AT THE GREEN DRAGON.
BY BEATRICE HARRADEN.
It was a pouring September evening when
a stranger knocked at the door of the Crown
Inn. Old Mrs. Howells saw that he carried
a portmanteau in his hand.
"If it's a bedroom you want," she said, "I
can't be bothered with you. What with
brewing the beer and cleaning the brass, I've
more than I can manage. I'm that tired!"
"And so am I," said the stranger pathetically.
"Go over the way to the Green Dragon,"
suggested Mrs. Howells. "Mrs. Benbow may
be able to put you up. But what with the
brewing and the cleaning, I can't do with you."
The stranger stepped across the road to
the Green Dragon. He tapped at the door,
and a cheery little woman made her appearance.
She was carrying what they call in
Shropshire a devil of hot beer. It smelt good.
"Good-evening, ma'am," said the stranger.
"Can you house me for the night? The
hostess of the Crown Inn has turned me
away. But you surely will not do the same?
You observe what a bad cold I have."
Mrs. Benbow glanced sharply at the
stranger. She had not kept the Green
Dragon for ten years without learning to
judge somewhat of character; and to-night
she was particularly on her guard, for her
husband had gone to stay for two days with
some relatives in Shrewsbury, so that
Mrs. Benbow and old John of the wooden leg,
called Dot and carry one, were left as sole
guardians of the little wayside public house.
"It is not very convenient for me to take
you in," she said.
"And it would not be very convenient for
me to be shut out," he replied. "Besides
which, I have had a whiff of that hot beer."
At that moment a voice from the kitchen
cried impatiently. "Here, missus! where be
that beer of your'n. I be feeling quite faint-like!"
"As though he could call out like that if
he was faint!" laughed Mrs. Benbow, running
off into the kitchen.
When she returned she found the stranger
seated at the foot of the staircase.
"And what do you propose to do for me?"
he asked patiently.
There was no mistaking the genial manner.
Mrs. Benbow was conquered.
"I propose to fry some eggs and bacon for
your supper," she said cheerily. "And then
I propose to make your bedroom ready."
"Sensible woman!" he said, as he followed
her into the parlor, where a fire was burning
brightly. He threw himself into the
easychair, and immediately experienced that
sensation of repose and thankfulness which
comes over us when we have found a haven.
There he rested, content with himself and his
surroundings. The fire lit up his face, and
showed him to be a man of about forty years.
There was nothing especially remarkable
about him. The face in repose was sad and
thoughtful; and yet when he discovered a
yellow cat sleeping under the table, he smiled
as though some great pleasure had come into
"Come along, little comrade!" he said, as
he captured her. She looked up into his
face so frankly that the stranger was much
impressed. "Why, I do believe you are a
dog undergoing a cat incarnation," he
continued. "What qualities did you lack when
you were a dog, I wonder? Perhaps you did
not steal sufficiently well; perhaps you had
net cultivated restfulness. And your name?
Your name shall be Gamboge. I think that
is a suitable appellation for you--certainly
more suitable than most of the names
thrust upon unoffending humanity. My own
name, for instance, Hieronymus! Ah, you
may well mew! You are a thoroughly
So he amused himself until Mrs. Benbow
came with his supper. Then he pointed to
the cat and said quietly:
"That is a very companionable dog of yours."
Mrs. Benbow darted a look of suspicion at
"We call that a cat in Shropshire," she said,
beginning to regret that she had agreed to
house the stranger.
"Well, no doubt you are partially right,"
said the stranger solemnly; "but, at the
same time, you are partially wrong. To use
the language of the theosophists----"
Mrs. Benbow interrupted him.
"Eat your supper while it is hot," she
said, "then perhaps you'll feel better. Your
cold is rather heavy in your head, isn't it?"
He laughed good-temperedly, and smiled
at her as though to reassure her that he was
quite in his right senses; and then, without
further discussion, he began to make short
work of the fried eggs and bacon. Gamboge,
sitting quietly by the fireside, scorned
to beg; she preferred to steal. That is a
way some people have.
The stranger finished his supper, and lit his
pipe. Once or twice he began to doze. The
first time he was aroused by Gamboge, who
had jumped on the table, and was seeking
what she might devour.
"Ah, Gamboge," he said sleepily, "I am
sorry I have not left anything appetizing for
you. I was so hungry. Pray excuse."
Then he dozed off again. The second
time he was aroused by the sound of singing.
He caught the words of the chorus:
"I'll gayly sing from day to day,
If sorrows meet me on the way,
I'll bear them like a man."
"An excellent resolution," murmured the
stranger, becoming drowsy once more. "Only
I wish they'd kept their determinations to themselves."
The third time he was disturbed by the
sound of angry voices. There was some
quarreling going on in the kitchen of the
Green Dragon. The voices became louder.
There was a clatter of stools and a crash of glasses.
"You are a pack of lying gypsies!" sang
out some one. "You know well you didn't
pay the missus!"
"Go for him! go for him!" was the cry.
Then the parlor door was flung open and
Mrs. Benbow rushed in. "Oh!" she cried,
"those gypsy men are killing the carpenter!"
Hieronymus Howard rushed into the
kitchen, and threw himself into the midst of
the contest. Three powerful tramps were
kicking a figure prostrate on the ground.
One other man, Mr. Greaves, the blacksmith,
was trying in vain to defend his comrade.
He had no chance against these gypsy
fellows, and though he fought like a lion, his
strength was, of course, nothing against
theirs. Old John of the one leg had been
knocked over, and was picking himself up
with difficulty. Everything depended on the
promptness of the stranger. He was nothing
of a warrior, this Hieronymus Howard; he
was just a quiet student, who knew how to
tussle with Greek roots rather than with
English tramps. But he threw himself upon the
gypsies, fought hand to hand with them, was
blinded with blows, nearly trampled beneath
their feet, all but crushed against the wall.
Now he thrust them back. Now they pressed
on him afresh. Now the blacksmith, with
desperate effort, attacked them again. Now
the carpenter, bruised and battered, but wild
for revenge, dragged himself from the floor,
and aimed a blow at the third gypsy's head.
He fell. Then after a short, sharp contest,
the other two gypsies were driven to the
door, which Mrs. Benbow had opened wide,
and were thrust out. The door was bolted
But they had bolted one gypsy in with
them. When they returned to the kitchen
they found him waiting for them. He had
Mrs. Benbow raised a cry of terror. She
had thought herself safe in her castle. The
carpenter and the blacksmith were past
fighting. Hieronymus Howard gazed placidly at
the great tramp.
"I am sorry we had forgotten you," he said
courteously. "Perhaps you will oblige us
by following your comrades. I will open the
door for you. I think we are all rather
tired--aren't we? So perhaps you will go at once."
The man gazed sheepishly at him, and
then followed him. Hieronymus Howard
opened the door.
"Good-evening to you," he said.
And the gypsy passed out without a word.
"Well now," said Hieronymus, as he drew
the bolt, "that is the end of that."
Then he hastened into the parlor. Mrs. Benbow
hurried after him, and was just in
time to break his fall. He had swooned away.
Hieronymus Howard had only intended to
pass one night at the Green Dragon. But
his sharp encounter with the gypsies altered
his plans. He was battered and bruised and
thoroughly shaken, and quite unable to do
anything else except rest in the arm-chair and
converse with Gamboge, who had attached
herself to him, and evidently appreciated his
companionship. His right hand was badly
sprained. Mrs. Benbow looked after him
most tenderly, bemoaning all the time that
he should be in such a plight because of her.
There was nothing that she was not willing
to do for him; it was a long time since
Hieronymus Howard had been so petted and
spoiled. Mrs. Benbow treated every one
like a young child that needed to be taken
care of. The very men who came to drink
her famous ale were under her strict motherly
authority. "There now, Mr. Andrew, that's
enough for ye," she would say; "not another
glass to-night. No, no, John Curtis; get
you gone home. You'll not coax another
half-pint out of me."
She was generally obeyed; even Hieronymus
Howard, who refused rather peevishly to take
a third cup of beef-tea, found himself obliged
to comply. When she told him to lie on the
sofa, he did so without a murmur. When
she told him to get up and take his dinner
while it was still hot, he obeyed like a
well-trained child. She cut his food, and then
took the knife away.
"You mustn't try to use your right hand,"
she said sternly. "Put it back in the sling
Hieronymus obeyed. Her kind tyranny
pleased and amused him, and he was not at
all sorry to go on staying at the Green
Dragon. He was really on his way to visit some
friends just on the border between Shropshire
and Wales, to form one of a large house-party,
consisting of people both interesting
and intellectual: qualities, by the way, not
necessarily inseparable. But he was just at
the time needing quiet of mind, and he
promised himself some really peaceful hours in this
little Shropshire village, with its hills, some
of them bare, and others girt with a belt of
trees, and the brook gurgling past the
wayside inn. He was tired, and here he would
find rest. The only vexatious part was that
he had hurt his hand. But for this mishap
he would have been quite content.
He told this to Mr. Benbow, who returned
that afternoon, and who expressed his regret
at the whole occurrence.
"Oh, I am well satisfied here," said
Hieronymus cheerily. "Your little wife is a
capital hostess: somewhat of the tyrant, you
know. Still, one likes that; until one gets
to the fourth cup of beef-tea! And she is
an excellent cook, and the Green Dragon is
most comfortable. I've nothing to complain
of except my hand. That is a nuisance, for
I wanted to do some writing. I suppose
there is no one here who could write for me."
"Well," said Mr. Benbow, "perhaps the
missus can. She can do most things. She's
Mrs. Benbow, being consulted on this matter,
confessed that she could not do much in
"I used to spell pretty well once," she said
brightly; "but the brewing and the scouring
and the looking after other things have
knocked all that out of me."
