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Cousin phillis


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Title:CousinPhillis

Author:ElizabethCleghornGaskell
ReleaseDate:July,2003[Etext#4268][Yes,wearemorethanoneyearaheadof
schedule][ThisfilewasfirstpostedonDecember26,2001]
Edition:10
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ThisetextwasproducedbyCharlesAldarondo.
CousinPhillisbyElizabethGaskell(1863)
PhilipHermongenesCalderon(1833-98)BrokenVows(1856)


PARTI
Itisagreatthingforaladwhenheisfirstturnedintotheindependenceof
lodgings.IdonotthinkIeverwassosatisfiedandproudinmylifeaswhen,at
seventeen,Isatedowninalittlethree-corneredroomaboveapastry-cook’sshop
inthecountytownofEltham.Myfatherhadleftmethatafternoon,after
deliveringhimselfofafewplainprecepts,stronglyexpressed,formyguidance
inthenewcourseoflifeonwhichIwasentering.Iwastobeaclerkunderthe
engineerwhohadundertakentomakethelittlebranchlinefromElthamto
Hornby.Myfatherhadgotmethissituation,whichwasinapositionrather
abovehisowninlife;orperhapsIshouldsay,abovethestationinwhichhewas
bornandbred;forhewasraisinghimselfeveryyearinmen’sconsiderationand
respect.Hewasamechanicbytrade,buthehadsomeinventivegenius,anda
greatdealofperseverance,andhaddevisedseveralvaluableimprovementsin
railwaymachinery.Hedidnotdothisforprofit,though,aswasreasonable,what
cameinthenaturalcourseofthingswasacceptable;heworkedouthisideas,
because,ashesaid,‘untilhecouldputthemintoshape,theyplaguedhimby
nightandbyday.’Butthisisenoughaboutmydearfather;itisagoodthingfor
acountrywheretherearemanylikehim.HewasasturdyIndependentby
descentandconviction;andthisitwas,Ibelieve,whichmadehimplacemein
thelodgingsatthepastry-cook’s.Theshopwaskeptbythetwosistersofour
ministerathome;andthiswasconsideredasasortofsafeguardtomymorals,
whenIwasturnedlooseuponthetemptationsofthecountytown,withasalary
ofthirtypoundsayear.
Myfatherhadgivenuptwopreciousdays,andputonhisSundayclothes,in
ordertobringmetoEltham,andaccompanymefirsttotheoffice,tointroduce
metomynewmaster(whowasundersomeobligationstomyfatherfora
suggestion),andnexttotakemetocallontheIndependentministerofthelittle
congregationatEltham.Andthenheleftme;andthoughsorrytopartwithhim,
Inowbegantotastewithrelishthepleasureofbeingmyownmaster.Iunpacked
thehamperthatmymotherhadprovidedmewith,andsmeltthepotsofpreserve
withallthedelightofapossessorwhomightbreakintotheircontentsatany
timehepleased.Ihandledandweighedinmyfancythehome-curedham,which
seemedtopromisemeinterminablefeasts;and,aboveall,therewasthefine
savourofknowingthatImighteatofthesedaintieswhenIliked,atmysolewill,
notdependentonthepleasureofanyoneelse,howeverindulgent.Istowedmy


eatablesawayinthelittlecornercupboard—thatroomwasallcorners,and
everythingwasplacedinacorner,thefire-place,thewindow,thecupboard;I
myselfseemedtobetheonlythinginthemiddle,andtherewashardlyroomfor
me.Thetablewasmadeofafoldingleafunderthewindow,andthewindow
lookedoutuponthemarket-place;sothestudiesfortheprosecutionofwhichmy
fatherhadbroughthimselftopayextraforasitting-roomforme,rana
considerablechanceofbeingdivertedfrombookstomenandwomen.Iwasto
havemymealswiththetwoelderlyMissDawsonsinthelittleparlourbehind
thethree-corneredshopdownstairs;mybreakfastsanddinnersatleast,for,as
myhoursinaneveningwerelikelytobeuncertain,myteaorsupperwastobe
anindependentmeal.
Then,afterthisprideandsatisfaction,cameasenseofdesolation.Ihadnever
beenfromhomebefore,andIwasanonlychild;andthoughmyfather’sspoken
maximhadbeen,‘Sparetherod,andspoilthechild’,yet,unconsciously,his
hearthadyearnedafterme,andhiswaystowardsmeweremoretenderthanhe
knew,orwouldhaveapprovedofinhimselfcouldhehaveknown.Mymother,
whoneverprofessedsternness,wasfarmoreseverethanmyfather:perhapsmy
boyishfaultsannoyedhermore;forIremember,nowthatIhavewrittenthe
abovewords,howshepleadedformeonceinmyriperyears,whenIhadreally
offendedagainstmyfather’ssenseofright.
ButIhavenothingtodowiththatnow.ItisaboutcousinPhillisthatIamgoing
towrite,andasyetIamfarenoughfromevensayingwhocousinPhilliswas.
ForsomemonthsafterIwassettledinEltham,thenewemploymentinwhichI
wasengaged—thenewindependenceofmylife—occupiedallmythoughts.I
wasatmydeskbyeighto’clock,hometodinneratone,backattheofficeby
two.Theafternoonworkwasmoreuncertainthanthemorning’s;itmightbethe
same,oritmightbethatIhadtoaccompanyMrHoldsworth,themanaging
engineer,tosomepointonthelinebetweenElthamandHornby.ThisIalways
enjoyed,becauseofthevariety,andbecauseofthecountrywetraversed(which
wasverywildandpretty),andbecauseIwasthrownintocompanionshipwith
MrHoldsworth,whoheldthepositionofheroinmyboyishmind.Hewasa
youngmanoffive-and-twentyorso,andwasinastationabovemine,bothby
birthandeducation;andhehadtravelledontheContinent,andworemustachios
andwhiskersofasomewhatforeignfashion.Iwasproudofbeingseenwith
him.Hewasreallyafinefellowinagoodnumberofways,andImighthave
fallenintomuchworsehands.


