Part 10 out of 13
various members of his flock frequently came to see me. They were
honest plain men, not exactly of the description which I wished
for, but still good sort of people, and I was glad to see them.
Once on a time, when some of them were with me, one of them
inquired whether I was fervent in prayer. "Very fervent," said I.
"And do you read the Scriptures often?" said he. "No," said I.
"Why not?" said he. "Because I am afraid to see there my own
condemnation." They looked at each other, and said nothing at the
time. On leaving me, however, they all advised me to read the
Scriptures with fervency and prayer.
'As I had told these honest people, I shrank from searching the
Scriptures; the remembrance of the fatal passage was still too
vivid in my mind to permit me. I did not wish to see my
condemnation repeated, but I was very fervent in prayer, and almost
hoped that God would yet forgive me by virtue of the blood-shedding
of the Lamb. Time passed on, my affairs prospered, and I enjoyed a
certain portion of tranquillity. Occasionally, when I had nothing
else to do, I renewed my studies. Many is the book I read,
especially in my native language, for I was always fond of my
native language, and proud of being a Welshman. Amongst the books
I read were the odes of the great Ab Gwilym, whom thou, friend,
hast never heard of; no, nor any of thy countrymen, for you are an
ignorant race, you Saxons, at least with respect to all that
relates to Wales and Welshmen. I likewise read the book of Master
Ellis Wyn. The latter work possessed a singular fascination for
me, on account of its wonderful delineations of the torments of the
'But man does not love to be alone; indeed, the Scripture says that
it is not good for man to be alone. I occupied my body with the
pursuits of husbandry, and I improved my mind with the perusal of
good and wise books; but, as I have already said, I frequently
sighed for a companion with whom I could exchange ideas, and who
could take an interest in my pursuits; the want of such a one I
more particularly felt in the long winter evenings. It was then
that the image of the young person whom I had seen in the house of
the preacher frequently rose up distinctly before my mind's eye,
decked with quiet graces--hang not down your head, Winifred--and I
thought that of all the women in the world I should wish her to be
my partner, and then I considered whether it would be possible to
obtain her. I am ready to acknowledge, friend, that it was both
selfish and wicked in me to wish to fetter any human being to a
lost creature like myself, conscious of having committed a crime
for which the Scriptures told me there is no pardon. I had,
indeed, a long struggle as to whether I should make the attempt or
not--selfishness however prevailed. I will not detain your
attention with relating all that occurred at this period--suffice
it to say that I made my suit and was successful; it is true that
the old man, who was her guardian, hesitated, and asked several
questions respecting my state of mind. I am afraid that I partly
deceived him, perhaps he partly deceived himself; he was pleased
that I had adopted his profession--we are all weak creatures. With
respect to the young person, she did not ask many questions; and I
soon found that I had won her heart. To be brief, I married her;
and here she is, the truest wife that ever man had, and the
kindest. Kind I may well call her, seeing that she shrinks not
from me, who so cruelly deceived her, in not telling her at first
what I was. I married her, friend; and brought her home to my
little possession, where we passed our time very agreeably. Our
affairs prospered, our garners were full, and there was coin in our
purse. I worked in the field; Winifred busied herself with the
dairy. At night I frequently read books to her, books of my own
country, friend; I likewise read to her songs of my own, holy songs
and carols which she admired, and which yourself would perhaps
admire, could you understand them; but I repeat, you Saxons are an
ignorant people with respect to us, and a perverse, inasmuch as you
despise Welsh without understanding it. Every night I prayed
fervently, and my wife admired my gift of prayer.
'One night, after I had been reading to my wife a portion of Ellis
Wyn, my wife said, "This is a wonderful book, and containing much
true and pleasant doctrine; but how is it that you, who are so fond
of good books, and good things in general, never read the Bible?
You read me the book of Master Ellis Wyn, you read me sweet songs
of your own composition, you edify me with your gift of prayer, but
yet you never read the Bible." And when I heard her mention the
Bible I shook, for I thought of my own condemnation. However, I
dearly loved my wife, and as she pressed me, I commenced on that
very night reading the Bible. All went on smoothly for a long
time; for months and months I did not find the fatal passage, so
that I almost thought that I had imagined it. My affairs prospered
much the while, so that I was almost happy,--taking pleasure in
everything around me,--in my wife, in my farm, my books and
compositions, and the Welsh language; till one night, as I was
reading the Bible, feeling particularly comfortable, a thought
having just come into my head that I would print some of my
compositions, and purchase a particular field of a neighbour--O
God--God! I came to the fatal passage.
'Friend, friend, what shall I say? I rushed out. My wife followed
me, asking me what was the matter. I could only answer with
groans--for three days and three nights I did little else than
groan. Oh the kindness and solicitude of my wife! "What is the
matter husband, dear husband?" she was continually saying. I
became at last more calm. My wife still persisted in asking me the
cause of my late paroxysm. It is hard to keep a secret from a
wife, especially such a wife as mine, so I told my wife the tale,
as we sat one night--it was a mid-winter night--over the dying
brands of our hearth, after the family had retired to rest, her
hand locked in mine, even as it is now.
'I thought she would have shrunk from me with horror; but she did
not; her hand, it is true, trembled once or twice; but that was
all. At last she gave mine a gentle pressure; and, looking up in
my face, she said--what do you think my wife said, young man?'
'It is impossible for me to guess,' said I.
"Let us go to rest, my love; your fears are all groundless."'
Getting late--Seven years old--Chastening--Go forth--London Bridge-
-Same eyes--Common occurrence--Very sleepy.
'And so I still say,' said Winifred, sobbing. 'Let us retire to
rest, dear husband; your fears are groundless. I had hoped long
since that your affliction would have passed away, and I still hope
that it eventually will; so take heart, Peter, and let us retire to
rest, for it is getting late.'
'Rest!' said Peter; 'there is no rest for the wicked!'
'We are all wicked,' said Winifred; 'but you are afraid of a
shadow. How often have I told you that the sin of your heart is
not the sin against the Holy Ghost: the sin of your heart is its
natural pride, of which you are scarcely aware, to keep down which
God in His mercy permitted you to be terrified with the idea of
having committed a sin which you never committed.'
'Then you will still maintain,' said Peter, 'that I never committed
the sin against the Holy Spirit?'
'I will,' said Winifred; 'you never committed it. How should a
child seven years old commit a sin like that?'
'Have I not read my own condemnation?' said Peter. 'Did not the
first words which I read in the Holy Scripture condemn me? "He who
committeth the sin against the Holy Ghost shall never enter into
the kingdom of God."'
'You never committed it,' said Winifred.
'But the words! the words! the words!' said Peter.
'The words are true words,' said Winifred, sobbing; 'but they were
not meant for you, but for those who have broken their profession,
who, having embraced the cross, have receded from their Master.'
'And what sayst thou to the effect which the words produced upon
me?' said Peter. 'Did they not cause me to run wild through Wales
for years, like Merddin Wyllt of yore; thinkest thou that I opened
the book at that particular passage by chance?'
'No,' said Winifred, 'not by chance; it was the hand of God
directed you, doubtless for some wise purpose. You had become
satisfied with yourself. The Lord wished to rouse thee from thy
state of carnal security, and therefore directed your eyes to that
'Does the Lord then carry out His designs by means of guile?' said
Peter with a groan. 'Is not the Lord true? Would the Lord impress
upon me that I had committed a sin of which I am guiltless? Hush,
Winifred! hush! thou knowest that I have committed the sin.'
'Thou hast not committed it,' said Winifred, sobbing yet more
violently. 'Were they my last words, I would persist that thou
hast not committed it, though, perhaps, thou wouldst, but for this
chastening; it was not to convince thee that thou hast committed
the sin, but rather to prevent thee from committing it, that the
Lord brought that passage before thy eyes. He is not to blame, if
thou art wilfully blind to the truth and wisdom of His ways.'
'I see thou wouldst comfort me,' said Peter, 'as thou hast often
before attempted to do. I would fain ask the young man his
'I have not yet heard the whole of your history,' said I.
'My story is nearly told,' said Peter; 'a few words will complete
it. My wife endeavoured to console and reassure me, using the
arguments which you have just heard her use, and many others, but
in vain. Peace nor comfort came to my breast. I was rapidly
falling into the depths of despair; when one day Winifred said to
me, "I see thou wilt be lost, if we remain here. One resource only
remains. Thou must go forth, my husband, into the wide world, and
to comfort thee I will go with thee." "And what can I do in the
wide world?" said I, despondingly. "Much," replied Winifred, "if
you will but exert yourself; much good canst thou do with the
blessing of God." Many things of the same kind she said to me; and
at last I arose from the earth to which God had smitten me, and
disposed of my property in the best way I could, and went into the
world. We did all the good we were able, visiting the sick,
ministering to the sick, and praying with the sick. At last I
became celebrated as the possessor of a great gift of prayer. And
people urged me to preach, and Winifred urged me too, and at last I
consented, and I preached. I--I--outcast Peter, became the
preacher Peter Williams. I, the lost one, attempted to show others
the right road. And in this way I have gone on for thirteen years,
preaching and teaching, visiting the sick, and ministering to them,
with Winifred by my side heartening me on. Occasionally I am
visited with fits of indescribable agony, generally on the night
before the Sabbath; for I then ask myself, how dare I, the outcast,
attempt to preach the word of God? Young man, my tale is told; you
seem in thought!'
'I am thinking of London Bridge,' said I.
'Of London Bridge!' said Peter and his wife.
'Yes,' said I, 'of London Bridge. I am indebted for much wisdom to
London Bridge; it was there that I completed my studies. But to
the point. I was once reading on London Bridge a book which an
ancient gentlewoman, who kept the bridge, was in the habit of
lending me; and there I found written, "Each one carries in his
breast the recollection of some sin which presses heavy upon him.
Oh, if men could but look into each other's hearts, what blackness
would they find there!"'
'That's true,' said Peter. 'What is the name of the book?'
'The Life of Blessed Mary Flanders.'
'Some popish saint, I suppose,' said Peter.
'As much of a saint, I daresay,' said I, 'as most popish ones; but
you interrupted me. One part of your narrative brought the passage
which I have quoted into my mind. You said that after you had
committed this same sin of yours you were in the habit, at school,
of looking upon your schoolfellows with a kind of gloomy
superiority, considering yourself a lone monstrous being who had
committed a sin far above the daring of any of them. Are you sure
that many others of your schoolfellows were not looking upon you
and the others with much the same eyes with which you were looking
'How!' said Peter, 'dost thou think that they had divined my
'Not they,' said I, 'they were, I daresay, thinking too much of
themselves and of their own concerns to have divined any secrets of
yours. All I mean to say is, they had probably secrets of their
own, and who knows that the secret sin of more than one of them was
not the very sin which caused you so much misery?'
'Dost thou then imagine,' said Peter, 'the sin against the Holy
Ghost to be so common an occurrence?'
'As you have described it,' said I, 'of very common occurrence,
especially amongst children, who are, indeed, the only beings
likely to commit it.'
