Katharine Sarah Macquoid.

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Lost Rose . , . , 1

FiFiNE : A Stohy OF Malines 53

The John Harris 131

The Courtyard of the Ours d'Or . , . . 165

Cleme-xce 207

My Daughter Molly ...... 267



A EOAD winds beside green hills, and is
carried terrace-like across a valley leading
to the sea; a village is scattered along this road
in unsociable fashion, two and three cottages
at a time, with a space between the groups,
as if the inhabitants of the little cob-walled
thatched dwellings were too quarrelsome for
near neighbourhood. Not quite a mile below
the road the sea shows in a large opal triangle
against the pale sky ; and on each side of this
high cliffs, wooded and grass-grown, guard
the shingled entrance to Mercombe Mouth.
Three valleys from among the green hills
unite to form this one which leads to the sea ;
and through it a river winds in and out, bor-
dered by ash-trees, and gleams from among
them like a silver thread.

The village smithy is on the side of the



road next the green hills ; the cottage belong-
ing to it is larger than most of the others,
with a quaint tall stone chimney rising from
the ground, on which, carved in the stone, is
the date, 1573. The cottage stands at right-
angles to the road, with a garden in front, and
an orchard with flower-laden apple-trees be-
hind. For the last fortnight the whole village
of Mercombe has been like an exquisite pink-
and-white nosegay of apple-bloom.

Mrs. Leir, standing at the back-door of the
ancient cottage, looks complacently at the
garlands of exquisite blossom relieved by
yellow-green grass beneath, and predicts a
good cider year for the country. For a few
moments the mental prediction has brought
smiles to the firm wrinkled mouth ; but these
fade, and heavy care contracts her clear brown
forehead and makes her eyes appear sad.
She is always too anxious in expression, but
to-day she looks miserable. Though she is
above middle height, she seems short as she
stands bowed down beside the old stone
trough, at one end of which two black pigs
are feeding, while a jackdaw hops at the other
end with so humorous a twinkle in his eye —


he keeps one closed — that you almost fancy
he is thinking of tickling the pigs with the
straw he holds in his beak. The ground
between the house and the trough is soft and
swampy — stamped with the frequent tread of
pigs and dog and cat and fowls. Three black-
and-white ducks have paddled up and down
it this morning so often with their broad
yellow feet that water oozes up in one comer
and forms an inky pool, at which the ducks
drink with seeming delight. But when, after
this feat, they come waddling to the broad
flat stone in front of the back-door, Mrs. Leir
rouses from her dreamy mood, and, snatching
at the comer of her apron, drives them away.

'' I must speak to Reuben," she says, with
a sigh ; and then passes round the house,
through the orchard, and out at the gate in
the low stone fence, to the smithy itself.

It is close by, in the road, just divided from
the garden by a high hawthorn hedge, white
now with blossom and filling the air with

There is no use in describing this smithy
- — smithies have a strong family- resemblance ;
but it is not always that. the blacksmith's


hammer is wielded by such* a man as Reuben

Not handsome, but tall and strong and
healthy -looking, with rich brown hair and
beard suggestive of ripe hazel-nuts, a frank
amiable mouth, and a dreamy far-off look in
his pale-blue eyes. You would have said,
looking at him, a man with energies that
might be roused up if some sleeping chord
were touched, but unless this happened one just
as likely to plod through life without discover- _
ing that he had more wits than his fellows.

He was whistling and striking ponderous
blows on a little bit of iron, that seemed as
if it must surely be dispersed and annihilated
in the shower of sparks that flew up from the

He left off whistling when he saw his

'' Tea-time is it, mother ? I'm coming,"
he said, in a strong cheerful voice.

Mrs. Leir waited till he put aside his ham-
mer and came out of the forge.

** Tea will be ready by the time you're
ready for it," she said ; ** but I want three
words with you first, Reuben."


She went on, into the garden again, and
her son followed, his head bent forward, and
a sort of dogged irresolution showing at the
comers of his mouth. When they reached
the door he stopped.

"I wish you'd say them here then," he
said, sulkily. ^' I've got one or two things
to do this evening."

