Lancelot, who was twice his size, " with a heroism
worthy of a better cause," as respectable papers,
when they are not too frightened, say of the
" Do you want any more ? " asked Lancelot.
" Quite a pleasure, sir, to meet a scientific genT-
man. Beg your pardon, sir ; stay a moment while
I wipes my face. Now, sir, time, if you please."
Alas for the little man ! in another moment he
tumbled over and lay senseless Lancelot thought
he had killed him. The gang saw their champion
fall, gave ground, and limped off, leaving three
of their party groaning on the ground, beside
as many Whitford men.
As it was in the beginning, so is it to be to the
end, my foolish brothers ! From the poacher
to the prime minister wearying yourselves for
very vanity ! The soldier is not the only man in
England who is fool enough to be shot at for a
shilling a day.
But while all the rest were busy picking up the
wounded men and securing the prisoners, Harry
Verney alone held on, and as the poachers retreated
slowly up the ride, he followed them, peering into
the gloom, as if in hopes of recognizing some old
" Stand back, Harry Verney ; we know you, and
we 'd be loath to harm an old man, " cried a voice
out of the darkness.
"Eh? Do you think old Harry 'd turn back
when he was once on the track of ye? You
soft-fisted, gin-drinking, counter-skipping Cockney
rascals, that fancy you 're to carry the county
before you, because you get your fines paid by
London-tradesmen! Eh? What do you take old
Verney Hears His Last Shot Fired 149
" Go back, you old fool ! " and a volley of oaths
followed. " If you follow us, we '11 fire at you, as
sure as the moon's in heaven ! "
" Fire away, then ! I '11 follow you to ! "
and the old man paced stealthily but firmly up
Tregarva saw his danger and sprang forward,
but it was too late.
" What, you will have it, then? "
A sharp crack followed, a bright flash in the
darkness every white birch-stem and jagged
oak-leaf shone out for a moment as bright as day
and in front of the glare Lancelot saw the old
man throw his arms wildly upward, fall forward,
and disappear on the dark ground.
" You Ve done it ! off with you ! " And the
rascals rushed off up the ride.
In a moment Tregarva was by the old man's
side, and lifted him tenderly up.
" They 've done for me, Paul. Old Harry 's got
his gruel. He's heard his last shot fired. I knowed
it 'ud come to this, and I said it. Eh? Did n't I,
now, Paul?" And as the old man spoke, the
workings of his lungs pumped great jets of blood
out over the still heather-flowers as they slept in
the moonshine, and dabbled them with smoking
" Here, men," shouted the colonel, " up with
him at once, and home ! Here, put a brace of
your guns together, muzzle and lock. Help him
to sit on them, Lancelot. There, Harry, put your
arms round their necks. Tregarva, hold him up
behind. Now then, men, left legs foremost keep
step march ! " And they moved off towards
"You seem to know everything, colonel," said
The colonel did not answer for a moment.
"Lancelot, I learnt this dodge from the only
friend I ever had in the world, or ever shall have ;
and a week after I marched him home to his
deathbed in this very way."
"Paul Paul Tregarva," whispered old Harry,
"put your head down here: wipe my mouth,
there's a man; it's wet, uncommon wet" It
was his own life-blood. " I 've been a beast to
you, Paul. I 've hated you, and envied you, and
tried to ruin you. And now you 've saved my
life once this night; and here you be a-nursing
of me as my own son might do, if he was here,
poor fellow! I've ruined you, Paul; the Lord
"Pray! pray!" said Paul, "and He will for-
give you. He is all mercy. He pardoned the
thief on the cross "
" No, Paul, no thief, not so bad as that, I
hope, anyhow ; never touched a feather of the
squire's. But you dropped a song, Paul, a bit of
Paul turned pale.
" And the Lord forgive me ! I put it in the
"The Lord forgive you! Amen!" said Paul,
Wearily and slowly they stepped on towards
the old man's cottage. A messenger had gone
on before, and in a few minutes the squire, Mrs.
Lavington, and the girls were round the bed of
their old retainer.
They sent off right and left for the doctor and
Verney Hears His Last Shot Fired 151
the vicar; the squire was in a frenzy of rage and
"Don't take on, master, don't take on," said
old Harry, as he lay; while the colonel and
Honoria in vain endeavored to stanch the wound.
