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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSylvia's Lovers - Chapter XXV - COMING TROUBLES
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Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter XXV - COMING TROUBLES Post by :franco Category :Long Stories Author :Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell Date :January 2011 Read :2202

Click below to download : Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter XXV - COMING TROUBLES (Format : PDF)

Sylvia's Lovers - Chapter XXV - COMING TROUBLES

The morning brought more peace if it did not entirely dissipate
fear. Daniel seemed to have got over his irritability, and was
unusually kind and tender to wife and daughter, especially striving
by silent little deeds to make up for the sharp words he had said
the night before to the latter.

As if by common consent, all allusion to the Saturday night's
proceedings was avoided. They spoke of the day's work before them;
of the crops to be sown; of the cattle; of the markets; but each one
was conscious of a wish to know more distinctly what were the
chances of the danger that, to judge from Philip's words, hung over
them, falling upon them and cutting them off from all these places
for the coming days.

Bell longed to send Kester down into Monkshaven as a sort of spy to
see how the land lay; but she dared not manifest her anxiety to her
husband, and could not see Kester alone. She wished that she had
told him to go to the town, when she had had him to herself in the
house-place the night before; now it seemed as though Daniel were
resolved not to part from him, and as though both had forgotten that
any peril had been anticipated. Sylvia and her mother, in like
manner, clung together, not speaking of their fears, yet each
knowing that it was ever present in the other's mind.

So things went on till twelve o'clock--dinner-time. If at any time
that morning they had had the courage to speak together on the
thought which was engrossing all their minds, it is possible that
some means might have been found to avert the calamity that was
coming towards them with swift feet. But among the uneducated--the
partially educated--nay, even the weakly educated--the feeling
exists which prompted the futile experiment of the well-known
ostrich. They imagine that, by closing their own eyes to apprehended
evil, they avert it. The expression of fear is supposed to
accelerate the coming of its cause. Yet, on the other hand, they
shrink from acknowledging the long continuance of any blessing, in
the idea that when unusual happiness is spoken about, it disappears.
So, although perpetual complaints of past or present grievances and
sorrows are most common among this class, they shrink from embodying
apprehensions for the future in words, as if it then took shape and
drew near.

They all four sate down to dinner, but not one of them was inclined
to eat. The food was scarcely touched on their plates, yet they were
trying to make talk among themselves as usual; they seemed as though
they dared not let themselves be silent, when Sylvia, sitting
opposite to the window, saw Philip at the top of the brow, running
rapidly towards the farm. She had been so full of the anticipation
of some kind of misfortune all the morning that she felt now as if
this was the very precursive circumstance she had been expecting;
she stood up, turning quite white, and, pointing with her finger,
said,--

'There he is!'

Every one at table stood up too. An instant afterwards, Philip,
breathless, was in the room.

He gasped out, 'They're coming! the warrant is out. You must go. I
hoped you were gone.'

'God help us!' said Bell, and sate suddenly down, as if she had
received a blow that made her collapse into helplessness; but she
got up again directly.

Sylvia flew for her father's hat. He really seemed the most unmoved
of the party.

'A'm noane afeared,' said he. 'A'd do it o'er again, a would; an'
a'll tell 'em so. It's a fine time o' day when men's to be trapped
and carried off, an' them as lays traps to set 'em free is to be put
i' t' lock-ups for it.'

'But there was rioting, beside the rescue; t' house was burnt,'
continued eager, breathless Philip.

'An' a'm noane goin' t' say a'm sorry for that, neyther; tho',
mebbe, a wouldn't do it again.'

Sylvia had his hat on his head by this time; and Bell, wan and
stiff, trembling all over, had his over-coat, and his leather purse
with the few coins she could muster, ready for him to put on.

He looked at these preparations, at his wife and daughter, and his
colour changed from its ruddy brown.

'A'd face lock-ups, an' a fair spell o' jail, but for these,' said
he, hesitating.

'Oh!' said Philip, 'for God's sake, lose no time, but be off.'

'Where mun he go?' asked Bell, as if Philip must decide all.

'Anywhere, anywhere, out of this house--say Haverstone. This
evening, I'll go and meet him there and plan further; only be off
now.' Philip was so keenly eager, he hardly took note at the time of
Sylvia's one vivid look of unspoken thanks, yet he remembered it
afterwards.

