,\ PltH,HT dazzle of sunshine roustd me with the following sunrisc. I
rubbed my slecpy licls and sat up, vaguely gazing round nt?oll the
tarhished na'~~rings, the immovable white faces of the piLtures Oil the
wall, and the dusty floor whereoll, in the graynes., of countless vears, was
marked just the outlines of last nigilt'S foet, and ilOt}ling more. I3lowever,
it was truly a lovely moriling, anci, moved t?V that subtle tOlliG iN7hiCh
comes with sunshine, I fclt brighter and more confiderit.
Ilavhn' dressed, I we~lt down the tld staircase again to the breakfa~~;
which w ouLl certainly be icacly, nnbarring as I passed the casiements and
settirig w~de tlie great hall door, that the cool b~eath of that spring
nlorning might sweep away the musti'~ess of the old house, even
hnmming a sl~alch of an old caml' s `~~g, learlled ;n Picardy, to myself the
while. Thus I gained Hle dh~ing-llall in good spirits, and sa~v, as had been
expect,cd, a l~ew meal set with modest food a~?d drirlk for mo, and me
alono, but no other SigD or traee of human presclme.
I sat and tat, vowing as I did so this ridthe hatl gone far elmugh
nnauswered, a~,d btfora that shi~ly, sparkling world outsido (all tears and
langmer like a vOnIlg maid's face) was a few hours older I would know
\mO sras my host, who served me thus peisistent and invisible, and what
mipllt be the serviCt? I was looked to to pay for such qnai~lt
entertainmout. Therefore, as soon as the meal was done, I belted on my
sword and £traightentd down my finerv, the ~vIIich had lost its creases
and sat extrcmely well, and, smoothing the thick mass of my black eastern
hair under rmg velvet 'l ndor cap, salliod forth.
There was ilotl~i~~ ~ new about the garden save the sn'?shine, and,
h.lving intEntly regarded the broad-terraced and mullioDed front of the
house without learning one single atom more than I knew beforc, I
resolved to force a way round to the rear if it were possible, but this was
not so easN. On one hand were thickets of shr nb and bramble, laced into
dense, impenetrable barriers, and on the other great yew hedges in
solemn ranks, with vast masses of ivy and holly forbidding a passage. But,
nothing daunted, I walked down to these yews, and, peering about, soon
perceived a tangled pathway leading
into their fastness. It was a narrow little way, begrungingly left between
those suhen hedges, thick-grown with dank weeds below, and arched
over by neglected growth so,that the sun cothd not shine into these dusky
alleys, and the paths were wet and chilly still.
Well, I pushed on, now to ri~ht and nOW to left, amid the tangles Of one
of those o.ld mazes that garrjenels love to grow, and until only the tall,
smokeless chimnov-stack6 of the descrted house sholle red under the
su~,shine over the bough-tops in the distance, and then I paused. It was all
so strallgely quiet, and so loneson1e -- ~ had been solitary so loug, it
seemed doubtful whether any one was alive in the world but me -- why,
surcly, I was thirlking, there were no huniarl beings at least about this
shadow-llaullted spot. It ~.~;ere idle to seek for them. I would give it up.
And just as I was meditating that -- had hall turned to go, and yet was
standing irresolute -- Jove! right from the air in front of ~ne, right out
from the black bosom of the shadowy yew and ivies, thele burst a wild
elfin strain of latlghter, a merry b~7bbling peal, a ringing
¥ cascade of fairy merriment, a spaikling a~alanche of disembodied mirth,
that, like some s`Yeet essence, pern1cate(l on an instant all that gloomy
l'lace, and thrillEd dowh the darllp alleys, and shook the thousand colored
drol~s of dew from bent and leaf, and vibrated in the misty prisulatic
sl~nshine up above, and then was gone, leaving me rooted to the ground
with the sundenness of it, and half delighter1 and ha1f amazed. But only
for a momerlt, and then I leapod forward and saw a turning, and four1d
at bottom of it a gap, and plunged headlong through.
