Helbeck of Bannisdale — Volume I
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Helbeck of Bannisdale — Volume I

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Project Gutenberg's Helbeck of Bannisdale, Vol. I., by Mrs. Humphry WardCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: Helbeck of Bannisdale, Vol. I.Author: Mrs. Humphry WardRelease Date: December, 2005 [EBook #9441] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was firstposted on October 1, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HELBECK OF BANNISDALE, VOL. I. ***Produced by Andrew Templeton, Juliet Sutherland, Thomas Berger, and PG Distributed ProofreadersHELBECK OF BANNISDALEbyMRS. HUMPHRY WARD… metus ille … Acheruntis … Funditus humanam qui vitam turbat ab imoIn two volumesVol. I ...

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Project Gutenberg's Helbeck of Bannisdale, Vol. I.,
by Mrs. Humphry Ward
Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be
sure to check the copyright laws for your country
before downloading or redistributing this or any
other Project Gutenberg eBook.
This header should be the first thing seen when
viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not
remove it. Do not change or edit the header
without written permission.
Please read the "legal small print," and other
information about the eBook and Project
Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included is
important information about your specific rights and
restrictions in how the file may be used. You can
also find out about how to make a donation to
Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.
**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla
Electronic Texts**
**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By
Computers, Since 1971**
*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands
of Volunteers!*****
Title: Helbeck of Bannisdale, Vol. I.Author: Mrs. Humphry Ward
Release Date: December, 2005 [EBook #9441]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of
schedule] [This file was first posted on October 1,
2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG
EBOOK HELBECK OF BANNISDALE, VOL. I. ***
Produced by Andrew Templeton, Juliet Sutherland,
Thomas Berger, and PG Distributed ProofreadersHELBECK OF BANNISDALE
by
MRS. HUMPHRY WARD
… metus ille … Acheruntis … Funditus
humanam qui vitam turbat ab imo
In two volumes
Vol. I.
To
E. de V.
In Memoriam
CONTENTS
BOOK I
BOOK II
BOOK IIIBOOK I
CHAPTER I
"I must be turning back. A dreary day for anyone
coming fresh to these parts!"
So saying, Mr. Helbeck stood still—both hands
resting on his thick stick—while his gaze slowly
swept the straight white road in front of him and
the landscape to either side.
Before him stretched the marsh lands of the Flent
valley, a broad alluvial plain brought down by the
rivers Flent and Greet on their way to the estuary
and the sea. From the slight rising ground on which
he stood, he could see the great peat mosses
about the river-mouths, marked here and there by
lines of weather-beaten trees, or by more solid
dots of black which the eye of the inhabitant knew
to be peat stacks. Beyond the mosses were level
lines of greyish white, where the looping rivers
passed into the sea—lines more luminous than the
sky at this particular moment of a damp March
afternoon, because of some otherwise invisible
radiance, which, miles away, seemed to be shining
upon the water, slipping down to it from behind a
curtain of rainy cloud.
Nearer by, on either side of the high road which cut
the valley from east to west, were black and
melancholy fields, half reclaimed from the peatmoss, fields where the water stood in the furrows,
or a plough driven deep and left, showed the
nature of the heavy waterlogged earth, and the
farmer's despair of dealing with it, till the drying
winds should come. Some of it, however, had long
before been reclaimed for pasture, so that strips of
sodden green broke up, here and there, the long
stretches of purple black. In the great dykes or
drains to which the pastures were due, the water,
swollen with recent rain, could be seen hurrying to
join the rivers and the sea. The clouds overhead
hurried like the dykes and the streams. A perpetual
procession from the north-west swept inland from
the sea, pouring from the dark distance of the
upper valley, and blotting out the mountains that
stood around its head.
