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A HOLT HUMAN CE.

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A HOLT HUMAN CE. A DODGER EPISODE. [By Annette.) The dodgers were hard ai work in the Holt Suawbeiry-Ueidi—that is to say. they wete word- ing as hard as the muu ^ppoinuea to oveilook Mem could liWie LheHL As I.t.(;H" popular and witieiy- reeogii.scd niine imp.ies, they loved not haul labour, it W:1..> one ot the many tliiu; tilCY lived to dodgo. They zp-UL. even iuoie p4ilb in aociging Adam's legacy to his sons anti clauguteis than ui aougmg ti.e copper." liuiy they were a. strange, s.¡,d study for anyone who had the inclination to study suou specimens or the great human i&miiy. it seemed as if the little Ueisu DOi.der v ¡1.age hä.tl gaiiiOiC-d within its folds a llock ent.reiy oompooed oi biack snec-p, and. saddest pan. of ail, manj of tlio iambs ap- peared to havo nud an "extia exefciieu tneir eideis m bia,kiiess. Some one was siuuy.ng the piciure Lilt jay ex- tended to her viuw lot indes aiuuiiil; some ouc wilo cycled aiong cue uust) road, and then turneu her wiioei through tne gaievvay into a heid. Sik- stopped to ask a pickei,, wlio waz. buzy at work, tor perin.Ssioa to stay and waton tne pickers for a little wi111e. It was given somewhat suddy; standing under a iiot sua tor houxs ai, a streten does not tend to ko-p Lie temper cooi. Tho cyclist, however, 4iiiy smiled her thanks and pusntd um wÍleel turtiier along uie lieUoO aide, until sne callW unoer the sh..dc of a damson tree. 'bwn she looked around her, and drew a long breath oi satisfaction, 1t was woun oOUluIg tOL Sureij copy wouid be lound liere li anywhere. jbir»t, sue noted the sunoullong country, it. was a lair enough landscape for London eyes to ivst upon The cyclist vahed it glor.ouo. and soon had poncii and sketch-book out, wmle she Grew a bird s-eye view of tho most prominent features ot interest. She had to shut ner position a mile, so as to get the outline of iiarnston s monument m her little picture, as Well as tIe church tower over tho water in England. She iaugned soitiy to nerselt as she finished her crude sketcn. "I siiail have to make haif-a-dozeii p.,tares out of it, some day I vc an awful longing to put. tuat dear, sleepy old river in, although 1 a-Lii t get a. gho3t ot a. giunpse of it l'rom here. Youii n,.vi_r iliake an aiirst ot me, Net! She smiled, as these thoughts tiitted througn her mind, and it was p.easant to see what a change that siiine wrou^nt up^ii what would otherwise have been calied a cold, almost seveie- looking face. it lighted up a pair oi wonderful grey eyes, ejes tuat were keen and mere Jess at times, but sweet, and winning Wheu the mouth sni Iied, and the lips parted to shew even, well- cared-for teeth, it was not a faoe of remarkable beauty, rather the index to a deep, sound, true nature. Her sketch finished, she made her way back to the cycle and the shade of the fr.eruliy damson tree. Then she set herself to study tile fruit- pickcrs and their moue o: work. There were 'i h erb WOE(3 about 50 men, women and children, all busy pick- ing the giorious berries. They were d,vided into two eonipaii.es. each having a master-man ta; "drive" and keep order. Big, muscular men these overseers were in this particular field, and it was easy to understand tuat muscle and sinew might often be called into use, considering the material they had to control. What a contrast between the beautiful berries their touch seemed to desecrate, and these foul. diseased, sin-distorted creatures The cyclist set to work to sketch the head of a [ little "gamin" who was evidently a new "hand," for he had not yet tired of the dehcious fiuit. When he p.ck"d a particularly tempting-looking berry ins wicked little biack eyes turned upon tne i "ganger," as lie was called, and it he thought him- seif unperoeived, into his mouth that Dig, red berry went. She was just "finishing off the little AraD when she heard her name pronounced by a voice on the otner side of tue liedge. Before sue had time to stand up and look loi the owner of j the voice, a man climbed up Loin the road over the fence, and stood bes,do her. I "Reggie Arnold!' sne exclaimed. "You here, and 50:' with a shaip up-and-aowii glance that took in everything, from the ragged cap to the soleless boots. "Ye", lwggie Arnold, and so!' he replied, mocking her shocked tone ..ad laughing disagree- ably. A casual observer wouid have sa.d of h.m "a dodger," and he or she would nave been quite right, but a. closer scrutiny wouid havo revealed the fact that this was no