Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Lorna Doone, A Romance of Exmoor by R. D. Blackmore

Part 14 out of 17

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

clothes, or standing-press, as she called it. This had
frightened me so that I would not come without my stick
to look at it; for the front was inlaid with two fiery
dragons, and a glass which distorted everything, making
even Annie look hideous; and when it was opened, a
woman's skeleton, all in white, revealed itself, in the
midst of three standing women. 'It is only to keep my
best frocks in shape,' Annie had explained to me;
'hanging them up does ruin them so. But I own that I
was afraid of it, John, until I had got all my best
clothes there, and then I became very fond of it. But
even now it frightens me sometimes in the moonlight.'

Having made poor Ruth a little cheerful, with a full
account of all Annie's frocks, material, pattern, and
fashion (of which I had taken a list for my mother, and
for Lizzie, lest they should cry out at man's stupidity
about anything of real interest), I proceeded to tell
her about my own troubles, and the sudden departure of
Lorna; concluding with all the show of indifference
which my pride could muster, that now I never should
see her again, and must do my best to forget her, as
being so far above me. I had not intended to speak of
this, but Ruth's face was so kind and earnest, that I
could not stop myself.

'You must not talk like that, Cousin Ridd,' she said,
in a low and gentle tone, and turning away her eyes
from me; 'no lady can be above a man, who is pure, and
brave, and gentle. And if her heart be worth having,
she will never let you give her up, for her grandeur,
and her nobility.'

She pronounced those last few words, as I thought, with
a little bitterness, unperceived by herself perhaps,
for it was not in her appearance. But I, attaching
great importance to a maiden's opinion about a maiden
(because she might judge from experience), would have
led her further into that subject. But she declined to
follow, having now no more to say in a matter so
removed from her. Then I asked her full and straight,
and looking at her in such a manner that she could not
look away, without appearing vanquished by feelings of
her own--which thing was very vile of me; but all men
are so selfish,--

'Dear cousin, tell me, once for all, what is your
advice to me?'

'My advice to you,' she answered bravely, with her dark
eyes full of pride, and instead of flinching, foiling
me,--'is to do what every man must do, if he would win
fair maiden. Since she cannot send you token, neither
is free to return to you, follow her, pay your court to
her; show that you will not be forgotten; and perhaps
she will look down--I mean, she will relent to you.'

'She has nothing to relent about. I have never vexed
nor injured her. My thoughts have never strayed from her.
There is no one to compare with her.'

'Then keep her in that same mind about you. See now, I
can advise no more. My arm is swelling painfully, in
spite of all your goodness, and bitter task of
surgeonship. I shall have another poultice on, and go
to bed, I think, Cousin Ridd, if you will not hold me
ungrateful. I am so sorry for your long walk. Surely
it might be avoided. Give my love to dear Lizzie: oh,
the room is going round so.'

And she fainted into the arms of Sally, who was come
just in time to fetch her: no doubt she had been
suffering agony all the time she talked to me. Leaving
word that I would come again to inquire for her, and
fetch Kickums home, so soon as the harvest permitted
me, I gave directions about the horse, and striding
away from the ancient town, was soon upon the

Now, through the whole of that long walk--the latter
part of which was led by starlight, till the moon
arose--I dwelt, in my young and foolish way, upon the
ordering of our steps by a Power beyond us. But as I
could not bring my mind to any clearness upon this
matter, and the stars shed no light upon it, but rather
confused me with wondering how their Lord could attend
to them all, and yet to a puny fool like me, it came to
pass that my thoughts on the subject were not worth
ink, if I knew them.

But it is perhaps worth ink to relate, so far as I can
do so, mother's delight at my return, when she had
almost abandoned hope, and concluded that I was gone to
London, in disgust at her behaviour. And now she was
looking up the lane, at the rise of the harvest-moon,
in despair, as she said afterwards. But if she had
despaired in truth, what use to look at all? Yet
according to the epigram made by a good Blundellite,--

Despair was never yet so deep
In sinking as in seeming;
Despair is hope just dropped asleep
For better chance of dreaming.

And mother's dream was a happy one, when she knew my
step at a furlong distant; for the night was of those
that carry sound thrice as far as day can. She
recovered herself, when she was sure, and even made up
her mind to scold me, and felt as if she could do it.
But when she was in my arms, into which she threw
herself, and I by the light of the moon descried the
silver gleam on one side of her head (now spreading
since Annie's departure), bless my heart and yours
therewith, no room was left for scolding. She hugged
me, and she clung to me; and I looked at her, with duty
made tenfold, and discharged by love. We said nothing
to one another; but all was right between us.

Even Lizzie behaved very well, so far as her nature
admitted; not even saying a nasty thing all the time
she was getting my supper ready, with a weak imitation
of Annie. She knew that the gift of cooking was not
vouchsafed by God to her; but sometimes she would do
her best, by intellect to win it. Whereas it is no
more to be won by intellect than is divine poetry. An
amount of strong quick heart is needful, and the
understanding must second it, in the one art as in the
other. Now my fare was very choice for the next three
days or more; yet not turned out like Annie's. They
could do a thing well enough on the fire; but they
could not put it on table so; nor even have plates all
piping hot. This was Annie's special gift; born in
her, and ready to cool with her; like a plate borne
away from the fireplace. I sighed sometimes about
Lorna, and they thought it was about the plates. And
mother would stand and look at me, as much as to say,
'No pleasing him'; and Lizzie would jerk up one
shoulder, and cry, 'He had better have Lorna to cook
for him'; while the whole truth was that I wanted not
to be plagued about any cookery; but just to have
something good and quiet, and then smoke and think
about Lorna.

Nevertheless the time went on, with one change and
another; and we gathered all our harvest in; and Parson
Bowden thanked God for it, both in church and out of
it; for his tithes would be very goodly. The
unmatched cold of the previous winter, and general fear
of scarcity, and our own talk about our ruin, had sent
prices up to a grand high pitch; and we did our best to
keep them there. For nine Englishmen out of every ten
believe that a bitter winter must breed a sour summer,
and explain away topmost prices. While according to my
experience, more often it would be otherwise, except
for the public thinking so. However, I have said too
much; and if any farmer reads my book, he will vow that
I wrote it for nothing else except to rob his family.



All our neighbourhood was surprised that the Doones
had not ere now attacked, and probably made an end of
us. For we lay almost at their mercy now, having only
Sergeant Bloxham, and three men, to protect us, Captain
Stickles having been ordered southwards with all his
force; except such as might be needful for collecting
toll, and watching the imports at Lynmouth, and thence
to Porlock. The Sergeant, having now imbibed a taste
for writing reports (though his first great effort had
done him no good, and only offended Stickles), reported
weekly from Plover's Barrows, whenever he could find a
messenger. And though we fed not Sergeant Bloxham at
our own table, with the best we had (as in the case of
Stickles, who represented His Majesty), yet we treated
him so well, that he reported very highly of us, as
loyal and true-hearted lieges, and most devoted to our
lord the King. And indeed he could scarcely have done
less, when Lizzie wrote great part of his reports, and
furbished up the rest to such a pitch of lustre, that
Lord Clarendon himself need scarce have been ashamed of
them. And though this cost a great deal of ale, and
even of strong waters (for Lizzie would have it the
duty of a critic to stand treat to the author), and
though it was otherwise a plague, as giving the maid
such airs of patronage, and such pretence to politics;
yet there was no stopping it, without the risk of
mortal offence to both writer and reviewer. Our mother
also, while disapproving Lizzie's long stay in the
saddle-room on a Friday night and a Saturday, and
insisting that Betty should be there, was nevertheless
as proud as need be, that the King should read our
Eliza' s writings--at least so the innocent soul
believed--and we all looked forward to something great
as the fruit of all this history. And something great
did come of it, though not as we expected; for these
reports, or as many of them as were ever opened, stood
us in good stead the next year, when we were accused of
harbouring and comforting guilty rebels.

Now the reason why the Doones did not attack us was
that they were preparing to meet another and more
powerful assault upon their fortress; being assured
that their repulse of King's troops could not be looked
over when brought before the authorities. And no doubt
they were right; for although the conflicts in the
Government during that summer and autumn had delayed
the matter yet positive orders had been issued
that these outlaws and malefactors should at any price
be brought to justice; when the sudden death of King
Charles the Second threw all things into confusion, and
all minds into a panic.

We heard of it first in church, on Sunday, the eighth
day of February, 1684-5, from a cousin of John Fry, who
had ridden over on purpose from Porlock. He came in
just before the anthem, splashed and heated from his
ride, so that every one turned and looked at him. He
wanted to create a stir (knowing how much would be made
of him), and he took the best way to do it. For he let
the anthem go by very quietly--or rather I should say
very pleasingly, for our choir was exceeding proud of
itself, and I sang bass twice as loud as a bull, to
beat the clerk with the clarionet--and then just as
Parson Bowden, with a look of pride at his minstrels,
was kneeling down to begin the prayer for the King's
Most Excellent Majesty (for he never read the litany,
except upon Easter Sunday), up jumps young Sam Fry, and

'I forbid that there prai-er.'

'What!' cried the parson, rising slowly, and looking
for some one to shut the door: 'have we a rebel in the
congregation?' For the parson was growing short-sighted
now, and knew not Sam Fry at that distance.

'No,' replied Sam, not a whit abashed by the staring of
all the parish; 'no rebel, parson; but a man who
mislaiketh popery and murder. That there prai-er be a
prai-er for the dead.'

'Nay,' cried the parson, now recognising and knowing
him to be our John's first cousin, 'you do not mean to
say, Sam, that His Gracious Majesty is dead!'

