Chapter 61305821

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXI
Chapter TitleTHE REJECTED MILLER.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61305821
Full Date1899-12-23
Page Number10
Corrections0
Word Count2986
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleClarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)
Trove TitleFrom Convict to Countess
article text

- '"ALI. RIGHTS RESERVED.

FROM CONVICT

TO COUNTESS.

A NOVEL BY DR. GREY.

- Continued from Tuesday's issue.

CHAPTER XI.

THE REJECTED MILLER.

The Bun just touched thc occiden .na the' inhabitants of Budleigh dis persed from tho main street afte: .witnessing an exciting foot race bctwcei two young fellows of the village, on< some of tho choicer spirits adjournei to the spreading chestnut tree, whicl did not over the village smithy' stan< in this instance, but it stood over i largo rough table and sundry benchei on the village green, just in front o the Budleigh Arms. Blue-bandec mugs'were filled with ale, and thi elite of the village proceeded to disposi of their contents and the village newt with alternate impartiality.

George, the miller's apprentice, was incited by the gift of a free half-pim of ale to sing, and he warbled in hil best tenor voice-"A Cottage wei Thatched with Straw," and then con- versation flowed slowly but surely.

" Hey, miller ! " cried one of th« boon cómpanions. " Como over here man! Young Glover has just been and beat old Simpson over : flvo score yards."

. It was ti Budleigh weakness tb call everyone either young or old, withoul any regard to actual age.

" I wish you luck," said the miller, drinking out of tho proffered mug " I said/' ho continued, wiping his lips with the back bf his hand, " I said tc Jarge this morning-' Young Glover'll run rings round'old Simpson,'I says, Did I br did I not, Jarge ? "

''No doubt you did, miller," said thc tailor, taking up . the , inillor before George could reply. . " You're bettet nor a prophet on most things as hap- pens hore, but on marriages you're nc great shakes, miller.','

This invidious remark was calculated to excito unchristian 'feeling. It ex- pressed à sense of insecurity in thc miller's veracity and acumen, and also contained a,reference to his ill success with tho fair Julia, dating from ono evening when the miller sought his home in a somewhat moist condi- tion. A sullen fire in tho miller's best oyo showed that he folt the taunt.

"Whore is-Mr. Snip?" he asked, apparently not having heard the re- mark or seon tho speaker.

"'J3'B hore," said a voice.

? "'li's hero?" inquired tho miller. " I can't see him. Oh, you're there, little mani I hopo I see you'well ? '.'

After this. elaborate and crushing pantomime the miller ordered a half pint and made himself comfortable

Byway of restoring tho somewhat disturbed harmony?' it was proposed that George should sing again, but ho flatly refused unless someone made him a present of another half-pint.. As no ono rose to tho bait'so delicately put forth, George relapsed into melancholy, and moodily traced out his nain o upon the table with" a finger dipped hi : spilt,

beer. ?. " : ' :-r::

Tho tailor continued to breathe hard and snort at intervals. He was a very small man, but gifted with a bass.voico of abnormal power, which contrasted strongly with his physical sizo.

" Don't you think Snip looks cross? " said George,' arousing himself with a groat effort.

-" It don't be no great matter," said tho miller, benevolently, .' taking on himself to reply to the remark of his Apprentice. " I says to Dobbin yes- terday, I says-r'Don't you tako no notico of - what Snip says, 'cause ho don't mean, to hurt- a' body.' ' Why,' ho ups and says, 'do you-say'that, miller ? ' ? . 'Causo he can't hurt ye,' I says." .. ? ?. . .

" Jargo,"' : said tho . tailor, with murder in his oyo and blood in his lowest notes, "Jnrge, I'm not cross. I novcr felt more agreeablo to this company in my life, lt's tho miller's cyo you're looking at, my Ind." '

"I thank God," said the miller, suddenly but piously, " I can see ns straight as any misfortunuto under- sized little wretch anywheres. And - I says what is moro ; I says if any little manikin ups and says I'm goggle eyed, -" ? '

¿"I want to ask, miller," said tho tailor, speaking with difficulty, " if you're looking to mo ?" rN

" I am looking to yo," said the miller, rising to his feet. "And I says to yo, I says, I'm full up of. your saree,"full to Dustin', I says; and if you gives I two words more, dang mo if I don't carry,: your little carcase down and throw'ye intil my, dam, just like a ruster, I says. And I; says, Snip, what's moro, I says,, if youe soul's no bigger nor your body, thr Lord'll have hard work to find it when you're drownded, I says; so put that in your pipe and : smoke it."

There was much talking and discus- sion, as to who was to blame for disturbing the good fellowship. Finally matters were patched up, and the miller and tho tailor drank to each other's success and welfare, and shook hands amidst tho plaudits bf tho

company.

- Tue miller fooling that he wns in form, ns evidenced by his getting tho best of tho tailor, felt impelled "by his victory to advance to George the price of half a pint, such advance to bo deducted from his pocket money, and the time-honored strain, " To bo a Farmer's Boy,'1 in different keys, floated' away in tho gloaming. In tho middlo of tho second verso the .miller was observed ítp riso with a hnng-dog air and sneak away. ,: ,

' " Never mind him,", said tho singer, stopping at tho chorus, "he's gone down tho street arter Julia ; she went down nigh three minutes back. Tackle :.it again lads !

" To reap and to mow,

; To plough and to sow,

V.And to bo a forme'rs's boy."

A great thumping of empty mugs on thc tnblo followed, nntl some oxqnisito Bailies ? of .?wit emanated re- garding the absent miller and his

chancos of success. The tailor recovered

his lost ground, and greatly dis- tinguished' himself ns a pointed and delicate joker, as the hoarse laughter

testified when it rolled out on tho

sweet evening air.

Meanwhile the miller caught up

Julia.

" I suppose that's you, miller ? " said the Indy, without turning her head.

" Yes, it's I," returned the., miller, trying to mako his voice solemn and reproachful.; "I said last week to Jargo, ? ' It's a shame a handsome woman like Julia should walk down the village alone,'I says. Jargo ups

Julia turned on him sharply. "And I ups, miller, and I says it's no concern of yours. If I want a lad I cnn'get him, but I don't ¡ so you can go home, miller, at once." ?

'iYou don't mean it, Julin, surely," said-the crest-fallen miller,'still, keep- ing up with her swift Svalk." "Don't go for to say that, I says to ye ; don't Julia, my lass." '

" I'm not your lass, and never shall be, miller."

" But ye gave I hopes, Julia j don't go for to. say yo didn't." .

Julia faced him at tho castle gate. ". I did not ; I only answered you civilly. Did you want mo to snap your head off?" . _

" You'vo got a smooth tongue, Julia. I says to'Jarge you'd coax the eye out

of a man's kead. But that's neither

hero nor theroj I didn't follow, ye to talk about hyg'ones,-but¡I want to cómo courting yo, Julio. . And there's tho

mill and tho dam-"

" I wish you and the mill wore both in the dam together," said Julia, impatiently. " Why can't. you take no for an "answer ?If you must know then, I have' promised Jim Brown, and1; I'm not going to take up with the likes of you." . .

"Tho likes of I," said the" miller,

furiously. " If I got my hands on Jim; Brown, you'd seo what you'd see." Then boiling over with jealousy, " I'm a man .of proputty l am ; not running up and down and sticking my head under other people's roofs. ' I've got ono of my own, 1 have. If T had yo at tho dam this" minit, I'd push ye in and keep yo in until yo'd promised to marry I. . I would ; just to:spito Jim Brown. I'd like to seo yo when I. dragged ye out, dripping wot, mid i with your fine clothes sticking to yo i like a mawkin, I would."

