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The History of David Grieve
by Mrs. Humphry Ward
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And he fell into a description of the mill-hand's working day. It was done with knowledge, sometimes with humour, and through it all ran a curious undercurrent of half-ironical passion. The audience enjoyed it, took the points, broke in now and then with comments as the speaker touched on such burning matters as the tyranny of overlookers, the temper of masters, the rubs between the different classes of 'hands,' the behaviour of 'minders' to the 'piecers' employed by them, and so on. The sermon at one time was more like a dialogue between preacher and congregation. David found himself joining in it involuntarily once or twice, so stimulating was the whole atmosphere, and Mr. Dyson's eye was caught perforce by the tall dark fellow with the defiant carriage of the head who sat next to Tom Mullins, and whom he did not remember to have seen before.

But suddenly the preacher stopped, and the room fell dead silent, startled by the darkening of his look. 'Ay,' he said, with stern sharpness. 'Ay, that's how you live—them's the things you spend your time and your minds on. You laugh, and I laugh—not a bad sort of life, you think—a good deal of pleasure, after all, to be got out of it. If a man must work he might do worse. O you poor souls!'

The speaker stopped, as though mastering himself. His face worked with emotion; his last words had been almost a cry of pain. After the easy give and take of the opening, this change was electrical. David felt his hand tremble on his knee.

'Answer me this!' cried the preacher, his nervous cotton-spinner's hand outstretched. 'Is there any soul here among you factory lads who, when he wakes in the morning, ever thinks of saying a prayer? Not one of you, I'll be bound! What with shovelling on one's clothes, and gulping down one's breakfast, and walking half a mile to the mill, who's got time to think about prayers? God must wait. He's always there above, you think, sitting in glory. He can listen any time. Well, as you stand at your work—all those hours! —is there ever a moment then for putting up a word in Jesus' ear—Jesus, Who died for sinners? Why, no, how should there be indeed? If you don't keep a sharp eye on your work the overlooker 'ull know the reason why in double-quick time!... But there comes a break, perhaps, for one reason or another. Does the Lord get it? What a thing to ask, to be sure! Why, there are other spinners close by, waiting for rovings, or leaving off for "baggin," and a bit of talk and a bad word or two are a deal more fun, and come easier than praying. Half-past five o'clock at last—knocking-off time. Then you begin to think of amusing yourselves. There's loafing about the streets, which never comes amiss, and there's smoking and the public for you bigger ones, and there's betting on Manchester races, and there's a bout of swearing every now and then to keep up your spirits, and there are other thoughts, and perhaps actions, for some of you, of which the less said in any decent Christian gathering the better! And so bedtime comes round again; still not a moment to think of God in—of the Judgment which has come a day closer—of your sins which have grown a day heavier—of your soul which has sunk a day further from heaven, a day nearer to hell? Not one. You are dead tired, and mill-work begins so early. Tumble in—God can wait. He has waited fourteen, or eighteen, or twenty years already!

'But you're not all factory hands here. I see a good many lads I know come from the country—from the farms up Kinder or Edale way. Well, I don't know so much about your ways as I do about mills; but I know some, and I can guess some. You are not shut up all day with the roar of the machines in your ears, and the cotton-fluff choking your lungs. You have to live harder, perhaps. You've less chances of getting on in the world; but I declare to you, if you're bad and godless—as some of you are—I think there's a precious sight less excuse for you than there is for the mill-hands!'

And with a startling vehemence, greater by far than he had shown in the case of the mill-workers, he threw himself on the vices and the callousness of the field-labourers. For were they not, day by day, and hour by hour, face to face with the Almighty in His marvellous world—with the rising of His sun, with the flash of His lightning, with His clouds which dropped fatness, and with the heavens which declare His glory? Nothing between them and the Most High, if they would open their dull eyes and see! And more than that. Not a bit of their life,' but had been dear to the Lord Jesus—but He had spoken of it, taught from it, made it sacred. The shepherd herding the sheep—how could he, of all men, forget and blaspheme the Good Shepherd? The sower scattering the seed—how could he, of all men, forget and blaspheme the Heavenly Sower? Oh, the crookedness of sin! Oh, the hardness of men's hearts!

The secret of the denunciations which followed lay hidden deep in the speaker's personal history. They were the utterances of a man who had stood for years at the 'mules,' catching, when he could, through the coarse panes of factory glass, the dim blue outlines of distant moors. Here were noise, crowd, coarse jesting, mean tyrannies, uncongenial company—everything which a nervous, excitable nature, tuned to poetry in the English way through religion, most loathed; there was beauty, peace, leisure for thought, for holiness, for emotion.

Meanwhile the mind of David Grieve rose once or twice in angry protest. It was not fair—it was unjust—and why did Mr. Dyson always seem to be looking at him?—flinging at him all these scathing words about farming people's sins and follies? He was shaken and excited. Oratory, of any sort, never failed to stir him extraordinarily. Once even he would have jumped up to speak, but Tom Mullins's watchful hand closed on his arm. Davy shook it off angrily, but was perforce reminded of his promise. And Mr. Dyson was swift in all things. The pitiless sentences dropped; the speaker, exhausted, wiped his brow and pondered a moment; and the lads from the farms about, most of whom David knew by sight, were left staring at the floor, some inclined to laugh by reaction, others crimson and miserable.

Well; so God was everywhere forgotten—in the fields and in the mill. The greedy, vicious hours went by, and God still waited—waited. Would he wait for ever?

'Nay!'

The intense, low-spoken word sent a shiver through the room. The revivalist passion had been mounting rapidly amongst the listeners, and the revivalist sense divined what was coming. To his dying day David, at least, never forgot the picture of a sinner's death agony, a sinner's doom, which followed. As to the first, it was very quiet and colloquial. The preacher dwelt on the tortured body, the choking breath, the failing sight, the talk of relations and friends round the bed.

'Ay, poor fellow, he'll not lasst mich longer; t' doctor's gien him up—and a good thing too, for his sufferins are terr'ble to see.'

'And your poor dying ears will catch what they say. Then will your fear come upon you as a storm, and your calamity as a whirlwind. Such a fear!

'Once, my lads—long ago—I saw a poor girl caught by her hair in one of the roving machines in the mill I used to work at. Three minutes afterwards they tore away her body from the iron teeth which had destroyed her. But I, a lad of twelve, had seen her face just as the thing caught her, and if I live to be a hundred I shall never forget that face—that horrible, horrible fear convulsing it.

'But that fear, my boys, was as nothing to the sinner's fear at death! Only a few more hours—a few more minutes, perhaps—and then judgment! All the pleasant loafing and lounging, all the eating and drinking, the betting and swearing, the warm sun, the kind light, the indulgent parents and friends left behind; nothing for ever and ever but the torments which belong to sin, and which even the living God can no more spare you and me if we die in sin than the mill-engine, once set going, can spare the poor creature that meddles with it.

'Well; but perhaps in that awful last hour you try to pray—to call on the Saviour. But, alas! alas! prayer and faith have to be learnt, like cotton-spinning. Let no man count on learning that lesson for the asking. While your body has been enjoying itself in sin, your soul has been dying—dying; and when at the last you bid it rise and go to the Father, you will find it just as helpless as your poor paralysed limbs. It cannot rise, it has no strength; it cannot go, for it knows not the way. No hope; no hope. Down it sinks, and the black waters of hell close upon it for ever!'

Then followed a sort of vision of the lost—delivered in short abrupt sentences—the form of the speaker drawn rigidly up meanwhile to its full height, the long arm outstretched. The utterance had very little of the lurid materialism, the grotesque horror of the ordinary ranter's hell. But it stole upon the imagination little by little, and possessed it at last with an all-pervading terror. Into it, to begin with, had gone the whole life-blood and passion of an agonised soul. The man speaking had himself graven the terrors of it on his inmost nature through many a week of demoniacal possession. But since that original experience of fire which gave it birth, there had come to its elaboration a strange artistic instinct. Day after day the preacher had repeated it to hushed congregations, and with every repetition, almost, there had come a greater sharpening of the light and shade, a keener sense of what would tell and move. He had given it on the moors that afternoon, but he gave it better tonight, for on the wild walk across the plateau of the Peak some fresh illustrations, drawn from its black and fissured solitude, had suggested themselves, and he worked them out as he went, with a kind of joy, watching their effect. Yet the man was, in his way, a saint, and altogether sincere—so subtle a thing is the life of the spirit.

In the middle, Tom Mullins, David's apprentice-friend, suddenly broke out into loud groans, rocking himself to and fro on the form. A little later, a small fair-haired boy of twelve sprang up from the form where he had been sitting trembling, and rushed into the space between the benches and the preacher, quite unconscious of what he was doing.

'Sir!' he said; 'oh, sir!—please—I didn't want to say them bad words this mornin; I didn't, sir; it wor t' big uns made me; they said they'd duck me—an it do hurt that bad. Oh, sir, please!'

And the little fellow stood wringing his hands, the tears coursing down his cheeks.

The minister stopped, frowning, and looked at him. Then a smile broke on the set face, he stepped up to the lad, threw his arm round him, and drew him up to his side fronting the room.

