Imatges de pàgina
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Author of " Anne Judge, Spinster,Grandmother's Money,Poor Humunity,

"" Little Kate Kirby,” &c.

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BOOK I.

“ THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE NOBLE POOR."

THI

CHAPTER XX.

Mabel had desired to be present, but she

was far from strong ; yet the morning's PETER SCONE CONSIDERS HIMSELF SLIGHTED, duties had wearied her more than she had

bargained for, and she was content to sit at 'HE adjourned inquiry into the death the window of her room and watch the fu

of one Adam Halfday, late brother of neral party pass into the churchyard. the Order of St. Lazarus, took place on the It was a strange funeral in its little way, following morning, and did not occupy and the villagers and their children marvelmuch time, or arouse a great deal of curi- led at the stern face of the grandson, and osity. Mabel Westbrook gave her evidence wondered why he looked to right and left of calmly, and in a few words related the fact of him so much, as if expectant of an intera large sum of money being due to Adam ruption to the service, or of a mourner who Halfday, and of her special mission from might be present somewhere in the backAmerica to pay it into his hands. He had ground, and whom he was anxious to disdied from excess of joy, and the county cover. He had not shed one tear over the newspapers in due time made out their sen- coffin of his grandfather that those who sational paragraphs concerning it, with more watched him could perceive. “A rare hard or less exaggeration of the details.

bit of stone that man is," more than one Adam Halfday was buried that afternoon worthy soul at Datchet Bridge declared later in the quiet churchyard of Datchet Bridge, in the afternoon. He had more feeling for with Brian and Dorcas for chief mourners. the living than the dead, for when the excit

* Registered in accordance with the Copyright Act of 1875.

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Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada in the year 1876, by ADAM, STBYENSON & Co., in the Office of the

Minister Agriculture.

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able Dorcas, who was sobbing and wailing servant of your grandfather's. I knew him as though she had lost all that had made when he was a young man ; I knew him life dear to her, pressed to the grave's verge when he was rich and proud, and hard and with faltering steps, he drew her arm through hateful ; and when he was poor and dishis for her support.

agreeable—awfully disagreeable.” There was a third mourner in the church- “Do you remember his son—my father?” yard, or at least one man who had craved a “ I should think I did," was the answer. holiday, and come his score of miles to do He was a weak ninny, was William. A poor honour to the funeral of old Halfday, and wisp of a fellow, whom nobody cared for. the restless eyes of Brian noticed him Nobody missed him, but his wife, when he amongst the crowd. When the funeral was slipped away from Penton one fine mornover this man lingered in the churchyard, ing." watched the process of filling in the grave, “ How many years is that ago ?” and being naturally loquacious, told the sex- “In the winter of 18–, some sixteen ton and his man a great deal of Adam's life years since," Peter answered promptly. “I and his own. He was in the middle of his mind the time ell, because he came to my narrative, when Brian Halfday, having seen house the night before, and borrowed three his sister to the inn, returned to the grave- pounds five of me. Ah ! I had money to side, touched the man's arm, and drew him lend then-those who get rich by Adam's reluctantly away.

death will perhaps remember what Bill “ You have had enough of this surely, Halfday owes me. Peter Scone?" he asked.

“ They shall do so, Peter,” said Brian ; “I always said I would see the last of “one good turn deserves another.” him. I promised myself that I would," re- “ Just as one bad turn deserves another," plied Peter, shaking his skeleton's head to added Peter maliciously. and fro, “and I have done it. I left early “That creed is not taught you at St. Lathis morning in Simpson's pigcart on pur- zarus," said Brian. pose to see the end of him."

“It is taught me by a good many things in “I have to thank you for coming all this this world,” replied Peter Scone, nodding his way,” said Brian.

head slowly and emphatically, “and what “He should have been buried in the Hos- St. Lazarus teaches me is neither here nor pital,” said Peter Scone, “and I ought to there. The man who vexes, wrongs, or have had my black wand and walked before slights another must expect vexation, wrong him, and the brothers should have followed and slight in his turn—that's what I say, in good order, and all things been straight sir.” and proper. Poor Adam has been cheated Then you are too old a man to say it," out of a fine funeral for a very so-so affair, answered Brian ; "think of it again when

a mind you, Master Brian.”

you get home, Peter, and are at your “I could not have given him a grand fu- prayers." neral, Peter, had I had the inclination." “I'll think of it again over a glass of rum

“Hasn't he died rich somehow?" said and water if you like,” said the old man, the old man querulously. “Hasn't he come with a leer that would have become Silenus into lots of money?”

on his face. “Who told you ?”