'A'll dang 'em dead,' said Kester, rushing to the door, for he saw
what the others did not--that all chance of escape was over; the
constables were already at the top of the little field-path not
twenty yards off.

'Hide him, hide him,' cried Bell, wringing her hands in terror; for
she, indeed they all, knew that flight would now be impossible.
Daniel was heavy, rheumatic, and, moreover, had been pretty severely
bruised on that unlucky night.

Philip, without another word, pushed Daniel before him upstairs,
feeling that his own presence at Haytersbank Farm at that hour of
the day would be a betrayal. They had just time to shut themselves
up in the larger bed-room, before they heard a scuffle and the
constables' entry down-stairs.

'They're in,' said Philip, as Daniel squeezed himself under the bed;
and then they held quite still, Philip as much concealed by the
scanty, blue-check curtain as he could manage to be. They heard a
confusion of voices below, a hasty moving of chairs, a banging of
doors, a further parley, and then a woman's scream, shrill and
pitiful; then steps on the stairs.

'That screech spoiled all,' sighed Philip.

In one instant the door was opened, and each of the hiders was
conscious of the presence of the constables, although at first the
latter stood motionless, surveying the apparently empty room with
disappointment. Then in another moment they had rushed at Philip's
legs, exposed as these were. They drew him out with violence, and
then let him go.

'Measter Hepburn!' said one in amaze. But immediately they put two
and two together; for in so small a place as Monkshaven every one's
relationships and connexions, and even likings, were known; and the
motive of Philip's coming out to Haytersbank was perfectly clear to
these men.

'T' other 'll not be far off,' said the other constable. 'His plate
were down-stairs, full o' victual; a seed Measter Hepburn a-walking
briskly before me as a left Monkshaven'

'Here he be, here he be,' called out the other man, dragging Daniel
out by his legs, 'we've getten him.'

Daniel kicked violently, and came out from his hiding-place in a
less ignominious way than by being pulled out by his heels.

He shook himself, and then turned, facing his captors.

'A wish a'd niver hidden mysel'; it were his doing,' jerking his
thumb toward Philip: 'a'm ready to stand by what a've done. Yo've
getten a warrant a'll be bound, for them justices is grand at
writin' when t' fight's over.'

He was trying to carry it off with bravado, but Philip saw that he
had received a shock, from his sudden look of withered colour and
shrunken feature.

'Don't handcuff him,' said Philip, putting money into the
constable's hand. 'You'll be able to guard him well enough without
them things.'

Daniel turned round sharp at this whisper.

'Let-a-be, let-a-be, my lad,' he said. 'It 'll be summut to think on
i' t' lock-up how two able-bodied fellys were so afeared on t' chap
as reskyed them honest sailors o' Saturday neet, as they mun put him
i' gyves, and he sixty-two come Martinmas, and sore laid up wi' t'
rheumatics.'

But it was difficult to keep up this tone of bravado when he was led
a prisoner through his own house-place, and saw his poor wife
quivering and shaking all over with her efforts to keep back all
signs of emotion until he was gone; and Sylvia standing by her
mother, her arm round Bell's waist and stroking the poor shrunken
fingers which worked so perpetually and nervously in futile
unconscious restlessness. Kester was in a corner of the room,
sullenly standing.

Bell quaked from head to foot as her husband came down-stairs a
prisoner. She opened her lips several times with an uneasy motion,
as if she would fain say something, but knew not what. Sylvia's
passionate swollen lips and her beautiful defiant eyes gave her face
quite a new aspect; she looked a helpless fury.

'A may kiss my missus, a reckon,' said Daniel, coming to a
standstill as he passed near her.

'Oh, Dannel, Dannel!' cried she, opening her arms wide to receive
him. 'Dannel, Dannel, my man!' and she shook with her crying, laying
her head on his shoulder, as if he was all her stay and comfort.