'Truly,' said Winifred, 'the young man talks wisely.'
Peter was silent for some moments, and appeared to be reflecting;
at last, suddenly raising his head, he looked me full in the face,
and, grasping my hand with vehemence, he said, 'Tell me, young man,
only one thing, hast thou, too, committed the sin against the Holy
'I am neither Papist nor Methodist,' said I, 'but of the Church,
and, being so, confess myself to no one, but keep my own counsel; I
will tell thee, however, had I committed, at the same age, twenty
such sins as that which you committed, I should feel no uneasiness
at these years--but I am sleepy, and must go to rest.'
'God bless thee, young man,' said Winifred.
Low and calm--Much better--Blessed effect--No answer--Such a
Before I sank to rest I heard Winifred and her husband conversing
in the place where I had left them; both their voices were low and
calm. I soon fell asleep, and slumbered for some time. On my
awakening I again heard them conversing, but they were now in their
cart; still the voices of both were calm. I heard no passionate
bursts of wild despair on the part of the man. Methought I
occasionally heard the word Pechod proceeding from the lips of
each, but with no particular emphasis. I supposed they were
talking of the innate sin of both their hearts.
'I wish that man were happy,' said I to myself, 'were it only for
his wife's sake, and yet he deserves to be happy for his own.'
The next day Peter was very cheerful, more cheerful than I had ever
seen him. At breakfast his conversation was animated, and he
smiled repeatedly. I looked at him with the greatest interest, and
the eyes of his wife were almost constantly fixed upon him. A
shade of gloom would occasionally come over his countenance, but it
almost instantly disappeared; perhaps it proceeded more from habit
than anything else. After breakfast he took his Welsh Bible and
sat down beneath a tree. His eyes were soon fixed intently on the
volume; now and then he would call his wife, show her some passage,
and appeared to consult with her. The day passed quickly and
'Your husband seems much better,' said I, at evening fall, to
Winifred, as we chanced to be alone.
'He does,' said Winifred; 'and that on the day of the week when he
was wont to appear most melancholy, for to-morrow is the Sabbath.
He now no longer looks forward to the Sabbath with dread, but
appears to reckon on it. What a happy change! and to think that
this change should have been produced by a few words, seemingly
careless ones, proceeding from the mouth of one who is almost a
stranger to him. Truly, it is wonderful.'
'To whom do you allude,' said I; 'and to what words?'
'To yourself, and to the words which came from your lips last
night, after you had heard my poor husband's history. Those
strange words, drawn out with so much seeming indifference, have
produced in my husband the blessed effect which you have observed.
They have altered the current of his ideas. He no longer thinks
himself the only being in the world doomed to destruction,--the
only being capable of committing the never-to-be-forgiven sin.
Your supposition that that which harrowed his soul is of frequent
occurrence amongst children has tranquillised him; the mist which
hung over his mind has cleared away, and he begins to see the
groundlessness of his apprehensions. The Lord has permitted him to
be chastened for a season, but his lamp will only burn the brighter
for what he has undergone.'
Sunday came, fine and glorious as the last. Again my friends and
myself breakfasted together--again the good family of the house on
the hill above, headed by the respectable master, descended to the
meadow. Peter and his wife were ready to receive them. Again
Peter placed himself at the side of the honest farmer, and Winifred
by the side of her friend. 'Wilt thou not come?' said Peter,
looking towards me with a face in which there was much emotion.
'Wilt thou not come?' said Winifred, with a face beaming with
kindness. But I made no answer, and presently the party moved
away, in the same manner in which it had moved on the preceding
Sabbath, and I was again left alone.
The hours of the Sabbath passed slowly away. I sat gazing at the
sky, the trees, and the water. At last I strolled up to the house
and sat down in the porch. It was empty; there was no modest
maiden there, as on the preceding Sabbath. The damsel of the book
had accompanied the rest. I had seen her in the procession, and
the house appeared quite deserted. The owners had probably left it
to my custody, so I sat down in the porch, quite alone. The hours
of the Sabbath passed heavily away.
At last evening came, and with it the party of the morning. I was
now at my place beneath the oak. I went forward to meet them.
Peter and his wife received me with a calm and quiet greeting, and
passed forward. The rest of the party had broken into groups.
There was a kind of excitement amongst them, and much eager
whispering. I went to one of the groups; the young girl of whom I
have spoken more than once was speaking: 'Such a sermon,' said
she, 'it has never been our lot to hear; Peter never before spoke
as he has done this day--he was always a powerful preacher, but oh,
the unction of the discourse of this morning, and yet more of that
of the afternoon, which was the continuation of it!' 'What was the
subject?' said I, interrupting her. 'Ah! you should have been
there, young man, to have heard it; it would have made a lasting
impression upon you. I was bathed in tears all the time; those who
heard it will never forget the preaching of the good Peter Williams
on the Power, Providence, and Goodness of God.'
Deep interest--Goodly country--Two mansions--Welshman's Candle--
Beautiful universe--Godly discourse--Fine church--Points of
doctrine--Strange adventures--Paltry cause--Roman pontiff--Evil
On the morrow I said to my friends, 'I am about to depart;
farewell!' 'Depart!' said Peter and his wife, simultaneously;
'whither wouldst thou go?' 'I can't stay here all my days,' I
replied. 'Of course not,' said Peter; 'but we had no idea of
losing thee so soon: we had almost hoped that thou wouldst join
us, become one of us. We are under infinite obligations to thee.'
'You mean I am under infinite obligations to you,' said I. 'Did
you not save my life?' 'Perhaps so, under God,' said Peter; 'and
what hast thou not done for me? Art thou aware that, under God,
thou hast preserved my soul from despair? But, independent of
that, we like thy company, and feel a deep interest in thee, and
would fain teach thee the way that is right. Hearken, to-morrow we
go into Wales; go with us.' 'I have no wish to go into Wales,'
said I. 'Why not?' said Peter, with animation. 'Wales is a goodly
country; as the Scripture says--a land of brooks of water, of
fountains and depths, that spring out of valleys and hills, a land
whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig
'I daresay it is a very fine country,' said I, 'but I have no wish
to go there just now; my destiny seems to point in another
direction, to say nothing of my trade.' 'Thou dost right to say
nothing of thy trade,' said Peter, smiling, 'for thou seemest to
care nothing about it; which has led Winifred and myself to suspect
that thou art not altogether what thou seemest; but, setting that
aside, we should be most happy if thou wouldst go with us into
Wales.' 'I cannot promise to go with you into Wales,' said I;
'but, as you depart to-morrow, I will stay with you through the
day, and on the morrow accompany you part of the way.' 'Do,' said
Peter: 'I have many people to see to-day, and so has Winifred; but
we will both endeavour to have some serious discourse with thee,
which, perhaps, will turn to thy profit in the end.'
In the course of the day the good Peter came to me, as I was seated
beneath the oak, and, placing himself by me, commenced addressing
me in the following manner:-
'I have no doubt, my young friend, that you are willing to admit
that the most important thing which a human being possesses is his
soul; it is of infinitely more importance than the body, which is a
frail substance, and cannot last for many years; but not so the
soul, which, by its nature, is imperishable. To one of two
mansions the soul is destined to depart, after its separation from
the body, to heaven or hell; to the halls of eternal bliss, where
God and His holy angels dwell, or to the place of endless misery,
inhabited by Satan and his grisly companions. My friend, if the
joys of heaven are great, unutterably great, so are the torments of
hell unutterably so. I wish not to speak of them, I wish not to
terrify your imagination with the torments of hell: indeed, I like
not to think of them; but it is necessary to speak of them
sometimes, and to think of them sometimes, lest you should sink
into a state of carnal security. Authors, friend, and learned men,
are not altogether agreed as to the particulars of hell. They all
agree, however, in considering it a place of exceeding horror.
Master Ellis Wyn, who by the bye was a churchman, calls it, amongst
other things, a place of strong sighs, and of flaming sparks.
Master Rees Pritchard, who was not only a churchman, but Vicar of
Llandovery, and flourished about two hundred years ago--I wish many
like him flourished now--speaking of hell, in his collection of
sweet hymns called the "Welshman's Candle," observes,
'"The pool is continually blazing; it is very deep, without any
known bottom, and the walls are so high, that there is neither hope
nor possibility of escaping over them."
'But, as I told you just now, I have no great pleasure in talking
of hell. No, friend, no; I would sooner talk of the other place,
and of the goodness and hospitality of God amongst His saints
And then the excellent man began to dilate upon the joys of heaven,
and the goodness and hospitality of God in the mansions above;
explaining to me, in the clearest way, how I might get there.
And when he had finished what he had to say, he left me, whereupon
Winifred drew nigh, and sitting down by me began to address me. 'I
do not think,' said she, 'from what I have observed of thee, that
thou wouldst wish to be ungrateful, and yet, is not thy whole life
a series of ingratitude, and to whom?--to thy Maker. Has He not
endowed thee with a goodly and healthy form; and senses which
enable thee to enjoy the delights of His beautiful universe--the
work of His hands? Canst thou not enjoy, even to rapture, the
brightness of the sun, the perfume of the meads, and the song of
the dear birds which inhabit among the trees? Yes, thou canst; for
I have seen thee, and observed thee doing so. Yet, during the
whole time that I have known thee, I have not heard proceed from
thy lips one single word of praise or thanksgiving to . . .'
And in this manner the admirable woman proceeded for a considerable
time, and to all her discourse I listened with attention; and when
she had concluded, I took her hand and said, 'I thank you,' and
that was all.
On the next day everything was ready for our departure. The good
family of the house came to bid us farewell. There were shaking of
hands, and kisses, as on the night of our arrival.
And as I stood somewhat apart, the young girl of whom I have spoken
so often came up to me, and holding out her hand, said, 'Farewell,
young man, wherever thou goest.' Then, after looking around her,
she said, 'It was all true you told me. Yesterday I received a
letter from him thou wottest of; he is coming soon. God bless you,
young man; who would have thought thou knewest so much!'
So, after we had taken our farewell of the good family, we
departed, proceeding in the direction of Wales. Peter was very
cheerful, and enlivened the way with godly discourse and spiritual
hymns, some of which were in the Welsh language. At length I said,
'It is a pity that you did not continue in the Church; you have a
turn for Psalmody, and I have heard of a man becoming a bishop by
means of a less qualification.'
'Very probably,' said Peter; 'more the pity. But I have told you
the reason of my forsaking it. Frequently, when I went to the
church door, I found it barred, and the priest absent; what was I
to do? My heart was bursting for want of some religious help and
comfort; what could I do? as good Master Rees Pritchard observes in
his "Candle for Welshmen":-
'"It is a doleful thing to see little children burning on the hot
coals for want of help; but yet more doleful to see a flock of
souls falling into the burning lake for want of a priest."'
'The Church of England is a fine church,' said I; 'I would not
advise any one to speak ill of the Church of England before me.'
