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HELBECK OF BANNISDALE

VOLUME II.



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IIELBECK OF BANNISDALE



BY

MRS. HUMPHRY WARD



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. . . metus ille . . . Acheruntis . . .
Funditus humanam qui vitaai lurbat ab imo



IN TWO VOLUMES
VOL. II.



Neb] Hork
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

LONDON; MACMILLAN & CO., Ltd.

1899



All rights reserved



Copyright, 1898,
By the MACMILLAN COMPANY.



Set up and electrotyped May, 1898. Reprinted June, August, twice,
September, October, November, December, i8y8; Marcb, 1899.



NDlb300tl ?PVC33

J. S. Cushiiii; & Co. - BiTwk^k S; Smith

Norwood Mass. U.S.A.



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. V. Z.




CONTENTS




BOOK ITT (continued) ....


PAGE

3


BOOK IV


. 07


BOOK V


. 107



BOOK III

Continued



HELBECK OF BANNISDALE



CHAPTER II

" Look out there ! For God's sake, go to your
places ! "

The cry of the foreman reached the ears of the
clinging women. They fell apart — each peering into
the crowd and the tumult.

Mounted on a block of wood about a dozen yards
from them — waving his arm and shouting to the
stream of panic-stricken workmen — they saw the
man who had been their guide through the works.
Four white-hot ingots, just uncovered, blazed deserted
on their truck close to him, and a multitude of men
and boys were pushing past them, tumbling over each
other in their eagerness to reach the neighbourhood
of the furnace. The space between the ingots and
some machinery near them was perilously narrow.
At any moment, those rushing past might have been
pushed against the death-bearing truck. Ah ! another
cry. A man's coat-sleeve has caught fire. He is
pulled back — another coat is flung about him — the

3



4 HELBECK OF BANNISDALE

line of white faces turns towards him an instant-—
wavers — then the crowd flows on as before.

Another man in autliority conies iip also shouting.
The man on the block dismounts, and the two hold
j:apid colloquy. '^ Have they sent for Mr. Martin ? "
" Aye." " Where's Mr. Barlow ? " " He's no good ! "
" Have they stopped the mills ? " " Aye — there's
not a man'll touch a thing — you'd think they'd gone
clean out of their minds. There'll be accidents all
over the place if somebody can't quiet 'em."

Suddenly the buzzing groups behind the fore-
man parted, and a young broad-shouldered work-
man, grimed from head to foot, his blue eyes rolling
in his black face, came staggering through.

" Gie ma a drink," he said, clutching at the old
woman ; " an let ma sit down ! "

He almost fell upon an iron barrow that lay face
downwards on the path. Laura, sitting crouched and
sick upon the ground, raised her head to look at him.
Another man, evidently a comrade, followed him, took
the mug of cold tea from the old woman's shaking
hand, lifted his head and helped him drink it.

"Blast yer ! — why ain't it spirits?" said the
youth, throwing himself back against his companion.
His eyes closed on his smeared cheeks ; his jaw fell ;
his whole frame seemed to sink into collapse ; those
gazing at him saw, as it were, the dislocation and
undoing of a man.



HELBECK OF BANNISBALE 5

"Cheer up, Ned — cheer up," said the older man,
kneeling down behind him — " you'll get over it, my
]joy — it worn't none o' your fault. Stand back there,
you fellows, and gie im air."

"■ Oh, damn yer ! let ma be," gasped the young
fellow, stretching himself against the other's sup-
port, like one who feels the whole inner being of
him sick to death, and cannot be still for an instant
under the anguish.

The woman with the tea began to cry loudly and ask
questions. Laura rose to her feet, and touched her.

"■ Don't cry — can't you get some brandy ? " Then
in her turn she felt herself caught by the arm.

" Miss Fountain — Miss Laura — I can get you out
of this ! — there's a way out here by the back."

Mason's white countenance showed over her shoul-
der as she turned.

" Not yet — can't anyone find some brandy ? Ah ! "

For their guide came up at the moment with a
bottle in his hand. It was Laura who handed him
the mug, and it was she who, stooping down, put the
spirit to the lips of the fainting workman. Her mind
seemed to float in a mist of horror, but her will
asserted itself; she recovered her power of action
sooner than the men around her. They stared at the
young lady for a moment; but no more. The one
hideous fact that possessed them robbed all else of
meaniu"



6 UELBECK OF BANNISDALE

"Did lie see it?" said Laura to tlio man's friend.
Her voice reached no car but liis. Vnv they were sur-
rounded by two uproars — the noise of the crowd of
workmen, a couple of thousand men aimlessly surging
and shouting to each other, and the distant thunder of
the furnace.

