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The Salamanca Corpus: Wandering Heath (1896)

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And I reckon it's asleep he must have been; for what he caught was not Mrs. Rowett's leg, but the jib-boom of a deep-


laden brigantine. that was running him down in the dark. And as he sprang for it, his boat was crushed by the brigantine's forefoot and went down under his very boot-soles. At the same time he let out a yell, and two or three of the crew ran forward and hoisted him up to the bowsprit and in on deck, safe and sound.

But the brigantine happened to be outward-bound for the River Plate; so that, what with one thing and another, 'twas eleven good months before my grandfather landed again at Port Loe. And who should be the first man he sees standing above the cove but William John Dunn?

“I'm very glad to see you," says William John Dunn.

“Thank you kindly," answers my grandfather; "and how's Mary Polly? ''

"Why, as for that," he says, "she took so much looking after, that I couldn't feel I was keeping her properly under my eye till I married her, last June month."

"You was always one to over-do things," said my grandfather.

“But if you was alive an' well, why didn' you drop us a line? "

Now when it came to talk about '' drop-


ping a line'' my grandfather fairly lost his temper. So he struck William John Dunn on the nose—a thing he had never been known to do before—and William John Dunn hit him back, and the neighbors had to separate them. And next day, William John Dunn took out a summons against him.

Well, the case was tried before the magistrates: and my grandfather told his story from the beginning, quite straightforward, just as I've told it to you. And the magistrates decided that, taking one thing with another, he'd had a great deal of provocation, and fined him five shillings. And there the matter ended. But now you know the reason why I'm William John Dunn's grandson instead of Hendry Watty's.



Where Gerennius' beacon stands

High above Pendower sands;

Where, about the windy Nare,

Foxes breed and falcons pair;

Where the gannet dries a wing

Wet with fishy harvesting,

And the cormorants resort,

Flapping slowly from their sport

With the fat Atlantic shoal,

Homeward to Tregeagle's Hole;—

Walking there, the other day,

In a bight within a bay,

I espied amid the rocks

Bruis'd and jamm'd, the daintiest box,

That the waves had flung and left

High upon an ivied cleft.

Striped it was with white and red,

Satin-lined and carpeted,

Hung with bells, and shaped withal

Like the queer, fantastical

Chinese temples you'll have seen


Pictured upon white Nankin,

Where, assembled in effective

Head-dresses and odd perspective,

Tiny dames and mandarins

Expiate their egg-shell sins

By reclining on their drumsticks,

Waving fans and burning gum-sticks.

Land of poppy and pekoe!

Could thy sacred artists know—

Could they possibly conjecture

How we use their architecture,

Ousting the indignant Joss

For a pampered Flirt or Floss,

Poodle, Blenheim, Skye, Maltese,

Lapped in purple and proud ease,

They might read their god's reproof

Here on blister'd wall and roof;

Scaling lacquer, dinted bells,

Floor befouled of weed and shells,

Where, as erst the tabid curse

Brooded over Pelops' hearse,

Squats the sea-cow, keeping house,

Sibylline, gelatinous. -

Where is Carlo? Tell, O tell,

Echo, from this fluted shell,

In whose concave ear the tides

Murmur what the main confides


Of his compass'd treacheries!

What of Carlo? Did the breeze

Madden to a gale while he,

Curled and cushioned cosily,

Mixed in dreams its angry breathings

With the tinkle of the tea-things

In his mistress' cabin laid?

Nor dyspeptic, nor dismayed,

Drowning in a gentle snore

All the menace of the shore

Thundered from the surf a-lee,

Near and nearer horribly,—

Scamper of affrighted feet,

Voices cursing sail and sheet,

While the tall ship shook in irons- -

All the peril that environs

Vessels 'twixt the wind and rock

Clawing—driving? Did the shock,

As the sunk reef split her back,

First arouse him? Did the crack

Widen swiftly and deposit

Him in homeless night?

Or was it,

Not when wave or wind assailed,

But in waters dumb and veiled,

That a looming shape uprist

Sudden from the Channel mist,

And with crashing, rending bows


Woke him, in his padded house,

To a world of altered features?

