A GREAT DISCOVERY.
NOW Friday night
had recently been made pay night at night at the mill, and
consequently it had become the busiest one of the week at the
clog-shop. People came to order new clogs or to pay for
repairs, and so there was an intermittent stream of customers coming
and going all the evening. Everybody who came on this
particular night received the news about "The Lamplighter," and
either strolled to the fire in order to discuss, at becoming length,
all the bearings of such an extraordinary case, or else they hurried
away to impart their news where they were sure of a sufficiently
wondering reception. Consequently, as talk became more
general, a great many new and interesting facts were gathered about
this now all-popular young man. Everybody knew, now that they
were reminded of it, that he always had been "skew-whift," and went
"colly-west" to everybody else. Johnty Harrop made a rather
transparent bid for distinction by informing the company that Andrew
had been his big-piecer, and was reminded by another minder present
that he was "allis maulin' abaat wi' bewks." This recalled the
fact which nobody had thought of though now, that Andrew was
scarcely ever seen abroad without a volume of some sort in his hand;
and Luke Yates, his brother-in-law, imparted the additional
information that you could hardly get into Andrew's "chamber durhoil
fur bewks." Then the conversation drifted back to the meeting
at the schoolhouse, and from that to the wonderful articles they had
all relished so keenly in the Gazette.
"Mon!" cried Sam, glaring with intense conviction at Ben, "tha'll
hev a son 'ith parlyment if tha lives lung enough." But Ben
closed his eyes and turned his head away, for he was not enjoying
At this point there strolled into the shop a person who very
seldom resorted thither. It was little Eli, the village herb
doctor. He was not only herbalist, but barber and
blacking-maker as well. He kept ferrets and canaries and all
kinds of singing birds; whilst the village constable was only too
well aware that his house was the rendezvous of poachers.
Every boy in Beckside could tell you that Eli had an infallible
remedy for warts, and every old crone about the place consulted him
about the charming of erysipelas and rheumatism. He was much
more feared than liked in the village, and the clog-shop worthies
held him in abhorrence. He had been nicknamed little because
of his enormous length, and nobody looking at his yellow wrinkled
face and small deep-set eyes would be surprised that he was regarded
as something uncanny. Disappointed at not finding Jabe behind
the counter, Eli turned towards the large circle round the fire, and
cried, with a wicked leer that puckered his whole face, "Aw thowt as
aw th' cliver lads i' Beckside coom aat o' th' Sunday schoo'!"
The only response was freezing silence, and Eli, never
comfortable in the clog-shop, but now intent on his little triumph,
waited for a moment, and then went on, "It seems owd Eli con teich
as well as M-e-s-t-e-r L-u-n-g-w-o-r-t-h"; and he drew out Jabe's
name with vicious, grating sarcasm.
Still nobody replied; and so, after waiting a moment or two,
Eli threw his clogs down upon the counter, and, turning again
towards the fire, cried, "Aw say, Jabe!"
"Well, wot is it?" came in gruffest tones from the
"If yo'n onny mooar lads yo' Gonna manidge i' yore schoo',
send 'em o'er to me"; and with this last vindictive shot the
The calculated bitterness of Eli's words was only too
effectual; every face at the fire became overcast, and the older men
looked crestfallen and dismayed. Eli was a dangerous
freethinker, who had never been seen inside any place of worship
within the memory of the oldest person present. It was known
that he received an infidel newspaper every week through the post,
and was an enthusiastic admirer of Joe Barker, the atheistic
ex-Methodist preacher, and "Iconoclast" (Bradlaugh). The older
men remembered only too well that he had been in early life a
chartist, and was
suspected of having a hand in some of the most disgraceful machinery
riots of other days. It was characteristic of him that he
never appeared in person in any disturbances; but his was said to
have been the secret hand that manipulated and guided things in the
background. He had a way of acquiring influence over other
people's minds, and was believed in most enthusiastically by those
whom he patronised; the influence, however, was of a most sinister
character, and his tools sooner or later got into trouble.
After a few minutes of almost complete silence Ben, greatly
to the relief of all present, got up and went home, and so the
tongues were wagging again. Sam and the younger men called Eli
a "lyin' slotch"; Jabe and the elders looked dubious, and said
nothing; and whilst Luke Yates told how quiet and "dacent" Andrew
was at home, Nathan the smith recalled some of the startling and
scandalous questions he used to ask before he left the school.
And so poor Andrew's character was tossed about amongst them, one
moment promising to triumph over all slander and prejudice, and the
next sinking under the weight of condemnatory evidence.
"He's th' grandest lad az Becksoide's turnt aat sin' Billy
Botch's toime," asseverated Sam vehemently, but quite as much to
sustain his own fading confidence as to convince any one else; and Lige, in the opposite corner of the Ingle-nook to the strangely
silent Jabe, shook his head with dubious solemnity, and murmured,
"His mother allis said az he'd breik her hert."
Jethro the knocker-up was never of very much account, and so
his silence on this occasion attracted no particular attention,
until in one of the pauses Lige, after eyeing him over meditatively
for some time, suddenly leaned forward, and, tapping him on the
knee, asked, "Whot does thaa think abaat it aw, owd lad?"
This seemed to bring Jethro back from a reverie, for he
started slightly on being appealed to; and after looking musingly
into the fire, he got up with the evident intention of departing,
and then said sadly, "If owt bad does cum on him, ther's sum on uz
here az 'ull ha' to answer fur it."
"Here? here? Wot dust meean bi that?" demanded Jabe, as
the others made way for Jethro to go; and the old knocker-up turned
back for a moment, gazed into the fire, and then answered sadly, "Aw
thank goodniss az it wurna me az turnt him aat o' th' class";
and with another heavy sigh he made for the door.
Meanwhile the carpenter, with a weight of misery settling
slowly on his soul, was making his way home. Arrived there, he
was treated to a very full and particular though partly imaginative
account of Andrew's recent doings by his wife. And the worst
that Ben had heard at the clog-shop was as nothing to what he now
had to listen to.
Andrew was an "out-and-out atheist, and a member of secret
clubs, and a ringleader among strikers, and a big man amongst all
the lazy wastrils o' Duxbury"; and Mrs. Ben broke down in the middle
of her story, and lapsed into tears. Ben, smarting under a
sense of humiliation, was surly and morose, and told her to "howd
her racket"; whereupon the distressed mother got him his porridge
supper, and then sat down gloomily by the fire.
