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Title: By Violence
Author: John Trevena
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
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Language: English
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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: By Violence
Author: John Trevena

*

Author of "Bracken", "Sleeping Waters", etc.

*

With an Introduction by Edward O'Brien

*

BOSTON

THE FOUR SEAS COMPANY

PUBLISHERS

1918

*



INTRODUCTION


For eight years or more, since I first became acquainted with the novels
and tales of John Trevena it has been my firm conviction that only
Thomas Hardy and George Moore among contemporary novelists rival his art
at its best. Like Meredith, he has written for twenty years in
obscurity, and like Meredith also he has been content with a small
discriminating audience. I suppose that in 1950 our grandchildren will
be electing college courses on his literary method, but meanwhile it
would be more gratifying if there were even a slight public response to
the quality of his individual talent.

Trevena's novels are the expression of a passionate feeling for Nature,
regarded as the sum of human personality and experience, in all its
moods,--benign and malign, as man is benign and malign, and faithful to
life in the stone as well as the flower. What a gallery of memorable
characters they are, Mary and Peter Tavy, Brightly, Cuthbert Orton,
Jasper Ramrige, Anthonie and Petronel, William and Yellow Leaf, Captain
Drake and dark Pendoggat, Ann Code, Cyril Rossingall, and a hundred
others, passionate and gentle, with wind and water and earth and sky for
a chorus, and the shifting pageantry of Nature as a stage.

His fourteen volumes reveal a gift for characterization equalled by none
of the contemporary English realists, and a Shakespearian humor
elsewhere gone from our day. In _Furze the Cruel_, _Bracken_, _Wintering
Hay_, and _Sleeping Waters_, to name no others, John Trevena has written
novels of Dartmoor that will take their rightful place in the great
English line, when the honest carpentering of Phillpotts that now
overshadows them is totally forgotten.

The feeling has spread among Trevena's few critical American admirers
who have written about him, that he is fundamentally morbid and
one-sided. On the contrary, I know of few novelists who are more
recklessly and irresistibly gay, in whom sheer fun bubbles over so
spontaneously and wholeheartedly. To ignore life's harshness is simply
to ignore life. Trevena's many-sidedness will be apparent only when
there is a definitive edition of his work. His habit of confining a
novel to a single mood or passion of nature, together with the fact that
Americans have only had an opportunity to read those novels by him which
deal with nature's most cruel moods, have done the reputation of Trevena
a grave injustice.

_By Violence_ and _Matrimony_ are Trevena's most beautiful short tales,
and I hardly know which is the finer revelation of poetic grace and
gentle vision. Their message is conveyed so quietly that they may be
read for their sensuous beauty only, and yet convey a rare pleasure. If
their feeling is veiled and somewhat aloof from the common ways of men,
there is none the less a fine human sympathy concealed in them, and a
golden radiance indissolubly woven into their pages.

If Nature's power is inevitable in these stories, it is also kind, and I
like to think that from _By Violence_ as a text a new reading of earth
may be deciphered. Trevena has written the books of furze and heather
and granite and bracken, which outlast time on the hills of Dartmoor.
But this tale hints at a fifth force which survives all the others. Some
day, when the wind is strong, John Trevena will write the book of "The
Rain-drop," which is the gentlest of all elements, and yet outlasts the
stone.

                                           Edward J. O'Brien

_South Yarmouth, Mass._
 _February 26, 1918_




BY VIOLENCE


"Dear Sir,--
      "The wooden enemies are out.
                 "Yours obediently,
                         "Oliver Vorse."

Simon Searell read this short message as he tramped the streets of
Stonehouse, which were full of fog, from the sea on one side and the
river on the other. Vorse was an uneducated man; the mysticism of
flowers was nothing to him, the time of spring was merely a change of
season, and the most spiritual of blooms were only "wooden enemies."
Searell frowned a little, not at the lack of education, which was rather
a peace to be desired, but at the harshness of the words, and went on,
wondering if the wood-anemones were to be his friends, or little cups of
poison.

He climbed streets of poor houses, their unhappy windows curtained with
mist, and came out near a small church made of iron, a cheap and gaudy
thing, almost as squalid on the outside as the houses. The backslider
looked at it with a shudder. It was his no longer; he had given it up;
he was forgetting those toy-like altars, the cheap brass candlesticks,
the artificial flowers, and all the images. They were wooden and stone
enemies to him now. He was going deeper to find the throbbing heart of
religion, putting aside dolls and tapers and the sham of sentimentality.
Solitude and mysticism were to be his stars through the night, and he
trusted, with their aid, to reach the dawn. He turned from the church,
stopped at a house, and that was squalid too, knocked, then wiped his
boots, as if certain of being admitted.

"Father Damon?" he asked shortly. Searell's voice was sweet; he had
helped people "home," as they called it, with his tongue, not with his
soul, just as a sweet-toned organ calls for tears with the beauty of its
sounds, though the instrument itself is dead.

"Yes, your reverence," the housekeeper answered, as shortly; and Searell
walked up the foggy stairs murmuring to himself, "The wind-flowers are
out, and I am free."

Father Damon stood in a little square room hideously papered. He was
small, dark, heavy-featured, peasant-like; and Searell saw at a glance
that his successor was as dull in many ways as Oliver Vorse. All that he
knew had been forced upon him almost violently; he had not gone forth
gathering for himself, he dared not, his mind had been tilled by careful
teachers, kept under restraint, all his side-growths pruned away, in
order that orthodoxy might develop in one large unlovely head. When the
order went forth to kneel, he knelt, and when it was time to lift his
eyes to Heaven, he lifted them. It was a life of prison, and he could
never smell the woodland through the fog of incense.

"He knows nothing," muttered Searell. "He thinks it is daylight where he
stands."

"I come to give you information about the mission," he said aloud, and
then began; but the telling took some time. How troublesome, how paltry,
the details; and Father Damon was so dull. Everything had to be
repeated, explained so carefully; and was it worth the words? The
successor was very earnest, but not enthusiastic, that had been crushed
out of him; and Searell grew impatient at the wooden figure, with its
simple face and child-like questions. He spoke faster, almost angrily,
desiring to get away and smell the earth; and his eyes wandered about
the room, which was so unlovely, not bare, but filled with those things
that make for the nakedness of life. There was wanting something to
galvanise that sluggish Damon into passion, to destroy the machinery,
turn him into a strong animal with dilating nostrils. One little touch
would have done it. A portrait of a pretty woman upon the mantelshelf
would have gone far; but there was nothing except pictures of mythical
saints.

"You are retiring. You seem strong and well," said Damon, when he had
obtained all the information that was required.

Searell was in a hurry to be gone, as the sleeper struggles to awake
from a bad dream; but that voice and its stagnant repose aroused him.

"I am old, I am sixty," he said. "I am beginning again, trying to find
what the Church has not shown me."

"What is that?"

"Light."

Damon stared with the eyes of horror, and put out his peasant-like hands
as if to force away some weight that pressed against him; but he said
nothing.

"I will not depart in the odour of hypocrisy. Listen," said Searell. "I
am far from saying that the Church does not lead towards a kind of
light; but it has not led me. And this do I say, that in the world at
large all religion is a failure; and I am going to find mine in the
solitudes."

"The truth is in the Church. It is your fault if you have missed it,"
said Damon, in a hollow voice, hoping that the other, for the sake of
his soul, was mad.

"It is there for some, the minority. You will never realize how small
that minority is. We cannot hasten the dawn with juggling. True religion
is a thing of innocence, not a matter of spells and charms; and it is in
the innocence of Nature that I will search for it. I believe it exists
there, underneath the outward cruelty, and I shall find it among the
flowers. The flower alone does not struggle with violence, it sheds no
blood; the weed smothers, and the bindweed chokes; but without some
fault upon the surface, perfection might be obtained, which cannot be.
Look into the flower, and you will find a condition which is not
approached by man or other animals. There is a purity which brings tears
into your eyes. Eliminate violence, and you have innocence; obtain
innocence, and you see the light. At the beginning of things we are told
that the world was destroyed by water because the earth was filled with
violence. At the beginning of the new era we learn that the Kingdom of
Heaven suffereth violence. Will you say the Church does not rule by
violence, by threats, suppressions, rubrics, and by vows?"

"I cannot understand you," said Damon.

"Will you understand when I say that the God of life is to be found
among the flowers?"

The other shook his head and looked frightened. Free speech was not
allowed, and, if it had been, he would not have known how to use it. He
walked between rubrics, turning neither to the right hand nor to the
left; and the living lily was a thing for funeral wreaths. For the
altars, artificial flowers were good enough, as they did not require
renewing, and they looked real to the congregation, and how they were
regarded elsewhere did not concern him; and whether they had been made
by sweated labour did not concern him, because he was not allowed to
think, and he himself was artificial, neither man nor animal, but a
side-growth of supernaturalism.

"Let me go on now I have begun," said Searell. "I am leaving here, and
my words will not live after me. I am a man who has tested life, who has
been through every experience, and I have discovered that what morality
calls bad is often good, and that which we call virtue sometimes springs
from vice. The purest water runs upon mud, only you must not rake it up.
In my youth I served as a soldier, and upon leaving the army I sought
the Church, partly to find a rest, chiefly, perhaps, because my mind was
mystical. But nothing was revealed, and nothing could be, for the mystic
must be free; and the priest is a soul in prison, and the book of his
captivity is always before him. Here he must join his hands; there he
must lift his eyes to Heaven, prostrate himself, kiss the altar, until
the time comes when he feels alone, cut off from the Creator of his
dreams by these mechanics, horribly alone among images; and he seems to
hear a voice asking sorrowfully, 'What is this rule you are following?
Who told you to do this? Go out upon the hills and into the woods, for I
am there.' But he cannot move, for the time has come to join his hands
again, and the revelation passes unseen, because he has to keep his eyes
shut. It is written so, and he must obey."

