Department of History
University of California, Irvine
 Instructor:    Dr. Barbara J. Becker

Week 8.  Anticipating Consequences

excerpts from
Shirley (1848)
by Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)

Chapter II.
The Wagons

After sitting for some time gazing at the fire with a preoccupied air, he suddenly turned his head.

'Hark!' said [Robert Moore].  'Did you hear wheels?'

Rising, he went to the window, opened it, and listened.  He soon closed it.  'It is only the sound of the wind rising', he remarked, 'and the rivulet a little swollen, rushing down the hollow.  I expected those wagons at six; it is near nine now.'

'Seriously, do you suppose that the putting up of this new machinery will bring you into danger?' inquired [the curate] Malone.  'Helstone seems to think it will.'

'I only wish the machines--the frames--were safe here, and lodged within the walls of this mill.  Once put up, I defy the frame-breakers.  Let them only pay me a visit and take the consequences.  My mill is my castle.'

'One despises such low scoundrels,' observed Malone, in a profound vein of reflection.  'I almost wish a party would call upon you to-night; but the road seemed extremely quiet as I came along.  I saw nothing astir.'

'You came by the Redhouse?'


'There would be nothing on that road.  It is in the direction of Stilbro' the risk lies.'

'And you think there is risk?'

'What these fellows have done to others they may do to me.  There is only this difference:  most of the manufacturers seem paralysed when they are attacked.  Sykes, for instance, when his dressing-shop was set on fire and burned to the ground, when the cloth was torn from his tenters and left in shreds in the field, took no steps to discover or punish the miscreants:  he gave up as tamely as a rabbit under the jaws of a ferret.  Now I, if I know myself, should stand by my trade, my mill, and my machinery.'

'Helstone says these three are your gods; that the "Orders in Council" are with you another name for the seven deadly sins; that Castlereagh is your Antichrist, and the war-party his legions.'

'Yes; I abhor all these things because they ruin me.  They stand in my way.  I cannot get on.  I cannot execute my plans because of them.  I see myself baffled at every turn by their untoward effects.'

'But you are rich and thriving, Moore?'

'I am very rich in cloth I cannot sell.  You should step into my warehouse yonder, and observe how it is piled to the roof with pieces.  Roakes and Pearson are in the same condition.  America used to be their market, but the Orders in Council have cut that off.'....

[Moore] is what you would probably call, at first view, rather a strange-looking man; for he is thin, dark, sallow, very foreign of aspect, with shadowy hair carelessly streaking his forehead.  It appears that he spends but little time at his toilet, or he would arrange it with more taste.  He seems unconscious that his features are fine, that they have a southern symmetry, clearness, regularity in their chiselling; nor does a spectator become aware of this advantage till he has examined him well, for an anxious countenance, and a hollow, somewhat haggard, outline of lace disturb the idea of beauty with one of care.  His eyes are large, and grave, and gray; their expression is intent and meditative, rather searching than soft, rather thoughtful than genial.  when he parts his lips in a smile, his physiognomy is agreeable--not that it is frank or cheerful even then, but you feel the influence of a certain sedate charms, suggestive, whether truly or delusively, of a considerate, perhaps a kind nature, of feelings that may wear well at home--patient, forbearing, possibly faithful feelings.  He is still young--not more than thirty; his stature is tall, his figure slender.  His manner of speaking displeases.  He has an outlandish accent, which, notwithstanding a studied carelessness of pronunciation and diction, grates on a British, and especially on a Yorkshire, ear.

Mr. Moore, indeed, was but half a Briton, and scarcely that.  He came of a foreign ancestry by the mother's side, and was himself born and partly reared on a foreign soil.  A hybrid in nature, it is probable he had a hybrid's feeling on many points--patriotism for one; it is likely that he was unapt to attach himself to parties, to sects, even to climes and customs; it is not impossible that he had a tendency to isolate his individual person from any community amidst which his lot might temporarily happen to be thrown, and that he felt it to be his best wisdom to push the interests of Robert Gérard Moore, to the exclusion of philanthropic consideration for general interests, with which he regarded the said Gérard Moore as in a great measure disconnected.  Trade was Mr. Moore's hereditary calling:  the Gérards of Antwerp had been merchants for two centuries back.  Once they had been wealthy merchants; but the uncertainties, the involvements, of business had come upon them; disastrous speculations had loosened by degrees the foundations of their credit.  The house had stood on a tottering base for a dozen years; and at last, in the shock of the French Revolution, it had rushed down a total ruin.  In its fall was involved the English and Yorkshire firm of Moore, closely connected with the Antwerp house, and of which one of the partners, resident in Antwerp, Robert Moore, had married Hortense Gérard, with the prospect of his bride inheriting her father Constantine Gérard's share in the business.  She inherited, as we have seen, but his share in the liabilities of the film; and these liabilities, though duly set aside by a composition with creditors, some said her son Robert accepted, in his turn, as a legacy, and that he aspired one day to discharge them, and to rebuild the fallen house of Gérard and Moore on a scale at least equal to its former greatness.  It was even supposed that he took bypast circumstances much to heart; and if a childhood passed at the side of a saturnine mother, under foreboding of coming evil, and a manhood drenched and blighted by the pitiless descent of the storm, could painfully impress the mind, his probably was impressed in no golden characters.

If, however, he had a great end of restoration in view it was not in his power to employ great means for its attainment He was obliged to be content with the day of small things.  When he came to Yorkshire he--whose ancestors had owned warehouses in this seaport and factories in that inland town, had possessed their town-house and their country-seat--saw no way open to him but to rent a cloth-mill, in an out-of-the-way nook of an out-of-the-way district; to take a cottage adjoining it for his residence, and to add to his possessions, as pasture for his horse, and space for his cloth-tenters, a few acres of the steep, rugged land that lined the hollow through which his mill-stream brawled.  All this he held at a somewhat high rent (for these war times were hard and everything was dear) of the trustees of the Fieldhead estate, then the property of a minor.

At the time this history commences, Robert Moore had lived but two years in the district; during which period he had at least proved himself possessed of the quality of activity.  The dingy cottage was converted into a neat, tasteful residence.  Of part of the rough land he had made garden-ground, which he cultivated with singular, even with Flemish, exactness and care.  As to the mill, which was an old structure, and fitted up with old machinery, now become inefficient and out of date, he had from the first evinced the strongest contempt for all its arrangements and appointments:  his aim had been to effect a radical reform, which he had executed as fast as his very limited capital would allow; and the narrowness of that capital, and consequent check on his progress, was a restraint which galled his spirit sorely.  Moore ever wanted to push on:  'Forward 'was the device stamped upon his soul; but poverty curbed him:  sometimes (figuratively) he foamed at the mouth when the reins were drawn very tight.

In this state of feeling, it is not to be expected that he would deliberate much as to whether his advance was or was not prejudicial to others.  Not being a native, nor for any length of time a resident of the neighbourhood, he did not sufficiently care when the new inventions threw the old workpeople out of employ:  he never asked himself where those to whom he no longer paid weekly wages found daily bread; and in this negligence he only resembled thousands besides, on whom the starving poor of Yorkshire seemed to have a closer claim.

The period of which I write was an overshadowed one in British history, and especially in the history of the northern provinces.  War was then at its height.  Europe was all involved therein.  England, if not weary, was worn with long resistance:  yes, and half her people were weary too, and cried out for peace on any terms.  National honour was become a mere empty name, of no value in the eyes of many, because their sight was dim with famine; and for a morsel of meat they would have sold their birthright.

The 'Orders in Council,' provoked by Napoleon's Milan and Berlin decrees, and forbidding neutral powers to trade with France, had, by offending America, cut off the principal market of the Yorkshire woollen trade, and brought it consequently to the verge of ruin.  Minor foreign markets were glutted, and would receive no more:  the Brazils, Portugal, Sicily, were all overstocked by nearly two years' consumption.  At this crisis certain inventions in machinery were introduced into the staple manufactures of the north, which, greatly reducing the number of hands necessary to be employed, threw thousands out of work, and left them without legitimate means of sustaining life.  A bad harvest supervened.  Distress reached its climax.  Endurance, overgoaded, stretched the hand of fraternity to sedition.  The throes of a sort of moral earthquake were felt heaving under the hills of the northern counties.  But, as is usual in such cases, nobody took much notice.  When a food riot broke out in a manufacturing town, when a gig-mill was burnt to the ground, or a manufacturer's house was attacked, the furniture thrown into the streets, and the family forced to flee for their lives, some local measures were or were not taken by the local magistracy; a ringleader was detected, or more frequently suffered to elude detection; newspaper paragraphs were written on the subject, and there the thing stopped.  As to the sufferers, whose sole inheritance was labour, and who had lost that inheritance--who could not get work, and consequently could not get wages, and consequently could not get bread--they were left to suffer on; perhaps inevitably left:  it would not do to stop the progress of invention, to damage science by discouraging its improvements; the war could not be terminated, efficient relief could not be raised:  there was no help then; so the unemployed underwent their destiny--ate the bread and drank the waters of affliction.

