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Mary to look as she ought to look. She hath been a good lass, and hath borne with me better than one in a thousand would have done. Mary, my love to you; and with leave all round, here's the very good health of Robin Lyth!'
'Here's the health of Robin Lyth!' shouted Mr. Popplewell, with his fat cheeks shining merrily; 'hurrah for the lad who saved Nelson's death from a Frenchman's grins, and saved our Jack boy! Stephen Anerley, I forgive you. This is the right stuff and no mistake. Deborah, come and kiss the farmer.'
Mrs. Popplewell obeyed her husband, as the manner of good wives is. And over and above this fleeting joy, solid satisfaction entered into noble hearts, which felt that now the fruit of laborious years, and the cash of many a tanning season, should never depart from the family. And to make an end of any weak misgivings, even before the ladies went to fill the pipes for the gentlemen-the tanner drew with equal care, and even better nerve, the second bottle's cork, and expressed himself as follows:
'Brother Steve hath done the right thing. We hardly expected it of him, by rights of his confounded stubbornness. But when a shutup man repenteth, he is equal to a hoyster-or this here bottle. What good would this a' been without it was sealed over? Now mark my words. I'll not be behind no man when it comes to the right side up. I may be a poor man, a very poor man; and people counting otherwise might find themselves mistaken. I likes to be liked for myself only. But the day our Mary goes to church with Robin Lyth she shall have 500l. tied upon her back, or else my name's not Popplewell.'
Mary had left the room long ago, after giving her father a gentle kiss, and whispering to Willie that he should have half of her twenty guineas for inventing things, which is a most expensive process, and should be more highly encouraged. Therefore, she could not express at the moment her gratitude to Squire Popplewell; but as soon as she heard of his generosity, it lifted a great weight off her mind, and enabled her to think about furnishing a cottage. But she never told even her mother of that. Perhaps Robin might have seen someone he liked better. Perhaps he might have heard that stupid story about her having taken up with poor Harry Tanfield; and that might have driven him to wed a foreign lady, and therefore to fight so desperately. None, however, of these perhapses went very deeply into her heart; which was equally trusting and trusty.
Now some of her confidence in the future was justified, that very moment almost, by a sudden and great arrival-not of Jack Anerley and Robin Lyth (who were known to be coming home together), but of a gentleman whose skill and activity deserved all thanks for every good thing that had happened.
'Well! I am in the very nick of time. It is my nature,' cried Mr. Mordacks, seated in the best chair by the fire. Why? you inquire, with your native penetration. Simply because in very early days I acquired the habit of punctuality.
This holding good where
an appointment is, holds good afterwards, from the force of habit, in matters that are of luck alone. The needle-eye of time gets accustomed to be hit, and turns itself up, without waiting for the clue. Wonderful Madeira! Well, Captain Anerley, no wonder that you have discouraged free-trade, with your cellars full of this! It is twenty years since I have tasted such wine. Mistress Anerley, I have the honour of quaffing this glass to your very best health, and that of a very charming young lady, who has hitherto failed to appreciate me.' Then, sir, I am here to beg your pardon,' said Mary, coming up with a beautiful blush. 'When I saw you first, I did not enter into
'My outspoken manner and short business style. But I hope that you have come to like me better. All good persons do when they come to know me.'
'Yes, sir, I was quite ashamed of myself when I came to learn all that you have done for somebody, and your wonderful kindness at Bridlington.'
