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

Part 15 out of 17

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pitiless, and his price no doubt would be higher.'

'I will pay no price whatever,' I answered, 'neither
will I fly. An hour agone I would have fled for the
sake of my mother, and the farm. But now that I have
been taken prisoner, and my name is known, if I fly,
the farm is forfeited; and my mother and sister must
starve. Moreover, I have done no harm; I have borne no
weapons against the King, nor desired the success of
his enemies. I like not that the son of a bona-roba
should be King of England; neither do I count the
Papists any worse than we are. If they have aught to
try me for, I will stand my trial.'

'Then to London thou must go, my son. There is no such
thing as trial here: we hang the good folk without it,
which saves them much anxiety. But quicken thy step,
good John; I have influence with Lord Churchill, and we
must contrive to see him, ere the foreigner falls to
work again. Lord Churchill is a man of sense, and
imprisons nothing but his money.'

We were lucky enough to find this nobleman, who has
since become so famous by his foreign victories. He
received us with great civility; and looked at me with
much interest, being a tall and fine young man himself,
but not to compare with me in size, although far better
favoured. I liked his face well enough, but thought
there was something false about it. He put me a few
keen questions, such as a man not assured of honesty
might have found hard to answer; and he stood in a very
upright attitude, making the most of his figure.

I saw nothing to be proud of, at the moment, in this
interview; but since the great Duke of Marlborough rose
to the top of glory, I have tried to remember more
about him than my conscience quite backs up. How
should I know that this man would be foremost of our
kingdom in five-and-twenty years or so; and not
knowing, why should I heed him, except for my own
pocket? Nevertheless, I have been so
cross-questioned--far worse than by young Lord
Churchill--about His Grace the Duke of Marlborough,
and what he said to me, and what I said then, and how
His Grace replied to that, and whether he smiled like
another man, or screwed up his lips like a button (as
our parish tailor said of him), and whether I knew from
the turn of his nose that no Frenchman could stand
before him: all these inquiries have worried me so,
ever since the Battle of Blenheim, that if tailors
would only print upon waistcoats, I would give double
price for a vest bearing this inscription, 'No
information can be given about the Duke of

Now this good Lord Churchill--for one might call him
good, by comparison with the very bad people around
him--granted without any long hesitation the order for
my safe deliverance to the Court of King's Bench at
Westminster; and Stickles, who had to report in London,
was empowered to convey me, and made answerable for
producing me. This arrangement would have been
entirely to my liking, although the time of year was
bad for leaving Plover's Barrows so; but no man may
quite choose his times, and on the while I would have
been quite content to visit London, if my mother could
be warned that nothing was amiss with me, only a mild,
and as one might say, nominal captivity. And to
prevent her anxiety, I did my best to send a letter
through good Sergeant Bloxham, of whom I heard as
quartered with Dumbarton's regiment at Chedzuy. But
that regiment was away in pursuit; and I was forced to
entrust my letter to a man who said that he knew him,
and accepted a shilling to see to it.

For fear of any unpleasant change, we set forth at once
for London; and truly thankful may I be that God in His
mercy spared me the sight of the cruel and bloody work
with which the whole country reeked and howled during
the next fortnight. I have heard things that set my
hair on end, and made me loathe good meat for days; but
I make a point of setting down only the things which I
saw done; and in this particular case, not many will
quarrel with my decision. Enough, therefore, that we
rode on (for Stickles had found me a horse at last) as
far as Wells, where we slept that night; and being
joined in the morning by several troopers and
orderlies, we made a slow but safe journey to London,
by way of Bath and Reading.

The sight of London warmed my heart with various
emotions, such as a cordial man must draw from the
heart of all humanity. Here there are quick ways and
manners, and the rapid sense of knowledge, and the
power of understanding, ere a word be spoken. Whereas
at Oare, you must say a thing three times, very slowly,
before it gets inside the skull of the good man you are
addressing. And yet we are far more clever there than
in any parish for fifteen miles.

But what moved me most, when I saw again the noble oil
and tallow of the London lights, and the dripping
torches at almost every corner, and the handsome
signboards, was the thought that here my Lorna lived,
and walked, and took the air, and perhaps thought now
and then of the old days in the good farm-house.
Although I would make no approach to her, any more than
she had done to me (upon which grief I have not dwelt,
for fear of seeming selfish), yet there must be some
large chance, or the little chance might be enlarged,
of falling in with the maiden somehow, and learning how
her mind was set. If against me, all should be over.
I was not the man to sigh and cry for love, like a
Romeo: none should even guess my grief, except my
sister Annie.

But if Lorna loved me still--as in my heart of hearts I
hoped--then would I for no one care, except her own
delicious self. Rank and title, wealth and grandeur,
all should go to the winds, before they scared me from
my own true love.

Thinking thus, I went to bed in the centre of London
town, and was bitten so grievously by creatures whose
name is 'legion,' mad with the delight of getting a
wholesome farmer among them, that verily I was ashamed
to walk in the courtly parts of the town next day,
having lumps upon my face of the size of a pickling
walnut. The landlord said that this was nothing; and
that he expected, in two days at the utmost, a very
fresh young Irishman, for whom they would all forsake
me. Nevertheless, I declined to wait, unless he could
find me a hayrick to sleep in; for the insects of grass
only tickle. He assured me that no hayrick could now
be found in London; upon which I was forced to leave
him, and with mutual esteem we parted.

The next night I had better luck, being introduced to a
decent widow, of very high Scotch origin. That house
was swept and garnished so, that not a bit was left to
eat, for either man or insect. The change of air
having made me hungry, I wanted something after supper;
being quite ready to pay for it, and showing my purse
as a symptom. But the face of Widow MacAlister, when I
proposed to have some more food, was a thing to be
drawn (if it could be drawn further) by our new

Therefore I left her also; for liefer would I be eaten
myself than have nothing to eat; and so I came back to
my old furrier; the which was a thoroughly hearty man,
and welcomed me to my room again, with two shillings
added to the rent, in the joy of his heart at seeing
me. Being under parole to Master Stickles, I only went
out betwixt certain hours; because I was accounted as
liable to be called upon; for what purpose I knew not,
but hoped it might be a good one. I felt it a loss,
and a hindrance to me, that I was so bound to remain at
home during the session of the courts of law; for
thereby the chance of ever beholding Lorna was very
greatly contracted, if not altogether annihilated. For
these were the very hours in which the people of
fashion, and the high world, were wont to appear to the
rest of mankind, so as to encourage them. And of
course by this time, the Lady Lorna was high among
people of fashion, and was not likely to be seen out of
fashionable hours. It is true that there were some
places of expensive entertainment, at which the better
sort of mankind might be seen and studied, in their
hours of relaxation, by those of the lower order, who
could pay sufficiently. But alas, my money was getting
low; and the privilege of seeing my betters was more
and more denied to me, as my cash drew shorter. For a
man must have a good coat at least, and the pockets not
wholly empty, before he can look at those whom God has
created for his ensample.

Hence, and from many other causes--part of which was my
own pride --it happened that I abode in London betwixt
a month and five weeks' time, ere ever I saw Lorna. It
seemed unfit that I should go, and waylay her, and spy
on her, and say (or mean to say), 'Lo, here is your
poor faithful farmer, a man who is unworthy of you, by
means of his common birth; and yet who dares to crawl
across your path, that you may pity him. For God's
sake show a little pity, though you may not feel it.'
Such behaviour might be comely in a love-lorn boy, a
page to some grand princess; but I, John Ridd, would
never stoop to the lowering of love so.

Nevertheless I heard of Lorna, from my worthy furrier,
almost every day, and with a fine exaggeration. This
honest man was one of those who in virtue of their
trade, and nicety of behaviour, are admitted into noble
life, to take measurements, and show patterns. And
while so doing, they contrive to acquire what is to the
English mind at once the most important and most
interesting of all knowledge,--the science of being
able to talk about the titled people. So my furrier
(whose name was Ramsack), having to make robes for
peers, and cloaks for their wives and otherwise, knew
the great folk, sham or real, as well as he knew a fox
or skunk from a wolverine skin.

And when, with some fencing and foils of inquiry, I
hinted about Lady Lorna Dugal, the old man's face
became so pleasant that I knew her birth must be
wondrous high. At this my own countenance fell, I
suppose,--for the better she was born, the harder she
would be to marry--and mistaking my object, he took me

'Perhaps you think, Master Ridd, that because her
ladyship, Lady Lorna Dugal, is of Scottish origin,
therefore her birth is not as high as of our English
nobility. If you think so you are wrong, sir. She
comes not of the sandy Scotch race, with high
cheek-bones, and raw shoulder-blades, who set up
pillars in their courtyards. But she comes of the very
best Scotch blood, descended from the Norsemen. Her
mother was of the very noblest race, the Lords of
Lorne; higher even than the great Argyle, who has
lately made a sad mistake, and paid for it most sadly.
And her father was descended from the King Dugal, who
fought against Alexander the Great. No, no, Master
Ridd; none of your promiscuous blood, such as runs in
the veins of half our modern peerage.'

'Why should you trouble yourself about it, Master
Ramsack?' I replied: 'let them all go their own ways:
and let us all look up to them, whether they come by
hook or crook.'

'Not at all, not at all, my lad. That is not the way
to regard it. We look up at the well-born men, and
side-ways at the base-born.'

'Then we are all base-born ourselves. I will look up
to no man, except for what himself has done.'