'I have nothing to say against the church,' said Peter; 'all I wish
is that it would fling itself a little more open, and that its
priests would a little more bestir themselves; in a word, that it
would shoulder the cross and become a missionary church.'
'It is too proud for that,' said Winifred.
'You are much more of a Methodist,' said I, 'than your husband.
But tell me,' said I, addressing myself to Peter, 'do you not
differ from the church in some points of doctrine? I, of course,
as a true member of the church, am quite ignorant of the peculiar
opinions of wandering sectaries.'
'Oh the pride of that church!' said Winifred, half to herself;
'We differ in no points of doctrine,' said Peter; 'we believe all
the church believes, though we are not so fond of vain and
superfluous ceremonies, snow-white neckcloths and surplices, as the
church is. We likewise think that there is no harm in a sermon by
the road-side, or in holding free discourse with a beggar beneath a
hedge, or a tinker,' he added, smiling; 'it was those superfluous
ceremonies, those surplices and white neckcloths, and, above all,
the necessity of strictly regulating his words and conversation,
which drove John Wesley out of the church, and sent him wandering
up and down as you see me, poor Welsh Peter, do.'
Nothing farther passed for some time; we were now drawing near the
hills: at last I said, 'You must have met with a great many
strange adventures since you took up this course of life?'
'Many,' said Peter, 'it has been my lot to meet with; but none more
strange than one which occurred to me only a few weeks ago. You
were asking me, not long since, whether I believed in devils? Ay,
truly, young man; and I believe that the abyss and the yet deeper
unknown do not contain them all; some walk about upon the green
earth. So it happened, some weeks ago, that I was exercising my
ministry about forty miles from here. I was alone, Winifred being
slightly indisposed, staying for a few days at the house of an
acquaintance; I had finished afternoon's worship--the people had
dispersed, and I was sitting solitary by my cart under some green
trees in a quiet retired place; suddenly a voice said to me, "Good-
evening, Pastor"; I looked up, and before me stood a man, at least
the appearance of a man, dressed in a black suit of rather a
singular fashion. He was about my own age, or somewhat older. As
I looked upon him, it appeared to me that I had seen him twice
before whilst preaching. I replied to his salutation, and
perceiving that he looked somewhat fatigued, I took out a stool
from the cart, and asked him to sit down. We began to discourse; I
at first supposed that he might be one of ourselves, some wandering
minister; but I was soon undeceived. Neither his language nor his
ideas were those of any one of our body. He spoke on all kinds of
matters with much fluency; till at last he mentioned my preaching,
complimenting me on my powers. I replied, as well I might, that I
could claim no merit of my own, and that if I spoke with any
effect, it was only by the grace of God. As I uttered these last
words, a horrible kind of sneer came over his countenance, which
made me shudder, for there was something diabolical in it. I said
little more, but listened attentively to his discourse. At last he
said that I was engaged in a paltry cause, quite unworthy of one of
my powers. "How can that be," said I, "even if I possessed all the
powers in the world, seeing that I am engaged in the cause of our
'The same kind of sneer again came on his countenance, but he
almost instantly observed, that if I chose to forsake this same
miserable cause, from which nothing but contempt and privation was
to be expected, he would enlist me into another, from which I might
expect both profit and renown. An idea now came into my head, and
I told him firmly that if he wished me to forsake my present
profession and become a member of the Church of England, I must
absolutely decline; that I had no ill-will against that church, but
I thought I could do most good in my present position, which I
would not forsake to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Thereupon he
burst into a strange laughter, and went away, repeating to himself,
"Church of England! Archbishop of Canterbury!" A few days after,
when I was once more in a solitary place, he again appeared before
me, and asked me whether I had thought over his words, and whether
I was willing to enlist under the banners of his master, adding
that he was eager to secure me, as he conceived that I might be
highly useful to the cause. I then asked him who his master was;
he hesitated for a moment, and then answered, "The Roman Pontiff."
"If it be he," said I, "I can have nothing to do with him; I will
serve no one who is an enemy of Christ." Thereupon he drew near to
me, and told me not to talk so much like a simpleton; that as for
Christ, it was probable that no such person ever existed, but that
if He ever did, He was the greatest impostor the world ever saw.
How long he continued in this way I know not, for I now considered
that an evil spirit was before me, and shrank within myself,
shivering in every limb; when I recovered myself and looked about
me, he was gone. Two days after, he again stood before me, in the
same place, and about the same hour, renewing his propositions, and
speaking more horribly than before. I made him no answer;
whereupon he continued; but suddenly hearing a noise behind him, he
looked round and beheld Winifred, who had returned to me on the
morning of that day. "Who are you?" said he, fiercely. "This
man's wife," said she, calmly fixing her eyes upon him. "Begone
from him, unhappy one, thou temptest him in vain." He made no
answer, but stood as if transfixed: at length, recovering himself,
he departed, muttering "Wife! wife! If the fool has a wife, he
will never do for us."'
The border--Thank you both--Pipe and fiddle--Taliesin.
We were now drawing very near the hills, and Peter said, 'If you
are to go into Wales, you must presently decide, for we are close
upon the border.'
'Which is the border?' said I.
'Yon small brook,' said Peter, 'into which the man on horseback who
is coming towards us is now entering.'
'I see it,' said I, 'and the man; he stops in the middle of it, as
if to water his steed.'
We proceeded till we had nearly reached the brook. 'Well,' said
Peter, 'will you go into Wales?'
'What should I do in Wales?' I demanded.
'Do!' said Peter, smiling, 'learn Welsh.'
I stopped my little pony. 'Then I need not go into Wales; I
already know Welsh.'
'Know Welsh!' said Peter, staring at me.
'Know Welsh!' said Winifred, stopping her cart.
'How and when did you learn it?' said Peter.
'From books, in my boyhood.'
'Read Welsh!' said Peter; 'is it possible?'
'Read Welsh!' said Winifred; 'is it possible?'
'Well, I hope you will come with us,' said Peter.
'Come with us, young man,' said Winifred; 'let me, on the other
side of the brook, welcome you into Wales.'
'Thank you both,' said I, 'but I will not come.'
'Wherefore?' exclaimed both, simultaneously.
'Because it is neither fit nor proper that I cross into Wales at
this time, and in this manner. When I go into Wales, I should wish
to go in a new suit of superfine black, with hat and beaver,
mounted on a powerful steed, black and glossy, like that which bore
Greduv to the fight of Catraeth. I should wish, moreover, to see
the Welshmen assembled on the border ready to welcome me with pipe
and fiddle, and much whooping and shouting, and to attend me to
Wrexham, or even as far as Machynllaith, where I should wish to be
invited to a dinner at which all the bards should be present, and
to be seated at the right hand of the president, who, when the
cloth was removed, should arise, and, amidst cries of silence,
exclaim--"Brethren and Welshmen, allow me to propose the health of
my most respectable friend the translator of the odes of the great
Ab Gwilym, the pride and glory of Wales."'
'How!' said Peter, 'hast thou translated the works of the mighty
'With notes critical, historical, and explanatory.'
'Come with us, friend,' said Peter. 'I cannot promise such a
dinner as thou wishest, but neither pipe nor fiddle shall be
'Come with us, young man,' said Winifred, 'even as thou art, and
the daughters of Wales shall bid thee welcome.'
'I will not go with you,' said I. 'Dost thou see that man in the
'Who is staring at us so, and whose horse has not yet done
drinking? Of course I see him.'
'I shall turn back with him. God bless you.'
'Go back with him not,' said Peter; 'he is one of those whom I like
not, one of the clibberty-clabber, as Master Ellis Wyn observes--
turn not with that man.'
'Go not back with him,' said Winifred. 'If thou goest with that
man, thou wilt soon forget all our profitable counsels; come with
'I cannot; I have much to say to him. Kosko Divvus, Mr.
'Kosko Divvus, Pal,' said Mr. Petulengro, riding through the water;
'are you turning back?'
I turned back with Mr. Petulengro.
Peter came running after me: 'One moment, young man,--who and what
'I must answer in the words of Taliesin,' said I: 'none can say
with positiveness whether I be fish or flesh, least of all myself.
God bless you both!'
'Take this,' said Peter, and he thrust his Welsh Bible into my
At a funeral--Two days ago--Very coolly--Roman woman--Well and
hearty--Somewhat dreary--Plum pudding--Roman fashion--Quite
different--The dark lane--Beyond the time--Fine fellow--Such a
struggle--Like a wild cat--Fair Play--Pleasant enough spot--No
So I turned back with Mr. Petulengro. We travelled for some time
in silence; at last we fell into discourse. 'You have been in
Wales, Mr. Petulengro?'
'Ay, truly, brother.'
'What have you been doing there?'
'Assisting at a funeral.'
'At whose funeral?'
'Mrs. Herne's, brother.'
'Is she dead, then?'
'As a nail, brother.'
'How did she die?'
'By hanging, brother.'
'I am lost in astonishment,' said I; whereupon Mr. Petulengro,
lifting his sinister leg over the neck of his steed, and adjusting
himself sideways in the saddle, replied, with great deliberation,
'Two days ago I happened to be at a fair not very far from here; I
was all alone by myself, for our party were upwards of forty miles
off, when who should come up but a chap that I knew, a relation, or
rather a connection, of mine--one of those Hernes. "Aren't you
going to the funeral?" said he; and then, brother, there passed
between him and me, in the way of questioning and answering, much
the same as has just now passed between me and you; but when he
mentioned hanging, I thought I could do no less than ask who hanged
her, which you forgot to do. "Who hanged her?" said I; and then
the man told me that she had done it herself; been her own hinjiri;
and then I thought to myself what a sin and shame it would be if I
did not go to the funeral, seeing that she was my own mother-in-
law. I would have brought my wife, and, indeed, the whole of our
party, but there was no time for that; they were too far off, and
the dead was to be buried early the next morning; so I went with
the man, and he led me into Wales, where his party had lately
retired, and when there, through many wild and desolate places to
their encampment, and there I found the Hernes, and the dead body--
the last laid out on a mattress, in a tent, dressed Romaneskoenaes
in a red cloak, and big bonnet of black beaver. I must say for the
Hernes that they took the matter very coolly; some were eating,
others drinking, and some were talking about their small affairs;
there was one, however, who did not take the matter so coolly, but
took on enough for the whole family, sitting beside the dead woman,
tearing her hair, and refusing to take either meat or drink; it was
the child Leonora. I arrived at night-fall, and the burying was
not to take place till the morning, which I was rather sorry for,
as I am not very fond of them Hernes, who are not very fond of
anybody. They never asked me to eat or drink, notwithstanding I
had married into the family; one of them, however, came up and
offered to fight me for five shillings; had it not been for them I
should have come back as empty as I went--he didn't stand up five
minutes. Brother, I passed the night as well as I could, beneath a
tree, for the tents were full, and not over clean; I slept little,
and had my eyes about me, for I knew the kind of people I was
'Early in the morning the funeral took place. The body was placed
not in a coffin but on a bier, and carried not to a churchyard but
to a deep dell close by; and there it was buried beneath a rock,
dressed just as I have told you; and this was done by the bidding
of Leonora, who had heard her bebee say that she wished to be
buried, not in gorgious fashion, but like a Roman woman of the old
blood, the kosko puro rati, brother. When it was over, and we had
got back to the encampment, I prepared to be going. Before
mounting my gry, however, I bethought me to ask what could have
induced the dead woman to make away with herself--a thing so
uncommon amongst Romanies; whereupon one squinted with his eyes, a
second spirted saliver into the air, and a third said that he
neither knew nor cared; she was a good riddance, having more than
once been nearly the ruin of them all, from the quantity of
brimstone she carried about her. One, however, I suppose rather
ashamed of the way in which they had treated me, said at last that
if I wanted to know all about the matter none could tell me better
than the child, who was in all her secrets, and was not a little
like her; so I looked about for the child, but could find her
nowhere. At last the same man told me that he shouldn't wonder if
I found her at the grave; so I went back to the grave, and sure
enough there I found the child Leonora, seated on the ground above
the body, crying and taking on; so I spoke kindly to her, and said,
"How came all this, Leonora? tell me all about it." It was a long
time before I could get any answer; at last she opened her mouth
and spoke, and these were the words she said, "It was all along of
your Pal"; and then she told me all about the matter--how Mrs.
