Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][graphic]

A bullet whizzed, and passed through Felix Holt's shoulder. ... Felix fell..

PAGE 359.

with the multitude into Treby Park, his very movement seemed to him only an image of the day's fatalities, in which the multitudinous small wickednesses of small selfish ends, really undirected toward any larger result, had issued in widely-shared mischief that might yet be hideous.

The light was declining: already the candles shone through many windows of the manor. Already the foremost part of the crowd had burst into the offices, and adroit men were busy in the right places to find plate, after setting others to force the butler into unlocking the cellars; and Felix had only just been able to force his way on to the front terrace, with the hope of getting to the rooms where he would find the ladies of the household and comfort them with the assurance that rescue must soon come, when the sound of horses' feet convinced him that the rescue was nearer than he had expected. Just as he heard the horses, he had approached the large window of a room, where a brilliant light suspended from the ceiling showed him a group of women clinging together in terror. Others of the crowd were pushing their way up the terrace-steps and gravel-slopes at various points. Hearing the horses, he kept his post in front of the window, and, motioning with his sabre, cried out to the on-comers, “Keep back! I hear the soldiers coming.” Some scrambled back, some paused automatically.

The louder and louder sound of the hoofs changed its pace and distribution. “Halt! Fire!" Bang! bang! bang! came deafening the ears of the men on the terrace.

Before they had time or nerve to move, there was a rushing sound closer to them - again “Fire!” a bullet whizzed, and passed through Felix Holt's shoulder-the shoulder of the arm that held the naked weapon which shone in the light from the window.

Felix fell. The rioters ran confusedly, like terrified sheep. Some of the soldiers, turning, drove them along with the flat of their swords. The greater difficulty was to clear the invaded offices.

66 He

The Rector, who with another magistrate and several other gentlemen on horseback had accompanied the soldiers, now jumped on to the terrace, and hurried to the ladies of the family.

Presently there was a group around Felix, who had fainted, and, reviving, had fainted again. He had had little food during the day, and had been overwrought. Two of the group were civilians, but only one of them knew Felix, the other being a magistrate not resident in Treby. The one who knew Felix was Mr. John Johnson, whose zeal for the public peace had brought him from Duffield when he heard that the soldiers were summoned.

“I know this man very well,” said Mr. Johnson. is a dangerous character-quite revolutionary.”

It was a weary night; and the next day, Felix, whose wound was declared trivial, was lodged in Loamford jail, He was committed on three counts—for having assaulted a constable, for having committed manslaughter (Tucker was dead from spinal concussion), and for having led a riotous onslaught on a dwelling-house.

Four other men were committed: one of them for possessing himself of a gold cup with the Debarry arms on it; the three others, one of whom was the collier Dredge, for riot and assault.

That morning Treby town was no longer in terror, but it was in much sadness. Other men, more innocent than the hated Spratt, were groaning under severe bodily injuries. And poor Tucker's corpse was not the only one that had been lifted from the pavement. It is true that none grieved much for the other dead man, unless it be grief to say, “Poor old fellow!” He had been trampled upon, doubtless where he fell drunkenly, near the entrance of the Seven Stars. This second corpse was Tommy Trounsem, the bill-sticker, otherwise Thomas Transome, the last of a very old family-line.

CHAPTER XXXIV.
The fields are hoary with December's frost.
I too am hoary with the chills of age.
But through the fields and through the untrodden woods
Is rest and stillness-only in my heart

The pall of winter shrouds a throbbing life. A WEEK after that Treby riot Harold Transome was at Transome Court. He had returned from a hasty visit to town, to keep his Christmas at this delightful country home, not in the best Christmas spirits. He had lost the election; but if that had been his only annoyance, he had good-humor and good sense enough to have borne it as well as most men, and to have paid the eight or nine thousand, which had been the price of ascertaining that he was not to sit in the next Parliament, without useless grumbling. But the disappointments of life can never, any more than its pleasures, be estimated singly; and the healthiest and most agreeable of men is exposed to that coincidence of various vexations, each heightening the effect of the other, which may produce in him something corresponding to the spontaneous and externally unaccountable moodiness of the morbid and disagreeable.

Harold might not have grieved much at a small riot in Treby, even if it had caused some expenses to fall on the county; but the turn which the riot had actually taken was a bitter morsel for rumination, on more grounds than one. However the disturbances had arisen and been aggravated, and probably no one knew the whole truth on these points—the conspicuous, gravest incidents had all tended to throw the blame on the Radical party, that is to say, on Transome and on Transome's agents, and so far the candidateship and its results had done Harold dishonor in the county: precisely the opposite effect to that which was a

« PreviousContinue »