'Dead as a sto-un: poisoned by they Papishers.' And Sam
rubbed his hands with enjoyment, at the effect he had

'Remember where you are, Sam,' said Parson Bowden
solemnly; 'when did this most sad thing happen? The
King is the head of the Church, Sam Fry; when did he
leave her?'

'Day afore yesterday. Twelve o'clock. Warn't us quick
to hear of 'un?'

'Can't be,' said the minister: 'the tidings can never
have come so soon. Anyhow, he will want it all the
more. Let us pray for His Gracious Majesty.'

And with that he proceeded as usual; but nobody cried
'Amen,' for fear of being entangled with Popery. But
after giving forth his text, our parson said a few
words out of book, about the many virtues of His
Majesty, and self-denial, and devotion, comparing his
pious mirth to the dancing of the patriarch David
before the ark of the covenant; and he added, with some
severity, that if his flock would not join their pastor
(who was much more likely to judge aright) in praying
for the King, the least they could do on returning home
was to pray that the King might not be dead, as his
enemies had asserted.

Now when the service was over, we killed the King, and
we brought him to life, at least fifty times in the
churchyard: and Sam Fry was mounted on a high
gravestone, to tell every one all he knew of it. But
he knew no more than he had told us in the church, as
before repeated: upon which we were much disappointed
with him, and inclined to disbelieve him; until he
happily remembered that His Majesty had died in great
pain, with blue spots on his breast and black spots all
across his back, and these in the form of a cross, by
reason of Papists having poisoned him. When Sam called
this to his remembrance (or to his imagination) he was
overwhelmed, at once, with so many invitations to
dinner, that he scarce knew which of them to accept;
but decided in our favour.

Grieving much for the loss of the King, however greatly
it might be (as the parson had declared it was, while
telling us to pray against it) for the royal benefit, I
resolved to ride to Porlock myself, directly after
dinner, and make sure whether he were dead, or not.
For it was not by any means hard to suppose that Sam
Fry, being John's first cousin, might have inherited
either from grandfather or grandmother some of those
gifts which had made our John so famous for mendacity.
At Porlock I found that it was too true; and the women
of the town were in great distress, for the King had
always been popular with them: the men, on the other
hand, were forecasting what would be likely to ensue.

And I myself was of this number, riding sadly home
again; although bound to the King as churchwarden now;
which dignity, next to the parson's in rank, is with us
(as it ought to be in every good parish) hereditary.
For who can stick to the church like the man whose
father stuck to it before him; and who knows all the
little ins, and great outs, which must in these
troublous times come across?

But though appointed at last, by virtue of being best
farmer in the parish (as well as by vice of
mismanagement on the part of my mother, and Nicholas
Snowe, who had thoroughly muxed up everything, being
too quick-headed); yet, while I dwelled with pride upon
the fact that I stood in the King's shoes, as the
manager and promoter of the Church of England, and I
knew that we must miss His Majesty (whose arms were
above the Commandments), as the leader of our thoughts
in church, and handsome upon a guinea; nevertheless I
kept on thinking how his death would act on me.

And here I saw it, many ways. In the first place,
troubles must break out; and we had eight-and-twenty
ricks; counting grain, and straw, and hay. Moreover,
mother was growing weak about riots, and shooting, and
burning; and she gathered the bed-clothes around her
ears every night, when her feet were tucked up; and
prayed not to awake until morning. In the next place,
much rebellion (though we would not own it; in either
sense of the verb, to 'own') was whispering, and
plucking skirts, and making signs, among us. And the
terror of the Doones helped greatly; as a fruitful tree
of lawlessness, and a good excuse for everybody. And
after this--or rather before it, and first of all
indeed (if I must state the true order)--arose upon me
the thought of Lorna, and how these things would affect
her fate.

And indeed I must admit that it had occurred to me
sometimes, or been suggested by others, that the Lady
Lorna had not behaved altogether kindly, since her
departure from among us. For although in those days
the post (as we call the service of letter-carrying,
which now comes within twenty miles of us) did not
extend to our part of the world, yet it might have been
possible to procure for hire a man who would ride post,
if Lorna feared to trust the pack-horses, or the
troopers, who went to and fro. Yet no message whatever
had reached us; neither any token even of her safety in
London. As to this last, however, we had no
misgivings, having learned from the orderlies, more
than once, that the wealth, and beauty, and adventures
of young Lady Lorna Dugal were greatly talked of, both
at court and among the common people.

Now riding sadly homewards, in the sunset of the early
spring, I was more than ever touched with sorrow, and a
sense of being, as it were, abandoned. And the weather
growing quite beautiful, and so mild that the trees
were budding, and the cattle full of happiness, I could
not but think of the difference between the world of
to-day and the world of this day twelvemonth. Then all
was howling desolation, all the earth blocked up with
snow, and all the air with barbs of ice as small as
splintered needles, yet glittering, in and out, like
stars, and gathering so upon a man (if long he stayed
among them) that they began to weigh him down to
sleepiness and frozen death. Not a sign of life was
moving, nor was any change of view; unless the wild
wind struck the crest of some cold drift, and bowed it.

Now, on the other hand, all was good. The open palm of
spring was laid upon the yielding of the hills; and
each particular valley seemed to be the glove for a
finger. And although the sun was low, and dipping in
the western clouds, the gray light of the sea came up,
and took, and taking, told the special tone of
everything. All this lay upon my heart, without a word
of thinking, spreading light and shadow there, and the
soft delight of sadness. Nevertheless, I would it were
the savage snow around me, and the piping of the
restless winds, and the death of everything. For in
those days I had Lorna.

Then I thought of promise fair; such as glowed around
me, where the red rocks held the sun, when he was
departed; and the distant crags endeavoured to retain
his memory. But as evening spread across them, shading
with a silent fold, all the colour stole away; all
remembrance waned and died.

'So it has been with love,' I thought, 'and with simple
truth and warmth. The maid has chosen the glittering
stars, instead of the plain daylight.'

Nevertheless I would not give in, although in deep
despondency (especially when I passed the place where
my dear father had fought in vain), and I tried to see
things right and then judge aright about them. This,
however, was more easy to attempt than to achieve; and
by the time I came down the hill, I was none the wiser.
Only I could tell my mother that the King was dead for
sure; and she would have tried to cry, but for thought
of her mourning.

There was not a moment for lamenting. All the mourning
must be ready (if we cared to beat the Snowes) in
eight-and-forty hours: and, although it was Sunday
night, mother now feeling sure of the thing, sat up
with Lizzie, cutting patterns, and stitching things on
brown paper, and snipping, and laying the fashions
down, and requesting all opinions, yet when given,
scorning them; insomuch that I grew weary even of
tobacco (which had comforted me since Lorna), and
prayed her to go on until the King should be alive

The thought of that so flurried her--for she never yet
could see a joke--that she laid her scissors on the
table and said, 'The Lord forbid, John! after what I
have cut up!'

'It would be just like him,' I answered, with a knowing
smile: 'Mother, you had better stop. Patterns may do
very well; but don't cut up any more good stuff.'

'Well, good lack, I am a fool! Three tables pegged with
needles! The Lord in His mercy keep His Majesty, if
ever He hath gotten him!'

By this device we went to bed; and not another stitch
was struck until the troopers had office-tidings that
the King was truly dead. Hence the Snowes beat us by a
day; and both old Betty and Lizzie laid the blame upon
me, as usual.

Almost before we had put off the mourning, which as
loyal subjects we kept for the King three months and a
week; rumours of disturbances, of plottings, and of
outbreak began to stir among us. We heard of fighting
in Scotland, and buying of ships on the continent, and
of arms in Dorset and Somerset; and we kept our beacon
in readiness to give signals of a landing; or rather
the soldiers did. For we, having trustworthy reports
that the King had been to high mass himself in the
Abbey of Westminster, making all the bishops go with
him, and all the guards in London, and then tortured
all the Protestants who dared to wait outside, moreover
had received from the Pope a flower grown in the Virgin
Mary's garden, and warranted to last for ever, we of
the moderate party, hearing all this and ten times as
much, and having no love for this sour James, such as
we had for the lively Charles, were ready to wait for
what might happen, rather than care about stopping it.
Therefore we listened to rumours gladly, and shook our
heads with gravity, and predicted, every man something,
but scarce any two the same. Nevertheless, in our
part, things went on as usual, until the middle of June
was nigh. We ploughed the ground, and sowed the corn,
and tended the cattle, and heeded every one his
neighbour's business, as carefully as heretofore; and
the only thing that moved us much was that Annie had a
baby. This being a very fine child with blue eyes,
and christened 'John' in compliment to me, and with me
for his godfather, it is natural to suppose that I
thought a good deal about him; and when mother or
Lizzie would ask me, all of a sudden, and
treacherously, when the fire flared up at supper-time
(for we always kept a little wood just alight in
summer-time, and enough to make the pot boil), then
when they would say to me, 'John, what are you thinking
of? At a word, speak!' I would always answer, 'Little
John Faggus'; and so they made no more of me.

But when I was down, on Saturday the thirteenth of
June, at the blacksmith's forge by Brendon town, where
the Lynn-stream runs so close that he dips his
horseshoes in it, and where the news is apt to come
first of all to our neighbourhood (except upon a
Sunday), while we were talking of the hay-crop, and of
a great sheep-stealer, round the corner came a man
upon a piebald horse looking flagged and weary. But
seeing half a dozen of us, young, and brisk, and
hearty, he made a flourish with his horse, and waved a
blue flag vehemently, shouting with great glory,--

'Monmouth and the Protestant faith! Monmouth and no
Popery! Monmouth, the good King's eldest son! Down
with the poisoning murderer! Down with the black
usurper, and to the devil with all papists!'