Herne could not abide you, which I knew before; and that she had
sworn your destruction, which I did not know before. And then she
told me how she found you living in the wood by yourself, and how
you were enticed to eat a poisoned cake; and she told me many other
things that you wot of, and she told me what perhaps you don't wot,
namely, that finding you had been removed, she, the child, had
tracked you a long way, and found you at last well and hearty, and
no ways affected by the poison, and heard you, as she stood
concealed, disputing about religion with a Welsh Methody. Well,
brother, she told me all this; and, moreover, that when Mrs. Herne
heard of it, she said that a dream of hers had come to pass. I
don't know what it was, but something about herself, a tinker, and
a dean; and then she added that it was all up with her, and that
she must take a long journey. Well, brother, that same night
Leonora, waking from her sleep in the tent where Mrs. Herne and she
were wont to sleep, missed her bebee, and, becoming alarmed, went
in search of her, and at last found her hanging from a branch; and
when the child had got so far, she took on violently, and I could
not get another word from her; so I left her, and here I am.'
'And I am glad to see you, Mr. Petulengro; but this is sad news
which you tell me about Mrs. Herne.'
'Somewhat dreary, brother; yet, perhaps, after all, it is a good
thing that she is removed; she carried so much Devil's tinder about
with her, as the man said.'
'I am sorry for her,' said I; 'more especially as I am the cause of
her death--though the innocent one.'
'She could not bide you, brother, that's certain; but that is no
reason'--said Mr. Petulengro, balancing himself upon the saddle--
'that is no reason why she should prepare drow to take away your
essence of life; and, when disappointed, to hang herself upon a
tree: if she was dissatisfied with you, she might have flown at
you, and scratched your face; or, if she did not judge herself your
match, she might have put down five shillings for a turn-up between
you and some one she thought could beat you--myself, for example--
and so the matter might have ended comfortably; but she was always
too fond of covert ways, drows, and brimstones. This is not the
first poisoning affair she has been engaged in.'
'You allude to drabbing bawlor.'
'Bah!' said Mr. Petulengro; 'there's no harm in that. No, no! she
has cast drows in her time for other guess things than bawlor; both
Gorgios and Romans have tasted of them, and died. Did you never
hear of the poisoned plum pudding?'
'Then I will tell you about it. It happened about six years ago, a
few months after she had quitted us--she had gone first amongst her
own people, as she called them; but there was another small party
of Romans, with whom she soon became very intimate. It so happened
that this small party got into trouble; whether it was about a
horse or an ass, or passing bad money, no matter to you and me, who
had no hand in the business; three or four of them were taken and
lodged in--Castle, and amongst them was a woman; but the sherengro,
or principal man of the party, and who it seems had most hand in
the affair, was still at large. All of a sudden a rumour was
spread abroad that the woman was about to play false, and to 'peach
the rest. Said the principal man, when he heard it, "If she does,
I am nashkado." Mrs. Herne was then on a visit to the party, and
when she heard the principal man take on so, she said, "But I
suppose you know what to do?" "I do not," said he. "Then hir mi
devlis," said she, "you are a fool. But leave the matter to me, I
know how to dispose of her in Roman fashion." Why she wanted to
interfere in the matter, brother, I don't know, unless it was from
pure brimstoneness of disposition--she had no hand in the matter
which had brought the party into trouble--she was only on a visit,
and it had happened before she came; but she was always ready to
give dangerous advice. Well, brother, the principal man listened
to what she had to say, and let her do what she would; and she made
a pudding, a very nice one, no doubt--for, besides plums, she put
in drows and all the Roman condiments that she knew of; and she
gave it to the principal man, and the principal put it into a
basket and directed it to the woman in--Castle, and the woman in
the castle took it and--'
'Ate of it,' said I; 'just like my case!'
'Quite different, brother; she took it, it is true, but instead of
giving way to her appetite, as you might have done, she put it
before the rest whom she was going to impeach; perhaps she wished
to see how they liked it before she tasted it herself; and all the
rest were poisoned, and one died, and there was a precious outcry,
and the woman cried loudest of all; and she said, "It was my death
was sought for; I know the man, and I'll be revenged." And then
the Poknees spoke to her and said, "Where can we find him?" and she
said, "I am awake to his motions; three weeks from hence, the night
before the full moon, at such and such an hour, he will pass down
such a lane with such a man."'
'Well,' said I, 'and what did the Poknees do?'
'Do, brother! sent for a plastramengro from Bow Street, quite
secretly, and told him what the woman had said; and the night
before the full moon, the plastramengro went to the place which the
juwa had pointed out, all alone, brother; and in order that he
might not be too late, he went two hours before his time. I know
the place well, brother, where the plastramengro placed himself
behind a thick holly tree, at the end of a lane, where a gate leads
into various fields, through which there is a path for carts and
horses. The lane is called the dark lane by the Gorgios, being
much shaded by trees. So the plastramengro placed himself in the
dark lane behind the holly tree; it was a cold February night,
dreary though; the wind blew in gusts, and the moon had not yet
risen, and the plastramengro waited behind the tree till he was
tired, and thought he might as well sit down; so he sat down, and
was not long in falling to sleep, and there he slept for some
hours; and when he awoke the moon had risen, and was shining
bright, so that there was a kind of moonlight even in the dark
lane; and the plastramengro pulled out his watch, and contrived to
make out that it was just two hours beyond the time when the men
should have passed by. Brother, I do not know what the
plastramengro thought of himself, but I know, brother, what I
should have thought of myself in his situation. I should have
thought, brother, that I was a drowsy scoppelo, and that I had let
the fellow pass by whilst I was sleeping behind a bush. As it
turned out, however, his going to sleep did no harm, but quite the
contrary: just as he was going away, he heard a gate slam in the
direction of the fields, and then he heard the low stumping of
horses, as if on soft ground, for the path in those fields is
generally soft, and at that time it had been lately ploughed up.
Well, brother, presently he saw two men on horseback coming towards
the lane through the field behind the gate; the man who rode
foremost was a tall big fellow, the very man he was in quest of;
the other was a smaller chap, not so small either, but a light,
wiry fellow, and a proper master of his hands when he sees occasion
for using them. Well, brother, the foremost man came to the gate,
reached at the hank, undid it, and rode through, holding it open
for the other. Before, however, the other could follow into the
lane, out bolted the plastramengro from behind the tree, kicked the
gate to with his foot, and, seizing the big man on horse-back, "You
are my prisoner," said he. I am of opinion, brother, that the
plastramengro, notwithstanding he went to sleep, must have been a
regular fine fellow.'
'I am entirely of your opinion,' said I; 'but what happened then?'
'Why, brother, the Rommany chal, after he had somewhat recovered
from his surprise, for it is rather uncomfortable to be laid hold
of at night-time, and told you are a prisoner; more especially when
you happen to have two or three things on your mind which, if
proved against you, would carry you to the nashky,--the Rommany
chal, I say, clubbed his whip, and aimed a blow at the
plastramengro, which, if it had hit him on the skull, as was
intended, would very likely have cracked it. The plastramengro,
however, received it partly on his staff, so that it did him no
particular damage. Whereupon, seeing what kind of customer he had
to deal with, he dropped his staff and seized the chal with both
his hands, who forthwith spurred his horse, hoping, by doing so,
either to break away from him or fling him down; but it would not
do--the plastramengro held on like a bull-dog, so that the Rommany
chal, to escape being hauled to the ground, suddenly flung himself
off the saddle, and then happened in that lane, close by the gate,
such a struggle between those two--the chal and the runner--as I
suppose will never happen again. But you must have heard of it;
every one has heard of it; every one has heard of the fight between
the Bow Street engro and the Rommany chal.'
'I never heard of it till now.'
'All England rung of it, brother. There never was a better match
than between those two. The runner was somewhat the stronger of
the two--all those engroes are strong fellows--and a great deal
cooler, for all of that sort are wondrous cool people--he had,
however, to do with one who knew full well how to take his own
part. The chal fought the engro, brother, in the old Roman
fashion. He bit, he kicked, and screamed like a wild cat of
Benygant; casting foam from his mouth and fire from his eyes.
Sometimes he was beneath the engro's legs, and sometimes he was
upon his shoulders. What the engro found the most difficult was to
get a firm hold of the chal, for no sooner did he seize the chal by
any part of his wearing apparel, than the chal either tore himself
away, or contrived to slip out of it; so that in a little time the
chal was three parts naked; and as for holding him by the body, it
was out of the question, for he was as slippery as an eel. At last
the engro seized the chal by the Belcher's handkerchief, which he
wore in a knot round his neck, and do whatever the chal could, he
could not free himself; and when the engro saw that, it gave him
fresh heart, no doubt: "It's of no use," said he; "you had better
give in; hold out your hands for the darbies, or I will throttle
'And what did the other fellow do, who came with the chal?' said I.
'I sat still on my horse, brother.'
'You!' said I. 'Were you the man?'
'I was he, brother.'
'And why did you not help your comrade?'
'I have fought in the ring, brother.'
'And what had fighting in the ring to do with fighting in the
'You mean not fighting. A great deal, brother; it taught me to
prize fair play. When I fought Staffordshire Dick, t'other side of
London, I was alone, brother. Not a Rommany chal to back me, and
he had all his brother pals about him; but they gave me fair play,
brother; and I beat Staffordshire Dick, which I couldn't have done
had they put one finger on his side the scale; for he was as good a
man as myself, or nearly so. Now, brother, had I but bent a finger
in favour of the Rommany chal, the plastramengro would never have
come alive out of the lane; but I did not, for I thought to myself
fair play is a precious stone; so you see, brother--'
'That you are quite right, Mr. Petulengro, I see that clearly; and
now, pray proceed with your narration; it is both moral and
But Mr. Petulengro did not proceed with his narration, neither did
he proceed upon his way; he had stopped his horse, and his eyes
were intently fixed on a broad strip of grass beneath some lofty
trees, on the left side of the road. It was a pleasant enough
spot, and seemed to invite wayfaring people, such as we were, to
rest from the fatigues of the road, and the heat and vehemence of
the sun. After examining it for a considerable time, Mr.