'Come, Master Ridd, you might be lashed from New-gate
to Tyburn and back again, once a week, for a
twelvemonth, if some people heard you. Keep your
tongue more close, young man; or here you lodge no
longer; albeit I love your company, which smells to me
of the hayfield. Ah, I have not seen a hayfield for
nine-and-twenty years, John Ridd. The cursed moths
keep me at home, every day of the summer.'

'Spread your furs on the haycocks,' I answered very
boldly: 'the indoor moth cannot abide the presence of
the outdoor ones.'

'Is it so?' he answered: 'I never thought of that
before. And yet I have known such strange things
happen in the way of fur, that I can well believe it.
If you only knew, John, the way in which they lay their
eggs, and how they work tail-foremost--'

'Tell me nothing of the kind,' I replied, with equal
confidence: 'they cannot work tail-foremost; and they
have no tails to work with.' For I knew a little about
grubs, and the ignorance concerning them, which we have
no right to put up with. However, not to go into that
(for the argument lasted a fortnight; and then was only
come so far as to begin again), Master Ramsack soon
convinced me of the things I knew already; the
excellence of Lorna's birth, as well as her lofty place
at Court, and beauty, and wealth, and elegance. But
all these only made me sigh, and wish that I were born
to them.

From Master Ramsack I discovered that the nobleman to
whose charge Lady Lorna had been committed, by the
Court of Chancery, was Earl Brandir of Lochawe, her
poor mother's uncle. For the Countess of Dugal was
daughter, and only child, of the last Lord Lorne, whose
sister had married Sir Ensor Doone; while he himself
had married the sister of Earl Brandir. This nobleman
had a country house near the village of Kensington; and
here his niece dwelled with him, when she was not in
attendance on Her Majesty the Queen, who had taken a
liking to her. Now since the King had begun to attend
the celebration of mass, in the chapel at
Whitehall--and not at Westminster Abbey, as our gossips
had averred--he had given order that the doors should
be thrown open, so that all who could make interest to
get into the antechamber, might see this form of
worship. Master Ramsack told me that Lorna was there
almost every Sunday; their Majesties being most anxious
to have the presence of all the nobility of the
Catholic persuasion, so as to make a goodly show. And
the worthy furrier, having influence with the
door-keepers, kindly obtained admittance for me, one
Sunday, into the antechamber.

Here I took care to be in waiting, before the Royal
procession entered; but being unknown, and of no high
rank, I was not allowed to stand forward among the
better people, but ordered back into a corner very dark
and dismal; the verger remarking, with a grin, that I
could see over all other heads, and must not set my own
so high. Being frightened to find myself among so many
people of great rank and gorgeous apparel, I blushed at
the notice drawn upon me by this uncourteous fellow;
and silently fell back into the corner by the hangings.

You may suppose that my heart beat high, when the King
and Queen appeared, and entered, followed by the Duke
of Norfolk, bearing the sword of state, and by several
other noblemen, and people of repute. Then the doors
of the chapel were thrown wide open; and though I could
only see a little, being in the corner so, I thought
that it was beautiful. Bowers of rich silk were there,
and plenty of metal shining, and polished wood with
lovely carving; flowers too of the noblest kind, and
candles made by somebody who had learned how to clarify
tallow. This last thing amazed me more than all, for
our dips never will come clear, melt the mutton-fat how
you will. And methought that this hanging of flowers
about was a pretty thing; for if a man can worship God
best of all beneath a tree, as the natural instinct is,
surely when by fault of climate the tree would be too
apt to drip, the very best make-believe is to have
enough and to spare of flowers; which to the dwellers
in London seem to have grown on the tree denied them.

Be that as it may, when the King and Queen crossed the
threshold, a mighty flourish of trumpets arose, and a
waving of banners. The Knights of the Garter (whoever
they be) were to attend that day in state; and some
went in, and some stayed out, and it made me think of
the difference betwixt the ewes and the wethers. For
the ewes will go wherever you lead them; but the
wethers will not, having strong opinions, and meaning
to abide by them. And one man I noticed was of the
wethers, to wit the Duke of Norfolk; who stopped
outside with the sword of state, like a beadle with a
rapping-rod. This has taken more to tell than the time
it happened in. For after all the men were gone, some
to this side, some to that, according to their
feelings, a number of ladies, beautifully dressed,
being of the Queen's retinue, began to enter, and were
stared at three times as much as the men had been. And
indeed they were worth looking at (which men never are
to my ideas, when they trick themselves with gewgaws),
but none was so well worth eye-service as my own
beloved Lorna. She entered modestly and shyly, with
her eyes upon the ground, knowing the rudeness of the
gallants, and the large sum she was priced at. Her
dress was of the purest white, very sweet and simple,
without a line of ornament, for she herself adorned it.
The way she walked. and touched her skirt (rather than
seemed to hold it up) with a white hand beaming one red
rose, this and her stately supple neck, and the flowing
of her hair would show, at a distance of a hundred
yards, that she could be none but Lorna Doone. Lorna
Doone of my early love; in the days when she blushed
for her name before me by reason of dishonesty; but now
the Lady Lorna Dugal as far beyond reproach as above my
poor affection. All my heart, and all my mind,
gathered themselves upon her. Would she see me, or
would she pass? Was there instinct in our love?

By some strange chance she saw me. Or was it through
our destiny? While with eyes kept sedulously on the
marble floor, to shun the weight of admiration thrust
too boldly on them, while with shy quick steps she
passed, some one (perhaps with purpose) trod on the
skirt of her clear white dress,--with the quickness
taught her by many a scene of danger, she looked up,
and her eyes met mine.

As I gazed upon her, steadfastly, yearningly, yet with
some reproach, and more of pride than humility, she
made me one of the courtly bows which I do so much
detest; yet even that was sweet and graceful, when my
Lorna did it. But the colour of her pure clear cheeks
was nearly as deep as that of my own, when she went on
for the religious work. And the shining of her eyes
was owing to an unpaid debt of tears.

Upon the whole I was satisfied. Lorna had seen me, and
had not (according to the phrase of the high world
then) even tried to 'cut' me. Whether this low phrase
is born of their own stupid meanness, or whether it
comes of necessity exercised on a man without money, I
know not, and I care not. But one thing I know right
well; any man who 'cuts' a man (except for vice or
meanness) should be quartered without quarter.

All these proud thoughts rose within me as the lovely
form of Lorna went inside, and was no more seen. And
then I felt how coarse I was; how apt to think strong
thoughts, and so on; without brains to bear me out:
even as a hen's egg, laid without enough of lime, and
looking only a poor jelly.

Nevertheless, I waited on; as my usual manner is. For
to be beaten, while running away, is ten times worse
than to face it out, and take it, and have done with
it. So at least I have always found, because of
reproach of conscience: and all the things those clever
people carried on inside, at large, made me long for
our Parson Bowden that he might know how to act.

While I stored up, in my memory, enough to keep our
parson going through six pipes on a Saturday night--to
have it as right as could be next day--a lean man with
a yellow beard, too thin for a good Catholic (which
religion always fattens), came up to me, working
sideways, in the manner of a female crab.

'This is not to my liking,' I said: 'if aught thou
hast, speak plainly; while they make that horrible
noise inside.'

Nothing had this man to say; but with many sighs,
because I was not of the proper faith, he took my
reprobate hand to save me: and with several religious
tears, looked up at me, and winked with one eye.
Although the skin of my palms was thick, I felt a
little suggestion there, as of a gentle leaf in spring,
fearing to seem too forward. I paid the man, and he
went happy; for the standard of heretical silver is
purer than that of the Catholics.

Then I lifted up my little billet; and in that dark
corner read it, with a strong rainbow of colours coming
from the angled light. And in mine eyes there was
enough to make rainbow of strongest sun, as my anger
clouded off.

Not that it began so well; but that in my heart I knew
(ere three lines were through me) that I was with all
heart loved--and beyond that, who may need? The
darling of my life went on, as if I were of her own
rank, or even better than she was; and she dotted her
'i's,' and crossed her 't's,' as if I were at least a
schoolmaster. All of it was done in pencil; but as
plain as plain could be. In my coffin it shall lie,
with my ring and something else. Therefore will I not
expose it to every man who buys this book, and haply
thinks that he has bought me to the bottom of my heart.
Enough for men of gentle birth (who never are
inquisitive) that my love told me, in her letter, just
to come and see her.

I ran away, and could not stop. To behold even her, at
the moment, would have dashed my fancy's joy. Yet my
brain was so amiss, that I must do something.
Therefore to the river Thames, with all speed, I
hurried; and keeping all my best clothes on (indued for
sake of Lorna), into the quiet stream I leaped, and
swam as far as London Bridge, and ate nobler dinner



Although a man may be as simple as the flowers of the
field; knowing when, but scarcely why, he closes to the
bitter wind; and feeling why, but scarcely when, he
opens to the genial sun; yet without his questing much
into the capsule of himself--to do which is a
misery--he may have a general notion how he happens to
be getting on.

I felt myself to be getting on better than at any time
since the last wheat-harvest, as I took the lane to
Kensington upon the Monday evening. For although no
time was given in my Lorna's letter, I was not inclined
to wait more than decency required. And though I went
and watched the house, decency would not allow me to
knock on the Sunday evening, especially when I found at
the corner that his lordship was at home.

