read that ! " And she handed him the vicar's
letter. He read it, tossed it on the carpet, and
crushed it with his heel.
" Wretched pedant ! Can your intellect be
deluded by such barefaced sophistries? ' God's
will,' forsooth ! And if your mother's opposition
is not a sign that God's will if it mean any-
thing except your own will, or that that man's
is against this mad project, and not for it,
what sign would you have? So ' celibacy is the
highest state!' And why? Because 'it is the
safest and the easiest road to heaven ? ' A pretty
reason, vicar! I should have thought that that
was a sign of a lower state and not a higher.
Noble spirits show their nobleness by daring the
most difficult paths. And even if marriage was
but one weed-field of temptations, as these miser-
able pedants say, who have either never tried it,
or misused it to their own shame, it would be a
greater deed to conquer its temptations than to
flee from them in cowardly longings after ease
and safety ! "
She did not answer him, but kept her face
buried in her hands.
"Again, I say, Argemone, will you fight
against Fate Providence God call it what
you will? Who made us meet at the chapel?
Who made me, by my accident, a guest in your
father's house? Who put it into your heart to
care for my poor soul ? Who gave us this strange
attraction towards each other, in spite of our
unlikeness? Wonderful that the very chain of
circumstances which you seem to fancy the off-
spring of chance or the devil, should have first
taught me to believe that there is a God who
guides us ! Argemone ! speak, tell me, if you
will, to go forever ; but tell me first the truth
You love me ! "
A strong shudder ran through her frame the
ice of artificial years cracked, and the clear
stream of her woman's nature welled up to the
light, as pure as when she first lay on her
mother's bosom : she lifted up her eyes, and with
one long look of passionate tenderness she fal-
"I love you!"
He did not stir, but watched her with clasped
hands, like one who in dreams finds himself in
some fairy palace, and fears that a movement
may break the spell.
"Now, go," she said; "go, and let me collect
my thoughts. All this has been too much for
me. Do not look sad you may come again
She smiled and held out her hand. He caught
it, covered it with kisses, and pressed it to his
heart. She half drew it back, frightened. The
sensation was new to her. Again the delicious
feeling of being utterly in his power came over
her, and she left her hand upon his heart, and
blushed as she felt its passionate throbbings.
He turned to go not as before. She followed
with greedy eyes her new-found treasure; and
as the door closed behind him, she felt as if
Lancelot was the whole world, and there was
nothing beside him, and wondered how a moment
had made him all in all to her; and then she
sank upon her knees, and folded her hands upon
her bosom, and her prayers for him were like the
prayers of a little child.
THUNDERSTORM THE FIRST
BUT what had become of the " bit of writing "
which Harry Verney, by the instigation of
his evil genius, had put into the squire's fly-book?
Tregarva had waited in terrible suspense for many
weeks, expecting the explosion which he knew
must follow its discovery. He had confided to
Lancelot the contents of the paper, and Lancelot
had tried many stratagems to get possession of it,
but all in vain. Tregarva took this as calmly as he
did everything else. Only once, on the morning of
the tclaircissement between Lancelot and Arge-
mone, he talked to Lancelot of leaving his place,
and going out to seek his fortune ; but some spell,
which he did not explain, seemed to chain him to
the Priory. Lancelot thought it was the want of
money, and offered to lend him ten pounds when-
ever he liked ; but Tregarva shook his head.
" You have treated me, sir, as no one else has
done like a man and a friend; but I am not
going to make a market of your generosity. I will
owe no man anything, save to love one another."
" But how do you intend to live ? " asked
Lancelot, as they stood together in the cloisters.
" There 's enough of me, sir, to make a good
navigator if all trades fail."
1 82 Yeast
" Nonsense ! you must not throw yourself away
" Oh, sir, there 's good to be done, believe me,
among those poor fellows. They wander up and
down the land like hogs and heathens, and no one
tells them that they have a soul to be saved. Not
one parson in a thousand gives a thought to them.
They can manage old folks and little children, sir,
but, somehow, they never can get hold of the young
men just those who want them most. There's
a talk about ragged schools, now. Why don't they
try ragged churches, sir, and a ragged service?"
