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

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let him stick one in the ground, and take his bow and
arrow at it, ten yards away, or even five.

Now, after all this which I have written, and all the
rest which a reader will see, being quicker of mind
than I am (who leave more than half behind me, like a
man sowing wheat, with his dinner laid in the ditch too
near his dog), it is much but what you will understand
the Doones far better than I did, or do even to this
moment; and therefore none will doubt when I tell them
that our good justiciaries feared to make an ado, or
hold any public inquiry about my dear father's death.
They would all have had to ride home that night, and
who could say what might betide them. Least said
soonest mended, because less chance of breaking.

So we buried him quietly--all except my mother, indeed,
for she could not keep silence--in the sloping little
churchyard of Oare, as meek a place as need be, with
the Lynn brook down below it. There is not much of
company there for anybody's tombstone, because the
parish spreads so far in woods and moors without
dwelling-house. If we bury one man in three years, or
even a woman or child, we talk about it for three
months, and say it must be our turn next, and scarcely
grow accustomed to it until another goes.

Annie was not allowed to come, because she cried so
terribly; but she ran to the window, and saw it all,
mooing there like a little calf, so frightened and so
left alone. As for Eliza, she came with me, one on
each side of mother, and not a tear was in her eyes,
but sudden starts of wonder, and a new thing to be
looked at unwillingly, yet curiously. Poor little
thing! she was very clever, the only one of our
family--thank God for the same--but none the more for
that guessed she what it is to lose a father.



About the rest of all that winter I remember very
little, being only a young boy then, and missing my
father most out of doors, as when it came to the
bird-catching, or the tracking of hares in the snow, or
the training of a sheep-dog. Oftentimes I looked at
his gun, an ancient piece found in the sea, a little
below Glenthorne, and of which he was mighty proud,
although it was only a match-lock; and I thought of the
times I had held the fuse, while he got his aim at a
rabbit, and once even at a red deer rubbing among the
hazels. But nothing came of my looking at it, so far
as I remember, save foolish tears of my own perhaps,
till John Fry took it down one day from the hooks where
father's hand had laid it; and it hurt me to see how
John handled it, as if he had no memory.

'Bad job for he as her had not got thiccy the naight as
her coom acrass them Doones. Rackon Varmer Jan 'ood
a-zhown them the wai to kingdom come, 'stead of gooin'
herzel zo aisy. And a maight have been gooin' to
market now, 'stead of laying banked up over yanner.
Maister Jan, thee can zee the grave if thee look alang
this here goon-barryel. Buy now, whutt be blubberin'
at? Wish I had never told thee.'

'John Fry, I am not blubbering; you make a great
mistake, John. You are thinking of little Annie. I
cough sometimes in the winter-weather, and father gives
me lickerish--I mean--I mean--he used to. Now let me
have the gun, John.'

'Thee have the goon, Jan! Thee isn't fit to putt un to
thy zhoulder. What a weight her be, for sure!'

'Me not hold it, John! That shows how much you know
about it. Get out of the way, John; you are opposite
the mouth of it, and likely it is loaded.'

John Fry jumped in a livelier manner than when he was
doing day-work; and I rested the mouth on a cross
rack-piece, and felt a warm sort of surety that I could
hit the door over opposite, or, at least, the cobwall
alongside of it, and do no harm in the orchard. But
John would not give me link or fuse, and, on the whole,
I was glad of it, though carrying on as boys do,
because I had heard my father say that the Spanish gun
kicked like a horse, and because the load in it came
from his hand, and I did not like to undo it. But I
never found it kick very hard, and firmly set to the
shoulder, unless it was badly loaded. In truth, the
thickness of the metal was enough almost to astonish
one; and what our people said about it may have been
true enough, although most of them are such liars--at
least, I mean, they make mistakes, as all mankind must
do. Perchance it was no mistake at all to say that
this ancient gun had belonged to a noble Spaniard, the
captain of a fine large ship in the 'Invincible
Armada,' which we of England managed to conquer, with
God and the weather helping us, a hundred years ago or
more--I can't say to a month or so.

After a little while, when John had fired away at a rat
the charge I held so sacred, it came to me as a natural
thing to practise shooting with that great gun, instead
of John Fry's blunderbuss, which looked like a bell
with a stalk to it. Perhaps for a boy there is nothing
better than a good windmill to shoot at, as I have seen
them in flat countries; but we have no windmills upon
the great moorland, yet here and there a few
barn-doors, where shelter is, and a way up the hollows.
And up those hollows you can shoot, with the help of
the sides to lead your aim, and there is a fair chance
of hitting the door, if you lay your cheek to the
barrel, and try not to be afraid of it.

Gradually I won such skill, that I sent nearly all the
lead gutter from the north porch of our little church
through our best barn-door, a thing which has often
repented me since, especially as churchwarden, and made
me pardon many bad boys; but father was not buried on
that side of the church.

But all this time, while I was roving over the hills or
about the farm, and even listening to John Fry, my
mother, being so much older and feeling trouble longer,
went about inside the house, or among the maids and
fowls, not caring to talk to the best of them, except
when she broke out sometimes about the good master they
had lost, all and every one of us. But the fowls would
take no notice of it, except to cluck for barley; and
the maidens, though they had liked him well, were
thinking of their sweethearts as the spring came on.
Mother thought it wrong of them, selfish and
ungrateful; and yet sometimes she was proud that none
had such call as herself to grieve for him. Only Annie
seemed to go softly in and out, and cry, with nobody
along of her, chiefly in the corner where the bees are
and the grindstone. But somehow she would never let
anybody behold her; being set, as you may say, to think
it over by herself, and season it with weeping. Many
times I caught her, and many times she turned upon me,
and then I could not look at her, but asked how long to

Now in the depth of the winter month, such as we call
December, father being dead and quiet in his grave a
fortnight, it happened me to be out of powder for
practice against his enemies. I had never fired a shot
without thinking, 'This for father's murderer'; and
John Fry said that I made such faces it was a wonder
the gun went off. But though I could hardly hold the
gun, unless with my back against a bar, it did me good
to hear it go off, and hope to have hitten his enemies.

'Oh, mother, mother,' I said that day, directly after
dinner, while she was sitting looking at me, and almost
ready to say (as now she did seven times in a week),
'How like your father you are growing! Jack, come here
and kiss me'--'oh, mother, if you only knew how much I
want a shilling!'

'Jack, you shall never want a shilling while I am alive
to give thee one. But what is it for, dear heart, dear

'To buy something over at Porlock, mother. Perhaps I
will tell you afterwards. If I tell not it will be for
your good, and for the sake of the children.'

'Bless the boy, one would think he was threescore years
of age at least. Give me a little kiss, you Jack, and
you shall have the shilling.'

For I hated to kiss or be kissed in those days: and so
all honest boys must do, when God puts any strength in
them. But now I wanted the powder so much that I went
and kissed mother very shyly, looking round the corner
first, for Betty not to see me.

But mother gave me half a dozen, and only one shilling
for all of them; and I could not find it in my heart to
ask her for another, although I would have taken it.
In very quick time I ran away with the shilling in my
pocket, and got Peggy out on the Porlock road without
my mother knowing it. For mother was frightened of
that road now, as if all the trees were murderers, and
would never let me go alone so much as a hundred yards
on it. And, to tell the truth, I was touched with fear
for many years about it; and even now, when I ride at
dark there, a man by a peat-rick makes me shiver, until
I go and collar him. But this time I was very bold,
having John Fry's blunderbuss, and keeping a sharp
look-out wherever any lurking place was. However, I
saw only sheep and small red cattle, and the common
deer of the forest, until I was nigh to Porlock town,
and then rode straight to Mr. Pooke's, at the sign of
the Spit and Gridiron.

Mr. Pooke was asleep, as it happened, not having much
to do that day; and so I fastened Peggy by the handle
of a warming-pan, at which she had no better manners
than to snort and blow her breath; and in I walked with
a manful style, bearing John Fry's blunderbuss. Now
Timothy Pooke was a peaceful man, glad to live without
any enjoyment of mind at danger, and I was tall and
large already as most lads of a riper age. Mr. Pooke,
as soon as he opened his eyes, dropped suddenly under
the counting-board, and drew a great frying-pan over
his head, as if the Doones were come to rob him, as
their custom was, mostly after the fair-time. It made
me feel rather hot and queer to be taken for a robber;
and yet methinks I was proud of it.

'Gadzooks, Master Pooke,' said I, having learned fine
words at Tiverton; 'do you suppose that I know not then
the way to carry firearms? An it were the old Spanish
match-lock in the lieu of this good flint-engine, which
may be borne ten miles or more and never once go off,
scarcely couldst thou seem more scared. I might point
at thee muzzle on--just so as I do now--even for an
hour or more, and like enough it would never shoot
thee, unless I pulled the trigger hard, with a crock
upon my finger; so you see; just so, Master Pooke, only
a trifle harder.'

'God sake, John Ridd, God sake, dear boy,' cried Pooke,
knowing me by this time; 'don't 'e, for good love now,
don't 'e show it to me, boy, as if I was to suck it.
Put 'un down, for good, now; and thee shall have the
very best of all is in the shop.'

'Ho!' I replied with much contempt, and swinging round
the gun so that it fetched his hoop of candles down,
all unkindled as they were: 'Ho! as if I had not
attained to the handling of a gun yet! My hands are
cold coming over the moors, else would I go bail to
point the mouth at you for an hour, sir, and no cause
for uneasiness.'

