When the carriages stopped at the park entrance, the steward appeared to pay his respects, and suggest that immediate orders should be sent to one or other of the inns, to provide that accommodation which it was impossible the house should afford. He must venture also to say that the young lady would not find the place fit for her to enter.
It would really be better that she should not proceed this afternoon. Cranston had been,—not stretched out at length, for no carriage could thus accommodate his length of limb,—but leaning back, reading, till the last moment. He seemed sorry to be roused, even by his arrival at his own estate, and to be greeted by his own steward.
Day and Maynard till to-morrow. She had been asking, for a week past, what measures had been taken for this end; and could learn nothing that satisfied her that Fanny could go anywhere to-night but to the inn. Fanny, meanwhile, had given orders to drive on; and before Mrs. Day had done speaking, the carriage was rolling on the gravel within the gates. If Richard had put away his book, and sat upright in preparation for what was approaching, it was not to be expected that she should turn back, she declared.
The phaeton which her brother James was driving had passed the carriage during the consultation with the steward; and Wallace, the youngest of the three brothers, might now be Edition: James flourished his whip, and quickened the pace of his steeds. Their mirth communicated itself to Fanny, and she sprang forward with an exclamation of joy when the next turn of the road disclosed a splendid view, bathed in the sunshine of a bright autumnal afternoon. Day had never been more out of love with these wild young people, as she sometimes called them, than at the present moment.
She did not expect that they should remember the place, or her whose death had occasioned their quitting it; but she really thought that they might show themselves more sensible of what had happened there. Some thought of their parents might be suggested by the scene, which should sober their spirits a little. But she never saw anything like the spirits of these young people. So far from their father having subdued them, it seemed as if he had left them his wildness without his fits of melancholy. Perhaps it was hardly fair to expect that the children of such a parent should be like other people.
The steward, on his grey pony, had trotted past the carriage; and he was now collecting the workmen and their tools in preparation for Mr. Day could not bear it. Every blow went to her heart. There was a strange mingling of sounds. The rooks were disturbed, and rose from the high trees in a cloud, to add their hoarse music to the din.
Daws came fluttering out of the nest of chimneys which was visible above the wall, and pigeons appeared upon the roof, rustling and flapping their wings in prodigious perturbation. Day decided in her own mind that Mr. Cranston, who was never wanting in proper feeling, ought to check such unseasonable mirth. She presently saw that Mr. Cranston was not at hand to interpose such a check. While she had wandered round one way, Fanny and her eldest brother had taken the other, and they might now be seen,—Richard standing in his usual lazy attitude, and Fanny exploring the beds where all the flowers of the garden seemed to have grown into a tangled thicket.
Day found her pronouncing that such a beautiful spot for a garden was never so wasted before, and that this unaccountable wall round the house must be immediately thrown down, that the coppice, the stream, and the opposite rocks might be seen. Richard listened with an air of resignation, and hoped that James would Edition: Richard would heartily thank anybody who would take the trouble off his hands. A shout, and then a screech, with a final clang, now told that the gates would open and shut, and that Richard was wanted. His brothers were in the yard when he joined them, both breast-high in thistles.
They would not hear of their sister being kept back by this cause. They carried her through,—or rather over, this wilderness of weeds, and placed her on the steps of the door. They offered to perform the same service for Mrs. Day, but she once more turned away, almost without answering.
Fanny thought this the most curious-looking old house she had ever seen, and, in spite of the desolation of its present aspect, she could not help enjoying the romantic prospect which began to open upon her of the kind of life she might lead here. These lattice windows,—so many and so small,—were made to Edition: That carved wooden seat beside the door should be restored for the sake of the wandering merchant who might wish to open his pack before the eyes of the lady of the house.
Those broad eaves were made for the swallows to build under. Never were such cobwebs seen; and it was difficult to imagine what the spiders could be that wove them. They hung like flimsy curtains from the ceiling to the floor, and, as the newly-admitted air waved them in the yellow sunshine which burst in at the door the windows being wholly obscured by dust they exhibited a texture of such beauty as it indeed required some resolution to destroy.
Wallace would not, however, submit to a long detention. Parting at the stroke of his switch, the delicate fabrics fell, forming a dusty tapestry for the walls. Where the deuce did the seed and the soil come from? As one and another entered the room, new wonders became apparent. Fanny was surprised to see the shelves full of books. She looked close to see what they were, and was startled by meeting a pair of bright eyes where a space was left between the volumes. James decreed that this room should be appropriated to Fanny, and that she should never more be known by any other name than Minerva.
Seated here, with her owl and her books, she could never say a foolish thing again. The young lady was not long in doing something which, in most young ladies, would be called foolish. She kneeled on the stained carpet to draw out a volume or two of the row of mouldy folios next the floor. She was fortunate in finding another curiosity. Leave those globes alone, and come here. Here is a skeleton of something. What is it, Wallace? It looks like a rabbit; but there can be no rabbits in this place.