'Come, missus! come, missus!' said he, 'there couldn't be more ado
if a'd been guilty of murder, an' yet a say again, as a said afore,
a'm noane ashamed o' my doings. Here, Sylvie, lass, tak' thy mother
off me, for a cannot do it mysel', it like sets me off.' His voice
was quavering as he said this. But he cheered up a little and said,
'Now, good-by, oud wench' (kissing her), 'and keep a good heart,
and let me see thee lookin' lusty and strong when a come back.
Good-by, my lass; look well after mother, and ask Philip for
guidance if it's needed.'

He was taken out of his home, and then arose the shrill cries of the
women; but in a minute or two they were checked by the return of one
of the constables, who, cap in hand at the sight of so much grief,
said,--

'He wants a word wi' his daughter.'

The party had come to a halt about ten yards from the house. Sylvia,
hastily wiping her tears on her apron, ran out and threw her arms
round her father, as if to burst out afresh on his neck.

'Nay, nay, my wench, it's thee as mun be a comfort to mother: nay,
nay, or thou'll niver hear what a've got to say. Sylvie, my lass,
a'm main and sorry a were so short wi' thee last neet; a ax thy
pardon, lass, a were cross to thee, and sent thee to thy bed wi' a
sore heart. Thou munnot think on it again, but forgie me, now a'm
leavin' thee.'

'Oh, feyther! feyther!' was all Sylvia could say; and at last they
had to make as though they would have used force to separate her
from their prisoner. Philip took her hand, and softly led her back
to her weeping mother.

For some time nothing was to be heard in the little farmhouse
kitchen but the sobbing and wailing of the women. Philip stood by
silent, thinking, as well as he could, for his keen sympathy with
their grief, what had best be done next. Kester, after some growls
at Sylvia for having held back the uplifted arm which he thought
might have saved Daniel by a well-considered blow on his captors as
they entered the house, went back into his shippen--his cell for
meditation and consolation, where he might hope to soothe himself
before going out to his afternoon's work; labour which his master
had planned for him that very morning, with a strange foresight, as
Kester thought, for the job was one which would take him two or
three days without needing any further directions than those he had
received, and by the end of that time he thought that his master
would be at liberty again. So he--so they all thought in their
ignorance and inexperience.

Although Daniel himself was unreasoning, hasty, impulsive--in a
word, often thinking and acting very foolishly--yet, somehow, either
from some quality in his character, or from the loyalty of nature in
those with whom he had to deal in his every-day life, he had made
his place and position clear as the arbiter and law-giver of his
household. On his decision, as that of husband, father, master,
perhaps superior natures waited. So now that he was gone and had
left them in such strange new circumstances so suddenly, it seemed
as though neither Bell nor Sylvia knew exactly what to do when their
grief was spent, so much had every household action and plan been
regulated by the thought of him. Meanwhile Philip had slowly been
arriving at the conclusion that he was more wanted at Monkshaven to
look after Daniel's interests, to learn what were the legal
probabilities in consequence of the old man's arrest, and to arrange
for his family accordingly, than standing still and silent in the
Haytersbank kitchen, too full of fellow-feeling and heavy foreboding
to comfort, awkwardly unsympathetic in appearance from the very
aching of his heart.

So when his aunt, with instinctive sense of regularity and
propriety, began to put away the scarcely tasted dinner, and Sylvia,
blinded with crying, and convulsively sobbing, was yet trying to
help her mother, Philip took his hat, and brushing it round and
round with the sleeve of his coat, said,--

'I think I'll just go back, and see how matters stand.' He had a
more distinct plan in his head than these words implied, but it
depended on so many contingencies of which he was ignorant that he
said only these few words; and with a silent resolution to see them
again that day, but a dread of being compelled to express his fears,
so far beyond theirs, he went off without saying anything more. Then
Sylvia lifted up her voice with a great cry. Somehow she had
expected him to do something--what, she did not know; but he was
gone, and they were left without stay or help.

'Hush thee, hush thee,' said her mother, trembling all over herself;
'it's for the best. The Lord knows.'

'But I niver thought he'd leave us,' moaned Sylvia, half in her
mother's arms, and thinking of Philip. Her mother took the words as
applied to Daniel.

'And he'd niver ha' left us, my wench, if he could ha' stayed.'

'Oh, mother, mother, it's Philip as has left us, and he could ha'
stayed.'

