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imitation of the Earl of Barfield in his gait, and he paused at times after a fashion his lordship had, and perked his head from side to side as if in casual observation of the general well-being.

“Good morning, Lord Barfield,” cried Snac as Joseph drew near. “It's a sight for sore eyes to see your lordship a-lookin' so young and lusty.” Joseph beamed at this public crowning of his loftiest hopes, and would have gone by with a mere nod of lordly recognition but the triumph was too much for him, and he laughed aloud for joy. “Well, bless my soul !” said Snac in feigned astonishment, “it's Mister Beaker! Send I may live if I didn't tek him for the Right Honourable th' Earl o' Barfield! Thee'st shake hands with an old friend, Mr. Beaker? That's right. Theer's nothin' I admire so much as to see a man as refuses to be carried away with pride." Joseph shook hands almost with enthusiasm.

“ Theer's nothin' o' that sort about me, Mr. Eld,” he replied.

“ That I'm sure on," said Snac with conviction. “But how gay we be to-day, Mr. Beaker.”

" It was my lord as gi'en me these," said Joseph retiring a pace or two to display his raiment, and gravely turning round in the presence of the little crowd that surrounded him so that each might see the fulness of its beauty.

At this moment Reuben Gold came swinging along the road with a green baize bag under his arm. He was on his way to his uncle's house, and unobserved of Snac, took a place on the causeway to see what might be the reason of this unusual gathering.

“Now,” said Snac, “I never thought as Lord Barfield 'ud be so mean as to do things in that half-an’-half manner. I should ha' fancied as if Lord Barfield had took it into his head to set up an extra gentleman in livery he'd ha' done it thorough.”

Joseph's countenance fell, and he surveyed his own arms and legs with an air of criticism. Then he took hold of the gold-laced Aaps of the crimson waistcoat and laughed with a swift and intense approval.

“Ain't this been done thorough ?” he demanded.

“As far as it goes, Joseph,” replied the jocular Snac, “it's noble, to be sure." Joseph became critical again, but again at the sight of the gold-laced waistcoat his doubts vanished. “But surely, surely, Joseph, he should ha' gi'en you a pair o' them high collars as he wears, and a cravat, to go along with a getout like that.”

“He might ha' done that, to be sure," said Joseph tentatively.

“Might ha' done it !” cried Snac with a voice of honest scorn. “ Ah! and would ha’ done it if he'd been half a man, let alone a peer of the realm. For that's what he is, Joseph a peer of the realm.”

“So he is,” said the poor Joseph, who was rapidly sliding into the trap which was set for him. “You would have expected a peer of the realm to do it thorough, wouldn't you?”

“ Look here, Joseph,” continued Snac, opening his trap wide, “ you go and tell him. ‘My lord,' says you-a-speakin' like a man, Joseph, and a-lookin' his lordship i' the face as a man in a suit of clothes like them has got a right to do—my lord,' you says,

you're as mean as you're high,' says you. · What for?' says he. Why,' says you, 'for settin' a man out i' this half-an'-half mode for the folks to laugh at. Give me a collar and a cravat this minute,' you says, 'or else be ashamed o' thyself. Be ayther a man or a mouse.' That's the way to talk to 'em, Joseph.”

“ Think so?” asked Joseph, with an air half martial and half doubtful.

“To be sure!” cried Snac, and with one exception everybody in the little crowd echoed “To be sure !"

“I'll goo an' do it,” said Joseph, thus fortified, “this instant minute."

“Wait a bit, Joseph,” said Reuben Gold, “I'm going that way. We'll go a little of the road together.”

“Now, Mr. Gold," cried Snac in a whisper, recognising Reuben's voice before he turned, “don't you go an' spoil sport.”.

“Snac, my lad,” responded Reuben smiling, “it's poor sport."

“He'd goo an' tell him," said Snac with a delighted grin. “You can mek him say annythin'.”

“That's why it's such poor sport,” said Reuben. “It's too easy. It's sport to stand up for a bout with the sticks, when the other man's a bit better than you are ; but it's no fun to beat a baby."

“I like it better," Snac replied with candour, “when th' odds is on t' other side. I like to be a bit better than t' other chap."

“You like to win ? That's natural. But you like to deserve a bit of praise for winning. Eh?”.

