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Title: Goblin Tales of Lancashire
Author: Bowker, James
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Goblin Tales of Lancashire" ***

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    GOBLIN TALES OF LANCASHIRE.

    BY JAMES BOWKER, F.R.G.S.I.


    AUTHOR OF 'PHOEBE CAREW, A NORTH COAST STORY,'
    'NAT HOLT'S FORTUNE,' ETC.

    _WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM DRAWINGS
    BY THE LATE CHARLES GLIDDON._

    'Of Faery-land yet if he more enquire,
    By certain signes here sett in sondrie place,
    He may itt fynd.'

    SPENSER

    'La veuve du même Plogojovits déclara que son mari depuis
    sa mort lui était venu demander des souliers.'

    CALMET, _Traité sur les Apparitions_, 1751.

    London

    W. SWAN SONNENSCHEIN & CO.
    PATERNOSTER ROW


    TO

    THE MOST NOBLE
    THE MARQUIS OF HARTINGTON, P.C., D.C.L.
    THIS LITTLE VOLUME IS DEDICATED
    IN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF
    MUCH KINDNESS.



    CONTENTS.


               INTRODUCTION,
           I.--THE SKRIKER,
          II.--THE UNBIDDEN GUEST,
         III.--THE FAIRY'S SPADE,
          IV.--THE KING OF THE FAIRIES,
           V.--MOTHER AND CHILD,
          VI.--THE SPECTRAL CAT,
         VII.--THE CAPTURED FAIRIES,
        VIII.--THE PILLION LADY,
          IX.--THE FAIRY FUNERAL,
           X.--THE CHIVALROUS DEVIL,
          XI.--THE ENCHANTED FISHERMAN,
         XII.--THE SANDS OF COCKER,
        XIII.--THE SILVER TOKEN,
         XIV.--THE HEADLESS WOMAN,
          XV.--THE RESCUE OF MOONBEAM,
         XVI.--THE WHITE DOBBIE,
        XVII.--THE LITTLE MAN'S GIFT,
       XVIII.--SATAN'S SUPPER,
         XIX.--THE EARTHENWARE GOOSE,
          XX.--THE PHANTOM OF THE FELL,
         XXI.--ALLHALLOW'S NIGHT,
        XXII.--THE CHRISTMAS-EVE VIGIL,
       XXIII.--THE CRIER OF CLAIFE,
        XXIV.--THE DEMON OF THE OAK,
         XXV.--THE BLACK COCK,
        XXVI.--THE INVISIBLE BURDEN,
    APPENDIX.--COMPARATIVE NOTES,



INTRODUCTION.


For many of the superstitions which still cling to him the Lancashire
man of the present day is indebted to his Celtic and Scandinavian
ancestors. From them the Horse and Worm stories, and the Giant lore of
the northern and southern mountains and fells, have come down, while
the relationship of the 'Jinny Greenteeth,' the presiding nymph of the
ponds and streams, with allusions to whom the Lancastrian mother
strives to deter her little ones from venturing near the pits and
brooks; to the water-spirits of the Gothic mythology, is too evident
to admit of any doubt. The source of the 'Gabriel Ratchets,' the
hell-hounds whose fear-inspiring yelps still are heard by the
benighted peasant, who finds in the dread sound a warning of the
approach of the angel of death; in the Norse Aasgaardsveia, the souls
condemned to ride about the world until doomsday, and who gallop
through the midnight storm with shrieks and cries which ring over the
lonely moors; or in that other troop of souls of the brave ones who
had died in battle, being led by the storm-god Woden to Walhalla, also
is undeniable.

Striking, however, as are the points of similitude between some of the
Lancastrian traditions and those of the north of Europe, others seem
to be peculiar to the county, and that these are of a darker and
gloomier cast than are the superstitions of districts less wild and
mountainous, and away from the weird influence of the sea, with its
winter thunderings suggestive of hidden and awful power, may in a
great measure be correctly attributed to the nature of the scenery.

It is easy to understand how the unlettered peasant would people with
beings of another world either the bleak fells, the deep and gloomy
gorges, the wild cloughs, the desolate moorland wastes two or three
thousand feet above the level of the sea, of the eastern portion of
the county; or the salt marshes where the breeze-bent and
mysterious-looking trees waved their spectral boughs in the wind; the
dark pools fringed with reeds, amid which the 'Peg-o'-Lantron'
flickered and danced, and over which came the hollow cry of the
bittern and the child-like plaint of the plover; and the dreary glens,
dark lakes, and long stretches of sand of the north and west.

To him the forest, with its solemn Rembrandtesque gloom,

    Where Druids erst heard victims groan,

the lonely fir-crowned pikes, and the mist-shrouded mountains, would
seem fitting homes for the dread shapes whose spite ended itself in
the misfortunes and misery of humanity. Pregnant with mystery to such
a mind would be the huge fells, with their shifting 'neetcaps' of
cloud, the towering bluffs, the swampy moors, and trackless morasses,
across which the setting sun cast floods of blood-red light; and
irresistible would be the influence of such scenery upon the lonely
labourer who would go about his daily tasks with a feeling that he was
surrounded by the supernatural.

And wild as are many parts of the county to-day, it is difficult to
conceive its condition a century or two ago, when much of the land
was not only uncultivated, but was, for at least a portion of the
year, covered by sheets of water, the highways being little more than
bridle roads, or, if wider than usual, very sloughs of despond, the
carts in several of the rural districts being laid aside in winter as
utterly useless, and grain and other commodities, even in summer time,
being conveyed from place to place on the backs of long strings of
pack-horses.

Living in lonely houses and cottages shut out from civilisation by the
difficulties of communication, and hemmed in by floating mists and by
much that was awe-inspiring, with in winter additional barriers of
storm, snow and flood, it is easy to imagine how in the fancy of the
yeoman, shepherd, farmer, or solitary lime burner, as 'th' edge o'
dark' threw its weird glamour over the scene, boggarts and phantoms
would begin to creep about to the music of the unearthly voices heard
in every sough and sigh of the wandering wind as it wailed around the
isolated dwellings.

In everything weird they found a message from the unknown realms of
death. The noise of the swollen waters of the Ribble or the Lune, or
the many smaller streams hurrying down to the sea, was to them the
voice of the Water Spirit calling for its victim, and the howling of
their dogs bade the sick prepare to meet 'the shadow with the keys.'
All around them were invisible beings harmful or mischievous, and to
them they traced much of the misfortune which followed the stern
working of nature's laws.

The superstitions which date from, as well as the actual annals of the
Witch Mania in Lancashire, in some slight degree confirm this theory,
for whereas in the flat and more thickly-populated districts the hag
contented herself with stealing milk from her neighbour's cows,
spoiling their bakings, and other practical jokes of a comparatively
harmless kind, in the wilder localities--the region of pathless moors
and mist-encircled mountains--the witch ever was raising terrible
storms, bringing down the thunder, killing the cattle, dealing out
plagues and pestilence at will, wreaking evil of every conceivable
kind upon man and beast, and, hot from her sabbath of devil-worship,
even casting the sombre shadows and dread darkness of death over the
households of those who had fallen under the ban of her hate.

Lancashire has, however, an extensive ghost lore to which this theory
has no reference, consisting as it does of stories of haunted houses
and churchyards, indelible blood-stains, and all the paraphernalia of
the

                            Shapes that walk
    At dead of night, and clank their chains and wave
    The torch of hell around the murderer's bed.