'My boy,' he said, looking down at him tenderly, 'you and I, thank God, are still in the land of the living; there is still time to-night—this very minute—to be saved! Ay, saved, for ever and ever, by the blood of the Lamb. Look away from yourselves—away from sin—away from hell—to the blessed Lord, that suffered and died and rose again; just for what? For this only—that He might, with His own pierced hands, draw every soul here to-night, and every soul in the wide world that will but hear His voice, out of the clutches of the devil, and out of the pains of hell, and gather it close and safe into His everlasting arms!'

There was a great sob from the whole room. Rough lads from the upland farms, shop-boys, mill-hands, strained forward, listening, thirsting, responding to every word.

Redemption—Salvation— the deliverance of the soul from itself—thither all religion comes at last, whether for the ranter or the philosopher. To the enriching of that conception, to the gradual hewing it out in historical shape, have gone the noblest poetry, the purest passion, the intensest spiritual vision of the highest races, since the human mind began to work. And the historical shape may crumble; but the need will last and the travail will go on; for man's quest of redemption is but the eternal yielding of the clay in the hands of the potter, the eternal answer of the creature to the urging indwelling Creator.



CHAPTER X

Half an hour later, after the stormy praying and singing which had succeeded Mr. Dyson's address, David found himself tramping up the rough and lonely road leading to the high Kinder valley. The lights of Clough End had disappeared; against the night sky the dark woody side of Mardale Moor was still visible; beneath it sang the river; a few stars wore to be seen; and every now and then the windows of a farm shone out to guide the wayfarer. But David stumbled on, noticing nothing. At the foot of the steep hill leading to the farm he stopped a moment, and leant over the gate. The little lad's cry was in his ears.

Presently he leapt the gate impatiently, and ran up whistling. Supper was over, but Hannah ungraciously brought him out some cold bacon and bread. Louie hung about him while he ate, studying him with quick furtive eyes.

'Whar yo bin?' she said abruptly, when Hannah had gone to the back kitchen for a moment. Reuben was dozing by the fire over the local paper.

'Nowhere as concerns yo,' said David, shortly. He finished his supper and went and sat on the steps. The dogs came and put their noses on his knees. He pulled absently at their coats, looking straight before him at the dark point of Kinder Low.

'Whar yo bin?' said Louie's voice again in his ear. She had squatted down on the step behind him.

'Be off wi yer,' said David, angrily, getting up in order to escape her.

But she pursued him across the farmyard.

'Have yo got a letter?'

'No, I haven't.'

'Did yo ask at t' post-office?'

'No, I didn't.'

'An why didn't yo?'

'Because I didn't want—soa there—get away.' And he stalked off. Louie, left behind, chewed the cud of reflection in the darkness.

Presently, to his great disgust, as he was sitting under a wall of one of the pasture-fields, hidden, as he conceived, from all the world by the night, he heard the rustle of a dress, the click of a stone, and there was Louie dangling her legs above him, having attacked him in the rear.

'Uncle Reuben's talkin 'is stuff about Mr. Dyson. I seed 'im gooin passt Wigsons' this afternoon. He's nowt—he's common, he is.'

The thin scornful voice out of the dark grated on him intolerably. He bent forward and shut his ears tight with both his hands. To judge from the muffled sounds he heard, Louie went on talking for a while; but at last there had been silence for so long, that he took his hands away, thinking she must have gone.

'Yo've been at t' prayer-meetin, I tell yo, an yo're a great stupid muffin-yed, soa theer.'

And a peremptory little kick on his shoulder from a substantial shoe gave the words point.

He sprang up in a rage, ran down the hill, jumped over a wall or two, and got rid of her. But he seemed to hear her elfish laugh for some time after. As for himself, he could not analyse what had come over him. But not even the attraction of an unopened parcel of books he had carried home that afternoon from Clough End—a loan from a young stationer he had lately made acquaintance with—could draw him back to the farm. He sat on and on in the dark. And when at last, roused by the distant sounds of shutting up the house, he slunk in and up to bed, he tossed about for a long time, and woke up often in the night. The tyrannous power of another man's faith was upon him. He could not get Mr. Dyson out of his head. How on earth could anybody be so certain? It was monstrous that any one should be. It was canting stuff.

Still, next day, hearing by chance that the new-comer was going to preach at a hamlet the other side of Clough End, he went, found a large mixed meeting mostly of mill-hands, and the tide of Revivalism rolling high. This time Mr. Dyson picked him out at once—the face and head indeed were easily remembered. After the sermon, when the congregation were filing out, leaving behind those more particularly distressed in mind to be dealt with more intimately in a small prayer-meeting by Mr. Dyson and a prayer-leader, the minister suddenly stepped aside from a group of people he was talking with, and touched David on the arm as he was making for the door.

'Won't you stay?' he said peremptorily. 'Don't trifle with the Lord.'

And his feverish divining eyes seemed to look the boy through and through. David flushed, and pushed past him with some inarticulate answer. When he found himself in the open air he was half angry, half shaken with emotion. And afterwards a curious instinct, the sullen instinct of the wild creature shrinking from a possible captor, made him keep himself as much as possible out of Mr. Dyson's way. At the prayer-meetings and addresses, which followed each other during the next fortnight in quick succession, David was almost always present; but he stood at the back, and as soon as the general function was over he fled. The preacher's strong will was piqued. He began to covet the boy's submission disproportionately, and laid schemes for meeting with him. But David evaded them all.

Other persons, however, succeeded better. Whenever the revivalist fever attacks a community, it excites in a certain number of individuals, especially women, an indescribable zeal for proselytising. The signs of 'conviction' in any hitherto unregenerate soul are marked at once, and the 'saved' make a prey of it, showing a marvellous cunning and persistence in its pursuit.

One day a woman, the wife of a Clough End shoemaker, slightly known to David, met him on the moors.

'Will yo coom to-night?' she said, nodding to him. 'Theer'll be prayin' at our house—about half a dozen.'

Then, as the boy stopped, amazed and hesitating, she fixed him with her shining ecstatic eyes.

'Awake, thou that sleepest,' she said under her breath, 'and Christ shall give thee light.'

She had been carrying a bundle to a distant farm. A child was in her arms, and she looked dragged and worn. But all the way down the moor as she came towards him David had heard her singing hymns.

He hung his head and passed on. But in the evening he went, found three or four other boys his own age or older, the woman, and her husband. The woman sang some of the most passionate Methodist hymns; the husband, a young shoemaker, already half dead of asthma and bronchitis, told his 'experiences' in a voice broken by incessant coughing; one of the boys, a rough specimen, known to David as a van-boy from some calico-printing works in the neighbourhood, prayed aloud, breaking down into sobs in the middle; and David, at first obstinately silent, found himself joining before the end in the groans and 'Amens,' by force of a contagious excitement he half despised but could not withstand.

The little prayer-meeting, however, broke up somewhat in confusion. There was not much real difference of opinion at this time in Clough End, which was, on the whole, a strongly religious town. Even the Churchmanship of it was decidedly evangelical, ready at any moment to make common cause with Dissent against Ritualism, if such a calamity should ever threaten the little community, and very ready to join, more or less furtively, in the excitements of Dissenting revivals. Jerry Timmins and his set represented the only serious blot on what the pious Clough Endian might reasonably regard as a fair picture. But this set contained some sharp fellows—provided outlet for a considerable amount of energy of a raw and roving sort, and, no doubt, did more to maintain the mental equilibrium of the small factory-town than any enthusiast on the other side would for a moment have allowed. The excitement which followed in the train of a man like Mr. Dyson roused, of course, an answering hubbub among the Timminsites. The whole of Jerry's circle was stirred up, in fact, like a hive of wasps; their ribaldry grew with what it fed on; and every day some new and exquisite method of harrying the devout occurred to the more ingenious among them.

David had hitherto escaped notice. But on this evening, while he and his half-dozen companions were still on their knees, they were first disturbed by loud drummings on the shoemaker's door, which opened directly into the little room where they were congregated; and then, when they emerged into the street, they found a mock prayer-meeting going on outside, with all the usual 'manifestations' of revivalist fervour—sighs, groans, shouts, and the rest of it—in full flow. At the sight of David Grieve there were first stares and then shrieks of laughter.

'I say, Davy,' cried a drunken young weaver, sidling up to him on his knees and embracing him from behind, 'my heart's real touched. Gie me yor coat, Davy; it's better nor mine, Davy; and I'm yor Christian brother, Davy.'

The emotion of this appeal drew uproarious merriment from the knot of Secularists. David, in a frenzy, kicked out, so that his assailant dropped him with a howl. The weaver's friends closed upon the 'Ranters,' who had to fight their way through. It was not till they had gained the outskirts of the town that the shower of stones ceased, and that they could pause to take stock of their losses. Then it appeared that, though all were bruised, torn, and furious, some were inclined to take a mystical joy in persecution, and to find compensation in certain plain and definite predictions as to the eternal fate in store for 'Jerry Timmins's divils.' David, on the other hand, was much more inclined to vent his wrath on his own side than on the Timminsites.

'Why can't yo keep what yo're doin to yorsels?' he called out fiercely to the knot of panting boys, as he faced round upon them at the gate leading to the Kinder road. 'Yo're a parcel o' fools—always chatterin and clatterin.'

The others defended themselves warmly. 'Them Timmins lot' were always spying about. They daren't attack the large meetings, but they had a diabolical way of scenting out the small ones. The meetings at the shoemaker's had been undisturbed for some few nights, then a Timminsite passing by had heard hymns, probably listened at the keyhole, and of course informed the main body of the enemy.

