Part 5 out of 5
away to Knollsea in the morning, to be present at some commemoration
service there, and on his return he was met by the attractive Lizzy
in the passage. Whether influenced by the tide of cheerfulness
which had attended him that day, or by the drive through the open
air, or whether from a natural disposition to let bygones alone, he
allowed himself to be fascinated into forgetfulness of the greatcoat
incident, and upon the whole passed a pleasant evening; not so much
in her society as within sound of her voice, as she sat talking in
the back parlour to her mother, till the latter went to bed.
Shortly after this Mrs. Newberry retired, and then Stockdale
prepared to go upstairs himself. But before he left the room he
remained standing by the dying embers awhile, thinking long of one
thing and another; and was only aroused by the flickering of his
candle in the socket as it suddenly declined and went out. Knowing
that there were a tinder-box, matches, and another candle in his
bedroom, he felt his way upstairs without a light. On reaching his
chamber he laid his hand on every possible ledge and corner for the
tinderbox, but for a long time in vain. Discovering it at length,
Stockdale produced a spark, and was kindling the brimstone, when he
fancied that he heard a movement in the passage. He blew harder at
the lint, the match flared up, and looking by aid of the blue light
through the door, which had been standing open all this time, he was
surprised to see a male figure vanishing round the top of the
staircase with the evident intention of escaping unobserved. The
personage wore the clothes which Lizzy had been brushing, and
something in the outline and gait suggested to the minister that the
wearer was Lizzy herself.
But he was not sure of this; and, greatly excited, Stockdale
determined to investigate the mystery, and to adopt his own way for
doing it. He blew out the match without lighting the candle, went
into the passage, and proceeded on tiptoe towards Lizzy's room. A
faint grey square of light in the direction of the chamber-window as
he approached told him that the door was open, and at once suggested
that the occupant was gone. He turned and brought down his fist
upon the handrail of the staircase: 'It was she; in her late
husband's coat and hat!'
Somewhat relieved to find that there was no intruder in the case,
yet none the less surprised, the minister crept down the stairs,
softly put on his boots, overcoat, and hat, and tried the front
door. It was fastened as usual: he went to the back door, found
this unlocked, and emerged into the garden. The night was mild and
moonless, and rain had lately been falling, though for the present
it had ceased. There was a sudden dropping from the trees and
bushes every now and then, as each passing wind shook their boughs.
Among these sounds Stockdale heard the faint fall of feet upon the
road outside, and he guessed from the step that it was Lizzy's. He
followed the sound, and, helped by the circumstance of the wind
blowing from the direction in which the pedestrian moved, he got
nearly close to her, and kept there, without risk of being
overheard. While he thus followed her up the street or lane, as it
might indifferently be called, there being more hedge than houses on
either side, a figure came forward to her from one of the cottage
doors. Lizzy stopped; the minister stepped upon the grass and
'Is that Mrs. Newberry?' said the man who had come out, whose voice
Stockdale recognized as that of one of the most devout members of
'It is,' said Lizzy.
'I be quite ready--I've been here this quarter-hour.'
'Ah, John,' said she, 'I have bad news; there is danger to-night for
'And d'ye tell o't! I dreamed there might be.'
'Yes,' she said hurriedly; 'and you must go at once round to where
the chaps are waiting, and tell them they will not be wanted till
to-morrow night at the same time. I go to burn the lugger off.'
'I will,' he said; and instantly went off through a gate, Lizzy
continuing her way.
On she tripped at a quickening pace till the lane turned into the
turnpike-road, which she crossed, and got into the track for
Ringsworth. Here she ascended the hill without the least
hesitation, passed the lonely hamlet of Holworth, and went down the
vale on the other side. Stockdale had never taken any extensive
walks in this direction, but he was aware that if she persisted in
her course much longer she would draw near to the coast, which was
here between two and three miles distant from Nether-Moynton; and as
it had been about a quarter-past eleven o'clock when they set out,
her intention seemed to be to reach the shore about midnight.
Lizzy soon ascended a small mound, which Stockdale at the same time
adroitly skirted on the left; and a dull monotonous roar burst upon
his ear. The hillock was about fifty yards from the top of the
cliffs, and by day it apparently commanded a full view of the bay.
There was light enough in the sky to show her disguised figure
against it when she reached the top, where she paused, and
afterwards sat down. Stockdale, not wishing on any account to alarm
her at this moment, yet desirous of being near her, sank upon his
hands and knees, crept a little higher up, and there stayed still.
The wind was chilly, the ground damp, and his position one in which
he did not care to remain long. However, before he had decided to
leave it, the young man heard voices behind him. What they
signified he did not know; but, fearing that Lizzy was in danger, he
was about to run forward and warn her that she might be seen, when
she crept to the shelter of a little bush which maintained a
precarious existence in that exposed spot; and her form was absorbed
in its dark and stunted outline as if she had become part of it.
She had evidently heard the men as well as he. They passed near
him, talking in loud and careless tones, which could be heard above
the uninterrupted washings of the sea, and which suggested that they
were not engaged in any business at their own risk. This proved to
be the fact: some of their words floated across to him, and caused
him to forget at once the coldness of his situation.
'What's the vessel?'
'A lugger, about fifty tons.'
'From Cherbourg, I suppose?'
'Yes, 'a b'lieve.'
'But it don't all belong to Owlett?'
'O no. He's only got a share. There's another or two in it--a
farmer and such like, but the names I don't know.'
The voices died away, and the heads and shoulders of the men
diminished towards the cliff, and dropped out of sight.
'My darling has been tempted to buy a share by that unbeliever
Owlett,' groaned the minister, his honest affection for Lizzy having
quickened to its intensest point during these moments of risk to her
person and name. 'That's why she's here,' he said to himself. 'O,
it will be the ruin of her!'
His perturbation was interrupted by the sudden bursting out of a
bright and increasing light from the spot where Lizzy was in hiding.
A few seconds later, and before it had reached the height of a
blaze, he heard her rush past him down the hollow like a stone from
a sling, in the direction of home. The light now flared high and
wide, and showed its position clearly. She had kindled a bough of
furze and stuck it into the bush under which she had been crouching;
the wind fanned the flame, which crackled fiercely, and threatened
to consume the bush as well as the bough. Stockdale paused just
long enough to notice thus much, and then followed rapidly the route
taken by the young woman. His intention was to overtake her, and
reveal himself as a friend; but run as he would he could see nothing
of her. Thus he flew across the open country about Holworth,
twisting his legs and ankles in unexpected fissures and descents,
till, on coming to the gate between the downs and the road, he was
forced to pause to get breath. There was no audible movement either
in front or behind him, and he now concluded that she had not outrun
him, but that, hearing him at her heels, and believing him one of
the excise party, she had hidden herself somewhere on the way, and
let him pass by.
He went on at a more leisurely pace towards the village. On
reaching the house he found his surmise to be correct, for the gate
was on the latch, and the door unfastened, just as he had left them.
Stockdale closed the door behind him, and waited silently in the
passage. In about ten minutes he heard the same light footstep that
he had heard in going out; it paused at the gate, which opened and
shut softly, and then the door-latch was lifted, and Lizzy came in.
Stockdale went forward and said at once, 'Lizzy, don't be
frightened. I have been waiting up for you.'
She started, though she had recognized the voice. 'It is Mr.
Stockdale, isn't it?' she said.
'Yes,' he answered, becoming angry now that she was safe indoors,
and not alarmed. 'And a nice game I've found you out in to-night.
You are in man's clothes, and I am ashamed of you!'
Lizzy could hardly find a voice to answer this unexpected reproach.