"I knowed it would be so, sooner or later; 'tis
all in the way of business. They have n't carried
off a bird, squire, not a bird; we was too many
for 'em eh, Paul, eh?"
"Where is that cursed doctor?" said the
squire. "Save him, colonel, save him; and I'll
give you "
Alas ! the charge of shot at a few feet distance
had entered like a bullet, tearing a great ragged
hole. There was no hope, and the colonel knew
it; but he said nothing.
"The second keeper," sighed Argemone, "who
has been killed here ! Oh, Mr. Smith, must this
be? Is God's blessing on all this? "
Lancelot said nothing. The old man lighted
up at Argemone's voice.
"There's the beauty, there's the pride of
Whitford. And sweet Miss Honor, too, so
kind to nurse a poor old man ! But she never
would let him teach her to catch perch, would
she? She was always too tender-hearted. Ah,
squire, when we 're dead and gone, dead and
gone, squire, they '11 be the pride of Whitford
still ! And they '11 keep up the old place won't
you, my darlings ? And the old name, too ! For,
you know, there must always be a Lavington in
Whitford Priors, till the Nun's pool runs up to
"And a curse upon the Lavingtons," sighed
Argemone to herself in an undertone.
Lancelot heard what she said.
The vicar entered, but he was too late. The
old man's strength was failing, and his mind
began to wander.
"Windy," he murmured to himself, "windy,
dark and windy birds won't lie not old
Harry's fault. How black it grows! We must
be gone by nightfall, squire. Where's that
young dog gone? Arter the larks, the brute."
Old Squire Lavington sobbed like a child.
"You will soon be home, my man," said the
vicar. " Remember that you have a Saviour in
heaven. Cast yourself on His mercy."
Harry shook his head.
"Very good words, very kind, very heavy
gamebag, though. Never get home, never any
more at all. Where 's my boy Tom to carry it ?
Send for my boy Tom. He was always a good
boy till he got along with them poachers. "
"Listen," he said, "listen! There's bells
a-ringing ringing in my head. Come you here,
Paul Tregarva. "
He pulled Tregarva's face down to his own,
and whispered :
"Them 's the bells a-ringing for Miss Honor's
Paul started and drew back. Harry chuckled
and grinned for a moment in his old foxy, peer-
ing way, and then wandered off again.
" What 's that thumping and roaring ? " Alas !
it was the failing pulsation of his own heart.
"It's the weir, the weir a-washing me away
thundering over me. Squire, I 'm drowning,
drowning and choking! Oh, Lord, how deepl
Verney Hears His Last Shot Fired 153
Now it's running quieter now I can breathe
again swift and oily running on, running on,
down to the sea. See how the grayling sparkle!
There's a pike! 'T ain't my fault, squire, so
help me Don't swear, now, squire ; old men
and dying maun't swear, squire. How steady
the river runs down ! Lower and slower lower
and slower: now it's quite still still
His voice sank away he was dead !
No! once more the light flashed up in the
socket. He sprang upright in the bed, and held
out his withered paw with a kind of wild majesty,
as he shouted :
"There ain't such a head of hares on any
manor in the county. And them's the last words
of Harry Verney ! "
He fell back shuddered a rattle in his
^throat another and all was over.
"MURDER WILL OUT," AND LOVE TOO
A RGEMONE need never have known of
\. Lancelot's share in the poaching affray;
but he dared not conceal anything from her.
And so he boldly went up the next day to the
Priory, not to beg pardon, but to justify himself,
and succeeded. And, before long, he found him-
self fairly installed as her pupil, nominally in
spiritual matters, but really in subjects of which
she little dreamed.
Every day he came to read and talk with her,
and whatever objections Mrs. Lavington expressed
were silenced by Argemone. She would have it
so, and her mother neither dared nor knew how
to control her. The daughter had utterly out-
read and out-thought her less educated parent,
who was clinging in honest bigotry to the old
forms, while Argemone was wandering forth over
the chaos of the strange new age, a poor home-
less Noah's dove, seeking rest for the sole of her
foot and finding none. And now all motherly
influence and sympathy had vanished, and Mrs.
