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Title: Mad Shepherds - and Other Human Studies
Author: Jacks, L. P. (Lawrence Pearsall), 1860-1955
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mad Shepherds - and Other Human Studies" ***

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                                   MAD SHEPHERDS

                             _AND OTHER HUMAN STUDIES_

                                  BY L. P. JACKS



LL.D., F.R.S.

[Illustration: "SNARLEY BOB" From a Drawing by L. Leslie Brooke]

















       *       *       *       *       *

There is nothing that so embases and enthralls the Souls of men, as the
dismall and dreadfull thoughts of their own Mortality, which will not
suffer them to look beyond this short span of Time, to see an houres
length before them, or to look higher than these material Heavens; which
though they could be stretch'd forth to infinity, yet would the space be
too narrow for an enlightened mind, that will not be confined within the
compass of corporeal dimensions. These black Opinions of Death and the
Non-entity of Souls (darker than Hell it self) shrink up the free-born
Spirit which is within us, which would otherwise be dilating and
spreading it self boundlessly beyond all Finite Being: and when these
sorry pinching mists are once blown away, it finds this narrow sphear of
Being to give way before it; and having once seen beyond Time and
Matter, it finds then no more ends nor bounds to stop its swift and
restless motion. It may then fly upwards from one heaven to another,
till it be beyond all orbe of Finite Being, swallowed up in the
boundless Abyss of Divinity, [Greek: hyperanô tês ousias], beyond all
that which darker thoughts are wont to represent under the Idea of
Essence. This is that [Greek: theion skotos] which the Areopagite speaks
of, which the higher our Minds soare into, the more incomprehensible
they find it. Those dismall apprehensions which pinion the Souls of men
to mortality, churlishly check and starve that noble life thereof, which
would alwaies be rising upwards, and spread it self in a free heaven:
and when once the Soul hath shaken off these, when it is once able to
look through a grave, and see beyond death, it finds a vast Immensity of
Being opening it self more and more before it, and the ineffable light
and beauty thereof shining more and more into it.

    _Select Discourses of John Smith, the
    Cambridge Platonist, 1660._




Among the four hundred human beings who peopled our parish there were
two notable men and one highly gifted woman. All three are dead, and lie
buried in the churchyard of the village where they lived. Their graves
form a group--unsung by any poet, but worthy to be counted among the
resting-places of the mighty.

The woman was Mrs. Abel, the Rector's wife. None of us knew her
origin--I doubt if she knew it herself: beyond her husband and children,
assignable relatives she had none.

    "Sie war nicht in dem Tal geboren,
    Man wusste nicht woher sie kam."

Her husband met her many years ago at a foreign watering-place, and
married her there after a week's acquaintance--much to the scandal of
his family, for the lady was an actress not unknown to fame. Their only
consolation was that she had a considerable fortune--the fruit of her
professional work.

In all relevant particulars this strange venture had proved a huge
success. To leave the fever of the stage for the quiet life of the
village had been to Mrs. Abel like the escape of a soul from the flames
of purgatory. She had rightly discerned that the Rev. Edward Abel was a
man of large heart, high character, and excellent wit--partly clergyman,
but mostly man. He, on his part, valued his wife, and his judgment was
backed by every humble soul in the village. But the bigwigs of the
county, and every clergyman's wife within a radius of ten miles, were of
another mind. She had not been "proper" to begin with--at least, they
said so; and as time went on she took no pains to be more "proper" than
she was at first. Her improprieties, so far as I could ever learn, arose
from nothing more heinous than her possession of an intelligence more
powerful and a courage more daring than that to which any of her
neighbours could lay claim. Her outspokenness was a stumbling-block to
many; and the offence of speaking her mind was aggravated by the
circumstance, not always present at such times, that she had a mind to
speak. To quote the language in which Farmer Perryman once explained the
situation to me: "She'd given all on 'em a taste o' the whip, and with
some on 'em she'd peppered and salted the sore place into the bargain."
Moreover, she sided with many things that a clergyman's wife ought to
oppose: took all sorts of undesirables under her protection, helped
those whom everybody else wanted to punish, threw good discretion to the
winds, and sometimes mixed in undertakings which no "lady" ought to
touch. To all this she added the impertinence of regular attendance at
church, where she recited the Creeds in a rich voice that almost drowned
her husband's, turning punctually to the East and bowing at the Sacred
Name. That she was a hypocrite trying to save her face was, of course,
obvious to every Scribe and Pharisee in the county. But the poor of
Deadborough preferred her hypocrisy to the virtuous simplicity of her

Mrs. Abel is too great a subject for such humble portraiture as I can
attempt, and she will henceforth appear in these pages only as occasion
requires. It is time that we turn to the men.

The first of these was Robert Dellanow, known far and wide as "Snarley
Bob," head shepherd to Sam Perryman of the Upper Farm. I say, the first;
for it was he who had the pre-eminence, both as to intelligence and the
tragic antagonisms of his life. The man had many singularities, singular
at least in shepherds. Perhaps the chief of these was the violence of
the affinities and repulsions that broke forth from him towards every
personality with whom he came into any, even the slightest, contact.
Snarley invariably loved or hated at first sight, or rather at first
sound, for he was strangely sensitive to the tones of a human voice. If,
as seldom happened, your voice and presence chanced to strike the
responsive chord, Snarley became your devoted slave on the spot; the
heavy, even brutal, expression that his face often wore passed off like
a cloud; you were in the Mount of Transfiguration, and it seemed that
Elijah or one of the prophets had come back to earth. If, as was more
likely, your manner repelled him, he would show signs of immediate
distress; the animality of his features would become more sinister and
forbidding; and if, undaunted by the first repulse, you continued to
press your attentions upon him, he would presently break out into an
ungovernable paroxysm of rage, accompanied by startling language and
even by threats of violence, which drove offenders headlong from his
presence. In these outbursts he was unrestrained by rank, age, or
sex--indeed, his antipathies to certain women were the most violent of
all. Curiously enough, it was the presence of humanity of the
uncongenial type which alone had power to effect his reversion to the
status of the brute. His normal condition was gentle and serene: he was
fond of children and certain animals, and he bore the agonies of his old
rheumatic limbs without a murmur of complaint.

It was not possible, of course, that such a man, however gifted with
intelligence, should "succeed in life." There were some people who held
that he was mad, and proposed that he should be put under restraint; and
doubtless they would have gained their end had not Snarley been able to
give proofs of his sanity in certain directions such as few men could

Once he had been haled before the magistrate to answer a serious charge
of using threats, was fined and compelled to give security for his good
behaviour; and it was on this occasion that he narrowly escaped
detention as a lunatic. Indeed, I cannot prove that he was sane; but
neither could I prove it, if challenged, in regard to myself--a
difficulty which the courteous reader, in his own case, will hardly deny
that he has to share with me. Mad or sane, it is certain that Snarley,
under a kinder Fate, might have been something more splendid than he
was. Mystic, star-gazer, dabbler in black or blackish arts, he seemed in
his lowly occupation of shepherd to represent some strange miscarriage
of Nature's designs; but Mrs. Abel, who understood the secrets of many
hearts, always maintained that Snarley, the breeder of the famous
Perryman rams, had found the calling to which he had been fore-ordained
from the foundation of the world. Of this the reader must judge from the
sequel; for we shall hear much of him anon.

The second man was Tom Hankin, shoemaker. A man of strong contrasts was
Tom; an octogenarian when I first knew him, and an atheist, as he
proudly boasted, "all his life." My last interview with him took place a
few days before his death, when he knew that he was hovering on the
brink of the grave; and it was then that Hankin offered me his complete
argument for the non-existence of Deity and the mortality of the soul.
Never did dying saint dilate on the raptures of Paradise with greater
fervour than that displayed by the old man as he developed his theme. I
will not say that Hankin was happy; but he was fierce and unconquered,
and totally unafraid. I think also that he was proud--proud, that is, of
his ability to hurl defiance into the very teeth of Death. He said that
he had always hoped he would be able to die thus; that he had sometimes
feared lest in his last illness there should be some weakening towards
the end: perhaps his mind would become overclouded, and he would lose
grip of his arguments; perhaps he would think that death was _something_
instead of being _nothing_; perhaps he would be troubled by the thought
of impending annihilation. But no, it was all as clear as before,
clearer if anything. All that troubled him was "that folks was so blind;
that Snarley Bob, in particular, was as obstinate as ever--a man, sir,
as ought to ha' known better; never would listen to no arguments; always
shut him up when he tried to reason, and sometimes swore at him; and him
with the best head in the whole county, but crammed full of rubbish that
was no use to himself nor nobody else, and that nobody could make head
nor tail of--no, not even Mrs. Abel, as was always backing him up; and
to think of him breedin' sheep all his life; why, that man, sir, if only
he'd learned a bit o' commonsense reasonin', might ha' done wonders,
instead o' wastin' himself wi' a lot o' tomfoolery about stars and
spirits, and what all." Thus he continued to pour forth till a fit of
coughing interrupted the torrent.

Hankin was the son of a Chartist, from whom he inherited a small but
sufficient collection of books. Tom Paine was there, of course, bearing
on every page of him the marks of two generations of Hankin thumbs. He
also possessed the works of John Stuart Mill, not excepting the _Logic_,
which he had mastered, even as to the abstruser portions, with a
thoroughness such as few professors of the science could boast at the
present day. Mill, indeed, was his prophet; and the principle of the
Greatest Happiness was his guiding star. Hankin was well abreast of
current political questions, and to every one of them he applied his
principle and managed by means of it to take a definite side. As he
worked at his last he would concentrate his mind on some chosen problem
of social reform, and would ponder, with singular pertinacity, the ways
and degrees in which alternative solutions of it would affect the
happiness of men. He would sometimes spend weeks in meditating thus on a
single problem, and, when a solution had been reached according to his
method, he made it a regular practice to go down to the Nag's Head and
announce the result, with all the prolixity of its antecedents, over a
pot of beer. It was there that I heard Hankin defend "armaments" as
conducive to the Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number. Venturing to
assail what I thought a preposterous view, I was met by a counter attack
of horse, foot, and artillery, so well planned and vigorously sustained
that in the end I was utterly beaten from the field. Had Snarley Bob
been present, the result would have been different; indeed, there would
have been no result to the controversy at all. He would have stopped the
argument _ab initio_ by affirming in language of his own, perhaps
unprintable, that the whole question was of not the slightest importance
to anybody; that "them as built the ships, because someone had argued
'em into doing it, were fools, and them as did the arguing were bigger
fools still"; the same for those who refrained from building; that, in
short, the only way to get such questions settled was "to leave 'em to
them as knows what's what." This ignorant and undemocratic attitude
never failed to divert Hankin from argument to recrimination, which was
all the more bitter because Bob had a way of implying, mainly by the
movement of his horse-like eyes, that he himself was one of those who
knew precisely what "what" was. The upshot therefore was a row between
shepherd and shoemaker--a thing which the shepherd enjoyed in the same
degree as he hated the shoemaker's arguments.

Not the least of Mrs. Abel's improprieties was her open patronage of
Hankin. The shoemaker had established what he called an Ethical Society,
which held its meetings on Sunday afternoons in the barn of a
sympathetic farmer. These meetings, which were regularly addressed by
Hankin, Mrs. Abel used frequently to attend. The effect of this was
twofold. On the one hand, it was no small stimulus to Hankin that among
the handful of uneducated irreconcilables who gathered to hear him, he
might have for auditor one of the keenest and most cultivated minds in
England--one who, as he was well aware, had no sympathy with his
opinions. I once heard him lecture on one of his favourite topics while
she was present, and I must say that I have seldom heard a bad case
better argued. On the other hand, Mrs. Abel's presence served to rob his
lectures of much of the force which opinions, when condemned by the
rich, invariably have among the poor. She was shrewd enough to perceive
that active repression of Hankin, who she well knew could not be
repressed, would only swell his following and strengthen his position.

This, of course, was not understood by the local guardians of morality
and religion. After vainly appealing to Mr. Abel, who turned an
absolutely deaf ear to the petitioners, they proceeded to lay the case
before the Bishop, who happened to be, unfortunately for them, one of
the most courageous and enlightened prelates of his time. The Bishop, on
whom considerable pressure was brought to bear, resolved at last to come
down to Deadborough and have an interview with Mrs. Abel. The result was
that he and the lady became fast and lifelong friends. He returned to
his palace determined to take the risk, and to all further importunities
he merely returned a formal answer that he saw no reason to interfere.
This was not the least daring of many actions which have distinguished,
by their boldness and commonsense, the record of a singularly noble
career. The case did not get into the papers; none the less, it was much
talked of in clerical circles, and its effect was to give the Bishop a
reputation among prelates not unlike that which Mrs. Abel had won among
clergymen's wives.

The Bishop's intervention having failed, the party of repression now
determined on the short and easy way. Hankin's landlord was Peter Shott,
whose holding consisted of two small farms which had been joined
together. In the house belonging to one of these farms lived Hankin, a
sub-tenant of Shott. To Shott there came, in due course, a hint from an
exalted quarter that it would be to his interests to give Hankin notice
to quit. Shott was willing enough, and presently the notice was served.
It was a serious thing for the shoemaker, for he had a good business,
and there was no other house or cottage available in the neighbourhood.

In the interval before the notice expired announcements appeared that
the estate to which Shott's holding belonged was to be sold by auction
in lots. Shott himself was well-to-do, and promptly determined to become
the purchaser of his farm.

There were several bidders at the sale, and Shott was pushed to the very
end of his tether. He managed, however, to outbid them all, though he
trembled at his own temerity; and the farm was on the point of being
knocked down to him when a lawyer's clerk at the end of the room went
£50 better. Shott took a gulp of whisky to steady his nerve and
desperately put the price up fifty more. The lawyer's clerk immediately
countered with another hundred, and looked as though he was ready to go
on. That was the knock-down blow. Shott put his hands in his pockets,
leaned back in his chair, and dolefully shook his head in response to
all the coaxings and blandishments of the auctioneer. The hammer fell.
"Name, please," was called; the lawyer's clerk passed up a slip of
paper, and a thunderbolt fell on the company when the auctioneer read
out, "Mr. Thomas Hankin." Hankin had bought the farms for £4700. "Cheque
for deposit," said the auctioneer. A cheque for £470, previously signed
by Hankin, was immediately filled in and passed up by the lawyer's

It was, of course, Mrs. Abel who had advanced the money to the shoemaker
on prospective mortgage, less a sum of £1000 which he himself
contributed--the savings of his life. The situation became interesting.
Here was Hankin, under notice to quit, now become the rightful owner of
his own house and the landlord of his landlord. Everyone read what had
happened as a deep-laid scheme of vengeance on the part of Hankin and
Mrs. Abel, of whose part in the transaction no secret whatever was made.
It was taken for granted that the evicted man would now retaliate by
turning Shott out of his highly cultivated farm and well-appointed
house. The jokers of the Nag's Head were delirious, and drank gin in
their beer for a week after the occurrence. Snarley Bob alone drank no
gin, and merely contributed the remark that "them as laughs last, laughs

Meanwhile the shoemaker, seated at his last, was carefully pondering the
position in the light of the principles of Bentham and Mill. He
considered all the possible alternatives and weighed off against one
another the various amounts of pleasure and pain involved, resolutely
counting himself as "one and not more than one." He certainly estimated
at a large figure the amount of pleasure he himself would derive from
paying Shott in his own coin. All consideration of "quality" was
strictly eliminated, for in this matter Hankin held rather with Bentham
than with Mill. The sum was an extremely complicated one to work, and
gave more exercise to Hankin's powers of moral arithmetic than either
armaments, or women's suffrage, or the State Church. Mrs. Abel had left
him free to do exactly as he liked; and he had nearly determined to
expel Shott when it occurred to him that by taking the other course he
would give a considerable amount of pleasure to the Rector's wife. And
to this must be added the pleasure which he would derive for himself by
pleasing her, and further the pleasure of his chief friend and enemy,
Snarley Bob, on discovering that both of them were pleased. Then there
was the question of his own reflected pleasure in the pleasure of
Snarley Bob, and this was considerable also; for though Hankin denounced
Bob on every possible occasion, yet secretly he valued his good opinion
more than that of any living man. It is true that the figures at which
he estimated these personal quantities were very small in proportion to
those which he had set down to the more public aspects of the case; for
his principles forbade him to reckon either Mrs. Abel or Snarley as
"more than one." Nevertheless, small as these figures were, Hankin
found, when he came to add up his totals and strike off the balance of
pains, that they were enough to turn the scale. He determined to leave
Shott undisturbed, and went to bed with that feeling of perfect mental
satisfaction which did duty with him for a conscience at peace.

Notice of this resolution was conveyed next day to the parties
concerned, and that night Farmer Shott, who was a pious Methodist and
held family prayers, instead of imploring the Almighty "to defeat the
wiles of Satan, now active in this village," put up a lengthy petition
for blessings on the heads of Shoemaker Hankin and his family,
mentioning each one of them by name, and adding such particulars of his
or her special needs as would leave the Divine Benevolence with no
excuse for mixing them up.

With all his hard-headedness Hankin combined the graces of a singularly
kind and tender heart. He held, of course, that there was nothing like
leather, especially for mitigating the distress of the orphan and
causing the widow's heart to sing for joy. Every year he received
confidentially from the school-mistress a list of the worst-shod
children in the school, from whom he selected a dozen belonging to the
poorest families, that he might provide each of them at Christmas with a
pair of good, strong shoes. The boots of labourers out of work and of
other unfortunates he mended free of cost, regularly devoting to this
purpose that part of the Sabbath which was not occupied in proving the
non-existence of God. There was, for instance, poor Mary Henson--a loose
deserted creature with illegitimate children of various paternity, and
another always on the way--rejected by every charity in the parish,--to
whom Hankin never failed to send needed footwear both for herself and
her brats.

Further, whenever a pair of shoes had to be condemned as "not worth
mending," he endeavoured to retain them for a purpose of his own,
sometimes paying a few pence for them as "old leather." When summer came
round he set to work patching the derelicts as best he could, and would
sometimes have thirty or forty pairs in readiness by the end of June.
This was the season when the neighbourhood was annually invaded by
troops of pea-pickers--a very miscellaneous collection of humanity
comprising at the one extreme broken army men and university graduates,
and at the other the lowest riff-raff of the towns. It was Hankin's
regular custom to visit the camps where these people were quartered,
with the avowed object of "studying human nature," but really for the
purpose of spying out the shoeless, or worse than shoeless, feet. He was
a notable performer on the concertina, and I well remember seeing him in
the middle of a pea-field, surrounded by as sorry a group of human
wreckage as civilisation could produce, listening, or dancing to his
strains. Hankin's eyes were on their feet all the time. When the
performance was over he went round to one and another, mostly women, and
said something which made their eyes glisten.

And here it may be recorded that one day, towards the end of his life,
he received a letter from Canada containing a remittance for fifty
pounds. The writer, Major ---- of the North-West Mounted Police, said
that the money was payment for a certain pair of old shoes, the gift of
which "had set him on his feet in more senses than one." He also stated
that he had made a small fortune by speculating in town-lots, and,
hearing that Hankin was alive, he was prepared to send him any further
sum of money that might be necessary to secure him a comfortable old
age. Major ---- died last year, and left by his will the sum of £300 in
Consols to the Rector and churchwardens of Deadborough, the interest to
be expended annually at Christmas in providing boots and shoes for the
poor of the parish.

In the matter of trade Hankin was prosperous, and fully deserved his
prosperity. He has been dead four years, and I am wearing at this moment
almost the last pair of boots he ever made. His materials were the best
that could be procured, and his workmanship was admirable. His customers
were largely the well-to-do people of the neighbourhood, and his
standard price for walking-boots was thirty-three shillings. He was by
no means incapable of the higher refinements of "style," so that great
people like Lady Passingham or Captain Sorley were often heard to say
that they preferred his goods to those of Bond Street. He did a large
business in building shooting-boots for the numerous parties which
gathered at Deadborough Hall; his customers recommended him in the
London clubs, where such things are talked of, and he received orders
from all parts of the country and at all times of the year. He might, no
doubt, have made his fortune. But he would have no assistance save that
of his two sons. He lived for thirty-seven years in the house from which
Shott had sought to expel him, refusing all orders which exceeded the
limited working forces at his command. He chartered the corns on many
noble feet; he measured the gouty toe of a Duke to the fraction of a
millimetre, and made a contour map of all its elevations from the main
peak to the foot-hills; and it was said that a still more Exalted
Personage occasionally walked on leather of his providing.

Hankin neglected nothing which might contribute to the success of his
work, and applied himself to its principles with the same thoroughness
which distinguished his handling of the Utilitarian Standard. One of his
sons had emigrated to the United States and become, in course of time,
the manager of a large boot factory in Brockton, Mass. From him Hankin
received patterns and lasts and occasional consignments of American
leather. This latter he was inclined, in general, to despise.
Nevertheless, it had its uses. He found that an outer-sole of
hemlock-tanned leather would greatly lengthen the working life of a poor
man's heavy boot; though for want of suppleness it was useless for goods
supplied to the "quality." The American patterns and lasts, on the other
hand, he treated with great respect. He held that they embodied a far
sounder knowledge of the human foot than did the English variety, and
found them a great help to his trade in giving style, comfort, and
accuracy of fit. At a time when the great manufacturers of Stafford and
Northampton were blundering along with a range of four or five standard
patterns, Hankin, in his little shop, was working on much finer
intervals and producing nine regular sizes of men's boots. Indeed, his
ready-made goods were so excellent, and their "fit" so certain, that
some of his customers preferred them, and ordered him to abandon their

Such was Hankin's manner of life and conversation. If there is such a
place as heaven, and the reader ever succeeds in getting there, let him
look out for Shoemaker Hankin among the highest seats of glory. His
funeral oration was pronounced, though not in public, by Snarley Bob.
"Shoemaker Hankin were a great man. He'd got hold o' lots o' good
things; but he'd got some on 'em by the wrong end. He _talked_ more than
a man o' his size ought to ha' done. He spent his breath in proving that
God doesn't exist, and his life in proving that He does."


Towards the end of his life there were few persons with whom Snarley
would hold converse, for his contempt of the human race was
immeasurable. There was Mrs. Abel at the Rectory, whom he adored; there
were the Perrymans, whom he loved; and there was myself, whom he
tolerated. There was also his old wife, whom he treated as part of
himself, neither better nor worse. With other human beings--saving only
the children--his intercourse was limited as far as possible to
interjectory grunts and snarls--whence his name.

It was in an old quarry among the western hills, on a bleak January day
not long before his death, that I met Snarley Bob and heard him
discourse of the everlasting stars. The quarry was the place in which to
find Snarley most at his ease. In the little room of his cottage he
could hardly be persuaded to speak; the confined space made him
restless; and, as often as not, if a question were asked him he would
seem not to hear it, and would presently get up, walk out of the door,
and return when it pleased him. "He do be growing terrible
absent-minded," his wife would often say in these latter days. "I'm
a'most afraid sometimes as he may be took in a fit." But in the old
quarry he was another man. The open spaces of the sky seemed to bring
him to himself.

Many a time on a summer day I have watched Mrs. Abel's horse bearing its
rider up the steep slope that led to the quarry, and more than once have
I gone thither myself only to find that she had forestalled my hopes of
an interview. "Snarley Bob," she used to say to me, with a frank
disregard for my own feelings--"Snarley Bob is the one man in the world
whom I have found worth talking to."

The feature in Snarley's appearance that no one could fail to see, or,
having seen, forget, was the extraordinary width between the eyes. It
was commonly said that he had the power of seeing people behind his
back. And so doubtless he had, but the thing was no miracle. It was a
consequence of the position of his eyes, which, like those of a horse,
were as much at the side of his head as they were in front.

Snarley's manner of speech was peculiar. Hoarse and hesitating at first,
as though the physical act were difficult, and rising now and then into
the characteristic snarl, his voice would presently sink into a deep and
resonant note and flow freely onward in a tone of subdued emphasis that
was exceedingly impressive. Holding, as he did, that words are among the
least important things of life, Snarley was nevertheless the master of
an unforced manner of utterance more convincing by its quiet
indifference to effect than all the preternatural pomposities of the
pulpit and the high-pitched logic of the schools. I have often thought
that any Cause or Doctrine which could get itself expressed in Snarley's
tones would be in a fair way to conquer the world. Fortunately for the
world, however, it is not every Cause, nor every Doctrine, which would
lend itself to expression in that manner.

Seated on a heap of broken road metal, with a doubled sack between his
person and the stones, and with his short pipe stuck out at right angles
to his profile, so that he could see what was going on in the bowl,
Snarley Bob discoursed, at intervals, as follows:

"Yes, sir, there's things about the stars that fair knocks you silly to
think on. And, what's more, you can't think on 'em, leastways to no good
purpose, until they _have_ knocked you silly. Why, what's the good of
tellin' a man that it's ninety-three millions o' miles between the earth
and the sun? There's lots o' folks as knows that; but there's not one in
ten thousand as knows what it means. You gets no forrader wi' lookin' at
the figures in a book. You must thin yourself out, and make your body
lighter than air, and stretch and stretch at yourself until you gets the
sun and planets, floatin' like, in the middle o' your mind. Then you
begins to get hold on it. Or what's the good o' sayin' that Saturn has
rings and nine moons? You must go to one o' them moons, and see Saturn
half fillin' the sky, wi' his rings cuttin' the heavens from top to
bottom, all coloured wi' crimson and gold--then you begins to stagger at
it. That's why I say you can't think o' these things till they've
knocked you silly. Now there's Sir Robert Ball--it's knocked him silly,
I can tell you. I knowed that when I went to his lecture, by the
pictures he showed us, and I sez to myself, 'Bob,' I sez, 'that's a man
worth listenin' to.'

"You're right, sir. I wouldn't pay the least attention to anything you
might say about the stars unless you'd told me that it knocked you silly
to think on 'em. No, and I wouldn't talk to you about 'em either. You
wouldn't understand.

"And, as you were sayin', it isn't easy to get them big things the right
way up. When things gets beyond a certain bigness you don't know which
way up they are; and as like as not they're standin' on their heads when
you think they're standin' on their heels. That's the way with the
stars. They all want lookin' at t'other way up from what most people
looks at 'em. And perhaps it's a good thing they looks at 'em the wrong
way; becos if they looked at 'em the right way it would scare 'em out o'
their wits, especially the women--same as it does my missis when she
hears me and Mrs. Abel talkin'. Always exceptin' Mrs. Abel; you can't
scare her; and she sees most things right way up, that she does!

"But when it comes to the stars, you want to be a bit of a _medium_
before you can get at 'em. Oh yes, I've been a medium in my time, more
than I care to think of, and I could be a medium again to-morrow, if I
wanted to. But them's the only sort of folks as can see things from both
ends. Most folks only look at things from one end--and that as often as
not the wrong un. Mediums looks from both ends; and, if they're good at
it, they soon find out which end's right. You see, some on 'em--like me,
for instance--can throw 'emselves out o' 'emselves, in a manner o'
speaking, so that they can see their own bodies, just as if they was
miles away, same as I can see that man walking on the Deadborough Road.

"Well, I've often done it, and many's the story I could tell of things
I've seen by day and night; but it wasn't till I went to hear Sir Robert
Ball as the grand idea came to me. 'Why not throw yerself into the
stars, Bob?' I sez to myself. And, by gum, sir, I did it that very
night. How I did it I don't know; I won't say as there weren't a drop o'
drink in it; but the minute I'd _got through_, I felt as I'd stretched
out wonderful and, blessed if I didn't find myself standin' wi' millions
of other spirits, right in the middle o' Saturn's rings. And the things
I see there I couldn't tell you, no, not if you was to give me a
thousand pounds. Talk o' spirits! I tell you there was millions on 'em!
And the lights and the colours--oh, but it's no good talkin'! I looked
back and wanted to know where the earth was, and there I see it,
dwindled to a speck o' light.