"You wrote to me finely when I was away,"
her husband said. He was a quiet fellow,
and proud of his little wife, and liked people
to know how capable she was.
"Ah, but you aren't over-particular, Ben,
bless you," she answered, laughing, and
running away to her many duties. Then she
returned to tell Hieronymus that there was a
splendid fire in the kitchen, and that he was
to go and sit there.
"I'm busy doing the washing in the back-yard,"
she said. "Ben has gone to look after
the sheep. Perhaps you'll give an eye to
the door, and serve out the ale. It would
help me mighty. I'm rather pressed for time
to-day. We shall brew to-morrow, and I
must get the washing done this afternoon."
She took it for granted that he would obey,
and of course he did. He transferred himself,
his pipe, and his book to the front kitchen,
and prepared for customers. Hieronymus
Howard had once been an ambitious man,
but never before had he been seized by such
an overwhelming aspiration as now possessed
him--to serve out the Green Dragon ale!
"If only some one would come!" he said
to himself scores of times.
No one came. Hieronymus, becoming
impatient, sprang up from his chair and
gazed anxiously out of the window, just in
time to see three men stroll into the
"Confound them!" he cried; "why don't
they come here?"
The next moment four riders stopped at
the rival public-house, and old Mrs. Howells
hurried out to them, as though to prevent
any possibility of them slipping across to the
other side of the road.
This was almost more than Hieronymus
could bear quietly. He could scarcely
refrain from opening the Green Dragon door
and advertising in a loud voice the manifold
virtues of Mrs. Benbow's ale and spirits.
But he recollected in time that even wayside
inns have their fixed code of etiquette, and
that nothing remained for him but to possess
his soul in patience. He was rewarded; in
a few minutes a procession of wagons filed
slowly past the Green Dragon; he counted
ten horses and five men. Would they stop?
Hieronymus waited in breathless excitement.
Yes, they did stop, and four of the drivers
came into the kitchen. "Where is the fifth?"
asked Hieronymus sharply, having a keen eye
to business. "He is minding the horses," they
answered, looking at him curiously. But
they seemed to take it for granted that he
was there to serve them, and they leaned
back luxuriously in the great oak settle, while
Hieronymus poured out the beer, and
received in exchange some grimy coppers.
After they had gone the fifth man came to
have his share of the refreshments; and then
followed a long pause, which seemed to
Hieronymus like whole centuries.
"It was during a lengthened period like
this," he remarked to himself, as he paced
up and down the kitchen--"yes, it was
during infinite time like this that the rugged
rocks became waveworn pebbles!"
Suddenly he heard the sound of horses' feet.
"It is a rider," he said. "I shall have to go
out to him." He hastened to the door, and
saw a young woman on a great white horse.
She carried a market basket on her arm.
She wore no riding-habit, but was dressed in
the ordinary way. There was nothing
picturesque about her appearance, but Hieronymus
thought her face looked interesting. She
glanced at him as though she wondered what
he could possibly be doing at the Green Dragon.
"Well, and what may I do for you?" he
asked. He did not quite like to say, "What
may I bring for you?" He left her to decide
"I wanted to see Mrs. Benbow," she said.
"She is busy doing the washing," he
answered. "But I will go and tell her, if you
will kindly detain any customer who may
chance to pass by."
He hurried away, and came back with the
answer that Mrs. Benbow would be out in
"Thank you," the young woman said
quietly. Then she added: "You have hurt
your arm, I see."
"Yes," he answered; "it is a great nuisance.
I cannot write. I have been wondering
whether I could get any one to write for me.
Do you know of any one?"
"No," she said bitterly; "we don't write
here. We make butter and cheese, and we
fatten up our poultry, and then we go to
market and sell our butter, cheese, and poultry."
"Well," said Hieronymus, "and why
He looked up at her, and saw what a
discontented expression had come over her
She took no notice of his interruption, but
just switched the horse's ears with the end
of her whip.
"That is what we do year after year," she
continued, "until I suppose we have become
so dull that we don't care to do anything
else. That is what we have come into the
world for: to make butter and cheese, and
fatten up our poultry, and go to market."
"Yes," he answered cheerily, "and we
all have to do it in some form or other.
We all go to market to sell our goods, whether
they be brains, or practical common-sense
(which often, you know, has nothing to do
with brains), or butter, or poultry. Now I
don't know, of course, what you have in
your basket; but supposing you have eggs,
which you are taking to market. Well, you
are precisely in the same condition as the
poet who is on his way to a publisher's,
carrying a new poem in his vest pocket. And
yet there is a difference."
"Of course there is," she jerked out scornfully.
"Yes, there is a difference," he continued,
placidly; "it is this: you will return
without those eggs, but the poet will come back
still carrying his poem in his breast-pocket!"
Then he laughed at his own remark.
"That is how things go in the great world,
you know," he said. "Out in the great
world there is an odd way of settling matters.
Still they must be settled somehow or other!"
"Out in the world!" she exclaimed. "That
is where I long to go."
"Then why on earth don't you?" he replied.
At that moment Mrs. Benbow came running out.
"I am so sorry to keep you waiting,
Miss Hammond," she said to the young girl;
"but what with the washing and the making
ready for the brewing to-morrow, I don't
know where to turn."
Then followed a series of messages to
which Hieronymus paid no attention. And
then Miss Hammond cracked her whip, waved
her greetings with it, and the old white horse
"And who is the rider of the horse?" asked
"Oh, she is Farmer Hammond's daughter,"
said Mrs. Benbow. "Her name is Joan. She
is an odd girl, different from the other girls
here. They say she is quite a scholar too.
Why, she would be the one to write for
you. The very one, of course! I'll call to her."
But by that time the old white horse was
out of sight.
THE PRIMARY GLORY.
The next day at the Green Dragon was a
busy one. Mrs. and Mr. Benbow were up
betimes, banging casks about in the cellar.
When Hieronymus Howard came down to
breakfast, he found that they had brought
three barrels into the kitchen, and that one
was already half full of some horrible brown
liquid, undergoing the process of fermentation.
He felt himself much aggrieved that he was
unable to contribute his share of work to
the proceedings. It was but little comfort to
him that he was again allowed to attend to
the customers. The pouring out of the beer
had lost its charm for him.
"It is a secondary glory to pour out the
beer," he grumbled. "I aspire to the primary
glory of helping to make the beer."
Mrs. Benbow was heaping on the coal in
the furnace. She turned round and looked
at the disconsolate figure.
"There is one thing you might do," she
said. "I've not half enough barm. There are
two or three places where you might call for
some; and between them all perhaps you'll
She then mentioned three houses, Farmer
Hammond's being among the number.
"Very likely the Hammonds would oblige
us," she said. "They are neighborly folk.
They live at the Malt-House Farm, two
miles off. You can't carry the jar, but you
can take the perambulator and wheel it back.
I've often done that when I had much to carry."
Hieronymus Howard looked doubtfully at
"Very well," he said submissively. "I suppose
I shall only look like an ordinary tramp.
It seems to be the fashion to tramp on this road!"
It never entered his head to rebel. The
great jar was lifted into the perambulator,
and Hieronymus wheeled it away, still
keeping up his dignity, though under somewhat
"I rather wish I had not mentioned anything
about primary glory," he remarked to himself.
"However, I will not faint by the wayside;
Mrs. Benbow is a person not lightly to be
disobeyed. In this respect she reminds me
distinctly of Queen Elizabeth, or Margaret of
Anjou, with just a dash of Napoleon Bonaparte!"
So he walked on along the highroad.
Two or three tramps passed him, wheeling
similar perambulators, some heaped up with
rags and old tins and umbrellas, and occasionally
a baby; representing the sum total of
their respective possessions in the world.
They looked at him with curiosity, but no
pleasantry passed their lips. There was
nothing to laugh at in Hieronymus'
appearance; there was a quiet dignity about him
which was never lost on any one. His
bearing tallied with his character, the character
of a mellowed human being. There was a
restfulness about him which had soothed
more than one tired person; not the restfulness
of stupidity, but the repose only gained
by those who have struggled through a great
fever to a great calm. His was a clean-shaven
face; his hair was iron-gray. There
was a kind but firm expression about his
mouth, and a suspicion of humor lingering
in the corners. His eyes looked at you
frankly. There seemed to be no self-consciousness
in his manner; long ago, perhaps,
he had managed to get away from himself.
He enjoyed the country, and stopped more
than once to pick some richly tinted leaf, or
some tiny flower nestling in the hedge. He
confided all his treasures to the care of the
perambulator. It was a beautiful morning,
and the sun lit up the hills, which were girt
with a belt of many gems: a belt of trees, each
rivaling the other in colored luxuriance.
Hieronymus sang. Then he turned down a
lane to the left and found some nuts. He
ate these, and went on his way again, and at
last found himself outside a farm of large
and important aspect. A man was stacking
a hayrick. Hieronymus watched him keenly.
"Good gracious!" he exclaimed; "I wish I
could do that. How on earth do you manage
it? And did it take you long to learn?"
The man smiled in the usual yokel fashion,
and went on with his work. Hieronymus
plainly did not interest him.
"Is this the Malt-House Farm?" cried
"What else should it be?" answered the man.
"These rural characters are inclined to be
one-sided," thought Hieronymus, as he
opened the gate and wheeled the perambulator
into the pretty garden. "It seems to
me that they are almost as narrow-minded
as the people who live in cities and pride
themselves on their breadth of view. Almost--but
on reflection, not quite!"
