The House on the Beach
Part 2 out of 2
"You say it so capitally, Crickledon."
"And then old Tinman said, 'And a D. to you; and if I lift my finger,
it's Big D. on your back."
"And what did Mr. Smith say, then?"
"He said, like a man shot, my husband says he said, 'My God!'"
Herbert Fellingham jumped away from the table.
"You tell me, Crickledon, your husband actually heard that--just those
"My husband says he heard him say, 'My God!' just like a poor man shot or
stabbed. You may speak to Crickledon, if you speaks to him alone, sir.
I say you ought to know. For I've noticed Mr. Smith since that day has
never looked to me the same easy-minded happy gentleman he was when we
first knew him. He would have had me go to cook for him at Elba, but
Crickledon thought I'd better be independent, and Mr. Smith said to me,
'Perhaps you're right, Crickledon, for who knows how long I may be among
Herbert took the solace of tobacco in Crickledon's shop. Thence, with
the story confirmed to him, he sauntered toward the house on the beach.
The moon was over sea. Coasting vessels that had run into the bay for
shelter from the North wind lay with their shadows thrown shoreward on
the cold smooth water, almost to the verge of the beach, where there was
neither breath nor sound of wind, only the lisp at the pebbles.
Mrs. Crickledon's dinner and the state of his heart made young Fellingham
indifferent to a wintry atmosphere. It sufficed him that the night was
fair. He stretched himself on the shingle, thinking of the Manzanilla,
and Annette, and the fine flavour given to tobacco by a dry still air in
moonlight--thinking of his work, too, in the background, as far as mental
lassitude would allow of it. The idea of taking Annette to see his first
play at the theatre when it should be performed--was very soothing. The
beach rather looked like a stage, and the sea like a ghostly audience,
with, if you will, the broadside bulks of black sailing craft at anchor
for representatives of the newspaper piers. Annette was a nice girl; if
a little commonplace and low-born, yet sweet. What a subject he could
make of her father! "The Deserter" offered a new complication.
Fellingham rapidly sketched it in fancy--Van Diemen, as a Member of the
Parliament of Great Britain, led away from the House of Commons to be
branded on the bank! What a magnificent fall! We have so few intensely
dramatic positions in English real life that the meditative author grew
enamoured of this one, and laughed out a royal "Ha!" like a monarch
reviewing his well-appointed soldiery.
"There you are," said Van Diemen's voice; "I smelt your pipe. You're a
rum fellow, to belying out on the beach on a cold night. Lord! I don't
like you the worse for it. Twas for the romance of the moon in my young
"Where is Annette?" said Fellingham, jumping to his feet.
"My daughter? She 's taking leave of her intended."
"What's that?" Fellingham gasped. "Good heavens, Mr. Smith, what do you
"Pick up your pipe, my lad. Girls choose as they please, I suppose"
"Her intended, did you say, sir? What can that mean?"
"My dear good young fellow, don't make a fuss. We're all going to stay
here, and very glad to see you from time to time. The fact is, I
oughtn't to have quarrelled with Mart Tinman as I've done; I'm too
peppery by nature. The fact is, I struck him, and he forgave it.
I could n't have done that myself. And I believe I'm in for a headache
to-morrow; upon my soul, I do. Mart Tinman would champagne us; but,
poor old boy, I struck him, and I couldn't make amends--didn't see my
way; and we joined hands over the glass--to the deuce with the glass!--
and the end of it is, Netty--she did n't propose it, but as I'm in his
--I say, as I had struck him, she--it was rather solemn, if you had seen
us--she burst into tears, and there was Mrs. Cavely, and old Mart, and me
as big a fool--if I'm not a villain!"
Fellingham perceived a more than common effect of Tin man's wine. He
touched Van Diemen on the shoulder. "May I beg to hear exactly what has
"Upon my soul, we're all going to live comfortably in Old England, and no
more quarreling and decamping," was the stupid rejoinder. "Except that I
did n't exactly--I think you said I exactly'?--I did n't bargain for old
Mart as my--but he's a sound man; Mart's my junior; he's rich. He's eco
. . . he's eco . . . you know--my Lord! where's my brains?--but
"An economical man," said Fellingham, with sedate impatience.
"My dear sir, I'm heartily obliged to you for your assistance," returned
Van Diemen. "Here she is."
Annette had come out of the gate in the flint wall. She started slightly
on seeing Herbert, whom she had taken for a coastguard, she said. He
bowed. He kept his head bent, peering at her intrusively.
"It's the air on champagne," Van Diemen said, calling on his lungs to
clear themselves and right him. "I was n't a bit queer in the house."
"The air on Tinman's champagne!" said Fellingham.
"It must be like the contact of two hostile chemical elements."
Annette walked faster.
They descended from the shingle to the scant-bladed grass-sweep running
round the salted town-refuse on toward Elba. Van Diemen sniffed,
ejaculating, "I'll be best man with Mart Tinman about this business!
You'll stop with us, Mr.----what's your Christian name? Stop with us as
long as you like. Old friends for me! The joke of it is that Nelson was
my man, and yet I went and enlisted in the cavalry. If you talk of
chemical substances, old Mart Tinman was a sneak who never cared a dump
for his country; and I'm not to speak a single sybbarel about that.....
over there . . . Australia . . . Gippsland! So down he went, clean
over. Very sorry for what we have done. Contrite. Penitent."
"Now we feel the wind a little," said Annette.
Fellingham murmured, "Allow me; your shawl is flying loose."
He laid his hands on her arms, and, pressing her in a tremble, said,
"One sign! It's not true? A word! Do you hate me?"
"Thank you very much, but I am not cold," she replied and linked herself
to her father.
Van Diemen immediately shouted, "For we are jolly boys! for we are jolly
boys! It's the air on the champagne. And hang me," said he, as they
entered the grounds of Elba, "if I don't walk over my property."
Annette interposed; she stood like a reed in his way.
"No! my Lord! I'll see what I sold you for!" he cried. "I'm an owner
of the soil of Old England, and care no more for the title of squire than
Napoleon Bonaparty. But I'll tell you what, Mr. Hubbard: your mother was
never so astonished at her dog as old Van Diemen would be to hear himself
called squire in Old England. And a convict he was, for he did wrong
once, but he worked his redemption. And the smell of my own property
makes me feel my legs again. And I'll tell you what, Mr. Hubbard, as
Netty calls you when she speaks of you in private: Mart Tinman's ideas of
wine are pretty much like his ideas of healthy smells, and when I'm
bailiff of Crikswich, mind, he'll find two to one against him in our town
council. I love my country, but hang me if I don't purify it--"
Saying this, with the excitement of a high resolve a upon him, Van Diemen
bored through a shrubbery-brake, and Fellingham said to Annette:
"Have I lost you?"
"I belong to my father," said she, contracting and disengaging her
feminine garments to step after him in the cold silver-spotted dusk of
the winter woods.
Van Diemen came out on a fish-pond.
"Here you are, young ones!" he said to the pair. "This way, Fellowman.
I'm clearer now, and it's my belief I've been talking nonsense. I'm
puffed up with money, and have n't the heart I once had. I say,
Fellowman, Fellowbird, Hubbard--what's your right name?--fancy an old
carp fished out of that pond and flung into the sea. That's exile!
And if the girl don't mind, what does it matter?"
"Mr. Herbert Fellingham, I think, would like to go to bed, papa," said
"Miss Smith must be getting cold," Fellingham hinted.
"Bounce away indoors," replied Van Diemen, and he led them like a bull.
Annette was disinclined to leave them together in the smoking-room, and
under the pretext of wishing to see her father to bed she remained with
them, though there was a novel directness and heat of tone in Herbert
that alarmed her, and with reason. He divined in hideous outlines what
had happened. He was no longer figuring on easy ice, but desperate at
the prospect of a loss to himself, and a fate for Annette, that tossed
him from repulsion to incredulity, and so back.
Van Diemen begged him to light his pipe.
"I'm off to London to-morrow," said Fellingham. "I don't want to go, for
very particular reasons; I may be of more use there. I have a cousin
who's a General officer in the army, and if I have your permission--you
see, anything's better, as it seems to me, than that you should depend
for peace and comfort on one man's tongue not wagging, especially when he
is not the best of tempers if I have your permission--without mentioning
names, of course--I'll consult him."
There was a dead silence.
"You know you may trust me, sir. I love your daughter with all my heart.
Your honour and your interests are mine."
Van Diemen struggled for composure.
"Netty, what have you been at?" he said.
"It is untrue, papa!" she answered the unworded accusation.
"Annette has told me nothing, sir. I have heard it. You must brace your
mind to the fact that it is known. What is known to Mr. Tinman is pretty
sure to be known generally at the next disagreement."
"That scoundrel Mart!" Van Diemen muttered.
"I am positive Mr. Tinman did not speak of you, papa," said Annette, and
turned her eyes from the half-paralyzed figure of her father on Herbert
to put him to proof.