" What do you mean? "
" Why, sir, the parsons are ready enough to save
souls, but it must be only according to rule and
regulation. Before the Gospel can be preached
there must be three thousand pounds got together
for a church, and a thousand for an endowment,
not to mention the thousand pounds that the
clergyman's education costs : I don't think of his
own keep, sir; that's little enough, often; and
those that work hardest get least pay, it seems to
me. But after all that expense, when they've built
the church, it 's the tradesmen, and the gentry, and
the old folk that fill it, and the working men never
come near it from one year's end to another."
"What's the cause, do you think?" asked
Lancelot, who had himself remarked the same thing
more than once.
" Half of the reason, sir, I do believe, is that
same Prayer-book. Not that the Prayer-book
ain't a fine book enough, and a true one; but
don't you see, sir, to understand the virtue of it,
the poor fellows ought to be already just what you
want to make them."
Thunderstorm the First 183
"You mean that they ought to be thorough
Christians already, to appreciate the spirituality of
the liturgy. "
" You Ve hit it, sir. And see what comes of the
present plan ; how a navvy drops into a church by
accident, and there he has to sit like a fish out of
water, through that hour's service, staring or
sleeping, before he can hear a word that he under-
stands ; and, sir, when the sermon does come at
last, it 's not many of them can make much out of
those fine book-words and long sentences. Why
don't they have a short simple service, now and
then, that might catch the ears of the roughs and
the blowens, without tiring out the poor thought-
less creatures' patience, as they do now? "
" Because," said Lancelot, " because I really
don't know why. But I think there is a simpler
plan than even a ragged service."
"What, then, sir?"
" Field-preaching. If the mountain won't come
to Mahomet, let Mahomet go to the moun-
" Right, sir ; right you are. ' Go out into the
highways and hedges, and compel them to come
in.' And why are they to speak to them only
one by one? Why not by the dozen and the hun-
dred ? We Wesleyans know, sir, for the matter
of that, every soldier knows, what virtue there
is in getting a lot of men together ; how good and
evil spread like wildfire through a crowd ; and one
man, if you can stir him up, will become leaven to
leaven the whole lump. Oh why, sir, are they so
afraid of field-preaching? Was not their Master
and mine the prince of all field-preachers? Think,
if the Apostles had waited to collect subscriptions
for a church before they spoke to the poor heath-
ens, where should we have been now?"
Lancelot could not but agree. But at that
moment a footman came up, and, with a face
half laughing, half terrified, said :
"Tregarva, master wants you in the study.
And please, sir, I think you had better go in
too ; master knows you 're here, and you might
speak a word for good, for he 's raging like a mad
" I knew it would come at last," said Tregarva,
quietly, as he followed Lancelot into the house.
It had come at last. The squire was sitting in
his study, purple with rage, while his daughters
were trying vainly to pacify him. All the men-
servants, grooms, and helpers were drawn up in
line along the wall, and greeted Tregarva, whom
they all heartily liked, with sly and sorrowful looks
" Here, you sir ; you , look at this ! Is this
the way you repay me? I, who have kept you
out of the workhouse, treated you like my own
child? And then to go and write filthy, rascally,
Radical ballads on me and mine ! This comes of
your Methodism, you canting, sneaking hypo-
crite ! you viper you adder you snake
you ! " And the squire, whose vocabulary
was not large, at a loss for another synonym,
rounded off his oration by a torrent of oaths ; at
which Argemone, taking Honoria's hand, walked
proudly out of the room, with one glance at Lan-
celot of mingled shame and love. " This is your
handwriting, you villain ! you know it " (and the
squire tossed the fatal paper across the table) ;
" though I suppose you '11 lie about it. How can
Thunderstorm the First 185
you depend on fellows who speak evil of their
betters ? But all the servants are ready to swear
it's your handwriting."
" Beg your pardon, sir," interposed the old but-
ler, " we did n't quite say that ; but we '11 all swear
it isn't ours."
" The paper is mine," said Tregarva.
" Confound your coolness ! He 's no more
ashamed of it than Read it out, Smith, read
it out every word ; and let them all hear how this
pauper, this ballad-singing vagabond, whom I have
bred up to insult me, dares to abuse his own
" I have not abused you, sir," answered Tre-
garva. " I will be heard, sir ! " he went on in a
voice which made the old man start from his seat
and clench his fist ; but he sat down again. " Not
a word in it is meant for you. You have been a
kind and a good master to me. Ask where you will
if I was ever heard to say a word against you. I
would have cut off my right hand sooner than
write about you or yours. But what I had to
say about others lies there, and I am not ashamed
"Not against me? Read it out, Smith, and
see if every word of it don't hit at me, and at my
daughters, too, by , worst of all! Read it
out, I say!"