Ben . . . . was surly and morose, and told her to "howd
Ben tried to eat, but could not; and so, after struggling with his
food for a minute or two, he pushed it impatiently away, and drew up
to the fire. His wife, watching him narrowly, noticed with a
pang that he did not light his pipe; and so, after fidgeting in her
chair for a little while, she got up and silently handed him the
family Bible for prayers. Ben kicked the book from his knee,
and sprang to his feet as if he had been struck. "Aw conna,
woman!" he cried in wild grief, "Aw winna! Aw'll niver pray
agean well Aw'm wik;" and then he suddenly broke down, and
staggering back into his chair he groaned, "Lord, ha massy on me! Wot am Aw sayin'?"
Ellen was too stunned to be able to reply; so, after sitting
and watching him furtively for some time, she fetched a candle from
the kitchen and went off to bed. Ben sat staring at the fire
and trembling as he thought of the wickedness of his last words;
then his lips moved in silent prayer, and he rose as if to retire.
Changing his mind, however, he sat down again, and went moodily on
with his own terrible internal conflict until the striking of the
long-cased clock aroused him, and he slipped off his clogs and
To his surprise he found his wife sitting up in bed and
sobbing as if her heart would break.
"Ben," she cried, lifting an agonised face, "it's me,
Ben! it's aw me! Aw've fun it aat, an' it's me aw az has browt
this on thi lad."
And Ben, who had now quite recovered control of himself, bent
over the bedside, and with unwonted and awkward tenderness stroked
her hair, and said soothingly, "If thaa browt it, it'ull turn
aat blessin', wench. Thaa near browt me nowt else, an' tha
niver will; bur wot is it?"
"Bur it is, Ben; it's me. Dust na remember Aw couldna
give him up?"
"Huish! woman, tha'rt wandering."
"When he wor a babby, Ben, he had th' faivor tha knows, an'
tha said as we mud give him up an' submit to th' Awmighty; bud when
tha went daansturs, Ben, Aw snapped him aat o' bed an' clipped him
an' cuddled him to my breast and went daan o' my knees, and Aw said,
'Aw winna, Lord! Aw winna give him up!' An' naa it's cum
back on uz. O Lord, forgiveme!" And again the agitated
woman sobbed out her sorrow.
Ben waited until the paroxysm subsided, and then he said in
low, coaxing tones, "Ellen! thee and me's bin jogging along naa fur
thirty yer togather, hanna we?"
"Wot bi that?"
"An' fur thirty yer we'en carried are trubbles togather,
"Wot bi that?"
"Well, wench, we'll carry 'em togather to th' end, God bless
thi." And he put her back with her head on the pillow, and
stroked her face until she grew calm.
Now, whilst Beckside was excitedly discussing its great
discovery of the identity of "The Lamplighter," the subject of these
debates was sitting quietly by his sister's fireside at Beckbottom,
with a book on the table before him, and one foot tucked up under
his chair, whilst the other was stretched out to the cradle-rocker
which he kept quietly moving. Leah, his sister, with her dress
tucked neatly up about her waist, was moving softly about the house
for fear of waking the baby, restoring the newly polished fender and
mantelpiece ornaments to their places and putting the finishing
touches to her week-end "fettlin'." Every now and again she
glanced cautiously at the cradle, and presently bending over it she
drew the coverlet a little farther over the baby's face, and
whispered, "It'll dew naa, lad: he's fast asleep, bless him!"
Putting the finishing touches to her week-end "fettlin'."
Andrew withdrew his foot from the rocker, and went on with his
reading, every now and again, however, lifting his head and glancing
curiously at his sister as she went on with her duties. After
a while she put her dress down, smoothed her hair, washed her hands
in the little scullery, and came and sat down to her work-basket.
She was holding a needle up to the lamp to thread it, when
Andrew raised his head and watched her. When she had finished,
and was just picking up her sewing, he said, "Leah, wench, Aw'm
gooin' t' leeav thi."
And Leah, whose thoughts just then were far away, so that she
had not quite caught what he said, asked, "Wot dust say?"
"Aw'm gooin' t' leeav thi; Aw've getten a fresh shop."
A shadow came over Leah's mild face, and she said, with just
the slightest ring of resentment in her tones, "Well, Aw whop it's a
"Naa then, Aw dunna meean that; Aw mean a fresh workin'-shop.
Aw've bin app'inted Secretary o' the Minders' Association, an' Awst
ha to live i' Duxbury."
Leah did not reply for a time; but at last she said
regretfully, "Well, tha mun gooa thi oan rooad; tha allis hez dun
an' Aw feart tha allis will."
"Why, Leah, wot's wrung wi' me?"
"Wrung! whey doesn't tha goo to th' chappil? Whey
dustna read thi Bible atsteead o' them nasty bad bewks o' thoine?
Whey dustna mix wi' gradely dacent folk? Secretaary!"
And here Leah's quiet face flushed with sudden indignation. "Tha'rt
goin' t' be a makker o' strikes an' lock-aats an' riots, an' a
robber o' poor wimin an' childer—that's wot tha'rt gooin' ta be."
Andrew was not in the least disturbed by this quite unusual
outburst from his gentle, silent sister; he smiled quietly, waited a
moment until her anger subsided, and then he asked, "Leah, yo'
chappil folk believers i' calls, dunna yo'?"
"Ay, calls ta be preichers an' leaders an' sitch-loike, dunna
"Well, wot bi that?"
"Well, Aw've getten a call—a call to help mi
daantrodden an' foolish fellow workmen, a call ta resist oppression
an' robbery, a call ta feight fur liberty an' fair play, Aw hev.
I knoze, Aw hev, Aw feel it, wench." And then with a sudden
burst of intense earnestness which startled and greatly impressed
his sister, "Yes, an' moine's as mitch the call o' God as a parson's
Leah relapsed into a discouraged and pensive silence; and
Andrew, after a vain attempt to resume his reading, picked up his
book, reached a bottle of ink and a pen from the shelf by the side
of the fireplace, lighted a small paraffin lamp, and retired to his
Left alone, Leah pursued the painful drift of her thoughts,
and became graver and more perplexed as she mused. What was
there in this strange brother of hers that made him so different
from other young fellows?
For years now he had scarcely had a companion or friend, and
spent nearly all his spare time in the house over his books.