"No, but he made himself heard when it was being discussed. At any rate,
it's known; and the thing to do is to meet it."
"I'm off. I'll not stop a day. I'd rather live on the Continent," said
Van Diemen, shaking himself, as to prepare for the step into that desert.
"Mr. Tinman has been most generous!" Annette protested tearfully.
"I won't say no: I think you are deceived and lend him your own
generosity," said Herbert. "Can you suppose it generous, that even in
the extremest case, he should speak of the matter to your father, and
talk of denouncing him? He did it."
"He was provoked."
"A gentleman is distinguished by his not allowing himself to be
"I am engaged to him, and I cannot hear it said that he is not a
The first part of her sentence Annette uttered bravely; at the conclusion
she broke down. She wished Herbert to be aware of the truth, that he
might stay his attacks on Mr. Tinman; and she believed he had only been
guessing the circumstances in which her father was placed; but the
comparison between her two suitors forced itself on her now, when the
younger one spoke in a manner so self-contained, brief, and full of
She had to leave the room weeping.
"Has your daughter engaged herself, sir?" said Herbert,
"Talk to me to-morrow; don't give us up if she has we were trapped, it's
my opinion," said Van Diemen. "There's the devil in that wine of--Mart
Tinman's. I feel it still, and in the morning it'll be worse. What can
she see in him? I must quit the country; carry her off. How he did it,
I don't know. It was that woman, the widow, the fellow's sister. She
talked till she piped her eye--talked about our lasting union. On my
soul, I believe I egged Netty on! I was in a mollified way with that
wine; all of a sudden the woman joins their hands! And I--a man of
spirit will despise me!--what I thought of was, "now my secret's safe!
You've sobered me, young sir. I see myself, if that's being sober.
I don't ask your opinion of me; I am a deserter, false to my colours,
a breaker of his oath. Only mark this: I was married, and a common
trooper, married to a handsome young woman, true as steel; but she was
handsome, and we were starvation poor, and she had to endure persecution
from an officer day by day. Bear that situation in your mind. . . .
Providence dropped me a hundred pounds out of the sky. Properly
speaking, it popped up out of the earth, for I reaped it, you may say,
from a relative's grave. Rich and poor 's all right, if I'm rich and
you're poor; and you may be happy though you're poor; but where there are
many poor young women, lots of rich men are a terrible temptation to
them. That's my dear good wife speaking, and had she been spared to me
I never should have come back to Old England, and heart's delight and
heartache I should not have known. She was my backbone, she was my
breast-comforter too. Why did she stick to me? Because I had faith in
her when appearances were against her. But she never forgave this
country the hurt to her woman's pride. You'll have noticed a squarish
jaw in Netty. That's her mother. And I shall have to encounter it,
supposing I find Mart Tinman has been playing me false. I'm blown on
somehow. I'll think of what course I'll take 'twixt now and morning.
Good night, young gentleman."
"Good night; sir," said Herbert, adding, "I will get information from the
Horse Guards; as for the people knowing it about here, you're not living
much in society--"
"It's not other people's feelings, it's my own," Van Diemen silenced him.
"I feel it, if it's in the wind; ever since Mart Tinman spoke the thing
out, I've felt on my skin cold and hot."
He flourished his lighted candle and went to bed, manifestly solaced by
the idea that he was the victim of his own feelings.
Herbert could not sleep. Annette's monstrous choice of Tinman in
preference to himself constantly assailed and shook his understanding.
There was the "squarish jaw" mentioned by her father to think of. It
filled him with a vague apprehension, but he was unable to imagine that
a young girl, and an English girl, and an enthusiastic young English
girl, could be devoid of sentiment; and presuming her to have it, as one
must, there was no fear, that she would persist in her loathsome choice
when she knew her father was against it.
Annette did not shun him next morning. She did not shun the subject,
either. But she had been exact in arranging that she should not be more
than a few minutes downstairs before her father. Herbert found, that
compared with her, girls of sentiment are commonplace indeed. She had
conceived an insane idea of nobility in Tinman that blinded her to his
face, figure, and character--his manners, likewise. He had forgiven a
Silly as the delusion might be, it clothed her in whimsical
It was a beauty in her to dwell so firmly upon moral quality. Overthrown
and stunned as he was, and reduced to helplessness by her brief and
positive replies, Herbert was obliged to admire the singular young lady,
who spoke, without much shyness, of her incongruous, destined mate though
his admiration had an edge cutting like irony. While in the turn for
candour, she ought to have told him, that previous to her decision she
had weighed the case of the diverse claims of himself and Tinman, and
resolved them according to her predilection for the peaceful residence
of her father and herself in England. This she had done a little
regretfully, because of the natural sympathy of the young girl for the
younger man. But the younger man had seemed to her seriously-
straightforward mind too light and airy in his wooing, like one of her
waltzing officers--very well so long as she stepped the measure with him,
and not forcible enough to take her off her feet. He had changed, and
now that he had become persuasive, she feared he would disturb the
serenity with which she desired and strove to contemplate her decision.
Tinman's magnanimity was present in her imagination to sustain her,
though she was aware that Mrs. Cavely had surprised her will, and caused
it to surrender unconsulted by her wiser intelligence.
"I cannot listen to you," she said to Herbert, after listening longer
than was prudent. "If what you say of papa is true, I do not think he
will remain in Crikswich, or even in England. But I am sure the old
friend we used, to speak of so much in Australia has not wilfully
Herbert would have had to say, "Look on us two!" to proceed in his
baffled wooing; and the very ludicrousness of the contrast led him to see
the folly and shame of proposing it.
Van Diemen came down to breakfast looking haggard and restless. "I have
'nt had my morning's walk--I can't go out to be hooted," he said, calling
to his daughter for tea, and strong tea; and explaining to Herbert that
he knew it to be bad for the nerves, but it was an antidote to bad
Mr. Herbert Fellingham had previously received an invitation on behalf of
a sister of his to Crikswich. A dull sense of genuine sagacity inspired
him to remind Annette of it. She wrote prettily to Miss Mary Fellingham,
and Herbert had some faint joy in carrying away the letter of her
"Fetch her soon, for we sha'n't be here long," Van Diemen said to him at
parting. He expressed a certain dread of his next meeting with Mart
Herbert speedily brought Mary Fellingham to Elba, and left her there.
The situation was apparently unaltered. Van Diemen looked worn, like a
man who has been feeding mainly on his reflections, which was manifest in
his few melancholy bits of speech. He said to Herbert: "How you feel a
thing when you are found out!" and, "It doesn't do for a man with a
heart to do wrong!" He designated the two principal roads by which poor
sinners come to a conscience. His own would have slumbered but for
discovery; and, as he remarked, if it had not been for his heart leading
him to Tinman, he would not have fallen into that man's power.
The arrival of a young lady of fashionable appearance at Elba was matter
of cogitation to Mrs. Cavely. She was disposed to suspect that it meant
something, and Van Diemen's behaviour to her brother would of itself have
fortified any suspicion. He did not call at the house on the beach, he
did not invite Martin to dinner, he was rarely seen, and when he appeared
at the Town Council he once or twice violently opposed his friend Martin,
who came home ruffled, deeply offended in his interests and his dignity.
"Have you noticed any difference in Annette's treatment of you, dear?"
Mrs. Cavely inquired.
"No," said Tinman; "none. She shakes hands. She asks after my health.
She offers me my cup of tea."
"I have seen all that. But does she avoid privacy with you?"
"Dear me, no! Why should she? I hope, Martha, I am a man who may be
confided in by any young lady in England."
"I am sure you may, dear Martin."
"She has an objection to name the . . . the day," said Martin.
"I have informed her that I have an objection to long engagements.
I don't like her new companion: She says she has been presented at Court.
I greatly doubt it."
"It's to give herself a style, you may depend. I don't believe her!"
exclaimed Mrs. Cavely, with sharp personal asperity.
Brother and sister examined together the Court Guide they had purchased
on the occasion at once of their largest outlay and most thrilling
gratification; in it they certainly found the name of General Fellingham.
"But he can't be related to a newspaper-writer," said Mrs. Cavely.
To which her brother rejoined, "Unless the young man turned scamp. I
hate unproductive professions."
"I hate him, Martin." Mrs. Cavely laughed in scorn, "I should say, I
pity him. It's as clear to me as the sun at noonday, he wanted Annette.
That's why I was in a hurry. How I dreaded he would come that evening
to our dinner! When I saw him absent, I could have cried out it was
Providence! And so be careful--we have had everything done for us from
on High as yet--but be careful of your temper, dear Martin. I will
hasten on the union; for it's a shame of a girl to drag a man behind her
till he 's old at the altar. Temper, dear, if you will only think of it,
is the weak point."
"Now he has begun boasting to me of his Australian wines!" Tinman
"Bear it. Bear it as you do Gippsland. My dear, you have the retort in
your heart:--Yes! but have you a Court in Australia?"