-"Thank you, miller;" said Julin, contemptuously, " I am much obliged. This is tho. last time I-am going to speak to you. Nover you ask mo to keep company with you again.' I'am not for you, but.for your bettorfl. And let mo toll you what you aro for the Inst time, miller," closing the gato botwocn them, ".you aro a hog, miller; yes,' that's what you are. " And I shall make Jim Brown throw you''into tho dom again, when : he comes home." She ' Twited; tho gate inside. . ". And now', miller,"-hore she mimicked his voice-" what I says to you is. this, I says. . Keep out of Jim's way or he'll throw you in, sure as eggs is eggs, I' says." -And the maddened, miller heard her scornful laugh as she wont up the carriage drive. ? " Sure as eggs is eggs, millor, I says. Ha, ha, ha !

Julia passed into tho servants', hall. Dinner, had been served and finished, and tho domestics wore having tea. Slio passed up and took her phico on the butler's left hand, opposite- the housc-keoper.

. " You aro late, Miss Julia," said Mr.

Mullens. '

"It was tho miller, who would,not let me go," said Julia, tossing her head. "Mon aro so stupid they cdn never seo when they aro not'wanted."

" But they can't see sometimes when they, are wanted," said tho cook, sagely. .', .?? ; . ~: ?

"I want some .'tea, please,", ? said Julia.,' >, .-, . ?>. ?

" What can I assist you to," inquired Mullens, pointing . to tho dish beforo him with the carving knife.

?.' Thank you, I will," said the Tildy's

maid.

" But, cook, men can bo mndo to seo when they can't seo of themselves," said a housemaid, resuming the theme.

." Who cnn make them 'i " said the

cook, pouring out ten.''.? . ' . -

"Julia can," said tho,girlj- with a mischiovious glauco round tho table.

"How do you'know that?," said j Mullens,' in . an insinuating voice

" Tell mo, Mary."

" Well, said Mary, 1 was pnssing through the hall-bo,- quiet kicking mo ; 1 will tell, Julia-when I saw Brown bringing tho Earl's whip and leggings to tho bannisters,.-whcir.wlio should como tripping down but this Julia. Three steps from tho bottom she screamed, which mndo Brown look up ; then she foll down the stairs right

into his nrms." '

" I did not," said Julia.

." You did, and Jim carried you into your pantry, Mr. -Mullens, and I heard a 'loud smack nud Julia's voice

?saying : ' I will just box your ears, for tluxt.'v'

"I did uot," said Julia. '

" You did ; und uow. tho millor is so stupid he doesn't know lio isn't wanted. Put this nnd that together, and what does it spell ? "

" I know;," said tho poet footman, admired for his light brown whiskers nnd symmetrical calves. "The first syllable is tho diminution of a man's name, the second is a grain grow« in Russin, and tho Inst may bo repre- sented by five shillings."

"Pooh!" said Julia, "tho millor, stupid ns he is, could guess that. It is Mntt-rye-money. Keigho ! Woll, if I do got engaged, I hopo I shall have bet-tor luck than Miss Almn, poor girl."

" Toll us all nbout it, Julia, wo won't tell ; " and nil tho h"ads bent cagorly forward over tho tnl/'c;.

" I dare not," suki Julia.

" Oh, Miss ,Tuli.>," tsuid tho poet

footman, clasping his hands and fixing his largo rather watery blue eyes on the maid. " I implore you, help me everyone to beseech her," indicating by a wave of his arm tho rest. " We unite in imploring you to relieve this suspense. Any light on this terrible darkness renders lifo a little less unsupportable." *

.-Thomas, the poet, was known to havo cherished a sacred and hopeless passion for tho governess. Ho had

never confessed it. .Wild horses would not have torn it from him; but the housemaids knew well that he suffered from a blighted heart, and he hinted darkly at times that disparity of posi- tion and not of. soul had condemned

him to life-long torture. It was only fairt o him to say that for a month after the arrest of the governess he

had refused his victuals until his calves

had visibly shrunk, and Mr. Mullens had requested the honor of ari interview with him in the butler's pantry, from which apartment, he had rushed forth with red eyes, and plunged deliriously . into his own room. From that time he began to mend, and it was from the date of that interview that he referred to Mr. Mullens as a kindred soul.

