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MRS. DENYS OF COTE.



VOL. II.



BALLANTYNE, HANSON AND CO.
EDINBURGH AND LONDON



MRS. DENYS



OF COTE.



HOLME LEE,




AUTHOR OF " SYLVAN HOLt's DAUGHTEK," " STRAIGHTFORWARD," ETC



' Have we not all, amid life's petty strife,
Some pure ideal of a noble life

That once seemed possible — and just within our reach ?
We lost it. . . .

But still our place is kept, and it will wait
Ready for us to fill it, soon or late."

Adelaide Proctor,



IN THREE VOLUMES.



VOL. 11.



LONDON:
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACK

18S0.

\All rights rcserved.\






CONTENTS.



93oofe tfje ^Ifiiti — CoJitinned.

CHAP.

XVIII. MINGLED YARN

XIX. TWO OR THREE NEIGHBOURS

XX. VILLAGE POLITICS .

XXI. CONFLICTING INFLUENCES



PAGE
I

27

3S

56



3300& tf?e JFourtf).

THE REDEMPTION OF NAVESTOCK.
XXII. THE MEETING OF FRIENDS
XXI IL THE MEETING OF FOES .
XXIV. AT SAVES C(3URT .
XXV. WITHOUT CONDITIONS ?

XXVI. A S(ON AND HEIR .
VOL. II.



69

89

100

116

124"



VI



CONTENTS.



33oofe tfje Mti)*

THE OLD ORDER CIIANGETH.



CHAP.

XXVII. YEAR BY YEAR

XXVIII. WHICH WILL WIN.?

XXIX. THE ORCHARD

XXX. CROSS LIGHTS

XXXI. COUNSEL — GOOD AND EVIL

XXXII. A GARDEN SCENE

XXXIII. LAW AND GOSPEL

XXXIV. UNDER SENTENCE

XXXV. BEYOND RETRIEVAL

XXXVI. FRUIT IS SEED ,



180

206
225

256
275
289



BOOK THE THIRD.



COTE UNDER THE OLD ORDER

{Continuect^.



MRS. DENYS OF COTE.



CHAPTER XVIII.

MINGLED YARN.
i

/«■■

" A fame that is wounded to the world would be better cured by
another's apology than his own ; for few can apply medicines well to
themselves." — Ben Jonson.

The establishment of the Essex- Brouehs at
the Glen House was an epoch in Cote second
only in importance to the marriage of the
squire. They were rich people, but disarmed
envy by their readiness to share with their
neighbours the superfluity of the good things
of this world that they possessed. Mrs. Moth,
who had a large family of young people
wanting to be amused, made haste, and led

VOL. IL A



2 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

the way in calling at the Glen House — casually
remarking to an acquaintance whom she met
on the road, that perhaps Mr. Essex-Brough
was not a very nice person, and his wife was
a dreadful flirt, but they would entertain,
and she did not see that it mattered. Mrs.
Moth's example was followed. Before long,
everybody had called at the Glen House.
There was no solid, assignable reason why
they should not if they liked. Colonel and
Lady Laura Hayman called, who had not paid
Mr. and Mrs. Denys that compliment ; and
it was soon evident that the new-comers
would give a new tone to the village society,
but whether a better tone was yet to be
learnt. Hitherto everybody had been friendly.
None were so much above or below the rest
as to be left outside the pale. Mrs. Moth
was accustomed to call the society mixed,
but Mrs. Wilton, who took precedence of



MINGLED YARN. 3

Mrs. Moth, had ruled that it would be nothing
if not mixed ; and Mrs. Denys had shown her
practical agreement with Mrs. Wilton by bring-
ing together all the pleasant people and clever
people she could muster, without too much
regard to their rank and fortune, or whether
they lived in hired houses or in houses of
their own.

Christmas is the season when the elements
of society are fused, and the minor folk
expected some good parties at the two great
houses, in which reasonable expectation they
were not disappointed. John and George
Denys arrived at the Manor House in the
third week of December, and their little sister
arrived with them, escorted as before. Mrs.
Denys met them at the gate, beautiful and
beaming as if she had none but a happy
mother's thou'dits of children comlno; home.
She would not crlvc her heart time to ache



4 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

for Others at a distance. If she had hoped
for a sight of any of their faces, she knew
now that the hope was fooHsh. She belonged
to another family, and her place was by
another hearth, amidst a very different com-
pany, who, except one or two, were strangers
yet.