"Ha! and his Australian wines cost twice the amount I pay for mine!"
"Quite true. We are not obliged to buy them, I should hope. I would,
though--a dozen--if I thought it necessary, to keep him quiet."
Tinman continued muttering angrily over the Australian wines, with a word
of irritation at Gippsland, while promising to be watchful of his temper.
"What good is Australia to us," he asked, "if it does n't bring us
"It's going to, my dear," said Mrs. Cavely. "Think of that when he
begins boasting his Australia. And though it's convict's money, as he
"With his convict's money!" Tinman interjected tremblingly. "How long
am I expected to wait?"
"Rely on me to hurry on the day," said Mrs. Cavely. "There is no other
"Wherever I am going to buy, that man outbids me and then says it's the
old country's want of pluck and dash, and doing things large-handed!
A man who'd go on his knees to stop in England!" Tinman vociferated in
a breath; and fairly reddened by the effort: "He may have to do it yet.
I can't stand insult."
"You are less able to stand insult after Honours," his sister said, in
obedience to what she had observed of him since his famous visit to
London. "It must be so, in nature. But temper is everything just now.
Remember, it was by command of temper, and letting her father put himself
in the wrong, you got hold of Annette. And I would abstain even from
wine. For sometimes after it, you have owned it disagreed. And I have
noticed these eruptions between you and Mr. Smith--as he calls himself
--generally after wine."
"Always the poor! the poor! money for the poor!" Tinman harped on further
grievances against Van Diemen. "I say doctors have said the drain on the
common is healthy; it's a healthy smell, nourishing. We've always had it
and been a healthy town. But the sea encroaches, and I say my house and
my property is in danger. He buys my house over my head, and offers me
the Crouch to live in at an advanced rent. And then he sells me my house
at an advanced price, and I buy, and then he votes against a penny for
the protection of the shore! And we're in Winter again! As if he was
not in my power!"
"My dear Martin, to Elba we go, and soon, if you will govern your
temper," said Mrs. Cavely. "You're an angel to let me speak of it so,
and it's only that man that irritates you. I call him sinfully
"I could blow him from a gun if I spoke out, and he knows it! He's
wanting in common gratitude, let alone respect," Tinman snorted.
"But he has a daughter, my dear."
Tinman slowly and crackingly subsided.
His main grievance against Van Diemen was the non-recognition of his
importance by that uncultured Australian, who did not seem to be
conscious of the dignities and distinctions we come to in our country.
The moneyed daughter, the prospective marriage, for an economical
man rejected by every lady surrounding him, advised him to lock up his
temper in submission to Martha.
"Bring Annette to dine with us," he said, on Martha's proposing a visit
to the dear young creature.
Martha drank a glass of her brother's wine at lunch, and departed on the
Annette declined to be brought. Her excuse was her guest, Miss
"Bring her too, by all means--if you'll condescend, I am sure," Mrs.
Cavely said to Mary.
"I am much obliged to you; I do not dine out at present," said the London
"Dear me! are you ill?"
"Nothing in the family, I hope?"
"I am sure, I beg pardon," said Mrs. Cavely, bridling with a spite
pardonable by the severest moralist.
"Can I speak to you alone?" she addressed Annette.
Miss Fellingham rose.
Mrs. Cavely confronted her. "I can't allow it; I can't think of it.
I'm only taking a little liberty with one I may call my future sister-in-
"Shall I come out with you?" said Annette, in sheer lassitude assisting
Mary Fellingham in her scheme to show the distastefulness of this lady
and her brother.
"Not if you don't wish to."
"I have no objection."
"Another time will do."
"Will you write?"
"By post indeed!"
Mrs. Cavely delivered a laugh supposed to, be peculiar to the English
"It would be a penny thrown away," said Annette. "I thought you could
send a messenger."
Intercommunication with Miss Fellingham had done mischief to her high
moral conception of the pair inhabiting the house on the beach. Mrs.
Cavely saw it, and could not conceal that she smarted.
Her counsel to her brother, after recounting the offensive scene to him
in animated dialogue, was, to give Van Diemen a fright.
"I wish I had not drunk that glass of sherry before starting," she
exclaimed, both savagely and sagely. "It's best after business. And
these gentlemen's habits of yours of taking to dining late upset me.
I'm afraid I showed temper; but you, Martin, would not have borne one-
tenth of what I did."
"How dare you say so!" her brother rebuked her indignantly; and the house
on the beach enclosed with difficulty a storm between brother and sister,
happily not heard outside, because of loud winds raging.
Nevertheless Tinman pondered on Martha's idea of the wisdom of giving Van
Diemen a fright.
The English have been called a bad-tempered people, but this is to judge
of them by their manifestations; whereas an examination into causes might
prove them to be no worse tempered than that man is a bad sleeper who
lies in a biting bed. If a sagacious instinct directs them to
discountenance realistic tales, the realistic tale should justify its
appearance by the discovery of an apology for the tormented souls. Once
they sang madrigals, once they danced on the green, they revelled in
their lusty humours, without having recourse to the pun for fun, an
exhibition of hundreds of bare legs for jollity, a sentimental wailing
all in the throat for music. Evidence is procurable that they have been
an artificially-reared people, feeding on the genius of inventors,
transposers, adulterators, instead of the products of nature, for the
last half century; and it is unfair to affirm of them that they are
positively this or that. They are experiments. They are the sons and
victims of a desperate Energy, alluring by cheapness, satiating with
quantity, that it may mount in the social scale, at the expense of their
tissues. The land is in a state of fermentation to mount, and the shop,
which has shot half their stars to their social zenith, is what verily
they would scald themselves to wash themselves free of. Nor is it in any
degree a reprehensible sign that they should fly as from hue and cry the
title of tradesman. It is on the contrary the spot of sanity, which bids
us right cordially hope. Energy, transferred to the moral sense, may
clear them yet.
Meanwhile this beer, this wine, both are of a character to have killed
more than the tempers of a less gifted people. Martin Tinman invited Van
Diemen Smith to try the flavour of a wine that, as he said, he thought of
It has been hinted before of a strange effect upon the minds of men who
knew what they were going to, when they received an invitation to dine
with Tinman. For the sake of a little social meeting at any cost, they
accepted it; accepted it with a sigh, midway as by engineering
measurement between prospective and retrospective; as nearly mechanical
as things human may be, like the Mussulman's accustomed cry of Kismet.
Has it not been related of the little Jew babe sucking at its mother's
breast in Jerusalem, that this innocent, long after the Captivity, would
start convulsively, relinquishing its feast, and indulging in the purest.
Hebrew lamentation of the most tenacious of races, at the passing sound
of a Babylonian or a Ninevite voice? In some such manner did men, unable
to refuse, deep in what remained to them of nature, listen to Tinman; and
so did Van Diemen, sighing heavily under the operation of simple animal
"You seem miserable," said Tinman, not oblivious of his design to give
his friend a fright.
"Do I? No, I'm all right," Van Diemen replied. "I'm thinking of
alterations at the Hall before Summer, to accommodate guests--if I stay
"I suppose you would not like to be separated from Annette."
"Separated? No, I should think I shouldn't. Who'd do it?"
"Because I should not like to leave my good sister Martha all to herself
in a house so near the sea--"
"Why not go to the Crouch, man?"
"No thanks needed if you don't take advantage of the offer."
They were at the entrance to Elba, whither Mr. Tinman was betaking
himself to see his intended. He asked if Annette was at home, and to his
great stupefaction heard that she had gone to London for a week.
Dissembling the spite aroused within him, he postponed his very strongly
fortified design, and said, "You must be lonely."
Van Diemen informed him that it would be for a night only, as young
Fellingham was coming down to keep him company.
"At six o'clock this evening, then," said Tinman. "We're not fashionable
"Hang me, if I know when ever we were!" Van Diemen rejoined.
"Come, though, you'd like to be. You've got your ambition, Philip, like
"Respectable and respected--that 's my ambition, Mr. Mart."
Tinman simpered: "With your wealth!"
"Ay, I 'm rich--for a contented mind."
"I 'm pretty sure you 'll approve my new vintage," said Tinman. "It's
direct from Oporto, my wine-merchant tells me, on his word."
"What's the price?"
"No, no, no. Try it first. It's rather a stiff price."
Van Diemen was partially reassured by the announcement. "What do you
call a stiff price?"
"Double that, and you may have a chance."
"Now," cried Tinman, exasperated, "how can a man from Australia know
anything about prices for port? You can't divest your ideas of diggers'
prices. You're like an intoxicating drink yourself on the tradesmen of
our town. You think it fine--ha! ha! I daresay, Philip, I should be
doing the same if I were up to your mark at my banker's. We can't all
of us be lords, nor baronets."
Catching up his temper thus cleverly, he curbed that habitual runaway,
and retired from his old friend's presence to explode in the society of
the solitary Martha.
Annette's behaviour was as bitterly criticized by the sister as by the
"She has gone to those Fellingham people; and she may be thinking of
jilting us," Mrs. Cavely said.
