« ZurückWeiter »
---'twas me what did persuade en.
I thought ye'd be so set again him if he got the better of 'ee, and mother did think your heart 'ud be broke it ye was beat."
“So ye was all in it?" said the man, turning his gaze slowly upon his wife. “Ye was all in it-all makin' a fool o' me!"
"Dear o' me, Inkpen, I'm sure we done it for the best," sobbed the poor
nolent condition by this admonitory bellow and a jerk of the reins, accomplished the turn which had been previously interrupted, and went up the furrow again, leaving old Robert speechless with fury.
In vain, however, did he shake his tist, and, on presently recovering his voice, exhaust himself in threats and vituperation.
The racalcitrant young ploughman paid no heed, and at last, breathless and trembling, Robert hobbled home.
He opened the door slowly, meeting the scared glances of his womenfolk with a countenance equally perturbed.
"He won't swear,” he said in a voice that was scarcely articulate as he laid the Testament on the table. "He won't say nothin' nor yet swear nothin'. I'm to be disgraced—disgraced before the whole place.”
He dropped into the nearest chair, Lyddy hastening forward to take his hat and stick. Her father fixed his dull eyes upon her. "There's thing, though,
my maid," he said, in a voice which, though too faint to sound very angry, was resolute, "you an' him must think no more on each other. I settled that; my mind be made up on that p'int. I says to en 'If ye don't sign that paper ye must give up all thoughts o' marryin' my darter,' so he knowed what he were doin'."
Poor Lyddy burst into tears. "Oh, father, that be cruel!" she gasped. "The poor chap couldn't swear sich a thing. It 'ud ha' been terr'ble wicked sin. He couldn't swear what wasn't true."
Robert's face, hitherto flushed an unnatural purple, assumed a leaden hue.
“What wasn't true?” he repeated slowly. "Be you a-tellin' me, then, as I didn't beat en fair-as he didn't try his best?"
“Yay now, nay now, don't look at me like that, father. 'Twas my fault
"Ye done very wrong,” said Robert in the same
mutfled tone; "very wrong."
He made no reply to their tearful protests and explanations, and sat with his chin in his hands, refusing to partake of the food which they set before him. Once, with a renewal of his former passion, he snatched the paper from between the pages of the Bible and tore it into shreds; then he sank once more into apathy. He would not even rouse himself when his customary hour for going to work arrived, but sat staring blankly into the fire. On bis wife timidly jogging his memory, he remarked that he didn't feel able for work that day. “Besides," he added gloomily, "I couldn't look the other folks i' the face."
It soon became evident that distress of mind had reacted on a body already enfeebled by age and infirmity, and further affected by the strain and effort of the previous day. Towards noon his wife persuaded him to go to bed, with little difficulty, for he was glad enough, as he said, to hide his head.
Shortly before sunset Lyddy was sitting alone in the kitchen, her mother having taken up her post by the sick man's bedside, when there came timid tap at the door, and Jim Fry entered. He crossed the floor on tip-toe, and made as if he would put his arm around Lyddy's waist, but she indignantly repelled him.
"I don't know how ye can have the face to come here," she cried, springing to her feet. "Ye shamed me-ye gave me up, an' now I truly believe my father's dyin'."
Scarcely was the accusation made than she repented of its injustice.
"Well, I didn't ought to throw that in your teeth. Ye couldn't swear a lie, o' course, an' I mustn't forget 'twas for my sake as you did do what you did do. I can't blame ye for it, but it do seem as if I'd a-lost everything in one day—you, as didn't care to come up when I axed ye last night-an' now poor father himself. I reckon he'll never get up no more."
Jim had been staring at her with goggling eyes, nervously twisting the cap which he held in his hand.
"Where be that dalled paper?" he cried suddenly. "Fetch it here, my maid, an' I'll sign it."
"Oh, Jim, would ye?" exclaimed Lyddy, aghast, yet full of admiration and unwilling joy.
"Ees, I would," repeated Jim valiantly. ""Twas a thing what I did think at first I couldn't a-bear to do; but there, I'll do it for your sake, an' I'll swear to whatever he likes."
"Oh, Jim, would ye really? That 'ud bring father back to life fast enough, an' I d' 'low he'd be awful grateful to 'ee, but-"
As Jim turned towards her, however, she stifled all inconvenient qualms of conscience, and hurried off in search of the little Bible.
"But he tore that paper up!" she cried, suddenly recalling the fact. "Ees, I mind when he comed back he tore the paper up."
"Write it out again, then," said Jim resolutely. "Write it out an' then us'll go into en tigether an' I'll sign it on condition he gives I his word to let you an' me be married."
"Well, that 'ud only be fair," rejoined Lyddy. "I'm sure 'tis a won2136
derful thing for any man to do, more particular sich a good man as you've allus been. But I reckon the A'mighty couldn't expect us to let father lay there and die for want of a word of comfort."
"Nay," agreed Jim, with an odd look, "the A'mighty wouldn't expect SO much as that."
Lyddy soon possessed herself of a sheet of paper, and, as she remembered every word of the original document, had no difficulty in drawing up a duplicate.