The sketch in this volume, 'Mother and Child,' for the skeleton of
which tradition I am indebted to the late Mr. J. Stanyan Bigg, may be
considered a fair specimen of these stories. In most cases these
legends are not simply the vain creations of ignorance and darkness,
although they fade before the light of knowledge like mists before the
sun, for under many of them may be found a moral and a warning, or a
testimony to the beauty of goodness, hidden it is true beneath the
covering of a rude fable, just as inscriptions rest concealed below
the moss of graveyards. The well-known legend of the Boggart of
Townley Hall, with its warning cry of 'Lay out, lay out!' and its
demand for a victim every seventh year, is a striking example of
traditions of this class--emphatic protests against wrong, uttered in
the form of a nerve-affecting fable. In more than one of the stories
of this kind to which I have listened, the ghost of the victim has
re-visited 'the pale glimpses of the moon,' and made night so hideous
to the wrong-doer, that, in despair and remorse, he has put an end to
himself; and trivial as these things may seem to Mr. Gradgrind and his
school, they have, like other and nobler parables, influenced minds
impervious to dry fact.

To the devil lore of the county, however, the theory certainly will
apply, for surely it is in a gloomy gorge, through which forked
lightnings flash and chase each other, and the thunder rolls and
reverberates, or on a dark and lonesome moor, rather than upon the
shady side of Pall Mall, one would expect to meet the Evil One.

Yet, undoubtedly, other causes contributed to enrich the store of
tales of fiends with which the county abounds.

In Lancashire many of the old customs, even such as the riding of the
wooden Christ on Palm Sunday, continued to be kept up at a later
period than was the case in other parts of England; and,
notwithstanding the prohibitory edicts of the commissioners appointed
by Queen Elizabeth, Miracle Plays and Moralities doubtless were
performed there even during the early part of the reign of James I.,
for the Reformation, rapidly as its principles took root and spread in
other parts of the country, did not make rapid headway in Lancashire,
where great numbers of the people remained true to the faith of their
forefathers. In fact, in many parishes, long after the Church of
England had been by law established, Catholic priests continued to be
the only officiating ministers. Probably the people loved their church
not only on account of its doctrines, of which it may be presumed most
of them knew but little, and of its impressive ceremonies, but also
because of its recognition of the holy days and fair days, wakes, and
games it was powerless to suppress; and perhaps of all the amusements
thus winked at or even patronised by the church, that of dramatic
representations, rude and grotesque as they undoubtedly were, was the
most important. In many places the members of the various guilds and
brotherhoods were the performers, but in the majority of cases the
entertainments were given by the priests and other ecclesiastical
functionaries.

What part the Devil played in these amusements is well known to the
antiquary, the old accounts containing particulars of the expenditure
upon not only hair for the Evil One's wig, but also for canvas, of
which to construct black shirts for the Satanic tag-rag, or, as the
old scribes plainly put it, 'for the damned.' It is evident from the
old records that Satan left the hands of his dresser an object
compared with which the most hideous jack-in-the-box of the modern toy
shop would be a vision of loveliness; and, as his chief occupations
were those of roaring and yelling, and of suffering all sorts of
indignities at the hands of the Vice, as does the pantaloon at the
hands of the clown in a pantomime of to-day, it is easy to see that
his _rôle_ was not a very dignified one. Everywhere the stage devil
was simply the stage fool. Even in France, where the drama ever has
been submitted to precise rules, 'there was,' as Albert Reville has
remarked (_Histoire du Diable, ses origines, sa grandeur et sa
decadence._ Strasbourg: 1870), 'a class of popular pieces called
devilries (_diableries_), gross and often obscene masquerades, in
which at least four devils took part.... In Germany also the devil
was diverting on the stage. There exists an old Saxon Mystery of the
Passion, in which Satan repeats, like a mocking echo, the last words
of Judas who hangs himself; and when, in accordance with the sacred
tradition, the traitor's bowels fall asunder, the Evil One gathers
them into a basket, and, as he carries them away, sings a
little melody appropriate to the occasion.' Undoubtedly these
misrepresentations of the apostate angel helped to familiarise the
popular mind with the idea of a personal devil going about veritably
seeking whom he might devour; and although, when with the crowd in the
presence of the Thespian ecclesiastics, people might feel quite at
home with, and really enjoy, the company of the Evil One, away again
on the dreary moor, or in the lonely hillside cottage, with the night
wind howling at the door, fear would resume its wonted supremacy, and
the feeling would be deepened and intensified by the memory of the
horrid appearance of the stage Satan.

It is possible that in a great measure we owe to these performances
the somewhat monotonous frequency with which, in the purely local
Lancashire devil stories, the Evil One, who generally in the most
stupid manner permits himself to be overreached, comes oft second
best, for doubtless many of the traditions were moulded in accordance
with the lot of Satan in the miracle plays, as, in their turn, these
were, although perhaps indirectly, based upon the teachings of the
church, and that, in its turn, upon the writings of the Fathers, some
of whom, and notably Origen, did not hesitate to speak of the
Redemption even as due in no small degree to Satanic stupidity, a view
so lastingly predominant in the Church that as Reville has said, 'la
poesie ecclésiastique, la prédication populaire, des enseignements
pontificaux même le repandirent, le dramatisèrent, le consacrèrent
partout.'

An interesting chapter in the history of religious beliefs might be
written upon the views of the early Fathers with reference to Satan
and his legion, and the student is not inclined to be quite so severe
upon the superstitions of the unlettered peasant when he finds Jerome
recording it as the opinion of all the doctors in the church, that the
air between heaven and earth is filled with Evil Spirits, and
Augustine and others stating that the devils had fallen there from a
higher and purer region of the air. The early Christian Church too had
its order of _Exorcists_, who had care of those possessed by Evil
Spirits, the _energumeni_, and the Bishops, departing from the
original idea that laymen had the power of exorcism, ordained men to
the office and called upon them to exercise their functions even
before the rite of baptism, to deliver the candidates 'from the
dominion of the power of darkness.'

Of the lighter superstitions in Lancashire, that of belief in fairies
appears to be almost extinct, and it is to be lamented that forty
years ago folk lore was considered of so little importance, for the
slight and vague references in a rare little 'History of Blackpool,'
by the Rev. W. Thornber, upon two of which the sketches entitled 'The
Silver Token,' and 'The Fairy's Spade' are founded, show that the task
of gathering a goodly store of such vestiges of ancient faiths would
at the time when that volume was written have been a comparatively
easy one. To-day, however, the case is different. Even my friend, the
late Mr. John Higson, of Lees, to whose kindness I owe the tradition
upon which the story of 'The King of the Fairies' is based, and whose
labours in out-of-the-way paths dear to antiquaries were for some
years as untiring as successful and praiseworthy, was not able to
gather much bearing upon the fairy mythology of the Lancashire people.

Most of the fairy and folk stories it was my good fortune to hear in
the county and moorland districts were of a conventional kind, lubber
fiends, death warnings, fairy ointment, and fairy money being as
plentiful as diamonds in Eastern tales, and for that reason it was not
thought necessary to reproduce them in this volume.

