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It was not at all a common thing, as one might know, for Widow Precious to be able to escape from casks and taps, and the frying-pan of eggs demanded by some half-drowned fisherman, also the reckoning of notches on the bench for the pints of the week unpaid for, and then to put herself into her two best gowns (which she wore in the winter, one over the other—a plan to be highly commended to ladies who never can have dress enough) and so to enjoy, without losing a penny, the warmth of the neighbourhood of a congregation. In the afternoon she could hardly ever do it, even if she had so wished, with knowledge that this was common people's time; so if she went at all, it must-in spite of the difference of length—be managed in the morning And this very morning here she was, earnest, humble, and devout, with both the tap-keys in her pocket, and turning the leaves with a smack of her thumb, not only to show her learning, but to get the full credit of the rector's pew.
Now if the good rector had sent for this lady, instead of his daughter Janetta, the sermon which he brought would have been the one to preach, and that about Cæsar might have stopped at home; for no sooner did the widow begin to look about, taking in the congregation with a dignified eye, and nodding to her solvent customers, than the wrath of perplexity began to gather on her goodly countenance. To see that distinguished stranger was to know him ever afterwards; his power of eating, and of paying, had endeared his memory; and for him to put up at any other house were foul shame to the · Cod Fish.'
• Hath a' put up his beastie ?' she whispered to her eldest daughter, who came in late.
• Naa, naa, no beastie,' the child replied, and the widow's peace of mind was gone; for sooth to say, no Master Rideout, nor any other patron of free-trade was here, but Geoffrey Mordacks, of York city, general factor, and universal agent.
It was beautiful to see how Dr. Upround, firmly delivering his text, and stoutly determined to spare nobody, even insisted in the present case upon looking at the man he meant to hit, because he was not his parishioner. The sermon was eloquent, and even trenchant. The necessity of duties was urged most sternly; if not of directly Divine institution (though learned parallels were adduced, which almost proved them to be so), yet to every decent Christian citizen they were synonymous with duty. To defy or elude them, for the sake of paltry gain, was a dark crime recoiling on the criminal; and the preacher drew a contrast between such guilty ways and the innocent path of the fisherman. Neither did he even relent and comfort, according to his custom, towards the end ; that part was there, but he left it out; and the only consolation for any poor smuggler in all the discourse, was the final · Amen.'
But to the rector's great amazement, and inward indignation, the object of his sermon seemed to take it as a personal compliment.
larly fixed by the gaze of the eloquent divine, concluded that it was from his superior intelligence, and visible gifts of appreciation. Delighted with this—for he was not free from vanity—what did he do but return the compliment, not indecorously, but nodding very gently, as much as to say: "That was very good indeed; you were quite right, sir, in addressing that to me; you perceive that it is far above these common people. I never heard a better sermon.'
What a hardened rogue you are!' thought Dr. Upround; how feebly and incapably I must have put it! If you ever come again, you shall have my Abab sermon.'
But the clergyman was still more astonished a very few minutes afterwards. For, as he passed out of the churchyard-gate, receiving, with his wife and daughter, the kindly salute of the parish, the same tall stranger stood before him, with a face as hard as a statue's, and, making a short, quick flourish with his hat, begged for the honour of shaking his hand. • Sir, it is to thank
finest sermon I ever had the privilege of hearing. My name is Mordacks, and I flatter nobody -except myself, that I know a good thing when I get it.'
“Sir, I am obliged to you, said Dr. Upround stiffy, and not without suspicion of being bantered, so dry was the stranger's countenance, and his manner so peculiar; "and if I have been enabled to say a good word in season, and its season lasts, it will be a source of satisfaction to me.'
• Yes, I fear there are many smugglers here. But I am no Revenue officer, as your congregation seemed to think. May I call upon business to-morrow, sir ? Thank you; then may I say ten o'clock-your time of beginning, as I hear ? Mordacks is my name, sir, of York city, not unfavourably known there. Ladies, my duty to you!'