But in spite of all assurances, he showed himself
desirous only to see the last of my gun and me. I dare
say 'villainous saltpetre,' as the great playwright
calls it, was never so cheap before nor since. For my
shilling Master Pooke afforded me two great packages
over-large to go into my pockets, as well as a mighty
chunk of lead, which I bound upon Peggy's withers. And
as if all this had not been enough, he presented me
with a roll of comfits for my sister Annie, whose
gentle face and pretty manners won the love of

There was still some daylight here and there as I rose
the hill above Porlock, wondering whether my mother
would be in a fright, or would not know it. The two
great packages of powder, slung behind my back, knocked
so hard against one another that I feared they must
either spill or blow up, and hurry me over Peggy's ears
from the woollen cloth I rode upon. For father always
liked a horse to have some wool upon his loins whenever
he went far from home, and had to stand about, where
one pleased, hot, and wet, and panting. And father
always said that saddles were meant for men full-grown
and heavy, and losing their activity; and no boy or
young man on our farm durst ever get into a saddle,
because they all knew that the master would chuck them
out pretty quickly. As for me, I had tried it once,
from a kind of curiosity; and I could not walk for two
or three days, the leather galled my knees so. But
now, as Peggy bore me bravely, snorting every now and
then into a cloud of air, for the night was growing
frosty, presently the moon arose over the shoulder of a
hill, and the pony and I were half glad to see her, and
half afraid of the shadows she threw, and the images
all around us. I was ready at any moment to shoot at
anybody, having great faith in my blunderbuss, but
hoping not to prove it. And as I passed the narrow
place where the Doones had killed my father, such a
fear broke out upon me that I leaned upon the neck of
Peggy, and shut my eyes, and was cold all over.
However, there was not a soul to be seen, until we came
home to the old farmyard, and there was my mother
crying sadly, and Betty Muxworthy scolding.

'Come along, now,' I whispered to Annie, the moment
supper was over; 'and if you can hold your tongue,
Annie, I will show you something.'

She lifted herself on the bench so quickly, and flushed
so rich with pleasure, that I was obliged to stare hard
away, and make Betty look beyond us. Betty thought I
had something hid in the closet beyond the clock-case,
and she was the more convinced of it by reason of my
denial. Not that Betty Muxworthy, or any one else, for
that matter, ever found me in a falsehood, because I
never told one, not even to my mother--or, which is
still a stronger thing, not even to my sweetheart (when
I grew up to have one)--but that Betty being wronged in
the matter of marriage, a generation or two agone, by a
man who came hedging and ditching, had now no mercy,
except to believe that men from cradle to grave are
liars, and women fools to look at them.

When Betty could find no crime of mine, she knocked me
out of the way in a minute, as if I had been nobody;
and then she began to coax 'Mistress Annie,' as she
always called her, and draw the soft hair down her
hands, and whisper into the little ears. Meanwhile,
dear mother was falling asleep, having been troubled so
much about me; and Watch, my father's pet dog, was
nodding closer and closer up into her lap.

'Now, Annie, will you come?' I said, for I wanted her
to hold the ladle for melting of the lead; 'will you
come at once, Annie? or must I go for Lizzie, and let
her see the whole of it?'

'Indeed, then, you won't do that,' said Annie; 'Lizzie
to come before me, John; and she can't stir a pot of
brewis, and scarce knows a tongue from a ham, John, and
says it makes no difference, because both are good to
eat! Oh, Betty, what do you think of that to come of
all her book-learning?'

'Thank God he can't say that of me,' Betty answered
shortly, for she never cared about argument, except on
her own side; 'thank he, I says, every marning a'most,
never to lead me astray so. Men is desaving and so is
galanies; but the most desaving of all is books, with
their heads and tails, and the speckots in 'em, lik a
peg as have taken the maisles. Some folk purtends to
laugh and cry over them. God forgive them for liars!'

It was part of Betty's obstinacy that she never would
believe in reading or the possibility of it, but
stoutly maintained to the very last that people first
learned things by heart, and then pretended to make
them out from patterns done upon paper, for the sake of
astonishing honest folk just as do the conjurers. And
even to see the parson and clerk was not enough to
convince her; all she said was, 'It made no odds, they
were all the same as the rest of us.' And now that she
had been on the farm nigh upon forty years, and had
nursed my father, and made his clothes, and all that he
had to eat, and then put him in his coffin, she was
come to such authority, that it was not worth the wages
of the best man on the place to say a word in answer to
Betty, even if he would face the risk to have ten for
one, or twenty.

Annie was her love and joy. For Annie she would do
anything, even so far as to try to smile, when the
little maid laughed and danced to her. And in truth I
know not how it was, but every one was taken with Annie
at the very first time of seeing her. She had such
pretty ways and manners, and such a look of kindness,
and a sweet soft light in her long blue eyes full of
trustful gladness. Everybody who looked at her seemed
to grow the better for it, because she knew no evil.
And then the turn she had for cooking, you never would
have expected it; and how it was her richest mirth to
see that she had pleased you. I have been out on the
world a vast deal as you will own hereafter, and yet
have I never seen Annie's equal for making a weary man



So many a winter night went by in a hopeful and
pleasant manner, with the hissing of the bright round
bullets, cast into the water, and the spluttering of
the great red apples which Annie was roasting for me.
We always managed our evening's work in the chimney of
the back-kitchen, where there was room to set chairs
and table, in spite of the fire burning. On the
right-hand side was a mighty oven, where Betty
threatened to bake us; and on the left, long sides of
bacon, made of favoured pigs, and growing very brown
and comely. Annie knew the names of all, and ran up
through the wood-smoke, every now and then, when a
gentle memory moved her, and asked them how they were
getting on, and when they would like to be eaten. Then
she came back with foolish tears, at thinking of that
necessity; and I, being soft in a different way, would
make up my mind against bacon.

But, Lord bless you! it was no good. Whenever it came
to breakfast-time, after three hours upon the moors, I
regularly forgot the pigs, but paid good heed to the
rashers. For ours is a hungry county, if such there be
in England; a place, I mean, where men must eat, and
are quick to discharge the duty. The air of the moors
is so shrewd and wholesome, stirring a man's
recollection of the good things which have betided him,
and whetting his hope of something still better in the
future, that by the time he sits down to a cloth, his
heart and stomach are tuned too well to say 'nay' to
one another.

Almost everybody knows, in our part of the world at
least, how pleasant and soft the fall of the land is
round about Plover's Barrows farm. All above it is
strong dark mountain, spread with heath, and desolate,
but near our house the valleys cove, and open warmth
and shelter. Here are trees, and bright green grass,
and orchards full of contentment, and a man may scarce
espy the brook, although he hears it everywhere. And
indeed a stout good piece of it comes through our
farm-yard, and swells sometimes to a rush of waves,
when the clouds are on the hill-tops. But all below,
where the valley bends, and the Lynn stream comes along
with it, pretty meadows slope their breast, and the sun
spreads on the water. And nearly all of this is ours,
till you come to Nicholas Snowe's land.

But about two miles below our farm, the Bagworthy water
runs into the Lynn, and makes a real river of it.
Thence it hurries away, with strength and a force of
wilful waters, under the foot of a barefaced hill, and
so to rocks and woods again, where the stream is
covered over, and dark, heavy pools delay it. There
are plenty of fish all down this way, and the farther
you go the larger they get, having deeper grounds to
feed in; and sometimes in the summer months, when
mother could spare me off the farm, I came down here,
with Annie to help (because it was so lonely), and
caught well-nigh a basketful of little trout and
minnows, with a hook and a bit of worm on it, or a
fern-web, or a blow-fly, hung from a hazel pulse-stick.
For of all the things I learned at Blundell's,
only two abode with me, and one of these was the knack
of fishing, and the other the art of swimming. And
indeed they have a very rude manner of teaching
children to swim there; for the big boys take the
little boys, and put them through a certain process,
which they grimly call 'sheep-washing.' In the third
meadow from the gate of the school, going up the river,
there is a fine pool in the Lowman, where the Taunton
brook comes in, and they call it the Taunton Pool. The
water runs down with a strong sharp stickle, and then
has a sudden elbow in it, where the small brook
trickles in; and on that side the bank is steep, four
or it may be five feet high, overhanging loamily; but
on the other side it is flat, pebbly, and fit to land
upon. Now the large boys take the small boys, crying
sadly for mercy, and thinking mayhap, of their mothers,
with hands laid well at the back of their necks, they
bring them up to the crest of the bank upon the eastern
side, and make them strip their clothes off. Then the
little boys, falling on their naked knees, blubber
upwards piteously; but the large boys know what is good
for them, and will not be entreated. So they cast them
down, one after other into the splash of the water, and
watch them go to the bottom first, and then come up and
fight for it, with a blowing and a bubbling. It is a
very fair sight to watch when you know there is little
danger, because, although the pool is deep, the current
is sure to wash a boy up on the stones, where the end
of the depth is. As for me, they had no need to throw
me more than once, because I jumped of my own accord,
thinking small things of the Lowman, after the violent
Lynn. Nevertheless, I learnt to swim there, as all
the other boys did; for the greatest point in learning
that is to find that you must do it. I loved the water
naturally, and could not long be out of it; but even
the boys who hated it most, came to swim in some
fashion or other, after they had been flung for a year
or two into the Taunton pool.

But now, although my sister Annie came to keep me
company, and was not to be parted from me by the tricks
of the Lynn stream, because I put her on my back and
carried her across, whenever she could not leap it, or
tuck up her things and take the stones; yet so it
happened that neither of us had been up the Bagworthy
water. We knew that it brought a good stream down, as
full of fish as of pebbles; and we thought that it must
be very pretty to make a way where no way was, nor even
a bullock came down to drink. But whether we were
afraid or not, I am sure I cannot tell, because it is
so long ago; but I think that had something to do with
it. For Bagworthy water ran out of Doone valley, a
mile or so from the mouth of it.