Mrs. Leir faced round at once ; there was
a bright angry spot on each cheek, but
there was more sorrow than anger in her

** Why do you not say out the truth, Eeuben ?
you are going to meet Eose Morrison."

Eeuben looked pained : he leaned against
the door-post without answering.

''I know there's no use in my saying it," she
went on, in a hard unconcihating voice ; " but
still I must warn yon, Eeuben. You began by
admiring, you went on to talking, and you are
getting to love that little conceited French
girl spite of yourself."

Eeuben stood upright, and put up his hand
to stop her.

*' Don't say what you may be sorry for,"
he said. '' I do love Eose, but she is not


French ; its true, her mother's a French-
woman, but Bob Morrison was every bit as
much an EngHshman as my father was."

He nodded, and went away quickly to
wash himself at the pump. He was very
fond of his mother, and Rose was the first
element of discord that had come between

''It is always so," he said to himself ; ''if
I loved an angel, mother would cry her down.
All mothers are the same ; they can't give up
their sons to other women."

Perhaps, if his mother had heard him, the
words would have given keen pain. Martha
Leir was not an ordinary woman ; she was
unpopular with her neighbours because, being
better educated, she held herself a little apart ;
but she had no petty jealousies, and if she
had thought Eose Morrison likely to make
her son happy, she would have taken her to
her heart at once.

" She will never be content with one
man," Mrs. Leir sighed. " Just at first she
may be taken up with Reuben, but when the
novelty wears off she will flirt as much as her
mother has flirted before her. Rose has more


of her mother than of her father in her. My
Reuben is too good for the likes of her, or of
any Hookton girl."

Hookton is a fishing- village just two miles
-from Mereombe, but much farther off than
the distance because of the rugged, ill-made,
steep high-road. There is another road by the
cliffs through the landslip, but that is a long
way round. The shoi-test way lies between
these two — a climb up the face of the steep
cliff, then across fields of young wheat and
mangolds till the path falls into the high-road
again, which hereabouts is more even and
level than it is nearer Mereombe. Just a
little w^ay on, a huge stone quari^ opens on
either side of the road, and it is here that
Eeuben Leir stands waiting. The place is
very silent ; the quarry-men have gone home
to the little wooden cottages that peep out
like birds'-nests where gaps come in the
masses of cream-colom-ed stone. Far ofi" in
front, beyond the bronze-hued oak-trees which
border the road, the cliffs rise high, and part-
ing give a sudden vision of sea so blue that it
seems almost too vivid for reality. Eeuben
has stood for ten minutes waiting near the


quarry-opening, but no one comes down the
road to meet him.

He went on along the high-road till he
came to a small gate on the left. The hedge
was cut into an arch above the gate, and
through this showed a garden glowing with
ranunculus and anemones, and behind, a
wooden cottage clothed with creeping plants.

A girl, in a lilac gown almost hidden by a
long white pinafore, was coming up the path
that led to the gate, with her hands behind
her. Her face was hidden by the straw-
coloured sun-bonnet pulled down over her

'* At last," Eeuben said, reproachfully.

The face was quickly raised to his. A
pretty bright brown face, with laughing sly
black eyes, a little nose and mouth, and, as
she smiled, white even teeth showed through
the red lips.

'* Am I late ? " the girl said, carelessly.
*' Well, it is better that you should be

Eeuben opened the gate and held it for her
to pass out.

** Never mind, now you are come," he


said ; ** but I want to talk with you, Rose — I
am won-ied to death."

Eose gave him a sweet look out of her
long narrow dark eyes.

''' You poor old Eeuben ! — who worries

you ? "

*' Never mind; the very sight of you seems
to make me all right, you dear little girl ! "
Eeuben looked up and do^\Ti the road, and no
one being visible, he put his arm round Eose's
waist and drew her towards him.

Eose pulled herself away.

*^ There, there, that will do. You go on
so fast Eeuben. How many times I have
told you that I can't take up with a man
whose mother does not even speak to me."

Eeuben sighed.

** Don't xjou worry too, Eose darling, or it
will seem as if all went cross with me. My
mother does not know you ; when she does,
of course she must love you. Who could
help it, my darling child ? "

He looked tenderly at the girl, but she
tossed her head.