"I cannot answer you," muttered Damon; and it was true, for these words
took him outside the well-worn groove and dropped him useless.

"If I found the man who could, I would follow him," came the answer, and
the white-headed priest passed a hand across his eyes, as if trying to
brush the fog away. "I have been longing to escape for years. The iron
of the little mission-church has eaten into my soul. I ought to have
resigned? Why so, when I performed all my duties? Without means I could
not have faced the world, for the mystic is not a practical man, and
these hands," he said, frowning, "they are hands to be despised, for
they have done nothing. No, do not answer me, you cannot, you are bound.
I am free. A year ago I was left money--"

"A curse."

"If you will, a curse to buy a pathway to my Heaven. There was a place I
pined for, up on the heights of Dartmoor, a valley among mountains. I
have bought it. They call it Pixyland."

"Paganism," cried the peasant-priest hoarsely, and crossed himself.

"Purity," said Searell, in his sweet voice. "Pure air, pure hills, pure
loneliness. It is a place of rocks, of heather and large-rooted ferns,
and it is very steep, terrace rising upon terrace to the heights. At the
bottom of the valley are trees; here also is a wild path and a wild
stream broken upon the rocks, and becoming whole again at the foot of a
glen. For centuries the place has been haunted in men's imagination, and
they have avoided it because it is a garden of--angels. I am going now
to make it bloom, I am going to grasp that solitude and weave with it a
mantle of light. I am going to walk on my pixy-path and watch the
shadows creeping up and down my pixy-glen; and the growth will come, the
growth of knowledge, and of consciousness; and there I may meet my
Gardener, driven out of the world by violence, out of the Church by
violence, revealing Himself, not tortured, cross-laden, and frowning,
and not awful, but as the smiling Guardian of the flowers."

There was hardly a sound in the cold room, stiff with the antique
pictures of quaint saints, dark with that dull peasant born to be ruled;
and yet Searell was going out with a haunted face, passing like a
phantom from the house of poverty, and the wet board with Mass notices,
and the waste of ground heaped up with rubbish. There was a pear-tree
leaning from the waste, a tree which the builders had forgotten, and
from the tree hung a broken branch, and at the end of that branch,
beneath the buds of spring, were two black leaves neglected by the
winter, side by side, struggling with one another; for there was wind
down the street which made them struggle; but neither dropped, and they
fought on silently while the wind lasted.

"Violence even in dead things," Searell murmured; and, reaching up his
hand, he quieted those two restless leaves for ever.




II


Oliver Vorse was lying among the wood-anemones, and he was drunk. He
would have looked like a monster had his condition been rare; but it was
common, therefore Vorse was not abnormal, only a fool. He did not know
where he was, in the pixy-path upon the wind-flowers, crushing so many
with his sodden carcase, while the pure pixy-water trickled underneath.
He had come the wrong way at the turning of the path; instead of
ascending to the house, which was the way of difficulty, he had stepped
downwards choosing the path of ease, as men will, even when sober. The
state of his body was nothing, as nobody would see him except Sibley,
his wife. The master was expected tomorrow, and then he would have to
pretend to be a man.

The moon was young, a cradle of silver, and the stars were wrapped in
sleep-compelling clouds; and all the light that there was seemed to come
from the anemones which Vorse was defiling. The little white things were
lanterns, retaining light, but not giving it forth, and a stickle of
water shone like a shield. There was such a wonderful purity in Nature
apart from the man. Everything seemed to bear the mark of beauty and
holiness except him. It was out of the world in that fairy garden
hanging between the cities and the clouds, and the vices of the world
were out of place; and yet there was no barrier which they could not
leap across.

A light appeared thick and heavy, putting out the eyes of the flowers.
It wobbled down the natural terraces, weather-hewn from granite, and
with it came a voice suggesting more violence, harsh and angry, not a
voice of the clouds, but of the street-corner, where faces are thin and
fierce, and the paving-stones seem cruel. Sibley was searching for her
husband, not because she loved him, nor requiring his company for any
reason except the selfish one that the loneliness above frightened her,
and her small spirit quailed before the heaving moorland. Any sort of a
brute was better than the God of the mountains. She stumbled over an
obstacle, lowered the lantern, but it was a mass of granite carved
cynically by centuries of rain into the semblance of a tombstone. Again
she stumbled, and now it was the trunk of a tree, phosphorescent with
rottenness. A third time she stumbled, and so found her master with the
rottenness of the fallen tree, without the strength of the granite.

She kicked him, struck him with the greasy lantern, and swore.

"Get up, dirty swine. Get up, will ye? Mind what the master told yew?
and he'm coming in the morning."

Oliver only growled and snored. This was his form of mysticism, and it
was a kind of happiness. If master had dreams, why not he? Master could
dream at one end of creation, he at the other. There was plenty of time.
Sibley was only twenty-four, Oliver not much older. When life is young
the end of it is a myth, and passion is the god.

There was another light down the pixy-path, very steady and soft. Had it
been blue it might have been a thing of the bog, looking for the body it
had thrown away, but it was white, and it flickered hardly at all, for
the night was smothered up and the winds were slumbering. It came up the
path with a kind of gliding rather terrible and there was not a sound
around it. The master was approaching in the night. Having completed the
last duty sooner than he had anticipated, he acted on the impulse. There
was time to escape, so why wait for the morning? And there would be the
glamour of passing through the dark towards clouds and mistland. The
preparations of a man in earnest take no time. He must put a taper in
his pocket, the last relic of the church he was leaving, as the night
would be heavy upon the pathway, and he must walk there and see the
wood-anemones in flower and feel the peace settling upon his eyelids.
There was no time to be lost, for he was old, and still a child, with
everything to learn.

Sibley saw the figure, and screamed, supposing it to be a spirit doing
penance for past sins with the lighted candle; while her husband heaved
and called for drink.

Searell stood upon the path. The wind-flowers were out, but their heads
were hanging in shame; there was no spiritual life in them, they were
already dead like the two black leaves upon the pear tree, and the
destroyed of life was that heap of flesh upon them. He had come away
from the world to forget its violence, and here it was upon his mystic
pathway. He had come to find his God upon the flowers, and had found a
drunken man instead.

He was calm, to Sibley he looked divine, as he placed the candle in the
niche of a gaping boulder, and she wondered at his restraint. He was a
god, for he had made her, had saved her from street life, and might
still save Oliver if he could bear with him. They were not of his
religion, they were only devil-worshippers, and yet he had stooped down
and dragged them almost by violence from the rubbish-pit.

"Forgive 'en this once, master," she cried. "I'll see he don't fall
again. Us didn't look vor ye till the morning, and Oliver went down, and
this be how he comed back."

There was a flat rock above the pixy-water, and here Searell seated
himself, saying, "Do not speak. Your voice is harsh."

For some moments the only sounds were the deep breathing of Vorse and
the tinkling of the stream. The flame of the candle did not flicker, and
Sibley remained as motionless, her hands clasped before her, looking
down. Then Searell spoke:

"I walked along a street, and at a dark end of it a man and woman were
fighting. They were young and fierce. As I came near, the man threw the
woman down and thumped her in the back, I separated them by violence.
They respected my profession, and did not greatly resent my
interference. So there was good in them, but, like young beasts, they
had run wild, and no man had tamed them. You know of whom I am
speaking?"

"Yes, master, I reckon," she whispered.

"At that time they were living together, although unmarried. I told them
I should be requiring a couple to attend to me and my home, and I
promised to engage them if they would be legally wedded. But conditions
were imposed. One of them has been broken tonight."

"It won't ever happen again, master."

"I have myself to think of. There must be selfishness," said Searell.
"There is no escaping from it. If one condition is broken, another may
be. You remember the other?"

"Yes, master--no children."

The words sounded harsh, in that fairy place, and they seemed to agree
rather with the breathing of the drunken man than with the ringing of
the stream.

"Perhaps I am hard, but I have my peace of mind to consider. A child's
cry, a child's mischievous ways, would destroy it. There is no room in
my house for children, and this is not the place for them. I have a
search to make," he murmured. "The scream of infants would lead me far
astray. You will remember?"

"Us ha' no other home, master."

"You will remember?"

"Yes, master."

"I will forget what has happened tonight," said Searell, bending from
the rock, dipping his hand into the pixy-water. "Let this be a time of
regeneration for us all. Do you respect a ceremony?"

"Yes, master, I reckon," she said again, though she could not understand
him.

"We will lead a new life," he said, with a smile which was visible in
the light of candle and lantern.

Sibley stepped forward as Oliver lifted himself with heavy movements,
and muttered a half-conscious "Ask your pardon, master."

Searell brought up a little of the bright water, and sprinkled the
woman, then the man, without any other sign, and with the words in his
soft mystic voice, "I receive you into the new life."

Then he picked up the taper and went, leaving the man and woman afraid
of him.




III


After a year in Pixyland, what was there? A garden, a place of almost
unearthly beauty, and through it the master moved slowly, clad no longer
in the clothes of religion, nor even in the garments of respectability;
his coat sack-like, its pockets bulging with bulbs and tubers, and his
hair was in white ringlets, and his hands were often in the warm earth,
grubbing out furze-roots. The terrestrial paradise had been attained;
down the steep slopes poured a cascade of colour, the pixy-path was
alight all night with white, out of the pixy-water rose golden osmundas
and the ghostly spiræa; and Searell's face was also ghostly, it was
hungry, and the eyes were dull. It was not the face of the priest who
had built up the mission, for that had been eager. It was not the face
of the mystic who had walked up the path by candlelight, for that had
been happy. It was not the face of the spiritualist who feels he is
conquering the atmosphere, nor that of a dreamer. It was the face of one
who was sad.