ordinary dodger. He could not have been more than twenty-eight, and should have been a handsome man, indeed lie had stiil good features, but they were marred by the sign of the beast. The eyes were bluriy and shot with red, the mouth, where lay the who.e ex- planation of the expressive "So," was pitiably weak, and these added to the dare-devil expression of the whole face and figure w.iat could they but sp,L' ii ii 's case, dodgerhood "You seem pleased to see me, Hester," he said. "There was a. time whin you offered me your hand when we met, as we d:d prelty frequently," he added, with a worid of insolence in his voice. He did not wait for her to speak, but went on. "Have you come heie seeking copy? How would I do for an object lesson for a lady's journal? You could, at any rate, give them tne wnoie his- tory from cause to effect." "What do you mean.* She had stood up, and wa.s strappmg her sketch-book to her bicycle. As he finished speaking, she turned and fiied the question at him with indignant, wide-opened eyes. "Of course, you don't know," he said, "how should you? Who would blame you for drawing a poor devil on until he cared for nothing in the world beside yourself? He might have known you Lould never care for him in that way-I think that was what you s-,Id--or he might at least- have guessed that he .ha.d not enough swag to purchase so much lovehness as is summed up in your dainty pe-,son. His blood-shot eyes seemed to burn her cheeks with the baltful light that shone in them. She might have felt afraid, but her blood was up, and she forgot all else as she drew herself further away from him and flung him back her answer. "I would rather not hit a man when he's down, but since you compel mo to speak let me teil you that if you had possessed the wealth of all the Indies I could never have married jou. You, with not a will of your own with not enough grit to take your degree, with not even enough back- bone to your character to keep you upright among your fellow-men you were always the same, 'un- stable as water,' and ever seeking to lay the bur- den of your sins and shortcomings on some other back than your own. Reggie Arnold. I loathe and despise you A dangerous light shone in the man's eyes as he said: .T_ 1_ .I. _L -t- ¿. I. OU stin Keep to your sweet, wouiojujr i-eiu- per? You little fiend, what do I care for your loathing? It was not always so." He stood and looked at her a minute, while a sinister, devilish smile spread over his face, then he looked round the field the pickers had worked their way along the rows to the extreme end of the field. "I've a good mind to kiss you he said, "for the sake of old times" He moved towards her until she could smell the fiery spirit he had been drinking. She felt sick at the nearness of his bloated, evil- looking fa e, but she never flinched. The atti- tude evidently surprised him; he put out a shapely but uncared for hand, meaning to take her right hand but she eluded him. "Mr Arnold," she said, with a stress on the "Mr. "you havo a mother who may be looking down upon you at this moment." I "D- you and her," he said; "do you think j that will stop my kiss'ng you?" and ho tried again to snatch at her hand, but she was too quick for him, and managed somehow to place her bicycle between herself and him. She was scarcely j afraid the only feelings she was conscious of were j unspeakable disgust and-st, angc combination!— deep, unfathomable pity. Both sentiments couid be traced in her shining, grey eyes, although it was only the disgust that shewed itself in her speech as she said: I "Reginald Arnold, do you know whit I would do if I were you?" and as he raised his brows in- terrogatively, "I would walk down to the river Dee and drown myself before I added more sins to my account." She moved quickly away as she finished speak- ing. and she wondered whv he did not follow her or attempt to stop her. Had she only known it. her honest, grey eyes were bright with unshed tears, and they had done what her ricrhteous in- dignation had not been able to accomplish—cowed the beast in Reginald Arnold. After all he had sunk into dodgerhocd lie was not to tho manner born. It was Ion,, since he had seen tears liko those; maudlin grief was common enough among those whom he had made his associates: but those glistening-drops in spite of the wo,ds that accompanied them. told of reproach, sorrow, and, | strangest of all. compassion. He sat down when she had passed along the road and was lost to sight, and many pictures passed before him that 1 he was surprised to find his memory