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absence. He had been lying quite still until He could not understand it, or believe it. this moment, but now he wished to draw the He was suffering, he thought, from a nightcurtain which screened the head of the bed. mare, of which the spasms of pain he had But how was this ? His muscles no longer vaguely. felt were a part. If he waited a instinctively obeyed his will. He could short time he would regain his wonted move his arms and turn his head from side mastery of his own limbs. It was almost to side on his pillow; but no other movement laughable to find himself so impotent. seemed possible to him. He made a second lay quiet, picturing to himself the freshness effort, and a third, bringing into play all the of the air on the cliffs, and how pleasant force of his will, and all the nervous power a walk homeward would be under the starry he possessed; but he could not stir himself. sky, if he could only get out of the house He lay like a log. There was no longer the without rousing any one. It was a queer usual correspondence between his will, and thing to put him into Squire Lynn's own the heavy framework of bone and flesh which room. After all it would be best to turn formed its prison.
over a new leaf, and give up these dangerous
indulgences. He knew what he would do “ Never mind now," she answered sadly. -get the Bishop to find another living for “He was lost!” he exclaimed ; "he was Cunliffe, and persuade Justin to come back quite beside himself. I know he was lost.” to Herford Vicarage. If Justin and Diana The tears fell fast from Leah's eyes, and were living near to him, by George ! he she turned from the bedside to wipe them could, and he would, keep himself straight. away, out of Richard's sight. Her husband Richard could use stronger oaths than “ By was in every sense lost ; even the poor George!" but he rarely did so in the presence drowned body had not been recovered, to of women ; and he felt a restraint, something be buried among his ancestors. like that of a woman's presence, at this “Leah!” Richard called again. moment.
'I'm here,” she answered. The nightmare must be over,
“When did it happen?” he asked. could not reason so clearly. Who ever “ That was Tuesday evening,” she said, heard of a man forming schemes of reforma “and we're in the middle of Thursday night. tion like these, when under the effects of a I'm sittin' up with you, and Uncle Fosse is nightmare ? He would get up now. But in the next room." though the veins in his temples grew swollen, “Does Justin know, and Diana ?” he inand drops of perspiration started to his fore- quired. head, with the vehement efforts, and the “Master Justin sat up with you all last secret dread that was stealing over him, he night,” she replied, “and Dr. Vye, and a could not bestir himself and rise from the doctor from London. The London doctor bed. What was the matter with him? He couldn't stay any longer, and he said it was groaned aloud, as he asked himself this no use him staying." question.
“Am I much hurt?” asked Richard with In an instant he heard a footstep cross intense anxiety. “Tell me the truth, Leah. the room, and Leah looked down on him I must know the truth. What is it makes nervously. She was dressed like a nurse, me feel as if I could not move a limb? I in a simple cotton gown, and her hair was might be made of stone. Is it a very bad tucked away under a white cap. Her face accident?" was pale, and full of care and sorrow. She Leah had come back again, and was looklooked
deep, unutterable pity in her black eyes. “Am I ill?” he asked, in sudden terror. Her lips trembled as she spoke, and her voice She nodded silently; and he could see the faltered. tears glistening in her eyes.
“Master Dick," she said, “wait till “What is the matter? ” he inquired. “I Master Justin's here to tell you. He's gone feel as heavy as a log; I cannot move my back to London to tell Miss Di; nobody self. What on earth ails me?"
else could tell her how her poor father died. “ You've had an accident, and are hurt," Try to think of God, and go to sleep." answered Leah; "you nusn't try to move
« Think of God ?” he repeated. “ Do yourself."
you think that would help me to sleep ? “An accident!" he repeated; "hurt!" There's no sleep in me now. Who could
Then with a vivid flash of memory there go to sleep if they were like me, and could came back to his brain the terrible moment, not move a limb ? Tell me all about it, when he was struggling with the drunken old Leah.” man at the helm, whilst the jagged reef of “I couldn't," she sobbed. "My husband rock was lying right across their track, and was drowned, and lost altogether; and I can the breeze was blowing his little boat upon never, never speak kind to him again, nor it. He could hear again the sharp ripping him to me. I wish I'd only known ! Wait of the planks as the boat struck on a point, till Master Justin comes back tomorrow." and the splitting of the slender mast; and he "I cannot wait," he cried in an agony: felt himself struggling in the sea. That was "go, and send old Fosse to me.” the last thing he could remember ; but he Fosse came, and stood beside him as was on the sea then, and it was evening. Leah had done, looking down on him with What was the time now? and how was it he the same expression of deep pity, whilst found himself safe, and in Squire Lynn's Richard's eager, questioning eyes scanned bed?