Reuben walked away with the rescued Joseph at his side. Joseph was as yet unconscious of his rescue, and was fully bent upon his message to the Earl.

“Theer's no denyin' that chap nothin',” “A message in a wheelbarrow for a shilling, said Snac, looking after Reuben's retiring and a pair of collars and a black satin cravat figure. “He's got that form an' smilin' to come home in, Joseph.” manner as'll tek no such thing as a no. An “Gaffer," said Joseph, “it's a bargain.” lettin' that alone,” he continued, again relaps- Reuben's message was Ezra Gold's musical ing into candour, “he could punch my library, and the volumes having been carefully head if he wanted to, though I'm a match built up in a roomy wheelbarrow, Joseph set for ere another man i' the parish-and he'd out with them at a leisurely pace towards his do it too, at anny given minute, for all so patron's home. Reuben on first entering his mild as he is.”

uncle's house had laid the green baize bag upon “He's the spit of what his uncle was," the table. When the books were all arranged, said the aged rustic. “When he was a lad and Joseph had started away with them, he was the best cudgel player, the best man Reuben re-entered. of his hands, and the prettiest man of his “I've brought the old lady back again, feet, from here to Castle Barfield.”

uncle," he said. “ He's fell off of late 'ears, then," said “You've eased her down I hope, lad,” said Snac.

the old man, untying the bag and drawing "Ah!" quavered the old fellow. “It's forth the violin. “That's right. As for time as is too many for the best on us, Mr. bringing her back again, you remember what Eld. Who'd think as I'd iver stood again used to be the sayin' when you was a child, all comers for miles an' miles around for the Give a thing and take a thing, that's the ten-score yards? I did though !”

devil's plaything.' I meant thee to keep her, “Didst ?” cried Snac. “Then tek a shillin' lad. It's a sin an'a shame as such a voice and get a drop o' good stuff wi' it, an' warm should be silent." up that old gizzard o' thine wi' thinkin' o' “Uncle," said Reuben, stammering somethy younger days."

what, “ I scarcely like to take her. It seems And away he swaggered, carrying his like4like trespassing on your goodness." shilling's worth with him in the commenda- “I won't demean th' old lady,” returned tions of the rustic circle. He was a young Ezra. “Her comes o' the right breed to have man who liked to be well thought of, and to all the virtues of her kind. Her's a Stradithat end did most of his benefactions in the varius, Reuben, and my grandfather gi'en open air.

fifty guineas for her in the year seventeen In the meantime Reuben had disappeared hundred an' sixty-one. A king might mek a with Joseph, and was already engaged in present of her to a king. And that's why in spoiling the village sport. Joseph was so the natural selfishness of a man's heart I resolved upon the collars and the cravat, kep' her all these 'ears hangin' dumb and and his imagination was so fired by the idle on the wall here. I take some shame to prospect of those splendid additions to his myself as I acted so, for you might ha' had toilette, that Reuben was compelled to her half a dozen years ago, and ha' done her promise them from his own stores. Joseph no less than as much justice as I could iver became at once amenable to reason, and ha' done her myself at the best days of my promised to overlook his lordship's mean- life. Her's yourn, my lad, and I only mek ness.

one bargain. If you should marry and have " Are you going to do anything for his childern of your own, and one of 'em should lordship to-day, Joseph ?” his protector be a player, he can have her, but if not, I ask asked him.

you to will her to somebody as'll know her "No," said Joseph. “He's gi’en me a value, and handle her as her deserves.”' holiday. I tode him as t' warn’t natural Reuben was embarrassed by the gift. to think as a man 'ud want to go to work “To tell the truth, uncle," he said, “I i togs like thesen. The fust day's wear, should take her the more readily if I'd and all !”

coveted her less.” "Well, if you should care to earn a “ Bring her out into the gardin, lad,” shilling

returned his uncle. “Let's hear the Last “I couldn't undertek a grimy job,” said Rose' again.” Joseph, “Not to-day. A message, now.” Reuben followed the old man's lead. His

“A message ? Could you take the message uncle's housekeeper carried chairs to the grass in a wheelbarrow, Joseph ?”

plot, and there the old man and the young “A barrer?” Joseph surveyed his arms one sat down together in the summer air, and and legs, and then took a grip of the laced Reuben, drawing a little pitch-pipe from his waistcoat with both hands.