'I am only partly in man's clothes,' she faltered, shrinking back to
the wall. 'It is only his greatcoat and hat and breeches that I've
got on, which is no harm, as he was my own husband; and I do it only
because a cloak blows about so, and you can't use your arms. I have
got my own dress under just the same--it is only tucked in! Will
you go away upstairs and let me pass? I didn't want you to see me
at such a time as this!'
'But I have a right to see you! How do you think there can be
anything between us now?' Lizzy was silent. 'You are a smuggler,'
he continued sadly.
'I have only a share in the run,' she said.
'That makes no difference. Whatever did you engage in such a trade
as that for, and keep it such a secret from me all this time?'
'I don't do it always. I only do it in winter-time when 'tis new
'Well, I suppose that's because it can't be done anywhen else . . .
You have regularly upset me, Lizzy.'
'I am sorry for that,' Lizzy meekly replied.
'Well now,' said he more tenderly, 'no harm is done as yet. Won't
you for the sake of me give up this blamable and dangerous practice
'I must do my best to save this run,' said she, getting rather husky
in the throat. 'I don't want to give you up--you know that; but I
don't want to lose my venture. I don't know what to do now! Why I
have kept it so secret from you is that I was afraid you would be
angry if you knew.'
'I should think so! I suppose if I had married you without finding
this out you'd have gone on with it just the same?'
'I don't know. I did not think so far ahead. I only went to-night
to burn the folks off, because we found that the excisemen knew
where the tubs were to be landed.'
'It is a pretty mess to be in altogether, is this,' said the
distracted young minister. 'Well, what will you do now?'
Lizzy slowly murmured the particulars of their plan, the chief of
which were that they meant to try their luck at some other point of
the shore the next night; that three landing-places were always
agreed upon before the run was attempted, with the understanding
that, if the vessel was 'burnt off' from the first point, which was
Ringsworth, as it had been by her to-night, the crew should attempt
to make the second, which was Lulstead Cove, on the second night;
and if there, too, danger threatened, they should on the third night
try the third place, which was behind a headland further west.
'Suppose the officers hinder them landing there too?' he said, his
attention to this interesting programme displacing for a moment his
concern at her share in it.
'Then we shan't try anywhere else all this dark--that's what we call
the time between moon and moon--and perhaps they'll string the tubs
to a stray-line, and sink 'em a little-ways from shore, and take the
bearings; and then when they have a chance they'll go to creep for
'O, they'll go out in a boat and drag a creeper--that's a grapnel--
along the bottom till it catch hold of the stray-line.'
The minister stood thinking; and there was no sound within doors but
the tick of the clock on the stairs, and the quick breathing of
Lizzy, partly from her walk and partly from agitation, as she stood
close to the wall, not in such complete darkness but that he could
discern against its whitewashed surface the greatcoat and broad hat
which covered her.
'Lizzy, all this is very wrong,' he said. 'Don't you remember the
lesson of the tribute-money? "Render unto Caesar the things that
are Caesar's." Surely you have heard that read times enough in your
'He's dead,' she pouted.
'But the spirit of the text is in force just the same.'
'My father did it, and so did my grandfather, and almost everybody
in Nether-Moynton lives by it, and life would be so dull if it
wasn't for that, that I should not care to live at all.'
'I am nothing to live for, of course,' he replied bitterly. 'You
would not think it worth while to give up this wild business and
live for me alone?'
'I have never looked at it like that.'
'And you won't promise and wait till I am ready?'
'I cannot give you my word to-night.' And, looking thoughtfully
down, she gradually moved and moved away, going into the adjoining
room, and closing the door between them. She remained there in the
dark till he was tired of waiting, and had gone up to his own
Poor Stockdale was dreadfully depressed all the next day by the
discoveries of the night before. Lizzy was unmistakably a
fascinating young woman, but as a minister's wife she was hardly to
be contemplated. 'If I had only stuck to father's little grocery
business, instead of going in for the ministry, she would have
suited me beautifully!' he said sadly, until he remembered that in
that case he would never have come from his distant home to Nether-
Moynton, and never have known her.
The estrangement between them was not complete, but it was
sufficient to keep them out of each other's company. Once during
the day he met her in the garden-path, and said, turning a
reproachful eye upon her, 'Do you promise, Lizzy?' But she did not
reply. The evening drew on, and he knew well enough that Lizzy
would repeat her excursion at night--her half-offended manner had
shown that she had not the slightest intention of altering her plans
at present. He did not wish to repeat his own share of the
adventure; but, act as he would, his uneasiness on her account
increased with the decline of day. Supposing that an accident
should befall her, he would never forgive himself for not being
there to help, much as he disliked the idea of seeming to
countenance such unlawful escapades.
CHAPTER V--HOW THEY WENT TO LULSTEAD COVE
As he had expected, she left the house at the same hour at night,
this time passing his door without stealth, as if she knew very well
that he would be watching, and were resolved to brave his
displeasure. He was quite ready, opened the door quickly, and
reached the back door almost as soon as she.
'Then you will go, Lizzy?' he said as he stood on the step beside
her, who now again appeared as a little man with a face altogether
unsuited to his clothes.
'I must,' she said, repressed by his stern manner.
'Then I shall go too,' said he.
'And I am sure you will enjoy it!' she exclaimed in more buoyant
tones. 'Everybody does who tries it.'
'God forbid that I should!' he said. 'But I must look after you.'
They opened the wicket and went up the road abreast of each other,
but at some distance apart, scarcely a word passing between them.
The evening was rather less favourable to smuggling enterprise than
the last had been, the wind being lower, and the sky somewhat clear
towards the north.
'It is rather lighter,' said Stockdale.
''Tis, unfortunately,' said she. 'But it is only from those few
stars over there. The moon was new to-day at four o'clock, and I
expected clouds. I hope we shall be able to do it this dark, for
when we have to sink 'em for long it makes the stuff taste bleachy,
and folks don't like it so well.'
Her course was different from that of the preceding night, branching
off to the left over Lord's Barrow as soon as they had got out of
the lane and crossed the highway. By the time they reached Chaldon
Down, Stockdale, who had been in perplexed thought as to what he
should say to her, decided that he would not attempt expostulation
now, while she was excited by the adventure, but wait till it was
over, and endeavour to keep her from such practices in future. It
occurred to him once or twice, as they rambled on, that should they
be surprised by the excisemen, his situation would be more awkward
than hers, for it would be difficult to prove his true motive in
coming to the spot; but the risk was a slight consideration beside
his wish to be with her.
They now arrived at a ravine which lay on the outskirts of Chaldon,
a village two miles on their way towards the point of the shore they
sought. Lizzy broke the silence this time: 'I have to wait here to
meet the carriers. I don't know if they have come yet. As I told
you, we go to Lulstead Cove to-night, and it is two miles further
It turned out that the men had already come; for while she spoke two
or three dozen heads broke the line of the slope, and a company of
them at once descended from the bushes where they had been lying in
wait. These carriers were men whom Lizzy and other proprietors
regularly employed to bring the tubs from the boat to a hiding-place
inland. They were all young fellows of Nether-Moynton, Chaldon, and
the neighbourhood, quiet and inoffensive persons, who simply engaged
to carry the cargo for Lizzy and her cousin Owlett, as they would
have engaged in any other labour for which they were fairly well
At a word from her they closed in together. 'You had better take it
now,' she said to them; and handed to each a packet. It contained
six shillings, their remuneration for the night's undertaking, which
was paid beforehand without reference to success or failure; but,
besides this, they had the privilege of selling as agents when the
run was successfully made. As soon as it was done, she said to
them, 'The place is the old one near Lulstead Cove;' the men till
that moment not having been told whither they were bound, for
obvious reasons. 'Owlett will meet you there,' added Lizzy. 'I
shall follow behind, to see that we are not watched.'
