'What?' she cried indignantly; 'do you think I could hear of such a
thing without trying to stop it?'
'Us says,' he blurted out, 'as how Winslows be always fain of ought
as happens to the Fordys - '
'We are not such wicked Winslows as you have heard of,' returned
Emily with dignity; and she rushed off in quest of papa and Griff,
but when she brought them to the bookroom, Amos had decamped, and
was nowhere to be found that night. We afterwards learnt that he
lay hidden in the hay-loft, not daring to return to his granny's,
lest he should be suspected of being a traitor to his kind; for our
lawless, untamed, discontented parish furnished a large quota to the
rioters, and he has since told me that though all seemed to know
what was about to be done, he did not hear it from any one in
It was no time to make light of a warning, but very difficult to
know what to do. Rural police were non-existent; there were no
soldiers nearer than Keynsham, and the Yeomanry were all in their
own homesteads. However, the captain of Griff's troop, Sir George
Eastwood, lived about three miles beyond Wattlesea, and had a good
many dependants in the corps, so it was resolved to send him a note
by the gardener, good James Ellis, a steady, resolute man, on
Emily's fast-trotting pony, while my father and Griff should hasten
to Hillside to warn the Fordyces, who were not unlikely to be able
to muster trustworthy defenders among their own people, and might
send the ladies to take shelter at Chantry House.
My mother's brave spirit disdained to detain an effective man for
her own protection, and the groom was to go to Hillside; he was in
the Yeomanry, and, like Griff, put on his uniform, while my father
had the Riot Act in his pocket. All the horses were thus absorbed,
but Chapman and the man-servant followed on foot.
Never did I feel my incapacity more than on that strange night, when
Emily was flying about with Martyn to all the doors and windows in a
wild state of excitement, humming to herself -
'When the dawn on the mountain was misty and gray,
My true love has mounted his steed and away.'
My mother was equally restless, prolonging as much as possible the
preparation of rooms for possible guests; and when she did come and
sit down, she netted her purse with vehement jerks, and scolded
Emily for jumping up and leaving doors open.
At last, after an hour according to the clock, but far more by our
feelings, wheels were heard in the distance; Emily was off like a
shot to reconnoitre, and presently Martyn bounced in with the
tidings that a pair of carriage lamps were coming up the drive. My
mother hurried out into the hall; I made my best speed after her,
and found her hastily undoing the door-chain as she recognised the
measured, courteous voice of old Mr. Fordyce. In a moment more they
were all in the house, the old gentleman giving his arm to his
daughter-in-law, who was quite overcome with distress and alarm;
then came his tall, slim granddaughter, carrying her little sister
with arms full of dolls, and sundry maid-servants completed the
party of fugitives.
'We are taking advantage of Mr. Winslow's goodness,' said the old
Rector. 'He assured us that you would be kind enough to receive
those who would only be an encumbrance.'
'Oh, but I must go back to Frank now that you and the children are
safe,' cried the poor lady. 'Don't send away the carriage; I must
go back to Frank.'
'Nonsense, my dear,' returned Mr. Fordyce, 'Frank is in no danger.
He will get on much better for knowing you are safe. Mrs. Winslow
will tell you so.'
My mother was enforcing this assurance, when the little girl's sobs
burst out in spite of her sister, who had been trying to console
her. 'It is Celestina Mary,' she cried, pointing to three dolls
whom she had carried in clasped to her breast. 'Poor Celestina
Mary! She is left behind, and Ellen won't let me go and see if she
is in the carriage.'
'My dear, if she is in the carriage, she will be quite safe in the
'Oh, but she will be so cold. She had nothing on but Rosella's old
The distress was so real that I had my hand on the bell to cause a
search to be instituted for the missing damsel, when Mrs. Fordyce
begged me to do no such thing, as it was only a doll. The child,
while endeavouring to shelter with a shawl the dolls, snatched in
their night-gear from their beds, wept so piteously at the rebuff
that her grandfather had nearly gone in quest of the lost one, but
was stopped by a special entreaty that he would not spoil the child.
Martyn, however, who had been standing in open-mouthed wonder at
such feeling for a doll, exclaimed, 'Don't cry, don't cry. I'll go
and get it for you;' and rushed off to the stable-yard.
