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"Lettice, come in directly, child; it's time for you to be abed."


The little girl rose slowly, though obediently-bed has a gruesome sound on a May evening, flowers blooming, birds singing, cows lowing - it seems a terrible hardship to be shut up with eyes closed to all this beauty, while the sleep, which makes it endurable if not pleasant, is not counted in a child's imagination.

As she reluctantly walked towards the house with her finger in her eye, a tall boy, about fifteen, with a merry look on his rosy brown face, came up behind her.

"Why, Lettice, what's the matter now, little one?" And he took her up in his arms as he spoke.

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Oh, uncle Edward," said she, flinging her arms round his neck in an ecstasy of hope, "mayn't I stay up for your supper; please mayn't I? It isn't seven o'clock yet. Oh, please," and she hugged him tightly.

"We'll see about it, little 'un; don't ye put yourself in such a way," answered he, carrying her straight into the sort of houseplace, half kitchen, half sitting-room, shut off from the entrance by a curious sort of black oak screen.

A grave, sad-looking man was standing by the latticed window at the further end, but he did not seem to see them come in. He was the true son of his mother- - the same high forehead and deep-set eyes-but there had been a cross in the blood: the stern mouth and chin had not descended to him; there was a great deal of tenderness about the lines in his face, and what might be contemplation, or the indecision produced, as sometimes happens, by the fear of giving pain.

"Mayn't Lettice stay up for supper tonight, Amyas?" said the boy, going up to his brother with the child still in his arms.

Amyas seemed to bring his thoughts up out of some far-off deep well, and even then required to have the question repeated before he took it in.

"She's much better abed," observed her grandmother, in a short tone.

"Nay, let the child stay with us this once, mother," replied Amyas, gently.

Mrs. Wynyate did not answer, and began in silence to make preparations for the meal.

"I should like some bread-and-milk tonight, mother," said the boy. And, without any observation or assistance from her, he went from the dairy to the pantry and back again to the kitchen fire, Lettice, in the full glory of "sitting up," following him like a little dog, carrying the plate, tak

ing back the jug, and watching the boiling of the saucepan.

Two other brothers, strong sturdy fellows, strolled in. "Les quatre fils d'Aymon” were very unlike. These two seemed hardly above the level of labourers, and the few words which they uttered about their work, the way in which they cut their great slices of bread-and-cheese and cold fat bacon, and drank their deep draughts of thin cider, were of the same character while Amyas had had a good deal of schooling as the eldest of the family, and so had Edward as the youngest.

"Could ye give me a dish o' tea, mother?" said Amyas, looking round rather drearily at the comfortless meal as he sat down to the long deal table.


Tea's six shillings a pound," said Mrs. Wynyate, with a sort of short sigh, as she filled the teapot.

He drank his tea eagerly, but touched nothing else. It was a serious meal - it could hardly be otherwise with that stern woman seated at one end of the table, and that silent sad man at the other. But Lettice, sitting upon Edward's knee, was like the bit of sunshine in the avenue: she fed him with the bread-and-milk, and a low ripple of laughter went on between them at the landing of each "fish" out of the pool of milk into his mouth.

Mrs. Wynyate looked on with increasing disfavour.


Sit up to the table, Ned, and don't crumb about," said she at last.

"They're not making a mess," said her uncle Amyas, gently, looking at her with the ghost of a smile. "Lettie's a tidy little lass,— neat, like her grandmother."

It was the second time that evening that he had interfered in her behalf, and she laid her soft little cheek against his arm as she sat next him in a passion of gratitude.

But execution came after the reprievethe supper things were soon carried away and the child led off in earnest. She escaped from her stern grandmother's hands, however, once again and ran back.

"Good-night, uncle Amyas," said she, climbing up on his knee and putting her arms tenderly round his neck.

He kissed her very fondly, and set her silently down, and then justice had its course.

"Good-night, uncle Job, good-night, uncle John, good-night, Ted," she cried, as she was led off.

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and poultry; they were up with the sun, and thought no shame to go to bed with it. Edward had some boyish operation on a forked sort of root, which he was shaping with a knife, which took him a little longer, but even he soon disappeared, and Amyas and his mother were left alone.

"And he threatened they'd foreclose the mortgage?" said he, with a sort of dreary sigh. Did he say how much time they'd allow to pay ?"

Mrs. Wynyate was refooting a stocking by the miserable light of a "tallow dip." "He said the interest hadn't been paid regular this dozen years; hardly ever in full, nor by yer father nor by you, and that yer couldn't expect any one to be kep' out of his money like that."

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He said why didn't ye cut the trees? they was spiling one another and the land too, they were so thick."

