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pastor is in the aspen stage of attachment, and open
to agitation at the merest trifles, a really substantial
incongruity of this complexion is a disturbing thing.
However, nothing further occurred at that time ; but
he became watchful, and given to conjecture, and was
unable to forget the circumstance.

One morning, on looking from his window, he saw
Mrs. Newberry herself brushing the tails of a long
drab greatcoat, which, if he mistook not, was the very
same garment as the one that had adorned the chair

241



WESSEX TALES

of his room. It was densely splashed up to the hollow
of the back with neighbouring N ether- Moynton mud,
to judge by its colour, the spots being distinctly visible
to him in the sunlight. The previous day or two
having been wet, the inference was irresistible that
the wearer had quite recently been walking some
considerable distance about the lanes and fields.
Stockdale opened the window and looked out, and
Mrs. Newberry turned her head. Her face became
slowly red ; she never had looked prettier, or more
incomprehensible. He waved his hand affectionately,
and said good-morning ; she answered with embarrass-
ment, having ceased her occupation on the instant that
she saw him, and rolled up the coat half-cleaned.

Stockdale shut the window. Some simple explana-
tion of her proceeding was doubtless within the bounds
of possibility ; but he himself could not think of one ;
and he wished that she had placed the matter beyond
conjecture by voluntarily saying something about it
there and then.

But, though Lizzy had not offered an explanation
at the moment, the subject was brought forward by
her at the next time of their meeting. She was
chatting to him concerning some other event, and
remarked that it happened about the time when she
was dusting some old clothes that had belonged to her
poor husband.

'You keep them clean out of respect to his
memory ? ' said Stockdale tentatively.

' I air and dust them sometimes,' she said, with the
most charming innocence in the world.

' Do dead men come out of their graves and walk
in mud ? ' murmured the minister, in a cold sweat at
the deception that she was practising.

' What did you say ? ' asked Lizzy.

' Nothing, nothing,' said he mournfully. * Mere
words a phrase that will do for my sermon next
Sunday.' It was too plain that Lizzy was unaware
that he had seen fresh pedestrian splashes upon the

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THE DISTRACTED PREACHER

skirts of the tell-tale overcoat, and that she imagined
him to believe it had come direct from some chest or
drawer.

The aspect of the case was now considerably
darker. Stockdale was so much depressed by it that
he did not challenge her explanation, or threaten to
go off as a missionary to benighted islanders, or
reproach her in any way whatever. He simply parted
from her when she had done talking, and lived on in
perplexity, till by degrees his natural manner became
sad and constrained.



AT THE TIME OF THE NEW MOON

IV

THE following Thursday was changeable, damp, and
gloomy ; and the night threatened to be windy and
unpleasant. Stockdale had gone away to Knollsea in
the morning, to be present at some commemoration
service there, and on his return he was met by the
attractive Lizzy in the passage. Whether influenced
by the tide of cheerfulness which had attended him
that day, or by the drive through the open air, or
whether from a natural disposition to let bygones
alone, he allowed himself to be fascinated into forget-
fulness of the greatcoat incident, and upon the whole
passed a pleasant evening ; not so much in her society
as within sound of her voice, as she sat talking in the
back parlour to her mother, till the latter went to bed.
Shortly after this Mrs. Newberry retired, and then
Stockdale prepared to go upstairs himself. But before
he left the room he remained standing by the dying
embers awhile, thinking long of one thing and
another ; and was only aroused by the flickering of
his candle in the socket as it suddenly declined and
went out. Knowing that there were a tinder-box,
matches, and another candle in his bedroom, he felt
his way upstairs without a light. On reaching his
chamber he laid his hand on every possible ledge and
corner for the tinder-box, but for a long time in vain.
Discovering it at length, Stockdale produced a spark,
and was kindling the brimstone, when he fancied that

244



THE DISTRACTED PREACHER

he heard a movement in the passage. He blew
harder at the lint, the match flared up, and looking
by aid of the blue light through the door, which had
been standing open all this time, he was surprised to
see a male figure vanishing round the top of the
staircase with the evident intention of escaping un-
observed. The personage wore the clothes which
Lizzy had been brushing, and something in the out-
line and gait suggested to the minister that the wearer
was Lizzy herself

