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your good wife. I suppose you haven't ¡ing discussions on parochial matters at broken a hole through the wall up the Royal Oak, and speak with authority, there?”
People left off calling him Lord Tom, “No, indeed, sir," said Tom, coming and saluted him respectfully as Mr. Rapdown-stairs laughing. “Good-bye, sir, ley. He wouldn't, however, give up the and many thanks to you."
rent-free house and the ten shillings a “ Tom," said his wife, when he came week from Mr. Frewen, notwithstanding up again, "you misled Mr. Frewen just that they were dreadfully cramped for now. Look there!” she cried, and room. What with the baby and little pointed up at the hole in the wall. Bertie, and the cooking and the washing,
“Good gracious !” cried Tom, turning and the chatter and noise that were alpale. “Who did that? I must go and ways going on, Tom found it desperate tell Frewen about it."
hard work to get on with his accounts. “ Don't be silly, Tom ; but sit still and And there was the big house lying empty listen, while I tell you how it happened.” and sealed up beside them. Tom listened incredulously to his wife's Tom had got to make the new rate, description of the noises of the night. and fill up all his receipts, before he He attributed them to his wife's imagina- could begin to collect; and although he tion and fears. But when she told him tried hard and did the best he could, he of the thing that had jumped through the was very much afraid that he should be wall, he couldn't refuse to believe in that, bebindhand with his work. for there was the patent fact of the hole “Tell you what, Lizzie, I shall go clean to confirm his wife's narrative.'
| distracted, and out of my mind, if this Tom got on a chair, and examined the goes on," he cried one day, when the break in the wall. Then he saw that noise and confusion were worse than there had once been a doorway here, usual. “ I'm making all kinds of mis. with an open space over the door, which takes, and I shall be all wrong with my once might have been glazed, but was accounts; and then, what will become of now only papered over. “ It was the us ?” cat,” cried Tom in a voice of derision ; “Well, I don't see how I can manage “the old black cat, that was mousing any better, Tom,” said Lizzie : “my over her old hunting grounds. She must hands are full enough — you ought to have seen the light shining through the have a room to yrurself, where you can thin paper, and made a spring right work quietly without any bother.'' through it. But how did the cat get “Ought stands for nothing," said Tom into the house ; and what could have despairingly. frightened her ?”
I "Stop a bit !” cried Lizzie ; “I've The strangeness of these occurrences, thought of something. Now, don't you however, gradually faded from their bother me for a minute, Tom. Yes, I've minds, under the influence of newer and got it.” Lizzie ran up-stairs ; and when more powerful impressions. Sailor might she came down, she told Tom that he have thrown some light upon the matter; had better go for a walk till things were but Sailor didn't choose to say anything quiet, and that, if he liked, he might call about what he had witnessed that night at the Royal Oak, and talk to Aunt Bootb. in the old barn. He was a cautious old In fact, she kept him out of the house all fellow; and he didn't care to make an day long, under one pretext or another; enemy of his neighbour, Skim, who, he and when night came, and it was time to knew, bore him a grudge already
go to bed, Lizzie took him up-stairs with Tom Rapley was soon plunged in all an air of pride and mystery, and shewed the excitement of a canvass and contest him a door opening out of their bedroom for the collectorship. It was a long- into the unused house. protracted affair, and there were many “Now,” said Lizzie, “ you see what I candidates, but Frewen's influence car- have been doing all dav long. Walk into ried the day, and Tom was elected. It your office, Mr. Overseer!" was midsummer, however, before he got “O Lizzie, how could you do such a his appointment, and Michaelmas before thing! Why, Frewen will find it out. he could get to work, so that he had his and then he'll turn us out of the house, hands full to get in the next rate by and take away our allowance too." Christmas. Tom, nevertheless, was full “ Why, Tom, I've only taken out some of new-born zeal, and very pleased and nails, and pulled down some laths, and proud. He was somebody in the parish knocked away some plaster, and sawn now, and could take his part in the even-' away a stick or two -- that's all !”
