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degrading conviction, the same vacancy. Why do I, therefore, torment myself with speculations on what is, and must be, my destiny ?-Those dried leaves that I see rolling about, now taken up in eddies by the wind, and floating in mazy circles in mid air-now scattered far and wide to mingle with the dust, are doubtless made to fulfil their destiny; and I shall, I conclude, fill mine, just like them, just like every body and every thing else, without knowing why or wherefore.” Lord Mowbray forgot he was endowed with other faculties than the leaf of the desert, or the breath of the blast.
As the carriage passed through the little hamlet of Abbotsbury, composed chiefly of fishermen's huts, many of its hardy inhabitants, with their wives and families, prompted by curiosity, thronged the highway to catch a glimpse of the new Lord of the Castle, and to indulge in conjecture whether they should be the better for his presence. No advantages certainly had accrued to them, or the surrounding district, from his immediate predecessor, who, whether from dislike to the residence, or from indolence, had never lived among them; and had scarcely even visited this property, though derived from an ancient line of noble ancestry, and justly therefore entitled to his care. The consequences of such an absence, and the apparent neglect attached to it, had long been felt, and at length became visible in an almost hereditary dislike to the very name of Mowbray; so that the present successor to its wealth and honours found himself at the same time doomed, however innocently, to inherit a proportion of the odium thus unfortunately incurred. As the gathering crowd gazed at the equipage on its way to the humble inn, this feeling evinced itself in a thousand little incidents and Lord Mowbray, descending from the carriage, walked forward whilst the horses were refreshed.
At a cottage on the skirts of the hamlet, he perceived an elderly woman standing on the threshold, who called loudly to a man that followed close behind Lord Mowbray. “I say, Jem, hast seen um? -I wonder what thou'st been at the pains to come so far for. This new one will be just as bad as the old, I doubt not. You know, the leases are to be set, and he's only çum'd to see what he can get. I would not stir a step to look on him, not l; for all the good we have ever got from t'other is his dead bones, that are brought home to be buried in the family vault to-morrow.
“One may hear something worth hearing,” said Lord Mowbray to himself, “ even where one least expects it.'
At that moment, the outriders and the carriage came up-it
stopped—the step was let down. Its splendour and that of the servants dazzled the eyes of the old cottager. She dropped many obsequious curtseys; and, as Lord Mowbray returned her civility with a low bow, she stood rooted to the spot with amazement, and something too of terror, at the idea that the new Lord, as she called him, of the Castle had overheard her conversation.
At a very short distance, Mowbray Castle became visible, standing finely upon a bold and projecting rock which jutted into the sea; its situation being rendered still more magnificent and commanding from the flatness of the surrounding ground. It had been a place of strength in the days of the Eighth Harry, whose prudence caused the coast towards France to be guarded with many a fortress of similar description; and it had continued so till the jealousy of the Puritans, during the Civil Wars, had led to the dismantling of every strong-hold wrested from the Cavaliers, lest the fortune of war might again place them in the hands of their former owners. No-, thing now remained, therefore, of the original warlike greatness of Mowbray Castle, save a few vestiges, which were only to be traced by the antiquary; but, as a castellated building, it had an imposing air, and, standing forth in fearless defiance of the raging element of waters, to which it was exposed, it claimed a tribute of admiration from its very loneliness: time too, with its magic hand, bad spread over the ruins that vague and indefinite interest which it ever sheds, even over the beauty it destroys; and recollection, therefore, was busy in association. The park attached to the Castle, though it had small title to the name, was a vast, barren piece of land, with here and there a stunted tree, bent from the blasts of the sea, that made desolation appear more desolate. A few patches of yellow blossomed furze were interspersed among the white rocks that lay scattered over its surface, with a sprinkling of the sea-daisy raising its hardy flower in that short thymy herbage, where the sheep found sweet but scanty pasture. A pretty steep descent led through this barren scene to a piece of marshy flat ground, which at certain times of the tide was completely covered by the sea, and must have cut off all communication with the fortress except by water. The ruins of a drawbridge, which lay scattered around, told that this circumstance had once been a valuable defence to its inhabitants; but now a little boat, fastened to the stump of some decayed tree, afforded a ready access to every passenger, when, during the high tides, it might not be safe to cross the inlet. “I do not wonder,' said Lord Mowbray, as the carriage jolted alternately over the huge
stones imbedded in the sand, and then sank half-way up the wheels in water—“I do not wonder that my kinsman did not choose to reside here; nothing short of a wild-duck would voluntarily inhabit these regions."
“I don't know that, my Lord. I am not of your opinion : first, because there is a pleasure in property exceeding most pleasures; secondly, because, even in indolent characters, there is a pride in doing good, when that good can be done easily; and where beneficial power may be most extensively exerted, and its effects most sensibly and immediately acknowledged, this is a pleasure equalled by few others, and is one that is tacitly felt by all. Believe me, it would have been better if the late Lord Mowbray had resided more here.”
“ Better P” said his companion, in replying to him by a species of interrogation ; and then added, after a pause—“ Perhaps, it would have been better.”
No sooner did the carriage begin to ascend the hill on which the Castle stood, than a number of persons, whom they had not perceived before, came forward, seemingly to meet and offer their rude congratulations to the new Lord. " Who are these?” asked Lord Mowbray.