But he was not sure of this ; and, greatly excited,
Stockdale determined to investigate the mystery, and
to adopt his own way for doing it. He blew out the
match without lighting the candle, went into the
passage, and proceeded on tiptoe towards Lizzy's
room. A faint grey square of light in the direction
of the chamber- window as he approached told him that
the door was open, and at once suggested that the
occupant was gone. He turned and brought down
his fist upon the handrail of the staircase : 'It was
she ; in her late husband's coat and hat ! '

Somewhat relieved to find that there was no
intruder in the case, yet none the less surprised, the
minister crept down the stairs, softly put on his boots,
overcoat, and hat, and tried the front door. It was
fastened as usual : he went to the back door, found
this unlocked, and emerged into the garden. The
night was mild and moonless, and rain had lately been
falling, though for the present it had ceased. There
was a sudden dropping from the trees and bushes
every now and then, as each passing wind shook
their boughs. Among these sounds Stockdale heard
the faint fall of feet upon the road outside, and he
guessed from the step that it was Lizzy's. He fol-
lowed the sound, and, helped by the circumstance of
the wind blowing from the direction in which the
pedestrian moved, he got nearly close to her, and
kept there, without risk of being overheard. While
he thus followed her up the street or lane, as it might

245



WESSEX TALES

indifferently be called, there being more hedge than
houses on either side, a figure came forward to her
from one of the cottage doors. Lizzy stopped ; the
minister stepped upon the grass and stopped also.

' Is that Mrs. Newberry ? ' said the man who had
come out, whose voice Stockdale recognized as that
of one of the most devout members of his con-
gregation.

' It is,' said Lizzy.

' I be quite ready I've been here this quarter-
hour.'

' Ah, John,' said she, ' I have bad news ; there is
danger to-night for our venture.'

' And d'ye tell o't ! I dreamed there might be.'

'Yes,' she said hurriedly; 'and you must go at
once round to where the chaps are waiting, and tell
them they will not be wanted till to-morrow night at
the same time. I go to burn the lugger off.'

' I will,' he said ; and instantly went off through a
gate, Lizzy continuing her way.

On she tripped at a quickening pace till the lane
turned into the turnpike-road, which she crossed, and
got into the track for Ringsworth. Here she ascended
the hill without the least hesitation, passed the lonely
hamlet of Hoi worth, and went down the vale on the
other side. Stockdale had never taken any extensive
walks in this direction, but he was aware that if she
persisted in her course much longer she would draw
near to the coast, which was here between two and
three miles distant from Nether-Moynton ; and as it
had been about a quarter-past eleven o'clock when
they set out, her intention seemed to be to reach the
shore about midnight.

Lizzy soon ascended a small mound, which Stock-
dale at the same time adroitly skirted on the left ; and
a dull monotonous roar burst upon his ear. The
hillock was about fifty yards from the top of the cliffs,
and by day it apparently commanded a full view of
the bay. There was light enough in the sky to show

246



THE DISTRACTED PREACHER

her disguised figure against it when she reached the
top, where she paused, and afterwards sat down.
Stockdale, not wishing on any account to alarm her
at this moment, yet desirous of being near her, sank
upon his hands and knees, crept a little higher up, and
there stayed still.

The wind was chilly, the ground damp, and his
position one in which he did not care to remain long.
However, before he had decided to leave it, the young
man heard voices behind him. What they signified
he did not know ; but, fearing that Lizzy was in
danger, he was about to run forward and warn her
that she might be seen, when she crept to the shelter
of a little bush which maintained a precarious existence
in that exposed spot ; and her form was absorbed in
its dark and stunted outline as if she had become part
of it. She had evidently heard the men as well as
he. They passed near him, talking in loud and
careless tones, which could be heard above the un-
interrupted washings of the sea, and which suggested
that they were not engaged in any business at their
own risk. This proved to be the fact : some of their
words floated across to him, and caused him to forget
at once the coldness of his situation.

' What's the vessel ? '

'A lugger, about fifty tons.'

' From Cherbourg, I suppose ? *

' Yes, 'a b'lieve.'

' But it don't all belong to Owlett ? '

'O no. He's only got a share. There's another
or two in it a farmer and such like, but the names I
don't know.'

The voices died away, and the heads and shoulders
of the men diminished towards the cliff, and dropped
out of sight.