The lanes and fields between Charing Cross and the
village of Kensington, are, or were at that time, more
than reasonably infested with footpads and with
highwaymen. However, my stature and holly club kept
these fellows from doing more than casting sheep's eyes
at me. For it was still broad daylight, and the view
of the distant villages, Chelsea, Battersea, Tyburn,
and others, as well as a few large houses, among the
hams and towards the river, made it seem less lonely.
Therefore I sang a song in the broadest Exmoor dialect,
which caused no little amazement in the minds of all
who met me.

When I came to Earl Brandir's house, my natural modesty
forbade me to appear at the door for guests; therefore
I went to the entrance for servants and retainers.
Here, to my great surprise, who should come and let me
in but little Gwenny Carfax, whose very existence had
almost escaped my recollection. Her mistress, no
doubt, had seen me coming, and sent her to save
trouble. But when I offered to kiss Gwenny, in my joy
and comfort to see a farm-house face again, she looked
ashamed, and turned away, and would hardly speak to me.

I followed her to a little room, furnished very
daintily; and there she ordered me to wait, in a most
ungracious manner. 'Well,' thought I, 'if the
mistress and the maid are alike in temper, better it
had been for me to abide at Master Ramsack's.' But
almost ere my thought was done, I heard the light quick
step which I knew as well as 'Watch,' my dog, knew
mine; and my breast began to tremble, like the
trembling of an arch ere the keystone is put in.

Almost ere I hoped--for fear and hope were so entangled
that they hindered one another--the velvet hangings of
the doorway parted, with a little doubt, and then a
good face put on it. Lorna, in her perfect beauty,
stood before the crimson folds, and her dress was all
pure white, and her cheeks were rosy pink, and her lips
were scarlet.

Like a maiden, with skill and sense checking violent
impulse, she stayed there for one moment only, just to
be admired; and then like a woman, she came to me,
seeing how alarmed I was. The hand she offered me I
took, and raised it to my lips with fear, as a thing
too good for me. 'Is that all?' she whispered; and
then her eyes gleamed up at me; and in another instant,
she was weeping on my breast.

'Darling Lorna, Lady Lorna,' I cried, in astonishment,
yet unable but to keep her closer to me, and closer;
'surely, though I love you so, this is not as it should

'Yes, it is, John. Yes, it is. Nothing else should
ever be. Oh, why have you behaved so?'

'I am behaving.' I replied, 'to the very best of my
ability. There is no other man in the world could
hold you so, without kissing you.'

'Then why don't you do it, John?' asked Lorna, looking
up at me, with a flash of her old fun.

Now this matter, proverbially, is not for discussion,
and repetition. Enough that we said nothing more than,
'Oh, John, how glad I am!' and 'Lorna, Lorna Lorna!'
for about five minutes. Then my darling drew back
proudly, with blushing cheeks, and tear-bright eyes,
she began to cross-examine me.

'Master John Ridd, you shall tell the truth, the whole
truth, and nothing but the truth. I have been in
Chancery, sir; and can detect a story. Now why have
you never, for more than a twelvemonth, taken the
smallest notice of your old friend, Mistress Lorna
Doone?' Although she spoke in this lightsome manner, as
if it made no difference, I saw that her quick heart
was moving, and the flash of her eyes controlled.

'Simply for this cause, I answered, 'that my old friend
and true love, took not the smallest heed of me. Nor
knew I where to find her.'

'What!' cried Lorna; and nothing more; being overcome
with wondering; and much inclined to fall away, but for
my assistance. I told her, over and over again, that
not a single syllable of any message from her, or
tidings of her welfare, had reached me, or any one of
us, since the letter she left behind; except by
soldier's gossip.

'Oh, you poor dear John!' said Lorna, sighing at
thought of my misery: 'how wonderfully good of you,
thinking of me as you must have done, not to marry that
little plain thing (or perhaps I should say that lovely
creature, for I have never seen her), Mistress Ruth--I
forget her name; but something like a towel.'

'Ruth Huckaback is a worthy maid,' I answered with some
dignity; 'and she alone of all our world, except indeed
poor Annie, has kept her confidence in you, and told me
not to dread your rank, but trust your heart, Lady

'Then Ruth is my best friend,' she answered, 'and is
worthy of you, dear John. And now remember one thing,
dear; if God should part us, as may be by nothing short
of death, try to marry that little Ruth, when you cease
to remember me. And now for the head-traitor. I have
often suspected it: but she looks me in the face, and
wishes--fearful things, which I cannot repeat.'

With these words, she moved an implement such as I had
not seen before, and which made a ringing noise at a
serious distance. And before I had ceased
wondering--for if such things go on, we might ring the
church bells, while sitting in our back-kitchen--little
Gwenny Carfax came, with a grave and sullen face.

'Gwenny,' began my Lorna, in a tone of high rank and
dignity, 'go and fetch the letters which I gave you at
various times for despatch to Mistress Ridd.'

'How can I fetch them, when they are gone? It be no
use for him to tell no lies--'

'Now, Gwenny, can you look at me?' I asked, very
sternly; for the matter was no joke to me, after a
year's unhappiness.

'I don't want to look at 'ee. What should I look at a
young man for, although he did offer to kiss me?'

I saw the spite and impudence of this last remark, and
so did Lorna, although she could not quite refrain from

'Now, Gwenny, not to speak of that,' said Lorna, very
demurely, 'if you thought it honest to keep the
letters, was it honest to keep the money?'

At this the Cornish maiden broke into a rage of
honesty: 'A putt the money by for 'ee. 'Ee shall have
every farden of it.' And so she flung out of the room.

'And, Gwenny,' said Lorna very softly, following under
the door-hangings; 'if it is not honest to keep the
money, it is not honest to keep the letters, which
would have been worth more than any gold to those who
were so kind to you. Your father shall know the whole,
Gwenny, unless you tell the truth.'

'Now, a will tell all the truth,' this strange maiden
answered, talking to herself at least as much as to her
mistress, while she went out of sight and hearing. And
then I was so glad at having my own Lorna once again,
cleared of all contempt for us, and true to me through
all of it, that I would have forgiven Gwenny for
treason, or even forgery.

'I trusted her so much,' said Lorna, in her old
ill-fortuned way; 'and look how she has deceived me!
That is why I love you, John (setting other things
aside), because you never told me falsehood; and you
never could, you know.'

'Well, I am not so sure of that. I think I could tell
any lie, to have you, darling, all my own.'

'Yes. And perhaps it might be right. To other people
besides us two. But you could not do it to me, John.
You never could do it to me, you know.'

Before I quite perceived my way to the bottom of the
distinction--although beyond doubt a valid one--Gwenny
came back with a leathern bag, and tossed it upon the
table. Not a word did she vouchsafe to us; but stood
there, looking injured.

'Go, and get your letters, John,' said Lorna very
gravely; 'or at least your mother's letters, made of
messages to you. As for Gwenny, she shall go before
Lord Justice Jeffreys.' I knew that Lorna meant it not;
but thought that the girl deserved a frightening; as
indeed she did. But we both mistook the courage of
this child of Cornwall. She stepped upon a little
round thing, in the nature of a stool, such as I never
had seen before, and thus delivered her sentiments.

'And you may take me, if you please, before the great
Lord Jeffreys. I have done no more than duty, though I
did it crookedly, and told a heap of lies, for your
sake. And pretty gratitude I gets.'

'Much gratitude you have shown,' replied Lorna, 'to
Master Ridd, for all his kindness and his goodness to
you. Who was it that went down, at the peril of his
life, and brought your father to you, when you had lost
him for months and months? Who was it? Answer me,

'Girt Jan Ridd,' said the handmaid, very sulkily.

'What made you treat me so, little Gwenny?' I asked,
for Lorna would not ask lest the reply should vex me.

'Because 'ee be'est below her so. Her shanna' have a
poor farmering chap, not even if her were a Carnishman.
All her land, and all her birth--and who be you, I'd
like to know?'

'Gwenny, you may go,' said Lorna, reddening with quiet
anger; 'and remember that you come not near me for the
next three days. It is the only way to punish her,'
she continued to me, when the maid was gone, in a storm
of sobbing and weeping. 'Now, for the next three days,
she will scarcely touch a morsel of food, and scarcely
do a thing but cry. Make up your mind to one thing,
John; if you mean to take me, for better for worse, you
will have to take Gwenny with me.

'I would take you with fifty Gwennies,' said I,
'although every one of them hated me, which I do not
believe this little maid does, in the bottom of her

'No one can possibly hate you, John,' she answered very
softly; and I was better pleased with this, than if she
had called me the most noble and glorious man in the

After this, we spoke of ourselves and the way people
would regard us, supposing that when Lorna came to be
her own free mistress (as she must do in the course of
time) she were to throw her rank aside, and refuse her
title, and caring not a fig for folk who cared less
than a fig-stalk for her, should shape her mind to its
native bent, and to my perfect happiness. It was not
my place to say much, lest I should appear to use an
improper and selfish influence. And of course to all
men of common sense, and to everybody of middle age
(who must know best what is good for youth), the
thoughts which my Lorna entertained would be enough to
prove her madness.

Not that we could not keep her well, comfortably, and
with nice clothes, and plenty of flowers, and fruit,
and landscape, and the knowledge of our neighbours'
affairs, and their kind interest in our own. Still
this would not be as if she were the owner of a county,
and a haughty title; and able to lead the first men of
the age, by her mind, and face, and money.