This episode had restored Mrs. Fordyce, and while providing some of
our guests with wine, and others with tea, we heard the story, only
interrupted by Martyn's return from a vain search, and Anne's
consequent tears, which, however, were somehow hushed and smothered
by fears of being sent to bed, coupled with his promises to search
every step of the way to-morrow.
It appeared that while the Fordyce family were at dinner, shouts,
howls and yells had startled them. The rabble had surrounded the
Rectory, bawling out abuse of the parsons and their machines, and
occasionally throwing stones. There was no help to be expected; the
only hope was in the strength of the doors and windows, and the
knowledge that personal violence was very uncommon; but those were
terrible moments, and poor Mrs. Fordyce was nearly dead with
suppressed terror when her husband tried haranguing from an upper
window, and was received with execrations and a volley of stones,
while the glass crashed round him.
At that instant the shouts turned to yells of dismay, 'The so'diers!
Our party had found everything still and dark in the village, for in
truth the men had hidden themselves. They were being too much
attached to their masters to join in the attack, but were afraid of
being compelled to assist the rioters, and not resolute enough
against their own class either to inform against them or oppose
Through the midnight-like stillness of the street rose the tumult
around the Rectory; and by the light of a few lanterns, and from the
upper windows, they could see a mass of old hats, smock-frocked
shoulders, and the tops of bludgeons; while at soonest, Sir George
Eastwood's troop could not be expected for an hour or more.
'We must get to them somehow,' said my father and Griff to one
another; and Griff added, 'These rascals are arrant cowards, and
they can't see the number of us.'
Then, before my father knew what he was about - certainly before he
could get hold of the Riot Act - he found the stable lantern made
over to him, and Griff's sword flashing in light, as, making all
possible clatter and jingling with their accoutrements, the two
yeomen dashed among the throng, shouting with all their might, and
striking with the flat of their swords. The rioters, ill-fed, dull-
hearted men for the most part - many dragged out by compulsion, and
already terrified - went tumbling over one another and running off
headlong, bearing off with them (as we afterwards learnt) their
leaders by their weight, taking the blows and pushes they gave one
another in their pell-mell rush for those of the soldiery, and
falling blindly against the low wall of the enclosure. The only
difficulty was in clearing them out at the two gates of the drive.
When Mr. Fordyce opened the door to hail his rescuers he was utterly
amazed to behold only three, and asked in a bewildered voice, 'Where
are the others?'
There were two prisoners, Petty the ratcatcher, who had attempted
some resistance and had been knocked down by Griff's horse, and a
young lad in a smock-frock who had fallen off the wall and hurt his
knee, and who blubbered piteously, declaring that them chaps had
forced him to go with them, or they would duck him in the horse-
pond. They were supposed to be given in charge to some one, but
were lost sight of, and no wonder! For just then it was discovered
that the machine shed was on fire. The rioters had apparently
detached one of their number to kindle the flame before assaulting
the house. The matter was specially serious, because the stackyard
was on a line with the Rectory, at some distance indeed, but on
lower ground; and what with barns, hay and wheat ricks, sheds,
cowhouses and stables, all thatched, a big wood-pile, and a long
old-fashioned greenhouse, there was almost continuous communication.