Searell had discovered, though he would not own it to himself, that
lonely happiness is impossible. What was a discovery if no friend could
be told of it? What was the loveliness of his garden when there was no
one to share it with? What would Heaven itself be if he was there alone?
There must be sympathy, and without it life is lost.

Intellect was losing its edge. He almost forgot what he had come there
for. Instead of ascending towards more light he was falling into grosser
darkness. He did not even dream; he was sluggish, and oblivion was over
him; which must happen when a man cuts himself free from the hearts and
brains of others. His cry was no longer the triumphant one of strength
and self-confidence. It was the cry "Why hast Thou forgotten me?" as he
walked heavily, and the weight of his own presence oppressed him; and
then he would mutter aloud, "Come and see my garden. I must show you the
flowers," though there was nobody to hear. That was all: he was a
gardener; he wanted to show his flowers, shrubs, ferns, he wanted to
delight some one with his bogplants, he longed to see admiration dawning
upon a human face, love for the beautiful kindling in human eyes; and so
he came to crave for human life, human words and beauty, human sympathy,
even human sin and shame and violence rather than the innocence and
purity and gentleness of God among the flowers.

"Master, where be I to plant this?" "Master, will ye pay these bills?"
Such were the almost brutal questions around him.

He had asked for solitude; and now he longed for passion, earthly love.

It was winter, when the nights were wild and the evenings intolerable;
and during one of them the sound of a quarrel reached his ears. Oliver
and Sibley had not been satisfactory. If they had abstained from the
vices, they had not learnt to love one another; and, as Searell listened
then, he saw the violent streets and that boy and girl tussle in the
dirt. He went down, and at the foot of the stairs heard the woman's
angry voice, "Yew ha' ruined me"; and then the growl of Oliver, "Shut
your noise. Master be moving over." Through the doorway Searell saw
them, like beasts half-tamed, longing to break into their natural
habits, but dreading the master's whip. Were they worse than they had
been? Was it the effect of solitude upon them? Sibley had no small
amusements such as women desire. Oliver had no love for his home life.
It seemed to Searell that indifference was settling upon them all. He
advanced into the kitchen, stood between them as he had done before,
looked at the man, and noticed something new, a kind of eagerness, which
he tried to suppress; then at the woman, and here too was a difference,
a softer face and eyes half ashamed. Perhaps, then, they could love, and
a word from him might kindle the spark into flame.

"I interfered between you once before. It was for your good."

"No, master," said Sibley.

"I think so," he said, startled by her independence and rudeness.

"It would ha' been better if yew had passed by and let we bide," she
went on; and when Oliver growled his "Shut your noise," it was with less
anger than usual.

"Us could ha' done what us had a mind to then," she said. "This be a
prison."

"We are all in prison, if you can understand me. The walls are all
round, and we cannot get over them."

"'Tis best vor volk to live as 'em be meant to," said Sibley.

And again Searell was amazed. How had this woman obtained the power and
the courage to answer him? And to beat him, for he was beaten. He had no
words to reply to that simple philosophy, and to the woman who appealed
from his decision. He had played the God with them, had brought them out
of chaos, and had given them his commandments; and he was no God, but a
weak man; and they were not his children.

He went back to his books, there were no flowers except Christmas-roses
and snowdrops, shivering things of winter, and tried to dream. Nothing
came. It seemed to him there was less mysticism in his mistland than in
the dirty streets of Stonehouse; and, while he mused, that world came
knocking at his mind, calling in the dialect of Sibley, "'Tis best vor
volk to live as 'em be meant to." His own body, his sluggishness and
unhappiness, convicted him of error; but, if he was wrong, what of all
religion which tells of a God of mysticism, and of his own in
particular, which, at that very season of the year, rejoiced at the
birth of a Child-creator by mysticism not through Love? And at his mind
was hot, red-blooded passion, a crude and awful thing, love for those
things which make men horrible, love for dirt and the roots, not for bud
and bloom; and a contempt and hatred for cold morality and the spells
muttered by candlelight; and the message of the flowers was this:
"Through the agency of others, through the eyes of those who are loved
and loving, not by the confinement of self, souls find the dawn."

"Mrs. Vorse," said Searell one day, the yellow aconites were out, the
first colour of the year, and he was going to look at them, "you have
changed."

Sibley had her back towards him, engaged in cleaning, and she was
wearing, as she always did, the enveloping apron of the country, which
hung from her shoulders and surrounded her body like a sack. He could
not see the flush upon her face.

"Your voice is softer. You sing at your work. You are happy."

"I hain't, master," she whispered. "I feels, master, I wants to be
happy, but I be frightened."

"Of the loneliness?"

"Not that, master. I can't tell ye, but I be frightened."

"You and your husband get along better. You are quieter. I have not
heard you quarrel for some time."

"There's good in Oliver," she said.

"I thought so," he murmured. "But I have not been able to bring it out."

He went to see the aconites, but they were cold, and made him shiver. It
was warm innocence he wanted, not the purity which numbed; and, down
below, the slopes were naked, the path rustled with dead oakleaves, and
the pixy-water was in flood. The violence of the world was there, and
nothing could drive it out.

"Is your wife well, Oliver?" he asked. "I heard a sound in your room
early this morning. It seemed to me she was ill."

Vorse was uprooting bracken, which is hard labour, and he made no pause
when his master spoke.

"I ha' never knowed she better," he answered.

"She frets less. There is a womanliness about her now which is pleasant.
You, also, have very much improved. You speak to her gently. You do not
drink now?"

"Her made me give it up."

"Had I nothing to do with it?"


"No, master," said Oliver bluntly. "I couldn't ha' given it up vor yew.
I did try, but I couldn't, I promised to give it up vor Sibley."

"When?"

"Months ago. Her told me something, and 'twur then I promised to give it
up vor Sibley."

"What did she tell you?"

"Her had received a message from God."

These were strange words from the mouth of Oliver Vorse.

"Her took 'em from yew, master," he added apologetically.

Searell moved aside, gazing at the black snakelike fern-roots. Then he
lifted up his eyes in torment. His creatures finding in the garden what
he had missed, taking his God away from him! the dull Sibley his
superior, reaping the harvest that he had sown! the dull Oliver
reforming for her, and not for him! And he had nothing, he was alone, as
much alone in his garden as in the mission-church, obeying the printed
rubrics and hearing the call, "Who told you to do this? Go out and find
Me, for I am in the solitudes."

"You are educating yourselves," he suggested, turning back. "You and
Sibley are improving your minds by learning. I have done that much for
you."

Oliver said nothing, his head was down, and his hands grubbed at the
great roots. There was no answer to make.

It was evening, the time of restlessness, and Searell came downstairs;
his study was above, and he came down only to change his rooms, to get
into another atmosphere, that he might find rest for his mind. The
kitchen door was open. Oliver was seated in a low chair, and Sibley was
upon his knees, her arms around his neck, her head upon his shoulder.
Both were motionless as if asleep.

Searell went away. This time he could not interfere, and the noise of
the wind became to him the cry of the wild world. "Men must be violent,"
it cried. "Men were made for passion," it cried; "and with the strength
of the body, rather than by the gropings of the mind, they shall clear
the mists from their eyes, and by means of the act of creation find
Creator."




IV


A perfect evening is often the prelude to a stormy night. It was such an
evening in spring again, when the wind-flowers were out, and an old man
riding off the moor paused beside Searell's boundary-wall to prophesy a
tempest. This was a white old man with queer blue eyes, and he too was a
mystic under the spell of solitude; but, unlike Searell, he had his
ties, without which no man can be happy. By day he roamed, and at
evening, by the fireside, told the children small and great his own
weird tales of Dartmoor. There were no restless evenings for him.
Searell shook his head almost angrily. He lived upon the face of the
moor, wrapped himself in its secrets, yet he could not foretell its
weather. The passing cloud had no message, the river with its changing
cry told him nothing. He went into the house.

"Where is your wife?" he said to Oliver.

"Her bain't well, master." The man was nervous, and his eyes were large.

"Who is that woman in the kitchen?"

"I had to get she up to do the cooking."

"You have neglected your work today."

"I be cruel sorry, master."

"What is the matter with your wife? Yesterday I heard her singing."

"Nothing serious, master"; but the man was listening all the time, as if
dreading to hear a call, a cry of pain, or the voice of life coming
along the moor.

The old man was right. So soon as night began, the Dartmoor tempest
broke; there was no rain, nor thunder, but a dry and mighty wind which
made the rocks shake; and through the storm came a weird light defying
the wind to blow it out, that light which does not enter the lowlands,
but lives upon mountains; and Searell stood at his high writing desk,
and sought out legends of the wind.

If there were sounds in the house he could not hear them. Deep in
mysticism, he read on of the winged clouds which brought the tempests,
and of their symbols, the rock-shattering worm, the stone of wisdom
which tears open the secrets of life, the rosy flower which restores the
dead, the house-breaking hand of glory; and the eagle symbol of
lightning, and the rushing raven returning to Odin. And he read of the
voices in the wind, while boulders were grinding along the river-bed; of
Hulda in the forest singing for baby-souls; of the Elf maidens alluring
youths astray; of Thoth staggering into oblivion with brave men's
spirits; of Hermes with his winged talaria, playing the lyre and
shutting fast all the myriad eyes of the stars. And something more he
read about the storm-wind. It was not always taking away, it was giving;
it was a bringer of new life, coming in spring as a young god with
golden hair, breaking the spell of winter, bringing a magic pipe to make
folk dance.