his face. He did not ask old Fosse to tell “Leah,” he said, in an awe-stricken tone, him the truth; the truth would come from where is your husband ? "
his lips, whether he wished to harken to it
or no. He could not run away from it now, was gone in an instant of time. There's as he had done in old times.
been depths of mercy shown to you, Master “What is it, Fosse?” he asked.
Richard.” “Must I tell you all, Master Richard ?" “ To be a cripple for life !” he moaned, he said.
turning his face to the wall, and feeling, in “Yes !” he answered, though the word the act of movement, how utterly helpless he was formed by his parched lips, rather than lay. It seemed to him as if it would have uttered by his voice. He held out his hand, been better to have been killed outright. and the old fisherman clasped it between He was a burden to himself. To have no both his own, and fell down on his knees power over his own limbs; to be bedridden; beside the bed.
to be nothing but a living log, whilst the “Oh! dear Lord, dear Lord !” he cried, world was going on with all its interests, "I know Thou loves us every one, as if we and pleasures, and he taking no part in were little, young children playin' around them, though he was still in the world. thy footstool. It is Thy footstool, LordWould it not have been better to have all this green earth, and fields, and woods ; stepped over the boundary at once, and seen ay! and the troubled sea. All about Thy what lies on the other side of the great footstool we're sufferin', and toilin', and mystery of death? lovin', and livin' and dyin'; and Thou sees But the choice was not given to him, us, and loves us all. The mother watches whether he would die or live. We may long her little babes playin' at her feet, and wilt for death, and rejoice exceedingly when we Thou not see us, dear Lord ? Ay! and if can find the grave; but still life may be the children fret, and quarrel, and hurt each given to us, and the sun rise, and the darkother, the mother does not drive 'em away winess come for us, swinging us from day to anger, from their safe hidin'-place at her feet. night, and from night to day, in spite of all And wilt Thou drive thy sinful children away the bitterness of soul, and anguish of body from Thee? We are far from thinkin' that of which make the burden of living all but unThee, dear Lord.
bearable. Richard Herford lived to feel “And now we lift up our eyes to Thy face, this. His merry life was over, but it was not and we call to Thee. We know Thou knows to be a short one. Even while he loathed what to do. There's one has died on thy it, he could not but care for it, and obey the footstool, drowned in th' sea; and one that's rules by which it could be prolonged. He stricken down in his full strength and youth; was compelled to cherish his miserable existbut spared to live a while longer. Oh! help ence more carefully than he had done whilst him to put his trust in Thee! Thou art it was still full of vigour and the power of always good, and lovin' and wise; and Thy enjoyment. Henceforth his chief work in ways are higher than our ways. Oh! give the world would be simply to keep himself us strength; give us patience; give us faith alive. in thee. We seem to feel Thee very near to
CHAPTER XLV.-VILLAGE TALK. us, Lord. We have only to wait a little while; and Thou'lt lift us up from Thy feet Justin and Diana had found their happiness into thy bosom."
weighted with an unexpected burden. They Old Fosse's voice ceased, but Richard did were very happy ; happier than they had not open his eyes. He was passing through either of them ever been. The life they led an agony of dread. There was a terrible was very different from life at Herford or solemnity to him in the old man's prayer, in Rillage Grange. They were brought into its simple words and its broken accents. contact with many minds, and many in
“Tell me all,” he murmured at last; “what terests; and they thoroughly entered into is it?'