'* To hear you talk, Eeuben," — a bright
flush rose in her cheeks, and she played


nervously with the long strings of her sun-
bonnet — ** one would think your mother was
the Queen. You do not seem to see any
offence in her holding herself aloof from us.
Why, everyone comes to see mother ; and I
should have thought her being lame would
have served as a reason to Mrs. Leir to call
on us long ago, if any reason were wanting."
She spoke very angrily, and flung her bonnet-
strings wide apart. She had turned away
from Keuben while she spoke. He pulled at
her pinafore : in Eose's time all Devon girls
wore long pinafores.

^' Don't be cross, Eose. I tell you my
mother is so good and so loving, that she'll
come round when she sees I can't be happy
without you."

Eose turned round and looked at him. Her
eyes shone brightly and her red lips curled
with scorn.

** Mr. Eeuben Leir, you scarcely seem to
know who I am, or who you are yourself. It
seems to me that you take it for granted that
I shall be thankful to be your wife, and that
your, mother is the only person whose consent
has to be asked. Now I am not going to


creep into any man's family. It is your
mother's place to seek me — that is the way
my mother saj's such things should be ar-
ranged. Iso ; I say good-bye to you, Eeuben
Leir, until your mother comes to her senses."

She tossed her pretty head, and walked
slowly back to the gate ; but Eeuben was too
much vexed to combat her resolution. He
did not even follow her ; only, as the gate
closed behind her, he gave a sigh that ended
in a groan.

'^ Why is she so winning ? I can't be
angry with her ; and why is mother so pre-
judiced ? She will not even trust her own
eyes — it's past bearing."

Next morning found Eeuben at work early.
On the previous evening he went home and
upbraided his mother with her pride and
exclusiveness. " You make my life miser-
able," he said ; and then Mrs. Leir had looked
at him out of her deep steadfast eyes, and had
told him that the girl he loved was a coquette.

^' She is too studied in all her ways to live
only for you or any man, my boy ; she will
always want admirers round her."

And upon this Eeuben had gone to bed


without his supper, and started off early in
the morning to work at his plot on the land-
slip. Looking at the wonderful harvest of
all kinds reaped on that bit of land, it is
surprising that it has not been blown into the
sea, or demolished by some fresh rent in the
tall circling cliffs that shelter it north and
east ; for, although some of the plots are
level, and screened from the precipitous
descent to the beach by hedges wreathed with
clematis and dog-roses almost in bloom, others
of the potato and wheat plots are almost
perpendicular, and cling on to those tawny
and green-hued cliffs seemingly at great risk
of falling into the sea.

Eenben's donkey-cart is sheltered in a rude
shed just at the entrance to the landslip, and
his donkey is tethered near. Far away on the
right, through jutting cliffs, which spring up
here and there among the less cultivated bits,
among the yellow furze and clustering bram-
bles, a lovely glimpse may be got of the bay
of Sidmouth and its far-reaching crimson cliffs,
while on the left a bold chalky headland stands
forward barring the passage. But for the sea-
birds, which disappear between this headland


and the intensely blue sky, one might fancy
there was no passage round its sharp outline.

Eeuben has been hard at work weeding his
crops. He stands upright, takes off his hat,
and wipes his forehead with a blue handker-
chief ; then he goes back to his cart and gets
a lump of bread-and-cheese and a draught of

In his determination to work off his annoy-
ance, he has gone on over-long. He looks
out over the shimmering golden waves, and is
surprised to see how nearly the sun had
reached them.