But when I was turned fourteen years old, and put into
good small-clothes, buckled at the knee, and strong
blue worsted hosen, knitted by my mother, it happened
to me without choice, I may say, to explore the
Bagworthy water. And it came about in this wise.

My mother had long been ailing, and not well able to
eat much; and there is nothing that frightens us so
much as for people to have no love of their victuals.
Now I chanced to remember that once at the time of the
holidays I had brought dear mother from Tiverton a jar
of pickled loaches, caught by myself in the Lowman
river, and baked in the kitchen oven, with vinegar, a
few leaves of bay, and about a dozen pepper-corns. And
mother had said that in all her life she had never
tasted anything fit to be compared with them. Whether
she said so good a thing out of compliment to my skill
in catching the fish and cooking them, or whether she
really meant it, is more than I can tell, though I
quite believe the latter, and so would most people who
tasted them; at any rate, I now resolved to get some
loaches for her, and do them in the self-same manner,
just to make her eat a bit.

There are many people, even now, who have not come to
the right knowledge what a loach is, and where he
lives, and how to catch and pickle him. And I will not
tell them all about it, because if I did, very likely
there would be no loaches left ten or twenty years
after the appearance of this book. A pickled minnow is
very good if you catch him in a stickle, with the
scarlet fingers upon him; but I count him no more than
the ropes in beer compared with a loach done properly.

Being resolved to catch some loaches, whatever trouble
it cost me, I set forth without a word to any one, in
the forenoon of St. Valentine's day, 1675-6, I think
it must have been. Annie should not come with me,
because the water was too cold; for the winter had been
long, and snow lay here and there in patches in the
hollow of the banks, like a lady's gloves forgotten.
And yet the spring was breaking forth, as it always
does in Devonshire, when the turn of the days is over;
and though there was little to see of it, the air was
full of feeling.

It puzzles me now, that I remember all those young
impressions so, because I took no heed of them at the
time whatever; and yet they come upon me bright, when
nothing else is evident in the gray fog of experience.
I am like an old man gazing at the outside of his
spectacles, and seeing, as he rubs the dust, the image
of his grandson playing at bo-peep with him.

But let me be of any age, I never could forget that
day, and how bitter cold the water was. For I doffed
my shoes and hose, and put them into a bag about my
neck; and left my little coat at home, and tied my
shirt-sleeves back to my shoulders. Then I took a
three-pronged fork firmly bound to a rod with cord, and
a piece of canvas kerchief, with a lump of bread inside
it; and so went into the pebbly water, trying to think
how warm it was. For more than a mile all down the
Lynn stream, scarcely a stone I left unturned, being
thoroughly skilled in the tricks of the loach, and
knowing how he hides himself. For being gray-spotted,
and clear to see through, and something like a
cuttle-fish, only more substantial, he will stay quite
still where a streak of weed is in the rapid water,
hoping to be overlooked, not caring even to wag his
tail. Then being disturbed he flips away, like
whalebone from the finger, and hies to a shelf of
stone, and lies with his sharp head poked in under it;
or sometimes he bellies him into the mud, and only
shows his back-ridge. And that is the time to spear
him nicely, holding the fork very gingerly, and
allowing for the bent of it, which comes to pass, I
know not how, at the tickle of air and water.

Or if your loach should not be abroad when first you
come to look for him, but keeping snug in his little
home, then you may see him come forth amazed at the
quivering of the shingles, and oar himself and look at
you, and then dart up-stream, like a little grey
streak; and then you must try to mark him in, and
follow very daintily. So after that, in a sandy place,
you steal up behind his tail to him, so that he cannot
set eyes on you, for his head is up-stream always, and
there you see him abiding still, clear, and mild, and
affable. Then, as he looks so innocent, you make full
sure to prog him well, in spite of the wry of the
water, and the sun making elbows to everything, and the
trembling of your fingers. But when you gird at him
lovingly, and have as good as gotten him, lo! in the
go-by of the river he is gone as a shadow goes, and
only a little cloud of mud curls away from the points
of the fork.

A long way down that limpid water, chill and bright as
an iceberg, went my little self that day on man's
choice errand--destruction. All the young fish seemed
to know that I was one who had taken out God's
certificate, and meant to have the value of it; every
one of them was aware that we desolate more than
replenish the earth. For a cow might come and look
into the water, and put her yellow lips down; a
kingfisher, like a blue arrow, might shoot through the
dark alleys over the channel, or sit on a dipping
withy-bough with his beak sunk into his
breast-feathers; even an otter might float downstream
likening himself to a log of wood, with his flat head
flush with the water-top, and his oily eyes peering
quietly; and yet no panic would seize other life, as it
does when a sample of man comes.

Now let not any one suppose that I thought of these
things when I was young, for I knew not the way to do
it. And proud enough in truth I was at the universal
fear I spread in all those lonely places, where I
myself must have been afraid, if anything had come up
to me. It is all very pretty to see the trees big with
their hopes of another year, though dumb as yet on the
subject, and the waters murmuring gaiety, and the banks
spread out with comfort; but a boy takes none of this
to heart; unless he be meant for a poet (which God can
never charge upon me), and he would liefer have a good
apple, or even a bad one, if he stole it.

When I had travelled two miles or so, conquered now and
then with cold, and coming out to rub my legs into a
lively friction, and only fishing here and there,
because of the tumbling water; suddenly, in an open
space, where meadows spread about it, I found a good
stream flowing softly into the body of our brook. And
it brought, so far as I could guess by the sweep of it
under my knee-caps, a larger power of clear water than
the Lynn itself had; only it came more quietly down,
not being troubled with stairs and steps, as the
fortune of the Lynn is, but gliding smoothly and
forcibly, as if upon some set purpose.

Hereupon I drew up and thought, and reason was much
inside me; because the water was bitter cold, and my
little toes were aching. So on the bank I rubbed them
well with a sprout of young sting-nettle, and having
skipped about awhile, was kindly inclined to eat a bit.

Now all the turn of all my life hung upon that moment.
But as I sat there munching a crust of Betty
Muxworthy's sweet brown bread, and a bit of cold bacon
along with it, and kicking my little red heels against
the dry loam to keep them warm, I knew no more than
fish under the fork what was going on over me. It
seemed a sad business to go back now and tell Annie
there were no loaches; and yet it was a frightful
thing, knowing what I did of it, to venture, where no
grown man durst, up the Bagworthy water. And please to
recollect that I was only a boy in those days, fond
enough of anything new, but not like a man to meet it.

However, as I ate more and more, my spirit arose within
me, and I thought of what my father had been, and how
he had told me a hundred times never to be a coward.
And then I grew warm, and my little heart was ashamed
of its pit-a-patting, and I said to myself, 'now if
father looks, he shall see that I obey him.' So I put
the bag round my back again, and buckled my breeches
far up from the knee, expecting deeper water, and
crossing the Lynn, went stoutly up under the branches
which hang so dark on the Bagworthy river.

I found it strongly over-woven, turned, and torn with
thicket-wood, but not so rocky as the Lynn, and more
inclined to go evenly. There were bars of chafed
stakes stretched from the sides half-way across the
current, and light outriders of pithy weed, and blades
of last year's water-grass trembling in the quiet
places, like a spider's threads, on the transparent
stillness, with a tint of olive moving it. And here
and there the sun came in, as if his light was sifted,
making dance upon the waves, and shadowing the pebbles.

Here, although affrighted often by the deep, dark
places, and feeling that every step I took might never
be taken backward, on the whole I had very comely sport
of loaches, trout, and minnows, forking some, and
tickling some, and driving others to shallow nooks,
whence I could bail them ashore. Now, if you have ever
been fishing, you will not wonder that I was led on,
forgetting all about danger, and taking no heed of the
time, but shouting in a childish way whenever I caught
a 'whacker' (as we called a big fish at Tiverton); and
in sooth there were very fine loaches here, having more
lie and harbourage than in the rough Lynn stream,
though not quite so large as in the Lowman, where I
have even taken them to the weight of half a pound.

But in answer to all my shouts there never was any
sound at all, except of a rocky echo, or a scared bird
hustling away, or the sudden dive of a water-vole; and
the place grew thicker and thicker, and the covert grew
darker above me, until I thought that the fishes might
have good chance of eating me, instead of my eating the

For now the day was falling fast behind the brown of
the hill-tops, and the trees, being void of leaf and
hard, seemed giants ready to beat me. And every moment
as the sky was clearing up for a white frost, the cold
of the water got worse and worse, until I was fit to
cry with it. And so, in a sorry plight, I came to an
opening in the bushes, where a great black pool lay in
front of me, whitened with snow (as I thought) at the
sides, till I saw it was only foam-froth.

Now, though I could swim with great ease and comfort,
and feared no depth of water, when I could fairly come
to it, yet I had no desire to go over head and ears
into this great pool, being so cramped and weary, and
cold enough in all conscience, though wet only up to
the middle, not counting my arms and shoulders. And
the look of this black pit was enough to stop one from
diving into it, even on a hot summer's day with
sunshine on the water; I mean, if the sun ever shone
there. As it was, I shuddered and drew back; not alone
at the pool itself and the black air there was about
it, but also at the whirling manner, and wisping of
white threads upon it in stripy circles round and
round; and the centre still as jet.

But soon I saw the reason of the stir and depth of that
great pit, as well as of the roaring sound which long
had made me wonder. For skirting round one side, with
very little comfort, because the rocks were high and
steep, and the ledge at the foot so narrow, I came to a
sudden sight and marvel, such as I never dreamed of.
For, lo! I stood at the foot of a long pale slide of
water, coming smoothly to me, without any break or
hindrance, for a hundred yards or more, and fenced on
either side with cliff, sheer, and straight, and
shining. The water neither ran nor fell, nor leaped
with any spouting, but made one even slope of it, as if
it had been combed or planed, and looking like a plank
of deal laid down a deep black staircase. However,
there was no side-rail, nor any place to walk upon,
only the channel a fathom wide, and the perpendicular
walls of crag shutting out the evening.

