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

Part 5 out of 17

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line and all moving nimbly to the tune of my own tool,
than it was to set out in the morning alone, and hoe
half an acre by dinner-time. For, instead of keeping
the good ash moving, they would for ever be finding
something to look at or to speak of, or at any rate, to
stop with; blaming the shape of their tools perhaps, or
talking about other people's affairs; or, what was most
irksome of all to me, taking advantage as married men,
and whispering jokes of no excellence about my having,
or having not, or being ashamed of a sweetheart. And
this went so far at last that I was forced to take two
of them and knock their heads together; after which
they worked with a better will.

When we met together in the evening round the kitchen
chimney-place, after the men had had their supper and
their heavy boots were gone, my mother and Eliza would
do their very utmost to learn what I was thinking of.
Not that we kept any fire now, after the crock was
emptied; but that we loved to see the ashes cooling,
and to be together. At these times Annie would never
ask me any crafty questions (as Eliza did), but would
sit with her hair untwined, and one hand underneath her
chin, sometimes looking softly at me, as much as to say
that she knew it all and I was no worse off than she.
But strange to say my mother dreamed not, even for an
instant, that it was possible for Annie to be thinking
of such a thing. She was so very good and quiet, and
careful of the linen, and clever about the cookery and
fowls and bacon-curing, that people used to laugh, and
say she would never look at a bachelor until her mother
ordered her. But I (perhaps from my own condition and
the sense of what it was) felt no certainty about this,
and even had another opinion, as was said before.

Often I was much inclined to speak to her about it, and
put her on her guard against the approaches of Tom
Faggus; but I could not find how to begin, and feared
to make a breach between us; knowing that if her mind
was set, no words of mine would alter it; although they
needs must grieve her deeply. Moreover, I felt that,
in this case, a certain homely Devonshire proverb would
come home to me; that one, I mean, which records that
the crock was calling the kettle smutty. Not, of
course, that I compared my innocent maid to a
highwayman; but that Annie might think her worse, and
would be too apt to do so, if indeed she loved Tom
Faggus. And our Cousin Tom, by this time, was living a
quiet and godly life; having retired almost from the
trade (except when he needed excitement, or came across
public officers), and having won the esteem of all
whose purses were in his power.

Perhaps it is needless for me to say that all this time
while my month was running--or rather crawling, for
never month went so slow as that with me--neither weed,
nor seed, nor cattle, nor my own mother's anxiety, nor
any care for my sister, kept me from looking once every
day, and even twice on a Sunday, for any sign of Lorna.
For my heart was ever weary; in the budding valleys,
and by the crystal waters, looking at the lambs in
fold, or the heifers on the mill, labouring in trickled
furrows, or among the beaded blades; halting fresh to
see the sun lift over the golden-vapoured ridge; or
doffing hat, from sweat of brow, to watch him sink in
the low gray sea; be it as it would of day, of work, or
night, or slumber, it was a weary heart I bore, and
fear was on the brink of it.

All the beauty of the spring went for happy men to
think of; all the increase of the year was for other
eyes to mark. Not a sign of any sunrise for me from my
fount of life, not a breath to stir the dead leaves
fallen on my heart's Spring.



Although I had, for the most part, so very stout an
appetite, that none but mother saw any need of
encouraging me to eat, I could only manage one true
good meal in a day, at the time I speak of. Mother
was in despair at this, and tempted me with the whole
of the rack, and even talked of sending to Porlock for
a druggist who came there twice in a week; and Annie
spent all her time in cooking, and even Lizzie sang
songs to me; for she could sing very sweetly. But my
conscience told me that Betty Muxworthy had some reason
upon her side.

'Latt the young ozebird aloun, zay I. Makk zuch ado
about un, wi' hogs'-puddens, and hock-bits, and
lambs'-mate, and whaten bradd indade, and brewers' ale
avore dinner-time, and her not to zit wi' no winder
aupen--draive me mad 'e doo, the ov'ee, zuch a passel
of voouls. Do 'un good to starve a bit; and takk zome
on's wackedness out ov un.'

But mother did not see it so; and she even sent for
Nicholas Snowe to bring his three daughters with him,
and have ale and cake in the parlour, and advise about
what the bees were doing, and when a swarm might be
looked for. Being vexed about this and having to stop
at home nearly half the evening, I lost good manners so
much as to ask him (even in our own house!) what he
meant by not mending the swing-hurdle where the Lynn
stream flows from our land into his, and which he is
bound to maintain. But he looked at me in a superior
manner, and said, 'Business, young man, in business

I had other reason for being vexed with Farmer Nicholas
just now, viz. that I had heard a rumour, after church
one Sunday--when most of all we sorrow over the sins of
one another--that Master Nicholas Snowe had been seen
to gaze tenderly at my mother, during a passage of the
sermon, wherein the parson spoke well and warmly about
the duty of Christian love. Now, putting one thing
with another, about the bees, and about some ducks, and
a bullock with a broken knee-cap, I more than suspected
that Farmer Nicholas was casting sheep's eyes at my
mother; not only to save all further trouble in the
matter of the hurdle, but to override me altogether
upon the difficult question of damming. And I knew
quite well that John Fry's wife never came to help at
the washing without declaring that it was a sin for a
well-looking woman like mother, with plenty to live on,
and only three children, to keep all the farmers for
miles around so unsettled in their minds about her.
Mother used to answer 'Oh fie, Mistress Fry! be good
enough to mind your own business.' But we always saw
that she smoothed her apron, and did her hair up
afterwards, and that Mistress Fry went home at night
with a cold pig's foot or a bowl of dripping.

Therefore, on that very night, as I could not well
speak to mother about it, without seeming undutiful,
after lighting the three young ladies--for so in sooth
they called themselves--all the way home with our
stable-lanthorn, I begged good leave of Farmer Nicholas
(who had hung some way behind us) to say a word in
private to him, before he entered his own house.

'Wi' all the plaisure in laife, my zon,' he answered
very graciously, thinking perhaps that I was prepared
to speak concerning Sally.

'Now, Farmer Nicholas Snowe,' I said, scarce knowing
how to begin it, 'you must promise not to be vexed with
me, for what I am going to say to you.'

'Vaxed wi' thee! Noo, noo, my lad. I 'ave a knowed
thee too long for that. And thy veyther were my best
friend, afore thee. Never wronged his neighbours,
never spak an unkind word, never had no maneness in
him. Tuk a vancy to a nice young 'ooman, and never kep
her in doubt about it, though there wadn't mooch to
zettle on her. Spak his maind laike a man, he did, and
right happy he were wi' her. Ah, well a day! Ah, God
knoweth best. I never shall zee his laike again. And
he were the best judge of a dung-heap anywhere in this

'Well, Master Snowe,' I answered him, 'it is very
handsome of you to say so. And now I am going to be
like my father, I am going to speak my mind.'

'Raight there, lad; raight enough, I reckon. Us has
had enough of pralimbinary.'

'Then what I want to say is this--I won't have any one
courting my mother.'

'Coortin' of thy mother, lad?' cried Farmer Snowe, with
as much amazement as if the thing were impossible;
'why, who ever hath been dooin' of it?'

'Yes, courting of my mother, sir. And you know best
who comes doing it.'

'Wull, wull! What will boys be up to next? Zhud a'
thought herzelf wor the proper judge. No thank 'ee,
lad, no need of thy light. Know the wai to my own
door, at laste; and have a raight to goo there.' And he
shut me out without so much as offering me a drink of

The next afternoon, when work was over, I had seen to
the horses, for now it was foolish to trust John Fry,
because he had so many children, and his wife had taken
to scolding; and just as I was saying to myself that in
five days more my month would be done, and myself free
to seek Lorna, a man came riding up from the ford where
the road goes through the Lynn stream. As soon as I
saw that it was not Tom Faggus, I went no farther to
meet him, counting that it must be some traveller bound
for Brendon or Cheriton, and likely enough he would
come and beg for a draught of milk or cider; and then
on again, after asking the way.

But instead of that, he stopped at our gate, and stood
up from his saddle, and halloed as if he were somebody;
and all the time he was flourishing a white thing in
the air, like the bands our parson weareth. So I
crossed the court-yard to speak with him.

'Service of the King!' he saith; 'service of our lord
the King! Come hither, thou great yokel, at risk of
fine and imprisonment.'

Although not pleased with this, I went to him, as
became a loyal man; quite at my leisure, however, for
there is no man born who can hurry me, though I hasten
for any woman.

'Plover Barrows farm!' said he; 'God only knows how
tired I be. Is there any where in this cursed county
a cursed place called Plover Barrows farm? For last
twenty mile at least they told me 'twere only half a
mile farther, or only just round corner. Now tell me
that, and I fain would thwack thee if thou wert not
thrice my size.'

'Sir,' I replied, 'you shall not have the trouble.
This is Plover's Barrows farm, and you are kindly
welcome. Sheep's kidneys is for supper, and the ale
got bright from the tapping. But why do you think ill
of us? We like not to be cursed so.'

'Nay, I think no ill,' he said; 'sheep's kidneys is
good, uncommon good, if they do them without burning.
But I be so galled in the saddle ten days, and never a
comely meal of it. And when they hear "King's service"
cried, they give me the worst of everything. All the
way down from London, I had a rogue of a fellow in
front of me, eating the fat of the land before me, and
every one bowing down to him. He could go three miles
to my one though he never changed his horse. He might
have robbed me at any minute, if I had been worth the
trouble. A red mare he rideth, strong in the loins,
and pointed quite small in the head. I shall live to
see him hanged yet.'