They had a riotous dinner the first evening,
for Mrs. Essex- Brough was Invited by special
request of the boys, and little Marie-Irene
claimed her seat next her father, and led the
conversation with a shrill. Incoherent volu-
bility that incited the big brothers to peals

of lauorhter.
<_>

Snow was a rare visitation at Cote, but
the starlit, dark sky and clear, keen air were
seasonable, and tempted nearly all of them
out-of-doors afterwards. Delia would, indeed,
have found herself alone by and by but
for Marie-Irene, and even she had a longing



MINGLED YARN. 5

to go with the rest, which was not quelled
without a bribe, and a promise of something
sweeter to come.

Delia had been warned of a surprise pre-
paring for her, and presently from the Dutch
ofarden under her window rose all their voices,
sineinof In unison an old German carol. And
to this music she was treated every night
they spent at home until Christmas was
turned. It was deli^^^htful in its wav, but
with a strain of melancholy. It always
set her dreaming of the last Christmas at
the House with Golden Gables, which she
had ceased to call koj)ie — a Christmas that
had been spoilt with vexed oppositions and
idle resentments. She knew that they would
talk of her, but while she could realise a com-
plete picture of them. It grieved her to think
that they could not in their mind's eye see her,
nor how she was surrounded — or solitary.



O MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

Yes, solitary. Though everybody was kind
and loved her, everybody was busy, and
had attractions away from her. Now she
learned what the graceful accomplishments of
life are worth, a thin or that she had never
quite realised or laid to heart before. Mrs.
Essex- Broueh knew so much, could do so
much, was so animated, various, and gay
with her singing and music, her painting and
play-acting. She could dance so long, could
ride so far and so fast, that the boys admired
her exceedingly, and even thought a little
scorn of their father's handsome young wife
because she did not care for waltzing, and
could resiorn Phoebus to them without a token

o

of being sorry. That was Delia's goodness.
Unless she had resigned Phoebus, both of
them would not have had a mount at com-
mand, which would have much diminished
their happiness. It made her glad to see



MINGLED YARN.

them enjoy themselves at Hberty as only
boys do, to see them ride off with their
father for the supreme pleasure of a day's
hunting, or go out sailing with the Todds
and Jack Blythe to try their skill against
the sea-birds that built by thousands in the
ledges of the cliffs. To see them troop away
to the Glen House carrying off little Marie-
Irene was not so cheery, but she recollected
what the Glen House was to them, and that
the sones she heard at niorht must be
practised.

" I wish I could take a part with you —
I wish I were more amusing," she said to
her husband once when they were leaving
her soon after breakfast.

He did not seem to hear — little Marie-
Irene was creatine a ereat bustle — and she
could not help feeling that he was a trille
negligent just then. The demand for strength



8 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

had come again in an unexpected form. Not
to be fanciful, not to be exacting, was her
present act of discipline.

" They are his children ; they will not
be with him so very long. It is small and
selfish to grudge them to one another," she
said to herself.

She watched them go from the window
over the door, and waved her hand to
George caracoling on Phoebus. Mr. Denys
looked back, and was not without his re-
flections.

Then a message was brought from the
Glen House to let her know that the young
people would not return until the afternoon.
'' If they do not return, neither will he," she
thought, and when the luncheon-hour was
past and he had not come, she went out
into the villao^e alone to find something for
herself to do.



MINGLED YARN. 9

Delia carried no heartache out of doors
with her. She was too stronor and too

o

buoyant to repine long under any pressure
less than pain, or positive calamity. For
a little while the idea of Danesmore as a
house shut up had weighed upon her, but
it served as a lesson to multiply her re-
sources, which she was putting now into
daily practice.

Nothing was further from Mr. Denys'
thoughts than to be negligent of his young
wife, but he loved a change of company
and conversation, and the proximity of Mr.
and Mrs. Essex-Brough at the Glen House
was sure to lead him to the resumption of
many old ways and habits. He was pro-
foundly impressed by some beautiful traits
in Delia's character, but not perfectly sym-
pathising with them, he had fallen into a
misconception of her motives, and behaved



lO MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

as if, like saints and other very good people,
she chose sacrifice because it was sweet to her.
Even so, he might sometimes have judiciously
interfered with her enjoyment of sacrifice :
Delia would have acquiesced in his over-
ruling. But just now there were several
near who diverted his thoughts, who preferred
pleasure to denial, and absorbed their share
of all that was going, and much of her share
too.

