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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 204 pages of information about The Ship of Stars.

“But it was beautiful,” said she, “so far as it went:  and it’s just what I wanted.  I shall remember that boy Ion now, whenever I think of you helping your father in the church at home.  If the rest of the story is not nice, I don’t want to hear it.”  How had she guessed?  It was delicious, at any rate, to know that she thought of him; and Taffy felt how delicious it was, while he fitted and hammered the shoe on Aide-de-camp’s hoof, she standing by with a candle in either hand, the flame scarcely quivering in the windless night.

When all was done, she raised a foot for him to give her a mount.  “Good-night!” she called, shaking the reins.  Half a minute later Taffy stood by the door of the forge, listening to the echoes of Aide-de-camp’s canter, and the palm of his hand tingled where her foot had rested.

CHAPTER XVII.

THE SQUIRE’S WEIRD.

He took leave of Mendarva and the Jolls just before Christmas.  The smith was unaffectedly sorry to lose him.  “But,” said he, “the Dane will be entered for the championship next summer, so I s’pose I must look forward to that.”

Every one in the Joll household gave him a small present on his leaving.  Lizzie’s was a New Testament, with her name on the flyleaf, and under it, “Converted April 19, 187-.”  Taffy did not want the gift, but took it rather than hurt her feelings.

Farmer Joll said, “Well, wish ’ee well!  Been pretty comfiable, I hope.  Now you’m goin’, I don’t mind telling ’ee I didn’t like your coming a bit.  But now ‘tis wunnerful to me you’ve been wi’ us less than two year’; we’ve made such friends.”

At home Taffy bought a small forge and set it up in the church at the west end of the north aisle.  Mr. Raymond, under his direction, had been purchasing the necessary tools for some months past, and now the main expense was the cost of coal, which pinched them a little.  But they managed to keep the fire alight, and the work went forward briskly.  Save that he still forbade the parish to lend them the least help, the old Squire had ceased to interfere.

Mr. Raymond’s hair was greyer, and Taffy might have observed—­but did not—­how readily towards the close of a day’s laborious carpentry he would drop work and turn to Dindorf’s Poetae Scenici Graeci, through which they were reading their way.  On Sundays the congregation rarely numbered a dozen.  It seemed that, as the end of the Vicar’s task drew nearer, so the prospect of filling the church receded and became more shadowy.  And if his was a queer plight, Jacky Pascoe’s was queerer.  The Bryanite continued to come by night and help, but at rarer intervals.  He was discomforted in mind, as anyone could see, and at length he took Mr. Raymond aside and made confession.

“I must go away; that’s what ’tis.  My burden is too great for me to bear.”

“Why,” said Mr. Raymond, who had grown surprisingly tolerant during the last twelve months, “what cause have you, of all men, to feel dejected?  You can set the folk here on fire like flax.”  He sighed.

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