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‘Where be that dalled paper ?’ he cried suddenly. “Fetch it here, my maid, an’ I’ll sign it.’ ‘Oh, Jim, would ye ’’ exclaimed Lyddy, aghast, yet full of admiration and unwilling joy. “Ees, I would,” repeated Jim valiantly. ‘’Twas a thing what I did think at first I couldn't a-bear to do; but there, I’ll do it for your sake, an’ I’ll swear to whatever he likes.” ‘Oh, Jim, would ye really * That 'ud bring father back to life fast enough, an' I d' 'low he'd be awful grateful to 'ee, but—” As Jim turned towards her, however, she stifled all inconvenient qualms of conscience, and hurried off in search of the little Bible. “But he tore that paper up !' she cried, suddenly recalling the fact. “Ees, I mind when he comed back he tore the paper up.” “Write it out again, then,” said Jim resolutely. “Write it out an' then us’ll go in to en together, an’ I’ll sign it on condition he gives I his word to let you an’ me be married.” ‘Well, that 'ud only be fair,’ rejoined Lyddy. “I’m sure 'tis a wonderful thing for any man to do, more particular sich a good man as you’ve allus been. But I reckon the A'mighty couldn't expect us to let father lay there and die for want of a word of comfort.’ ‘Nay,’ agreed Jim, with an odd look, ‘the A'mighty wouldn't expect so much as that.” Lyddy soon possessed herself of a sheet of paper, and, as she remembered every word of the original document, had no difficulty in drawing up a duplicate. ‘Now,” said Jim in an eager whisper when it was finished, “you go in first an’ tell en I be ready to swear all he wants, an’ if ye'll fetch the pen I'll sign my name before his eyes.” ‘I hope we'll be forgiven if it's wrong, muttered Lyddy; yet she hurried forward, Jim following so close upon her heels that he found himself by Robert's bedside before the girl had had time to complete her announcement. The little room was almost dark, and he could but dimly descry the lean figure of the old man under the coverings, while the curtain at the head of the bed partially concealed the watchful form of Mrs. Inkpen. ‘What's that ?’ asked Robert sternly; and he raised his head a little from the pillow.
* Please, father, Jim Fry have come up to say he's changed his mind, and he be ready to swear what ye did want en to swear this morning, and to sign his name, too. An' I've a-wrote out a paper the same as the one you did tear up, an' he be all ready to do it now.’ ‘Ees,’ agreed Jim. Robert drew himself up to a sitting posture, and jerked the curtains to one side. “Light a candle, wold 'ooman,’ he commanded; then, after Mrs. Inkpen had hastily obeyed: ‘Hand it here.” He held the flat tin candlestick at arm’s length, so that the light fell full upon Jim's face, the pupils of his own eyes appearing like pins' heads as they fixed themselves on the young IIla Il. ‘Now, my lad,” he said, “tell me that again—tell me that yourself; an' you, Lyddy, keep quiet. He’ve a-got a tongue of his own I d’’low.’ Jim, astonished and confused once more, stated his intention of then and there complying with the request which he had previously refused. ‘Ye be willin' to do it, be ye?’ cried Inkpen, raising his voice. ‘Ye be willin' to swear to a lie o ' “It bain't a lie,' returned Jim quickly. He felt Lyddy flinch at his side, and heard her gasp faintly. ‘It bain't a lie,” he repeated, with more firmness, ‘an' to prove it bain't I’ll swear over again as I be a-tellin' the truth.” ‘Oh, Jim, don’t l’exclaimed Lyddy, appalled at this accumulation of iniquity. “There, it’ll bring a judgment on ye. Nay, not if 'twas for my sake farty times over I couldn't bear it.’ ‘Ye hear what the maid do say !’ cried Robert, pointing an accusing finger at the culprit. ‘The very maid can’t bide to hear ye say sich things. She've a-told I the truth, mind ye, an' I know so well as you do as it be a lie. Lyddy owned up as ye promised her not to do your best so as I could beat ye. I know as you be jist makin' a fool o' me. 'Tis a wonder the earth don't open an’swaller ye up.” Jim gave a desperate glance round. ‘It’ll all have to come out, I see,” he said, after a pause, resignedly. ‘’Tis true what Lyddy did tell ye as I promised to let you win, an' when I went down to the field I'd made up my mind to do it; but her an’ me had words—jist a few minutes afore the match began. Ye know ye didn't treat I fair, my maid,” he added reproachfully. “You did twite I shameful.” Lyddy, who was gazing at him with a startled look, made no reply, and he went on hastily, turning again to the old In an : “She did twite I; she did boast as you could easy get the better of I, so I jist thought I’d let her see.” The gnarled hand which held the candlestick wavered, and Robert, leaning forward and supporting himself with the other arm, gazed eagerly at the speaker; his eyes were shining, his lips parted. “I thought I’d start off in my best style,” continued Fry, “an' gie her a good fright, an’ I could easy make a mess at the end. But when we was started, Measter Inkpen, an’ I found ye was a match for me—'ees, an’ more nor a match—I clean give up the notion o’ keepin’ my promise; I jist settled to the job in hand. I done my very best to win that prize, but ’twas you was the better man.” The candlestick fell clattering to the floor, the candle being extinguished. A certain confusion ensued while Mrs. Inkpen recovered both, and sought for the matches; but meanwhile Robert had thrown himself back, crowing with laughter so loud and jubilant as to drown the whispered discussion which took place between the young couple. When the candle had been lighted and placed in safety on a corner of the chest of drawers, Jim, with a very red face, was found to be clasping the struggling Lyddy round the waist. ‘Fetch that there paper l’ cried Robert, sitting up again with the agility of a jack-in-the-box. ‘Let go of the maid, ye foolish feller, an’ come here an' sign l’ “I’ll sign in a minute,’ rejoined Jim ; ‘ but I must make friends wi' Lyddy first. Tell her she must forgive an’ forget, Measter Inkpen, same as you’ve a-done.’ “There, forgive en, maidie, forgive en,’ chuckled Robert. “He be a good chap an’ straight-forrard, jist about.” “I bain't so sure o’ that,” said Lyddy, not harshly, however. ‘Nay, now, he be,” asserted her father. “Come, forgive an' forget, my dear, same as I be a-doin’—leastways, I’ll forgive—haw, haw I But I can’t say as I’ll ever forget !” **It is to be presumed that Lyddy ultimately forgave her persistent suitor, for they were married very soon afterwards; but it is by no means certain that she fulfilled the last part of the precept, for there were occasions—on market days and the like—when she reminded her husband of his liability to trip.
As for Robert, his triumph seemed to give him a new lease of life, and though he and his son-in-law were ever on the most amicable terms he never failed to assert his own pre-eminence as the ploughing champion.
IAW THE PLEASA UAVCE OF DAME PHANTAS Y.
There is a spirit in the woods.-WoRDsworth, ‘Nutting.’
DAME PHANTASY a pleasaunce hath,
'Twas in that pleasaunce that erewhile,
And Spenser too, the monarch crowned
Not far from thence does Arden lie,