Petulengro said, 'I say, brother, that would be a nice place for a
'I daresay it would,' said I, 'if two people were inclined to
'The ground is smooth,' said Mr. Petulengro; 'without holes or
ruts, and the trees cast much shade. I don't think, brother, that
we could find a better place,' said Mr. Petulengro, springing from
'But you and I don't want to fight!'
'Speak for yourself, brother,' said Mr. Petulengro. 'However, I
will tell you how the matter stands. There is a point at present
between us. There can be no doubt that you are the cause of Mrs.
Herne's death, innocently, you will say, but still the cause. Now,
I shouldn't like it to be known that I went up and down the country
with a pal who was the cause of my mother-in-law's death, that's to
say, unless he gave me satisfaction. Now, if I and my pal have a
tussle, he gives me satisfaction; and, if he knocks my eyes out,
which I know you can't do, it makes no difference at all, he gives
me satisfaction; and he who says to the contrary knows nothing of
gypsy law, and is a dinelo into the bargain.'
'But we have no gloves!'
'Gloves!' said Mr. Petulengro, contemptuously, 'gloves! I tell you
what, brother, I always thought you were a better hand at the
gloves than the naked fist; and, to tell you the truth, besides
taking satisfaction for Mrs. Herne's death, I wish to see what you
can do with your mawleys; so now is your time, brother, and this is
your place, grass and shade, no ruts or holes; come on, brother, or
I shall think you what I should not like to call you.'
Offence and defence--I'm satisfied--Fond of solitude--Possession of
property--Chal Devlehi--Winding path.
And when I heard Mr. Petulengro talk in this manner, which I had
never heard him do before, and which I can only account for by his
being fasting and ill-tempered, I had of course no other
alternative than to accept his challenge; so I put myself into a
posture which I deemed the best both for offence and defence, and
the tussle commenced; and when it had endured for about half an
hour, Mr. Petulengro said, 'Brother, there is much blood on your
face; you had better wipe it off'; and when I had wiped it off, and
again resumed my former attitude, Mr. Petulengro said, 'I think
enough has been done, brother, in the affair of the old woman; I
have, moreover, tried what you are able to do, and find you, as I
thought, less apt with the naked mawleys than the stuffed gloves;
nay, brother, put your hands down, I'm satisfied; blood has been
shed, which is all that can be reasonably expected for an old woman
who carried so much brimstone about her as Mrs. Herne.'
So the struggle ended, and we resumed our route, Mr. Petulengro
sitting sideways upon his horse as before, and I driving my little
pony-cart; and when we had proceeded about three miles, we came to
a small public-house, which bore the sign of the Silent Woman,
where we stopped to refresh our cattle and ourselves; and as we sat
over our bread and ale, it came to pass that Mr. Petulengro asked
me various questions, and amongst others, how I intended to dispose
of myself; I told him that I did not know; whereupon, with
considerable frankness, he invited me to his camp, and told me that
if I chose to settle down amongst them, and become a Rommany chal,
I should have his wife's sister Ursula, who was still unmarried,
and occasionally talked of me.
I declined his offer, assigning as a reason the recent death of
Mrs. Herne, of which I was the cause, although innocent. 'A pretty
life I should lead with those two,' said I, 'when they came to know
it.' 'Pooh,' said Mr. Petulengro, 'they will never know it. I
shan't blab, and as for Leonora, that girl has a head on her
shoulders.' 'Unlike the woman in the sign,' said I, 'whose head is
cut off. You speak nonsense, Mr. Petulengro; as long as a woman
has a head on her shoulders she'll talk,--but, leaving women out of
the case, it is impossible to keep anything a secret; an old master
of mine told me so long ago. I have moreover another reason for
declining your offer. I am at present not disposed for society. I
am become fond of solitude. I wish I could find some quiet place
to which I could retire to hold communion with my own thoughts, and
practise, if I thought fit, either of my trades.' 'What trades?'
said Mr. Petulengro. 'Why, the one which I have lately been
engaged in, or my original one, which I confess I should like
better, that of a kaulo-mescro.' 'Ah, I have frequently heard you
talk of making horse-shoes,' said Mr. Petulengro; 'I, however,
never saw you make one, and no one else that I am aware; I don't
believe--come, brother, don't be angry, it's quite possible that
you may have done things which neither I nor any one else has seen
you do, and that such things may some day or other come to light,
as you say nothing can be kept secret. Be that, however, as it
may, pay the reckoning and let us be going; I think I can advise
you to just such a kind of place as you seem to want.'
'And how do you know that I have got wherewithal to pay the
reckoning?' I demanded. 'Brother,' said Mr. Petulengro, 'I was
just now looking in your face, which exhibited the very look of a
person conscious of the possession of property; there was nothing
hungry or sneaking in it. Pay the reckoning, brother.'
And when we were once more upon the road, Mr. Petulengro began to
talk of the place which he conceived would serve me as a retreat
under present circumstances. 'I tell you frankly, brother, that it
is a queer kind of place, and I am not very fond of pitching my
tent in it, it is so surprisingly dreary. It is a deep dingle in
the midst of a large field, on an estate about which there has been
a lawsuit for some years past. I daresay you will be quiet enough,
for the nearest town is five miles distant, and there are only a
few huts and hedge public-houses in the neighbourhood. Brother, I
am fond of solitude myself, but not that kind of solitude; I like a
quiet heath, where I can pitch my house, but I always like to have
a gay stirring place not far off, where the women can pen dukkerin,
and I myself can sell or buy a horse, if needful--such a place as
the Chong Gav. I never feel so merry as when there, brother, or on
the heath above it, where I taught you Rommany.'
Shortly after this discourse we reached a milestone, and a few
yards from the milestone, on the left hand, was a crossroad.
Thereupon Mr. Petulengro said, 'Brother, my path lies to the left
if you choose to go with me to my camp, good; if not, Chal
Devlehi.' But I again refused Mr. Petulengro's invitation, and,
shaking him by the hand, proceeded forward alone; and about ten
miles farther on I reached the town of which he had spoken, and,
following certain directions which he had given, discovered, though
not without some difficulty, the dingle which he had mentioned. It
was a deep hollow in the midst of a wide field; the shelving sides
were overgrown with trees and bushes, a belt of sallows surrounded
it on the top, a steep winding path led down into the depths,
practicable, however, for a light cart, like mine; at the bottom
was an open space, and there I pitched my tent, and there I
contrived to put up my forge. 'I will here ply the trade of
kaulomescro,' said I.
Highly poetical--Volundr--Grecian mythology--Making a petul--
Tongues of flame--Hammering--Spite of dukkerin--Heaviness.
It has always struck me that there is something highly poetical
about a forge. I am not singular in this opinion: various
individuals have assured me that they can never pass by one, even
in the midst of a crowded town, without experiencing sensations
which they can scarcely define, but which are highly pleasurable.
I have a decided penchant for forges, especially rural ones, placed
in some quaint quiet spot--a dingle, for example, which is a
poetical place, or at a meeting of four roads, which is still more
so; for how many a superstition--and superstition is the soul of
poetry--is connected with these cross roads! I love to light upon
such a one, especially after nightfall, as everything about a forge
tells to most advantage at night; the hammer sounds more solemnly
in the stillness; the glowing particles scattered by the strokes
sparkle with more effect in the darkness, whilst the sooty visage
of the sastramescro, half in shadow and half illumed by the red and
partial blaze of the forge, looks more mysterious and strange. On
such occasions I draw in my horse's rein, and, seated in the
saddle, endeavour to associate with the picture before me--in
itself a picture of romance--whatever of the wild and wonderful I
have read of in books, or have seen with my own eyes in connection
I believe the life of any blacksmith, especially a rural one, would
afford materials for a highly poetical history. I do not speak
unadvisedly, having the honour to be free of the forge, and
therefore fully competent to give an opinion as to what might be
made out of the forge by some dexterous hand. Certainly, the
strangest and most entertaining life ever written is that of a
blacksmith of the olden north, a certain Volundr, or Velint, who
lived in woods and thickets, made keen swords--so keen, indeed,
that if placed in a running stream they would fairly divide an
object, however slight, which was borne against them by the water,
and who eventually married a king's daughter, by whom he had a son,
who was as bold a knight as his father was a cunning blacksmith. I
never see a forge at night, when seated on the back of my horse, at
the bottom of a dark lane, but I somehow or other associate it with
the exploits of this extraordinary fellow, with many other
extraordinary things, amongst which, as I have hinted before, are
particular passages of my own life, one or two of which I shall
perhaps relate to the reader.
I never associate Vulcan and his Cyclops with the idea of a forge.
These gentry would be the very last people in the world to flit
across my mind whilst gazing at the forge from the bottom of the
dark lane. The truth is, they are highly unpoetical fellows, as
well they may be, connected as they are with the Grecian mythology.
At the very mention of their names the forge burns dull and dim, as
if snowballs had been suddenly flung into it; the only remedy is to
ply the bellows, an operation which I now hasten to perform.
I am in the dingle making a horse-shoe. Having no other horses on
whose hoofs I could exercise my art, I made my first essay on those
of my own horse, if that could be called horse which horse was
none, being only a pony. Perhaps, if I had sought all England, I
should scarcely have found an animal more in need of the kind
offices of the smith. On three of his feet there were no shoes at
all, and on the fourth only a remnant of one, on which account his
hoofs were sadly broken and lacerated by his late journeys over the
hard and flinty roads. 'You belonged to a tinker before,' said I,
addressing the animal, 'but now you belong to a smith. It is said
that the household of the shoemaker invariably go worse shod than
that of any other craft. That may be the case of those who make
shoes of leather, but it shan't be said of the household of him who
makes shoes of iron; at any rate it shan't be said of mine. I tell
you what, my gry, whilst you continue with me, you shall both be
better shod and better fed than you were with your last master.'
