Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSylvia's Lovers - Chapter VI - THE SAILOR'S FUNERAL
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter VI - THE SAILOR'S FUNERAL Post by :maurypb Category :Long Stories Author :Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell Date :January 2011 Read :909

Click below to download : Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter VI - THE SAILOR'S FUNERAL (Format : PDF)

Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter VI - THE SAILOR'S FUNERAL

Moss Brow, the Corney's house, was but a disorderly, comfortless
place. You had to cross a dirty farmyard, all puddles and dungheaps,
on stepping-stones, to get to the door of the house-place. That
great room itself was sure to have clothes hanging to dry at the
fire, whatever day of the week it was; some one of the large
irregular family having had what is called in the district a
'dab-wash' of a few articles, forgotten on the regular day. And
sometimes these articles lay in their dirty state in the untidy
kitchen, out of which a room, half parlour, half bedroom, opened on
one side, and a dairy, the only clean place in the house, at the
opposite. In face of you, as you entered the door, was the entrance
to the working-kitchen, or scullery. Still, in spite of disorder
like this, there was a well-to-do aspect about the place; the
Corneys were rich in their way, in flocks and herds as well as in
children; and to them neither dirt nor the perpetual bustle arising
from ill-ordered work detracted from comfort. They were all of an
easy, good-tempered nature; Mrs. Corney and her daughters gave every
one a welcome at whatever time of the day they came, and would just
as soon sit down for a gossip at ten o'clock in the morning, as at
five in the evening, though at the former time the house-place was
full of work of various kinds which ought to be got out of hand and
done with: while the latter hour was towards the end of the day,
when farmers' wives and daughters were usually--'cleaned' was the
word then, 'dressed' is that in vogue now. Of course in such a
household as this Sylvia was sure to be gladly received. She was
young, and pretty, and bright, and brought a fresh breeze of
pleasant air about her as her appropriate atmosphere. And besides,
Bell Robson held her head so high that visits from her daughter were
rather esteemed as a favour, for it was not everywhere that Sylvia
was allowed to go.

'Sit yo' down, sit yo' down!' cried Dame Corney, dusting a chair
with her apron; 'a reckon Molly 'll be in i' no time. She's nobbut
gone int' t' orchard, to see if she can find wind-falls enough for
t' make a pie or two for t' lads. They like nowt so weel for supper
as apple-pies sweetened wi' treacle, crust stout and leathery, as
stands chewing, and we hannot getten in our apples yet.'

'If Molly is in t' orchard, I'll go find her,' said Sylvia.

'Well! yo' lasses will have your conks' (private talks), 'a know;
secrets 'bout sweethearts and such like,' said Mrs. Corney, with a
knowing look, which made Sylvia hate her for the moment. 'A've not
forgotten as a were young mysen. Tak' care; there's a pool o' mucky
watter just outside t' back-door.'

But Sylvia was half-way across the back-yard--worse, if possible,
than the front as to the condition in which it was kept--and had
passed through the little gate into the orchard. It was full of old
gnarled apple-trees, their trunks covered with gray lichen, in which
the cunning chaffinch built her nest in spring-time. The cankered
branches remained on the trees, and added to the knotted
interweaving overhead, if they did not to the productiveness; the
grass grew in long tufts, and was wet and tangled under foot. There
was a tolerable crop of rosy apples still hanging on the gray old
trees, and here and there they showed ruddy in the green bosses of
untrimmed grass. Why the fruit was not gathered, as it was evidently
ripe, would have puzzled any one not acquainted with the Corney
family to say; but to them it was always a maxim in practice, if not
in precept, 'Do nothing to-day that you can put off till to-morrow,'
and accordingly the apples dropped from the trees at any little gust
of wind, and lay rotting on the ground until the 'lads' wanted a
supply of pies for supper.

Molly saw Sylvia, and came quickly across the orchard to meet her,
catching her feet in knots of grass as she hurried along.

'Well, lass!' said she, 'who'd ha' thought o' seeing yo' such a day
as it has been?'

'But it's cleared up now beautiful,' said Sylvia, looking up at the
soft evening sky, to be seen through the apple boughs. It was of a
tender, delicate gray, with the faint warmth of a promising sunset
tinging it with a pink atmosphere. 'Rain is over and gone, and I
wanted to know how my cloak is to be made; for Donkin 's working at
our house, and I wanted to know all about--the news, yo' know.'