"At one time it lulls into a mystic sleep, at another it restores to new
life," said Searell, speaking loudly and strongly, partly to reassure
himself, because the tumult was frightening. "What is this wind bringing
to me, more of the mystic sleep, or the new life?"

He paced up and down the room, which shook as if with earthquake; and
hidden from him by a partition of lath and plaster was the staring
horror of a dream, one small lamp, turned down, giving the half-light
which suggests terror more than darkness, and on the bed a woman
moaning, and against the wall a weak man groaning. Let them rave and
scream, no sound of theirs could have pierced that lath and plaster, for
the god of violence was fighting on their side.

"There be only one way."

That was how Oliver had been muttering the last hour.

"No, no," she sobbed.

"What can us do? Master be hard, he bides by his word. He ha' been good
to we in all else, but this be our ruin."

"No, no." She could not hear him, but she knew what he was saying.

"Back on them streets again. No home to cover we, no food. Us ha' lived
easy too long to stand it. 'Twould end in the river. Better to lose the
one than our two selves."

"No, no," her lips made the words, but not the sounds.

"'Tis only a matter o' two minutes," he cried fiercely. "Then us be free
again." He left the wall, crossed to the bed, bent down, cried into her
ear, "It be awful outside. The watter be roaring down under. Us mun
live, woman."

Sibley lifted herself with a face of death, and screamed as if it had
been the last effort of her life, screamed again and again; but what was
that in the wind? Not even a whisper; while Searell read on of the Sons
of Kalew, and the miracle of their harps which changed winter into
summer and death into life.

Oliver Vorse was staggering downstairs weeping; and outside the wind
caught him, dragged him hither and thither like a straw, stuffing his
mouth with vapour, and flung him against bellowing walls and into
shrieking bushes; and still he protected what he held by instinct, and
when he fell upon the steep descent he let his body be bruised and his
face torn by that same instinct which makes the timid beast a savage
thing.

It took no time.... He was back in the ghastly lamplight, staring at a
ghastly face which was the reflection of his own; and the master was
still in his musing, and knew nothing.

"Let me die, I'd sooner," Sibley muttered simply; but Oliver could not
hear. He was leaning against the wall again; then he went on his knees,
and then he turned his back upon the bed. That face, the black hair, a
blood-stain visible, they frightened him. He passed into a kind of
agony; he was so cold and his body was dry, and there was a lightness in
his limbs.

"The watter wur roaring--roaring. There warn't no wind, not there. It
wur sheltered down under, and them little white flowers scarce shook."

He turned his head and saw those staring eyes.

"Bain't what yew thinks," he howled. "There wur moss, plenty on't. I
made a bed beside the rocks. It bain't cold, not very; but the watter be
rising--rising--rising."

So was the tempest. It would be nearing its end, and would drop as
suddenly as it had arisen; and Searell was smiling as he read of the
beasts of the forest weeping as they listened to the song-wind of
Gunadhya.

"I can't go out. Might see it crawling up-along, trying to come back,
little white thing in the dark."

Oliver could see Sibley was speaking, making with her agonized mouth the
shape of words, "Go out." He could not, dared not, had not even the
courage to open the door and look down the dimly lighted horror of the
stairs. They were in the last stage of weakness, the one morally, the
other physically; and the almighty strength of the wind gave them
nothing except the security of its tumult.

"It'll be over," he shuddered. "The watter wur coming up all white. I
couldn't bide there--there wur drops o' summat on my face, and 'twur so
helpless, and it looked up. Blue, warn't 'em blue, woman?'

Sibley could not have heard, but, with all those instincts quivering,
she recognized the word upon his lips and tried to nod.

"Innocent. Hadn't done nought. Would ha' kep we good, made we man and
wife. I'll go down. I'd go down if I dared--the little chin wur agin my
cheek. I'll never face the dark. I'd see it move, and the little
drowning bubbles on the watter. Be it over now?"

He glared at Sibley as if she could answer; and she stared back, asking,
pleading, imploring him to play the man and face the night again; but he
grovelled against the wall and shuddered, damp with an awful sweat, and
the weird light upon the mountain-tops went out, because other clouds
were coming up, having travelled far since evening, and the darkness
became real as the roarings of the dry wind decreased. It was getting on
towards midnight, and those mighty winds were tired.

"Go!" came a sudden scream; and Searell heard the echo of it and
started. The cry seemed to have its origin in the storm. He closed his
book, listened, heard nothing more except the coherent bellowing, and
then he answered, "I will." Certainly the word had sounded, and as
certainly he was alone. The Vorses would have been asleep for hours.

"I will walk along the path. It is sheltered down there," he murmured.
"This may be the night appointed, the time of revelation, the time of
young life. This is the mad music of the spring, the shattering of the
chains of winter. The growth follows. It is the birth-night."

He wrapped a coat around him and went. During those few minutes the wind
had much decreased; in another hour it would be calm and clear; and then
the awful stillness of the sunrise and the perpetual wonder of the
daylight.

There was again a kind of light, for the raven-clouds had gone by and
the swan-clouds were crossing; and the wind was now the magic piper who
drives away care, and with his merry music sets Nature capering. Searell
was on the pixy-path and the wind-flowers were jigging; it was ghostly,
but a dance, not a solemn marching as in autumn, when the leaves fall
processionally downwards. It was recessional spring, when the leaves
awoke, as it were, from their moon-loved sleep, preserved in unfading
youth and beauty by that sleep, and leapt back at the piper's music to
the branches, kissing their ancient oaks with the fervour of young love.
Every flower had a moist eye and a sweet heart; and the pixy-water rang
for festival.

One turn Searell made, seeing nothing, because his eyes struggled with
the mist; another, and he stopped. There was a wonder, a miracle, a
revelation among his wind-flowers, upon the edge of the rising water, a
sleeping silent wonder which made him thrill.

"It has no bodily existence. When I come back it will be gone."

It was still there, and now the water was almost level with the bed of
moss, and some of the flowers were struggling to keep their pale heads
above; and it was silent, this child of the morning, lying upon its back
in the moss, numbed, perhaps, though the night was not cold, and there
was a beauty upon the small face, not the beauty which makes for
violence, but that which gives peace, the beauty of innocence; and there
was also upon it that perfect weakness, and the submission of weakness
which is one of the strongest things created. And it seemed to be
growing there like the wind-flowers, as fragile, but as hardy, and among
them; for white anemones had been blown across each eye and across the
mouth, and they gleamed from each ear, and the chin was another edged
with pink, and all of them seemed to be jealous of the child.

"And it comes into the world by violence," Searell murmured.

Even then he hardly knew what had happened. He could not think, for his
mind was full of the wonder, and commonplace ideas would not enter. He
picked up the child reverently; there was no motion, no sound, no
opening of bue eyes; had there been a shrill scream, the spell might
have been broken--the contact was dreadful to him. He was tending a
sacred mystery, elevating a sacrament newly consecrated, something which
a few hours ago had been leaping like a spark in the place of his
dreams, and had been flung as lightning upon his path to strike his
heart open. Here was the answer of the flowers. To men the Creator was
as a child, for the child is the only thing all-powerful and the only
thing all-pure.

About the house Searell seemed to hear the sound of groaning like the
moan of the dying wind, and there were movements once or twice as of a
wounded body.

A dusty prie-dieu stood in the comer of the study. This he placed near
the fire, a cushion upon it, and then the child; and lighted a candle
upon each side. He stood with his arms folded, the Omega of life
worshipping the Alpha of it, until all things seemed to be new and
strange, as upon a resurrection morning, and he awoke from the sleep of
death and felt the spring. The winter was over and past, the time of the
opening of flowers had come, and the voice of creation stirred upon the
garden; and the change had been wrought by violence.

It was necessary to speak and find sympathy. He hated the solitude
because no one shared it with him; he had grown to hate the wonderful
garden because there was no one to wonder at it with him; he hated
himself because no one cared for him. "Oliver!" he called, breaking the
horrible quietness, forgetful of the time. "Sibley!"

Movements followed, again like wounded bodies, and Searell remembered
that the woman was ill and he had done nothing for her. He went to the
door; it opened, and Vorse was cowering against the wall, his hand upon
his eyes. Searell hardly noticed the horrid smoking of the lamplight,
the eyes upon that bed, the guilty, frightened man. Still full of
himself, he cried:

"Come and see what I have found."

"I couldn't do it, master," moaned Oliver. "I took it down, but the eyes
opened. 'Don't ye hurt me,' it said. I be just come. Bain't time vor me
to go.'"

Still Searell would not understand.

"Come," he said impatiently. "She was upon my path, among my flowers."

Then life stirred again upon the bed, and Sibley drew herself up with
ravenous eyes and muttered:

"Alive--alive!"

Soon the room was like a chapel. The smoky lamp had been extinguished,
the prie-dieu stood beside the bed, the candles cast a warm, soft light;
and outside upon the moor was peace. Even the merry piper had become
weary and had put all things to sleep till daybreak; while Oliver Vorse
upon his knees confessed the sin which had been forced upon him.

"Us dared not keep she. Sibley dared, but not me. If a child wur born,
us must go, yew said. I couldn't face it, but her would ha' faced it. Us
be ready to go now," he said boldly. "I ha' these hands. I'll fight. I
ha' the maiden to fight vor."

"Her lives. Her moves on my bosom," cried Sibley. "Look at 'em, master.
Did ye ever see the like?"

"What made you kinder, Sibley, more attentive to me, soft and tender?"

"'Twur the child coming, master."

"What made you sober, Oliver, fond of your wife? What was it stopped the
quarelling?"

"I minded the little child, master."

There was something tender in their illiterate speech.