"In that case, I have no mercy," cried her brother. "I have borne"--he
bowed with a professional spiritual humility--"as I should, but it may
get past endurance. I say I have borne enough; and if the worst comes to
the worst, and I hand him over to the authorities--I say I mean him no
harm, but he has struck me. He beat me as a boy and he has struck me as
a man, and I say I have no thought of revenge, but I cannot have him
here; and I say if I drive him out of the country back to his Gippsland!"
Martin Tinman quivered for speech, probably for that which feedeth
speech, as is the way with angry men.
"And what?--what then?" said Martha, with the tender mellifluousness of
sisterly reproach. "What good can you expect of letting temper get the
better of you, dear?"
Tinman did not enjoy her recent turn for usurping the lead in their
consultations, and he said, tartly, "This good, Martha. We shall get the
Hall at my price, and be Head People here. Which," he raised his note,
"which he, a Deserter, has no right to pretend to give himself out to be.
What your feelings may be as an old inhabitant, I don't know, but I have
always looked up to the people at Elba Hall, and I say I don't like to
have a Deserter squandering convict's money there--with his forty-pound-
a-year cook, and his champagne at seventy a dozen. It's the luxury of
Sodom and Gomorrah."
"That does not prevent its being very nice to dine there," said Mrs.
Cavely; "and it shall be our table for good if I have any management."
"You mean me, ma'am," bellowed Tinman.
"Not at all," she breathed, in dulcet contrast. "You are good-looking,
Martin, but you have not half such pretty eyes as the person I mean. I
never ventured to dream of managing you, Martin. I am thinking of the
people at Elba."
"But why this extraordinary treatment of me, Martha?"
"She's a child, having her head turned by those Fellinghams. But she's
honourable; she has sworn to me she would be honourable."
"You do think I may as well give him a fright?" Tinman inquired
"A sort of hint; but very gentle, Martin. Do be gentle--casual like--as
if you did n't want to say it. Get him on his Gippsland. Then if he
brings you to words, you can always laugh back, and say you will go to
Kew and see the Fernery, and fancy all that, so high, on Helvellyn or the
Downs. Why"--Mrs. Cavely, at the end of her astute advices and
cautionings, as usual, gave loose to her natural character--"Why that man
came back to England at all, with his boastings of Gippsland, I can't for
the life of me find out. It 's a perfect mystery."
"It is," Tinman sounded his voice at a great depth, reflectively. Glad
of taking the part she was perpetually assuming of late, he put out his
hand and said: "But it may have been ordained for our good, Martha."
"True, dear," said she, with an earnest sentiment of thankfulness to the
Power which had led him round to her way of thinking and feeling.
Annette had gone to the big metropolis, which burns in colonial
imaginations as the sun of cities, and was about to see something of
London, under the excellent auspices of her new friend, Mary Fellingham,
and a dense fog. She was alarmed by the darkness, a little in fear, too,
of Herbert; and these feelings caused her to chide herself for leaving
Hearing her speak of her father sadly, Herbert kindly proposed to go down
to Crikswich on the very day of her coming. She thanked him, and gave
him a taste of bitterness by smiling favourably on his offer; but as he
wished her to discern and take to heart the difference between one man
and another, in the light of a suitor, he let her perceive that it cost
him heavy pangs to depart immediately, and left her to brood on his
example. Mary Fellingham liked Annette. She thought her a sensible girl
of uncultivated sensibilities, the reverse of thousands; not commonplace,
therefore; and that the sensibilities were expanding was to be seen in
her gradual unreadiness to talk of her engagement to Mr. Tinman, though
her intimacy with Mary warmed daily. She considered she was bound to
marry the man at some distant date, and did not feel unhappiness yet.
She had only felt uneasy when she had to greet and converse with her
intended; especially when the London young lady had been present.
Herbert's departure relieved her of the pressing sense of contrast. She
praised him to Mary for his extreme kindness to her father, and down in
her unsounded heart desired that her father might appreciate it even more
than she did.
Herbert drove into Crikswich at night, and stopped at Crickledon's, where
he heard that Van Diemen was dining with Tinman.
Crickledon the carpenter permitted certain dry curves to play round his
lips like miniature shavings at the name of Tinman; but Herbert asked,
"What is it now?" in vain, and he went to Crickledon the cook.
This union of the two Crickledons, male and female; was an ideal one,
such as poor women dream of; and men would do the same, if they knew how
poor they are. Each had a profession, each was independent of the other,
each supported the fabric. Consequently there was mutual respect, as
between two pillars of a house. Each saw the other's faults with a sly
wink to the world, and an occasional interchange of sarcasm that was
tonic, very strengthening to the wits without endangering the habit of
affection. Crickledon the cook stood for her own opinions, and directed
the public conduct of Crickledon the carpenter; and if he went astray
from the line she marked out, she put it down to human nature, to which
she was tolerant. He, when she had not followed his advice, ascribed it
to the nature of women. She never said she was the equal of her husband;
but the carpenter proudly acknowledged that she was as good as a man, and
he bore with foibles derogatory to such high stature, by teaching himself
to observe a neatness of domestic and general management that told him he
certainly was not as good as a woman. Herbert delighted in them. The
cook regaled the carpenter with skilful, tasty, and economic dishes; and
the carpenter, obedient to her supplications, had promised, in the event
of his outliving her, that no hands but his should have the making of her
coffin. "It is so nice," she said, "to think one's own husband will put
together the box you are to lie in, of his own make!" Had they been even
a doubtfully united pair, the cook's anticipation of a comfortable
coffin, the work of the best carpenter in England, would have kept them
together; and that which fine cookery does for the cementing of couples
needs not to be recounted to those who have read a chapter or two of the
natural history of the male sex.
"Crickledon, my dear soul, your husband is labouring with a bit of fun,"
Herbert said to her.
"He would n't laugh loud at Punch, for fear of an action," she replied.
"He never laughs out till he gets to bed, and has locked the door; and
when he does he says 'Hush!' to me. Tinman is n't bailiff again just
yet, and where he has his bailiff's best Court suit from, you may ask.
He exercises in it off and on all the week, at night, and sometimes in
the middle of the day."
Herbert rallied her for her gossip's credulity.
"It's truth," she declared. "I have it from the maid of the house,
little Jane, whom he pays four pound a year for all the work of the
house: a clever little thing with her hands and her head she is; and can
read and write beautiful; and she's a mind to leave 'em if they don't
advance her. She knocked and went in while he was full blaze, and bowing
his poll to his glass. And now he turns the key, and a child might know
he was at it."
"He can't be such a donkey!"
"And he's been seen at the window on the seaside. 'Who's your Admiral
staying at the house on the beach?' men have inquired as they come
ashore. My husband has heard it. Tinman's got it on his brain. He
might be cured by marriage to a sound-headed woman, but he 'll soon be
wanting to walk about in silk legs if he stops a bachelor. They tell me
his old mother here had a dress value twenty pound; and pomp's inherited.
Save as he may, there's his leak."
Herbert's contempt for Tinman was intense; it was that of the young and
ignorant who live in their imaginations like spendthrifts, unaware of the
importance of them as the food of life, and of how necessary it is to
seize upon the solider one among them for perpetual sustenance when the
unsubstantial are vanishing. The great event of his bailiff's term of
office had become the sun of Tinman's system. He basked in its rays.
He meant to be again the proud official, royally distinguished; meantime,
though he knew not that his days were dull, he groaned under the dulness;
and, as cart or cab horses, uncomplaining as a rule, show their view of
the nature of harness when they have release to frisk in a field, it is
possible that existence was made tolerable to the jogging man by some
minutes of excitement in his bailiff's Court suit. Really to pasture on
our recollections we ought to dramatize them. There is, however, only
the testimony of a maid and a mariner to show that Tinman did it, and
those are witnesses coming of particularly long-bow classes, given to
magnify small items of fact.
On reaching the hall Herbert found the fire alight in the smoking-room,
and soon after settling himself there he heard Van Diemen's voice at the
hall-door saying good night to Tinman.
"Thank the Lord! there you are," said Van Diemen, entering the room.
"I couldn't have hoped so much. That rascal!" he turned round to the
door. "He has been threatening me, and then smoothing me. Hang his oil!
It's combustible. And hang the port he's for laying down, as he calls
it. 'Leave it to posterity,' says I. 'Why?' says he. 'Because the
young ones 'll be better able to take care of themselves,' says I, and he
insists on an explanation. I gave it to him. Out he bursts like a
wasp's nest. He may have said what he did say in temper. He seemed
sorry afterwards--poor old Mart! The scoundrel talked of Horse Guards
and telegraph wires."
"Scoundrel, but more ninny," said Herbert, full of his contempt. "Dare
him to do his worst. The General tells me they 'd be glad to overlook it
at the Guards, even if they had all the facts. Branding 's out of the
"I swear it was done in my time," cried Van Diemen, all on fire.
