Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY.

543

6

а

6

6

the strain of which upon the brain was agony even cried Owen ; 'she has tumbled off Craigddu, and more profound than the most cruel suffering of the has broken her leg.' body. And then he began to think of green fields, But there was no dying sheep lying under and the haymaking time, and of the men whetting Craigddu. Owen began to

swear in Welsh. their scythes, and of the sheep calling to their Diaoul! Am I to have all my trouble without lambs in the swelling breasts of the Downs. Then recompense, you miserable deceiver ? Couldn't his senses came to him for a moment, and he knew you be satisfied to sup on nothing yourself, without that he was mad as he lay there, wounded, dying, asking me to the feast, you old sinner! Diaoul ! bleating like a lamb that has been shut out from If I hadn't the rheumatism in my right arm, I'd the sheep-fold.

break your leg with a stone, you brute! B-a-a-an

b-a-a-a, b-a-a-a!' shouted Owen in derision to the CHAPTER X.

raven. *No cold mutton for supper, eh? B-a-a-o, The crags repeat the raven's croak

b-a-a-a!' In symphony austere;

• M-a-a-a, m-a-a-a!'—just like the whisper of the Thither the rainbow comes, the cloud, And mists that spread the flying shroud.

ghost of a lamb—Owen heard faintly from the

direction of the Craigddu. I have said that the Rev. Owen Gwyar gath- •The Lord have mercy upon me! He has ered up the reins into his hand, and drove on; taught the raven to bleat, just as He taught but I should more correctly have said that he Balaam's ass to speak, to reprove me for my sins, would have driven on, had his pony consented. miserable, unworthy priest that I am !' The pony, having found some succulent shrub Owen really was frightened and perplexed, and growing in the loose stone wall which bounded for the moment imagined himself the object of the road, was not inclined to leave it at present. some special interposition of Providence; but the A whisk of the tail, a toss of the head, a sidelong raven, alarmned at Owen's gestures, rose once more movement into the ditch, were all the results of on the wing, and flapped away towards the hills ; Owen’s manipulations with whip and reins. whilst again from the Craigddu, this time more

The three most particular curses a man can be distinctly, resounded the cry : M-a-a-a, m-a-a-a!' afflicted with,' said Owen—'a jibbing horse, a * There's a sheep there, after all,' said Owen, scolding wife, and a bucket that's never filled. maki his way to the place. Well, I'm not the most unfortunate man in the The Craigddu was a huge granitic boulder which world, for I never was married. If I can shame lay upon a mass of gravel and detritus, the moraine, her into moving on, perhaps ?' Owen threw the perhaps, of some antediluvian glacier; a snaller reins on to the splash-board, put his hands into rock reclined against it, and the interstices of the his pockets, and began to whistle. There !'he rock were filled up by smaller fragments of stone said to himself; 'we will see which will be tired and rubbish from the river-floods. first. After a time, however, this inaction became There was no living thing lying by the Craigddu. irksome, and Owen was again preparing for active Owen looked round in amazement, and again heard measures against the pony, when he heard once a bleat, this time much more distinctly, as though more the dull croak of the raven.

from the very rock under his feet. Deed,' said Owen, “I'll go and look for that 'It's the T'ylwyth Teg,'* said Owen, falling on his sheep. If I find it, and bring it home, Robert knees. He knew a little prayer his grandfather Evans of Esgair will give me half of it for my had taught him ; it wasn't to be found in the trouble ; and I will have it stewed, and I will eat, Prayer-book, which contains, indeed, no prayer and forget all my miseries. In the meantime, the against fairies and warlocks, but it was a prayer to pony will be tired of standing, and be really to go the Virgin, a rhyming Welsh distich, the monks on when I come back.' He jumped out of the of Caerhun had taught the people ages ago. dog-cart, and made his way across the country, by M-a-a, in-a-a!' again sounded from under his a track he well knew, to the mouldering walls of feet. the old Roman station of Medioclunum.