What an extraordinary man, my dear!' Mrs. Upround exclaimed, with some ingratitude, after the beautiful bow she had received.
may talk as he likes; but he must be a smuggler. He said that he was not an officer; that shows it, for they always run into the opposite extreme. You have converted him, my dear; and I am sure that we ought to be much obliged to him. If he comes tomorrow morning, to give up all his lace, do try to remember how my little all has been ruined in the wash, and I am sick of working at it.
My dear, he is no smuggler. I begin to recollect. He was down here in the summer; and I made a great mistake. I took him for Rideout; and I did the same to-day. When I see him to-morrow, I shall beg his pardon. One gets so hurried in the vestry always; they are so impatient with their fiddles! A great deal of it was Janetta's fault.'
“It always is my fault, papa, somehow or other,' the young lady answered, with a faultless smile: and so they went home to the early
Papa, I am in such a state of excitement; I am quite unfit to go to church this afternoon !' Miss U pround exclaimed, as they set forth again. “You may put me in stocks made out of hassocks you may rope me to the Flodden Field man's monument, of the ominous name of “ Constable ;" but whatever you do, I shall never attend ; and I feel that it is so sinful.'
* Janetta, your mamma has that feeling sometimes ; for instance, she has it this afternoon; and there is a good deal to be said for it. But I fear that it would grow with indulgence.'
“I can firmly fancy that it never would; though one cannot be sure without trying. Suppose that I were to try it just once, and let you
know how it feels at tea-time.' My dear, we are quite round the corner of the lane! The example would be too shocking.'
Now, don't you make any excuses, papa. Only one woman can have seen us yet; and she is so blind, she will think it was her fault. May I go? Quick, before anyone else comes.'
If you are quite sure, Janetta, of being in a frame of mind which unfits you for the worship of your Maker
• As sure as a pike-staff, dear papa.'
“ Then, by all means go; go before anybody sees you, for whom it might be undesirable ; and correct your thoughts, and endeavour to get into a befitting state of mind by tea-time.
*Certainly, papa. I will go down on the stones and look at the sea. That always makes me better; because it is so large and so uncomfortable.'
The rector went on to do his duty, by himself. A parrow-minded man might have shaken solemn head, even if he had allowed such dereliction. But Dr. Upround knew that the girl was good, and he never put strain upon her honesty. So away she sped by a lonely little foot-path, where nobody could take from her contagion of bad morals; and avoiding the incline of boats, she made off nicely for the quiet outer bay, and there, upon a shelfy rock, she sat and breathed the sea.
Flamborough, excellent place as it is, and delightful, and full of interest for people who do not live there, is apt to grow dull perhaps for spirited youth, in the scanty and foggy winter light. There is not so very much of that choice product generally called "society, by a man who has a house to let in an eligible neighbourhood, and by ladies who do not heed their own. Moreover, it is vexatious not to have more rogues to talk about.
That scarcity may be less lamentable now, being one that takes care to redress itself, and perhaps any amateur purchaser of fish may find rogues enough now for his interest. But the rector's daughter pined for neither society nor scandal: she had plenty of interest in her life, 'and in pleasing other people, whenever she could do it with pleasure to herself, and that was nearly always. Her the want of such things ; which we long for when they happen to be scarce, and declare them to be our first need, under the sweet name of repose.
Her mind was a little disturbed by rumours, wonders, and uncertainty. She was not at all in love with Robin Lyth, and laughed at his vanity, quite as much as she admired his gallantry. She looked upon him also as of lower rank, kindly patronised by her father, but not to be treated as upon an equal footing. He might be of any rank, for all that was known ; but he must be taken to belong to those who had brought him up and fed him. Janetta was a lively girl, of quick perception and some discretion, though she often talked much nonsense. She was rather proud of her position, and somewhat disdainful of uneducated folk; though (thanks to her father) Lyth was not one of these. Possibly love (if she had felt it) would have swept away such barriers ; but Robin was grateful to his patron, and, knowing his own place in life, would rightly have thought it a mean return to attempt to inveigle the daughter. So they liked one another--but nothing more. It was not, therefore, for his sake only, but for her father's, and that of the place, that Miss Upround now was anxious. For days and days she had watched the sea with unusual forebodings, knowing that a great importation was toward, and pretty sure to lead to blows, after so much prepararation. With feminine zeal, she detested poor Carroway, whom she regarded as a tyrant and a spy; and she would have clapped her hands at beholding the three cruisers run upon a shoal and there stick fast. And as for King George, she had never believed that he was the proper king of England. There were many staunch Jacobites still in Yorkshire, and especially the bright young ladies.
