and the yellow
of the eggs that people had thrown at him.  And, as he thought of
these things, his face achieved an added sharpness, coldly,
intellectually speculative--'Jam pater Aeneas. . . .'

He looked at the little pile of books beside him--A Guide to the
English Tongue, by Thomas Dyche, schoolmaster in London; Paul's
Scholars' Copy-Book, by John Raynor; The Use of the Globes.

He did not look at them resentfully.  He would extract from them
everything that they had to give him.

'Judith,' he said, 'I should know more than Mr. Montgomery knows in
a year or two.  I would think it fine to see him in the pillory as
a week back we saw that man.'

Judith, motionless, her eyes on the clock, answered:  'We are to go
downstairs when our uncle and aunt come.  I am to wear the grey-

Anabel, from the window, said:  'I like David for a boy's name.'

'I heard them say,' went on Raiseley, 'that Uncle Francis is always
drunken and beats Aunt Margaret.'

'But he is very handsome,' said Judith.  'He was wearing such fine
clothes the other day that father was shabby beside him.'

'Fine clothes,' said Raiseley scornfully, 'and they living in mud
and dirt up to their elbows!  They say that Borrowdale is full of
witches and giants--wolves too.  I would like mightily to see a
wolf.  I shall ask Uncle Francis to take me.'

The clock struck the half-hour.  Judith very carefully separated
herself from her board and collar.  At that same moment the door
opened.  They were told that it was time for them to dress.

David and his mother had indeed already arrived.

Poor Margaret Herries had been for weeks dreading this visit.  It
was now a month since they had come to Herries, and the weather had
been so terrible that the ride to Keswick had been impossible.  It
had rained and rained; not as it rained in Doncaster, with gusts
and flurries and pauses and whispering, but in a drenching flood,
falling from the grey, lowering sky like sheets of steel.

And the mountains had crept closer and closer, and the cold stolen
into the very webbing of the sheets, the torn tapestries beating
against the wall, and the mice boldly running for comfort to the
peat fire.  A horrible month it had been, but with all the courage
at her command she had faced the rain, the isolation, her loathing
for Alice Press, gathered her children round her as she might and
made what she could out of the situation.

Oddly enough she had not been unhappy.  Francis had been ever close
at hand.  He did not go off for nights at a time as he had done at
Doncaster.  That might come later--but at present it was as though
the place cast a spell upon him.  He pottered about the house, rode
out to Stye Head, walked up Glaramara and the neighbouring hills,
wandered along the lake by Manesty and Cat Bells, made himself
known to some of the neighbouring yeomen, was silent often enough,
drunken at times, angry once and again, but on the whole more her
companion than he had been since their first marriage year.

And so there had increased in her heart her ever-constant loyalty
to him.  What she had suffered watching the degradation of his
reputation during these past years no one would ever know.  She
would never tell.  Here it was as though he had begun a new life.
Stories long commonplace round Doncaster would here not be known.
He would start again, and she would do everything in her power to
assist him.  Only his brother's family could spoil this fair
beginning; she had seen and heard enough already to feel that
Pomfret and his wife were Francis' detractors and would from the
first take care to be dissociated from any scandal.

She was as fiercely prepared to fight her brother- and sister-in-
law as any lioness in defence of her cubs, but her trouble was that
she was not a lioness.  She was a coward; while she was riding
pillion behind her husband and her son, she was aware that at the
first sight of Jannice in her own domain she would lose courage,
she would tremble, she would show faint-heartedness.  Francis had
things that he must do in Keswick.  He would come later to his
brother's house to fetch her.  She must face Pomfret and Jannice

So she stood, David at her side, in the little hall with its
rounded pillars, its stone floor in black and white squares, its
fine picture of an Italian scene, with dim greys and purple for
colour, hanging on the right of the staircase.

They were ushered into the parlour.  It was lit with candles, and
David had never seen such a room.  But before he could examine the
room he must be startled by the persons in it, by his aunt Jannice,
who was dressed superbly in a high wig mounted over a cushion and
decorated with roses and daisies, her hoop spread about her, the
outer skirt of crimson velvet and the front of her dress white and
silver.  On one brown cheek she wore a black patch.  She was
grander than any lady that he had ever seen; no one who came to
their house in Doncaster had dressed like that.  Young though he
was, he realised that her thin, meagre figure and brown complexion
ill suited such finery.

But his childish attention was soon drawn from his aunt to the
terrific figure who sat in a high chair under the window.  This was
his great-aunt Maria.

He would never have believed, had he not seen it with his own eyes,
that any person could be so old and yet live.  Her wig of a bright
brown colour was arranged in a fashion of fifty years ago, falling
about her strange mask of a powdered, painted face in long curled
ringlets.  Over one eye was a black patch.  Her green bodice was
peaked, and her full, open sleeves were caught together with
jewelled clasps.  Her wide skirt was of purple satin.  Her fingers,
so thin that they were like the ivory sticks of a fan, were loaded
with jewels.

On her lap was a small King Charles spaniel.

She appeared a painted image.  Except for her one visible eye
nothing in her face moved.  David was a polite little boy, but
again and again he had to stare.  Here was a portent, a revelation
in his young life.

The little black boy was standing behind Lady Herries' chair, and
as soon as greetings had been exchanged they all sat down.  The
little black boy handed chocolate; a bright purple macaw in a gilt
cage by the window screamed.

For a little while there was a terrible silence.  The room was very
hot; there was a large log fire.  The sky beyond the window was
bright with a silver glow.

When the talk had started David could look more easily about him.

He was indeed enchanted with the softness and beauty of everything.
Beyond the wide window he could see the trim hedges, the paved
path, the fountain with a strange stone bird, long-necked and
violent-beaked, rising out of it, and beyond the fountain the line
of trees guarding the waters of the lake.

Within the room there were countless objects that he longed to
examine more closely, a screen worked in gold thread, a silver
casket, a clock with the sun, moon and stars on its face.  But more
than these, the terrible old woman with her strange ringlets, her
painted face, the cascades of her bright purple dress, the sharp-
pointed fingers weighted with flashing jewellery. . . .

'Indeed,' his aunt was saying, 'I wonder at Mr. Flammery.  'Tis a
poor child that doesn't know its own father, and there's a
multitude of his own poor children must be in a fine confusion.'

This puzzled David, who, looking first at his aunt and then at his
flustered mother sweating in the face with the heat of the room and
the agitation of this her first so important visit, wondered how it
could be that any child should not know its own father.  He of a
certainty knew his well enough.

'Yes, indeed,' his aunt continued, looking, as he was even now old
enough to discern, with an odd mixture of curiosity and contempt at
his mother.  'You must be well aware, Margaret, of the world into
which you have come.  In winter I doubt that you'll be able to move
a step.  You live in the heart of savages, and when the lake is too
wild for passage and the roads all of a muck to your armpits the
civilised world will be as distant from you as the Indies.'

'I don't doubt,' said Margaret, flushing and perspiring the more,
for she knew that it was at her own abandoned Francis that these
remarks were made, 'but that the days will pass.  There's
sufficient to do about the house to take a month of winters. . . .'

David then was aware that his great-aunt's eye had turned in his
direction.  He was fixed by it as a rabbit by the eye of a
snake. . . .  It was as though he, sitting on the edge of his
chair, and this very ancient lady, both of them motionless, were
holding some strange secret communication.  Then he was aware of
something further--that his great-aunt was about to speak.

In an odd, cracked but exceedingly piercing tone she said:  'God
save His Gracious Majesty.'

The worst had happened.  The old woman was silent often enough for
days together, and this was well, because she was a burning
fanatical Jacobite.  The terrors into which her dangerous political
opinions had again and again plunged Pomfret and his wife were both
ludicrous and tragic.  Sometimes for weeks she kept to her room,
and on every occasion that saw her enter that sanctuary everyone
about her breathed the hope that it would be for the last time, but
her powers of revival were incredible, and down once more she would
come to sit and watch and await her awful moment.

She had been born on the 14th of June 1645, the day of the battle
of Naseby, but her great days had been during the last years of
Queen Anne, when she had known Godolphin and Marlborough and been
received by Lady Masham, having her feet planted in both camps.

But she had been nevertheless, heart and soul, Jacobite, and, it
was said, played some part in the intrigues of those last dramatic
months.  The Elector of Hanover had been for her the Devil himself,
and when his cause had been definitely won she had retired from
London, professed openly her Jacobite sentiments and chattered and
prayed for the coming of the Day.

No one had much regarded her; she had lived in a small house in
Winchester, until, her brain softening, Pomfret, driven by one of
the kindest and gentlest impulses of his life, had given her
shelter and protection.

How many thousands of times since then he had longed for her
decease was a secret between himself and his Maker.

Now with terror and dismay Jannice Herries heard her speak.  Here
was their skeleton clattering straight out from the cupboard and
before that fool Margaret Herries.  But Margaret was too deeply
buried in the warmth of her confusion to pay much regard.  Only the
little boy felt the power of those few cracked words; something
spoke in his heart, some strange sympathy that he suddenly felt, to
which he quite blindly and unknowingly responded.  He was to
remember at a later time this queer muffled moment.

The situation was immediately saved for Jannice Herries by the
entrance of her children.  The children had beautiful manners.
Mrs. Bellamy in black silk, her hands folded across her stomach,
stood behind them--the boy bowed, the little girls curtsied.
Anabel's eyes smiled at David.  He was quick enough at once to
perceive that the other girl was thinking of her own looks.  She
was like his own sister Mary in that.

And then the eyes of the two boys met, and they knew one another at
once for foes.  David had as friendly a heart as any boy in the
kingdom, but he realised an enemy when he saw one.  One straight
look at Raiseley's cold reserve and proud consequence and something
within him said:  'I hate my cousin.'  Just as the cracked voice of
the old woman speaking to him five minutes before out of an ancient
past was to return to him with significance in years to come, so
that first glance exchanged with Raiseley was to influence the
Herries family fortunes for many future generations.

Looking at Anabel, David thought to himself:  'That's a friendly
girl.'  He was uncomfortable among these grown-up persons, and
hoped that it would be suggested that he should go with his cousins
to see the garden or their toys.  He would like finely to inspect
more closely that fountain of the beaked bird or to hunt among the
reeds at the water's edge.

But no suggestion was made.  He too was standing now, his hands
stiffly at his side as his father had taught him.  The room grew
ever hotter and hotter, and with every moment he felt more
indignantly Raiseley's scornful eyes upon him.

Margaret Herries must talk to her nephew and nieces.  She was never
at her ease with children.

'Fine children,' she said nervously to her sister-in-law, 'and
seemingly in grand health.'

The word 'health' was the trumpet to sound the charge to Jannice
Herries, who answered proudly:  'Fine and sound they are, sister.
Six months last sennight Judith here was sorely threatened with the
Falling Sickness--hast thou heard of the Antepileptic Crow,

'I fear not,' said Margaret timidly.

''Tis a perfect cure for the Falling Sickness.  Judith was cured by
the crow.  Deplume and eviscerate a large crow, casting away its
Feet and Bill; put into its Belly the Heart, Liver, Lungs, Bladder
of the Gall, with Galangal and Aniseeds; bake it in a new Earthen
Vessel well shut or closed in an Oven with Household Bread; after
it is cooled, separate the Flesh from the Sides or Bones, and
repeat this Operation of baking the second or third time, but
taking great care that it may not be burnt, then reduce it into a
fine powder.'  She recited this in a high sing-song as though it
were poetry, her eyes almost closed.  Opening them she saw that
Margaret was gazing at her with great humility and reverence.
Maybe the woman was not such a fool after all.  She would make, it
might happen, something of a companion.  A kindliness stole about
Jannice Herries' heart.  It would be something to have a friendly
creature near her whom she could patronise and gratify and
instruct.  The days in truth were lonely enough. . . .

'You must come and see us at Herries,' Margaret went on to the

'Yes, ma'am,' Raiseley answered, gravely bowing.  'It is said that
there are wolves in Borrowdale.  I would gladly see a wolf.'

Margaret smiled timidly.  'David shall show you the wolves.  He has
been already in the mountains.  Have you not, David?'

Judith, who, since the Falling Sickness had passed as a topic, felt
perhaps that she was not receiving sufficient attention, smiled her
prettiest smile, so that her aunt, thinking how beautiful a child
she was, said, speaking directly to her:

'My little girls, Mary and Deborah, will wish to show you their
toys and babies.'

'Yes, ma'am,' said Judith in her softest, gentlest voice, so that
her aunt looking at her loved her.

Once more they were interrupted, and this time it was the two men
of the family.  David waited for his father's entrance.  First
there was Uncle Pomfret, red-faced, noisy, with his:  'Well, then--
here's all the family!  Haste away!  Haste away!' and then a sudden
look of almost childish discomfort and unease.  Quietly behind him
David's father, kindly to-day and, for David, so handsome in his
dark suit and lace ruffles that all the colour in the room went out
before him, dimmed to abasement.

Yes, his father was in good humour to-day, coming forward and
kissing the old lady's hand, saluting his sister-in-law's brown
cheek, turning then to the children, pinching the cheeks of the
girls, tapping Raiseley on his shoulder. . . .  How proud of him
David was and how ardently longing for the moment to come when he
would catch that glance and, perhaps, that smile.  But for a while
he did not.  His father paid him no attention.  The parlour was
overcrowded with figures and the sound of Uncle Pomfret's
demonstrations.  Now he was being jolly with his children:  'You
will be the death of your poor father . . . I promised your mother
to give up half the afternoon to your entertainment, and wasn't I
to show you the best pack of dogs in England?  But no, Mr.
Montgomery don't allow.  Pox on Mr. Montgomery--and here's your
uncle and little cousin come to visit us--yes, and your aunt
too. . . .  Pleased to see you, sister . . . and there's no Mr.
Montgomery to stop a family welcome, odrabbit it!  I am determined
upon your being good children now and welcoming your little
cousin . . . fine boy, brother Francis.  He shall come a-hunting.
Canst ride, boy?'

'Yes, uncle,' said David, 'a little.'

'That's more than thy cousin Raiseley can do then.  Put him on a
horse and he's like the Witch of Endor on a broomstick. . . .  Wilt
thou learn to ride then, Raiseley, to please thy father?'

This public mockery was anguish to Raiseley, nor did he fail to
ledger it in the account against his young cousin.  But his pale
face did not alter; no shadow of a change was upon it.  Looking his
father in the face, he answered steadily:

'I will learn, sir, an you wish it.'

'An I wish it!'  His father broke into a roar of laughter--'Hark to
that now!  An I wish it!  Have I wished, then, to have a milksop
for a son?  'Tis all your Montgomerys and their Latin grammars that
have spoilt thee, boy--Here,' catching David suddenly by his
breeches and raising him in the air, 'here's the spit of a tree!
Here's a lad knows a dog when he sees 'un, that I'll wager!  Wilt
come with thy uncle hunting, David?'

But he waited not for an answer.  He was aware that his wife
thought him foolish and noisy.  He turned confusedly to chatter to
his sister-in-law.

It was then that David had a word with his father.  They were
standing a little back from the others.  'David, you are to go now.
Your mother will ride home with me.  You will find Father Roche to
the left along the road.  He is waiting now at the turn to
Crosthwaite Church.  You will ride back with him.'

At once David obeyed.  He turned, bowed to his great-aunt, kissed
his aunt's hand, heard above his head the excuses for his
departure, smiled at his girl cousins, exchanged one look with
Raiseley and was gone.

How proud he was to be treated thus--as though he were already a

He pushed open the heavy house-door, stepped through the courtyard,
between the high gates and into the dusky road.  It was almost
dark; shadows lay about the broad path and little winds ran
whispering about his feet.

A great sense of adventure possessed him.  Behind him was the
lighted town, near him the warm house with its fires and talking
company, and outside the house the garden with the bird fountain
and all its ordered discipline running to the wild edge of the lake
with the clustered reeds.  Young though he was, he yet felt the
humanity and safety of this world crowded with all its persons so
diverse as the ancient lady and little Peter and Cousin Raiseley,
his enemy.  All this within firelit walls, but, outside, the long
road running, as though on a secret purpose, below the mountain
that seemed to him huge in the night air, Skiddaw; by now he knew
its name.  But here, also, there was a church, and men might ride
with ease, and at short distance all the traffic of the town.  But
away from it the road ran on, curving at the lake's end, running up
the hill, then above the lake's side until at last it reached that
little bridge and the high rocks behind it that were the barrier of
his own dark country.  There was danger, there, romance and
adventure.  Cousin Raiseley had said that there were wolves there.
He did not know how that might be, but a month's living there had
shown him how strange and removed a world it was, and already it
was beginning to pull at his boy's heart, so that he was ready to
defend it and feel that he was citizen of it.  Yes, he would know
every tree, every rock, every corner of it before long; he would
push his way into every one of the mysteries. . . .

He had been walking swiftly down the road, a little afraid,
although he would not have owned it to anyone, of the sound of his
own footsteps, when he saw at the parting of the two ways a horse
and a figure standing beside it.

The figure came to meet him, and at first he did not recognise it,
because Father Roche was dressed as an ordinary gentleman in plain
riding clothes.

'Father Roche,' he whispered.  He had not intended to whisper, but
the silence and loneliness of the road commanded him.

He was taken up and in another moment was seated in the front of
the saddle.  They started off.

'Not Father Roche any more,' the figure behind him murmured.  'Mr.
Roche . . . the times move, and we must move with them.'

His voice had to-night more than ever before the power to move
David.  He was himself already excited and stirred, and, as they
moved over Derwent Hill, through the village of Portinscale and
then up over Swinside Hill, with every step they seemed to be
moving into some mysterious country, and it was Father Roche's
power and spirit that was leading them.  Was he then no longer a
priest?  Could you at one moment be a priest and then, at the next
moment, not?  Was it at his father's orders that he had ceased to
be a priest?  But for the moment he was too deeply excited by his
own experiences.  'Uncle Pomfret's house is very grand.  It is
grander than ours at Doncaster.  There is a garden with a fountain
that is a bird's head, and a clock with the sun and moon on its
face.  My great-aunt Maria is a very old lady--she looks a hundred
years.  She has long hair falling about her face.  My cousins were
present, and my cousin Raiseley is very grave as though he thought
well of himself. . . .'  He paused, then added:  'We will fight one
day.  And I shall win.'  His little back straightened and his short
legs tightened about the horse's neck.  'Uncle Pomfret always
speaks at the top of his voice.  He lifted me by my breeches and
said that I should go hunting with him.  Will my father permit me,
think you?'

'Yes, David, when you are older.'

David sighed.  'It is always when I am older.  My cousin Raiseley
asked whether there were wolves in Borrowdale.  He said that he
wished to see one, but I doubt it.  I think he does not care for
dogs and horses and wild animals.'

They were going more slowly now, climbing the hill.  It was
bitterly cold, even a little snow was falling, and a few stars were
like points of ice in the sky.  They were climbing to high ground.
There were three paths on this farther side of the lake, but as
Father Roche had been warned in Keswick only one was passable for a
horse and that the highest.

'My great-aunt Maria,' David went on, drawing a little back on
Father Roche for greater warmth, 'said once "God save His Gracious
Majesty."  Aunt Jannice was vexed, so that I knew that it could
not be the King in London.  It is forbidden, is it not, to speak of
the other King in Rome?'

Father Roche drew the boy closer to him.  The time had come, then,
to speak.  The boy was now of a sufficient age.  For years now he
had been waiting for this moment, and he was well pleased that it
should be at this instant, cold and sharp under the winter night
sky, with the world so silent on every side of them.  It had been
the lesson of his life that he should have no human passions, and
he had learnt it well, but in spite of all his lessons human
feeling had grown in his heart for this boy and this boy's father.
There were many other plans and schemes in his life that went far
beyond his momentary relations with the Herries family.  He stayed
with them only because it suited his larger purposes to do so, but
growing up in his heart in these last years had been the longing to
turn this boy on to his own paths.  During these weeks since coming
to Borrowdale David seemed to have grown in mind and perception.
He was already wise in some things beyond his years.

'David, will you listen a little as we ride?  I have wished for
some time past to speak to you.  You are of an age enough now to

David nodded his head proudly.  The only sound in all the world was
the clap-clap of the horse's hoofs on the frozen ground.

Father Roche went on:  'There was a King in England once who was a
martyr.  Wicked men in the malice of their hearts slew him, and so
interfered with one of God's most holy laws--the Divine Right that
He hath given to those whom He has appointed as His rulers on this
earth.  This martyr, King Charles of blessed memory, was, perhaps
more than any other man on this earth, near in his sufferings to
our Saviour Himself.  When Christ suffered there was darkness over
all the land, and so when King Charles was under trial there were
mighty wonders in the sky.  You have read of the centurion who was
assured that He was the Son of God, and his servant was healed; so
with the Blessed Martyr, one of his guards was driven by conviction
of sin to repentance.  Did they not part our Sovereign's garments
among them?  Even so have they taken his houses, his possessions,
his very garments from our master. . . .  And in his life, in his
gentleness, his courtesy, his love of his fellow-men, did King
Charles approach most closely that blessed prototype.'

Father Roche paused.  The road ran now over Cat Bells and
Brandelhow; from its bend the land dropped straight to the lake,
which could be seen now like a dark mirror of jet below hills that
were faintly silver.  The horse's breath rose in front of them in
clouds of steam; facing them was the hump, black as ebony, of the
Castle Crag, and, more gently grey, the hills behind it.  For young
David, to whom this view was to become one of life's eternal
symbols, he was to hear always, when he beheld it, the beautiful,
melodious voice of the priest and to see again the scattered steely
points of the stars in the velvet sky.

'His was an unrenounced right of sovereignty.  None could take it
from him.  He had been placed there by God, and man had no voice in
that choice and circumstance.  He was murdered and betrayed by the
sons of the Devil. . . .'

A thrill of sympathy touched David's heart.  Oh, had he been there,
he would have died for that King!

'Even as Christ did, so could he work miracles.  Have you ever
heard how, being taken by his captors through the town of
Winchester, an innkeeper of that city, who was grievously ill and
suffocating, flung himself on his knees before His Majesty, crying
"God save the King!", and the King said:  "Friend, God grant thee
thy desire," and the tumours and sores disappeared, and the man was
made whole?  And the kerchiefs dipped in the King's blood after his
death had also this miraculous property.

'His son had also this virtue, and, it is said, touched one hundred
thousand persons to cure them. . . .  Since this family appointed
by God to rule over England have been in exile God's face has been
turned away from us.  Nothing is so sure and certain in this world
as that our beloved country shall not again prosper until our
rightful King returns to us.  Do you understand what I have been
saying to you, David?'

'Yes, sir,' answered David in an awed voice.

They clattered through the little village of Grange.  Some woman
came to a lighted door to watch them pass.  Under the stone bridge
the river, flooded with the recent rains, rushed to the lake.  They
turned into their valley under the dark rocks.  'The time may come,
David, when every true man will be challenged.  Under which King,
God's or man's?  What will thy answer be, boy?'

'Under God's King, sir,' answered David.

'Keep silence about what I have said even to your father, but talk
to me when you have a mind.  Wonder at nothing that you may see me
do.  I shall come and be gone again, but wherever I may be I shall
know that I can trust thee. . . .'

'Yes, sir.'

'You will not be afraid if a day should come . . .'

'No, sir.  Only my father . . .'  It was not for him then to know
how little in later harsh fact this picture of God's King would
affect him.

'Your father is my friend.  He knows me.'

'Yes, sir. . . .  Will he, too, be ready when the day comes?'

Roche hesitated--

'Every true man who loves his God and his country will be ready.'

'Yes, sir,' answered David again, suddenly sleepy and very cold.
Loyalties?  He now had many.  To his father, to Deborah, to this
King in Rome.  Life was beginning to be filled with great
adventure.  There was his father in his dark suit with the silver
cuffs, there was the old lady a thousand years old, Cousin
Raiseley, whom he would one day fight, his uncle who would take him
out hunting, the King in Rome who made people well by touching
them, Father Roche who was now no more a priest, his mother whom he
loved and Mrs. Press whom he hated, and the old woman in Herries
who was a witch, and the hill with the caves, and the more distant
hills, where one day he would make great discoveries.

They turned to the house, black and cold under the scattered stars.
But it was home, and there would be fire and something to eat, and
then falling asleep in the room where his father would afterwards
come . . . and then the King in Rome . . .

He was shivering with cold when Father Roche lifted him down from
the horse and carried him in.


David looked up at the woman whom he so thoroughly detested, with
fearless eyes.

'I went out because I wanted.'

'Yes, and the muck and all you've got into,' she answered crossly.
'But it isn't for me to say, I've no authority.  And the horses not
returned yet from Keswick, and the hills darkening the whole place.
I hate this house--from the first instant I set foot in it I've
hated it.  A nice, pretty kind of life for one who's young enough
and handsome enough for a frolic or two.'

She swung the silver chain that lay about her neck and touched the
crimson velvet of her sleeves.

'And you fast with the priest all the morning,' she continued, her
sharp eyes darting about the shadowy room.  'What is it he must
speak so long about with a child like you?'

'He teaches me Latin,' David answered quietly.

'Yes, and many another lesson, I'll swear,' she answered.

He could see that her ears were ever straining for a sound.

'Ugh!' she shivered, 'the rain's coming down again, and all the old
tapestries flapping against the wall.  It wasn't so in Doncaster, I
can promise you, before your father engaged me.'

'No,' said David, hating her.

'No, indeed.  There was music there and dancing and the Fair at
midsummer and the Plays at Yule.  But here . . .'

She broke off.  She thought that she had caught the clap of the
horses' hoofs on the ragged stones of the little court.  She sprang
to the darkening window, then turned impatiently back, caught the
flickering taper and held it to the leaded pane.  Once again she
was disappointed.  There were no horses there--only the tap of some
branches against the wall and the seeping drip of the rain.

'Why did you come here?' asked David.

She struck her hand violently on the table--'Why? why? why?' she
answered passionately.  'You are a child.  How should you know?
And yet--'  She came over to him, caught him by the shoulders and
stared into his eyes.  'You hate me, do you not?  Young though you
are, you know enough for that.  You all hate me here and wish me
gone.  And most of all that priest--who has persuaded him against

'He is not a priest now,' answered David.  'He is only Mr. Roche

'No priest?  Yes, that is fine talk.  Once a priest always a
priest.  And where has he gone this afternoon, riding away to
Keswick?  Where is it that he goes for nights together?'

'I don't know,' answered David.

'I'll tell you more,' she continued.  'He can be in prison any day.
There are the laws against the Catholics, and he serving Mass in
that upper room.  Have I no ears nor eyes?  So he shall be in
prison if he returns and I have my way.'

She stopped again to listen.  The house was intensely silent.  The
two little girls were with their mother in her room.  There could
be heard even through the rain and the wind the noise of falling
water, the swollen stream tumbling down the side of the hill at the
house's back.  She stood thinking, then came closer again to David.
He moved as though he would shrink from her, then firmly stood his

'David, do you not think you could speak to him, to your father?
When nobody else is by--he listens to you.  I have noticed that
when no other can speak to him he can be patient with you.  Ask him
if he will not ride out with me for an hour--I would tell him
certain things.  For weeks now I have not been alone with him, and
I shall go mad . . . this desire . . . this longing. . . .'

She broke off as though the words choked her, putting one hand to
her throat and with the other gripping the boy's arm.  David saw
that she was in great suffering, and could have been sorry for her
had he not hated her so.  He remembered that night at the Keswick
inn when his father had come in and kissed her.  He hated that she
should touch him, but he did not move.

'You must speak to him yourself,' he answered.  'My father, these
past weeks, has had business in Keswick and in the country here.'

'Business in Keswick!' she answered scornfully, pushing him from
her so that he almost fell.  'Fine business!  Such as he had in
Doncaster.  Riding into Keswick to play at cards and look at the
women, stumbling about in these mucky country paths to find a girl
with bright eyes. . . .'

David cried:  'You shall not speak against my father.  When he
wishes to talk with you he will tell you.  Yes, it is true that we
all hate you here and wish you gone.  My mother cries because of
you.  You struck Deborah when she had done no wrong.  You should
return to Doncaster, where there are games and music. . . .'

He was trembling with rage and with a desire that in some way he
might persuade her to go.  Oh, if only she would go away. . . .

But already she had forgotten him.  Her ears again had caught a
sound, and this time she was not deceived.

The clatter of hoofs was on the stones of the court, and at the
same instant Margaret Herries, the two little girls beside her,
appeared, holding a light, at the stair's head.

'Is he come?  Is he come?' she cried eagerly, and then started down
the rickety stairway, moving heavily and awkwardly, the children
close behind her.

The hall, that had been only a moment before so dark and drear with
the faint light and old Herries sneering from the wall, was now all

Francis Herries in his deep riding-coat, Wilson following him with
candles, entered, and his wife and the children ran to him.  Alice
Press stayed in the dusk.  They could see at once that he was in a
good mood.  He laughed as he saw them, caught Deborah and David to
him, bent forward and kissed his wife.

'Yes, something to eat and drink.  I'm parched and famished.  The
rain blew against us like the plague.  I thought Mameluke would
have fallen twice, and it was such thick darkness along Cat Bells
that it was God's miracle we were not in the lake.'  He pulled
Deborah's hair.  'Thou knowest there's something here for thee and
for Mary too--the other pocket for David. . . .'  Laughing and
shouting with excitement, they felt in the pockets and pulled out
the bundles.  For Deborah there was a 'baby' with bright flaxen
hair and a dress of green silk, for Mary a toy tea-set, cups and
saucers decorated with pink roses, and for David battledore and

With every moment the room grew more lively.  A big log-fire was
leaping in the open fire-place.  Wilson and his daughter were
setting the table; Benjamin had come in (Nathaniel had left them at
Martinmas), a bottle of wine in either hand, his round face smiling
with the pleasantry of the familiar servant who knows that to-night
he has nothing to fear from his master's temper.  Only Alice Press
stood back against the wall, without moving, her hand against her

Francis Herries, his riding-coat flung into a chair, stood before
the fire, his legs spread, warming his back.

'Dear brother Pomfret is to visit us tomorrow,' he said.  'He will
condescend to take the journey.  Keswick was a pool of muck; you
couldn't stir for the mud.  And so, Deb, you love your baby?'

Deborah was sitting on a stool at her mother's feet, hugging her
doll.  She was in an ecstasy of happiness, rocking the doll in her
arms, then straightening it to smooth its stiff hair, her eyes
shining, looking at her brother every once and again to see that he
was sharing in her pleasure.

Francis Herries, looking out at them all, hummed in a half-whisper
the children's song:

     'Lady Queen Anne who sits in her stand,
     And a pair of green gloves upon her hand,
     As white as a lily, as fair as a swan,
     The fairest lady in a' the land.'

To-night he was well content.  The mood was upon him when
everything seemed fair.  It was good thus to come home to his own,
to find the candles shining and his own things about him, and his
children, whom he loved, longing for him.  The devil of
restlessness was not with him.  That afternoon in Keswick he had
won three fine bets at the cock-fighting.  He had drunk just enough
to make the world glow.  Even Margaret, his wife, could seem, close
to him, neither so stout nor so foolish. . . .  Ah, if they would
let him alone, his little pack of demons, he could make a fine
thing of this life yet.

His eyes, roaming, found Alice Press, motionless against the wall.
His voice changed.

'Have the babies been good?' he asked her.

She came forward into the candlelight.

'Well enough,' she answered, and turning sharply, left the room.

The food came in.  The others had dined long ago, but they crowded
about him as he ate, and Benjamin stood behind them, smiling
beneficently, as though they were all his handiwork.

While he ate and drank he told them little things about his Keswick
day--how they had been baiting a bull in the market-place and two
dogs had been killed; how there had been a medicine man pulling out
teeth, and he had pulled two wrong ones from an old woman, and she
had demanded her money back, but he had not given it: the old
woman's son had fought him and knocked his tub over; how he had had
a talk with old Westaway, the architect of Uncle Pomfret's house,
and what a strange old man he was and had been the world over and
seen the Pope in Rome and the Czar of all the Russias, and spoke in
a shrill piping voice, and trembled with anger, so they said, at
the sight of a woman; how there was a little black boy for sale
like the one Aunt Jannice had, and some splendid dogs, big and
fierce, who would do finely for defending the house in the winter;
how there had been in the market-square the day before a gathering
of those strange people, the Quakers, and they had been set upon
and two of them stripped naked and splashed with tar; how they told
him that there was a band of robbers now in Wasdale that came down
from Scafell and had murdered two shepherds in the last week; and
there was a fine gathering of gentlemen for the cock-fight and he
had not done so ill there. . . .

Here he broke off; he knew what Margaret thought of his cock-
fighting--another evening he might have teased her and been pleased
to see the fear come into her eyes, but not to-night. . . .  He was
young as David to-night.  He had David on his knee, his hand
fingering his hair.  His wife, Margaret, was praying:  'Oh, Lord,
let this last awhile.  Let this last awhile.'

After his supper they played Blind-man's Buff.  Francis Herries'
eyes were bound with the handkerchief.  The children ran, screaming
and laughing; Margaret herself played and ran into his arms, and
once again--after how many years--her husband had his arms about
her, held her, kissed her cheek.  It was David's turn to be
blinded, and, as he stood in darkness, he could hear all the sounds--
the crack and tumble of the fire and the hiss of the falling ash,
the rain against the window, the breathing of the people about him;
and it seemed to him that all the room was lit with red light and
old great-great-grandfather Herries came down from his picture-
frame and ordered him to come to him.  He ran forward; an instant
of awful terror came to him.  But all was well; it was into
Benjamin's arms that he had run, and as he felt the stout, soft
body with his hands he screamed with excited relief:  'It's
Benjamin!  It's Benjamin!'--then Benjamin was blind man.

After breakfast the whole world is filled with light.  Everything
moves together.  Round Herries the entire universe centres itself,
spreading out to endless distances that are mysteries--China, Pera,
the kingdom of Samarcand--but pouring all its waters into this one
deep purple pool--purple of Glaramara, purple of the shadows and
eaves and door-post, purple of the feathers in the peacock fan
carried by the Princess in Deb's chap-book, purple of the darker
river shadows that lie beneath the spume and froth tumbling through
Grange to the lake.  Through the shadows of this purple February
morning, David, standing at the road-bend, Deborah beside him, saw
the moving of all the people around him--Alice Press yawning at the
window, his father drinking his breakfast ale; Benjamin in the
little court, his hand on Mameluke; his mother hearing Mary her
morning prayer; the old witch grandmother Wilson silent against the
wall, her white kerchief about her chin, leaning on her stick;
Wilson himself moving to the cows; then, a little more distantly,
Moorcross, the home of the statesman Peel--Peel, the tallest,
stoutest man David had ever seen--famous for his wrestling, with a
boy of David's own age, whom David would like to know; and beyond
the Peels again, all Borrowdale, with the names that were becoming
part of him, Rosthwaite and Stonethwaite, Seathwaite and Seatoller,
and the hills, glittering on this lovely morning, Glaramara,
Scafell, the Gavel; wolves, maybe, above Stye Head, and robbers,
his father had said, in Wasdale, and fairies, gnomes, devils,
witches. . . .

Deb's hot hand held his more tightly.

'What are you looking for, David?'

What was he looking for?  He did not know.

But this was to be a day of days.  His happiness last evening, the
games, sleeping on the small pallet beside his father's bed and
then waking to so wonderful a day!  After all the rain and wind,
this stillness and shining glitter, small fleecy clouds like
puddings or puppies plump against the shadowed softness of the
blue, the branch of no tree stirring, so clear that the crowing of
a cock far away towards Seatoller could plainly be heard, but, as
always here, the sound of running waters, now one, now two, now
fast as though an urgent message had come to hasten, now slow with
a lazy drawling sound. . . .

He knew that to-day he could have the small shaggy pony, Caesar,
that his father had bought from Peel.  It was a whole holiday.  Mr.
Finch would not appear.  No one would care what he did nor where he
went.  He would like to ask the Peel boy to go with him, but he was
shy, and the Peel boy spoke so odd a language and then, of course,
had his work to do. . . .

At that instant, so miraculous is life, the Peel boy passed them.
The Peel boy was bigger and stronger than David, very broad of the
chest and thick of the leg; his eyes were blue and his hair very
fair; his cheeks were rosy, and he whistled out of tune.  He was
whistling now, but when he saw Deborah and David he stopped.  He
paused and smiled.

'Good day,' said David, also smiling.

''Day,' said the boy, shuffling his feet.  They grinned and said

'Have you a knife, please?' David asked.


David did not need one, but when the large rough cutlass was put in
his hand he chipped off the small branch of a tree.

'Thank you.'  He tried again.  ''Tis a fine day.'


'We have holiday.'


'I shall ride Caesar to the valley end.'


Then the Peel boy bobbed his head and went on down the path.  He
turned back.

'You may have t' knife,' he said.

'Oh, no, I thank you,' said David, very greatly touched.  Then
seeing disappointment--'Well--if you wish--'

He took the knife, and the Peel boy, delighted, started down the
path again, whistling once more out of tune.

The day was well begun.

He walked slowly back to the house, his hand tight in Deb's.  She
asked:  'David, may I come with you on Caesar?'

'No,' he answered, 'I go alone.'  He felt her hand give a little
quiver--'Why, you are not afeared?  I shall be back by dusk.'

She nodded her head bravely.  'I shall wash my new baby.'  But she
had something in her mind.  She noticed so much more than Mary.
She was exceedingly sensitive and would always be.  She would
always live alone, however many people were near her, and would
give herself in passionate devotion to one or two, realising that
it was the law of her life that she should give rather than

Already, although she was only seven years of age, she knew of many
little things in and around Herries that no one else had seen--the
face of a woman, thin and sharp, carved on the oak chest in the
dining-hall; a ruby ring that old great-great-grandfather Herries
wore on his finger in the picture; the way that Alice Press had of
looking scornfully at her finger-nails; the fashion that old Mrs.
Wilson had of walking like a blind woman, her eyes tightly shut;
the coarse crowing laugh of her granddaughter--and she knew
everything about David: the straightness of his back when he was
standing waiting for something, how one leg would rub against the
other when he began to be eager in talking about something; his
smile, when one end of his mouth seemed to curl more than another;
the roughness that a wind would make of his hair when he wore no
cap, the beautiful coolness of his forehead when he let her put her
hand on it.  She did not know that she knew these things--she had
as yet no self-consciousness.

The most common sensation for her would always be fear, and the
constant duty of her life would be building up sufficient courage
with which to meet it.  Apprehension would attack her at every
turn.  It was as though she had three skins less than other folk.
Even as a baby she had seen shadows in the room that no one else
had seen, heard footsteps that no one else had heard.  Things
assumed significance for her beyond all fact and reason.  There had
been a tree in the Doncaster garden, stout in the trunk, thinly
carved in its branches.  How she had hated that tree, what terrors
undefined it had brought to her, how, in all the other excitements
of leaving Doncaster, this had been predominant--that she need
never see that tree again!

And here at Herries already there were terrors.  Alice Press and
old Mrs. Wilson of course--these were natural alarms--but also the
pump in the yard, the two suits of armour within the house-door
that seemed to her to have faces, one white and one yellow, and the
steps of someone walking on the floor of the parlour-loft when they
were in the dining-hall.

All around her, everyone was insensitive.  It was not a time when
people noticed such things.  There were witches and warlocks,
fairies and gnomes, but they were real and active with persons as
positive as the serving-man or the night watchman.  She kept--as
she was always to keep--everything to herself.  David alone
understood something of her sensitiveness, and this not because he
shared it with her, but because he loved her so deeply that she was
like part of himself.  Only when she was with him she knew no fear.
Her confidence in him was as though he were someone divine.  Where
he was no fear could come, no evil live.

This morning as they neared the house he wanted to go into the yard
behind to see whether Benjamin were there.  She shrank back.

'Come, Deb.  Benjamin hath a new puppy Peel's man gave to him.'

She shook her head and, breaking from him, ran in by the front
door.  He remembered then that he must see his mother.  Every
morning he was with her for half an hour, and read out of the Life
of King Arthur or the Bible for her.  He read very well; he liked
books when there were not horses and dogs and games like football
and battledore.  But to-day he did not want to read.  It was not a
day for books, and as he moved slowly into the house, he felt
impatient with his mother.  He shared a little with his father the
intolerance of her clumsiness, her habit of tears, her absent-
mindedness, and, as with all of us when we are impatient with those
who love us, he wished that she did not love him quite so much.

She was so easily hurt.  She was always asking him what he was
doing, where he was going, with whom he had been; and although
there was no reason at all why he should not tell her everything,
he inclined to be secret with her because of her curiosity.  Then
he had seen, so many times, his sister Mary flatter and cheat her
mother because of something that she had wanted, and that made him
honest to the point of discourtesy.  He loved her better when he
was not with her; he hated Alice Press because she made his mother
unhappy, but he did not mind also making her unhappy.  Now, when he
went in, he would be forced to tell her about what he was going to
do, how he would ride Caesar to the valley's end, and fish in the
stream below Stye Head and watch to see if a wolf should be
prowling under Glaramara.  And he did not want to tell her these
things.  It would spoil them a little, make them more ordinary and
less adventurous.

He found her in her room, alone, the room darkened by the big
canopied bed; it was a little chill.

He saw at once that to-day there would be no reading.  His mother,
dismayed and distraught, was standing in the middle of the room,
her hand at her cheek, her eyes crowded with alarm.

So soon as she saw him she began:  'No, David. . . .  Leave me. . . .
This is too vile. . . .'  She was not near to tears: no, for
once anger had mastered her.  She had even a certain grandeur,
pulled to her full height, massive, her gaze upon the door.  Before
he could wonder, someone had come in, and at once a spate of words
broke about the place; the room crackled with fury.

He knew, without turning, that it was Alice Press; no need to
question that shrill voice that rose in a kind of sweeping tide of
temper to a scream.

'And so you mean to banter me, madam--a fine figure before your own
children.  Was I put here to direct them or no?  It is no
disparagement to a woman, I suppose, that before all your household
I should be told my place and then left to find it by their easy
insulting courtesy.  Oh, no, indeed--I am not to be averse to every
slavish duty that a gentlewoman can be put to, having been dragged
from Doncaster by the heels, and then flung into this muck-heap and
cesspool to keep proper company with old witches, who by rights
should be stripped of every cloth on their backs and then thrown to
the river to let them sink or swim!  Oh, no, you say, I honour you
ever more and more, but I insult you as I may, and as convenience
suits me.  I do not remember to have ever had the pleasure of
witnessing your own rules of law and order in this house or any
other.  You are quiet enough until the fit moment comes to abuse me
properly, and then you have words enough. . . .  I can't express
the satisfaction, truly, that it gives me to know the meaning of
your feeling towards me, and if I should go naked and be on my
knees before you, that would give you satisfaction, perhaps--you
who have not your own children to order, nor your husband to bed
with you--yet you would teach ME my lesson and my proper order in
this house. . . .'

She paused for breath.  David saw her now, her pale face crimson,
her hands clenched, her breast heaving.

'I will not have you,' Margaret Herries answered, 'abuse my
privileges.  It was not by my wish nor order that you were here.
God knows I have surrendered in these years many of my proper
rights, and God He also knows that I have suffered my own
bitterness, and such it may be must come to every woman, but yet I
am mistress in this house.'

'Mistress!' Alice Press broke in, 'and in a fine house!  Mistress
when there is such a master here and a house where the mice and
rats are the true familiars.  Mistress you may be in your own
privacy, but mistress, as the veriest hireling on this place knows,
in no public fashion.  Mistress!  Then who is master here?  Know
you your master and his company?  Ask your master his pleasure in
Keswick and the drabs that he fumbles, so that after barely a six
months' stay in this place his name is a byword!  Mistress--'

'I will not,' Margaret Herries broke in.  'This is enough.  I have
suffered your company long enough, but now it is you or I who go--
and I care not how soon!'

'Go!'  Alice Press moved a step forward.  'Yes, though we had been
at the same charity school and I had gone the round of neighbours
asking for bread, I would not go at your bidding.  No, nor do aught
else at your bidding.  Neither I nor anyone else in this place.
You for a weak trembling fool who have neither the courage nor the
discipline to bid a mouse go when you would wish it.  Oh, I could
tell you things, madam, that would make your eyes sore.  I have
waited in patience, borne your insults and laughed at your silly
little pieces of pride, but now at last my silence has lasted long
enough. . . .'

Silence fell on the room.  Francis Herries stood in the doorway,
and David moved towards his mother.  He came close to her, scarcely
knowing that he did so, and suddenly he felt her trembling hand on
his shoulder and steadied himself that he might support it.

'Well,' Herries said quietly, looking about the room, 'here is a
scramble . . . the whole house shares in it.'

For once Margaret Herries was not cowed.  Her hand tightening on
David's shoulder, her voice trembling ever so lightly, she replied
to him:

'Mrs. Press has some complaint that I have ordered her unjustly
before the servants.  She has been impertinent . . .'

David saw, and triumphantly, that it was the other woman who was
afraid.  In a voice that was strangely stilled after its earlier
shrillness, looking straight at Herries, forgetting, it would seem,
that there was any other in the room, she answered:

'I have my place here, a place that you have appointed me.  Your
wife has forgotten . . .'

Herries smiled.

'Your place?  No place unless you yourself fulfil it.'

It was possible that in that one quiet word she saw her sentence;
she had known, it might be, that for months it had been coming to
her.  It might be that, beyond that again, she realised now her
folly in provoking this scene, in forgetting a patience that it had
been, this last year, no easy task to tutor her natural hot temper

'I have fulfilled it,' she answered proudly.  'It is you who have
neglected to keep me in it.'

'That may well be,' he answered lightly; 'there is so much to be
done and little time to see to it all.  And now I advise that you
leave us. . . .  Wherever your place may be, it is certain that it
is not in this room.'

She would, it seemed, speak; then with another glance at him, her
colour now very white, she passed through the door.

He looked at his wife with a strange mixture of scorn and

'You should know better, Meg, than to suffer her impertinence . . .
but at least you shall not suffer it long.'

He went out.  David felt still the pressure of his mother's hand.
She did not move; then, at last, turned from him, went to the
window and stood there looking out.  There was nothing that he
could do--only he would never speak to Alice Press again.  Never!
Not though his father whipped him till the blood ran.  With this
high resolve he left the room, and then, after a pause, the house.
He hated it and everyone in it.

He found Benjamin and Benjamin found Caesar.  No one prevented him;
from the outside court the house within seemed dead.  No sound came
from it.  It was strange that by merely closing a door you shut
everything off--anger, fears, greed, joys.  Already, at his early
years, it seemed to him that one of the ways to secure happiness
was to escape from people, to be by yourself in the open.

He wasn't happy as he found his way, past Moorcross, on to the main
path, but he was too young and too healthy to be unhappy for long.
And there was the consciousness that he was sharing now more in
real grown-up life than he had done in Doncaster.  But why had his
father brought Alice Press with him from Doncaster?  That was what
he COULD not understand.  It was from her that all the trouble
came, she who made his mother unhappy, his father angry, Deb
frightened, himself in a rage.  Were she gone, they would all be
tranquil again.  But WHY had his father brought her?  Why had he
kissed her in the inn?  There was something strange here that
caused his heart to beat and his cheeks to redden.  Children then
lived from the earliest years in contact with great grossness of
word and action.  David almost from babyhood had been aware of the
physical traffic between men and women, had at the age of seven
seen a woman give birth to a child in the streets of Doncaster, but
he had as yet translated none of these physical acts to mental or
spiritual significance.

Life from the very first was for him far coarser and more brutal
than it would be for his great-grandchildren, but for that reason,
perhaps, his consciousness of it was purer and less muddled than
theirs would be.  In any case he drove these things very swiftly
from his mind as he drew out from the Rosthwaite hamlet into the
open country.

Open country, indeed, it was.  At this time it was scarcely
cultivated save in a few fields round Seathwaite or Rosthwaite.  It
lay in purple shadows with splashes of glittering sunlight, a lost
land, untenanted by man, no animal anywhere visible, dominated
entirely by the mountains that hemmed it in.  To David's right ran
the path up to Honister, where the mines were; this country was
forbidden ground, for here all the rascals and outcasts of the
neighbourhood would congregate to scrape among the mine refuse and
then sell the scraps of plumbago to the Jews in Keswick, who would
meet them at 'The George' or 'The Half-Moon' and then bargain with
them.  The stories were that titanic battles were fought above Stye
Head and on Honister between rival bands of robbers, disputing
their plunder, and it was true enough that many a time, walking up
Honister, you would find a dead man there, by the roadside, his
throat cut or a knife in his belly and often enough stripped naked.

For David, that road up to Honister was the most magical passage of
all, and one day he would investigate it, robbers or no robbers, to
its very heart; but to-day he was out to catch fish, and it was by
the bridge under Stye Head that he would catch them--were he lucky!
It was not a great day for fishing with this glittering sun and
shining sky.

The farther he got from Herries the happier he became.  Of late he
had been cluttered about with people.  All of them--his father, his
mother, Deb, Mary, his cousins, Father Roche, the Press woman, old
Mrs. Wilson and her son, Peel and his boy--some of them he loved
and some of them he hated, but all of them hindered his perfect

He, he was wise enough even now to realise, would always be
hampered by people--you couldn't be FREE of people, nor did he want
to be--but there would be moments and days when you would be free,
absolutely, nakedly free, and, oh! how glorious they were!

It was such a moment now.

Caesar was no very magnificent steed, but he was a good enough
pony, and quite able to grasp his own moments of freedom.  As they
came deeper under the hills the path was so rough and uncertain
that David let him pick his own way.  The group of mountains that
closed the valley in were lovely in their wine-grape colour under a
sky that had been a stainless blue, but that now, in the fashion of
these parts, was suddenly the battlefield for two angry clouds, one
shaped like a ragged wheel, the other like a battering ram.  The
wheel was a thin grey edged with silver and the ram was ebony.  The
empty valley--the little boy on the pony was the only moving thing
in the whole landscape--seemed to wait apprehensively as the wheel
and the ram approached one another.  The sun appeared to retreat in
alarm, but the wheel stretched out a wicked hand with swollen
fingers and seized it--then the ram crashed down upon it.

The end of the valley was darkened although behind him, by Castle
Crag, the sun was in full glory, and the world blazed like a sheet
of dazzling metal.  Within the shadow it was cold, and David,
shouting to give himself company, kicked Caesar forward.

He came now to three houses, brooding like witches at the side of
the rough path, quite deserted, it seemed, open, like many of the
other cottages, to the sky.

Before the third cottage stood three men and a girl.  David felt
his heart beat at the sight of them.  They were the wildest-looking
men he had ever seen.  They were copies the one of another,
seemingly of the same height and the same age, the age maybe of his
father, broad and strong, and all with dark rough beards.  The girl
was only a baby, younger than David, slight and dark like the men,
but rosy-cheeked, and, as David passed them, she was laughing.  One
of the men stepped forward and stood in David's way.

'A fine day,' he said.

David nodded.  He was frightened, but he wouldn't let anyone, not
even Caesar, know it.  He wished, though, that the sun would come
out again.

'Where'st going?'

The man had a deep, rumbling, husky tone with a rasp in it.

'To fish at the bridge.'

'To fish at the bridge?'  All the men laughed.

'Pass, little master.'  The man stepped back and ironically doffed
a very filthy and greasy hat.  Then David, seeing the laughing eyes
of the small girl fixed upon him, smiled.

She had in her hand a small switch.  She ran into the path, struck
Caesar's buttocks and then, as he started forward, laughed with a
shrill crying tone like a bird.  He looked back and saw her
standing in the middle of the path against the sun.  He cared
nothing for girls--Deb wasn't a girl, she was his sister--but it
did seem to him exciting and adventurous that this small girl
should be quite alone with these three wild men, and, apparently,
happy with them.  She was perhaps the daughter of one of them.  It
might be that they were some of the robbers who came down from Stye
Head and murdered defenceless people and returned.  Well, there was
nothing about him for them to murder.  He had a tin with worms in
it, and a home-made fishing rod and a few pence.  He was safe

The country now grew ever wilder and wilder.  A rough, ragged
stream, swollen with the rains and the snow from the tops, rushed
along over a deep bed of slabs and boulders.  Fragments of rock lay
everywhere about him here, so that he had to dismount and lead
Caesar.  Above his head the two clouds had made truce and after a
meeting had separated, one now in the form of a ship that, lined
with silver, sailed off into the blue, the other dispersed into a
flock of little ivory clouds that stayed lazily, as though playing
a game, in lines and broken groups.  The sun had burst out again
and flooded all the land.  David had already learnt that, in this
country, the sky was more changeable than in any other in the
world, that if you lived here your days were bound up with the sky,
so that after a while it seemed to have a more active and personal
history than your own.  It became almost impossible to believe that
its history was not connected with yours, keeping pace with you,
influencing you, determining your fate.  He had never considered
the sky very greatly at Doncaster, but in this world, it drove
itself into your very heart.  The brilliant sun now struck sparks
from every stone, while every splutter of the stream against a
boulder flung into the air a shower of light.  The whole valley
glittered, while above it the mountains, streaked like a wild
beast's skin with snow, were black.

He came to the bridge, let Caesar loose, clambered over the smooth
wet stones to the deep, green pool under the waterfall, chose his
worm and began to fish below the pool.  There was shadow here from
an overhanging tree and the curve of the bridge.  He was
exceedingly happy.  He had the great gift of complete absorption in
the task or play of the moment.  He was never to know the divided
moods, divided loyalties of his father.  His character was not
subtle, but steadfast, fearless, unfaltering.  He did not realise
for how long he fished.  He moved below the bridge and then back
again.  He caught nothing.  He never had a bite.  The sun was too
bright.  He sat, his legs apart, his eyes intently fixed on the
water.  A shadow was flung.  He looked up.

Leaning on the bridge, looking down at him very gravely was a
pedlar with a coloured hat and a sharp bright face.  He had rested
his pack on the bridge's wall.

'A fine sun to-day,' said the pedlar.

David nodded.

'Too strong a sun for good fishing,' said the pedlar.

David sighed.  'That's true.'  He scrambled up to the sward above
the stones.  He looked at the pack.

'Have you something for me to buy?' he asked, smiling.  He had some
money in his purse--money his father had given him--and it would be
pleasant to buy something for Deborah.

The pedlar shook his head.

'Nothing for you.'  Then he felt in a pouch at his waist.  'Do you
fancy boxes?  I have a little box here . . .'  He fumbled, then
brought out a small silver box and gave it to David.  His hand was
nut-brown, with long, thin, tapering fingers.  It was a beautiful
little box.  On one side was carved a picture of girls dancing
round a maypole, on the other a picture of gentlemen hunting.

David looked at it, then shook his head.  ''Tis a beautiful box,
but I have not money enough.'

The pedlar smiled.  'It is yours.  Keep it until your marriage-

'Thank you,' said David, dropping it into his pocket.  'But I shall
never be married.'

'You will be married,' said the pedlar, 'and have fine sons.'

'How do you know?' asked David, looking into his tin and seeing
that the worms that remained were few and poor.  He would not fish
any more.  He found bread and meat in his pocket and offered some
to the pedlar, who took more than his share and ate voraciously.

'I know everything,' said the pedlar.  'I am the Devil.'

David believed him.  He looked both wicked and gay as he stood
there in the sunlight, and Francis Herries had always told him that
the Devil was both these things.

'I am not afraid of you,' said David, laughing.  'My father has
always told me not to be afraid.'

'I know your father,' said the pedlar, licking his fingers after
the bread and meat and looking as though he would like also the
piece that David had in his hand.  'Your father is an old friend.'

'He is the finest man in the world,' said David proudly.  'Why will
you not show me the things that you have in your pack?'

'I am weary of showing them,' said the pedlar, yawning and
displaying a splendid row of sharp white teeth.  'Time enough.  You
shall see them one fine day.'

'If you are the Devil,' said David, who was always interested in
everything, 'you can tell me where there is good fishing.'

'There is good fishing everywhere,' said the pedlar, 'if you have
patience.  You have patience.  It will carry you through the world--
patience and courage, two stupid qualities but valuable.'

'Do you live round here?' David asked.

'Here or anywhere.  When you have lived for ever as I have, one
place or another is the same.'

'Do you never grow any older?' David asked.

'Never,' said the pedlar.  'A wearisome business.  Good day.  We
shall often encounter one another.  Keep the little box.  I am not,
in my intentions, always unamiable as people say.'

He shouldered his pack, started up the Stye Head and was quite
suddenly lost in the sunlight.

David jogged back happily through the sunny afternoon.  He took his
time; he saw no human being.  The sun falls behind the hills like a
stone over this valley, leaving in the sky a long, wide strath of
white and blue.  When David reached Herries the shadows were
straddling giants across the little stone court.

He found his father alone in the shadowed hall; he leant across the
long table, on which a map was spread.  'He's looking grand,'
David, who relished him in his plum-coloured coat, thought, 'and he
has a temper.'  So, like a knowing puppy, he slipped quietly past
the fading fire.  In the room above he heard Deborah's funny little
piping voice, singing to herself or her baby.  Beyond the leaded
window the sky was a lovely pale green like early spring leaves and
the low spread of the land was purple again as it had been in the
morning.  Against this gentle, pure light the room was very dark,
although two candles were lit.

His father saw him.

Without looking up from the map:  'Where have you been, David?'

David told him.  It might be that there would be a whipping or it
might be that there would be a game--you never could tell with his

'Thou hast missed thine uncle, boy.'

David had nothing to say to that--as there was a pause he filled

'I saw the Devil by the bridge.'

His father did not answer but suddenly raised himself.

'David, come here.'  David came to him.

He put his arm round his neck.  'David, I love no one but you--no
one--no one in all the world.  And I hate your uncle.  Remember
this day, for on it I surrender all wishes for a good union between
your uncle and me.  Silly, patronising fool!'  He looked furiously
about him at the table which was clustered with a mess of things--
tankards, a platter with bread on it, a riding-whip, a velvet glove
with a jewelled clasp.  'I'll twist his neck for him, brother or no
brother, an he comes this way again.  Aye, you should have seen
your uncle riding his fine horse and stepping over the muck and
cobbles, he fat as an otter and red as an infant's bum.  'Tis his
lady wife sent him to spy the land out--a fine stretch she'll be
the wiser for his coming--a dark house, a dull woman and his
debauched good-for-nothing brother . . . I'll warrant he's sad that
he had me here--a fine tear on his famous reputation.  And now that
I'm here I'll stay.  The place charms me, naked though it is.
There's some ale for you, David.  Drink to your good-for-nothing
rump of a father, naked-bottomed in a cesspool and pleasantly
forgot by the gay world.'

But David didn't drink.  He felt in his pocket and brought out the
little silver box.

'The Devil gave me this,' he said.

His father, his eyes angry yet good-humoured, wandered round the
room then came to it.

'A pretty thing.  And how did the Devil look?'

'He was a pedlar.  He said he knew you.'

'Yes--there is a pedlar here I have spoken with. . . .'

His mind was away, then he caught his son to him and held him

'My good brother's son is a damned smug; and gives him no joy--I
can beat him there.'

He crooked his son's chin upwards and looked at him.  David gazed
back at him fearlessly.

'Remember this day,' his father said.  'We shall be alone against
the world, you and I.'


Herries returned, one September morning, after his walk abroad,
without his coat.  It had been one of his finest, the plum-coloured
coat laced with silver.  He walked into the house in his white
sleeves, and the old witch, Mrs. Wilson, leaned over the top of the
stairs and smiled.  She never laughed.  'You're grand without your
coat,' she said.  They seemed to have a kind of understanding, the
two of them.  He, as did all the valley, believed her to be a
witch.  He thought none the worse of her for it.  He was happy this
morning like a boy.  It was a bright fresh morning, with clean
white clouds leaning negligently on the hills.  With the beauty and
the youth and the kindly look that he had when he was happy, he was
a good sight for an old witch.  And she was no misanthrope.  Life
was too busily interesting for her to despise mankind.

'I'm going to the Fair,' he said like a boy.

She nodded her head, put out her long brown hand, and touched the
white linen of his sleeve.

'You're not to give t'coat,' she said.  'It'll be remembered.'

He didn't care whether it were remembered or no.  Out on the
Watendlath path, looking up at a bright silver waterfall poised
like a broken ladder against the green cliff, he had seen by the
stones of the beck a dead man with his throat cut and a woman
shivering beside him.  A dead man was no extraordinary sight; this
man was naked save for his shirt, and his white legs stretched
stiffly as though they had been carved.  The woman did not cry nor
ask for alms, but she shivered in the keen September air.  He did
not speak to her, but obeying the impulse of the instant, took off
his plum-coloured coat and threw it over her trembling shoulders.
He strode back to the house.  Seeing Benjamin in the yard, he
leaned from the window and bade him go and fetch the woman to the
house.  Ten minutes later Benjamin returned to say there was no
sign of woman or man.

He did not care.  He was too cheerful in spirit to be bothered by a
dead man or a shivering woman.

He sat in his sleeves at the window looking out on to the
beautifully coloured world, Glaramara plum-coloured like his coat,
and the long stretch of green valley.

He was like a schoolboy about this Fair.  It was an accidental
chance-by-night Fair for Keswick.  It had been intended for Kendal
and then for Carlisle, a motley company of entertainers and rogues
and rascals travelling slowly to Scotland.

But the smallpox was savage this summer in Kendal, and so they had
changed to the smaller town.  In the past Keswick had had few Fairs
but its own.  It was too small a place.  The chartered Fair on the
2nd of August for the sale of leather, and the Cattle Fairs on the
first Thursday in May and on each Thursday fortnight for six weeks
after; on the Saturday nearest Whitsuntide and Martinmas for hiring
servants, and on the first Saturday after the 29th of October for
the sale of cheese and rams.  Saturday the year through was market-
day for provisions and corn.

But these Fairs were local, and business was their purpose.  This
present Fair was the maddest, wildest thing in Keswick's memory.
It would be generations before the week of it would be forgotten.
They said, too, that there was a company of Chinese people
travelling with the Fair, and they wore strange clothes, such as
had never been seen in that neighbourhood, and they juggled with
gold balls and swallowed silver swords, and had an old man with
them three hundred years of age.  It was always afterwards called
the Chinese Fair.

But it was not of the Fair that Herries was now thinking as he sat
at the window.  He was thinking of how well satisfied he was with
this place.  He had been here full two years, and his strange
instinct that had driven him here had been right.  He already loved
the valley, and had even now caught some of the sense of its
intimacy that led its inhabitants to cling to it with an obstinacy
and stubbornness that made them a byword for the rest of the world.
It was said that the men of Borrowdale were so stupid as to be
scarcely human, and that they did such idiotic things, like
building a wall to keep the cuckoo in their valley, that they must
be half-witted--that they never stirred from their valley, that
some of them had never even seen Keswick, that they spoke a strange
language of their own and were like men in a dream.

Herries had heard how the people in Keswick and from Newlands and
St. John's and the rest mocked and gibed, but he knew now what it
was that held the men of Borrowdale: although he was not yet one of
them (they were greatly suspicious of newcomers), one day he would
be.  Something was in his blood that was in their blood: it was a
doom, a judgement, the fulfilment of a prophecy.

He thought of other things too, as he sat there.  He was well
pleased that he had cut himself off from his brother and his
brother's family.  Since that day when Pomfret had ridden over to
Herries he had never set foot in his brother's house.  Margaret and
the children had visited--he did not care whether they did or no--
and when he met Pomfret in Keswick he talked with him, but he had
never been within his brother's door.

He loved his pride, his fierce intolerance.  He cherished it, fed
it, adored it.  It had been one of his fears, on coming to live in
Herries, that perhaps he would find his brother a better fellow
than he had thought he was, and so would be forced to see him and
keep company with him because his heart drove him.

That was why, on the first evening at the inn, he had worn his
finest clothes--because that might annoy his brother, and then
Pomfret would appear less pleasant than he was.  And so in the
event it had been.  Now he cherished his scorn of his brother--it
was a fine silver flower in his coat.

The thing, however, of which he was mainly thinking now was what he
should do to be rid of Alice Press, for rid of her he would be.
Although so reckless a man, he knew, as every imaginative Herries
has always known, that you can't rid yourself of past deeds.  Kill
a fox, give your coat to a trembling woman, drink of the water of
Sprinkling Tarn, and you are a doomed man.  He was doomed because
he had kissed Alice Press, doomed because he had shot off that
young fool's ear in Doncaster, doomed because on entering Herries
he had put the right foot before the left, doomed anyway and a
thousand times a day; but to be bored, because he was young and
full of life, was a worse thing than to be doomed.  And he was
bored by Alice Press, bored to the very hilt of his sword.  He
thought now that he had always been bored with her, although there
had been, at the very first, a flashing moment of startling
splendour.  Now he was bored with everything about her, from her
heavy sallow face, her long sad brooding gaze at him, her stealthy
eagerness to be alone with him, down to the paste buckles on her
scarlet shoes, the scarlet shoes that he had once bought for her on
a Fair day in Doncaster, and that she wore now in persistent
petulant reminder.  Moreover, she had been insulting to Margaret,
and he would have no one rude to Margaret but himself.  Yes, he
must be rid of her, but how?

He looked out at the great shoulder of the hill.  'How, old
Glaramara?  You are old enough to know.  Come and tell me your

As though in answer to his question, hearing a deep breath he
turned round to find Alice Press at his side.

She was very grand in black velvet, with a heavy silver chain and
her scarlet shoes.

She came close to him, and the scent that she used, a scent of
roses, stifled his nostrils.

'Francis,' she said, her large sombre eyes staring into his.  'You
will take me to the Fair, will you not?'

'No,' he answered, smiling at her and patting her white hand.  She
drew her hand away from the arm of his chair.

'You promised me.'

'I break my promise.'

'You must not.  I am bent to go.  You have been unkind to me all
these months, and I have borne you no grudge.  I knew that I could
wait.  To-day it shall be like one of our old times.'

'Old times never return,' he answered her, looking at her with an
intentness that matched her own.  How strange it was, this passing
of love!  A never-ending marvel!  At one moment the merest touch of
the hand is Paradise, at the next, dead flesh.

'Have you not been selfish in this,' she went on quietly, 'and
blind too, perhaps?  Because you are tired of loving me you think
our intercourse is at an end.  But no intercourse is at an end when
two have loved one another as we have.'

'Loved!' he interrupted her.  'Love and love!  Do you call that
love?  I have never known what love is.  'Tis a wonder that waits
always round the corner.  If ever I do know, then I will be
faithful.  But OUR love!  My dear, you use words too lightly.'

He hit her hard there, but she gave no sign.  Her eyes did not

'Of course you are faithless,' she said.  'I have always known
that, but I am not quite like the other women you have kissed.  I
always told you I was not.  You cannot rid yourself of me so

'Can I not?'  He looked at her speculatively.  'I have never been
false to you.  I warned you not to come here.  I told you what it
would be.  Go back to Doncaster, my dear, and find a better man.'

That 'better man' hit her the hardest of all, because, although she
thought him rotten, he was yet better for her than any other man in
the world.  A woman's bitter fidelity is always the honestest thing
she has.

'Take me with you to the Fair to-day,' she repeated, 'and we will
see.  I've made no request for months but have faithfully stayed in
this house, suffered every scorn at the hands of your wife, been
hated by your children, been faithful to your interests--now, to-
day, you will take me to the Fair.'

'I will not,' he answered, smiling up at her.  'David is the only
one who goes with me.'

She turned past him and stood facing him, with her back to the
window, blotting out the scene as though she thought that the
mountain, at which he gazed so persistently, was her enemy.

'Listen, Francis.  You are a bad man but a fair one.  Here is a
bargain.  You have spoiled my life, shamed me before everyone,
wrecked all my prospects, but I will feel nothing for all this if
you will give me this day, one day as we used to have it, as we had
it in Doncaster that Fair day when you bought me these shoes.'  He
knew that she was saying to herself:  'If I can but get him from
this house and away with me as he used to be, I can charm him

He answered her unspoken thought.  'You cannot charm me any more,
not by one day nor by twenty.  It is over.  All done.  I never
promised fidelity.  I never loved you.  I have never loved anyone
save my son.  These things are not for our asking, my dear.  Nature
is rough when she tosses us our moods.  "This one for you," she
says, "and this for you," and no tears or scarlet slippers will
change her indifference.  Blame no one.  Life is not understood by
scolding.'  Then he went on very kindly.  'Alice, go back to
Doncaster and forget me.  There was that fellow--how was he named?
Matthew Priestly--he always loved you.  He loves you, I doubt not,
still.  Blow no more on these dead coals.  Forgive my indifference.
It is the fault of neither of us.'

She saw something in his face that she understood.  She gave him
one long look and then slowly went.  An hour later he was riding
with David to Keswick.  He could not quite rid his mind of her.
Oddly enough it was now in connection with David that he thought of
her.  David, ever since that quarrel between the two women, had
kept his vow.  He had refused to speak to Alice Press.  The woman
had taken it for the most part with a cold, haughty indifference,
as though she could not be disturbed by the impertinence of a
child, but yesterday there had been a scene.  She had demanded of
Herries that he should make his son answer her.  Herries had
ordered him.  David, with set face and an odd little frown between
his brows that was his father's own, had refused.  Herries would
whip him for disobedience.  David, his body drawn tight together,
kept to his refusal.  He was stripped and whipped.  Herries drew
blood from his young son's white back, because he loved him so
dearly and was so deeply bored with Alice Press.  David put on his
shirt and jacket without a word.

'And now will you speak to her?' his father asked him.

'No,' said David.

Then his father kissed him and gave him some fine ointment for his
back.  To-day it was as though this had never been.  David was in
perfect happiness as he rode Caesar, laughing and chattering as he
did sometimes when he was excited, making Caesar gallop on the free
turf of Cat Bells, coming down into Portinscale as though he were
heading a charge.  The boy was growing.  There would soon come a
time when he would judge with a man's thoughts.  He was a fine boy,
of a stiff, brave, honest character, full of courage and obstinate.
What would he think of his father?

The Fair was on the farther lake side of Keswick, on the broad
meadows that ran to the lake's edge, not far from Pomfret's grand
house, and it pleased Francis to think how greatly Pomfret must
dislike to have all this rapscallion world at his very door.
Keswick, at this time, was a town of one fair street and a huddle
of filthy hovels.  In the minor streets and 'closes' the cottages,
little houses and pig-sties were thronged very largely with a
foreign and wandering population--riff-raff of every sort who came
to steal plumbago from the mines or were wandering their way
northward, off the main route; these houses were crowded with foul
middens and encroached on by large open cesspools, pig-sties and
cow-sheds.  The refuse stagnated and stained the air and tainted
the soil.  Here were women of ill-fame, hucksterers, thieves, many
Jews who paid high prices for the stolen lead.  At once on entering
the town you were in another world from the honest and independent
country of the statesmen and yeomen of the valleys--these statesmen
who for centuries had lived on their own land, their own masters,
and owed no man anything.

In the former year, 1731, in Keswick, out of a population of some
twelve hundred, nearly five hundred persons had died of smallpox,
cholera and black fevers.  During the summer months the channels of
ordure, the cesspools, became intolerable, and in the lower parts
of the town respectable citizens could scarcely breathe.

The natural inhabitants of those parts, however, showed no
discomfort and made no protest.

On this fine morning the principal street was shining with its
white cobble-stones and a throng of people who pressed hither and
thither, giving themselves up with complete child-like abandon to
the fun of the occasion.  The Fair had spread from its proper
surroundings out into the street, and David and his father had to
push through the groups surrounding booths and cheap-jacks and
fancy quacks.

But the Fair itself, when they reached it, was a glory.

So many were the booths and stalls that the waters of the lake were
invisible.  On every side were announcements of wonders.

'Here is the Dancing on the Ropes, after the French and Italian
fashion, by a Company of the finest Performers that ever yet have
been seen by the whole World.  For in the same Booth will be seen
the two Famous French Maidens, so much admired in all Places and
Countries where they come, for their wonderful Performance on the
Rope, both with and without a Pole; so far outdoing all others that
have been seen of their sex, as gives a general satisfaction to all
that ever yet beheld them, to which is added Vaulting on the High
Rope and Tumbling on the Stage.'

And here again:  'Here is to be seen a little Fairy Woman lately
come from Italy, being but Two Foot Two Inches high, the shortest
that ever was seen in England, and no ways Deformed, as the other
two Women are, that are carried about the streets in Boxes from
House to House for some years past, this being Thirteen Inches
shorter than either of them. . . .  Likewise a little Marmozet from
Bengal that dances the Cheshire Rounds and Exercises at the word of
Command.  Also a strange Cock, from Hamborough, having three proper
legs, and makes use of them all at one time.'

Here was a play announced in front of a booth all gay with crimson
cloth and gold tinsel--

'An Excellent new Droll called The Tempest or The Distressed
Lovers.  With the English Hero and the Highland Princess, with the
Comical Humours of the Enchanted Scotchman, or Jockey and the three
Witches.  Showing how a Nobleman of England was cast away upon the
Indian Shore, and in his Travels found the Princess of the Country,
with whom he fell in love, and after many Dangers and Perils was
married to her; and his faithful Scotchman, who was saved with him,
travelling through Woods, fell in among Witches, where between them
is abundance of Comical Diversion.  There in the Tempest is Neptune
with his Tritons in his Chariot drawn with Sea-Horses, and
Mairmaids singing. . . .'

And then the marvellous animals:  'The true Lincolnshire Ox
Nineteen Hands high and Four Yards long, from his Face to his Rump,
and never was Calved nor never sucked, and two years ago was no
bigger than another Ox, but since is grown to this prodigious
Bigness.  This noble Beast was lately shown at the University of
Cambridge with great satisfaction to all that saw him. . . .

'The large Buckinghamshire Hog above Ten Foot long . . . the
wonderful Worcestershire Mare, Nineteen Hands high, curiously
shaped, every way proportionable; and A little Black Hairy Pigmey,
bred in the Deserts of Arabia, a Natural Ruff of Hair about his
Face, Two Foot high, walks upright, drinks a glass of Ale or Wine,
and does several other things to admiration; and the Remark from
the East Indies; and the little Whifler, admired for his
extraordinary Scent.'

Although David did not know it, some of these same animals must
have been of an amazing age, because the celebrated Mr. Pinkeman
had himself shown them in the days of Queen Anne.

For David, however, hours must pass before he could take in any
detail.  He did not know that already behind the colour and show
there was disgust and discontent on the part of the showmen,
because the takings were so small, and there was no one there but
gaping country-fellows, the discontent leading in the last day of
the Fair to a free fight and riot that spread, before all was over,
into the heart of the town.

It all seemed to him so grand and magnificent that there had been
nothing in the world like it before.  Walking close at his father's
side he was caught up into a world of colour and scent--the faint
September blue held the flare of the fires that blazed upon
roasting meat and fish, popping corn and scented sweetmeats, the
thick swaying tendrils of smoke that crawled about the booths, the
waving of coloured pennants, the flaunting of flags, and, under
this shifting roof of colour, everything broke and mingled again,
dogs nosing for food, naked children sprawling in the mud, mummers
in gold and blue, women, bare-breasted, shrieking after their men,
tumblers somersaulting, a monkey loosed, dragging after him a
silver chain, his face weary with age and loneliness, three dwarfs
in crimson hose, with huge heads, counting money, a black woman, a
yellow kerchief round her head, selling silver rings, clowns,
soldiers, girls dressed like angels with white wings, the booths
with the drum beating and shrill trumpets blowing, men stripped to
the waist, their skin pouring sweat, fighting before a shouting
crowd, everywhere eating and everywhere drinking, men tumbling
women and women fingering men--and through these crowds the
countrymen, the farmer, the dignified statesman, the gaping yokel
moving like strangers, suspicious, aloof, and gradually tempted by
ale and women and silver, by noise and food and curiosity, tumbling
into the reeking tub and so kicking and shouting and screaming like
the rest as the sun went up the sky.

Yes, hours passed.  Somewhere, at some time, David had a sudden
curious vision of all the colour, reek and noise of the Fair
parting like a drawn curtain, and there in the clear space was the
lake, misted yellow under a misted sun, cool and still, the line of
Cat Bells rising softly above the woods on the farther side, the
water still without a ripple, very cool and sweet.  Then it closed
again, and the stench of roasting meat and uncleanly bodies and
painted boards melting in the heat of fires and frying corn and
burning wood swept over him again, bringing with it into the very
heart of his nostrils the whole pageant of bright colour, purple
and gold and saffron, and the odd wildness of a thousand faces,
eyes staring, mouths agape, and a roar of bells and whistles,
shouts and curses and cries, the neighing of horses and barking of
dogs and the shrill human scream of a crimson-pated cockatoo.

He was aware then that he had lost his father.  He stood for a
moment dismayed.  On every side figures were pushing against and
around him; now someone would run past him shouting; now two
singing, falling from side to side, would lurch drunkenly his way;
now with a cry, as though it had come from the ground itself, there
would be a rush from a whole group; and all of this dreamlike--a
flash of a sword, a trembling coloured flag, a creaking board of a
booth, a ringing silver bell, the scream of the crimson-pated
cockatoo, the wail of the lost monkey dragging his silver chain, a
man bending a woman backwards against a boarded trestle, a naked
muddied baby crying for its mother, all in a dream; where the
clear, tranquil, golden-misted lake was, there was reality.

But he had no fear; he would see his father again; it was fine to
be independent in a noisy world and to hold your own against the
Devil.  So, looking around him, he saw that he was before the very
booth where he had most set his heart, the booth where the Chinamen
were.  On the outside of the booth a Chinese curtain hung in
brilliant splashes of gold and red, a temple, a grove of golden
bells, soldiers in armour, a bridge of blue, and in front of the
curtain a Chinaman with a yellow face and an ebony pigtail was
inviting everyone to enter.  A bell clanged, the Chinaman called
out in a shrill voice and at the same moment the thick pushing
crowd shoved forward.  David was caught in it, carried off his
feet; he was pressed against smelling clothes and warm sweating
flesh; he clutched, that he might not fall, at a man's waist and
held to it; his fingers stuck to the damp waist-belt and his arm
was driven into a soft belly.  For a moment he was almost under a
dozen feet, then lifted up again on the sheet of a thousand smells
and so almost hurled into the inside of the booth.  He did not know
whether he should pay money or no, he had lost his breath and found
himself enclosed within the thick arm of a huge country-fellow,
black-bearded, bare at the neck; their sense of one another was
instantaneous, and the black-bearded man laughed, standing him in
front of him, pressing him back against his chest, his hot naked
arm against David's cheek.

He could see where he was.  He was high on some raised boards.
Everything around him was quiet.  The noise of the Fair had been
shut out.  On every side of him the people with staring eyes,
speechless, stood waiting.  A little empty stage was in front of
him and above it some curtains idly flapped.

All his senses were centred on this empty stage.  It became to him
full of omen and suspense.  What was about to happen?  Who would
come there?  A very ancient man came with a long face of yellow
parchment.  He wore a long stiff garment of purple brocaded silk.
He sat, quite silently and quite alone, on a little round stool.
He was motionless, carved in colours against the dark shadows of
the flapping tent.  He looked neither to right nor left, was
unaware of the sweating crowd.  Perhaps he was the Chinaman who was
three hundred years old.  If you were three hundred years of age
you would not pay attention to any crowd; you would have seen so

Then the curtains parted, two young men in gold trousers, stripped
to the waist, their bodies glistening, came and threw into the air
coloured balls.  They threw up a dozen balls at once, and the
balls, green, yellow, red, made whirls of colour above the head of
the old man who never moved.

Then there came two short fat men with very yellow bodies; they
were clad only in loin-cloths.  Standing in a corner of the stage
they began silently to wrestle.

Then six young men came in trousers of gold and jackets of silver;
they had poles up which they climbed; they threw ropes to one
another and with pointed red slippers on their feet walked on the
ropes.  Lastly a number of little yellow-faced children, also
dressed in bright, shrill colours, ran silently forward, spread
their legs and their arms and stood in a pyramid: the child who
climbed to the top and stood balancing there with his little feet
seemed only a baby with tiny black eyes and a doll's pigtail.

Now all of them--the young men with the balls, the naked wrestlers,
the men balancing on the ropes, the pyramid children who suddenly
melted to the floor and were turning like bright bales a hundred
somersaults and cart-wheels--were moving ceaselessly round the old
man who sat motionless on his little stool, never flickering, you
could be sure, an eyelid.  Faster and faster they turned, but
always without a sound, and as they moved the tightly packed crowd
moved with them: the crowd began to sway and to murmur: everyone
was smiling: the black-bearded countryman who smelt of good fresh
dung put his arm tight round David's neck, pressing his body to
him.  They were all smiling as though they were in a dream, and it
must have seemed to many of them that they too were tossing balls
into the air, turning somersaults, climbing poles, balancing on
ropes.  Their bodies must have appeared free to them and clean and
strong: the ordure and the filth, the daily toil, the cruelty and
sickness and pain, the darkness and rain and cold freezing nights,
the life with animals and the wrestle with the hard ungrateful
soil, the penury and ignorance and darkness, the loneliness of
rejected lovers, the injustice of tyrannous masters, the narrow,
constrained horizons, the proud brutalities of a swollen-headed
upper class against whom they struggled dumbly, whom one day--and
that day was not far distant--they would conquer--all these hard
things fell away, the sky was bright and clear, the air fresh like
crystal, all for a moment was joy and happiness in a free world
where it was always day.

As for David he could see nothing but the silent old man sitting on
his stool.  The old man seemed to be staring directly into David's
eyes.  However David moved his head he could not escape that old
man.  He began to be frightened.  He wanted to run away.  The old
man appeared to have a message especially for him.  In another
moment something terrible would happen.  His father was in danger.
And it spread beyond the moment--all his life he would remember
that old Chinaman, and whenever he remembered him he would shiver
with apprehension.  Life was dangerous, and you could only know how
dangerous it was when you sat quite still and listened, waiting for
a sound to break.

Anyway, he must go.  He must find his father.

He wriggled away from his black-bearded friend, then, dropping down
from the raised boards, pushing through legs and arms, shoving with
his head now this way, now that, at one instant stifled by the
human stench, at another brought up against a solid body that would
never move again, at last he was by the flap of the tent and
tumbled into the free air, leaving behind him, it seemed, a crowd
hypnotised, in a trance, a dream. . . .

He was in the open air again and frantically hungry.  It must be
afternoon.  The sun was high in the sky.

So, looking rather desolate and half lost, his father, Francis
Herries, saw him.  Herries was a little drunk and soon would be
more so.  Somewhere in the heart of the Fair where they were
bargaining about cattle he had discovered an old woman with a store
of wine.  She sat under an awning, on either side of her a cask of
wine.  A strange woman, very fat, with a purple face.  She did not
seem to want to sell her wine, but sat there idly.  Once and again
she broke into a strange raucous song in a deep, rumbling voice.
She ladled the wine out of the casks into long, thin glasses: the
wine was a shilling a glass, Portuguese on one side of her,
Florence the other.  Herries drank the Portuguese.  What was it?
He neither knew nor cared.  Was it White Vianna or Passada or
Barabar?  Carcavellos or Ribadavia?  He drank many glasses.  The
old woman did not speak to him nor he to the old woman.  After that
everything entertained him.  He had always been very easily amused
by little things, and there was something in him that liked the
stench and the common crowd and the press of animals human and

He watched for a long while two men who, drunk with gin, tumbled
about in the mud together.  Close beside him was a fellow selling
medicines.  The two drunkards, suddenly weary, kissed one another
and lay there in the mud head by head, looking up at the sunny sky.

The quack, long, thin and brown, like a gnarled tree-branch, with a
high black hat--'Here's a plaister will cure old Ulcers and
Fistulas, Contusions, Tumours and any Dislocations or Hurts, and
when it has performed Fifty Cures 'twill be ne'er the worse but
still keep its Integrity.'

He moved leisurely, looking for a pretty face.  Where were all the
pretty women?  Here at least not one.  The country girls hanging on
the arms of their lovers were each more blowzy than the other.
There seemed to be none of his own class here.  What was it that
gave him a sudden sense of freedom so that he was happy as though
he had thrown off bonds?

All these strange faces interested him, wizened and twisted and
swollen; he could throw off his fine clothes, put on these tinsel
rags and go wandering with them, drinking, wenching. . . .  Then
looking about him he saw his small son.  With a pang of reproach,
oddly sharp as he saw his air, half defiant, half frightened, he
cursed himself for the rottenest parent.  To leave that child in
such a place, at such a time!  And yet he did not move at once
towards him, but watched him, loving him, proud of him, sturdy and
self-reliant among all the oddities, the shouting, the flaming
fires.  Whatever occurred that boy would not cry out, but would
stand on his courage to the last, letting endurance father him were
no other father there.  And was not that because he had no spirit
of imagination?  Imagination was the devil.  Let your fancy move
and there, by that booth where the boxing was, you could see the
sun roll down from the sky and sweep them all--pimp and trollop,
bully and jade, monkey and dwarf, Indian and Chinaman--with its
fiery heat, screaming into perdition.  As he one day would go.  But
David would not stir, not till he felt his duty was done.

Then he moved forward and was happy to see the boy's pleasure
spring into his eyes at sight of him.

'Did you think me lost?'

'No, father.  I've been in the Chinaman's tent.'

'And what did you see there?'

'There was an old man, they say he is three hundred years old, and
young men throwing balls.'

Then he added rather wistfully:

'Father, I'm hungry.'

'Come, we'll eat then.'

They moved through the packing crowd and came to a kind of
temporary hostelry.  It had a grander, larger front than the
booths, and, inside, there were long trestle tables with benches
stretched on the grass and at the far end a defended fire with a
grid.  The place was very full with people eating and drinking, and
many were already drunk, singing and shouting.  David and his
father found places at the end of the tent near the fire.  A stout
jolly man with an apron and a white cap asked them what they would
have.  There was Pudding and Roast Beef, Boiled Beef and Ox Tripe,
Pigeons, well moistened with butter, without larding.

'Pudding and Boiled Beef,' said David.  It was then that he saw
that his father had been nobly drinking.  He was too thoroughly a
boy of his time to be disturbed by drunkenness, but, during these
last weeks, he had grown greatly and taken a more manly place in
the world, and in nothing more than in his attitude to his father.
His father was weak where he himself would never be.  He did not
know this with any priggish sense of virtue: it came to him simply
that there were times when he must look after his father just as
there were times when he must look after Deborah.

He was a sort of guard to them, not because he was better than they--
all his life and through everything that happened he would always
look up to them, but only because he loved them.

He was uneasy now, as looking about the tent he felt that in some
way or another this was not a place for his father to be riotous
in.  The men and women around them were of mixed kinds: there were
some sober and solid yeomen and townsmen, eating their meat with
grave seriousness, with the Cumbrian air of guarding their own;
there were some rascals of the Fair's own company, one of them in a
shabby gay jacket of gold thread, another like a pedlar in a
crimson cap (he reminded David of the Stye Head Devil who gave him
the little box) with a small gibbering monkey sitting on his
shoulder.  With them were two loose women very gaudily attired,
laughing and shouting.  One of the women fondled the pedlar,
thrusting food into his mouth.  Near his father was a group of
better-class people.  They might be townsmen from Kendal or
Penrith.  One was very stout with a double chin and little mouse-
eyes.  He was rather drunken already and spilt his meat on his
green velvet waistcoat.  Another was a little man, thin as a
spider, with a shrill feminine voice.  He was over-handsomely
dressed with an elaborately curled wig, a full-bottomed coat of
bright blue, and many rings on his fingers.  He was also drunken,
and said many times over that he wanted a full-bosomed woman to go
to bed with, that he might wake in the morning and find her near to

Herries, as was his way when he was drunk, had become very grand
and proud.  The wine that now was brought to him, added to the wine
that he had already had, increased his grand dignity.  David, who
very soon had eaten all that he wanted, began to be unhappy and to
plan some way of escape out into the air again.

Glancing here and there he knew that there were a number in the
tent who had recognised his father.  He had long known that there
was much curiosity about his father and his father's family, as to
why he had chosen to exile himself in Borrowdale, as to his
dangerous liking for women, as to his mingling with anyone he met
and caring nothing for the quality of his company, as to his having
a fine mistress hidden away there in Herries and his flaunting her
full in his wife's face--David knew that all these things were said
and that already a queer chancy air had grown about the building of
Herries, and that they had all become the more suspicious to the
outside world because on their first coming they had sheltered a
Roman Catholic priest (and who knew on what errand he had vanished
less than a year ago?), and had under their roof the most famous
witch in Borrowdale.

All this was in David's mind and consciousness.  His determination
was set on getting his father away before some open scandal
occurred, and through all the murk and smell of the crowded tent,
stinking of meat, spilt drink and unclean bodies of men, he saw the
old Chinaman's eyes, that Chinaman who was three hundred years old
and sat like an image.

His father was very haughty, ate and drank without speaking to
anyone.  He seemed like a god to his son, sitting there so grand
and handsome with his thin, brown face, his clear eyes and the
silver waistcoat with the ruby buttons.

The spidery man in the full wig buried his nose in his glass, and
then, in his shrill high voice, bowing to Herries, said:

'A drink with you, sir.'

Herries drank.

'I am from Kendal,' the little man went on, while the very stout
fellow laughed immoderately.  'I have come hither to see the pretty
women, but by Jesus there are none!'

'There are several,' Herries replied, eyeing him severely.

'There are several.'  The little man tittered:  'You are fortunate,
sir.  My name is Rosen--may I be honoured by knowing yours, sir?'

'My name,' said Herries very proudly, holding up his glass and
looking at the beads of colour in the yellow wine, 'is Charles
Henry Nathaniel Winchester, Duke of the Pyrenees and the district
of the Amazon.'

Mr. Rosen became very serious.  His little brow was puckered.

'I understand you, sir--a secret, between gentlemen.'

'There are women here,' said Herries, 'but no gentlemen--all the
gentlemen are at the lake's bottom feasting with the mermaids.'

'I have heard,' said Mr. Rosen, who realised only the last word of
Herries' sentence, 'that a mermaid was indeed seen off the northern
coast of Scotland a month back.  I was told by one who had read of
it.  I could go to bed with a mermaid,' he hiccuped, and looked
gravely distressed, 'were her tail not too long.  Could one choose
one's mermaid?'

It was then that a terrible thing occurred.  David, more and more
restless, seeing that the tent was now fully crowded, that several
had moved near to them and were listening, had his eye on the
tent's door.  Through it he could see a patch of bright sunlight, a
woman dancing on a tub and many figures passing in shadow.  It was
clear by the door.  Someone entered, a woman, Alice Press.

He stared, first thinking that he was blinded by the sunlight, then
that he had mistaken some other woman of a like figure for her--
there was no mistake.  She was wearing the black velvet dress of
the morning.  He could see the silver chain lying against it.  And
she wore the scarlet shoes.  She stood quite by herself, staring
about her.  She looked up and down the tent.  Then she saw Herries.
She saw him, looked full at him, then very slowly began to move up
the tent.

David's eyes were fixed.  He had become an image of apprehension
and fear.  He could see only the green waistcoat of the fat man and
that down it there was trickling a little stream of wine, while his
big belly rose and fell in spasms of laughter.  He did not look at
his father, but he knew, quite suddenly, that his father had seen
her.  He felt for a moment his father's hand touch his shoulder,
then he heard Alice Press' voice.

'I have come, you see.  Will you give me something to eat?'

There was a place at Herries' other side.  She took it with great
ease and composure, but David, who, because of his detestation of
her, had her in his very bones, knew as though it had been himself
that she was suffering from throbbing nervousness and a devilish

Herries, his face very stern, answered her quietly.

'Yes, since you are come. . . .  What will you have?'

She ordered something from the smiling man with the apron, and,
attempting a perfect ease, looked about her.  She must have seen at
once that no women of any quality were there, but only drabs and
Fair ladies.  All stared at her.  At the door-end of the tent a
thick rabble was quarrelling and laughing at its own affairs, but
at the fire-end all eyes were upon her.

She smiled swiftly at Herries, and then began to talk.

'A kind fellow from Seathwaite brought me.  I watched him passing.
'Twas dull at the house and the day bright, so I thought that I
would venture for an hour.  But I am hungry and 'tis three o'clock.
'Tis a gay Fair and of a size for a little town, as large as the
Doncaster Fair.  There are things to buy, I can be sure--will you
buy me something, Francis?'  She put her hand for a moment on his
arm, laughing in his face.  'Yes,' he answered slowly, 'I will buy
you something.'  He did not look at her, but stared in front of him
as though he were lost in thought.

Her food was brought, and she began nervously to eat.  The heat of
the tent, her fear and excitement had brought colour to her sallow
cheeks.  The black dress suited her and her full half-revealed
bosom.  The little spidery man in the blue coat regarded her with
all his eyes, his mouth open, the stout man also.

She continued talking:

'And will you take me to see the sights?  There is a Chinaman three
hundred years old and a play . . .'  She broke off.  She was
gathering courage.  ''Tis time you showed me the world again.'

Herries, for the first time since she had come, looked at her.

'I will show you the world.  It would be ungracious did I not when
you have come so far.  First you shall eat . . .'

It was then that the little Mr. Rosen of Kendal caught up his
courage and spoke to her.  He raised his glass.

'May I drink to you, madam?  You honour us by your company.'

She smiled at him, raising her glass, but her nervous thoughts were
fast on Herries.

'We are all friendly together here,' she said.  'Pleasant company.
Can you tell me, sir, whether the Chinaman has truly three hundred

'They say so.'

'A very Methuselah.  Are you an inhabitant of Keswick?'

'My town is Kendal.'  The little man's eyes were now bursting from
his head at the sight of the lady's opulence and beauty.

''Tis a finer town than Keswick.'

'Larger.  'Tis not for me to say that 'tis finer.  We who are
citizens of it have our private conceit.'  He sighed, swelled out
his chest, felt for the hilt of his sword.

After a little she looked at Herries.  'I have done eating,' she
said.  'Will you take me to the sights?'

Herries drank his glass, looked at it after, with a firm hand, he
had placed it on the table, then turned to her gently.

'Alice,' he said, 'as you have taken this on yourself so you take
the consequences.  When we leave this tent we part. . . .  You do
not return to Herries.'

His voice was quiet, but he had not wished especially to lower it.
Mr. Rosen and his stout friend, and indeed all at that end of the
table, heard the words.

The colour in her face deepened.  She put her hand to her bosom, an
action of hers that David knew well.

'Come, then,' she said, half rising, 'this is too public a
place . . .'

'Nay.'  He put his hand on her arm, holding her down.  'You have
chosen it.  Before we move hence you must tell me that you
understand--at the tent door we part.  You go no more to Herries.'