He knocked at the door of the porch, and
a great bustling woman opened it. He
explained his mission to her, and pointed to
the jar for the barm.
"You would oblige Mrs. Benbow greatly,
ma'am," he said. "In fact, we cannot get
on with our beer unless you come to our
"Step into the parlor, sir," she said,
smiling, "and I'll see how much we've got. I
think you are the gentleman who fought the
gypsies. You've hurt your arm, I see."
"Yes, a great nuisance," he answered
cheerily; "and that reminds me of my other
request. I want some one to write for me an
hour or two every day. Mrs. Benbow
mentioned your daughter, the young lady who
came to us on the white horse yesterday."
He was going to add: "The young lady
who wishes to go out into the world;" but
he checked himself, guessing by instinct that
the young lady and her mother had probably
very little in common.
"Perhaps, though," he said, "I take a
liberty in making the suggestion. If so, you
have only to reprove me, and that is the end
"Oh, I daresay she'd like to write for you,"
said Mrs. Hammond, "if she can be spared
from the butter and the fowls. She likes
books and pen and paper. They're things
as I don't favor."
"No," said Hieronymus, suddenly filled
with an overwhelming sense of his own
littleness; "you are occupied with other more
"Yes, indeed," rejoined Mrs. Hammond
fervently. "Well, if you'll be seated, I'll
send Joan to you, and I'll see about the barm."
Hieronymus settled down in an old chair,
and took a glance at the comfortable paneled
room. There was every appearance of ease
about the Malt-House Farm, and yet Farmer
Hammond and his wife toiled incessantly
from morning to evening, exacting continual
labor from their daughter too. There was a
good deal of brass-work in the parlor; it
was kept spotlessly bright.
In a few minutes Joan came in. She
carried the jar.
"I have filled the jar with barm," she said,
without any preliminaries. "One of the men
can take it back if you like."
"Oh no, thank you," he said cheerily,
looking at her with some interest. "It came in
the perambulator; it can return in the same
She bent over the table, leaning against
the jar. She smiled at his words, and the
angry look of resentfulness, which seemed
to be her habitual expression, gave way to a
more pleasing one. Joan was not good-looking,
but her face was decidedly interesting.
She was of middle stature, slight but strong;
not the typical country girl with rosy cheeks,
but pale, though not unhealthy. She was
dark of complexion; soft brown hair, over
which she seemed to have no control, was
done into a confused mass at the back,
untidy, but pleasing. Her forehead was not
interfered with; you might see it for yourself,
and note the great bumps which those rogues
of phrenologists delight to finger. She
carried her head proudly, and from certain
determined jerks which she gave to it you might
judge of her decided character. She was
dressed in a dark gown, and wore an apron
of coarse linen. At the most she was
nineteen years of age. Hieronymus just glanced
at her, and could not help comparing her
with her mother.
"Well," he said pleasantly, "and now,
having settled the affairs of the Green Dragon,
I proceed to my own. Will you come and
be my scribbler for a few days? Or if you
wish for a grander title, will you act as my
amanuensis? I am sadly in need of a little
help. I have found out that you can help me."
"I don't know whether you could read my
writing," she said shyly.
"That does not matter in the least," he
answered. "I shan't have to read it. Some
one else will."
"My spelling is not faultless," she said.
"Also a trifle!" he replied. "Spelling, like
every other virtue, is a relative thing,
depending largely on the character of the
individual. Have you any other objection?"
She shook her head, and smiled brightly at him.
"I should like to write for you," she said,
"if only I could do it well enough."
"I am sure of that," he answered kindly.
"Mrs. Benbow tells me you are a young
lady who does good work. I admire that
beyond everything. You fatten up the poultry
well, you make butter and pastry
well--shouldn't I just like to taste it! And I am
sure you have cleaned this brass-work."
"Yes," she said, "when I'm tired of every
one and everything, I go and rub up the
brasses until they are spotless. When I am
utterly weary of the whole concern, and just
burning to get away from this stupid little
village, I polish the candlesticks and handles
until my arms are worn out. I had a good
turn at it yesterday."
"Was yesterday a bad day with you, then?"
"Yes," she answered. "When I was riding
the old white horse yesterday, I just felt that
I could go on riding, riding forever. But
she is such a slow coach. She won't go quickly!"
"No, I should think you could walk more
quickly," said Hieronymus. "Your legs would
take you out into the world more swiftly
than that old white horse. And being clear
of this little village, and being out in the
great world, what do you want to do?"
"To learn!" she cried; "to learn to know
something about life, and to get to have
other interests: something great and big,
something worth wearing one's strength away
for." Then she stopped suddenly. "What
a goose I am!" she said, turning away half
"Something great and big," he repeated.
"Cynics would tell you that you have a weary
quest before you. But I think it is very easy
to find something great and big. Only it all
depends on the strength of your telescope.
You must order the best kind, and unfortunately
one can't afford the best kind when
one is very young. You have to pay for your
telescope, not with money, but with years.
But when at last it comes into your
possession--ah, how it alters the look of things!"
He paused a moment, as though lost in
thought; and then, with the brightness so
characteristic of him, he added:
"Well, I must be going home to my humble
duties at the Green Dragon, and you, no
doubt, have to return to your task of feeding
up the poultry for the market. When is
market-day at Church Stretton?"
"On Friday," she answered.
"That is the day I have to send off some
of my writing," he said; "my market-day,
also, you see."
"Are you a poet?" she asked timidly.
"No," he answered, smiling at her; "I am
that poor creature, an historian: one of those
restless persons who furridge among the
annals of the past."
"Oh," she said enthusiastically, "I have
always cared more about history than
"Well, then, if you come to-morrow to the
Green Dragon at eleven o'clock," he said
kindly, "you will have the privilege of
writing history instead of reading it. And now I
suppose I must hasten back to the tyranny
of Queen Elizabeth. Can you lift that jar
into the perambulator? You see I can't."
She hoisted it into the perambulator, and
then stood at the gate, watching him as he
pushed it patiently over the rough road.
THE MAKING OF THE PASTRY.
That same afternoon Mrs. Hammond put
on her best things and drove in the dogcart
to Minton, where Auntie Lloyd of the
Tan-House Farm was giving a tea-party. Joan
had refused to go. She had a profound
contempt for these social gatherings, and Auntie
Lloyd and she had no great love, the one
for the other. Auntie Lloyd, who was
regarded as the oracle of the family, summed
Joan up in a few sentences:
"She's a wayward creature, with all her
fads about books and book learning. I've
no patience with her. Fowls and butter and
such things have been good enough for us;
why does she want to meddle with things
which don't concern her? She's clever at
her work, and diligent too. If it weren't for
that, there'd be no abiding her."
Joan summed Auntie Lloyd up in a few words:
"Oh, she's Auntie Lloyd," she said, shrugging
So when her mother urged her to go to
Minton to this tea-party, which was to be
something special, Joan said:
"No, I don't care about going. Auntie
Lloyd worries me to death. And what with
her, and the rum in the tea, and those
horrid crumpets, I'd far rather stay at home,
and make pastry and read a book."
So she stayed. There was plenty of pastry
in the larder, and there seemed no particular
reason why she should add to the store.
But she evidently thought differently about
the matter, for she went into the kitchen and
rolled up her sleeves and began her work.
"I hope this will be the best pastry I have
ever made," she said to herself, as she
prepared several jam-puffs and an open tart.
"I should like him to taste my pastry. An
historian. I wonder what we shall write
She put the pastry into the oven, and sat
lazily in the ingle, nursing her knees, and
musing. She was thinking the whole time
of Hieronymus, of his kind and genial manner,
and his face with the iron-gray hair; she
would remember him always, even if she
never saw him again. Once or twice it crossed
her mind that she had been foolish to speak
so impatiently to him of her village life. He
would just think her a silly, discontented
girl, and nothing more. And yet it had
seemed so natural to talk to him in that
strain; she knew by instinct that he would
understand, and he was the first she had ever
met who would be likely to understand. The
others--her father, her mother, David Ellis
the exciseman, who was supposed to be fond
of her, these and others in the neighborhood--what
did they care about her desires to improve
her mind, and widen out her life, and
multiply her interests? She had been waiting
for months, almost for years indeed, to speak
openly to some one; she could not have let
the chance go by, now that it had come to her.
The puffs meanwhile were forgotten. When
at last she recollected them, she hastened to
their rescue, and found she was only just in
time. Two were burned; she placed the
others in a dish, and threw the damaged ones
on the table. As she did so the kitchen door
opened, and the exciseman came in, and
seeing the pastry, he exclaimed:
"Oh, Joan, making pastry! Then I'll test it!"
"You'll do nothing of the sort," she said
half angrily, as she put her hands over the
dish. "I won't have it touched. You can
eat the burnt ones it you like."
"Not I," he answered. "I want the best.
Why, Joan, what's the matter with you?
You're downright cross to-day."
"I'm no different from usual," she said.
"Yes, you are," he said; "and what's more,
you grow different every week."
"I grow more tired of this horrid little
village and every one in it, if that's what you
mean," she answered.
He had thrown his whip on the chair, and
stood facing her. He was a prosperous man,
much respected, and much liked for many
miles round Little Stretton. It was an open
secret that he loved Joan Hammond, the only
question in the village being whether Joan
would have him when the time came for him
to propose to her. No girl in her senses
would have been likely to refuse the
exciseman; but then Joan was not in her senses,
so that anything might be expected of her.
At least such was the verdict of Auntie Lloyd,
who regarded her niece with the strictest
disapproval. Joan had always been more
friendly with David than with any one else; and
it was no doubt this friendliness, remarkable
in one who kept habitually apart from others,
which had encouraged David to go on hoping
to win her, not by persuasion but by patience.