I am in the dingle making a petul; and I must here observe that
whilst I am making a horse-shoe the reader need not be surprised if
I speak occasionally in the language of the lord of the horse-shoe-
-Mr. Petulengro. I have for some time past been plying the
peshota, or bellows, endeavouring to raise up the yag, or fire, in
my primitive forge. The angar, or coals, are now burning fiercely,
casting forth sparks and long vagescoe chipes, or tongues of flame;
a small bar of sastra, or iron, is lying in the fire, to the length
of ten or twelve inches, and so far it is hot, very hot, exceeding
hot, brother. And now you see me prala, snatch the bar of iron,
and place the heated end of it upon the covantza, or anvil, and
forthwith I commence cooring the sastra as hard as if I had been
just engaged by a master at the rate of dui caulor, or two
shillings, a day, brother; and when I have beaten the iron till it
is nearly cool, and my arm tired, I place it again in the angar,
and begin again to rouse the fire with the pudamengro, which
signifies the blowing thing, and is another and more common word
for bellows; and whilst thus employed I sing a gypsy song, the
sound of which is wonderfully in unison with the hoarse moaning of
the pudamengro, and ere the song is finished, the iron is again hot
and malleable. Behold, I place it once more on the covantza, and
recommence hammering; and now I am somewhat at fault; I am in want
of assistance; I want you, brother, or some one else, to take the
bar out of my hand and support it upon the covantza, whilst I,
applying a chinomescro, or kind of chisel, to the heated iron, cut
off with a lusty stroke or two of the shukaro baro, or big hammer,
as much as is required for the petul. But having no one to help
me, I go on hammering till I have fairly knocked off as much as I
want, and then I place the piece in the fire, and again apply the
bellows, and take up the song where I left it off; and when I have
finished the song, I take out the iron, but this time with my
plaistra, or pincers, and then I recommence hammering, turning the
iron round and round with my pincers: and now I bend the iron and,
lo and behold! it has assumed something of the outline of a petul.
I am not going to enter into farther details with respect to the
process--it was rather a wearisome one. I had to contend with
various disadvantages; my forge was a rude one, my tools might have
been better; I was in want of one or two highly necessary
implements, but, above all, manual dexterity. Though free of the
forge, I had not practised the albeytarian art for very many years,
never since--but stay, it is not my intention to tell the reader,
at least in this place, how and when I became a blacksmith. There
was one thing, however, which stood me in good stead in my labour,
the same thing which through life has ever been of incalculable
utility to me, and has not unfrequently supplied the place of
friends, money, and many other things of almost equal importance--
iron perseverance, without which all the advantages of time and
circumstance are of very little avail in any undertaking. I was
determined to make a horse-shoe, and a good one, in spite of every
obstacle--ay, in spite of dukkerin. At the end of four days,
during which I had fashioned and refashioned the thing at least
fifty times, I had made a petul such as no master of the craft need
have been ashamed of; with the second shoe I had less difficulty,
and, by the time I had made the fourth, I would have scorned to
take off my hat to the best smith in Cheshire.
But I had not yet shod my little gry: this I proceeded now to do.
After having first well pared the hoofs with my churi, I applied
each petul hot, glowing hot, to the pindro. Oh, how the hoofs
hissed! and, oh, the pleasant pungent odour which diffused itself
through the dingle!--an odour good for an ailing spirit.
I shod the little horse bravely--merely pricked him once, slightly,
with a cafi, for doing which, I remember, he kicked me down; I was
not disconcerted, however, but, getting up, promised to be more
cautious in future; and having finished the operation, I filed the
hoof well with the rin baro, then dismissed him to graze amongst
the trees, and, putting my smaller tools into the muchtar, I sat
down on my stone, and, supporting my arm upon my knee, leaned my
head upon my hand. Heaviness had come over me.
Several causes--Frogs and eftes--Gloom and twilight--What should I
do?--'Our Father'--Fellow-men--What a mercy!--Almost calm--Fresh
store--History of Saul--Pitch dark.
Heaviness had suddenly come over me, heaviness of heart, and of
body also. I had accomplished the task which I had imposed upon
myself, and now that nothing more remained to do, my energies
suddenly deserted me, and I felt without strength, and without
hope. Several causes, perhaps, co-operated to bring about the
state in which I then felt myself. It is not improbable that my
energies had been overstrained during the work the progress of
which I have attempted to describe; and every one is aware that the
results of overstrained energies are feebleness and lassitude--want
of nourishment might likewise have something to do with it. During
my sojourn in the dingle, my food had been of the simplest and most
unsatisfying description, by no means calculated to support the
exertion which the labour I had been engaged upon required; it had
consisted of coarse oaten cakes and hard cheese, and for beverage I
had been indebted to a neighbouring pit, in which, in the heat of
the day, I frequently saw, not golden or silver fish, but frogs and
eftes swimming about. I am, however, inclined to believe that Mrs.
Herne's cake had quite as much to do with the matter as
insufficient nourishment. I had never entirely recovered from the
effects of its poison, but had occasionally, especially at night,
been visited by a grinding pain in the stomach, and my whole body
had been suffused with cold sweat; and indeed these memorials of
the drow have never entirely disappeared--even at the present time
they display themselves in my system, especially after much fatigue
of body and excitement of mind. So there I sat in the dingle upon
my stone, nerveless and hopeless, by whatever cause or causes that
state had been produced--there I sat with my head leaning upon my
hand, and so I continued a long, long time. At last I lifted my
head from my hand, and began to cast anxious, unquiet looks about
the dingle--the entire hollow was now enveloped in deep shade--I
cast my eyes up; there was a golden gleam on the tops of the trees
which grew towards the upper parts of the dingle; but lower down
all was gloom and twilight--yet, when I first sat down on my stone,
the sun was right above the dingle, illuminating all its depths by
the rays which it cast perpendicularly down--so I must have sat a
long, long time upon my stone. And now, once more, I rested my
head upon my hand, but almost instantly lifted it again in a kind
of fear, and began looking at the objects before me--the forge, the
tools, the branches of the trees, endeavouring to follow their
rows, till they were lost in the darkness of the dingle; and now I
found my right hand grasping convulsively the three fore-fingers of
the left, first collectively, and then successively, wringing them
till the joints cracked; then I became quiet, but not for long.
Suddenly I started up, and could scarcely repress the shriek which
was rising to my lips. Was it possible? Yes, all too certain; the
evil one was upon me; the inscrutable horror which I had felt in my
boyhood had once more taken possession of me. I had thought that
it had forsaken me--that it would never visit me again; that I had
outgrown it; that I might almost bid defiance to it; and I had even
begun to think of it without horror, as we are in the habit of
doing of horrors of which we conceive we run no danger; and lo!
when least thought of, it had seized me again. Every moment I felt
it gathering force, and making me more wholly its own. What should
I do?--resist, of course; and I did resist. I grasped, I tore, and
strove to fling it from me; but of what avail were my efforts? I
could only have got rid of it by getting rid of myself: it was a
part of myself, or rather it was all myself. I rushed amongst the
trees, and struck at them with my bare fists, and dashed my head
against them, but I felt no pain. How could I feel pain with that
horror upon me? And then I flung myself on the ground, gnawed the
earth, and swallowed it; and then I looked round; it was almost
total darkness in the dingle, and the darkness added to my horror.
I could no longer stay there; up I rose from the ground, and
attempted to escape. At the bottom of the winding path which led
up the acclivity I fell over something which was lying on the
ground; the something moved, and gave a kind of whine. It was my
little horse, which had made that place its lair; my little horse;
my only companion and friend in that now awful solitude. I reached
the mouth of the dingle; the sun was just sinking in the far west
behind me, the fields were flooded with his last gleams. How
beautiful everything looked in the last gleams of the sun! I felt
relieved for a moment; I was no longer in the horrid dingle. In
another minute the sun was gone, and a big cloud occupied the place
where he had been: in a little time it was almost as dark as it
had previously been in the open part of the dingle. My horror
increased; what was I to do?--it was of no use fighting against the
horror--that I saw; the more I fought against it, the stronger it
became. What should I do: say my prayers? Ah! why not? So I
knelt down under the hedge, and said, 'Our Father'; but that was of
no use; and now I could no longer repress cries--the horror was too
great to be borne. What should I do? run to the nearest town or
village, and request the assistance of my fellow-men? No! that I
was ashamed to do; notwithstanding the horror was upon me, I was
ashamed to do that. I knew they would consider me a maniac, if I
went screaming amongst them; and I did not wish to be considered a
maniac. Moreover, I knew that I was not a maniac, for I possessed
all my reasoning powers, only the horror was upon me--the screaming
horror! But how were indifferent people to distinguish between
madness and the screaming horror? So I thought and reasoned; and
at last I determined not to go amongst my fellow-men, whatever the
result might be. I went to the mouth of the dingle, and there,
placing myself on my knees, I again said the Lord's Prayer; but it
was of no use--praying seemed to have no effect over the horror;
the unutterable fear appeared rather to increase than diminish, and
I again uttered wild cries, so loud that I was apprehensive they
would be heard by some chance passenger on the neighbouring road; I
therefore went deeper into the dingle. I sat down with my back
against a thorn bush; the thorns entered my flesh, and when I felt
them, I pressed harder against the bush; I thought the pain of the
flesh might in some degree counteract the mental agony; presently I
felt them no longer--the power of the mental horror was so great
that it was impossible, with that upon me, to feel any pain from
the thorns. I continued in this posture a long time, undergoing
what I cannot describe, and would not attempt if I were able.
Several times I was on the point of starting up and rushing
anywhere; but I restrained myself, for I knew I could not escape
from myself, so why should I not remain in the dingle? So I
thought and said to myself, for my reasoning powers were still
uninjured. At last it appeared to me that the horror was not so
strong, not quite so strong, upon me. Was it possible that it was
relaxing its grasp, releasing its prey? Oh what a mercy! but it
could not be; and yet--I looked up to heaven, and clasped my hands,
and said, 'Our Father.' I said no more--I was too agitated; and
now I was almost sure that the horror had done its worst.
After a little time I arose, and staggered down yet farther into
the dingle. I again found my little horse on the same spot as
before. I put my hand to his mouth--he licked my hand. I flung
myself down by him, and put my arms round his neck; the creature
whinnied, and appeared to sympathise with me. What a comfort to
have any one, even a dumb brute, to sympathise with me at such a
moment! I clung to my little horse, as if for safety and
protection. I laid my head on his neck, and felt almost calm.
Presently the fear returned, but not so wild as before; it
subsided, came again, again subsided; then drowsiness came over me,
and at last I fell asleep, my head supported on the neck of the
little horse. I awoke; it was dark, dark night--not a star was to
be seen--but I felt no fear, the horror had left me. I arose from
the side of the little horse, and went into my tent, lay down, and
again went to sleep.