That is right; take away the next volume, and the next. But what animal can it be? Here is the skeleton of a rat a little way before it. Plainly a rat, you see, which could get no farther between the books and the wall: Oh, it had forced its way in too far; and the more it crouched, the broader its back would be. How it must have longed to get at the rat! If the rat had had any generosity, it would have gone back and given itself up. It was not jammed, but only barred in behind and before; and when it was certain not to escape, it might as well have been eaten as starved.
How she must have wondered what had become of me! How piteously she must have cried for me, while she was starving to death here! One touch of mine to those books would have given her her prey and her liberty. Bring her out, Wallace, and the rat too; I shall have them taken care off. The steward touched his hat at this remark, and was uncovered from that moment. The apartments in which no windows were broken were in better condition, though it was at first difficult to breathe in them, and the green stains on the wall forbade Fanny to hope to be immediately established there.
Three westerly rooms,—one of which was the drawing-room,—were in better condition than any others, and it was decided that upon these should the science and art of the tradespeople of A— be first employed. She was at the moment looking abroad upon the park at her feet, and the mountainous range behind, and feared nothing so much as this being pronounced an unfit residence for her, and her return to London insisted upon. Have you any idea of living in it, now you see what it is? Leave it to us. Wallace would enjoy nothing so much as such an excuse for making the most of a fine sporting season; and James had no objection to go backwards and forwards between Fellbrow and his new living,—taking what sport he could get at the one place, and perhaps amusing himself with building a house at the other.
Among other things that the new road has brought us, sir, is a number of better workmen than we had before. Some of the old folks, who cannot give up their custom of doing their work as slow as they please, and charging what they like, are apt to stand grumbling at their doors, with their hands in their pockets.
But what you have to do with, sir, is the new-comers, in the new part of the town, who will be glad of the opportunity of keeping a-head in the competition, and doing your work out of hand. They have made, and are making, provision enough for themselves out of your property already. What could this mean? The gentlemen must ask Morse. Then it was meant that the tradesmen and work-people of A— were poachers. The steward supposed time would show what sort of men the gangs were composed of. This much he knew; that the people he alluded to spoke of the falling off of their business for the sake of new-comers, and of the weight of their taxation, as if they thought it justified their laying hands on a property which they did not consider as a property; which was the case with game all over the world.
Wallace threatened to rectify the notions of the people of A— as to property very speedily, if they ventured to interfere with the present or future sport of himself and his brothers. James, meanwhile, was hoping that the poachers had not, at any time, found the way to the cellars. If the carpets were left on the floors to rot, and the books on the shelves to grow mouldy, it would be very hard that there should be no wine in the cellars to ripen.
He proposed that a descent should be effected for purposes of search, and that a supply of any which might be found should be sent to the inn, as it was scarcely likely that wine of a good quality could be met with there. Day had more thoughts about the levity of young people when she saw how the family issued from the old mansion, after their first Edition: The clergyman seemed to be taking equal care about the conveyance of his sister and some crusted port; and Wallace was vociferating for glasses, as he was bent on trying the ale upon the spot. The steward was nearly as grave as herself; but for him there was the comfort of having employment, and the countenance and encouragement of a master once more.
He was relieved from the misery of seeing the property going to ruin; and, after all, as he comforted himself with saying, let these young men be as wild as they will, they can never be so eccentric as their poor father,—at least, not if they had the least touch of their mother in them. Whatever the steward might have to say in favour of the new workmen of A— over the old, he did not wish the preference to apply in the case of a choice of innkeepers.
As might be supposed, so rare a party of inmates was indulged with all the luxury that Pritchard could afford. Every time she moved, the entire household seemed to start to anticipate her wishes. She was made so comfortable at the inn, and she so thoroughly enjoyed the beauties of the park and neighbourhood of Fellbrow, that there was little fear that she would desire to go to the lakes, or anywhere else, while awaiting her reception in what she wished to be her future home.
The only circumstance that annoyed her was the notice she excited in the town, or at least in the neighbourhood of the inn. Pritchard shook his head over this, as over a grievance which could only be lamented, when any one could have told that his bragging, and his complacency, and his confidences had given the Cranstons half the consequence which caused them to be watched through shop-windows, way-laid by loungers, and talked over by gossips.
A large portion of the remaining half might be ascribed to the extraordinary accession of goods, chattels, and followers which they brought into the place. The half-deserted street in which Mrs. Barton, the perfumer, lived had not afforded such a sight for many a day as might now be witnessed morning Edition: Barton to her shopwoman.
Quite one of the old school, I will answer for it;—the school for manners, as I say. Miss Biggs smiled sweetly as Maynard came up the street, and pronounced the phenomenon charming. She had not a very distinct idea of what the old school was; for while Mrs. Barton was always praising it, and might therefore be supposed a pupil, she was, in dress, of the very newest school she could get any tidings of, and, in manners, of no school but her own.
