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the hole. So sounds the beeskep when the days are wet, and its little people pack the cells more tightly with the sweat of heaven or the moisture of the stars, as the elder Pliny thought it.

There was something in this stifled indication of the people's inner lives that used to make Sir Andrew yearn to know them closer. He knew them at their work-none better; every man by name: he knew them in their outdoor recreations, but he felt that there was more to know, more vital things and paramount, within the poorer dwellings of his village, which he could not enter. How he wished it was a ship again, and he at liberty to take a lanthorn and go through the crowded depths, asking if all was well with comrades.

But that, on land, was a joy reserved for a Captain's women: Aunt Amelia stood his watch, more of the martinet than he had ever been on the Bellerophon, chiding the sloven, menacing the ne'er-do-well with threats of trouble at the factor's office. She undertook the duty in a missionary spirit; felt herself a daring soul, landing (backed by Norah Grant) on jeopardous sands in Raratonga. I would not say exactly that the people loved her,-how can you love a lady who asks what the dinner-pot contains, and has views of a maiden kind about the ease with which the size of a family may be restricted?

They would fly from the open stairheads when they saw her coming, to put fresh pawns

on the bed or hurriedly pile the unwashed breakfast dishes in the bunker. And Watty Fraser, being a lonely man without a woman-body, only with a fiddle, which is better company, had been compelled to train a gander. "Jock" they called it-a bachelor bird of great antiquity, hating the very sight of frocks. He lived upon the gutter, and he held the entrance to the wynd where Orpheus and the fiddle shared a garret. 'Twas a stirring thing to see the bird with his neck extended, and a baleful eye, padding with nightmare feet in chase of bairns whose naked legs were pimpled with their terror. His hiss expressed a very orgasm of fury that became more sinister at the sight of women, who never ventured down the wynd but fearfully, prepared to pull their skirts about their ankles.

"Well done, Jock!" would Orpheus cry, looking out at his garret window.

The blackness of the heathen isles lay, therefore, on the wynd where Watty dwelt, for Aunt Amelia daren't venture near it. She appealed to Captain Cutlass for an edict from the factor's office to proscribe all geese of either sex, and he only laughed at her. "What, Jook!" he cried, "my old friend, Jock! I couldn't look a goose in the face again if I deported Jock. The gander is a sacred bird the Romans used to carry a golden one in their processions."

"The Romans would do anything!" said Aunt Amelia.

"Look out! There's Jock!" oried Norah, warningly, that

;

Saturday afternoon: he stood at the head of his master's wynd, lifting his beak already at the sight of Aunt Amelia's splendid raiment, and they had to take the other side of the street as usual, leaving the fiddler's wynd in its hopeless heathendom.

The game of Lady Bountiful is one that must be played according to the rules, and Captain Cutlass made it difficult for his aunt. Her most devoted efforts for the welfare of the people were handicapped by influences of his. What is charity? what is mercy? what affection if it is not dealt with justice? Her nephew gave them oftener to the undeserving and impenitent than to the nice, clean, humble poor, whom he thought, with strange perversity, did very well out of his aunt, and had quite enough good fortune in their virtues. Oddly they liked him none the worse for it. "I would rather have a joke wi' the Captain than a pound o' tea and a good advice frae Miss Amelia," the wife of Paterson the poacher put it. Charity !-he loathed the word; the very sight of it in a dictionary made him furious. "It looked," he said, 'so devilish like а sneer. But coals and bread were often to be had by the very useless poor of Watty's Wynd at prices out of all relation to the market, and the coalman and the baker sent a monthly bill to Cattanach. Once a month, on the pay-days, every boy engaged in the harvest-fields got a brand new or polished shilling in addition to his

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wages;

the baronet had polished the coins himself in the workshop, where at intervals of a year or two he spent some weeks inventing a reefing gear. "There you are, my bully boys!" he cried, when the shillings lay in shining rows on the work-bench.

Polished shillings for truant boys who didn't deserve them, and a night at times with the rabbit-nets with Paterson the poacher; jobs restored to futile characters properly dismissed by Cattanach; fantastic occupations set agoing to keep some interesting vagabond about the place; hail fellow with the broken men, the failures,those things rather spoiled the village for a zealous missionary. Had Schawfield House, the stately mansion of the Schaws, been

nearer to the village instead of half a dozen miles away, the village doubtless had been different in its character, for mansions have a domineering influence on a country-side; but Fancy Farm was such a couthy, unpretentious place, and the ways of its folk so manifestly human, that the very gardeners sang and whistled on the lawn. In truth, the village took its tone from Captain Cutlass-easyosy, and we're a' John Tamson's bairns!