EverySaturdayIwrotehome,tellingofmyweeklydoings—myfatherhad
insisteduponthis;buttherewassolittlevarietyinmylifethatIoftenfoundit
hardworktofillaletter.OnSundaysIwenttwicetochapel,upadarknarrow
entry,toheardroninghymns,andlongprayers,andastilllongersermon,
preachedtoasmallcongregation,ofwhichIwas,bynearlyascoreofyears,the
youngestmember.Occasionally,MrPeters,theminister,wouldaskmehometo
teaafterthesecondservice.Idreadedthehonour,forIusuallysateontheedge
ofmychairalltheevening,andansweredsolemnquestions,putinadeepbass
voice,untilhouseholdprayer-timecame,ateighto’clock,whenMrsPeterscame
in,smoothingdownherapron,andthemaid-of-all-workfollowed,andfirsta
sermon,andthenachapterwasread,andalongimpromptuprayerfollowed,till
someinstincttoldMrPetersthatsupper-timehadcome,andwerosefromour
kneeswithhungerforourpredominantfeeling.Oversuppertheministerdid
unbendalittleintooneortwoponderousjokes,asiftoshowmethatministers
weremen,afterall.Andthenatteno’clockIwenthome,andenjoyedmylongrepressedyawnsinthethree-corneredroombeforegoingtobed.Dinahand
HannahDawson,sotheirnameswereputontheboardabovetheshop-door—I
alwayscalledthemMissDawsonandMissHannah—consideredthesevisitsof
minetoMrPetersasthegreatesthonourayoungmancouldhave;andevidently
thoughtthatifaftersuchprivileges,Ididnotworkoutmysalvation,Iwasasort
ofmodernJudasIscariot.Onthecontrary,theyshooktheirheadsovermy
intercoursewithMrHoldsworth.Hehadbeensokindtomeinmanyways,that
whenIcutintomyham,Ihoveredoverthethoughtofaskinghimtoteainmy
room,moreespeciallyastheannualfairwasbeingheldinElthammarket-place,
andthesightofthebooths,themerry-go-rounds,thewild-beastshows,andsuch
countrypomps,was(asIthoughtatseventeen)veryattractive.ButwhenI
venturedtoalludetomywishinevendistantterms,MissHannahcaughtmeup,
andspokeofthesinfulnessofsuchsights,andsomethingaboutwallowinginthe
mire,andthenvaultedintoFrance,andspokeevilofthenation,andallwhohad
eversetfoottherein,till,seeingthatherangerwasconcentratingitselfintoa
point,andthatthatpointwasMrHoldsworth,Ithoughtitwouldbebetterto
finishmybreakfast,andmakewhathasteIcouldoutofthesoundofhervoice.I
ratherwonderedafterwardstohearherandMissDawsoncountinguptheir
weeklyprofitswithglee,andsayingthatapastry-cook’sshopinthecornerof
themarket-place,inElthamfairweek,wasnosuchbadthing.However,Inever
venturedtoaskMrHoldsworthtomylodgings.
ThereisnotmuchtotellaboutthisfirstyearofmineatEltham.ButwhenIwas
nearlynineteen,andbeginningtothinkofwhiskersonmyownaccount,Icame


toknowcousinPhillis,whoseveryexistencehadbeenunknowntometillthen.
MrHoldsworthandIhadbeenouttoHeathbridgeforaday,workinghard.
HeathbridgewasnearHornby,forourlineofrailwaywasabovehalffinished.
Ofcourse,aday’soutingwasagreatthingtotellaboutinmyweeklyletters;and
Ifelltodescribingthecountry—afaultIwasnotoftenguiltyof.Itoldmyfather
ofthebogs,alloverwildmyrtleandsoftmoss,andshakinggroundoverwhich
wehadtocarryourline;andhowMrHoldsworthandIhadgoneforourmiddaymeals—forwehadtostayherefortwodaysandanight—toaprettyvillage
hardby,Heathbridgeproper;andhowIhopedweshouldoftenhavetogothere,
fortheshaking,uncertaingroundwaspuzzlingourengineers—oneendofthe
linegoingupassoonastheotherwasweighteddown.(Ihadnothoughtforthe
shareholders’interests,asmaybeseen;wehadtomakeanewlineonfirmer
groundbeforethejunctionrailwaywascompleted.)Itoldallthisatgreatlength,
thankfultofillupmypaper.Byreturnletter,Iheardthatasecond-cousinofmy
mother’swasmarriedtotheIndependentministerofHornby,EbenezerHolman
byname,andlivedatHeathbridgeproper;theveryHeathbridgeIhaddescribed,
orsomymotherbelieved,forshehadneverseenhercousinPhillisGreen,who
wassomethingofanheiress(myfatherbelieved),beingherfather’sonlychild,
andoldThomasGreenhadownedanestateofnearuponfiftyacres,whichmust
havecometohisdaughter.Mymother’sfeelingofkinshipseemedtohavebeen
stronglystirredbythementionofHeathbridge;formyfathersaidshedesired
me,ifeverIwentthitheragain,tomakeinquiryfortheReverendEbenezer
Holman;andifindeedhelivedthere,Iwasfurthertoaskifhehadnotmarried
onePhillisGreen;andifboththesequestionswereansweredintheaffirmative,I
wastogoandintroducemyselfastheonlychildofMargaretManning,born
Moneypenny.IwasenragedatmyselfforhavingnamedHeathbridgeatall,
whenIfoundwhatitwasdrawingdownuponme.OneIndependentminister,as
Isaidtomyself,wasenoughforanyman;andhereIknew(thatistosay,Ihad
beencatechizedonSabbathmorningsby)MrDawson,ourministerathome;and
IhadhadtobeciviltooldPetersatEltham,andbehavemyselfforfivehours
runningwheneverheaskedmetoteaathishouse;andnow,justasIfeltthefree
airblowingaboutmeupatHeathbridge,Iwastoferretoutanotherminister,and
Ishouldperhapshavetobecatechizedbyhim,orelseaskedtoteaathishouse.
Besides,Ididnotlikepushingmyselfuponstrangers,whoperhapshadnever
heardofmymother’sname,andsuchanoddnameasitwas—Moneypenny;and
iftheyhad,hadnevercaredmoreforherthanshehadforthem,apparently,until
thisunluckymentionofHeathbridge.Still,Iwouldnotdisobeymyparentsin
suchatrifle,howeverirksomeitmightbe.Sothenexttimeourbusinesstookme
toHeathbridge,andweweredininginthelittlesandedinn-parlour,Itookthe