Clouds of smoke and an ominous smell were already perceptible on the
wind, generated by the heat, and the loose straw in the centre of
the farmyard was beginning to be ignited by the flakes and sparks,
carrying the mischief everywhere, and rendering it exceedingly
difficult to release the animals and drive them to a place of
safety. Water was scarce. There were only two wells, besides the
pump in the house, and a shallow pond. The brook was a quarter of a
mile off in the valley, and the nearest engine, a poor feeble thing,
at Wattlesea. Moreover, the assailants might discover how small was
the force of rescuers, and return to the attack. Thus, while Griff,
who had given amateur assistance at all the fires he could reach in
London; was striving to organise resistance to this new enemy, my
father induced the gentlemen to cause the horses to be put to the
various vehicles, and employ them in carrying the women and children
to Chantry House. The old Rector was persuaded to go to take care
of his daughter-in-law, and she only thought of putting her girls in
safety. She listened to reason, and indeed was too much exhausted
to move when once she was laid on the sofa. She would not hear of
going to bed, though her little daughter Anne was sent off with her
nurse, grandpapa persuading her that Rosella and the others were
very much tired. When she was gone, he declared his fears that he
had sat down on Celestina's head, and showed so much compunction
that we were much amused at his relief when Martyn assured him of
having searched the carriage with a stable lantern, so that whatever
had befallen the lady he was not the guilty person. He really
seemed more concerned about this than at the loss of all his own
barns and stores. And little Anne was certainly as lovely and
engaging a little creature as ever I saw; while, as to her elder
sister, in all the trouble and anxiety of the night, I could not
help enjoying the sight of her beautiful eager face and form. She
was tall and very slight, sylph-like, as it was the fashion to call
it, but every limb was instinct with grace and animation. Her face
was, perhaps, rather too thin for robust health, though this
enhanced the idea of her being all spirit, as also did the
transparency of complexion, tinted with an exquisite varying
carnation. Her eyes were of a clear, bright, rather light brown,
and were sparkling with the lustre of excitement, her delicate lips
parted, showing the pretty pearly teeth, as she was telling Emily,
in a low voice of enthusiasm, scarcely designed for my ears, how
glorious a sight our brother had been, riding there in his glancing
silver, bearing down all before him with his good sword, like the
Captal de Buch dispersing the Jacquerie.
To which Emily responded, 'Oh, don't you love the Captal de Buch?'
And their friendship was cemented.
Next I heard, 'And that you should have been so good after all my
rudeness. But I thought you were like the old Winslows; and instead
of that you have come to the rescue of your enemies. Isn't it
'Oh no, not enemies,' said Emily. 'That was all over a hundred
'So my papa and grandpapa say,' returned Miss Fordyce; 'but the last
Mr. Winslow was not a very nice man, and never would be civil to
A report was brought that the glare of the fire could be seen over
the hill from the top of the house, and off went the two young
ladies to the leads, after satisfying themselves that Anne was
asleep among her homeless dolls.
Old Mr. Fordyce devoted himself to keeping up the spirits of his
daughter-in-law as the night advanced without any tidings, except
that the girls, from time to time, rushed down to tell us of fresh
outbursts of red flame reflected in the sky, then that the glow was
diminishing; by which time they were tired out, and, both sinking
into a big armchair, they went to sleep in each other's arms.
Indeed I believe we all dozed more or less before any one returned
from the scene of action - at about three o'clock.
The struggle with the flames had been very unequal. The long
tongues soon reached the roof of the large barn, which was filled
with straw, nor could the flakes of burning thatch be kept from the
stable, while the water of the pond was soon reduced to mud.
Helpers began to flock in, but who could tell which were
trustworthy? and all were uncomprehending.
There was so little hope of saving the house that the removal of
everything valuable was begun under my father's superintendence.
Frank Fordyce was here, there, and everywhere; while Griffith, like
a gallant general, fought the foe with very helpless unmanageable
forces. Villagers, male and female, had emerged and stood gaping
round; but, let him rage and storm as he might, they would not go
and collect pails and buckets and form a line to the brook. Still
less would they assist in overthrowing and carrying away the faggots
of a big wood-pile so as to cut off the communication with the
offices. Only Chapman and one other man gave any help in this; and
presently the stack caught, and Griff, on the top, was in great
peril of the faggots rolling down with him into the middle, and
imprisoning him in the blazing pile. 'I never felt so like Dido,'
That woodstack gave fearful aliment to the roaring flame, which came
on so fast that the destruction of the adjoining buildings quickly
followed. The Wattlesea engine had come, but the yard well was
unattainable, and all that could be done was to saturate the house
with water from its own well, and cover the side with wet blankets;
but these reeked with steam, and then shrivelled away in the intense
glow of heat.
However, by this time the Eastwood Yeomanry, together with some
reasonable men, had arrived. A raid was made on the cottages for
buckets, a chain formed to the river, and at last the fire was got
under, having made a wreck of everything out-of-doors, and consumed
one whole wing of the house, though the older and more esteemed
portion was saved.
CHAPTER XVIII - THE PORTRAIT
'When day was gone and night was come,
And all men fast asleep,
There came the spirit of fair Marg'ret
And stood at William's feet.'
