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II.—The Married Sister
Is it my sister then, Brigid Macllray ?
An' she that was the beauty, an’ never married yet!
Ah, no use o' talkin'! Sure a woman's born to wed,
Brigid, poor Brigid will never have a child,
She to have no man at all-Musha, look at Tim.
What was I sayin' then ? Brigid lives her lone,
HE artistic value of backgrounds through an open window, we are always
is strikingly shown in Mr. Black looking out on the wild, romantic Valley
more's one successful novel, of the Doones that it lives in memory and “Lorna Doone." There are other stories recalls us to many a quiet re-reading. To of his which are not without charming a Devonshire man, as Blackmore reports qualities, but on this romance alone has with evident satisfaction, “ Lorna Doone" he put the stamp of beauty and individ- is “as good as clotted cream,” that deliuality. “Lorna Doone " cannot be re- cious product of the dairies of Devon. It garded as a great story; it is, rather, a is redolent of Devon and Somerset, two lovable story-one of those pieces of art counties which in variety and richness of which live by reason of their close touch scenery must be ranked among the first upon the most intimate and tender of in England. John Ridd belonged to both human relations; a story which, upon counties, and both have given the story analysis, reveals serious faults of construc- the charm of landscapes of noble breadth tion and defects of style, but which no- and ripest beauty. body is willing to analyze. It is too long; There is no better approach to the it drags in places; the manner, under the Valley of the Doones than a drive across guise of great simplicity, is sometimes country from Bideford. At nightfali, in artificial; and yet it captivates, and its that quaint old town, one may look across charm is likely to abide.
the Torridge and see the lights shining That charm resides in two elements— from the low windows of “The Ship its idyllic love story, and its impressive Tavern,” where Salvation Yeo and his felbackground. If the drama of John Ridd lows once talked far into the night of the and Lorna Doone had been played on a perils of the Spanish Main. One may, commonplace stage, it could hardly have if he chooses, sit in the room in which appealed with such beguiling force to the much of the work of preparation for the imagination; it is because through it, as writing of “Westward Ho” was done.
On a soft summer morning, the low sky Exmoor, with its broad expanse of gently veiled with a pale mist, no road could be sloping moor, brown or green, with more beguiling than that which takes one touches of purple bell-heather. The noble from the old seaport, where famous sail- coast lies but a mile or two beyond; ors were bred in the sixteenth centuryand there again the landscape changes, into the heart of the lovely Devonshire and the cliffs of Devon stand in the sea, landscape, with its bold lines of hills, its rocky and castellated or green to the very rich verdure, its fields ripe with the deep- edges where the tides rise and fall. rooted loveliness of ancient fertility, its It is a noble approach which one makes hedges so high that one is often shut in who goes to the Valley of the Doones between impenetrable walls of hawthorn from Lynton; at once wild, solitary, and and privet.
beautiful with the loveliness of color, of For hours through this quiet world of moving streams, and of bold hillsides. old-time beauty one drives in absolute There are passes between the hills so solitude ;, not even a
deep and densely cart comes down the
overhung with trees long hills or around
that it is easy to the winding curves
imagine the sudden of the road. Later,
descent of the robber as one nears Lynton,
band from the hills, coaches will thun
the brief struggle, der past; but across
and the swift success country this western
of the adventure. corner of England is
Below the road runs as quiet as it was in
the stream which is the days before tele
fed by the two brooks phones vexed the ear
which flow together with the noise of
at Watersmeet. The distant cities. In
meeting of these some corner of a field
mountain brooks is a or some bend in the
place of rare beauty, road, under immemo
where Bryant would rial oaks or beeches,
have found the there is fitting time
charm of solitude for luncheon and a
which laid its spell quiet nooning for the
upon him in Flora's horses. If there hap
the pens to be a long
Berkshires, with an hill ahead, one walks
added wildness of on in advance, stop
hill and an added ping now and again to enter some newly loveliness of ancient water flowing through harvested field and catch another glimpse moss-grown beds. There is a choice of of the fertile landscape where long service roads, and the well-informed go in by one of human needs has bred a deep sense of route and return by another. The road fellowship between man and meadow. through the valley of the Brendon runs In one of these little incursions one may through the quaint hamlet which bears the meet a typical English farmer, taking time name of the stream ; the little villages are for a turn with his pipe and predisposed much alike: a church, a parsonage, a few to friendly talk, with a vein of character- laborers' houses, a small inn, and someistic criticism of the Government, the times a picturesque house of size, solidity, state of agriculture, and the English sys- and an air of assured position. tem in general; for farmers are much The little hamlet of Oare is one of the the same the world over, and are rarely focal points in the story, and there still without good-humored grievances against stands the old church in which Lorna existing conditions.
and John were married, where the true At the end of the afternoon the land- hearted girl fell into the arms of the faithscape changes, and one comes out upon ful lover, and from which John rushed in