'Why so, thou little varlet?' I asked very quietly; for
the man was too small to quarrel with: yet knowing
Lorna to be a 'papist,' as we choose to call
them--though they might as well call us 'kingists,'
after the head of our Church--I thought that this
scurvy scampish knave might show them the way to the
place he mentioned, unless his courage failed him.

'Papist yourself, be you?' said the fellow, not daring
to answer much: 'then take this, and read it.'

And he handed me a long rigmarole, which he called a
'Declaration': I saw that it was but a heap of lies,
and thrust it into the blacksmith's fire, and blew the
bellows thrice at it. No one dared attempt to stop me,
for my mood had not been sweet of late; and of course
they knew my strength.

The man rode on with a muttering noise, having won no
recruits from us, by force of my example: and he
stopped at the ale-house farther down, where the road
goes away from the Lynn-stream. Some of us went
thither after a time, when our horses were shodden and
rasped, for although we might not like the man, we
might be glad of his tidings, which seemed to be
something wonderful. He had set up his blue flag in
the tap-room, and was teaching every one.

'Here coom'th Maister Jan Ridd,' said the landlady,
being well pleased with the call for beer and cider:
'her hath been to Lunnon-town, and live within a maile
of me. Arl the news coom from them nowadays, instead
of from here, as her ought to do. If Jan Ridd say it
be true, I will try almost to belave it. Hath the good
Duke landed, sir?' And she looked at me over a foaming
cup, and blew the froth off, and put more in.

'I have no doubt it is true enough,' I answered, before
drinking; 'and too true, Mistress Pugsley. Many a poor
man will die; but none shall die from our parish, nor
from Brendon, if I can help it.'

And I knew that I could help it; for every one in those
little places would abide by my advice; not only from
the fame of my schooling and long sojourn in London,
but also because I had earned repute for being very
'slow and sure': and with nine people out of ten this
is the very best recommendation. For they think
themselves much before you in wit, and under no
obligation, but rather conferring a favour, by doing
the thing that you do. Hence, if I cared for
influence--which means, for the most part, making
people do one's will, without knowing it--my first step
toward it would be to be called, in common parlance,
'slow but sure.'

For the next fortnight we were daily troubled with
conflicting rumours, each man relating what he desired,
rather than what he had right, to believe. We were
told that the Duke had been proclaimed King of England
in every town of Dorset and of Somerset; that he had
won a great battle at Axminster, and another at
Bridport, and another somewhere else; that all the
western counties had risen as one man for him, and all
the militia had joined his ranks; that Taunton, and
Bridgwater, and Bristowe, were all mad with delight,
the two former being in his hands, and the latter
craving to be so. And then, on the other hand, we
heard that the Duke had been vanquished, and put to
flight, and upon being apprehended, had confessed
himself an impostor and a papist as bad as the King

We longed for Colonel Stickles (as he always became in
time of war, though he fell back to Captain, and even
Lieutenant, directly the fight was over), for then we
should have won trusty news, as well as good
consideration. But even Sergeant Bloxham, much against
his will, was gone, having left his heart with our
Lizzie, and a collection of all his writings. All the
soldiers had been ordered away at full speed for
Exeter, to join the Duke of Albemarle, or if he were
gone, to follow him. As for us, who had fed them so
long (although not quite for nothing), we must take our
chance of Doones, or any other enemies.

Now all these tidings moved me a little; not enough to
spoil appetite, but enough to make things lively, and
to teach me that look of wisdom which is bred of
practice only, and the hearing of many lies. Therefore
I withheld my judgment, fearing to be triumphed over,
if it should happen to miss the mark. But mother and
Lizzie, ten times in a day, predicted all they could
imagine; and their prophecies increased in strength
according to contradiction. Yet this was not in the
proper style for a house like ours, which knew the
news, or at least had known it; and still was famous,
all around, for the last advices. Even from Lynmouth,
people sent up to Plover's Barrows to ask how things
were going on: and it was very grievous to answer that
in truth we knew not, neither had heard for days and
days; and our reputation was so great, especially since
the death of the King had gone abroad from Oare parish,
that many inquirers would only wink, and lay a finger
on the lip, as if to say, 'you know well enough, but
see not fit to tell me.' And before the end arrived,
those people believed that they had been right all
along, and that we had concealed the truth from them.

For I myself became involved (God knows how much
against my will and my proper judgment) in the troubles,
and the conflict, and the cruel work coming
afterwards. If ever I had made up my mind to anything
in all my life, it was at this particular time, and as
stern and strong as could be. I had resolved to let
things pass, --to hear about them gladly, to encourage
all my friends to talk, and myself to express opinion
upon each particular point, when in the fullness of
time no further doubt could be. But all my policy went
for nothing, through a few touches of feeling.

One day at the beginning of July, I came home from mowing
about noon, or a little later, to fetch some cider for all
of us, and to eat a morsel of bacon. For mowing was no
joke that year, the summer being wonderfully wet (even
for our wet country), and the swathe falling heavier
over the scythe than ever I could remember it. We were
drenched with rain almost every day; but the mowing
must be done somehow; and we must trust to God for the

In the courtyard I saw a little cart, with iron brakes
underneath it, such as fastidious people use to deaden
the jolting of the road; but few men under a lord or
baronet would be so particular. Therefore I wondered
who our noble visitor could be. But when I entered the
kitchen-place, brushing up my hair for somebody, behold
it was no one greater than our Annie, with my godson in
her arms, and looking pale and tear-begone. And at
first she could not speak to me. But presently having
sat down a little, and received much praise for her
baby, she smiled and blushed, and found her tongue as
if she had never gone from us.

'How natural it all looks again! Oh, I love this old
kitchen so! Baby dear, only look at it wid him pitty,
pitty eyes, and him tongue out of his mousy! But who
put the flour-riddle up there. And look at the pestle
and mortar, and rust I declare in the patty pans! And a
book, positively a dirty book, where the clean skewers
ought to hang! Oh, Lizzie, Lizzie, Lizzie!'

'You may just as well cease lamenting,' I said, 'for
you can't alter Lizzie's nature, and you will only make
mother uncomfortable, and perhaps have a quarrel with
Lizzie, who is proud as Punch of her housekeeping.'

'She,' cried Annie, with all the contempt that could be
compressed in a syllable. 'Well, John, no doubt you
are right about it. I will try not to notice things.
But it is a hard thing, after all my care, to see
everything going to ruin. But what can be expected of
a girl who knows all the kings of Carthage?'

'There were no kings of Carthage, Annie. They were
called, why let me see--they were called--oh, something

'Never mind what they were called,' said Annie; 'will
they cook our dinner for us? But now, John, I am in
such trouble. All this talk is make-believe.'

'Don't you cry, my dear: don't cry, my darling sister,'
I answered, as she dropped into the worn place of the
settle, and bent above her infant, rocking as if both
their hearts were one: 'don't you know, Annie, I cannot
tell, but I know, or at least I mean, I have heard the
men of experience say, it is so bad for the baby.'

'Perhaps I know that as well as you do, John,' said
Annie, looking up at me with a gleam of her old
laughing: 'but how can I help crying; I am in such

'Tell me what it is, my dear. Any grief of yours will
vex me greatly; but I will try to bear it.'

'Then, John, it is just this. Tom has gone off with
the rebels; and you must, oh, you must go after him.'



Moved as I was by Annie's tears, and gentle style of
coaxing, and most of all by my love for her, I yet
declared that I could not go, and leave our house and
homestead, far less my dear mother and Lizzie, at the
mercy of the merciless Doones.

'Is that all your objection, John?' asked Annie, in her
quick panting way: 'would you go but for that, John?'

'Now,' I said, 'be in no such hurry'--for while I was
gradually yielding, I liked to pass it through my
fingers, as if my fingers shaped it: 'there are many
things to be thought about, and many ways of viewing

'Oh, you never can have loved Lorna! No wonder you gave
her up so! John, you can love nobody, but your
oat-ricks, and your hay-ricks.'

'Sister mine, because I rant not, neither rave of what
I feel, can you be so shallow as to dream that I feel
nothing? What is your love for Tom Faggus? What is
your love for your baby (pretty darling as he is) to
compare with such a love as for ever dwells with me?
Because I do not prate of it; because it is beyond me,
not only to express, but even form to my own heart in
thoughts; because I do not shape my face, and would
scorn to play to it, as a thing of acting, and lay it
out before you, are you fools enough to think--' but
here I stopped, having said more than was usual with

'I am very sorry, John. Dear John, I am so sorry.
What a shallow fool I am!'

'I will go seek your husband,' I said, to change the
subject, for even to Annie I would not lay open all my
heart about Lorna: 'but only upon condition that you
ensure this house and people from the Doones meanwhile.
Even for the sake of Tom, I cannot leave all helpless.
The oat-ricks and the hay-ricks, which are my only
love, they are welcome to make cinders of. But I will
not have mother treated so; nor even little Lizzie,
although you scorn your sister so.'

'Oh, John, I do think you are the hardest, as well as
the softest of all the men I know. Not even a woman's
bitter word but what you pay her out for. Will you
never understand that we are not like you, John? We
say all sorts of spiteful things, without a bit of
meaning. John, for God's sake fetch Tom home; and then
revile me as you please, and I will kneel and thank

'I will not promise to fetch him home,' I answered,
being ashamed of myself for having lost command so:
'but I will promise to do my best, if we can only hit
on a plan for leaving mother harmless.'

Annie thought for a little while, trying to gather her
smooth clear brow into maternal wrinkles, and then she
looked at her child, and said, 'I will risk it, for
daddy's sake, darling; you precious soul, for daddy's
sake.' I asked her what she was going to risk. She
would not tell me; but took upper hand, and saw to my
cider-cans and bacon, and went from corner to cupboard,
exactly as if she had never been married; only without
an apron on. And then she said, 'Now to your mowers,
John; and make the most of this fine afternoon; kiss
your godson before you go.' And I, being used to obey
her, in little things of that sort, kissed the baby,
and took my cans, and went back to my scythe again.