The carriers went on, and Stockdale and Mrs. Newberry followed at a
distance of a stone's throw. 'What do these men do by day?' he
'Twelve or fourteen of them are labouring men. Some are
brickmakers, some carpenters, some shoe-makers, some thatchers.
They are all known to me very well. Nine of 'em are of your own
'I can't help that,' said Stockdale.
'O, I know you can't. I only told you. The others are more church-
inclined, because they supply the pa'son with all the spirits he
requires, and they don't wish to show unfriendliness to a customer.'
'How do you choose 'em?' said Stockdale.
'We choose 'em for their closeness, and because they are strong and
surefooted, and able to carry a heavy load a long way without being
Stockdale sighed as she enumerated each particular, for it proved
how far involved in the business a woman must be who was so well
acquainted with its conditions and needs. And yet he felt more
tenderly towards her at this moment than he had felt all the
foregoing day. Perhaps it was that her experienced manner and hold
indifference stirred his admiration in spite of himself.
'Take my arm, Lizzy,' he murmured.
'I don't want it,' she said. 'Besides, we may never be to each
other again what we once have been.'
'That depends upon you,' said he, and they went on again as before.
The hired carriers paced along over Chaldon Down with as little
hesitation as if it had been day, avoiding the cart-way, and leaving
the village of East Chaldon on the left, so as to reach the crest of
the hill at a lonely trackless place not far from the ancient
earthwork called Round Pound. An hour's brisk walking brought them
within sound of the sea, not many hundred yards from Lulstead Cove.
Here they paused, and Lizzy and Stockdale came up with them, when
they went on together to the verge of the cliff. One of the men now
produced an iron bar, which he drove firmly into the soil a yard
from the edge, and attached to it a rope that he had uncoiled from
his body. They all began to descend, partly stepping, partly
sliding down the incline, as the rope slipped through their hands.
'You will not go to the bottom, Lizzy?' said Stockdale anxiously.
'No. I stay here to watch,' she said. 'Owlett is down there.'
The men remained quite silent when they reached the shore; and the
next thing audible to the two at the top was the dip of heavy oars,
and the dashing of waves against a boat's bow. In a moment the keel
gently touched the shingle, and Stockdale heard the footsteps of the
thirty-six carriers running forwards over the pebbles towards the
point of landing.
There was a sousing in the water as of a brood of ducks plunging in,
showing that the men had not been particular about keeping their
legs, or even their waists, dry from the brine: but it was
impossible to see what they were doing, and in a few minutes the
shingle was trampled again. The iron bar sustaining the rope, on
which Stockdale's hand rested, began to swerve a little, and the
carriers one by one appeared climbing up the sloping cliff; dripping
audibly as they came, and sustaining themselves by the guide-rope.
Each man on reaching the top was seen to be carrying a pair of tubs,
one on his back and one on his chest, the two being slung together
by cords passing round the chine hoops, and resting on the carrier's
shoulders. Some of the stronger men carried three by putting an
extra one on the top behind, but the customary load was a pair,
these being quite weighty enough to give their bearer the sensation
of having chest and backbone in contact after a walk of four or five
'Where is Owlett?' said Lizzy to one of them.
'He will not come up this way,' said the carrier. 'He's to bide on
shore till we be safe off.' Then, without waiting for the rest, the
foremost men plunged across the down; and, when the last had
ascended, Lizzy pulled up the rope, wound it round her arm, wriggled
the bar from the sod, and turned to follow the carriers.
'You are very anxious about Owlett's safety,' said the minister.
'Was there ever such a man!' said Lizzy. 'Why, isn't he my cousin?'
'Yes. Well, it is a bad night's work,' said Stockdale heavily.
'But I'll carry the bar and rope for you.'
'Thank God, the tubs have got so far all right,' said she.
Stockdale shook his head, and, taking the bar, walked by her side
towards the downs; and the moan of the sea was heard no more.
'Is this what you meant the other day when you spoke of having
business with Owlett?' the young man asked.
'This is it,' she replied. 'I never see him on any other matter.'
'A partnership of that kind with a young man is very odd.'
'It was begun by my father and his, who were brother-laws.'
Her companion could not blind himself to the fact that where tastes
and pursuits were so akin as Lizzy's and Owlett's, and where risks
were shared, as with them, in every undertaking, there would be a
peculiar appropriateness in her answering Owlett's standing question
on matrimony in the affirmative. This did not soothe Stockdale, its
tendency being rather to stimulate in him an effort to make the pair
as inappropriate as possible, and win her away from this nocturnal
crew to correctness of conduct and a minister's parlour in some far-
removed inland county.
They had been walking near enough to the file of carriers for
Stockdale to perceive that, when they got into the road to the
village, they split up into two companies of unequal size, each of
which made off in a direction of its own. One company, the smaller
of the two, went towards the church, and by the time that Lizzy and
Stockdale reached their own house these men had scaled the
churchyard wall, and were proceeding noiselessly over the grass
'I see that Owlett has arranged for one batch to be put in the
church again,' observed Lizzy. 'Do you remember my taking you there
the first night you came?'
'Yes, of course,' said Stockdale. 'No wonder you had permission to
broach the tubs--they were his, I suppose?'
'No, they were not--they were mine; I had permission from myself.
The day after that they went several miles inland in a waggon-load
of manure, and sold very well.'
At this moment the group of men who had made off to the left some
time before began leaping one by one from the hedge opposite Lizzy's
house, and the first man, who had no tubs upon his shoulders, came
'Mrs. Newberry, isn't it?' he said hastily.
'Yes, Jim,' said she. 'What's the matter?'
'I find that we can't put any in Badger's Clump to-night, Lizzy,'
said Owlett. 'The place is watched. We must sling the apple-tree
in the orchet if there's time. We can't put any more under the
church lumber than I have sent on there, and my mixen hev already
more in en than is safe.'
'Very well,' she said. 'Be quick about it--that's all. What can I
'Nothing at all, please. Ah, it is the minister!--you two that
can't do anything had better get indoors and not be zeed.'
While Owlett thus conversed, in a tone so full of contraband anxiety
and so free from lover's jealousy, the men who followed him had been
descending one by one from the hedge; and it unfortunately happened
that when the hindmost took his leap, the cord slipped which
sustained his tubs: the result was that both the kegs fell into the
road, one of them being stove in by the blow.
''Od drown it all!' said Owlett, rushing back.
'It is worth a good deal, I suppose?' said Stockdale.
'O no--about two guineas and half to us now,' said Lizzy excitedly.
'It isn't that--it is the smell! It is so blazing strong before it
has been lowered by water, that it smells dreadfully when spilt in
the road like that! I do hope Latimer won't pass by till it is gone
Owlett and one or two others picked up the burst tub and began to
scrape and trample over the spot, to disperse the liquor as much as
possible; and then they all entered the gate of Owlett's orchard,
which adjoined Lizzy's garden on the right. Stockdale did not care
to follow them, for several on recognizing him had looked
wonderingly at his presence, though they said nothing. Lizzy left
his side and went to the bottom of the garden, looking over the
hedge into the orchard, where the men could be dimly seen bustling
about, and apparently hiding the tubs. All was done noiselessly,
and without a light; and when it was over they dispersed in
different directions, those who had taken their cargoes to the
church having already gone off to their homes.
Lizzy returned to the garden-gate, over which Stockdale was still
abstractedly leaning. 'It is all finished: I am going indoors
now,' she said gently. 'I will leave the door ajar for you.'
'O no--you needn't,' said Stockdale; 'I am coming too.'