had kept stored away so long. He was lost in thought for about half-an-hour, then he got up and stretched himself and walked back to the village with his shoulders thrown back and his head held more | erect than he had held it for many days. lie turned into an inn on the Cross and called for brandy, then he begged a sheet of paper, and asked the barmaid if she would lend him a Ppncll. She was about to refuse but he assured her with such evident sin-eritv that he would return it in an hour's time, that in spite of her knowledge of "dodger" ways she went to a drawer close at hand, and taking out a small piece of pencil handed it to him. "You o?n k?ep it." she sa d. probably thinking to save herself the humilation of being "done" "Thank you." he said. "I will certainly return I it to you, as I promised, in an hour's t'm". I shall have no further use for it" he ndded with a smile, and he raised his old cap "like a lord," as she said afterwards. He walked slowly across the square known as "Howt Cross," carrying the paper and pencil in his h-tnd This square was tho place where within the memory of some of the oldest, villagers a pitched battle used at one time to be fought every Mon- day morning to determine who was to bn the champion pugilist of the village. This "Senior Wrangler" reigned for a week. The next Monday he must again fight for or resign his office. The "Howt Lions" hid changed since those days. They now settled their differences in modem ways. "Every man his own lawyer" was no longer their good old rule. They had found better work for their hands than destroying their neighbours' fea- tures. Nowhere were Hotter formers more enter- prising agriculturists to be found than in "the ancient boroutrh," as they delighted to ca.11 their old village. The kincr of berries had made Helt a familiar name in places far removed from the Welsh border, and deservedly so Who would withhold Gratitude from the men who had studied and woi ked b grow thi" fru;t to "lIch perfection? Doctor Botele (who must have been a wise man indeed if Izaak Walton quotas him aright in his "Compleat Angler") says of the strawberry: "Doubtless God could have mad e a better berry, but doubtless God never did," and surety there are few who would not endorse his sage doctrine. But Reginald Arnold was not thinking about trawbenies or their growers as he mad a his way past Kenyon Hall, and on as far as the schools. Then he turned and went down an old, narrow ,ane, that presently led him to a field through which the river run. In the same field stood ail that remained of "Holt Castla." Towards the pile of grassy ruins he directed his steps. He limbed up to the top of the pile and stood looking )VCT the country that lay abound him with eyes that saw nothing of the r.ver Dee, Holt meadows, o-r anything else that lay so temptingly spicad to view Wliat he did see was not so fair & picture; .t was a review of his own life. He saw himself fnst a petted, spoued child, the idol of an adoring mother, then a med.col student "going the pice next he saw himself an idler, tired of the study of medicine, wholly devoted to the study of self. From that stage the road to his present state lay smooth and unintcn upted as the downward course ever has been. H9 roused himself at last and put his hand to his pocket as if to tako out a watih them he laughed harshly as his hand came back cmpty-trange how present old associations had been with him since he saw those tears in Hester Pryor's eyes and had walked with his head erect "I must get my wrl ting done and return this poncii," he said to himseif. Then he sat down on the grass grown ruin and wrote steadily for some time. He laughed once or twice as he wrote, and onoe he swore under his breath. Then he folded the paper, put it in his pocket, and wended his way back to the Inn on the Cross. The next day Hester Pryor, journalist, was sit- ting writing in a pleasant room in Queen's Park, Chester. She was staying with an artist friend, Nell Gwynno. Holt had furnished her with un. limited copy, and Nell had left her to herself, for as she laughingly told Hester, she "could see she was going to have an idea.' She had "had many ideas since sho returned from Holt, not all of them pleasant ones. She was sitting moodily nibbling a pencil, when Nell put her head in at the door. ".Here's a letter for you," she said. "Sorry to bother you. Au revoir!" Hester took the letter, and then started to see that the postmark was Holt. Her lip curled, and a look of extreme annoyance crossed her face. She looked towards the fire-grate, and