All this time he was riding across the straw of our
courtyard, getting his weary legs out of the leathers,
and almost afraid to stand yet. A coarse-grained,
hard-faced man he was, some forty years of age or so,
and of middle height and stature. He was dressed in a
dark brown riding suit, none the better for Exmoor mud,
but fitting him very differently from the fashion of
our tailors. Across the holsters lay his cloak, made
of some red skin, and shining from the sweating of the
horse. As I looked down on his stiff bright
head-piece, small quick eyes and black needly beard, he
seemed to despise me (too much, as I thought) for a
mere ignoramus and country bumpkin.

'Annie, have down the cut ham,' I shouted, for my
sister was come to the door by chance, or because of
the sound of a horse in the road, 'and cut a few
rashers of hung deer's meat. There is a gentleman come
to sup, Annie. And fetch the hops out of the tap with
a skewer that it may run more sparkling.'

'I wish I may go to a place never meant for me,' said
my new friend, now wiping his mouth with the sleeve of
his brown riding coat, 'if ever I fell among such good
folk. You are the right sort, and no error therein.
All this shall go in your favour greatly, when I make
deposition. At least, I mean, if it be as good in the
eating as in the hearing. 'Tis a supper quite fit for
Tom Faggus himself, the man who hath stolen my victuals
so. And that hung deer's meat, now is it of the red
deer running wild in these parts?'

'To be sure it is, sir,' I answered; 'where should we
get any other?'

'Right, right, you are right, my son. I have heard
that the flavour is marvellous. Some of them came and
scared me so, in the fog of the morning, that I
hungered for them ever since. Ha, ha, I saw their
haunches. But the young lady will not forget--art sure
she will not forget it?'

'You may trust her to forget nothing, sir, that may
tempt a guest to his comfort.'

'In faith, then, I will leave my horse in your hands,
and be off for it. Half the pleasure of the mouth is
in the nose beforehand. But stay, almost I forgot my
business, in the hurry which thy tongue hath spread
through my lately despairing belly. Hungry I am, and
sore of body, from my heels right upward, and sorest in
front of my doublet, yet may I not rest nor bite
barley-bread, until I have seen and touched John Ridd.
God grant that he be not far away; I must eat my
saddle, if it be so.'

'Have no fear, good sir,' I answered; 'you have seen
and touched John Ridd. I am he, and not one likely to
go beneath a bushel.'

'It would take a large bushel to hold thee, John Ridd.
In the name of the King, His Majesty, Charles the
Second, these presents!'

He touched me with the white thing which I had first
seen him waving, and which I now beheld to be
sheepskin, such as they call parchment. It was tied
across with cord, and fastened down in every corner
with unsightly dabs of wax. By order of the messenger
(for I was over-frightened now to think of doing
anything), I broke enough of seals to keep an Easter
ghost from rising; and there I saw my name in large;
God grant such another shock may never befall me in my
old age.

'Read, my son; read, thou great fool, if indeed thou
canst read,' said the officer to encourage me; 'there
is nothing to kill thee, boy, and my supper will be
spoiling. Stare not at me so, thou fool; thou art big
enough to eat me; read, read, read.'

'If you please, sir, what is your name?' I asked;
though why I asked him I know not, except from fear of

'Jeremy Stickles is my name, lad, nothing more than a
poor apparitor of the worshipful Court of King's Bench.
And at this moment a starving one, and no supper for me
unless thou wilt read.'

Being compelled in this way, I read pretty nigh as
follows; not that I give the whole of it, but only the
gist and the emphasis,--

'To our good subject, John Ridd, etc.'--describing me
ever so much better than I knew myself--'by these
presents, greeting. These are to require thee, in the
name of our lord the King, to appear in person before
the Right Worshipful, the Justices of His Majesty's
Bench at Westminster, laying aside all thine own
business, and there to deliver such evidence as is
within thy cognisance, touching certain matters whereby
the peace of our said lord the King, and the well-being
of this realm, is, are, or otherwise may be impeached,
impugned, imperilled, or otherwise detrimented. As
witness these presents.' And then there were four
seals, and then a signature I could not make out, only
that it began with a J, and ended with some other
writing, done almost in a circle. Underneath was added
in a different handwriting 'Charges will be borne. The
matter is full urgent.'

The messenger watched me, while I read so much as I
could read of it; and he seemed well pleased with my
surprise, because he had expected it. Then, not
knowing what else to do, I looked again at the cover,
and on the top of it I saw, 'Ride, Ride, Ride! On His
Gracious Majesty's business; spur and spare not.'

It may be supposed by all who know me, that I was taken
hereupon with such a giddiness in my head and noisiness
in my ears, that I was forced to hold by the crook
driven in below the thatch for holding of the
hay-rakes. There was scarcely any sense left in me,
only that the thing was come by power of Mother
Melldrum, because I despised her warning, and had again
sought Lorna. But the officer was grieved for me, and
the danger to his supper.

'My son, be not afraid,' he said; 'we are not going to
skin thee. Only thou tell all the truth, and it shall
be--but never mind, I will tell thee all about it, and
how to come out harmless, if I find thy victuals good,
and no delay in serving them.'

'We do our best, sir, without bargain,' said I, 'to
please our visitors.'

But when my mother saw that parchment (for we could not
keep it from her) she fell away into her favourite bed
of stock gilly-flowers, which she had been tending;
and when we brought her round again, did nothing but
exclaim against the wickedness of the age and people.
'It was useless to tell her; she knew what it was, and
so should all the parish know. The King had heard what
her son was, how sober, and quiet, and diligent, and
the strongest young man in England; and being himself
such a reprobate--God forgive her for saying so--he
could never rest till he got poor Johnny, and made him
as dissolute as himself. And if he did that'--here
mother went off into a fit of crying; and Annie minded
her face, while Lizzie saw that her gown was in comely

But the character of the King improved, when Master
Jeremy Stickles (being really moved by the look of it,
and no bad man after all) laid it clearly before my
mother that the King on his throne was unhappy, until
he had seen John Ridd. That the fame of John had gone
so far, and his size, and all his virtues--that verily
by the God who made him, the King was overcome with it.

Then mother lay back in her garden chair, and smiled
upon the whole of us, and most of all on Jeremy;
looking only shyly on me, and speaking through some
break of tears. 'His Majesty shall have my John; His
Majesty is very good: but only for a fortnight. I want
no titles for him. Johnny is enough for me; and Master
John for the working men.'

Now though my mother was so willing that I should go to
London, expecting great promotion and high glory for
me, I myself was deeply gone into the pit of sorrow.
For what would Lorna think of me? Here was the long
month just expired, after worlds of waiting; there
would be her lovely self, peeping softly down the glen,
and fearing to encourage me; yet there would be nobody
else, and what an insult to her! Dwelling upon this,
and seeing no chance of escape from it, I could not
find one wink of sleep; though Jeremy Stickles (who
slept close by) snored loud enough to spare me some.
For I felt myself to be, as it were, in a place of some
importance; in a situation of trust, I may say; and
bound not to depart from it. For who could tell what
the King might have to say to me about the Doones--and
I felt that they were at the bottom of this strange
appearance--or what His Majesty might think, if after
receiving a message from him (trusty under so many
seals) I were to violate his faith in me as a
churchwarden's son, and falsely spread his words

Perhaps I was not wise in building such a wall of
scruples. Nevertheless, all that was there, and
weighed upon me heavily. And at last I made up my
mind to this, that even Lorna must not know the reason
of my going, neither anything about it; but that she
might know I was gone a long way from home, and perhaps
be sorry for it. Now how was I to let her know even
that much of the matter, without breaking compact?

Puzzling on this, I fell asleep, after the proper time
to get up; nor was I to be seen at breakfast time; and
mother (being quite strange to that) was very uneasy
about it. But Master Stickles assured her that the
King's writ often had that effect, and the symptom was
a good one.

'Now, Master Stickles, when must we start?' I asked
him, as he lounged in the yard gazing at our turkey
poults picking and running in the sun to the tune of
their father's gobble. 'Your horse was greatly
foundered, sir, and is hardly fit for the road to-day;
and Smiler was sledding yesterday all up the higher
Cleve; and none of the rest can carry me.'

'In a few more years,' replied the King's officer,
contemplating me with much satisfaction; ''twill be a
cruelty to any horse to put thee on his back, John.'

Master Stickles, by this time, was quite familiar with
us, calling me 'Jack,' and Eliza 'Lizzie,' and what I
liked the least of all, our pretty Annie 'Nancy.'

'That will be as God pleases, sir,' I answered him,
rather sharply; 'and the horse that suffers will not be
thine. But I wish to know when we must start upon our
long travel to London town. I perceive that the matter
is of great despatch and urgency.'

'To be sure, so it is, my son. But I see a yearling
turkey there, him I mean with the hop in his walk, who
(if I know aught of fowls) would roast well to-morrow.
Thy mother must have preparation: it is no more than
reasonable. Now, have that turkey killed to-night (for
his fatness makes me long for him), and we will have
him for dinner to-morrow, with, perhaps, one of his
brethren; and a few more collops of red deer's flesh
for supper, and then on the Friday morning, with the
grace of God, we will set our faces to the road, upon
His Majesty's business.'

