[The Old Fiddler]
Oh, so drowsy! in a daze,
Sweating 'mid the golden haze,
With its smithy like an eye,
Glaring bloodshot at the sky;
And its one white row of street,
Carpeted so green and sweet,
And the loungers, smoking still,
Over gate and window-sill,
Nothing coming, nothing going,
Landrail craking, one cock crowing
Few things moving up and down,
All things drowsy.
AT the head of
the Duddon estuary, which divides the high lands of Furness from the
south-western border of Cumberland, the little town of Broughton
clothes the lower part of a green hill-side with quaint streak of
quiet life. It is in Lancashire; although fifty miles of rural
scenery lie between it and those swarming hives of manufacture which
characterise the southern part of the county. Broughton has no
affinity, either in appearance or in habit, with that weltering sea
of restless toil. Its antique gables and leaf-strewn paths
belong to the pastoral hills of a secluded land; and its way of life
smacks of the far-back olden time. Long before Saxon Harold
fell at Hastings, it nestled on that woodland slope, watching, with
sleepy eyes, the ebb and flow of the western waves. The voices
of nature have sung its nightly lullaby for a thousand years.
Its thoughts are in the direction of crops; and its trade hath been
in cattle all its days. The green country laps it round with
fruitful leas and rustling boskage; and a little way from its
gardened skirts, the charcoal-burner rears his conical hut of
wickerwork in the woods, even to this day. From outlying
pastures the low of kine comes up into the market place upon the
evening air; and patches of wildwood, and orchard trees, gush over
its rooflets, here and there, with feathered minstrels upon every
bough. It never heard the cry of the news-boy, nor the ring of
a factory bell; and cheap trips have not found it out. . . . In the
heart of a varied paradise it dozes upon the mountain side a land
of bloomy hill and dale lush pastures, and clear streams, wild
waving woods, rich fields of grain, and mountain-slopes that swarm
with cattle, even to the rugged tops, where the heather-flower
tinges the wilderness with purple hue, and the rowan-tree rustles in
the wind among the ruins of Druidical temples. And, here and
there, in nooks of verdant shade, the scattered homesteads of a
sturdy race adorn the pleasant land with nests of rural life.
In front of the town lie the far-spreading sands, over which
"majestic Duddon glides on in silence with unfettered sway;" and,
from behind the hill, upon which it reposes, romantic Cumberland
stretches away northward, with its lakes and mountains. About
seven miles westward, along the north shore of the estuary, that
gloomy sentinel of the hills, Black Coomb,
To far-travelled storms of sea and land,
A favourite spot of tournament and war,
boldly overfrowns the heaving sea. Near the foot of that mountain's
southern steep, in a scene of quiet natural beauty, nestle the
ancient church and hamlet of Millom, and the ruins of Millom Castle,
once the feudal stronghold of the Huddleston family. South of
Broughton lies a great tract of picturesque country, rich in story
and antique remains. First come the hills and dales of Furness sweet
sequestered Furness, with its quaint hamlets; its old halls and
churches; its relics of the ancient Celtic race; its ruined castles
and monastic remains; Dalton Tower; Gleaston Castle; the ragged mass
of Peel Castle, on its wild islet, near the shore; and the
magnificent ruins of Furness Abbey, deep-bosomed in their cloistral
glen. Looking farther south, beyond old Ulpha's pleasant Saxon town,
the sands of the Leven spread out into wide Morecambe Bay, whose
waters lave the site of many an ancient hamlet. On the west, the
blue waves of the Irish Channel close the scene on the east, the eye
wanders from the thick woods of Holker up to Humphrey Head and wild
Hampsfell, between which rests the grey town of Cartmel, and its
noble priory church, with the hills rising in craggy ridges behind. Still farther south, we pass by balmy, flower-embroidered "Grange,"
and by the little island paradise of "Holme," we cross the "Keir,"
and we cross the "Kent," to where the round top of "Arnside Knot"
throws its shadow upon the mouldering pile of Arnside Tower, grey
chieftain of its solitary vale. Over secluded Silverdale, and
Wharton's barren crag, we wander still, to where the towers of
"time-honoured Lancaster" crown the historic steep, at whose foot
flow the pleasant waters of the river Lune, "that to old Loncaster
his name doth lend." Beyond this, the blue fells of Bleasdale bound
the southern view; and, in the southwest, the landscape dies away
upon the wide green level of the Fylde. Such is the view from the
top of the hill which rises up from Broughton town. . . . About a
mile northwest of Broughton, the river Duddon, after rushing through
a wooded gorge, flows over the widening sands, into the Irish Sea. Leaving the shepherd and his flock upon the mountain side, it
descends from its stormy birth-place in many a wild leap; in moody
freaks, and elfish waterpranks,in gentle windings, and little
falls, and lingering pools where the sunbeams love to bathe, the
limpid stream comes down into the valley which its beauty makes so
And through the wilderness a passage
Attended but by its own voice, save when
The clouds and the fowls of the air pursue its way.
About fifteen miles from its source, "cloud-born Duddon" meets the
teeming tide of the estuary, near Broughton town and, thenceforth,
like a child dying in its unsullied loveliness, it mingles again
with the mysterious sea. Broughton sees the sweet farewell of Duddon's charmed stream. . . . At the head of the town stands the
grey tower of the Broughtons, of Broughton, among its ancient trees. Here, in Saxon times, dwelt the lordly thanes who ruled over the
little hamlet at the foot of the hill. Mr. West, in his "Antiquities of Furness," says of the Broughtons, of Broughton,
"This was an Anglo-Saxon family, of high antiquity, in whose
possession the manor of Broughton had remained from time immemorial,
and whose chief seat was at Broughton, till the reign of Henry the
Seventh." It seems that then their vast possessions passed into the
hands of the Stanley family and a turn of obscurity came to the
proud old Broughtons; for, thenceforth, they almost entirely
disappear from the page of history. Such, however, were the ancient
lords of Broughton; and such is the picturesque setting of the
little rural gem, the drowsy hamlet on the mountain side, which is
the scene of the following story.
Then first they ate the white puddings,
And then they ate the black, oh,
An' muckle the guidwife thocht to hersel',
But deil a word she spak, oh.
IT was on a
sultry summer day, and the town of Broughton lay sleeping in the
noontide heat, like a brown mower, resting after his mid-day meal.
A few yards up the slope a portly butcher leaned upon the half-door
of his shop, smoking, and now and then wiping his forehead with the
sleeve of his shirt, whilst watching the clumsy gambols of two
harrier whelps at play in the street; pigeons were croodling and
strutting about on the pavement and on the roofs of the houses, and
sparrows were chirping blithely all around. Apart from these a
slumbrous stillness filled the air; save that by fits one could hear
a drowsy rustle of trees, and now and then faint sounds of rustic
glee came from outlying fields where the haymakers were at work.
Even the sleepy monotone of the river "Little," northward of the
town, seemed to lend a somnolent tincture to the dreaminess of that
sultry summer noon. Broughton had dined, and was evidently
disposed to dose away an hour or two of the meridian heat before it
meddled with business again. . . . The clock was just upon the
stroke of one as a solitary traveller, with a knapsack on his back,
and clad in the garb of a holiday wanderer, walked into the "King's
Head," at the foot of the Market Place. His tall, lithe figure
was a rare combination of ease and strength; his frank, intelligent
face was browned with the sun, and his double-soled boots were white
with the dust of country roads. He was a man of manly mould,
and near the prime of life; his countenance beamed with good-nature,
and with the inborn gladness of a quiet mind; and there was a breezy
rustle of natural grace and freedom about him from top to toe.
Many an unpremeditated smile, many a dreamy sigh had that happy
wanderer awakened on his way. As he entered the inn, with a
sprig of laburnum nodding from the brim of his felt hat, the bird in
the cage at the door-way burst into a fit of melodious glee that
rang all over the market-place, as if, by some fine instinct, it
felt that a genial nature was near. There was not a single
customer in the house; there was not a sound but the singing of the
bird at the door, and a quiet stir of folk in the kitchen at the
rear. All around was steeped in the drowsiness of summer noon,
and the strong sunshine seemed to slumber on the street. A
fine glow pervaded the old inn; the sun was high over the roof, but
the front rooms were in shade, and it was pleasant to look forth
from the windows into the sunlit street. Turning into the
parlour, at the right-hand side of the lobby, our traveller glanced
around with contented eyes, as he unloosed the straps of his
knapsack. Flinging his burden down, he stretched his limbs,
and rang the bell; and then he sat down by the window, quietly
crooning Moore's song, "There is not in the wide world a valley so
sweet," as he looked up the slope towards the grey tower at the head
of the town.
The door was opened by a rustic-looking servant lass, who
came in wiping her mouth with her apron; for she had just risen from
her dinner in the kitchen.
"Bring me a pint of your best ale," said he; "and here,
stop! can I have some dinner?"
"I'll go an' see," said she; and giving her mouth another
wipe, she closed the door behind her.
"Well, what is it?" said the landlady, setting her hands on
her hips, as the girl entered the kitchen.
"There's a gentleman i' th' parlour as wants to know if he
can hev some dinner."
"Dinner!" said the old landlord, who was seated in the corner
smoking. "Why, dang it, I doubt ye'll hev a scramble to find
him yan to-day. Is he a gentleman, saysto?"
"Aye," said the lass; "an' I'm to tak him a pint o't best
"Varra well, then," said the landlady, "tak him a pint o't'
best yal; but I'm thinkin' about t' dinner. What like chap is
he? Dista knaw him?"
"Nay," replied the lass, "I dinnot knaw as I knaw him.
He disn't belang this countra-side, I think. But he's a varra
canny-like man bi t' look on him!"
"Well, that's a capper, hooiver!" said the landlord.
"Canny or not canny he mun hev his dinner. But what, it's t'
wrang day for us; we han nowt to set afore him but ham an' eggs, an'
caud beef, an' sic like, an' if he's yan o' these tickle-stomack't
chaps, he'll mebbe not care for that. . . . "Matty, lass," continued
he, addressing the landlady, "what canto do for him? He'll not
like to dine off o' what we'n bin thwittlin at, one's sartin sewer.
We're in a bonny pickle! Couldto shap owt? What, it'll
be a sham an' a bizen (a shame, forby a sin), if we connot find him
a menseful bit of a dinner."
"Bless my life, Adam," replied the landlady, "how thou talks,
to be sewer; an' a goose daan at t' fire, reight afore thi e'en
theere. What! he can dine off o' that, if he can wait a bit;
if he connot wait, he mun tak what there is there's nowt else
for't. But I should think he'd like t' goose. Lord bless
us and save us what gentle or simple, he's not aboon eatin' a
bit o' goose, belike! An' then, we'n tarts, an' cheese, an' a
cowd saddle o' mutton i' th' aumry (pantry) yon, at's never bin cut
intill. What can a man want? Good gracious! What,
we're never so hard put tull't 'at we cannot scrammle a bit o'
dinner togidder, sewer-ly."
"Well, aye; as thou says, lass," replied the landlord, "he
can dine off o't' goose, if he'll wait a bit; an' not a bad thing
for a hungry chap to pike at, nawther. . . . Sally, gan thi ways,
an' tell him; an' tak him his yal! What! t' lad 'll be as dry
as a bakin-spittle, I'll awarnd ye! . . . An' tell him we'n some
prime cheese, an' sic like, to be goon' on wi' if he's onyways keen
set! Noo, gan thi' ways wi' t' yal, an' let him wesh his neck
a bit!" And away she went.
By this time our friend in the parlour had lit his pipe, and
was leaning upon the open window, listening to the bird at the door,
and drinking in the peaceful beauty of the scene. Hearing the
door open, he turned round.
"Ah," said he, "About the dinner. Well?"
"Please sir, t' missis says there's a goose at t' fire; an'
if ye can wait a bit ye can dine off o' that."
"A goose!" cried he. "Stars and garters, what a feast!
Good; tell your mistress that I'll wait for the goose."
"Please, sir, she said I was to ask if ye would have some
bread an' cheese for a bitin'-on?"
"For a what?"
"For a bitin'-on till t' goose is ready."
"Ah, I see. Bread and cheese! . . . No, tell her that
nothing shall come between me and that noble bird except this,"
said he, laying hold of the pewter pint, "except this!"
Talk of the nectar that sparkled for
Her cup was a fiction, but this is reality,
and he took a hearty pull at the bright bicker, "with beaded bubbles
winking at the brim."
The landlady stood in the middle of the floor when the girl
returned to the kitchen. Her round face was glowing with heat,
her hands were white with flour, and her snowy cap-strings hung
negligently about her shoulders.
"Well," said she, "what says he?''
"He says t' goose'll do."
"Canny man," said the landlord, charging his pipe afresh,
"canny man; he's sensible to t' last come frae where he will."
"He'll wait, then?" continued the landlady.
"Yes," replied the lass, "he'll wait for t' goose."
"Varra well," said the landlady, "an' will he hev ony bread
"No, he says he'll hev nowt at o' till t' goose is ready
except his yal."
"Well, come, now," said the landlord, "I call that good
again. He'll hev nowt at o' till t' goose is ready except
his yal. Varra good; I should ha' said t' same mysen.
That lad's bin born o' t' merry side o' t' blanket, I'll awarnd ye.
I begin to tak tull him!"
"Do haud thi tung, thoo madlin', I pritho," said the
"He's a varra funny man by t' look on him," said the girl,
"an' he's dry, too."
"Aye, aye; he's dry enough, I uphaud him," said the landlord.
"Well, come, we can find some'at at'll suit that complaint;
if he happens to be taen bad."
"Thoo can, hooiver," said the landlady. Then, turning
to the girl, she continued, "Come, Sally, stir thi shanks!
Thoo knaws what a mess we're in. We're leet-handed thoo knaws;
there's nowt but thee an' me for't. Come, stir tho, do! an'
market day to-morn, too. Clear that table, an' get this place
sided up, while I look after this man's dinner."
"Aye, lass," said the landlord, "get t' lad his dinner.