"It's out of the question. You might be advised to leave England for a
few months. As for the society here--"
"If I leave, I leave for good. My heart's broken. I'm disappointed.
I'm deceived in my friend. He and I in the old days! What's come to
him? What on earth is it changes men who stop in England so? It can't
be the climate. And did you mention my name to General Fellingham?"
"Certainly not," said Herbert. "But listen to me, sir, a moment. Why
not get together half-a-dozen friends of the neighbourhood, and make a
clean breast of it. Englishmen like that kind of manliness, and they are
sure to ring sound to it."
"I couldn't!" Van Diemen sighed. "It's not a natural feeling I have
about it--I 've brooded on the word. If I have a nightmare, I see
Deserter written in sulphur on the black wall."
"You can't remain at his mercy, and be bullied as you are. He makes you
ill, sir. He won't do anything, but he'll go on worrying you. I'd stop
him at once. I'd take the train to-morrow and get an introduction to the
Commander-in-Chief. He's the very man to be kind to you in a situation
like this. The General would get you the introduction."
"That's more to my taste; but no, I couldn't," Van Diemen moaned in his
weakness. "Money has unmanned me. I was n't this kind of man formerly;
nor more was Mart Tinman, the traitor! All the world seems changeing for
the worse, and England is n't what she used to be."
"You let that man spoil it for you, sir." Herbert related Mrs.
Crickledon's tale of Mr. Tinman, adding, "He's an utter donkey. I should
defy him. What I should do would be to let him know to-morrow morning
that you don't intend to see him again. Blow for, blow, is the thing he
requires. He'll be cringing to you in a week."
"And you'd like to marry Annette," said Van Diemen, relishing,
nevertheless, the advice, whose origin and object he perceived so
"Of course I should," said Herbert, franker still in his colour than his
"I don't see him my girl's husband." Van Diemen eyed the red hollow in
the falling coals. "When I came first, and found him a healthy man,
good-looking enough for a trifle over forty, I 'd have given her gladly,
she nodding Yes. Now all my fear is she's in earnest. Upon my soul, I
had the notion old Mart was a sort of a boy still; playing man, you know.
But how can you understand? I fancied his airs and stiffness were put
on; thought I saw him burning true behind it. Who can tell? He seems to
be jealous of my buying property in his native town. Something frets
him. I ought never to have struck him! There's my error, and I repent
it. Strike a friend! I wonder he didn't go off to the Horse Guards at
once. I might have done it in his place, if I found I couldn't lick him.
I should have tried kicking first."
"Yes, shinning before peaching," said Herbert, astonished almost as much
as he was disgusted by the inveterate sentimental attachment of Van
Diemen to his old friend.
Martin Tinman anticipated good things of the fright he had given the man
after dinner. He had, undoubtedly, yielded to temper, forgetting pure
policy, which it is so exceeding difficult to practice. But he had
soothed the startled beast; they had shaken hands at parting, and Tinman
hoped that the week of Annette's absence would enable him to mould her
father. Young Fellingham's appointment to come to Elba had slipped Mr.
Tinman's memory. It was annoying to see this intruder. "At all events,
he's not with Annette," said Mrs. Cavely. "How long has her father to
"Five months," Tinman replied. "He would have completed his term of
service in five months."
"And to think of his being a rich man because he deserted," Mrs. Cavely
interjected. "Oh! I do call it immoral. He ought to be apprehended and
punished, to be an example for the good of society. If you lose time,
my dear Martin, your chance is gone. He's wriggling now. And if I could
believe he talked us over to that young impudent, who has n't a penny
that he does n't get from his pen, I'd say, denounce him to-morrow.
I long for Elba. I hate this house. It will be swallowed up some day;
I know it; I have dreamt it. Elba at any cost. Depend upon it, Martin,
you have been foiled in your suits on account of the mean house you
inhabit. Enter Elba as that girl's husband, or go there to own it, and
girls will crawl to you."
"You are a ridiculous woman, Martha," said Tinman, not dissenting.
The mixture of an idea of public duty with a feeling of personal rancour
is a strong incentive to the pursuit of a stern line of conduct; and the
glimmer of self-interest superadded does not check the steps of the
moralist. Nevertheless, Tinman held himself in. He loved peace. He
preached it, he disseminated it. At a meeting in the town he strove to
win Van Diemen's voice in favour of a vote for further moneys to protect
'our shores.'" Van Diemen laughed at him, telling him he wanted a
battery. "No," said Tinman, "I've had enough to do with soldiers."
"They might be more cautious. I say, they might learn to know their
friends from their enemies."
"That's it, that's it," said Van Diemen. "If you say much more, my
hearty, you'll find me bidding against you next week for Marine Parade
and Belle Vue Terrace. I've a cute eye for property, and this town's
"You look about you before you speculate in land and house property
here," retorted Tinman.
Van Diemen bore so much from him that he asked himself whether he could
be an Englishman. The title of Deserter was his raw wound. He attempted
to form the habit of stigmatizing himself with it in the privacy of his
chamber, and he succeeded in establishing the habit of talking to
himself, so that he was heard by the household, and Annette, on her
return, was obliged to warn him of his indiscretion. This development of
a new weakness exasperated him. Rather to prove his courage by defiance
than to baffle Tinman's ambition to become the principal owner of houses
in Crikswich, by outbidding him at the auction for the sale of Marine
Parade and Belle Vue Terrace, Van Diemen ran the houses up at the
auction, and ultimately had Belle Vue knocked down to him. So fierce was
the quarrel that Annette, in conjunction with Mrs. Cavely; was called on
to interpose with her sweetest grace. "My native place," Tinman said to
her; "it is my native place. I have a pride in it; I desire to own
property in it, and your father opposes me. He opposes me. Then says I
may have it back at auction price, after he has gone far to double the
price! I have borne--I repeat I have borne too much."
"Are n't your properties to be equal to one?" said Mrs. Cavely, smiling
mother--like from Tinman to Annette.
He sought to produce a fondling eye in a wry face, and said, "Yes, I will
"Annette will bless you with her dear hand in a month or two at the
outside," Mrs. Cavely murmured, cherishingly.
"She will?" Tinman cracked his body to bend to her.
"Oh, I cannot say; do not distress me. Be friendly with papa," the girl
resumed, moving to escape.
"That is the essential," said Mrs. Cavely; and continued, when Annette
had gone, "The essential is to get over the next few months, miss, and
then to snap your fingers at us. Martin, I would force that man to sell
you Belle Vue under the price he paid for it, just to try your power."
Tinman was not quite so forcible. He obtained Belle Vue at auction
price, and his passion for revenge was tipped with fire by having it
accorded as a friend's favour.
The poisoned state of his mind was increased by a December high wind that
rattled his casements, and warned him of his accession of property
exposed to the elements. Both he and his sister attributed their
nervousness to the sinister behaviour of Van Diemen. For the house on
the beach had only, in most distant times, been threatened by the sea,
and no house on earth was better protected from man,--Neptune, in the
shape of a coastguard, being paid by Government to patrol about it during
the hours of darkness. They had never had any fears before Van Diemen
arrived, and caused them to give thrice their ordinary number of dinners
to guests per annum. In fact, before Van Diemen came, the house on the
beach looked on Crikswich without a rival to challenge its anticipated
lordship over the place, and for some inexplicable reason it seemed to
its inhabitants to have been a safer as well as a happier residence.
They were consoled by Tinman's performance of a clever stroke in
privately purchasing the cottages west of the town, and including
Crickledon's shop, abutting on Marine Parade. Then from the house
on the beach they looked at an entire frontage of their property.
They entered the month of February. No further time was to be lost,
"or we shall wake up to find that man has fooled us," Mrs. Cavely said.
Tinman appeared at Elba to demand a private interview with Annette. His
hat was blown into the hall as the door opened to him, and he himself was
glad to be sheltered by the door, so violent was the gale. Annette and
her father were sitting together. They kept the betrothed gentleman
waiting a very long time. At last Van Diemen went to him, and said,
"Netty 'll see you, if you must. I suppose you have no business with
"Not to-day," Tinman replied.
Van Diemen strode round the drawing-room with his hands in his pockets.
"There's a disparity of ages," he said, abruptly, as if desirous to pour
out his lesson while he remembered it. "A man upwards of forty marries a
girl under twenty, he's over sixty before she's forty; he's decaying when
she's only mellow. I ought never to have struck you, I know. And you're
such an infernal bad temper at times, and age does n't improve that, they
say; and she's been educated tip-top. She's sharp on grammar, and a man
may n't like that much when he's a husband. See her, if you must. But
she does n't take to the idea; there's the truth. Disparity of ages and
unsuitableness of dispositions--what was it Fellingham said?--like two
barrel-organs grinding different tunes all day in a house."
"I don't want to hear Mr. Fellingham's comparisons," Tinman snapped.
"Oh! he's nothing to the girl," said Van Diemen. "She doesn't stomach
"My dear Philip! why should she leave you? When we have interests in
common as one household--"
"She says you're such a damned bad temper."