She had one scholar in Miss Biggs, who had, by this time, learned to hang her head as far to the left as her mistress to the right. She had not Mrs. I am always for Edition: Barton was already sailing round the counter, and she reached the door in time to prepare a deep curtsey for Maynard. The old man looked behind him, to make sure that the obeisance was meant for him, and then took off his hat, and offered a bow of the last century. Barton did not leave him long uncertain whether he was to pass on or stay. All were ready to agree in this; but Maynard protested that it was not a town to be despised.
And independent of this, he saw much to admire in A—. The church-tower was a great ornament; and the market-place was remarkable for a town of the size. He was sorry to see so many shops shut up in this quarter; and that red-brick meeting-house—. Our dissenters,—I am ashamed to say it, Edition: You cannot think what a weight it is upon our minds,—upon loyal minds, sir, that espouse Church and King. I am sure you must be loyal. Maynard flattered himself that he was so; and he had been put to a pretty strong trial on that head,—so much as he had been in France.
Barton shuddered, and Miss Biggs followed her example. They begged pardon,—they did not mean to hurt his feelings,—but, if they set foot in that place, they should expect a judgment to overtake them before they could get back again. Perhaps so; unless they went in the way of duty, the old gentleman said: He had had an idea, before he went, that he should find everybody wearing powder; but, if it used to be so, it was not so now. Barton had once found herself in a precisely similar mistake, which Miss Biggs allowed to be very remarkable. When our gentry began to return after the war, there was really very little more hair-powder issued from her shop than before.
She had looked forward to this as a set-off, if Miss Biggs remembered, against the increase of rent which her landlord clapped on in Edition: Heaven knew she was loyal in her heart, and ready to assist the war as long as his Majesty chose to fight; but she could not but feel that she had borne her full share. She had renewed her lease at a higher rent, in the prospect of more custom, and then found that the tax on hair-powder,—a tax laid on to help the war,—had put people off wearing hair-powder!
Though you let it be raised afterwards, I dare say it was high enough before. House rent cannot be high here, though you are in the neighbourhood of the market. When my lease was renewed, this street was the great thoroughfare of the town. I shall never forget it. And my lease with six years to run from that very day. Barton looked full of woe at being called a speculator. She had the testimony of her conscience that she did not deserve it. Your case, you say, is the reverse. Rent and tax remain as they were, and the neighbourhood is less desirable than it was; and so I say it is a bad speculation to you.
Maynard was easily convinced how clever he should be thought, if he could put the ladies in the way of doing this.
He looked back a moment, saw the assessor entering the gateway, supposed his father would find the book if it was Edition: The surveyor declared it was no concern of his. He would christen it himself: No one who could move away would stay in a poor situation, to pay a tax as high as had been imposed in a favourable locality. At that time, the poor were not very heavily burdened by it, and now they are not so burdened at all. A large portion of the remaining half might be ascribed to the extraordinary accession of goods, chattels, and followers which they brought into the place.
Such a very capital idea! The speculation was followed out;—how charming it must be to the owner of the house to be able to put it where it would be sure of bringing a good rent till it was worn out, instead of placing it, as now, where there was no certainty of how much or how little it would be in request twenty years hence. How charming, lastly, to the government, to receive the house-tax in a steady proportion which none could dispute: No one who could move away would stay in a poor situation, to pay a tax as high as had been imposed in a favourable locality.
Equity would be the order of the day, Mrs. Barton decided, if houses went on wheels; and landlords, tenants, and assessors might be all loyal and harmonious together. There was little hope that this house could be set upon wheels. The house would be even more difficult to shift than the lease. He was once proud of the consequence of his inn, as shown by the charges it had to bear; but now, he talked very differently, poor man, about such charges.
He had been heard to say, more than once lately, a thing—a fact—something which he would hardly say to the young gentlemen who were now occupying his best apartments. No one could believe it, as Mrs. Barton had told the complainant. It was impossible that any one could credit it. But, halloo, what comes here? Please to let me in, ladies. If you will let me in, and shut the door—I never could abide these packs of those animals,—a very different thing from carrying one quiet little creature Edition: Now we shall do!
Barton rejoiced in such an opportunity for hospitality. She became suddenly remarkably afraid of a pack of harriers, and took care that the door was fastened as securely as if harriers had been especially addicted to eating and drinking pomatum and lavender water. Miss Biggs kneeled to the spaniel, and coaxed it till sent by a sign from her mistress to bring a little glass of fine cordial for their guest, whom they declared they should keep fast prisoner till all danger of encountering that dreadful pack of dogs was past.
The inventory of Mr. The pack and the huntsman were not without their admirers, meanwhile. Among the many who looked knowingly or joyously on them, none were more emphatic than Mr. Taplin,—the lawyer, as he was called before he failed,—the assessor, as he had been generally named since his friends Edition: What a fine set of new subjects for assessment had he in this family of the Cranstons!
