« 上一頁繼續 »
day and date for all the labours of man head with a shuttle in its mouth." may obtain a useful lesson in the con- “Are yé sure," said the divine, “that troversy which then burned, and which the leaves are those of the grape still smoulders, concerning the age of “As sure," said the lawyer, as that the hall. On that very morning in grapes never grow without leaves." which a man somewhat curious about Then," said the divine," this throws truth would desire to commence this some light on an old boast, that the desultory but remarkable tale, it hap- lands of Framlingham, that now flow pened that the antiquity of the hall had with milk, once flowed with wine." engaged the attention of two persons, “Ah! the old vine terraces of Framwho, summoned on other business, sat lingham," said the lawyer," which, under the southern porch-way, side by planted by the Romans, intoxicated the side. From this place they had a view Saxons, and filled the monks with deof a wandering stream_which had ob- light, and the nuns with joy. Those tained the name of the Larke, from were merry times, Mr. Horegrove; but emitting, as it ran, a kind of melodious merry times never last long. And I din among its pebbles; they had also am afraid, after all, that this English a view of many clumps of very old and wine would feel sour to the fastidious stately oaks, and of a distant field graze lips of the present generation." ed by numerous cows.
At tbis moment a female shriek was “ It is, indeed," said one, who had heard in the ball, and the person who all the tokens of the pastoral charge of uttered it came suddenly out, smiting souls about him, “an ancient and a one hand upon another, “Come, štart venerable place-tradition hesitates ye !” said she, addressing at once the about the date of its foundation, and divine and the lawyer ;_“Come, stir certain of those sages, the antiquaries, ye-stir ye: the breath will be out, have written very learnedly and unin- and the devil will be in, and Coldentelligibly about it. In groping after game-hall will lack a master, while ye, its date, they have filled their hands sit here talking of Framlingham oaks with idle controversy, and, in a style and Robin Grande's vine terraces. swollen with Norman and Saxon He's gasping his last gasp, and no a names, have foundered on till they are sensible soul near bim to hear the last stayed by the very reasonable legend of words of an expiring sinner !" The the Wolf and St. Edmund's head and room into which they rose and followed there have they halted for breath before this unceremonious messenger was a they take another step up the dark stairsmall chamber, hewn out of oak as of conjecture and absurdity.” “ It hard as iron, and as black as ink; and would perhaps be presumptuous,” said lighted by a small window half shut up bis companion, who seemed, by his with a vine run wild. In an old stuffed shrewd and suspicious eye, to be one arm-chair-with arms, and mottoes, learned in the law," while such a con- and texts of scripture, strewn over it, troversy pends, to offer the opinion of they found a hale-looking old man, one so simple as myself: but to eyes less who, with clasped hands, and an uninspired indeed, than those through settled wildness of eye, sat gazing round which antiquaries look, the house seems and round as if something visible to of the age of Henry VII. The arms him alone fitted from place to place, of the noble name of Bennet may be and was giving him great pain. seen very curiously carved amid the 6 Where is Elias, my son?" said the interlacings of vine and ivy-leaves, old man;" when the wind is shaking while over it is the figure of a wolf the fruit tree, he should be near to couching with a human head between gather the fruit. You are welcome, its paws, which it may be either watch- Mr. Horegrove-if that's your name ing or devouring. The wise on those and you, sir, are welcome too-ye are matters say it is the wolf and the bead the new-come lawyer-ye came here of St. Edmund—while the simple, and when the Norfolk breed of cows cametherefore unwise, say it is the arms of and the dairy district has never thriven the corporation of weavers—a wolf's since. We come weeping, Mr. Hore
grove, into the world; and we go gladness of riches may be yours for a groaning out; and of all that we love, score of years. Fatber, your reproach we can take nought with us. I wish is unjust. I have learned to make the curse of man and of God would re- money work while men sleep-I beat main behind on the earth with them Gisleham at bargain-making ; I took who brought in the brindled breed of in Gripington in open barter at nooncows. But when will moaning mend day, and fairly outwitted Cresswell out us—the fair fields and the pure gold of one of his best heifers. I cannot pass we have sinned our souls in seeking along the street on a market-day but I must bide where they are. What could hear men whisper, • That's young NeyI do with the broad lands of Colden- land of Coldengame-a flint-a nailgame in another world ? And now I a file-his father's a cloud raining think that's nearly as good as a sermon, manna compared to him-he has an Mr. Horegrove; I knew all you would eye like a cormorant, and every finger say, and said it for ye, and so I bid you is a fish-hook.'" “ My son," said the good morrow. And now I think on't, old man, “my heart is cheered-ye ye may as well take Mr. Windlas the are indeed my child. Ah! I thought lawyer with you—I hate the breed—I ye had a touch too much of your mohate the breed. Will the pleasant ther--a wise and a thrifty woman, lands of Coldengame not descend with Elias, in all things, save in giving her the old name of Neyland, unless it's cheese-parings to the parish poor, and scribbled on a sheep's skin by a knave? wearing laced head-gear on holidays I hate the breed -I hate the breed. her extravagance has shortened my The Lord deliver the pasture-lands of days by five years and upwards. Now, the old district from priests, lawyers, Elias, lad, I have some words to say, to and the brindled brood of Norfolk. which ye must listen. When ye hear Away with you! Away with you!” that Duke this, and Earl that, and Lord They rose, and went away.