The darker forms of superstition, like lower organisms, are more
tenacious of life, and in many a retired nook of Lancashire there
still may be found small congregations of believers in all the mystic
lore of devildom and witchcraft. Readers of Mr. Edwin Waugh's
exquisite sketches of north country life will at once call to mind, in
the 'Grave of the Griselhurst Boggart,' an illustration of that dim
fear of the supernatural which is yet so all-powerful, while the
valuable collection of Folk Lore from the pens of the late Mr.
Wilkinson and Mr. John Harland is full of testimony to the vitality of
many of these offshoots from old-world creeds.



GOBLIN TALES OF LANCASHIRE.



TH' SKRIKER (SHRIEKER).


On a fine night, about the middle of December, many years ago, a
sturdy-looking young fellow left Chipping for his cottage, three or
four miles away, upon the banks of the Hodder. The ground was covered
with snow, which in many places had drifted into heaps, and the keen
frost had made the road so slippery that the progress he made was but
slow. Nature looked very beautiful, and the heart of the rustic even
was touched by the sweet peacefulness of the scene. The noble old
Parlick, and the sweeping Longridge, with its fir-crowned Thornley
Height and Kemple End, stood out boldly against the clear sky, and the
moon shed her soft silvery light into the long silent valley,
stretching away until its virgin paleness mingled with the shadows and
the darkness of the distant fells beyond Whitewell.

All was still, save when the sighing wind rustled gently through the
frosted branches of the leafless trees by the roadside, and shook down
upon the wayfarer a miniature shower of snow; for even the tiny
stream, so full of mirth and music in the summer time, had been lulled
to sleep by the genius of winter; and the cottagers, whose little
houses, half-hidden by the rime, seemed hardly large enough for the
dwellings of dwarfs, had been snugly sleeping for hours.

Adam was by no means a timid or nervous being, but there was a
nameless something in the deathly silence which oppressed, if it did
not actually frighten, him; and although he sang aloud a verse of the
last song he had heard before he left the kitchen of the Patten Arms,
his voice had lost its heartiness. He earnestly wished himself safely
across the little bridge over the brook; but he was yet some distance
from the stream when the faint chimes of midnight fell upon the air.
Almost immediately after the last stroke of twelve had broken the
silence a cloud passed over the face of the moon, and comparative
darkness enveloped the scene; the wind, which before had been gentle
and almost noiseless, began to howl amid the boughs and branches of
the waving trees, and the frozen snow from the hedgerows was dashed
against the wayfarer's face.

He had already begun to fancy that he could distinguish in the
soughing of the wind and the creaking of the boughs unearthly cries
and fiendish shouts of glee; but as he approached the dreaded stream
his courage almost entirely failed him, and it required a great effort
to keep from turning his back to it, and running away in the direction
of the little village at the foot of Parlick. It struck him, however,
that he had come a long distance; that if he did go back to the Patten
Arms the company would be dispersed, and the inmates asleep, and, what
was more effective than all, that if he could only cross the bridge he
would be safe, the Greenies, Boggarts, and Feorin not having power
over any one who had passed over the water. Influenced by this
thought, yet with his knees trembling under him, he pushed forward
with assumed boldness, and he had almost reached the bridge when he
heard the noise of passing feet in the crunching snow, and became
conscious of the presence of a ghastly thing he was unable to see.
Suddenly a sepulchral howl brought him to a stop, and, with his heart
throbbing loudly enough to be heard, he stood gazing fixedly into the
darkness. There was nothing to be perceived, however, save the copings
of the bridge, with their coverings of rime; and he might have stood
there until daylight had not another cry, louder and even more
unearthly and horrible than the preceding one, called him from his
trance. No sooner had this second scream died away than, impelled by
an irresistible impulse, he stepped forward in the direction whence
the noise had come. At this moment the moon burst forth from behind
the clouds which had for some time obscured her light, and her rays
fell upon the road, with its half-hidden cart-tracks winding away into
the dim distance; and in the very centre of the bridge he beheld a
hideous figure with black shaggy hide, and huge eyes closely
resembling orbs of fire.

Adam at once knew from the likeness the dread object bore to the
figure he had heard described by those who had seen the Skriker, that
the terrible thing before him was an Ambassador of Death.

Without any consciousness of what he was doing, and acting as though
under the sway of a strange and irresistible mesmeric influence, he
stepped towards the bridge; but no sooner did he stir than the
frightful thing in front of him, with a motion that was not walking,
but rather a sort of heavy gliding, moved also, slowly retreating,
pausing when he paused, and always keeping its fiery eyes fixed upon
his blanched face. Slowly he crossed the stream, but gradually his
steps grew more and more rapid, until he broke into a run. Suddenly a
faint knowledge of the horrible nature of his position dawned upon
him. A little cottage stood by the roadside, and from one of its
chamber-windows, so near to the ground as to be within his reach, a
dim light shone, the room probably being occupied by a sick person, or
by watchers of the dead. Influenced by a sudden feeling of
companionship, Adam tried to cry out, but his tongue clave to his
parched mouth, and ere he could mumble a few inarticulate sounds,
scarcely audible to himself, the dwelling was left far behind, and a
sensation of utter loneliness and helplessness again took possession
of him.

He had thus traversed more than a mile of the road, in some parts of
which, shaded by the high hedgerows and overhanging boughs, the only
light seemed to him to be that from the terrible eyes, when suddenly
he stumbled over a stone and fell. In a second, impressed by a fear
that the ghastly object would seize him, he regained his feet, and, to
his intense relief, the Skriker was no longer visible. With a sigh of
pleasure he sat down upon a heap of broken stones, for his limbs, no
longer forced into mechanical movement by the influence of the
spectre's presence, refused to bear him further. Bitterly cold as was
the night, the perspiration stood in beads upon his whitened face,
and, with the recollection of the Skriker's terrible eyes and horrible
body strong upon him, he shook and shivered, as though in a fit of the
ague. A strong and burly man, in the very prime of life, he felt as
weak as a girl, and, fearing that he was about to sink to the ground
in a swoon, he took handfuls of the crisp snow and rubbed them upon
his forehead. Under this sharp treatment he soon revived a little,
and, after several unsuccessful efforts, he succeeded in regaining his
feet, and resumed his lonely journey.

Starting at the least sough of the breeze, the faintest creak of a
bending branch, or the fall of a piece of frozen rime from a bough, he
slowly trudged along.

He had passed the quaint old house at Chaigely, the sudden yelp of a
chained dog in the court-yard giving him a thrill of horror as he went
by, and he had reached the bend in that part of the road which is
opposite the towering wood-covered Kemple End. A keen and cutting
blast swept through the black firs that crowned the summit, and stood,
like solemn sentinels, upon the declivity. There was a music in the
wind mournful as a croon over the corpse of a beautiful woman, whose
hair still shimmers with the golden light of life; but Adam heard no
melody in the moaning sighs which seemed to fill the air around. To
him, whose soul was yet under the influence of the terror through
which he had so recently passed, the sounds assumed an awful nature;
whilst the firs, standing so clearly defined against the snow, which
lay in virgin heaps upon the beds of withered fern, seemed like so
many weird skeletons shaking their bony arms in menace or in warning.