"You cast her away. The sin is mine, so is the atonement. And she is
mine."

"She'm mine, master," murmured Sibley.

"I found her among my flowers, the reward of my searching. She is the
answer," he said. "Let her be to you the daughter of love, and to me the
daughter of violence. Oliver," he cried, turning, "bring up water from
the pixy-stream. As the sun rises I will baptise--my child."

"Yew'm fond o' she, master?"

"She is mine," he said, with the old impatience.

"And we, master?"

"I am old and you are young," said Searell. "But we are all beginning
life, we know nothing. We will try to find another and a better
pathway."

He went back to his rooms to rest, but not to sleep, for there was
something burning inside him like a coal from the altar; and a new light
crept upon the moor, giving it form, changing it from black to purple.
It was the dawn.


       *       *       *       *       *


BUSINESS IS BUSINESS


Tavy river rises on Cranmere, flows down Tavy Cleave, divides the parish
of Mary Tavy from that of Peter Tavy, passes Tavy Mount, and leaves
Dartmoor at Tavystock, or Tavistock as it is now spelt. Each Dartmoor
river confers its name, or a portion of it, upon certain features of its
own district. The Okements meet at Okehampton, and one of them has Oke
Tor, which has been corrupted into Ock and even Hock. Even the tiny Lyd
has its Lydford. Each river also has its particular characteristic. The
East Okement is the river of ferns, the Teign the river of woods, the
Taw the river of noise, the Dart the river of silence, and the Tavy is
the river of rocks. Tavy Cleave from the top of Ger Tor, presents a
grand and solemn spectacle of rock masses piled one upon the other; it
is a valley of rocks, relieved only by the foaming little river.

Mary Tavy is a straggling village of unredeemed ugliness, wild and bare.
It lies exposed on the side of the moor and is swept by every wind, for
not a bush or even a bramble will be found upon the rounded hills
adjoining. Once the place was a mining centre of some importance. The
black moor has been torn into pits and covered with mounds by the
tin-streamers in early days, and more recently by the copper-miners. All
around Mary Tavy appear the dismal ruins of these mines, or wheals as
they are called. Peter Tavy, across the river, is not so dreary, but is
equally exposed. This region during the winter is one of the most
inhospitable spots to be found in England.

In Peter Tavy there lived, until quite recently, an elderly man, who
might have posed as the most incompetent creature in the West Country.
It is hardly necessary to say he did not do so; on the contrary, he
posed as a many-sided genius. He occupied a hideous little tin house,
which would have been condemned at a glance in those parts of the
country where building by-laws are in existence. At one time and another
he had borrowed the dregs of paint-pots, and had endeavoured to decorate
the exterior. As a result, one portion was black, another white, and
another blue. Over the door a board appeared setting forth the
accomplishments of Peter Tavy, as he may here be called. According to
his own showing he was a clock-maker; he was a photographer; he was a
Dartmoor guide; he was a dealer in antiquities; he was a Reeve attached
to the Manor of Lydford; and he was a purveyor of manure. This board was
in its way a masterpiece of fiction. Once upon a time a resident,
anxious to put Peter's powers to the test, sent him an old kitchen-clock
to repair. He examined and gave it as his opinion that the undertaking
would require time. When a year had passed the owner of the clock
requested Peter to report progress. He replied that the work was getting
on, but "'Twas a slow business and 'twould take another six months to
make a job of it." At the end of that period the clock was removed,
almost by force, and it was then discovered that Peter had sold most of
the interior mechanism to a singularly innocent tourist as Druidical
remains unearthed by him in one of the shafts of Wheal Betsy.

As a photographer he carried his impudence still further. Some one had
given him an old camera and a few plates. He began at once to inveigle
visitors--chiefly elderly ladies, "half-dafty maidens" he impolitely
called them--down Tavy Cleave, where he would pose them on rocks and
pretend to photograph them with plates which had already been exposed
more than once. "If I doan't get a picture first time, I goes on till I
do," he explained. Once, when Peter announced "'twas a fine picture this
time," a gentleman of the party reminded him he had omitted to remove
the cap from the lens. Peter was not to be caught that way: "I took
'en," he said, "I took 'en, but yew was yawning."

As a guide upon the moor Peter was an equal failure. He ought to have
known Dartmoor after living upon it all his life; the truth was, he
would have lost his way upon the road to Tavistock had he strayed from
it a moment. Visitors, lured by the notice-board, had approached him
from time to time with the request to be guided to Cranmere. Peter would
take them along Tavy Cleave for a mile, then assure them a storm was
coming up and it would be necessary to seek shelter as soon as possible,
hurry them back, and demand half-a-guinea in return for his services.
Peter had never been to Cranmere Pool, and had no idea how to get there.
Sometimes a party would insist upon proceeding, in spite of the guide's
warning, and in such cases the bewildered Peter would have to be shown
the way home by his victims. He would demand the half-guinea all the
same.

As a dealer in antiquities nothing came amiss. Broken pipes, bits of
crockery, old mining-tools, any rubbish rotting or rusting upon the peat
were gathered and classified as Druidical remains. No one knew where
Peter had picked up the word Druidical; but it was certain he picked up
their supposed remains on the piece of black moor which surrounded his
house. Sometimes, it was said, he found a tourist foolish enough to
purchase a selection of this rubbish.

What he meant by describing himself as an official receiving pay from
the Duchy of Cornwall nobody ever knew. As a Reeve (another word he had
picked up somewhere) of the Manor of Lydford he believed himself to be
intimately connected with the lord of that manor, who is the Prince of
Wales. He knew that august personage was interested somehow in three
feathers. The public-house in the neighbourhood called _The Plume of
Feathers_ had something to do with it he was sure, though he had never
seen "goosey's feathers same as they on the sign-board." Once he thought
seriously of erecting three feathers above his own door, and for that
purpose captured a neighbor's goose and plucked three large quills from
one of its wings, accompanying his action with the bland request, "Now
bide still, goosey-gander, do' ye." He could not make his three
goose-quills graceful and drooping, like those upon the sign-board, and
that was probably why Peter refrained from doing the Lord of Dartmoor
the compliment of assuming his crest.'

The village of Peter Tavy, like most spots upon Dartmoor, has its summer
visitors; and these were sure, sooner or later, to make the acquaintance
of Peter Tavy the man. They thought him a harmless idiot, and he
reciprocated. One summer a journalist came upon the moor for his health
and, desiring to combine business with pleasure, he wrote a descriptive
sketch of Peter, and this was published in due course in a paper which
by a curious accident reached Peter himself. The man was furious. He
went about the two villages with the paper in his hand, his scanty hair
bristling, his watery eyes bulging, his mouth twisted into a very ugly
shape. It was a good thing the journalist had departed, for just then
Peter was angry and vindictive enough for anything. Presently he met his
clergyman; he made towards him, held out the paper, and, regardless of
grammar, cried out, "That's me."

"He does not mention you by name," said the clergyman.

"He says the man in the iron house wi' notice-board atop. He's got down
the notice-board as 'tis," spluttered Peter. "He says a ginger-headed
man--that's me; face like a rabbit--that's me."

It was as a purveyor of manure that Peter found his level, if not a
living. Probably he received financial assistance from his sister, who
lived across the river at Mary Tavy. She had been formerly a lady's maid
in Torquay; after more than thirty years' service her mistress had died,
and had bequeathed to her a modest income, and on this she lived
comfortably in retirement, crossing Tavy Cleave occasionally to visit
her eccentric brother. She, too, was said to be eccentric, but that was
only because she was fond of getting full value for a halfpenny. Mary
Tavy was a spinster, and Peter Tavy was a bachelor. On those occasions
when some ne'er-do-well attempted to annex Mary and her income, the good
woman's eccentricity had revealed itself very strongly; and as for
Peter, his own sister would remark, "Women never could abide he."

The Tavies always passed Christmas together. One year Peter would go
across and stop with Mary for three days; the next, Mary would come
across and stop with Peter for three days. Their rule on this matter was
fixed; the visit never extended beyond three days, and Peter would not
have dreamed of going across to Mary if it were the turn of Mary to come
across to him.

Peter had a little cart and a pony to draw it. How he came by the pony
nobody knew, but as it was never identified no hard questions were
asked. Every year a few Dartmoor ponies are missed when the drift takes
place; and at the same time certain individuals take to owning shaggy
little steeds which have no past history. When a brand has been
skilfully removed, one Dartmoor pony is very much like a score of
others. To drive Peter into a corner over his title to the pony which
pulled his shameful little cart--it was hardly better than a
packing-case on wheels--would have been impossible. He had hinted that
it was a present from the Prince of Wales as a slight return for
services rendered; and as no one else in the Tavy district was in the
habit of communicating with the lord of the manor, his statement could
not easily be refuted.

With this pony and unlicensed cart Peter would convey people from time
to time to the station at Mary Tavy, making a charge of eighteen pence,
which was not exorbitant considering the dangers and difficulties of the
road. For conveying his sister from her home to his at Christmas he made
a charge of one shilling; when she expostulated, as she always did, and
quoted the proverb "Charity begins at home," Peter invariably replied
with another proverb, "Business is business."

Few will have forgotten the winter of 1881, when snow fell for over a
week, and every road was lost and every cleave choked. Snow was lurking
in sheltered nooks upon the tops of Ger Tor and the High Willhays range
as late as the following May. Snow upon Dartmoor does not always mean
snow elsewhere. It is possible sometimes to stand knee-deep upon the
high moor and look down upon a stretch of country without a flake upon
it, and so on to the sugared and frosted hills of Exmoor; but no part of
the country escaped the great fall of 1881. Every one on the moor can
tell of some incident in connection with that Christmas. At the two
Tavies they tell how Peter tried to drive Mary from his village to hers,
how he failed in the attempt, and how both of them remained good
business people to the end.