"Now you can understand why I keeps my mouth shut. Do you think I'm
going to talk of them things to a lot o' folks that's got no more sense
nor swine? Not me! And what else is there that's worth talking on? Who's
goin' to make a fuss and go blatherin' about this and that, when you
know the whole earth's no bigger nor a pea? My eyes! if some o' these
'ere talkin' politicians knowed half o' what I know, they'd stop their
blowin' pretty quick.

"There's our parson--and he's a good man, though not half good enough
for _her_--why, you might as well talk to a babby three months old! If I
told him, he'd only think I was crazy; and like as not he'd send for old
Doctor Kenyon to come up and feel my head, same as they did wi' Shepherd
Toller, Clun Downs way, before they put him in the asylum. I sometimes
says to my missis that it's a good thing I'm a poor man wi' nowt but a
flock o' sheep to look after. For don't you see, sir, when once you've
got hold o' the bigness o' things it's all one--flocks o' sheep and
nations o' men? If I were King o' England, or Prime Minister, or any
sort o' great man, knowing what I know, I'd only think I were a bigger
humbug nor the rest. I couldn't keep it up. But bein' only a shepherd,
I've got nothing to keep up, and I'm thankful I haven't.

"I allus knows when folks has got things wrong end up by the amount they
talks. When you get 'em the right way you don't _want_ to talk on 'em,
except it may be to one or two, like Mrs. Abel, as got 'em the same way
as yourself. So when you hear folks jawin', you can allus tell what's
the matter wi' 'em.

"There's old Shoemaker Hankin at Deadborough. Know him? Well, did you
ever hear such a blatherin' old fool? 'All these things you're mad on,
Snarley,' he sez to me one day, 'are nowt but matter and force.' 'Matter
and force,' I sez; 'what's them?' And then he lets on for half a' hour
trying to tell me all about matter and force. When he'd done I sez, 'Tom
Hankin, there's more sense in one o' them old shoes than there is in
your silly 'ead. You've got things all wrong end up, and you're just
baain' at 'em like a' old sheep!' 'How can you prove it?' he sez. 'I
know it,' I sez, 'by the row you makes.' It's a sure sign, sir; you take
my word for it.

"Then there's all these parsons preaching away Sunday after Sunday. Why,
doesn't it stand to sense that if they'd got things right way up, there
they'd be, and that 'ud be the end on it? And it's because they're all
wrong that they've got to go on jawin' to persuade people they're right.
One day I was in Parson Abel's study. 'What's all them books about?' I
sez. 'Religion, most on 'em,' sez he. 'Well,' I sez, 'if the folks as
wrote 'em had got things right way up they wouldn't 'a needed to 'a
wrote so many books.'

"Then, agen, there's that professor as comes fishin' in summer. 'Mr.
Dellanow,' he sez to me one day, 'I take a great interest in yer.'
'That's a darned sight more'n I take in you,' I sez, for if there's one
thing as puts my bristles up it's bein' told as folks takes a' interest
in me. 'Well,' he sez, for he wasn't easy to offend, 'I want to 'ave a
talk.' 'What about?' I sez. 'I want to talk about the stars and the
space as they're floatin' in.' 'Has space ever knocked yer silly?' I
sez. 'Yes,' he sez, 'in a manner o' speakin' it has.' 'No,' I sez, 'it
hasn't, because if it had you wouldn't want to talk about it.' Well,
there was no stoppin' 'im, and at last he gets it out that space is just
a way we have o' lookin' at things. I know'd well enough what he meant,
though I could see as he were puttin' it wrong way up. When he'd done I
sez, 'That's all right. But suppose space wasn't a way folks have o'
lookin' at things, but something else, what difference would that make?'
'I don't see what you mean,' he sez. 'That's because you don't see what
you mean yerself,' I sez. 'You're just like the rest on 'em--talkin'
about things you've never seen, but only heard other folks talkin'
about. You're in the same box wi' Shoemaker Hankin and the parsons and
all the lot on 'em. What's the good o' jawin' about space when you've
never been there yourself? I have. I've seen more space in one minute
than you've ever heard talk on since you were born. Don't tell me! If
you could see what I've seen you'd never say another word about space as
long as yer lived.'

"But you was askin' what bein' a medium has got to do wi' knowin' about
the stars. More than some folks think. They're two roads leadin' to the
same place. Both on 'em are ways o' gettin' to the right end of things.
What's wrong wi' the mediums is that they haven't got _line_ enough.
They only manage to get just outside their own skins; but what's wanted
is to get right on to the edge of the world and then look back. That's
what the stars teaches you to do; and when you've done it--my word! it
turns yer clean inside out!

"There's lots of nonsense in mediums; but there's no nonsense in the
stars. And it's the stars that's goin' to knock the nonsense out o' the
mediums, you mark my word! I found that out, for, as I was tellin' you,
I used to be one myself, and am one now, for the matter o' that.

"Now you listen to what I'm goin' to tell you. There's lots o' spirits
about: but they don't talk, at least not as a rule, and they don't want
to talk; and when the mediums make 'em talk, they're liars! Spirits has
better ways o' doin' things than talkin' on 'em. That's what you finds
out when you gives yourself a long line and gets out to the edge o' the
world. Then you looks back, and you sees that the whole thing's alive.
It looks you straight in the face; and you can see it thinkin' and
smilin' and frownin' and doin' things, just as I can see you at this
minute. Do you think the stars can't understand one another? They can do
it a sight better than you and me can. And they do it without speakin' a
word. That, I tell you, is what you _sees_ when you lets your line out
to the edge!

"And when you've seen it you don't bother any more wi' makin' the
spirits rap on tables and such like. What's the sense o' tryin' to find
out whether you'll be a spirit after you're dead when you know there's
nothing else anywhere? But it's no good talkin'. If you're not a bit of
a medium yourself you'll never understand--no, not if I was to go on
talkin' till both on us are frozen to death. And I reckon you're pretty
cold already--you look it. Come down the hill wi' me, and I'll get my
missis to make yer a cup o' hot tea."



Farmer Perryman was rich, and it was Snarley Bob who had made him so.
Now Snarley was a cunning breeder of sheep. For three-and-forty years he
had applied his intuitions and his patience to the task of producing
rams and ewes such as the world had never seen. His system of
"observation and experiment" was peculiarly his own; it is written down
in no book, but stands recorded on barn-doors, on gate-posts, on
hurdles, and on the walls of a wheeled box which was Snarley's main
residence during the spring months of the year. It is a literature of
notches and lines--cross, parallel, perpendicular, and horizontal--of
which the chief merit in Snarley's eyes was that nobody could understand
it save himself. But it was enough to give his faculties all the aid
they required. By such simple means he succeeded long ago in laying the
practical basis of a life's work, evolving a highly complicated system
controlled by a single principle, and yet capable of manifold
application. The Perryman flock, now famous among sheep-breeders all
over the world, was the result.

Thirty years ago this flock was the admiration and the envy of the whole
countryside. Young farmers with capital were confident that they were
going to make money as soon as they began to breed from the Perryman
strain. To have purchased a Perryman ram was to have invested your money
in a gilt-edged, but rising, stock. The early "eighties" were times of
severe depression in those parts; capital was scarce, farmers were
discouraged, and the flocks deteriorated. At the present moment there is
no more prosperous corner in agricultural England, and the basis of that
prosperity is the life-work of Snarley Bob.

The fame of that work is now world-wide, though the author of it is
unknown. The Perryman rams have been exported into almost every
sheep-raising country on the globe. Hundreds of thousands of their
descendants are now nibbling food, and converting it into fine mutton
and long-stapled wool, in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the
Argentine. Only last summer I saw a large animal meditating procreation
among the foot-hills of the Rockies, and was informed of the fabulous
price of his purchase--fabulous but commercially sound, for the animal
was a Perryman ram, and the owner was sublimely confident of being "up
against a sure thing." Many fortunes have been made from that source;
and there are perhaps millions of human beings now eating mutton or
wearing cloth who, if they could trace the authorship of these good
things, would stand up and bless the memory of Snarley Bob.

One day among the hills I met the old man in presence of his charge,
like a general reviewing his troops. As the flock passed on before us
the professional reticence of Snarley was broken, and he began to talk
of the animals before him, pointing to this and to that. Little by
little his remarks began to remind me of something I had read in a book.
On returning home, I looked the matter up. The book was a treatise on
Mendelism, and, as I read on, the link was strengthened. Meeting Snarley
Bob a few days afterwards, I did my best to communicate what I had
learnt about Mendelism. He listened with profound attention, though, as
I thought, with a trace of annoyance. He made some deprecatory remarks,
quite in character, about "learned chaps as goes 'umbuggin' about things
they don't understand." But in the end he was forced to confess some
interest in what he had heard. "Them fellers," he said, "is on the right
road; but they don't know where they're goin', and they don't go far
enough." "How much further ought they to go?" I asked. For answer
Snarley pointed to rows of notches on a five-barred gate and said, "It's
all there." Whether it is "all there" or not I cannot tell; for the
secret of those notches was never revealed to me, and the brain which
held it lies under eight feet of clay in Deadborough churchyard. Perhaps
Snarley is now discussing the matter with "the tall Shepherd"[1] in some
nook of Elysium where the winds are less keen than they used to be on
Quarry Hill.

[Footnote 1: See _post_, "The Death of Snarley Bob."]

Had Snarley received a due share of the unearned increment which his own
and his rams' achievements brought into other hands he would probably
have died a millionaire. But for all his toil and skill he received no
more than a shepherd's wage. There were not wanting persons, of course,
who regarded his condition as a crucial instance of the exceeding
rottenness of our present industrial system. There was a great lady from
London, named Lady Lottie Passingham, who resolved to take up the case.
Lady Lottie belonged to the class who look upon the universe as a leaky
old kettle and themselves as tinkers appointed by Providence to mend the
holes. That Snarley's position represented a hole of the first magnitude
was plain enough to Lady Lottie the moment she became acquainted with
the facts. Her first step was to interest her brother, the Earl of
Clodd, a noted breeder of pedigree stock, on the old man's behalf; her
second, to rouse the slumbering soul of the victim to a sense of the
injustice of his lot. I believe she succeeded better with her brother
than with Snarley; for with him she utterly failed. Her discourse on the
possibilities of bettering his position might as well have been spoken
into the ears of the senior ram; and if the ram had responded, as he
probably would, by pinning Lady Lottie against the wall of the barn, her
overthrow would have been no more complete nor unmerited than that she
actually received from Snarley Bob.

For it so happened that Providence, in equipping the lady for her
world-mending mission, had forgotten to give her a pleasant voice. Now
if there was one thing in the world which made Snarley "madder" than
anything else could do, it was the high-pitched, strident tones of a
woman engaged in argument. The consequence was that his self-restraint
broke down, and before the lady had said half the things she had meant
to say, or come within sight of the splendid offer she was going to make
on behalf of the Earl of Clodd, Snarley had spoken words and performed
actions which caused his benefactress to retreat from the farmyard with
her nose in the air, declaring she "would have nothing more to do with
the horrid brute." She was not the first of Snarley's would-be
benefactors who had formed the same resolve.

Now this extraordinary conduct on Snarley's part was by no means due to
any transcendental contempt for money. I have myself offered him many a
half-crown, which has never been refused; and Mrs. Abel, unless I am
much mistaken, has given him many a pound. Still less did it originate
from rustic contentment with a humble lot; nor from a desire to act up
to his catechism, by being satisfied with that station in life which
Providence had assigned him. For there was no more restless soul within
the four seas of Britain, and none less willing to govern his conduct by
moral saws. And stupidity, which would probably have explained the facts
in the case of any other dweller in those parts, was not to be thought
of in Snarley's case. "I knew what the old gal was drivin' at before
she'd finished the text," said Snarley to me.

The truth is that he was afflicted with an immense and incurable
arrogance which caused him to resent the implication, by whomsoever
offered, that he was worse off than other people. It was Snarley's
distinction that he was able to maintain, and carry off, as much pride
on eighteen shillings a week as would require in most people at least
fifty thousand a year for effective sustenance. Of course, it was not
the eighteen shillings a week that made him proud; it was the
consciousness that he had inner resources which his would-be benefactors
knew not of. He regarded them all as his inferiors, and, had he known
how to do it, he would have treated them _de haut en bas_. Ill-bred
insolence was therefore his only weapon; but his use of this was as
effective as if it had been the well-bred variety in the hands of the
grandest of grand seigneurs. No wonder, then, that he failed to achieve
the position to which, in the view of Lady Lottie Passingham, his
talents entitled him.

But the inner resources of which I have spoken were Snarley's sufficient
compensation for his want of worldly success. The composition of this
hidden bread, it is true, was somewhat singular and not easy to imitate.
If the reader, when he has learned its ingredients, choose to call it
"religion," there is certainly nothing to prevent him. But that was not
the word that Snarley used, nor the one he would have approved of. In
his own limited nomenclature the elements of his spiritual kingdom were
two in number--"the stars" and "the spirits."

Snarley's knowledge of the heavens was extensive, if not profound. On
any fair view of profundity, I am inclined to think that it was
profound, though of the technique of astronomy he knew but little. He
had all the constellations at his fingers' ends, and had given to many
of them names of his own; he knew their seasons, their days, even their
hours; he knew the comings and goings of every visible planet; by day
and night the heavens were his clock. It was characteristic of him that
he seldom spoke of the weather when "passing the time of day"--a thing
which he never did except to his chosen friends. He spoke almost
invariably of the planets or the stars. "Good morning, the sun's very
low at this time o' year--did you see the lunar halo last night?--a fine
lot o' shootin' stars towards four o'clock, look for 'em again to-morrow
in the nor'-west--you can get your breakfast by moonlight this week--Old
Tabby [Orion] looks well to-night--you'd better have a look at Sirius
afore the moon arises, I never see him so clear as he is now"--these
were the greetings which Snarley offered "to them as could understand"
from behind the hedge or within the penfold.

But it was not from superficialities of this kind that the depth of his
stellar interests was to be measured. I once told him that a great man
of old had declared that the stars were gods. "So they are, but I wonder
how he found that out," said Snarley; "because you can't find it out by
lookin' at 'em. You may look at 'em till you're blind, and you'll never
see anything but little lights." "It was just his fancy," I said, like a
simpleton. "Fancy be ----!" said Snarley. "It's a plain truth--that is,
it's plain enough for them as knows the way."

"What's that?" I said.

"It's a way as nobody can take unless they're born to it. And, what's
more, it's a way as nobody can _understand_ unless they're born to it.
Didn't I tell you the other day that there's only one sort of folks as
can tell what the stars are--and that's the folks as can get out o'
their own skins? And they're not many as can do that. But that man you
were just talkin' of, as said the stars were gods, _he_ must ha' done
it. It's my opinion that in the old days there was more folks as could
get out o' their skins than there are now. I sometimes wish _I'd_ been
born in the old days. I should ha' had somebody to talk to then. I've
got hardly anybody now. And you get tired sometimes o' keepin' yerself
to yerself. If I were a learned man I'd be readin' them old books day
and night."

"What about the Bible?" I asked.

"Well, that's a good old book," said Snarley; "but there's some things
in it that's no good to anybody--_except to talkin' men_."

"Who are they?" I said.

"Why, folks as doesn't understand things, but only likes to talk about
'em: parsons--at least, more nor half on 'em--ay, and these 'ere
politicians too, for the matter o' that. There's some folks as dresses
up in fine clothes, and there's some as dresses up in fine words: one
sort wants to be looked at, and the other wants to be listened to.
Doesn't it stand to sense that it's just the same? Bless your 'eart,
it's all _show_! Why, there's lots o' men as goes huntin' about till
they finds a bit o' summat as they think 'ud look well if they dressed
it up in talk. 'Ah,' they say to themselves, 'that'll just do for me;
that's what I'm goin' to _believe_; when it's got its Sunday clothes on
it'll look like a regular lord.' Well, there's plenty o' that sort
about; and you can allus tell 'em by the 'oller sound as they makes. And
them's the folks as spoils the old Bible.

"Not but what there's things in the Bible as is 'oller to begin wi'. But
there's plenty that isn't, if these talkin' chaps 'ud only leave it
alone. Now, here's a bit as I calls tip-top: 'When I consider thy
heavens, the work of thy fingers'" (here Snarley quoted several verses
of the Eighth Psalm).

"Now, when you gets hold on a bit like that, you don't want to go
dressin' on it up. You just puts it in your pipe and smokes it, and then
it does you good! _That's_ it!

"There's was once a Salvation Army man as come and asked me if I
accepted the Gospel. 'Yes, my lad,' I sez; 'I've accepted it--but only
as a thing to _smoke_, not as a thing to go _bangin' about_. Put your
drum in the cup-board, my lad,' I sez; 'and put the Gospel in your pipe,
and you'll be a wiser man.'

"As for all this 'ere argle-bargling about them big things, _there's
nowt in it_, you take my word for that! The little things for
argle-bargle, the big uns' for smokin', that's what _I_ sez! Put the big
'uns in your pipe, sir; put 'em in your pipe, and smoke 'em!"

These last words were spoken in tones of great solemnity and repeated
several times.

"That's good advice, Snarley," I said; "but the writer you just quoted
hadn't got a pipe to put 'em in."

"Didn't need one," said Snarley; "there weren't so many talkin' men
about in his time. Folks then were born right end up to begin wi', and
didn't need to smoke 'emselves round.

"Ay, ay, sir, I often think about them old days--and it's the Bible as
set me thinkin' on 'em. That's the only old book as I ever read. And
there's some staggerers in it, I can tell you! Wonderful! If some o'
them old Bible men could come back and hear the parsons talkin' about
'em--eh, my word, there would be a rumpus! I'd like to see it, that I
would! I'll tell you one thing, sir--and don't you forget it--you'll
never understand the old Bible, leastways not the best bits in it, so
long as you only wants to talk about 'em, same as a man _allus_ wants to
do when he's stuck inside his own skin. Now, there's that bit about the
heavens, as I just give you--that's a bit o' real all-right, isn't it?"

"Yes," I said, "it is."

"Well, can't you see as the man as said them words had just let himself
out to the other end o' the line and was lookin' back? He'd got himself
right into the middle o' the bigness o' things, and that's what you
can't do as long as you keeps inside your own skin. But I tell you that
when you gets outside for the first time it gives you a pretty shakin'
up. You begins to think what a fool you've been all your life long."

Beyond such statements as these, repeated many times and in many forms,
I could get no light on Snarley's dealings with the heavens.

To interpret his dealings with "the spirits" is a still harder task. It
was one of his common sayings that this matter also could not be
discussed in terms intelligible to the once-born. That he did not mean
by "spirits" what the vulgar might suppose, is certain. It is true that
at one time he used to attend spiritualistic séances held in a large
neighbouring village, and he was commonly regarded as a "medium." This
latter term was adopted by Snarley in many conversations I had with him
as a true description of himself. But here again it was obvious that he
used the term only for want of a better. He never employed it without
some sort of caveat, uttered or implied, to the effect that the word
must be taken with qualifications--unstated qualifications, but still
suggestive of important distinctions.

It is noteworthy in this connection that a bitter quarrel existed
between Snarley and the spiritualists with whom he had once been
associated. They had cast him forth from among them as a smoking brand;
and Snarley on his part never lost a chance of denouncing them as liars
and rogues. One of the most violent scenes ever witnessed in the
tap-room of the Nag's Head had been perpetrated by Snarley on a certain
occasion when Shoemaker Hankin was defending the thesis that all forms
of religion might now be considered as done for, "except spiritualism."
Even Hankin, who reverenced no thing in heaven or earth, had protested
against the unprintable words which with Snarley greeted his logic;
while the landlord (Tom Barter of happy memory), himself the lowest
black-guard in the village, had suggested that he should "draw it mild."

This reminds me that Snarley regarded strong drink as a means, and a
legitimate means, for obtaining access to hidden things; nor did he
scruple at times to use it for that end. "There's nowt like a drop o'
drink _for openin' the door_," he remarked. "But only for them as is
born to it. If you're not born to it, drink shuts the door on you
tighter nor ever. There's not one man in ten that drink doesn't make a
bigger fool of than he is already. Look at Shoemaker Hankin. Half a pint
of cider'll set him hee-hawin' like the Rectory donkey. But there's some
men as can't get a lift no other way. It's like that wi' me sometimes.
There's weeks and weeks together when I'm fair stuck inside my own skin
and can't get out on it nohow. That's when I know a drop'll do me good.
I can a'most hear something go click in my head, and then I gets among
'em" (the spirits) "in no time. A pint's mostly enough to do it; but
sometimes it takes a quart; and once or twice I've had to go on till
somebody's had to help me home. But when once I begins I never stops
till I see the door openin'--and then not a drop more!"



One day I was discussing with Mrs. Abel the oft-recurrent problem of
Snarley's peculiar mental constitution, a subject to which she had given
the name "Snarleychology."[2] Her knowledge of the old man's ways was of
longer date than mine, and she understood him infinitely better than I.
"Suppose, now," I said "that Snarley had been able to express himself
after the manner of superlative people like you and me, what would have
come of it?" "Art," said Mrs. Abel, "and most probably poetry. He's just
a mass of intuitions!" "What a pity they are inarticulate!" I answered,
repeating the appropriate commonplace. "But they are not inarticulate,"
said Mrs. Abel. "Snarley has found a medium of expression which gives
him perfect satisfaction." "Then the poems ought to be in existence,"
said I. "So they are," was the answer; "they exist in the shape of
Farmer Perryman's big rams. The rams are the direct creations of genius
working upon appropriate material. None but a dreamer of dreams could
have brought them into being; every one of them is an embodied ideal.
Don't make the blunder of thinking that Snarley's sheep-raising has
nothing to do with his star-gazings and spirit-rappings. It's all one.
Shakespeare writes _Hamlet_, and Snarley produces 'Thunderbolt.'[3] To
call Snarley inarticulate because he hasn't written a _Hamlet_ is as
absurd as it would be to call Shakespeare inarticulate because he didn't
produce a 'Thunderbolt.' Both _Hamlet_ and 'Thunderbolt' were born in
the highest heaven of invention. Both are the fruit of intuitions
concentrated on their object with incredible pertinacity."

[Footnote 2: I suggested to Mrs. Abel that this word wouldn't do, and
proposed "Snarleyology" instead. She declined the improvement at once,
remarking that 'the soul of the word was in the _ch_.']

[Footnote 3: The name of the greatest of the Perryman rams--a brute
"with more decorations than a Field-marshal."]

I was forced into silence for a time, bewildered by a statement which
seemed to alternate between levelling the big things down to the little
ones, and raising the little ones to the level of the big. When I had
chewed this hard saying as well as I could, I bolted it for further
digestion, and continued the conversation. "Has Snarley," I asked, "ever
been tried with poetry, in the ordinary sense of the term?"

"Yes," said the lady, "an experiment was once made on him by Miss ----"
(naming a literary counterpart to Lady Lottie Passingham), "who visited
him in his cottage and insisted on reading him some poem of Whittier's.
In ten minutes she was fleeing from the cottage in terror of her life,
and no one has since repeated the experiment."

"I think," I said, "that if you would consent to be the experimenter we
might obtain better results."

Now in one important respect Nature had dealt more bountifully with Mrs.
Abel than with Lady Lottie Passingham. Though Mrs. Abel had no desire to
reform the universe, and was conscious of no mission to that end, she
possessed a voice which might have produced a revolution. It was a soft
contralto, vibrant and rich, and tremulous with tones which the gods
would have come from Olympus to hear. She never sang, but her speech was
music, rich and rare. In early life, as I have said, she had been on the
stage, and Art had completed the gifts of Nature. Here lay one of the
secrets of her power over the soul of Snarley Bob. Her voice was
hypnotic with all men, and Snarley yielded to it as to a spell.

Another point which has its bearing on this, and also on what has to
follow, is that Snarley had a passionate love for the song of the
nightingale. The birds haunted the district in great numbers, and the
time of their singing was the time when Snarley "let out his line" to
its furthest limits. His love of the nightingale was coupled, strangely
enough, with a hatred equally intense for the cuckoo. To the song of the
cuckoo in early spring he was fairly tolerant; but in June, when, as
everybody knows, "she changeth her tune," Snarley's rage broke forth
into bitter persecution. He had invented a method of his own, which I
shall not divulge, for snaring these birds; and whenever he caught them
he promptly wrung their necks. For the same reason he would have been
not unwilling to wring the necks of Lady Lottie Passingham and of the
Literary Counterpart had they continued to pester him.

Here then were the conditions from which we drew the materials for our
conspiracy. Mrs. Abel, though at first reluctant, consented at last to
play the active part in a new piece of experimental Snarleychology. It
was determined that we would try our subject with poetry, and also that
we would try him with "something big." For a long time we discussed what
this something "big" was to be. Choice nearly fell on "A Grammarian's
Funeral," but I am glad this was not adopted; for, though it represented
very well our own views of Snarley Bob, I doubt if it would have
appealed directly to the subject himself. At length one of us suggested
Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale," to which the other immediately replied,
"Why didn't we think of that before?" It was the very thing.

But how were we to proceed? We knew very well that a deliberately
planned attempt to "read something" to Snarley was sure to fail. He
would suspect that we were "interested in him" in the way he always
resented, or that we wanted to improve his mind, which was also a thing
he could not bear. Still, we might practice a little artful deception.
We might meet him together by accident in the quarry, as we had done
before; and Mrs. Abel, after due preliminaries and a little leading-on
about nightingales, might produce the volume from her pocket and read
the poem. So it was arranged. But I think we parted that night with a
feeling that we were going to do something ridiculous, and Mr. Abel told
me quite frankly that we were a pair of precious fools.

One lovely morning about the middle of April the desired meeting in the
quarry was duly brought off. The lambing season was almost over, and
Snarley was occupied in looking after a few belated ewes. We arrived, of
course, separately; but there must have been something in our manner
which put Snarley on his guard. He looked at us in turn with glances
which plainly told that he suspected a planned attack on the isolation
of his soul. Presently he lapsed into his most disagreeable manner, and
his horse-like face began to wear a singularly brutal expression. It was
one of his bad days; for some time he had evidently been "stuck in his
skin," and probably intended to end his incarceration that very night by
getting drunk. He was, in fact, determined to drive us away, and, though
the presence of Mrs. Abel disarmed him of his worst insolence, he
managed to become sufficiently unpleasant to make us both devoutly wish
we were at the bottom of the hill. I shudder to think what would have
happened in these circumstances to Lady Lottie Passingham or to the
Literary Counterpart.

The thing, however, had cost too much trouble to be lightly abandoned,
and we did not relish the prospect of being greeted by peals of laughter
if we returned defeated to the Rectory. In desperation, therefore, Mrs.
Abel began to force the issue. "I'm told the nightingale was heard in
the Rectory grounds last night, Snarley." "Nightingales be blowed,"
replied the Subject. "I've no time to listen if there was a hundred
singin'. I've been up with these blessed ewes three nights without a
wink o' sleep, and we've lost two lambs as were got by 'Thunderbolt.'"
"Well, some time, when you are not quite so busy, I want you to hear
what a great man has written about the nightingale," said Mrs. Abel. She
spoke in a rather forced voice, which suggested the persuasive tones of
the village curate when addressing a church-full of naughty children at
the afternoon service.

