Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

Default

This article displays in one automatically-generated column. View the full page to see article in its original form.

The Storyteller

THE TWO LANDLORDS. A PICTURE OF COUNTRY LIFE TWENTY YEARS AGO. CHAPTER in, Mr Lambert, as a scientific farmer, middle-aged without a family, had accepted the offer of a pupil at a hundred guineas a year, a youth of 18 fresh from the agricultural college at Cirencester ; and about the time of saving the first barley crop under the new rigime, the youth and his father made their appearance at Weston, having strolled over from the station at the market town, four miles distant. The farm bouse of Weston was an old manor bouse in the suburbs of the village. The stout gentleman with his hat off and a handkerchief with four knotted corners on his head, is Mr Cooper; the youth walking by his side is his son Horace. Mr Cooper, born at Weston half a century before, hrd been cast upon the world at an early age. Owing to the circumstances of the old regime and to other causes, Horace had never before seen Weston. <c So this is Weston,” he said ; fine oldfashioned house. I shall like it the better as your birthplace. Won’t you put your hat on ?”

Mr Cooper did so, leaving the knots of the handkerchief sticking out below. He was wrapt in thought. “Yes, my boy, my birthplace; and the shrine of my early affections, Horace.” With hand on heart, and handkerchief on head, and eyes fixed on the manor house, Mr Cooper marched past the nouse where he was born, and entered a meadow beyond. ‘Tis undoubtedly a hard fate that the shrine of one’s affections should pass into other hands; at least so Mr Cooper thought, in his present romantic mood. “ Weston at one time seemed mine as sure as fate,” said Mr Cooper. “My fathers had farmed it for a hundred years,” The companions had paused upon a bridge crossing the trout stream. “ Whaia pity it was not their property,” said Horace.

“ Great pity,” replied Mr Cooper. “ How well I remember those gabled roofs and grey walls, and that ivied porch with the great sheltering elms, I used to cross this bridge twice a year in a very doleful state, taking the short cut to catch the coach for school ; and in my mind’s eye I still sc my mother craning over the laurel fence the-e before the door, to catch a last glimpse of her beloved and departing son. This stream was the Rubicon of those black Mondays ; beyond it lay school and drudgery, behind it lay Weston and the waving pocket handkerchiefs. My mother and sisters, and any accidental aunt who might be staying in the house at the time, used all to stand on tiptoe waving their pocket handkerchiefs, and shedding tears behind the laurels; and your father, Horaces used to wave his schoolboy cap, with his heart in his mouth, as he crossed this { bridge of sighs,’ ” Here Mr Cooper took off his hat and waved it, the four corners of his large silk handkerchief fluttering in the wind. a ‘Tis another proof of the immorality of the land laws,” said Mr Cooper, “ that land tiius endeared to a man’s heart should ever be alienated. By law divine, my boy, Weston should be ours. If you can find an opportunity of getting hold of the property, while you are here, without asking me to pay for it, be sure you embrace It.”

An oaken table centuries old ran down one side of Mr Lambert’s kitchen, a remnant of the old regime, and of older times still, and a wide open chimney with a bacon loft above, and seats in the corners, yawned on one side of that old-fashioned kitchen. In former days half a dozen farm servants had dined daily at the oaken table with the farmer’s family. That custom had departed, but Mr Lambert was still endeavoring to approach his laborers and win their sympathy by other means. At the table is seated a dozen men and boys with slates and books. This capacious kitchen was at present a sort of literary institute, where younir men (and even grey-beards, if they liked) might take up afresh the threads of learninr which some of them had dropped very prematurely at school. The visitors entered —Horace and his father. “ The old kitchen is not so much changed as I expected,” said Mr Cooper. “I should have known some, of you, ray friends, from your likeness to your fathers” —he turned to the table as he said this—“but I am glad to see, from your present occupation, that you will enjoy a better chance in life than they did.”