A desolate scene, on this wild March day; yet full of
a sort of beauty, even so far as the mosslands
were concerned. And as Alan Helbeck's glance
travelled along the ridge to his right, he saw it
gradually rising from the marsh in slopes, and
scars, and wooded fells, a medley of lovely lines, of
pastures and copses, of villages clinging to the
hills, each with its church tower and its white
spreading farms—a laud of homely charm and
comfort, gently bounding the marsh below it, and
cut off by the seething clouds in the north-west
from the mountains towards which it climbed. And
as he turned homewards with the moss country
behind him, the hills rose and fell about him in soft
undulation more and more rich in wood, while
beside him roared the tumbling Greet, with its
flood-voice—a voice more dear and familiar to AlanHelbeck perhaps, at this moment of his life, than
the voice of any human being.
He walked fast with his shoulders thrown back, a
remarkably tall man, with a dark head and short
grizzled beard. He held himself very erect, as a
soldier holds himself; but he had never been a
soldier.
Once in his rapid course, he paused to look at his
watch, then hurried on, thinking.
"She stipulates that she is never to be expected to
come to prayers," he repeated to himself, half
smiling. "I suppose she thinks of herself as
representing her father—in a nest of Papists.
Evidently Augustina has no chance with her—she
has been accustomed to reign! Well, we shall let
her 'gang her gait.'"
His mouth, which was full and strongly closed, took
a slight expression of contempt. As he turned over
a bridge, and then into his own gate on the further
side, he passed an old labourer who was scraping
the mud from the road.
"Have you seen any carriage go by just lately,
Reuben?"
"Noa—" said the man. "Theer's been none this last
hour an more—nobbut carts, an t' Whinthrupp
bus."
Helbeck's pace slackened. He had been very
solitary all day, and even the company of the oldroad-sweeper was welcome.
"If we don't get some drying days soon, it'll be bad
for all of us, won't it, Reuben?"
"Aye, it's a bit clashy," said the man, with stolidity,
stopping to spit into his hands a moment, before
resuming his work.
The mildness of the adjective brought another half-
smile to Helbeck's dark face. A stranger watching it
might have wondered, indeed, whether it could
smile with any fulness or spontaneity.
"But you don't see any good in grumbling—is that
it?"
"Noa—we'se not git ony profit that gate, I reckon,"
said the old man, laying his scraper to the mud
once more.
"Well, good-night to you. I'm expecting my sister
to-night, you know, my sister Mrs. Fountain, and
her stepdaughter."
"Eh?" said Reuben slowly. "Then yo'll be hevin
cumpany, fer shure.
Good-neet to ye, Misther Helbeck."
But there was no great cordiality in his tone, and
he touched his cap carelessly, without any sort of
unction. The man's manner expressed familiarity of
long habit, but little else.
Helbeck turned into his own park. The road that ledup to the house wound alongside the river, whereof
the banks had suddenly risen into a craggy
wildness. All recollection of the marshland was left
behind. The ground mounted on either side of the
stream towards fell-tops, of which the distant lines
could be seen dimly here and there behind the
crowding trees; while, at some turns of the road,
where the course of the Greet made a passage for
the eye, one might look far away to the same
mingled blackness of cloud and scar that stood
round the head of the estuary. Clearly the
mountains were not far off; and this was a border
country between their ramparts and the sea.
The light of the March evening was dying, dying in
a stormy greyness that promised more rain for the
morrow. Yet the air was soft, and the spring made
itself felt. In some sheltered places by the water,
one might already see a shimmer of buds; and in
the grass of the wild untended park, daffodils were
springing. Helbeck was conscious of it all; his eye
and ear were on the watch for the signs of growth,
and for the birds that haunted the river, the dipper
on the stone, the grey wagtail slipping to its new
nest in the bank, the golden-crested wren, or dark-
backed creeper moving among the thorns. He
loved such things; though with a silent and jealous
love that seemed to imply some resentment
towards other things and forces in his life.
As he walked, the manner of the old peasant
rankled a little in his memory. For it implied, if not
disrespect, at least a complete absence of all that
the French call "consideration."