'What news?' asked Molly, for she had heard of the affair between
the _Good Fortune and the _Aurora some days before; and, to tell
the truth, it had rather passed out of her head just at this moment.

'Hannot yo' heard all about t' press-gang and t' whaler, and t'
great fight, and Kinraid, as is your cousin, acting so brave and
grand, and lying on his death-bed now?'

'Oh!' said Molly, enlightened as to Sylvia's 'news,' and half
surprised at the vehemence with which the little creature spoke;
'yes; a heerd that days ago. But Charley's noane on his death-bed,
he's a deal better; an' mother says as he's to be moved up here next
week for nursin' and better air nor he gets i' t' town yonder.'

'Oh! I am so glad,' said Sylvia, with all her heart. 'I thought he'd
maybe die, and I should niver see him.'

'A'll promise yo' shall see him; that's t' say if a' goes on well,
for he's getten an ugly hurt. Mother says as there's four blue marks
on his side as'll last him his life, an' t' doctor fears bleeding i'
his inside; and then he'll drop down dead when no one looks for 't.'

'But you said he was better,' said Sylvia, blanching a little at
this account.

'Ay, he's better, but life's uncertain, special after gun-shot
wounds.'

'He acted very fine,' said Sylvia, meditating.

'A allays knowed he would. Many's the time a've heerd him say
"honour bright," and now he's shown how bright his is.'

Molly did not speak sentimentally, but with a kind of proprietorship
in Kinraid's honour, which confirmed Sylvia in her previous idea of
a mutual attachment between her and her cousin. Considering this
notion, she was a little surprised at Molly's next speech.

'An' about yer cloak, are you for a hood or a cape? a reckon that's
the question.'

'Oh, I don't care! tell me more about Kinraid. Do yo' really think
he'll get better?'

'Dear! how t' lass takes on about him. A'll tell him what a deal of
interest a young woman taks i' him!'

From that time Sylvia never asked another question about him. In a
somewhat dry and altered tone, she said, after a little pause--

'I think on a hood. What do you say to it?'

'Well; hoods is a bit old-fashioned, to my mind. If 't were mine,
I'd have a cape cut i' three points, one to tie on each shoulder,
and one to dip down handsome behind. But let yo' an' me go to
Monkshaven church o' Sunday, and see Measter Fishburn's daughters,
as has their things made i' York, and notice a bit how they're made.
We needn't do it i' church, but just scan 'em o'er i' t' churchyard,
and there'll be no harm done. Besides, there's to be this grand
burryin' o' t' man t' press-gang shot, and 't will be like killing
two birds at once.'

'I should like to go,' said Sylvia. 'I feel so sorry like for the
poor sailors shot down and kidnapped just as they was coming home,
as we see'd 'em o' Thursday last. I'll ask mother if she'll let me
go.'

'Ay, do. I know my mother 'll let me, if she doesn't go hersen; for
it 'll be a sight to see and to speak on for many a long year, after
what I've heerd. And Miss Fishburns is sure to be theere, so I'd
just get Donkin to cut out cloak itsel', and keep back yer mind fra'
fixing o' either cape or hood till Sunday's turn'd.'

'Will yo' set me part o' t' way home?' said Sylvia, seeing the dying
daylight become more and more crimson through the blackening trees.

'No; I can't. A should like it well enough, but somehow, there's a
deal o' work to be done yet, for t' hours slip through one's fingers
so as there's no knowing. Mind yo', then, o' Sunday. A'll be at t'
stile one o'clock punctual; and we'll go slowly into t' town, and
look about us as we go, and see folk's dresses; and go to t' church,
and say wer prayers, and come out and have a look at t' funeral.'

And with this programme of proceedings settled for the following
Sunday, the girls whom neighbourhood and parity of age had forced
into some measure of friendship parted for the time.

Sylvia hastened home, feeling as if she had been absent long; her
mother stood on the little knoll at the side of the house watching
for her, with her hand shading her eyes from the low rays of the
setting sun: but as soon as she saw her daughter in the distance,
she returned to her work, whatever that might be. She was not a
woman of many words, or of much demonstration; few observers would
have guessed how much she loved her child; but Sylvia, without any
reasoning or observation, instinctively knew that her mother's heart
was bound up in her.