Another day’s work is over in the fields, and the laborers of Compton are strolling homewards ; : the pheasants are crowing in the woods, and the vernal choir of birds, strengthened .by the arrival of their prima donna by the dozen from beyond the. Channel, are singing in every hedge and copse. ' It is glorious spring! The advent

of the new era has become visible; the affairs of Compton are at the flood. Quoth William Hoots to his two companions, walking homewards. " The long-tails seems merry a-hopping np to roost; and well they may what’s left of 'm, for their enemies has become their friends.”

“ I don't believe there’s a man in Compton as would wire or trap nothing, if you’d paid him never so well,” said William’s next neighbor ; “you and I have followed that trade, Bill, brisk as anybody.” “ Ah, and should again sooner than starve ; but howsomdever, there’s no call to expect the old squire agin, and as to the new 'mi, I hope he’ll get a good crop o’ longtails, and hares too, and kill ’em down early afore they gets out in the fields and does harm.”

“ Shall ye manage to buy a cow one o’ these days ?” said William’s neighbor, “In course I shall,” replied William. “ Leastways, we shall manage it between us. My boy' is savin’ up fast as he can, and we means to club together, aud master says he’ll put L 5 to it if required, provided we affirms a cow club and insures the cow. Mr Lambert be something like a master he be.”

“ I’d sooner work for him for nothing, than I’d work for a tread-me-down master for a pound a week,” said William’s neighbor.

“ I say Bill, I’ve actually got a sovereign along with the shop goods in this here blessed basket.”

“ Seed ye take it, my lad. This dishclout business, or whatever ye calls it—money back, I mean, at the end of six months for them that pays ready money, is a first-rate plan.” “ Jest as good,” said William’s neighbor, “ as having a pig put into your stye for nothing. So you’ll conquer your cow soon, shall you, Bill? I wish I could corner a cow, but I can’t. My missus ain’t adapted for the business.”

Horace’s share in the progress of Compton proved to be considerable. He was a youth of very active habit. He began his day at six, and a busy day it was; but the longest labors never tired him, and frequently in the vinter, when youths of less energy would have deemed the day s work sufficient, he would drudge into the county town, 4 miles off, through fields and lanes, through rough weather sometimes, and often in outer darkness, for the sake of an evening lecture at the literary institution, or an hour’s French or music with his masters. On these occasions he found his bed at midnight, and at 6 A. m. helped the Shorthorns to their food with Baldwin. To this sterling character Herace became exceedingly attached, and, if his youthful failings must be confessed, he became even more attached to Dorcas, Baldwin’s pretty and very praiseworthy daughter. All’s well that ends well, still an escapade of this kind is not a thing to be concealed in a picture of village life, but rather to be portrayed on principle as a picture of manners not necessarily twenty years ago, and in some sense as a warning. In the story of Silas Marner, God fey Cass, the squire’s son, marries a village girl with unhappy consequences, such as usually follow an ill-assorted match, and such as Horace Cooper happily escaped. Dorcas Baldwin was as graceful a maiden as ever laid the cloth for dinner—a duty she was deftly performing one day when Horace, who had been watching her, as she very well knew, advanced from the bay window, where he.had been half-concealed by a stand of 'ferns,' and offered Dorcas a rose. The language of flowers is nearly dead, but even in this prosaic age cultured people sometimes avail themselves of the rose to aid them in the delicate diplomacy of expressing love. Prince Albert, the graceful introducer into England of the Christmas tree, offered the Queen arose to convey what he hardly dared express. In the last sentence of Lothair a rose is made once more the pledge of love. Horace, having a rose in his button-hole, offered it to Dorcas, who instantly turned her back upon him and sped out of the room. Instinct, according ta Falstaff, is a great matter. It taught him discretion at the battle of Shrewsbury; and it induced in Dorcas instant flight.