It was Mary's turn to visit Peter that year, and she arrived upon
Christmas Eve, quaintly but warmly dressed, a small boy carrying her
basket, which contained the articles that she deemed necessary for her
visit, together with a bottle of spiced wine, some cream cakes, and a
plum-pudding as big as her head. The boy said a good many
uncomplimentary things about that pudding as they climbed up from the
Tavy, comparing it to the Giant's Pebble higher up the cleave. When Mary
raised her black-mittened hand and threatened him with chastisement, the
urchin lifted out the pudding in its cloth, set it at her feet, and told
her to carry it herself, as it was "enough to pinch a strong man
dragging that great thing up the cleave"; so Mary had to finish the
journey hugging the pudding like a baby. She was walking to save herself
sixpence. Peter had offered to come for her with his pony and cart, the
charge to be one shilling, payable as follows--sixpence when she got
into the cart and sixpence when she got out; but Mary had told him that
she could get a boy to carry her basket for half that amount; when he
protested she reminded him that business was business.

A light sprinkle of snow had fallen, just enough to dust over the rocks
and furze-bushes; but it was very cold, the clouds were low and
wood-like, and there was in the air that feel of snow which animals can
nearly always detect, and men who live on the moors can sometimes.

Peter and Mary spent the evening in simple style. Peter sat on one side
of the fire, Mary on the other; sometimes Peter stirred to get fresh
turves for the fire; sometimes Mary got up to heap the little table with
good cheer and place it midway between the old-fashioned chairs. They
both smoked, they both took snuff, they both drank spiced wine. Towards
evening they talked of old times and became merry. Then they talked of
old people and grew sentimental, dropping tears into their hot wine.
Peter got up and kissed Mary, but Mary did not care for Peter's caresses
and told him so, whereupon Peter advised her to "get along home then."
Mary declared she would, but changed her mind when she thought of the
gloomy cleave and the Tavy in winter flood; so they went on smoking,
taking snuff, and drinking spiced wine.

The next day was fine, and Peter and Mary went to chapel. Mary gave her
brother a penny to put into the plate, but he put it into his pocket
instead; he was always a man of business. She also gave him a bright new
florin as a Christmas present. He had made her understand, when the coin
was safe in his possession, that he should still demand a shilling for
driving her home, and over that point they wrangled for some time. In
the evening, when Peter had fallen asleep over the fire, Mary repented
of her kindness and sought to regain the florin; but Peter had it hidden
away safely in his boot.

When the time came for Mary to start homewards it was snowing fast, and
she did not like the prospect. Although it was not much after three
o'clock, the outlook was exceedingly dark; there was an unpleasant
silence upon the moor, and the snowflakes were larger and falling
thickly. But the pony was harnessed to the unsteady conveyance, and
Peter was waiting; before Mary could utter a word of protest, he had
bundled her in and they were off.

"Twould have paid me better to bide home," said Mary.

"Do'ye sit quiet," Peter growled. Then he added, "Where's the shillun?"

"There now, doan't ye worry about the shillun," said Mary; "I'll give it
ye when I'm safe and sound to home wi' no bones broke."

"Shillun be poor pay vor driving this weather," said her business-like
brother.

Now and again a light appeared from one of the cottages. The pony
struggled on with its head down, while the silence seemed to grow more
unearthly, and the darkness increased, and the snow became a solid
descending mass. The road between the two Tavies is not easy in winter
under favorable conditions, and on that night it was to become
practically impassable. When the last light of Peter Tavy the village
had vanished, Peter Tavy the man had about as much idea where he was as
if he had just dropped out of the moon.

"Where be'st going?" shrieked Mary, as the cart swerved violently to the
right.

"Taking a short cut," explained Peter.

"Dear life!" gasped Mary, "he'm pixy-led."

"I b'ain't," said Peter; "I be driving straight vor Mary Tavy."

Had he said straight for the edge of Tavy Cleave he would have spoken the
truth. The pony knew perfectly well that they were off the road, and the
sensible beast would have returned to the right way had it not been for
Peter, who kept pulling its head towards the cleave. Left to itself the
pony would have returned to Peter Tavy, having quite enough sense to
know that it was impossible to reach the sister village on such a night.
Its master, with his fatal knack of blundering, tugged at the reins with
one hand and plied the whip with the other. The snow was like a wall on
every side; the clouds seemed to be dissolving upon them; suddenly the
silence was broken by the roaring of the Tavy below.

"Us be going to kingdom come," shrieked Mary.

"Us b'ain't," said Peter; "us be going to Mary Tavy."

The pony stopped. Peter used his whip, and the next instant the snow
appeared to rush towards them, open, and swallow them up. They had
struck a boulder and gone over the cleave. The body of the cart was in
one spot, its wheels were in another; and wallowing in the sea and snow
were Peter and Mary and the pony. The animal was the first to regain its
feet, and made off at once, with the broken harness trailing behind.
Mary was the next to rise, plastered over with snow from head to foot;
but she was soon down again, because her legs refused to support her.
Presently she heard her brother's voice. He was invisible, because he
had been thrown several feet lower, and had landed among rocks somewhat
bruised and sprained; had it not been for the soft snow he would
probably have been killed.

"I be broke to bits," he wailed.

"So be I," cried Mary; "So be the cart."

"Be the cart broke?" said Peter; and when Mary had replied it was only
fit for firewood (it had not been fit for much else before the
accident), he went on, "'Twill cost ye a lot o' money to buy me a new
one."

"Buy ye a new one? The man be dafty!" screamed Mary.

"'Twas taking yew home what broke it," Peter explained.

"Call this taking me home?" Mary shouted.

"I done my best," said Peter; "'twas your weight what sent it over.
There'll be the cart, and the harness and the doctor's bill; 'twill cost
ye a heap o' money."

"Dear life, hear the man talk!" said Mary, appealing to the snow which
was piled upon her ample form.

"Mayhap there'll be funeral expenses," said Peter lugubriously; "I be
hurt dreadful."

"Yew won't want the cart then," his sister muttered; "and I'll have the
pony."

"Where be the pony?" Peter demanded.

"Gone home likely; got more sense than we," said Mary. "Why doan't ye
get up, Peter?"

"Get up wi' my two legs broke!" Peter replied in disgust.

"Dear life, man, get up!" Mary went on, with real alarm. "If us doan't
get up soon us'll be stone dead carpses when us gets home."

"I'll try, Mary, I'll try," said Peter.

"Come up here, Peter; there be a sheltered spot over agin them rocks,"
said Mary.

"There be a sheltered spot down here," Peter answered; "'tis easier vor
yew to roll down than vor me to climb up."

When the question had been argued, Mary went down; that is to say, she
groped and grovelled through the snow, half-rolling, half-sliding, until
she reached the shelter to which Peter had dragged himself. It was a
small cleft, a chimney, mountaineers would have called it, in the centre
of a rock-mass which made a small tor on the side of the cleave.
Normally, this chimney acted as a drain for the rock-basin above, but it
was then frozen up and dry. Peter was right at the back, huddled up as
he could never have been had any bones been broken. When Mary appeared
he dragged her in; she was almost too stout to pass inside, but as he
placed her she made an excellent protection for him against the storm.
Mary realised this, and suggested they should change places; but Peter
pointed out that in his shattered condition any movement might prove
fatal.

Presently Mary began to cry, realizing the gravity of their position.
The snow was descending more thickly than ever, drifting up the side of
the cleave and choking the entrance to their cleft. Fortunately the
night was not very cold, and they were both warmly clad, while the snow
which was threatening to bury them was itself a protection. Help could
not possibly reach them while the night lasted; no one would know what
had befallen them, and they were unable to walk. When Mary began to cry
Peter abused her, until his thoughts also began to trouble him.

"Think they'll put what's on my notice-board on my tombstone?" he
inquired.

"Now doan't ye talk about tombstoanes, doan't ye now," implored Mary
tearfully.

"Business is business," said Peter. "I told 'em to give me a great big
tombstone, and to put upon him, _Peter Tavy, Clock-maker, Photographer,
Dealer in Antiquities, Dartmoor Guide, Reeve of the Manor of Lydford,
Purveyor of Manure, and et cetera_."

"Doan't ye worry about it; they'll put it all down," said Mary.

"Us'll be buried together, same afternoon, half-past two likely," Peter
went on.

"Doan't ye talk about funerals and tombstoanes," Mary implored. "Talk
about spicy wine, and goosey fair, and them wooden horses that go round
and round, and hurdy-gurdy music; talk about they, Peter."

"It ain't the time," said Peter bitterly.

A long dreary period of silence followed. Peter Tavy the village and
Mary Tavy its sister were completely snowed up; and in the cleave of the
river which divided the parishes Peter Tavy the man was snowed up with
Mary Tavy his sister. They were miserably cold and drowsy. The snow was
piled up in front of the chimney like a wall; there was hardly room for
Mary to move, and Peter kept on groaning. At length he roused himself to
remark: "Yew owes me a shillun."

"What would I owe ye a shillun vor?" said Mary sharply, wide-awake
immediately at any suggestion of parting with money.

"Vor the drive," said Peter.

"I was to give ye a shillun vor taking me home, not vor breaking me
bones and leaving me to perish in Tavy Cleave," said Mary. "Yew ain't
earned the shillun, and I doan't see how yew'm going to."

"Yew owes me a shillun," repeated her brother doggedly. "I done my best
to tak' ye home, and there was naught in your agreement wi' me about
accidents. I never contracted to tak' ye home neither."