Were these panic-ridden creatures

They who, but an hour agone,

Ran with biscuit, ran with bone,

Ran with meats in lordly dishes,

To anticipate his wishes?

But an hour agone? And now how

Vain his once compelling bow-wow!

Little dogs are highly treasured,

Petted, patted, pampered, pleasured:

But when ships go down in fogs,

No one thinks of little dogs.

Ah, but how dost fare, I wonder,

Now thine Argo splits asunder,

Pouring on the wasteful sea

All her precious bales, and thee?

Little use is now to rave,

Calling god or saint to save;

Little use, if choked with salt, a

Prayer to holy John of Malta.

Patron John, he hears thee not.

Or, perchance, in dusky grot

Pale Persephone, repining

For the fields that still are shining,

Shining in her sleepless brain,

Calling "Back! come back again! "


Fain of playmate, fain of pet—

Any drug to slay regret,

Hath from hell upcast an eye

On thy fatal symmetry;

And beguiled her sooty lord

With his brother to accord

For this black betrayal. Else

Nereus in his car of shells

Long ago had cleft the waters

With his natatory daughters

To the rescue: or Poseidon

Sent a fish for thee to ride on—

Such a steed as erst Arion

Reached the mainland high and dry on.

Steed appeareth none, nor pilot!

Little dog, if it be thy lot

To essay the dismal track

Where Odysseus half hung back,

How wilt thou conciliate

That grim mastiff by the gate?

Sure, 'twill puzzle thee to fawn

On his muzzles three that yawn

Antrous; or to find, poor dunce,

Grace in his six eyes at once—

Those red eyes of Cerberus.

Daughters of Oceanus,

Save our darling from this hap!


Arethusa, spread thy lap,

Catch him, and with pinky hands

Bear him to the coral sands,

Where thy sisters sit in school

Carding the Milesian wool:—

Clio, Spio, Beroe,

Opis and Phyllodoce,—

Pass by these, and also pass

Yellow-haired Lycorias;

Pass Ligea, shrill of song—

All the dear surrounding throng;

Lay him at Cyrene's feet

There, where all the rivers meet:

In their waters crystalline

Bathe him clean of weed and brine,

Comb him, wipe his pretty eyes,

Then to Zeus who rules the skies

Call, assembling in a round

Every fish that can be found—

Whale and merman, lobster, cod,

Tiddlebat and demigod:—

''Lord of all the Universe,

We, thy finny pensioners,

Sue thee for the little life

Hurried hence by Hades' wife.

Sooner than she call him her dog,

Change, O change him to a mer-dog!

Re-inspire the vital spark;


Bid him wag his tail and bark,

Bark for joy to wag a tail

Bright with many a flashing scale;

Bid his locks refulgent twine,

Hyacinthe, hyaline;

Bid him gambol, bid him follow

Blithely to the mermen's 'holloa!

'When they call the deep-sea calves

Home with wreathed univalves.

Softly shall he sleep to-night,

Curled on couch of stalagmite,

Soft and sound, if slightly moister

Than the shell-protected oyster.

Grant us this, Omnipotent,

And to Hera shall be sent

One black pearl, but of a size

That shall turn her rivals' eyes

Greener than the greenest snake

Fed in meadow-grass, and make

All Olympus run agog.

Grant for this our darling dog!"

Musing thus, the other day,

In a bight within a bay,

I'd a sudden thought that yet some

Purpose for this piece of jetsom

Might be found; and straight supplied it.

On the turf I knelt beside it,


Disengaged it from the bowlders,

Hoisted it upon my shoulders,

Bore it home, and, with a few

Tin-tacks and a pot of glue,

Mended it, affixed a ledge;

Set it by the elder-hedge;

And in May, with horn and kettle,

Coax'd a swarm of bees to settle.

Here around me now they hum;

And in autumn should you come

Westward to my Cornish home,

There'll be honey in the comb—

Honey that, with clotted cream

(Though I win not your esteem

As a bard), will prove me wise,

In that, of the double prize

Sent by Hermes from the sea,

I've Sold the song and kept the bee-hive.



As Boutigo's Van (officially styled the "Vivid") slackened its already inconsiderable pace at the top of the street, to slide precipitately down into Troy upon a heated skid, the one outside passenger began to stare about him with the air of a man who compares present impressions with old memories. His eyes travelled down the inclined plane of slate roofs, glistening in a bright interval between two showers, to the masts which rocked slowly by the quays, and — from thence to the silver bar of sea beyond the harbor's mouth, where the outline of Battery Point wavered unsteadily in the dazzle of sky and water. He sniffed the fragrance of pilchards cooking and the fumes of pitch blown from the ship-builders' yards; and scanned with some curiosity the men and women who drew aside into doorways to let the van pass.

He was a powerfully made man of about


sixty-five, with a solemn, hard-set face. The upper lip was clean-shaven and the chin decorated with a square, grizzled beard—a mode of wearing the hair that gave prominence to the ugly lines of the mouth. He wore a Sunday-best suit and a silk hat. He carried a blue band-box on his knees, and his enormous hands were spread over the cover. Boutigo, who held the reins beside him, seemed, in comparison with this mighty passenger, but a trivial accessory of his own vehicle.

“Where did you say William Dendle lives?" asked the big man, as the van swung round a sharp corner and came to a halt under the sign-board of "The Lugger."

''Straight on for maybe quarter of a mile —turn down a court to the right, facin' the toll-house. You'll see his sign, 'W. Dendle, Block and Pump Manufacturer.' There's a flight o' steps leadin' 'ee slap into his workshop."

The passenger set his hand-box down on the cobbles between his ankles and counted out the fare.

"I'll be goin' back to-night. Is there any reduction on a return journey? "

"No, sir; 'tisn' the rule, an' us can't


begin to cheapen the fee wi' a man o' your inches.''

The stranger apparently disliked levity. He stared at Boutigo, picked up his bandbox, and strode down the street without more words.

By the red and yellow board opposite the toll-house he paused for a moment or two in the sunshine, as if to rehearse the speech with which he meant to open his business. A woman passed him with a child in her arms, and turned her head to stare. The stranger looked up and caught her eye.

“That's Dendle's shop down the steps," she said, somewhat confused at being caught.

"Thank you; I know."

He turned in at the doorway and began to descend. The noise of persistent hammering echoed within the workshop at his feet. A workman came out into the yard, carrying a plank.

“Is William Dendle here? "

The man looked up and pointed at the quay-door, which stood open, with threads of light wavering over its surface. Beyond it, against an oblong of green water, rocked a small yacht's mast.


“He's down on the yacht there. Shall 1 say you want en? "

"No." The stranger stepped to the quay-door and looked down the ladder. On the deck below him stood a man about his own age and proportions, fitting a block. His flannel shirt hung loosely about a magnificent pair of shoulders, and was tucked up at the sleeves, about the bulge of his huge forearms. He wore no cap, and as he stooped the light wind puffed back his hair,. which was gray and fine.

“Hi, there—William Dendle! "

“Hullo!" The man looked up quickly.

“Can you spare a word? Don't trouble to come up—I'll climb down to you."

He went down the ladder carefully, hugging the band-box in his left arm.

“You disremember me, I dessay," he began, as he stood on the yacht's deck.

"Well, I do, to be sure. Oughtn't to, though, come to look on your size.''

“Samuel Badgery's my name. You an' me had a hitch to wrestlin' once, over to Tregarrick feast."

"Why, o' course. I mind your features now, though 'tis forty years since. We was standards there an' met i' the last round,


an' I got the wust o't. Terrible hard you pitched me, to be sure; but your sweetheart was a-watchin' 'ee — hey? — wi' her blue eyes.''

Samuel Badgery sat down on deck, with a leg on either side of the band-box.

"Iss; she was there, as you say. An' she married me that day month. How do you know her eyes were blue? ''

“Oh, I dunno. Young men takes notice o' these trifles."

"She died last week."

"Indeed? Pore soul! "

“An' she left you this by her will. 'Twas hers to leave, for I gave it to her, mysel', when that day's wrestlin' was over."

He removed the lid of the band-box and pulled out two parcels wrapped in a pile of tissue-paper. After removing sheet upon sheet of this paper he held up two glittering objects in the sunshine. The one was a silver mug; the other a leather belt with an elaborate silver buckle.

William Dendle wore a puzzled and somewhat uneasy look.

"I reckon she saw how disappointed I was that day," he said. After a pause he added, "Women brood over such things, I


b'lieve; for years, I'm told. 'Tis their unsearchable natur'."

"William Dendle, I wish you'd speak truth."

“What have I said that's false? "

“Nuthin'; an' you've said nuthin' that's true. I charge 'ee to tell me the facts about that hitch of our'n."

"You're a hard man, Sam. Badgery. I hope, though, you've been soft to your wife. I mind—if you must have the tale—how you played very rough that day. There was a slim young chap—Nathan Oke, his name was—that stood up to you i' the second round. He wasn' ha'f your match; you might ha' pitched en flat-handed. An' yet you must needs give en the ' flyin' mare.' Your maid's face turned lily-white as he dropped. Two of his ribs went cr-rk! You could hear it right across the ring. I looked at her—she was close beside me—an' saw the tears come; that's how I know the color of her eyes. Then there was that small blacksmith—you dropped en slap on the tail of his spine. I wondered if you knew the mortal pain o' bein' flung that way, an' I swore to mysel' that if we met i' the last round, you should taste it.


“Well, we met, as you know. When I was stripped, an' the folks made way for me to step into the ring, I saw her face again. 'Twas whiter than ever, an' her eyes went over me in a kind o' terror. I reckon it dawned on her that I might hurt you; but I didn' pay her much heed at the time, for I lusted after the prize, an' I got savage. You was standin' ready for me, wi' the sticklers about you, an' I looked you up an' down — a brave figure of a man. You'd longer arms than me, an' two inches to spare in height; prettier shoulders, too, I'd never clapp'd eyes on. But I guessed myself a trifle the deeper an' a trifle the cleaner i' the matter o' loins an' quarters; an' I promised that I'd outlast 'ee.

"You got the sun an' the best hitch, an' after a rough an' tumble piece o' work, we went down togither, you remember—no fair back. The second hitch was just about equal; an' I gripped up the sackin' round your shoulders an' held you off, an' meant to keep you off till you was weak. Ten good minnits I laboured with 'ee by the stickler's watch, an' you heaved an' levered in vain, till I heard your breath alter its pace, an' felt the strength tricklin' out o' you, an'


knew 'ee for a done man. ' Now,' thinks I, ' half a minnit more, an' you shall learn how the blacksmith felt.' I glanced up over your shoulder for a moment at the folks i' the ring; an' who should my eye light on but your girl.

." I hadn't got a sweetheart then, an' I've never had one since—never saw another woman who could ha' looked what she looked. I was condemned a single man there on the spot; an', what's more, I was condemned to lose the belt. There was that 'pon her face that no man is good enow to cause; an' there was suthin I wanted to see instead—just for a moment—that I could ha' given forty silver mugs to fetch up." An' I looked at her over your shoulders wi' a kind o' question i' my face, an' I did fetch it up. The next moment you had your chance and cast me flat. When I came round—-for you were always an ugly player, Sam Badgery—an' the folks was consolin' me, I gave a look in her direction; but she had no eyes for me at all. She was usin' all her dear deceit to make 'ee think you was a hero. So home I went, an' never set eyes 'pon her agen. That's the tale; an' I didn't want to tell it. But we'm old gaffers


both by this time, an' I couldn' make this here belt meet round my middle, if I wanted to."

Sam Badgery straightened his upper lip.

“No. I got a call from the Lord a year after we was married, an' gave up wrestlin'. My poor wife found grace about the same time, an' since then we've been preachers of the Word togither for nigh on forty years. If our work had lain in Cornwall, I'd have sought you out an' wrestled with you again— not in the flesh, but in the spirit. Man, I'd have shown you the Kingdom of Heaven! ''

"Thank 'ee," answered Dendle; "but I got a glimse o't once—from your wife."