'They're like them nassty earwigs,' said one boy in disgust, 'they'll wriggle in onywheres.'

'Howd yor noise!' said David, peremptorily. 'If yo wanted to keep out o' their way, yo could do't fasst enough.'

'How!' they inquired, with equal curtness.

'Yo needn't meet in th' town at aw. Theer's plenty o' places up on t' moor,' and he waved his hand towards the hills behind him, lying clear in the autumn moonlight.' Theer's th' owd smithy—who'd find yo there?'

The mention of the smithy was received as an inspiration. There is a great deal of pure romantic temper roused by these revivalistic outbreaks in provincial England. The idea of the moors and the old ruin as setting for a secret prayer-meeting struck the group of excited lads as singularly attractive. They parted cheerfully upon it, in spite of their bruises.

David, however, walked home fuming. The self-abandonment of the revival had been all along wellnigh intolerable to him—and now, that he should have allowed the Timminsites to know anything about his prayers! He very nearly broke off from it altogether in his proud disgust.

However he did ultimately nothing of the sort. As soon as he grew cool again, he was as much tormented as before by what was at bottom more an intellectual curiosity than a moral anguish. There was some moral awakening in it; he had some real qualms about sin, some real aspirations after holiness, and, so far, the self-consciousness which had first stirred at Haworth was deepened and fertilised. But the thirst for emotion and sensation was the main force at work. He could not make out what these religious people meant by their 'experiences,' and for the first time he wanted to make out. So when it was proposed to him to meet at the smithy on a certain Saturday evening, he agreed.

Meanwhile, Louie was sitting up in bed every night, with her hands round her sharp knees, and her black brows knit over David's follies. It seemed to her he no longer cared 'a haporth' about getting a letter from Mr. Ancrum, about going to Manchester, about all those entrancing anti-meat schemes which were to lead so easily to a paradise of free 'buying' for both of them. Whenever she tried to call him back to these things he shook her off impatiently, and their new-born congeniality to each other had been all swamped in this craze for 'shoutin hollerin' people she despised with all her heart. When she flew out at him, he just avoided her. Indeed, he avoided her now at all times, whether she flew out or not. There was an invincible heathenism about Louie, which made her the natural enemy of any 'awakened' person.

The relation of the elders in the farm to the new development in David was a curious one. Hannah viewed it with a secret satisfaction. Christians have less time than other people—such, at least, had been her experience with Reuben—to spend in thirsting for the goods of this world. The more David went to prayer-meetings, the less likely was he to make inadmissible demands on what belonged to him. As for poor Reuben, he seemed to have got his wish; while he and Hannah had been doing their best to drive Sandy's son to perdition through a downward course of 'loafing,' God had sent Mr. Dyson to put Davy back on the right road. But he was ill at ease; he watched the excitement, which all the lad's prickly reticence could not hide from those about him, with strange and variable feelings. As a Christian, he should have rejoiced; instead, the uncle and nephew shunned each other more than ever, and shunned especially all talk of the revival. Perhaps the whole situation—the influence of the new man, of the local talk, of the quickened spiritual life around him, did but aggravate the inner strain in Reuben. Perhaps his wife's satisfaction, which his sharpened conscience perceived and understood, troubled him intolerably. At any rate, his silence and disquiet grew, and his only pleasure lay, more than ever, in those solitary cogitations we have already spoken of.

The 15th of October approached—as it happened, the Friday before the smithy prayer-meeting. On that day of the year, according to ancient and invariable custom, the Yorkshire stock—steers, heifers, young horses—which are transferred to the Derbyshire farms on the 15th of May, are driven back to their Yorkshire owners, with all the fatness of Derbyshire pastures showing on their sleek sides. Breeders and farmers meet again at Woodhead, just within the Yorkshire border. The animals are handed over to their owners, paid for at so much a head, and any preventible damage or loss occurring among them is reckoned against the farmer returning them, according to certain local rules.

As the middle of the month came nearer, Reuben began to talk despondently to Hannah of his probable gains from his Yorkshire 'boarders.' It had been a cold wet summer; he was 'feart' the owners would think he might have taken more care of some of the animals, especially of the young horses, and he mentioned certain ailments springing from damp and exposure for which he might be held responsible. Hannah grew irritated and anxious. The receipts from this source were the largest they could reckon upon in the year. But the fields on which the Yorkshire animals pastured were at some distance from the house; this department of the farm business was always left wholly to Reuben; and, with much grumbling and scolding, she took his word for it as to the probable lowness of the sum he should bring back.

David, meanwhile, was sometimes a good deal puzzled by Reuben's behaviour. It seemed to him that his uncle told some queer tales at home about their summer stock. And when Reuben announced his intention of going by himself to Woodhead, and leaving David at home, the boy was still more astonished.

However, he was glad enough to be spared the tramp with a set of people whose ways and talk were more and more uncongenial to him; and after his uncle's departure he lay for hours hidden from Louie among the heather, sometimes arguing out imaginary arguments with Mr. Dyson, sometimes going through passing thrills of emotion and fear. What was meant, he wanted to know, by 'the sense of pardon'? Person after person at the prayer-meetings he had been frequenting had spoken of attaining it with ecstasy, or of being still shut out from it with anguish. But how, after all, did it differ from pardoning yourself? You had only, it seemed to him, to think very hard that you were pardoned, and the feeling came. How could anybody tell it was more than that? David racked his brain endlessly over the same subject. Who could be sure that 'experience' was not all moonshine? But he was as yet much too touched and shaken by what he had been going through to draw any trenchant conclusions. He asked the question, however, and therein lay the great difference between him and the true stuff of Methodism.

Meanwhile, in his excitement, he, for the first time, ceased to go to the Dawsons' as usual. To begin with, they dropped out of a mind which was preoccupied with one of the first strong emotions of adolescence. Then, some one told him casually that 'Lias was more ailing than usual, and that Margaret was in much trouble. He was pricked with remorse, but just because Margaret would be sure to question him, a raw shyness came in and held him back from the effort of going.

On the Saturday evening David, having ingeniously given Louie the slip, sped across the fields to the smithy. It was past five o'clock, and the light was fading. But the waning gold of the sunset as he jumped the wall on to the moor made the whole autumnal earth about him, and the whole side of the Scout, one splendour. Such browns and pinks among the withering ling; such gleaming greens among the bilberry leaf; such reds among the turning ferns; such fiery touches on the mountain ashes overhanging the Red Brook! The western light struck in great shafts into the bosom of the Scout; and over its grand encompassing mass hung some hovering clouds just kindling into rosy flame. As the boy walked along he saw and thrilled to the beauty which lay spread about him. His mood was simple, and sweeter than usual. He felt a passionate need of expression, of emotion. There was a true disquiet, a genuine disgust with self at the bottom of him, and God seemed more than imaginatively near. Perhaps, on this day of his youth, of all days, he was closest to the Kingdom of Heaven.

At the smithy he found about a dozen persons, mostly youths, just come out from the two or three mills which give employment to Clough End, and one rather older than the rest, a favourite prayer-leader in Sunday meetings. At first, everything felt strange; the boys eyed one another; even David as he stepped in among them had a momentary reaction, and was more conscious of the presence of a red-haired fellow there with whom he had fought a mighty fight on the Huddersfield expedition, than of any spiritual needs.

However, the prayer-leader knew his work. He was slow and pompous; his tone with the Almighty might easily have roused a hostile sense of humour; but Dissent in its active and emotional forms kills the sense of humour; and, besides, there was a real, ungainly power in the man. Every phrase of his opening prayer was hackneyed; every gesture uncouth. But his heart was in it, and religious conviction is the most infectious thing in the world. He warmed, and his congregation warmed with him. The wild scene, too, did its part—the world of darkening moors spread out before them; the mountain wall behind them; the October wind sighing round the ruined walls; the lonely unaccustomed sounds of birds and water. When he ceased, boy after boy broke out into more or less incoherent praying. Soon in the dusk they could no longer see each other's faces; and then it was still easier to break through reserve.

At last David found himself speaking. What he said was at first almost inaudible, for he was kneeling between the wall and the pan which had been his childish joy, with his face and arms crushed against the stones. But when he began the boys about pricked up their ears, and David was conscious suddenly of a deepened silence. There were warm tears on his hidden cheeks; but it pleased him keenly they should listen so, and he prayed more audibly and freely. Then, when his voice dropped at last, the prayer-leader gave out the familiar hymn, 'Come, O thou Traveller unknown:'—

Come, O thou Traveller unknown, Whom still I hold, but cannot see! My company before is gone, And I am left alone with Thee; With Thee all night I mean to stay, And wrestle till the break of day.

Wilt thou not yet to me reveal Thy new unutterable name? Tell me, I still beseech thee, tell—To know it now resolved I am. Wrestling, I will not let thee go, Till I thy name, thy nature know.

'Tis Love! 'tis Love—thou lovest me! I hear thy whisper in my heart; The morning breaks, the shadows flee, Pure universal Love thou art; To me, to all, thy mercies move, Thy nature and thy name is Love.

Again and again the lines rose on the autumn air; each time the hymn came to an end it was started afresh, the sound of it spreading far and wide into the purple breast of Kinder Scout. At last the painful sobbing of poor Tom Mullins almost drowned the singing. The prayer-leader, himself much moved, bent over and seized him by the arm.