Misery generates hate:  these sufferers hated the machines which they believed took their bread from them:  they hated the buildings which contained those machines; they hated the manufacturers who owned those buildings.  In the parish of Briarfield, with which we have at present to do, Hollow's Mill was the place held most abominable; Gérard Moore, in his double character of semi-foreigner and thoroughgoing progressist, the man most abominated.  And it perhaps rather agreed with Moore's temperament than otherwise to be generally hated especially when he believed the thing for which he was hated a right and an expedient thing; and it was with a sense of warlike excitement he, on this night, sat in his counting-house waiting the arrival of his frame-laden waggons.  Malone's coming and company were, it may be, most unwelcome to him:  he would have preferred sitting alone; for he liked a silent, sombre, unsafe solitude:  his watchman's musket would have been company enough for him; the full-flowing beck in the den would have delivered continuously the discourse most genial to his ear.

With the queerest look in the world had the manufacturer for some ten minutes been watching the Irish curate, as the latter made free with the punch, when suddenly that steady gray eye changed, as if another vision came between it and Malone.  Moore raised his hand.

'Chut!' he said in his French fashion, as Malone made a noise with his glass.  He listened a moment, then rose, put his hat on, and went out at the counting- house door.

The night was still, dark, and stagnant:  the water yet rushed on full and fast; its flow almost seemed a flood in the utter silence.  Moore's ear, however, caught another sound very distant but yet dissimilar, broken and rugged--in short, a sound of heavy wheels crunching a stony road.  He returned to the counting-house and lit a lantern, with which he walked down the mill-yard, and proceeded to open the gates.  The big wagons were coming on; the dray-horses' huge hoofs were heard splashing in the mud and water.  Moore hailed them.

'Hey, Joe Scott!  Is all right?'

Probably Joe Scott was yet at too great a distance to hear the inquiry.  He did not answer it.

'Is all right, I say?' again asked Moore, when the elephant-like leader's nose almost touched his.

Some one jumped out from the foremost wagon into the road; a voice cried aloud, 'Ay, ay, divil; all's raight!  We've smashed 'em.'

And there was a run.  The wagons stood still; they were now deserted.

'Joe Scott!'  No Joe Scott answered.  'Murgatroyd!  Pighills!  Sykes!'  No reply.  Mr. Moore lifted his lantern and looked into the vehicles.  There was neither man nor machinery; they were empty and abandoned.

Now Mr. Moore loved his machinery.  He had risked the last of his capital on the purchase of these frames and shears which to-night had been expected.  Speculations most important to his interests depended on the results to be wrought by them:  where were they?

The words 'we've smashed 'em' rang in his ears.  How did the catastrophe affect him?  By the light of the lantern he held were his features visible, relaxing to a singular smile--the smile the man of determined spirit wears when he reaches a juncture in his life where this determined spirit is to feel a demand on its strength, when the strain is to be made, and the faculty must bear or break.  Yet he remained silent, and even motionless; for at the instant he neither knew what to say nor what to do.  He placed the lantern on the ground, and stood with his arms folded, gazing down and reflecting.

An impatient trampling of one of the horses made him presently look up.  His eye in the moment caught the gleam of something white attached to a part of the harness.  Examined by the light of the lantern this proved to be a folded paper--a billet.  It bore no address without; within was the superscription:--

'To the Divil of Hollow's-miln.'

We will not copy the rest of the orthography, which was very peculiar, but translate it into legible English.  It ran thus:

'Your hellish machinery is shivered to smash on Stilbro' Moor, and your men are lying bound hand and foot in a ditch by the roadside.  Take this as a warning from men that are starving, and have starving wives and children to go home to when they have done this deed.  If you get new machines, or if you otherwise go on as you have done, you shall hear from us again.  Beware!'

'Hear from you again?  Yes, I'll hear from you again, and you shall hear from me.  I'll speak to you directly.  On Stilbro' Moor you shall hear from me in a moment.'

Having led the wagons within the gates, he hastened towards the cottage.  Opening the door, he spoke a few words quickly but quietly to two females who ran to meet him in the passage.  He calmed the seeming alarm of one by a brief palliative account of what had taken place; to the other he said, 'Go into the mill, Sarah--there is the key--and ring the mill-bell as loud as you can.  Afterwards you will get another lantern and help me to light up the front.'

Returning to his horses, he unharnessed, fed, and stabled them with equal speed and care, pausing occasionally, while so occupied, as if to listen for the mill-bell.  It clanged out presently, with irregular but loud and alarming din.  The hurried, agitated peal seemed more urgent than if the summons had been steadily given by a practised hand.  On that still night, at that unusual hour, it was heard a long way round.  The guests in the kitchen of the Redhouse were startled by the clamour, and declaring that 'there must be summat more nor common to do at Hollow's-miln,' they called for lanterns, and hurried to the spot in a body.  And scarcely had they thronged into the yard with their gleaming lights, when the tramp of horses was heard, and a little man in a shovel hat, sitting erect on the back of a shaggy pony, 'rode lightly in,' followed by an aide-de-camp mounted on a larger steed.

Mr. Moore, meantime, after stabling his dray-horses, had saddled his hackney, and with the aid of Sarah, the servant, lit up his mill, whose wide and long front now glared one great illumination, throwing a sufficient light on the yard to obviate all fear of confusion arising from obscurity.  Already a deep hum of voices became audible.  Mr. Malone had at length issued from the counting-house, previously taking the precaution to dip his head and face in the stone water- jar; and this precaution, together with the sudden alarm, had nearly restored to him the possession of those senses which the punch had partially scattered.  He stood with his hat on the back of his head, and his shillelah grasped in his dexter fist answering much at random the questions of the newly-arrived party from the Redhouse.  Mr. Moore now appeared, and was immediately confronted by the shovel hat and the shaggy pony.

'Well, Moore, what is your business with us?'  I thought you would want us to-night--me and the hetman here (patting his pony's neck), and Tom and his charger.  When I heard your mill-bell I could sit still no longer, so I left Boultby to finish his supper alone.  But where is the enemy?  I do not see a mask or a smutted face present; and there is not a pane of glass broken in your windows.  Have you had an attack, or do you expect one?'

'Oh, not at all!  I have neither had one nor expect one,' answered Moore coolly.  'I only ordered the bell to be rung because I want two or three neighbours to stay here in the Hollow while I and a couple or so more go over to Stilbro' Moor.'

'To Stilbro' Moor!  What to do?  To meet the wagons?'

'The wagons are come home an hour ago.'

'Then all's right.  What more would you have?'

'They came home empty; and Joe Scott and company are left on the moor, and so are the frames.  Read that scrawl.'

Mr. Helstone received and perused the document of which the contents have before, been given.

'Hum!  They've only served you as they serve others.  But, however, the poor fellows in the ditch will be expecting help with some impatience.  This is a wet night for such a berth.  I and Tom will go with you.  Malone may stay behind and take care of the mill:  what is the matter with him?  His eyes seem starting out of his head.'

'He has been eating a mutton chop.'

'Indeed!--Peter Augustus, be on your guard.  Eat no more mutton chops to-night.  You are left here in command of these premises--an honourable post!'

'Is anybody to stay with me?'

'As many of the present assemblage as choose.  My lads, how many of you will remain here, and how many will go a little way with me and Mr. Moore on the Stilbro' road, to meet some men who have been waylaid and assaulted by frame-breakers?'

The small number of three volunteered to go; the rest preferred staying behind.  As Mr. Moore mounted his horse the rector asked him in a low voice whether he had locked up the mutton chops, so that Peter Augustus could not get at them?  The manufacturer nodded an affirmative, and the rescue-party set out.



Chapter V.
Hollow's Cottage

It was now the middle of the month of February; by six o'clock therefore dawn was just beginning to steal on night, to penetrate with a pale ray its brown obscurity, and give a demi-translucence to its opaque shadows.  Pale enough that ray was on this particular morning:  no colour tinged the east, no flush warmed it.  To see what a heavy lid day slowly lifted, what a wan glance she flung along the hills, you would have thought the sun's fire quenched in last night's floods.  The breath of this morning was chill as its aspect; a raw wind stirred the mass of night-cloud, and showed, as it slowly rose, leaving a colourless, silver-gleaming ring all round the horizon, not blue sky, but a stratum of paler vapour beyond.  It had ceased to rain, but the earth was sodden, and the pools and rivulets were full.

