It was a long time before he fell asleep, but he did so at last, for Insomnia is a demon who rarely finds his way into Arcadia. But, all at once, he was awake again,—broad awake, and staring into the dark, for a thousand voices seemed to be screaming in his ears, and eager hands were shaking, and plucking at window and lattice. He started up, and then he knew that the storm was upon them, at last, in all its fury,—rain, and a mighty wind,—a howling raging tempest. Yes, a great, and mighty wind was abroad,—it shrieked under the eaves, it boomed and bellowed in the chimneys, and roared away to carry destruction among the distant woods; while the rain beat hissing against the window-panes.
Surely in all its many years the old house of Dapplemere had seldom borne the brunt of such a storm, so wild,—so fierce, and pitiless!
And, lying there upon his bed, listening to the uproar, and tumult, Bellew must needs think of her who had once said:
“We are placing all our hopes, this year, upon the hops!”
How Small Porges, in his hour of need, was deserted by his Uncle
“Ruined, sir!—Done for!—Lord love me! they ain’t worth the trouble o? gatherin’—w’ot’s left on ’em, Mr. Belloo sir.”
“So bad as that, Adam?”
“Bad!—ah, so bad as ever was, sir!” said Adam, blinking suspiciously, and turning suddenly away.
“Has Miss Anthea seen,—does she know?”
“Ah! she were out at dawn, and Oh Lord, Mr. Belloo sir! I can’t never forget her poor, stricken face,—so pale and sad it were. But she never said nothing, only: ‘Oh, Adam!—my poor hops!’ An’ I see her lips all of a quiver while she spoke. An’ so she turned away, an’ came back to the ’ouse, sir. Poor lass! Oh poor lass!” he exclaimed, his voice growing more husky. “She’s made a brave fight for it, sir,—but it weren’t no use, ye see,—it’ll be ‘Good-bye’ for her to Dapplemere, arter all, that there mortgage can’t never be paid now,—nohow.”
“When is it due?”
“Well, according to the bond, or the deed, or whatever they calls it,—it be doo—tonight, at nine o’clock, sir,—though Old Grimes,—as a special favour, an’ arter much persuading,—’ad agreed to hold over till next Saturday,—on account o’ the ’op-picking. But now—seeing as there ain’t no ‘ops to be picked,—why he’ll fore-close to-night, an’ glad enough to do it, you can lay your oath on that, Mr. Belloo sir.”
“To-night!” said Bellew, “to-night!” and he stood, for a while with bent head, as though lost in profound thought. “Adam,” said he, suddenly, “help me to harness the mare, I must drive over to the nearest rail-road depot,—hurry, I must be off, the sooner, the better.”
“What!—be you—goin’ sir?”
“D’ye mean as you’re a-goin’ to leave her—now, in the middle o’ all this trouble?”