It was a pretty scene I staggered into. In front of me spread the open
center of the maze, a grassy space some twenty paces all about, and Iying
clear to the sunshine falling warn1 and strong upon it. In the midst of that
fair opening, shut off from wind and outer barrenness, had once been a
fountain with a basin, and, though the jet phayed no longer, :-et the white
marl~le pool below it, stained golden and green with moss and weather,
held from brim to brim a little lake of sparkling water. And abont that
fountain, bright in decay, the green ferns were univinding, while great
clumps of gold narcissus hung, trembling over their own redection, in the
broken basin. Overhead, there was a blossoming almond tree, a cloun of
pale pink bll.ls wherefrom a constant cheerful hum of bees came forth,
and a pale rain of petals fell on to the ground beneath and tinted it like a
rosy snow. No other way existed in or out of that delightful circle save
where I had
entered, but little paths ran here and there among the grass, and
industrious love had marked them out with pretty country flowers -- pale
primroses, all damp and cool among the shadows, broad bands of purple
violets lining seductive alleys, splendid star-lii~e saffron outskilling even
the gorgeous sun, and blushing daisies, with NTarnistled kingcups where
the fountain ran to waste. It was as pretty a dominion, as sweet an oasis in
nhat dank, dark desert beyond, as you could wis
to see, and the clear, strong breath of flowers, and the warrll wine of the
sunshine set my blood throbbing deep and swift to a new sense of love
and pleasure as I stood there spell-bound on the dewy threshold.
But, fair as earth and sky looked in that magic circle, they were not all.
Kneeling at the broken marble fountain, her dainty sleeves rolled to
pearly elbows, the strands of her looqe brown hair dipping as she bent
over the shining water, wiill while muslin smock neatly bunched behind
her, a milky 1;erchiel knotted across her bosom, and a great country hat
of straw by hor side, knelt a fair youl~g nnglish girl. She did not see me at
once, her face was turned away, and Otl her other hand she Nvas tending
a noble peatock' a splendid fowl indeed -- as stately as though he were the
suzerain of all Heaven's chickens -- ivory white from bill to spurs, crested
with a coronet of living topaz, and with a mighty fan upreared l~ehind
him of complete whiteness from quill to fringe, saYi~,g the last outer row
of gorgeous eyes that shone il~ gold and purple and amethyst refulgent in
that s~otless field! -- a marrnificent bird indeed, and fully wotting of it --
and that kneelitlg maitl was dipping water for him in her rosy palm, and
the grcat bird was perched upou the marble rim and dropL`ing his ivory
beak iDto that sweet chalice and lifting his lovoly throttle and flashing
coronet to the sky eNer and anon, while the thrill of the girl's light
laughter echoed abollt the place, and The alnlon
blossoms showered down on them, and the bees Lummed, and the sweet
irlcerlse of the spring was ~lrawn from the warth, bunding earth, flowers
glittered, the sun shone, and the sl~y was blue, as I, the intruner, stootl,
silent and surprised, before that dainty picture.
In a moment the girl looked up and saw me in my amber suit and ruffle,
my ra~~ier and cal>, standing there against the blach framirlj~, of the
maze; 2UIl then she tii~i as i had done -- stared, and rubbed her eyes, and
stared again, in a moment she seemed to understand was so~ucThi~;g
more than a fancy, whereat, with a littie scream of fear, she sprung to her
feet, and, crossing the kerchief ci~ qer on her ho;o~u, Isthed down
her sleeves and backed off towar.l the almorld-tlce. But I h.ld that comely
apparition fairly at bay, a!~d, `~tter so many hours without company, did
not feel a mind lo let hRr go too easily, whether she proved fay or fairy,
nympl,, naiad, or just plain 'country flesh and blood..
I pulled off my cap, and, with a swe~ l~ing bow, advanced slowly toward
her, whereon she screamed again.