"_I_ don't want to hear it," said Snarley, whose suspicions were now
raised to certitude, "and, what's more, I _won't_ hear it. What's the
good? If anybody's been talkin' about nightingales, it's sure to be
rubbish. Nightingales is things you can't talk about, but only listen
to. No, thank you, my lady. When I wants nightingales, I'll go and hear
'em. I don't want to know what nobody had said about 'em. Besides, I've
too much to think about with these 'ere ewes. There's one lyin' dead
behind them stones as I've got to bury. She died last night;" and he
began to ply us with disgusting details about the premature confinement
of a sheep.

It was all over. Mrs. Abel remounted her horse, and presently rode down
the hill. When she had gone fifty yards or so, she took a little
calf-bound volume of Keats from her pocket and held it aloft. The signal
was not difficult to read. "Yes," it said, "we _are_ a pair of precious

       *       *       *       *       *

Five months elapsed, during which I neither saw nor much desired to see
Mrs. Abel. The harvest was now gathered, and the event was to be
celebrated by a "harvest home" in the Perrymans' big barn. They were
kind enough to send me the usual invitation, which I accepted "with
pleasure"--a phrase in which, for once in my frequent use of it, I spoke
the truth. The prospect of going down to Deadborough served, of course,
to revive the painful memory of our humiliating defeat. Looked at in the
perspective of time, our enterprise stood out in all its essential
folly. But I have frequently found that the contemplation of a past
mistake has a strange tendency to cause its repetition; and it was so in
this case. For it suddenly occurred to me that this "harvest home" might
give us an opportunity for a flank attack on the soul of Snarley Bob,
whereby we might retrieve the disaster of our frontal operations on
Quarry Hill. I lost no time in divulging my plan in the proper quarters.
Mrs. Abel replied exactly as Lambert did when Cromwell, "walking in the
garden of Brocksmouth House," told him of that sudden bright idea for
rolling up the Scottish army at Dunbar--"She had meant to say the same
thing." The plan was simple enough; but had its execution rested with
any other person than Mrs. Abel--with the Literary Counterpart, for
example--it would have miscarried as completely as its fore-runner.

The company assembled in the Perrymans' barn consisted of the labouring
population of three large farms, men and women, all dressed in their
Sunday best. To these were added, as privileged outsiders, his Reverence
and Mrs. Abel, the popular stationmaster of Deadborough, Tom Barter--who
supplied the victuals--and myself. Good meat, of course, was in
abundance, and good drink also--the understanding with regard to the
latter being that, though you might go the length of getting "pretty
lively," you must stop short of getting drunk.

The proceedings commenced in comparative silence, the rustics
communicating with one another only by such whispers as might be
perpetrated in church. But this did not last very long. From the moment
the first turn was given to the tap in the cider-barrel, the attentive
observer might have detected a rapid crescendo of human voices, which
rose into a roar long before the end of the feast. When all had eaten
their fill, songs were called for, and "Master" Perryman, of course, led
off with "The Farmer's Boy."

Others followed. I was struck by the fact that nearly all the songs were
of an extremely melancholy nature--the chief objects celebrated by the
Muse being withered flowers, little coffins, the corpses of sweethearts,
last farewells, and hopeless partings on the lonely shore. Tears flow;
ladies sigh; voices choke; hearts break; children die; lovers prove
untrue. It was tragic, and I confess I could have wept myself--not at
the songs, for they were stupid enough,--but to think of the grey
lugubrious life whose keynote was all too truly struck by this morbid,
melancholy stuff.

Tom Barter, who had been in the army, and was just convalescent from a
bad turn of _delirium tremens_, sang a song about a dying soldier,
visited on his gory bed by a succession of white-robed spirits,
including his little sister, his aged mother, and a young female with a
babe, whom the dying hero appeared to have treated none too well.

The song was vigorously encored, and Tom at once responded with a
second--and I have no doubt, genuine--barrack-room ballad. The hero of
this ditty is a "Lancer bold." He is duly wetted with tears before his
departure for the wars; but is cheered up at the last moment by the
lady's assurance that she will meet him on his return in "a carriage
gay." Arrived at the front, he performs the usual prodigies: slashes his
way through the smoke, spikes the enemy's guns, and spears
"Afghanistan's chieftains" right and left. He then returns to England,
dreaming of wedding bells, and we next see him on the deck of a
troop-ship, scanning the expectant throng on the shore and asking
himself, "Where, oh where, is that carriage gay?" Of course, it isn't
there, and the disconsolate Lancer at once repairs to the "smiling"
village whence the lady had intended to issue in the carriage. Here he
is met by "a jet-black hearse with nodding plumes," seeks information
from the weeping bystanders, and has his worst suspicions confirmed. He
compares the gloomy vehicle before him with the "carriage gay" of his
dreams, and, having sufficiently elaborated the contrast, resolves to
end his blighted existence on the lady's grave. How he spends the next
interval is not told; but towards midnight we find him in the churchyard
with his "trusty" weapon in his hand. This, in keeping with the unities,
should have been a lance; but apparently the Lancer was armed on some
mixed principle known to the War Office, and allowed to take his pick of
weapons before going on leave; for presently a shot rings out, and one
of England's stoutest champions is no more.

During the singing of this song I noticed a poorly clad girl, with a
sweet, intelligent face, put a handkerchief to her mouth and stifle a
sob. She quietly made her way towards the barn door, and presently
slipped out into the night.

The thing had not escaped the notice of Snarley Bob, and I could see
wrath in his eyes. Being near him, I asked what it meant. "By God!" he
said, "it's a good job for Tom Barter as the rheumatiz has crippled my
old hands. If I could only double my fist, I'd put a mark on his silly
jaw as 'ud stop him singing that song for many a day to come. Not that
there's any sense in it. But it's just because there's no sense in 'em
that such songs oughtn't to be sung. See that young woman go out just
now? Well, she's in a decline, and knows as she can't last very long.
And she's got a young man in India--in the same battery as our Bill--as
nice and straight a lad as ever you see."

Another song was called "Fallen Leaves," the singer being a son of Peter
Shott, the local preacher--a young man of dissipated appearance, with a
white face and an excellent tenor voice. This song, of course, was a
disquisition on the evanescence of all things here below. Each verse
began "I saw," and ended with the refrain:

    "Fallen leaves, fallen leaves!
    With woe untold my bosom heaves,
    Fallen leaves, fallen leaves!"

"I saw," said the song, a mixed assortment of decaying glories--among
them, a pair of lovers on a seat, a Christmas family party, a rosebush,
a railway accident on Bank Holiday, a rake's deathbed, a battlefield, an
oak tree in its pride, and the same oak in process of being converted by
an undertaker into a coffin for the poet's only friend. All these and
many more the poet "saw" and buried in his fallen leaves, assuring the
world that his bosom heaved with woe untold for every one of them.

Tom Barter, who was the leading emotionalist in the parish, was visibly
affected, his bosom heaving in a manner which the poet himself could not
have excelled; while his poor anæmic wife, who had hesitated about
coming to the feast because her eye was still discoloured from the blow
Tom had given her last week, feebly expressed the hope "that it would do
him good."

So it went on. Whatever jocund rebecks may have sounded in the England
of long ago, their strains found no echo in the funeral ditties of the
Perrymans' feast.

Snarley Bob, in whom the drink had kindled some hankering for eternal
splendours, was well content with the singing of "The Farmer's Boy," and
joined in the chorus with the remnants of a once mighty voice. After
that he became restless and increasingly snappish; his face darkened at
"Fallen Leaves," and he began to look positively dangerous when a young
man who was a railway porter in town, now home for a holiday, made a
ghastly attempt at merriment by singing a low-class music-hall catch.
What he would have done or said I do not know, for at that moment the
announcement was made which the reader has been expecting--that Mrs.
Abel would give a recitation.

"Now," said Snarley to his neighbour, "we shall have summat like." His
whole being sprang to attention. He rapidly knocked out the ashes of his
pipe, refilled, and lit; and, folding his arms before him on the table,
leant forward to listen. For my part, I took a convenient station where
I could watch Snarley, as Hamlet watched the king in the play. He was
far too intent on Mrs. Abel to notice me.

The barn was dimly lighted, and the speaker, standing far back from the
end of the table, was in deep shadow and almost invisible. Has the
reader ever heard a voice which trembles with emotions gathered up from
countless generations of human experience--a voice in which the memories
of ages, the designs of Nature, the woes and triumphs of evolving worlds
become articulate; a voice that speaks a language not of words, but of
things, transmuting the eternal laws to tones, and pouring into the soul
by their means a stream of solicitations to the secret springs of the
buried life? Such voices there are: Wordsworth heard one of them in the
song of "The Solitary Reaper." In such a voice, rolling forth from the
shadows, and in exquisite articulation, there came to us these words:

    "My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness steals my sense,
      As though of hemlock I had drunk,
    Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains,
      One minute past, and Lethewards had sunk."

The noisy crew were hushed: silence fell like a palpable thing. Snarley
Bob shifted his position: he raised his arms from the table, grasped his
chin with his right hand; with his left he took the pipe from his mouth,
and pointed its stem at the speaker; his features relaxed, and then
fixed into the immobility of the worshipping saint.

Observation was difficult; for I, too, was half hypnotised by the voice
from the shadows; but what I remember I will tell.

The voice has now finished the second verse, and is entering the third,
the note slightly raised, and with a tone like that of a wailing wind:

    "That I might drink and leave the world unseen,
      And, with thee, fade away into the forest dim.

    Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
      What thou among the leaves hast never known."

Snarley Bob rises erect in his place, still holding his chin with his
right hand, and with the left pointing his pipe, as before, at the
speaker. The rigid arm is trembling violently, and Snarley, with
half-open mouth, is drawing his breath in gulps. Someone, his wife I
think, tries to make him sit down. He detaches his right hand, and
violently thrusts her away.

For some minutes he remains in this attitude. The verse:

    "Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird,"

is now reached, and I can see that violent tremors are passing through
Snarley's frame. His head has sunk towards his breast, and is shaking;
his right arm has fallen to his side, the fingers hooked as though he
would clench his fist. Thus he stands, his head jerking now and then
into an upright position, and shaking more and more. He has ceased to
point at the speaker; the pipe is on the table. Thus to the end.

Somebody claps; another feebly knocks his glass on the board; there is a
general whisper of "Hush!" Snarley Bob has sunk on to the bench; he
folds his arms on the table, rests his head upon them as a tired man
would do; a tremor shakes him once or twice; then he closes his eyes,
and is still. He has apparently fallen asleep.

No one, save myself, has paid much attention to Snarley, who is at the
end of the room furthest from Mrs. Abel. But now his attitude is
noticed, and somebody says, "Hullo, Snarley's had a drop too much this
time. Give him a shake-up, missis."

The "shake-up," however, is not needed. For Snarley, after a few minutes
of apparent sleep, raises his head, looks round him, and again stands
upright. A flood of incoherencies, spoken in a high-pitched, whining
voice, pours from his lips. Now and then comes a clear sentence, mingled
with fragments of the poem--these in a startling reproduction of Mrs.
Abel's tones--thus: "The gentleman's callin' for drink. Why don't they
bring him drink? Here, young woman, bring him a pint o' ale, and put
three-ha'porth of gin in it--the door's openin', and he's goin' through.
He'll soon be there--

    "'Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
        What thou among the leaves hast never known.'

All right--it's bloomin' well all right--don't give him any more.

    "'Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
        To cease upon the midnight with no pain.'

--It's the Passing Bell.--What are they ringing it for?--He's not
dead--he'll come back again when he's ready.--Stop 'em ringing that

    "'Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
        To toll me back from thee to my sole self.'

All right--he's comin' back.--Nightingales!--Who wants to hear about a
lot o' bloomin' nightingales. _I_ don't. _I'm_ all right--get me a cup
o' tea.--It's Tom Barter who's drunk, not me!

    "'Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
        Or new love pine at them beyond to-morrow.'

The mail goes o' Fridays--K Battery, Peshawur, Punjaub--O my God, let
Bill tell him!--Shut up, you blasted old fool, or I'll knock yer silly
head off! _You'll_ never get there!--What do _you_ know about
nightingales? I heard 'em singin' for hundreds and thousands of years
before _you_ were born:

    "'Thou was not born for death, immortal bird,
      No hungry generations tread thee down;
    The voice I heard this passing night was heard
      In ancient days, by Emperor and clown:
    Perhaps the self-same voice that found a path
      Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
        She stood in tears amid the alien corn,
          The same that ofttimes hath
      Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
        Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.'"

The whole of this verse was a reproduction of Mrs. Abel's rendering,
spoken in a voice not unlike hers, and with scarcely the falter of a
syllable. It was followed by a few seconds of incoherent babble, at the
end of which tremors again broke out over Snarley's body; he swayed to
and fro, and his head fell forward on his chest. "Catch hold of him, or
he'll fall," cried somebody. Then a medley of voices--"Give him a drop
of brandy!" "No, don't you see he's dead drunk a'ready?" "Drunk! not
'im. Do you think he could imitate Mrs. Abel like that if he was drunk?"
"Take them gels out o' the barn as quick as you can!" "If she don't stop
shriekin' when you get 'er home, throw a bucket o' cold water over her.
It's only 'isterics." "Well, I've seed a lot o' queer things in my time,
and I've knowed Snarley to do some rum tricks, but I never seed nowt
like _that_." "Oh dear, sir, I never felt so upset in all my life. It
isn't _right_! Somebody ought to ha' stopped 'im. I wonder Mr. Abel
didn't interfere." "That there poem o' Mrs. Abel's was a'most too much
for me. But to think o' _him_ gettin' up like that! It must be Satan
that's got into him." "It's a awful thing to 'ave a man like that livin'
in the next cottage to your own. I'll be frightened out o' my wits when
my master's not at 'ome." "They ought to _do_ something to 'im--I've
said so many a time."

And then the voice of Snarley's wife as she chafed her husband's hands:
"No, sir, don't you believe 'em when they say he's drunk. He's only had
two glasses of cider and half a glass o' beer. You can see the other
half in his glass now. I counted 'em myself. And it takes quarts to make
'im tipsy. It's a sort of trance, sir, as he's had. I've knowed him like
this two or three times before. He was _just_ like it after he'd been to
hear Sir Robert Ball on the stars, sir--worse, if anythin'. He's gettin'
better now; but I'm afraid he'll be terrible upset."

Snarley had opened his eyes, and was looking vacantly and sleepily round
him. "I'll go home," was all he said. He got up and walked rather
shakily, but without assistance, out of the barn.

A few minutes later Mrs. Abel came up to me. "We were fools five months
ago," she said; "but what are we now?"

"Criminals, most likely," I replied.

"And if you do it again, you'll be murderers," said Mr. Abel, in a tone
of severity.



In early life Chandrapál had been engaged in the practice of the law,
and had held a position of some honour under the Crown. But as the years
wore on the ties which bound him to the world of sense were severed one
by one, and he was now released. By the study of the Vedanta, by ascetic
discipline, and by the daily practice of meditation undertaken at
regular hours, he had attained the Great Peace; and those who knew the
signs of such attainment reverenced him as a holy man. His influence was
great, his fidelity was unquestioned, and his fame as a teacher and sage
had been carried far beyond his native land.

Chandrapál was versed in the lore of the West. He had studied the
history, the politics, the literature and philosophy of the great
nations, and could quote their poets and their sages with copiousness
and aptitude. He had written a commentary on _Faust_. He also read, and
sometimes expounded, the New Testament; and he held the Christian Gospel
in high esteem.

Among the philosophers of the West it was Spinoza to whom he gave the
place of highest honour. Regarding the Great Peace as the ultimate
object of human attainment, he held that Spinoza alone had found a clear
path to the goal; since then European thought had been continually

Though far advanced in life, Chandrapál had never seen Western
civilisation face to face until the year when we are about to meet him.
He travelled to America by way of Japan, and Vancouver was the first
Western city in which he set his foot. There he looked around him with
bewildered eyes, gaining no clear impression, save in the negative sense
that the city contained nothing to remind him of Spinoza or of the
Nazarene. It was not that he expected to find a visible embodiment of
their teaching in everything he saw; Chandrapál was too wise for that.
But he hoped that somewhere and in some form the Truth, which for him
these teachers symbolised in common, would show itself as a living
thing. It might be that he would see it on some human face; or he might
feel it in the atmosphere; or he might hear it in the voice of a man.
Chandrapál knew that he had much to see and to discover; but in all his
travels it was for this that he kept incessant watch.

From Vancouver he passed south to San Francisco; thence, city by city,
he threaded his way across the United States and found himself in New
York. All that he had seen so far gathered itself into one vast picture
of a world fast bound in the chains of error and groaning for
deliverance from its misery. In New York the misery seemed to deepen and
the groanings to redouble. But of this he said nothing. He let the
universities fête him; he let the millionaires entertain him in their
great houses; he delivered lectures on the wisdom of the East, and,
though a kindly criticism would now and then escape him, he gave no hint
of his great pity for Western men. He was the most courteous, the most
delightful of guests.

Arrived in England, he received the same impression and practised the
same reserve. Wherever he went a rumour spread before him, and men
waited for his coming as though the ancient mysteries were about to be
unsealed. The curious cross-examined him; the bewildered appealed to
him; the poor heard him gladly, and famished souls, eager for a morsel
of comfort from the groaning table of the East, hovered about his steps.
He preached in churches where the wandering prophet is welcomed; he
broke bread with the kings of knowledge and of song; he sat in the seats
of the mighty and received honour as one to whom honour is due.

To all this he responded with a gratitude which was sincere; but his
deeper gratitude was for the Powers by whose ordering he had been born
neither an Englishman nor a Christian, but a Hindu.

Here, as in America, he looked about him observingly and pondered the
meaning of what he saw. But he understood it not, and went hither and
thither like a man in a dream. In his Indian home he had studied Western
civilisation from the books which tell of its mighty works and its
religion; and, so studied, it had seemed to him an intelligible thing.
But, seen with the naked eye, it appeared incomprehensible, nay,
incredible. Its bigness oppressed him, its variety confused him, its
restlessness made him numb. Values seemed to be inverted, perspectives
to be distorted, good and evil to be transposed: "in" meant "out," and
Death did duty for Life. Chandrapál could not take the point of view,
and finally concluded there was no point of view to take. He could not
frame his visions into coherence, and therefore judged that he was
looking at chaos. Sometimes he would doubt the reality of what he saw,
and would recollect himself and seek for evidence that he was awake.
"Can such things be?" he would say to himself; "for this people has
turned all things upside down. Their happiness is misery, their wisdom
is bewilderment, their truth is self-deception, their speech is a
disguise, their science is the parent of error, their life is a process
of suicide, their god is the worm that dieth not and the fire that is
not quenched. What is believed is not professed, and what is professed
is not believed. In yonder place"--he was looking at London--"there is
darkness and misery enough for seven hells. Verily they have already
come to judgment and been condemned."

So thought Chandrapál. But his mistake, if it was one, offended nobody;
for he held his peace about these things.

       *       *       *       *       *

There came a day when the folk of Deadborough were started from their
wonted apathy by the apparition of a Strange Man. They saw him first as
he drove from the station in a splendid carriage-and-pair, with a
coronet on its panels. Seated in the carriage was a venerable being with
a swarthy countenance and headgear of the whitest--such was the brief
vision. Other carriages followed in due course, for there was an
illustrious house-party at Deadborough Hall--the owner of which was not
only a slayer of pheasants, but a reader of books and a student of
things. He had gathered together the Bishop of the Diocese, a Cabinet
Minister, two eminent philosophers, the American Ambassador, a leading
historian, and a Writer on the Mystics. To these was added--for he
deserves a sentence to himself--an Orientalist of world-wide reputation.
All were gathered for the purpose of meeting Chandrapál.

By the charm of his manners, by his urbanity, by his brilliant and
thought-provoking conversation, the Oriental repaid his host a hundred
times over. To most of his fellow-guests he played the part of teacher,
while seeming to act that of disciple; but to none was his manner so
deferential and his air of attention so profound as to the great
Orientalist. And yet in the secret heart of Chandrapál this was the man
for whom he felt the deepest compassion. He found, indeed, that the
great man's reputation had not belied him; he was versed in the wisdom
of the East and in the tongues which had spoken it; he knew the path to
the Great Peace as well as the sage knew it himself; but when Chandrapál
looked into his restless eyes and heard the hard tones of his voice, he
perceived that no soul on earth was further from the Great Peace than

With the two philosophers Chandrapál spent many hours in close debate.
He spoke to them of the Bhagavad Gita and of Spinoza. He found that of
the Bhagavad Gita they knew little--and they cared less. Of Spinoza they
knew much and understood nothing--thus thought he. So he turned to other
topics and conversed fluently on the matters dearest to their
hearts--namely, their own works, with which he was well acquainted.
They, on their part, had never met a listener more sympathetic, a critic
more acute. Chandrapál left upon them the impression of his immense
capacity for assimilating the products of Western thought; also the
belief that they had thoroughly rifled his brains.

Meanwhile he was thinking thus within himself: "These men are keepers of
shops, like the rest of their nation. Their merchandise is the thoughts
of God, which they defile with wordy traffic, understanding them not.
They have no reverence for their masters; their souls are poisoned with
self; therefore the Light is not in them, and they know not the good
from the evil. The word of the Truth is on their lips, but it lives not
in their hearts. Moreover, they are robbers; and even as their fathers
stole my country so they would capture the secrets of my soul--that they
may sell them for money and increase their traffic. But to none such
shall the treasure be given. I will walk with them in the outer courts;
but the innermost chamber they shall not so much as see."

With the Cabinet Minister Chandrapál had this in common--that both were
lawyers and servants of the Crown. Thus a basis of intercourse was
established--were it only in the fact that each man understood the
official reserve of the other. The first day of their acquaintance was
passed by each in reconnoitring the other's position and deciding on a
plan of campaign. The Minister concluded that there were three burning
topics which it would be unwise to discuss with Chandrapál. Chandrapál
perceived what these topics were, knew the Minister's reasons for
avoiding them, and reflected with some satisfaction that they were
matters on which he also had no desire to talk. His real object was to
penetrate the Minister's mind in quite another direction, and he saw
that this astute diplomatist had not the slightest suspicion of what he
was after. This, of course, gave the tactical advantage to the Indian.

Now Chandrapál was more subtle than all the guests in Deadborough Hall.
With great adroitness he managed to introduce the very topics on which,
as he well knew, the Minister had resolved not to express himself; but
he took care on each occasion to provide the other with an opportunity
for talking about something else. This something else had been carefully
chosen by Chandrapál, and it was a line of escape which led by very
gradual approaches to the thing he wanted to find out. The Minister had
won a great reputation in beating the diplomatists of Europe at their
own game; but he had never before directly encountered the subtlety of
an Oriental mind. Stepping aside from the dangerous spots to which the
other was continually leading him, he put his foot on each occasion into
the real trap; and thus, by the end of the third day, he had revealed
what the Indian valued more than all the secrets of the British Cabinet.
Meanwhile the Minister had conceived an intense dislike to Chandrapál,
which he disguised under a mask he had long used for such purposes; at
the same time he flattered himself on the ease with which he outwitted
this wily man.

Chandrapál, on his side, reflected thus: "Behold the misery of them that
know not the Truth. This man flatters the people; but in his heart he
despises them. Those whom he leads he knows to be blind, and his trade
is to persuade them that they can see. The Illusion has made them mad;
none sees whither he is going; the next step may plunge them all into
the pit; they live for they know not what. All this is known to yonder
man; and, being unenlightened, he has no way of escape, but yields to
his destiny, which is, that he shall be the bond-servant of lies." In
short, the discovery which the Oriental believed himself to have made
was this--that neither the Great Man before him, nor the millions whom
he led, had the faintest conception of the Meaning of Life; and,
further, that the Great Man was aware of his ignorance and troubled by
it, whereas the millions knew it not and were at their ease.

With the Writer on Mystics he was reserved to the point of coldness. In
this man's presence Chandrapál felt that he was being regarded as an
"interesting case" for analysis. So he wrapped himself in a mantle
impervious to professional scrutiny, and gave answers which could not be
worked up into a chapter for any book. The Writer was disappointed in
Chandrapál, and Chandrapál had no satisfaction in the Writer. "This
man," he thought, "has studied the Light until he has become blind. He
would speak of the things which belong to Silence. He is the most deeply
entangled of them all."

Fortunately for Chandrapál, there were children in the house, and these
alone succeeded in finding the path to his heart. There was one Little
Fellow of five years who continually haunted the drawing-room when he
was there, hiding behind screens or the backs of arm-chairs, and staring
at the Strange Man with wide eyes and finger in mouth. One day, when he
was reading, the Little Fellow crept up to his chair on hands and knees
and began industriously rubbing the dark wrist of the Indian with his
wetted finger. "It dothn't come off," said the Little Fellow. From that
moment he and the Strange Man became the fastest of friends and were
seldom far apart.

Except for this companionship it may be said that never since leaving
his native land was the spirit of Chandrapál more solitary nor more
aloof from the things and the persons around him. Never did he despair
so utterly of beholding that which he was most eager to find. Only when
in the company of the Little Fellow, and in the hours reserved for
meditation, was he able to shake off the sense of oppression and recover
the balance of his soul. At these times he would quit the talkers and go
forth alone into unfrequented places. Nowhere else, he thought, could a
land be found more inviting than this to those moods of inward silence
and content, whence the soul may pass, at a single step, into the
ineffable beatitude of the Great Peace. Full, now, of the sense of
harmony between himself and his visible environment, he would penetrate
as far as he could into the forests and the hills. He would take his
seat beside the brook; he would say to himself in his own tongue, "This
water has been flowing all night long," and at the thought his mind
would sink deep into itself; and presently the trees, the rocks, the
fields, the skies, nay, his own body, would seem to melt into the
movement of the flowing stream, and the Self of Chandrapál, freed from
all entanglements and poised at the centre of Being, would gaze on the
River of Eternal Flux.

One day, while thus engaged, standing on a bridge which carried a
by-road over the stream, a shock passed through him: the stillness was
broken as by thunder, the vision fled, and the entanglements fell over
him like a gladiator's net. A motor, coming round a dangerous bend, had
just missed him; and he stood covered with dust. Chandrapál saw and
understood, and then, closing his eyes and making a mighty effort, shook
the entanglements from his soul, and sank back swiftly upon the Centre
of Poise.

The car stopped, and a white-haired woman alighted. A moment later there
was a touch on the arm, and a human voice was calling to him from the
world of shadows. "I beg a thousand pardons," said Mrs. Abel; "the
driver was careless. Thank Heaven, you are unhurt; but the thing is an
injury, and you are a stranger. My house is here; come with me, and you
shall have water."

What more was said I do not know. But when some hours later Chandrapál
returned on foot to the Hall he walked lightly, for the load of pity had
been lifted from his heart. To one who was with him he said: "The Wisdom
of the Nazarene still lives in this land, but it is hidden and obscure,
and those who would find it must search far and long, as I have
searched. Why are the Enlightened so few; for the Truth is simple and
near at hand? The light is here, 'but the darkness comprehendeth it
not.' Is not that so? The men in yonder house, who will soon be talking,
are the slaves of their own tongues; but this woman with the voice of
music is the mistress of her speech. They are of the darkness: she of
the light. But perhaps," he added, "she is not of your race."

Thus the Thing for which Chandrapál had never ceased to watch since his
foot touched Western soil was first revealed to him; thus also the
secret of his own heart, which he had guarded so long from the intrusion
of the "wise," was first suffered to escape. He had lit his beacon and
seen the answering fire.