Her father and Donkin were going on much as when she had left them;
talking and disputing, the one compelled to be idle, the other
stitching away as fast as he talked. They seemed as if they had
never missed Sylvia; no more did her mother for that matter, for she
was busy and absorbed in her afternoon dairy-work to all appearance.
But Sylvia had noted the watching not three minutes before, and many
a time in her after life, when no one cared much for her out-goings
and in-comings, the straight, upright figure of her mother, fronting
the setting sun, but searching through its blinding rays for a sight
of her child, rose up like a sudden-seen picture, the remembrance of
which smote Sylvia to the heart with a sense of a lost blessing, not
duly valued while possessed.

'Well, feyther, and how's a' wi' you?' asked Sylvia, going to the
side of his chair, and laying her hand on his shoulder.

'Eh! harkee till this lass o' mine. She thinks as because she's gone
galraverging, I maun ha' missed her and be ailing. Why, lass, Donkin
and me has had t' most sensible talk a've had this many a day. A've
gi'en him a vast o' knowledge, and he's done me a power o' good.
Please God, to-morrow a'll tak' a start at walking, if t' weather
holds up.'

'Ay!' said Donkin, with a touch of sarcasm in his voice; 'feyther
and me has settled many puzzles; it's been a loss to Government as
they hannot been here for profiting by our wisdom. We've done away
wi' taxes and press-gangs, and many a plague, and beaten t'
French--i' our own minds, that's to say.'

'It's a wonder t' me as those Lunnon folks can't see things clear,'
said Daniel, all in good faith.

Sylvia did not quite understand the state of things as regarded
politics and taxes--and politics and taxes were all one in her mind,
it must be confessed--but she saw that her innocent little scheme of
giving her father the change of society afforded by Donkin's coming
had answered; and in the gladness of her heart she went out and ran
round the corner of the house to find Kester, and obtain from him
that sympathy in her success which she dared not ask from her
mother.

'Kester, Kester, lad!' said she, in a loud whisper; but Kester was
suppering the horses, and in the clamp of their feet on the round
stable pavement, he did not hear her at first. She went a little
farther into the stable. 'Kester! he's a vast better, he'll go out
to-morrow; it's all Donkin's doing. I'm beholden to thee for
fetching him, and I'll try and spare thee waistcoat fronts out o' t'
stuff for my new red cloak. Thou'll like that, Kester, won't ta?'

Kester took the notion in slowly, and weighed it.

'Na, lass,' said he, deliberately, after a pause. 'A could na' bear
to see thee wi' thy cloak scrimpit. A like t' see a wench look bonny
and smart, an' a tak' a kind o' pride in thee, an should be a'most
as much hurt i' my mind to see thee i' a pinched cloak as if old
Moll's tail here were docked too short. Na, lass, a'se niver got a
mirroring glass for t' see mysen in, so what's waistcoats to me?
Keep thy stuff to thysen, theere's a good wench; but a'se main and
glad about t' measter. Place isn't like itsen when he's shut up and
cranky.'

He took up a wisp of straw and began rubbing down the old mare, and
hissing over his work as if he wished to consider the conversation
as ended. And Sylvia, who had strung herself up in a momentary
fervour of gratitude to make the generous offer, was not sorry to
have it refused, and went back planning what kindness she could show
to Kester without its involving so much sacrifice to herself. For
giving waistcoat fronts to him would deprive her of the pleasant
power of selecting a fashionable pattern in Monkshaven churchyard
next Sunday.

That wished-for day seemed long a-coming, as wished-for days most
frequently do. Her father got better by slow degrees, and her mother
was pleased by the tailor's good pieces of work; showing the
neatly-placed patches with as much pride as many matrons take in new
clothes now-a-days. And the weather cleared up into a dim kind of
autumnal fineness, into anything but an Indian summer as far as
regarded gorgeousness of colouring, for on that coast the mists and
sea fogs early spoil the brilliancy of the foliage. Yet, perhaps,
the more did the silvery grays and browns of the inland scenery
conduce to the tranquillity of the time,--the time of peace and rest
before the fierce and stormy winter comes on. It seems a time for
gathering up human forces to encounter the coming severity, as well
as of storing up the produce of harvest for the needs of winter. Old
people turn out and sun themselves in that calm St. Martin's summer,
without fear of 'the heat o' th' sun, or the coming winter's rages,'
and we may read in their pensive, dreamy eyes that they are weaning
themselves away from the earth, which probably many may never see
dressed in her summer glory again.