*B-a-a-a! b-a-a!' roared Owen back again. 'I may Even now, though the wintry rays of the sun as well speak them fair,' he whispered to himself; gave small heat to the frosty air, yet the atmos- | 'and, indeed, it isn't civil not to speak when you're phere about the ruined town felt warm and invit- spoken to.' ing. The ground on which it stood sloped down • M-e-e-a-a, m-e-e-a-a!'—this time with an altered towards the south, and it was encompassed on two inflection and more plaintive cadence. sides by the brawling river, whose high banks and I'm done now,' thought Owen ; 'I've got to rocky, foaming bed afforded ample security against the end of my vocabulary. Name o' goodness! surprise in that quarter. Nature and art combined however shall I deal with them? Let me see, how had scarped the sides of the plateau farthest from will I begin? Ahem!'he coughed in an apologetic the stream ; and the narrow neck which united and preliminary way: it with higher hills behind was fortified with a • Halloo !' sounded just below him like a pistoltreble series of mounds and ditches.

shot. Seated on the topmost stone of what had once Owen looked for a hole to hide himself in, a bit of been the Prætorian gate sat the old raven, Bannoch, rock or a stone to cover him ; every moment he exregarding the approaching figure suspiciously with pected to see filing forth from the ground the mystic his bright, lucent eyes. °He rose slowly into the battalions of the Tylwyth Teg; and woe to him who air as Owen approached, circled round the ruins saw that sight! for, indeed, a man inherits his once or twice, and then settled himself deliberately fantasies and superstitions, and can no more shake on a farther heap of stones, which lay wide of the them off at the bidding of reason, than he can station, just under the detached mass of rock change the set and bias of his character by mere known as the Craigddu. *Ah, that 's where she is, then, the dying sheep,'|

* The beautiful family—the fairies,

a

만,

The mystic arm, the sacred brand,

The lake whose moonlit heaving breast Bore the strange death-boat-in that land

Are hid from mortal quest.

We may not in Garde Joyeuse hold

High revelry; but with the sound Of those wild waters upward rolled,

We view the Table Round;

6

And from these crumbling walls the spell

Is lifted. Lo ! the Blameless King Sits with his peers. What tongue can tell

The thoughts their faces bring?

internal resolutions. So, though Owen was conscious he was making a fool of himself, he was completely overpowered by superstitious terror, and tried to hide himself behind the Craigddu.

Between the great crag and the smaller rock which leaned against it, the earth had given way, and exposed a sunken chasm ; and when Owen, in his fright, ran round the rock, intending to hide in the niché between the two, the ground gave way still more, and he half-slipped and half-fell into a dark and gloomy cavern, which had existed, undiscovered, for centuries below the Craigddu.

• They've got me now,' said Owen. What will they do with me? Keep me underground till the day of judgment, marry me to the queen of the fairies, perhaps ! Name o' goodness, I'll bear it all !

The cavern, though dark, was clean and dry ; its roof was formed by the sloping edges of the rocks above ; its flooring was of fine river-gravel. As Owen's eyes became accustomed to the light, he saw a figure lying in the corner—a figure, as it seemed to him, of portentous size.

* Anwyl dad! I thought they were little bits of things; they must have grown since the days of mny grandfather.

Drwg yn fechan, gwaeth yn faur'

(Bad when little, worse when great), muttered Owen.

• Water, water! drink, drink!' said a hoarse voice from the corner ; and then Owen found that there was no fairy there, but a man who lay in the corner groaning

Sir Lancelot, knighthood's flower ; Gawain,

The tried, the trusty ; Guinevere, Love's Rose, with Merlin in her train,

And swan-white dames are here.

[ocr errors]

An instant Fancy can delude

Her vot'ry with that splendid past; But soon dies out her airy brood,

Alas, too bright to last !

Yet something lingers in the mind,

A fragrance from these visions old; Types in their sapless forms we find

By which ourselves to mould.

Hence valour, simple faith, emprise,

That daunted from no foe will turn,
Love strong as death, the truth that lies

In noble life, we learn.
We tarry while the gorgeous dream

Fades from these far-famed darkling knolls, Thrice happy if the heroic gleam

Irradiate our souls

TINTAGE L.