Lancelot hesitated; but the squire, who was
utterly beside himself, began to swear at him
also, as masters of hounds are privileged to do ;
and Lancelot, to whom the whole scene was becom-
ing every moment more and more intensely ludi-
crous, thought it best to take up the paper and
1 86 Yeast
"A ROUGH RHYME ON A ROUGH MATTER.
" The merry brown hares came leaping
Over the crest of the hill,
Where the clover and corn lay sleeping
Under the moonlight still.
u Leaping late and early,
Till under their bite and their tread
The swedes, and the wheat, and the barley
Lay cankered, and trampled, and dead.
u A poacher's widow sat sighing
On the side of the white chalk bank,
Where under the gloomy fir-woods
One spot in the ley throve rank.
u She watched a long tuft of clover,
Where rabbit or hare never ran ;
For its black sour haulm covered over
The blood of a murdered man.
" She thought of the dark plantation,
And the hares and her husband's blood,
And the voice of her indignation
Rose up to the throne of God.
** ' I am long past wailing and whining
I have wept too much in my life :
I Ve had twenty years of pining
As an English laborer's wife.
u ' A laborer in Christian England,
Where they cant of a Saviour's name,
And yet waste men's lives like the vermin's
For a few more brace of game.
**' There 's blood on your new foreign shrubs, squire;
There 's blood on your pointer's feet ;
There 's blood on the game you sell, squire,
And there 's blood on the game you eatl ' "
Thunderstorm the First 187
" You villain ! " interposed the squire, " when
did I ever sell a head of game ? "
** ' You have sold the laboring man, squire,
Body and soul to shame,
To pay for your seat in the House, squire,
And to pay for the feed of your game.
44 ' You made him a poacher yourself, squire,
When you 'd give neither work nor meat ;
And your barley-fed hares robbed the garden
At our starving children's feet ;
u * When packed in one reeking chamber,
Man, maid, mother, and little ones lay ;
While the rain pattered in on the rotting bride-bed.
And the walls let in the day;
** * When we lay in the burning fever
On the mud of the cold clay floor,
Till you parted us all for three months, squire,
At the cursed workhouse door.
** ' We quarrelled like brutes, and who wonders ?
What self-respect could we keep,
Worse housed than your hacks and your pointers,
Worse fed than your hogs and your sheep ? ' "
"And yet he has the impudence to say he don't
mean me ! " grumbled the old man. Tregarva
winced a good deal as if he knew what was
coming next; and then looked up relieved when
he found Lancelot had omitted a stanza which
I shall not omit.
" ' Our daughters with base-born babies
Have wandered away in their shame ;
If your misses had slept, squire, where they did,
Your misses might do the same.
1 88 Yeast
" ' Can your lady patch hearts that are breaking
With handfuls of coals and rice,
Or by dealing out flannel and sheeting
A little below cost price ?
" ' You may tire of the gaol and the workhouse,
And take to allotments and schools,
But you Ve run up a debt that will never
Be repaid us by penny-club rules.
u ' In the season of shame and sadness,
In the dark and dreary day
When scrofula, gout, and madness
Are eating your race away ;
"'When to kennels and liveried varlets
You have cast your daughters' bread;
And worn out with liquor and harlots,
Your heir at your feet lies dead;
** * When your youngest, the mealy-mouthed rector,
Lets your soul rot asleep to the grave,
You will find in your God the protector
Of the freeman you fancied your slave.'
" She looked at the tuft of clover,
And wept till her heart grew light ;
And at last, when her passion was over,
Went wandering into the night
u But the merry brown hares came leaping
Over the uplands still,
Where the clover and corn lay sleeping
On the side of the white chalk hill."
" Surely, sir," said Lancelot, " you cannot sup-
pose that this latter part applies to you or your
" If it don't, it applies to half the gentlemen in
the vale, and that's just as bad, What right has
Thunderstorm the First 189
the fellow to speak evil of dignities ? " continued
he, quoting the only text in the Bible which he
was inclined to make a " rule absolute." " What
does such an insolent dog deserve? What don't
he deserve, I say?"