Her rage at the public insult--her temper was always beyond her
command--flushed her cheeks.  She, too, had in these ten minutes
been drinking to give herself control.  David saw her white hand
pressed with desperate force on the table until the blue veins
stood out.

'Be ashamed,' she murmured.  'In this place. . . .'

'Yes,' he replied.  'In this place.  I want your assurance.'

'No, then,' she cried, her voice suddenly rising.  'You bought me.
You shall keep me.'  It was odd how, with her anger and the freedom
from the drink, the commonness that was in her blood suffused, like
a rising colour, all her body and spirit.

'I bought you.  Yes,' he answered quietly.  'Then I can sell you

Everyone around them was silent.  The stout man, very drunk,
rolling his head, suddenly exclaimed:

'Aye, and who would not have her, this beautiful lady--though she
cost him--his--his house and--and--horses?'

But David saw that she was very afraid.

'Francis, you have been drinking.  I did wrong to come--I confess
it--I will do all that you wish.  But not here--not in this
place. . . .'

But he went on steadily.

'You have said it.  I have bought you, and now, our bargain being
ended, I will sell you again.'  He fixed Rosen with his eye:  'You,
sir, how much will you give me for this lady?'

Several men murmured shame, but everyone here was very drunken:
there was some laughter, and a man began to sing a song.  A woman
very gaudily dressed and painted had come over and, leaning her
bosom on the stout man's back, eagerly watched the scene.

'You insult the lady,' little Rosen began, half rising from his
seat and feeling for his sword: then something in Herries' face
constrained him, and he sat down again.

'I am indeed serious,' said Herries sternly.  'This lady and I are
weary of one another and would part, but she is mine and I would
have compensation.  You, sir,' staring into Rosen's face, 'how much
will you give for her?'

Alice Press rose--'I will pay you for this . . . in good
coin. . . .'  She made as though to go, but he rose also, laid
his hand again on her arm, then, his voice clear so that all heard,
said:  'This lady is for sale--for the one who will bid the

Cries broke out--some were laughing, some swearing, most too
drunken to understand the affair; the garish woman laughed loudest
of all.

A man said:  'Five silver shillings.'

Rosen, fuddled but struggling, in his funny feminine voice
screamed:  'You are a filthy dog--you shall be caned for this--'
Nevertheless he could not take his eyes from Alice Press.  His
whole body hung towards her.

Herries answered him quietly.

'Come, sir, will you give me forty shillings?'

'He'll give forty shillings . . .' some drunken voice murmured like
a refrain.  The garish woman cried shrilly:  'More than she's
worth, the bitch.'

Something happened then to Rosen.  With a frenzied gesture he
plunged his hand in his pocket, flung down on the table a heap of
silver coin, then leaned forward, his face almost in Herries'.

'I'll take her.  I'll take her.  She shall come if she's willing--
I'll care for her--zounds and the devil, I will--an she's willing.'

The money struck the table, and some of the coins, like live
things, danced in the air, springing to the ground.  A heap,
shining there, lay before Herries.

'Have her then,' he said.  'I drink to you both.'

As he did so Alice Press turned to him and struck the glass from
his hand.  The wine splashed in his face.

She said something to him that no one could hear.  Then clearly:

'You shall never be free from this.'

She looked about her once, proudly, and David, who still hated her,
nevertheless at that moment mightily admired her.

Then she turned, brushed through the men and was gone.

Mr. Rosen rose and hurried after her.

Herries picked up one of the pieces of silver, looked at it
intently, then placed it in the deep pocket of his coat.

Quietly, without any haste, he went out.  David, his head up, his
eyes shining, followed him.


It was on a windy April night in the year 1737 that David and his
father arrived at a new understanding together.  The manner of it
was on this wise.

The years that had passed since the very public exit of Mrs. Alice
Press had suffered this and that figure to rise for a moment before
their indifferent background, and then to be whirled like a tumbled
leaf into windy space.

There had been the cheerful, friendly Gay, who, dying of an
inflammation of the bowels in three days, had drawn this unusual
sincerity from Mr. Pope:  'He was the most amiable by far, his
qualities were the gentlest. . . .  Surely if innocence and
integrity can deserve happiness . . .'

It was Mr. Pope's profound opinion that they could not.

On the 13th of March, 1734, one Mr. William Bromley had proposed
that 'leave be given to bring in a Bill for repealing the
Septennial Act, and for the more frequent meeting and calling of
Parliaments'--and the echoes of that appeal were one day to affect
even the remotest hearthstones of Borrowdale.

Other figures, oddly contrasted, beckon for a moment on the mirror.
Bolingbroke, cursing everyone save himself, takes boat for France
on a windy June morning; then Louis of France, making rude
gestures, fingers at nose, that he may irritate, polished
sophisticate that he is, the barbarian Stanislaus; and a heavy-
jowled, good-tempered cynic is fingering women in a gilded London
bedroom and refusing most resolutely to be irritated by either
Louis or Stanislaus.  He has seen, with a smile, the packing of
Bolingbroke's boxes, has signed and smiled cynically again because
Nature that leaves so many dullards lagging on the stage has taken
the great Arbuthnot after only sixty-eight years of noble
brilliance, has snorted with his closest friend and intimate, snuff-
taking Queen Caroline, over the rude, personally insulting
despatches posted indignantly by His Gracious Majesty, the Emperor
Charles the Sixth, and has turned with a grunt back to his women
and bottles again, strong in this policy of masterly inactivity,
this heavy-jowled, good-tempered, massive-bellied cynic Walpole.

One more, before the mirror darkens and the months hurry to a more
desperate destiny--a bright-cheeked, rosy boy receiving his baptism
of fire at the siege of Gaeta, aged only fourteen, Don Carlos
touching the boy's arm with his long hand, and thus angering
Caroline and George in their London palace so that they must send
to Walpole to soothe them--that boy Charles Edward, whose happiest
moment, maybe, is just this when, from that little close-walled
flowered garden, he looks across, a fire of ambition at his heart,
to a thin line of smoky plum-coloured hills.

In Borrowdale, at Herries, David and his father, on the morning of
the 10th of April, 1737, were preparing to ride over to Ravenglass
to spend several nights with brother Harcourt.

David, who was almost eighteen now, and had broadened, strengthened,
darkened, so that you would not know him for the same little boy
who had pretended to sleep in the four-poster at the Keswick inn,
knew nothing of Gay or Arbuthnot, of The Beggar's Opera or the
malicious devilries of Mr. Pope; but he knew by now a great deal
about Borrowdale.

He knew the name of every Statesman in the valley and the faces and
bodies of most of the humans there.  He knew the innermost,
intimate history of every possible fishing locality, the name of
every bird, the lair of every fox.  He had seen a wolf round the
Glaramara caves, he had seen a golden eagle fly in the sun above
Castle Crag, he had shared (without shame or shrinking--that
sensitiveness did not belong to his time) in nearly every bull-
baiting, dog-fighting, cock-fighting that the valley had to offer.
He had learnt something of the spinning and weaving, and there had
not been a Christmas Feast, a stanging at Twelfth Night, a pace-
egging at Easter, a late summer rushbearing, a Hallowe'en or a
local wedding at which he had not played his part.  He was as
popular (although he did not know it and would not have thought of
it had he known it) as his father was not.

His whole young life had become absorbed by this valley world and
by the close history of his own immediate family.  They had been
the seven happiest years of his life.  He was a boy no longer.  He
was on the threshold of his manhood.

This journey to Ravenglass was to show him this.  He had been
anticipating eagerly a visit to his uncle Harcourt ever since he
had first come to Herries.  Uncle Harcourt was to be different,
different from anyone he had seen or known.  Harcourt had lived in
the great world, he cared for the Arts, he was brilliantly read, a
scholar, he could answer many of the questions that, for years now,
David had been longing to ask.

For, although he loved everything that had to do with the outside
world, he had, too, an intellectual eagerness that was perhaps the
growth from seeds that Father Roche had sown.  This had not been

Simple, gentle little Robert Finch had come and taught the three of
them what he could.  That had not been a great deal.  From the
outside world the family at Herries had been more and more shut

Here, in spite of his externally happy life, lay the reason for the
apprehension and misgiving that were in David's heart.  For himself
all might be well, for his family and for those whom he loved, all,
as he very thoroughly knew, was not well at all.

The clouds had begun to gather after the scandal of the Chinese
Fair.  That scandal had been in its effects infinitely more public
than seemed at the time possible.  It had, indeed, been shameful
enough for himself, and its effect on him had altered the whole
balance of his character.  Although five years now intervened he
could yet see and feel every detail of it, the close and ill-
smelling tent, the leaping fire, the genial host, the garish woman
with the painted face, the bright blue coat of the little shrill-
voiced man, the silver coins lying on the table, the broad stout
hand of Alice Press stark on the table-board--but it had been, it
had seemed, a private drama for himself and his father.  For months
he had caught no outside word of it.  All that they had known at
home had been that Alice Press was gone, and for ever: that had
been relief enough.

Then, even to his boy's ears, bit by bit and piece by piece the
story had come to him: the Peel boy knew it, Benjamin knew it, at
last, as he found, his mother and his sisters knew it.  It was a
story incredibly distorted.  It seemed to him, when at last he met
it face to face, to have no relationship to the truth.  Of course
he hotly defended his father--but the mischief was done.  Here was
the man who had sold his woman in public for 'thirty pieces of
silver.'  Even to that country tradition in that uncouth time the
event was memorable.

It clothed his father with a kind of 'apartness'--yes, even for
himself.  His father had always been for him like no other man, but
that had been, in his youngest years, a difference of glory.  Now
it was a difference of peculiarity.

His was a character that must face everything truly and honestly as
it came to him, and now he must face this--that his father could do
shameful things and yet feel no shame.  This, oddly enough, made
him love his father more than he had done before, but it was a love
very different from the earlier one.  Now he must guard and protect
this man who moved under some kind of influence that was straight
from the Devil.  David, of course, believed in the Devil--did he
not know him as he was in human form?

His father must be loved and guarded because he was different from
other men, but no longer could he be worshipped--and this brought
him nearer to David.  There had been from the beginning something
fraternal in their relationship.  That was now strengthened.

Other changes had come upon Francis Herries in these five years.
He was not the beautiful, young, elegant person that he had been on
his first coming to Herries.  His body had stoutened, his dress was
more slovenly, his air more careless.  He bore at times--although
he was worlds apart from him--an odd resemblance to his brother
Pomfret.  At least you could tell now that they were brothers.

In mood he was very much as he had been, gay, charming, sullen,
angry, kindly, cruel.  He did not appear to feel his apartness.  He
had his acquaintances in Keswick, men with whom he rode, betted and
attended the country events, also women.  But David now knew he
carried his secret life within him and was never, for an instant,
unaware of its presence.

They would have been, as a family, more thoroughly isolated than in
winter they were, had it not been for David's country popularity on
the one side that made him friends with everyone in the valley and,
on the Keswick side, strangely enough, because of David's sister

Mary was now fifteen years of age and Deborah fourteen.  Mary was
handsome--she would be a true Herries woman, big-boned, broad-
breasted, carrying herself with that mixture of arrogance and
confidence and grace--that blending of hardness and courtesy, of
indifference and kindly attention, that brought in every country,
society, and age such Herries women to the front.  She was indeed
hard, determined, and ambitious.  Of her true feelings for her
father she had given as yet no sign, but she must from her very
earliest age have felt that he was her enemy, her thwarting
opponent in every desire and longing that was hers.  In truth,
every element in him must have always been distasteful to her, his
recklessness, his irony, his grossness, and, above all, his
unconsciousness of and disregard for public opinion.  For she was
cautious, unaware of subtlety, grimly virtuous and alive to every
public wind that blew.

Very early, indeed, she must have surveyed the scene and decided
that not for her were the isolation of Herries, the mire of
Borrowdale, the rusticity of the country company, the coarseness
and crudity of living.  She had never any eye for any beauty save
her own, her only tenderness was to herself, and she had a power of
cautious waiting on the event, an ability to spin over months and
even years the web of her own secret plans, that was both in its
strength and secrecy extraordinary.

Very soon she had begun to turn her eye to Keswick and her cousins
there.  That was her future world, or rather the stepping-stone to
a larger, grander one, and, at once, she began to use it.  Very
early she won the admiration of her uncle and aunt.  She was in
truth the very type that they could understand and admire.

She found, as she grew older, ways and means of reaching Keswick
that only ruthless determination could have taught her.  At first
her father had angrily forbidden her his brother's house, but soon
he had grown indifferent and lazy.  He had never cared for this
daughter of his.  He did not mind where she went.  When she was
fourteen she persuaded her mother that she must have dancing-
lessons and, riding her own horse, would vanish into Keswick and no
one question her.

It may have been that Pomfret and his wife found a certain triumph
and pleasure in thus alienating one of the children of Francis, but
it is more probable that they had not enough subtlety of mind for
this.  They gained a certain definite pleasure in hearing the child
rail against her father, as she did in quiet, measured, determined
tones, but soon it was reason enough that she was there simply
because she dominated all the family and had already a kind of
social power and authority that neither they nor their children
would ever acquire.

Of Deborah, as she grew older, no one save David ever thought.  She
was not a pretty child.  Pale of face, very thin of body, silent.
Only her brother knew her and the rare, sweet spirit that she had.

It was from her that he obtained his deeper and more subtle
consciousness of the beauty of the country around him.  Child
though she was, she was sensitive to the minutest beauties--a brown
dry tree on a moonlight night, a glittering stream, the softness
that snow on the hill-tops gives to the reflective valley, the
yellow bunches of leaves on the oak tree, the purple depth of the
lake seen beyond a bank of primroses, the low singing of the
swallows, the whiteness of frost-bleached stones, the sudden
flashing out of lights after a sullen storm, a brown stream running
turbulently below a white cottage--above all, the sky of whose
pageantry this country seemed more than any other to offer
extravagant splendours.  She would watch it constantly with a deep
enwrapped contemplation, and yet she did not seem a dreamer, helped
with a steady unobtrusiveness in all the business of the house; but
she was, like her father, although in a very different way, a
spirit alone, the only citizen of her mysterious world.

She had a passion for no other human being save David.  More than
anyone else in the family, she was attentive to Margaret Herries,
never irritated by her stupidities or exasperated by her tears; but
she had no close contact with her.  That was, it might be, her
mother's fault.  It was her husband whom Margaret Herries loved,
ceaselessly, deprecatingly, monotonously, and her daughter Mary
whom she admired.  She would ask Mary wistfully about Keswick and
Pomfret and Jannice.  She did not go to see them because she was
afraid of them and because her husband would be angry if she did,
but theirs was the life that she would have preferred had she had
the good fortune--to be in a fine house in a lighted town with
company and cards and an occasional ball--but these only if Francis
shared them with her.

As he did not choose that life she preferred this isolated one so
that he shared it with her.  Shared was perhaps too strong a word
for anything that he did with her.  He told her nothing, approached
her always with that same mixture of sarcastic humour and rough
careless kindness: she would never understand him at all; perhaps
if the moment of comprehension had ever come to her she would not
have loved him any longer, so that it was well as it was.

This, however, can at least be said, that, after Alice Press'
departure, she was happier than she had been before.  If he had
other mistresses she did not know of them, and like many another
wife, after her and before, so long as she did not know she did not

So these years had passed, a strange, slow mist of isolation
creeping up around Herries, a mist not of fact but of suggestion,
an atmosphere that slowly marked off this family as different from
other families, a family of another colour, as though they had
been, these Herries, of foreign blood, and had come from some very
distant land where odd beasts dwelt and dangerous rivers ran.

It was just about now that, for the first time, someone said in
Keswick:  'He's a rogue, Herries--a fantastic rogue.'

Meanwhile, in this April month, Francis and his son David rode
together to Ravenglass to stay, for several nights, with brother
Harcourt.  They rode over the Stye Head Pass and down into Wasdale.
David rode on Caesar, and Francis on a little shaggy horse that he
called Walpole because he had a belly and was cynically indifferent
to any morality.  The little horses picked their way very carefully
up the hill with deliberate slowness.

No one hurried them.  The day was grey and still with little pools
of sunlight in a dark sky.  The hills had snow on their tops, but
in the valleys the larches were beginning to break into intense
green flame.  As they wound up the Pass, the hills gathered about
them, not grandly and with arrogant indifference as larger hills do
in other countries, but with intimacy and friendliness as though
they liked human beings and were interested in their fates.

By the Stye Head Tarn it was grim and desolate.  This Tarn lies, an
ebony unreflecting mirror, at the foot of the Gavel--beyond it, to
the left, soft green ridges run to Esk Hause and the Langdales and
lonely Eskdale.

Above the green stretches there are the harsh serrated lines of
Scafell Pike and the thin edge of Mickledore.  It was here,
however, and on this day that David had his first sharp
consciousness of the Gavel, the grand and noble hill that was one
day to watch him struggling for his life.

It was not to be seen at its finest here from the Tarn, for it
sprawled away to the right almost without shape and form:
nevertheless the spirit of it, dauntless, generous and wise, seized
and held him.  The sunlight, hidden elsewhere, broke above its head
and caressed it; long strathes of water, blue like the cold spring
streams that ran below the snowdrops, spread about its shoulders.

The whole expanse of land here is wide and strong, so that although
no plan or form is visible it makes of itself a form, the Tarn, the
green stretches, the grouping hills having their own visible life
without any human thought or agency to assist them.

They stayed for a little while beside the black Tarn.  Herries,
climbing the Pass, had been very genial, speaking of anything that
came into his head, of a bull-baiting in Keswick, of funny days in
Doncaster and of his old long-ago life near Carlisle.  When he was
thus he and David were like brothers.  But suddenly now beside the
Tarn he became morose and gloomy.  He withdrew into himself.  In
silence they rode down into Wasdale, along the road, past the
little church to the long lake's edge.  Here there was great
beauty, the grey lake without a ripple and descending into it the
black precipitous Screes, savage and relentless, while on the bank
where they rode everything was soft with golden sand, green
shelving meadow on which sheep were grazing, and the larches
bursting into leaf.  All the afternoon they rode in silence turning
inland over rough, dull country.

It was not until they came to Santon Bridge that Francis Herries
broke the silence.

'Thy uncle Harcourt is Jacobite.  He is a romantic jackanapes.  Let
him not talk thee over.'  Then he laughed, twisting himself round
on his horse to look at his stolid, thickset, square-shouldered
son.  'Not much romantic notion in thy head, David.'

David to his own surprise did not answer.  Perhaps it was that the
scene had now of itself become romantic.  They were riding through
thick woods, and between the spaces of the trees the evening sky
was faintly rose.  A bird, singing, seemed to accompany them.  But
it was not only the place and the hour.  David found that his
father had unexpectedly touched something in him that was deep and
fervid.  Was this the consequence of that ride, seven years ago,
with Father Roche?  He could hear the melody and worship of the
priest's voice now--'Even as our Blessed Saviour, so the King . . .'

And, realising this, he was aware that there was something in him
here that his father could neither govern nor command--nay,
something that his father could not touch.  And yet the folly of
it!  What did he know about Jacobitism, its rights or wrongs?  And
yet he seemed in those few moments between the dark trees to have
started some conflict with his father.

'Where has Father Roche been these years?' he asked.

Herries tossed his head.  'How do I know?  He is a fool, a fanatic.
He had fine parts but must needs waste them on a mare's nest. . . .'
Then he added abruptly:  'He hath been in Rome, tying the Pretender's

He went on as the evening gathered under the rosy sky.  'He had a
power over me.  He has had a power over many.  But, believe me, if
ever he returns it will be for no good.  An ill-omened bird.  Yes,
a fanatic--better that, though, than a half-nothing like your
father.  David, have you ever dreamt a recurring dream?'

David shook his head, laughing.

'I am too heavy of nights to dream.'

'I believe that.'  Walpole stumbled.  Herries pulled at him with a

'I have a dream. . . .'  He stopped abruptly.  'There are the
lights of Ravenglass.  We are almost in.'  They came clattering
over the cobbles of the little place and smelt the salt sea and
heard the sharp questioning cry of the gulls.  A fellow standing in
a doorway directed them to Harcourt's house.

Although it was now dark David could see the little square white-
fronted house thrust back from the street in a small, walled
garden.  He smelt, as they waited by the door, the sting of the sea
and an aromatic scent of herbs and could see here and there the
faint yellow of blowing daffodils.

A little old man, very ancient, in a white wig, knee-breeches, and
with large silver buckles to his shoes, holding a candle above his
head, opened the door cautiously to them, after much unbolting and
unbarring and rattling of chains.  A moment later Harcourt Herries
was there to greet them.

They all went together round with the horses to the stables which
were at the back of the garden.  The stars were coming out and a
strong wind blowing.  They returned to the house, and Harcourt, a
silver candlestick held high in either hand, led them up to their

In the candlelight as he stood and talked to his brother, David
could see him clearly.  He was a little thin spindle-shanked man
very elegantly dressed in an old fashion.  He had the high, white
forehead and the air of breeding that belonged to the Herries, the
breeding that even Pomfret could not quite lose.  You could see
that he was brother to Francis, but although he was only twelve
years older, forty-nine to Francis' thirty-seven, he might have
been his brother's father.

His face was thin and drawn and covered with a network of wrinkles;
his body was so slight and delicate that as with rare china you
might expect to see through it.

Everything about him was refined, from the thin gold ring with a
green stone on his finger, to the rich rose-colour of his skirted
coat.  His voice, when he spoke, was very gentle and kind, and
there was in it a note, full and harmonious, that resembled
something in Francis' voice.

He looked exceedingly fragile as he stood in the candlelight beside
his brother, whose body was beginning to thicken, and his nephew,
whose strength and health shone through his young limbs.  He had
things about him that were like Francis and Father Roche and
Deborah, the three people for whom David had, in his life, cared
the most.

Harcourt left them to wash off the dirt and weariness of the ride.
The jugs and basins in the room were of old beaten silver, and
round the top of the four-poster ran a fine tapestry with friezes
in rose and old saffron.

Before they went down, Francis said to his son:  'You will find no
woman in the house.  Harcourt was once in his youth crossed in
love.  He cannot abide women, and will have none about him.'

Downstairs in a charming panelled parlour they had a meal that was
to David a delight.  The candlelight trembled before the dark

It was late indeed for dinner, but there was fine fare--a grand
salmon, a patty of calf's brains, a piece of roast beef, a dish of
fruit with preserved flowers, spinage tarts, sweet with candied
orange and citron peel mixed with the spinage, marrow and eggs, and
fresh fruit, pears and China oranges and muscadine grapes.  There
were French wines, Pontack and Hermitage, and later when the table
was cleared and showed a pool of splendour under the candles, a
bowl of Brunswick Mum, the most intoxicating liquor known to man.
Neither Harcourt nor his nephew was drunk.  The boy felt perhaps
that for the first time, outside his own house, he was treated as a
man.  Harcourt was a most charming host, telling them in his gentle
voice the romantic things about Ravenglass--how its name meant grey-
blue river, how three rivers--the Esk, the Irt, and the Mite--
joined here to make the almost landlocked harbour, how once the
Romans had been here and made a camp.  How in those days it was a
place of importance, had its charter in the beginning of the
thirteenth century, and at Muncaster Castle near by, the
Penningtons would take refuge from the sea raiders, how Henry VI.
fleeing there after a lost battle gave his host an enamelled bowl
of green glass, 'the Luck of Muncaster,' how still there was
traffic in the harbour and much smuggling to and from the Isle of
Man, which was but forty miles away.  He said that, as he sat there
in his room, he could see the Romans and the men of the Middle Ages
and all the busy citizens of the place, when it was a prosperous
town, come crowding about him with their long, thin faces and
strange distant voices--and at that Francis, who was now drunk with
the Mum, laughed at him and called him a romantic fool.

It was then that David felt again an odd wave of antagonism to his
father sweep over him.

There was something moving between them, something new that had
never been between them before: soon it would appear and would be

He became in that first evening attached to his uncle, and it was
plain enough that his uncle delighted in him; on the next morning,
which was cold and windy, Francis was oddly morose and, saying very
little to either of them, went off by himself.  Uncle and nephew
sat by the coal fire in the parlour.

Harcourt talked of the days when he was a boy in the London of
Queen Anne.  He had been fourteen years of age when he first went
there.  He had been present at the sacking of the New Court in the
Sacheverell riots and had seen the huge bonfire of its furniture in
Lincoln's Inn Fields; he had had nights on the Folly, the Thames
barge opposite Whitehall, although it had already then fallen out
of fashion; he described the coffeehouses as though he were still
frequenting them--Anderton's, the Bay Tree, Button's, Child's,
where you might, an you were lucky, see learned celebrities like
Dr. Mead and Sir Hans Sloane; or Don Saltero's, set up by Sir Hans
Sloane's servant, where there was a collection of curiosities such
as the Queen of Sheba's cordial bottle, Gustavus Adolphus' gloves
and King Charles II.'s beard which he wore in disguise in the Royal

He had been a great lover of the drama, he told David, a faint
flush of enthusiastic memory staining his wrinkled cheek.

In the Dorset Gardens Theatre, he had witnessed a performance by
the lovely Mrs. Tofts.  This theatre was pulled down in 1709, and
the world of pleasure knew it no more.  In the Theatre Royal, in
Drury Lane, he had been thrilled by the performance of the second
part of The Destruction of Jerusalem.  He would never forget the
splendour of Mrs. Rogers as Berenice.

But his chief love had been the Italian Opera.  He had himself been
present at the great event of its opening on the 9th of April,
1705, when Vanbrugh and Congreve had been there and Mrs.
Bracegirdle had spoken the Prologue.  The opera on this occasion
had been The Triumph of Love.

As he talked he seemed to recreate about him all the distant and
vibrating life of that old time, already so quaint and unmodern,
with the busy scenes on the river, the perils of the night Mohawks,
the chatter of the shops and coffeehouses, and great figures like
the Queen and Harley and Marlborough moving in splendid ghostly

But what held young David and made this talk memorable to him for
ever was the note of wistful and yet acquiescent regret in his
uncle's voice.  That had been the time when life had been so full
of energy and eagerness: everything had been promised then--love
and fame and great company--now in this little house, with the sea-
coal's thin glow between the fire-dogs, the whisper and rustle of
the sea beyond the dark windows, the sense of the little dead and
abandoned town once of so busy a prosperity, the remoteness, the
half-death-in-life, the eternal melancholy of the indifferent
passing of time. . . .

Nevertheless, Uncle Harcourt was cheerful enough.  He opened with
delicate, reverent fingers his bookcases and produced his Spensers
and Miltons and Ben Jonsons.  His favourite poet was Mr. Pope.  He
had Lintot's Miscellany with the first publication of 'The Rape of
the Lock,' and the earliest editions of the Iliad as the volumes
appeared from 1715 to 1720.

But most of all did he love the 'Elegy to the Memory of an
Unfortunate Lady,' and, with tears in his eyes, recited, his voice
quivering a little as he spoke:

     'By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed,
     By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed,
     By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned,
     By strangers honoured, and by strangers mourned!
     What tho' no friends in sable weeds appear,
     Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year,
     And bear about the mockery of woe
     To midnight dances and the public show!
     What tho' no weeping Loves thy ashes grace,
     Nor polished marble emulate thy face!
     What tho' no sacred earth allow thee room,
     Nor hallowed dirge be muttered o'er thy tomb!
     Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be drest,
     And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast:
     There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow;
     There the first roses of the year shall blow;
     While Angels with their silver wings o'ershade
     The ground, now sacred by thy reliques made.'

So long as he lived David was never to forget that scene--the
little man, his wig a trifle awry, the volume in one hand, the
other hand behind the heavy skirt of his coat, the gentle,
melodious voice, the rain, that had now begun to fall, beating on
the pane, the distant surge of the sea, the steady friendly murmur
of the grandfather's clock.  He was not imaginative as his father
was; he was never to care very passionately for art and letters,
but he made, in this morning, a new friend and acquired for ever
some sense of the tragedy of the passing of time and the deep
intangible beauty of old loyalties.

His uncle afterwards began to speak of his father.  David at once
perceived two things, one that his uncle had in his youth deeply
loved his father.  His older years had given him a protective
maternal love of him.  There was something very feminine in Uncle
Harcourt's nature, and more and more as the morning passed he
reminded David of Deborah.  And, secondly, Harcourt was greatly
distressed at his brother's appearance.  He had not seen him for
six years and although he said but little and asked but few
questions David could see that some unexpressed alarm worked in

He spoke of Francis' youth, of how he had been always different
from the others, capable of the greatest things, but that some
instability had always checked him.  'He hath always imagined more
than he grasped, dreamed more than he could realise.  There is a
wild loneliness in his spirit that no one can reach.'

Then coming and putting his hand most affectionately on David's
shoulder he added:  'But he hath bred his greater self in his son,
who will fulfil his dearest hopes.  I can see that, and it gives me
great happiness.'

They were thus affectionately together when Francis Herries came
in.  He stayed in the doorway then came forward.  'A very pretty
picture,' he said.  They were both immediately conscious of anger
in his voice.  David drew away from his uncle, getting up and
moving to the window.

'Welcome, brother,' said Harcourt.  'Be warm by the fire and tell
us where you have been.'

'Nay,' Francis continued, his voice dry with sarcasm, 'I am one too
many.  I have a book to read--in my room.'  But Harcourt came
across to him, laughing, put his hand on his shoulder and drew him
to the fire.

Francis was like a child.  He sat by the fire, his feet stretched
out, and sulked.  Their evening meal was not very gay.  David felt
in every vein antagonism to his father.  To repay his brother's
courtesy with such childishness!  At the age that he had, to sulk
and pout like an infant!  And yet behind the childishness there was
something real.  Jealousy?  Loneliness?  Discontent?  Through the
evening the antagonism between them grew.  By the close of the meal
David was miserable.  This was none of the old childish quarrels
that ended in a beating.  And yet what was it about?  Where was its
growth?  A ride through darkening woods, drunkenness over Mum, a
flurry of rain. . . .

Sitting there Harcourt raised his glass.  'The King!'  He crossed
the glass in the air.

Francis sprang to his feet.  'None of that humbug, brother!  The
boy has enough nonsense in his head.'

Harcourt flung his glass behind him.  It smashed on the wall.

'I have drunk my toast in my own house,' he answered evenly.

An idiotic moonlight fluttered at the window, very feeble and

Francis walked to the door, stayed, then came back and put his hand
on his brother's shoulder.  'I am become too serious.  I have had a
day with only ill thoughts for company.'  Then, surprisingly, he
turned to his son.  'Will you come out with me, David?  There is a

The boy nodded, then turned, smiling, to his uncle:

'You will not be lonely for an hour?'

The little man smiled back at him.

'Mr. Pope will drink a glass with me.'  They all smiled at one
another.  Friendliness had suddenly returned.

Francis and David walked out into the little street, which was
quite deserted.  There were two sounds, the even whisper of the sea
and some drunken fellow at a distance shouting a chorus.  The
moonlight was a faint, grey, glassy shadow dimming the sharp
outline of the houses, but at the sea-edge it was stronger,
flooding the water and giving an unreal size and shape to the
distant sand-dunes that lay like lazy, grey whales on either side
of the harbour.

A little boat stayed very faintly rocking at the shore's edge.

'Shall we take the boat out to the sand?' Francis asked.  'There's
no one to prevent us.'  They climbed in, Francis took the oars and
in silence rowed over the water.

It was not excessively cold, and as they went forward the clouds
shredded away, the moon came out riding in a misty, starless
heaven.  Round her was a ring dark red in colour.

David wondered what his father was going to do.  He had some
purpose.  David on his side felt his own independence resolutely
strengthen.  Some subservience that there had always been to his
father was no longer there.  The boat shelved gently on to the sand
and they stepped out.  The sand was hard and crisp under the feet:
the dune was naked save for a thick black post that stood up, like
a finger in the moonlight.  They walked over the dune and stood on
the farther side.  The sea was stronger here, coming in fiercely
and drawing back with a powerful grating reluctance.  They stood
together looking out.

'I will not have you play with this Jacobite folly,' Francis said
suddenly.  'Understand me in this.  You are a child--your uncle is
an old dreamer and babbles of Queen Anne.'

David straightened his shoulders.  'I have played with no Jacobite
folly,' he said.  'I have only spoken of it once and that for a
brief while.'

Francis felt the new tone in the boy's voice.  'You had some fine
intimate confidences with your uncle,' he said scornfully.  'I
should have remembered that he has a way with young men.  Had I
remembered I would not have brought you.'

In each of them anger was rising; their isolation, thus standing
quite alone in a bare world that was all moonlight and water,
increased their sense of opposition.

David said coldly:  'I am no child, father, any longer.  I must
have my own judgement.  My uncle is a generous host.  To-day you
have left him all afternoon and he has not seen you for six years.'

His father turned to him passionately.  'And so the babe has
grown. . . .  By Christ, I'll sit meekly by and have my son read
me a lesson.  Has the hair grown above your belly yet, and how many
women are with child by you?'

David stood his ground, but strange old fears, born of whippings
and terrors and childish nightmares, crowded over the sand-dune and
caught at his feet.  'I am on the edge of manhood and you should
know it.  I have been child to you long enough.  If I find my uncle
care-worthy I have a right to care for him.  It is time when I must
think for myself.  I love you, father, as I love no one else alive.
There is a bond between us, and, I suppose, will always be, that we
can have with none other.  You have often recognised it.  But I am
my own man.  I have my own life to carry, and yield my liberty to
no one--'

Francis laughed.  'Your liberty--who constrains it?  You speak
bravely of love, but there is also a word duty.  When I say bend
you shall bend.  When I command you shall go.  No doubt but your
uncle's flattering enlarges you--but not with me . . . come here.'

David came close to him.  Francis caught his cheek and pinched it.
'You are mine, my fine son--strip now.  Here, under this moon.  I
will run you naked into the sea--cold bathing for a rebellious son.
That shall cool thy Jacobite notions.  Strip then.'

'I will not,' David said.  He was trembling from head to foot, but
neither with chill nor with fear.

'You will not? . . .  Better for thee far to obey.  Strip--naked as
you were born.'

'I will not,' David said again.

Francis had in his hand a small cane with a gold-stamped head.  He
raised it and struck David across the cheek with it.  David caught
it, flinging it far into the sea.

They stood staring the one at the other.

'That--never again,' David said quietly.  The moonlight showed the
red weal from his eye to his mouth--'The last time . . .'

Francis stayed without a word.  Then he turned and walked away
across the sand.

David stood there looking at the red ring around the moon, knowing
that something fundamental that would affect all his life had
occurred.  He had the quality of common sense in melodrama; the
unreality of any scene did not lead himself to unreality.  This was
unreal, the desolate sand, the crazy moon red-ringed, the mildewed
sea, his father's assault, his own action--all unreal and yet at
their heart a real and true fact, that he was child no longer.

He waited: he was sure that his father would return and that then,
perhaps, they would be companions as they had never been before.
His father did return, slowly coming across the sand, his figure
thin and hard in the soft moonlight.

When he was near David went up to him, holding out his hand and
smiling.  'You must know for yourself,' he said, 'that the water is
too cold.  And for your cane you shall have another.'

Francis caught him, gripped his shoulder, then stood close, his
hand against his wounded cheek.

'You are a boy no longer.  You are right in that.  But I have been
jealous to-day, suffering torture for you.

'Always I have been judged to lose anything where I put value, and
to catch to me closer than a flea anything that was worthless.

'For years I have been prepared for you to go like the rest.  When
you were a baby I would watch and say, "Now, in a moment his eyes
will change.  He will know me for a rogue."  And then, as one
accident after another passed and still you were the same, I would
say, "He is only a child.  He hasn't heard.  He hasn't years enough
to understand."  When my temper or my lust has driven me I have
thought, "This will take him away the sooner," and I have almost
wished for that, because my dread of losing you would be the
earlier satiated.  And now, to-day, watching your happiness with
your uncle, I went out so that he should tell you everything--how
as a child I did this and as a youth that, this way a rogue, that
way a villain.

'I thought, "When I return he will know me for what I am, and our
time together will be over.  Then everything and everyone will have
gone from me and I need fear no more."

'And I came in and saw his arm about your neck and hated you,
loving you never so dearly as then.  Never so dearly--save now.'

He broke off, then drawing David closer to him, waved his hand at
the moon.  'The red ring--so it was when I ruffled my first girl,
twelve years of age as I was, in a hay-loft.'  Then he turned David
towards him and looked at him:  'One day you will go from me--but
not yet.'

David, smiling, said:

'Why should I ever leave you?  I have no light sentiment about
persons.  You and Deborah I could never leave.  You have told me,'
he went on, hesitating a little, 'that I have no imagination nor
fancy.  I think that is true.  I see what is before me and only
that.  But I am the easier faithful.  I have noticed that those who
have much fancy are but rarely steadfast.  But this I know.  Were I
made more cleverly I would be of less enduring service to you.'

He said this with a very grave air, as though he had long been

His father answered him:  'There are only nineteen years between
us, and as time goes they will lessen.  Soon we shall be of an age:
then you will pass me and be old before I am weaned.  But remember
this,' he touched the boy's arm lightly, almost withdrawing from
him, 'whatever others say, I have it in me to be faithful--only as
yet I have found neither cause nor person nor quality fit for that
fidelity.  I say this with no arrogance.  I know what I am, and
that is no fine thing.  Nor do I say that with modesty.  God may
answer, if He is, for it is He that has made a man in a mouldy
broken image of a divine ambition. . . .  But always with us
Herries there have been one or two who see farther than they can
reach and hope for more than they shall ever get.

'Their place is to break up that pattern formed so beautifully by
such as your dear uncle Pomfret.  So the strife goes on, and will
always go between the marred angels and the belly-filling citizens
who have their fine houses and thank God they are not as others.

'The Herries have always been thus, and will always be, so making a
fine study for your social observer.

'But I can dream of beauty, and if one day it is put in my
hand . . .'

He broke off.  'What I would say,' he added, kicking the sand with
his shoe, 'is that crab-apples are deceiving when they shine in
moonlight, and the taste is stale.'

Then, almost passionately, he cried:

'Ah, but stay by me, David.  I am going the wrong way, and what
matters it?  It is only another man lost.  But one day I may be
faithful to something, and then I would have you witness of it.'

David, who only saw the principal fact, that his father needed him,
answered, as Ruth once answered:

'I will never leave you.'

His father, looking at him ironically, said:

'Your imagination saves you, Davy.  That you have none, I mean.
But you have made a vow here.  I must have something for the loss
of my gold cane.'

And then, the wind once more rising, whipping up the waves, they
turned back across the sand.


The December weeks that winter of 1737 were wonderful.  Frost held
the valley: Derwentwater Lake was frozen from end to end for
thirteen days; the hills were powdered with thin patterns of snow
hardening to crystal under a blue sky.

The valley was now truly enclosed.  The outer world did not exist
for it.  The autumnal rains had been very violent, and, after them,
Borrowdale barred its door.

The Herries family itself took the fashion.  Even Mary deserted her
Keswick cousins.  As Christmas approached they were all caught into
the general eagerness.  In every house in the valley such a baking
and brewing was going on as the Herries children had never seen in
their Doncaster days.  And the materials for this were all self-
provided.  No going into Keswick for town provisions.  The valley
was sufficient for itself.  Down the path below Herries the
Statesman Peel would be striding, his hands in huge home-made
mittens, his jacket buttoned up to his chin, passing his dairy-maid
who, with her piggin in her hand, was hurrying to the cow-house,
relishing the warmth and smell of the cows after the bitter cold
that descends from the snowy hills; the boys sliding on the little
pond beyond Herries in their wooden clogs, the blue sky, the snowy
hills over all, the Wise Man with the pink ribbons to his moleskin
hat moving up the road to Seathwaite, witches hiding, no doubt, in
the Glaramara caves, the Devil warm at a farm-house fire with his
pedlar's pack, and all the wives and daughters washing, baking,
churning; the puddings and pies will be enough for all Cumberland.

As Christmas approached more nearly David became uneasy and
restless.  It may have been that there was something ominous for
him in the strange isolation of this valley.  It was not that he
was dull; every moment of the day seemed to be filled.  He was now
friend to all the valley.  Whatever they might feel about his
father there was no differing opinion about himself.  His handsome
looks and splendid body (he promised to be a giant both in breadth
and height; he was already as tall as his father), his courage,
openness and sincerity, the absence of all conceit and social
arrogance, his simplicity, a certain animal lack of subtlety, his
kindliness of heart and warmth of feeling--here promised to be a
man of no ordinary colour, and everyone realised it.  He had that
greatest of all powers--he loved his fellows without being
conscious that he loved them.  Had he been a little less simple he
might have seen them more justly, but in the end have judged them
more untruly.

With all its simplicity, his character, as it was developing, was
not uninteresting.  His fearlessness, honesty and warmth of heart
gave even his smallest adventures a richness of colour.  He was of
the race around whom legends grow: already people told stories of
his strength, of how he had bent an iron bar in Peel's kitchen,
beaten a shepherd from Watendlath, and whacked a Seathwaite farmer
at singlestick and he champion of the valley--small stories, but he
was already talked of beyond Bassenthwaite and over Buttermere and
Loweswater.  Borrowdale was the proudest of all the valleys and the
stickiest to foreigners, but its natives already showed signs of
adopting young Herries.  Young Herries, but no other of the
Herries, family.  It was possibly of this that David was subtly
aware, partly this that roused his uneasiness.

It seemed to him that this valley had entrapped them.  He was not
sorry to be entrapped--he was happier here than he had ever been
anywhere--but the sense that they were caught and held roused his
fear.  It was the only fear that life perhaps could give him--the
fear of confinement--and now not so much for himself as for his
father.  He was growing now to be a man and ever since that night
at Ravenglass he had been on shoulder-level with his father.  His
father seemed to him more alone than anyone in the world.  No one
in the valley was his friend.  He was someone of a different nation
from all of them--from his own son as well.

And the valley, because it was at this time almost savage in its
isolation, hated and feared, like all savage things, what was
different from itself.  David loved his father now more than he had
ever done, but he understood him less the older he grew, and feared
for him more with every day.

He saw with his own eyes once a small child run from his father
screaming.  He did not yet know that the mothers of the valley told
their babies that Rogue Herries would eat them if he caught them.

Nearer to David's father than any other man in the valley was
Statesman Peel.  He was himself a rather isolated man, gigantic in
build but silent, keeping to himself.  Rendal Peel, his son,
David's dearest friend, was frightened of his father and could
manage no contact with him.  He too was a silent boy, adoring
David, following him like a dog.

So there they were this Christmas that was fated to add another
legend to the Herries story.  Rogue Herries who sold his woman for
thirty silver pieces and Rogue Herries who was slashed in the cheek
by young Osbaldistone. . . .  Nothing stands still.  The course
that the lives of Francis Herries and his son David were to take
was largely fashioned that winter.

All England was at this time wrapped in superstition: the Age of
Reason was only now stirring in that romantic womb--and no valley
in England was more superstitious than this little one of
Borrowdale.  Perhaps you could not call it superstition, so active
a part in daily life did they play, pixies and warlocks, gnomes and
little green Johnnies, the Devil and his myriad witches.  It was
not far back that men of Borrowdale, seeing a red deer on the
hills, had thought it a horse with horns and pursued it for a
magical twist of the Devil; and the wall to keep in the cuckoo
would yet have succeeded had it been but a story higher.

It was unlikely that David, a child of his time, would escape this
magic.  As he sat now, a week before Christmas, with Deborah before
the open fire in the Herries hall and saw the snow swirl like
twisting worsted beyond the leaded panes, he felt that they were
both held there by a spell--the spell, it might be, of his wicked
old ancestor hanging on the panelled wall.

His great shoulders and long legs sprawled beyond his chair; his
fair head was thrown back; his eyes, warm in spite of their bright
blueness, stared into the black beams above him.  Deborah, seated
at his feet, looking up at him, thought that she had never seen
anyone so splendid.

'Deb, why is it that they hate father so?'

For how long now had this question been hovering between them!

'There is a separateness about father.'  She stared into the golden
cavern that hung, lit with sparks of fire, between the black logs.
'They cannot understand him nor he them.'

'Deb, do you understand him?'

'Yes, I fancy so.  He dreams of what life should be and because it
falls so far behind his dream he abuses it.'

David let his hand fall on her hair.

'I am no dreamer, but I can see how a man in this life may have
ambitions to alter it.  I am a poor oaf, Deb.  I love every moment
of the day.  Just to feel the blood in my veins is enough for me.
Such a day as yesterday with Rendal on the Gavel when, from the
summit, you could look out to the sea like a green shawl and all
the tops hushed with snow. . . .  That's enough for me, Deb.  And
always will be.  I shall never go from here.  I shall never do
anything in the world. . . .  I cannot be unhappy like my father.'
Then he added, dropping his voice:  'I am afraid for our father.'

And she whispered:  'I also.'

They had never, although their lives had been so intimate,
confessed so much to one another, and in their young hearts,
courageous and generous, there beat a tremendous impulse of loyalty
and protection to him.

They offered their young bodies and their strong souls as shields
and bucklers for his protection, whatever he might do or be.  No
matter how valueless his worth they were his guard and would always

Deborah looked up to David and clasped his hand; as they looked at
one another that was what they meant.  Then they both saw, leaning
a little heavily against the window-ledge, their mother.  Her face
was pallid: her hands gripped the wood.  She was like a heavy
ghost: she had made no sound and her eyes did not move.

'I am unwell,' she suddenly gasped.  'I have a sharp pain at my

David jumped up and ran to her.  He put his arm about her and with
his great strength almost carried her up the little stairs to her
room.  She smiled very faintly as he laid her on the bed.

'The pain is nothing,' then, closing her eyes, she murmured,
'Christ is kind. . . .  He moves gently. . . .'  She caught her
son's hand.  'Don't tell your father. . . .  How cold it is in this

She was better again by Christmas Eve, and was up seated in the
hall, watching them dance to the fiddle of old Johnny Shoestring,
whose bow squeaked like a dying hen.  That was the happiest evening
they had yet had in Borrowdale.  The hall was bright, the fire
leaping, the candles burning, the floor shining.  Wilson had hung
three old flags that had been buried in the oak chest, one of
crimson with a white cross, one of faded purple and one of green.
Whose flags?  From what wars?  No one knew.  The holly was thick
with red berries that year and hung from the rafters.  They could
hear the bells ringing from the Chapel above the splash and crackle
of the fire.  Francis was a child, younger than any.  They danced
till they sank on the floor with weariness.  Margaret Herries never
moved her eyes from her husband.

Next night, Christmas night, they were invited to Statesman Peel's.
It was not as it was in most parts of England where, at Christmas
time, the Squire was the King of the Castle and his subjects were
graciously bidden to enjoy his hospitality with a proper sense of
his grand benignancy and their inferior peasantry.  In Borrowdale
every Statesman was master of his own house and owed allegiance to
no one.  Every Statesman's house was open on Christmas night to all
the world, rich and poor.  There were the guests, indeed, who had
their special places there, but the doors were wide open to the
stars and the line of friendly hills and the hard-frosted road.

Peel's kitchen this night was a place of splendour.  Its warmth and
colour, its happiness and hospitality, stretched to the farthest
heavens.  Glaramara and the Gavel looked in at the windows, the
Derwent rolled its waters past the door, and every star scattered
its light over the roof-tree.

There is no house like Peel's house anywhere in England any more,
but, as it stood then, in its life and strength and happiness, it
was thus.  It was a strong place, secured with strong doors and
gates, its small windows crossed with bars of iron.  It held three
rooms on the ground floor and two on the second story.

The front door was covered with a low porch, the entrance from
which was called the 'thresh-wood' or threshold, and on this thresh-
wood crossed straws, horse-shoes and so on, were laid to hinder the
entrance of witches.  From this there was a broad passage through
the house called the 'hallan'; sacks of corn were deposited here
before market-day, pigs were hung after killing, and there was a
shelf over the door where sickles hung and carpentry tools were

In Peel's house the hallan opened straight into the 'downhouse'.
This was in his case the great common room of the family, the place
of to-night's Christmas Feast.  Here, in the course of the year,
everything occurred, baking, brewing, washing, meals, quarrelling,
courting, tale-telling.  This downhouse had no second story but was
open to the rafters.  In later days a second story was often built
over the downhouse.  The sides of this room were smeared with clay
and cow-dung.  Joints of meat hung dry for winter use.  From the
smoky dome of the huge fireplace dropped a black sooty lee called
the 'hallan drop'.  Under this the women knitted or spun wool or
flax, the men sometimes carding the wool, the children learning
their lessons, the old men telling their tales.  At the opposite
end of the passage was the mill-door and beyond this another
passage known as the 'heck', and this heck was terminated by a huge
octagonal post.  Into this post sometimes a hole was bored and in
it a piece of cow-hair secured by a wooden peg for the purpose of
cleaning combs, and behind the heck was a bench.

The windows were separated by stone munnions, and here were the
Bible and Prayer Book, Tom Hickathrift and Sir William Stanley's

The chimney wing was spacious.  Indeed, this was a really vast
chamber, for it was the 'house' or dwelling-room and 'downhouse' or
kitchen thrown into one.  Part of it therefore stood for kitchen
with the great chimney and hearth; here, on the heap of wood ashes,
was the 'handreth,' an iron tripod on which was placed the 'girdle'
for baking oat-bread.  Before the fire stood a spit.  The two
standards, which were three feet high with seven hooks, were
hinged, so that they could be folded and put away when not in use.
The spit, a slender rod, was six feet in length, and on the rod
were two pairs of prongs to hold the meat, and beneath it a
dripping-pan.  There was a handmill or 'quern,' a malt mill, a
spindle and a 'whorl,' a spinning wheel.  In the chimney wing were
hung hams and sides of bacon and beef, and near the fire-window was
an ingle-seat, comfortable most of the year save when the rain or
snow poured down on to the hearth, as the chimney was quite
unprotected and you could look up it and see the sky above you.
Such was the kitchen end of the room.  The floor to-night was
cleared for the dancing, but at the opposite end trestle-tables
were ranged for the feasting.  Here was also a large oak cupboard
with handsomely carved doors.  This held the bread, bread made of
oatmeal and water.  On the mantel and cupboard there were rushlight
holders and brass candlesticks.  In other parts of the room were
big standard holders for rushlights.

All these to-night were brilliantly lit and blew in great gusts in
the wind.

Francis Herries, arriving with his children, David, Mary and
Deborah, found that already everything was in a whirl.  Peel
himself greeted them magnificently, standing his six foot four,
splendid in his dark coat of native fleece and buckskin breeches,
and Mrs. Peel, stout, very red of face, in russet, all the little
Peels (and there were very many) gathered together behind her.

Many were already dancing.  It was a scene of brilliant colour with
the blazing fire, the red berries of the holly glowing in every
corner, old Johnny Shoestring in bright blue breeches and with
silver buckles to his shoes perched on a high stool fiddling for
his life, the brass gleaming, faces shining, the stamp of the
shoon, the screaming of the fiddle, the clap-clap of the hands as
the turns were made in the dance--and beyond the heat and the light
the dark form of the valley lying in breathless stillness, its face
stroked by the fall of lingering reluctant snow.

After the first greeting the Herries family stood quietly by the
wall.  Fragments of talk, slow cautious words like the repetition
of some magic recipe, circled the light.

'Hoo ayre ye to-day?  Hey ye hard ony news?' . . .

'Ye say reet, nowt se sartain.  Gud day.  Ayre ye all weel at
heam?' . . .

'Aye, they said she was worth brass. . . .'

'Whya, he's nobbut read about it; what can he knaw?  I sud think if
he minds his awn job it'll be as weel.'

Peel came and asked Francis Herries to sit by him.  His elder girl
took Mary and Deborah.  David found Rendal.

Francis had come with some of the gaiety and happiness of the
preceding night and, as always when he was happy, it seemed to
shine in him.  He was dressed simply to-night in a suit of grey and
silver; although in these last years he had stoutened and broadened
he was still handsome beyond all ordinary men.  His charm, when he
was charming, was so gracious and natural that it won everyone near

From the moment of his entering every eye had been upon him.  To
these people of the valley, although they had talked for months of
his wickedness, cruelty, and the strange mystery that led him to
isolate himself in this loneliness, he was yet at sight something
miraculous and magnificent beyond belief.  He was the Dark Angel of
their secret dreams.

Romantic--but to himself he was not romantic.  As he sat there
beside Peel, he could feel the old devilish struggle beginning in
him.  Partly this was an evening after his heart.  He cared nothing
for class--all the world was his fellow.  He liked to see this
common happiness; he could feel in this little, hot, sweating,
smelly world all the animal satisfaction that had no ill in it.

He would set them all, had he his way, eating, drinking,
fornicating, singing--the whole world singing over its surfeited
belly--and mingled with this a tenderness, a kind of familiar
protection so that he could love these owl faces, these humped
bodies, these spindle legs for their little homely tragedies and

     So go we all
     Down the dark path,
     Alien, to the friendly tomb.

This sense of common luck with the veriest hind was something that
had always separated him from Pomfret, Harcourt and the rest--yes,
and from his own children.

To-night he could feel it to the full as the rushlights scattered
streams of light in the wind and the smell of unwashen bodies,
perspiring chaps, dog's offal, burning wood and cooking meat
gathered in the air, and all the faces turning in the middle of the
room, dilated with the music and the movement--dog faces, horse
faces, pig faces, bird faces--but gathering an extra humanity as
they felt happiness encouraging them and leading them on to

He would jump down and share this with them, the drink and the food
and the tousling the girls.  But he was alone.  He could share
nothing with anyone.  His touch was enough; at the feel of it
everything withdrew.  Within the heart of the burning candle he was
isolated; at its core it was ice.  He was ringed with flame and
could not get out.

He looked at Peel whom he liked, his big body set back, his broad
face spread in laughter: he looked at David whom he loved, moving
into the middle of the room crowded now with faces.  No one was
alone save himself, and he by his own mysterious fault.  He was
well aware by now of how suspicious they were of him.

This suspicion had blown like a subtle poison through the valley.
What had he done to create it?  Been drunk once or twice, kissed a
girl or two, lost his temper on an occasion--nothing definite save
that foolish affair with Alice Press. . . .  She had spoken truly.
Since that day he had never been rid of her.

But he knew well that it was no positive deed on his part that had
separated him.  It was something in his spirit.  They suspected
that battle that was never still in himself, disgust fighting with
longing, lechery with an icy purity, a driving dream with sodden
reality, the devil in him that would never leave him alone, try as
he would to throttle it with self-contempt, irony and the
discipline of his impulses.

Sitting now beside Peel he envied that great healthy body, that
steady mind, that serene soul, and even as he envied knew that this
very thought was separating him, driving him into loneliness and
this bitter isolation.

The door would open and the snow blow through in little impatient
gusts and all the valley would pour in with it.  The room was
crowded now against the wall and in the corners.  The ale was
passing round, and voices were loud and laughter ferocious.  But
everyone behaved in seemly fashion: a dignity, that seemed to
radiate from the grand figure and quiet hospitality of the host
himself, pervaded the place.  Only--as Francis Herries could feel--
he could sniff it in the air--there was a kind of madness behind
the dignity, something that belonged to the witches and old
crippled warlocks, to the naked shapes playing under the stars
above Seatoller, to the broomsticks flying dimly like thin clouds
towards the moon.

Suddenly there was a cry:  'They coom.  They're here.'  It was the
'Play-Jigg.'  This was the drama in verse played by the actors who,
tonight, were passing from Statesman's house to Statesman's house.

Johnny Shoestring ceased his playing, the dancers vanished, the
centre of the room was clear.  Packed against the walls now were
bodies and faces, legs and backs.  There was whispering and
tittering, but quite clearly in the immediate silence could be
heard the hiss of the snow hovering down through the open chimney
on to the fire.

They came forward.  Francis was amused as he saw that the Master of
these Ceremonies was his old friend the pedlar, David's Devil.
Very roguish he was to-night in a cocked purple hat and purple
tights showing his thin, spidery limbs, his face with its crooked
ironic smile, and his black shining eyes.

He introduced his little company, Old Giles, a bent old man with a
long chin, Pinch, a clown, a stout and jolly fellow, a husband and
a wife, and young Go-to-Bed who at once in a high, shrill treble
introduced himself:

     'My father is old and decrepit,
     My mother deceased of late,
     And I am a youth that's respected,
     Possessed of a good estate.'

The old couple did a little dance of joy at this, and then Pinch
the clown came forward and asked young Go-to-Bed if he wanted to
increase his fortune.  Of course young Go-to-Bed was eager, so
Pinch introduced him to Old Giles, who said he would show him how
to make money out of nothing.  This young Go-to-Bed was delighted
to know, so Old Giles told him that he must have his arse kicked a
dozen times by friend Pinch, and then he must put his head in a
bucket of water and then must sit up a night alone in a churchyard:
all these things young Go-to-Bed performed to the infinite delight
of the audience, especially in the churchyard when Pinch, dressed
as a painful ghost, emptied a sack of flour over young Go-to-Bed
and set the dogs on to him.

The 'Jigg' ended in a grand dance and in this the audience soon
joined.  Go-to-Bed, his face white with flour, led off with Mrs.
Peel, and Peel took the Old Lady, and soon all the room was turning
to Johnny Shoestring's music.

Still Francis Herries did not move.  He was alone on the raised
seat near the fire-window.  All his children were dancing; even
Mary now had forgotten her superior airs and breeding and was
smiling at young Curtis, son of a Newlands Statesman.  The pedlar
came across to Francis.

'Good day.'

'Good day,' said Francis.

'You are not dancing, sir.'

'In my own time,' said Francis.

The pedlar stood there smoothing his hands down the sides of his
legs with a look of infinite satisfaction.

'It is very cold up at the valley end,' the pedlar said, 'but the
moonlight warms the air.  Leave this and take a walk with me.'

Herries felt an impulse to go.  The thought of the cold, the black
ridge of the hills, and the sky silver-thickened, the freshness,
the icy air, was fiercely attractive.  His dream--the splendid
horse breasting the dark lake under the icy spears--seemed to
penetrate the very heart of the thickly smelling, heated room.
Close to him the hams and the dried beef swung ever so slightly in
the great chimney.  A country girl mopped her sweating brow.
Beyond the fire-window he fancied that he could hear a cow,
desolate in the dark field, lowing for its calf, but of course
there would be no cow outside at Christmas.  He was about to say
that he would go when the pedlar touched his arm.

'Here are strangers,' he said, pointing with his long white finger.

Francis Herries followed his direction and saw pressed near the
door at the hallan end a man and a woman and a child.  The man was
rough, bony, with long black hair that tumbled on to his shoulders,
the woman white-faced, crouching a little as though she feared a
blow, and pressed against her dress was a very young child.  It was
the child that held Herries' notice.  She could not have been above
seven or eight years of age, her face so white that it might have
been blanched by moonlight.  But it was her hair that was
astonishing.  She was wearing a little peaked man's cap of grey
with a russet feather in it and under this her hair fell almost to
her tiny waist.  Its colour was flame.  Flame.  Francis,
incredulously smiling at his interest, repeated the word.  Flame.
As though her head were on fire.  Flame smouldering, with a sudden
movement of her little shoulders glancing in coloured shadow as
though it were alive.  It sank into darkness as fire does, then
lifted into amber and rolled about her head in smoky sombre red.
She pressed farther back against her mother, and the flame seemed
to creep across the dress, to move, to stir, then to lie there,
idly licking the dull stuff.

Between this fire the little face looked out, the face of a tired
baby, weary, scornful, ironically interested and alone.

'I have never seen such hair,' Herries said, as though to himself.

'Come and burn your hand in it,' said the pedlar.

Herries got up and looked about him.  The brightness of that baby's
hair seemed to have dimmed and hushed the room.  The candlelight
was smoked, the voices, the laughter, the trampling of feet shut
away behind glass.  Herries followed the pedlar across the floor.
As they approached the man frowned and drew his body together
animal fashion.  He was all animal, he smelt animal, looking out
with sharp suspicious eyes from his shaggy black hair.  The woman
did not move, but looked up at Herries.  The pedlar smiled at her:
'Hey, Jane Starr,' he said.

Then the woman spoke to Herries: he was astonished at her voice,
which was soft and musical and without any real accent.

'You have forgot me, sir.'

He smiled down at the child.  'I fear that I have.'

'Once you gave me your coat,' she said softly, staring into his
eyes.  So that was it!  The morning of the day that was to prove so
eventful to him, the morning of the Chinese Fair.  The tang of that
walk came back to him, his happiness, the freshness, the waterfall
clinging like a ladder to the rock, the dead man, the patient

'You were welcome to it,' he said, looking at her for the first
time.  Her face was not comely.  White and weary, but there was
strength and courage in it.

'And this is your child?' he asked.

'My child,' the woman answered.  But the man made no movement, only
stared moodily into the whirling room.  It was strange that her
voice was so soft yet came clearly through all the racket and din
of voices, music and stamping feet.

'Of what age is she?'

'Eight,' the woman answered.

Eight!--and so independent and alone in this jostling cruel world.
He thirty-seven, and yet already there was some kinship between
them. . . .

'What is her name?'

'Mirabell,' and then after a little pause with a quick glance at
the man beside her--'Mirabell Starr.'

Mirabell Starr--so he heard for the first time the name that would
never leave his consciousness again.  He could be very sweet with
children.  He squatted on his hams, his silver sword trailing on
the floor.  He put out his strong hand and took her tiny one.

'Mirabell.  That is a man's name, you know. . . .  Shall we be

Her strange grey eyes, shining with deep lights, regarded him very
gravely.  She sighed, then very indifferently answered:

'If my mother wishes.'

Her voice was low, sweet and distant, a little as though it were
caught in the echo of a shell.  He was charmed with it.  Squatting
a little lower he put out his arm and drew her in to him, pressing
her gently between his knees.  The silver thread on his sleeve
rubbed her neck, but she did not draw back.  Nor did she come to
him of her own will.

'Where do you live, my pretty?'

'I live with my mother.'

'And where is that?'

The woman spoke.

'We are from Ennerdale, sir.'

'Ah, from Ennerdale.'

At last, drawing a little breath as though he foretold the emotion
that it would give him, he put up his hand and stroked her hair: it
seemed that a wave of pleasure passed through his body.  Its
texture was infinitely soft and lay against the back of his hand
like music.

'How come you here?  You should be at home on Christmas night.'

The man spoke for the first time.  'We have no settled place.  I am
a horse-dealer.'  His voice was rough and very ungracious, but it
had no tang of the North.

Herries caught the child closer.  Her head was almost against his
breast, and it was as though his heart leapt towards it to greet
it.  He felt in his pocket and found a charm, a negro's head in
gold with ruby eyes--it was a charm against the ague.

'Will you take this from me--a Christmas gift?' he asked.

For a moment, to steady herself, she laid one tiny hand on his
thigh while with the other she took the little negro.  A thrill of
happiness ran through him.  She looked at the charm very gravely.

''Tis against the ague,' he told her.  'You will not catch it an
you keep this with you.'

She looked up at her mother, then at the man.

'It is very pretty,' she said.  'I thank you.'  But although her
expression was that of a grown woman her fingers tightened round it
as a baby's would.

He kissed her forehead, then straightened himself to his full

'I wish you good day,' he said, bowing to the woman very slightly,
then turned and walked into the room.  He turned confusedly like a
man in a dream.  For a while he could not see the room clearly.
Strange coincidence!  That this should be the woman whom carelessly
that morning he had for a moment protected!  What had been her
history?  Who was the dead man, who now this present animal, this
horse-dealer, horse-thief he did not doubt?  She did not look a
woman who would pass lightly from man to man--but what did she at
all in that company?  Mirabell . . . Mirabell. . . .  So the child
was called.  Poor little misery, already bearing in her eyes the
knowledge of hardship, cruelty, aloneness.  What a life must she
have with such a man and his company!  Almost he was tempted to
turn aside, go back and make some mad demand for the child's
protection.  A nice affair--to be mixed in such a throng!  As
though there were not already scandal enough.  But he looked back
nevertheless.  There was no sign of them.  They were hidden by the
dancers.  The Christmas Feast was at its height.

This was a scene from Breughel.  The trestle-tables were piled with
food, pies and puddings, hams and sides of beef.  The drink was for
the most part ale, but there was creeping into the valley now that
new destroying devil of the English countryside, the demon gin.
There were signs of it here to-night--men were pressing the girls
now, their faces flushed, their hands fumbling for breast and side.
The women were giggling, the dogs snapping at food and legs and one
another.  An old man with long white hair, thin as a scarecrow, was
dancing very solemnly alone in the middle of the floor, twisting
his body into corkscrew shapes.  At a table near the chimney a
group of old people were playing at cards.  But wildness was coming
in, coming in from the caverns of the hill, and the high, cold
spaces round Sprinkling Tarn and the lonely passes above the
listening valleys.  It was Christ's Day no longer.  He had been
turned out when the wind had changed, and all the doors and
shutters of the house had rattled their shoulders at His going.

Peel himself felt perhaps that his hand was losing its hold on the
scene.  And perhaps he did not care.  He was a man of his time, and
that was a rough time, a cruel and a coarse.  They had a small,
wild, starving dog, strayed in from the valley, and they had tied
him to the leg of a table, and were holding meat just beyond his
nose, while he yelped in his agony of hunger, and his little fierce
protesting eyes darted wildly about the room.

Up in the half-darkness of the hallan one of the shepherds was
stripping to a whispering group of men and girls to show his
tattooed body, made when he was in the Indies as a boy, marvellous,
they say, a whole love-story on his legs and back.  Although the
night was bitter, couples twined closely together wandered out of
the house up the road, kissing to the eternal murmur of the running

Then the house-door burst wide and a strange crew broke into the
room.  They came shouting, singing and very drunk.  Their shoulders
were powdered with snow, and their frosty breath blew in clouds
about them.  This was a party that had ridden over from Keswick and
Portinscale and Grange, had found their way under the moon to
Rosthwaite, and now, drinking at every stage, were turning back
again (an they were sober enough to ride) to Keswick.  Here was the
Lord of Misrule and his followers, a young fellow with very flushed
face, a crown awry on his crooked wig, his clothes of purple satin
and gold, carried on the shoulders of four half-naked men blacked
like Indians and followed by a motley baggage-heap dressed
fantastically as jesters, Chinamen and clowns.  There was a Hobby-
horse and old Father Neptune with his trident.  They burst the
doors, then paused to arrange their procession.  The naked Indians
threw off their cloaks in which they had been wrapped against the
cold, caught up their young Lord of Misrule and shouldered him, and
so marched up the room, followed by the Jester with his bauble, a
lady with a flaxen wig and very naked bosom, Neptune and a
posturing, shouting throng.

The natives of the valley drew back against the wall.  Here were
foreigners from the town, and though their intrusion was no new
thing at a Christmas time, yet it boded no good.  It had ended
before in a bloody riot and so might do again.  Francis had been
looking for his children, and finding them had bidden David take
his sisters home, then, if he would, return.  So he was once again
alone, a great stillness in his heart in the midst of the riot,
once or twice looking to see whether he could catch sight of the
child and her mother: it seemed that they were gone.

Watching this new invasion he found that he recognised three at
least of the company, two from Keswick.  The Lord of Misrule
himself was young Cuthbertson, son of a wealthy merchant; one of
the black men young Fawcett, a Squire's eldest boy; and the Jester
himself with his cap and bells Osbaldistone from Threapthwaite,
near Whitehaven.  Young Osbaldistone was often at Keswick, and
Herries had been with him at cards and cock-fighting.  There was no
love between them.  Herries had won his money, which the young fool
could ill afford to lose, and Herries had kissed a girl that
Osbaldistone had also been pursuing.

At the sight of him a spasm of revolt and disgust caught his heart.
He had drunk nothing: he had been moved to-night by the courteous
friendliness of Peel, by the happy simplicity of the earlier part
of the evening, and, at this last, by his meeting with the child.
Apart and reserved as he seemed standing there alone, yet his heart
had been filled with kindliness and an almost childlike desire to
be friends with the world.

At the sight of this rabble he was tempted to slip away and find
his bed.  Had he gone, the whole course of his life would have been
other.  Nevertheless our lives are dictated by character, not by
chance.  Some foolish pride kept him.  He fancied that from the
corner by the fire-window the pedlar sardonically watched him.  It
was true that many eyes were on him, as they had been all the
evening; so, because he had some conceit and felt a challenge in
the air, he stayed.

Events followed then with dreamlike swiftness.  Afterwards if he
ever looked back to this night it seemed to him that he had from
the very first been trapped.  He could not have escaped; he did not
pity himself for this (in all his life-history from the first page
to the last there was no self-pity), but he did ask himself whether
he could have avoided the event: he could not.

The procession settled itself about its Lord: drink was brought:
there was much sham ceremony: subjects knelt and sentences were
passed; the lady in cloth of gold with the naked bosom was
proclaimed Queen.  The peasants stood around, mouths agape, the
little wild dog, who had been forgotten, yelped dismally, then
broke his rope, crawled to a corner where he feasted ravenously.
Everyone was at ease again.  Dancing took the floor.  Figures,
fantastic, painted in orange and scarlet and purple, laughing,
singing, kissing, whirled and turned; some fell upon the floor and
lay there.  Still in the farther corner the old people, like
characters painted on the wall, played gravely their cards.

Young Osbaldistone, his cap awry, the laced waistcoat unbuttoned,
pursued a girl and encountered Herries.  He stopped short.

Herries gravely bowed.  Osbaldistone looked.  The drink cleared
from his eyes.  He straightened himself.  He was a cold-tempered,
severe lad in his natural life, debauched enough but ready at any
moment to clear debauchery from his system.  He stood back fumbling
the hilt of his sword.

'Mr. Francis Herries.'

'Mr. Richard Osbaldistone.'

He yet stuttered a little.  The drink was not all cleared.  'Dick
to my friends,' then added softly, 'but not to you, Mr. Herries.'

No one heard him.  Herries frowned.  He did not want a quarrel with
the boy here, not to-night, Christmas night, and in Peel's house.
He bowed.

'I wish you good evening,' he said and turned.

Osbaldistone touched his shoulder.  Herries, turning back, was
amazed at the hatred that formed and edged the other's face like a
mask.  To hate him like that!  And for what?  For nothing--a loss
at cards, a girl's kiss.  No--for what he himself in his very
spirit was.  And at the consciousness of that his heart sank and
his anger grew.

'You will not wish me good evening,' Osbaldistone said.  'I will
have no good evening from you.  Since our meeting of last week I
have been determined on a word with you.  You are a cheat, Mr.
Herries, a liar and--it may be--a coward.  For the last we will

Then he raised his hand and struck Herries' cheek.  Miraculously
this, too, no one saw.  It gave the dreaminess of this strange hour
an added colour--the shrill, discordant music of the violin, the
thick steaming air, the great chimney with its smoky fire, the
figures confused in colour, unreal in chin and eye and limb, the
movement striving, it seemed, to make significant pattern--and yet
Herries quite alone in a frozen place with this boy who hated him.

But no man had ever struck him and had no answer.  He frowned
sternly on young Osbaldistone, who was breathing now fiercely as
though driven by some terrific emotion.

'Not here,' he said quietly.  'There is a green behind the house.
The moon is bright.  I will join you there in an instant.  But take
care; we must go separately.  My host to-night is my friend.'

At once, again as in a dream, young Osbaldistone had disappeared.
Herries looked about him.  Oh! how desperately he did not wish this
to happen!  It was from no fear for himself.  But he seemed to be
haunted to-night by the past; something was pulling him back into
that other life that he had abandoned; something would not let him

But he must find a second.  It must be, if possible, someone not
from Keswick.  The less that this was known. . . .  He turned
towards the door and saw the pedlar standing against the wall,
smiling ironically and stroking his thighs with his hands.

'You can do me a service,' Herries said.  The pedlar followed him
out.  The moon was full.  No snow was falling.

Against the green behind the house everything was marked as though
it had been cut from black paper, the ridge of hill, the roof-line,
the thick wall of jagged stones.

Osbaldistone was waiting there and Fawcett, a stout, plump youth,
absurd with his blackened face and thick cloak heavily furred.  He
came to Herries.

'For God's sake, Mr. Herries, this must be avoided. . . .'  His
teeth were chattering.

'Too damned cold for talk,' said Osbaldistone.

They spoke in whispers.

'If Mr. Osbaldistone will apologise for his insult,' said Herries.

'I will not,' said Osbaldistone.

They faced one another: every detail in the scene was clear under
the moon.  It was indeed bitterly cold.  The frost seemed to creep
upon the flat stones that lay about the field.  Herries was aware
of the tiniest details and would remember them all his days.  A
snail-track glittered in crystal on the farm wall behind him; a
little wind ran over the grass, fluttering the light snow that lay
loosely on the ground, and on the path beyond the field he could
see the moonlight shine on the ice that the cold was forming on the
little pools.

They advanced.  At once he knew that Osbaldistone was no swordsman--
and a moment later Osbaldistone knew it too.  Again the thought
tapped Herries' heart:  'How he must hate me to run this crazy
risk!' and again 'Why?'  In another moment or two he was aware of
the sword's instinct, something much more deadly and determined
than his own.  He could never strike another's weapon with his and
not feel that separate aliveness in his blade, as though it said:
'You have called me out.  You have liberated me.  Now I am my own
master.'  And now he was very curiously aware that he must restrain
this creature, use all his force and power, otherwise the boy would
be hurt.  But as they parried and struck and parried again a warmth
of companionship with his sword swelled in his throat as though it
had said to him:  'Come.  We are comrades now.  We march together.
You wouldn't desert me when you have brought me so far.'

His pride in his accomplishment grew in him.  His body grew warm,
taut, eager.  He forgot his opponent, felt only the moon shining
above that cold field, the splendid panoply of stars exulting in
his skill.

He had the boy utterly at his mercy, and, at the same moment, the
boy's face swung down to him as though it had been lowered from a
height.  He gazed into it and saw terror there, the certain
expectation of instant death.

Death.  Yes, one more link in the ridiculous binding chain.  This
time at least he would be master of his fortune.

He lowered his blade and stepped back.  An instant later
Osbaldistone's sword had carved his right cheek in two, a deep
riven cut from temple to chin.

His face was flooded with blood.  Dropping his sword, the field
whirring about his ears like a top, he sank to his knee.

He heard young Fawcett cry 'Enough . . .' and a word about honour,
then the frosted stones leapt up and hit him into darkness.  But
before he sank he felt the pedlar's hand on his arm.


Deborah found her way one March afternoon through Stonethwaite
Valley home.

She had been as far as the Stake Pass, turned back, stayed where
the waterfall tumbles over the rocks before the Grasmere turning,
looked up at the quiet hills lying against the quiet sky, then down
again to the tumbling stream that spread fanwise over the white
stones shining in the sun under the water.

Spring was so late here that hardly yet were there signs of it, but
Deborah saw every bud and smiled at every pushing green.  The
spirit of spring was in the faint rain-washed blue of the sky, the
purple shadow that hung intangibly about the branches and the pale
primrose sunlight that fell in white patterns on rock and stone.
The air was cold and snow streaked even the lowest hills.

She was a very slight and lonely child as she walked over the green
turf that here in this valley was like the ancient lawns of noble
families, so smooth it was and deep.  She would soon be fifteen,
but children in those years were almost women at fifteen.  And she
had had much to make her mature.  Since her mother had fallen so
ill this Christmas, since Mary had grown so proud and was so often
with her cousins in Keswick, all the duties of the house had fallen
on to Deborah.  She was hurrying now for fear of what might have
happened while she was away.  All last night she had sat with her
mother, fighting a thousand terrors, her mother's strange ceaseless
talk, the house that was never still, the calling of the owls, but
worst of all the anticipated presence of old Mrs. Wilson the witch.
Since her mother was ill Mrs. Wilson had been for ever appearing,
now here, now there.  She spoke little, but at first had offered
again and again her remedies.  Deborah could hear her now in
her odd, croaking voice pressing her herbs, her spells, her
incantations.  Deb had from the very first been terrified by the
old woman, but against her will she had been forced to realise that
there was something pathetic and something kind in the old wrinkled
face, the little eyes almost hidden by the brown lids, but now
anxious and beseeching like an animal's.  The old snuff-nosed,
wrinkled-faced Doctor Absom, their only resource, once a fine
doctor in Carlisle but reduced by liquor to a peddling house-to-
house livelihood, had soon stopped her solicitings.  He had
threatened her in so many words with the gaol for a witch.  She
had not spoken again after that, but she was always, night and
day, hovering there.  It seemed, so her son said, that she had
formed some affection for Margaret Herries.  He said, almost
apologetically, that he had never known her take to anyone before
as she took to Mistress Herries; and Deborah, walking now in her
cold green valley, seemed still to be haunted by her presence, and,
against her fear, something forced her to wonder whether after all
Mrs. Wilson's magic might not be of more value than the old
doctor's dirty ministrations, he never sober, stinking of snuff,
and with bleeding ever his principal remedy.

Poor Margaret!  She had been bled enough.  There was no more blood
left in her.  She was dying.  Nothing could save her.

The stroke that had slashed her husband's face had struck her down.
He had made nothing of it.  His face was bound.  He had called it a
scratch, but from the first instant she had seen deeper than this,
had known that here was something predestined.

Child though she was, Deborah had marvellously understood her
mother's longing.  She was perhaps the only living soul in the
world to understand what her mother's love for her father was, how
for years she had been praying the God in whom she believed to give
her opportunity to show that love without foolishness.  Now it
might be that the moment had come, and she was too weak to offer
it.  Not that Herries gave her opportunity: he would have no pity,
no tenderness, no allusion to the event.  No one spoke to him of
it.  Everyone pretended that nothing had occurred.

But Deborah knew how her mother ached over him as though he were a
child bullied at school and the agony that it was to her, far
surpassing her bodily pain, that she could say nothing.  She rose
to great heights of character in these last days.

But for Deborah life had never yet been so threatening.  How would
it be when her mother was gone and she alone with her father?
Again and again she tried to beat down her fear of him, but it
seemed to be something in her very veins.  There was David.  Had
there not been David she might have turned and run back, over the
Stake Pass to Langdale and Grasmere, wandered the world and never
returned.  So long as David was there she could endure any test,
but would he always be there?  Anyone as wonderful as he must be
caught into the outside world.  They would call for, shout for him!
And then . . . as the light fell and she thought of the darkening
house, her father with the fresh purple scar that ran from temple
to mouth, catching up one corner of his lip, of her mother's room,
of Mrs. Wilson, her white cap, the black stick on which she leaned,
she stayed for a moment by the wall of the field and the little
chapel looking back to Glaramara, her hand at her throat, her knees

The thought of David reassured her and she smiled.  Where he was no
harm could come.

At the turning in of the grassy court two figures made her pause--
two men on horseback.  In the fading afternoon light she could not
at first tell who they were, then, realising, amazement stayed her:
they were her uncle Pomfret and her cousin Raiseley.

They had but now arrived, for they got from their horses as she
came to them (she was pleased indeed to see how clumsy Cousin
Raiseley was as he climbed down).  Uncle Pomfret greeted her with a
confusion of heartiness and embarrassment, which showed that he was
in no way at ease over his visit.  She curtsied and he kissed her,
swimming her in an odour of ale and snuff.  He was becoming a
mountain of flesh.  His belly swung before him.  Cousin Raiseley,
who was pallid and thin as his father was purple and corpulent,
bowed to her gravely.  She hated her cousin Raiseley because David
did.  'Hey, little lass . . .' (her uncle addressed her as though
she were a favourite hound) 'here's your old uncle come all the way
through the muck to cheer your poor mother up.'  He threw a
cautious look around him.  'And your father . . . is he about?'
She replied quietly.  She did not dislike her uncle.  There was
something kindly and simple about him.  She thought:  'He hates
coming. . . .  It's his good-nature.'

David came out to them, and Deborah flushed with pride as she saw
his splendid strength beside his pale shambly-kneed cousin.
Benjamin was called to care for the horses, and they all went into
the house.  What deep shame Deborah felt as they climbed the
stairs!  She knew Raiseley would be seeing everything, sniffing the
farm-smells, the dung and the cesspool, hearing the trickling of
water, catching the gleam of the damp on the walls, and, as they
came into the upper hall, marking down the holes in the furniture,
the bareness of the rafters, the tapestry that was never still
against the panelling.  She hated Raiseley the more because her
home was shabby.

In the hall now there were David and Mary.  It was Mary, of course,
who at once commanded the scene.  She flung her arms around her
uncle's short, thick neck and kissed his ill-shaven chin, then with
a smiling demureness that was beautiful to witness offered her
cheek for Raiseley to kiss, which he did with a very pleasant

Uncle Pomfret explained with a great many oaths and confused
sentences that he and their Aunt Jannice had been distressed indeed
to hear of the grave illness of poor Margaret and that Aunt Jannice
had sent with him some cures and recipes.

For himself, would it be possible for him to see her?

The room was dark.  The evening glow penetrated the little windows
very thinly.  Suddenly a figure bearing high two lighted
candlesticks appeared on the staircase.  It was Francis, his face
quivering in the blown flame of the candles.  He seemed very tall
in that semi-light, in a long, purple dressing-gown, and the scar
was leaping on his face.

It might be that Pomfret had not expected that: he stared, his
thick legs wide planted, his chin raised.  He said afterwards to
his wife:  ''Twas no man standing there.  Someone raised from the
dead.  The cut lined on his cheek.'

Francis said no word, but came slowly down.  Then he placed the
candlesticks on the table and holding out his hand said quietly:
'How are you, brother?'

Pomfret began a tumbled and confused explanation, but in a whisper
as though he were in church there; finding the whisper arduous,
broke into a kind of congested roar, then sank to a whisper again.

Francis nodded his head.

'That was kindly thought . . . Margaret would wish to see you.  She
is awake--but she is sadly weak.'

He picked up the candles and led the way upstairs again.  Pomfret,
stepping with his big feet as though on eggs, followed him.

The children, left alone together, were embarrassed.  Even Mary,
conscious perhaps that the eyes of her brother and sister were upon
her, had very little to say.  At last Raiseley muttered something
about going to see after the horses.  He started down the stairs,
and David stoutly marched after him.  In the dusk, wrapped in the
cold air, the two stood stiffly side by side.  At last Raiseley,
patronage in every word that he uttered, said:

''Tis isolated here . . . and muck at every step.'

David, anger throbbing in his throat, answered:

'It is no place for soft bodies.'

'Nor for active minds,' Raiseley answered.

'Keswick,' David said with a scornful laugh, 'is scarcely the
Athens of the world.'  (He thought this a fine phrase and told Deb
of it afterwards.)

Raiseley sniffed.  He had a maddening habit in this as though he
suffered from a perpetual cold.

'I wonder, cousin,' he said, 'that you can endure the mud and rain
and nothing but yokels for company.  But maybe it suits you.'

'It does,' David answered.  'Better than by your looks Keswick

Raiseley laughed.  'Keswick is no abiding-place.  I shall be in
London in a six-months.'

'Well,' said David, 'for me you can keep your London.  There is air
here and space, horses to ride and hills to climb.  There is no
finer spot in England.'

'I can understand that you would find it so,' Raiseley answered.

The poor white worm--David thought--one crack with the singlestick
and he'd go over.  One push with the thumb and down he'd be!  He
hated him with every pulse in his body, but at the heart of the
hate there was a sort of wistfulness.  He would be clever,
Raiseley, and getting a fine education.  Already he would know so
many things that David would never know.

The darkness fell.  Benjamin held a flare.  The horses clamped with
their hoofs on the grassy stones.  The two boys stood without
speaking, hating one another.  Then the two men came out.  They
were very quiet.  Margaret on her death-bed had brought them closer
together than they had ever been or would be.  Pomfret's simple
heart was deeply touched.

'Poor soul,' he said.  'Poor soul . . .'

'She is a woman of great courage,' Francis said.

'Poor Margaret,' their voices echoed on the night air.  Pomfret and
his son climbed on to their horses.

'That was kindly of you, brother,' Francis said, and held for a
moment Pomfret's hand.

'Come and visit us.  There is a bed for thee,' Pomfret answered,
bent down and kissed his brother's cheek.  Then they rode away,
their horses stumbling over the dark track.

Francis went back into the house.  From these few whispered words
both children had realised that their mother was indeed dying.
They stood there close together in the dark courtyard, the wind
that had suddenly risen whistling about their heads.  Deborah began
to cry.  She clung to David, who put his arm around her, holding
her very close.  She was a little hysterical with lack of sleep,
too incessant labour, fear of the future.

'Oh, David, I'm frightened.  Mother will die and you will go into
the world and I shall be left here with father. . . .  I don't want
to be left. . . .  I don't want to be left.  'Tis cruel, this
valley, when you are alone in it, and there are spirits in the
house.  The house hates us.  There has been no luck for us since we
came to it, and I'm weary of the mice and the holes and the
shabbiness that will not be cleaned. . . .  Oh, David, don't leave
me here alone. . . .  Don't leave me!'

She sobbed on his breast and he comforted her.  'Deb, little Deb.
There's no fear.  I'll not leave you.  Mother will be happier gone.
She was never rightly settled here and the rain and wind destroyed
her.  Poor mother.  She will be warm again and comforted if there's
a heaven as they say, and if there's none she'll not be aware of
it.  But, Deborah, you must not fear father.  He's worst with
anyone who fears him.

'He will love you an you go to him bravely.  He has himself a
shyness of spirit.  See how happy the three of us will be together--
and you are the bravest of us all.  The house is well enough.  I'd
have it a thousand times before that popinjay place of Uncle
Pomfret's in Keswick.

'And I'll not leave you.  I'll never leave you.  You are the only
woman in all the world I love, Deb, save our mother.'

Deborah smiled through her tears.

'There'll be a woman for you one day: every woman who sees you must
love you.'

'Ah, but it takes two for that,' David answered laughing.  'There
was a girl once up by Seathwaite hit my horse with her stick.  Do
you know, Deb, it was but a moment and I've never seen her since,
but she had a face like a laughing rose. . . .  For the rest they
are all alike.  I warrant marriage is a false tale.  I would be
free, and who is free with a wife?'

Deborah sighed.

'I shall be left one day. . . .  'Tis so silly, but although I'm
fourteen years I'm frightened of the dark. . . .  The true dark
when there are only owls and mice.  And Mistress Wilson.  David, is
she truly a witch?'  She dropped her voice to a low whisper.

David tightened his arm round her.  'I think she's a witch,' he
whispered back.  'She never sleeps.  She has a fire with blue
flame.  She makes dolls of wax.  I've seen one with a needle
through.  But she cannot touch thee, Deb. . . .  Christ is at the
back of thee, and all the holy angels.'

'Maybe,' Deborah answered, shivering against his breast, 'she is a
good witch.  I'm sure she means no ill to our mother.  Maybe she
would have cured her.'

But David shook his head.  'Better our mother die than be cured of
the Devil,' he answered.  Then he folded his little sister yet more
closely in his arms and kissed her.

'I will swear an oath, here in this place, never to leave you,
Deborah.  An I marry, you come also.  And if I do not marry, you
shall ever keep house for me and father.  Now listen, little
sister, I will swear.  By Christ and His holy angels I, David Scott
Herries, will never, while breath is in my body, leave thee,
Deborah Herries--unless,' he hurriedly added, 'there is hunting on
the hills or travelling to see new countries--an adventure, you
understand.  You would not hold me from that.'

'I would not hold you from anything,' Deborah answered, standing on
tiptoe to kiss him.  'I am not that sort of selfish woman.  I know
that you will have a grand life, David, of adventure and enterprise,
and do you think I would hold you back?  I love you too well.'

She was quite happy now, and, their arms around one another, they
went into the house.

Francis Herries had gone to his wife's room.  He sat there beside
the big bed, very patient, staring into the round light of the two
candles.  Margaret lay, her eyes closed, breathing stertorously.
There were beads of sweat on her brow, and her two hands, tightly
clenched, lay on the coverlet.  Little Absom had gone for a meal
but would return.  It might well be that Margaret would die before
he came back, but it did not matter; he could do nothing.

Herries sat there without moving, looking at his wife.  He had
never loved Margaret: he did not love her now nor did he let
sentiment chafe him, but, as he watched her, he was sorry that her
life had been spent with a man whom she could not understand.

It was this lack of comprehension that affected him most deeply as
he sat there.  She had loved him, but had not understood him at
all.  He had not loved her, but had understood her only too well.

All human relationships seemed to him miserable things as he sat
there--all false, all betraying.  Well, for himself, it did not
matter.  On the Christmas night at the moment when young
Osbaldistone had slashed his cheek, he had finished with human
beings.  As he felt the blood gush over his face he had, at that
instant, stepped aside from all his fellows.  He had been coming to
that point through many months.  Now the division was made.

In the weeks that had followed, he had nursed his cut with a quiet
sense of completion.  He knew that he would be marked for life and
terribly, that this would be the first thought that all men would
have, the first thing that they would see.

He could look back now and understand that for years he had been
slowly separating himself from his fellow-men.  His fault or
theirs, what mattered it?  Their fault because he had a dream that
could not be fulfilled, or his because he was ever putting himself
wrong with them by loss of temper or arrogance or other passion?
So he was done with them.  Even poor Margaret was leaving him.
Only David remained.  David he could not separate himself from, but
he was sure that the hour would come when David too would go.  But
that would be for David to recognise.

And instead of human beings, he would embrace this valley, this
soil, this house itself.  He had plans that he would get some land
from Peel, that he would sow corn, grow trees perhaps, have cattle.
He would work with his own hands here.  All day and every day
during those last weeks he had, when he had not been at Margaret's
side, been digging and cutting wood, mending holes, carrying water,
Ben, Wilson, David, assisting, but going and coming, whereas he
stayed, sweat pouring from him, his nails grimed with dirt, his
face raised to Glaramara, then bent again to the ground.  And it
seemed to him that the soil came and built itself about his heart.
He was earthed in: the smell and the tang and the grit of it were
in his eyes and his nostrils.  He was growing his own hair.  Soon
it would be long about his brows.  His heavy boots were caked with
mud, and when he straightened himself this fresh, sharp ache in his
back called out to him with a friendly voice.

Margaret stirred.  Her hands rose and fell with a little flutter as
he had so often seen them do, and a rush of memory swept over him.
How badly he had treated her, and how she had asked to be badly
treated!  What absurd ironic fate had driven them together?  Why
was life thus, so that you were caught of your own good intentions
and held in a trap to which there was no purpose?  He had meant to
do her kindness and had done her nothing but ill: but was not that
indeed the whole motto of his life?

He could think of so many occasions when he had returned from some
ride or visit meaning so many courtesies to her, and she, in the
very first word, had roused his ironic irritation.  And how poor
was he that, knowing her love for him and that she was stupid and
could not help herself, he had not been kinder to her, more
indulgent!  His sins had been frightful, thrusting his mistresses
under her very nose, coming back drunk to her and forcing her
against her will, until in the last matter of Alice Press he had
been most evil of all.  For all this he must pay, and when the day
came for payment he was not to squeal about injustice.

He thought then of her many, many kindnesses and of her great
patience, but the thought of her patience only again exasperated
him.  Why had she been so patient?  It would have been better had
she been rash with him sometimes and called him what he was.  And
so, as most men do who have ill-treated their wives, he came to an
odd mixture of feelings, of shame and irritation, of self-blame and
wonder that women could be so persistently provoking.  At least he
was glad that now she suffered no pain.

She stirred and woke.  She looked about her without raising her
head from the pillow.  Then she saw him and smiled, and then, as
she had done on a thousand other occasions, checked her smile lest
he should think it foolish.

'What hour is it, Francis?' she asked him in a thin, very distant

'Six of the clock,' he said, bending forward and taking her hand.
That pleased her and she smiled again.

'My head is very clear . . . I have had strange dreams.  I would
speak to David.  May I?'

He nodded.  That 'May I?' touched him deeply.  In the first year of
their marriage when she had been a young girl and first afraid of
him, she had said about this or that little pleasure and
excitement, 'May I?' and often enough he had answered:  'No, you
may not.'

Now he nodded and went from the room to fetch his son.

He sent David in.  The boy came and stood by the bed, his breadth
blocking the window.  Then a terrible pity and tenderness for his
mother, self-reproach for himself, and a consciousness of the
imminence of death wrung his heart.  He dropped on his knees, put
out his great brown hands and took her thin white ones.  He seemed
for the first time in his life now to realise her.  There had
always been somebody or something else standing in his view of her.
He had caught from early babyhood something of his father's idea of
her.  Now, when it was too late, she seemed to stand before him as
she really was, going on this journey all alone with no one to help
her.  The room was so dark that it was only by the candlelight that
he saw her face, and in that flickering gleam she was not foolish
any more--she had courage and dignity, and these things all her
life she had never seemed to him to have before.

She put up her hand and stroked his hair.  Her voice was faint and
he had to lean nearer to her to catch her words.  Her arm fell
about his neck.

'Davy, I've not been a wise mother to you . . . I've not been a
wise woman, but I have loved you with all my heart.'

'I know you have, mother,' he answered.

'I want you to promise me . . . never to leave your father.'

'I will never leave my father.'

'It is strange,' she looked at him rather timidly, 'that love does
not bring understanding.  I have loved Francis so much but have
never known the way to be easy with him.'  She paused between the
sentences, and David heard the wind tugging at the leaded panes,
and in some way the little sound, as of a friendly companion, was
comforting and understanding.

'It is too late now for me not to fear your father.  Oh, Davy, how
have I said again and again, "Now you must not mind him," but I
have always minded him and the sight of him has made my heart beat
and driven every word from my head.  I know so well why he should
be irritated with me.  How should I not know, being so irritated
with myself?  But that is all over . . . past . . . away . . .'
She stopped, lay back, closed her eyes.  David placed his arm
around her and held her close to him.  He could feel the sweat of
her body beneath the nightdress.  'I meant to make him proud of me
and I have not.  I meant that he should continue in love with me
and he was not.  I meant many things and have not wrought them,
but--' and here her voice grew stronger and she seemed to wake to
new life, 'I have given birth to a fine son who will be heard of
in the world.  Oh, I am proud of you, Davy, my darling, my darling.'

He held her closer, moved to his very soul, because in all these
years she had never told him how she loved him.

'And you are strong and grand and fearless.  You will be a man
among men so that they look up to you and come to you.  So, Davy,
my darling, you must never leave your father, who is alone and will
be more alone as the years go.'  She raised herself a little on
David's arm.