The mill-windows were alight, the bell still rung loud, and now the little children came running in, in too great a hurry, let us hope, to feel very much nipped by the inclement air; and, indeed, by contrast, perhaps the morning appeared rather favourable to them than otherwise; for they had often come to their work that winter through snow-storms, through heavy rain, through hard frost.

Mr. Moore stood at the entrance to watch them pass:  he counted them as they went by; to those who came rather late he said a word of reprimand, which was a little more sharply repeated by Joe Scott when the lingerers reached the work rooms.  Neither master nor overlooker spoke savagely; they were not savage men either of them, though it appeared both were rigid, for they fined a delinquent who came considerably too late:  Mr. Moore made him pay his penny down ere he entered, and informed him that the next repetition of the fault would cost him twopence.  Rules, no doubt, are necessary in such cases, and coarse and cruel masters will make coarse and cruel rules, which, at the time we treat of at least, they used sometimes to enforce tyrannically; but, though I describe imperfect characters (every character in this book will be found to be more or less imperfect, my pen refusing to draw anything in the model line) I have not undertaken to handle degraded or utterly infamous ones.  Child-torturers, slave masters and drivers, I consign to the hands of jailers; the novelist may be excused from sullying his page with the record of their deeds.

Instead, then, of harrowing up my reader's soul, and delighting his organ of Wonder, with effective descriptions of stripes and scourgings, I am happy to be able to inform him that neither Mr. Moore nor his overlooker ever struck a child in their mill.  Joe had, indeed, once very severely flogged a son of his own for telling a lie and persisting in it; but, like his employer, he was too phlegmatic, too calm, as well as too reasonable a man, to make corporal chastisement other than the exception to his treatment of the young.

Mr. Moore haunted his mill, his mill-yard, his dye-house, and his warehouse, till the sickly dawn strengthened into day.  The sun even rose,--at least a white disk, clear, tintless, and almost chill-looking as ice; peeped over the darkness of a hill changed to silver the livid edge of the cloud above it, and looked solemnly down the whole length of the den, or narrow dale, to whose strait bounds we are at present limited.  It was eight o'clock; the mill lights were all extinguished; the signal was given for breakfast; the children, released for half an hour from toil, betook themselves to the little tin cans which held their coffee, and to the small buckets which contained their allowance of bread.  Let us hope they have enough to eat; it would be a pity were it otherwise.



Chapter VII.
The Curates at Tea

'Shall I tell my uncle you are here?' asked [Caroline Helstone], still in the same subdued voice.

'No; I can say to you all I had to say to him.  You will be my messenger?'

'Yes, Robert.'

'Then you may just inform him that I have got a clue to the identity of one, at least, of the men who broke my frames; that he belongs to the same gang who attacked Sykes and Pearson's dressing-shop, and that I hope to have him in custody to-morrow.  You can remember that?'

'Oh yes!'  These two monosyllables were uttered in a sadder tone than ever; and as she said them she shook her head slightly and sighed.  'Will you prosecute him?'


'No, Robert.'

'And why no, Caroline?'

'Because it will set all the neighbourhood against you more than ever.'

'That is no reason why I should not do my duty, and defend my property.  This fellow is a great scoundrel, and ought to be incapacitated from perpetrating further mischief'

'But his accomplices will take revenge on you.  You do not know how the people of this country bear malice.  It is the boast of some of them that they can keep a stone in their pocket seven years, turn it at the end of that time, keep it seven years longer, and hurl it and hit their mark "at last."'

Moore laughed.

'A most pithy vaunt,' said he--'one that redounds vastly to the credit of your dear Yorkshire friends.  But don't fear for me, Lina.  I am on my guard against these lamb-like compatriots of yours.  Don't make yourself uneasy about me.'

'How can I help it?  You are my cousin.  If anything happened--'  She stopped.

'Nothing will happen, Lina.  To speak in your own language, there is a Providence above all--is there not?'

'Yes, dear Robert.  May He guard you!'....



Chapter VIII.
Noah and Moses

The next day Moore had risen before the sun, and had taken a ride to Whinbury and back ere his sister had made the café au lait or cut the tartines for his breakfast What business he transacted there he kept to himself.  Hortense asked no questions:  it was not her wont to comment on his movements, nor his to render an account of them.  The secrets of business--complicated and often dismal mysteries--were buried in his breast and never came out of their sepulchre save now and then to scare Joe Scott, or give a start to some foreign correspondent.  Indeed, a general habit of reserve on whatever was important seemed bred in his mercantile blood.

Breakfast over, he went to his counting-house.  Henry, Joe Scott's boy, brought in the letters and the daily papers; Moore seated himself at his desk, broke the seals of the documents, and glanced them over.  They were all short, but not it seemed, sweet--probably rather sour, on the contrary, for as Moore laid down the last, his nostrils emitted a derisive and defiant snuff, and though he burst into no soliloquy, there was a glance in his eye which seemed to invoke the devil, and lay charges on him to sweep the whole concern to Gehenna.  However, having chosen a pen and stripped away the feathered top in a brief spasm of finger-fury (only finger-fury--his face was placid), he dashed off a batch of answers, sealed them, and then went out and walked through the mill.  On coming back he sat down to read his newspaper.

The contents seemed not absorbingly interesting; he more than once laid it across his knee, folded his arms and gazed into the fire; he occasionally turned his head towards the window; he looked at intervals at his watch; in short, his mind appeared preoccupied.  Perhaps he was thinking of the beauty of the weather--for it was a fine and mild morning for the season--and wishing to be out in the fields enjoying it.  The door of his counting-house stood wide open.  The breeze and sunshine entered freely; but the first visitant brought no spring perfume on its wings, only an occasional sulphur-puff from the soot-thick column of smoke rushing sable from the gaunt mill-chimney.

A dark-blue apparition (that of Joe Scott, fresh from a dyeing vat) appeared momentarily at the open door, uttered the words 'He's comed, sir,' and vanished.

Mr. Moore raised not his eyes from the paper.  A large man, broad-shouldered and massive-limbed, clad in fustian garments and gray worsted stockings, entered, who was received with a nod, and desired to take a seat, which he did, making the remark, as he removed his hat (a very bad one), stowed it away under his chair, and wiped his forehead with a spotted cotton handkerchief extracted from the hat-crown, that it was 'raight dahn warm for Febewerry.' Mr. Moore assented--at least he uttered some slight sound, which, though inarticulate, might pass for an assent.  The visitor now carefully deposited in the corner beside him an official-looking staff which he bore in his hand; this done, he whistled, probably by way of appearing at his ease.

'You have what is necessary, I suppose?' said Mr. Moore.

'Ay, ay! all's right.'

He renewed his whistling, Mr. Moore his reading.  The paper apparently had become more interesting.  Presently, however, he turned to his cupboard, which was within reach of his long arm, opened it without rising, took out a black bottle--the same he had produced for Malone's benefit--a tumbler, and a jug, placed them on the table, and said to his guest,--

'Help yourself; there's water in that jar in the corner.'

'I dunnut knaw that there's mich need, for all a body is dry' (thirsty) 'in a morning,' said the fustian gentleman, rising and doing as requested.

'Will you tak naught yourseln, Mr. Moore?' he inquired, as with skilled hand he mixed a portion, and having tested it by a deep draught, sank back satisfied and bland in his seat.  Moore, chary of words, replied by a negative movement and murmur.

'Yah'd as good,' continued his visitor; 'it 'uld set ye up wald a sup o' this stuff.  Uncommon good Hollands.  Ye get it fro' furrin parts, I'se think?'


'Tak my advice and try a glass on't.  Them lads 'at's coming'll keep ye talking, nob'dy knows how long.  Ye'll need propping.'

'Have you seen Mr. Sykes this morning?' inquired Moore.

'I seed him a hauf an hour--nay, happen a quarter of an hour sin', just afore I set off.  He said he aimed to come here, and I sudn't wonder but ye'll have old Helstone too.  I seed 'em saddling his little nag as I passed at back o' t' rectory.'

The speaker was a true prophet, for the trot of a little nag's hoofs was, five minutes after, heard in the yard; it stopped, and a well-known nasal voice cried aloud, 'Boy' (probably addressing Harry Scott, who usually hung about the premises from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), 'take my horse and lead him into the stable.'

Helstone came in marching nimbly and erect, looking browner, keener, and livelier than usual.

'Beautiful morning, Moore.  How do, my boy?  Ha! whom have we here?' (turning to the personage with the staff).  'Sugden!  What!  You're going to work directly?  On my word, you lose no time.  But I come to ask explanations.  Your message was delivered to me.  Are you sure you are on the right scent?  How do you mean to set about the business?  Have you got a warrant?'

'Sugden has.'

'Then you are going to seek him now?  I'll accompany you.'

'You will be spared that trouble, sir; he is coming to seek me.  I'm just now sitting instate waiting his arrival.'

'And who is it?  One of my parishioners?'