then remem- bered that fires are not needed in July. The ab- sence of a fire, and perhaps a faint curiosity to know why he should spend a penny on a letter to her something made her decide to read it It w is written in pencil, and perhaps that "was why it needed such close attention. WEen she had finished it her face was very white, and she sat perfectly still, the letter grasped tightly in her cl. nched hand. Then with a sound that was half sigh, half sob, sho sank upon h2r knees, and her head fed forward on her arms stretched out on tb chair. This was Hester's letter:—"Dear Miss Pryor,— You have given me lots of good advioa in days gone by; if you had reason to complain then that I never followed it you shall not have cause to complain on that score this time. I have been thinking over your most kind farewell speech (plain Saxon was ever a strong point with you), and I have iome to the conclusion that the advice contained therein was really the best possible under the circumstances. By the time you re- ceive this I shall either be reposing at the bottom of tho 'charming river Dee' or waiting in some public house for twelve honest men to s't upon me. It will hardly be a novel experience for me; as you may guess I have long ago grown ac- customed to the sensation of being sat upon. I am conscious of a general feeling of curiosity as to the kind of verdict they will arrive at-I have heard that Welsh juries are peculiarly, startlingly unconventional. I devoutly hope it will not be ■ 'suicido while temporalily insane.' I believe mv- solf to have been insane for years; I honestly think I am enjoying a 'lucid interval' at present. That must be why I see things in the same light as you at last after all these years; you were ever tremendously sane and sensible. Should you feel inclined to enlighten the twelve honest men toil them I went to look for Styx and tumbled in -thJ DeB. That. will amply satisfy a jury sit- ting on a 'dodger. I shall send this to your friend Miss Wynne's, for I suppose you are st ty- ing with her at Chester. Perhaps you wonder why I have written at all? Maybe I had a fan, y to let you know that I had followed the advice of the 'unco guid' just for once., instead of my own inclination. Perhaps I wanted to pay you back for some of your Christian remarks. I may be a miserable sinner, maybe there will be a iii;sera.blo saint in Chester when you read this. if ever you should get to the place where my mother is—I don't think you will pass to her all at once, you may be a good woman, I believe you aèO a good woman, Hester Pryor. but you are not fit for my mother's society yet—but if you over should retch her tell her from me that if wretches like, me are given another chance in another world, I'll work my way to her yet. After all you need not worry too much about your share in this drama—or comedy, which is it?-for it was your honest grey eyes made me determine that.—R. A." Tho following Friday evening Hester read in the paper "Inquest on a Strawberry Picker at ) Holt The body of a man. name unknown, was found in the river Dee near Deeside, Holt, on Tuesday evening. He was a 'dodger," known among his associates as The Doctor. It is thought he must have been tempted by the heat to bathe in the river, when he had probably been taken with cramp and succumbed immediately. The last person to see him alive was another picker named Ryan, who saw deceased by the post-office about three hours before his body was found. Ryan said deceased put a letter in the post and thsn started away down the lane leading to Doesidc,. Ryan called and asked him where he was going, and he made answer 'to look for sticks.' It is supposed that while seeking the sticks tho unfor- tunate man had felt tempted to bathe, for his clothes were found on the bank. and, as stated before, he had probably had an attack of cramp, and expired for want of assistance. The jury re- turned a verdict of "Accidental death." Hester Piyor sat a long time with the paper lying across her knees. She did not cry, but after a while her whole body was shaken with one long, shivering sigh. Then she walked to the window, opened it, and leaned out She looked up at the cloudless July sky and (laspod her hands upon the window-sill, resting her firm, rounded chin on her clasped hands. Then she whispered, as if to the sunny, summer sky—"Forgive mo. if it was I who made your boy do it. How could I know? I will pray God to iet me alono suffer for it, and to lot him find his way to vou at last." [The End.]

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