'' Mrs. Denys will have nothing to do with
our cruel sports and idle pastimes. She is
given up to good works. We are bound
to take pity on our old friend, Hugh Denys,"
was Mrs. Essex-Brouofh's view and version
of their frequent arrangements.

Mrs. Moth remarked that Mrs. Essex-
Brough had a nice way of putting it — too
nice for her belief.

There was no miserable penury at Cote — ■



MINGLED YARN. I I

it was beyond the stress and competition of
the world — but there was aboundinor ianorance
and small desire of useful knowledge. As
the squire's lady Mrs. Denys felt that it was
' her vocation to introduce it, and with a general
permission from the squire, she had set to
work with salutary vigour, and was trampling
on some venerable customs in the perform-
ance of her self-imposed task. She loved
to rule, and her law was likely to be the
law of kindness, but she was young, and
a new-comer to the place, and her active
virtues were imperfectly appreciated yet by
the supine authorities to whom they were
a rebuke. Old Crump, the agent, was in
two minds whether to like her or not. Crump
was familiarly called old not because of his
age but his decrepitude. He was crippled
with rheumatism, and hobbled always in
pain, helping himself with two sticks. His



12 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

clothing was that of a thrifty mendicant to
whom a charitable stranger might have
offered sixpence. He prowled about, always
lookine on the o^round, and muttering to
himself. When he lifted his head he showed
a surly, sagacious visage, shorn, perhaps, once
a week ; thick, grizzled brows depressed above
a pair of keen, suspicious eyes ; a forehead
massive as a wall ; great pendulous lips, and
lank fringes of grey hair. There was power
in his face and a humorous craft which Mrs.
Denys shrank from. She had been amazed
to find the manao^ement of Cote committed
to such hands, but when she ventured to
suggest that he should be pensioned and
superseded by a more suitable person, Mr.
Denys answered that he knew none more
suitable, — Crump was still up to his duties,
and forty years of devoted service consti-
tuted a claim that he was bound to respect.



MINGLED YARN. I 3

Mr. Denys had inherited Crump's services
with the estate. His former master had
taken him Into his employ as a cheap
servant whose necessities would make him
compliant.- The last of the old Denyses had
been strong for evil in the conviction that
he could never be as poor men are — bound
to labour for his bread and for little lapses
from Integrity liable to the rigour of the
law ; and long before Mr. Denys succeeded
to his kingdom the process of moral dis-
integration that a servant suffers under a
greedy, mean, and wasteful master was
accomplished In Crump. The agent trans-
ferred to the incoming squire that sort of
devotion to his interests that had been
exacted by the squire departed, and Mr.
Denys, perplexed and cumbered with other
matters, let him do unquestioned and uncon-
tradicted.



14 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

Crump was quick to feel that Mrs. Denys
did not like him, but he took her measure
fairly, and did her almost justice, recognising
in her the courage that it would have been
unsafe to ignore. He had the credit of a
rare tormentor amongst the feeble folk, but
he was much too prudent to try a fall with
his master's young wife by indulging in merely
vexatious hindrances. What he loved was
the solid fruits of power.

Mrs. Denys had acquiesced in her husband's
dictum without a word. Thouorh she felt for

o

Crump that repulsion which some higher
natures have for the lower, she gave him
as the man in office his due of civility,
which he repaid with elaborate deference.
Soon the lady learned that she could no more
afford to despise the old agent than he could
afford to defy her. Each tacitly acknow-
ledged in the other that force of character



MINGLED YARN. I 5

which makes Itself everywhere to be re-
spected or feared. Crump was the skilled
tool of eood work as well as bad, and Mrs.
Denys could not long resist the conclusion
that he did on the whole such work as he
found to be acceptable service. There was
a smarting humiliation In this which had
goaded her to tears before to-day. But it
was what she had to -bear — this learning,
for a surety, that her husband had made
power and not right his measure of justice
often ; and this afternoon she heard by
accident one of those corrosive sentences
of condemnation that bite into the memory
never to be effaced.

" No man could serve Mr. Dcnys of
Cote twelve months, and not get a bad
name, sir."

The voice was Crump's voice, in rejoinder
to some rebuke or taunt of Mr. Clarofes.

o



1 6 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

Mrs. Denys turned out of their way con-
founded. They saw her, both of them, at the
same instant, and separated with as much
precipitation as the lady had escaped.