'He'll come back, or mebbe send, I'll be bound. Leastways he'll be
gone to see feyther, and he'll need comfort most on all, in a fremd
place--in Bridewell--and niver a morsel of victual or a piece o'
money.' And now she sate down, and wept the dry hot tears that come
with such difficulty to the eyes of the aged. And so--first one
grieving, and then the other, and each draining her own heart of
every possible hope by way of comfort, alternately trying to cheer
and console--the February afternoon passed away; the continuous rain
closing in the daylight even earlier than usual, and adding to the
dreariness, with the natural accompaniments of wailing winds, coming
with long sweeps over the moors, and making the sobbings at the
windows that always sound like the gasps of some one in great agony.
Meanwhile Philip had hastened back to Monkshaven. He had no
umbrella, he had to face the driving rain for the greater part of
the way; but he was thankful to the weather, for it kept men
indoors, and he wanted to meet no one, but to have time to think and
mature his plans. The town itself was, so to speak, in mourning. The
rescue of the sailors was a distinctly popular movement; the
subsequent violence (which had, indeed, gone much further than has
been described, after Daniel left it) was, in general, considered as
only a kind of due punishment inflicted in wild justice on the
press-gang and their abettors. The feeling of the Monkshaven people
was, therefore, in decided opposition to the vigorous steps taken by
the county magistrates, who, in consequence of an appeal from the
naval officers in charge of the impressment service, had called out
the militia (from a distant and inland county) stationed within a
few miles, and had thus summarily quenched the riots that were
continuing on the Sunday morning after a somewhat languid fashion;
the greater part of the destruction of property having been
accomplished during the previous night. Still there was little doubt
but that the violence would have been renewed as evening drew on,
and the more desperate part of the population and the enraged
sailors had had the Sabbath leisure to brood over their wrongs, and
to encourage each other in a passionate attempt at redress, or
revenge. So the authorities were quite justified in the decided
steps they had taken, both in their own estimation then, and now, in
ours, looking back on the affair in cold blood. But at the time
feeling ran strongly against them; and all means of expressing
itself in action being prevented, men brooded sullenly in their own
houses. Philip, as the representative of the family, the head of
which was now suffering for his deeds in the popular cause, would
have met with more sympathy, ay, and more respect than he imagined,
as he went along the streets, glancing from side to side, fearful of
meeting some who would shy him as the relation of one who had been
ignominiously taken to Bridewell a few hours before. But in spite of
this wincing of Philip's from observation and remark, he never
dreamed of acting otherwise than as became a brave true friend. And
this he did, and would have done, from a natural faithfulness and
constancy of disposition, without any special regard for Sylvia.

He knew his services were needed in the shop; business which he had
left at a moment's warning awaited him, unfinished; but at this time
he could not bear the torture of giving explanations, and alleging
reasons to the languid intelligence and slow sympathies of Coulson.

He went to the offices of Mr. Donkin, the oldest established and most
respected attorney in Monkshaven--he who had been employed to draw
up the law papers and deeds of partnership consequent on Hepburn and
Coulson succeeding to the shop of John and Jeremiah Foster,
Brothers.

Mr. Donkin knew Philip from this circumstance. But, indeed, nearly
every one in Monkshaven knew each other; if not enough to speak to,
at least enough to be acquainted with the personal appearance and
reputation of most of those whom they met in the streets. It so
happened that Mr. Donkin had a favourable opinion of Philip; and
perhaps for this reason the latter had a shorter time to wait before
he obtained an interview with the head of the house, than many of
the clients who came for that purpose from town or country for many
miles round.

Philip was ushered in. Mr. Donkin sate with his spectacles pushed up
on his forehead, ready to watch his countenance and listen to his
words.

'Good afternoon, Mr. Hepburn!'

'Good afternoon, sir.' Philip hesitated how to begin. Mr. Donkin
became impatient, and tapped with the fingers of his left hand on
his desk. Philip's sensitive nerves felt and rightly interpreted the
action.

'Please, sir, I'm come to speak to you about Daniel Robson, of
Haytersbank Farm.'

'Daniel Robson?' said Mr. Donkin, after a short pause, to try and
compel Philip into speed in his story.

