« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Adam and Evr.
CHAPTER XIII. THE THE news from Jerrem turned out nothing more than a vague
report that he had been seen at Jersey, waiting, it was said, to return by a vessel which traded to Weymouth. The man who brought the news belonged to the Stamp and Go, which had just. arrived, and word had been sent to Joan by Ezekiel Johns, her captain, that she was not to expect Uncle Zebedee till she saw him, as they intended waiting in the chops of the Channel for an East Indiaman, which they had learnt from the Plymouth pilots was already overdue.
This prolonged absence of the men would afford a good opportunity for accepting the numerous invitations which Eve's arrival had occasioned; and more than a week passed away, during which the two girls kept up a constant round of junketings and tea-drinkings, and as several of these outings were at a little distance from home, Eve soon became quite familiar with the neighbourhood, and talked glibly of Pelynt, Landaviddy, Lizzen, and many other places, the names of which, but a short time before, had sounded unintelligible and strange to her ears. Fortunately for her preconceived ideas as to the right way of spending Sunday, an invitation had come from Joan's mother, Mrs. Tucker, asking them to spend that day at the mill; and though Joan felt most reluctant to undergo such a severe penance, not seeing her way to a refusal, she was forced to accept.
The certainty that they would have to go to chapel in the evening was a sufficient excuse in Joan's mind for not going there in the morning; and she overruled Eve's proposal of walking to Lansallos Church by saying they wouldn't be back in time for dinner, besides which strongest of arguments in Joan's eyes—there wouldn't be nobody there to see; and therefore Eve was beguiled into believing the best thing they could do would be, after having their breakfast and
setting all straight, to walk down to the quay, so as to draw breath before being stuffed up with “they mill lot," as Joan very irreverently styled the friends to whom on Sundays Mrs. Tucker usually offered her hospitality
“I puts all I got 'pon my back whenever I goes to chapel,” said Joan, in explanation of the various adornments with which she was loading her attractive little person. “I loves to see 'em stare and then give a gashly look at mother;" and she turned up her bright dark eyes in imitation of these scandalised sympathisers.
“But what does your mother do?” said Eve, half inclined (by the lack of assurance she knew she should feel in accompanying Joan) to sympathise with Mrs. Tucker.
“Why, enjoys it, to be sure! Don't mother hang down her head so much as to say, 'See what a trial I's got, and look how I bears it!'”
“Nonsense ! ” laughed Eve; “I daresay she's very proud of you all the time. I know,” she added checking her laugh with a sigh, “my dear mother was of me; she never thought there was anybody looked like me.
Waal, she was pretty right there,” said Joan ; " and if you'd only smarten yourself up with a bit o' colour, you'd look a right-down beauty; iss, that you would! I do hope mother won't die ; if ’tis only for that I should hate to wear nothin' but a black gown.'
"Oh no, you wouldn't,” said Eve, gravely. “I used to think the same; but now I wouldn't change it for the richest gown you could give me.”
Joan shook her head.
“No, I hates black,” she persisted ; adding, as she took a more critical survey of Eve, “ Adam will have it you'm too pale. but I tell un, no such thing; 'tis only the black that makes 'ee look so."
“Adam's very kind !” said Eve, piqued at this candour. “Isn't there anything else about me that he can find fault with ?”
“Oh, you mustn't take no notice o' he!” replied Joan; “he's always contrary 'bout maidens' looks, trying to pick 'em to pieces, and find all the faults he can with 'em. I don't b'lieve he can help it. I b'lieve some is born to see crossways."
And in her mind Joan thought Adam one of these, for to her surprise he had pooh-poohed her admiration of Eve, and contended against the great claim to good looks which Joan put in for her.