He's a clipper, Ill uphaud him."
"Adam," said she, "if I wur thee, Id gan down to t' meadow,
an' see what's goin on."
"Well," replied he, "I don't knaw whether thoo would or not;
but, as I don't happen to be thee, I think I shall bide where I am a
And Adam lit his pipe at the fire again.
The patch is kind; but he is a huge
THE cloth was
laid in the parlour, with the usual accompaniments of a good dinner,
in that bountiful old country inn, where stint, and extortion, and
dirt, and disorder, were equally unknown; and, with the natural
taste which characterised the comely dame who "ruled the roast," and
everything else under the roof of the old King's Head, a tuft of
meadow-grasses, mingled with wild flowers, adorned the board.
Everything was in its place, and everything was sweet and clean as
dew upon a budding rose. With a light hand, she had given the
last finishing touch to the graces of that tempting spread.
The traveller's wine was beaming, like liquid amber, in a quaint
cut-glass decanter; and nothing now was wanting but the main element
of the feast. The place of honour was still left vacant for
that savoury bird; and the hungry traveller excited by the dainty
preparations before him, sat with quivering nostril, sniffing the
coming banquet from afar. . . . The goose lay dished upon the table
in the kitchen, ready to be carried in; and when the landlady had
washed her hands, and straightened her hair, and arranged her cap,
so as to "mak hersen fit to be sin," she said, as she laid hold of
the dish, "Now, Sally, gan thi ways afore me, an' oppen t' door.
Yon man'll be quite famished."
"Away wi' ye," said the landlord; "if he's deein', that
brid'll bring him to. T' smell on't maks my teeth shoot watter."
Away went the girl, and away sailed the landlady after her,
with a dish in her hands, and the white strings of her cap streaming
behind her broad shoulders.
Laying her dish down in its place, she said, as she glanced
at the table, "There, sir; I think it's all right. I dare say
ye'll be able to manage now."
"Ah, thank you," replied he, planting himself in front of the
goose. "I shall be all right . . . .But, here, have I the
whole table to myself?"
"Well, yes," said she. "You see, we hev nae company
in to-day. Now, if it had been to-morrow, you would hev had
plenty o' folk to sit down with, as it's market day."
"Oh, thank you," replied he, "I think I shall agree very well
with the company that's before me."
"I'm very glad, sir," said the landlady; "an' I hope that
it'll agree with you. . . . An' now, if there's anything that ye
want, if ye'll be kind enough to touch that bell, we'll attend to
"All right, thank you," replied he.
The door closed quietly behind her; and he was alone, with
Our traveller rubbed his hands gleefully, as his eyes
wandered over the table; and, laying hold of the carving-knife, he
said, "Come on, sir; what shall I give you? A leg; or a wing
or a slice of the breast? or all three? Say the word, your
servant is here! . . . Ah," continued he, as he helped himself to
the goose, "what manner of man am I that fortune should pet me, and
pat me on the shoulder so? No matter, 'Take the good the gods
provide thee,' and be thankful." And, straightway, he fell
to, with right good will, like a man of hearty mould and hungry
mood; and, for a while, there was no sound in the room but the music
of that bold trencherman's knife and fork in ceaseless play.
When he had eaten his fill, he sat down by the window,
sighing a grateful "Non nobis," and looking back at the table now
and then, as if afraid that he might repent not having eaten more of
that noble bird, when far away on the morrow. He was a
generous man, and he was in a merry mood; and there was, withal, a
touch of Bohemian dash in his nature, that impelled him, by fits, to
indulge in a bountiful frisk, that over-leaped the cast-iron palings
of conventional prudence. And in such holiday humour was he
that day, as he sat musing by the open window, with eyes that
wandered, now into the sunny street, now back again to the relics of
the feast upon the table.
Now, in that part of merry England, at the time of our story,
gipsies were not an unusual sight. In summer time, these dusky
wanderers might be seen encamped upon the commons, or on the
sprawling borders of some quiet road, beneath a sheltering hedge,
with the wild bird, the mole, the weazle, and the field-mouse for
their only neighbours; or lounging, with furtive grace, among the
bustle of some country fair, plying the hereditary arts of their
race, as tinkers, besom-makers, musicians, beggars, and
fortune-tellers; or creeping along some lonely rustic way, in slow,
nomadic trail, towards another camping-ground. Gipsies were a
familiar sight in that green nook of the bonny north. From the
great rural plain of the Fylde, on the west coast of Lancashire, up
to the wild hills and beautiful vales of the Scottish border,
gipsies were well known. . . . And who are these children of the
wilderness, roving "homeless, ragged, and tanned, under the
changeful sky," as free as the wild bird that flits at will from
bough to bough; and despising alike the trammels and the comforts of
settled life? These tawny, trinketted aliens, clad in gaudy
tatters, so poor and yet so proud, found amongst all peoples of
the earth, yet belonging to none and, among all changes of climes
and nations clinging with such tenacity to the habits, and the
language, and the superstitions of their forefathers who are they?
Whence come these ragged, landless, vagabond lordlings of the waste,
― these wild-eyed dwellers in tents, gliding about the solitudes of
the land, like half-tamed panthers; and streaking the conventional
web of western civilisation with a weird thread of lurid hue?
What burning tract of Egypt, or of Hindostan, was the ancient home
of this mysterious race of restless outlaws? Their name
indicates an Egyptian origin. This supposition, however, has
been proved by careful inquirers to be an error an error probably
encouraged by gipsies themselves because Egypt was, above all
lands, the land of soothsayers and diviners. Neither in
manners, nor in language, are they Egyptians. Both beforetime
and now, they have been, and are still looked upon as a foreign
people by the natives of the land of Pharoah. Those who are
curious enough to delve into the works of the learned on the subject
will find that by evidence of affinity in language, and by
remarkable similarity in arts, pursuits, and customs, it is proved
that these people are descendants of the ancient Pariars, or Suders
of India, the lowest caste of Hindoos and, probably, from those
Pariars who fled westward in thousands, during the murderous ravages
of Timour Beg, in 1408, which corresponds with the time of the
first appearance of gipsies in Europe. . . But, to my tale.
Whilst our hero leaned upon the window-sill, watching the
sleepy motions of the little town, a tall, swarthy man, with Asiatic
countenance, and dark, piercing eyes, in which the fire of youth was
blended with the cunning of age, came lounging up from the low-most
part of the town. A long black ringlet hung down each side of
his face; and his limbs indicated a remarkable combination of
strength and agility. In one hand he bore a rude ashen staff,
and in the other hand a coarsely woven mat of rush-work.
Glancing stealthily from side to side, he wandered by, off at the
house-end, and out of sight. He was soon followed by another
proud vagabond, of similar aspect, clad in a long, tattered cloak,
and a slouched hat, which half concealed his face. He carried
a soldering-iron in his hand; a well-worn leather apron was twisted
about his loins; and a tinker's budget hung from his shoulder.
A little behind him a ricketty cart came slowly up, drawn by a
wild-looking, unkempt pony, and partly covered by a rude tarpaulin
shade, from between the folds of which a swarm of dusky urchins and
agθd crones, peeped out at the town as they went by. The
living freight of the cart was mingled with tent gear, rush mats,
cooking utensils, wicker-work, and other simple stuff, the sole
property of these migratory denizens of the wild. A graceful
slip of a lad, bare-headed, and bare-footed, walked on one side of
the pony's head; and on the other, a tall middle-aged woman, with
glittering rings in her ears, and dressed in gaudy-coloured
clothing, much worn, and faded by constant exposure to the weather.
A red kerchief, tied in a fluttering knot at the side of the
temples, was her only head dress from under which, straggling
elf-locks stole down, as black and as glossy as a raven's wing.
She must have been singularly beautiful when young, for she was
beautiful still. But the bright piquancy of the gipsy matron's
countenance was tempered with something of sadness which touched the
heart of the susceptible traveller as he leaned upon the window-sill
Leaving the side of the cart, she came close under the
window, and, looking up with a pensive smile, she said, "God bless
your honour's bonny face; there's good fortune before ye!"
"Oh, yes," replied he, laughing, and dropping a shilling into
her palm, "I know all about it. God bless you! . . .
Are those your children in the cart?"
"Four of them, your honour," she replied.
"Wait a minute," said he.
He glanced quickly up and down the road. There was
nobody about, and the cart had stopped just in front of the widow.
He ran to the table, and bringing the dish with the remainder of the
goose upon it to the window, he said, "Now, hold your apron.
Hold it tight!"
Darting away to the cart, she dragged out a dingy tartan
shawl, and taking one end firmly between her teeth, and two corners
in her hands, she held it under the window whilst he emptied the
entire contents of the dish into it.
"There," said he, "get out of sight as fast as you can!"
The gravy dripped through the shawl to the ground, but in an
instant, the whole reeking mess was huddled into the cart, and she
whispered to the lad to "Drive on, quick!"
He watched them off at the house-end, and when he had set the
empty dish down upon the table, he quietly closed the window, and
sat down, laughing heartily to himself.
He waited a few minutes, and then, after lighting his pipe,
he rang the bell.
"Now for it," said he, assuming a serious look, and taking
his seat at the table again, in front of the empty dish, "Now for
it!" he repeated as the girl opened the door.
"Did ye ring, sir?"
"You may clear away the things," replied he, stroking his
beard, "I've finished."
"Yes, sir," said the girl; and coming up to the table, her
eyes fell upon the empty dish. . . . For an instant, she gazed upon
the dish, with a bewildered countenance; she took up a plate, and
laid it down again her eyes still rivetted upon the dish.
Then, dropping a fork to the floor, she gave a sly glance under the
table, and another into the fire-grate; and then, rising from the
floor and looking at our hero with well-opened eyes, she said, "Did
ye say that ye'd finished sir?"
"Yes," replied he, watching her movements, as he trimmed his
pipe with his finger, "Yes, you may clear the table."
"Clear the table muttered the girl to herself, laying hold of
the dish, and setting it down again. "Clear the table, yes,
sir," continued she, in a confused tone; and she was hurrying away,
empty handed, when he stopped her.
"And, here, let me know what I have to pay."
"What you have to pay? Yes, sir." And she gave
another scared look at him from the door-way as she hurried out.
An' as they watched their dinner fly,
They fluttered to an' fro,
An' then broke out into a cry,
Eh, mam, he'll heyt it o'!
OUR landlord was
sitting alone, when Sally entered the kitchen, with a run; and,
lifting her hands, cried out, "It's all gone!"
"What's all gone?"
"Art thoo all gone?"
"I tell ye, he's etten it all, bones an' all!"
The old man paused, and looked earnestly at the girl and
then he laid his pipe down upon the table, and pushing his fingers
through his hair he gave a quiet whistle.
"Well," said he, taking up his pipe again, "All that I hev to
say is, that if I happen to be wick an' hearty, when that man dees,
I sill be glad to go to his berrin', with my best claes on,
whether I'm axed or not! . . . Didto say 'bones an' all?"
"I said bones an' all!" replied Sally.
"Why then," continued Adam, "Good Lord deliver him, say I! .
. . . But,bones an' all! Dang it; thoo mun be lying!
Arto reet i' thi yed, thinksto?"
"It's true, I tell ye! . . . An' he says I'm to clear t'
"Clear t' table, eh! I' godlin, he's done a good stroke
at that, hissen! Oh! but thoo mun be wrung, lass. A
whole goose! an' a pummer, too! I'll never believe 'at he's
put hissen aatside o' that brid!"
"Well," replied Sally, "I've nowt nae mair to say. T'
dish is yon for ye to look at."
"Oh," said the landlord, "t' dish is yon, is it?
Well, come; that mends it a bit."
"Aye, it's yon," replied she, "an' he wants to know what he
has to pay."
"Aye, bi th' mass, an' weel he may," answered he. . . . "An'
so, he wants to knaw what he has to pay, does he? It's a
wonder, I'm sure; for he's had nowt worth talkin' about. . . . Well,
thou'd better call o' t' mistress, thou's knocked me clean ower."
Just then the landlady came in from the pantry.
"Oh, thou'rt theer, arto?" said Adam. "Well, thou'rt
nobbut just i' time. If thou'd stopt a bit longer averythin'
would ha' bin i' wrack an' ruin."
"Whatever's t' matter, now?" said she.
"Matter enough," replied he. "Doesto hear what shoo
"What is it?"
"He's etten all t' goose!"
"Yon divulskin i' t' parlour."
"I nivver heard the like."
"Nor me nawther."
"It's quite ta'en my breath."
"An' mine, too. . . . An' he wants to knaw what he has to
"Aye, lass, that's what I said pay! . . . Well, what
"Think! I knaw nowt what to think. It caps me
completely. . . . What yan can't charge him t' same as anudder man?"
"Well, I sud think not, mysen. I don't know
anudder man as could ha' done same trick. I consider him a
varra remarkable sort of a person, as who his fadder was. I'
tho charges him at all, thoo should charge him at t' rate o' five or
six other men. But I'm incline's to let him hev it for nowt,
if he'll go away quietly, wi' what he's getten. . . . Tell him we'n
fayver i' t' house, that'll tak him off."
"I wish he'd go," said the landlady.
"I could like to hey a look at t' divul," continued the
landlord. "He sartinly has a most serious twist."
"Oh, but I cannot believe it!" said the landlady.
"Well," said Sally, in a sulky tone, "ye can see for yersen."
"See!" cried the landlord; "bi th' mass, we's see nae mair o'
t' goose, I doubt. But, here," continued he, addressing the
servant, "didto notice ony difference, about t' fit of his waistcoat
after he'd hed his bit o' dinner?"
"Nay; I don't knaw that I see'd ony difference," replied
"Well, then," said Adam, "he must hev a terrible cavity
somewhere in his inside."
"He must be varra howle (hollow) when he's hungry," said the
"Howle! " said Adam; "why, he'll be like a two-legged drum about t'
middle o' t' forenoon!"