       *       *       *       *       *

Several months elapsed, during which Chandrapál continued his travels,
visiting the capitals of Europe, interviewing German Professors, and
seeing more and more of the Great Illusion (for so he deemed it) which
is called "Progress" in the West. He met reformers everywhere, and
studied their schemes for amending the world; he heard debates in many
parliaments, and did obeisance to several kings; he visited the
institutions where day by day the wounded are brought from the battle,
and where medicaments are poured into the running sores of Society; he
went to churches, and heard every conceivable variety of Christian
doctrine; he sat in the lecture-halls of socialists, secularists,
anarchists, and irreconcilables of every sort; he made acquaintance with
the inventors of new religions; he saw the Modern Drama in London,
Paris, Berlin, and Vienna; he attended political meetings and listened
to great orators; he was taken to reviews and beheld the marching of
Armies and the manoeuvring of Fleets; he was shown an infinity of
devices for making wheels go round, and was told of coming inventions
that would turn them faster still. All these and many more such things
passed in vision before him; but nothing stirred his admiration, nothing
provoked his envy, nothing disturbed his fixed belief that Western
civilization was an air-born bubble and a consummation not to be

"The disease of this people is incurable," he thought, "because they are
ignorant of the Origin of Sorrow. Hence they heal their woe at one end
and augment its sources at the other. But as for me, I will hold my
peace; for there is none here, no, not even the wisest, who would hear
or understand. Never will the Light break forth upon them till the East
has again conquered the West."



When all these things had been accomplished Chandrapál was again in
Deadborough--a guest at the Rectory. It was Billy Rowe, an urchin of
ten, who informed me of the arrival. Billy had just been let out of
school, and was in the act of picking up a stone to throw at Lina Potts,
whom he bitterly hated, when the Rectory carriage drove past the village
green. At once every hand, including Billy's, went promptly to the
corner of its owner's mouth, hoops were suspended in mid-career, and
half-sucked lollipops, in process of transference from big sisters to
little brothers were allowed an interval for getting dry. The carriage
passed; stones, hoops, and lollipops resumed their circulation, and by
five o'clock in the afternoon the news of Chandrapál's arrival was
waiting for the returning labourer in every cottage in Deadborough.

That night I repaired to the Nag's Head, for I knew that the arrival
would have a favourable effect on the size of the "house." I am not
addicted, let me say, to Tom Barter's vile liquors; but I have some
fondness for the psychology of a village pub, and I was in hopes that
the conversation in this instance would be instructive. An unusually
large company was assembled, and to that extent I was not disappointed.
But in respect of the conversation it must be confessed that I drew a
blank. The tongues of the talkers seemed to be paralysed by the very
event which I had hoped would set them all wagging. It was evident that
every man present had come in the hopes that his neighbour would have
something to say about Chandrapál, and thus provide an opening for his
own eloquence. But nobody gave a lead, the whole company being
apparently in presence of a speech-defying portent. At last I broke the
ice by an allusion to the arrival. "Ah," said one. "Oh," said another.
"Indeed," said a third. "You don't say so," said a fourth. At length one
venturesome spirit remarked, "I hear as he's a great man in his own
country." "I dare say he is," replied the village butcher, with the air
of one to whom the question of human greatness was a matter of absolute
indifference. That was the end. Shortly afterwards I left, and presently
overtook Snarley Bob, who had preceded me. "Did you ever see such a lot
o' tongue-tied lunatics?" said Snarley. "What made them silent?" I
asked. "They'd got too much to say," answered Snarley, and then added,
rather mischievously, "They were only waitin' to begin till _you'd_
gone. If you was to go back now, you'd hear 'em barkin' like a pack o'

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the many good offices for which Snarley had to thank Mrs. Abel,
not the least was her systematic protection of him from the intrusions
of the curious. Plenty of people had heard of him, and there were not
wanting many who were anxious to put his soul under the scalpel, in the
interests of Science. Mrs. Abel was the channel through which they
usually attempted to act. But she knew very well that the thing was
futile, not to say dangerous. For some of the instincts of the wild
animal had survived in Snarley, of which perhaps the most marked was his
refusal to submit to the scrutiny of human eyes. To study him was almost
as difficult as to study the tiger in the jungle. At the faintest sound
of inquisitive footsteps he would retreat, hiding himself in some place,
or, more frequently, in some manner, whither it was almost impossible to
follow; and if, as sometimes happened, his pursuers pressed hard and
sought to drive him out of his fastness, he would break out upon them in
a way for which they were not prepared, and give them a shock which
effectually forbade all further attempts. Such a result was unprofitable
to Science and injurious to Snarley. For these reasons Mrs. Abel had
come to a definite conclusion that the cause of Science was not to be
advanced by introducing its votaries to Snarley Bob; and when they came
to the Rectory, as they sometimes did, she abstained from mentioning his
name, failed to answer when questioned, and took care, so far as she
could, that the old man should be left undisturbed.

But the reasons which led to this decision had no force in the case of
Chandrapál. She was certain that Chandrapál would not treat Snarley as a
mere abnormal specimen of human nature, a _corpus vile_ for scientific
investigation. She knew that the two men had something, nay, much, in
common; and she believed that the ground of intercourse would be
established the instant that Snarley heard the stranger's voice.

Nevertheless, the matter was difficult. It was well-nigh impossible to
determine the conditions under which Snarley would be at his best, and,
whatever arrangements were made, his animal shyness might spoil them
all. To take him by surprise was known to be dangerous; and we had
already found to our cost that the attempt to deceive him by the
pretence of an accidental meeting was pretty certain to end in disaster.
How Mrs. Abel succeeded in bringing the thing off I don't know. There
may have been bribery and corruption (for Snarley's character had not
been formed from the fashion-books of any known order of mystics), and,
though I saw nothing to suggest this method, I know nothing to exclude
it--as a working hypothesis. But be that as it may, the arrangement was
made that on a certain Wednesday evening Snarley was to come down to the
Rectory and attend in the garden for the coming of Chandrapál. I had
already learnt to regard Mrs. Abel as a worker of miracles to whom few
things were impossible; but this conquest of Snarley's reluctance to be
interviewed, and in a manner so exceptional, has always impressed me as
one of her greatest achievements. If the reader had known the old
shepherd only in his untransfigured state--when, in his own phrase, he
was "stuck in his skin"--I venture to say he would as soon have thought
of asking a grisly bear to afternoon tea in his drawing-room as of
inviting Snarley Bob to meet an Indian sage in a rectory garden. But the
arrangement was made--whether by the aid of Beelzebub or the attractions
of British gold, no man will ever know.

Nothing in connection with Snarley had ever interested me so much as the
possible outcome of this strange interview; so that, when informed of
what was going to happen, I sent a telegram to Mrs. Abel asking
permission to be on the spot--not, of course, as a witness of the
interview but as a guest in the house. The reply was favourable, and on
Tuesday afternoon I was at Deadborough.

I had some talk with Chandrapál, and I could see that he was not pleased
at my coming. He asked me at once why I was there, and, on receiving a
not very ingenuous answer, he became reserved and distant. Indeed, his
whole manner reminded me forcibly of the bearing of Snarley Bob on the
occasion of our ludicrous attempt on Quarry Hill to introduce him to the
poetry of Keats. I had come prepared to ask him a question; but I had no
sooner reached the point than the whole fashion of the man was suddenly
changed. His face, which usually wore an expression of quiet dignity,
seemed to degenerate into a mass of coarse but powerful features, so
that, had I seen him thus at a first meeting, I should have thought at
once, "This man is a sensualist and a ruffian!" His answers were
distinctly rude; he said the question was foolish (probably it
was)--that people had been pestering him with that kind of thing ever
since he left India; in short, he gave me to understand that he regarded
me as a nuisance. I had never before seen in him any approach to this
manner; indeed, I had continually marvelled at his patience with fools,
his urbanity with bores, and his willingness to give of his best to
those who had nothing to give in return.

As the evening wore on he seemed to realise what he had done, and was
evidently troubled. For my part, I had decided to leave next morning,
for I thought that my presence in the house was disturbing him, and
would perhaps spoil the chances of tomorrow's interview. Of this I had
breathed no hint to anyone, and I was therefore greatly surprised when
he said to me after dinner, "I charge you to remain in this house. There
is no reason for going away. I was not myself this afternoon; but it has
passed and will not return. Come now, let us go out into the woods."

Mrs. Abel came with us. Her object in coming was to guide our walk in
some direction where we were not likely to encounter Snarley Bob, whose
haunts she knew, and whom it was not desirable that we should meet
before the appointed time; for the nightingales were now in full song,
and Snarley was certain to be abroad. We therefore took a path which led
in an opposite direction to that in which his cottage lay.

Chandrapál had his own ways of feeling and responding to the influences
of Nature--ways which are not ours. No words of admiration escaped him;
but, on entering the woods where the birds were singing he said, "The
sounds are harmonious with thought." There was no mistaking the hint.

Guided by the singing of the birds, we turned into an unfrequented lane,
bordered by elms. The evening was dull, damp, and windless, and the air
lay stagnant between the high banks of the lane. We walked on in
complete silence, Chandrapál a few yards in front; none of us felt any
desire to speak. Three nightingales were singing at intervals: one at
some distance in the woods ahead of us, two immediately to our right.
Whether it was due to the dampness in the air or the song of the birds,
I cannot tell; but I felt the "drowsy numbness," of which the poet
speaks, stealing upon me irresistibly. We presently crossed a stile into
the fields; and as I sat for a moment on the rail the drowsiness almost
overcame me, and I wondered if I could escape from my companions and
find some spot whereon to lie down and go to sleep. It required some
effort to proceed, and I could see that Mrs. Abel was affected in a
similar manner.

By crossing the stile we had disturbed one of the birds, and we had to
wait some minutes before its song again broke out much further to the
right. For some reason of his own Chandrapál had found this bird the
best songster of the three; and, wishing to get as near as possible, he
again led the way and gave us a sign to follow. We cautiously skirted
the hedge, making our way towards a point on the opposite side of the
field where there was a gate, and beyond this, in the next field, a shed
of some sort where we might stand concealed.

We passed the gate, turned into the shed, and were immediately
confronted by Snarley Bob.

Both Mrs. Abel and I were alarmed. We knew that Snarley Bob when
disturbed at such a moment was apt to be exceedingly dangerous, and we
remembered that it was precisely such a disturbance as this which had
brought him some years ago within measurable distance of committing
murder. Nor was his demeanour reassuring. The instant he saw us, he rose
from the shaft of the cart on which he had been seated, smoking his
pipe, and took a dozen rapid steps out of the shed. Then he paused, just
as a startled horse would do, turned half round, and eyed us sidelong
with as fierce and ugly a look as any human face could wear. Then he
began to stride rapidly to and fro in front of the shed, stamping his
feet whenever he turned, and keeping his eyes fixed on the swarthy
countenance of Chandrapál, with an expression of the utmost ferocity.

Chandrapál retained his composure. Whatever sudden shock he may have
felt had passed immediately, and he was now standing in an attitude of
deep attention, following the movement of Snarley Bob and meeting his
glance without once lowering his eyes. His calmness was infectious. I
felt that he was master of the situation, and I knew that in a few
moments Snarley's paroxysm would pass.

It did pass; but in a manner we did not expect. Snarley, on his side,
had begun to abate his rapid march; once or twice he hesitated, paused,
turned around; and the worst was already over when Chandrapál, lifting
his thin hands above his head, pronounced in slow succession four words
of some strange tongue. What they meant I cannot tell; it is not likely
they formed any coherent sentence: they were more like words of command
addressed by an officer to troops on parade, or by a rider to his horse.
Their effect on Snarley was instantaneous. Turning full round, he drew
himself erect and faced us in an attitude of much dignity. Every trace
of his brutal expression slowly vanished; his huge features contracted
to the human size; the rents of passion softened into lines of thought;
wisdom and benignity sat upon his brows; and he was calm and still as
the Sphinx in the desert.

Snarley stood with his hands linked behind his back, looking straight
before him into the distance; and Chandrapál, without changing his
attitude, was watching him as before. As the two men stood there in
silence, my impression was, and still is, that they were in
communication, through filaments that lie hidden, like electric cables,
in the deeps of consciousness. Each man was organically one with the
other; the division between them was no greater than between two cells
in a single brain; the understanding was complete. Thus it remained for
some seconds; then the silence was broken by speech, and it was as
though a cloud had passed over the sun. For, with the first word spoken,
misunderstanding began; and, for a time at all events, they drifted far
apart, each out of sight and knowledge of the other's soul. Had Snarley
begun by saying something inconsequent or irrelevant, had he proposed to
build three tabernacles, or cried, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful
man," or quoted the words of some inapplicable Scripture that was being
fulfilled--there might have been no rupture. But, as it was, he spoke to
the point, and instantly the tie was snapped.

"Them words you spoke just now," he said, and paused. Then, completing
the sentence--"them words was full o' _sense_."

I could see that Chandrapál was troubled. The word "sense" woke up
trains of consciousness quite alien to the intention of the speaker. To
his non-English mind this usage of the word, if not unknown, was at
least misleading.

He replied, "Those words have nothing to do with 'sense.' Yet you seemed
to understand them."

"Not a bit," said Snarley. "But I _felt_ 'em. They burnt me like fire.
Good words is allus like that. There's some words wi' meanin' in 'em,
but no sense; and they're fool's words, most on 'em. You understand 'em,
but you don't feel 'em. But when they comes wi' a bit of a smack, I
knows they're all right. You can a'most taste 'em and smell 'em when
they're the right sort--just like a drop o' drink. It's a pity you
didn't hear Mrs. Abel when she give us that piece o' poetry. That's the
sort o' words folks ought to use. You can feel 'em in your bones. Well,
as I was a-sayin', your words was like that. They come at me smack,
smack. And I sez to myself as soon as I hears 'em, 'That's a man worth
talkin' to.'"

Chandrapál had listened with the utmost gravity, seeming to catch
Snarley's drift. The diction must have puzzled him, but I doubt if the
subtlest skill in exposition would have availed Snarley half so well in
restoring the mutual comprehension which had been temporarily broken.
Chandrapál was evidently relieved. For half a minute there was silence,
during which he walked to and fro, deep in thought. Then he said, "Great
is the power of words when the speaker is wise. But the Truth cannot be

"Not _all_ on it," said Snarley, "only bits here and there. That's what
the bigness o' things teaches you. It's my opinion as there are two
sorts o' words--shutters-in and openers-out. Them words o' yours was
openers-out; but most as you hears are shutters-in. It's like puttin' a
thing in a box. You shuts the lid, and then all you sees is the box. But
when things gets beyond a certain bigness you can't shut 'em in--not
unless you first chops 'em up, and that spoils 'em.

"Now, there's Shoemaker Hankin--a man as could talk the hind-leg off a
'oss. He goes at it like a hammer, and thinks as he's openin' things
out; but all the time he's shuttin' on 'em in and nailin' on 'em up in
their coffins. One day he begins talkin' about 'Life,' and sez as how he
can explain it in half a shake. 'You'll have to kill it first, Tom,' I
sez, 'or it'll kick the bottom out o' _your_ little box.' 'I'm going to
_hannilize_ it,' he sez. 'That means you're goin' to chop it up,' I sez,
'so that it's bound to be dead before we gets hold on it. All right,
Tom, fire away! Tell us all about dead Life.'

"Well, that's allus the way wi' these talkin' chaps. There was that
Professor as comes tellin' me what space were--I told that gentleman"
(pointing to me) "all about _him_. Why, you might as well try to cut
runnin' water wi' a knife. Talkin' people like him are never satisfied
till they've trampled everything into a _muck_--same as the sheep
tramples the ground when you puts 'em in a pen. They seems to think as
that's what things are _for_! They all wants to do the talkin'
themselves. But doesn't it stand to sense that as long as you're talkin'
about things you can't hear what things are sayin' to you?

"When did I learn all that? Why, you don't _learn_ them things. You just
finds 'em when you're alone among the hills and the bigness o' things
comes over you. Do you know anything about the stars? Well, then, you'll

"All the same, I were once a talkin' man myself; ay, and it were then as
I got the first lesson in leavin' things alone. It happened one day when
I were a Methody--long before I knew anything about the stars. I'd been
what they call 'converted'; and one day I were prayin' powerful at a
meetin', and we was all excited, and shoutin' as we wouldn't go home
till the answer had come. Well, it did come--at least it come to me. I
were standin' up shoutin' wi' the rest, when all of a sudden I kind o'
heard somebody whisperin' in my ear. 'The answer's comin',' I sez; 'I'm
gettin' it,' So they all gets quiet, waitin' for me to give the answer.
I suppose they expected me to say as a new heart had been given to
somebody we'd been prayin' for. But instead o' that I shouts out at the
top o' my voice--though I can't tell what made me do it--'Shut up, all
on you! Shut up, Henry Blain! Shut up, John Scarsbrick! Shut up, Robert
Dellanow--_I'm tired o' the lot on you!_' That's what made me give up
bein' a Methody. I began to see from that day that when things begins to
open out you've got to _shut up_."

"The voices of the world are many; and the speech of man is only one,"
said Chandrapál.

"You're right," said Snarley, "but I'm not sure as you ought to call 'em
voices. Most on 'em's more like faces nor voices. It's true there's the
thunder and the wind--'specially when it's blowin' among the trees. And
then there's the animals and the birds."

"It is said in the East that once there were men who understood the
language of birds."

"No, no," said Snarley, "there's no understandin' them things. But
there's one bird, and that's the nightingale, as makes me kind o'
remember as I understood 'em once. And there's no doubt they understand
one another; and there's some sorts of animals as understands other
sorts--but not all. You can take my word for it!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The light had failed, and the song of the birds, driven to a distance by
our voices, seemed to quicken the darkness into life. 'Darkling, we
listened'--how long I know not, for the subliminal world was awake, and
the measure of time was lost. Snarley was the first to speak, taking up
his parable from the very point where he had left it, as though he were
unconscious that a long interval had elapsed. He spoke to Chandrapál.

"I can see as you're a rememberin' sort o' gentleman," he said. "If you
weren't, you wouldn't ha' come here listenin' to the birds. The animals
remember a lot o' things as we've forgotten. I dare say you know it as
well as I do. Now, there's the nightingale--_that's_ the bird for
recollectin' and makin' you recollect; and you might say dogs and 'osses
too. You can see the memory in the dog's eyes and in the 'oss's face.
But you can _hear_ it in the bird's voice--and hearin' and smellin' is
better nor seein' when it comes to a matter o' rememberin.'

"Yes, and it's my opinion as animals, takin' 'em all round, are wiser
nor men--that is, they've got more sense. You let your line out far
enough, and I tell you there's some animals as can make you find a lot
o' things as you've forgotten. That's what the bird does. When I
listens, I seems to be rememberin' all sorts o' things, only I can't
tell nobody what they are.

"Yes, but you ought to ha' been here that night when Mrs. Abel give that
piece! Why, bless you, she'd got the nightingale to a T, especially the
rememberin'. Eh, my word, but it were a staggerer! I _wish_ you'd been
there--a rememberin' gentleman like you! You get her to give you that
piece when you goes home, and it'll make you reel your line out to the
very end."

Some of those allusions, I imagine, were lost on Chandrapál. But once
more he showed that he caught the "sense."

"In my country," he said, "religion forbids us to take the lives of

"That's a good sort o' religion," said Snarley. "There's some sense in
that! Them as holds with it must ha' let their line out pretty far. Now,
it wouldn't surprise me to hear as folks in your country are good at
rememberin' things as other folks have forgotten."

"Yes, some of us think we can remember many things." And, after a pause,
"I thought just now that I remembered you."

"And me you!" said Snarley, "blessed if I didn't. The minute you said
them funny words, danged if I didn't feel as though I'd knowed you all
my life! It was just like when I'm listenin' to the bird--all sorts o'
things comes tumblin' back. Same with them words o' yours. It seemed as
though somebody as I knowed were a-callin' of me. I must ha' travelled
millions o' miles, same as when you lets your line out to the stars. And
all the time I were sure that I knowed the voice, though I couldn't
understand the meanin'. I tell you, it were _just_ like listenin' to the

Chandrapál now turned and said something to Mrs. Abel. She promptly
slipped out of the shed, giving me a sign to follow. Chandrapál and
Snarley were left to themselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

Late at night Chandrapál returned to the Rectory. He was more than
usually silent and absorbed. Of what had passed between him and Snarley
he said not a word; but, on bidding us good-night, he remarked to Mrs.
Abel, "The cycle of existence returns upon itself." And Snarley, on his
part, never spoke of the occurrence to any living soul. "The rest is


At the age of fifty or thereabouts Shepherd Toller went mad. After due
process he was handed over to the authorities and graduated as a pauper
lunatic. His madness was the outcome of solicitude, and it was not
surprising that, after a year amid the jovial company of the asylum,
Toller began to improve. At the end of the second year he was declared
to be cured, and discharged, much to his regret.

His first act on liberation was to recover his old dog, which had been
left in charge of a friend. Desiring to start life again where his
former insanity would be unknown, he made his way to Deadborough, the
village of his birth. Arrived there, after a forty miles' walk, he
refreshed himself with a glass of beer and a penn'orth of bread and
cheese, and proceeded at once to Farmer Ferryman in quest of work. The
farmer, who was, as usual, in want of labour, sent him to Snarley Bob to
"put the measure on him." Snarley's report was favourable. "He seemed a
bit queer, no doubt, and kept laughin' at nothin'; but I've knowed lots
o' queer people as had more sense than them as wasn't queer, and there's
no denyin' as he's knowledgeable in sheep." The result was that Toller
was forthwith appointed as an understudy to Snarley Bob.

Bob's estimate of the new-comer rose steadily day by day. "He had a
wonderful eye for points." "As good a sheep-doctor as ever lived."
"Wanted a bit of watchin', it was true, but had a head on his shoulders
for all that." "Knows how to keep his mouth shut." "Was backward in
breedin', but not for want o' sense--hadn't caught him young enough."
"Could ha' taught him anything, if he'd come twenty-five years back." In
due course, therefore, Toller was entrusted with great responsibilities.
He it was who, under Snarley's direction, presided over the generation,
birth, and early upbringing of the thrice-renowned "Thunderbolt."

So it went on for three years. At the end of that time Toller had an
accident. He fell through the aperture of a feeding-loft, and his spinal
column received an ugly shock. Symptoms of his old malady began to
return. He began to get things "terrible mixed up," and to play tricks
which violated both the letter and the spirit of Snarley's notches.

One of the breeding points in Snarley's system was connected with the
length of the lambs' ears. Short ears in the new-born lamb were
prophetic of desirable points which would duly appear when the creature
became a sheep; long ears, on the other hand, indicated that the cross
had failed. A crucial experiment on these lines was being conducted by
aid of a ram which had been specially imported from Spain, and the whole
thing had been left to Toller's supervision. The result was a complete
failure. On the critical day, when Snarley returned from his obstetric
duties, his wife saw gloom and disappointment on his countenance. "Well,
have them lambs come right?" "Lambs, did you say? They're not _lambs_.
They're young _jackasses_. It's summat as Shepherd Toller's been up to.
You'll never make me believe as the Spanish ram got any one on 'em--no,
not if you was to take your dyin' oath. Blessed if I know where he found
a father for 'em. It's not one o' our rams, I'll swear. You mark my
word, missis, Shepherd Toller's goin' out of his mind again. I've seen
it comin' on for months. Only last Tuesday he sez to me, 'Snarley, I'm
gettin' cloudy on the top.'"

Shortly after this Toller disappeared and, though the search was
diligent, he could not be found. "He's not gone far," said Snarley.
"Leastways he's sure to come back. Mad-men allus comes back." And within
a few months an incident happened which enabled Snarley to verify his
theory. It came about in this wise.

A party of great folk from the Hall had gone up into the hills for a
picnic. They had chosen their camp near the head of a long upland
valley, where the ground fell suddenly into a deep gorge pierced by a
torrent. A fire of sticks had been lit close to the edge of the
precipice, and a kettle, made of some shining metal, had been hung over
the flames. The party were standing by, waiting for the water to boil,
when suddenly, crash!--a sprinkle of scalding water in your
face--and--where's the kettle? An invisible force, falling like a bolt
from the blue, had smitten the kettle and hurled it into space. The
ladies screamed; the Captain swore; the Clergyman cried, "Good
Gracious!" the Undergraduate said, "Jerusalem!" the Wit added, "_And_
Madagascar!" But what was said matters not, for the Recording Angel had
dropped his pen. The whole party stood amazed, unable to place the
occurrence in any sort of intelligible context, and with looks that
seemed to say, "The reign of Chaos has returned, and the Inexpressible
become a fact!" Some went to the edge of the gorge and saw below a mass
of buckled tin, irrecoverable, and worthless. Some looked about on the
hillside, but looked on nothing to the point. Some stood by the spot
where the kettle had hung, and argued without premises. Some searched
for the missile, some for the man; but neither was found. The whole
thing was an absolute mystery. The party had lost their tea, and gained
a subject for conversation at dinner. That was all.

That night Snarley, in the tap-room of the Nag's Head, heard the story
from the groom who had lit the fire, hung the kettle, and seen it fly
into space. Snarley said nothing, quickly finished his glass, and went
home. "Missis," he said, "get my breakfast at three o'clock to-morrow
morning. Shepherd Toller's come back. And mind you hold your tongue."

By five o'clock next morning Snarley had reached the scene of the
picnic. He gazed about him in all directions: nothing was stirring but
the peewits. Then he climbed down the gorge with some difficulty, found
the kettle, and examined its riven side. Climbing back, he went some
distance further up the valley, ascended a little knoll, took out his
whistle, and blew a peculiar blast, tremulous and piercing. No response.
Snarley blew again, and again. At the fourth attempt the distant barking
of a dog was heard, and a minute later the signal was answered by the
counterpart to Snarley's blast. Presently the form of a big man,
followed by a yelping dog, appeared on the skyline above. Shepherd
Toller was found.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the week which followed these events, various members of the
picnic-party had begun to recollect things they had previously
forgotten, and discoveries were made, _ex post facto_, which warranted
the submission of the case to the Society for the Investigation of
Mysterious Phenomena. Lady Lottie Passingham had been of the party, and
she it was who drew up the Report which was so much discussed a few
years ago. In her own evidence Lady Lottie, whose figure was none too
slim, averred that, as she climbed the hill to the place of rendezvous,
she had been distinctly conscious of something pulling her back. She had
attached no importance to this at the time, though she had remarked to
Miss Gledhow that she wished she hadn't come. The time at which the
kettle flew was 4.27 p.m.; at 4.25 Lady Lottie, had a sensation as
though a cold hand were stroking her left cheek, the separate fingers
being clearly distinguishable. Miss Gledhow had experienced a feeling
all afternoon that she was being _watched and criticised_--a feeling
which she could only compare to that of a person who is having his
photograph taken. Captain Sorley's cigarettes kept going out in the most
unaccountable manner; and in this connection he would mention that more
than once, and especially a few minutes after the main occurrence, he
could not help fancying that someone was breathing in his face. The Rev.
E. F. Stark-Potter had heard, several times, a sound like "Woe, woe,"
which he attributed at first to some ploughman calling to his horses;
subsequent inquiry had proved, however, that, on the day in question, no
ploughing was being done in the neighbourhood. All the witnesses
concurred in the statement that they were vividly conscious of
_something wrong_, the most emphatic in this respect being the
Undergraduate, who had made no secret of his feeling at the time by
assuring several members of the party that he felt absolutely "rotten,"
Further, the Report stated, the scene had been identified with the spot
where a young woman committed suicide in 1834 by casting herself down
the precipice. The battered kettle was also recovered and sent in a
registered parcel for examination by the experts of the Society.