Joe Scott had entered unobserved.  He now stood, a most sinister phantom, half his person being dyed of the deepest tint of indigo, leaning on the desk.  His master's answer to the rector's question was a smile.  Joe took the word.  Putting on a quiet but pawky look, he said,--

'It's a friend of yours, Mr. Helstone, a gentleman you often speak of.'

'Indeed!  His name, Joe?  You look well this morning.'

'Only the Revd.  Moses Barraclough; t' tub orator you call him sometimes, I think.'

'Ah!' said the rector, taking out his snuff-box, and administering to himself a very long pinch--'Ah!  couldn't have supposed it.  Why, the pious man never was a workman of yours, Moore.  He's a tailor by trade.'

'And so much the worse grudge I owe him, for interfering and setting my discarded men against me.'

'And Moses was actually present at the battle of Stilbro' Moor?  He went there, wooden leg and all?'

'Ay, sir,' said Joe, 'he went there on horseback, that his leg mightn't be noticed.  He was the captain, and wore a mask.  The rest only had their faces blacked.'

'And how was he found out?'

'I'll tell you, sir,' said Joe 't' maister's not so fond of talking.  I've no objections.  He courted Sarah, Mr. Moore's sarvant lass, and so it seems she would have nothing to say to him; she either didn't like his wooden leg or she'd some notion about his being a hypocrite.  Happen (for women is queer hands; we may say that amang werseln when there's none of 'em nigh) she'd have encouraged him, in spite of his leg and his deceit, just to pass time like.  I've known some on 'em do as mich, and some o' t' bonniest and mimmest-looking, too--ay, I've seen clean, trim young things, that looked as denty and pure as daisies, and wi' time a body fun' 'em out to be nowt but stinging, venomed nettles.'

'Joe's a sensible fellow,' interjected Helstone.

'Howsiver, Sarah had another string to her bow.  Fred Murgatroyd, one of our lads, is for her, and as women judge men by their faces--and Fred has a middling face, while Moses is none so handsome, as we all knaw--the lass took on wi' Fred.  A two-three months sin', Murgatroyd and Moses chanced to meet one Sunday night; they'd both come lurking about these premises wi' the notion of counselling Sarah to tak a bit of a walk wi' them.  They fell out, had a tussle, and Fred was worsted, for he's young and small, and Barraclough for all he has only one leg, is almost as strong as Sugden there--indeed, anybody that hears him roaring at a revival or a love-feast may be sure he's no weakling.'

'Joe, you're insupportable,' here broke in Mr. Moore.  'You spin out your explanation as Moses spins out his sermons.  The long and short of it is, Murgatroyd was jealous of Barraclough; and last night, as he and a friend took shelter in a barn from a shower, they heard and saw Moses conferring with some associates within.  From their discourse it was plain he had been the leader not only at Stilbro' Moor, but in the attack on Sykes's property.  Moreover they planned a deputation to wait on me this morning, which the tailor is to head, and which, in the most religious and peaceful spirit, is to entreat me to put the accursed thing out of my tent.  I rode over to Whinbury this morning, got a constable and a warrant, and I am now waiting to give my friend the reception he deserves.  Here, meantime, comes Sykes.  Mr. Helstone, you must spirit him up.  He feels timid at the thoughts of prosecuting.'

A gig was heard to roll into the yard.  Mr. Sykes entered--a tall stout man of about fifty, comely of feature, but feeble of physiognomy.  He looked anxious.

'Have they been?  Are they gone?  Have you got him?  Is it over?' he asked.

'Not yet,' returned Moore with phlegm.  'We are waiting for them.'

'They'll not come; it's near noon.  Better give it up.  It will excite bad feeling--make a stir--cause perhaps fatal consequences.'

'You need not appear,' said Moore.  'I shall meet them in the yard when they come; you can stay here.'

'But my name must be seen in the law proceedings.  A wife and family, Mr. Moore--a wife and family make a man cautious.'

Moore looked disgusted.  'Give way, if you please,' said he, 'leave me to myself.  I have no objection to act alone; only be assured you will not find safety in submission.  Your partner Pearson gave way, and conceded, and forbore.  Well, that did not prevent them from attempting to shoot him in his own house.'

'My dear sir; take a little wine and water,' recommended Mr. Helstone.  The wine and water was Hollands and water, as Mr. Sykes discovered when he had compounded and swallowed a brimming tumbler thereof.  It transfigured him in two minutes, brought the colour back to his face, and madeto-day word-valiant.  He now announced that he hoped he was above being trampled on by the common people; he was determined to endure the insolence of the working classes no longer; he had considered of it, and made up his mind to go all lengths; if money and spirit could put down these rioters, they should be put down; Mr. Moore might do as he liked, but he--Christopher Sykes--would spend his last penny in law before he would be beaten; he'd settle them, or he'd see.

'Take another glass,' urged Moore.

Mr. Sykes didn't mind if he did.  This was a cold morning (Sugden had found it a warm one); it was necessary to be careful at this time of year--it was proper to take something to keep the damp out; he had a little cough already (here he coughed in attestation of the fact); something of this sort (lifting the black bottle) was excellent, taken medicinally (he poured the physic into his tumbler); he didn't make a practice of drinking spirits in the morning, but occasionally it really was prudent to take precautions.

'Quite prudent, and take them by all means,' urged the host.

Mr. Sykes now addressed Mr. Helstone, who stood on the hearth, his shovel-hat on his head,.  watching him significantly with his little, keen eyes.

'You, sir, as a clergyman,' said he, 'may feel it disagreeable to be present amid scenes of hurry and flurry, and, I may say, peril.  I dare say your nerves won't stand it.  You're a man of peace, sir; but we manufacturers, living in the world, and always in turmoil, get quite belligerent.  Really, there's an ardour excited by the thoughts of danger that makes my heart pant.  When Mrs.  Sykes is afraid of the house being attacked and broke open--as she is every night--I get quite excited.  I couldn't describe to you, sir, my feelings.  Really, if anybody was to come--thieves or anything--I believe I should enjoy it, such is my spirit.'

The hardest of laughs, though brief and low, and by no means insulting, was the response of the rector.  Moore would have pressed upon the heroic mill-owner a third tumbler; but the clergyman, who never transgressed, nor would suffer others in his presence to transgress, the bounds of decorum, checked him.

'Enough is as good as a feast, is it not, Mr. Sykes?' he said; and Mr. Sykes assented, and then sat and watched Joe Scott remove the bottle at a sign from Helstone, with a self-satisfied simper on his lips and a regretful glisten in his eye.  Moore looked as if he should have liked to fool him to the top of his bent.  What would a certain young kinswoman of his have said could she have seen her dear, good, great Robert--her Coriolanus--just now?  Would she have acknowledged in that mischievous, sardonic visage the same face to which she had looked up with such love, which had bent over her with such gentleness last night?  Was that the man who had spent so quiet an evening with his sister and his cousin so suave to one, so tender to the other reading Shakespeare and listening to Chénier?

Yes, it was the same man, only seen on a different side--a side Caroline had not yet fairly beheld, though perhaps she had enough sagacity faintly to suspect its existence.  Well, Caroline had, doubtless, her defective side too.  She was human.  She must, then, have been very imperfect, and had she seen Moore on his very worst side she would probably have said this to herself and excused him.  Love can excuse anything except Meanness; but Meanness kills Love, cripples even Natural Affection; without Esteem True Love cannot exist.  Moore, with all his faults, might be esteemed; for he had no moral scrofula in his mind, no hopeless polluting taint--such, for instance, as that of falsehood; neither was he the slave of his appetites.  The active life to which he had been born and bred had given him something else to do than to join the futile chase of the pleasure- hunter.  He was a man integrated, the disciple of reason, not the votary of sense.  The same might be said of old Helstone:  neither of these two would look, think, or speak a lie; for neither of them had the wretched black bottle, which had just been put away, any charms; both might boast a valid claim to the proud title of 'lord of the creation,' for no animal vice was lord of them; they looked and were superior beings to poor Sykes.

A sort of gathering and trampling sound was heard in the yard, and then a pause.  Moore walked to the window; Helstone followed.  Both stood on one side, the tall junior behind the under-sized senior, looking forth carefully, so that they might not be visible from without.  Their sole comment on what they saw was a cynical smile flashed into each other's stern eyes.

A flourishing oratorical cough was now heard, followed by the interjection 'Whisht!' designed, as it seemed, to still the hum of several voices.  Moore opened his casement an inch or two to admit sound more freely.

'Joseph Scott,' began a snuffling voice--Scott was standing sentinel at the counting-house door--'might we inquire if your master be within, and is to be spoken to?'

'He's within, ay,' said Joe nonchalantly.

'Would you then, if you please' (emphasis on 'you'), 'have the goodness to tell him that twelve gentlemen wants to see him.'

