Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 312 pages of information about Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts.

Two days passed.  The Emigrant visited the cemetery, inspected his parents’ tombstone, and found about it a number of tombstones belonging to people whose faces he had not hitherto missed.  But after his experiment upon Elizabeth Best he had not declared himself a second time.  Indeed, his humour by this had turned sour, and his mind was made up that, if no one recognised him spontaneously, he would leave his native town as quietly as he had come—­would go back without revealing himself to a soul.  It would be unfair to say that he felt aggrieved; but he certainly dismissed a project, with which he had often played in South Africa, of erecting a public drinking-fountain on Mount Folly, as the citizens of Tregarrick call the slope in front of the County Assize Hall.

The third day was Sunday, and he went to church in the morning.  The Vicar who preached was a stranger to him; but in the sidesman who came down the aisle afterwards with the offertory-plate he recognised one Billy Smithers, who had been a crony of his some twenty years ago; who had, in fact, helped him more than once to milk Retallack’s Alderney.  He felt in his pocket and dropped a sovereign into the plate.  The sidesman halted and rubbed his chin.

“Han’t you made a mistake?” he asked in a stage whisper.

The Emigrant waved his hand in rather a lordly manner, and William Smithers, sidesman, proceeded down the aisle, wondering, but not suspecting.

The Vicar recited the prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church militant here on earth, and the Emigrant joined the crowd trooping out by the western door.

But in the press just outside the door two hands suddenly seized his right hand and shook it violently.  He turned and faced—­Dicky Loony.

“Me know, eh?  Pete—­Mas’r Pete!” The idiot bent over his hand and mumbled it with his wry mouth, then shook it again, peering up in his face.  “Eh?  Pete—­Pete.  Yes.  All right!”

The Emigrant looked down on this poor creature at whom he had flung scores of stones, but never a kind word.  And the idiot ran on:—­

“Dicky, eh?”—­tapping his chest.  “You know—­Dicky.  Pete—­Pete, eh?”—­ and he made the gesture of one flinging a stone.  “Often, ha, ha! So high.”  He spread his hand, palm downward, about five feet from the ground.

“Well I’m blest!” said the Emigrant softly.  They stood now on the green together, a little apart from the crowd.

“So high, eh?  Li’l boy, eh?  Fling—­me know!” He took the emigrant’s hand again and shook it, smiling and looking him straight in the eyes with innocent gaiety.  “These boys—­no good; no good now.  Pete, he fling so.  Li’l boy—­quite li’l boy.  Me know, eh?  Dicky know!”

“Well,” repeated the Emigrant; “I’m blest, but this is funny!”


All day within the dreamy house
   The doors upon their hinges creak’d,
The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse
   Behind the mouldering wainscot shrieked,
Or from the crevice peer’d about,
   Old faces glimmer’d thro’ the doors,
   Old footsteps trod the upper floors,
Old voices called her from without.

Project Gutenberg
Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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