Mrs. Denys went directly home again,
and shut herself in her boudoir adjoining
the room where Phoebe sewed, and was
sineine then to herself while the house
was deserted. None of them had returned
who had gone out together in the morning,
and the early winter twilight was creeping
on — the time and atmosphere for sad cogita-
tion. Delia wondered why a servant, loyal
according to his lights, should emit so
bitter a cry against his master. She
remembered certain words of the judge
that had stung her cruelly when they were
spoken, though she did not believe them.
She believed them now with a tingling of
shame and pity. The recollection carried



MINGLED YARN. I 7

her back to the House with Golden Gables.
She saw Cricket crouchinor over his book

o

in the bay-window, and glancing up, now
and then, with a wise sentence for anybody
who had ears to hear. She heard the
continuous click of her grandmother's knit-
ting-needles in the dusk, and the swift sound
of her mother's pen running on by the glow-
worm light of a little lamp in the trivial
daily record for her husband which dear
love made momentous. Phoebe's mono-
tonous sweet chant mingled with her mus-
ings, which wavered to and fro with sorry
regrets. Suddenly the servant came in to
light the room, not knowing she was there,
and surprised her with the cloud of tears in
her eyes.

*' Dear mistress, what ails you that you
fret ? " Phoebe said, standing before her —

a square, lean figure, a homely face of tlie
VOL. n. B



1 8 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

true peasant type. Mrs. Denys could have
no effectual concealments from her sagacious
little maid.

'' Nothlne, Phoebe. I think the world tires
me sometimes — that is all."

" There's no cure for that complaint, unless
it be bending one's mind more to one's duty
— and loving more."

'* And loving more ? You should be a
preacher of the Methodists, Phoebe. I wish I
had your heart. You are humble and thank-
ful. You toil through your round of reiterated
duties as holy service."

" My duties are sweet and easy — I desire
no better than I have. There are blessings
we don't stop to count when we have had
them always — food and fire, a roof over our
heads, and a warm bed to lie on. To go
amongst the poor, and see what it is to be
without them, to see trouble that hurts worse



MINGLED YARN. I 9

than ours, is a sermon that don't sHp soon
out of mind."

" Have you seen such trouble, Phoebe ?
Mr. Clarges says that there are no very
poor people here."

" There are no very bad poor people
here, but there are some very poor. It is
the clergyman's way to bid labourers be
content with their wages, and to help them
a bit when they fall sick. Help can never
come amiss in time of sickness even if
wages be fair, but wages are not fair here-
abouts, and some of the homes are dreadful.
The parish doctor could tell. He's been the
poor's best friend."

Phoebe s tone was become the tone of an
uncompromising advocate. Mrs. Denys was
not thoroughly acquainted with the village
yet. She had seen what looked like idle-
ness and thriftlcssness there, and was still



2 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

disposed to lean back on Mr. Clarges' report.
But Phoebe having begun to say, said on,
and assured her mistress that would not do.
Mr. Clarges was a kind and pleasant gentle-
man, but one of the old '' yea-lord " parsons
who found it easier to eive his half-crown
and preach patient forbearance to the poor
than to exhort the rich aeainst covetousness
and extortion. Mrs. Denys did not arrest
Phoebe's freedom of speech, but asked, when
she made an end, how she came to be so
prejudiced.

'' I belong to the Blythes at the Orchard,"
Phoebe said, speaking as if that was answer
and explanation enough.

Mrs. Denys recollected her husband's note
on the Blythes — " A good stock, but puritani-
cal — a perpetual reproach to their squires,"
and looked at her sturdy little maid with
a new discernment. Phoebe's face was ex-



MINGLED YARN. 2 I

pressive of nothing but sense and the sim-
plicity of goodness. At another moment
her mistress mio^ht have recommended her
to order herself more lowly and reverently
to her betters, but she understood now that
such advice was best omitted. Phoebe was
of a robust character. She went to church,
a born Dissenter without knowing it, her
opinion of parsons an opinion by ancient
inheritance. Mrs. Denys inquired for some
particular instance of the suffering through
poverty that Phoebe had made allusion to,
and Phoebe mentioned a family that had
come to Cote since Michaelmas, to work on
the Manor Farm, a family of six.

" And poverty is not the worst of their
misfortunes. They have been hardly used.
The man was committed to Beauminster
'sizes last summer for what he'd never done.
He lost his harvest, and was put out of



2 2 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

prison at the beginning of winter. They
came here beggared ; for nothing was given
him — not so much as to pay his way home to
where he'd worked before, nor any warrant
that he'd been falsely charged."