As a member of their little family he was almost faultless; he never
stayed out at night; and though she suspected by the amount of
lamp-oil he bought that he often sat up late, he did it in his own
room, and never resented her remonstrances. It was absolutely
certain that as far back as she could remember he had always been
surprisingly fond of her, and the affection only seemed to increase
with the lapse of time. Her little girl Charlotte doted on her
uncle, and even the baby wakened up and put on his very "piertest"
look when Andrew came near him. Her husband, although ten
years his senior, deferred to Andrew's superior knowledge on all the
larger questions of life, and seemed in a quiet, unadmitted sort of
way to have great respect for his judgment. Luke, whenever he
did speak of him, always said he was "ter'ble cliver"; but if so, he
seemed entirely unconscious of it himself, for she had never
perceived anything approaching to self-conceit in him as that
characteristic was usually understood. And yet, with all these
things, she was compelled to admit that she was more than uneasy
about him. It was her nature to have misgivings about anything
she loved very much, and she certainly loved this queer brother of
hers next only to her husband; and perhaps the memory of her own
courting days, and the terrible risks which her love for the
unpopular Luke made her run to marry him, were unconsciously
blinding her to faults in Andrew which other folk could see.
Well, he was her favourite brother, and, popular or unpopular, she
would stick to him; only, why was he now going away where she could
not watch over him? and why was he embarking on a course of life
which the principles in which they had both been brought up so
emphatically condemned? The Beckside Methodists regarded all
politics as anathema, and were strong sticklers for the duty of
non-intervention, as far as professors were concerned at any rate.
But with all their dislike of "bullyraggin' politicians," her father
and those who thought with him had a still deeper detestation of
those who went about stirring up strife and breeding discontent
between masters and servants; and she herself could not only
remember two or three persons of that kind who had turned out utter
"wastrils," but could also recall the misery and starvation which
had been brought into Beckside itself by their dangerous
interferences. What could there be under the quiet exterior of
Andrew to give him any taste for work like this? As for his
talk about having a call to it, that seemed to her only to prove
that he was already under the worst possible influences.
PLOTS AND PLANS.
NOW, when Leah
had reached the stage of her meditations at which we
left her in the last chapter, the door opened, and Luke came in. She
got up to reach his supper out of the oven, and was turning round to
tell him the news she had just heard from Andrew, when a look on his
face stopped her, and the next moment he was telling her all about
the discovery that had been made respecting "The Lamplighter," and
all the other things which had been said and done that night at the
clog-shop. Luke had been in the habit of reading "The Lamplighter"
articles to her on a Saturday afternoon, and they both now recalled
how that Andrew when he had been present seemed very indifferent and
even contemptuous about them, and once or twice had even gone so far
as to offer criticism. Well, Leah did not know what to think now.
She was alarmed to discover that a feeling of wicked pride rose
within her as she remembered that the writer whose words had seemed
so illuminating to both her husband and herself was her own brother,
and she liked him all the better because he had so cleverly
concealed from everybody what he was doing. But when her husband
went on to tell her all that had taken place at the clog-shop, with
the confident assertions that Andrew was an atheist, confirmed as
they were so significantly by the visit and words of the universally
disliked Eli, her heart sank within her, and all the more so as she
observed that her husband, who had so often before laughed at her
apprehensions about Andrew, seemed almost as concerned as she was
herself. They talked together for quite an hour; and when at last
they retired, Leah did not get to sleep for hours for thinking what
she must do to help and save her misguided and misunderstood
brother. When she rose next morning, she was conscious that her
burden seemed lighter, and upon careful self-examination she
discovered a subtle thought blending with her musings, which was
somehow diffusing its sweetness over all the sadness of the moment. It seemed to be her work in life to have to do with peculiar and
incomprehensible characters. Luke, her husband, had probably been
saved by her persistent love for him and by her daring marriage with
him, in spite of popular opinion. Well, perhaps it was to be
something like it once more, and perhaps God had given to her the
task of saving this strange brother of hers; and so, though she as
yet saw no way out of the difficulty, she was so very cheerful, that
her husband noticed it, and seemed curious about the cause. But she
could not tell him; only she felt an assurance within her that all
would be right, and was pleased to see that Luke looked relieved
and hopeful at her words.
Later on in the day Leah recalled to her mind the incident of
Andrew's surprise to find that Doxie Dent was a woman. To her as a
woman it had a significance which it would not have to others, and
she soon saw in that idea a possible solution of her difficulties. At any rate she would work the thing for all it was worth; and if
she did not succeed, it should not be for want of trying.
That same Sunday afternoon Doxie called at Beckbottom, as she
sometimes did after school. She looked very fresh and bonny, and so
Leah determined to commence her little operations at once.
"Yo'n yeard abaat aar Andrew, Aw reacon?" she commenced, as Doxie
turned away from the cradle, where she had been admiring the baby.
"Yes," said Doxie shortly; and glanced up with a look of enquiry on
her frank face.
"Well, wot dun yo' think abaat it?"
Doxie tried to look as indifferent as possible, and said, "Nay, what
do you think?"
Leah, who was a little disappointed with Doxie's manner, sighed
softly, and answered "Hay dear! Aw durn't know wot to think."
And then the conversation seemed to get stranded, and glancing
meditatively into the fire Doxie seemed lost in pensive thought.
Presently, however, she recovered herself, and, turning suddenly to
Leah, said confidently, "Leah, I want to tell you a great secret:
I've had an offer of marriage."
"Whoa fro'?—Andrew?" And in a moment she perceived she had given
herself away, for Doxie looked up with a startled, shrinking glance,
and answered sharply, "Andrew! no!"
Mercifully the baby awoke just then, and the two women were both
glad to interest themselves in the infant until they could recover;
and what with the baby and her own embarrassment, Leah forgot to ask
who Doxie's lover was, or even how he had fared in his venture, and
of course Doxie was not going to return to the subject now. Presently, however, Leah remembered, and was a little taken aback
when Doxie answered shortly, "Ben."
The manner in which the reply was given told Leah all she needed to
know as to the result of the proposal; and so, partly to relieve her
own mind and partly to disabuse Doxie's, she set to work and told
her friend the story of her own courtship as it is known to the
readers of Beckside Lights.
But Doxie was not to be drawn out of her shell; and when the
hospitable housewife, in pursuance of her little plan, invited Doxie
to stay to tea in the hope that Andrew would come in to the meal,
that young lady got hastily up and prepared to depart. However, Leah
was now very much in earnest, so she walked by Doxie's side up the
garden and along the footpath, pouring into her apparently
indifferent ears a great many particulars of Andrew's character,
which were meant to rehabilitate him in Doxie's esteem.