How many servants and carriages! Armorial bearings, of course; and here was the huntsman; and besides this pack, there were Mr. Then there were horses in abundance on the road, he understood. It was a pity the house and window duties could not be made more suitable in amount to such a mansion as that at Fellbrow.
He must try, for the sake of justice, as well as of his own pocket, to contrive an increase. He trusted that such wealthy and high-spirited young men would not be troublesome as to the amount of tax they were to pay,—either for their habitations or their pleasures.
He stood watching the picturesque group for some time after it had reached the Paddock,—a place well known to every sporting gentleman who passed through A—. The Paddock was the residence of a noted horse-dealer; and Swallow, the tenant, had had the honour of welcoming to his stables almost every man of note in his particular line in the kingdom. Many a characteristic group might be seen in the shadow of his spacious gateway. Many an honoured voice might be heard in oath or laughter from his range of stables; and many a hero of the field had trod the grass of the ample paddock in the rear.
The thresher in Mr. Swallow was not sorry that the dogs had come by this road, as it was of importance to him to establish a friendly intercourse with Mr. Half an hour later would have been better. A van, on its way to London, was at the door. It could not wait; and certain packages must be put into it whose contents could scarcely fail to be guessed by the huntsman, any more than by the gamekeeper. It was provoking that the girls were out. They would have got the packages in at the back of the van very cleverly, while he was amusing the huntsman with a glass of liquor and conversation.
He must try whether George could take the hint. George was less quick at taking a hint than he would have been if he had not been accustomed to depend much on his sisters. He was not ashamed of being excelled by them, and, in a manner, taken care of by them, they having, as he always said, each a double mind, with which his single one could not pretend to compete.
These girls were twins, and more perfectly alike in mind if possible than in form and feature. Their brother, still a rough and sadly careless boy, laughed at them, was proud of them, and depended upon them. The book which every horse-dealer is by law obliged to keep open to Edition: George was perpetually warned of the heavy penalties to which his father would be liable if the due entries were not made, if the book was not always kept open to the observation of the assessor, and regularly delivered in, every quarter, for examination and discharge; but it is probable that his father would more than once have been compelled to disburse the penalty, if Anne and Sarah had not been on the watch to guard against his carelessness.
It was indeed a pity that they were absent now. In vain did Swallow interpose his broad shoulders and offer snuff. The huntsman was mounted, and could see what was passing in the rear; and he was moreover not to be persuaded to take a pinch. Swallow saw that his new acquaintance had picked up a notion at the Paddock which would not be long in reaching the owner of the Fellbrow preserves. He looked back a moment, saw the assessor entering the gateway, supposed his father would find the book if it was Edition: He had rather kennel with the dogs than come home to his business, any day of the year.
My family are all out, you see, sir. If it is equally convenient, I will send one of them with the book, this afternoon. Make haste, and find it, if you please. Your boy is not the only one of the family, I fancy, who has the taste you describe,—for sport rather than business. But you will remember the gentlemen are on the spot now, and take care of yourself, I suppose. Remember they are on the spot, I advise you. There is not a soul in A— but is watching them from morning till night,—except, indeed, the people and they are not few that are swarming about the Fellbrow house, like bees building their comb.
While Swallow was laboriously scrawling his two lines, the assessor walked off. There was no room for talk of penalties in his department this day. He would come again when all Edition: Swallow looked after Mr. If he threatens me, I can bid him look to his own share. October was not half gone before a sufficient portion of the Fellbrow house was made habitable to accommodate the family. These October mornings were glorious.
One especially, when the whole family were anxious for fine weather, equalled any that she had enjoyed in a southern climate. It was to be a morning of fishing,—the first regular fishing party since their arrival; and Fanny was at her window before the rich hues of the sunrise had melted from the northern mountain tops, or the white frost evaporated from the unsunned lawn.
The face of the limestone rocks opposite was grey in the shadow, and the stream below was yet black as if it had no bottom; but the rays were abroad Edition: Some of the loftiest trees in the park already began to be lighted up; and on a green platform of the retiring rocks, the blue roofs of a little hamlet glistened in the gush of sunshine poured upon them through the chasm which brought the waters from the heights to the cisterns at the doors of the inhabitants.
Already might the hind be distinguished, pacing forth warily from the thicket, and looking from side to side, while her fawn bounded past her, breast-high in the hoar grass. Already might the shepherd and his dog be distinguished on the faint track of the sheep-walk, now driving their scudding flock, and now letting them disperse themselves over the upland.
Already were lively voices heard below the window, and already were busy hands making a picturesque display of nets and wicker baskets on the grass. But I put the people off before, and Edition: I can get it over, with what else I have to do, before you have finished your sport, if you will only make me sure where I may find you.