With a suddenness that was more than startling, there was a lull, and
the breeze ceased even to whisper. The silence was more painful than
were the noises of the blast battling with the branches, for it filled
the breast of the solitary wayfarer with forebodings of coming woe. At
the point he had reached the road sank, and as Adam stepped into the
almost utter darkness, caused by the high banks, to which clung masses
of decayed vegetation, beautified by the genius of winter into white
festoons, again and again the terrible shriek rang out.

There was no mistaking the voice of the Skriker for that of anything
else upon earth, and, with a sickly feeling at his heart, Adam slowly
emerged from the gloom, and, in expectation of the appearance of the
ghastly figure, passed on. He had not to wait long, for as he reached
the old bridge spanning the Hodder, once more he saw, in the centre
of the road, about midway of the stream, the same terrible object he
had followed along the lane from the brook at Thornley.

With a sensation of terror somewhat less intense than that which had
previously influenced him, he again yielded to the power which
impelled him forward, and once more the strange procession commenced,
the Skriker gliding over the snow, not, however, without a peculiar
shuffling of its feet, surrounded, as they were, by masses of long
hair, which clung to them, and deadened the sound, and Adam following
in his mechanical and involuntary trot. The journey this time,
however, was of but short duration, for the poor fellow's cottage was
only a little way from the river. The distance was soon traversed, and
the Skriker, with its face towards the terrified man, took up its
position against the door of the dwelling. Adam could not resist the
attraction which drew him to the ghastly thing, and as he neared it,
in a fit of wild desperation, he struck at it, but his hand banged
against the oak of the door, and, as the spectre splashed away, he
fell forward in a swoon.

Disturbed by the noise of the fall, the goodwife arose and drew him
into the cottage, but for some hours he was unable to tell the story
of his terrible journey. When he had told of his involuntary chase of
the Skriker, a deep gloom fell over the woman's features, for she well
knew what the ghastly visit portended to their little household. The
dread uncertainty did not continue long, however, for on the third day
from that upon which Adam had reached his home the eldest lad was
brought home drowned; and after attending the child's funeral, Adam's
wife sickened of a fever, and within a few weeks she too was carried
to Mytton churchyard. These things, together with the dreadful
experience of the journey from Chipping, so affected Adam that he lost
his reason, and for years afterwards the sound of his pattering
footsteps, as in harmless idiotcy, with wild eyes and outstretched
hands, he trotted along the roads in chase of an imaginary Boggart,
fell with mournful impressiveness upon the ears of groups gathered by
farm-house fires to listen to stories of the Skriker.{1}



THE UNBIDDEN GUEST.


In a little lane leading from the town of Clitheroe there once lived a
noted 'cunning man,' to whom all sorts of applications were made, not
only by the residents, but also by people from distant places, for the
fame of the wizard had spread over the whole country side. If a theft
was committed, at once the services of 'Owd Jeremy' were enlisted,
and, as a result, some one entirely innocent was, if not accused, at
least suspected; while maidens and young men, anxious to pry into
futurity, and behold the faces of their unknown admirers, paid him
trifling fees to enable them to gratify their curiosity. In short,
Jeremy professed to be an able student of the Black Art, on familiar
speaking terms with Satan, and duly qualified to foretell men's
destinies by the aid of the stars.

The cottage in which the old man resided was of a mean order, and its
outward appearance was by no means likely to impress visitors with an
idea that great pecuniary advantages had followed that personal
acquaintance with the Evil One of which the wizard boasted. If,
however, the outside was mean and shabby, the inside of the dwelling
was of a nature better calculated to inspire inquirers with feelings
of awe, hung round, as the one chamber was, with faded and moth-eaten
black cloth, upon which grotesque astrological designs and the figure
of a huge dragon were worked in flaming red. The window being hidden
by the dingy tapestry, the only light in the room came from a
starved-looking candle, which was fixed in the foot of the skeleton of
a child, attached to a string from the ceiling, and dangling just over
the table, where a ponderous volume lay open before a large crystal
globe and two skulls.

In an old-fashioned chair, above which hung suspended a dirty and
dilapidated crocodile, the wizard sat, and gave audience to the stray
visitors whose desire to peer into futurity overmastered the fear with
which the lonely cottage was regarded. A quaint-looking old man was
Jeremy, with his hungry-looking eyes and long white beard; and, as
with bony fingers he turned over the leaves of the large book, there
was much in his appearance likely to give the superstitious and
ignorant customers overwhelming ideas of his wondrous wisdom. The
'make up' was creditable to Jeremy, for though he succeeded in
deceiving others with his assumption of supernatural knowledge, he
himself did not believe in those powers whose aid he so frequently
professed to invoke on behalf of his clients.

One day, when the ragged cloth had fallen behind a victim who was
departing from the wizard's sanctum with a few vague and mysterious
hints in exchange for solid coin, the old man, after laughing
sarcastically, pulled aside the dingy curtains and stepped to the
casement, through which the glorious sunlight was streaming. The scene
upon which the wizard looked was a very beautiful one; and the old man
leaned his head upon his hands and gazed intently upon the landscape.

''Tis a bonnie world,' said he,--''tis a bonnie world, and there are
few views in it to compare with this one for beauty. My soul is drawn
toward old Pendle, yon, with a love passing that of woman, heartless
and passionless though the huge mass be. Heartless!' said he, after a
pause,--'heartless! when every minute there is a fresh expression upon
its beautiful front? Ay, even so, for it looms yonder calm and
unconcerned when we are ushered into the world, and when we are
ushered out of it, and laid to moulder away under the mountain's
shadow; and it will rear its bold bluffs to heaven and smile in the
sunlight or frown in the gloom after we who now love to gaze upon it
are blind to the solemn loveliness of its impassable face. Poor
perishable fools are we, with less power than the breeze which ruffles
yon purple heather!'

With a heavy sigh Jeremy turned away from the window, and as the
curtain fell behind him, and he stood again in the wretchedly-lighted
room, he saw that he was not alone. The chair in which the trembling
hinds generally were asked to seat themselves held a strange-looking
visitor of dark and forbidding aspect.

'Jeremiah,' said this personage, 'devildom first and poetising
afterwards.'

There was an unpleasant tone of banter in this speech, which did not
seem in keeping with the character of one who fain would pry into
futurity; and as the wizard took his usual position beneath the
crocodile, he looked somewhat less oracular than was his wont when in
front of a shivering and terrified inquirer.

'What wantest thou with me?' said he, with an ill-assumed appearance
of unconcern.

The occupant of the chair smiled sardonically as he replied--

'A little security--that's all. For five-and-twenty years thou hast
been amassing wealth by duping credulous fools, and it is time I had
my percentage.'

The wizard stared in astonishment. Was the stranger a thief, or worse?
he wondered, but after a time, however, he said, drily--

'Even if thou hadst proved thy right to a portion of the profits of my
honest calling--and thou hast not--thou wouldst not require a
packhorse to carry thy share away. Doth this hovel resemble the abode
of a possessor of great wealth? Two chairs, a table, and a few old
bones, its furniture; and its tenant a half-starved old man, who has
had hard work to support life upon the pittance he receives in return
for priceless words of wisdom! Thou art a stranger to me, and thy
portion of my earnings is correctly represented by a circle.'