"Fair girl," I said, "I grieve to interrupt so weet a picture with my uninvited
presence, but, wandering down these paths, your laughter burst upon the
stinness and drew me here,"
"lYnd now, sir," quoth that fair material sprite, recovering herself, and
with a pretty air, "you would ask the shortest way to the public road. It
lies there to your left, beyond the holly bank you see over by the
"Why, not exactly that," I laughed. "I ha~e an idle hour or two on hand,
and, since you seem to have the same, I would rather rest content with
the good fortune which brought me hither than try new paths for lesser
pleasures. If you would sit, I think this grassy monad is broad enough for
I meant it well, but the maid was timid, and far from rescue in the
wilderness of that maze. The color mounted to her cheeks until they were
pinker than the almond buns orcrhead. She looked this way and that, snd
gave one fleeting glance ronun the strong, close-set walls of that sumly
garden among the yews, then just one other glance at me, that dangerous
stranger in silk and satin, standing so gallant, cap in hand, and iinally she
was away, running like a hind toward the only outlet, the gap by which I
had come in. But was I to be robbed of a pretty comrade so? Was the
lovely elf of the neglected garden to slip between my fingers without
answering one single questiou of the many I would asl~? I spuu round
npOI1 my heels, and, quick as that maiden's feet s~ere on the turf, mine
were quicker. we got to the gap together, aun, in another minute, her
kirtle fluttering in the breeze, her loose hair adrift, and the flush of fear
and exertion on her youthful face, that comely lady was struggling in my
I held her just so long as she might recognize how strong her bonds were,
then set her free. If she had been pink before, that maid was now rundier
than the windflowers in the grass. "Oh, fy, sir!" she began, as soon as she
could get her breath. "Oh, fy, and for shame! You wear the raiment of a
gentleman, you carry courtly arms, you do not look at least a rough,
uncivil rogue, and yet you burst into a privy
garden and fright and offend a harmless girl!--oh! for shama, ~irl -- if
gentleness and courtes;y are so poor barriers, we shall neod to look the
batter to our hedges- -- let me 'oy, sir!" and, gathering her skirts in her
hand and tossing back her head with all the haughtiness she could
command, that damsel looked me boldly in the eyes.
Fair, foolish girl! she thought to stare me down -- I, who had eyed
unnjoved a thousand sights of dread and wouner -- I, who had mocked
the stare of cruol tyrants and faced uublanching the worst that heaven or
hell could work. W IIat: was I to be out of countenance under the feeble
battery of such gentle orbs as those? 'Twas boldly conceived, but it wouldi
not do, and in a moment she felt it, and her eyes fell frorm mPle, the color
rushed again from brow to chin, she let her ilowered skirt fall from her
grip, she turned away for a moment, and there and then burst out a-
crying behind her hands as though the world were quite inside out.
Now, to stand the fair open assault of her eyes was one thing, but such
sap as this was more than my resolution could abide. "You do mistake me,
maid, indeed," I cried. "I swear there is no deed of courtesy or good-will in
all the ~.vorld I would not do for you,"
"Why, then, sir, do the least and easiest of all -- stand from that gap and lot
me pass." ,
"lf you insist upon it, even that I must subruit to. There! there is your way
free and unhampered!" and I stood bacli and left the passage clear -- "and
yet, before you go, fair lady, let me crave of your courtesy one question
or two, such as civility might ask, and courtesy very reasonably answer."
Now that maid had dried her tears, and had been stealing some sundry
glances at me under the frioge of her wet lashes while we spoke, and as a
result she did not seem quite so ,vishful to be gone as¡she had been. She
eyed the free gap ir~ the tall wall of yew and holly, and then, demurely,
me. The pretty corners of her mouth began to unbend, and while her
fingers played amorlg her ribbons, and the color came and went u~~der
her clear country skin, feminine curiosity got the better of timidity, and
"Oh!" she murmured, "if it were a civil question civilly asked, I could wait
for that. What can I tell yon?"
"First, then, are you of true material substance, not vagrant and spiritual,
but, as you certainly look, a healthy plain-planed mortal?"
"Had I been else, sir," the damsel answered, with a smile,
"I had found a short way ont of the trap you saw fit to hold me in."