I awoke in the morning weak and sore, and shuddering at the
remembrance of what I had gone through on the preceding day; the
sun was shining brightly, but it had not yet risen high enough to
show its head above the trees which fenced the eastern side of the
dingle, on which account the dingle was wet and dank from the dews
of the night. I kindled my fire, and, after sitting by it for some
time to warm my frame, I took some of the coarse food which I have
already mentioned; notwithstanding my late struggle, and the
coarseness of the fare, I ate with appetite. My provisions had by
this time been very much diminished, and I saw that it would be
speedily necessary, in the event of my continuing to reside in the
dingle, to lay in a fresh store. After my meal, I went to the pit
and filled a can with water, which I brought to the dingle, and
then again sat down on my stone. I considered what I should next
do: it was necessary to do something, or my life in this solitude
would be insupportable. What should I do? rouse up my forge and
fashion a horse-shoe? But I wanted nerve and heart for such an
employment; moreover, I had no motive for fatiguing myself in this
manner; my own horse was shod, no other was at hand, and it is hard
to work for the sake of working. What should I do? read? Yes, but
I had no other book than the Bible which the Welsh Methodist had
given me. Well, why not read the Bible? I was once fond of reading
the Bible; ay, but those days were long gone by. However, I did
not see what else I could well do on the present occasion--so I
determined to read the Bible--it was in Welsh; at any rate it might
amuse me. So I took the Bible out of the sack, in which it was
lying in the cart, and began to read at the place where I chanced
to open it. I opened it at that part where the history of Saul
commences. At first I read with indifference, but after some time
my attention was riveted, and no wonder, I had come to the
visitations of Saul--those dark moments of his, when he did and
said such unaccountable things; it almost appeared to me that I was
reading of myself; I, too, had my visitations, dark as ever his
were. Oh, how I sympathised with Saul, the tall dark man! I had
read his life before, but it had made no impression on me; it had
never occurred to me that I was like him; but I now sympathised
with Saul, for my own dark hour was but recently passed, and,
perhaps, would soon return again; the dark hour came frequently on
Time wore away; I finished the book of Saul, and, closing the
volume, returned it to its place. I then returned to my seat on
the stone, and thought of what I had read, and what I had lately
undergone. All at once I thought I felt well-known sensations, a
cramping of the breast, and a tingling of the soles of the feet;
they were what I had felt on the preceding day--they were the
forerunners of the fear. I sat motionless on my stone, the
sensations passed away, and the fear came not. Darkness was now
coming again over the earth; the dingle was again in deep shade; I
roused the fire with the breath of the bellows, and sat looking at
the cheerful glow; it was cheering and comforting. My little horse
came now and lay down on the ground beside the forge; I was not
quite deserted. I again ate some of the coarse food, and drank
plentifully of the water which I had fetched in the morning. I
then put fresh fuel on the fire, and sat for a long time looking on
the blaze; I then went into my tent.
I awoke, on my own calculation, about midnight--it was pitch dark,
and there was much fear upon me.
Free and independent--I don't see why--Oats--A noise--Unwelcome
visitors--What's the matter?--Good-day to ye--The tall girl--
Dovrefeld--Blow on the face--Civil enough--What's this?--Vulgar
woman--Hands off--Gasping for breath--Long Melford--A pretty
manoeuvre--A long draught--Signs of animation--It won't do--No
Two mornings after the period to which I have brought the reader in
the preceding chapter, I sat by my fire at the bottom of the
dingle; I had just breakfasted, and had finished the last morsel of
food which I had brought with me to that solitude.
'What shall I now do?' said I to myself; 'shall I continue here, or
decamp?--this is a sad lonely spot--perhaps I had better quit it;
but whither shall I go? the wide world is before me, but what can I
do therein? I have been in the world already without much success.
No, I had better remain here; the place is lonely, it is true, but
here I am free and independent, and can do what I please; but I
can't remain here without food. Well, I will find my way to the
nearest town, lay in a fresh supply of provision, and come back,
turning my back upon the world, which has turned its back upon me.
I don't see why I should not write a little sometimes; I have pens
and an ink-horn, and for a writing-desk I can place the Bible on my
knee. I shouldn't wonder if I could write a capital satire on the
world on the back of that Bible; but, first of all, I must think of
supplying myself with food.'
I rose up from the stone on which I was seated, determining to go
to the nearest town, with my little horse and cart, and procure
what I wanted. The nearest town, according to my best calculation,
lay about five miles distant; I had no doubt, however, that, by
using ordinary diligence, I should be back before evening. In
order to go lighter, I determined to leave my tent standing as it
was, and all the things which I had purchased of the tinker, just
as they were. 'I need not be apprehensive on their account,' said
I to myself; 'nobody will come here to meddle with them--the great
recommendation of this place is its perfect solitude--I daresay
that I could live here six months without seeing a single human
visage. I will now harness my little gry and be off to the town.'
At a whistle which I gave, the little gry, which was feeding on the
bank near the uppermost part of the dingle, came running to me, for
by this time he had become so accustomed to me that he would obey
my call, for all the world as if he had been one of the canine
species. 'Now,' said I to him, 'we are going to the town to buy
bread for myself and oats for you--I am in a hurry to be back;
therefore I pray you to do your best, and to draw me and the cart
to the town with all possible speed, and to bring us back; if you
do your best, I promise you oats on your return. You know the
meaning of oats, Ambrol?' Ambrol whinnied as if to let me know
that he understood me perfectly well, as indeed he well might, as I
had never once fed him during the time that he had been in my
possession without saying the word in question to him. Now,
Ambrol, in the gypsy tongue, signifieth a pear.
So I caparisoned Ambrol, and then, going to the cart, I removed two
or three things from it into the tent; I then lifted up the shafts,
and was just going to call to the pony to come and be fastened to
them, when I thought I heard a noise.
I stood stock still, supporting the shaft of the little cart in my
hand, and bending the right side of my face slightly towards the
ground, but I could hear nothing; the noise which I thought I had
heard was not one of those sounds which I was accustomed to hear in
that solitude--the note of a bird, or the rustling of a bough; it
was--there I heard it again, a sound very much resembling the
grating of a wheel amongst gravel. Could it proceed from the road?
Oh no, the road was too far distant for me to hear the noise of
anything moving along it. Again I listened, and now I distinctly
heard the sound of wheels, which seemed to be approaching the
dingle; nearer and nearer they drew, and presently the sound of
wheels was blended with the murmur of voices. Anon I heard a
boisterous shout, which seemed to proceed from the entrance of the
dingle. 'Here are folks at hand,' said I, letting the shaft of the
cart fall to the ground; 'is it possible that they can be coming
here?' My doubts on that point, if I entertained any, were soon
dispelled; the wheels, which had ceased moving for a moment or two,
were once again in motion, and were now evidently moving down the
winding path which led to my retreat. Leaving my cart, I came
forward and placed myself near the entrance of the open space, with
my eyes fixed on the path down which my unexpected, and I may say
unwelcome, visitors were coming. Presently I heard a stamping or
sliding, as if of a horse in some difficulty; then a loud curse,
and the next moment appeared a man and a horse and cart; the former
holding the head of the horse up to prevent him from falling, of
which he was in danger, owing to the precipitous nature of the
path. Whilst thus occupied, the head of the man was averted from
me. When, however, he had reached the bottom of the descent, he
turned his head, and perceiving me, as I stood bareheaded, without
either coat or waistcoat, about two yards from him, he gave a
sudden start, so violent that the backward motion of his hand had
nearly flung the horse upon his haunches.
'Why don't you move forward?' said a voice from behind, apparently
that of a female; 'you are stopping up the way, and we shall be all
down upon one another'; and I saw the head of another horse
overtopping the back of the cart.
'Why don't you move forward, Jack?' said another voice, also a
female, yet higher up the path.
The man stirred not, but remained staring at me in the posture
which he had assumed on first perceiving me, his body very much
drawn back, his left foot far in advance of his right, and with his
right hand still grasping the halter of the horse, which gave way
more and more, till it was clean down on its haunches.
'What's the matter?' said the voice which I had last heard.
'Get back with you, Belle, Moll,' said the man, still staring at
me; 'here's something not over canny or comfortable.'
'What is it?' said the same voice; 'let me pass, Moll, and I'll
soon clear the way'; and I heard a kind of rushing down the path.
'You need not be afraid,' said I, addressing myself to the man, 'I
mean you no harm; I am a wanderer like yourself--come here to seek
for shelter--you need not be afraid; I am a Roman chabo by
matriculation--one of the right sort, and no mistake--Good-day to
ye, brother; I bid ye welcome.'
The man eyed me suspiciously for a moment--then, turning to his
horse with a loud curse, he pulled him up from his haunches, and
led him and the cart farther down to one side of the dingle,
muttering, as he passed me, 'Afraid! Hm!'
I do not remember ever to have seen a more ruffianly-looking
fellow; he was about six feet high, with an immensely athletic
frame; his face was black and bluff, and sported an immense pair of
whiskers, but with here and there a gray hair, for his age could
not be much under fifty. He wore a faded blue frock-coat,
corduroys, and highlows; on his black head was a kind of red
nightcap, round his bull neck a Barcelona handkerchief--I did not
like the look of the man at all.
'Afraid!' growled the fellow, proceeding to unharness his horse;
'that was the word, I think.'
But other figures were now already upon the scene. Dashing past
the other horse and cart, which by this time had reached the bottom
of the pass, appeared an exceedingly tall woman, or rather girl,
for she could scarcely have been above eighteen; she was dressed in
a tight bodice and a blue stuff gown; hat, bonnet, or cap she had
none, and her hair, which was flaxen, hung down on her shoulders
unconfined; her complexion was fair, and her features handsome,
with a determined but open expression--she was followed by another
female, about forty, stout and vulgar-looking, at whom I scarcely
glanced, my whole attention being absorbed by the tall girl.
'What's the matter, Jack?' said the latter, looking at the man.
'Only afraid, that's all,' said the man, still proceeding with his
'Afraid at what--at that lad? why, he looks like a ghost--I would
engage to thrash him with one hand.'
'You might beat me with no hands at all,' said I, 'fair damsel,
only by looking at me--I never saw such a face and figure, both
regal--why, you look like Ingeborg, Queen of Norway; she had twelve
brothers, you know, and could lick them all, though they were
On Dovrefeld in Norway
Were once together seen
The twelve heroic brothers
Of Ingeborg the queen.'
'None of your chaffing, young fellow,' said the tall girl, 'or I
will give you what shall make you wipe your face; be civil, or you
will rue it.'
'Well, perhaps I was a peg too high,' said I; 'I ask your pardon--
here's something a bit lower:-
As I was jawing to the gav yeck divvus
I met on the drom miro Rommany chi--'
None of your Rommany chies, young fellow,' said the tall girl,
looking more menacingly than before, and clenching her fist; 'you
had better be civil, I am none of your chies; and though I keep
company with gypsies, or, to speak more proper, half-and-halfs, I
would have you to know that I come of Christian blood and parents,
and was born in the great house of Long Melford.'
'I have no doubt,' said I, 'that it was a great house; judging from
your size I shouldn't wonder if you were born in a church.'
'Stay, Belle,' said the man, putting himself before the young
virago, who was about to rush upon me, 'my turn is first'--then,
advancing to me in a menacing attitude, he said, with a look of
deep malignity, '"Afraid," was the word, wasn't it?'
'It was,' said I, 'but I think I wronged you; I should have said,
aghast; you exhibited every symptom of one labouring under
The fellow stared at me with a look of stupid ferocity, and
appeared to be hesitating whether to strike or not: ere he could
make up his mind, the tall girl started forward, crying, 'He's
chaffing; let me at him'; and before I could put myself on my
guard, she struck me a blow on the face which had nearly brought me
to the ground.