'Look to Jesus, Tom. Lay hold on the Saviour. Don't think of your sins; they're done away i' th' blood o' the Lamb. Howd Him fast. Say, "I believe," and the Lord ull deliver yo.'

With a cry, the great hulking lad sprang to his feet, and clasped his arms above his head—

'I do believe—I will believe. Help me, Lord Jesus. Oh, I'm saved! I'm saved!' And he remained standing in an ecstasy, looking to the sky above the Scout, where the red sunset glow still lingered.

'Hallelujah! hallelujah! Thanks be to God!' cried the prayer-leader, and the smithy resounded in the growing darkness with similar shouts. David was almost choking with excitement. He would have given worlds to spring to Tom Mullins's side and proclaim the same faith. But the inmost heart of him, his real self, seemed to him at this testing moment something dead and cold. No heavenly voice spoke to him, David Grieve. A genuine pang of religious despair seized him. He looked out over the moor through a gap in the stones. There was a dim path below; the fancy struck him that Christ, the 'Traveller unknown,' was passing along it. He had already stretched out His hand of blessing to Tom Mullins.

'To me! to me, too!' David cried under his breath, carried away by the haunting imagination, and straining his eyes into the dusk. Had the night opened to his sight there and then in a vision of glory, he would have been no whit surprised.

Hark!—what was that sound?

A weird scream rose on the wind. The startled congregation in the smithy scrambled to their feet. Another scream, nearer apparently than the first, and then a loud wailing, broken every few seconds by a strange slight laugh, of which the distance seemed quite indefinite. Was it close by, or beyond the Red Brook?

The prayer-leader turned white, the boys stood huddled round him in every attitude of terror. Again the scream, and the little ghostly laugh! Looking at each other wildly, the whole congregation broke from the smithy down the hill. But the leader stopped himself.

'It's mebbe soom one in trouble,' he said manfully, every limb trembling. 'We mun go and see, my lads.' And he rushed off in the direction whence the first sound had seemed to come—towards the Red Brook—half a dozen of the bolder spirits following. The rest stood cowering on the slope under the smithy. David meanwhile had climbed the ruined wall, and stood with head strained forward, his eyes sweeping the moor. But every outline was sinking fast into the gulf of the night; only a few indistinct masses—a cluster of gorse-bushes, a clump of mountain ash—still showed here and there.

The leader made for one of these darker patches on the mountain-side, led on always by the recurrent screams. He reached it; it was a patch of juniper overhanging the Red Brook—when suddenly from behind it there shot up a white thing, taller than the tallest man, with nodding head and outspread arms, and such laughter—so faint, so shrill, so evil, breaking midway into a hoarse angry yell.

'Jenny Crum! Jenny Crum!' cried the whole band with one voice, and, wheeling round, they ran down the Scout, joined by the contingent from the smithy, some of them falling headlong among the heather in their agony of flight, others ruthlessly knocking over those in front of them who seemed to be in their way. In a few seconds, as it seemed, the whole Scout was left to itself and the night. Footsteps, voices, all were gone—save for one long peal of most human, but still elfish, mirth, which came from the Red Brook.



CHAPTER XI

A dark figure sprang down from the wall of the smithy, leapt along the heather, and plunged into the bushes along the brook. A cry in another key was heard.

David emerged, dragging something behind him.

'Yo limb, yo! How dare yo, yo little beast? Yo impident little toad!' And in a perfect frenzy of rage he shook what she held. But Louie—for naturally it was Louie—wrenched herself away, and stood confronting him, panting, but exultant.

'I freetened 'em! just didn't I? Cantin humbugs! "Jenny Crum! Jenny Crum!"' And, mimicking the voice of the leader, she broke again into an hysterical shout of laughter.

David, beside himself, hit out and struck her. It was a heavy blow which knocked her down, and for a moment seemed to stun her. Then she recovered her senses, and flew at him in a mad passion, weeping wildly with the smart and excitement.

He held her off, ashamed of himself, till she flung away, shrieking out—

'Go and say its prayers, do—good little boy—poor little babby. Ugh, yo coward! hittin gells, that's all yo're good for.'

And she ran off so fast that all sight of her was lost in a few seconds. Only two or three loud sobs seemed to come back from the dark hollow below. As for the boy, he stopped a second to disentangle his feet from the mop and the tattered sheet wherewith Louie had worked her transformation scene. Then he dashed up the hill again, past the smithy, and into a track leading out on to the high road between Castleton and Clough End. He did not care where he went. Five minutes ago he had been almost in heaven; now he was in hell. He hated Louie, he hated the boys who had cut and run, he loathed himself. No!—religion was not for such as he. No more canting—no more praying—away with it! He seemed to shake all the emotion of the last few weeks from him with scorn and haste, as he ran on, his strong young limbs battling with the wind.

Presently he emerged on the high road. To the left, a hundred yards away, were the lights of a wayside inn; a farm waggon and a pair of horses standing with drooped and patient heads were drawn up on the cobbles in front of it. David felt in his pockets. There was eighteenpence in them, the remains of half-a-crown a strange gentleman had given him in Clough End the week before for stopping a runaway horse. In he stalked.

'Two penn'orth of gin—hot!' he commanded.

The girl serving the bar brought it and stared at him curiously. The glaring paraffin lamp above his head threw the frowning brows and wild eyes, the crimson cheeks, heaving chest, and tumbled hair, into strong light and shade. 'That's a quare un!' she thought, but she found him handsome all the same, and, retreating behind the beer-taps, she eyed him surreptitiously. She was a raw country lass, not yet stript of all her natural shyness, or she would have begun to 'chaff' him.

'Another!' said David, pushing forward his glass. This time he looked at her. His reckless gaze travelled over her coarse and comely face, her full figure, her bare arms. He drank the glass she gave him, and yet another. She began to feel half afraid of him, and moved away. The hot stimulant ran through his veins. Suddenly he felt his head whirling from the effects of it, but that horrible clutch of despair was no longer on him. He raised himself defiantly and turned to go, staggering along the floor. He was near the entrance when an inner door opened, and the carter, who had been gossiping in a room behind with the landlord, emerged. He started with astonishment when he saw David.

'Hullo, Davy, what are yo after?'

David turned, nearly losing his balance as he did so, and clutching at the bar for support. He found himself confronted with Jim Wigson—his old enemy—who had been to Castleton with a load of hay and some calves, and was on his way back to Kinder again. When he saw who it was clinging to the bar counter, Jim first stared and then burst into a hoarse roar of laughter.

'Coom here! coom here!' he shouted to the party in the back parlour. 'Here's a rum start! I do declare this beats cock-fighting! —this do. Damn my eyes iv it doosn't! Look at that yoong limb. Why they towd me down at Clough End this mornin he'd been took "serious" —took wi a prayin turn—they did. Look at un! It ull tak 'im till to-morrow mornin to know his yed from his heels. He! he! he! Yo're a deep un, Davy—yo are. But yo'll get a bastin when Hannah sees yo—prayin or no prayin.'

And Jim went off into another guffaw, pointing his whip the while at Davy. Some persons from the parlour crowded in, enjoying the fun. David did not see them. He reached out his hand for the glass he had just emptied, and steadying himself by a mighty effort, flung it swift and straight in Jim Wigson's face. There was a crash of fragments, a line of blood appeared on the young carter's chin, and a chorus of wrath and alarm rose from the group behind him. With a furious oath Jim placed a hand on the bar, vaulted it, and fell upon the lad. David defended himself blindly, but he was dazed with drink, and his blows and kicks rained aimlessly on Wigson's iron frame. In a second or two Jim had tripped him up, and stood over him, his face ablaze with vengeance and conquest.

'Yo yoong varmint—yo cantin yoong hypocrite! I'll teach yo to show imperence to your betters. Yo bin allus badly i' want o' soombody to tak yo down a peg or two. Now I'll show yo. I'll not fight yo, but I'll flog yo—flog yo—d' yo hear?'

And raising his carter's whip he brought it down on the boy's back and legs. David tried desperately to rise—in vain—Jim had him by the collar; and four or five times more the heavy whip came down, avenging with each lash many a slumbering grudge in the victor's soul.

Then Jim felt his arm firmly caught. 'Now, Mister Wigson,' cried the landlord—a little man, but a wiry—'yo'll not get me into trooble. Let th' yoong ripstitch go. Yo've gien him a taste he'll not forget in a week o' Sundays. Let him go.'

Jim, with more oaths, struggled to get free, but the landlord had quelled many rows in his time, and his wrists were worthy of his calling. Meanwhile his wife helped up the boy. David was no sooner on his feet than he made another mad rush for Wigson, and it needed the combined efforts of landlord, landlady, and servant-girl to part the two again. Then the landlord, seizing David from behind by 'the scuft of the neck,' ran him out to the door in a twinkling.

'Go 'long wi yo! An if yo coom raisin th' divil here again, see iv I don't gie yo a souse on th' yed mysel.' And he shoved his charge out adroitly and locked the door.

David staggered across the road as though still under the impetus given by the landlord's shove.

The servant-girl took advantage of the loud cross-fire of talk which immediately rose at the bar round Jim Wigson to run to a corner window and lift the blind. The boy was sitting on a heap of stones for mending the road, looking at the inn. Other passers-by had come in, attracted by the row, and the girl slipped out unperceived, opened the side door, and ran across the road. It had begun to rain, and the drops splashed in her face.