“For all he may say, I'd be willin' to change with her, though,” thought Joan, as, turning from the glass, her eyes fell on Eve, already arrayed in her black hat and grey duffle cloak; and this, after the reflection which Joan had just had of her bright little self, was certainly no small compliment--a compliment which was not paid to
Eve by many of the girls with whom, in their walk to the quay and then to Chapel Rock, they chanced to meet; for Joan was a general favourite, and her style of dress, according to Polperro tastes, was perfection-everything of the best, and plenty of it. So, as the little figure pattered down the street, looking like some brightplumaged bird, her vanity was tickled by, “Why, where be you
off to, Joan ? Well, you'm dressed out, and no mistake!” “Here, I say, Joan, step in and let's have a look at 'ee! Awh, you be lookin' smart, for sure!” But Joan was deaf to all entreaties; she walked on through the street and past the houses, which, except that they were more than usually filled with idle loungers, presented none of the appearance usually conspicuous on Sundays, neither did any air of calm quiet rest upon the place or people ; on the contrary, they seemed unusually noisy and uproarious; the same bustle pervaded the quay, the same smell of fish-cleaning offended the nose; and though Eve could not point to any one, and say they were actually working, yet she saw no reason to suppose they had by any means laid aside their everyday vocations.
By the rock they found the men grouped together, discussing the probability of a change of weather, the signs of the fish rising, and the manoeuvres of Old Boney; the youngsters were indulging in rough practical jokes and skylarking, until Joan and Eve making their
appearance, their attention was at once directed towards them. But, try as they might, Joan was equal to their banter or their compliments, both of which she managed to pay back, much to her own satisfaction and their amusement; till at last, induced by Eve's showing that they should be late for dinner, she consented to take her departure; and, forbidding her admirers to come farther than the steps, she there bade them adieu, and left them to decide among themselves that Joan Hocken was a sweet and purty dear, and worth twenty o' that stuck-up London consarn, with her pasty face, and mim ways.
“I reckon we'd best step out a bit,” said Joan, now fully alive to the danger of keeping the dinner waiting. “ What a bother 'tis havin' to toil all the ways to Crumplehorne! I'd sooner any day than Sunday at mother's."
“I don't know,” said Eve; “ I'm rather glad we're going there. I've been used, you know, to spend my Sundays very quietly-to church or chapel and back, morning and evening.”
“Lors !” exclaimed Joan, “there was a good deal o' the same thing in that, wasn't there? Didn't 'ee get tired of it at all, Eve?"
“No;" then, remembering how often she had grown weary over the dull monotony of the day, whose perfect rest was irksome to her
vigorous youth, she added, “or if I did, I'd give a good deal if they'd but come back again now, Joan.”
“Poor dear!” said Joan, touched by the tearful voice; " but never mind, next Sunday us'll go to church if you cares for it—to Talland Church—and come home by the cliff all alongside by the sea : you'll like that, won't 'ee?"
Eve squeezed the hand which Joan put into hers, and after a little silence she said : “But don't think that I'm not happy here, Joan.
I feel so different that I can hardly tell myself for the same. I seem to be so at home here, so as not to care for anybody but those I've got round me.” “Awh, come, that ain't fair," said Joan.
• When from William I parted,
I vowed I'd keep true.' Oh lors !” she exclaimed, stifling her voice. "I forgot 'twas Sunday, and that we're close to mill, where "--and she folded her hands and cast down her eyes with a prim look of propriety
66 • Maidens should be mild and meek,
Swift to hear and slow to speak.' After which, flinging open the gate, she gave Eve a sudden push which sent her forward with a most undignified bounce into the presence of Mrs. Tucker, who was standing at the door ready to receive them.
“Oh, here you be then,” said Mrs. Tucker, with, as Eve thought, a shade of disappointment in her voice. “I didn't expect 'ee yet awhiles; I was on the look-out for Mr. Blamey and Susannah. I never expects Joan to be in time; I always says t'wouldn't be Joan if folks wasn't kep' waitin' while dinner's spoilin'."
" And it ain't Joan now, mother,” said her daughter, promptly. “You've got to thank Eve for seein' me. I shouldn't ha' hove in sight for another half-hour to come if ’t hadn't bin for she.”
“Well, one thing is, if I'd took the trouble to walk so far as the corner, I should ha' know'd you was comin'," retorted Mrs. Tucker. “ I'm bound to say nobody who wasn't denied the blessin' o' eyesight but must see you, if 'twas a mile away, Joan. I can't think,” she added, taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by following the girls into the house to give their dress a critical survey, “why, if you'm so wrapped up in Eve as you pretends to be, you don't take what she wears for a pattern."
“Why how can I do that, and you livin' all the whiles ? ” said Joan, with an air of injured innocence. “You ain't wantin' to see me in mournin' for 'ee 'fore you'm dead, he 'ee?"