The look of this place had a sad effect, scaring me
very greatly, and making me feel that I would give
something only to be at home again, with Annie cooking
my supper, and our dog Watch sniffing upward. But
nothing would come of wishing; that I had long found
out; and it only made one the less inclined to work
without white feather. So I laid the case before me in
a little council; not for loss of time, but only that I
wanted rest, and to see things truly.

Then says I to myself--'John Ridd, these trees, and
pools, and lonesome rocks, and setting of the sunlight
are making a gruesome coward of thee. Shall I go back
to my mother so, and be called her fearless boy?'

Nevertheless, I am free to own that it was not any fine
sense of shame which settled my decision; for indeed
there was nearly as much of danger in going back as in
going on, and perhaps even more of labour, the journey
being so roundabout. But that which saved me from
turning back was a strange inquisitive desire, very
unbecoming in a boy of little years; in a word, I would
risk a great deal to know what made the water come down
like that, and what there was at the top of it.

Therefore, seeing hard strife before me, I girt up my
breeches anew, with each buckle one hole tighter, for
the sodden straps were stretching and giving, and
mayhap my legs were grown smaller from the coldness of
it. Then I bestowed my fish around my neck more
tightly, and not stopping to look much, for fear of
fear, crawled along over the fork of rocks, where the
water had scooped the stone out, and shunning thus the
ledge from whence it rose like the mane of a white
horse into the broad black pool, softly I let my feet
into the dip and rush of the torrent.

And here I had reckoned without my host, although (as I
thought) so clever; and it was much but that I went
down into the great black pool, and had never been
heard of more; and this must have been the end of me,
except for my trusty loach-fork. For the green wave
came down like great bottles upon me, and my legs were
gone off in a moment, and I had not time to cry out
with wonder, only to think of my mother and Annie, and
knock my head very sadly, which made it go round so
that brains were no good, even if I had any. But all
in a moment, before I knew aught, except that I must
die out of the way, with a roar of water upon me, my
fork, praise God stuck fast in the rock, and I was
borne up upon it. I felt nothing except that here was
another matter to begin upon; and it might be worth
while, or again it might not, to have another fight for
it. But presently the dash of the water upon my face
revived me, and my mind grew used to the roar of it,
and meseemed I had been worse off than this, when first
flung into the Lowman.

Therefore I gathered my legs back slowly, as if they
were fish to be landed, stopping whenever the water
flew too strongly off my shin-bones, and coming along
without sticking out to let the wave get hold of me.
And in this manner I won a footing, leaning well
forward like a draught-horse, and balancing on my
strength as it were, with the ashen stake set behind
me. Then I said to my self, 'John Ridd, the sooner you
get yourself out by the way you came, the better it
will be for you.' But to my great dismay and affright,
I saw that no choice was left me now, except that I
must climb somehow up that hill of water, or else be
washed down into the pool and whirl around it till it
drowned me. For there was no chance of fetching back
by the way I had gone down into it, and further up was
a hedge of rock on either side of the waterway, rising
a hundred yards in height, and for all I could tell
five hundred, and no place to set a foot in.

Having said the Lord's Prayer (which was all I knew),
and made a very bad job of it, I grasped the good
loach-stick under a knot, and steadied me with my left
hand, and so with a sigh of despair began my course up
the fearful torrent-way. To me it seemed half a mile
at least of sliding water above me, but in truth it was
little more than a furlong, as I came to know
afterwards. It would have been a hard ascent even
without the slippery slime and the force of the river
over it, and I had scanty hope indeed of ever winning
the summit. Nevertheless, my terror left me, now I was
face to face with it, and had to meet the worst; and I
set myself to do my best with a vigour and sort of
hardness which did not then surprise me, but have done
so ever since.

The water was only six inches deep, or from that to
nine at the utmost, and all the way up I could see my
feet looking white in the gloom of the hollow, and here
and there I found resting-place, to hold on by the
cliff and pant awhile. And gradually as I went on, a
warmth of courage breathed in me, to think that perhaps
no other had dared to try that pass before me, and to
wonder what mother would say to it. And then came
thought of my father also, and the pain of my feet

How I went carefully, step by step, keeping my arms in
front of me, and never daring to straighten my knees is
more than I can tell clearly, or even like now to think
of, because it makes me dream of it. Only I must
acknowledge that the greatest danger of all was just
where I saw no jeopardy, but ran up a patch of black
ooze-weed in a very boastful manner, being now not far
from the summit.

Here I fell very piteously, and was like to have broken
my knee-cap, and the torrent got hold of my other leg
while I was indulging the bruised one. And then a vile
knotting of cramp disabled me, and for awhile I could
only roar, till my mouth was full of water, and all of
my body was sliding. But the fright of that brought me
to again, and my elbow caught in a rock-hole; and so I
managed to start again, with the help of more humility.

Now being in the most dreadful fright, because I was so
near the top, and hope was beating within me, I
laboured hard with both legs and arms, going like a
mill and grunting. At last the rush of forked water,
where first it came over the lips of the fall, drove me
into the middle, and I stuck awhile with my toe-balls
on the slippery links of the pop-weed, and the world
was green and gliddery, and I durst not look behind me.
Then I made up my mind to die at last; for so my legs
would ache no more, and my breath not pain my heart so;
only it did seem such a pity after fighting so long to
give in, and the light was coming upon me, and again I
fought towards it; then suddenly I felt fresh air, and
fell into it headlong.


When I came to myself again, my hands were full of
young grass and mould, and a little girl kneeling at my
side was rubbing my forehead tenderly with a dock-leaf
and a handkerchief.

'Oh, I am so glad,' she whispered softly, as I opened
my eyes and looked at her; 'now you will try to be
better, won't you?'

I had never heard so sweet a sound as came from between
her bright red lips, while there she knelt and gazed at
me; neither had I ever seen anything so beautiful as
the large dark eyes intent upon me, full of pity and
wonder. And then, my nature being slow, and perhaps,
for that matter, heavy, I wandered with my hazy eyes
down the black shower of her hair, as to my jaded gaze
it seemed; and where it fell on the turf, among it
(like an early star) was the first primrose of the
season. And since that day I think of her, through all
the rough storms of my life, when I see an early
primrose. Perhaps she liked my countenance, and indeed
I know she did, because she said so afterwards;
although at the time she was too young to know what
made her take to me. Not that I had any beauty, or
ever pretended to have any, only a solid healthy face,
which many girls have laughed at.

Thereupon I sate upright, with my little trident still
in one hand, and was much afraid to speak to her, being
conscious of my country-brogue, lest she should cease
to like me. But she clapped her hands, and made a
trifling dance around my back, and came to me on the
other side, as if I were a great plaything.

'What is your name?' she said, as if she had every
right to ask me; 'and how did you come here, and what
are these wet things in this great bag?'

'You had better let them alone,' I said; 'they are
loaches for my mother. But I will give you some, if
you like.'

'Dear me, how much you think of them! Why, they are
only fish. But how your feet are bleeding! oh, I must
tie them up for you. And no shoes nor stockings! Is
your mother very poor, poor boy?'

'No,' I said, being vexed at this; 'we are rich enough
to buy all this great meadow, if we chose; and here my
shoes and stockings be.'

'Why, they are quite as wet as your feet; and I cannot
bear to see your feet. Oh, please to let me manage
them; I will do it very softly.'

'Oh, I don't think much of that,' I replied; 'I shall
put some goose-grease to them. But how you are looking
at me! I never saw any one like you before. My name is
John Ridd. What is your name?'

'Lorna Doone,' she answered, in a low voice, as if
afraid of it, and hanging her head so that I could see
only her forehead and eyelashes; 'if you please, my
name is Lorna Doone; and I thought you must have known

Then I stood up and touched her hand, and tried to make
her look at me; but she only turned away the more.
Young and harmless as she was, her name alone made
guilt of her. Nevertheless I could not help looking at
her tenderly, and the more when her blushes turned into
tears, and her tears to long, low sobs.

'Don't cry,' I said, 'whatever you do. I am sure you
have never done any harm. I will give you all my fish
Lorna, and catch some more for mother; only don't be
angry with me.'

She flung her little soft arms up in the passion of her
tears, and looked at me so piteously, that what did I
do but kiss her. It seemed to be a very odd thing,
when I came to think of it, because I hated kissing so,
as all honest boys must do. But she touched my heart
with a sudden delight, like a cowslip-blossom (although
there were none to be seen yet), and the sweetest
flowers of spring.

She gave me no encouragement, as my mother in her place
would have done; nay, she even wiped her lips (which
methought was rather rude of her), and drew away, and
smoothed her dress, as if I had used a freedom. Then I
felt my cheeks grow burning red, and I gazed at my legs
and was sorry. For although she was not at all a proud
child (at any rate in her countenance), yet I knew that
she was by birth a thousand years in front of me. They
might have taken and framed me, or (which would be more
to the purpose) my sisters, until it was time for us to
die, and then have trained our children after us, for
many generations; yet never could we have gotten that
look upon our faces which Lorna Doone had naturally, as
if she had been born to it.