PERCHED on this living granite, rest,

To watch day's life-blood stain the seaThe sea that, rolling from the west,

Roars here eternally.

List how the weed-fringed, dripping walls

Resound sore-smitten with the waves ! What time the silver torrent falls

In thunder from their caves.

If precious seed we bear away

For future fruit from these gray walls, Where Eld and Silence shall hold sway

Till earth in ruin falls.

But see ! there homeward flies the chough,

King Arthur's bird-night onward speeds ; Of old-world lore and dreams, enough!

Turn we, my soul, to deeds !

Before, a waste; behind us, rise

Tintagel's time-worn vaults and aisles ; O'er Arthur's buried grandeur sighs

The breeze that haunts these piles.

What mem'ries from dim ages roll !

What pageants cluster round that name ! If dreams of Arthur charm the soul

A golden hour, small blame.

The Publishers of CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL beg to direct the attention of CONTRIBUTORS to the following notice : 1st. All communications should be addressed to the

Editor, 47 Paternoster Row, London.' 2d. To insure the return of papers that may prove

ineligible, postage-stamps should in every case accom.

pany them. 3d. All MSS. should bear the author's full CHRISTIAS

name, surname, and address, legibly written. 4th. MSS. should be written on one side of the leaf onls.

Unless Contributors comply with the' abore rules, the Editor cannot undertake to return rejected papers.

If, flying busy days, the mind

Love musing on these lonely heights, O'er those the ruins once enshrined,

King Arthur and his knights !

Leagues, leagues below that dark sea-line,

Sleeps wondrous Lyonness, whence came The Brave and Fair, song-wreaths to twine

Round Arthur's crescent fame.

Printed and Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, 47 Pater

noster Row, London, and 339 High Street, EDINBURGH Also sold by all Booksellers.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

No. 453.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 1872.

Price 11d.

than to hear; his voice was his weak point: the EXPERIENCES MATRIMONIAL. higher it was raised, the more reedy it grew, as In the earlier years of my clerical life, it was my I realised on my first Sunday afternoon, when, fortune to hold a curacy in one of the ancient after the baptismal service was concluded—there metropolitan parishes.

were eight babies that day-he shocked my notions The church was in point of architectural beauty of propriety by thus addressing the assembled sponby no means what it might have been, although sors : ‘Ladies as wishes to be churched, please to efforts towards its improvement had been made go up to the rails ;' which the ladies accordingly when I first entered on my duties. Yet, unpre

did. possessing as was the appearance of the building, We had morning prayers on Wednesdays and it seemed to exercise an almost magnetic power of Fridays. On my first Wednesday, I well remember attraction upon persons about to marry; and to that the snow, or rather what had been the snow, such an extent was this the case, that when I left was deep on the ground. I had put on my surthe parish, I had myself married one couple for plice, and was leaving the vestry, when J. B. stopped every day of the period during which I had held me: 'Better see if there 's a congregation first, the curacy.

sir. He entered the church, and in a minute or Seldom did an evening pass without a ring at so returned : 'If you please, sir, there was only the bell of my lodgings about nine or ten o'clock, Captain M.; and he said as there was only him, and the entry of a peculiarly folded paper with he wouldn't trouble you; and he's gone, sir. ever the self-same contents :

This, however, I ought to say, did not happen

a second time: we always had a congregation, “Rev. SiR-A wedding (two or three weddings, though it was often a very limited one. and now and then even six or seven) at ten o'clock

There was a special point, however, on which, I to-morrow morning.–Your obedient servant, J. B. must own, J. B. deserved my gratitude. He had a clerk.'