"Now," said Jim in an eager whisper when it was finished, "you go in first an' tell en I be ready to swear all he wants, an' if ye'll fetch the pen I'll sign my name before his eyes."
"I hope we'll be forgiven if it's wrong," muttered Lyddy; yet she hurried forward, Jim following so close upon her heels that he found himself by Robert's bedside before the girl had had time to complete her announcement.
The little room was almost dark, and he could but dimly descry the lean figure of the old man under the coverings, while the curtain at the head of the bed partially concealed the watchful form of Mrs. Inkpen.
"What's that?" asked Robert sternly; and he raised his head a little from the pillow.
"Please, father, Jim Fry have come up to say he's changed his mind, and he be ready to swear what ye did want en to swear this morning, and to sign his name, too. An' I've a-wrote out a paper the same as the one you did tear up, an' he be all ready to do it now."
"Ees," agreed Jim.
Robert drew himself up to a sitting posture, and jerked the curtains to one side.
"Light a candle, wold 'ooman," he commanded; then, after Mrs. Inkpen had hastily obeyed: "Hand it here."
He held the flat tin candlestick at fully. “You did twite I shameful." arm's length, so that the light fell full Lyddy, who was gazing at him with upon Jim's face, the pupils of his own a startled look, made no reply, and he eyes appearing like pins' heads as they went on hastily, turning again to the fixed themselves on the young man.
old man: "Now, my lad,” he said, "tell me “She did twite I; she did boast as that again—tell me that yourself; an' you could easy get the better of I, so you, Lyddy, keep quiet. He've a-got I jist thought I'd let her see." a tongue of his own I d' 'low."
The gnarled hand which held the Jim, astonished and confused once candlestick wavered, and Robert, leanmore, stated his intention of then and ing forward and supporting himself there complying with the request with the other arm, gazed eagerly at which he had previously refused. the speaker; his eyes were shining, his
“Ye be willin' to do it, be ye?" cried lips parted. Inkpen, raising his voice. “Ye be “I thought I'd start off in my best willin' to swear to a lie?"
style," continued Fry, "an' gie her a "It bain't lie," returned Jim good fright, an' I could easy make a quickly.
mess at the end. But when we was He felt Lyddy flinch at his side, and started, Measter Inkpen, an' I found heard her gasp faintly.
ye was a match for me'ees, an' more “It bain't a lie," he repeated, with nor a match–I clean give up the nomore firmness, “an' to prove it bain't tion o' keepin' my promise; I jist setI'll swear over again as I be a-tellin' tled to the job in hand.
I done my the truth."
very best to win that prize, but 'twas "Oh, Jim, don't!" exclaimed Lyddy, you was the better man." appalled at this accumulation of in- The candlestick fell clattering to the iquity. "There, it'll bring a judgment floor, the candle being extinguished. A on ye. Nay, not if 'twas for my sake certain confusion ensued while Mrs. farty times over I couldn't bear it.” Inkpen recovered both, and sought for
"Ye hear what the maid do say!" the matches; but meanwhile Robert cried Robert, pointing an accusing fin- had thrown himself back, crowing ger at the culprit. "The very maid with laughter so loud and jubilant as can't bide to hear ye say sich things. to drown the whispered discussion She've a-told I the truth, mind ye, an' which took place between the young I know so well as you do as it be a couple. lie. Lyddy owned up as ye promised When the candle had been lighted her not to do your best so as I could and placed in safety on a corner of the beat ye. I know as you be jist makin' chest of drawers, Jim, with a very red a fool o' me. 'Tis a wonder the earth face, was found to be clasping strugdon't open an' swaller ye up."
gling Lyddy round the waist. Jim gave a desperate glance round. "Fetch that there paper!" cried Rob
“It'll all have to come out, I see," he ert, sitting up again with the agility said, after a pause, resignedly. “ 'Tis of a jack-in-the-box. "Let go of the true what Lyddy did tell ye as I prom- maid, ye foolish feller, an' come here ised to let you win, an' when I went an' sign!" down to the field I'd made up my mind "I'll sign in a minute," rejoined to do it; but her an' me had words- Jim; “but I must make friends wi' jist a few minutes afore the match Lyddy first. Tell her she must forgive began. Ye know ye didn't treat I an' forget, Measter Inkpen, same as fair, my maid," he added reproach- you've a-done."
“There, forgive en, maidie, forgive en,” chuckled Robert. "He be a good chap an' straight-forrard, jist about.”
“I bain't so sure o' that,” said Lyddy, not harshly, however.
"Nay, now, he be," asserted her father. "Come, forgive an' forget, my dear, same as I be a-doin'-leastways, I'll forgive-haw, haw! But I can't say as I'll ever forget!"
It is to be presumed that Lyddy ultimately forgave her persistent suitor, for they were married very soon after
The Cornhill Magazine.
wards; but it is by no means certain that she fulfilled the last part of the precept, for there were occasions-on market days and the like—when she reminded her husband of his liability to trip.
As for Robert, his triumph seemed to give him a new lease of life, and though he and his son-in-law were ever on the most amicable terms he never failed to assert his own pre-eminence as the ploughing champion.