Here was I, a yeoman's boy, a yeoman every inch of me,
even where I was naked; and there was she, a lady born,
and thoroughly aware of it, and dressed by people of
rank and taste, who took pride in her beauty and set it
to advantage. For though her hair was fallen down by
reason of her wildness, and some of her frock was
touched with wet where she had tended me so, behold her
dress was pretty enough for the queen of all the
angels. The colours were bright and rich indeed, and
the substance very sumptuous, yet simple and free from
tinsel stuff, and matching most harmoniously. All
from her waist to her neck was white, plaited in close
like a curtain, and the dark soft weeping of her hair,
and the shadowy light of her eyes (like a wood rayed
through with sunset), made it seem yet whiter, as if it
were done on purpose. As for the rest, she knew what
it was a great deal better than I did, for I never
could look far away from her eyes when they were opened
upon me.

Now, seeing how I heeded her, and feeling that I had
kissed her, although she was such a little girl, eight
years old or thereabouts, she turned to the stream in a
bashful manner, and began to watch the water, and
rubbed one leg against the other.

I, for my part, being vexed at her behaviour to me,
took up all my things to go, and made a fuss about it;
to let her know I was going. But she did not call me
back at all, as I had made sure she would do; moreover,
I knew that to try the descent was almost certain death
to me, and it looked as dark as pitch; and so at the
mouth I turned round again, and came back to her, and
said, 'Lorna.'

'Oh, I thought you were gone,' she answered; 'why did
you ever come here? Do you know what they would do to
us, if they found you here with me?'

'Beat us, I dare say, very hard; or me, at least. They
could never beat you,'

'No. They would kill us both outright, and bury us
here by the water; and the water often tells me that I
must come to that.'

'But what should they kill me for?'

'Because you have found the way up here, and they never
could believe it. Now, please to go; oh, please to go.
They will kill us both in a moment. Yes, I like you
very much'--for I was teasing her to say it--'very much
indeed, and I will call you John Ridd, if you like;
only please to go, John. And when your feet are well,
you know, you can come and tell me how they are.'

'But I tell you, Lorna, I like you very much
indeed--nearly as much as Annie, and a great deal more
than Lizzie. And I never saw any one like you, and I
must come back again to-morrow, and so must you, to see
me; and I will bring you such lots of things--there
are apples still, and a thrush I caught with only one
leg broken, and our dog has just had puppies--'

'Oh, dear, they won't let me have a dog. There is not
a dog in the valley. They say they are such noisy

'Only put your hand in mine--what little things they
are, Lorna! And I will bring you the loveliest dog; I
will show you just how long he is.'

'Hush!' A shout came down the valley, and all my heart
was trembling, like water after sunset, and Lorna's
face was altered from pleasant play to terror. She
shrank to me, and looked up at me, with such a power of
weakness, that I at once made up my mind to save her or
to die with her. A tingle went through all my bones,
and I only longed for my carbine. The little girl took
courage from me, and put her cheek quite close to mine.

'Come with me down the waterfall. I can carry you
easily; and mother will take care of you.'

'No, no,' she cried, as I took her up: 'I will tell you
what to do. They are only looking for me. You see
that hole, that hole there?'

She pointed to a little niche in the rock which verged
the meadow, about fifty yards away from us. In the
fading of the twilight I could just descry it.

'Yes, I see it; but they will see me crossing the grass
to get there.'

'Look! look!' She could hardly speak. 'There is a way
out from the top of it; they would kill me if I told
it. Oh, here they come, I can see them.'

The little maid turned as white as the snow which hung
on the rocks above her, and she looked at the water and
then at me, and she cried, 'Oh dear! oh dear!' And then
she began to sob aloud, being so young and unready.
But I drew her behind the withy-bushes, and close down
to the water, where it was quiet and shelving deep, ere
it came to the lip of the chasm. Here they could not
see either of us from the upper valley, and might have
sought a long time for us, even when they came quite
near, if the trees had been clad with their summer
clothes. Luckily I had picked up my fish and taken my
three-pronged fork away.

Crouching in that hollow nest, as children get together
in ever so little compass, I saw a dozen fierce men
come down, on the other side of the water, not bearing
any fire-arms, but looking lax and jovial, as if they
were come from riding and a dinner taken hungrily.
'Queen, queen!' they were shouting, here and there, and
now and then: 'where the pest is our little queen

'They always call me "queen," and I am to be queen
by-and-by,' Lorna whispered to me, with her soft cheek
on my rough one, and her little heart beating against
me: 'oh, they are crossing by the timber there, and
then they are sure to see us.'

'Stop,' said I; 'now I see what to do. I must get into
the water, and you must go to sleep.'

'To be sure, yes, away in the meadow there. But how
bitter cold it will be for you!'

She saw in a moment the way to do it, sooner than I
could tell her; and there was no time to lose.

'Now mind you never come again,' she whispered over her
shoulder, as she crept away with a childish twist
hiding her white front from me; 'only I shall come
sometimes--oh, here they are, Madonna!'

Daring scarce to peep, I crept into the water, and lay
down bodily in it, with my head between two blocks of
stone, and some flood-drift combing over me. The dusk
was deepening between the hills, and a white mist lay
on the river; but I, being in the channel of it, could
see every ripple, and twig, and rush, and glazing of
twilight above it, as bright as in a picture; so that
to my ignorance there seemed no chance at all but what
the men must find me. For all this time they were
shouting and swearing, and keeping such a hullabaloo,
that the rocks all round the valley rang, and my heart
quaked, so (what with this and the cold) that the water
began to gurgle round me, and to lap upon the pebbles.

Neither in truth did I try to stop it, being now so
desperate, between the fear and the wretchedness; till
I caught a glimpse of the little maid, whose beauty and
whose kindliness had made me yearn to be with her. And
then I knew that for her sake I was bound to be brave
and hide myself. She was lying beneath a rock, thirty
or forty yards from me, feigning to be fast asleep,
with her dress spread beautifully, and her hair drawn
over her.

Presently one of the great rough men came round a
corner upon her; and there he stopped and gazed awhile
at her fairness and her innocence. Then he caught her
up in his arms, and kissed her so that I heard him; and
if I had only brought my gun, I would have tried to
shoot him.

'Here our queen is! Here's the queen, here's the
captain's daughter!' he shouted to his comrades; 'fast
asleep, by God, and hearty! Now I have first claim to
her; and no one else shall touch the child. Back to
the bottle, all of you!'

He set her dainty little form upon his great square
shoulder, and her narrow feet in one broad hand; and so
in triumph marched away, with the purple velvet of her
skirt ruffling in his long black beard, and the silken
length of her hair fetched out, like a cloud by the
wind behind her. This way of her going vexed me so,
that I leaped upright in the water, and must have been
spied by some of them, but for their haste to the
wine-bottle. Of their little queen they took small
notice, being in this urgency; although they had
thought to find her drowned; but trooped away after one
another with kindly challenge to gambling, so far as I
could make them out; and I kept sharp watch, I assure

Going up that darkened glen, little Lorna, riding still
the largest and most fierce of them, turned and put up
a hand to me, and I put up a hand to her, in the thick
of the mist and the willows.

She was gone, my little dear (though tall of her age
and healthy); and when I got over my thriftless fright,
I longed to have more to say to her. Her voice to me
was so different from all I had ever heard before, as
might be a sweet silver bell intoned to the small
chords of a harp. But I had no time to think about
this, if I hoped to have any supper.

I crept into a bush for warmth, and rubbed my shivering
legs on bark, and longed for mother's fagot. Then as
daylight sank below the forget-me-not of stars, with a
sorrow to be quit, I knew that now must be my time to
get away, if there were any.

Therefore, wringing my sodden breaches, I managed to
crawl from the bank to the niche in the cliff which
Lorna had shown me.

Through the dusk I had trouble to see the mouth, at
even the five land-yards of distance; nevertheless, I
entered well, and held on by some dead fern-stems, and
did hope that no one would shoot me.

But while I was hugging myself like this, with a boyish
manner of reasoning, my joy was like to have ended in
sad grief both to myself and my mother, and haply to
all honest folk who shall love to read this history.
For hearing a noise in front of me, and like a coward
not knowing where, but afraid to turn round or think of
it, I felt myself going down some deep passage into a
pit of darkness. It was no good to catch the sides,
the whole thing seemed to go with me. Then, without
knowing how, I was leaning over a night of water.

This water was of black radiance, as are certain
diamonds, spanned across with vaults of rock, and
carrying no image, neither showing marge nor end, but
centred (at it might be) with a bottomless indrawal.

With that chill and dread upon me, and the sheer rock
all around, and the faint light heaving wavily on the
silence of this gulf, I must have lost my wits and gone
to the bottom, if there were any.

But suddenly a robin sang (as they will do after dark,
towards spring) in the brown fern and ivy behind me. I
took it for our little Annie's voice (for she could
call any robin), and gathering quick warm comfort,
sprang up the steep way towards the starlight.
Climbing back, as the stones glid down, I heard the
cold greedy wave go japping, like a blind black dog,
into the distance of arches and hollow depths of



I can assure you, and tell no lie (as John Fry always
used to say, when telling his very largest), that I
scrambled back to the mouth of that pit as if the evil
one had been after me. And sorely I repented now of
all my boyish folly, or madness it might well be
termed, in venturing, with none to help, and nothing to
compel me, into that accursed valley. Once let me get
out, thinks I, and if ever I get in again, without
being cast in by neck and by crop, I will give our
new-born donkey leave to set up for my schoolmaster.

How I kept that resolution we shall see hereafter. It
is enough for me now to tell how I escaped from the den
that night. First I sat down in the little opening
which Lorna had pointed out to me, and wondered whether
she had meant, as bitterly occurred to me, that I
should run down into the pit, and be drowned, and give
no more trouble. But in less than half a minute I was
ashamed of that idea, and remembered how she was vexed
to think that even a loach should lose his life. And
then I said to myself, 'Now surely she would value me
more than a thousand loaches; and what she said must be
quite true about the way out of this horrible place.'