He loved her, indeed he had always loved her;
and in the old days, when he was a
schoolboy and she was a little baby child, he had
left his companions to go and play with his
tiny girl-friend up at the Malt-House Farm.
He had no sister of his own, and he liked
to nurse and pet the querulous little creature
who was always quiet in his arms. He could
soothe her when no one else had any
influence. But the years had come and gone,
and they had grown apart; not he from her,
but she from him. And now he stood in the
kitchen of the old farm, reading in her very
manner the answer to the question which he
had not yet asked her. That question was
always on his lips; how many times had he
not said it aloud when he rode his horse
over the country? But Joan was forbidding
of late months, and especially of late weeks,
and the exciseman had always told himself
sadly that the right moment had not yet
come. And to-day, also, it was not the
right moment. A great sorrow seized him,
for he longed to tell her that he loved her,
and that he was yearning to make her happy.
She should have books of her own; books,
books, books; he had already bought a few
volumes to form the beginning of her library.
They were not well chosen, perhaps, but
there they were, locked up in his private
drawer. He was not learned, but he would
learn for her sake. All this flashed through
his mind as he stood before her. He looked at
her face, and could not trace one single
expression of kindliness or encouragement.
"Then I must go on waiting," he thought,
and he stooped and picked up his whip.
"Good-bye, Joan," he said quietly.
The kitchen door swung on its hinges, and
Joan was once more alone.
"An historian," she said to herself, as she
took away the rolling-pin, and put the pastry
into the larder. "I wonder what we shall
write about to-morrow."
PASTRY AND PERSONAL MONARCHY.
Joan sat in the parlor of the Green Dragon,
waiting until Hieronymus had finished eating
a third jam-puff, and could pronounce
himself ready to begin dictating. A few papers
were scattered about on the table, and
Gamboge was curled up on the hearth-rug. Joan
was radiant with pleasure, for this was her
nearest approach to intellectuality; a new
world had opened to her as though by
magic. And she was radiant with another
kind of pleasure: this was only the third time
she had seen the historian, and each time
she was the happier. It was at first a little
shock to her sense of intellectual propriety
that the scholar yonder could condescend to
so trivial a matter as pastry; but then
Hieronymus had his own way about him, which
carried conviction in the end.
"Well," he said cheerily. "I think I am
ready to begin. Dear me! What excellent pastry!"
Joan smiled, and dipped her pen in the ink.
"And to think that David nearly ate it!"
she said to herself. And that was about the
first time she had thought of him since yesterday.
Then the historian began. His language
was simple and dignified, like the man
himself. His subject was "An Introduction to
the Personal Monarchy, which began with
the reign of Henry VIII." Everything he
said was crystal-clear. Moreover, he had
that rare gift, the power of condensing and
of suggesting too. He was nothing if not an
impressionist. Joan had no difficulty in
keeping pace with him, for he dictated slowly.
After nearly two hours he left off, and gave
a great sigh of relief.
"There now," he said, "that's enough for
to-day." And he seemed just like a schoolboy
released from lessons.
"Come, come," he added, as he looked
over the manuscript. "I shall be quite proud
to send that in to the printer. You would
make a capital little secretary. You are so
quiet and you don't scratch with your pen:
qualities which are only too rare. Well,
we shall be able to go on with this work, if
you can spare the time and will oblige me.
And we must make some arrangements about
"As for that," said Joan hastily, "it's such
a change from the never-ending fowls and
that everlasting butter."
"Of course it is," said Hieronymus, as he
took his pipe from the mantel-shelf. "But
all the same, we will be business-like.
Besides, consider the advantage; you will be
earning a little money with which you can
either buy books to read, or fowls to fatten
up. You can take your choice, you know."
"I should choose the books," she said, quite
"How spiteful you are to those fowls!" he said.
"So would you be, if you had been looking
after them all your life," Joan answered, still
"There is no doubt about you being a
volcanic young lady," Hieronymus remarked
thoughtfully. "But I understand. I was
also a volcano once. I am now extinct. You
will be extinct after a few years, and you
will be thankful for the repose. But one
has to go through a great many eruptions as
preliminaries to peace."
"Any kind of experience is better than none
at all," Joan said, more gently this time.
"You can't think how I dread a life in which
nothing happens. I want to have my days
crammed full of interests and events. Then
I shall learn something; but here--what can
one learn? You should just see Auntie
Lloyd, and be with her for a quarter of an
hour. When you've seen her, you've seen
the whole neighborhood. Oh, how I dislike her!"
Her tone of voice expressed so heartily her
feelings about Auntie Lloyd that Hieronymus
laughed, and Joan laughed too.
She had put on her bonnet, and stood
ready to go home. The historian stroked
Gamboge, put away his papers, and expressed
himself inclined to accompany Joan part of
He ran to the kitchen to tell Mrs. Benbow
that he would not be long gone.
"Dinner won't be ready for quite an hour,"
she said, "as the butcher came so late. But
here is a cup of beef-tea for you. You look
"I've had such a lot of pastry,"
Hieronymus pleaded, and he turned to Mr. Benbow,
who had just come into the kitchen followed
by his faithful collie. "I don't feel as though
I could manage the beef-tea."
"It's no use kicking over the traces," said
Mr. Benbow, laughing. "I've found that out
long ago. Sarah is a tyrant."
But it was evidently a tyranny which suited
him very well, for there seemed to be a kind
of settled happiness between the host and
hostess of the Green Dragon. Some such
thought passed through Hieronymus' mind as
he gulped down the beef-tea, and then
started off happily with Joan.
"I like both the Benbows," he said to her.
"And it is very soothing to be with people
who are happy together. I'm cozily housed
there, and not at all sorry to have had my
plans altered by the gypsies; especially now
that I can go on with my work so comfortably.
My friends in Wales may wait for me
as long as they choose."
Joan would have wished to tell him how
glad she was that he was going to stay. But
she just smiled happily. He was so bright
himself that it was impossible not to be
happy in his company.
"I'm so pleased I have done some dictating
to-day," he said, as he plucked an autumn
leaf and put it into his buttonhole. "And now
I can enjoy myself all the more. You cannot
think how I do enjoy the country. These
hills are so wonderfully soothing. I never
remember being in a place where the hills
have given me such a sense of repose as here.
Those words constantly recur to me:
'His dews drop mutely on the hill,
His cloud above it saileth still,
(Though on its slopes men sow and reap).
More softly than the dew is shed,
Or cloud is floated overhead,
He giveth His beloved sleep.'
"It's all so true, you know, and yonder are
the slopes cultivated by men. I am always
thinking of these words here. They match
with the hills and they match with my feelings."
"I have never thought about the hills in
that way," she said.
"No," he answered kindly, "because you
are not tired yet. But when you are tired,
not with imaginary battlings, but with the
real campaigns of life, then you will think
about the dews falling softly on the hills."
"Are you tired, then?" she asked.
"I have been very tired," he answered simply.
They walked on in silence for a few minutes,
and then he added: "You wished for
knowledge, and here you are surrounded by
opportunities for attaining to it."
"I have never found Auntie Lloyd a specially
interesting subject for study," Joan said
"I was not thinking of Auntie Lloyd," he
said. "I was thinking of all these beautiful
hedges, these lanes with their countless
treasures, and this stream with its bed of stones,
and those hills yonder; all of them eloquent
with the wonder of the earth's history. You
are literally surrounded with the means of
making your minds beautiful, you country
people. And why don't you do it?"
Joan listened. This was new language to her.
"The sciences are here for you. They
offer themselves to you, without stint, without
measure. Nature opens her book to you.
Have you ever tried to read it? From the
things which fret and worry our souls, from
the people who worry and fret us, from
ourselves who worry and fret ourselves, we can
at least turn to Nature. There we find our
right place, a resting place of intense repose.
There we lose that troublesome part of
ourselves, our own sense of importance. Then
we rest, and not until then.
"Why should you speak to me of rest?" the
girl cried, her fund of patience and control
coming suddenly to an end. "I don't want
to rest. I want to live a full, rich life, crammed
with interests. I want to learn about life
itself, not about things. It is so absurd to
talk to me of rest. You've had your term
of unrest--you said so. I don't care about
peace and repose! I don't----"
She left off as suddenly as she had begun,
fearing to seem too ill-mannered.
"Of course you don't," he said gently, "and
I'm a goose to think you should. No, you
will have to go out into the world, and to
learn for yourself that it is just the same
there as everywhere: butter and cheese
making, prize-winning and prize-losing, and very
little satisfaction either over the winning or
the losing; and a great many Auntie Lloyds,
probably a good deal more trying than the
Little Stretton Auntie Lloyd. Only, if I
were you, I should not talk about it any more.
I should just go. Saddle the white horse
and go! Get your experiences, thick and
quick. Then you will be glad to rest."
"Are you making fun of me?" she asked
half suspiciously, for he had previously joked
about the slow pace of the white horse.
"No," he answered, in his kind way; "why
should I make fun of you? We cannot all be
content to go on living a quiet life in a little
At that moment the exciseman passed by
them on horseback. He raised his hat to
Joan, and looked with some curiosity at
Hieronymus. Joan colored. She remembered
that she had not behaved kindly to him
yesterday; and after all, he was David, David
who had always been good to her, ever since
she could remember.
"Who was that?" asked Hieronymus.
"What a trim, nice-looking man!"
"He is David Ellis, the exciseman," Joan
said, half reluctantly.
"I wonder when he is going to test the
beer at the Green Dragon," said the historian
anxiously. "I wouldn't miss that for
anything. Will you ask him?"