Many such old people set out betimes, on the Sunday afternoon to
which Sylvia had been so looking forward, to scale the long flights
of stone steps--worn by the feet of many generations--which led up
to the parish church, placed on a height above the town, on a great
green area at the summit of the cliff, which was the angle where the
river and the sea met, and so overlooking both the busy crowded
little town, the port, the shipping, and the bar on the one hand,
and the wide illimitable tranquil sea on the other--types of life
and eternity. It was a good situation for that church.
Homeward-bound sailors caught sight of the tower of St Nicholas, the
first land object of all. They who went forth upon the great deep
might carry solemn thoughts with them of the words they had heard
there; not conscious thoughts, perhaps--rather a distinct if dim
conviction that buying and selling, eating and marrying, even life
and death, were not all the realities in existence. Nor were the
words that came up to their remembrance words of sermons preached
there, however impressive. The sailors mostly slept through the
sermons; unless, indeed, there were incidents such as were involved
in what were called 'funeral discourses' to be narrated. They did
not recognize their daily faults or temptations under the grand
aliases befitting their appearance from a preacher's mouth. But they
knew the old, oft-repeated words praying for deliverance from the
familiar dangers of lightning and tempest; from battle, murder, and
sudden death; and nearly every man was aware that he left behind him
some one who would watch for the prayer for the preservation of
those who travel by land or by water, and think of him, as
God-protected the more for the earnestness of the response then
given.

There, too, lay the dead of many generations; for St. Nicholas had
been the parish church ever since Monkshaven was a town, and the
large churchyard was rich in the dead. Masters, mariners,
ship-owners, seamen: it seemed strange how few other trades were
represented in that great plain so full of upright gravestones. Here
and there was a memorial stone, placed by some survivor of a large
family, most of whom perished at sea:--'Supposed to have perished
in the Greenland seas,' 'Shipwrecked in the Baltic,' 'Drowned off
the coast of Iceland.' There was a strange sensation, as if the cold
sea-winds must bring with them the dim phantoms of those lost
sailors, who had died far from their homes, and from the hallowed
ground where their fathers lay.

Each flight of steps up to this churchyard ended in a small flat
space, on which a wooden seat was placed. On this particular Sunday,
all these seats were filled by aged people, breathless with the
unusual exertion of climbing. You could see the church stair, as it
was called, from nearly every part of the town, and the figures of
the numerous climbers, diminished by distance, looked like a busy
ant-hill, long before the bell began to ring for afternoon service.
All who could manage it had put on a bit of black in token of
mourning; it might be very little; an old ribbon, a rusty piece of
crape; but some sign of mourning was shown by every one down to the
little child in its mother's arms, that innocently clutched the
piece of rosemary to be thrown into the grave 'for remembrance.'
Darley, the seaman shot by the press-gang, nine leagues off St.
Abb's Head, was to be buried to-day, at the accustomed time for the
funerals of the poorer classes, directly after evening service, and
there were only the sick and their nurse-tenders who did not come
forth to show their feeling for the man whom they looked upon as
murdered. The crowd of vessels in harbour bore their flags half-mast
high; and the crews were making their way through the High Street.
The gentlefolk of Monkshaven, full of indignation at this
interference with their ships, full of sympathy with the family who
had lost their son and brother almost within sight of his home, came
in unusual numbers--no lack of patterns for Sylvia; but her
thoughts were far otherwise and more suitably occupied. The unwonted
sternness and solemnity visible on the countenances of all whom she
met awed and affected her. She did not speak in reply to Molly's
remarks on the dress or appearance of those who struck her. She felt
as if these speeches jarred on her, and annoyed her almost to
irritation; yet Molly had come all the way to Monkshaven Church in
her service, and deserved forbearance accordingly. The two mounted
the steps alongside of many people; few words were exchanged, even
at the breathing places, so often the little centres of gossip.
Looking over the sea there was not a sail to be seen; it seemed
bared of life, as if to be in serious harmony with what was going on
inland.