Lavington, in fear and wonder, let her daughter
go her own way. She could not have done
better, perhaps; for Providence had found for
Argemone a better guide than her mother could
have done, and her new pupil was rapidly becom-
ing her teacher. She was matched, for the first
"Murder will out,'* and Love too 155
time, with a man who was her own equal in intel-
lect and knowledge; and she felt how real was
that sexual difference which she had been accus-
tomed to consider as an insolent calumny against
woman. Proudly and indignantly she struggled
against the conviction, but in vain. Again and
again she argued with him, and was vanquished,
or, at least, what is far better, made to see
how many different sides there are to every
question. All appeals to authority he answered
with a contemptuous smile. "The best authori-
ties?" he used to say. "On what question do
not the best authorities flatly contradict each
other? And why? Because every man believes
just what it suits him to believe. Don't fancy
that men reason themselves into convictions; the
prejudices and feelings of their hearts give them
some idea or theory, and then they find facts at
their leisure to prove their theory true. Every
man sees facts through narrow spectacles, red, or
green, or blue, as his nation or his temperament
colors them : and he is quite right, only he must
allow us the liberty of having our spectacles too.
Authority is only good for proving facts. We
must draw our own conclusions." And Argemone
began to suspect that he was right, at least to
see that her opinions were mere hearsays, picked
up at her own will and fancy; while his were
living, daily-growing ideas. Her mind was
beside his as the vase of cut flowers by the side
of the rugged tree, whose roots are feeding deep
in the mother earth. In him she first learnt how
one great truth received into the depths of the
soul germinates there, and bears fruit a thousand-
fold; explaining, and connecting, and glorifying
innumerable things, apparently the most unlike
and insignificant; and daily she became a more
reverent listener, and gave herself up, half against
her will and conscience, to the guidance of a man
whom she knew to be her inferior in morals and
in orthodoxy. She had worshipped intellect,
and now it had become her tyrant ; and she was
ready to give up every belief which she once had
prized, to flutter like a moth round its fascinating
Who can blame her, poor girl? For Lance-
lot's humility was even more irresistible than his
eloquence. He assumed no superiority. He
demanded her assent to truths, not because they
were his opinions, but simply for the truth's
sake ; and on all points which touched the heart
he looked up to her as infallible and inspired.
In questions of morality, of taste, of feeling, he
listened not as a lover to his mistress, but rather
as a baby to its mother; and thus, half uncon-
sciously to himself, he taught her where her true
kingdom lay, that the heart, and not the brain,
enshrines the priceless pearl of womanhood, the
oracular jewel, the "Urim and Thummim," before
which gross man can only inquire and adore.
And, in the meantime, a change was passing
upon Lancelot. His morbid vanity that brawl-
begotten child of struggling self-conceit and self-
disgust was vanishing away ; and as Mr. Tenny-
son says in one of those priceless idyls of his,
before which the shade of Theocritus must hide
his diminished head,
"He was altered, and began
To move about the house with joy,
And with the certain step of man."
"Murder will out/' and Love too 157
He had, at last, found one person who could
appreciate him. And in deliberate confidence
he set to work to conquer her, and make her his
own. It was a traitorous return, but a very
natural one. And she, sweet creature! walked
straight into the pleasant snare, utterly blind,
because she fancied that she saw clearly. In the
pride of her mysticism, she had fancied herself
above so commonplace a passion as love. It was
a curious feature of lower humanity, which she
might investigate and analyze harmlessly as a
cold scientific spectator; and, in her mingled
pride and purity, she used to indulge Lancelot
in metaphysical disquisitions about love and
beauty, like that first one in their walk home
from Minchampstead, from which a less celestially
innocent soul would have shrunk. She thought,
forsooth, as the old proverb says, that she could
deal in honey, without putting her hand to her
mouth. But Lancelot knew better, and marked
her for his own. And daily his self-confidence
and sense of rightful power developed, and with
them, paradoxical as it may seem, the bitterest
self-abasement. The contact of her stainless in-
nocence, the growing certainty that the destiny
of that innocence was irrevocably bound up with
his own, made him shrink from her whenever he
remembered his own guilty career. To remem-
ber that there were passages in it which she must
never know that she would cast him from her
with abhorrence if she once really understood
their vileness! To think that, amid all the
closest bonds of love, there must forever be an
awful, silent gulf in the past, of which they must
never speak ! That she would bring to him what
1 5 8 Yeast
he could never, never bring to her ! The
thought was unbearable. And as hideous recol-
lections used to rise before him, devilish carica-
tures of his former self, mopping and mowing at
him in his dreams, he would start from his lonely
bed, and pace the room for hours, or saddle his
horse, and ride all night long aimlessly through
the awful woods, vainly trying to escape himself.
