Imagens das páginas

there isn't Joan's black donkey over my hedge


Rina Cliffe quickly disappeared through a long row of outbuildings (half kitchen, half pig-sty, and altogether in ruin) into the garden beyond.

Linda turned nervously to the door, as if she would lift up the latch from within and make good her retreat; but upon second thoughts she determined to stay where she was, on the uneven stone floor of a very comfortless kitchen.

Rina's voice sounded angrily from the garden, “I'll have 'em up, as sure as there's a justicecourt in England!” she loudly protested, as she took a final and certain aim at the offending donkey with an old twig besom.

“Which?" inquired a mischievous voice from behind a stack of wood near the hedge; “Joan, or the donkey, or the cat? I'd have 'em all up if I were you, and then you'd be sure to be right."

“I'll have you up for your impudence,” screamed Rina, and a heavy stone was hurled by her powerful arm in the direction of the wood pile. “Mind what you're about, Martin Price, or you shall know more about justices and prison walls than'll please you. It won't be mighty pleasant there, I


reckon. No apple-trees to pelt, young master, no hedges to tramp down, and no mischief to be after. How will that suit you?"

A shower of dust and leaves was the answer; and then the assailant's cap was tossed in the air, and caught again. "I suppose you've been there, as you know what it's like.

Did they give you some gunpowder for tea, missis ?At this moment Linda Conway came upon the

“Martin,” she said, “is that you ?” Martin Price was in her class at the Sundayschool. He slunk down out of sight in a moment.

* There's no end to my troubles!” exclaimed Rina Cliffe as she clattered back into the kitchen. “And now, ma'am, what do you want? You've not been nigh me since you came back from foreign parts, and that's 'most a year, maybe two. Much good you'd learn there! And you may tell the rector from me, that if his dear lady had been alive she would never have consented to send

you among foreigners, Cath'lics and such-like, to learn their tricks and ways."

“ You are mistaken, Rina; my father placed me under the care of an old and valued friend of my mother's—a good Protestant, and, like her, a good Christian."

[ocr errors]

Ah, well, all the better for you!” replied Rina, shortly; “but I tell you plainly you needn't come here. I want nothing from you, and nothing you'll get from me-you may as well know it first as last; I'm no hypocrite, like some folks."

“I do not want anything from you, Rina, but a civil word. I came because I heard you had been ill, and were very lonely,” said poor Linda, with renewed effort to find some entrance into that unfriendly heart.

“ You needn't waste any pity on me, ma'am,” replied Rina; “I've done without it ever since my grandson was transported, and I'm not likely to want it now."

Your grandson, Owen Cliffe, transported !” exclaimed Linda; “I understood he was an emigrant to Australia, and a steady, prosperous man. What had he done?

Done!" screamed Rina; “I'll tell you what he had done. He had been a good boy to me, and had learnt to be a good workman and a great scholar. He'd bring home the text upon a Sunday, and hit the meaning of it like the parson. Owen was very fond of his church, and I liked it well enough then.

“Why not love it still ?" asked Linda. “My father often regrets your constant absence from it. No one has taken your vacant place yet in the old

pew, Rina."

“They'd better not either. I'd soon let them know a bit of my mind if they dared to take it. I haven't been into the church since my boy was transported; it would break my heart. I used to listen to his voice in the Psalms, and I never heard any one else, not even the clerk. I didn't lose a word. It seemed to me as if I was in heaven."

“I remember Owen's voice very well,” said Linda; "he sang in the last Christmas anthem I heard before I left home."

Maybe he did,” said Rina, gloomily; “but he'll never sing in this church again. It's a wicked shame to have transported him, such a good boy as he was to me! There, granny,' says he, 'I can work for you now, and take care of the bit of land. Time was when I was no higher than this table, and you had to do it all; but I'll be a comfort to you as long as I live.'

Rina untwisted her coarse apron from its rolledup position round her waist, and hid her face, as she sobbed aloud in a passion of grief.

“I am very sorry, Rina," said Linda Conway, as soon as she could hear herself speak. “How did




[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

it happen that Owen got into such trouble after all?"

“I tell you he had done nothing but be a good boy to me," said Rina, angrily. “ Ask Squire Hardie, at the White House yonder—White Court they call it, it's black enough to me-ask him, I say, what he did to 'tice Owen from his home and his grandmother. He will tell you it was to make his fortune; but if he spoke the truth he might say that his brother Leonard out there wanted some trusty workmen and servants sent to him, so he 'ticed the only one I had to trust to. And Miss Hardie encouraged that girl 'Lisbeth, whom I hated, to get married to him, and they went off to foreign parts. What was it to them if Rina Cliffe was left to fret herself to her grave ?”

Owen will find he has chosen a good kind little wife,” remarked Linda; “and perhaps by the time they come back to England you may have learnt to value her for his sake.”

“If she's to come back with him,” said Rina, in jealous anger, “I hope he'll never see this country again. I was mad with vexation this morning when Squire Hardie said something about his coming home with his pockets lined. Thank you kindly,' says I, ‘for transporting him ; convicts

« AnteriorContinuar »