“You've only broken into Aunt Betsy's nervous ahout his responsibility ; but he house - that's all !" muttered Tom. thought he wouldn't be wrong if he had
“ But come in and look," said Lizzie the money all in good golden sovereigns. coaxingly,“ how nicely I've managed As the money grew in amount, however, everything." She opened the door, and Tom became more and more uneasy. revealed a neatly furnished room with a He had over five hundred pounds in the carpet on the floor, and in the middle a house. The premises were lightly built mahogany table, with Tom's books and and badly secured ; many people knew of inkstand and blotting-paper, laid out in a the money that was lodged at Tom's neat and orderly manner. “There's house, and there were several men in the light, too, from the skylight in the day- village whose characters were none of the time; they never blocked that up at all.” best among others, Skim; and, un
6 Yes, it's all very nice," said Tom — luckily, Skim had looked in one day when “ very nice indeed ; only, I'm afraid old Tom was counting his money, and had Frewen will not be pleased.”
seen the sovereigns tumbling one over “ Pool !” cried Lizzie. “As for Frew- another on the table ; whereat his face en, I should like to see him coming had lighted up with a gleam that made prying into my bedroom - I'd send him Tom shudder. Most people in Tom's out in a hurry."
situation would have banked the money; “ But it's in the will, dear, that it's to but there was no bank nearer than Bisbe done,” said Tom solemnly.
copham, and to take it there involved “ Then it's in my will that it shan't be losing a day, and the expense of hiring a done, and surely one woman's will is as conveyance, unless he went in on marketgood as another's."
| day and by a carrier's cart. Besides, On the whole, Tom didn't refuse, nextTom was nervous about banks also morning, to avail himself of his new of- they broke sometimes. Now, as long as fice; and he got on so well with his work, he had got the money in gold under his that he began to be quite reconciled to hands, he was safe ; and yet, when he the arrangement, and owned to Lizzie looked at his bag of coin, it struck him that he thought the risk of Frewen's find- how easy it would be for anybody to ing them out was very small.
make off with it, and how useless to try Tom Rapley got on very well indeed to trace the money, once gone. There with his first collection ; very well, that was this advantage about gold, however is, as far as getting the money went, for – he could hide it wherever he pleased, people were inclined to grumble at him, and it would take no harm. He might put as being far more strict and exacting it down the well, for instance, or bury it than his predecessor Patch. “I'd never in the garden. And yet, he would never a voted for you, Tom Ripley, if I'd know a moment's peace if he left the known you'd be as sharp as this upon gold hidden outside the house : he would us," was the remark of more than one of be always imagining that somebody had his former supporters. Some people, watched him, and was now possessing too, were uncommonly spiteful. One old himself of the treasure. lady, who lived in a cottage by herself, After much thought, Tom made up his and who had given Tom a deal of trouble mind to hide the money, and hide it in before she would pay at all, put the the empty house. That was guarded and money in coppers upon the window-sill, secured at every point, and was further and bade him take what he wanted. He protected by the superstitious fears of found, when he came to handle them, the villagers. The house, shut up and that they were pretty nearly red-hot, and abandoned, had acquired the reputation he was obliged to drop them more quickly of being haunted; all sorts of tales were than he took them up, However, he got told about the place — of lights seen, and the money in one way or other ; but the sounds heard in the dead of night, and next matter that troubled him was, how few of the inhabitants of Milford would to dispose of it.
willingly pass the place after dark. He had the money all in gold. He The arrangements of the old house wouldn't take cheques; Frewen had ad- were all familiar enough to Tom. The vised him not to do it. He couldn't be room he occupied as an office was over always running over to Biscopham to the large front-kitchen, which occupied present cheques ; and Frewen told him the whole of the ground floor of that that any delay in presentation might wing. The landing of the back staircase make him liable to the parish, if any leading to the kitchen was just outside should not be duly paid. Tom was very | Tom's office-door, and that door once opened, he would have access to the time, were now covered with rust, and a kitchen, and could hide his money under kind of red, greasy perspiration. Beone of the bricks in the floor easily tween the stones of the hearth, straggling enough. There was no danger of any bleached grasses had thrust themselves ; one getting in there ; and if they did, and the soot that had fallen from the how should they suspect the existence of chimney had formed the basis of a sort the buried treasure ?