That is what I am settling now; and then I am off. They find they must make the most of me when they can catch me. But the business I mean is, looking about to see where I shall build my house. You ought to be with me for that. If your mare was but here, I would make you give up the fishing for to-day, and ride over with me. I have seen none yet that it would be worth your while to ride seven miles to make acquaintance with. If they have not such gay shawls, they are ten times more dull and silly: Diamond had no other inclination than to do his duty. Once having cleared the park, he brought all the little children out of the cottages by the sound of his firm and rapid trot on the hard road.
Their mothers curtseyed at the doors and windows, inspired with an equal respect for the handsome rider and his sleek steed; and the labourers turned round from their work on the fences and in the fields to smile the vacant smile with which they honoured passengers who took their fancy. It was not his fault that he could not, before he reached the brook, slacken his speed sufficiently to avoid splashing the fair horsewomen who were crossing at the time. For this last offence he received a more severe punishment from his master than for any preceding.
The boy on the foot bridge shrank from the wetting, and the horsewomen retired right and left to watch the issue. James was so far struck with this amidst his contest with Diamond, that Edition: He was as much amused as surprised at what he beheld. No twins that he had ever seen could compare with these for likeness. It was not only the colour of the eyes and of the hair, and the frame of the features; much less the perfect similarity of their dress, and of the animals they rode.
The glance was the very same, revealing an identity of mind. They were now side by side, and he perceived that every touch of the rein was the same. Smiles came and went as if from one heart; and yet they did not look at each other, except to agree which should utter the words that were on the tongues of both. If they had been less pretty than they were, James could not have pushed on his way as before. His curiosity was so amused, that he laughed without restraint; and could scarcely repent having done so when he saw the blush and confused gravity of each little face which filled up its close straw bonnet.
People think him most like father. Your mother must be a very pretty woman. There was no answer. The girls were too busy trying to help laughing. In order to find out whether this arose from the mother being otherwise than pretty, or from the daughters Edition: They took this as a matter of course, having been in the habit of riding almost as regularly as of dining, all their lives. How could they contrive rides for every day? We are going one of our longest rides to-day. Why do you use empty pack-saddles? Very well; I shall know Anne from Sarah by her having a load on her pack-saddle.
Pray do your parents know you from each other? I would give a crown-piece to know whether one voice ever gets above the other,—whether you ever quarrel. I do not see how you can well help it; for you must often want the same thing at the same time—something that you cannot both have. What sort of thing did he mean? Almost everything that could not be divided might be used by them together. I shall go with you. We shall not stay two minutes. We will make haste.
George has run on already, you see: Why should you both go? There is George to take care of one. Anne, do you stay with me, and let the empty saddle go down the lane. Left alone with Anne, the gentleman began to animate her with praises of her native district. She agreed that it was a pretty part to ride in for pleasure.
She supposed the gentleman rode for pleasure. I am going to bury a child. You would have children buried when they die, would not you? Do you think she will be married to-day, sir? I think she might have told us, however. Come, give your pony the switch a little. Her saddle is not loaded, you know. Anne shook her head: Sarah was not in sight; and the faithful twin evidently meditated turning back. This lasted till they came within sight of a row of cottages, at the door of one of which was a funeral train, just beginning to form. It would not do, even James perceived, for the mourners to see him galloping to the churchyard in a race with a country girl.
He turned her horse, as well as his own, into a field, and then stopped to laugh. He rode between her and the gate of the field, saying that, before she went, she must tell him whether she did not think this field the very place to build a house upon. If she would only look up at the view to the north, and measure with her eye the distance from the church—. She was off, like an arrow from a bow; and Sarah might be seen hastening hitherward over a heath, about a mile and a half distant.
I must find a gap in the fence, lower down, that these people about the cottages may not be scandalized. I must behave well to-day, when once I have seen what those girls are doing. When met, they were pacing side by side, looking equally offended. James could scarcely appear as penitent as he intended, so infinitely amused was he at the perfect resemblance of the twins being preserved and made more striking amidst their change of mood. If Anne looked heated by her violent exercise, Sarah was not less so through fear and resentment.
Both glanced away from him; neither would turn the head when he spoke. The tendency to ponder the ground was rather the strongest in Anne: Half a mile beyond the church. If they would go on, and wait for him there, he would come to them when his service was done, and take their opinion about where he should build his house, and then Anne should not be left behind for want of a sixpence: He heard Anne say to her sister that he would serve her the same trick that he had played Sarah, and that she did not believe he had any child to bury, nor any such thing. But, really now, if you will help me to settle where I shall build my house, I will help you with your business afterwards, if you will only tell me what it is.
And he looked narrowly at the sacks with which the saddles were provided. I shall begin to listen for a cock-a-doodle-doo, such as once kept me awake all the way to London, when I went in a stage-coach. Shall we have a cock-a-doodle-doo presently? Now, does this belong to a chicken, or a turkey, or what? There was no doubt that Anne would have done the same, if she had chanced to be next him; for she did not laugh with surprise, but smiled, as at a corroboration of an idea of her own.