By the time I came home it was dark night, and pouring
again with a foggy rain, such as we have in July, even
more than in January. Being soaked all through, and
through, and with water quelching in my boots, like a
pump with a bad bucket, I was only too glad to find
Annie's bright face, and quick figure, flitting in and
out the firelight, instead of Lizzie sitting grandly,
with a feast of literature, and not a drop of gravy.
Mother was in the corner also, with her cheery-coloured
ribbons glistening very nice by candle-light, looking
at Annie now and then, with memories of her babyhood;
and then at her having a baby: yet half afraid of
praising her much, for fear of that young Lizzie. But
Lizzie showed no jealousy: she truly loved our Annie
(now that she was gone from us), and she wanted to know
all sorts of things, and she adored the baby.
Therefore Annie was allowed to attend to me, as she
used to do.

'Now, John, you must start the first thing in the
morning,' she said, when the others had left the room,
but somehow she stuck to the baby, 'to fetch me back my
rebel, according to your promise.'

'Not so,' I replied, misliking the job, 'all I promised
was to go, if this house were assured against any
onslaught of the Doones.'

'Just so; and here is that assurance.' With these words
she drew forth a paper, and laid it on my knee with
triumph, enjoying my amazement. This, as you may
suppose was great; not only at the document, but also
at her possession of it. For in truth it was no less
than a formal undertaking, on the part of the Doones,
not to attack Plover's Barrows farm, or molest any of
the inmates, or carry off any chattels, during the
absence of John Ridd upon a special errand. This
document was signed not only by the Counsellor, but by
many other Doones: whether Carver's name were there, I
could not say for certain; as of course he would not
sign it under his name of 'Carver,' and I had never
heard Lorna say to what (if any) he had been baptized.

In the face of such a deed as this, I could no longer
refuse to go; and having received my promise, Annie
told me (as was only fair) how she had procured that
paper. It was both a clever and courageous act; and
would have seemed to me, at first sight, far beyond
Annie's power. But none may gauge a woman's power,
when her love and faith are moved.

The first thing Annie had done was this: she made
herself look ugly. This was not an easy thing; but she
had learned a great deal from her husband, upon the
subject of disguises. It hurt her feelings not a
little to make so sad a fright of herself; but what
could it matter?--if she lost Tom, she must be a far
greater fright in earnest, than now she was in seeming.
And then she left her child asleep, under Betty
Muxworthy's tendance--for Betty took to that child, as
if there never had been a child before--and away she
went in her own 'spring-cart' (as the name of that
engine proved to be), without a word to any one, except
the old man who had driven her from Molland parish that
morning, and who coolly took one of our best horses,
without 'by your leave' to any one.

Annie made the old man drive her within easy reach of
the Doone-gate, whose position she knew well enough,
from all our talk about it. And there she bade the old
man stay, until she should return to him. Then with
her comely figure hidden by a dirty old woman's cloak,
and her fair young face defaced by patches and by
liniments, so that none might covet her, she addressed
the young man at the gate in a cracked and trembling
voice; and they were scarcely civil to the 'old hag,'
as they called her. She said that she bore important
tidings for Sir Counsellor himself, and must be
conducted to him. To him accordingly she was led,
without even any hoodwinking, for she had spectacles
over her eyes, and made believe not to see ten yards.

She found Sir Counsellor at home, and when the rest
were out of sight, threw off all disguise to him,
flashing forth as a lovely young woman, from all her
wraps and disfigurements. She flung her patches on the
floor, amid the old man's laughter, and let her
tucked-up hair come down; and then went up and kissed

'Worthy and reverend Counsellor, I have a favour to
ask,' she began.

'So I should think from your proceedings,'--the old man
interrupted--'ah, if I were half my age'--

'If you were, I would not sue so. But most excellent
Counsellor, you owe me some amends, you know, for the
way in which you robbed me.'

'Beyond a doubt I do, my dear. You have put it rather
strongly; and it might offend some people.
Nevertheless I own my debt, having so fair a creditor.'

'And do you remember how you slept, and how much we
made of you, and would have seen you home, sir; only
you did not wish it?'

'And for excellent reasons, child. My best escort was
in my cloak, after we made the cream to rise. Ha, ha!
The unholy spell. My pretty child, has it injured

'Yes, I fear it has, said Annie; 'or whence can all my
ill luck come?' And here she showed some signs of
crying, knowing that Counsellor hated it.

'You shall not have ill luck, my dear. I have heard
all about your marriage to a very noble highwayman.
Ah, you made a mistake in that; you were worthy of a
Doone, my child; your frying was a blessing meant for
those who can appreciate.'

'My husband can appreciate,' she answered very proudly;
'but what I wish to know is this, will you try to help

The Counsellor answered that he would do so, if her
needs were moderate; whereupon she opened her meaning
to him, and told of all her anxieties. Considering
that Lorna was gone, and her necklace in his
possession, and that I (against whom alone of us the
Doones could bear any malice) would be out of the way
all the while, the old man readily undertook that our
house should not be assaulted, nor our property
molested, until my return. And to the promptitude of
his pledge, two things perhaps contributed, namely,
that he knew not how we were stripped of all defenders,
and that some of his own forces were away in the rebel
camp. For (as I learned thereafter) the Doones being
now in direct feud with the present Government, and
sure to be crushed if that prevailed, had resolved to
drop all religious questions, and cast in their lot
with Monmouth. And the turbulent youths, being long
restrained from their wonted outlet for vehemence, by
the troopers in the neighbourhood, were only too glad
to rush forth upon any promise of blows and excitement.

However, Annie knew little of this, but took the
Counsellor's pledge as a mark of especial favour in her
behalf (which it may have been to some extent), and
thanked him for it most heartily, and felt that he had
earned the necklace; while he, like an ancient
gentleman, disclaimed all obligation, and sent her
under an escort safe to her own cart again. But Annie,
repassing the sentinels, with her youth restored and
blooming with the flush of triumph, went up to them
very gravely, and said, 'The old hag wishes you
good-evening, gentlemen'; and so made her best curtsey.

Now, look at it as I would, there was no excuse left
for me, after the promise given. Dear Annie had not
only cheated the Doones, but also had gotten the best
of me, by a pledge to a thing impossible. And I
bitterly said, 'I am not like Lorna: a pledge once
given, I keep it.'

'I will not have a word against Lorna,' cried Annie; 'I
will answer for her truth as surely as I would for my
own or yours, John.' And with that she vanquished me.

But when my poor mother heard that I was committed, by
word of honour, to a wild-goose chase, among the
rebels, after that runagate Tom Faggus, she simply
stared, and would not believe it. For lately I had
joked with her, in a little style of jerks, as people
do when out of sorts; and she, not understanding this,
and knowing jokes to be out of my power, would only
look, and sigh, and toss, and hope that I meant
nothing. At last, however, we convinced her that I was
in earnest, and must be off in the early morning, and
leave John Fry with the hay crop.

Then mother was ready to fall upon Annie, as not
content with disgracing us, by wedding a man of new
honesty (if indeed of any), but laying traps to catch
her brother, and entangle him perhaps to his death, for
the sake of a worthless fellow; and 'felon'--she was
going to say, as by the shape of her lips I knew. But
I laid my hand upon dear mother's lips; because what
must be, must be; and if mother and daughter stayed at
home, better in love than in quarrelling.

Right early in the morning, I was off, without word to
any one; knowing that mother and sister mine had cried
each her good self to sleep; relenting when the light
was out, and sorry for hard words and thoughts; and yet
too much alike in nature to understand each other.
Therefore I took good Kickums, who (although with one
eye spoiled) was worth ten sweet-tempered horses, to a
man who knew how to manage him; and being well charged
both with bacon and powder, forth I set on my
wild-goose chase.

For this I claim no bravery. I cared but little what
came of it; save for mother's sake, and Annie's, and
the keeping of the farm, and discomfiture of the
Snowes, and lamenting of Lorna at my death, if die I
must in a lonesome manner, not found out till
afterwards, and bleaching bones left to weep over.
However, I had a little kettle, and a pound and a half
of tobacco, and two dirty pipes and a clean one; also a
bit of clothes for change, also a brisket of hung
venison, and four loaves of farmhouse bread, and of the
upper side of bacon a stone and a half it might be--not
to mention divers small things for campaigning, which
may come in handily, when no one else has gotten them.