opportunityofMrHoldsworth’sbeingoutoftheroom,andaskedthequestions
whichIwasbiddentoaskoftherosy-cheekedmaid.Iwaseitherunintelligible
orshewasstupid;forshesaidshedidnotknow,butwouldaskmaster;andof
coursethelandlordcameintounderstandwhatitwasIwantedtoknow;andI
hadtobringoutallmystammeringinquiriesbeforeMrHoldsworth,whowould
neverhaveattendedtothem,Idaresay,ifIhadnotblushed,andblundered,and
madesuchafoolofmyself.
‘Yes,’thelandlordsaid,‘theHopeFarmwasinHeathbridgeproper,andthe
owner’snamewasHolman,andhewasanIndependentminister,and,asfaras
thelandlordcouldtell,hiswife’sChristiannamewasPhillis,anyhowhermaiden
namewasGreen.’
‘Relationsofyours?’askedMrHoldsworth.
‘No,sir—onlymymother’ssecond-cousins.Yes,Isupposetheyarerelations.
ButIneversawtheminmylife.’
‘TheHopeFarmisnotastone’sthrowfromhere,’saidtheofficiouslandlord,
goingtothewindow.‘Ifyoucarryyoureyeoveryonbedofhollyhocks,overthe
damson-treesintheorchardyonder,youmayseeastackofqueer-likestone
chimneys.ThemistheHopeFarmchimneys;it’sanoldplace,thoughHolman
keepsitingoodorder.’
MrHoldsworthhadrisenfromthetablewithmorepromptitudethanIhad,and
wasstandingbythewindow,looking.Atthelandlord’slastwords,heturned
round,smiling,—‘Itisnotoftenthatparsonsknowhowtokeeplandinorder,is
it?’
‘Begpardon,sir,butImustspeakasIfind;andMinisterHolman—wecallthe
Churchclergymanhere“parson,”sir;hewouldbeabitjealousifhehearda
Dissentercalledparson—MinisterHolmanknowswhathe’saboutaswellas
e’erafarmerintheneighbourhood.Hegivesupfivedaysaweektohisown
work,andtwototheLord’s;anditisdifficulttosaywhichheworkshardestat.
HespendsSaturdayandSundaya-writingsermonsanda-visitinghisflockat
Hornby;andatfiveo’clockonMondaymorninghe’llbeguidinghisploughin
theHopeFarmyonderjustaswellasifhecouldneitherreadnorwrite.Butyour
dinnerwillbegettingcold,gentlemen.’
Sowewentbacktotable.Afterawhile,MrHoldsworthbrokethesilence:—‘IfI