'Breed sons, my David.  Great, strong-limbed men like yourself.
Davy, Davy . . .'  Her hand clutched his sleeve.  'I am no Herries,
but I have borne a son to the Herries.  Though they have mocked me,
in my womb was carried the finest of them all, and from your seed,
David, all the grand Herries shall come.'  She sank back and the
strangest elfin smile came to her lips.  'Your aunt and your uncle
have bred niddering children, but two hundred years hence there
shall be Herries who shall know that it was I, Margaret Herries,
who gave suck to the man of them all. . . .  Your children,
Davy. . . .  You must have men children to carry the Herries name
farther . . . farther . . . farther . . .'  She seemed exhausted.
She lay back on the pillow and he bent and stroked her forehead.
'Wrong thoughts, Davy,' she whispered, 'for a dying woman, but they
have struck your father in the face and your sons must revenge . . .
I have loved him so . . . even now to have his cheek against mine,
his poor wounded cheek.'

'Shall I call him, mother?' David whispered.

'Nay.'  She smiled again.  'He would not know what to do or say.
He was ever awkward in a scene.  Like a child . . . I would have
been mother to him rather than wife, but he would not allow me.
Dear Francis . . . Francis, dear . . .'

Then she motioned him to raise her up.  Her face was against his.
She kissed him.  Her lips were damp with sweat.

'Is it not odd that I who have been afraid all my life should not
now be afraid?  Our good Lord understandeth my awkwardness.  His
arms are around me. . . .  To die is simpler than to live.

He laid her down again.  Her hand closed with exceeding tightness
about his.

'Dear Francis. . . .  Call him, Davy . . . I am dying.'

Gently he unloosed his hand, went to the door and called softly:
'Father, father.'

Francis came in, and kneeling by the bed put his arms round her and
held her as her spirit passed.

Her last word uttered against his cheek:  'Francis, dear.'





Maria Herries died on the morning of February 14, 1745, thus
missing by exactly four months the attainment of her hundredth

This lamentable failure afforded great grief and a sense of
affronted egotism to the whole of the Herries family.  Bad news
flies apace, and in a surprisingly short time the event was known
to, and greatly bewailed by, the children and grandchildren of
Robert Herries in Kensington, the family of Maurice in Portsmouth,
of Humphrey at Seddon, and the Golds (only far relations-in-law,
but nevertheless of a very definite Herries consciousness) in

They all united in blaming Pomfret and Jannice for this disaster,
and indeed very rightly, for who was to blame if they were not?
Having kept the old lady alive so long, the least for them to do
was to keep her alive that little bit longer.  Moreover, it was
pleasant to blame Pomfret and Jannice, who had made money in a very
sudden and vulgar manner, in a fashion that was not the Herries
manner: Herries always inherited, or if they worked, did so slowly
and cautiously and with an air of indifference.

Wealth meant little in the Herries blood: they had not at all like
certain other famous English families the sense of property.  They
were indeed quite above and outside this sense, because to be
Herries was enough and, rich or poor, you were of an equal and
exceptional importance.  No, the Herries pride (of which there was
always God's plenty) was based on two magnificent foundations:
England and Common Sense.  When you said English you said Herries,
and when you said Herries you said No Nonsense.  In this lies any
interest that there may be in a study of Herries' family history--
that there was something in the Herries blood demanding that their
castle of common sense should be persistently attacked, and almost
always from within.  Again and again these attacks occur, and with
every fresh battle new history is made.  'I am a sensible man,'
chanted the first Herries, striding across the naked body of his
enemy, Romance or Illusion--and so ever since have his stalwart
descendants chanted.

'The man's a fool.'  'The woman's an ass.'  'I can't think what
he's after.'  'A madman.'  'A lunatic'  'A dirty dog.'  'Traitor to
his country.'  'An artist.'  'A ne'er-do-well.'  'Fantasy.'
'Imagination.'  'An atheist'--such and so have ever been the words
and phrases of contempt in the mouths of following generations of

And rightly so.  For just as Common Sense has always served them
soundly and well in all their history, so have Imagination,
Originality, the hopeless pursuit of the shining star, led them to
ruin and disaster, public scandal and disgrace.  They have learnt
to dread and with justice the dreamer; he has ever haunted the
sleep of right-minded Herries men and women.

This Common Sense, on the other hand, has been with them no
unstudied art.  They have penetrated every nook and cranny of this
temple, have studied with hundreds of years of patient learning the
shifting features of the God.

At the moment of birth young Herries know precisely the sensible
thing to do, how to watch and wait, to avoid all eccentricity, to
embrace only those things and persons that are of good report and
general repute, to believe only in what they see, to handle only
what they can in reality touch, to give their blessing to all that
is normal, firmly traditional, safely found.  Within the world of
common sense they are kindly, generous and open-hearted: let them
for a moment stray into that howling wilderness of stars and
mandrakes and they are ferocious and bloodthirsty: alarm partly
makes them so, the knowledge given to them by history that they are
a family especially susceptible to attacks of the dreamer's
incongruity, the rebel's immorality.  They go, therefore, armed to
the teeth: divided as they sometimes are (being yet human) among
themselves, they unite instantly at the call of one of their
members:  ''Ware Wolf!'  They have made England what it is: they
are rightly proud of their magnificent achievement.

But, it must be repeated, their principal interest to the observer
of them is that they have, at their heart, the poison of their
qualities and intentions.  Every generation, it seems, is condemned
to this warfare against its own home-born traitors, and from this
warfare comes always a stouter, more determined resolve.

The death of Maria Herries, so lamentably previous, offered a fine
example of their common sense in action.  One thing that had never
been understood by them was that Herries men must die so soon.  It
was natural for the majority, who waste their days in dreams, in
pursuit of the thing that is not, in longing for what does not
exist, to wear themselves untimely away, their proper punishment
and condemnation.  But for Herries, who never ran after a vain
thing nor stared at the moon, life should be indefinitely extended,
and because they believed in a just God (the God of the
contemporary majority) it was hard to see why His justness did not
perceive exactly this.

There had been already examples in history of what a Herries could
do when he tried.  Old Polyphemus Herries, barnacled and lichened
with tradition, who eight hundred years ago in Fife (the Herries
were all Scotch then) had lived to a hundred and sixty-one; old
Mary Herries of the Wars of the Roses, who, defending Lancaster
Castle, upset pots of boiling pitch on to the heads of invaders,
she had lived to a hundred and thirty-nine, and had had fifty-eight
grandchildren.  Ronald Herries, friend of James I., had lived in
sin and iniquity into his hundred and twentieth year--a black
sheep, but honoured by the Herries because of his arrogant resolve
to beat Death back to Hell, which for a hundred and twenty years at
least he succeeded in doing, then drink had him and he died, his
head in a butt of Canary!

Since old Ronald no one had passed the century, although Elizabeth
Herries of Charles I.'s time had been ninety-three, and little
Johnny Herries the hunchback, uncle of Maria and Matthew, had seen

Old Maria as she approached the century had become an object of
reverence to all of them, and Pomfret and Jannice, hitherto
contemned, had been more honourably considered for preserving her.
Here again was something that the Herries did better than anything
else--show Death that they would stand no nonsense.

There was nothing that the Herries prided themselves upon more
justly than the health and excellence of their bodily vigour.  They
were not eccentric in this; they did not produce strong men for
exhibition at a Fair, or wrestlers at a pageant, but just vigorous,
sound Englishmen with no nonsense about them, destined to die
calmly in their beds at a ripe old age.  And how often in these
last years had the words been murmured in Kensington, in
Portsmouth, in Carlisle, in Edinburgh, at Seddon, at Hatton, at
Brighthelmstone.  'The Herries live long. . . .  Maria Herries in
Keswick neareth her hundredth year. . . .  Nothing ails her. . . .
She is bled once and again. . . .  She has all her teeth.'

And now she was gone and had missed her goal.  A hundred in four
months' time!  The irony of it!

By an odd coincidence it happened that for Maria's funeral there
was a remarkable Herries gathering.  Movement over considerable
distances was not easy, although easier than it had been, but it
was not difficult, of course, for Humphrey Cards, his wife
Charlotte, his daughter Dorothy, her husband Anthony Forster, and
their little son Will to come over from Seddon, and Grandison, son
of Robert, cousin of Pomfret and Francis, had been paying a visit
in Edinburgh with Mary his wife, and Helen and Pelham his children,
so they came down: and last but not, of course, least there was
Henry, son of Maurice Cards, and Lucilla his wife.  In this company
three quite separate impulses of the Herries blood could be traced.

Humphrey Cards, hidden away at Seddon, had been suspected of
turning Quaker.  He had at any rate been oddly religious enough to
frighten all decent-minded Herries.  His daughter Dorothy, who had
married one of the Northumberland Forsters, was grimly religious
enough, but not, thank Providence, in any eccentrically dangerous

Dorothy Forster then (cousin to a more famous Dorothy Forster of
this same time) represented the spiritual vein of the Herries body.

Her thin, pale, ramrod-straight body, her dark clothes and quiet
misgivings about her other fellow-humans, made this manifest.

Robert's son, Grandison, and his children Pelham and Helen
represented fashion.  They lived in Kensington, and everything
outside London was too odd and peculiar to be true.  Grandison had
never understood how a Herries could bring himself to live out of
London--it was a sort of lse-majest against the blood.  His eyes,
protruding out of his round pale face, expressed perpetual surprise
and wonder.  He was tall, stout and most elegantly dressed.
Clothes were of great concern to him, and food, and the order of
entrance and exit.  Not greatly distinguished in the village of
Kensington, he was an exquisite in Keswick.  Aunt Jannice thought
him the most marvellous creature in all the world, and had he but
allowed himself to be bled more frequently he would have been

His girl Helen was in no way remarkable, but his son Pelham
promised well as the Herries rake of his generation.  There must
always be a Herries rake, and he must go so far and no farther.  He
must gamble, drink, womanise to a certain degree, fight duels
enough for glory and not enough for scandal, be handsome and
dashing and outrageous, but always within the limits of common
sense.  Other Herries must be able to shake their heads over him,
but admire him too, and at last when a new younger rake is maturing
he, the elder, must marry a virtuous girl with wealth, settle down
and breed a family.

Young Pelham, aged at this time twenty-seven, understood all this
perfectly, and had in fact a certain private store of ironic
amusement which bewildered at times his fat father and irritated
his august mother.

This mother, a magnificent figure, both snobbish and stupid on a
large scale, had been a Titchley and, as everyone knows, it is
difficult for a Titchley to yield place even to a Herries.  She had
in fact never quite yielded.  She was still just enough rebel
against the Herries tradition to need watching; not that she was
interesting in her rebellion--she neither thought nor spoke enough
to be interesting.  Only once and again she would look at a stray
Herries with a dumb air of wonder as much as to say:  'In a
Titchley world this creature would not be permitted.'

In her quite young days she had known Sarah Marlborough and
although now she was in a Kensington set she always got Court news
before anyone else.

Henry, son of Maurice, and Lucilla his wife, represented the third
strain in the Herries blood.  Henry, who was thirty-two years of
age, was thin and spare, with eyes gravely fixed.  They were fixed
upon the markets and he never permitted them to rest anywhere else.
For one brief moment of sensual delight he had allowed them to rest
upon his wife Lucilla.  Ten years ago she had been a beautiful
girl.  Three years following their marriage she had been attacked
by the smallpox, and, quite naturally, after that business had
claimed him again.  They had no children; the multiplying of coins
of the realm was their only increase.

Henry was able and kept his eyes open for all the mechanical
improvements and developments that were now beginning to alter the
country, how permanently and irretrievably even he did not suspect.
He was one of the first men in England to be aware of the deep
importance of John Kay's invention of the fly-shuttle in 1733, of
John Lombe's discovery in Italy of those improvements in machinery
that gave such an impetus to the silk trade, and, in later years,
he was to recognise at once the value of Crompton's mule, of Highs'
water-frame and the spinning jenny of Hargreaves.

Oddly, with all his cleverness, his attention to business and
parsimonious industry, he was never to make a fortune.  This too
was characteristic of the Herries; they were never in their money-
making destined to be middle-men because if, in their tribe, genius
showed its head it was instantly suspect and exiled.  Henry was no
genius, but he was industrious, honest, cross-grained, conceited
and quite without poetic fancy.  That was well, for had this last
been his he would have been unfaithful to Lucilla, who was no woman
to endure patiently infidelity.

Gathered there together on some general ground, had they for an
outside observer any physical characteristic in common?

Only this: that in them all there was some attribute of the horse--
Pomfret the cart-horse, Dorothy Forster the funeral hack, young
Pelham the dashing pony, his father the well-fed favourite of the
Countess's barouche, Henry the little dark horse of the race-
meeting, and so-and-so . . . these traits of chin, high cheek-
bones, long forehead, brooding, patient and unimaginative eyes
marking the Herries tribe, giving them their place in English life
and history.

And with all this they had great qualities.

They had a great force of fidelity, so that under pain of urgent
torture they would not desert their loyalties, their loyalties of
creed, of family, of ethics, of social conduct.  These loyalties
were English, and therefore the easier because no light of
imagination was ever let in upon them.  Two hundred years ago they
had been, to a letter, the same: two hundred years later they would
not have changed to a hair's-breadth.  They were loyal to their
country, to their family, to their loves, to their friends, with a
stolid wonder that anybody could be anything else.  When those ill-
smelling traitors were discovered within their own households (as
with every generation they were discovered) that taunt of
disloyalty was the first stone that was flung.

As to their country so also to them disloyalty meant everything
that was base; abnormality, cowardice, the vilest selfishness,
dirty living, obscene thinking.  And the certainty of their
judgements was only equalled by the swiftness.

It was tragedy for the Herries that they must live in a constantly
changing world.  When, as now with Maurice's son Henry, these
changes were sharply perceived, the Herries strain of orthodox
tradition modified the use that was made of them.  Loyalty came in

The changes were always unfortunate, even when they were most
inevitable.  The old days were always the good old days for the
Herries; that was why, for example, Harcourt, who on this occasion
had come over from Ravenglass, was accepted by all of them as a
perfect member.

For him only all that was old was worthy.  It had been Mr. Pope's
only fault that he was not old enough.  The thought that old Maria
had been born on the day of the Battle of Naseby embalmed her, even
though she had so impertinently missed her hundredth birthday, with
an especial fragrance.

And behind this reverence there was something very kindly and
genial.  The Herries men especially were warm of heart.  Pomfret
and Harcourt, Robert's sons, and in the younger line, Francis'
David, young Pelham--there was strong generous humanity here.
Only, faced with what they thought to be heresy, vain worship of
false gods, treachery to Church or State, to Country and the
Marriage Vows and sound fact, only then they were as fierce, as
prejudiced, as bloodthirsty as any Spanish Inquisitor.  And for
confidence in their own eternal rightness there was no family in
Britain to rival them.

Here, then, they were, two days after Maria's funeral, on an
afternoon of driving rain, gathered together in Jannice's
withdrawing-room: lean Henry and his pale-faced Lucilla, little
dainty Harcourt, Mrs. Dorothy black and austere, Pelham's mother
stout and frosted, Pelham gay in a coat of orange and silver,
Raiseley bitterly envious, Grandison fat and flabby, amiable Anabel
and beautiful Judith--the Herries stable--one of these Herries
family gatherings that any Herries chronicler is compelled in their
history to confront.

Jannice, Lucilla, Grandison, his wife Mary and Helen their
daughter, were busy at Ombre.  The men, bored with the wet, had
come in to take tea with the women.  Henry was giving Pomfret a
rather patronising lecture on profit and loss (he thought Pomfret
the veriest fool), Pelham was tantalising Raiseley with London
splendours and besieging the lovely Judith with all his polished
arts, and on the crimson sofa the dead Maria's spaniel lay, staring
with sad angry eyes at the hated company.

The room was lit with candles, but the curtains were not drawn, and
beyond the windows a furious sky tore in sweeping battalions of
smoky clouds from horizon to horizon.  To-day as so often in this
country of clouds the sky imposed itself upon the farthest interior
seclusion.  The glittering furniture of the room, the gilt of the
chairs, the jewellery of the little clocks and boxes, the crimson
silk, the shining silver candlesticks, the amber of the fluttering
flames of lights and fire surrendered without question to the black
shapes of the sky that seemed so vast and threatening, dragging at
the distant tops of the hills as though to fling them across the
lake on to the houses of the town.

Everyone in the room was irritated by the storm, but no one asked
for the curtains to be drawn.  There had been also during these
last days other irritations.

The friendly scorn felt in different degrees by them all for their
host and hostess reacted upon themselves.  It was exasperating to
feel that a Herries, whose hospitality they had accepted, was below
the proper Herries mark, and Pomfret, who was only at his ease
when he was out of doors killing something, who was always too
uncomfortable in his wife's presence, had flustered through these
days, now roaring in a noisy and false good humour, now putting on
an air of deep seriousness that his words, alas, only betrayed, now
sinking into a schoolboy silence of discomfort.

Jannice too was unhappy.  For many years now she had been
comfortable here in her own little circle, testing neither her wit
nor her beauty against broader standards.  But she detested the
large pompous body of Grandison's wife after the first half-hour of
her arrival.  For Mary Herries, Jannice had the double aggravation
that she was neither a Titchley nor a worthy Herries.  She had
indeed, with her provincial airs, her silly cures and recipes, her
little conceits and ugly appearance, everything against her.
Pomfret had never cared for his wife so protectively as during
these last days when 'the Titchley woman,' as he called her, had
mocked with every word.  He longed to humiliate fat Grandison, to
put him on a horse that would throw him at the first ditch, to fire
a gun in his ears, to win his money at a cockfight, even to strip
the clothes off his flabby body and soak him in the lake.  He would
show these Kensington puppies what real life was like up here in
the North Country.  Even as he listened to Henry Cards' dry words,
hoping that he might gather a business wheeze or two, his other ear
was on the Ombre table listening to the thick voice of Mary Herries
as she instructed the others in the Kensington fine shades of Ombre

Mary Herries indeed was indignant with every pulse in her large
body at the company that she was forced to keep.  The very cards
that Jannice had provided seemed to her contemptible with their old-
fashioned pictures of 'the Bishops in the Tower, Popish Midwife,
Captain Tom, Army going over to the Prince of Orange,' etc.  They
were Jannice's best cards, 'the best superfine Principal Ombre
cards at 2s. 9d. a Dozen.'  She had been playing with them these
twenty years.  If good enough for anyone in Keswick, why not for
anyone in Kensington?

Mary Herries had other causes for dissatisfaction.  She knew that
her son Pelham was attracted by Jannice's girl Judith.  She adored
her son; this was the strongest, fiercest motive of life for her.
His handsomeness, cleverness, gaiety, made her the proudest woman
in all England, and her pride was the more defended because it was
mingled with a worshipping fear of an irony in him that she would
never understand.

That by any horrible chance he should throw himself away on the
girl of these country bumpkins was terrifying to her.  Fool though
she was she could see that Judith was a dark beauty: dressed
properly and educated in Kensington she might make others than her
son stare.  She knew too that Pelham meant as a rule but little by
his gallantries--there was already a fine list of momentary
conquests behind him--but the dullness of these last days (was it
for ever raining in this pernicious country?), his idleness and
something arrogant and distant in Judith might lead to some
desperate impetuosity.  She could scarcely hold her cards as she
thought of some dreadful crisis suddenly exploded before them: her
husband, poor fool, would perceive nothing, and would never dream
of acting until all was over.

And she had a further irritation.  This was the King Charles
spaniel on the crimson sofa.  This, the last of dead Maria's many
spaniels, was the only true mourner of that poor lady.  She was
missing her now with every wheezy breath that she drew.  She was
old, fat, the victim of many pains and tortures; life had long ago
been misery to her had it not been for the touch of those strange
dry fingers, the scratch of those multitudinous rings, the warmth
of that thin shrivelled body, a bag of bones under the coloured
shining silks.  Alone she had shared her mistress's recent life,
her longings, her prides, her greeds, her ignorances, her
loneliness.  Alone she had called out of that aged woman, so nearly
deceased long before the actual moment of death, tenderness and
unselfishness, the only cause in her of anxiety for another.
During those long nights when Maria had lain looking up at a
remorseless ceiling, seeing pageants of vanished scenes and
figures, her pride her only refuge, the spaniel had breathed
against her withered hand, rested its head against her dried bosom.

Together they had faced a world that seemed to them both worthless
and ugly; all the old glories were over, but so long as they were
together pride would sustain them both.

Now they were no longer together, and the spaniel, only aware that
her mistress called her no more, ached her old heart away in angry
wasted rebellion.  But there was more than despair and loneliness
there.  There was also a spirit of impotent and sarcastic rage.
She was of blood royal, descendant of a line of kings.  It had
always seemed to her that Jannice and Pomfret, their offspring
also, were low and degenerate creatures.  She hated that they
should touch her, and when Raiseley or Judith teased her, her whole
soul rose in affronted disgust.  While Maria lived she had been
protected, and in sublime confidence of her dear mistress had been
able to scorn those others, but now she knew that she was open to
the world. . . .  Pains racked her, dim fears besieged her, and
with these the scorn that she knew her mistress had felt ever
increased within her.

She was no Herries: her alliance had been to a single soul, not to
the herd.  So now as they passed around her with their strange
scents and movements and sounds she hated them even as she despised
them, and most bitterly of all she hated and despised the stout,
crackling, silk-swishing, fan-waving, scent-distilling Mary

It may have been that in this woman beyond the others she detected
false arrogances and knew that of them all it was she who would
have most fiercely affronted her mistress.  In any case it was upon
Mary Herries that she fixed her filmed and fading eyes,
concentrated her aching body, curled her upper lip, showing two
sharp and yellow teeth.

Mary Herries was telling some tale of a friend:  'But a miserly
temper.  She is as expressive to her husband as a casket of jewels.
Many's the night I've seen her lug out her old green net purse full
of old jacobuses while her waiting woman in the room behind is
diving into the bottom of her trunk hoping for a stray piece or
two . . .' when she was aware of the spaniel's eyes.

She moved her chair ever so slightly and was aware of them the
more.  The spaniel was laughing at her, or maybe it was the spirit
of old Maria that mocked her through the dog.

She felt suddenly an accumulation of miseries: she saw Grandison
her husband as he stood in his night-shirt, his ugly naked toes
spread, his bristling head bare of its wig, and in that figure, so
deeply accustomed that it seemed to be part of her own, she groaned
at the weariness of her life.  What was all this pretence of
Kensington finery, this elaborate mention of old Duchess Sarah, Sir
John and the rest, when a yard away Pelham was making eyes at that
hoydenish country girl, and her stomach ached beneath her tightened
stays and her feet were pinched in their silver shoes, and
Grandison, scratching at his wig for the thousandth time, cleared
his throat over his cards preparatory to playing the wrong one?
What were these Herries but second-rate country bumpkins?  Henry
with his spare money-calculating eyes, who yet could make no
fortune, Dorothy in her thin black with her psalm-singing pieties,
Pomfret stinking of drink and the miry road, his miserable Raiseley
with his splay feet and mean little nose.  Oh! she was sick of the
lot, she had messed her life through her own silly folly, storms of
rain beat the windows and the spaniel mocked her!

A point had come in the game and she flung her cards on the table.
'I play no more,' she said in her thick soft voice that was like
the stirring of suet in the pan.  She had been winning (a fact that
until now she had quite honestly not noticed) and at once she was
aware that Jannice Herries found in this the reason of her

Jannice had not at sixty improved in appearance.  She was thinner,
more sallow, more drawn and by her odd unsuited clothes more
painfully quartered than ever.

'An old witch,' thought Mary Herries.

'A fat mean cook of a woman,' thought Jannice.

'Why, cousin, you are winning,' said Jannice sharply.  'You must
give us our revenge.'

But Mary Herries, raising her stout body painfully, pushing back
the chair, feeling freshly the agony of her pinching shoes,

'That dog should be poisoned.'

Everyone felt the unseemliness.  A Herries, the oldest of all the
Herries, had been but two days buried.  This was her dog, all that
remained of her, almost you could say a Herries dog.  But worse

Mary, her voice quivering to an unexpected plaintiveness:  'I am
sick to death of this: it rains and rains again.  Maria is happily
buried if it was here that she must look out of window.'  Then with
a toss of her head, the painted flowers in her white wig nodding
their petals, she waddled from the room, her little feet protesting
with sad little creaks against the weight that they must carry.

Grandison knew what this meant.  She was feeling Titchley, and when
she felt Titchley he was in for a terrible hour.  He hastened after
her.  The dog still laughed, motionless like a dead dog.

But the men, Henry and Pomfret, young Pelham and Harcourt, like all
Herries men when a woman made a scene, came together.  Young
Pelham, leaning back against the purple brocaded chair near the
door, smiling, said:  'My mother has vapours often enough at this
hour.  She will be happy only in a land where the sun always
shines.  I appeal to you, sir' (smiling at Pomfret), 'this is a
handsome country, but it rains unduly.'

'It would not be so handsome a country,' said Harcourt, 'did it not
rain so frequently.'  And he turned from them, looking out of
window across the lake to the hills where a sudden flash of pale
sunlight had pierced the storm, striking an arrow of gold that
cleft Cat Bells in two.  He loved it, every stick and stone of it!
How he loved it!  And as he looked, a deep homesickness for his own
home at Ravenglass, his little garden, his gleaming book rows, the
faint flash of the sea beyond his windows, took him.

All of them in that room caught from him some sense of English
soil.  The men moved together to the window and stood there side by
side looking out.  They were Herries in this: that however far they
might be drawn from the English soil, they yet belonged to it.
Even in Kensington they felt the stirrings of ancient waterways and
the tuggings of prehistoric roots.  Which partially explains
perhaps that they were never good travellers abroad, queasy,
irritable, of an arrogant critical mind; and if they must settle in
a foreign land they must turn it speedily to a Scotch or English

They felt now that urgent need to break out into the open air that
every Herries feels when his women are badgering him.

Pomfret's indignation at the insult to his wife was mingled with a
twofold satisfaction: it was not he who for once was the clown of
the occasion and, although he would never confess to this, his own
dear Jannice had been found to be less than perfection.  There came
to him indeed at that moment, gazing out at the steel wall of rain
that fell now like a vengeance from the muddy sky, a thought of
what life would have been had Jannice never existed.  He cast an
uneasy backward glance at the spaniel, who was now wheezily
sleeping.  How many things dogs knew, and how greatly the more at
ease he was with them than with humans!  Now with a dog . . . !

And he thought again of Jannice, of how to this day, although they
had been married so long, he was afraid of her, afraid of that
sudden sharp tap in her voice like a knock on the window, that
chilly glaze of contempt in her eye when he had been an especial
fool.  Yes, and his own children. . . .  Only Anabel was friendly
and easy, and she was easy with all the world.

He was sixty-seven years of age now, a tun of a man with a floating
hulk of a belly, and he was lonely as perhaps were all men of sixty-
seven.  Only with horses and dogs and a drinking parson and a
swearing friend or two, killing, hunting those animals that he yet
so dearly loved, only thus might he for a driving hour cheat
himself of his loneliness.  Staring out of window, not hearing
anything of the voices in the room behind him, he thought suddenly
of his brother Francis.  Why, he could not say.  He did not think
of him more often than he must, partly because he was a scandal,
partly because he loved him.  At heart it might be that Francis was
more to him than anyone else in the world: Francis, digging away in
that miry patch of stinking mud in that nook-shotten valley,
Francis shouted at by the peasant children, Francis, adulterer and
vagabond, known to have sold his woman at a public fair, to have
killed his wife with unkindness, to have driven one of his own
daughters away from her home, to be sheltering under his roof the
most notorious old witch in the country, Francis--'Rogue Herries'
to all the world, so that he brought with every hour disgrace on
the Herries name--yet Pomfret loved him.  His mind flung back to
that first windy evening when Francis and his family arrived in the
town, Francis so young and handsome then in all his gay clothes,
and to that other time, the day that poor Margaret died, when he
had ridden over to Herries and Francis had been so grave and
kindly, so noble in spirit, and he, Pomfret, had kissed his
brother, loving him and wishing in his own clumsy speechless way to
protect him.

Oh! Francis was bad and not to be mentioned, but through the sheets
of rain Pomfret had a mad, monstrous wonder of a moment whether, if
he had been with him out there in rugged tumbled Herries, life
might not have been richer, more valorous, better worth . . .

And so wondering, turning because he heard the door open, saw to
his stricken, open-mouthed amazement his brother, Francis Herries,
standing in the room.

He had not seen his brother for three years; the last time had been
in a Keswick street when Francis, riding past on a huge kind of
cart-horse, had patronised Pomfret and sent him home in a fuming

But now how strange he looked standing there, wearing his own black
shaggy hair, muddily booted to the thighs, his long brown coat
faded and stained, his face brown and spare, the shape and form of
it altered by the deep white scar that ran from brow to lip.  His
face was yet shining with raindrops, water dripped from his boots,
the back of his brown hand shone with rain.  Years back he had
promised to be stout; now he was lean and spare, and seemed of an
immense height.  He had aged strangely.  Pomfret had a quick vision
of him that other first time at the inn when glittering in gold and
crimson he had been so young and handsome.  Now the soil was in the
furrows of his cheeks.

To Jannice, staring from above the card-table, it was as though the
Devil had sprung out of the floor.  Francis was to her as the
Devil.  Sharing no blood with him, disliking him from the very
first, her dislike was now hatred--hatred mingled with deep fear.
For years he had threatened everything in which she believed, her
morality, her family, her social position.  Especially her social
position.  Every little success in Keswick was threatened with the
consciousness that only a mile or two away there was this sinister
figure, outlaw, adulterer, vagabond, and, because she never saw
him, her sense of his evil power grew and grew with imagination.
She was a woman compact of superstition.  Witches and warlocks,
mandrakes and goblins were as real to her as her own children.  The
two worlds were, with her, one.  Had Francis been arrested for
dealings with the Devil and been burnt at the stake she would not
have thought it an injustice.

She had sworn that never again should he pass her door.  He was
here, and it seemed to her as she looked across the room at him
that fire and brimstone smoked at his nostrils.

Harcourt was the first to speak.  He was enchanted with pleasure.
He came forward, holding out both hands:  'Francis, my dear
brother!'  That explained to the others who this was.  Young
Pelham, greatly interested, thought:  'So this is my dangerous and
exiled relation.  This is a man.  Worth the lot of us here.'  He
was drawn naturally to the rebel in life.  He had a complete
intellectual appreciation of rebellion, although his love of
comfort would always keep himself on the side of safety.

Francis looked about him, bowed to Jannice and Dorothy Forster,
then, smiling (his smile was odd now because the scar caught his
upper lip and twisted it), said:

'Forgive me.  I would not have intruded, but, passing, thought that
I would greet the family . . . very briefly.  It can be so seldom
that we are all together.  Not, you know,' he continued, smiling
more broadly, 'that I enjoy family gatherings, and I fear that I
have not impertinence enough to invite you to Herries, unless
anyone has an affection for potato-gathering.  But I would not wish
to be remiss in paying some reverence to my great-aunt.'  He looked
at the handsome boy by the chair.  'You must be Grandison's boy?'

'How are you, sir?' said Pelham, coming forward and holding out his

Francis rested for a moment his hand on his shoulder.  'You should
know my son David,' he said.  'If you care for the country a day or
two at Herries. . . .  But I suspect that you have better things to

Pomfret here blustered forward.  'Well, brother, damn it, now that
thou art here . . . a drink in this damp weather. . . .  Why, damn
it, man . . .'  Then, conscious of his wife behind him, stopped

'Nay, nay,' said Francis, smiling.  'My horse is outside and I have
business.  I heard you were all here.  Doubtless you thought of me
and wished my presence but were shy of asking me.'

He saw the spaniel, crossed to the sofa, bent down and stroked it.
'Poor bitch.  You have as little place here as myself.  I'll be
coming to see thee one of these days, Harcourt.'  Then was gone
abruptly as he came.


Francis Herries rode off into the rain, his mind a strange torment.
To enter that house over whose threshold he had not stepped for so
many years had been an impulse of the moment.  He had been inside
before he had known that he was going, and, brushing past the
startled manservant, he had entered that room and almost blinked,
like an owl, at the unaccustomed light.  It had been more than the
candlelight; to himself who had been having for so long no intimate
contacts save with the wind, the air, the hard grit of unyielding
soil and the soft friendliness of the land after rain, these
figures were like fish swimming in a strange sea.  Like fish, and
yet they had tugged at his heart.

He had entered the house in a childish play-acting spirit of dare-
devil as though he would say 'Bo!' to a goose, but the very sight
of silly Pomfret with his hanging belly and little Harcourt whose
eyes had shone with pleasure at sight of him, and that handsome lad
Grandison's boy, and all his Herries blood had pressed about his
heart.  It was to conceal this--which had been as violent as an
unexpected blow in the face--that he had moved to the dog, stroked
it, said those false sentimental words--the play-actor in him
again.  But behind the false sentiment there had been that swift
ache of loneliness.

He knew it: he could confess it to himself: for all his intolerance
and truculence he would have loved to stay with the men, with
Pomfret, Harcourt, young Pelham, even with stiff Henry and flabby-
faced Grandison, spent the night with them, laughed and drunk and
changed bawdy stories with them, felt HERRIES again, felt the
family blood in him and all England behind his tread and that
ancient old tree-man whispering in his ears the ancient Herries
password . . . and then perhaps to have taken the boy Pelham off to
Herries and to have shown him David, who was a giant now and the
hero of the country-side and the simplest, grandest Herries of them
all.  Then to have put on his decent clothes again and found a good
horse once more (Mameluke buried beneath the yews behind the house)
and ridden off to Seddon for a week or two, and then perhaps to
stay with Grandison in Kensington. . . .  He!  He grinned, the rain
blinding him as he climbed the steep hill to Cat Bells.  That was
never again for him nor would he care for it did he have it.  In a
day he would be quarrelling with Harcourt, mocking Pomfret,
laughing at Grandison, corrupting Pelham.  But the Herries blood
was there.  He had been a fool to enter that place.

There was something further for him to consider.  In Keswick that
afternoon he had talked with Father Roche.  He had been crossing
the market-place, his head up, looking neither to right nor left,
in enemy's country and knowing it, when a country fellow dressed
like a carter had touched his arm.  He had turned about with his
accustomed haughty stare, and that voice, once so powerful over
him, came back to him across all the years.  He knew him
immediately, the voice with its seeming musical resonance, the eyes
with their strange commanding glow belonging to one man only in the
world.  Roche had smiled, his broad hat pulled over his brows.
Francis had asked him to Herries.  Roche had refused, saying that
he was on his way to Carlisle.  The business was urgent.  Very
shortly the world would hear startling things.  The hour for which
they had all been waiting so long had struck at last.  The voice
was not raised, but behind it was that old fanatical undoubting
spirit, and it had for Francis its ancient power.  Standing there
in the marketplace, the rain soaking down upon them, the old times
swung back, days in Doncaster when it had seemed to him that he
would follow Roche anywhere, evenings when it had appeared no odd
fancy that, threading the stars, God and all His cohort of angels,
the chariots of fire and the horsemen thereof, could plainly be
discerned.  Roche had given him an address--Walter Frith, in charge
of John Stope, English Street.  Carlisle.  He would be found there.
They had parted.

So all the old life was swinging back.  You could not escape it,
throw it off as you fancied, dig yourself into the very stomach of
the soil--one tap on the shoulder, one glance through the dark
branches of the yew and you were caught again.  As Francis rode
down to Grange Bridge the rain cleared.  The clouds were rolling
away above the Castle Crag, and a faint fair wash of crocus spread
in a sea of light over the black pointed hill.  On either side
above Watendlath and the slow slopes beyond Grange white fleecy
mists still lay low like bales of wool, but you could feel the
light that burnt behind them, and the soft fields beyond the stream
toward the lake were richly green.

He crossed the little bridge, turned to the right, rode between the
trees beside the swift river along the track to Rosthwaite.  In the
village he had not seen a soul.  It had been like a dead place.
And well it might be.  All the valley from Seathwaite to Grange had
been cursed that winter.  Misfortune had followed misfortune.
Cattle had died, agues and fevers and plagues of pests had seemed
to choose the valley for their camping-ground, and at the last
smallpox had come, had raged right down the valley and only here.
None over in Grasmere nor the other way in Newlands nor more than
ordinary in the Keswick slums.  The valley had been marked out.  He
knew well enough what the people were saying, that there was a
curse, a spell, and he knew further that the old Wilson woman under
his own roof was marked as the agent.  And he knew that behind her
he was himself marked out.

Yes, and he knew more than that: that, had it not been for David,
weeks ago the roof would have been burned down over his head,
Herries a heap of ashes and himself, perhaps, stoned to death.  He
did not care for their hatred, but he did not wish to die.  There
was something in life that was, like the beat of a drum,
insistently enthralling.  He had always felt it: he would never
escape it: and it was as though, did he live long enough, he would
discover the answer to this incredible mixture of beauty and filth,
wizardry and commonplace, stagnation and unceasing activity.  He
did not want to die, but he did not want, either, that it should be
by permission of his son that he should live.

But this was not for long.  David was going: he knew it as though
David had told him.  And he did not want David to go.  No, he did
not. . . .

David was now twenty-five years of age, six feet five inches tall,
as broad as a wall, the strongest man in the county beyond
question, and many thought, with his fair blanched hair, blue eyes
and splendid carriage, the handsomest.  Let that be as it might.
It did not matter.  He was simple, modest, a man without words,
quite direct in thought and act and with few subtleties.  He had,
for his years, scarcely stepped farther than Seascale on one side,
Penrith on the other, very rarely left his valley, made few friends
in Keswick, though all the world was friendly.  His own valley
loved him and said, as Francis well knew, that Rogue Herries had
never fathered him.  And yet he was clear Herries enough, the line
of his jutting chin, the high strong cheek-bones made him plainly
of the 'horse' family.  He moved, tossed his head, swung his body
like some high-bred animal, held, confined.

For eight years now he had helped his father in the land around
Herries, ploughing, planting, digging, all as he very well knew,
but never said, to little effect.  His constant companions were his
father and Deborah; he was friend to all the valley, but had no
other close intimacy save that old childhood one with Peel's boy,
Rendal, who was now a man almost as big and strong as David
himself.  Of love affair there had been as yet, it seemed, no sign.

He was a man of few words save possibly with Deborah.  When he went
to sport or meeting, to hunt or local games, and performed some
miracle of strength, he came home afterwards without a word of it.
His thoughts were certainly slow in labour: you could almost see
them move behind his smooth clear forehead.  He had a long, slow
laugh that began as a murmur, spread into a long rumble, ended in a
roar.  He had a slow temper.  He had two faults: that he was
suspicious of men and, although courteous in manner, desperately
hard to make a friend of.  And he never forgot nor forgave an
injury.  When, that is, he had proved it to be one.  He paid no
attention to gossip, drank as men drink, but kept the effects of it
to himself.  He showed no resentment at the cruelties, foulnesses,
obscenities of his time.  He was a man of his time.  He did not
trade with women because he did not as yet apparently care very
greatly for women's company save Deborah's.  He was tongue-tied
with women and impatient of their ways.  He did not care very much
for any company and preferred best to be away on the hills alone.
He was very Herries in some things: in his passion for England--he
had all the Herries' ignorant contempt for and dislike of
foreigners; in his interest in the family--he would ask his father
many questions about Herries history and relationship; in his
inability to see anything that was not in front of his nose.

It was his father who was the rebel, not he.  Unless he were
passionately roused--a very rare thing--there was something lazy
and comfort-loving in his great size and strength.  He seemed to be
never physically tired, but he liked to lie back staring into fire
or sky, seeing nothing, perhaps thinking nothing, letting light and
warmth soak into him.

But what were his thoughts of his father?  How many times, in the
instant of digging or planting, hoeing or carrying, walking or
riding, Francis had looked up at the sky, at the long hump of
Glaramara, or, from Grange, at the opening flower of Skiddaw,
and asked himself that question.  David was infinitely kind,
ceaselessly patient.  Since that night so long ago at Ravenglass
no word of impatience had passed his lips, he had shown no angry
movement towards his father.  But they had moved, these last
years, with a sort of mist between, loving one another and yet
distrustful: or Francis on his side at least had held distrust.
What must David feel about his father's isolation, self-adopted,
ironically self-proclaimed, and about the ever thicker wall of
hatred built by the world against him?

We love most, perhaps, those of whom we are a little afraid.  David
was the only creature in the world of whom Francis was afraid, and
this was a fear only of a sudden blazing word, a glance of
contempt.  Then, the word spoken, the glance flung, Francis would
pass into the final ostracism.

When Mary, two years earlier, had left him, Francis thought that
the word would be spoken.  Mary, who had grown increasingly
beautiful and contemptuous, had gone without a sign one morning to
her aunt in Keswick.  She had sent a letter from there saying that
she would not return.  No other word came from her.  They heard
that she went afterwards to stay in Carlisle, then that she was
back in Keswick, then in London.  Then it was said that Francis had
beaten and abused her.  He smiled at that.  In earlier days he had
beaten David often and Deborah on occasion: on Mary he had never
laid a finger.

Would David blame him for Mary?  He did not.  David blamed him for
nothing.  Was his silence criticism?  Maybe not.  He was always so
very silent.  Once, when they were together in Langdale, Francis
looking down the long green sward and then up to the Pikes, rosy in
sunset, said:

'You must hate me, David.'  And David, after a long silence while
the birds swept above their heads home, answered:

'I have three friends.  You are one--and the first.'

But what comfort, his irony urged on him, was he to find in that?
David had not answered his question, only asserted his loyalty; and
David's loyalty was so unsubtle that it offered no reward to one's

Not that Francis' pride was in question.  He was so proud that his
son's approval or disapproval altered nothing.  He was so proud
that he would tell his son to go to the devil did he patronise him.
But he did not patronise him.  He stood at his side and worked with
him.  That was all.

So he rode into the little stone court of Herries, shouted to fat
Benjamin to come for his horse, and longed, as he stumbled up the
dark staircase, to see David waiting for him.

David was there.  He was standing in the dark brown room upon whose
surface the firelight was very faintly flickering, listening, and
so intent was his attitude that Francis also stayed motionless by
the door: the only sound in the room was the soft settling of the
ash from the piled logs.

'What is it?' Francis asked at last.  Then he heard, but so faint
that it was like the scratching of mice on the wainscot, a
trickling crooning sound; someone, at a distance, behind walls, was
singing, singing in a high-pitched murmur of a voice a little tune
like an incantation or a prayer monotonously reiterated.

'Mrs. Wilson,' David said, then coming close to his father and
laying his hand on his arm:  'She sings to keep herself company.
She's afraid.'

'Of whom?' asked Francis, although he knew the answer.

'They are very impatient. . . .  I've been telling her she should
go from here.'

'Turn her from this roof . . . after these years?'

'No, no. . . .  Help her to the Low Countries.  At the Hague there
is some family she was nurse to once.  They would take her.  We
could secure her a passage.'

'She is old,' Francis answered.  He liked the warmth of his son's
body close to his.  He hoped that David would not move.  That visit
to the family had made him lonelier. . . .

He put his arm across David's vast shoulders.  His long brown
fingers pressed a little into the smooth warmth of his son's neck.

'I think she is going mad with terror,' David said.  The room too
seemed a little mad: the dusk wrote letters on the wall with the
firelight and then erased them again.  The wind that was getting up
and rattling the leaded panes drowned the little song and then by
contrast raised it again.  It was more dangerous in the dusky room
because both men believed in witches and thought that Mrs. Wilson
was one.

Then Benjamin came clumping up the staircase, holding the lighted
candles in their tall silver candlesticks in either hand, and
Deborah came in to lay the table for some supper; there was life
and movement and the little song could be heard no more.

Deborah, who was now twenty-two years of age, was little and
insignificant until you noticed her eyes, which were large, soft,
grey, very beautiful.  Her shyness was her trouble.  She could not
be courageous about people.  She was afraid of every person in the
world save David, and especially of her father.  She had had the
same fear for seven years, ever since the death of her mother, that
David would go and leave her with her father alone.  That fear was
now a torture, and no reassurance on David's part could comfort

Francis knew, of course, that she was afraid of him, and that
exasperated him.  Every time that she shrank from him his old
ironic dislike of himself increased in him and she was included in
that.  When the supper had been cleared away and she had gone up to
her room, the two men were left alone in front of the fire.  The
rain had returned and in violence; it slashed the panes, roared
with the wind away, then fell again upon the house as though it
would batter it to the ground; the fury passed and the rain
softly stroked the windows, whispering indecent and chuckling
secrets, then ran in a hurry as though it were pattering after
someone, burst after that once more into a frenzy of rage and
exasperation . . . an evil frustrated old woman, the rain that

Secure from it the two Herries drew close together.  Suddenly they
were intimate as they had not been for months.  Francis put his
hand on David's broad thigh, drawing his great body a little nearer
to him.  When he told him about his visit to the family that
afternoon David was excited.

'Oh, why did you not stay?' he said.  'The awkwardness would have
worn away.  How did Cousin Pelham look?  And Henry Cards . . . and
Cousin Dorothy . . .'  He sighed.  'I would that I'd been with

Francis sharply withdrew his hand.  'You could go. . . .  Why don't

David shook his head, laughing.  'What would they want with me?
I've no head for their company.  No, no.  It was your opportunity,
father.  But you frightened them.'

Francis said:  'David, I've been wishing to ask you.  We've been
working side by side these years.  It's come to but little.
Everything here must seem to you cursed, the house, the soil, the
life, the loneliness.  I fancy that it's in that very cursedness of
the place that I find some salvation.  I would have it hard and
ungrateful.  Here for the first time in all my days I've found
response to my own temper and some aggravating comfort.  But for
you!  Already you are doing good business in Keswick and with your
friend in Liverpool.  Why should you stay?  There's no place in the
world where you wouldn't make your way, and you should see the
world, find a woman of your own breed, not bury yourself in this
windy hole for hinds and pigs. . . .  I'm other than you.  The dirt
of the soil is more to me than any man, aye, or woman either.  I am
stuck here, my feet in the clay, and am accustomed.  But it is not
your abiding-place and will never be.'

He was amazed then at how roughly, after he had ended, his heart
was beating as he waited for the boy's answer.  What would it be
here without David?  How could he endure it?  But better that David
should go rather than he should indulge his father by staying.
Francis would take no patronage.  Yes, but his heart hammered as he

David was slow as always.  At last he answered:  'I'm glad you've
spoken at last, father.  All these months I've wondered what was in
your mind.  But I can't leave you.  We're bound together, I fancy,
different though we are.  And yet . . . there IS something I should
say.  Father, why should we stay by Herries?  The place has never
cared for us.  As a boy I ran first into the house and shivered at
its greeting.  Everything has been wrong for you here.  The people
have been wrong for you, the soil stubborn; nothing that you have
planted has grown: you have been with every year more alone here.
Why should we stay?  We owe nothing to the house.  In the South
together, the three of us, where it is warmer and the sun shines
and people's hearts are more friendly. . . .  Father, let us leave
here.  Everything has been wrong for you here.'

'No,' his father answered in a strange, low voice, as though he
were speaking to something within him.  'Everything is not wrong
for me here.  Here is my home, the only one I've ever known or
shall know.  I feel the touch of the peat, the scratch of the dried
bracken, and it is my place.'

His voice had its accustomed ironic tone.  'So they've been
persuading you, David, my son?  "Take your father away, David
Herries.  He stinks in our noses, he is warlock and dirty liver and
murderer maybe.  Remove his carcase or we will remove it for you."
They've persuaded you, David . . . but there must be more than a
word before they can move me.  I am stuck fast, and there's my
ghost to come after me when they've knocked my head in and
scattered my entrails for dung over their fields: there's still my
ghost, David.'

David got up.  His voice was cold with anger when at last after a
long while he spoke.

'That is unjust.  No man could persuade me against you save
yourself.  I am no traitor.  But guard yourself against irony with
me.  I am a fool, you know, and may understand it wrongly.'

He went out.

So that was that.  Herries was alone.  He got up very early next
morning, washed himself at the pump and went off, walking, his head
in the air, not caring a damn if he never saw his bullock of a son
again.  Or he said not.  His heart within his heart ached, as it
always did, for his son.  That heart would have gone, waked the
boy, embraced him.  The only heart to which David responded, the
only one that he understood.  For David had all the simple
sentimentality of his period; for him there were these actual
contrasted powers, God and the horny Satan, Michael and all the
angels, dragons and rescuing princes, shepherds, shepherdesses, and
the ravening wolf, the good old man by the fireside reading out of
the Book to his family clustered at his knees, wedding bells and
Innocence wed under roses to Purity and Strength.  Yes, David
believed in all these things.  He saw life like that.

Francis, as he strode off into the early morning rain that sung
about his ears in a feathering mist, said aloud:  'I'm done with
the boy.  What's the use? . . .  No ground between us,' and the
rain whispered in his ear:  'It's a lie!  It's a lie!'  Once he
almost turned back.  It would be very easy to run up those stairs,
climb to David's room, see him sunk in sleep there, his chest bare,
his knees curled up.  Francis knew how he lay, his cheek on his
hand, dreaming of his princesses and his shepherdesses.  He had no
more subtlety than that.  The Herries sentimentalist.  No, not
conscious enough to be called anything.  A sweet-breathed, mild-
eyed animal, with the obstinacy of a mule, the strength of a horse,
the fidelity of a dog.  He should be breeding.  He should be let
out, like a stallion, to the women of the country to get fine sons.
All this true enough did you forget his heart, which in its
strength, sweetness, sympathy, durability was of another order from
the animal.  There was his immortality, and, likely enough, the
immortality of all of us.

For there was immortality in us!  The great white horse of
Herries' dream striking up from the ebony lake to the icy peaks.
Sentimentality, that again, thought Herries, and arrogance,
planning for your little peapod of a marionette so handsome a
destiny.  But the very fact of the planning. . . .  Why this
burning, eager, rebellious, longing fury between his miserable bag
of bones, the thick coiled entrails, the stringy nerves, the flat-
faced pancreas, that silly mechanism that one blow from a fool
could tumble as a child tumbles a toy.  Burning there between the
bones and fat, the blood and gristle, this fierce arrogant
ambition, this persistent dream, this lovely vision. . . .  'All we
like sheep . . .'  Nay, like gods rather, lost in a strange land.

Herries often, as he dug and sweated, cursed the reluctant soil and
his aching back and blistered hands, turned back and back to those
same common platitudes, fresh to him because they were his own and
mingled with so many strange things for which he could find no
words.  His brain, heart, generative organs: how to reconcile these
three in a common harmony and drive them to a fine destiny, his
brain that was clogged with lack of education, his heart that led
him only to self-contempt, his generative powers that had known
their best days, and they nothing to boast over.  All keys to some
event, but all out of control and discipline, all leading to silly

Not intelligent enough, not kind enough, not even lecher enough.  A
botched machine set in a country veiled with mist. . . .

He had crossed the fields, passed the little cottages of Seatoller
and the yews, and started up the hill to Honister.  On the left of
him Hause Gill tumbling in miniature cataracts with the recent
rain, on the right of him the ever-opening fells.  He drew great
gulps of air into his lungs.  That was for him, that unenclosed
fell.  As soon as he reached a point where the moss ran unbroken to
the sky all his troubles dropped away from him and he was a man.
There was no place in the world for open country like this stretch
of ground in Northern England and Scotland, for it was man's
country: it was neither desert nor icy waste; it had been on terms
with man for centuries and was friendly to man.  The hills were not
so high that they despised you; their rains and clouds and becks
and heather and bracken, gold at a season, green at a season, dun
at a season, were yours; the air was fresh with kindliness, the
running water sharp with friendship, and when the mist came down it
was as though the hill put an arm around you and held you even
though it killed you.  For kill you it might.  There was no
sentimentality here.  It had its own life to lead and, as in true
friendship, kept its personality.  It had its own tempers with the
universe and, when in a rolling rage, was not like to stop and
inquire whether you chanced to be about or no.  Its friendship was
strong, free, unsentimental, breathing courage and humour.  And the
fell ran from hill to hill, springing to the foot, open to the sky,
cold to the cheek, warm to the heart, unchanging in its fidelity.
As he breasted the hill and turned back to look across Borrowdale
the sky began to break.

He stared, as though the scene were new to him, to Glaramara and
then over Armboth to the Helvellyn range.  It was new to him: never
before had it held those shapes and colours nor would it again:
with every snap of the shuttle it changed.

Now across the Helvellyn line the scene was black and against the
black hung the soft white clouds.  Borrowdale glittered in sun like
a painted card, flat, emerald and shining.  Above his head all the
sky was in motion: beyond him over Honister tenebrous shadows
thrust upward to one long line of saffron light that lay like a
path between smoking clouds.  All the fell smelt of rain and young
bracken, and two streams ran in tumult across the grass, finding
their way to the beck.  The sunlight was shut off from Borrowdale,
which turned instantly dead grey like a mouse's back; then the sun
burst out as though with a shout over the low fells that lay before
the Gavel.  A bird on a rock above the beck began to sing.

He was filled with a delicious weariness.  He lay down there where
he was, his full length on a thin stone above the beck, and on that
hard surface fell happily, dreamlessly, asleep.

He woke to a strange sense of constriction.  He moved and found
amazingly that his arms and legs were tied with rough rope.  He
raised his head and stared into the eyes of a man who sat
motionless on a rock near him.  A horse grazed in the grass close

Francis stared at the man: the man stared back again.

'You sleep fast,' the man said.  'I bound you and you didn't
waken.'  He was a man with a thin dry face, long shaggy black hair,
a coat and breeches of some colour that had faded into a dirty
green.  He looked like part of the fell.  His legs were thin and
long and sharp.  He was not young, fifty years of age maybe.

'Why have you bound me?' Herries asked quietly.

'You are my prisoner,' the man replied.

'My body is--for the moment,' Herries answered.

The man was, from his voice, not of the North.  His tone was firm,
quiet, reflective.

'You are Herries of Herries in Rosthwaite.'

'Yes.  How do you know me?'

'I've seen you many times.'

'What have you against me?'


'Then why have you bound me?'

'You are my prisoner,' the man answered again.

'Yes; but why?'

'I have a curiosity to ask you some questions.  Would you come
peacefully with me?'


'By Honister.'

'Yes,' said Herries.

'You swear it?'


'Then I will untie you.'

He came forward and, quite gently, with some care, undid the bonds.

Herries sat up and felt his arms and legs where the rope had been,
but he had been bound only a moment or so: it was the binding that
had waked him.  Then he rose and stretched himself.  The man also
got up.  He was of great height and very thin with a long nose.
His face was pitted with smallpox marks.

They started to walk together forward to Honister, the man leading
the horse.  The air was deliciously fresh and the sky filled now
with little dancing white clouds.

'What is your interest in me?' Francis asked at last.  They were on
the higher ground, about to turn the corner, and before he turned
he looked back and saw, picked up by the sun, on the low ground
before Armboth a little wood of silver birch.  The sun hung over
the little wood in a brooding lighted mist and the thin silver
trunks stood up proudly, burnished.  Herries, because of what
happened afterwards, was never to forget them.

This fellow was a man of not many words, but at last he said, long
after Francis' question:

'Can you recall, once, many years gone, you gave your coat to a
woman by the road?'

'Yes,' said Herries, his heart beating.

'And once later on a Christmas night you talked with her?'

'I remember,' said Herries.

'I was there, that second time,' the man said.

'There was with her,' Herries said, 'a young child.'

The man nodded.  'The woman was my sister.  The child was her child
and is with me yet.'  He waited awhile and then went on.  'I bound
you because you would not have come with me else.  Or I thought so.
They say in the valley that you are the Devil and eat human flesh.

Herries looked at the man smiling.  'Do you think so?'

The man looked back at Herries.

'No,' he said.  'When my sister died she said I was to give you the
only thing she had.  I have kept it for you.'

'But why,' asked Herries, 'must you bind me to give it me?'

The man answered:  'Our place is rough in Honister.  We are in bad
repute here, my brother and I, though not so bad as yourself.  I
thought you would fight before you came, and because of my sister I
would not strike you.  Are you as bad as men say?'

'I am as bad,' answered Herries, 'as other men.  And as good.  We
are as the fancy hits us.'

The man nodded his head gravely.  'That's true.  One man's life is
this way, another's that.  We have little choice.'

They struck up the fell to the left and climbed.  The man led the
horse patiently and with kindness.  When they were high on the moor
they could see the guards of the mines pacing on the path below.

All the fell rolled beneath them now like the sea, and the clouds
rolled above them, driven by a sunny dancing wind.  On the brow of
the hill the man took Herries' arm, led him over boulders, dipped
down the shelving turf, then pushed up again on the hinder shoulder
of Honister.

Then, loosening his grip, he vanished.  Herries stood alone,
hearing no sound but the wind and running water.  He could see,
icily blue, the thin end of Buttermere Lake far below.  He heard a
whistle and saw the black head of the man just below him.  He went

He saw then the grey opening of a cave in the hill, fenced with
dead bracken and furze.  He followed the man in.  At first he could
see nothing, but could smell cooking food, an odd sweet scent of
flowers and a musty animal tang.  The man had his hand on his arm
and very gently, as though he were speaking to a child, said:  'Sit
you there.  You can sleep if you will.  The straw's dry.'  Francis
turned back, shifting the bracken a little; and the sun flickered
on to him, dancing before his eyes.

But he did not wish to look about him.  He was oddly incurious and
infinitely weary.  Why this weariness?  It was as though the kind
black-haired man had laid a spell upon him.  So he slept, long and
almost dreamlessly.  The nearest to a dream was that he was led
again through the incidents of the morning, following the lean man
over ever-darkening fell, then was pushed from a height and heard,
as he raised himself from a hard cold ground, a voice say to him:
'Into the cave!  Into the cave!  You have been outside too long.'

With that he woke, wide-eyed, oddly happy, extremely hungry.  He
sat up and looked about him.  The sun streamed in from the fell.
He could see all the cave, which was not indeed quite a cave, but
rather the opening of some deserted entrance to a long-neglected
mine.  In the black cavern beyond him there was a fire and on the
fire a round black pot.  A girl sat on the ground watching the pot.

At once he knew her.  Her hair, which fell all about her face and
almost to her waist, told him--there was no colour like that
anywhere else in the world; but something thin, poised, intent,
alert, independent, in her attitude also told him: his eyes saw
once again that figure never in all these years lost sight of, the
tiny child, crowned with its flaming hair, pressed back against its
mother's skirts.  Instinctively, he put his hand up to his cheek
and felt his scar.

He had found her again.  He had the oddest sense of having reached
the end of some quest, a sense of rest, of fulfilment, of
motionless certainty.

'Well?' he said quietly.

'Well?' she answered, without turning or taking her eyes from the
fire.  'So you've waked?'

'I've waked.'

'I never saw a man sleep so sound.'  Then after bending forward and
stirring the fire she added, but still not looking at him:  'So
you've come at last.'

'At last?'

'Yes.  I knew that you would come one day.'  Her voice, he noticed,
had the very same sweet, remote tone that all those years ago it
had had.  Seven years, and they were as though they were yesterday.

He got up and stretched himself.  His clothes were stuck with
bracken.  He came across to the fire, looking at her hair that was
dark in the cave like the sombre shadows in flame when the smoke is
thick.  Even now she did not look up.

'Well, I have waited for you too,' he said.

At that she turned and looked up at him, and as his eyes met hers
he knew two things: that he loved her and that he had never before,
in all his ventures, known at all what love was.  He knew,
instantly afterwards, a third thing: that he meant nothing at all
to her and that she would be glad when he went.  He knew that by
the way that she looked beyond him to the mouth of the cave, a
little impatiently, her mind on the fire and also on some possible
escape for her.

She was a child, under eighteen.  He was over forty.  This
folly . . .

But he could not take his eyes from her.  They were locked there,
and all his body moved in its inner spirit towards her so that
already, although his hand had not touched hers, his arms were
round her, his head, so heavy with fruitless work and anger and
impatience, resting on her child's breasts.

'How did you know,' he said at last, his voice husky, 'that I would
come one day?'

'Oh,' she answered, 'mother would speak of you, and my uncle, and I
would see you in the woods, Borrowdale-way.  I begged once of your
son by Stonethwaite.  He gave me a silver shilling.  He is the
finest man I have ever seen.  He has the grandest body.  But I
could never love him.  He is too thick.  But I have seen too much

'You are only a child,' Herries said, 'and cannot know.'  The force
within him was too strong.  Had it meant death in the next moment
he could not have prevented himself.  He put out his hand and
touched her hair.  But it did not mean for her anything at all.
She did not move her head but allowed him to stroke it as he would.

He felt that, and his hand came back to him.  Then she got up from
the fire, straightening herself.  Her body was very thin and still
a child's body, but lovely to him in its slender line, the long
legs and high carriage of the head and the lovely bosom, breathing
on the very edge of maturity.

'My uncle is out watching,' she said.  'The guards are active to-
day.  They killed two men last night.  Some day soon they will find
this place and then we must move on again.'

'What does your uncle do?'

'My two uncles.  Oh, they do what they can.  Steal from the mines
and sell to the Jews in Keswick, or they poach, or my uncle George
fights in the Fairs . . . whatever comes.  But they are hoping for
news soon from France.  Then we will go to Carlisle or Scotland

'From France?'

She smiled.  'They never tell me anything.  Why should I care?  It
is all the same to me.  One day they will be killed, and I shall
sell myself to some wealthy man.'

'You would do that?'

'And why not?  I must have food.  To feed my body, I give my body.
What is my body?  It is not myself.  That I keep for my own.'

'If your uncles are killed, you must come to me.  I will take care
of you.'

She looked at him, smiling.  'You are very ugly, and they say in
Borrowdale that you are very wicked.  I don't care if you are
wicked--but how rich are you?'

'I am very poor.'

'Then why should I come to you if I don't love you?'

'Because I would care for you and work for you and protect you.'

'Maybe I should lie with your son.  Would you still protect me?'

He turned his eyes away from her.

'Yes; even then.'

She put her hand lightly on his shoulder.

'No; if I ever came to you I would be honest.  My mother always
said a woman must be honest or she is nothing.  Men can be as
dishonest as they please.  That is the difference between men and
women.'  She smiled at him like a small child, enchantingly.  'I
would be honest if I came--but I will never come.'

Her two uncles crossed the light.  They were in excellent spirits,
amused by some joke they had had with one of the guards.  One of
them, Anthony, had rabbits and a hare.

They all sat round and ate.  The food was excellent: savoury meat
cooked in the pot, tasting of herbs and sun and all the rich juices
in the world.  There was good wine too.  The two men--Anthony was
round and fat, with a broad chest and short thick neck: he was
coloured dark brown and had sharp suspicious eyes like a ferret's--
curled up and went to sleep.

All through the sunny afternoon, while the clouds raced past the
cave's entrance driven by the wind, Herries sat where he was,
silent, watching the girl.  She sat quite near to him, sewing at
some garment and then afterwards lying back on the hay, the sun on
her cheek, and falling easily, comfortably asleep.

He sat there thinking of nothing, nothing at all.  He did not want
to move.  The air was cold although the sun shone, but he was hot
with a kind of fever; once and again he trembled.  Once he leaned
forward and touched her cheek with his hand.  He withdrew abruptly
as though he had, by so doing, pledged himself to some awful
danger.  But he did not think at all, neither of his past nor of
his future, nor of himself in any way.  He simply knew that his
fate had come and that what-ever way he turned now he could not
escape it.

He did not want to escape it.  He, forty-five years, she sixteen.
This child who cared nothing for him and perhaps never would care.
A child of vagabonds.  That did not matter.  He was himself a
vagabond.  They were both outcasts.  He sat staring there like a
drunken man or an idiot.  There was utter silence in the cave; only
the wind, rushing by outside, sometimes cried out like a struck
harp not quite in tune.

When the shadows began to lengthen and the sky beyond the cave was
a pale washed blue with no clouds in it, the men stirred and woke
together.  George looked gravely at Herries as though he were going
to lecture him.  Then he got up, found an old green box behind the
fire, fumbled in it and brought to Herries a simple rough silver
chain with a little crucifix of black wood on its end.

'This was what she left for you,' he said.

Herries expected that he would say more.  He had spoken in the
morning of questions that he would ask.  But he said no more, only
stood there as though dismissing him.

Herries took the chain.  He did not want to go.  He wanted with a
desire stronger than any that he had ever known to stay, but the
two men stood there waiting for him to go.

The girl had waked, stretched her arms, then walked to the cave
opening: the evening wind blew her hair so that it seemed to be
fire blowing about her head and against the grey stuff of her

'Hadn't you questions that you would ask me?' he said.

'No,' said the lean man.

'I don't understand why you brought me here.'

'To give you that.'

'Well, then, tell me your names.'

'I am George Endicott.  He is Anthony Endicott.'

'And the girl?'

'The girl's name is Mirabell Starr.'

'Maybe we shall meet in another place.'


'In Carlisle, perhaps?'


Anthony, the fat one, turned back into the cave as though the
matter were closed.  George held his hand out.

'I bound you because I was afraid you wouldn't come.'

Herries exchanged a handgrasp.

'That's no harm.  I shall keep the chain.  My thanks for the meal.
At Herries there's a meal for you.'

Then he went out of the cave.  He held out his hand to the girl.

Lowering his voice, staring into her eyes, he said:  'You have
promised to come to me if you are all alone.'

She answered like her uncle.

'Maybe,' she said.  She let him hold her hand, and for a moment, in
the wind that was now very strong blowing from the sea, his body
pressed against hers.

'I will be good to you,' he said.

'So they all say,' she answered, 'until they've got what they

'I shall never get what I want,' he answered.  He longed to kiss
her pale thin cheek, but the indifference in her eyes humiliated
him.  So he turned, bending his head a little, and went up the
fell, not looking back.


Mrs. Wilson stood, as was her habit, at the foot of the stairs,
listening and looking up.  No one was moving in the house.  It was
after mid-day.  She knew that Herries was digging at the back of
the house, that his son was away for that day in Keswick, that his
daughter was in Rosthwaite and Benjamin the servant at the stable:
she was therefore quite alone in the house.

She stood there endeavouring to make up her mind to what was for
her a great venture.  She was planning to go to Grange.  She had
not been out of that house for six months: she had not been in the
village of Rosthwaite for a year.  This enterprise of hers needed
immense resolution and courage.  Although, since early morning, she
had been summoning her will to this expedition, she was not yet
completely resolved on it.

Old Tom Mounsey, deaf and dumb, had contrived to send her word that
his wife Old Hannah Mounsey was dying and wished to see her before
she went.  Hannah Mounsey, once Hannah Armstrong, a gay and
beautiful young thing, was Katherine Wilson's oldest friend.  She
was now, like Katherine, so old that she didn't know how old she
was.  And she was dying.  She was the first human who had asked to
see Katherine Wilson for more than twenty years.

The old woman had been strangely stirred by the summons.  She was
so old that the days of her youth were as yesterday.  They were
very vivid and alive to her.  She saw Hannah still with red cheeks,
bright flaxen hair, and a blue gown.  She heard Hannah laugh as she
hid with Katherine in Statesman Armstrong's barn, while young
Johnny Turnbull had searched for her to fumble and kiss her.  Young
Johnny Turnbull had been hanged in Carlisle for stealing a sheep.
As everyone knew, it was not he who stole the sheep but Daniel

She was very old, but she could make the journey.  Her legs could
still carry her.  It would take her two hours or more to walk to
Grange, but she could do it.  It was not her legs that frightened
her.  Something else.

She was frightened of the outside world, and with reason.  The
outside world hated her.  They hated her as much as they were
afraid of her.

They said she was a witch.  Was she a witch?  She did not know.
They said that the troubles of the last year were her doing.  Were
they?  She did not know.  Sometimes she thought that they were and
felt an odd impulse of power.  Was it true that by crooking her
finger or nodding her head she could kill sheep, scatter the palsy,
burn hay-ricks, poison food?  It might be so.  She did not know.

It was not of course true that she could fly on a broomstick or
that she had danced naked with the Devil in Glaramara caves.

But she HAD danced naked in the woods one moonlit night.  That was
a great many years ago.  Many, many years.  She had had a child by
Joe Butterfield because of that dancing.  The child had been
happily still-born, and Joe Butterfield had been gored to death by
his own bull many years back. . . .  He had been a fine big young
fellow, with a tattoo of a mermaid on his chest.

She could not remember many things, and many things she remembered
in every detail.  But all that she wished now was to be let alone:
all the passions save fear had died right down in her.  Her love of
fun and gaiety, her recklessness, her vicious tempers, her courage,
her loyalty to those whom she loved, her passion for her son who,
after living in this house with her so long, had left her, all
these fires had sunk to grey ashes.  The only thing remaining to
her was fear.

The first time that she had been really afraid was one day shortly
before the coming of these Herries, when, walking out on the path
to Seathwaite, some boys had thrown stones and shouted 'Witch!'
after her.  Long before this she had been suspected of witchcraft,
she and Mary Roberts and Ellen Wade and Alice Leyland.  Alice
Leyland had been much older than the others.  It may be that Alice
had been a witch.  She had made an image of Gabriel Caine and burnt
it at a slow fire, and he had died within three days.

She had, too, her famous love-philtre, and Katherine herself had
mixed this in her own man's drink, a year after their marriage,
when he was going with the Hoggarty girl in Keswick.  It had not,
however, caused him to leave the Hoggarty girl, not until she had
had the smallpox and grown ugly.

The old woman sat down at the foot of the stairs.  Did she dare to
venture into Grange?  She sniffed danger in the very air, but that
might be her fancy.  Much of it might be her fancy.  She had stayed
alone in this house until she scarcely knew what she believed.
But, from the very beginning, there had been something about her
that set her apart from the others.  She had been a pretty girl:
they had all said so.  She had cared for men no more and no less
than the others, but the difference had been that men were not
enough: no, love was not enough, nor courting, nor childbirth, nor
any of the dreary, dull, day-by-day life in that dreary, dull

She must have excitement, but then, after that, it was not
excitement that she wanted, not excitement only.  She was curious,
inquisitive.  She wanted to see INTO things, and when she had seen
Alice Leyland and the others dance naked across the grass under the
moon and then vanish into the black wood she had been curious to
see what they did there.  So she, too, had danced naked into the
wood, and all that had happened had been Joe Butterfield's baby.

Had it not been for that odd sense of power that sometimes came to
her she would have left it alone.

But there had been hours when she felt that she held all the valley
in her hand to do with as she would.  She felt that sometimes even
now.  What was that accompanying her, lifting her up, taking her to
the very verge of some discovery?  Was it only her fancy?  In later
years she had yielded to the temptation to see in the eyes of
others that look of fear, of terror. . . .

When they came to her, as they used to do, to ask her to heal their
cattle, to help them with a lover, to injure an enemy, she had
always told them to go away again, that she knew no spells, no
charms, had no powers.

But they did not believe her, and she did not believe herself.  Had
she no power?  Why was it then that she would rise in the night and
walk to the window and see the shadows under the moon come flocking
to her call, and had she not killed Janet Forsse by looking at her
after Janet had called her a witch outside Rosthwaite Chapel?  Had
not Janet gone home, lain down on her bed and died?  That had done
her much harm, that death of Janet.  They had feared and hated her
from that moment.  She had felt the power rise in her breast, fill
her breast, well into her eyes.  But was that truth or falsehood?
Janet had eaten meat from a poisoned pot and so died. . . .

All her life she had wished others well.  Only when they insulted
her she must turn and defend herself.  And in these last years,
from loneliness, desolation, unhappiness, she had scarcely known
what she did.  She had made wax figures, watched from the window,
spoken sometimes with shadows.  Why not with shadows when no one
else would speak with her?

Everything had been worse with her since the coming of Herries.
From the first day she had hated the father and loved the son.  The
father had something in common with her.  Although she was an
untaught woman, and he was a grand gentleman, yet they shared
something.  He had looked at her and she at him.  It might be that
he was the Devil.  Some thought so in the village.  It might be.
He looked like the Devil once and again.  Perhaps he could answer
the questions that she never dared to ask.  She was afraid of him,
and she hated him.  She had always loved his son David since, as a
little boy, he had run first into the house.  All that was simple
and good and maternal in her responded to him.  He had always been
kind to her, talked to her, asked her how she did, and now that he
was the finest, grandest man in the valley she was proud of him, as
though he had been her work.  When his mother had died she had
wanted to protect and care for him.  He had not needed her--he
needed no one--but she prayed for him night and morning.

That had been until the last year, but in the last year fear had
grown in her breast, swallowing up everything else in her.

The thing that she feared most now was to dream, because in her
dreams she was quite unprotected.  So soon as she slept she was
outside the house in the naked road, or the house was without
walls, or she was on the mountain-side.  Then while she waited
alone in this awful space she could hear them coming, hundreds of
them; the present and past came together--Alice Leyland, Joe
Butterfield, Turnbull, Hannah Armstrong, and with them many
strangers.  But they all looked alike.  They had terrible faces,
and that look in the eyes of lust and hatred, curiosity and
pleasure.  Years ago, when a young woman, she had seen a boy stoned
to death in Keswick market.  They said that he had burnt a rick.
That look then had been in their faces.  It had been perhaps also
in her own.

In her dream they came always nearer and nearer, quite silent, and
she had no strength to escape them.  Then one had called 'Witch!'

She would awake trembling and the sweat would run down into her
eyes; then she would sigh with relief at the respite, and would get
up and touch the familiar things, the clock, the settle, the pots
and pans, to reassure herself.

When her son had left her he had said nothing, but had looked at
her once before he went, and the look in his eyes had held fear,
just as her own eyes held fear.  She had not tried to keep him.
Only after he had gone she sat and remembered all the things he had
done as a child and especially when he had sucked at her breast and
she had crooned songs to him.

And now should she go in to Grange?  It might be that it would
break the spell, it might be that she would meet folk who would be
kind to her, and, seeing Hannah again, she would recover her

She moved slowly back into the empty kitchen.  She was still
strong.  Her bodily health had been always amazing; she had never
known a day's sickness, and that, too, had made her sometimes
wonder whether she were not under the Devil's especial protection.

She stirred about the kitchen, raising her head, sniffing the air;
her brown face was a network of wrinkles, her hair was snow-white,
her eyes dimmed in vision.  She moved on her legs easily and with

Suddenly she knew that she was going into Grange: it was as though
someone had bent over and whispered in her ear.  The great grey
cat, with one eye green and one brown, her only friend in the
world, had come and rubbed itself against her legs.  It was he,
perhaps, who persuaded her.

Every witch must have a cat.  She had seen Alice Leyland once take
a glove that she had soaked in blood and water and rub it on her
cat's belly, murmuring some spell. . . .  What were the words?  She
had known them all once.  Words, words, words . . . words from
where?  They had come to her once, without her own desire: there
had been the day when she had seen Statesman Peel's man rubbing
between the horns of his oxen the grease from the Paschal Candle,
eyeing her as he did so.  Yes, then, against her own will, not at
all by her agency, the words had come to her lips.  He had seen her
lips move and had told them in the village.

But her cat.  She bent down and stroked it, letting her old dried
fingers press into the fur, liking to feel the cat's response as it
bent its back a little, stiffening, stretching its legs, its eyes
closing with pleasure.  She had thought often that her cat knew
more than she did.  Watching sometimes at night from the high
window she had seen it slip off across the fields, moving with
quiet secret purpose, just as Alice Leyland had once moved.  The
cat and Alice Leyland knew things that she would never know.

She went to the cupboard and found her cloak and high-crowned, old-
fashioned hat.  She found her crooked, gnarled stick.  She started

When she came into the path beyond the courtyard her heart beat so
furiously that she must stop: it leapt with wild angry stabs as
though it were telling her not to go.  For a whole year she had not
been beyond the courtyard.  She was encouraged by the stillness of
the world about her, not a sound save the running water that was
never silent, and the scrape, from behind the house, of Herries'
spade as it struck the hard soil.  She was always scornful of
Herries' labour; the soil here was like stone or mire, harsh,
ungrateful, contemptuous: it hated Herries as she did.  A little
pleasure stirred her heart as she thought of Herries' labour and
the small reward he had for it.

She walked down the path, moving with marvellous strength for an
old woman.  She thought that she heard the cat following, and she
turned to forbid it, but there was nothing there.

It was a grey, overhanging, autumn day with no wind: the light on
walls and trees trembled once and again as though thunder was
coming, but the leaves that still lingered, brown and shrivelled,
on the trees, never shivered.

She walked as she had lived, in a half-dream.  Sometimes it seemed
to her that figures were walking with her, sometimes that she was
alone.  When she reached the river she muttered a little with
pleasure, as though she were blessing it.  Perhaps she was.  This
river, the Derwent, had been part of her from birth.  Her parents'
cottage had bordered it: her first instinct as an infant had been
to find it, and now, because for so long she had not seen it, she
greeted it again as an old friend.  There had been a time in her
life when, if she did not see it every day, she was miserable.
From Seathwaite to the lake she had known every inch of it, its
deeps and shallows, its moods of anger, rebellion, calm, blue
content, shrill chatter, acquiescence, curiosity; its colours,
brown like ale, blue like glass, grey like smoke, white like cloud;
she had bathed in it, fished in it, sat beside it.  Often, shut up
in that house, she had listened to it, especially when it was in
flood; then it was happiest, most violent.  It was the only thing
in the world now that she could trust: it would never harm her.  It
did not care whether she were witch or no.

As she passed beside it now, happy in a dim confused way at
recovering it again, she seemed to speak to it, telling it how
sorry she was that it was shrunken, that its stones and boulders
must be exposed, and its voice have fallen to a murmur.  Never
mind.  The rains were coming again.  Patience, patience. . . .  And
as she looked her husband rose out of it, his brown tangled beard
wet, his eyelashes dripping water, his breast, thick with soaking
hair, exposed, his flanks too shining with damp fine yellow hair,
his toes crooked about the stones of the river-bed; his bare arm
rose up as he brushed his hair from his eyes as he used to do.  He
called out something to her, and his voice had just the old husky
growling note, but she could not hear what he said.

She walked on, resolutely, her stick striking the path, her head in
its high black hat, and very far away, beyond Grasmere maybe, the
thunder dimly rumbled.  She gathered confidence as she went: a
silly old woman she had been to stay in that dark house letting
fear gather upon her.  She would not wonder now but it was that
devil Herries that had put those thoughts into her head.  It was
himself that the people hated, and she had taken his contempt for
her own.  Just because, forsooth, some boys had thrown stones after
her and a labourer cast a word at her, she had hidden away and
missed her proper company.  It would be good to see Hannah once
more.  Hannah was dying, they said, but she would be able enough to
remind her of the old days when they had both been young and happy
together.  One kindly look from Hannah's eyes would be a fine
thing, and she would walk all the way back to Herries again and
show the village that she was no witch, but an old woman who liked
company and chatter and friendly faces in candlelight.

As she walked, strength seemed to increase in her.  She had no ache
nor pain in all her body.  She was still good for life.  Death had
not got her yet.  She breathed the air, even though it were close
and packed with thunder, and as the hill grew steeper by the Bowder
Stone, she set her knees to it and braced her back and climbed
bravely to the turning of the road.  Then, at the sight of the
Grange cottages across the river, again her courage failed her.
She was passing Cumma Catta Wood, a place that she had always
feared because, when she was a girl, young Broadley had drowned
himself in the pool there below the wood.  It was a pretty place, a
little hill thick with trees hanging over a broad pool, where the
river gathered itself together for a while and stayed tranquilly
reflecting the sky.  But they said that young Broadley haunted it,
and that, in ancient days, there had been pagan sacrifices there.
You could see the two projecting stones where the sacrifices had

The old woman moved on.  She paused before she crossed the bridge
that raised itself up like a cat's back over the divided strands of
the river.  The Grange cottages, huddled on the other side, seemed
to be waiting, watching for her.

Their faces were white, shining in the grey shadows of the thundery

She crossed the bridge, wondering that she saw no human being: she
must herself, to those who, behind dark window-panes, watched her,
have seemed a curious figure alone in that still grey landscape, in
her high hat and black cloak, tapping with her stick.

She knew Hannah's cottage, a little grey dwelling twisted like a
crumpled ear over the river.  She knocked with her stick on the
door.  There was no answer, and she had never felt the world so
breathlessly still.  The rattle of her stick on the door had been
so sharp that she would not knock again.  She pushed the door back
and went in.  The interior was very dark and smelt of damp hay.
Some hens ran squawking from under her feet into the open.  Her
eyes were dim and the light was dusk, but she soon saw that the
very old man, Hannah's husband, was sitting in a chair by a black,
empty grate and that a large stout woman was bending over him,
making signs with her hands.  But he did not look: he stared,
without any movement, in front of him.

The woman looked up and saw Mrs. Wilson.  She stared then with a
start of recognition, turned as though she would motion to the old
man, then turned again, and, with a muttered explanation, almost
hurled her stout body out of the cottage.  Mrs. Wilson could hear
her feet hastening over the cobbled path; once more there was
breathless waiting silence. . . .

The old man could not hear her, could not speak to her.  She was as
old as he, but he looked infinitely older.  He was a little man
like a grey nut, and on his head he was wearing a bright-red
nightcap.  It was of no use to waste time with him, so she fumbled
her way up the twisted wooden staircase.  Half-way up she paused:
she was suddenly very tired.  Her legs were aching and she was a
hundred years old.  The door of the room at the stair-head was open
and she went in.  A large four-poster bed with faded red hangings
occupied most of the room, placed a little unevenly on the crooked
wooden floor.  Hannah Mounsey was stretched out on the bed in her
grave-clothes, her long, thin face, with the closed eyes, looking
spiteful, because the mouth had fallen in and the sharp brown chin
stuck forward aggressively.

So Hannah was dead, an old grey bag of bones under the long white
clothes.  This was young Hannah with the flaxen hair and blue gown.
There was a faint odour in the room, and a mouse scuttered across
the floor.  Beyond the dim, diamond-paned window you could hear the
Derwent carelessly running.

Death was nothing odd to Mrs. Wilson, yet peering half blindly over
the bed she shivered.  She would not be greeted by Hannah, then;
her journey had been fruitless.  Suddenly she felt a deep sorrow
for herself.  Hannah was gone, the only one who in all these years
had sent for her.  Nobody now wanted her at all.  To pass from this
dead house to the dead house Herries was all the same.  And yet she
had the capacity still to love someone, to take trouble for someone
or something.  She was not dead, as Hannah Mounsey was, and she had
a sudden vision of herself coming out on a sunshiny morning,
sitting outside her cottage, other neighbours gathering round, all
of them chatting, laughing together.

Then something made her prick up her ears: she did not know what it
was, but it was something that caused her altogether to forget the
dead woman on the bed.  Fear leapt into her body.  Her legs were
trembling, so that she caught the post of the bed.  She had a sense
of being trapped, and yet when she listened again there was no
sound, only the careless running of the river.  Nevertheless, she
knew that there was reason for her fear.  She looked about the
room, at the looking-glass, the wooden box painted with red hearts,
a chair with a thin curved back.  She listened, her head bent
forward, her hat a little crooked.  There was a sound behind the
soundlessness: the still air was full of it, and the odour of musty
decay in the room grew with every second stronger.  She must get
out, get away, get to Herries.

Although her legs that had been so strong were now trembling like
slackening cord, she found her way down the wooden staircase.
Nothing was changed in the room below.  The old man in the red
nightcap still sat there without moving, staring in front of him.

She pulled back the door, peered out on to the ragged garden, and
beyond it the grey smooth running water, and beyond that the field
rising to Cumma Catta Wood.  Then, although no sound reached her,
she turned and stared, across the cobbled path, into a group of

Men and women, close together as though for protection, were
gathered at the end of the cobbled path.  They stood, huddled
together, not speaking, staring at her.  Although she could not see
well and was so deeply frightened that it was as though her heart
were beating in her eyes, yet certain faces were very distinct to
her.  One belonged to a large stout man in a brown wig and green
coat and breeches.  His face was red as a tomato and his eyes wide
and staring.  There was the smooth white face of a young woman; a
face with a black beard; there was a young girl's face, very fresh
and rosy, with a mole on one cheek.

She looked back behind her; there was no way out there, only a
thick rough-stone wall.  They could easily stop her if she ran in
front of the river.

She walked forward towards them, leaning on her stick because her
knees trembled so badly, and at her movement a hoarse whisper broke
the thick air:  'T'witch . . . t'witch . . . t'witch.'  She
stopped, rubbing at her eyes with her hand.  The people stood and
she stood; then, not knowing what she was doing now, she turned
back towards the cottage door.

Her movement released them.  A second later two had her, one, the
big red-faced man, dragging at her arm, the other a little man with
a hump who caught her with twisting hands round the waist.

She heard someone cry:  'A trial!  A trial!'  She tumbled on to her
knees, not for supplication but because, her legs shaking as they
did and the man dragging her, she had no strength.  She looked now
a ridiculous old woman, her hat knocked sideways, her head bent,
one thin arm up as though she were shielding herself.  But having
gone so far with her they paused.  The two men stood away from her.
The rabble--for it was now a great crowd, some having run and told
the others what was toward--broke into every kind of babel, some
shouting one thing, others another.

Meanwhile she stayed there murmuring:  'Oh, Christ save me!  Oh,
Lord Christ save me!  Oh, Christ save me!' but her thoughts were
like wild terrified birds flying from one place to another, so that
she was thinking of her knee that was cut by the sharp stone, of
Hannah lying dead, and of a great weariness that had seized her,
turning all her body to water.  But mostly she was afraid of the
large red-faced man.  Then, in the pause, life coming a little back
to her, she looked up and searched some of the faces to see whether
there was kindness in any of them.  With a horror that was the most
terrible confirmation of all her earlier fears, she realised that
all these faces had that look that so often, alone in Herries, she
had anticipated: the look of lust and hatred, curiosity and
pleasure.  And they all seemed strangers to her.

As was perhaps to be expected, it was a woman who took the next
step.  A long, thin, elderly woman whose head wagged on her neck as
though it were loosely tied there.

Crying out something in a shrill, high voice like a bird's, she
rushed forward and, bending down, struck the old woman on the
cheek.  It was as though that had been a signal.  The crowd tumbled
across the path, loosed, it seemed, by a word of command.  A funny
babble of sound came from them, not human, not animal:  'Swim her!'
'Swim her!'  'Sink or swim!'  A little girl danced delightedly
round and round, like a leaf spinning, crying:  T'witch! . . .
T'witch! . . . T'witch!'

Inside the cottage, the widower of Hannah Mounsey sat staring in
front of him, hearing nothing, seeing Hannah as a young, laughing,
fresh-faced girl.  He moved his hand a little, enclosing with his
arm her waist.

They dragged Mrs. Wilson along the path, bumping her head on the
stones, pulling her by her feet and her hands.  They tumbled her
out on to the green sward between the bridge and the river.

Then again they stood back from her.  She crouched there, her head
hanging forward.  Her hat was gone, her white hair was loose about
her face, her gown was torn, exposing her withered brown breasts;
she clasped her arms together over these.  Tears trickled down her

There was a desperate impulse in her now to say something, but she
could not speak.  Her terror urged her that if she could only make
them listen she would persuade them that she was no witch, but only
a harmless old woman who had never done any harm.

But she could not speak: fear constricted her throat, and her
tongue moistened her dry, dead lips.  Her other thought was that
soon they would hit her again.  She bent her head over her arms to
shelter herself from the blows.

The crowd now had no individual consciousness.  Some cried that
they must take her to the little house at the back of the village
and that she must be tried there all in proper order and decently.
But these were the minority.  The others must see her swim; then
they'd know whether she were witch or no.  Then there was a
moment's strange silence.  Every voice fell.  For an instant the
only sounds were the very distant rumbling thunder, the running
river and the old woman's crying, a whimper like a child's.

Three women ran forward.  They bent down over her; shouting they
tore her clothes from her.  They threw her clothes over their heads
into the crowd.  They tore her flesh as they dragged her things
away.  One stood up, tugging at her white hair, and so she pulled
the thin, bony body up, raising it to its knees.

Someone threw a stone.  It struck the body between the breasts.

Then the stout, red-faced man, shouting as though he were
proclaiming some great news, called for order.  Everything must be
done properly.  No one should say that they were out of justice.
He strode forward, laughing.  He caught the body in his arms, then
dropped it again as he felt in his breeches pocket, from there
brought faded green cord.  He took the body again and roughly, as
though he would tear one limb from the other, took the right foot
and fastened it to the left hand, the left foot and fastened it to
the right hand.  So trussed, she lay motionless.  Then suddenly
raising her face, which now streamed with blood, she sent forth two
screeches, wild, piercing, sounding far over the crowd out into the
village, down the road.  Then her head fell again.

Triumphantly he raised her in his arms, holding her, her head
against her knees, as a woman might an infant.  He danced her for a
moment in his arms.  Then he ran forward, the crowd shouting,
yelling, laughing, and up the bridge some children ran that
they might see better, singing and dancing:  'T'witch . . .
t'witch . . . t'witch.'

He lifted his stout arms and flung her out, high into air.  The
little white body gleamed for a moment, then fell, like a stone,
into the water.

Herries straightened his aching body and leaned on his spade.  He
had been clearing a patch of hard, stiff ground.  Later there
should be an orchard here: he saw it in his eye, the strong,
gnarled trunks, the blossom, the apples hanging in shining
clusters, the sun blinking through the leaves.

He spat on his hands and bent again to the spade.  Around him
nothing had grown well save a strange ruffian-like grass that had
sharp-pointed blades like jagged knives.  Some stunted blooms, some
ragged naked vegetables.  It was the wrong place, the wind caught
it too fiercely, there was not sun enough, the soil was too
resolutely stubborn.  Meanwhile, to the house many things should be
done.  Windows were broken, pipes had fallen; one corner towards
the hill had tumbled right in, and stones lay in a careless heap.

Nevertheless, the house looked stout and obstinate, its colour was
of a pale gentle ivory, stained here and there with orange and
pink, stains of rain and wind.  Its feet were dug resolutely in the
ground.  It was alone but not lonely, defiant but not complaining.

Herries raising himself again, turning to look at it, loved it.

He saw fat Benjamin, sweat pouring from him, hurry towards him.

'They are drowning Mrs. Wilson, by Grange Bridge, for a witch.'

He turned and listened as though he expected to hear something.
Only a faint rumble of thunder over Grasmere way.  He said nothing
to Benjamin, but dragging on his old faded long-skirted coat,
strode into the yard.  Benjamin, silent as himself, brought out his

At once, without a word to one another, they rode off along the
rough track to Grange.  Then, after a little, Benjamin, in the
husky voice which ale, weather and stoutness of body had produced
in him, explained that he had been riding back through Portinscale.
Passing Grange he had heard that the old witch Wilson was in
Mounsey's cottage, saying spells over his dead woman, and that they
were going to have her out and 'swim' her.  He had hastened on to
his master.

Herries had long been expecting this.  He did not doubt but that
Mrs. Wilson was a witch.  He had a horror of her for that.  He was
glad that now she would be out of his house.  He felt no pity, no
sense of a hunted thing, of a crowd lust-baiting.  Such feelings
were not of his time, class or education.

Had he been a magistrate and she been brought before him with
evidence of her dirty dealings, he would have condemned her without
hesitation and watched her sentence without a shudder.  But here he
also was involved.  His pride drove him to protect his house.  They
would touch one of his servants?  He would see to it.  He hated
them as he rode, the whole dirty foul rabble of them.

Then as he went something else moved in him.  Since his day in the
Honister cave a new element had stirred, a kind of softness, a glow
of unanalysed, almost unrealised kindliness.  He had not wanted it.
He would scorn it if he dragged it into day-light.

But he did not drag it.  It stayed within him like a secret fire
that burnt stealthily without his feeding it.  Every little thing
was happier to him now than it had been.

His gaze softened, even now as he stared through the trees at the
river, pounded up the hill, saw the humped bridge and the crowd at
the water's edge.

He leapt off his horse and came down to them.  He spoke to no one.
As he came to the stream he saw an old white bundle of flesh with
hair that streamed behind it rise, eddy in a little pool, sink

He plunged in, waded up to his thighs.  The crowd said no word.
The body rose again right at his hand.  He plunged his arms in and
caught it, dragging it to his breast.  The head wagged against his

He turned, standing and looking at them all for a moment, then
breasted his way back to the bank.  On dry ground he felt his hands
chill against the bare flesh, so he laid the sodden body delicately
on the ground, took off his faded coat, wrapped it round, then,
holding the little corpse like a child against his shirt, strode up
the hill, all the people silently withdrawing from him.

He mounted his horse and rode away.


As they rode through the rocking wood, the wind tearing at their
heels, Herries talked to David.

It was the wild stormy afternoon of Friday, 8th November, 1745.  It
had been Herries' suggestion that they should be riding to
Carlisle.  For months now he had been longing for this.

In the Scots Magazine for July, at the barber's in Keswick, David
had read:

'There have lately been several rumours of some designs upon
Scotland or Ireland by the Pretender's eldest son.'  Then, a month
later, at that same barber's, it was said that there had been a
landing in Scotland.

Now this very morning Keswick was frantically buzzing.  The rebels
were in Jedburgh.  At any moment they would be South. . . .

Francis Herries had shown no interest.  His mind was elsewhere.
David even was surprised at his own indifference.  His principal
thought was of Father Roche.  After all these years his chance had
come!  After all these years!  David was a child again riding under
Cat Bells, his body tight between Roche's thighs, and that
beautiful, persuasive voice in his ears:  'Even as our Lord
suffered . . .'  But he was practical now, was David, a grave
and serious man with a liking for the steady security of the
reigning dynasty.  He had been prospering lately.  He had bought
land near Cockermouth.  He had an interest in two vessels trading
from Liverpool.  There was a farm at the back-end of Skiddaw
that he might buy if things went well.  He had no hunger for
rebellions. . . .

But the romantic soul still breathed close to his heart.  The
memory of Roche could stir it, some woman one day, but most of all,
now and ever, his love for his father, this strange man, removed in
temperament, thought, passion so far from him, so mysterious and
alone.  Of late so silent, but united to him as no other human
being was united.

Therefore when, quite suddenly, in the dark hall at Herries last
evening, his father had said:  'Shall we ride to-morrow to
Carlisle?' David had at once agreed.  No more than that.  No reason
given.  In all these years at Herries David had been only once to
Carlisle, his father twice.  But it seemed that now, riding alone
together, they might come to some fresh intimacy.  It must come
from Herries.  David was a man of few words and deep shyness in
close relations.  There was something, too, in the isolation of
Herries that drove speech deep down.  They talked less and less in

They were silent out of Keswick until they rode into the woods
below Skiddaw.  A terrific wind was surging among the trees; all
the wood was rocking, and light mists spun and shifted over the two
humps of the mountain-top that were powdered with snow thin like
smoke.  Beyond the wood Bassenthwaite Water was whipped into curls
of white and an angry spray.