David was sitting leaning forward, his eyes fixed on the lighted windows of the house opposite. The rays which came from them showed her that his nose and forehead were bleeding, and that the blood was dripping unheeded on the boy's clothes. He was utterly powerless, and trembling all over, but his look 'gave her a turn.'

'Now, luke here,' she said, bending down to him. 'Yo jes go whoam. Wigson, he'll be out direckly, an he'll do yo a hurt iv he finds yo. Coom, I'll put yo i' the way for Kinder.'

And before he could gather his will to resist, she had dragged him up with her strong countrywoman's arms and was leading him along the road to the entrance of the lane he had come by.

'Lor, yo are bleedin,' she said compassionately; 'he shud ha thowt as how yo wor nobbut a lad—an it wor he begun aggin fust. He's a big bully is Wigson.' And impulsively raising her apron she applied it to the blood, David quite passive all the while. The great clumsy lass nearly kissed him for pity.

'Now then,' she said at last, turning him into the lane, 'yo know your way, an I mun goo, or they'll be raisin the parish arter me. Gude neet to yo, an keep out o' Wigson's seet. Rest yursel a bit theer—agen th' wall.'

And leaving him leaning against the wall, she reluctantly departed, stopping to look back at him two or three times in spite of the rain, till the angle of the wall hid him from view.

The rain poured down and the wind whistled through the rough lane. David presently slipped down upon a rock jutting from the wall, and a fevered, intermittent sleep seized him—the result of the spirits he had been drinking. His will could oppose no resistance; he slept on hour after hour, sheltered a little by an angle of the wall, but still soaked by rain and buffeted by the wind.

When he awoke he staggered suddenly to his feet. The smart of his back and legs recalled him, after a few moments of bewilderment, to a mental torture he had scarcely yet had time to feel. He—David Grieve—had been beaten—thrashed like a dog—by Jim Wigson! The remembered fact brought with it a degradation of mind and body—a complete unstringing of the moral fibres, which made even revenge seem an impossible output of energy. A nature of this sort, with such capacities and ambitions, carries about with it a sense of supremacy, a natural, indispensable self-conceit which acts as the sheath to the bud, and is the condition of healthy development. Break it down and you bruise and jeopardise the flower of life.

Jim Wigson!—the coarse, ignorant lout with whom he had been, more or less, at feud since his first day in Kinder, whom he had despised with all the strength of his young vanity. By to-morrow all Kinder would know, and all Kinder would laugh. 'What! yo whopped Reuben Grieve's nevvy, Jim? Wal, an a good thing, too! A lick now an again ud do him noa harm—a cantankerous yoong rascot—pert an proud, like t' passon's pig, I say.' David could hear the talk to be as though it were actually beside him. It burnt into his ear.

He groped his way through the lane and on to the moor—trembling with physical exhaustion, the morbid frenzy within him choking his breath, the storm beating in his face. What was that black mass to his right?—the smithy? A hard sob rose in his throat. Oh, he had been so near to an ideal world of sweetness, purity, holiness! Was it a year ago?

With great difficulty he found the crossing-place in the brook, and then the gap in the wall which led him into the farm fields. When he was still a couple of fields off the house he heard the dogs beginning. But he heard them as though in a dream.

At last he stood at the door and fumbled for the handle. Locked! Why, what time could it be? He tried to remember what time he had left home, but failed. At last he knocked, and just as he did so he perceived through a chink of the kitchen shutter a light on the scrubbed deal table inside, and Hannah's figure beside it. At the sound of the knocker Hannah rose, put away her work with deliberation, snuffed the candle, and then moved with it to the door of the kitchen. The boy watched her with a quickly beating heart and whirling brain. She opened the door.

'Whar yo bin?' she demanded sternly. 'I'd like to know what business yo have to coom in this time o' neet, an your uncle fro whoam. Yo've bin in mischief, I'll be bound. Theer's Louie coom back wi a black eye, an jes because she woan't say nowt about it, I know as it's yo are at t' bottom o' 't. I'm reg'lar sick o' sich doins in a decent house. Whar yo bin, I say?'

And this time she held the candle up so as to see him. She had been sitting fuming by herself, and was in one of her blackest tempers. David's misdemeanour was like food to a hungry instinct.

'I went to prayer-meetin,' the lad said thickly. It seemed to him as though the words came all in the wrong order.

Hannah bent forward and gave a sudden cry.

'Why, yo bin fightin! Yo're all ower blood! Yo bin fightin, and I'll bet a thousand pund yo draw'd in Louie too. And sperrits! Why, yo smell o' sperrits! Yo're jes reekin wi 'em! Wal, upon my word!'—and Hannah drew herself back, flinging every slow word in his face like a blow. 'Yo feature your mither, yo do, boath on you, pretty close. I allus said it ud coom out i' yo too. Prayer-meetin! Yo yoong hypocrite! Gang your ways! Yo may sleep i' th' stable; it's good enough liggin for yo this neet.'

And before he had taken in her words she had slammed the door in his face, and locked it. He made a feeble rush for it in vain. Hannah marched back into the kitchen, listening instinctively first to him left outside, and then for any sound there might be from upstairs. In a minute or two she heard uneven steps going away; but there was no movement in the room overhead. Louie was sleeping heavily. As for Hannah, she sat down again with a fierce decision of gesture, which seemed to vibrate through the kitchen and all it held. Who could find fault with her? It would be a lesson to him. It was not a cold night, and there was straw in the stable—a deal better lying than such a boy deserved. As she thought of his 'religious' turn she shrugged her shoulders with a bitter scorn.

The night wore on in the high Kinder valley. The stormy wind and rain beat in great waves of sound and flood against the breast of the mountain; the Kinder stream and the Red Brook danced under the heavy drops. The grouse lay close and silent in the sheltering heather; even the owls in the lower woods made no sound. Still, the night was not perfectly dark, for towards midnight a watery moon rose, and showed itself at intervals between the pelting showers.

In the Dawsons' little cottage on Frimley Moor there were still lights showing when that pale moon appeared. Margaret was watching late. She and another woman sat by the fire talking under their breaths. A kettle was beside her with a long spout, which sent the steam far into the room, keeping the air of it moist and warm for the poor bronchitic old man who lay close-curtained from the draughts on the wooden bed in the corner.

The kettle sang, the fire crackled, and the wind shook the windows and doors. But suddenly, through the other sounds, Margaret was aware of an intermittent knocking—a low, hesitating sound, as of some one outside afraid, and yet eager, to make himself heard.

She started up, and her companion—a homely neighbour, one of those persons whose goodness had, perhaps, helped to shape poor Margaret's philosophy of life—looked round with a scared expression.

'Whoiver can it be, this time o' neet?' said Margaret—and she looked at the old clock—'why, it's close on middle-neet!'

She hesitated a moment, then she went to the door, and bent her mouth to the chink—

'Who are yo? What d' yo want?' she asked, in a distinct but low voice, so as not to disturb 'Lias.

No answer for a minute. Then her ear caught some words from outside. With an exclamation she unlocked the door and threw it open.

'Davy! Davy!' she cried, almost forgetting her patient.

The boy clung to the lintel without a word.

'Coom your ways in!' she said peremptorily, catching him by the sleeve. 'We conno ha no draughts on th' owd man.'

And she drew him into the light, and shut the door. Then as the shaded candle and firelight fell on the tall lad, wavering now to this side, now to that, as though unable to support himself, his clothes dripping on the flags, his face deadly white, save for the smears of blood upon it, the two women fell back in terror.

'Will yo gie me shelter?' said the boy, hoarsely; 'I bin lying hours i' th' wet. Aunt Hannah turned me out.'

Margaret came close to him and looked him all over.

'What for did she turn yo out, Davy?'

'I wor late. I'd been fightin Jim Wigson, an she smelt me o' drink.'

And suddenly the lad sank down on a stool near, and laid his head in his hands, as though he could hold it up no longer. Margaret's blanched old face melted all in a minute.

'Howd 'un up quick!' she said to her companion, still in a whisper. 'He hanno got a dry thread on—and luke at that cut on his yed—why, he'll be laid up for weeks, maybe, for this. Get his cloos off, an we'll put him on my bed then.'

And between them they dragged him up, and Margaret began to strip off his jacket. As they held him—David surrendering himself passively—the curtain of the bed was drawn back, and 'Lias, raising himself on an elbow, looked out into the room. As he caught sight of the group of the boy and the two women, arrested in their task by the movement of the curtain, the old man's face expressed, first a weak and agitated bewilderment, and then in an instant it cleared.

His dream wove the sight into itself, and 'Lias knew all about it. His thin long features, with the white hair hanging about them, took an indulgent amused look.

'Bony—eh, Bony, is that yo, man? Eh, but yo're cold an pinched, loike! A gude glass o' English grog ud not come amiss to yo. An your coat, an your boots—what is 't drippin? Snaw? Yo make a man's backbane freeze t' see yo. An there's hot wark behind yo, too. Moscow might ha warmed yo, I'm thinkin, an—'

But the weak husky voice gave way, and 'Lias fell back, still holding the curtain, though, in his emaciated hand, and straining his dim eyes on David. Margaret, with tears, ran to him, tried to quiet him and to shut out the light from him again. But he pushed her irritably aside.

'No, Margaret,—doan't intrude. What d' yo know about it? Yo know nowt, Margaret. When did yo iver heer o' the Moscow campaign? Let me be, woan't yo?'

