course, if they had been next in succession, the child would have gone down the waterfall, to save any further trouble; but there was an intercepting branch of some honest family; and they being outlaws, would have a poor chance (though the law loves outlaws) against them. Only Lorna was of the stock; and Lorna they must marry. And what a triumph against the old earl, for a cursed Doone to succeed him!

As for their outlawry, great robberies, and grand murders, the veriest child, nowadays, must know that money heals the whole of that. Even if they had murdered people of a good position, it would only cost about twice as much to prove their motives loyal. But they had never slain any man above the rank of yeoman; and folk even said that my father was the highest of their victims; for the death of Lorna’s mother and brother was never set to their account.

Pure pleasure it is to any man, to reflect upon all these things. How truly we discern clear justice, and how well we deal it. If any poor man steals a sheep, having ten children starving, and regarding it as mountain game (as a rich man does a hare), to the gallows with him. If a man of rank beats down a door, smites the owner upon the head, and honours the wife with attention, it is a thing to be grateful for, and to slouch smitten head the lower.

While we were full of all these things, and wondering what would happen next, or what we ought ourselves to do, another very important matter called for our attention. This was no less than Annie’s marriage to the Squire Faggus. We had tried to put it off again; for in spite of all advantages, neither my mother nor myself had any real heart for it. Not that we dwelled upon Tom’s short-comings or rather perhaps his going too far, at the time when he worked the road so. All that was covered by the King’s pardon, and universal respect of the neighbourhood. But our scruple was this—and the more we talked the more it grew upon us— that we both had great misgivings as to his future steadiness.

For it would be a thousand pities, we said, for a fine, well-grown, and pretty maiden (such as our Annie was), useful too, in so many ways, and lively, and warm-hearted, and mistress of 500 pounds, to throw herself away on a man with a kind of a turn for drinking. If that last were even hinted, Annie would be most indignant, and ask, with cheeks as red as roses, who had ever seen Master Faggus any the worse for liquor indeed? Her own opinion was, in truth, that be took a great deal too little, after all his hard work, and hard riding, and coming over the hills to be insulted! And if ever it lay in her power, and with no one to grudge him his trumpery glass, she would see that poor Tom had the nourishment which his cough and his lungs required.

His lungs being quite as sound as mine, this matter was out of all argument; so mother and I looked at one another, as much as to say, ‘let her go upstairs, she will cry and come down more reasonable.’ And while she was gone, we used to say the same thing over and over again; but without perceiving a cure for it. And we almost always finished up with the following reflection, which sometimes came from mother’s lips, and sometimes from my own: ‘Well, well, there is no telling. None can say how a man may alter; when he takes to matrimony. But if we could only make Annie promise to be a little firm with him!’

I fear that all this talk on our part only hurried matters forward, Annie being more determined every time we pitied her. And at last Tom Faggus came, and spoke as if he were on the King’s road, with a pistol at my head, and one at mother’s. ‘No more fast and loose,’ he cried. ‘either one thing or the other. I love the maid, and she loves me; and we will have one another, either with your leave, or without it. How many more times am I to dance over these vile hills, and leave my business, and get nothing more than a sigh or a kiss, and “Tom, I must wait for mother”? You are famous for being straightforward, you Ridds. Just treat me as I would treat you now.’

I looked at my mother; for a glance from her would have sent Tom out of the window; but she checked me with her hand, and said, ‘You have some ground of complaint, sir; I will not deny it. Now I will be as straight-forward with you, as even a Ridd is supposed to be. My son and myself have all along disliked your marriage with Annie. Not for what you have been so much, as for what we fear you will be. Have patience, one moment, if you please. We do not fear your taking to the highway life again; for that you

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