the new intellectual current which was “The doctors say you'll never be able to flowing around them. To Diana it was perget about again," he answered pitifully : fectly new. Her life-long seclusion at Ril . “it's the back that's hurt. Your head's all lage gave a charm to all the varied incidents right, and your mind clear; but you'll be a which every day brought to her. The comcripple for life. We found you lyin' near the panionship existing between herself and her rock the sea had tossed you on, after you had husband was even more complete than she nearly swum ashore. But you're not goin' to had anticipated in her brightest day-dreams. die, thank God! you'll live many a year yet. He seemed to understand her thoughts and You'd have died for certain if Leah and me desires without words. hadn't been sent to save you. Squire Lynn It was Pansy who was tasting the bitter
ness of real loneliness; she, who had never Sometimes Diana fancied she heard in the known what it was to be alone. Until a still hours of the night moans and sobs few months ago there had not been a reaching her through the thin walls of their thought in her simple heart which she could cottage. But when she stole into Pansy's not have told to her father; but now an ab- room with her softest footstep, she would solute dumbness had come over her. She find her sleeping apparently, with the quiet, could not tell him how desolate she felt. regular breathing of girlhood. Pansy She had so long believed herself to be first smothered her crying, half-ashamed and halfin her father's heart, that it was a profound frightened. What could she tell Diana? though wordless grief to her to find Diana How could she find words to express the there, in the place she had considered her morbid sorrows that were poisoning the own. It was no wonder, she thought, that sources of life? Diana would reason with he should prefer Diana to her; for Diana her, and talk to her of submitting to God, was full of life, and animation, and a beauti- of trusting to His love. As yet, Pansy could ful happiness, which embellished everything do neither. she said and did. Pansy looked on with a It was just such an evening in May, as the sore and sorrowful heart. It was Diana one when Pansy and Justin had driven now who was her father's companion; not homewards the year before, through the cool the little daughter, whose house had been and quiet lanes lying between Lowborough built on sand, and had been swept down in and Herford. All the village was astir. By the great storm that had beaten against it. this time every person in it knew that the
This was the cloud over Justin's happi- great London doctor, as well as Dr. Vye, had ness; at first scarcely more than the thin, pronounced solemnly that there was no hope fine mist, which scarcely dims the sunshine, of Master Richard ever getting about again. and which is most clearly recognised when The place had been in a tumult of agitation, it has passed away, and the true brightness almost as great as if every household shared shines. He would not own to himself that personally in the calamity that had happened. Pansy's presence was a restraint, yet when This evening they were scattered in groups Diana and he were alone together, he felt a of three and four all along the valley, upon freedom that was wanting while her sad the road which Richard had tramped down, young face was beside them. How to bring footsore and weary, but in vigorous health the smiles back to that face grew a serious and strength, only a year ago. Leah and problem to both Diana and himself.
his mother were watching and weeping This spring was a very different season beside him now at Rillage Grange. It was from the last to all of them. Justin was fully known that Justin was coming back with his as much occupied with public meetings; for wife and Miss Pansy, and all the villagers he was a good speaker, apart from any con had turned out to catch a glance at them, sideration of position or influence, and his though it was felt to be inopportune to give services were requested by several com- them any other welcome. All the Lynns mittees, in their arrangements for their re- who were in England were also coming, to spective meetings. But he found himself a stay at Herford Court while their affairs were person of much less social importance, as the settled, for Richard could neither be moved secretary of a small charity, than he had been from Rillage Grange nor bear the noise of a as the possible candidate for parliamentary number of visitors there. membership. As to Pansy, the season was a “ Please God,” said old Fosse, “we shall miserable counterfeit of the last. She heard have Master Justin and Miss Pansy back of the same things, read of them in the news among us for good. Herford's never like
No one mentioned the Fortescues in her hearing objected one of his hearers, “ Master Justin --those summer friends of hers, who had won 'ud be nought but a bailiff.” her girlish heart, and tossed it away as a “Master or bailiff," answered old Fosse, worthless bauble. It was the bitterness of “Herford 'ud be a different place wi' Master this which crushed Pansy's spirit. She Justin in it." envied Jenny Cunliffe, who had always “Th' old squire has well nigh ruined envied her. Why had not her father been Rillage,” said Dan Popham, from the home content to remain the humble vicar of Her- farm at Rillage ; “th say Captain Lynn "ili ford, when she would have grown up as his find himself up to th' neck in mortgages. daughter unnoticed and uncourted ?