'Nay, but good sir,' I asked with some trembling, so
eager was I to see Lorna; 'if His Majesty's business
will keep till Friday, may it not keep until Monday?
We have a litter of sucking-pigs, excellently choice
and white, six weeks old, come Friday. There be too
many for the sow, and one of them needeth roasting.
Think you not it would be a pity to leave the women to
carve it?'

'My son Jack,' replied Master Stickles, 'never was I in
such quarters yet: and God forbid that I should be so
unthankful to Him as to hurry away. And now I think on
it, Friday is not a day upon which pious people love to
commence an enterprise. I will choose the young pig
to-morrow at noon, at which time they are wont to
gambol; and we will celebrate his birthday by carving
him on Friday. After that we will gird our loins, and
set forth early on Saturday.'

Now this was little better to me than if we had set
forth at once. Sunday being the very first day upon
which it would be honourable for me to enter Glen
Doone. But though I tried every possible means with
Master Jeremy Stickles, offering him the choice for
dinner of every beast that was on the farm, he durst
not put off our departure later than the Saturday. And
nothing else but love of us and of our hospitality
would have so persuaded him to remain with us till
then. Therefore now my only chance of seeing Lorna,
before I went, lay in watching from the cliff and
espying her, or a signal from her.

This, however, I did in vain, until my eyes were weary
and often would delude themselves with hope of what
they ached for. But though I lay hidden behind the
trees upon the crest of the stony fall, and waited so
quiet that the rabbits and squirrels played around me,
and even the keen-eyed weasel took me for a trunk of
wood--it was all as one; no cast of colour changed the
white stone, whose whiteness now was hateful to me; nor
did wreath or skirt of maiden break the loneliness of
the vale.



A journey to London seemed to us in those bygone days
as hazardous and dark an adventure as could be forced
on any man. I mean, of course, a poor man; for to a
great nobleman, with ever so many outriders,
attendants, and retainers, the risk was not so great,
unless the highwaymen knew of their coming beforehand,
and so combined against them. To a poor man, however,
the risk was not so much from those gentlemen of the
road as from the more ignoble footpads, and the
landlords of the lesser hostels, and the loose
unguarded soldiers, over and above the pitfalls and the
quagmires of the way; so that it was hard to settle, at
the first outgoing whether a man were wise to pray more
for his neck or for his head.

But nowadays it is very different. Not that
highway-men are scarce, in this the reign of our good
Queen Anne; for in truth they thrive as well as ever,
albeit they deserve it not, being less upright and
courteous--but that the roads are much improved, and
the growing use of stage-waggons (some of which will
travel as much as forty miles in a summer day) has
turned our ancient ideas of distance almost upside
down; and I doubt whether God be pleased with our
flying so fast away from Him. However, that is not my
business; nor does it lie in my mouth to speak very
strongly upon the subject, seeing how much I myself
have done towards making of roads upon Exmoor.

To return to my story (and, in truth, I lose that road
too often), it would have taken ten King's messengers
to get me away from Plover's Barrows without one
goodbye to Lorna, but for my sense of the trust and
reliance which His Majesty had reposed in me. And now
I felt most bitterly how the very arrangements which
seemed so wise, and indeed ingenious, may by the force
of events become our most fatal obstacles. For lo! I
was blocked entirely from going to see Lorna; whereas
we should have fixed it so that I as well might have
the power of signalling my necessity.

It was too late now to think of that; and so I made up
my mind at last to keep my honour on both sides, both
to the King and to the maiden, although I might lose
everything except a heavy heart for it. And indeed,
more hearts than mine were heavy; for when it came to
the tug of parting, my mother was like, and so was
Annie, to break down altogether. But I bade them be of
good cheer, and smiled in the briskest manner upon
them, and said that I should be back next week as one
of His Majesty's greatest captains, and told them not
to fear me then. Upon which they smiled at the idea of
ever being afraid of me, whatever dress I might have
on; and so I kissed my hand once more, and rode away
very bravely. But bless your heart, I could no more
have done so than flown all the way to London if Jeremy
Stickles had not been there.

And not to take too much credit to myself in this
matter, I must confess that when we were come to the
turn in the road where the moor begins, and whence you
see the last of the yard, and the ricks and the poultry
round them and can (by knowing the place) obtain a
glance of the kitchen window under the walnut-tree, it
went so hard with me just here that I even made
pretence of a stone in ancient Smiler's shoe, to
dismount, and to bend my head awhile. Then, knowing
that those I had left behind would be watching to see
the last of me, and might have false hopes of my coming
back, I mounted again with all possible courage, and
rode after Jeremy Stickles.

Jeremy, seeing how much I was down, did his best to
keep me up with jokes, and tales, and light discourse,
until, before we had ridden a league, I began to long
to see the things he was describing. The air, the
weather, and the thoughts of going to a wondrous place,
added to the fine company--at least so Jeremy said it
was--of a man who knew all London, made me feel that I
should be ungracious not to laugh a little. And being
very simple then I laughed no more a little, but
something quite considerable (though free from
consideration) at the strange things Master Stickles
told me, and his strange way of telling them. And so
we became very excellent friends, for he was much
pleased with my laughing.

Not wishing to thrust myself more forward than need be
in this narrative, I have scarcely thought it becoming
or right to speak of my own adornments. But now, what
with the brave clothes I had on, and the better ones
still that were packed up in the bag behind the saddle,
it is almost beyond me to forbear saying that I must
have looked very pleasing. And many a time I wished,
going along, that Lorna could only be here and there,
watching behind a furze-bush, looking at me, and
wondering how much my clothes had cost. For mother
would have no stint in the matter, but had assembled at
our house, immediately upon knowledge of what was to be
about London, every man known to be a good stitcher
upon our side of Exmoor. And for three days they had
worked their best, without stint of beer or cider,
according to the constitution of each. The result, so
they all declared, was such as to create admiration,
and defy competition in London. And to me it seemed
that they were quite right; though Jeremy Stickles
turned up his nose, and feigned to be deaf in the

Now be that matter as you please--for the point is not
worth arguing--certain it is that my appearance was
better than it had been before. For being in the best
clothes, one tries to look and to act (so far as may
be) up to the quality of them. Not only for the fear
of soiling them, but that they enlarge a man's
perception of his value. And it strikes me that our
sins arise, partly from disdain of others, but mainly
from contempt of self, both working the despite of God.
But men of mind may not be measured by such paltry rule
as this.

By dinner-time we arrived at Porlock, and dined with my
old friend, Master Pooke, now growing rich and portly.
For though we had plenty of victuals with us we were
not to begin upon them, until all chance of victualling
among our friends was left behind. And during that
first day we had no need to meddle with our store at
all; for as had been settled before we left home, we
lay that night at Dunster in the house of a worthy
tanner, first cousin to my mother, who received us very
cordially, and undertook to return old Smiler to his
stable at Plover's Barrows, after one day's rest.

Thence we hired to Bridgwater; and from Bridgwater on
to Bristowe, breaking the journey between the two. But
although the whole way was so new to me, and such a
perpetual source of conflict, that the remembrance
still abides with me, as if it were but yesterday, I
must not be so long in telling as it was in travelling,
or you will wish me farther; both because Lorna was
nothing there, and also because a man in our
neighbourhood had done the whole of it since my time,
and feigns to think nothing of it. However, one thing,
in common justice to a person who has been traduced, I
am bound to mention. And this is, that being two of
us, and myself of such magnitude, we never could have
made our journey without either fight or running, but
for the free pass which dear Annie, by some means (I
know not what), had procured from Master Faggus. And
when I let it be known, by some hap, that I was the own
cousin of Tom Faggus, and honoured with his society,
there was not a house upon the road but was proud to
entertain me, in spite of my fellow-traveller, bearing
the red badge of the King.

'I will keep this close, my son Jack,' he said, having
stripped it off with a carving-knife; 'your flag is the
best to fly. The man who starved me on the way down,
the same shall feed me fat going home.'

Therefore we pursued our way, in excellent condition,
having thriven upon the credit of that very popular
highwayman, and being surrounded with regrets that he
had left the profession, and sometimes begged to
intercede that he might help the road again. For all
the landlords on the road declared that now small ale
was drunk, nor much of spirits called for, because the
farmers need not prime to meet only common riders,
neither were these worth the while to get drunk with
afterwards. Master Stickles himself undertook, as an
officer of the King's Justices to plead this case with
Squire Faggus (as everybody called him now), and to
induce him, for the general good, to return to his
proper ministry.

It was a long and weary journey, although the roads are
wondrous good on the farther side of Bristowe, and
scarcely any man need be bogged, if he keeps his eyes
well open, save, perhaps, in Berkshire. In consequence
of the pass we had, and the vintner's knowledge of it,
we only met two public riders, one of whom made off
straightway when he saw my companion's pistols and the
stout carbine I bore; and the other came to a parley
with us, and proved most kind and affable, when he knew
himself in the presence of the cousin of Squire Faggus.
'God save you, gentlemen,' he cried, lifting his hat
politely; 'many and many a happy day I have worked this
road with him. Such times will never be again. But
commend me to his love and prayers. King my name is,
and King my nature. Say that, and none will harm
you.' And so he made off down the hill, being a perfect
gentleman, and a very good horse he was riding.

The night was falling very thick by the time we were
come to Tyburn, and here the King's officer decided
that it would be wise to halt, because the way was
unsafe by night across the fields to Charing village.
I for my part was nothing loth, and preferred to see
London by daylight.