The church was of old Norman architecture; low and massive outside:
inside, of vast space, only a quarter of which was filled on
ordinary Sundays. The walls were disfigured by numerous tablets of
black and white marble intermixed, and the usual ornamentation of
that style of memorial as erected in the last century, of weeping
willows, urns, and drooping figures, with here and there a ship in
full sail, or an anchor, where the seafaring idea prevalent through
the place had launched out into a little originality. There was no
wood-work, the church had been stripped of that, most probably when
the neighbouring monastery had been destroyed. There were large
square pews, lined with green baize, with the names of the families
of the most flourishing ship-owners painted white on the doors;
there were pews, not so large, and not lined at all, for the farmers
and shopkeepers of the parish; and numerous heavy oaken benches
which, by the united efforts of several men, might be brought within
earshot of the pulpit. These were being removed into the most
convenient situations when Molly and Sylvia entered the church, and
after two or three whispered sentences they took their seats on one
of these.

The vicar of Monkshaven was a kindly, peaceable old man, hating
strife and troubled waters above everything. He was a vehement Tory
in theory, as became his cloth in those days. He had two bugbears to
fear--the French and the Dissenters. It was difficult to say of
which he had the worst opinion and the most intense dread. Perhaps
he hated the Dissenters most, because they came nearer in contact
with him than the French; besides, the French had the excuse of
being Papists, while the Dissenters might have belonged to the
Church of England if they had not been utterly depraved. Yet in
practice Dr Wilson did not object to dine with Mr. Fishburn, who was
a personal friend and follower of Wesley, but then, as the doctor
would say, 'Wesley was an Oxford man, and that makes him a
gentleman; and he was an ordained minister of the Church of England,
so that grace can never depart from him.' But I do not know what
excuse he would have alleged for sending broth and vegetables to old
Ralph Thompson, a rabid Independent, who had been given to abusing
the Church and the vicar, from a Dissenting pulpit, as long as ever
he could mount the stairs. However, that inconsistency between Dr
Wilson's theories and practice was not generally known in
Monkshaven, so we have nothing to do with it.

Dr Wilson had had a very difficult part to play, and a still more
difficult sermon to write, during this last week. The Darley who had
been killed was the son of the vicar's gardener, and Dr Wilson's
sympathies as a man had been all on the bereaved father's side. But
then he had received, as the oldest magistrate in the neighbourhood,
a letter from the captain of the _Aurora_, explanatory and
exculpatory. Darley had been resisting the orders of an officer in
his Majesty's service. What would become of due subordination and
loyalty, and the interests of the service, and the chances of
beating those confounded French, if such conduct as Darley's was to
be encouraged? (Poor Darley! he was past all evil effects of human
encouragement now!)

So the vicar mumbled hastily over a sermon on the text, 'In the
midst of life we are in death'; which might have done as well for a
baby cut off in a convulsion-fit as for the strong man shot down
with all his eager blood hot within him, by men as hot-blooded as
himself. But once when the old doctor's eye caught the up-turned,
straining gaze of the father Darley, seeking with all his soul to
find a grain of holy comfort in the chaff of words, his conscience
smote him. Had he nothing to say that should calm anger and revenge
with spiritual power? no breath of the comforter to soothe repining
into resignation? But again the discord between the laws of man and
the laws of Christ stood before him; and he gave up the attempt to
do more than he was doing, as beyond his power. Though the hearers
went away as full of anger as they had entered the church, and some
with a dull feeling of disappointment as to what they had got there,
yet no one felt anything but kindly towards the old vicar. His
simple, happy life led amongst them for forty years, and open to all
men in its daily course; his sweet-tempered, cordial ways; his
practical kindness, made him beloved by all; and neither he nor they
thought much or cared much for admiration of his talents. Respect
for his office was all the respect he thought of; and that was
conceded to him from old traditional and hereditary association. In
looking back to the last century, it appears curious to see how
little our ancestors had the power of putting two things together,
and perceiving either the discord or harmony thus produced. Is it
because we are farther off from those times, and have, consequently,
a greater range of vision? Will our descendants have a wonder about
us, such as we have about the inconsistency of our forefathers, or a
surprise at our blindness that we do not perceive that, holding such
and such opinions, our course of action must be so and so, or that
the logical consequence of particular opinions must be convictions
which at present we hold in abhorrence? It seems puzzling to look
back on men such as our vicar, who almost held the doctrine that the
King could do no wrong, yet were ever ready to talk of the glorious
Revolution, and to abuse the Stuarts for having entertained the same
doctrine, and tried to put it in practice. But such discrepancies
ran through good men's lives in those days. It is well for us that
we live at the present time, when everybody is logical and
consistent. This little discussion must be taken in place of Dr
Wilson's sermon, of which no one could remember more than the text
half an hour after it was delivered. Even the doctor himself had the
recollection of the words he had uttered swept out of his mind, as,
having doffed his gown and donned his surplice, he came out of the
dusk of his vestry and went to the church-door, looking into the
broad light which came upon the plain of the church-yard on the
cliffs; for the sun had not yet set, and the pale moon was slowly
rising through the silvery mist that obscured the distant moors.
There was a thick, dense crowd, all still and silent, looking away
from the church and the vicar, who awaited the bringing of the dead.
They were watching the slow black line winding up the long steps,
resting their heavy burden here and there, standing in silent groups
at each landing-place; now lost to sight as a piece of broken,
overhanging ground intervened, now emerging suddenly nearer; and
overhead the great church bell, with its mediaeval inscription,
familiar to the vicar, if to no one else who heard it, I to the
grave do summon all, kept on its heavy booming monotone, with which
no other sound from land or sea, near or distant, intermingled,
except the cackle of the geese on some far-away farm on the moors,
as they were coming home to roost; and that one noise from so great
a distance seemed only to deepen the stillness. Then there was a
little movement in the crowd; a little pushing from side to side, to
make a path for the corpse and its bearers--an aggregate of the
fragments of room.

