Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

"Oh, ye rips o' sea-cats ! ye wreckin' combin' varmints, as ’ull live to be hung fur pirits afore ye die; a born nateral disgrace to the mothers as bore ye. What 'ull be the end o’ye?".

At the same time she was making violent efforts, as Winder said afterwards, “tu bust through the fence and board” the lads.

Without waiting to answer Nance's questions as to what would become of them, the three boys bolted with their precious net full of crabs, through a reedbed which was close at hand; and they got away to a safe hiding-place, where, as they ate their fish in peace, they speculated as to how long it would take old Nance to "git the smell of 'em out of that there bakin'-pot of hers.”

Poor old Nance! "Scolding Nance” she was nicknamed, because of her habit of giving her opinion to her neighbours before they asked for it. She was not bad at heart; in fact, she often showed great sympathy with the lads and lasses, especially with such as she thought hardly treated by their own folks. But she had a most wonderful flow of strong language at command, and her temper was the worst in that fishing quarter, as long as it lasted. It was generally very patiently borne with, and folks showed her as much sociability and kindness as she would accept, for she had known terrible troubles, having lost her husband and several sons, all at sea.

Many a hard-pressed wife and mother keeps her heart soft and tender by an occasional visit to the spot where the bodies of her loved ones lie under the green turf, beside the old church where they had worshipped together; but Nance had no such mournful consolation. Only when the winds howled and raged over the sea, near her lonely cot, she would hug her grief, rocking herself to and fro in anguish as she thought of those who had been made the sport of the restless waters.

It was strange how few of the fishermen and their sons could swim. They used to say, “What's the use on't? fur ef yer goes overboard in a gale with this 'ere heavy top an' bottom fishin' gear on, why down yer goes to Davy's Locker, onless they gets holt on yer with the boat-hook, or chucks yer a spar o'some sort to grip, or lays ye a rope tu lay holt on.”

They were right there ; the best of swimmers must have sunk, hampered with those heavy tarpaulin suits and the weight of their great sea-boots.

CHAPTER VI.

THE GOLDEN EAGLES AT STANDBECK.

DENZIL, or Den, as he was more commonly called, had done his best to learn to read well from the time his father first began to teach him. A true naturalist, like the poet, is born, not made; and from the first his sole object was to be able to read all about the birds of other countries as well as his own, as he saw them in the beautiful books at his kinsman's house.

Besides reading about these, he was constantly to be found in one or other of the fishermen's cottages, if not wandering on the marshes, when his father was away at his work, examining the curious collections made by some members of their families who had gone as sailors into distant lands. From the old

crones, too, he gathered many of the local histories and traditions of the past, and also much about his own kith and kin, on his father's side, which gave him cause to ponder; and his imagination was continually at work trying to fit all things together, which was no easy matter to his child's mind.

For his father and the master, as he was often called, were curiously silent as to the early history of their family. Their richer relative had a grievance against Philip Magnier; it was generally kept to himself, but it betrayed itself involuntarily at times.

Philip had incurred his displeasure by marrying to please himself instead of his family. This displeasure was never openly shown, but it was always rankling, and it embittered his mind against the family in the smaller house on the flats. Philip had fallen in love with “Louey”-Louisa—the daughter of one of the richest members of the fishing fraternity, a man of influence and of sterling honesty.

Being a true man, the lover disregarded the remonstrances of his friends, and followed the dictates of his heart. When the marriage was first proposed some of the older fishing gossips shook their heads, and said “they wished Louey all good luck, and him as was marrying her the same; but she was goin' tu step from her rank, an' it mightn't end well with her.” But at any mention of difference of station, men, women, and lasses were up in arms at once, and flew at it with all the heat of their native blood.

“What was too high for Louey? her family. pedigree could also be traced back unbroken for generations; the man that first spoke of it had better keep a still tongue in his head about that, or they would keel-haul him. Louey was good enough fur any man livin' as cud properly valer a good wife.”

And so the pair were duly married, and all went well with them as far as their home life was concerned; but the husband's friends, although they gave their consent, and acknowledged the pair when by chance they met, never really forgave Philip. A breach was made which was never repaired, not even at his somewhat early death.

Den resembled his father in features and bearing, and he was allowed to be Larry's constant friend and playmate, when the latter was not at school; but the child clung to his mother's people, and they to him. “He's the very moral of his father in looks, an' has

« AnteriorContinuar »