" But that seems very unjust. I think you
must be misinformed, Phoebe. I will ask 'Mr.
Denys to look into it."

*' The master is not a magistrate," Phoebe
said laconically. '' The man's a tenant of his
— Mr. Crump takes the rent."

Mrs. Denys was about to speak again
when there was a sound, a mellow whistle
from below. It was her husband returned
alone, but the rest were not likely to be
far behind. Delia, the cloud In her eyes
gone, ran downstairs to receive him.

Mr. Denys came forward and kissed her.
She said : *' How the boys at home would
laueh to see me answer to a whistle ! Mistress



MINGLED YARN. 23

Pride coming at call like any other humble,
affectionate creature ! "

" So she ought, an' she love me," said
her husband, and laughed with an intent
look in her eyes.

Delia blushed, conscious that they might
show tears, and hunor on his arm. There
was no actino^ in this. When he was there
it came to pass sornehow that her mind
let go the thoughts that had vexed her in
his absence. He did not like tears, and
she knew that, and would have hidden them.
He began to ask where she had been, and
what she had done since the mornincr. She
told him a part, but not the whole, and
that she did not tell him all he cruessed from
the shy, abrupt avoidance of her manner,
and her haste to quit the subject. She
beean to ask where he had been. He told
her that Georee and he had been to a



24 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

meet of the harriers at Marshleas, and had
ridden nearly as far as Danesmore.

As Mr. Denys talked he drew his wife
into his private room where he saw people
on business, and asked again how she had
amused herself since the morning. He did
not suspect her of falling into mischief, but
her manner provoked a suspicion of some
sort, and he had probably compunctious
visitings for having left her all the long
day alone. Now Delia had argued the case
with herself, and had decided that it was
wiser if possible never to let her husband
know when any old matter to his disad-
vantage was brought before her. If she had
been practised in evasions she might have
succeeded, but this time she failed signally.
Her face burned, and the tears, not chased
far from her eyes, re-filled them. Mr.
Denys' countenance was overcast. Happily



MINGLED YARN. 25

for them both, Deha was not a coward ;
and when she saw that there was no chance
of deceiving him for good, she took her
course with courao^e enouorh thouQ^h falter-
ingly, not being sure of his humour, which
was new to her.

" Hugh dear, don't be angry if I am
sorry because of some things that you did
before we were married. I seek nothing out,
only I see and hear. Let us be friends —
we shall do better t02:ether."

"What sort of things?" said Mr. Denys,
and his countenance cleared. *' Not capital
offences since they are so easily condoned."

Delia was dumb for a minute. It struck
her that her husband did not know —
absolutely did not know — on what a low
level of esteem he stood amongst his neigh-
bours and dependants, or perhaps he knew
more than he cared. But this thought would



26 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

not bear dwelling on in his presence. She
recurred to the theme of the day's sport.
She was always eager for new^s when Mr.
Denys had been where men congregated for
business or pleasure ; she was always hoping
something, she hardly knew what, but some-
thing that would o^ive ofreater brightness and
elevation to the scenery of their daily life.
He read her customary expectation in her
looks, and would fain have gratified it, but
he had nothing to tell that was likely to
gratify her; and the noisy advent of John
with little Marie-Irene released them from a
difficult moment.



( 27 )



CHAPTER XIX.

TWO OR THREE NEIGHBOURS.

"Men's thoughts are much according to their inchnation ; their
discourse and speeches according to their learning and infused opinions ;
but their deeds are after as tliey have been accustomed." — Bacon.

There was company at the Manor House
that evenincr, and Mr. Clar^-es was one of
the o^uests. No more eenial euest ever sat
at table, nor euest better bred. He let cro
on principle the things that were too hard
for him, and continued softly on his undis-
turbed way. He had been at Cote nearly
as long as the squire himself. His presenta-
tion to the living was Mr. Denys' first act
of independent power. He had heard him
preach, and had liked what he said ; and



28 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

they had been on terms all through the
difficult middle period of Mr. Denys' life.
The clergyman had the habits of a quiet
country gentleman, with a broad streak of
the heathen philosopher and some blending
of the theological virtues. He was not a
profound scholar nor a learned divine. To
compose a sermon was ever an effort with
him, but he did not shirk the task, and his
parishioners listening to him on Sunday in
the pulpit, heard precepts that squared very
fairly with what little they knew of him in
their work-a-day life.

Formerly, when Mr. Clarges was chal-
lenged to render a reason for his more than


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