Herries began to speak, his thought that had followed its own
secret course ever since they left Herries breaking into spoken
word:  '. . . When I came to the river's edge she was bobbing, a
white bundle, in the water.  I strode in and picked her out, and
they stood there while I carried her off.  At that moment, David,
when I held her wet and sodden against my body I felt something new
in me.  I had been coming to that as I had been coming to many
things through these years. . . .  She cried against my heart
although she was dead.  She cried something, telling me a road to
go.  She was a witch and foul-living.  In all those years that she
was with us, David, I don't doubt but that she was evil.

'But she had been alone as I also had been alone.  They hated her
as they hated me.  Not that I care at all for their hatred, but
there was a bond in our loneliness.  I had always known it.'  (He
thought, as he went on:  Why am I telling him this?  He can never
understand that loneliness.  He will never feel this thing that I
feel.)  '. . . I have had to bear my difference all my life, David,
as she had to bear it.  By no choice and no wish.  I have no faith
in God.  I have never had; but for those of us who are different
there is a compulsion to listen that is almost a faith.  Nature, I
suppose, chooses once and again to separate a few from the rest.
She understands them and speaks to them.  But why should we who are
thus separated expect human nature to understand?  Human nature
must protect itself.  I perceive that it must be so.  Human nature
is narrower than Nature, less wise and less secure.

'We who are different cannot come into that general company,
however we may desire it.  It is our lot.  Myself, I do not grumble
at it.  What have I ever done worse than these others, than Pomfret
or Harcourt?  But every dice has been loaded against me, every act
removed me further. . . .  Nothing strange there, since it is
understood.  Think you that she was a witch, David?'

Through the groaning of the boughs and the rocking wind David's
voice came out sturdily:

'Most certainly she was a witch, father.'

'Yes . . . most certainly.  They were cruel because they were
afraid, and I was compassionate because I, too, have suffered.  Do
you think it has meant nothing to me that I could not be like other
men?  I, too, have my pride, my sense of honour, my friendliness,
although it does not do to speak of these things.  But with them
all, my brothers, my wife, my mistresses, my children, that final
intimacy has been forbidden.  Only with my own kind could I be
intimate, and I could not find my kind.  Often I have wished to put
my case' (Herries thought:  I am putting my case to him now and he
does not understand it at all, not a word of it), 'but my case has
not been their case.  I am, in some sense, it must seem to them,
against Nature, but it is not against Nature but rather against
human nature.

'Nevertheless, there is compensation in loneliness.  I am growing
to find that.  There is strength in it, and a compelled wisdom.  I
learnt that from the witch.  The evil that she knew was not so
weighty as the strength that she caught from her isolation.  They
might stone her, but their stones would not bring her into their
company nor would they stay her.  Nothing can stay us, no physical
death.'  (He smiled to himself thinking:  All these words go to the
wind.  He has not caught any of them.)

And David, stolid on his horse, his back broad as a wall, his head
finely set, was thinking:  'He is talking to me now as man to man.
He has never before done that.  But this talk of feelings: I can't
be with him there.  What's the use of it?  I love him whatever he
is, different or no, but it's uncomfortable to speak openly about
love. . . .  Easier here, though, with this wind blowing and the
trees creaking.  If the Calliope does well this voyage I could pay
a price for that farm.  It will mean leaving Herries.  It must come
to that one day.  But not yet.  I must take Deb with me and that
would leave him alone.  I can't leave him alone; and he wouldn't go
from Herries.  But one day if I marry, which I shall . . .'

He felt the cold rain on his face and the wind swooping down and
then up again.  He threw back his head, stretched his great chest,
turned to his father, smiling:

'Maybe, father,' he said, 'you force yourself to be different by
thinking that you are.  Folks take one for what one says one is.
You have always refused them, thought poorly of them, frightened
them maybe.  Will you never leave Herries, father?'

'Leave Herries?'

'Aye.  Maybe I'll buy that farm at the back of Skiddaw--
Penhays. . . .  John Tennant and I have done well lately with the
Calliope and the Peggy Anne.  If this Pretender doesn't upset the
world. . . . Herries is a hard place, father.  No soil, no sun,
rock and mire. They have this thought of you in the valley and
will never be rid of it.

'But at Penhays you could have your own land and work it, and it
would be brighter for Deb. . . .'  He waited, then continued more
shyly.  'Uncle Pomfret loves you, father, at heart.  I know he
does.  Aunt Jannice is sick now and has little say.  My dear cousin
Raiseley is in London.  If we were at Penhays we would be more in
the world.  At Herries . . .'  He broke off, afraid suddenly, as he
had so often before been afraid, of his father's anger.  Some word
would be spoken and all the good of their talk be gone, and they
would ride on in offended silence.  David had his own temper in his
own way and it showed most easily with his father, simply because
he loved him most.

But to-day he need not have been afraid.  His father turned to him
with a strangely childlike, ingenuous gaze as though he were
David's junior and had been asking advice from him.

'Herries is a bitter place for you and Deborah.  I've always known
it.  But for me there is none other nor ever can be.  I'm held
there and it's for ever.  But you will go, of course, when the
right time comes.  And, for that, I may not be alone.  It may be
that, one day, I shall marry again.'

The rocking wind, as though driven by that word to a frenzy of
derision, cracked in his ear:  'Marry again!  He'll marry again!
Crack!  Crack!  Crack!  He'll marry again!'  David brushed the rain
from his eyes.  Marry again!  He thought that his father had done
with women.  For a long time now there had been no sign of any
traffic with them.

'Well,' he said, 'have you seen a woman?'

'Yes . . . there is someone.  She is a child.  She could only need
me through weariness and fear of loneliness.  But I am in love
again.  Again!  I have never loved before.  I am very happy in the
mere thought of it.'

David had an instant of deep comprehension and of an aching
affection for his father.  With a swift vision of imagination, born
only through love and exceedingly rare with him, he saw his father
as he had been, so handsome and grand.  As he was now, his face
disfigured, his body gaunt and bent with digging and grubbing. . . .
Could a woman care for him now?  A sense of his father's isolation
came over him as it had never done before.

Now, however, they had come out of the woods and were in open
country across which the icy rain was blowing in furious sweeps.
On a good day a great stretch of land spread grandly to the Firth
and the hills behind it, but now everything was blotted out.

For Herries, although to-day he could not see, this coming into the
open was like walking out of a house and closing the door behind
him.  That was why he chose this route, because he loved it.  The
regular riding path was by Threlkeld.  That little world of hills
and lakes was gone in an instant, folded away.  On a clear day you
could look back and see Skiddaw, the Helvellyn range, the group
above Stye Head, Grasmoor and the rest lying gently like lions
above the land, their heads resting on their paws.  One step and
you were in a new world, a world as romantic perhaps in spirit as
that other, but not this, as beautiful but not with this beauty.
That odd sense of magic, so that with one foot forward you lost it.
He would always, on reaching this spot, know a little shiver of
fear that when he came back again that lovely country would be
gone, a mirage dreamed of by him and by him perhaps alone.  But to-
day in his head he carried with him the rocking wood.  The trees
creaked around him long after he had left them.

The wind fell: the rain drew off: the air was colder.  The thick
sky watched them maliciously and once and again sent down a flake
of snow to spatter their eyes.

They had come into new country in another sense.  The cottages and
farms that they passed gave them a consciousness of agitation.
Women stood at the doors.  A man called after them some question.
A horseman rode past them furiously towards Carlisle.  Unconsciously
themselves they drove their horses faster, the mud scattering up
about them as they went.

'The Pretender may be in Carlisle ere this,' said David suddenly.
'What then?'

'We'll ride back again,' said Herries.

'What do you think, father?  Has he a hope?  In Keswick they wished
him back in France, to a man they did.  Disturbing their affairs.
It's odd to remember it, but I thought it a fine thing as a boy
when Father Roche spoke of it.  Now, because I may buy a farm, I
see other things.  Is Roche in Carlisle, do you think?'

'Yes, so I fancy.  When I was a boy at Seddon, in '15, thirty years
ago, there was a peacock screamed under the hedge by the pantries.
I thought him the finest, most defiant bird in the kingdom, and
when they were out in '15 he was like the Old Pretender, that bird.
I had a fancy about him that if their foray failed he'd die; and,
sure enough, he died.  Died of spoilt pride.  I've always thought
rebellion a grand thing, but now I don't know. . . .  I love this
ground and the men on it, although they'd thank me little if they
knew it.  If Charles Edward has his way, every field will be blood-
stained.  Either way my peacock dies. . . .  No, he can't win.
He's too late.  And if he wins it can be only for a moment.
Hanover's a hog by my peacock, but he's made his sty of our home,
and it's quieter for him to lie there.  I told Roche once that the
notion of beauty to a plain people like the English is too
upsetting.  They stand by their stomachs.  They are poets only by

The scene cleared: the sky lifted and the snow fell faster.  A man
on a horse passed them, then drew up and waited for them.

He was a short fat man on a short fat horse, hunched forward rather
absurdly, not a good rider.  He had a dark-crimson coat with silver
buttons: his face was round, red and anxious, rather a baby face
with open wondering eyes and startled eyebrows.

'I beg your pardon, gentlemen--'

They drew up their horses.

'Are you for Carlisle?'

David said that they were.

'What news have you?'


'Ah, things are bad.'  The little man looked at them beseechingly,
as much as to say:  'Be kind to me.  Tell me some good news, even
though it's lies.  Tell me anything, only that I may calm down and
regain my dignity.'  It was plain enough that he was frightened of
Francis Herries, who, straight on his horse, his scarred face
showing pale and impervious under his broad black hat, was silent
and grim enough.  David, with his health and ruddiness and open
smile, reassured him.  He confided in him.

'You see, gentlemen, I'm riding out of my way, but I had the news
at Sockbridge last night that the rebels were in Jedburgh, and that
they were already moving South.  My God, they may be in Carlisle at
this instant, and my poor wife and Hetty . . . I said to Mr.
Wordsworth--Mr. Richard Wordsworth, Superintendent of the Lowther
Estates, I was to-day staying under his roof, my worthy friend;
maybe you know him, gentlemen?--'Sdeath, Mr. Wordsworth, I said, it
can't be that they are in Carlisle already, and our house in
English Street, the very centre of the town, my wife sick of a
nervous complaint these last five years, ever since William Gray,
the best surgeon in the whole of Carlisle, gentlemen, cut her for
the bladder.  And it isn't as though Hetty had a head on her
shoulders neither.  The sight of a soldier makes a fool of the
child, and these breechless Highlanders are beyond law, as we all
know well enough.  Eh, gentlemen, forgive this uneasiness, but I
fancied that you'd have some good news, maybe of a defeat or a rout
and the Pretender taken, or driven back to France again, where,
Heaven is witness, it were better for him to have stayed.'

The words came with panting eagerness, but there was a childish
simplicity and good nature behind them that won David, who was as
childish, simple and good-natured as himself.

'I fear, sir,' he replied, 'we can give you little comfort.  We are
riding from Keswick where we had only the news that you yourself
have had.  We know nothing of what is happening in Carlisle.'

The little stout gentleman looked anxiously about him.  'It's
cold,' he said, 'and the snow is in our faces.  Would you give me
the courtesy of your company?  With every step we may be meeting
danger.  I am no coward, but I will confess that this news has
quite unnerved me.  It is only what I have been expecting these
thirty years, but that it should drop on to us when I was away from
home and my wife none too well . . .'

'Certainly we will keep company,' said David cheerfully.  'I think
you are unduly apprehensive, sir.  We should have heard, I am sure,
were the Pretender already in Carlisle.  I scarcely think that the
Royal troops will allow him so much advantage.  If one may go by
the common feeling in Keswick the sense of the country is against
him, and a company of raw Highlanders is hardly a match for an
English army.  Moreover, the farther they come from their own
Highlands the less stomach they'll have for the job.'

This was the kind of comfort that the little man was needing, and
in return for it, as they went forward, he gave them all his
history.  His name was Cumberlege, John Cumberlege of the Moor
House, English Street, Carlisle, and he was a corn-dealer like his
father before him.  He had had three children, and two had died in
infancy, one of the staggers and one of the croup.  He had been
twice married, and Hetty, his only child, was of the second
marriage.  He was of good standing in Carlisle, and numbered among
his friends there the worthy Dr. Waugh; young Mr. Aglionby, Mayor
of the City; Thomas Pattinson, Deputy-Mayor; and Colonel Durand,
Commander of the City.  They might see from this how safely they
might trust themselves to his company.  He had also much to say of
his late host, Mr. Richard Wordsworth, who had but recently been
appointed Receiver-General of the County of Westmorland.

Altogether, as they jogged along, he recovered in this general
recital of his famous friends a good deal of his natural confidence
and genial humour.

David was glad of the little man's companionship.  Francis Herries
had fallen into one of his grim and arrogant moods again and would
vouchsafe not a word.  The afternoon was early dark, and there was
a spectral air over the scene.

Indeed, the uncertainty of the situation influenced David in spite
of himself.  Moving thus through the cold dusk over a flat and
silent land one could not be sure that at any moment one might not
stumble upon the whole of the Prince's army.  Where were they?  How
had they fared?  It might be that this adventurer was truly
destined for some glorious success and England would fall into his
hands like a fine plum?  Then back the Catholics would come again
and with them the French dominance, and who knows after that the
sequel?  At this all the Herries English rose rebellious in David's
soul.  He wanted no French power here nor Catholic either.  It was
at this moment, perhaps, little Cumberlege pressing near to him,
the few chill snowflakes striking his cheek and a great silence on
every side of him, that he knew once and for all what he was.
Scottish ancestry or no, he was English Herries.  Men and women for
two hundred years afterwards were to have some consequence in their
lives from this moment of conviction.

Little Cumberlege asked them where they were lodging in Carlisle.

David told him that they had no settled place.

'Then, sirs, you must come to us.  To be frank with you, I shall
relish your company.  There's no man in the house but the boy
Jeremiah, and he's a witling with a wall-eye.  I only took him to
pleasure his father, who did me a service in '32, the year they
hanged Humpy Dillon for sheep-stealing.  You're a man of your
inches, sir,' he added, looking appreciatively up at David, 'and
might render us a service at a dangerous pinch.'

David looked at his father, who said no word.  He smiled at the
eager excited little man, the skirts of whose crimson coat stuck
out from his fat buttocks as though with an indignant life of their

'For to-night at least,' David said, 'we'll take you at your word
and thank you.'

A strange world had now come up about them, for the wind had
dropped, the snow ceased to fall, and instead a fog rolled in thick
grey folds across the fields.  This fog was to take a great part in
the alarms and fears of the coming days: many, looking back
afterwards and telling their story, gave it a personal form and
body as though it were a creeping devil of an especial malignancy
created by the Pretender himself.

David, who was never given to vague imagination, himself felt it an
oddly alive thing.  It came creeping towards them, now slipping
along the road on its belly, licking the horses' hoofs, then
raising a white swollen arm, wreathing their necks with it, then
slipping away again, mounting into a wall in front of them, closing
about them, stifling them, blinding them, dropping again to a thin
shallow vapour that swathed the hedges with spider-web.

For Herries, it filled his dreams.  For half an hour now he had not
realised where they were nor cared.  He rode forward, possessed by
his vision.  Since the word 'Carlisle' had, carelessly perhaps,
passed Mirabell's lips it had been his one thought to go there.
But with that burning impulse came also the resolve not to be
defeated by it, because he felt that, let him surrender to it, and
he would be beaten.  Some prevision of the future told him that
this journey taken through the fog, into the Lord knew what, was
the beginning of a pursuit for him that was far more than physical,
and, being spiritual, must fail in its aim.

He stared through the fog, her body, her soul, dancing in front of
him.  A child who had given him no single thought, a vagabond,
ruthless and heartless perhaps, intolerant certainly of any of the
bonds that he would put upon her.  But all his history had led him
to this, his rebellions, scorns, arrogances, dreams, self-
contempts, Alice Press and the like, his wife Margaret, every woman
whose tongue he had ever twisted beneath his own led him to this.
He wanted nothing for himself, only to be good to her, to know that
she was happy, that she had what she wanted.  That she had what she
wanted!  Ironic, ironic desire, for it would not be himself that
she longed for. . . .  And so he rode on.

They came upon Carlisle quite suddenly and were challenged at the

Carlisle had at this time a population of some four thousand
persons, the majority of these living within its walls.

The Castle Walls and Citadel had still their original force: the
Castle was held by a nonresident governor and a company of
invalided veterans: the city gates were shut at the firing of the
evening gun.  Nevertheless, its life as a centre of warfare was now
still and dead.  The union of the kingdoms of Scotland and England
had silenced the Border warfare, turned guns into knitting needles
and cannon-balls into peppermint rock.  Here, perhaps, lay the root
of the Prince's advantage, that any Scottish invasion of England
was by now undreamt of in Carlisle and the town was in no way
prepared for it.

On this evening the bustle at the gate was tremendous.  The Herries
would most certainly not have been admitted had they been alone,
but their little friend, Mr. Cumberlege, had not said too much
about his popularity in Carlisle.  Especially did a large, pompous
and terribly flustered military officer appear delighted to see
him, even to the extent of embracing him.  He was not, Mr.
Cumberlege explained, sotto voce, a real and proper military
gentleman, but rather a volunteer, in his time and natural state a
wealthy bachelor with a taste for wine and a talent for the game of
bowls, moreover a relation of good Doctor Bolton, the Dean of
Carlisle.  He had in his private garden a fountain with a naked
mermaid who blew water out of her tail, considered by many a

At the moment he was thinking of neither bowls nor mermaid, but was
in a dreadful flutter of indecision.

Scouting parties had been sent out to discover, if they might, the
Rash Adventurer's (such was the title decided on by those who
wanted to land safely in the ultimate result) whereabouts.  That
afternoon, so Mr. Bolton told Cumberlege, Lieutenant Kilpatrick had
advanced beyond Ecclefechan and sighted a body of rebels.  A
Scottish quartermaster, seeking quarters for his troops in
Ecclefechan, had been seized and was now in Carlisle Castle.  That
was as much as was known for the present.

A strange contrast was to be found in Mr. Bolton's manner, he
suddenly rapping out most authoritatively a military order, then
sinking his voice to a nervous, confidential murmur with John
Cumberlege, who was as apprehensive as himself.  They made a funny
enough pair, their contrast in size, their bodies starting at every
sound, and once when a horseman clattered over the cobbles suddenly
clutching one another as though for protection.

They rode up English Street to Cumberlege's house, which was a neat
little Georgian building with a brass knocker on the door showing a
sea-fish swallowing a trident, and a sundial on the lawn by the
street, and a fine little gate with small dragons on either side of
it.  A good light burning in a cresset over the door blew in the
wind.  The street was deserted.  The fog had cleared, and the sky
was full of cold and glittering stars.

'Come in.  Come in, gentlemen,' said Cumberlege, looking about him
before he opened his front door as though he scented a Highlander
round every corner.  'It's a poor hospitality I shall offer you,
taking me unexpected and my wife an invalid, but--' and here he
dropped his voice still further, 'there's wine in the house.  Wine
too good for the Highland rabble that's coming upon us.'  And then
to himself, as he unfastened his door:  'Poor Bolton!  Poor Bolton!
I'll wager he wishes himself back safe with his mermaid.'

Half an hour later they were seated in Cumberlege's gay little
dining-room, a beef pie, an apple tart and some of the finest
Madeira in front of them.  It was a handsome little room with dark-
red wallpaper hung with scenes from Mr. Gay's masterpiece, 'The
Beggar's Opera,' and a handsome oil painting of Mr. Cumberlege's
grandfather in a green coat and ruffles, over the mantelpiece.  A
noble old gentleman with a face like a codfish and a neck so thick
that it was no wonder to hear, later in the evening, that he had
died of an apoplexy.  Silver candlesticks, a glass bowl of oranges
and figs, a fire in the hearth, the curtains warmly drawn, and best
of all Cumberlege's daughter Hetty, who was as pretty a dark child
as David had ever seen.

Two things were very plainly visible: one that to John Cumberlege
this daughter was the life and light of his being.  He sat with one
stout arm round her and fed her with figs as though she had been a
child in arms, his eyes moving ever and again about her pretty face
with its nose a little snub, its eyelashes beautifully dark and
long, its rounded chin and soft cheeks, as though all his happiness
were there.

The other evident fact was that the child had fallen in love with
David at sight.  She sat there shyly smiling at him, her cheeks
flushed, her eyes burning with pleasure and adventure.  She was in
a dress of white calico sprayed with pink roses, as David was long
after to remember.  A pretty face was a pretty face to David.  Many
times of late he had thought that he must fall in love, but Keswick
did not offer so many varieties.  Now he wondered whether his fate
were not here.  It was not, but it was near enough to make his
heart beat, his tongue stammer and his big body move clumsily as
though, in spite of itself, it must be impelled towards her.

John Cumberlege too, perhaps, as he looked across the table at
David, had his dreams.  It was true that he knew nothing about
these visitors of his, and the elder was alarming in his
taciturnity and grim seclusion, but you could not look at the
younger Herries and doubt him.  Honesty was in every glance, every
breath, simplicity, a courageous rectitude.

For Hetty Cumberlege this threat of the Scottish invasion was a
grand and enchanting game.  Was it true that the Prince was the
most beautiful young man?  When he came to the city would there be
routs and balls as she had heard there had been in Edinburgh?  For
herself she didn't care what her father thought; she was all for
seeing him, and it would be a wicked shame were he stopped before
he got to Carlisle.  But he would not be.  He was already there.
He had been at Ecclefechan that day.  Perhaps to-morrow he would be
in the city, and if there was a ball she had no dress fit to wear.
But oh, she was glad her dear father was safe (this with an
especial hug of her father, a blushing glance at David).  Mother
had been in a great way all day and hadn't had her afternoon sleep
and had been bled again this evening, and she had run to the window
and the door a thousand times to see whether he were not coming,
and would there be firing and the windows broken and people

Why shouldn't the Prince come into the town if he wanted to?  That
was the feeling of most of the militia anyway, and it was only that
old jackanapes Colonel Durand who was for everybody fighting.  She
was sure that no one wanted to kill anyone else, the idea was
perfectly horrid.  And as the Madeira mounted into David's head and
the weariness bred of his long forty-mile ride dazzled his eyes, it
seemed to him that he was already kissing those blushing cheeks and
stroking ever so gently that bare and gleaming shoulder.

Francis Herries said no word beyond mere politeness.  He could not.
He saw the figures of little Cumberlege and his daughter, the
silver candlesticks, the glittering glass about the fruit, the
portrait of old Cumberlege senior, in a thin and gauzy dream.  He
was here in Carlisle, and every beat of blood in him urged him,
weary though he was, to go out and search for her.  It seemed to
him that there was more than mere vague urgency in this.  Opposite
him where he sat was a small round mirror with a dark oak frame.
Its glass was blistered and cracked with age, so that the candle-
flame flickered and redoubled in it, and the colours of the room,
dark crimson, white and green, were a blurred and mellowed fog.
Staring in it, half-asleep maybe, the voices coming to him with a
faint chirping hum, he seemed to see that child Mirabell step into
the mirror, break the misted colours, turn to him that strange,
cold, indifferent face, gravely surveying him, oddly and harshly
inviting him.

He pushed his napkin and wine-glass from him and asked his host to
excuse him while he found a little air in the street.  His head was
hot and he must cool it before he went to his bed.  He was aware
that they felt, all three of them, a certain freedom from restraint
at his departure.

In the street the wind had now quite fallen and only, as though
dropped by the multitudinous shining stars, thin flakes of snow
fell lazily as though they were too indifferent to reach the
ground.  No one was about.  There were few lights in the windows.
The sense of suspense might have been his own imagining, but it
seemed to him that behind the doors and the windows folk were
listening.  He could hear the hearts throbbing, could see the eyes
straining, and over his head and about his body the stems and
branches of the rocking wood seemed still to be beating and
groaning.  He had been in that wood all day.  He was not clear of
it yet.

As though led by a guide at his elbow he turned up a dark and
narrow street that was as silent as an empty pocket.  On his right
there was a light blowing above the name, 'The Silver Horn.'  Here
as well as another place.  He pushed back the heavy wooden door and
stumbled on to the uneven stone floor of an inn-room filled with a
rough glare of men, women, smoke, thickly smelling of dried fish,
tobacco and stale drink.

He sat down at a long deal table, men, countrymen, farmers, making
easy way for him, too deeply intent on their talk to consider him.
A thin wasp of a serving-man brought him some ale; a heavy thumping
clock, hiccupping once and again as though it had taken in the
drink as steadily as its customers, tick-tocked just above his
head; a parrot, whose bright-green colour he could just see swaying
on a perch through the smoke, called out in a thick husky caw; and
still through it all the wind and creaking of the morning's wood
kept him company.

He discovered soon enough that there was only one topic and
that the natural one.  Where was the Pretender and where his
Highlanders?  Even now they might be at the walls.  What would
Durand do?  What Pattinson the Deputy-Mayor, young Aglionby being
safely away in the country somewhere?  What would the Dean and
Chapter do?  What would the Cumberland and Westmorland Militia do?
What was everyone going to do?  Were they all to be blown to bits?
What was Wade going to do?  What was the King in London doing that
he hadn't sent any reinforcements?  Didn't he care what happened to
old Carlisle, and if he didn't why should old Carlisle care what
happened to the King?

Ah! but those Highlanders!  Here fear crept through the smoke,
skins went shivering, the tick-tock of the old clock took on a
deeper tone.  Those Highlanders. . . .  Hadn't you heard, then, of
what they'd been doing in Edinburgh and Glasgow, of the women
they'd been raping and the destruction they'd been causing?  The
story went tonight that back at Kelso Spital they had shot all the
sheep, hanged all the farmers, drunk the warm blood of the sheep
like so many cannibals.  There was the tale, too, of the farm-wife
at Langholm who refused to tell the rebels where her husband had
hid the horses and cattle, she lying in bed with a new-born child.
She refused, even though the rebel officer threatened her with
cutting down the beam that supported the roof of the farm-house.
He cut away at the beam, but it stoutly withstood, and the house
was spared.

And what of Carlisle?  What is the good of holding out, the Castle
as rotten as it is, the Gate not covered by any outworks, the Wall
over the Lady's Walk very low with neither parapet nor flank to
defend it, the old gateway not defended by any flank, and we having
nothing to oppose seven thousand rebels save a few invalids? . . .
Surely better, then, to let the Pretender come in under guarantee
of decent behaviour on both sides.  Hick, hick, hick, stammered the
clock.  It was then that, staring through the smoke into the light
of the roaring fire, Herries saw Mirabell.

This gave him no sense of surprise nor question of undue
coincidence.  It seemed to him the most natural thing in the world
that she should be sitting there, and his only sensation was one of
great happiness, a happiness oddly tranquil and secure.  He had at
first no ambition to speak to her, only to sit there and know that
she was alive and in the same room with him.

He could not, from where he was, see her very clearly.  She was
wearing an amber-coloured hat with a feather in it and a deep dark-
red cloak with a high collar; he could see, from where he was, that
the cloak was faded and old.  He could not deny but that she seemed
bedraggled and shabby.  He could not distinguish her features, only
sufficient to know that it was surely she, but indeed where else in
the world was there hair of such a colour?  It was piled up,
burning between the tawny colour of her hat and her white neck, a
fire in smoke and under creaking windy trees.

He was half-asleep, perhaps, with weariness, or the heat of the
room bemused him, but after a little while it appeared that he and
she were quite alone in the wood and that they rode forward
silently to some unknown destination.

After a while he wished to see her more clearly, rose from where he
was, pushed through the farmers and countrymen and came to another
place across the room.  He was sitting in a corner now, near the
fire, quite close to the bright-green parrot; it was fiercely hot,
but he did not feel the heat.

He was beside her now, and at once his heart was shot through by a
sharp and intolerable agony.  That was no exaggerated figure of
speech.  It was like that.  He felt the pain before he realised the
cause.  This cause was that, beside her, his arm around her red
cloak, was a young man, a fellow of little more than twenty
perhaps, yet a boy with a boy's fresh colour, a boy's laugh, a
boy's bright eyes.  Those eyes were fixed on her and her eyes on
his.  That they loved one another, and to a pitch that excluded the
scene and everything in it, was clear to any casual onlooker.  How
sharply, deeply clear to Herries, in whose ears might be echoing
yet the crash of the derisive boughs.  'Crack-crack!  Crack-crack!
He means to be married!  He means to be married!'

As he watched he saw her hand come out and take the broad brown
hand of the young man.  Then she smiled at him, a shy, delicate,
happy child's smile that drew her, although they did not move, deep
into the young man's heart.

Her note for Herries had always been her remoteness; he had never
seen her intimate with nor close to anything.  He had never dared
to imagine how she would look when she was in love.  His only hope
had been that she had never known what that was, and so he had
wondered whether he might not be the first to teach her.  For he
had taught in his day many lessons in love.  Now he knew that that
would never be.

When some control came back to him he studied the boy carefully.
He was dressed roughly in a dark coarse coat and homespun breeches,
and gaitered to the thigh for riding.  His body was slim and well-
formed, he carried his head high: everything about him was honest
and upright, strong and smiling.  He was a proper man.  It was
after concluding this (and his pride allowed him to flinch from no
challenging comparisons) that Herries noticed a third figure.  This
was a thick, short, black-bearded fellow who sat behind the pair,
swinging his legs from the table-end.  His face was covered with a
shaggy black beard and his hair lay in a black tangle over his
forehead.  There was black hair on the back of his hands.  He was
dressed soberly and cleanly, and his large, steadily open, black
eyes never left the face of the girl.

Once and again he said a word to her, but when he spoke it did not
rouse the girl, who smiled at the boy as though it were he who had
spoken.  But they were all three of them very quiet, not joining at
all in the conversation around them, making a little world and
history apart by themselves.

For Herries it was as though a new fresh chapter of his life had
opened.  When we fall in love the desire in us is so strong that we
argue a like desire in the other, and stay cheated so long as we
may.  Well, his cheat was over, but he was in no kind of way
released from her.  He realised at once that he was only the more
strongly bound because he would never forget now how she looked
when she was in love, and would never again be able to defend
himself against her with a sense of her remoteness.

Often since the day in the cave, lying on his bed, working in the
field, riding solitary up Stonethwaite, standing on Esk Hause and
seeing the valleys glitter and smile beneath him, he had wondered
how she would look at him the first time that she knew she could
trust him.  For that was what he had meant to do; by great
kindliness and patience to make her trust him as she had never
trusted anyone before.  Now he knew that that would never happen.

He saw, too, how all his actions since the day in the cave had been
for her.  He had never once been free of her.  When he had taken
the witch from the river and held her to his heart it had been this
child that he had held.  All the new compassion and softness that
had lately been growing in him so that the sterner, more ironical
part of him had been frightened at the change and tried to drive it
away, all this had been from her.  It had been as though he had
been educating himself out of the nastiness and pride of his
earlier life, so that he might be ready for her when she came to
him: and now she would never come.

She would never come.  The trees of the wood gathered about his
head very thickly and now with silence because the wind had died.
The green parrot swung from bough to bough watching him with beady
eyes.  Then he heard her speak, and her voice was as deeply
familiar to him as though he had been in company with it all his

She spoke to the parrot.

'For a penny,' she said,' I'd wring your neck, you evil bird.'

The young man, looking at her as though he would drown her in his
love, answered in a voice that was roughly boyish and eager:

'I shall buy the bird for you.'

And she answered, holding his hand very tightly:  'Two is company.'

The black-bearded man behind them swung off the table and stood,
thick and stocky, looking up at the parrot.  He went up to it and
stroked its neck.  The parrot bent its head, eyeing him obliquely
with a beady eye.

Herries had seen enough.  He went out, into the street.


Herries woke early the next morning, and under a sharp agitation of
disturbance and fear.  The room in which he was lying was foreign
and strange to him.  His eyes slowly picked up one thing after
another; the faded green hangings of his bed, the uneven boarding
of the floor, a print hanging against the dark panel of the wall,
showing apprentices playing football in the Strand, and another
with a crudely coloured presentation of Bear-Baiting.  On an old
chest under the window was a bowl of thick green glass, rough in
texture so that the colours of the green glass seemed to shift and

The light from the window was dim.  There was no sound anywhere.

Where then was he?  With a rush as of charging horses, events,
pictures, words came back to him.  He sprang from his bed as
though, at once, he would hasten out into the street and start
about his affairs.  He went to the little window and pushed it
back.  A thin, wet, wispy fog met him.  He was in the house of Mr.
Cumberlege of Carlisle.  He was also in the 'Silver Horn,' and
close to him Mirabell Starr was looking into the young man's eyes,
while the green parrot rocked on its perch.  And he was in the
ground behind Herries, digging while Glaramara humped its back over
him and the light came down in misty ladders over Stye Head, and he
was rowing slowly from Lord's Island, while the water slipped in
ripples of steel from hill to hill.

He passed the back of his hand across his eyes, pulling himself
together.  He was here in Carlisle.  The Prince and his Highlanders
. . . Mirabell . . . this green bowl above whose colours the thin
fog shifted. . . .  His hand touched his bare chest and felt for
the chain and the wooden cross that Mirabell's mother had left for
him.  He had not been without it since that day, and now, as his
hand touched it, a new determination came to him: that he would
find the child and talk to her and see how he might serve her.  She
was not for him and now would never be, but he might help her.

He stretched his legs and his arms, smiled; his face just then was
kindly, not sardonic, but a little old and rough, battered and torn
above his body, for his skin was fair and delicate like a woman's.

The door creaked open, and David came in.  He was in an excitement
unusual for his calm temper.  He was fully dressed.

'Father, what are we going to do?  They say this morning the town's
under siege.  There's a fine to-do, and half the city's downstairs
swearing the militia are going to give in before they are fairly
started, and the other half's in the street screaming about the
Highlanders, and there's a fog so thick you can't see the back of
your hand.  Are we going to stay here?  I doubt if we can get out
now if we want to.'

'Of course we stay,' said Herries, sitting on the bed's end and
swinging his bare legs.

'What did you hear last night when you were in the town?'

'Oh, naught, but that a parrot has green eyes.'

'Old Cumberlege loves me like a son this morning.  He's plucky
enough for himself, but his lady and his lady's woman are raped
already by bony Highlanders in their imagination.  They can't tell
whether to be sorry or glad.  The girl's brave, though.  She calls
me her brother.'

David grinned and put his arm around his father's bare neck.

'So we're to stay here?'

'Of course we're to stay, seeing we can't get out.'

'But who are we for?  The Prince and his Highlanders?'

'For ourselves.'  Herries stood up, stretching his arms.  'We're in
a green city with warlocks and witches.  Take care of the witch
downstairs, David.  Or love her if you wish to.  A fog's the place
for true love.  My stomach's empty.  Is there any food in this
siege, or do we live from now on upon snails and puppies' tails?
And water.  There's a tin basin here, but no water.'

'I'll fetch you some.'

David returned with a bucket of water.  He watched his father
bathe.  'You're strong.  Stronger than you used to be.'

'Aye, I'm strong--and damned ugly.  The fog's to my advantage.
Hast kissed the girl downstairs, Davy?'

'Yes, I kissed her.'  David was crimson.  'She liked it.'

Herries, drawing on his hose, laughed.

'Good enough now.  There'll be tears later.'  They went down the
crooked stairs, arm-in-arm.

But that day went for nothing.  For the most part father and son
were together, walking the town, watching the country people (for
it was Martinmas Hiring Day), listening to a thousand silly rumours
and stories.

At three in the afternoon there was a real sensation.  A party of
fifty or sixty horsemen appeared on Stanwix Bank, overlooking the
city.  The road was crowded with country people going home.  When
these were cleared away the ten-gun battery of the Castle fired,
but the troopers were in safety by then.

Francis was in his little room washing his face in the tin basin
when the guns fired.  The floor seemed to quiver; the little panes
of the windows rattled; a scatter of birds flew past, and there was
a woman's scream, shrill and sharp, through the house.  Then

He went to the window.  The fog was clear and the sky silver with
threads of blue above the crooked roofs.  He leaned out.  On a
cobbled corner of the side-street (he could see only a fragment of
it) a man stood, looking up.  Herries had the oddest fancy, seeing
dimly in that faint afternoon light, that it was the pedlar
standing there, the pedlar whom he had not seen since that
Christmas night of the duel. . . .  Oddly like him, with a peaked
cap, the thin straining body.  He fancied that he could certify the
sharp, piercing eyes.  He stepped back into the room in whose dusk
the green glass bowl was the only light.  Of course it was not the
pedlar, but the fancy held him.

He yet seemed to have the echo of the guns in his ears, and the
woman's scream.  What was to happen to him here?  An odd burning
shiver ran through him like the first warning of a fever: he knew
in that second, staring into the green glass of the bowl, that one
of the crises of his life was approaching.  He knew it quite
certainly.  He did not care for his life--it was not of so precious
a quality to him--but this crisis that was coming was of deep
import and would change, whichever way it went, all his fortune,
physical and spiritual.

He knew it, as though the guns had blown away a veil from his eyes.

He went out to see what was toward.  The country people were all
hastening home.  There was a stir in the Square like a scare among
sheep when a wolf is by.  Little groups collected like flies round
sugar, and yet over all the bustle and movement there was a strange
hush as though no one dared to raise a voice.  He heard the names
pass back and forth:  'Wade,' 'Durand,' 'Aglionby,' 'Waugh,'
'Pattinson.'  The pigeons came strutting at his very feet, and
above the roofs the sky suddenly tossed up arms and wreaths of red
and gold, proclaiming the setting sun.

He turned his steps towards the Cathedral.  In the Close everything
was very still.  Someone stood in a side door of the Cathedral
looking up at the flaming sky.  It was as though everyone he saw
were straining an ear for the sound of the guns again.

Someone was speaking to him.  'A fine evening, Mr. Herries.'

He turned, as one turns in a dream, because he knew the voice.  He
passed his hand before his eyes, and in his ears the cannon dimly
sounded, for it was Mirabell Starr very quietly standing there.

'I have followed you, Mr. Herries--most indecently.  I saw you ten
minutes ago.'

She looked at him with that clear-eyed indifference so known to
him.  But she was pleased, perhaps.  The sky sank to smoky grey,
and he could scarcely see her face.  The bells chimed five o'clock.
But she was glad to see him, less indifferent than she had been.
He caught that and cherished it.  She looked a baby, wearing the
same shabby red cloak.  His heart throbbed.  He held himself
sternly at attention, his arms stiff at his sides, lest he should
touch her.

'I'm bold to address you.'

'No,' he answered.  'I'm well pleased.'

She saw in his eyes that he was worshipping her, this odd, ugly,
elderly, scarred man.

She was frightened, perhaps, and for the honest child that she was
wanted to put everything in a clear, defined light.

'I followed you--' she caught her breath a little.  'I wanted to
tell you. . . .  There at Honister, when we talked, I told you that
I didn't believe in love.  Well, now, you were kind and asked me to
come to you if I needed anything, and my mother trusted you, so you
must know I am very happy and I love someone, and he loves me.'

'That is good,' he said sternly.  'And it is a good man you love?'

'Yes, it is a good man.'

'He will care for you?'

'Oh, always.'

'I am happy.  But you should not be here.  This town will be
dangerous now.'

'I have been in danger all my life,' she answered.  'Danger is
nothing--for myself,' she added hastily.

Then, smiling at him so sweetly that his heart ached, she said

'I wished you to know.  Good night,' and was gone.

He stood without moving, for how long he did not know.

There was a bitter, almost despairing, pain at his heart, such as
he had never known before.  He had always been too proud to despair
of himself, but now, under the black shadow of the Cathedral, he
really despaired.  He was isolated, ostracised, hateful to all men.
At once, at first sight of him, these Cumberleges had drawn
back. . . .  That he could face, but now, all pride flung aside, all
fear of weakness discarded, he felt the bitterest anguish.  Because,
for a moment, he had been in touch with a kind of joy, a sort of
happiness that he had not known before existed.  He had seen it in
the distance, stretched his hand, touched its wings; it had flown.
Sternly, his back against the Cathedral wall as though he were
hammered on to it, he stared in front of him, his palms gripped.
He had not known before that his love for her was so deep that the
hooks of it were in his very entrails.  He knew now, and that he
would always love her so.

On the following morning, the Sunday, Francis and David were
summoned to the defence of the city.  The fog was this morning
thicker than ever and added to the general confusion and increasing
alarm.  Every kind of rumour was about.  No one knew where the
Prince and his army might be.  Some said that he was already inside
the city.  Some said that Wade and his forces were marching to
relieve them, others that they were to be left to their fate, their
children would be eaten alive, their women raped and the houses
burned to the ground.

Among the most gloomy of Carlisle's citizens was Mrs. Cumberlege,
who continued to scream from her bed of sickness.  At one moment
she succeeded in staggering as far as her doorway (rumour had it
that she could have staggered a great deal farther had she so
wished) and crying:  'The Highlanders are here!  The Highlanders
are here!  Help!  Help!  We are all to be murdered!'

This was, of course, desperately upsetting for Mr. Cumberlege, who
was forbidden by her to leave her defenceless in the house.  At the
same time he wished to do his duty as a loyal citizen and surrender
himself to Colonel Durand's orders.  It ended in his slipping, with
Herries and David, off into the fog, and leaving her in the care of
her beautiful daughter.

They went to the Castle and were enrolled for defence.  Prospects
were not cheerful.  From the room in which they stood, crowded
about with an extraordinary tumbled and disorderly mixture of old
men, young men and boys, they could hear the echo of trowel and
hammer on the city walls.  The original garrison was but eighty old
'invalid' soldiers.  The guns were so ancient that they were
reputed to have been, in the jest of the drinking-bouts and tea-
parties, Boadicea's.  Durand had augmented them with ten small
ship's guns brought from Whitehaven, and the old ruined walls were
now in course of being altered that they might fit these.

Forty townsmen were in charge of the Whitehaven guns, and another
eighty served the Castle artillery.

Confusion was the more confounded by the bringing from neighbouring
towns and villages of small companies of militia, but their arms
were of different bores, and every man made his own ball fitting
the size of the piece.

All the worst trouble, Herries soon perceived, came from these same
militia.  Colonel Durand had proposed that the militia officers
should do duty by detachment from their several companies, but this
they emphatically and turbulently opposed, and drew lots, among
themselves, for their posts.  The result of this was that there was
no order nor discipline, and men wandered where they would and were
already demoralised and fatigued.

As the morning drew on, the confusion in the room where Herries was
grew ever more active.  Men ran about like children, crying out,
fingering arms in so uncertain a manner that it was likely at any
instant that one would blow another to pieces, starting up and
running to the windows, chattering, crying, shouting, now boasting,
now bewailing.  An old countryman stood near Herries, an ancient
man with a long grizzled beard who, again and again, called out:
'Who is for the Lord?  Who is for the Lord?'  Little Cumberlege
walked to the window and back, stopping every other minute by
David, whose strength and imperturbability seemed to give him an
immense satisfaction.  It seemed to be impossible for the present
to come near Durand, who was in an inner room.

Then, about mid-day, the fog rolled off, and a young man with a
long yellow face like a turnip came in shouting:

'They are upon us.  The whole army.  At the very walls.'

He had scarcely spoken when the guns were heard to fire.  'That's
from Shaddon Gate,' someone cried.  There was a moment of
transfixion when everyone stood, not seeing what to do, where to
go, waiting for they knew not what.  Then two men ran in, shouting

'We have beat them.  They are retreating.'  And almost at once the
fog came down again, blotting everything out.

Some said now that they had retreated all together, others that it
was but a blind, others that they had marched round to the other
side of the city and were already creeping about the streets.

Some swore that they could hear the skirl of the Highland pipes.
Even for Herries who, in such an affair, had no unsteady nerves,
there was an odd thrill from the knowledge that in the brief
interval of clarity the whole of the Prince's army had been seen at
the very walls.  It was true, then.  They were in the real heart of
this situation, not imagining it.  Shortly there might be--nay,
surely would be--massacre and bloodshed.  And where would she be in
this?  A chance bullet?  A drunken Highlander?  His whole body
trembled. . . .  The old countryman clutched his arm and peered
into his face.

'Who is for the Lord?  Who is for the Lord?'

It was late in the afternoon before he and David were marched off
to the part of the wall that was their post.  As they marched
through a portion of the town it had a weird effect, because the
order had gone out that there were to be lights in all the lower
windows, darkness in the upper.  The fog, too, hung high, so that
they seemed to be stepping along a stream of uncertain watery glow,
while above them was a bank of blackness.  All was silent; behind
the lighted windows there was no sound.  Against his will every man
was listening for the guns.

No one spoke.  They might have been moving to some secret
rendezvous.  Herries had at his side a short, round, very stout,
little man who groaned, panted and seemed to be bursting with some
tremendous secret.

They paused at a lighted corner while their destination was
settled.  At once the little fat man, whose face was beetroot
colour (his head trembled with a queer jerky movement), burst into
the middle of excited, despairing sentences as though he were
continuing a long, already uttered speech.  He caught Herries' arm
and held it, and this oddly pleased him.  There was someone in this
foggy world who did not shrink from him.

'. . . The eldest but five and a half. . . .  One every year, and
the five of them alone in the house with their grandmother, deaf as
a post, to mind them. . . .  I said to them that I would not be
gone a half-hour, and what service can I be with a musket, serving
out butter and sugar for the last twenty years? . . .  But what do
you think, sir?  Shall we beat them off, do you think?  My sister
would have been in to mind them, but only two days back she was on
a visit to Allonby to her brother-in-law, as indeed I told her at
the time that he was but inviting her to take advantage of her.
He was never a man, from his boyhood up, to do a thing and not
expect anything back for it, as Margaret my sister has herself said
many a time . . . and the children crying their hearts out in the
dark. . . .'

The light from a flare that someone carried swung in the breeze, as
though a tongue were licking the cheek of the fog.  In that sudden
illumination Herries saw two things: that David was not with him
and that quite close to him, almost in touch of him, was Mirabell's
young lover.

At that knowledge he caught his breath as though he expected a
blow.  The boy (for he was little more) stood stiffly, his head
upstaring straight into Herries' face.

He did not, of course, recognise him, but he looked at him as
though he would know him.  And yet he was looking beyond him.
Herries saw now that he was not seeing anyone.  He was swimming
deep in his own thoughts, and his mouth was smiling.

The order came again to move forward.  The young man was very near
to him.  It was as though he had been placed there in David's

The little fat man stayed close at Herries' side.  Whistling
ejaculations came from between his lips.  'Eh, sirs! . . .  Eh,
sirs!'  'The pity of it!  The pity!'  'The waste in this town!'

Mirabell's boy, the second coincidence.  First the 'Silver Horn'
and now this.  He felt a dead weight upon him, as though he were
caught in some trap.  The conviction that had been with him in his
room when he heard the first gun, came back to him, that he was
moving to some deep crisis in his affairs and that all his future
would depend on the way that he now acted.

Oddly, at the very first sight of him under the flare, he knew that
he hated him.

Inside the wall they took their places.  Someone came round and
told them where they were to go, and that at a certain time they
would be relieved.  At once it was evident that there was no
discipline.  The fog had lifted again and a few faint, very small
stars could be seen.

Men were moving about, talking to one another.  The fat man, his
hand once more on Herries' arm, was about it again.  '. . . Only
yesterday, being Martinmas Hiring, I engaged the girl, but when she
saw the trouble in the city nothing would stay her.  I offered her
a double wage if she'd bide with the children.  She'd be safer,
too, here than out in the country, but when they fired that cannon
it frightened her.  Not a word would she hear. . . .'

The young man stayed at Herries' side as though he knew that was
the place for him.  Yes, he had a fine, clear, noble countenance.
No fear there, no meanness.  His slim body was strung to the full
height of discipline and obedience.  Still on his lips was that
little, happy smile.

Herries, as though under command, spoke:

'The fog clears,' he said.

The young man turned as though he had been recalled from a great

'They must be at our very feet,' he said.  'It will be cold before
dawn.'  He smiled, then he added:  'I have a friend who was with me
until ten minutes back.  We wished to be together.'

Three men came past, peering.  One of them stopped.

'I have found you,' he said.  That thick growling voice was guide
enough for Herries.  He knew that the company was now completed.
The face, with its black hair, peered close at Herries.  Herries
could see him again as he stepped to the parrot, tickling its neck
with his finger.

'I had lost you,' the young man said.

'I am never lost,' he laughed deep as though in the coils of his
stomach.  'Well, sir,' he said to Herries, 'this is a play.'

Herries nodded, turned away, looked out to the grey web of the
night, its texture dotted with lights that seemed to sway and
stagger because the mist came in drives, advancing and retreating.

They took their places, quietly, the three of them together, and
stood there without moving.  An immense time seemed to pass.  The
cold grew very intense.

Herries thought:  'Here I am, these two with me, not by my own
choice or intention.'  He felt growing up in him the old man that
he had by now, he thought, discarded.  Something seemed to him to
come through the night and the fog and the cold and place in him
one evil thing after another, as you pile stuff in a cupboard.
'And now this I'll add.  And now this.  Yes, and this we must

Evil things, lecheries, lusts, cruelties, meannesses, desires to
hurt, to maim, purposeless maliciousness.  And he himself seemed to
look on, coldly and with external deliberation.  All his love for
the child, Mirabell, was tarnished and coarsened.  He now lusted
for her in exactly the way that, in his younger days, he had lusted
for many women.  His hands touched her hair, her small child's
face, her little breasts, her waist, her knees, coldly, with desire
but no fine passion.

His evil thoughts spread over the walls into the dark plain beyond.
He saw the Prince's army encamped, and it seemed to him that he
could stare into every tent.  Each place was peopled with evil men,
men cruel and mean and lascivious as he was.  They were crawling
over the country, carrying naked women on their backs, naked women
whose hair was loose about their bodies and down whose faces tears
were pouring.  He saw a farm, the house, its windows shuttered for
the night, the farm buildings stacked with provender, the animals
sleeping in their places, the master in the upper room asleep, his
head resting on his wife's breast.

Through the gate, a little bent man, a flare in his hand, crept.
He stooped lower, setting the flare now here, now there.  The
flames sprang up.  The byres were caught.  The animals screamed.
The fire ate the walls of the house with greedy avaricious
gestures.  White faces were at the windows.  There were screams,
cries, odour of burning flesh.  The woman, held in her man's arms,
watched the flames crawl nearer. . . .

The little bent man moved about the country, doing here one evil
thing, another there.  Herries moved with him, his body cold, like
marble, his heart burning.

All the men in the Prince's camp seemed to stir before him.  They
moved closer to the walls, and in all that army of eyes there was
anticipatory lust and longing for suffering in others and
destruction and ruin.  Herries himself seemed to lead them on,
saying:  'Here is a good place. . . .  And here are women. . . .
Here are houses to burn.'

A shiver of bad desire ran through him.  It was as though he had
been sleeping there on his feet and wakened.  It might be so.
Everything was very clear about him, the dark ramparts, the white
faces of men.

He could have said:  'I see men crawling like lice, and that is all
that they are.  Poor, lowest and meanest of all created things.'
He tried not to think of anything.  He knew that if he went much
farther he would face thoughts that were lower and viler than any
that he had ever known.  But someone went on piling the cupboard
high with these.  'Here is a new one.  Here is one that I have
found.  And here another. . . .'

He turned a little and talked to the black, short man at his side,
who, like the boy, had neither moved nor spoken all this time.

'What do you think,' he asked, 'of this adventurer's chances?  Will
he reach London?'

With that odd growl as of an animal roused by some sense of danger,
the man answered:  'I neither know nor care.  He can take this
place when he wishes--and all England for me.'

'Doesn't it matter to you then?'

'Why should it?  There is food and drink under any king.  One ruler
is like another, unless oneself has the chance of ruling.'

'Are you in Carlisle by hazard?'  To Herries it was as though,
beneath this conversation, other words were being said and other
meanings of deep import were being intended.

'I am anywhere by hazard.  One place is as another to me.'

'I have seen you before,' Herries said.  'The other evening at the
"Silver Horn."'

'It may be,' the man replied.  'I have been there.'  He spat
against the wall.  'Some of us may be dead men before morning.'

'Why do you stay here,' asked Herries, 'if you are indifferent?
You lose your life, maybe, for nothing.'

'My life!'  The man growled a chuckle.  'I have no life.  I have
only moments.  I am hungry, I eat.  I am thirsty, I drink.  I want
a woman, if I can I take her.  Life stops.  Well, why not--when it
has never begun?'

'Then you have no fear of death?'

'No.  If there's no life, there's no death.  There is only the
body.  One fills it.  One empties it.  One seizes with it what one

Herries said:  'Then you regret nothing that you have ever done?'

'Only what I have wanted and have not had.'

'You are fortunate, then,' Herries answered.  'You have no
scruples, no regrets.'

'Regrets!  No!  Why?  Where I am strong enough I conquer.  Where I
am weak I take to my heels.'

'Why, then, I ask again, are you here?  In this bleak place, in
danger, where nothing is to be gained.'

'Ah, perhaps something is to be gained.'

The thin, faint light was enough for them to see one another's
faces, and suddenly, at the same moment, they stared, the one at
the other.  It was indeed a strange look.  Herries, gazing into
that shaggy face with the bristling, black hair, the light, fiery
little eyes, the low chill brow, felt that he had seen this face
before, and often.  He felt, too, that the man was coldly,
deliberately, and without interest in anything but his own purpose,
asking him to do something.  What he could not tell.

'That's a deep scar you've got,' said the man.


'Did you kill the man who gave it you?'

'No,' said Herries.

'I would have done: drawn and quartered him.  You see my hands?'
He held them out, hideous hands, the backs thick with black hair,
the fingers stumped and gnarled.

'They are strong.  I could strangle an ox with them.'

Herries, moved by some curiosity, touched one.  It was ice-cold and

'Yes.  You have strong hands.'

For the first time the young man spoke:

'He is so strong that he can lift a cart with them.  Can you not,

The man did not answer.  The boy went on:  'Is it not strange, sir,
standing here in this cold mist, waiting for we know not what and
for no real reason?'  His face was charming, as he turned it to
Herries.  'I am all for a fight in the open, and when you know the
cause, but this chill waiting . . . and I would be loth to die,
just now.'

'The boy's in love,' said the man.  'He's thinking always of his
beautiful girl.  Isn't it so, Harry?'

The boy laughed.

'That is no business for this gentleman,' he said.  'Another man's
love affair is dull news.'

And so they would move, these men, stirring so quietly under the
wall, their eyes burning, their hearts thick at the thought that
with a knock or two this town would surrender.  And then what fun
there would be for them!  No house closed to them, the women
cowering in the bed-curtains; their 'Hallo! you there . . . I have
you!'  Dragging her out, pulling back her head, loosening her hair,
tearing her clothes from her--her neck, her breasts, her eyes
staring in terror, the crackle of flames, the tramping of men, the
warm trembling body slack in their arms. . . .

'And out on the Fell I have seen the shepherd whistling to his dog
and the sheep come in a cloud, while the sun strikes the stream
like mirror-glass.  That's what I want and will have, when this is
over.'  It was the boy speaking.

The man growled at his side.  'The lad's a poet.  He writes reams
of it.  There's books already enough in the world.'

'But this, sir, too, is wonderful.  Can you not feel it to be so?
The town so dark behind us and the land so dark before.  We
standing on so narrow a parapet that one cannon-ball would tumble
it to dust.  If 'twere only myself I were thinking of . . .'  He
sighed and turned impulsively to Herries.  'Oh, sir, we standing as
we do in this dark, strangers, need not be afraid of rashness.
Have you not felt often how unsafe it is to love?  The agony of
another's safety. . . .  The pain of parting . . .'  He broke off.
They were all very close together, and their voices low.

Herries felt that he was alone there and that these two were but
voices of his own different warring selves.

The mist was thick again and the cold very sharp.  They stood
instinctively the closer.

It was then, with a sudden pang as though an enemy had struck a
blade into him, that he realised the intensity of his hatred for
this boy.  This had been approaching him for a long while, keeping
pace with all his other evil thoughts, but now it had outpaced the
others and crept all over his body like a fever.  His hands shook.
He did not trust himself to speak because his voice would shake.

This was the boy loved by Mirabell.  Had he not come she would have
learnt to love himself.  Aye, she would.  With what woman had he
ever failed?  No matter if he were older now and face-scarred, when
he chose to put forth his charm what woman resisted him?  And most
certainly she, a child who, in spite of her boasts, could know so
little about men, would have surrendered to him.  But now her heart
had been taken by a chit of a boy, beardless, simple, a baby poet.
She would love him and then rue it, live with him a week and tire
of it.  A few years and she would be a woman, complex, tyrannous,
passionate.  And was this boy companion for such a woman?

But, more than conscious thought, his body was moving him towards
some action.  His hands about the boy's throat in that thick
darkness, his hands strong as iron, one throttle, a little murmured
cry.  There would be no witness save the other fellow, and, with
that, Herries, although no word had been spoken, was aware that it
was the black-faced fellow's desire that he should do this.  He was
aware that the man hated the boy as he did.  The fellow was very
close to him, thigh pressed to thigh, and even as this knowledge
came to him he felt the cold, damp, hairy back of that other hand
on his.

One squeeze of the fingers about the throat. . . .  In the hurry
and panic of this especial crisis no one would hear and no one

His body shook now so that, touching the thick, hard body close to
him, he knew that the man felt this trembling and was aware.

The fellow said to him:  'At what hour did they say they would
relieve us?'

But behind the spoken words were these others:  ('We understand one
another, we two.  Do this and there will be no sound. . . .')

He replied:  'At midnight.'

(And his answer:  'I wish for no understanding with you.  What I do
I do for myself.')

The man growled:  'The cold is more biting with every second.'

(And behind the words:  'Press your fingers into his windpipe.  I
will keep guard.')

Herries answered:  'The cold will be worse for the second watch.'

('Keep guard for yourself.  I am my own guard.')

The man's cold hairy hand touched Herries' fingers.

'This town can stand no siege unless Wade relieves it.'

(And behind the words:  'It will be quickly done.  Catch him by the
neck.  Press his head back.')

Herries said:  'Well, Wade should have been here to-day were he

('But it is my affair.  Leave me alone to my own deed.')

The boy's voice came from what seemed an infinite distance:  'I
wonder what the hour should be.  I have missed the Cathedral

And from a greater distance yet some other voice:  'Eh, but it's
cold . . . awful cold.  There'll be snow before morning.'

Every evil act of Herries' life seemed to come to him there, all
that had been unrestrained, uncontrolled, self-willed and cruel.
The days in Doncaster, Margaret weeping on her bed, Alice Press at
the Fair, and it was he who with his own hands had bound the naked
witch. . . .

He seemed to encircle Mirabell, his adored, with one arm and with
the other he touched the boy's neck.

The boy turned, but Herries allowed his hand to stay against the
warm skin.

('One twist of the head and you have done it.  I will keep silence
as though it had been myself.')

Then desperately, out of the mist, from some place that was not his
own heart, some sort of a prayer issued:  'Oh, God, who dost not
exist, help me now for I am in perilous trouble.  Oh, God, who art
not, save me from this sin.'

He touched barely the boy's neck, but he felt as though he held him
in his arms, and all the hatred, all the aching lonely desire for
the girl so indifferent to him, all the insistent urge to kill, was
in the power behind his hands, his arms, his beating heart, his
straining body.

It seemed to him that he threw him over the parapet and that
nothing had been done.

The boy laughed.

'Your hand is cold,' he said.

Herries dropped his arms.

'I could wrestle with you to be warm,' he said.

'Well, let us wrestle then,' said the boy laughing.

Herries answered shuddering:  'I must go to find my son.'

He stumbled off into the dark.  Figures were moving, voices
murmuring.  And then there was a great silence as though all the
world had been stricken dumb.

He pressed up against the rampart of the wall, his forehead clamped
to the cold stone.  And so he stayed.


Charles Edward, with his army, entered Carlisle city on Monday,
18th November.

This was the climax of days of panic and despair.  There is no need
here to recover the episodes of that unhappy week, to recall once
again how, after unfortunate Deputy-Mayor Pattinson had gaily sent
word to London that the Prince had retreated, and been officially
thanked for the news, he discovered only too quickly the error of
his judgement; or how, to a growing accompaniment of terror and
dismay, the citizens of that gallant town learnt that they were
deserted and betrayed; or how on the 15th the Highlanders were
within eighty yards of the city wall and answered the disheartened
fire of the garrison with scornful jeers, 'their bonnets,' one
commentator remarks, 'held high aloft at the end of their trenching

After this, do what Durand might, there was pandemonium in the
city.  That brave man did his utmost, 'assuring them,' to quote
again the chronicler, 'that they need fear nothing from the rebels,
that they were in a very good condition to defend themselves, and
that if they would continue to behave with the same spirit and
resolution they had hitherto shown, the rebels would never capture
the city.'

It was the militia who brought the panic to submission.  To the
mess-room at the 'King's Arms' they retired, and this was their

'The militia of the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland having
come voluntarily into the city of Carlisle for the defence of the
said city, and having for six days and six nights successively been
upon duty in expectation of relief from His Majesty's forces, but
it appearing that no such relief is to be had, and ourselves not
able to do duty or hold out any longer, are determined to
capitulate, and do certify that Colonel Durand, Captain Gilpin and
the rest of the officers have well and faithfully done their duty.'

Durand, after reading this, made one more attempt to reason with
them, but they would listen to no reason and no argument.

'The majority of the officers insisted that they were resolved to
treat with the enemy for themselves.'

One last attempt was made; the townsmen, having better guts than
the poor militia, refused to capitulate, determined to hold the
Castle, collected provisions and munition in the Castle, but, alas,
the militia 'melted away through the night, and on the morning of
the 15th Durand was left with his eighty "invalids" and a capful of
brave townsmen.'

On this a messenger who had been sent to the Prince returned with
these words:  'That he would grant no terms to the town, nor treat
about it at all unless the Castle was surrendered; likewise, if
that was done, all should have honourable terms, the inhabitants
should be protected in their persons and estates, and every one be
at liberty to go where they pleased.'

These terms, better than the citizens had expected, decided the
matter.  The Duke of Perth entered and took possession of the
Castle and city.  The capitulation of Carlisle was effected with
the loss of one man only, and he a rebel.

On the 16th of November the Duke of Perth, on the steps of the
Cross in the centre of the Market Place, proclaimed King James
III., and the Town Clerk and members of the Corporation went out to
Brampton, where the Prince was, and, on bended knee, yielded him
the keys of the city.

So, on the 18th of November, the Prince entered the city, and David
Herries and Hetty Cumberlege were among those who saw him enter.

That was a happy day for David.  It was for him, and for many
thousands of others who were there, like passing out of a
nightmare.  Strong of purpose, courageous and unflinching as he
was, these last days had begun to test his nerves.  'If only,' he
had thought (as he was to think many times again in the course of
his life), 'folk would keep their mouths shut.'  The thick foggy
weather, the uncertainty of the future, the possibility of massacre
and fire, the sense of futility from beating against all these
nerves and ill-controlled passions, were beginning to frighten him.

For himself he did not care, and in his father he had absolute
faith, but these trembling and crying women were another matter.
Little Hetty Cumberlege was among the bravest of them, but on her,
too, the wild stories and frenzied anticipations were having their
effect.  Had he been in love with her it would have been simpler.
A sort of glory would have come from that.  But although he wished
to be, he could not.  He could not understand that.  She was pretty
and charming, and herself as far in love with him as her
childishness and inexperience allowed her to be.  A word, a kiss,
one passionate movement and she would have been his.  But he could
not make that movement.

Yet she woke him to a consciousness of women as no one before had
ever done.  He was twenty-six years of age and had never yet kissed
a woman, save in friendliness.  Now, even in these few dark
troubled days, he looked at the women about and around him with new
eyes.  Hetty Cumberlege had done that for him.  But he did not love
her.  He was sorry, but he did not.

The consciousness that she was ready to love him at a moment's turn
embarrassed him terribly.  He wished that he had Deborah there to
advise him.  Every look from Hetty's eyes (and she gave him a great
many) made him feel ashamed.  He would have liked to love her.  He
felt now that it would be delightful to love someone, but that
someone would not be Hetty.

He would have spoken to his father about his troubles, but his
father had been removed from him in some strange absorption of his
own.  His father had shown a surprising gentleness and kindliness
these last days, but he had been alone.  And by his own wish.

So here David and Hetty were watching the Prince enter Carlisle.
The crowd by the city gates was so thick that they caught only a
glimpse of him.  David was far taller than the majority around him.
He saw, as a flash of sun struck from the heavy winter clouds, the
fine white horse and on the horse a youth with a gallant air, his
head up, a smile of pride and courtesy and triumph on his lips.  He
looked like a king.  He was happy that morning as, had they all but
known it, he was never to be happy again.  The horse tossed its
head, a hundred pipers played, and the sun went in again behind the

So then they went home.  There was a very lively company in the
parlour.  Mrs. Cumberlege had found the general excitement too much
for her retirement, and there she was laid out on the sofa.  To
David she was truly an amazing sight, for her stoutness and
shortness of figure gave her, lying there with a handsome China
shawl over her knees, the appearance of a bolster.  Her face was
very red and she had on top of it her best wig, powdered, curled
and greased, dressed high over a large cushion and decorated with
imitation fruit and a little ship with silken sails.  Mr.
Cumberlege was there, two ladies, and a jolly old fellow with a
wooden leg, who announced himself as Captain Bentley.  He was
apparently a stranger in the house, and could not be sufficiently
polite to Mrs. Cumberlege, whose stout cheeks were all smiles and
whose head nodded with pleasure so frequently that the little ship
travelled on stormy seas indeed.

The talk was, of course, all of the Prince.  An amazing calm, and
even gaiety, had for the moment come upon the town.  It would not
last, but, just now, no one was alarmed any longer.  The Prince was
here.  He was charming, handsome, and who knew but that in a week
or two he might be master of the country?  Moreover, his
Highlanders were here too and were behaving with the greatest
propriety.  Not a single act of riot or mischief had been reported.
It was whispered indeed that a number of ladies were sadly
disappointed. . . .

The white favour was becoming for women with every moment more

As to Captain Bentley, you might think that there was no Prince and
no Highland invasion.  He sat on the edge of his chair, which
creaked beneath his weight and the glory of his plum-coloured
breeches and silver buckles, and forced upon Mrs. Cumberlege
incidents of his personal experience.  He was very honest about his
drink, and proud of it too.  He declared that he could swallow a
bowl of punch and two mugs of bumbo without any difficulty
whatever, and told a long tale of how, being in Wapping, he had a
fierce toothache and could find no one but a woman to pull the
rogue, which she did with so muscular an arm that he thought she
must be a man in disguise, until inquiring further he found that
she was a woman indeed.

'Fie!  Captain,' said Mrs. Cumberlege, laughing most friendlily at
him, upon which he would have bent forward to whisper in her ear
had not the stink from her wig been too strong for two by no means
sensitive nostrils.  He had also a grand tale of how in London a
month or two back he had seen a show of moving pictures.  Truly
marvellous.  You could see a coach roll out of the town, and a
gentleman in the coach saluted the company, and you could watch
ships sailing upon the sea and a man come to light a lamp in the
Tower.  In return Mrs. Cumberlege had a sister-in-law who had seen
a live griffin at a Fair and he had shot fire from his mouth, which
had so sadly frightened her sister-in-law that she had given birth
to triplets before her due time.

There was a bowl of punch, and both Mr. Cumberlege and Captain
Bentley became very merry indeed, and even the three ladies found
their sentences coming none so clearly.

During all the gaiety Hetty and David sat close together in the bow-
window.  The streets were now dark outside, but many people were
about.  The cobbles echoed their steps.  There was laughter and
singing, and everywhere you felt the sudden relief, the freedom
from panic.

Romance, too, was in the air.  For good or ill this young and
beautiful Prince was now in their city.  Everything, it seemed, was
giving way before him.  After all, was he not one of our own
people, no foreigner?  Had not that sound of 'James III.' cried on
the steps of the Market Cross a pleasant echo in the air?

And for Hetty Cumberlege, too, this was the most romantic hour of
her life.  This huge young man, who sat so close to her, so brave,
so strong, so proper a man, she thought that he loved her and
presently would say so.  It was true that she feared his father,
but he would not live always with his father.  It seemed to her
impossible that they could be related, so different were they.  The
candles burning in the room, the flickering firelight, her mother
for once in a good mood: now surely it was designed that he would

How marvellous a chest he had, how beautiful a neck, what glorious
eyes, how direct and honest he was: she could trust herself to him
for ever.  A little shiver ran through her body.  She hung her
head.  She did not dare to look at him.

And David said never a word.  His was not a quick nature, but yet
quick enough for him to realise, with an awful sense of horror,
that she was waiting for him to speak.  He could see it in her
hanging head, her trembling hands.  This was for him the most
terrible moment of his life.  He longed to move, but was frozen to
his chair.  He heard the merry Captain and Mr. Cumberlege trolling
a song from an infinite distance.  What must he do?  By whose fault
had he tumbled into this dreadful dilemma?  She was so sweet, so
young, so pretty.  She would be wonderful for any man to hold in
his arms, to press his cheek to hers; and yet he did not want to
hold her.  He wanted only to escape from the room.  His great
clumsy body seemed to him to fill the room and to swell ever larger
and larger as he stayed there.

'There are many people yet abroad,' he said.

She raised her eyes, looked at him, and dropped them again.

'Yes. . . .  But it is cold.  I think there will be snow.'

'At Herries, where we live . . .' he began desperately.

'Yes?' she said, looking into his eyes again.

'Winter-time the snow lies on the Fell to a great depth.  Many
sheep are lost in it.'

'Poor things,' she said.

'Sometimes in winter they must carry a corpse over the hills from
valley to valley.  When the snow is deep 'tis no light matter.'

'I like the summer best,' she answered.

How he longed to say:  'Hetty, dear, I like you so, but I don't
love you.  I wish I did.'  Instead he told her about his sister
Deborah.  She was not interested.  Her hand stole out and nearly
touched his breeches.  Had she touched him he might have yielded,
and all his life, and the lives of many future Herries, been other,
but her hand stole back again.

'Father is greatly pleased that you are here,' she ventured.

'I am glad,' he answered.

'And mother too.'

'I am very glad.'  She meant that someone else was greatly pleased
too, but she did not say so.

'We must be returning home in a day or so,' he said, his face
burning.  'I have business, an interest in two vessels in
Liverpool.  And maybe I shall purchase a farm.'

'You are very young for so much business,' she said, and again she
looked at him.

The thought came to him that this proclamation of his prosperity
might be considered a foreword to a proposal, so he said hurriedly:

'It is not much.  A small venture.'

If something did not happen soon he was lost.  Something did
happen.  His father saved him.  The door opened and Francis Herries
came in.

David, his heart thumping his deliverance, went to meet him.
Hetty, a minute after, left the room and running up the stairs,
closing her door, threw herself on her bed in a passion of tears.

Herries meanwhile had had his own strange hour.  He felt, because
of it, soft and gentle to all the world.  That night struggle on
the wall had left him first as a wounded, then as a convalescent
man and, in this convalescence, he was oddly gentle.

He felt a great and persistent weariness throughout his body, and
everything about him--the town, the people, the crisis--was removed
behind a sort of dream-curtain.  Just now this Mirabell Starr was
the only real thing to him in life.  She was more real by far than
he was to himself.

That same afternoon he had seen and talked to her.  He had been
wandering through the streets, lost in his own thoughts, but
getting behind them an impression of this day's events very
different from the one in Cumberlege's warm parlour.  There was
relief, it was true, but beyond the relief a sulky stiffening, a
sense of humiliation and apprehension.  It was as though, with a
kind of second-sight that he had, he could feel the doom that was
coming to this place, could touch Cumberland's swollen cheeks and
smell the hot stench of that black hole where nearly four hundred
poor wretches, huddled and trampled like cattle, were, in so short
a time, to pant their strangled lives away.  He could see, it might
be (and yet not see), brave Coppock drawn on the smart new sledge
through the English Gate to execution, and gaze upon that sad
procession now only two months distant, the officers with their
legs tied under the bellies of their horses, the privates on foot
marching like felons, two abreast, fastened by rope.  If he did not
see these things he felt them in the air, which was growing with
every moment colder and was made bitter by a driving wind that held
in its lap a steely sleet.

He had reached the farther end of English Street and was about to
turn when Mirabell all but ran against him.  Three times now within
the week chance had brought him to her, or perhaps it was not
chance.  There was to be one more . . .

She was cloaked up against the wind and seemed to him infinitely
young and fragile.  They encountered under a lamp-flare, and she
knew him at once.  She smiled.  He could see that she was in some
fear, and that stirred him at once to a sharp passion of

'Mr. Herries,' she said.

'You should not be out alone,' he answered her quickly.  'Not now,
toward evening, the streets as they are.'

She did not repulse him.  She seemed glad of his company.

'I am going to my lodging,' she said rather breathlessly.  'In
Abbey Street.  Behind the Cathedral.  I have a room there.'

They started along English Street.  She looked back.

'You see no one following us?'

'No,' he said.  'Who should be following you?'

'No one . . . but now, the town as it is . . .'

'Take my arm.  No one shall touch you while I am here.'  The pride
he felt as he said that!  And the rush of blood to his heart as he
knew the touch of her hand on his arm!

'I know who it is,' he went on.  'A short, thick, black-bearded man
with a chill hand.'

'You know?  Yes.  Anthony Thawn.  But how do you know?'

'I saw you, a week back, in the "Silver Horn."  I was quite near to
you.  There was a green parrot and this fellow stroked its neck.'

'Yes.  He is a friend of Harry's.  Harry is my lover.  I am greatly
afraid of him, Mr. Herries.  I have never been afraid of anyone
before, and it is not for myself now but for Harry.  He pretends to
be his friend, but I know that he is not.  He was first a friend of
my uncles.  He was with us here when we first came to Carlisle.
Then when my uncles went to Scotland he stayed.  He would make love
to me if he dared.  Harry is so simple that he thinks Thawn is his
friend.  I have told him no, but he will not believe me.  Always
when I leave them alone I am afraid of some evil. . . .'

She poured all this out as a little child might, confident in her
hearer's interest.  And indeed Herries was interested, so deeply
that it seemed to be his own history to which he was listening.

'I have seen your lover.  He also was at the "Silver Horn."  He has
a noble face.'

'Harry!  Yes, he is noble!  When we go from here he will marry me
and we will live in London, where he has a brother.  Harry is a
poet.  He is writing a grand poem on "Dido and Aeneas."  I can't
tell whether I have the names rightly.  I have never had any

'But could you live in London, when you have been always in the
open?  Seeing you on Honister I had thought you could never endure
a town.'

'I could live anywhere with Harry.  He also loves the country as I
do, and when he has made a little money we will come back to the
mountains.  He will find patrons for his poem.  He says that is
often done.'

How different, Herries thought, love has made her.  She is still a
child, but all the wildness and rebellion are gone.  His heart
ached, but the touch of her hand on his arm consoled him.  Perhaps
he could help them, these two, and in being a friend to them find
his salvation.  They were both so very young.

'This fellow Thawn,' he said, 'if he troubles you I will rid you of

But she shook her head.  'That is not so easy.  He is very strong.'

'I, too, am strong,' said Herries.

'I have no fear,' she answered confidently, 'when I am with Harry.
It is when I am away from him.  He trusts everyone.  He can see no
harm in anyone.  If he had had my life he would not be so trusting,
as I am always telling him.'

They were skirting the Cathedral.  They would not have many more
minutes together.

'I told you,' Herries said, 'on Honister that I am always by you if
you need me.  Will you promise me, if you are afraid, to come to
this place?  It is in the very middle of the town, only five
minutes from here.  If I am away I will let them know, so that they
can always find me.'  He gave her the name of Cumberlege's house.
'Do you promise?'

She looked at him, then nodded her head.  'Yes, I promise.'  She
sighed, he thought, with some relief.  'Here is my lodging,' she

Abbey Street was a quiet, staid place behind Tullie House.  It was
a thin house with neat stone steps and a light in the upper window.

'Thank you.  I am sure that Harry is here.  The light is in my
room.'  Her voice had changed to a radiant happiness.  She had
already, he thought, almost forgotten him.  She ran up the steps
and into the house.  He watched her until she was gone.

All that night he dreamt of her.

Events moved swiftly with him then.  That next day, 19th November,
was to be a marked day for him his life long, and for more than one
reason.  He left Cumberlege's house after three of the afternoon;
by six of the evening that had occurred which gave his life a new
strain never again to be lost.

By the Market Cross he was confronted with Roche.  He had been
expecting this meeting.  Roche had in Keswick told him where he
would be found in Carlisle, but Herries had not sought him out.
Roche belonged to his old life, not to this one.  But here Roche
was and recognising him instantly; indeed Francis Herries, with his
proud arrogant carriage, his scar, his high sturdy figure, was not
a man easily passed.

Roche's pleasure at the meeting was moving.  He was dressed in
civil clothes, but as a very grand gentleman.  The grandeur suited
him well.  His black coat was of silk, elaborately laced, and at
his side there was a slender gold-hilted sword.  He wore a tie-wig
and a three-cornered hat of dark felt and laced.  His pale, long,
aristocratic face was grave and dignified, and not jubilant as
Herries would have expected it to be.

He caught Herries' arm and walked with him as though he would never
let him go again.

'Well,' said Francis, 'your prophecies have been found true.  You
must be a happy man.'

But Roche was not altogether a happy man.  As they walked, their
cloaks close about them because of the bitter wind, Roche, dropping
his voice, spoke his doubts.  All was not as well as it ought to
be.  True enough that, with Edinburgh and Carlisle in their hands,
the Government forces apparently dismayed, they had prospered to a
marvel.  But there were dissensions in the camp.

'His Royal Highness is but a boy, and has had little experience as
yet of governing men.  How could it be otherwise at his age?  But
there are the Irish.  They have great importance, perhaps too
great, in his councils.  There is Lord George Murray.  He is stiff-
necked and obstinate and hates the Catholics.  He has but now sent
in his resignation because His Royal Highness had left the Duke of
Perth and Murray of Broughton to arrange the terms of surrender
without consulting Lord George.'  His Royal Highness had written
Lord George a very sharp letter in which he had said that he was
glad to hear of his particular attachment to the King, but was sure
he would never take anything as a proof of it but his deference to
himself.  This to Lord George, who considered himself the God
Almighty, was a bitter word.  But they could (Roche was forced to
confess) ill afford to lose Lord George, who had a great sense of
strategy and the discipline of armies.  The Lord knew they needed
discipline (here Roche sighed), and it was hard to come by in such
an ill-composed army as theirs.

'There was, too, great division of opinion as to the next steps to
be taken.  It was said that the Government was sending an army of
ten thousand under Sir John Ligonier to Staffordshire.  Some were
for a return to Scotland, others for remaining here to wait the
rising of the North Country Jacobites.  The Prince himself was for
marching forward.'

Herries could see that Roche was in great perturbation of mind and
longing for a confidant.  He seemed to have no doubt at all as to
the direction in which Herries' sympathies would lie, and was, it
appeared, ready to confide to him any secret.  He had aged very
greatly since Herries had had any long talk with him, but that was
natural enough, for a number of years had passed and he had been
engaged in much perilous enterprise.  But he had changed, too, in
spirit.  He seemed to have no longer anything of the religious
zealot about him, but was completely the man of affairs, and with
the discovery Herries also realised that all Roche's old influence
over him had gone, his power and his charm.

He was eager to know what Herries felt to be the mood of Carlisle.
Were they for the Prince?  Had Herries not seen in the reception of
the Prince's entry a disposition to enthusiasm?  One more success
and might it not be that the whole of the North would turn?

Herries said what he could and, snatching at any encouragement,
Roche insisted that he should come now to see His Royal Highness
and assure him of this.  Even though it were only for five minutes.
He was himself on his way there.

Herries had no wish to be dragged into any definite partisanship,
but against this his curiosity to see the Prince was very great.
So he went with him.

The Prince was lodging at the house of Mr. Charles Highmore,
Attorney-at-law.  This was a white-fronted house on the west side
of English Street, standing back some yards from the main

Roche and Herries passed under an archway, sufficiently wide for a
carriage drive.  Above the archway was a big bay-window, and the
whole house seemed spacious.  There were glimpses of a fine garden
at the back of it.

At the doorway and in the entrance hall there was a great bustle.
A big fire burnt in the hall, officers were standing in groups,
messengers coming and going.  Leaning over the banisters of the
wide staircase Herries saw two small children watching wide-eyed
all that was going forward.  Roche, begging Herries to seat himself
for a moment in the hall, vanished behind a green-baize door.

Herries waited there.  He realised that his presence caused very
considerable interest.  One stout, thick-thighed officer, grandly
dressed, warming his back at the fire, stared at him persistently.
He was always afterwards, for no reason that he could define, to
remember this officer with his swollen cheeks, pug nose, legs tight
within their sky-blue silk breeches.

It seemed to him, although this impression may have been
unwarranted, that there was some carelessness and disorder over the
hall bustle, too much shouting and calling out and casual argument.
Only a giant Highlander, who must have been some seven feet in
height and was broad in proportion, stood motionless near the
entrance.  It was at him that the two children, breathless on the
stairs, principally gazed.

It was cold and exceedingly draughty.  The fire blew out of the
open fireplace in flurries of smoke and flame.  Some faded green
tapestries of gods and goddesses feasting flapped on the wall.
Near the baize door a group of young officers stood in whispered

He had taken this all in (and for the rest of his life it would
remain with him), when he saw Roche come through the door and
approach him.

'His Royal Highness,' he said, 'is most anxious to see you.'

He followed Roche through the door (pursued, as he knew, by the
curious eyes of everyone in the hall) into a small, darkly
wainscoted room.  There was a table with a bowl of fruit, a finely
carved fireplace and some high-backed chairs.  On the mantelpiece
was a big gold clock, very handsomely mounted, with the moon and
stars portrayed and a Cupid with a small gold hammer to strike the

Only two persons were in the room.  One was a plump gentleman with
a good-natured kindly face, who stood turned to the window that he
might see better some papers held in his hand.

The other was warming himself at the fire.  This was a lad in a
grave handsome dress of dark purple, wearing his own hair, a
diamond star at his breast.  This boy's face was of a most delicate
oval shape, the chin weak, the mouth rather too full.  His
splendour (for he did that day seem splendid) lay in his eyes of a
deep eloquent brown, bold and haughty, brave and inquiring, and in
the magnificent carriage of his beautifully shaped head, the
carriage by natural right divine of a king and a ruler of men.  His
hair was of a fair brown, catching the light so that it seemed gold-

This was Prince Charles Edward.

But he was a boy, a child, an infant!  Herries, in that first
glance and then as, bending a knee and kissing the hand, he looked
up into those eyes, was transfigured by surprise.

He had known that the Prince was but twenty-five, about the age of
his own David; he had himself again and again wondered what it must
be for such a boy to be in charge of so wild and tumultuous and
kenspeckle an army, but in some imaginative fashion the events of
these last weeks had altered his vision.  The Prince, seen only
through event, had grown and aged in the consequence of his
successes.  But now, face to face, why, beside David himself who
could have taken him across his knee and with one gesture broken
him, he was unbelievably a child.

And then, rising from his knee and exchanging with him look for
look, Herries had a curious moment of vision.

It is an old tale that a drowning man sees in one instant the whole
course of his past experience laid out as on a map.  So now
Herries, looking into that young man's eyes, had, in one moment of
time, a vision of a world.

In Paris carts rumbled over the cobbles under a snowy sky, the
French King lolled on his bed, scratching his stomach, yawning,
then stretching a fat naked leg to see whether last night's
drinking had dulled the use of it.  A courier, waiting in the cold
hall with despatches, shivered and thought tenderly of his new
mistress.  At Calais the snow was beginning to fall, and along the
deserted beach an old man in rags that blew in the wind wandered,
searching for sea-trove.  On the Dover Road a coach plunged up the
hill, while within it, rolling in sleep one against another, two
men and a woman dreamed of money, lechery and food.

The clouds gathered ever more thickly over Europe.  In Vienna it
was a blizzard, by the Hague the sea was rising and tumbling in
huge swollen billows along the deserted shore.  In London the
Hanoverian King stumbled as he climbed the stairs, swore a German
oath, wondered for the hundredth time which among his treasures he
must take with him to Hanover if a sudden flight caught him.  He
had a violent cold and that old pain in the left side that hurt him
when his nerves were out of order.

All through London that afternoon panic was spreading.  No one had
any thought but for himself and his.  A man swung from ledge to
ledge above a back court of the Strand, his pocket stuffed with
rings and necklaces.  He dropped eight feet, stumbled and was up,
running through the falling snow, like a shadow, down to the river.
In a room lit only by the firelight a lover was buttoning his
smallclothes, a lady arranging her hair before a mirror.  The
clouds descended ever lower and lower over London.  Out of a window
and above the river a lady was leaning, looking out to hear whether
even now she could catch the Highlanders coming.  On the Great
North Road the coaches were running, and two miles before Doncaster
three footpads were waiting, their horses shivering in the cold.
Such a snowy night was good for the trade.

Up on the fells above Brough and Appleby it was desolate indeed.  A
shepherd, trying to shield himself from the fierce wind, searched
for some lost sheep, calling to his dog, glancing up at the sky as
though it had some personal and especial message for him.

In Kendal and Penrith and Keswick, men sheltering by fires, busy
over their money-making, had only one topic.  The Pretender was in
Carlisle.  Carlisle had fallen.  First Edinburgh and now Carlisle.
An old man, dying in a farmhouse by Caldbeck, wandered in his
delirium and called for the girl of his heart, now forty years
dead.  Two women, in a rich house by Grange, quarrelling over cards
in their high gilded drawing-room, paused suddenly to listen,
because above the fall of the stream under the bridge they seemed
to hear the tramp of soldiers. . . .

What did Herries see?  What did Herries hear?  He only knew that
before him was a child, ignorant, impetuous, brave and tragic, and
that as he breathed, as his hand went to finger the lace at his
throat, as he felt for the skirt of his purple coat stiff with
whalebone, Europe, carrying on its wheeling surface, as on an
indifferent turntable, the hearts, the souls of these little men,
wheeled another turn in her history, this boy for a single bitter
instant the moving force.

Tragedy!  Herries could see it in every stir and flicker of the
flame behind him.  This boy to rule England, this boy to meet those
heavy, cumbrous, cruel forces now advancing to encounter him!  He
could, in that second of understanding, have taken that boy in his
arms, hastened with him to deep obscurity, protected him until the
crisis was past.

Then the Prince spoke, and it was a king who was speaking.

'Mr. Herries,' he said, smiling most charmingly, 'you are welcome.
Mr. Roche here says you are an old friend of his.'

'Yes, sir.  It was pleasant to meet again.'

'And what do you think of the feeling in this city?  Is it
favourable to us?'

'I am a stranger here, sir.  From the little I have seen I would
say that feeling is divided.  Many are waiting to feel the current
of the wind.'

The Prince looked at him.  Here was a man.  Young though he was, he
was no poor judge when his prejudices were not already stirred and
his liberty not threatened.  Years later, in 1771, when he was
sheltering shabbily under the roof of the tailor Didelot, hunting
round for a wife, the Irishman Ryan introduced him one drunken
evening to a tall lean fellow, with a scarred face, a famous
ragamuffin duellist.  Lolling, paunchy and red-faced, on the shabby
sofa, looking up at the fellow, Charles Edward remembered that
other man with a scar.  Where had it been?  And when?  In the
close, hot, smelly room, thick with smoke and stinking with drink,
his bemused mind went back to that other scene: Carlisle, high
burning hopes, courage, pure ambitions, England open before him,
and that strange, stern, ugly fellow who carried himself and spoke
like a leader.  The grease dropping from the slobbering candle was
mixed with his own maudlin tears.  That day . . . and this. . . .

'Sheridan, this is Mr. Herries of Keswick.'

The stout man turned from the window, smiling.  They bowed and
shook hands.

'What do you advise, Mr. Herries; that we should go forward or stay
where we are?'

The unexpected and casual directness of this startled Herries: he
fancied that some lack of caution in it had startled Sir Thomas
Sheridan, too, and not for the first time.

His natural honesty, as always, drove him.

'I cannot tell what information Your Highness has obtained.  I am
sure that time is a most important element in your favour.  I am
sure, too, that many who are secretly on your side are waiting for
your success before they join you.  If by pressing forward very
rapidly you are likely to reach London within a very brief period
of time, I should push forward.  If your progress is likely to be
slower, then I should remain in the North until more of your
friends come out to you.'

'Yes, yes . . .' answered the Prince impatiently.  Then it seemed
that he caught Sheridan's eye, for he turned abruptly back to the
fire, stared into it a moment, then wheeled round to Herries again.

'Of what sort of a place is Keswick, Mr. Herries?' he asked.

'It is a small town, sir, very remote from the world.'

'Your place is in the country?'

'Seven miles from Keswick, in a valley beyond the lake.'

'You have much rain there, I have heard.'

Herries smiled.  'It is a changeable climate, sir.  We have every
sort of weather.'

The Prince shrugged his shoulders.  'Peste!  Every sort of BAD
weather.  I know the changes; hail one fine day, sleet another,
snow a third.  You should try the south of France, Mr. Herries.
There it is all sunshine and beautiful ladies.'

Herries smiled.  'I have no doubt, sir.  But I love this cold North
Country.  It has something magical for those who feel it.'

The Prince laughed.

'Eh, Sherry?  Shall we leave this business we're on and settle down
in the mountains to shoot bears and frighten the wolves.  Poor
Sherry!  Mountains and bears are not for your stomach.  For myself,
I don't know.  But, Mr. Herries, you had better come with us.  We
will lead you into the sunshine.'

Herries paused, then looking the Prince between the eyes he
answered:  'I am afraid the public world is no longer for me, sir.
I am forty-five years of age and no very good company.'

The Prince looked back at him, honestly and quietly.  They liked
one another.

'Eh bien!  Yours is no doubt the better part.  We have little
choice in our destinies, I believe.  Fate is with us, and then, a
change in the wind . . .'  He shivered, made as though he would
kick the fire with his foot, half turned his face.

'At least you wish me well.'

Herries said:  'I will always wish you well, sir.'  He hesitated,
then went on:  'I would only say that I love England with a
passion.  I believe that you have the same love.  And, were I
younger--'  He broke off.  'I hope you will believe, sir, in my

The boy looked at him with some touching appeal in his eyes.  There
was fear there, some hint of dismay and confusion as though, only
now, he were beginning to realise the impossibility of the task
that he had at first so gaily shouldered.  Herries' heart went out
to him, just as it might have gone to David in trouble.

He bent the knee and kissed the hand again, bowed and left the

In the street again he said good-bye to Roche, promised to meet him
shortly, saw him vanish into the dusk.  He did not know that he was
never to set eyes on him again.

A little bemused, he stood hesitating.  Then, as though he could
step no other way, he turned down English Street toward the
Cathedral.  It was not dark yet: there was a queer, green, owlish
light through which snowflakes were falling, fragments of ghostly
wool.  Very few persons were now about.  He crossed into Abbey
Street, which was quite deserted.  He stood in the shadow by the
long wall of Tullie House.  It was cold, but he did not feel it.
There was no wind.

How absurd!  He was watching, like any young moon-calf, outside his
mistress' window.  There was no light in the demure, thin-lipped
house, where she was lodging.  He could see the number--Thirty--in
clear Roman numerals above the door.  There was no stir of life

But he knew the strangest satisfaction in standing there.  It was
as though he were protecting her, although, for all he could tell,
she might be in the other end of the town.  And there was also a
sense that he was expiating a little the frantic temptation that he
had known on the wall.  That gave him, oddly enough, the only
conviction of sin that he had ever known.  He had done many evil
things in his life and had dealt ironically with them all.  But
this . . .  He had stepped farther then into monstrous countries
than ever before.  Was it only because this had touched her?  Or
because he was, in his old age, developing a new sense of sin?
Time perhaps that he did.  Or was it that sentimentalism, a
sentimentalism of the very kind that he had always most despised,
was creeping over him?  Or was it a sort of frustrated lust?
Because he would not yet possess Mirabell he imagined a noble aim
in himself?  Ah, that last, God forbid!  He did not want to possess
her--or at least not that mainly--he wanted to care for her, be
good to her, make her happy. . . .  And then, having used her,
would he not tire of her and forget all his nobility, as he had
with so many women before her?  For the instant the picture of
Alice Press came back to him; Alice Press when he had first seen
her, when he had first had her, when he had tired of her, hated
her, sold her. . . .

He nodded his head to himself.  Yes, this was most truly something
other, something quite new in him, something growing, like a plant,
in his soul.  If there were indeed a soul. . . .  If there were
not, there was at least something in him that was not only animal;
his great white horse plunging through the black lake, climbing the
splintered hills--she was, for him, of the world of that dream.

The door of the house opened.  He was almost opposite it, but the
shadow, thickening as the early winter darkness crept upon the
city, covered him.

Two came out.  They were Mirabel! and her lover.  He caught her
face for a moment under the light by the door, and she seemed in an
ecstasy of happiness.  She was pressed close to the boy, who had
his arm around her.  He watched them go, quietly, down the street.
He was never afterwards to know what still kept him there.  His
business was over.  She was well protected, and, as his constant
irony drove him to perceive, by the only protection that she
coveted.  She had, he could not doubt, lost all awareness of him.
Perhaps, after seeing him, she had told her lover, and together
they had laughed at the thought of that ugly, elderly courtier,
laughed kindly but with the selfish, indifferent confidence of
blissful lovers.

He felt the cold now and drew his cloak close about him.  Yes, it
was cold and he was alone, and the street was very silent.  He was
conscious again, as he looked at the light above her door, of a
sense of doom that lay over the city and over the Prince whom he
had just left and, it might be, over himself.  For himself he did
not very much care.

But for Mirabell . . . Mirabell . . . Mirabell. . . .  An absurd
name . . . a man's name.  He looked back to that Christmas feast so
long ago, the woman standing by the door, the child huddled against
her skirt.  It had been that woman's romantic notion to call the
child Mirabell after some play perhaps.  Congreve's Way of the
World, was it? or perhaps she had heard the name spoken or seen it
on a news-sheet.  Mirabell . . . Mirabell. . . .  Yes, the mother
to whom he had once given his coat must have been a romantic
creature, filled, he had no doubt, with unsatisfied longings.

The door opened again.  A man came out.  It was Thawn.