And after all, it was not worth seeing, but a very
hideous and dirty place, not at all like Exmoor. Some
of the shops were very fine, and the signs above them
finer still, so that I was never weary of standing
still to look at them. But in doing this there was no
ease; for before one could begin almost to make out the
meaning of them, either some of the wayfarers would
bustle and scowl, and draw their swords, or the owner,
or his apprentice boys, would rush out and catch hold
of me, crying, 'Buy, buy, buy! What d'ye lack, what
d'ye lack? Buy, buy, buy!' At first I mistook the
meaning of this--for so we pronounce the word 'boy'
upon Exmoor--and I answered with some indignation,
'Sirrah, I am no boy now, but a man of one-and-twenty
years; and as for lacking, I lack naught from thee,
except what thou hast not--good manners.'

The only things that pleased me much, were the river
Thames, and the hall and church of Westminster, where
there are brave things to be seen, and braver still to
think about. But whenever I wandered in the streets,
what with the noise the people made, the number of the
coaches, the running of the footmen, the swaggering of
great courtiers, and the thrusting aside of everybody,
many and many a time I longed to be back among the
sheep again, for fear of losing temper. They were
welcome to the wall for me, as I took care to tell
them, for I could stand without the wall, which perhaps
was more than they could do. Though I said this with
the best intention, meaning no discourtesy, some of
them were vexed at it; and one young lord, being
flushed with drink, drew his sword and made at me. But
I struck it up with my holly stick, so that it flew on
the roof of a house, then I took him by the belt with
one hand, and laid him in the kennel. This caused some
little disturbance; but none of the rest saw fit to try
how the matter might be with them.

Now this being the year of our Lord 1683, more than
nine years and a half since the death of my father, and
the beginning of this history, all London was in a
great ferment about the dispute between the Court of
the King and the City. The King, or rather perhaps his
party (for they said that His Majesty cared for little
except to have plenty of money and spend it), was quite
resolved to be supreme in the appointment of the chief
officers of the corporation. But the citizens
maintained that (under their charter) this right lay
entirely with themselves; upon which a writ was issued
against them for forfeiture of their charter; and the
question was now being tried in the court of His
Majesty's bench.

This seemed to occupy all the attention of the judges,
and my case (which had appeared so urgent) was put off
from time to time, while the Court and the City
contended. And so hot was the conflict and hate
between them, that a sheriff had been fined by the King
in 100,000 pounds, and a former lord mayor had even
been sentenced to the pillory, because he would not
swear falsely. Hence the courtiers and the citizens
scarce could meet in the streets with patience, or
without railing and frequent blows.

Now although I heard so much of this matter, for
nothing else was talked of, and it seeming to me more
important even than the churchwardenship of Oare, I
could not for the life of me tell which side I should
take to. For all my sense of position, and of
confidence reposed in me, and of my father's opinions,
lay heavily in one scale, while all my reason and my
heart went down plump against injustice, and seemed to
win the other scale. Even so my father had been, at
the breaking out of the civil war, when he was less
than my age now, and even less skilled in politics; and
my mother told me after this, when she saw how I myself
was doubting, and vexed with myself for doing so, that
my father used to thank God often that he had not been
called upon to take one side or other, but might remain
obscure and quiet. And yet he always considered
himself to be a good, sound Royalist.

But now as I stayed there, only desirous to be heard
and to get away, and scarcely even guessing yet what
was wanted of me (for even Jeremy Stickles knew not, or
pretended not to know), things came to a dreadful pass
between the King and all the people who dared to have
an opinion. For about the middle of June, the judges
gave their sentence, that the City of London had
forfeited its charter, and that its franchise should be
taken into the hands of the King. Scarcely was this
judgment forth, and all men hotly talking of it, when a
far worse thing befell. News of some great conspiracy
was spread at every corner, and that a man in the
malting business had tried to take up the brewer's
work, and lop the King and the Duke of York. Everybody
was shocked at this, for the King himself was not
disliked so much as his advisers; but everybody was
more than shocked, grieved indeed to the heart with
pain, at hearing that Lord William Russell and Mr.
Algernon Sidney had been seized and sent to the Tower
of London, upon a charge of high treason.

Having no knowledge of these great men, nor of the
matter how far it was true, I had not very much to say
about either of them or it; but this silence was not
shared (although the ignorance may have been) by the
hundreds of people around me. Such a commotion was
astir, such universal sense of wrong, and stern resolve
to right it, that each man grasped his fellow's hand,
and led him into the vintner's. Even I, although at
that time given to excess in temperance, and afraid of
the name of cordials, was hard set (I do assure you)
not to be drunk at intervals without coarse

However, that (as Betty Muxworthy used to say, when
argued down, and ready to take the mop for it) is
neither here nor there. I have naught to do with great
history and am sorry for those who have to write it;
because they are sure to have both friends and enemies
in it, and cannot act as they would towards them,
without damage to their own consciences.

But as great events draw little ones, and the rattle of
the churn decides the uncertainty of the flies, so this
movement of the town, and eloquence, and passion had
more than I guessed at the time, to do with my own
little fortunes. For in the first place it was fixed
(perhaps from down right contumely, because the
citizens loved him so) that Lord Russell should be
tried neither at Westminster nor at Lincoln's Inn, but
at the Court of Old Bailey, within the precincts of the
city. This kept me hanging on much longer; because
although the good nobleman was to be tried by the Court
of Common Pleas, yet the officers of King's Bench, to
whom I daily applied myself, were in counsel with their
fellows, and put me off from day to day.

Now I had heard of the law's delays, which the greatest
of all great poets (knowing much of the law himself, as
indeed of everything) has specially mentioned, when not
expected, among the many ills of life. But I never
thought at my years to have such bitter experience of
the evil; and it seemed to me that if the lawyers
failed to do their duty, they ought to pay people for
waiting upon them, instead of making them pay for it.
But here I was, now in the second month living at my
own charges in the house of a worthy fellmonger at the
sign of the Seal and Squirrel, abutting upon the Strand
road which leads from Temple Bar to Charing. Here I
did very well indeed, having a mattress of good
skin-dressings, and plenty to eat every day of my life,
but the butter was something to cry 'but' thrice at
(according to a conceit of our school days), and the
milk must have come from cows driven to water.
However, these evils were light compared with the heavy
bill sent up to me every Saturday afternoon; and
knowing how my mother had pinched to send me nobly to
London, and had told me to spare for nothing, but live
bravely with the best of them, the tears very nearly
came into my eyes, as I thought, while I ate, of so
robbing her.

At length, being quite at the end of my money, and
seeing no other help for it, I determined to listen to
clerks no more, but force my way up to the Justices,
and insist upon being heard by them, or discharged from
my recognisance. For so they had termed the bond or
deed which I had been forced to execute, in the
presence of a chief clerk or notary, the very day after
I came to London. And the purport of it was, that on
pain of a heavy fine or escheatment, I would hold
myself ready and present, to give evidence when called
upon. Having delivered me up to sign this, Jeremy
Stickles was quit of me, and went upon other business,
not but what he was kind and good to me, when his time
and pursuits allowed of it.



Having seen Lord Russell murdered in the fields of
Lincoln's Inn, or rather having gone to see it, but
turned away with a sickness and a bitter flood of
tears--for a whiter and a nobler neck never fell before
low beast--I strode away towards Westminster, cured of
half my indignation at the death of Charles the First.
Many people hurried past me, chiefly of the more tender
sort, revolting at the butchery. In their ghastly
faces, as they turned them back, lest the sight should
be coming after them, great sorrow was to be seen, and
horror, and pity, and some anger.

In Westminster Hall I found nobody; not even the crowd
of crawling varlets, who used to be craving evermore
for employment or for payment. I knocked at three
doors, one after other, of lobbies going out of it,
where I had formerly seen some officers and people
pressing in and out, but for my trouble I took nothing,
except some thumps from echo. And at last an old man
told me that all the lawyers were gone to see the
result of their own works, in the fields of Lincoln's

However, in a few days' time, I had better fortune; for
the court was sitting and full of business, to clear
off the arrears of work, before the lawyers' holiday.
As I was waiting in the hall for a good occasion, a man
with horsehair on his head, and a long blue bag in his
left hand, touched me gently on the arm, and led me
into a quiet place. I followed him very gladly, being
confident that he came to me with a message from the
Justiciaries. But after taking pains to be sure that
none could overhear us, he turned on me suddenly, and

'Now, John, how is your dear mother?'

'Worshipful sir' I answered him, after recovering from
my surprise at his knowledge of our affairs, and kindly
interest in them, 'it is two months now since I have
seen her. Would to God that I only knew how she is
faring now, and how the business of the farm goes!'

'Sir, I respect and admire you,' the old gentleman
replied, with a bow very low and genteel; 'few young
court-gallants of our time are so reverent and dutiful.
Oh, how I did love my mother!' Here he turned up his
eyes to heaven, in a manner that made me feel for him
and yet with a kind of wonder.

'I am very sorry for you, sir,' I answered most
respectfully, not meaning to trespass on his grief, yet
wondering at his mother's age; for he seemed to be at
least threescore; 'but I am no court-gallant, sir; I
am only a farmer's son, and learning how to farm a

'Enough, John; quite enough,' he cried, 'I can read it
in thy countenance. Honesty is written there, and
courage and simplicity. But I fear that, in this town
of London, thou art apt to be taken in by people of no
principle. Ah me! Ah me! The world is bad, and I am
too old to improve it.'

