“One day he dropped into church just before sarmon-time. There was a rabbit squattin’ outside ‘pon his father’s tombstone. Squire crep’ up an’ clapped his Sunday hat ’pon top of en. Took en into church. One o’ the curate chaps was preachin’—a timorous little fellah. By-’n’-by Squire slips out his rabbit. ’Wirroo, boys! Coorse en, coorse en—we’ll have en for dinner!’ Aw, a pretty dido! The curate fellah ran out to door an’ the rabbit after en. Folks did say the rabbit was the old Squire’s soul, an’ that he’d turned black inside the young Squire’s hat. Very stiff behaviour.
“He’ve had his own way too much; that’s what it is. When he was pricked for sheriff, he hired a ramshackle po’shay, painted a mule ‘pon the panel, an’ stuffed the footmen’s stockings with bran till it looked a case of dropsy. He was annoyed at bein’ put to the expense. The judge lost his temper at bein’ met in such a way, an’ pitched into en in open court, specially about the mule. He didn’t know ’twas the Squire’s shield of arms. Squire stood it for some time; but at last he ups an’ says, ’If you was an old woman of mine, I’d dress ‘ee different; an’ if you was an old woman of mine an’ kep’ scolding like that, I’d have ’ee in the duckin’-stool for your sauce!’ He almost went to gaol for that. But they put it on the ground the judge had insulted his shield of arms, an’ so he got off.
“Well, wish-’ee-well! Don’t you trouble about he. He’ve had his own way too much, but he won’t get it this time.”
That night Taffy dreamt that he met Squire Moyle walking along the shore; but the sand clogged him, and his spurs sank in it and his riding-boots. When he was ankle deep he began to call out, “Pray for me!” Then Taffy saw a black rabbit running on the firm sand to the breakers; and the Squire cried “Pray for me! I must catch en! ’Tis my father’s soul running off!” and put his hand into his breast and drew out a stone and flung it. But the stone, as soon as it touched the sand, turned into another rabbit, and the pair ran off together along the shore. The old man tried to follow, but the sand held him; and the tide was rising. . . .
ENTER THE KING’S POSTMAN.
A faint south wind murmured beneath the eaves. It died away, and for an hour there was peace on the towans. Then the sands began to trickle again, and the rushes to whisper and bend away from the sea, toward the high moors over which the gulls had flown yesterday and disappeared. By-and-by a spit or two of rain came flying out of the black north-west. The drops fell in the path of the sand, but the sand drove over and covered them, racing faster and faster.
Day rose, and Taffy awoke. The house walls were shaking. With each blow the wind ran up a scale of notes and ended with a howl. He looked out. Sea and sky had melted into one; only now and then white surf line heaved into sight, and melted back into grey. After breakfast he and his father started to battle their way to Tredinnis House, while Humility barricaded the door behind them. Taffy wore a suit of oilers, of which he was mightily proud.