[From Captain of the Parish, 1897]
THE morning after the Tynwald, the big man was going to Sartal mountain, where the sheep were being collected, for the selecting and branding of the season's lambs.
"If you've got nothing better to do to-day, you might as well come out with me," he said to his son.
An hour later they were on the road to the mountain, Arrosey on his cob, Molroy on his brown horse.
"You haven't seen Enos, then," the big man began. "I met my man at the Tynwald, yesterday."
"Any talk with him, father?"
" Aye, if it's talk you can call it. America is mostly all he's got. 'Even you, Mr. Molroy,' says he, 'would have been better off, if, with all your energy, you had emigrated West years ago.' ' Maybe not, too, Enos,' says I. 'There's no mortgage on Arrosey, nor on Sartal either,' says I."
" You were rather direct with him, father," said Molroy.
" I wasn't what you would call uncivil to him, boy; but my man is changed. 'I'm glad to hear good accounts, Enos,' says I; 'there'll be some energy in yourself, too. We'll be seeing one of these days : you'll be clearing the Cairnmore, and having a place you can call your own,' says I"
"The Cairnmore isn't clear, of course?" said Molroy. Arrosey paid no attention to his son's question, but resumed. "Oh, I said more. I've seen some coming home before today that were big men out West; but they turned out to be nothing in the Isle of Man. 'I'm afraid big men are cheap out West, Enos,' says I"
"But I think you were rough on him," said the son firmly. Still the big man, without noticing the interruption, continued"The Island? No, bless you! If he owned the parish he'd sell out and buy in America. 'Land is land wherever it is, if so be that you've got it. If you haven't, I'll allow it isn't the same thing,' says I. 'You've slaves in the old country. You're in the hands of a few Englishmen. A man may toil and sweat all his life, and see no result,' says he. ' Easy, Enos ! statement isn't proof here,' says I"
"And where had you the talk, father?"
"On the Tynwald Hill. He comes up the steps all the dandy in the world"
Arrosey looked at his son ere he continued.
"Dandy? Bless you, aye! Top-boots, spurs, whip, white waistcoat, big Yankee hat, and long moustache, chain and rings, and gloves. I believe in my heart he had scent."
Arrosey paused. Molroy felt that the sarcasm of his father's tone had reference to himself. He felt a friendly interest in Enos. His curiosity about making Milvartin's acquaintance was distinctly quickened. Enos might prove an interesting man, possibly an acquisition as an acquaintance in the neighbourhood. Then Arrosey resumed.
"And my man points 'cross the heads of the people and the soldiers to the church. 'This little show of yours is all a solemn mockery,' says he, with a wave of the hand. Aw, the men in the Keys and the parsons were looking at him. 'The Church!' says he. ' Church and State!' says he. ' Slavery! chains !' says he.
"'But settle down with a big stake in the Island, and we'll have you in the Keys with us, Enos, man,' says I' 'No, Mr. Molroy,' says he. 'America is a land of freedom, a land of equality, a land of prosperity, of religion, of happiness. It's the land of the future. It's the Paradise of the Bible,' says he. 'Paradise? aw no, Enos,' says I.
"Aw, aye, boy! I can't stand a ranter, and my man had a parcel of them standing below listening to him fine, and their mouths open fit to swallow Paradise itself. Ollikins was beside us, and laughed. I didn't think he had it in him. 'We've got some religion, anyway. What do you think, parson? 'says I. 'Yes; but it's a mere groping after light at the best, a mere groping in darkness,' says he. 'I'm d-d if it is, Enos,' says I. That set more than Ollikins laughing. 'Now, Mr. Molroy,' says Enos, 'I'll come and preach for you in Arrosey Chapel,' says he. 'Are you on the Methodist plan, Enos ? If you are, it's all right; but if not, you'll go head over heels down the brow if you try that,' says I"
"What did he say to that, father?" said Molroy, smiling. "Swallowed it sweet. 'Mr. Molroy,' says he, ' don't lose your temper,' says he. 'No danger of that,' says I: 'I've never lost it yet, my man, and I'm not going to lose it over a joke at a fair,' says I. 'We're old friends and neighbours,' says he, quite soft and easy. ' Glad to have you for a neighbour again, Enos,' says I. 'No, Mr. Molroy, no more slavery for me,' says he."
"And what about his fortune, father?" said Molroy.
"Aw, by all accounts, there's money. But I've seen some big lies told about money before to-day, boy."
Father and son rode on, ruminating in silence on their new neighbour.
"You see, boy, there's a big mortgage on the Cairnmore," he resumed again.
" So I've heard."
"Aye! You know, maybe, who holds it, too?"
"No; I've never asked, and I've never heard," said Molroy frankly.
" Aw, well, boy! I can tell you-it's myself."
Molroy started. He divined that this communication was not being made on the spur of the moment ; that it was made at this juncture of set purpose, and possibly had been the object in view when he had been asked to join his father on his ride to " the mountain " that morning.
"It can't go on much longer in Charley's way," resumed the big man. " It's got to go one of two ways. Now this chap Enos is home, he must do something. I'll tell you soon enough what he's made of. I'll give him a few weeks.
If there's no sign of his moving, I'll move. That's the way things is in that quarter, boy."
Molroy thought of Lizzie. His father also perhaps thought of her, but very differently.
"This chap must show his hand, boy. If he wants the place he must pay ; that's what Enos has got to do," Arrosey resumed. "I thought you might as well know a thing like that, boy," he added conclusively.
Molroy looked down into the ravine below, and the big man straight before him, as they rode along the high mountainroad.
"You've got a new bay mare, I see," said the big man, farther on.
"Yes; to make a tandem pair with Diamond."
" Aye, but you might have spoken to me first, surely."
" I have money enough, and I didn't think you'd like the price."
"I'd like the price if I liked the mare, and I'm not that hard up that I can't give you an extra horse on your hands," said the big man, suppressing as usual his good-nature under an exterior of irritability.
Molroy was touched ; but he was his father's son. "I'd rather leave it as it is now," he said quietly.
Molroy felt that more was to come, that his father meant to speak of something else, and instinctively withdrew into cautious and obstinate reserve.
" That's a middling smart lump of a horse Ellen Molvurra has got on the road," said the big man.
" Yes, it is."
" And 'deed she knows how to sit in the saddle, too," said the big man.
To this Molroy made no response. There was a long pause. Arrosey himself found the topic awkward to handle; and as down the vista of Upper Narradale the dark homestead of Cairnmore was visible, and caught his eye at a bend in the road, it suggested a natural return to the topic of the mortgage. What else he had thought of saying was left unsaid.
" If he doesn't take the mortgage up, I'll likely lose a few hundreds by them," he said contemptuously. " Still the place is there, and it's likely I'll have to be the highest bidder."
" He would live in the place as tenant?" said Molroy carelessly.
"Tenant? him ? No, on no farm of mine. He's done, fair done. He'll not have a farthing piece. Enos will have to do something for the father and mother, and let them rest. The young one will be going out with him to America, it's like," he said, with a sarcastic emphasis on "America."
The dog Flo had by this time sighted the flock gathered by the shepherds in a corner of Sartal grass park, and had burst furiously ahead, and Arrosey took advantage of this diversion to yell to the dog
" Come to heel, here, Flo ! come behind! Blast that dog; to heel, you brute."
Thus they rode up to the flock crowded about the fold in the corner of the mountain pasture.