Therefore was I quite resolved not to have a word to
say, while this young queen of wealth and beauty, and
of noblemen's desire, made her mind up how to act for
her purest happiness. But to do her justice, this was
not the first thing she was thinking of: the test of
her judgment was only this, 'How will my love be

'Now, John,' she cried; for she was so quick that she
always had my thoughts beforehand; 'why will you be
backward, as if you cared not for me? Do you dream
that I am doubting? My mind has been made up, good
John, that you must be my husband, for--well, I will
not say how long, lest you should laugh at my folly.
But I believe it was ever since you came, with your
stockings off, and the loaches. Right early for me to
make up my mind; but you know that you made up yours,
John; and, of course, I knew it; and that had a great
effect on me. Now, after all this age of loving, shall
a trifle sever us?'

I told her that it was no trifle, but a most important
thing, to abandon wealth, and honour, and the
brilliance of high life, and be despised by every one
for such abundant folly. Moreover, that I should
appear a knave for taking advantage of her youth, and
boundless generosity, and ruining (as men would say) a
noble maid by my selfishness. And I told her outright,
having worked myself up by my own conversation, that
she was bound to consult her guardian, and that without
his knowledge, I would come no more to see her. Her
flash of pride at these last words made her look like
an empress; and I was about to explain myself better,
but she put forth her hand and stopped me.

'I think that condition should rather have proceeded
from me. You are mistaken, Master Ridd, in supposing
that I would think of receiving you in secret. It was
a different thing in Glen Doone, where all except
yourself were thieves, and when I was but a simple
child, and oppressed with constant fear. You are quite
right in threatening to visit me thus no more; but I
think you might have waited for an invitation, sir.'

'And you are quite right, Lady Lorna, in pointing out
my presumption. It is a fault that must ever be found
in any speech of mine to you.'

This I said so humbly, and not with any bitterness--for
I knew that I had gone too far--and made her so polite
a bow, that she forgave me in a moment, and we begged
each other's pardon.

'Now, will you allow me just to explain my own view of
this matter, John?' said she, once more my darling.
'It may be a very foolish view, but I shall never
change it. Please not to interrupt me, dear, until you
have heard me to the end. In the first place, it is
quite certain that neither you nor I can be happy
without the other. Then what stands between us?
Worldly position, and nothing else. I have no more
education than you have, John Ridd; nay, and not so
much. My birth and ancestry are not one whit more pure
than yours, although they may be better known. Your
descent from ancient freeholders, for five-and-twenty
generations of good, honest men, although you bear no
coat of arms, is better than the lineage of nine proud
English noblemen out of every ten I meet with. In
manners, though your mighty strength, and hatred of any
meanness, sometimes break out in violence--of which I
must try to cure you, dear--in manners, if kindness,
and gentleness, and modesty are the true things wanted,
you are immeasurably above any of our Court-gallants;
who indeed have very little. As for difference of
religion, we allow for one another, neither having been
brought up in a bitterly pious manner.'

Here, though the tears were in my eyes, at the loving
things love said of me, I could not help a little laugh
at the notion of any bitter piety being found among the
Doones, or even in mother, for that matter. Lorna
smiled, in her slyest manner, and went on again:--

'Now, you see, I have proved my point; there is nothing
between us but worldly position--if you can defend me
against the Doones, for which, I trow, I may trust you.
And worldly position means wealth, and title, and the
right to be in great houses, and the pleasure of being
envied. I have not been here for a year, John, without
learning something. Oh, I hate it; how I hate it! Of
all the people I know, there are but two, besides my
uncle, who do not either covet, or detest me. And who
are those two, think you?'

'Gwenny, for one,' I answered.

'Yes, Gwenny, for one. And the queen, for the other.
The one is too far below me (I mean, in her own
opinion), and the other too high above. As for the
women who dislike me, without having even heard my
voice, I simply have nothing to do with them. As for
the men who covet me, for my land and money, I merely
compare them with you, John Ridd; and all thought of
them is over. Oh, John, you must never forsake me,
however cross I am to you. I thought you would have
gone, just now; and though I would not move to stop
you, my heart would have broken.'

'You don't catch me go in a hurry,' I answered very
sensibly, 'when the loveliest maiden in all the world,
and the best, and the dearest, loves me. All my fear
of you is gone, darling Lorna, all my fear--'

'Is it possible you could fear me, John, after all we
have been through together? Now you promised not to
interrupt me; is this fair behaviour? Well, let me see
where I left off--oh, that my heart would have broken.
Upon that point, I will say no more, lest you should
grow conceited, John; if anything could make you so.
But I do assure you that half London--however, upon
that point also I will check my power of speech, lest
you think me conceited. And now to put aside all
nonsense; though I have talked none for a year, John,
having been so unhappy; and now it is such a relief to

'Then talk it for an hour,' said I; 'and let me sit and
watch you. To me it is the very sweetest of all
sweetest wisdom.'

'Nay, there is no time,' she answered, glancing at a
jewelled timepiece, scarcely larger than an oyster,
which she drew from her waist-band; and then she pushed
it away, in confusion, lest its wealth should startle
me. 'My uncle will come home in less than half an
hour, dear: and you are not the one to take a side-
passage, and avoid him. I shall tell him that you have
been here; and that I mean you to come again.'

As Lorna said this, with a manner as confident as need
be, I saw that she had learned in town the power of her
beauty, and knew that she could do with most men aught
she set her mind upon. And as she stood there, flushed
with pride and faith in her own loveliness, and radiant
with the love itself, I felt that she must do exactly
as she pleased with every one. For now, in turn, and
elegance, and richness, and variety, there was nothing
to compare with her face, unless it were her figure.
Therefore I gave in, and said,--

'Darling, do just what you please. Only make no rogue
of me.'

For that she gave me the simplest, kindest, and
sweetest of all kisses; and I went down the great
stairs grandly, thinking of nothing else but that.



It would be hard for me to tell the state of mind in
which I lived for a long time after this. I put away
from me all torment, and the thought of future cares,
and the sight of difficulty; and to myself appeared,
which means that I became the luckiest of lucky
fellows, since the world itself began. I thought not
of the harvest even, nor of the men who would get their
wages without having earned them, nor of my mother's
anxiety and worry about John Fry's great fatness (which
was growing upon him), and how she would cry fifty
times in a day, 'Ah, if our John would only come home,
how different everything would look!'

Although there were no soldiers now quartered at
Plover's Barrows, all being busied in harassing the
country, and hanging the people where the rebellion had
thriven most, my mother, having received from me a
message containing my place of abode, contrived to send
me, by the pack-horses, as fine a maund as need be of
provisions, and money, and other comforts. Therein I
found addressed to Colonel Jeremiah Stickles, in
Lizzie's best handwriting, half a side of the dried
deer's flesh, in which he rejoiced so greatly. Also,
for Lorna, a fine green goose, with a little salt
towards the tail, and new-laid eggs inside it, as well
as a bottle of brandied cherries, and seven, or it may
have been eight pounds of fresh homemade butter.
Moreover, to myself there was a letter full of good
advice, excellently well expressed, and would have been
of the greatest value, if I had cared to read it. But
I read all about the farm affairs, and the man whe had
offered himself to our Betty for the five pounds in her
stocking; as well as the antics of Sally Snowe, and how
she had almost thrown herself at Parson Bowden's head
(old enough to be her grandfather), because on the
Sunday after the hanging of a Countisbury man, he had
preached a beautiful sermon about Christian love; which
Lizzie, with her sharp eyes, found to be the work of
good Bishop Ken. Also I read that the Doones were
quiet; the parishes round about having united to feed
them well through the harvest time, so that after the
day's hard work, the farmers might go to bed at night.
And this plan had been found to answer well, and to
save much trouble on both sides, so that everybody
wondered it had not been done before. But Lizzie
thought that the Doones could hardly be expected much
longer to put up with it, and probably would not have
done so now, but for a little adversity; to wit, that
the famous Colonel Kirke had, in the most outrageous
manner, hanged no less than six of them, who were
captured among the rebels; for he said that men of
their rank and breeding, and above all of their
religion, should have known better than to join
plough-boys, and carters, and pickaxemen, against our
Lord the King, and his Holiness the Pope. This hanging
of so many Doones caused some indignation among people
who were used to them; and it seemed for a while to
check the rest from any spirit of enterprise.

Moreover, I found from this same letter (which was
pinned upon the knuckle of a leg of mutton, for fear of
being lost in straw) that good Tom Faggus was at home
again, and nearly cured of his dreadful wound; but
intended to go to war no more, only to mind his family.
And it grieved him more than anything he ever could
have imagined, that his duty to his family, and the
strong power of his conscience, so totally forbade him
to come up and see after me. For now his design was to
lead a new life, and be in charity with all men. Many
better men than he had been hanged, he saw no cause to
doubt; but by the grace of God he hoped himself to
cheat the gallows.

There was no further news of moment in this very clever
letter, except that the price of horses' shoes was gone
up again, though already twopence-farthing each; and
that Betty had broken her lover's head with the
stocking full of money; and then in the corner it was
written that the distinguished man of war, and
worshipful scholar, Master Bloxham, was now promoted to
take the tolls, and catch all the rebels around our

Lorna was greatly pleased with the goose, and the
butter, and the brandied cherries; and the Earl Brandir
himself declared that he never tasted better than those
last, and would beg the young man from the country to
procure him instructions for making them. This
nobleman, being as deaf as a post, and of a very solid
mind, could never be brought to understand the nature
of my thoughts towards Lorna. He looked upon me as an
excellent youth, who had rescued the maiden from the
Doones, whom he cordially detested; and learning that I
had thrown two of them out of window (as the story was
told him), he patted me on the back, and declared that
his doors would ever be open to me, and that I could
not come too often.