"An' I should think," continued the landlady, "that he'll be
sairly troubled wi' wind o' t' stomach just afore mealtimes."
"No doubt," replied Adam, "but then, thou sees, he's an
add-fashioned way o' drivin' t' wind out by fillin' t' gap up."
"I wonder hoo he gets his livin'?" said the landlady.
"Aye, an' so do I," said Adam; "for that lad's livin'll bide
some gettin'. . . Sally, what like chap is he, saysto?"
"Well," replied she, "he's a tallish man, an' rather a thin
un, but not so thin, nawther."
"Now, my opinion is," continued the landlord, "that he's
rather of a full-bodied turn of mind."
"Well," said the girl, "he is rather full-bodied,
but not so varra. He hes blue een, and I should think he was a
nice man bi t' look on him."
"I think t' same mysen," said he, "though I never set een on
him i' my life. But, I'm sartin o' one thing, there's
naebody can say that he's a man as hes nowt in him."
"I hope he'll not stop lang i' these parts, with his blue
een," said the landlady.
"Oh," said Adam, "I could put up wi' t' lad's een, if his
stomach was ony bit like. . . . Didto say he was a gentleman or a
simple body, Sally?"
"He looks like a gentleman," replied she.
"Well, that's a blessin'; for no poor body could maintain
sich a wolf as he keeps in his cote. A man like that should
hev somebody runnin' a day's march afore him to scrape his proven
together. Will he want ony tea, think ye?"
"I think not," said the landlady. "Thoo hears, he wants
to knaw what he hes to pay."
"Well, an' what willto charge him? Thoo cannot charge
him less nor t' price o' t' goose. Now, if he'd drunken at t'
same bat as he etten there'd ha' bin some sense in't, but he's had
no drink mich. He hasn't had enough to wesh that brid down
onyway. Thou mun charge him for 't goose."
"One would think he'd not grummle at that, hooiver," replied
"Grummle or not grummle, thou mun try it on. What! he's
t' reason of a man, sure-ly, if he's t' stomach of a horse."
"One would hope sae. But I niver heard tell of a horse
"Well, never thou mind that. Call it a lion i' tho
likes. . . . Sally, gan thi ways, an' tell him it'll be seven
shillin'. That's about t' size on't, isn't it, Matty?"
"Yes, that's about it. I could hev hed seven shillin'
for't, time an' time again."
"Then tell him it's seven shillin'! He's nawther chick
nor chylt o' mine, thank God! Let him pay! Say seven 'shillin'!
Dang it, let's try it on!"
Landlady, count the lawin',
An' gies a cogie mair.
THE traveller was
eager to know the upshot of his message. He sat by the window,
smoking, and chuckling to himself; for his mind was full of humorous
speculation about what was going on in the kitchen all this while.
Hearing the door open, he hastily assumed an unconcerned air, and,
as the girl came in, he quietly blew the smoke from his mouth, and
The girl blushed, as she answered in a timid tone, "Please
sir, t' missis says it'll be seven shillin'."
"All right," replied he, laying down a sovereign; "and you
may tell your mistress that I think the charge very little for the
dinner that I have had."
The tone and manner in which he received the charge relieved
Sally's mind of unpleasant apprehensions.
"Thank ye, sir," said she, blushing again, as she picked up
"But stay," continued he, "perhaps you had better send your
"Thank ye, sir," replied Sally, looking back from the
"Now then," said Sally, as she handed the money to her mistress; "he
paid me in a minute, without a word; an' he said it was varra
little, an' he wants to speak to ye."
"Come noo," said the landlord, knocking the ashes out of his pipe,
"I like that! There's nae bafflement aboot it! There's nowt licks
straight-forrad wark! He's a terrible trencherman, there's no
denyin' that, but, all's one, if he pays fort. Let a man hey his
fill, say I! . . . Matty, lass, tak him his change, an' tell him he
shall hev a couple o' ducks to his supper if he'll stop. I'm rather
partial to a man o' that stamp if he puts it into a good skin, God
bless his belly, say I, for he's a clipper!
There was a smile on the landlady's face when she entered the
parlour. Giving a sly look at the traveller's waistcoat, she
held out the tray to him, and said, "There, sir, that's your
"Thank you"; said he, taking up the money, "but I really
think the charge is too little. Suppose we make it ten
shillings? There it is, see, and there's a shilling for the
"Well, sir," replied she, "it hardly looks right to take it .
. . . But ye know what things belongs, an' I'm sure we're varra
much obliged to ye. Now I hope your dinner was to your likin'."
"Thank you," answered he, "everything was very good, and I
have enjoyed it very much. I liked the goose particularly; it
was nicely cooked."
"Well," said she, "I'm varra glad. I thowt ye'd like
it. Ye see, we're thrang i' t' fields, or else we could have
attended to ye better. But I hope we hevn't stinted ye! Now,
if there's anything else ye'd like, ――"
"No, thanks," replied he, "I have done very well indeed.
If there had been a second goose on the table, I don't think I
should have cut into it."
"Indeed!" said she. "Ay, well, sir, I'm very glad.
Mebbe ye'll be stayin' for tea?"
"No, thank you. I'm going on, up Duddon Vale, and over
the hills, into Langdale. . . . Oh, can you tell me anything about
"No; but my husband can. Ye see, sir, he was born a
little aboon Seathut (Seathwaite), an' he knows all t' countraside
between here an' Carlisle, hill an' hollow, wood an' watter-stid,
foot-gate, an' bridle-gate. Ye see, he's a farmer, an' his
fadder afore him was a farmer, an' all his fore-elders were farmers,
an' cattle-breeders, livin' on their own land, on t' fell-side,
ower-lookin' Duddon Vale. If ye'd like to see him, I'll send
"Do, if you please," replied he. "Tell him I shall be
very glad if he'll come and take a glass of wine with me."
"Thank ye, sir," said she; "I'll send him in."
"There now," said the landlady, as she entered the kitchen;
"it's just as I thowt! He's as civil a man as ever put foot
intul a shoe! Yon's nane o' your throssen-up rabblement, not
he. He's an awsome guttlin', nae doot o' that but ye
wadn't think it, bi t' leuk on him; for there's nowt at a' coorse
nor brawsen aboot him (nothing bloated, nor over-fed about his
appearance). He's a well-leukin, clear-skinned, healthy man;
an' a varra genteel man, too."
"Well," said the landlord, "he's meat-hθal (meat-whole),
whether he's genteel or not, I'll onswer for that. Thoo
cannot say that he's a genteel stomach, ony way."
"Well," replied she, "I'll say nowt about that. He can
eat his meat, there's nae doubt. But yon man's worth his meat,
as what he eats. An' then, thou knaws, folks aren't all made
"Nawe, bi t' mass, they aren't," said he; "an' it's a good
job, too; for if everybody were made like yon genteel divul i' thl'
parlour there'd be a famine i' t' lond afore t' week end."
"That maks nae matter," replied she. "But, what d'ye
think? He said seven shillin' was too little; an' he made me
tak ten, whether I would or not."
"Did he now?"
"He did nowt else,"
"An' thoo didn't want to hev it, I guess?"
"Well, I took it, ony way."
"I thowt sae."
"Well, an' wadn't thou?"
"I doubt I should. . . . But, nae matter. He's a
Christian, if he never said a prayer; an I hope he'll never be
stinted as lang as he's wick. But, he'll ha to mind an' keep
among fat pastur, or else he'll be nipt."
"An, oh, Sally," cried the landlady; "there's a shillin' for
thee, too. That's thy share. Now, thee mind an' put it
by, an' save it, doesto hear? Thou doesn't knaw what thou
may come to need; an' its a good thing to hev a few pounds laid by
to fall back on, if owt should happen. Thou sees how folk are
nipt, an' snubbed, an' trodden on, that have to beg, or to borrow,
an' connot help theirsels. An' there's nobody knows what may
betide 'em i' this world, no, not th' best on 'em. An' then,
thou sees, if thou has a few pounds i' t' bank, it'll always be
makin' a bit moore. Money i' t' bank's like t' poor man's
horse; it'll fatten i' t' neet-time, when folk are asleep.
Thee tak care o' thi bit o' money, lass."
"Matty, lass," said the landlord, "thou'll ha' to hev a
surplice made, if thou'rt for goin' on this road."
"Come, don't thee mak fun on it," said she. "I said
nowt but what's reet; an' thou knaws it."
"Hod thi' tung, lass," replied Adam; "it's a good advice; an'
I wur sayin, 'Amen' to every word."
"Well, then," continued she, "about this gentleman i' t'
parlour. I tell tho, he made me tak ten shillin'; an' he said
he wur quite satisfied."
"Quite satisfied, is he?" replied the landlord. "Well,
come now; that's a blessin'! But, if there's ony doubt about
it, thou'd better tak him yon saddle o' mutton in, an' let him
flirt wi' that a bit. If theres ony empty nooks laft, it'll
help to fill up, as far as it goes."
"Do talk to some sense, I pritho," said she. "T' man's
refight enough, now. Oh, thou'rt to go into t' parlour to
him. He's goin' on, up Duddon way, into Langdale; an' he wants
tho to tell him aboot t' road. Gan thi ways in. He wants
tho to hev a glass o' wine with him. He towd me to tell tho."
"I'll ax nowt nae better," answered Adam, rising from his
"Here," said she, laying hold of his sleeve, "thoo's not
gannin' in that figure, sure-ly! Do wesh thi hands, an'
tidy thisen a bit, hooivver."
"Well, as thoo says," replied he.
"An' now," said he, when he had put himself into better trim,
"I'm his man, ony minute!"
Come, sit down, my crony, an' gie me your
RITSON was a fine
specimen of the heather-bred yeomen of the north of England.
Descended from a race of sturdy freeholders, or "statesmen" as
they are called in the border counties, who had for centuries
farmed their own land, upon the lower slope of Seathwaite Fell, he
inherited the simple habits, the clear, vigorous constitution, the
manly virtues, and independent bearing of his hardy forefathers,
men of frank, daring temper, brought up, generation after
generation, among the wild hills and lonely dales, men who, in the
rough old times of "rugging and riving," had been ever ready to go
forth, in battle array, with bills and bows, with lance and good
broadsword, to repel the assailing Scot, or to make a raid across
the border, under the banners of their own country lords. Adam
was more than six feet high, as straight as a pike-staff, and of a
remarkably powerful build. In his youth he had been a famous
wrestler, in a country famous for wrestlers; and he treasured with
pride many trophies of his prowess, in the shape of belts and cups,
won in many a tough struggle among the stalwart lads of Cumberland.
Adam was now sixty years of age, and his strong, bristly hair, that
once was a thick mass of crisp, auburn curls, had become iron grey;
but he was still a hale, and cheerful man, in the full enjoyment of
life, and capable or extraordinary physical exertion; and he was,
withal, endowed with a kindly nature, and a rich vein of humour,
which made him a welcome guest wherever he went. When young,
he used to accompany his father to the cattle-fairs of the north,
where his manly figure, and his frank and genial bearing won him
friends among high and low. And, even now, at "Falkirk Tryst," there
was no man more heartily welcome than Adam Ritson, as a bright,
brave, open-tempered, and generous man, and an upright dealer in
cattle. Adam had five brothers, all living and all, like himself,
tall, strong men; and, sometimes, when speaking of his family, he
would say that his parents had "browt up twelve yards and a hauf o'
strang lads, an' five yards an' a hauf o' daycent lasses, an' nane
on 'em had ever come to ony ill yet, thank God for't!"
associates, through life, had been almost entirely rustic, fell-side
folk, farmers, cattle-dealers, and the like; yet he was remarkably
fond of books; and he was a thoughtful reader of such books as fell
in his way: and he was looked up to, by the simple salesmen of the Duddon, as a man of extraordinary gifts, which, indeed, he was, for
his nature was more than usually susceptible to the influences
around him; and his mental capacity was far above the common order. He had treasured up, with great tenacity, the unwritten traditions
of his native hills; and he was delighted when he could meet with
anybody who had sufficient romance in their nature to listen to
them. More than once, according to the cherished legends of his own
family, had the ancient homestead of his fathers been pillaged by
the Scots, in the rough old days. Even so far back as the time when
the Cumbrian Abbey of St. Bees was plundered by the soldiers of
Robert Bruce, and when the Prior, according to Sir Walter Scott, "was compelled to say mass, with a hollow oak for his stall," Adam Ritson used to tell how the story had descended from father to son,
that, then, the scattered inhabitants of Duddon Vale had to flee for
shelter down to the old tower of the Broughtons, at Broughton. But,
almost unconsciously to himself, Adam was gifted with some still
higher qualities of the mind, qualities which certainly were not
fully appreciated by his simple neighbours. Born and reared in a
land of mountain and glen, he found beauty in every common sight;
and he inhaled a sense of freedom from every breeze that blew. In
the plastic time of childhood, he loved to rove, alone, by the side
of the stream that watered his native vale, watching, with
simple-hearted wonder and delight, the changes of the seasons, and
the free play of Nature, in all her moods of temper, and varieties
of form. To him, the heavens and the earth, the lonely vale, and the
wild hills that folded it in, were peopled with forms of
ever-varying beauty; and, amongst the sequestered scenes of his
youth, he loved
To stray his gladsome way,
And view the charms of nature;
The rustling corn, the fruited thorn,
And every happy creature!
An inchoate, germinal genius in his way,had his lot fallen among
higher spheres of human action,who knows what his complete
development might have been? But the vale of Duddon was dearer to
Adam than all the world beside; and he never cared to wander far
from the pastoral solitude where he was born.
Content to live without pretence,
And earn whate'er his needs require;
An honest name, with competence,
All his desire.