"I meant to have done it this spring, but I couldn't find a good sale. We must cut 'em, but I hate touching the old timber," said Amyas, with a sort of groan. "I'll see and mark 'em now, however: but it's too late to fell the oak this spring," he added, with a kind of relief. And after sitting in silence for some time, he, too, rose and went off to bed in the dark. Mrs. Wynyate's glimmering light, however, shone on hour after hour, as she sat and sewed, and mended, and darned, and patched, till far on into the night.



THE Woodhouse was a yeoman's estate. It had been in the family of the Wynyates for many generations, gradually becoming more and more impoverished, mortgaged as it was almost up to the value of the last acre; which is the case, indeed, with most of these properties. In the old days the yeoman class seems to have been prosperous and useful, but, under the present state of things, they cannot apparently keep pace with the farmers of other men's land, who bring in fresh capital and fresh ideas and energy, and are everywhere in England gradually dying out, -a curious contrast, whether for good or evil, to the " amorcellement" going on in France. Although when Mrs. Wynyate married she was supposed to have made rather a grand match, if it had not been for the honour of it, her husband might


as well have been without a foot of land. He was a good-natured, weak, self-indulgent man, nobody's enemy but his own: " virtue was not amiable under his wife's stern aspect, and he took refuge in something a little more jovial at the "Marquis of Grandy" or the "Barley Mow." Disagreeable virtue has a good deal of harm to answer for of this kind in the world. Reckless and wasteful, the little chance there was of setting the property straight vanished under his hands, and one winter's night, after a drunken bout, he did not return. He was not discovered till morning, when he was found in a sort of quagmire; he had ridden round and round a field half through the night, for "there weren't ne'er a gate in it," he said. He never recovered the cold and exposure, rheumatic fever came on, and at not quite fifty he died, leaving his wife and six children, the youngest not six years old, to be provided for out of the land, weighed down as it was with debt. Amyas had lived almost entirely with his mother's brother, an old man with some money and a tanyard at the cathedral town near: a staunch Dissenter, in the days when dissent entailed an amount of petty persecution and annoyance which we have nearly forgotten. It was very real suffering for righteousness' sake, but sometimes, as in Amos King, it induced a certain manner of conscious virtue, of superior sanctity, which was trying to the nerves of the weaker vessels. He had set his heart upon Amyas becoming a "minister:" he was a readin' lad, "a pious youth," and would be a shining light" in the communion. As time went on, however, his nephew's tender heart and rather fastidious taste revolted against certain parts of the creed and discipline; he was sticking at the doctrine of "reprobation," to his uncle's infinite distress, who was indeed as much horrified at the young man's daring to dissent from him, as the stoutest old canon in the close at his own nonconformity, and he complained in much the same sense, if not terms, at the "carnal self-sufficiency," the "wicked wilful blindness" which alone could produce such results. The right of private judgment was by no means an article of the Protestant faith (fifty years ago).


Poor Amyas was in a most painful state of perplexity and distress, when the knot was cut for him, by being suddenly summoned home on his father's death. There was no will or provision for the widow or her younger children, the property all came to him, and he found himself at three-andtwenty the head of the house, with the maintenance of a large family on his hand, and little but debt to support them. He knew

more of theology than of farming, but he did | vegetable creation within the domain of the his best, poor fellow: he never married, for Wynyates. As she sat on the ground next how could a second family be maintained? morning, with her great hunch of bread in He had toiled day and night to keep things one hand, and the tin porringer, which untogether and pay the interest, and now, af- cle Job had filled with new milk as he passed ter nine years, it seemed to him as if he had with his pail into the dairy, the chickens been "pouring water into a basket." flocked round her on the tenderest and most equal terms; the wheeling pigeons swooped within a foot of her head; the calves, the dogs, the horses, all seemed to treat her as a pet thing belonging to themselves. There was nothing about the place which disputed her supremacy but her grandmother and the old peacock, the most tyrannical and shrewish of his race, who led his hens a perfect life of it, and insulted Lettie whenever he met her.

His mother was one of those stern, strongwilled women who go through life constantly worsted. She had never had the smallest influence with her husband or her only daughter, a beautiful self-willed girl, on whom she doated, perhaps the more for their not having a single quality in common. There is a slow power in fools, a strength in the weak, with which it is hopeless to contend. What impression can be made on water, which returns to its level again after the most convincing pressure?

She had finished her breakfast and was now standing, trying to hold out an olivebranch to this, after all, the least formidable of her enemies.

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Piccocks, piccocks, come and eat!" said she when her Uncle Job, on his road once more between the dairy and the cows, came up as the fierce bird made a snatch at her, and drove him away.

"Thee must na' ha' nought to do with that surly beast; do'st thou hearken me, Lettie ?" "I want for to make friends wi' him," said the child, trembling all over.