He'd no share in his mother's fortune, bein'
his father's heir, and he can't afford to live Two carriages were coming down the at the place now it's come to him. It's valley, and the villagers stood aside under many a year since any one of us has clapped the hedgerows, the men taking off their caps eyes on any o'th' Lynns, except Miss Di. and the women curtseying in silence as they What 'ill they do with th' Grange, thinks-ta?" passed.
passed. There was a gravity and a sadness " It ’ill be many a long week ere Master about this return, that struck painfully upon Dick can be moved, if all's true," said Pansy, who was looking eagerly from side to another.
side at the old familiar faces. When the “What 'ill Leah Dart do now?” asked a carriages were out of sight the people disthird ; “ she's not been a fine lady for long. persed slowly to their own homes. Folks say there won't be a brass farthin' for “Didst-ta see Miss Pansy?" they asked her when all's over—not a farthin'. She'll be one another. “She looks like as if she was sorry she turned up her nose at thee, Dan struck for death? It was like a funeral, Popham."
their comin' back." “I'd marry Leah Dart any day she'd have “God forbid !” said Mrs. Fosse and the me,” said Dan; "she's a brave lass.”
other mothers in the village. “ Leah's made up her mind to stay wi’ Master Dick, as long as he needs her,"
CHAPTER XLVI.-WILLING SERVICE. answered old Fosse. “She's saved his life, The Lynn family had met under somewhat and now she'll take care of it, and she's a strange circumstances. Their father's death rare good nurse. Master Dick ’ill have every had brought them together, yet there were comfort nursin’ can give him. And Leah no funeral rites to be attended. It would has repented herself sore for all her folly and have been a relief to go through the ordinary sin, and, please God! she'll make a good ceremonies which follow death. For a day woman yet.”
or two, until some idea had been gained as “ If Master Justin comes back for good," to the state of old Squire Lynn's affairs, the said the woman who had spoken of Leah, sons passed away their time in rambling over “which 'ill be mistress at Herford Court, the the neglected estate, and the badly cultivated old madam or the new one?”
fields of the home-farms, whilst Diana and That was a question none of them could one of her eldest sisters, the only daughters
It was well known that Mrs. Her living in England, were occupied in proford set great store on her position as mis- viding their mourning dresses. Diana alone tress of Herford, and had frequently declared mourned over her father, to whom she had that no new mistress could or should depose given the best of her life, and for whom she her.
had hoped against hope. The catastrophe “Mrs. Cunliffe 'ill miss gettin' her own she had always dreaded, and which she had way this time,” remarked the same woman, averted during many years by a complete who was notorious as a gossip in Herford. self-sacrifice, had overtaken him as soon as “ There's no chance of Master Dick ever she had left him to other guardianship. gettin' married now, so Miss Jenny is safe. IOught she then to have remained with him? thought as all Mrs. Cunliffe's eggs 'ud never Her father's widow was an encumbrance get hatched; she'll have to put up wi' a few and embarrassment. There was, of course, addled ones.”
no provision for her; and none of Diana's There was a general titter, understood by brothers and sisters were willing to do anyall but old Fosse himself, who was the only thing for Leah, who kept herself out of sight person in Herford that did not know the as much as she could, with an instinctive history of Mrs. Cunliffe's chickens.
feeling that they all blamed her for the sudden “ Hush! hush ! hush !” he said, in a death of their father. When Diana saw her kindly tone, “we must all put up wi' addled first, she was startled at the paleness of her eggs. Let's take care we don't hatch cocka- face, and the traces of long, continuous trice eggs. There's a many sins have got a weeping about her eyes. Justin had sent smooth white shell outside 'em, but when Leah across to Herford Court to get over they're hatched, they sting. I don't know the inevitable meeting with his wife, which what eggs Mrs. Cunliffe has to do with ; but had been put off from day to day, and she poor Leah has hatched hers, and a pretty fell down on her knees before Diana.
“for all the same, all the same; silly creatures leavin' him !" cried Leah ; " but I thought that don't know what they're wishin' for.” Master Dick was safe away, and there'd be
“Here they come,” shouted Dan Popham. nobody to come and tempt him. I did my