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pass away the time and be taught by her wisdom, as if hard times weren't a mighty sight powerfuller teachers than fine ladies and rectors' wives and daughters. But her's real good, and were rare kind to me long ago; and though all that soon came to an end, it were . none of her fault. She's a deal nearer heaven,
I guess, than the likes of me, or maybe you either. Yet if you have been sweet upon her, and she have but looked on you to listen to you—though knowing summat of you both, I'm free to confess,' owned Honor candidly, 'I do not see as how that could be—still, if them words you have spoken ain't no more than the outcome of some quarrel between you two, I tell you, lad, I don't want to listen to a fellow mad with rage and jealousy. I shan't come between you. Go and make it up with the fine young lady, and let me be. I'll forget your words before you're out of the door. I'm none so set on a man, or on being Lady Thwaite,' she said, with a toss of her head,
that I should bear them in mind and plague you for your hasty folly.
You're all out, Honor,' he answered, with a loud laugh, 'except in not being able to see how metal and clay could mix together. Miss Compton would no more quarrel with me than she would quarrel with the servant at the back of her chair;' he ground his teeth as he made the illustration. “Her single word with him would be to dismiss him from her presence and forbid him ever to enter it again. So you see, though she may be good—I would be lying like a trooper if I pretended she were not good-she ain't good to me. I'll never speak to her again while we live. I tell you I have done with the whole small fry of ladies and gentlemen in which she was the single creature worth a sigh. What is the use of a man's succeeding to land and money if he cannot please himself? I have found out that at last, and if you and Abe won't have me, Honor, I don't know what is to become of me. Perhaps, as nobody wants me, I had better put a bullet through my head, and have done with it all, at once.'
‘Not so fast as that, Will; and who says as nobody wants you? I want you, and I'll do my best to make up to you, and be a good wife, as I would have been to poor Hughie. You have heard of Hughie Guild ? I ben't a bit ashamed of Hughie, not at this moment, when I seems to be giving up the last thought
of him,' she went on, with a flash of her eyes and a swell of her fine throat. I ain't going to hide what him and me were to each other, when we walked out on the long summer nights, and met for a word in the frosty winter mornings, and my heart was tender and trusty, like his'n. Oh! I doubt I was better worth looking at, and speaking to both, in them faroff days than I am now,' she exclaimed wistfully, with a glance at the black gown she still wore for Hughie, and a twitch at one of the ends of the red handkerchief. Then she struck a chord in perfect harmony with his mood, 'I don't want to have secrets from you.'
You're right there,' he said with emphasis. Secrets be hanged! We've done with them for ever, and there shan't stand one between you and me.' He clasped her hands, and drew her unresisting towards him. “I tell you, Honor, I thought I should have died, or burst out cursing, and shouting aloud my story, with an adder's nest of secrets in my breast stinging night and day. Now it will go hard with us, my lass, if we can't be enough for ourselves, and have a jolly good time while it lasts. We're young, and strong, and have a liking for each other. There's plenty of life
before us, and surely it holds something worth taking for us still. Let your Hughie sleephe's the best off after all ; I'll not rake him up, and you'll not cast Nhilpoor in my teeth, though you have heard all about it. We're quits and we're equals; only, I take it, you are made of kinder and truer stuff than I. A woman that ain't bad, or that ain't akin to the angels—when her very goodness robs her of earthly feelings, has more heart than a man for the most part. I know you've been a trifle wild on moonlight nights and misty mornings with the snares, ay, and the guns, among my birds and hares, mine-do you hear, Honor ? I could have you up before the justices, before Mr. Hollis, who called himself my friend the other night. You'll have to be mortal kind and give me all my own way to keep me from taking the law on you. And what about the wild-ducks that flew over from Mistley Down? Have you been seeking their eggs lately, or are the nests flown? They are all yours now, every bird and beast, bush and furrow. You and your father will have to keep my preserves, in good faith, when neither him nor you will ever need to poach on them or any other again.'
'It is handsome in you to put it in that way,' said Honor frankly. Then she added, after a moment's reflection, with an echo both of humour and sadness in her tone: ‘But I doubt half the fun will be gone.
Old Abe strayed in to be dumfounded by the most astounding tale that ever shook the nerve of keeper or squatter. The Squire, Sir William, was going to marry straight away, without either compunction, commotion, or concealment, the daughter of his servant, the least reputable of his servants, the underkeeper, suspected of being in league with the poachers. And his strapping randy of a daughter, the bride-elect, who was all but the widow of a young poacher that had died in gaol, had been an active sharer in her father's misdeeds.
• It ain't to be believed,' cried Abe, though the incredible tale was to the marvellous exaltation of himself and his family. It can't be; who ever heard tell of such a marriage ?
Why, it was the very marriage made by my great-grandfather, Abe, or I should not have been here,' said Sir William, laughing.
'No, no; he weren't the head of the house or like to be, only one of a litter of young puppies. And the keeper as he connected his