Joan hesitated. Then she hastened on a
few steps, and called "David!"
David turned in his saddle, and brought
his horse to a standstill. He wondered what
Joan would have to say to him.
"When are you going to test the beer at
the Green Dragon?" she asked.
"Some time this afternoon," he answered.
"Why do you want to know?"
"The gentleman who is staying at the inn
wants to know," Joan said.
"Is that all you have to say to me?" David
"No," said Joan, looking up at him. "There
is something more: about the pastry--"
But just then Hieronymus had joined them.
"If you're talking about pastry," he said
cheerily, "I never tasted any better than Miss
Hammond's. I ate a dishful this morning!"
The exciseman looked at Joan, and at the historian.
"Yes," he said, as he cracked his whip, "it
tastes good to those who can get it, and it
tastes bad to those who can't get it."
And with that he galloped away, leaving
Joan confused, and Hieronymus mystified.
He glanced at his companion, and seemed to
expect that she would explain the situation;
but as she did not attempt to do so he walked
quietly along with her until they came to the
short cut which led back to the Green
Dragon. There he parted from her, making an
arrangement that she should come and write
for him on the morrow. But as he strolled
home he said to himself, "I am much afraid
that I have been eating some one else's pastry!
Well, it was very good, especially the jam-puffs!"
THE EXCISEMAN'S LIBRARY.
David Ellis did not feel genially disposed
toward the historian; and yet when he stood
in the kitchen of the Green Dragon, testing
the new brew, and saw Hieronymus eagerly
watching the process, he could not but be
amused. There was something about
Hieronymus which was altogether irresistible. He
had a power, quite unconscious to himself,
of drawing people over to his side. And yet
he never tried to win; he was just himself,
nothing more and nothing less.
"I am not wishing to pry into the secrets
of the profession," he said to David Ellis;
"but I do like to see how everything is done."
The exciseman good-naturedly taught him
how to test the strength of the beer, and
Hieronymus was as pleased as though he
had learned some great secret of the universe,
or unearthed some long-forgotten fact in history.
"Are you sure the beer comes up to its
usual standard?" he asked mischievously,
turning to Mrs. Benbow at the same time.
"Are you sure it has nothing of the beef-tea
element about it? We drink beef-tea by the
quart in this establishment. I'm allowed
David laughed, and said it was the best
beer in the neighborhood; and with that he
left the kitchen and went into the ale-room
to exchange a few words with Mr. Howells,
the proprietor of the rival inn, who always
came to the Green Dragon to have his few
glasses of beer in peace, free from the stormy
remonstrances of his wife. Every one in
Little Stretton knew his secret, and respected
it. Hieronymus returned to the parlor, where
he was supposed to be deep in study.
After a few minutes some one knocked at
the door, and David Ellis came in.
"Excuse me troubling you," he said, rather
nervously, "but there is a little matter I
wanted to ask you about."
"It's about that confounded pastry!"
thought Hieronymus, as he drew a chair
to the fireside and welcomed the exciseman
David sank down into it, twisted his whip,
and looked now at Hieronymus and now at
the books which lay scattered on the table.
He evidently wished to say something, but
he did not know how to begin.
"I know what you want to say," said Hieronymus.
"No, you don't," answered the exciseman.
"No one knows except myself."
Hieronymus retreated, crushed, but rather
Then David, gaining courage, continued:
"Books are in your line, aren't they?"
"It just does happen to be my work to
know a little about them," the historian
answered. "Are you interested in them too?"
"Well," said David, hesitating, "I can't
say I read them, but I buy them."
"Most people do that," said Hieronymus;
"it takes less time to buy than to read, and
we are pressed for time in this century."
"You see," said the exciseman, "I don't
buy the books for myself, and it's rather
awkward knowing what to get. Now what would
you get for a person who was really fond of
reading: something of a scholar, you
understand? That would help me for my next lot."
"It all depends on the taste of the person,"
Hieronymus said kindly. "Some like poetry,
some like novels; others like books about the
moon, and others like books about the north
pole, or the tropics."
David did not know much about the north
pole or the tropics, but he had certainly
bought several volumes of poetry, and
Hieronymus' words gave him courage.
"I bought several books of poetry," he
said, lifting his head up with a kind of triumph
which was unmistakable. "Cowper, Mrs. Hemans--"
"Yes," said Hieronymus patiently.
"And the other day I bought Milton,"
continued the exciseman.
"Ah," said the historian, with a faint smile
of cheerfulness. He had never been able to
care for Milton (though he never owned to this).
"And now I thought of buying this," said
David, taking from his pocket a small slip of
paper and showing it to his companion.
Hieronymus read: "Selections from Robert Browning."
"Come, come!" he said cheerily, "this is
a good choice!"
"It is not my choice," said David simply.
"I don't know one fellow from another. But
the man at the shop in Ludlow told me it
was a book to have. If you say so too, of
course that settles the matter."
"Well," said Hieronymus, "and what about
the other books?"
"I tell you what," said David suddenly, "if
you'd come to my lodgings one day, you
could look at the books I've got and advise
me about others. That would be the
shortest and pleasantest way."
"By all means," said the historian. "Then
you have not yet given away your gifts?"
"Not yet," said David quietly. "I am
And then he relapsed into silence and
timidity, and went on twisting his whip.
Hieronymus was interested, but he had too
much delicate feeling to push the inquiry, and
not having a mathematical mind he was
quite unable to put two and two together
without help from another source. So he
just went on smoking his pipe, wondering all
the time what possible reason his companion
could have for collecting a library beginning
with Mrs. Hemans.
After a remark about the weather and the
crops--Hieronymus was becoming quite
agricultural--David rose in an undecided kind of
manner, expressed his thanks, and took his
leave, but there was evidently something
more he wanted to say, and yet he went away
without saying it.
"I'm sure he wants to speak about the
pastry," thought Hieronymus. "Confound
him! Why doesn't he?"
The next moment the door opened, and
David put his head in.
"There's something else I wanted to say,"
he stammered out. "The fact is, I don't tell
anybody about the books I buy. It's my
own affair, and I like to keep it to myself.
But I'm sure I can trust you."
"I should just think you could," Hieronymus
So he promised secrecy, and then followed
the exciseman to the door, and watched him
mount his horse and ride off. Mr. Benbow
was coming in at the time, and Hieronymus
said some few pleasant words about David Ellis.
"He's the nicest man in these parts,"
Mr. Benbow said warmly. "We all like him.
Joan Hammond will be a lucky girl if she gets
him for a husband."
"Is he fond of her, then?" asked Hieronymus.
"He has always been fond of her since I
can remember," Mr. Benbow answered.
Then Hieronymus, having received this
valuable assistance, proceeded carefully to
put two and two together.
"Now I know for whom the exciseman intends
his library!" he said to himself triumphantly.
AUNTIE LLOYD PROTESTS.
Auntie Lloyd was a material, highly prosperous
individual, utterly bereft of all ideas
except one; though, to be sure, the one idea
which she did possess was of overwhelming
bulk, being, indeed, the sense of her own
superiority over all people of all countries
and all centuries. This was manifest not
only in the way she spoke, but also in the
way she folded her hands together on the
buckle of her waist-belt, as though she were
murmuring: "Thank heaven, I am Auntie
Lloyd, and no one else!" All her relations,
and indeed all her neighbors, bowed down to
her authority; it was recognized by every one
that the mistress of the Tan-House Farm
was a personage who must not be disobeyed
in the smallest particular. There had been
one rebel in the camp for many years now:
Joan. She alone had dared to raise the
standard of revolt. At first she had lifted it
only an inch high; but strength and courage
had come with years, and now the standard
floated triumphantly in the air. And to-day it
reached its full height, for Auntie Lloyd had
driven over to the Malt-House Farm to
protest with her niece about this dictation, and
Joan, though she did not use the exact words,
had plainly told her to mind her own business.
Auntie Lloyd had been considerably
"worked up" ever since she had heard the news
that Joan went to write for a gentleman at
the Green Dragon. Then she heard that
Joan not only wrote for him, but was also
seen walking about with him; for it was not
at all likely that an episode of this description
would pass without comment in Little
Stretton; and Auntie Lloyd was not the only
person who remarked and criticised. A bad
attack of sciatica had kept her from interfering
at the outset; but as soon as she was even
tolerably well she made a descent upon the
Malt-House Farm, having armed herself with
the most awe-inspiring bonnet and mantle
which her wardrobe could supply. But Joan
was proof against such terrors. She listened
to all Auntie Lloyd had to say, and merely
remarked that she did not consider it was
any one's affair but her own. That was the
most overwhelming statement that had ever
been made to Auntie Lloyd. No wonder
that she felt faint.
"It is distinctly a family affair," she said
angrily. "If you're not careful, you'll lose
the chance of David Ellis. You can't
expect him to be dangling about your heels all
his life. He will soon be tired of waiting for
your pleasure. Do you suppose that he too
does not know you are amusing yourself with
Joan was pouring out tea at the time, and
her hand trembled as she filled the cup.
"I won't have David Ellis thrust down my
throat by you or by any one," she said determinedly.
And with that she looked at her watch, and
calmly said that it was time for her to be off
to the Green Dragon, Mr. Howard having
asked her to go in the afternoon instead of the
morning. But though she left Auntie Lloyd
quelled and paralyzed, and was conscious
that she had herself won the battle once and
for all, she was very much irritated and
distressed too. Hieronymus noticed that
something was wrong with her.
"What is the matter?" he asked kindly.