'Enough,' said I, putting my hand to my cheek; 'you have now
performed your promise, and made me wipe my face: now be pacified,
and tell me fairly the grounds of this quarrel.'
'Grounds!' said the fellow; 'didn't you say I was afraid; and if
you hadn't, who gave you leave to camp on my ground?'
'Is it your ground?' said I.
'A pretty question,' said the fellow; 'as if all the world didn't
know that. Do you know who I am?'
'I guess I do,' said I; 'unless I am much mistaken, you are he whom
folks call the "Flaming Tinman." To tell you the truth, I'm glad
we have met, for I wished to see you. These are your two wives, I
suppose; I greet them. There's no harm done--there's room enough
here for all of us--we shall soon be good friends, I daresay; and
when we are a little better acquainted, I'll tell you my history.'
'Well, if that doesn't beat all!' said the fellow.
'I don't think he's chaffing now,' said the girl, whose anger
seemed to have subsided on a sudden; 'the young man speaks civil
'Civil!' said the fellow, with an oath; 'but that's just like you;
with you it is a blow, and all over. Civil! I suppose you would
have him stay here, and get into all my secrets, and hear all I may
have to say to my two morts.'
'Two morts!' said the girl, kindling up, 'where are they? Speak
for one, and no more. I am no mort of yours, whatever some one
else may be. I tell you one thing, Black John, or Anselo,--for
t'other ain't your name,--the same thing I told the young man here,
be civil, or you will rue it.'
The fellow looked at the girl furiously, but his glance soon
quailed before hers; he withdrew his eyes, and cast them on my
little horse, which was feeding amongst the trees. 'What's this?'
said he, rushing forward and seizing the animal. 'Why, as I am
alive, this is the horse of that mumping villain Slingsby.'
'It's his no longer; I bought it and paid for it.'
'It's mine now,' said the fellow; 'I swore I would seize it the
next time I found it on my beat; ay, and beat the master too.'
'I am not Slingsby.'
'All's one for that.'
'You don't say you will beat me?'
'Afraid was the word.'
'I'm sick and feeble.'
'Hold up your fists.'
'Won't the horse satisfy you?'
'Horse nor bellows either.'
'No mercy, then?'
'Here's at you.'
'Mind your eyes, Jack. There, you've got it. I thought so,'
shouted the girl, as the fellow staggered back from a sharp blow in
the eye; 'I thought he was chaffing at you all along.'
'Never mind, Anselo. You know what to do--go in,' said the vulgar
woman, who had hitherto not spoken a word, but who now came forward
with all the look of a fury; 'go inapopli; you'll smash ten like
The Flaming Tinman took her advice, and came in bent on smashing,
but stopped short on receiving a left-handed blow on the nose.
'You'll never beat the Flaming Tinman in that way,' said the girl,
looking at me doubtfully.
And so I began to think myself, when, in the twinkling of an eye,
the Flaming Tinman, disengaging himself of his frock-coat, and
dashing off his red night-cap, came rushing in more desperately
than ever. To a flush hit which he received in the mouth he paid
as little attention as a wild bull would have done; in a moment his
arms were around me, and in another he had hurled me down, falling
heavily upon me. The fellow's strength appeared to be tremendous.
'Pay him off now,' said the vulgar woman. The Flaming Tinman made
no reply, but, planting his knee on my breast, seized my throat
with two huge horny hands. I gave myself up for dead, and probably
should have been so in another minute but for the tall girl, who
caught hold of the handkerchief which the fellow wore round his
neck, with a grasp nearly as powerful us that with which he pressed
'Do you call that fair play?' said she.
'Hands off, Belle,' said the other woman; 'do you call it fair play
to interfere? hands off, or I'll be down upon you myself.'
But Belle paid no heed to the injunction, and tugged so hard at the
handkerchief that the Flaming Tinman was nearly throttled; suddenly
relinquishing his hold of me, he started on his feet, and aimed a
blow at my fair preserver, who avoided it, but said coolly:-
'Finish t'other business first, and then I'm your woman whenever
you like; but finish it fairly--no foul play when I'm by--I'll be
the boy's second, and Moll can pick up you when he happens to knock
The battle during the next ten minutes raged with considerable
fury, but it so happened that during this time I was never able to
knock the Flaming Tinman down, but on the contrary received six
knock-down blows myself. 'I can never stand this,' said I, as I
sat on the knee of Belle, 'I am afraid I must give in; the Flaming
Tinman hits very hard,' and I spat out a mouthful of blood.
'Sure enough you'll never beat the Flaming Tinman in the way you
fight--it's of no use flipping at the Flaming Tinman with your left
hand; why don't you use your right?'
'Because I'm not handy with it,' said I; and then getting up, I
once more confronted the Flaming Tinman, and struck him six blows
for his one, but they were all left-handed blows, and the blow
which the Flaming Tinman gave me knocked me off my legs.
'Now, will you use Long Melford?' said Belle, picking me up.
'I don't know what you mean by Long Melford,' said I, gasping for
'Why, this long right of yours,' said Belle, feeling my right arm;
'if you do, I shouldn't wonder if you yet stand a chance.' And now
the Flaming Tinman was once more ready, much more ready than
myself. I, however, rose from my second's knee as well as my
weakness would permit me. On he came, striking left and right,
appearing almost as fresh as to wind and spirit as when he first
commenced the combat, though his eyes were considerably swelled,
and his nether lip was cut in two; on he came, striking left and
right, and I did not like his blows at all, or even the wind of
them, which was anything but agreeable, and I gave way before him.
At last he aimed a blow which, had it taken full effect, would
doubtless have ended the battle, but owing to his slipping, the
fist only grazed my left shoulder, and came with terrific force
against a tree, close to which I had been driven; before the Tinman
could recover himself, I collected all my strength, and struck him
beneath the ear, and then fell to the ground completely exhausted;
and it so happened that the blow which I struck the Tinker beneath
the ear was a right-handed blow.
'Hurrah for Long Melford!' I heard Belle exclaim; 'there is nothing
like Long Melford for shortness, all the world over.' At these
words I turned round my head as I lay, and perceived the Flaming
Tinman stretched upon the ground apparently senseless. 'He is
dead,' said the vulgar woman, as she vainly endeavoured to raise
him up; 'he is dead; the best man in all the north country, killed
in this fashion, by a boy!' Alarmed at these words, I made shift
to get on my feet; and, with the assistance of the woman, placed my
fallen adversary in a sitting posture. I put my hand to his heart,
and felt a slight pulsation--'He's not dead,' said I, 'only
stunned; if he were let blood, he would recover presently.' I
produced a penknife which I had in my pocket, and, baring the arm
of the Tinman, was about to make the necessary incision, when the
woman gave me a violent blow, and, pushing me aside, exclaimed,
'I'll tear the eyes out of your head if you offer to touch him. Do
you want to complete your work, and murder him outright, now he's
asleep? you have had enough of his blood already.' 'You are mad,'
said I, 'I only seek to do him service. Well, if you won't let him
be blooded, fetch some water and fling it in his face, you know
where the pit is.'
'A pretty manoeuvre!' said the woman; 'leave my husband in the
hands of you and that limmer, who has never been true to us--I
should find him strangled or his throat cut when I came back.' 'Do
you go,' said I to the tall girl; 'take the can and fetch some
water from the pit.' 'You had better go yourself,' said the girl,
wiping a tear as she looked on the yet senseless form of the
Tinker; 'you had better go yourself, if you think water will do him
good.' I had by this time somewhat recovered my exhausted powers,
and, taking the can, I bent my steps as fast as I could to the pit;
arriving there, I lay down on the brink, took a long draught, and
then plunged my head into the water; after which I filled the can,
and bent my way back to the dingle. Before I could reach the path
which led down into its depths, I had to pass some way along its
side; I had arrived at a part immediately over the scene of the
last encounter, where the bank, overgrown with trees, sloped
precipitously down. Here I heard a loud sound of voices in the
dingle; I stopped, and laying hold of a tree, leaned over the bank
and listened. The two women appeared to be in hot dispute in the
dingle. 'It was all owing to you, you limmer,' said the vulgar
woman to the other; 'had you not interfered, the old man would soon
have settled the boy.'
'I'm for fair play and Long Melford,' said the other. 'If your old
man, as you call him, could have settled the boy fairly, he might
for all I should have cared, but no foul work for me, and as for
sticking the boy with our gulleys when he comes back, as you
proposed, I am not so fond of your old man or you that I should
oblige you in it, to my soul's destruction.' 'Hold your tongue, or
I'll--' I listened no farther, but hastened as fast as I could to
the dingle. My adversary had just begun to show signs of
animation; the vulgar woman was still supporting him, and
occasionally cast glances of anger at the tall girl, who was
walking slowly up and down. I lost no time in dashing the greater
part of the water into the Tinman's face, whereupon he sneezed,
moved his hands, and presently looked round him. At first his
looks were dull and heavy, and without any intelligence at all; he
soon, however, began to recollect himself, and to be conscious of
his situation; he cast a scowling glance at me, then one of the
deepest malignity at the tall girl, who was still walking about
without taking much notice of what was going forward. At last he
looked at his right hand, which had evidently suffered from the
blow against the tree, and a half-stifled curse escaped his lips.
The vulgar woman now said something to him in a low tone, whereupon
he looked at her for a moment, and then got upon his legs. Again
the vulgar woman said something to him; her looks were furious, and
she appeared to be urging him on to attempt something. I observed
that she had a clasped knife in her hand. The fellow remained
standing for some time as if hesitating what to do; at last he
looked at his hand, and, shaking his head, said something to the
woman which I did not understand. The tall girl, however, appeared
to overhear him, and, probably repeating his words, said, 'No, it
won't do; you are right there; and now hear what I have to say,--
let bygones be bygones, and let us all shake hands, and camp here,
as the young man was saying just now.' The man looked at her, and
then, without any reply, went to his horse, which was lying down
among the trees, and kicking it up, led it to the cart, to which he
forthwith began to harness it. The other cart and horse had
remained standing motionless during the whole affair which I have
been recounting, at the bottom of the pass. The woman now took the
horse by the head, and leading it with the cart into the open part
of the dingle, turned both round, and then led them back, till the
horse and cart had mounted a little way up the ascent; she then
stood still and appeared to be expecting the man. During this
proceeding Belle had stood looking on without saying anything; at
last, perceiving that the man had harnessed his horse to the other
cart, and that both he and the woman were about to take their
departure, she said, 'You are not going, are you?' Receiving no
answer, she continued: 'I tell you what, both of you, Black John,
and you Moll, his mort, this is not treating me over civilly,--
however, I am ready to put up with it, and to go with you if you
like, for I bear no malice. I'm sorry for what has happened, but
you have only yourselves to thank for it. Now, shall I go with
you, only tell me?' The man made no manner of reply, but flogged
his horse. The woman, however, whose passions were probably under
less control, replied, with a screeching tone, 'Stay where you are,
you jade, and may the curse of Judas cling to you,--stay with the
bit of a mullo whom you helped, and my only hope is that he may