With bent heads and spent strength, those who carried the coffin
moved on; behind came the poor old gardener, a brown-black funeral
cloak thrown over his homely dress, and supporting his wife with
steps scarcely less feeble than her own. He had come to church that
afternoon, with a promise to her that he would return to lead her to
the funeral of her firstborn; for he felt, in his sore perplexed
heart, full of indignation and dumb anger, as if he must go and hear
something which should exorcize the unwonted longing for revenge
that disturbed his grief, and made him conscious of that great blank
of consolation which faithfulness produces. And for the time he was
faithless. How came God to permit such cruel injustice of man?
Permitting it, He could not be good. Then what was life, and what
was death, but woe and despair? The beautiful solemn words of the
ritual had done him good, and restored much of his faith. Though he
could not understand why such sorrow had befallen him any more than
before, he had come back to something of his childlike trust; he
kept saying to himself in a whisper, as he mounted the weary steps,
'It is the Lord's doing'; and the repetition soothed him
unspeakably. Behind this old couple followed their children, grown
men and women, come from distant place or farmhouse service; the
servants at the vicarage, and many a neighbour, anxious to show
their sympathy, and most of the sailors from the crews of the
vessels in port, joined in procession, and followed the dead body
into the church.

There was too great a crowd immediately within the door for Sylvia
and Molly to go in again, and they accordingly betook themselves to
the place where the deep grave was waiting, wide and hungry, to
receive its dead. There, leaning against the headstones all around,
were many standing--looking over the broad and placid sea, and
turned to the soft salt air which blew on their hot eyes and rigid
faces; for no one spoke of all that number. They were thinking of
the violent death of him over whom the solemn words were now being
said in the gray old church, scarcely out of their hearing, had not
the sound been broken by the measured lapping of the tide far
beneath.

Suddenly every one looked round towards the path from the churchyard
steps. Two sailors were supporting a ghastly figure that, with
feeble motions, was drawing near the open grave.

'It's t' specksioneer as tried to save him! It's him as was left for
dead!' the people murmured round.

'It's Charley Kinraid, as I'm a sinner!' said Molly, starting
forward to greet her cousin.

But as he came on, she saw that all his strength was needed for the
mere action of walking. The sailors, in their strong sympathy, had
yielded to his earnest entreaty, and carried him up the steps, in
order that he might see the last of his messmate. They placed him
near the grave, resting against a stone; and he was hardly there
before the vicar came forth, and the great crowd poured out of the
church, following the body to the grave.

Sylvia was so much wrapt up in the solemnity of the occasion, that
she had no thought to spare at the first moment for the pale and
haggard figure opposite; much less was she aware of her cousin
Philip, who now singling her out for the first time from among the
crowd, pressed to her side, with an intention of companionship and
protection.