Happily for the Compton people the seeds of emulation were scattered thick among them. Horace was continually stirring the cauldron in this respect. He took his turn in the great kitchen at Weston as a teacher of book learning, and he imparted lessons quite as useful when he stirred up the fanners, great and small, on the subject of stock management-—his special forte. He was the whetstone of the parish, the sharpener of wits. Mrs fhornback, herself, listened to him on dairy topics ; : there; was no second-rate butter made in Compton, the presence of the whetstone preventing it; and even young Thofnback, and the other small farmers, learned the art of feeding beef at . 20 months, and. piled up little fortunes by the practice of high farming skilfully conducted. Baldwin, the bailiff, and the father of Dorcas, lived at an offhand farm, in a house.

with cultivated fields behind on the higher ground, and the meadows and village below. The trout stream ran purling near ; and on the shelving slopes of the little valley there were steep pastures, an apple orchard, a sheltering copse, and some noble beech trees—which were retained on that conspicuous site for the ornament they offered. To this pleasant trysting place the village gathered on Sundays, and here most of the love matches of the rustics were arranged. It was June, and the sweetest hour of a Mid-summer day, when, towards dusk, the birds were still sinking; sheep were nibbling around the beeches, and rinsrdoves were cooing among their branches. Dorcas had been at her mother’s, and had found a companion for the short walk home. Horace had not sought the position, but there he was at her side. That young fellow was possessed by ambition of the better kind beyond his opportunities of culture. He desired with all his soul to follow noble men, hut felt the difficulty of obtaining models in the district where he lived. Plutarch’s great men, with whom he oft consorted, were not like living models. Lately he had read Jane Eyre and become familiar with the interesting Rochester. Byron, too, had suffused his mind with sweet, moody, and luxurious melody. He had lived in the romantic society of Lara, the Corsair, and Gulnare, and with too attractive ' c beauty of the Cyclades,” He often read beneath the beech trees, and seeing Dorcas passing he waved her a greeting and came to her side. At the attempted presentation of the rose, as we have seen Dorcas had bolted, and Horace had offered no more roses ; but he looked at her often and spoke to her frequently. He was a friendly fellow and a favorite with Dorcas, who could look in his face generally without blushing —always when others were present. They strolled home together across the bridge and so up to the ivied porch of Weston. He preferred Dorcas to all the Greek girls hs had read of in Plutarch— Lais, Thais, Helen—all.

Mr Harold Goodhope was extremely fond of angling, fond in fact of any kind of sport, froni the hunting of the fox down to worrying the rat, and more particularly fond of angling in June when the vacation at his military college commenced. The young cadet had arrived at Compton for his usual holiday; and he and Horace, being both active lads, with legs of the same thickness (a Shaksperian reason for friendship between young men), were frequent companions, fishing, or strolling round the copse with their guns, shooting young, half-grown rabbits. They were coming up through the copse between Baldwin’s house and the “ bridge of sighs,” when they met Dorcas, who droopped a little curtsey. “By Jove!” exclaimed the squire’s son, “ did you notice that girl?" and he looked back. “By Jove! she’s looking back,” said the squire’s sou ; and he stopped and uttered some more “By Joves!” still looking back. “ Suppose we give chase,” said the squire’s son.

Horace’s face turned red with a sudden conflagration • that threatened to scorch the down upon his cheek and lip. His friend whistled with a peculiar whistle, and begged his pardon in a tone of voice that set Horace thinking after he got home. Long and deeply he reflected. He remembered the rejection of the rose and the progress of their acquaintance since, ever progressing as it was—whether towards the sad or silly ? Searching for reasons, and hunting up the pros and cons of his conduct and of hers, the sound-hearted, honest youth, asked himself why he had offered Dorcas the rose, why she had refused it, and whether he vyould like to offer one in Mrs Lambert’s presence. We shall not analyse his mental movements ; suffice it to say he, offered Dorcas no more roses, nor sly tributes of any kind. Others did and she accepted them. The word "“others” here means, one person, ■and no more. Her one and all, and all in all, stands at her side at Weston, in a dairy —a cool place for love-making as it is conducted generally in works of fiction; but then our story is not fiction, but a truthful narrative, where every incident is derived from the memory of the narrator, not from his imagination. The swains ot the village are sincere in love ; the maidens lack not sentiment, but they are not sentimental. That “ emptier name” of love, “ the modern fair one’s jest,” is not the love of villages, where Cupid blows the torch of Hymen, and “many waters cannot quench” the flame. He stands beside her in the dairy, with a bucket in his hand. Mrs Lambert is skimming off the cream, Dorcas and her friend both being attendant.