Then finding him so good and kind, and anxious to
improve the age, I told him almost everything; how much
I paid the fellmonger, and all the things I had been to
see; and how I longed to get away, before the corn was
ripening; yet how (despite of these desires) I felt
myself bound to walk up and down, being under a thing
called 'recognisance.' In short, I told him everything;
except the nature of my summons (which I had no right
to tell), and that I was out of money.

My tale was told in a little archway, apart from other
lawyers; and the other lawyers seemed to me to shift
themselves, and to look askew, like sheep through a
hurdle, when the rest are feeding.

'What! Good God!' my lawyer cried, smiting his breast
indignantly with a roll of something learned; 'in what
country do we live? Under what laws are we governed?
No case before the court whatever; no primary
deposition, so far as we are furnished; not even a
King's writ issued--and here we have a fine young man
dragged from his home and adoring mother, during the
height of agriculture, at his own cost and charges! I
have heard of many grievances; but this the very worst
of all. Nothing short of a Royal Commission could be
warranty for it. This is not only illegal, sir, but
most gravely unconstitutional.'

'I had not told you, worthy sir,' I answered him, in a
lower tone, 'if I could have thought that your sense of
right would be moved so painfully. But now I must beg
to leave you, sir--for I see that the door again is
open. I beg you, worshipful sir, to accept--'

Upon this he put forth his hand and said, 'Nay, nay, my
son, not two, not two:' yet looking away, that he might
not scare me.

'To accept, kind sir, my very best thanks, and most
respectful remembrances.' And with that, I laid my hand
in his. 'And if, sir, any circumstances of business or
of pleasure should bring you to our part of the world,
I trust you will not forget that my mother and myself
(if ever I get home again) will do our best to make you
comfortable with our poor hospitality.'

With this I was hasting away from him, but he held my
hand and looked round at me. And he spoke without

'Young man, a general invitation is no entry for my fee
book. I have spent a good hour of business-time in
mastering thy case, and stating my opinion of it. And
being a member of the bar, called six-and-thirty years
agone by the honourable society of the Inner Temple, my
fee is at my own discretion; albeit an honorarium. For
the honour of the profession, and my position in it, I
ought to charge thee at least five guineas, although I
would have accepted one, offered with good will and
delicacy. Now I will enter it two, my son, and half a
crown for my clerk's fee.'

Saying this, he drew forth from his deep, blue bag, a
red book having clasps to it, and endorsed in gold
letters 'Fee-book'; and before I could speak (being
frightened so) he had entered on a page of it, 'To
consideration of ease as stated by John Ridd, and
advising thereupon, two guineas.'

'But sir, good sir,' I stammered forth, not having two
guineas left in the world, yet grieving to confess it,
'I knew not that I was to pay, learned sir. I never
thought of it in that way.'

'Wounds of God! In what way thought you that a lawyer
listened to your rigmarole?'

'I thought that you listened from kindness, sir, and
compassion of my grievous case, and a sort of liking
for me.'

'A lawyer like thee, young curmudgeon! A lawyer afford
to feel compassion gratis! Either thou art a very deep
knave, or the greenest of all greenhorns. Well, I
suppose, I must let thee off for one guinea, and the
clerk's fee. A bad business, a shocking business!'

Now, if this man had continued kind and soft, as when
he heard my story, I would have pawned my clothes to
pay him, rather than leave a debt behind, although
contracted unwittingly. But when he used harsh
language so, knowing that I did not deserve it, I began
to doubt within myself whether he deserved my money.
Therefore I answered him with some readiness, such as
comes sometimes to me, although I am so slow.

'Sir, I am no curmudgeon: if a young man had called me
so, it would not have been well with him. This money
shall be paid, if due, albeit I had no desire to incur
the debt. You have advised me that the Court is liable
for my expenses, so far as they be reasonable. If this
be a reasonable expense, come with me now to Lord
Justice Jeffreys, and receive from him the two guineas,
or (it may be) five, for the counsel you have given me
to deny his jurisdiction.' With these words, I took his
arm to lead him, for the door was open still.

'In the name of God, boy, let me go. Worthy sir, pray
let me go. My wife is sick, and my daughter dying--in
the name of God, sir, let me go.'

'Nay, nay,' I said, having fast hold of him, 'I cannot
let thee go unpaid, sir. Right is right; and thou
shalt have it.'

'Ruin is what I shall have, boy, if you drag me before
that devil. He will strike me from the bar at once,
and starve me, and all my family. Here, lad, good lad,
take these two guineas. Thou hast despoiled the
spoiler. Never again will I trust mine eyes for
knowledge of a greenhorn.'

He slipped two guineas into the hand which I had hooked
through his elbow, and spoke in an urgent whisper
again, for the people came crowding around us--'For
God's sake let me go, boy; another moment will be too

'Learned sir,' I answered him, 'twice you spoke, unless
I err, of the necessity of a clerk's fee, as a thing to
be lamented.'

'To be sure, to be sure, my son. You have a clerk as
much as I have. There it is. Now I pray thee, take to
the study of the law. Possession is nine points of it,
which thou hast of me. Self-possession is the tenth,
and that thou hast more than the other nine.'

Being flattered by this, and by the feeling of the two
guineas and half-crown, I dropped my hold upon
Counsellor Kitch (for he was no less a man than that),
and he was out of sight in a second of time, wig, blue
bag, and family. And before I had time to make up my
mind what I should do with his money (for of course I
meant not to keep it) the crier of the Court (as they
told me) came out, and wanted to know who I was. I
told him, as shortly as I could, that my business lay
with His Majesty's bench, and was very confidential;
upon which he took me inside with warning, and showed
me to an under-clerk, who showed me to a higher one,
and the higher clerk to the head one.

When this gentleman understood all about my business
(which I told him without complaint) he frowned at me
very heavily, as if I had done him an injury.

'John Ridd,' he asked me with a stern glance, 'is it
your deliberate desire to be brought into the presence
of the Lord Chief Justice?'

'Surely, sir, it has been my desire for the last two
months and more.'

'Then, John, thou shalt be. But mind one thing, not a
word of thy long detention, or thou mayst get into

'How, sir? For being detained against my own wish?' I
asked him; but he turned away, as if that matter were
not worth his arguing, as, indeed, I suppose it was
not, and led me through a little passage to a door with
a curtain across it.

'Now, if my Lord cross-question you,' the gentleman
whispered to me, 'answer him straight out truth at
once, for he will have it out of thee. And mind, he
loves not to be contradicted, neither can he bear a
hang-dog look. Take little heed of the other two; but
note every word of the middle one; and never make him
speak twice.'

I thanked him for his good advice, as he moved the
curtain and thrust me in, but instead of entering
withdrew, and left me to bear the brunt of it.

The chamber was not very large, though lofty to my
eyes, and dark, with wooden panels round it. At the
further end were some raised seats, such as I have seen
in churches, lined with velvet, and having broad
elbows, and a canopy over the middle seat. There were
only three men sitting here, one in the centre, and one
on each side; and all three were done up wonderfully
with fur, and robes of state, and curls of thick gray
horsehair, crimped and gathered, and plaited down to
their shoulders. Each man had an oak desk before him,
set at a little distance, and spread with pens and
papers. Instead of writing, however, they seemed to be
laughing and talking, or rather the one in the middle
seemed to be telling some good story, which the others
received with approval. By reason of their great
perukes it was hard to tell how old they were; but the
one who was speaking seemed the youngest, although he
was the chief of them. A thick-set, burly, and bulky
man, with a blotchy broad face, and great square jaws,
and fierce eyes full of blazes; he was one to be
dreaded by gentle souls, and to be abhorred by the

Between me and the three lord judges, some few lawyers
were gathering up bags and papers and pens and so
forth, from a narrow table in the middle of the room,
as if a case had been disposed of, and no other were
called on. But before I had time to look round twice,
the stout fierce man espied me, and shouted out with a
flashing stare'--

'How now, countryman, who art thou?'

'May it please your worship,' I answered him loudly, 'I
am John Ridd, of Oare parish, in the shire of Somerset,
brought to this London, some two months back by a
special messenger, whose name is Jeremy Stickles; and
then bound over to be at hand and ready, when called
upon to give evidence, in a matter unknown to me, but
touching the peace of our lord the King, and the
well-being of his subjects. Three times I have met our
lord the King, but he hath said nothing about his
peace, and only held it towards me, and every day, save
Sunday, I have walked up and down the great hall of
Westminster, all the business part of the day,
expecting to be called upon, yet no one hath called
upon me. And now I desire to ask your worship, whether
I may go home again?'

'Well, done, John,' replied his lordship, while I was
panting with all this speech; 'I will go bail for thee,
John, thou hast never made such a long speech before;
and thou art a spunky Briton, or thou couldst not have
made it now. I remember the matter well, and I myself
will attend to it, although it arose before my time'
--he was but newly Chief Justice--'but I cannot take it
now, John. There is no fear of losing thee, John, any
more than the Tower of London. I grieve for His
Majesty's exchequer, after keeping thee two months or

'Nay, my lord, I crave your pardon. My mother hath
been keeping me. Not a groat have I received.'

'Spank, is it so?' his lordship cried, in a voice that
shook the cobwebs, and the frown on his brow shook the
hearts of men, and mine as much as the rest of them,--
'Spank, is His Majesty come to this, that he starves
his own approvers?'