' My darling has been tempted to buy a share by
that unbeliever Owlett,' groaned the minister, his
honest affection for Lizzy having quickened to its
intensest point during these moments of risk to her

247



WESSEX TALES

person and name. ' That's why she's here/ he said to
himself. ' O, it will be the ruin of her ! '

His perturbation was interrupted by the sudden
bursting out of a bright and increasing light from the
spot where Lizzy was in hiding. A few seconds later,
and before it had reached the height of a blaze, he
heard her rush past him down the hollow like a stone
from a sling, in the direction of home. The light now
flared high and wide, and showed its position clearly.
She had kindled a bough of furze and stuck it into the
bush under which she had been crouching ; the wind
fanned the flame, which crackled fiercely, and threatened
to consume the bush as well as the bough. Stockdale
paused just long enough to notice thus much, and then
followed rapidly the route taken by the young woman.
His intention was to overtake her, and reveal himself
as a friend ; but run as he would he could see nothing
of her. Thus he flew across the open country about
Hoi worth, twisting his legs and ankles in unexpected
fissures and descents, till, on coming to the gate
between the downs and the road, he was forced to
pause to get breath. There was no audible movement
either in front or behind him, and he now concluded
that she had not outrun him, but that, hearing him at
her heels, and believing him one of the excise party,
she had hidden herself somewhere on the way, and let
him pass by.

He went on at a more leisurely pace towards the
village. On reaching the house he found his surmise
to be correct, for the gate was on the latch, and the
door unfastened, just as he had left them. Stockdale
closed the door behind him, and waited silently in the
passage. In about ten minutes he heard the same
light footstep that he had heard in going out ; it
paused at the gate, which opened and shut softly, and
then the door-latch was lifted, and Lizzy came in.

Stockdale went forward and said at once, ' Lizzy,
don't be frightened. I have been waiting up for
you

248



THE DISTRACTED PREACHER

She started, though she had recognized the voice.
' It is Mr. Stockdale, isn't it ? ' she said.

'Yes,' he answered, becoming angry now that she
was safe indoors, and not alarmed. ' And a nice game
I've found you out in to-night. You are in man's
clothes, and I am ashamed of you ! '

Lizzie could hardly find a voice to answer this
unexpected reproach.

1 1 am only partly in man's clothes,' she faltered,
shrinking back to the wall. ' It is only his greatcoat
and hat and breeches that I've got on, which is no
harm, as he was my own husband ; and I do it only
because a cloak blows about so, and you can't use
your arms. I have got my own dress under just the
same it is only tucked in ! Will you go away upstairs
and let me pass ? I didn't want you to see me at such
a time as this ! '

' But I have a right to see you ! How do you
think there can be anything between us now ? ' Lizzy
was silent. ' You are a smuggler,' he continued sadly.

' I have only a share in the run,' she said.

'That makes no difference. Whatever did you
engage in such a trade as that for, and keep it such a
secret from me all this time ? '

' I don't do it always. I only do it in winter-time
when 'tis new moon.'

'Well, I suppose that's because it can't be done
anywhen else. . . . You have regularly upset me,
Lizzy.'

' I am sorry for that,' Lizzy meekly replied.

'Well now,' said he more tenderly, 'no harm is
done as yet. Won't you for the sake of me give up
this blamable and dangerous practice altogether ? '

' I must do my best to save this run,' said she,
getting rather husky in the throat. ' I don't want to
give you up you know that ; but I don't want to lose
my venture. I don't know what to do now ! Why I
have kept it so secret from you is that I was afraid
you would be angry if you knew.'

349



WESSEX TALES

1 1 should think so ! I suppose if I had married
you without finding this out you'd have gone on with
it just the same ? '

' I don't know. I did not think so far ahead. I
only went to-night to burn the folks off, because we
found that the preventive-men knew where the tubs
were to be landed.'

'It is a pretty mess to be in altogether, is this,'
said the distracted young minister. ' Well, what will
you do now ? '

Lizzy slowly murmured the particulars of their
plan, the chief of which were that they meant to try
their luck at some other point of the shore the next
night ; that three landing-places were always agreed
upon before the run was attempted, with the under-
standing that, if the vessel was ' burnt off' from the
first point, which was Ringsworth, as it had been by
her to-night, the crew should attempt to make the
second, which was Lulwind Cove, on the second
night ; and if there, too, danger threatened, they
should on the third night try the third place, which
was behind a headland further west.