“You can have what you please.” “The people about here."

“Thank you, Master Brian. It has been “No one else ?"

a dry sort of funeral ; not that I have a right “ No one else.”

to complain,” he added, coming to a full “You have not heard anything of this stop to express his final opinions on the before to-day, or before your arrival here?” subject, “ for I was not asked to follow asked Brian, still doubtfully.

Adam. No one asked me--nobody thought “No. Who was to tell me anything of me-not even Dorcas, who has often hid. about it?”

den in my room out of the way of Adam and “ You will know in time."

his crutch, which he did throw about a good “ You might have called and told me deal in his tantrums—not even Dorcas yourself, Master Brian,” said Peter, in the Halfday.” same aggrieved tone of voice. “I was an old " There has been trouble here, Peter ; we

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have hardly had time to think of any- slights when a man's grown too weak to bear thing."

it—that's what long life is.” “I dare say—I dare say," said Peter half He drank his rum and water after proincredulously, “it is not worth speaking pounding this new theory, and said, about, any more than I am worth thinking “I'll be going back by the carrier, like a about. I am an old man, and past my time mouldy parcel, in half an hour or so. And altogether. Why should anybody trouble talking of parcels, I'll take mine, Mrs. Benhimself concerning me? ”

nett, if you'll be good enough to give it me, Come, Peter, you must not make a and the flowers too." grievance of this," said Brian heartily; "it “Here they are,” said the landlady, passdid not strike me that you or any of the ing over the bar a large brown-paper parcel, brothers would care to follow my grandfa- neatly fastened together, and a bouquet of ther to his grave, and I did not think that hothouse flowers of considerable proportions. you and he had been particularly good Brian regarded the articles with some defriends even.”

gree of astonishment. “We weren't good friends," answered Pe- “What are you going to do with these ?" ter; "he wouldn't be good friends with he asked. anybody. But as an old servant of his firm “I was told to give them into Miss West

-head cashier was I, Master Brian, before brook's hands with Mr. Angelo Salmon's you were born—he respected me as much compliments. They're books for her to as he respected anybody at St. Lazarus. read, and this,” holding up the bouquet, And that's not saying a great deal,” he was cut this morning from the Master's added, after a moment's further reflection conservatory. It's a beauty, ain't it?” on the subject.

" It is an odd time for a man to send They had passed from the churchyard flowers,” said Brian frowning. across the road into the inn by this time, “They are not for you,” replied Peter and Peter Scone made straight for the bar, quickly, “I am to give them to Miss Westand gave his order for rum and water to brook." the landlady.

“The waiter will show you the room. “ This gentleman will pay,” said Peter ; You will find Dorcas there also,” said “having come into property, he will stand Brian. treat to-day, Mrs. Bennett.

“I shall be glad to shake hands with "Let him have what he likes,” said Brian Dorcas—a fine, high-spirited girl she is. to the landlady.

I always liked her," was Peter's comment “You'll drink with me?" asked Peter of here ; "she wouldn't have been too proud our hero; "you are not too proud to drink to drink my health, I know,” he muttered with me, I hope ?"

to himself. “I am not in the mood for drinking, “You need not stay too long with Miss Peter."

Westbrook,” said Brian, “she is not well “Feel too much in the stirrups, perhaps?" to-day."

"I am not elated at my fortune,” said “Oh ! I'll take care," was the querulous Brian; “I am tired and dispirited, in reply ; “I won't trouble her too long with my fact."

society, depend upon it. And yet," he “ Drink's good for that kind of complaint, added, “I could talk to her for hours about I have heard,” replied Peter Scone;" you'll old times—her father and her grandfathertaké one glass with me, surely ?”

and all I know about them, couldn't I? No, I can't drink now,” said Brian very That James Westbrook, when he got rich, firmly.

might have thought of me a bit. I was a “ "Your good health, then, Mr. Halfday,” faithful servant to an unlucky house, but said Peter, gravely surveying Brian over the nobody ever thinks of me.” rim of his glass of rum and water.