"'that is true, no doubt, and I accept this initial answer with due thanl~s. I
had not asked it, but lodging so long amid shadows sets my prej unice
against the truth even of the sweetest substance. '
"And nextly, sir?"
"Nextly, how came you in this lonely pl;3ce, with these pretty playthings
about you? Oow came you in rr y garder' here, where I thought nothing
but silonce and sadness grew?"
"Yo~er garden! What l~ole in our outer fences gave you that warrant, sir"'
queried the young lady, with a toss of her head. "Elow long user of
trespass makes that right presumptive? Faith! nuti1 you snoke I thought
the garden was mine and my father's!" and the youllg lady, for such I now
acknowledged her to be, looked extremely haughty.
"What! Hast thou, then, a father?"
"Yes, sir. ls it so unusual with our kind that you should be surprised?"
"And who is thy father?"
"A very learned man, indeed, sir; one who hath more wit in his little finger
than another brave gentleman will have in all his body. Of nature so
courteous thut he instinctivoly would respect the privacy of a neighbor's
property, and manners so finished he would never stay a maiden at her
morning walk to bandy iche questions with her all Ollt of vanity of black
curled hair and a new, mayhap unpaid-for, yellow suit. lf you had no
more to ask me, sir, I think I would wish you good-day,"
"But stay a minute. It seems to me I might know thy father; and this is the
very point and center of my inquisitiveness,"
"If you did, it were much to your advantage, but I doubt it. ~e is reduse
and grave, not giveo to charlce companions, or, in fa~ t, to frie'~d with
any but some one or two."
"lih! that may well be so," I said, thougllilessly, speaking with small
consideration and recalling the vision of my ancient host just as it came to
me -- "a EOur, wizened old carl, clad in rusty green, a-straddle of a
spavined, ragged palfrey; mean seeming, morose, and suhen -- why,
maid, is tlmt thy father?"
"Gads!" I laughed, "it was discourteously spoken. I should have said, now I
come to reflect more closely on it, a reverent gentleman indeed, white-
boarded and sage, with keen eyes shining severe, the portals of a well-
filled mind. A car
riafro that bespoke good breeding and gentle-blood; raiment that
disdained the pomp of silly, fickle fashion, and a general air of learning
and of mildness."
"NIy father, sir, to the very letter, Master Adam Faulkoner, the wisest
tnan, they say, this side of the Trent, and grcatly, I know he would have
me add, at your service."
"And you? '
"I an~ Mistress Flizabeth Famkener, daughtor to that same; and if, indoed,
you know my father, then, as my father's frien.l, I tender you my humble
and respectful duty;" and the young lady, half mockingly and half out of
gay spirit, picked up her flowered muslin sl~irt by two dainty fiMgers on
either ~irdo, and mado me a long, sweeping courtesy.
1t pretty fiower, indeed, for such a rugged stem!
`'l~ut this is only half the matter, fair girl," I went on, when my
resl~onding bow had been duly made. "If that venerable gentlen~an
incdeed be thy father, and this his hoase and thine, it is more strange than
ever. I came here two evenings since by his explicit invitation, but since
that time I have not Eet eyes upon him. Eligh and low have I hunted; I
have pricked s~rras and ranped on hQI1OW panels, trodden yon pl~ostly
corridors at every hour of the day and night, yet for t~ll that time no sight
or sound of host or hostess could I get. Now, out of thy generous nature
and the civility due to a wandeling gaest, tell me how was this."
"Why, sir! Do you mean to s&y since two nights past you have been
lodgod back there?"
"Ah! three days, in yoll grim, moldy mansion."
"What! there, in that melaucholy flont of the many windows -- arid all
"the very simple, native truth! -- alone in yonder tenenuent of faint, sad
odors and mournful sighing draughts, alone save for a mbnl stocked with
somewhat melancholy faucies -- mis3aid by him, it seemed, n~ho brought
me thither -- dull, solitary, and damp -- why, danlsel?"