A loud and unmusical laugh followed the wizard's words; and before the
unpleasant sound had died away the visitor remarked--

'If I am yet a stranger to thee, Jeremiah, 'tis not thy fault, for
during the last quarter of a century thou hast boasted of me as thy
willing servant, and extorted hard cash from thy customers upon the
strength of my friendship and willingness to help thee; and now, true
to thy beggarly instincts, thou wouldst deny me! But 'twill be in
vain, Jeremiah--'twill be in vain! I have postponed this visit too
long already to be put off with subterfuges now.'

'I repeat, I know thee not,' said the wizard, in a trembling voice.
And, hurriedly rising from his chair, he flung aside the thick
curtain, in order that the light of day might stream into the chamber,
for a nameless fear had taken possession of him, and he did not care
to remain in the darkened apartment with his suspicious visitor. To
his surprise and terror, however, darkness had fallen upon the scene,
and, as he gazed in alarm at the little diamond-framed window,
through which so short a time before he had looked upon a fair
prospect of meadow and mountain, a vivid flash of lightning darted
across the heavens, and a clap of thunder burst over the cottage.

''Twill spoil good men's harvests, Jeremiah,' the stranger calmly
said; 'but it need not interrupt our interesting conversation.'

Angry at the bantering manner in which the visitor spoke, the wizard
flung open the door, and cried--

'Depart from my dwelling, ere I cast thee forth into the mire!'

'Surely thou wouldst not have the heart to fulfil thy threat,' said
the stranger, 'although 'tis true I have but one shoe to be soiled by
the mud.' And as he spoke he quietly crossed his legs, and Jeremiah
perceived a hideous cloven foot.

With a groan, the wizard sank into his chair, and, deaf to the roaring
of the thunder, and to the beating of the rain through the doorway, he
sat helplessly gazing at his guest, whose metallic laughter rang
through the room.

'Hast thou at length recognised me, Jeremiah?' asked the Evil One,
after an interval, during which he had somewhat prominently displayed
the hoof, and gloated over the agony its exhibition had caused his
victim.

The old man was almost too terrified to answer, but at last he
whispered--

'I have.'

'And thou no longer wilt refuse me the security?' hissed the
tormentor, as he placed a parchment upon the table.

'What security dost thou demand?' feebly inquired the quaking wizard.

'Personal only,' said Satan. 'Put thy name to this,' and he pointed to
the bond.

Jeremy pushed his chair as far from the suspicious-looking document as
he could ere he replied--

'Thou shalt not have name of mine.'

He had expected that an outburst of fiendish wrath would follow this
speech, but to his surprise the guest simply remarked--

'Very well, Jeremiah. By to-morrow night, however, thou shalt be
exposed as the base and ignorant pretender thou art. Thou hast
trespassed upon the rightful trade of my faithful servants long
enough, and 'tis time I stopped thy prosperous career. Ere sunset
thou shalt have a rival, who will take the bread from thy ungrateful
mouth.'

After this polite speech the visitor picked up the parchment, and
began to fold it in a methodical manner.

Such utterly unexpected gentlemanly behaviour somewhat reassured
Jeremiah, and in a fainter voice he humbly asked what his visitor had
to give in exchange for a wizard's autograph.

'Twenty-two years of such success as thou hast not even dared to dream
of! No opposition--no exposure to thy miserable dupes,' readily
answered Satan.

Jeremiah considered deeply. The offer undoubtedly was a tempting one,
for after all, his profession had not been very lucrative, and to lose
his customers, therefore, meant starvation. He was certain that if
another wizard opened an establishment the people would flock to him,
even through mere curiosity; but he knew what signing the bond
included, and he was afraid to take the step.

After a long delay, during which Satan carefully removed a sharp
stone from his hoof, Jeremiah therefore firmly said--

'Master, I'll not sign!'

Without more ado the visitor departed, and almost before he was out of
sight the storm abated, and old Pendle again became visible.

A few days passed, and no one came to the dwelling of the wizard; and
as such an absence of customers was very unusual, Jeremy began to fear
that the supernatural stranger had not forgotten his threat. On the
evening of the fifth day he crept into the little town to purchase
some articles of food. Previously, whenever he had had occasion to
make a similar journey, as he passed along the street the children ran
away in terror, and the older people addressed him with remarkable
humility; but this time, as he stepped rapidly past the houses, the
youngsters went on with their games as though only an ordinary mortal
went by, and a burly fellow who was leaning against a door jamb took
his pipe from his mouth to cry familiarly--

'Well, Jerry, owd lad, heaw are ta'?'

These marks of waning power and fading popularity were sufficiently
unmistakable; but as he was making his few purchases he was informed
that a stranger, who seemed to be possessed of miraculous powers, had
arrived in the town, and that many people who had been to him were
going about testifying to his wonderful skill. With a heavy heart the
wizard returned to his cottage. Next night a shower of stones dashed
his window to pieces, and, as he peered into the moonlight lane, he
saw a number of rough fellows, who evidently were waiting and watching
in hopes that he would emerge from his dwelling. These were the only
visitors he had during an entire week; and at length, quite prepared
to capitulate, he said to himself--

'I wish I had another chance.'

No sooner had he uttered the words, than there was a sudden burst of
thunder, wind roared round the house, again the clients' chair was
occupied, and the parchment lay upon the table just as though it had
not been disturbed.

'Art thou ready to sign?' asked Satan.

'Ay!' answered the old man.

The Evil One immediately seized the wizard's hand, upon which Jeremy
gave a piercing yell, as well he might do, for the Satanic grip had
forced the blood from the tips of his fingers.

'Sign!' said the Devil.

'I can't write,' said the wizard.

The Evil One forthwith took hold of one of the victim's fingers, and
using it as a pen, wrote in a peculiarly neat hand 'Jeremiah Parsons,
his × mark,' finishing with a fiendish flourish.

After doing this he again vacated the chair and the room as
mysteriously as on the previous occasion.

The autograph-loving visitor had barely departed with the parchment
ere a knock at the door was heard, and in stepped a man who wished to
have the veil lifted, and who brought the pleasing news that,
influenced by the reports of the opposition wizard, he had been to his
house in Clitheroe, but had found it empty, the whilom tenant having
fled no one knew whither. From that time things looked up with Jeremy,
and money poured into the skulls, for people crowded from far and near
to test his skill. For two-and-twenty years he flourished and was
famous, but the end came.{2} One morning, after a wild night when the
winds howled round Pendle, and it seemed as though all the powers of
darkness were let loose, some labourers who were going to their work
were surprised to find only the ruins of the wizard's cottage. The
place had been consumed by fire; and although search was made for the
magician's remains, only a few charred bones were found, and these,
some averred, were not those of old Jeremy, but were relics of the
dusty old skeleton and the dirty crocodile under the shadow of which
the wizard used to sit.



THE FAIRY'S SPADE.