the other thing, recommend a new A tall handsome young man now manger and a new cheese-press, and entered the chamber; he advanced to an improved creaming-cop, and new the chair, took the sick man by the grasses, and new broods of cows—even hand, and turned his head away-to laugh, and bide by thy wise father's hide the tear which was not there to plans. Mind them not-these are magdrop.“ Elias Neyland," said the old gots which breed — and where's the man, " I must leave the green pastures harm-in great men's heads--but great of Coldengame and the clear stream of men's heads, Elias, are as empty as a the Larke, and all my milch-cows milk-pail before milking-time. It was and a fairer brood never pipt the biding by one wise plan of thrift, that morning grass, nor yielded milk to a raised ine from a poor herdsman to be maiden's hand-I must leave them all, - proprietor of Coldengame, with some Elias--and leave my gold, and my pretty slips of pasture about Cranesgains, and my thrifty bargains, and the ford and "Thrandestone. I wish that prospect of large increase, and all to a cursed congh would keep away, that I ihriftless and a prodigal son, who spent might engrave the description of the four-pence half-penny at last Ipswich kind of cow which filled my pails and fair, and drank the cream off yesterday pockets upon your memory.' morning's milk. Men will say, as they The old man coughed long, and then hold out their fingers at thee, There re-commenced his train of advice. goes waster Elias, the only son of old “ “My favourite cow had no hornssaring Edward Neyland. Ah! Elias, horns will gore others of the herd, and Elias, what made ye of the silver six- spill the pails of milk. She had a pence I gave ye on your birth-day- clean, clear throat—a small dewlapye will break your father's heart,Elias.” a heavy belly-a ridged back-a large
“Fatber," said the youth, your carcase and thin legs, with a hollow days may yet be many; and you may chine and a snake head. Her udder live to add field to field, and sum to was big and her milk-veins large; her som; and the delight of gain and the eye was greedy, and her colour was the
hue of her own cream-what I call a with a look which seemed to make him golden cream. Thy mother favoured creep together with terror; “ Edward the brindled sort—but my dying word Neyland, the hour of death is come will be a cream, a golden cream. She let it be the hour of retribution and rewill yield eight gallons a-day, and her pentance also. Need I tell you who I milk will cast a coat of cream over am, and what my meaning is? In the which a mouse might walk dry-footed. dark hour of night, when one child lay That's the cow, Elias, for the world— in its coffin, another was dying in my will ye learn the description by heart ?” arms, and my husband lay in his shroud The heir nodded assent, and the old by my side, ye went and moved our man continued. “Now I think I may landmark, and robbed the widow and give a thought or two to the other the fatherless of a fair inheritance. world—to the state of my soul, as Par- When ye justified your villany by a son Horegrove says-not that I have false oath, did ye think ye imposed on so much need as many others, for I God as ye imposed on man? Arise ! have ever kept matters close by the Edward Neyland; ye have yet strength head there. I went regularly to left to do an act of justice-arise! and church-I gave Lady Religion her just replace the landmark-and if ye die in dues—and her dues are far from light.” righting the widow and the fatherless, “Ah ! father,” said Elias, "the church ye may hope for grace-but ye are inis a greater cormorant than the state : capable of repentance-ye will die in she claims and takes all the gains of sin—and I am come to curse ye where Coldengame every tenth year I think ye sit.” her company might be spared.” Young Neyland stept in between his “ Spared, lad!” said old Neyland, father and this stern old monitress; 6 fiend make their skull into a skim- and, looking her full in the face, seemed ming-dish for the caldrons of darkness, willing to impose silence on her by his that would wish otherwise. To
looks. She was not to be so dauntedchurch and state, my child, I have ever there she stood like the pride of old given as little as I could—they have English virtue and truth personified, always put a greedy hand into our while the demon of gain and rapacity pockets--and if the parson's prayers seemed represented by the other. can be useful where I am going, it is “ Young man,