He now saw that there was certainly a something more in the one sister than in the other,—a drollery in the eyes — an archness about the mouth. The sisters were at last convinced that he was a clergyman, when they saw the uncovered heads of Edition: But here are the blessings of having a living! He was mistaken; the girls had not waited at all, but gone straight through, rather in a hurry than not, the gatekeeper said. One of them had explained that she had lost her sixpence on the road, and had left her silver thimble in pledge of payment, to be redeemed the next time she should pass that way.
James, of course, redeemed the thimble, which he tried on his little finger end before he consigned it to his waistcoat pocket. The gatekeeper was deplorably stupid about the girls. He did not seem to know which was meant by the pretty one; and could give no further account of them than that they set off, at Edition: He could not even tell whether they meant to go to the large farm-house that might be seen standing back from this road.
There was nothing for it but going to learn on the spot; so James left the situation of his house to be discussed hereafter, and was presently at the gate of the farm. The farmer knew the girls, he acknowledged; could not deny he had seen them to-day—just for a minute—an hour ago or more;—supposed they were at home by this time;—advised the gentleman to come in and have a snack and a glass of ale, and he would talk to him about ground for his house.
James recollected, now that the chase had escaped him, that he really was hungry, and had some miles to ride, at the end of which he might find nothing in the shape of provisions but fish in their dying agonies. He gave his horse to the boy who had just stopped from swinging on a gate, and entered the dwelling. Riley will tell me where to look for a piece of land to build upon. Your little boy will be all the sooner ready to say his catechism, you know, if you go on steadily. So do not let me disturb you. Riley blushed, and took up her scissars once more to point with: According to him, F stood for apple, F for fig, and F for window.
He was told to turn his head towards his mamma, instead of quite away from his book; and the head was soon in its right place; but the eyes still wandered off to the extreme left, and F once more stood for pie. This was too much. Riley lost the thread of his discourse; Mrs. Riley escaped from the room, and James laughed, while the boy stood staring at him. Will I help you to fly it? Yes, that I will, some day. Here is quite a feast, I see.
Your sausages are irresistible; and especially with such game as this. A leg, if you please, sir. No wonder the Rileys were flattered. The most superb thing in the universe was under their humble roof! I will send you in some game as I pass, the first time I shoot in your neighbourhood. You relish game, I presume, Mrs. Riley assented; then hesitated, and hoped Mr. Cranston would not trouble himself to do as he had said. The farmer declared that Mr. Cranston was welcome to shoot over his farm, but they could not accept any game.
While James was insisting, little Harry, who had been sent away, ran in crying, and complaining that he had lost his tail, and he could not get another. Riley explained that Harry was indulged with the tail feathers of pheasants, and that he therefore disliked the disappearance of game from the pantry.
There were so many this morning, the boy complained, and now they were all gone! There were a great many indeed, hanging all in a row, and Nancy had promised him all the tails. Now there was not one left. Riley, that you make welcome to shoot over your farm and in your neighbourhood. I suppose the birds plague you with the people they bring upon your ground. I saw one cover, I remember, standing alone in the middle of some very wide fields of yours, with not a hedge near enough to tempt a bird to stray; and I thought I would try my luck there next.
You may chance to see three hundred cock pheasants Edition: But the birds are nothing to the hares, sir; I was very nearly quarrelling with my farm, on account of the hares; and should have done so, if my landlord had not made me an allowance for them. My loss is much greater than two sacks per acre, I can assure you. Take the year round, and a hare is as expensive as a sheep;—for this reason,—that the hare picks the last particle of vegetation.
If my grain springs an eighth of an inch one day, and the vermin nips seven hundred of the sprouts in a day,—what sheep will ever cause me such damage as that? Riley not only corroborated this, but added that Mr. Riley was still more cross with rabbits. And well I may! They do such mischief round the outskirts of my coppices, that the wood will not be so fit to cut at the end of twenty years as it would at the end of sixteen without them. You cannot wonder, sir, that we farmers cannot see poachers. They are a sort of Edition: If you consider, sir, that there are six hundred acres of wheat land in this parish, and that hares consume, at the least, two sacks per acre, there are twelve hundred sacks of corn taken from men to be given to hares.
I cannot think it a great sin, at this rate, to let alone anybody that helps to root out the hares. Every labourer in the parish may go and inform, unless I do him some favour that will keep his good-will; and if his liking should be for sport, why, what can we do but let each other alone?
There may be such a thing as a league between the poacher and the woodman;—just such a sort of league to break the laws as there was till lately between gentlemen and their woodmen. Cranston knows to be true. He knows that, till the sale of game was allowed by law, gentlemen encouraged their servants to sell the game the gentlemen themselves shot.
The woodmen that I have known used to receive a quarter of the money so brought in. And, after a sporting bout, when their masters Edition: Where poaching is done by gangs, as it is here, there are a great number to share in the first instance. Then there are the coachmen or van-drivers that carry the game up to London, and the poiters that take charge of it there. Then the poulterers must have their commission; double what they have on poultry, on account of the risk.