wereyou,Manning,I’dlookuptheserelationsofyours.Youcangoandsee
whatthey’relikewhilewerewaitingforDobson’sestimates,andI’llsmokea
cigarinthegardenmeanwhile.’
‘Thankyou,sir.ButIdon’tknowthem,andIdon’tthinkIwanttoknowthem.’
‘Whatdidyouaskallthosequestionsfor,then?’saidhe,lookingquicklyupat
me.Hehadnonotionofdoingorsayingthingswithoutapurpose.Ididnot
answer,sohecontinued,—‘Makeupyourmind,andgooffandseewhatthis
farmer-ministerislike,andcomebackandtellme—Ishouldliketohear.’
Iwassointhehabitofyieldingtohisauthority,orinfluence,thatInever
thoughtofresisting,butwentonmyerrand,thoughIrememberfeelingasifI
wouldratherhavehadmyheadcutoff.Thelandlord,whohadevidentlytaken
aninterestintheeventofourdiscussioninawaythatcountrylandlordshave,
accompaniedmetothehouse-door,andgavemerepeateddirections,asifIwas
likelytomissmywayintwohundredyards.ButIlistenedtohim,forIwasglad
ofthedelay,toscrewupmycouragefortheeffortoffacingunknownpeopleand
introducingmyself.Iwentalongthelane,Irecollect,switchingatallthetaller
roadsideweeds,till,afteraturnortwo,IfoundmyselfcloseinfrontoftheHope
Farm.Therewasagardenbetweenthehouseandtheshady,grassylane;I
afterwardsfoundthatthisgardenwascalledthecourt;perhapsbecausethere
wasalowwallroundit,withanironrailingonthetopofthewall,andtwogreat
gatesbetweenpillarscrownedwithstoneballsforastateentrancetotheflagged
pathleadinguptothefrontdoor.Itwasnotthehabitoftheplacetogoineither
bythesegreatgatesorbythefrontdoor;thegates,indeed,werelocked,asI
found,thoughthedoorstoodwideopen.Ihadtogoroundbyaside-pathlightly
wornonabroadgrassyway,whichledpastthecourt-wall,pastahorse-mount,
halfcoveredwithstone-cropandthelittlewildyellowfumitory,toanotherdoor
—‘thecurate’,asIfounditwastermedbythemasterofthehouse,whilethe
frontdoor,‘handsomeandallforshow’,wastermedthe‘rector’.Iknockedwith
myhanduponthe‘curate’door;atallgirl,aboutmyownage,asIthought,came
andopenedit,andstoodtheresilent,waitingtoknowmyerrand.Iseehernow
—cousinPhillis.Thewesteringsunshonefulluponher,andmadeaslanting
streamoflightintotheroomwithin.Shewasdressedindarkbluecottonof
somekind;uptoherthroat,downtoherwrists,withalittlefrillofthesame
whereverittouchedherwhiteskin.Andsuchawhiteskinasitwas!Ihavenever
seenthelike.Shehadlighthair,neareryellowthananyothercolour.Shelooked
mesteadilyinthefacewithlarge,quieteyes,wondering,butuntroubledbythe


sightofastranger.Ithoughtitoddthatsoold,sofull-grownasshewas,she
shouldwearapinaforeoverhergown.
BeforeIhadquitemadeupmymindwhattosayinreplytohermuteinquiryof
whatIwantedthere,awoman’svoicecalledout,‘Whoisit,Phillis?Ifitisany
oneforbuttermilksendthemroundtothebackdoor.’
IthoughtIcouldratherspeaktotheownerofthatvoicethantothegirlbefore
me;soIpassedher,andstoodattheentranceofaroomhatinhand,forthissidedooropenedstraightintothehallorhouse-placewherethefamilysatewhen
workwasdone.Therewasabrisklittlewomanoffortyorsoironingsomehuge
muslincravatsunderthelightofalongvine-shadedcasementwindow.She
lookedatmedistrustfullytillIbegantospeak.‘MynameisPaulManning,’said
I;butIsawshedidnotknowthename.‘Mymother’snamewasMoneypenny,’
saidI,—‘MargaretMoneypenny.’
‘AndshemarriedoneJohnManning,ofBirmingham,’saidMrsHolman,
eagerly.
‘Andyou’llbeherson.Sitdown!Iamrightgladtoseeyou.Tothinkofyour
beingMargaret’sson!Why,shewasalmostachildnotsolongago.Well,tobe
sure,itisfive-and-twentyyearsago.Andwhatbringsyouintotheseparts?’
Shesatedownherself,asifoppressedbyhercuriosityastoallthefive-andtwentyyearsthathadpassedbysinceshehadseenmymother.Herdaughter
Phillistookupherknitting—alonggreyworstedman’sstocking,Iremember—
andknittedawaywithoutlookingatherwork.Ifeltthatthesteadygazeofthose
deepgreyeyeswasuponme,thoughonce,whenIstealthilyraisedminetohers,
shewasexaminingsomethingonthewallabovemyhead.
WhenIhadansweredallmycousinHolman’squestions,sheheavedalong
breath,andsaid,‘TothinkofMargaretMoneypenny’sboybeinginourhouse!I
wishtheministerwashere.Phillis,inwhatfieldisthyfatherto-day?’
‘Inthefive-acre;theyarebeginningtocutthecorn.’
‘He’llnotlikebeingsentfor,then,elseIshouldhavelikedyoutohaveseenthe
minister.Butthefive-acreisagoodstepoff.Youshallhaveaglassofwineand
abitofcakebeforeyoustirfromthishouse,though.You’reboundtogo,you
say,orelsetheministercomesinmostlywhenthemenhavetheirfouro’clock.’