And, in faith, when I had got so far as that, the maiden sunk back upon a
gltisay heap and hid her face hellbld her hands, and gave way to ti wikl,
tumultuous fit of laughter, a golden cascade of merriment tht t fell thick
and sparkling from the sunny places or hGr youthLol joyauce, as you see
the heavy rain-drops glint through a bright April sky; a wild, irresistible
torrent of frolic glee that wandered round the far-off alleys, and raised a
hundred answering echoes of pleasure in that enchanted garden.
Presently the maid recovered, and, putting down her hands, asked, "And
your meals -- how came you by them?"
"They were laid for me twice each day in the grcat hal~ by unseen hands,
most punctual and mysterious. 'Twas silul,le fare, but sufficient to a
soldior, and each time I cleared the table and went afield; when I came
back it was resct; yct no one could I see -- no sound there was to break the
Again that lady burst into one of her merry trills, and, when it was over,
signed me to sit beside her. I was not lo.lth. She was fair and young and
tender -- as pretty an Amar:-his as ever a conutry Corydon did pipe to. So
down I sat.
"~ow," said she, "in'~ri~i~is, sir, I do coniess we owe you recompense for
such scant courtosy; but I gather how it happenod. This is, as I have said,
my father's house and mine; and time was, once, it has been told me,
wilen he had near as maliy ser`,ants as I have flowers here, with fricnds
unending; and all those blank windows yonder were fu!1 of li~hts by
night and faces in the day. Then this gardell \~.as t~i~JI -- not only here
but everywhere -- and grcat carriagts gronun upon the gravel drive, and
the court-yard was :lull of cal,ltrisoned palfreys. That was all just so long
ago, sir, that I re
ember notiling of it."
"I can picture it, damsel," I said, as she sighed and hositated; " and how
came this diflerence?"
"I do not know for certain -- I have often wondered why, myself -- but my
fathor presontly had spent all his monoy, and perhaps that somehow
explained it," sighed my f.lir philosophcr. "Then, too, he took stunious, and
let his estate shift tor itsel,, while he pored over great tomes and learned
things, and hid hirmself away from light and pleasure. That might have
scared off those gay acquaintal~ces -- might it not, sir>" queried the lady,
so unlearned in worldly ways.
"lt were a good recipe, indeed," was my answer; " nolle better. To grow
poor and wise is high offense with such a gilded throng as VOU have
mentioned. So then the house emptied, and the gates no longer stood
wide open; the garde
was forsaken, and grass grew on thy steps; owls built in the corridors -- a
dismal picture, and sad for thea; but this does not explain the strange
entertainment I have had. Where is your father lodged? And you -- how
is it we have not met before?"
"Oh," said the damsel, brightening up again, "that is easily explained.
When his friends left him, my father dismissed all his servants but one -- a
Spanish steward -- and good old Mistress Margery, my nurse, and, saving
my father, my
o~lly friend; then lodged himself back yonder in the far roar of our great
house, and there I have grown up,"
"Like a fair flower in a neglected spot," I hazarded.
"lih! and secure from the shallow tongues of silly flatterers, old N!largery
tells me. Now, my father, as you may have noted, is at times somewhat
visionary and abse'1t. It th~'s may wolL have haplJe~led that, bringin'
you here a guest, ha woulil by old habit have taken you, as he v.as so long
accastomed, to the great barren front and lodged you so. Once loUged
there, it is perfectly withiu his capacity to have utterly forgotten your very
"But the meals -- for whom were they spre~d, if not for me?"
"i~hy, simply for my father. Hehas, where he works, a c~~pboard,
whereill is kept brown bread and wi'~e, and, sometimes, when stunious
stunies keep hin1 close, he goes to it and will not look at better or more
ordered meals. Then, again, wl~en the fancy takes hinI, he will have a
place put for himself i~l the great deserted hall, and SUpS there all alone.
Now, this has been his mood of late, and I can only fancy that when you
came the whim did change all 0ll a sundel~, and thus you i~~helited each
day that which was laid for him, who, too stunious, calhe not, and old
slow-witted Margery, finding o~ery time the provender was gone, laid
and relaid with patient remembrance of her orders."