of mould, on which there was a feeble Tom went up to the blacksmith in the growth of vegetable life. The saucepans village, and telling him that he had lost still hung on their nails with their lids the key of his cupboard, procured a beside them, once of a silvery brightness, bunch of old keys and a file. The lock now rusted and discoloured. Plates and of his office-door was not a complicated dishes stood all of a row above the one, and with a little filing and adjust- kitchen dresser, covered with dust and ment of a key, he soon contrived to open grime. The eight-day clock in the corner it. Then he went back to his own was the only thing that kept its accuskitchen, procured a light, locked the tomed aspect — its face still shone out outer door, and proceeded to explore his bright and clean, and the round moon and way to the basement of Aunt Betsy's the astronomical emblems upon it were house.
(the only cheerful things visible. Mouldy and musty, smelt everything Tom didn't stop long looking about about the old place. Dust was everywhere, him, but presently remembered what had and cobwebs with great fat spiders, who brought him here, and he then began to hurried off into crevices at Tom's ap- consider where he should dig his hole, proach, and lay there doubtfully, with and hide his money. It must be in a one cruel hairy talon stretched out, won- place he should have no difficulty in finddering, perhaps, if the end of everything ing again himself, and with that view, he were come, or only a bigger fly than ordi- couldn't do better than make the hidingnary, that might by-and-by be entangled, place in the very centre of the kitchen. and sprung upon, and devoured. In the | Tom paced it out from corner to corner, bricked passages below, a settlement of (and where his footsteps crossed each ants had established themselves, and other, he prised up the bricks and dug a raised a nest; whilst the earthworms had | hole. He had less difficulty in this than thrown their castings all along the he expected. The bricks came up easily crevices. Tom made his way to the enough, and the ground below was quite kitchen, looking neither to the right nor loose and friable. He didn't dig very to the left, everything seemed so dismal deep, for he was unused to the work, and and woful. He had some little difficulty he ached so badly across the small of the with the kitchen-door, for the lock was back, that he got quite weary and exof a different pattern, and finally he was hausted. obliged to use a screwdriver, and take “This will do very well,” he said to the lock right off.
himself. “Nobody will dream of looking The kitchen looked desolate indeed. here for it; and people are too much The black beetles had permanently afraid of the house ever to think of getcamped out on its floor, and covered it ting in.” He put his bag of money into with their odious battalions. At the the hole, replaced the earth, beating it sight of Tom and the lighted candle, carefully down, levelled the bricks accuthey retreated indeed, but did not take to rately, and removed all traces of his work. flight. “ They were so unaccustomed to “There !” he cried, flourishing the man, their tameness was shocking to see.” spade over his head ; that's a good job Like Epic heroes among a crowd of or- done, anyhow." In bis flourish he struck dinary warriors, huge cockchafers, with the low beam overhead, and hit some extended feelers, ran hither and thither, brown paper-bags that hung from the as if organizing their followers, and urg- ceiling, scattering a lot of dust over himing them on to battle ; whilst white ven- self. erable insects — the Nestors of this “ There go aunt's old dried herbs," he mirky host — formed the centres of said ; "all turned to dust, like herself.” groups which might be councils of war. He did not replace the lock on the
Tom stepped gingerly among the black kitchen-door, and left all the other doors beetles, and coming to the centre of the unlocked that he might have easy access kitchen, looked curiously around. The to his hoard, and made his way back to range and boiler, which he had known so his own part of the house, feeling a good bright and polished in Aunt Betsey's' deal easier in his mind. Somebody was thumping against the outer door, and" to see that all is kept in good order, you Tom went down to see who it was, leav- know.” ing his tools up-stairs.
