Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

not trouble you about the state of the cottages
in question, because I remembered how our
last argument on the subject ended, and wished
to avoid a recurrence of the same unpleasant-
ness. Since you are put to no expence, I can-
not conceive your making any reasonable ob-
jection to my laying out a few pounds of what
is my own, in getting rid of the infection left
by the fever, which, otherwise, would hang for
months about the miserable hovels I am in the
habit of visiting.”

“ Your own money !” said Roger, coarsely,
“One would think, to hear you talk, Lewis,
that you were the Rector of Maydwell! Hol-
combe calls you a meddling prig for your pains,
and abuses you, as you deserve, for thrusting
yourself into his parish. I can't understand
what takes you there. That old humbugging
widow Farleigh dropped me a curtsey, for-
sooth; as if I would go a step out of my way
to help her to put Derwent's cottage to rights !
I'll be bound, as you are so flush of cash, she

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

274

SIR FREDERICK DERWENT.

got the money from you to do it up; for the place was all set in order."

“No !” said Lewis, a glow of pleasure illuminating his dark features. “I have been to see her, when the children were ill; but I did not give her money. Our own people are too' much in want of the little I can spare. Sir Frederick Derwent must have had this done. I am glad he thought of it."

“It was time, certainly :” said Roger, who could perceive the mote in his neighbour's eye plainly, though the beam was in his own. “ You could see daylight through the cracks in the walls, as you rode past, and the stagnant water about the place was enough to breed the fever. I'll tell you what, Lewis. It doesn't answer to file your own nest, and go about teaching the country-people what a sinner I am; putting discontented notions into their heads concerning the state in which it is the Lord's pleasure, not mine, to place

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

them. I'm sick to death of it; and the long and the short of the matter is, that, either you must keep to teaching the children their catechism-which, in my day, instructed people not to covet ;--and preach resignation, not rebellion, to the labourers; or the ricks will be in a blaze, and your father's house burning about your ears, the first long night of winter !"

Lewis turned somewhat red, as his brother's voice rose; but he kept down his temper.

“No more of this, Roger !” he said, imperatively. “You know as well as I do, if the ricks are fired, what provocation the men have had. It is not I that teach them their wretched condition. Penury stares them in the face. You think, because you have no one to control you, that you can stint them of their wages, give them chaff and rubbish for grist, and let them live in dens you would deem unfit for cattle. Do not quarrel with those, who, seeing

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

farther than yourself, strive to avert the evil day, which will too surely come at last."

Roger Pemberton, as was usually the case when his brother spoke firmly, did not contradict him. He knew that Lewis was very popular; and some fear of the ill will his conduct justified, made him in reality anxious to keep his brother's influence on his own side. Lewis was, indeed, the guardian angel of his father's house. It was the man's captious and overbearing temper that rendered him insulting. When his adversary turned upon him, he drew in his horns, and crept back like a snail into his shell,

Lewis was glad when he saw that, for this time, the danger was over. He had not quarrelled with his brother. Roger went off to his fields, grumbling, and probably venting his pent-up ill humour upon every person with whom he could more safely indulge it, than towards his high-spirited younger brother.

[ocr errors]

Meanwhile, the latter returned to his quiet book-room, which he had furnished on his return from college, and wrote on for several hours, scarcely altering his posture for a moment.

There was only just time for him to catch the post at Fordington, when his labour was ended. He sealed his dispatches, and set off across the fields at a rapid pace, with his brow clear of the clouds which had hung over it in the morning. The slumbering street of the little town had not yet been roused by the transit of the mail, nor by a visit from Sir Frederick Derwent. He had been for the last week in London. Fordington was in the dullest stage of its existence without him. The lodgers and shopkeepers had not even the hope of seeing him to keep up their spirits; and though Clarice and Laura often passed through, on their way to the beach, their movements were so quiet that the inquisitive inhabitants of the watering-place had nearly given up

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »