The Parson O' DumfordŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
Volume One Ė Chapter Fifteen.
Daisy is Obstinate
ďA lungeing villain,Ē muttered Joe Banks to himself, ďhe knows nowt but nastiness. Strange thing that a man canít make up to a pretty girl wiíout people putting all sorts oí bad constructions on it. Why theyíre all alike Ė Missis Glaire, the wife and all. My Daisy, too. To say such a word of her.Ē
He hastened home, filled his pipe, lit it, and went out and sat down in the garden, in front of his bees, to smoke and watch them, while he calmed himself down and went over what had gone by, before thinking over the future.
This was a favourite place with Joe Banks on a Sunday, and he would sit in contemplative study here for hours. For he said it was like having a holiday and looking at somebody else work, especially when the bees were busy in the glass bells turned over the flat-topped hives.
ďIíd no business to hit a crippled man like that,Ē mused Joe; ďbut heíd no business to anger me. Be a lesson to him.Ē
He filled a fresh pipe, lit it by holding the match sheltered in his hands, and then went on ó
ďBe a lesson to him Ė a hard one, for my hand ainít light. Pity he hadnít coot away, for he put me out.Ē
ďNow, whatíll I do?Ē mused Joe. ďShall I speak to the maister?Ē
ďNo, I weanít. Heíll speak to me when itís all raight, and Daisy and him has made it up. Iíll troost him, that I will; for though heís a bit wild, heís a gentleman at heart, like his father before him. Why of course Iíll troost him. Heís a bit shamefaced about it oí course; but heíll speak, all in good time. Both of íem will, and think theyíre going to surprise me. Ha Ė ha Ė ha! Iíve gotten íem though. Lord, what fools young people is Ė blind as bats Ė blind as bats. Hereís Daisy.Ē
ďItís so nice to see you sitting here, father,Ē said the girl, coming behind him, and resting her chin on his bald crown, while her plump arms went round his neck.
ďIs it, my gal? Thatís raight. Why, Daisy lass, what soft little arms thine are. Give us a kiss.Ē
Daisy leaned down and kissed him, and then stopped with her arms resting on his shoulders, keeping her face from confronting him; and so they remained for a few minutes, when a smile twinkled about the corners of the foremanís lips and eyes as he said ó
ďDaisy, my gal, Iíve been watching the bees a bit.Ē
ďYes, father,Ē she said, smiling, though it was plain to see that the smile was forced. ďYes, father, you always like to watch the bees.Ē
ďI do, my bairn, I do. Theyíre just like so many workmen in a factory; but they donít strike, my gal, they donít strike.Ē
ďBut they swarm, father,Ē said Daisy, making an effort to keep up the conversation.
ďYes,Ē chuckled Joe, taking hold of the hand that rested on his left shoulder. ďYes, my bairn, I was just coming to that. They swarm, donít they?Ē
ďAnd do you know why they swarm, Daisy?Ē
ďYes, father; because the hive is not big enough for them.Ē
ďYes, yes,Ē chuckled Joe, patting the hand, and holding it to his rough cheek.
ďYouíre raight, but itís something more, Daisy: itís the young ones going away from home and setting up for theirselves Ė all the young ones ímost do that some day.Ē
The tears rose to Daisyís eyes, and she tried to withdraw her hand, for Joe had touched on a tenderer point than he imagined; but he held it tightly and gave it a kiss.
ďThere, there, my pet,Ē he said, tenderly, ďI wonít tease you. I knew it would come some day all right enough, and I donít mind. I only want my little lass to be happy.Ē
ďOh, father Ė father Ė father,Ē sobbed Daisy, letting her face droop till it rested on his head, while her tears fell fast.
ďCome, come, come, little woman,Ē he said, laughing; ďthou mustnít cry. Why, itís all raight.Ē There was a huskiness in his voice though, as he spoke, and he had to fight hard to make the dew disappear from his eyes. ďHere, I say, Daisy, my lass, that weanít do no good: you may rain watter for ever on my owd bald head, and the hair wonít come again. There Ė tut Ė tut Ė tut Ė youíll have moother here directly, and sheíll be asking whatís wrong.Ē
Daisy made a strong effort over self, and succeeded at last in drying her eyes.
ďThen, you are not cross with me, father?Ē faltered Daisy.
ďCross, my darling? not a bit,Ē said Joe, patting her hand again. ďYou shanít disgrace the man as has you, my dear; that you shanít. Why, youíre fit to be a little queen, you are.Ē
Daisy gave him a hasty kiss, and ran off, while Joe proceeded to refill his pipe.
ďCross indeed! I should just think I hadnít,Ē he exclaimed Ė ďonly with the women. Well, theyíll come round.Ē
But if Joe Banks had stood on the hill-side a couple of hours earlier, just by the spot where Tom Podmore had sat on the day of the vicarís arrival, he would perhaps have viewed the matter in a different light, for Ė of course by accident Ė Daisy had there encountered Richard Glaire, evidently not for the first time since the night when they were interrupted by Tom in the lane.
It was plain that any offence Richard had given on the night in question had long been condoned, and that at every meeting he was gaining a stronger mastery over the girlís heart.
ďThen you will, Daisy, wonít you?Ē he whispered to her.
ďNo, no, Dick dear. Donít ask me. Let me tell father all about it.Ē
ďWhat?Ē he cried.
ďLet me tell father all about it, and Iím sure heíll be pleased.Ē
ďMy dear little Daisy, how well you are named,Ē he cried, playfully; and as he looked lovingly down upon her, the foolish girl began to compare him with the lover of her motherís choice Ė a man who was nearly always blackened with his labours, and heavy and rough spoken, while here was Richard Glaire professing that he worshipped her, and looking, in her eyes, so handsome in his fashionably-cut blue coat with the rosebud in the button-hole, and wearing patent leather boots as tight as the lemon gloves upon his well-formed hands.
ďI canít help my name,Ē she said, coquettishly.
ďI wouldnít have it changed for the world, my little pet,Ē he whispered, playing with her dimpled chin; ďonly you are as fresh as a daisy.Ē
ďWhat do you mean, Dick?Ē she said, nestling to him.
ďWhy you are so young and innocent. Look here, my darling: donít you see how Iím placed? My mother wants me to marry Eve.Ē
ďBut you donít really, really, really, care the least little bit for her, do you, Mr Richard?Ē
ďĎMr Richard!íĒ reproachfully.
ďDear Dick, then,Ē she whispered, colouring up, and glancing fondly at him, half ashamed though the while at her boldness.
ďOf course I donít love her. Havenít I sworn a hundred times that I love only you, and that I want you to be my darling little wife?Ē
ďYes, yes,Ē said the girl, softly.
ďWell, then, my darling, if you go and tell your father, the first thing heíll do will be to go and tell my mother, and then thereíll be no end of a row.Ē
ďBut she loves you very much, Dick.Ē
ďWorships me,Ē said Dick, complacently.
ďOf course,Ē said the girl, softly; and her foolish little eyes seemed to say, ďShe couldnít help it,Ē while she continued, ďand sheíd let you do as you like, Dick.Ē
ďWell, but you see the devil of it is, Daisy, that I promised her I wouldnít see you any more.Ē
ďWhy did you do that?Ē said the girl, sharply.
ďTo save rows Ė I hate a bother.Ē
ďRichard, you were ashamed of me, and wouldnít own me,Ē said Daisy, bursting into tears.
ďOh, what a silly, hard-hearted, cruel little blossom it is,Ē said Richard, trying to console her, but only to be pushed away. ďAll I did and said was to save bother, and not upset the old girl. Thatís why I want it all kept quiet. Here, as I tell you, I could be waiting for you over at Chorley, we could pop into the mail as it came through, off up to London, be married by licence, and then the old folks would be in a bit of a temper for a week, and as pleased as Punch afterwards.Ē
ďOh, no, Richard, I couldnít, couldnít do that,Ē said the girl, panting with excitement.
ďYes, you could,Ē he said, ďand come back after a trip to Paris, eh, Daisy? where you should have the run of the fashions. What would they all say when you came back a regular lady, and I took you to the house?Ē
ďOh, Dick, dear Dick, donít ask me,Ē moaned the poor girl, whose young head was in a whirl. ďI couldnít Ė indeed I couldnít be so wicked.Ē
ďSo wicked! no, of course not,Ē said Richard, derisively Ė ďa wicked little creature. Oh, dear, what would become of you if you married Richard Glaire!Ē
ďYouíre teasing me,Ē she said, ďand itís very cruel of you.Ē
ďHorribly,Ē said Richard. ďBut you will come, Daisy?Ē
ďI couldnít, I couldnít,Ē faltered the girl.