Therefore I began to search with the utmost care and
diligence, although my teeth were chattering, and all
my bones beginning to ache with the chilliness and the
wetness. Before very long the moon appeared, over the
edge of the mountain, and among the trees at the top of
it; and then I espied rough steps, and rocky, made as
if with a sledge-hammer, narrow, steep, and far
asunder, scooped here and there in the side of the
entrance, and then round a bulge of the cliff, like the
marks upon a great brown loaf, where a hungry child has
picked at it. And higher up, where the light of the
moon shone broader upon the precipice, there seemed to
be a rude broken track, like the shadow of a crooked
stick thrown upon a house-wall.

Herein was small encouragement; and at first I was
minded to lie down and die; but it seemed to come amiss
to me. God has His time for all of us; but He seems to
advertise us when He does not mean to do it. Moreover,
I saw a movement of lights at the head of the valley,
as if lanthorns were coming after me, and the
nimbleness given thereon to my heels was in front of
all meditation.

Straightway I set foot in the lowest stirrup (as I
might almost call it), and clung to the rock with my
nails, and worked to make a jump into the second
stirrup. And I compassed that too, with the aid of my
stick; although, to tell you the truth, I was not at
that time of life so agile as boys of smaller frame
are, for my size was growing beyond my years, and the
muscles not keeping time with it, and the joints of my
bones not closely hinged, with staring at one another.
But the third step-hole was the hardest of all, and the
rock swelled out on me over my breast, and there seemed
to be no attempting it, until I espied a good stout
rope hanging in a groove of shadow, and just managed to
reach the end of it.

How I clomb up, and across the clearing, and found my
way home through the Bagworthy forest, is more than I
can remember now, for I took all the rest of it then as
a dream, by reason of perfect weariness. And indeed it
was quite beyond my hopes to tell so much as I have
told, for at first beginning to set it down, it was all
like a mist before me. Nevertheless, some parts grew
clearer, as one by one I remembered them, having taken
a little soft cordial, because the memory frightens me.

For the toil of the water, and danger of labouring up
the long cascade or rapids, and then the surprise of
the fair young maid, and terror of the murderers, and
desperation of getting away--all these are much to me
even now, when I am a stout churchwarden, and sit by
the side of my fire, after going through many far worse
adventures, which I will tell, God willing. Only the
labour of writing is such (especially so as to
construe, and challenge a reader on parts of speech,
and hope to be even with him); that by this pipe which
I hold in my hand I ever expect to be beaten, as in the
days when old Doctor Twiggs, if I made a bad stroke in
my exercise, shouted aloud with a sour joy, 'John Ridd,
sirrah, down with your small-clothes!'

Let that be as it may, I deserved a good beating that
night, after making such a fool of myself, and grinding
good fustian to pieces. But when I got home, all the
supper was in, and the men sitting at the white table,
and mother and Annie and Lizzie near by, all eager, and
offering to begin (except, indeed, my mother, who was
looking out at the doorway), and by the fire was Betty
Muxworthy, scolding, and cooking, and tasting her work,
all in a breath, as a man would say. I looked through
the door from the dark by the wood-stack, and was half
of a mind to stay out like a dog, for fear of the
rating and reckoning; but the way my dear mother was
looking about and the browning of the sausages got the
better of me.

But nobody could get out of me where I had been all the
day and evening; although they worried me never so
much, and longed to shake me to pieces, especially
Betty Muxworthy, who never could learn to let well
alone. Not that they made me tell any lies, although
it would have served them right almost for intruding on
other people's business; but that I just held my
tongue, and ate my supper rarely, and let them try
their taunts and jibes, and drove them almost wild
after supper, by smiling exceeding knowingly. And
indeed I could have told them things, as I hinted once
or twice; and then poor Betty and our little Lizzie
were so mad with eagerness, that between them I went
into the fire, being thoroughly overcome with laughter
and my own importance.

Now what the working of my mind was (if, indeed it
worked at all, and did not rather follow suit of body)
it is not in my power to say; only that the result of
my adventure in the Doone Glen was to make me dream a
good deal of nights, which I had never done much
before, and to drive me, with tenfold zeal and purpose,
to the practice of bullet-shooting. Not that I ever
expected to shoot the Doone family, one by one, or even
desired to do so, for my nature is not revengeful; but
that it seemed to be somehow my business to understand
the gun, as a thing I must be at home with.

I could hit the barn-door now capitally well with the
Spanish match-lock, and even with John Fry's
blunderbuss, at ten good land-yards distance, without
any rest for my fusil. And what was very wrong of me,
though I did not see it then, I kept John Fry there, to
praise my shots, from dinner-time often until the grey
dusk, while he all the time should have been at work
spring-ploughing upon the farm. And for that matter
so should I have been, or at any rate driving the
horses; but John was by no means loath to be there,
instead of holding the plough-tail. And indeed, one of
our old sayings is,--

For pleasure's sake I would liefer wet,
Than ha' ten lumps of gold for each one of my sweat.

And again, which is not a bad proverb, though unthrifty
and unlike a Scotsman's,--

God makes the wheat grow greener,
While farmer be at his dinner.

And no Devonshire man, or Somerset either (and I belong
to both of them), ever thinks of working harder than
God likes to see him.

Nevertheless, I worked hard at the gun, and by the time
that I had sent all the church-roof gutters, so far as
I honestly could cut them, through the red pine-door, I
began to long for a better tool that would make less
noise and throw straighter. But the sheep-shearing
came and the hay-season next, and then the harvest of
small corn, and the digging of the root called 'batata'
(a new but good thing in our neighbourhood, which our
folk have made into 'taties'), and then the sweating of
the apples, and the turning of the cider-press, and the
stacking of the firewood, and netting of the woodcocks,
and the springles to be minded in the garden and by the
hedgerows, where blackbirds hop to the molehills in the
white October mornings, and grey birds come to look for
snails at the time when the sun is rising.

It is wonderful how time runs away, when all these
things and a great many others come in to load him down
the hill and prevent him from stopping to look about.
And I for my part can never conceive how people who
live in towns and cities, where neither lambs nor birds
are (except in some shop windows), nor growing corn,
nor meadow-grass, nor even so much as a stick to cut or
a stile to climb and sit down upon--how these poor folk
get through their lives without being utterly weary of
them, and dying from pure indolence, is a thing God
only knows, if His mercy allows Him to think of it.

How the year went by I know not, only that I was abroad
all day, shooting, or fishing, or minding the farm, or
riding after some stray beast, or away by the seaside
below Glenthorne, wondering at the great waters, and
resolving to go for a sailor. For in those days I had
a firm belief, as many other strong boys have, of being
born for a seaman. And indeed I had been in a boat
nearly twice; but the second time mother found it out,
and came and drew me back again; and after that she
cried so badly, that I was forced to give my word to
her to go no more without telling her.

But Betty Muxworthy spoke her mind quite in a different
way about it, the while she was wringing my hosen, and
clattering to the drying-horse.

'Zailor, ees fai! ay and zarve un raight. Her can't
kape out o' the watter here, whur a' must goo vor to
vaind un, zame as a gurt to-ad squalloping, and mux up
till I be wore out, I be, wi' the very saight of 's
braiches. How wil un ever baide aboard zhip, wi' the
watter zinging out under un, and comin' up splash when
the wind blow. Latt un goo, missus, latt un goo, zay I
for wan, and old Davy wash his clouts for un.'

And this discourse of Betty's tended more than my
mother's prayers, I fear, to keep me from going. For I
hated Betty in those days, as children always hate a
cross servant, and often get fond of a false one. But
Betty, like many active women, was false by her
crossness only; thinking it just for the moment
perhaps, and rushing away with a bucket; ready to stick
to it, like a clenched nail, if beaten the wrong way
with argument; but melting over it, if you left her, as
stinging soap, left along in a basin, spreads all
abroad without bubbling.

But all this is beyond the children, and beyond me too
for that matter, even now in ripe experience; for I
never did know what women mean, and never shall except
when they tell me, if that be in their power. Now let
that question pass. For although I am now in a place
of some authority, I have observed that no one ever
listens to me, when I attempt to lay down the law; but
all are waiting with open ears until I do enforce it.
And so methinks he who reads a history cares not much
for the wisdom or folly of the writer (knowing well
that the former is far less than his own, and the
latter vastly greater), but hurries to know what the
people did, and how they got on about it. And this I
can tell, if any one can, having been myself in the
thick of it.

The fright I had taken that night in Glen Doone
satisfied me for a long time thereafter; and I took
good care not to venture even in the fields and woods
of the outer farm, without John Fry for company. John
was greatly surprised and pleased at the value I now
set upon him; until, what betwixt the desire to vaunt
and the longing to talk things over, I gradually laid
bare to him nearly all that had befallen me; except,
indeed, about Lorna, whom a sort of shame kept me from
mentioning. Not that I did not think of her, and wish
very often to see her again; but of course I was only a
boy as yet, and therefore inclined to despise young
girls, as being unable to do anything, and only meant
to listen to orders. And when I got along with the
other boys, that was how we always spoke of them, if we
deigned to speak at all, as beings of a lower order,
only good enough to run errands for us, and to nurse

And yet my sister Annie was in truth a great deal more
to me than all the boys of the parish, and of Brendon,
and Countisbury, put together; although at the time I
never dreamed it, and would have laughed if told so.
Annie was of a pleasing face, and very gentle manner,
almost like a lady some people said; but without any
airs whatever, only trying to give satisfaction. And
if she failed, she would go and weep, without letting
any one know it, believing the fault to be all her own,
when mostly it was of others. But if she succeeded in
pleasing you, it was beautiful to see her smile, and
stroke her soft chin in a way of her own, which she
always used when taking note how to do the right thing
again for you. And then her cheeks had a bright clear
pink, and her eyes were as blue as the sky in spring,
and she stood as upright as a young apple-tree, and no
one could help but smile at her, and pat her brown
curls approvingly; whereupon she always curtseyed. For
she never tried to look away when honest people gazed
at her; and even in the court-yard she would come and
help to take your saddle, and tell (without your asking
her) what there was for dinner.