| Lizzie realized the situation instantane"I want to borrow a spade, Master ously, but for the moment she was at a Rapley!” said a rough husky voice. It loss how to act. Not only would Frewen was Skim's.
discover the opening made into the old “ I haven't got one !” said Tom, in a house — not only would they lose their little confusion. He didn't like to own dwelling and the ten shillings a week, but that his spade was in his bedroom. they would also, probably, incur the law
Skim went off rather sulkily. Then yer's ill-will, and jeopardize Tom's apsaid Tom to himself: “If I hadn't hid- pointment. Mr. Frewen had been a good den my money up so carefully, it would (friend in many ways. It was he who, in have frightened me to see that fellow conjunction with Aunt Booth, had stood about the place.” Skim had hardly been security for Tom's faithful performance gone a minute, before Mr. Frewen came of his duties, and if he were offended, in.
and offered to withdraw, where could “Well, Tom,” he said, seating himself they get another surety? in a wooden chair in the kitchen, and “La ! Mr. Frewen,” she said, “ you smiling in an absent kind of way, “ I've can't come into my bedroom. The place come to look round the place.”
ain't fit to be seen.” “ Come to look round the place ?” “Oh, nonsense!” said Frewen ; "it's cried Tom, with some dismay.
only a matter of business ; just open the “ Yes," said Frewen. “According to door and let me look in." the will, you know, Tom, I'm bound to in- “Very well, sir,” said Mrs. Tom: “I'm spect the premises every year, to see that ashamed to slew you the place, sir, it's so everything is safe and right. I'll go up untidy. Won't you wait till I've tidied it stairs now.”
up?" " 05 ! that's a pity," said Tom. “ Pooh, pooh !” said Frewen ; "I “ Lizzie's gone out, and she's locked up haven't been married all these years not the bedroom, and taken the key with to know what an untidy room is. Come; her."
lead the way !" Frewen tapped his foot impatiently on “Stop a moment !” said Lizzie. the floor.
“ Tom, you must fetch little Bertie away. “ What's that bunch of keys you've got I couldn't have Mr. Frewen go near him there ?” he cried, pointing to those Tom for all the world !”. had unwittingly kept in his hand.
“ What does it matter ?” cried Frewen. “Oh! those are some I got from the “ I've got children of my own." blacksmith; I lost the key of the wash- “But the scarlet fever - " house."
“Scarlet fever!” cried Frewen, jump“ Try 'em, and see if one will fit the ing off from the chair, and running out bedroom."
into the garden. “Why didn't you tell “ Lizzie won't like that," said Tom. me that before ? Pretty noise my wife
“ What! Missus is master here, eh!" will make if she gets to hear of it. I said Frewen. “ Come, I'll stand between shall be afraid to go home. Is the boy you and harm. I don't want to have to | very bad ? " come here again to look at the place ; Lizzie looked dreadfully downcast, as don't you see?”
she told Frewen that she didn't know “ Perhaps Lizzie will be back directly," how it would end. said Tom, not knowing exactly what to Frewen stumped up and down the do, and going towards the door to look gravelled path. The thought had freout.
quently suggested itself before ; but now “ Why, here I am, Tom,” said his wife, that he heard of the illness of the bov, it coming in at the half-opened door. struck him with tenfold force : What a • What's the matter ?"
capital thing for my little lad if their “ The key, Mrs. Tom, the key !” said youngster should pop off. Frewen impatiently.
Yes ; this contingent prospect which “ What key?" said Mrs. Tom, an- was so little good to the Rapley's, would noyed.
be a useful thing for him. That bis boy 56 Yes, my dear, the key of the bed should have a comfortable landed proproom . he wants to look over the place," erty waiting for him when he came of cried Tom, looking at her significantly, I age, and all the accumulations of a long minority, would add very considerably | The unexpected prospect of an extra fiveto the position and influence of the pound note had quite warmed his heart. Frewens.