When I emerged from my room the next morning the phaeton was at the
door to take the two clergymen to reconnoitre their abode before
going to church. Miss Fordyce went with them, and my father was for
once about to leave his parish church to give them his sympathy, and
join in their thanksgiving that neither life nor limb had been
injured. He afterwards said that nothing could have been more
touching than old Mr. Fordyce's manner of mentioning this special
cause for gratitude before the General Thanksgiving; and Frank
Fordyce, having had all his sermons burnt, gave a short address
extempore (a very rare and almost shocking thing at that date),
reducing half the congregation to tears, for they really loved 'the
fam'ly,' though they had not spirit enough to defend it; and their
passiveness always remained a subject of pride and pleasure to the
Fordyces. It was against the will of these good people that Petty,
the ratcatcher, was arrested, but he had been engaged in other
outrages, though this was the only one in which a dwelling-house had
suffered. And Chapman observed that 'there was nothing to be done
with such chaps but to string 'em up out of the way.'
Griff had toiled that night till he was as stiff as a rheumatic old
man when he came down only just in time for luncheon. Mrs. Fordyce
did not appear at all. She was a fragile creature, and quite
knocked up by the agitations of the night. The gentlemen had
visited the desolate rectory, and found that though the fine ancient
kitchen had escaped, the pleasant living rooms had been injured by
the water, and the place could hardly be made habitable before the
spring. They proposed to take a house in Bath, whence Frank Fordyce
could go and come for Sunday duty and general superintendence, but
my parents were urgent that they should not leave us until after
Christmas, and they consented. Their larger possessions were to be
stored in the outhouses, their lesser in our house, notably in the
inner mullion chamber, which would thus be so blocked that there
would be no question of sleeping in it.
Old Mr. Fordyce had ascertained that he might acquit himself of
smashing Celestina Mary, for no remains appeared in the carriage;
but a miserable trunk was discovered in the ruins, which he
identified - though surely no one else save the disconsolate parent
could have done so. Poor little Anne's private possessions had
suffered most severely of all, for her whole nursery establishment
had vanished. Her surviving dolls were left homeless, and devoid of
all save their night-clothing, which concerned her much more than
the loss of almost all her own garments. For what dolls were to her
could never have been guessed by us, who had forced Emily to disdain
them; whereas they were children to the maternal heart of this
She was quite a new revelation to us. All the Fordyces were
handsome; and her chestnut curls and splendid eyes, her pretty
colour and unconscious grace, were very charming. Emily was so near
our own age that we had never known the winsomeness of a little
maid-child amongst us, and she was a perpetual wonder and delight to
Indeed, from having always lived with her elders, she was an odd
little old-fashioned person, advanced in some ways, and comically
simple in others. Her doll-heart was kept in abeyance all Sunday,
and it was only on Monday that her anxiety for Celestina manifested
itself with considerable vehemence; but her grandfather gravely
informed her that the young lady was gone to an excellent doctor,
who would soon effect a cure. The which was quite true, for he had
sent her to a toy-shop by one of the maids who had gone to restore
the ravage on the wardrobes, and who brought her back with a new
head and arms, her identity apparently not being thus interfered
with. The hoards of scraps were put under requisition to re-clothe
the survivors; and I won my first step in Miss Anne's good graces by
undertaking a knitted suit for Rosella.
The good little girl had evidently been schooled to repress her
dread and repugnance at my unlucky appearance, and was painfully
polite, only shutting her eyes when she came to shake hands with me;
but after Rosella condescended to adopt me, we became excellent
friends. Indeed the following conversation was overheard by Emily,
and set down:
'Do you know, Martyn, there's a fairies' ring on Hillside Down?'
'Mushrooms,' quoth Martyn.
'Yes, don't you know? They are the fairies' tables. They come out
and spread them with lily tablecloths at night, and have acorn cups
for dishes, with honey in them. And they dance and play there.
Well, couldn't Mr. Edward go and sit under the beech-tree at the
edge till they come?'
'I don't think he would like it at all,' said Martyn. 'He never
goes out at odd times.'
'Oh, but don't you know? when they come they begin to sing -
'"Sunday and Monday,
Monday and Tuesday."
