Others chose to continue standing, and had turned their faces towards the villagers with a look of melancholy compassion, which was highly amusing to Bessy Cranage, the blacksmith's buxom daughter, known to her neighbours as Chad's Bess, who wondered "why the folks war amakin' faces a that'ns." Chad's Bess was the object of peculiar compassion, because her hair, being turned back under a cap which was set at the top of her head, exposed to view an ornament of which she was much prouder than of her red cheeks--namely, a pair of large round ear-rings with false garnets in them, ornaments condemned not only by the Methodists, but by her own cousin and namesake Timothy's Bess, who, with much cousinly feeling, often wished "them ear- rings" might come to good.
Timothy's Bess, though retaining her maiden appellation among her familiars, had long been the wife of Sandy Jim, and possessed a handsome set of matronly jewels, of which it is enough to mention the heavy baby she was rocking in her arms, and the sturdy fellow of five in kneebreeches, and red legs, who had a rusty milk-can round his neck by way of drum, and was very carefully avoided by Chad's small terrier.
As Polly spoke, both girls looked up and nodded, smilingly; Bess gave Fan the one easy-chair; Becky took an artistic survey of the new-comer, with eyes that seemed to see everything; then each went on with her work, and all began to talk.
Rebecca smiled brightly, and Bess looked round to nod approvingly, but Polly clapped her hands, and said, "Well done, Fan!
"I am humbly grateful to you, Miss; and so is Bess. We are sensible of the ill-convenience we--"
"I wish you good-night, Miss," said the man; "and thank you kindly for Bess and the children."
And though, by the lapse of time, and those mutations which age produces in empires, cities, and boroughs, Queen's Crawley was no longer so populous a place as it had been in Queen Bess
's time-- nay, was come down to that condition of borough which used to be denominated rotten--yet, as Sir Pitt Crawley would say with perfect justice in his elegant way, "Rotten!
She is "Sweetheart" "Dearest Bess
," and he tells to her his troubles and his hopes as to a staunch and true friend.
In like manner, when the aforesaid antiquaries did argue and contend that a certain secret vault was not the tomb of a grey-haired lady who had been hanged and drawn and quartered by glorious Queen Bess
for succouring a wretched priest who fainted of thirst and hunger at her door, the bachelor did solemnly maintain, against all comers, that the church was hallowed by the said poor lady's ashes; that her remains had been collected in the night from four of the city's gates, and thither in secret brought, and there deposited; and the bachelor did further (being highly excited at such times) deny the glory of Queen Bess
, and assert the immeasurably greater glory of the meanest woman in her realm, who had a merciful and tender heart.
Molly, having endeavoured in vain to make a handsome retreat, faced about; and laying hold of ragged Bess
, who advanced in the front of the enemy, she at one blow felled her to the ground.
There is a deer-track a few rods ahead; and now, Bess
, if thou canst muster courage enough to stand fire, I will give thee a saddle for thy Christmas dinner.”
God bless you, dear Queen Bess
! May nothing you dismay, But health and peace and happiness Be yours, this Christmas day.