As he stands gazing at the strange colour
on the waves, where broad lines of purple
and crimson show, as if the fishes had been
having fierce battle, he fancies he hears
voices below ; but the sea gets rougher every
instant, and the waves come dashing up
against the loose rocks scattered along the
beach with such creaming fury that it is
difficult to distinguish sound. But Eeuben
has caught a laugh he knows by heart ; and
now, in a pause caused by the retreat of the
waves, he hears the laugh answered in a
man's voice. The hush of the waves is over;


they have but gone back to kiss their advancing
mates and then fling themselves in triumphant
thunder at the foot of the precipice on which
Eeuben stands. As yet they do not quite
reach it, though they send up a shining
cloud of empty menace ; and as Eeuben leans
over the flowery hedge which grows on the
dizzy verge, he sees that a space of some
feet is still dry below. He looks onward
along this path. At some distance, half-way
between him and the headland, are two figures.
The girl is Eose, and her companion is a tall
French fisherman, named Jacques Gaspard.
He is a stranger, who has been staying at the
inn at Hookton for a fortnight past. He spends
his money freely, and is popular among the
rougher fishermen ; but the quieter ones avoid
him, and tell one another that he is either a
smuggler or a spy — '' No good either v/ay."
'' Confound him ! " Eeuben frowns heavily,
and leans still farther over the hedge, watch-
ing the pair. '^ She knows no better, poor
little thing ! But Gaspard's not a fit man for
a girl to trust herself alone with." He leaded
over, watching eagerly. Just at this moment
Gaspard stopped, looked back, and Eeuben


imagined that he saw triumph in his face. A
path led up the sheer face of the cliff at this
point, and the Frenchman, seeing the water
already dashing against the headland, seemed
to be persuading his companion to try and
mount the steep path.

Eeuben saw his intention. ^^ Come back,
Eose ! Come back ! " he cried; but the words
were blown back to him by the furious wind.
Eose seemed to be tying her bonnet more
firmly on her head, and then she turned to
mount the cliff; but she was evidently fearful.
She clung to Gaspard's arm, and presently he
unclasped her fingers, and put the arm round
her waist.

At this sight Eeuben lost his wits. He
leaned over the hedge, and stretched out both
arms, as if he thought to reach Eose.

" Eose, Eose, come back ! — Ah ! " There
came a crash, a frantic scrambling sound, and
Eeuben disappeared from the landslip.

Martha Leir has had an unhappy day : it
is so rarely now that the peace of her life is
disturbed by strife. Five years ago, before
John Leir went to his rest, there used to be


frequent discussions — they were hardly quar-
rels — between the blacksmith and his son ;
the father so greatly deprecated the son's want
of energy, and his general easiness of disposi-
tion. But when Martha was left alone,
Keuben's tenderness and loving care blinded
her to all shortcomings, and the mother and
son had led a peaceful, happy life, unclouded
by any quarrel, till some one told Mrs. Leir
that her son was courting Kose Morrison.

She had grown so accustomed to his tender
care of her, that at first the news came as
a painful shock ; then, when her common-
sense told her that this was an event which
must be looked for sooner or later, she began
to study Eose Morrison, and found no comfort
either for herself or Eeuben.

** What can be hoped for," she said, bitterly,
" from the daughter of a French lady's-maid?"
and then she spoke to Eeuben. But her
speaking only produced estrangement and
coldness, and she avoided the subject until
her son's frequent absence and silent moods
when at home created an irritation in her
mind, which had at last found voice on the
previous evening.


Dinner-time came and no Eeuben, and Mrs.
Leir grew troubled. Her son had said he
must weed his vegetables ; so she guessed
he was on the landslip. But as the day
went on she decided that he had driven
over to Colyton, and would be home for

Evening grew into night ; the wind rose
and howled furiously round the cottage, and
the rain beat against the window. Mai*tha
Leir kept a clear fire on the open hearth till
past ten o'clock. Eeuben had never been so
late. She could not go to bed. She went
to the door and looked out ; but a fierce
current of air rushed in, blew out her candlC;
and made it hard work to cret the door shut


'' He'll never come home through this,"
she said. '* The wind is enough to blow the
cart over."

At last she went to bed. But it was not
easy to sleep through the wind and rain ; the
feeling that she and her son had parted with-
out any reconciliation after the hard words
that had been said on both sides helped to
drive sleep away ; and, even when it came,



she roused from it with a terrified start at the
dreams that came along with it.

She waked up fully ahout four o'clock.
Her room was filled with sunshine, and all
traces of the storm had disappeared.

