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as box — when, if he had only asked the ques-
tion, any child in the place could have told
him better.

In these latter days Old Crump enjoyed a
fair share of contentment. His clothing was
still of the thriftiest, and his razor was not
worn with extra service ; habits kept their
hold upon him, but as power dwindled his
neighbours were more friendly, and the suc-
cessful, sound progress of Cote was his con-
tinual feast. People thought it odd that Mr.
Denys regarded the old man so much, but
Mr. Denys never changed in his fidelity to his
accustomed servants. He spoke to Crump
first on many occasions yet, leaving him to
pass his orders on to the executive. He had



156 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

done so this very morning, pulling up at his
eate, and brlneine him out bare-headed to
receive certain instructions about the fixing
of notice-boards to the public where walks
through the fields were not rights of way.

** Strangers straggle three and four abreast
through the erowino^ corn, who ous^ht to know
better. They leave the gates open, and the
cattle stray. Giles complains that his sheep
are chased by boys with a dog. All that
idle mischief must be stopped, or everybody's
liberty of roaming in the fields and woods
will have to be curtailed."

The squire was peremptory. Some of the
beautiful ercen walks would have been closed
at this time but for Mrs. Denys' intercession.
She pleaded that the country was necessary
to the comfort of visitors and the prosperity
of the townsfolk, and that it was hard to punish
all for the folly of a few. She had written out



ONE DAY IN COTE. 1 57

the notices herself, and Crump was delighted
with the precision of their terms. He was on
his morninof round now to eive orders at the
carpenter's shop for the construction of the
boards and posts, and to deposit with the
painter copies of the lady's handwriting.

The blast of a horn and the clatter of wheels
made him stand and look back. It was the
yellow break with four horses that belonged
to the inn, chartered for the day by Captain
Meade to give the young Consetts and their
friends a treat. The vehicle was as full as it
would cram. Captain Meade himself was in
command, with Harry Consett for lieutenant
blowing the horn from the box-seat, and Hugh
Oliver Denys for guard hanging on at the
rear. Not far behind followed an open car-
riage, also well filled, with Mrs. Consett In
charge, and Marie- Irene sitting by her. Tom
Rose trotted alongside on a rather sorry nag,



158 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

but In capital spirits, though this was the last
day, and the wind-up of his holiday. Every-
body did as Old Crump did, and stood to watch
until the expedition disappeared down the hill
on the road to Cambourne, leaving a long trail
of musical echoes behind it.

"Going a - pleasuring, the young folks,"
called out to the agent with a big voice from
the distance another of the Todds — Ben, an old
blue-jacket who had seen the world, and done
wonders before he retired from the sea. *' It's
good to be young, and go a-pleasuring, Mr.
Crump."

" Ay, and it's good to be old, to have done
your duty, and to live at ease on a pension,
Ben Todd," was Crump's reply, and he halted
on his sticks with a tendency to linger and talk
as Ben drew near; for Ben was famous for
conversation, and seemed in the vein.

But to them arrived before their compliments



ONE DAY IN COTE. 1 59

of greeting were over a stranger in Cote, "an
innyvator," as the ancients called him, who
advertised himself as a general agent, and was
probably the person responsible for the advent
of The Newsboy. The innovator took off his
hat with obsequious respect, and a bend of his
whole body. Crump glowered at him, and
looked danoferous.

'' Now what may you be wanting next, Mr.
Crowe ?" he demanded with sulky deprecation,
as if Mr. Crowe's requisitions were unreason-
able and vexatious, yet not too lightly to be
denied.

" I am wanting nothing just at present, Mr.
Crump, sir, unless it be a little patience, and I
see you've none to spare," Crowe answered,
not abating his deferential graces, but convey-
ing a very disagreeable impression by his tone
and smile.

" I've told you already that you'll be just



l60 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

thrown away In Cote, Mr. Crowe," Crump re-
joined. *' Cote ain't at all the field for your
remarkable talents. You'd a deal better carry
'em to Cambourne. There's a fine opening for
a reformer there. Cote is backward."

^' Backwm^d ! I believe you," Crowe re-
torted, and shook his head as if an awful
state of things was beinof revealed to his inner
consciousness. "It's twenty years behind the
age ! It's a country village yet ! No pier, no
beautiful stuccoed mansions, no slated houses
— just your old tiles and thatch, and plain
bricks and stone that you're forced to hide up
with ivy and flowers to make 'em pass. Cote
is the old fashion'dlst place I was ever in.
Backward, indeed — backward's no word for
it!"