“Oh!” doubtless, some of the tenantry on your estates, who are assembled to do bonour to your arrival, and to show respect to your cousin's remains."
“ Ah!" thought Lord Mowbray, " these people, then, are of a disferent opinion from those of Abbotsbury.”
Whatever were their real feelings, the crowd which now advanced evinced much more outward attachment to the family than Lord Mowbray could have anticipated from the first welcome in the neighbouring bamlet ; and he was falling into a train of reflection on the subject, when a man, apparently of command by his manner, pushed through the group, and came forward to the carriage-door. “ Welcome, your Lordship! welcome to the Castle!” he said, in a tone of assumed congratulation; but in which was evidently mingled an expression of doubt, lest his arrival might prove unwelcome to the speaker. “I fear, my Lord, your Lordship will find the accommodation in this ruined dwelling but little what it ought to be; but I have done my best in the short interval since I heard your Lordship’s intentions were to come.”
“ The steward, I presume?” said Lord Mowbray, as he turned to Colonel Pennington for information. He was going to reply, when
he perceived that the motley group, in advance of the carriage, had already detached the horses, and were about to drag him in triumph up the ascent.
“ No, no !” cried Lord Mowbray, putting his head out of the carriage-" no, no; I will walk up, thank you." And opening the coach-door, sprang out, followed by his companion.
The steward now made way through the throng, which however closed as soon as Lord Mowbray and the Colonel had passed, and pressed eagerly after them, uttering loud and repeated shouts of welcome. One among the rest, a tall, lean, large-boned figure, proved the most noisy and troublesome of these attendants, and both in voice and appearance excited Lord Mowbray's disgust. His eyes, twisted in every possible direction, looked across a nose of extraordinary length, which, dyed of the deepest red, showed the pale and sallow complexion of his face, by contrast made more hideous; while a perpetual grin seemed to distort his countenance, as he endeavoured to make himself heard in the general confusion of tongues. " I wish the fellow would not torment me so," said Lord Mowbray; “ Who is he?”
This question, asked at random, was quickly answered by a little square-set man, with a black hanging brow and a deep scar on one cheek, who pushed his head over Lord Mowbray's shoulder! “Oh that, your Lordship, is the Gentle Shepherd, well known in these parts, and in many distant ones. Every body knows Smiling Bill. He's the man, and please you, my Lord, who has the care of all your honour's cattle; there's not a sheep-path over the country that he does not know as well as the sheep themselves.”
" And, pray," asked Lord Mowbray, perceiving that Smiling Bill had given place to his informant, and willing to protect himself from the former by continuing his inquiries,—"and pray, what is your post in these parts--who are you?”
“Oh! they calls me, my Lord, the Wandering Sailor; but my real name is Ben Hardy. I have been here and hereabouts, man and boy, these forty years. I am a lone man, your Lordship; have no soul of kith or kin to speak a word for me, or to give me a kind look. I have eaten my bread in the sweat of my brow; I have made my bed where I might; I have done a job here and a job there, first for one, then for t'other : nobody ever thanked poor Ben. Now if your Honour would only take my hard case into your thoughts, I might be made watchman or errand-man, and get an honest livelikood,”
" Have you not always done so, then ?" questioned Lord Mowbray, looking hard at him, as if he doubted the fact.
Always, your Honour ? Have I not always done so ? Why, there's a puzzling question, now. As if I could go back forty years, and remember what I have always done! Your Honour has not lived so long, I doubt, by some few; and could you remember all the days and every day of your life? no, to be sure! A gentleman's memory is not to be ransacked in such a manner as that; and if not a gentleman's, who knows so much better, why, then, surely not a poor man's, of whom less is expected !”
“ You are an ingenious fellow, at least,” said Lord Mowbray;“ I will not forget you.”
“ Thank you, my Lord; thank your Lordship!” vociferated Ben, as he made his way back into the crowd, shouting another loud welcome in acknowledgment of the success of his suit.
There is no saying where the number of applicants would have stopped, after the gracious reception given to Ben Hardy, bad not the steward, turning round as he reached the top of the ascent, perceived the throng striving with each other, and struggling who should be the first to approach Lord Mowbray. Calling to them with a tremendous voice, and brandishing the staff that he held ex officio, in his right hand, he bade them stand off; then moving at the same moment a few steps forward, appeared ready to enforce his orders in a still more peremptory manner.
To those who happen to have witnessed the lashing-off a pack of hounds, when running dead in upon the object of their pursuit, the sudden check produced on the yelping and wrangling crew at Lord Mowbray’s heels may perhaps be intelligible. In an instant all was silent, except the grinding of the teeth, and a low muttering which proceeded from some few of the boldest and most forward of the group, and whose looks showed that they rather respected the presence of their future lord, than the command of the man in authority.
Colonel Pennington took Lord Mowbray's arm, and as they quickened their pace to reach the summit, whispered in his ear, “ A sad raggamuffin band! but I am glad to see, at any rate, that they are under some control.”
They now stood upon the greensward that surrounded the Castle on every side save one: on that, the building rose abruptly from the very edge of the rock, and seemed to form a part of it. The head grew dizzy, as the eye, looking on the diminished waves beneath,