We went away in merry style; my horse being ready for
anything, and I only glad of a bit of change, after
months of working and brooding; with no content to
crown the work; no hope to hatch the brooding; or
without hatching to reckon it. Who could tell but what
Lorna might be discovered, or at any rate heard of,
before the end of this campaign; if campaign it could
be called of a man who went to fight nobody, only to
redeem a runagate? And vexed as I was about the hay,
and the hunch-backed ricks John was sure to make (which
spoil the look of a farm-yard), still even this was
better than to have the mows and houses fired, as I had
nightly expected, and been worn out with the worry of

Yet there was one thing rather unfavourable to my
present enterprise, namely, that I knew nothing of the
country I was bound to, nor even in what part of it my
business might be supposed to lie. For beside the
uncertainty caused by the conflict of reports, it was
likely that King Monmouth's army would be moving from
place to place, according to the prospect of supplies
and of reinforcements. However, there would arise more
chance of getting news as I went on: and my road being
towards the east and south, Dulverton would not lie so
very far aside of it, but what it might be worth a
visit, both to collect the latest tidings, and to
consult the maps and plans in Uncle Reuben's parlour.
Therefore I drew the off-hand rein, at the cross-road
on the hills, and made for the town; expecting perhaps
to have breakfast with Master Huckaback, and Ruth, to
help and encourage us. This little maiden was now
become a very great favourite with me, having long
outgrown, no doubt, her childish fancies and follies,
such as my mother and Annie had planted under her soft
brown hair. It had been my duty, as well as my true
interest (for Uncle Ben was more and more testy, as he
went on gold-digging), to ride thither, now and again,
to inquire what the doctor thought of her. Not that
her wounds were long in healing, but that people can
scarcely be too careful and too inquisitive, after a
great horse-bite. And she always let me look at the
arm, as I had been first doctor; and she held it up in
a graceful manner, curving at the elbow, and with a
sweep of white roundness going to a wrist the size of
my thumb or so, and without any thimble-top standing
forth, such as even our Annie had. But gradually all I
could see, above the elbow, where the bite had been,
was very clear, transparent skin, with very firm sweet
flesh below, and three little blue marks as far asunder
as the prongs of a toasting-fork, and no deeper than
where a twig has chafed the peel of a waxen apple. And
then I used to say in fun, as the children do, 'Shall I
kiss it, to make it well, dear?'

Now Ruth looked very grave indeed, upon hearing of this
my enterprise; and crying, said she could almost cry,
for the sake of my dear mother. Did I know the risks
and chances, not of the battlefield alone, but of the
havoc afterwards; the swearing away of innocent lives,
and the hurdle, and the hanging? And if I would please
not to laugh (which was so unkind of me), had I never
heard of imprisonments, and torturing with the cruel
boot, and selling into slavery, where the sun and the
lash outvied one another in cutting a man to pieces? I
replied that of all these things I had heard, and would
take especial care to steer me free of all of them. My
duty was all that I wished to do; and none could harm
me for doing that. And I begged my cousin to give me
good-speed, instead of talking dolefully. Upon this
she changed her manner wholly, becoming so lively and
cheerful that I was convinced of her indifference, and
surprised even more than gratified.

'Go and earn your spurs, Cousin Ridd,' she said: 'you
are strong enough for anything. Which side is to have
the benefit of your doughty arm?'

'Have I not told you, Ruth,' I answered, not being fond
of this kind of talk, more suitable for Lizzie, 'that I
do not mean to join either side, that is to say,

'Until, as the common proverb goes, you know which way
the cat will jump. Oh, John Ridd! Oh, John Ridd!'

'Nothing of the sort,' said I: 'what a hurry you are
in! I am for the King of course.'

'But not enough to fight for him. Only enough to vote,
I suppose, or drink his health, or shout for him.'

'I can't make you out to-day, Cousin Ruth; you are
nearly as bad as Lizzie. You do not say any bitter
things, but you seem to mean them.'

'No, cousin, think not so of me. It is far more likely
that I say them, without meaning them.'

'Anyhow, it is not like you. And I know not what I can
have done in any way, to vex you.'

'Dear me, nothing, Cousin Ridd; you never do anything
to vex me.'

'Then I hope I shall do something now, Ruth, when I say
good-bye. God knows if we ever shall meet again,
Ruth: but I hope we may.'

'To be sure we shall, ' she answered in her brightest
manner. 'Try not to look wretched, John: you are as
happy as a Maypole.'

'And you as a rose in May,' I said; 'and pretty nearly
as pretty. Give my love to Uncle Ben; and I trust him
to keep on the winning side.'

'Of that you need have no misgivings. Never yet has he
failed of it. Now, Cousin Ridd, why go you not? You
hurried me so at breakfast time?'

'My only reason for waiting, Ruth, is that you have not
kissed me, as you are almost bound to do, for the last
time perhaps of seeing me.'

'Oh, if that is all, just fetch the stool; and I will
do my best, cousin.'

'I pray you be not so vexatious; you always used to do
it nicely, without any stool, Ruth.'

'Ah, but you are grown since then, and become a famous
man, John Ridd, and a member of the nobility. Go your
way, and win your spurs. I want no lip-service.'

Being at the end of my wits, I did even as she ordered
me. At least I had no spurs to win, because there were
big ones on my boots, paid for in the Easter bill, and
made by a famous saddler, so as never to clog with
marsh-weed, but prick as hard as any horse, in reason,
could desire. And Kickums never wanted spurs; but
always went tail-foremost, if anybody offered them for
his consideration.



We rattled away at a merry pace, out of the town of
Dulverton; my horse being gaily fed, and myself quite
fit again for going. Of course I was puzzled about
Cousin Ruth; for her behaviour was not at all such as I
had expected; and indeed I had hoped for a far more
loving and moving farewell than I got from her. But I
said to myself, 'It is useless ever to count upon what
a woman will do; and I think that I must have vexed
her, almost as much as she vexed me. And now to see
what comes of it.' So I put my horse across the
moorland; and he threw his chest out bravely.

Now if I tried to set down at length all the things
that happened to me, upon this adventure, every in and
out, and up and down, and to and fro, that occupied me,
together with the things I saw, and the things I heard
of, however much the wiser people might applaud my
narrative, it is likely enough that idle readers might
exclaim, 'What ails this man? Knows he not that men of
parts and of real understanding, have told us all we
care to hear of that miserable business. Let him keep
to his farm, and his bacon, and his wrestling, and
constant feeding.'

Fearing to meet with such rebuffs (which after my death
would vex me), I will try to set down only what is
needful for my story, and the clearing of my character,
and the good name of our parish. But the manner in
which I was bandied about, by false information, from
pillar to post, or at other times driven quite out of
my way by the presence of the King's soldiers, may be
known by the names of the following towns, to which I
was sent in succession, Bath, Frome, Wells, Wincanton,
Glastonbury, Shepton, Bradford, Axbridge, Somerton, and

This last place I reached on a Sunday night, the fourth
or fifth of July, I think--or it might be the sixth,
for that matter; inasmuch as I had been too much
worried to get the day of the month at church. Only I
know that my horse and myself were glad to come to a
decent place, where meat and corn could be had for
money; and being quite weary of wandering about, we
hoped to rest there a little.

Of this, however, we found no chance, for the town was
full of the good Duke's soldiers; if men may be called
so, the half of whom had never been drilled, nor had
fired a gun. And it was rumoured among them, that the
'popish army,' as they called it, was to be attacked
that very night, and with God's assistance beaten.
However, by this time I had been taught to pay little
attention to rumours; and having sought vainly for Tom
Faggus among these poor rustic warriors, I took to my
hostel; and went to bed, being as weary as weary can

Falling asleep immediately, I took heed of nothing;
although the town was all alive, and lights had come
glancing, as I lay down, and shouts making echo all
round my room. But all I did was to bolt the door; not
an inch would I budge, unless the house, and even my
bed, were on fire. And so for several hours I lay, in
the depth of the deepest slumber, without even a dream
on its surface; until I was roused and awakened at last
by a pushing, and pulling, and pinching, and a plucking
of hair out by the roots. And at length, being able to
open mine eyes, I saw the old landlady, with a candle,
heavily wondering at me.

'Can't you let me alone?' I grumbled. 'I have paid for
my bed, mistress; and I won't get up for any one.'

'Would to God, young man,' she answered, shaking me as
hard as ever, 'that the popish soldiers may sleep this
night, only half as strong as thou dost! Fie on thee,
fie on thee! Get up, and go fight; we can hear the
battle already; and a man of thy size mought stop a

'I would rather stop a-bed,' said I; 'what have I to do
with fighting? I am for King James, if any.'

'Then thou mayest even stop a-bed,' the old woman
muttered sulkily. 'A would never have laboured half an
hour to awake a Papisher. But hearken you one thing,
young man; Zummerzett thou art, by thy brogue; or at
least by thy understanding of it; no Zummerzett maid
will look at thee, in spite of thy size and stature,
unless thou strikest a blow this night.'

'I lack no Zummerzett maid, mistress: I have a fairer
than your brown things; and for her alone would I
strike a blow.'

At this the old woman gave me up, as being beyond
correction: and it vexed me a little that my great fame
had not reached so far as Bridgwater, when I thought
that it went to Bristowe. But those people in East
Somerset know nothing about wrestling. Devon is the
headquarters of the art; and Devon is the county of my
chief love. Howbeit, my vanity was moved, by this slur
upon it--for I had told her my name was John Ridd, when
I had a gallon of ale with her, ere ever I came
upstairs; and she had nodded, in such a manner, that I
thought she knew both name and fame--and here was I,
not only shaken, pinched, and with many hairs pulled
out, in the midst of my first good sleep for a week,
but also abused, and taken amiss, and (which vexed me
most of all) unknown.

Now there is nothing like vanity to keep a man awake at
night, however he be weary; and most of all, when he
believes that he is doing something great--this time,
if never done before--yet other people will not see,
except what they may laugh at; and so be far above him,
and sleep themselves the happier. Therefore their
sleep robs his own; for all things play so, in and out
(with the godly and ungodly ever moving in a balance,
as they have done in my time, almost every year or
two), all things have such nice reply of produce to the
call for it, and such a spread across the world, giving
here and taking there, yet on the whole pretty even,
that haply sleep itself has but a certain stock, and
keeps in hand, and sells to flattered (which can pay)
that which flattened vanity cannot pay, and will not
sue for.

Be that as it may, I was by this time wide awake,
though much aggrieved at feeling so, and through the
open window heard the distant roll of musketry, and the
beating of drums, with a quick rub-a-dub, and the 'come
round the corner' of trumpet-call. And perhaps Tom
Faggus might be there, and shot at any moment, and my
dear Annie left a poor widow, and my godson Jack an
orphan, without a tooth to help him.