I thought this very kind of his lordship, especially as
it enabled me to see my darling Lorna, not indeed as
often as I wished, but at any rate very frequently, and
as many times as modesty (ever my leading principle)
would in common conscience approve of. And I made up
my mind that if ever I could help Earl Brandir, it
would be--as we say, when with brandy and water--the
'proudest moment of my life,' when I could fulfil the

And I soon was able to help Lord Brandir, as I think,
in two different ways; first of all as regarded his
mind, and then as concerned his body: and the latter
perhaps was the greatest service, at his time of life.
But not to be too nice about that; let me tell how
these things were.

Lorna said to me one day, being in a state of
excitement--whereto she was over prone, when reft of my
slowness to steady her,--

'I will tell him, John; I must tell him, John. It is
mean of me to conceal it.'

I thought that she meant all about our love, which we
had endeavoured thrice to drill into his fine old ears;
but could not make him comprehend, without risk of
bringing the house down: and so I said, 'By all means;
darling; have another try at it.'

Lorna, however, looked at me--for her eyes told more
than tongue--as much as to say, 'Well, you are a
stupid. We agreed to let that subject rest.' And then
she saw that I was vexed at my own want of quickness;
and so she spoke very kindly,--

'I meant about his poor son, dearest; the son of his
old age almost; whose loss threw him into that dreadful
cold--for he went, without hat, to look for him--which
ended in his losing the use of his dear old ears. I
believe if we could only get him to Plover's Barrows
for a month, he would be able to hear again. And look
at his age! he is not much over seventy, John, you
know; and I hope that you will be able to hear me, long
after you are seventy, John.'

'Well,' said I, 'God settles that. Or at any rate, He
leaves us time to think about those questions, when we
are over fifty. Now let me know what you want, Lorna.
The idea of my being seventy! But you would still be

'To the one who loves me,' she answered, trying to make
wrinkles in her pure bright forehead: 'but if you will
have common sense, as you always will, John, whether I
wish it or otherwise--I want to know whether I am
bound, in honour, and in conscience, to tell my dear
and good old uncle what I know about his son?'

'First let me understand quite clearly,' said I, never
being in a hurry, except when passion moves me, 'what
his lordship thinks at present; and how far his mind is
urged with sorrow and anxiety.' This was not the first
time we had spoken of the matter.

'Why, you know, John, well enough,' she answered,
wondering at my coolness, 'that my poor uncle stlll
believes that his one beloved son will come to light
and live again. He has made all arrangements
accordingly: all his property is settled on that
supposition. He knows that young Alan always was what
he calls a "feckless ne'er-do-weel;" but he loves him
all the more for that. He cannot believe that he will
die, without his son coming back to him; and he always
has a bedroom ready, and a bottle of Alan's favourite
wine cool from out the cellar; he has made me work him
a pair of slippers from the size of a mouldy boot; and
if he hears of a new tobacco--much as he hates the
smell of it--he will go to the other end of London to
get some for Alan. Now you know how deaf he is; but if
any one say, "Alan," even in the place outside the
door, he will make his courteous bow to the very
highest visitor, and be out there in a moment, and
search the entire passage, and yet let no one know it.'

'It is a piteous thing,' I said; for Lorna's eyes were
full of tears.

'And he means me to marry him. It is the pet scheme of
his life. I am to grow more beautiful, and more
highly taught, and graceful; until it pleases Alan to
come back, and demand me. Can you understand this
matter, John? Or do you think my uncle mad?'

'Lorna, I should be mad myself, to call any other man
mad, for hoping.'

'Then will you tell me what to do? It makes me very
sorrowful. For I know that Alan Brandir lies below
the sod in Doone-valley.'

'And if you tell his father,' I answered softly, but
clearly, 'in a few weeks he will lie below the sod in
London; at least if there is any.'

'Perhaps you are right, John,' she replied: 'to lose
hope must be a dreadful thing, when one is turned of
seventy. Therefore I will never tell him.'

The other way in which I managed to help the good Earl
Brandir was of less true moment to him; but as he could
not know of the first, this was the one which moved
him. And it happened pretty much as follows--though I
hardly like to tell, because it advanced me to such a
height as I myself was giddy at; and which all my
friends resented greatly (save those of my own family),
and even now are sometimes bitter, in spite of all my
humility. Now this is a matter of history, because the
King was concerned in it; and being so strongly
misunderstood, (especially in my own neighbourhood, I
will overcome so far as I can) my diffidence in telling

The good Earl Brandir was a man of the noblest charity.
True charity begins at home, and so did his; and was
afraid of losing the way, if it went abroad. So this
good nobleman kept his money in a handsome pewter box,
with his coat of arms upon it, and a double lid and
locks. Moreover, there was a heavy chain, fixed to a
staple in the wall, so that none might carry off the
pewter with the gold inside of it. Lorna told me the
box was full, for she had seen him go to it, and she
often thought that it would be nice for us to begin the
world with. I told her that she must not allow her
mind to dwell upon things of this sort; being wholly
against the last commandment set up in our church at

Now one evening towards September, when the days were
drawing in, looking back at the house to see whether
Lorna were looking after me, I espied (by a little
glimpse, as it were) a pair of villainous fellows
(about whom there could be no mistake) watching from
the thicket-corner, some hundred yards or so behind the
good Earl's dwelling. 'There is mischief afoot,'
thought I to myself, being thoroughly conversant with
theft, from my knowledge of the Doones; 'how will be
the moon to-night, and when may we expect the watch?'

I found that neither moon nor watch could be looked for
until the morning; the moon, of course, before the
watch, and more likely to be punctual. Therefore I
resolved to wait, and see what those two villains did,
and save (if it were possible) the Earl of Brandir's
pewter box. But inasmuch as those bad men were almost
sure to have seen me leaving the house and looking
back, and striking out on the London road, I marched
along at a merry pace, until they could not discern me;
and then I fetched a compass round, and refreshed
myself at a certain inn, entitled The Cross-bones and

Here I remained until it was very nearly as dark as
pitch; and the house being full of footpads and
cutthroats, I thought it right to leave them. One or
two came after me, in the hope of designing a
stratagem; but I dropped them in the darkness; and
knowing all the neighbourhood well, I took up my
position, two hours before midnight, among the shrubs
at the eastern end of Lord Brandir's mansion. Hence,
although I might not see, I could scarcely fail to
hear, if any unlawful entrance either at back or front
were made.

From my own observation, I thought it likely that the
attack would he in the rear; and so indeed it came to
pass. For when all the lights were quenched, and all
the house was quiet, I heard a low and wily whistle
from a clump of trees close by; and then three figures
passed between me and a whitewashed wall, and came to a
window which opened into a part of the servants'
basement. This window was carefully raised by some one
inside the house; and after a little whispering, and
something which sounded like a kiss, all the three men

'Oh, you villains!' I said to myself, 'this is worse
than any Doone job; because there is treachery in it.'
But without waiting to consider the subject from a
moral point of view, I crept along the wall, and
entered very quietly after them; being rather uneasy
about my life, because I bore no fire-arms, and had
nothing more than my holly staff, for even a violent

To me this was matter of deep regret, as I followed
these vile men inward. Nevertheless I was resolved
that my Lorna should not be robbed again. Through us
(or at least through our Annie) she had lost that
brilliant necklace; which then was her only birthright:
therefore it behoved me doubly, to preserve the pewter
box; which must belong to her in the end, unless the
thieves got hold of it.

I went along very delicately (as a man who has learned
to wrestle can do, although he may weigh twenty stone),
following carefully the light, brought by the
traitorous maid, and shaking in her loose dishonest
hand. I saw her lead the men into a little place
called a pantry; and there she gave them cordials, and
I could hear them boasting.

Not to be too long over it--which they were much
inclined to be--I followed them from this
drinking-bout, by the aid of the light they bore, as
far as Earl Brandir's bedroom, which I knew, because
Lorna had shown it to me that I might admire the
tapestry. But I had said that no horse could ever be
shod as the horses were shod therein, unless he had the
foot of a frog, as well as a frog to his foot. And
Lorna had been vexed at this (as taste and high art
always are, at any small accurate knowledge), and so
she had brought me out again, before I had time to
admire things.

Now, keeping well away in the dark, yet nearer than was
necessary to my own dear Lorna's room, I saw these
fellows try the door of the good Earl Brandir, knowing
from the maid, of course, that his lordship could hear
nothing, except the name of Alan. They tried the lock,
and pushed at it, and even set their knees upright; but
a Scottish nobleman may be trusted to secure his door
at night. So they were forced to break it open; and
at this the guilty maid, or woman, ran away. These
three rogues--for rogues they were, and no charity may
deny it--burst into Earl Brandir's room, with a light,
and a crowbar, and fire-arms. I thought to myself that
this was hard upon an honest nobleman; and if further
mischief could be saved, I would try to save it.

When I came to the door of the room, being myself in
shadow, I beheld two bad men trying vainly to break
open the pewter box, and the third with a pistol-muzzle
laid to the night-cap of his lordship. With foul face
and yet fouler words, this man was demanding the key of
the box, which the other men could by no means open,
neither drag it from the chain.

'I tell you,' said this aged Earl, beginning to
understand at last what these rogues were up for; 'I
will give no key to you. It all belongs to my boy,
Alan. No one else shall have a farthing.'

