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heat and cold, were indifferent, a man of thews and sinews, as well as of girth and inches, and with a great heart in his great body. His intelligence was not remarkable, but he had plenty of common sense, which, however inconvenient to a theologian, is to a working clergyman the most valuable of all senses. And yet at this moment he was doing a very foolish thing, for what could be more contrary to common sense than to cherish so tenderly that last look of Evelyn Nicoll, whom he knew to be as good as engaged to another man?
Common report had given ber to Sir Robert's nephew, George Gresham, and while she had taken no pains to contradict it, her mother had, by implication, corroborated it. Indeed, it was understood that George was shortly expected at the Hall, for the very purpose of making himself better known to his future bride before the knot should be tied between them.
Still, as Evelyn had never with her own lips confirmed the general opinion, the curate gave himself the benefit (as he fondly imagined it to be) of the doubt, and persuaded himself that he was doing no harm in thus secretly worshipping his idol.
He was far too modest a man to suppose that his passion was returned; he was not half rich enough for her, he knew, nor half good enough for her, he thought—though in that last idea in my judgment he was mistaken -and she was altogether, he confessed, out of his reach. If he did entertain a hope that he should ever win her, it was one of the very vaguest kind ; but now and then he could not avoid giving himself up to it.
In his 'saner moments he foresaw that he must be content with honouring and admiring her as the wife of another, and would think himself happy if, under such circumstances, the opportunity might be afforded him of doing her some selfsacrificing service.
Such men there are in this nine
teenth century, by contrast with whose natures all that has been recorded of the so-called 'Ages of Chivalry 'grows. pale and dim. One other mistress he had who was not denied to him, Work, and his devotion to her was incessant. Some fools thought less of his labour in the Lord's Vineyard because he went about it as often as not with a short pipe in his mouth; he was labouring in it now (or words have lost their meaning), and though his pipe, by reason of the gale, was an impossibility, his attire was far from what is generally associated with the ecclesiastical calling. He wore a dark peajacket, with waistcoat and trousers of the same thick material ; and his black cravat was knotted instead of being tied in the orthodox way.
Thus he rode at the bay's best speed along the sandy roads, making occasional short cuts (not free from rabbit holes) across the heathery moor, till the lights of Archester gleamed before him.
Without drawing rein for an instant he galloped down the stony street to the little pier, which he knew on such a night would have its complement of seafaring men, watching their old enemy the storm, and in a few words. explained his errand.
A ship on the Lancet, opposite Halcombe Point, and the lifeboat wanted ; ten pounds a head from Sir Robert to each man that pulls an oar in her.'
It would doubtless have looked better in print' had he appealed only to these brave men's sense of duty, and it would have been sufficient, for the mariners of Archester were never backward in risking limb and life for their fellow-creatures; but, on the principle of 'surplusage being no ror,' the curate addressed them as we have described. Moreover, it saved time, and time--a few minutes more or less—was of immense importance to all those
upon that cruel reef (which, however, had thus far been the cause of their preservation). Time had be
come, indeed, the alternative of Eternity with them.
A rush was at once made for the boat-shed where the cork-jackets and all other things were kept; and in an incredibly short space of time eight men were ready for this perilous enterprise. There are two things which expedite human action above all other motive powers ; namely, the opposing elements of Fire and Water. The celerity with which a fire engine is got ready and started is the greatest triumph of human forethought and agility. Next to that is the quickness with which a lifeboat is got under weigh. From the shed at Archester were two 'slips,' one on either side, so that the boat could be launched to north or south, according to the quarter from which the wind was blowing; the men were in their places, and a score of eager pairs of hands were on her stern and sides ready to run the Swiftsure (contraction of Swift and Sure, I wonder ?) off the track on which she stood, when the coxswain suddenly roared, “Stop!' There was
man missing; only seven being in the boat beside the coxswain. From the list of the crew hard by (for everything was at hand in that place) he began to read out the names of those absent; 'George Parfitt ?' • Here,' answered a ready voice. * You are not George.'
'No; he is ill a-bed, but I am his brother.'
'A bold fellow, no doubt; but hardly strong enough for the tight job before us.
Hullo, sir, this is quite irregular.' This to Dyneley, who had slipped on a cork-jacket and sou’wester cap, and jumped into the boat.
No matter, coxswain, I am strong as any of you, and can pull as good an oar. There is not a moment to lose, I tell you—push off.'
There was a burst of cheering, which, however, in no way impeded the exertions of those who thus in
dulged their feelings, for at the same moment the boat began rapidly to move down the slope.
Steady, steady.' The moment she touched the sea it seemed to every man that he was under water. Never since the gallant Swiftsure had been built had she put out in the teeth of such a storm, the wind beat almost dead against the land, and strove with fran. tic screams and fiendish fury (the Prince of the Powers of the air being in command that night in person) to dash the boat back on the rocky shore. • She never, never,' shrieked the frantic blast, shall ride the main this night to rob the hungry waves of their human prey.'