Tinman was pursuing amicably, "When we are united--" But the frightful
charge brought against his temper drew him up. "Fiery I may be. Annette
has seen I am forgiving. I am a Christian. You have provoked me; you
have struck me."
"I 'll give you a couple of thousand pounds in hard money to be off the
bargain, and not bother the girl," said Van Diemen.
"Now," rejoined Tinman, "I am offended. I like money, like most men who
have made it. You do, Philip. But I don't come courting like a pauper.
Not for ten thousand; not for twenty. Money cannot be a compensation to
me for the loss of Annette. I say I love Annette."
"Because," Van Diemen continued his speech, "you trapped us into that
engagement, Mart. You dosed me with the stuff you buy for wine, while
your sister sat sugaring and mollifying my girl; and she did the trick in
a minute, taking Netty by surprise when I was all heart and no head; and
since that you may have seen the girl turn her head from marriage like my
woods from the wind."
"Mr. Van Diemen Smith!" Tinman panted; he mastered himself. "You shall
not provoke me. My introductions of you in this neighbourhood, my
patronage, prove my friendship."
"You'll be a good old fellow, Mart, when you get over your hopes of being
"Mr. Fellingham may set you against my wine, Philip. Let me tell you--I
know you--you would not object to have your daughter called Lady."
"With a spindle-shanked husband capering in a Court suit before he goes
to bed every night, that he may n't forget what a fine fellow he was one
day bygone! You're growing lean on it, Mart, like a recollection fifty
"You have never forgiven me that day, Philip!"
"Jealous, am I? Take the money, give up the girl, and see what friends
we'll be. I'll back your buyings, I'll advertise your sellings. I'll
pay a painter to paint you in your Court suit, and hang up a copy of you
in my diningroom."
"Annette is here," said Tinman, who had been showing Etna's tokens of
He admired Annette. Not till latterly had Herbert Fellingham been so
true an admirer of Annette as Tinman was. She looked sincere and she
dressed inexpensively. For these reasons she was the best example of
womankind that he knew, and her enthusiasm for England had the
sympathetic effect on him of obscuring the rest of the world, and
thrilling him with the reassuring belief that he was blest in his blood
and his birthplace--points which her father, with his boastings of
Gippsland, and other people talking of scenes on the Continent,
sometimes disturbed in his mind.
"Annette," said he, "I come requesting to converse with you in private."
"If you wish it--I would rather not," she answered.
Tinman raised his head, as often at Helmstone when some offending
shopwoman was to hear her doom.
He bent to her. "I see. Before your father, then!"
"It isn't an agreeable bit of business, to me," Van Diemen grumbled,
frowning and shrugging.
"I have come, Annette, to ask you, to beg you, entreat--before a third
"The wrong side of my mouth, my friend. And I'll tell you what: we're in
for heavy seas, and I 'm not sorry you've taken the house on the beach
off my hands."
"Pray, Mr. Tinman, speak at once, if you please, and I will do my best.
Papa vexes you."
"No, no," replied Tinman.
He renewed his commencement. Van Diemen interrupted him again.
"Hang your power over me, as you call it. Eh, old Mart? I'm a Deserter.
I'll pay a thousand pounds to the British army, whether they punish me or
not. March me off tomorrow!"
"Papa, you are unjust, unkind." Annette turned to him in tears.
"No, no," said Tinman, "I do not feel it. Your father has misunderstood
"I am sure he has," she said fervently. "And, Mr. Tinman, I will
faithfully promise that so long as you are good to my dear father, I will
not be untrue to my engagement, only do not wish me to name any day. We
shall be such very good dear friends if you consent to this. Will you?"
Pausing for a space, the enamoured man unrolled his voice in lamentation:
"Oh! Annette, how long will you keep me?"
"There; you'll set her crying!" said Van Diemen. "Now you can run
upstairs, Netty. By jingo! Mart Tinman, you've got a bass voice for
"Annette," Tinman called to her, and made her turn round as she was
retiring. "I must know the day before the end of winter. Please.
In kind consideration. My arrangements demand it."
"Do let the girl go," said Van Diemen. "Dine with me tonight and I'll
give you a wine to brisk your spirits, old boy"
"Thank you. When I have ordered dinner at home, I----and my wine agrees
with ME," Tinman replied.
"I doubt it."
"You shall not provoke me, Philip."
They parted stiffly.
Mrs. Cavely had unpleasant domestic news to communicate to her brother,
in return for his tale of affliction and wrath. It concerned the
ungrateful conduct of their little housemaid Jane, who, as Mrs. Cavely
said, "egged on by that woman Crickledon," had been hinting at an advance
"She didn't dare speak, but I saw what was in her when she broke a plate,
and wouldn't say she was sorry. I know she goes to Crickledon and talks
us over. She's a willing worker, but she has no heart."
Tinman had been accustomed in his shop at Helmstone--where heaven had
blessed him with the patronage of the rich, as visibly as rays of
supernal light are seen selecting from above the heads of prophets in the
illustrations to cheap holy books--to deal with willing workers that have
no hearts. Before the application for an advance of wages--and he knew
the signs of it coming--his method was to calculate how much he might be
asked for, and divide the estimated sum by the figure 4; which, as it
seemed to come from a generous impulse, and had been unsolicited, was
often humbly accepted, and the willing worker pursued her lean and hungry
course in his service. The treatment did not always agree with his
males. Women it suited; because they do not like to lift up their voices
unless they are in a passion; and if you take from them the grounds of
temper, you take their words away--you make chickens of them. And as
Tinman said, "Gratitude I never expect!" Why not? For the reason that
he knew human nature. He could record shocking instances of the
ingratitude of human nature, as revealed to him in the term of his tenure
of the shop at Helmstone. Blest from above, human nature's wickedness
had from below too frequently besulphured and suffumigated him for his
memory to be dim; and though he was ever ready to own himself an example
that heaven prevaileth, he could cite instances of scandalmongering shop-
women dismissed and working him mischief in the town, which pointed to
him in person for a proof that the Powers of Good and Evil were still
engaged in unhappy contention. Witness Strikes! witness Revolutions!
"Tell her, when she lays the cloth, that I advance her, on account of
general good conduct, five shillings per annum. Add," said Tinman, "that
I wish no thanks. It is for her merits--to reward her; you understand
"Quite; if you think it prudent, Martin."
"I do. She is not to breathe a syllable to cook."
"Then keep your eye on cook."
Mrs. Cavely promised she would do so. She felt sure she was paying five
shillings for ingratitude; and, therefore, it was with humility that she
owned her error when, while her brother sipped his sugared acrid liquor
after dinner (in devotion to the doctor's decree, that he should take a
couple of glasses, rigorously as body-lashing friar), she imparted to him
the singular effect of the advance of wages upon little Jane--"Oh, ma'am!
and me never asked you for it!" She informed her brother how little Jane
had confided to her that they were called "close," and how little Jane
had vowed she would--the willing little thing!--go about letting
everybody know their kindness.
"Yes! Ah!" Tinman inhaled the praise. "No, no; I don't want to be
puffed," he said. "Remember cook. I have," he continued, meditatively,
"rarely found my plan fail. But mind, I give the Crickledons notice to
quit to-morrow. They are a pest. Besides, I shall probably think of
"How dreadful the wind is!" Mrs. Cavely exclaimed. "I would give that
girl Annette one chance more. Try her by letter."
Tinman despatched a business letter to Annette, which brought back a
vague, unbusiness-like reply. Two days afterward Mrs. Cavely reported to
her brother the presence of Mr. Fellingham and Miss Mary Fellingham in
Crikswich. At her dictation he wrote a second letter. This time the
reply came from Van Diemen:
"My DEAR MARTIN,--Please do not go on bothering my girl. She does
not like the idea of leaving me, and my experience tells me I could
not live in the house with you. So there it is. Take it friendly.
I have always wanted to be, and am,
Tinman proceeded straight to Elba; that is, as nearly straight as the
wind would allow his legs to walk. Van Diemen was announced to be out;
Miss Annette begged to be excused, under the pretext that she was unwell;
and Tinman heard of a dinner-party at Elba that night.
He met Mr. Fellingham on the carriage drive. The young Londoner presumed
to touch upon Tinman's private affairs by pleading on behalf of the
Crikledons, who were, he said, much dejected by the notice they had
received to quit house and shop.
"Another time," bawled Tinman. "I can't hear you in this wind."
"Come in," said Fellingham.
"The master of the house is absent," was the smart retort roared at him;
and Tinman staggered away, enjoying it as he did his wine.
His house rocked. He was backed by his sister in the assurance that he
had been duped.
The process he supposed to be thinking, which was the castigation of his
brains with every sting wherewith a native touchiness could ply immediate
recollection, led him to conclude that he must bring Van Diemen to his
senses, and Annette running to him for mercy.