'Then you may count your moments, lord. The key is in
your old cramped hand. One, two, and at three, I shoot

I saw that the old man was abroad; not with fear, but
with great wonder, and the regrets of deafness. And I
saw that rather would he be shot than let these men go
rob his son, buried now, or laid to bleach in the
tangles of the wood, three, or it might be four years
agone, but still alive to his father. Hereupon my
heart was moved; and I resolved to interfere. The
thief with the pistol began to count, as I crossed the
floor very quietly, while the old Earl fearfully gazed
at the muzzle, but clenched still tighter his wrinkled
hand. The villain, with hair all over his eyes, and
the great horse-pistol levelled, cried 'three,' and
pulled the trigger; but luckily, at that very moment, I
struck up the barrel with my staff, so that the shot
pierced the tester, and then with a spin and a thwack I
brought the good holly down upon the rascal's head, in
a manner which stretched him upon the floor.

Meanwhile the other two robbers had taken the alarm,
and rushed at me, one with a pistol and one with a
hanger; which forced me to be very lively. Fearing the
pistol most, I flung the heavy velvet curtain of the
bed across, that he might not see where to aim at me,
and then stooping very quickly I caught up the
senseless robber, and set him up for a shield and
target; whereupon he was shot immediately, without
having the pain of knowing it; and a happy thing it was
for him. Now the other two were at my mercy, being men
below the average strength; and no hanger, except in
most skilful hands, as well as firm and strong ones,
has any chance to a powerful man armed with a stout
cudgel, and thoroughly practised in single-stick.

So I took these two rogues, and bound them together;
and leaving them under charge of the butler (a worthy
and shrewd Scotchman), I myself went in search of the
constables, whom, after some few hours, I found;
neither were they so drunk but what they could take
roped men to prison. In the morning, these two men
were brought before the Justices of the Peace: and now
my wonderful luck appeared; for the merit of having
defeated, and caught them, would never have raised me
one step in the State, or in public consideration, if
they had only been common robbers, or even notorious
murderers. But when these fellows were recognised, by
some one in the court, as Protestant witnesses out of
employment, companions and understrappers to Oates, and
Bedloe, and Carstairs, and hand in glove with
Dangerfield, Turberville; and Dugdale--in a word, the
very men against whom His Majesty the King bore the
bitterest rancour, but whom he had hitherto failed to
catch--when this was laid before the public (with
emphasis and admiration), at least a dozen men came up,
whom I had never seen before, and prayed me to accept
their congratulations, and to be sure to remember them;
for all were of neglected merit, and required no more
than a piece of luck.

I answered them very modestly, and each according to
his worth, as stated by himself, who of course could
judge the best. The magistrate made me many
compliments, ten times more than I deserved, and took
good care to have them copied, that His Majesty might
see them. And ere the case was thoroughly heard, and
those poor fellows were committed, more than a score of
generous men had offered to lend me a hundred pounds,
wherewith to buy a new Court suit, when called before
His Majesty.

Now this may seem very strange to us who live in a
better and purer age--or say at least that we do
so--and yet who are we to condemn our fathers for
teaching us better manners, and at their own expense?
With these points any virtuous man is bound to deal
quite tenderly, making allowance for corruption, and
not being too sure of himself. And to tell the truth,
although I had seen so little of the world as yet, that
which astonished me in the matter, was not so much that
they paid me court, as that they found out so soon the
expediency of doing it.

In the course of that same afternoon I was sent for by
His Majesty. He had summoned first the good Earl
Brandir, and received the tale from him, not without
exaggeration, although my lord was a Scotchman. But
the chief thing His Majesty cared to know was that,
beyond all possible doubt, these were the very precious
fellows from perjury turned to robbery.

Being fully assured at last of this, His Majesty had
rubbed his hands, and ordered the boots of a stricter
pattern (which he himself had invented) to be brought
at once, that he might have them in the best possible
order. And he oiled them himself, and expressed his
fear that there was no man in London quite competent to
work them. Nevertheless he would try one or two,
rather than wait for his pleasure, till the torturer
came from Edinburgh.

The next thing be did was to send for me; and in great
alarm and flurry I put on my best clothes, and hired a
fashionable hairdresser, and drank half a gallon of
ale, because both my hands were shaking. Then forth I
set, with my holly staff, wishing myself well out of
it. I was shown at once, and before I desired it, into
His Majesty's presence, and there I stood most humbly,
and made the best bow I could think of.

As I could not advance any farther--for I saw that the
Queen was present, which frightened me tenfold--His
Majesty, in the most gracious manner, came down the
room to encourage me. And as I remained with my head
bent down, he told me to stand up, and look at him.

'I have seen thee before, young man, he said; 'thy form
is not one to be forgotten. Where was it? Thou art
most likely to know.'

'May it please Your Most Gracious Majesty the King,' I
answered, finding my voice in a manner which surprised
myself; 'it was in the Royal Chapel.'

Now I meant no harm whatever by this. I ought to have
said the 'Ante-chapel,' but I could not remember the
word, and feared to keep the King looking at me.

'I am well-pleased,' said His Majesty, with a smile
which almost made his dark and stubborn face look
pleasant, 'to find that our greatest subject, greatest
I mean in the bodily form, is also a good Catholic.
Thou needest not say otherwise. The time shall be, and
that right soon, when men shall be proud of the one
true faith.' Here he stopped, having gone rather far!
but the gleam of his heavy eyes was such that I durst
not contradict.

'This is that great Johann Reed,' said Her Majesty,
coming forward, because the King was in meditation;
'for whom I have so much heard, from the dear, dear
Lorna. Ah, she is not of this black countree, she is
of the breet Italie.'

I have tried to write it, as she said it: but it wants
a better scholar to express her mode of speech.

'Now, John Ridd,' said the King, recovering from his
thoughts about the true Church, and thinking that his
wife was not to take the lead upon me; 'thou hast done
great service to the realm, and to religion. It was
good to save Earl Brandir, a loyal and Catholic
nobleman; but it was great service to catch two of the
vilest bloodhounds ever laid on by heretics. And to
make them shoot one another: it was rare; it was rare,
my lad. Now ask us anything in reason; thou canst
carry any honours, on thy club, like Hercules. What is
thy chief ambition, lad?'

'Well,' said I, after thinking a little, and meaning to
make the most of it, for so the Queen's eyes conveyed
to me; 'my mother always used to think that having been
schooled at Tiverton, with thirty marks a year to pay,
I was worthy of a coat of arms. And that is what she
longs for.'

'A good lad! A very good lad,' said the King, and he
looked at the Queen, as if almost in joke; 'but what is
thy condition in life?'

'I am a freeholder,' I answered, in my confusion, 'ever
since the time of King Alfred. A Ridd was with him in
the isle of Athelney, and we hold our farm by gift from
him; or at least people say so. We have had three
very good harvests running, and might support a coat of
arms; but for myself I want it not.'

'Thou shalt have a coat, my lad,' said the King,
smiling at his own humour; 'but it must be a large one
to fit thee. And more than that shalt thou have, John
Ridd, being of such loyal breed, and having done such

And while I wondered what he meant, he called to some
of the people in waiting at the farther end of the
room, and they brought him a little sword, such as
Annie would skewer a turkey with. Then he signified
to me to kneel, which I did (after dusting the board,
for the sake of my best breeches), and then he gave me
a little tap very nicely upon my shoulder, before I
knew what he was up to; and said, 'Arise, Sir John

This astonished and amazed me to such extent of loss of
mind, that when I got up I looked about, and thought
what the Snowes would think of it. And I said to the
King, without forms of speech,--

'Sir, I am very much obliged. But what be I to do with



The coat of arms, devised for me by the Royal heralds,
was of great size, and rich colours, and full of bright
imaginings. They did me the honour to consult me
first, and to take no notice of my advice. For I
begged that there might be a good-sized cow on it, so
as to stamp our pats of butter before they went to
market: also a horse on the other side, and a flock
snowed up at the bottom. But the gentlemen would not
hear of this; and to find something more appropriate,
they inquired strictly into the annals of our family.
I told them, of course, all about King Alfred; upon
which they settled that one quarter should be, three
cakes on a bar, with a lion regardant, done upon a
field of gold. Also I told them that very likely there
had been a Ridd in the battle fought, not very far from
Plover's Barrows, by the Earl of Devon against the
Danes, when Hubba their chief was killed, and the
sacred standard taken. As some of the Danes are said
to be buried, even upon land of ours, and we call their
graves (if such they be) even to this day 'barrows,'
the heralds quite agreed with me that a Ridd might have
been there, or thereabouts; and if he was there, he was
almost certain to have done his best, being in sight of
hearth and home; and it was plain that he must have had
good legs to be at the same time both there and in
Athelney; and good legs are an argument for good arms;
and supposing a man of this sort to have done his
utmost (as the manner of the Ridds is), it was next to
certain that he himself must have captured the
standard. Moreover, the name of our farm was pure
proof; a plover being a wild bird, just the same as a
raven is. Upon this chain of reasoning, and without
any weak misgivings, they charged my growing escutcheon
with a black raven on a ground of red. And the next
thing which I mentioned possessing absolute certainty,
to wit, that a pig with two heads had been born upon
our farm, not more than two hundred years agone
(although he died within a week), my third quarter was
made at once, by a two-headed boar with noble tusks,
sable upon silver. All this was very fierce and fine;
and so I pressed for a peaceful corner in the lower
dexter, and obtained a wheat-sheaf set upright, gold
upon a field of green.