How gladly, at those moments, he would have
welcomed centuries of a material hell, to escape
from the more awful spiritual hell within him,
to buy back that pearl of innocence which he had
cast recklessly to be trampled under the feet of
his own swinish passions ! But, no; that which
was done could never be undone, never, to
all eternity. And more than once, as he wandered
restlessly from one room to another, the barrels
of his pistols seemed to glitter with a cold,
devilish smile, and call to him:
"Come to us! and with one touch of your
finger, send that bursting spirit which throbs
against your brow to flit forth free, and never-
more to defile her purity by your presence!"
But no, again : a voice within seemed to com-
mand him to go on, and claim her, and win her,
spite of his own vileness. And in after years,
slowly, and in fear and trembling, he knew it for
the voice of God, who had been leading him to
become worthy of her through that bitter shame
of his own unworthiness.
As One higher than they would have it, she
took a fancy to read Homer in the original, and
Lancelot could do no less than offer his services
as translator. She would prepare for him portions
of the Odyssey, and every day that he came up to
"Murder will out," and Love too 159
the Priory he used to comment on it to her; and so
for many a week, in the dark wainscoted library,
and in the clipt yew-alleys of the old gardens,
and under the brown autumn trees, they quarried
together in that unexhausted mine, among the
records of the rich Titan-youth of man. And
step by step Lancelot opened to her the everlast-
ing significance of the poem; the unconscious
purity which lingers in it, like the last rays of
the Paradise dawn; its sense of the dignity of
man as man ; the religious reverence with which
it speaks of all human ties, human strength and
beauty ay, even of merely animal human appe-
tites, as God-given and God-like symbols. She
could not but listen and admire, when he intro-
duced her to the sheer paganism of Schiller's
Gods of Greece; for on this subject he was more
eloquent than on any. He had gradually, in
fact, as we have seen, dropped all faith in any-
thing but Nature; the slightest fact about a bone
or a weed was more important to him than all
the books of divinity which Argemone lent him
to be laid by unread.
" What do you believe in ? " she asked him one
"In this!" he said, stamping his foot on the
ground. " In the earth I stand on, and the
things I see walking and growing on it. There
may be something beside it what you call a
spiritual world. But if He who made me intended
me to think of spirit first, He would have let me
see it first. But as He has given me material
senses, and put me in a material world, I take it
as a fair hint that I am meant to use those senses
first, whatever may come after. I may be intended
to understand the unseen world, but if so, it must
be, as I suspect, by understanding the visible
one: and there are enough wonders there to
occupy me for some time to come."
"But the Bible?" (Argemone had given up
long ago wasting words about the "Church.")
" My only Bible as yet is Bacon. I know that
he is right, whoever is wrong. If that Hebrew
Bible is to be believed by me, it must agree with
what I know already from science. "
What was to be done with so intractable a
heretic? Call him an infidel and a materialist,
of course, and cast him off with horror. But
Argemone was beginning to find out that, when
people are really in earnest, it may be better
sometimes to leave God's methods of educating
them alone, instead of calling the poor honest
seekers hard names, which the speakers them-
selves don't understand.
But words would fail sometimes, and in default
of them Lancelot had recourse to drawings, and
manifested in them a talent for thinking in visible
forms which put the climax to all Argemone's
wonder. A single profile, even a mere mathe-
matical figure, would, in his hands, become the
illustration of a spiritual truth. And, in time,
every fresh lesson on the Odyssey was accom-
panied by its illustration, some bold and simple
outline drawing. In Argemone's eyes, the
sketches were immaculate and inspired ; for their
chief, almost their only fault, was just those
mere anatomical slips which a woman would
hardly perceive, provided the forms were generally
graceful and bold.
One day his fancy attempted a bolder flight.
" Murder will out," and Love too 1 6 1
He brought a large pen-and-ink drawing, and
laying it silently on the table before her, fixed
his eyes intensely on her face. The sketch was
labelled the "Triumph of Woman." In the
foreground, to the right and left, were scattered
groups of men, in the dresses and insignia of
every period and occupation. The distance
showed, in a few bold outlines, a dreary desert,
broken by alpine ridges, and furrowed here and
there by a wandering watercourse. Long shadows
pointed to the half-risen sun, whose disc was
climbing above the waste horizon. And in front
of the sun, down the path of the morning beams,
came Woman, clothed only in the armor of her
own loveliness. Her bearing was stately, and
yet modest; in her face pensive tenderness
seemed wedded with earnest joy. In her right
hand lay a cross, the emblem of self-sacrifice.