But perceiving that he would not be quieted, she turned him on his pillows, so that he could see the boy at his ease.

'He's bin out i' th' wet, 'Lias dear, has Davy,' she said; 'and it's nobbut a clashy night. We mun gie him summat hot, and a place to sleep in.'

But the old man did not listen to her. He lay looking at David, his pale blue eyes weirdly visible in his haggard face, muttering to himself. He was still tramping in the snow with the French army.

Then, suddenly, for the first time, he seemed troubled. He stared up at the pale miserable boy who stood looking at him with trembling lips. His own face began to work painfully, his dream struggled with recognition.

Margaret drew David quickly away. She hurried him into the further corner of the cottage, where he was out of sight of the bed. There she quickly stripped him of his wet garments, as any mother might have done, found an old flannel shirt of 'Lias's for him, and, wrapping him close in a blanket, she made him lie down on her own bed, he being now much too weak to realise what was done with him. Then she got an empty bottle, filled it from the kettle, and put it to his feet; and finally she brought a bowlful of warm water and a bit of towel, and, sitting down by him, she washed the blood and dirt away from his face and hand, and smoothed down the tangled black hair. She, too, noticed the smell of spirits, and shook her head over it; but her motherliness grew with every act of service, and when she had made him warm and comfortable, and he was dropping into the dead sleep of exhaustion, she drew her old hand tenderly across his brow.

'He do feature yan o' my own lads so as he lies theer,' she said tremulously to her friend at the fire, as though explaining herself. 'When they'd coom home late fro wark, I'd use to hull 'em up so mony a time. Ay, I'd been woonderin what had coom to th' boy. I thowt he'd been goin wrang soomhow, or he'd ha coom aw these weeks to see 'Lias an me. It's a poor sort o' family he's got. That Hannah Grieve's a hard un, I'll uphowd yo. Theer's a deal o' her fault in 't, yo may mak sure.'

Then she went to give 'Lias some brandy—he lived on little else now. He dropped asleep again, and, coming back to the hearth, she consented to lie down before it while her friend watched. Her failing frame was worn out with nursing and want of rest, and she was soon asleep.

When Davy awoke the room was full of a chill daylight. As he moved he felt himself stiff all over. The sensation brought back memory, and the boy's whole being seemed to shrink together. He burrowed first under his coverings out of the light, then suddenly he sat up in bed, in the shadow of the little staircase—or rather ladder—which led to the upper story, and looked about him.

The good woman who had shared Margaret's watch was gone back to her own home and children. Margaret had made up the fire, tidied the room, and, at 'Lias's request, drawn up the blinds. She had just given him some beef-tea and brandy, sponged his face, and lifted him on his pillows. There seemed to be a revival of life in the old man, death was for the moment driven back; and Margaret hung over him in an ecstasy, the two crooning together. David could see her thin bent figure—the sharpened delicacy of the emaciated face set in the rusty black net cap which was tied under the chin, and fell in soft frills on the still brown and silky hair. He saw her weaver's hand folded round 'Lias's, and he could hear 'Lias speaking in a weak thread of a voice, but still sanely and rationally. It gave him a start to catch some of the words—he had been so long accustomed to the visionary 'Lias.

'Have yo rested, Margaret?'

'Ay, dear love, three hours an moor. Betsy James wor here; she saw yo wanted for nowt. She's a gude creetur, ain't she, 'Lias?'

'Ay, but noan so good as my Margaret,' said the old man, looking at her wistfully.' But yo'll wear yorsel down, Margaret; 'yo've had no rest for neets. Yo're allus toilin' and moilin', an I'm no worth it, Margaret.'

The tears gushed to the wife's eyes. It was only with the nearness of death that 'Lias seemed to have found out his debt to her. To both, her lifelong service had been the natural offering of the lower to the higher; she had not been used to gratitude, and she could not bear it.

'Dear heart! dear love!' David heard her say; and then there came to his half-reluctant ear caresses such as a mother gives her child. He laid his head on his knees, trying to shut them out. He wished with a passionate and bitter regret that he had not been so many weeks without coming near these two people; and now 'Lias was going fast, and after to-day he would see them both no more—for ever?

Margaret heard him moving, and nodded back to him over her shoulder.

'Yo've slept well, Davy,—better nor I thowt yo would. Your cloos are by yo—atwixt yo an t'stairs.'

And there he found them, dry and brushed. He dressed hastily and came forward to the fire. 'Lias recognised him feebly, Margaret watching anxiously to see whether his fancies would take him again. In this tension of death and parting his visions had become almost more than she could bear. But 'Lias lay quiet.

'Davy wor caught i' th' rain, and I gave him a bed,' she explained again, and the old man nodded without a word.

Then as she prepared him a bowl of oatmeal she stood by the fire giving the boy motherly advice. He must go back home, of course, and never mind Hannah; there would come a time when he would get his chance like other people; and he mustn't drink, for, 'i' th' first place, drink wor a sad waste o' good wits,' and David's were 'better'n most;' and in the second, 'it wor a sin agen the Lord.'

David sat with his head drooped in his hand apparently listening. In reality, her gentle babble passed over him almost unheeded. He was aching in mind and body; his strong youth, indeed, had but just saved him from complete physical collapse; for he had lain an indefinite time on the soaking moor, till misery and despair had driven him to Margaret's door. But his moral equilibrium was beginning to return, in virtue of a certain resolution, the one thing which now stood between him and the black gulf of the night. He ate his porridge and then he got up.

'I mun goo, Margaret.'

He would fain have thanked her, but the words choked in his throat.

'Ay, soa yo mun, Davy,' said the little body briskly. 'If theer's an onpleasant thing to do it's best doon quickly—yo mun go back and do your duty. Coom and see us when yo're passin again. An say good-bye to 'Lias. He's that wick this mornin—ain't yo, 'Lias?'

And with a tender cheerfulness she ran across to 'Lias and told him Davy was going.

'Good-bye, Davy, my lad, good-bye,' murmured the old man, as he felt the boy's strong fingers touching his. 'Have yo been readin owt, Davy, since we saw yo? It's a long time, Davy.'

'No, nowt of ony account,' said David, looking away.

'Ay, but yo mun keep it up. Coom when yo like; I've not mony books, but yo know yo can have 'em aw. I want noan o' them now, do I, Marg'ret? But I want for nowt—nowt. Dyin 's long, but it's varra—varra peaceful. Margaret!'

And withdrawing his hand from Davy, 'Lias laid it in his wife's with a long, long sigh. David left them so. He stole out unperceived by either of them.

When he got outside he stood for a moment under the sheltering sycamores and laid his cheek against the door. The action contained all he could not say.

Then he sped along towards the farm. The sun was rising through the autumn mists, striking on the gold of the chestnuts, the red of the cherry trees. There were spaces of intense blue among the rolling clouds, and between the storm past and the storm to come the whole moorland world was lavishly, garishly bright.

He paused at the top of the pasture-fields to look at the farm. Smoke was already rising from the chimney. Then Aunt Hannah was up, and he must mind himself. He crept on under walls, till he got to the back of the farmyard. Then he slipped in, ran into the stable, and got an old coat of his left there the day before. There was a copy of a Methodist paper lying near it. He took it up and tore it across with passion. But his rage was not so much with the paper. It was his own worthless, unstable, miserable self he would have rent if he could. The wreck of ideal hopes, the defacement of that fair image of itself which every healthy youth bears about with it, could not have been more pitifully expressed.

Then he looked round to see if there was anything else that he could honestly take. Yes—an ash stick he had cut himself a week or two ago. Nothing else—and there was Tibby moving and beginning to bark in the cowhouse.

He ran across the road, and from a safe shelter in the fields on the farther side he again looked back to the farm. There was Louie's room, the blind still down. He thought of his blow of the night before—of his promises to her. Aye, she would fret over his going—he knew that—in her own wild way. She would think he had been a beast to her. So he had—so he had! There surged up in his mind inarticulate phrases of remorse, of self-excuse, as though he were talking to her.

Some day he would come back and claim her. But when? His buoyant self-dependence was all gone. It had nothing to do with his present departure. That came simply from the fact that it was impossible for him to go on living in Kinder any longer—he did not stop to analyse the whys and wherefores.

But suddenly a nervous horror of seeing anyone he knew, now that the morning was advancing, startled him from his hiding-place. He ran up towards the Scout again, so as to make a long circuit round the Wigsons' farm. As he distinguished the walls of it a shiver of passion ran through the young body. Then he struck off straight across the moors towards Glossop.

One moment he stood on the top of Mardale Moor. On one side of him was the Kinder valley, Needham Farm still showing among its trees; the white cataract of the Downfall cleaving the dark wall of the Scout, and calling to the runaway in that voice of storm he knew so well; the Mermaid's Pool gleaming like an eye in the moorland. On the other side were hollow after hollow, town beyond town, each with its cap of morning smoke. There was New Mills, there was Stockport, there in the far distance was Manchester.

The boy stood a moment poised between the two worlds, his ash-stick in his hand, the old coat wound round his arm. Then at a bound he cleared a low stone wall beside him and ran down the Glossop road.

