Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter IV.: CLERICAL RECREATIONS. - Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside)
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Chapter IV.: CLERICAL RECREATIONS. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside) 
Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside) (London: Charles Fox, 1834).
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James was indefatigable in his exertions to get his sister suited with a horse. He was at the Paddock every day for a fortnight; and he would not be satisfied without Fanny’s going there too, to try one and another horse in the fields behind the stables. Sometimes the girls came out, curtseying to the young lady, and giving an opinion when asked. Fanny delighted her brother by a spontaneous exclamation about their beauty, the first time she saw them: but she presently vexed him by being extremely amused at their perfect likeness. If it had not been that a young greyhound was for ever in attendance upon one, Fanny could not have pretended to distinguish them. James told her she had no eyes.
“They are all stupid alike,” muttered he. “That greyhound has more sense than any of them. It is only three days since I gave him to her, and he never mistakes Anne for her, in the dusk or in the daylight. To talk of their eyes being alike! as if colour was everything in eyes! Anne’s are pretty enough; but they never had such a light in them as Sarah’s. And then the blush—I thought Fanny had been fond enough of her garden to know the difference between a folded convolvulus (which is a graceful thing enough in its way) and one that is glowing in dew when the sun has just expanded it.”
A very short dialogue showed Fanny which it was that James preferred. It would not have been necessary, if she had known how Sarah came by the greyhound.
“What a pretty creature Anne is!” observed Fanny, when, with a smile, Anne opened the gate, for her horse to pass into the field.
“Beautiful,” cried James, with enthusiasm. “O, she is a beautiful creature!”
“You think her the prettiest,—you like her the best of the two?”
“No,” said he, with sudden quietness; “I admire Sarah the most.”
This made Fanny turn her head to take another look; but it was Anne who gazed after them. Sarah was busy with her dog Fido.
James was not wrong in his observations on eyes. A new light had fixed itself in Sarah’s; and if he did not perceive something of the same kind in Anne’s, it was perhaps owing to the light being often troubled, and sometimes dimmed. The serenity of both was gone. Sarah did not wish it back again. Anne did; every hour between rising and rest.
They had ceased to move together,—unavoidably, when one had a dog and the other had not,—but neither was yet awake to the fact that they no longer thought and felt alike. One morning they sat, like the reflection of each other, on either side of a work-table: each making herself a frill of the same material; each with her footstool: and that the left foot of the one, and the right of the other was advanced, only made the resemblance more complete. The difference was that Anne attended to her work, while Sarah peered anxiously through the glass door which communicated with the office, where her father might be seen reading a letter. After a while, Anne reared her chin to try on the frill.
“Let me see how yours looks,” said she. “Sarah! here is mine finished; and yours is not done!”
Sarah began to ply her needle, uneasy at being left behind. Anne amused herself with stroking and coaxing the greyhound. She did not think of beginning any other employment till Sarah should be ready.
“I wonder why Mr. Cranston did not give me a greyhound!” observed Anne.
“I dare say my father will,” replied Sarah.
“But I had rather Mr. Cranston had. I am afraid,—I am pretty sure, Mr. Cranston does not like me.”
“O yes, he does.”
“How do you know? Did he tell you so?—Why did not he tell me? He never told me that he liked you.”
A deep blush spread itself over Sarah’s cheeks.
“I never saw anybody like Mr. Cranston,” pursued Anne. “None of the gentlemen that have passed through A— have been the least like him.”
“O, no: nor ever will.”
“His manner is so—I don’t know what. And his voice—”
“You may know it among a hundred;—as far off as you can hear it.”
“It goes through one’s heart.—How dull the day is now when he does not come!”
“But he does come every day.”
“No: not last Wednesday.”
“O yes! he did. But he did not stay very long: and you were in the field with George, looking after the foal. He has never once missed a day yet.”