" I think," quoth Lancelot, ambiguously, " that
a man who can write such ballads is not fit to be
your gamekeeper, and I think he feels so him-
self; " and Lancelot stole an encouraging look at
" And I say, sir," the keeper answered, with an
effort, " that I leave Mr. Lavington's service here
on the spot, once and for all."
" And that you may do, my fine fellow ! " roared
the squire. " Pay the rascal his wages, steward,
and then duck him soundly in the weir-pool. He
had better have stayed there when he fell in
" So I had, indeed, I think. But I '11 take none
of your money. The day Harry Verney was
buried I vowed that I'd touch no more of the
wages of blood. I'm going, sir; I never harmed
you, or meant a hard word of all this for you, or
dreamt that you or any living soul would ever
see it. But what I've seen myself, in spite
of myself, I 've set down here, and am not
ashamed of it. And woe," he went on with an
almost prophetic solemnity in his tone and gesture
" woe to those who do these things ! and woe
to those also who, though they dare not do them
themselves, yet excuse and defend them who dare,
just because the world calls them gentlemen, and
not tyrants and oppressors."
He turned to go. The squire, bursting with
passion, sprang up with a terrible oath, turned
deadly pale, staggered, and dropped senseless on
They all rushed to lift him up. Tregarva was
the first to take him in his arms and place him
tenderly in his chair, where he lay back with glassy
eyes, snoring heavily in a fit of apoplexy.
"Go; for God's sake, go," whispered Lancelot
to the keeper, " and wait for me at Lower Whitford.
I must see you before you stir."
The keeper slipped away sadly. The ladies
rushed in a groom galloped off for the doctor
met him luckily in the village, and, in a few
minutes, the squire was bled and put to bed, and
showed hopeful signs of returning consciousness.
And as Argemone and Lancelot leant together
over his pillow, her hair touched her lover's, and
her fragrant breath was warm upon his cheek;
and her bright eyes met his and drank light from
them, like glittering planets gazing at their
The obnoxious ballad produced the most oppo-
site effects on Argemone and on Honoria. Arge-
mone, whose reverence for the formalities and the
respectabilities x>f society, never very great, had,
of late, utterly vanished before Lancelot's bad
counsel, could think of it only as a work of art,
and conceived the most romantic longing to raise
Tregarva into some station where his talents might
have free play. To Honoria, on the other hand,
it appeared only as a very fierce, coarse, and im-
pertinent satire, which had nearly killed her father.
True, there was not a thought in it which had not
at some time or other crossed her own mind;
but that made her dislike all the more to see those
thoughts put into plain English. That very in-
Thunderstorm the First 191
tense tenderness and excitability which made her
toil herself among the poor, and had called out
both her admiration of Tregarva and her extrava-
gant passion at his danger, made her also shrink
with disgust from anything which thrust on her a
painful reality which she could not remedy. She
was a stanch believer, too, in that peculiar creed
which allows every one to feel for the poor, except
themselves, and considers that to plead the cause
of workingmen is, in a gentleman, the perfection
of virtue, but in a workingman himself, sheer high
treason. And so beside her father's sick-bed she
thought of the keeper only as a scorpion whom
she had helped to warm into life; and sighing
assent to her mother, when she said, " That wretch,
and he seemed so pious and so obliging ! who
would have dreamt that he was such a horrid Rad-
ical ? " she let him vanish from her mind and out
of Whitford Priors, little knowing the sore weight
of manly love he bore with him.
As soon as Lancelot could leave the Priory,
he hastened home to find Tregarva. The keeper
had packed up all his small possessions and
brought them down to Lower Whitford, through
which the London coach passed. He was deter-
mined to go to London and seek his fortune. He
talked of turning coal-heaver, Methodist preacher,
anything that came to hand, provided that he
could but keep independence and a clear con-
science. And all the while the man seemed to
be struggling with some great purpose, to feel
that he had a work to do, though what it was, and
how it was to be done, he did not see.
"I am a tall man," he said, " like Saul the son
of Kish ; and I am going forth, like him, sir, to
find my father's asses. I doubt I sha'n't have to
look far for some of them."
"And perhaps," said Lancelot, laughing, "to
find a kingdom."
" May be so, sir. I have found one already, by
God's grace, and I 'm much mistaken if I don't
begin to see my way towards another."
"And what is that?"