After the mature deliberation due to the distinguished names at the end
of the Report, the Society decided that the evidence was non-veridical,
and refused to print the document in their _Proceedings_.

Snarley Bob, who knew what was going on, had his reasons for welcoming
this development. He concocted various legends of his own weird
experiences at the valley-head, and these, as coming from him, had
considerable weight. They were communicated in the first instance to the
groom. By him they were conveyed to the coachman; by him, to the
coachman's wife; whence they were not long in finding their way, by the
usual channels, to headquarters. Here the contributions of Snarley were
combined by various hands into an artistic whole with the original
occurrence, which, in this new context, at once quitted the low ground
of History and began a free development of its own in the realms of the
Ideal. By the time it reached the Press it had become a fiction far more
imposing than any fact, and far more worthy of belief. Things that never
happened filled the foreground, and the thing that did happen had fallen
so far into the background as to be almost invisible. The incident of
the kettle had exfoliated into a whole sequence of imposing mysteries,
becoming in the process a mere germ or point of departure of no more
significance in itself than are the details in Saxo Grammaticus to a
first-class performance of _Hamlet_. Thus transfigured, the story was
indeed a drama rather than a narrative; and those who remember reading
it in that form will hardly believe that it had its origin in the humble
facts which these pages relate. The excitement it caused lasted for some
weeks, and it was almost a public disappointment when the Society for
the Investigation of Mysterious Phenomena blew a cold blast upon the
whole thing.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Snarley Bob met Shepherd Toller at Valley Head, he found him
accoutred in a manner which verified his private theory as to the
levitation of the kettle. Coiled round Toller's left arm were three
slings, made from strips of raw oxhide, with pouches, large and small,
for hurling stones of various size. Slung over his back was a big bag,
also of leather, which contained his ammunition--smooth pebbles gathered
from the torrent bed, the largest being the size of a man's fist.
Strapped round his waist was a flint axe, the head being a beautiful
celt, which Toller had discovered long ago on Clun Downs, and skilfully
fixed in a handle bound with thongs.

In the days of Toller's first madness, it had been his habit to wander
over Clun Downs, equipped in this manner, He had lived in some fastness
of his own devising, and supplied his larder by the occasional slaughter
of a stolen sheep, whose skull he would split with a blow from the flint
axe. The slings were rather for amusement than hunting, though his
markmanship was excellent, and he was said to be able at any time to
bring down a rabbit, or even a bird. All day long he would wander in
unfrequented uplands, slinging stones at every object that tempted his
eye, and roaring and dancing with delight whenever he hit the mark. He
was inoffensive enough and had never been known to deliberately aim at a
human being, though more than one shooting party had been considerably
alarmed by the crash of Toller's stones among the branches, or by his
long-range sniping of the white-clothed luncheon-table. On one occasion
Toller had landed a huge pebble, the size of an eight-pounder shot, into
the very bull's-eye of the feast--to wit, a basket containing six
bottles of Heidsieck's Special Reserve. It was this performance which
led Sir George to report the case to the authorities and insist on
Toller being put under restraint.

       *       *       *       *       *

By the evening of the day when Toller disappeared from the Perryman
sheepfolds he had completed the long walk to his former haunts, and
recovered his weapons from under the cairn where he had carefully hidden
them six years before. The axe, of course, was uninjured; but the slings
were rotten. As soon as it was dark, therefore, Toller stole down to the
pastures, captured a steer, brained it with the flint axe, stripped off
the skin, made a fire, roasted a piece of the warm flesh, covered his
tracks, and before the sun was up had made twenty miles of the return
journey, with half a dozen fine new slings concealed beneath his coat.
He arrived at Deadborough at nightfall the day but one following, having
taken a circuitous route far from the highroad. He at once made his way
into the hills.

Beyond the furthest outposts of the Perryman farm lie extensive wolds
rising rapidly into desolate regions where sheep can scarcely find
pasture. In this region Toller concealed himself. About two miles beyond
the old quarry, on a slaty hillside, he found a deep pit, which had
probably been used as a water-hole in prehistoric times; and here he
built himself a hut. He made the walls out of the stones of a ruined
sheep-fold; he roofed them with a sheet of corrugated iron, stolen from
the outbuildings of a neighbouring farm, and covered the iron with sods;
he built a fire-place with a flue, but no chimney; he caused water from
a spring to flow into a hollow beside the door. Then he collected slate,
loose stones, and earth; and, by heaping these against the walls of the
hut, he gave the whole structure the appearance of a mound of rubbish.
Human eyes rarely came within sight of the spot; but even a keen
observer of casual objects would not have suspected that the mound
represented any sort of human dwelling. It was a masterpiece of
protective imitation, an exact replica of Toller's previous abode on
Clun Downs. His fire burned only by night.

The furnishing of this simple establishment consisted of a feather bed,
which rested on slabs of slate supported by stones,--whence obtained was
never known, but undoubtedly stolen. The coverlet was three sheepskins
sewn together, the pillow also a sheepskin, coiled round a cylinder of
elastic twigs. The table was a deal box, once the property of Messrs.
Tate, the famous refiners of sugar. The chair was a duplicate of the
table. The implements were all of flint, neatly bound in their handles
with strips of hide. There was the axe for slaughter, a dagger for
cutting meat, a hammer for breaking bones, a saw and scrapers of various
size--the plunder of some barrow on Clun Downs. Under the slates of the
bed lay a collection of slings.

In this place Toller lived undiscovered for several months, issuing
thence as occasion required in quest of food. This he obtained by night
forays upon distant farms, bringing back mutton or beef, lamb or sucking
pig, a turkey, a goose, a couple of chickens, according to the changes
of his appetite or the seasonableness of the dish. Fruit, vegetables,
and potatoes were obtained in the same manner. In addition, all the game
of the hills was at his mercy, and he had fish from the stream. It was
characteristic of Toller's cunning that his plunder was all obtained
from afar, and seldom twice from the same place. He would go ten miles
to the north to steal a lamb; next time, as far to the south to steal a
goose. The plundered area lay along the circumference of great circles,
with radii of ten, fifteen, twenty miles, of which his abode was the
centre. This put pursuers off the track, and caused them to look for him
everywhere but where he was. The police were convinced, for example,
that he was hiding in Clun Downs. The steer he had slaughtered on his
first return had been discovered, as Toller intended it to be; and, in
order to keep up the fiction of his presence in that neighbourhood, he
repeated his exploit a month later, and slaughtered a second steer in
the very pasture where he had killed the first.

Nor was his favourite amusement denied him. He knew the movements of
every shepherd on the uplands, and, by choosing his routes, could wander
for miles, slinging stones as he went, without risk of discovery.
Whether during these months he saw any human beings is unknown;
certainly no human being recognised him. His power of self-concealment
amounted to genius.

Such was the second madness of Shepherd Toller. Things from the abyss of
Time that float upwards into dreams--sleeping things whose breath
sometimes breaks the surface of our waking consciousness, like bubbles
rising from the depths of Lethe--these had become the sober certainties
of Toller's life. The superincumbent waters had parted asunder, and the
children of the deep were all astir. Toller had awakened into a past
which lies beyond the graves of buried races and had joined his fathers
in the morning of the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

Towards the end of the summer Toller's health began to decline. He was
attacked by fierce paroxysms of internal pain, which left him weak and
helpless. The distant forays had to be abandoned; there was no more
slinging of stones; he had great difficulty in obtaining food. He craved
most for milk, and this he procured at considerable risk of discovery by
descending before dawn into the lowlands and milking, or partially
milking, one of the Perryman cows; for the animals knew his voice and
were accustomed to his touch.

This was the posture of his affairs when one day he became apprised of
the presence in the neighbourhood of the picnic-party aforesaid. He
stalked them with care, saw the preparation of their meal, eyed the
large basket carried by the grooms, and thought with longing of the tea
it was sure to contain, and of the brandy that might be there also. To
be possessed of one or both of these things would at that moment have
satisfied the all-inclusive desire of the sick man's soul, and he
thought of every possible device and contrivance by which he could get
them into his hands. None promised well. At last he half resolved on the
desperate plan of scaring the pleasure-seekers from their camp by
bombarding the ground with stones--a plan which he remembered to have
proved effective with a party of ladies on Clun Downs. But he doubted
his strength for such a sustained effort, and reflected that a party
which contained so many men, even if forced to retreat, would be sure to
take their provender with them. While he was thus reflecting he saw the
kettle hoisted on the tripod, shining and glinting in the sun. Never had
Toller beheld a more tempting mark. The range was easy; his station was
well hidden; and the kettle was the hated symbol of his disappointed
hopes. "One more, and then I've done," I sez to myself--thus he reported
to Snarley Bob--"and I went back for the old sling, feelin' better than
I'd done for weeks. I picks the best stone I could find, and kep' on
whirlin' her round my head all the way back. Then I slaps her in, and
blessed if I didn't take the kettle first shot!"

       *       *       *       *       *

On the evening of the day when he discovered Toller, Snarley came home
with a countenance of sorrow. "I've found him, missis," he said; "but
he's a dyin' man. Worn to a shadder, and him the biggest man in the
parish. It would ha' scared you to see him. As sane as ever he was in
his life. 'Shepherd,' he sez, 'I'm starvin'. Can you get me a bit of
summat as I can eat?' 'What would you like?' I sez. He sez, 'I want
baccy and buttermilk. For God's sake, get me some buttermilk. It's the
only thing as I feel 'ud keep down; and the pain's that awful it a'most
tears me to shreds. And may be you can find a pinch o' tea and a spot or
two of something short.' I sez, 'You shall have it all this very night.
But how's your head?' 'Terrible heavy at the back,' he sez, 'but clear
on the top. I've a'most done wi' slingin' and stealin'. The police is
after me, and I'm too weak to dodge 'em much longer; they're bound to
catch me soon. But they'll get nowt but a bag o' bones, and they'll have
to be quick if they want 'em alive. Shepherd, I'm a dyin' man, and
there's not a soul to stand by me or bury me.' 'Yes, there is,' I sez;
'you've got me. I'll stand by you, and bury you, too. If the police
catches you, it'll be through no tellin' o' mine. You go back to your
hut, and we'll keep you snug enough, and get you all the baccy and
buttermilk as you wants.' 'Thank God!' he sez; and then the pain took
him, and he fair rolled on the ground."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Yes, sir," continued the widow of Snarley, "my 'usband had been failin'
for two years afore he died. But it was that affair wi' Shepherd Toller
as broke what bit o' strength he'd got left. I wanted him to tell the
doctor as he'd found him; but you might as well ha' tried to turn the
church round as move my 'usband when once he'd made up his mind.
'Nivver, Polly!' he sez. 'I've given Shepherd Toller my word. Besides,
he's too far gone for doctors to do him any good. He'll not last many
days. And I knows a way o' sendin' him to sleep as beats all the
doctors' bottles. You leave him to me.'

"Well, you see, sir, I knowed very well as he were doing wrong. But then
he didn't look at it that way. And he mostly knowed what he were doin',
my 'usband did.

"He never missed goin' to Shepherd Toller's hut mornin' nor night. He
took him buttermilk a'most every day; and oh, my word, the lies as he
told about what he wanted it for! I've known him walk miles to get it.
And then he'd sometimes sit up wi' him half the night tryin' to get him
to sleep, rubbin' his back and his head. And the things my 'usband used
to tell me about his sufferin's--oh, sir, it were somethin' awful!...
Once my 'usband asked him if he'd let him tell the doctor, and Shepherd
Toller a'most went out o' his mind with fright. 'I've got to see it
through, Polly,' he sez to me; 'but I doubt if it won't be the death o'

"Shepherd Toller took to his bed the very day as my 'usband met him, and
never left it, leastways he never went outside the hut again. I wanted
to go myself and look after him a bit in the daytime. But my 'usband
wouldn't let me go. 'He's no sight for you to look at, missis,' he sez.
'Except for the pain, his mind's at rest. Besides, there's nobody but me
knows how to talk to him, and there's nobody but me as he wants to see.
You can't make him no comfortabler than he is.'

"But it were a terrible strain on my poor 'usband, and there's not a
doubt that it would ha' killed him there and then if it had lasted much
longer. It were about three weeks before the end come, and nivver shall
I forget that night--no, not if I was to live to be a thousand years

"My master come home about ten o'clock, lookin' just like a man as were
walkin' in his sleep. I couldn't get him to take notice o' nothin', and
when I put his supper on the table he seemed as though he hardly knowed
what it were for. He didn't eat more than two mouthfuls, and then he
turned his chair round to the fire, tremblin' all over.

"After a bit I sees him drop asleep like. So I sez to myself, 'I'll just
go upstairs to warm his bed for him, and then I'll come down and wake
him up,' and I begins to get the warmin'-pan ready. He were mutterin'
all sorts of things; but I didn't take much notice o' that, because
that's what he allus did when he went to sleep in his chair. However, I
did notice that he kep' mutterin' something about a dog.

"Soon he wakes up, kind o' startled, and sez, 'Missis, let that dog in;
he won't let me get a wink o' sleep.' 'You silly man,' I sez, 'you've
been fast asleep for three-quarters of a' hour.' 'Why,' he sez, 'I've
been wide awake all the time, listenin' to the dog whinin' and
scratchin' at the door, and I was too tired to get up and let him in.
Open the door quick; I'm fair sick on it.' I sez, 'What nonsense you're
talkin'! Why, Boxer's been lyin' under the table ever since you come
home at ten o'clock. He's there now.' So he looks under the table, and
there sure enough were Boxer fast asleep. 'Well,' he sez, 'it must be
another dog. Open the door, as I tell you, and see what it is.' So I
opens the door; and, of course, there were no sign of a dog. 'Are you
satisfied now?' I sez. 'I can't make it out,' he sez; 'it's something
funny. I'd take my dyin' oath as there were a dog scratchin'. But maybe
as I'll go to sleep now.' So he shuts his eyes, and were soon off,
mutterin' as before.

"Well, I was just goin' upstairs when all of a sudden he give a scream
as a'most made me drop the warmin' pan. 'What's up?' I sez. 'I've burnt
my hand awful,' he sez. 'Burnt your hand?' I sez. 'How did you manage to
do that? Have you been tumblin' into the fire?' 'I don't know,' he sez;
'but the funny thing is there's no mark of burnin' as I can see.' 'Why,'
I sez, 'it must be the rheumatiz in yer knuckles. I'll get a drop o'
turpentine, and rub 'em,' So I gets the turpentine, and begins rubbin'
his hand, and his arm as well. He sez, 'It's just like a red-hot nail
driven slap through the palm o' my hand.' Well, it got better after a
bit, and I made him go to bed, though he were that hot and excited I
knowed we were going to have a wild night.

"The minute he lay down he went to sleep and slep' quietly for about
half an hour. Then he starts groanin' and tossin'. 'It's beginnin',' I
sez to myself; 'I'd better light the candle so as to be ready.' The
minute I struck the match he jumps out o' bed like a madman, catches
hold of the bedpost, and begins pullin' the bed across the room. 'What
are you doin'?' I sez. 'I'm pullin' the bed out o' the fire,' he sez.
'Don't you see the room's burnin'?' 'Come, master,' I sez, 'you've got
the nightmare. Get back into bed again, and keep quiet.'

"He let go o' the bedpost and began starin' in front of him with the
most awful eyes you ever see. 'Are you blind?' he sez. 'Don't you see
what's 'appenin'?' 'Nothing's 'appenin',' I sez; 'get back into bed.'
'Look! he sez, 'look at the top o' that hill! Can't you see they're
crucifying Shepherd Toller on a red-hot cross? I can hear him screamin'
wi' pain.' 'Get out,' I sez; 'Shepherd Toller's all right. Now just you
lie down, and think no more about it.' But, oh dear, you might as well
ha' talked to thunder and lightnin'. He kep' on as how he could hear
Shepherd Toller screamin' and callin' for him, until I thought I should
ha' gone out o' my mind.

"Just then a' idea come to me. We'd got a bottle o' stuff as the doctor
give him to make him sleep when the rheumatiz come on bad. So I pours
out half a cupful, and I sez, 'Here, you drink that, and it'll stop 'em
crucifying Shepherd Toller.' He drinks it down at a gulp, and then he
sez, 'They've took him down. But I'm afraid he's terrible burnt.' He
soon got quiet and lay down and went to sleep.

"He must ha' slep' till six in the mornin', when he got up. 'My head's
achin' awful,' he sez. 'I've been dreamin' about Shepherd Toller all
night. I believe as summat's gone wrong wi' him. Make me a cup o' strong
tea, and I'll go and see what's up.'

"When my 'usband got to the hut the first thing he sees were Shepherd
Toller lyin' all of a heap on the floor wi' his clothes half burnt off
him and his left arm lyin' right on the top o' where the fire had been.
His hand were like a cinder, and he were burnt all over his body. He
were still livin' and able to speak. 'How's this happened--what have you
been doin'?' sez my 'usband. 'It were the cold,' he sez, 'and I wanted a
drop o' brandy. And the dog were tryin' to get in. You shut him out when
you went away.'

"Well, my 'usband gave him brandy and managed to lift him on to the bed.
'I never thought as I should die like this,' he sez. 'Bury the old dog
wi' me, shepherd, and put the slings alongside o' me and the little axe
in my hand. And see there's plenty o' stones.' That was the last he
said, though he kep' repeatin' it as long as he could speak. It were not
more than an hour after my master found him before he were gone.

"My 'usband dug his grave wi' his own hands, close beside the hut, and
buried him next day. He put the axe and slings just as he told him, wi'
the stones and all the bits of flint things as he found in the hut. What
went most to his heart were shootin' the old dog. He telled me as he
were sure the dog knowed he were goin' to kill him, and stood as quiet
as a lamb beside the grave when he pointed the gun. 'It were worse than
murder,' he said, 'and I shall see him to my dyin' day. But I'd given my
word, and I had to do it.

"No, sir, not a livin' soul, exceptin' me, knew what had happened till
my 'usband told Mrs. Abel and you three days before he died. That were
eighteen months after he'd buried Shepherd Toller. Of course, he'd ha'
got into trouble if they'd knowed what he'd done. But he weren't afraid,
and he used to say to me, 'Don't you bother, missis. They can't do
nothing to you when I'm gone. Let 'em say what they like; you and me
knows as I've done no wrong. There's only one thing as I can't bear to
think on. And that's shootin' the old dog.'"


Whether Snarley Bob was mad or sane is a question which the reader, ere
now, has probably answered for himself. If he thinks him mad, his
conclusion will repeat the view held, during his lifetime, by many of
Snarley's equals and by some of his betters. In support of the opposite
opinion, I will only say that he was sane enough to hold his tongue in
general about certain matters, which, had he freely talked of them,
would have been regarded as strong evidence of insanity.

The chief of these was his intercourse with the Invisible
Companion--invisible to all save Snarley Bob. That designation, however,
is not Snarley's, but my own; and I use it because I do not wish to
commit myself to the identification of this personage with any
individual, historical or imaginary. Snarley generally called him "the
Shepherd"; sometimes, "the Master"; and he used no other name.

With this "Master" Snarley claimed to be on terms of intimacy which go
beyond the utmost reaches of authentic mysticism. Whether the being in
question was a figment of the brain or a real inhabitant of time and
space, let the reader, once more, decide for himself. Some being there
was, at all events, of whose companionship Snarley was aware under
circumstances which are not usually associated with such matters.

There is much in this connection that must needs remain obscure. The
only witness who could have cleared those obscurities away has long been
beyond the reach of summons. To none else than Mrs. Abel was Snarley
ever known to open free communication on the subject.

He spoke now and then of a dim, far-off time when he had been a
"Methody." But he had shown scant perseverance in the road which, strait
and narrow though it be, has now become easy to trace, being well marked
by the tread of countless bleeding feet. Instead of continuing therein,
he had "leapt over the wall" into the surrounding waste, and struck out,
by a path of his own devising, for the land of Beulah. By all recognised
precedent he ought to have failed in arriving. I will not say he
succeeded; but he himself was well content with the result. It is true
that in all his desert-wanderings he never lost the chart and compass
with which Methodism had once provided him; but he filled in the chart
at points where Methodism had left it blank, and put the compass to uses
which were not contemplated by the original makers.

For many years before his death Snarley entered neither the church nor
the chapel; and, I regret to say, he had a very low opinion of both.
This was one of the few matters on which he and Hankin were agreed,
though for opposite reasons. Hankin objected to these institutions
because they went too far; Snarley because they went not nearly far
enough. It may, however, be noted that in the tap-room of the Nag's
Head, where the blasphemy of the Divine name was a normal occurrence,
Snarley, of whose displeasure everybody went in fear, would never allow
the name of Christ to be so much as mentioned, not even argumentatively
by Hankin; and once when a foul-mouthed navvy had used the name as part
of some filthy oath, Snarley instantly challenged the man to fight,
struck him a fearful blow between the eyes and pitched him headlong,
with a shattered face, into the village street. But in the matter of
contempt for the religious practice of his neighbours, his attitude was,
if possible, more extreme than Hankin's. I need not quote his utterances
on these matters; except for their unusual violence, they were
sufficiently commonplace. Had Snarley been more highly developed as "a
social being" he would, no doubt, have been less intolerant; but
solitude had made him blind on that side of his nature; for his
fellow-men in general he had little sympathy and less admiration, his
soul being as lonely as his body when wandering before the dawn on some
upland waste.

Lonely, save for the frequent presence, by day and night, of his ghostly
monitor and friend. To understand the nature of this companionship we
must remember that devotion to the shepherd's craft was the controlling
principle of Snarley's being. Had he been able to philosophise on the
basis of his experience, he would have found it impossible to represent
perfection as grounded otherwise than on a supreme skill in the breeding
and management of sheep. No being, in his view of things, could wear the
title of "good Shepherd" for any other reason. Taking Snarley all round,
I dare say he was not a bad man; but I doubt if there was any sin which
smelt so rank in his nostrils as the loss of a lamb through
carelessness, nor any virtue he rated so high as that which was rewarded
by a first prize at the agricultural show. The form of his ideal, and
the direction of his hero-worship, were determined accordingly.

The name preferred by Snarley was, as I have said, "the Shepherd," and
the term was no metaphor. He was familiar with every passage in the New
Testament where mention is made of sheep; he knew, for example, the
opening verses of the tenth chapter of St. John by heart; and all these
metaphorical passages were translated by him into literal meaning. That
is to say, the Person to whom they refer, or by whom they were spoken,
was one whom Snarley found it especially fitting to consult, and whose
sympathy he was most vividly aware of, in doing his own duty as a
guardian of sheep.

For instance, it was his practice to guide the flock by walking _before_
them; and this he explained as "a way 'the Shepherd' had." He said that
when walking behind he was invariably alone; but when going in front
"the Shepherd" was frequently by his side. And there were greater
"revelations" than this. During the lambing season, when Snarley would
often spend the night in his box, high up among the wolds, "the
Shepherd" would announce his presence towards midnight by giving a
signal, which Snarley would immediately answer, and pass long hours with
him communing on the mysteries of their craft.

From this source Snarley professed to have derived some of the secrets
on which his system of breeding was founded. "'The Shepherd' had put him
up to them." He said that it was "the Shepherd" who had turned his
thoughts to Spain as the country which would provide him with a
short-eared ram. "The Shepherd" had assisted in the creation of
"Thunderbolt," had indicated the meadows where the "Spanish cross" would
find the best pasturage, and never failed to warn him when he was going
to make a serious mistake. In his brilliant successes, which were many,
at agricultural shows and such like, Snarley disclaimed every tittle of
merit for himself, assuring Mrs. Abel that it was all due to the
guidance of "the Shepherd." Of the prize-money which came to him in this
way--for Farmer Perryman let him have it all--Snarley would never spend
a sixpence; it was all "the Shepherd's money," and was promptly banked
"that the missis might have a bit when he were gone"--the "bit"
amounting, if I remember rightly, to four hundred and eighty pounds.

Throughout these communings there was scarcely a trace of moral
reference in the usual senses of the term. One rule of life, and one
only, Snarley professed to have derived from his invisible monitor--that
"the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." This rule, also, he
accepted in a strictly literal sense, and considered himself under
orders accordingly. Thus interpreted, it was for him the one rule which
summed up the essential content of the whole moral law.

I am not able to recall any notable act of heroism or self-sacrifice
performed by Snarley on behalf of his flock; but perhaps we shall not
err in regarding his whole life as such an act. When, in his old age,
physical suffering overtook him--the result of a lifetime of toil and
exposure to the elements--he bore it as a good soldier should bear his
wounds, sustained by the consciousness that pain such as his was the lot
of every shepherd "as did his duty by the sheep."

Nor am I aware that he displayed any emotional tenderness towards his
charges; and certainly, I may add, his personal appearance would not
have recommended him to a painter in search of a model for the Good
Shepherd of traditional art. In eliminating undesirable specimens from
the flock, Snarley was as ruthless as Nature; and when the butcher's man
drove them off to the shambles he would watch their departure without a
qualm. It was certainly said that he would never slaughter a sheep with
his own hands, not even when death was merciful; on the other hand, he
would sternly execute, by shooting, any dog that showed a tendency to
bite or worry the flock. There was one doubtful case of this kind which
Snarley told Mrs. Abel he had settled by reference to his monitor--the
verdict being adverse to the dog. The monitor was, indeed, his actual
Master--the captain of the ship whose orders were inviolable,--Farmer
Perryman being only the purser from whom he received his pay: a view of
the relationship which probably worked to Perryman's great advantage.

In short, whatever may have been Snarley's sins or virtues in other
directions, "the Shepherd" had little or nothing to do with them. The
burden which Snarley laid at his feet was the burden which had bent his
back, and crippled his limbs, and gnarled his hands, and furrowed his
broad brows during seventy years of hardship and toil. Moral lapses--in
the matter of drink and, at one time, of fighting--occasionally took
place; but they were never known to be followed by any reference to the
disapproval of "the Shepherd." In some respects, indeed, Robert Dellanow
showed himself singularly deficient in moral graces. To the very end of
his life he was given to outbreaks of violent behaviour--as we have
seen; and not only would he show no signs of after-contrition for his
bad conduct, but would hint, at times, that his invisible companion had
been a partner, or at least an unreproving spectator, in what he had
done. But if he made a mistake in feeding the ewes or in doctoring the
lambs, Snarley would say, "I don't know what 'the Shepherd' will think
o' me. I'll hardly have the face to meet him next time." Once, on the
other hand, when there had been a heavy snowfall towards the end of
April, and desperate work in digging the flock out of a drift, he
described the success of the operations to Mrs. Abel by saying, "It were
a job as 'the Shepherd' himself might be proud on."

In the last period of his life, however, gleams of his earlier Methodism
occasionally shot through, and showed plainly enough of whom he was
thinking. As with most men of his craft, his old age was made grievous
by rheumatism; there were times, indeed, when every joint of his body
was in agony. All this Snarley bore with heroic fortitude, sticking to
his duties on days when he described himself as "a'most blind wi' pain."
We have seen what sustained him, and it was strengthened, of course, as
he told some of us, by the belief that "the Shepherd" had borne far
worse. When at last the rheumatism invaded the valves of his heart, and
every walk up the hill was an invitation to Death, the old man still
held on, unmoved by the doctor's warnings and the urgency of his
friends. The Perrymans implored him to desist, and promised a pension;
his wife threatened and wept; Mrs. Abel added her entreaties. To the
latter he replied, "Not till I drops! As long as 'the Shepherd' 's there
to meet me I know as I'm wanted. The lambs ha' got to be fed. Besides
'the Shepherd' and me has an understandin'. I'll never give in while I
can stand on my legs and hold my crook in my hand."