Twelve hours later Reuben Grieve climbed the long hill to the farm. His wrinkled face was happier than it had been for months, and his thoughts were so pleasantly occupied that he entirely failed to perceive, for instance, the behaviour of an acquaintance, who stopped and started as he met him at the entrance of the Kinder lane, made as though he would have spoken, and, thinking better of it, walked on. Reuben—the mendacious Reuben—had done very well with his summer stock—very well indeed. And part of his earnings was now safely housed in the hands of an old chapel friend, to whom he had confided them under pledge of secrecy. But he took a curious, excited pleasure in the thought of the 'poor mouth' he was going to make to Hannah. He was growing reckless in his passion for restitution—always provided, however, that he was not called upon to brave his wife openly. A few more such irregular savings, and, if an opening turned up for David, he could pay the money and pack off the lad before Hannah could look round. He could never do it under her opposition, but he thought he could do it and take the consequences—he thought he could.

He opened his own gate. There on the house doorstep stood Hannah, whiter and grimmer than ever.

'Reuben Grieve,' she said quickly, 'your nevvy's run away. An if yo doan't coom and keep your good-for-nothin niece in her place, and make udder foak keep a civil tongue i' their head to your wife, I'll leave your house this neet, as sure as I wor born a Martin!'

Reuben stumbled into the house. There was a wild rush downstairs, and Louie fell upon him, David's blow showing ghastly plain in her white quivering face.

'Whar's Davy?' she said. 'Yo've got him!—he's hid soomwhere—yo know whar he is! I'll not stay here if yo conno find him! It wor her fault'—and she threw out a shaking hand towards her aunt—'she druv him out last neet—an Dawsons took him in—an iverybody's cryin shame on her! And if yo doan't mak her find him—she knows where he is—I'll not stay in this hole!—I'll kill her!—I'll burn th' house!—I'll—'

The child stopped—panting, choked—beside herself.

Hannah made a threatening step, but at her gesture Reuben sprang up, and seizing her by both wrists he looked at her from a height, as a judge looks. Never had those dull eyes met her so before.

'Woman!' he cried fiercely. 'Woman! what ha yo doon wi Sandy's son?'



BOOK II YOUTH



CHAPTER I

A tall youth carrying a parcel of books under his arm was hurrying along Market Place, Manchester. Beside him were covered flower stalls bordering the pavement, in front of him the domed mass of the Manchester Exchange, and on all sides he had to push his way through a crowd of talking, chaffering, hurrying humanity. Presently he stopped at the door of a restaurant bearing the idyllic and altogether remarkable name—there it was in gilt letters over the door—of the 'Fruit and Flowers Parlour.' On the side post of the door a bill of fare was posted, which the young man looked up and down with careful eyes. It contained a strange medley of items in all tongues—

'Marrow pie Haricots a la Lune de Miel Vol-au-Vent a la bonne Santo: Tomato fritters Cheese 'Ticements Salad saladorum'

And at the bottom of the menu was printed in bold red characters,

'No meat, no disease. Ergo, no meat, no sin. Fellow-citizens, leave your carnal foods, and try a more excellent way. I. E. Push the door and walk in. The Fruit and Flowers Parlour invites everybody and overcharges nobody.'

The youth did not trouble, however, to read the notice. He knew it and the 'Parlour' behind it by heart. But he moved away, pondering the menu with a smile.

In his amused abstraction—at the root of which lay the appetite of eighteen—he suddenly ran into a passer-by, who stumbled against a shop window with an exclamation of pain. The youth's attention was attracted and he stopped awkwardly.

'People of your height, young man, should look before them,' said the victim, rubbing what seemed to be a deformed leg, while his lips paled a little.

'Mr. Ancrum,' cried the other, amazed.

'Davy!'

The two looked at each other. Then Mr. Ancrum gripped the lad's arm.

'Help me along, Davy. It's only a bruise. It'll go off. Where are you going?'

'Up Piccadilly way with a parcel,' said Davy, looking askance at his companion's nether man. 'Did I knock your bad leg, sir?'

'Oh no, nothing—never mind. Well now, Davy, this is queer—decidedly queer. Four years!—and we run against each other in Market Street at last. Tell me the truth, Davy—have you long ago given me up as a man who could make promises to a lad in difficulties and forget 'em as soon as he was out of sight? Say it out, my boy.'

David flushed and looked down at his companion with some embarrassment. Their old relation of minister and pupil had left a deep mark behind it. Moreover, in the presence of that face of Mr. Ancrum's, a long, thin, slightly twisted face, with the stamp somehow of a tragic sincerity on the eyes and mouth, it was difficult to think as slightingly of his old friend as he had done for a good while past, apparently with excellent reason.

'I supposed there was something the matter,' he blurted out at last.

'Well, never mind, Davy,' said the other, smiling sadly. 'We can't talk here in this din. But now I've got you, I keep you. Where are you?'

'I'm in Half Street, sir—Purcell's, the bookseller.'

'Don't know him. I never go into a shop. I have no money. Are you apprentice there?'

'Well, there was no binding. I'm assistant. I do a lot of business one way and another, buying and selling both.'

'How long have you been in Manchester?'

'Four years, sir.'

The minister looked amazed.

'And I have been here, off and on, for the last three. How have we missed each other all that time? I made inquiries at Clough End, when—ah, well, no matter; but it was too late. You had decamped, no one could tell me anything.'

David walked on beside his companion, silent and awkward. The explanation seemed a lame one. Mr. Ancrum had left Clough End in May, promising to look out for a place for the lad at once, and to let him know. Six whole months elapsed between that promise and David's own departure. Yes, it was lame; but it was so long ago, and so many things had happened since, that it did not signify. Only he did not somehow feel much effusion in meeting his old friend and playfellow again.

'Getting on, Davy?' said Ancrum presently, looking the lad up and down.

David made a movement of the shoulders which the minister noticed. It was both more free and more graceful than ordinary English gesture. It reawakened in Ancrum at once that impression of something alien and unusual which both David and his sister had often produced in him while they were still children.

'I don't know,' said the boy slowly; and then, after a hesitation or two, fell silent.

'Well, look here,' said Ancrum, stopping short; 'this won't do for talk, as I said before; but I must know all about you, and I must tell you what I can about myself. I lodge in Mortimer Road, you know, up Fallowfield way. You can get there by tram in twenty minutes; when will you come and see me? Tonight?'

The lad thought a moment.

'Would Wednesday night do, sir? I—I believe I'm going to the music to-night.'

'What, to the "Elijah," in the Free Trade Hall? Appoint me a place to meet—we'll go together—and you shall come home to supper with me afterwards.'

David flushed and looked straight before him.

'I promised to take two young ladies,' he said, after a moment, abruptly.

'Oh!' said Mr. Ancrum, laughing. 'I apologise. Well, Wednesday night, then.—Don't you forget, Davy—half-past seven? Done. Fourteen, Mortimer Road. Good-bye.'

And the minister turned and retraced his steps towards Market Place. He walked slowly, like one much preoccupied, and might have run into fresh risks but for the instinctive perception of most passers-by that he was not a person to be hustled. Suddenly he laughed out—thinking of David and his 'young ladies,' and comparing the lad's admission with his former attitude towards 'gells.' Well, time had but wrought its natural work. What a brilliant noticeable creature altogether—how unlike the ordinary run of north-country lads! But that he had been from the beginning—the strain of some nimbler blood had always shown itself.

Meanwhile, David made his way up Piccadilly—did some humourist divert himself, in days gone by, with dropping a shower of London names on Manchester streets?—and deposited his parcel. Then the great clock of the Exchange struck twelve, and the Cathedral followed close upon it, the sounds swaying and vibrating above the crowds hurrying through Market Street. It was a damp October day. Above, the sky was hidden by a dark canopy of cloud and smoke; the Cathedral on its hill rose iron-black above the black streets and river; black mud encrusted all the streets, and bespattered those that walked in them. Nothing more dreary than the smoke-grimed buildings on either hand, than the hideous railway station across the bridge, or the mud-sprinkled hoardings covered with flaring advertisements, which led up to the bridge, could be well imagined. Manchester was at its darkest and grimmest.

But as David Grieve walked back along Market Street his heart danced within him. Neither mud nor darkness, neither the squalor of the streets, nor the penetrating damp of the air, affected him at all. The crowd, the rush of life about him, the gas in the shops, the wares on which it shone, the endless faces passing him, the sense of hurry, of business, of quick living—he saw and felt nothing else; and to these his youth was all atune.

Arrived in Market Place again he made his way with alacrity to the 'Parlour.' For it was dinner time; he had a free half-hour, and nine times out of ten he spent it at the 'Parlour.'

He walked in, put his hat on its accustomed peg, took his seat at a table near the door, and looked round for some one. The low widespreading room was well filled, mostly with clerks and shopmen; the gas was lit because of the darkness outside, and showed off the gay panels on the walls filled with fruit and flower subjects, for which Adrian O'Connor Lomax, commonly called 'Daddy,' the owner of the restaurant, had given a commission to some students at the Mechanics' Institute, and whereof he was inordinately proud. At the end of the room near the counter was a table occupied by about half a dozen young men, all laughing and talking noisily, and beside them shouting, gesticulating, making dashes, now for one, now for another—was a figure, which David at once set himself to watch, his chin balanced on his hand, his eyes dancing. It was the thin tall figure of an oldish man in a long frock-coat, which opened in front over a gaily flowered silk waistcoat. On the bald crown of his head he wore a black skull cap, below which certain grotesque and scanty tails of fair hair, carefully brushed, fell to his shoulders. His face was long and sharply pointed, and the surface of it bronzed and wrinkled by long exposure, out of all likeness to human skin. The eyes were weirdly prominent and blue; the gestures had the deliberate extravagance of an actor; and the whole man recalled a wizard of pantomime.