But before either of them had moved, the faint clatter of horses'
hoofs broke upon the ear, and it seemed to come from the point where
the track across the down joined the hard road.
'They are just too late!' cried Lizzy exultingly.
'Who?' said Stockdale.
'Latimer, the riding-officer, and some assistant of his. We had
better go indoors.'
They entered the house, and Lizzy bolted the door. 'Please don't
get a light, Mr. Stockdale,' she said.
'Of course I will not,' said he.
'I thought you might be on the side of the king,' said Lizzy, with
'I am,' said Stockdale. 'But, Lizzy Newberry, I love you, and you
know it perfectly well; and you ought to know, if you do not, what I
have suffered in my conscience on your account these last few days!'
'I guess very well,' she said hurriedly. 'Yet I don't see why. Ah,
you are better than I!'
The trotting of the horses seemed to have again died away, and the
pair of listeners touched each other's fingers in the cold 'Good-
night' of those whom something seriously divided. They were on the
landing, but before they had taken three steps apart, the tramp of
the horsemen suddenly revived, almost close to the house. Lizzy
turned to the staircase window, opened the casement about an inch,
and put her face close to the aperture. 'Yes, one of 'em is
Latimer,' she whispered. 'He always rides a white horse. One would
think it was the last colour for a man in that line.'
Stockdale looked, and saw the white shape of the animal as it passed
by; but before the riders had gone another ten yards, Latimer reined
in his horse, and said something to his companion which neither
Stockdale nor Lizzy could hear. Its drift was, however, soon made
evident, for the other man stopped also; and sharply turning the
horses' heads they cautiously retraced their steps. When they were
again opposite Mrs. Newberry's garden, Latimer dismounted, and the
man on the dark horse did the same.
Lizzy and Stockdale, intently listening and observing the
proceedings, naturally put their heads as close as possible to the
slit formed by the slightly opened casement; and thus it occurred
that at last their cheeks came positively into contact. They went
on listening, as if they did not know of the singular incident which
had happened to their faces, and the pressure of each to each rather
increased than lessened with the lapse of time.
They could hear the excisemen sniffing the air like hounds as they
paced slowly along. When they reached the spot where the tub had
burst, both stopped on the instant.
'Ay, ay, 'tis quite strong here,' said the second officer. 'Shall
we knock at the door?'
'Well, no,' said Latimer. 'Maybe this is only a trick to put us off
the scent. They wouldn't kick up this stink anywhere near their
hiding-place. I have known such things before.'
'Anyhow, the things, or some of 'em, must have been brought this
way,' said the other.
'Yes,' said Latimer musingly. 'Unless 'tis all done to tole us the
wrong way. I have a mind that we go home for to-night without
saying a word, and come the first thing in the morning with more
hands. I know they have storages about here, but we can do nothing
by this owl's light. We will look round the parish and see if
everybody is in bed, John; and if all is quiet, we will do as I
They went on, and the two inside the window could hear them passing
leisurely through the whole village, the street of which curved
round at the bottom and entered the turnpike road at another
junction. This way the excisemen followed, and the amble of their
horses died quite away.
'What will you do?' said Stockdale, withdrawing from his position.
She knew that he alluded to the coming search by the officers, to
divert her attention from their own tender incident by the casement,
which he wished to be passed over as a thing rather dreamt of than
done. 'O, nothing,' she replied, with as much coolness as she could
command under her disappointment at his manner. 'We often have such
storms as this. You would not be frightened if you knew what fools
they are. Fancy riding o' horseback through the place: of course
they will hear and see nobody while they make that noise; but they
are always afraid to get off, in case some of our fellows should
burst out upon 'em, and tie them up to the gate-post, as they have
done before now. Good-night, Mr. Stockdale.'
She closed the window and went to her room, where a tear fell from
her eyes; and that not because of the alertness of the riding-
CHAPTER VI--THE GREAT SEARCH AT NETHER-MOYNTON
Stockdale was so excited by the events of the evening, and the
dilemma that he was placed in between conscience and love, that he
did not sleep, or even doze, but remained as broadly awake as at
noonday. As soon as the grey light began to touch ever so faintly
the whiter objects in his bedroom he arose, dressed himself, and
went downstairs into the road.
The village was already astir. Several of the carriers had heard
the well-known tramp of Latimer's horse while they were undressing
in the dark that night, and had already communicated with each other
and Owlett on the subject. The only doubt seemed to be about the
safety of those tubs which had been left under the church gallery-
stairs, and after a short discussion at the corner of the mill, it
was agreed that these should be removed before it got lighter, and
hidden in the middle of a double hedge bordering the adjoining
field. However, before anything could be carried into effect, the
footsteps of many men were heard coming down the lane from the
'Damn it, here they be,' said Owlett, who, having already drawn the
hatch and started his mill for the day, stood stolidly at the mill-
door covered with flour, as if the interest of his whole soul was
bound up in the shaking walls around him.
The two or three with whom he had been talking dispersed to their
usual work, and when the excise officers, and the formidable body of
men they had hired, reached the village cross, between the mill and
Mrs. Newberry's house, the village wore the natural aspect of a
place beginning its morning labours.
'Now,' said Latimer to his associates, who numbered thirteen men in
all, 'what I know is that the things are somewhere in this here
place. We have got the day before us, and 'tis hard if we can't
light upon 'em and get 'em to Budmouth Custom-house before night.
First we will try the fuel-houses, and then we'll work our way into
the chimmers, and then to the ricks and stables, and so creep round.
You have nothing but your noses to guide ye, mind, so use 'em to-day
if you never did in your lives before.'
Then the search began. Owlett, during the early part, watched from
his mill-window, Lizzy from the door of her house, with the greatest
self-possession. A farmer down below, who also had a share in the
run, rode about with one eye on his fields and the other on Latimer
and his myrmidons, prepared to put them off the scent if he should
be asked a question. Stockdale, who was no smuggler at all, felt
more anxiety than the worst of them, and went about his studies with
a heavy heart, coming frequently to the door to ask Lizzy some
question or other on the consequences to her of the tubs being
'The consequences,' she said quietly, 'are simply that I shall lose
'em. As I have none in the house or garden, they can't touch me
'But you have some in the orchard?'
'Owlett rents that of me, and he lends it to others. So it will be
hard to say who put any tubs there if they should be found.'
There was never such a tremendous sniffing known as that which took
place in Nether-Moynton parish and its vicinity this day. All was
done methodically, and mostly on hands and knees. At different
hours of the day they had different plans. From daybreak to
breakfast-time the officers used their sense of smell in a direct
and straightforward manner only, pausing nowhere but at such places
as the tubs might be supposed to be secreted in at that very moment,
pending their removal on the following night. Among the places
tested and examined were
Hollow trees Cupboards Culverts
Potato-graves Clock-cases Hedgerows
Fuel-houses Chimney-flues Faggot-ricks
Bedrooms Rainwater-butts Haystacks
Apple-lofts Pigsties Coppers and ovens.
After breakfast they recommenced with renewed vigour, taking a new
line; that is to say, directing their attention to clothes that
might be supposed to have come in contact with the tubs in their
removal from the shore, such garments being usually tainted with the
spirit, owing to its oozing between the staves. They now sniffed at
Smock-frocks Smiths' and shoemakers' aprons
Old shirts and waistcoats Knee-naps and hedging-gloves
Coats and hats Tarpaulins
Breeches and leggings Market-cloaks
Women's shawls and gowns Scarecrows
And as soon as the mid-day meal was over, they pushed their search
into places where the spirits might have been thrown away in alarm:-
Horse-ponds Mixens Sinks in yards
Stable-drains Wet ditches Road-scrapings, and
Cinder-heaps Cesspools Back-door gutters.