Therefore I reviled myself for all my heavy laziness;
and partly through good honest will, and partly through
the stings of pride, and yet a little perhaps by virtue
of a young man's love of riot, up I arose, and dressed
myself, and woke Kickums (who was snoring), and set out
to see the worst of it. The sleepy hostler scratched
his poll, and could not tell me which way to take; what
odds to him who was King, or Pope, so long as he paid
his way, and got a bit of bacon on Sunday? And would I
please to remember that I had roused him up at night,
and the quality always made a point of paying four
times over for a man's loss of his beauty-sleep. I
replied that his loss of beauty-sleep was rather
improving to a man of so high complexion; and that I,
being none of the quality, must pay half-quality
prices: and so I gave him double fee, as became a good
farmer; and he was glad to be quit of Kickums; as I saw
by the turn of his eye, while going out at the archway.

All this was done by lanthorn light, although the moon
was high and bold; and in the northern heaven, flags
and ribbons of a jostling pattern; such as we often
have in autumn, but in July very rarely. Of these
Master Dryden has spoken somewhere, in his courtly
manner; but of him I think so little--because by
fashion preferred to Shakespeare--that I cannot
remember the passage; neither is it a credit to him.

Therefore I was guided mainly by the sound of guns and
trumpets, in riding out of the narrow ways, and into
the open marshes. And thus I might have found my road,
in spite of all the spread of water, and the glaze of
moonshine; but that, as I followed sound (far from
hedge or causeway), fog (like a chestnut-tree in
blossom, touched with moonlight) met me. Now fog is a
thing that I understand, and can do with well enough,
where I know the country; but here I had never been
before. It was nothing to our Exmoor fogs; not to be
compared with them; and all the time one could see the
moon; which we cannot do in our fogs; nor even the sun,
for a week together. Yet the gleam of water always
makes the fog more difficult: like a curtain on a
mirror; none can tell the boundaries.

And here we had broad-water patches, in and out, inlaid
on land, like mother-of-pearl in brown Shittim wood.
To a wild duck, born and bred there, it would almost be
a puzzle to find her own nest amongst us; what chance
then had I and Kickums, both unused to marsh and mere?
Each time when we thought that we must be right, now at
last, by track or passage, and approaching the
conflict, with the sounds of it waxing nearer, suddenly
a break of water would be laid before us, with the moon
looking mildly over it, and the northern lights behind
us, dancing down the lines of fog.

It was an awful thing, I say (and to this day I
remember it), to hear the sounds of raging fight, and
the yells of raving slayers, and the howls of poor men
stricken hard, and shattered from wrath to wailing;
then suddenly the dead low hush, as of a soul
departing, and spirits kneeling over it. Through the
vapour of the earth, and white breath of the water, and
beneath the pale round moon (bowing as the drift went
by), all this rush and pause of fear passed or lingered
on my path.

At last, when I almost despaired of escaping from this
tangle of spongy banks, and of hazy creeks, and
reed-fringe, my horse heard the neigh of a
fellow-horse, and was only too glad to answer it; upon
which the other, having lost its rider, came up and
pricked his ears at us, and gazed through the fog very
steadfastly. Therefore I encouraged him with a soft
and genial whistle, and Kickums did his best to tempt
him with a snort of inquiry. However, nothing would
suit that nag, except to enjoy his new freedom; and he
capered away with his tail set on high, and the
stirrup-irons clashing under him. Therefore, as he
might know the way, and appeared to have been in the
battle, we followed him very carefully; and he led us
to a little hamlet, called (as I found afterwards) West
Zuyland, or Zealand, so named perhaps from its
situation amid this inland sea.

Here the King's troops had been quite lately, and their
fires were still burning; but the men themselves had
been summoned away by the night attack of the rebels.
Hence I procured for my guide a young man who knew the
district thoroughly, and who led me by many intricate
ways to the rear of the rebel army. We came upon a
broad open moor striped with sullen water courses,
shagged with sedge, and yellow iris, and in the drier
part with bilberries. For by this time it was four
o'clock, and the summer sun, rising wanly, showed us
all the ghastly scene.

Would that I had never been there! Often in the lonely
hours, even now it haunts me: would, far more, that the
piteous thing had never been done in England! Flying
men, flung back from dreams of victory and honour, only
glad to have the luck of life and limbs to fly with,
mud-bedraggled, foul with slime, reeking both with
sweat and blood, which they could not stop to wipe,
cursing, with their pumped-out lungs, every stick that
hindered them, or gory puddle that slipped the step,
scarcely able to leap over the corses that had dragged
to die. And to see how the corses lay; some, as fair
as death in sleep; with the smile of placid valour, and
of noble manhood, hovering yet on the silent lips.
These had bloodless hands put upwards, white as wax,
and firm as death, clasped (as on a monument) in prayer
for dear ones left behind, or in high thanksgiving.
And of these men there was nothing in their broad blue
eyes to fear. But others were of different sort;
simple fellows unused to pain, accustomed to the
bill-hook, perhaps, or rasp of the knuckles in a
quick-set hedge, or making some to-do at breakfast,
over a thumb cut in sharpening a scythe, and expecting
their wives to make more to-do. Yet here lay these
poor chaps, dead; dead, after a deal of pain, with
little mind to bear it, and a soul they had never
thought of; gone, their God alone knows whither; but to
mercy we may trust. Upon these things I cannot dwell;
and none I trow would ask me: only if a plain man saw
what I saw that morning, he (if God had blessed him
with the heart that is in most of us) must have
sickened of all desire to be great among mankind.

Seeing me riding to the front (where the work of death
went on among the men of true English pluck; which,
when moved, no farther moves), the fugitives called out
to me, in half a dozen dialects, to make no utter fool
of myself; for the great guns were come, and the fight
was over; all the rest was slaughter.

'Arl oop wi Moonmo',' shouted one big fellow, a miner
of the Mendip hills, whose weapon was a pickaxe: 'na
oose to vaight na moor. Wend thee hame, yoong mon

Upon this I stopped my horse, desiring not to be shot
for nothing; and eager to aid some poor sick people,
who tried to lift their arms to me. And this I did to
the best of my power, though void of skill in the
business; and more inclined to weep with them than to
check their weeping. While I was giving a drop of
cordial from my flask to one poor fellow, who sat up,
while his life was ebbing, and with slow insistence
urged me, when his broken voice would come, to tell his
wife (whose name I knew not) something about an
apple-tree, and a golden guinea stored in it, to divide
among six children--in the midst of this I felt warm
lips laid against my cheek quite softly, and then a
little push; and behold it was a horse leaning over me!
I arose in haste, and there stood Winnie, looking at me
with beseeching eyes, enough to melt a heart of stone.
Then seeing my attention fixed she turned her head, and
glanced back sadly toward the place of battle, and gave
a little wistful neigh: and then looked me full in the
face again, as much as to say, 'Do you understand?'
while she scraped with one hoof impatiently. If ever a
horse tried hard to speak, it was Winnie at that
moment. I went to her side and patted her; but that
was not what she wanted. Then I offered to leap into
the empty saddle; but neither did that seem good to
her: for she ran away toward the part of the field at
which she had been glancing back, and then turned
round, and shook her mane, entreating me to follow her.

Upon this I learned from the dying man where to find
his apple-tree, and promised to add another guinea to
the one in store for his children; and so, commending
him to God, I mounted my own horse again, and to
Winnie's great delight, professed myself at her
service. With her ringing silvery neigh, such as no
other horse of all I ever knew could equal, she at once
proclaimed her triumph, and told her master (or meant
to tell, if death should not have closed his ears) that
she was coming to his aid, and bringing one who might
be trusted, of the higher race that kill.

A cannon-bullet (fired low, and ploughing the marsh
slowly) met poor Winnie front to front; and she, being
as quick as thought, lowered her nose to sniff at it.
It might be a message from her master; for it made a
mournful noise. But luckily for Winnie's life, a rise
of wet ground took the ball, even under her very nose;
and there it cut a splashy groove, missing her off
hindfoot by an inch, and scattering black mud over her.
It frightened me much more than Winnie; of that I am
quite certain: because though I am firm enough, when it
comes to a real tussle, and the heart of a fellow warms
up and tells him that he must go through with it; yet I
never did approve of making a cold pie of death.

Therefore, with those reckless cannons, brazen-mouthed,
and bellowing, two furlongs off, or it might be more
(and the more the merrier), I would have given that
year's hay-crop for a bit of a hill, or a thicket of
oaks, or almost even a badger's earth. People will
call me a coward for this (especially when I had made
up my mind, that life was not worth having without any
sign of Lorna); nevertheless, I cannot help it: those
were my feelings; and I set them down, because they
made a mark on me. At Glen Doone I had fought, even
against cannon, with some spirit and fury: but now I
saw nothing to fight about; but rather in every poor
doubled corpse, a good reason for not fighting. So, in
cold blood riding on, and yet ashamed that a man should
shrink where a horse went bravely, I cast a bitter
blame upon the reckless ways of Winnie.

Nearly all were scattered now. Of the noble countrymen
(armed with scythe or pickaxe, blacksmith's hammer, or
fold-pitcher), who had stood their ground for hours
against blazing musketry (from men whom they could not
get at, by reason of the water-dyke), and then against
the deadly cannon, dragged by the Bishop's horses to
slaughter his own sheep; of these sturdy Englishmen,
noble in their want of sense, scarce one out of four
remained for the cowards to shoot down. 'Cross the
rhaine,' they shouted out, 'cross the rhaine, and coom
within rache:' but the other mongrel Britons, with a
mongrel at their head, found it pleasanter to shoot men
who could not shoot in answer, than to meet the chance
of mischief from strong arms, and stronger hearts.