Leah and her husband took turns in staying at home to mind the
children on Sunday nights, and this week it was hers. She hoped that
Andrew as usual would stay with her, and she was not disappointed. When the children had been got to sleep, and Andrew was deep in a
book by the fireside, Leah drew her own chair up opposite to him,
and said, "Doxie wur here this efthernoon. Hay, hoo is gettin' a
Leah drew her own chair up opposite to him.
Andrew never spoke; but she was sharp enough to see that he had
"Hoo's yerd abaat thee goin' t' Duxbury. Hay, hoo is ill off abaat
Andrew lifted his eyes to look at his sister but she affected not to
notice. He did not speak, however; and so, as he dropped his eyes
upon the book again, she went on, " Hur an' thee uset be varry thick
when yo were childer."
Andrew's eyes wandered to her face, and then to the fire, into which
he gazed with an absent, musing stare.
"Owd Jabe 'll lose his haasekeeper afoor lung; there's hawf a duzzen
chaps efther her awready."
Would the stolid Andrew never speak?
"Wun felley axed her t'other day."
And Andrew startled his sister by asking sharply, "Haa does thaa
Leah was flurried for the moment, now that she had accomplished her
purpose but after a momentary hesitation she said, "Oh, Aw know; but
it's noa common felly as 'll get hur."
Andrew, still staring, with his head down, at the fire, answered
slowly, "Neaw, it 'ull be some pious chappil-goin' chap, Aw reacon—aar
Ben, fur instance."
"Andy, Doxie Dent 'ull tak' th' chap hoo loikes an' noabry else, an'
noather Owd Jabe nor onybody else 'ull stop her. Whey doesn't thaa――"
But here it struck Leah that she had gone far enough for once, and
so she hastened into the scullery on some invented errand.
But when she came back her brother was waiting for her. Sitting
straight up in his chair, and looking at her with almost fierce
resolution, he said: "Leah, Aw've a burden laid on me. Aw've a work
ta dew, an' till that's dun noather Doxie Dent nor onybody else 'ull
be owt ta me."
And Leah, more than satisfied with the result of the conversation,
dropped her head to hide a smile, and answered, "Well, them az
lives lungest 'ull see th' mooast."
Whatever else she had done, Leah had effectually robbed Andrew of
all interest in his book. He sat looking at it dreely for some
minutes, without even turning over the page, and then his eyes
wandered back to the fire, and presently he got up and began to move
uneasily about the house. Once he stopped before the cradle, and
stood looking down on the unconscious baby; then he went to the
window, and looked out into the darkness; after that he came back to
the fire; and at last he said, "Let's see, Doxie's a member naa,
"Ay, an' a leeader tew."
"A leeader?" And there was anger as well as surprise in Andrew's
"Ay, a childer's class, tha' knows—a Katty—Katty—Aw donna know wot
they caw'n it."
"When does hoo have it?"
"Ova Tuesday neet, Aw think."
And in spite of the strong words he had used to his sister, Andrew
watched Doxie away from her meeting next time it was held, and
followed her down to the shop, dark though it was; and all the way
home to Beckbottom he was telling himself again and again that he
had put his hand to the plough, and must not draw back. A week later
he went to live at Duxbury.
About a fortnight after the departure of Andrew from Beckside, and
when the excitement concerning him had somewhat subsided, Jabe and
Sam Speck were seated enjoying their after-dinner pipes at the
clog-shop fire. It was a sharp, wintry day, and Doxie, dressed to go
out, and looking as bright as ever, passed through the shop in order
to assure her uncle that she would be back in time for tea. Neither
of the two cronies seemed to be in the humour to talk; but
presently, after musingly recharging his pipe, Sam leaned back in
his seat, crossed his legs, and sighed, "A—y, hoo'll mak' sumbry a bonny woife sum day, hoo will."
The clogger's face had a comfortable, even drowsy look; but as Sam
slowly drawled out his words, it changed suddenly to one of
indignant astonishment. "A woife!" he demanded excitedly; and
glared at Sam as though he would annihilate him.
"Ay, a woife. Whey not? Hoo's owd enuff, sureli."
Jabe was fairly roused now. Even a hint of the possibility of losing
his idol was sufficient to alarm him. "Whey, mon!" he bawled, "thar't
maddlet! Dust think az aar Doxie meythers hersel' wi' chapping an'
jinderin' an' sitch-loike wark?"
But Sam was on his mettle too; and so, snatching his pipe from his
mouth, he demanded with a fierceness almost equal to the clogger's,
"Does thaa meean t' say az hoo's ony differunt ta ony other wench? Hez thaa tew een i' thi yed an' ne'er seen nowt?"
"Seen! Aw've seen aw az ther' is ta see, an' that's nowt."
And Sam, realising that with such blindness it was utterly useless
to try to argue, all at once collapsed into the chimney corner, and
grunted resignedly, "Aw reet then," and smoked moodily, silently
But Jabe was moved. The thought of Doxie being carried off by some
gay young fellow, or by anybody for that matter, was simply
unbearable. Two or three times he gave vent to inarticulate grunts;
but as Sam did not respond, he became sarcastic, and at length
snarled with a rough laugh, "Seen! Oh, ay! tha's seen, tha' hez! Tha's een at th' back o' thi yed an' aat o' thi clog-bottoms, tha'
hez!" And then, as curiosity overpowered anger, he broke off and
demanded gruffly, "Wot hast seen?"
And the tantalising Sam put on a look of perfectly maddening
superiority, and said, "Nay, nowt, nowt! Aw ne'er sees nowt."
But Sam was really going too far, and the clogger lapsed into a fit
of dignified sulks, sitting at the opposite side of the fire, and
puffing away at his pipe as though his life depended on getting
Sam, with his head averted, watched his old friend for a minute or
two, and then, suddenly relenting, he leaned forward, and demanded,
"Dust meeant t' say az tha's ne'er seen noabry snuffing an' squintin'
afther that wench?"
Jabe, whose head was held very high, did not intend to answer; but
presently, with the air of a man who was making a compromising
concession, he said shortly, "Well, whoar?"
And Sam, as if appealing to a man of acknowledged penetration whose
momentary aberration greatly astonished him, replied, "Whey, yung
Ben, mon, yung Ben."
For the moment Jabe was relieved; for young Ben Barber was high in
his favour, and was generally acknowledged to be a sort of model
young man, steady, industrious, and religious. But the pain at his
heart did not disappear; for even the knowledge that she was making
a good match would be little consolation to him if he was to lose
It was some time before either of them spoke again; but at length
Jabe got up with the evident intention of returning to work, and as
he did so he knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and, looking
scowlingly at Sam, said, "That mon 'ull feel th' length o' my clug
if Aw catch him henky-penkying abaat here, soa Aw'll tell thi."