When she last fell asleep she had resolved
to seek for Eeuben on the landslip : but now
the bright morning light made her ashamed
of the terror that she had suffered through the
night. All at once she started and listened
eagerly, and then dressing herself as quickly
as possible she hurried downstairs. Eogerthe
donkey had been reared by her husband, and
it was his bray that she had heard. She w^as
sure she should know it among a hundred, and
she ran down stairs in the glad hope that
Eebuen would meet her at the gate.

'' How frightened I must have been about
him to have felt so down-hearted ! " she said,
with a smile of pity at her own weakness.

Her heart beat so fast that she could not
move as quickly as she wished.

But when she reached the gate her face
changed to a pale-gray hue and her limbs
shook ; she stretched out one hand mechani-
cally, and clung for support to the gate.


There was Eoger trying to raise the latch
with his broad soft nose, but Reuben was not
to be seen. Mrs. Leir looked at the donkey
as if she expected it to speak, to say what
had happened ; for she saw that the cord by
which it had been tied was hanging from its
neck — it had broken loose from its fastenings,
and had come home without its master.

But her spirit soon reyived. It was
possible that if Reuben had been at work
some distance off he might not at first have
seen Roger escape, and the search for his
donkey might have kept him out too late to
come home. And yet there were no signs of
fatigue about the donkey ; he was plainly
hungrj% and Mrs. Leir opened the gate and
let him find his way to the shed he occupied
at the back of the house ; then she hurried
back to her room, put on her bonnet and
cloak, and set off towards the sea.

The village round the vicarage and the inn
was still asleep when she reached it ; but in
the green lane leading up from the beach she
saw coming towards her a well-known figure
in the blue garb of a fisherman. This was
old Peter, and the basket he carried showed


his calling ; it was filled with dabs and gurnet,
and over all was stretched a huge and hideous
skate, more like a sea-monster than a fish fit
for human food.

Peter was a short square man, with little
twinkling eyes that were never still.

** You be out early, missus. Now I had a
call to be stirring betimes, seeing as the storm
perwented I over night from so doing, and
'twad a-bin mortal foolish to leave good
victual to go stinkin' afore it were cooked ;
so I just brings un across, and betime I be in
Mercombe and has had a bit to eat and drink
they'll be up and stirring. But why be ee so
early, missus, if I may be so bold ? " and he
peered at her curiously with his small eyes.

Martha Leir asked herself the same ques-
tion ; she had not courage to tell the universal
gossip Peter that she was out thus early
because Keuben had not come home all night ;
but the twinkling eyes were fixed upon her.
She was obliged to answer.

'* I'm going to the landslip," she said,
trying to look unconcerned. *^ Eeuben has a
bit of land there.'*
' ** Aha ! that minds me there were summat


I had to say io ee, Missus Leir. Tell Eeuben
he'd best not waste his time ^\ith Miss Rosie
at quarry-side. Old Peter keeps his eyes
open. Her likes summat a trifle faster than
Eeuben. I sighted her and that there French
Gaspard a-walking like sweethearts yester-
day. A fine lad like Reuben should not be
content with other men's leavings."

Peter chuckled ; he never took his eyes
from Mrs. Leir's face, and he saw that she
winced at his words.

''Good-morning, Peter," she said, stiffly.
'' I wish you luck with your fish;" and she
climbed the stile, and proceeded to mount the
grassed cliff which leads to the landslip.

But before she had taken many steps she
wished she had asked for Peter's company, he
knew the countiy so thoroughly ; and besides,
he would have been a help — help in what she
dared not think of.

She turned to look, but Peter was already
out of sight. She must go on bravely, and
face whatever she had to encounter alone.

She reached the little shed, and looked
under its wet thatched eaves. Yes, there was
the donkey cai*t, and hanging to a post the


broken bit of cord by which Eoger had been
fastened. A cormorant soared over the cliffs,
flapping his huge black wings. On the path
close by the hedge lay Keuben's weeding spud,
and then all at once Martha Leir saw that the
hedge itself was broken away.

She stood still an instant, unable to move,
and then she leaned forward and looked over
the cliff. It was again high tide, and the
waves had nearly reached the wall of cliff,
but it was a quiet lapping sea ; there was no
blinding haze of spray to bewilder eyesight ;

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