Thrice the Swiftsure was cast a score of yards up the strand, then withdrawn like a plaything which a child throws from it only to pursue and clutch again, but the fourth time the oar-blades and the strong arms that use them are plied to such good purpose that she is flung back no
'Steady, men, steady,' cries the coxswain, for rowing against a moving mountain range renders time more difficult to keep than between Barnes and Putney;
once round the Point the wind will do our work for us.'
This was satisfactory so far as it went, but made it clear to every man (if he had not known it before) that the return to Archester against the wind would be a physical impossibility. After performing their perilous mission, should that be practicable, they would have to go on to Mirton Harbour (twenty miles away) if they should reach harbour at all, since to try Halcombe Point would be to go to pieces.
Such things are trifles to the heroes who man our lifeboats, and we ashore think still less of them, but supposing even the case of a country doctor robbed of his night's rest by a summons to a sick bed, and compelled to ride twenty miles in a storm which did not admit of his return, we should
call it a hard one ; add to this utmost of such a gale, ere the flowing tide fatigue of body and extreme peril of should engulf the last spar of the life, and give the laurel where it is Rhineland. due.
"Steady ; be ready to ship oars and Once round the Point the Swiftsure out with the grappling irons.' The flew before the wind, as though, in- next minute they were under her stead of being a bare boat, she were a quarter, and had made fast to it. racing cutter. She was following, in • The women first,' cried the coxfact, the very route of the Rhineland, swain, in a voice of thunder. There only the sea had a very different cus- were but three women left, and none tomer to deal with. The waves filled of these could move across the rocking her again and again, but her escape deck without men to help them. The pipes freed her from the deluge as first two were carried, rather than led, quickly as it was poured in; they and lifted into the Swiftsure; the third, threw her on her side, but she made Elise, used her own limbs, though stiff light of that, and even had they and cramped, upheld on either side thrown her over she would have right- by the American and Gresham. ed again in half a second--though, un- All sat where they were placed, happily empty.
without a word, as though astounded Thus hurried along at headlong (as they well might be) at their own speed it was no wonder that, in a deliverance. The wreck was clear of shorter time than it had taken the all save one man, who clung to the mare and her rider to cross the Moor, mast apparently stupefied. the one man in the boat to whom the 'Quick, quick,' exclaimed half-ause of his eyes was not denied for dozen voices. He never moved. the eight rowers, we may be sure, Are we all to be drowned for one cast no look behind them-exclaimed, fool ?' ejaculated the coxswain, pas* There she is, boys.'
sionately. 'Cast off, boys.' And there she was; half of her- One moment, sirree,' cried the the stern part—now covered by the clear shrill voice of the American. rising waves, and the other half, now He leapt back on the wreck, seized hid, now seen, with a bare mast stick- the still hesitating man round the ing out of it, covered with human waist, and fairly threw him among the beings, like bees in swarm. The sea rest. was running like a mill race, and the ' It's the poor Capen, Coxen; he sharp reef beneath it.
don't like to leave his ship,' said he 'I doubt if we can get nigh her,' apologetically. “I've felt the same ejaculated the coxswain.
myselfm-especially when I've had a * There are women
on board,' ob- share in her.' served Number Six, who was the As the boat once more flew before curate.
the wind its occupants could see a little • Never fear, Master Dy neley, but group upon the quay of Halcombe, we'll do what man can do to save 'em,' whose joy appeared only second to was the reply, not without a certain
These persons, of course, haughtiness in its tone. The waves knew not how many of the crew had and winds could be discounted, as it succumbed to the waves, or to the were, as a source of peril, but whether fatigues and privations of the night ; there was water enough above the they only saw that every soul upon rock to float the lifeboat to leeward of the wreck had been taken off ; and the wreck, was an experiment not to were in comparative safety. They be reckoned upon, but only tried. If were well aware that on their cruel they shot by her, it was plain they shore no boat could land in such a sea, could not put back again in the teeth but to many of the poor shivering crea
tures on board the Swiftsure it seemed "Ah, yes,' she sighed. strange enough that they should be Why do you sigh, darling?' turning their backs on these hospitable • Because this may be the last hour and friendly people.
in which I may say, "I love.” Out Gresham, of course, knew why they yonder-with the waves yawning for didn't land at The Point,' and secretly us, I told you the secrets of my heart ; he was not displeased that the attempt there seemed no harm in it, and it was could not be made. He recognized very sweet to tell them. But now we female forms upon the quay, and are no longer two fellow-creatures guessed, rightly enough, their identity; ! awaiting the same doom ; I am again and he had good-or at least suthicient ! a penniless girl, and you-you are Sir
-reason to congratulate himself that Robert Arden's nephew.' the Swiftsure was making for Mirton. Well, and what then,' said Gres. He was now turning over in his mind ham, lightly, but there was a look of whether it would not be better to trouble in his face that accorded ill wait a day or two before presenting with his jesting tone. himself to his friends at home, and to • I know not what then,' she anlet it be imagined that he had not swered. You know best how it will taken passage in the ill-fated Rhine
fare with us. But I have always land at all.