son who wrote a large and very legible hand; this He was a wonderful man, that same J. B. My son was his father's amanuensis, and used to write vicar, who had not the best of health, though he did the names in the ‘Bans Book.' his part according to his ability, was a handsome It was the custom for the congregation to sit man of some fifty-five years, and looked his pro- down every Sunday morning after the second fession ; but J. B. on Sundays, as far as 'dress and lesson, whilst I published from twenty to thirty deportment' went, with the neatest and stiffest of pair from various parishes for the first second, and white cravats, and the glossiest of strictly clerical third times of asking; and but for the exceeding coats, and a look which seemed to say: Vicars legibility of the writing, should many a time have and curates may be all very well in their way, broken down. I learned then for the first time but I know on whose shoulders the real responsi- with what strange and complicated names it is bilities of the service rest,' fairly eclipsed us both. possible for people to go through the world ; nor He had seen, as he told me, four vicars 'out'—he was it easy to avoid at times saying spinster after has since seen a fifth—and curates without number; a man's name, and bachelor after that of a his post was a lucrative one ; and he was reported woman. to have done well for himself in his business—that My predecessor in the curacy was very shortof an undertaker_so, perhaps, it was but natural sighted, and I was told that, as a rule, it took him that he should be tolerant of the vicar and con- ten minutes or more to get through the bans.” descending to the curate, as to 'men who come and And this brings me back to the marriages. men who go,' while clerks go on for ever.

They were of all degrees, high and low, rich and But, like the peacock, he was better to look at poor. One morning I found myself confronted by e

6

[ocr errors]

ten bridemaids ; on another, the bridegroom con- man begin: ‘I, Mary,' or whatever the name might fided to the clerk in the vestry after the ceremony, be, to his partner's intense disgust. that it had not been his fortune to get much car- It will easily be seen that the great majority of riage-exercise in the course of his life, and that, as our weddings were the reverse of aristocratic. To he had made up his mind to ride to his wedding, what class, however, to assign some of them would one of his friends had wheeled him to church in a be difficult. wheelbarrow. Speaking generally, I must say that An elderly gentleman, whose card announced had the brides been as dense as the men, the require him as an officer of rank in the army, called upon ments of the marriage service could in very few me one evening and produced a marriage license

, cases have been got through at all; the majority of saying that he wished to be married as early as my bridegrooms appeared to have not the slightest possible on the following morning. Accordingly

, idea of what they had to say, or of what they ought he appeared with a rather over-dressed lady, some to do. As a rule, they were also far more nervous twenty-five years his junior, and, by way of witthan their fair partners, whose impatience with nesses, a stout elderly couple of the small-tradestheir stupidity became at times only too apparent. man rank. All went well until the time came for I used to wonder what would become of me on signing the registers. I asked the usual questions, these occasions if J. B. were taken ill, or other among them the profession of the father of each wise detained from his duties.

party; major-general was given and entered as the Imagine six couples with their attendant wit-quality, trade, or profession of the bridegroom's nesses, bridemaids and groomsmen, for the most parent. Your father's profession, if you please ? ' I part utterly unknown to the clergyman-in our asked the lady. "Gardener' was the reply. I own parish were over ten thousand people, and thought that her husband looked much perturbed, very many outsiders came to our church to be but I duly entered the item, and thought no more married—and ignorant as to what was required about it until the next day, when, to my surprise, of them as to position, answers, &c. The modus he again called at my lodgings, and after an operandi was as follows. After some minutes elaborate explanation as to the true position of his had been spent in arranging them in order, J. wife's father, which he represented to be that of a B. was seen to place in a Prayer-book with great private gentleman, earnestly requested me to alter care six slips of paper, each one with a number this entry in the register, adding, that he was and the names of one couple written on it. Slip willing to pay any fee for the same. I did not, I No. 1 represented the first couple on the left, need hardly say, take any fee; but I made the and so on. Carefully arranging once more the alteration with a note on the margin, to the effect twelve individuals in proper order, his gray head that it had been made by me on the representation appeared between those of each pair: 'You Thomas and at the request of the bridegroom. Jones? You Mary Smith ?' &c. Yes.' "Then you'll On another occasion, after the usual threeplease not to move. Having ascertained that all cornered note the previous evening, I found were where they ought to be, he gave a sigh of waiting at the vestry a good-looking but somerelief, handed the book with the slips of paper what horsey' young man, with a license in due to me, and the service commenced.