' Suppose the officers hinder them landing there
too ? ' he said, his attention to this interesting pro-
gramme displacing for a moment his concern at her
share in it.

' Then we shan't try anywhere else all this dark
that's what we call the time between moon and moon
and perhaps they'll string the tubs to a stray-line,
and sink 'em a little-ways from shore, and take the
bearings ; and then when they have a chance they'll
go to creep for 'em.'

'What's that?'

' O, they'll go out in a boat and drag a creeper
that's a grapnel along the bottom till it catch hold of
the stray-line.'

The minister stood thinking ; and there was no
sound within doors but the tick of the clock on the
stairs, and the quick breathing of Lizzy, partly from

2-0



THE DISTRACTED PREACHER

her walk and partly from agitation, as she stood close
to the wall, not in such complete darkness but that
he could discern against its whitewashed surface the
greatcoat, breeches, and broad hat which covered her.

' Lizzy, all this is very wrong,' he said. ' Don't
you remember the lesson of the tribute - money ?
" Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's."
Surely you have heard that read times enough in your
growing up ? '

' He's dead,' she pouted.

' But the spirit of the text is in force just the same.'

' My father did it, and so did my grandfather, and
almost everybody in N ether- Moynton lives by it, and
life would be so dull if it wasn't for that, that I should
not care to live at all.'

' I am nothing to live for, of course,' he replied
bitterly. ' You would not think it worth while to give
up this wild business and live for me alone ? '

' I have never looked at it like that.'

' And you won't promise and wait till I am ready ? '

' I cannot give you my word to-night.' And, look-
ing thoughtfully down, she gradually moved and moved
away, going into the adjoining room, and closing the
door between them. She remained there in the dark
till he was tired of waiting, and had gone up to his
own chamber.

Poor Stockdale was dreadfully depressed all the
next day by the discoveries of the night before. Lizzy
was unmistakably a fascinating young woman, but as
a minister's wife she was hardly to be contemplated.
' If I had only stuck to father's little grocery business,
instead of going in for the ministry, she would have
suited me beautifully ! ' he said sadly, until he remem-
bered that in that case he would never have come
from his distant home to Nether- Moynton, and never
have known her.

The estrangement between them was not complete,
but it was sufficient to keep them out of each other's
company. Once during the day he met her in the



WESSEX TALES

garden-path, and said, turning a reproachful eye upon
her, ' Do you promise, Lizzie ? ' But she did not
reply. The evening drew on, and he knew well
enough that Lizzy would repeat her excursion at
night her half offended manner had shown that she
had not the slightest intention of altering her plans
at present. He did not wish to repeat his own share
of the adventure ; but, act as he would, his uneasiness
on her account increased with the decline of day.
Supposing that an accident should befall her, he
would never forgive himself for not being there to
help, much as he disliked the idea of seeming to
countenance such unlawful escapades.




As he had expected, she left the house at the same
hour at night, this time passing his door without
stealth, as if she knew very well that he would be
watching, and were resolved to brave his displeasure.
He was quite ready, opened the door quickly, and
reached the back door almost as soon as she.

' Then you will go, Lizzy ? ' he said as he stood on
the step beside her, who now again appeared as a
little man with a face altogether unsuited to his
clothes.

' I must,' she said, repressed by his stern manner.

'Then I shall go too,' said he.

' And I am sure you will enjoy it ! ' she exclaimed
in more buoyant tones. ' Everybody does who tries it.'

' God forbid that I should ! ' he said. ' But I must
look after you.'

They opened the wicket and went up the road
abreast of each other, but at some distance apart,
scarcely a word passing between them. The evening
was rather less favourable to smuggling enterprise
than the last had been, the wind being lower, and the
sky somewhat clear towards the north.

' It is rather lighter,' said Stockdale.

' 'Tis, unfortunately,' said she. ' But it is only from
those few stars over there. The moon was new to-

253



WESSEX TALES

day at four o'clock, and I expected clouds. I hope we
shall be able to do it this dark, for when we have to sink
'em for long it makes the stuff taste bleachy, and folks
don't like it so well.'