'He'd happen ax what for,' suggested Joe.  'I mught as wed tell him that at t' same time.'

'For a purpose,' was the answer.  Joe entered.

'Please, sir, there's twelve gentlemen wants to see ye, "for a purpose."'

'Good, Joe; I'm their man.--Sugden, come when I whistle.'

Moore went out, chuckling dryly.  He advanced into the yard, one hand in his pocket, the other in his waistcoat, his cap brim over his eyes, shading in some measure their deep dancing ray of scorn.  Twelve men waited in the yard, some in their shirt-sleeves, some in blue aprons.  Two figured conspicuously in the van of the party.  One, a little dapper strutting man with a turned-up nose; the other a broad-shouldered fellow, distinguished no less by his demure face and catlike, trustless eyes than by a wooden leg and stout crutch.  There was a kind of leer about his lips; he seemed laughing in his sleeve at some person or thing; his whole air was anything but that of a true man.

'Good-morning, Mr. Barraclough,' said Moore debonairly, for him.

'Peace be unto you!' was the answer, Mr. Barraclough entirely closing his naturally half-shut eyes as he delivered it.

'I'm obliged to you.  Peace is an excellent thing; there's nothing I more wish for myself.  But that is not all you have to say to me, I suppose?  I imagine peace is not your purpose?'

'As to our purpose,' began Barraclough, 'it's one that may sound strange and perhaps foolish to ears like yours, for the childer of this world is wiser in their generation than the childer of light.'

'To the point, if you please, and let me hear what it is.'

'Ye'se hear, sir.  If I cannot get it off, there's eleven behint can help me.  It is a grand purpose; and' (changing his voice from a half-sneer to a whine) 'it's the Looard's own purpose, and that's better.'

'Do you want a subscription to a new Ranter's chapel, Mr. Barraclough?  Unless your errand be something of that sort, I cannot see what you have to do with it.'

'I hadn't that duty on my mind, sir; but as Providence has led ye to mention the subject, I'll make it i' my way to tak ony trifle ye may have to spare, the smallest contribution will be acceptable.'

With that he doffed his hat, and held it out as a begging-box, a brazen grin at the same time crossing his countenance.

'If I gave you sixpence you would drink it.'

Barraclough uplifted the palms of his hands and the whites of his eyes, evincing in the gesture a mere burlesque of hypocrisy.

'You seem a fine fellow,' said Moore, quite coolly and dryly; 'you don't care for showing me that you are a double-dyed hypocrite, that your trade is fraud.  You expect indeed to make me laugh at the cleverness with which you play your coarsely farcical part, while at the same time you think you are deceiving the men behind you.'

Moses' countenance lowered.  He saw he had gone too far.  He was going to answer, when the second leader, impatient of being hitherto kept in the background, stepped forward.  This man did not look like a traitor, though he had an exceedingly self-confident and conceited air.

'Mr. Moore,' commenced he, speaking also in his throat and nose, and enunciating each word very slowly, as if with a view to giving his audience time to appreciate fully the uncommon elegance of the phraseology, 'it might, perhaps, justly be said that reason rather than peace is our purpose.  We come, in the first place, to request you to hear reason, and should you refuse, it is my duty to warn you, in very decided terms, that measures will be had resort to' (he meant recourse) which will probably terminate in--in bringing you to a sense of the unwisdom, of the--the foolishness which seems to guide and guard your proceedings as a tradesman in this manufacturing part of the country.  Hem!  Sir, I would beg to allude that as a furriner, coming from a distant coast, another quarter and hemisphere of this globe, thrown, as I may say, a perfect outcast on these shores--the cliffs of Albion--you have not that understanding of huz and wer ways which might conduce to the benefit of the working-classes.  If, to come at once to partic'lars, you'd consider to give up this here mill, and go without further protractions straight home to where you belong, it 'ud happen be as well.  I can see naught ageean such a plan.--What hev ye to say tull't, lads?' turning round to the other members of the deputation, who responded unanimously, 'Hear, hear!'

'Brayvo, Noah o' Tim's!' murmured Joe Scott, who stood behind Mr. Moore; 'Moses'll niver beat that.  Cliffs o' Albion, and t' other hemisphere!  My certy!  Did ye come fro' th' Antarctic Zone, maister?  Moses is dished.'

Moses, however, refused to be dished.  He thought he would try again.  Casting a somewhat ireful glance at 'Noah o' Tim's,' he launched out in his turn; and now he spoke in a serious tone, relinquishing the sarcasm which he found had not answered.

'Or iver you set up the pole o' your tent amang us, Mr. Moore, we lived i' peace and quietness--yea, I may say, in all loving-kindness.  I am not myself an aged person as yet, but I can remember as far back as maybe some twenty year, when hand-labour were encouraged and respected, and no mischief-maker had ventured to introduce these here machines which is so pernicious.  Now, I'm not a cloth-dresser myself, but by trade a tailor.  Howsiver, my heart is of a softish nature.  I'm a very feeling man, and when I see my brethren oppressed, like my great namesake of old, I stand up for 'em; for which intent I this day speak with you face to face, and advises you to part wi' your infernal machinery, and tak on more hands.'

'What if I don't follow your advice, Mr. Barraclough?'

'The Looard pardon you!  The Looard soften your heart, sir!'

'Are you in connection with the Wesleyans now, Mr. Barraclough?'

'Praise God!  Bless His name!  I'm a joined Methody!'

'Which in no respect prevents you from being at the same time a drunkard and a swindler.  I saw you one night a week ago laid dead-drunk by the roadside, as I returned from Stilbro' market; and while you preach peace, you make it the business of your life to stir up dissension.  You no more sympathise with the poor who are in distress than you sympathise with me.  You incite them to outrage for bad purposes of your own; so does the individual called Noah of Tim's.  You two are restless, meddling, impudent scoundrels, whose chief motive-principle is a selfish ambition, as dangerous as it is puerile.  The persons behind you are some of them honest though misguided men; but you two I count altogether bad.'

Barraclough was going to speak.

'Silence!  You have had your say, and now I will have mine.  As to being dictated to by you, or any Jack, Jem, or Jonathan on earth, I shall not suffer it for a moment.  You desire me to quit the country; you request me to part with my machinery.  In case I refuse, you threaten me.  I do refuse--point-blank!  Here I stay, and by this mill I stand, and into it will I convey the best machinery inventors can furnish.  What will you do?  The utmost you can do--and this you will never dare to do--is to burn down my mill, destroy its contents, and shoot me.  What then?  Suppose that building was a ruin and I was a corpse--what then, you lads behind these two scamps?  Would that stop invention or exhaust science?  Not for the fraction of a second of time!  Another and better gig-mill would rise on the ruins of this, and perhaps a more enterprising owner come in my place.  Hear me!  I'll make my cloth as I please, and according to the best lights I have.  In its manufacture I will employ what means I choose.  Whoever after hearing this, shall dare to interfere with me may just take the consequences.  An example shall prove I'm in earnest.'

He whistled shrill and loud.  Sugden, his staff and warrant, came on the scene.

Moore turned sharply to Barraclough.  'You were at Stilbro',' said he; 'I have proof of that.  You were on the moor, you wore a mask, you knocked down one of my men with your own hand--you!  a preacher of the gospel!--Sugden, arrest him!'

Moses was captured.  There was a cry and a rush to rescue, but the right hand which all this while had lain hidden in Moore's breast, reappearing, held out a pistol.

'Both barrels are loaded,' said he.  'I'm quite determined!  Keep off.'

Stepping backwards facing the foe as he went, he guarded his prey to the counting-house.  He ordered Joe Scott to pass in with Sugden and the prisoner, and to bolt the door inside.  For himself, he walked backwards and forwards along the front of the mill, looking meditatively on the ground, his hand hanging carelessly by his side, but still holding the pistol.  The eleven remaining deputies watched him some time, talking under their breath to each other.  At length one of them approached.  This man looked very different from either of the two who had previously spoken; he was hard-favoured, but modest and manly- looking.

'I've not much faith i' Moses Barraclough,' said he, 'and I would speak a word to you myseln, Mr. Moore.  It's out o' no ill-will that I'm here, for my part; it's just to mak a effort to get things straightened, for they're sorely a-crooked.  Ye see we're ill off--varry ill off; wer families is poor and pined.  We're thrown out o' work wi' these frames; we can get nought to do; we can earn nought.  What is to be done?  Mun we say, wisht!  and lig us down and dee?  Nay; I've no grand words at my tongue's end, Mr. Moore, but I feel that it wad be a low principle for a reasonable man to starve to death like a dumb cratur.  I willn't do't.  I'm not for shedding blood:  I'd neither kill a man nor hurt a man; and I'm not for pulling down mills and breaking machines--for, as ye say, that way o' going on'll niver stop invention; but I'll talk--I'll mak as big a din as ever I can.  Invention may be all right, but I know it isn't right for poor folks to starve.  Them that governs mun find a way to help us, they mun make fresh orderations.  Ye'll say that's hard to do.  So mich louder mun we shout out then, for so much slacker will t' Parliament men be to set on to a tough job.'