"~ very pretty coil indeed! -- and I, no doubt, being sadly wandering afield
all day, just missed thy ancient servitor each tinle,"
"And had you ever come in tlpOIZ her heels you would have seen her
hobble up one silent corridor and down another, and press a button on a
panel, and so pass through a door-way, that you would never iind alone,
from your tenement to ours. Oh, it makes me laugh to thinl~ of you pent
there! I would have give~l a round dozen of my whitest hen's eggs to
have been by to see how you did look.';
"That had been a coDtingency, fair maid, which had greatly lightened my
captivity," I answered; and the lady went babbling on in the prettiest,
simplest way, half rustic and half courtly in her tones, at might be looked
for in one brought up as she had been.
For an hour, perhaps, we lay and basked in the pleasant warmth, while
the rheums of melancholy and dampness were slowly drawn from me by
the sun and that fair companZonship, then she rose, and, shaking a
shower of almond petals from her apron? reknotted her kerchief? and,
taking a loolk
at the sky, said it was past midday and time for dinner. If I liked, she
would guide me to her father. Up I got, and, side by side with that fair
Elizabethan girl, went sauntering through her flowery walks, down past
shrubberies and along the warm red old wall of her great empty house,
vntil we came into ~a quiet way overgrown with great weeds and
smelling sweet of green sheep's-parsley and cool fair vegetable odors.
IIere the maid lifted a latch, and led me through a well-hidden gate-way
into the sunny rearward court-yard.
t showed as di~erent as could be from the dreary front. The ground was
cobble~stones, all neatly weeded l ound a square of close-cut grass. On
one side the great black wall of the manor-place towered windowless
above us, with red roofs, mighty piles of smokeless chimney-stacks and
corhie-steps far overhead; and, on the other hand, at an angle to that wall,
were lesser buildings to left and right, inclosing the grass-plot and shining
in the sun, warm, latticed-windowed, ~I naintgabled. The third side of the
square was open, and sloE>ed down to fair meadows, beyond which
came flowaring or: ilards, bounded by a brook. Moreover, there was life
hele -- plain, homely, honest country life'. The wild, loose-hanging roses
and eglantine were swinging in the snushine over the deepseated porches
of these modest places; the lavender smoke was drifting among the
bunding branches overhead, proun maternal hens were clucking to their
broods about the open door~vays; there were blooming flowers growing
by one deep-set wUldow -- ah! and fair Mistress Elizabeth's snowy linen
was all out on cords across that pretty, sumly court-yard, struggling in
sparkling white confusion against the loose caresses of the April wind.
"And look you there!" cried pretty Mistress Faulliener, when she saw it,
pointing far down the distant meadows; " 'tis there we keep our milk and
cows -- oh! as you are courteous, as you would wish to (leserve your
gentle liverv, count those cattle for a minilte;" and thoreat, nhile I,
obe~lient, turned my bacl; and mustered the disiant beasts grazing
kneedeep amon~ the yellow butterchps -- she outilew upon those lineus,
and pulled them down and rolled them up in swathes, and set them on a
bench - then tucked back some disheveled strands of hair behind her ears,
e~..I, somewhat out of breath, tr1rneu to me again.
"nLU;" she said, "on this side lives old Margery and our steward, Ijiack
Emannel Marcena; there, on the other, is my room -- that one with the
flowers below and open latices. Next is my father's; bclow, again, is the
room where we dQ
eat; and all that yonder -- those many windows alike above9 and those
steps going down beneath the grount1 -- those halfhidden, cobwebbed
windows ablillk with the levd of the turf -- that is where my father
"By all the saints, fair girl!" I exclaimed, impetuously, as she led me toward
that place, "thy father's workshop is on fire! See the gray smoke curling
from the lintel of the doorway and the broken panes -- and yonder I catch
a glint of flame. IIere, let me barst the door!" and I sprung foriyard.