As the service went on, ill-checked sobs rose from behind the two
girls, who were among the foremost in the crowd, and by-and-by the
cry and the wail became general. Sylvia's tears rained down her
face, and her distress became so evident that it attracted the
attention of many in that inner circle. Among others who noticed it,
the specksioneer's hollow eyes were caught by the sight of the
innocent blooming childlike face opposite to him, and he wondered if
she were a relation; yet, seeing that she bore no badge of mourning,
he rather concluded that she must have been a sweetheart of the dead
man.

And now all was over: the rattle of the gravel on the coffin; the
last long, lingering look of friends and lovers; the rosemary sprigs
had been cast down by all who were fortunate enough to have brought
them--and oh! how much Sylvia wished she had remembered this last
act of respect--and slowly the outer rim of the crowd began to
slacken and disappear.

Now Philip spoke to Sylvia.

'I never dreamt of seeing you here. I thought my aunt always went to
Kirk Moorside.'

'I came with Molly Corney,' said Sylvia. 'Mother is staying at home
with feyther.'

'How's his rheumatics?' asked Philip.

But at the same moment Molly took hold of Sylvia's hand, and said--

'A want t' get round and speak to Charley. Mother 'll be main and
glad to hear as he's getten out; though, for sure, he looks as
though he'd ha' been better in 's bed. Come, Sylvia.'

And Philip, fain to keep with Sylvia, had to follow the two girls
close up to the specksioneer, who was preparing for his slow
laborious walk back to his lodgings. He stopped on seeing his
cousin.

'Well, Molly,' said he, faintly, putting out his hand, but his eye
passing her face to look at Sylvia in the background, her
tear-stained face full of shy admiration of the nearest approach to
a hero she had ever seen.

'Well, Charley, a niver was so taken aback as when a saw yo' theere,
like a ghost, a-standin' agin a gravestone. How white and wan yo' do
look!'

'Ay!' said he, wearily, 'wan and weak enough.'

'But I hope you're getting better, sir,' said Sylvia, in a low
voice, longing to speak to him, and yet wondering at her own
temerity.

'Thank you, my lass. I'm o'er th' worst.'

He sighed heavily.

Philip now spoke.

'We're doing him no kindness a-keeping him standing here i' t'
night-fall, and him so tired.' And he made as though he would turn
away. Kinraid's two sailor friends backed up Philip's words with
such urgency, that, somehow, Sylvia thought they had been to blame
in speaking to him, and blushed excessively with the idea.

'Yo'll come and be nursed at Moss Brow, Charley,' said Molly; and
Sylvia dropped her little maidenly curtsey, and said, 'Good-by;'
and went away, wondering how Molly could talk so freely to such a
hero; but then, to be sure, he was a cousin, and probably a
sweetheart, and that would make a great deal of difference, of
course.

Meanwhile her own cousin kept close by her side.

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter VII - TETE-A-TETE.--THE WILL Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter VII - TETE-A-TETE.--THE WILL

Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter VII - TETE-A-TETE.--THE WILL
'And now tell me all about th' folk at home?' said Philip, evidentlypreparing to walk back with the girls. He generally came toHaytersbank every Sunday afternoon, so Sylvia knew what she had toexpect the moment she became aware of his neighbourhood in thechurchyard.'My feyther's been sadly troubled with his rheumatics this weekpast; but he's a vast better now, thank you kindly.' Then,addressing herself to Molly, she asked, 'Has your cousin a doctor tolook after him?''Ay, for sure!' said Molly, quickly; for though she knew nothingabout the matter, she was determined to suppose that her cousin hadeverything becoming an invalid as well
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter V - STORY OF THE PRESS-GANG Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter V - STORY OF THE PRESS-GANG

Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter V - STORY OF THE PRESS-GANG
For a few days after the evening mentioned in the last chapter theweather was dull. Not in quick, sudden showers did the rain comedown, but in constant drizzle, blotting out all colour from thesurrounding landscape, and filling the air with fine gray mist,until people breathed more water than air. At such times theconsciousness of the nearness of the vast unseen sea acted as adreary depression to the spirits; but besides acting on the nervesof the excitable, such weather affected the sensitive or ailing inmaterial ways. Daniel Robson's fit of rheumatism incapacitated himfrom stirring abroad; and to a man of his active
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT