The Parson O' DumfordŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
Volume Two Ė Chapter Twelve.
As the days passed, and no information could be obtained respecting Daisy Banks, and the efforts of the police to trace the two strangers proved utterly fruitless, John Maine was in a state of mind not to be envied. By degrees it oozed out more and more that he had been seen with the two men, and the police came down to the farm, to question him, looking suspiciously at him, as he told them that they were men he had met once before in the neighbourhood of Nottingham; and when the constables left he had the annoyance of feeling that he would be watched, for it was evident that he was looked upon with suspicion.
Joe Banks had been nearly mad with excitement, and leaving his sobbing wife day after day, he had searched and researched the country round, aided by Tom Podmore, Harry, and a score of the other men. Richard Glaire had made no show of assisting after the first day, for he had awakened to the fact that the town was not a safe home for him, and it was fully his intention to leave the place for awhile; but, for his own reasons, he preferred to wait a little longer.
Sim Slee was about now a good deal, and another encounter had taken place between him and Richard, after which Sim had gone round to the vicarage back-door, to implore help from his wife, asserting that he was half killed, and begging her to come home and attend on him.
As it happened, the vicar heard him, and came to see how bad were his injuries, and to offer to set his housekeeper at liberty.
ďIíll manage without you, Mrs Slee, if you like,Ē he said kindly.
ďBut I donít like,Ē said Mrs Slee; ďthereíll be fifty people here soon for soup and bread, and how can you get shoot of íem all wiíout me?Ē
ďThou must come home, lovey,Ē said Sim, in a dismal voice. ďIím very bad. Iíve got money enew, too, now to keep us for weeks.Ē
ďWhere didsít thou get money from?Ē said Mrs Slee, sharply.
ďNever thou mind,Ē said Sim. ďIíve gotten it, and now come home.Ē
ďBut how did you get knocked about like that?Ē said the vicar, smiling to himself.
ďThat cursed Dicky Glaire set upon me,Ē moaned Sim, one of whose eyes was swollen up, while there was a cut across the bridge of his nose. ďHeís mad wií me because I wouldnít help him to carry off Daisy Banks to London, and heís leathered me this how. But Iíll hev it out of him yet.Ē
ďDid Dicky Glaire want yow to get her away?Ē said Mrs Slee.
ďYes, a coward, and I wouldnít,Ē said Sim, ďso heís done it his sen.Ē
ďBe careful what you are saying, Mr Slee,Ē said the vicar, snipping a strip of sticking-plaister off a piece in his pocket-book with his nail-scissors, and breathing upon it to make it warm.
ďKeerful,Ē said Sim; ďhe deserves to be hung for it.Ē
ďDo you mean to assert that Mr Glaire has done this? Because if so, you will have to substantiate your statement before a magistrate.Ē
ďI donít say for certain as he has,Ē said Sim; ďbut he wanted me to, and I wouldnít.
Oh! oh! oh!Ē
ďStand still, man, and donít be such a cur,Ē cried the vicar, sharply, for he had been applying the plaister to Simís slight cut, and the hero had begun to howl dismally.
ďItís half killing me,Ē cried Sim, again.
ďTake hold of his head, Mrs Slee; the cut is nothing at all.Ē
Mrs Slee seized Sim pretty roughly, and held him by his ears, while the plaister was affixed, the great orator moaning and flinching and writhing till he was set at liberty.
ďIs it bad, sir?Ē said Mrs Slee, then.
ďSo bad,Ē said the vicar, ďthat if a schoolboy of nine or ten received such a drubbing from a playmate, he would have washed his face and said nothing about it.Ē
ďSaid nowt about it!Ē cried Sim. ďAye, itís easy for them as aint hurt to talk. Thouílt come home wií me, lovey?Ē
ďNo. Go thee gate,Ē said Mrs Slee.
ďDo íee come, lovey,Ē said Sim.
ďI weanít,Ē said Mrs Slee, shortly; and without more ado, she took her lord by the shoulders, and guided him to the door, which she closed upon him, leaving him to make his way up the street, vowing vengeance against Richard Glaire, the parson, and all the world.
In fact, mischief was brewing, and would have come to a head sooner but for the episode of Daisyís disappearance. A deputation of the men had waited upon Richard Glaire, and offered terms for coming back to work; but he had obstinately held out for the reparation to be made, increasing the value he had previously set upon the destroyed bands, and declaring that if he were not paid a hundred and fifty pounds damages, he would keep the works closed.
ďThouílt be sorry for this, Maister,Ē said the man who acted as spokesman.
ďSorry!Ē said Richard, defiantly. ďIím sorry I ever had such a set of curs to work for me.Ē
ďBut weíve telled you as it was none oí us.Ē
ďI donít care who it was,Ē retorted Richard; ďI want a hundred and fifty pounds for the damage done; and I ought to have payment for my losses by the foundry standing still.Ē
ďOur wives and bairns íll soon be pined to dead,Ē said another man.
ďYou should have thought of that before,Ē said Richard, coldly. ďA hundred and fifty pounds made up amongst you, and the fires may be lit, and weíll go on once more; till thatís paid Iíll keep the place locked up if Iím ruined by it.Ē
Then came the disappearance of Daisy Banks, and it wanted but little on the part of Sim Slee to half madden the weaker spirits against the man who was starving their wives and children, and had robbed Joe Banks of his daughter.
It so happened that Joe Banks, on the day following Simís doctoring, about a fortnight after the disappearance, during which time he had not seen Mrs Glaire, but only Eve, who had been again and again to try and administer comfort to Mrs Banks, came upon a knot of men, listening to an oration made by Sim Slee, who, as soon as he saw Joe coming up in company with Tom Podmore, who was his staunch and faithful ally throughout, cried loudly:
ďHere he comes! Here comes the downtrodden, ill-used paytriot, who has served the rotten family for thirty year, and then been robbed for his pains. Heís agoing to join my brotherhood now, lads Ė him and Tom Podmore.Ē
ďHooray!Ē cried the men.
ďAnd heíll be a captain and a leader among us as is going to beat down the oppressors and robbers of our flocks and herds. Heís agoing, lads, to pull down with us the bloated Aristorchus, as is living on his oil olive, and honey, while we hevenít bread to put in the mouths of our bairns.Ē
There was a groan here from the little crowd, some of whom readily accepted Sim Sleeís Aristorchus, as they would have taken in any loud-sounding word in their present humour.
ďCome on, brave captain, as hev had your eye-lids opened to the malice and wickedness of your employer, and join them as is going to groan no more under the harrows and ploughshares of oppression. It is said as the ox or beast shanít be muzzled as treadeth out the corn, and we aint agoing to let that oppressor, Dicky Glaire, muzzle us any more.Ē
ďHooray!Ē cried the growing crowd.
ďCome on, then, brave captain. Lads, Joe Banks is a man as weíll be proud to serve wií; and wií Tom Podmore too, for theyíve cast off their sloughĒ Ė Sim called this ďsluffĒ Ė ďof blindness, and hev awaked to the light and glory of liberty. Come on.Ē
ďWhat do you mean?Ē said Joe Banks, firmly.
ďMean, brave captain and leader!Ē cried Sim, making his plaid waistcoat wrinkle with his exertions; ďwhy, that weíre going to trample down him as robbed thee of thy bairn.Ē
ďWhoís that?Ē said Joe Banks, sternly.
ďWhoís that? Ask anybody here if it aint Dicky Glaire, the oppressor, as is going to sneak outer the town to-night to catch the mail train over yonder at the station, and then going to laugh and sneer and mock at the poor, grey old father as heís deceived, and Ė Ē
ďItís a lie,Ē roared Joe. ďWho says Richard Glaire took away my poor murdered bairn?Ē
ďEverybody,Ē said Sim, who was standing on a wall about five feet high, his plaistered face giving him rather a grotesque aspect. ďEverybody says it.Ē
ďNo,Ē roared Joe, ďitís you as says it, you lying, chattering magpie. Howd thee tongue, or Iíll Ė Ē
He seized the speaker by the legs, and had him down in an instant, clutched by the throat, and began shaking him violently.
ďGo on,Ē said Sim, who this time preserved his presence of mind. ďI aint the first paytriot as has been a martyr to his cause; kill me if you like.Ē
ďKill thee, thou noisy starnel of a man! Say as itís a lie again your maister, or Iíll shake thee till thou dost.Ē
ďI weanít say itís a lie,Ē cried Sim. ďAsk anybody if it aint true.Ē
Joe Banks looked round furiously, and a chorus broke out of, ďItís true, lad; itís true.Ē
ďThere,Ē cried Sim, triumphantly. ďWhat hev you to say to that? Ask Tom Podmore what he thinks.Ē
ďI will,Ē cried Joe Banks, who was somewhat staggered by the unanimity of opinion. ďTom Podmore, speak out like a true man and tell these all as itís a lie.Ē
Tom remained silent.
ďDíye hear, Tom? Speak out,Ē cried Joe.
ďIíd rather not speak,Ē said Tom, quietly.
ďBut thou must, lad, thou must,Ē cried Sim. ďAre you going to see a man a martyr for a holy cause, when you can save him?Ē
ďSpeak! speak!Ē cried Joe, panting with rage and emotion; ďtell íem you know itís a lie, Tom.Ē
ďI canít,Ē said Tom, who was driven to bay, ďfor I believe Richard Glaire has got her away.Ē
ďTheer, I telled you,Ē said Sim. ďHe wanted me to help him, only you weanít believe.Ē
ďNo, no, no,Ē roared Joe; ďand I weanít believe it now. He wouldnít, he couldnít do it. He told me he hadnít; and he wouldnít tell me a lie.Ē
The little crowd opened as the true-hearted old fellow strode away, without turning his head, and Tom Podmore followed him towards his home, and at last spoke to him.
Joe turned upon him savagely.
ďGo away,Ē he cried. ďIíve done wií you. I thowt as Tom Podmore were a man, instead oí one oí them chattering maulkin-led fools; but thouírt like the rest.Ē
Tom Podmore stopped short, with his brow knit, while Joe Banks passed on out of sight.
ďHeíll find out, and believe different some day,Ē said Tom, slowly. ďPoor old man, itís enough to break his heart. But I weanít break mine.Ē
As he stood, the noise of cheering came from where he had left Sim Slee talking, and he stood listening and thinking.
ďTheyíll be doing him a mischief ífore theyíve done, and then theyíll end the old works. Damn him! I hate him,Ē he cried, grinding his teeth; ďbut I canít stand still and let Sim Sleeís lot bruise and batter his face as they would till theyíd ímost killed him. Heís soft, and smooth, and good-looking, and Iím Ė well, Iím a rough un,Ē he continued, smiling with contemptuous pity on himself. ďItís no wonder she should love him best, poor lass; but sheíd better hev been a honest ladís wife Ė missus to a man as wouldnít hev said an unkind thing to her to save his life. But they say itís womankind-like: they takes most to him as donít keer for íem.Ē
He stood thinking irresolutely, as the noise and cheering continued: and once he turned to go; but the next moment he was himself, and saying softly:
ďDaisy, my poor little lass, itís for thee Ė itís for thee;Ē he strode hastily to the Big House, knocked, and was admitted.
ďTell Mr Richard I want to see him,Ē said Tom; and the servant-girl smiled pleasantly at the fine, sturdy young fellow.
ďI donít think heíll see thee, Mr Podmore,Ē said the girl, ďbecause heís so cross about the foundry people. Iíll tell him a gentleman wants to see him.Ē
She tripped away, and in a few minutes Richard came down to stand scowling at him.
ďWhat do you want?Ē he said, glaring at his rival.
Tom Podmore writhed mentally, and his nerves tingled with the desire to take Richard Glaire by the throat, and shake him till he could not breathe; but he controlled himself, and said sturdily:
ďI come to tell thee some ill news.Ē
ďWhat is it?Ē said Richard, thrusting his hand into his breast, for his visitor had taken a step forward.
Tom Podmore saw the motion and smiled, but he paid no further heed, and went on bluntly:
ďThou wast going away by train to-night.Ē
ďWho says so?Ē cried Richard, turning pale.
ďThe lads out there Ė Sim Sleeís gang,Ē said Tom; ďand I come to warn thee.Ē
ďWarn me of what?Ē said Richard.
ďTo warn thee as they mean to lay wait for thee, and do thee a mischief.Ē
ďWho says so?Ē
ďI know it,Ē said Tom: ďso if youíll takí a good bit of advice thouílt stay at home, and not go out.Ē
ďItís a trick Ė a trap,Ē cried Richard. ďIf it were true, youíre not the man to come and tell me.Ē
ďWhy not?Ē said Tom bluntly.