All the afternoon, however, the clogger brooded sorrowfully over
what had been told him, and every moment grew more certain that he
could not stand being parted from his niece. Over the tea-table he
was unusually pensive and quiet, and Doxie more than once rallied
him on his unwonted silence. What increased her curiosity was the
fact that every time she
looked towards him she caught him eyeing her over with a sad,
preoccupied look, which he turned hastily away as soon as he found
he was observed. She had thoughts of her own, however, that were
very absorbing, and so she gave less attention to these things than
otherwise she might have done.
When she had put away the tea-things, and was kneeling upon the
fender poking the fire, and gazing into it thoughtfully, she
suddenly felt a hand placed upon her hair, and as she turned with a
bright but rather surprised look to find out the reason for this
very unusual caress, she found that her uncle was bending over her
with a longing, hungry look in his eyes, and before she could speak
he said huskily, yet somewhat enigmatically, "Aw war yang misel'
She suddenly felt a hand placed upon her hair.
AN ALARMING LETTER.
BUT the clogger's fit of resignation proved very temporary. Before
he had been back in the shop an hour he was talking in the old
pugnacious way to Sam, and threatening all sorts of pains and
penalties to any young "scoperil" he might happen to catch
"sniffing abaat here"; whilst later on in the evening, when Long Ben
came to the shop, he commenced a running fire of vague and oblique
references to the "forradniss of yung felleys," and the wonderful
ways in which the peculiar infirmities of fathers reappeared in the
For the next few days also Jabe kept a sharp look-out for possible "poochers," and even in a roundabout, non-committal way tried to
enlist the services of Sam in the same pursuit. Nothing occurred,
however, until the following Sunday, which happened to be wet. Jabe
had dismissed the school, and was returning home with Lige and
Nathan, when, just as he came out of the chapel gate, he pulled up
with a start, and then, without a
word to his friends, set off as fast as his unequal legs could carry
him down the "broo." The two friends could see no possible reason
for his sudden departure; but Sam Speck was a little on in front of
them, and when the clogger passed him he pulled up to watch him, and
then, turning round, jerked his thumb in the direction Jabe was
going, and seemed inwardly convulsed with something that was
tickling him immensely. Then Lige and Nathan saw what was the
matter. The clogger was rapidly approaching a couple of teachers who
were going down the "broo" under one umbrella, and it only required
a second glance to discover that the two were Doxie and young Ben. Meanwhile, just as the clogger got up to them, they stopped opposite
the clog-shop, and after exchanging a few words, parted, Doxie
nodding and smiling as she left her cavalier. With a womanly dread
of water on her clothes, Jabe's niece made a dart for the house, and
did not notice her uncle; and Ben had got several yards farther down
the hill, when he heard a gruff voice exclaiming, "Heigh, yung
felley! Aw want thee!"
The young carpenter pulled up and faced about; and when he caught
sight of Jabe's red, aggressive face, he blushed.
"Aw want ta know," demanded the clogger, pulling suddenly up, and
balancing himself on the toe-point of his best leg,—"Aw want ta
know what this sooart o' gallivantin' wark meeans?" and he jerked
his thumb over his shoulder in the direction in which Doxie had
"Aw want ta
know what this sooart o' gallivantin' wark meeans?"
Ben did not comprehend all at once but as it dawned upon him, he
stammered: "That? Nowt. Aw wur nobbut keepin' th' rain off her."
"Oh! tha' wur keepin' th' rain off her, wur ta?" cried Jabe, with a
sardonic laugh; and then, with his very fiercest scowl, he shook his
pudgy finger, and went on: "Naa, lewk here, young chap, Aw'll keep
th' rain off that wench, an' th' sun tew, an' thee tew, an' aw
sitch-loike spewnified diddle-dadlers! Thee goo an' grow thi wisdom
teeth, an' leeav that wench ta me!" And with a final flirt of his
finger at the blushing and terrified youth, Jabe turned haughtily
round and limped off home.
When he got indoors, however, his pride had a sudden fall; for Doxie, having hurried upstairs to remove her damp clothes, came to
the front bedroom window just as her uncle was delivering the last
part of his philippic to Ben, and, comprehending the situation at a
glance, she came down upon her defender somewhat severely. The
argument waxed hot for a moment or two; but when Jabe discovered how
openly and frankly sympathetic Doxie was towards Ben, he naturally
concluded that she would not have shown it so much if her affections
had been in any way involved, and so he took his scolding meekly, and
comforted himself with the reflection that he had effectually
scotched the affair.
But it never rains but it pours, and almost before our old friend
had got over one trouble he was plunged into another and even more
serious one. On the following Thursday morning the post brought Doxie a letter with a now familiar foreign postmark, and almost
before Dan had returned from delivering it to her in the parlour,
she came flying into the shop in a state of the wildest excitement. "O uncle! uncle, we are going! we are going! Father has sent word we
are to go to Australia. Oh, isn't it grand! isn't――" and then she
stopped abruptly, for the poor old clogger's face had all at once
gone as white as a sheet. The look of delight on Doxie's countenance
changed instantly to one of almost terror, to be succeeded by a
shower of warm tears, and like the girl she still was, in spite of
her twenty summers, she burst into a little cry, caught her uncle
round the head, and, kissing the bald top of it again and again,
cried, "And you must go too, uncle! you must go too!"
Before the clogger could answer, however, she had remembered
herself, and bursting away she flew off down to the cottage and
brought back her mother and her aunt, and they all adjourned to the
parlour to read the letter at length and hold a family council.
