“Allen, you special pleader, it really will not do! If I had not undertaken Essie and Ellie, I might think about it, but I promised your aunt not to have any other pupils.”
Allen bothered Essie and Ellie, but was forced to acquiesce, which was fortunate, for when on the last day of the holidays it was found that he had walked to River Hollow to take leave of the Goulds, his aunt administered to his mother a serious warning on the dangers of allowing him to become intimate there.
Caroline tingled all over during the discourse, and at last jumped up, exclaiming-
“My dear Ellen, half the harm in the world is done by making a fuss. Things don’t die half so hard when they die a natural death.”
Ellen knew Carey thought she had said something very clever, but was all the more unconvinced.
CHAPTER XII. KING MIDAS.
When I did him at this advantage take,
An ass’s nowl I fixed upon his head.
Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In the early spring an unlooked-for obstacle arose to all wanderings in the Belforest woods. The owner returned and closed the gates. >From time that seemed immemorial, the inhabitants of Kenminster had disported themselves there as if the grounds had been kept up for their sole behoof, and their indignation at the monopoly knew no bounds.
Nobody saw Mr. Barnes save his doctor, whose carriage was the only one admitted within the lodge gates, intending visitors being there informed that Mr. Barnes was too unwell to be disturbed.
Mrs. “Folly” Brownlow’s aberrations lost their interest in the Coffinkey world beside the mystery of Belforest. Opinions varied as to his being a miser, or a lunatic, a prey to conscience, disease, or deformity; and reports were so diverse, that at the “Folly” a journal was kept of them, with their dates, as a matter of curiosity-their authorities marked:-
March 4th.-Mr. Barnes eats nothing but fresh turtle. Brings them down in tubs alive and flapping. Mrs. Coffinkey’s Jane heard them cooing at the station. Gives his cook three hundred pounds per annum.
5th.-Mr. Barnes so miserly, that he turned away the housemaid for burning candles eight to the pound. (H. S. H.)
6th.-Mr. B. keeps a bloodhound trained to hunt Indians, and has six pounds of prime beef steaks for it every day. (Emma.)
8th.-Mr. B.’s library is decorated with a string of human ears, the clippings of his slaves in “the Indies.” (Nurse.)
12th.-Mr. B. whipped a little black boy to death, and is so haunted by remorse, that he can’t sleep without wax-candles burning all round him. (Mrs. Coffinkey’s sister-in-law.)
14th.-Mr. Barnes’s income is five hundred thousand pounds, and he does not live at the rate of two hundred pounds. (Col. Brownlow.)
l5th.-He has turned off all his gardeners, and the place will be desolation. (H. S. H.)