Here I was inclined to pause, and admire the effect;
for even De Whichehalse could not show a bearing so
magnificent. But the heralds said that it looked a
mere sign-board, without a good motto under it; and the
motto must have my name in it. They offered me first,
'Ridd non ridendus'; but I said, 'for God's sake,
gentlemen, let me forget my Latin.' Then they proposed,
'Ridd readeth riddles': but I begged them not to set
down such a lie; for no Ridd ever had made, or made
out, such a thing as a riddle, since Exmoor itself
began. Thirdly, they gave me, 'Ridd never be ridden,'
and fearing to make any further objections, I let them
inscribe it in bronze upon blue. The heralds thought
that the King would pay for this noble achievement; but
His Majesty, although graciously pleased with their
ingenuity, declined in the most decided manner to pay a
farthing towards it; and as I had now no money left,
the heralds became as blue as azure, and as red as
gules; until Her Majesty the Queen came forward very
kindly, and said that if His Majesty gave me a coat of
arms, I was not to pay for it; therefore she herself
did so quite handsomely, and felt goodwill towards me
in consequence.

Now being in a hurry--so far at least as it is in my
nature to hurry--to get to the end of this narrative,
is it likely that I would have dwelled so long upon my
coat of arms, but for some good reason? And this good
reason is that Lorna took the greatest pride in it, and
thought (or at any rate said) that it quite threw into
the shade, and eclipsed, all her own ancient glories.
And half in fun, and half in earnest, she called me
'Sir John' so continually, that at last I was almost
angry with her; until her eyes were bedewed with tears;
and then I was angry with myself.

Beginning to be short of money, and growing anxious
about the farm, longing also to show myself and my
noble escutcheon to mother, I took advantage of Lady
Lorna's interest with the Queen, to obtain my
acquittance and full discharge from even nominal
custody. It had been intended to keep me in waiting,
until the return of Lord Jeffreys, from that awful
circuit of shambles, through which his name is still
used by mothers to frighten their children into bed.
And right glad was I--for even London shrank with
horror at the news--to escape a man so bloodthirsty,
savage, and even to his friends (among whom I was
reckoned) malignant.

Earl Brandir was greatly pleased with me, not only for
having saved his life, but for saving that which he
valued more, the wealth laid by for Lord Alan. And he
introduced me to many great people, who quite kindly
encouraged me, and promised to help me in every way
when they heard how the King had spoken. As for the
furrier, he could never have enough of my society; and
this worthy man, praying my commendation, demanded of
me one thing only--to speak of him as I found him. As
I had found him many a Sunday, furbishing up old furs
for new, with a glaze to conceal the moths' ravages, I
begged him to reconsider the point, and not to demand
such accuracy. He said, 'Well, well; all trades had
tricks, especially the trick of business; and I must
take him--if I were his true friend--according to his
own description.' This I was glad enough to do; because
it saved so much trouble, and I had no money to spend
with him. But still he requested the use of my name;
and I begged him to do the best with it, as I never had
kept a banker. And the 'John Ridd cuffs,' and the 'Sir
John mantles,' and the 'Holly-staff capes,' he put into
his window, as the winter was coming on, ay and sold
(for everybody was burning with gossip about me), must
have made this good man's fortune; since the excess of
price over value is the true test of success in life.

To come away from all this stuff, which grieves a man
in London--when the brisk air of the autumn cleared
its way to Ludgate Hill, and clever 'prentices ran out,
and sniffed at it, and fed upon it (having little else
to eat); and when the horses from the country were a
goodly sight to see, with the rasp of winter bristles
rising through and among the soft summer-coat; and when
the new straw began to come in, golden with the harvest
gloss, and smelling most divinely at those strange
livery-stables, where the nags are put quite tail to
tail; and when all the London folk themselves are
asking about white frost (from recollections of
childhood); then, I say, such a yearning seized me for
moory crag, and for dewy blade, and even the grunting
of our sheep (when the sun goes down), that nothing but
the new wisps of Samson could have held me in London

Lorna was moved with equal longing towards the country
and country ways; and she spoke quite as much of the
glistening dew as she did of the smell of our oven.
And here let me mention--although the two are quite
distinct and different--that both the dew and the bread
of Exmoor may be sought, whether high or low, but never
found elsewhere. The dew is so crisp, and pure, and
pearly, and in such abundance; and the bread is so
sweet, so kind, and homely, you can eat a loaf, and
then another.

Now while I was walking daily in and out great crowds
of men (few of whom had any freedom from the cares of
money, and many of whom were even morbid with a worse
pest called 'politics'), I could not be quit of
thinking how we jostle one another. God has made the
earth quite large, with a spread of land large enough
for all to live on, without fighting. Also a mighty
spread of water, laying hands on sand and cliff with a
solemn voice in storm-time; and in the gentle weather
moving men to thoughts of equity. This, as well, is
full of food; being two-thirds of the world, and
reserved for devouring knowledge; by the time the sons
of men have fed away the dry land. Yet before the land
itself has acknowledged touch of man, upon one in a
hundred acres; and before one mile in ten thousand of
the exhaustless ocean has ever felt the plunge of hook,
or combing of the haul-nets; lo, we crawl, in flocks
together upon the hot ground that stings us, even as
the black grubs crowd upon the harried nettle! Surely
we are too much given to follow the tracks of each

However, for a moralist, I never set up, and never
shall, while common sense abides with me. Such a man
must be very wretched in this pure dearth of morality;
like a fisherman where no fish be; and most of us have
enough to do to attend to our own morals. Enough that
I resolved to go; and as Lorna could not come with me,
it was even worse than stopping. Nearly everybody
vowed that I was a great fool indeed, to neglect so
rudely--which was the proper word, they said--the
pushing of my fortunes. But I answered that to push
was rude, and I left it to people who had no room; and
thought that my fortune must be heavy, if it would not
move without pushing.

Lorna cried when I came away (which gave me great
satisfaction), and she sent a whole trunkful of things
for mother and Annie, and even Lizzie. And she seemed
to think, though she said it not, that I made my own
occasion for going, and might have stayed on till the
winter. Whereas I knew well that my mother would think
(and every one on the farm the same) that here I had
been in London, lagging, and taking my pleasure, and
looking at shops, upon pretence of King's business, and
leaving the harvest to reap itself, not to mention the
spending of money; while all the time there was nothing
whatever, except my own love of adventure and sport, to
keep me from coming home again. But I knew that my
coat of arms, and title, would turn every bit of this
grumbling into fine admiration.

And so it fell out, to a greater extent than even I
desired; for all the parishes round about united in a
sumptuous dinner, at the Mother Melldrum inn--for now
that good lady was dead, and her name and face set on a
sign-post--to which I was invited, so that it was as
good as a summons. And if my health was no better next
day, it was not from want of good wishes, any more than
from stint of the liquor.

It is needless to say that the real gentry for a long
time treated my new honours with contempt and ridicule;
but gradually as they found that I was not such a fool
as to claim any equality with them, but went about my
farm-work, and threw another man at wrestling, and
touched my hat to the magistrates, just the same as
ever; some gentlemen of the highest blood--of which we
think a great deal more than of gold, around our
neighbourhood--actually expressed a desire to make my
acquaintance. And when, in a manner quite
straightforward, and wholly free from bitterness, I
thanked them for this (which appeared to me the highest
honour yet offered me), but declined to go into their
company because it would make me uncomfortable, and
themselves as well, in a different way, they did what
nearly all Englishmen do, when a thing is right and
sensible. They shook hands with me; and said that they
could not deny but that there was reason in my view of
the matter. And although they themselves must be the
losers--which was a handsome thing to say--they would
wait until I was a little older and more aware of my
own value.

Now this reminds me how it is that an English gentleman
is so far in front of foreign noblemen and princes. I
have seen at times, a little, both of one and of the
other, and making more than due allowance for the
difficulties of language, and the difference of
training, upon the whole, the balance is in favour of
our people. And this, because we have two weights,
solid and (even in scale of manners) outweighing all
light complaisance; to wit, the inborn love of justice,
and the power of abiding.

Yet some people may be surprised that men with any love
of justice, whether inborn or otherwise, could continue
to abide the arrogance, and rapacity, and tyranny of
the Doones.

For now as the winter passed, the Doones were not
keeping themselves at home, as in honour they were
bound to do. Twenty sheep a week, and one fat ox, and
two stout red deer (for wholesome change of diet), as
well as threescore bushels of flour, and two hogsheads
and a half of cider, and a hundredweight of candles,
not to mention other things of almost every variety
which they got by insisting upon it--surely these might
have sufficed to keep the people in their place, with
no outburst of wantonness. Nevertheless, it was not
so; they had made complaint about something--too much
ewe-mutton, I think it was--and in spite of all the
pledges given, they had ridden forth, and carried away
two maidens of our neighbourhood.

Now these two maidens were known, because they had
served the beer at an ale-house; and many men who had
looked at them, over a pint or quart vessel (especially
as they were comely girls), thought that it was very
hard for them to go in that way, and perhaps themselves
unwilling. And their mother (although she had taken
some money, which the Doones were always full of)
declared that it was a robbery; and though it increased
for a while the custom, that must soon fall off again.
And who would have her two girls now, clever as they
were and good?

Before we had finished meditating upon this loose
outrage--for so I at least would call it, though people
accustomed to the law may take a different view of
it--we had news of a thing far worse, which turned the
hearts of our women sick. This I will tell in most
careful language, so as to give offence to none, if
skill of words may help it. *

*The following story is strictly true; and true it is
that the country-people rose, to a man, at this dastard
cruelty, and did what the Government failed to do.--Ed.