"Has Auntie Lloyd been paying a visit to the
Malt-House Farm, and exasperated you
beyond all powers of endurance? Or was the
butter-making a failure? Or is it the same
old story--general detestation of every one
and everything in Little Stretton, together
with an inward determination to massacre the
whole village at the earliest opportunity?"
Joan smiled, and looked up at the kind face
which always had such a restful influence on her.
"I suppose that is the root of the whole
matter," she said.
"I am sorry for you," he said gently, as he
turned to his papers, "but I think you are
not quite wise to let your discontent grow
beyond your control. Most people, you know,
when their lives are paralyzed, are found to
have but sorry material out of which to fashion
for themselves satisfaction and contentment."
Her face flushed as he spoke, and a great
peace fell over her. When she was with him
all was well with her; the irritations at home,
the annoyances either within or without,
either real or imaginary, and indeed all
worries passed for the time out of her memory.
David Ellis was forgotten, Auntie Lloyd was
forgotten; the narrow, dull, everyday
existence broadened out into many interesting
possibilities. Life had something bright to offer
to Joan. She bent happily over the pages,
thoroughly enjoying her congenial task; and
now and again during the long pauses of
silence when Hieronymus was thinking out
his subject, she glanced at his kind face and
his silvered head.
And restless little Joan was restful.
THE DISTANCE GROWS.
So the days slipped away, and Joan came
regularly to the Green Dragon to write to
the historian's dictation. These mornings
were red-letter days in her life; she had
never before had anything which she could
have called companionship, and now this best
of all pleasures was suddenly granted to her.
She knew well that it could not last; that
very soon the historian would go back into
his own world, and that she would be left
lonely, lonelier than ever. But meanwhile she
was happy. She always felt after having
been with him as though some sort of peace
had stolen over her. It did not hold her
long, this sense of peace. It was merely that
quieting influence which a mellowed nature
exercises at rare moments over an unmellowed
nature, being indeed a snatch of that wonderful
restfulness which has something divine in
its essence. She did not analyze her feelings
for him, she dared not. She just drifted on,
dreaming. And she was grateful to him too,
for she had unburdened her heavy heart to
him, and he had not laughed at her
aspirations and ambitions. He had certainly
made a little fun over her, but not in the way
that conveyed contempt; on the contrary,
his manner of teasing gave the impression of
the kindliest sympathy. He had spoken
sensible words of advice to her, too; not in any
formal set lecture--that would have been
impossible to him--but in detached sentences
given out at different times, with words
simple in themselves, but able to suggest many
good and noble thoughts. At least that was
what Joan gathered, that was her judgment
of him, that was the effect he produced on her.
Then he was not miserly of his learning.
He was not one of those scholars who keep
their wisdom for their narrow and appreciative
little set; he gave of his best to every
one with royal generosity, and he gave of
his best to her. He saw that she was really
interested in history, and that it pleased her
to hear him talk about it. Out then came his
stores of knowledge, all for her special
service! But that was only half of the process;
he taught her by finding out from her what
she knew, and then returning her knowledge
to her two-fold enriched. She was eager to
learn, and he was interested in her eagerness.
It was his nature to be kind and chivalrous
to every one, and he was therefore kind and
chivalrous to his little secretary. He saw her
constantly in "school hours," as he called the
time spent in dictating, and out of school
hours too. He took such an interest in all
matters connected with the village that he
was to be found everywhere, now gravely
contemplating the cows and comparing them
with Mr. Benbow's herd, now strolling through
the market-place, and now passing stern
criticisms on the butter and poultry, of which he
knew nothing. Once he even tried to sell
Joan Hammond's butter to Mrs. Benbow.
"I assure you, ma'am," he said to the
landlady of the Green Dragon, "the very best
cooking butter in the kingdom! Taste and see."
"But it isn't cooking butter!" interposed
But she laughed all the same, and
Hieronymus, much humbled by his mistake, made
no more attempts to sell butter.
He seemed thoroughly contented with his
life at Little Stretton, and in no hurry to join
his friends in Wales. He was so genial that
every one liked him and spoke kindly of him.
If he was driving in the pony-carriage and
saw any children trudging home after school,
he would find room for four or five of them
and take them back to the village in triumph.
If he met an old woman carrying a bundle
of wood, he immediately transferred the load
from herself to himself, and walked along by
her side, chatting merrily the while. As for
the tramps who passed on the highroad from
Ludlow to Church Stretton, they found in him
a sympathetic friend. His hand was always
in his pocket for them. He listened to their
tales of woe, and stroked the "property"
baby in the perambulator, and absolutely
refused to be brought to order by Mrs. Benbow,
who declared that she knew more about
tramps than he did, and that the best thing
to do with them was to send them about
their business as soon as possible.
"You will ruin the reputation of the Green
Dragon," she said, "if you go on entertaining
tramps outside. Take your friends over to
the other inn!"
She thought that this would be a strong
argument, as Hieronymus was particularly
proud of the Green Dragon, having discovered
that it was patronized by the aristocrats of
the village, and considered infinitely superior
to its rival, the Crown Inn opposite.
But the historian, so yielding in other
respects, continued his intimacies with the
tramps, sometimes even leaving his work if he
chanced to see an interesting-looking wanderer
slouching past the Green Dragon. Joan had
become accustomed to these interruptions.
She just sat waiting patiently until
Hieronymus came back, and plunged once more into
the History of the Dissolution of the
Monasteries, or the Attitude of the Foreign Powers
to each other during the latter years of Henry
"I'm a troublesome fellow," he would say
to her sometimes, "and you are very patient
with me. In fact, you're a regular little brick
of a secretary."
Then she would flush with pleasure to hear
his words of praise. But he never noticed
that, and never thought he was leading her
further and further away from her surroundings
and ties, and putting great distances
between herself and the exciseman.
So little did he guess it that one day he
even ventured to joke with her. He had
been talking to her about John Richard
Green, the historian, and he asked her
whether she had read "A Short History of
the English People." She told him she had
never read it.
"Oh, you ought to have that book," he
said; and he immediately thought that he
would buy it for her. Then he remembered
the exciseman's library, and judged that it
would be better to let him buy it for her.
"I hear you have a very devoted admirer
in the exciseman," Hieronymus said slyly.
"How do you know that?" Joan said sharply.
"Oh," he answered, "I was told." But he
saw that his volcanic little companion was
not too pleased; and so he began talking
about John Richard Green. He told her
about the man himself, his work, his suffering,
his personality. He told her how the young
men at Oxford were advised to travel on the
Continent to expand their minds, and if they
could not afford this advantage after their
university career, then they were to read
John Richard Green. He told her, too, of
his grave at Mentone, with the simple words,
"He died learning."
Thus he would talk to her, taking her
always into a new world of interest. Then
she was in an enchanted kingdom, and he
was the magician.
It was a world in which agriculture and
dairy-farming and all the other wearinesses
of her everyday life had no part. Some
people might think it was but a poor enchanted
realm which he conjured up for her pleasure.
But enchantment, like every other emotion,
is but relative after all. Some little fragment
of intellectuality had been Joan's idea of
enchantment. And now it had come to her in a
way altogether unexpected, and in a measure
beyond all her calculations. It had come to
her, bringing with it something else.
She seemed in a dream during all that time;
yes, she was slipping further away from her
own people, and further away from the
exciseman. She had never been very near to
him, but lately the distance had become
doubled. When she chanced to meet him
her manner was more than ordinarily cold.
If he had chosen to plead for himself, he
might well have asked what he had done to
her that he should deserve to be treated with
such bare unfriendliness.
One day he met her. She was riding the
great white horse, and David rode along
beside her. She chatted with him now and
again, but there were long pauses of silence
"Father has made up his mind to sell old
Nance," she said suddenly, as she stroked
the old mare's head. "This is my last ride on her."
"I am sorry," said David kindly. "She's an
old friend, isn't she?"
"I suppose it is ridiculous to care so much,"
Joan said; "but you know we've had her
such a time. And I used to hang round her
neck, and she would lift me up and swing me."
"I remember," said David eagerly. "I've
often watched you. I was always afraid you
would have a bad fall."
"You ran up and caught me once," Joan
said, "And I was so angry; for it wasn't
likely that old Nance would have let me fall."
"But how could I be sure that the little
arms were strong enough to cling firmly to
old Nance's neck?" David said. "So I couldn't
help being anxious."
"Do you remember when I was lost in that
mist," Joan said, "and you came and found
me, and carried me home? I was so angry
that you would not let me walk."
"You have often been angry with me,"
David said quietly.
Joan made no answer. She just shrugged
There they were, these two, riding side by
side, and yet they were miles apart from
each other. David knew it, and grieved.
David knew it, and grieved. He knew that
Joan's indifference was growing apace, and
that it had taken to itself alarming proportions
ever since the historian had been at the
Green Dragon. He had constantly met Joan
and Hieronymus together, and heard of them
being together, and of course he knew that
Joan wrote to the historian's dictation. He
never spoke on the subject to any one. Once
or twice Auntie Lloyd tried to begin, but he
looked straight before him and appeared not
to understand. Once or twice some other of
the folk made mention of the good-fellowship
which existed between Joan and the historian.
"Well, it's natural enough," he said quietly.
"Joan was always fond of books, and one
feels glad she can talk about them with some
one who is real clever."
But was he glad? Poor David! Time after
time he looked at his little collection of books,
handling the volumes just as tenderly as one
handles one's memories, or one's hopes, or
one's old affections. He had not added to
the library since he had spoken to Hieronymus
and asked his advice on the choice of
suitable subjects. He had no heart to go on
with a hobby which seemed to have no
comfort in it.