'My lord, my lord,' whispered Mr. Spank, the
chief-officer of evidence, 'the thing hath been
overlooked, my lord, among such grave matters of

'I will overlook thy head, foul Spank, on a spike from
Temple Bar, if ever I hear of the like again. Vile
varlet, what art thou paid for? Thou hast swindled the
money thyself, foul Spank; I know thee, though thou art
new to me. Bitter is the day for thee that ever I came
across thee. Answer me not--one word more and I will
have thee on a hurdle.' And he swung himself to and fro
on his bench, with both hands on his knees; and every
man waited to let it pass, knowing better than to speak
to him.

'John Ridd,' said the Lord Chief Justice, at last
recovering a sort of dignity, yet daring Spank from the
corners of his eyes to do so much as look at him, 'thou
hast been shamefully used, John Ridd. Answer me not
boy; not a word; but go to Master Spank, and let me
know how he behaves to thee;' here he made a glance at
Spank, which was worth at least ten pounds to me; 'be
thou here again to-morrow, and before any other case is
taken, I will see justice done to thee. Now be off
boy; thy name is Ridd, and we are well rid of thee.'

I was only too glad to go, after all this tempest; as
you may well suppose. For if ever I saw a man's eyes
become two holes for the devil to glare from, I saw it
that day; and the eyes were those of the Lord Chief
Justice Jeffreys.

Mr. Spank was in the lobby before me, and before I had
recovered myself--for I was vexed with my own
terror--he came up sidling and fawning to me, with a
heavy bag of yellow leather.

'Good Master Ridd, take it all, take it all, and say a
good word for me to his lordship. He hath taken a
strange fancy to thee; and thou must make the most of
it. We never saw man meet him eye to eye so, and yet
not contradict him, and that is just what he loveth.
Abide in London, Master Ridd, and he will make thy
fortune. His joke upon thy name proves that. And I
pray you remember, Master Ridd, that the Spanks are
sixteen in family.'

But I would not take the bag from him, regarding it as
a sort of bribe to pay me such a lump of money, without
so much as asking how great had been my expenses.
Therefore I only told him that if he would kindly keep
the cash for me until the morrow, I would spend the
rest of the day in counting (which always is sore work
with me) how much it had stood me in board and lodging,
since Master Stickles had rendered me up; for until
that time he had borne my expenses. In the morning I
would give Mr. Spank a memorandum, duly signed, and
attested by my landlord, including the breakfast of
that day, and in exchange for this I would take the
exact amount from the yellow bag, and be very thankful
for it.

'If that is thy way of using opportunity,' said Spank,
looking at me with some contempt, 'thou wilt never
thrive in these times, my lad. Even the Lord Chief
Justice can be little help to thee; unless thou knowest
better than that how to help thyself '

It mattered not to me. The word 'approver' stuck in my
gorge, as used by the Lord Chief Justice; for we looked
upon an approver as a very low thing indeed. I would
rather pay for every breakfast, and even every dinner,
eaten by me since here I came, than take money as an
approver. And indeed I was much disappointed at being
taken in that light, having understood that I was sent
for as a trusty subject, and humble friend of His

In the morning I met Mr. Spank waiting for me at the
entrance, and very desirous to see me. I showed him my
bill, made out in fair copy, and he laughed at it, and
said, 'Take it twice over, Master Ridd; once for thine
own sake, and once for His Majesty's; as all his loyal
tradesmen do, when they can get any. His Majesty knows
and is proud of it, for it shows their love of his
countenance; and he says, "bis dat qui cito dat," then
how can I grumble at giving twice, when I give so

'Nay, I will take it but once,' I said; 'if His Majesty
loves to be robbed, he need not lack of his desire,
while the Spanks are sixteen in family.'

The clerk smiled cheerfully at this, being proud of his
children's ability; and then having paid my account, he

'He is all alone this morning, John, and in rare good
humour. He hath been promised the handling of poor
Master Algernon Sidney, and he says he will soon make
republic of him; for his state shall shortly be
headless. He is chuckling over his joke, like a pig
with a nut; and that always makes him pleasant. John
Ridd, my lord!' With that he swung up the curtain
bravely, and according to special orders, I stood, face
to face, and alone with Judge Jeffreys.



His lordship was busy with some letters, and did not
look up for a minute or two, although he knew that I
was there. Meanwhile I stood waiting to make my bow;
afraid to begin upon him, and wondering at his great
bull-head. Then he closed his letters, well-pleased
with their import, and fixed his bold broad stare on
me, as if I were an oyster opened, and he would know
how fresh I was.

'May it please your worship,' I said, 'here I am
according to order, awaiting your good pleasure.'

'Thou art made to weight, John, more than order. How
much dost thou tip the scales to?'

'Only twelvescore pounds, my lord, when I be in
wrestling trim. And sure I must have lost weight
here, fretting so long in London.'

'Ha, ha! Much fret is there in thee! Hath His Majesty
seen thee?'

'Yes, my lord, twice or even thrice; and he made some
jest concerning me.'

'A very bad one, I doubt not. His humour is not so
dainty as mine, but apt to be coarse and unmannerly.
Now John, or Jack, by the look of thee, thou art more
used to be called.'

'Yes, your worship, when I am with old Molly and Betty

'Peace, thou forward varlet! There is a deal too much
of thee. We shall have to try short commons with
thee, and thou art a very long common. Ha, ha! Where
is that rogue Spank? Spank must hear that by-and-by.
It is beyond thy great thick head, Jack.'

'Not so, my lord; I have been at school, and had very
bad jokes made upon me.'

'Ha, ha! It hath hit thee hard. And faith, it would be
hard to miss thee, even with harpoon. And thou lookest
like to blubber, now. Capital, in faith! I have thee
on every side, Jack, and thy sides are manifold;
many-folded at any rate. Thou shalt have double
expenses, Jack, for the wit thou hast provoked in me.'

'Heavy goods lack heavy payment, is a proverb down our
way, my lord.'

'Ah, I hurt thee, I hurt thee, Jack. The harpoon hath
no tickle for thee. Now, Jack Whale, having hauled
thee hard, we will proceed to examine thee.' Here all
his manner was changed, and he looked with his heavy
brows bent upon me, as if he had never laughed in his
life, and would allow none else to do so.

'I am ready to answer, my lord,' I replied, 'if he asks
me nought beyond my knowledge, or beyond my honour.'

'Hadst better answer me everything, lump. What hast
thou to do with honour? Now is there in thy
neighbourhood a certain nest of robbers, miscreants,
and outlaws, whom all men fear to handle?'

'Yes, my lord. At least, I believe some of them be
robbers, and all of them are outlaws.'

'And what is your high sheriff about, that he doth not
hang them all? Or send them up for me to hang, without
more to do about them?'

'I reckon that he is afraid, my lord; it is not safe to
meddle with them. They are of good birth, and
reckless; and their place is very strong.'

'Good birth! What was Lord Russell of, Lord Essex, and
this Sidney? 'Tis the surest heirship to the block to
be the chip of a good one. What is the name of this
pestilent race, and how many of them are there?'

'They are the Doones of Bagworthy forest, may it please
your worship. And we reckon there be about forty of
them, beside the women and children.'

'Forty Doones, all forty thieves! and women and
children! Thunder of God! How long have they been there

'They may have been there thirty years, my lord; and
indeed they may have been forty. Before the great war
broke out they came, longer back than I can remember.'

'Ay, long before thou wast born, John. Good, thou
speakest plainly. Woe betide a liar, whenso I get hold
of him. Ye want me on the Western Circuit; by God, and
ye shall have me, when London traitors are spun and
swung. There is a family called De Whichehalse living
very nigh thee, John?'

This he said in a sudden manner, as if to take me off
my guard, and fixed his great thick eyes on me. And in
truth I was much astonished.

'Yes, my lord, there is. At least, not so very far
from us. Baron de Whichehalse, of Ley Manor.'

'Baron, ha! of the Exchequer--eh, lad? And taketh dues
instead of His Majesty. Somewhat which halts there
ought to come a little further, I trow. It shall be
seen to, as well as the witch which makes it so to
halt. Riotous knaves in West England, drunken outlaws,
you shall dance, if ever I play pipe for you. John
Ridd, I will come to Oare parish, and rout out the Oare
of Babylon.'

'Although your worship is so learned,' I answered
seeing that now he was beginning to make things uneasy;
'your worship, though being Chief Justice, does little
justice to us. We are downright good and loyal folk;
and I have not seen, since here I came to this great
town of London, any who may better us, or even come
anigh us, in honesty, and goodness, and duty to our
neighbours. For we are very quiet folk, not prating
our own virtues--'

'Enough, good John, enough! Knowest thou not that
modesty is the maidenhood of virtue, lost even by her
own approval? Now hast thou ever heard or thought that
De Whichehalse is in league with the Doones of

Saying these words rather slowly, he skewered his great
eyes into mine, so that I could not think at all,
neither look at him, nor yet away. The idea was so new
to me that it set my wits all wandering; and looking
into me, he saw that I was groping for the truth.

'John Ridd, thine eyes are enough for me. I see thou
hast never dreamed of it. Now hast thou ever seen a
man whose name is Thomas Faggus?'

'Yes, sir, many and many a time. He is my own worthy
cousin; and I fear he that hath intentions'--here I
stopped, having no right there to speak about our

'Tom Faggus is a good man,' he said; and his great
square face had a smile which showed me he had met my
cousin; 'Master Faggus hath made mistakes as to the
title to property, as lawyers oftentimes may do; but
take him all for all, he is a thoroughly
straightforward man; presents his bill, and has it
paid, and makes no charge for drawing it.
Nevertheless, we must tax his costs, as of any other

'To be sure, to be sure, my lord!' was all that I could
say, not understanding what all this meant.