‘Imustgo—Ioughttohavebeenoffbeforenow.’
‘Here,then,Phillis,takethekeys.’Shegaveherdaughtersomewhispered
directions,andPhillislefttheroom.
‘Sheismycousin,isshenot?’Iasked.Iknewshewas,butsomehowIwantedto
talkofher,anddidnotknowhowtobegin.
‘Yes—PhillisHolman.Sheisouronlychild—now.’
Eitherfromthat‘now’,orfromastrangemomentarywistfulnessinhereyes,I
knewthattherehadbeenmorechildren,whowerenowdead.
‘HowoldiscousinPhillis?’saidI,scarcelyventuringonthenewname,it
seemedtooprettilyfamiliarformetocallherbyit;butcousinHolmantookno
noticeofit,answeringstraighttothepurpose.
‘SeventeenlastMay-day;buttheministerdoesnotliketohearmecallingit
May-day,’saidshe,checkingherselfwithalittleawe.‘Philliswasseventeenon
thefirstdayofMaylast,’sherepeatedinanemendededition.
‘AndIamnineteeninanothermonth,’thoughtI,tomyself;Idon’tknowwhy.
ThenPhilliscamein,carryingatraywithwineandcakeuponit.
‘Wekeepahouse-servant,’saidcousinHolman,‘butitischurningday,andshe
isbusy.’Itwasmeantasalittleproudapologyforherdaughter’sbeingthe
handmaiden.
‘Ilikedoingit,mother,’saidPhillis,inhergrave,fullvoice.
IfeltasifIweresomebodyintheOldTestament—who,Icouldnotrecollect—
beingservedandwaiteduponbythedaughterofthehost.WasIlikeAbraham’s
servant,whenRebekahgavehimtodrinkatthewell?IthoughtIsaachadnot
gonethepleasantestwaytoworkinwinninghimawife.ButPhillisnever
thoughtaboutsuchthings.Shewasastately,graciousyoungwoman,inthedress
andwiththesimplicityofachild.
AsIhadbeentaught,Idranktothehealthofmynewfoundcousinandher
husband;andthenIventuredtonamemycousinPhilliswithalittlebowofmy
headtowardsher;butIwastooawkwardtolookandseehowshetookmy


compliment.‘Imustgonow,’saidI,rising.
Neitherofthewomenhadthoughtofsharinginthewine;cousinHolmanhad
brokenabitofcakeforform’ssake.
‘Iwishtheministerhadbeenwithin,’saidhiswife,risingtoo.SecretlyIwas
verygladhewasnot.Ididnottakekindlytoministersinthosedays,andI
thoughthemustbeaparticularkindofman,byhisobjectingtothetermMayday.ButbeforeIwent,cousinHolmanmademepromisethatIwouldcomeback
ontheSaturdayfollowingandspendSundaywiththem;whenIshouldsee
somethingof‘theminister’.
‘ComeonFriday,ifyoucan,’wereherlastwordsasshestoodatthecurate-door,
shadinghereyesfromthesinkingsunwithherhand.Insidethehousesate
cousinPhillis,hergoldenhair,herdazzlingcomplexion,lightingupthecorner
ofthevine-shadowedroom.ShehadnotrisenwhenIbadehergood-by;shehad
lookedatmestraightasshesaidhertranquilwordsoffarewell.
IfoundMrHoldsworthdownattheline,hardatworksuperintending.AsSoon
ashehadapause,hesaid,‘Well,Manning,whatarethenewcousinslike?How
dopreachingandfarmingseemtogetontogether?Iftheministerturnsouttobe
practicalaswellasreverend,Ishallbegintorespecthim.’
Buthehardlyattendedtomyanswer,hewassomuchmoreoccupiedwith
directinghiswork-people.Indeed,myanswerdidnotcomeveryreadily;andthe
mostdistinctpartofitwasthementionoftheinvitationthathadbeengivenme.
‘Oh,ofcourseyoucango—andonFriday,too,ifyoulike;thereisnoreason
whynotthisweek;andyou’vedonealongspellofworkthistime,oldfellow.’I
thoughtthatIdidnotwanttogoonFriday;butwhenthedaycame,Ifoundthat
Ishouldprefergoingtostayingaway,soIavailedmyselfofMrHoldsworth’s
permission,andwentovertoHopeFarmsometimeintheafternoon,alittlelater
thanmylastvisit.Ifoundthe‘curate’opentoadmitthesoftSeptemberair,so
temperedbythewarmthofthesun,thatitwaswarmeroutofdoorsthanin,
althoughthewoodenloglaysmoulderinginfrontofaheapofhotashesonthe
hearth.Thevine-leavesoverthewindowhadatingemoreyellow,theiredges
werehereandtherescorchedandbrowned;therewasnoironingabout,and
cousinHolmansatejustoutsidethehouse,mendingashirt.Philliswasather
knittingindoors:itseemedasifshehadbeenatitalltheweek.The


manyspeckledfowlswerepeckingaboutinthefarmyardbeyond,andthemilkcansglitteredwithbrightness,hungouttosweeten.Thecourtwassofullof
flowersthattheycreptoutuponthelow-coveredwallandhorse-mount,and
wereeventobefoundself-sownupontheturfthatborderedthepathtotheback
ofthehouse.IfanciedthatmySundaycoatwasscentedfordaysafterwardsby
thebushesofsweetbriarandthefraxinellathatperfumedtheair.Fromtimeto
timecousinHolmanputherhandintoacoveredbasketatherfeet,andthrew
handsfulofcorndownforthepigeonsthatcooedandflutteredintheairaround,
inexpectationofthistreat.
Ihadathoroughwelcomeassoonasshesawme.‘Nowthisiskind—thisis
rightdownfriendly,’shakingmyhandwarmly.‘Phillis,yourcousinManningis
come!’
‘CallmePaul,willyou?’saidI;‘theycallmesoathome,andManninginthe
office.’
‘Well,Paul,then.Yourroomisallreadyforyou,Paul,for,asIsaidtothe
minister,“I’llhaveitreadywhetherhecomesonFridayornot.”Andthe
ministersaidhemustgouptotheAshfieldwhetheryouweretocomeornot;but
hewouldcomehomebetimestoseeifyouwerehere.I’llshowyoutoyour
room,andyoucanwashthedustoffabit.’
AfterIcamedown,Ithinkshedidnotquiteknowwhattodowithme;orshe
mightthinkthatIwasdull;orshemighthaveworktodoinwhichIhindered
her;forshecalledPhillis,andbadeherputonherbonnet,andgowithmetothe
Ashfield,andfindfather.Sowesetoff,Iinalittleflutterofadesiretomake
myselfagreeable,butwishingthatmycompanionwerenotquitesotall;forshe
wasabovemeinheight.WhileIwaswonderinghowtobeginourconversation,
shetookupthewords.
‘Isuppose,cousinPaul,youhavetobeverybusyatyourworkalldaylongin
general.’
‘Yes,wehavetobeintheofficeathalf-pasteight;andwehaveanhourfor
dinner,andthenwegoatitagaintilleightornine.’
‘Thenyouhavenotmuchtimeforreading.’
‘No,’saidI,withasuddenconsciousnessthatIdidnotmakethemostofwhat