"Yew never promised to starve me wi' ice and snow on Tavy Cleave
neither," replied Mary.

"I didn't promise nothing. I meant to tak' ye home, reasonable wear and
tear excepted; this here is reasonable wear and tear. Yew promised to
give me a shillun."

"When yew put me down," added Mary.

"Yew wur put down," said Peter.

"Not to my door."

"That warn't my fault," said Peter. "Twas your worriting what done it;
if yew hadn't worrited I'd have put ye out to Mary Tavy. Yew worrited
and upset the cart, and now we'm dying."

"I b'ain't dying," said Mary stoutly.

"I be," said Peter drearily. "I be all cold and nohow inside. I be a
going to die; I'd like to die wi' that shillun in my pocket."

"Doan't ye go on about it, Peter. If yew'm dying yew'll soon be in a
place where yew won't want shilluns."

"While I be here I want 'en," said Peter. "Yew'll be fearful sorry when
yew see me lying a cold carpse wi'out a shillun in my pocket."

"Give over, can't ye," cried Mary. "You'll be giving me the creepies. If
yew wur to turn carpsy I wouldn't bide wi' ye."

There was no reply. Silence fell again, and the only sound was the
moaning of the wind and the roaring of the Tavy; the snow went on
falling and drifting. Another hour passed, and then Mary shook off her
drowsiness, and called timidly, "Peter." There was no answer; she could
see nothing; her fear returned and she shuddered. "Peter," she called
again; there was still no reply. Mary pressed her stout figure forward
and reached out fearfully; she heard a groan. "Ah, doan't ye die," she
implored; "wait till us gets out o' this. What's the matter, Peter?"

"Yew owes me a shillun," whispered a voice.

"I doan't owe it, Peter, I doan't," cried Mary. "If yew had drove me
across the river I'd have paid ye, I would; but us be still in the
parish of Peter Tavy----"

She was interrupted by another and a deeper groan. "Be yew that bad?"
she asked earnestly.

"I be like an old clock past mending," Peter answered. "My mainspring be
broke; I be about to depart this life, December the twenty-seventh,
eighteen hundred and eighty-one, aged fifty-eight, in hopes of being
thoroughly cleaned and repaired and set a going in the world to come."

"Can't I do anything vor ye, Peter?" asked Mary gently.

"Yew can give me the shillun yew owes me," replied Peter.

"'Tis hard of ye to want a shillun if yew'm dying."

"Business is business," Peter moaned.

Fumbling in the little black bag she carried beneath her skirt, Mary
produced a coin and held it out, saying sadly: "Here 'tis, Peter; I
doan't want to give it to ye, but if 'twill make yew die happy, I must."

With singular agility Peter reached out his hand, and after groping a
little in the darkness secured the precious coin. He felt it, he bit it,
and he asked with suspicion: "How I be to know 'tis a shillun? He tastes
like a halfpenny."

"I know 'tis a shillun; I ain't got no coppers," Mary answered.

Peter's groans ceased from that moment; he pocketed the coin and
chuckled.

"I be a lot better," he said; "my legs b'ain't quite broke, I reckon,
and I ain't so cold inside, neither."

Mary's reply was too eccentric to mention.

So soon as it was day a party of villagers set out from Peter Tavy well
supplied with blankets and stimulants; Peter and Mary were not the only
ones missing that fateful morning. The pony had returned to its stable
the evening before, and had been seen by the local constable trailing
its broken harness past the beer-house. An attempt had been made to find
the couple then, but their tracks were completely hidden. Snow was still
descending as the relief party waded through the drifts upon the edge of
the cleave. The moor had disappeared during the night, and a strange
region of white mountains had risen in its stead. The searchers worked
their way on, with a hopeless feeling that they were only wasting their
time, when they thought they heard a whistle. They stopped and argued
the matter like the three jolly huntsmen; one said it was a man, another
said it was a bird, and another it was the wind. They were all wrong; it
was a woman. Out of the centre of a huge white mass down the cleave
appeared a black scarf tied to the end of an umbrella.

Peter and Mary were rescued, not without difficulty, because the snow
was four feet in depth on the side of the cleave, and were conveyed in
due course to their respective villages. Being a hardy couple they were
little the worse for their adventure, although Peter posed as an invalid
to the end of his days, and sought parish relief in consequence; that
was simply a matter of business.

So soon as the roads became passable and he was able to walk, Peter
tramped across to Mary Tavy, to pay his sister a friendly, and a
business, visit. "There be ten shilluns yew owes vor breaking my cart
and harness," he explained. "When be yew a going to pay?"

"Never," replied Mary decidedly.

"Then I'll tak' ye into court," said Peter.


       *       *       *       *       *


THE CHRISTENING OF THE FIFTEEN PRINCESSES

A MODERN FAIRY TALE


Once upon a time there was a village called Lew, and it was perched on
the top of a hill 999 feet, 11 inches high. That is the way fairy-tales
have to begin; they insist upon going back into the remote past; but
unfortunately the village of Lew has come down to our own days, and so
has the big hill on which it stands. If we start over again with, "Once
upon a time there was a man of Lew who had fifteen daughters," we are
confronted by exactly the same difficulty; for the man is still alive,
and the fifteen daughters look as if they never would, nor could, belong
to the period when little pixy maids were to be seen any night running
round and round the furze-bushes. The only way out of the difficulty is
to be courageous, to tell the truth, and say: At the top of a hill 999
feet, 11 inches high--some say it is 1,000 feet, but that is not
true--stands the village of Lew, where dwells a man named Heathman, who
has fifteen daughters and not a single son; and the daughters are all
princesses, although it is not easy to say why; but as they are pretty,
and this is a fairy-tale, they must be.

The little village lies within a kind of ring-fence of ash and
sycamores, which shelter the cob houses from the furious gales which
boom and bluster over the Dartmoor tors. The wind is always sighing and
moaning. It is cool upon the hottest day in August, and probably that is
why Lew imports weak-chested people in some quantity. A regular business
is done with big, smoky Bristol. Lew says to Bristol in its own
language, "Us ha' butiful air up over in Demshur, and us ha' a proper
plenty o' cream and butter and suchlike, but us ain't got much golden
money. If yew sends us sickly volk, they can buy our cream and butter,
and us will send 'em back strong." Bristol sees the force of this
argument, and packs up and sends off its weak-chested folk, who reason,
quite sensibly, "What's the use of being ill when we can go to the top
of Lew hill and get well?" There is a tariff, of course, for Lew does
not believe in free imports. The weak-chested folk must buy cream and
butter and suchlike in vast quantities, or they would be promptly
deported under the local Aliens Act. As a matter of fact, they buy Lew
produce without any grumbling; they do even more than they are wanted
to, and are actually spoiling Lew--where tips are unknown and a man will
do an extraordinary lot of work for two shillings--by raising the
prices. They get absurdly grateful, these visitors, who enter Lew weak
and thin, and are exported brown and fat and sleek, like porpoises.

It is the importation of so much foreign raw material that has built up
the fortunes of the fairy family called Heathman. His Majesty, the
father--hereinafter called King Heathman--was village cobbler before he
came to the throne. After his accession he procured a horse and cart,
and conveyed people to and from the distant station. He also annexed
several acres of grass territory, by a process of peaceful penetration,
and went in for cows and dairy produce. These two businesses developed
so wonderfully that he dropped the cobbling, at which it must be owned
he was always rather a poor hand. The weak-chested imports have to be
brought up from the station ill, and taken back well; and while they are
on the top of Lew hill they pass the time consuming cream, butter, milk,
and eggs, which are provided by King Heathman, and delivered morning and
evening by the golden-haired princesses. Their Majesties of the
Palace--two cottages of red cob knocked into one--are busy people, and
have no time for boasting; nor do they appear to think they have done
anything out of the way in bringing up fifteen model princesses, not one
of whom has ever given her parents an hour's anxiety. Sickness, some one
will suggest; but that is a ridiculous idea, for the residents of Lew
are never ill, and they live just as long as they like. Mrs.
Heathman--hereinafter called Queen Heathman--looks the picture of health
and strength, and only last Revel Week was footing it merrily after a
long day's work, and dancing one or two anæmic young maids from foreign
lands like Plymouth to a standstill. Old Grandfather Heathman, His
Majesty's father, who is so much addicted to Lew that he won't die, had
the impertinence to be dancing too. He must be nearly a hundred, though
he neither knows nor cares about his age, and will merely state in the
course of conversation that he intends to live out the present century,
because he is so fond of the place. Old Grandfather Heathman is probably
the only man now living in England who has witnessed a fatal duel, which
was fought some time in the dark ages between the son of the then rector
of Lew and a young doctor, a lady being of course the cause. The
unfortunate young doctor, who very likely had never handled a sword
before, was quickly killed by his opponent, who was an army officer. A
stone still marks the spot, but it has become so overgrown with brambles
that only Grandfather Heathman knows where to look for it.

The crown princess is just twenty-three. The girls are nicely dressed,
well educated, and speak and behave like little angels. If Romney were
alive, he would want to paint them all. They are so pretty, these
fifteen princesses of Lew. Each has a slender figure, wild-rose
complexion, shy eyes, and fair hair. But it must not be imagined they
are dancing princesses. One plays the American organ (which was alluded
to with less respect as the harmonium twenty years ago) in the church;
another is pupil-teacher; another manages the Sunday-school. They milk
the cows and attend to the dairy work. All of them love animals; each
has her dog, or cat, or bird, generally with her in work or in play.
When you meet a pretty, well-dressed girl in Lew, you will not--unless
you are the latest importation--ask her name. You will say, "And what is
your number?" She will blush delightfully, lower her shy eyes, put her
hands behind her back, and tell you.