'I fear he will come to the gallows,' said the Lord
Chief Justice, sinking his voice below the echoes;
'tell him this from me, Jack. He shall never be
condemned before me; but I cannot be everywhere, and
some of our Justices may keep short memory of his
dinners. Tell him to change his name, turn parson, or
do something else, to make it wrong to hang him.
Parson is the best thing, he hath such command of
features, and he might take his tithes on horseback.
Now a few more things, John Ridd; and for the present I
have done with thee.'

All my heart leaped up at this, to get away from London
so: and yet I could hardly trust to it.

'Is there any sound round your way of disaffection to
His Majesty, His most gracious Majesty?'

'No, my lord: no sign whatever. We pray for him in
church perhaps, and we talk about him afterwards,
hoping it may do him good, as it is intended. But
after that we have naught to say, not knowing much
about him--at least till I get home again.'

'That is as it should be, John. And the less you say
the better. But I have heard of things in Taunton,
and even nearer to you in Dulverton, and even nigher
still upon Exmoor; things which are of the pillory
kind, and even more of the gallows. I see that you
know naught of them. Nevertheless, it will not be long
before all England hears of them. Now, John, I have
taken a liking to thee, for never man told me the
truth, without fear or favour, more thoroughly and
truly than thou hast done. Keep thou clear of this, my
son. It will come to nothing; yet many shall swing
high for it. Even I could not save thee, John Ridd, if
thou wert mixed in this affair. Keep from the Doones,
keep from De Whichehalse, keep from everything which
leads beyond the sight of thy knowledge. I meant to
use thee as my tool; but I see thou art too honest and
simple. I will send a sharper down; but never let me
find thee, John, either a tool for the other side, or a
tube for my words to pass through.'

Here the Lord Justice gave me such a glare that I
wished myself well rid of him, though thankful for his
warnings; and seeing how he had made upon me a long
abiding mark of fear, he smiled again in a jocular
manner, and said,--

'Now, get thee gone, Jack. I shall remember thee; and
I trow, thou wilt'st not for many a day forget me.'

'My lord, I was never so glad to go; for the hay must
be in, and the ricks unthatched, and none of them can
make spars like me, and two men to twist every
hay-rope, and mother thinking it all right, and
listening right and left to lies, and cheated at every
pig she kills, and even the skins of the sheep to go--'

'John Ridd, I thought none could come nigh your folk in
honesty, and goodness, and duty to their neighbours!'

'Sure enough, my lord; but by our folk, I mean
ourselves, not the men nor women neither--'

'That will do, John. Go thy way. Not men, nor women
neither, are better than they need be.'

I wished to set this matter right; but his worship
would not hear me, and only drove me out of court,
saying that men were thieves and liars, no more in one
place than another, but all alike all over the world,
and women not far behind them. It was not for me to
dispute this point (though I was not yet persuaded of
it), both because my lord was a Judge, and must know
more about it, and also that being a man myself I might
seem to be defending myself in an unbecoming manner.
Therefore I made a low bow, and went; in doubt as to
which had the right of it.

But though he had so far dismissed me, I was not yet
quite free to go, inasmuch as I had not money enough to
take me all the way to Oare, unless indeed I should go
afoot, and beg my sustenance by the way, which seemed
to be below me. Therefore I got my few clothes packed,
and my few debts paid, all ready to start in half an
hour, if only they would give me enough to set out upon
the road with. For I doubted not, being young and
strong, that I could walk from London to Oare in ten
days or in twelve at most, which was not much longer
than horse-work; only I had been a fool, as you will
say when you hear it. For after receiving from Master
Spank the amount of the bill which I had
delivered--less indeed by fifty shillings than the
money my mother had given me, for I had spent fifty
shillings, and more, in seeing the town and treating
people, which I could not charge to His Majesty--I had
first paid all my debts thereout, which were not very
many, and then supposing myself to be an established
creditor of the Treasury for my coming needs, and
already scenting the country air, and foreseeing the
joy of my mother, what had I done but spent half my
balance, ay and more than three-quarters of it, upon
presents for mother, and Annie, and Lizzie, John Fry,
and his wife, and Betty Muxworthy, Bill Dadds, Jim
Slocombe, and, in a word, half of the rest of the
people at Oare, including all the Snowe family, who
must have things good and handsome? And if I must
while I am about it, hide nothing from those who read
me, I had actually bought for Lorna a thing the price
of which quite frightened me, till the shopkeeper said
it was nothing at all, and that no young man, with a
lady to love him, could dare to offer her rubbish, such
as the Jew sold across the way. Now the mere idea of
beautiful Lorna ever loving me, which he talked about
as patly (though of course I never mentioned her) as if
it were a settled thing, and he knew all about it, that
mere idea so drove me abroad, that if he had asked
three times as much, I could never have counted the

Now in all this I was a fool of course--not for
remembering my friends and neighbours, which a man has
a right to do, and indeed is bound to do, when he comes
from London--but for not being certified first what
cash I had to go on with. And to my great amazement,
when I went with another bill for the victuals of only
three days more, and a week's expense on the homeward
road reckoned very narrowly, Master Spank not only
refused to grant me any interview, but sent me out a
piece of blue paper, looking like a butcher's ticket,
and bearing these words and no more, 'John Ridd, go to
the devil. He who will not when he may, when he will,
he shall have nay.' From this I concluded that I had
lost favour in the sight of Chief Justice Jeffreys.
Perhaps because my evidence had not proved of any
value! perhaps because he meant to let the matter lie,
till cast on him.

Anyhow, it was a reason of much grief, and some anger
to me, and very great anxiety, disappointment, and
suspense. For here was the time of the hay gone past,
and the harvest of small corn coming on, and the trout
now rising at the yellow Sally, and the blackbirds
eating our white-heart cherries (I was sure, though I
could not see them), and who was to do any good for
mother, or stop her from weeping continually? And more
than this, what was become of Lorna? Perhaps she had
cast me away altogether, as a flouter and a changeling;
perhaps she had drowned herself in the black well;
perhaps (and that was worst of all) she was even
married, child as she was, to that vile Carver Doone,
if the Doones ever cared about marrying! That last
thought sent me down at once to watch for Mr. Spank
again, resolved that if I could catch him, spank him I
would to a pretty good tune, although sixteen in

However, there was no such thing as to find him; and
the usher vowed (having orders I doubt) that he was
gone to the sea for the good of his health, having
sadly overworked himself; and that none but a poor
devil like himself, who never had handling of money,
would stay in London this foul, hot weather; which was
likely to bring the plague with it. Here was another
new terror for me, who had heard of the plagues of
London, and the horrible things that happened; and so
going back to my lodgings at once, I opened my clothes
and sought for spots, especially as being so long at a
hairy fellmonger's; but finding none, I fell down and
thanked God for that same, and vowed to start for Oare
to-morrow, with my carbine loaded, come weal come woe,
come sun come shower; though all the parish should
laugh at me, for begging my way home again, after the
brave things said of my going, as if I had been the
King's cousin.

But I was saved in some degree from this lowering of my
pride, and what mattered more, of mother's; for going
to buy with my last crown-piece (after all demands were
paid) a little shot and powder, more needful on the
road almost than even shoes or victuals, at the corner
of the street I met my good friend Jeremy Stickles,
newly come in search of me. I took him back to my
little room--mine at least till to-morrow morning--and
told him all my story, and how much I felt aggrieved by
it. But he surprised me very much, by showing no
surprise at all.

'It is the way of the world, Jack. They have gotten
all they can from thee, and why should they feed thee
further? We feed not a dead pig, I trow, but baste him
well with brine and rue. Nay, we do not victual him
upon the day of killing; which they have done to thee.
Thou art a lucky man, John; thou hast gotten one day's
wages, or at any rate half a day, after thy work was
rendered. God have mercy on me, John! The things I
see are manifold; and so is my regard of them. What
use to insist on this, or make a special point of that,
or hold by something said of old, when a different mood
was on? I tell thee, Jack, all men are liars; and he
is the least one who presses not too hard on them for

This was all quite dark to me, for I never looked at
things like that, and never would own myself a liar,
not at least to other people, nor even to myself,
although I might to God sometimes, when trouble was
upon me. And if it comes to that, no man has any right
to be called a 'liar' for smoothing over things
unwitting, through duty to his neighbour.

'Five pounds thou shalt have, Jack,' said Jeremy
Stickles suddenly, while I was all abroad with myself
as to being a liar or not; 'five pounds, and I will
take my chance of wringing it from that great rogue
Spank. Ten I would have made it, John, but for bad
luck lately. Put back your bits of paper, lad; I will
have no acknowledgment. John Ridd, no nonsense with

For I was ready to kiss his hand, to think that any man
in London (the meanest and most suspicious place, upon
all God's earth) should trust me with five pounds,
without even a receipt for it! It overcame me so that
I sobbed; for, after all, though big in body, I am but
a child at heart. It was not the five pounds that
moved me, but the way of giving it; and after so much
bitter talk, the great trust in my goodness.