But still these indefatigable excisemen discovered nothing more than
the original tell-tale smell in the road opposite Lizzy's house,
which even yet had not passed off.
'I'll tell ye what it is, men,' said Latimer, about three o'clock in
the afternoon, 'we must begin over again. Find them tubs I will.'
The men, who had been hired for the day, looked at their hands and
knees, muddy with creeping on all fours so frequently, and rubbed
their noses, as if they had almost had enough of it; for the
quantity of bad air which had passed into each one's nostril had
rendered it nearly as insensible as a flue. However, after a
moment's hesitation, they prepared to start anew, except three,
whose power of smell had quite succumbed under the excessive wear
and tear of the day.
By this time not a male villager was to be seen in the parish.
Owlett was not at his mill, the farmers were not in their fields,
the parson was not in his garden, the smith had left his forge, and
the wheelwright's shop was silent.
'Where the divil are the folk gone?' said Latimer, waking up to the
fact of their absence, and looking round. 'I'll have 'em up for
this! Why don't they come and help us? There's not a man about the
place but the Methodist parson, and he's an old woman. I demand
assistance in the king's name!'
'We must find the jineral public afore we can demand that,' said his
'Well, well, we shall do better without 'em,' said Latimer, who
changed his moods at a moment's notice. 'But there's great cause of
suspicion in this silence and this keeping out of sight, and I'll
bear it in mind. Now we will go across to Owlett's orchard, and see
what we can find there.'
Stockdale, who heard this discussion from the garden-gate, over
which he had been leaning, was rather alarmed, and thought it a
mistake of the villagers to keep so completely out of the way. He
himself, like the excisemen, had been wondering for the last half-
hour what could have become of them. Some labourers were of
necessity engaged in distant fields, but the master-workmen should
have been at home; though one and all, after just showing themselves
at their shops, had apparently gone off for the day. He went in to
Lizzy, who sat at a back window sewing, and said, 'Lizzy, where are
Lizzy laughed. 'Where they mostly are when they're run so hard as
this.' She cast her eyes to heaven. 'Up there,' she said.
Stockdale looked up. 'What--on the top of the church tower?' he
asked, seeing the direction of her glance.
'Well, I expect they will soon have to come down,' said he gravely.
'I have been listening to the officers, and they are going to search
the orchard over again, and then every nook in the church.'
Lizzy looked alarmed for the first time. 'Will you go and tell our
folk?' she said. 'They ought to be let know.' Seeing his
conscience struggling within him like a boiling pot, she added, 'No,
never mind, I'll go myself.'
She went out, descended the garden, and climbed over the churchyard
wall at the same time that the preventive-men were ascending the
road to the orchard. Stockdale could do no less than follow her.
By the time that she reached the tower entrance he was at her side,
and they entered together.
Nether-Moynton church-tower was, as in many villages, without a
turret, and the only way to the top was by going up to the singers'
gallery, and thence ascending by a ladder to a square trap-door in
the floor of the bell-loft, above which a permanent ladder was
fixed, passing through the bells to a hole in the roof. When Lizzy
and Stockdale reached the gallery and looked up, nothing but the
trap-door and the five holes for the bell-ropes appeared. The
ladder was gone.
'There's no getting up,' said Stockdale.
'O yes, there is,' said she. 'There's an eye looking at us at this
moment through a knot-hole in that trap-door.'
And as she spoke the trap opened, and the dark line of the ladder
was seen descending against the white-washed wall. When it touched
the bottom Lizzy dragged it to its place, and said, 'If you'll go
up, I'll follow.'
The young man ascended, and presently found himself among
consecrated bells for the first time in his life, nonconformity
having been in the Stockdale blood for some generations. He eyed
them uneasily, and looked round for Lizzy. Owlett stood here,
holding the top of the ladder.
'What, be you really one of us?' said the miller.
'It seems so,' said Stockdale sadly.
'He's not,' said Lizzy, who overheard. 'He's neither for nor
against us. He'll do us no harm.'
She stepped up beside them, and then they went on to the next stage,
which, when they had clambered over the dusty bell-carriages, was of
easy ascent, leading towards the hole through which the pale sky
appeared, and into the open air. Owlett remained behind for a
moment, to pull up the lower ladder.
'Keep down your heads,' said a voice, as soon as they set foot on
Stockdale here beheld all the missing parishioners, lying on their
stomachs on the tower roof, except a few who, elevated on their
hands and knees, were peeping through the embrasures of the parapet.
Stockdale did the same, and saw the village lying like a map below
him, over which moved the figures of the excisemen, each
foreshortened to a crablike object, the crown of his hat forming a
circular disc in the centre of him. Some of the men had turned
their heads when the young preacher's figure arose among them.
'What, Mr. Stockdale?' said Matt Grey, in a tone of surprise.
'I'd as lief that it hadn't been,' said Jim Clarke. 'If the pa'son
should see him a trespassing here in his tower, 'twould be none the
better for we, seeing how 'a do hate chapel-members. He'd never buy
a tub of us again, and he's as good a customer as we have got this
side o' Warm'll.'
'Where is the pa'son?' said Lizzy.
'In his house, to be sure, that he mid see nothing of what's going
on--where all good folks ought to be, and this young man likewise.'
'Well, he has brought some news,' said Lizzy. 'They are going to
search the orchet and church; can we do anything if they should
'Yes,' said her cousin Owlett. 'That's what we've been talking o',
and we have settled our line. Well, be dazed!'
The exclamation was caused by his perceiving that some of the
searchers, having got into the orchard, and begun stooping and
creeping hither and thither, were pausing in the middle, where a
tree smaller than the rest was growing. They drew closer, and bent
lower than ever upon the ground.
'O, my tubs!' said Lizzy faintly, as she peered through the parapet
'They have got 'em, 'a b'lieve,' said Owlett.
The interest in the movements of the officers was so keen that not a
single eye was looking in any other direction; but at that moment a
shout from the church beneath them attracted the attention of the
smugglers, as it did also of the party in the orchard, who sprang to
their feet and went towards the churchyard wall. At the same time
those of the Government men who had entered the church unperceived
by the smugglers cried aloud, 'Here be some of 'em at last.'
The smugglers remained in a blank silence, uncertain whether 'some
of 'em' meant tubs or men; but again peeping cautiously over the
edge of the tower they learnt that tubs were the things descried;
and soon these fated articles were brought one by one into the
middle of the churchyard from their hiding-place under the gallery-
'They are going to put 'em on Hinton's vault till they find the
rest!' said Lizzy hopelessly. The excisemen had, in fact, begun to
pile up the tubs on a large stone slab which was fixed there; and
when all were brought out from the tower, two or three of the men
were left standing by them, the rest of the party again proceeding
to the orchard.
The interest of the smugglers in the next manoeuvres of their
enemies became painfully intense. Only about thirty tubs had been
secreted in the lumber of the tower, but seventy were hidden in the
orchard, making up all that they had brought ashore as yet, the
remainder of the cargo having been tied to a sinker and dropped
overboard for another night's operations. The excisemen, having re-
entered the orchard, acted as if they were positive that here lay
hidden the rest of the tubs, which they were determined to find
before nightfall. They spread themselves out round the field, and
advancing on all fours as before, went anew round every apple-tree
in the enclosure. The young tree in the middle again led them to
pause, and at length the whole company gathered there in a way which
signified that a second chain of reasoning had led to the same
results as the first.
When they had examined the sod hereabouts for some minutes, one of
the men rose, ran to a disused porch of the church where tools were
kept, and returned with the sexton's pickaxe and shovel, with which
they set to work.
