But luck had come to Lingborough. There had not been such crops for twice seven years past.
The lay-away hens’ eggs were brought regularly to the kitchen.
The ducklings were not eaten by rats.
No fowls were stolen.
The tub of pig-meal lasted three times as long as usual.
The cart-wheels and gate-hinges were oiled by unseen fingers.
The mushrooms in the croft gathered themselves and down on a dish in the larder.
It is by small savings that a farm thrives, and Miss Betty’s farm throve.
Everybody worked with more alacrity. Annie the lass said the butter came in a way that made it a pleasure to churn.
The neighbours knew even more than those on the spot. They said—That since Lob came back to Lingborough the hens laid eggs as large as turkeys’ eggs, and the turkeys’ eggs were—oh, you wouldn’t believe the size!
That the cows gave nothing but cream, and that Thomasina skimmed butter off it as less lucky folk skim cream from milk.
That her cheeses were as rich as butter.
That she sold all she made, for Lob took the fairy butter from the old trees in the avenue, and made it up into pats for Miss Betty’s table.
That if you bought Lingborough turnips, you might feed your cows on them all the winter and the milk would be as sweet as new-mown hay.
That horses foddered on Lingborough hay would have thrice the strength of others, and that sheep who cropped Lingborough pastures would grow three times as fat.
That for as good a watchdog as it was, the sheep dog never barked at Lob, a plain proof that he was more than human.
That for all its good luck it was not safe to loiter near the place after dark, if you wished to keep your senses. And if you took so much as a fallen apple belonging to Miss Betty, you might look out for palsy or St. Vitus’ dance, or be carried off bodily to the underground folk.
Finally, that it was well all the cows gave double, for that Lob Lie-by-the-fire drank two gallons of the best cream every day, with curds, porridge, and other dainties to match. But what did that matter, when he had been overheard to swear that luck should not leave Lingborough till Miss Betty owned half the country side?
MISS BETTY IS SURPRISED.
Miss Betty and Miss Kitty having accepted a polite invitation from Mrs. General Dunmaw, went down to tea with that lady one fine evening in this eventful summer.
Death had made a gap or two in the familiar circle during the last fourteen years, but otherwise it was quite the same, except that the lawyer was married and not quite so sarcastic, and that Mrs. Brown Jasey had brought a young niece with her dressed in the latest fashion, which looked quite as odd as new fashions are wont to do, and with a coiffure “enough to frighten the French away,” as her aunt told her.