"Aye, Miss. He wor drivin the tub, an he saw
Overton in front — it wor the wheel of his barrer
slipped, an soomthin must ha took him — if he'd ha
let goa straight theer ud l)in noa harm doon — bit he
mut ha tried to draw it back — an the barrer pulled
him right in."

" He didn't suffer ? " said Laura eagerly, her face
close under his.

"Thank the Lord, he can ha known nowt aboot it!
— nowt at aw. The gas ud throttle him. Miss, afore
he felt the lire."

"Is there a wife?"

"Noa — he coom here a widower three weeks sen —
there's a little gell "

" Aye ! they be gone for her an t' passon boath,"
said another voice ; " what's passon to do whan he
cooms ? "

"Salve the masters' consciences!" cried a third in
fury. " They'll burn us to hell first, and then quieten
us with praying."

Many faces turned to the speaker, a thin, wiry



HELBECE OF BANNISDALE 7

man, one of the " agitators " of the town, and a
dull groan went round.

" Make way there ! " cried an imperious voice, and
the crowd between them and the entrance side of
the shed began to part. A gentleman came through,
leading a clergyman, who walked hurriedly, with
eyes downcast, holding his book against his breast.

There was a flutter of caps through the vast
shed. Every head stood bared and bent. On went
the parson towards the little platform with the
railway. The furnace had sunk somewhat — its
roar was less acute — Laura looking at it thought
of the gorged beast that falls to rest.

But another parting of the throng — one sob ! —
the common sob of hundreds.

Laura looked.

''It's t' little gell, Ned! t' little gell!" said the
elder workman to the youth he was supporting.

And there in the midst of the blackened crowd
of men was a child, frightened and weeping, led
tenderly forward by a grey-haired workman, who
looked down upon her, quite unconscious of the
tears that furrowed his own cheeks.

'• Oh, let me — let me go I " cried Laura. The
men about her fell back. They made a way for
her to the child. The old woauin had disappeared



8 HELBECK OF BANNISDALE

In an instant Laura, as of right, took the place of
hor sex. Half an hour before she had been the
merest passing stranger in that vast company ; now
she was part of them, organically necessary to the
act passing in their midst. The men yielded her
the child instinctively, at once ; she caught the little
one in her sheltering arm.

" Ought she to be here ? " she asked sharply of
the grey-haired man.

"They're goin to read the Burial Service, Miss,"
he said, as he dashed away the mist from his eyes.
"An we thowt that the little un would like soom
day to think she'd been here. So I found her —
she wor in school."

The child looked roinid her in terror. The plat-
form in front of the furnace had been hurriedly
cleared. It was now crowded with men — masters
and managers in black coats mingled with work-
men, to the front the parson in his white. He
turned to the throng below and opened his book.

"7 am the Resurrection and the Life."

A great pulsation passed through the mob of
workmen. On all sides strong men broke down
and wept.

The child stared at the platform, then at these
faces round her that were turned upon her.

"Daddy — where's Daddy?" she said trembling,



HELBECK OF BANNISDALE 9

her piteous eyes travelling up and down the pretty-
lady beside her.

Laura sat down on the edge of a truck and drew
the little shaking creature to her breast. Such a
power of tenderness went out from her, so soft was
the breast, so lulling the scent of the roses pinned
into the lady's belt, that the child was stilled.
Every now and then, as she looked at the men
pressing round her, a passion of fear seemed to
run through her ; she shuddered and struggled in
Laura's hold. Otherwise she made not a sound.
And the great words swept on.

• •••••

How the scene penetrated ! — leaving great stab-
bing lines never to be effaced in the quivering
tissues of the girl's nature. Once before she had
heard the English Burial Service. Her father —
groaning and fretting under the penalties of friend-
ship — had taken her, when she was fifteen, to the
funeral of an old Cambridge colleague. She remem-
bered still the cold cemetery chapel, the gowned
mourners, the academic decorum, or the mild regret
amid which the function passed. Then her father's
sharp impatience as they walked home — that reason-
able men in a reasonable age should be asked to
sit and listen to Paul's logic, and the absurdities
of Paul's cosmical speculations !



10 11 EL BECK OF BANNISBALE

And now — from what movements, what obscurities
of change witliin herself, had come this new sense,
lialf loathing-, half attraction, that conld not withdraw
itself from the stroke, from the attack of this
Christian poetry — these cries of the soul, now from
the Psalms, now from Paul, now from the unknown
voices of the Church ?