There is reason to believe that every phase of Snarley's connection with
Toller was laid before "the Shepherd." Each new development was subject
to his guidance. Shortly after Toller's disappearance, Snarley said to
Mrs. Abel, "Me and 'the Shepherd' has been talkin' it over. He sez to
me, 'Snarley, when you lose a sheep, you goes after it into the
wilderness, and you looks and looks till you finds. But this time it's a
shepherd that's lost. Now you stay quiet where you are, and keep your
eyes and ears open day and night. I know where he is; he's all right;
and I'm lookin' after him. By and by I'm going to hand him over to you.
Him and you has got to drink together, but it'll be a drink o' gall for
both on you. When the time comes, I'll give you the sign.'"

"The sign come," he added, later on, "the sign come that night in the
Nag's Head, when the groom told us about the kettle. I'd just had a drop
o' something short, and when I looks up there were 'the Shepherd'
sittin' in the chair next but one to Shoemaker Hankin. Just then the
groom come in, and 'the Shepherd' gets up and comes over to a little
table where I'd got my glass. The groom sits down where 'the Shepherd'
had been, and 'the Shepherd' sits down opposite to me. The groom says,
'Boys, I've got summat to tell you as'll make your hair stand on end.'
'Fire away,' says Tom Barter; and 'the Shepherd,' he holds up his finger
and looks at me. When the groom had done, and they were all shoutin' and
laughin', 'the Shepherd' leans across the table and whispers, close in
my ear, 'Snarley, the hour's come! Drink up what's left in your glass.
It's time to be goin'.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

During the trying time of his concealment and tending of Toller, "the
Shepherd's" presence became more frequent, and Snarley's
characterisation more precise. The belief that "the Shepherd" was
"backing him up" gave Snarley a will of iron. When Mrs. Abel, on the
night of his confession, essayed to reprove him for not obtaining
medical assistance for Toller, he drew himself as erect as his crippled
limbs allowed, and said quietly, in a manner that closed discussion, "It
were 'the Master's' orders, my lady. He'd handed him over to _me_." He
also said, or hinted, that "the Master" had taught him the
method--whatever it may have been for sending Toller to sleep, "that
were better than all the doctor's bottles." From the same source,
doubtless, came his secret for "setting Toller's mind at rest." That
secret is undivulged; but it was connected in some way with what Snarley
called "the Shepherd's Plan," of which all we could learn was that
"there were three men on three crosses, him in the middle being 'the
Shepherd,' and them at the sides being Toller and me."

"There were allus three on us in the hut," said Snarley, "and all three
were men as knowed what pain were. Both Toller and me was drinking out
o' 'the Shepherd's' cup, and he'd promised to stay by us till the last
drop was gone. 'It's full o' fury and wrath,' sez he; 'but it's got to
be drunk by them as wants to drive their flock among the stars. I've
gone before, and you're comin' after. When you've done this there'll be
no more like it. The next cup will be full o' wine, and we'll all three
drink it together.'"

In this wise did Snarley and Toller receive the Sacrament in their dark
and lonely den.

The night on which Snarley came home "like a man walking in his
sleep"--the last night of Toller's life--was wild, wet, and very dark.
With a lantern in one hand, a can of milk in the other, and a bag of
sticks on his back, the old man stumbled through the night until he
reached the last slope leading to Toller's hut. Here the lantern was
blown out, and Snarley, after depositing his burdens, sat down, dizzy
and faint, on a stone. In his pocket was an eight-ounce bottle,
containing a meagre sixpenn'orth of brandy for Shepherd Toller. Snarley
fingered the bottle, and then, with quick resolution, withdrew his hand.
"For the life o' me," he said, "I couldn't remember where I was. I felt
as though the hillside were whirlin' round, carryin' me with it. And
then I felt as though I were sinkin' into the ground. 'I'll never get
there this night,' I sez to myself. Just then I hears something movin',
and blessed if it wasn't Toller's old dog as had come to look for me. He
come jumpin' up and begins lickin' my face. Well, it put a bit o' heart
into me to feel the old dog. So I picks up the can and the bundle, and
off I goes again; and, though I wouldn't ha' believed it, it weren't
more than eighty yards, or a hundred at most, to the hut.

"When I come to the edge of the pit I sees a lantern burnin' near the
door, wonderful bright; and there were 'the Shepherd' sittin' on a
stone, same as I'd been doin' myself a minute before. As soon as he sees
me comin', he waves his lantern and calls out, 'Have a care, Snarley,
it's a steep and narrow road.' Well, the path down into the pit were as
slippery as ice, and I tell you I'd never ha' got down--at least, not
without breakin' some o' my bones--if 'the Shepherd' hadn't kep' showin'
me a light.

"So I comes up to where he were; and then I noticed as he were wet
through, just as I were, and looking regular wore out. 'Snarley,' he sez
to me, 'you carry your cross like a man.' 'I learnt that from you,
Master,' I sez; 'but you look as though yours had been a bit too heavy
for you this time.' 'We've had terrible work to-day,' he sez; 'we've
been dividin' the sheep from the goats. And there's no keepin' 'em
apart. We no sooner gets 'em sorted than they mixes themselves up again,
till you don't know where you are.' 'Why didn't you let me come and help
you?' I sez. 'I'd ha' brought Boxer, and he'd ha' settled 'em pretty
quick.' 'No, no,' he sez; 'your hour's not come. When I wants you, I'll
give you a sign as you can't mistake. Besides, you're not knowledgable
in goats. Feed my sheep.' 'Well,' I sez, 'when you wants me, you knows
where to find me.' 'Right,' he sez; 'but it's Toller we'll be wantin'
first. And I've been thinkin' as p'raps he'd oblige us by lettin' us
have the loan of his dog for a bit.' 'I'll go in and ask him,' I sez; 'I
don't suppose he'll have any objection.' Then 'the Shepherd' blew his
lantern out, and I see him no more that night.

"Me and the dog goes into the hut, and I could hear as Toller were fast
asleep in his bed. I begins blowin' up the embers in the fire, and when
the blaze come the old dog lay down as though he meant goin' to sleep.
But I could see as there was somethin' on his mind, for he kept cockin'
his nose up, and sniffin' and lookin' round. Then he gets up and begins
scratchin' at the door, as he allus did when he wanted to go out. So I
opens the door, and out he rushes into the dark, like a mad thing,
barkin' as though he smelt a fox.

"When I'd done what I'd come to do, I puts the brandy and the buttermilk
where they'd be handy for Shepherd Toller to get 'em, and then I goes to
the door and begins whistlin' for the dog. But no sign of him could I
hear or see, though I kep' on whistlin' for full a quarter of a' hour.
It were strange as it didn't wake Shepherd Toller, but he kep' on
sleepin' like a child in a thunderstorm. At last I give it up and shut
the door and went home. How I got back, I don't know. I can't remember
nothing till my missis catched hold on me and pulled me in through the

       *       *       *       *       *

"I'd never ha' been able to shoot the old dog," said Snarley, "if 'the
Shepherd' hadn't made me do it. I turned fair sick when I put the charge
in the gun, and when I pointed it at him I was in such a tremble that I
couldn't aim straight. I tried three or four times to get steady, the
dog standin' as still as still all the while, except that he kep'
waggin' his tail.

"All of a sudden I sees 'the Shepherd,' plain as plain. He were standin'
just behind the old dog, strokin' his head. 'Shoot, Snarley,' he sez;
'shoot, and we'll look after him.' 'Stand back, then, Master,' I sez;
'for I'm goin' to fire.' 'Fire,' he sez; 'but aim lower. The shot won't
hurt _me_,' and he went on strokin' the dog's head. So I pulls the
trigger, and when the smoke cleared 'the Shepherd' were gone, and the
dog were lyin' dead as any stone."


"He'd a rough tongue, sir; but he'd a good 'eart," said the widow of
Snarley Bob. "Oh, sir, but he were a wonderful man, were my master. I
never knowed one like him--no, nor never 'eard o' one. I didn't think on
it while he were living; but now' he's gone I know what I've lost. That
clever! Why, he often used to say to me. 'Polly, there ain't a bit of
blessed owt as I couldn't do, if I tried.' And it were true, sir. And
him nothing but a shepherd all his life, and never earned more'n
eighteen shillin' a week takin' it all the year round. And us wi' a
family of thirteen children, without buryin' one on 'em, and all married
and doin' well. And only one fault, sir, and that not so bad as it is in
some. He _would_ have his drop of drink--that is, whenever he could get
it. Not that he spent his wages on it, except now and then after the
children was growed up. But you see, sir, he was that amusin' in his
talk, and folks used to treat him.

"Well, sir, it was last Saturday fortnight, as I was tellin' you, he
come home for the last time. I can see 'im now, just as he come
staggerin' in at that door. I thought when I saw him that he'd had a
drop o'drink, though he'd not been 'avin' any for a long time. So I sez
to myself, 'I'd better make 'im a cup o' tea,' and I begins puttin' the
kettle on the fire. 'What are you doin'?' he sez. 'I'm goin' to give you
a cup o' tea,' I sez; 'It'll do yer good.' 'No, it won't,' he sez, 'I've
done wi' cups o' tea in this world.' 'Why,' I sez, 'what rubbish! 'Ere,
sit yer down, and let me pull yer boots off.' 'You can pull 'em off,' he
sez 'but ye'll never see me put 'em on again.'

"I could see by this that it wasn't drink besides I couldn't smell any.
So I gets 'im into his chair and begins pullin' his boots off. 'What
makes you talk like that?' I sez. 'You knows as you was ever so much
better last night. When you've had yer medicine you'll be all right.' He
said nowt for a time, but just sat, tremblin' and shiverin' in his
chair. So I sez, 'Hadn't you better 'ave the doctor?' 'It's no good,' he
sez; 'I'm come 'ome for the last time. It'll be good-bye this time,
missis.' 'Not it,' I sez; 'you've got many years to live yet. Why, wot's
to make yer die?' 'It's my 'eart,' he sez; 'it's all flip-floppin' about
inside me, and gurglin' like a stuck pig. It's wore out, and I keep
gettin' that faint.' 'Oh,' I sez, 'cheer up; when you've 'ad a cup o'
tea you'll feel better'; but I'd hardly got the words out o' my mouth
before he were gone in a dead faint.

"We got 'im to bed between the three on us, and, my word, it were a job
gettin' 'im up them narrer stairs! As soon as we'd made 'im comfortable,
he sez to me, 'Wot I told yer's comin' to-night, Polly. They've been
a-callin' on me all day. I see 'em and 'ear 'em, too. Loud as loud.
Plain as plain.' 'Who's been callin' yer?' I sez. 'The messengers o'
death,' he sez; 'and they're in this room, four on 'em, now. I can 'ear
'em movin' and talkin' to one another.' 'Oh,' I sez, 'it's all fancy.
What you 'ear is me and Mrs. Rowe. You lie quiet and go to sleep, and
you'll be better in the mornin'.' He only shook his 'ead and said, 'I
can 'ear 'em.'

"Well, I suppose it was about 'alf a' hour after this when Mrs. Rowe sez
to me, 'He looks like goin' to sleep now, Mrs. Dellanow, so I think I'll
go 'ome and get my master 'is supper'; and she was just goin' down the
stairs when all of a sudden he starts up in bed and sez, 'Do you 'ear
that whistle blowin'?' 'No,' I sez, 'you've been dreamin'. There isn't
nobody whistlin' at this time o' night.' 'Yes,' he sez, 'there is, and
it blowed three times. There's thousands and thousands of sheep, and a
tall shepherd whistlin' to his dog. But he's got no dog, and it's me
he's whistlin' for.'

"Now, sir, you must understand that my 'usband when he was with the
sheep used to work his dog wi' whistlin' instead of shoutin' to it as
most shepherds do. You can see his whistle hangin' on that nail--that's
where he hung it 'isself for twenty-five years. You see, he was kind o'
superstitious and used to say it was bad luck to keep yer whistle in yer
pocket when you went to bed. So he always hung it on that nail, the last
thing at night.

"'Why,' I sez, tryin' to humour 'im, 'it's his dog he's whistlin' for,
not you. His dog's somewhere where you can't see it. He doesn't want
you. You lie back again, and go to sleep.' 'No, no,' sez he; 'there's no
dog, and the sheep's runnin' everywhere, thousands on 'em. It's me he's
whistlin' for, and we must whistle back to say I'm comin'. Fetch it down
from the nail, Polly. There he is again! He's the tallest shepherd I
ever saw. He's one of them four that was in the room just now. Whistle
back, Polly, and then it'll be all right.' And so he kep' on, again and

"Mrs. Rowe, who'd come into the room, said to me, 'If I was you, Mrs.
Dellanow, I'd fetch the whistle and blow it. It'll quiet 'im, and then
p'raps he'll go to sleep.'

"You can understand, sir, that I was that upset I didn't know what I was
doing. But when he kep' on callin' and beseechin' I thought I'd better
do as Mrs. Rowe recommended. So I went down and took the whistle from
that nail--the same where you see it hangin' now. When I got back I
couldn't somehow bring myself to do it, so I gives it to 'im to blow
'isself. But, oh dear, to see the poor thing trying to put it to his
mouth ... it a'most broke my heart. So I took it from 'im, and blowed it
myself three times as he wanted me. To think o' me standin' by my own
'usband's dyin'-bed and blowin' a whistle!

"When I'd done, he says, 'That's all right; he knows I'm comin' now. But
it'll take a long time to gather all them sheep.'

"For a bit he was quite still, and both me and Mrs. Rowe sat watchin',
when, all of a sudden, he starts up again and sez, 'Listen, he's goin'
to blow again,' Well, sir, I dare say you won't believe what I'm going
to tell yer, but it's as true as I'm standin' 'ere. He'd hardly got the
words out of his mouth when I hears a whistle blown three
times--leastways I thought I did--as it might be coming from the top of
that 'ill you see over there. There weren't no other sounds, for it was
as still a night as could be. But there was someone whistling, and Mrs.
Rowe 'eard it too. If you don't believe me, you can ask her. I nearly
dropped on the floor, and I knew from that minute that my 'usband was
going to die.

"You see, sir, my 'usband was never what you might call a religious man.
He were more of a readin' man, my 'usband was--papers and books and all
sorts o' things--more'n was good for 'im, I often used to say. You can
see a lot on 'em on that little shelf. If it hadn't been that they kep'
'im out o' the Nag's Head I'd ha' burned some on 'em, that I would, and
I often told 'im so. He knowed a wonderful lot about the stars, my
'usband did. Why, he'd often sit in his chair outside that door, smokin'
his pipe and watchin' 'em for hours together.

"One day there was a great man came down to give a lecture on the stars
in C----, and a gentleman as knowed my 'usband's tastes paid his fare
and gave 'im a ticket for the lecture. When he came 'ome he was that
excited I thought he'd go out o' his mind. He seemed as though he could
think of nothing else for weeks, and it wasn't till he began to ha' bad
luck wi' the ewes as he was able to shake it off. He was allus lookin'
in the paper to see if the gentleman as give the lecture was comin'
again. His name was Sir Robert Ball. I dare say you've heard on 'im.

"He used to spend all his Sundays readin' about stars. No, sir, he
'adn't been inside the church for years. 'Church is for folks as knows
nowt about the stars,' he used to say. 'Sir Robert Ball's my parson.'
One night when he was sittin' outside the door. I sez, 'Why don't you
come in and get yer supper? It's getting cold.' 'Let it get cold,' he
sez; 'I'm not comin' in till the moon's riz. It's as good as a drop o'
drink to see it.'

"P'raps he told yer all about that time when he was took up wi'
spiritualism. He'd met a man in the public-'ouse who'd 'eard his talk
and put 'im up to it. They got 'im to go to a meetin' i' the next
village, and made 'im believe as he was a medium. Well, there never was
such goin's-on as we 'ad wi' 'im for months. He'd sit up 'alf the night,
bumpin' the table and tan-rannin' wi' an old bucket till I was a'most
scared out o' my life. But that winter he was nearly carried off wi' the
New Mony, and when he got better he said he wasn't goin' to touch the
spirits no more. 'There's summat in it,' he sez; 'but there's more in
the stars.' And from that day I never 'eard 'im so much as talk about
spirits, and you may be sure I didn't remind 'im on 'em.

"You must ha' often 'eard 'im talk about the stars, sir. Well, I suppose
them things makes no difference to a' eddicated gentleman like you. But
poor folks, _I_ sez, has no business to meddle wi' em. All about worlds
and worlds floatin' on nothin' till you got fair lost. Folks as find
them things out ought to keep 'em quiet, that's wot _I_ sez. Why, I've
'eard 'im talk till I was that mazed that I couldn't 'a said my prayers;
no, not if I'd tried ever so.

"Yes, sir, it were a strange thing that when my 'usband come to die his
mind seemed to hang on his whistle more'n a'most anything else. He kep'
talkin' about it all night, and sayin' the tall shepherd was answerin'
back, though I never 'eard nothin' myself, save that one time I told yer

"'It's queer he don't talk about the stars,' sez Mrs. Rowe to me. 'He
will do before he's done, you see if he doesn't,' I sez.

"Well, about three o'clock I see a change in his face and knowed as the
end wasn't far off. So I puts my arm round his old neck, and I sez,
'Bob, my dear, are you prepared to meet your Maker?' 'Oh! I'm all
right,' he sez quite sensible; 'don't you bother your head about that,'
'Don't you think you'd better let me send for the parson?' I sez. 'No,'
he sez; 'but you could send for Sir Robert Ball--if you only knew where
to find him.' 'But,' I sez, 'wouldn't you like somebody to pray with
yer? Sir Robert Ball's no good for that,' 'He's as good as anybody
else,' he sez. 'Besides what's the use of prayin' now? It's all over,'
'It might do yer good,' I sez. 'It's too late," he sez, 'and I don't
want it. It isn't no Maker I'm goin' to--I'm goin' to the stars,' 'Oh,'
I sez, 'you're dreamin' again,' 'No, I'm not' he sez. 'Didn't I tell yer
they'd been a-callin' on me all day? I don't mean the stars, but them as
lives in 'em.'

"No, sir, he wasn't wanderin' then. 'I wish the children was 'ere,' he
sez; 'but you couldn't get 'em all in this little room. My eye, what a
lot we've 'ad! And all livin'. And there's Tom got seven of 'is own,'
And a lot more like that; but I was so upset and cryin' that I can't
remember half on it.

"About four o'clock he seemed to rally a bit and asked me to put my arm
round him and lift him up. So I raises him, like, on the pillow and
gives him a sup o' water. 'What day o' the week is it?' he sez. 'Sunday
mornin',' I sez. 'That's my day for the stars,' he sez, and a smile come
over his face, as were beautiful to see.... No, sir, he weren't a
smilin' man, as a rule--he allus got too much on his mind--and a lot o'
pain to bear too, sir. Oh, dear me!... Well, as I was a-sayin', he were
as glad as glad when he heard it were Sunday. 'What's o'clock?' he sez.
'Just struck four by the church clock,' I sez. 'Then the dawn must be
breakin',' he sez; 'look out o' the winder, there's a good lass, and
tell me if the sky's clear, and if you can see the mornin' star in the
south-east.' So I goes to the winder and tells him as how the sky were
clear and the mornin' star shinin' wonderful. 'Ah, she's a beauty,' he
sez, 'and as bright as she were milions o' years ago!'

"After a bit he sez, 'Take yer arm off, Polly, and lay me on my right
side.' When me and Mrs. Rowe 'ad turned 'im round he sez, 'You can fetch
the old Bible and read a bit if you like,' 'What shall I read?' I sez,
when Mrs. Rowe had fetched it, for I wouldn't leave 'im for a minute.
'Read about the Woman in Adultery,' he sez. 'Oh,' I sez, 'that'll do you
no good. You don't want to 'ear about them things now.' 'Yes,' he sez,
'I do. It's the best bit in the book. But if you can't find it, the Box
o' Hointment'll do as well.' 'What can he mean?' I sez. 'He means about
them two women as come to our Lord,' sez Mrs. Rowe. ''Ere, I'll find
'em.' So I give the Bible to Mrs. Rowe and lets her read both of the
bits he wanted.

"While Mrs. Rowe was readin' he lay as still as still, but his eyes were
that bright it a'most scared me to see 'em. When she'd done, he said
never a word, but lay on 'is side, wi' 'is 'ead turned a bit round,
starin' at the window. 'I'm sure he sees summat,' sez Mrs. Rowe to me.
'I wonder wot it is,' I sez. 'P'raps it's our Lord come to fetch 'im,'
she sez. 'I've 'eard o' such things.'

"He must ha' lay like that for ten minutes, breathin' big breaths as
though he were goin' to sleep. Then I sees 'is lips movin', and I 'ad to
bend my 'ead down to 'ear what he were sayin'. 'He's a-blowin' again.
It's the tall shepherd--'im as wrote on the ground--and he's got no dog,
and 'is sheep's scatterin'. It's me he wants. Fetch the old whistle,
Polly, and blow back. I want 'im to know I'm comin'.'

"He kep' repeatin' it, till 'is breath went. I got Mrs. Rowe to blow the
whistle, but he didn't 'ear it, and it made no difference. And so, poor
thing, he just gave one big sigh and he were gone."


It was winter, and Farmer Perryman and I were seated in straight-backed
arm-chairs on either side of his kitchen fire. The prosperity attendant
on the labours of Snarley Bob had already begun: the house was roomy and
well furnished; there was a parlour and a drawing-room; but Perryman,
when the day's work was done, preferred the kitchen. And so did I.

Though evening had fallen, the lamp was not yet lit; but the flames of a
wood fire gave light enough for conversational purposes, and imparted to
the flitches and hams suspended from the ceiling a lively reality which
neither daylight nor petroleum could ever produce. As the shadows danced
among them, the kitchen became peopled with friendly presences; a new
fragrance pervaded the place, bearing a hint of good things to come. No
wonder that Perryman loved the spot.

To-night, however, there was another object in the room, of so alien a
nature that any self-respecting ham or flitch, had it possessed a
reasonable soul, would have been sorely tempted to "heave half a brick"
at the intruder. This object stood gleaming on a table in the middle of
the room. It was a bran-new and brilliantly polished tall hat.

"No," said Farmer Perryman, "it's not for Sundays. It's for a weddin'!
You'll never see me wearing a box-hat on Sundays again. Will he,
missis?" (Mrs. Perryman said, "I don't expect he will.") "No sir, not
again! Not that I don't mean to go to church regular. I've done that all
my life.

"Yes, you're quite right. Folks in the villages don't go to church as
they used to do when I was a young man, and I'm sorry to see it. Folks
nowadays seems to have forgotten as they've got to die. Besides, it's
not good for farmin'. Show me any parish in the county where there's
first-class farmin', and I'll bet you three to one there's a good
congregation in the church.

"What's driven 'em away, did you say? Well, if you want my opinion, it's
my belief as this 'ere Church Restoration has as much to do wi' it as
anything else. There's been a lot o' new doctrine, it's true, and all
this 'ere 'Igh Churchism, as I could never make head nor tail of; and
that, no doubt, has offended some o' the old-fashioned folk like me. But
it's when they starts restoring the old churches, and makin' 'em all
spick and span, that the religious feelin' seems to die out on 'em, and
folks begins to stop goin'. You might as well be in a concert hall--the
place full o' chairs and smellin' o' varnish enough to make you sick,
and a lot o' lads in the chancel dressed up in white gowns, and suckin'
sweets, and chuckin' paper pellets at one another all through the
sermon. That's not what _I_ call religion!

"I've often told our parson as it were the worst day's work he ever did
when he had our church restored. And a lot o' money it cost, too; but
not a penny would I give, and I told 'em I wouldn't--no, not if they'd
gone down on their bended knees. From that day to this our church has
never _smelt_ right--never smelt as a church _ought_ to smell. You know
the smell of a' old church? Well, I don't know what makes it; but there
it is, and when you've said your prayers to it for forty years you can't
say 'em to no other.

"I can remember what a turn it gave me that Sunday when the Bishop came
down to open the church after it had been restored. The old smell clean
gone, and what was worse a new smell come! 'Mr. Abel,' I says, 'I can
put up wi' a bit of new doctrine, and I don't mind a pinch or two o'
ceremony; but I can't abide these 'ere new smells,' 'I'll never be able
to keep on comin',' I says to Charley Shott. 'Nor me, neither,' he says.
"I'll go to church in another parish,' I says to my missis, 'for danged
if you'll ever see me goin' inside a chapel.'

"So I went next Sunday to Holliton, and--would you believe me?--it had a
new smell, worse, if anything, than ours. There was a' old man in a
black gown, and a long stick in his hand, walkin' up and down the aisle.
So I says to him, 'What's up with this 'ere church? Has them candles on
the altar been smokin'?' 'No,' he says, 'not as I know on.' 'Well,' I
says, sniffin' like, 'there's a very queer smell in the place. It's not
'ealthy. Summat ought to be done to it at once.' 'Hush!' he says, 'what
you smells is the incense.' And then the Holliton clergyman! Well--I
couldn't stand him at no price--a great, big, fat feller wi' no more
religion in him than a cow--and not more'n six people in the church.
'Not for me,' I says, 'not after Mr. Abel.'

"Well, I didn't know what to do, when one day I sees Charley Shott
comin' out o' our churchyard. 'Sam,' he says, 'I've just been sniffin'
round inside the church, and there she is, all alive and kickin'!'
'What's all alive and kickin'?' I says. 'The old smell,' says he; 'come
inside, and I'll show you where she is.' So I follows Charley Shott into
the church, and he takes me round to where the old tomb is, in the north
transep'. 'Now,' he says, 'take a whiff o' that, Sam.' 'Charley,' I
says, 'it's the right smell sure enough; and if only she won't wear off,
I'll sit in this corner to the end o' my days.' 'She's not likely to
wear off,' he says; 'she comes from the old tomb. It's a mixture o' damp
and dust. Now, the damp's all right, because the heatin' pipes don't
come round here; and, besides, the sun never gets into this corner. And
as to the dust, you just take your pocket-handkerchief and give a flick
or two round the bottom o' the tomb. That'll freshen her up any time.'

"Well, you may laugh; but I tell you it's as true as I'm sittin' here. I
allus goes to church in good time, and if my corner don't smell true, I
just dusts her up a bit, and then she's as right as a trivet."

"But," I said, "you were going to tell me about the tall hat."

"Ha, so I was," replied Ferryman; "but the hat made me think o' the
church, and that put me off. Well, it's no doin' o' mine that you see
that hat where it is to-night. If I had my way it 'ud be in the place
where it came from, and fifteen shillin's that's in another place 'ud be
in my pocket. I'm not used to 'em, and what's more I never shall be. But
a weddin's a weddin', and your niece is your niece, and when your missis
says you've got to wear one--why, what's the use o' sayin' you won't?
However, that's not the first tall hat as I've worn."

"Tell me about the others," I said.

"There was only one other, and that other was one 'other' too many for
me," replied the farmer. "It's seven years come next hay harvest since
my wife come into a bit of money as had been left her by her aunt.
'Sam,' she says to me, 'we got a rise, and we must act up to it.' 'Right
you are,' I says; 'but how are you goin' to start?' 'Well,' she says,
'the first thing you've got to do is to leave off wearing billy-cocks on
Sundays and buy a box-hat,' 'Polished 'ats,' I says, 'is for polished
'eads, and mine was ordered plain,' 'If there's no polish on your 'ead,'
says she, 'that's a reason for having some on your 'at.'