The last scene of this piteous play was acting, just as
I rode up. Broad daylight, and upstanding sun,
winnowing fog from the eastern hills, and spreading the
moors with freshness; all along the dykes they shone,
glistened on the willow-trunks, and touched the banks
with a hoary gray. But alas! those banks were touched
more deeply with a gory red, and strewn with fallen
trunks, more woeful than the wreck of trees; while
howling, cursing, yelling, and the loathsome reek of
carnage, drowned the scent of the new-mown hay, and the
carol of the lark.

Then the cavalry of the King, with their horses at full
speed, dashed from either side upon the helpless mob of
countrymen. A few pikes feebly levelled met them; but
they shot the pikemen, drew swords, and helter-skelter
leaped into the shattered and scattering mass. Right
and left they hacked and hewed; I could hear the
snapping of scythes beneath them, and see the flash of
their sweeping swords. How it must end was plain
enough, even to one like myself, who had never beheld
such a battle before. But Winnie led me away to the
left; and as I could not help the people, neither stop
the slaughter, but found the cannon-bullets coming very
rudely nigh me, I was only too glad to follow her.



That faithful creature, whom I began to admire as if
she were my own (which is no little thing for a man to
say of another man's horse), stopped in front of a low
black shed, such as we call a 'linhay.' And here she
uttered a little greeting, in a subdued and softened
voice, hoping to obtain an answer, such as her master
was wont to give in a cheery manner. Receiving no
reply, she entered; and I (who could scarce keep up
with her, poor Kickums being weary) leaped from his
back, and followed. There I found her sniffing gently,
but with great emotion, at the body of Tom Faggus. A
corpse poor Tom appeared to be, if ever there was one
in this world; and I turned away, and felt unable to
keep altogether from weeping. But the mare either
could not understand, or else would not believe it.
She reached her long neck forth, and felt him with her
under lip, passing it over his skin as softly as a
mother would do to an infant; and then she looked up at
me again; as much as to say, 'he is all right.'

Upon this I took courage, and handled poor Tom, which
being young I had feared at first to do. He groaned
very feebly, as I raised him up; and there was the
wound, a great savage one (whether from pike-thrust or
musket-ball), gaping and welling in his right side,
from which a piece seemed to be torn away. I bound it
up with some of my linen, so far as I knew how; just to
stanch the flow of blood, until we could get a doctor.
Then I gave him a little weak brandy and water, which
he drank with the greatest eagerness, and made sign to
me for more of it. But not knowing how far it was
right to give cordial under the circumstances, I handed
him unmixed water that time; thinking that he was too
far gone to perceive the difference. But herein I
wrong Tom Faggus; for he shook his head and frowned at
me. Even at the door of death, he would not drink what
Adam drank, by whom came death into the world. So I
gave him a little more eau-de-vie, and he took it most

After that he seemed better, and a little colour came
into his cheeks; and he looked at Winnie and knew her;
and would have her nose in his clammy hand, though I
thought it not good for either of them. With the stay
of my arm he sat upright, and faintly looked about him;
as if at the end of a violent dream, too much for his
power of mind. Then he managed to whisper, 'Is Winnie

'As sound as a roach,' I answered. 'Then so am I,'
said he: 'put me upon her back, John; she and I die

Surprised as I was at this fatalism (for so it appeared
to me), of which he had often shown symptoms before
(but I took them for mere levity), now I knew not what
to do; for it seemed to me a murderous thing to set
such a man on horseback; where he must surely bleed to
death, even if he could keep the saddle. But he told
me, with many breaks and pauses, that unless I obeyed
his orders, he would tear off all my bandages, and
accept no further aid from me.

While I was yet hesitating, a storm of horse at full
gallop went by, tearing, swearing, bearing away all the
country before them. Only a little pollard hedge kept
us from their blood-shot eyes. 'Now is the time,'
said my cousin Tom, so far as I could make out his
words; on their heels, I am safe, John, if I have only
Winnie under me. Winnie and I die together.'

Seeing this strong bent of his mind, stronger than any
pains of death, I even did what his feeble eyes
sometimes implored, and sometimes commanded. With a
strong sash, from his own hot neck, bound and twisted,
tight as wax, around his damaged waist, I set him upon
Winnie's back, and placed his trembling feet in
stirrups, with a band from one to another, under the
good mare's body; so that no swerve could throw him
out: and then I said, 'Lean forward, Tom; it will stop
your hurt from bleeding.' He leaned almost on the neck
of the mare, which, as I knew, must close the wound;
and the light of his eyes was quite different, and the
pain of his forehead unstrung itself, as if he felt the
undulous readiness of her volatile paces under him.

'God bless you, John; I am safe,' he whispered, fearing
to open his lungs much: 'who can come near my Winnie
mare? A mile of her gallop is ten years of life. Look
out for yourself, John Ridd.' He sucked his lips, and
the mare went off, as easy and swift as a swallow.

'Well,' thought I, as l looked at Kickums, ignobly
cropping up a bit of grass, 'I have done a very good
thing, no doubt, and ought to be thankful to God for
the chance. But as for getting away unharmed, with all
these scoundrels about me, and only a foundered horse
to trust in--good and spiteful as he is--upon the
whole, I begin to think that I have made a fool of
myself, according to my habit. No wonder Tom said,
"Look out for yourself!" I shall look out from a prison
window, or perhaps even out of a halter. And then,
what will Lorna think of me?'

Being in this wistful mood, I resolved to abide awhile,
even where fate had thrown me; for my horse required
good rest no doubt, and was taking it even while he
cropped, with his hind legs far away stretched out, and
his forelegs gathered under him, and his muzzle on the
mole-hills; so that he had five supportings from his
mother earth. Moreover, the linhay itself was full of
very ancient cow dung; than which there is no balmier
and more maiden soporific. Hence I resolved, upon the
whole, though grieving about breakfast, to light a
pipe, and go to sleep; or at least until the hot sun
should arouse the flies.

I may have slept three hours, or four, or it might be
even five--for I never counted time, while
sleeping--when a shaking more rude than the old
landlady's, brought me back to the world again. I
looked up, with a mighty yawn; and saw twenty, or so,
of foot-soldiers.

'This linhay is not yours,' I said, when they had quite
aroused me, with tongue, and hand, and even
sword-prick: 'what business have you here, good

'Business bad for you,' said one, 'and will lead you to
the gallows.'

'Do you wish to know the way out again?' I asked, very
quietly, as being no braggadocio.

'We will show thee the way out,' said one, 'and the way
out of the world,' said another: 'but not the way to
heaven,' said one chap, most unlikely to know it: and
thereupon they all fell wagging, like a bed of clover
leaves in the morning, at their own choice humour.

'Will you pile your arms outside,' I said, 'and try a
bit of fair play with me?'

For I disliked these men sincerely, and was fain to
teach them a lesson; they were so unchristian in
appearance, having faces of a coffee colour, and dirty
beards half over them. Moreover their dress was
outrageous, and their address still worse. However, I
had wiser let them alone, as will appear afterwards.
These savage-looking fellows laughed at the idea of my
having any chance against some twenty of them: but I
knew that the place was in my favour; for my part of it
had been fenced off (for weaning a calf most likely),
so that only two could come at me at once; and I must
be very much out of training, if I could not manage two
of them. Therefore I laid aside my carbine, and the
two horse-pistols; and they with many coarse jokes at
me went a little way outside, and set their weapons
against the wall, and turned up their coat sleeves
jauntily; and then began to hesitate.

'Go you first, Bob,' I heard them say: 'you are the
biggest man of us; and Dick the wrestler along of you.
Us will back you up, boy.'

'I'll warrant I'll draw the badger,' said Bob; 'and not
a tooth will I leave him. But mind, for the honour of
Kirke's lambs, every man stands me a glass of gin.'
Then he, and another man, made a rush, and the others
came double-quick-march on their heels. But as Bob ran
at me most stupidly, not even knowing how to place his
hands, I caught him with my knuckles at the back of his
neck, and with all the sway of my right arm sent him
over the heads of his comrades. Meanwhile Dick the
wrestler had grappled me, expecting to show off his
art, of which indeed he had some small knowledge; but
being quite of the light-weights, in a second he was
flying after his companion Bob.

Now these two men were hurt so badly, the light one
having knocked his head against the lintel of the outer
gate, that the rest had no desire to encounter the like
misfortune. So they hung back whispering; and before
they had made up their minds, I rushed into the midst
of them. The suddenness and the weight of my onset
took them wholly by surprise; and for once in their
lives, perhaps, Kirke's lambs were worthy of their
name. Like a flock of sheep at a dog's attack they
fell away, hustling one another, and my only difficulty
was not to tumble over them.

I had taken my carbine out with me, having a fondness
for it; but the two horse-pistols I left behind; and
therefore felt good title to take two from the magazine
of the lambs. And with these, and my carbine, I leaped
upon Kickums, who was now quite glad of a gallop again;
and I bade adieu to that mongrel lot; yet they had the
meanness to shoot at me. Thanking God for my
deliverance (inasmuch as those men would have strung me
up, from a pollard-ash without trial, as I heard them
tell one another, and saw the tree they had settled
upon), I ventured to go rather fast on my way, with
doubt and uneasiness urging me. And now my way was
home again. Nobody could say but what I had done my
duty, and rescued Tom (if he could be rescued) from the
mischief into which his own perverseness and love of
change (rather than deep religious convictions, to
which our Annie ascribed his outbreak) had led, or
seemed likely to lead him. And how proud would my
mother be; and--ah well, there was nobody else to be
proud of me now.

But while thinking these things, and desiring my
breakfast, beyond any power of describing, and even
beyond my remembrance, I fell into another fold of
lambs, from which there was no exit. These, like true
crusaders, met me, swaggering very heartily, and with
their barrels of cider set, like so many cannon, across
the road, over against a small hostel.