AVas it merely the setting that made the difference

— the horror of what had passed, the infinite relief to
eye and heart of this sudden calm that had fallen on
the terror and distraction of the workmen — the
strangeness of this vast shed for church, with its
fierce perpetual drama of assaulting flame and tiying
shadow, and the gaunt tangled forms of its machinery

— the dull glare of that distant furnace that had
made so little — hardly an added throb, hardly a
leaping flame ! of the living man thrown to it half
an hour before, and seemed to be still murmuring and
growling there, behind this great act of human pity,
in a dying discontent ?

Whence was it — this stilling, pacifying power ?

All around her men were sobbing and groaning,
but as the wave dies after the storm. They seemed
to feel themselves in some grasp that sustained, some
hold that made life tolerable again. " Amens " came
thick and fast. The convulsion of the faces was
abating; a natural Imiiiau courage was flowing back
into contracted hearts.



HELBECK OF BANNISDALE 11

'' Blessed are the dead — for they rest from their
labours — " "as oxir hope is this our brother doth.^'

Laura shivered. The constant agony of the worki,
in its constant search for all that consoles, all that
eases, laid its compelling hand upon her. By a
natural instinct she wrapped her arms closer, more
passionately, round the child upon her knee.

" Won't she come ? " said Mason.

He and Seaton were standing in the downstairs
parlour of a small house in a row of work-
men's cottages, about half a mile from the steel
works.

Mason still showed traces, in look and bearing, of
the horror he had witnessed. But he had sufficiently
recovered from it to be conscious into the bargain of
his own personal grievance, of their spoilt day, and
his lost chances. Seaton, too, showed annoyance and
impatience ; and as Polly entered the room he echoed
Mason's question.

Polly shook her head.

" She says she won't leave the child till the last
moment. We must go and have our tea, and come
back for her."

" Come along then ! " said Mason gloomily, as he
led the way to the door.

The little garden outside, as they passed through



12 UELliECK OF BANiMSDALE

it, was crowded with women discussing the accident,
and every now and then a crowd would gather on the
pavement and disperce again. To each and all the
speakers, the one intolerable thing was the total disap-
pearance of the poor lost one. No body — luj clotlios

— no tangible relic of the dead: it was a sore trial to
customary beliefs. Heaven and hell seemed alike
inconceivable when there Avas no phantom grave-body
to nuike trial of them. One Avoman after another
declared that it would send her mad if it ever hap-
pened to any belonging of hers. " But it's a mercy
there's no one to fret — nobbut t' little gell — an she's
too sma'." There was much talk about the young lady
that had come home with her — "a nesh pretty-lukiu
yoong creetur " — to whom little Nelly clung strangely

— no doubt because she and her father had been so few
weeks in Frosvvick that there had l)een scarcely time
for them to make friends of their own. The child
held the lady's gown in her clutch perpetually,
Mr. Dixon reported — would not lose sight of her
for a moment. But the lady herself Avas only a
visitor to Eroswick, was being just taken through
the Avorks, Avhen the accident happened, and was to
leave the toAvn by an evening train — so it was said.
HoAvever, there Avould be those left behind Avho Avould
look after the poor lamb — Mrs. Starr, Avho had taken
the tea to the Avorks, and Mrs. Dixon, the Overtons'



IIELBECK OF BANNISDALE I'd

landlady. The}^ were in tlie house now ; but the lady
had begged everyone else to keep outside.

The summer evening crept on.

At half-past six Polly with Hubert behind her
climbed the stairs of the little house. Polly pushed
open the door of the back room, and Hubert peered
over her shoulder.

Inside was a small workman's room, with a fire
burning, and the window wide open. There were
tea-things on the table ; a canary bird singing loudly
in a cage beside the window; and a suit of man's
clothes with a clean shirt hanging over a chair near
the fire.

In a rocking-chair by the window lay the little girl
— a child of about nine years old. She Avas quite
colourless, but she Avas not crying. Her eyes still
had the look of terror that the sight of the works
had called up in them, and she started at every
sound. Laura was kneeling beside her, trying to
make her drink some tea. The child kept pushing
the tea away, but her other hand held fast to Laura's
arm. On the further side of the table sat tAvo elderly
women.

'^ Laura, there's only just time ! " said Polly softly,
putting her head through the door.

The child started painfully, and the cup Laura held
was with difficulty saved from falling.



1-4 IIELBECK OF BANNISBALE

Laura stooped and kissed the little one's cheek.

*' Dear, will you let me go now ? Mrs. Dixon will
take care of you — and I'll come and see you again
soon.''

Nelly began to breathe fast. She caught Laura's
sleeve with both hands.

" Don't you go, Miss — I'll not stay with her." She
nodded towards her landlady.

" Now, Nelly, you must be a good girl," said Mrs.
Dixon, rising and coming forward — she was a strange,
ugly woman, with an almost bald head — "you must do
what your poor papa wud ha wished you to do. Let the
lady go, an I'll take care on you same as one o' my
own, till they can come and take you to the House."

" Oh ! don't say that ! " cried Laura.

But it was too late. The child had heard the word
— had inider stood it.

She looked wildly from one to the other, then she
threw herself against the side of the chair, in a very
madness of crying. Now, she pushed even Laura
away. It seemed as though at the sound of that one
word she had felt herself indeed forsaken, she had
become acquainted with her grief.

Laura's eyes filled with tears.

Polly, standing at the dooi", spoke to her in vain.

" There's another train — Mr, Seaton said so ! "



IIELBECK OF BANNISDALE 15

Laura threw the words over her shoulder as though
in anger. Hubert Mason stood behind her. In her
excitement it seemed to her that he was dragging her
by force from this sobbing and shrieking misery
before her.

'' I don't believe he's right. I never heard of any
train later than the 7.10," said Mason, in perplexity.

" Go and ask him."

Mason went away and returned.

" Of course he swears there is. You won't get Seaton
to say he's mistaken in a hurry. All I know is I
never heard of it."

"He must be right," said Laura obstinately.
" Don't trouble about me — send a cab. Oh ! "

She put her hands to her ears for an instant, as
they stood by the door, as though to shut out the
child's cries. Hubert looked down upon her, hesitat-
ing, his face flushed, his eyes drawn and sombre.

"Now — you'll let me take you home, Miss
Laura? It'll be very late for you. I can get back
to-morrow."

She looked up suddenly.

"No, ?io.'" she said, almost stamping. "I can get
home alone quite well. I want no one."

Then she caught the lad's expression — and put her
hand to her brow a moment.

" Come back for me now at any rate — in an hour,"



16 UELBECK OF BANNISDALE

she'said in another voice. " Please take me to the train
— of course. I must go then."

" Oh, Laura, I can't wait ! " cried Polly from the
stairs — "I wish I could. But mother's sending Daf-
fady with the cart — and she'd be that cross."

Laura came out to the stairway.

" Don't wait. Just tell the carriage — mind " — she
hung over the banisters, enforcing the words — "tell
them that I'm coming by the later train. They're not
to send down for me again — I can get a cab at the inn.
Mind, Polly, — did yon hear?"

She bent forward, caught Polly's assent, and ran
back to the child.

An hour later Mason found Laura with little Nelly
lying heavily asleep in her arms. At sight of him
she put finger on lip, and, rising, carried the child to
her bed. Tenderly she put her down — tenderly kissed
the little hand. The child's utter sleep seemed to
soothe her, for she turned away with a smile on her
blanched lips. She gave money to Mrs. Starr, who
was to nurse the little one for a week, and then, it
seemed to Mason, she was all alacrity, all eagerness to
go.

" Oh ! but we're late ! " she said, looking at her
watch in the street. And she hastily put her head
out of the window and iuiplort^d the cabman to hurry.



EELBECK OF BANNISDALE 17

Mason said nothing.

The station, when they reached it, was in a Satur-
day night ferment. Trains were starting and arriv-
ing, the platforms were packed with passengers.

Mason said a word to a porter as they rushed in.
The porter answered ; then, while they fled on, the man
stopped a moment and looked back as though about to
run after them. But a dozen passengers with luggage
laid hands upon him at once, and he was left with no
time for more than the muttered remark :

" Marsland ? Why, there's no train beyond Brae-
side to-night."

"No. 4 platform," said Hubert to his companion.
" Train just going." Laura threw off her exhaustion
and ran.

The guard was just putting his whistle to his lips.
Hubert lifted her into her carriage.

"Good-bye," she said, waving to him, and disap-
peared at once into a crowd of fellow-passengers.

" Eight for Marsland ? " cried Hubert to the guard.

The guard, who had already whistled, waved his
flag as he replied :

" Marsland ? No train beyond the junction to-night."

Hubert paused for a moment, then, as the train was
moving briskly out, sprang upon the foot-board. A
porter rushed up, the door was opened, and he was
shoved in amid remonstrances from front and rear.

VOL. ]I. — C



18 UELBECK OF BANNISDALE

The heavily laden train stopped at every station
— was already nearly an hour late. Holiday crowds
got in and out; the platforms were gay with talk
and laughter.

Mason saw nothing and heard nothing. He sat
leaning forward, his hat slouched over his eyes. The
man opposite thought he had fallen asleep.

Whose fault was it ? Not his ! He might have
made sure ? Why, wasn't Seaton's word good
enough ? She thought so.

Why hadn't he made sure ? — in that interval be-
fore he came back for her. She might have stayed
at Froswick for the night. Plenty of decent people
would have put her up. He remembered how he had
delayed to call the cab till the last moment.

. . . Good God ! how could a man know what he
had thought ! He was fair moidered — bedazzled —
by that awful thing — and all the change of j)lans.
And there was Seaton's word for it. Seaton was a
practical man, and always on the railway.

What would she say — when the train stopped?
In anticipation he already heard the cry of the
porters — " Braeside — all change ! " The perspira-
tion started on his brow. Why, there was sure to
be a decent inn at Braeside, and he would do every-
thing for her. She would be glad — of course she
would be glad to see him — as soon as she discovered



H EL BECK OF BANNISDALE 19

her dilemma. After all lie was her cousin — her
blood relation.

And Mr. Helbeck? The lad's hand clenched. A
clock-face came slowly into view at a wayside station.
8.45. He was noAv waiting for her at Marsland.
For the Squire himself would bring the trap ; there
was no coachman at Bannisdale. A glow of fierce
joy passed through the lad's mind, as he thought
of the Squire waiting, the train's arrival, the empty
platform, the returning carriage. What would the
Squire think ? Damn him ! — let him think what
he liked.

MeauAvhile, in another carriage, Laura leant back
with shut eyes, pursued by one waking dream after
another. Shadow and flame — the whirling sparks —
the cry ! — that awful wrenching of the heart in her
breast — the parting crowd, and the white-faced
child, phantom-like, in its midst. She sat up, shaken
anew by the horror of it, trying to put it from her.

The carriage was now empty. All the other
travellers had dismounted, and she seemed to be
rushing through the summer night alone. For the
long daylight was nearly done. The purple of the
June evening was passing into the more myste-
rious purple of the starlight ; a clear and jewelled
sky hung softly over valleys with "seaward parted



20 HELBECK OF BANNISDALE

lips," over woods with the wikl rose bushes shining
dimly at their edge; over knolls of rocky ground,
crowned with white spreading farms ; over those
distant forms to the far north where the mountains
melted into the night.

Her heart was still wrung for the orphaned child
— prized yesterday, no doubt — they said he was
a good father ! — desolate to-day — like herself.
" Daddy ! — where's Daddy ? " She laid her brow
against the window-sill and let the tears come again,
as she thought of that trembling cry. For it was
her own — the voice of her own hunger — orphan to
orphan.

And yet, after this awful day — this never to be
forgotten shock and horror — she was not unhappy.
Rather, a kind of secret joy possessed her as the
train sped onward. Her nature seemed to be sink-
ing wearily into soft gulfs of reconciliation and re-
pose. Froswick, with its struggle and death, its
newness and restlessness, was behind her — she was
going home, to the old house, with its austerity and
peace.

Home ? Bannisdale, home ? How strange ! But
she was too tired to fight herself to-night — she let
the word pass. In her submission to it there was a
secret pleasure.

. . . The first train had come in by now. Eagerly,



.



HELBECK OF BANNISDALE 21

she saw Polly on the platform — Polly looking for the
pony cart. Was it old Wilson, or Mr. Helbeck ?
Wilson, of course! And yet — yet — she knew that
Wilson had been away in Whinthorpe on farm busi-
ness all day. And Mr. Helbeck was careful of the
old man. Ah well ! there would be something — and
someone — to meet her when she arrived. Her heart
knew that.

Now they were crossing the estuary. The moon
was rising over the sands, and those far hills, the
hills of Bannisdale. There on the further bank were
the lights of Braeside. She had forgotten to ask
whether they changed at the junction — probably the
Marsland train would be waiting.

The Greet ! — Its voice was in her ears, its many
channels shone in the flooding light. How near the
hills seemed! — just a moonlight walk along the
sands, and one was there, under the old tower and
the woods. The sands were dangerous, people said.
There were quicksands among them, and one must
know the paths. Ah ! well — she smiled. Hum-
drum trains and cabs were good enough for her to-
night.

She hung at the open window, looking down into
the silver water. How strange, after these ghastly


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