heard that the rich English are very The accommodation on board life- proud. There will be a great gulf boats is in extent considerable, but it fixed between you, Sir Robert's neis not of a select or private character. phew, and me, the governess of his Rescued folks settle down where they children.' can, and are seldom found to com- They are not his children,' replied plain of their quarters. The craft is Gresham ; 'they are the children of broad of beam, and there is room for his wife by her first marriage.' passengers, even in the very centre of • Indeed? Then you are his own it, without interfering with the rowers. kith and kin, and they are not.
His Here sat Elise Hurt, exhausted but very heir, perhaps? grateful, with the same loving arms Perhaps ; though I have never supporting her that had made her hold thought of that. When one has a secure upon the shrouds.
benefactor so kind as he has been, one 'I owe my life to you,' were the does not speculate upon his death.' first words she murmured in his ear. 'I hope not, dear. Pray do not be
Nay, darling, the Commodore, as annoyed with me _' for there had he calls himself' (he had once com- been a certain irritation in his tone: manded, as it turned out, a certain 'I only wish to look matters in the flotilla of trading vessels to the West face. As it seems to me you are bound, Indies) did his part; it was he, for above all things, to obey this good example, who called my attention to uncle's wishes ; and especially never the victualling department—I have to act counter to them. Is it likely, still a little brandy left, by-the-bye.' think you, that he will wish you to Not for me,' she said, putting aside
marry me?' the flask; 'I feel I shall live now. Is My dear Elise, I thought that it not strange, George, that wet and those who love were given to building cold as I am, in this open boat, and dream castles for love to live in ; with only a plank between us and whereas you build only obstacles to death, I am happier than I have ever love. It will be time enough to combeen ??
bat opposition when it has arisen. * It is not strange,' answered the There will, of course, be objections to young man tenderly.
"It is because our union, some even that have not enyou love.'
tered into your apprehensions; but we
must trust to time and happy chance. My uncle is very peculiar : a man of impulse and sentiment; by no means the hard, conventional man of the world you have probably pictured to yourself. But, no doubt, we must be prudent. It will not be necessary to tell the good folks at Halcombe all that we have said to one another. Nor even need you repeat the conviction you expressed just now that I was the happy means of saving your life last night; it is an exaggeration to start with, and to proclaim such a fact would be very injudicious. People would think that gratitude might cause you to overrate my deserts-do you understand, darling'
'I do not like concealments,' answered Elise, gravely. Besides, to dwell under the same roof with you, and never to be able to speak to you, nor look towards you, as I should wish to speak and look -No, Mr. Gresham, I could not do it.'
• What? You call ne Mr. Gresbam because you have no longer need of my loving service? That is ungen
Elise.' *You do not think so—you can-not think so,' answered the girl impetuously ; ' it gives me ten times the pain to address a cold word to you than it gives you to hear it. But it is better to say “ Farewell" now—cruel as it seems to part—than later on.'
We will never part, Elise ; I swear it.'
'Hush, hush !' for in his vehemence he had raised his voice, so that if those next to him had not been sunk in their own thoughts they might have heard him, despite the roar of the wind and the rusb of the wave. “God has been very good to us; do not call Him to witness to aught that does not lie in the path of duty. I fear-I fear that your love for me runs counter to it.'
Do not fear, Elise,' he answered gravely ; 'Love and Duty can never be in opposition to one another. Only, as I have said, we must expect obstacles. The course of true love never does run smooth, you know.'
Elise was silenced, if not convinced ; it was difficult, no doubt, to compel herself to picture mischances, not only to her own happiness, but to that of her preserver.
Presently they came in sight of Mirton, a picturesque village, built in zig-zag up steep cliffs ; but with a good harbour and breakwater. Once with in shelter of the latter the mountain waves lost their crests, the gale thun. dered harmless above their heads. With a few more strokes of the oar they reached the side of the little jetty where a few men were gathered together in the grey dawn.
Gresham and the Commodore assisted Elise to land, and were escort
the winding street to the little inn, when they were overtaken by one of the crew, who seemed about to address them.
'I will see you in five minutes, my good fellow,' said Gresham. For the brave work you and your mates have performed to night, no reward can be sufficient, but What? Dyneley ?'
· Yes, it is I,' answered the curate, removing his sou’-wester. I could scarcely believe my eyes when I saw you step into the boat; and when I felt sure of your identity I had no breath for even a word of recognition.'
Then Gresham remembered that the features of this man had seemed somewhat familiar to him ; he had had other things to think about, or else there had been plenty of opportunities of observing him, for he bad sat cheek-by-jowl with Number Six' for the last two hours.
(To be continued.)