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II The Married Sister

BRIGID is a caution, sure. What's that ye say?
Is it my sister then, Brigid Macllray?
Caution or no caution, listen what I'm tellin' ye—
Childcr, hould yer noise there, faix! there's no quellin' ye
Och well, I've said it now this many a long day,
Tis the quare pity o' Brigid Macllray.

An' she that was the beauty, an' never married yet 1

An' fifty years gone over her, but do ye think she'll fret?

Sorra one o' Brigid then, that's not the sort of her,

Ne'er a hait would she care though not a man had thought of her;

Heaps o' men she might 'a' had—Here, get out o' that,

Miek ye rogue.' desthroyin' o' the poor ouId cat!

Ah, no use o' talkin'l Sure a woman's born to wed,

An' not go wastin' all her life by waitin' till she's dead.

Haven't we the men to mind, that couldn't for the lives o' them

Keep their right end uppermost, only for the wives o'them? —

Stick to yer pipe, Tim, an' give me no talk no7c>.'

There's the door forenenst ye, man: out ye can walk noiv.

Brigid, poor Brigid will never have a child,

An' she you'd think a mother born, so gentle an' so mild—

Danny, is it put/in' little Biddy's eyes out ye're after,

Swishin' wid yer rod there, an' splittin' wid yer laughter I

Come along, the whole o' yez, in out o' the wet,

Or may I never but ye'II soon see what ye'II get.'

She to have no man at all—Afusha, look at Tim.'

Off an' up the road he is, an' wet enough to sivim.

An' his tea sittin' waitin' on him, there he'll sthreel about noiv

Amn't I the heart-scalded woman out an' out now!

Here I've lived an' wrought for him all the ways I can,

But the goodness grant me patience, for I 'd need it wid that man!

What was I sayin' then? Brigid lives her lone,

Ne'er a one about the house, quiet as a stone—

Lave a-go the pig's tail, boys, an' qiut the squealtn' noiv:

Mind! I've got a sally switch that only wants the pectin' noiv

Ah, just to think of her, 'deed an' well-a-day 1

'Tis the quyare pity o' Brigid Macllray.

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THE artistic value of backgrounds is strikingly shown in Mr. Blackmore's one successful novel, "Lorna Doone." There are other stories of his which are not without charming qualities, but on this romance alone has he put the stamp of beauty and individuality. "Lorna Doone" cannot be regarded as a great story; it is, rather, a lovable story—one of those pieces of art which live by reason of their close touch upon the most intimate and tender of human relations; a story which, upon analysis, reveals serious faults of construction and defects of style, but which nobody is willing to analyze. It is too long; it drags in places; the manner, under the guise of great simplicity, is sometimes artificial; and yet it captivates, and its charm is likely to abide.

That charm resides in two elements— its idyllic love story, and its impressive background. If the drama of John Ridd and Lorna Doone had been played on a commonplace stage, it could hardly have appealed with such beguiling force to the imagination; it is because through it, as

through an open window, we are always looking out on the wild, romantic Valley of the Doones that it lives in memory and recalls us to many a quiet re-reading. To a Devonshire man, as Blackmore reports with evident satisfaction, " Lorna Doone" is " as good as clotted cream," that delicious product of the dairies of Devon. It is redolent of Devon and Somerset, two counties which in variety and richness of scenery must be ranked among the first in England. John Ridd belonged to both counties, and both have given the story the charm of landscapes of noble breadth and ripest beauty.

There is no better approach to the Valley of the Doones than a drive across country from Bideford. At nightfall, in that quaint old town, one may look across the Torridge and see the lights shining from the low windows of "The Ship Tavern," where Salvation Yeo and his fellows once talked far into the night of the perils of the Spanish Main. One may. if he chooses, sit in the room in which much of the work of preparation for the writing of "Westward Ho" was done.

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On a soft summer morning, the low sky veiled with a pale mist, no road could be more beguiling than that which takes one from the old seaport, where famous sailors were bred in the sixteenth century, into the heart of the lovely Devonshire landscape, with its bold lines of hills, its rich verdure, its fields ripe with the deeprooted loveliness of ancient fertility, its hedges so high that one is often shut in between impenetrable walls of hawthorn and privet.

For hours through this quiet world of old-time beauty one drives in absolute solitude ;. not even a cart comes down the long hills or around the winding curves of the road. Later, asonenears Lynton, coaches will thunder past; but across country this western corner of England is as quiet as it was in the days before telephones vexed the ear with the noise of distant cities. In some cornerof a field or some bend in the road,under immemorial oaks or beeches, there is fitting time for luncheon and a quiet nooning for the horses. If there happens to be a long hill ahead, one walks on in advance, stopping now and again to enter some newly harvested field and catch another glimpse of the fertile landscape where long service of human needs has bred a deep sense of fellowship between man and meadow. In one of these little incursions one may meet a typical English farmer, taking time for a turn with his pipe and predisposed to friendly talk, with a vein of characteristic criticism of the Government, the state of agriculture, and the English system in general; for farmers are much the same the world over, and are rarely without good-humored grievances against existing conditions.

At the end of the afternoon the landscape changes, and one comes out upon

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OARE CHURCH

Exmoor, with its broad expanse of gently sloping moor, brown or green, with touches of purple bell-heather. The noble coast lies but a mile or two beyond; and there again the landscape changes, and the cliffs of Devon stand in the sea, rocky and castellated or green to the very edges where the tides rise and fall.

It is a noble approach which one makes who goes to the Valley of the Doones from Lynton; at once wild, solitary, and beautiful with the loveliness of color, of moving streams, and of bold hillsides. There are passes between the hills so deep and densely overhung with trees that it is easy to imagine the sudden descent of the robber band from the hills, the brief struggle, and the swift success of the adventure. Below the road runs the stream which is fed by the two brooks which flow together at Watersmeet. The meeting of these mountain brooks is a place of rare beauty, where Bryant would have found the charm of solitude which laid its spell upon him in Flora's Glen among the Berkshires, with an added wildness of hill and an added loveliness of ancient water flowing through moss-grown beds. There is a choice of roads, and the well-informed go in by one route and return by another. The road through the valley of the Brendon runs through the quaint hamlet which bears the name of the stream; the little villages are much alike: a church, a parsonage, a few laborers' houses, a small inn, and sometimes a picturesque house of size, solidity, and an air of assured position.

The little hamlet of Oare is one of the focal points in the story, and there still stands the old church in which Lorna and John were married, where the truehearted girl fell into the arms of the faithful lover, and from which John rushed in

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