To-night he sat in his little sitting-room
smoking his pipe. He looked at his books
as usual, and then locked them up in his oak
chest. He sat thinking of Joan and
Hieronymus. There was no bitterness in David's
heart; there was only sorrow. He shared
with others a strong admiration for Hieronymus, an
admiration which the historian never
failed to win, though it was often quite
unconsciously received. So there was only
sorrow in David's heart, and no bitterness.
The clock was striking seven of the evening
when some one knocked at the door, and
Hieronymus came into the room. He was
in a particularly genial mood, and puffed his
pipe in great contentment. He settled down
by the fireside as though he had been there
all his life, and chatted away so cheerily that
David forgot his own melancholy in his
pleasure at having such a bright companion.
A bottle of whisky was produced, and the
coziness was complete.
"Now for the books!" said Hieronymus.
"I am quite anxious to see your collection.
And look here; I have made a list of suitable
books which any one would like to have.
Now show me what you have already bought."
David's misery returned all in a rush, and
"I don't think I care about the books now,"
"What nonsense!" said Hieronymus. "You
are not shy about showing them to me? I
am sure you have bought some capital ones."
"Oh, it wasn't that," David said quietly,
as he unlocked the oak chest and took out
the precious volumes and laid them on the
table. In spite of himself, however, some of
the old eagerness came over him, and he
stood by, waiting anxiously for the historian's
approval. Hieronymus groaned over
Mrs. Hemans' poetry, and Locke's "Human
Understanding," and Defoe's "History of the
Plague," and Cowper, and Hannah More.
He groaned inwardly, but outwardly he gave
grunts of encouragement. He patted David
on the shoulder when he found "Selections
from Browning," and he almost caressed him
when he proudly produced "Silas Marner."
Yes, David was proud of his treasures;
each one of them represented to him a whole
world of love and hope and consolation.
Hieronymus knew for whom the books were
intended, and he was touched by the
exciseman's quiet devotion and pride. He would
not have hurt David's feelings on any
account; he would have praised the books,
however unsuitable they might have seemed to him.
"My dear fellow," he said, "you've done
capitally by yourself. You've chosen some
excellent books. Still, this list may help
you to go on, and I should advise you to
begin with 'Green's History of the English People.'"
David put the volumes back into the oak chest.
"I don't think I care about buying any
more," he said sadly. "It's no use."
"Why?" asked Hieronymus.
David looked at the historian's frank face,
and felt the same confidence in him which
all felt. He looked, and knew that this
man was loyal and good.
"Well, it's just this," David said, quite
simply. "I've loved her ever since she was
a baby-child. She was my own little
sweetheart then. I took care of her when she was
a wee thing, and I wanted to look after her
when she was a grown woman. It has just
been the hope of my life to make Joan my wife."
He paused a moment, and looked straight
into the fire.
"I know she is different from others, and
cleverer than any of us here, and all that. I
know she is always longing to get away from
Little Stretton. But I thought that perhaps
we might be happy together, and that then
she would not want to go. But I've never
been quite sure. I've just watched and
waited. I've loved her all my life. When
she was a wee baby I carried her about, and
knew how to stop her crying. She has
always been kinder to me than to any one else.
It was perhaps that which helped me to be
patient. At least, I knew she did not care
for any one else. It was just that she didn't
seem to turn to any one."
He had moved away from Hieronymus,
and stood knocking out the ashes from his pipe.
Hieronymus was silent.
"At least, I knew she did not care for any
one else," continued David, "until you came.
Now she cares for you."
Hieronymus looked up quickly.
"Surely, surely, you must be mistaken,"
he said. David shook his head.
"No," he answered, "I am not mistaken.
And I'm not the only one who has noticed
it. Since you've been here, my little Joan
has gone further and further away from me."
"I am sorry," said Hieronymus. He had
taken his tobacco-pouch from his pocket, and
was slowly filling his pipe.
"I have never meant to work harm to her
or you, or any one," the historian said sadly.
"If I had thought I was going to bring trouble
to any one here, I should not have stayed
on. But I've been very happy among
you all, and you've all been good to
me; and as the days went on I found myself
becoming attached to this little village. The
life was so simple and refreshing, and I was
glad to have the rest and the change. Your
little Joan and I have been much together,
it is true. She has written to my dictation,
and I found her so apt that, long after my
hand became well again, I preferred to dictate
rather than to write. Then we've walked
together, and we've talked seriously and
merrily, and sadly too. We've just been
comrades; nothing more. She seemed to me a
little discontented, and I tried to interest her
in things I happen to know, and so take her
out of herself. If I had had any idea that I
was doing more than that, I should have left
at once. I hope you don't doubt me."
"I believe every word you say," David said
"I am grateful for that," Hieronymus said,
and the two men grasped hands.
"If there is anything I could do to repair
my thoughtlessness," he said, "I will gladly
do it. But it is difficult to know what to do
and what to say. For perhaps, after all, you
may be mistaken."
The exciseman shook his head.
"No," he said, "I am not mistaken. It
has been getting worse ever since you came.
There is nothing to say about it; it can't be
helped. It's just that sort of thing which
sometimes happens: no one to blame, but
the mischief is done all the same. I don't
know why I've told you about it. Perhaps I
meant to, perhaps I didn't. It seemed to
come naturally enough when we were talking
of the books."
He was looking mournfully at the list which
Hieronymus had drawn out for him.
"I don't see that it's any use to me," he said.
He was going to screw it up and throw it
into the fire, but the historian prevented him.
"Keep it," he said kindly. "You may yet
want it. If I were you, I should go on
patiently adding book after book, and with each
book you buy, buy a little hope too. Who
knows? Some day your little Joan may want
you. But she will have to go out into the
world first and fight her battles. She is
one of those who must go out into the
world and buy her experiences for herself.
Those who hinder her are only hurting her.
Don't try to hinder her. Let her go. Some
day when she is tired she will be glad to lean
on some one whom she can trust. But she
must be tired first, and thus find out her
necessity. And it is when we find out our
necessity that our heart cries aloud. Then
it is that those who love us will not fail us.
They will be to us like the shadow of a great
rock in a weary land."
David made no answer, but he smoothed
out the crumpled piece of paper and put it
carefully into his pocket.
Hieronymus was unhappy; the exciseman
might or might not be mistaken, but the fact
remained that some mischief had been done,
inasmuch as David Ellis' feelings were
wounded. Hieronymus felt that the best
thing for him to do was to go, though he quite
determined to wait until he saw the
hill-ponies gathered together. There was no
reason why he should hasten away as though
he were ashamed of himself. He knew that
not one word had been spoken to Joan which
he now wished to recall. His position was
a delicate one. He thought seriously over
the matter, and wondered how he might
devise a means of telling her a little about his
own life, and thus showing her, without
seeming to show her, that his whole heart was
filled with the memories of the past. He
could not say to Joan: "My little Joan, my
little secretary, they tell me that I have been
making havoc with your heart. Now listen
to me, child. If it is not true, then I am
glad. And if it is true, I am sad; because I
have been wounding you against my knowledge,
and putting you through suffering which
I might so easily have spared you. You will
recover from the suffering; but alas! little
Joan, that I should have been the one to
He could not say that to her, though he
would have wished to speak some such words.
But the next morning after his conversation
with David Ellis he sat in the parlor
of the Green Dragon fondling the ever
Joan Hammond looked up once or twice
from her paper, wondering when the historian
would begin work. He seemed to be taking
a long time this morning to rouse himself to
"I shall take Gamboge with me when I go,"
he said at last. "I've bought her for half a
crown. That is a paltry sum to give for such
a precious creature."
"Are you thinking of going, then?" asked
"Yes," he answered cheerily. "I must just
wait to see those rascals, the hill-ponies, and
then I must go back to the barbarous big
world, into which you are so anxious to penetrate."
"Father has determined to sell Nance," she
said sadly; "so I can't saddle the white horse
and be off."
"And you are sorry to lose your old friend?"
he said kindly.
"One has to give up everything," she answered.
"Not everything," Hieronymus said. "Not
the nasty things, for instance--only the nice
Joan laughed and dipped her pen into the ink.
"The truth of it is, I'm not in the least
inclined to work this morning," said Hieronymus.
Joan waited, the pen in her hand. He
had said that so many times before, and yet
he had always ended by doing some work
"I believe that my stern task-mistress, my
dear love who died so many years ago--I
believe that even she would give me a
holiday to-day," Hieronymus said. "And she
always claimed so much work of me; she was
never satisfied. I think she considered me a
lazy fellow, who needed spurring on. She
had great ambitions for me; she believed
everything of me, and wished me to work
out her ambitions, not for the sake of the
fame and the name, but for the sake of the
good it does us all to grapple with ourselves."
He had drawn from his pocket a small
miniature of a sweet-looking woman. It was
a spiritual face, with tender eyes; a face to
linger in one's memory.
"When she first died," Hieronymus
continued, as though to himself, "I could not
have written a line without this dear face
before me. It served to remind me that
although I was unhappy and lonely, I must
work if only to please her. That is what I
had done when she was alive, and it seemed
disloyal not to do so when she was dead.
And it was the only comfort I had; but a
strong comfort, filling full the heart. It is
ten years now since she died; but I scarcely
need the miniature, the dear face is always
before me. Ten years ago, and I am still
alive, and sometimes, often indeed, very
happy; she was always glad when I laughed
cheerily, or I made some fun out of nothing.
'What a stupid boy you are!' she would say.
But she laughed all the same. We were
very happy together, she and I; we had
loved each other a long time, in spite of many
difficulties and troubles. But the troubles
had cleared, and we were just going to make
our little home together when she died."
There was no tremor in his voice as he spoke.