'Worry the Parliament-men as much as you please,' said Moore; 'but to worry the mill-owners is absurd, and I for one won't stand it.'

'Ye're a raight hard un!' returned the workman; 'Willn't ye gie us a bit o' time?  Willn't ye consent to mak your changes rather more slowly?'

'Am I the whole body of clothiers in Yorkshire?  Answer me that.'

'Ye're yourseln.'

'And only myself.  And if I stopped by the way an instant, while others are rushing on, I should be trodden down.  If I did as you wish me to do, I should be bankrupt in a month; and would my bankruptcy put bread into your hungry children's mouths?  William Farren, neither to your dictation nor to that of any other will I submit.  Talk to me no more about machinery.  I will have my own way.  I shall get new frames in to-morrow.  If you broke these, I would still get more.  I'll never give in.'

Here the mill-bell rang twelve o'clock.  It was the dinner-hour.  Moore abruptly turned from the deputation and re-entered his counting-house.

His last words had left a bad, harsh impression; he at least, had 'failed in the disposing of a chance he was lord of.' By speaking kindly to William Farren--who was a very honest man, without envy or hatred of those more happily circumstanced than himself, thinking it no hardship and no injustice to be forced to live by labour, disposed to be honourably content if he could but get work to do--Moore might have made a friend.  It seemed wonderful how he could turn from such a man without a conciliatory or a sympathising expression.  The poor fellow's face looked haggard with want; he had the aspect of a man who had not known what it was to live in comfort and plenty for weeks, perhaps months, past, and yet there was no ferocity, no malignity in his countenance; it was worn, dejected, austere, but still patient.  How could Moore leave him thus, with the words, 'I'll never give in,' and not a whisper of good-will, or hope, or aid?

Farren, as he went home to his cottage--once, in better times, a decent, clean, pleasant place, but now, though still clean, very dreary, because so poor--asked himself this question.  He concluded that the foreign mill-owner was a selfish, an unfeeling, and, he thought, too, a foolish man.  It appeared to him that emigration, had he only the means to emigrate, would be preferable to service under such a master.  He felt much cast down--almost hopeless.

On his entrance his wife served out, in orderly sort, such dinner as she had to give him and the bairns.  It was only porridge, and too little of that.  Some of the younger children asked for more when they had done their portion--an application which disturbed William much.  While his wife quieted them as well as she could, he left his seat and went to the door.  He whistled a cheery stave, which did not, however, prevent a broad drop or two (much more like the 'first of a thundershower' than those which oozed from the wound of the gladiator) from gathering on the lids of his gray eyes, and plashing thence to the threshold.  He cleared his vision with his sleeve, and the melting mood over, a very stern one followed.

He still stood brooding in silence, when a gentleman in black came up--a clergyman, it might be seen at once, but neither Helstone, nor Malone, nor Donne, nor Sweeting.  He might be forty years old; he was plain-looking, dark- complexioned, and already rather gray-haired.  He stooped a little in walking.  His countenance, as he came on, wore an abstracted and somewhat doleful air; but in approaching Farren he looked up, and then a hearty expression illuminated the preoccupied, serious face.

'Is it you, William?  How are you?' he asked.

'Middling, Mr. Hall.  How are ye?  Will ye step in and rest ye?'

Mr. Hall; whose name the reader has seen mentioned before (and who, indeed, was vicar of Nunnely, of which parish Farren was a native, and from whence he had removed but three years ago to reside in Briarfield, for the convenience of being near Hollow's Mill, where he had obtained work), entered the cottage, and having greeted the good-wife and the children, sat down.  He proceeded to talk very cheerfully about the length of time that had elapsed since the family quitted his parish, the changes which had occurred since; he answered questions touching his sister Margaret, who was inquired after with much interest; he asked questions in his turn, and at last, glancing hastily and anxiously round through his spectacles (he wore spectacles, for he was short-sighted) at the bare room, and at the meagre and wan faces of the circle about him--for the children had come round his knee, and the father and mother stood before him--he said abruptly,--'And how are you all?  How do you get on?'

Mr. Hall, be it remarked, though an accomplished scholar, not only spoke with a strong northern accent, but, on occasion, used freely north-country expressions.

'We get on poorly,' said William; 'we're all out of work.  I've selled most o' t' household stuff, as ye may see; and what we're to do next, God knows.'

'Has Mr. Moore turned you off?'

'He has turned us off, and I've sich an opinion of him now that I think if he'd tak me on again to-morrow I wouldn't work for him.'

'It is not like you to say so, William.'

'I know it isn't; but I'm getting different to mysel'; I feel I am changing.  I wadn't heed if t' bairns and t' wife had enough to live on; but they're pinched--they're pined.'

'Well, my lad, and so are you; I see you are.  These are grievous times; I see suffering wherever I turn.  William, sit down.  Grace, sit down.  Let us talk it over.'

And in order the better to talk it over, Mr. Hall lifted the least of the children on to his knee, and placed his hand on the head of the next least; but when the small things began to chatter to him he bade them 'Whisht!' and fixing his eyes on the grate, he regarded the handful of embers which burned there very gravely.

'Sad times,' he said, 'and they last long.  It is the will of God.  His will be done.  But He tries us to the utmost.'  Again he reflected.  'You've no money, William, and you've nothing you could sell to raise a small sum?'

'No.  I've selled t' chest o' drawers, and t' clock, and t' bit of a mahogany stand, and t' wife's bonny tea-tray and set o' cheeney that she brought for a portion when we were wed.'

'And if somebody lent you a pound or two, could you make any good use of it?  Could you get into a new way of doing something?'  Farren did not answer, but his wife said quickly, 'Ay, I'm sure he could, sir.  He's a very contriving chap is our William.  If he'd two or three pounds he could begin selling stuff'

'Could you, William?'

'Please God,' returned William deliberately, 'I could buy groceries, and bits o' tapes, and thread, and what I thought would sell, and I could begin hawking at first.'

'And you know, sir,' interposed Grace, 'you're sure William would neither drink, nor idle, nor waste, in any way.  He's my husband, and I shouldn't praise him; but I will say there's not a soberer, honester man i' England nor he is.'

'Well, I'll speak to one or two friends, and I think I can promise to let him have £5 in a day or two--as a loan, ye mind, not a gift.  He must pay it back.'

'I understand, sir.  I'm quite agreeable to that.'

'Meantime, there's a few shillings for you, Grace, just to keep the pot boiling till custom comes.--Now, bairns, stand up in a row and say your catechism, while your mother goes and buys some dinner; for you've not had much to-day, I'll be bound.--You begin, Ben.  What is your name?'

Mr. Hall stayed till Grace came back; then he hastily took his leave, shaking hands with both Farren and his wife.  Just at the door he said to them a few brief but very earnest words of religious consolation and exhortation.  With a mutual 'God bless you, sir!'  'God bless you, my friends!'  They separated.



Chapter XIX.
A Summer Night

 'If there should chance to be any disturbance in the night, Captain--if you should hear the picking of a lock, the cutting out of a pane of glass, a stealthy tread of steps about the house (and I need not fear to tell you, who bear a well-tempered, mettlesome heart under your girl's ribbon-sash, that such little incidents are very possible in the present time), what would you do?'

'Don't know--faint, perhaps--fall down, and have to be picked up again.  But, doctor, if you assign me the post of honour, you must give me arms.  What weapons are there in your stronghold?'

'You could not wield a sword?'

'No; I could manage the carving-knife better.'

'You will find a good one in the dining-room sideboard:  a lady's knife, light to handle, and as sharp-pointed as a poignard.'

'It will suit Caroline; but you must give me a brace of pistols:  I know you have pistols.'

'I have two pairs; one pair I can place at your disposal.  You will find them suspended over the mantelpiece of my study in cloth cases.'


'Yes, but not on the cock.  Cock them before you go to bed.  It is paying you a great compliment, Captain, to lend you these; were you one of the awkward squad you should not have them.'

'I will take care.  You need delay no longer, Mr. Helstone:  you may go now.  He is gracious to me to lend me his pistols,' she remarked, as the rector passed out at the garden-gate.  'But come, Lina,' she continued; 'let us go in and have some supper:  I was too much vexed at tea with the vicinage of Mr. Sam Wynne to be able to eat, and now I am really hungry.'

Entering the house, they repaired to the darkened dining-room, through the open windows of which apartment stole the evening air, bearing the perfume of flowers from the garden, the very distant sound of far-retreating steps from the road, and a soft vague murmur; whose origin Caroline explained by the remark, uttered as she stood listening at the casement--Shirley, I hear the beck in the Hollow.'