Herries caught his black face in the light, but there was no
mistaking the fellow's walk, that lurch, that slouch, that roll
from heavy foot to heavy foot.  He walked, too, with his head sunk
between his thick shoulders as though he had no neck.

An animal, by God, a wild hairy animal, possessed by the Devil.  He
paused by the door.  He was considering something, and his face was
as evil as a face may be and yet be in some sort human.

Then he lurched away, moving, in spite of his awkwardness, with
great speed.

There began then a strange pursuit.  Herries followed as though he
had been ordered to do so.  But it was like a pursuit in a dream.
They seemed to move in a dead city.  Herries could never remember
afterwards that he passed a living being.  As he moved anxiety grew
in him.  He had no reason, but with every step his fear increased.
Thawn never looked back, nor hesitated.  He seemed to know exactly
his direction and purpose.

They kept to the dark side-streets, came to the Castle, skirted it
and, turning a corner near the city wall, saw the girl and boy but
a little in front of them.

Then it was they whom Thawn had been following.

The girl was standing folded by her lover's arms.  His back was
towards them.

There was a sudden alteration in Thawn's movement.  He walked more
swiftly, but very silently.  His feet made no noise at all.

At that same instant Herries understood.

He ran, crying 'Look out!  Look out! . . .  Take guard!'  But he
was too late.  The boy turned, but with that same movement Thawn
struck, his black arm, the pale chill of the back of his hand, the
knife shining.  Herries caught these and his thick, pulsing,
stertorous breath like a bear's grunt.

The boy fell without a cry, and Thawn was gone, moving like a
shadow into the shadows of the dusk.

The girl flung herself down, then stared up at Herries, not seeing
who he was.

Herries knelt, pulled the shirt down, felt the heart.  The boy was
dead.  His own hands were a mess of blood.

'He's dead,' he said, touching her hair, which fell, loosened,
about his hands.

'You lie,' she answered.

Then he bent his will and purpose to do all that should be done.





On a beautiful summer afternoon, in the year 1756, David and
Deborah rode into Keswick.  Deborah was proud because, for the
first time, she was riding her new horse, Appleseed, that David had
given her.  Old fat Benjamin had named him.  It seemed to Deborah a
very pretty name.  She was excited, too, because they were riding
in to a Ball and were to sleep three nights at Keswick.  Although
Deborah was now thirty-three years of age, a very great age indeed,
she was still wildly excited by a Ball.  She could not think how
David could remain so calm.

But David was always calm.  As she looked at him now, gigantic (he
was six foot six inches in height, and broad with it) but placid,
smiling to himself at some notion that was, she was quite sure (she
thought to herself), to do with ships or tallow or grain, she loved
him more than ever, but was a little indignant with him too.  She
would have liked to stick a large and sharp pin into the rough
broadcloth that covered his immense, immovable back.

It was a Ball at the Assembly Rooms (the first of the season), and
they were to stay for three nights with, technically, Uncle
Pomfret, in reality, Cousin Raiseley and sister Mary.

In the year 1750 Cousin Raiseley had married sister Mary.  Deborah
who, in spite of her placidity, had some good strong feelings
within her, hated her cousin Raiseley and had always disliked her
sister Mary.  It was, she had thought at the time, a very suitable
match, only she had supposed that Mary would have made a smarter
one.  Heir to a baronetcy though he was, Raiseley was, after all,
with his poor health and country background, no very great catch
for anyone.  It was true that his social value had risen a little
after his sister Judith married the Honourable Ernest Bligh, who
might, with good fortune, be one day Lord Monyngham, but Judith,
after her marriage, disregarded her family entirely, and never
again came near Keswick--no, not even when her mother died.

It was well known, too, that neither Raiseley nor Mary had been a
grand success in London.  That was why, perhaps, they had married
one another, a fellow-feeling making them wondrous kind.  So back
to Keswick they had come, Raiseley to cheer the remaining years of
his poor old father, who could not move for the gout, Mary to rule
the household, and so much of Keswick as she could ensnare, most

They did not often invite Deborah to come and see them, and Deborah
had determined to refuse when they did, because Mary would not see
her father, would not come out to Herries, would not speak to him
if she saw him in Keswick.

'If father is not good enough for Mary I am not,' said Deborah, and
then sighed because there were so many who would not speak to her

But now, on this occasion, her father had insisted that she should
go.  He had kissed her, looking at her with that queer, ironical
smile that still, even after all these years, frightened her so

'Thou'dst best go, Deb.  And maybe there'll be some spoiling of the
Egyptians.  Anyway, it will help Davy.'

So they had left him, standing in the little grass-grown courtyard
with fat Benjamin and Benjamin's thin wife Marjorie (whom he had
married out of Newlands some ten years ago), standing there gaunt
and shabby, grand and lonely, shading his eyes against the sun,
then turning back to the old house with that odd, absorbed,
dreaming look as though he had already forgotten them, almost, with
that one turn of the heel, putting them out of existence.

They were climbing up out of Grange, and soon the lake came into
view.  It was an early autumn afternoon of crystal clarity; the
lake, Skiddaw, and Saddleback behind it, were as though they were
enclosed in a series of mirrors.  The lake was a bowl of pale-blue
glass, cracked here and there with silver splinters.  Over a
portion of it shadows of rose amber tumbled with a faint, rippling
stillness, as though one were breathing on it to stir it.  Lord's
Island lay on this silver-blue like a ball of ebony ruffled at its
edge by the silhouette of its trees.  On the farther side the
fields, bright green in the sun, rose to the slopes of Saddleback
that was beginning gently to change from amber to purple, and
behind the dark line of the hill the sky was almost whitewashed,
with a little colour.

So, as the eye travelled upwards, it moved from dark to light, from
light to dark, but always with the tranquillity of perfect harmony.
The air about them, as they rode, shared this crystal purity with
the scene.  One pale cloud, blown open into the shape of a great
white rose, travelled over their heads.

For Deborah this Lake had grown to have almost a magical splendour.
Although Rosthwaite was some miles away, she walked continually to
Grange, to Manesty, even to Portinscale, to sit beside it, listen
to the trees whispering and the broken ripple of the tiny waves
against the stones.  Even physically she had some kinship with the
Lake.  In no way beautiful, rather broad and shapeless of figure,
her pale gentle face, her hair faintly gold, her steady honest
gaze, her spiritual QUIETNESS belonged to the coves and shallows
and wooded shelters of the Lake-side.  There was strength and
force, too, behind her gentleness, just as the Lake had strength
and force.  She lived securely and proudly within her borders as
the Lake lived.

As they rode she noticed all the trees, mountain-ash, holly, ivy,
hawthorn, yew; and they were all transformed for her into a sort of
glory.  Rocks here and there by the side of the lake glittered in
the sun.  She thought to herself how passionately moving this world
would be were she seeing it for the first time on such a day.  She
would surely say to herself:  'This must be a very holy place.'
But now that she knew it so very well it was not less holy, and in
every different mood it seemed to have a different holiness.

David broke the beautiful silence.

'We're coming to a new time, Deb, a modern world; with these new
toll-roads our valley will be enclosed no longer.'

'It will be better for riding to Keswick.'

'Aye, there'll be good things doubtless, but it will be sad to see
the old world go.  I doubt that you will find anything grander in
the world than our Statesmen--Peel and Elliot, and Curtis and
Ramsay, more self-dependent, more self-sufficing, owing nothing to
any man. . . .'

'They have been cruel to father,' she answered fiercely, an odd
fierceness to come from her placid countenance.

'Nay, not cruel,' he answered with his customary slowness, as
though he thought every word out before he uttered it.  'He's
strange to them, and I don't wonder.  These last eleven years--
we've talked of it many a time--he's been like a man lost.  Since
the Rebellion, when we were in Carlisle, he's been a "fey" man.  As
though he were searching for something he could never mind.  He
loves me, I know, but he'll tell me nothing.  He's as strong and
hearty as he was twenty years gone--more hearty for all the walking
he does--but it's of no avail to try to keep him to business.  He
is happier walking the Fell than any other way, he's happier silent
than speaking, happier alone than with company.  There was
something in Carlisle, all those years ago. . . .'  He broke off,
then turned on his horse towards her, speaking more rapidly:  'I've
never told you, Deb.  I've never told any man.  There was a night
in Carlisle--after the Prince made his entry--I was climbing into
my bed: I had gone an instant to the window to see whether the snow
was falling.  I heard the door open and turned.  Our father was in
the doorway, white as a cleaned stone.  He stumbled and held by the
bed-post.  I thought he would fall and ran to catch him.  He held
by my shoulder.  His nails dug into the flesh.  I asked him what it
was, whether he were sick.  He nodded his head and looked as though
he did not see me.  He put his hand flat on my naked heart.

'"Aye, sick," he answered me, "and unhappy, Davy."  Then he went
out.  I did not dare to follow him.  I waited, listening for a
sound.  There was none.  In the morning he was as he has been since--
closed, lost and alone.  They are right to fear him, Peel, Curtis,
and the rest.  He's a man lost.'

Deborah answered at last:

'He was never as we were, never like any other.  But I love him now
as I never did.  I always feared him.  Now I would be proud to
comfort him, would he let me.'

'Aye, but he will not let you--nor anyone.'

They rode on silently for a time.  Then David spoke again.

'I have a hard evening, Deb,' he said.  'I've to tell Christina
that I'll not be marrying her.'

'Oh!' cried Deborah.  'I'm glad!'

'Yes.'  He nodded his head.  'You never liked it, Deb.  I fancy you
will never care for me to marry.  But it must be one day.  I must
have children.  But it'll not be Christina who'll be their mother.'

'What's decided you?' she asked him.

'I do not love her.  I have never loved her.  I thought she'd be
grand for a wife, in all the outward things, you understand.
Mellways would be a fine house and there's broad land with it.
She's kind, but wearisome.  Her voice has a fearful monotony.  And
she doesn't love me herself.  It's her dogs and her horses that
have her real fancy.  She's been thinking I'd be good for looking
after the horses.'  He chuckled in his slow, drawling way.  'And
her eyes are not even,' he added.

'I'm glad, I'm glad.'  Deborah almost sang it.  'I knew that you
were not lovers and that she would contemn Herries and would take
you away and would think me a dolt.  Aye, she does that already.'

David sighed.  'But it will be uneasy telling her.  I'm not grand
at speeches.  Love's a strange thing, Deb.  You go to your bed
thinking that you love a girl and you wake in the morning to know
her eyes are crooked. . . .'  He hesitated, then went on:  'I
should be marrying.  I was six-and-thirty last Martinmas, and I've
money enough now.  But it's the children rather than the woman I
dream of.'

Deborah answered:  'You're in luck, Davy, because you're a man.
I'm younger, and yet I'm now an old maid.  I could have loved a
man, but no man has ever fancied me.'

'To-night, maybe,' said David.  'Don't lose heart, Deb.'  But he
didn't say it with great conviction.  It was true.  Deborah had
always been an old maid and would always be one.  Not like her
sister Mary, who had made eyes at men since she was a baby.

As they rode through Portinscale village over the stream by old
Crosthwaite Church into Keswick (the shadow of Skiddaw, russet and
silver-grey, sprawling above them), he fell into thought.

He had very much to think of.  He was a boy no longer, a man of
thirty-six.  Things were approaching a crisis, and he must come to
some man's decision.  He could see, looking back over the last ten
years, that he had been almost incredibly influenced in his actions
by his father's; incredibly because his father had neither by word
nor action tried to influence him, had told him indeed, again and
again, that he must break away, make his own life now, leave him
and even forget him.

His affairs had developed beyond all reasonable expectation during
those years.  The little enterprise in Liverpool that had started
with a share in two small trading vessels had grown until he had
his finger now in half a dozen Liverpool ventures.  He had bought
land in Borrowdale, beyond Keswick towards Troutbeck and at the
farther end of Bassenthwaite towards Cockermouth.  It was not that
he had a brilliant head for commerce, but he was notably honest and
upright, very sure if also slow, kindly and agreeable to deal with.
He had, too, a wider and deeper sense of the social changes that
were moving under his feet than had most of the men around him.  He
perceived that these years that followed the '45 Rebellion were
opening up the North.  He could not perceive that he was now living
at the commencement of England's great new industrial life, but he
understood something of the new inventions and sniffed more in the
air.  It would be fifty years yet before the world that he foresaw
was in true being, but, in his own small individual way, he was
part of it.

But, with this new and exciting world of affairs, his father would
have no touch; nay, would not, could not.  He had been willing,
almost eager at first, to help in the little Keswick office that
David had now for his own behind the Assembly Rooms toward the
Kendal road.  He had a brain far abler and more brilliant than
David's, but it would not stick into these items of lading and
shipping and transport.  He did not care: he could not bother with

So, after a while, he slipped back to Herries, and David was glad
that he went, for not only did he confuse any issue that he
touched, but his own unpopularity with the outside world hampered
the business at every step.  It was not only the old evil
reputation that he already had, but the new evil reputation that he
was for ever creating.  He no longer kissed the women and gambled
and drank with the men.  It had been better maybe if he had.  He
held aloof from all social contact; when he met a man he looked at
him with his cold ironic eyes and as often as not turned on his
heel without a word, and this, as David knew, not from scorn,
arrogance or pride--these fires had remarkably died in him--but
rather that his mind was altogether elsewhere, searching for
something, dreaming of something, regretting, hoping--at least in
no mood for Liverpool trade.

So back to Herries he went.  Here, too, he was odd, almost to
madness.  He would have no stranger in to improve the house.  He or
Benjamin or David might support a tottering wall, mend a gaping
stair, fill in a window--no strangers.  Nor would he permit David
to buy more land to go with the house.  There was at one time a
fair lot available that would have made Herries a fine property,
but Francis would have none of it.  He dug still in his one or two
barren fields as he had always done, planted what would not grow,
dug to sterility, and was quiescent.  This and his rovings gave him
a kind of restless contentment.  With every year he roved farther--
looking for what? for whom?  On horse or on foot he had covered all
the country from Shap to Gosforth, from Uldale to Stanley Gill.
Every stream and every hill he knew.  Here, in this soil and rocky
fell, lay his passionate devotion.  One of two; the other

To David and Deborah his manner remained always the same, jestingly
ironic, scornfully loquacious, lovingly friendly of a sudden, then
for a day, two days, a week utterly silent, while his eyes roved,
his ears were acock listening for a step.  It was keeping company
with a haunted man.

But where in this lay his influence?  David could not say, except
that quite simply he loved him.  He loved him, it seemed, more with
every year and understood him less.  As Deborah had once said,
where she and David left off, their father began.  He was in
country that they had never so much as seen a map of.

But things were reaching a crisis.  David hated Herries.  He had
perhaps always at heart hated it since, the first of that family,
he had crossed its threshold and seen those chill suits of armour
receive him.  He hated the house for its darkness, gloom, damp,
moth-eaten, grudging spirit.  He hated it because of the things
that had happened there--the long-ago evil of Alice Press, his
mother's death, old Mrs. Wilson the witch, and all the superstition
and avoidance that had grown up around his father there.  He wanted
to leave it to die its own death.  He was convinced that if he
could take his father away from there his father would become
another man.  This odd wearisome passion his father had for finding
something that would put everything right and fair would die in
another, healthier atmosphere.  David loathed everything that was
dark and damp, morbid and introspective, superstitious and
nightmare-ish.  These things, he thought, did not properly belong
to his father, but had been bred in him by the place.

At his engagement to Christina Paull he had expected a settlement.
They would live near by Penrith, and his father would live with
them.  But Christina had plainly denied that, and so had his
father.  His father had loathed Christina, calling her a 'tight-
nostrilled bitch,' but had in no way persuaded David against the

'A mare like that,' he had said, 'cannot step in between our lives
together, not though you live in China.'

And David had found that true.  Without saying a word, his father
had in some way shown him how truly impossible Christina would be.

David had been greatly relieved to see the impossibility; but yet,
did it mean that he was never to escape his father, never have his
own life, nor children, nor freedom?  Why did he love his father so
fiercely, when he did not at all understand him and often was
infuriated by him?  There was some bone in him that was his
father's bone.  That was the only answer.

As they rode into Keswick he shook his head with a kind of despair,
and Deborah, who had been riding quietly on Appleseed beside him,
looked up as though she expected him to speak.  But he said
nothing, only sighed very deeply.

And so they came to old Uncle Pomfret's house.

Externally it had not changed very much in the last twenty-five
years.  When David, as a small boy, had first seen it on that
memorable occasion of his visit with his mother, it had seemed a
palace of a shining and a glittering splendour.  Now it was a small
place.  The trees had grown in the garden, the fountain, once of so
incredible a beauty, was now diminished and stained with rain: sic
transit gloria!

But within Mary had made everything as fine and modern as
Raiseley's stingy habits would allow her.  She had two footmen, and
in the saloon (which appeared now to David amazingly small) a
beautiful Bury four-backed settee and some exceedingly handsome
Chippendale chairs with cabriole legs.

Although, as David very well knew, she cared nothing at all for
literature, she had Sir Charles Grandison, Thomson's epic poem,
Liberty, and Glover's tragedy, Boadicea, prominently displayed on
her table.

He regarded his sister critically: never having liked her, he had
not denied her opulent beauty.  She was yet beautiful, but was too
thin and haggard, and her eyes and mouth wore a discontented and
peevish expression.  The Herries, because of their prominent horse-
like bones, were not advantaged by thinness.  Her cheeks were
strongly painted, and her wig very high and decorated with pompoms.

She greeted her brother and sister with the condescension she
always used, but, David thought, with a certain anxiety, as though
she would, if she knew how, win them to her side.  At their
entrance the two infants, the boy Pomfret, aged five, and Cynthia,
aged two, were in course of display to their reluctant relatives.
They were plain children, the girl clear Herries, thin, pale and
bony, the boy plump, with the features of his grandfather.  They
howled lustily, and had to be removed by their fat kindly Aunt
Anabel, whose complacency seemed armoured against any vexation.

The little parlour was hot and over-filled with Herries.
Grandison, his wife Mary, and Cousin Pelham were there; Uncle
Harcourt, now sixty-eight years of age, frail and delicate like a
piece of china; and Dorothy Forster, stiff in creaking black, as
gloomy and funereal as ever.

Pelham was the grand one of the party.  He was now thirty-eight
years of age, still a bachelor, very elegant indeed, and kindly
with it.  He seemed to Deborah's country eyes the handsomest man
she had ever seen, with his slim body, suit of black and silver; he
was Herries at its most elegant.  All the Herries breeding seemed
to have concentrated in his repose of bearing, humorous knowledge
of the world, languor, superior indifference.  Deborah could not
but wonder what it was that had brought him to so rustic a ball in
so small a country place.

It was his mother who had brought him, he having gone to her, as on
many another occasion, to see whether she had a plan that would
relieve him of some of the more tiresome of his debts.  These were
the only occasions when he did go to her, her maternal solicitude
and anxious care of him boring him exceedingly.  But he was always
courteous to her when he WAS with her, making up in manner what he
omitted by his constant absence.

This time she had the excellent notion that Uncle Harcourt might be
of use.  Here was a source untapped, and, if Herries gossip were to
be trusted, a rich source too.  It stood to reason that a bachelor,
living alone in a world-away seclusion like Ravenglass, with no one
but himself to consider, must have a fair sum of money put by.
Moreover, little Uncle Harcourt was sixty-eight, and, as things
were, could not be expected to live for ever. . . .  So Pelham had
already suggested to his little uncle that he should come and stay
for a while at Ravenglass, and the charm of his manner had been no
whit abated by the obvious reluctance of his uncle (who was not
born yesterday) to have him.

Mary Herries, stout, overbearing and ill-mannered, had tried to
subdue her personality to the desperate needs of her son, and had
wooed Harcourt like any sucking-dove.  This had been no easy task
for her, and the entry of the large handsome David, who was, she
knew, Harcourt's favourite nephew, did not please her at all.  She
gave David the barest of greetings, and poor Deborah no greeting

Deborah indeed found her ultimate comfort with poor old Uncle
Pomfret alone in his room, trophies of the chase mouldering about
him, and his leg (already huge enough) swollen to twice its natural
size and laid out on a chair in front of him.

Poor Uncle Pomfret, rotten now with gout, and deserted in his own
house, seventy-eight years of age, and no one caring whether he
lived or died!  Gone were all his blustering, hunting years; gone
his oaths, his country pastimes, his childish prides, his simple

When his wife Jannice had died, he had thought, poor fool, that it
was not a bad thing.  She had worn him to an irritable thread with
her medicines, tempers and dominance.  Now, on how many a lonely
afternoon he would wish her back again!  His gout would have been
for her the very thing that she wanted!  Would she not have loved
to posset him and bleed him and cosset him!  Might they not have
found in their mutually sick old age a mutual love and comfort?

It was true that his daughter Anabel did for him what she could,
but it was Anabel's mania these days to be, of all things
incongruous with her stout form and rosy cheeks, a blue-stocking.

She had corresponded with Mrs. Delany and sent a long screed to
Lady Mary Montagu on the smallpox, and, on a visit to London, she
had attended a meeting in Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu's famous Chinese
drawing-room in Hill Street.  Nothing would hold her after her
return, and although she was kind to her old father when she
thought of him, she forgot him for most of the time.

So there poor Uncle Pomfret was, and tears poured down his cheeks
as Deborah sat beside him, stroked his puffed and swollen hands and
settled his pillows.  Huskily he asked her how her father did, and
could not hear enough of what she had to tell him.

'Brother Francis!  Brother Francis!  He was closer to me than any
of them.  But I was afraid of your aunt, my dear. . . .  And
Francis didn't want me, didn't want any of us. . . .  I mind when I
went to see your poor mother afore she died--poor soul!  Sitting up
in bed for manners' sake when she was almost gone.  Francis felt
her going, although he was always too clever for her. . . .  Here,
bend thy head a moment, little darling, and I'll whisper thee

Deborah bent her head and felt his hot liquorish breath and the odd
touch of his burning hand against her fresh cheek.

'When thou hast a man, don't take one too clever like thy father,
for he'll dream without thee; nor stupid like thy old uncle, for
he'll not dream at all.  Do thou the dreaming, and he'll never
leave thee.'  He thought this mighty clever and lay there chuckling
until the chuckle brought on the gout, and his pain was a torment
to see.

On the third night was the Ball.

They did not go until nearly eleven o'clock, because they were the
gentry and it was not genteel to go too early.

The Assembly Room was a small room, even by Carlisle or Kendal
standards, but to Deborah it seemed like Paradise indeed.

She would have clapped her hands, had she dared, at the shining
candles, the little gallery with its gilded scroll where the
musicians were, the alcoves where the food was--jellies, syllabubs,
cakes, orgeat, lemonade, fruits and the rest--the gleaming floor,
the hangings of red and blue, the rows of benches down the side all
covered with persons in the most beautiful dresses.

It was the second ball only of her life, although she was thirty-
three, and by contemporary standards an old maid.  But she did not
look thirty-three that night in the new dress that David had bought
for her in Liverpool.  This dress was not grand, with its modest
hoop and gentle frills and fichus, but its rose colour went
prettily with the freshness of her cheeks and bosom.  Her figure
was too large and full, but this to-night gave her strength and
honesty, and she had always masked gracefully, like the well-born
lady that she was.

At first she could see little, because of her terror of the
enormous Mary Herries at whose side she seemed remorselessly
attached.  Mary Herries and Grandison were almost the largest
persons in the room, and looked double their natural size because
of their magnificent clothes.  Mary Herries' hoop was as wide as
the globe, and her wig, in which nestled birds, flowers and fruit
of the gayest colours, towered to heaven.

Grandison in crimson and silver, as stout as he was tall, as superb
in his own estimation as he was stout, was thought by some of the
yokels peering in through the door to be the King of England.
Well, they were Herries from London, and so must show these country

In a brief while, happily, they forgot Deborah, and she was able to
sit on a bench and look at the world.

The townspeople were dancing country dances; the minuets would come

Deborah, who had a sharp Herries eye, saw many things: how the
townspeople grew demure with the appearance of the gentry, and
plainly less happy; how little Mr. Gibbon of the china shop (whom
she knew well and liked greatly) was already drunken, and his wife
in an agony of alarm; how charming Pelham was, moving about so
gracefully, speaking to everyone with such kindness; how greedy and
sulky Raiseley was, going to one of the alcoves by himself and
helping himself to syllabub; how grand Mary thought herself, moving
about among the townspeople as though she owned all of them, but
always with that unhappy, discontented look in her eyes; how
speedily David had caught a glimpse of Christina Paull and moved
hurriedly in another direction (and what a darling, and how
handsome and how superior to everyone else in the room!); and what
fun the country dances were (her feet were moving to the gay
tinkling little tune!), and how she did hope that someone presently
would invite her to dance; and what fun balls were, and why had she
not been to more of them; and how the girls clustered together and
giggled and made eyes at the men (and how odd it was that she had
not a girl friend in the world, nor had ever had one), and--

At this moment she was aware that someone was sitting very close to
her, and this someone a man.  She turned round and saw, next to her
on the bench, a short, sturdy little clergyman with a chubby face.

He must, she thought, be someone's private chaplain, perhaps from
the Castle at Cockermouth or one of the grand country houses.  He
looked a gentleman (she stole several very careful glances).  Many
of the clergymen known to her had been little better than the
peasantry, living a life of the utmost poverty and treated
accordingly.  Most of the grander clergymen she had heard of never
went near their parishes, and visited Bath or Harrogate.

This clergyman--his hair was tinged with grey--looked healthy,
strong and a gentleman.  She thought him very pleasant.  And
apparently he thought her so, for presently he shifted his broad
shoulders and turned to her, smiling most charmingly.  He
apologised for not allowing her room and stood up that she might
have more.  She, blushing, begged that he should sit down again.
But he looked very well standing there on sturdy legs, his face a
fresh colour, his eyes (as she was ashamed to notice) very large
and fine.

'Pray, sir, be seated,' she said, smiling in her turn.

'I fear I incommode you.'

'Why, no, sir, there is room.'

He sat down again.

'The music is excellent,' he remarked.

'For a little place, I agree,' Deborah replied, feeling a proper
woman of the world.

Very soon they were talking.  He told her that he was but newly
come to the neighbourhood, being in charge of a Cockermouth parish.
He told her that he had been chaplain to Lord and Lady Padmont in
Rutlandshire, and very kind patrons they had been.  She discovered,
too, that he was greatly interested in Nature and especially in
birds, and this was a great link between them, because she was
interested in Nature too.

Then he asked her whether she would not care for a little
refreshment, and they walked together to the alcove.  She did not
know whether she were not exceeding proper modesty in this, but
after all she was thirty-three and he was a clergyman.

Then, over a syllabub, he introduced himself.  His name was Gordon
Sunwood, the Sunwoods of Gloucestershire.  He was, he told her,
thirty-eight years of age and (blushing at the confession) a

He then added, touching (quite accidentally) the back of her hand
with his, that he was a bachelor because he had not until now seen
anyone who combined the qualities of a saintly spirit, a beautiful
person and a merry heart.  He wasn't sure, he added, whether the
last were not the most important of the three.  He did enjoy a
joke, and had found nothing in Holy Scripture to condemn such a
taste.  But there: of course, were he ever so fortunate as to
discover the Fair Divinity with the triple merit, it was unlikely
that she, on her side, would be ready to share his modest Parsonage
and slender stipend.  But to THAT must add (this he almost
whispered, sinking his voice to an incredible roguishness) a
certain little fortune of his own, left him by a friendly aunt, so
that things were not so bad, and in case of offspring . . .

But, at this point, Deborah could only decide that he had been
drinking a little.  And yet, even though he had, she could not but
think him charming.  It was true that clergymen were little higher
in the social scale than hostlers or dairymen, but Deborah was no
snob and, considering that she lived in a tumbledown manor with a
father ostracised by all the country-side, she had no reason to be.
In any case she did not care.  She liked this little man with the
round bullet head and cheeks like a russet apple and thick sturdy
back and warm voice and clear twinkling eyes.  Nay, although she
had spoken with him but ten minutes, she more than liked him
already.  And this was her first adventure with a man in all her
thirty-three years!

David meanwhile was having an experience less agreeable than that
of his sister.  He noticed neither the shimmering candles nor the
fiddle, fife and drum, nor the orgeat and syllabub.  He had eyes
only for Miss Christina Paull, and they were not, alas, eyes of

He wondered as, fixed into a little corner with this lady, he
glanced at her, how he could ever have contemplated matrimony with
her.  And as with many a man before and after him, behind the
immediate misery of his horrid task was a glimpse of the glories of
later freedom.

Miss Paull made things more easy for him by, most rashly, laying
down some laws for their future comfort.  She was a very determined
young woman, Amazonian in build and colour, smelling freshly and
quite pleasantly of the stables and spreading her legs apart as
though she were always, in her imagination, astride a horse.

What she wanted to say was that she was very sorry indeed, but that
after their marriage David must leave his father behind him.  She
had heard rumours that he intended to move his father along with

David saw his advantage.  Like many another who contemplates
diplomatically a quarrel, he snatched at any trivial excuse for

'My father is not to be moved thus lightly,' he said.  'If he cares
to come with me, he will come.'

Christina, with that kindly good-humoured patronage that she
applied to all human beings (regretting that for their own
advantage they were not horses or dogs), explained patiently that
she meant no criticism of his father; she had no doubt but that he
was an excellent man.  Nevertheless he was not a comfortable man,
not an easy man, not an ordinary man.  Married persons were better
without relatives in their house.

That was undeniable.  David did not contradict it, but, shifting
his huge body on the little gilded chair until it creaked again, he
remarked that perhaps, maybe, after all it were possible. . . .
The words choked in his throat.

But Christina Paull knew well enough what it was that he intended
to say.  She was not at all sure but that he was right.  She was as
independent as any of her feminine descendants two hundred years
later were likely to be.  Her only relation was her old father, who
was drinking with the stable-boys most of the day and drunk with
the neighbouring Squire all the night.  Nevertheless she had, since
her plighting with David, heard so much of his own scandalous
father that she was already half shrinking from her bargain.

She was no very sensual female; men would never mean very much to
her, but David had caught her with his strength, health, amazing
bodily vigour.  But when she had bedded with him a month or two and
the novelty of it was worn a little, what then?--there would be the
father, the strange family history, witches and adulteries and
general vagabondage. . . .  She was not so sure.

But David was quite sure.  His mind was suddenly clear, his courage
certain and undaunted.

He smiled at her charmingly, as though he were offering her a
kingdom, and said:

'We'll not be marrying, Christina.'

She took his statement as clearly as he gave it.

'It is, perhaps, wiser.'  She looked at him, and liked him better
than she had ever done before.

'I think,' she said, 'I'm not a marrying female.'

In his relief David would have offered her the gold of the Indies
had his hands contained the treasure.

He nodded his head.  'I also.  Marriage is a hampering state.'

She laughed, then bent towards him, tapping his shoulder with her
fan, like a horse in skittish mood.  It was a frank age.  'There is
nothing against going to bed with you, David, on a dark night,' she

David crimsoned to his fair hair.

'I doubt that you'd like it,' he said.  'I'm a heavy sleeper.'

So they parted most excellent friends; and, a year later, Christina
married Sir Roger Bollinger, who knew more about horses, cock-
fighting and the breeding of spaniels than anyone in the north of
England.  She had nine children, and behaved to them as a bitch
does to her puppies, caring for them when they were young and
tender, but, when they grew, forgetting them entirely in the odours
of the stable and the ardours of the chase.

And David--but that is another story.

The minuet was over.  David, watching its last delicate graces, was
amazed to see that his Deborah had for her partner a little stout
parson, who, strutting, preening, flaunting, bowing, was like a
cock before its mate.

The dance concluded, the little parson bowed and retired, after
showing Deborah to a seat.  There David found her.  She was
flushed, her bosom heaved, her eyes shone; she was prettier than he
had ever seen her.  He seated himself beside her.

'Why, Deb,' he said, 'what's this?  A clergyman?'

She seemed scarcely to hear him, then turned to him and answered:
'He is the Reverend Gordon Sunwood.  He is of a Gloucestershire
family.  He has now a living in Cockermouth.  He has been very
attentive, David.'

David took her hand between his.  'Dear Deb. . . .  And is he
already a suitor?'

She took her hand away.  'That is unkind.  He has only talked with
me a little.  He is interested in Nature, and has a remarkable
knowledge of birds.'

David chuckled.  'Beware, then, of his bird-nesting.'  Then,
boyishly happy over his freedom, he went on:  'It is done, Deb.
The task is over.  She is of the same mind.  As I am no horse nor a
rare-bred dog, she is to be yet a maid.  And we are good friends
over it.'

Deborah almost danced on her bench.

'Oh, Davy, I'm so glad.  'Twould never have done.  She'd have made
you sleep in a kennel and given you a fine bridle.  Oh, Davy, I am
so happy!  I was never so happy before nor saw anything so
beautiful as this is!  Are not the lights fine?--and although I had
not danced since Christmas, Mr. Sunwood found me "exquisite."  That
is what he said!  I--exquisite!  But to watch the world and its
follies; I swear I could sit here the night through!'

'Yes,' said David, smiling at her, 'with the bird-fancier at your
side.'  As he looked at her, a tender compassion over her happiness
pervaded him.  She who had for so many years, without grumble or
complaint, borne the closed-in, stifling, melancholy life of
Herries, making no friends, having no gaiety, fighting her fears
and loneliness and depression without a word to anyone, there was
courage and character there!  And to be so deeply pleased with this
little country scene and amateur gaiety!  Shame on himself and his
father that they could have suffered it so long!

He could have kissed her there where she sat before them all, but
they were interrupted by the portentous figure of Aunt Mary
Herries, who hung over them like a battleship and finally demanded
his company.

But Deborah was not to be alone for long.  Of all amazing things,
the elegant and wonderful Pelham had sought her out and was sitting
at her side.

She would have been afraid of him had she been less happy.  As it
was, he caught her happiness and her freshness, and to his stale
thoughts, plain though in truth he thought his country cousin,
there was charm and pleasure here.  His heart was good, though his
morality was worn.

He was at his most delightful.  Timidly she asked about London and
the grand world.  Gaily he told her tales and anecdotes and
adventures, all of a decorous kind.  He told her how a friend of
his, Mr. Spencer, had married Miss Pointy, and come up to town in
three coaches-and-six with a company of two hundred horsemen.

He gave her dreadful details of the Lisbon Earthquake.  He
described to her the London fashions: how gowns were pinned rather
closer than before, hoops as flat as though made of pasteboard and
as stiff, the shape sloping from the hips and spreading at the
bottom, enormous but not so ugly as the square hoops.  Heads now
very variously adorned, pompoms with some accompaniment of
feathers, ribbons or flowers; lappets in all sorts of sizes; long
hoods worn close under the chin, the strings go round the neck and
tie with bows and ends behind.  Night-gowns worn without hoops.  He
was as gay and attentive as though she were the only lady in the
world.  It was true that he did not ask her to dance, but perhaps
he was wearied of dancing.

Before he left her, very earnestly looking her in the eyes, he
said:  'Dear Cousin Deborah, pray for me on occasion.  I wish all
the world well, save myself.  I have the taste to be a monk, but,
alas, not the character.  I am going to the devil as fast as may
be, but have dreams of another world.'

As he said this, he had, she thought, a strange look of her father,
something ironical, regretting and doomed.  She felt very, very
tender towards him.  But when he was gone, the most charming and
distinguished person in the room, her eyes were looking, her heart
was beating for her little clergyman.  She could not help herself.
She did not know whether it were right or wrong.  She did not care.

And he returned to her.  He bent towards her, sinking his voice to
the most delicious of confidential whispers.  He told her that he
had been thinking only of the moment when he might come to her.  He
offered her his arm.  They walked the length of the room together.
He complained of the heat.  She acquiesced.  They passed behind the
hanging curtains, pushed a door, and they were in a little yard at
the back of the Assembly Rooms, under a sky sheeted with stars, a
faint breeze whispering at their ear.

'You will take cold.'

He put his arm about her.  She leaned against him, and could feel
his heart beat against her arm.

He asked whether he might write; she murmured 'Yes'.  And he bent
his head and kissed her, the first kiss from a lover that she had
ever received.

So the evening had gone well for Deborah.


They rode off next morning in the pouring rain.  This rain was the
especial and peculiar property of the district, rain that must
often fall behind any chronicle of human lives here.

It was rain of a relentless, determined, soaking, penetrating kind.
No other rain anywhere, at least in the British Isles (which have a
prerogative of many sorts of rain), falls with so determined a
fanatical obstinacy as does this rain.  It is not that the sky in
any deliberate mood decides to empty itself.  It is rain that has
but little connection either with earth or with sky, but rather has
a life of its own, stern, remorseless and kindly.  It falls in
sheets of steely straightness, and through it is the rhythm of the
beating hammer.  It is made up of opposites, impersonal and yet
greatly personal, strong and gentle, ironical and understanding.
The one thing that it is not is sentimental.

The newcomer is greatly alarmed by it, and says:  'Oh, Lord! Lord!
how can I live under this!'; the citizen of five years' habitation
is deprecating to strangers but proud in his heart; the true native
swears there is no rain like it in the world and will change it for
none other.

Any true chronicler of the Herries family will be forced,
frequently, to speak of this rain.

David and Deborah, their horses, Absalom and Appleseed, passed
through it as though it were their only wear.  The whole country
was blotted out by it, the lake quite invisible, the hills
smothered in quilted cloud.  The path, that could not yet be
dignified by the name of road, was in a condition of indescribable
mire and ruin.  It needed a very little to make it difficult;
tomorrow it would be impassable.  But the horses plunged and waded
their way through, while the trees bent to the deluge and the
hammer beat, beat, beat in the clouded barriers of the mist.

David and Deborah were very happy, riding home.  They said very
little to one another, because it was difficult to talk through the
rain and because each had important thoughts to investigate and

David was happy because he liked (as all true Herries like) his
meeting with the other Herries.  He had felt a warm companionship
with his poor old Uncle Pomfret, with Uncle Grandison, with dear
little Uncle Harcourt and especially with Cousin Pelham.  With all
of them, different as they were, there had been a blood tie which
he had recognised and they also.

Pelham had shown especial friendship and had invited him to London.
David thought that he would go.  It would be good for his business;
he felt, too, a sympathy with this world of brocade, silver
candlesticks, soft voices, delicately nurtured women.  He had been
a savage too long.  He knew now that he was not much longer for
Herries.  He was happy, too, because he had escaped from Christina
Paull, and escaped so politely, with neither harsh words nor hurt

And Deborah?  Deborah swam through the rain in a streaming and
glorious splendour.  Her happiness was so great that she was truly
and magnificently born again.  The kiss of last evening had
transformed her.  She rode, her head up, her eyes alight, her mouth
curved in a retrospective smile.  She did not doubt but that she
would marry him.  He had not asked her, but he would.  He was
honest and good.  A clergyman?  Well, but she was very suited to be
a clergyman's wife and the mother of a clergyman's children.  At
the thought of the children her heart hammered with joy to answer
the hammer of the rain.  How good, how generous, how well-wishing
life was!

So they rode, and it was not until they were feeling their way
cautiously through the mud below the Bowder Stone that Deborah was
suddenly uneasy.  What distressed her?  She could not say.  She was
very sensitive to these mysterious, unreasoning impressions, and
especially in this valley, which had always seemed to her to have a
peculiar, magical quality of its own.  She told herself at first
that it was her thought of Mrs. Wilson and her horrible death that
still, after all these years, lingered with her.  She always hated
Cumma Catta Wood, with its pagan sacrifices and scent of murder.
But soon, as they turned down the lane that led to Rosthwaite, she
knew that it was not that.

She was increasingly apprehensive.  It might be her dislike of
Herries; especially it seemed to her dreary and forbidding after
the social brightness of last evening.  But it was not Herries
alone.  On the little mound that rose above the shaggy path that
led to the house her father was standing.  They could see him,
waiting there in the rain, his cape over his head, leaning on his

David said:  'Father is waiting for us.  Something has occurred.'

And Deborah, as so often she had felt before at the thought of her
father, knew a sickening apprehension of dismay.  Some evil thing
had come.

Then when she was face to face with him she knew that he was
radiantly, wildly happy.  She had never seen this light in his face
before.  It transformed him, even as she herself had been
transformed last evening.  At the sight of his happiness she, too,
was happy again.  Her apprehension left her, and when he held her
and kissed her wet cheek she stayed with him, letting his arm
encircle her.

He was happy and he was shy too.  They had dismounted from their
horses, but he kept them there.  'Wait!' he said.  'Before you go
to the house. . . .'  He seemed like a boy, in spite of his grey
hair, long about his neck, and his figure, bent a little from his
persistent labours.

'There is someone . . . I must tell you . . .'  He stammered a
little.  He put his arms about both of them, drawing them to him,
and the rain fell all round them in walls of silver steel.

'There is a lady here in the house; this very day I am to marry
her.  Davy, Deb, be kind to her.  She is strange here. . . .
Please me in this.'  His voice was triumphant, as though he wanted
all the world to hear his news.

They were bewildered; intent upon their own affairs, this sudden
transition was amazing, paralysing.  Marriage?  Their father?  Now?
At once?  At Herries?  But whom?  Was this some sudden freak, mad
gesture, crazy eccentricity?

'Marriage, father?  To-day?  Here?'  David was stammering in his

'Yes--to-day.  Here.'  His father mocked him, pressing him closer
to his side.  'I was in to Keswick yesterday.  I have been
bustling; have been with the surrogate, and have the licence.  And
this afternoon there will be the clergyman.  Don't be angry with
me, Davy, for not telling you.  For eleven years now I have served
my 'prenticeship, and she has come to me of her own free will.
These last months it has gone hard with her.  Be gentle with her.'

David was silent.  What was he to say?  Who was this woman?
Another Alice Press?  But behind his almost breathless astonishment
was the thought that this new move would, whatever else it
involved, help him to his own freedom.  But then, as they neared
the house-door, his love for his father overwhelmed every other

It might be that this would be some woman who would be good to him,
care for him, devote herself to his comfort.

He turned at the house-door and put his hand on his father's arm.
'If this is for your happiness, father,' he said, 'Heaven bless
her, whoever she may be.'

He had in his mind (thinking still, possibly, of Alice Press) the
image of some large opulent woman who had caught his father's
fancy.  He mounted the stairs and turned into the dining-hall,
which was, even now in this morning hour, brilliantly lit by a high
cluster of candles on the broad table and a great fire in the open
fireplace.  Under all this splendour the tapestries, the portrait
of old Herries leapt in the air, and the room was alive with the
drumming of the rain on the panes.

A girl in some dress of flaming orange and crimson, seated on a low
stool, was crouching towards the fire, her head in her hands.

As they all came in she turned round facing them, and then, seeing
them, jumped to her feet as though to defend herself.

The three stood for a moment motionless by the stair-head while the
girl confronted them.  She made indeed an astonishing picture.  For
David she would always be the figure of that first moment.  But it
was not for him the first moment.  He recognised her at once as the
'robber-girl' (so he used to call her) whom, in the old long-ago
days, he had met up and down the roads, begging of him, mocking him
once and again, always--to his Herries sense of order and decency--
the outlaw and vagabond.

But indeed she had changed since then.  That had been a child: this
was a woman.  She was of a bitter thinness, tall, and her small
white face like a mask set with fierce hostile eyes.  Her wonder,
then as now, was her hair, which fell in ringlets about her
shoulders and in the firelight was, with that glow, its own lambent
flame.  Her dress was fantastically over-coloured: a bodice of
bright orange with silver buttons, a hooped skirt of the old-
fashioned shape a burning crimson, and faded yellow shoes.  She
was, in her small peaked face, like an angry child, but her body
was mature and her hands, long, thin and very white against her
dress, those of a grown woman.

Francis Herries went across to her.  'Mirabell,' he said (and David
wondered at the gentleness of his voice), 'this is my son, David,
and this my daughter, Deborah.  They will be loyal to you and
devoted as they have been always to their father.'

David went over to her and took her chill, lifeless hand.

'We are old friends,' he said smiling, 'so it is not hard to be new
friends too.  I hope you will be happy with us.'

She did not answer, but looked at him with her fierce, protesting

Deborah went and kissed her on the forehead.  'Indeed I hope so,'
she said.

The girl, at the touch of Deborah's lips on her forehead, trembled,
but still said nothing.

Herries said to his son:  'Come away, Davy.  I have business with
you.'  He smiled back at the two girls.  'We will return, but you
will be better friends without us.'

He clattered down the stairs, David following him.

Deborah, left alone with this strange hostile creature, had an
impulse to turn and flee.  A sort of terror seized her, as was
often the way with her; but her own deep happiness, which nothing
here could touch, reassured her, and there was something in that
white, small face and the wide, staring eyes that moved her heart.
That her father was to marry this wild girl seemed to her an
incredible thing; but everything about her father was incredible to
her, and had always been.

She came close to her.

'I did not hear your name,' she said.  'Mine is Deborah.'


'Mirabell!  What a pretty name!'

'No, it is a crazy name.  My mother had it from a play.  It is a
man's name.'

Deborah did not know what to say, what question to ask, but the
girl broke in fiercely:

'You may hate me as much as you will.  It matters nothing.'

'But why should I hate you?' Deborah asked.

'To be here, in your house, a stranger.  It is not my will.  I have
no will any more.  I came to your father yesterday because I was
hungry.  Once, many years ago, he told me to come.  If I had had
food I would not have come.  They put me in prison in Kendal for a
wanton.  I was three months in their filthy jail.  And then for two
weeks I have been hungry.  Your father has been good to me;
therefore because he wishes to marry me I will marry him, and then,
when he is weary of me, I will go away again.'

She spoke in a kind of fierce defence of herself, her eyes never
still, roaming about the room like those of a captured animal.

Deborah was touched to pity.  She put her arm round the girl and
drew her down to the settle by the fire.

'Oh . . . in prison!  How cruel!  And hungry for two weeks!'  She
caught her cold hand and held it to her.

'Cruel?  No.  Why?  I may have robbed or lain with men, asking them
in the streets.'

'Well. . . .  If you did. . . .  Still it is cruel.  Kendal
jail. . . .  I have heard of it.'

'I did not steal nor lie with men.  But only because I was proud.
Now I am proud no longer.  Anyone can do anything with me.'  Her
thin body under her gay dress shivered.

'But now you must be happy,' Deborah said.  'We will make you
happy, all of us.'

'No, you cannot make me happy.  I can never be happy again, but I
will work for your father and give him what he needs--if I can.'

'And father has known you a long while?' Deborah said.

'Since I was eight years old.  And now I am twenty-seven.'

'You must not be unhappy. . . .'

But the girl drew away from her, rose up, stood looking down on

'Happy?  Unhappy?' she said scornfully.  'That is nothing. . . .
It is only that when you have been hungry long enough you must have
food.'  She turned her back on Deborah and stood looking into the

They were silent then, until Herries came back.  After this he
dominated the scene.  In their own separate fashions they all
surrendered to him.  The strange girl seemed to have a driving
desire to make herself of use, and, speaking to no one, moved down
and up to the kitchen, taking plates from Benjamin's wife, helping
with the potatoes, rubbing the silver--all with a kind of hostile

Herries showed his wisdom by not attempting to prevent her, nor did
he speak to her, but his eyes were never away from her when she was
near to him.  It was as though he could not believe in his luck.
He had thrown off his years.  He was almost a boy again.  His body
was straightened, the thin, pointed face with the high bones had
lost its grey pallor and was flushed with colour.  His head was up
and his voice rang with joy.

He had been shopping in Keswick, raided the neighbouring farms,
stirred Mrs. Benjamin (who could cook when she liked) to make pies
and puddings.  Soon a great feast was laid out on the broad table
under the portrait of scornful old Herries.  There was a fine paste
of almonds with candied cherries, plums and currants.  There were
two fowls, a splendid pie (for which he must have paid dear,
thought David, remembering also that it was his mother's money that
bought it), wheaten loaves, China oranges, walnuts and plums,
candied Madeiras, citrons and muscadine grapes.

To drink, there was to be a grand bowl of punch made after Major
Bird's famous recipe, Batavian arrack and good honest ale.

For whom was all this?  Were there to be guests, and if so, who?
No questions were asked.  Everything went forward.

The little chapel was only a step away.  The rain, too, had now
ceased to fall, and the sky was filled with little round fleecy
clouds stained with blue shadows.

Herries appeared in his grandest dress, a suit that had lain in the
big oak chest for many a year, something almost of Queen Anne's
reign, strangely out of fashion, its colours faded, fitting oddly
with his ugly scarred face and long grey hair.  He had a dove-
coloured waistcoat woven with gold.  His cloth coat was of cinnamon
colour, his sword was silver and gold-hilted, with figures on the
handle, and he carried a cane with an amber head.

A strange pair the bride and bridegroom made as they started out
together down the lane, he walking very proudly, she, her arm
through his, hanging her head and looking like a gipsy from a fair.
Deborah and David walked behind.

At first no one saw them.  Some men and women were working in one
of Peel's fields, and looking over the hedge caught a sight of all
this glitter and colour.  Then an old woman at a cottage door had a
glimpse and called out after them.  Then some children playing by
the great oak tree near the inn had a sight of them, and all came
trooping after.

At the door of the inn there was a little wizened, hunch-backed
pedlar selling his wares.  He, too, came hobbling behind.

Little Rosthwaite Chapel by the village was one of the smallest in
England, and passing under the porch Herries and David had to bow
their heads.

The clergyman was waiting for them, and almost at once the little
place was filled with the children, the pedlar, some old women.
For Herries the scene was some dream long dreamt by him, now
accomplished in reality.  Since the moment when she had come
knocking at the door of Herries and he had opened it to her (would
that be for ever the most miraculous moment of his life?), his
happiness had been so strong, so universal, so overwhelming that he
could neither realise nor see objects outside it.  There WERE no
objects outside it.  This joy had covered all the world like a
great cloak of surpassing brilliance.  The others, David and
Deborah, had but just ridden off to Keswick.  He had gone back into
the house and set about polishing the silver on some harness.  The
knock had sounded through the still, withdrawn place, mingling with
the eternal murmur of running water.  He had seemed to know that
the knock announced great news, for he had hastened down the old
stairs, flung open the door.  And there she had been in the little
grass-grown court, at fainting-point with hunger, in her bright
shabby clothes.  He had caught her in his arms and carried her in.
From that moment his happiness, unquestioning, undoubting, had
risen like a wave all about him and drowned him.  He scarcely saw
the girl herself in his triumph.

She was here; she needed him, and she would stay.  Would she marry
him?  Yes, she would marry him.  At once?  Yes, at once if he
wished it.  Would she stay with him?  Yes, she would stay with him.
She acquiesced in everything, while he fed her and gave her drink.
He placed her in Mrs. Benjamin's care, then went out for the
licence, the parson, the grand food, the liquor and a chain of fine
gold that he bought off a Jew in Keswick.  All that night he lay
alone on his naked bed, seeing only her, thinking only of her,
staring into radiant bliss.  How David and Deborah would take it
scarcely stirred his imagination.  He loved them.  He hoped that
they would be glad; but if they were not, the brilliance of his
happiness would not waver.

So now, when he stood in the tiny chapel and took Mirabell Starr
for his wedded wife, the shabby little place was ablaze with glory.
He bent and kissed her cold unresisting mouth, then passed down the
aisle again between the children, the hunch-backed pedlar and the
old women.  Outside a crowd of people had gathered.  He waved his
hand to them and, in a voice ringing with joy, told them that they
would one and all be welcome at his house.  They all followed
after, whispering among themselves.

Deborah's memory may be the truest mirror to catch the scene that
followed.  Into the heart of her old age that scene remained as
something framed off by itself, apart in colour and shape and
fashion, something wild and fantastic beyond conception.

First, the quiet of the Borrowdale road and the little grey
village, the peaceful sky in which all the little clouds were
turning rosy as the sun went down, the barking of dogs, the fields
softly lit by the gentle sun, Rosthwaite Fell a kindly guardian
hovering above them, ducks waddling in silly procession, an old
woman sweeping her doorway--and through this placid quietness
Herries and his bride in their silver and cinnamon, their orange
and crimson, he marching as though he were conqueror of the world,
she beside him, looking in front of her, neither to left nor right,
her face a mask; then David, striding, towering over the rest but
shy of this pageantry; herself, Deborah, feeling the rosy sky, the
pale green of the sunlit fields, the dark shadows of the hills and,
as she was always to remember, the consciousness of her new life
that the kiss of the night before, pervading everything, had given
her.  And, after them, the whole rabble of the village, gathering
force with every step, children running to keep up, farm boys,
women from the fields, old dames from the cottages, dalesmen and
labourers, headed by the little round fat clergyman and the
humpbacked pedlar, all of them crowding along, but, so strangely,
not speaking above a whisper, wondering in excited awe what it was
now that Rogue Herries would be at.

Deborah knew this well enough, and one question she was soon asking
was:  Would they step into the house?  For many, many years Herries
had been forbidden, warlock ground to them.  Had not the witch,
Mrs. Wilson, lived there, and was it not back there that Rogue
Herries had taken her after her drowning?  Had he not lived there
with his painted woman of the town, had not his poor wife died
there?--poor soul, poor soul!  Aye, it was a wicked house, evil
enough, a place of spells.

But now it was as though they themselves were under a spell.  They
followed as though the pedlar were piping some magical tune that
they could not resist.  Deborah knew, too, that they had
recognised, well enough, the bride.  Already she was aware of the
scandal that that would be, only adding to the other scandals.

It seemed that every step that her father took must only be the
more fatal to his name.  They had seen the girl in the roads, on
the Fell, begging, dancing, stealing, one of the robbing gipsies,
and now Rogue Herries had married her.  And he fifty-six, who
should surely now be repenting of his sins (that were so many) and
making ready for the next world, where, whatever he did, his place
could be no easy one.

She knew so well what they were thinking, and, when they came to
the bend of the road where the lane to Herries, turning up to the
right over the stream, met it, she felt the pause, the hesitation.

Herries and his bride went on, the pedlar and the clergyman went
on, a second's wavering and the crowd followed too.  Coming to the
gate before the courtyard they waited.  Herries turned, his grey
head bare in the evening light; he waved, with a sort of joyful
gesture, his stick with the amber head in the air.  He cried:

'Here is food and drink and no grudging.  Welcome, my friends, this
day at least.  We will drink to the bride.'

He marched on, carrying his hat in one hand, waving his stick in
the other.  They all followed.  An odd and wild scene it was after
that.  The two old suits of armour had never seen the like.  The
dark stair was narrow.  They crowded up it, pressing upon one
another, still whispering, no word above a whisper.

The clergyman, sweating with the pace at which they had gone, and
the pedlar were the first to follow into the dining-hall.  The
pedlar, as though he owned Herries and all in it (he had a crooked
body and a pock-marked face and thin strands of carroty hair on his
bald poll), laid his pack on the table and scattered the contents.
'A bride's gift!' he called in a funny cracked voice.  'A bride's
gift!  What will you have, lady?  A grain gold watch-chain,
cambrics, gold buttons, watch bottles. . . .  What will you have?
A gift for the beautiful bride!'

Soon they were, most of them, in the room, peering about them,
staring at the old chest, the tapestries, the portrait, the wide
stone fireplace.  They crowded together like animals, but many of
them, although they were in the witch's house, remembered their
Cumbrian manners, than which there are no finer in dignity and self-
respect and courtesy the wide world over.  Many of them might have
fled, it could be, had it not been for David, but they knew Mr.
David Herries, they trusted him to see that they would come to no
harm; not his fault that he was the son of the Devil, who had
danced with witches and now married a gipsy.  And another reason
why they did not go was that they could not, for there were so many
crowded on the stairs that they could move neither up nor down.

They might have been forgiven that day for thinking that Herries
was of another world.  He stood at the end of the table, lit by the
jumping fire, the scar standing out on his face, even his clothes--
in spite of their grandeur--of another age, and his voice was
strange, glorified, filled with a triumphant power as though he had
won a great victory, or, as an old woman said that night, 'made new
contract with t'Divil.'

He filled the glasses and the cups with the brandy and the arrack
and passed them round.  This was fiery stuff, stronger than their
accustomed ale, so it was no wonder if soon their voices were

The feasting began, only the bride, sitting at the table-end with
the bridegroom, did not eat and did not speak.  Herries seemed not
to see her.  He pressed those close to him, his children, the
clergyman, the pedlar, a stout broad-shouldered dalesman with a
vast black beard, a farming woman with crimson face and swelling
breasts, already a little drunk, all of them near to him he pressed
to eat of the fowls and the pie, the fruit and the mound of beef.
Soon they were eating right enough, and as the drink went round
they began to pull at the food, the more drunken of them reaching
across the table, cracking the nuts and catching the shells in the
air, and throwing pieces of flesh to two or three hungry dogs who
had crept in with them.

Then Herries rose to make a speech.  He had drunk very little, but
he seemed a drunken man, his hand trembling, and his eyes, always
brilliant, now glittering with an eager fire.

'Friends and neighbours,' he said (and the pedlar, looking round
him, echoed in his shrill cracked tones, 'Friends and neighbours'),
'I welcome you all here on this the happiest day of my life.
The moon is silver in the sky' (now once again the rain was pouring
down torrentially and clattering at the panes), 'and all the good
dogs are baying at it.  This is the valley of our hearts: in every
stream there are fish of gold, and on the hills through the heather
the blessed angels are picking the blackberries and singing under
their wings as the rabbits run from their holes to listen to them.

'In no other valley in the world can these things be, and to-night,
when the stars are blinded by the light of our happiness, the Old
Man will be tramping the road, his pack under his elbow, and the
stones hard to his stubborn toes.  That is what happens in our
wonderful valley, so drink to the Bridegroom and the Bride, whose
nakedness your loving thoughts will cover and whose roof is your
roof, and the snail on the wall has left his silver track for your
guidance.  Drink, friends and neighbours, and tumble downstairs as
you may.'

No one understood a word of it, and for years after there were some
who said that Rogue Herries, on his marriage night, had invoked the
Devil.  They had heard him with their own ears, had they not?

Then an old man, very grave and reverend, with a white beard and a
nobly shaped head, stepped forward to make a speech.

'We mun thank Mr. Herries,' he said.  'When I was young, we did
varra weel off labscourse en stirabout fur dinner and we'll do
varra weel yet.  But Mr. Herries has grudged neet.'  He wandered
off into disconnected reminiscence.  'Folks was harder lang
sen. . . .  When I was a lad wi' a bit of bluemilk cheese en breed
I never ailt nowt. . . .  In my opinion ther's nowt bangs good
muck . . . good muck wi' plenty o' suction in't 'll bring a crop
any time.  Anyways it's nobbut dry work talking without summat
to sup on, and ther's plenty to sup on here. . . .  But cuntra's
turned upside-down.  It'll be lang afore they see any mair times
like t'oad uns . . . any mair times like t'oad uns . . . afore
t'Rebellion . . . afore t'Rebellion. . . .'

His voice sank into his beard; moreover, the noise now was too
general for him to be heard.  The arrack was having its way.  There
was stamping and singing, some child was crying.  They were
crowding more and more about the table.  A glass fell and crashed.
The rain slashed the windows until they rang again.

Deborah had watched the riot growing.  In spite of the festivity
there was a false element in it.  Her father's happiness had
something protesting in it, and was made the stranger by the girl's
silence.  David was doing what he could for friendliness, moving
among them all in his quiet natural fashion, but with the heat of
the great fire, the strength of the drink, the ferocity of the
storm outside, a crisis seemed to be mounting over them.

It came, and with a wild suddenness.  The pedlar, whose little
skimmy eyes had scarcely left the face of the new Mrs. Herries, had
been coming ever closer to her.  He seemed himself to be mad with
some sort of sensual desire or arrogant conceit.  At first he
fingered the orange sleeve of her coat, then bent forward, put his
hand under her chin, lifted her face.  'A kiss,' he said, 'from the
happy bride.'

A moment later Herries' fist had crashed into his misshapen ugly
face, and he tumbled backwards into the noisy crowd.  Herries,
pressing after him, seemed to be seized with an exultant rage.  He
struck right and left.

Everyone scattered to the door, and, as he pursued them, they
turned pell-mell, one upon another; men, women, children were
heaped to the door, were stumbling, leaping, flying down the
stairs, rushing into the court, away, away through the gate, and
down the lane, as though the Devil were after them.

In a leap of the fire the room had been cleared, the table, the
floor messy with food, glasses overturned, only the pedlar,
unconscious, flat on his back.

'You with the rest!' cried Herries, and, picking him up, threw him
down the stairs, ran down the stairs after him, picked him up
again, dragged him through the court, threw him over the wall into
the lane, returning then, found his pack still on the table, picked
it up, stuffing ribbons and chains and gold buttons back into it,
ran down with it, and threw that too over the wall.  The rain came
soaking down upon it.

Back in the hall again he saw that Deborah and Mirabell were gone.
Only David stood, tall and considering, above the ruined feast.

Herries broke out, roaring with laughter.

'Well, Davy. . . .  Our first hospitality.'

And David answered, picking up an orange from the table and biting
into it with his teeth:  'Well, father, you made the punch too
mighty for them.'

By evening a quiet contentment seemed to have come to them.  No
sign of the feast, no sign of the feasters.  An hour before,
Herries had gone out to look for the pedlar to see whether he were
killed or no.  There was no glimpse of the pedlar, nor of his pack;
only the cold muddied path, the trees sighing under the rain.

Now they were all about the fire, Deborah sewing, David doing his
accounts at the table, Herries in the oak chair with the big arms
to it, and Mirabell quietly near to him, silent as before but a
little flush now in her face, and looking up once and again, first
at one of them, then another.  The riot had, it seemed, in no way
disturbed her.  She had known many like it before.

Herries' joy was quiet now and tranquil.  He would look at her, an
odd smile playing about his lips, then glance away again.

He nursed his knee, bending forward towards the fire.  The old
house seemed to fit into their mood.  Somewhere Benjamin could be
heard, beyond the rain, raucously singing a tune.  He was drunk a
little.  The room was dry and warm for once; the firelight played
about the brown figures in the tapestry and threw a strange
shadowing on the beams.  Sometimes a mouse scratched behind the
panelling.  Deborah was thinking of love, David of business.  It
was plain of what Herries was thinking.  No one knew Mirabell's

The evening wore on, the storm died down, and with the cessation of
the rain all the rivers and streams of the fields and rocks seemed
to rush into the house.  The whole valley was vocal with running
water, and some little wet stars came out and blinked between the
black driving clouds.

Deborah and David went to their beds.  Deborah, before going, bent
down and kissed Mirabell's forehead.

When they were gone, their doors closed, and all silent again,
Herries rose and said to her softly:

'Mirabell . . . speak to me.  Say that you have trust in me.'

'Yes,' she said.  'I have trust in you.'

He stooped and picked her up.  He carried her, her hair strayed
across his breast, up the stairs, along the tumbling passage to the
little room where he had slept with small David on their first
night in the house.

He laid her on the bed, knelt down beside it, stroked her hair,
kissed her eyes and mouth; then, very tenderly, with a gentleness
of a woman, he undressed her.  When she was naked he took her in
his arms again, and, with one hand free, turned down the bed, and
laid her in it, smoothing the pillows for her head.

Then he knelt down beside her again.

'My darling,' he said, 'when I saw you in the cave on Honister I
loved you so that I knew then and for ever where my haven was.
After that day I have had no other desire than that, to worship you
and serve you.  Many of my days have been evil, but I have had no
shame of that.  I let things pass me by because my eyes were set on
a dream.  I knew always that in some place or person or act there
lay the fulfilment, so that when I came to it I would find myself.
I was always searching.  No man has been more lonely than I, and by
my own fault.  I would receive no pity, that most contemptible of
the vices, and I would give none, but I could be honourable could I
find a place for my honour, and I could serve if I could see an
altar.  And now I have found it.  I have years left.  I am strong.
There is no task too hard for me now I have got you, and if you
stay with me no unhappiness can touch me.'

She looked at him then, full in the face.  Then she put her hand up
and, very gently, stroked his cheek where the scar was.

'You know,' she said, almost in a whisper, 'that I loved once and
when he was killed I was slain too.  I am a dead woman, Francis.  I
was a child when I talked to you in the cave.  I was a woman at
that moment in Carlisle.  I care for you.  I feel sorry for you.
But I have no love for you.  I told you yesterday.  I can never
love anyone again, I think.  And so I wish that you did not love me
so much.  But you have shown me more kindness than anyone has ever
shown me.  I will do my very best to please you.  Indeed I will.'

They remained for a while, he kneeling by the bed, she stroking his
cheek.  Then he took off his clothes and went in with her.

He put his arms round her and held her icily cold body close to his
heart.  Her head was on his breast and suddenly she began to cry,
without sound, but he could feel her tears wet against his arms.
She cried for a long time, he consoling her and stroking her long


It was not strange, when you think of it, that the valley should
now determine that it was a witch Herries had married.

It was, after all, only what they had expected him to do.  It was,
after all, only what they had always expected her to be.  After the
wild marriage party, so grotesque in its conclusion, every sort of
fantastic story was abroad.  Some said that Rogue Herries had, all
in a moment, shown a fiery tail between his coat-ends and that two
brown crooked horns had sprung out from behind his ears.  Others
that the girl had flown of a sudden above the table and was
carrying in her right hand a broomstick.  All agreed that they had
been beaten with mysterious blows from a hundred invisible arms.
The pedlar, who seemed, with his hump and carroty hair, to have
settled down in the valley, went about everywhere whispering, in
his cracked voice, stories about Herries.

No, this was not odd, but what was strange was that, as the months
passed, Mirabell won the name among them of a good witch, almost of
a kind of well-wishing fairy.  No one could quite say how this idea
began to grow.  It was not that she did anything for them; she did
not, indeed, take any part in the lives of the farmers and
dalesmen.  It was said (and most of the stories came from Mrs.
Benjamin, who was a very talkative woman and had friends in
Rosthwaite, Seatoller, Seathwaite, Grange, everywhere in the
valley, in fact) that she was busy all day in the house, quietly
going about her duties.  That she was kindly to everyone, never out
of temper, never proud nor haughty, never gay, but never sad
either.  She was not a bad witch in any case; only a poor gentle
woman who had let her spells lie forgotten in their pack.
Nevertheless the village children were warned not to speak to her
when she went about, walking or riding, with her flaming hair and
the brilliant-coloured clothes that she loved to wear.

After a time the village women began to pity her.  They could not
charge Herries with unkindness to her, although that they would
have loved to do.  It was plain enough that he worshipped her and
would do anything in the world for her.  He was a changed man, Mrs.
Benjamin declared, when she was about, although he would curse and
swear and strike Benjamin with his whip or cane, as he had always
done, when she was away.

The story was gradually told that Mirabell Herries had been in love
with the Devil himself, who had been disguised as a beautiful young
man, and then, when she saw her sin, she had fled from him and been
broken-hearted ever since.  This, the farm-women said, might happen
to any woman.  She was not to be blamed for it.

Within the house David and Deborah became greatly attached to her.
This did not say that they had any intimacy with her.  She remained
apart, reserved, secret, but she was in all her ways so gentle, so
ungrudging in her service to all with whom she came in contact,
that even the old wind-blown house itself seemed to gather a warmth
and kindliness from her presence in it.

They must feel, too, their father's worship of her.  Oddly they did
not resent that nor charge her with taking his love from them.  It
was her purpose plainly that she should take nothing, but only
give, and that shyly, as though she had no right to think that her
gifts would be received.

There came a day, a warm dim February day, when Deborah was taken a
little closer into this girl's privacy, and that perhaps because of
Deborah's own confidence to her.

It was, as often happens in this country, a sudden flash of sun and
warmth and promise between storms of wind and rain.

When they saw how it would be the two of them rode out under Cat
Bells through little Braithwaite village, up Whinlatter, and then,
finding a sheltered corner and letting their horses feed in the
grass by the road, seated themselves where they could look down
upon Bassenthwaite, smooth under the sun like a gold shield, and
across to Skiddaw that opened like a flower of steel and silver
against the windy sky.

Deborah, moved by some quick impulse, told Mirabell that she had a
lover; Mirabell turned towards her with a gesture of more eager
friendliness than she had ever shown to her.

'Oh, tell me about him,' she said.  So Deborah, with the sedate
deliberation that, even when she was in love, could never leave
her, told Mirabell about the Keswick Ball, and the little clergyman
and the kiss under the stars.

'And I had a letter yesterday delivered by horse from Cockermouth,'
she added, blushing and looking very happy in spite of her
sedateness.  'Is it not foolish to be so in love at my years? . . .
But then he is not a boy,' she added, smiling with love at the
picture of him in her heart.  'I fancy that we are greatly suited,'
she said, feeling for the letter in her bosom.

She read the letter, while the breeze rustled over the fell and the
shadows passed like wings of gigantic birds across the slopes of
the hills.

MY DEAREST FRIEND--When I had read your letter I grumbled, for I
would have had it so lengthy that it would stretch the reading of
it until I might see you again.  I have now read it twelve times
and could, were I put to it, read it blindfolded and make no
mistake in it.  It was a sweet letter nevertheless, and I love you
at my heart with so great a devotion that I cannot subscribe to
your absence, you resting in my heart and so being never away from

And so you being here in my parlour, what do you think of it?
Everything is smart and everything elegant.  There are the short
candles and the long ones, the tea-urn and the two screens with the
Chinese figures upon them, of which I have told you already.  And
even now I have been busy on my sermon, whose text is:  'Suffer the
little children,' and I have also a Latin inscription to compose
for the tomb of Mr. Harvey, the principal solicitor of Cockermouth,
who passed away a sennight back, as I fancy my last letter informed
you.  There is also my good dog Rufus at my feet, who already loves
you who are now his only mistress, and has looked at your letter
with an obeisance marvellous in so dumb a beast.

Two chairs also are newly come to the parlour, purchased by me a
fortnight back at the sale of poor Mrs. Newbiggin's effects (of
this also, I think, I have told you).  They have a certain lameness
at the moment, but I know how to steady them against your coming.
When am I next to EXPECT a letter?  They are as careless at the
Crown as at every other inn in the country, and the thought that a
letter from you may be even now in the wrong hands is a constant
anxiety for me.

You know how I love you, my dearest, and that with every hour my
love increases. . . .'

'The rest is nothing,' said Deborah, folding it up and looking at
Mirabell with a sudden anxiety.  After all, how slightly she knew
this woman, how different their natures and origins.  Such a
letter might seem to her the last foolish pettiness, and if she
laughed . . .

But Mirabell did not laugh.  She turned and drawing Deborah to her,
kissed her.  This she had never before done of her own accord.

'You are happy,' she said.  'That is a very kind letter.  No one
has ever written me a letter.  He would have--'  She broke off,
stared down with her strange elfin eyes to Bassenthwaite, that is
always from a height like a lake ebbing its life away between
marshy strands; then crept closer to Deborah as though she sought
protection from something.

'You are all so kind to me.  As no one has ever been.  And I wish
to return your goodness, but I am outside it.  I want to be drawn
into your friendliness, but my spirit is dead.  My mother, after my
father had been killed (he was slain by my uncle, who had always
hated him), told me that when he was stabbed every other was
stabbed also.  She lived with dead people after that.  I was so
young that it meant nothing to me then, but now . . . Oh, how well
I understand!'

'Had you some tragedy then?' Deborah asked.  She knew, of course,
that there had been tragedy here, but she had never asked any
question.  Her father had told her nothing.

'It has always been tragedy all my life, but never tragedy that
touched me--until this last.  My father was murdered, struck in the
back in the dark by my uncle.  My mother died on the Fell in the
rain, her feet deep in mire, no one near us but the kites and the
sheep.  Then I was with my other uncle, wandering, thieving,
hiding, escaping, in caves, on the Fell, begging in the street,
beaten, always moving from one hill to another, from one road to
another.  I was ravished when I was twelve.  I had seen four men
foully murdered before I was sixteen years of age; one was all
night dying, his head in my lap, his blood soaking my clothes.  But
nothing could touch me.  I was apart, by myself!'  She sprang up,
as though inspired, and cried:  'Oh!  Oh!  Oh!' and her call
echoed from hill to hill, perhaps from Grasmoor down Crummock to
Red Pike, from Red Pike to Langdale, from Langdale to Coniston Old

'I would call and so thrust them from me.  With my call I expelled
them.  Touch me?  I was not there to be touched!'  She called again
and heard the echo come back.  Then she crouched down once more
close to Deborah, her hand on her arm.

'Your father came and found me in a cave on Honister Crag.  I told
him that day that I was myself, free, by myself, and it was true.
But I had remembered him.  He gave me that when I was a child with
my mother.'  (She felt in her dress and brought out the golden head
with ruby eyes that he had given her at that Christmas feast.)  'He
went away, but I still remembered him.  He is not easy to forget.
He is a Man, not half a man or a piece of one, but a whole one made
in one block like a carved stone.  I remembered him, but I did not
care for him.  I cared for no one; only the memory of my mother
made me lonely sometimes, and when men wanted me then I was lonely
too, because I hated men.

'Then--' (she broke off, caught her thin breasts with a sudden
pathetic, driven gesture as though she must control some beating
impulse) 'we came to Carlisle.  My uncles were much on the Border,
thieving, wrestling, carrying messages.  They had been for a long
time working with the Scottish rebels, you see, and were paid by
them as secret agents.  After the Prince landed they went to
Edinburgh.  I was left in Carlisle.  There was a man whom they knew
there, a devil, he was evil as Satan, and more evil than that; they
knew what he was and what he intended to me, but they were still
his friends, and for that I will never forgive them, nor speak to
them, nor drink with them, neither here nor in eternity.'  Her face
was suddenly cold and mask-like with hatred.

Deborah had never seen that figure, the white mask-like face, so
small, so carven, so cold under the red smoke-gleaming hair.  But
she was full of pity, and she put her arm out and drew Mirabell
closer to her.

'This man said he loved me; he was hideous in his body as in his
soul: squat, black, always cold to the touch.  He came to my bed
and I fought him.  I dug my nails into his eyes, and naked as I was
I forced him to creep away, under the smoky candle, his tail
between his legs, dog as he was.  He did not attempt me again, but
he watched me; he was always there watching me, waiting until my
uncles should return.  He thought they would give me to him.  Then
Harry found me.  We loved at the very first sight, as I came to the
door of my house on a fine morning, he riding by.  It was always a
surety.  He was beautiful, he was brave and noble-hearted, he was
young and a grand poet, he was mine and I was his. . . .  And oh!
Deborah, Deborah' (she began to weep, tears pouring down her
cheeks, beating her hands, clenched, against her breast), 'Thawn
killed him, he stabbed him in the back, he fell dead at my feet,
and I dead with him!  Deborah, Deborah!' (she turned, clinging,
holding to Deborah's body) 'what shall I do?  I am not alive.  I
died with him.  When he fell, I fell!  Oh, how shall I live again
if Harry cannot come back to me?  He comes.  He beats at the
window.  When I lie beside your father I hear him crying.  When I
am moving about that dark house he is a light ahead of me, but I
can never come to him, and he can never come to me.  I want him so,
but he is dead on one side of the wall, and I am on the other.
What shall I do when you are so kindly to me, and your father loves
me so, and I only a ghost in the middle of you?  Oh, what shall I
do?  Oh, what shall I do?'

In all these months Deborah had never seen her display feeling.
She had been kind, and had served them all, and been quiet.  Now
she clung to Deborah, sobbing on her breast, holding Deborah's
arms, weeping as though her heart were all tears.

'Hush!  Hush!'  Deborah kissed her hair, her forehead, keeping her
very close.  'It will pass.  It will pass.  We will all love you
and have a home for you.  You are not alone any more.  We love you.
We love you.'

But Mirabell raised her head, staring into the faint pale sky as
though she would find some answer there.  'It will never pass,' she
said.  'It is eleven years now, and it was yesterday that he died
at my feet.'

She quieted as suddenly as she had cried out.  The clouds came
over, gathering together in fleecy, windy companies, cloud forming
with cloud in ribs and ripples of gauzy vapour.  Soon all the sky
was a ribbed shore of pale ghostly sand.  The fells grew black, and
little streams that laced their forms were rents in their strong
flanks.  Bassenthwaite paled, as the sun withdrew, into the curve
and colour of a grey shell.  The wind raced over the moor and up
the fell, suddenly liberated, delighting in its freedom.  It was
cold and sharp with the tang in it of sheep's dung and new young
bracken and coming rain.

'Let us go home,' said Mirabell.  'It is cold.'

They mounted their horses and turned down the hill.  For Deborah,
Mirabell's story had flung the whole life at Herries into a new,
dramatic and, for her timidity and quiet mind, sinister shape.
Mirabell was something now apart from all of them; she was to be
pitied, cared for, comforted, but she could give none of them
anything.  She could not give her husband anything.  She did not
love him at all.  Through all these months Deborah had supposed
that in her own strange way Mirabell loved her father, and now it
appeared that she had no love for him, but thought only of some
ghostly young man who had been dead for eleven years.  Well, but if
she did not love her father who himself adored her so!  Why, that
must mean torture for her father, despair, misery.  What end could
it have but disaster?

This was the first moment in Deborah's life, now as their horses
were picking their way through the stream that runs through
Braithwaite village and starting up the winding hill to Cat Bells,
that she truly loved her father without any sense of fear or
dismay.  She was overwhelmed with pity for him, caught after all
his rough and lonely life into this great passion for someone who
did not love him, and could not.  'Oh, poor father, poor father!'
she thought.  'How he must be suffering, and under what restraint!'
She remembered all his goodness and gentleness these last months,
and how, when Mirabell was there, so quietly and with such courtesy
he waited on her and cared for her.  Deborah's heart, that was all
softness and tenderness, ached for him.  She cared, too, for
Mirabell.  It was not her fault that she had come, and she was
doing all in her power.  But so little was in her power!  Nothing
was in her that he needed, and yet she was his only need!

That evening in the house Deborah watched with a new understanding
and sensibility.  And Herries seemed to detect that there was some
change in her.  She went with him to the door of the house before
going up to her bed.  The wind that had risen while they looked
down on Bassenthwaite was now raging through the valley.  It
carried in its arms a new young slender moon, and seemed to be
tossing it from leafless tree to leafless tree.  The trees bent
with their bare arms to catch it and then tossed it in and out of
the rushing clouds.  There was a great noise, a noise of streams,
of branches cracking, of the wind itself, and the beams and rafters
of the old house.

Herries listened, loving it.

'One wind more and everything will tumble,' he said.  'You'd best
go, Deborah, before the fall.'

She timidly put her hand through his arm and stood close to him.

'Father, I love Mirabell,' she said.

'I am old for a husband,' he said, seeming not to hear her.  'When
I was young I ranged from door to door, and now that I have found
her I am old, bent, twisted. . . .  Deborah, will you not marry
before it is too late?'

She wondered whether he had heard something.  She herself had said
nothing.  It had not yet seemed the right time.  She nearly spoke
then, but she did not.  While he wanted her, she must stay.

'One day, father, . . .' she said, 'but not now.'  And then the
wind, with a great scream of happiness and freedom, drove them

The following day Herries took his wife, riding pillion, into
Keswick.  He was terribly proud of her.  He wanted to show her to
everyone; he knew what they said of her, that she had been gipsy,
tramp, thief.  That was nothing.  It was the truth for him that she
was glorious, extraordinarily, magnificently glorious.  She was as
glorious to him now as she had been before he married her.  And she
was also as mysterious.  Intimacy had not made her less mysterious.
But perhaps, although he did not know it, there had been no
intimacy.  Did he know that?  He was a deep man who knew many
things, but often did not realise them.

She rode behind him into Keswick in a crimson dress with gold
buttons.  He was in his old shabby country clothes, wearing his own
hair.  When he touched her he was happy so that he could sing, but
behind his happiness he was unhappy: he had questions that he
wanted to ask her, and he did not dare.

As they drew near to the town, along the path and across the watery
meadows, people were walking and riding.  In the Town Square there
was a thick pressing multitude.  He asked a fellow what the matter
was, and someone told him it was the Methodists, and then another
fellow volunteered that it was George Whitefield, the most
remarkable preacher of them all.

Herries was interested in all that he had heard of the Methodists,
who had now for a number of years been strengthening their position
in the country, and especially of this Whitefield, concerning whom
and his extraordinary preaching he had had, like everyone else at
this time, many reports.

He knew that this was a courageous man who was ready, for his
religion, to meet any form of contempt, abuse and danger.  He knew
that he was sincere, of deep piety, of constant energy, of selfless
industry.  Against these things he weighed what he had heard of his
emotionalism, theatricality and fanaticism, all qualities to which
Herries, by his own reserved and private mind, was deeply hostile.

He had heard that Whitefield had but one desire, to save souls for
God, that often he preached fifty or sixty hours in the one week,
and that his journeys, involving as they did at that time so much
physical discomfort, were ceaseless.

He knew, too, that he was a man free of all meanness; his bitterest
adversary did not attribute to him small ambitions, petty
jealousies, sly revenges.  He appeared to Herries, from what he
had heard of him, to be feminine in his hysteria, weak-nerved,
histrionic, ill-balanced, but he was, even because of these defects,
exactly suited to move great masses of people by impassioned
appeals, passing from place to place like a torch of fire.

When he heard that it was Whitefield who was here he decided that
he must listen to him.  He backed his horse out of the crowd, and,
dismounting, took the horse by the bridle and Mirabell by the hand,
finding some higher ground where he could watch what was going

He told Mirabell of the reason for the crowd.  She did not seem to
be greatly concerned, but, as he had noticed before when she was in
any crowd of people, to be looking about her searchingly, as though
she would find someone.

He stood, his arm around her, holding her close to him.  He felt as
though some crisis were arriving between her and himself; this was
no new feeling, but had been present with him for the last two
months or more, and he knew that was because something was urging
him with every day more pressingly to ask her certain questions
with regard to himself.  He was aware, too, that it was better
that he should not ask these questions, that her answers might
precipitate a crisis that would make him much unhappier than he had
ever been before.  But he could not help himself.  With every hour
he was urged farther.  He must know, he must know--whether now,
after these months, she did not love him a little, a little, a very
little . . . the first stirring of some new emotion in her . . .
and at the thought of asking her and of her answer he trembled as
though with cold.

Very soon he was aware of a voice coming to him very clearly over
the heads of the people.  He could see, only indistinctly, any
figure.  The crowd, of every type and order of person, was packed
tightly across the Square; they seemed to press against the houses
behind them, as though they would bend them back.  It was an intent
and silent crowd, so intent that the urgency seemed to spread to
the distant line of hills, Causey and Cat Bells and Maiden Moor,
beyond the roofs, so that they, too, were listening.

The figure was indistinct, someone lit with the pale February sun,
a body of grace and good proportion, but it was the voice that came
straight to Herries, as though it were to him alone that it was
appealing.  He realised then that every man and woman in that crowd
felt as he did, that it was to him or her alone that the voice was
speaking.  At once, hostile though he was to public emotion and
theatrical display, he yielded to the beauty of the voice.  It was,
beyond any sort of argument, by far and far the most moving and
lovely voice that he had ever heard.  Every word was distinct and
clear, running to him with a separate and special urgency, and the
words were bound into a general rhythm most melodious and musical;
yes, it was like music, the perfect and rounded notes following one
after another, to make, at the fitting moment, a completed harmony.
So lovely was the voice that for a little while he did not listen
to the words, then they were forced upon his attention with a
pressing gentleness, as though someone, very gracious and kindly,
were at his elbow, saying, 'You must hear this; this is for you and
for you alone.  It has great importance for you.'

He listened then with the utmost attention.

'It is simply as an occasional preacher that I am come to preach
the Gospel to all that wish to hear me, of whatever denomination.
I have nothing to do with denominations, for it is the righteousness
of Jesus Christ that I am preaching, and that righteousness has no
denominations.  You have heard many times of the righteousness of
Jesus Christ, and at every time you have been wearied or indifferent
to Him or busied with affairs.  It may be that this is the last time
you will hear of Him and the last time that I shall preach of Him.
Here into this town He has come, knowing that it is for the last
time, but you do not know.  The clouds have circled over your heads,
the sun is about to set and, setting to-night, it will not come
again.  You are returning to your homes, your candles are lit, your
children are at your knee, and distantly from over the hills there
is the faint sound of a trumpet.  The sound is distant, for the
hills cover it, and your many daily businesses, the food for gossip,
the food for the belly, the food for pride and vanity, these make a
babel in your ears and blot out the distant call.  But soon,' and
here the voice rose to a high bright summoning call, 'the trumpeters
have crossed the hills.  The trumpeters have crossed the hills!
The trumpeters have crossed the hills!'

He paused as though he were listening.  It seemed that everyone
else was listening too.  The crowd was tense and concrete, as
though its eager attention had moulded it into one man.  Across the
silence there struck stray sounds, the crowing of a cock, the sharp
bark of a dog, the stamping of some horse's hoofs against cobbles.
These emphasised the stillness.  They could see the hills where the
trumpeters were.  They could name them--Skiddaw and Saddleback,
Helvellyn and Fairfield, Langdale Pike and the Gavel, Seatallan and
Haycock, and through that circle of grey listening hills they could
see the trumpeters moving.

The voice took a personal colour.  'The Trumpeters come first,
moving down the valleys, and after them the cohorts of the Saints
in their shining armour, and after them the Priests and Prophets
with judgements in their hands, and after them'--the voice sank to
a whisper and through the crowd there ran a little rustle of
apprehension--'after them the Great Judge Himself.'

There was silence again.  A stout countrywoman near Herries began
to sob.

'Who in this valley shall be ready for that awful army?  Now,
outside your door, there is one summoning blast.  No time for
preparation, for hiding the things that should not be seen.  THY
JUDGE IS THERE . . . THY JUDGE IS THERE. . . .  And He is just and
He is merciful.  Yes, but He is just.  Think not only of the mercy;
think also of the Justice. . . .'  And then, with a sudden
agonising, beseeching cry:  'Oh, my hearers, the Wrath to come, the
Wrath to come!'

There was a terror and imminent fearful apprehension in that last
cry that even a man like Herries, steeled against every sentimental
appeal, could not resist.  He started as though someone at that
instant came running to him, crying out that the end of the world
was upon him.  He looked hastily around him, as though a wild
animal or flaming fire were at his back.  And on the crowd the
effect of that cry was immediate and tremendous.  Superstitious,
ignorant, simply and often savagely moved, cut off as they had been
for many centuries from all contact with a larger world, they were
ready to be seized by any swift emotion, ready and eager.  Here
Whitefield, however, had won his hardest victory, for these North
Country people were not Celts as the Cornish and Welsh were.  They
were neither dreamers nor fanatics.  As Herries knew, five years
before they had stoned the Methodist preacher almost to death, and
the whole district from Kendal to Carlisle had a name of great
danger for the sect.

But they would not stone Whitefield now.  He himself began to be
moved with the crowd; his body swayed, his arms rose and fell, his
voice was torn with distress and urgency.  Tears, they said
afterwards, were pouring down his cheeks.  He picked out men and
women from the crowd.  'Oh, sir, are you indeed ready?  Have you
your garments packed for the journey, your horse harnessed, and
your conscience clear?  For Heaven and Hell, Death and Judgement
are not names only for you.  They are real, they are present.
Eternity is a true word and Everlasting Punishment is no lie.  Can
you be led to the Judgement Seat before that awful crowd of
Witnesses and not tremble?  Your deeds are behind you.  There is no
hope now that they may be altered, for they are written in the
book.  There is the pause.  You have made your plea.  You are
waiting for the sentence, and even as you stand here now, so it is
certain that you will stand before your God.  Eternal Damnation!
Damnation for ever and ever more, suffering and torment and the
agony of a repentance that is out of time!'

His voice sank again to a pleading whisper, while now his utterance
could be heard to be broken with sobs.  'O God, where is Thy mercy?
O God, whither shall I turn?'  Then, with a great cry that rang,
glittering, resonant through the air:  'In Christ Jesus!  In Christ
Jesus only is there any hope!  But even He is Just.'  His voice was
now of an awful solemnity:  'Sinner, I must do it.  I must
pronounce sentence upon you.'  Again there was a terrible silence,
and then, in a voice of thunder as though the very cobbles of the
town must rock:

'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!'

The crowd began to cry out:  'O Christ, save me!'  'Christ be kind
to me!'  'God have mercy upon me!'  Men were pushing against one
another to reach nearer to the preacher, tears fell from many eyes,
and suddenly, with a great burst of sound that had in it something
gloriously strong and victorious, the hymn 'Our God, our help in
ages past' broke out and was carried, it must seem, far beyond the
confines of the town.

The voice had ended and Herries was freed.  He turned to find that
Mirabell was clinging to him, her face very white, her eyes closed.

'Come.  It is growing dark.  We will go home.'

She nodded.  He led his horse out of the crowd and then, in a
little dusky side-street where there was a deep silence, he lifted
her on to the horse and climbed on behind her.  With his arms about
her he started away.  The horse went gently.

Herries thought:  'There is this Damnation then.  I, too, shall be
damned with the rest.'  He had stirred to a consciousness, through
this scene, of a general movement behind his own personal history,
of some new world coming to England.  Ten, five years ago those men
and women would have driven Whitefield with stones and abuse out of
the town.  Now he held them, although it might be only by a kind of
superstition and sentiment.  He felt that all around him there was
a new consciousness, a fresh curiosity, a novel enterprise.  For
himself, he belonged to the old world that was passing.  He had
still a link with the boy who, sniffing his way through Queen
Anne's London, had not been so far removed from the Rebellion, the
tumbling of King Charles' head, the Plague and the Great Fire.  But
David and Deborah had no touch with that world at all; it was a
dream, a fairy-tale to them.  David's enterprises were consciously
engaged, through his vessels and the things that they carried, with
other worlds that were not dreamworlds of adventure and romance, as
China and India and Russia had been to Francis' childhood, but
definite practical places in which men walked on their legs, ate
mutton for their dinner and read the news-sheets.  Everything was
opening up before him, and at the same time closing in about him.
This very rough path on which to-night his horse was picking his
way would soon be a toll-road that would carry carts and carriages.
This modern world so novel, strident, ill-fitting.  In the hearts
of those people listening to Whitefield he had detected a new
curiosity.  And (here his Herries blood drove him) he disliked and
distrusted this modernity.  Queen Anne's age appeared to him as
something infinitely quiet, cosy, picturesque and easy.

They were talking now of inventing things to make the lot of the
common people easier.  The common people!  No one had thought of
the common people when he was a boy.  Why invent things only to
make them restless?  He thought of the old London scenes, so dim
now in memory; the crowds on holiday all upon pads and hackneys,
Mob's Hole where the ox, roasted whole, was eaten, the dancing to a
bagpipe, the fiddlers scraping, an old trooper from the Royalist
wars tootling upon a trumpet.  The shopping in the New Exchange,
that he had so adored as a boy, the beautiful ladies in coach or
sedan chair, the ladies with their pets, marmosets and Barbary
doves, scarlet nightingales and milk-white peacocks.  And the
Coffee Houses which to him, taken there as a boy on a London visit
by Harcourt, twelve years his senior, had seemed the great paradise
of glory; the Coffee Houses with the fine glass lanterns hanging
without, the pretty Phyllis smiling at the bar, the young swells of
a morning, whether at Searle's or Squire's or the Grecian, dressed,
as Steele had it, 'in gay cap and slippers with a scarf and party-
coloured gown.'  The drinking, the smoking, the gaming, the singing--
oh, the Life, the Life that it was! . . .

And now, now, how drab and busy this new world, with no respect
from youngsters to elders, no romance, only money-making, business,
and the whole world in your pocket!

It was his age.  How old he was, and only now his true life

At that his arms tightened about her body, he bent forward and
touched her neck with his lips.  He fancied that she yielded to him
a little.  Did she or no?  How often, in these last months, he had
wondered that!

And then the temptation that had been behind him so fearfully all
day rushed to his lips.  He could not stay it now.  He had run in
upon his fate.

'Mirabell,' he said, 'I must ask you a question.'  He felt his
heart hammering in his breast.  His hands trembled.

'Yes,' she said, and then, most unexpectedly, asked him one:

'Do you think there can be a God, Francis?'

A God?  A God?  What did it matter whether there were a God or no
now when the only urgency in this world was, had she come to love
him a little.

'That Methodist thinks so,' he answered her lightly.

'Those poor people whom he threatened with damnation, what right
has God to judge them, having made them so?  And yet--' she looked
round at him into his eyes.  'He had a great eloquence.  I saw the
trumpeters coming through the valley.'

'Mirabell,' he began again, 'I must ask you a question.'

'Yes,' she said patiently.

'Am I,' his hands tightened about the reins, 'am I so very old to

'Old!  Why, no!'

'I am old.  All my life is behind me and yet, loving you, it is but

She said nothing.

He went desperately on:  'You told me on your wedding-night that
you did not love me, that you could not.  I have never questioned
you again.  But now it is too much for me.  I can wait no longer.
Have you not, in these months, learnt a little, a very, very
little, to have love for me?  Or is it, can it never--'  He broke
off, so terribly agitated that he could not speak.

At last she answered, turning round again, and looking up at him
like a little child.

'I do not feel you old.  I feel you so very good, better far than I
had ever thought.  But love . . . are we not friends, good friends,
trusting friends?  I am not made for love.  Only once, and that was
a dream.  But your friend . . .'

Then he broke out (although he knew very well the fool he was, and
that maybe in these words he was breaking up all the foundation of
their happiness together):  'Friend, friend, friendship!  What is
that for a man?  I have never had a friend.  I do not want a
friend.  But my love for you is eating me up, tearing at my heart.
As that man to-day desired his God so I desire you.  It must be.  I
cannot live if I haven't it.  Your cruelty . . . I lie with you in
my arms and you are not there.  I touch you and you are gone.  I
must have a little of you, a touch, a breath, a word that is yours
meant for me.  I am in torment, dying of thirst, of hunger . . .'

He could not make the words, he held her, letting the reins fall,
as though he would drag her into his very breast.  He felt her body
stiffen against his.

'No,' she said, almost beneath her breath, 'I will not lie to you.
I cannot.  Even though you kill me I will not be dishonest.  It is
not my fault that I am apart.  I am apart from all the world, yes,
and from myself.

'Francis, I would give you everything.  I have never but once
wanted so to give myself, but I cannot.  I cannot!  Oh, I should
never have come!  I am wicked, I am a cheat. . . .  I care for you
so much, I would give everything to make you happy.  But love--it
escaped me that night.  I cannot find a way to get it back.'

He answered nothing.  He rode the horse more swiftly.  After a long
time, fear in her heart, longing to comfort him, she spoke again:

'I would do everything.  Teach me.  I will learn.'