'Are they really buried there?' said the minister, for the grass was
so green and uninjured that it was difficult to believe it had been
disturbed. The smugglers were too interested to reply, and
presently they saw, to their chagrin, the officers stand several on
each side of the tree; and, stooping and applying their hands to the
soil, they bodily lifted the tree and the turf around it. The
apple-tree now showed itself to be growing in a shallow box, with
handles for lifting at each of the four sides. Under the site of
the tree a square hole was revealed, and an exciseman went and
'It is all up now,' said Owlett quietly. 'And now all of ye get
down before they notice we are here; and be ready for our next move.
I had better bide here till dark, or they may take me on suspicion,
as 'tis on my ground. I'll be with ye as soon as daylight begins to
'And I?' said Lizzy.
'You please look to the linch-pins and screws; then go indoors and
know nothing at all. The chaps will do the rest.'
The ladder was replaced, and all but Owlett descended, the men
passing off one by one at the back of the church, and vanishing on
their respective errands.
Lizzy walked boldly along the street, followed closely by the
'You are going indoors, Mrs. Newberry?' he said.
She knew from the words 'Mrs. Newberry' that the division between
them had widened yet another degree.
'I am not going home,' she said. 'I have a little thing to do
before I go in. Martha Sarah will get your tea.'
'O, I don't mean on that account,' said Stockdale. 'What CAN you
have to do further in this unhallowed affair?'
'Only a little,' she said.
'What is that? I'll go with you.'
'No, I shall go by myself. Will you please go indoors? I shall be
there in less than an hour.'
'You are not going to run any danger, Lizzy?' said the young man,
his tenderness reasserting itself.
'None whatever--worth mentioning,' answered she, and went down
towards the Cross.
Stockdale entered the garden gate, and stood behind it looking on.
The excisemen were still busy in the orchard, and at last he was
tempted to enter, and watch their proceedings. When he came closer
he found that the secret cellar, of whose existence he had been
totally unaware, was formed by timbers placed across from side to
side about a foot under the ground, and grassed over.
The excisemen looked up at Stockdale's fair and downy countenance,
and evidently thinking him above suspicion, went on with their work
again. As soon as all the tubs were taken out, they began tearing
up the turf; pulling out the timbers, and breaking in the sides,
till the cellar was wholly dismantled and shapeless, the apple-tree
lying with its roots high to the air. But the hole which had in its
time held so much contraband merchandize was never completely filled
up, either then or afterwards, a depression in the greensward
marking the spot to this day.
CHAPTER VII--THE WALK TO WARM'ELL CROSS AND AFTERWARDS
As the goods had all to be carried to Budmouth that night, the
excisemen's next object was to find horses and carts for the
journey, and they went about the village for that purpose. Latimer
strode hither and thither with a lump of chalk in his hand, marking
broad-arrows so vigorously on every vehicle and set of harness that
he came across, that it seemed as if he would chalk broad-arrows on
the very hedges and roads. The owner of every conveyance so marked
was bound to give it up for Government purposes. Stockdale, who had
had enough of the scene, turned indoors thoughtful and depressed.
Lizzy was already there, having come in at the back, though she had
not yet taken off her bonnet. She looked tired, and her mood was
not much brighter than his own. They had but little to say to each
other; and the minister went away and attempted to read; but at this
he could not succeed, and he shook the little bell for tea.
Lizzy herself brought in the tray, the girl having run off into the
village during the afternoon, too full of excitement at the
proceedings to remember her state of life. However, almost before
the sad lovers had said anything to each other, Martha came in in a
'O, there's such a stoor, Mrs. Newberry and Mr. Stockdale! The
king's excisemen can't get the carts ready nohow at all! They
pulled Thomas Ballam's, and William Rogers's, and Stephen Sprake's
carts into the road, and off came the wheels, and down fell the
carts; and they found there was no linch-pins in the arms; and then
they tried Samuel Shane's waggon, and found that the screws were
gone from he, and at last they looked at the dairyman's cart, and
he's got none neither! They have gone now to the blacksmith's to
get some made, but he's nowhere to be found!'
Stockdale looked at Lizzy, who blushed very slightly, and went out
of the room, followed by Martha Sarah. But before they had got
through the passage there was a rap at the front door, and Stockdale
recognized Latimer's voice addressing Mrs. Newberry, who had turned
'For God's sake, Mrs. Newberry, have you seen Hardman the blacksmith
up this way? If we could get hold of him, we'd e'en a'most drag him
by the hair of his head to his anvil, where he ought to be.'
'He's an idle man, Mr. Latimer,' said Lizzy archly. 'What do you
want him for?'
'Why, there isn't a horse in the place that has got more than three
shoes on, and some have only two. The waggon-wheels be without
strakes, and there's no linch-pins to the carts. What with that,
and the bother about every set of harness being out of order, we
shan't be off before nightfall--upon my soul we shan't. 'Tis a
rough lot, Mrs. Newberry, that you've got about you here; but
they'll play at this game once too often, mark my words they will!
There's not a man in the parish that don't deserve to be whipped.'
It happened that Hardman was at that moment a little further up the
lane, smoking his pipe behind a holly-bush. When Latimer had done
speaking he went on in this direction, and Hardman, hearing the
exciseman's steps, found curiosity too strong for prudence. He
peeped out from the bush at the very moment that Latimer's glance
was on it. There was nothing left for him to do but to come forward
'I've been looking for you for the last hour!' said Latimer with a
glare in his eye.
'Sorry to hear that,' said Hardman. 'I've been out for a stroll, to
look for more hid tubs, to deliver 'em up to Gover'ment.'
'O yes, Hardman, we know it,' said Latimer, with withering sarcasm.
'We know that you'll deliver 'em up to Gover'ment. We know that all
the parish is helping us, and have been all day! Now you please
walk along with me down to your shop, and kindly let me hire ye in
the king's name.'
They went down the lane together; and presently there resounded from
the smithy the ring of a hammer not very briskly swung. However,
the carts and horses were got into some sort of travelling
condition, but it was not until after the clock had struck six, when
the muddy roads were glistening under the horizontal light of the
fading day. The smuggled tubs were soon packed into the vehicles,
and Latimer, with three of his assistants, drove slowly out of the
village in the direction of the port of Budmouth, some considerable
number of miles distant, the other excisemen being left to watch for
the remainder of the cargo, which they knew to have been sunk
somewhere between Ringsworth and Lulstead Cove, and to unearth
Owlett, the only person clearly implicated by the discovery of the
Women and children stood at the doors as the carts, each chalked
with the Government pitchfork, passed in the increasing twilight;
and as they stood they looked at the confiscated property with a
melancholy expression that told only too plainly the relation which
they bore to the trade.
'Well, Lizzy,' said Stockdale, when the crackle of the wheels had
nearly died away. 'This is a fit finish to your adventure. I am
truly thankful that you have got off without suspicion, and the loss
only of the liquor. Will you sit down and let me talk to you?'
'By and by,' she said. 'But I must go out now.'
'Not to that horrid shore again?' he said blankly.
'No, not there. I am only going to see the end of this day's
He did not answer to this, and she moved towards the door slowly, as
if waiting for him to say something more.
'You don't offer to come with me,' she added at last. 'I suppose
that's because you hate me after all this?'
'Can you say it, Lizzy, when you know I only want to save you from
such practices? Come with you of course I will, if it is only to
take care of you. But why will you go out again?'
'Because I cannot rest indoors. Something is happening, and I must
know what. Now, come!' And they went into the dusk together.
When they reached the turnpike-road she turned to the right, and he
soon perceived that they were following the direction of the
excisemen and their load. He had given her his arm, and every now
and then she suddenly pulled it back, to signify that he was to halt
a moment and listen. They had walked rather quickly along the first
quarter of a mile, and on the second or third time of standing still
she said, 'I hear them ahead--don't you?'