'Famously said! You inherit from your mother the power and the charm of expression. And now, my dear lady, good Mistress Anerley, I shall undo all my great merits, by showing that I am like the letter-writers who never write until they have need of something. Captain Anerley, it concerns you also, as a military man, and loyal soldier of King George. A gallant young officer (highly distinguished in his own way, and very likely to get on in virtue of high connection) became of age, some few weeks back; and being the heir to large estates, determined to entail them. I speak as in a parable. My meaning is one which the ladies will gracefully enter into. Being a large heir, he is not selfish, but would fain share his blessings with a little one. In a word, he is to marry a very beautiful young lady, to-morrow, and under my agency. But he has a very delightful mother, and an aunt of a lofty and commanding mind, whose views, however, are comparatively narrow. For a hasty, brief season they will be wroth, and it would be unjust to be angry with them. But love's indignation is soon cured by absence; and tones down rapidly into desire to know how the sinner is getting on. In the present case a fortnight will do the business; or if for a month so much the better. Heroes are in demand just now; and this young gentleman took such a scare in his very first fight that he became a hero; and so has behaved himself ever since. Ladies, I am astonished at your goodness in not interrupting me! Your minds must be as practical as my own. Now this lovely young pair, being married to-morrow, will have to go hunting for the honey in the moon to which such enterprises lead.'
'Sir, you are very right,' Squire Popplewell replied; and That is Bible truth,' said the farmer.
'Our minds are enlarged by experience,' resumed the genial factor pleasantly, and bowing to the ladies, who declined to say a word until a better opportunity; and we like to see the process going on with others. But a nest must be found for these young doves-a quiet
one, a simple one, a place where they may learn to put up with one another's cookery. The secret of happiness in this world is not to be too particular. I have hit upon the very place to make them thankful by and by, when they come to look back upon it—a sweet little hole half a league away from anybody. All is arranged-a frying pan, a brown-ware teapot, a skin of lard, a cock and a hen to lay some eggs; a hundredweight of ship biscuits, warranted free from weevil; and a knife and fork. Also a way to the sea, and a net, for them to fish together. Nothing more delightful can be imagined. Under such circumstances they will settle in three days which is to be the master; which I take to be the most important of all marriage settlements. And, unless I am very much mistaken, it will be the right one-the lady. My little heroine, Jerry Carroway, is engaged as their factotum, and every auspice is favourable. But without your consent all is knocked on the head, for the cottage is yours, and the tenant won't go out, even under temptation of five guineas, without your written order. Mistress Anerley, I appeal to you. Captain, say nothing. This is a lady's question.'
'Then I like to have a little voice sometimes; though it is not often that I get it. And, Mr. Mordacks, I say "Yes." And, out of the five guineas we shall get our rent, or some of it perhaps, from Poacher Tim, who owes us nigh upon two years now.'
The farmer smiled at his wife's good thrift, and being in a pleasant mood, consented; if so be the law could not be brought against him; and if the young couple would not stop too long, or have any family to fall upon the rates. The factor assured him against all evils; and then created quite a brisk sensation, by telling them in strict confidence that the young officer was one Lancelot Yordas, own first cousin to the famous Robin Lyth, and nephew to Sir Duncan Yordas. And the lady was the daughter of Sir Duncan's oldest friend, the very one whose name he had given to his son. Wonder never ceased among them, when they thought how things came round.
Things came round, not only thus, but also even better afterwards. Mordacks had a very beautiful revenge of laughter at old Jellicorse, by outstripping him vastly in the family affairs. But Mr. Jellicorse did not care so long as he still had eleven boxes left of title-deeds to Scargate Hall, no liability about the twelfth, and a very fair prospect of a lawsuit yet, for the multiplication of the legal race. And meeting Mr. Mordacks in the highest legal circles at Proctor Brigant's, in Crypt Court, York, he acknowledged that he never met a more delightful gentleman-until he found out what his name was. And even then he offered him a pinch of snuff; and they shook hands very warmly, without anything to pay.