:It was in response to his broken ejaculations, backed up by'the united influence of the servants' hall, that Julia consented, to explain, ' after first exacting a promise of secrecy from

each ono.

" Mind, Iain not going' to toll any- thing but what I have seen. Thomas,' do you remember taking a letter up to tho -. school-room about à fortnight before the Earl wontaway?" .

"Yes, yes, Miss Julia 1" , -': ?'>'>?;' ?':?' "Well, I was going past the open door, and noticed that as tho governess held tho lotter, : her hands , shook, and her faco changod color ' from. red '. to palo.',' (Julia's audience hung on her lips)¡ ".I watched her go down to tho library. ? Well, , what do you. think I saw, ? . Why, tho Earl carno up to her in the hall, and she. took , his arm, and he led her into .the Countess like that." (Low .murmurs J of wonder from , the audierioo, arid- ejaculations from, all sides). "Tho Earl, tho ? Countess ;áiul the governess were shut up there over . an hour. Thon tho Countess came out,

leaving the othors still shut up-I don't know how long, for tho Countess was takon ill on getting to hor room,

and I had to attend her."

.. " Are you Büro, Jxtlin, of, what you ?.say ? " ?? , ... . :{.:\

"I saw it with my own eyes.".

" Don't stop," said . Thomas, with his eyes bulging in his hoad..

. ." Nor was ' that all. Next morning, instead of going into, school, . Miss Alma, got a book, and walked down the park. I got Jim Brown^ to loud mo tho perspective glass that hangs in tho Earl's room, and i followed Miss Ahna with it, till I .Baw hor sit down under the old beech tree beside a mari.' It Was tho Earl."

. " What more did you seo ? " ' said the poet, with his head laid upon tho table for support. - i

" Nothing," said Julia,sharply, "timt I am going to tell. Do you think that it was for your edification that I spied' upon the Earl and his sweetheart?. Good Heavens! V she said," I did not mean to Bay it. It slipped out."

. It was enough. Tho poot foll limp with a doop groan, and it required tho

united assistance of the housomaids to resnsitato him.

"Was that all?" said Mullens, glancing at the recumbout poet.

.'.M'hat was all, oxcopt that tho Earl took hor upon his arm and 1 od her into tho Countess os at tho . first. Mr. Mullens, I bolievo there has boen some dreadful wickedness practiced on Miss Ahna. I can soo'her face now, when Bho sprung before tho policeman with hor oyes blazing like diamonds, and her voice rang as sho cried to the. Countess : ' You can say whether I am a thief or not.' I felt she wu» innocent, poor dear." And Julia's handkerchief

camo'out. .

" This is bitter," said tho poet, white faced, and-, feebly waving' his arm, " to be compelled! to live in the house of wickedness ; to bo compelled by an evil fortune to eat food "-hore he indicated his plate-"which chokes mb. . I feel, we all feel, undying grati . tudo to Miss Julia. She has lifted the ? veil. Wo felt it ! We knew it ! : Eye has answered eye. Shall wickedness ig high places go unpunished ?. ? ? Shall boauty and innocence go ruined, doomed and-crushed; blasted - by the perjury, tyranny and ? crime of the noble and

tho rich? Shall--"

." Sit down, Thomas, ' and all you people liston to . me," said the butler, hammering on the table to draw the round eyes of the'servants from the inspired poet to himself.. " This talk in the servants' hall' has no legal worth; it will redress no wrong. It is also too high a mattor for us to deal j with. Our broad and our wages come

frorn tho Budloigh family. We cannot

be informers or traitors to those who

employ us. . Tho family must settle their own business. I shall not allow this matter to be brought up in'.this hall again."