And afterwards she grew up to be a very comely maiden,
tall, and with a well-built neck, and very fair white
shoulders, under a bright cloud of curling hair. Alas!
poor Annie, like most of the gentle maidens--but tush,
I am not come to that yet; and for the present she
seemed to me little to look at, after the beauty of
Lorna Doone.



It happened upon a November evening (when I was about
fifteen years old, and out-growing my strength very
rapidly, my sister Annie being turned thirteen, and a
deal of rain having fallen, and all the troughs in the
yard being flooded, and the bark from the wood-ricks
washed down the gutters, and even our water-shoot going
brown) that the ducks in the court made a terrible
quacking, instead of marching off to their pen, one
behind another. Thereupon Annie and I ran out to see
what might be the sense of it. There were thirteen
ducks, and ten lily-white (as the fashion then of ducks
was), not I mean twenty-three in all, but ten white and
three brown-striped ones; and without being nice about
their colour, they all quacked very movingly. They
pushed their gold-coloured bills here and there (yet
dirty, as gold is apt to be), and they jumped on the
triangles of their feet, and sounded out of their
nostrils; and some of the over-excited ones ran along
low on the ground, quacking grievously with their bills
snapping and bending, and the roof of their mouths

Annie began to cry 'Dilly, dilly, einy, einy, ducksey,'
according to the burden of a tune they seem to have
accepted as the national duck's anthem; but instead of
being soothed by it, they only quacked three times as
hard, and ran round till we were giddy. And then they
shook their tails together, and looked grave, and went
round and round again. Now I am uncommonly fond of
ducks, both roasted and roasting and roystering; and it
is a fine sight to behold them walk, poddling one after
other, with their toes out, like soldiers drilling, and
their little eyes cocked all ways at once, and the way
that they dib with their bills, and dabble, and throw
up their heads and enjoy something, and then tell the
others about it. Therefore I knew at once, by the way
they were carrying on, that there must be something or
other gone wholly amiss in the duck-world. Sister
Annie perceived it too, but with a greater quickness;
for she counted them like a good duck-wife, and could
only tell thirteen of them, when she knew there ought
to be fourteen.

And so we began to search about, and the ducks ran to
lead us aright, having come that far to fetch us; and
when we got down to the foot of the court-yard where
the two great ash-trees stand by the side of the little
water, we found good reason for the urgence and
melancholy of the duck-birds. Lo! the old white drake,
the father of all, a bird of high manners and chivalry,
always the last to help himself from the pan of
barley-meal, and the first to show fight to a dog or
cock intruding upon his family, this fine fellow, and
pillar of the state, was now in a sad predicament, yet
quacking very stoutly. For the brook, wherewith he had
been familiar from his callow childhood, and wherein he
was wont to quest for water-newts, and tadpoles, and
caddis-worms, and other game, this brook, which
afforded him very often scanty space to dabble in, and
sometimes starved the cresses, was now coming down in a
great brown flood, as if the banks never belonged to
it. The foaming of it, and the noise, and the cresting
of the corners, and the up and down, like a wave of the
sea, were enough to frighten any duck, though bred upon
stormy waters, which our ducks never had been.

There is always a hurdle six feet long and four and a
half in depth, swung by a chain at either end from an
oak laid across the channel. And the use of this
hurdle is to keep our kine at milking time from
straying away there drinking (for in truth they are
very dainty) and to fence strange cattle, or Farmer
Snowe's horses, from coming along the bed of the brook
unknown, to steal our substance. But now this hurdle,
which hung in the summer a foot above the trickle,
would have been dipped more than two feet deep but for
the power against it. For the torrent came down so
vehemently that the chains at full stretch were
creaking, and the hurdle buffeted almost flat, and
thatched (so to say) with the drift-stuff, was going
see-saw, with a sulky splash on the dirty red comb of
the waters. But saddest to see was between two bars,
where a fog was of rushes, and flood-wood, and
wild-celery haulm, and dead crowsfoot, who but our
venerable mallard jammed in by the joint of his
shoulder, speaking aloud as he rose and fell, with his
top-knot full of water, unable to comprehend it, with
his tail washed far away from him, but often compelled
to be silent, being ducked very harshly against his
will by the choking fall-to of the hurdle.

For a moment I could not help laughing, because, being
borne up high and dry by a tumult of the torrent, he
gave me a look from his one little eye (having lost one
in fight with the turkey-cock), a gaze of appealing
sorrow, and then a loud quack to second it. But the
quack came out of time, I suppose, for his throat got
filled with water, as the hurdle carried him back
again. And then there was scarcely the screw of his
tail to be seen until he swung up again, and left small
doubt by the way he sputtered, and failed to quack, and
hung down his poor crest, but what he must drown in
another minute, and frogs triumph over his body.

Annie was crying, and wringing her hands, and I was
about to rush into the water, although I liked not the
look of it, but hoped to hold on by the hurdle, when a
man on horseback came suddenly round the corner of the
great ash-hedge on the other side of the stream, and
his horse's feet were in the water.

'Ho, there,' he cried; 'get thee back, boy. The flood
will carry thee down like a straw. I will do it for
thee, and no trouble.'

With that he leaned forward, and spoke to his mare--she
was just of the tint of a strawberry, a young thing,
very beautiful--and she arched up her neck, as
misliking the job; yet, trusting him, would attempt it.
She entered the flood, with her dainty fore-legs
sloped further and further in front of her, and her
delicate ears pricked forward, and the size of her
great eyes increasing, but he kept her straight in the
turbid rush, by the pressure of his knee on her. Then
she looked back, and wondered at him, as the force of
the torrent grew stronger, but he bade her go on; and
on she went, and it foamed up over her shoulders; and
she tossed up her lip and scorned it, for now her
courage was waking. Then as the rush of it swept her
away, and she struck with her forefeet down the stream,
he leaned from his saddle in a manner which I never
could have thought possible, and caught up old Tom with
his left hand, and set him between his holsters, and
smiled at his faint quack of gratitude. In a moment
all these were carried downstream, and the rider lay
flat on his horse, and tossed the hurdle clear from
him, and made for the bend of smooth water.

They landed some thirty or forty yards lower, in the
midst of our kitchen-garden, where the winter-cabbage
was; but though Annie and I crept in through the hedge,
and were full of our thanks and admiring him, he would
answer us never a word, until he had spoken in full to
the mare, as if explaining the whole to her.

'Sweetheart, I know thou couldst have leaped it,' he
said, as he patted her cheek, being on the ground by
this time, and she was nudging up to him, with the
water pattering off her; 'but I had good reason, Winnie
dear, for making thee go through it.'

She answered him kindly with her soft eyes, and smiled
at him very lovingly, and they understood one another.
Then he took from his waistcoat two peppercorns, and
made the old drake swallow them, and tried him softly
upon his legs, where the leading gap in the hedge was.
Old Tom stood up quite bravely, and clapped his wings,
and shook off the wet from his tail-feathers; and then
away into the court-yard, and his family gathered
around him, and they all made a noise in their throats,
and stood up, and put their bills together, to thank
God for this great deliverance.

Having taken all this trouble, and watched the end of
that adventure, the gentleman turned round to us with a
pleasant smile on his face, as if he were lightly
amused with himself; and we came up and looked at him.
He was rather short, about John Fry's height, or may be
a little taller, but very strongly built and springy,
as his gait at every step showed plainly, although his
legs were bowed with much riding, and he looked as if
he lived on horseback. To a boy like me he seemed very
old, being over twenty, and well-found in beard; but he
was not more than four-and-twenty, fresh and ruddy
looking, with a short nose and keen blue eyes, and a
merry waggish jerk about him, as if the world were not
in earnest. Yet he had a sharp, stern way, like the
crack of a pistol, if anything misliked him; and we
knew (for children see such things) that it was safer
to tickle than buffet him.

'Well, young uns, what be gaping at?' He gave pretty
Annie a chuck on the chin, and took me all in without

'Your mare,' said I, standing stoutly up, being a tall
boy now; 'I never saw such a beauty, sir. Will you let
me have a ride of her?'

'Think thou couldst ride her, lad? She will have no
burden but mine. Thou couldst never ride her. Tut! I
would be loath to kill thee.'

'Ride her!' I cried with the bravest scorn, for she
looked so kind and gentle; 'there never was horse upon
Exmoor foaled, but I could tackle in half an hour.
Only I never ride upon saddle. Take them leathers off
of her.'

He looked at me with a dry little whistle, and thrust
his hands into his breeches-pockets, and so grinned
that I could not stand it. And Annie laid hold of me
in such a way that I was almost mad with her. And he
laughed, and approved her for doing so. And the worst
of all was--he said nothing.

'Get away, Annie, will you? Do you think I'm a fool,
good sir! Only trust me with her, and I will not
override her.'

'For that I will go bail, my son. She is liker to
override thee. But the ground is soft to fall upon,
after all this rain. Now come out into the yard, young
man, for the sake of your mother's cabbages. And the
mellow straw-bed will be softer for thee, since pride
must have its fall. I am thy mother's cousin, boy, and
am going up to house. Tom Faggus is my name, as
everybody knows; and this is my young mare, Winnie.'