'Yes,' he said; 'I hear the wheels. But what of that?'
'I only want to know if they get clear away from the neighbourhood.'
'Ah,' said he, a light breaking upon him. 'Something desperate is
to be attempted!--and now I remember there was not a man about the
village when we left.'
'Hark!' she murmured. The noise of the cartwheels had stopped, and
given place to another sort of sound.
''Tis a scuffle!' said Stockdale. 'There'll be murder! Lizzy, let
go my arm; I am going on. On my conscience, I must not stay here
and do nothing!'
'There'll be no murder, and not even a broken head,' she said. 'Our
men are thirty to four of them: no harm will be done at all.'
'Then there IS an attack!' exclaimed Stockdale; 'and you knew it was
to be. Why should you side with men who break the laws like this?'
'Why should you side with men who take from country traders what
they have honestly bought wi' their own money in France?' said she
'They are not honestly bought,' said he.
'They are,' she contradicted. 'I and Owlett and the others paid
thirty shillings for every one of the tubs before they were put on
board at Cherbourg, and if a king who is nothing to us sends his
people to steal our property, we have a right to steal it back
Stockdale did not stop to argue the matter, but went quickly in the
direction of the noise, Lizzy keeping at his side. 'Don't you
interfere, will you, dear Richard?' she said anxiously, as they drew
near. 'Don't let us go any closer: 'tis at Warm'ell Cross where
they are seizing 'em. You can do no good, and you may meet with a
'Let us see first what is going on,' he said. But before they had
got much further the noise of the cartwheels began again; and
Stockdale soon found that they were coming towards him. In another
minute the three carts came up, and Stockdale and Lizzy stood in the
ditch to let them pass.
Instead of being conducted by four men, as had happened when they
went out of the village, the horses and carts were now accompanied
by a body of from twenty to thirty, all of whom, as Stockdale
perceived to his astonishment, had blackened faces. Among them
walked six or eight huge female figures, whom, from their wide
strides, Stockdale guessed to be men in disguise. As soon as the
party discerned Lizzy and her companion four or five fell back, and
when the carts had passed, came close to the pair.
'There is no walking up this way for the present,' said one of the
gaunt women, who wore curls a foot long, dangling down the sides of
her face, in the fashion of the time. Stockdale recognized this
lady's voice as Owlett's.
'Why not?' said Stockdale. 'This is the public highway.'
'Now look here, youngster,' said Owlett. 'O, 'tis the Methodist
parson!--what, and Mrs. Newberry! Well, you'd better not go up that
way, Lizzy. They've all run off, and folks have got their own
The miller then hastened on and joined his comrades. Stockdale and
Lizzy also turned back. 'I wish all this hadn't been forced upon
us,' she said regretfully. 'But if those excisemen had got off with
the tubs, half the people in the parish would have been in want for
the next month or two.'
Stockdale was not paying much attention to her words, and he said,
'I don't think I can go back like this. Those four poor excisemen
may be murdered for all I know.'
'Murdered!' said Lizzy impatiently. 'We don't do murder here.'
'Well, I shall go as far as Warm'ell Cross to see,' said Stockdale
decisively; and, without wishing her safe home or anything else, the
minister turned back. Lizzy stood looking at him till his form was
absorbed in the shades; and then, with sadness, she went in the
direction of Nether-Moynton.
The road was lonely, and after nightfall at this time of the year
there was often not a passer for hours. Stockdale pursued his way
without hearing a sound beyond that of his own footsteps; and in due
time he passed beneath the trees of the plantation which surrounded
the Warm'ell Cross-road. Before he had reached the point of
intersection he heard voices from the thicket.
'Hoi-hoi-hoi! Help, help!'
The voices were not at all feeble or despairing, but they were
unmistakably anxious. Stockdale had no weapon, and before plunging
into the pitchy darkness of the plantation he pulled a stake from
the hedge, to use in case of need. When he got among the trees he
shouted--'What's the matter--where are you?'
'Here,' answered the voices; and, pushing through the brambles in
that direction, he came near the objects of his search.
'Why don't you come forward?' said Stockdale.
'We be tied to the trees!'
'Who are you?'
'Poor Will Latimer the exciseman!' said one plaintively. 'Just come
and cut these cords, there's a good man. We were afraid nobody
would pass by to-night.'
Stockdale soon loosened them, upon which they stretched their limbs
and stood at their ease.
'The rascals!' said Latimer, getting now into a rage, though he had
seemed quite meek when Stockdale first came up. ''Tis the same set
of fellows. I know they were Moynton chaps to a man.'
'But we can't swear to 'em,' said another. 'Not one of 'em spoke.'
'What are you going to do?' said Stockdale.
'I'd fain go back to Moynton, and have at 'em again!' said Latimer.
'So would we!' said his comrades.
'Fight till we die!' said Latimer.
'We will, we will!' said his men.
'But,' said Latimer, more frigidly, as they came out of the
plantation, 'we don't KNOW that these chaps with black faces were
Moynton men? And proof is a hard thing.'
'So it is,' said the rest.
'And therefore we won't do nothing at all,' said Latimer, with
complete dispassionateness. 'For my part, I'd sooner be them than
we. The clitches of my arms are burning like fire from the cords
those two strapping women tied round 'em. My opinion is, now I have
had time to think o't, that you may serve your Gover'ment at too
high a price. For these two nights and days I have not had an
hour's rest; and, please God, here's for home-along.'
The other officers agreed heartily to this course; and, thanking
Stockdale for his timely assistance, they parted from him at the
Cross, taking themselves the western road, and Stockdale going back
During that walk the minister was lost in reverie of the most
painful kind. As soon as he got into the house, and before entering
his own rooms, he advanced to the door of the little back parlour in
which Lizzy usually sat with her mother. He found her there alone.
Stockdale went forward, and, like a man in a dream, looked down upon
the table that stood between him and the young woman, who had her
bonnet and cloak still on. As he did not speak, she looked up from
her chair at him, with misgiving in her eye.
'Where are they gone?' he then said listlessly.
'Who?--I don't know. I have seen nothing of them since. I came
straight in here.'
'If your men can manage to get off with those tubs, it will be a
great profit to you, I suppose?'
'A share will be mine, a share my cousin Owlett's, a share to each
of the two farmers, and a share divided amongst the men who helped
'And you still think,' he went on slowly, 'that you will not give
this business up?'
Lizzy rose, and put her hand upon his shoulder. 'Don't ask that,'
she whispered. 'You don't know what you are asking. I must tell
you, though I meant not to do it. What I make by that trade is all
I have to keep my mother and myself with.'
He was astonished. 'I did not dream of such a thing,' he said. 'I
would rather have swept the streets, had I been you. What is money
compared with a clear conscience?'
'My conscience is clear. I know my mother, but the king I have
never seen. His dues are nothing to me. But it is a great deal to
me that my mother and I should live.'
'Marry me, and promise to give it up. I will keep your mother.'
'It is good of you,' she said, trembling a little. 'Let me think of
it by myself. I would rather not answer now.'
She reserved her answer till the next day, and came into his room
with a solemn face. 'I cannot do what you wished!' she said
passionately. 'It is too much to ask. My whole life ha' been
passed in this way.' Her words and manner showed that before
entering she had been struggling with herself in private, and that
the contention had been strong.
Stockdale turned pale, but he spoke quietly. 'Then, Lizzy, we must
part. I cannot go against my principles in this matter, and I
cannot make my profession a mockery. You know how I love you, and
what I would do for you; but this one thing I cannot do.'