He said, between his teeth:

'I have my answer.  You have so generous a heart.  I will be

As they rode on (and now it was very dark) her unhappiness seemed
to her more than she could bear.




The place has now come for David's story.  These events occurred in
early May 1758.  David was in his thirty-ninth year in the course
of them.

David did not appear a man of thirty-eight at this time.  His face
was very young, unlined, fresh in colour, strong in profile, with
the prominent bones of all the Herries, but his forehead was as
clear and smooth as a young boy's.  Just at this time, because he
was working considerably at the little Keswick office, he was
beginning to stouten.  His huge frame would gather fat very easily.
But this did not diminish his strength, which was now, and would be
for another fifteen years, prodigious.  It was at this time that he
picked up Statesman Peel in one hand and Benjamin with the other
and held them, without any effort, suspended for a considerable

Men would come from Ennerdale and Eskdale to see him wrestle, and
they said that he was, if he pleased, a terrible man with his
fists.  The twisted carroty-haired pedlar, Peter Dolfin, who was
now for ever hanging around Rosthwaite and Grange, hated him and
said that he would be hanged for murder any day that he lost his
temper.  But he never did lose his temper these days.  There was a
certain sluggishness in him at this time (except when he was
occupied on his business; then he was wide awake enough).  This is
the story of how he lost his sluggishness.

The most remarkable thing about him, as he grew, was the sweetness
of his nature.  This sweetness of temperament has been a continuous
strain in the Herries blood.  There has been no generation lacking
certain examples of it.

This is no merit to its possessor, entails no virtue, deserves no
reward.  It is a quality of personality extremely vexing to many
who think it sentimental and untrue to life.  It is not sentimental
because it is a quite natural element in the character of the
possessor, and the possessor is unaware that he has it.  David did
not find life gentle, kindly or considerate.  He knew that it was
fierce, callous and dangerous.  It was companionship with a tiger
who, with one careless scratch of the paw, produces tragedy, ruin,
catastrophe, and then yawns his indifference.  But although he knew
life to be dangerous and quite heedless of his personal good luck,
his nature drove him to choose the better parts of the men and
women about him, to enjoy the happy and bright moments, to perceive
beauty without having any imagination about it, to wish everyone
well and to rejoice at others' good fortune.  It was easy for him
just now because of his superb health, but afterwards, in bouts of
pain, distresses and anxieties, the loss of someone who was dearer
to him than all else, this sweetness of nature did not leave him.
It came, as it always comes, from something remote and deep, beyond
the business of the body, a central radiance of spirit.

He was, of course, no saint.  He was exasperated, sulky, unjust, as
everyone is, but only for the moment.  These moods never dwelt in
him.  They tried him and found him uncomfortable as a living-place.

During this year 1758 his sluggishness did not prevent him from
restlessness.  After he had freed himself from Christina the
restlessness increased.  He began to wish, as he had never wished
before, to make love to someone.  He had matured very late.  In
Liverpool on an occasion he had gone with a woman and, after a
brief moment of physical excitement, had known that such encounters
were for ever barren for him.  But his restlessness was not
springing only from need of the love of woman.  He seemed to have,
at this time, no exercise for his warm, affectionate heart.  He
was, and had always been, quite undemonstrative, but he must have
someone to love.  He had loved his father and Deborah, and, in
lesser degree, Peel's son.  But Rendal was dead (killed in a brawl
in Penrith), Deborah's mind elsewhere, his father married again.

It was his father's marriage that mainly caused his restlessness.
He had never, in his own simple and unexperimenting mind, suspected
the possibility of such utter absorption in another as he perceived
now was his father's case.  He himself realised the attraction of
Mirabell, he thought her beautiful and gentle, and strangely
different from other women, but he soon saw that she did not love
his father, but was doing what she did from a sense of gratitude
and duty.  He saw, too, that his father was hungry and thirsty for
what he could not have, and that his soul was set on this eluding
quest.  His father had, for the time, forgotten him.  And so,
because he loved his father with an unanalysed persisting love,
having its roots in his very earliest years, he missed increasingly
his contact with him.  He did not know how to recover it again; he
never knew, in his relations with people, how to change anything.
He could not analyse nor examine himself.  He had never done such a
thing in his life, but he felt, as a loving animal feels, isolated
and pushed aside.  He blamed no one, felt no jealousy, but was
increasingly, with every week that passed, lonely.  His business,
although it interested and occupied him, was nothing to him
compared with his relations to one or two people.

So, although he did not know it at this time, he was very lonely
and would soon be very unhappy.

More and more it became clear to him that he must marry.  Well,
what then?  Could they all live together at Herries?  There was
room enough, but the sense of drama, of events that happened always
just out of sight, began to bewilder him as though he were
beginning to be asked to look in many different directions at once.
This was no place for his wife, whoever she might be.  There was
some money (his mother's, as he often ironically reflected), but
everything was shabby, out-at-elbows.  It was not that they did not
wish to have everything in fine colour, but there was some movement
inside the house itself; as soon as a window was mended a door was
off its hinges.  Everything blew against the wall and along the
floor.  There was a draught in every corner, and rats behind the

In the old kitchen, where Mrs. Benjamin officiated, everything
accumulated.  Mrs. Benjamin was slatternly and careless.  Nobody

His father's wife helped about the house as though she were a
servant.  Those seemed to be the times when she was happiest, when
she was carrying plates, sweeping floors, polishing the brass and
silver.  She was oddly most at her ease with old Benjamin.  It was
as though they had some secret friendly understanding.  As though
they had come from the same place. . . .

Herries would enter and find her scouring the plates.  He could not
endure that; he would ask her to go and dress in her finest, and
then he would sit her in the high-backed chair in the dining-hall,
and he would change his clothes (he had been, as usual, digging,
trying to turn rock into pasture, plucking up weeds, or simply
standing staring at Glaramara, watching as it turned from amber to
purple, purple to jet, jet to silver), and then there they would
sit, the two of them, she in gold and crimson, he in cinnamon and
silver, on either side of the fire, saying nothing at all.

No, all this was too eerie for David.  He didn't know what would
happen soon; something, he thought, that would make them all

And no one wanted him.  When he rode in from Keswick, evening time,
he would see them sitting like that in the firelight.  They were
two ghosts to him.  Everyone now was just out of his reach.  He had
never been so alone in his life before.

So one day he rode over to Wasdale.  He went to see about some
sheep that, he had heard, were for sale, and cheap.  They belonged
to a man called Denburn.  This man Denburn was a gentleman, they
said, from London, fallen on evil days.  He had a tumble-down farm
at Wasdale Head called Scarf Hall, a place half gentleman's house
half farm.  They told him in Keswick that Denburn was a ruffian,
but clever, had a library of books that he set great store by.  He
had a daughter too.

He had some sheep, and David wanted some for his fields by Herries,
so he rode over.

It was dark when his horse (he was riding Deb's Appleseed) had
picked its way to the bottom of Stye Head, and it was difficult to
find his way.  He found his path across Lingmell Beck, and then
plunged into a black thicket of trees.  Here he stumbled for a long
while, hearing water tumbling all about him, and the wind roaring
down the pass.

He was not a man to mind wind and tumbling water, but he was
uncomfortable nevertheless.  This lake-end valley, cut off from the
world, was an excellent rendezvous for smugglers from the sea-
coast, only a few miles away.  The inn at that time, the Wasdale
Inn, was a wretched place, as he well knew, both in accommodation
and reputation, but it was there that he must pass the night.

As he blundered among the trees, scarcely able to see his thumb
before his mouth, he felt for his knife and his pistol.  He might
need them before the night was through.

He came through the wood and almost stepped on to the inn.  There
was a light in the window; he banged on the door, which was opened
by an old woman with a shawl over her head and a shabby patch over
one eye.  He called for some one to look after his horse, and a lad
went with him to a tumbled stables at the rear.

After seeing to his horse's comfort (poor comfort, but all that he
could have) he stood for a moment swallowing the mountain air,
looking up at the great shoulders of the Gavel behind him and the
black sprawl of Lingmell, the sharp edge of the Pike in front of
him.  The night was clear.  Stars, as the dusk faded into night,
were breaking, in their thousands, into the stuff of the sky.

Reluctantly he shouldered his way across the floor of the close-
smelling inn-room.  All eyes were upon him as they well might be.
He was so tall that he could, standing on his toes, touch the
ceiling; so broad that he seemed to be at elbows with every man
there.  It was a small place, dim with the smoke from the fire,
smelling of food, ale, dung, human unwashed bodies.  The bodies
were there, a dozen men, the old woman and another.  His eyes were
on her instantly.  She was turning to go as he came in.  She was
dressed for riding, and wore a large hat with a feather and a great
gold buckle that glittered and flashed in the firelight.

She was a young girl of strong, sturdy build, an open laughing
face, broad shoulders, big-breasted, brown-haired.  She might be,
David thought, of any age from seventeen to twenty.  She was tall,
carrying her head grandly on her shoulders.  As David came in her
head was half-turned, she laughing at someone, striking her whip
against her thigh.

She was the most natural, open creature David had ever seen.
Beside her was a man of some fifty years, very tall and skeleton
thin.  This man was dressed quietly in grey coat and breeches with
a white stock; he wore a brown tie-wig.  His face was as sharp and
pointed as his body was thin and long.  He had very thick, dark,
beetling eyebrows and his complexion was sallow, his face deeply
furrowed.  A very ugly man.  As he talked he bent his body about as
though he would snap it.

For the rest there was the host of the inn, Sol Beddowes, who was
as thick, black, and dirty as a tar-barrel, some rough fellows who
might be smugglers, and one or two honest dalesmen.  But David's
eyes were all for the girl.

He spoke to Beddowes; was, with a brusque word, told that he could
have a bed, came to the fire and so was companion to the man and
girl.  He heard someone say 'Mr. Denburn,' so he spoke:

'Am I speaking to Mr. Denburn?' he asked.  The long sallow hatchet
of a face wheeled slowly in his direction and the little eyes
receded into the eyebrows.

'I am Mr. Denburn.'

'My name is Herries,' said David.  'I have a piece of business with
you.  May I come and call on you some time to-morrow?'

The body rose, as though on its heels, and leaned towards him like
a whip, then the voice, cold, chill, and filled with self-
importance, answered:

'Business of moment?'

'To the advantage of both of us, I fancy,' he answered.

'I am at home to-morrow evening.'  Then he added, a little more
graciously (he had been examining David with great care, and
appeared to find him interesting), 'but possibly you prefer to be
away before evening. . . .  I could arrange a meeting in the

David, with a thought of the girl, answered that the evening would
be a perfect appointment.  He knew that the girl had been intently
aware of him, and, suddenly, he looked at her, catching her gaze.
She did not flinch, but looked at him squarely, then smiled.

'A dark night to come over the Pass,' she said.  Her voice
delighted him, rich, warm, deep.  It was as though he had heard it
before, many times, and recognised it, coming home to it.  He was
excited by the sound of it, as he had never been by a woman's

Mr. Denburn went to the door.  She followed him.  Before she went
out she looked back, smiling again, and David smiled too.

Until he slept he thought of her.  Was he in love at last?  He sat
by the fire, looking into the flames, his legs stretched out, as he
loved to sit, talking to nobody, thinking slowly and steadily.

He remembered the women he had ever made any court to.  The woman
in Liverpool, a woman in Seatoller, Christina, one or two more.
Little approaches that had been amusing, casual, leaving his heart
alone.  This was different: already it was different.

It seemed to him, poor David, the newest, most unusual experience
in the world.  It WAS unusual possibly.  Strong healthy men in that
age were seldom as virgin as he at thirty-eight.

He felt about twenty, and as he thought of her with every thought
he was younger.  He recalled the tones of her voice again and again
with a happy luxury.  She was only a child in years, but the voice
seemed to him to have in it wisdom, fun, and good health, three
splendid things as he saw the world.

When he went to his bed in a little room over the stables he found
that he must share it with a stout dalesman.  At any other time
there would have been trouble.  To-night he did not care.  The
dalesman was asleep and snoring like a pig, his hairy chest heaving
under the candle.  David shoved him to the wall.  He only grunted
and turned on his side.  Then David lay down, pulling up his knees,
as he had to do in most beds, and, instantly, with a happy smile on
his face, he was asleep.

He did not, unfortunately, dream of the brown-haired young woman,
but he found himself in the little dark wood, lost, bewildered,
stung by sharp thorns, his feet in plosh and mire.  Beyond and
above him on Stye Head someone was waiting for him, someone in
peril, and it seemed, oddly enough, that this someone was himself.
Did he not reach this figure to rescue him there would be disaster,
but with every effort that he made his feet stuck the faster and
the thorny trees tore his face more savagely.  The voice from Stye
Head called to him:  'Help.  Help!  I can do no more!'  He made a
last gigantic effort for freedom, and woke to find himself
clutching the hairy throat of the stout farmer, his knee planted on
his chest.  Even this did not wake the slumberer, who, lost in his
own pleasures, murmured:  'Coom, lass, pour oot for t' lot.'

David could not sleep after that.  He lay there, listening to a
first lonely bird, smelling the stuffy odour of straw, blanket,
dried cow-dung that the room enclosed.  He lay, his arm behind his
head, gazing at the grey square of the little window, wondering how
now, in clear day-time, he would find her.  Was it perhaps only his
longing to be in love that had cheated him?  Would he discover her
now like the rest, ordinary pleasant womanhood, with no magic about
her?  He didn't know.  He wished urgently that he could summon her
there, immediately, that he might satisfy that question.

At last he got up and went out.  The fresh morning air caressed his
eyes, his mouth, as though it loved him.  He found the beck and
washed his face and hands in it.  It was icy cold.  The light crept
out above the black edge of the Pike, the trees came forth as
though rising from their sleep, the hills moved grandly into their
places.  The few birds and the whispering beck greeted him with a
happy, aloof indifference.

He didn't see her again until the evening.

Scarf Hall was hidden in the woods under Green How.

When David came to it the moon sailed out from above the Screes and
an owl hooted.  The house swam in a pale light that flowed about it
like green water.  An odd building surely; one old tower and on
either side of it bow-windowed circular rooms like ears.  The grass
and bushes of an entangled nettled garden spread almost to the old
door, whose front was lined with thick iron bars, studded with
large flat-faced nails.  Out of one of the upper windows a garment
was hanging to dry, and it flapped humorously in the moonlight.  A
big white cat came out of the shadows and rubbed itself against
David's legs, mewing.

He banged the old knocker, that was an old man's face with nose and
chin meeting, against the thick wood.  His knock resounded as
though it would wake the heart of the Screes, but it didn't disturb
the cat that continued to mew and rub against his boots.

After a while an old man, holding a lamp high, unbarred the door
and opened it an inch.  David must have looked giant-tall in that
moonlight, for the old man nearly dropped the lamp in his
astonishment.  But he had been told maybe that there would be a
visitor, so he opened the door wider, and the cat slipped into the

He was a funny old man, bent and hairy, wearing a green apron.  He
had quite a little company of hairs on the end of his nose.
Without a word he led the way, David striding after.

They were seated about a table in a dining-room eating and
drinking.  Because of the odd uneven shape of the tower this room
was like a box with its corners pushed in.  It seemed that the
corners of the ceiling (which was an ornate one, painted with faded
pink-bottomed cherubs festooned with chains of roses) would fall in
also, for they bulged as though under a heavy weight.  The room was
badly lit with two candles in silver candlesticks.  There was a
spinet in one corner and a large yellow globe like a huge dried
melon in another.  The white cat was curled up on the broad window-

About the table were Mr. Denburn, Miss Denburn, an ancient lady in
rusty black and a high white wig, and a broad thick-set coarse-
looking fellow with a round red face like a sun.  In the poor light
Mr. Denburn was more sallow and hatchet-faced than ever.  With his
long protruding chin his face had the shape of a yellow-pointed
shoe, and his eyebrows looked as though they were made of horsehair
and fastened on with glue.

He tried to be genial this evening, but geniality was difficult for
him.  He bade David welcome, pushed a cold pie towards him, and
filled his glass with wine.  The thickset man was introduced as
Captain Bann.  He was drunk quietly, and, it appeared, in no good

'I must offer my apologies,' David said.  'My business is with some
of your sheep, Mr. Denburn.  I should have told you so last
evening.  You will be forced to have two visits from me.'

But Mr. Denburn was delighted to speak of his sheep.  His self-
sufficiency was amazing.  To hear him speak you would think that
there were no sheep like his in the whole of Northern England--and
yet David knew that he was a poor farmer--almost no farmer at all.
While he spoke he wriggled his body up and down, as though there
were a perpetual itch between his shoulder-blades.

In a very patronising tone he cursed the neighbourhood, the
climate, the Hanoverian government, the war with France, and
humanity quite in general.  He gave David to understand that he had
for long led a life in London very different from this present one;
that had it not been for certain rogues and vagabonds he would now
have his place at court, and that he had rendered this same cursed
Hanoverian family much personal service in the '45, but that he
could wish now that the Pretender had pushed on to London when he
might have done, and thrown the whole London lot into the Thames.

'Aye, aye,' gurgled Captain Bann, his nose in his glass.  'Pox on
the lot and into the Thames with the bastards!'

At this point Miss Denburn and the ancient lady rose to retire, and
David hurried to open the door.  The cat stretched itself and
followed them out.  At the door he bowed and Miss Denburn curtsied,
smiling with the greatest friendship as she did so, and he, as she
smiled, felt his body tingle all over.

Returning to the table David found that the two gentlemen were
regarding his physique with great interest.  Indeed Captain Bann,
who was now far gone in liquor, proposed that the two of them
should strip there and then and try a fall.  There should be stakes
which Mr. Denburn should hold.  He was beginning immediately,
swaying on his stout legs, having taken off his coat, to undo his
stock.  David, however, firmly declined the honour.

It was shortly plain enough to him that these were two very
considerable scoundrels.  They had an understanding which hinted at
many mutual past knaveries, and Mr. Denburn was the master of the
other.  Denburn did not drink; his eyes under the absurd eyebrows
were never still.  He cracked walnuts in his sharp bony fingers as
though he were cracking beads.

Captain Bann was made quarrelsome with drink, and wished to provoke
David to some argument.  He spilled wine on the tablecloth and
paddled his fingers in it, even flicking a drop or two into David's
face.  But David was not to be provoked.  It occurred to him,
however, that had Denburn been of that mind the two of them would
have set upon him without any uneasiness of conscience; it was an
unpleasant notion to have Denburn's long fingers at his wind-pipe
and the Captain's brawny shoulders pressed on his stomach.  That he
could manage them both he did not doubt, but it was a lonely spot,
lonely and most ominously silent.  There was no sound at all but
the tapping of a branch against the pane behind the green curtains.

So, very shortly, he made his excuses to depart.  Denburn did not
attempt to stop him, and they arranged for a morning visit to the

He had no further word with Miss Denburn.

Quite early, however, next morning he encountered her, and had with
her what was for him a very eventful conversation.  Waking again
very early (this last night he had had his bed to himself) he went
down to the lake and stood watching the silver ripples break from
the mirror, running out of the glassy stillness as though with
childlike delight into the young stiff reeds at the water's edge.

He stood there, looking down, as the light broadened over the
Screes, heard steps, looked up and saw Miss Denburn.  She had not
seen him in the half-light, but was walking along the lake path,
her head up, her body beautifully free, taking in the morning air.

He straightened himself and bowed, smiling very shyly.  He had read
few romances and little poetry, books gave him poor pleasure, but
if he had he would have known that this was a fitting time and
place for a lovers' meeting.  As it was, he did not think of
himself as a lover but only as David Herries, delighted at the
presence of a most beautiful lady.  In actual truth he did not
think consciously of anything at all.

She was as little self-conscious as he.  To reveal a secret, she
had fallen in love with him instantly at first sight in the inn
yesterday.  It had seemed to her as natural as mounting a horse.
She had fallen in love a number of times in her young life already.
She thought falling in love exceedingly pleasant.  She was by
nature impetuous and fond of all natural things--eating, sleeping,
hunting, fishing, chattering, loving, hating.

When she saw a handsome thing she went directly towards it.  David
was by far the handsomest man she had ever seen.  She had thought
about him incessantly since first meeting him and how she might
meet him again without anyone else being by.  She had come out this
morning on the chance.  He was the kind of man she fancied would be
up early.

Had he said at once this morning:  'I love you.  Marry me,' she
would have answered at once:  'Yes, I will,' without a moment's
proper hesitation.

All her life she had been with bad, ugly-thinking, vilely-acting
men, and she would have followed a tramp to get away from them.  It
was the mercy of a sometimes benevolent Providence that young Sarah
was not by now wedded to a tin kettle and a baked hedgehog with a
rabble of ragged children at her skirts.  She had no caution
whatever.  But, as David was shortly to learn, escaping from Mr.
Denburn was not so easy as it might be.

As a matter of history David did, within a surprisingly short time,
tell her that he loved her.  As has been already explained, he was
in a state very imminent on declaring his passion to some one or
other, and this was a girl most exactly after his physical desire.
Whether they were, either of them, after the spiritual needs of one
another was something neither gave a thought towards.  By good
chance for the blood-history of many later Herries they were, both
of them, fine creatures.  Every once and again these chancy things
happen fortunately.

In any case, Sarah looking at him with the smiling eagerness with
which a young puppy looks at some human who promises a walk, David
naturally advanced in boldness very swiftly.

They walked beside the lake together while the sun came over the
hill and worked patterns of gold into the black reflections of the
precipitous Screes.  Over their shoulders Middle Fell looked down
upon them benevolently.

David began with becoming modesty.  He explained some facts about
himself and that he lived at Rosthwaite in Borrowdale.

'I know Rosthwaite,' she remarked reflectively.  Then she added:
'My name is Sarah.'

He told her that he had a business with Liverpool trade, that he
was buying land thereabout, and, in fine, that things were going
well with him.

'You are married, Mr. Herries?' she asked him, giving him a very
quick look and thinking him so handsome that she longed to pull his

No, he was not.  He looked at her as he said it, and blushed.
Gathering boldness, he asked her whether she lived alone here with
her father, and said that it must be bleak enough in the winter-

She startled him by the answer:

'Mr. Denburn,' she said, 'is not my father.'

He was astonished indeed.

'No.  He is my uncle.  My parents are both dead.  My father died in
the year previous.  My uncle is my guardian.'

David was encouraged then to hint that it had not seemed to him
natural that Mr. Denburn should be her father.  He hinted that he
did not like Mr. Denburn.

'Like him indeed!' her voice rang out.  'He is detestable!  I have
always hated him.  He was my father's brother and held a strange
influence over my father.  In his last years my father was, I fear,
quite in my uncle's hands.  I inherit some wealth--no great sum--
from my dear mother.  I was their only child.  My uncle removed to
this lonely spot that he might influence my determination.  It is
his desire that I should marry that pig of a Captain whom you saw
besotted at the table last night.

'My resolve for my own independence irritates them vastly.  I am
only seeking some opportunity to return to London.  But this
guardianship is strict.  Even now the Captain is, I wager, if he is
not sleeping off his drunkenness, somewhere on the watch.  If not
the Captain, then my uncle.  You see, Mr. Herries, I am a captive.'

She said it laughing, and he greatly admired her spirit, but he
fancied that behind her laughter there was an apprehension.  She
was not, he imagined, as happy as she seemed.

She told him that she must return.  Even now it was dangerous for
her to be away.

He offered then his assistance, in any sort, in any kind.  And a
moment later, without realising the extravagant speed of his
progress, he was telling her that he loved her, that he had loved
her at the first sight in the inn, that he had never truly loved
anyone before, and that he would love her, he fancied, for ever and

'What!' she cried.  'You the age you are and the handsome man you
are and never loved anyone before!'

'Never!' he declared, and with more truth than she could dream of.
She did perhaps, young as she was, realise that there was something
different in the freshness and sincerity of his declaration from
the ordinary fashion of men.

Her eyes softened and her face shone with pleasure as she looked at
him.  She could not help herself.  He was so very delightful.  She
gave him her hand and told him that she would meet him again that
afternoon.  She would walk across the fields to a farm at the foot
of Lingmell with the old woman who was her duenna.  She would see
that the old woman did not disturb them.

They parted like two children enchanted with one another's company.
He was very young for his years.

He saw Mr. Denburn that morning and Mr. Denburn's sheep.  He bought
the sheep and hated Denburn.  He would in any case have hated him,
but now, because he knew that Sarah was oppressed by him, it was
difficult for him to keep his hands away from him.

Denburn of course noticed nothing.  As with all self-appreciatory
persons he was lost in his own glories.  Because David said little
he discovered him to be good company.  His condemnations covered
the whole world: no one and nothing escaped them.  With his scorn
there was mingled a mean anger and an avaricious greed.  He would
have haggled over the sheep's price for an hour but David gave him
at once what he asked.  He scarcely saw the sheep, he did not see
Denburn at all; he saw only young Sarah with all the glories of
heaven about her head and himself in bliss at her feet.  He also
saw himself as the inevitable father of her children.  When he had
left him and was back at the inn he went up to the stuffy little
chamber, into which the May sun was now pouring, sat on the
miserable truckle-bed and endeavoured to control his fire.  But he
could not.  It lapped him around with a burning, shining flame.
Never, in his thirty-eight years, had he approached this sensation
of worship, happiness and almost agonising wonder.  He had not
known that love would be like this nor that it could descend with
such precipitate suddenness.  He had no doubts about its issue.  He
would shortly marry Sarah and that was enough.

How he would marry her, snatch her from her captivity, did not yet
occur to him; nor did he at present think of his father nor Deborah
nor Herries.  He had never been able to think of more than one
thing at a time.

And so when he met her on a sunny meadow under Lingmell he could
not at first speak at all.

The ancient lady who accompanied her had been left in the farmhouse
asleep.  It was her virtue that, placed in a comfortable chair, her
handkerchief over her face, she fell instantly asleep, like any
bird with a cloth over its cage.  Sarah had discovered this
pleasant trait in her and profited by it.

So in that meadow, the shadows from the hill gathered about it as
they walked, they confessed their love.  It was not, it could not
be, a very lengthy business, when two are instantly of the same
mind, afraid of nothing and regardless either of the present or

David, when at last he found words, said:  'I told you this
morning.  I must repeat it.  I cannot help it if you are angry.  I
have been thinking of you incessantly since the morning and I must
tell you again that I love you.'

Sarah replied:  'I am not angry at all.  I loved you the first
instant in the inn.'

David said (but not meaning it):  'You should consider it.  I am
very old.'

And Sarah answered:  'Young men never pleased me.'

Then he kissed her, very gently, not as he intended to kiss her
later on.

They were both so exquisitely happy that for a long time they could
not speak at all but looked at one another, walked a little and
looked at one another again.

After a while it occurred to them (the gathering shadows warned
them) that the old lady would soon wake and that something must be

'Of course,' David said, 'you must come away with me.'  He stood
drinking in her loveliness.  She was none of these thin willowy
women that you could crack over your knee, but strong, broad-
breasted, of noble carriage, health, vigour, energy, simple
directness in every look and gesture.  A third, watching them,
might have thought them of the same family.

'Of course I must,' said Sarah and then moved, with more practical
directness than he, on to the difficulties.

It seemed, at first sight, an easy matter.  All, David said, that
she had to do was to walk out of the house.  He would have a horse
at hand, and so, over the Pass and home.  Indeed his first
suggestion was that she should come with him immediately.

That, so eager and impetuous were they, might have been (and much
trouble spared them) were it not for the old woman.  Sarah would
not leave her to the fury of her uncle.  She must go when the old
lady was not on duty.  From this she would not stir.

David began now to be once more his true, slow, cautious self.
This needed thinking of; there was Herries, there was his father.
There were his own affairs.  He hesitated less than ever as to his
purpose, but everything must be soundly based at home, ready for
her when she came.

He discovered then that she was being guarded as a prisoner.
Although she might laugh with her young indomitable courage, he
began to realise that these last months had been torture for her,
and that, had he come or no, she would not in any case have endured
much more of it.  A more suspicious soul than David might at this
point have asked himself whether she were not using him only as a
means of escape.  But with all his simplicity he was astute.  He
knew that she was in his own state of blissful bewildering love.

They could not, in fact, make any very serious decisions that
afternoon.  After a sentence they would stop and walk in a world
together so magical and removed from argument that all plans were
monstrously unreal.  The most that it came to was that, early to-
morrow morning, he would take his sheep home, and then shortly
return to take her after the sheep.

Only it must be soon.  For every reason, but chiefly because
waiting seemed an incredible folly--it must be soon.

Once again he kissed her, behind the thick body of a chestnut tree
(lest they should be observed), and this time it was a long
embrace, with all heaven in it.  That was the first true kiss of
David's life.

Once, as they neared the farm, she turned to him, and there was a
new seriousness in her voice.  'Do not think,' she said, 'because I
have told you so quickly that I love you that it is a light word.
I have been moving to this my whole life long.'  She spoke as
though she had already lived an eternity.  And he very gravely
answered:  'I will love you, dear Sarah, for ever.'

They came into the farm and found the old lady fast sleeping under
a red handkerchief, and snoring lustily.




Abductions were common enough at that moment in the world's
history; they roused no sort of comment unless the persons
concerned were of social or financial splendour.  David and Sarah
were of neither.  It was in fact a completely minor affair to
everyone save the few persons concerned.

It was unimportant to David's father.  David hinted to him that he
had discovered the lady and might, if fortune favoured, bring her
home.  Herries was digging.  He looked up, his face muddy, his eyes
angry at withdrawing from their proper business.

He told David to go to hell, find anyone there he fancied, and do
with her what he pleased.  He was in one of his old moods, cursing
the mud that splashed into his face, cursing his aching bones, but
happy and tranquil in his occupation.

And David in his turn was angry in the old way.  He abused his
father handsomely, and going into the house felt a proper relief.
He could do as he pleased: whatever way he went his father would be
behind him.

In the doorway he met Mirabell.  She was standing there watching a
flight of birds cutting their way through the fresh spring air.

She was holding in both hands a tub filled with dirty water, her
thin spare arms straining to the weight.  Her face, beautifully
pale like ivory under the tawny hair, was raised to the sky with a
childlike pleased curiosity.

She smiled shyly at David.  'You see them best on the Fell,' she
said, 'where you may follow them for a fine distance. . . .  The
hills have taken them.'

He tried to relieve her of the tub but she wouldn't allow him.  She
was always shy with him, eager to please him without giving him any
of herself.

But what he felt now was the amazing contrast that she made with
young Sarah.  On every occasion that he saw a woman now, Sarah was
the more wonderful to him.  This fancy of his father's--he liked
her, felt kind to her, would be glad to please her, but she was a
fade-away unhappy wisp, holding herself in against everybody, while

At the thought of her he was in such a glow of happiness that he
could have picked Mirabell up in his arms and tossed her like a

She, with her funny, almost witch-like perception of the moods of
others, said:

'You're happy to-day.'

'I am,' he answered, throwing his arms up to the sky.  'I am!  I
am!  I am!'

He was in a mood to tell her of it.

'I have found a maid--over the hill.  I'm going to fetch her back,
and marry her.'

To his surprise Mirabell was happy, as though good news had come to

'I'm glad.  Where will you live?'


'Yes, don't leave your father.'  She put down the tub and caught
his great hand in her thin bony fingers.  She looked up at him,
smiling.  'Is she young?  And beautiful?  And a fine mother for
your children?'

'She is young and beautiful, and a fine mother for my children,' he
repeated after her, smiling back at her.  They had never come so
close together before.

'Bring her here, Davy.  There is room enough.'

'Oh yes,' he answered, looking up at the old house where in one
corner the roof was slipping, and where a chimney cocked
sarcastically with a drunken leer.  'There is room.  But, Mirabell,
why should we not all go from here?  There is money enough for a
fine place where they can take father newly.  Here they have always
hated him.  Persuade him, Mirabell.'

But she shook her head.  'In that I can't move him.  He is stuck in
the place.'

'For you he'd do anything.'

'No.  That--never.'

Then she picked up the tub again, moved into the court, and over
her shoulder, repeated:  'Bring her here, Davy.  Good luck to your

Next morning he went back to Wasdale.  He walked over.  After much
thinking he had decided that a horse would be a danger, that he
must be as little visible as possible before the event.  He was
inclined at this moment to consider but lightly of the whole

For Sarah to escape from two such elderly-ruffians as Denburn and
the Captain would be surely no problem.  It seemed to him as he
walked under a clear blue sky, singing, the very simplest thing in
the world. . . .

In the little valley by the beck under the Pass at the foot of
Lingmell there was a deserted shepherd's hut that he had marked on
the last occasion.  This, he thought, would do very well to pass a
night in without observation.

He reached it in the late afternoon when the light was failing.
The silence was profound, broken only by the gentle running of the
beck.  There was a sweet air scented with water and fresh grass.
He sat in the little hut on a pile of dry bracken while the colours
faded and the sky whitened, thinking, happily, triumphantly, of all
the joy that was coming to him.  He hadn't known that love could so
change the world in a second of time.

He stretched his body out, his arms behind his head, and looked up
at a little hole in the turfed roof through which the sky was like
a crystal cup.

His imagination had Sarah in his arms, and he whispered to her:
'My darling, my little love,' and enjoyed himself hugely.

When it was dark he went out.  He met nobody until before he
reached the wood of Scarf Hall.  The world seemed to be entirely

When he came to the grass-grown drive he stole carefully to the
rear of the tower to see whether a window were open.  On the left
side he found a window brilliantly lighted.  The shine streamed
out, illuminating a strange little garden that had once been
carefully tended.  There was a thick box hedge with animals cut
upon it--a cock, a swan, a dog--and in the centre of the little
lawn a square sundial.  This was all lit with the pale shadowed
light from the candles in the room.

Standing in the dark by the box hedge he could see into the room.
The table, whose surface shone like a mirror, had on it a large
bowl of fruit, a bottle of wine, and a board of red and yellow
chessmen set out as though for play.  The white cat was curled up
near the yellow globe.  A large silver candelabrum with many
branches threw a fine dazzling radiance over the broad figure of
the Captain, who was seated, alone in the room, at the table, his
large red face between his hands, staring in front of him, a grand
picture of drunken stupor.  The room was so still that it might
have been a painted scene.

After a while a breeze descended among the trees and, as though he
had been roused by that (although he could not have heard it), the
Captain took the bottle of wine with a shaking hand, filled a long
thin glass, raised it to his mouth, drank it, and then, amazingly,
climbed to his feet and shook his fist threateningly and savagely
in the air, at nothing in particular.

He was the picture then of a man very angry and very foolish.  His
rage seemed to possess him for he suddenly, with a curve of his
stout arm, swept all the chessmen off the board, raised the board
itself and flung it to the ground.  Then he stared about him as
though he had just awakened from a dream.  It was odd enough to see
all this in dumb show and hear no sound.

A thin cold rain began to fall, pattering among the leaves.

The door opened, the Captain turned, and, miracle of miracles,
Sarah entered.  She was dressed exquisitely in a silver dress, and
she carried a candle.  When she saw the Captain she would retire
again, but he stumbled to the door and stood with his back to it.

She blew out the candle, placed it quietly on the table and turned
to him, her head raised.  She said something to him; he replied,
very ludicrously falling on one knee.  She came to the window and
at that same moment David stepped forward into the light.  He stood
there in an agony of apprehension lest the Captain should see him,
but the Captain, drunken as he was, could not balance himself on
his knee and sprawled to the floor.

Sarah laughed (and a fine splendid sight it was to see), stepped
over his body and, at the moment that her hand was on the door,
looked back into the garden.

She saw him.  Heaven be thanked, she saw him!  Her face was rosy,
she put her hand for an instant to her breast, then left the room.
The Captain lay there where he had fallen, his face in the

Some window must have been slightly open, for the candles began all
hurriedly to blow as though they were laughing at the Captain, and
in that same new flurry of wind Sarah had joined David by the

They exchanged no word.  He drew her face to his, his hands were
about her neck, the rain blessing both of them.

At last, withdrawing from one another, they began to laugh in sheer
joy of seeing each other again.  He drew her away into the back of
the little garden out of the light, then hurriedly told her his
plan:  'It must be to-morrow night.  I will be here in this same
place.  At what hour?'

She whispered back:  'At this same time.  But I may not escape at
once.  I will come from that window. . . .'  Then in sheer
happiness she caressed his face with her hand, tracing his mouth,
his eyes, his nose.

'I hadn't dreamt it would be so soon.  I have watched two evenings.
I must pull your ears.  It was the first thing in the inn I

'You will be damp.  The rain--'

'Kiss me again.  Hold me tightly.  If I had other clothes I would
come now. . . .'

'Do you love me?  Have you thought of me?'

'I love you so. . . .  I haven't ate a thing these two days.  My
uncle . . .'

She broke off, listening.  The Captain had come through the window,
lurched on to the bright square of lawn, took off his wig and
lifted his naked scalp to the rain.  He stumbled towards them,
holding his wig in his hand.

'Water,' they heard him say.  'Damned refreshing . . . cool to the
head.'  He rocked into the sundial which he clasped with both arms.

They waited, scarcely breathing, while he hugged the dial.  Then
they kissed again, a long embrace, suddenly not caring for the
Captain.  She came out into the light, walked right past him,
through the window into the house.

He stood, scratching his head, not knowing whether he had seen
anything or no.  David slipped away.

He slept the sleep of the innocent, the just and the healthy that
night in the hut and dreamt of nothing and nobody.  He woke to a
cold day with a great wind that drove bellying grey clouds in
riotous hurry over the hills as though preparing for some grand
show when the clouds should be packed away.  All day they rolled,
leaving the tops clear, sharp and cold beneath their smoky
procession.  All day David stayed in the little valley, eating the
bread and meat that he had brought with him and drinking out of the
stream.  He climbed the Pass as far as Stye Head then, to warm
himself.  It was but a little way down into Borrowdale.  There
could be but little trouble in the affair.  They would be at
Herries by early morning.

He had but one encounter; a thin wiry choleric Squire with some
hounds who, attended by two men, was going up the Pass as he came
down.  The Squire wanted company and held David by the coat while
he enlarged on his affairs.  Like another Squire of his time he was
all for 'lending' anyone who disagreed with him 'a flick.'  He had
a long matter in his head about an estate that joined his own,
somewhere, David gathered, Eskdale way.  'Join the two and there's
no larger estate in the kingdom.  I had rather bate something than
have the pox of a fellow advising me on my own ground.'  He had an
especial cursing fury at the towns and London in particular.  'I'd
be a Hanoverian 'fore I'd show my arse among their smoking
chimneys.  Pox on all Hanoverians and Presbyterians either.  Thou
must come drink a bottle at my table.  I'll show thee some trees
and some horses also.  You show your fancy very plainly.  I'm ne'er
mistaken in a man.  Thou'rt no Hanoverian.'

He would then back with David and drink with him in the Wasdale
Inn.  Then, to David's consternation, suggested they should impose
themselves on Scarf Hall.  He knew, it seemed, Denburn.  'He's a
mean varlet,' and he'd doff his clothes to give him a lick as soon
as spit in his face; nevertheless there'd be wine there and they'd
make a rousing night of it.

It took a quarter of an hour's good work to dissuade him from this
and to push him on up the hill again, but at last, swearing at his
men and his hounds, he vanished round the bend, his little wiry
legs the last visible part of him.

The only merit of this adventure was that it was pleasant to
realise the general unpopularity of Denburn.  All human kind
doubtless loathed him.  David had through the afternoon some
apprehension lest the testy Squire, in search of good liquor,
should turn and descend again, and he watched the Pass with some
anxiety.  But there was no figure on the Pass.  Doubtless he had
gone, cursing, down into his own place in Eskdale.

The rain threatened all day but never fell.  When at last darkness
came, the hills were clear and later there would be a moon.

In the little garden again he performed the silliest act of his
life.  Looking back afterwards he never could see what drove him to
it.  It may have been the cold, which was bitter, or impatience to
bring things to an issue, or sheer childish playfulness.

In any case the garden was chill, half-an-hour's waiting made him
stamp his feet with restlessness, the house was dark without a
visible light.  He stepped over the lawn, brushing against the
sundial, felt for the window of the dining-parlour, found it
unlatched and was inside.

There he paused, his hand on the table-edge.  He listened; there
was not a sound but a hysterical clock that giggled somewhere like
a schoolgirl.  He opened the door, crept into the hall, a wavering
candle turned the corner, and in a moment he had the old lady in
his arms.

He clasped her to him as though he loved her, his broad hand over
her mouth, and pulled her, lighted candle and all, back into the
parlour, and closed the door very quietly behind him.  The old lady
was in a strange garment of faded green, her grey hair about her
shoulders and on her lined wrinkled face an expression of such
convulsive terror that it touched his compassion.  But she did not
speak, only gaped at him, her mouth open like a young bird's.  He
took the candle from her trembling hand and set it down on the

'You love Miss Denburn,' he said hurriedly.  'I know you do.  Miss
Denburn is in great peril and must be away with me to-night.  I
would not put you to any sort of inconvenience, madam, but every
moment has its danger.  Assist us and you shall be rewarded

Her mouth opened and shut.  She kept plucking at her green gown
that it might cover her nglig.  The leaping candle made the
queerest figure behind her on the wall.  She said at last in the
oddest voice, between a squeak and a whisper:

'There's the Captain coming down and we're all undone.'

He saw from that that she was on the right side and had probably
been already warned by Sarah, but she trembled like a flower and,
he feared, might at any moment drop to the ground in a faint.

So he pushed her into a chair, poured some wine from a decanter on
the table into a glass and made her drink it.  She gasped and
gurgled, but, it was plain, enjoyed it.

'Now, madam, you must return to Miss Denburn and tell her that I am
waiting for her here.  Then go to your chamber and remain there.'

He spoke sternly, but he smiled.  And she, to his astonishment,
smiled back at him, put her finger to her lip with an evident
enjoyment of the conspiracy and, clutching her gown about her,
stole softly out of the room again.

A moment later, listening in the darkness, he heard the Captain's
voice.  The Captain was not drunk to-night.  He sounded another
man, rallying the old lady with quite a deep dignity and precision.

She, David gathered, was endeavouring to escape up the stairs and
he detaining her.

'No shame on your attire, Sister,' he was saying (that plainly his
jocular name for her).  'You shall drink a glass with me--a
handsome night-cap.  The moon will be up and we will salute it
through the open window.'

She replied something and then David could hear her hastening
upstairs.  A second later the Captain was through the door, so near
to David that he could feel the hot breath on his cheek.

He was himself pressed back against the wall as flat as his great
body would allow, his hand ready on his sword-hilt.

The Captain went past him and began to curse for a light.  He had a
fashion, it seemed, of talking to himself.  'Curses on the dark!
'Tis a house of no discipline.  But I'll not drink this evening.
I'll match Ned with his sobriety, blast his superior elegance.  And
I'll not be longer here neither; it's a job or it's no bargain,
nasty skinflint.'

He moved to the window.  David could see his broad bulk, in the
thin light that preceded the moon, his hands in his breeches
pocket, his legs straddling.  He continued to talk as an angry boy
might:  'I'm no such fool as he'd think me, as he'll find in his
own time.  The girl's well enough, but she hates me sober and
loathes me drunk.

'And there's Jane at Newmarket. . . .  A shrew's a shrew however
much gold she carries. . . .  And this plaguy country where it
rains like Egypt's plague, and no company to make a night of
it. . . .'  He yawned prodigiously, then, with an exclamation, found
in his pocket what he wanted.  He fingered the tinder-box, struck a
light, turned and saw David.

In another second he would have shouted but with a leap David was
across the room, had knocked the light from him and hurled him with
a crash to the ground, his hand over his mouth.  The noise of the
crash must surely rouse the house and as, after that, they
struggled, David's ears were alert for Denburn's footsteps.  But
there was nothing save the chattering clock that seemed suddenly to
redouble its pace in a violent excitement.

That was no mean struggle.  The Captain must in earlier days have
been a man of his hands, and even now, weakened by lazy living and
drink, his big body had energy.  Had David been free it would have
been a matter of a few moments, but as it was he must keep his hand
over the man's mouth, which hampered him sadly.  The Captain
wriggled like a worm, now bottom up, then with his legs twisting
like a centipede's, then with a sudden force in his belly that
turned it into iron, pressing against David's arm.  He had his hand
in David's eye and was knuckling him lustily until, throwing his
body on to the man's stomach, David had a free arm and could press
the other's hand back to the floor.

Their panting breath and the roll of their bodies on the floor was
the only sound.

Then the door was open and there was a light.  David could not turn
to see and had an awful fear it was Denburn.  But it was Sarah's

'Quick,' she said.  'My uncle is on the stairs.'

'The bands from the curtains,' he gasped.  'Fasten his legs.'

With admirable energy and dexterity she had them there and (as she
told him later) tied them about those stout ankles with the
greatest satisfaction.  She was as brisk as though her life had
been spent in such tasks.

'The garden-house. . . .  Over the lawn. . . .'

They pushed the window and dragged him out.  David's wide and deep
kerchief was over his nose and mouth, the curtain-bands over his
arms and legs.  These were temporary enough and would stand little
resistance, but for the moment they must do.

David's huge arms dragged him across the lawn (his head bumped the
sundial), through the path by the box hedge, and, hidden in
thicket, there was the garden-house.  It was a small enough place,
piled with straw and gardening-tools, but they bundled him in,
closed the door and bolted it.  Then they ran.

By the path that skirted the lake-end they stopped.  She caught his
hand and leaned against him, recovering her breath.  They listened
intently.  It was strange after those moments of hot panting
struggle to stand still in a world, cold, motionless, at their feet
the grey rounding of the lake and about them everywhere the dim
shapes of the hills.  The house, the room, the heaving body of the
Captain, all in China. . . .

A dog barked somewhere.  The reeds rustled.  He held her to him as
though she were part of himself.

'Now . . . how long may that garden-house bolt last?'

'Not long; the wood is rotten.'

David laughed.  'He had an immoderate taste of my fingers . . .
Come.  We'll do the kissing later.  There's no time . . .'

They were off again, through the little gathering of houses, then
the wood, then the foot of the Pass.

'Soon there'll be the moon.'

Before they started to climb, in that strange milky glow, they
turned toward one another and kissed.  Her immediate ready courage
of the last half-hour pleased him most divinely.  That was the
companion that he would have, a man in swiftness, eagerness of
perception, a woman when the softer time demanded it.

He was proud of her mettle beyond any personal pride that he had
ever known.

'You did that bravely.  Oh, I love you a thousand times for it!'

She took his head in her hands, fondling it, bending it to her
breast.  'I did not know that love would be thus,' she murmured.
Silly stuff to both of them had they heard others whisper it, but
they might be allowed it, the night before them being sterner than
they knew.

Indeed so little concerned were they that they started up the Pass
hand in hand, like two children.

She told him her adventure.  The old lady had warned her, she had
started down the stairs when she heard the crash of the tumble.
Then there was panic for her!  What to do?  To go forward and risk
what she might find below or to turn back and wait?  The door of
Denburn's room opened.  It was dark on the stair and she waited,
listening for his movement.  He asked her from his door had she
heard anything.

'Only an owl,' she had called back to him, her heart thumping.  He
went in again, closing his door, and once more she listened.  Now
everything was still save the clock.  Only the white cat (that had
doubtless slipped through the door when the Captain opened it)
slithered up to her, rubbing against her legs.  She had taken that
as an omen, and so went forward.  Then, most foolishly, when she
saw the pair of them struggling on the floor she had wanted to
laugh.  The Captain's broad beam and his knuckle in David's
eyes . . .

But at the thought of that she caught David's hand the tighter.

So they walked on, unconscious of anything save the splendour of
being in love, of the health of their bodies.  One hundred and
fifty years later a descendant of theirs would be walking up this
same Pass with the lady of his choice to whom he had just declared
his passion.  She had accepted him, but, as he kicked the rough
shale from under his feet, he would be wondering, in the manner of
his time, whether he had done wisely.  She was pretty enough, but
might she not sicken after children?  Of course with birth-control
methods as safe as they were . . .  Her nose certainly went blue
with the cold (although to-morrow was the first of May it was
damned cold) and her taste in Chinese art was uncertain . . .
'Darling,' he was, a hundred and fifty years later, remarking,
'That book of Breasted's shows quite plainly . . .'

And now at this same moment David, looking back down the milky path
and feeling at his sword, said most happily:  ''Twould be no bad
place for a fight . . . if your uncle has the stomach for it.'
Only the wind, whistling by, answered them.  There was no suspicion
of a pursuer.

He kissed her again.  He really couldn't kiss her enough; this
kissing was so different from any that he had ever known.

Then the moon peered over the edge of Lingmell.  She scarcely
showed herself, a fingernail of pale colour, but she was rising;
very soon the Pass would be flooded with light, the moon that
ushered in May.

But it was not to be just yet.  There drifted, in the odd fashion
of inconstancy that these hills have, sudden filmy wisps of mist,
the edges of the thinnest gauze, having no especial purpose, rising
from nowhere, born of nothing, so thin as to be transparent with
the dim preface of the moon behind them.  And at the same moment a
new wind began to shrill up the valley between Lingmell and the

David after many years knew this country well and something in the
wind told him that these vapours would not remain transparent for
long.  An odd unanalysed anxiety caught him.  Mist was the one
thing of which he had not thought.

'Oh, look!' Sarah caught his arm and pointed to the valley.  ''Tis
as though a great kettle were boiling.'  The vapour was coming up
towards them in spirals of smoke and, you might suppose, little
clouds of steam.  David was not imaginative, but, in his anxiety to
have this adventure safely over, he was ready to fancy some active
agency down there in the valley, some enemy raising a huge fire of
damp logs to send up a torrent of twisting smoke.

'We must press on,' he said.  'The Pass can be cursedly confusing
in the mist.'  The thin gauze skirted the Pass like a live thing
and as it thickened above them, obscuring the rising moon, the
world darkened again and chilled, the wind whispering at their

An odd thing happened then to David.  He fancied that his father
was walking beside them.  He could almost see the man, tall and
powerful, with his long hair, his shoulders a little shrunken, his
whole body moving forward with that obstinate energy that was so
peculiarly his, his eyes staring into some imagined dream of space.

It was as though he said:  'There is trouble for you now, and so I
am here.  You have taken this girl in a single second, forgetting
our bond together.  But you will not be permitted to forget it.  We
are Herries always, and we Herries are always together against the
world whether we wish it or no, and so it will always be.  Our bond
is for no time or termination.  It endures infinitely.  A
weariness, perhaps, but nevertheless a law.'

Indeed David may at this moment have been thinking these things,
for he was suddenly conscious of his father, and not very long ago,
at Herries, his father had said something of this kind to him when
he asked him why he did not marry, and added that marriage would be
no escape for him because he was indubitably a Herries, and must
always belong to those of his own blood rather than to anyone from

It was only for a second in time that David saw his father striding
there beside them, but it was a second that contained many
centuries in its form.

The incident thirteen years back, in Carlisle, came to him when he
had watched in the fog on the walls.  He had lost his father and
then, in the early morning, his father had found him.  There had
been an extraordinary relief in that reunion, something far beyond
the immediate circumstance of the incident.

Now again, for nearly two days, he had lost his father, absorbed by
his sudden love for this girl.  His father had held him once more
and, for that moment, it had been as though Sarah did not exist.

He had her again, catching her hand.  The Pass was really steep
here with a sharp edge, and the mist was now boiling up from the
valley in thick rolling masses of cloud.

He stayed her to caution her, and at that same instant the tops
cleared, the moon sailed out, full and faintly red-cherry coloured.
Everything was illuminated, the Gavel on their left, Lingmell,
Scafell, the Pike, the rough track of the Pass winding down into
the valley.

They turned to look back, and there, sharply clear in the
moonlight, pressing up the Pass were two figures, Denburn and the

Each saw the other and stood transfixed.  David was happy.

'If only the mist holds off I can deal with them.  They won't use
their pistols so long as you are here.  Oh, but I'm longing for a
cut at your uncle--'

The distance between them was short.  The two men were standing on
a green promontory that stretched out of the Pass over the valley,
looking to Wasdale and the sea.  They were exceedingly clear in the
moonlight, first like statues, then beginning with feverish energy
to scramble forward up the Pass.  Denburn shouted something and
David, laughing, shouted back:

'Oh!  Oh!  Oh!  Cut-throat and Captain!  I'll buy you both for a
farthing.'  He was like a boy again at the thought of a fight.

'I could meet them here,' he said reluctantly.  'At this bend.  I'd
have the command of the path.'

But Sarah urged him on.  Her courage, although she would never let
him know, had failed her.  She didn't want him to fight, she was
sick in the stomach, she was suddenly a child of her own really
tender years.  She had been brave enough in the house because that
had been a matter of escape, and her uncle had not shared in it.
But now he was almost upon them, and all the terror and sense of
malignant power with which he had always possessed her returned to

Since she had been an infant in the little house, with her father
and mother, in Kensington village, she had known this.  She had
caught it first, perhaps, from the terror that her father and
mother had of him.

When he had reached to her and tried to take her on his knee, she
had shivered and gone pale with apprehension.  The comfits that he
had given to her had always seemed to her poisoned, the touch of
his hand the touch of a frog.

The natural buoyancy and health of her disposition had prevented
this from breeding in her any permanent unhappiness.  Her terror of
him was intermittent, only really present when his physical body
forced her to realise it.  It was his physical body that she
realised now.  Although he was only a manikin of a figure against
those moonlit hills, he was as real and powerful as though he were
there beside them.  She was sure that he would kill David!  He had
the evil power.  There was something in him that must be stronger
than the goodness and courage in David.

So she urged David forward, running ahead of him, and he followed,
joy in his heart that now he might at last settle with that dirty
fellow who had ill-treated his beloved Sarah, stroking his sword-
hilt as though it were the best friend he had.

They had reached the turn, climbed the boulders, came to the point
where the signpost now assists the aspiring tourist, saw the tarn
lying before them black under the moonlight.

'I will meet them here,' David said, his pistol in one hand, his
sword drawn in the other.

Sarah implored him to go on.  He saw then her terror and was,
privately, disappointed in it.

'I will but make a statement or two,' he said quietly, but with the
obstinacy of a small boy.  'Your uncle must understand my feeling
for him before I take you from him.  That is justice.'

Then he saw the rising ground that leads past Sprinkling Tarn and
Allen Crags to Esk Hause.  'That would be better,' and, with her
following him, he took the higher fell.

Then, without an instant's warning, the moon was blotted out again.
The mist swept up in an array of thin cloud that veiled the hills,
the fell, the tarn.  Before it thickened into a wall of white
muffling vapour they saw the two figures round the corner and start
up the fell towards them.

'Now we are caught indeed,' David whispered.  He stood listening.
He felt for her hand, clutching it.  'Don't move from me,' he
cautioned her.  ''Tis easy to miss in this cloud.  I must listen
for their step.'

But, as always in that mountain-mist, listening he heard every
imagined sound.  Rocks seemed to fall from a great height, water
rose in a whirl-wind from the lower ground, voices were everywhere,
animals rustled at their feet, there was secret laughing, an army
of curses, the ringing of bells, and behind and around all this a
dead cold stillness like the grave.

Forgetting his own caution and thinking he heard his enemy, he
moved away from her.

Again he listened, and suddenly, quite near to him, so that it was
almost at his ear, he heard the Captain's voice:  'I'll not move
till this mist thins.  It's the Devil's work. . . .'

David turned and there, looming right up at him, and seemingly
twice its natural size, was the Captain's body.  The Captain saw
him at the same instant and immediately a shot struck the wind.
The echo of the pistol fire was volcanic, as though the whole
system of rock and fell had split with one heave.

Then they were breast to breast and, a moment after, sword to
sword.  It was the strangest duel, their bodies visible one moment,
invisible the next, the swords flashing as though with life of
their own, lunging into emptiness, coming up sharply in defence
against no opponent, and for David always the agony that he did not
know where Denburn was; he might have Sarah in his arms by this;
and there was also the part that the mist itself seemed to take in
the affair, eddying around him, sweeping by with a swing of the
wind's arm, beating against him, as though with a personal meaning.

He realised very quickly that the Captain was in a rage, and that
the anger was personal because they had trussed him and piled him
in the garden-house.

At first he muttered the dirtiest oaths: his personal vanity had
been meanly affronted: but soon his strength began to fail him.
The tussle with David earlier that night, the pressure up the Pass,
the force of his age and his evil living all swiftly told on him.
He made a lunge into cold fog, staggered with the impetus, and
David's sword was through his arm.  With a gurgle as though he had
tumbled into a tub of water, he dropped.

David turned to find that the mist had slipped off the lower slope
and was hastening, like a live thing, up the hill, torn away like a
theatre curtain and flinging into the moonlight all the higher
ground as far as Sprinkling Tarn.  He could see the edge of that
water a curdled grey against banks of vapour.  The clouds were
everywhere thinning, and the moon shone behind them with a thin
glow, giving the shadows of watery ghosts to every rock and stone.
As the mist pulled away Sarah ran to him: at his feet curled
unconscious was the Captain; quite near to them Denburn, his sword
in his hand, watching them.  Phantasmal all these figures were, in
a world so shadowy and faint that with every moment and shift of
the clouds it was a new world.

So David put his arm about Sarah and thought he would say a word to
her uncle.

'Go home, uncle,' he cried.  ''Tis cold, and you must be abed.
Sarah has said her farewells.  She leaves thee the white cat.  She
is weary of thy company.  Go home, go home.  Thou art old for the
fells at nightfall.'

He saw from where he was that Denburn had no pistols.  He was
flicking his sword back and forth.  The moon was now in full
splendour again, and the clouds had rolled back to veil the Gavel
and crowd the Pike.  The stretch of moor, the edge of the tarn, the
Stye Head Tarn below them were brilliantly lit, and all the hills
were ebony.

Denburn answered:  'You have killed my friend, ravished my house
where you were hospitably entertained, and shall most immediately
repent of it.'

The charge of broken hospitality vexed David, for it was, in a
manner, true.

'I have not killed your friend,' he answered.  'You had best gather
him together and go home with him or he will catch an ague.  As to
your hospitality I ask you now, with proper deference, have I your
leave to wed your niece Sarah Denburn, whom I love and shall
cherish always?  I have money enough, and prospect of more.  I am
thirty-eight, and in admirable health.  Give us your blessing and I
will carry the Captain down myself.'

To this Denburn answered with some foul oaths.  His voice had an
odd note of surprise in it, as though he could not credit his
senses that anyone should treat him with so arrant a disrespect.

'Well then,' said David, 'I will beat thee home for a dirty rascal
and bragging bully.  Run now, or I'll drive thee down.'

He moved forward.  Denburn said nothing, but circled round towards
the hills, then ran forward up towards Sprinkling Tarn.

There was something oddly comical in this long man with his
waggling moonlit shadow running, but there was method in it.  He
found his higher ground with the Tarn behind him to the left.

'I'm afraid of no long-legged country bastard,' he cried.  'Leave
the girl and go to your own place or I'll slit your ears.'  Even
here there was yet this odd note of astonished disappointment that
he should be so inelegantly treated.

David moved up to him; he saw then that Denburn had been skilful in
choosing his place.  The moon, richly full, stared down at him; the
shadows were baffling and at every step upwards he was under a

Their swords touched and it seemed to Sarah that the hills crowded
nearer to watch the better.  For her it was indeed the issue of her
whole life.

Were David even wounded to unconsciousness she knew that she had no
hope of Denburn's mercy after this affront to his pride.  She
crouched, watching, her hands clasped, her eyes hot and burning.
She might possibly have aided him.  Already she understood David
well enough to realise that if she did he would never forgive her.

But Denburn was no very able swordsman.  On higher ground though he
was, David, whose reach was tremendous and eye certain, drove him
step by step towards the Tarn.  Denburn lunged, parried, lunged
again with fury, overbalanced, and David had struck his sword from
his hand.  David himself was no very grand swordsman although he
inherited an instinct of it from his father.  He had wished all his
days to do precisely this, in the manner of all the approved tales
and poems.

With joy at his heart he followed the pattern of the romancer.  His
foot on Denburn's sword, he threw his own on to the turf.

'Now, Mr. Denburn,' he said, 'we'll wrestle for it.'

Very certainly he meant to kill him.  The man was a dirty misshapen
dog who had done nothing but evil and had no right to be in this
beautiful world at all.  Especially had he no right to be in a
world that contained young Sarah.

So he ran forward and they were locked excellently in one another's
arms.  Denburn was wiry and his fingers were quickly about David's
neck.  David too was embarrassed by his height and, whether it were
his anxiety for Sarah, his climbing to higher ground, or some extra
energy that he had put into his swordplay, certainly he could not
find his usual easy strength.

Denburn was strong in two particulars.  His fingers would not be
dislodged from David's throat, his feet would not be dislodged from
the ground.

Sway as they might it seemed that his feet had some magic contact
with the soil.  The fingers tightened and there was a firm thought
in David's brain.  What if after all he were to lose this?  His
breath began to come pantingly.  The fingers dug inwards like live
things with their own live purpose.  It was as though his eyes were
being pushed from their sockets.  The moon rose like a flaming
disc, hurled itself through the sky and swept back to its place
again, while the black shoulders of the hills rocked and bent.  His
knees began to sag and the turf to run up to him like the swaying
deck of a vessel.  He released one arm to catch at those hands,
tore at them, but they neither bent nor shook.  Only pressed
deeper.  Denburn's head came curiously towards him, the eyes small,
detached, the mouth curved and, as always, coldly self-pleased.

'O Christ!'  The voice came from far away, from the very heart of
the red and fiery moon.

'I am a strangled man. . . .'

He reeled, and with that reel lay the fortune of his destiny.
Denburn's hand was shaken.  David's body rose; like a dog he shook
his throat free.  His giant arms crushed the other's in a great
grip.  He lifted him from his feet, raised him in air, turned
staggering with him, and flung him into the Tarn.

The man splashed, sank, did not rise.  Heaving with gusts of
strangled breath David waited.  The ripples died under the moon,
but Denburn did not come again.  The scene was as still as a glass
mirror and the quiet wonderful.

Yet he waited.  Then, when he saw that for a certainty Denburn
would never return any more, he ran to Sarah.


Beauty is aroused by Beauty and change answers to change.  But in
this valley at this time Beauty was spread in vain for natives.
They had not yet learnt to find it in the eyes of the outsider.
Poet Gray nine years later, peering to find Castle Crag and
Glaramara 'indescribably fearful,' was to open a gate that has
grown since then most uncomfortably wide.

As to change; perhaps in no corner of England had the escapades and
accidents of history made less stir than here.  Looking over the
flat green surface sheltered so tenderly by its protecting hills,
you may see the monks of Furness Abbey riding their nags on survey
of their property, or Sir Wilfred Lawson of Isell protecting his
German miners, or Radcliffe of Derwentwater in the Civil War
turmoil dredging peasants from the Borrowdale fields to support the
King and to meet in that conflict their own near neighbours who,
under Lawson of Isell, fought for Parliament, stored munitions on
St. Herbert's Island, burnt the Radcliffe house on Lord's Island,
and, riding up Borrowdale over the Stake Pass to Rydal, pleasantly
sacked Rydal Hall.

And so to present memories, the old men and women of 1760 who could
remember well enough the events of '15 when the Radcliffe house was
still standing on Lord's Island and the last Lord Derwentwater lost
his poor young head, dying by the axe as a last distinction--and so
the Rebel Hunts on the hills after the '45, the terrified fugitives
hiding behind the kitchen door, and Butcher Cumberland waiting in
Carlisle.  And now there was the new road, and more new roads after
it, and soon Gray's post-chaise and, later, the little boy
struggling over his sums at Hawkshead School, and the eyes of the
world turning in wondering patronage towards this small square of
ground. . . .

On this very afternoon of early November 1760, David Herries was
looking out from his fields behind Herries on to a scene that no
events could alter, that would for two hundred years to come wear
the same quiet face.  This November weather is cold and sharp, but
the sun is out lying flat upon the fields; some of the sheep are
away on the fells, on the lower slopes of Thornythwaite and High
Knott and Watendlath, some are cropping the short turf in
Stonethwaite, some hiding from the wind in the crannies and coverts
of the rocks.

The valley has just learnt that on October 25 old George II. fell
down dead in Kensington Palace.  No one has been greatly stirred by
this.  Only some of the women gave a thought to a young Prince,
only twenty-two years of age, a Prince who is really English at
last, who says in his opening speech that 'he glories in the name
of Briton.'

But, for David, this news meant something.  He could not see young
Charles James Fox, a boy of eleven, standing in front of his father
and reciting in a shrill treble and with proud gestures lines from
Samson Agonistes, nor John Wesley, in spite of his fifty-five
years, preaching at five in the morning and finding it a 'healthy
exercise,' nor Joseph Priestley, twenty-seven years of age, nosing
his nonconformist way to his principles of oxygen, nor Samuel
Johnson, an odd fifty or so, pushing his cumbrous path through the
Strand, cracking his fingers as he went--he could not tell what the
larger world might be at, nor indeed why it should be at anything
at all (he was never a philosopher), but he did know that a crisis
was arriving in his own affairs that must be met and met with
courage and wisdom, and that, behind his own personal crisis, the
solitude and isolation both of this valley and of his own history
were passing and could never return again.

What must he do?  What was the right thing not only for himself but
for all?

He had married Sarah Denburn in May 1758.  It was now the fourth of
November 1760.  From then until now, he and his wife had resided at
Herries.  Last evening (and here he leant his arms on the little
rough stone wall, staring out in front of him, not feeling the
cold, so lost was he in his grave anxiety and distress for what had
occurred) there had been a terrible scene.  It had been, of course,
the fault of his father; it had been only the worst of a number
like it that, through this past year, had increasingly occurred.

It came in the first place from this cursed obstinate determination
of his father to remain at Herries.  When on that early May morning
he had brought Sarah down to Herries it had seemed natural enough,
even inevitable that they must stay.  In the first place they had
remained to face any trouble that might arise.  The Captain, who on
that eventful night had found his own way back to Wasdale, had at
once, nursing his wounded arm, ridden off to his own place,
wherever that might be, without word to anyone.  David, remembering
the chessmen scattered on the floor and the futile gestures of
vexation, fancied that he had not regretted Denburn.

No one else, it seemed, had regretted him either.  His body had
been found a week later by some of the smugglers who used the
Borrowdale-Ravenglass secret paths for their expeditions and were
none too anxious for much investigation.  They had left the body at
the Wasdale Inn, and ridden away.  That Sarah Denburn had married
David Herries was proof enough that the Herries family knew
something of the matter, but Denburn, it now appeared, was so
deeply loathed and David himself was so widely popular, that no
more questions were asked.  In any case, a murdered man or so found
in the hills was no matter for much curiosity.

The only local consequence of it was that once again 'old Rogue
Herries' was connected with darkness.  His son had killed the
father, and married the daughter (as Sarah was in the outer world
supposed to be).  They skipped David in their superstitions,
allowing him to do as he pleased, but the Rogue had another deed to
his reckoning--and, as the wives whispered over the kitchen fires,
''twould most surely not be the last.'

But for David, worried just now as perhaps he had never been in his
life before, there was no superstition or rumoured chatter
involved; there were facts, definite and hard.

The main fact was that the stress and odd circumstance of his
father's marriage had been increased and aggravated by the arrival
of his own beloved Sarah in this dark, damp and tumbledown place.
If David had loved her at sight in Wasdale that love was nothing at
all compared with what he felt for her now after a year and half of

She was ideally his desire.  In her freshness, common sense,
cheerfulness, kindness, tenderness she combined for him all the
possible virtues.  She had with these one fault only, and that
would be no fault in any place of her own--it was that she must be
putting anything to rights that she saw wrong.

It was not that she was meddlesome, but she was young--even now,
after all this matrimony, but twenty-two--and where she saw dirt,
incompetence, neglect, she must alter it.  Not then with any
officiousness or judgement of others, but she must alter it.

What she needed, as David only too clearly saw, was a place of her
own.  She had done what she could to Herries.  She had in a way
transformed it.  Swept the corners, cleaned the floors, stopped the
doors from creaking, ridden pillion with David to Penrith and
Kendal to buy a chair, a table, and even, miraculously, a
harpsichord.  She aired the beds with warming-pans, mended her
father-in-law's small-clothes, taught Mrs. Benjamin new dishes (and
Mrs. Benjamin didn't thank her for it) and, through it all, was
cheerful, merry, never out of temper, always busy and, it seemed,
happy.  Only David knew that she was not happy.

Deborah adored her (she pining, poor dear, to be married, and
crying on Sarah's shoulder over it).  Herries himself liked her.
He found her merry and pleasant company.  He didn't care how often
she whisked about the house with a broom, or told Mrs. Benjamin how
to keep the kitchen clean, or scrubbed the old worm-eaten floors.
He liked to hear her play on the harpsichord, and often, with her,
his old humorous ironic nature would return; he would have fits of
his old playfulness again, and race her about the house, and hide
behind doors to jump out on her.  At these times he seemed to have
half his sixty years, and they, the girl of twenty-two and the man
of sixty, had a wonderful comradeship.  Indeed, David was bitterly
reflecting, were it not for Mirabell, they might be now a happy

Mirabell!  Mirabell!  Mirabell!  He repeated the name, that had
always seemed to him a fantastic and stupid one, aloud.  He was
beginning to hate her.

He hated her (he had always definite and solemn reasons for
everything) because she made (wantonly, as it seemed to him) his
father so unhappy, and because she, Mirabell, hated Sarah.

Sarah did not hate Mirabell; on the contrary she liked her, was
sorry for her, would have made a friend of her had it been
possible.  It was true that she did not understand her, but who
could understand this melancholy, dreamy, unnatural woman who,
although she was now thirty-one years of age, was yet a child in so
many things?

His exasperation with her began before he had realised her attitude
to Sarah.  Why could she not give his father more of what he
desired?  Even though she did not love him could she not pretend
it?  Women were good at pretending.  Even though she had once had a
lover must she mourn him for ever?  To watch his father's unceasing
tender care of her, to feel his unresting devotion, and to discover
at the end of it his unhappiness--this was exasperating enough.

But when she began to avoid Sarah, not to speak to her could she
help it, to leave a room when Sarah entered it, his exasperation
grew to something deeper.  It seemed (David was not good at these
states of mind) that Mirabell's dislike had its origin in a
resentment that Sarah took to herself the management of the house.
She fancied, poor silly child, that it had been her affair.  On a
day she burst out before them all; this was the only thing she
could do, the only service she could render, and now this service
had been taken from her.  Why, she was mad in this!  What had she
ever done before Sarah came but carry plates hither and thither,
rub the furniture, make the beds?  She had had no talent for
managing the house at all.  How could she, she who had been a
gipsy, a liver in caves, a companion of rogues, smugglers?

It was marvellous enough that she had the decency, the decorous
manners that she had; how could she hope to be a house-woman in the
fashion of Sarah who was gentle-born?

And there was more than this.  She must always fancy that Sarah was
mocking her, noting her country habits, laughing at words that she
used, and the rest.  Sarah never mocked her; she could not do
anything so unkind.  It was true that Sarah felt her difference
from the rest of them, but she did not show Mirabell that she felt

Still the hostility grew, and with that hostility the girl's
unhappiness, and with that unhappiness his father's strange
outbursts of rage.  They were roused always in the same way, and
directed always against Mirabell.  He seemed to rush from serving
her and loving her directly into a tempest of passion when, before
them all, he would abuse her, order her out of the room, surrender
to a fit of dreadful violence.  Then, after a while, a sort of
horror would come into his eyes, as though he had done an awful
thing, he would sit silent among them, then leave them and go to

When he abused her like this she answered nothing, only her pale
face grew paler, and she would hang her head and go.  She never
disobeyed him, never answered back to him, was indeed submissive to
everyone.  It was perhaps this very submissiveness that exasperated
David, not being himself a submissive man.

Well, it could not continue.  Sarah could endure little more of it.
If his father would not leave Herries then he and Sarah must leave
it.  On the other side there was the promise made to his dead
mother and made to himself that he would never leave his father.

But against this there was now the strongest reason of all: Sarah
was with child.  Such a scene as last night's was impossible for
her in her condition.  The crisis had arrived.  There was a fine
house, half manor, half farm, to be bought in Uldale, behind
Skiddaw.  Just the place for him in which to start his family.  But
to leave his father. . . .  What must he do?  What must he do?

He turned at a sound and saw Sarah coming across the field to him.
He was exceedingly pleased to see her.  She would understand
precisely the point that he had reached.

She came to him, and put her hand on his broad shoulder.  She
didn't speak.  Clasping her with his arm he drew her closer.

'Dearest, it is cold for thee.  We will go in.'

She laid her head on his shoulder.

'I am weary, Davy.  Mirabell has tears in every word that she
speaks, and your father does not speak at all, and there is a pool
of water under the stair.'

He stayed thinking; then, looking down into her face, he said, as
though he had at last reached the conclusion of long doubt:  'Yes,
we must go.'

She waited, then said:  'It has been wrong here for me from the
beginning.  Why?  I have no immoderate vanity, but I had not
intended officiousness.  Davy, AM I so officious?  How can I know?
Deborah says not. . . .  In all those ill years after my mother's
death what I did for my father was necessary.  Anything to protect
him against . . .'  (She stopped.  Inured to any sort of
beastliness though she was, that death on the fell still haunted
her.)  'But I was a child.  I grew to be a woman that night you
took me away.  And being of a sudden a woman I must justify myself--
for myself, you see, and for you whom I loved.  Have I interfered
too greatly in this last year?  But what could I do?  The
discomfort, the disorder, the uncomeliness--'  She caught him
closer to her with her arm about his neck.  'And why should
Mirabell grudge it?  I would not take her place.  I have not, I
could not--but to stay still and watch the dirt grow.  'Tis ill
enough in a morning when your father, black and half naked in his
old robe stained with drink, takes his ale. . . .  I would not have
you like that, not though you reach a hundred, but I have said
nothing, all these months, not a word.  But last night--that rage
and Mirabell lying speechless at his feet!  Oh no, Davy, it's not
to be endured.  'Tis not wholesome nor natural. . . .'

'It shall not be endured, dear one,' he said, kissing her.  'I have
been in the wrong to persist in this.  It is settled.  We will go
to Uldale for a time at least.  I must tell my father.'

But Sarah was an understanding and tenderhearted woman.  She
realised something of the long history that lay, far back, between
those two.

'But you cannot leave him.  We must think out a plan.  To be at
Uldale part, and here part, or for him to come--'  She broke off,
wrinkling her brow.  In her heart at that moment she felt that she
could not endure Herries another instant!  How she loathed it, with
its old musty furniture, its draughts and dripping water and
constant disorder and rats and owls!  The thought of a good, clean
house at Uldale, a house of her own and David's that their children
should be born in!  Away from these strange underground
disturbances that she could not understand any more truly than
David.  That brought her to her next word:

'Davy, your father and Mirabell are in another world from you and
me, from Deborah too.  We see things plainly as they are, and
always will.  A road is a road to us, and a house a house.  But
Mirabell and your father see nothing as it is.  I cannot sit still
like a puss in the corner to wonder which way the wind is blowing.
For me, give me a fireside and you, a square screen to keep off the
draught, a work-basket, and I can do well enough; but for them they
see neither screen nor work-basket.  But always something beyond
the window that they have not, or once had or would have, or will
have if they wait long enough.

'We must be doing something, they must only be thinking.  Your
father is sixty, and has been here these thirty years doing exactly

'Yes,' said David, 'because facts are not sufficient for him.  He
could have done well with them if he would; you may call it an
epidemical distemper, a madness, but he bears his condition with
grand fortitude.  He could not change it.  He must have more than
facts, and find something that will be a key for him to all

''Tis well,' said Sarah dryly, 'that he has money sufficient to
keep him, even though it is your mother's, and a roof over his
head, even though it is full of holes.'  Then her heart reproaching
her, she went on:  'Nay, I care for him greatly and would for
Mirabell too if she would let me.  'Tis their unhappiness that
distresses me.  If I could bring them together I would never say a
word for our going.  But our being here separates them the more.
They are of another world than ours.  They are poets, maybe, and
see everything fantastically.  We--' she laughed, and pressing her
cheek against his, very lightly bit his ear, 'we, Davy, are the
farmers of this world, and are for ever taking our eggs to market.'

'And poor Deb,' he added.  'She cries her eyes out to be with HER
farmer AND to have a child by him.  'Twill be too late an she does
not hasten.'

Sarah looked back at the house, her strong broad body pulsing with
health, her cheek glowing with the cold.  'That he can remain here
and love it so!  What he sees here or feels!  If she would but love
him as he loves her, then his dream would be fulfilled, I suppose,
and he understand the universe . . .  As he loves her!  But no two
love alike.  Do we love alike, Davy?'

'I love thee the more.'

'Nay, no man loves a woman the more.  You love me but you love also
your Liverpool trade, and the fields here, and the sheep, and a
cockfight in Keswick and chatter with the Keswick men. . . .  Heigh-
ho!  We women--a poor circumstance to be a woman and a poor end,
were it not for the children,' she added more softly.  'What's a
man beside a child?'

They turned to go back and saw Herries coming towards them.

When he was near he had the face of a naughty child conscious of
guilt.  He wore a plum-coloured coat with silver buttons, and at
his side a little sword with a chased silver hilt.  He had dressed
up and shaven properly.  Thus, his head high and with that look of
a child caught out in his odd angular face, high-boned, crooked
with its scar, lined, stern and gentle, scornful and friendly, thus
David, knowing that the moment had come at last when he must leave
him, loved him.  Sarah too wanted, as she saw him come so proudly
and yet so submissively, to comfort him, the thing in all the
world, as she knew, that he would most resent.

'Well,' he said angrily to David.  'You will kill her of ague in
this wind.  Bring her in.'

He looked out over the landscape, over the scrubby, stony ground,
thick with bush and tree, here cleared for cultivation, there wild
again.  That was what he loved, that wildness!  He looked on to
Rosthwaite Fell and Glaramara behind it, greeting them.

'Softly,' said David, laughing.  'Sarah has tolerable strength.
She does not faint at sight like the town ladies.'

He turned to them and looked at her with his old ironic smile.  He
bowed to her gravely.  'Madam my daughter-in-law, I am an old
gentleman reaching dotage and beg to be excused for most unhandsome
meddling.'  He took her hand in his and went on most gently.  'My
dear, forgive me.  I forget sometimes my place.  But soon you will
be gone, and free; then you will look back and pardon me because
you have a loving heart.'

'Be gone!' she cried.  'Why, in what condition . . . ?'

He shook his head, smiling, at both of them.

'Why, you know, I'm no such fool.  I lost my temper painfully last
night, my dears, and now you have been saying:  "Poor old man, it
is too terrible," and David has said "You cannot endure it, my
love," and Sarah has said "Nay, my dear, you must stay with your
father," but meanwhile there is a fine property at Uldale, and
there is a child coming who must have a clean place to be born in,
and--there are other things.'  His face was suddenly stern.  He
looked out to Rosthwaite Fell as though to find comfort there.
'Davy has spoken of his promise to stay by his father, and Sarah
has told him that he must not break it, and both of them are
thinking how a way can be found.'  He put a hand on David's
shoulder.  'Is it not thus?' he asked.

It had been so exactly thus that they could neither of them answer
him.  He nodded.

'Yes, and so the property must be bought at Uldale, and I will trot
over on my nag for a glass of ale and then--most contentedly trot
back again.'

It was done.  There was nothing to be said.  In the hearts of all
three of them they knew that it was the inevitable necessity.  No
one had spoken of Mirabell, but she was there, the final cause.

So David rode over to Uldale and in a short while was the owner of
the manor farm and the land about it.

This was a modern house that had been standing only some ten years
or so, charming in spirit and colour, built for comfort rather than
display.  Above it ran the moor free and unfettered to the skyline,
and from that moor you could see behind you the Solway Firth and
the Scottish hills, before you across the valley to Skiddaw and
Saddleback, and then, curving to the right, the whole range from
Helvellyn through the Pike and the Gavel to Robinson and Grasmoor.

Under this glory the house nestled, catching the sun, sheltered
from wind and rain.

As David looked upon it, its walls faced with red brick that was
already mellowing, the sash windows of happy proportions, the roof
with its strong cornice, the dormer windows, the trim garden, the
farm buildings, the little orchard, a great pride and happiness
filled his heart.

He seemed to know, as though someone had whispered to him, that
this was to be the home of his children and his children's
children, and that he was beginning here a history that must have
eventful consequences far beyond his own small consciousness.

All the world here seemed open and free.  Near to Cockermouth,
Keswick, Carlisle and Penrith, he was in the main world and was a
man of that world.  As he rode back to Herries he felt as though he
were plunging into the dark bowels of the earth.

Weeks of restraint and discomfort followed.  Sarah felt a desperate
guilt.  Mirabell seemed to show by attempting a shy, awkward
friendliness that she was herself to blame, and poor Deborah, when
she knew that she was to be forsaken, could not disguise her

Nevertheless, in her heart, when she heard that David was going,
she felt certain of her own coming freedom . . .

On the last night that they were together David and Herries sat up
late by the fire.  They did not speak much.  David tried at last to
say something.

'Father, it isn't a real parting.  There'll be always a room for
you and for Mirabell too.  'Tis no distance.  It will be a pleasant
change for you.  And I will come here whenever you need me.'

Herries grinned.  'We are fastened together for life, Davy, but I
don't care for having you by.  That's the truth.  I'm set on
another plan from yours.  Thou art a fine healthy lump of flesh and
wilt breed children like a rabbit, fine children, I don't doubt,
with no maggots in their heads.  I've always had a maggot and it's
made me lonely.  By desire, mind you.  I prefer it.  I love you
against my will, Davy, for you are everything that I would not be.
To make money, build a house, have land, breed children, honour the
King, pay your taxes, leave your mark on the country though it may
be but the impression of your bottom on your counting-house chair,
I can see 'tis an ambition as good as another.  Myself I've stuck
in the mud here for thirty years, been given a contemptible name,
done nothing whatever save see the house drop over my head, married
a wench from the road who doesn't love me, although she'd wish to,
poor lass, out of a churchy kind of gratitude. . . .  'Tis as
useless a life as a man can find and as pitiful, but I've had
moments, Davy, that you will never know, and 'tis by the height of
your divining moments that life must be judged.  I love this woman
that I have got here as you and Sarah will never love, in the
entrails, Davy, down among the guts, my boy.  And I'll have her
yet, struggle as she may, and when I have her I'll know what the
stars are for and why the moon's a silver treachery and what God
has in His anointed beard. . . .  And they'll not drag me from this
house till the rats are gnawing at my toes and there's lice in my
ears.  For this is my home, this spot, this ground, this miry
waste, and here I'll die--and the third day I'll rise again.  I
love thee, Davy, but thou art the damnedest fool of a good fellow
that was ever made between sheets.  So good-night to thee, my
little son.'

After which he yawned loudly, stretched his arms, scratched his
thigh and stamped up to his bed.

After this it was Deborah's tragedy.  Poor Deb, a woman now of
thirty-seven, an age at this time when, still unmarried, you were
an old maid and as good as buried.  She looked her age too, for she
was broad and massive-bosomed, with sturdy arms and haunches, and a
wide good-natured double-chinned face.  She looked well in a mob
cap, aproned and in pattens.

Nevertheless her little clergyman loved with a devoted unfaltering
patience.  He did not mind how broad she grew--he was no slim
beauty himself.  He would wait for ever if need be.  He told her so
again and again in his letters which were filled with love and
little snatches of news and pieces about his health and his food.

'Little Love--' (he always addressed her thus, nor saw any humour
in it) 'I had a fine visit yesterday to Sir Whickham Partridge's
seat at Highloft.  The gardens are very fine, of uneven ground
diversified with valleys and hills.  There is also a monstrous
fine dairy with churns of butter, prints and skimming dishes all
of the handsomest kind.  We had fine weather and a most pleasant
journey. . . .  I have had three Baptisms in the last four days, but
one infant hath died of the croup since and is now safe in the arms
of Christ Jesus, which is all the better for the family in that
there are nine of them already and the man, a good honest fellow,
making little at his business--he is a cordwainer. . . .  Little
Love, you say nothing in your last letter about our marriage, for
which I pray night and morning.  I wait on your circumstances, which
are, I know, uneasy of settlement.  But my sister is ready to
receive you here whenever the proper time comes.'

Or again:

'I rejoice at the good account you give of your health, Little
Love.  You have so cheerful and happy a disposition that you are
able to endure the discomforts of your watery valley. . . .  The
bed in the guest-chamber has gone weak in one leg, and my sister
Mary slept there the last two nights and found it unevenly balanced
in the morning. . . .  Thou knowest how dearly I love thee, Little
Love, and wait only thy signal for all to be in readiness
here. . . .'

Yes, he could wait for ever, but she could not.  Four years gone
and nothing done.  Four years gone and not a word said to her
father.  Whether he guessed or no she could not say.  He was a
strangely perceptive man and, when he wished, a strangely silent

After Mirabell came, for a while Deborah conquered her fear of him.
He was softer, gentler, and seemed himself to care for her more
openly.  Then she might have spoken to him about her little
clergyman.  She had no reason to suppose that he would be angry.
Why should he be?  He had never shown any dislike of her marrying,
or that he wanted to keep her with him for ever.  But he would
laugh.  He would look at her in that terrible ironical way and,
with a word or two, drive her into the very centre of the shyest

But what of that?  He cared for her in his own fashion.  He would
not be unkind to her, he would even give her his own sort of ironic
blessing.  But here the accumulated effect of her years with him,
of her old frights and old loneliness, her sense of his
strangeness, above all, her terror of some sudden outburst of rage,
held her back.  Again and again she would tell him; again and again
she postponed the occasion.

Then after David brought home Sarah it seemed certain that she
would go.  There was no need for her now that Sarah was here, but
then, as the new situation developed so uncomfortably for them all,
as Mirabell retired unhappily more and more into herself, Deborah
stayed because she seemed to be the only link between Mirabell and
Sarah.  They liked her, both of them, although Mirabell said very
little.  But she, out of her own reserves and deep shynesses and
perception of tiny things, understood Mirabell's wild, unhappy
heart better than any of them, and Mirabell knew it.

But, when Sarah and David departed, her mind was made up.  She
would wait no longer.  Stay in this house alone with the two of
them she could not.  They did not need her.  She could do nothing
for them; it was between Mirabell and Sarah that she had been able
to help, never between Mirabell and her father.

Another thing also drove her to her decision--the knowledge that
Sarah was going to have a child.  That was the one ever-present,
ever-dominant idea, the children that she would have.

She thought of it, dreamt of it, whispered the names that she would
give them (to herself).  But she was thirty-seven; soon it might be
too late.

So a week after David and Sarah had gone she wrote a little letter:

MY DEAR LOVE--I can wait no longer nor suffer you to wait neither.
On Tuesday next I shall be in Keswick at four of the clock standing
at the corner by the Assembly Rooms.--Shortly to be your True and
Loving Wife,

                                         DEBORAH HERRIES.

I have not told my Father and shall bring only a small Basket
fearing to upset him with my Newes.

When the letter was despatched by the carrier, her happiness
flooded over her in a radiant shower.  Why had she not done this
before?  She could not tell.  A spell seemed to be broken.  Surely
then it would be easy to tell her father.  'Father, dear, next
Tuesday I am going to Cockermouth to be wed with a clergyman.'  But
she could not say it even now.  She knew how he would take it.

'Wed with a clergyman?  Bedded with a parson?' and then his eyes,
loving her but despising her too, then his shrug of the shoulder as
he went out to his digging, or his tramp over the fells, or his
riding to some distant valley.  She also said nothing to Mirabell
lest she should afterwards be charged with deceitfully keeping a
secret.  But on the last evening she went over to her and kissed

'Dear Mirabell, remember I am for ever your friend.'

The girl (for she seemed still a child with her slender body,
little breasts, small rounded head) looked at her from under her
pile of fiery hair and said, smiling:

'Why, Deborah, are you going on a journey?'

'Maybe,' whispered Deborah, nodding her head.  Mirabell suddenly
clung to her, resting her little head between Deborah's big

'Come back again one day.  And if you travel think of me who would
like to travel too.'

'Aye,' Deborah said, 'I will come back.'  They kissed then, very

When she kissed her father good-night that evening he was
abstracted, reading a play of Shakespeare's, Antony and Cleopatra,
and calling it nonsense one minute and miraculous marvel the next,
so he nodded good-night, scarcely seeing her.

Next morning she rode into Keswick on Appleseed.  Herries was out
in the fields, cutting scrub away, and did not see her go.  She
left on the dining-table a letter:

DEAR FATHER--I have gone to Cockermouth to be wed to a clergyman,
Mr. Gordon Sunwood.  I have known him these four years but did not
tell you, not to weary you with it.  He is a Good Man, I am sure.
I shall write to you at Cockermouth and then we will come to visit
you if you wish us.--Your loving Daughter,


Herries did not return until evening.  He saw the note on the table
and read it.  He read it again and then again.  He smiled, then he
laughed, then he threw back his head, roaring.

Then he called loudly for Mirabell.  When she came he shouted:

'We are alone.  We are alone.  We are alone!'

He strode to her, caught her up, held her high, then kissed her
over and over.  His old wild joy of his wedding day seemed to have

'Poor Deb!  She is wed to a parson, to a stummicky, bottomy, garlic-
smelling parson.  I love my daughters, I cherish them, I give them
all I have, but now they are gone and I have done my duty, my duty,
my full and fitting duty.  They are gone and we are alone, my
Sweet, my beloved, my darling wife. . . .  You and I, and there is
no one to care for you but I, and no one to watch when we kiss nor
when we quarrel. . . .  I love my Deborah, but I like her better
away sitting on the fat knees of her rummidgy parson, breeding
young parsons to fill the pulpits with their precious tidings. . . .'
He set her down on a chair, knelt before her, his head bent into
her lap.  'Mirabell, there is no one in the whole green world but

When at last he was quiet she said anxiously:  'Is Deborah gone

'Aye, Deborah is gone to wed with a parson.'

'Ah, that was what she meant when she kissed me last evening.'  She
shivered a little, but he could not see her; then, straightening
her thin body against the chair, she said:

'And now if there is no one else you must be served by me.'

'Nay, nay,' he said.  'I shall be server, and you shall be the
queen, for you are my love whom I adore.  And shall ever adore
through this death and the next after it and after that, to
eternity again.'

But she, as though she had not heard him, and were following her
own thought said:  'The Trumpeters coming through the valley. . . .
I know that they must come.'

That evening he would not allow her to do anything, made her sit in
the high chair at the end of the table, served her with food and
drink, and at last when he had his own, sat on a stool at her feet.
'Deborah is a good woman,' he said once, 'and will make her parson
happy,' and that was the only allusion he gave her.

Mirabell seemed to feel his happiness and respond to it.  They sat
together by the fire and she told him of her adventures with her
uncles, and times that she could remember in London, and she let
him hold her hand and stroke it, and when he kissed her she
returned his kiss.

He rose and went upstairs and came again with a small cedar-wood
box.  He poured the contents on to her lap.  They lay glittering
there.  There was a gold Moco stone chain set in gold, a necklace
with pearls and vermilions, a gold watch, a rumphlet of diamonds
set in silver and gilt, a large rose diamond set in silver and
fastened to a bodkin, a gold ring with seven diamonds in the form
of a rose, and a diamond cross.

She cried out at sight of them, a child now in her pleasure.  He
told her that they had been his mother's and that he had kept them
for a fitting time to give them to her.  He did not tell her that
he had been storing them for the day when at last she would,
freely, of herself, tell him that she loved him.  She had not yet
told him, but now that they were alone again, with everyone out of
the way, soon, soon she would tell him.

He knelt before her and hung them all on her until she glittered
and glistened in the firelight, all the stones winking and shining
under the flame of her hair.  Her fingers were loaded with them,
and her neck and bosom, and she wore the diamond cross in her hair.

Then, very friendly together, they sat at the table while he gave
her her writing lesson.  At this, and at reading, she was very slow
and stupid.  It seemed that she COULD not learn.  But to-night she
was docile, and did her utmost to please him, sitting there in her
old gown and covered with jewels.

She went to sleep quietly that night in his arms.  He slept also.
Later he woke to find that in her sleep she had got out from him,
and was standing at the window in her nightdress, beating at the
panes and crying:

'Harry, Harry!  Take me out!  I can't get out!  Harry, Harry, I
can't get out!'

He could hear her sobbing.  He lay very still.  Later she came into
bed again, and he stayed very quietly, longing to touch her and to
comfort her, but doing nothing.  So he lay for many hours beside
her in great trouble.


Herries and Mirabell were alone in the house.

Except for Benjamin and his slatternly greedy wife there was no
human being near them.  Herries watched Mirabell as a cat watches a
bird, and he watched out of love and terror lest at any moment she
should escape.

Now most truly he was paying for all the infidelities of his long
life.  He knew in the depths of the bitterest truth what the
anguish of unrequited love was.  He was sixty-two years of age and
had never yet known such burning desire of the flesh, burning
because it was eternally unsatisfied.  Night after night he might
lie with Mirabell and do with her what he would, and night after
night, when she slept, he would get up from bed and walk the house
like a frantic ghost because she did not love him.

But this agony bit far deeper than any unsatisfied desire of the
flesh could do.  He was ready to surrender any physical connection
for ever and ever if only she would love him a very little, and she
was ready to give him everything she had out of kindness.

And so they came terribly to fear one another.  She was afraid of
his rages, his silences, his miseries and his absences.  She was so
fond of him that when he was away she longed for him to return so
that she might be kind to him, and then, when he was there, she
longed for him to be away again because she found that she could
not give him the love that he desired.

Although she was now thirty-three years of age she was still very
much of a child, and she was hoping that suddenly one morning she
would find that she loved him.  She was so fond of him that she
could not understand why that fondness was not love.  But it was
not.  Her heart never beat the harder when he was coming.  Her face
never flushed when he looked at her with passionate desire; at such
times there was terror in her heart and she would wonder whether
this night perhaps she would find that she could not surrender her
body to him any more, and must tell him so.

That would be fearful, that night when it came.  They both trembled
at the idea of it.  She thought that perhaps after she had
shuddered apart from him, he would get up and go out and kill
himself.  She knew that he was aware of her reluctance, and that he
loathed himself for pressing her.  Sometimes when he had not, but
had only kissed her and turned over to sleep, she almost loved him,
put her hand up to caress his cheek and then put it down again lest
he should take it as a sign that at last she really loved him.

But, although she guessed so much, she did not guess the half of
his real torture; how before every step that he took towards her he
hesitated lest she should make some movement, exclamation, sign
that showed how she shrank from him.