When the first child was born the neighbours offered their
congratulations, and said, "Of course you will call her Annie." In this
part of the country it is absolutely necessary to have a girl in the
family of that name, and it is most unorthodox to call the first girl
anything else. But King Heathman rebelled against custom. He did not
care for the name Annie. He liked something daintier, something more
unusual and fanciful. No doubt there is a vein of poetry somewhere in
His Majesty's system. King Heathman stated plainly he would not hare his
daughter named Annie. He would go to the rector and ask him to supply a
name. The good people of Lew were horrified at such heresy. They pointed
out what a great risk he was running. It was quite possible he would not
have another daughter, and thus his family would be branded with the
disgrace of having no Annie. But King Heathman hardened his heart yet
more, and tramped off to the rectory.

The rector of Lew is a scholar of the old type, an unconscious pedant
who can hardly open his lips without quoting Latin or Greek, a type
which before another twenty years have gone will be as extinct as the
pixies. The rector of Lew is almost as much a curiosity of the past as
Grandfather Heathman, only when people plant themselves on the top of
the big hill 999 feet, 11 inches high, it never seems to occur to them
that they are mortal. The rector solved the royal difficulty at once,
and in the most natural way possible. "She is the first child. Let us
call her either Prima or Una," he said. "Una is a pretty name."

"That 'tis, sir--that 'tis." For reasons of his own King Heathman always
prefers to use the dialect of his country.

"You will find the name in the _Faerie Queene_ written by Spenser," the
rector continued.

"Old John Spencer over to Treedown?" suggested His Majesty, who had not
dabbled much in classics.

"No; Edmund Spenser, who lived in the reign of Queen Elizabeth."

"Aw, yes, sir, I knows 'en," said King Heathman.

Of course he didn't, but perhaps he was referring to the queen. Every
one in Lew knows Queen Elizabeth intimately, because there is a little
old house in the village where she was fond of putting up for the night
occasionally. This house is still furnished very much as it was in the
sixteenth century, but whether the Maiden Lady ever saw or heard of Lew
is another matter. It is certain, however, that Queen Elizabeth occupied
most of her long reign travelling about the country in order that she
might sleep in out-of-the-way manor-houses. Whenever you visit any old
house in this neighbourhood it is only polite to say, "Queen Elizabeth
slept here, of course?" And then you will be shown the room and the bed,
and if you go on being polite you may very possibly see the sheets and
blankets and pillow-slips also, with the pillow itself still marked with
the impression of Queen Elizabeth's head.

Princess Heathman was duly christened Una, to the delight of her father,
and the horror of the inhabitants. Every one breathed a sigh of relief
when a second princess favoured Lew with her appearance. After all, the
Heathmans would not be disgraced. There would be an Annie in the family,
though they hardly deserved it after letting the first chance slip. King
Heathman remained as silent as the Sphinx, and about as mysterious. When
the time came for the royal christening, the church was filled. The
rector received a particularly plump bundle from Queen Heathman, and
placed it snugly into the hollow of his arm. He dipped his hand into the
font, and the whisper of "Annie" went about the church. The next moment
they heard, "Secunda, I baptise thee...."

The next year Princess Tertia was christened, and then Princess Quarta.
Even the rector admitted Quarta was rather an unusual name, but His
Majesty revelled in it, and would hear of nothing else. Every one said Q
was such an awkward initial; and they had to make the same remark next
year when Princess Quinta was brought to the font. "Sounds like squint,"
said one of the grumblers; but not one would venture to suggest such a
thing now. By this time the gossips of Lew had pretty well accommodated
themselves to the idea that King Heathman was irreclaimable. Annie,
Bessie, and Lucy were the orthodox village names for young ladies; and
it was perfectly clear he would have none of them.

In quick succession princesses were hurried to the font, and the
unromantic ears of the congregation were astonished by a list of
beautiful names--Sexta, Septima, Octava, Nona of the wonderful eyes, and
Decima of the sunny hair. But when the eleventh princess was brought to
church a serious difficulty arose. A perfect understanding existed
between His Majesty and the court chaplain. The father had no idea what
the name of his new daughter was to be when she was handed into the
scholar's arms. The rector did not use the formula, "Name this child,"
but substituted the question, "What is her number?" or words to that
effect. On this occasion, when the question was put, and King Heathman
had answered, "Eleven, sir," the rector paused. Then he whispered,
"Would you like Undecima?"

"Aw, sir, proper. Let's ha' 'en," was the eager answer.

The rector hesitated. Across his classical mind flashed the Latin
numbers ahead. The twelfth princess would have to be christened
Duodecima, and after that such names became impossible. So he whispered,
"Undecima is too much like Decima. We must think of something else."

"As yew like, sir," said his accommodating Majesty, although in
distinctly disappointed tones.

"Now there will be an Annie," murmured those villagers who were nearest
the font and had overheard the discussion.

While the rector was deliberating his eyes fell among flowers, the
church happening to be decorated for a festival, and bunches of the
white cluster-rose known as the Seven Sisters being twined about the
font; and he suggested that, if King Heathman was agreeable, a bevy of
flower-named princesses would be a pleasing relief after the dull
monotony of numbers.

"Twill do fine, sir," said King Heathman.

And that is how the Princess Rosa came to be christened.

But princesses went on filling the palace, and names were soon running
short again. Rosa had been followed by Lilia, Viola, and Veronica. King
Heathman was becoming fastidious. He had imbibed so much raw material of
knowledge from the court chaplain that he was beginning to regard
himself as a scholar of some importance. Then his royalty was increasing
in Lew; and he always wore a hard hat, which, in this part of the
country, is a sign, not exactly of majesty, but of stability and
respectability. He still hankered after the numbers, and was looking
forward to the birth of a twentieth princess who could be called
Vicesima. The fifteenth princess had just made her appearance, and the
father continued to disregard the petition of the neighbours praying him
to call her Annie before it was too late. It happened one day that he
cast his eyes upon two flowering shrubs which grew in pots, one at each
side of the palace gates. King Heathman could not remember the name of
these shrubs, though he had been told often enough, so he called Tertia,
and asked her to enlighten him.

"The name is on the tip of my tongue, but I can't get it out," said
Tertia. "I'll call Una."

Una is court encyclopædia. She appeared with her beautiful hair ruffled,
for she had been deep in arithmetic when Tertia called her, trying to
paper an imaginary room, having most impossible angles, with imaginary
wall-paper at the ridiculous price of one penny three-farthings a yard.

"What be the name o' that plant?" asked His Majesty.

"That is a hydrangea," said Una, in a delightfully prim and pedantic
fashion; and then she slipped back to her wall-papering at a penny
three-farthings a yard.

"What b'est going to call the new maiden?" shouted the blacksmith a few
moments later over the palace gates.

"Hydrangea," answered King Heathman grimly. Then he went into the state
apartments to break the news to his wife, leaving the blacksmith to have
a fit upon the road, or to go on to his smithy and have it there.

For the first time Queen Heathman rebelled. She said it was ridiculous
to give the child a name like that: she was surprised that the rector
should have thought of it, and she--

But at that point her husband interrupted with the famous remark of the
White Knight to Alice "'Tis my own invention."

This gave Queen Heathman free licence to exercise her tongue. She talked
botany for some time, and concluded with such words as: "You'll call the
poor maids vegetables next. If us ha' another maiden you'll call her
Broad Bean, I reckon, and the next Scarlet Runner."

"One Scarlet Runner be plenty, my dear," said her husband, with regal
pleasantry.

"What do ye mean?"

"Bain't your tongue one, my dear?"

This was a libel, for Queen Heathman is remarkably silent--for a woman.
She had to laugh at her husband's little Joke. They have always been a
devoted couple, and this little tiff was in perfect good-humour.
Finally, King Heathman went off to the rectory, where he discovered the
court chaplain and the Home Secretary chatting upon the lawn. Without
any preamble he disclosed his difficulty, and proposed that the
fifteenth princess should be named Hydrangea. There was no seconder. The
motion was declared lost, and the subject was thrown open for
discussion.

The Home Secretary suggested that the princess just born and her eleven
successors should be given the names of the months; and when he rolled
forth such stately titles as Januaria, Februaria, Martia, His Majesty
trembled. However, it occurred to him there might not be sufficient
princesses to exhaust the months, and he stated with much dignity of
language that he should not like to have an incomplete set. Then the
Christian virtues were suggested, Faith, Patience, Charity, Mercy, Hope;
but King Heathman would have none of them, not because he despised the
virtues, but because he considered that his daughters had them all.

Then the rector interposed in his quiet manner:

"The child shall be called Serena."

"What do 'en mean, sir?" asked King Heathman eagerly.

"It means free from care."

"That's it, sir--that's it," said His Majesty, expressing satisfaction
in his usual way.

"It is an appropriate name," the rector went on. "It implies a perfectly
happy condition. There may be dangers, but the girl shall not know of
them. There may be difficulties, but they shall not trouble her--at
least, we will hope so," he added with a smile.

"Thank ye, sir," said King Heathman. "And what will be the next name?"
he asked hopefully.

"The next?" said the rector, still in his classical musings. "Why, the
next child shall be called Placida."

But for some reason or other the Princess Placida has never come to
claim her name. Serena appears to be the last. She is still a toddler.
Almost any day of the week you may see her, fat and jolly, and extremely
free from care, staggering between Septima and Octava as they go
a-milking. She is generally embracing a yellow and very ugly cat, in
lieu of a doll. If you ask her name, she is just able to lisp, "I'se
Swena."

The gossips of Lew have revenged themselves upon King Heathman. They
refuse to call the baby Serena. They call her Annie.

And they are all living happily ever afterwards.



THE END



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