Page images


Yea, this man's brow, like to a title-leaf,
Foretells the nature of a tragic volume;
So looks the strand whereon th' imperious flood
Hath left a witness'd usurpation.


Edith was seated upon the lawn at Hales Court, as already stated, reflecting upon the enlarged charity which not only governed Agatha's actions, but seemed to pervade every feeling of her heart, when she was startled at hearing herself called in a loud whisper, and still more surprized when, upon looking up, she beheld Chervil and his wife, who, having espied her from the road, had cautiously approached the sunk fence, screening themselves among the

branches that overhung one of its extremities. “Good Heavens!” ejaculated Edith, “what is the matter? Is all well at Orchard Place ? Nothing has happened to dear Hetty, I hope ?"

“No, Miss Edy, nought ha' hap'd to our Het, and all be buxom at Orchit Place, tha Lord be praised therevor !” said Madge, whom her quiet husband willingly allowed to be the spokeswoman; “but we ha' got a zummat to tell ye, nif we be sartin shower we shan't be auverheard by anone o' the Papishes hereaway."

“ You may speak freely; there is not a soul near us," said Edith.

Notwithstanding this assurance Madge looked suspiciously around her, after which she proceeded to state in an eager whisper the stranger's arrival at the farm, the mysterious cross and greyhound which she had discovered, her reasons for concluding that he was a Papist bound to Hales Court, and her conviction that some Popish plot was hatching, ejaculating at the conclusion of her narrative, “Now, Lors

love ye, Miss Edy! 'on't ye quit theazam 'dolotrous blood-drowthy volk, and goo whome along wi' us, avore ye be convarted, or any orra mischief be adood to ye !"

Edith, whose quick feelings made her somewhat hasty in her temper, had hardly patience to wait the conclusion of this ridiculous statement, and could not altogether repress her indignation as she exclaimed, “My good friends, how can you give way to such stupid prejudices and preposterous apprehensions? Believe me, it would be well for all of us, if we were as good and as well disposed Christians as the excellent family with whom I am now residing. obliged by the interest in my welfare which has induced you to take so long a walk, but I must request


you will immediately return to the farm, attend in future to your own concerns, and leave me to manage mine.”

It may be doubted whether honest farmer Chervil had ever encountered the Horatian dictum, that our minds are more slowly excited by what we hear than by what we see, but he had

I am

evidently arrived at the same conclusion, for he took from his pocket one of the coarse prints, representing the cruelties to which the Protestants were subject in France under the persecution then carried on by Louis the Fourteenth: engravings wherein the imagination of the artist unnecessarily added horrors to the reality, and which had been widely circulated since the revocation of the Edict of Nantz, more especially by the English Protestants in the present crisis of their religion. As Chervil handed the print over the fence, he exclaimed with the look and tone of one who considers that he has advanced a conclusive argument,

“ There, Miss Edy, what zay to thic? "Ool ye b'leeve now what zort o' butchers theazam Papishes be? Aw, ecs, I zee ye do, and ye'll coom along wi' us, 'on't ye?"

Edith had cast her eyes upon the paper, but she instantly returned it, saying, “ The family of Hales Court condemn the cruel and abominable proceedings of the French King, as much as you or I can, and I would not for the world that

they should overhear you, or see this offensive print. Away! away! return to your farm. I will listen no more to this nonsense."

“ Remember, Miss Edy, there's a Roman parson in tha houz, that wears a bald head, and belongs to the Scarlet abomination, and crosses himzel' wi's vinger, and kneels down avore a mommick,” cried Madge.

“ And dwon't ee vorget, if any thing do happen,” added the husband — “ that I cried war-whing ! in your ear. Howsomdever, I do hope no offence, I do hope you'll vorgee us, and zo good bwye to ye, Miss Edy, good bwye !"

Edith having by this time returned towards the house, the disappointed Chervil and his wife were fain to regain the road, and trudge homewards, bitterly condemning her obstinacy and incredulity.

“ Sim to me," said Madge, “ she be clear auverlooked a'ready by Miss Agatha, as they do call tha creetur, thof I think mysel she be zome mander o'witch, and I woodn' mind betting a pwint o’ yale she could niver cross

« PreviousContinue »