'Th' fairies han getten varra shy sin' thee an' me wir young, Matty,
lass!' said an old grey-headed man, who, smoking a long pipe, calmly
sat in a shady corner of the kitchen of a Fylde country farm-house.
'Nubry seems to see 'em neaw-a-days as they ust. I onst had a seet o'
one on 'em, as plain as I con see thee sittin' theer, ravellin' thi
owd stockin'. I wir ploughin' varra soon after dayleet, an' ther
worn't a saand to be heeart nobbut th' noise o'th' graand oppenin',
an' th' chirp ov a few brids wakkenin' an' tunin' up, an' ov a
toothrey crows close at after mi heels a-pikin' up th' whorms. O ov a
suddent I heeard sumbry cry, i' a voice like owd Luke wench i'th'
orgin loft ov a Sundays, "I've brokken mi speet!" I lost no toime i'
tornin' to see whoa wir at wark at that haar, an' i' aar fielt too,
an' I clapt mi een on as pratty a little lass as ever oppent een i'
this country side. Owd England choilt's bonny, yone warrant mi, but
hoo's as feaw as sin aside o'th' face as I see that morn. Hoo stood
theer wi' th' brokken spade i' her hond, an' i'th' tother a hommer an'
a toothrey nails, an' hoo smoilt at mi, an' offert mi th' tackle, as
mich as t' say, "Naaw, Isik, be gradely for onst i' thi loife, an'
fettle this speet for mi, will ta?" For a whoile I stood theear gapin'
like a foo', and wontherin' wheear hoo could ha' risen fray, but hoo
cried aat onst mooar, "I've brokken mi speet!" Sooa I marcht toart her
and tuk th' hommer an' th' nails, an' tacklet it up. It didn't tek mi
long a-dooin', for it wir but a loile un; but when I'd done hoo smoilt
at mi, an' so bonny, summat loike tha ust, Margit, when owd Pigheeod
wir cooartin' tha; an' gan mi a hanful o' brass,{3} an' afooar I'd
time to say owt off hoo vanisht. That wur th' only feorin as ivver
I've seen, an' mebbi th' only one as I'm likely to luk at, for mi
seet's getten nooan o'th' best latterly.'



THE KING OF THE FAIRIES.


Many years ago there lived in a farm-house at a point of the high-road
from Manchester to Stockport, where Levenshulme Church now stands, a
worthy named Burton, 'Owd Dannel Burton.'[A] The farm held by Daniel
was a model one in its way, the old man raising finer crops than any
other farmer in the district. It was rumoured that Daniel was very
comfortably provided for, and that a few bad years would not harm him;
and so wonderfully did everything he took in hand prosper, that his
'luck' became proverbial. Such uniform prosperity could not long
continue without the tongue of envy and detraction being set wagging,
and the neighbours who permitted thistles to overrun their pastures
whilst they gadded about to rush-bearings and wakes, finding a
reproach to their idleness not only in the old man's success, but also
in the careful, industrious habits of his daily life, were not slow to
insinuate that there was something more than farming at the bottom of
it. 'Dannel' had sold himself to Satan, said some whose pigs had faded
away, and whose harvests had not been worth the gathering; and others
pretended to know even the terms of the contract, and how many years
the old man yet had to play on. A few of these detractors were young
men whose imaginations were not kept in sufficient control, but they
grew wonderfully reserved respecting the Satanic bargain after the
hearty Daniel had had an interview with them, and proved to them that
he had not forgotten the use of a good tough black-thorn.

[A] Mr. Burton's grandson was for many years rector of All Saints',
Manchester.

'It's nobbut luck,' philosophically remarked others, 'mebbe it'll be
my turn to-morn;' but the remainder vowed that neither luck or Evil
One had anything to do with it, for the success was due to the labours
of Puck, King of the Fairies.

They were right. It was Puck, although no one ever knew how the old
man had been able to enlist the services of so valuable an auxiliary,
Daniel being strangely reticent upon the point, although generally by
no means loth to speak of the fairies and their doings. Reserve with
reference to these things, however, would not have availed much, for
the farm labourers, the ruddy-cheeked milkmaids, and the other
women-folk about the farm-house, were fond of boasting of the exploits
of Puck--how during the night everything was 'cleaned up,' and all was
in apple-pie order when they came into the kitchen at daybreak, the
milk churned, the cows foddered, the necessary utensils filled with
water from the well, the horses ready harnessed for their day's work
at the plough, and even a week's threshing done and the barn left as
tidy as though it had just been emptied and swept. Evidently the
servant lasses had no fear of, or objection to, a hard-working
supernatural visitor of this kind, but just the reverse, and many of
their listeners found themselves wishing that their house, too, had
its Boggart.

For so long a period did this state of things continue, each morning
revealing an astounding amount of work performed by the willing and
inexpensive workman, that at length the assistance was taken for
granted, and as a matter of course, offering no food for surprise,
although it did not cease to be a cause of envy to the neighbours.

On one occasion, however, as old Daniel was despatching a hearty and
substantial breakfast, a heated labourer brought word that all the
corn had been housed during the past night. The strange story was true
enough, for when the old man reached the field, where on the previous
evening the golden sheaves of wheat had stood, he found the expanse
quite bare, and as clean as though reapers, leaders, gleaners, and
geese had been carefully over it. The harvest was in the barn, but not
content with this, Daniel, illustrating the old proverb that 'much
would have more,' suddenly exclaimed, 'I wonder whose horses Puck{4}
used in this work. If yon of mine, I daresay he sweated them rarely;'
and away he strode towards the stable. He had not reached the fold,
however, when he met Puck coming towards him, and in a fever of greedy
anxiety he cried, 'Puck, I doubt thou'st spoiled yon horses!' No
sooner were the words out of his mouth, however, than he saw that for
once in his life he had made a mistake, for the fairy went pale with
anger as he shouted in a shrill treble:--

    Sheaf to field, and horse to stall,
    I, the Fairy King, recall!
    Never more shall drudge of mine
    Stir a horse or sheaf of thine.

After which vow he at once vanished.

The old man walked home in a sorrowful mood, and actually forgot to go
to the stable; but next morning early he was disturbed by a knocking
at his chamber door. 'Mesthur, ger up,' cried the messenger, who on
the previous day had brought the news of the housing of the corn,
'Mesthur, ger up, th' corn's back i'th' fielt.' With a groan of
anguish Daniel arose, and hastily made his way to the barn. All the
pile was gone, and the floor littered with straw, exactly as it was
before the fairy labour had so transformed the place.

It did not take the farmer long to get over the ground between his
barn and the corn-field, and arrived there he found the expanse once
more covered with yellow sheaves, on which the beams of the rising sun
were beginning to fall. Here and there a sheaf had fallen upon the
ground, and everywhere straw and ears of corn were scattered about as
though the reapers had not long before left the place. The old man
turned away in despair.

From that time forward there was no more work done about the farm, or
the shippons, and stables; but in the house, however, the maids
continued to find their tasks performed as usual.

Great were the rejoicings in the locality when the story of the
sheaves became known, and it got noised about that 'Dannel's' fairy
had 'fown eawt' with him. The old man became very dejected, for
although he did not clearly perceive that the rupture was entirely due
to his own selfish greed, he could not go about the farm without
observing how much he had lost.

One summer evening in a thoughtful mood he was walking homewards, and
wishing that the meadows were mown. Plunged in such reflections, he
met a neighbour, who at once asked the cause of his trouble. Daniel
turned to point to the meadows, and as he did so he saw the fairy, in
an attitude of rapt attention, stooping behind the hedgerow as though
anxious to overhear the conversation. 'Yo' miss your neet-mon?' said
the neighbour. The old man thought that the time was come to make his
peace with offended royalty, and with a cunning glance in the
direction of the hiding-place, he answered, 'I do, Abrum, and may God
bless Puck, th' King o'th' Fayrees.'{5} There was a startled cry from
behind the hedgerow, and both men turned in that direction, but there
was nothing to be observed. The fairy had vanished, never again to be
seen in Daniel Burton's fields. That night the work was left undone
even inside the farm-house, and thenceforward when the kitchen needed
cleaning, water was wanted from the well, or when milk had to be
churned, the maids had to get up early and do the work, for Puck, King
of the Fairies, would not touch either mop or pail.



MOTHER AND CHILD.


The tenants of Plumpton Hall had retired to rest somewhat earlier than
was their wont, for it was the last night of November.

The old low rooms were in darkness, and all was silent as the grave;
for though the residents, unfortunately for themselves, were not
asleep, they held their breath, and awaited in fear the first stroke
of the hour from the old clock in the kitchen. Suddenly the sound of
hurried footsteps broke the silence; but with sighs of relief the
terrified listeners found that the noise was made by a belated
wayfarer, almost out of his wits with fright, but who was unable to
avoid passing the hall, and who, therefore, ran by the haunted
building as quickly as his legs could carry him. The sensation of
escape, however, was of but short duration, for the hammer commenced
to strike; and no sooner had the last stroke of eleven startled the
echoes than loud thuds, as of a heavy object bumping upon the stairs,
were heard.

The quaking occupants of the chambers hid their heads beneath the
bedclothes, for they knew that an old-fashioned oak chair was on its
way down the noble staircase, and was sliding from step to step as
though dragged along by an invisible being who had only one hand at
liberty.

If any one had dared to follow that chair across the wide passage and
into the wainscoted parlour, he would have been startled by the sight
of a fire blazing in the grate, whence, ere the servants retired, even
the very embers had been removed, and in the chair, the marvellous
movement of which had so frightened all the inmates of the hall, he
would have seen a beautiful woman seated, with an infant at her
breast.

Year after year, on wild nights, when the snow was driven against the
diamond panes, and the cry of the spirit of the storm came up from the
sea, the weird firelight shone from the haunted room, and through the
house sounded a mysterious crooning as the unearthly visitor softly
sang a lullaby to her infant. Lads grew up into grey-headed men in the
old house; and from youth to manhood, on the last night of each
November, they had heard the notes, but none of them ever had caught,
even when custom had somewhat deadened the terror which surrounded the
events of the much-dreaded anniversary, the words of the song the
ghostly woman sang. The maids, too, had always found the grate as it
was left before the visit--not a cinder or speck of dust remaining to
tell of the strange fire, and no one had ever heard the chair ascend
the stairs. Chair and fire and child and mother, however, were seen by
many a weary wayfarer, drawn to the house by the hospitable look of
the window, through which the genial glow of the burning logs shone
forth into the night, but who, by tapping at the pane and crying for
shelter, could not attract the attention of the pale nurse, clad in a
quaint old costume with lace ruff and ruffles, and singing a mournful
and melodious lullaby to the child resting upon her beautiful bosom.

Tradition tells of one of these wanderers, a footsore and miserable
seafaring man on the tramp, who, attracted by the welcome glare, crept
to the panes, and seeing the cosy-looking fire, and the Madonna-faced
mother tenderly nursing her infant, rapped at the glass and begged for
a morsel of food and permission to sleep in the hayloft--and, finding
his pleadings unanswered, loudly cursed the woman who could sit and
enjoy warmth and comfort and turn a deaf ear to the prayers of the
homeless and hungry; upon which the seated figure turned the weird
light of its wild eyes upon him and almost changed him to stone--a
labourer, going to his daily toil in the early morn, finding the poor
wretch gazing fixedly through the window, against which his
terror-stricken face was closely pressed, his hair turned white by
fear, and his fingers convulsively clutching the casement.



THE SPECTRAL CAT.


Long ago--so long, in fact, that the date has been lost in
obscurity--the piously-inclined inhabitants of the then thickly wooded
and wild country stretching from the sea-coast to Rivington Pike and
Hoghton determined to erect a church at Whittle-le-Woods, and a site
having been selected, the first stone was laid with all the ceremony
due to so important and solemn a proceeding. Assisted by the labours
as well as by the contributions of the faithful, the good priest was
in high spirits; and as the close of the first day had seen the
foundations set out and goodly piles of materials brought upon the
ground ready for the future, he fell asleep congratulating himself
upon having lived long enough to see the wish of his heart gratified.
What was his surprise, however, when, after arising at the break of
day, and immediately rushing to his window to gaze upon the work, he
could not perceive either foundation or pile of stone, the field in
which he expected to observe the promising outline being as green and
showing as few marks of disturbance as the neighbouring ones.{6}

'Surely I must have been dreaming,' said the good man, as he stood
with rueful eyes at the little casement, 'for there are not any signs
either of the gifts or the labours of the pious sons of the church.'

In this puzzled frame of mind, and with a heavy sigh, he once more
courted sleep. He had not slumbered long, however, when loud knocks at
the door of his dwelling and lusty cries for Father Ambrose disturbed
him. Hastily attiring himself, he descended, to find a concourse of
people assembled in front of the house; and no sooner had he opened
the door than a mason cried out--

'Father Ambrose, where are the foundations we laid yesterday, and
where is the stone from the quarry?'

'Then I did not simply dream that I had blessed the site?' said the
old man, inquiringly.

Upon which there was a shout of laughter, and a sturdy young fellow
asked--

'And I did not dream that I carted six loads from the quarry?'

'Th' Owd Lad's hed a hand int',' said a labourer, 'for t' fielt's as
if fuut hed never stept int'.'

The priest and his people at once set off to inspect the site, and
sure enough it was in the state described by the mason; cowslips and
buttercups decking the expanse of green, which took different shades
as the zephyr swept over it.

'Well, I'm fair capped,' said a grey-headed old farmer. 'I've hed
things stown afoor today, bud they'n generally bin things wi' feathers
on an' good to heyt an' not th' feaundations uv a church. Th' warlt's
gerrin' ter'ble wickit. We's hev' to bi lukkin' eawt for another
Noah's flood, I warrant.'

A peal of laughter followed this sally, but Father Ambrose, who was in
no mood for mirth, sternly remarked--'There is something here which
savoureth of the doings of Beelzebub;' and then he sadly turned away,
leaving the small crowd of gossips speculating upon the events of the
night. Before the father reached his dwelling, however, he heard his
name called by a rustic who was running along the road.

'Father Ambrose,' cried the panting messenger, 'here's the strangest
thing happened at Leyland. The foundations of a church and all sorts
of building materials have been laid in a field during the night, and
Adam the miller is vowing vengeance against you for having trespassed
on his land.'

The priest at once returned to the little crowd of people, who still
were gaping at the field from which all signs of labour had been so
wonderfully removed, and bade the messenger repeat the strange story,
which he did at somewhat greater length, becoming loquacious in the
presence of his equals, for he enjoyed their looks of astonishment.
When the astounding narrative had been told, the crowd at once started
for Leyland, their pastor promising to follow after he had fortified
himself with breakfast.