Ben Todd's wrath had been brewing from
the moment of Crowe's appearance on the
scene. "Backward yourself! owld-fashioned



ONE DAY IN COTE. l6l

yourself ! " growled he like an aged mastiff
preparing to tackle an assailant. *' If Cote
ain't got no iron grid to call it a pier, nor
no stucky mansions to mildew an' stan' empty,
it's because we're had more wit nor to build
'em. You'd better be off to wherever you
came from. You'll find nought to please you i'
Cote. Cote don't belong to you, nor you to
Cote. Cote 'ud rether hev your room than
your company. There's not a chink where
you'll fit in. Cote's ruled by law and Gospel
now, whatever it may ha' been i' the former
times. We ain't got no abuses to ventilate.
We ain't got nothing partickler to grummle at,
unless it be the weather that blows hard when
the ladies wants to picnic on the water, and I
don't expec' the Newsboy s, got much interest
wi' the clerk o' the weather. It's not likely
when the parsons hasn't : I've heerd 'em pray
for a change o' weather i' church, an' no

VOL. III. L



1 62 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

notice taken." Ben paused for breath, con-
templated by Mr. Crowe with a compassionate
eye.

" Sir," said the innovator with mournful
emphasis — " sir, there's no social peril so peril-
ous as resting satisfied with things as they be!'

Ben's breath had returned to him, and he re-
plied with deep sarcastic intention : " I reckon
that depends on how they be. Cote won't rest
satisfied long wi' yoit, if you be what I take you
fur, Mr. Crowe. If you're well advised you'll
move on to Cambourne. At Cambourne
they've got a Lokll Bor' to peck at, wish 'em
joy on him, an' a whole battalion o' spies an'
troubles. There's a heap o' folks Squire
Midas don't suit, that can no more change him
than the nose on their faces. Midas ain't done
well by hisself, an' folks has given up speaking
well of him. You go to Cambourne, Mr.
Crowe, an' help 'em, an' as likely as not you'll



ONE DAY IN COTE. 1 63

get a silver mug given. Chaps is often getting
mugs given at Cambourne — happen you'll be
next. We don't eive mus^s at Cote. We finds
it cheaper to keep the peace. We finds it
pays better to do our duty all round, an' to be
o' one mind i' Cote, than to fall out an' fight,
an' mek it up again wi' a subscription for a



mug.



" Just so. You are all of one mind to
choose darkness rather than light, and Cote
is without gas — without gas,'' Crowe repeated
in the manner of a man who urges a great
accusation.

Old Crump glowered more dangerously than
before, and chaffered faster with his blue lips ;
for, indeed, the lack of gas had been felt as a
flaw in the perfections of Cote. Ben Todd
was more on a level with the occasion. He
laughed derisively, pointing the finger of scorn
at the innovator. " Why, man, where have



164 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

you been tarrying this long while not to know
that Cote's waitinof till that beautiful Invention
that's to put gas out is tried up In London ?
When they've tried It up I' London, Cote 'ull
take to It direckly — Cote ain't going to be put
off wl' aueht that's second-best at this time o'
day. But If that beautiful Invention don't
quite act at fust — why, then, we may get a gas-
works — just for a mekshlft, d'ye see ? "

Crowe was both Impressed and perplexed..
He had not heard of the new Invention that
was to put gas out, and was not ready with
a reply. While he hesitated for Inspiration
Crump took the opportunity of retreating, and
Ben Todd followed, flinging a last taunt at his
adversary: "There's gas at Cambourne — awful
bad-smelling gas. There's everything at Cam-
bourne to mek a man like you happy, Mr.
Crowe. You hurry off. Your hair's growed
a bit, but It's not much out of the fashion for



ONE DAY IN COTE. 1 65

them as likes it clipped close. Cote'll not miss
you. I don't know as I shall put on mourning
myself, but if I do you'll be sure to hear on it."

The quiet time of day at Cote was in the
afternoon, while the sun was still hot, and the
shadows were not deep enough for the pleasant
sense of shade. The shopkeepers on the
south side of the Green Square were the first
to draw their awnings up, and at four o'clock,
here and there, a figure might be seen stand-
ing in the doorways, looking out for the
revival of life that always began towards five.
The earliest to come out were the young
ladies, picturesquely equipped and costumed
for the archery or tennis ground, attended or
shortly followed by young gentlemen, similarly
accoutred. Next to appear were family groups,
often with a patient ass and panniers in their
midst, returning home with plumes of fern and



1 66 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

foxglove from a children's picnic in the
woods. Instantly, on the stroke of half-past
five, all the trades that help In building struck
work ; and a numerous gang, coming down
from the new church, filed off across the Green
Square. More slowly trudged the old fellows,
gardeners by the day, who eked out the
remnants of life with odd shillings, and refused
to sit down and be idle while the strength
to do a hand's-turn was left them.