And if he was to sing nicely,
'"Wednesday and Thursday,"
they would be so much pleased that they would make his back straight
again in a moment. At least, perhaps Wednesday and Thursday would
not do, because the little tailor taught them those; but Friday
makes them angry. But suppose he made some nice verse -
'"Monday and Tuesday
The fairies are gay,
Tuesday and Wednesday
They dance away - "
I think that would do as well, perhaps. Do get him to do so,
Martyn. It would be so nice if he was tall and straight.'
Dear little thing! Martyn, who was as much her slave as was her
grandfather, absolutely made her shed tears over his history of our
accident, and then caressed them off; but I believe he persuaded her
that such a case might be beyond the fairies' reach, and that I
could hardly get to the spot in secret, which, it seems, is an
essential point. He had imagination enough to be almost persuaded
of fairyland by her earnestness, and she certainly took him into
doll-land. He had a turn for carpentry and contrivance, and he
undertook that the Ladies Rosella, etc., should be better housed
than ever. A great packing-case was routed out, and much ingenuity
was expended, much delight obtained, in the process of converting it
into a doll's mansion, and replenishing it with furniture. Some was
bought, but Martyn aspired to make whatever he could; I did a good
deal, and I believe most of our achievements are still extant.
Whatever we could not manage, Clarence was to accomplish when he
should come home.
His arrival was, as usual, late in the evening; and, as before, he
had the little room within mine. In the morning, as we were
crossing the hall to the bright wood fire, around which the family
were wont to assemble before prayers, he came to a pause, asking
under his breath, 'What's that? Who's that?'
'It is one of the Hillside pictures. You know we have a great many
things here from thence.'
'It is SHE,' he said, in a low, awe-stricken voice. No need to say
who SHE meant.
I had not paid much attention to the picture. It had come with
several more, such as are rife in country houses, and was one of the
worst of the lot, a poor imitation of Lely's style, with a certain
air common to all the family; but Clarence's eyes were riveted on
it. 'She looks younger,' he said; 'but it is the same. I could
swear to the lip and the whole shape of the brow and chin. No - the
dress is different.'
For in the portrait, there was nothing on the head, and one long
lock of hair fell on the shoulder of the low-cut white-satin dress,
done in very heavy gray shading. The three girls came down
together, and I asked who the lady was.
'Don't you know? You ought; for that is poor Margaret who married
No more was said then, for the rest of the world was collecting, and
then everybody went out their several ways. Some tin tacks were
wanted for the dolls' house, and there were reports that Wattlesea
possessed a doll's grate and fire-irons. The children were wild to
go in quest of them, but they were not allowed to go alone, and it
was pronounced too far and too damp for the elder sister, so that
they would have been disappointed, if Clarence - stimulated by
Martyn's kicks under the table - had not offered to be their escort.
When Mrs. Fordyce demurred, my mother replied, 'You may perfectly
trust her with Clarence.'
'Yes; I don't know a safer squire,' rejoined my father.
Commendation was so rare that Clarence quite blushed with pleasure;
and the pretty little thing was given into his charge, prancing and
dancing with pleasure, and expecting much more from sixpence and
from Wattlesea than was likely to be fulfilled.
Griff went out shooting, and the two young ladies and I intended to
spend a very rational morning in the bookroom, reading aloud Mme. de
La Rochejaquelein's Memoirs by turns. Our occupations were, on
Emily's part, completing a reticule, in a mosaic of shaded coloured
beads no bigger than pins' heads, for a Christmas gift to mamma - a
most wearisome business, of which she had grown extremely tired.
Miss Fordyce was elaborately copying our Muller's print of
Raffaelle's St. John in pencil on cardboard, so as to be as near as
possible a facsimile; and she had trusted me to make a finished
water-coloured drawing from a rough sketch of hers of the Hillside
barn and farm-buildings, now no more.
In a pause Ellen Fordyce suddenly asked, 'What did you mean about
'Only Clarence said it was like - ' and here Emily came to a dead
'Grandpapa says it is like me,' said Miss Fordyce. 'What, you don't
mean THAT? Oh! oh! oh! is it true? Does she walk? Have you seen
her? Mamma calls it all nonsense, and would not have Anne hear of
it for anything; but old Aunt Peggy used to tell me, and I am sure