As Adam went into the parlour, his old dog, "Laddie," slipt in with
a rush behind him. "Laddie" was Adam's constant companion; and Adam
was proud of his fine old collie. On winter nights, sitting by the
fire, with his hand upon the dog's head, he would talk by the hour
about strange adventures they had gone through together, upon the
fell-sides; and, all the while, "Laddie" would gaze up into his
face, with a steadfast look of affectionate regard, and profound
attention, as if he knew every word that was said, and longed to be
able to say something about the matter himself. Well, the dog rushed
in at Adam's heels that day. Adam would fain have let the dog in
freely, if he had been alone; but, in deference to the stranger, he
held the door in his hand for an instant, and said, Now, "Laddie,
I doubt thoo'rt not wanted here, my man!" The dog seemed to know
that this was spoken more by way of experiment than command; and he
stood wagging his tail, and looking up, with a kind of beseeching
enquiry, when the traveller said, "Oh, let him come! I'm fond of
dogs! Let him come in, he's a fine fellow!" "And so are you,"
thought Adam, as he closed the door; for the saying pleased him
well. "Laddie" wagged his tail again, when he saw the door closed;
and he waited by the wall, that he might follow at the heels of his
master. The stranger rose from his seat, with easy grace, and a
genial smile, as Adam advanced from the doorway, with long, swinging
stride, stroking the iron-gray bristles upon his brow. "How d'ye
do, sir?" said he, holding out his great horny hand; "How d'ye do? Are ye keepin' your health well?"
"I'm all right, thank you," replied the traveller. "See; take a
As soon as Adam had taken his seat, "Laddie" rested his long nose
quietly upon his master's knee, and fixed his eyes upon his face and
Adam laid his hand upon the dog's head, as usual.
"You'll take a glass of wine?" said the traveller, filling Adam's
"Well, thank ye, sir," replied Adam. "I've na strang objection to
that. Here's your good health, sir! I hope it'll not be lang afore
we see ye again."
"Thank you," said the traveller. "Good health to you!"
replied Adam; and then, shifting his chair a little, he continued,
"Well, sir, I understand from our mistress, that your goin' on, up
"Yes," said the traveller; "and, as I am quite a stranger in this
part, I thought you would be able to give me a little information
about the road."
"Well, of course I can;" replied Adam; "of course I can; an' I'll do
so, with all the pleasure in the world. . . . Oh, I know your way
very well. Ye'll hev to travel by the side o' the river Duddon, up
into the very hills where it springs fra. An' Duddon's a bonny
stream, mind ye! Ye'll say so, when ye've seen it! Oh, I know it
right well, ye see, Duddon my native vale. I was born o' t' fell
side, a bit aboon Seathut (Seathwaite); an' ever sin I was quite a lile lad I've bin accustomed to rammle ovver all the country that
ye'll hev to go through. Ye see, we had a deal o' sheep, an' yan
thing an' annuder to look after; but, sheep or nae sheep, to tell
the truth, I was verra fond o' rammlin' for rammlin's sake, an'
that's where it is. I dare say I wandered, by mysen, into nooks o'
those hills that few people had ever bin in afore, except t' fox
dogs, mebbe, in a hard run, now an' then. . . . Well, now, we'll
begin at t' beginnin'. . . . When ye leave this house, ye'll hev to
travel northward on the Bootle road, for about a mile, till ye come
nigh to Duddon Brig, that's where the river Duddon rushes down fra
t' tail end o' Duddon Vale, and begins to flow on towards the sands,
in a quieter way. Well, now; if ye went ovver Duddon Brig, it would
lead ye on by t' north side o' t' sands, up by Buckman's Hall, and
down through Millom, an' so by the foot o' Black Coomb, to Bootle,
an' Ravenglass, at the sea-side. But, instead o' takin' that road,
ye leave Duddon Brig, an' t' Bootle road, an' ye tak a road on the
right hand, that leads up into Duddon Vale. So far, so good. Well,
now, as ye're a stranger, no doubt ye'll want to look about ye, an
see what there is to be seen."
"That's the very reason why I am wandering about on foot," said our
"I thowt sae," replied Adam; "an', mind ye, if anybody wants to see
a country like this well, they must tramp it, an' tak their time,
when ye're independent, an' ye can go where ye like; an' ye can
stop where ye like. Oh, there's nought licks Shanks' pony! . . .
Very well. For the first mile or so, the road winds up an' down t'
hill-side, an' in an' oot among shady trees, that ovver-hang t' way;
an' here an' there ye meet with an old-fashioned cottage, with a
garden in front, sloping to t' road-side. This shady length is very
pretty in summer-time; an' at this point, the river runs deep down i' t' gullet o' t' vale. Ye may hear it; but ye can't see it, for t'
bank's varra steep, an' t' trees are thick between ye an' t'
watter-course. Oh, I know that shady bit o' the way varra well;
for I've travelled it i' all wedders, an' i' all sorts o' leet;
aye, an' i' pitch-dark an' all, oft enough. But, mind ye, I knaw
folk up i' t' vale 'at would rayder gan twenty mile round than
travel that bit, i' t' dark. It's a flaysome spot i' t' dead time o'
t' neet, there's nae doubt, not because of owt that's wick, for
there's varra seldom onybody stirrin' at sich a time, though I hev knawn an ugly trick or two done there, a few years back. Why, about
fifteen years ago, my awn brudder John was ridin' home fra
Broughton, yan stormy neet, an' just as he gat into t' loneliest
part o' this lonesome spot, a man darted out fra under t' trees, and
seized his bridle, an' cocked a pistol at him. Now oor John was not
easy daunted. He was a terrible strang fellow, an' he was a gay bad
un to lick. Oor John got a grip o' this chap's collar, as he was
trying to drag him down; t' pistol went off, an' t' bullet lodged in
a tree by t' road-side; ye may see t' mark on't, yet. Then John
fetched him a clout o' t' heead, wi' t' butt-end of his whip, an'
draggin' him on to t' crupper, he browt him back into Broughton, at
full gallop, as dateless as a clod. It turned out to be "Black
Dick," a Bewcastle gipsy: well known all over Cummerlan', as a
poacher, a smuggler, an' a robber. Well, it was a bit afore "Black
Dick" gat round; for his wrist was brokken, an' he was a bit maul't
udder ways. Oh, he tackle't t' wrang man when he tackle't oor John! Howivver, t' country-side was rid on him for a gay while; for he was
sent ovver t' sea for ten years. . . . Well, as I was sayin', t'
road winds in an' oot among ovverhangin' trees; but, noo an' then,
ye get a peep o' Duddon Grove, on t' opposite side o' t' river. It's
a fine house; but I suppose yell hev mony grander places o' that
kind, where ye come fra?"
"Oh, yes," replied the traveller; "we have many fine buildings; but
the great attraction here is the wild beauty of the country!"
"Aye, aye," said Adam; "that's just where it is; ye can build fine
houses, and ye may fill 'em wi' fine things; but ye cannot build Wallabarrow Crag, an' Seathut Fell, ye cannot make a vale like Duddon Vale, an' ornament it with a stream like the Duddon! To my thinkin', there never was, nor never will be, a house i' the world
to compare wi' Duddon Vale, on a fine day!"
"I quite agree with you, my friend," said the traveller.
"I can assure you," continued Adam, "I can assure you that I've
stood mony a time upo' Seathut Fell, on a clear winter neet, tracin'
the stream far down the vale, an' lookin' round at the mountains,
an' then up to the starry sky, an' I couldn't help but feel that God
was t' greatest builder on 'em all!"
"The grand Architect of the universe!" said the traveller.
"'Who meteth out the heavens with a span,"' said Adam.
"'Who walketh upon the wings of the wind,'" said the traveller.
"'Who holdeth the sea in the hollow of his hand,"' said Adam. . . .
"Aye, aye," continued he; "this grand world of ours was never built
by mortal man. . . . But, as I was sayin', Duddon Grove's a fine
place o' t' kind. T' house an' grounds cover a great part o' t'
lower slope o' Stainton Fell wi' lawns, an' groves, an' windin'
walks, as rich an' fine, in their way, as owt I ever set een on. An'
then, reight above all this, t' wild fell rises far up, steep, an'
rocky, wi' nowt but black-faced sheep wandering among t' heather, as
free as the wind that blaws ower t' tops, an', mind ye, when there
is ony wind, it does blaw ower t' top o' Stainton! Oh, Duddon Grove,
an' t' fell-side, together, they're not sae bad, I'll assure ye. .
. . Well, when ye lose sight o' Duddon Grove, ye leave t' shady
end o' t' vale behind ye; an' ye're enterin' fairly into the open
wild; an', to my thinkin', ye now begin to see the real beauty o' Duddon Vale. The hills begin to show theirsels, ― reight afore
ye, Corney Fell, an' Stainton Fell, an' Hest Fell, an' Birker Fell,
an', as ye travel on, ye see mair o' them, an' they grow grander
an' grander. Ye meet wi' varra few trees after this. It's all wild
heather, an' stunted bush, an' moss-grown rock; but, ye hev the Duddon with ye, all the way! The road winds, in an' out, by Duddon
side, never mony yards asunder, an' mind ye, every time ye look
at that river, ye'll find something new in it. I've wandered by it, mair or less, all my life, an' its always fresh to me. It sartinly
is a bonny stream, I will say that for't! I don't know another to
compare wi' t'. I know mony a stream that hes mair watter in't; but
never a one 'at's sae full o' pretty frisk as the Duddon is! An',
mind ye, ye're just goin' the reet way to see it well. If ever ye
want to see a mountain stream, gan upwards, an' meet the fallin'
watter; an' there ye hev it, at every stride, there ye catch every
frolic, an' every little glittering fall, there ye hev it, in all
its glory, as one might say!"
"That's perfectly true, my friend," said the traveller. "I've always
found it so. . . . Drink up!"
Adam drank up his glass. The traveller filled again, and rang for
another bottle. The wine was brought in, and when the door was
closed, Adam continued.
"Oh," said he, "ye'll find that I'm right, sir. An', if I'm not varra mich mistaken, ye'll stop mony a time to look at that river;
an' ye'll think it bonnier an' bonnier all the way."
"I have no doubt of it," said the traveller.
"Well, now then," continued Adam, "when ye get about five miles on
the road, ye'll come to "Oopha Kirk " (Ulpha Kirk), a little country
village, close by t' watter-side; an' I should advise ye to stop on
t' brig a minute or two, an' look at the river. It's well worth lookin' at .
. . . An' now, sir, if ye happen to want owt to eat an' drink,
when ye get to "Oopha Kirk," ye'd better try 'em there; for, I doubt
ye'll not find 'em well provided for ye farther on. I should strangly
advise ye to tak some'at wi' ye, when ye leave here."
"Oh," said the traveller, laughing and drinking off his glass; "I
dare say I shall manage very well."
"Oh," replied Adam, "I'm not quite sae sure about that. Ye see, I
knaw the country well. Ye'll not meet wi' mony houses on your way; an' it'll all be scrammlin' luck whether ye get what ye want or
not. But we'll see about it afore ye start. I shouldn't like ye to
be ony way stinted, ye knaw, that's all."
"Thank you, my friend," said the traveller, "I think I dare risk
"Varra well," replied Adam. "Let's see, I was at Oopha Brig? Yes. Well, now, when ye get about a mile past that, ye come to what we
call Low i' Oopha,' an' there ye see a grand cluster o' hills
gatherin' round, wilder at every stride, Cove, an' Blakerigg, and
Walna Scar, an' Seathwaite Fell, and Dow Crag, an' Wallabarrow
Crag, all reight afore ye! Ye see, ye're approachin' the head o'
the vale, where the mountains muster, like a parliament o' giants
makin' laws for the world. It's a fine part o' the valley that, an'
so ye'll say. . . . Well, ye travel on for about three mile, an' all
the way the river an' the road keep takkin' a bit of a clip at yan
another, and then dartin' away for a lile rammle by theirsens, an'
then creepin' back to peep at yan another again, like bairns, playin'
at hide-an'-seek among t' trees, ye travel on for about three mile,
till ye come to Seathut Chapel. But, stop, when ye're within about a
mile o' Seathut Chapel, at a place called Hall Brig, i' Pendle, it
would be better for ye to leave t' high road, an' tak a bye-way, up
t' watter-side, an' ower t' 'Hippin Steans,' an' on, through t'
wood, to Seathut Chapel. At t' Hippin Steans ye get a varra
beautiful view o' t' river. . . . Well, now, we're at Seathut
Chapel, my native place as I may say, for it's t' nearest village to
where I was born; an' I dar say I think a good deal mair on it than
a stranger would. There's nowt honsome in it i' t' way of
buildings, why, it's just a lile, rough, stragglin' lot o' grey
cots, cluster't togidder, at t' foot o' t' hill, grown ower wi'
moss, an' greenery o' yan sort an' another, as if it were hauve
field an' hauve village, wi' here an' there a thatch wi' posies on't,
like a field with a chimney; wi' t' bits o' gables, stannin' yan
this way, another that way, or ony way, just as t' leets, as if
they'd all been tummle't out of a bag, at t' foot o' t' fell, an'
laft theer, for t' grass to grow ower 'em, or like a lot o' aad
cronies, huddle't round a fire, tellin' tales. An' t' river's close
to. Neet and day it goes singing by. I've knawn mony a ane leave
Seathut Chapel, an' never return. But neet an' day, the bonny Duddon
still goes singin' by. Oh, to me it's a varra sweet, an' a homely
spot, an' homily's just the word, too. Beside, ye see, my fadder an' mudder lies buried there, an' my gran-fadder, an' my great
gran-fadder, an' I knawn not hoo mony mair o' my awn kin, ye knaw,
that mak's yan feel a bit tender tull it. But, nae matter. Mebbe
ye've heard tell o' Robert Walker, 'Wonderful Walker,' as he was
"The Reverend Robert Walker?"
"Yes. He was t' parson at Seathwaite Chapel."
"Oh, yes; I've heard of him."
"Come, now; I'm glad o' that! Well, he lies buried i' Seathut
Chapel-garth; and I thowt that, mebbe, ye'd like to look at t' place
where he lies, before ye went ony further on your way."
"That's one of the places I intended to see," said the traveller.
