« НазадПродовжити »
It won't hurt me,' he repeated. “In fact, I've got a hunter out of it. I shouldn't have had him else. Now I mean to keep him. Mine's only a bit of a place ; but it was my father's, and my grandfather's, and, I believe, my greatgrandfather's, but I won't speak to that. A hundred and nine acres. That's all. But such land that I'd rather have an acre of it than ten of this foul stuff we're passing.'
The companion looked out with a curious expression of interest at the land they were 'passing,' but said nothing, perhaps through the stoppage of the train.
We're in for more company,' said the farmer. 'Shouldn't you set this down for a doctor ?'
A gentleman with splashed leggings came and took his place in the seat nearest the platform, and turned round instantly to speak to some one who had accompanied him. His first words made the farmer smile significantly:
"You'll keep her quiet, my man, and be careful about the medicine.' .;
'Ay,' answered a gruff voice, while eight thick dirty fingers hooked themselves over the door. The platform was too low for the face of their owner to be seen by those farther in the carriage. Only the top of a grizzled rough head was visible to.them; and sometimes a bit of red forehead full of wrinkles ; and a pair of eyes bleared and bloodshot, and wildly intent on every word that fell from the doctor's mouth.
• Keep the children away as much as you can, you know.'
'Ay! And the light stuff in the queer-shaped bottle tonight, aint it? and the dark in the morning ?'
The doctor nodded.
There seemed to be no more to say ; but the fingers still clung obstinately to the door; and the bleared eyes still looked up into the doctor's face. There was apparently something more he wished to ask, and which the doctor did not wish to hear. He looked up and down the platform. The man's eyes followed the direction of his, and the grizzled head turned listening intently to the puffing of the engine.
Suddenly a broad pair of shoulders filled up the window. The man had set his foot on the step, his arms over the door, and brought his face close to the doctor's. A repulsive-looking face, with a square chin covered by a prickly beard of a week's growth. He said something which the others could not hear, but they saw the doctor look boldly at the face, and heard him say
"Well, and if it should be so? We are doing our best. If a ter all it should be so, you are a man, arn't you, and a father ? You know, you musn't forget that.'
The arms uncrossed with a heavy, awkward haste. The fingers hooked themselves on the door again. The grim face and unfragrant breath were gone. Then the fingers also disappeared, and the window was cleared.
The doctor unthinkingly put out his head to look after him, but drew it in quickly, and kicked his carpet-bag farther under the seat.
In a minute the fingers were again on the door, and the face came close up.
• Doctor !!
Jarman said as he was a comin' over to-morrow, agin, for the rent. If she's better, by the Lord ! I'll see him, and speak him civil. I will, Doctor ; but if it's that-'.
The thick voice died off into hard breathings. The eyes looked round the carriage at the two quiet occupants on the farther seats, encountering their eyes without seeming to see them.
If it's that, Doctor,' continued the thick voice, keep him off o' my place, will you ? Keep him wide of it, Doctor! He was there o' Thursday, and that set her off. She was by her. self, and he went on at her ever so long, and when he was gone, she skirled out with a silly laugh, and's been so ever since.'
Be off, my man! The train's moving,' said the Doctor. ‘Jarman said as the landlord's kep' writin' for the money. If he writes agin, tell Jarman--will you, Doctor?—to write back and say his d-d rotten pig-styes can't, and never won't be paid for in flesh and blood and money too. When we can live in 'em, instead o' dying in 'em, p’raps we can pay for 'em ; but we can't pay house-rent and coffin-rent, too, all the year round! What do they mean by a saying we don't pay? By the Lord ! we pay that as they'll be made to give us the receipts on, some day. Yes, yes! good-bye, Doctor. God bless yer!'
The Doctor turned to look at his fellow-travellers. Ono was gazing out of the window; the other, with a face full of sympathy, seemed to ask the same question that the niser. ble husband had been determined to have answered.
But the Doctor, though reticent as to his opinion of the woman's chance, could not help showing something of that which was in his thoughts. He explained to the young farmer that he had been called in to a bad case of typhus; and that it was a chance if he saved the poor woman's life, who had seven miserable children dependent on her, and on that poor desperate creature, her husband.
Nice thing, isn't it,' he asked, " for a gentleman to keep cottages on his estate that breed pestilence and death; and then himself spend every shilling he can wring out of his tenants in all the enjoyments of society ?'
And is this his land we are passing?' demanded the young farmer, with quite new interest in the state of the soil.