And then there is the waste,—which is more than is easily counted,—what with the game being mangled, and killed out of season, and sent up in a bad state. Pheasants are sent up long after January, and hares with young; and sometimes half a sackfull is good for nothing when it is unpacked.
When he sends up a fine batch of game, he may chance to find that the market is overstocked. There can be no regularity of supply where it is carried on in an illegal and underhand manner. After hawking about what was not quite past cooking, and selling birds for a few pence to anybody that passed by, one poulterer alone threw two thousand partridges into the Thames. This makes our people here so united as they are. They keep up a perfect understanding all the way to London, that there may be the less difficulty in poaching to order,—which is the surest way to make money.
He sends down a message, perhaps, that he has engaged to furnish some thousand head a week for three weeks, and that he depends upon this district; and then poaching is the order of the day. By the time the job is done, the newspapers begin to cry out. There is often work for the coroner, before all is over; and account is laid for a few going to prison; but where all are banded together in prospect of this, the going to prison is no disgrace, and not much of a hardship; and the manslaughter comes to be looked upon as a matter of course.
Pray do they meddle with deer? Riley, I owe you thanks for your hospitality. Riley pronounced him a pleasant mannered gentleman, as she peeped between the climbers that covered the window to watch him and her husband up the hill at the back of the house. You will find the difference between building here, and building near the falls in the hills yonder, where the gentry are rearing their boxes and their villas.
Here you will have to pay no great deal more than if the spot of ground was to be under the plough instead of under a roof. A friend of mine has been building a villa at Chiswick lately, and he pays four times as much for the ground as he gets as the ground-rent of a capital house in Winchelsea. This is all very fair. The very place I was mentioning, Winchelsea, where there are not more than fifty houses that yield the house-tax, pays, within thirty pounds, as much land-tax as Bath; and if you could look down upon Bath as we now do upon your parish, you would see the absurdity of such a taxation.
In London, the difference is wider still. I know of two parishes that pay above l. This is the fault of the way the tax was managed at first, and not of anything that is done with it now: While some parishes pay 2 s. There is our neighbouring county of Lancaster, with all its fine towns and villages, almost as busy as London itself, paying no more land-tax than some four or five such London parishes as you mentioned just now. You see, its being made perpetual, some five-and-thirty years ago, and allowed to be redeemed, and half of it being redeemed, makes it difficult to touch now.
That was what Mr. Pitt wanted, no doubt—to have done with this, without loss, and then to be free to lay on a new tax. For my part, I like neither making valuation nor tax perpetual; and to allow redemption is worse still, in principle. The sacrifice made in redeeming a tax is made for ever and ever. See what a scrape we are in now, in the case of this land-tax!
The only way of escape the sufferers can think of is by violating the valuation which was declared unalterable. They cry out for a new assessment; leaving the redeemed portions of land exempt, and equalizing the rest at the same rate as formerly—4 s. They say that this would bring the Government between one and two millions a-year more than at present; and that if the assessment was kept equal, the whole would be gradually redeemed. You know, if you run away to-night, the assessor comes upon your landlord for it, instead of running after you.
You know it is levied on empty houses. Riley, I never before heard anybody question that the land-tax falls on the landlords, however much the point might be doubted about the house-tax. Every tax stints production in its way; yet there must be taxes. If we are to go on taxing classes of people, I do not know that we could have a better tax than this, if it was but made equal. Besides its capacity of being made equal, it has other good qualities.
Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the If it is equally convenient, I will send one of them with the book, this afternoon.” “Show it me. Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. effort has been taken to translate the unique features of the printed book into the HTML medium.
It is levied in a convenient way; and it goes pretty straight to the Treasury. So that, except that I should like to see a simpler method of taxation, which should save us from laying a Edition: If you tax all land at so much per acre, the owner of those bleak hills above will pay much more than his share; and the fine land in our best counties will yield much less than its share. Then, if you tax according to the produce, people will not be long in finding out that your tax is a tithe, sir; and you and I both know what they think of tithe.
It would be thus thrown on the landlords, as I said before. The exclusive taxation of a particular class is a bad principle to go upon. But, while we do go upon that principle, and while the poorer classes pay so much more taxes than their share, this tax equalized is one of the last to be complained of. Rent, you know, is naturally always rising. If a government was a great landowner, it might live without taxing anybody. If a government kept a portion of land, and behaved to its tenants like a good landlord, it would find its revenues perpetually on the increase, with no other checks than would, at the Edition: A fine prospect that, for a new country, is not it?
No spot that I have seen compares with this, certainly. If you find her in the clouds, you may speak to her ten times before you get an answer; and I doubt whether she looks pretty then. I am more tired than she is of waiting for her favourite mare. Nobody knows what Fanny is like that has not seen her ride,—seen her hunt. I will bring her here when Edition: You should see her with children. The hour struck, and the sound came from the church tower below to remind James of his fishing engagement.