A year after her father's death, when she was about eighteen, Letitia Wynyate had fallen in love with a man whom she had met at the neighbouring miller's, of whom her mother, with reason, thought very ill. After some furious scenes between the two, Letitia, who had never been crossed by either parent, went off to her friend's house, and was married from thence against her mother's most positive commands. Mrs. Wynyate never forgave it. Letitia made a sort of "offer" at friendship about two "There's some folk, the more you calls years after, but her mother's resentment was 'um the more they won't come," said Job, too deep: they once met, but it was coldly sententiously; "and now ye go to Dannel, and stifily. At the end of five years, how- as is tumbling the butter in the milk-house," ever, peace was made in another way: Le-added he, as he went about his work. titia died, leaving one child, whom she en- The child went on willingly to the dairy. treated her mother to take charge of, "or Dannel was an old blind man who did the the poor thing would have nobody to look churning under Amyas' benevolent rule, after her!" The implied slur on her hus- and was her best playfellow when Edward band mollified Mrs. Wynyate almost as was at school. much as the death itself, while the dreary feeling that she should never see her child again, and the thought of those long years of enforced silence, aged her ten years and more. But it did not soften her towards her granddaughter, she bore her a grudge, as if it had been the child's fault. She was very unlike her mother, and therefore Mrs. Wynyate determined that she reminded her of her father, and she did her duty" to Lettie, which is of all things the most aggravating.

As the only representative of woman, however, in the house (no one could insult Mrs. Wynyate by considering her as belonging to the gentler sex), her four uncles, each in his own way, loved her and spoiled her, as is fit and proper for a little girl. Hers was a solitary little life in one sense; there were no children near to be had, but her playmates included the whole animal and

He was standing in deep thought with the handle in his hand.


"Well, 'tis queer," said the old man, how the butter won't come nohow some days! I b'lieve 'tis bewitched. Lettie, you get me two twigs of the rowan bush: we'll make a cross and stop that, anyways."

"How is it the witches does it?" inquired the child when she had brought the desired charm.


'Well, I can't say. My old woman she had a sovereign cuddled away in a drawer, and it's gone and no one's been nigh the house; .but she did see a hare a runnin' off that evenin', close to the skillen, and p'r'aps that were she- - the witches turn themselves into hares, they do, by-times, like Mall Do,* yer know, and my missis she flung a pobble-stone at her, and p'r'aps that's the rea

*This remarkable zoological fact is chronicled on

Mall Do's tombstone at Beaulieu.

son I'm so bad. I hets and burns and smerts all night, and my head he noises so that I be quite froghtened."

"Praps you've a got the ague faver," said Mrs. Wynyate, looking in from the top of the stone steps to see how the butter was getting on.

"No, I've got no faver," answered the old man doggedly. "I've got that as won't let it be faver," he whispered to Lettie as her grandmother retired.

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What is it, Dannel?" replied the child, in a low voice.

"Nay, thou beesn't old enow to understand," said the old man, importantly. "I got he from the wise woman." He had miscalculated Mrs. Wynyate's distance, however; she had only retired as far as the passage closet.

"Show it me, Dannel," said she imperiously, from her vantage ground.

"It ayn't lucky for to look at he," replied the old man peevishly; but she insisted, and at last, with a deep sigh, he pulled out a dirty little bag which she cruelly ripped open; it contained the charm on a bit of parchment.

"When Jesus Christ went to be crucifie
He said I have both ague and faver,
If ye shall kip my commandments
Yer neiver shall have nayther'

ran the rude rhyme.



"That'll do ye no good," said Mrs. Wynyate, dictatorially; she had no faith in any nostrums but her own. "I'll giv ye some boiled snails or some Good Friday bread." Madam allays has her own way, she's so stomachy and high-minded," he said sadly to the child, who was doing her best to sew up the amulet again for him as before. It'll have spoiled the vertue on it; but I sha'n't take the snails. She rubs me the wrong way o' the stuff like a cat, and it sets a body's back up, it do."

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not the grand pink and white lady in gorgeous clothing and a string to open and shut its eyes, but the battered, wretched thing without arms or legs, who is pressed passionately to its tender mother's breast, and only taken away at bed-time with tears. It seems to be the same with all uncultivated minds. "The wonder-working images are not the chef-d'œuvres of Raphael, but the blackened pictures, the formless stones," says a great man. Diana of Ephesus, the image fallen from heaven," was probably nothing but a lump of ironstone. Therefore when Ned wrapped the root in a red pocket-handkerchief of his own, and tied it with a string round what was by courtesy called its waist, Lettie, in a rapture of delight, took it at once to her heart, and it became to her a baby," and the most valuable confidant of all her griefs and joys. Most things were wrong in Mrs. Wynyate's code. She was a very conscientious woman, but her creed and her disposition reacted on each other; her sorrows and her methodism combined to throw a dark veil over the world, in which all amusements were tabooed, and even "of laughter she said in her heart, it is mad." Lettie was too young to understand all this, but a sort of instinct made her keep her precious baby out of her grandmother's sight, and it was some time before the criminal was discovered. last, however, one day off her guard, she came into the kitchen hugging and nursing her prize and singing lovingly to it.


