Arriving at the cottage, Enoch told his wife how he had given Mr. Penrose the history of his old flute, whereupon the good woman wept and said:
‘Him and me, Mr. Penrose, has many a time supped sorrow, but th’ owd flute has awlus sweetened aar cup, hesn’t it, Enoch?’
‘Yi, lass, it awlus hes.’
That night, before Mr. Penrose left the moorland cottage of the Ashworths, old Enoch took up the flute tenderly, and, with a far-off look in his eyes, commenced to play a plaintive air, which the old woman told Mr. Penrose was to ‘their Joe,’ who was ’up aboon wi’ Jesus.’ And as the minister descended the brow towards his own home, the sweet, sad music continued to fall in dying strains upon his ears; and that night, and many a night afterwards, did he vex his brain to find out why redemption should be wrought out by a flute, when the creed of Rehoboth was powerless.
1. The uttermost Farthing.
2. The redemption of Moses Fletcher.
3. The atonement of Moses Fletcher.
The uttermost Farthing.
‘Well! yo’ and Jim may do as yo’ like—but I’m noan baan to turn aat o’ th’ owd Fold till I’m ta’en aat feet fermost.’
‘Nay, gronny—don’t tak’ on so. Yo’ cornd ston’ agen law as haa it be; a writ is a writ, and if yo’ hevn’t got brass it’s no use feightin’.’
’A, lass! I’m feared thaa’s reet—naa-a-days them as has most gets most, and their own way i’ th’ bargain.’
They were sitting over the hearth, the elder woman gazing wearily into the dying embers of the fire, and nursing her chin on her hand; while the younger, with her clog upon the rocker of a deal cradle, gave to that ark of infancy the gentle and monotonous movement which from time immemorial has soothed the restlessness of child-life.
It was a pitiless night—a night the superstitious might well associate with the portent of the downfall of the house around which the storm seemed to rage. The rain beat upon the windows, and the wind with its invisible arms clasped the old farmstead as if to wrench it from its foundations and scatter broadcast its gray stones over the wild moor on the fringe of which it stood. Neither of the women, however, heeded the sweep of the tempest, for their bosoms were racked by storms other than those of the elements. With eyes heavy from pent-up floods of tears, and hearts dark with foreboding, they listened for the footfall which both knew would bring with it their impending fate.
‘He’s here,’ said the old woman, quickly raising her head during one of the lulls of the storm. Nor was she mistaken, for in a moment the door was thrown open by a tall broad-shouldered man, who, seizing the dripping cap from his head, flung it with an oath into the farthest corner of the room.