form, but without his bride. "Sorry to have bronght I soon found that I must know that service by you out, sir,' he said, “but I have not been able to heart, for well-nigh my whole time and attention see the lady this morning ; would this time towas taken up in conversational instruction, and in morrow be convenient?' I thought it very strange, watching to see that no over-curious bridemaid and so did J. B. ; but I could only acquiesce ; and surreptitiously, though unintentionally, usurped the on the next day he appeared, accompanied by a place of a too retiring bride.

pretty but evidently much-alarmed young girl

, Hardly ever, I fear, did I perform the service and by an elderly man and woman. I did not at without grave

infractions of the law which forbids all like the business ; but there was no choice in the making unauthorised additions to the Prayer- the matter; the license was there; and the marriage book ; seldom was I allowed to ask the first was performed. Some few days afterwards

, J. B. question : "Wilt thou have this woman to thy said to me: “I had a visitor this morning, sir. You wedded wife?' &c. without some interruption ; for remember that queer-looking affair last week? She if the bridegroom were not exceedingly reticent, he was a daughter of Mr

(naming a gentleman of was almost invariably over-eager, and before I had position who lived near C.), and he was a groom, got through the first few words, would answer, called himself a riding-master, at E.'s riding-school

. often with a pull of the forelock : Yes, sir ;' or, Mr has just come from Scotland, and finds "To be sure, sir-surely, I will so. A request to his daughter gone ; he came to look at the register, wait until the question was completed had the and declared he would never see her again.' effect, as a rule, of driving him to the opposite Only too many, I fear, of the weddings at C. extreme, and making him most reluctant to would, if appearances are to be trusted, exemplify in answer ‘I will' when the proper time came. The their after-history the truth of the saying: Marry severest trial, however, was at the next point in in haste and repent at leisure. It was a constant the service, and it was always

with a sense of source of wonder to me to see, as I did see, day relief that I passed beyond it. Now, will you say after day, respectable young women, apparently of this after me, I used to ask : «« 1, John, take thee, the better class of domestic servants, giving themMary,”' &c. The hesitation was occasionally so long selves for better for worse to men of seemingly that the bride grew impatient, and asked angrily, all but the lowest type of intelligence

. Many of sotto voce

, “Why don't you say it?' which generally these marriages were only too plainly matters. Less brought about the desired result.

of choice than of necessity. Late on one Sunday Turning to the bride— Now, will you say this evening, a tidy-looking giri came to my lodzinas

; after me: “I, Mary, take thee, John,”' &c.; and and asked if she could be married at eight o'clock

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

666

A WOMAN'S VENGEANCE.

547

6

а

CHAPTER XXV.-FACE TO FACE.

[ocr errors]

was ten, but if I could come to the church at eight more I tried ; but he turned to his bride, and she would be very grateful. My Sunday work at asked in a hopeless and injured voice : "What does C., just at that time especially, was no light matter. he mean?'. She indignantly replied, with a forcible Sunday school at 8.45, weddings at 9.45, which nudge of the elbow : Say it arter him, can't you.' were barely completed by eleven o'clock, the time Then I found that he was stone deaf, and that he for morning service: this lasted till nearly one could not read a word. We performed the service, At three o'clock came the afternoon service, with a and I hope duly, at last ; but how we did it, I sermon, and perhaps fifteen infants to be baptised, will_adding only that he did not know the deaf and the necessary registering and churchings after- and dumb alphabet-leave my readers, lay, and wards. Confirmation classes followed until six, clerical especially, to conjecture. when I had to take part in and to preach at the evening service to nearly eight hundred people. And not unfrequently I reached home at 7.30, A WOMAN'S VENGEANCE. only to find someone waiting for me with a request to visit at once a sick or dying person, or with a note from a medical man that a child was WHETHER or not Uncle Magus had piously dangerously ill and should be baptised immediately. invented the statement that Arthur had been askSo that having weddings at ten the next morning, ing for his wife, mattered nothing to Helen. The I was not overwilling to shorten my night's rest scene to which she had so lately been a witness, without some special reason. This reason I could had placed her relations with him on an altogether not get from the girl for some time, but at last it different footing from that which they had occupied came out. He has got the money for the fees, an hour ago. It was no longer a question as to sir ; and I know that if he has to keep it after whether he was cold or affectionate, indifferent or eight to-morrow, he'll drink it !' And are you eager for reconciliation ; the breach between them, really,' I asked, ' going to tie yourself for life to though only one of them could see it, had already such a man as that ?' 'Yes; she was, she must, she widened to an abyss. Though she had often said ; and she did.