leisureIhad.
‘NomorehaveI.Fatheralwaysgetsanhourbeforegoinga-fieldinthe
mornings,butmotherdoesnotlikemetogetupsoearly.’
‘MymotherisalwayswantingmetogetupearlierwhenIamathome.’
‘Whattimedoyougetup?’
‘Oh!—ah!—sometimeshalf-pastsix:notoftenthough;’forIrememberedonly
twicethatIhaddonesoduringthepastsummer.
Sheturnedherheadandlookedatme.
‘Fatherisupatthree;andsowasmothertillshewasill.Ishouldliketobeupat
four.’
‘Yourfatherupatthree!Why,whathashetodoatthathour?’
‘Whathashenottodo?Hehashisprivateexerciseinhisownroom;healways
ringsthegreatbellwhichcallsthementomilking;herousesupBetty,ourmaid;
asoftenasnothegivesthehorsestheirfeedbeforethemanisup—forJem,who
takescareofthehorses,isanoldman;andfatherisalwayslothtodisturbhim;
helooksatthecalves,andtheshoulders,heels,traces,chaff,andcornbeforethe
horsesgoa-field;hehasoftentowhip-cordtheplough-whips;heseesthehogs
fed;helooksintotheswill-tubs,andwriteshisordersforwhatiswantedfor
foodformanandbeast;yes,andforfuel,too.Andthen,ifhehasabitoftimeto
spare,hecomesinandreadswithme—butonlyEnglish;wekeepLatinforthe
evenings,thatwemayhavetimetoenjoyit;andthenhecallsinthemento
breakfast,andcutstheboys’breadandcheese;andseestheirwoodenbottles
filled,andsendsthemofftotheirwork;—andbythistimeitishalf-pastsix,and
wehaveourbreakfast.Thereisfather,’sheexclaimed,pointingouttomeaman
inhisshirt-sleeves,tallerbytheheadthantheothertwowithwhomhewas
working.Weonlysawhimthroughtheleavesoftheash-treesgrowinginthe
hedge,andIthoughtImustbeconfusingthefigures,ormistaken:thatmanstill
lookedlikeaverypowerfullabourer,andhadnoneoftheprecisedemurenessof
appearancewhichIhadalwaysimaginedwasthecharacteristicofaminister.It
wastheReverendEbenezerHolman,however.Hegaveusanodasweentered
thestubble-field;andIthinkhewouldhavecometomeetusbutthathewasin
themiddleofgivingsomedirectionstohismen.IcouldseethatPhilliswasbuilt


moreafterhistypethanhermother’s.He,likehisdaughter,waslargelymade,
andofafair,ruddycomplexion,whereasherswasbrilliantanddelicate.Hishair
hadbeenyelloworsandy,butnowwasgrizzled.Yethisgreyhairsbetokenedno
failureinstrength.Ineversawamorepowerfulman—deepchest,leanflanks,
well-plantedhead.Bythistimewewerenearlyuptohim;andheinterrupted
himselfandsteppedforwards;holdingouthishandtome,butaddressingPhillis.
‘Well,mylass,thisiscousinManning,Isuppose.Waitaminute,youngman,
andI’llputonmycoat,andgiveyouadecorousandformalwelcome.But—Ned
Hall,thereoughttobeawater-furrowacrossthisland:it’sanasty,stiff,clayey,
daubybitofground,andthouandImustfallto,comenextMonday—Ibegyour
pardon,cousinManning—andthere’soldJem’scottagewantsabitofthatch;
youcandothatjobtomorrowwhileIambusy.’Then,suddenlychangingthe
toneofhisdeepbassvoicetoanoddsuggestionofchapelsandpreachers,he
added.‘Now,Iwillgiveoutthepsalm,“Comeallharmonioustongues”,tobe
sungto“MountEphraim”tune.’
Heliftedhisspadeinhishand,andbegantobeattimewithit;thetwolabourers
seemedtoknowbothwordsandmusic,thoughIdidnot;andsodidPhillis:her
richvoicefollowedherfather’sashesetthetune;andthemencameinwith
moreuncertainty,butstillharmoniously.Phillislookedatmeonceortwicewith
alittlesurpriseatmysilence;butIdidnotknowthewords.Therewefivestood,
bareheaded,exceptingPhillis,inthetawnystubble-field,fromwhichallthe
shocksofcornhadnotyetbeencarried—adarkwoodononeside,wherethe
woodpigeonswerecooing;bluedistanceseenthroughtheash-treesontheother.
Somehow,IthinkthatifIhadknownthewords,andcouldhavesung,mythroat
wouldhavebeenchokedupbythefeelingoftheunaccustomedscene.
Thehymnwasended,andthemenhaddrawnoffbeforeIcouldstir.Isawthe
ministerbeginningtoputonhiscoat,andlookingatmewithfriendlyinspection
inhisgaze,beforeIcouldrousemyself.
‘Idaresayyourailwaygentlemendon’twindupthedaywithsingingapsalm
together,’saidhe;‘butitisnotabadpractice—notabadpractice.Wehavehad
itabitearlierto-dayforhospitality’ssake—that’sall.’
Ihadnothingparticulartosaytothis,thoughIwasthinkingagreatdeal.From
timetotimeIstolealookatmycompanion.Hiscoatwasblack,andsowashis
waistcoat;neckclothhehadnone,hisstrongfullthroatbeingbareabovethe