To-night, at least, the coast was likely to be uninvaded. Smugglers, even if their own forces would make breach upon the day of rest, durst not outrage the piety of the land, which would only deal with kegs indoors. The coastguard being for the most part southerns, splashed about as usual—a far more heinous sin against the Word of God than smuggling. It is the manner of Yorkshiremen to think for themselves, with boldness, in the way they are brought up to: and they made it a point of serious doubt whether the orders of the King himself could set aside the Fourth Commandment, though his arms were over it.
Dr. Upround's daughter, as she watched the sea, felt sure that, even if the goods were ready, no attempt at landing would be made that night, though something might be done in the morning. But even that was not very likely; because (as seemed to be widely known) the venture was a very large one, and the landers would require a whole night's work to get entirely through with it.
“I wish it was over, one way or the other, she kept on saying to herself, as she gazed at the dark weary lifting of the sea; 'it keeps one unsettled as the waves themselves. Sunday always makes me but how can I help it? Why, there is a boat, I do declare! Well, even a boat is welcome, just to break this grey monotony. boat can it be? None of ours, of course. And what can they want with our Church Cave? I hope they understand its dangers.'
Although the wind was not upon the shore, and no long rollers were setting in, short, uncomfortable, clumsy waves were lolloping under the steep grey cliffs, and casting up splashes of white here and there. To enter that cave is a risky thing, except at very favourable times ; and even then some experience is needed, for the rocks around it are like knives, and the boat must generally be backed in, with more use of fender and hook, than of oars. But the people in the boat seemed to understand all that. There were two men rowing, and one steering with an oar, and a fourth standing up, as if to give directions; though in truth he knew nothing about it, but hated even to seem to play second fiddle.
• What a strange thing !' Janetta thought, as she drew behind a rock that they might not see her. I could almost declare that the man standing up is that most extraordinary gentleman papa preached quite the wrong sermon at. Truly, he deserves the Ahab one, for spying our caves out on a Sunday. He must be a smuggler, after all, or a very crafty agent of the Revenue. Well, I never ! That old man steering, as sure as I live, is Robin Cockscroft, by the scarlet handkerchief round his head. Oh, Robin, Robin! could I ever have believed that you would break the Sabbath so? But the boat is not Robin's. What boat can it be? I have not stayed away from church for nothing. One of the men rowing has got no legs, when the boat goes up and down. It must be that villain of a tipsy Joe, who used to keep the “Monument." I heard that he was come back again, to stump for his beer as usual : and his son, that sings like the big ohurch-bell, and has such a very fine face and one leg-why, he is the man that pulls the other oar. Was there ever such a boat-load? But they know what they are doing.'
Truly it was, as the young lady said, an extraordinary boat's crew. Old Robin Cockscroft, with a fringe of silver hair escaping from the crimson silk, which he valued so much more than it, and his face still grand (in spite of wrinkles and some weakness of his eyes), keenly understanding every wave, its character, temper, and complexity of influence; as only a man can understand, who bas for his life stood over them. Then tngging at the oars, or rather dipping them with a short wellpractised plunge, and very little toil of body, two ancient sailors, one considerably older than the other, inasmuch as he was his father, yet chips alike from a sturdy block, and fitted up with jury stumps, Old Joe pulled rather the better oar, and called his son a one-legged fiddler,' when he missed the dip of wave; while Mordacks stood with his legs apart, and, playing the easy part of critic, had his sneers at both of them. But they let him gibe to his liking; because they knew their work, and he did not. And, upon the whole, they went