'Yes, sir. He's been taken up on account of this affair, sir, about
the press-gang on Saturday night.'

'To be sure! I thought I knew the name.' And Mr. Donkin's face became
graver, and the expression more concentrated. Looking up suddenly at
Philip, he said, 'You are aware that I am the clerk to the
magistrates?'

'No, sir,' in a tone that indicated the unexpressed 'What then?'

'Well, but I am. And so of course, if you want my services or advice
in favour of a prisoner whom they have committed, or are going to
commit, you can't have them, that's all.'

'I am very sorry--very!' said Philip; and then he was again silent
for a period; long enough to make the busy attorney impatient.

'Well, Mr. Hepburn, have you anything else to say to me?'

'Yes, sir. I've a deal to ask of you; for you see I don't rightly
understand what to do; and yet I'm all as Daniel's wife and daughter
has to look to; and I've their grief heavy on my heart. You could
not tell me what is to be done with Daniel, could you, sir?'

'He'll be brought up before the magistrates to-morrow morning for
final examination, along with the others, you know, before he's sent
to York Castle to take his trial at the spring assizes.'

'To York Castle, sir?'

Mr. Donkin nodded, as if words were too precious to waste.

'And when will he go?' asked poor Philip, in dismay.

'To-morrow: most probably as soon as the examination is over. The
evidence is clear as to his being present, aiding and abetting,--
indicted on the 4th section of 1 George I., statute 1, chapter 5.
I'm afraid it's a bad look-out. Is he a friend of yours, Mr
Hepburn?'

'Only an uncle, sir,' said Philip, his heart getting full; more from
Mr. Donkin's manner than from his words. 'But what can they do to
him, sir?'

'Do?' Mr. Donkin half smiled at the ignorance displayed. 'Why, hang
him, to be sure; if the judge is in a hanging mood. He's been either
a principal in the offence, or a principal in the second degree,
and, as such, liable to the full punishment. I drew up the warrant
myself this morning, though I left the exact name to be filled up by
my clerk.'

'Oh, sir! can you do nothing for me?' asked Philip, with sharp
beseeching in his voice. He had never imagined that it was a capital
offence; and the thought of his aunt's and Sylvia's ignorance of the
possible fate awaiting him whom they so much loved, was like a stab
to his heart.

'No, my good fellow. I'm sorry; but, you see, it's my duty to do all
I can to bring criminals to justice.'

'My uncle thought he was doing such a fine deed.'

'Demolishing and pulling down, destroying and burning
dwelling-houses and outhouses,' said Mr. Donkin. 'He must have some
peculiar notions.'

'The people is so mad with the press-gang, and Daniel has been at
sea hisself; and took it so to heart when he heard of mariners and
seafaring folk being carried off, and just cheated into doing what
was kind and helpful--leastways, what would have been kind and
helpful, if there had been a fire. I'm against violence and riots
myself, sir, I'm sure; but I cannot help thinking as Daniel had a
deal to justify him on Saturday night, sir.'

'Well; you must try and get a good lawyer to bring out all that side
of the question. There's a good deal to be said on it; but it's my
duty to get up all the evidence to prove that he and others were
present on the night in question; so, as you'll perceive, I can give
you no help in defending him.'

'But who can, sir? I came to you as a friend who, I thought, would
see me through it. And I don't know any other lawyer; leastways, to
speak to.'

Mr. Donkin was really more concerned for the misguided rioters than
he was aware; and he was aware of more interest than he cared to
express. So he softened his tone a little, and tried to give the
best advice in his power.

'You'd better go to Edward Dawson on the other side of the river; he
that was articled clerk with me two years ago, you know. He's a
clever fellow, and has not too much practice; he'll do the best he
can for you. He'll have to be at the court-house, tell him,
to-morrow morning at ten, when the justices meet. He'll watch the
case for you; and then he'll give you his opinion, and tell you what
to do. You can't do better than follow his advice. I must do all I
can to collect evidence for a conviction, you know.'

Philip stood up, looked at his hat, and then came forward and laid
down six and eightpence on the desk in a blushing, awkward way.

'Pooh! pooh!' said Mr. Donkin, pushing the money away. 'Don't be a
fool; you'll need it all before the trial's over. I've done nothing,
man. It would be a pretty thing for me to be feed by both parties.'

Philip took up the money, and left the room. In an instant he came
back again, glanced furtively at Mr. Donkin's face, and then, once
more having recourse to brushing his hat, he said, in a low voice--

'You'll not be hard upon him, sir, I hope?'

'I must do my duty,' replied Mr. Donkin, a little sternly, 'without
any question of hardness.'

Philip, discomfited, left the room; an instant of thought and Mr
Donkin had jumped up, and hastening to the door he opened it and
called after Philip.

'Hepburn--Hepburn--I say, he'll be taken to York as soon as may be
to-morrow morning; if any one wants to see him before then, they'd
better look sharp about it.'

Philip went quickly along the streets towards Mr. Dawson's, pondering
upon the meaning of all that he had heard, and what he had better
do. He had made his plans pretty clearly out by the time he arrived
at Mr. Dawson's smart door in one of the new streets on the other
side of the river. A clerk as smart as the door answered Philip's
hesitating knock, and replied to his inquiry as to whether Mr. Dawson
was at home, in the negative, adding, after a moment's pause--

'He'll be at home in less than an hour; he's only gone to make Mrs
Dawson's will--Mrs. Dawson, of Collyton--she's not expected to get
better.'

Probably the clerk of an older-established attorney would not have
given so many particulars as to the nature of his master's
employment; but, as it happened it was of no consequence, the
unnecessary information made no impression on Philip's mind; he
thought the matter over and then said--

'I'll be back in an hour, then. It's gone a quarter to four; I'll be
back before five, tell Mr. Dawson.'

He turned on his heel and went back to the High Street as fast as he
could, with a far more prompt and decided step than before. He
hastened through the streets, emptied by the bad weather, to the
principal inn of the town, the George--the sign of which was
fastened to a piece of wood stretched across the narrow street; and
going up to the bar with some timidity (for the inn was frequented
by the gentry of Monkshaven and the neighbourhood, and was
considered as a touch above such customers as Philip), he asked if
he could have a tax-cart made ready in a quarter of an hour, and
sent up to the door of his shop.

'To be sure he could; how far was it to go?'

Philip hesitated before he replied--

'Up the Knotting Lane, to the stile leading down to Haytersbank
Farm; they'll have to wait there for some as are coming.'

'They must not wait long such an evening as this; standing in such
rain and wind as there'll be up there, is enough to kill a horse.'

'They shan't wait long,' said Philip, decisively: 'in a quarter of
an hour, mind.'

He now went back to the shop, beating against the storm, which was
increasing as the tide came in and the night hours approached.

Coulson had no word for him, but he looked reproachfully at his
partner for his long, unexplained absence. Hester was putting away
the ribbons and handkerchiefs, and bright-coloured things which had
been used to deck the window; for no more customers were likely to
come this night through the blustering weather to a shop dimly
lighted by two tallow candles and an inefficient oil-lamp. Philip
came up to her, and stood looking at her with unseeing eyes; but the
strange consciousness of his fixed stare made her uncomfortable, and
called the faint flush to her pale cheeks, and at length compelled
her, as it were, to speak, and break the spell of the silence. So,
curiously enough, all three spoke at once. Hester asked (without
looking at Philip)--

'Yo're sadly wet, I'm feared?'

Coulson said--

'Thou might have a bit o' news to tell one after being on the gad
all afternoon.'

Philip whispered to Hester--

'Wilt come into t' parlour? I want a word wi' thee by oursel's.'

Hester quietly finished rolling up the ribbon she had in her hands
when he spoke, and then followed him into the room behind the shop
before spoken of.

Philip set down on the table the candle which he had brought out of
the shop, and turning round to Hester, took her trembling hand into
both of his, and gripping it nervously, said--

'Oh! Hester, thou must help me--thou will, will not thou?'

Hester gulped down something that seemed to rise in her throat and
choke her, before she answered.

'Anything, thou knows, Philip.'

'Yes, yes, I know. Thou sees the matter is this: Daniel Robson--he
who married my aunt--is taken up for yon riot on Saturday night at
t' Mariners' Arms----'

'They spoke on it this afternoon; they said the warrant was out,'
said Hester, filling up the sentence as Philip hesitated, lost for
an instant in his own thoughts.