Even Aunt Amelia, though the slattern fled before her, failed to create the proper feudal atmosphere. "Sit down and draw your breath; and how are they all up-by wi' ye?" was a characteristic salutation in the very topmost "lands," where a husband was

known as "my yin." The feudal days were gone, and "Tilda Birrell, with Miss Amelia in her room, swithered to lay down her knitting till she reached the middle of the needle. Perhaps the affable Norah's presence helped a lot in the nonchalance of this reception: Norah was a universal favourite, and she liked Miss Birrell's tea, which always tasted like a masking from the Cranford urn, though made in a wondrous pot that her father had carried in his knapsack from the looting of Pekin.

"You're not married yet, Miss Norah!" said the law yer's housekeeper, as usual, twinkling with her brother's fun. "You must haste-ye and look about ye, and no' be left in the lurch like me!"

"Oh, there's many a splendid chance at fifty," was Miss Norah's joke - an old one among maids of hopeful spirit.

But never a word, you may be sure, about the poet: in Schawfield one might joke on anything except a rumour of engagements, far too serious a thing.

That day Amelia was unusually deaf, sure sign of a change of weather, and her eyes kept darting restlessly in search of hints. It was impossible for any human being to be so alert in following a conversation as she as she thought herself at that particular

moment.

"And how is Sir Andrew keeping?" "Tilda asked, plying the Pekin teapot.

"I asked that this morning," answered Norah, "and he said,

'I'm feeling so well that if I felt any better I should be heartily ashamed of myself.' He couldn't very well be more emphatic, could he?"

"He's well looked after," pointed out his aunt-the common boast of wives in the "lands" she had just been visiting. "He was saddling the mare to go to Mr Beswick's when we left."

"But Andy does not always ride when he saddles," said her niece. "And whether he gets to Schawfield House or not depends how long his conscience operates. You drove him to it, aunt; he admitted he had been remiss with Mr. Beswick, but you never can tell with Andy: who knows but he may meet a charming caravan of gipsies?"

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"And Miss Colquhoun ? I saw her gallop out this afternoon, said "Tilda genially, at which her elder guest gave a little start and cocked an

ear.

"To the moor as usual," said Norah. "Pen loves to haunt the moor: she's a great dreamer."

"Eh? What!" cried her aunt, astonished. ❝Schemer, did you say?”

"Dreamer, aunt, not schemer. I'm saying to Miss Birrell that Pen is a terrible dreamer."

"You always mumble, in the town," said Miss Amelia querulously. "I wondered what you meant," and she helped herself to another cookie. She looked relieved, but from that single word misapprehended rose a thought before unknown to her in spite of her great

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ROWTON HOUSE RHYMES.-II.

He had a cough

MY FRIEND MR SPUNGE.

As hollow as his hollow heart:

The wheeze was Nature, but the choke was Art.
He said: "I knew you for a toff,

First time I saw you.'

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Playing chess we were,

And I was Blackburne's master, Lasker's equal,
And Lord knows all what else for sequel.

He played me soft as any dulcimer;

His touch

Was much

Like Pachmann's, coaxing Chopin; no wild clutch,
No brutal pound-he gentled me.

He stirred among my various strings,

A zephyr in an aspen-tree,

That moves to song and at the same time sings.

And O! the lungy way he spat,

And O! the cheesy sob, a thing to wonder at!

He quoted Browning, too, the swine!

For he had sucked a curate (and the curate's father's wine); Read Mrs Humphrey Ward—

Yea, Toynbee Hall had shed

The chrism of Culchaw on his head;

Knew Wagner by the card—

Hummed now in sentimental mood

"O du mein holder Abendstern,"

And then, more spry,

Lanced loud the Walkyr's cry—

Letting you so discern

How much of soulful and of good

Lay prisoner behind the bars

Of his rickety cage,

Beating, in high-aspiring rage,

Weak wings that might not ever hope to reach the stars.

With a wan smile full of a whole world's pain,

He'd quote an In Memoriam quatrain,

Not half so brave as was his smile;

Then, in his seat would wilt and sag,

And sigh, and shiver, and shudder, and gulp,

And splutter into a bloody rag

A pint of pulmonary pulp

(His guile!),

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