ďBecause you hate me, and believe Iíve taken away your wretched wench.Ē
ďDamn thee!Ē cried Tom, seizing him by the arm and throat; and as he brought the young fellow to his knees, quite paralysing his effort to get his hand into Iiis breast; ďthou mayíst say what thee likes again me; but if thee speaks ill of her I canít bear it; so I warn thee. Hate thee I do, and yet I come to tell thee of danger, and Ė Ē
A faint shriek made Tom start, for, pale as death, Eve Pelly rushed to Richardís help, and clutched at Tom Podmoreís sturdy arms, which dropped at her touch as if those of Eve had been talismanic.
ďAw raight, Miss,Ē he said smiling. ďI weanít hurt him; but I come to do him good, and he made me mad.Ē
ďMad, yes,Ē cried Richard, who had regained his feet, and now drew a pistol. ďYou were mad to come here; but Iím ready for you and the rest of your rascally crew, and for all your malicious traps and plans.Ē
ďRichard!Ē shrieked Eve, who tried to catch his arm; but she was flung off, and would have fallen, but for Tom Podmore, before whom she stood, screening him as she begged him to leave the house.
ďYes, Miss, Iíll go,Ē said Tom, smiling; ďnot as Iím afraid of him and his pistol. What I did he browt upon himself. Iíve done what I thowt was raight, so he must takí his chance. I oníy come to warn him as thereís a dozen or two of the lads as listen to Sim Slee made themselves into a gang agen him.Ē
ďWhat, our workmen?Ē cried Eve.
ďWell, only some oí the outsiders, Miss; tíothers weanít have nowt to do wií it. Thatís all.Ē
As he spoke he smiled sadly at the poor pale face before him, and then was gone.
Volume Two Ė Chapter Thirteen.
Podmore Seeks an Ally
Tom Podmore walked straight away from the Big House, listening to the noise and shouting as he went to the Vicarage, where Murray Selwood was in conference with Jacky Budd, respecting certain improvements to be made in the shrubbery, when the season suited for planting.
ďAnd what would you plant here, Budd?Ē he said to the thirsty soul.
ďOh, I should put a few laurels there, sir.Ē
ďAnd in that corner?Ē
ďOh, I should put a few laurels there, sir.Ē
ďAnd in the centre bed?Ē
ďA few laurels, sir.Ē
ďAnd by the bare patch by the edge?Ē
ďJust a few laurels, sir.Ē
ďAnd along the side of the house?Ē
ďCouldnít put anything better than a few laurels, sir.Ē
ďAnd for the new hedge to separate the two gardens?Ē
ďOh, a few laurels, sir.Ē
ďThen you would put laurels all about?Ē
ďWell, yes, sir; you see theyíre so evergreen and Ė Ē
ďOh, hereís Podmore,Ē said the vicar, going down to the gate. ďWell, my lad, how are you? Iím glad to see you.Ē
ďThankyí kindly, sir,Ē said Tom, pressing firmly the hand given to him in so friendly a way. ďCan I speak to you a minute?Ē
ďOf course you can. Come into the house.Ē
He led the way into the vicarage, and placed a chair for Tom in the study, but the young man did not take it, and remained silent.
ďIím deeply grieved,Ē said the vicar, laying his hand on the young fellowís shoulder; ďdeeply, Tom Podmore. I had hoped that she would have come to her senses, and made a better choice.Ē
ďDonít, sir, please donít,Ē said Tom, turning away his head; and, laying his arm against the wall, he placed his forehead against it, and his broad shoulders heaved. ďI canít bear to hear a word spoke again her, sir.Ē
ďIíll not speak against her, Podmore, believe me, poor girl; and I deeply regret that her father was too blind to listen to me.Ē
ďYou spoke to him, then?Ē said Tom, sadly.
ďI did; and I have striven hard to be friends with Richard Glaire, and to bring him to a better feeling; but I failed with both.Ē
ďThen you think as I do, sir,Ē said Tom, sadly Ė ďYou think as sheís been took away?Ē
ďI cannot help thinking so,Ē was the reply. ďIf I am misjudging, I am very sorry; but I have done everything I could to trace her, even to having a man down from town, who has been constantly searching ever since she disappeared, and he has discovered nothing.Ē
ďAnd have you done this, sir?Ē
ďYes; why should I not?Ē said the vicar, sadly. ďBut you have come for some reason, Podmore. What can I do for you?Ē
ďWell, sir, Iíve comed about these goings on up yonder in the town.Ē
ďThereís no fresh violence, I hope,Ē cried the vicar, hastily.
ďNot as yet, sir; but thereís going to be, Iím afraid. You see, sir, thereís about a couple of dozen as has been got over by Sim Slee, and heís made íem join him in some kind of brotherhood, as he calls it. The older men as has got heads on their shoulders laughs at it all, and looks upon Sim as a chattering fool.Ē
ďFools do mischief sometimes,Ē said the vicar, half to himself.
ďYes, sir, they do; but all the best of the men takí Sim Slee at what heís worth; but thereís a few, you see, as are ímazed by his big words, and are ready to be led into any mischief.Ē
ďYes; and you know of this?Ē said the vicar, anxiously.
ďYes, sir, Iíve found as theyíve got to know that Mr Richard Glaireís going away to-night.Ē
ďIs he going away?Ē said the vicar.
ďSo Sim Sleeís telling on íem, sir; but what does it mean íbout Sim Slee being so thick wií him just afore, and now dead againí him?Ē
ďSome quarrel,Ē said the vicar. ďSim Slee must be made to speak out somehow.Ē
ďHeís been speaking to some purpose to-day,Ē said Tom, sharply; ďand I think they mean mischief against the maister to-night, when heís going away.Ē
ďAnd youíve come to tell me this!Ē said the vicar, looking at the sturdy rough young fellow admiringly.
ďYes,Ē said Tom, simply. ďI went and told him at the house, but he turned on me, and said things I couldnít bear, and made me grip him, when Miss Eve came out and atween uz, and that stopped me.Ē
ďAnd then he pulled out a pistol and threatened me.Ē
ďWhat made you grip him?Ē said the vicar, using the young manís words.
ďHe Ė he spoke againí her,Ē said Tom, hoarsely; and as he spoke the veins in his forehead swelled, and an angry frown came upon his countenance.
ďThen you went to the house to warn Richard Glaire of his danger, and he Ė Ē
ďThreatened me, and said it was a trap I was laying,Ē said Tom.
ďAnd then you came to tell me he was in danger. And what for?Ē
Tom was silent for a few moments. Then glancing up in the clear firm face which seemed to demand an answer, he said, almost in a whisper:
ďI couldnít abear for him to be knocked about, if I could stop it.Ē
ďFor Daisyís sake?Ē
ďFor Daisyís sake,Ē said the young man; and the next moment the vicarís hand had closed upon his in a firm grasp.
ďThen weíll try and save him, Tom,Ē said the vicar quietly. ďIím very glad youíve come, Tom. Iíve seen very little of you lately.Ē
Tom looked up at him curiously, said something about being much obliged, and was turning to go, when the vicar stopped him.
ďWe must make some plans for the poor fellowís safety,Ē he said. ďHe must not be hurt. Iíll go up first, and try if I can prevail upon him not to go.Ē
ďAnd if he will not be prevailed upon, we must try and act as we can. I think and hope that they will not attempt to touch him while I am by his side.Ē Tom shook his head.
ďI wouldnít, sir, because I know you; but time back I would, if thereíd been twenty parsons round him. They wonít hurt you, sir, but theyíll beat him if he attempts to go.Ē
ďLetís hope not; letís hope not,Ē said the vicar; ďand now Iíll go up to the house, while youíll wait here.Ē
ďWait here?Ē said Tom.
ďYes; why not? I shall want to lay my hands upon you at a momentís notice. But stop. If he goes, it will be by the mail. Thatís at eight, and the station is two miles, say three-quarters of an hour for ample time. If he means to go, he will go afoot, so as not to excite attention.Ē
ďYes; and heíll go by the little door in the wall at the bottom of the garden, and off across the home close,Ē said Tom.
ďDo you know that?Ē said the vicar.
ďNo, sir; but thatís how he used to go to meet her; and as heís going to join her to-night, I thowt thatís the way heíd go.Ē
ďVery likely,Ē said the vicar; ďand theyíre sure to know it, and watch. But look here, Tom Podmore, are you willing to help him get away?Ē
ďTo join her?Ē
ďYes; I was thinking, that mebbe if he got away to join the poor bairn heíd marry her; for I sípose heís fond oí the poor lass. But he must be that. Sheíd makí onny man Ė the very worst Ė fond on her.Ē
ďDo you know any one you could get here to help you?Ē said the vicar. ďI mean a stout sturdy fellow with brains, who could be depended on to help you back me up if we have to make a struggle for it.Ē
ďJohn Maine, sir, at Bultitudeís.ĒŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