When Robin Lyth came home, he was dissatisfied at first-so difficult is mankind to please-because his good luck had been too good. No scratch of steel, no permanent scorch of powder was upon him; and England was not in the mood to value any unwounded valour. But even here his good luck stood him in strong stead, and
cured his wrong. For when the body of the lamented hero arrived at Spithead, in spirits of wine, early in December, it was found that the Admiralty had failed to send down any orders about it. Reports, however, were current of some intention that the hero should lie in state; and the battered ship went on with him. And when at last proper care was shown and the relics of one of the noblest men that ever lived upon the tide of time were being transferred to a yacht at the Nore, Robin Lyth, in a sad and angry mood, neglected to give a wide berth to a gun that was helping to keep up the mourning salute, and a piece of wad carried off his starboard whisker.
This at once replaced him in the popular esteem, and enabled him to land upon the Yorkshire coast, with a certainty of glorious welcome. Mr. Mordacks himself came down to meet him at the Northern Landing with Dr. Upround, and Robin Cockscroft, and nearly all the men, and entirely all the women and children of Little Denmark. Strangers also from outlandish parts, Squire Popplewell and his wife Deborah, Mrs. Carroway (with her Tom, and Jerry, and Cissy, and lesser Carroways-for her old Aunt Jane was gone to Paradise at last, and had left her enough to keep a pony-carriage); and a great many others; and especially a group of four distinguished persons, who stood at the top of the slide, because of the trouble of getting back if they went down.
These had a fair and double-horsed carriage in the lane, at the spot where fish face their last tribunal; and scarcely any brains, but those of Flamborough, could have absorbed such a spectacle as this together with the deeper expectations from the sea. Of these four persons, two were young enough, and two not so young as they had been; but still very lively, and well pleased with one another. These were Mrs. Carnaby, and Mr. Bart; the pet of the one had united his lot with the darling of the other, for good or for bad there was no getting out of it; and the only thing was to make the best of it. And being good people, they were doing this successfully. Poor Mrs. Carnaby had said to Mr. Bart as soon as Mr. Mordacks let her know about the wedding, 'Oh, but Mr. Bart, you are a gentleman; now, are you not? I am sure you are, though you do such things! I am sure of it, by your countenance.'
'Madam,' Mr. Bart replied, with a bow that was decisive, 'if I am not, it is my own fault; as it is the fault of every man.'
At this present moment they were standing with their children, Lancelot and Insie, who had nicely recovered from matrimony, and began to be too high-spirited. They all knew, by virtue of Mr. Mordacks, who Robin Lyth was; and they wanted to see him, and be kind to him, if he made no claim upon them. And Mr. Bart desired, as his father's friend, to shake hands with him, and help him, if help were needed.
But Robin, with a grace and elegance which he must have imported from foreign parts, declined all connection and acquaintance with them, and declared his set resolve to have nothing to do with
the name of Yordas.' They were grieved, as they honestly declared, to hear it; but could not help owning that his pride was just, and they felt that their name was the richer for not having any poor people to share it.
Yet Captain Lyth-as he now was called, even by revenue officers -in no way impoverished his name by taking another to share it with him. The farmer declared that there should be no wedding until he had sold seven stacks of wheat; for his meaning was to do things well. But this obstacle did not last long; for those were times when corn was golden, not in landscape only.
So when the spring was fair with promise of green for the earth, and of blue for heaven, and of silver grey upon the sea, the little church close to Anerley Farm filled up all the complement of colours. There was scarlet of Dr. Upround's hood (brought by the Precious boy from Flamborough), a rich plum colour in the coat of Mordacks, delicate rose and virgin white in the blush and the brow of Mary, every tint of the rainbow on her mother's part; and gold, rich gold, in a great tanned bag, on behalf of Squire Popplewell. His idea of a 'settlement' was cash down, and he put it on the parish register.
Mary found no cause to repent of the long endurance of her truth and the steadfast power of quiet love. Robin was often in the distance still, far beyond the silvery streak of England's new salvation. But Mary prayed for his safe return; and safe he was, by the will of the Lord which helps the man who helps himself, and has made his hand bigger than his tongue. When the war was over, Captain Lyth 'came home, and trained his children in the ways in which he should have walked, and the duties they should do, and pay.