Then she rung the bell, asked for a candle and some bread and milk--Miss Keeldar's usual supper and her own.  Fanny, when she brought in the tray, would have closed the windows and the shutters, but was requested to desist for the present:  the twilight was too calm, its breath too balmy to be yet excluded.  They took their meal in silence:  Caroline rose once, to remove to the window- sill a glass of flowers which stood on the side-board; the exhalation from the blossoms being somewhat too powerful for the sultry room:  in returning, she half opened a drawer, and took from it something that glittered clear and keen in her hand.

'You assigned this to me, then, Shirley--did you?  It is bright, keen-edged, finely-tapered:  it is dangerous-looking, I never yet felt the impulse which could move me to direct this against a fellow-creature.  It is difficult to fancy what circumstances could nerve my arm to strike home with this long knife.'

'I should hate to do it,' replied Shirley; 'but I think I could do it, if goaded by certain exigencies which I can imagine.'  And Miss Keeldar quietly sipped her glass of new milk, looking somewhat thoughtful, and a little pale:  though, indeed, when did she not look pale?  She was never florid.

The milk sipped and the bread eaten, Fanny was again summoned:  she and Eliza were recommended to go to bed, which they were quite willing to do, being weary of the day's exertions, of much cutting of currant-buns, and filling of urns and teapots, and running backwards and forwards with trays.  Erelong the maids' chamber-door was heard to close; Caroline took a candle, and went quietly all over the house, seeing that every window was fast and every door barred.  She did not even evade the haunted back-kitchen, nor the vault-like cellars.  These visited, she returned.

'There is neither spirit nor flesh in the house at present,' she said, 'which should not be there.  It is now near eleven o'clock, fully bed-time, yet I would rather sit up a little longer, if you do not object, Shirley.  Here,' she continued, 'I have brought the brace of pistols from my uncle's study:  you may examine them at your leisure.'

She placed them on the table before her friend

'Why would you rather sit up longer?' asked Miss Keeldar, taking up the firearms, examining them, and again laying them down.

'Because I have a strange excited feeling in my heart.'

'So have I.'

'Is this state of sleeplessness and restlessness caused by something electrical in the air, I wonder?'

'No:  the sky is clear, the stars numberless:  it is a fine night.'

'But very still.  I hear the water fret over its stony bed in Hollow's Copse as distinctly as if it ran below the churchyard wall.'

'I am glad it is so still a night:  a moaning wind or rushing rain would vex me to fever just now.'

'Why, Shirley?'

'Because it would baffle my efforts to listen.'

'Do you listen towards the Hollow?'

'Yes; it is the only quarter whence we can hear a sound just now.'

'The only one, Shirley.'

They both sat near the window, and both leaned their arms on the sill, and both inclined their heads towards the open lattice.  They saw each other's young faces by the starlight, and that dim June twilight which does not wholly fade from the west till dawn begins to break in the east.

'Mr. Helstone thinks we have no idea which way he is gone,' murmured Miss Keeldar, 'nor on what errand, nor with what expectations, nor how prepared; but I guess much--do not you?'

'I guess something.'

'All those gentlemen--your cousin Moore included--think that you and I are now asleep in our beds, unconscious.'

'Caring nothing about them--hoping and fearing nothing for them,' added Caroline.

Both kept silence for full half-an-hour.  The night was silent, too; only the church-clock measured its course by quarters.  Some words were interchanged about the chill of the air:  they wrapped their scarves closer round them, resumed their bonnets which they had removed, and again watched.

Towards midnight the teasing, monotonous bark of the house-dog disturbed the quietude of their vigil.  Caroline rose, and made her way noiselessly through the dark passages to the kitchen, intending to appease him with a piece of bread:  she succeeded.  On returning to the dining-room, she found it all dark, Miss Keeldar having extinguished the candle:  the outline of her shape was visible near the still open window, leaning out.  Miss Helstone asked no questions:  she stole to her side.  The dog recommenced barking furiously; suddenly he stopped, and seemed to listen.  The occupants of the dining-room listened too, and not merely now to the flow of the millstream:  there was a nearer, though a muffled sound on the road below the churchyard; a measured, beating, approaching sound; a dull tramp of marching feet.

It drew near.  Those who listened by degrees comprehended its extent.  It was not the tread of two, nor of a dozen, nor of a score of men:  it was the tread of hundreds.  They could see nothing:  the high shrubs of the garden formed a leafy screen between them and the road.  To hear, however, was not enough; and this they felt as the troop trod forwards, and seemed actually passing the Rectory.  They felt it more when a human voice--though that voice spoke but one word--broke the hush of the night.


A halt followed:  the march was arrested.  Then came a low conference, of which no word was distinguishable from the dining-room.

'We must hear this,' said Shirley.

She turned, took her pistols from the table, silently passed out through the middle window of the dining-room, which was, in fact, a glass door, stole down the walk to the garden wall, and stood listening under the lilacs.  Caroline would not have quitted the house had she been alone, but where Shirley went she would go.  She glanced at the weapon on the side-board, but left it behind her, and presently stood at her friend's side.  They dared not look over the wall, for fear of being seen:  they were obliged to crouch behind it:  they heard these words--

'It looks a rambling old building.  Who lives in it besides the damned parson?'

'Only three women:  his niece and two servants,'

'Do you know where they sleep?'

'The lasses behind:  the niece in a front room.'

'And Helstone?'

'Yonder is his chamber.  He uses burning a light:  but I see none now.'

'Where would you get in?'

'If I were ordered to do his job--and he desarves it--I'd try yond' long window:  it opens to the dining-room:  I could grope my way upstairs, and I know his chamber.'

'How would you manage about the women-folk?'

'Let 'em alone except they shrieked, and then I'd soon quieten 'em.  I could wish to find the old chap asleep:  if he waked, he'd be dangerous.'

'Has he arms?'

'Fire-arms, allus--and allus loadened.'

'Then you're a fool to stop us here; a shot would give the alarm:  Moore would be on us before we could turn round.  We should miss our main object.'

'You might go on, I tell you.  I'd engage Helstone alone.'

A pause.  One of the party dropped some weapon, which rang on the stone causeway:  at this sound the Rectory dog barked again furiously--fiercely.

'That spoils all!' said the voice; 'he'll awake:  a noise like that might rouse the dead.  You did not say there was a dog.  Damn you!  Forward!'

Forward they went,--tramp, tramp,--with mustering manifold, slow-filing tread.  They were gone.

Shirley stood erect; looked over the wall, along the road.

'Not a soul remains,' she said.....

After a second pause, she continued--'What is it my duty and wisdom to do next?  Not to stay here inactive, I am glad to say, but of course to walk over to the Hollow'....

'Not one step shall you stir,' she went on authoritatively.  'At this moment, Moore would be both shocked and embarrassed, if he saw either you or me.  Men never want women near them in time of real danger.'

 I would not trouble--I would help him,' was the reply.

'How?  By inspiring him with heroism?  Pooh!  These are not the days of chivalry:  it is not a tilt at a tournament we are going to behold, but a struggle about money, and food, and life'

'It is natural that I should be at his side.'

'As queen of his heart?  His mill is his lady-love, Cary!  Backed by his factory and his frames, he has all the encouragement he wants or can know.  It is not for love or beauty, but for ledger and broadcloth, he is going to break a spear.  Don't be sentimental; Robert is not so.'

'I could help him--I will seek him.'

'Off then--I let you go--seek Moore:  you'll not find him.'  She loosened her hold.  Caroline sped like levelled shaft from bent bow; after her rang a jesting, gibing laugh.  'Look well there is no mistake!' was the warning given.

But there was a mistake.  Miss Helstone paused, hesitated, gazed.  The figure had suddenly retreated from the gate, and was running back hastily to the mill.

'Make haste, Lina!' cried Shirley:  'meet him before he enters.'

Caroline slowly returned.  'It is not Robert,' she said:  'it has neither his height, form, nor bearing.'

'I saw it was not Robert when I let you go.  How could you imagine it?  It is a shabby little figure of a private soldier:  they have posted him as sentinel.  He is safe in the mill now:  I saw the door open and admit him.  My mind grows easier; Robert is prepared:  our warning would have been superfluous, and now I am thankful we came too late to give it:  it has saved us the trouble of a scene.  How fine to have entered the counting-house 'toute éperdue', and to have found oneself in presence of Messrs.  Armitage and Ramsden smoking, Malone swaggering, your uncle sneering, Mr. Sykes sipping a cordial and Moore himself in his cold man-of-business vein:  I am glad we missed it all.'

'I wonder if there are many in the mill, Shirley!'