"We enjoyed everything," he went on;
"every bit of fun, every bit of beauty--the
mere fact of living and loving, the mere fact
of the world being beautiful, the mere fact
of there being so much to do and to be and
to strive after. I was not very ambitious for
myself. At one time I had cared greatly;
then the desire had left me. But when she
first came into my life, she roused me from
my lethargy; she loved me, and did not wish
me to pause one moment in my life's work.
The old ambitions had left me, but for her
sake I revived them; she was my dear good
angel, but always, as I told her, a stern
task-giver. Then when she was gone, and I had
not her dear presence to help me, I just felt
I could not go on writing any more. Then
I remembered how ambitious she was for me,
and so I did not wait one moment. I took up
my work at once, and have tried to earn a
name and a fame for her sake."
He paused and stirred the fire uneasily.
"It was very difficult at first," he
continued; "everything was difficult. And even
now, after ten years, it is not always easy.
And I cared so little. That was the hardest
part of all: to learn to care again. But the
years pass, and we live through a tempest of
grief, and come out into a great calm. In
the tempest we fancied we were alone; in
the calm we know that we have not been
alone; that the dear face has been looking
at us lovingly, and the dear voice speaking
to us through the worst hours of the storm,
and the dear soul knitting itself closer and
closer to our soul."
Joan bent over the paper.
"So the days have passed into weeks and
months and years," he said, "and here am I,
still looking for my dear love's blessing and
approval; still looking to her for guidance,
to her and no one else. Others may be able
to give their heart twice over, but I am not
one of those. People talk of death effacing
love! as though death and love could have
any dealings the one with the other. They
always were strangers; they always will be
strangers. So year after year I mourn for
her, in my own way, happily, sorrowfully,
and always tenderly; sometimes with
laughter, sometimes with tears. When I see all
the beautiful green things of the world, and
sing from very delight, I know she would be
glad. When I make a good joke or turn a
clever sentence, I know she would smile her
praise. When I do my work well, I know
she would be satisfied. And though I may
fail in all I undertake, still there is the going
on trying. Thus I am always a mourner,
offering to her just that kind of remembrance
which her dear beautiful soul would cherish most."
He was handling the little miniature.
"May I see the face?" Joan asked very gently.
He put the miniature in her hands. She
looked at it, and then returned it to him,
"And now, little secretary," he said, in his
old cheery way, "I do believe I could do
some work if I tried. It's only a question
of will-power. Come, dip your pen in the
ink, and write as quickly as you can."
He dictated for nearly an hour, and then
Joan slipped off quickly home.
Up in her little bedroom it was all in vain
that she chased the tears from her face.
They came again, and they came again.
"He has seen that I love him," she sobbed.
"And that was his dear kind way of telling
me that I was a foolish little child. Of
course I was a foolish little child, but I
couldn't help it! Indeed I couldn't help it.
And I must go on crying. No one need know."
So she went on crying, and no one knew.
They were captured, those little wretches,
the hill-ponies, having been chased down from
all directions, and gathered together in the
enclosure set apart for their imprisonment.
There they were, cribbed, cabined, and
confined, some of them distressed, and all of
them highly indignant at the rough
treatment which they had received. This
gathering together of the wild ponies occurred two
or three times in the year, when the owners
assembled to identify their particular herd,
and to reimpress their mark on the ponies
which belonged to them. It was no easy
matter to drive them down from the hills;
though indeed they came down willingly
enough at night to seek what they might
devour. Then one might hear their little feet
pattering quickly over the ground, helter-skelter!
The villagers were well accustomed
to the sound. "It's only the hill-ponies, the
rascals!" they would say. But when they
were wanted, they would not come. They
led the beaters a rare dance over hill and dale;
but it always ended in the same way. Then,
after four or five years of life on the hills,
their owners sold them, and that was the
end of all their fun, and all their shagginess too.
Hieronymus stood near the enclosure
watching the proceedings with the greatest
interest. The men were trying to divide the
ponies into groups, according to the mark on
their backs. But this was no easy matter
either; the little creatures kicked and threw
themselves about in every direction but the
right one, and they were so strong that their
struggles were generally successful. The
sympathies of Hieronymus went with the
rebels, and he was much distressed when he
saw three men hanging on to the tail of one
of the ponies, and trying to keep him back
from another group.
"I say, you there!" he cried, waving his
stick. "I can't stand that."
Mrs. Benbow, who was standing near him,
laughed, and called him to order.
"Now don't you be meddling with what
you don't understand," she said. "You may
know a good deal about books, but it's not
much you'll know about hill-ponies."
"That's quite true," said Hieronymus humbly.
"Come along with me now," commanded
Mrs. Benbow, "and help me buy a red pig!"
Nothing but a red pig would have made
Hieronymus desert the hill-ponies. A red
pig was of course irresistible to any one in his
senses; and the historian followed contentedly
after the landlady of the Green Dragon.
She made her way among the crowds of
people who had come to this great horse-fair,
which was the most important one of the whole
year. Hieronymus was much interested in
every one and everything he saw; he looked
at the horses, and sheep, and cows, and
exchanged conversation with any one who would
talk to him.
"There's a deal of money will change
hands to-day," said a jolly old farmer to him.
"But prices be dreadful low this year. Why,
the pigs be going for a mere nothing."
"I'm going to buy a pig," Hieronymus said
proudly, "a red one."
"Ah," said the farmer, looking at him with
a sort of indulgent disdain, "it's a breed as I
care nothing about."
Then he turned to one of his colleagues,
evidently considering Hieronymus rather a
feeble kind of individual, with whom it was
not profitable to talk.
The historian was depressed for the
moment, but soon recovered his spirits when he
saw the fascinating red pigs. And his pride
and conceit knew no bounds when Mrs. Benbow
actually chose and bought the very
animal which he had recommended to her
notice. He saw David Ellis, and went to
tell him about the pig. The exciseman
laughed, and then looked sad again.
"My little Joan is very unhappy," he said,
half in a whisper. "The old white horse is
to be sold. Do you see her there yonder?
How I wish I could buy the old mare and
give her to Joan!"
"That would be a very unwise thing for
you to do," said Hieronymus.
"Yes," said David. "And do you know,
I've been thinking of what you said about
her going out into the world. And I found
this advertisement. Shall I give it to her?"
Hieronymus looked at it.
"You're a dear fellow, David," he said
warmly. "Yes, give it to her. And I too
have been thinking of what you said to me.
I've told her a little of my story, and she
knows now how my heart is altogether taken
up with my past. So, if I've done any harm
to her and you, I have tried to set it right.
And to-morrow I am going home. You will
see me off at the station?"
"I'll be there," said the exciseman.
But there was no sign in his manner that
he wished to be rid of Hieronymus. The
historian, who all unconsciously won people's
hearts, all unconsciously kept them too.
Even Auntie Lloyd, to whom he had been
presented, owned that he "had a way" about
him. (But then he had asked after her
sciatica!) He spoke a few words to Joan,
who stood lingering near the old white mare.
She had been a little shy of him since he had
talked so openly to her; and he had noticed
this, and used all his geniality to set her at
her ease again.
"This is my last afternoon," he said to her,
"and I have crowned the achievements of my
visit here by choosing a red pig. Now I'm
going back to the big barbarous world to
boast of my new acquirements--brewing beer,
eating pastry, drinking beef-tea, cutting up
the beans, making onion pickles, and other
odd jobs assigned to me by Queen Elizabeth
of the Green Dragon. Here she comes to
fetch me, for we are going to drive the red
pig home in the cart. Then I'm to have some
tea with rum in it, and some of those
horrible Shropshire crumpets. Then if I'm alive
after the crumpets and the rum, there will
be a few more odd jobs for me to do, and
then to-morrow I go. As for yourself, little
secretary, you are going to put courage into
your heart, and fight your battles well. Tell me?"
"Yes," she said; and she looked up brightly,
though there were tears in her eyes.
"Do you know those words, 'Hitch your
wagon to a star?'" he said. "Emerson was
right. The wagon spins along merrily then.
And now good-bye, little secretary. You must
come and see me off at the station to-morrow.
I want all my friends around me."
So on the morrow they gathered round
him, Mr. Benbow, Mrs. Benbow, two of the
Malt-House Farm boys, the old woman who
kept the grocer's shop, and who had been
doing a good trade in sweetmeats since
Hieronymus came, the exciseman, and Joan
Hammond, and old John of the wooden leg.
They were all there, sorrowful to part with
him, glad to have known him.
"If you would only stay," said Mrs. Benbow;
"there are so many odd jobs for you to do!"
"No, I must go," said the historian. "There
is an end to everything, excepting to your
beef-tea. But I've been very happy."
His luggage had increased since he came
to Little Stretton. He had arrived with a
small portmanteau; he went away with the
same portmanteau, an oak chair which
Mr. Benbow had given him, and a small hamper
"Take care how you carry that hamper,"
he said to the porter. "There is a dog
inside undergoing a cat incarnation!"
To Joan he said: "Little secretary, answer
the advertisement and go out into the world."
And she promised.
And to David he said: "When you've
finished that book-list write to me for
And he promised.
Then the train moved off, and the dear
kind face was out of sight.
* * * * *
Mrs. Benbow went home to do the
scouring and cleaning.
David rode off to Ludlow and bought a book.
Joan sat in her room at the Malt-House
Farm, and cried her heart out. Then she
looked at the advertisement and answered it.
"It was kind of David," she said.
* * * * *
So Joan went out into the world.
* * * * *
The weeks, the months, seem long without
her. He buys his books, and with every
new book he buys new comfort. He recalls
the historian's words: "Some day, when she
is tired, she will be glad to lean on some
one whom she can trust."
So David waits.