Anne’s face was crimson while she asked why she had not seen him; why she had not been told: why—she stopped because she could not go on, and Sarah had nothing more to say than that she did not see that there was any particular occasion for telling.
“Where did he come?” demanded Anne. “Was he in this room, or in the paddock, or where?”
“I had my bonnet on, just coming to you in the field,” replied Sarah:—“my bonnet was on; and so I went with him;—he wanted to show me something in the park.”
“Why did not you call me? I could have come in a moment.”
Sarah did not raise her eyes while she said in a low voice that Mr. Cranston did not wish it. She was not very much taken by surprise when she saw Anne, an instant after, in a passion of tears. Her own were streaming immediately, while she hoped Anne was not very angry with her. Indeed she could not help it.—Whatever might be the mixture of feelings which embittered Anne’s tears, she spoke only of her sister’s reserve. Her reproaches were very grievous, till Sarah’s patient sorrow softened her in spite of herself. She had had no comfort of her life, for some time past, she declared. There was always something to expect and be afraid of. She could not help wishing Mr. Cranston to come, and yet she was often glad when he went away. He never came but something disagreeable passed. She did not think he would have been so careful to give her back her thimble, that he had got from the turnpike-house. It had prevented her daring to give him anything, for fear he should refuse it; and yet he had seemed to be very much pleased with the purse Sarah had netted for him. She supposed Sarah had found out that she had felt mortified often lately; for nobody could help seeing that Sarah had taken a great deal upon her lately;—more than anybody could have expected that had always known them.
Sarah tried to speak calmly while she answered that she had never intended to take more upon her than she should. She could truly say she had been more sorry for Anne than she had ever been for any one in her life. She had hoped, every time that Miss Cranston came, that either the eldest Mr. Cranston or Mr. Wallace would come with her, instead of the one that did come:—she was so certain that either of them must like Anne quite as well as the one that did come liked her.
Anne saw that all was over. She declared she did not want to be liked by anybody, sent the dog away from her knee with a rebuke, and left the room.
It was not long before Sarah was again by her side; not to comfort or condole, but to consult with her. She had been so completely thrown out by the failure of what she meant for sympathy, just now, that she did not venture to touch upon any matter of feeling with Anne. She had, in ten minutes, grown almost as much afraid of her as of a stranger: but she felt herself less able than ever to act without Anne’s opinion.
“Do you know, Anne, I do believe there is going to be an expedition to-night or to-morrow night!”
“I dare say there is. I saw my father reading a letter from London; and he sent George out to A—, directly after. Why should not there be an expedition, as there has been often before?”
“It is so different now from what it was before, when the family were not here!”
“Yes: our party will not have all their own way any longer. I suppose the woodmen must take some notice, now; and Mr. Morse has grown violent against the poachers, they say, since there has been some use in keeping up the game, as he says. Alick Morse says his father has as good a mind to dodge a poacher now as a stoat has to dodge a hare.”
“That is a bright thing for Alick Morse to say. But I am afraid of their coming to a fight, Anne.”
“O, I’m not afraid of what would come of a fight. Our party is too strong to take any harm; and they will do none to Alick and the other woodman; and Mr. Morse won’t run himself into danger against the party.”
“I was not thinking of the Morses,” replied Sarah, wondering at her sister’s dulness. “If the Mr. Cranstons mean to do what they say—”
“Ah! to be sure,” cried Anne. “They can’t know what a party they would have to come out against.”
“So, let us go and tell them,” said Sarah, briskly.
Anne stared in astonishment. To go and inform against their family and their neighbours; to provide for the discomfiture of their own party; to prevent their father from executing the orders which brought him in as much as his trade in horses;—to do this confounded all Anne’s notions of right and wrong. Sarah must be out of her mind to think of such a thing. The more vehement she was in saying this, the more inclined Sarah was to go and entreat the family not to enter the woods at night, whatever might be going on there. If she could prevail,—(and if she saw James, she had no doubt of prevailing,)—all danger to both parties might be avoided. If Anne would not accompany her, she thought she should go alone.