'Plenty to defend it.  The soldiers we have twice seen to-day were going there no doubt, and the group we noticed surrounding your cousin in the fields will be with him.'

'What are they doing now, Shirley?  What is that noise?'

'Hatchets and crowbars against the yard-gates:  they are forcing them.  Are you afraid?'

'No; but my heart throbs fast; I have a difficulty in standing:  I will sit down.  Do you feel unmoved?'

'Hardly that--but I am glad I came:  we shall see what transpires with our own eyes:  we are here on the spot, and none know it.  Instead of amazing the curate, the clothier, and the corn-dealer with a romantic rush on the stage, we stand alone with the friendly night, its mute stars, and these whispering trees, whose report our friends will not come to gather.'

'Shirley--Shirley, the gates are down!  That crash was like the felling of great trees.  Now they are pouring through.  They will break down the mill doors as they have broken the gate:  what can Robert do against so many?  Would to God I were a little nearer him--could hear him speak--could speak to him!  With my will--my longing to serve him--I could not be a useless burden in his way:  I could be turned to some account.'

'They come on!' cried Shirley.  'How steadily they march in!  There is discipline in their ranks--I will not say there is courage:  hundreds against tens are no proof of that quality but' (she dropped her voice) 'there's suffering and desperation enough amongst them--these goads will urge them forwards.'

'Forwards against Robert--and they hate him.  Shirley, is there much danger they will win the day?'

'We shall see.  Moore and Helstone are of 'earth's first blood'--no bunglers--no cravens--'

A crash--smash--shiver--stopped their whispers.  A simultaneously-hurled volley of stones had saluted the broad front of the mill, with all its windows; and now every pane of every lattice lay shattered and pounded fragments.  A yell followed this demonstration--a rioters' yell--a North-of-England--a Yorkshire--a West-Riding--a West-Riding-clothing-district-of Yorkshire rioters' yell.  You never heard that sound, perhaps, reader?  So much the better for your ears--perhaps for your heart; since, if it rends the air in hate to yourself, or to the men or principles you approve, the interests to which you wish well.  Wrath wakens to the cry of Hate:  the Lion shakes his mane, and rises to the howl of the Hyena:  Caste stands up ireful against Caste; and the indignant, wronged spirit of the Middle Rank bears down in zeal and scorn on the famished and furious mass of the Operative class.  It is difficult to be tolerant--difficult to be just--in such moments.

Caroline rose, Shirley put her arm round her:  they stood together as still as the straight stems of two trees.  That yell was a long one, and when it ceased, the night was yet full of the swaying and murmuring of a crowd.

'What next?' was the question of the listeners.  Nothing came yet.  The mill remained mute as a mausoleum.

'He cannot be alone!' whispered Caroline.

'I would stake all I have, that he is as little alone as he is alarmed,' responded Shirley.

Shots were discharged by the rioters.  Had the defenders waited for this signal?  It seemed so.  The hitherto inert and passive mill woke:  fire flashed from its empty window-frames; a volley of musketry pealed sharp through the Hollow.

'Moore speaks at last!' said Shirley, 'and he seems to have the gift of tongues; that was not a single voice.'

'He has been forbearing; no one can accuse him of rashness', alleged Caroline:  'their discharge preceded his:  they broke his gates and his windows; they fired at his garrison before he repelled them.'

What was going on now?  It seemed difficult, in the darkness, to distinguish, but something terrible, a still-renewing tumult, was obvious:  fierce attacks, desperate repulses; the mill-yard, the mill itself, was full of battle movements:  there was scarcely any cessation now of the discharge of firearms; and there was struggling, rushing, trampling, and shouting between.  The aim of the assailants seemed to be to enter the mill, that of the defendants to beat them off.  They heard the rebel leader cry, 'To the back, lads!'  They heard a voice retort, 'Come round, we will meet you !'  'To the counting-house !' was the order again.

'Welcome!--We shall have you there!' was the response.  And accordingly, the fiercest blaze that had yet glowed, the loudest rattle that had yet been heard, burst from the countinghouse front, when the mass of rioters rushed up to it.

The voice that had spoken was Moore's own voice.  They could tell by its tones that his soul was now warm with the conflict:  they could guess that the fighting animal was roused in every one of those men there struggling together, and was for the time quite paramount above the rational human being.  Both the girls felt their faces glow and their pulses throb:  both knew they would do no good by rushing down into the mêlée:  they desired neither to deal nor to receive blows; but they could not have run away--Caroline no more than Shirley; they could not have fainted; they could not have taken their eyes from the dim, terrible scene--from the mass of cloud, of smoke--the musket-lightning--for the world.

'How and when would it end?' was the demand throbbing in their throbbing pulses.  Would a juncture arise in which they could be useful?  was what they waited to see; for, though Shirley put off their too-late arrival with a jest, and was ever ready to satirise her own or any other person's enthusiasm, she would have given a farm of her best land for a chance of rendering good service.

The chance was not vouchsafed her; the looked-for juncture never came:  it was not likely.  Moore had expected this attack for days, perhaps weeks:  he was prepared for it at every point.  He had fortified and garrisoned his mill, which in itself was a strong building:  he was a cool, brave man:  he stood to the defence with unflinching firmness; those who were with him caught his spirit, and copied his demeanour.  The rioters had never been so met before.  At other mills they had attacked, they had found no resistance; an organised, resolute defence was what they never dreamed of encountering.  When their leaders saw the steady fire kept up from the mill, witnessed the composure and determination of its owner, heard themselves coolly defied and invited on to death, and beheld their men falling wounded round them, they felt that nothing was to be done here.  In haste, they mustered their forces, drew them away from the building:  a roll was called over, in which the men answered to figures instead of names:  they dispersed wide over the fields, leaving silence and ruin behind them.  The attack, from its commencement to its termination, had not occupied an hour.

Day was by this time approaching:  the west was dim, the east beginning to gleam.  It would have seemed that the girls who had watched this conflict would now wish to hasten to the victors, on whose side all their interest had been enlisted; but they only very cautiously approached the now battered mill, and, when suddenly a number of soldiers and gentlemen appeared at the great door opening into the yard, they quickly stepped aside into a shed, the deposit of old iron and timber, whence they could set without being seen.

It was no cheering spectacle:  these premises were now a mere blot of desolation on the fresh front of the summer-dawn.  All the copse up the Hollow was shady and dewy, the hill at its head was green; but just here in the centre of the sweet glen, Discord, broken loose in the night from control, had beaten the ground with his stamping hoofs, and left it waste and pulverised.  The mill yawned all ruinous with unglazed frames; the yard was thickly bestrewn with stones and brickbats, and, close under the mill, with the glittering fragments of the shattered windows, muskets and other weapons lay here and there; more than one deep crimson stain was visible on the gravel; a human body lay quiet on its face near the gates; and five or six wounded men writhed and moaned in the bloody dust.

Miss Keeldar's countenance changed at this view:  it was the after-taste of the battle, death and pain replacing excitement and exertion:  it was the blackness the bright fire leaves when its blaze is sunk, its warmth failed, and its glow faded.

'That is what I wished to prevent,' she said, in a voice whose cadence betrayed the altered impulse of her heart.

'But you could not prevent it; you did your best; it was in vain,' said Caroline comfortingly.  'Don't grieve, Shirley.'



Chapter XXXVII.
The Winding-Up

The other day I passed up the Hollow, which tradition says was once green, and lone, and wild; and there I saw the manufacturer's day-dreams embodied in substantial stone and brick and ashes--the cinder-black highway, the cottages, and the cottage gardens; there I saw a mighty mill, and a chimney, ambitious as the tower of Babel.  I told my old housekeeper when I came home where I had been.

'Ay!' said she; 'this world has queer changes.  I can remember the old mill being built--the very first it was in all the district; and then, I can remember it being pulled down, and going with my lake-lasses (companions) to see the foundation-stone of the new one laid:  the two Mr. Moores made a great stir about it; they were there, and a deal of fine folk beside, and both their ladies; very bonnie and grand they looked; but Mrs.  Louis was the grandest, she always wore such handsome dresses:  Mrs.  Robert was quieterlike.  Mrs.  Louis smiled when she talked:  she had a real, happy, glad, good-natured look; but she had been that pierced a body through:  there is no such ladies now-a-days.'

'What was the Hollow like then, Martha?'

'Different to what it is now; but I can tell of it clean different again:  when there was neither mill, nor cot, nor hall, except Fieldhead, within two miles of it.  I can tell, one summer evening, fifty years syne, my mother coming running in just at the edge of dark, almost fleyed out of her wits, saying she had seen a fairish (fairy) in Fieldhead Hollow; and that was the last fairish that ever was seen on this country side (though they've been heard within these forty years).  A lonesome spot it was--and a bonnie spot--full of oak trees and nut trees.  It is altered now.'


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  • Hard Times (1854), by Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
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