He sat down that night amid the howling of the storm, wind whistling,
water crashing, casements rattling, beach desperately dragging, as by the
wide-stretched star-fish fingers of the half-engulphed.
He hardly knew what he wrote. The man was in a state of personal terror,
burning with indignation at Van Diemen as the main cause of his jeopardy.
For, in order to prosecute his pursuit of Annette, he had abstained from
going to Helmstone to pay moneys into his bank there, and what was
precious to life as well as life itself, was imperilled by those two--
Annette and her father--who, had they been true, had they been honest,
to say nothing of honourable, would by this time have opened Elba to him
as a fast and safe abode.
His letter was addressed, on a large envelope,
"To the Adjutant-General,
But if ever consigned to the Post, that post-office must be in London;
and Tinman left the letter on his desk till the morning should bring
counsel to him as to the London friend to whom he might despatch it under
cover for posting, if he pushed it so far.
Sleep was impossible. Black night favoured the tearing fiends of
shipwreck, and looking through a back window over sea, Tinman saw with
dismay huge towering ghostwhite wreaths, that travelled up swiftly on his
level, and lit the dark as they flung themselves in ruin, with a gasp,
across the mound of shingle at his feet.
He undressed: His sister called to him to know if they were in danger.
Clothed in his dressing-gown, he slipped along to her door, to vociferate
to her hoarsely that she must not frighten the servants; and one fine
quality in the training of the couple, which had helped them to prosper,
a form of self-command, kept her quiet in her shivering fears.
For a distraction Tinman pulled open the drawers of his wardrobe. His
glittering suit lay in one. And he thought, "What wonderful changes
there are in the world!" meaning, between a man exposed to the wrath of
the elements, and the same individual reading from vellum, in that suit,
in a palace, to the Head of all of us!
The presumption is; that he must have often done it before. The fact is
established, that he did it that night. The conclusion drawn from it is,
that it must have given him a sense of stability and safety.
At any rate that he put on the suit is quite certain.
Probably it was a work of ingratiation and degrees; a feeling of the
silk, a trying on to one leg, then a matching of the fellow with it.
O you Revolutionists! who would have no state, no ceremonial, and but
one order of galligaskins! This man must have been wooed away in spirit
to forgetfulness of the tempest scourging his mighty neighbour to a
bigger and a farther leap; he must have obtained from the contemplation
of himself in his suit that which would be the saving of all men, in
especial of his countrymen--imagination, namely.
Certain it is, as I have said, that he attired himself in the suit. He
covered it with his dressing-gown, and he lay down on his bed so garbed,
to await the morrow's light, being probably surprised by sleep acting
upon fatigue and nerves appeased and soothed.
Elba lay more sheltered from South-east winds under the slopes of down
than any other house in Crikswich. The South-caster struck off the cliff
to a martello tower and the house on the beach, leaving Elba to repose,
so that the worst wind for that coast was one of the most comfortable for
the owner of the hall, and he looked from his upper window on a sea of
crumbling grey chalk, lashed unremittingly by the featureless piping
gale, without fear that his elevated grounds and walls would be open at
high tide to the ravage of water. Van Diemen had no idea of calamity
being at work on land when he sat down to breakfast. He told Herbert
that he had prayed for poor fellows at sea last night. Mary Fellingham
and Annette were anxious to finish breakfast and mount the down to gaze
on the sea, and receiving a caution from Van Diemen not to go too near
the cliff, they were inclined to think he was needlessly timorous on
Before they were half way through the meal, word was brought in of great
breaches in the shingle, and water covering the common. Van Diemen sent
for his head gardener, whose report of the state of things outside took
the comprehensive form of prophecy; he predicted the fall of the town.
"Nonsense; what do you mean, John Scott?" said Van Diemen, eyeing his
orderly breakfast table and the man in turns. "It does n't seem like
that, yet, does it?"
"The house on the beach won't stand an hour longer, sir."
"Who says so?"
"It's cut off from land now, and waves mast-high all about it."
"Mart Tinman?" cried Van Diemen.
All started; all jumped up; and there was a scampering for hats and
cloaks. Maids and men of the house ran in and out confirming the news of
inundation. Some in terror for the fate of relatives, others pleasantly
excited, glad of catastrophe if it but killed monotony, for at any rate
it was a change of demons.
The view from the outer bank of Elba was of water covering the space of
the common up to the stones of Marine Parade and Belle Vue. But at a
distance it had not the appearance of angry water; the ladies thought it
picturesque, and the house on the beach was seen standing firm. A second
look showed the house completely isolated; and as the party led by Van
Diemen circled hurriedly toward the town, they discerned heavy cataracts
of foam pouring down the wrecked mound of shingle on either side of the
"Why, the outer wall's washed away," said Van Diemen." Are they in real
danger?" asked Annette, her teeth chattering, and the cold and other
matters at her heart precluding for the moment such warmth of sympathy as
she hoped soon to feel for them. She was glad to hear her father say:
"Oh! they're high and dry by this time. We shall find them in the town
And we'll take them in and comfort them. Ten to one they have n't
breakfasted. They sha'n't go to an inn while I'm handy."
He dashed ahead, followed closely by Herbert. The ladies beheld them
talking to townsfolk as they passed along the upper streets, and did not
augur well of their increase of speed. At the head of the town water was
visible, part of the way up the main street, and crossing it, the ladies
went swiftly under the old church, on the tower of which were spectators,
through the churchyard to a high meadow that dropped to a stone wall
fixed between the meadow and a grass bank above the level of the road,
where now salt water beat and cast some spray. Not less than a hundred
people were in this field, among them Crickledon and his wife. All were
in silent watch of the house on the beach, which was to east of the
field, at a distance of perhaps three stonethrows. The scene was wild.
Continuously the torrents poured through the shingleclefts, and momently
a thunder sounded, and high leapt a billow that topped the house and
folded it weltering.
"They tell me Mart Tinman's in the house," Van Diemen roared to Herbert.
He listened to further information, and bellowed: "There's no boat!"
Herbert answered: "It must be a mistake, I think; here's Crickledon says
he had a warning before dawn and managed to move most of his things, and
the people over there must have been awakened by the row in time to get
"I can't hear a word you say;" Van Diemen tried to pitch his voice higher
than the wind. "Did you say a boat? But where?"
Crickledon the carpenter made signal to Herbert. They stepped rapidly up
"Women feels their weakness in times like these, my dear," Mrs.
Crickledon said to Annette. "What with our clothes and our cowardice
it do seem we're not the equals of men when winds is high."
Annette expressed the hope to her that she had not lost much property.
Mrs. Crickledon said she was glad to let her know she was insured in an
Accident Company. "But," said she, "I do grieve for that poor man
Tinman, if alive he be, and comes ashore to find his property wrecked by
water. Bless ye! he wouldn't insure against anything less common than
fire; and my house and Crickledon's shop are floating timbers by this
time; and Marine Parade and Belle Vue are safe to go. And it'll be a
pretty welcome for him, poor man, from his investments."
A cry at a tremendous blow of a wave on the doomed house rose from the
field. Back and front door were broken down, and the force of water
drove a round volume through the channel, shaking the walls.
"I can't stand this," Van Diemen cried.
Annette was too late to hold him back. He ran up the field. She was
preparing to run after when Mrs. Crickledon touched her arm and implored
her: "Interfere not with men, but let them follow their judgements when
it's seasons of mighty peril, my dear. If any one's guilty it's me, for
minding my husband of a boat that was launched for a life-boat here, and
wouldn't answer, and is at the shed by the Crouch--left lying there, I've
often said, as if it was a-sulking. My goodness!"
A linen sheet bad been flung out from one of the windows of the house on
the beach, and flew loose and flapping in sign of distress.
"It looks as if they had gone mad in that house, to have waited so long
for to declare theirselves, poor souls," Mrs. Crickledon said, sighing.
She was assured right and left that signals had been seen before, and
some one stated that the cook of Mr. Tinman, and also Mrs. Cavely, were
"It's his furniture, poor man, he sticks to: and nothing gets round the
heart so!" resumed Mrs. Crickledon. "There goes his bed-linen!"
The sheet was whirled and snapped away by the wind; distended doubled,
like a flock of winter geese changeing alphabetical letters on the
clouds, darted this way and that, and finally outspread on the waters
breaking against Marine Parade.
"They cannot have thought there was positive danger in remaining," said
"Mr. Tinman was waiting for the cheapest Insurance office," a man
remarked to Mrs. Crickledon.
"The least to pay is to the undertaker," she replied, standing on tiptoe.
"And it's to be hoped he 'll pay more to-day. If only those walls don't
fall and stop the chance of the boat to save him for more outlay, poor
man! What boats was on the beach last night, high up and over the ridge
as they was, are planks by this time and only good for carpenters."
"Half our town's done for," one old man said; and another followed him in.
a pious tone: "From water we came and to water we go."