Mistress Margery Badcock, a healthy and upright young
woman, with a good rich colour, and one of the finest
hen-roosts anywhere round our neighbourhood, was
nursing her child about six of the clock, and looking
out for her husband. Now this child was too old to be
nursed, as everybody told her; for he could run, say
two yards alone, and perhaps four or five, by holding
to handles. And he had a way of looking round, and
spreading his legs, and laughing, with his brave little
body well fetched up, after a desperate journey to the
end of the table, which his mother said nothing could
equal. Nevertheless, he would come to be nursed, as
regular as a clock, almost; and, inasmuch as he was the
first, both father and mother made much of him; for God
only knew whether they could ever compass such another

Christopher Badcock was a tenant farmer, in the parish
of Martinhoe, renting some fifty acres of land, with a
right of common attached to them; and at this
particular time, being now the month of February, and
fine open weather, he was hard at work ploughing and
preparing for spring corn. Therefore his wife was not
surprised although the dusk was falling, that farmer
Christopher should be at work in 'blind man's holiday,'
as we call it.

But she was surprised, nay astonished, when by the
light of the kitchen fire (brightened up for her
husband), she saw six or seven great armed men burst
into the room upon her; and she screamed so that the
maid in the back kitchen heard her, but was afraid to
come to help. Two of the strongest and fiercest men at
once seized poor young Margery; and though she fought
for her child and home, she was but an infant herself
in their hands. In spite of tears, and shrieks, and
struggles, they tore the babe from the mother's arms,
and cast it on the lime ash floor; then they bore her
away to their horses (for by this time she was
senseless), and telling the others to sack the house,
rode off with their prize to the valley. And from the
description of one of those two, who carried off the
poor woman, I knew beyond all doubt that it was Carver
Doone himself.

The other Doones being left behind, and grieved perhaps
in some respects, set to with a will to scour the
house, and to bring away all that was good to eat. And
being a little vexed herein (for the Badcocks were not
a rich couple) and finding no more than bacon, and
eggs, and cheese, and little items, and nothing to
drink but water; in a word, their taste being offended,
they came back, to the kitchen, and stamped; and there
was the baby lying.

By evil luck, this child began to squeal about his
mother, having been petted hitherto, and wont to get
all he wanted, by raising his voice but a little. Now
the mark of the floor was upon his head, as the maid
(who had stolen to look at him, when the rough men were
swearing upstairs) gave evidence. And she put a dish-
cloth under his head, and kissed him, and ran away
again. Her name was Honour Jose, and she meant what
was right by her master and mistress; but could not
help being frightened. And many women have blamed her,
as I think unduly, for her mode of forsaking baby so.
If it had been her own baby, instinct rather than
reason might have had the day with her; but the child
being born of her mistress, she wished him good luck,
and left him, as the fierce men came downstairs. And
being alarmed by their power of language (because they
had found no silver), she crept away in a breathless
hurry, and afraid how her breath might come back to
her. For oftentime she had hiccoughs.

While this good maid was in the oven, by side of
back-kitchen fireplace, with a faggot of wood drawn
over her, and lying so that her own heart beat worse
than if she were baking; the men (as I said before)
came downstairs, and stamped around the baby.

'Rowland, is the bacon good?' one of them asked with an
oath or two; 'it is too bad of Carver to go off with
the only prize, and leave us in a starving cottage; and
not enough to eat for two of us. Fetch down the staves
of the rack, my boy. What was farmer to have for

'Naught but an onion or two, and a loaf and a rasher of
rusty bacon. These poor devils live so badly, they are
not worth robbing.'

'No game! Then let us have a game of loriot with the
baby! It will be the best thing that could befall a
lusty infant heretic. Ride a cock-horse to Banbury
Cross. Bye, bye, baby Bunting; toss him up, and let me
see if my wrist be steady.'

The cruelty of this man is a thing it makes me sick to
speak of; enough that when the poor baby fell (without
attempt at cry or scream, thinking it part of his usual
play, when they tossed him up, to come down again), the
maid in the oven of the back-kitchen, not being any
door between, heard them say as follows,--

'If any man asketh who killed thee,
Say 'twas the Doones of Bagworthy.' *

* Always pronounced 'Badgery.'

Now I think that when we heard this story, and poor Kit
Badcock came all around, in a sort of half-crazy
manner, not looking up at any one, but dropping his
eyes, and asking whether we thought he had been
well-treated, and seeming void of regard for life, if
this were all the style of it; then having known him a
lusty man, and a fine singer in an ale-house, and much
inclined to lay down the law, as show a high hand about
women, I really think that it moved us more than if he
had gone about ranting, and raving, and vowing revenge
upon every one.



There had been some trouble in our own home during the
previous autumn, while yet I was in London. For
certain noted fugitives from the army of King Monmouth
(which he himself had deserted, in a low and currish
manner), having failed to obtain free shipment from the
coast near Watersmouth, had returned into the wilds of
Exmoor, trusting to lurk, and be comforted among the
common people. Neither were they disappointed, for a
certain length of time; nor in the end was their
disappointment caused by fault on our part. Major Wade
was one of them; an active and well-meaning man; but
prone to fail in courage, upon lasting trial; although
in a moment ready. Squire John Whichehalse (not the
baron) and Parson Powell* caught him (two or three
months before my return) in Farley farmhouse, near
Brendon. He had been up at our house several times;
and Lizzie thought a great deal of him. And well I
know that if at that time I had been in the
neighbourhood, he should not have been taken so easily.

* Not our parson Bowden, nor any more a friend of his.
Our Parson Bowden never had naught whatever to do with
it; and never smoked a pipe with Parson Powell after

John Birch, the farmer who had sheltered him, was so
fearful of punishment, that he hanged himself, in a few
days' time, and even before he was apprehended. But
nothing was done to Grace Howe, of Bridgeball, who had
been Wade's greatest comforter; neither was anything
done to us; although Eliza had added greatly to
mother's alarm and danger by falling upon Rector
Powell, and most soundly rating him for his meanness,
and his cruelty, and cowardice, as she called it, in
setting men with firearms upon a poor helpless
fugitive, and robbing all our neighbourhood of its fame
for hospitality. However, by means of Sergeant
Bloxham, and his good report of us, as well as by
virtue of Wade's confession (which proved of use to the
Government) my mother escaped all penalties.

It is likely enough that good folk will think it hard
upon our neighbourhood to be threatened, and sometimes
heavily punished, for kindness and humanity; and yet to
be left to help ourselves against tyranny, and base
rapine. And now at last our gorge was risen, and our
hearts in tumult. We had borne our troubles long, as a
wise and wholesome chastisement; quite content to have
some few things of our own unmeddled with. But what
could a man dare to call his own, or what right could
he have to wish for it, while he left his wife and
children at the pleasure of any stranger?

The people came flocking all around me, at the
blacksmith's forge, and the Brendon alehouse; and I
could scarce come out of church, but they got me among
the tombstones. They all agreed that I was bound to
take command and management. I bade them go to the
magistrates, but they said they had been too often.
Then I told them that I had no wits for ordering of an
armament, although I could find fault enough with the
one which had not succeeded. But they would hearken to
none of this.

All they said was 'Try to lead us; and we will try not
to run away.'

This seemed to me to be common sense, and good stuff,
instead of mere bragging; moreover, I myself was moved
by the bitter wrongs of Margery, having known her at
the Sunday-school, ere ever I went to Tiverton; and
having in those days, serious thoughts of making her my
sweetheart; although she was three years my elder. But
now I felt this difficulty--the Doones had behaved very
well to our farm, and to mother, and all of us, while I
was away in London. Therefore, would it not be
shabby, and mean, for me to attack them now?

Yet being pressed still harder and harder, as day by
day the excitement grew (with more and more talking
over it, and no one else coming forward to undertake
the business, I agreed at last to this; that if the
Doones, upon fair challenge, would not endeavour to
make amends by giving up Mistress Margery, as well as
the man who had slain the babe, then I would lead the
expedition, and do my best to subdue them. All our men
were content with this, being thoroughly well assured
from experience, that the haughty robbers would only
shoot any man who durst approach them with such

And then arose a difficult question--who was to take
the risk of making overtures so unpleasant? I waited
for the rest to offer; and as none was ready, the
burden fell on me, and seemed to be of my own inviting.
Hence I undertook the task, sooner than reason about
it; for to give the cause of everything is worse than
to go through with it.

It may have been three of the afternoon, when leaving
my witnesses behind (for they preferred the background)
I appeared with our Lizzie's white handkerchief upon a
kidney-bean stick, at the entrance to the robbers'
dwelling. Scarce knowing what might come of it, I had
taken the wise precaution of fastening a Bible over my
heart, and another across my spinal column, in case of
having to run away, with rude men shooting after me.
For my mother said that the Word of God would stop a
two-inch bullet, with three ounces of powder behind it.
Now I took no weapons, save those of the Spirit, for
fear of being misunderstood. But I could not bring
myself to think that any of honourable birth would take
advantage of an unarmed man coming in guise of peace to

And this conclusion of mine held good, at least for a
certain length of time; inasmuch as two decent Doones
appeared, and hearing of my purpose, offered, without
violence, to go and fetch the Captain; if I would stop
where I was, and not begin to spy about anything. To
this, of course, I agreed at once; for I wanted no more
spying, because I had thorough knowledge of all ins and

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