David had hardly time to amuse himself with the 'chaffing' of Daddy, which was going on, and which went on habitually at the Parlour from morning till night, when Daddy perceived a new-comer.

He turned round sharp upon his heels, surveyed the room with the frown of a general.

'Ah!' he said with a theatrical air, as he made out the lad at the further table. 'Gentlemen, I let you off for the present,' and waving his hand to them with an indulgent self-importance, which provoked a roar of laughter, he turned and walked down the restaurant, with a quick swaying gait, to where David sat.

David made room for him in a smiling silence. Lomax sat down, and the two looked at each other.

'Davy,' said Daddy severely, 'why weren't you here yesterday?'

'When did you begin opening on Sundays, Daddy?' said the youth, attacking a portion of marrow pie, which had just been laid before him, his gay curious eyes still wandering over Daddy's costume, which was to-day completed by a large dahlia in the buttonhole, as grotesque as the rest.

'Ah bedad, but I'm losing my memory entirely;—and you know it, you varmint. Well then, it was Saturday you weren't here.'

'You're about right there. I was let off early, and got a walk out Ramsbottom way with a fellow. I hadn't stretched my legs for two months, and—I'll confess to you, Daddy—that when we got down from the moor, I was—overtaken—as the pious people say—by a mutton chop.'

The lad looked up at him laughing. Daddy surveyed him with chagrin.

'I knew you were a worthless lukewarm sort of a creature. Flesh-eating's as bad as drink for them that have got it in 'em. It'll come out. Well, go your ways! You'll never be Prime Minister.'

'Don't distress yourself, Daddy. As long as marrow pies are good, I shall eat 'em—you may count on that. What's that cheese affair down there?' and he pointed towards the last item but one in the bill of fare. Instead of answering, the old man turned on his seat, and called to one of the waitresses near. In a second David had a 'Cheese 'Ticement' before him, at which he peered curiously. Daddy watched him, not without some signs of nervousness.

'Daddy,' said David, calmly looking up, 'when I last saw this article it was called "Welsh rabbit."'

'Davy, you've no soul for fine distinctions,' said the other hastily. 'Change the subject. How have my dear brother-in-law and you been hitting it off lately?'

David went on with his ''Ticement,' the corners of his mouth twitching, for a minute or so, then he raised his head and slowly shook it, looking Daddy in the face.

'We shall bear up when we say good-bye, Daddy, and I don't think that crisis is far off. It would have come long ago, only I do happen to know a provoking deal more about books than any assistant he ever had before. Last week I picked him up a copy of "Bells and Pomegranates" for one and nine, and he sold it next day for two pound sixteen. There's business for you, Daddy. That put off our breach at least a fortnight, but unless I discover a first folio of Shakespeare for sixpence between now and then, I don't see what's to postpone the agony after that—and if I did I should probably speculate in it myself. No, Daddy, it's coming to the point, as the tiger said when he reached the last joint of the cow's tail. And it's your fault.'

'My fault, Davy,' said Lomax, half tremulous, half delighted, drawing a chair close up to the table that he might lose nothing of the youth's confidences. 'What d'ye mean by that, ye spalpeen?'

'Well, wasn't it you took me to the Hall of Science, Daddy, and couldn't keep a quiet tongue in your head about it afterwards? Wasn't it you lent me the "Secularist," which got me into the worst rumpus of the season? Oh, Daddy, you're a bad un!'

And the handsome lad leant back in his chair, stretching his long legs and studying Daddy with twinkling eyes. As for Lomax, he received the onslaught with a curious mixture of expressions, in which a certain malicious pleasure, crossed by an uneasy sense of responsibility, was the most prominent. He sat drumming on the table, his straggling beard falling forward on to his chest, his mouth pursing itself up. At last he threw back his head with energy.

'I'll not excuse myself, Davy; you're well out of it. You'll be a great man yet—always provided you can manage yourself in the matter of flesh meat. It was to come one way or the other—you couldn't put up much longer with such a puke-stocking as my precious brother-in-law. (That's one of the great points of Shakespeare, Davy, my lad—perhaps you haven't noticed it—you get such a ruck of bad names out of him for the asking! Puke-stocking is good—real good. If it wasn't made for a sanctimonious hypocrite of a Baptist like Purcell it ought to have been.) And "Spanish-pouch" too! Oh, I love "Spanish-pouch"! When I've called a man "Spanish-pouch", I'm the better for it, Davy—the bile's relieved.'

'Thank you, Daddy; I'll remember the receipt. I say, were you ever in Purcell's shop?'

'Purcell's shop? Why, of course I was, you varmint! Wasn't it there I met my Isabella, his sister? Ah, the poor thing! He led her a life; and when I was his assistant I took sides with her—that was the beginning of it all. At first we hadn't got on so badly—I had a pious fit on myself in those days—but one day at tea, I had been making free—taking Isabella's part. There had been a neighbour there, and the laugh had been against him. Well, after tea, we marched back to the shop, and says he to me, as black as thunder, "I'm quite willing, Lomax, to be your Christian brother in here: when we're in society I'd have you remember it's different. You should know your place."

'"Oh, should I?" says I. (Isabella had been squeezing my hand under the table and I didn't care what I said.) "Well, you'd better find some one as will, and be d—d to your Christian brotherhood." And I took my cap up and marched out, leaving him struck a pillar of salt with surprise, and that mad!—for we were in the middle of issuing the New Year's catalogue, and he'd left most of it to me. And three weeks after—'

Daddy rose quivering with excitement, put his thumbs into his waistcoat pocket, and bent over the back of his chair towards David. As he stood there, on tip-toe, the flaps of the long coat falling back from him like wings, his skull-cap slightly awry, two red spots on either wrinkled cheek, and every feature of the sharp brown face alive with the joy of his long-past vengeance, he was like some strange perching bird.

'—Three weeks after, Davy, I married my Isabella under his puritanical nose, at the chapel across the way; and the bit of spite in it—bedad!—it was like mustard to beef. (Pish! what am I about!) And I set up shop almost next door to the chapel, and took the trade out of his mouth, and enjoyed myself finely for six months. At the end of that time he gave out that the neighbourhood was too "low" for him, and he moved up town. And though I've been half over the world since, I've never ceased to keep an eye on him. I've had a finger in more pies of his than he thinks for!'

And Daddy drew himself up, pressing his hands against his sides, his long frame swelling out, as it seemed, with sudden passion. David watched him with a look half sympathetic, half satirical.

'I don't see that he did you much harm, Daddy.'

'Harm!' said the little man, irascibly. 'Harm! I must say you're uncommon slow at gripping a situation, Davy. I'd my wife's score to settle, too, I tell you, as well as my own. He'd sat on his poor easy-going sister till she hadn't a feature left. I knew he had. He's made up of all the mean vices—and at the same time, if you were to hear him at a prayer meeting, you'd think that since Enoch went up to heaven the wrong way, the world didn't happen to have been blessed with another saint to match Tom Purcell.' And, stirred by his own eloquence, Daddy looked down frowning on the youth before him.

'What made you give up the book-trade, Daddy?' asked David, with a smile.

It was like the pricking of a bladder. Daddy collapsed in a moment. Sitting down again, he began to arrange his coat elaborately over his knees, as though to gain time.

'David, you're an inquisitive varmint,' he said at last, looking up askance at his companion.' Some one's been telling you tales, by the look of you. Look here—if Tom Purcell's a blathering hypocrite, that is not the same thing precisely as saying that Adrian O'Connor Lomax is a perfect specimen of the domestic virtues. Never you mind, my boy, what made me give up bookselling. I've chucked so many things overboard since, that it's hardly worth inquiring. Try any trade you like and Daddy'll be able to give you some advice in it—that's the only thing that concerns you. Well now, tell me—' and he turned round and put his elbows on the table, leaning over to David—'When are you coming away, and what are your prospects?'

'I told you about a fortnight would see it out, Daddy. And there's a little shop in—But it's no good, Daddy. You can't keep secrets.'

The old man turned purple, drew himself up, and looked fiercely at David from behind his spectacles. But in a second his mood changed and he stretched his hand slowly out across the table.

'On the honour of a Lomax,' he said solemnly.

There was a real dignity about the absurd action which melted David. He shook the hand and repeated him. Leaning over he whispered some information in Daddy's ear, Daddy beamed. And in the midst of the superfluity of nods and winks that followed David called for his bill.

The action recalled Daddy to his own affairs, and he looked on complacently while David paid.

''Pon my word, Davy, I can hardly yet believe in my own genius. Where else, my boy, in this cotton-spinning hole, would you find a dinner like that for sixpence? Am I a benefactor to the species, sir, or am I not?'

'Looks like it, Daddy, by the help of Miss Dora.'

'Aye, aye,' said the old man testily,—'I'll not deny that Dora's useful to the business. But the inspiration, Davy, 's all mine. You want genius, my boy, to make a tomfool of yourself like this,' and he looked himself proudly up and down. 'Twenty customers a week come here for nothing in the world but to see what new rigs Daddy may be up to. The invention—the happy ideas, man, I throw into one day of this place would stock twenty ordinary businesses.'

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