What a fool I must have been not to know it at once!
Tom Faggus, the great highwayman, and his young
blood-mare, the strawberry! Already her fame was
noised abroad, nearly as much as her master's; and my
longing to ride her grew tenfold, but fear came at the
back of it. Not that I had the smallest fear of what
the mare could do to me, by fair play and
horse-trickery, but that the glory of sitting upon her
seemed to be too great for me; especially as there were
rumours abroad that she was not a mare after all, but a
witch. However, she looked like a filly all over, and
wonderfully beautiful, with her supple stride, and soft
slope of shoulder, and glossy coat beaded with water,
and prominent eyes full of docile fire. Whether this
came from her Eastern blood of the Arabs newly
imported, and whether the cream-colour, mixed with our
bay, led to that bright strawberry tint, is certainly
more than I can decide, being chiefly acquaint with
farm-horses. And these come of any colour and form;
you never can count what they will be, and are lucky to
get four legs to them.

Mr. Faggus gave his mare a wink, and she walked
demurely after him, a bright young thing, flowing over
with life, yet dropping her soul to a higher one, and
led by love to anything; as the manner is of females,
when they know what is the best for them. Then Winnie
trod lightly upon the straw, because it had soft muck
under it, and her delicate feet came back again.

'Up for it still, boy, be ye?' Tom Faggus stopped, and
the mare stopped there; and they looked at me

'Is she able to leap, sir? There is good take-off on
this side of the brook.'

Mr. Faggus laughed very quietly, turning round to
Winnie so that she might enter into it. And she, for
her part, seemed to know exactly where the fun lay.

'Good tumble-off, you mean, my boy. Well, there can be
small harm to thee. I am akin to thy family, and know
the substance of their skulls.'

'Let me get up,' said I, waxing wroth, for reasons I
cannot tell you, because they are too manifold; 'take
off your saddle-bag things. I will try not to squeeze
her ribs in, unless she plays nonsense with me.'

Then Mr. Faggus was up on his mettle, at this proud
speech of mine; and John Fry was running up all the
while, and Bill Dadds, and half a dozen. Tom Faggus
gave one glance around, and then dropped all regard for
me. The high repute of his mare was at stake, and what
was my life compared to it? Through my defiance, and
stupid ways, here was I in a duello, and my legs not
come to their strength yet, and my arms as limp as a

Something of this occurred to him even in his wrath
with me, for he spoke very softly to the filly, who now
could scarce subdue herself; but she drew in her
nostrils, and breathed to his breath and did all she
could to answer him.

'Not too hard, my dear,' he said: 'led him gently down
on the mixen. That will be quite enough.' Then he
turned the saddle off, and I was up in a moment. She
began at first so easily, and pricked her ears so
lovingly, and minced about as if pleased to find so
light a weight upon her, that I thought she knew I
could ride a little, and feared to show any capers.
'Gee wug, Polly!' cried I, for all the men were now
looking on, being then at the leaving-off time: 'Gee
wug, Polly, and show what thou be'est made of.' With
that I plugged my heels into her, and Billy Dadds flung
his hat up.

Nevertheless, she outraged not, though her eyes were
frightening Annie, and John Fry took a pick to keep him
safe; but she curbed to and fro with her strong
forearms rising like springs ingathered, waiting and
quivering grievously, and beginning to sweat about it.
Then her master gave a shrill clear whistle, when her
ears were bent towards him, and I felt her form beneath
me gathering up like whalebone, and her hind-legs
coming under her, and I knew that I was in for it.

First she reared upright in the air, and struck me full
on the nose with her comb, till I bled worse than Robin
Snell made me; and then down with her fore-feet deep in
the straw, and her hind-feet going to heaven. Finding
me stick to her still like wax, for my mettle was up as
hers was, away she flew with me swifter than ever I
went before, or since, I trow. She drove full-head at
the cobwall--'Oh, Jack, slip off,' screamed Annie--then
she turned like light, when I thought to crush her, and
ground my left knee against it. 'Mux me,' I cried, for
my breeches were broken, and short words went the
furthest--'if you kill me, you shall die with me.' Then
she took the court-yard gate at a leap, knocking my
words between my teeth, and then right over a quick set
hedge, as if the sky were a breath to her; and away for
the water-meadows, while I lay on her neck like a child
at the breast and wished I had never been born.
Straight away, all in the front of the wind, and
scattering clouds around her, all I knew of the speed
we made was the frightful flash of her shoulders, and
her mane like trees in a tempest. I felt the earth
under us rushing away, and the air left far behind us,
and my breath came and went, and I prayed to God, and
was sorry to be so late of it.

All the long swift while, without power of thought, I
clung to her crest and shoulders, and dug my nails into
her creases, and my toes into her flank-part, and was
proud of holding on so long, though sure of being
beaten. Then in her fury at feeling me still, she
rushed at another device for it, and leaped the wide
water-trough sideways across, to and fro, till no
breath was left in me. The hazel-boughs took me too
hard in the face, and the tall dog-briers got hold of
me, and the ache of my back was like crimping a fish;
till I longed to give up, thoroughly beaten, and lie
there and die in the cresses. But there came a shrill
whistle from up the home-hill, where the people had
hurried to watch us; and the mare stopped as if with a
bullet, then set off for home with the speed of a
swallow, and going as smoothly and silently. I never
had dreamed of such delicate motion, fluent, and
graceful, and ambient, soft as the breeze flitting over
the flowers, but swift as the summer lightning. I sat
up again, but my strength was all spent, and no time
left to recover it, and though she rose at our gate
like a bird, I tumbled off into the mixen.



'Well done, lad,' Mr. Faggus said good naturedly; for
all were now gathered round me, as I rose from the
ground, somewhat tottering, and miry, and crest-fallen,
but otherwise none the worse (having fallen upon my
head, which is of uncommon substance); nevertheless
John Fry was laughing, so that I longed to clout his
ears for him; 'Not at all bad work, my boy; we may
teach you to ride by-and-by, I see; I thought not to
see you stick on so long--'

'I should have stuck on much longer, sir, if her sides
had not been wet. She was so slippery--'-

'Boy, thou art right. She hath given many the slip.
Ha, ha! Vex not, Jack, that I laugh at thee. She is
like a sweetheart to me, and better, than any of them
be. It would have gone to my heart if thou hadst
conquered. None but I can ride my Winnie mare.'

'Foul shame to thee then, Tom Faggus,' cried mother,
coming up suddenly, and speaking so that all were
amazed, having never seen her wrathful; 'to put my boy,
my boy, across her, as if his life were no more than
thine! The only son of his father, an honest man, and a
quiet man, not a roystering drunken robber! A man would
have taken thy mad horse and thee, and flung them both
into horse-pond--ay, and what's more, I'll have it done
now, if a hair of his head is injured. Oh, my boy, my
boy! What could I do without thee? Put up the other
arm, Johnny.' All the time mother was scolding so, she
was feeling me, and wiping me; while Faggus tried to
look greatly ashamed, having sense of the ways of

'Only look at his jacket, mother!' cried Annie; 'and a
shillingsworth gone from his small-clothes!'

'What care I for his clothes, thou goose? Take that,
and heed thine own a bit.' And mother gave Annie a slap
which sent her swinging up against Mr. Faggus, and he
caught her, and kissed and protected her, and she
looked at him very nicely, with great tears in her soft
blue eyes. 'Oh, fie upon thee, fie upon thee!' cried
mother (being yet more vexed with him, because she had
beaten Annie); 'after all we have done for thee, and
saved thy worthless neck--and to try to kill my son for
me! Never more shall horse of thine enter stable here,
since these be thy returns to me. Small thanks to you,
John Fry, I say, and you Bill Dadds, and you Jem
Slocomb, and all the rest of your coward lot; much you
care for your master's son! Afraid of that ugly beast
yourselves, and you put a boy just breeched upon him!'

'Wull, missus, what could us do?' began John; 'Jan wudd
goo, now wudd't her, Jem? And how was us--'

'Jan indeed! Master John, if you please, to a lad of
his years and stature. And now, Tom Faggus, be off, if
you please, and think yourself lucky to go so; and if
ever that horse comes into our yard, I'll hamstring him
myself if none of my cowards dare do it.'

Everybody looked at mother, to hear her talk like that,
knowing how quiet she was day by day and how pleasant
to be cheated. And the men began to shoulder their
shovels, both so as to be away from her, and to go and
tell their wives of it. Winnie too was looking at her,
being pointed at so much, and wondering if she had done
amiss. And then she came to me, and trembled, and
stooped her head, and asked my pardon, if she had been
too proud with me.

'Winnie shall stop here to-night,' said I, for Tom
Faggus still said never a word all the while; but began
to buckle his things on, for he knew that women are to
be met with wool, as the cannon-balls were at the
siege of Tiverton Castle; 'mother, I tell you, Winnie
shall stop; else I will go away with her, I never knew
what it was, till now, to ride a horse worth riding.'

'Young man,' said Tom Faggus, still preparing sternly
to depart, 'you know more about a horse than any man on
Exmoor. Your mother may well be proud of you, but she
need have had no fear. As if I, Tom Faggus, your
father's cousin--and the only thing I am proud
of--would ever have let you mount my mare, which dukes
and princes have vainly sought, except for the courage
in your eyes, and the look of your father about you. I
knew you could ride when I saw you, and rarely you have
conquered. But women don't understand us. Good-bye,
John; I am proud of you, and I hoped to have done you
pleasure. And indeed I came full of some courtly
tales, that would have made your hair stand up. But
though not a crust have I tasted since this time
yesterday, having given my meat to a widow, I will go
and starve on the moor far sooner than eat the best
supper that ever was cooked, in a place that has
forgotten me.' With that he fetched a heavy sigh, as
if it had been for my father; and feebly got upon
Winnie's back, and she came to say farewell to me. He
lifted his hat to my mother, with a glance of sorrow,
but never a word; and to me he said, 'Open the gate,
Cousin John, if you please. You have beaten her so,

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