"Ah' well," continued Adam, "it's varra remarkable. He was parson
at Seathwaite sixty-seven years. He was ninety-three when he died;
his wife was ninety-three when she died, an' her eldest daughter was
eighty-one when she died. Ye'll find 'em lyin' together, side by
side, i' Seathwaite Chapel-girth, hard by t' aad yew-tree. . . .
But, now, we'll wander on towards Langdale, if ye please. . . . Soon
after ye leave Seathwaite Chapel ye come to Nettle-slack Bridge,
where two roads meet. The right-hand road goes to Coniston, the
left-hand road to Langdale. Of course you take the left, which leads
up, through a narrow gully, between Harter Fell and Grey Friars,
wi' t' river roarin' deep below. When ye come out of this pass,
yell think ye're at t' end o' t' world, for it looks as if it
hadn't bin finished ony farther. That upper part o' t' valley sartinly looks varra wild, and desolate. Grey Friars rises up o' one
side, and Harter Fell an' Hardnot o' tudder, an', i' t' vale
between there's not a livin' thing, not a tree, nor a house to be
sin. Well, yes, there's yan farmhouse, that's John Tyson's at Cockley Beck, but ye'll not see that till ye're near a-top on't, and
that house is seven miles fra a mill and five miles fra a shop, and
mair than four miles an' a hauve fra a church. Now, when ye get
there, if ye feel tired, or hungry, or inclined to stop all neet, I
should advise ye to tak a thowt and consider, for that's your last
chance. There isn't another house till ye get reight ower the top o'
Wrynose Pass, and far away down into Little Langdale; and ye'll find
that a stiffish walk, if ye intend to do it before neet-fo'; but
ye'll see how ye are when ye get to Cockley Beck. It's nobbut rough
looking; but if ye happen to be stagged up, or if ye want oather bed
or board, ye'll find that's not a bad house to call at, for a
country nook. An' they're glad to see ony decent person to look in,
I con tell ye; though John has had some rackle visitors in his
time, that made theirsens mair free than welcome. Ye see, it's a varra lonely place. But ye'll find yersel' quite at home, when ye
get there, if ye like to ca' an' tak pot-luck; an' they're never
short o' good rough mountain provender, I can tell ye' if ye can put
up wi't. It's a good meat house, is John's. Ye can mention my name
if ye like. But, if ye like to go on, without callin', well an'
good. You'll find it a goodish clim from Cockley Beck up to t' top
o' Wrynose Pass; and when ye git ower top o' that, there ye hev the
whole o' Little Langdale, stretchin' far away down, afore ye, as
reight as a ribbin! It's a fine sight, is that, I can tell ye. But, mind ye, it's a lang way frae 't top o' Wrynose to where ye
can get owt to eat. But, when ye do get down into 't vale, they'll
find ye summat or anudder, nae doubt. Now, a good leg o' fell side
o' mutton wad'nt come amiss, I warn'd (warrant), after sic a tramp
as that. They'll find ye that, hooivver . . . . But I'll tell ye
what, sir, afore ye start, yeld better let our folk cut ye a bit o'
summat to tak wi' ye, for fear o' mishap."
"Oh, you're very kind," said the traveller, laughing; "but I don't
think there will be any need for that."
"Ay, ay," said Adam; " but ye'll find it's a stiffish walk. But it
depends how far ye've come to-day."
"Oh, about twelve miles," replied the traveller.
"Well, then," replied Adam, "it is as I say, ye'll find it a
stiffish walk. . . . Now, we've as prime a saddle o' mutton, yon, as
ever knife cut intull. Let our folk cut ye about two or three pound
o' that; we'll put it up nicely for ye; an' it'll be a bit o' some'at to help out wi', if ye happen to find yersel' short."
"Oh, no, thank you for your kind thoughts," said the traveller,
laughing heartily again; "I think I'll just take my chance. Surely, as you say, I shall be able to get a leg of mutton, or
something equal to it, in a country like this."
"Oh, nae doubt o' that," replied Adam, "but then, ye see, they
mayn't hev it ready cooked for ye."
"Ah, well, then," said the traveller; "I must just wait patiently;
or else take pot-luck, as you say, of anything that happens to be
"Varra well," said Adam; "ye owt to know best. I'm only anxious
that ye shouldn't be famished in a Christian country, ye knaw."
"Oh, no fear of that, my friend," said the traveller "I'm an old
"Come, that's right, sir; I'm glad to hear it," replied Adam. . . "Well, now, as
yo're goin' up Duddon Vale, I shouldn't like ye to
pass by Seathwaite without seein' t' chapel-yard where Robert Walker
"I certainly shall stop to look at that," said the traveller. "He
was a very remarkable man."
"He was, he was, indeed," said Adam. "We've varra few sic parsons
"There are very few such men in the world at any time," said the
"I suppose not," replied Adam.
He gloor't, an' glendur't, reet an' lift;
He twisted to an' fro;
He stops, he skriked, an', in a snift,
He darted through 'em o'!
"COME, my friend," said the traveller; "you don't drink. Finish your
glass; and allow me to fill for you."
"Well, thank ye, sir," replied Adam; "but ye're not takin' much
"Oh, no fear, my friend," said the traveller. "I'll keep pace."
"Well, now," said Adam, as he laid down his glass again; "talkin'
about parsons, it reminds me of a comical thing that happened a long
time ago, at a little chapel somewhere Kes'ick way on. It was yan o'
my gran'-fadder's cracks. Ye see, my gran'-fadder lived till he was
near ninety; an', when I was quite a lile slip of a lad, he use's
to sit i' t' corner tellin' his bits o' tales aboot things that
happened when he was young, for, ye see, t' aad man kept his
faculties to the last, in a maist wonderful way; an' he died sittin' in his arm-chair, as usual. He seem'd to be asleep; an' his
pipe dropped from his hand; but when they went to wakken him, they
found that it was all over. An' his face was as quiet as the face of
a sleepin' child. Oh, I remember it well; for I was there at the
time. Well, this thing that I was going to tell, it's yan o' my
bits o' merry tales. It's aboot an' aad parson that live't somewheer
up amang t' fells, aboon Kes'ick, when my gran'-fadder was a young
man. It seems that this aad parson was as poor as a craw; an' he'd nobbut yan suit o' clooas for both Sunday an' war'-day. Ye see,
that's a lang time ago, when knee-breeches an' buckle't shoon were
common wear. Well, yan Setterda' neet, when t' aad man was undressin'
hissen for bed, he fand that his breeches were getten so sadly aat
o' gear that they wadn't be decent for him to wear at sarvice, t'
next mornin'. So he flang 'em down t' stairs; an' he called out to
his son to run with 'em to t' taylior i' th' village, an' tell him
to be sure an' mend 'em t' same neet, so as to be ready for him to
put on t' first thing i' t' mornin', as he had nae other. An' so,
away they went wi' t' breeches. Well, as it was Setterda' night, t'
taylior was sittin' drinkin', amang his cronies, at t' ale-heawse;
an' when they browt t' breeches to him, he said, 'All reight. I'll
attend to 'em. I knaw that he's nobbut yan pair. I'll do
'em afore I gars to bed; an' he shall hev 'em back afore he's up i'
t' mornin'!' Well,what does t' taylior do, at after that, but he
goes an' gets blin' drucken among his mates, an' away he gans home,
an' reet off to bed, without touchin' t' parson's breeches at all.
"Fill, my friend," said the traveller; "and pass the bottle."
"Ay, aye; I beg ye pardon, sir," said Adam, as he passed the
bottle. "Now, sir; I hope I'm not tirin' ye wi' these aad-world
cracks o' mine."
"Oh, not in the least," replied the traveller; "go on, I
pray! I'm quite delighted with the story. I only stopped
to grease the wheels a little. Go on, I beg!"
"Well, sir," continued Adam, "when t' taylior wakkent up, o'
th' Sunday mornin', it was getter lateish on, an' he hod a sair
head; an' as he lee i' bed, yawnin', an' gruntin', an' considerin'
what hed taken place t' neet afore, all at once, he unbethowt him
aboot t' parson's breeches; an' he bounced out o' bed. Bi t'
mass,' said he, 'I forgetten t' parson's breeches! T' aad chap
has nowt but these to cover hissen wi'! An' he'll never go to
sarvice baat breeches, sure-ly! That would be a bonny seet!'
Wi' that, t' taylior jumped upo' his bench, an' stitched away like a
two-year-aad, till he'd getten t' aad lad's breeches put reet, an'
then he called of his lad Simeon, a lile careless cowt, ye know,
as lads are, afore t' world begins to straddle upo' their shoothers.
'Here, Simeon,' says he, thoo mun run off t' parson's wi' these
breeches, as hard as thoo can pelt! They're all that he has to
put on, an' it's getten hard upo' sarvice time, asthou sees!
Away wi' tho, noo, like a good lad; an dunnot stop a minute upon t'
road, or thou'll be too lat, an' there'll be sic a scrowe as
nivver! If thou doesn't get theer i' time for t' parson to go
in with his breeches on, I nivver dar shew my face i' t' chapel
again! Noo off wi' tho, an' mak sharp!' An' away t' lad
went, full scutch, wi' th' parcel under his arm, till he'd getten
aat o' seet, an' then he began to slacken a bit, dye see. Ye
know, do what ye will, lads will be lads, like all oather young
things that's full o' life; an' this taylior's lad wur neither
better nor waur than his maks. Well, it was a fine summer's
mornin', t' sun was shinin'; an' t' brids were singin'; an' t'
watter was wimplin' an' glitterin'; an' t' trees were rustlin' thick
an' green by t' wayside; an' all around, fra earth to sky, was as
bonny as t' flower-time o' t' year could mak it; an' before t' lad
had gotten far on his way, he was quite beguile't; an' he began o'
twitterin', an' tootlin', an' gazin' round, wi' wide een, as if he
was in a world that he'd never sin afore, just as a child would,
ye knaw. An', for my part, I can quiet excuse t' lad; I've
done t' same thing mysen', mony an' mony a time. Well, as I
was sayin', he hadn't gone far afore t' parcel under his arm had
clean slider't out of his mind; an he wander't on, happy and
thowtless, stoppin' here an' there, bi' t' wayside, like a
bumblebee rovin' amang posies. An', now an' then, when he came
to a hole i' t' hedge-side, he popped his stick intull it.
But, mind ye, he hedn't gone far afore he happen't to bob his stick
intull a bit of a hole where there was a wasp-neest. At after
that, I'll award ye, it wasn't lang afore t' lile divul was wakken't
up, to some gauge. His bonny dream was all over, fra that
blessed minute; an' he had to begin o' stirrin' hissen! Out
they cam, ten thousan' strang, an' at him they went, tickle-but,
buzzin' about his head, like little fiery dragons! Well, t'
lad was a pluck't un, an' he shouted, an' fowt wi' t' parcel to
keep 'em off, till t' parcel flew loose, an' then, he fowt on,
wi' parson's breeches, till they gat full o' wasps. But, while
t' lad an' t' wasps were hard at it, i' the very heat o' the battle,
hammer an' tungs, up strikes t' chapel-bells,there was nobbut
two o' them, d'ye see,up strikes t' chapel-bells, 'tinkle-tum,
tankle, tunkle, tinkle; tunkletum, tinkle, tankle, tunkle.'
So, wi' that t' lad bethowt him that it was sarvice-time; an' let t'
feight go as it might, he must quit the field; so he rolled t'
breeches up, in a hurry, wasps an' all, an' he took to his heels
up t' road, as hard as he could leather at it, wi t' enemy after
him, i' full swing! There was nae grass grew under his feet,
till he got to the vestry door, I'll awarnd ye. Well, bi this
time t' parson had about gan t' breeches up; an' he stood i' t'
vestry, buttonin' his lang coat, to see if he could manage to cover
his legs with it, as far down as t' top of his stockins, when a rap
came to the door. It was t' taylior's lad, wi' t' breeches,
an' as soon as t' parson opened t' door, he shot into the vestry,
like a bullet fra a gun. He was hot fra the field o' battle;
an' he was quite out o' breath. His een were starin' wild; an'
his face was as red as a new-painted wheelbarrow. The minute
he gat in, he banged t' door to behind him, to keep all out that
was out, an', as he sat down, pantin' to get his breath, he gev a
fearful glent at t' lockhole, to see if owt was coming through.
'Ah, Simeon, my boy,' said the parson, 'it's you, is it?
You've been a long time. Well, I'm glad you've come. So,
they're all right, are they?' 'Yes, sir,' said Simeon, for he
was just beginning to get his breath. 'Well, you're only just
in time, my lad,' said the parson; 'you're only just in time.
I ought to be in the church, now.' 'I think I'll go in,' said
Simeon. 'Yes,' said the parson; 'go in, my lad; go in.
It's past the time now.' Simeon needed nae mair tellin', for
he'd just sin a wasp come in at the lock-hole; so he bowted into t'
church, an' pulled t' door to behind him. Then t' parson
pulled his breeches on, in a hurry; an', the minute he'd getten 'em
on, he darted off into t' church, an' up into t' pulpit; an' he
began o' readin' t' sarvice: 'When the wicked man turneth away
from his .' He stopped suddenly, an' changed colour; and
then he gev a bit of a cough, an' began again : 'When the wicked
man turneth .' He stopped again. 'Oh, by ! What's
that?' (It was a wasp.) He wiped his face with his
handkerchief, an' began again. 'When the wicked man turneth
away from his wick . Oh God bless us all, there it is
again!' Well, the folk stare't like mad, ye know; for they
thowt t' aad man was gettin' wrang in his cock-loft. But,
however, he at it again 'When the wicked man turneth away from his
wickedness, and doeth the thing which is lawful and a-a-h!' (Another
wasp.) 'My friends,' said he, addressin' t' congregation,
'I've been suddenly a-a-h!' (Another wasp.) 'It' no
use, my friends, no mortal man can stand this! I must, Oh!'
(Another wasp.) An' he flang down his book, and ran
back into t' vestry. . . . Now there was a caper for ye!"
"It's a touching story," said the traveller.