The other stared, failing to understand this speech. What puzzled him always annoyed him. He set down the cup' and belt on the yacht's deck, shook hands abruptly, and hurried back to the inn, where already Boutigo was harnessing for the return journey.




0 toiling hands of mortals! 0 unwearied feet, travelling ye know not whither! Soon, soon, it seems to you, you must come forth on some conspicuous hilltop, and but a little way further, against the setting sun, descry the spires of El Dorado. Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labor"—R. L. Stevenson.

“Eucalyptus lies on the eastern slope of the Rockies. It will be fourteen years back this autumn that the coach dropped me there, somewhere about nine in the evening, and Hewson, who was waiting, took me straight to his red-pine house, high up among the foot-hills. The front of it hung over the edge of a waterfall, down which Hewson sent his logs with a pleasing certainty of their reaching Eucalyptus sooner or later; and right at the back the pines climbed


away up to the snow-line. You remember the story of Daniel O'Rourke; how an eagle carried him up to the moon, and how he found it as smooth as an egg-plum, with just a reaping-hook sticking out of its side to grip hold of? Hewson's veranda reminded me of that reaping-hook; and, as a matter of fact, the cliff was so deeply undercut that a plummet, if it could be let through between your heels, would drop clean into the basin below the fall.

“The house was none of Hewson's building. Hewson was a bachelor, and could have made shift with a two-roomed cabin for himself and his men. He had taken the place over from a New Englander, who had made his pile by running the lumbering business up here, and a saw-mill down in the valley at the same time. The place seemed dog-cheap at the time, but after a while it began to dawn upon Hewson that the Yankee had the better of the deal. Eucalyptus had not come up to early promise. In fact it was slipping back and down the hill with a run. Already five out of its seven big saw-mills were idle and rotting. Its original architect had sunk to a blue-faced and lachrymose bar-loafer, and the roll


of plans which he carried about with him— with their unrealized boulevards, churches, municipal buildings, and band-kiosks—had passed into a dismal standing joke. Hewson was even now deliberating whether to throw up the game or toss good money after bad by buying up a saw-mill and running it as his predecessor had done.

“‘It's like a curse,' he explained to me at breakfast next morning. ' The place is afflicted like one of those unfortunate South Sea potentates, who flourish up to the age of fourteen and then cipher out, and not a soul to know why. First of all, there's the lumbering. Well, here's the timber all right; only Bellefont, farther down the valley, has cut us out. Then we had the cinnabar mines—you may see them along the slope to northward, right over the west end of the town. They went well for about sixteen months; and then came the stampede. A joker in the Bellefont Sentinel wrote that the miners up in Eucalyptus were complaining of the "insufficiency of exits;" and he wasn't far out. Last there were the '' Temperate Airs and Reinvigorating Pine-odors of America's Peerless Sanitarium. Come and behold: Come and be healed! '' The pro-


moters billed that last cursed jingle up and down the States till as far south as Mexico it became the pet formula for an invitation to drink. Well, for three years we averaged something like a couple of hundred invalids, and doctors in fair proportion; and I never heard that either did badly. It was an error of judgment, perhaps, to start our municipal works with a costly Necropolis, or rather the gateway of one; two marble pillars, if you please—the only stonework in Eucalyptus to this day—with "Campo" on one side and "Santo" on the other. No healthy-minded person would be scared by this; but the invalids complained that we'd made the feature too salient, and the architect has gone ever since by the name of "Huz and Buz," bestowed on him by some wag who meant "Jachin and Boaz," but hadn't Scripture enough to know it. Anyhow the temperate airs and pine-odors are a frost. There's nobody, I fancy, living at Eucalyptus just now for the benefit of his health, and I belive that at this moment you're the only doctor within twenty miles of the place.'

"'Well,' said I, 'I'll step down this morning anyway, and take a look.'


“'You can saddle the brown horse, whenever you like. You were too sleepy to take note of it last night, but you came up here by a track fit for a lady's pony-carriage. My predecessor engineered it to connect his two places of business. In its way, it's the most palatial thing in the Rockies—two long legs with a short tack between, gentle all the way—and it brings you out by the Necropolis gate. You can hitch the horse up there.'

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