"What's that horrid bundle ?" said her grandmother, angrily. "I don't choose to have dolls in the house, don't you know that, Lettice? I shall burn the nasty thing." And she turned towards the fire, only stopping to save the handkerchief, and delayed by untying the curious knots in which it was tied before she carried out the sacrifice.

It is strange how entirely grown people forget the intense misery which children are capable of enduring; because of its short duration, that something else soon takes its place, men, and women too, laugh and talk of childish sorrows as "being nothing." They are as real as they are poignant, and a great deal more absolute than the pain which their elders endure: a child's horizon is so limited that it sees no issue to its woes, no hope, no remedy, no future its sorrow as its joy absorbs its whole little being. When Lettie saw her beloved" baby" about to be cast into the flames, her horror was as great as that of the mother depicted in the " Judgment of Solomon," which hung upon the wall in

very gorgeous pink and yellow colouring. | sure she was quite safe," she repeated, She stood in a sort of tearless agony with with a little nervous trembling all over her. her hands clasped. "This'll never do," muttered Amyas to himself; "she'll be down in a nervous fever next. Do you trust me, Lettie?" he said, turning her little face towards him in the moonlight.

"Nay, mother," said Ted, with a smile, taking hold of her arm, "what harm can it do? Let the little mayd have her dollie!" "I tell ye, I won't have her spoilt i' that fashion; it's dress and fine clothes and all them things that ruins the girls," said Mrs. Wynyate, vehemently, which was not quite in point, considering the attire and appearance of the monster.


Mightn't she be buried?" said Lettice, in a low voice, as she watched the fate of her child trembling in the balance; "not burned; it wouldn't hurt her so much!" At that moment Amyas came in at the kitchen door. 66 Why, what's the matter? said he, struck by the exceedingly tragic appearance of the company.

"Mother wants to burn Lettie's dollie as I made for her. What hurt can it do for her to have one?" said Edward sulkily, while Lettie ran up and embraced her uncle's leg, as a deliverer of virtue in dis

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Lettie held out her arms for her rescued infant on this Solomon decision, and silently embraced her uncle and the hideous image with an equal passion of affection.

Mrs. Wynyate turned away without a word; her son had his own way by might of extreme gentleness and tenderness, and she rarely resisted his quiet fists.

That night, after every one was in bed but himself, Amyas came in from looking after a sick horse; it was very late, and the moonlight streamed into the house through the two great unshuttered mullioned windows, and threw broad paths of light across the pavement.

As he closed the door behind him he saw the child in her little white night-dress, her small bare feet gleaming on the stones, passing like a spirit noiselessly across the hall.


Lettie," said he, lifting her up and taking her cold hands in his, "what are you doing, my little 'un, running about at this time o' night?"

"I was looking to see whether Mary was safe," she said, shyly.

“Who's Mary ?'” answered her uncle. "Dollie, I mean," she said, with a blush. A child is very reticent in general about what she most cares for. "I put her in a box in the parlour, and I wanted to be

The child's expression was the very ideal of faith.


Then look, dear; I promise you that no harm shall happen to Mary: and now, little mayds make themselves ill if they run about o' this fashion in the night, and Lettie must promise when she goes to bed to lie still and sleep."

"I promise," said Lettie, religiously. He carried her upstairs and put the little cold atom into his mother's bed.

"What's the matter?" said Mrs. Wynyate, rather crossly as she awoke, but Amyas was gone, only saying," I'll tell ye to-morrow; don't talk to her to-night, mother," as he left the room.

He never discussed, and the next morning all the explanation which she received



We won't say any more about the child's pastime; just leave it, mother; I've promised that it shall take no hurt."

Amyas was a curious compound of strength and weakness. "You're so inconsistent," his mother often complained, which is pleasanter than saying we don't understand a character.

In Amyas the powers of reflection overbalanced the powers of action. He saw so many sides to a question that it often made him seem irresolute, or he suffered so much from seeing pain inflicted by some act of his own (far more, indeed, than the patient,) that he undid decisions which it had cost him much pain to arrive at. Somehow, in business matters, "il n'avait pas la main heureuse:" if he bought a cow she turned out a bad milker, his sheep had the foot-rot, his horses came to more grief than other men's-the "luck" always seemed against him, the tide turned while he was considering how to use it. His perceptions were very keen for all that concerned his affections: it did not answer to say or do anything before him under the idea that so apparently absent a man would not notice it; he saw and heard, by fits and starts, it is true, but sometimes very inconveniently having never, however, seen his estate in any other condition, going nowhere so as to compare it with others; and without a sixpence to spend upon it, the luxuriant fences and the weedy fields, the tumbling barns and the unmended roads went on unchanged from year to

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