He had ceased to care about the fishing; but he had some lingering hopes of falling in again with the twins, if he pursued the circuitous road over moorland and through a park which they had taken. Once on his way, he relaxed his speed no more. The moor-hen and her brood fled away uncoveted from beneath the hoofs of the steed.
The goats browzed unnoticed, or skipped from point to point of the grey rocks under which the road wound for a part of the way. He was as much startled himself as any timid girl, when he heard, in his passage through the park, a rustling among the underwood and high ferns in just such a corner as the twins might have chosen, for its shade and retirement, to rest in. But it was only a fawn which burst away from his doubtful call, as Sarah had done from his appointment.
He was sorry and out of humour at coming so soon in sight of the party he proposed to join. They did not see him—so busy were they with their sport. The horses, which were loose and Edition: A boatman, sitting in a skiff that lay in the dark reflection of the oaks and hollies which clothed the island in the middle of the river, touched his hat.
Fish lay heaped and scattered on the grass; and more was being drawn. Richard, who was stretched at length, showed himself interested in as far as he had raised himself on his elbow. Fanny herself had hold of a net; and Wallace and the servants were as active as the occasion of so large a prey required.
It was not long before James was trying whether he could not draw one which would weigh two pounds and an ounce. James was indefatigable in his exertions to get his sister suited with a horse. Sometimes the girls came out, curtseying to the young lady, and giving an opinion when asked. Fanny delighted her brother by a spontaneous exclamation about their beauty, the first time she saw them: If it had not been that a young greyhound was for ever in attendance upon one, Fanny could not have pretended to distinguish them.
James told her she had no eyes. It is only three days since I gave him to her, and he never mistakes Anne for her, in the dusk or in the daylight. To talk of their eyes being alike! And then the blush—I thought Fanny had been fond enough of her garden to know the difference between a folded convolvulus which is a graceful thing enough in its way and one that is glowing in dew when the sun has just expanded it. A very short dialogue showed Fanny which it was that James preferred. It would not have been necessary, if she had known how Sarah came by the greyhound.
This made Fanny turn her head to take another look; but it was Anne who gazed after them. Sarah was busy with her dog Fido. James was not wrong in his observations on eyes. The serenity of both was gone. Sarah did not wish it back again. Anne did; every hour between rising and rest. They had ceased to move together,—unavoidably, when one had a dog and the other had not,—but neither was yet awake to the fact that they no longer thought and felt alike.
One morning they sat, like the reflection of each other, on either side of a work-table: The difference was that Anne attended to her work, while Sarah peered anxiously through the glass door which communicated with the office, where her father might be seen reading a letter. After a while, Anne reared her chin to try on the frill. Sarah began to ply her needle, uneasy at being left behind. Anne amused herself with stroking and coaxing the greyhound. She did not think of beginning any other employment till Sarah should be ready.
Cranston did not give me a greyhound! I am afraid,—I am pretty sure, Mr. Cranston does not like me. Did he tell you so? He never told me that he liked you. But he did not stay very long: He has never once missed a day yet. Sarah did not raise her eyes while she said in a low voice that Mr. Cranston did not wish it. She was not very much taken by surprise when she saw Anne, an instant after, in a passion of tears. Her own were streaming immediately, while she hoped Anne was not very angry with her.
Indeed she could not help it. She had had no comfort of her life, for some time past, she declared. There was always something to expect and be afraid of. She could not help wishing Mr. Cranston to come, and yet she was often glad when he went away. He never came but something disagreeable passed. She did not think he would have been so careful to give her back her thimble, that he had got from the turnpike-house.
It had prevented her daring to give him anything, for fear he should refuse it; and yet he had seemed to be very much pleased with the purse Sarah had netted for him. She supposed Sarah had found out that she had felt mortified often lately; for nobody could help seeing that Sarah had taken a great deal upon her lately;—more than anybody could have expected that had always known them. Sarah tried to speak calmly while she answered that she had never intended to take more upon her than she should. She could truly say she had been more sorry for Anne than she had ever been for any one in her life.
She had hoped, every time that Miss Cranston came, that either the eldest Mr. Wallace would come with her, instead of the one that did come: Anne saw that all was over. She declared she did not want to be liked by anybody, sent the dog away from her knee with a rebuke, and left the room. It was not long before Sarah was again by her Edition: She had been so completely thrown out by the failure of what she meant for sympathy, just now, that she did not venture to touch upon any matter of feeling with Anne.
She had, in ten minutes, grown almost as much afraid of her as of a stranger: I saw my father reading a letter from London; and he sent George out to A—, directly after. Why should not there be an expedition, as there has been often before?
I suppose the woodmen must take some notice, now; and Mr. Morse has grown violent against the poachers, they say, since there has been some use in keeping up the game, as he says. Alick Morse says his father has as good a mind to dodge a poacher now as a stoat has to dodge a hare. But I am afraid of their coming to a fight, Anne.
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