pocket, sounded its note, adjusted the violin,

and played. Ezra set his elbows upon his shakes the Barley!” and Ezra, with his knees and his chin in his hands, and sat to gaunt hands folded behind him, walked twice listen.

or thrice the length of the grass plot. “Lend her to me, lad,” he said, when his “Theer's no fool like an old fool,” he nephew laid the instrument across his knees. said, when he paused at his nephew's side. “ I don't know, I wonder- Let's see if “ Theer's nothing as is longed for like that there's any of the old skill left.” His face as can niver be got at. Good-day, lad. Tek was grey and his hands shook as he held them her away and niver let anybody maul her i' out. "Theer's almost a fear upon me," he that fashion again, poor thing. I'll rest said as he took the fiddle and tucked it a while. Good-day, Reuben.” beneath his chin. “No, no, I dar' not. I Reuben thus dismissed shook hands and doubt the poor thing 'ud shriek at me." went his way, bearing his uncle's gift with

“ Nonsense, uncle," answered Reuben, with him. His way took him to Fuller's house, a swift and subtle movement of the fingers and, finding Ruth alone there, he displayed of the left hand, such as only a violin-player his treasure, and spent an hour in talk. If could accomplish. “I doubt if there is such he had said then and there what he wanted a thing as forgetting when once you have to say the historic muse must needs have played. Try."

rested with him. But since, in spite of the “No," said the old man, handing back the promptings of his own desire, the favourablefiddle. “I dar' not. I haven't the courage ness of the time, and the delightful confufor it. It's a poor folly, maybe, for a man o' sions of silence which overcame both Ruth my years to talk o' breakin' his heart over a and himself in the course of his visit, he toy like that, and yet, if the tone wasn't to said no more than any enthusiast in music come after all! That'd be a bitter pill, Reuben. might have said to any pretty girl who was No, no. It's a thousand to one the power's disposed to listen to him, the historic muse left me, but theer's just a chance it hasn't. is free to follow Joseph Beaker, with whom I feel it theer.” The gaunt left-hand fingers she has present business. made just such a strenuous swift and subtle In the ordinary course of things Joseph motion, as Reuben's had made a minute would have taken the shortest cut to his earlier. “And yet it mightn't be." Reuben patron's house, but to-day neither the weight reached out the violin towarīs him, but he of the barrow-load, which was considerable, recoiled from it and arose. “No, no. I nor Joseph's objection to labour, which was dar'n't fail,” he said with a grey smile. “I strongly-rooted, could prevent him from dar'n't risk it. Take her away, lad. No, taking the lengthier route, which lay along lend her here. A man as hasn't pluck enow the village main street, and therefore took in his inwards for a thing o' that kind — him where he had most chance of being Lend her here!”

observed. He made but slow progress, being He seized the instrument, tucked it once constantly stopped by his admirers, and more beneath his chin, and with closed eyes making a practice of sitting down outside laid the bow upon the strings. His left any house the doors of which happened to be foot, stretched firmly out in advance of the closed, and there waiting to be observed. right, beat noiselessly upon the turf as if it Despite the lingering character of his jourmarked the movement of a prelude inaudible ney he had already passed the last house but except to him. Then the bow gripped the one-Miss Blythe's cottage and was forestrings, and sounded one soft long-drawn casting in the dim twilight of his mind the melancholy note. A little movement of the impression he would make upon its inmate, brows, a scarcely discernible nod of the head when the little old maid herself went by marked his approval of the tone, and after without a glance. marking anew the cadence of that airy prelude “ Arternoon, mum,” said Joseph, setting he began to play. For a minute or more his down the wheelbarrow, and spitting upon resolve and excitement carried him along his hands to show how little he was conscious but suddenly a note sounded false, and he of the glory of his own appearance. stopped.

“Good afternoon," said the old maid. “Ah-h-h!” he cried, shaking his head as “Ah! Joseph Beaker ?”. To Joseph's great if to banish the sound from his ears, “take disappointment she took no notice of his her, Reuben, take her. Give her a sweet attire, but her eye happening to alight upon note or two to take the taste o' that out of the books she approached and turned one of her mouth. Poor thing! Strike up, lad - them over. Poor Joseph was not accustomed anything. Strike up!”

to read the signs of emotion, or he might have Reuben dashed into “ The Wind that noticed that the hand that turned the leaves (To be Continued.)

trembled curiously. “ What are these?she asked. “Where are you taking them ?”