It was the beginning of wheat-harvest, when I came to
Dunster town, having walked all the way from London,
and being somewhat footsore. For though five pounds
was enough to keep me in food and lodging upon the
road, and leave me many a shilling to give to far
poorer travellers, it would have been nothing for
horse-hire, as I knew too well by the prices Jeremy
Stickles had paid upon our way to London. Now I never
saw a prettier town than Dunster looked that evening;
for sooth to say, I had almost lost all hope of
reaching it that night, although the castle was long in
view. But being once there, my troubles were gone, at
least as regarded wayfaring; for mother's cousin, the
worthy tanner (with whom we had slept on the way to
London), was in such indignation at the plight in which
I came back to him, afoot, and weary, and almost
shoeless--not to speak of upper things--that he swore
then, by the mercy of God, that if the schemes abrewing
round him, against those bloody Papists, should come to
any head or shape, and show good chance of succeeding,
he would risk a thousand pounds, as though it were a

I told him not to do it, because I had heard otherwise,
but was not at liberty to tell one-tenth of what I
knew, and indeed had seen in London town. But of this
he took no heed, because I only nodded at him; and he
could not make it out. For it takes an old man, or at
least a middle-aged one, to nod and wink, with any
power on the brains of other men. However, I think I
made him know that the bad state in which I came to his
town, and the great shame I had wrought for him among
the folk round the card-table at the Luttrell Arms, was
not to be, even there, attributed to King Charles the
Second, nor even to his counsellors, but to my own
speed of travelling, which had beat post-horses. For
being much distraught in mind, and desperate in body, I
had made all the way from London to Dunster in six
days, and no more. It may be one hundred and seventy
miles, I cannot tell to a furlong or two, especially as
I lost my way more than a dozen times; but at any rate
there in six days I was, and most kindly they received
me. The tanner had some excellent daughters, I forget
how many; very pretty damsels, and well set up, and
able to make good pastry. But though they asked me
many questions, and made a sort of lord of me, and
offered to darn my stockings (which in truth required
it), I fell asleep in the midst of them, although I
would not acknowledge it; and they said, 'Poor cousin!
he is weary', and led me to a blessed bed, and kissed
me all round like swan's down.

In the morning all the Exmoor hills, the thought of
which had frightened me at the end of each day's
travel, seemed no more than bushels to me, as I looked
forth the bedroom window, and thanked God for the sight
of them. And even so, I had not to climb them, at
least by my own labour. For my most worthy uncle (as
we oft call a parent's cousin), finding it impossible
to keep me for the day, and owning indeed that I was
right in hastening to my mother, vowed that walk I
should not, even though he lost his Saturday hides from
Minehead and from Watchett. Accordingly he sent me
forth on the very strongest nag he had, and the maidens
came to wish me God-speed, and kissed their hands at
the doorway. It made me proud and glad to think that
after seeing so much of the world, and having held my
own with it, I was come once more among my own people,
and found them kinder, and more warm-hearted, ay and
better looking too, than almost any I had happened upon
in the mighty city of London.

But how shall I tell you the things I felt, and the
swelling of my heart within me, as I drew nearer, and
more near, to the place of all I loved and owned, to
the haunt of every warm remembrance, the nest of all
the fledgling hopes--in a word, to home? The first
sheep I beheld on the moor with a great red J.R. on
his side (for mother would have them marked with my
name, instead of her own as they should have been), I
do assure you my spirit leaped, and all my sight came
to my eyes. I shouted out, 'Jem, boy!'--for that was
his name, and a rare hand he was at fighting--and he
knew me in spite of the stranger horse; and I leaned
over and stroked his head, and swore he should never be
mutton. And when I was passed he set off at full
gallop, to call the rest of the J.R.'s together, and
tell them young master was come home at last.

But bless your heart, and my own as well, it would take
me all the afternoon to lay before you one-tenth of the
things which came home to me in that one half-hour, as
the sun was sinking, in the real way he ought to sink.
I touched my horse with no spur nor whip, feeling that
my slow wits would go, if the sights came too fast over
them. Here was the pool where we washed the sheep, and
there was the hollow that oozed away, where I had shot
three wild ducks. Here was the peat-rick that hid my
dinner, when I could not go home for it, and there was
the bush with the thyme growing round it, where Annie
had found a great swarm of our bees. And now was the
corner of the dry stone wall, where the moor gave over
in earnest, and the partridges whisked from it into the
corn lands, and called that their supper was ready, and
looked at our house and the ricks as they ran, and
would wait for that comfort till winter.

And there I saw--but let me go--Annie was too much for
me. She nearly pulled me off my horse, and kissed the
very mouth of the carbine.

"I knew you would come. Oh John! Oh John! I have
waited here every Saturday night; and I saw you for the
last mile or more, but I would not come round the
corner, for fear that I should cry, John, and then not
cry when I got you. Now I may cry as much as I like,
and you need not try to stop me, John, because I am so
happy. But you mustn't cry yourself, John; what will
mother think of you? She will be so jealous of me.'

What mother thought I cannot tell; and indeed I doubt
if she thought at all for more than half an hour, but
only managed to hold me tight, and cry, and thank God
now and then, but with some fear of His taking me, if
she should be too grateful. Moreover she thought it
was my own doing, and I ought to have the credit of it,
and she even came down very sharply upon John's wife,
Mrs. Fry, for saying that we must not be too proud, for
all of it was the Lord's doing. However, dear mother
was ashamed of that afterwards, and asked Mrs. Fry's
humble pardon; and perhaps I ought not to have
mentioned it.

Old Smiler had told them that I was coming--all the
rest, I mean, except Annie--for having escaped from his
halter-ring, he was come out to graze in the lane a
bit; when what should he see but a strange horse coming
with young master and mistress upon him, for Annie must
needs get up behind me, there being only sheep to look
at her. Then Smiler gave us a stare and a neigh, with
his tail quite stiff with amazement, and then (whether
in joy or through indignation) he flung up his hind
feet and galloped straight home, and set every dog wild
with barking.

Now, methinks, quite enough has been said concerning
this mighty return of the young John Ridd (which was
known up at Cosgate that evening), and feeling that I
cannot describe it, how can I hope that any one else
will labour to imagine it, even of the few who are
able? For very few can have travelled so far, unless
indeed they whose trade it is, or very unsettled
people. And even of those who have done so, not one in
a hundred can have such a home as I had to come home

Mother wept again, with grief and some wrath, and so
did Annie also, and even little Eliza, and all were
unsettled in loyalty, and talked about a republic, when
I told them how I had been left without money for
travelling homeward, and expected to have to beg my
way, which Farmer Snowe would have heard of. And
though I could see they were disappointed at my failure
of any promotion, they all declared how glad they were,
and how much better they liked me to be no more than
what they were accustomed to. At least, my mother and
Annie said so, without waiting to hear any more; but
Lizzie did not answer to it, until I had opened my bag
and shown the beautiful present I had for her. And
then she kissed me, almost like Annie, and vowed that
she thought very little of captains.

For Lizzie's present was the best of all, I mean, of
course, except Lorna's (which I carried in my breast
all the way, hoping that it might make her love me,
from having lain so long, close to my heart). For I
had brought Lizzie something dear, and a precious heavy
book it was, and much beyond my understanding; whereas
I knew well that to both the others my gifts would be
dear, for mine own sake. And happier people could not
be found than the whole of us were that evening.



Much as I longed to know more about Lorna, and though
all my heart was yearning, I could not reconcile it yet
with my duty to mother and Annie, to leave them on the
following day, which happened to be a Sunday. For lo,
before breakfast was out of our mouths, there came all
the men of the farm, and their wives, and even the two
crow-boys, dressed as if going to Barnstaple fair, to
inquire how Master John was, and whether it was true
that the King had made him one of his body-guard; and
if so, what was to be done with the belt for the
championship of the West-Counties wrestling, which I
had held now for a year or more, and none were ready to
challenge it. Strange to say, this last point seemed
the most important of all to them; and none asked who
was to manage the farm, or answer for their wages; but
all asked who was to wear the belt.

To this I replied, after shaking hands twice over all
round with all of them, that I meant to wear the belt
myself, for the honour of Oare parish, so long as ever
God gave me strength and health to meet all-comers; for
I had never been asked to be body-guard, and if asked I
would never have done it. Some of them cried that the
King must be mazed, not to keep me for his protection,
in these violent times of Popery. I could have told
them that the King was not in the least afraid of
Papists, but on the contrary, very fond of them;
however, I held my tongue, remembering what Judge
Jeffreys bade me.

In church, the whole congregation, man, woman, and
child (except, indeed, the Snowe girls, who only looked
when I was not watching), turned on me with one accord,
and stared so steadfastly, to get some reflection of
the King from me, that they forgot the time to kneel
down and the parson was forced to speak to them. If I
coughed, or moved my book, or bowed, or even said
'Amen,' glances were exchanged which meant--'That he
hath learned in London town, and most likely from His

However, all this went off in time, and people became
even angry with me for not being sharper (as they
said), or smarter, or a whit more fashionable, for all
the great company I had seen, and all the wondrous
things wasted upon me.

But though I may have been none the wiser by reason of
my stay in London, at any rate I was much the better in
virtue of coming home again. For now I had learned the
joy of quiet, and the gratitude for good things round
us, and the love we owe to others (even those who must
be kind), for their indulgence to us. All this, before
my journey, had been too much as a matter of course to
me; but having missed it now I knew that it was a gift,
and might be lost. Moreover, I had pined so much, in
the dust and heat of that great town, for trees, and
fields, and running waters, and the sounds of country

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