Her course was different from that of the preced-
ing night, branching off to the left over Lord's Barrow
as soon as they had got out of the lane and crossed
the highway. By the time they reached Shaldon
Down, Stockdale, who had been in perplexed thought
as to what he should say to her, decided that he would
not attempt expostulation now, while she was excited
by the adventure, but wait till it was over, and
endeavour to keep her from such practices in future.
It occurred to him once or twice, as they rambled on
that should they be surprised by the Preventive-guard,
his situation would be more awkward than hers, for it
would be difficult to prove his true motive in coming
to the spot ; but the risk was a slight consideration
beside his wish to be with her.

They now arrived at a ravine which lay on the
outskirts of Shaldon, a village two miles on their way
towards the point of the shore they sought. Lizzy
broke the silence this time : ' I have to wait here to
meet the carriers. I don't know if they have come
yet. As I told you, we go to Lulwind Cove to-night,
and it is two miles further than Ringsworth.'

It turned out that the men had already come ; for
while she spoke two or three dozen heads broke the
line of the slope, and a company of them at once
descended from the bushes where they had been
lying in wait. These carriers were men whom Lizzy
and other proprietors regularly employed to bring the
tubs from the boat to a hiding-place inland. They
were all young fellows of N ether- Moynton, Shaldon,
and the neighbourhood, quiet and inoffensive persons,
even though some held heavy sticks, who simply
engaged to carry the cargo for Lizzy and her cousin
Owlett, as they would have engaged in any other
labour for which they were fairly well paid.

254



THE DISTRACTED PREACHER

At a word from her they closed in together.
'You had better take it now,' she said to them ; and
handed to each a packet. It contained six shillings,
their remuneration for the night's undertaking, which
was paid beforehand without reference to success or
failure ; but, besides this, they had the privilege of
selling as agents when the run was successfully made.
As soon as it was done, she said to them, ' The place
is the old one, Dagger's Grave, near Lulwind Cove ' ;
the men till that moment not having been told whither
they were bound, for obvious reasons. ' Mr. Owlett
will meet you there,' added Lizzy. ' I shall follow
behind, to see that we are not watched.'

The carriers went on, and Stockdale and Mrs.
Newberry followed at a distance of a stone's throw.
' What do these men do by day ? ' he said.

' Twelve or fourteen of them are labouring men.
Some are brickmakers, some carpenters, some shoe-
makers, some thatchers. They are all known to me
very well. Nine of 'em are of your own congrega-
tion.'

' I can't help that,' said Stockdale.

' O, I know you can't. I only told you. The
others are more church-inclined, because they supply
the pa'son with all the spirits he requires, and they
don't wish to show unfriendliness to a customer.'

' How do you choose 'em ? ' said Stockdale.

'We choose 'em for their closeness, and because
they are strong and surefooted, and able to carry a
heavy load a long way without being tired.'

Stockdale sighed as she enumerated each particular,
for it proved how far involved in the business a
woman must be who was so well acquainted with its
conditions and needs. And yet he felt more tenderly
towards her at this moment than he had felt all the
foregoing day. Perhaps it was that her experienced
manner and bold indifference stirred his admiration in
spite of himself.

' Take my arm, Lizzy/ he murmured.

255



WESSEX TALES

' I don't want it,' she said. ' Besides, we may never
be to each other again what we once have been.'

' That depends upon you,' said he, and they went
on again as before.

The hired carriers paced along over Shaldon Down
with as little hesitation as if it had been day, avoiding
the cart-way, and leaving the village of East Shaldon
on the left, so as to reach the crest of the hill at a
lonely trackless place not far from the ancient earth-
work called Round Pound. A quarter-hour more of
brisk walking brought them within sound of the
sea, to the place called Dagger's Grave, not many
hundred yards from Lulwind Cove. Here they
paused, and Lizzy and Stockdale came up with them,
when they went on together to the verge of the cliff.
One of the men now produced an iron bar, which he
drove firmly into the soil a yard from the edge, and
attached to it a rope that he had uncoiled from his
body. They all began to descend, partly stepping,
partly sliding down the incline, as the rope slipped
through their hands.

1 You will not go to the bottom, Lizzy ? ' said Stock-
dale anxiously.

' No. I stay here to watch,' she said. ' Mr. Owlett
is down there.'

The men remained quite silent when they reached
the shore ; and the next thing audible to the two at


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