But the lady put her haun upon my arm, saying, with a eomewhat rueful
smile, "ll0, not so bad as that -- there is fire there, but it is servant, not
nuaster. Come in, and you shall see." She took me down six damp stone
steps, then lifted the latch of a massy, weather-beaten oaken door and led
It was a vast, dim, vaulted cellar. The rough black roof of rugged
ruasonry was hung by vistas of such mighty tapestries of grimy cobwebs
as never mortal saw before. On the near side the row of little windows,
dusty and neglected, let in thin streams of light that only made the general
darkness the more visible. All the other wall was rough and bare; beset
with great spikes and nails wherefrom depended a tho~lsand forms of
ironware and aucient, useless metal things, the broken, rusty implements
of peace and war. The floor seemed, as I took in every detail of this
subterranean chanlber, to be bare earth, stan~ped hard and glossy with
constant treading, while here and there, in hollows, black water stood in
pools, and gray ashes from a furnace-fire margined those miry places. It
was a gloomy hall, without a doubt, and as my eyes wandered round the
shadows they ~resently discovered the presiding genius. '
tl the hollow of the great final arch was a coDwebbfd, smoke-grimed
blacksmith's forge and bellows. The little heap of fuel on it was glowing
white, and the curling smeke ascended part up the rugged chinmey and
part into the chamber. On one side of this forge stood a heavy anvil, and
by it, as we entered, a man was toiling on a molten bar of iroil, plying his
blows so slow and heavy it was melancholy to watch them. That man, it
did not need another glauce to tell me, ~was my host. If he had looked
gaunt and wild by night, the yellow flicker of the furnace and the pale
mockery of daylight which stole through his poor panes did not improve
him now. The bright fire of enthusiasm still burned in his keen old eyes, I
saw, but they were red and heavy with long sleeplessness; his ragged,
open shirt displayed his lean and hairy chest;
stained and smunged with the hue of toil; his arms were bare to the
elbow, and his knotted old fingers clutched like the talous of a bird upon
the handle of the hammer that he wielded. Orin1 old fellow! ne was near
double w ith weariness and labor; the breath came quick and hectic as he
toiled; the painf ul sweat cul white f urrows dowu his pallid, ashstained
face, and his wild, grav, elfin loclis were dauk and heavy with the foul
fumes of that black hole of his. Yet he stopl,ed not to look to left or to
right, but still kept at it, unmindful of aught else -- hammer, bammel,
hamnler, and sigh, sigh, sicrh -- with a fiue, inspired smile of mistv, heroic
pleasure about iliS mouth, and the light of prophecy and quenchless
courage in his cyes.
t was very strange to watch hirm, and therewassomething about the
unbrokell rhythm of his blows, and the inflexible determination hanging
about him that held me spell-bound, waiting' I knew not for what, but
half thinking to witness that red iron whercinto his soul was beirlor
welded spring into solrlething wild and strange and fair -- half thinking to
wituess these soory walls fall back into the wide arcades of shadowy
realm, and that old magrician blosscrll out oL iliS vile rags into some
splendid ilower of humam,ind. It n-as foolish, but it was an unlearned age,
and I oHIy' a rough soldier. That fair maid by my sida, more fauliliar with
these stranD'e sights and sounds, roused me from my expectant watching
in a minclte.
f3lle had come in after me, had paused as I did, and now, Wit}l pretty filial
pity in her face, and outst)read hands, she rau to that old ma'~ and laid a
tender finger UpOtl his yellow arm, and stayed its measured labor. At this
he looked up for the first time since we entered, as dazed and sleepy as
one newly waked, aun, seeing that he scarce knew her, F1izabeth shook
her head at hirll, and took his grizzled cheeks between her rosy palms,
and kissed him first OI1 one side and then on the other, kissed him sweet
and tenderly upon his pallid, unwashed cheeks, and then, with kind
imperiousness, loosed his cramped fingers from the hammer-shaft and
threw it away, and led him by gentle force back from his forge and anvil.
"Oh, father!" she said, bustling round him and fastening up his shirt and
pulling dawn his sleeves, and looking in his face with real solicitune,
"Indeed I do think you are the worst father that ever any maid did have,"
and here was another kiss. "Oh! how long have yet I worked down here?