She was troubled, too, by an increasing stifling sense of
imprisonment.  It was not only that now he watched her every step.
It was also the personality of the house that she had always hated
from the first.  It watched her even as its master did.  There were
things in it that were spies, she was sure: the portrait of the old
Herries in the dining-hall, the two suits of armour, the drunken
tumbling chimneys.  She could hear the suits of armour clanking
after her at night, and she would stay in her room, the door ajar,
listening to them as they whispered about her.

She hated it that always there was the same view from the windows
and the yard.  All her life long she had wandered, and now,
wherever she looked, she must always see those two horrid hills,
Rosthwaite Fell and Chapel Fell.  The very hills that were Herries'
passion were her loathing, and she hated most of all the way that
he would talk about them as though they were persons and his very
dear friends.  They WERE persons and her very dear enemies.

But worst of all for her--and this thing, as the months passed,
became an obsession--was her consciousness of all the little stone
walls running up the sides of the hills.  All her life long these
stone walls had been the dearest things in the world to her.  When
she was an infant and could not walk, they would put her, wrapped
in a shawl, under one of these walls out of the wind.  As she
stayed there, she could see the wall running, like a live thing,
first across the turf straight like a taut string, then suddenly
turning and leaping upwards until it was lost at the high bend of
the hill.  Over all this landscape she saw these little walls
running, gay, free, vigorous, and when she walked--the wind blowing
her hair--pressing up the side of the hill, the wall went with her,
keeping her company.  Now she was tied to this house.  From the
back of the yard she fancied that she could see a thin black line
on Rosthwaite Fell; this was the wall and it would run to the
ridge, then straight with only the sky over it, then it would dip
again, catching its breath in the little valley before it mounted
up again.  Tears would fill her eyes as she gazed, and an
impatience that made her heart beat angrily.

'He is kind to me, he loves me, but what would it hurt him if I
were gone a week?  I would return.'  But would she?  She could not
honestly answer that.  She was honest above all else.  With all her
faults of childishness, temper, rebellion, ignorant boasting, she
was immaculately honest.  It was because she knew that if she once
went away she might never return that she never begged him that he
might let her go.

Another thing her honesty showed her to her great distress and
pain.  She was beginning to forget Harry.  This was the cruellest
thing of all, because she had nothing with which to replace him.
In all her bitterest distress at the agony of having lost him,
there was a kind of bitter happiness because her love for him,
although he was gone, was so wonderful.  A thousand times a day she
would recall everything that he had said and done, how he had
looked here, how he had smiled there, what his eyes had done when
he told her that he loved her.  They had not had so very long a
time together, so that the collection of her memories must be
conned over and over.  But the years had passed, and the conning
had become almost mechanical; her honesty drove her to discover
this and then drove her further, to realise that days and even
weeks went by and she did not think of him at all.

She was indeed a strange mixture of childishness and maturity, of
anger and submission, of knowledge and ignorance.  Her best parts
were her kindliness and honesty and a kind of instinctive poetry
she had, and her industry.  She always wanted to be at work on
something, but unfortunately she had no gift for housework or
keeping a place clean, or remembering what she must do.  Untidiness
seemed to follow her; things were broken, forgotten, disordered
wherever she was.  Nor would she learn.  Her stubbornness was
terrible.  In these two years, Herries had taught her neither to
read nor write.  She would begin a lesson with him in all docility.
He, for so restless and scornful a man, was marvellously patient
with her.  The lessons would start, both of them in great
amiability, then her stupidity would irritate him, she see that he
was checking it, and so she would burst into tears and run to her

What she liked best was when they sat in front of the fire, she on
a cushion at his feet resting her head on his knees and he telling
her stories.  Then there was a great peace between them; he would
forget his passion for her and be only her friend, and she would
feel so kindly to him that she thought that in another moment she
would love him.

They mingled strangely little with the outside world.  Deborah
lived, serenely happy, with her little clergyman in Cockermouth.
She had only one grief--that as yet she had no children and soon
she would be too old.  But a Wise Woman had told her that she would
have two sons, and Wise Women knew.  David rode over often from
Uldale although he was so busy a man.  He was always urging his
father and Mirabell to go and visit them, and Deborah too sent
pressing invitations.  But Mirabell would not go any more.  She was
frightened of Sarah, so efficient, businesslike, normal and happy.
She thought that Sarah despised her, and so in her heart perhaps
Sarah did.

But no.  Sarah was of too generous a nature to despise her.  She
could not understand her.  Mirabell with her odd looks, baby face,
bright-coloured untidy clothes, sudden silence, odd sayings, was
incredible to her.  She did not understand her at all, and
remembered that she was only a gipsy.  Sarah was not a snob, but it
was a time when the middle classes thought of the peasants as of
another world from themselves, like dogs or cats or horses.  Then
Mirabell could not bear to see the neatness and grandeur of Uldale.
It was not really very grand, but it seemed so to Mirabell with its
solid walls and fine fires and trim garden, clocks and pictures and
comfortable beds.  There the rain did not drip through the roof,
nor were the meals thrown anyhow on to the table, nor did the beds
stay unmade all the day long.  After a day's visit to Uldale she
came back to Herries resolved to set everything into marvellous
order.  The next morning she was up in the dark busy and eager.
But nothing would go her way; after she had swept, the dust was
still there, the mud seemed to walk of itself into the house and
lie about the stairs, the mice would come on to the table and
nibble at the bread.  And Herries did not care; he did not mind in
what disorder he was living.  He would curse Benjamin and his wife
in a splendid rage, and then forget it all again.  He was always
dreaming, of the weather, the country, the clouds, the running
water, and of herself.

So, this winter of 1762, things went from bad to worse.

A week before Christmas there was a great frost.  A frost that
holds is, in this district, rare; but round Christmas there is much
cold spicy weather, the air nutmeg-scented, the waters running down
all the hills with a tinkle of ice in their chuckles, the trees are
red, amber to rose, and the sky grey, dove-winged, often very clear
and shot with stars.

Mirabell was having a reading lesson in a house as still as the
dead.  A great fire leapt in the stone fireplace and the light of
it clambered about her jewels and her orange-coloured dress.  She
had a silver shawl over her hair to see what it looked like, and
when she should have attended to her lesson she was moving her head
against the old round cracked mirror that hung by the window to see
how it shone.  It was not vanity that moved her, but childishness
and restlessness; this last because out in that grey frost-held
world she knew that the little walls were running up the iron-clad
hills to the grey snow-gathering sky.  On such a late winter's
afternoon she would be running ahead of her uncles over the turf,
through the keen icy wind, to reach the edge of the Tarn.  Here the
water would lie black under a thin crinkle of silver ice, and the
first cold stars would come out, and perhaps the slip of a frozen
moon. . . .

Herries, his patience constrained with difficulty, was reading out
of Swift's Polite Conversation.  He chose this work because the
English was good and the words were mostly of one syllable.  Also
it entertained Mirabell because of the pictures of, as it seemed to
her, ridiculous polite society.

It was Herries' plan to read a piece very slowly and with great
patience.  Then Mirabell was to read it after him.  This did not
please her.  She liked him to read straight on.  What did it matter
whether she herself should learn to read or no?  He was always
there to read to her.

Herries read:

'MISS.  Lord, Mr. Neverout, you are as pert as a Pear-monger this

NEVEROUT.  Indeed, Miss, you are very handsome.

MISS.  Poh, I know that already; tell me news.

(Somebody knocks at the Door.  Footman comes in.)

FOOTMAN (to Col.).  An please your Honour, there's a Man below
wants to speak to you.

COL.  Ladies, your pardon for a Minute.

(Col. goes out.)

LADY SMART.  Miss, I sent yesterday to know how you did, but you
were gone abroad early.

MISS.  Why, indeed, Madam, I was hunched up in a Hackney Coach with
Three County Acquaintance, who called upon me to take the Air as
far as Highgate.

LADY SMART.  And had you a pleasant Airing?

MISS.  No, Madam; it rained all the Time; I was jolted to Death,
and the Road was so bad, that I screamed every Moment and called to
the Coachman, "Pray, Friend, don't spill us."'

Herries paused.  Mirabell was seated beside him, her head screwed
round to the mirror.

'You don't attend,' he said sharply.

She looked back quickly to the book like a frightened child.  'I do
indeed,' she said hurriedly.  'What a childish Miss, to scream
every moment because the coach jolted her!  I could make her scream
if I had her here.'

'Come,' said Herries sternly.  'Now you shall read.'  He did not
wish to be stern.  His hand was very near her flaming hair that was
now ungathered and fell about her shoulders under the silver shawl
and over the orange satin gown.  It needed all his strength not to
stroke it.  His hand would move up and then down again while his
heart thumped beneath his waistcoat.  He must not touch her.  All
hope in an ordered lesson would be over if he did.  She would sit
on the floor in front of the fire and demand a story--a woman,
thirty-three years of age.  At least she did not look a day more
than twenty.  So, to check himself, he was stern.

'Cease glancing at that mirror,' he said, 'and read this for me.'

She began, very slowly:

'MISS.  Lord!  Mr. Nev-er-out, you are as p e r t as a Pea--'

She stopped.

'What is this long word?'

'P e a r,' he answered.


'M o n g e r.'

She looked at it and shook her head.  'I have never seen such a
word before.'

'No, doubtless.  But how will you ever learn to read if you see
only the same words every time?'

'Why should I learn to read?' she asked.  'Why do you force me?
There are many ladies can't read.  Besides I am not a lady, and
will never be one.  There are other things I can do, but not this.'

'You are thirty-three years of age.'

She jumped up.

'And older, older, older!  I'm just as young as I was when I was
five.  I knew everything then and nothing.  It is the same now.'

It was true.  As he looked at her he saw her both as woman and
child and loved her as both.

'Yes, that is true,' he said sadly.  'I am neither old enough nor
young enough for you.'

'Oh, don't let us talk of ourselves!'  She turned away to the
mirror again.  Then she softened, coming back with a smile.  'Oh,
Francis, take me as I am!  I cannot change with your wishing it nor
you with mine.  We must make what we can with what we've got.'
Then she threw the silver shawl on to the table.

'I will go and do some sweeping,' she said.  She was interrupted by
a noise at the door.  It was Benjamin, who said that there were
some children there to sing carols.  Then there was a strange light
in Herries' eye, a curious smile at his scarred mouth.  It was many
years that the children had not come near his house to sing carols.
Proudly he had always said that he did not care whether they came
or no.  But he did care.  It seemed like a good omen that they
should come to his old house at last.

So he ordered Benjamin to have them up, and soon in they trooped,
some seven or eight boys and a short stout man in a red coat and
with a double chin and a big belly.

They stood all together over by the fire, close, as though they
were a little frightened.  They had doubtless heard things about
the house and its owner.  But the sight of Mirabell reassured them.
She was enchanted with them.  She loved children, being a child
herself, and now she clapped her hands, and went and stroked their
cheeks and asked them their names, speaking in broad Cumberland
just as they did.

Then she stood near Herries: his arm was about her, and so they
listened to the music.  All their years afterwards they remembered
this scene and especially one carol.  The stout fellow had a little
viola on which he played very sweetly.  The boys, at a sign from
him, all lifted up their heads together like young birds and began
to sing.

They sang 'The Three Kings' and 'The Cherry Tree' and others, but
it was this one, 'The Angel Gabriel,' that Mirabell never
afterwards forgot.  The simple sweet tune greatly touched her, and
later she learnt the words and remembered them, she who could never
get anything that Francis taught her by heart.  It was, she would
afterwards think, the last scene of her childhood--yes, her
childhood, although now she was thirty-three, and the background
had always exquisite beauty in her memory--the grey frosted world
outside hard like iron, and inside the room everything melting in
the coloured firelight, the flickering ceiling, the crimson logs,
the faces of the children, and Herries himself, grave and kind and
generous-hearted, as she liked best to see him.

So the children sang 'The Angel Gabriel':

     The Angel Gabriel from God
     Was sent to Galilee,
     Unto a Virgin fair and free
     Whose name was called Mary:
     And when the Angel thither came,
     He fell down on his knee,
     And looking up in the Virgin's face,
     He said 'All Hail, Mary!'

     Then sing we all, both great and small
      Nol, Nol, Nol;
     We may rejoice to hear the voice
      Of the Angel Gabriel.

     Mary anon looked him upon,
     And said, 'Sir, what are ye?
     I marvel much at these tidings
     Which thou hast brought to me.
     Married I am unto an old man
     As the lot fell unto me;
     Therefore, I pray, depart away,
     For I stand in doubt of thee.'

     Then sing we all, both great and small,
      Nol, Nol, Nol;
     We may rejoice to hear the voice
      Of the Angel Gabriel.

     'Mary,' he said, 'be not afraid,
     But do believe in me.
     The power of the Holy Ghost
     Shall overshadow thee;
     Thou shalt conceive without any grief,
     As the Lord told unto me;
     God's own dear Son from Heaven shall come,
     And shall be born of thee.'

     Then sing we all, both great and small,
      Nol, Nol, Nol;
     We may rejoice to hear the voice
      Of the Angel Gabriel.

     This came to pass as God's will was,
     Even as the Angel told.
     About midnight an Angel bright
     Came to the Shepherds' fold,
     And told them then both where and when
     Born was the child, our Lord,
     And all along this was their song,
     'All glory be given to God.'

     Then sing we all, both great and small,
      Nol, Nol, Nol;
     We may rejoice to hear the voice
      Of the Angel Gabriel.

     Good people all, both great and small,
     The which do hear my voice,
     With one accord let's praise the Lord,
     And in our hearts rejoice;
     Like sister and brother, let's love one another,
     Whilst we our lives do spend,
     Whilst we have space let's pray for grace,
     And so let my Carol end.

     Then sing we all, both great and small,
      Nol, Nol, Nol;
     We may rejoice to hear the voice
      Of the Angel Gabriel.

When they had ended Herries could not do enough for them.  That
strange mood of excited gaiety that sometimes swept over him was on
him now.  He sent old Benjamin to the kitchen for cakes and
sweetmeats; he would stuff the children till they were sick.  He
took the smallest, who would not be older than six or seven, on to
his knee, and a great softness of feeling pervaded him when he saw
that the child did not shrink but played with his heavy gold chain
and told him his name, Richard Watson.  Was the legend finished
then?  Was he no longer Ogre or Rogue?  Oh, this was surely a good
omen for him, and now everything would be right with Mirabell too.
Before they were in bed she would tell him that at last she loved
him. . . .

The boys had lost all their shyness, and were moving about the
room, filling their mouths with cake, and examining everything.  He
gave the fat man richly from his purse, and clapped him on the
shoulder.  He carried little Richard on his shoulder down the
stairs when they were all going.  He saw them from the door with
their lighted lanterns go across the frosty court.  He saluted the
myriads of stars so bright above the black line of the hills with a
wave of his arm before he came back into the house.

He stood in the doorway of the room smiling at her, and she smiled
back at him.  She was sitting at the fire humming to herself the
'Angel Gabriel' tune.

     'Like sister and brother, let's love one another,
      Whilst we our lives do spend.'

He went to her at once, made her sit on a cushion at his feet, and,
following on the triumphant current of his mood, drawing her head
back against his knee, burst into a wild flow of talk:

'It is the first time all these winters that the children have been
here.  They've gone to every house but this one.  Why should I care
whether they have come or no?  But I have cared, and now that you
are here I have wanted everyone to be friendly.  Yes, for the first
time in my life I've wanted friendship. . . .'

He drew her closer to him, and she felt his hands hot and trembling
against her cheek.

'Don't be angry with me.  Don't turn me away.  You must shrink
because my hands are old, old and dry, but there's no age in my
heart.  I WAS old when I came here first, proud and young.  I
thought I could do just what I liked then--with anyone or anything.
But I've learnt wisdom.  Time has taught me.  I haven't done what I
liked with anything.  Even the soil--I haven't even a fine potato
out of it.  And the trees have all gone crookedly against me, and
the wind has blown the hills sideways.  But I toiled on, because I
knew that there was an answer somewhere to my question if I refused
to be beat.

'What's my question been?  I don't know myself.  That's the odd
thing.  I don't know either the question or the answer.  I puzzle
my head sometimes till it breaks.  Yes, breaks.  Splits like a fig.
Then I think the answer will be in there.  It must be.  That's the
thing that spins round and round and asks all the questions.  But
if it has the questions then it must have the answers too.  These
questions.  Why is the sky grey to-day, my dear, and being grey,
with a touch of rose to it, why does my heart thump?  Why cannot I
leave this place, this tumbled heap of stones, but must hang on
always staring at a humped hill and a pocketful of rank grass?
Yes, split your brain and dig in the mess with your fingers for the

'Nay, it's not in the brain but in the wind behind the brain and
the soft sly voice behind the wind.  Ah, that voice!  I tell you,
Mirabell, there are times when I've almost heard it.  I've stood
on Honister, where I found you, my darling; I've stood there
listening, and He's been almost in my hand.  A sly dog, conceited
of His power, with all the beauty that He's got and all the
strength to frighten us.  And at the last, maybe lazily, out of
idleness, He drops a present into our lap, a golden rose, a string
of glass beads.

'I say damnation to His power.  I care not a rabbit for it, but
'tis the mystery plagues me, Mirabell, the oddity, grotesque like a
map of China, bits here and there, offal and star-dust together.
That's why I stare and stare, looking at a hill or a tree or a lump
of this rotten soil, for the secret may be in any place, and by a
hair's-breadth of laziness we may have missed it.

'The Herries have always been like that, one mystery-monger and the
rest good sober citizens.  David's the sober sort.  There have to
be both in the world.  But David finds nothing odd.  It is all as
it should be.  But for me, until I found you, there's been no

'Now, if you loved me, there'd be an answer to every question.  I
am your lover, Mirabell.  I'm not an old man past sixty, but young
and strong, always your lover.  Can you love me a little, Mirabell?
I have been patient all this time with you here.  Is it coming to
you a little?  I am so hungry for it.  I think I must not be
without it much longer.  Mirabell, Mirabell.  Love me a little, a
very little. . . .  I want you so.'

His voice ended in an almost breathless whisper and she held
herself taut so that he should not feel the shiver that was running
through her body.

At first while he talked she had been hypnotised by his voice, but
had not listened to his words.  It was comfortable here by the
fire; she liked him when he was kind and friendly.  She always
loved his voice when he was telling her a story or talking about
his ideas.  She found his ideas incomprehensible.  She did not
understand one of them.  The things that he said were completely
unreal to her.  This mystery that there was in life, she could not
see any of it.  Her own life was clear enough.  She had been beaten
and ill-treated and must fight for herself, then she had loved a
man, as many a poor girl had done before her, and he had been
murdered most foully, and after that this man had been kind to her
and given her a home.  She could not love him; that was not her
fault; she was generous, she would give him anything, but that was
something that you could not give unless it happened so.  There was
no mystery here.

He was always talking of staring at stones and trees.  When he came
to this her mind slipped away and she would think of other things--
of the little walls running away under the frosty air, of old Mrs.
Benjamin who was a slattern, of Sarah's fine household gifts (odd
how often she thought of Sarah!), and to-night of those children
singing their carols.  How fresh their voices had been, how fresh
and how sweet!

But when he came to his love-making, fear snatched her back to
attention.  Oh, how she hated it, that now so familiar change from
friendliness to love!  She was like an animal caught, all her
senses alert for any chance of escape.

Everything was changed.  The tone of his voice, the touch of his
hand; she could feel all his body trembling behind his fingers.
Not a simple lustful desire to possess her--that she could have
understood and to that she would have submitted--but this thing,
far more deadly, this praying, pleading passion that she should
love him.  How could she when she did not?  Oh, how could she? . . .
There was danger here, dreadful danger both to herself and to
him.  Yes, she held herself taut lest that inner revulsion should
escape her and rouse his fury.  It was, she understood, fury and
rage and disgust with himself rather than with her, but that did
not make it less awful.

'I love you, Mirabell, dear, dear Mirabell. . . .  Give me a little
in return. . . .  Love me ever so little.'

Stiff against him, her head up, staring into the fire, she

'We are so happy thus, Francis.  Let us stay tranquilly. . . .'

'Tranquil!'  He caught her closer.  'A fine word to use, but I have
never been tranquil.  I have not been worthy of any tranquillity.'

She understood that.  This man was in reality the shyest and most
modest she had ever known.  She did not comprehend men who were
fighters with themselves.  Every man in her life had taken himself
for what he was and thought no more about it.  But this man was
different.  She did dimly perceive that everything in his history--
rebellion, outrage, ostracism, irony, sense of beauty--had come
from his own restless dissatisfaction, and that if she saw his soul
naked it would be a soul on its knees.  But she did not want to see
his soul bare.  Any close terms with him meant violence and the
demand for something that she hadn't to give.  Moreover on an
occasion like this her fear was so great that such wits as she had
were away.

'Let us read again,' she said, trying to smile at him.  'I will be
cleverer this time.'

He put his hand to her neck and held her head up to him.

'Understand this.  I am out of breath now.  I can endure no more.
You must love me.  You can if you will.  You have love in you.  You
could give it to that other man.  And have I not done more for you
than he could ever do, more in every way?  Has a man ever loved you
as I love you?  I want nothing. . . .  Love me and I will never ask
you a favour.  Love me and I will sleep in another bed.  Love me
and I will work for you like a dog.  We shall leave this place that
has always fretted you.  We shall go where you will and I will
never even kiss your hand.  I will not touch you, Mirabell, if
you can love me a little.  My heart is starved . . . after these
years . . . I have no more power to resist.'

He was at her feet, kneeling.  All his pride was gone, all his
power over himself.  His scarred face lifted to hers, if she had
been able to see it, was beautiful.

But she could not see it; she was so frightened that she could see
nothing.  This was the worst that he had ever been.  With a little
cry she tried to rise.  He caught at her dress.  He held her round
her knees.

'Say that you love me even though you do not.  I will cheat

But she could not.  Her lips moved but no words came.  He caught
her, pressing his face to her bosom.  Then he felt her tremble.
That flung him into madness.  He had been always afraid of this and
had been on his guard.  Now he guarded himself no longer.

'I will beat you into it.  Can you stand outside me and I not
compel you to come in?  Have I waited so long for naught?  Have I
no strength?'  He caught her and strained her to him.  He covered
her face, half averted, with kisses.  He dragged her head back by
the hair and kissed her neck, tore her gown open, burying his face
in her breasts, murmuring:  'An you will not come to me, I'll make
you . . . I shall conquer your stubbornness, do you see?  You are
inside me, at my heart . . . shall never escape . . . I carry you
with me.'

Her fear was so frantic that she managed to break away from him and
crying out:  'Oh, never, never any more!' ran, half naked, across
the floor and up the wooden stairs.  She heard him stumbling after
her, crossed the dark passage, found her room, bolted the door with
its wooden bolt and then crouched against the wall, listening.  She
thought that he meant to kill her, but it was not the fear of death
that frightened her, but something far deeper, a mingled terror and
sorrow for him was part of it.

He came to the door and battered on it, shouting:  'Come out,
then . . . I will end it for us both. . . .  Come out that I may
finish it.'

He paused, and the silence in the house was terrible; not only in
the house but in all the frost-bound, star-shadowed world outside.
There was moonlight in her room, splashed against the wall.  Her
eyes devoured the door.

He battered again, then flung all his weight.  The whole house rang
to his blows, the door that was very old cracked.  He kicked and it

From the doorway he saw her crouched against the wall.  He waited,
his breast heaving.

She did not speak, she could not.  So they stared at one another.

His madness left him.  The moonlight seemed to lap it up.  He knew
that he had done something for which he would never forgive

He turned and with hanging head went away.


There is a work of particular interest to members of the Herries
family--Letters in England, 1757-1805--edited by Dorothea Leyland
(Satters and Bonnin, 1876).

This is a book worthy of more general reading.  Miss Leyland tells
us how, after the purchase by her father of Rockington Hall in
Shropshire (the home of the Durward Herries from 1830 to 1854), she
discovered in an old oak chest a red leather box stuffed with old
letters.  They were hard to decipher, yellow and torn, but after
some difficulty and the exercise of much patience they were all

They included letters preserved and formed into little packets
neatly tied with red ribbon by that solemn and serious Mary
Titchley, wife of Grandison Herries and mother of the gay Pelham;
of all of whom we have already caught glimpses.

They were not of necessity letters written entirely to or by
members of the Titchley and Herries families, although these formed
the larger portion of them.  This, one may suppose, was why Miss
Leyland decided against giving the collection a family name.  The
volume excited very much less attention than it deserved.  There
was not at the time of its publication the interest in eighteenth-
century minutiae that there is to-day.  It has been long out of
print.  In any detailed chronicle of the Herries family during the
years included by it, it must be of great value.

There is one letter--dated April 4, 1763--which is pertinent here.
It is written to Pelham Herries (at this time a bachelor of forty-
five years of age living in King Street, St. James's) by his cousin
Frances Titchley, a single lady of middle years who was at the time
making a tour of Scotland and the North of England with her brother
Reginald and his wife.

After certain details that do not here concern us (the full letter
can be found on page 331, in the volume above referred to) it
proceeds as follows:

. . . I was about to close my letter without communicating to you
my most interesting Adventure, most interesting at least to
Yourself who, if you will remember, begged me to ascertain any News
of your Cousin whether in Keswick or the Barbarous Wilds of

In my own solitary Person I had not the courage to invade the
Fortress of dear Raiseley and dearer Mary.  You know how they are
thought of by the Family as a Pair of Unconscionable Ogres from
whose Hospitality no Cakes and Ale are to be hoped for, but only
the Chilly Fingers of Uneasy and Insincere Politeness.  In short,
dear Pelham, neither Reginald nor Coelia would accompany me on a
Call and I would not go alone, so although we were three whole days
in Keswick and expecting momentarily the most Inconvenient of
Meetings we escaped without a sight of them.

Blame me if you will, dearest Pelham, but remember that you have
not yourself been over Punctilious in your Obedience to Inexorable

You know that I can always see more faults in my own Performances
than I love to think on, but at least You shall not be entirely
Disappointed in me; I have something yet to offer you.

You know that Reginald has, from his Cradle, a love of the Horrible
and that no Terror is so Great but that he must tickle his Palate
with it.  We have seen, as I have told you in my other letters,
Sights of Superb Splendour and the Grandest Magnificence in
Scotland.  For my part I felt that I had seen enough and even my
Love for You was not Spur sufficient to drive me into the (so
rightly named) Jaws of Borrowdale to catch maybe a glance of the
ferocious Herries who inhabits there.  But you know how 'tis the
nature of the Common People to hate all Novelties and the nature of
Reginald to be drawn by them, so when the Boots at the Keswick
Hotel assured us that there was Nothing in Borrowdale to be seen
but Horrid Crags and Violent Waterfalls this decided Reginald
immediately.  He was ready indeed to go alone, and Coelia, when she
heard that the only Transport was on Horseback, decided violently
against going but, a little thro' Charity to myself and a great
deal thro' Charity to You because I was aware of your Eager
Curiosity to hear something of your strange Francis for whom you
bear, you always tell me, so odd an Affection, I agreed to
accompany Reginald and to share with him whatever Perils and
Dangers there might be.

Strong Temptations rise within my heart to make of this a story as
fearfully absurd as any thing in the History of Miss Betsy
Thoughtless, but I will spare your Sensitive Feelings and I am sure
you will consider my Behaviour has been very handsome.  In short we
set out on the fairest of Young Spring Days and discovered the most
lovely of England's uninhabited though Cultivated Vallies.  I say
Uninhabited but am not quite Literal.  Houses and Farms there are
scattered here and there in a wilderness of Scrub under the
Frowning Eyebrows of horrid Crags and Precipices.  Whatever you
wish to offer up to your Idol, Taste (and you know that I have ever
applauded your taste in the Arts, extravagant tho' some of your
Relations have found it) as We saw it under a brilliant Sun with
fresh Green glittering from a recent Shower I was not altogether
resolved against coming to live in these Regions for the remainder
of my Days and indeed might seriously so consider it were it not
for the too close Juxtaposition of dear Raiseley and Mary.  But now
to my Story.  Our Guide, who both in his Corpulency and abruptness
of Speech reminded me strongly of Uncle Roger (whose Partiality for
green corn partridges and ill success at the Oxfordshire Poll you
will certainly remember) showed us the Beauties and Curiosities of
the district as we passed them, the Ingenuity of the Bowder Stone,
the Beauties of the River Derwent, a wood above the river where not
so long back they drowned a Witch, but I will not detain you with
these, knowing, dearest Pelham, your Unmitigated Impatience with
anything that has not to do with a graceful Ankle or a Pack of
Cards, and so proceeding over the Wildest Country, all Horrid
Boulders and Little Trees growing in grotesque profusion, we
approached at length the village of Rosthwaite.  You have heard me
say that I am a Philosopher only in the fields, and never in the
Fields but when the sun shines, so should I have been most surely a
Philosopher now, but I confess to a most unphilosophical Tremor
when the Guide says, as quietly as you please, 'And that is the
House of Herries,' pointing with his stick to a strange Building on
a rising Hillock so near to us that only a rivulet and a rustic
Bridge divided us.

The Afternoon was gathering in and the Shadows fast falling across
the Valley.  There was a Purple Light over all the scene and the
Mountains had assembled in front of Us as though to close us in
with their Black and Jagged Sides.  It was a fearful Scene, dear
Pelham, and I am thankful indeed that I had Reginald with me Who
being destitute of all Imagination suffers no Distress from Nature
at her darkest nor the forebodings of Man's untimely End.  How
Strange, how Abandoned, how Desolate this House of Francis Herries!
I have seen you draw a Gothick Hog-sty for a customary Freeholder
in Northamptonshire but this would be entirely beyond your Pencil.

From where our horses stayed We could see the deserted grass-grown
courtyard, Walls from which the bricks were already falling,
windows so Dark that they must be always foreign to the Sun, and
the Garden behind a tangle of Weed and Stone.  The House must be in
part Elizabethan or of an earlier date and it had, in this Shadow
that crept about the silent Valley, so unhappy an Air that I have
never seen a House speak so eloquently.  And now see what follows!
We had been watching in silence for some five minutes when of a
sudden a Woman comes into the Doorway.

She stands for a moment in Hesitation then crosses the Courtyard
and turns down the Path towards us.  We had, as You might imagine,
a Perfect View of her and I ask you to imagine how Romantick a
Picture with this tumbling dark House behind her and the Black
Hills on every side and no Sound in the World.  As she came toward
Us I saw that she was beautiful or so Unusual as to be named a
Beauty.  She passed us by silently as a Ghost might.  She wore
nothing over her Head, and her Hair was the Reddest in Hue I ever
saw.  Over her shoulders she had a Orange Shawl.

Her Face was small and white like a Child's but by her Person I
should say she was near thirty Years.  Lost in her Thoughts she
gave us no Notice.  Then, when She was scarcely past us a man came
from the same door, walks to the Lane, sees her in front of him and
also draws near to us.  This was of course your admired Francis.

He also passed Us without the merest Glance, slowly as though He
would not accompany the Figure in front of him but yet would keep
Her in His Eye.

You have seen Him, Pelham, and so I need not waste Paper in
describing Him to you, but how Striking and how Strange is his
appearance.  His Clothes are Shabby and stained with mire.  He had
a Black Hat and a Coat with wide old-fashioned skirts of rusty
Brown, he was gaitered to the Knee.

But his Face--scarred on one Cheek from brow to lip--his Eyes of a
most tender and Romantick Cast, grave and yet kindly, his Body so
straight (save for the slightest stoop of the Shoulder) that
although You tell me He is over Sixty it is yet difficult of
Belief.  There seemed a sort of Desperation in his eye although
You, knowing my Romantick Disposition, will attribute this
Embroidery to my excess of Sentiment.

He passed Us and followed the Lady but, as I have told You, not to
be up with her but rather to keep Her in his Watch.  We saw her
turn into the shadow of the darkening Road.  He slowly behind her
and so the two of them out of our Sight.

Forgive, dearest Pelham, the Length of this Epistle but I had
resolved that I must give you the fullest details of this
Occurrence although Reginald pshaws me and assures me that We have
seen nothing at all but a husband and wife on their Daily Walk.
For myself there is something more Romantickal and I will confess
to you that I have altogether fallen in Love with your Francis and
would perhaps try my Fate with Him were he not so obviously already

My Health is much after the old fashion; yours, I hope however, is
quite recovered . . .

There is nothing further in this letter that calls for attention.

The other view of Francis and Mirabell during this month is
Deborah's.  For a long time past Deborah and her husband had been
demanding a visit.  Francis had never come near to them since Deb's

One afternoon towards the end of April, Francis and his wife
(riding pillion) appeared outside the little, squat, rosy-faced
rectory.  The Reverend Gordon Sunwood was cleaning out the pig-sty.
Deborah was baking a cake.  She arrived at the doorway, her face
rosy from the heat of the fire, her hands thick in dough.

She was pleased and frightened at the same time.  They looked so
strange sitting silently on a large black horse as though they had
been conjured out of the ground.

It was altogether the strangest visit.  There seemed no actual
reason for it.  Neither seemed glad to be there.  But, by the
second day, Deborah seeing that something was terribly amiss
between the two of them, her warm heart was deeply touched and she
tried to draw close to them.  No easy matter.  They were like
foreigners who are uncertain of the language spoken around them.
They looked foreign, too, sitting in Deborah's amazingly neat and
bright parlour with its shining brass, its handsome pictures of
King George and his Queen, its Chippendale chairs.

But altogether it was the prettiest of little rooms, hung round
with India paper, with Chelsea china, and a pagoda, and a looking-
glass in a frame of Chinese paling.

This room was Deborah's pride, and how happy she was, sewing by the
fire, listening to the steps on the cobbles, and interrupted once
and again by the fat, cheerful countenance and round plump person
of Mr. Sunwood, who would look in to tell her about the new litter
of pigs or how the hens were laying or the text he had chosen for
his next sermon or how Mrs. Jameson, the lawyer's wife, was faring
in her childbirth.

Deborah had all she wanted in the world, for now she knew that she
was to have a child.  (She was delivered of boy twins on the
morning of October 3, 1763.)

Socially, too, the Sunwoods were very popular.  It must be
remembered that Deborah had never all her life long known what
social popularity was.  There had been always over them the
atmosphere of her father's sin and social impossibility.  She had
also been in Doncaster too young to know what society was, and at
Herries there was no society.

She yielded herself, therefore, now to all the friendliness and
neighbourliness with a full will, and happy were her days.  But all
her life came back to her full flood in the presence of her father;
yes, right back to her infancy when they arrived at Keswick on that
stormy afternoon and Alice Press sat beside the fire.

Old shadows, old terrors.  She was not afraid of him now quite as
she had been; married life had given her independence.  Besides, he
was strangely kind and gentle.  He seemed to have lost all his
authority, acquiesced in anything that was suggested; he charmed
Deborah the most by his exceeding courtesy to his wife, rising to
offer her any attention, always with his eye on her.

But they talked scarcely at all together, only smiled occasionally,
and then as though they were strangers.

Deborah did her best to come to close terms with Mirabell and,
until the final evening, altogether failed.  She took her over the
little house, showing proudly all her treasures.  Especially the
bedstead in which Mr. Sunwood and his lady enjoyed their marital
comforts.  This was a mahogany bedstead with fluted posts and dark
crimson hangings.  Other glories of the house were a walnut-tree
writing table, three India-back walnut-tree chairs with stuff silk
damask seats, a pier-glass in a black and gold frame, blue and
white china, and a Turkey carpet.

It may be wondered what contrasts Mirabell made in her heart
between this and Herries.  Poor woman!  A house like this, cosy,
warm, clean, bright with frilly things, and an air everywhere of
love and safety, had never been, all her life, in her way.  Would
she have cared for it or would it have driven her wild?  If it had
been this that she wanted, and she had urged Francis Herries
sufficiently towards it, there is little doubt but that he would
have tried to get it for her.  She did not belong to this comfort.

With every hour Deborah felt the distance between them growing.
Physically they were of separate worlds, Deborah plump, with cap
and apron, keys at her girdle, with her bright happy face, placid
too and yet sensitive with that perception, kept by her from
childhood, of small unexpressed things.

It was this perception that made her bond with Mirabell, that
separated her from Sarah and David and gave her kinship with her
father, although she feared him.  She was in that way nearer to her
father than to her own husband.  She watched Mirabell.  She saw her
stand near the mirror in the parlour, half reflected in it.  Her
face was elfish, both tragic and impatient.  Under its great burden
of hair it was poignant in its loneliness.  And at last Deborah,
unable to endure the woman's silent suffering any longer, caught
her in her arms and held her there.

'Tell me, my dear, what is it?  What is wrong?  Why are you

Mirabell did not try to escape as Deborah had thought that she
would.  She stayed there looking down.

'We are both unhappy,' she said at last, 'because I cannot give him
what he would have, and he has done something for which he will
never forgive himself.'

Deborah drew her to a chair.  She felt close, close to her.  She
suddenly seemed to understand her as she never had before,
understand the good honest heart, her wild nature uneasy at
captivity, her gratitude for his kindness to her, her misery
because she could not love him.  These things were all told to her
as though Mirabell had spoken.

She did speak; she looked up into Deborah's face, seemed to find
comfort in those quiet eyes.

'It is all my own sin, all because I came to him for shelter that
first time when I was hungry.'  She began to speak passionately as
Deborah had seen her do once before above Bassenthwaite Water.

'I could not know then; I was a child in so many ways.  I knew that
he loved me, but not that for so long, with so much refusal, he
would still love me.  His love is terrible; it is like a pain in
his heart and in mine.  If I cared nothing for him it would be
easy.  I would have told him and left him.  But how can I not care
for him when for so long he has been so good to me, and for so long
asked nothing in return?  Now at last he does ask something.  He
cannot help himself. . . .  And then there is more.  I am
imprisoned in that house.  I am a woman now, not a child, and it
seems that I am a woman accursed because I cannot rest anywhere.
I think that when Harry was killed I was struck a blow here at my
heart.  I can feel it, a pain that nothing can heal.  After all, I
am of no family and of no place.  I am not in my own world with
him.  If I loved him, then nothing would matter, but because I
cannot. . . .'

She broke off, threw up her head.  'I have a great scorn of women
who go about bewailing everything.  We had a woman once who was
like that; she was mistress of one of my uncles.  "Oh," she was
always saying, "he has struck me," or "He neglects me," and
therefore he did strike her, no blame to him.  I would wail about
nothing of myself, but to see him so wretched when I care for
him. . . .'  She broke off again, then turned eagerly to Deborah.
'Oh, you don't know, Deborah, how good he can be!  He is quite
changed now.  Of course he is older, but it is not only age.  There
is a new gentleness--can you not see it?'

'Yes,' said Deborah, 'but it is because he is unhappy.'

'I know, I know!'  Mirabell caught Deborah's arm.  'I cannot endure
that quietness, not for much longer.  If we could speak together--
but, after Christmas last, he will say nothing concerning the two
of us.  There was an angry scene.  He beat down the door of my
room.  I thought he would kill me.  I would not have cared had he,
but the fit passed and since then he has had a shame that has no
cause.  What is that--beating the door down?  He himself has done
many things worse--and to me what have they not done?  Beaten me
and kicked me, and many worse things.  I would not have minded if
he had beaten me, but it was of a sudden to withdraw, as though he
had done some shameful thing.'

'That is because he loves you,' said Deborah.

Then Mirabell said, dropping her voice very low:

'It cannot go on like this.  It must have a turn.  It were better
for him that I were not there.'  And then, with the oddest smile,
looking close at Deborah again:  'And perhaps I am not there.  No
woman at all.  The real woman is somewhere else and loves him.  I
feel that I have no soul, that I must go out to find one.'

At that Mr. Sunwood came in and they had supper.

Deborah had one word with her father.  After supper he went to the
door with her to see the rich red spring moon.  He stood there,
feeling through all his body the peace of the little town.  The
cobbled path, the white houses shining in the moonlight, the rooms
behind them with their warmth, no sound, and the moon riding
through the serene sky.  But he turned to her:

'I will not accept this world of ghosts,' he said.  'He has laid it
thus, so and so.  "And now you take it," says He.  "This is good
enough for you."  But it is not good enough.  It is a botch, a
mess, a frustration, and man is frustrated in the middle of it.
But for every man, one twist and it would be right enough.  "Jog
this for me a turn to the left," says Man, "and I shall have
comfort."  "Not I," says God.  "Jog it yourself if you can."'  He
laughed and tweaked Deborah's ear very gently.  'Thou art happy,

'Very, father,' she answered.

'Aye, so I see.  And I like your parson, even though he likes not

'Oh, but he does,' said Deborah indignantly.

'Nay,' said Herries laughing.  'I am an old serpent in his nest.  I
can see him wondering, as we sit at table, "Now, how doth my adored
Deborah come from that thief's loins?"  But 'tis my seed, Deb, that
you are, never shame thy mother else.'  He sighed, shrugging his
long shoulders.  'Poor sainted Margaret!  Old days.  Think you that
she is behind that moon now, Deb, watching us?'

'Where Heaven may be,' said Deborah.

'Aye, where Heaven may be--a plaguy caterwauling place.'

Taking all her courage she said:  'How sweet Mirabell is, father;
and she cares for you most deeply.'

He looked at her as though he had not heard, then, very low,
staring at the moon and speaking into the air:

'She has no right to care.  I have treated her very evilly;
everything in me turns to evil.'  Then, shrugging his shoulders
again:  'Come in.  Do you know that I am sixty years old and more?
Every part of me from nose to belly, from belly to knee-joint, is
aware of it.  Only I, I myself, will not recognise it.'

They went inside, and next morning the two rode back to Herries.

As they rode Mirabell knew that he had some fresh plan in his head.
She heard him laugh softly to himself, saw him turn to look back at
her, then toss his head as though he were proud of making his mind
up.  And she was intensely miserable.  She had never before known
such misery.  When Harry had been killed, that had been unhappiness
of another sort--deep, biting agony with grandeur in it; this was
unhappiness that came from failure.  Somehow in these years, with
all the chances that she had had, she should have made a better job
of it.  Had Deborah's parson felt passion for her but she no
passion in return, would she not have made the best of it, have
satisfied him in some way, have 'taken him in' for his own good as
so many women must do with their men?

Ah, but Deborah's parson and her Herries, what different men they
were!  There was no one like her Herries (here she felt a queer
sort of pride) for oddity, suddenly stepping inside himself where
you could not get him.  And herself and Deborah!  Here, too, there
was a bed-rock difference.  Deborah was a lady and she, Mirabell,
was not.  She did not know what she was--something for nothing, an
absurd misfit belonging to no place, no person.  And here such a
bitter sense of desolation came to her that it was all she could do
to hold back her tears.

It would never do that he should see her weeping, so she turned
away blinking at the thin sunshine radiant with promise.
Derwentwater lay below them.  The air seemed to be filled with the
sound of waterfalls, and in contrast to this delicious murmur the
lake was softly still.  One boat floated upon it, the hills were
most delicately reflected in purple shapes, a looking-glass world.
Lord's Island was a cloud of green.  Everything was freshly green--
the copses, the hawthorns.  Birds were singing everywhere--
bullfinches, robins, thrushes--and on all sides the gentle fields
sloped lazily up to the rocks and spurs of the hills that would
soon have a shadow of green smoke on them from a hint of the new

Such peace must seem unreal when life is at impossible odds, but
for Mirabell this free and open nature had always been the only
true certain thing that she knew.  She did not analyse it, she
could not have described it, because it was part of her, and, just
as she was at a loss about her own moods and nature if she were
asked for any definition, so she was at a loss here.  But the lake,
that had slipped so beautifully down between the hills and now lay
in perfect peace, rose up to her and for a moment drew her into its
own tranquil reassurance.

For some days after their return Francis Herries kept his plan,
whatever it was, to himself; then at last one evening he told her.

Herries was at its best in the spring and the early summer.
Daffodils blew about its walls, birds were everywhere nesting, the
old rooms seemed to take the sunlight more readily, the windows
could be flung open; the place lost its musty smell of ancient
cobweb and leaking wainscot.  Herries himself worked all day on the
ground, and now at last, after all these years, it seemed to be
responding and yielding to his long care of it.  People, too,
seemed to be losing some of their long avoidance.  Women would
greet him at their doors as he passed, men exchange 'Good-day' with
him, and sometimes children would hang about the courtyard, stroke
the dog and watch Benjamin groom the two horses.

They were standing by the wall at the house's back looking at the
light fading over Rosthwaite Fell, when he turned abruptly to her
and said:

'Soon we shall be leaving this.'

For a moment she did not understand what he said.  He repeated it,
looking at her shyly, but watching her to see the surprise of
pleasure flash into her eyes.

'Leave Herries?'

'Yes. . . .  Since our visit to Deborah I have been thinking.  This
is no place for you.  You have always hated it.  We will find a
bright trim house like hers, with modern walls and India paper on
them, no dripping water, no disorder . . . a proper parlour for you
to sit in.'

'Leave Herries? . . .  But you love every stone of it.'

'Yes.  But you do not.  I can do you that service.'

She was terrified.  A mature, profound understanding came to her at
this moment.  There was some crisis at this time when she became a
woman.  It may have been this.  She saw in a flash of intuitive
comprehension that this was his last throw.  If she had learnt
anything about him during these years with him, it was that Herries
was everything to him, that it had a power over him, as some places
have over some men, deeper than thought, deeper than reason.

She saw in his eyes, in their light dancing attack on her, that he
was saying:  'Now--now--you must love me.  I have found a way at
last.  I am giving up everything, the only thing I've ever really
cared for.  THIS must win you.'  And she knew, as she looked about
her, at the darkening fells, the stony fields, the house that
seemed to grin malignantly at her, with what loathing she regarded
it, with what poignancy she felt the pathos of his abnegation, with
what wretched certainty she knew the hopelessness of his desire.

A panic seized her.  She felt as though she could run to the house
and beat on it with her hands until they bled.

'You must not.  You shall not.  Do you not realise that I have no
power to change this, that no giving up of anything can alter it?
Oh, I am wretched indeed to have come, wretcheder to stay, cheating
you, cheating myself, when I care for you so.  If I did not care it
would be easy.  But I do not love you.  I shall never love you.
Nothing can change it.'

'This can change it,' he said.  'We will go from here where you
will.  It is this house and its discomfort that has chilled you.  I
was a fool not to have seen it before.  I know my way.'

She bowed her head.  There was only one thing for her to do.

In the four days that followed, she must have gone, again and
again, over every aspect of it.  By leaving him might she not
liberate him?  What was her presence to him save a goad, a torture?
She was by now obsessed with this sense that she had, from the
beginning, only harried him, and that now the harm that she did was
touching insanity.  Leaving Herries, what could there be for him
but continual remorse and regret with no compensation?

Possibly she had never cared for him so tenderly and so regretfully
as now.  Those last days of April when the sun shone and the water
glittered on the rocks, and green burnt like fire, they moved
apart, he, it seemed, resolved that he had won her by this last
surrender to her, but suffering, it may be fancied, a brutal hurt
with every glance that the house gave him.  She saw that he dug no
longer, nor planted, nor went out to the hills.

During those last nights he never touched her, and she, lying awake
at his side, hated with shivers of revulsion this passion that
seemed so necessary to men that they must die if they could not
have it.

Oddly, the more deeply she cared for him, the more now she detested
the thought of his physically possessing her.  She wanted no man
ever to touch her again.

On the last night of April, a starless, moonless night, about two
of the morning, she rose from his side, crept to the other room
where some clothes were, wrote on a piece of paper, left it where
he should see it, and fled.  By seven o'clock she was on the coach
for Kendal.

That night by an odd chance he slept heavily, having been much
awake other nights.  When he woke and saw that she was not with him
in bed, he went to the passage and called her.

It was May Day; the light over the house was dim.  All the way down
the stairs he called her.  On the table where he had so often tried
to give her lessons was a piece of paper, and very childishly

It is beste to goe.  You will have Piece better without me.


He stood, holding the paper towards the window, reading it over and
over, rocking on his feet.

The sun, surmounting the hill, pierced the window, but he saw




Meanwhile David and Sarah had made a fine start of family life at
Uldale.  They had two children--Francis, born in 1760; and Deborah,
born in 1762.  They were both grand healthy children.

David, indeed, was at last in his full and proper element.  You
could see this in the happy confident gaze that he threw over his
wife, his children, his square house with its rosy brick set so
comfortably in its little walled-in garden, his little farm, his
servants, his farm hands, and even over the high and swelling downs
stretching towards Scotland and the sea--all, in a sort of fashion,
his, because he loved them with a personal love and was proud of
them with a personal pride.

This was what he had always been intended to be--patriarchal
founder of an English family with his great stature, huge limbs,
splendid carriage.

As he strode about the soil, his flaxen head up, his chest spread,
his eyes shining with health and vigour and happiness, he was
already the Patriarch gathering these men and women, these beasts
of the field and birds of the air under his protecting shelter.

He was now forty-three years of age, and had much worldly wisdom
hidden in his round solid-looking head.  He was beginning to make
very real profits through his Liverpool trade, and, had he wished,
could have become a wealthy man.  He had the talents, the
persistence, the courage.  But here the real Herries strain came
out in him, also the touch of softness of sentiment that belonged
to the little boy who had adored to ride in front of his father,
who had hated Alice Press and been thrilled by the dreams of Father
Roche.  The Herries strain in him made him weary of money-getting,
just as it began to be important.

Herries did not care for property; they were too proud to think it
worth while to amass it.  They cared so much for family, for their
own standing, their own importance in England, that no vulgar
amassing of wealth could do anything but damage their self-
approval.  But then again their family pride was so unself-
conscious, so completely taken for granted, that they never thought
of it, talked of it or defended it.  The English have always had
this quality of confident security, and this makes them remote from
the rest of the world and will always isolate them whether their
island continues to be an island or no.  It accounts for their
universal unpopularity, for their insular stubbornness, their
hypocrisy and their profound calm in a crisis.  It accounts also
for a generous warmth of heart hidden under an absurd armour of
frigid suspicion of strangers.  It accounts for their poetry, their
lack of imagination, their peculiar humour, their irritating
conceit and ignorance in foreign countries, and a certain nave
youthfulness which is both absurd and attractive.

Any history of any English family must be concerned with this
confident security and the shocks that it receives from time to
time.  These shocks never ultimately affect it; the history of any
English family therefore is, basically, comedy rather than tragedy;
comedy decorated with incongruous things like spring flowers,
teapots, the Battle of Trafalgar, London fogs, beer and country
vicarages.  This confident security is the true reason of our
magnificent sequence of great poets.  Poetry is roused by sheer
rebellious indignation, so vilely exasperating is it to anyone with

David, however, thought in these days little of poetry.  He was so
busied from early morning (he was up at five-thirty every day)
until evening, that life flashed like a meteor before his eyes and
was gone.

In actual fact the times were propitious for him.  There was
possibly no period in the history of the village labourer so black,
degraded and hopeless as that between the years 1760 and 1832.  Let
there follow some items important in the Herries family chronicle.
The agricultural labourer at this time earned fourteen pence a day
or eight shillings a week, and his wife, were she lucky, might earn
sixpence a day.  Here are some of the things that the labourer must
provide for his family: candles, 3d.; bread or flour, 1s. 8d.;
yeast and salt, 4d.; soap, starch, 2 1/2d.; tea, sugar, butter,
1s.; thread, worsted, 3d.  The weekly total would be some 8s. 4
1/2d. or 21:15:6 per annum, his earnings being 20:16s.

In addition to the weekly expenses, there were clothing, rent,
fuel, amounting to some 8, and leaving the happy villager with a
yearly deficiency of nearly 9.  He could buy neither milk nor
cheese.  He could not brew small beer save for some especial
occasion.  So difficult was it to obtain soap for washing that they
burned green fern and kneaded it into balls.  A quarter of wheat
cost in 1787 forty-eight shillings, and that amount was trebled

Everywhere and in every way the labourer was oppressed by the
farmer.  Landlords and farmers were, at this time, advocating
enclosures everywhere.  The common field system was utterly
wasteful; far better to throw all the fields into large farms.

David found that here in all the country that stretched between
Uldale and Carlisle matters were very different from the
independence and security of the Statesmen in Borrowdale and
Newlands.  There a labourer could rise by thrift and diligence
until he should be in some sort his own master.  In all the country
districts about Uldale, by enclosure the labourer was losing his
right of cutting fuel on the common, his piece of land, his pig and
cow.  Privilege of gleaning after harvest, whereby poor families
often obtained enough corn to last them through the winter, was
also now withdrawn.

Signs of the new world were also to be found in the arrival of the
middleman; the farmer sold his corn to the miller, the miller to
the mealman, the mealman to the shopkeeper, the shopkeeper to the

In short, the halcyon time for the poor man at work on English
fields was over, never, alas, to return.

David was fortunate in that his farm was small and his means were
large.  His heart was warm and kindly, his character patient, his
intelligence shrewd.  It was not long before his name began to be
known for wise charity and true understanding; it would not be long
before 'Squire Herries' was his designation.

His whole heart and soul rose to his new position.  He was founding
a family, not a new family, but a new branch of the finest family
in the world, the Herries of England.  Here, from every possible
motive, both his spiritual and physical energies were engaged.  At
the heart of it were his wife and children.  Here both his love and
his pride knew no bounds.  Beyond them were all the Herries (with
one very important exception).

After he had been at Uldale a year or so, he wrote to various
relations informing them that here he was, and that they were
welcome to a bed and a sup any time they passed that way.

In dueness of time he heard from Cousin Pelham, a very gay and
frivolous epistle, saying that Uldale was the very place for flight
when the bailiffs should become too pressing; a stiff angular
letter from Dorothy Forster, complaining of the weather and her
rheumatism; a grand document from London from his cousin Judith
(now the Hon. Mrs. Ernest Bligh), informing him that her social
duties were so onerous that she was sadly afraid that she could
spare no time for the bleak North (where, she knew well from her
unhappy youth, it always rained); a delightful letter from dear
Uncle Harcourt (now seventy-five years of age), wishing his nephew
every prosperity, but intimating that gout had him by the leg and
David must come to Ravenglass to see him rather than he to Uldale.
There were others: Will Forster, now twenty-five years of age, who
wrote from Alnwick to inquire about the hunting; an aunt of
Pelham's, an ancient Titchley, who, drinking the waters at Bath,
begged him to subscribe to her Home for Indigent Sedan Chairmen;
and young Morgan Gold of Edinburgh, who wrote to ask David to be a
subscriber and patron to his forthcoming epic, The Tower of Babel.

In one way and another David felt his bag had not been a bad one.
This was his first step towards bringing the family together,
making it a real force and power in the progress and happiness of

It was England that he always ultimately saw; England expressed in
the downs, streams and hills of his own surrounding country;
England in the names so immediately close to him--Skiddaw Forest,
Bassenthwaite Common, Great Calva, Bowscale Fell, Blackhazel Beck,
Mungrisdale, Scarness, Jenkin Hill; England in the little streets
of Keswick; England spreading and dipping and rising again, through
town and country, from county to county, until on every side it
claims the sea.

His patriotism was like the patriotism of most men, founded on a
stone, a flower, the sound of a stream, a clod of earth, the rustle
of a tree, but it spread from these things until it embraced the
earth, the moon and stars at one reach, and dug pits in his soul at
the other.

All fine enough, but there was one festering strand in his ambition
which was not so fine.  That was his hatred of and scorn for his
dear cousin and brother-in-law, Raiseley Herries.

Raiseley, who was forty-five years of age now, had never been a
very fine physical specimen, and now, from idleness, a bad
constitution and much early coddling, had developed into as
complete a valetudinarian as his mother had ever been.  In his
youth he had had brains of a rather scientific sort, but for lack
of encouragement and because of a bad education they had run to
seed.  He had not had all the best chances.  His health had always
been bad: THAT was not entirely imagination.  His marriage had been
unfortunate.  Mary, David's sister, had never cared for him, had
indeed never cared for anyone but herself, nor did her two
children, Pomfret, aged twelve, and Cynthia, aged nine, care for
him either.  His appearance was distressing, his long thin face
yellow like a turnip, frequently coloured with the ravages of
dyspepsia, his lanky body gaudily and untidily clothed, always on
his features the malcontentedness of a thoroughly disappointed man.
He added to these unamiable qualities an overweening pride in his
position and a hasty but cowardly temper.

His quarrel with David had begun at a very early age, from that
day, in fact, when David had paid his first Keswick call with his
mother so many years ago.  For long Raiseley had had the best of
it.  David, living in disgraceful obscurity with a father who was
the scandal of all the world, was no very possible rival.  It was
true that Raiseley had married David's sister, but this was because
Mary had turned her back on her family and disowned them all.
Afterwards matters had not been improved by the fact that whenever
Mary wished to scorn or abuse her sickly husband (and these
occasions were not rare as the intimacies of marriage strengthened)
she found an easy weapon in the size and ability of her brother
(whom, nevertheless, herself she termed for many years 'clodhopper').
It was not, however, until David came to Uldale that the feud was
really proclaimed.

At first when they had heard of David's purchase of the place, both
Raiseley and Mary had laughed scornfully.  Their position in
Keswick was nothing very fine (they were not even contemptuously
popular as old Pomfret had been before them), but they nevertheless
represented the only kind of Herries of which Keswick socially had
any cognisance.  It was not so much that English society in the
middle of the eighteenth century was snobbish, as that the members
of it simply felt that those who were not members of it were not
human.  It was easy enough.  A man who was not a gentleman was
hanged for stealing a sheep or whipped at the public stocks until
the blood ran, or a child would be imprisoned in a jail too filthy
for rats for stealing a loaf of bread, or a woman who was not a
lady would suffer the grossest of public indignities for no reason
other than that she answered her mistress impertinently.

There was no question but that any Herries was a gentleman;
unfortunately Francis Herries had declassed himself completely, and
must be therefore doubly disowned.  How ridiculous then of his son
to expect, because he bought a small property in the neighbourhood,
that he would be received or accepted!  It was true that Rogue
Herries' daughter had been accepted, but that was because she had
disowned her monstrous father at the earliest possible moment, and
then had been washed, as it were, pure in London's chastening
waters before returning to Keswick.  David not only approved of his
monster of a father, but openly declared his devotion to him, and
was seen with him as often as possible, yes, even though the man,
after selling his mistress in public and murdering his first wife,
had married a common gipsy off the fells.

Oddly enough, none of these things seemed to stand in David's path.
After all, he was not new to Keswick; he had done business there
since he was a boy; everyone knew his rectitude, his courage, his
humour.  He was a proper man; he could carry an ox on one shoulder;
stripped, he could fight any man in the North Country.  Had he not
carried off his wife single-handed from the villain of a father and
a posse of attendant villains?  True, he had killed the man, there
under Esk Hause.  The thing was already an epic, and ballads had
been written about it.

This was the Keswick view, and soon neighbouring squires were
calling at Uldale, and David was hunting, fishing, shooting with
them, and it began to be noised abroad that some of the jolliest
evenings to be enjoyed in Cumberland were to be found at the Fell
House, Uldale.

It was then that the bitterness of his hatred for his brother-in-
law was felt to the full by Raiseley Herries.  His view of life was
in any case a bitter one.  Ill-health made him bitter, a conviction
of wasted brains and opportunities, disappointment both in his wife
and his children, hurt vanity, wounded conceit--these all made him

David's scorn and contempt for Raiseley was a bad, unworthy element
in his warm, generous, noble nature, as Sarah well knew and

'It isn't worthy of you,' she would say after he had boasted to her
of some small triumph, 'and one day it will come back badly to you.
Our children will suffer for it, if not ourselves.'

'Not they!' said David, laughing, throwing his babies up into the
air and catching them.  ''Tis an old feud, Sarah, my love, and it
began with his laughing at my father when we were infants together.
With his wheezly, flammering body, I could break him over my head.'

And so in pride and scorn and derision he rode himself over to
invite the two of them to his first grand festivity, this May Day,
1763.  Sitting his horse outside their door, a magnificent sight
for all to see, he gave his messages to young Pomfret, a stout,
sturdy boy, who carried his head proudly so that David took to him
at sight.

It was plain that young Pomfret had been trained to disapproval of
his uncle, but he could not drag his eyes from the horse.

'Wilt have a ride?' asked David, laughing.

But young Pomfret shook his head and ran into the house.

Sarah also shook her head when David returned and laughingly told
her of it.

'Why should we breed our children to this?  What affair is it of
theirs that you and Raiseley Herries have a spite?'

She was nursing her own baby, Deborah, not yet a year old, as she
spoke.  She looked down, smiling, her eyes bright with love.  'We
have had feuds enough in our lives--my uncle and your father; now
there must be peace.  This is not like you, Davy; it is not your

'I feel no generosity,' he answered sharply.  'My sister left us
and stayed in Keswick to mock us.  Raiseley has been our enemy
since he was weaned.'

But Sarah shook her head.  'Then it is the more reason the thing
ceased.  It has lasted long enough.  See that you are not proud,
Davy, in your new place.  Of all things pride is the worst.'

He bent over the mother and child, himself a child at that instant.
'I have reasons for my pride.  Two good reasons.'  Then, kissing
her, his great hand cupping her chin:  'And how can I not be proud
when I love you so?  Having such a wife, what is a man worth an he
is not stiff with pride?'

So Mary and Raiseley Herries did not come to the May Day Feast at
the Fell House.  But all the rest of the world came.

It was a grand May Day, soft and warm.  David had the downs above
his house for his games--for the Archery, the Football, the
Wrestling and the Dancing.  Upright on the downs, its head proudly
lifted to heaven, was the Maypole, its hanging streamers lazily
lifting like live things in the breeze.  He stood with Sarah on the
lawn in the brick-walled garden to receive his guests.  He wore a
plain suit of mulberry trimmed with silver.  His fair hair (he was
beginning, as were many others, to wear--save on very state
occasions--his own hair) shone in the sun.  His rosy face--strong,
clear-eyed, broad-browed--beamed happiness.  Sarah stood beside him
in a pretty grey dress, the hoop sprayed with roses, a fine white
wig with cherry ribbons, and she wore silver shoes.  She looked as
healthy, confident, happy as he.

Around them, too, everything was happy: the pigeons cooed, cows
softly lowed, birds sang in the elm-tree, young Francis was sturdy
enough in his three years to stand beside his mother holding
tightly to her with one hand and with the other cracking his whip.

David and Sarah insisted on receiving all alike; to-day there were
to be no class distinctions.  David had sent invitations to all his
old friends in Borrowdale, and many of them had ridden over--Peels
and Satterthwaites and Mounseys and Bells.  Sarah, although truly
she was no snob, could not but be gratified to see how the gentry
and their wives were appearing--Mr. Bonstead from Keswick, Squire
Osmaston and his lady from near Troutbeck, Squire Worcester and his
lady from the other side of Threlkeld, the Peaches and Sandons and
Ullathorpes from Keswick, the Brownriggs all the way from
Patterdale, the Newsomes of Newlands, the Robertsons of St. John's
in the Vale, the Kendals from the other side of Bassenthwaite.

Soon Sarah found that she was compelled to observe social
distinctions, so she led Mrs. Osmaston and Mrs. Worcester and old
Miss Mary Peach and the Misses Gwendolyn and Frances Brownrigg out
to the seats that had been arranged on the down with an awning to
protect them from the wind.  The farmers and their wives and
children gathered in their own groups, and splendid Statesmen like
Richard Bell, towering with his white head and six foot five above
all the others, and George Satterthwaite, like a bull for thickness
and strength, walked on the springing turf as though they owned the
world and were rightly proud of it.

Yes, this was perhaps the happiest day of his life for David.  It
had come to this: that he had now his true independent place in the
world, his place, his wife and children, this turf on which he was
treading, this English turf under English hills, watered with
English streams--these things were his and he owed them to no man
alive.  Men of all kinds, from old Osmaston, who was a sort of king
of Cumberland at this time, from Richard Bell, as noble-hearted as
he was ironically cautious and loyally steadfast, to old Ducken the
ploughman, who was now moving towards the Maypole, a string of
children at his heels, these men and their womenfolk had greeted
him, welcomed him, received him into their world.

And he thought as he stood there, his legs spread, his head up, his
face flushed with happiness, of himself as a small boy at Herries
listening to Alice Press as she screamed at his mother; of the
Chinese Fair and the ancient Chinaman with the old, old face; of
that awful scene in the tent when his father sold Alice Press; of
how he stood in the courtyard sparring with Raiseley while his
mother was dying upstairs; of old Mrs. Wilson the witch; of the
ride to Carlisle; of that awful moment when his father, looking a
dead man, had come into his room in Carlisle; of the day when
Mirabell had met them in Herries--a thousand other scenes were
called up by his memory.  He knew now that, in spite of his
devotion and loyalty to his father, that strange mist of disgrace
and isolation had always been hanging over him, although he was too
proud to acknowledge it.

Now at last, at last he was clear of it!

All this while his eye was on the road beneath him to see whether
his father and Mirabell would appear.  He had, of course, sent word
to them--a special letter on horseback--that they must most
certainly come.  He wanted them to come; it would not be a real
complete day for him if his father were not there, but with that,
if he were honest with himself, there was a feeling too that they
would be strange, his father and Mirabell, in this company.  They
were always strange, his father with his arrogant look that went so
oddly with his scarred face, his silence, his sudden ironical
statements, his wandering eye so that his mind seemed to be always
elsewhere, and Mirabell like a play-actress with her gaudy clothes
and ill-easiness in proper and normal company.  He wanted them to
come, but he dreaded a little what the result of their coming might

Now everything is in movement.  The coloured ribbons of the Maypole
flash in constant change against the blue of the sky and the green
of the turf.  The girls pass like notes of music sounding in
regular rhythm against the air.

On a grassy mound above the road an old man with two chins and a
frizzy white wig stands fiddling, and he has an attendant piper.
Birds fly across the sun, bells sound, clouds lighter than smoke,
with the soft colour of swan's down, collect and hover and

Beyond the Maypole there are benches, a barrel of ale, apples
soaked in sugar and thick flat cakes crammed with raisins, damp in
the middle.  Men and women cluster here; there is wrestling,
kissing and hugging and drinking, and, beyond them, as the sun
slides down the sky, the sloping black side of Skiddaw catches the
light: it is as though it rolled its coat off and spread there,
basking, while the clouds are shadowed across the shining surface.
And David stands, his head up, breathing the air, catching the
light, feeling that the whole world is his, joy in his heart.

A farmer passes.  He turns, laughing, rolling his thick back
towards the Maypole.

'T'dancing is grand,' he says.  Osmaston's huge body draws near,
seeming to darken the sun with its bulk.  He happens very gravely
to talk politics with young Herries.  'Now Grenville . . .  And
these American Colonies . . . ?'  They are just beginning, in other
places beside Uldale, to seem impertinent.

Sarah's task was harder to-day than her husband's.  About her were
seated, their hoops spreading wide around them, the Misses
Gwendolyn and Frances Brownrigg and the great Mrs. Osmaston.  Mrs.
Osmaston was a tremendous lady, with her high white wig, her
enormous white bosom half naked to the sun, her round white arms.
With all this massive flesh her features were small and tightly
pinched together.  But out of her little mouth a tremendous voice
proceeded, deep and bass like a man's, and with this voice she had
been accustomed for forty years to give commands to all around her,
save only her husband whom she resolutely obeyed.  She was like a
great white whale lying there in the sun.  She had never been out
of Cumberland in her life, and had all the knowledge of and
confident scorn for the rest of the world that such determined
staying-at-home produces.  She had been, both in the '15 and the
'45, an ardent Jacobite, and could never say enough about the
Hanoverian dynasty.  Many of her oaths and similes were of an
excellent coarseness, and she alluded to all the natural processes
of man with much freedom and gusto.  When in good humour, as she
was to-day, she would slap her friends on the back or pinch their
arms or yield them even more familiar gestures.  She often made the
oddest noises, and was, in honest fact, none too cleanly in her
person, so, as her own devoted husband said, ''twas best to sit to
windward of her.'  Better than all else, she loved to discuss the
love affairs of her neighbours and friends, and had, as she said,
'a nose for copulation like the nose of a dog for a hare.'  She
liked Sarah and told her so.  Seated there, her great knees wide-
planted inside her hoop, her fat arms akimbo, she told one bawdy
story after another and was ably abetted by the Misses Brownrigg,
who, being supposedly virgins, had their eyes eternally at the
keyholes of all their neighbours' bedrooms.

Sarah, a woman of her time, was amused by the bawdy stories when
she could keep her ear to them, but she must watch first one side,
then another, to see that all went well, that nobody was offended,
that everyone, even to the smallest child of the least important
labourer, was happy.  But everyone was happy.  Happiness was

Now it was time for the great Football game.  Everyone streamed
towards the upper down where the game was to be.  The goals were
distant nearly half a mile the one from the other.  There were few
rules, if any; all cunning and trickery were at advantage, but
brute force was the greatest power of all.  There were fifty
players a side to start with, although before the game ended there
were nearly a hundred a side.  It was a match between the Uldale
men and the Keswick men, wide latitude allowed for district

It was a superb sight to see the hundred men--farmers, labourers,
townsmen, woodsmen, sailors from the coast, dalesmen, shepherds--
stripped to their smallclothes, rush together with great shouts of
joy and triumph.  The ball rose into the air and at once the battle
began, clumps of men binding together, arms locked, rushing head
down to meet other bands with a great crash of neck and shoulder.

Soon the giants on either side were to be seen.  Willie Peel of
Mungrisdale with his two sons, a mountain of a man, his sons as big
as he, the three rushing forward, the ball at their feet, lesser
men clinging to their sides and buttocks, leaping at their necks,
trying to trip them at the feet, while to meet them came John
Ringstraw and his brother George from Threlkeld, men like bullocks,
crimson of face, thick of neck, with backs like walls.  Willie Peel
meeting John Ringstraw, for a while all lesser men drew back and
watched them hurl themselves the one at the other, arms interlocked,
backs straining, legs planted for a throw, while the air was beaten
with the shouting and all the dogs barked and the shadows lovingly
stroked the sides of Skiddaw.  Then Willie's belt was burst and his
smallclothes were flapping about his ankles; nothing mattered that
to him, and he played for the rest of the game half naked, but the
ball now had passed to a wily little devil, Jock Mounsey from Grange
in Borrowdale, who was away across the downs with the thing at his
feet, half a hundred men after him.

All the downs now rolled like a sea towards the sun and the hills.
Little waves of dark shadows broke the pale primrose glow.  Skiddaw
and Blencathra grew dark, and seemed to billow with gestures of
lazy self-indulgent satisfaction out towards the tender colours of
the May Day sky.

And against this fair scene the battle rose and fell.  Little
Mounsey was for a while detached, a small figure springing along
like a deer, controlling the ball as though it were tied to his
shoestrings, but then the two Grimshaws, stocky shepherds from
Troutbeck, had caught him up.  One of them tripped him and he fell,
but before the ball had turned back to the goal at Skiddaw end half
a hundred men had arrived and thrown themselves upon it.

Here now was a mle in the grand old style, no quarter asked and
no quarter given.  Over the ball in a wriggling, writhing heap
twenty men were lying, and over these another thirty were striving,
while behind them were the outguards, arriving from every part of
the field, and, if they could not reach the central scrimmage,
wrestling and boxing on their own.  So that now there was a grand
and noble sight, this central mass of heaving men, detached groups
of fighters, and the spectators shouting, roaring, the dogs barking
as though they were mad.  The fine ladies themselves cursed and
swore in their interest, and it was all that her husband could do
to prevent Mrs. Osmaston from rushing on to the field of play and
lending assistance.

All is fair in love and war, and no chronicler would dare to
catalogue some of the things that were done in that scrimmage;
shirts were torn from many a back, once and again a head would
rise, as though seeking for the stars, and stare vacantly skywards,
blood pouring, eyes blackened, and once and again, a figure for an
instant stood completely stark and so faced the world in utter
nakedness, like some primeval hero before clothes were.

Then, alive with its own devilry, the ball suddenly emerged and
sped forward, pursued by Willie Peel and one of his sons.  Willie,
his long hair flying, naked to the waist, his shaggy chest broad as
a wall, his eyes on fire, crying his war-cry 'Peel!  Peel!  Hey
Peel!' was well away, the ball at his feet.  Staggering that so
huge a man should run so swiftly and keep the ball at his toe with
so astounding an accuracy, but now he was away from them all, the
field streaming at his feet, and in his size, strength and beauty
he joined partnership with the strength and beauty of the scene,
the grand type of all Cumbrian strength, sureness of purpose,
largeness of grasp, as good as anything the world has seen, and as

The only man in his way was Jock Elliot of Crosthwaite, and he was
a kind of ogre of a man, almost deformed, so short of stature, so
thick, so shaggy, with such long swinging arms.

With a great grin, his little eyes burning under his black
bristling eyebrows, he advanced to meet Willie Peel.  Peel tried to
'slip' him, but, heavy though Elliot was, he was agile too, and was
in front of him.  Their bodies met with a shock that would have
slain two ordinary men and could have been heard, you would swear,
away in the streets of Keswick itself.

The two men drew a breath and closed.  A moment later Peel had
Elliot in his arms, held him as though he loved him dearer than any
woman, and actually raised him from the ground.  Elliot's head was
up.  He seemed to be staring at the heavens as though imploring the
gods to do him this last great service, then, his short legs about
Peel's thighs, he brought him crashing to the ground, himself on
top.  That seemed to end their struggle.  They lay, full length,
one on the other, softly heaving, while the world roared its
approval and, gently, quietly, rosy clouds drifted like miniature
galleons towards the west.

But the ball was out again.  Three men had it and were racing
towards the Uldale goal.  All Uldale drew its breath; soon most of
the remaining audience, save the very aged, were rushing into the
field to join the game.

David too.  He had been all this time like a dog straining at the
leash.  Now stripping off his mulberry coat and flowered vest, he
rushed into the fray.  Peel's two sons were with him.  Together
they raced the field, and David, as he ran, felt that this was
truly the grandest moment of his life, with the wind brushing his
cheeks, the mountains crowding to meet him, the turf strong and
resilient beneath his feet.

He touched the ball; it passed to young Isaac Peel, then over to
Rumney Peel, back to himself again.  He could feel the field
streaming behind him.  Two men were in their way.  David feinted;
the ball obeyed him like a living thing, and now the three of them,
sharing for an instant a comradeship that was as true and strong as
though long companionship had made it, were away, away with only
the hills to meet them.

Skiddaw smiled; Blencathra clapped his hands; all the rosy clouds
sang together; and to the roar of the approving world, the ball
slipped between the posts.

Glorious never-to-be-forgotten moment--and David, turning, throwing
his arms high for victory, saw, quite near to him, above the road,
waiting beside his horse, the figure of his father.

He moved towards him, joyfully greeting him.  Then he paused.
Something very terrible had occurred.  He felt it come, through the
lovely evening air, darkening the sky, dimming the sounds of the
games, removing him to a circle of silence wherein he stood alone
with his father.  Afterwards he remembered that he had thought:
'Why, he's old . . . and a terrible thing has come to him.'

In Herries' voice when he greeted him, however, there was no
tremor, and his hand, in its long black glove, was hard and firm.
His clothes were dark, his face was pale, drawn, as it often was, a
little crookedly.  Whence did David have his sense of some

Herries said, very quietly, but holding his son's hand:

'Davy, has she been here?'

'She? . . .  But who?'

'My wife.'

'Mirabell?  No.  Is she not with you?'

'She left me early this morning, and I must find her.'  The hand in
David's gave a slight quiver.

'Why did she leave you?'

'I cannot say.  But I must find her.'

David put his hand on the other's shoulder and felt an odd pride
that it should be so hard and strong.  All this while he had been
looking into his father's face, and now, beneath the customary
ironical gaze and twisted mouth, he felt such a force of controlled
agony that he dropped his eyes.  He had never yet loved his father
so deeply as now, when he realised that he was unable to help him.

'She cannot have gone far,' he said urgently, longing to do or say
something to assuage that unhappiness.  ''Twas a momentary pique or
resentment.  She had secret moods unlike other women--'

But Herries stopped him, raising his hand and gripping his son's
shoulder so fiercely that David winced.  He wore only his shirt.

'No, it was no pique,' Herries said quietly.  'I had told her that
we would leave Herries because I fancied that she would be happier
so.  She thought it would kill me to leave Herries, so, for my
comfort, she went away.  I must find her that she may understand.'

He turned, stroking his horse's neck.

'Father, I will come with you.  I will sleep with you to-night, and

Herries shook his head, smiling.

'Nay, this is my affair.  You are a good son, Davy.  I shall find
her.  Nothing in heaven or hell shall stay me.'

He mounted his horse.

'Return to your guests.  Farewell.'

He started down the white road and, before he turned the corner,
looked back once and waved his hand.


Very early the next morning, Herries, after bidding farewell to
Benjamin, his servant and friend, started out on his search.





On a sharp clear autumn afternoon of the year 1768, Mr. Simeon
Harness, pastor, schoolmaster, and general man-of-all-work in the
districts of Rosthwaite, Watendlath and Seatoller, climbed to the
top of the Brund Fell and looked appreciatively about him.  With so
little a climb he had reached an elevation of great splendour.  He
was a short, pursy man, normally scant of breath, but for the last
five years he had walked these tops on his daily occupations, and
so friendly and kindly had they come to seem to him that he did not
realise any arduousness in surmounting them.

His own home--two rooms of a farmhouse--was in the hamlet of
Watendlath, the smoke from whose chimneys he could see now lazily
curling beneath him.

He had indeed a fine view.  On these tops you could walk for miles
and scarcely be compelled to descend.  Beloved names came to meet
him as he looked.  Towards Derwentwater, Brown Dodd and Ashness
Fell and High Seat; towards Thirlmere, Armboth and Watendlath Fell;
towards the Langdales, Coldbarrow and Ullscarf and High White
Stones.  The ranges lay all about him in shapes more human than
those of his friends, moulded and formed, now sharply with rocks
and steeples and slanting cliffs of shining colour, then gently in
sheets of flaming bracken lifting to smooth arms and shoulders
embossed like shields of metal.  Wild profusion, and yet perfect
symmetry and order.  One colour faded to another, purple cliff
above orange sea, deeps of violet under shadow of rose, and a great
and perfect stillness everywhere.

When he turned and looked across the valley to Stye Head he saw,
falling over the Gavel and Scafell, ladders of sunlit mist that
were indeed to his devout soul like steps to heaven.  It did not
seem strange to him that, on a sudden call, one should climb these
ladders and so, to the sound of trumpets, pass into that other
glorious company.

He sighed.  He did not wish to pass over.  He supposed that there
was still much work to do, but there were times when his scattered
flock seemed to be past all stirring, when, if he looked back, he
had achieved exactly nothing at all, when the pain in his side,
which had been his constant companion ever since, three years
before, some drunken revellers had in the friendliest of spirits
thrown him off a hayrick, was sharper than he could silently
endure, when his own sins, his ingratitude to God, his liking for
ale, the greed of his stomach, and the sudden sharp temptation of a
handsome woman, mounted crimson-high--on such occasions, in spite
of all fortitude, he sighed for the ladders of God.

He had a round bare face like a baby's, wore a small tie-wig and a
coat and breeches of rusty black, and carried in his hand a worn
copy of Mr. Chapman's translation of the 'Iliad,' which appeared to
him to be, after the Bible, the finest book in the world.

It was his intention, although the afternoon was chill, to sit on
the ground, with his beloved hills all around him, and read.  He
knew that in a short time the peace of the scene would steal about
him and quieten his distresses.  This magical charm had never
failed him.  He sat down, facing the silver ladders, and opened his
book, gathering the skirts of his coat about him for greater warmth
and smiling amiably at the three or four sheep who were tranquilly
grazing near him.

He began to read:

Fires round about them shined,
As when about the silver moon, when air is free from wind,
And stars shine clear, to whose sweet beams, high prospects, and
  the brows
Of all steep hills and pinnacles, thrust up themselves for shows,
And even the lowly valleys joy to glitter in their sight,
When the unmeasured firmament bursts to disclose her light,
And all the signs in heaven are seen that glad the shepherd's
So many fires disclosed their beams, made by the Trojan part,
Before the face of Ilion, and her bright turrets showed.
A thousand courts of guard kept fires, and every guard allowed
Fifty stout men, by whom their horse ate oats and hard white corn,
And all did wishfully expect the silver-thrond morn.

He repeated the phrases aloud that the hills might also enjoy them.

'The lowly valleys joy to glitter in their sight.'  The 'bright
turrets' of Ilion.  The 'hard white corn.'  'The silver-thrond

He was himself something of a poet and had once written an 'Elegy
to Sophia Countess of Balebury,' his one-time patroness.  It had,
of course, never been published, but he showed it once and again to
an intimate.

All very well to be a poet, but when you had but thirty pounds a
year, a pain in your side and a sadly lascivious nature, where was
the time for poetry?  He was concerned too for the country.  The
fate of the American Colonies was dwelling just now heavily on his
conscience, although no others of his friends seemed to be
concerned with it.  Grenville's Stamp Act of three years before had
appeared to him an injustice unworthy of his country's greatness;
but on the other hand he had only now, in a belated news-sheet,
been reading of the episode of the sloop Liberty in Boston and the
abominable riots that followed the seizure of the cargo.  Hard,
hard the ways of this world; so easy would men only love one
another, but that very thing how difficult, as he could see in his
own case, because try as he might he could not love Willie
Richards, the farmer in whose house he lodged, as he truly should.

So he sighed and envied the sheep, then smartly abused himself for
an ungrateful wretch whom God had placed in this marvellous world,
hemming him in with ladders of silver and gold, extending to him
with every new day the signs of His grace and favour, while even
the pain in his side was troublesome but a little and nothing at
all compared with what many poor folk had to suffer.  He could not,
however, return tranquilly to his Homer.  He was sitting on a
natural platform of turf, and now he rose and walked back and
forth, two hands clasped behind his back, his eyes drinking in the
constant change of scene as the light and shadow ran beneath the
sun, his mind biting on its troubles, its successes (as when last
Sunday forenoon he had preached in Keswick market-place to some
hundred souls), its fears and surrenders.

He had just thought that his stomach was queasy and it was time he
made his way down to Watendlath for a meal, when, looking in the
direction of the Pikes, he perceived someone approaching.  This was
a man moving with a remarkably easy and resolute stride, and, as he
came nearer, Mr. Harness saw that he carried on his back a bundle
and in his hand a very stout staff.

The stranger (for Mr. Harness could see at once that it was no one
familiar to him) appeared to hesitate as to his choice of descent;
then, seeing the little clergyman, he came to meet him.

Now, close at hand, he was clearly remarkable for his height, his
strong leanness, his white hair (he wore his own hair, which was
cropped to his neck), and for the unusual character of his
features.  His eyes were large and brilliant, his countenance
haughty and reserved but marked by a deep scar which ran from the
forehead to the upper lip.

So soon as he saw the scar Mr. Harness knew who it must be.  This
was Herries of Herries in Rosthwaite, the extraordinary man who had
gone mad after his wife, a common gipsy woman, left him.  That at
least was the gossip of the valley.  Although Mr. Harness had been
for five years at Watendlath and Herries had been on several
occasions during that period at his home, Mr. Harness had not yet
seen him.

Opinion locally differed as to whether the man were mad or no.
Some said that he had been always crazy since he first came there;
others that he was not mad at all but cursed by God; others that he
was not wicked even, but only a poor soul with whom everything had
gone wrong.  And a few said that he was a good man and generous and
very wise.  It was true at least that after his wife left him
opinion became gentler towards him, and the old term 'Rogue
Herries' had a note of kindliness in it; but it was still said
everywhere that once he had had league with the Devil, had lived
with a witch in his house and, when they drowned her, carried her
home and buried her in his garden.

So, for all these opinions, Mr. Harness was greatly interested to
meet with him.

'Good-day,' he said, smiling.

Herries took off his broad black hat and wiped his forehead.

'It is warm walking,' he said, looking at Mr. Harness with a very
kindly expression in his dark eyes.  His hat off, there was
something indeed very remarkable in his appearance, for his hair
was of a most beautiful snowy whiteness that seemed to catch the
afternoon light.  His face too was brown and spare with health.

'Have you come far, sir?' asked Mr. Harness.

'From Furness.'

'That is a long distance.  By Langdale is shorter.'

The other laughed.  'I am sixty-eight years of age, but have no
sense of it.'

'Sixty-eight!' said Mr. Harness in admiration.  'You are accustomed
to walking, sir?'

'I never knew what true health was before I adopted it.'  Then he
added very simply, 'My name is Herries and I am going to my house
in Rosthwaite.  Perhaps you are yourself going that way?'

'My name is Harness,' answered the other.  ''Tis odd that we have
not met before.'

'I have heard of you, sir,' said Herries.  'We will go together,

As they turned he went on:  'I have been all day alone and shall be
glad of a little company.  'Tis odd how you may walk these hills
for a week and meet no human soul.  There was a time when I
preferred my own company to any man's, but now it may be that I
know my own self too well.'  Then, after a moment's pause, he added
very quietly, 'I have been for a long time in search of my wife who
left me in a misunderstanding five years ago.'

'I have heard something of it,' said Mr. Harness, gravely.

Herries nodded his head.  'I speak of it to everyone I meet, for it
may by chance happen that they have heard of her.'

Mr. Harness was very sympathetic.  He liked this man.

'It is scarcely likely,' he said, 'that she will have remained all
these years in the district.'

Herries nodded.  'Nay, it is not likely.  But the North Country was
her only home.  Though she has gone south for a while she will
return.  Of that I am certain.'  Then, very cheerfully:  'But these
are personal matters; I know did you have news of her from anyone
you would inform me.  I am hoping that she may be at my house,
waiting for me.  I have considerable hope.  It is three months
since I was here, and as this is the only spot of the whole earth
for me it is a great happiness to return.'

'Have you been far, sir?' asked Harness.

'I have been for the first time for many years in London.'

'And pray tell me, sir,' said Mr. Harness, eagerly, 'how did you
find the Town?  I have, alas, never been there, and must trust to
the descriptions of others.'

'I found it grievously altered,' said Herries.  'There is scarce
any of the old Town left.  They are pulling down here and
destroying there until it is pitiful to realise that in a year or
two the character of the Town will be gone.  'Tis this craze for
modernity.  I assure you, sir, there is such a rush and tumble in
these days that one must hesitate to cross the street for the
fierceness of the traffic.

'But what appears to me the most lamentable is that the Town is
losing its character, and might be as modern as the town of New
York for its new buildings, the vulgarity of the people, the craze
for wealth, and the rest.  But indeed, sir, I am an old country
cousin, and 'tis a shock to my system to comprehend that Queen Anne
is truly dead.'

'You spoke of the town of New York,' said Mr. Harness.  'Pray tell
me, did you hear much talk of our American Colonies?'

'Scarce a word.  America is too remote for men to worry over.'

Mr. Harness sighed.  'I fear there is a great injustice there.  We
shall worry before all is done.'  He went on more tentatively:
'And you heard no news of your wife in London?'

'No, sir, I did not.  I had one evening, however, an odd

'Pray let me hear it, sir,' said Mr. Harness.

'I was minded one evening to go to the theatre.  They were playing
the Othello of William Shakespeare.  Before the first act was over
I was conscious that there was a fellow near to me who was aware of
my nearness to him.  I looked again and again, but could see only
his back.  After a while he turned, and I perceived that he bore an
odd resemblance to a fellow many years ago in these parts, a
pedlar, a vagrant who, by accident rather than any design, had
played some part in incidents of my former life here.

'I am a man of no superstitious feeling.  This world is
interpenetrated, we cannot but doubt, with many others, but it is
our business to deal with this one and leave the rest to a future
time.  But it has ever been my misfortune to be dreaming when I
should be most practical, and to see my way cloudily when I should
be most exact.

'The lights were blowing, there was a wind stirring in the theatre,
and I had a strange conviction that in another moment or so I was
to die.  I don't know, sir, how it may be with you, but life has so
tormented me with its riddle that to die without any answer to it
has always seemed to me an exasperating indignity.

'The theatre grew dark to me, the wind blew about my ears, the
candles leaping before my eyes, and the fellow of whom I have
spoken appeared to come close to me and whisper with malicious
amusement in my ear.  The theatre was crowded to my eyes with
dancing figures grotesquely attired, and in the centre of them I
seemed to see my wife begging me to come to her.

'In the increasing uproar of wind and light and many men shouting,
I fought my way towards her, this fellow at my side striving to
prevent me.  With the utmost difficulty, and after much roughness,
I reached her, and, at the touch of her hand and the consciousness
of the great joy that we both were feeling, everything seemed to be
made clear to me.  I wondered that for so long it should have been
so perplexing.  The intensity of that joy made my past life of no
account. . . .  We fell together, our hands clasped, between a
crowd of whirling figures, the candles dancing before our eyes.
Such a mutual death was greater than anything that life had been.
It was in all the experience of a moment, but so vivid that it was
impossible to deny its positive occurrence.  Nevertheless I had not
vacated my seat, nor missed, I fancy, any detail of the play.
When, in my clear mind, I looked for this fellow again he was not

'It was a dream,' said Mr. Harness gravely.  'God has many fashions
of making Himself clear to us.'

'Well, well,' Herries answered briskly, with a smile.  'It may be
so.  But I doubt the benevolence of your God.  He is plaguily
roundabout in His plans for serving us, nor have I found life so
sweet that I am minded to thank Him so heartily for what He has
done for me.'

'It may be,' said Mr. Harness, 'that sweetness is not its purpose,
but rather a very varied experience for the growth of our poor
wisdom.  The beauties of Nature and the unexpected nobility of man
under severe trial are sufficient justification for living, to my

Herries answered quietly:  'An God will give me my wife again, I
will ask Him for no further justification.'

They were reaching now the foot of the Fell and approaching the
road.  It was plain that with every step Herries' pleasure at
returning to his home was increasing.  They turned left towards
Rosthwaite, and walked very happily together along the path that
ran down above the river bed.  It was a beautiful evening of great
quietness; the air smelt sweetly, and the sky was rosy above the

Mr. Harness, thoroughly at ease with his companion, talked freely
on his affairs, how the pain in his side troubled him, and how his
appetite was shamefully strong, and he had been drunk ten days
back, and sung, he was afraid, a number of lascivious songs.  But
the Devil was always round the corner with a remarkable knowledge
of each individual's weakness.  They parted in great friendliness,
and Herries went on up to his house.

At the entrance to the little court he hesitated.  Dusk was coming
rapidly now, and he could see only dimly the stone wall, and beyond
it the huddled dark mass of the house, its line ragged against the
sky.  A little wind had come with the evening, and was whistling
and whining over the ground, a tune so familiar to him in its thin
desolation, mingled as it was with the rhythm of running water and
the chill of oncoming night, that it was like the hand-grip of a
friend.  But it was not the wind to which he was now listening.
How often, during these last years, he had waited thus on his

Sometimes he had been absent only a week, sometimes months, and
once, directly after her flight, nearly a year had passed.  Always
the same.  Listening, his hand on the gate that was swinging now on
its hinges, because he must postpone a little longer the moment
when he would put it to the test whether she were waiting for him
or no.  One day it would be--of that he had no doubt--but how soon?
How soon?  Could he endure this time the blow of the disappointment?
He set back his shoulders, looked up to the last yellow strands
that struck like whips across the darkening sky, then went forward
with a firm tread.

The door was open.  He could see the familiar things, the old
armour, the yellow-faced clock like a moon against the shadow, and
he could hear the sounds, the clock's voice, a banging door
monotonously complaining, and the stir that there was always about
the old house, rats in the wainscot, maybe, and the dust of the
years sifting from ceiling to floor.

She was not here.  He knew it instantly.  Never mind; she would
come--if not now, another time.  To-morrow, soon, it could not be
long delayed.  So he went slowly up the old creaking stairs, stood
in the dark hall, and then shouted for Benjamin.  He was suddenly
very weary, dropped his bundle and stick on the floor, and sank
into the armchair by the fireplace.

Soon he heard Benjamin come clambering up the stairs.  A moment
after, Benjamin was in the doorway, holding two lighted candles,
his face wreathed in smiles.

'Master!  Master!  You're back!'

He set the candles on the table, and came over with his old
familiar rolling gait like a shapeless porpoise.  His face was
round like the moon, he had three chins now, and a belly that hung
over his stout legs like a pillow, but he was not soft.  His hair
was short and erect on his head, his eyes wore their old expression
of sound surprise, and on his nose there was the same old brown
wart.  The same!  Of course he was the same!  It was as though
Herries had taken him with him on his travels.  He came to his
master, and his master greeted him with his old gesture, pulling
him towards him, pinching his cheek, then driving him away again
with a smack and a gentle kick.

'Well, old ass, old noddle, with us again . . . with us again. . . .
The world over, and thy round face always behind the candles--
Satan be thanked for it!'

Benjamin went on his knees and pulled off his boots, looking up
once and again into Herries' face with a pleasure that was none the
less precious for being simple.  Herries rested his hand on the
broad back.  So she had not come, she was not here.  One more delay--
how many yet would he endure?

He drove it from him.

'Food, fire, drink, Benjamin.  There has been no one here?'

'Master David, master.  Miss Deborah once.  Statesman Peel . . .'

'Aye; more of that in a moment.  Has Mrs. Benjamin a fowl or can
slaughter one?  Has she a pie?  I could eat thy own chaps, thou
monstrous swine.'

The man sat back on his haunches.

'My wife is gone, master.'

'Gone!'  Herries sat back astonished.  'What!  A-whoring!'

'No, poor woman.  She's dead.'

'Dead!  Dead!  Why? how? when?'

''Twas Midsummer Night.  She'd had a pain in her belly.  I'd cursed
her for a whining woman, and told her I'd take a whip to her,
always moaning about her belly as though she'd a child there and
was eight months gone.  But it was real enough.  She wasted day
after day to the thinness of a hickory stick.  She wouldn't eat,
she who could swallow a leg of mutton and a beef pie quicker than
any woman.  And she was gentle--terribly gentle and forgiving.  I
cursed her for that too, but she could do nothing with it.  "My
temper's gone down with my belly," poor soul, she'd say.  Mother
Dawlish of Stonethwaite physicked her.  There's no one finer.  She
has herbs from Solomon's time, they say.  But 'twas no use.  Comes
Midsummer Night, as fine and warm an evening as you could search
for, but she was mortal cold and would lie in my arms, a thing
she'd not wished for these many years.  She had never been a loving-
tempered woman, and would always be in a tantrum if I wanted to
press her a bit.  But now she was there, with my arms round her and
a mighty pain in her belly, poor thing, and as fine and warm a
night of stars and moonshine as you'd wish for.  She was wandering
at the last, wanting a green nettle to tickle Tom Prommice that
she'd had a mind to be married to before I plagued her.  Aye, all
she wanted was a green nettle and I had none for her, and so she
passed, with the moon coming in at the window, there in my arms.'