accused him to herself of unfaithfulness, she had I might write much upon the amusing scenes not in reality believed it; it was rather to excuse which the necessary registering of the wedded her own unwifely conduct towards him, and to parties' names, &c. gave rise to. The brides, no keep warm her indignation against him, that she longer the men, were the shy ones in the vestry. had pictured him in such dark colours : and now Write your name here, if you please. Please, that she had satisfied herself of his perfidy, it came sir, I had rather not. Can you not write? If upon her with the shock of a revelation. It had you cannot, make your mark. To be sure I can been bad enough—'intolerable,' she had called it write, sir ; and a deal better than him.-Can't I, in her own mind—to imagine herself an injured John? Why, I've kept mother's accounts at the wife, but to know that she was so--that was wormshop for “Then write, there ; and be quick, wood. Her whole being revolted against the insult please. 'I had much rather you did it for me, that had been put upon her ; wrath and shame sir.' “But I must not do it, unless you are unable consumed her. If she had heard her husband callto write. Please, sir, I don't like. Very well, ing ‘Helen, Helen!' ever so tenderly, she would but then I can't give you any marriage-lines. This have scorned him for his hypocrisy ; if he had met generally overcame the scruples, and the true her with a smile of welcome, she would only have reason for the delay came out. The bride did not set it down, with Hamlet,'that one may smile and know what name to write-her maiden name, or smile, and be a villain.' But, as it happened, Arthur that of her husband, and was too shy to ask. was just beginning a late lunch in the dining-room,

Then there was the spelling of the names, at and at this supreme moment (had he but known which, I must confess, I often had to guess, finding it to be so !) was dividing his mind upon the

respecit impossible to obtain the necessary information tive merits of cold beef and pigeon-pie. from the fountain-head. A German, who spoke Shut fast in her own chamber, Helen recalled English but poorly, had been married to an his looks, his acts, his motions, as she had seen English' widow. She was forty-five, but far too them from her post of espial above the chalk-pit, retiring to answer questions put to her otherwise and each of them was fuel to her rage. She had than through her newly acquired husband. 'Your cast her bonnet and mantle on the ground, but father's name?' I asked the lady. Henri Gôhn,' even thus she felt oppressed and feverish; and answered he for her. “Henry what ?' said I. though the sun was low and the wind keen, she "Gohnge,' said he, pronouncing the second'g'soft. flung wide the window, and sat beside it, gazing out I was beat, for the bride was evidently an English- upon the river with heated eyes. How long she sat woman; so, after one or two additional attempts, there, she knew not, but through her passionate and I asked him to write the name down. He did so; vengeful thoughts stole at last a sense of shivering and gave me a paper on which was inscribed cold, which warned her she was committing a • Jones.'

great imprudence. The mists were rising from the But my experiences' have already exceeded the stream, and curling above the tree-tops, and the originally intended limit. One more in con- thunder of the lasher was dulled in passing through clusion. A solitary couple appeared at the usual them. What cared she, however, for cold and hour one Tuesday morning; nor did I expect that mist, or, rather, was it not better that they should all would go otherwise than smoothly, until I stream in upon her bare head and unprotected found that no response of any kind, either of word bosom thus—and thus—and enwrap her in a veritor look, came to my first question-Wilt thou able shroud! But no; they should not do that ; have this woman to thy wedded wife ??-except a for if she should die, that jade the lock-keeper's vacant stare : to the question repeated in a louder daughter would wear in triumph, and without contone, 'I don't understand what ye mean. Once cealment, the prize that she had already won ; her

6

a

a

« ПредишнаНапред »