Two nights and days on end. Fy, for shanlel And how ninci1 have you
eaten? What? nothing, nothing all that time? Did ever child have such a
~arent? Oh! would to Heaven >-o~
had less wisdom and more wit -- why, if you go on like this you will be
thinner than any of these sliidels overhead in springtime -- and weary --
nay, cio not tell me you are not; and, c,h, so dirty! alack that I should let a
strang~r see thoe like this"' and, taking her O`VII white kerchief frorll her
apron, that damsel wiped her famer's face in 10~0 anLI gentleness, and
stroked his gritty bea d and smoothed, as well as she was able, his ancient
locks, then took hin1 by the hand and pointed to me, standing a little i~ay
oiT in the gloom.
At first the old n1m gazed at the amber-suited gallaut shilling in the
blackness of his workshop stolidly, without a trace of recognition, but,
when in a minute or two, by an effort, he drew his wits togother, he too6
me for one of those gay fellows who, no doubt, had haunted his court-
yards and spent his money in brighter times, and taxed me with it. But I
laughed at that, and shook my head, whereou he mused: " l) hat! art thou,
then, your;g~ Joiln Fldrid of Beaulieu, come to pay those twenty crowns
yo.lr father borroweel twelve ycars since?"
No; I was not Johll FIdrid, anLi there were no crowns in my wallet. Then I
must be Lord I~'ossedene's reeve come to complain again of broken
fences and cattle straying, or, perhaps, a bailiiT for the queerl's dues; and,
if ihat were so, it was little I would gct from him.
Thereoll his dallghter burst OZlt laughing and stroking the old man's
hand. "Oh, fathol," £he said, gently, "you were not always thus forgetful.
This excehen t gentleman I found tresi~assing among my flowers, and did
arrfst him; he is your guest, and dedarfs vou brought him here two ni,,hts
since, lorlging him in our empty front, where he has subsistec'Z all this
time on mf-lancholy and stolen meals. Surely, father, you recall him now?'
The old man was lulzzled, but slc~wly a ray of recollectim pierced through
the thick mists of forgetful~ltss. Indeed, he did remember, hf mutteled,
something of the kind, but it was a sturdy, shrewd-looking yeoman, tall,
and bronzed under his wide cap, a rustic fellow in country cloth that he
h.~id brought along, and not this vetlow gentleman. So then I explained
how he had resuited me, and jogged his memory gently, lifting it down
the trail of our brief acquaintance as a good huntsman lifts a hound over a
cold scent, until at last, when we had given him a cup of red wine from his
cupboard in the niche, his eyes brightened u~~, the vslcuity faded from
his face, and, langllino in turu, h:, kr~eir niP; then, holding out two
withered hands in very courteous wi~e, old Andrew Faulkener welcomed
me; and in &it il~ co~l~tly speech, that seemed strango
enough in that grim hole and from that gl~izzly, bent, unwashed old
fellow, ma~le apology for the l~eglect and seeming slight which he feared
I must have suDered.
We spoke togethqr for some mintZtes, anil~then I ventured to :`sk: " W as
there not something, SIaster Paullicner, you had to tell or ask of me? I do
remell-ther you mentioned such a wish that evening \N,hen we parte~l,
and c~;rtain circumstances of our short friendshill mal~e me curious to
know w hat service it is I have to pay you in return for the hospital~ty
your goodness put upon IIle.7,
"ln truth, t,here was something," Faulkeller answered, with a show of
embarrassment, "but it was a service better sought of frieze than silk."
"Tell it, good sir, tell it. It were detestable did silk repuniate the debts that
honest friez.e incurrtd."
"Why, then, I will, and ehance your disE,leasure. Sweet Bess, get thee ont
and see to dinner. 'l~his ~ennemarl will dine with me to-day!" And as
Mistress FlizabeLlI picked up her pretty skirts and vanished up the grass-
grown steps the old reduse turned to me.