“ Pleasant he'd have looked,” said He was not a man to waste any time in Lizzie, “if he'd gone up-stairs." profitless speculation on the future ; but “Ah !" replied Tom, wasn't that a the news he had just heard put some capital idea of mine about the key ?”. thing into his head that he would not Much good that would have been," otherwise have thought of. He remem- rejoined Lizzie, “if it hadn't been for that bered those barren manorial rights which thought of mine about the scarlet fever.” were useless to the Rapleys, but might “Humph!" said Tom. “I hope Bertie be valuable to the Frewens. By-and-by, won't go and catch it after this : I should if his son should succeed to this prop-think it was a judgment. Well, I'm off erty, it would render it more complete, to Farmer Brown's, to ask him to give if the full title to the manor were ac me a lift to Biscopham to-morrow.” quired.
That night, Sailor was paying his placid " Tom !” he cried, beckoning him out. addresses to Mrs. Booth at the Royal “ There ; stand on the other side of that Oak, when presently Skim came in and potato-bed,” Mr. Frewen carefully took thrust himself into the room uninvited. up a position so that the wind should Neither of them cared for his company, blow from him to Tom — on account of but neither ventured to tell him so. the scarlet fever. “Now," he cried, “Come, Sailor, how dull we are !" cried “ Tom, I daresay you wouldn't object to Skim. “Come, tell us a story about your a five-pound note ?"
sailing round that there mountain.” “Certainly not, sir,” cried Tom, with a “ What ! about roun'ing Cape Horn ? " grin.
said Sailor. “Well, I don't think I ever “Well, a friend of mine, who owns some finished telling you that story yet." land about here, wants to buy a manor -1 “Oh! we haven't time for any stories that he may give deputation to a game-now," cried Aunt Booth snappishly. “I keeper; do you understand ? Now, you shall story up the house, and go to bed. can give a title - it's worth nothing to Come, my lads." you — and if you like to take a five-pound It was barely nine o'clock ; but when note, one of my clerks shall draw a con- Mrs. Booth made up her mind to go to veyance and bring it to you to sign." bed, go she would. Skim and Sailor de“ Couldn't you make it ten, sir?” cried parted rather unwillingly. Sailor didn't
like Skim as a companion ; but he could “Certainly not. It's not worth five hardly avoid walking with him, as they shillings. But as I wanted to do you a lived close together. As they went along, good turn - Well, it doesn't matter." Skim began to talk about the old house,
“Oh, you shall have it, sir," said Tom, and the supposed sounds and sights that “at your own price. Am I to have the were heard and seen there. five now?”
“ Did you ever see anything of the "No; when the conveyance is signed. kind ?” asked Skim significantly. Well, good-day. Let me know how the Sailor hesitated. Well, mate," he boy is. Ready for your audit, Tom ? got said, “ I did see something there once." the figures all right?”
" When was that?” cried Skim. “Yes, and the cash too,” said Tom “Why, 'twas the very night she died. proudly. “ I've done better than any I suppose you don't know that she came collector of them all, sir."
to see me that very night?” “That's right, Tom – do your backers! “ No," cried Skim; “I never knew credit," cried Frewen, turning to leave that." the premises. “What nice order your “ But she did,” said Sailor, shaking garden is in, Tom. I didn't give you his head ; “and give me the office to go credit for being such a good gardener.” and fetch Charley Frewen; so that was
“Well, sir, it's thanks to a neighbour why I went, and not out of no disrespect of mine it looks so well; he gave it such to you, Skim. Well, after the old lady a thorough digging over last year that had left me, I sat up a good bit ; and just everything has flourished beautifully ; as I was going to bed, I hears voices and did it for nothing, too.”
outside, and lo and behold, there was “He's a good neighbour to have,” cried | Jem Blake, and Bill Edwards, and one or Frewen. "Well, gcod-day, Tom." two more, as was going Christmasing;
“What a nice, pleasant man he is,” and they fetched me out, and we went said Tom, going in-doors to his wife. I round the village, singing carols, and all
LIVING AGE. VOL. VII. 352