One of these last, Matthew Burt, mole-
catcher in the peninsula these sixty years,
had appointed a meeting with Old Crump on
business under the great elm-tree at the hour
of leaving work, to save useless steps. True
to time, the agent came up as the other was
sittine down and stretchincr his loner lean
limbs with a sense of welcome rest.

There was a question of Burt's cottage and
garden, relics of antiquity to which the old



ONE DAY IN COTE. 1 6/

man clung with the tenacity of a life-long

occupation. A new-comer to Cote wanted

them to complete his domain, and Mr. Denys

had said he must make his own baro^ain with

<_>

Burt. It was not his practice now to disturb
any old tenant who wished to keep his hold-
ing. If rich men coveted Naboth's vineyard,
it was open to them to buy Naboth out, but
not to take his vineyard by law or by might.
The stranger had offered Burt a pension of
six shillings a week to give up his cottage,
and Crump, who was always In favour of
Improving an opportunity, wished to persuade
him that he would be more comfortable
with the money living In lodgings and cared
for by a decent neighbour, than he was
living alone In his solitary cottage at Copse
Row, half a mile from the village. Burt
could not see It.

They sat down to have their talk side by



1 68 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

side on the bench enclrclinof the o^reat elm-
tree, and having sat down were in no haste to
move again. They began their discussion with
some vigour— Crump opened the business.

" If you don't want to go, you are free
to stay. You have only to say so, and there's
an end. But you'll stand In your own light
— that's my opinion, Matthew Burt, if you
care to know it. You are getting into years."

" Eighty-two, Mr. Crump, eighty-two, come
Martinmas — if I live to see it."

" That's a long age, Matthew Burt : a man
can't expect to feel young after eighty-two,
though he may get about, and do a tidy bit
o' work when the weather's favourable. And
you'd be better off in the decline o' life with
a quiet widow-woman such as Mrs. Trotter
is to 'tend on you, than left all alone by
yourself up at Copse Row."

" I've never been left to myself, Mr. Crump,



ONE DAY IN COTE. 1 69

never. Them that belonged to me is all gone,
an' I've missed em, but I've never been left
to myself. The ould parson, he's very good ;
he comes up ofttimes, an' sits down, an' says
a word, pondering-like — as if the gret mys-
teries was no clearer to him than to me ; an'
then he speaks cheerful — ' This we know,
Burt, them that love God, God loves,' he says,
an' gives me a shake o' the hand, an' goes.
I'm always happier when ould parson's been.
And it seems to me when I'm alone most, in
the nieht, when I cret thinkinor q' them that's
gone, an' feel mournful, there's a some one
comes, an' Stan's by me — as it might be my
Saviour. I should be better satisfied to stop
at home, Mr. Crump, an' die there. When I
set the door open I see the last o' the sunset —
it would not be nat'ral not to see the last
o' the sunset, and Mrs. Trotter's door looks
t'other way."



170 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

" Then we'll let the thing drop, Matthew
Burt. What the squire said was : ' Let him
ofo of his o^oodwill or not at all.' "

'' Squire could put me out by law, Mr.
Crump ? "

"He could so, and would have done it with-
out twice thinking^ once. But he's learned a
different way."

'* The law's a poor imperfect instrument to
do right by, Mr. Crump."

" I was never one that reckoned much o'
the law, but a deal depends on the handling.
There's some vei*y queer law i' the peninsula.
I'd rather let a small thief q-q than brinof him
up before Rowboro' bench. Squire Midas
ain't much of a man to ha' taken old Sir
Martin Deane Foxe's seat."

" I've known Squire Midas a many years.
He don't mean so badly as he sometimes does ;
but I can't name a man, high or low, that I've



ONE DAY IN COTE. T71

felt to pity more than Squire Midas — an' so
proud an pleased as he used to be wi' himself.
First an' last, I'd rether hev the portion God's
given me, Mr. Crump."

When the old men's talk diverged into
general matters, it fell into frequent rests and
pauses. The mole-catcher was hungry for his
supper, but he lingered respectfully until Mr.
Crump should give the sign to move. The air
was very still and delicate. All looked beau-
tiful : the clear, pale blue of the sky, the full
deep green of the verdure, the softened outlines
and lonof slantincr shadows of the houses, that
began to stretch across the square. All felt
peaceful. Any noise there was came from a
long way off. Old Crump gazed into the
distance, dimly, drowsily, thinking of nothing.
Figures were appearing by twos and threes
for their evening walk, but they were few yet,
and their feet rang on the pavement.