” said the old woman, more than I can credit. I shall soon “ I read your heart—it is leaping with see. Now, Elias, I have ever kept joy at the hope of a speedy possessionnature in as with a bridle-hand. I have and ye curse death as dilatory, and not diced—nor horse-raced-nor fought think the grave and the pit are slow in cocks--nor bulls—nor sworn an oath, claiming their morsel. There ye stand, save what was for my own advantage anxious to succeed to the gains of that and swearing can hardly be regarded wretched old man whom God smote as sin where the gain is great.” with a year's blindness, yet he repented
As he spoke, a footstep was heard not-with a year's madness, yet he in the passage-the door of the cham- cried not for mercy—and when he reber opened, and an old woman, tall and stored him to his faculties, did he bless erect--with a look keen, shrewd, and the hand of heaven, and rue the wrongs sarcastic, walked up to the sick man, he had done to the widow and the orShe seemed the votary rather of some phan? From that infirm portion of obsolete order of devotees than the wife clay I hope not for restitution—let him of a pastoral farmer. She wore a long go unworthily and unblessed to his dark mantle, with open sleeves, that grave-where the loathing worms will almost reached the floor-it was drawn spare his poisonous carcase. But from close round her neck, terminating in a you, young man-griping and greedy small ruff; wbile a little black print as you are, the only child of one whom bible, clasped and cornered with silver, God has sent among us for a curse-I hung by a chain from her girdle nearly expect--nay, I demand justice and as low as her feet. “Edward Ney- see ye delay it not. Now mark my land !" said she, regarding the old man words. The tongue that never spoke
on the side of mercy and truth before, to replace the landmark—but the fields will command you to do justice to me looked so green and fair, and my cows and mine-obey, and thy days shall be seemed to graze with so much rapture, long in the land—refuse, and within that my hands refused an act of kindthe light of one short moon ye shall be ness to my soul. I have sometimes summoned before an inexorable judge, thought that Satan—ye have heard the and an end shall be of thee and thine.” parson preach about him, my man, and
“ Woman, woman !” said Elias, how he dwells in a bottomless pit,
dost thou think, with thy clasped where the heat would melt the buckles book at thy belt, and ungracious words in your shoes—I think Satan himself on thy tongue, to dismay me? Ye have painted the widow's fields with a richer been long known for one who could do hue, and dyed the grass with a more no good for yourself: and whenever beauteous dye, in order that the tempyou have seen a neighbour prosper; lo! tation might get the better of my wish ye came and clasped your hands and to be merciful. Lord! lad, if I thought shouted, . He bas robbed the widow, that the fields are not so rich as I imand plundered the fatherless; and there agined, may the fiend make my right he rides gallantly with the Lincoln leg bone into the drone of a Scotchgreen coat and silver buttons, who de- man's bagpipe, if I would not, this serves to be made a tassel to a gibbet.' precious moment, restore them to widHad honest men their will, ye would ow Rushbrook! Lord help me, and pass he herring-rook, dame, for an ill- have I sinned my soul for seven sand wisher-and a prayer of evil prayers.” hills instead of seven good pasture “ The herring-brook which ye will parks. Tell me, Elias, my lad, were pass," said the old woman, “ will be they clothed, think ye, by the Tempibat brook which runs down the valley ter, in that long and beautiful herbage, and shadow of death. The old tree is in order that I might sell bim my soul rotten and ripe, and the fire will soon for a simple luck-penny?” catch its branches—the young tree “ The cows," answered Elias, “love looks green and fair—but the axe is the fields—and their milk is more whet, and a stroke shall strike it low, abundant and rich from that pasture when there shall be none to raise it than from others-nine gallons a-day, again. And the last words ye shall and a pound and a half of butter, each, utter will be, Ruth Rushbrook said it.” can be no work of the fiends-else he's And she awaited no reply, but strode a kind fiend to us.”. “Spoken like thy out of the room.