snow-whiteshirt.Heworedrab-colouredknee-breeches,greyworstedstockings
(IthoughtIknewthemaker),andstrong-nailedshoes.Hecarriedhishatinhis
hand,asifhelikedtofeelthecomingbreezeliftinghishair.Afterawhile,Isaw
thatthefathertookholdofthedaughter’shand,andso,theyholdingeachother,
wentalongtowardshome.Wehadtocrossalane.Initweretwolittlechildren,
onelyingproneonthegrassinapassionofcrying,theotherstandingstockstill,
withitsfingerinitsmouth,thelargetearsslowlyrollingdownitscheeksfor
sympathy.Thecauseoftheirdistresswasevident;therewasabrokenbrown
pitcher,andalittlepoolofspiltmilkontheroad.
‘Hollo!Hollo!What’sallthis?’saidtheminister.‘why,whathaveyoubeen
about,Tommy,’liftingthelittlepetticoatedlad,whowaslyingsobbing,withone
vigorousarm.Tommylookedathimwithsurpriseinhisroundeyes,butno
affright—theywereevidentlyoldacquaintances.
‘Mammy’sjug!’saidhe,atlast,beginningtocryafresh.
‘Well!andwillcryingpiecemammy’sjug,orpickupspiltmilk?Howdidyou
manageit,Tommy?’
‘He’(jerkinghisheadattheother)‘andmewasrunningraces.’
‘Tommysaidhecouldbeatme,’putintheother.
‘Now,Iwonderwhatwillmakeyoutwosillyladsmind,andnotrunracesagain
withapitcherofmilkbetweenyou,’saidtheminister,asifmusing.‘Imightflog
you,andsosavemammythetrouble;forIdaresayshe’lldoitifIdon’t.’The
freshburstofwhimperingfrombothshowedtheprobabilityofthis.
‘OrImighttakeyoutotheHopeFarm,andgiveyousomemoremilk;butthen
you’dberunningracesagain,andmymilkwouldfollowthattotheground,and
makeanotherwhitepool.Ithinkthefloggingwouldbebest—don’tyou?’
‘Wewouldneverrunracesnomore,’saidtheelderofthetwo.
‘Thenyou’dnotbeboys;you’dbeangels.’
‘No,weshouldn’t.’
‘Whynot?’


Theylookedintoeachother’seyesforananswertothispuzzlingquestion.At
length,onesaid,‘Angelsisdeadfolk.’
‘Come;we’llnotgettoodeepintotheology.Whatdoyouthinkofmylending
youatincanwithalidtocarrythemilkhomein?Thatwouldnotbreak,atany
rate;thoughIwouldnotanswerforthemilknotspillingifyouranraces.That’s
it!’
Hehaddroppedhisdaughter’shand,andnowheldouteachofhistothelittle
fellows.PhillisandIfollowed,andlistenedtotheprattlewhichtheminister’s
companionsnowpouredouttohim,andwhichhewasevidentlyenjoying.Ata
certainpoint,therewasasuddenburstofthetawny,ruddy-eveninglandscape.
TheministerturnedroundandquotedalineortwoofLatin.
‘It’swonderful,’saidhe,‘howexactlyVirgilhashittheenduringepithets,nearly
twothousandyearsago,andinItaly;andyethowitdescribestoaTwhatisnow
lyingbeforeusintheparishofHeathbridge,county–-,England.’
‘Idaresayitdoes,’saidI,allaglowwithshame,forIhadforgottenthelittle
LatinIeverknew.
TheministershiftedhiseyestoPhillis’sface;itmutelygavehimbackthe
sympatheticappreciationthatI,inmyignorance,couldnotbestow.
‘Oh!thisisworsethanthecatechism,’thoughtI;‘thatwasonlyremembering
words.’
‘Phillis,lass,thoumustgohomewiththeselads,andtelltheirmotherallabout
theraceandthemilk.Mammymustalwaysknowthetruth,’nowspeakingtothe
children.‘Andtellher,too,frommethatIhavegotthebestbirchrodinthe
parish;andthatifsheeverthinksherchildrenwantafloggingshemustbring
themtome,and,ifIthinktheydeserveit,I’llgiveitthembetterthanshecan.’
SoPhillisledthechildrentowardsthedairy,somewhereinthebackyard,andI
followedtheministerinthroughthe‘curate’intothehouse-place.‘Their
mother,’saidhe,‘isabitofavixen,andapttopunishherchildrenwithout
rhymeorreason.Itrytokeeptheparishrodaswellastheparishbull.’
Hesatedowninthethree-corneredchairbythefire-side,andlookedaroundthe
emptyroom.