Her path across the desert was marked by the
flowers which sprang up beneath her steps; the
wild gazelle stept forward trustingly to lick her 1
hand ; a single wandering butterfly fluttered round
her head. As the group, one by one, caught
sight of her, a human tenderness and intelligence
seemed to light up every face. The scholar dropt
his book, the miser his gold, the savage his
weapons ; even in the visage of the half-slumber-
ing sot some nobler recollection seemed wistfully
to struggle into life. The artist caught up his
pencil, the poet his lyre, with eyes that beamed
forth sudden inspiration. The sage, whose broad
brow rose above the group like some torrent-fur-
rowed Alp, scathed with all the temptations and
all the sorrows of his race, watched with a
thoughtful smile that preacher more mighty than
1 62 Yeast
himself. A youth, decked out in the most fan-
tastic fopperies of the middle age, stood with
clasped hands and brimming eyes, as remorse
and pleasure struggled in his face; and as he
looked, the fierce sensual features seemed to
melt, and his flesh came again to him like the
flesh of a little child. The slave forgot his
fetters; little children clapped their hands; and
the toil-worn, stunted, savage woman sprung for-
ward to kneel at her feet, and see herself
transfigured in that new and divine ideal of her
Descriptions of drawings are clumsy things at
best; the reader must fill up the sketch for him-
self by the eye of faith.
Entranced in wonder and pleasure, Argemone
let her eyes wander over the drawing. And her
feelings for Lancelot amounted almost to wor-
ship, as she apprehended the harmonious unity
of the manifold conception, the rugged bold-
ness of the groups in front, the soft grandeur of
the figure which was the lodestar of all their
emotions the virginal purity of the whole.
And when she fancied that she traced in those
bland aquiline lineaments, and in the crisp ring-
lets which floated like a cloud down to the knees
of her figure, some traces of her own likeness, a
dream of a new destiny flitted before her, she
blushed to her very neck; and as she bent her
face over the drawing and gazed, her whole soul
seemed to rise into her eyes, and a single tear
dropped upon the paper. She laid her hand over
it, and then turned hastily away.
"You do not like it! I have been too bold,"
said Lancelot, fearfully.
"Murder will out," and Love too 163
" Oh, no ! no ! It is so beautiful so full of
deep wisdom ! But but You may leave
Lancelot slipped silently out of the room, he
hardly knew why; and when he was gone, Arge-
mone caught up the drawing, pressed it to her
bosom, covered it with kisses, and hid it, as too
precious for any eyes but her own, in the farthest
corner of her secretaire.
And yet she fancied that she was not in love !
The vicar saw the growth of this intimacy with
a fast-lengthening face; for it was very evident
that Argemone could not serve two masters so
utterly contradictory as himself and Lancelot,
and that either the lover or the father-confessor
must speedily resign office. The vicar had had
great disadvantages, by the by, in fulfilling the
latter function; for his visits at the Priory had
been all but forbidden ; and Argemone' s " spiritual
state" had been directed by means of a secret
correspondence, a method which some clergy-
men, and some young ladies too, have discovered,
in the last few years, to be quite consistent with
moral delicacy and filial obedience. John Bull,
like a stupid fellow as he is, has still his doubts
upon the point; but he should remember that
though St. Paul tells women when they want
advice to ask their husbands at home, yet if the
poor woman has no husband, or, as often happens,
her husband's advice is unpleasant, to whom is she
to go but to the next best substitute, her spiritual
cicisbeo, or favorite clergyman ? In sad earnest,
neither husband nor parent deserves pity in the
immense majority of such cases. Woman will
have guidance. It is her delight and glory to be
1 64 Yeast
led; and if her husband or her parents will not
meet the cravings of her intellect, she must go
elsewhere to find a teacher, and run into the
wildest extravagances of private judgment, in the
very hope of getting rid of it, just as poor Arge-
mone had been led to do.
And, indeed, she had, of late, wandered into
very strange paths: would to God they were as
uncommon as strange! Both she and the vicar
had a great wish that she should lead a " devoted
life ; " but then they both disdained to use com-