‘‘ls that you, Aa.ron,? ; Mrs Lambert asked that question with a,half-abstracted air, and continued her skimminq. ..There, was no doubt about: the fact. Aaron Motte, lithe and well-knit as : any lad in Compton, or as .the statues of the youthful David,, was.a parson of some presence.

The loose ends of our story must now be gathered together as rapidly as possible. To elaborate would be a work of'three volumes. The story of William Root’s son who married Mrs Frost’s dairymaid, and began life with a cow three years after the succession of the Goodhope dynasty, might be spread over many pages. Other matches of the same prudent kind were arranged. The best young men in Compton showed preference for dairymaids, and the best bred girls, finding a better choice of husbands than of old, looked out for sobriety.

Nunquam non par aims, always ready—at no time not prepared-—should be the motto of the marriageable youth of the rustic class, and the state of preparedness should include skill in domestic economy on the female side, and L3O or L4O saved on the male.

The demand for the cow pastures was active, and the habit of thrift was induced by the success of neighbors,, and by the knowledge of fresh pastures for occupation by those who cared to claim them. Both Aaron Motte and Dorcas saved up for cowkeeping. When the steam cultivator arrived at Weston, Aaron, at nineteen, proved by far the best man for the work of organising in the field. He rode the cultivator and set out the work, undisputed master in the master’s absence, by virtue of superior tact and talent. He became as eminent a stock-feeder as Mr Baldwin himself. At the evening classes at Weston, under the special care of Horace, he had learned to read and write, arts which he had almost forgotten at the time when he and Compton generally were drifting to the bad under the old regime. The father of Aaron Motte, the gardener whom we saw in the Dew Drop iuu, was another of the men who prospered. The two friends, he and the hook-nosed Sam, were observed one day paddling in the trout stream. They were levelling and planting watercresses. Their first crops were carried to the market town for London. Then the railway came, and the station, as Mr Goodhope had predicted ; and in a tew years the watercress beds had extended to 10 acres, planted in shallow ponds, level as a billiard table, and flooded from the trout.stream, and Mr Motte and hook-nosed Sam, who married and remarried his partner’s daughter, became the owners of a capital which gradually swelled to several thousand pounds ; and the smart girl beca ne a jolly, industrious matron, and rode to market in a fourwheeled chaise.

The farming throughout the estate ms quite first-rate, and the farmers prospered by good management, under that branch, of the management which secured good pay to those who earned it. Mr Goodhope and his tenants were before the age, but the time will come when both masters and men will recognise in a mutual and concurrent prosperity, a sounder system than the present ; and when landlords will find in the practice of, what we will call parochial patriotism, the best security for their rents.

This article text was automatically generated and may include errors. View the full page to see article in its original form.
Permanent link to this item
Bibliographic details
Word Count
3,041

The Storyteller Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 105, 27 May 1880, Supplement

  1. New formats

    Papers Past now contains more than just newspapers. Use these links to navigate to other kinds of materials.

  2. Hierarchy

    These links will always show you how deep you are in the collection. Click them to get a broader view of the items you're currently viewing.

  3. Search

    Enter names, places, or other keywords that you're curious about here. We'll look for them in the fulltext of millions of articles.

  4. Search

    Browsed to an interesting page? Click here to search within the item you're currently viewing, or start a new search.

  5. Search facets

    Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.

  6. View selection

    Switch between images of the original document and text transcriptions and outlines you can cut and paste.

  7. Tools

    Print, save, zoom in and more.

  8. Explore

    If you'd rather just browse through documents, click here to find titles and issues from particular dates and geographic regions.

  9. Need more help?

    The "Help" link will show you different tips for each page on the site, so click here often as you explore the site.

Working