ďYes, you could, you little goose.Ē
ďDick, my own handsome, brave Dick,Ē she whispered, ďlet me tell father.Ē
He drew back from her coldly.
ďYou want to be very obedient, donít you?Ē
ďOh, yes, dear Richard,Ē she said, looking at him appealingly.
ďYou set such a good example, Daisy, that I must be very good too.Ē
ďYes, dear,Ē she said, innocently.
ďYes,Ē he said, with a sneer; ďso you go and tell your father like a good little child, and Iíll be a good boy, too, and go and tell my mother, and sheíll scold me and say Iíve been very naughty, and make me marry Eve.Ē
ďOh, Richard, Richard, how can you be so cruel?Ē cried the poor girl, reproachfully.
ďIt isnít I; itís you,Ē he said, smiling with satisfaction as he saw what a plaything the girlís heart was in his hands. ďAre you going to tell your father?Ē
ďOh, no, Dick, not if you say I mustnít.Ē
ďWell, thatís what I do say,Ē he exclaimed sharply.
ďVery well, Dick,Ē she said, sadly.
ďAnd look here, Daisy, my own little one,Ē he whispered, kissing her tear-wet face, ďsome day, when I ask you, it shall be as I say, eh?Ē
ďOh, Dick, darling, Iíll do anything you wish but that. Donít ask me to run away.Ē
ďDo you want to break off our match?Ē he said, bitterly.
ďOh, no Ė no: Ė no Ė no.Ē
ďDo you want to make my home miserable?Ē
ďYou know I donít, Richard.Ē
ďBecause, I tell you I know my mother will never consent to it unless she is forced.Ē
ďBut you are your own master now, Richard,Ē she pleaded.
ďNot so much as you think for, my little woman. So come, promise me. I know you wonít break your word if you do promise.Ē
ďNo, Dick, never,Ē she said, earnestly; and if there had been any true love in the young fellowís breast he would have been touched by the trusting, earnest reliance upon him that shone from her eyes as she looked up affectionately in his face.
ďThen promise me, Daisy, dear,Ē he whispered; ďit is for the good of both of us, and Ė Hang it all, thereís Slee.Ē
Daisy was sent off as we know, and the tears fell fast as she hastened home, feeling that love was very sweet, but that its roses had thorns that rankled and stung.
ďOh, Dick, Dick,Ē she sobbed as she went on, ďI wish sometimes that Iíd never seen you, for it is so hard not to do whatever you wish.Ē
She dried her eyes hastily as she neared home, and drew her breath a little more hardly as about a hundred yards from the gate she saw Tom Podmore, who looked at her firmly and steadily as they passed, and hardly responded to her nod.
ďHe knows where Iíve been. He knows where Iíve been,Ē whispered Daisy to herself as she hurried on; and she was quite right, for her conscious cheeks hoisted a couple of signal flags of the ruddiest hue Ė signals that poor Tom could read as well as if they had been written down in a code, and he ground his teeth as he turned and watched her.
ďSheís such a good girl that any one might troost her,Ē he muttered, as he saw her go in at the gate, ďor else Iíd go and tell Joe all as I knows. But no, I couldnít do that, for it would hurt her, just as it would if I was to half kill Dick Glaire. Sheíll find him out some day perhaps Ė not as it matters to me though, for itís all over now.Ē
He walked back, looking over the green fence as he passed, and Mrs Banks waved her hand to him from the window; but his eyes were too much occupied by the sight of Daisy leaning over her father, and he walked on so hurriedly that he nearly blundered up against a great stalwart figure coming the other way.
Volume One Ė Chapter Sixteen.
The Vicarís Friends
ďWhat cheer, owd Tommy?Ē cried the stalwart figure, pulling a short black pipe out of his mouth.
ďHallo, Harry,Ē said Tom, quietly, at least as quietly as he could, for the words were jerked out of his mouth by the tremendous clap on the shoulder administered by the big hammerman.
ďWhatís going to be done, Tommy?Ē growled the great fellow. ďIím íbout tired oí this. I wants to hit something.Ē
He stretched out his great sinewy arm, and then drawing it back, let it fly again with such force that a man would have gone down before it like a cork.
ďCome along,Ē said Tom, who wished to get away from the neighbourhood of Banksís cottage for fear Mrs Banks should call to him.
Harry was a man whose brain detested originality. He was a machine who liked to be set in motion, so he followed Tom like a huge dog, and without a word.
As they came abreast of the vicarage they saw the vicar at work gardening, and Jacky Budd making believe to dig very hard in the wilderness still unreclaimed.
Even at their distance, Jackyís pasty face and red ripe nose, suggestive of inward tillage, were plainly to be seen, and just then a thought seemed to strike Tom, who turned to his companion, staring with open mouth over the hedge.
ďLike a job, Harry?Ē
ďHey, lad, I should.Ē
ďCome in here then,Ē said Tom, laying his hand on the gate.
ďThat I will, lad,Ē said Harry. ďI want to scrarp some un, and I should ímazin like a fall wií that theer parson.Ē
Tom smiled grimly, and entered, followed by Harry.
They were seen directly by the vicar, who came up and shook hands with Tom.
ďAh, Podmore, glad to see you. Well, Harry, my man,Ē he continued, holding out his hand to the other, ďis the lump on your forehead gone?Ē
Harry took the vicarís hand and held it in a mighty grip, while with his left he removed his cap and looked in the lining, as if to see if the bruise was there.
ďNever thowt no more íbout it, parson.Ē Then gazing down at the soft hand he held, he muttered, ďItís amaaziní!Ē
ďWhatís amazing?Ē said the vicar, smiling.
ďWhy that you could hit a man such a crack wií a hand like this íere.Ē
ďDonít mind him, sir; itís his way,Ē said Tom, apologetically. ďFact is, parson, weíre tired oí doing nowt.Ē
ďIím glad to hear you say so, Podmore,Ē said the vicar, earnestly. ďI wish from my heart this unhappy strife were at an end. Iím trying my best.Ē
ďOf course you are, sir,Ē said Tom; ďbut I thowt mebbe youíd give Harry here and me a bit oí work.Ē
ďWork! what work?Ē said the vicar, wonderingly.
ďWell, you said Iíd best get to work, and Iíve got nowt to do. That Jacky Budd thereís picking about as if he was scarred oí hurting the ground: let me and Harry dig it up.Ē
The vicar looked from one to the other for a moment, and as his eyes rested on Harry, that giant gave Tom a clap on the shoulder hard enough to make a bruise, as he exclaimed ó
ďHark at that now, for a goodín, parson. Here, gieís hold of a shovel.Ē
The vicar led the way to the tool-house, furnished his visitors with tools, and then stood close at hand to supply the science, while the way in which the two men began to dig had such an effect on Jacky Budd that he stood still and perspired.
A dozen great shovelfuls of earth were turned over by Harry, who then stopped short, threw off his coat and vest, tightened the belt round his waist, and loosening the collar of his shirt, proceeded to roll up the sleeves before moistening his hands and seizing the spade once more, laughing heartily as he turned over the soft earth like a steam plough.
ďSlip intí it, Tommy. Well, this is a game. Itís straange and fine though, after doiní nowt for a week.Ē
Tom was digging steadily and well, for he was a bit of a gardener in his way, having often helped Joe Banks to dig his piece in the early days of his love.
ďBetter borry some more garden, parson; we shall haí done this íere in íbout an hour and a half,Ē said Harry, grinning; and then Ė crack!
ďLook at that for a tool!Ē he cried, holding up the broken shovel, snapped in two at the handle.
ďTry this one, Harry,Ē said Jacky Budd, handing his own spade eagerly; ďIíve got some hoeing to do.Ē
Harry took the tool and worked away a little more steadily, with the result that poor Jacky Budd was deprived of a good deal of the work that would have fallen to his lot; a deprivation, however, that he suffered without a sigh.
ďNow, I ainít agoing to beg, parson,Ē said Harry, after a couple of hoursí work, ďbut my forge wants coal, and a bite oí bread and a bit oí slip-coat cheese would be to raights.Ē
ďSlip-coat cheese?Ē said the vicar.
ďHe means cream cheese,Ē said Tom, who had been working away without a word, keeping Jacky busy clearing away the weeds.
ďNo, I donít,Ē growled Harry. ďI mean slip-coat, and a moog oí ale.Ē
ďShall I go and fetch some, sir?Ē said Jacky Budd, eagerly.
ďThank you, no, Budd,Ē said the vicar, quietly. ďI wonít take you from your work;Ē and, to Jackyís great disgust, he went and fetched a jug of ale from his little cellar himself.
ďHe ainít a bad un,Ē cried Harry, tearing away at the earth. ďKeeps a drink oí ale ií the plaace. I thowt parsons allus drunk port wine.Ē
ďNot always, my man,Ē said the vicar, handing the great fellow the jug, and while he was drinking, up came Jacky with his lips parted, and a general look on his visage as if he would like to hang his tongue out like a thirsty hound and pant.
ďShall I get the leather, sir, and just nail up that there bit oí vine over the window?Ē
ďGet the what, Budd?Ē said the vicar, who looked puzzled.
ďThe leather, sir, the leather.Ē
ďHe means the lather, sir,Ē said Tom, quietly, ďthe lather to climb up.Ē
ďOh, the ladder,Ē said the vicar. ďYes, by all means,Ē he continued, smiling as he saw the clerkís thirsty look. ďI wonít ask you to drink, Budd,Ē he went on as he handed the mug to Tom, who took a hearty draught. ďYou told me you did not drink beer on principle; and I never like to interfere with a manís principles, though I hold that beer in moderation is good for out-door workers.Ē
ďThanky, sir, quite right, sir,Ē said Jacky, with a blank look on his face. ďIíll get the leather and a few nails, and do that vine now.Ē
ďPoof!Ē ejaculated Harry, with a tremendous burst of laughter, as he went on digging furiously. ďWell, thatís alarming.Ē
ďWhatís the matter, old mate?Ē said Tom.
ďNowt at all. Poof!Ē he roared again, turning over the earth. ďJacky Budd donít drink beer on principle. Poof!Ē
The vicar paid no heed to him, only smiled to himself, and the gardening progressed at such a rate that by five oíclock what had been a wilderness began to wear a very pleasant aspect of freedom from weeds and overgrowth, and with the understanding that the two workers were to come and finish in the morning, they resumed their jackets and went off.
Their visit to the vicarage had not passed unnoticed, however; for Sim Slee had been hanging about, seeking for an opportunity to have a word with his wife, and not seeing her, he had carried the news to the Bull and Cucumber.
ďThings is coming to a pretty pass,Ē he said to the landlord. ďThat parsonís got a way of getting ower iverybody. What do you think now?Ē
ďCanít say,Ē said the landlord.
ďHeís gotten big Harry and Tom Podmore working in his garden like two big beasts at plough.Ē
ďHeíll be gettiní oí you next, Sim,Ē said the landlord, laughing.
ďGettiní oí me!Ē echoed Sim. ďNot he. He tried it on wií me as soon as we met; but I wrastled with him by word oí mouth, and he went down like a stone.Ē
ďDid he though, Sim?Ē
ďAy, lad. Yon parsonís all very well, but heís fra London, and heíll hev to get up pretty early to get over a Lincoln man, eh?Ē
ďAy,Ē said the landlord; ďbut he ainít so bad nayther. A came here and sat down just like a christian, and talked to the missus and played wií the bairns for long enough.Ē
ďDid he though,Ē said Sim. ďHey, lad, but thatís his artfulness. He wants to get the whip hand oí thee.Ē
ďI dunno íbout that,Ē said the landlord, who eked out his income from the publican business with a little farming. ďI thowt so at first, and expected heíd want to read a chapter and give me some tracks.Ē
ďWell, didnít he?Ē said Sim.
ďNay, not he. We only talked once íbout íligious matters, and íbout the chapel Ė ay, and we talked íbout you aní all.Ē
ďíBout me?Ē said Sim, getting interested, and pausing with his mug half way to his lips.
ďYes,Ē said the landlord. ďIt come about throof me saying I see heíd gotten your missus to keep house for him.Ē
ďGive me another gill oí ale,Ē said Sim, now deeply interested.
The landlord filled his mug for him, and went on ó
ďI said she were íbout the cleanest woman in these parts, and the way sheíd fettle up a place and side things was wonderful.Ē
ďYow neednít haí been so nation fast talking íbout my wife,Ē said Sim.
ďI niver said nowt agen her,Ē said the landlord, chuckling to himself. ďAnd then we got talking íbout you and the chapel.Ē
ďWhat did he know íbout me and the chapel?Ē cried Sim, angrily.ŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