172 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

" What's yon ? " Crump said, suddenly wak-
ing up, and lifting his head to listen. '' A
runaway horse ? "

Matthew Burt lifted his head, and listened
too. The sound was too regular, marked, and
even for a horse running away, but somebody
was ridinor hard on the road, and cominof
towards the town.

Crump stood up, supporting himself on his
sticks, and bending all his attention on the
swift rider. "My mind misgives me that
some accident's happened to that party of
young folks that went a-pleasuring this morn-
ing," he muttered — all his thoughts centred
on the squire's son.

The messenger rode into the Green Square
at a hand-gallop. The sleepy stillness was
broken. All at once the place was astir. The
people poured out of their houses to see and
hear what was up. The messenger drew rein



ONE DAY IN COTE. I 73

at the gate of the inn : he was not known
there, but he rode a good horse of the squIre^s,
and its wet flanks declared the pace they had
kept.

Crump had hobbled that way and overheard
him ask at what hour the break was timed to
be back that had carried Captain Meade's
picnic party out beyond Cambourne. It was
timed to be back at nine o'clock. Not till nine
o'clock, and it was only seven now ! He
trotted round to the Manor House, and stopped
a minute at the doctor's door in passing. The
doctor appeared without his hat, and took
his orders himself. In a quarter of an hour
he was off.

'* There goes Dr. Swift," said the people
standing about exchanging speculations and
imperfect intelligence, and Crump observed
that Crowe was speeding after him.

Presently a groom, well mounted and leading



174 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

another horse, passed at a sharp trot through
the Green Square — despatched from the Manor
House to intercept young Denys on the road
home, and to carry him across country to
where he was wanted. That incident told a
story. Soon afterwards the hght vehicle that
went to Rowborough Market on Saturdays
drove by, conveying Mr. Knapp and Mrs.
Brice.

Crump had spoken to no one, and now he
started to hobble homewards alone. When
he got indoors, and was sat down in his chair,
he said to his niece, who lived with him and
kept his house : " Some misfortune's befallen
the squire. I cannot go to him — I'm too old
and feeble. If it is the end of the curse,
I've lived lonof enough."



( 175 )



^Vm



-S^'






CHAPTER XLIV.

"HERE WE PART COMPANY."

" Do not shudder and do not fear,
Hold your breath
For a kingly presence is drawing near.

' Blessed is he that cometh
In the name of the Lord.' "

Adelaide Proctor.

At the same hour of the evenino-, in the
ground -floor room of a roadside inn, Mr.
Denys lay, struck down in the plenitude of
strength, looking death in the face fearlessly
as he had looked most things that had met him
in his course. His wife was with him, helpless
unless by her tender patience. It was so still
in the room that the beat of the clock in the
kitchen across the passage might have been
counted — unconsciously between whiles Delia



176 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

did count it, and the thing that had happened
seemed as old as all knowledofe.

The place was mid-way betwixt Navestock
and Beauminster, or a little nearer the city.
The principal surgeon at the hospital there had
been sent for post-haste, had come, and was
anxious to be gone again post-haste, too busy
to spend precious time there, where he could
do no o^ood.

*' I have got my death. I feel that the
wound is mortal," Mr. Denys had said to
him.

A very brief examination, and the surgeon
said : '' Yes, it is indeed mortal." To the
woman of the house he whispered : " It is of
no use teasing him. Keep the flies from his
face."

At that instant Mrs. Denys arrived with Mr.
Arthur Meade. She was intensely still and
self- controlled. She knew the surgeon by



"HERE WE PART COMPANY. 1 77

sight, and stopped before him. Question and
answer were o-Iven in the exchange of a silent
look. To Mr. Meade the gentleman spoke
a few words with his foot in the stirrup : *' It
is murder, they say, and the police have taken
a man. You are a magistrate, and a clergy-
man too ? Then I leave the business in your
hands. One of my assistants had orders to
follow me, and here he comes. He will remain
in the house to render any succour that is pos-
sible — Mr. Denys will not see the morning."

Delia had passed straight Into the room.
Her husband held out his hand to her : " I
made my way here from the Three Beeches :
it was the nearest place. You have been very
quick, love," he said with an eager, pitiful
kindness and thankfulness.