“You shall not,” said Anne. “If you think of such a thing, I will run and tell my father.”
“No, you will not,” said Sarah, with quivering lips. “We never told my father of one another in our lives.”
“You never thought of doing such a thing as this in your life. I shall make haste and tell him.”
They did not know that their father had just gone out. The moment Anne had turned her back, Sarah seized her bonnet,—(her field bonnet and gloves, for there was no time to run up for those in which she would have wished to appear at Fellbrow,)—and was gone from under the archway before any one noticed her escape, except Fido, against whom, in her hurry, she had shut the door, but who found his way to his mistress through an open window.
While she was breathlessly crossing a corner of the park, she fell in with Alick Morse, who sheepishly smiled and pulled off his hat.
“O, Alick, I am glad I met you. Can you tell me where the gentlemen are? Are they abroad to-day?”
Alick pointed towards the mansion, as much as to say that they were there. His smile had vanished: for if she was going up there, among the gentry, he could not walk with her, as he was about to offer to do.
“How is your father, as relates to the game?”
“Very cross, Miss Sarah. But now that I catch you alone, by a chance,—for I never had the chance before,—I want to say—”
“But I want to hear about the game and your father.”
“Well, the long and short is, I think he gets no rest for the game, night nor day. The gentlemen,—the two younger,—are after his own heart; for they have him up early every fine morning, after some sport or other; and he likes, as he says, making up for all the years he has been idle. But, dear me! ’tis at night he makes up most for all the sleep he had all those years. There’s not a bough can rustle, nor a gust moan, but he is up, and out to watch.”
“And there has been no cause, lately.—You look sly, as if you thought there soon would be.”
“Perhaps you know as much about it as I, Miss Sarah, and perhaps more. But there is no use in disturbing my father’s mind, if you should chance to meet him. Well now, if there be not—Dear me, I suppose I must go! Who would have thought of any gentry sitting reading out of doors to-day!”
“Yes: it is Mr. Cranston and Miss Cranston. You must go, Alick.”
Alick withdrew within the verge of the wood, and Sarah and Fido advanced to the bench where Richard and Fanny were sitting in the late autumnal sunshine, each with a book, and neither of them reading.—Sarah said that she came to speak to Mr. Cranston, the clergyman; but if he was not at home, she would speak now what she meant to say. Richard was always afraid of the propounding of any matter of business; and was therefore as willing to help her to an interview with James as Fanny was, because she perceived that James was the one whom Sarah wished to see. James had just gone towards the stables, and was coming directly in his gig to take up his sister, whom he was going to drive over to his living. If Sarah went straight from hence towards the stables, she could not miss him.
She did not miss him. He was approaching in his gig; and in another minute, notwithstanding an abundance of protestations, blushes and tremors, Sarah filled Miss Cranston’s place in the vehicle, and a circuitous road was found to the park gates, by which another sight of the reading party was avoided. James never used any ceremony with his sister; he declared she had a sort of pride in not keeping her appointments; so she was fair game. Ten to one, too, that she preferred dawdling with Richard till dinner-time; and Sarah could say what she wanted much better in the gig; and, besides, James had always wished to show her the house he was building, and to see how she liked it; and there could not be a better opportunity than now.
When Sarah returned, hoping, but not assured, that James would leave the poachers to their own devices, her sister asked her no questions as to where she had been all this long time. Anne had also repented, before her father appeared again in the office, of her resolution to inform against her sister. There was peace between them, and they were at liberty to communicate their speculations upon the expedition which they were now certain was intended for to-night. There was more than usual preparation made, as soon as it grew dusk, in stocking the office with bottles and cans, with stools, pipes and tobacco, and sawdust, strewn lest any feet should bring in marks of blood—the blood of man, or of beast or fowl. The girls were sent up to bed earlier than usual. They found it extremely vexatious that their chamber looked towards the street, so that they could not see the poachers drop in through the Paddock. Mr. Taplin, the assessor, called between nine and ten—as they supposed, at a very inconvenient time; and they could imagine how vexed their father must be at his staying so long. He certainly did not go away before they gave over watching for his departure.