'Ay! the warrant is out, and he's in t' lock-up, and will be carried
to York Castle to-morrow morn; and I'm afeared it will go bad with
him; and they at Haytersbank is not prepared, and they must see him
again before he goes. Now, Hester, will thou go in a tax-cart as
will be here in less than ten minutes from t' George, and bring them
back here, and they must stay all night for to be ready to see him
to-morrow before he goes? It's dree weather for them, but they'll
not mind that.'

He had used words as if he was making a request to Hester; but he
did not seem to await her answer, so sure was he that she would go.
She noticed this, and noticed also that the rain was spoken of in
reference to them, not to her. A cold shadow passed over her heart,
though it was nothing more than she already knew--that Sylvia was
the one centre of his thoughts and his love.

'I'll go put on my things at once,' said she, gently.

Philip pressed her hand tenderly, a glow of gratitude overspread
him.

'Thou's a real good one, God bless thee!' said he. 'Thou must take
care of thyself, too,' continued he; 'there's wraps and plenty i'
th' house, and if there are not, there's those i' the shop as 'll be
none the worse for once wearing at such a time as this; and wrap
thee well up, and take shawls and cloaks for them, and mind as they
put 'em on. Thou'll have to get out at a stile, I'll tell t' driver
where; and thou must get over t' stile and follow t' path down two
fields, and th' house is right before ye, and bid 'em make haste and
lock up th' house, for they mun stay all night here. Kester 'll look
after things.'

All this time Hester was hastily putting on her hat and cloak, which
she had fetched from the closet where they usually hung through the
day; now she stood listening, as it were, for final directions.

'But suppose they will not come,' said she; 'they dunnot know me,
and mayn't believe my words.'

'They must,' said he, impatiently. 'They don't know what awaits
'em,' he continued. 'I'll tell thee, because thou 'll not let out,
and it seems as if I mun tell some one--it were such a shock--he's
to be tried for 's life. They know not it's so serious; and,
Hester,' said he, going on in his search after sympathy, 'she's
like as if she was bound up in her father.'

His lips quivered as he looked wistfully into Hester's face at these
words. No need to tell her who was _she_. No need to put into words
the fact, told plainer than words could have spoken it, that his
heart was bound up in Sylvia.

Hester's face, instead of responding to his look, contracted a
little, and, for the life of her, she could not have helped
saying,--

'Why don't yo' go yourself, Philip?'

'I can't, I can't,' said he, impatiently. 'I'd give the world to go,
for I might be able to comfort her; but there's lawyers to see, and
iver so much to do, and they've niver a man friend but me to do it
all. You'll tell her,' said Philip, insinuatingly, as if a fresh
thought had struck him, 'as how I would ha' come. I would fain ha'
come for 'em, myself, but I couldn't, because of th' lawyer,--mind
yo' say because of th' lawyer. I'd be loath for her to think I was
minding any business of my own at this time; and, whatever yo' do,
speak hopeful, and, for t' life of yo', don't speak of th' hanging,
it's likely it's a mistake o' Donkin's; and anyhow--there's t' cart
--anyhow I should perhaps not ha' telled thee, but it's a comfort to
make a clean breast to a friend at times. God bless thee, Hester. I
don't know what I should ha' done without thee,' said he, as he
wrapped her well up in the cart, and placed the bundles of cloaks
and things by her side.

Along the street, in the jolting cart, as long as Hester could see
the misty light streaming out of the shop door, so long was Philip
standing bareheaded in the rain looking after her. But she knew that
it was not her own poor self that attracted his lingering gaze. It
was the thought of the person she was bound to.

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Daniel's unusually late absence from home disturbed Bell and Sylvianot a little. He was generally at home between eight and nine onmarket days. They expected to see him the worse for liquor at suchtimes; but this did not shock them; he was no worse than most of hisneighbours, indeed better than several, who went off once or twice ayear, or even oftener, on drinking bouts of two or three days'duration, returning pale, sodden, and somewhat shame-faced, when alltheir money was gone; and, after the conjugal reception was wellover, settling down into hard-working and decently sober men untilthe temptation again got power
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