father's son,” said the old man ; " and Elias, after having fastened the door, now hearken to me. All my neighto secure himself from farther intrusion, bours know me for a close-banded returned to his fatber ; but the looks of man-and may be some suspect I am the old man were changed—his face no honester than an honest man oughtwas dark, his eye was wandering—and now mind my words. Ye will soon bis voice sounded like an echo among have riches—ye will want only a fair the tombs, “Elias, my son, come near name and a fair fame and these are death is more fearsome than I thought far easier to be had than the broad lands and though I wished once to groan out of Coldengame. When I am coldmy last, leaving ye owner of all the fair and no sooner—send for widow Rushfields of which I am master, I find it brook, and send for some of the old may not be. Ye may mind how sore wise heads of the district. Quote some your mother pleaded near ber last gasp two or three words about grace and to be kind-honest was the word-to the mercy from scripture—thy mother's widow and the fatherless babes—she bible is sewed up in the sleeve of her died with the word landmark, and with damasked gown-I sometimes take a the name of Rushbrook, on her tongue. look at it myself
. And, now, I think Now, Elias, I have often tried to do the on't, ye will find my shroud lying behonest deed myself—and one summer side it-thy mother shaped and sewed morning, before the sun or the seed of it for me-blessed be her thrist-andmoan, save myself, was up, I went out what was I talking about ?--Aye-and
ye'll say that your father felt the con- man, “I sold him twenty and eight science pang, and commanded ye to stone-half money down-but, oh! restore the two fields to Ruth Rush- death's dealing with me, and he's a brook which he had retained-retained, hard creditor- I wish I could put over Elias, is a soft word—now this will the winter--I think I could drop away open the world to thee with a fine with less reluctance in the spring. sound-Ruth will be delighted, and the Make the four fields five, Elias– I shall world will forget the father for the sake sleep the sounder fort—there's no of the son, and your fortune will bud sleeping in hell-fire, if all tales be true. forth and flourish--and ye will be Sir Save us! what put that in my head ?” Elias--or wherefore not Lord ? But
“ Speaking of hell-fire,” said Elias, what see ye at the window ?--ye will “are ye sure that Stephen Elborde, see the green fields when I am dead whom men call Steenie Hellbird, may and gone."
be trusted, father? He has a doctor “ See at the window ?" answered and an attorney with him-and the Elias; “ if yonder's not Gaffer Gripp- priest rode down the bridle-road this agen driving his brindled Lady Mary morning. He'll confess him, and bless over the Larke to our cream-coloured him ; and for a piece of gold give him Cush--he'll steal the breed --Father, absolution for all his sins, and send him d'ye think ye'll not die till I come gaily to heaven, though he had stolen back ?” And away he started, mutter- the whole county of Suffolk, and moved ing, “One may find an old man of all the widows' landmarks beiween sixty-eight again ; but when shall I find this and the Land's End. It's a relitwo fair fields such as Suffolk cannot gion that accommodates itself to men's match ?” A full hour elapsed before he dispositions and desires, better than any returned-he went not near the Larke, form that I know of. But touching old nor sought he after Gaffer and his Elborde, depend on't, his lease is near brindled Lady Mary—but he ran away run-I saw smoke in his chimney at to look at the two fields which were to six this blessed morning—a sign that become the property of Ruth Rush- some unthrifty thing is about to hapbrook. He paced them from end to pen.” “ Elias," said the old man, end, and from side to side, and shook gasping for breath—“ listen to me his head and muttered, “I will keep make the five fields seven, and add to them though the dead should rise and them one hundred pieces of gold-and demand them.” He examined the then I think men will bless me when sward; it was rich in natural clover, I'm in the grave—and I may take and savoury with the sweetest grasses, heaven in my own hand. Send for and tempting to the lip of all cows, Ruth Rushbrook, 1 say.” “Father,” whether cream-coloured or tawny. He answered Elias," where have ye bid muttered again, “ Plague on't ! inust the rights of Framlingham lea, the title the price of his repentance come out of deeds of Grublington ? and I have not my pocket!" and, with a firm resolu- seen for a twelvemonth, and more, the tion to retain them, he returned to the silver token by which ye hold of the chamber where the dying man lay. crown Lily-acres and the six fields of
The hand of death was fast subduing Skimagain.” “ Elias,” said Edward the strength, and softening the hard Neyland, his visage sharpening in iron spirit, of his father, “ Elias !” he death, and his last respiration rattling sighed, " are ye come? Oh make the in his throat ; “ seven fields, I say, and two fields four il ye would have your one bundred pieces of gold, to Ruth father to find rest in his grave.” Rushbrook-do as I say, and God and “Father," said the youth,“ can ye tell my spirit shall bless you. Keep them me how many stone weight of cheese and I shall come from the dead and ye sold to Gabriel Grippal, of Ipswich? disinherit ye: keep them, and the widhe's dead, or become bankrupt--and- ow's curse, which missed me, shall fall either the devil or the lawyers have the on you: keep them—and God shall picking of him-it matters little which- make ye a wonder and a warning to it's a sore loss.” “ Elias," said the old all children who disobey their parents :