Sarah little knew her lover yet if she really confided in his keeping at home when he knew that poachers were abroad. All the evening he was rousing, or trying to rouse, his brother to the due degree of indignation at being despoiled of his property in so provoking a way. He paid as much for every family of pheasants as would bring up ten broods of fowls. Large sums were stopped off his rents for damage done by his hares. His deer were kept within bounds at a great expense. He paid duty for gamekeepers, horses, and dogs used in his sports; and yet the game, for which all this cost was incurred, was to be taken by a set of wretches who would be beneath notice but for their power of doing mischief. If they were stout young men, who came for the frolic of the thing, he should not be so angry; but, as far as he could learn—
Nobody could imagine where and how James managed to learn who and what the poachers were.
That did not matter; he had good authority for what he said,—that one boy, at least, was sent out to set snares—sent out by himself, or with only his father,—not amidst any bustle and frolic, but coolly, and as the agent of a theft. Then, of those who went out at night, some enjoyed the sport; but the greater number joined to get drink and money for their services as guard. The shoemaker, and the chimney-sweeper, and the constable—
Yes. The constable went out to break heads, if need were, in defiance of the law. These men were considered too clumsy to be employed in taking the game: but they could carry bludgeons, for the consideration of a glass of gin, and a dividend from the poulterers; through what hands delivered, his brother might be surprised, some day, to learn.
Richard was willing to wait for that day. As long as they let him alone, they were welcome to anything that was in the park. If they left him deer enough to please his eye as he sat under the trees, and birds enough for his brothers’ sports, his purposes were answered. He was glad they could amuse themselves with his property while he was asleep. This last word brought on him an appeal under the head of morals. Poachers were always utterly corrupted, if their practices were long unchecked; like most people (unless the members of the House of Commons might be excepted) whose work is done at night instead of in the day. Instead of the shoemaker taking up his awl, or the chimney-sweeper his sack, with the spirit that the morning naturally brings with it, these creatures would stagger home at dawn, and be thrown into bed for the day, while their wives must invent lies which their children are to tell, in excuse for their not being seen at their work. Richard could not deny that such an order of affairs was a bad one; but did not see how his arm could arrest a host of poachers; and he could not possibly be answerable for the morals of the shoemakers and constables of A—.
As nothing more was to be made of Richard, his brothers left him, and prepared for a long and wary walk. Mrs. Day turned pale, and Fanny was very grave when the bustle of assembling their home forces began in the hall; when strips of something white were called for to be put round the hats, to distinguish friends from enemies; when pistols gleamed; and when deep voices from the court pronounced it a sharp, starlight night.
“Who is that tall man, James?” whispered Fanny, who was looking on from the stairs. “The one on the steps, I mean.”
“Who are you?” asked James, going up to the person.
It was Richard. Of course, he did not mean to stay behind, if his brothers chose to spoil sport. Thus, Fanny and Mrs. Day were to be left to listen from the windows, without the support of any person qualified to laugh at what was really foolish in their apprehensions. With chattering teeth, with shawls drawn over their heads, did they lean out of the window of the darkened drawing-room, trusting that, if there should be any shot, they should have notice of it from the face of the rock below.
The gentlemen and their servants proceeded first to Morse’s cottage. He was not at home; but Alick was,—looking out of the window, as was the fashion this night. His father had gone out some time ago, he said, fancying, as he did every night, that he heard a noise somewhere. The wonder was that he was not back yet. Alick was pressed into the service to go and seek for him.
