He slipped the pistols into his pocket, pulled out two crown pieces, and tossed them to Prudy.
“That’ll pay for the damage, I daresay.” So, turning on his heel, he marched out, leaving them in the firelight. The crowd in the passage fell back to right and left, and in a moment more he had disappeared into the black drizzle outside.
But the tradition of his feat survives, and the six holes in Prudy’s panel still bear witness to its truth.
YOUNG ZEB SELLS HIS SOUL.
These things were reported to Young Zeb as he sat in his cottage, up the coombe, and nursed his pain. He was a simple youth, and took life in earnest, being very slow to catch fire, but burning consumedly when once ignited. Also he was sincere as the day, and had been treacherously used. So he raged at heart, and (for pride made him shun the public eye) he sat at home and raged—the worst possible cure for love, which goes out only by open-air treatment. From time to time his father, Uncle Issy, and Elias Sweetland sat around him and administered comfort after the manner of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.
“Your cheeks be pale, my son—lily-white, upon my soul. Rise, my son, an’ eat, as the wise king recommended, sayin’, ‘Stay me wi’ flagons, comfort me wi’ yapples, for I be sick o’ love.’ A wise word that.”
“Shall a man be poured out like water,” inquired Uncle Issy, “an’ turn from his vittles, an’ pass his prime i’ blowin’ his nose, an’ all for a woman?”
“I wasn’ blowin’ my nose,” objected Zeb, shortly.
“Well, in black an’ white you wasn’, but ye gave me that idee.”
Young Zeb stared out of the window. Far down the coombe a slice of blue sea closed the prospect, and the tan sails of a small lugger were visible there, rounding the point to the westward. He watched her moodily until she passed out of sight, and turned to his father.
“To-morrow, did ’ee say?”
“Iss, to-morrow, at eleven i’ the forenoon. Jim Lewarne brought me word.”
“Terrible times they be for Jim, I reckon,” said Elias Sweetland. “All yestiddy he was goin’ back’ards an’ forrards like a lost dog in a fair, movin’ his chattels. There’s a hole in the roof of that new cottage of his that a man may put his Sunday hat dro’; and as for his old Woman, she’ll do nought but sit ‘pon the lime-ash floor wi’ her tout-serve over her head, an’ call en ivery name but what he was chris’ened.”
“Nothin’ but neck-an’-crop would do for Tresidder, I’m told,” said Old Zeb. “’I’ve a-sarved ‘ee faithful,’ said Jim, ‘an’ now you turns me out wi’ a week’s warnin’.’ ‘You’ve a-crossed my will,’ says Tresidder, ‘an’ I’ve engaged a more pushin’ hind in your place.’ ‘Tis a new fashion o’ speech wi’ Tresidder nowadays.”
“Ay, modern words be drivin’ out the old forms. But ’twas only to get Jim’s cottage for that strong-will’d supplantin’ furriner because Ruby said ‘twas low manners for bride an’ groom to go to church from the same house. So no sooner was the Lewarnes out than he was in, like shufflin’ cards, wi’ his marriage garment an’ his brush an’ comb in a hand-bag. Tresidder sent down a mattress for en, an’ he slept there last night.”