"Well, we had a bit more chaff, and the end of it was that I promised to
buy one, though, between you and me, I never meant to. However, when
market-day come round, she _would_ go with me, and never a bit of peace
did she give me till she'd driven me into a shop and made me buy the
hat. 'I've bought it, Sally,' I said; 'but you'll _never_ see me wear
it.' 'Oh yes, I shall,' she says; 'you're not nearly such a fool as you
try to make yourself out.' Well, I went home that day just as mad as
mad. If there's one thing in this world as upsets me it's spending money
on things I don't want. And there was twelve-and-sixpence gone on a
box-hat! If Sally hadn't kept hold on it I'd ha' kicked the whole thing
half a mile further than the middle of next week. 'I'll get that
twelve-and-sixpence back somehow,' I said to myself; 'you see if I
don't. It's the Church that made me spend it, and the Church shall pay
me back. If I didn't go to church I shouldn't have bought that hat. All
right, Mr. Church,' I said, as I drove by it, shakin' my fist at the
steeple, 'I'll be even with you yet'; and I shouted it out loud."

"I should have thought your wife had more to do with it than the
Church," I interposed.

"Of course she had--in a plain sense o' speakin'," said the farmer. "But
then your wife's your wife, especially when she's a good 'un, and the
Church is the Church. Some men might ha' rounded on Sally; but I told
her before we were married that the first bad word I gave her would be
the answer to one she gave me. That's eight-and-twenty year ago, and we
haven't begun yet. But where was I? Oh, I was tellin' you what I said to
the church. You can guess what a rage I was in from my gettin' such a'
idea into my 'ead."

"No other reason?" I asked.

"Not a drop," replied Perryman; "for I suppose that's what you mean. No,
sir, I give it up once and for all ever since that time when Mrs. Abel
followed me to Crawley Races. Ay, and the best day's work she ever
did--and that's sayin' a good deal, I can tell you. I can see her just
as she was. She were drivin' a little blood-mare as she'd bought o'
me--one as I'd bred myself--for I were more in 'osses than sheep in them
days--and Mrs. Abel were allus a lady as knowed a good 'oss when she see
it. And there was Snarley Bob, in his Sunday clothes, sittin' on the
seat behind. She'd got a little blue bonnet on, as suited her to a T,
and were lookin' like a----"

"Tell him about that some other time," said Mrs. Perryman; "if you go on
at this rate you'll never get finished with the story about your hat."

"Hats isn't everything," said the farmer; "but if hats is what you want
to hear about, hats is what I'll talk on."

Mrs. Perryman looked at me with a glance which seemed to say that, even
though hats weren't everything, we had better stick to them on the
present occasion. I interpreted the glance by saying to the farmer, "Go
on about the hat. We can have the other next time." Mrs. Perryman seemed
relieved, and her husband continued:

"Well, next mornin' bein' Sunday, the missis managed to get her way, and
off we sails to church--she in a silk dress, and me in a box-hat. We was
twenty minutes before time, for I didn't want people to see us; but,
just as we were crossing the churchyard, who should we meet but the
parson and his lady? Know our parson? You're right: he's not only good,
but good all through, fat, lean, and streaky. That's what he is, and you
can take my word for it. Know his lady? No?" (I was a new-comer in those
days.) "Well, you _ought_ to: she'd make you laugh till you choked, and
next minute she'd make you cry. Mischievous? Why, if I should tell you
the tricks she's played on people you wouldn't believe 'em. Ever hear
what she did when the Squire's son come of age? Or about her dressing up
at the Queen's Jubilee? No? Well, I'll tell you that another time. Oh,
she's a treat--a real treat!" (Here Farmer Perryman broke forth into
mighty laughter and banged his fist on the table with such vigour that
Tall Hat the Second leaped into the air.)

"Why doesn't Parson keep her under, did you say?" he continued. "Bless
yer heart, he doesn't want to. She never harmed a living soul. Why, the
good she's done to this parish couldn't be told. It'll take the whole of
the Judgment Day to get through it, and then they won't ha' done--that's
what folks says. Popular? I should think she _was_! There isn't a poor
man or woman in the village as doesn't worship the soles of her boots.
And there's not many, rich or poor, as she hasn't made fools of--yes,
and more than once. They ought to write a book about her. It's a shame
they don't. My eye, if she'd been Queen of England she'd ha' made things
jump! As for finding things out, she's got a nose like that little
terrier bitch o' mine. 'Pon my word, it wouldn't surprise me if she
knows that you're sittin' in that chair at this minute. You mayn't
believe me, but I tell you she's capable of more than that.

"Yes, yes, she's gettin' an old woman now. I remember the day as Parson
brought her home--a quiet-looking little thing, with a face like a tame
rabbit--you wouldn't ha' thought she could 'a bitten a hole in the cheek
of a' apple. Some say she was a' actress before he married her; she's
_clever_ enough for twenty actresses, and she's _better_ than twenty

"Those are impressive figures," I said, not a little puzzled by the sum
in moral arithmetic which the farmer's enthusiasm had propounded. "Why,
she must be a perfect saint."

The words were scarcely out of my mouth when Mr. Perryman rose from his
chair like a man in wrath. Inadvertently I had used an expression which
acted like a spark upon gunpowder. Intending to praise his idol, I had
for some obscure reason wounded the passionate old man in the most
sensitive nerve of his being. I sat amazed, not understanding what I had
done, and even now I do not pretend to understand it wholly. But this is
what happened. Standing over me with fierce gesticulations, Mr. Perryman
poured out a fury of words, only fragments of which I can now recall.

"Perfect saint!" he shouted. "Do you know who it is you're talking
about? No, you don't, or you'd never have said such a word! Look here,
mister, let me tell yer this: you're on the wrong side of your 'osses
this time! She's no more a saint than _I_ am; if she had been, do you
think she could ha' done the best thing she ever did?"

"Great heavens!" I thought, "what can he mean?--I'm sorry you're hurt,"
I said aloud. "I meant no offence. Only you said just now she was as
good as twenty thousand----"

"_Actresses_," broke in the farmer. "I said twenty thousand
actresses--not twenty thousand _lambs_."

"Oh, well," I replied, "of course, there's a great difference between
the two things, and I was stupid not to think of it before. Whatever she
may be, it's plain you admire her, and that's enough." I was anxious to
break the current of Mr. Perryman's thoughts, and recover the history of
the Tall Hat, the thread of which had been so unexpectedly snapped.

"Admire her!" cried the old man, who was evidently not to be put off.
"And why shouldn't I? Who was it that dug Sam Perryman out of the mud
when he was buried in it up to his neck--yes, and got half smothered
with mud herself in doing it? But do you think she _cared_? Not she!
Snapped her fingers in the face of half the county, that she did, and
what's more she gave some of 'em a taste of the whip as they won't
forget! Now listen, and I'll tell you something that'll make your hair

I swiftly resolved not to listen, for the farmer was beside himself with
excitement and not responsible for what he was doing. I saw that I was
about to discover what I was never intended to know. Dim recollections
came to my mind of a grotesque but terrible story, known to not more
than four living souls, the names and personalities in which had for
good reasons been carefully concealed from me and from others. That
Farmer Perryman was one actor in that tragedy, and that Mrs. Abel was
another, had been already revealed past recalling. More than this it was
unseemly that I should hear.

The figure of the old man, as he stood before me then, is one of those
images that cannot be effaced. His voice was broken, his lips were
parted and quivering, his form rigid but unsteady, and the furrows on
his brow ran into and crossed one another like the lines on a tragic
mask. He was about to proceed, and I to protest against his doing so,
when an incident occurred which relieved the tension and gave a new turn
to the course of events.

Mrs. Perryman, who had left the room when the farmer resumed the history
of the Tall Hat, though not to go beyond the reach of hearing, now
emerged from the shadows and said in a quiet voice, "Sam, stop talking a
minute, and attend to business. Snarley Bob's at the back door, and
wants to know if you're going to keep him waiting all night. He come for
his wages at five o'clock, and it's struck six some time ago."

"Give him a mug o' ale, and tell him to go home," said Sam.

"I've given him two mugs already, and he says he must see you afore he

"Wait where you are," said Mr. Perryman to me, "and I'll be back in half
a shake."

The Perrymans withdrew together, leaving me alone. I listened to the
voices in the next room and could distinguish those of the farmer and
his wife, urgent but subdued. I could not hear the voice of Snarley Bob.
Then I drew conclusions, and searched in the recesses of my memory for a
forgotten clue. Gazing into the fire, I saw three separate strands of
smoke roll themselves into a single column, and rush upwards into the
darkness of the chimney. The thing acted as a stimulus to recollection,
for it spoke of three human lives flowing onwards to the Unknown in a
single stream of destiny: Mrs. Abel, Farmer Perryman, Snarley Bob--and
further articulations would have followed had not the re-entry of the
Perrymans disturbed the process and plunged it back beneath the
threshold of consciousness. The farmer's wife sat down between us, in
front of the fire.

"I want to hear him finish the story of the Tall Hat," she said. "With
me by he's less likely to put the frilling on."

"Let's see--where was I?" said Perryman.

"You'd come to the place where you met the parson and his lady in the
churchyard," I said.

"Ha, so I had," replied the farmer. "I can see her at this very minute
just as she was. She looked----"

"Never mind what she _looked_ like: tell us what she _said_,"
interrupted Mrs. Perryman.

"She says, 'Good-morning, Mr. Perryman. How much?'--looking 'ard at my
'at all the time. I guessed she was up to some devilry, so I thought I
would put her wrong a bit. 'A guinea, ma'am,' says I. She looks at my
'at again and says, 'Mr. Perryman, you've been took in. Twelve-and-six
would have been more than enough for that 'at.' 'Oh,' says I to myself,
'you've been nosing round already, 'ave you?' I suppose I must have
looked a bit foolish like--I'm sure I felt it,--but she didn't give me
no time to speak. 'Wouldn't you like to have that guinea back in your
pocket?' says she, putting a funny sound on the 'guinea.' 'Yes,' I says;
'and, what's more, I mean to get it back.' 'Oh indeed,' says she, and a
look come into her face as though she was putting two and two together.
After a bit she says, 'Mr. Perryman, was that your trap that drove by
about half-past seven last night?' 'Yes,' I says; and I might have known
from that minute she was going to do a down on me.

"However, I'd made up my mind how I was goin' to get that money back,
and I wasn't goin' to change for nobody. You must understand there's a
weekly offertory in our church. There was a lot of objection when Parson
started it years ago. But, you see, he's always been a bit 'Igh." ("Much
too High for me," here interposed Mrs. Perryman.) "Yes, I've warned him
about it several times. 'Mr. Abel,' I says to him, 'you're 'Igh enough
already. Now, you take my advice, and don't you get no 'Igher.' That was
when he started the offertory.

"Well, I'm the sort of man that when I gives, I gives. Ever since the
offertory was begun my missis puts a two-shillin' piece into the
waistcoat-pocket of my Sunday suit--don't you, Sally?" (Sally
nodded)--"regular every Monday morning when she brushes my clothes, so
there's no doubt about its being there when Sunday comes. That's for

"And now you can understand my plan. I'd made up to give one shillin'
instead o' two, Sunday by Sunday, till I'd paid for my new box-hat.
That's how I was goin' to get even with the Church.

"I kep' it up regular for twelve weeks, counting 'em off one by one. I
didn't bother about the sixpence. Meanwhile two or three other farmers,
not wanting to be put in the shade by me--or more likely it was their
missises--had begun to wear box-hats o' Sunday. There was Tom Henderson,
who's no more fit to wear a box-hat than his bull is; and there was old
Charley Shott--know him?--a man with a wonderful appetite for pig-meat
is old Charley Shott. It would ha' made you die o' laughin' to see old
Charley come shufflin' up the church just like this" (here the farmer
executed an imitative _pas seul_), "sit down in his seat, and say his
prayers into his box-hat same as I'm doing now." (He took Tall Hat the
Second from the table, and poured--or rather puffed--an imaginary
petition into its interior.)

"Now, listen to what happened next. The very day after I'd put the last
shillin' into the plate--that was three months, you must remember, after
I'd bought the 'at--up comes a note from the cook at the Rectory, saying
as the weekly order for butter was to be reduced from six pounds to
five. 'I suppose it's because Master Norman's goin' to boarding school,'
I says to the missis. 'Not it,' says she, 'one mouth more or less don't
make no difference in a big household like that. Besides, they're not
the people to cut it fine.' 'I wonder what it means,' I says. But I
hadn't long to wait. About a fortnight later I met old Charley Shott and
says to him, jokin' like, 'Well, Charley, how much did you pay for your
Sunday box-hat?' 'Cost me nothing,' said Charley laughin'. 'I've run up
a little bill against his Reverence for that 'at. And, what's more, I've
made him pay it! By the way,' says he, 'what's become o' their appetites
down at the Rectory? We've just received warnin' as no more poultry'll
be wanted till further orders.' 'I don't know,' says I; but it was a
lie, for it come over me in a flash what it all meant. Even then,
however, I wasn't _quite_ sure.

"However, it was twenty-one weeks before I got the final clearing-up.
Thirty-three weeks to the very day, reckoning from the Saturday which I
bought the 'at, comes another message from the Rectory: 'Please send six
pounds of butter as before.'

"Next day I went to church as usual. No sooner did Mr. Abel give out his
text than I saw it all, plain as daylight. The text was something about
'robbery of God.' There was not a thing I've told you about the 'at that
was not put into that sermon. Of course, it was roundabout--all about
pearls and precious stones and such like; but it was my box-hat he was
driving at all the time. It was Solomon mostly as he talked about; but I
nearly jumped out of my seat when he made Solomon shake his fist at the
'Oly Temple on Mount Zion and say almost the very words as I said as I
drove by the church that Saturday night. First he went for me, and then
he went for Charley Shott, and I can tell you that he twisted the tails
of both on us to a pretty tune! Says I to myself, 'Don't I know who's
put you up to preaching that sermon?' And more than seven months gone
since it happened! Think of that for a memory! And she sitting in her
pew with a face as smooth as a dish o' cream.

"Well, I was churchwarden that year, and of course had to take the plate
round. When I comes to the Rector's pew I see Mrs. Abel openin' a little
purse. First she takes out a sovereign, and then a shilling, and says to
me, quite clear, as she dropped 'em into the plate, 'All right, Mr.
Church, I'll be even with you yet! And here's another two pounds
fifteen. You can tell Charley Shott and Tom Henderson, and all the lot
on 'em, as they've paid for their Sunday 'ats. And give 'em all my kind
regards.' Then she counts the money out as deliberate as if she were
payin' the cook's wages, and drops it into the plate wi' a clatter as
could be heard all over the church. She must ha' kep' me waitin' full
two minutes, all the congregation starin' and wonderin' what was up, and
me lookin' like a silly calf.

"When I come out of church my wife says to me, 'Sam, what's that you and
Mrs. Abel was whispering about?' 'You mind your own business,' I says,
and for the first time since we were married we was very near coming to


It was Sunday evening, and the congregation had dispersed. I was
making my way into the church to take a last look at a famous
fourteenth-century tomb. Not a soul was visible; but the sound of a pick
and the sight of fresh earth announced that the sexton was at work
digging a grave. I walked to the spot. A bald head, the shining top of
which was now level with the surface of the ground, raised the hope that
he would prove to be a sexton of the old school. I was not disappointed.

"Good evening," I said.

"A good evening to you, sir," said the sexton, pausing in his work with
the air of a man who welcomed an excuse to rest.

"And whose grave is that you're digging?" I asked.

"Old Sally Bloxham--mother to Tom Bloxham--him as keeps the 'Spotted
Pig.' And a bad job for him as she's gone. If it hadn't been for old
Sally he'd ha' drunk hisself to death long ago. And who may _you_ be?"
he asked, as though realising that this sudden burst of confidential
information was somewhat rash.

"Oh, I'm nobody in particular. Just passing through and taking a look

"Ah! there's lots as comes lookin' round, nowadays. More than there used
to be. Why, bless your life, I remember the time when you nivver seed a
soul in this village except the home-dwellers. And now there's bicycles
and motor cars almost every day. Most on 'em just pokes their noses
round, and then off they goes. Some wants to see the tomb inside, and
then there's a big stone over an old doorway at the back o' the church,
what they calls ''Arrowing o' 'Ell,' though _I_ don't know what it
means. You've 'eard on it? Well, I suppose it's something wonderful; but
_I_ could nivver see no 'Arrow and no 'Ell."

"I'll tell you what, sexton," I said, noticing some obviously human
bones in the earth at his graveside, "this churchyard needs a bit of new

"Ye're right there," said he, "it's needed that a good many years. But
we can't get no new ground. Old Bob Cromwell as owns the lands on that
side won't sell, and Lord ---- won't give, so wot are yer to do? Why, I
do believe as there's hundreds and thousands of people buried in this
little churchyard. It's a big parish, too, and they've been burying
their dead here since nobody knows when. Bones? Why, in some parts
there's almost as much bones as there is clay. Yer puts in one, and yer
digs up two: that's about what it comes to. I sometimes says to my
missis, 'I wonder who they'll dig up to make room for me.' 'Yes,' she
says, 'and I wonder who you'll be dug up to make room for.' It's
scandalous, that's what I says."

"But does the law allow you to disturb these old graves?"

"It does when they're old _enough_. But you can't be over particular in
a place no bigger than this. Of course, we're a bit careful like. But
ask no questions, and I'll tell yer no lies."

"But this grave you're digging now; how long is it since the last
interment was made in the same ground?"

"Well, that's a pretty straight 'un. That's what I call coming to the
point!--Thank 'ee, sir--and good luck to you and yours!--However, since
you seem a plain-dealing gentleman I'll tell you summat as I wouldn't
tell everybody. You poke your stick about in that soil over there, and
you'll find some bits as belonged to Sam Wiggin's grandfather on his
mother's side." (I poked my stick as directed.) "That's his tooth you've
got now; but I won't swear to it, as things had got a bit mixed, no
doubt, afore they put him in. Wait a bit, though. What's under that big
lump at the end o' my spade?" (He reached out his spade and touched a
clod; I turned it over and revealed the thing it hid: he examined it
carefully.) "You see, you can generally tell after a bit o' practice
what belongs to what. Putting two and two together--what with them bones
coming up so regular, and that bit o' coffin furniture right on the top
on 'em--I reckon we've struck 'im much as he was put down in '62."

"Are none of his relatives living?" I asked.

"Why, yes, of course they're living. Didn't I tell yer he was
grandfather to Sam Wiggin--that's 'im as farms the Leasowes at t'other
end of the village. What'll he say?--why, nothing o' course. Them as
sees nothing, says nothing."

"But," I said, "if Sam comes to church next Sunday he'll see his
grandfather's bones sticking out all over this grave."

"'Ow's 'e to know they're his grandfather's? There's no name on 'em,"
said the sexton.

"But surely he will remember that his grandfather was buried in this

"Not 'im! 'E don't bother 'is 'ead about grandfathers. Sam Wiggin!
Doesn't know 'e ever had a grandfather. Somebody else might take it up?
Not in this parish. Besides, we've all got used to it. Folks here is all
mixed up wi' one another while they're living, so they don't mind
gettin' a bit mixeder when they're dead."

"But is the parson used to it along with the rest of you?"

"Well, yer see, I allus clears up before he comes to bury--ribs and
shins and big 'un's as won't break up. Skulls breaks up easy; you just
catches them a snope with yer spade, and they splits up down the
joinin'. Week afore last I dug up two beauties under that yew; anybody
might a' kep' 'em for a museum. I've knowed them as would ha' done it,
and sold 'em for eighteenpence apiece. But I couldn't bring my mind to

"So you just broke them up, I suppose?"

"No, I didn't. One on 'em belonged to a man as I once knowed; leastways
I remember him as a young chap. He was underkeeper at the Hall. The
young woman he wanted to marry wouldn't 'ave 'im, so he shot hisself wi'
a rook gun. I knowed it was 'im by the 'ole in 'is 'ead, no bigger nor a
pea. Just think o' that! No bigger nor a big pea, I tell yer, and as
round as if it had been done wi' a punch. I told my missis about it when
I went 'ome to my tea. I says, 'Do yer remember 'Arry Pole, the young
keeper in the old lord's time, what shot hisself over that affair wi'
Polly Towers?' 'Remember 'im?' she says. 'Why, I used to go out walking
wi' 'im myself afore he took up wi' Polly.' 'I thought you did,' I says;
'well, there's 'is skull. See that little 'ole in it, clean as if it had
been cut wi' a punch? He never shot hisself, not 'e!' Why, bless yer
heart, doesn't it stand to sense that if 'e'd done it 'isself, he'd
a'most ha' blowed 'is 'ead off, leastways made a 'ole a lot bigger nor
that? And wot's more, there'd ha' been a 'ole on the other side, and
there wasn't any sign o' one."

"But perhaps it wasn't 'Arry Pole's skull?"

"Yes, it was. Why, where's the sense of its not bein'? I remember his
bein' buried as if it was yesterday, and I knowed the spot quite well.
And do you think it likely that two men 'ud be put in the same grave
both wi' rook bullets in their 'eads? If it wasn't 'Arry Pole, who was

"But wasn't all this gone into at the inquest?"

"Well, you see, it's over forty years since it 'appened; but I can
remember as the 'ole were looked into, and there was a good deal o' talk
at the time. There was two men as said they seed him wi' the gun in his
hand, and a mournful look on his face, like. And so, what wi' one thing
and another, when they couldn't find who else had killed him, they give
the verdict as he must ha' killed hisself. So, you see, they made it out
some'ow. But you'll never make me believe 'e did it 'isself--not after
I've seen that 'ole."

"I wonder who shot him," I said meditatively.

"Yes, and you'll 'ave to go on wondering till the Judgment Day. You'll
find out then. All I can tell yer is that it wasn't me, and it wasn't
Polly Towers. However, when I found his skull I didn't break it as I do
wi' most on 'em. I just kep' it in a bag and put it back when I filled
in the grave.

"But you were askin' me about Parson. Well, I telled him the state o'
the churchyard when he come to the living. At first he took it pretty
easy. 'Hide 'em as far as you can, Johnny,' he says to me. 'And remember
there's this great consolation--they'll all be sorted out on the
Judgment Day.'

"But one day something 'appened as give Parson a pretty start. It was
one of these chaps in motors, I reckon, as did it. I see him one
Saturday night rootin' about the churchyard and lookin' behind them
laurels where I used to pitch all the bits and bobs of bone as I see
lying about. I've often wished I'd took the number on his motor, and
then we'd ha' catched him fine! But he was a gentlemanly-looking young
feller, and I didn't suspect nothing at the time.

"Well, next morning, when Parson comes to read the Service, what do you
think he found? Why, there was a man's thigh-bone, large as life, stuck
in the middle of the big Prayer-Book at the Psalms for the day. Then,
when he opens the Bible to read the lessons, blessed if there wasn't a
coffin-plate, worn as thin as a sheet of paper, marking the place, Then
he goes into the pulpit, and the first thing he sees was a jawbone full
of teeth lyin' on the cushion; there was ribs in the book-rack; there
was a tooth in his glass of water; there was bones everywhere--you never
see such a sight in all yer life! The young man must ha' taken a
basketful into the church. Some he put into the pews, some into the
collectin' boxes, some under the cushions--you never knew where you were
going to find 'em next!"

"That was a blackguardly thing to do," I said. "The man who did it
deserves the cat."

"So he does," said Johnny. "But I can tell yer, it's made us more
partikler ever since. Everything behind them laurel bushes was cleared
out and buried next day, and, my eye, you wouldn't believe what a lot
there was! Barrer-loads!

"I'm told that when Lord ----, up at the Hall, heard on it, he nearly
killed hisself wi' laughin'. There's some folks"--here Johnny lowered
his voice--"there's some folks _as thinks that his lordship 'ad a 'and
in it hisself_. Some says it was one of them wild chaps as 'e's allus
got staying with him. That's more likely, in my opinion. But it wouldn't
surprise me, just between you and me, to hear some day that his lordship
was going to give us a bit o' new ground."


One of the chief actors in the incident about to be related was a
machine, and it is important that the reader should have this machine in
his mind's eye. It was a motor-bicycle, furnished in the midst with a
sputtering little engine, said to contain in its entrails the power of
three horses and a half. To the side thereof was attached a small
vehicle like a bath-chair, in which favoured friends of the writer are
from time to time either permitted or invited to ride.

On this occasion the bath-chair was empty, and a long journey was
drawing to a close. It is true that at various periods of the day I had
enjoyed the company of a passenger in this humble but lively little
carriage. The first had been a clergyman, who, I believe, had invented a
distant engagement for the sole purpose of inducing me to give him a
ride in my car. To him there had succeeded a series of small boys,
picked up in various villages, each of whom, at the conclusion of a
brief but mad career through space, was duly dismissed with a penny and
a strict injunction to be a good lad to his mother. The last lift had
been given to an aged wayfarer whose weary and travel-stained appearance
had excited my compassion. No sooner, however, was the machine under
weigh than I discovered, in spite of my will to believe otherwise, that
my passenger was suffering not from fatigue, but from intoxication. To
get rid of him was no easy matter, and the employment of stratagem
became necessary. What the stratagem was, I shall pass over; I will only
say that it was not in accordance with any _recognised_ form of the
categorical imperative. However, the ruse succeeded, and now, as I have
said, the car was empty. Thus were concluded the prolegomena to that
great act of altruism which was to crown the day.

It was in a part of the country consecrated by the genius of a great
novelist (as what part of England is not?) that these things took place.
I found myself in the narrow streets of an ancient town--and it was
market-day. The roadway was thronged with red-faced men and women; and
flocks of sheep, herds of cattle and pigs, provided the motor-cyclist
with a severe probation to the nerves. With much risk to myself, and not
a little to other people, I emerged from this place of danger and
joyfully swept over the bridge into the broad highway beyond the town.

Turning a corner, I became suddenly aware that the road a hundred yards
ahead was again blocked. Two carriers' carts, a brewer's waggon, and
some other miscellaneous vehicles were drawn up anyhow in the road, and
the drivers of these, having descended from their various perches, were
gathered around a figure lying prostrate on the ground. I, too, alighted
and forced my way into the group. In the midst was an old man, his
countenance pallid as death, save where a broad stream of blood pouring
from a gash two inches long, crimsoned his cheek from eye to chin. There
was a great bruise on his temple, and again on the back of his head--for
he had spun round in falling--was a lump the size of a pullet's first

"'Oss ran away and pitched him on the curb," said one whom I questioned.
"He's dying," said another, "if not already dead." For myself, I turned
sick at the sight; nevertheless, I could not help being struck by the
vigorous actions and attitude of an old woman, who, armed with a bucket
of water and a roller towel, seemed to be not merely bathing his wounds,
but giving the whole man a bath. I also noted the figure of a clergyman,
of whom all that I distinctly recall is that he had a tassel round his

"We must take him to the hospital," said I. "No," said an elderly man;
"he'll be dead before you get him there. He's nearly gone already.
Better fetch a doctor."

"Has anybody got a bicycle?" said the clergyman in the slightly
imperious accents of Keble College. "Yes," I replied, "I've got one, and
just the sort of bicycle for this business, too." "You'd better fetch
Ross," said the same voice, speaking once more in the tones which
indicate conscious possession of the Last Word on Everything Whatsoever.
"No," said the old woman, with enough defiance in her manner to frighten
a Pope, "No, Ross's no good. Fetch Conklin." "All right," I said; "if
one of you will show me where Conklin lives, I'll fetch him in a brace
of shakes."