“These be Mr. Ezra Gold's music books," he answered. “He's gi'en 'em to his nevew, and I'm a-wheelin' of 'em home for him. Look here. See what his lordship's gi'en to me."

But Miss Blythe was busily taking book after book, and was turning over the leaves as if she sought for something. Her hands were trembling more and more, and even Joseph thought it odd that so precise and neat a personage should have let her parasol tumble and lie unregarded in the dust.

“Wheel them to my house, Joseph Beaker,” she said at last with a covert eagerness. “I want to look at them. I should like to look at them.”

"My orders was to wheel 'em straight home," returned Joseph. “I worn't told to let nobody handle 'em, but it stands to rayson as they hadn't ought to be handled.”

"Wheel them to my door," said the little old maid, stooping for her fallen sunshade. "I will give you sixpence."

“That's another matter,” said Joseph sagely. “If a lady wants to look at 'em theer can't be nothin' again that, I should think.”

The barrow was wheeled to Miss Blythe's door, and Miss Blythe in the open air, with out waiting to remove bonnet, gloves, or mantle, began to turn over the leaves of the books, taking one systematically after the other, and racing through them as if her life

depended on the task. Rapidly as she went to work at this singular task it occupied an hour, and when it was all over the prim starched old lady actually sat down upon her own doorstep with lax hands, and crushed her best new bonnet against the doorpost in a very abandonment of lassitude and fatigue.

“Done?” said Joseph, who had been sitting on the handle of the wheelbarrow, occasionally nodding and dozing in the pleasant sunlight. Miss Blythe arose languidly and gave him the promised sixpence. “You'm a wonner to read, you be, mum,” he said, as he pocketed the coin. “I niver seed none on 'em goo at sich a pace as that. Sometimes my lord'll look at one side of a noospaper for a hour together. I've sin him do it.”

Receiving no reply he spat upon his hands again, and started on the final course of his journey. Rachel closed the gate behind him, and walked automatically into her own sitting-room.

“There is no fool like an old fool," she said mournfully. Then with sudden fire—“I have known the man to be a villain these sixand-twenty years. Why should I doubt it now?

And then, her starched dignity and her anger alike deserting her, she fell into a chair and cried, so long and so heartily, that at last, worn out with her grief, she fell asleep.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

THE House of

Lords differs from the House of Commons in many respects beyond that of the hereditary principle. The two

chambers are THE BLACK ROD.

in their phyFrom a Drawing by HARRY FURNISS. sical aspects

wholly dissimilar. In the House of Commons no effort has been made to achieve grandeur or even dignity of appearance. It is literally a work shop, and is rigorously plain and businesslike in all its arrangements. I have heard from many people who visit the House of Commons for the first time an expression of surprise at the smallness of the chamber. The assembly fills so large a place in the mind of the world that, unconsciously, strangers imagine a magnificent hall of broad and lofty proportions. The House of Lords will more nearly gratify expectation of this character. It is a handsome, roomy chamber, dowered with the soft rich light that strays through stained

glass windows. In the Commons every inch of space on the floor of the House is impressed into the service of members. Under the gallery by the door there is a row of benches which will accommodate a score or so of strangers. Otherwise no stranger may appear on the floor of the House whilst it is in session. In the Lords, at either end, there are comparatively roomy spaces for strangers. Ladies are admitted to little pens near the bar, and members of the Commons are at liberty to enter at will and take up standing room in this part of the House.

At the other end, where the throne stands, there is space reserved for Privy Councillors and the eldest sons of peers. Mr. Gladstone, on the rare occasions of his visits to the House of Lords, does not stand within the rails, his favourite position being at the corner of the bench where the bishops sit. It was here, leaning upon the edge of the bench, he heard Lord Salisbury's speech whichi settled the fate of the Franchise Bill in the autumn session of 1884. On great occasions Sir William Harcourt, Sir Michael Beach, Sir Richard Cross, and other Privy Councillors congregate behind the rail which guards the throne. I never saw Mr. Chamberlain availing himself of the privilege of listening

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