M. E. Francis.
THE IRREPRESSIBLE CASTRO
President Castro of Venezuela again holds the stage. It is Holland's turn this time. The whys and the wherefores are complex and entangled, as matters Venezuelan, more especially under the Castro régime, are wont to be. The Dutch complain of ill-treatment of all sorts meted out to their subjects by the arbitrary Castro Government, of the ruin to the trade of their West Indian colonies by Venezuelan official measures, dating several years back. and finally of gross violation of international courtesy, verging on insult to their diplomatic representative, who had been unceremoniously handed his papers, with the request that he should vacate Venezuelan territory forthwith.
This is, mutatis mutandis, a repetition of the story of a few years ago when the French diplomatic representative at Caracas was equally unceremoniously dismissed. The French Gov. ernment then, even as the Dutch government now, was greatly annoyed; there was talk of blockade, whispers of invasion, orders given to men-ofwar to prepare for a protracted and ag. gressive cruise on the Caribbean along tbe Venezuelan coast, and much comment as to what the United States would allow and as to what, in the ex
ercise of their paternal solicitude for the liberty and independence of the Latin-American nations, they would and would not tolerate. Jatters, however, subsided in due course, the days, the weeks and the months acted as a balm upon the wounded spirit of l'rench pride, which had to content itself by retaliation. The Venezuelan Chargé d'Affaires was ousted from I'rance; and the world forgot the incident. It was very much as in the case of the Spanish popular ditty, describing the action of a vain braggart: “He, set his hat firmly upon his head, his hand upon the pummel of his sword, he spat viciously sideways, looked most fiercely around him, and walked away without any further ado.” In connection with these events, it is to be remembered that the cantankerousness of Castro has in its turn been displayed towards the United States itself on more than one occasion, as well as to Germ ny, Italy and England. The joint naval demonstration of these three Powers at the close of 1902 achieved some result, as it brought about a settlement of certain pending debts. Ostensibly it was undertaken for the purpose of coercing Venezuela to pay her debts to German, Italian
and English subjects; the whole thing Nelson monument in Trafalgar Square, was said to be engineered by the Ger- not to take them home with him upon man Government. It is believed, not- his shoulders. And the reason is obviwithstanding the avowed reasons given
The invasion of Venezuela would at the time, that the real object of the be no mean task for a great military undertaking, on the part of its prin- Power, and as for the Dutch it is absocipal promoter, was to test the elastic- lutely beyond their power. The invaity of the Monroe doctrine. Germany, sions of small countries, as recent hisit is supposed, wanted to ascertain the tory shows, are apt to become most unpossibility of acquiring territory either pleasant and painfully surprising unon the mainland, or, preferably, the dertakings to the powerful; the experirich and fertile island of Jaragarita, ence of the Americans in the Philippine to satisfy her longings for Colonial ex- Islands, of England in South Africa, pansion. But at this moment the and of the French in Madagascar and United States became excited and Morocco is to the point. stepped in, claiming that the Monroe In his differences from the United doctrine would not allow of any land- States ('astro has scored. Amongst the ing of forces, nor of any permanent oe'- principal motives of contention was the cupation of territory. The fleets with- dispute anent certain asphalt lakes or drew after a few desultory bombard. deposits, in which American citizens ments of practically defenceless sea- claimed to have been flagrantly deports, the sinking of a few obsolete frauded of their rights by the Venesmall craft constituting the Venezuelan zuelan despot. An enterprising Amerinavy, and the killing of a few helpless periodical sent well-known Venezuelans on board of the sunken American journalist to Venezuela 10 ships and ashore. In this retro- make an independent investigation of spect one should not forget that the questions at issue. Mr. Richard
German man-of-war, the "Pan- Harding Davis, who was selected for ther," was prevented from entering the performance of the task, reported the lake of Maracaibo through the in his articles, which were published plucky action of a Venezuelan cap- in New York, that it was not a quarrel tain, who, with a gun of ancient de- between honest and upright Americans scription, but with a most modern aim, and a rascally Government. Accordinduced the courageous German com- ing to him rascality, in all possible mander, after two fruitless attempts, shapes and forms, was rampant on in each of which his hull received a both sides, and the black pitch of the cannon shot, to turn his course north- lake, he said, had besmeared not only wards again, to the open sea.
the Venezuelan Government and its ofIn the present instance the Dutch ficials, but many Americans in all Government-so the ever truthful and walks of life, social and political, merwell-informed daily newspapers inform chants, bankers, promoters, members ús-have received permission from the of Congress, and even higher personl'nited States to blockade the Venezue.
ages. After threats that went as far lau ports, but have been forbidden to as the amouncement of an ultimatum, invade the territory, and consequently the anger of the White House subto seize any portion of it. This prohi- sided; later on diplomatic relations bebition is as superfluous as might be the tween the two countries injunction to a private individual, on pended, and whatever the intentions of allowing him to walk up and down in Mr. Root and Jr. Roosevelt may be, front of the lions at the foot of the Castro still reigns unmolested and un