Before it was possible for the surgeon to reply, the gentleman in the corner turned from the window full faced upon the surgeon, who then first saw him, slightly coloured, hemmed, and took advantage of the slackening of the train to cry out, with his head at the window
Here—porter!'. “What may be the gentleman's name?' again asked the unsuspicious querist.
Cunliff !' was the stern reply from the far corner-the occupant of which again exchanged glances with the embarrassed, but not exactly ashamed surgeon, who, lifting his hat, said
"I wish you good-morning, sir!'
'Good-morning!' said the gentleman, as he responded to the courtesy with a menacing expression of face.
The young farmer followed with his eye the retreating form of the surgeon along the platform, then turned to ask more about this Mr. Cunliff and his land; but his new acquaintance was settling himself for a nap, and saying with a half-smile, as he shut his eyes
• Excuse me; I scarcely slept last night.'
And thus suddenly broke up the pleasant relations that had been growing between the two young men. This was much to the regret of the Kentish farmer, whose freshness of feeling, contrasted with his very limited intellectual experience, had caused him to look on his companion as a marvel of knowledge and eloquence; and to listen with so much earnestness,
faith, and admiration visible in his large, bright, joyous eyes, as to give new zest to the operations of the speaker's own mind ; and apparently he had felt in return a counter influ. ence working on himself. However, it now seemed all to go for nothing. Hardly a word more was said till the train stopped at Llansaintfraid ; and there, when they both found themselves standing on the platform, about to separate most likely for ever, with the rain making so great a noise on the glass overhead that they could scarcely hear each other speak, it seemed a question for the moment whether they wouldn't even part as absolute strangers. But the young farmer, even though a little hurt, could not help putting out his hand ; and it was grasped warmly just for a moment; then something was muttered about hoping to have the pleasure of meeting again somewhere or other, and the two separated-the one to go, as he said, to the Town,'the other to take the ‘Major's coach' just about to start for Dolgarrog. They separated, not even knowing each other's name.
The young farmer paused on the platform just for a moment, looking after his late companion; and seeing he was mistak ing his way, ran after him, and shouted
To the left!'
Thanks !' was shouted back, and then they were rapidly lost to each other in the distance.
OVER CRIBA BAN. To the farmer's surprise and vexation the coach was full. While he had been thinking of his late acquaintance, and obeying the impulse to set him right on his road, other passengers had hurried to secure the seats, and the train being a heavy one, the Dolgarrog portion of it soon filled the coach. There was a general outcry among the Welsh passengers to have him up or in somehow ; but the driver, a gentleman who owned the coach, said it was quite impossible; they were overloaded already.
The disappointed man looked black, and growled aloud
* Pleasant voyage !’ and hurried back out of the rain to the platform, from whence he went off to the town, which is at
some distance, fearing he would be obliged to stay over Sunday, when the coach did not run. Before entering the inn-yard he was overtaken by a man who had been hanging about the station till the coach was out of the way, and then hearing of the gentleman left behind, had run after him. He had come from Dolgarrog with a party of tourists, and was going back when the horses had rested.
How much ?' Five shillings, sir.' All right. Quick as you can.' About half an hour later, and while the farmer, whose spirits had sunk a little, was trying to congratulate himself as he sat before a fine cold sirloin of beef and a preposterously tall glass of ale, on his good fortune-'so economical, too!'the driver re-entered.
Wild night, sir, to cross the mountains. No idea of stopping here, I suppose ?'
Certainly not. Are you ready ? '
Oh, I see. As I'm not to be got rid of, I must have a companion. And he pays five shillings too, eh?'
The driver laughed. “Who is he?"
The driver handed a card, on which there was writing in pencil. It was a neat, almost elegant hand, though that perhaps was in a measure due to the care and minuteness compelled by the limited space.
‘Mr. John Rymer begs to apologise for the liberty he is taking, and trusts the occasion will be his sufficient excuse. He is most anxious to reach Dolgarrog to-night; but there are no horses obtainable either at the other inn or at this. A share in the return carriage, which has been pre-engaged by the gentleman he has the honour to address, is therefore his only resource. May he then venture to ask so great a favour?' Give my compliments—Mr. Robert Chamberlayne's coms—to Mr. Rymer, and say I shall be glad of his
Perhaps he will like to come in here. I shall soon
Then, as the driver moved off, he called after him: more passengers! It'll be “No” next time, even pect, you bring me a benighted woman and child I'