" The kingdom of God on earth, sir, as well as
in heaven. Come it must, sir, and come it will
Lancelot shook his head.
Tregarva lifted up his eyes and said :
" Are we not taught to pray for the coming of
His kingdom, sir? And do you fancy that He
who gave the lesson would have set all mankind
to pray for what He never meant should come
Lancelot was silent. The words gained a new
and blessed meaning in his eyes.
" Well," he said, " the time, at least, of their ful-
filment is far enough off. Union-workhouses and
child-murder don't lo k much like it. Talking of
that, Tregarva, what is to become of your promise
to take me to a village wake, and show me what
the poor are like?"
" I can keep it this night, sir. There is a revel
at Bonesake, about five miles up the river. Will
you go with a discharged gamekeeper?"
"I will go with Paul Tregarva, whom I honor
and esteem as one of God's own noblemen ; who
has taught me what a man can be, and what I am
not," and Lancelot grasped the keeper's hand
warmly. Tregarva brushed his hand across his
eyes, and answered:
Thunderstorm the First 193
" ' I said in my haste, All men are liars ; ' and
God has just given me the lie back in my own
teeth. Well, sir, we will go to-night. You are
not ashamed of putting on a smock-frock? For
if you go as a gentleman, you will hear no more
of them than a hawk does of a covey of partridges."
So the expedition was agreed on, and Lancelot
and the keeper parted until the evening.
But why had the vicar been rumbling on all
that morning through pouring rain, on the top of
the London coach? And why was he so anxious
in his inquiries as to the certainty of catching
the up-train? Because he had had consider-
able experience in that wisdom of the serpent,
whose combination with the innocence of the dove,
in somewhat ultramontane proportions, is recom-
mended by certain late leaders of his school. He
had made up his mind, after his conversation with
the Irishman, that he must either oust Lancelot at
once, or submit to be ousted by him, and he was
now on his way to Lancelot's uncle and trustee,
the London banker.
He knew that the banker had some influence
with his nephew, whose whole property was
invested rh the bank, and who had besides a
deep respect for the kindly and upright practical
mind of the veteran Mammonite. And the vicar
knew, too, that he himself had some influence
with the banker, whose son Luke had been his
pupil at college. And when the young man lay
sick of a dangerous illness, brought on by de-
bauchery, into which weakness rather than vice
had tempted him, the vicar had watched and
prayed by his bed, nursed him as tenderly as a
mother, and so won over his better heart that he
became completely reclaimed, and took holy
orders with the most earnest intention to play the
man therein, as repentant rakes will often do,
half from a mere revulsion to asceticism, half
from real gratitude for their deliverance. This
good deed had placed the banker in the vicar's
debt, and he loved and reverenced him in spite
of his dread of "Popish novelties." And now
the good priest was going to open to him just as
much of his heart as should seem fit; and by
saying a great deal about Lancelot's evil doings,
opinions, and companions, and nothing at all
about the heiress of Whitford, persuade the
banker to use all his influence in drawing Lance-
lot up to London, and leaving a clear stage for
his plans on Argemone. He caught the up-train,
he arrived safe and sound in town, but what he
did there must be told in another chapter.
THUNDERSTORM THE SECOND
WEARY with many thoughts, the vicar
came to the door of the bank. There
were several carriages there, and a crowd of
people swarming in and out, like bees round a
hive-door, entering with anxious faces, and re-
turning with cheerful ones, to stop and talk ear-
nestly in groups round the door. Every moment
the mass thickened there was a run on the
An old friend accosted him on the steps :
" What ! have you, too, money here, then ? "
"Neither here nor anywhere else, thank
Heaven ! " said the vicar. " But is anything
"Have not you heard? The house has sus-
tained a frightful blow this week railway specu-
lations, so they say and is hardly expected to
survive the day. So we are all getting our money
out as fast as possible."
" By way of binding up the bruised reed, eh ? "
" Oh ! every man for himself. A man is under
no obligation to his banker, that I know of."
And the good man bustled off with his pockets
full of gold.
The vicar entered. All was hurry and anxiety.
The clerks seemed trying to brazen out their
own terror, and shovelled the rapidly lessening
gold and notes across the counter with an air of
indignant nonchalance. The vicar asked to see
"If you want your money, sir " answered
the official, with a disdainful look.
"I want no money. I must see Mr. Smith on