scattered, yet our courage was but as wind flinging wide the tare-seeds, when the sower casts them from his bag. The crop may not come evenly, many places may long lie bare, and the field be all in patches; yet almost every vetch will spring, and tiller out, and stretch across the scatterings where the wind puffed.

And so dear mother and darling Lorna now had been for many a day thinking, worrying, and wearing, about the matter between us. Neither liked to look at the other, as they used to do; with mother admiring Lorna’s eyes, and grace, and form of breeding; and Lorna loving mother’s goodness, softness, and simplicity. And the saddest and most hurtful thing was that neither could ask the other of the shadow falling between them. And so it went on, and deepened.

In the next place Colonel Stickles’s illness was a grievous thing to us, in that we had no one now to command the troopers. Ten of these were still alive, and so well approved to us, that they could never fancy aught, whether for dinner or supper, without its being forth-coming. If they wanted trout they should have it; if colloped venison, or broiled ham, or salmon from Lynmouth and Trentisoe, or truffles from the woodside, all these were at the warriors’ service, until they lusted for something else. Even the wounded men ate nobly; all except poor Jeremy, who was forced to have a young elder shoot, with the pith drawn, for to feed him. And once, when they wanted pickled loach (from my description of it), I took up my boyish sport again, and pronged them a good jarful. Therefore, none of them could complain; and yet they were not satisfied; perhaps for want of complaining.

Be that as it might, we knew that if they once resolved to go (as they might do at any time, with only a corporal over them) all our house, and all our goods, ay, and our own precious lives, would and must be at the mercy of embittered enemies. For now the Doones, having driven back, as every one said, five hundred men—though not thirty had ever fought with them—were in such feather all round the country, that nothing was too good for them. Offerings poured in at the Doone gate, faster than Doones could away with them, and the sympathy both of Devon and Somerset became almost oppressive. And perhaps this wealth of congratulation, and mutual good feeling between plundered and victim, saved us from any piece of spite; kindliness having won the day, and every one loving every one.

But yet another cause arose, and this the strongest one of all, to prove the need of Stickles’s aid, and calamity of his illness. And this came to our knowledge first, without much time to think of it. For two men appeared at our gate one day, stripped to their shirts, and void of horses, and looking very sorrowful. Now having some fear of attack from the Doones, and scarce knowing what their tricks might be, we received these strangers cautiously, desiring to know who they were before we let them see all our premises.

However, it soon became plain to us that although they might not be honest fellows, at any rate they were not Doones; and so we took them in, and fed, and left them to tell their business. And this they were glad enough to do; as men who have been maltreated almost always are. And it was not for us to contradict them, lest our victuals should go amiss.

These two very worthy fellows—nay, more than that by their own account, being downright martyrs—were come, for the public benefit, from the Court of Chancery, sitting for everybody’s good, and boldly redressing evil. This court has a power of scent unknown to the Common-law practitioners, and slowly yet surely tracks its game; even as the great lumbering dogs, now introduced from Spain, and called by some people ‘pointers,’ differ from the swift gaze-hound, who sees his prey and runs him down in the manner of the common lawyers. If a man’s ill fate should drive him to make a choice between these two, let him rather be chased by the hounds of law, than tracked by the dogs of Equity.

Now, as it fell in a very black day (for all except the lawyers) His Majesty’s Court of Chancery, if that be what it called itself, gained scent of poor Lorna’s life, and of all that might be made of it. Whether through that brave young lord who ran into such peril, or through any of his friends, or whether through that deep old Counsellor, whose game none might penetrate; or through any disclosures of the Italian woman, or even of Jeremy himself; none just now could tell us; only this truth was too clear—Chancery

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