They talked of ancient inroads of the sea, none so serious as this
threatened to be for them. The gallant solidity, of the house on the
beach had withstood heavy gales: it was a brave house. Heaven be
thanked, no fishing boats were out. Chiefly well-to-do people would be
the sufferers--an exceptional case. For it is the mysterious and
unexplained dispensation that: "Mostly heaven chastises we."
A knot of excited gazers drew the rest of the field to them. Mrs.
Crickledon, on the edge of the crowd, reported what was doing to Annette
and Miss Fellingham. A boat had been launched from the town. "Praise
the Lord, there's none but coastguard in it!" she exclaimed, and excused
herself for having her heart on her husband.
Annette was as deeply thankful that her father was not in the boat.
They looked round and saw Herbert beside them. Van Diemen was in the
rear, panting, and straining his neck to catch sight of the boat now
pulling fast across a tumbled sea to where Tinman himself was perceived,
beckoning them wildly, half out of one of the windows.
"A pound apiece to those fellows, and two if they land Mart Tinman dry;
I've promised it, and they'll earn it. Look at that! Quick, you
To the east a portion of the house had fallen, melted away. Where it
stood, just below the line of shingle, it was now like a structure
wasting on a tormented submerged reef. The whole line was given over to
"Where is his sister?" Annette shrieked to her father.
"Safe ashore; and one of the women with her. But Mart Tinman would stop,
the fool! to-poor old boy! save his papers and things; and has n't a
head to do it, Martha Cavely tells me. They're at him now! They've got
him in! There's another? Oh! it's a girl, who would n't go and leave
him. They'll pull to the field here. Brave lads!--By jingo, why ain't
Englishmen always in danger!--eh? if you want to see them shine!"
"It's little Jane," said Mrs. Crickledon, who had been joined by her
husband, and now that she knew him to be no longer in peril, kept her
hand on him to restrain him, just for comfort's sake.
The boat held under the lee of the house-wreck a minute; then, as if
shooting a small rapid, came down on a wave crowned with foam, to hurrahs
from the townsmen.
"They're all right," said Van Diemen, puffing as at a mist before his
eyes. "They'll pull westward, with the wind, and land him among us. I
remember when old Mart and I were bathing once, he was younger than me,
and could n't swim much, and I saw him going down. It'd have been hard
to see him washed off before one's eyes thirty years afterwards. Here
they come. He's all right. He's in his dressing-gown!"
The crowd made way for Mr. Van Diemen Smith to welcome his friend. Two
of the coastguard jumped out, and handed him to the dry bank, while
Herbert, Van Diemen, and Crickledon took him by hand and arm, and hoisted
him on to the flint wall, preparatory to his descent into the field. In
this exposed situation the wind, whose pranks are endless when it is once
up, seized and blew Martin Tinman's dressing-gown wide as two violently
flapping wings on each side of him, and finally over his head.
Van Diemen turned a pair of stupefied flat eyes on Herbert, who cast a
sly look at the ladies. Tinman had sprung down. But not before the.
world, in one tempestuous glimpse, had caught sight of the Court suit.
Perfect gravity greeted him from the crowd.
"Safe, old Mart! and glad to be able to say it," said Van Diemen.
"We are so happy," said Annette.
"House, furniture, property, everything I possess!" ejaculated Tinman,
"Fiddle, man; you want some hot breakfast in you. Your sister has gone
on--to Elba. Come you too, old Man; and where's that plucky little girl
who stood by--"
"Was there a girl?" said Tinman.
"Yes, and there was a boy wanted to help." Van Diemen pointed at
Tinman looked, and piteously asked, "Have you examined Marine Parade and
Belle Vue? It depends on the tide!"
"Here is little Jane, sir," said Mrs. Crickledon.
"Fall in," Van Diemen said to little Jane.
The girl was bobbing curtseys to Annette, on her introduction by Mrs.
"Martin, you stay at my house; you stay at Elba till you get things
comfortable about you, and then you shall have the Crouch for a year,
rent free. Eh, Netty?"
Annette chimed in: "Anything we can do, anything. Nothing can be too
Van Diemen was praising little Jane for her devotion to her master.
"Master have been so kind to me," said little Jane.
"Now, march; it is cold," Van Diemen gave the word, and Herbert stood by
Mary rather dejectedly, foreseeing that his prospects at Elba were
"Now then, Mart, left leg forward," Van Diemen linked his arm in his
"I must have a look," Tinman broke from him, and cast a forlorn look of
farewell on the last of the house on the beach.
"You've got me left to you, old Mart; don't forget that," said Van
Tinman's chest fell. "Yes, yes," he responded. He was touched.
"And I told those fellows if they landed you dry they should have--I'd
give them double pay; and I do believe they've earned their money."
"I don't think I'm very wet, I'm cold," said Tinman.
"You can't help being cold, so come along."
"But, Philip!" Tinman lifted his voice; "I've lost everything. I tried
to save a little. I worked hard, I exposed my life, and all in vain."
The voice of little Jane was heard.
"What's the matter with the child?" said Van Diemen.
Annette went up to her quietly.
But little Jane was addressing her master.
"Oh! if you please, I did manage to save something the last thing when
the boat was at the window, and if you please, sir, all the bundles is
lost, but I saved you a papercutter, and a letter Horse Guards, and here
they are, sir."
The grateful little creature drew the square letter and paper-cutter from
her bosom, and held them out to Mr. Tinman.
It was a letter of the imposing size, with THE HORSE GUARDS very
distinctly inscribed on it in Tinman's best round hand, to strike his
vindictive spirit as positively intended for transmission, and give him
sight of his power to wound if it pleased him; as it might.
"What!" cried he, not clearly comprehending how much her devotion had
accomplished for him.
"A letter to the Horse Guards!" cried Van Diemen.
"Here, give it me," said little Jane's master, and grasped it nervously.
"What's in that letter?" Van Diemen asked. "Let me look at that letter.
Don't tell me it's private correspondence."
"My dear Philip, dear friend, kind thanks; it's not a letter," said
"Not a letter! why, I read the address, 'Horse Guards.' I read it as it
passed into your hands. Now, my man, one look at that letter, or take
"Kind thanks for your assistance, dear Philip, indeed! Oh! this? Oh!
it's nothing." He tore it in halves.
His face was of the winter sea-colour, with the chalk wash on it.
"Tear again, and I shall know what to think of the contents," Van Diemen
frowned. "Let me see what you've said. You've sworn you would do it,
and there it is at last, by miracle; but let me see it and I'll overlook
it, and you shall be my house-mate still. If not!----"
Tinman tore away.
"You mistake, you mistake, you're entirely wrong," he said, as he pursued
with desperation his task of rendering every word unreadable.
Van Diemen stood fronting him; the accumulation of stores of petty
injuries and meannesses which he had endured from this man, swelled under
the whip of the conclusive exhibition of treachery. He looked so black
that Annette called, "Papa!"
"Philip," said Tinman. "Philip! my best friend!"
"Pooh, you're a poor creature. Come along and breakfast at Elba, and you
can sleep at the Crouch, and goodnight to you. Crickledon," he called to
the houseless couple, "you stop at Elba till I build you a shop."
With these words, Van Diemen led the way, walking alone. Herbert was
compelled to walk with Tinman.
Mary and Annette came behind, and Mary pinched Annette's arm so sharply
that she must have cried out aloud had it been possible for her to feel
pain at that moment, instead of a personal exultation, flying wildly over
the clash of astonishment and horror, like a sea-bird over the foam.
In the first silent place they came to, Mary murmured the words: "Little
Annette looked round at Mrs. Crickledon, who wound up the procession,
taking little Jane by the hand. Little Jane was walking demurely, with a
placid face. Annette glanced at Tinman. Her excited feelings nearly
rose to a scream of laughter. For hours after, Mary had only to say to
her: "Little Jane," to produce the same convulsion. It rolled her heart
and senses in a headlong surge, shook her to burning tears, and seemed to
her ideas the most wonderful running together of opposite things ever
known on this earth. The young lady was ashamed of her laughter; but she
was deeply indebted to it, for never was mind made so clear by that
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Adversary at once offensive and helpless provokes brutality
Causes him to be popularly weighed
Distinguished by his not allowing himself to be provoked
Eccentric behaviour in trifles
Excited, glad of catastrophe if it but killed monotony
Generally he noticed nothing
Good jokes are not always good policy
I make a point of never recommending my own house
Indulged in their privilege of thinking what they liked
Infants are said to have their ideas, and why not young ladies?
Lend him your own generosity
Men love to boast of things nobody else has seen
Naughtily Australian and kangarooly
Not in love--She was only not unwilling to be in love
Rich and poor 's all right, if I'm rich and you're poor
She began to feel that this was life in earnest
She dealt in the flashes which connect ideas
She sought, by looking hard, to understand it better
Sunning itself in the glass of Envy
That which fine cookery does for the cementing of couples
The intricate, which she takes for the infinite
Tossed him from repulsion to incredulity, and so back
Two principal roads by which poor sinners come to a conscience
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