"Aye, aye; it's very touching, as ye say," replied Adam;
"it's touching, to the quick! But ye may guess how the
congregation would stare."
"They might well," said the traveller. "It would be
quite a new version to them."
"Oh, bless ye; they were all upset! A few o' them ran
into t' vestry, to see what was the matter; but, mind ye, before
they could get in, t' parson had whipt his breeches off, an' he
stood under th' window' examinin' his wounds."
"Poor old fellow; it was too bad!" said the traveller.
"Aye, but mind ye," continued Adam, "they weren't lang afore
they found out what it was. . . . Simeon had bin sittin' reight i'
t' front o' t' pulpit, wi' his e'en bunged up, when sarvice
began. Of course, ye knaw t' lad was i' terrible pain, for
he'd just come through St. Peter's needle his-sen. But when t'
sarvice began he kent in a minute what was t' matter, an' he was
forced to let t' cat cot o' t' bag."
"Well," said the traveller, "there would be more laughing
than crying about the matter."
"Aye, aye," replied Adam, "of course there would ― amang them
that wasn't stung. There always is. But, however, that
was all t' sarvice they had that mornin', for they sang, 'We praise
thee, O God!' an' went their ways, to spread the news."
"Yes," said the traveller, "an' some of them would be better
pleased than if they had heard the finest sermon in the world."
"No doubt, sir," replied Adam, "no doubt; for if ye've
notice't, t' mast part o' folk i' this world would rather be tickled
"You're right, my friend," said the traveller. "But, at
all events, they wouldn't object to the parson being tickled."
"Of course not," replied Adam; "but I think there's one thing
sartin, they wouldn't begrudge him of ony fun he gat out of his
"I dare say not," said the traveller.
Sacred Religion! "mother of form and
Dread arbitress of mutable respect,
New rites ordaining when the old are wrecked,
Or cease to please the fickle worshipper.
Mother of Love (that name best suits thee here)
Mother of Love for this deep vale, protect
Truth's holy lamp, pure source of bright effect,
Gifted to purge the vapoury atmosphere
That seeks to stifle it; as in those days
When this low Pile a Gospel Teacher knew,
Whose good works formed an endless retinue:
A Pastor such as Chaucer's verse portrays;
Such as the heaven-taught skill of Herbert drew;
And tender Goldsmith crowned with deathless praised.
"AN' so ye've
heard tell of our old parson that used to be at Seathwaite Chapel?"
"What, you mean the Reverend Robert Walker," said the
"Yes," replied Adam, "Wonderful Walker, as our dales-folk
"Oh, yes," answered the traveller; "I've read something of
his story, and I shall be glad to know more of it."
"Ah, well," said Adam, "It's a story worth reading. . . .
"The old man's gone to his rest many years ago. He lies
asleep close by the little chapel, where he worked sae long. . . . .
He was a good man. . . . To me, his varra gravestone seems to be
preachin' a quiet sermon by neet an' day; an' t' little grey chapel
that heard his voice sae oft, seems as if it was listenin' to catch
a sound that it can never hear again. If ye believe me, sir, I
seldom pass that grave without feelin' disposed to take off my hat
an' linger a while. He was our minister lang ago; an he'll be
our minister for a lang time to come; for he's well remembered amang
us; an' that quiet grave of his seems to fill the whole air with a
kind o' divine sarvice. . . .
He was a good man, was Robert Walker. He was a friend
to me when young, an' he's a friend to me yet. I knew him
personally, d'ye see; an' though it's a lang time ago, I've
remembered him with a better rememberance as years rolled on. . . .
Let me see now. I shall be sixty-two come Michaelmas day.
Robert Walker was ninety-three years old when he died. I
remember it well. I was at his funeral. There was mair
fell-side folk at that funeral than at any funeral there ever was at
Seathwaite Chapel. At that time I should be little mair than
fifteen years of age. I went to school tull him. Ye see,
ours is but a simple mountain village, as you may say. There
was nae regular schoolhouse; an' he kept school i' the little chapel
where he had gone to school when he was a lile moor-end lad like
mysen. . . .
"I believe I was a bit of a favourite wi' t' aad man; for he
used to lend me books, an' he drilled me, an' taught me mony things,
at by-times, out o' school hours, when he's been sittin' at his awn
fire-side, cardin' wool, or mendin' his shoes, or makkin rush-dips
for winter, out o' melted mutton fat. There's one thing sartin,
ony bit o' larnin' that I hev, such as it is, I was indebted
to Robert Walker for't, aye; an' for mony a good thing besides,
that you cannot reckon up on a slate. I can assure you, sir,
that it rather pains me when I think about it now, sometimes, for
I feel as if I hadn't given a proper thowt to the thing when he was
livin', I feel as if I hadn't bin thankful for't when I had a
chance o' being thankful for't. . . .
"But, what can you expect? What is youth? It's
just a butter-flee, flickerin' i' t' sun! An' young things,
runnin ower wi' life, what, let 'em frolic out their
frolic-time! An' lads, ye knaw, they're like wild birds, i'
summer, flittin' about amang t' sunshine, fra tree to tree, fra
field to field, careless, an' thowtless, an' fain that they're wick;
peckin' fruit here, an' grain there, an' twitterin' the shiny hours
away, without feelin' at all beholden for owt they get, as if all
that was given to 'em, and all that was done for 'em, was nowt but
what they had a reet to, or like a child in his mother's lap,
croodlin', an' crowin', and nozzling up to his soft nest, an'
drinkin' his drink, in a happy doze, without knowin' or carin' where
it comes fra."
"Ah, me!" said the traveller; "it's one of the happiest
privileges of childhood!"
"It's a bonny dream, nae doubt," said Adam.
"It is, indeed," said the traveller:
'Tis odour fled as soon as shed;
'Tis mornin's wingθd beam:
'Tis a light that ne'er will shine again
On life's dull stream!
"But the world soon begins to waken us up from that
delightful reverie, my friend."
"It does, indeed, sir," replied Adam. "We soon find
oursels driftin' out o' the playground into the warkshop o' life.
An' I can assure you that, as years rolled on, I thowt mair an' mair
o' what Robert Walker hed done for me when I was a lile, mettlesome,
"He must have been a fine, homely, pure-hearted old country
parson," said the traveller, in a musing tone. "I have been
trying to recall some lines that were written upon him by a great
man, and a kindred spirit:
The great, the good,
The well-beloved, the fortunate, the wise,
These titles emperors and chiefs have borne,
Honour assumed or given: and him, the 'Wonderful,'
Our simple shepherds, speaking from the heart,
Deservedly have styled. From his abode
In a dependent chapelry, that lies
Behind yon hill, a poor and rugged wild,
Which in his soul he lovingly embraced,
And, having once espoused, would never quit
Hither, ere long, that lowly, great, good man
Will be conveyed. An unelaborate stone
May cover him; and, by its help, perchance,
A century shall hear his name pronounced,
With images attendant on the sound;
Then shall the slowly gathering twilight close
In utter night; and of his course remain
No cognizable vestiges, no more
Than of this breath, which frames itself in words
To speak of him, and instantly dissolves."
"Gowden words!" said Adam; "gowden words about a noble man!
Well, well, perhaps, his name will be clean forgotten some day; but
the good he did will not be lost for all that. The fruit that
ripens on the tree may forget the sun that has helped to ripen it;
but the ripeness is there, after all. . . . But Robert Walker will
be lang remembered i Seathut. Ye see our dales-people are simple,
thrifty folk. They're hardy, an' they're hearty. They
spend their lives, fra year to year, tentin' sheep upo' th' fells,
or farmin' down i' th' vale; an' they see varra little o' t' world
outside o' their own hills, except what they see at a country cattle
fair now an' then. We'll hardly ever find owt like downreet
stint amang 'em; for they work hard, an' they live in a plain homely
way; an', as a rule, they're of a savin' turn. But even among
simple-hearted shepherd folk, like them, Robert Walker's life was a
fine example to all t' country side. Oh, it was like a lamp in
a dark neet! . . . Let me see. He was born at Under-Craig, i'
Seathwaite, i' the year 1709. That would be when Queen Anne
was upo' th' throne. He wasn't young'st o' twelve; an' as he
was rather of a delicate frame, they agreed to mak a schoolmaster on
him. . . . Now, ye knaw, that seems to me but a simple sort of a
reason for makkin' a lad into a schoolmaster; but it's not uncommon.
Why, if a young man happens to lose an arm, or a leg, it's not an
unusual thing to set him up as a schoolmaster, just because he's
unfit for owt else, an' not because he's ony particular brains for
"That's quite true," said the traveller. "I have often
noticed that in choosing for the young what is to be the occupation
of their future lives, yes, even in cases where circumstances
allow a free chance of choosing, parents are often more influenced
by some little consideration of private and immediate expediency
than by any special natural capacity for the pursuit selected.
Hence we have many blind guides in the world, who, misled
themselves, mislead others, and waste their time; hence we see, here
and there, men limping and blundering through life in employments
for which they are wholly unfit, or have no special love for
unless they happen to be men of a rare genius, and endowed with a
rare strength of character which enables them to break away from the
ill-fitting harness, and strike out in the direction to which their
own natural gifts incline. History shows here and there an
instance in which a man of remarkable natural endowment has forced
his way up through the hard crust of untoward circumstances; but the
struggle is often very painful, and sometimes fatal. If all
mankind could be thrown into a riddle, and men could be shaken out
and selected, and each set to the work he was best fitted for, how
much happier each man would be, how much better for the world at
"It's a hard thing for a lad to be tether't through life to a
job that he cannot do well, an' doesn't like," said Adam.
"It's a cruel foolishness," said the traveller. "It's
wrong both to the lad, and to everybody else. It robs and
injures both; and fills the world with miserable pretenders. I
have seen poor musicians who ought to have been stonemasons;
wretched painters, who would have made good mechanics; and
indifferent parsons, who would have been clever commercial men, and
not bad fiddlers."
"Ay," said Adam; "an' tayliors that should ha' bin soldiers."
"Yes," replied the traveller; "and soldiers that should have
been tailors. And poets, too, so called, who would have
been better at work making shavings in a joiner's shop, or weighing
soap behind a grocer's counter. These, however, generally take
up the trade of themselves; and their first crude efforts at
pithless rhyme are so bespattered by the praise of the ignorant,
that, if the poor fledgling happens to have more vanity than
judgment, the mistake of youth becomes the chronic misfortune of a
"Aye, aye," said Adam; "an' they suffer for't.
"They do, indeed," said the traveller; "and they make
everybody else suffer."
"How comes it," said Adam; "how comes it, think ye, that they
get such encouragement?"
"Encouragement!" replied the traveller. "As a rule the
best of them, who are foolish enough to depend on rhyming-ware for
an existence, live poor, scrambling, trampled lives, and die in
"Aye," said Adam; "an' their works die before they are dead
"For the most part they are still-born," replied the
"There's a great many of 'em nowadays," said Adam.
"For one nightingale there are a thousand sparrows," replied
"Well, now," said Adam; "don't ye think that even the chirp
of a sparrow is worth something?"
"No doubt of it," replied the traveller. "Even the
chirp of a sparrow must have some fitting place in the grand harmony
which embraces all created things, and is beyond the range of our
"That's true, sir," said Adam thoughtfully; "that's quite
true. . . . An', t' most o' folks would rather have their own
sparrow than onybody else's nightingale."
"Yes," replied the traveller "and it's a very natural
mistake, with those who don't know the difference between the one
and the other. . . . But, we're wandering away from the story of
Robert Walker, my friend. Pray go on."
"Yes, yes," replied Adam. "Well, as I was saying,
when Robert Walker was a child, he was rather delicate, an' so his
parents agreed to bring him up a scholar. An' i' this case, it
turned out what yan may call a happy choice; for, ye see, he was of
a thowtful nature, an' all through life he was about as well-livin'
a man as ever stepped shoe-leather: an', if I've ony skill about
such like things, I consider that the right sort o' stuff to mak
parsons on. . . .
"Well, now, when ye get to Seathwaite, ye must go by all
means into t' chapel-garth; an' there ye'll find his gravestone.
It's a large blue slab, supported by two upright stones; an' on it
ye'll find these words: 'In memory of the Rev. Robert Walker, who
died on the 25th of June, 1802, in the 93rd year of his age, and
67th year of his curacy at Seathwaite. Also of Ann, his wife,
who died on the 28th of January, 1800, in the 93rd year of her age.
Also Elizabeth Robinson, their eldest daughter, who died 3rd of
February, 1829, aged 81 years.' Now, there's a great deal said
on that gravestone, in a few words. I've read it scores o'
times, just as if I'd never seen it afore. Ye see, there's
fadder, mudder, an, dowter lyin' together i' yan grave; an' their
three ages come to two hundred an' sixty-seven years. But,
Robert Walker's way of life was the maist wonderful thing of all. .
"Ye see, when Robert was a lile lad, t' parson at Seathwaite
kept school i' t' chapel, an' Robert went there, to larn to read an'
write, among other fell-side lads, little dreamin' at that time,
mabbe (may be), that he would have to preach, an' teach school, i'
the varra same place, afterwards, for sixty-seven years of his
life-time. Well, at after he had larnt to read an' write, he
went away, ower t' hills, to be schoolmaster at Lowes-watter; and
whilst he was there, teachin' readin', writin', an' arithmetic, to
t' lads an' lasses o' Lowes-watter, he went to schoo' hissen', at
neets, an' at bye-times, to Mr. Forest, who was the curate o' Lowes-watter.