'Why, poor old Benjamin!'  Herries drew him closer, enclosing his
neck with his hand.  'You are alone--and I also.  And since then,
there has been no one with you in the house?'

'No one, master, and many's the night I've thought I've heard her
tread--lop-lop-lop, heavy-heavy-heavy, and then a kind of skitter-
skatter with the flop of her slipper.  I've risen from my bed to
look for her, but it's been the wind or the rain coming in through
the roof at the left end there.'

'So we're alone here.'

'None the worse for that.'  Benjamin straightened himself and rose.
'I'll light the fire and have a grand meal for you.'

Herries nodded.  'And you need no woman to help you?'

Benjamin turned near the door.  'We shall do without women.  I'm
wise now, so that I'd rather have my sleep than a woman.  That's
what life teaches you.'

Well, thought Herries, life hadn't taught him that yet.  Quietly,
as he often did, in an attitude of cool dispassion, he considered
this longing for Mirabell.  What was it that drove him?  Certainly
not lust.  That it had never been.  Certainly not self-pity or fear
of loneliness.  In one sense he had never been lonely, in another
he had never been anything else.  What was it, this hunger?  He
supposed that in human beings there was always through life this
search for fulfilment, and through life to death most men never
found it.  They managed well enough without it, had no time to
speculate, snatched at whatever substitutes they could find and
made the most of them.

But with some men this search was ceaseless.  It would for ever be
the theme of all their days.  The poets made poetry of it, the
conquerors hacked kingdoms out of it, the madmen plaited straw in
their hair.  He had been one of these.  It had never let him rest,
and when he saw Mirabell the question was answered for him.  He had
loved her in the only true sense of love, that of finding
completion in another soul and remaining settled there like a
kernel in the heart of a nut.  Everything moved by law whether
there were a God or no, and this was a law, as certain and ordered
as the movement of the stars, that he should love Mirabell.  Did
she love him, then the order was completed, and one more fragment
of perfect movement was added to the multiplicity of the rest.  But
she did not.  She had never loved him for a single moment.  So here
was another jangled piece of disorder added to all the others.

He had had a strange life, not, he thought, an unhappy one.  It had
been too interesting for that, but it was a fierce business,
ferocious in its wildness, surprising in its beauty, ironical in
its foolishness, mysterious in its purpose, but always invigorating,
powerful, infinitely worth while.

He watched old Benjamin light the fire, smiling to himself to think
that after all this life, this struggle, these passions,
rebellions, and desires, this should be all that was left to him,
this old fat man who was like a dog in appetite, lack of vision,
and fidelity.  Oh, and David also.

'So my son has been here?' yawning in sleepiness.

'Mr. David has been here, master, and once he brought his babies
with him.'

'How do they grow?'

'Grand children, fat and greedy.'

'And how is my son?'

'Not a more content man in the county, master.  "Well, Benjamin,"
says he, "how scrub does this place look!  It wants a pail of
water," says he, "and the doors are all loose on their hinges!"
"Well, Mr. David," says I, "it is a tolerable place for Master and
me because we're at ease in it," says I, "and 'tis better to be
where you're at ease, however scrub it may be, than in a palace
where there's no small-beer nor a bull-baiting."  "Why, Benjamin,"
says Mr. David, "you're a philosopher."  "I leave that to the
master," says I, "and suit my bottom to my own stool."  But he's
always friendly.  He's a smiling gentleman, and they say he has a
fine house.  I've not been there myself, though he's asked me.'

'Aye, he has a sound imagination,' said Herries, 'and a sound
belly.  Phantoms and apparitions are not in his company, and he's
the happier for it.  I'm glad he's well.'

'So am I too,' said Benjamin, happy to see his master so cheerful,
'for he is a grand strong man, and can wrestle any other in the
county, and he's breeding a grand family that will last to
Judgement Day, I should think.'

When the food came Herries made Benjamin sit down beside him, and
told him of some of his adventures.  The old man had a great ear
for marvels.  Nothing was too miraculous for him to believe.
Herries told him how he had seen in London a man with a furry tail
that stuck out of his breeches, and a woman with a beard to her
waist.  Also a mermaid in a tank of water.

Benjamin sighed, watching to see whether Herries was relishing his

'A mermaid!  That's a woman with a fish tail.  I've heard of such.
And what would be her issue, master, after lying with a man?  Fish,
think you?'

'More mermaids,' said Herries.  'They sing so sweetly that no man
can resist embracing them.'

'Did the one you saw sing, master?'

'She was melancholy, poor creature, being a captive, and did
nothing but sigh, and the tears poured down her cheeks.'

''Tis a shame,' said Benjamin, banging the table, 'to keep them for
a show.  Why did you not break the tank, master, and plunge her
into the sea again?'

'I'm no knight-errant any more, Benjamin.  I have lost my fire.'

'Not a bit of it, master,' said Benjamin cheerfully.  'You shall
see how merry the two of us shall be here.  I can cook to your
fancy, and the trees are growing and I've got bricks round the
chimney, and the horses are in fine trim.  You shall see how grand
everything will be!'

Left alone, Herries lay back and looked at the fire, strange
thoughts crowding on to him; the scenes of the last months, lonely
hillsides, crowded inns, the noise and smells of streeted towns,
lights and flares, clouds and wind, odd voices and shouting
strangers, all the bustle of a world.  He had not been unhappy in
it.  There had been something as spectator that had pleased his
ironic fancy, and there had been always the driving passion of his
unresting search.  But that other earlier life, now so remote--
pictures now crowded about him--the mad restless life at Doncaster,
the arrival at Keswick, and poor old Pomfret with his oaths and
nervous violence, the night ride out to his house, poor Margaret,
Alice Press. . . .

His visions stopped there.  He drove them back.  Of what use?  All,
all had been a preparation for Mirabell.  He saw her, a tiny child
clinging to her mother in the noise of the Christmas games,
standing beside him on Honister, speaking to him shyly in Carlisle:
'I wanted to tell you . . . I love someone . . .', that fearful
moment when, above the dead body of her lover, she turned, not
seeing him, staring into the face of her tragedy, the marriage-day,
in the little Chapel, afterwards the huddle of the villagers
tumbling down the stairs, and again when he had carried her to
their bed . . . these too he must drive back.  But his longing he
could not control.  His longing for nothing more than her presence.
Were she here now, sitting opposite him at the fire, he would not
pester her for love.  Were she returned, he would never speak to
her of love again--only that she should be there!

He smiled at his old age, his white hair: he as a lover!  But this
love had nothing to do with age nor with physical strength nor with
beauty.  He did not love Mirabell for her beauty.  She was not
beautiful.  She was not clever, nor had she the arts of the woman.
But she was his wife, his child, his mistress, his friend, and he
felt a kind of triumph because nothing could rob him of this, his
only feeling for her that death itself would not destroy.

If only for five minutes he might speak to her he was sure that he
could persuade her to stay with him.  There was nothing now to
frighten her.  He did not want her now to love him, that is, if she
truly could not.

But at the thought of the bliss that it would be if she loved him,
his heart beat so thickly that he could sit still no longer.  He
tried to rise, to find that one of his legs would not stir.  The
pain was so sharp and so sudden that he cried out.  A wave of pain
covered his body.  He thought that he would faint.  Then, while he
gritted his teeth, it passed again.  Benjamin returning at that
moment, he called out to him to help him.

'Why, master, are you lame?'  The old man helped him up.

'Aye; take me to bed.  I'm old.  This leg failed me a sennight
back.'  But he grinned at the top of the stairs.  His leg was
better again.

'That won't beat me.  But see me to my bed, and talk your nonsense,
old fool.  I'll not have ghosts in my room to-night.'

And Benjamin, whose mind was literal, told him how the old woman
Carpenter of Grange had been chased in Cumma Catta Wood by the
ghost of the old witch Wilson, who had barked like a dog, and flame
had come from her mouth.

'She will not plague me,' said Herries.  'I carried her in my
breast once for all her witchcraft.'

He kept Benjamin at his side far into the night.




Sarah Herries one fine summer day had a tea-party.  Not by her own
intent.  She had but recently risen from the delivery of her third
child, William Benedict Herries, who was born on a damp day in
June, 1770.  Why Benedict, said everyone?  No one knew.  Sarah
thought it a nice name, and David was so happy at having another
son that he didn't care what they called him.  Why was David so
happy?  He had two children already, and children are, they say,
very expensive.  They were not so expensive then.  There were more
servants, much more space, much more indifference to infant
complaints.  Children wailed, were not attended to, ceased wailing.
But David cared nothing for expense.  Here was another Herries.  He
saw himself in the role of Abraham with Herries scattered about him
like the sands of the sea.

Sarah did not mind.  This was to be the last of her children and
she would have been sad had she known.  She was strong, resolute,
happy, maternal.  This was the grand time of her life.

Squire Osmaston and his wife rode over on this fine summer day, and
the O'Briens happened to be out in their new carriage.  This was a
year or two before the Carlisle Post Coach, which went from
Carlisle to London in three days.  The world was opening up.  You
could travel so fast now that there was no escaping a neighbour,
did he wish to see you.  So fast, but not so securely.  The
O'Briens had a house between Carlisle and Bassenthwaite.  They had
come ten miles in their carriage and were shaken to pieces although
this was summer weather and the roads were dry.  They were shaken
but proud.  The Squire and his lady had ridden over on two enormous
horses who looked, as young Maurice O'Brien whispered to their
friend, Colonel Assheton-Bolitho-Carmichael, who had ridden over
with them, like 'animals out of the Mythology.'  The gentlemen were
drinking in the parlour while the ladies sat in the garden
sheltered from the winds by a charming little Gothic temple which
Sarah, who was sharing the universal taste for Gothic, had had

So there they were.  David was unfortunately in Borrowdale, where
he had been staying the night with his father.  Sarah, warned by
her maid Nellie, who had spied the chaise, had quickly changed her
house-work clothes for a large orange hoop and an upper dress of
silver which suited her very handsomely.  Mrs. O'Brien and her two
daughters, Katherine and Olivia, were very finely dressed, so
finely that they took up most of the space in the temple, but Mrs.
Osmaston had on a muddy riding-suit, her wig awry, and her hat on
anyhow.  She sat as usual with her legs spread, her hands on her
hips, looking like the Wife of Bath, temp. 1770.

Sarah enjoyed it all hugely.  She loved to have friends about her,
to play hostess, to sit in her own grounds with her house at her
back, to know that her children were well, the cows in the paddock
not ailing and her own bodily vigour returning to her at last after
some very languid weeks.  Talk, talk!  What were they talking

About a boil on the Osmaston back, about clothes in Carlisle, about
the incredible impertinence of servants and the high vails that
they everywhere demanded, about Miss Nancy Souper of Hardcross and
her illegitimate baby that she'd had of a local doctor, about a
shepherd who had been hanged last week for stealing two halters and
a hammer, about colds and chills, about everything in the world and
nothing at all.

The new baby was brought out for inspection and was considered
strong, healthy and the spit of his father.  The baby, who was
withdrawn howling, led to a very animated discussion of the
comparative virtues of Doctor James's Powder and Bishop Berkeley's
Tar-Water.  Dr. James's Fever Powder, nothing could rival it.  It
had saved the lives of Royalty, was good for everything from
smallpox to distemper.

The powder rose in a happy cloud before the ladies' eyes.  Of a
sudden, life was secure and confident.  Incredible that anyone
should ever die!  Mrs. O'Brien (whose voice was small, very
precious, as though every utterance were worth its weight in gold)
gave it as definite fact that between the year 1750 (when the
powder first began to be in reputation) and the close of the year
1763 fewer had died, upon an average, than in any preceding
thirteen years, upon which Mrs. Osmaston, kicking out her leg,
scratching her dirty wig and barking like a dog, remarked that this
was no virtue in a powder.  For her part this business of keeping
Inconsiderable People alive when they were greatly better dead was
vastly overdone.  The world was largely too filled with unnecessary
persons.  In the good old times, which were better in every way
than the present, when someone ailed, if he or she were of a sickly
constitution the illness finished them, and a good thing too, for
who wished the countryside to be peopled with ailing imbeciles who
were for ever about to be ill or recovering from illness and a
nuisance to everyone about them?  Had she had her way she would
have strangled Dr. James at birth and saved this world a monument
of trouble and expense.

Mrs. Osmaston always grew vigorous in the open air.  Houses stifled
her.  She was only really happy with dogs and horses, men who told
her bawdy stories and ladies with whom she might exchange scandal.
Her heart, however, was kindly and generous, her life a constant
protest against the conventions of a ridiculous society.  It was
told of her that when the Squire in her own village had put a girl
in the family way, and the girl was turned out by her drunken but
virtuous father, she had taken the girl into her own house and
nursed her until she was well again.

What was life to her? a succession of following the hounds,
tramping the fells after the fox from dawn to dark, eating and
drinking vast quantities of everything, bullying and loving her
thick-hided husband, scolding her friends, crying over Clarissa,
chatting with every huntsman and stable-boy in the district,
driving all her household to church of a Sunday and encouraging the
parson to be drunk after dinner.

Mrs. O'Brien was a sententious and sentimental woman with all the
belief of her time in capital letters.  Mrs. Osmaston shocked her
very deeply and she could not forbear to say:

'Why, Alicia, to speak so destructively you condemn both our Maker
and His Divine Purposes.  Why should we practise the virtues of
Compassion and Indulgence on behalf of our Fellows if this world is
not an Education and an Improver of our frailties?  Olivia, my
love, turn your cheek.  The sun is catching it.'

'I cannot for my part,' said Mrs. Osmaston, 'do with your
Sensibilities and Virtues.  We are not put here to be Virtuous, but
to cause as little trouble to our fellow-mortals as may be.  And
the proof is that if you have a flea down your back you think
nothing of your Sensibility but off with your smock and snap him
between finger and thumb.'

Both the O'Brien girls tittered at this.  Mrs. Osmaston was so very
droll!  Olivia was all Sensibility, but Katherine inclined towards
dogs and horses and a drink with the gentlemen.  They both despised
their mother, but feared her.  Underneath her sensibilities she had
an iron hand.

'We have had,' said Mrs. Osmaston, who enjoyed teasing Mrs.
O'Brien, 'the oddest cousin from London.  He would have pleased you
mightily, Julia.  He was all sensibility.  He was in raptures over
every country sight.  He was ever talking of the Elysian fields and
"gentle showers" and "rivers of dew."  A sheep sent him into
ecstasies.  He was all for discovering hillocks and haycocks and
dusky trees.  At the last he was discovered lying under a haycock
with a milkmaid, where his processes were, I don't doubt, as
ordinary as though he'd been fiddling with a chambermaid in
Piccadilly.  But his hair was all straw and he was whipped through
the fields by a jealous shepherd, so his experiences were at the
last sufficiently Arcadian.'  Mrs. Osmaston roared with laughter,
slapping her thighs.  'The shepherd had his breeches down and
whipped his bare skin, so that he could not sit to cards that
evening.  He returned to town next day and is the less Arcadian for
his visit.'

All the ladies laughed and had anecdotes of a similar kind to
furnish, and then there must arise the accustomed arguing as to the
relative virtues of Mr. Fielding and Mr. Richardson.  Those two
gentlemen entered the Gothic temple, their spirits comfortably
enjoying the salubrious air and the female society.  Mr. Fielding
liked the pretty Olivia best, with her pink and white, her air of a
rakish prude and her fine legs (which, being a spirit, he could
plainly discern under the lemon-coloured hoop), and little Mr.
Richardson preferred Mrs. O'Brien who was after his own heart.

'But Grandison!' cried Mrs. O'Brien, 'how tenderly imagined, how
proudly conceived!  What Ideal Behaviour and Constant Fidelity!'
and Mr. Richardson planted a kiss on her broad brow which seemed to
her like the tickling of a fly so that she brushed the place with
her hand.

'A ---- for your Grandison!' said Mrs. Osmaston very coarsely.
'Now Jones is the man for my money and for Katherine's too, I don't
doubt.  What, Katherine!  Would you let Jones touzle you were he
here?  Would you beat Sophia out of the field, girl?  I'll wager if
your mother's back were turned you'd not hesitate.'

It was well perhaps that the gentlemen were coming across the lawn.
Squire Osmaston was drunk and Mr. O'Brien nearly so.  They were
singing a hunting catch which rang prettily through the summer air,
but they hushed as they drew close to the temple.

Mrs. Osmaston rose to control her lord and master.

'You're drunk, Peter, and will never reach home in safety.'

He staggered a little, then slapped her fat neck with a hearty

'I'm a little drunk and a little sober.  My good horse Robin knows
how to carry me.  I have not been drunk for a week past and, for
that, my fair hostess will forgive me.'

Everyone was readily forgiven on so lovely a summer evening.  They
all moved to the road where the fine new chaise was vastly admired
and the two enormous horses solemnly held by Ralph, David's farm
man.  The scene was thick with gold dust like a bee's wing and the
trees smelt of honey.

The chaise was away first with a great waving of arms and shouting
of good-byes.  Before she mounted her charger Mrs. Osmaston put her
stout arm round Sarah's neck and embraced her.

'I am fond of you, my dear.  I am a foolish, old woman who chatters
a world of nonsense, but there's a bed for you and a horse to ride
with us any time you desire it.  Now then--huppety-hup--'  With a
leap she was in the saddle and settled there as though she were
part of the horse's anatomy.  The Squire too, drunk though he might
be, had no trouble in mounting, and a fine pair they made, facing
the country as though they were king and queen of it.

The Squire had some last confidential word.  'There's a tale,' he
said to Sarah, looking at her solemnly from the back of his horse,
'a damnably good tale that I must tell your husband.  'Tis a tale
of an orange and Mrs. O'Brien's pet monkey.  'Tis the wittiest,
handsomest . . .'

'Whoop!' cried Mrs. Osmaston, giving his horse a whack with her
whip, and off they went down the road, a cloud of dust behind them
and the sky golden over their heads.

The horses' hoofs rang on the road, then peace resumed its power.

Sarah walked a little while in her garden before going into the
house.  Although the sun, a smiling gold penny, had almost perched
its chin now on the ledge of the hills, the air was yet richly warm
and the cool of the evening mingled with it most freshly.

All the sounds were of the summer evening, bees were yet humming,
the men were calling to the cows, and a thrush was singing from the
thick luxury of an oak tree as though it had but just come into the
noblest of fortunes.  Sarah's heart beat with the conscious
appreciation of the goodness of life.  She could not believe that
she was thirty-two!  Thirty-two!  Thirty-two!  And she knew old
ladies in Keswick with Brussels caps on their heads not a day over
thirty.  But she was younger now than she had ever been.  In those
hard years with her uncle she had been old.  She saw herself as a
child of fifteen, standing before one of his infernal rages and
calculating with the wizened wisdom of an old witch how she would
drive him into a certain position and make a bargain with him
there.  Her youth had begun with that almost miraculous appearance
of David there in the Wasdale Inn.  She had loved him at sight, and
thrown herself at his head and won her liberty.

But afterwards, over that last scene on the Pass, a cloud hovered.
There had been something evil then.  She had hated her uncle, she
had owed him nothing, he had not cared what misery he had planned
for her, but still in his death there had been a cloud of evil.
She would never be quite free of it.

For a moment the garden had been darkened and the humming of the
bees dimmed, but she was of too healthy a nature to prolong any
morbidity, and so, singing to herself, her strong freshly-coloured
body moving freely in its orange and silver, she walked her garden.

She loved this place because it was so open.  Although in the
manner of the time the garden was a little arranged with its
temple, box hedges and ornamental paths, yet it ran boldly into
open country, the down rising above it on the one side, the road
running under the hills on the other.  But she loved it in reality
because it was the home of her husband and her babies.  She was all

David was her child more than her lover.  She understood him now,
she thought, with completeness.  She had all the woman's tender
irony at the ridiculous things that seemed to him important, at his
absorption in minutiae; she had, too, the woman's almost jealous
envy at his ability to throw off his moods, to forget his passions,
to take everything with a light mind.

Was there anything for which men finally cared?  David loved her,
of course, but a little as a child loves its mother.  If another
child calls him to play a game, off he goes, forgetting his mother
until he needs her again.  But Sarah had a great understanding and
a splendid gift for taking things as they were.  She did not wish
David to be different in anything, but were he different she would
suit herself to his condition.  Standing under the oak tree,
looking over to Skiddaw's sprawling shoulders, she speculated a
little as to how it would have been if David had had his father's
temperament.  She did not understand Francis, and yet felt that
perhaps at the last she could have understood him better than did
any other.

He was old now, but finer, more striking than he had ever been,
with his white hair and long nervous figure, of which every part
seemed to be imaginatively alive.  She could not understand that he
should love someone desperately, without end, for ever.  David
would not.  Did she die he would never forget her, would care for
her always, but he would marry again and be happy, and the second
wife would listen to his plans and share his activities, and be
mother of his children just as she was.  The knowledge did not make
her sad.  All she wanted was that he should be happy, happy always
and vigorous always and noble-hearted always.

Smiling at the thought of him, she went into the house to her
children.  They were brought down to the parlour.

Francis was ten and Deborah eight.  Deborah was as sweet-natured
and unselfish and happy as Francis was reserved and driven in upon
himself.  Both were pretty children, Francis very dark, slim,
aristocratic, never familiar with anyone, fearless, but oddly
tempered.  He would be distressed for no reason, happy for no
reason.  He liked best to be by himself.  Whether he was fond of
his father Sarah could never be sure.  He allowed his father to
play with him, responded to his father's demands on him, was for
the most part obedient.  He did not appear, though, to miss him
when he was absent, nor showed excitement on his return.

He adored his mother.  With her he was not demonstrative, but you
could tell that everything she said or did worked in his own bosom
responsively, and he would watch her, when he thought that she was
not looking, with loving meditative eyes.

Deborah, on the other hand, loved everyone, and gave herself to
everyone.  She had no self-consciousness, no pose for effect, no
selfish motive in anything.  She was like any other child in small
things--temper, disappointments, aggravations--but everything was
quickly over.  The serenity of her temperament carried her always
on a calm sea.  She was as fair as her brother was dark, like her
father in that, although slender and delicately made.  David
worshipped her.

In the parlour they were endlessly happy.  There was the China
wallpaper, with the white and blue pagodas, temples, bridges and
flowers.  There was the spinet at which their mother sang.  There
was the cabinet with the silver boxes and gold chairs and little
Chinese figures.  There was the music-box with the King and Queen
on its lid, who marched to the tinkling tune.  There was the
animated carpet with the battle worked on it--cannon firing, horses
rearing, Captains waving on their men; and there was the comfit-box
with the sugared cherries and the cakes of marzipan.

This evening young Francis stood at the window watching the sunset
fall over Skiddaw.  He was like his grandfather in this at least,
that he could not have enough of this country.  He had not as yet
seen much of it; but now, as he looked out, he was swearing to
himself that he would not rest until every stone and tree of it was
revealed to him.  What did he see there if he looked hard enough?
The mountains opened, and, carried by the wind, you struck with
your golden shoes the centre of a group of hills like men watching
you.  Here was a pool, icy and black, and suddenly into the middle
of it there plunges a beautiful white horse. . . .

''Tis the white horse,' he cried excitedly, turning from the window
to Deborah.

'A white horse?' asked Sarah, thinking of a new shawl, the gold
buttons of David's coat, whether Mrs. Osmaston ever wore a clean
wig, and if not why not, and why David was not returned.

'Why, yes, Mama. . . .  We told you.  The ice breaks and it swims
to the shore.'

Some story, she supposed, that Mrs. Monnasett, nurse, housekeeper
and general confidante, had been telling them.  Mrs. Monnasett
needs many pages to herself, but cannot have them--with her passion
for plums, her belief in witches and centaurs, and her play-acting,
so that, give her a handkerchief and a deal board, and she can be
Cleopatra, Jane Shore and Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu without shifting
her wig.  But did anyone suppose that David or Sarah made Uldale,
made the children, made the sun turn grey before an East wind, and
the milk sour before thunder?  No, no.  It was all Mrs. Monnasett.

And now it was time for the children to hear the music-box and to
have one sugared cherry apiece.  Francis listened to the tune and
saw five small negroes in gold-laced jackets dance across the
carpet.  One carried an ivory cane with a blood-red knob to it, and
he had only one eye.  Where the other eye should have been. . . .
So he suddenly began to shudder, to shudder and shiver and tremble.
He knew now that he would see that empty place where the eye should
be all night, so quite without warning and quite foolishly he was
sick on the carpet.

Sarah could not understand it.  She had never been sick in her
life.  Perhaps Mrs. Monnasett would understand.  She was better
with Francis than was anyone else.

'After one tune he was sick. . . .'

Francis lay, very small and very white, in his four-poster that had
green curtains with roses.

Mrs. Monnasett, so large that she filled the room, her black hoop
billowing about her, a silver chain rising and falling on her
breast, took his hand, and continued her fairy-story about Queen
Anne.  'But the Princess was resolved to see the Queen, although
she had only a rag upon her, so she said to the Lord-in-Waiting,
who was fingering his snuff-box made of one green emerald, "Sir,
there is a spider in the Queen's closet."  Now if there was
anything that Her Majesty had a distaste for 'twas a spider, as
everyone in the Court knew, and only a week back five hundred and
thirty-one spiders had been thrown into the kitchen fire, and made
such a smoke that the Royal Cook had turned a dish of Peacock into
a Canterbury Pudding by the misfortune of the smoke blinding her
eye.  Therefore the Lord-in-Waiting hastened as swiftly as his
stout legs would carry him, and the Princess, following. . . .'

Sarah, sitting awhile to watch that the boy was comfortable,
wondered what Mrs. Monnasett's history might be.  No one knew.  She
had been living for several years in a little green cottage outside
Keswick when Sarah met her, and had herself suggested that she
should come to Uldale, for 'I love children,' said she, 'and am
never happier than in their company.'  And so indeed it seemed, for
she had no interest at all in Society, but cared only for being
with the children, and talking to her little white dog, Mr. Pope,
and eating as many sweet cakes as she could find.  'Which is the
reason of her great stoutness,' thought Sarah, but she was truly a
Blessing for the house, and long might she remain.

David was home.  She could hear him calling 'Sarah!  Sarah!', so
she hurried downstairs, and he was there in the parlour, larger
than ever before perhaps.  He was delighted to see her, but gave
her that kiss which husbands give their wives when they have been a
long while married and are thinking of someone else.

'You would not consider him fifty years old,' thought Sarah
proudly.  His brown tie-wig was pushed back a little from his
forehead, and he slapped his great thigh.

'Here is Paradise.  Here, come.'  He sat down in the big chair and
she sat close to him, her hand on his knee.  'I'll tell you, I hope
you were frightened out of your senses for me because I did not

Sarah smiled.  'I am never frightened when you are away, but I had
a party, and you were sadly missed.'

'Aye, that for certain,' he grinned.  'But I have the ague and the
fever and the toothache as well.  That house is of paper, and will
be blown away with the first wind, and there my father sits with
old Benjamin on his hams beside him, listening to every mouse in
the passages.'

'How is he, Davy?'

'Oh, well enough.  He was but just returned from another of his
journeys.  He is crazed, and yet he is not crazed.  He is as
content, I believe, as ever he was in his life, but he will never
rest until he has found her, although what he will do with her when
he has found her no one can tell.  But he will never find her.  She
is dead or gone abroad or changed into an apple tree.  But he is
resolved that she will return.'

'He and Benjamin are quite alone?'

'They sit like a pair of quarrelling lovers.  "You shall have veal
to-day, master," says Benjamin.  "I shall not," says my father.
"But you shall," says Benjamin, and he gives him veal and my father
beats him.  And all the while the house rocks and mumbles, and the
mice sit on the tables and the rain beats through the ceiling.  And
next week he will be off again and walk a hundred miles, asking of
every sheep has he seen his wife.  But he is sane enough.  He began
with me, examined me on all the family, and confounded me with his
knowledge.  He has been, too, to see Deb's two boys, and can tell
you where they are in Arithmetic, and that Deb has a new China
piece in her cabinet and a black cat with no tail.'

'Will he not come here for a week and have good food and a warm

'He does not want good food nor a warm bed neither.'

Sarah sighed, then, looking up at David, laughed.

'How is it that he is your father and you so different?'

'I am not so different.  We have a great bond of common feeling.
'Tis odd, Sarah, but I am more comfortable with him than with any
other human on the globe, save yourself.  I have a feeling, Sarah,
that if Mirabell were to return and give him satisfaction by loving
him, and they to settle down together, he would become very like

That was clever of him, thought Sarah, who, like all loving wives,
wanted always to prove him strong in the direction where he was
undoubtedly weak.

They began then, sitting very close together, to gather all the
tiny important things--Davy's toothache, how Molly the mare had
cast a shoe, whether Forrest the head farm man was lazier than was
natural, the eternal mystery of Mrs. Monnasett, and so to Francis
who had been sick on the carpet for no reason, and thence to the
baby Will who had chewed his coral--and through it all their
happiness, their security, their mutual trust, their luck that they
had one another.

And David the Patriarch--this is the last view of him just now--
staring into the Chinese pagodas, the bridges and the Immortal
Temple, sees a Great Tree stretching to heaven, and hanging from
its million branches Herries, and Herries, and Herries.

Beneath the tree lies England--her valleys, her rivers, her great
cities, and the rocks of her invincible coast--and over England the
Tree beneficently stretches its green shade.

There are enough Herries here for a thousand years, and who is that
so fatherly protective on the topmost branch?

Who but David himself?  He draws Sarah close to him and, with his
broad arm around her, kisses her.

But it is England that he is embracing.


FEB. 4, 1772

The Peel Towers have faded, the refugees from Culloden are bones
beneath the turf, the poet Gray has more than three years back
'dined with Mrs. Buchanan on trout and partridges,' and Herries has
stayed, rested his bundle on the slope of the hedge, and stood with
his back to a friendly oak to settle in his mind whether there be
three roads or one stretching before him in the dim February light.

His fever, which had become by this quite a friendly companion to
him, often brought him to such an uncertainty.  He called it his
Fever because he did not know what other name to give to it.  It
came and went as it pleased, having quite a cheerful and
independent life of its own.  You could never tell what it would be

It gripped him in its strong arms at any time, and supplied for him
the queerest fancies.  You could scarcely call it a sickness,
because, although it weakened his limbs, dimmed his eyes and beat
him about the head, it provided him also with an odd exhilaration
and gave him many phantasies.  Sometimes it drove him to bed
because his back and legs refused to carry him any longer, and, had
his will been less strong, he might have yielded to it then more
completely, for nothing pleased him more than to lie, the Fever
with him, on his bed in Herries and see the strange sights that the
Fever brought him, and hear, always a little removed, the sounds,
the running of water, the beating of drums, the rumbling of
thunder, that echoed in his ears.

But he was not defeated by it.  He would boast to it:  'Nay, Fever,
I like your company once and again, but you shall not weaken me.
This picture that you are showing me of a chariot filled with
monkeys and a bark with gold apples is entertaining enough, but to-
morrow I go about my business again.'

And the Fever, being a good-natured fellow, would recognise his
stubbornness and let him have his way.

On this dark afternoon it was as stubborn as he.  He shivered with
the chill, his body was as though bruised by a tumble, his head was
on fire.  So he stood against the oak tree and wondered whether
there were three roads into Penrith or only one.

'Ah, well,' said the Fever, rattling inside his head like a loose
button, 'you are seventy-two years of age, you know.  You haven't
the power over me you once had.'

Yes, but WERE there not three roads?  He had walked only from
Appleby that day, and he must press on to Herries.  But how could
he press on when there were so many roads to choose from?  They
mingled and divided and mingled again.  They ran to his nose, leapt
skywards, rolled like strips of white boarding down an implacable

He wiped his brow, which was damp with sweat, and that seemed to
quieten him, for now there was but one road stretching in a subdued
and orderly manner to the foot of the town.

He picked up his bundle and went on.  In the main street there was
no one about.  Near to him was a lighted window (for early though
it was, the town was already dark) and over the doorway hung a
sign, 'The Green Parrot,' with a painting of a fine green bird with
an ironical eye.  A parrot?  A parrot?  Once before there had been
a green parrot in a room filled with talk, and a man. . . .  But he
could not settle the matter.  After the Fever had left him he would
investigate his memory.

There was a small bare panelled room with a table and a bench, so
he sat him down and soon a stout old man in a green baize apron
came to attend to him.  This old man had a broken nose and a hand
without a thumb, but he was pleased to see company.  There was
something about Herries that always won him attention wherever he
might be.  He brought him ale and bread and meat, and then sat
beside him for fellowship's sake.  The old man was called Andrew
Greenship, and at once, as though he had spoken with no one for a
hundred years, told Herries all his history.  He had been a soldier
in the old days and fought in the Low Countries.  His thumb had
been severed by a Hanoverian hatchet, and his nose broken in a
fight about a gold piece.  He had gout when the weather was bad,
and for the most part trade was poor.  But mostly he wanted to talk
about his son who had gone to make his fortune in London, had
returned without making it, and was now a curse to his father.  He
was in Carlisle at the present, but would soon be back again
wanting money from his father, and with a pack of women and dogs at
his heels and no place to put them.  The old man could not
understand it.  Why were things as they were?  Why were there not
cakes and ale for everyone?  For his part his only comfort was a
dog called Mulberry, who was the cleverest dog in all Cumberland
and Westmorland, and once let him set his teeth in another dog . . .

The Fever waved its hand and departed.  The room was warm, the fire
burnt brightly, and the red curtains were cosy about the windows.

On the wall was a play-bill.  At the Theatre Royal, Penrith, they
were presenting Othello, by Mr. William Shakespeare, to be followed
by a farce, There is No Wife like a New One.

'The Players are here?'

But are they not here?  Andrew had not himself seen them, but he
had heard them grandly spoken of.  To-night was their last
performance.  But Andrew was inquisitive.  Who was this old man, so
fierce and so courteous, travelling only with a bundle?  He asked
many questions.  Herries answered them all.  He had been far, he
was a great traveller, he knew London, he had seen the King, he,
too, had a wife and children.  But after all he was a mystery.  He
gave nothing of himself away, and his eyes moved as though he could
see a penny through a wall of houses.  When he rose from his hard
bench Andrew was amazed at his height and strength.

'How old would he be?'

Seventy-two years! and Andrew was but sixty-three come Michaelmas.
Andrew had not for many a day seen a man he liked better the look
of, but he was one of your gentlemen, a nobleman maybe, taking his
exercise for the fun of the thing, as noblemen were apt to do.

There came in a little, stout, self-important apothecary-
chirurgeon.  He had been his rounds in the country and had his
saddle-bags filled with boluses and electuaries.  In his skirt
pocket he had his sand-glass and wanted to take Herries' pulse with

He had had a busy and, it is to be hoped, profitable day; one lady
had been treated for the vapours, and one lady, alas! for the itch.
He was in a temper, too, for in Appleby he had not heard the
'Gardey Loo,' and some of the contents from an upper window had
missed his head indeed, but struck his long-skirted coat, and it
would never be clean again.

He recovered over his ale and the warm, close, smelly comfort of
the low-ceilinged room.  He described with gusto a recent visit to
Edinburgh, the ladies in their gigantic hoops, their heads and
shoulders covered with green and scarlet plaids, the green paper
fans with which they warded off the sun, their red-heeled shoes,
the dirt and filth and narrowness of the stairways, the streets
crowded with the rude and impertinent 'caddies' carrying messages
and parcels, the theatre where he had seen The Mourning Bride and
The Country Wife, the cock-fights, the taverns where the advocates
drank their morning sherry, and the bacchanalian nights in the
meanest of 'oyster cellars,' where you would enjoy raw oysters and
porter, and dance with both the lowest and the highest ladies of
the town.

Aye, that was a life in Edinburgh, but after a week of it you
longed for your work again, and here he was, who had dined a
fortnight back with the Bishop in Carlisle, and had to pay a whole
guinea in vails to the servants, and was to-morrow night to have a
grand feast in Keswick with some fellow apothecaries, and where he
would be the following morning no one could tell.

It was this fellow's talk that kept Herries where he was and so led
to the events that followed.  The apothecary, whose name was
Summers, lighted his eye on the play-bill on the wall; and although
he asserted that it would be a poor enough affair, and laughed at
the 'Theatre Royal' which would be a makeshift of boards in a tent,
he licked his lips all the same, for he loved a play and would see
one in any place.  Very politely he invited Herries to accompany
him.  Herries meanwhile had been hit by an odd coincidence.  He was
always catching now at coincidences and omens (having little else
to go by) and, while little Summers was talking, had remembered
fully what the 'Green Parrot' signified to him.  No need now to
recall that scene in Carlisle; did he let himself, his fancy would
pull him back into the very centre of it.  He held himself off from
it, but it kept knocking just outside his heart.  He would stay the
night here.  He turned and asked Andrew whether he had a bed.  Aye,
if he did not mind sharing a room with a post-boy.  No, Herries
minded no company.  His brain was on fire now with the thought that
somehow, somewhere, something would come of this coincidence.  How
many many times before he had trusted to similar coincidences he
did not now regard!  Every occasion was a new one, filled with hope
and happy prospects.  His cheeks glowed, his hands trembled.

'The old gentleman,' said the apothecary aside to Andrew, 'has a
fever.  It would be wise if he permitted me to bleed him.'

But they both of them had a certain fear of this strange old
gentleman who sat quietly there by the window, a smile on his lip
and the light of eagerness in his eye.  When the time came for them
to be going, he marched off with Summers as though he were going to
his wedding.

The weather now was fine, the air sharp, the evening very dark.

It was a strange theatre that they were introduced to, the arena a
stable and the tiring-room a hay-loft, as they could very easily
see.  Everything was open and exposed.  On some wooden steps,
leading up to the loft, Othello sat, his face fittingly blackened,
wearing a long and very soiled white robe, drinking out of a pot of
ale.  He would drink, and then start up in a state of very honest
fury to instruct with many curses two or three yokels who were
learning, even at this late hour, to trail a pike in a soldierly
fashion.  In spite of his spasmodic rages he did not look to be a
bully, having one of the roundest and mildest of faces, with a
small snub nose and eyes that, although they rolled whitely in
their black disguise, could not deny their essential amiability.

The arena was but poorly filled, dimly lit with candles that
guttered in all the breezes of heaven, and very powerfully to the
nose came the odours of cows and horses and the pungency of dung.

Little Summers had plenty to say, and fortunately needed no answer,
for Herries, sitting very upright, his hands clasped over his
staff, his eyes staring straight before him, surrendered to the
strange fever of expectation that now, as in times altogether past
recording, swept him into breathless excitement.  How well he knew,
had he dared to reckon, this repetition of circumstance!  The omen,
a tree, the name of a street, a woman's hair, a printed word, the
fire of confident assurance, the bitter unavailing disappointment.
Every time he would be cheated, every time make ready for the next

Presently there was a sharp altercation.  A large stout red-faced
farmer, two ladies in attendance, came and sat next to the
apothecary, and soon, the ladies wishing for more room than was
rightly theirs on the bench, the large farmer began to sit all over
the little apothecary, who had, it seemed, a temper as fiery as a

'You have paid, sir, for TWO seats?'

The farmer slowly shook his head, and his thick sides quivered with
laughter.  This excited the apothecary to a frenzy, and he most
inappropriately called the farmer a puppy.

The two ladies then began to take part in the affair, saying that
they supposed the gentleman must be from Keswick or Kendal or some
other rough part, and for themselves they did not see why they
should lower themselves to speak with common persons; they'd never
done so yet, and had no intention of now beginning.  Both sides of
the dispute appeared to amuse the farmer greatly, for he could do
nothing but shake with silent laughter, say 'Aye, Aye,' turning his
head from one side to the other, and murmur something about 'Coom
back a bit,' moving, however, himself not at all.  So the
apothecary leant over his broad chest, and was about to make some
very rude remarks to the ladies, when what seemed to him the very
great beauty of the younger lady struck him so forcibly that his
face was suddenly wreathed in smiles, he was apologising for his
abruptness, and was seated at the other end of the bench in no time
at all.  This, instead of angering the farmer, but appeared to
amuse him the more, and, as the young lady was apparently not
displeased, all was well.  But the little altercation had confused
Herries, and he had not realised that the play was begun.

There was a door at the back corner of the stage, and when this was
opened a cow could be seen feeding in its stall.  The scenery was a
piece of tattered cloth hung crookedly from a rafter, an old gilt
chair and a green-painted table.  Against the front of the stage a
number of children and boys had gathered, and were clustered, open-
mouthed, in an attentive group watching the antics of the actors.
A stout woman in a soiled crimson hoop, with a shawl over her head
and a small black dog in her lap, sat on a chair near a candle,
holding a prompt-book.

Herries soon lost himself in a mixture of falsehood and reality.
The rustic scene, the smell of the cows, and the evening air lifted
him back into his own world at home, and he could see the trees
blowing in dark fan-like clusters above the familiar gable-end.
Shakespeare had always been a glory to him, at a time, too, when he
had no great popularity, and soon he was caught up anew into the
familiar story and once more felt the ringing beauty of the words.

Othello came down to the candles, and, forgetting the Duke and the
attendant senators, addressed his rustic audience, pausing at times
for a word and turning impatiently to the lady with the red hoop,
who must hesitate before she discovered the place.  Nevertheless
the atmosphere was caught.  Venice and her waters did their
business yet once again of tricking a mortal soul or two into a
foolish trust in the fidelity of beauty.

The little black dog barked.

'She loved me'--said Othello, wiping his nose with the back of his

          --for the dangers I had pass'd,
     And I loved her that she did pity them.
     This only is the witchcraft I have used;
     Here comes the lady; let her witness it.

and then, from among the cows, holding her long train that it might
not be soiled by the dirt, Mirabell came in.

He did not see her.  She had spoken her words:

          My noble father,
     I do perceive here a divided duty,

before he realised her.

Then it came to him, quietly, inevitably, as though it had been
from the beginning arranged that it should be like that.

That was Mirabell, her hair, her small child's face, her body
looking stout and thick beneath the shabby tawdry dress of white
satin.  On each cheek was a splash of red paint, and behind this
her little face was oddly white and her eyes staring.

Yes, this was Mirabell.  It was as he had always expected it, if
not here, why, then at another place.  Soon he would go, when this
mummery was over, behind and fetch her away.  They would stay the
night in Penrith, and to-morrow would be home.  At the thought of
home and Mirabell there again he began to tremble.  It was as
though someone were slowly shaking him from head to foot.  Someone
also was shouting in his ear, and everything in front of him was
swimming in a mist of shapeless colour.

It began at once to be incredible to him that she should be there
and not recognise him.  Why did she not cease all this foolishness
and suddenly cry out:  'Francis!  Francis!  Francis, I am coming
home!'?  At that he began to wonder why he himself was not crying
out.  He clasped his staff with a fearful intensity.  His arm shook
above it, and unknown to himself a tear was trickling down his

Very soon he would have risen from his seat, pushed his way through
the country people, but fortunately she turned, and, as Othello,
his eyes on the boys who were teasing the little dog from the front
of the stage, said:  'Come, Desdemona,' she gathered up her dress,
glancing to see that she did not trip over a hole in the boards,
and at his words, 'We must obey the time,' she vanished through the

Herries rose instantly and pushed through the crowd, mounting with
steady steps the wooden ladder that led to the hay-loft.

Here there was a torn curtain.  Shaking it aside he stood just
within, leaning a little on his stick.  On the floor two children
were playing with some stones and string.  They had tied the string
to one of the stones and were dragging it, bumping, over the cracks
in the floor.  There was a wooden table piled with theatrical
properties, and on the table a long thin man was sitting, powdering
his hair, while a woman bent over him mending a hole in his faded
sky-blue tights.  A little fat man in a full-bottomed wig and red
satin breeches was looking at himself in a cracked glass and
adjusting on his head a tin helmet.  From below came the lowing of
a cow for its calf and the voice of Iago, very high-pitched and
trembling with dramatic irony.

The woman mending the sky-blue tights was Mirabell.

One of the children cried out.  She looked up.

So they looked at one another after these many years.  She was old,
worn, ill.  That was his only thought--that he must take her at
once, without an instant's delay, and have her cared for.  Her
beautiful hair had lost its lustre, the blobs of red paint on her
cheeks seemed to sharpen the lines, the shadows, the thinness of
that child's face that yet was a child's face no longer, but a
woman's, weary, ill-fed and drawn.

And what did she see?  An old white-haired man leaning on a stick.
But what happiness was in her heart when she saw him!  Yes, the
shock of it surprised herself.  The only friend that she had in the
world.  Was that ungrateful, perhaps, when the simple, kindly
player, Othello, Julius Caesar, Jaffier, Prospero and Falstaff,
cared for her, was good to her?  Yes; say, then, the only friend
that she herself wanted.  How much greater the ties of those years
that she had lived with him had been than she knew!  Had she done
right to leave him?  Had he been happier without her?  Was it by
chance that he saw her now?  Had he ever seen her, wished for her?
Would he want her to return with him, or had he come only to give
her a good-day for the sake of old times?

All these thoughts pressed upon her in that first moment as she
looked at him.

She dropped the needle and went over to him.  Then she was moved to
the very depths of her being when she saw that he was so profoundly
shaken at the sight of her that he could not speak, but, his hand
trembling on his stick, tears falling, turned his head away that
she should not see.

She put her hand on his arm and led him to the corner of the room
by a little broken window that was stuffed with paper.  The two men
said nothing, paid no attention.  It was nothing to them that an
old man should speak to her, or, for that, a young one either.

'Don't cry,' she said.  'How happy I am to see you!'

When he could command himself he put up his hand and touched her
hair.  Then he said:

'You must come with me.  As soon as this is over.  We will stay to-
night in Penrith, and to-morrow go home.'  Then, before she could
answer, he went on:  'I have been searching for you ever since you
went away.  I was in London looking for you.'  He was so fiercely
excited that his words came breathlessly, as though he had been
running.  'But it is no matter--now that I have found you.'

'Yes.'  She had to give herself time to settle her own problem of
honour and duty.  'I have wondered so many times--whether you
thought of me, what you did.  But you have been ill.  Your hair is
white.'  She smiled.  'We are both old now.'

His eyes never left her face, never moved.  They were as beautiful,
as strong and piercing as ever they had been.

'I will come to fetch you as soon as the piece is played.'

But she must postpone telling him how she was placed.  Things were
not so simple as that.  But, for a moment, she wished that they had
been.  How she wished it!  She was so weary, she was so bad an
actress, this life was so mean and dirty.  To go back with him, to
be cared for and loved. . . .  She would let him love her now in
any way that he wished.  One thought of the rest that it would be!
To sit in that chair in Herries and hear the running water; Herries
that once she had hated!  But she drove all the pictures back.

'You have wanted me then?  You have missed me?  I have so
wondered. . . .  But listen.'  She began to speak quickly, holding
his arm with her hand.  'A man here--he is playing Othello--has
treated me with great kindliness.  I was very sick--it is five
years back--dying, I think.  He was acting in the town.  He is
good, most generous-hearted, and I am a shabby actress, but, when
he might have had a position in London had he left me, he would
not.  He is drunk sometimes, but even at that he is kind.

'I have never loved him, but if I leave him now he will lose all--
his interest, his work.  He has no one else.  Those are his two
children by another woman.  She is dead of the smallpox.  They too,
they think I am their mother, poor babies.  Francis--'

He broke in fiercely.  'You left me.  You can leave him then.'

'I left you because I thought it right for you.  You were only

'And what have I been without you?'

'You are strong.  Adam is weak.  If I left him he would not do
anything but die in a ditch, and the children would die.  We have
so little time.  I will see you again, most truly I will.  Did you
know what it is now to hear your voice. . . .'  She broke off.
That was not the way.  She began to be tormented.  She could go
with him now, without one word to anyone.  When she saw him holding
her with his eyes, her own longing to be loved by him again, to be
warmed by him, to be protected by him, began to pervade her like a
happy faintness.  Instinctively she drew nearer to him, and he,
suddenly raising his head proudly, put his arm around her.

Othello came in.

At the sight of him Mirabell's torment grew.  In his foolishly
blackened face, his dirty dishevelled turban, his fat good-natured
cheeks, she felt all his commonness and by contrast Francis'
aristocracy.  This was a spiritual thing, not a social.  This heavy
fat man who when he was hungry crammed his food into his mouth like
an animal, who was so simple and foolish that he knew nothing of
the world but the little scandals of the hedgerows and the dirty
anecdotes of the roadside inns, who was kindly because he had not
the wits to be aught else, who, when he was fuddled, would kneel at
her feet, crying and kissing her worn soiled hands until she was
ashamed, who was feckless and lazy and vain, boastful and ignorant,
weak and little--and Francis who looked now, standing in that dingy
attic, a king among men, Francis so mysterious in his breeding,
Francis who loved her so that he had searched all England for her!--
she did not draw back from his arm as her shabby Othello
approached them.

She made them known.  She realised that her man, Adam Betty, at
once perceived that this newcomer was a patron, someone who might
possibly raise them all up in the world.  He spoke to him with a
mixture of humility and boasting.

'Small quarters, sir, but the Muse must be served.  Shakespeare!  I
kneel to him!  So wise a connoisseur as yourself must have some
points from which a humble player. . . .  But my Othello--the Heart
is there, the Heart!  The Noble Moor is translated into this rough
barn, and Miss Starr's Desdemona--ah, there, sir! you will have a
performance of a Natural Sublimity--'

But Mirabell could not endure it.  She saw Herries' courtesy, his
head a little bowed as he listened, but also his almost mad
impatience, so that she feared that at any instant he would break
into some desperate declamation.

Othello was a little drunken.  He swayed a trifle on his legs, and
was now sending a small boy in a shirt and ragged breeches for
further liquor.  The scene was becoming intolerable to her.  The
wretched place, the figures pressing about them, the consciousness
that soon she must return to the stage, the shock of Herries'
presence there, her longing for him (which was by far stronger than
she would have supposed), the consciousness of a new dignity and
fineness in him as an older man that there had not been before,
above all, the ache for the rest and care that he would give her,
all these tore at her heart.

Then there was a little incident.  One of the children, the
smaller, thin and spare, in a shawl and a tattered red kilt, with
bow legs and the expression of an aged woman, running to its
father, tumbled over a crack in the floor and fell howling to the

At once its father, who had been grandiloquently orating, rather to
the general world than to Herries, of his rendering of other rles
in Mr. Shakespeare's plays, lost all quality as actor, and became
only a simple and affectionate parent.

As he bent over the child and raised it, speaking to it gently,
drying its tears with the corner of his dirty gown, catching it in
his arms and kissing it, he was a man of dignity and feeling.  He
was the man who had been good to her when everyone else had
abandoned her, who needed her, who trusted in her.  He turned and,
smiling through his sooty blackness, gave her the child.

'You see,' she said, turning to Francis, 'that we cannot speak
together here.  I must tell you of everything more fully.  It is
not, oh, believe me, it is not so easy a thing.  You shall meet me
afterwards--yes, yes, I promise you.'

He looked at her as though he would never let her go.  He did not
care that she was worn and shabby.  This was a love that had no
dictation from outside things.  But he saw that it was true that
they could not talk there.

'I have your promise?' he asked, touching again with a shy secret
movement her hair.

'Yes, yes. . . .  Later.  At ten o'clock I can be free.  There is a
place beyond the Castle on the left of the road towards Keswick.
There is a gate there with a deserted cottage.  Wait for me there.'

She had spoken in a hurried whisper, rocking the child in her arms.
He saw that there was nothing more to be done here.  He knew that
she would keep her promise, so, with one last look at her, he went.

After that he walked he knew not where.  A soft rain began to fall,
but he did not realise it.  He realised nothing but the hunger to
have her with him again.  He heard the three-quarters strike on the
church clock, and, hurrying as though by chance she might be before
her time, went to the place.  He found it without difficulty,
although the night was very dark.

He stood there by the gate in the rain.  He was ill again, although
he did not heed it.  His legs were trembling and his head was on
fire.  Many lights were dancing in his eyes.  But he thought only
of the clock.  His heart leaping, he heard it strike the hour,
counting aloud the strokes.

Now she would come, in another moment she would be with him.  The
quarter struck, then the half-hour.  The silence grew with every
minute more menacing.  It was as though the town, the dark night,
everything in the world were holding her back to taunt him.  He ran
into the road, then a little way towards the town.  He began to
call then, louder and louder.  No one came.  The clock struck
eleven.  The silence was not broken.

The quarter struck again, and once more the half-hour.

He began to run.  It might be that she had said some other place.
He was in the town, which was now utterly black under the rain.
He ran, calling her name.  Two hours later, a blind, fiery,
unconscious impulse leading him back to the 'Green Parrot,' when
old Andrew with candle and nightdress opened the door to the
knocking, Herries fainting, fell into his arms.


Herries lay for six months moving into Death's arms and then
slipping out of them again.  It seemed to him like that, but Death
was no grisly skeleton with grinning bones, but a place of light
and space where there was a great singing emptiness and a hooded,
brooding sun.  He moved and was bathed in a curious lethargic
contentment; 'So this is where one goes,' his complacency told him,
but he was allowed only to sniff the air and shade his eyes from
the light, when pulleys dragged him back to a hot fire, aching
limbs and a will to live.

He was a very old man in those times to live at all with such an
illness.  The town took a sort of obstinate pride in his recovery.
Wagers were laid.  Sir Humphrey Paddock, an ancient knight whose
house was at Cross Trees, a mile outside the town, bet the little
black boy that his wife had brought up from London against Squire
Bantock's famous mare, Marjorie, that Herries would not die.  It
was as well that he won, for he did not tell his lady, who was
attached to little Pompey, and there would have been the domestic
devil to pay had he lost.

Old Andrew obtained quite a notoriety and an added custom from his
guest's struggle with death.  Old Andrew was prouder of Francis
than he had ever been of anyone in his life.  Heaven knows where he
got his affection for him from.  The snob in him perhaps.  He had
always worshipped Quality quite frankly, and when, twenty years
later, in his very old age (he lived to be almost a hundred), men
praised the Revolution in France as the beginning of a grand new
world, his indignation was a sight to witness.

But his affection for Herries went deeper than that.  He tended him
like a woman, would scarcely have left his room had it not been for
the necessities of his trade and for Benjamin.

In the first delirious weeks Herries was always calling for
Benjamin, so Benjamin was sent for.  He came and set up a jealous
imperious rule that no one could defeat.  He had all the
unreasoning suspicion that anyone who is accustomed to Keswick has
for anything that happens in Penrith.  He wore an air of exceeding
knowledge.  No one understood his master but he.  He would talk
oracularly, in the inn-parlour, to anyone who cared to listen,
about the great man that his master was, and the wise man and the

It became after a while bruited abroad that Herries had shut
himself up for many years in his lonely house because he was
discovering the Philosopher's Stone or some such thing.  Benjamin,
and indeed many of the citizens of Penrith, had still a mediaeval
mind, and any marvel was welcome.

But when Benjamin was in his master's room, caring for him, his
tenderness and devotion were wonderful.

'Come now, come now,' he would say, wiping the sweat from the brow,
smiling into the staring eyes, smoothing the sheets about the body.
'There's no fear to trouble you.  Softly, master, softly.  Hold to
my hand now and you'll know that there is no one can come after
you.  Nay, nay.  There's no one here but Benjamin.  Yes, yes.
She'll be with you presently.  She has but gone out for a breath of
air and so that you may sleep a little.  Softly, master, softly.
All is very well.  Lie still and rest then.'

Being by nature a man of fancy to whom any fable was welcome, he
indulged himself by uttering any kind of marvel that might be
expected to comfort his master.  His fancy was closely allied to
his literalness, so that if he stated that Mirabell had been but
just now in the room, he must describe her dress that was sweet
with sprigs of roses and say that her hair had a silver comb.  He
would tell Herries that all the town, aye, and the County too, was
at the door enquiring how he did, and that coaches packed with
Countesses waited in the street, and Marquises and Dukes sent
messages of condolence.  But nothing mattered to Herries, who lay,
for many a day and night, his long thin fingers twitching the
sheets, his eyes pitifully staring, his haggard cheeks as white as
his hair.

Nothing finer can ever be recorded of old Andrew than that he
endured, without too much argument, Benjamin's patronage and
superiority.  The two old men even achieved finally a kind of
alliance together against the rest of the world.

Little Summers always afterwards asserted that it was he who saved
Herries.  Certainly he bled him often enough, and could be seen
many times a day tramping up and down the wooden stairs, his sand-
glass, almost as big as himself, in his hand.

But whether it was Benjamin or Summers or Fate or Herries' own
constitution, he did, in spite of medical treatment and enough dirt
and ignorance to slaughter a cityful of old men, recover.  The day
came when he was carried downstairs to the back-parlour by
Benjamin, where he lay on a sofa in the sun, with canaries in a
cage twittering above his head and a distant view of the dim hills
through the window.

After that he gained strength amazingly, and it was in mid-July
that he stepped with Benjamin into a hired chaise, bade old Andrew
farewell, and departed for Herries.

He had become very silent.  No one knew now what was in his mind.
David, Sarah, Deborah had all been to visit him in Penrith, and
they had felt that they were with a stranger.  He asked them no
questions, heard their news with courteous indifference, seemed to
feel no connection with them.  His only request was that he should
return as speedily as possible to Herries, and there was a glow in
his cheek and a smile on his lips when the chaise stumbled up the
rough lane (there was path enough now for a carriage), and he was
once more inside the little grass-grown courtyard.

He went quietly about the house from the top loft to the dark
cellar beneath the kitchen, touching everything and making sure
that it was there.

He talked often with great and excited incoherence, then for many
days he would be quite sensible and coherent, then for days silent.
But he asked no questions about anything, nor mentioned Mirabell's

There was an old white horse that he had had for some years, called
once ironically by him the Paladin.  It was a horse of a rather
comic appearance, short in the leg and very bare of feature, with a
large black patch over one eye that gave it an extraordinarily
innocent and amiably foolish expression.  Herries took now a fancy
to this horse, and every day rode out on it.  But he went no longer
for any journeys.  Every evening he returned.

No one knew of what he was thinking.  You could not say that he was
mad, because if you did he would in another moment show so much
sense and consciousness of the true life about him that you were
(if you were Benjamin) dumbfounded.

But he thought himself that he was growing mad, that he was less
certain with every day as to the reality of anything.  He had been
all his life scornful of other men's acceptance of reality; that
had been one of the principal reasons for his division from them.
On the other side, he knew that now, for the first time in his
life, he was not honest with himself.  There was something within
him that he would not examine.  He had always despised humbug, and
now he was himself a humbug, because there was a great hurt and
unhappiness in his breast that he would not examine.

He would not glance down at anything that was past.  Something was
not here, something that he had passionately desired.  No matter.
Let it lie.  He could not procure it.  It was gone.  To call it up,
long for it, stretch out his hands to it, meant madness.  And he
also would not think of the future.  He did not know what was
coming.  Maybe that lighted chamber of Death with the hooded sun,
maybe a man in armour riding him down, maybe old age and food in
your belly.  He would look only at the present, this rustling
tapestry on the wall, this old hill beyond the window-pane, this
chair with the crusted gold sunk into its wood, this green slipper
with the silver buckle, this halter that gaped from its hook on the
wall.  But here is your trouble, old man.  Who knows what these
things are?--the tapestry, the hill, the chair, the slipper, the
halter--maybe they are cheating you.  They are not what they seem.
The tapestry is an old woman whispering, the slipper a fallen leaf,
the house and the hills around it a well in which you are sunk up
to your very neck.  You think you are alive and are not.  You were
dead months ago and lay stretched out with the sheets to your chin
and the candles blowing at your feet, and now that you are dead you
have the power to see double, two of everything, and the trees like
men walking.

He would catch Benjamin's arm at a time, and would say, chuckling:
'We are both dead, old friend, and no one knows it.'  Benjamin did
not mind.  It was only his master's way.

So Herries would ride out on the Paladin to think of these
questions, and would return in the evening, his head none the

He was always at his most sensible when David or Deborah came to
visit him.  He would sit in his chair by the fire or walk with them
gravely over his territory, showing them an apple tree or a cabbage
or the new marigold.  But he never asked them questions.  He
listened with great pleasure to Deborah's stories of her twin boys,
of their cleverness, courage and remarkable natures, of Mr.
Sunwood's sermons, of how they had been to visit the Bishop, of
their friends the Wordsworths and the grand house they had, of the
new road to the North, of the many visitors to Cockermouth, and of
Lady Freshwater's garden that had three cascades, a Gothick Temple
and a statue of Minerva.

He listened, too, when David told him of his farm, of his business,
of his hunting, of his children and his horses.  He enjoyed it all.
He was glad that they should come, but so soon as they were gone he
forgot all about them.  He walked about the house at night talking
to himself.  Benjamin would get up and follow him lest he should do
himself a mischief.  Once he pulled Benjamin out of bed to show him
the moon over Rosthwaite Fell.  Another night he crept into
Benjamin's bed and lay there shuddering, his arms about the other's
neck.  Once, talking very sensibly and in perfect command of his
faculties, he spoke about his wife Margaret, but as though she were
there in the house.

'You are not to speak to her of this.  She is sensitive to all that
I say, poor soul, but if she would not fear me we would do better.
You have seen yourself how she trembles if she thinks that I am
angry.  I cannot bear a trembling woman, and never could.  You
could say to her not to be afraid, for there is nothing to fear in
me.  I have not been in a rage since the children were little.'

Nevertheless he would sometimes be in a rage for no reason
whatever, and then he would shout and storm just as he did in older
days.  His best friend and visitor, who seemed altogether to
understand him, was little Mr. Harness the clergyman, who came
often to see him, and thought nothing that he did or said odd at

Mr. Harness, in fact, had a theory that Herries was as sane as any
man, but elaborated and fantasied things, in order to hold himself
from thinking.  He had a hope that religion would assist him.  He
brought with him certain beloved books from his little library--
Henry Dodwell's Christianity not Founded on Argument, Butler's
Analogy, Warburton's Divine Legation, Law's Serious Call and The
Way to Divine Knowledge.

It may be that Herries read these works, maybe not.  No one will
ever know.  He did not discuss anything with Mr. Harness so much as
throw out casually to him stray observations, as:

'The Planets, I fancy, must have a hearty detestation of their God.
To be held by an iron hand in one order, always to obey a Law made
without any consultation of them.  A Planet having a trifle of
Independence would prefer to fall to fiery ruin. . . .  So Satan
snapped his fingers.'

Mr. Harness had no liking for Chaos.

'No, you would not.  You are too good a man.  Nor do I fancy that
if God walked in this garden, I would myself be doing anything fine
or bold.  He has had the experience to make Him ready for any
occasion.  But I would ask Him one thing--whether He is not at some
time wearied of His power, and wishing that He could Himself be a
rebel once and again against it.'

And he said once to Harness:

'What men call madness is only to have a picture of your own.  I
make my own vision of things more independently as I grow.'

Had you asked him at this time what his condition was, he would
have told you, perhaps, that he saw three things to other men's one--
or perhaps Mr. Harness was right, and he busied his brain with
pictures because he did not wish to look into reality.

In any case the great day of his life arrived, coming to him
blindly as all our great days come.  It was May 16, 1773.  He rode
out after his early dinner on the Paladin.  He sat up very straight
and stiff, wearing his old broad-brimmed black hat, his legs
reaching far down because the Paladin's legs were short, his eyes
staring straight in front of him as though he were setting out on
some urgent quest.

Benjamin stood at the top of the path watching him anxiously.  He
was never certain when he saw his master thus depart whether he
would ever welcome him back again.

It is possible that Herries had some notion that this was a great
day, or it may have been only that the sun was shining strongly on
field and hill, powdering the valley with gold-dust; it is true
that his heart beat strongly with expectation.  He would not ask
himself any longer what it was that he expected, but he smiled
sometimes grimly to himself as he went, and, as was his habit, he
talked to the Paladin.

'What is your will to-day?  Where do we go?  Make use of your
imagination.  You shan't flick your ears at the sun.  Unmannerly
behaviour. . . .  There's no graciousness in you.'

He came to a field off the road near Stonethwaite hamlet where some
men and boys were baiting a little bull with two dogs.  He got off
the Paladin, leaving him to crop the hedge, and went into the
field.  There was no reason.  He had nothing against the baiting of
bulls, which was the habit of the time.  Or, rather, he had had
nothing.  It may be that now, seeing three things instead of one,
he was in advance of his period.  The little animal was mad with
terror and pain.  One of its legs was torn and bleeding, the skin
above one eye was ravaged and the blood poured down its face.  But
like Wesley's bull it could not be roused to much vengeance against
its tormentors, but only pawed the ground, lowered its head, and
raised it again.

Herries went up to it, put his hand on it, stroked it, and it did
not stir, only stood there trembling.  The men knew him well
enough, and, thinking him a crazy old man, let him have his way.  A
stout red-faced farmer promised him that the bull should be let
alone, and to his own later surprise kept his promise.  He didn't
know, he said afterwards, but the bull and the old man seemed to
have an understanding.  Witchcraft . . .

So then Herries got on to the Paladin again, and they ambled
forward until they reached Seathwaite, and then past the hamlet
wandered on along the well-known path into the pool of the hills.
It was that time of the afternoon when on a fine day in early
summer this end of the valley holds all the sun in a blaze of gold,
while the hills above it are black.  Herries came to Stockley
Bridge, where once long ago his son had talked with the Devil, let
the Paladin wander, and sat down on a flat stone above the clear
green pools that Grain Gill makes for its own sweet pleasure.

From above him and around him Glaramara, his old friend, and Allen
Crags and Great End and the Gavel looked down and saw him, far
below them though he was, a black figure in that blaze of gold.

Whatever he was at other times, he was not clear in his head just
then, for he saw, out of the tumbling stream, from behind the
casual rocks, from the green bracken of the fell, figures rise on
every side of him.  He did not know whether they were men or women,
nor did he care.  They rose like flopping scarecrows, and came
trooping, ambling, appearing and disappearing, making signs at him,
passing him without heeding him, flying in the air like jackdaws,
until at last an odd old creature with a wrinkled face marked with
lines like a map, its texture also of parchment, came and crouched
on its thin shanks beside him.

The air was exceedingly peaceful, the green pool between the grey
stones pure and still, the sunlight over all, so that Herries did
not mind a talk.

'Where are you from?' he asked idly, watching two flies circle
above the pool.

'From nowhere at all.  But it is a fine evening.'

'It is indeed,' said Herries.  'And your companions.  Where do they
hail from?'  For he could see behind the black cloak of his
neighbour the dark cloaks of many others beating like birds' wings
in the air.

'Also from nowhere.'

'If I give you something,' said Herries (for the shadow with the
parchment face had a begging eye), 'will you go away?'

'What have you of any value?'

'I have only one thing,' said Herries, 'upon which I lay any value,
save my house, my son and my servant.  That is a silver chain that
I wear around my neck.  It was left to me once by a lady who was
dead.  That I will not give you.  But I have a spade, some trees, a
horse, a picture of an ancestor and two suits of armour.  Also a
witch's bones in my garden.  To any of these you are welcome.'

The black-cloaked beggar moved his bony hams derisively.

'Poor property,' he said, 'at the end of a long life.'

'Am I then at the end?' asked Herries with interest.

'Not absolutely.  Why have you retained so little?'

'I cannot tell,' said Herries.  'I have never had a saving nature.
When I was young I scattered my seed like grass--if I may be for a
moment poetical.  Now I am old and I have only one desire and one

'What is your dream?' asked the shadow, but more from politeness
than interest.  He yawned indeed, raised a bony hand, but did not
hide a cavernous mouth.

'I have dreamed of a noble white horse who swims a black pool and
mounts hills of ice.  But I pray your pardon.  My dream can
interest no one save myself.'

'Not at all,' said the shadow politely.  'And what is your desire?'

'That is no man's business,' said Herries abruptly.

'As with the rest of us,' said the shadow, crouching a little
nearer, 'you have found life a silly thing with no meaning.'

Herries nodded at the pool.

'Inconsequent.  Without an answer.  But I have seen hints that
there may be an answer elsewhere.  Were men themselves less foolish
there is beauty and adventure enough to balance the rest.  Not, you
understand, that I am of any wider intelligence than my fellows.  I
have been always beyond ordinary foolish.  Nor do I regret it.'

The shadow plainly found his acquaintance uninteresting.  He rose
like a black beanstalk.

'One thing I will tell you,' he said.  'You are but at the
beginning of your journey.  My felicitations on your companion.
Keep your spade, your scar, your fine white horse.  You will need

The company now darkened the air, which was very chill.  The sky
was grey.  The hills shone with ice, and at Herries' very feet was
the black still pool that he had so often seen before.  It was no
surprise to him, therefore, to behold a moment later the beautiful
white horse go plunging in.

Once again he saw him, but now he was closer to him than he had
ever been before.  His great head, with its flowing mane of snow,
clove the water, breaking its blackness, and Herries could feel the
superb strength of the body as it drove its path.  Then came the
moment of struggle when the horse must plant his hoof on the
slippery slant of the icy rocks.  He could see more clearly than
ever before how he raised his head in a superb agony of effort, how
the hoofs slipped and slipped again, how it seemed as though he
must fall back into the icy water, how every muscle was straining,
how the glittering hills looked on with stern indifference.

All Herries' own vitality, everything that he had put into life,
any past gallantry or courage or discipline, he seemed to give to
aid his friend.  Then with a great controlled burst of energy, that
last effort was made and the ascent was won.

The white mane was shaken in triumph, the water dripped from the
white body like rain, and he was off piercing the hills until he
was like a silver arrow flying skyward.

Herries smiled and rubbed his hands.  And there was no pool, there
were no icy hills.  Only the fellside, the bubbling stream, and all
the valley grey now because the sun had sunk behind the rim of the
purple tops.  He had slept then.  The Paladin was cropping the
grass close at hand, and the stars were creeping out into the soft
green sky.  Between sleeping and waking, now that you were old, it
was no great matter.  Life melted from one to another, and the
dividing wall became with every breath the less opaque.

He supposed that he had slept.  Then sleep was more real than

He climbed on to the Paladin and rode dreamily home.  But this
time, as he came up the path to the house, he could see, dusky
though it was, Benjamin waiting at the gate.  He ran forward,
caught the Paladin's bridle.

He was shaking with the excitement of some news.

'Master!  Master!'  He pulled, in his quivering eagerness, at
Herries' arm.  'She has returned.  The mistress is here.  She is
waiting for you by the fire!'


She was standing against the wall beside the window, straight
against it as though she must have something behind her in case of
attack.  She had a grey shawl over her head, a faded green upper
dress and a shabby red hoop.  She looked old and monstrously weary.
That had been Benjamin's first thought when he saw her come slowly
across the courtyard, that she was fearfully weary.

Herries did a very touching thing.  He went straight across the
room to her, put his hand up, and stroked her pale cheek.  Then he
bent his head and kissed her hand.

'Forgive me,' he said, 'but I have been dreaming much of late.  I
supposed this also was a dream.'

They stood very close to one another, looking into one another's
faces for what seemed to Benjamin, who stood without moving at the
door, a long time.

Then she spoke quickly, and never taking her eyes from his face.

'Before everything I must tell you that I have come here to explain
to you.  That is why I have come.  I can go again as easily.  You
must know why I broke my promise to you of meeting you on that

'After you were gone, my protector--the man you saw, the player--
made a scene of great jealousy.  He had seen that we were known to
one another; he overheard our appointment.  He was mad with a
strange new anger and fear that I had never before seen in him.'

She caught her breath, putting her hand to her breast.  'It was as
though he knew that you were the only friend I had in the world.
Often he had seen me with other men and been unmoved.  Now he told
me that if I went that night to see you he would kill himself.
I believe he would have done it.  I considered my duty.  I thought
. . . that if I saw you again . . . I might stay with you.  There
were the children.  So we left Penrith that evening after the play.
I sent a messenger to you with a letter, but he never found you or
said he did not.

'And a month back Adam left me for a young woman who had lately
joined our company, taking the children with him.  I had been ill.
He left me without money--this was in Salisbury--and I have slowly
come back.  Let me stay with you to-night, and then if you wish it

She swayed, reeled, would have fallen had he not caught her.

She was ill from nothing but exhaustion.  When she was in bed
Herries fed her with strong soup and hot wine.  She thanked him
with a smile, put her arms around his neck and kissed him, then,
sighing with a sense of safety, turned and slept.  She slept all
that night, all the next day and all the night after.  She slept
like a young child, her head in her hand.

Herries sat for most of that while at her side.  He slept a little,
but was always starting out of his sleep to see whether she were
there.  Very gently he would put his hand out and touch her heart,
to be sure that she was breathing.

Benjamin said to Mr. Harness:  'He's in such joy at her return that
it's like to turn him crazy altogether.'  But that was just what it
did not do.  He walked directly away from his dreams and fancies,
leaving them behind him like discarded clothes.  He came down to
the door to speak with Mr. Harness.

'It is my wife who has returned, sir,' he said.  'We are friends, I
am happy to think, and therefore I would wish you to give me joy,
for this is the most cheerful thing that has happened to me in all
my life.

'I have been, since my illness, a trifle dazed in my head, the
rather I fancy because it was not healthy for me to see things
exactly as they were, but now I am very well, and you may wish us a
long life together.'

'Indeed I do,' said Mr. Harness, but thinking that seventy-three
was an advanced age to begin life at.  'I am most heartily pleased,
sir, and will offer my duty to your lady when she is well rested.'

On the morning of the second day, while Herries was sitting beside
her bed and the sun was pouring in at the window, she awoke
entirely refreshed.  For a moment she did not remember where she
was; then, when she saw his white hair and eager look, such a
shadow of happiness and relief swept her face as was moving to see,
for, poor thing, everything was very different from when she had
gone away: she had suffered so many hardships and known so little
rest that it was not only the added years had aged her.

They talked a little quietly and she had her hand in his.

Then he said, after kissing her cheek:  'There is but one thing
that I must say.  I pray you not to leave me again, for this time
it would be my death.'

'Nay, I will never leave you any more, Francis.'

'For I am not as young as I was.  Be angry.  Have things as you
will.  I shall not pester you now to love me.  Only you must not go

She repeated again:  'I will never leave you any more.'

He said then in his old way:  'We are a couple of fools to make
promises.  Was ever a vow kept in this world?  But I cannot endure
the thought. . . .'  He turned his head aside.  'I will not ask you
to make a vow.  Only do not go--unless you must.'

'And you will not leave Herries?'

'No.  I will never leave Herries now.'

It was natural that in the first weeks there should be a certain
awkwardness between them.  There were the old things to remember
and the new things to expect.

Each found the other at first changed.  It was only after a while
that these superficial alterations dropped away and they discovered
that the old spirit shone there.

But there WERE changes, real and true ones.  Each was altered by
trial.  The shock of her going and then his long illness in Penrith
had softened Herries to a more patient acquiescence.  It was as
though he had peeped through a door into another room and seen
certain things there that excited his curiosity and so made him
less stirred by his present surroundings.  It was also that her
absence had been so terrible to him that, now he had got her again,
he was contented in her mere presence, not wishing her to be this
or that, but only near him.

Also it was as though he had found an answer to the question that
he had been asking all his life.  He had found justification.
Finally he was so happy that he asked no more questions.  It was
enough that she was there and wished to remain there.

The principal difference in Mirabell was that she was a child no
longer.  It was not only that she was now forty-four years of age,
for there are some who carry their childlikeness with them to the
grave, but also trouble, loneliness, sickness had given her that
kind of sanctification that comes through sorrow.

Not that she was miserable or went about the place with a sad
mouth.  It was only that at first she could not realise her

What occurred was that presently happiness began to seep into the
house.  It is dangerous to speak of happiness, and cowards knock on
wood for protection.  But there are times in a man's life when it
comes, at first slowly in a trickle, then rising ankle-deep, then
flooding the window, at last brimming the chimneys.  There is also
no source of happiness quite so sure and true as the real love of
one human being for another; this too seems at first incredible and
very often when it has climbed waist-high sinks again, but real
love is a true thing although it needs two fine-natured persons to
make it true.  One is not sufficient.

Nevertheless, as a matter of history, happiness flooded this old
house at last and must therefore be mentioned although many would
speak of ague, toothache, blights among the cattle or a hanging in
the barn.

The old house soaked it in.  A muddled old house it was by this, a
jumble of chimneys, gables and crooked corners.  What shapeless
buildings!  Sties like an alderman's coffin, stables like byres and
byres like the ruins of Rome.  Peat-stacks, dung-hills everywhere,
poultry scratching in the grass-grown court, ducks everywhere
garrulous, weeds hip-high, and, rather by their own volition than
from any care taken of them, in their proper seasons, daisies,
marigolds, jonquils, pansies, orange-lilies, gardener's garters and

The old house with its cocked impertinent chimneys, its wainscots
and irregular windows and ghost-haunted stairways sinking, slowly
sinking into this growing height of vegetation that, encouraged by
the overlooking hills, climbed patiently to heaven.

Into all of this their happiness crept.  After a month or two you
could feel it everywhere.  Deborah and her clergyman, David and
Sarah, who came in due time to pay their respects to the returned
bride, all felt it.  They felt also that they were not really

Mirabell was most happy to see them and was very much more at her
ease with them than she had been, but no one else was wanted.
Happiness is like that--a cheerfully selfish thing.

Mirabell sat there and in her heart wondered what it was that had,
on that other occasion, made her run away.  It was as though she
looked back upon another woman, a strange, uneasy, restless
creature who had not wanted this and had been discontented with
that.  She did not ask herself yet whether now she loved Herries.
Like himself she bothered herself with no questions.  She wanted to
be sure that she was there.

There were times when they would suddenly look at one another, both
needing the same assurance.

It could be said that all that Mirabell felt for a long while was
that this was a safe haven and that any other haven would have done
as well.  No one could tell.  She did not examine the question.
The haven was Herries and Herries was the haven, both man and
house.  She could not imagine that there could be any other.  This
was, after all, the only one that she had known her whole life

Slowly, piece by piece, some of the things that she had suffered
came out.  The poverty, discomfort, dirt, weariness, insult that
were the inevitable companions of touring players.  To the man
himself she was always loyal.  He had meant very well by her
always.  He had loved her in his own way, and the two poor
children, sickly, ugly, thrown from one hardship to another, had
had only herself to look to.  He had on the whole, save for a
momentary impulse or two, been faithful to her.  After his first
passion for her had worn away she had wondered that he had kept
her, for, most certainly, she was not beautiful, she was often ill
with hunger and cold, and she was an astonishingly bad actress.

She could remember her lines and that was all.  She could never
imagine herself anything but what she was.  The plays seemed to her
mostly foolishness, Mr. Shakespeare no better than another.  She
had not managed well for him.  She could not cook anything fit to
be eaten nor keep a place in order.  Her only merit was her

So, when at last the other girl joined them--a black-haired, fierce-
tempered woman, a remarkable actress in the more fiery parts--she
did not wonder that he went away with her.  She would have been
happy at her freedom had it not been for the two poor children, who
hated the black woman and cried whenever they saw her.  Poor Adam!
To what miserable end must he come.  Poor, stupid, good-hearted
Adam to be eaten by a tigress!

Then, as months went, she forgot all the past.  This new happiness
burnt all the old things as a fire burns straw.  They, both of
them, she and Francis, went forward into a new world and lived one
grand day after another.  Oddest of all, he became young again.
His brain was unclouded, his limbs vigorous.  This was his Indian

But nothing stands still.  Everything now was an inevitable sequel
to all that had gone before, but a new sequence was being created.

In the autumn, that was very wet, full of howling winds, and thick
at the foot with sodden leaves, Mirabell found that she was
watching Francis with an odd anxiety and restlessness.  Whenever he
left her she was uneasy, and she would stand at the thin window
that looked over the court waiting to see him turn the bend, pause
at the gate, and then look up to the window, thinking, as she knew,
of her.  It was not that there was any true reason for uneasiness.
All through that year he was strong and well, and although
Benjamin, who liked gloomy tales and prophecies, told her fearsome
stories about his fever, there was no sign of its return.  When he
lay at night with her, putting his arms round her, she falling to
sleep in the hollow of those arms, his body was like iron,
marvellous for so old a man.

Nor was there any reason, as once there might have been, to fear
any outside hostility, for that had died.  The 'Rogue' was used in
friendly fashion when it was used at all.

Nevertheless she never saw him leave the house without fearing that
he would not return.  All this time, with Benjamin, she managed the
house.  The only other was a wild girl called Bethany, of whom a
wandering woman, who had died five minutes later, had been
delivered in a ditch near Seathwaite.

If she was not quite right in the head, at least she did what she
was told, and developed after a time a passionate devotion to
Mirabell.  So the house went none so badly.

But this anxiety of Mirabell's grew.  She did not know what was the
matter until on an evening after Christmas it was made clear to

That same afternoon Herries had ridden on the Paladin into Keswick
to see the lawyer about money matters.  She could never but smile
when she saw him go, so erect on the fat horse, with his legs so
long, his head stiffly set under his broad black hat.  So soon as
he had turned the corner and was out of sight, with a sigh she left
the window and went to the oak chest where there was some linen to
be marked.  Looking into the chest, under the linen she saw a cedar
box, and, opening it, found piled pell-mell together the jewels
with which formerly he used to dress her.  Gathering them together,
she went to the table and sat down with them, and was filled with

She could see herself now seated at the table, the jewels in her
ears and hair and round her neck, while he patiently tried to teach
her to read.  Tears filled her eyes.  How good he had been to her!
She had never been able to learn anything from him, and that was
strange, because she had learnt her lines in the plays easily from
Adam.  There had been something then between her and Francis that
had prevented this contact.  Now there was nothing.  They stood
bare breast to breast.

With that she sprang up in a great terror.  She lit candles, piled
logs on the fire, and, although it was far too soon, began to
listen for his return.  It was one of those quiet winter
afternoons, so still that you could almost hear a robin's step.
She looked out of the window, and a round red sun was sinking over
fields and paths that glimmered faintly with a white shadowed
frost.  There was no sound in the house save the logs on the fire
that chattered crisply one moment and then broke into a sort of
music like bubbling water, and Bethany who was singing below

She went to the head of the stairs and listened.  Then she tried to
work and could not, went down to the kitchen and talked with
Benjamin, came back again, going to the window, although beyond it
now all was black, then watched the stars come out like very
distant fires, then listened to the wind getting up and roaming,
whistling about the house.  All this time her panic grew.  Oh, if
he did not come!  But he would not.  She knew that he would not.
Something had happened: he had been suddenly ill.  This was a
premonition.  The house was alive with it.  Every board, every
rafter creaked with it.  There were steps on the stair, and he came

She ran to him, flung her arms round him, drew him to the fire.  He
could feel how she was trembling.

'But what? . . .'  He stood smiling down at her.  'You are

'I thought you would not come.'

'But why?'

'The house was so still.  You were away so long.'

He sat down, drew her to him, laid his hand on her hair.

'It was not so long.  There was no one in the town.  Not a leaf
stirring.  I read a tale somewhere once of a Dragon who, very
hungry, came to the town for a meal.  There was only the King's
Prime Minister there--the others were away hunting--an old dry man.
The Dragon licked him all over, but found that he was so lacking in
juices that he dropped him from his jaws and returned sulkily to
his cave.  I was such an old man to-day.  An old man on an aged
horse in a frosty town. . . .'

'I was afraid . . . I am always afraid when you go out.'

'Then you care for me to return?'

'Care!'  He felt her body draw closer to his.  'I love you,
Francis.  I didn't know surely until to-day.  I had not thought.
But I love you so dearly that I live only when you are near me.  I
was looking at the old jewels in which you used to dress me.  How
could I then have been so ungrateful?  But we cannot force love.
And I was busy with selfish grief for Harry.  Then in those years
away from you I learned that in the whole world there is no one who
is like you.  It is a pity that I have learnt it only now when I am
old. . . .'

'We are both old,' he said, smiling.  'I have learnt some things

So it had come at last.  At last!  At last!  His happiness
prevented any words.  Nevertheless, when a moment later Benjamin
came in carrying some logs and dropped one, he jumped up and cursed
him with all his old fervour, then threw his riding-gloves at him.

But that evening they sat for a long time by the fire hand in hand,
saying nothing.

Then, in the spring, Benjamin died.

One evening he had a rheum.  Next day a cough tore his chest in
two.  On the day following, every breath he took cut like a knife.
But he would not go to bed.  He had a superstition that once you
went to bed in the daytime you never got up again.

Illness, too, was new to him.  He had had blows and kicks and
bruises and cuts, but never an illness like this.  This sharp pain
in his chest drove him to remember his father, who had had a cake-
shop in Taunton.  His father had been one of the fattest men in the
South of England and one of the best-natured.  It was from him that
Benjamin had his own good-nature.  His cake-shop, which had been a
famous one (and Benjamin might have succeeded to it and been a
wealthy man to-day had he not thrown a plate at his stepmother and
run away to seek his fortune), was very small, and his father
filled all of it with his handsome brown peruke, his three chins,
and his white apron.  It was his father's belief that he was
grandson to a nobleman by a country-girl's mistaking her road home
on a dark night.  In any case he had an 'air,' a tone, a something,
and everyone noticed it, and bought his cakes the more readily.

Little Benjamin, sitting in the room behind the shop and smelling
the rich plummy smell of good bakery, would wonder whether his
grand jolly father wouldn't burst the wall of his shop with his
huge shoulders, swinging stomach, roaring laugh.

And then, one evil day, his father caught this pain in the chest.
Benjamin, who was then about fourteen years of age, had never seen
anyone change as his father did.  He suffered so terribly (he said
that a hundred knives were slicing him into pieces) that they put
him to bed, and there in the big four-poster that had the canary-
coloured curtains (Benjamin remembered every aspect of that room--
the two chairs, of which his mother was so proud, of dim gilt,
covered with silk embroidery, and on the table in the window a bowl
of dried rue and sweet-briar--he could smell its sleepy perfume
yet) he lay, his chins grimy with the unchecked beard, and in his
eyes a look of terrified surprise.

He lay there and said nothing, save one day that he could no longer
smell the thick hot scent from the bakery.  They knew then that the
end was near, and a day later, staring with that same surprise as
though it had been impossible to conceive that it was this had been
waiting for him, he died.  So, a month later, Benjamin threw a
plate at his stepmother and ran off to seek his fortune.

It was going to bed that did it.  In spite of the pain from the
knives his father should have stood on his two feet and defied them

But now when, after all these years, Benjamin had this same pain of
the knives in his chest, he felt terror and he felt defiance.  So
they meant to play him the same trick, did they?  He had learnt a
thing or two from his old father.  He'd defy them by standing on
his legs--yes, let them do their worst.  So they did.  They knocked
him down there on the kitchen floor, where he lay with two broken
plates beside him, and Bethany ran crying to her master.

Benjamin was put to bed then whether he wished or no.  A doctor was
found, a young fellow this time, Parling by name, a tall bony lad
with great ambitions and a speculative mind, lodging in Grange
because he was reading for a thesis.

When Parling looked at Benjamin, stripped his chest, listened to
his lung, two opposite worlds met.  Parling was all for the future,
Benjamin saw only the past.  Benjamin regarded the young doctor
with horror.  Two hours after his departure (he leaving a very
serious report of the old man's condition with Herries) Mirabell,
sewing by the fire, hearing a sound, turned to see Benjamin,
dressed in his working clothes, swaying on his feet, at the end of
the room.  She ran to him.  He tried to push her off.  'Stand on
your feet!  Stand on your feet!' he cried, clutching her arm and
staring wildly beyond her.  'They can't catch you if you stand on
your feet.'  A fearful bout of coughing racked him and he fell
forward.  With great trouble she held him, he so heavy and she so
slight, until Herries came and, bearing him in his arms like a
baby, laid him back in bed again.

After that he was partly away in Taunton and his childhood, and
partly clinging to Herries.  His love for Herries came out in him
like a child's dependence on its mother.  He had stood by his
master so long, through so many evil reports and mischances, that
to go anywhere now without him seemed an incredible thing.  And a
great part of the while he confused Herries with his father.

He smelt the bakery.  He saw the boy come into the room with the
long tray and the dark brown cakes lying on it, all in rows like a
game, and he felt the saliva gather in his mouth as though he were
a little dog; then he heard his father's thick deep voice (as
though he were himself an enormous Cake speaking), 'Chut!  Chut!
Be careful, boy! . . .  I'll flog thee for a stumble,' and then the
beneficent smile as he looked at the tray so approvingly and rubbed
his fat hands that seemed to have always in their interstices
fragments of flour.

But across this vision drove Herries.  Herries in his proud youth,
Herries stripped in the open waiting to have the water dashed over
him Herries riding his fine horse, Herries having his boots pulled
off, Herries shouting for his dinner.

In his rambling talk many of his private anxieties that had never
risen into expression when he had command of himself came out.

'Master, master, I'm coming . . .  Aye hurry, hurry!  It is past
the hour and no one come . . .  If I break it he'll mind, but
there's always a stumble or a trick for a man's feet.  Coming!
Coming!  What more can I do?  He would have me every place the same
time, and then nothing but kicks after all's said. . . .  Aye they
can name him names, but what do they know?  So it is Master Davy,
so it is.  But you go by the field to the left there.  They say
there's a fine trout or two.  I'll not tell your father.

'Coming, coming, master!  That's his joke.  Every gentleman has his
own fun--and every man too for that.  There they go!  Tumble them
down the stairs!  Tumble them down them!

'I'll set a dog to them an they come shouting their bawdy
nonsense. . . .  Nay, but, father, I said naught.  But she's not
my mother.  I'll do her bidding.  She shall let me alone though.
If she strikes me I'll not stay. . . .  'Twas a woman with a green
petticoat had the paper.  She's gone in a coach and had a monkey
with her.  He's gone a long while.  It's lonely, this house . . .
If I did tumble her there's no sin.  And if there's a child the old
man won't know it.  I'll be rubbing Unicorn down.  There's an hour
before sundown.  Steady now!  Steady!  'Tis dark in this house
before you've time for a lantern. . . .'

The day before he died he recovered his senses altogether.  He lay
very placidly, looking at the ceiling and smiling to himself.  On
the next evening, which was warm so that the window was open, he
heard them calling the cows in.

'The country's a fine place,' he said in a weak, quavering voice.
'Doncaster was not much, master.  But here there's always a bustle.
Are you happy now, master?'

'Yes,' said Herries, 'I'm happy.'

'I'm glad of it.  There has been another look in your face since
the mistress came home.  And where would I have been without you?
Dandering around, coming to no good, for I had always a leching for
women.  But I wouldn't have bided in one place for any woman.  No,
I would not.  Nor worked for any woman neither.  'Tisn't right for
a man to work for a woman.  It is against nature.  That's what my
father always said, and he'd had a multitude of women in his
time. . . .  You've been a good master to me and I've been a good
man to you.  There's satisfaction in that certainly.'

Then he began to count slowly to thirty or forty, and then begin
again.  It may have been cakes that he was counting, or cows or
horses.  So, counting, he died.

After the funeral they were alone in the house, for Bethany,
feeling that a funeral was a festival, had gone merrymaking.

'We are alone in the house, my dear,' said Herries.

She kissed him, then, a happy triumph showing in her face,

'No, we're not alone, Francis.  Nor will be again.  Old woman
though I am, I am to have a child.  How am I for a clever woman?'

She danced around the room, and he, looking at her, saw all her
youth come back to her.  Her hair flamed; she was as she used to be
when he implored her to love him.  Now he did not need to implore.
She was his completely.


Mrs. Henny came now on the scene.

Mrs. Henny was a southern woman who for ten years had been living a
widow in Grange.  She was a lady of all trades--nurse, midwife,
cook, friend of all the world and, in the modern manner, a witch.
One may see how different the modern manner (temp. 1774) is from
the old, because whereas, years ago, Mrs. Wilson had been
persecuted and drowned, Mrs. Henny was the most popular woman from
Seathwaite to Portinscale.

Young women indeed came to ask her advice from districts as distant
as Shap and Kendal.  There was no one, they said, so successful in
promoting a hesitating love-affair, no one with so sound a
knowledge of herbs and simples.  She sold charms, verses, and
prophecies in packets, and kept in cages birds that told your
fortune.  She was in fact a 'good' witch, and was never known to do
anybody any harm.

In appearance she was a little thin-boned woman with bright sharp
eyes, a jutting chin, and she liked to wear wide black hoops and
long black gloves on her hands.

It was she herself who suggested to Herries that she should come
and 'do' for him.  She could cook, she told him, she could nurse;
there was a child coming and no midwife in Cumberland her equal.
It was not strange that he, already most anxiously nervous about
his wife's condition, should agree to her proposal; it was only
strange that Mrs. Henny, who had a nice little cottage of her own
in Grange, just on the farther side of the bridge, where she had a
most thriving trade, should wish to come.  And there was only one
possible explanation.  She was the most inquisitive old woman in

Her curiosity was her devouring passion.  She had been a girl of
uncertain morality in her youth, not from any sensual laxity but
only because she found that promiscuous affection provided her with
more excellent secrets than any other mode of living.  She had an
amiable nature and did not wish to use these secrets to anyone's
hurt, but know them she must.

It was for the same reason that she began, later in life, to dabble
in love philtres, prophecies and potions--only that she might be
confided in.  That it was lucrative was for her an entirely
secondary consideration.

It is probable that for years now her bright little eyes had been
fixed upon the Herries house and her ears strained to catch the
slightest sound from it.  The tales about Herries were so many, he
and his house were now so legendary that she was not the only one
who would look up from the path and see a light burning in a window
there and long to know the truth.  Mrs. Herries' return must have
excited her yet further; when she heard of Benjamin's death, and
that there was to be a child, she saw her opportunity.

On a warm spring evening of 1774 she arrived with a black box and a
cage of canaries.  To do her justice, although she may have come
there from curiosity, she very speedily fell in love with both of

She was a warm-hearted old woman in any case, but the two things
that she loved were power and a satisfied curiosity.  Here she very
quickly had both.  They told her anything that she asked and they
let her do what she wished.  They were in truth so deeply absorbed
the one in the other that they had no energy for asserting their

'She couldn't enough confess,' she confided to her friends in
Rosthwaite and Grange, 'the fashion with which they loved.  In the
heart of male and female,' she declared, 'you will ever find a
principle of self-love and vanity, and this makes