“You'll find Miss Westbrook up-stairs,” “ Thank you."

said Brian, moving to the door of the inn, "I was going to say, “and long life to and, looking anxiously up and down the you,' but I can't recommend long life. It's road, finally proceeding at a smart pace, a mistake, and a failure," Peter observed ; and for half a mile, along the highway to “it's a heap more of disappointments and Penton.

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Suddenly he turned and walked as quickly hand, which closed upon it, and disposed of back to Datchet Bridge.

it in a side pocket in his liberty-coat. “He has played me false, as I felt he “Thank you,” said Peter ; " when the would do last night,” he said, “and I may family comes into its rights, I hope the molearn of his treachery at any moment. If ney I lent your father will be paid back, he had not stolen away like this! If I with interest.” could only see him now !"

“I have no doubt it will,” said Brian; At the inn again, and glancing upwards, my father is in England, and you will see as if by instinct, at the window of Miss him shortly." Westbrook's sitting-room. On the little “Your father-in England ! Now to table in front of the window was a vase with think of that." Angelo Salmon's bouquet already installed “ It's not worth thinking about at pretherein ; he could see it very clearly from sent," was the answer. the roadway, and it turned his thoughts in “Oh! but it is,” cried Peter, "for I don't another direction with singular celerity. see my way so clearly to my money now.”

“ That Angelo Salmon's a big fool," he “Why not?" asked Brian earnestly. muttered.

“ Your father was not a man to pay any. body when I knew him," said Peter.

“When I was a lad he left Penton. I

only have a misty recollection of him at that CHAPTER XXI.

time," said Brian mournfully; "a faint im

pression of a little kindness and a great BUSINESS POSTPONED.

deal of neglect stands for "father' in

those days. What kind of man was he, MAN with a wonderful sense of his Peter?”

own importance, or a man readily “Well, he was a better temper than the disposed to take affront, was Peter Scone, rest of you,” said Peter frankly ;" he took the senior brother of St. Lazarus, for Brian things easily, and let things go by him in an had scarcely delivered himself of his uncom- easy fashion, too." plimentary criticism on the unoffending An- “ Careless ?" gelo, when Peter emerged from the inn into

“ Yes.” the roadway, with a very sour expression on “But honest? A man of some degree of his withered countenance.

principle ? “I'm going back now—and the sooner “I don't recollect any principle in him," the better,” he said to Brian, as he tottered answered Peter, “and I don't fancy there

was a great deal of honesty in making off “ The carrier's cart is not in sight yet.” with my three pounds five."

“I can walk down the road and meet it, « That was a loan." I suppose," he snarled forth.

“For a few days he said, but then Bill “Certainly. I will go with you," said Halfday always was a liar." Brian.

“I am sorry to hear it,” murmured Brian. “I don't want any company," replied Mr. “Speaking the truth was quite out of your Scone ; “ talking's bad for me at my time of father's line. I dare say he took after his life.”

father, whose waspish tongue is still at last," Brian Halfday took no notice of this hint, he said, pointing to the churchyard. “Ah, but walked on by the side of the old man. well, you are a queer family, and none of

“What has the carrier charged you for you too civil. There's bad blood in the this journey, Peter ?” he asked.

Halfdays." “ Two-and-sixpence, because I'm a friend." “Yes, we're a bad lot,"assented Brian.

"I don't like your coming to the funeral And as for that Dorcas,” cried the old at your own expense,” said Brian, “and if man, suddenly remembering a recent indigyou will allow me to pay your fare, I shall nity which had been proffered him, “ if I be obliged."

ever forgive her, I wish I

may

die !" “I am too poor to say no," answered “Has she said anything this afternoon to Peter.

disturb you ?" inquired Brian. Brian placed half-a-crown in the man's “Has she said anything that is kind, or

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