Nothing could be more exciting to the young men than their walk through the wood, treading cautiously on the thick strewn leaves, and mistaking every sigh of the gust among the naked boughs for the coming forth of an enemy from ambush. The stars, bright as they were, gave too little light to be of much service amidst the trees; and a guide was appointed from among the servants to lead the way to the woodman’s cottage. When he reached the fence which surrounded it, he turned to whisper,
“They can’t be far off now, sir. There is a man up in that tree. If you will stand where I do, you will see him.”
“Come down, whoever you are!” said James. “Come down, or I’ll fire!”
“For mercy’s sake, sir, don’t!” cried a voice which had nothing very manly in it; and the dark form was seen to be descending with all speed.
“What was he doing there?” asked Richard, as a boy was pulled by the collar into his immediate presence. “Stealing walnuts! What brought you out, you little wretch, to steal walnuts?”
He had been told by his father to stay here till the party came past on their way home, lest he should get a mischief; and he thought he might as well be doing something, like the rest of them. He had tried the hen-roost first; but some of the party had been there before him, and there was nothing left for him but the walnuts; and they were only the gleanings, after the best part of the crop had been gathered. He had news to give of the keeper. He had seen him taken.—Taken?—Ay; skulking behind this cottage, to watch the poachers. It seemed to him that somebody from within had given notice that he was there. However that might be, Morse’s gun was taken from him, and he was carried off. Such was the story told by George Swallow.
The inmate of this cottage was sound asleep, if prodigious snoring might be taken as a test. He was not allowed further repose, but summoned to bring out his gun; and George Swallow was left tenant of the house,—tied by the leg to the bed-post.
If the gentlemen had come out in pursuit of game, they could have started none more tempting than the fine stag which, being roused from its lair, stood for an instant gazing on them from a distance of forty paces. Wallace had a cry of admiration ready as the graceful creature stood in the dim light; but before he could utter it,—before the animal could bound away, a perfectly aimed shot came from some other quarter; and instantly a large body of men crowded round the fallen stag. In vain was the signal of silence given by Mr. Cranston, and most earnestly propagated by Alick and the other woodman. Wallace shouted, James echoed him, and the servants followed. The poachers rushed forward. A gun was fired; by whom, and with what effect, nobody knew at the moment. A second shot ensued, whose consequences were immediately perceived by Mr. Cranston’s party. Alick sunk down with a cry like that of a woman. His father knew the voice, and sprang from among his captors to the side of his son. The fight which ensued was very harmless, the poachers perceiving that they were in no danger from such a handful of enemies. With the most provoking coolness, they retreated, carrying their game with them, and only laughing at the pursuit of their foes. If they would only have been angry, and gone on fighting, there would have been some consolation. But they would fight no more.
Neither did they sport any more; at least, not visibly nor audibly. As it was undesirable that they should be tracked to their place of carouse, and as it was necessary to cut up their venison into a more portable state, they retired behind Whitford’s granary, and there took up a strong position, rightly supposing that the enemy would see no use or safety in watching them for any length of time. While knives were being plied with skill upon the venison, those who were not wanted for the work thought it a pity they should be idle. A sheep of Whitford’s was abstracted from the flock by one detachment, while another sought the place where the granary had been last tapped, and drew a further supply of fine wheat which was pretty sure not to be missed. In these expeditions, it was a rule of morals to employ every man according to his capacity. Those who could neither kill game nor cut it up delicately were very capable of boring a hole in the floor of a loft full of corn, and, when the bag was filled, of stopping up the hole with a cork till next time. This done, all proved themselves capable of swearing fellowship and drinking more or less gin or other spirit in Swallow’s office, whether or not they could sing such songs as frightened the twin sisters from their sleep in the farthest corner of the house.
On this occasion, the sisters were spared the panic suffered by Mrs. Day and Fanny, when a wounded man was brought in to be put to bed, and supposed dying till the surgeon could be summoned to see him. Fanny’s satisfaction at her brothers’ coming home safe was much impaired by the moodiness of their countenances, which seemed to betoken that the strife with their neighbours was not at an end.