'But why should you belong to that profession?' she burst out. 'I
have got this large house; why can't you marry me, and live here
with us, and not be a Methodist preacher any more? I assure you,
Richard, it is no harm, and I wish you could only see it as I do!
We only carry it on in winter: in summer it is never done at all.
It stirs up one's dull life at this time o' the year, and gives
excitement, which I have got so used to now that I should hardly
know how to do 'ithout it. At nights, when the wind blows, instead
of being dull and stupid, and not noticing whether it do blow or
not, your mind is afield, even if you are not afield yourself; and
you are wondering how the chaps are getting on; and you walk up and
down the room, and look out o' window, and then you go out yourself,
and know your way about as well by night as by day, and have
hairbreadth escapes from old Latimer and his fellows, who are too
stupid ever to really frighten us, and only make us a bit nimble.'
'He frightened you a little last night, anyhow: and I would advise
you to drop it before it is worse.'
She shook her head. 'No, I must go on as I have begun. I was born
to it. It is in my blood, and I can't be cured. O, Richard, you
cannot think what a hard thing you have asked, and how sharp you try
me when you put me between this and my love for 'ee!'
Stockdale was leaning with his elbow on the mantelpiece, his hands
over his eyes. 'We ought never to have met, Lizzy,' he said. 'It
was an ill day for us! I little thought there was anything so
hopeless and impossible in our engagement as this. Well, it is too
late now to regret consequences in this way. I have had the
happiness of seeing you and knowing you at least.'
'You dissent from Church, and I dissent from State,' she said. 'And
I don't see why we are not well matched.'
He smiled sadly, while Lizzy remained looking down, her eyes
beginning to overflow.
That was an unhappy evening for both of them, and the days that
followed were unhappy days. Both she and he went mechanically about
their employments, and his depression was marked in the village by
more than one of his denomination with whom he came in contact. But
Lizzy, who passed her days indoors, was unsuspected of being the
cause: for it was generally understood that a quiet engagement to
marry existed between her and her cousin Owlett, and had existed for
Thus uncertainly the week passed on; till one morning Stockdale said
to her: 'I have had a letter, Lizzy. I must call you that till I
'Gone?' said she blankly.
'Yes,' he said. 'I am going from this place. I felt it would be
better for us both that I should not stay after what has happened.
In fact, I couldn't stay here, and look on you from day to day,
without becoming weak and faltering in my course. I have just heard
of an arrangement by which the other minister can arrive here in
about a week; and let me go elsewhere.'
That he had all this time continued so firmly fixed in his
resolution came upon her as a grievous surprise. 'You never loved
me!' she said bitterly.
'I might say the same,' he returned; 'but I will not. Grant me one
favour. Come and hear my last sermon on the day before I go.'
Lizzy, who was a church-goer on Sunday mornings, frequently attended
Stockdale's chapel in the evening with the rest of the double-
minded; and she promised.
It became known that Stockdale was going to leave, and a good many
people outside his own sect were sorry to hear it. The intervening
days flew rapidly away, and on the evening of the Sunday which
preceded the morning of his departure Lizzy sat in the chapel to
hear him for the last time. The little building was full to
overflowing, and he took up the subject which all had expected, that
of the contraband trade so extensively practised among them. His
hearers, in laying his words to their own hearts, did not perceive
that they were most particularly directed against Lizzy, till the
sermon waxed warm, and Stockdale nearly broke down with emotion. In
truth his own earnestness, and her sad eyes looking up at him, were
too much for the young man's equanimity. He hardly knew how he
ended. He saw Lizzy, as through a mist, turn and go away with the
rest of the congregation; and shortly afterwards followed her home.
She invited him to supper, and they sat down alone, her mother
having, as was usual with her on Sunday nights, gone to bed early.
'We will part friends, won't we?' said Lizzy, with forced gaiety,
and never alluding to the sermon: a reticence which rather
'We will,' he said, with a forced smile on his part; and they sat
It was the first meal that they had ever shared together in their
lives, and probably the last that they would so share. When it was
over, and the indifferent conversation could no longer be continued,
he arose and took her hand. 'Lizzy,' he said, 'do you say we must
'You do,' she said solemnly. 'I can say no more.'
'Nor I,' said he. 'If that is your answer, good-bye!'
Stockdale bent over her and kissed her, and she involuntarily
returned his kiss. 'I shall go early,' he said hurriedly. 'I shall
not see you again.'
And he did leave early. He fancied, when stepping forth into the
grey morning light, to mount the van which was to carry him away,
that he saw a face between the parted curtains of Lizzy's window,
but the light was faint, and the panes glistened with wet; so he
could not be sure. Stockdale mounted the vehicle, and was gone; and
on the following Sunday the new minister preached in the chapel of
the Moynton Wesleyans.
One day, two years after the parting, Stockdale, now settled in a
midland town, came into Nether-Moynton by carrier in the original
way. Jogging along in the van that afternoon he had put questions
to the driver, and the answers that he received interested the
minister deeply. The result of them was that he went without the
least hesitation to the door of his former lodging. It was about
six o'clock in the evening, and the same time of year as when he had
left; now, too, the ground was damp and glistening, the west was
bright, and Lizzy's snowdrops were raising their heads in the border
under the wall.
Lizzy must have caught sight of him from the window, for by the time
that he reached the door she was there holding it open: and then,
as if she had not sufficiently considered her act of coming out, she
drew herself back, saying with some constraint, 'Mr. Stockdale!'
'You knew it was,' said Stockdale, taking her hand. 'I wrote to say
I should call.'
'Yes, but you did not say when,' she answered.
'I did not. I was not quite sure when my business would lead me to
'You only came because business brought you near?'
'Well, that is the fact; but I have often thought I should like to
come on purpose to see you . . . But what's all this that has
happened? I told you how it would be, Lizzy, and you would not
listen to me.'
'I would not,' she said sadly. 'But I had been brought up to that
life; and it was second nature to me. However, it is all over now.
The officers have blood-money for taking a man dead or alive, and
the trade is going to nothing. We were hunted down like rats.'
'Owlett is quite gone, I hear.'
'Yes. He is in America. We had a dreadful struggle that last time,
when they tried to take him. It is a perfect miracle that he lived
through it; and it is a wonder that I was not killed. I was shot in
the hand. It was not by aim; the shot was really meant for my
cousin; but I was behind, looking on as usual, and the bullet came
to me. It bled terribly, but I got home without fainting; and it
healed after a time. You know how he suffered?'
'No,' said Stockdale. 'I only heard that he just escaped with his
'He was shot in the back; but a rib turned the ball. He was badly
hurt. We would not let him be took. The men carried him all night
across the meads to Kingsbere, and hid him in a barn, dressing his
wound as well as they could, till he was so far recovered as to be
able to get about. He had gied up his mill for some time; and at
last he got to Bristol, and took a passage to America, and he's
settled in Wisconsin.'
'What do you think of smuggling now?' said the minister gravely.
'I own that we were wrong,' said she. 'But I have suffered for it.
I am very poor now, and my mother has been dead these twelve months
. . . But won't you come in, Mr. Stockdale?'
Stockdale went in; and it is to be supposed that they came to an
understanding; for a fortnight later there was a sale of Lizzy's
furniture, and after that a wedding at a chapel in a neighbouring
He took her away from her old haunts to the home that he had made
for himself in his native county, where she studied her duties as a
minister's wife with praiseworthy assiduity. It is said that in
after years she wrote an excellent tract called Render unto Caesar;
or, The Repentant Villagers, in which her own experience was
anonymously used as the introductory story. Stockdale got it
printed, after making some corrections, and putting in a few
powerful sentences of his own; and many hundreds of copies were
distributed by the couple in the course of their married life.
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