Yes, there the summons was in all its bare reality. Doxie's father
sent word that he had recently bought from a man who had made his
pile a store and all its contents in the mining village where he was
located, and that, as they could now be of much service to him and
he was dying for a sight of them, they must prepare to go out at
once, and he would send the money by the next mail. The place was a
very rough one; but he hoped they would soon make their fortune, and
in the meantime he would be able to take care of them. Again and
again the letter was read; and when at last its full significance
had been realised, those to whom it meant so much received it with
very different feelings. Doxie's mother was in the seventh heaven of
delight; Aunt Judy looked sad, and presently began to cry; and
though Jabe frowned upon her sternly once or twice, and demanded
what she was "meytherin'" at, he hovered very near to tears
himself, and eyed Doxie over again and again with a hungry, almost
savage look. As to Doxie, her feelings were evidently of a mixed
kind, and fluctuated and veered round with every little turn of the
conversation. When they talked about Australia and her father, she
was full of eagerness and joy; but the moment any one touched ever
so distantly upon the thought of parting, her lip quivered, and she
glanced uneasily at her uncle and then looked with swimming eyes
through the window. That was a dark day for the clogger; he could
neither work nor eat, nor even think connectedly. His old friends
and comforters did not come to the cloggery as soon or as fast as he
wanted them, and so he wandered about from one place to another
seeking sympathy and advice. That night at the fire he was the
centre of a silent and moody group, for the average Lancashire man
has no means of uttering his deepest emotions, and feels as if to
speak of them were to minimise them; but the clogger's feelings may
be guessed by the fact that, as he went upstairs to bed that night,
he, stopped for a moment at his niece's bedroom door, and after
gazing at it in the dim candlelight he turned sadly away and
muttered in a quivering, choking voice, "Thar't reet, wench, bless
thi! Aw believe Aw shall ha' to goo, owd as Aw am."
Whilst her uncle was thus expressing himself on the outside of that
little black bedroom door, Doxie lay tossing about, vainly
endeavouring to get to sleep. With the keen interest of young life
she pictured to herself the scenes through which she would pass on
her way to the distant land that was soon to be her home, and sleep
went farther and farther away. Then she tried to imagine to herself
what her life would be in the new and wonderful country where she
was to dwell. Then suddenly there would come back to her the old
clog-shop and her lonely housekeeperless uncle; and that was so sad
a thing to think of that she tried to shut it out of her mind, but
without success. Again and again she wandered in her thoughts from
one aspect of the case to the other, until presently she began to
realise that, alluring and delightful though the prospect of travel
was, there was something within her that clung to the old haunts of
her life, and that something was not, or at least was not entirely,
her love for her uncle. She would not allow the thing to take
definite shape in her mind; the moment it seemed to grow clear
before her she felt herself blushing, and resolutely turned away
from it. And yet it came again and again, and she could only bury
her face in the pillows and try to think of something else. She was
not an introspective young lady, and this shadowy shape seemed quite
a stranger to her; nevertheless it was there, and all her efforts to
ignore it only seemed to bring it more definitely to her mind. She
escaped it at last by trying to think of all the things she would
say to her uncle to induce him to go with her, until suddenly she
became aware of the fact that her hope that he would join the party
was not very honest, and in fact that her wish to go was rapidly
becoming a question of duty rather than of desire. Presently,
however, she dozed off into fitful slumbers, and dreamed of a
wonderful wedding, in which somebody not herself was being married
to a strange man with her uncle's stooping body and expressive limp,
but with Andrew Barber's face.
Somehow the prospect did not look quite so woeful to the clogger
when he got up next morning. The money had not been actually sent
yet, and many things might happen before the day of actual parting
came. Besides, Doxie's father had always been sanguine and
whimsical; the message was possibly only a characteristic bit of his
usual "baance"; and even though he had intended it when he wrote,
there was time for a man of his captious and impetuous temperament to
change, especially when it came to having to send over so large a
sum for the double passage. He would stick there if nowhere else, Jabe argued, as he always had done; for Thomas was always behind
when it came to questions of cash.
Another day, therefore, he spent debating the matter with his
friends, and they were all so very sorry for him that they strove
chiefly to find out what he would like them to say in order that
they might say it and so bring comfort to the old man's heart. Sam
Speck, however, was possessed of an idea. It only came to him
slowly, and required much meditation and the consumption of reckless
quantities of tobacco; but it did actually grow as he turned it
over, and by the forenoon of the next day it had taken definite and
final shape. He was immensely pleased with it, for he had worked it
out entirely unassisted, and if carried out it would not only bring
relief to the mind of his much tried friend, but lift Sam himself to
a very pinnacle of glory and give him an inexhaustible claim on the clogger's gratitude.
"Well, thaa con dew as tha's a moind, an' say wot tha's a moind; bud
if hoo wur owt ta me, hoo shouldna goo a yard."
Sam delivered himself of this defiant sentence with the air of a man
who was talking more to sustain conversation than with any definite
purpose in view, and his face wore a look of studious but much
overdone indifference. Jabe raised his head to rap out one of his
most stinging retorts, for, as a matter of fact, he had said nothing
for nearly an hour on the subject mentioned by his friend, so that
his assumption of this particular form of remark was more than
usually irritating. But a drowning man catches at straws, and the clogger was so anxious to hear any suggestion which might be helpful
that he checked himself, and merely demanded, "Haa con Aw help it,
mon? Hoo mun dew az her fayther tells her, munnat hoo?"
And Sam settled himself more comfortably in the Ingle-nook corner,
and answered lazily, "Sum women doesna."
Jabe looked at his companion in amazed perplexity. It was quite
evident there was something behind Sam's words, but he could not for
the life of him see what. "Wot dun they dew then?" he demanded,
eyeing him over expectantly.
And Sam, still hugging his great idea, replied in his most
exasperating manner, "Oh, lots o' things."
Jabe was on tenter-hooks. What could this provoking man whom he must
not offend at this moment mean? He stared at him with rapidly
blinking eyes for quite a long time, during which Sam smoked blandly
on. At last, however, he could bear it no longer. "Naa, then, tha's
getten summat i' that bermyed o' thoine. Aat wi' it."
Sam seemed to take a most aggravating time to collect his thoughts;
but at length, staring right before him, and speaking with
tantalising slowness, he said, "Well, if that wench hed a husband i'
England hoo'd ne'er think a' goin' ta Australy"; and then, after
another pause, "An' hoo met 'a' hed wun afoor naa bud fur thee."
NOW, so direct
and undisguised a censure as that involved in Sam's last words would
ordinarily have aroused Jabe's resentment. However, he was too
much in earnest just now to stand upon trifles; so, after sitting
and staring at his companion with puckered brow and pursed out lips
for several moments, he got up and stepped into the parlour to make
sure that Doxie was out. Having satisfied himself on that
point, he came back, and, holding the door in his hand, beckoned Sam
to follow him into the next room. Then he fetched out some
wonderful tobacco which had been given to him by his
leather-merchant; and compelling his friend to empty his pipe and
fill it with the nonsuch weed, he leaned back in his chair, and said
with unwonted geniality, "Naa, lad, tha' hez sum glints o' sense in
thi sumtoimes; goo on wi' thi nomminny."