'We have won the victory, my lord King, and we mean to
enjoy it. Down from thy horse, and have a stoup of
cider, thou big rebel.'

'No rebel am I. My name is John Ridd. I belong to the
side of the King: and I want some breakfast.'

These fellows were truly hospitable; that much will I
say for them. Being accustomed to Arab ways, they
could toss a grill, or fritter, or the inner meaning of
an egg, into any form they pleased, comely and very
good to eat; and it led me to think of Annie. So I
made the rarest breakfast any man might hope for, after
all his troubles; and getting on with these brown
fellows better than could be expected, I craved
permission to light a pipe, if not disagreeable.
Hearing this, they roared at me, with a superior
laughter, and asked me, whether or not, I knew the
tobacco-leaf from the chick-weed; and when I was forced
to answer no, not having gone into the subject, but
being content with anything brown, they clapped me on
the back and swore they had never seen any one like me.
Upon the whole this pleased me much; for I do not wish
to be taken always as of the common pattern: and so we
smoked admirable tobacco--for they would not have any
of mine, though very courteous concerning it--and I was
beginning to understand a little of what they told me;
when up came those confounded lambs, who had shown more
tail than head to me, in the linhay, as I mentioned.

Now these men upset everything. Having been among
wrestlers so much as my duty compelled me to be, and
having learned the necessity of the rest which follows
the conflict, and the right of discussion which all
people have to pay their sixpence to enter; and how
they obtrude this right, and their wisdom, upon the man
who has laboured, until he forgets all the work he did,
and begins to think that they did it; having some
knowledge of this sort of thing, and the flux of minds
swimming in liquor, I foresaw a brawl, as plainly as if
it were Bear Street in Barnstaple.

And a brawl there was, without any error, except of the
men who hit their friends, and those who defended their
enemies. My partners in breakfast and beer-can swore
that I was no prisoner, but the best and most loyal
subject, and the finest-hearted fellow they had ever
the luck to meet with. Whereas the men from the linhay
swore that I was a rebel miscreant; and have me they
would, with a rope's-end ready, in spite of every
[violent language] who had got drunk at my expense, and
been misled by my [strong word] lies.

While this fight was going on (and its mere occurrence
shows, perhaps, that my conversation in those days was
not entirely despicable--else why should my new friends
fight for me, when I had paid for the ale, and
therefore won the wrong tense of gratitude?) it was in
my power at any moment to take horse and go. And this
would have been my wisest plan, and a very great saving
of money; but somehow I felt as if it would be a mean
thing to slip off so. Even while I was hesitating, and
the men were breaking each other's heads, a superior
officer rode up, with his sword drawn, and his face on

'What, my lambs, my lambs!' he cried, smiting with the
flat of his sword; 'is this how you waste my time and
my purse, when you ought to be catching a hundred
prisoners, worth ten pounds apiece to me? Who is this
young fellow we have here? Speak up, sirrah; what art
thou, and how much will thy good mother pay for thee?'

'My mother will pay naught for me,' I answered; while
the lambs fell back, and glowered at one another: 'so
please your worship, I am no rebel; but an honest
farmer, and well-proved of loyalty.'

'Ha, ha; a farmer art thou? Those fellows always pay
the best. Good farmer, come to yon barren tree; thou
shalt make it fruitful.'

Colonel Kirke made a sign to his men, and before I
could think of resistance, stout new ropes were flung
around me; and with three men on either side I was led
along very painfully. And now I saw, and repented
deeply of my careless folly, in stopping with those
boon-companions, instead of being far away. But the
newness of their manners to me, and their mode of
regarding the world (differing so much from mine own),
as well as the flavour of their tobacco, had made me
quite forget my duty to the farm and to myself. Yet
methought they would be tender to me, after all our
speeches: how then was I disappointed, when the men who
had drunk my beer, drew on those grievous ropes, twice
as hard as the men I had been at strife with! Yet this
may have been from no ill will; but simply that having
fallen under suspicion of laxity, they were compelled,
in self-defence, now to be over-zealous.

Nevertheless, however pure and godly might be their
motives, I beheld myself in a grievous case, and likely
to get the worst of it. For the face of the Colonel
was hard and stern as a block of bogwood oak; and
though the men might pity me and think me unjustly
executed, yet they must obey their orders, or
themselves be put to death. Therefore I addressed
myself to the Colonel, in a most ingratiating manner;
begging him not to sully the glory of his victory, and
dwelling upon my pure innocence, and even good service
to our lord the King. But Colonel Kirke only gave
command that I should be smitten in the mouth; which
office Bob, whom I had flung so hard out of the linhay,
performed with great zeal and efficiency. But being
aware of the coming smack, I thrust forth a pair of
teeth; upon which the knuckles of my good friend made a
melancholy shipwreck.

It is not in my power to tell half the thoughts that
moved me, when we came to the fatal tree, and saw two
men hanging there already, as innocent perhaps as I
was, and henceforth entirely harmless. Though ordered
by the Colonel to look steadfastly upon them, I could
not bear to do so; upon which he called me a paltry
coward, and promised my breeches to any man who would
spit upon my countenance. This vile thing Bob, being
angered perhaps by the smarting wound of his knuckles,
bravely stepped forward to do for me, trusting no doubt
to the rope I was led with. But, unluckily as it
proved for him, my right arm was free for a moment; and
therewith I dealt him such a blow, that he never spake
again. For this thing I have often grieved; but the
provocation was very sore to the pride of a young man;
and I trust that God has forgiven me. At the sound
and sight of that bitter stroke, the other men drew
back; and Colonel Kirke, now black in the face with
fury and vexation, gave orders for to shoot me, and
cast me into the ditch hard by. The men raised their
pieces, and pointed at me, waiting for the word to
fire; and I, being quite overcome by the hurry of these
events, and quite unprepared to die yet, could only
think all upside down about Lorna, and my mother, and
wonder what each would say to it. I spread my hands
before my eyes, not being so brave as some men; and
hoping, in some foolish way, to cover my heart with my
elbows. I heard the breath of all around, as if my
skull were a sounding-board; and knew even how the
different men were fingering their triggers. And a
cold sweat broke all over me, as the Colonel,
prolonging his enjoyment, began slowly to say, 'Fire.'

But while he was yet dwelling on the 'F,' the hoofs of
a horse dashed out on the road, and horse and horseman
flung themselves betwixt me and the gun muzzles. So
narrowly was I saved that one man could not check his
trigger: his musket went off, and the ball struck the
horse on the withers, and scared him exceedingly. He
began to lash out with his heels all around, and the
Colonel was glad to keep clear of him; and the men made
excuse to lower their guns, not really wishing to shoot

'How now, Captain Stickles?' cried Kirke, the more
angry because he had shown his cowardice; 'dare you,
sir, to come betwixt me and my lawful prisoner?'

'Nay, hearken one moment, Colonel,' replied my old
friend Jeremy; and his damaged voice was the sweetest
sound I had heard for many a day; 'for your own sake,
hearken.' He looked so full of momentous tidings, that
Colonel Kirke made a sign to his men not to shoot me
till further orders; and then he went aside with
Stickles, so that in spite of all my anxiety I could
not catch what passed between them. But I fancied that
the name of the Lord Chief-Justice Jeffreys was spoken
more than once, and with emphasis and deference.

'Then I leave him in your hands, Captain Stickles,'
said Kirke at last, so that all might hear him; and
though the news was good for me, the smile of baffled
malice made his dark face look most hideous; 'and I
shall hold you answerable for the custody of this

'Colonel Kirke, I will answer for him,' Master Stickles
replied, with a grave bow, and one hand on his breast:
'John Ridd, you are my prisoner. Follow me, John

Upon that, those precious lambs flocked away, leaving
the rope still around me; and some were glad, and some
were sorry, not to see me swinging. Being free of my
arms again, I touched my hat to Colonel Kirke, as
became his rank and experience; but he did not
condescend to return my short salutation, having espied
in the distance a prisoner, out of whom he might make

I wrung the hand of Jeremy Stickles, for his truth and
goodness; and he almost wept (for since his wound he
had been a weakened man) as he answered, 'Turn for
turn, John. You saved my life from the Doones; and by
the mercy of God, I have saved you from a far worse
company. Let your sister Annie know it.'



Now Kickums was not like Winnie, any more than a man
is like a woman; and so he had not followed my
fortunes, except at his own distance. No doubt but
what he felt a certain interest in me; but his interest
was not devotion; and man might go his way and be
hanged, rather than horse would meet hardship.
Therefore, seeing things to be bad, and his master
involved in trouble, what did this horse do but start
for the ease and comfort of Plover's Barrows, and the
plentiful ration of oats abiding in his own manger.
For this I do not blame him. It is the manner of

But I could not help being very uneasy at the thought
of my mother's discomfort and worry, when she should
spy this good horse coming home, without any master, or
rider, and I almost hoped that he might be caught
(although he was worth at least twenty pounds) by some
of the King's troopers, rather than find his way home,
and spread distress among our people. Yet, knowing his
nature, I doubted if any could catch, or catching would
keep him.

Jeremy Stickles assured me, as we took the road to
Bridgwater, that the only chance for my life (if I
still refused to fly) was to obtain an order forthwith,
for my despatch to London, as a suspected person
indeed, but not found in open rebellion, and believed
to be under the patronage of the great Lord Jeffreys.
'For,' said he, 'in a few hours time you would fall
into the hands of Lord Feversham, who has won this
fight, without seeing it, and who has returned to bed
again, to have his breakfast more comfortably. Now he
may not be quite so savage perhaps as Colonel Kirke,
nor find so much sport in gibbeting; but he is equally

Book of the day: