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THE END OF A TUMULT.
"Stop!" he shouted; "stop!" and, taking advantage of the momentary pause, he made his way to the Governor.
"Let me speak to them, sir," he said; "I think I can bring them to reason."
But Lord Eynesford's spirit was roused.
"I must request you to leave the matter to me, Mr. Medland," he answered stiffly. "They have had their opportunity of submitting to the law peaceably, and they have chosen to disregard it."
"If you will give me five minutes, sir," said Medland very humbly. He loved the rough fellows who were acting so foolishly: perhaps something in his words had given them an excuse. He could not bear to think of them coming to harm, even through their own fault.
"I can't, sir," answered the Governor sharply. "I have the dignity of the Crown, which I represent, to think of. Pray stand aside, sir;" and he added to the Colonel--"Your orders are not altered."
Medland's quick eye measured the distance between him and the rioters. He was standing near the Governor, at the side of the troops, but a little in advance of their line. A run might bring him to them before the troops could reach them. If they did not resist there could be no bloodshed. There was yet a chance, and suddenly he dashed across in front of the line, crying, "Don't resist! don't resist!"
At the very moment of his start the Colonel had given the word to charge. No man saw clearly how it happened, but there was a forward dash, then an exclamation from one of the Volunteers, as he reined his horse back on its haunches, a wild cry from the barricade, and a loud shout, "Halt!" from Kilshaw. The line was stopped, and Kilshaw rode swiftly up to where the trooper had wrenched back his horse. Medland lay on the ground in front of the horse. The man had seen him too late to avoid him; he had been knocked down and trampled with the hoofs. His face was pale, and a slight twist of the features told of pain. He held his hand to his right side.
Kilshaw was off his horse in an instant.
"Back there, back!" he cried. "Don't crowd on him."
The Governor rode up; a group gathered round. There was no more thought of the charge. The rioters, after an instant, broke the barricade and came out, one by one, timidly making for the spot.
"Here," whispered Kilshaw to Dick Derosne, "you lift his head. He won't want to see me," and he drew back behind the wounded man.
The Governor dismounted and stood by his brother, but before Dick could lift Medland's head, a rough woman, in a coarse gown, pushed through, elbowing him and Lord Eynesford aside.
"Let me, gentlemen," she said, her eyes full of tears, as she pillowed his head in her lap. "He's always been for us, Mr. Medland has," she explained. "Give me a clean handkerchief, one of you."
The Governor handed his, and she wiped the clammy moisture from the forehead and hands.
Medland opened his eyes.
"The horse kicked me in the side," he murmured faintly, "here, on the right--low down. I'm in pain."
Then he saw Dick Derosne.
"Mr. Derosne!" he called faintly, and Dick knelt down to listen. "Tell your sister I believe."
"What?" asked Dick in sheer surprise.
"You heard?" asked Medland petulantly.
"Yes--that you believe."
"Well, tell her," and he turned away his head.
There was a little bustle outside the group, and then Big Todd burst through.
"Is he killed?" he cried.
Medland saw him and stretched out his hand. Big Todd caught it, and the dying man pressed the fellow's knotted fist. Perhaps he saw in Todd the type of the "Great Beast," clumsy, often wrong-headed, but honest at heart, that he loved and worked for.
"What did you want to be such an infernal fool for, man?" he said, with a little smile. Then his eyes closed, and the woman wiped his forehead and kissed him.
The group round him drew back, leaving the woman and Todd near him. Presently some dozen of the rioters brought the top of a table from their barricade, and lifted him on to it. Then Big Todd spoke to the Governor.
"There'll be no more fighting," he said. "I'll give myself up, but I'd like to help the chaps to take him home first."
The Governor nodded, and they raised the table on their shoulders and set out for Kirton. Behind them came the woman and a few more of the same class; some children stole out from the back of the gaol and took their places. After them marched the rioters, and last of all the Governor, his party, and the troops. And in this order the procession passed along. And some time before it had gone far, Medland bled to death inwardly; his strength failed him and he gave a convulsive shiver, opened his eyes for the last time to the sky, and then lay still under the rough coat that Big Todd had thrown over him.
"Dick, Dick," whispered the Governor, when they came near Government House, "ride on and tell them."
Lady Eynesford, Eleanor Scaife, and Alicia were standing at the gate. They had hardly seen the procession turn a corner and come into sight before Dick galloped up.
"What is it, Dick?" cried Lady Eynesford. "Willie's not hurt?"
"No--it's--it's Mr. Medland."
Eleanor was standing by Alicia, and she felt a sudden clutch on her arm.
"What has happened?" she asked.
"I'm afraid he's very badly hurt," answered Dick, and drawing near his sister he whispered, "Al, he sent you a message. I don't know what it means, but--he believes."
One swift glance told him she heard, then her eyes fixed themselves on the advancing crowd, and the burden the men carried.
They halted a moment. The table was lowered; a man--apparently a doctor--had ridden up. He looked at the burden they bore, then he spread the rough coat again over the body and signed to them to go on. Dick stepped forward and asked a question. Returning, he said briefly,
Alicia swayed heavily against Eleanor Scaife. Eleanor threw her arm round her waist, and answered the moan she heard with--"Hush, darling!" while Alicia, with parted lips and straining eyes, watched him carried by.
As they had escorted him home on the day when he first became their ruler, so they took him to his home now, the throng of mourners ever growing as the people poured out of the town to meet them, until they reached his house and halted before his door, waiting for some one who should dare to carry the news to the fair-haired girl who had met him in triumph when he came before.
In Kirton the name of "Jimmy Medland" is still remembered, and his grave does not lack continual flowers. In far-off England few remember him, and his name is seldom spoken, save when a very old white-haired man comes to stay with a lady in one of the Midland shires. Then, when they are alone, when her husband has gone hunting and the children are away, and there is no other ear to listen, Alicia will sometimes talk to Sir John of Mr. Medland, what he was and was not, what he did and dreamed, how he lived and died, and how the men of Kirton love his memory.
"It all seems like a dream now," she says, "but it's a dream I can never forget."
And Sir John presses her hand, for perhaps he guesses what she has not told him.
His daughter wrote on his tomb nothing except his name; but a wandering Englishman, who heard his story, and recollected the grave of another who died with his work undone, has rudely scratched at the base, near the ground, where the grass half hides it, an epitaph for him--Plura moliebatur. And he told Big Todd, whom he chanced to find smoking his evening pipe hard by, that it meant "He had more work in hand."
"Ay, trust old Jimmy!" said Big Todd, with a curious wave of his great hand towards the grave. Had such a thing been at all in his way, one might have thought it was a benediction.
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