Basking in the warmth of a most unusual and strictly
temporary popularity, Sam expounded his great idea at full length,
Jabe ticking off the salient points; and the upshot of it all was
that Sam was to persuade young Ben to make another and more serious
attempt on Doxie's affections, and Jabe undertook to pave the way
for him as best he could with the girl herself. For the next
few days the clogger and his lieutenant were almost inseparable.
Never within the memory of the oldest frequenter of the clog-shop
had the two been so long and so suspiciously "thick."
At the end of a week's time Sam reported that young Ben was
quite ready to make a second attack upon Doxie, but that he stood in
wholesome fear of the clogger; Sam therefore insisted that it was
time for Jabe to step in himself and encourage the timid lover.
The clogger was some time before he would consent to this; but upon
Sam asking him for the fourth time if he had said anything to Doxie,
he became suddenly very confused, and hastily agreed to "sattle" Ben
at once. But Sam was not content. The clogger was not
doing his share of the work, and so his zealous assistant had to
fall back on his most effective weapon, and point out once more how
much easier the whole thing might have been if only Jabe had
consented to this courtship before the arrival of the Australian
letter. But Jabe had not neglected to sound Doxie on the
question of the hour out of mere cowardice; the fact was, he had
discovered that she was very pensive and depressed, and as he knew
of only one thing which was likely to have produced such a
condition, he felt that this sorrow was of a sacred nature, and to
disturb it by introducing so frivolous a subject as courting seemed
to him a sort of sacrilege. Consequently, in spite of his
repeated promises to Sam, he had neglected his part of the business,
and even now was no more willing to discharge it than he had ever
been. He determined, therefore, to follow his own devices, and
try his hand first of all with Ben.
It was some days before Jabe found an opportunity that suited
him, and Sam was getting out of all patience. On the third
Sunday after the arrival of the Australian letter, however, he
stayed at home from Sunday school; and knowing that Ben as librarian
would be going late, he lay in wait for him, and as soon as he saw
him coming up the "broo" stepped to the front door and beckoned the
young fellow into the house. Ben came somewhat sheepishly; and
as the clogger looked sternness itself, the youth stopped on the
doormat, and asked somewhat sulkily what he wanted.
"Shut that dur an' Aw'll tell thi."
Ben did as he was told, and as he came forward Jabe pointed
without speaking to a chair. The clogger puffed out two or
three great clouds of smoke, and then, removing the pipe from his
mouth and looking sternly at Ben, he said in tones of serious but
not angry expostulation, "Doesn't thaa know az it's wrung to goa
flirting an' sniffing efther young wenches?"
"Wrung? Whey is it wrung?" And Ben began to look
"Whey? 'Cause it fills ther yeds wi' aw mak o' rubbitch
an' breiks ther herts, that's whey." And then, after a short
pause, he went on, "'Specially when yur nobbut gammonin'."
"Gammonin'? Bur Aw'm no gammonin'! Aw meean it
And Jabe leaned indolently back in his chair, and murmured,
"Ay, Aw've yerd that tale afoor."
"Bur Aw am, Aw tell yo'. Aw meean it gradely."
A long pause followed, during which the clogger had the air
of a man who would like to believe what he had heard, but his
knowledge of the wiles of human nature made it impossible.
Meanwhile, young Ben was feeling his courage rise, and getting
prepared for a serious tussle.
At length Jabe looked round, and eyed Ben over very
curiously, and presently he asked, "Does tha' meean t' say az tha'
wants t' wed aar Doxie?"
"Does tha' meean t' say az tha' wants t' wed aar
And Ben, flinging prudence to the winds, answered
promptly, "Well, yo' gi' me th' chonce, an' you'll see."
Jabe shook his head slowly, as if to say that he had heard
too many declarations of that kind to be deceived by them; but
presently, after another long pause, he said musingly, "Well, tha'
wur allis a dacent lad, Ben, that's reet enuff"; and then he
hesitated in most artistic pretence of wavering.
But the young lover had another remembrance just then, and
so, with a wry face and a sulky tone, he said, "Wot's th' use a-talkin'?
Hoo winna ha' me."
Jabe appeared to be so utterly lost in his own meditations
that he did not seem to have heard this depressing announcement; and
he went on slowly, "Aw dunna want part wi' that wench; bud if hoo
hez to goa, tha' happen met as weel have hur as onnyboddy else, for
owt Aw know."
"But hoo winna ha' me, Aw tell yo'; Aw've axed hur."
Now this was news to Jabe, and for the moment he was tempted
to break out on the audacious young wooer; but remembering his cue,
he turned with a look of mild surprise, and demanded, "Well, bud tha'
hesna been stopped wi' a wench's 'neaw' sureli? If a
young felley wants a wench, and doesna get hur, it's his fawt,
"Ay, it's yesey talkin'." But though his tone was sulky
enough, his manner showed that Ben was encouraged.
The clogger smoked on for a while, and then, dropping his
deliberate tone, he leaned forward, and, looking at Ben with a scowl
of conviction, cried, "Si thi, Ben, ther's a hunderd paand an' a
four-roomed haase for th' chap az weds that wench."
Ben looked as though he scarcely knew what to either say or
do, so presently he lifted his head, and asked, "Well, will yo' put
a word in fur me?"
And Jabe, with a majestic wave of his hand intended as a
dismissal, answered, "Naa, Aw'st promise nowt abaat it. Away
wi' thi, an' get thi wark dun."
That same night Doxie had to listen to a second proposal from
the young carpenter. It was couched in much the same terms as
the former one, and consisted mainly of a description of his
prospects present and future, with certain obscure hints about other
more or less contingent advantages, the results, of course, of his
conversation with the clogger. Doxie listened with most
misleading patience; for the fact was, she was so distraught and
preoccupied that even an offer of marriage did not greatly interest
her. She was very kind to Ben, yet very decided, refusing even
to give him any hope for the future; and he left her feeling much
discouraged, and somewhat puzzled, for his doting mother had always
taught him to believe that no female at all likely for him would
think of refusing him.
Whilst Ben was struggling with his unpropitious courtship in
Beckside, his twin brother Andrew was being exercised in his mind
about the same fair girl. He too had heard of the projected
emigration, and was astonished and alarmed to discover how much it
disturbed him. He was exceedingly busy, just then, for the
relations between masters and men in the spinning trade were in a
somewhat anxious state, and kept him incessantly on the strain.
But day in and day out his thoughts constantly reverted to Doxie,
and do what he might he could not escape them. He had never
been in this condition before; he had a strong will, and the
instincts and habits of a strong nature; and so far in his life he
had found out what he wanted to do, and had done it. After
years of dreaming and working he had obtained what he desired, and
was doing the work he most liked; but just when this in itself was
more than commonly difficult, he was paralysed in his efforts by
most distracting opposition of interests, his heart pulling him one
way and his ambition and will the other.