‘Where’sthemissus?’saidhetohimself.Butshewastherehome—byalook,by
atouch,nothingmore—assoonassheinaminute;itwasherregularplanto
givehimhiswelcomecouldafterhisreturn,andhehadmissedhernow.
Regardlessofmypresence,hewentovertheday’sdoingstoher;andthen,
gettingup,hesaidhemustgoandmakehimself‘reverend’,andthatthenwe
wouldhaveacupofteaintheparlour.Theparlourwasalargeroomwithtwo
casementedwindowsontheothersideofthebroadflaggedpassageleadingfrom
therector-doortothewidestaircase,withitsshallow,polishedoakensteps,on
whichnocarpetwaseverlaid.Theparlour-floorwascoveredinthemiddlebya
home-madecarpetingofneedleworkandlist.Oneortwoquaintfamilypictures
oftheHolmanfamilyhungroundthewalls;thefire-grateandironsweremuch
ornamentedwithbrass;andonatableagainstthewallbetweenthewindows,a
greatbeau-potofflowerswasplaceduponthefoliovolumesofMatthew
Henry’sBible.Itwasacomplimenttometousethisroom,andItriedtobe
gratefulforit;butweneverhadourmealsthereafterthatfirstday,andIwas
gladofit;forthelargehouse-place,livingroom,dining-room,whicheveryou
mightliketocallit,wastwiceascomfortableandcheerful.Therewasarugin
frontofthegreatlargefire-place,andanovenbythegrate,andacrook,withthe
kettlehangingfromit,overthebrightwood-fire;everythingthatoughttobe
blackandPolishedinthatroomwasblackandPolished;andtheflags,and
window-curtains,andsuchthingsasweretobewhiteandclean,werejust
spotlessintheirpurity.Oppositetothefire-place,extendingthewholelengthof
theroom,wasanoakenshovel-board,withtherightinclineforaskilfulplayerto
sendtheweightsintotheprescribedspace.Therewerebasketsofwhitework
about,andasmallshelfofbookshungagainstthewall,booksusedforreading,
andnotforproppingupabeau-potofflowers.Itookdownoneortwoofthose
booksoncewhenIwasleftaloneinthehouse-placeonthefirstevening—Virgil,
Caesar,aGreekgrammar—oh,dear!ah,me!andPhillisHolman’snameineach
ofthem!Ishutthemup,andputthembackintheirplaces,andwalkedasfar
awayfromthebookshelfasIcould.Yes,andIgavemycousinPhillisawide
berth,asthoughshewassittingatherworkquietlyenough,andherhairwas
lookingmoregolden,herdarkeyelasheslonger,herroundpillarofathroat
whiterthanever.Wehaddonetea,andwehadreturnedintothehouse-placethat
theministermightsmokehispipewithoutfearofcontaminatingthedrab
damaskwindow-curtainsoftheparlour.Hehadmadehimself‘reverend’by
puttingononeofthevoluminouswhitemuslinneckclothsthatIhadseencousin
HolmanironingthatfirstvisitIhadpaidtotheHopeFarm,andbymakingone
ortwootherunimportantchangesinhisdress.Hesatelookingsteadilyatme,
butwhetherhesawmeornotIcannottell.AtthetimeIfanciedthathedid,and


wasgaugingmeinsomeunknownfashioninhissecretmind.Everynowand
thenhetookhispipeoutofhismouth,knockedouttheashes,andaskedme
somefreshquestion.Aslongastheserelatedtomyacquirementsormyreading,
Ishuffleduneasilyanddidnotknowwhattoanswer.By-and-byhegotroundto
themorepracticalsubjectofrailroads,andonthisIwasmoreathome.Ireally
hadtakenaninterestinmywork;norwouldMrHoldsworth,indeed,havekept
meinhisemploymentifIhadnotgivenmymindaswellasmytimetoit;andI
was,besides,fullofthedifficultieswhichbesetusjustthen,owingtoournot
beingabletofindasteadybottomontheHeathbridgemoss,overwhichwe
wishedtocarryourline.Inthemidstofallmyeagernessinspeakingaboutthis,
Icouldnothelpbeingstruckwiththeextremepertinenceofhisquestions.Ido
notmeanthathedidnotshowignoranceofmanyofthedetailsofengineering:
thatwastohavebeenexpected;butonthepremiseshehadgotholdof;he
thoughtclearlyandreasonedlogically.Phillis—solikehimasshewasbothin
bodyandmind—keptstoppingatherworkandlookingatme,tryingtofully
understandallthatIsaid.Ifeltshedid;andperhapsitmademetakemorepains
inusingclearexpressions,andarrangingmywords,thanIotherwiseshould.
‘SheshallseeIknowsomethingworthknowing,thoughitmayn’tbeherdeadand-gonelanguages,’thoughtI.
‘Isee,’saidtheminister,atlength.‘Iunderstanditall.You’veaclear,goodhead
ofyourown,mylad,—choosehowyoucamebyit.’
‘Frommyfather,’saidI,proudly.‘Haveyounotheardofhisdiscoveryofanew
methodofshunting?ItwasintheGazette.Itwaspatented.Ithoughteveryone
hadheardofManning’spatentwinch.’
‘Wedon’tknowwhoinventedthealphabet,’saidhe,halfsmiling,andtakingup
hispipe.
‘No,Idaresaynot,sir,’repliedI,halfoffended;‘that’ssolongago.’Puff—puff
—puff.
‘Butyourfathermustbeanotableman.Iheardofhimoncebefore;anditisnot
manyaonefiftymilesawaywhosefamereachesHeathbridge.’
‘Myfatherisanotableman,sir.Itisnotmethatsaysso;itisMrHoldsworth,
and—andeverybody.’


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