" I sent your messenger on to Cote, to bring
Huahle."

o

** Quite right, quite right. You met Blox-

VOL. III. M



178 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

ham going out ? Then you know my sen-
tence."

DeHa made a sign, but could not speak



agam.



" Don't cry, Delia ; I had my warning, and
expected this. Thank God for an easy death
— and I leave you your boy."

Delia had no thought of herself, only of her
husband. On his face it was written that
doom was come, and no time to waste.

" Take your hat off, and sit down near me
— here where I can see you : I want you to
mind two or three things I had forgotten," he
said.

A huge chintz - covered squab had been
drawn away from the wall, and on that Mr.
Denys lay prone. His wife took the place
he showed her, the corner of a low seat in the
window, a wide lattice sunk in the thickness
of the wall, from which some plants in pots



"HERE WE PART COMPANY. 1 79

had been removed, and set upon the floor.
He could see her there between him and the
light, could see her tears falling, and hold her
hand — fifteen years that day since he married
her, his wife who had been tender and constant
and patient always.

It was a very old house, the first stage out
of Beauminster in coaching days, and much
decayed and sunk in the world now. But the
room was spacious and cool with both leaves
of the lattice open, and, looking towards the
north, had the glow of sunset without its glare.
A garden gay with common flowers lay under-
neath, and when Delia's eyes once sought a
moment's relief from the ghostly semblance
of her husband's face, she saw gillyflowers, and
pinks, and tall pale columbines hanging their
heads. And she saw Mr. Meade and the
surgeon's assistant, who had taken refuge in
-a wild hop and honey- suckle arbour from the



l8o MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

fervour of the kitchen iire, talking energetically
too^ether.

Mr. Denys had requested to be left with
his wife alone. The one or two things he had
foro-otten and wanted her to mind were told

o

brokenly, at intervals, as he found strength,
or as lapsing memory caught at the threads
that were tangled and slipping away.

Marie- Irene was very present to him —
Delia was to let Marie- Irene 2:0 into retreat
at her convent for a little while if she desired
to do so : " And whatever happens afterwards,
she has her brothers, who love her dearly," he
said, and was silent for some time watching
the sunliorht fade alone the wall. He made
no other reference to the marriacre that he had
so anxiously schemed for her, and Delia under-
stood by the manner of his allusion that he
probably foresaw the failure of that hope.
When he spoke next it was to ask whether



"here we part company." i8i

the room where old Mrs. Blythe died was
as bare and grim as this where he lay.

Delia leaned down, sobbine, touchino- his
hand with her lips : '' Oh, my love, what
matters the room ? You are o^oine into the
presence of God. I have prayed, God knows
how I have prayed, that you be forgiven that
sin. Remember Christ's love."

" I have never been able to forgive myself."
There was another prolonged silence, and
the grey twilight drew like a veil over all.
It was interrupted by the approach of foot-
steps, heavy and hurried, that would not be
restrained from coming to the door. Mr.
Denys asked if it was Hughie, and was told
by his mother that it was too soon — Hughie
could not arrive yet. She rose, directing her
observation towards a towerinof horure that
entered, and, halting a moment to look, ad-
vanced straiofht to the couch on which her



1 82 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

husband lay stretched. There were other
figures behind in the doorway.

''A Hvinof doQf is better than a dead Hon.
He shall not stand in peril for the sake of a
word," said a strong voice, determined and
trembling with excitement, in which Delia
recognised a tone she knew though she could
not see the face of the intruder.

There was a breathless pause, the witnesses
all intent on w^hat next ; and the same voice,
a note lower, said ao;ain : ''A livinof doe is
better than a dead lion. You are a dead
man, Denys — speak up, and tell the truth.
Who fired the shot that laid you low ? "

"Who is it that asks?" Mr. Denys said
sharply, as if his fainting senses were stung
into spasmodic strength.

'' It is Jack Blythe — of the Orchard qnce.
They have taken my brother Richard for your
murder."



''HERE WE PART COMPANY." 1 83

" It was Cousin Ralph Denys — he's mad,
you know. Ralph Denys at the Warren
House, does everybody hear ? Let them
call in Meade, Delia. I must make a deposi-
tion, or the young men may be hindered from
sailing next Monday."

It was characteristic of Mr. Denys to tell
a plain tale, briefly and without colouring.
Mr. Meade wrote it as he dictated.

" It was about four o'clock, on the edge
of Branksome Wood, where the footpath from
the Three Beeches strikes down through the
copse in the direction of Gooden's farm. I
saw Cousin Ralph coming towards me, and


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