Well, I believe t' curate took to Robert Walker fearfully; an' he
spare't no pains to get him on; for he saw that he was made o' good
stuff. An' they studied varra sair togidder; till, at last,
between the two, Robert was qualified to take holy orders; an' it
ended in him being ordain't as a parson, which was the varra thing
he'd set his heart on. Well, it fell out that two curacies
happen't to be vacant at that time; an' like as if it must be,
Robert was the varra man waitin' for t' job. Yan was at Torver
i' Coniston Vale, an' tother was at Seathwaite, where Robert was
born, the varra chapel where he'd gone to school when he was a
lile lad, sixteen year afore. Well, ye may guess for yersen,
it was nobbut thin pikein', noather at t' yan place nor tudder,
for Seathwaite was just worth five pound a year, with a lile bit of
a cottage for t' parson; an' Torver was worth five pound a year,
without ony mak of a place for t' parson to put his yed intull,
so, there was nae fat to be had noather way. But, ye see,
Robert had always a warm side to his native place; beside, mind ye,
he had some thowts o' gettin' wed, an' that made him think about t'
cottage, ye knaw. Well, t' end on it was that he took Seathut,
― which was varra natural. An' then he got wed to a canny,
decent sarvant lass, i' Seathut, that had about forty pound i' t'
bank; an' a lang and a happy life they had together, them two.
Robert would be about six-an'-twenty when he entered on his lile bit
of a parsonage, at Seathut Chapel, an' his wife would be about
twenty-eight; an' t' place where they began life together, they
never left it again till he died. His wife died first, at
ninety-three years of age; an' he died about two years after, at
ninety-three years of age. They're laid together, now, i'
Seathut chapel-garth; which is within a few yards of their awn door.
During his lifetime he had mony offers o' better places, where mair
money was to be made; but he was a man of simple mind, an' nothing
could tempt him fra his little chapel at Seathut, an' his country
way o' life, amang his old neighbours i' Duddon Vale. . . .
"Well, now, ye'll naturally wonder how he managed to mak ends
meet, an' bring up a large family in comfort an' decency, an' save
two thousan' pounds out o' such scanty means, an' well ye may.
I've bin browt up in a plain way mysen'; an' I've sin mony folk that
were force't to mak a little go a lang way. But Robert
Walker's life was a marvel. There never was a man that made
better use of a poor pastur'. There never was a man that did
sae much good out o' such poor means for he was nae niggard, mind
ye; he was a generous man, an' he lived well, too, in his simple
way. Dainties an' finery were out of his line altogether; he
couldn't afford 'em; an' if they'd bin within his reach, he cared
nowt for 'em. Of course, he had sair scrattin' for a lang
time; for though the income o' Seathut Chapel did rise at last to
about seventeen pounds, all told, it was nobbut a fleabite; an' he
hed to mak out wi' a lock o' odds an' ends teachin' school, writin'
letters an' agreements, hay-makin', sheep-shearin', gardenin', owt
that he could mak an honest penny by. But, for yan thing, he
was blest with as good a wife as ever man had. They'd a hard
tug, but they were content amang it; an' they both pulled yan way,
an' that's a great matter. They lived good lives; they spaired
nae pains; an' they wasted nae time. Eight hours a day, for
five days i' t' week, an' four hours on a Saturday, he kept school i'
t' little chapel for there was nae school-house. Whilst he
was teachin', he used to sit inside t' altar-rails, with the
communion-table for his desk, an' a spinnin'-wheel by his side,
for he span whilst he taught. I think I can see him sittin'
there now, with his fine, lang face, an' his grey hair; dress in a
rough blue frock, wi' great horn buttons on it; a check lin shirt,
wi' a leather strap round his neck for a stock; a coarse apron;
knee-breeches o' rough blue cloth; thick ribbed stockin's; an' a
heavy pair o' wooden clogs, plated wi' iron. That was his
common week-day wear. But Robert Walker's wark wasn't done
when t' school hours were over. Till t' time came for evening
prayer afore they went to bed, every hand was at work in his little
cottage, an' he was the busiest o' them all, cardin', an' spinnin'
flax an' wool; or makin' rush-dips; or dressin' hides, knittin',
readin', writin', mendin' clothes, or makin' shoes, an' he sat
there, workin' among 'em, an' guidin' 'em a', with a kind word here,
an' a kind word there, for he was a varra gentle man. An'
I've often heard 'em say that he was quite a dab at a bit o'
tailorin'; or shoemakin'. Such things as these he could turn
his hand to when there was nowt else to call him off. But he
worked hard with his pen, too, at makin' wills, an' drawin' up
deeds, an' agreements, an' writin' letters, an' sic like, for t'
farmers, an' fell-side folk, round about; particular about Christmas
an' Candlemas, when he had sae much wark o' that kind to do that he
was sometimes force't to sit at his desk all neet through, an'
mind ye, it never made nae difference to what he had to do t' next
day. . . .
"He had a garden, too; an' he always kept it i' good trim,
with his own hand. An' then he kept a few sheep, an' a couple
o' cows; and these needed attendin' to day by day. Beside
this, he rented three acres o' lond; an' he had about three-quarters
of an acre o' glebe loud, an' this he farmed his-sen, without ony
help out of his own family. He fed an' looked after his own
cattle; he cleaned his own byre; he weshed an' shore his own sheep;
an' there was nae kind o' wark about his bit o' lond that was too
hard or too humble for him. He looked after it his-sen, an' he
took a pride in it. T' parson's lond was about as weel done to
as ony i' Duddon Vale. . . .
"But I haven't quite done yet. . . . When t' time o year cam
round, he used to help his neighbours wi' their hay-makin', an'
their sheep-sheerin'; an' mind ye he was reckon't yan o' t' deftest
honds at sheep-sheerin' in all our country-side. T' farmers
didn't pay him for his wark i' money. They all gev him a
cleease o' wool, an' a sheet o' hay a-piece, yance a year. T'
hay was to be as mich as he could carry away fra t' field in a
blanket. T' wool was carded an' spun at his own house for
sale; an' when it was ready, he'd tak thirty or forty pound on't on
his back, an' trudge away wi' 't seven or eight miles to market. . .
"I sometimes think it'd mak a good picter o' owd times to see
t' parson muckin' his byre out, or trampin down Duddon Vale to
market, wi' his wool on his back. We see nowt o' that mak
nowadays. . . .
"Now, tea was a thing that he never used neither him nor
his wife. They'd bin browt up o' oatmeal porridge an' milk,
an' they stuck to t' owd diet to the last, though, toward t' latter
end o' their time, when tea was gettin' common, they kept it i' t'
house for t' use o' visitors. Their only firin' was peat, an'
dried heather, an' sic like. T' peat he gat out o' mosses his-sen,
an' he stacked it his-sen; an' he made his own candles out o'
rush-pith an' mutton-fat. For flesh-meat they killed ane o'
their own sheep now an' then; an' about t' back end o' t' year they
generally killed a cow, an' saited it, an' dried it for winter use.
It was a common practice for them to boil all the week's meat at
yance, on a Sunday, so that they could give a mess o' broth a-piece
to ony o' t' congregation that cam fra a lang distance; an' then
they had the meat cold through the week. The family's clothes
were mostly made up amang theirsens, out o' stuff o' their own
spinnin'; an' they were always comfortably clad, in a simple, homely
way. An' this was how he lived an' wrought, for the
sixty-seven year that he was our parson at Seathut Chapel. An'
out o' this he browt up a large family, i' decency and
respectability; an' he trained 'em up carefully i' good ways.
He was a man that never would owe anything. He paid everybody
their own; he was good to the poor, an' the sick; an' he left two
thousand pounds when he died. . . .
"Ay, I often think of Robert Walker. . . . I remember him
well. . . .He was a thowtful man; but whatever happened, he was
never crabbed nor sour. In his quiet way, he was always of a
cheerful turn; and yet, there was something about him that nae
mortal man could tak liberties with. When he was i' t' chapel,
on a Sunday, he looked like some grand owd patriarch, with his noble
face, an' his grey hair, an' his tall figure. He had a fine
voice, too, deep-toned, an' mellow, though it began to tremble a
bit after his wife died. I've heard my fadder say that he
never listen't to t' parson after his voice began to fail, but it
browt watter to his een. Ye see, he was ninety-one when his
wife died. I remember her funeral. She was carried to
her grave by three daughters, an' a grand-daughter. An' they
tied a napkin to t' coffin, an' t'aad man took tother end into his
hand, an' so he followed t' corpse into t' church, for, ye see, he
was nearly blind; an' there wasn't mony dry een that day.
After that he began to fall away fast. He had to be led into
t' sarvice; an', sometimes, when he looked at t' seat where his wife
used to sit, his voice began to tremble, an' tears ran down his
cheek, whilst he was preachin'. He lived about two years after
the death of his wife; but he needed care, for he was hastenin' to
his end. The night before he died, his daughter led him to t'
door, as usual, to look at the sky, before he went to rest. He
gazed quietly round for a minute or two, and the only words he said
were, 'How clear the moon shines to-night!' They put him to
bed; an' t' next mornin', they found him cold an' still; an' his
face was as calm as t' face of a sleepin' child."
"An' so died that fine old country parson," said the
traveller. "Oh, that my last end may be like his!"
"Ay," said Adam; "we may all say, 'Amen' to that. . . . He
lies i' Seathwaite Chapel-garth, now; but if ever man went to
heaven, I think Robert Walker did."
"Even so," replied the traveller; "for that man's life was
the life of an angel upon earth:
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head."
"They say there's but five upon this
isle; we are three of them; if th' other two be brained
like us, the state totters."
IN the meantime,
news of the arrival at the King's Head of a strange traveller, who
had eaten a whole goose to his dinner, bones and all, had
filtered out into the little town, chiefly through the medium of
Sally, the servant lass, with whom it lost nothing. In that
sleepy country nook, where every man knew the number, and kind, and
cost of the buttons upon his neighbour's coat, and where the even
tenor of life crept on the same, from day to day, through uneventful
years, even such an incident as this was a kind of God-send, which
raised unwonted bubbles upon the stagnant pool. The news flow
from mouth to mouth, with a rapidity only found in places where life
is so still that everybody seems to stand waiting to hear of
something new. Little Broughton was in a great ferment that
day. The butcher leaned upon the half-door of his shop talking
to the baker; the saddler slips into the grocer's with the news; and
the villagers stood in twos and threes, in close conversation at the
cottage-doors. The barber, who was the two-legged newspaper
of the town, was in his glory that day; and he published edition
after edition of the news, with amazing rapidity; and scarcely an
hour had elapsed from the time of the first issue, before the
gastronomic feat originally attributed to our hero had swollen to
alarming dimensions, by the addition of an apple pie, a pound of
cheese, three pints of ale, and two bottles of wine; and, according
to some accounts the meal, was still going on, as everyone might see
who liked to look in at the parlour window of the King's Head.
Indeed, several village idlers, impelled by irresistible curiosity,
had already begun to creep towards the front of the hotel, in the
hope of catching a glimpse of our hero. The first intimation
he had of the state of things outside was the noise made by a
drunken fellow who came reeling up to the front of the house,
shouting and tossing his arms wildly about, attended by a little
circle of admiring tormentors.
Floundering up to the front door, he cried out, "Where's t'
man 'at's etten t' goose? Turn him out! I'll oather
eight (eat) him or feight (fight) him for a thaasan' paand, brass
daan! What, we're not to be ower-face't wi' show-folk, are we?
Turn him out! I'll have a penk at his piggin, if I ha' to pay
for t' garthin' on't! Here's a lile Browton lad 'at'll tackle
him ony minute, if he has a goose in him! Turn him out!
I'll worry him, just has he stan's goose an' all! Turn him
out, I tell ye, or I'll rive him out, bi't scuff o' t' neck!"
Here he was staggering in at the doorway, when he was stopt
by the landlady, who pushed him back into the street.
"Now, gan thi ways out," said she; "gan thi ways out, thou
rackle fool! I'll not ha' tho in here; so I've tell't to!
Away wi' tho, now, an mak nae boddennent, or I'll fetch t' contable
to tho, thoo bledderin' ninny!"
"Ye'll fetch t' constable to mo, will ye? Well, fetch
him then, an' bring a big un while ye're at it! Ye'll fetch
t' constable, eh? An' what'll he du, when he comes? Will
he gobble mo up, think ye? Fetch him, an' be sharp, he'll
find mo somewheer aboot his lug, when he londs! Shaff; ye
under-size't foo-mart. If ye bring ony constables to me I'll
mak smiddy-smudge on 'em! What, is there nae drinkin'-shops
i' t' taan but yaars? 'Marry, come up,' said Clincher!
'Our dame's for gurdle-ceake an' tea;
Our Betty's aw for thick pez-keale;
Let ilk yen fancy what they will,
An' my delight's i' guid Strang yell!'
If ye've ony consate o' yersen, turn out! I'se here!
Elebben stun ten, of a good sooart saand, wind an' limb!
Whoop, Dragon, mi darlin'. Wag thi left ear!
'We went ower to Davie Clay Daubin,
An' faith a rare caper we had:
We'd eatin', an' drinkin', an' dancin',
An' roarin', an' singin' like mad;
Turn out, I say! . . . I had fourteen raands wi' a monkey in a
dust-hole, yance, at White'aven! Come up, an' be rubbed!
'Wa, John, what manishment's tis,
At tou's gawn to dee for a hizzy!
Aw hard o' this torrable fiss,
An' aw's cum'
It makes nae matter; I'll hev a gill afore I goo, or, I'll poo t'
Some of the mischievous bystanders encouraged him; and first
one, then another, cried, "In wi' tho, Tum!"
And away he went reeling in at the doorway, where he was
again stopped by the landlady.
"Thoo cums nane in here; so I've tell't to!"
"I owe ye nowt, du eh?"
"Nae matter whether thoo does or not. Thoo's o' t' reet
side for runnin,' an' thoo mun stop theer! It'd seem tho
better to be at thi wark! What arto thinkin' on?"
"Think! I'll think no more! There's nowt in it!
Let them think at's beheend i' their rent, like ye! I'll
think no moore, I tell ye! I wur thinkin' when I upset t'horse
an' cart, at Buckman's Ho'. Let them think at likes; I'll ha
noan; it cums to nowt! . . . Turn him out!"
The traveller heard all this through the open window; and he
rose from his seat to look out.
"Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art translated!" said
he, gazing steadily at the boisterous reveller outside; and, turning
to the landlord as he took his seat again, he said, "That's a
fearful wildfowl, my friend! Do you know him?"
"Know him? " replied Adam. "Aye, aye; we know him well
enough. He's a neighbour lad. Poor fellow; he's had bad
luck at top end."
"How do you mean?"
"Well, his cock-loft's in a scrowe."
"Well to tell ye truth, he's not quite all there."
"Oh, I see. Poor fellow!"
"Yes," said Adam; "yen cannot blame the lad for natural
misfortune. He's a bit boddersome, now an' then, poor lad,
when he gets drink, but he's nae harm in him. I blame folk
for givin' him drink; it sets him wrang directly. . . . Tak nae
notice. Our mistress knows how to managed him better than we.
Ye see, I've langish legs, but I've nobbut a short temper, and
that doesn't do. Tak nae notice; Matty'll get him off."
"What's his name?"
"Wellhe's mair names than one, Tommy Dickson, Red Tom,
Flitter an' yan or two forby. . . . He'll be off soon, now.
It generally taks him about a quarter of an hour to finish, if
naebody meddles on him."
Meanwhile Red Tom was still raving in front of the house,
with a knot of village idlers about him.
"Ware hawk!" cried he. "I wur born at t'chime hours!
I can tell fortin'! Bring a pot, wi' some'at in it!
Bowd Slasher is my name! Ware hawk! I live by suction!
Deuce tak the clock, click-clackin' sae,
Still in a body's ear.
"What's to do wi' thin nose, Tommy?"
"Go look; barn owl!" replied Tommy.
And away he went staggering down the street, followed by the
village rabble, and singing,
Ah! Nichol's now laid in his grave,
Bi t' side of his fadder and mudder;
The warl not frae deoth could yen save,
We a' gang off, teane after tother.
During the time Red Tom was raving in front of the house, an
old haymaker, overcome with drink sat crooning drowsily, all alone,
in the taproom, with his chin upon his breast. Hearing the din
outside, he said to the servant lass,
"It's Red Tom," said she; "he's drunk again."
"Take him off!" said the old man; "take him off an' send for
"He's goin' now!" said the lass, looking through the window.
"Bring me another, then," replied the old man, handing the
empty pot to her.
After Red Tom had gone his way, the street quietened down to
its usual stillness, except that a little whispering went on close
by the window, where a few curious villagers had crept slyly up, to
get a peep at the strange traveller. Every word was distinctly
audible, both to our hero and to the landlord, as they sat talking
Adam began to feel uncomfortable.
"Hadn't I better shut the window?" said he.
"No, no," replied the traveller; "leave it open, please.
I like the fresh air."
The whispering went on outside and Adam fidgeted upon his
seat, whilst he tried to drown the sound by speaking in a louder
But the traveller's ears were bent on the talk outside, which
amused him exceedingly, although he made no sign of his secret
"He's not an ower-size't man, considerin' t' bugth (bigness)
of his meals," said one.
"He's not such a fat un, nawther," said another.
"Nawe," replied the first; he looks as if he wur a' bone an'
pax-wax. . . . But, there's a terrible nippin' machine somewheer i'
that lad's inside, I'll awarnd ye."
"He's a rare crop of his awn, hooiver," said the next.
"He has that," continued the first. "It's my opinion
that with a little encouragement that man would turn out a glutton."
"I'd give an odd shillin' to see him feed," said another.
"Why; does he do it for brass, think ye?"
"I'll awarnd he does. There'll be a callyvan here in a
"What girth will he be raand t' chest, think ye."
"Oh mair than he'd think, now."
"I wonder where he's bin browt up."
"Somewhere, I awarnd ye, where there's nae stint. He's
nae mountain-grazer, that yan."
"No, no; not he. A thin pastur would be nae use to a
crayter like that."
"I'll tell ye what, lads; he'd be a terrible piece o'
furniture in a poor man's house."
"Ay, ay, by th' mass! Talk about keepin' t' wolf frae
t' door. Somebody would ha' to dee i' that hole!"
"I wonder if he has ony childer."
"I hope not. A generation o' that mak would never do
for this country."
"Well, well I care nowt who he is, nor where he comes fra;
but, this I will say, he's gettin one inside passenger this
time, drive where he will."
"Thoo means t' goose?"
"Ay, the goose and trimmin's; for I understan' that he put as
mich stuff out o' seet as would fill a hamper, after he'd finished
t' brid. T' barber has a list on't, an' he says it's as mich
as man could poo in a hond-cart, an' a' dainties, too."
"Well, I've bin i' t' carryin' line a good while mysen, but I
never had mich traffic o' that mak."
"Nor me, nawther; mine's bin chiefly poddish an' peaskale,
an' blue milk cheese, an' sic like; an' noo an' then I've starken't
my kite wi bacon an' cabbish, an' lythey yel at a kirn supper, or on
"Ay, ay; that's aboot my kitchen, too, Joe, lad. . . . Here,
tak thi nose oot o' t' leet, an' let's have another peep at him
afore I goo. . . . Well, he's not a faal-lookin' chap; but I'se be
fain when he's gone; I've a wife an' nine chiller at heΰm."
"I wish he'd dee," said Joe.
"Oh, give him time, his turn's comin'," replied the other.
And then they trickled away from the window.
Adam felt relieved when the whisperers outside had gone away.
The traveller, however, had been greatly amused; for he knew right
well that he was the theme of their talk, and he knew why. But
now there came a lull, and his thoughts began to revert to the
journey before him. He looked at his watch. The day had
"Well, now, my good friend," said he, "another half-hour or
so, if you can spare the time, and then I must take the road."
"I can assure ye, sir," said Adam, "Ive had great pleasure in
your company; an' I shall be glad to have another half-hour on't;
but, if ye are for goin' into Langdale this afternoon, it
would'nt be wise to linger here mich langer. If ye start in
about half-an-hour, ye'll hev six hours good dayleet an' ye'll do
it comfortably that is, if ye don't stop too lang upo' t' road."
"Oh, no fear," said the traveller.
"Ye've the pleasantest part o' the day afore ye," continued
Adam; "an't country 'll look fine as evening comes on."
"Yes," replied the traveller. "Twilight travelling is
very beautiful at this time of the year, in a country like this."
"Ah, sir," said Adam, "I've had more pleasure sauntering
alone by Duddon side, when dusk was stealing over the vale than
mortal man can utter!"
"Ah, my friend," said the traveller, "it is only the
beautiful mind that sees the beautiful . . . And, now, for a
farewell bottle!" said he, rising to ring the bell. "Excuse
me, sir," said Adam, laying his hand upon the traveller's arm, "the
stirrup-cup must be mine this day! It's an old custom.
I'm speakin' freely, as if ye was an old friend; an' hope ye'll tak
The traveller looked at Adam, and saw that he meant it.
"Then, so let it be," replied he.
Good master mine, good mistress, pray
Let me in quiet go my way,
THE traveller and
his host sat down to their farewell bottle like old friends who had
been happily associated all their lives. By some fine instinct
ease and confidence had sprung up with wonderful rapidity during
their short acquaintance; and now they began to feel quite at home
with one another. And yet with all Adam's liking for his
guest, the remembrance of the extraordinary meal he had eaten still
hovered about his mind, and puzzled him exceedingly. There was
so much quiet dignity mingled with the genial bearing of the strange
traveller, there was so much unobtrusive refinement about him,
and there was such an utter absence in his manner and appearance of
anything like the coarseness, or the lethargy, usually associated
with gluttony, that Adam could not help still secretly wondering
what manner of man this mysterious wanderer could be.
The traveller saw it all in the frank looks and ill-concealed
bewilderment of his host; and, with a keen relish for the humour of
the thing, he made up his mind to play out the play.
"Come," said Adam; "here's your good health, sir! an' good
luck t'ye, wherever ye may go!"
The traveller lifted his glass.
"Here's to our next meeting!" said he; "and I hope it is not
far off, if God spares our lives!"
"So mote it be!" replied Adam. "I can assure ye, sir,
that it's a great pleasure to meet with a man of good capacity, in a
country nook like this."
There was a sly ring of sarcastic wit in the words, which
made the traveller's eyes twinkle with glee.
Adam was still thinking of the stranger's noontide feat, and
he gave a physiological turn to the conversation, which our hero
"Now, I hope ye'll not think me too personal," said Adam;
"but, judging from appearances, you ought to live a lang time."
"I dare say you are right, so far as appearances go,"
replied the traveller.
"Now," continued Adam; "a man of an open temper and a good
disposition will live langer than a man of an evil, designin' turn
"And happier, too," said the traveller.
"Ye see," continued Adam, "whatever happens, his mind's free,
an' sweet, an' full of fresh air; an' he's not hamper't neet and day
with a nasty burden o' jugglin' anxieties that he cannot unload."
"It's one of the greatest blessings in life," replied the
"It is indeed," continued Adam; "it goes a lang way towards
health of body, too. . . . Ay, with common care, ye ought to live a
good while. . . . But don't ye think now that ye're rather inclined
to a full habit of body?"
"Ay," said Adam, in a slow and thoughtful tone; "ay! . . .
D'ye sleep well, now?"
"Ay," said Adam; "that's better. . . . Now, I suppose, ye've
no particular failin' spots i' yer inside?"
"Well, I feel a kind of craving, sometimes."
"Ay, I see. . . . Where does it take ye mostly?"
"About here," replied the traveller, laying his hand upon his
"How oft d'ye feel it?"
"Two or three times a day, generally."
"Do ye use pills, now?"
"Ye tak nowt, then?"
"Oh, yes, at meal-times."
"Ay, ay, no doubt o' that," replied Adam ye'll want a bit
o' some'at then, of course. . . . I suppose oatmeal poddish is not
much i' your line?"
"I thowt sae. . . .Capital stuff, now, for regulatin' your
machinery! . . . Now, I'll tell ye what's a good thing for creatin'
Here the traveller could contain himself no longer.
Bursting into laughter, he cried
"Oh! my dear fellow, if you had recommended something to
lessen the appetite I have, it would have been more to the point!"
Adam began to think he had carried the thing too far, and the
conversation gradually drifted into general themes, till the
half-hour had run out, and the traveller rose to go.
"Now, my friend," said he, "the time is up; and I must bid
"Well, now, good-bye to ye, sir!" said Adam; "an' God bless
ye! We shall be right glad to see ye if ever ye come our way
"Good-bye; an' God bless you!" replied he. "If ever I
come within ten miles of Broughton, the distance shall not divide
The sun was still high in the heavens, and, as he went his
way, with light step and renewed vigour, out at the town-end, the
village folk looked after him from their cottage-doors, and cried,
"That's him! an' a canny-like chap, too, he is?"
And long after he had gone away the strange man who ate the
goose at the "King's Head" was the theme of many a fireside tale in
little Broughton town.
Three years had glided after the stranger's visit to
Broughton, and again the summer sunshine filled the air with golden
glow. The woodland leaves were large and long, and orchard
boughs were bending with fruit. The wild flower gladdened the
dusty wayside once more with its simple beauty; and the wayworn
traveller's weary step was cheered by the song of birds and the
scent of the hayfield. The green earth was gay with new
flowers, and every living thing rejoiced in the general joy of
It was in this sweet season of the year that our hero once
more wandered afoot through pleasant Furness, towards the romantic
lakes and mountains of northern England. The chirrupy glee of
haymakers in the fields fell pleasantly upon his ear as he walked in
at the lowmost end of Broughton town, and up towards his old
quarters at the "King's Head." He paused before entering the
inn, and looked around. There was no visible change in the
drowsy little town, and the old inn looked sleepy, sweet, and
comfortable as before. With a lively remembrance of his former
visit, he entered the house, and walked into the parlour he had
occupied three years ago. The window was open again; the same
sun was shining upon the same quiet street; and all was the same.
The three years' interval looked like a dream. He examined the
furniture; it was exactly the same, and in the same order; and the
table looked as if he had only just finished the dinner he had eaten
three years before, and the cloth had been removed whilst he had
taken a nap. He almost imagined that the room smelt of the same
goose still. He rang the bell, and in came the same servant lass,
the same "Sally," though more stout and womanly in appearance.
"Can I have some dinner?" said he.
She paused, she stared, she blushed, and stood stock still. . . .
"Dinner," said she; "I'll see, sir." And, closing the door, she ran
back into the kitchen.
There was nobody in the kitchen but the landlady. "He's here again!"
"Who's here again?"
"T' man that eat t' goose!"
"Thou never says!"
The landlord was in the cellar. The landlady shouted down to him.
"He's here again!"
"Who's here again?"
"T' goose chap!"
Adam came running up the cellar steps. "Where is he?" said he,
rolling down his shirt-sleeves.
"He's i' t' parlour."
"Are you sure it's t' same man?"
"It's the same 'at eat t' goose," said Sally; "an' he wants
"The divul he does," said Adam. "Well, he shall have as much as he
can eat, if we have to rob a shop for't! . . . Here, gi mo mi coat. I'll go an' speak tull him."
The traveller advanced to meet Adam, as he came stalking in.
"Well, my old friend," said he, grasping his hand; "I'm here again,
you see! And how are you?"
"Well, I'm right glad to see ye, sir," said Adam. "I've often
wondered whether I should ever have the pleasure of meeting' wi' ye
again. I'm downright fain to see ye. . . .But stop now. Afore we go
any farther. We can talk after. About dinner. We haven't a goose for
ye this time; but ――"
"Stop, my friend," said the traveller; "my appetite has fallen away
since I was here last."
"Ay," said Adam. "How's that?"
"Take a seat, and I'll tell you."
And when our hero had explained the truth of the matter, and how the
gipsy woman had carried away the remains of the goose, Adam sprang
to his feet, and, grasping his hand, he cried, "I wouldn't ha'
missed this for a thousan' pound! Bi t' mass: ye've takken a load
off my mind."
And the two were good friends to the last.
But, in spite of the traveller's confession, the people of Broughton
still prefer the story of the man that ate the goose, in its