Instantly the whole company, saving only the parson and the old woman,
volunteered. Selecting one who seemed of lighter weight than the rest
(he was a boy), I jumped up, called to my three horses, yoked up the
half-horse (kept in reserve for great occasions), and, letting all loose
at once, drove at top speed in the direction of Conklin's abode.

Then was seen in the streets of that old town such a scurrying and
scattering, both of men and beast, as the world has not beheld since the
most desperate moments of John Gilpin's ride. Back over the bridge,
where Cavaliers and Roundheads once stood at push of pike for fifty
minutes by "the towne clocke"; through the market-place, where the
cheap-jack ceased lying that he might regard us; past the policeman at
the Cross (slower at this point); up the steep gradient of the High
Street; right through a flock of geese (illustrious bird! who not only
warnest great cities of impending ruin, but keepest thyself out of
harm's way better than any four-footed beast of the field), we drove our
headlong course; and, in less time than this paragraph has taken to
write I stood on the doorstep, of the doctor's house. In another minute
I had seen him and told my tale.

The doctor received my gushings with perfect impassivity, and responded
with the merest apology for a grunt. But the repeated allusion to
flowing blood seemed at last to rouse him. He seized a black bag that
stood on the table, thrust in the necessary tackle, and said, "Come

In the race back to the Field of Blood, I had no leisure to analyse the
structure of Conklin's mind. But a few remarks which he shouted in my
ear revealed the fact that his interests were by no means confined to
the performance of professional duty. I could not help wondering what
Ross was like. If any reader should be taken suddenly ill while staying
in that town, my advice, formed mainly on negative data, would be to
send for Ross during the acute stage of the malady, and to try Conklin's
treatment in convalescence. Or, better still, call them both in at once,
and then take your choice.

These mental observations were scarcely completed when a turn in the
road brought us in sight of our goal. Will the reader believe me when I
tell him that the goal seemed to have vanished? I could scarcely believe
it myself. Not a soul was to be seen. Stare as I would, no human form,
living or dead, prostrate or upright, wounded or whole, answered to my
gaze. Men, horses, and carts--all were gone! The whole insubstantial
pageant had faded, leaving not a wrack behind.

"This is the place," I said to Conklin; "but the man has disappeared."
For answer, he looked fixedly into the pupil of my left eye, expecting,
no doubt, to find there unmistakable signs of lunacy. "Wait a bit," I
cried, divining his thoughts; "here's somebody who will clear it up."
And I pointed to a cottage-door at which I suddenly espied the old woman
whose handling of the roller-towel had so impressed me. "Where," I
shouted, addressing her, "where is the wounded man?" "Took away," was
the laconic reply. "Took away!" I said; "and who has had the impudence
to take him away?"

"Why," said the old woman, "you hadn't been gone more'n two minutes when
his niece--her as keeps his house--comes driving home in a big cart.
'Hello!' she says, 'blest if that isn't Uncle Fred!' 'Yes,' says one of
'em, 'and got it pretty badly this time, I can tell yer. There's a
gentleman just gone to fetch Conklin.' 'Conklin?' says she. 'I'll
Conklin 'im! Who do you think's going to pay 'im? Not _me_! Let 'im as
fetches 'im pay 'im. 'Ere,' she says, 'some of yer help to put this old
man on the bottom of my cart, and look sharp, or Conklin'll be here in a
minute.' So they shoves the poor old thing on to the floor of the cart
with a sack of 'taters to keep him steady, and Eliza--that's her
name--'its the 'oss with a long stick as she carried instead of a whip,
sets off at full gallop, and was out of sight almost before you could
say so. Somebody else took the old man's pony, and the rest of 'em all
made off as fast as they could."

"And what did that clergyman do?" I asked.

"Jumped on his bicycle and went 'ome to his tea," said the old woman.

"The sneak!" I cried.

"You couldn't ha' used a better word," said the old woman, "and there's
plenty of people in this parish who'd be glad to hear you say it. And
the worst of it is, there's plenty more like him!" This last was shouted
with great emphasis, perhaps with a view to Conklin's edification, but
at all events with the air of a person who could produce supporting
evidence were such to be demanded.

There was a pause, and I endeavoured to collect my thoughts. "Doctor," I
said, making a desperate attempt to get as near the Good Samaritan as
these untoward developments rendered possible, "Doctor, what's your

"The expression on your face is the best fee I've had for a long time,"
said the doctor; "I'm sorry I didn't bring my kodak."

"Doctor Conklin," I resumed, "I'll tell you one thing. You and this old
lady are the only members of the company who carry away an untarnished
reputation from this episode. As for me, I have been made a perfect fool
of. As for the rest of them,"--I waited for words to come, and, finally
lapsing into melodrama, said--"as for the rest of them, I leave them to
the company of their own consciences."

"There's one of 'em as hasn't got any," said the old woman.


The scene was the top of a lofty hill in Northamptonshire, crossed by
the high road to London. The time, late afternoon of a dark and
thunderous day in July.

I had journeyed many miles that day--on wheels, according to the fashion
of this age--and had passed and overtaken hundreds, literally hundreds,
of tramps. With some of these I had already conversed as we sheltered
from recurrent storms under hedges or wayside trees; and I had
committed, with a joyful conscience, all the vices of indiscriminate

But now the rain came on in earnest. Blacker and blacker grew the skies,
and, just as I reached the top of this shelterless hill, the windows of
heaven were opened, and the flood burst.

No house was in sight. But, looking round me, in that spirit of despair
bred of black weather and a wet skin, I saw, in a large bare field, a
shepherd's box--a thing on wheels, large enough, perhaps, to accommodate
a prosperous vendor of ice-cream. Abandoning my iron friend to the cold
mercies of the ditch, I scaled the wall, crossed the field, and dived
into the dry interior of the box. At one bound I entered into full
possession of the freedom of Diogenes in his tub, with no Alexander to
bother me. The absolute seclusion of the country was all my own.

The box was closed by a half-door, with an aperture above facing towards
the road. Had the animal inside possessed four legs instead of two, his
body would have filled the box, and his head would have projected into
the rain. Though my head was inside, I could see well enough what was
going on in the road. Presently there passed two cyclists--a young man
and woman--racing through the storm. I shouted to them, but my voice was
drowned in the din. Some minutes elapsed, during which I had the company
of my thoughts. Then suddenly there appeared on the wall the incarnate
figures of two tramps, unquestionably such. They had seen the box, and
were making tracks for it with all their might.

I confess that for a moment my spirit quailed within me. Seen at that
distance, the newcomers looked ugly customers; they had me in a trap,
and, had I possessed pistols, I verily believe that I should have
"looked to the priming." But, having no alternatives of that kind before
me, necessity determined the policy I was to pursue, and I resolved at
once for a friendly attitude. Waiting till the tramps were well within
hearing, I thrust my head from the aforesaid aperture and cried aloud as

"Walk up, gentlemen! It's my annual free day. No charge for seats."

Macbeth and Banquo were not more affrighted by the apparition of witches
on the blasted heath than were these two individuals when they heard the
voice from the box, and saw the face of him that spake. They stopped
dead, stared, and, though I won't give this on oath, turned pale. I
believe they were genuinely scared.

Presently one of them--say Macbeth--broke into a loud and merry laugh.
The sound of it was worth more to me at that moment than a sheaf of
testimonials, for I remembered Carlyle's dictum that there is nothing
irremediably wrong with any man who can utter a hearty laugh.

"All right, guvnor," came the reply, "we'll take two stalls in the front

"Good!" I replied. "Wire just received from the Prince and Princess of
Wales resigning their seats! Bring your own opera-glasses, and don't
forget the fans."

"Got 'em both," said Macbeth.

A moment later I found myself in close physical proximity to two of the
dirtiest rascals in Christendom. A reconciler of opposites, bent on
knocking our heads together, would have had an easy task, for there was
not more than eight inches between them. Misfortunes are said to bring
out the fragrance of noble natures, and I can testify that the wetting
these men had received most effectually brought out the fragrance of
theirs. And the ventilation was none too good.

The language in which the newcomers proceeded to introduce themselves
was not of the kind usually printed, though it had a distinctly
theological tinge. More strenuous blasphemy I have never heard on
land--or sea.

The introductions concluded--they were sufficient--Macbeth, as though
suddenly recollecting an interrupted train of thought, broke out: "Say,
mister, did yer see them two go by on bicycles just now?"


"Well, I see 'em, quarter of a mile oop the road, crouching oonder
t'hedge"--he spoke Yorkshire[4]--"wet to skin, and she nowt on but a
cotton blouse. So I sez to her, 'My dear, ye'll get yer death o' cold,'
'Yes,' she says, 'and me with a weak chest.' Pore young thing, I'm fair
sorry for her. I towd t'young man to tek his co-at off and put it
ra-ownd her. 'That'll do no good,' he sez; 'she's wet through a'ready.'
'Well,' I sez, 'she's not been wet through all her life, has she? Why
didn't you put it on her while she were dry? Sense? You've got no more
sense nor a blind rabbit.' But it was no good. My! What rain! Nivver see
nothing like it. They'll be fair drownded. I think I'll go and fetch 'em
in. Holy potatoes!" (Will anyone explain this expression? It was evoked
by a crash of thunder which burst immediately above the box and seemed
to hurl us into space.)

[Footnote 4: The reader who would get the full flavour of Macbeth's
conversation should translate it, if he can, into a broad Yorkshire
dialect. This I have indicated here and there by the spelling of a word,
which is as far as, or perhaps farther than, my own competence extends.]

"No good fetching 'em in now," I replied, taking a point of view which I
afterwards saw to have been that of the Priest and the Levite. "They'd
suffer more damage getting here than staying where they are. Besides,
where would you put 'em?"

"That's trew," said Macbeth. "This ain't no place for ladies, anyhow."
(It wasn't!) "But just think of that pore young thing--nowt on, I tell
yer, but a cotton blouse. Hello! there's a cart coming. I'll tell t'man
to tek 'em oop."

Out jumped Macbeth into the pelting rain, and presently I heard him
shouting to the man in charge: "Hey, mister! There's a young man and
woman crouching under t'hedge oop t'ro-ad. She nowt on but a cotton
blouse! It isn't sa-afe, yer know, in this thoonder and lightnin'. Tek
her oop, and put a sack or two on her."

I gathered the result of the interview was satisfactory to Macbeth, for
presently he came back, steaming, into the box. For some minutes he
continued to mutter with the thunder, about "poor young things," "cotton
blouses," and "weak chests."

But the altruistic passion in the man had spent itself for the moment,
and now the conversation began to take other forms. Banquo began to
enter into the dialogue. His contributions so far had been mainly
interjectory and blasphemous--a department of which he was obviously a
more versatile exponent than the other, who was by no means a 'prentice
hand. And here I must note a curious thing. Whether it was that the box
afforded no proper theatre for exhibiting the natural dignity of my
carriage, or that the light was not good, or that I am a ruffian at
heart and had been caught at an unguarded moment--whatever the true
cause may have been, I am certain that up to this moment my two
companions had no suspicion that I was not a tramp like themselves.

It was Banquo who unmasked the truth. His mind was less preoccupied with
the sufferings of the "poor young thing," and no doubt had been taking
observations. The result of these he proceeded to communicate to Macbeth
by a series of nudges and winks which, in the close proximity of the
moment, I felt rather than saw. On the whole, I am sorry that their
first delusion--if, indeed, it was a delusion, of which I am genuinely
doubtful--was not maintained. However, the discovery opened the way to
fresh developments. They ceased to address me as "Johnny," "Old Joker,"
or something worse; ceased swearing, for which, lover of originality as
I am, I was thankful; and began generally to pay me the respect due to
the fact that the soles of my boots were intact. Theirs were in a very
different condition.

I can't disguise that there was something like an awkward pause. But I
exerted myself to bridge the chasm, and, thanks to them rather than to
me, it was bridged.

"Where are you going to-night?" I asked as soon as the _modus vivendi_
was assured.

"Ain't going nowhere in particular," said Banquo. "We just go anywhere."

"What!" I said, "don't you know where you'll pass the night?"

"Well, it's just this way," returned the other. "Me and my mate here are
musicians, and we just go this way and that according to where the
publics are. It's in the publics we makes what living we gets--singing
in the bars and cadging for drink and coppers."

"And a bloomin' shame we should have to do it!" chimed in Macbeth. "But
what can yer do? My trade's a mason; Leeds is where I come from; but
when they're short of work, if you've got _two_ grey hairs and another
chap's got only _one_, you gets the sack, and has to live as best yer

"God knows I don't want this beastly life. But it's a good thing I've
got it to turn to. Most on 'em has nowt but their trades, and them's the
ones as has to starve. But me and my mate here happens to be moosical.
Used to sing in St. ---- Church in Leeds. Leading bass, I was--a bit
irregular, I'll own, and that's why they wouldn't keep me on. My mate
plays the cornet. He used to be in the band of the ---- Fusiliers.
Served in South Africa, he did, and got a sock in the face from a shell;
yer can see the 'ole under his eye. Good thing it didn't 'it him in the
ma-outh, or he wouldn't ha' been able to play the cornet any more. Know
Yorkshire, mister?"

I replied that I did.

"Well, if yer knows Yorkshire, yer knows there's plenty of music up
there. They can tell music, when they hear it, in Yorkshire, _that_ they
can! But these caownties down here, why, the people knows no more about
music nor pigs. They can't tell the difference between a man what really
_can_ sing and one of these 'ere 'owlin' 'umbugs that goes draggin'
little children up and daown t' streets. That sort makes more money than
we does. And I tell you, him 'ere"--indicating Banquo--"is a good cornet
player. 'Ere, Banquo, fetch it out o' your pocket, lad, and play the
gentleman a toon."

As far as I could judge, Banquo's pocket was situated somewhere in the
middle of his back, for it was from a region in that quarter, where I
had already felt a hard excrescence, due as I might have thought to an
unextracted cannon-ball received in South Africa, that the cornet was

"Play the gentleman 'The Merry Widder,'" said Macbeth, "and wait till
the thunder's stopped rolling before you begin."

The "Merry Widder" was well and duly played, and fully bore out
Macbeth's eulogy of the player. It was followed by something from
_Maritana_, and other things which I forget. Though the mouth of the
trumpet was only a few inches from the drum of my ear, yet the din of
the rain on the roof was such that the effect was not unpleasant--at all
events, it was a welcome relief from the frightful strains on the
olfactory organ. The man, I say, was a good player, and I remember
wishing, as I listened to him, that there was anything in life that I
could do half as well.

As he finished one of his selections, the gloom deepened, it became
almost as dark as night, the rain ceased for a moment, and there was
silence; and then there shot in upon us a blast of fire and a bolt of
thunder, so near and so overwhelming that I verily believe it was a
narrow escape from death.

"That's something to put the fear of God into a man," said Macbeth, as
the volley rolled into distance. "My crikey! But I've heard say, mister,
that the thunder is the voice of the wrath of God."

"I'm sure it is," I replied.

"Sounds like it anyhow. I wonder if that there chap with the cart has
got the young woman under cover. She'll be scared out of her life. Eh,
but isn't it dark? It might be half-past ten. Here, matey"--to
Banquo--"let's have something in keepin' loike. Give us 'Lead, Kindly
Light,' lad, on t' cornet, and I'll sing the bass. I want t' gentleman
to hear my voice."

The hymn was sung in a voice as good as some that have made great
fortunes, but with a depth of emotion which occasionally spoilt the
notes; and I can say little more than that the singing, in that strange
setting, with muttering thunder for an undertone, was a thing I shall
not forget.

"Do you know anything about that hymn?" said Macbeth (the tears made
watercourses down his dirty face) when it was over.

"Yes," I said, "a little."

"But I know _all_ about it," replied Macbeth. "Him as wrote that hymn
was Cardinal Newman. They say he wrote it at sea, maybe he wrote it in a
storm--like this. He was a Protestant, and was just turning into a
Catholic. Didn't know whether he would or whether he wouldn't, loike.
That's what he means when he says, 'Lead, Kindly Light.' He was i' th'
dark, and wanted lightin'. It was _all_ dark, don't you see, just loike
it is naow."

Some minutes elapsed, during which neither Banquo nor I said a word. I
stole a glance at the "'ole under his eye," and saw that it was no
laughing matter to "get a sock in the face from a shell." The human
profile, on that side, had virtually disappeared; jaw and cheek-bone
were smashed in; there was neither nostril nor ear; the lower eyelid was
missing; the eye itself was evidently sightless, and a constant trickle
of tears ran down into the hideous scar below.

I thought of this man wandering over the earth, abhorred of all
beholders; I thought of the music he managed to make with the remnant of
his mutilated face; I thought also of the rigour of Destiny and the
kindliness of Death. I remember the words running in my head, "He hath
no form nor comeliness. Yet he was wounded for our transgressions, and
the chastisement of our peace was upon him."

I averted my glance, but not before Banquo had discovered that I was
looking at him. "Ha," he said; "you're lookin' at my face. It's a
beauty, isn't it? They ought to put it on the board outside the
recruitin' stations, as a sort of inducement to good-lookin' young men.
Help to make the Army popular wi' the young women, don't you see?
'George, why don't you join the Army and get a face like that? You'd be
worth lookin' at then.' Can't you hear 'em saying it? Oh, yes, I'm proud
o' my face, _that_ I am! So's my old gal. That's why she left me and the
kids the day I come home--never seen her since. Every time I draws my
pension I says to myself, 'Bill, my lad, that face o' yours is cheap at
the price. Keep up your pecker, my hearty; you'll make yer fortune when
Mr. Barnum sees yer! It's a bloomin' good investment, that's what I
calls it. Give yer a sort o' start in life. Makes folks glad to see yer
when you drops in to tea. And then I'm always feelin' as though I wanted
to have my photograph taken--and that's nice, too. So you see takin' it
all round, it's quite a blessin' to have a face like mine."

I was silent, not knowing what to say. Banquo went on:

"I thought when I come out o' the 'orspital as it were all up wi'
playin' the cornet. But I made up my mind as I'd try. So I kep' up
practice all the way home from the Cape, and when we got to Southampton
I could just manage to blow into the mouthpiece. It hurt a bit, too, I
can tell you. You see, I can only play on one side o' my mouth--like
this. But I got used to it after a time; and now I can play a'most as
well wi' half a mouth as I used to do wi' a whole un."

Again I was silent, for there was a tangle of thoughts in my mind, and
behind it all a vague, uncomfortable sense that I was come to judgment.
From this sprang a sudden resolve to change the subject, which was
unpleasant to me in more senses than one. So I said, after the pause,
"What about your pension?"

"Pension, did you say? Well, you see, sir, I've been in a bit o' trouble
since I come home. There was a kind old gent as give me three months in
the choke-hole for not behavin' quite as handsome as I ought to. 'It'll
spile all my good looks, your Worship,' I says when he sentenced me.
'Remove the prisoner, officer!' he says; and I thinks to myself, 'I'd
like to remove _you_, old gentleman, and see what you'd look like on a
hammynition waggon, wi' two dead pals under your nose, and a pom-pom
shell a-burstin' in your ear-'ole.' But I've had one good friend,
anyhow; and I don't want a better--and that's him there" (indicating
Macbeth). "He's a _man_, he is! I can tell you one thing!--if it hadn't
been for him there, I'd ha' sent the other half o' my head to look for
the first long ago--and that's the truth!"

While this conversation was proceeding Macbeth, _more suo_, continued to
mutter like a man in a troubled dream, now humming a bar of the tune,
now drawling out a phrase from the words, "O'er moor and fen, o'er crag
and torrent, till the night is gone"--this, I believe, he repeated
several times, lighting his pipe in the intervals and spitting out of
the door. Then he went on more articulately: "Rum go, ain't it--me
singing that hymn in a place like this? Sung it in church 'undreds o'
times. We give it sometimes in the streets. It's part of our
_répertoire_" (he pronounced this word quite correctly). "But I can't
help makin' a babby o' mysen whenever I think o' what it means. I don't
think of it, as a rewle. I should break down if I did; like as I nearly
did just naow. Oh Lor'! I can get on all right till I comes to th' end.
It's them 'angel faces' wot knocks the stuffing out o' _me_!"

"Same 'ere," I replied; and I put my head out of the aperture for a
breath of fresh air.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "When shall we three meet again
    In thunder, lightning, or in rain?"


      *       *       *       *       *


A novel of to-day that commences in a cave so dark that the hero can see
nothing of the woman he meets there. It ends in the same cave, and much
of the action occurs in and near a neighboring summer hotel. Robbery and
mystery, as well as love, figure in the plot.

     "An excellent detective.... The action moves quickly.... Many
     sidelights fall upon newspaperdom, and the author tells her story
     cleverly."--_Boston Herald._

     "The most delightful of grown-up fairy-tales of modern times....
     The characters ... are finely various and their conversations
     piquantly fresh and edifying ... a dramatic climax of great
     strength and beauty ... clean, clever, captivating."--_The Boston

     "A very charming, very elusive and quite modern young lady ... a
     very delightful story."--_Bellman._


A novel of such universal human appeal that locality makes little
difference. It starts as a satire on Scotch divinity students, tho there
is said to be "not a word of preaching in it".

     "Characters drawn with a sure hand, and with unusual subtlety. The
     story broadens and strikes deep roots into human nature and human
     life ... a story that seems as if it might have been made out of
     the real experiences of flesh and blood, told with humor that is
     sometimes biting and sometimes gentle, and with very great
     humanness."--_The New York Times Review._


A young widow comes to New York to investigate various business
interests of her late husband, and finds herself face to face at the
outset with the two most vital problems of a woman's life.

     "Her people are alive. They linger in the imagination."--_Boston

     "Seeing life with sincerity and truth ... she has a rather big idea
     for a working basis."--_The Bookman._

     "Retains the charmed interest ... the quiet, thoughtful style, and
     the vivid, if restrained, humanity. The tale is so natural, so
     lifelike.... The author's evident faith in the eternal rightness of
     things."--_Chicago Record-Herald._


By the author of "A Rebel's Recollections," "Captain Sam," "A Daughter
of the South," "Long Knives," etc. With portrait.

These reminiscences of the veteran author and editor are rich in fields
so wide apart as the experiences of a Hoosier schoolmaster (the basis
for the well-known story), a young man's life in Virginia before the
War, a Confederate soldier, a veteran in the literary life of New York.

"Jeb Stuart," "Fitz Lee," Beauregard, Grant, Frank R. Stockton, John
Hay, Stedman, Bryant, Parke Godwin, "Mark Twain," Gosse, Pulitzer,
Laffan, and Schurz, are among the many who appear.

The author was born at Vevay, Indiana, 1839, practiced law in Virginia;
served in the Confederate Army, was Literary Editor of the _New York
Evening Post_ for 6 years, Editor of the _Commercial Advertiser_ (now
the _Globe_); and for 11 years Editorial writer for _The World_.

     "There are few American men of letters whose reminiscences would
     seem to promise more. The man's experiences cover so wide a period;
     he has had such exceptional opportunities of seeing interesting men
     and events at first hand."--_Bookman._

     "Has approached the emergencies of life with courage and relish ...
     qualities that make for readableness ... this autobiography,
     despite a tendency to anecdotal divagations ... is thoroughly

     "Told with the convincing force of actual experience ... has all
     the excellences, and not many of the defects, of the trained
     journalist ... tells us rapidly and effectively what sort of a life
     he has led ... full of interest."--_Dial._

     "Its cozily intimate quality.... One of those books which the
     reviewer begins to mark appreciatively for quotation, only to
     discover ere long that he cannot possibly find room for half the
     passages selected."--_New York Tribune._

     "Very pleasant are these reviews of the days that are

     "He has much to say and says it graphically."--_Times-Review._

     "The most charming and useful of his many books ... sympathetic,
     kindly, humorous, and confidential talk ... laughable anecdotes ...
     a keen observer's and critic's comment on more than half a century
     of American development."--_Hartford Courant._

     "Seldom does one come upon so companionable a volume of
     reminiscences ... the author has good materials galore and presents
     them with so kindly a humor that one never wearies of his chatty
     history ... the whole volume is genial in spirit and eminently
     readable."--_Chicago Record-Herald._

     "Deserves to rank high in the literature of American autobiography,
     even though that literature boasts the masterpiece of Benjamin
     Franklin."--_San Francisco Argonaut._


A touching story, yet full of humor, of lifelong love and heroic
sacrifice. While the scene is mostly in and near the London of the
fifties, there are some telling glimpses of Italy, where the author
lives much of the time.

     "The book of the last decade; the best thing in fiction since Mr.
     Meredith and Mr. Hardy; must take its place as the first great
     English novel that has appeared in the twentieth century."--Lewis
     Melville in _New York Times Saturday Review_.

     "If the reader likes both 'David Copperfield' and 'Peter Ibbetson,'
     he can find the two books in this one."--_The Independent._


This might paradoxically be called a genial ghost-and-murder story, yet
humor and humanity again dominate, and the most striking element is the
touching love story of an unsuccessful man. The reappearance in
Nineteenth Century London of the long-buried past, and a remarkable case
of suspended memory, give the dramatic background.

     "Really worth reading and praising ... will be hailed as a
     masterpiece. If any writer of the present era is read a half
     century hence, a quarter century, or even a decade, that writer is
     William De Morgan."--_Boston Transcript._

     "It is the Victorian age itself that speaks in those rich,
     interesting, over-crowded books.... Will be remembered as Dickens'
     novels are remembered."--_Springfield Republican._


The purpose and feeling of this novel are intense, yet it is all
mellowed by humor, and it contains perhaps the author's freshest and
most sympathetic story of young love. Throughout its pages the "God be
praised evil has turned to good" of the old Major rings like a trumpet
call of hope. This story of to-day tells of a triumph of courage and

     "A book as sound, as sweet, as wholesome, as wise, as any in the
     range of fiction."--_The Nation._

     "Our older novelists (Dickens and Thackeray) will have to look to
     their laurels, for the new one is fast proving himself their equal.
     A higher quality of enjoyment than is derivable from the work of
     any other novelist now living and active in either England or
     America."--_The Dial._


This novel turns on a strange marital complication, and is notable for
two remarkable women characters, the pathetic girl Lizarann and the
beautiful Judith Arkroyd, with her stage ambitions. Lizarann's father,
Blind Jim, is very appealingly drawn, and shows rare courage and
devotion despite cruel handicaps. There are strong dramatic episodes,
and the author's inevitable humor and optimism.

     "De Morgan at his very best, and how much better his best is than
     the work of any novelist of the past thirty years."--_Independent._

     "There has been nothing at all like it in our day. The best of our
     contemporary novelists ... do not so come home to our business and
     our bosoms ... his method ... is very different in most important
     respects from that of Dickens. He is far less the showman, the
     dashing prestidigitator ... more like Thackeray ... precisely what
     the most 'modern' novelists are striving for--for the most part in
     vain ... most enchanting ... infinitely lovable and
     pathetic."--_The Nation._

     "Another long delightful voyage with the best English company ...
     from Dukes to blind beggars ... you could make out a very good case
     for handsome Judith Arkroyd as an up-to-date Ethel Newcome ... the
     stuff that tears in hardened and careless hearts are made of ...
     singularly perceiving, mellow, wise, charitable, humorous ... a
     plot as well defined as if it were a French farce."--_The Times
     Saturday Review._

     "The characters of Blind Jim and Lizarann are wonderful--worthy of
     Dickens at his best."--Professor William Lyon Phelps, of Yale,
     author of "Essays on Modern Novelists."


A dramatic story of England in the time of the Restoration. It commences
with a fatal duel, and shows a new phase of its remarkable author. The
movement is fairly rapid, and the narrative absorbing, with occasional
glints of humor.

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