Andrew's removal to Beckbottom some four and a half years ago
had been unexpectedly the turning-point in his life, and his
rejection by Jabe when he desired to reunite himself with the Church
had assisted the same end. Beckbottom was a mile or more from
the village, and Andrew was always fond of reading; he had therefore
dropped into the way of spending his nights at his sister's fireside
in the companionship of books, and all the rest had sprung out of
that. As he read anything that interested him and had nobody
to guide him, he somehow drifted into the reading of works of
history, and from these passed on to modern politics and subjects
pertaining to the well-being of the masses of his fellow men.
Coming into contact with several free thinkers, he was led to read
somewhat dangerous books; but as the habit of argument had grown
with his reading tastes, he soon began to select his authors, and
more by luck than anything else drifted into wholesome literary
paths. Then he began to form his own life plans; he taught
himself shorthand, and cultivated the art of composition; and though
he had by this time entirely lost the habit of going to chapel, he
took comparatively long journeys on foot to hear famous public men,
and attended nearly every serious lecture he could hear of. He
joined a debating and political club at the Halfpenny Gate; and it
was here that he first came into contact with the uncanny Eli.
Slowly, as the time wore on, Andrew grew up a lonely,
thoughtful, and somewhat opinionated young fellow, using every
moment of his spare time in careful self-improvement. About
twelve months before the time of which we write, he had joined the
Minders' Association, and his abilities, especially of speech, had
obtained for him a very prominent position amongst local men; and it
was only in the natural order of things that when a vacancy arose he
should be appointed to the secretaryship. Andrew wanted to be
a public man, and to be able to influence and lead his fellow-men.
The pursuits in which his fellows sought their happiness had no
attractions for him, and he had all the fine scorn of noble but
unsophisticated youth for mere money-making. He was too
clear-headed to embrace extreme views, however, and was so cool and
self-reliant that he easily commanded attention. The ardour
with which he had pursued his purposes had fortunately left him very
little time for getting into mischief, and he came to manhood as
free from taint of a serious kind as most young men with far happier
Andrew's attitude towards his relatives perhaps showed his
character and strength of mind as much as anything he had yet done.
He did not in the least blame them, but took their suspicions of him
as matters of course, and seemed content to wait for the day coming
when they would find out what he really was. Of late his plans
had succeeded beyond his best hopes. He was on the high-road
to what he at any rate regarded as success, and, lo! the whole
situation was suddenly complicated by the distressing discovery,
that against his will in spite of his efforts he was in love with
Doxie Dent. He scoffed at himself, argued with himself, tried
to trick himself, but all in vain; and he soon became perfectly well
aware that the first opportunity would take him to Beckside to try
At last he made up his mind that he would end the matter by a
little experiment. He would go to Beckside the very first
opportunity, and perhaps when he actually saw Doxie the longing he
felt would be relieved, and he would not want to propose to her; but
if even he did, he had such a dreadful character in his native
village that she would not accept him, and so the thing would settle
itself that way. He saw clearly enough the miserable weakness
of the argument; but what could he do? And as luck would have
it, that very post brought him a letter from Leah inviting him to
come and spend the week-end at his old lodgings. Andrew did
not believe in Providence, at any rate not in this particular kind
of Providence; but still he allowed himself to think that it was odd
that the letter should come just at that juncture, and in a few
moments he had settled that he would go down on the Saturday
afternoon and see.
Now Leah, when she heard of Doxie's probable emigration, had
at once abandoned all her little plans for bringing her brother and
her fair young friend together, and had given herself up to mournful
little wonderings as to what she would do when the only female
confidante she had was gone. As the days wore by, however, she
was compelled to notice the growing pensiveness of Doxie; and as it
continued she could not help suspecting that there must be some
reason for her unusual and continued depression. It did not
take long for her to guess that at least it might be an affair of
the heart; but she had never seen anything, and Doxie was the soul
of openness, so that she was utterly perplexed, and in all her
musings and speculations it never occurred to her to connect her
brother with the matter. Then it struck her that Doxie might
in reality be regretting going abroad for general reasons; and if
so, and she could get Andrew to propose, that might alter
everything, and be welcome to Doxie as a means of escape from
something she did not care for. Leah was glad, therefore, when
Andrew wrote to say that he would accept her invitation, and her
next anxiety was how she could bring the two young folk together.
probably arrive by the afternoon coach, and so Leah asked her
husband to call at the clog-shop and invite Doxie down to tea.
Luke looked a little astonished for the moment; but remembering that
the girl would shortly be gone, he consented, and discharged his
commission. But Andrew came in the forenoon, and Leah was
afraid that Doxie might have seen him alight in the triangle
opposite her home; and if so, she might not come.
Andrew seemed much the same, only he was restless; and after
he had told her the news, he began to be so fidgety that she was
afraid he would be going out before Doxie arrived. Just then,
however, Luke came in, and almost immediately started his
brother-in-law off, explaining the circumstances connected with what
they feared was an impending strike amongst the spinners. The
subject had just been exhausted, and Luke had gone upstairs to dress
whilst Andrew sat gazing out of the window in a brown study, when to
Leah's delight the door opened, and in came Doxie. She was
dressed in a bright blue frock, and what was known locally as a
"pork-pie" hat; and as the day was sharp, she looked very fresh and
bonny. She did not attempt to disguise her pleasure at seeing
Andrew, and in a few moments they were deep in an animated
discussion about Australia. Doxie could not conceal her
surprise when she found out how much this odd young man knew about
the country; and her eagerness was so great that it seemed to infect
her informant, and he soon told her very much more about the
Southern Continent than everybody else with whom she had talked on
the subject. Presently, however, Doxie remarked that the
weather had seemed very threatening as she came along, and she
thought that it would be wisest to get home whilst it was fair.
To this, of course, the hospitable Leah could not consent for a
moment; and though Andrew did not join in the invitation, Leah
observed that he most emphatically looked it, and as Luke came in
just then and supported his wife there was nothing for it. So
Doxie took off her hat, thereby awakening in the excited Andrew a
fresh gush of secret admiration.
Over the tea Luke resumed the question of the impending
strike; and Doxie listened to Andrew's statements and arguments,
until she began to sympathise with the down-trodden workpeople, and
presently caught herself wonderingly admiring the zeal with which
Andrew had taken up their cause and the ability with which he