THE barley was all carried at last, and the harvest suppers went by without
waiting for the dismal black crop of beans. The apples and nuts were gathered
and stored; the scent of whey departed from the farm-houses, and the scent of
brewing came in its stead. The woods behind the Chase, and all the hedgerow
trees, took on a solemn splendour under the dark low-hanging skies. Michaelmas
was come, with its fragrant basketfuls of purple damsons, and its paler purple
daisies, and its lads and lasses leaving or seeking service and winding along
between the yellow hedges, with their bundles under their arms. But though
Michaelmas was come, Mr. Thurle, that desirable tenant, did not come to the
Chase Farm, and the old squire, afler all, had been obliged to put in a new bailiff.
It was known throughout the two parishes that the squire's plan had been
frustrated because the Poysers had refused to be "put upon," and Mrs. Poyser's
outbreak was discussed in all the farm-houses with a zest which was only
heightened by frequent repetition. The news that "Bony" was come back from
Egypt was comparatively insipid, and the repulse of the French in Italy was
nothing to Mrs. Poyser's repulse of the old squire. Mr. Irwine had heard a version
of it in every parishioner's house, with the one exception of the Chase. But since
he had always, with marvellous skill, avoided any quarrel with Mr. Donnithorne,
he could not allow himself the pleasure of laughing at the old gentleman's
discomfiture with any one besides his mother, who declared that if she were rich
she should like to allow Mrs. Poyser a pension for life, and wanted to invite her to
the parsonage that she might hear an account of the scene from Mrs. Poyser's
"No, no, Mother," said Mr. Irwine; "it was a little bit of irregular justice on Mrs.
Poyser's part, but a magistrate like me must not countenance irregular justice.
There must be no report spread that I have taken notice of the quarrel, else I
shall lose the little good influence I have over the old man."
"Well, I like that woman even better than her cream-cheeses," said Mrs. Irwine.
"She has the spirit of three men, with that pale face of hers. And she says such
sharp things too."
"Sharp! Yes, her tongue is like a new-set razor. She's quite original in her talk
too; one of those untaught wits that help to stock a country with proverbs. I told
you that capital thing I heard her say about Craig--that he was like a cock, who
thought the sun had risen to hear him crow. Now that's an AEsop's fable in a
"But it will be a bad business if the old gentleman turns them out of the farm next
Michaelmas, eh?" said Mrs. Irwine.