When the good man reached the village he had no need to inquire which
was Adam the miller's field, for he saw the crowd gathered in a
rich-looking meadow. As he opened the gate Adam met him, and without
ceremony at once accused him of having taken possession of his field.
'Peace, Adam,' said the priest. 'The field hath been taken not by me,
but by a higher power, either good or evil--I fear the latter,' and he
made his way to the people. True enough, the foundations were laid as
at Whittle, and even the mortar was ready for the masons. 'I am loth
to think that this is a sorry jest of the Evil One,' said Father
Ambrose; 'ye must help me to outwit him, and to give him his labour
for his pains. Let each one carry what he can, and, doubtless, Adam
will be glad to cart the remainder,'--a proposition the burly miller
agreed to at once. Accordingly each of the people walked off with a
piece of wood, and Adam started for his team. Before long the field
was cleared, and ere sunset the foundations were again laid in the
original place, and a goodly piece of wall had been built.

Grown wise by experience, the priest selected two men to watch the
place during the night. Naturally enough, these worthies, who by no
means liked the task, but were afraid to decline it, determined to
make themselves as comfortable as they could under the circumstances.

They therefore carried to the place a quantity of food and drink, and
a number of empty sacks, with which they constructed an impromptu
couch near the blazing wood fire. Notwithstanding the seductive
influence of the liquor, they were not troubled with much company, for
the few people who resided in the vicinity did not care to remain out
of doors late after what Father Ambrose had said as to the proceeding
having been a joke of Satan's. The priest, however, came to see the
men, and after giving them his blessing, and a few words of advice, he
left them to whatever the night might bring forth. No sooner had he
gone than the watchers put up some boards to shield them from the
wind, and, drawing near to the cheerful fire, they began to partake of
a homely but plentiful supper. Considering how requisite it was that
they should be in possession of all their wits, perhaps it would have
been better had not a large bottle been in such frequent requisition,
for, soon after the meal was ended, what with the effects of the
by-no-means weak potion, the warmth and odour sent forth by the
crackling logs, and the musical moaning of the wind in the branches
overhead, they began to feel drowsy, to mutter complaints against the
hardship of their lot, and to look longingly upon the heap of sacks.

'If owt comes,' said the oldest of the two, 'one con see it as well as
two, an' con wakken t' tother--theerfore I'm in for a nod.' And he at
once flung himself upon the rude bed.

'Well,' said the younger one, who was perched upon a log close to the
fire, 'hev thi own way, an' tha'll live lunger; but I'se wakken tha
soon, an' hev a doze mysen. That's fair, isn't it?'

To this question there was no response, for the old man was already
asleep. The younger one immediately reached the huge bottle, and after
drinking a hearty draught from it placed it within reach, saying, as
he did so--

'I'm nooan freetunt o' thee, as heaw it is! Thaart not Belsybub, are
ta?'

Before long he bowed his head upon his hands, and gazing into the fire
gave way to a pleasant train of reflections, in which the miller's
daughter played a by-no-means unimportant part. In a little while he,
too, began to doze and nod, and the ideas and thronging fancies soon
gave way to equally delightful dreams.

Day was breaking when the pair awoke; the fire was out, and the noisy
birds were chirping their welcome to the sun. For a while the watchers
stared at each other with well-acted surprise.

'I'm freetunt tha's o'erslept thysel',' said the young fellow; 'and
rayly I do think as I've bin noddin' a bit mysen.' And then, as he
turned round, 'Why, it's gone ageean! Jacob, owd lad! th' foundation,
an' th' wo's, an' o th' lots o' stooans are off t' Leyland ageean!'

The field was again clear, grass and meadow flowers covering its
expanse, and after a long conference the pair determined that the best
course for them to pursue would be that of immediately confessing to
Father Ambrose that they had been asleep. Accordingly they wended
their way to his house, and having succeeded in arousing him, and
getting him to the door, the young man informed him that once more the
foundations were missing.

'What took them?' asked the priest. To which awkward query the old man
replied, that they did not see anything.

'Then ye slept, did ye?' asked the Father.

'Well,' said the young man, 'we did nod a minnit or two; but we wir
toired wi' watchin' so closely; an', yo' see, that as con carry th'
foundations ov a church away connot hev mich trouble i' sendin'
unlarnt chaps loike Jacob an' me to sleep agen eaur will.'

This ended the colloquy, for Father Ambrose laughed heartily at the
ready answer. Shortly afterwards, as on the preceding day, the
messenger from Leyland arrived with tidings that the walls had again
appeared in Adam's field. Again they were carted back, and placed in
their original position, and once more was a watch set, the priest
taking the precaution of remaining with the men until near upon
midnight. Almost directly after he had left the field one of the
watchers suddenly started from his seat, and cried--

'See yo', yonder, there's summat wick!'

Both men gazed intently, and saw a huge cat, with great
unearthly-looking eyes, and a tail with a barbed end. Without any
seeming difficulty this terrible animal took up a large stone, and
hopped off with it, returning almost immediately for another. This
strange performance went on for some time, the two observers being
nearly petrified by terror; but at length the younger one said--

'I'm like to put a stop to yon wark, or hee'll say win bin asleep
ageean,' and seizing a large piece of wood he crept down the field,
the old man following closely behind. When he reached the cat, which
took no notice of his approach, he lifted his cudgel, and struck the
animal a heavy blow on its head. Before he had time to repeat it,
however, the cat, with a piercing scream, sprang upon him, flung him
to the ground, and fixed its teeth in his throat. The old man at once
fled for the priest. When he returned with him, cat, foundations, and
materials were gone; but the dead body of the poor watcher was there,
with glazed eyes, gazing at the pitiless stars.

After this terrible example of the power of the fiendish labourer it
was not considered advisable to attempt a third removal, and the
building was proceeded with upon the site at Leyland chosen by the
spectre.

The present parish church covers the place long occupied by the
original building; and although all the actors in this story passed
away centuries ago, a correct likeness of the cat has been preserved,
and may be seen by the sceptical.{7}



THE CAPTURED FAIRIES.


There once lived in the little village of Hoghton two idle,
good-for-nothing fellows, who, somehow or other, managed to exist
without spending the day, from morn to dewy eve, at the loom. When
their more respectable neighbours were hard at work they generally
were to be seen either hanging about the doorway of the little
ale-house or playing at dominoes inside the old-fashioned hostelry;
and many a time in broad daylight their lusty voices might be heard as
they trolled forth the hearty poaching ditty,

    'It's my delight, on a shiny night.'

It was understood that they had reason to sympathise with the
sentiments expressed in the old ballad. Each was followed by a ragged,
suspicious-looking lurcher; and as the four lounged about the place
steady-going people shook their heads, and prophesied all sorts of
unpleasant terminations to so unsatisfactory a career. So far as the
dogs were concerned the dismal forebodings were verified, for from
poaching in the society of their masters the clever lurchers took to
doing a little on their own account, and both were shot in the pursuit
of game by keepers, who were only too glad of an opportunity of
ridding the neighbourhood of such misdirected intelligence. Soon after
this unfortunate event, the two men, who themselves had a narrow
escape, had their nets taken; and, as they were too poor to purchase
others, and going about to borrow such articles was equivalent to
accusing their friends of poaching habits, they were reduced to the
necessity of using sacks whenever they visited the squire's fields.

One night, after climbing the fence and making their way to a
well-stocked warren, they put in a solitary ferret and rapidly fixed
the sacks over the burrows. They did not wait long in anxious
expectation of an exodus before there was a frantic rush, and after
hastily grasping the sacks tightly round the necks, and tempting their
missionary from the hole, they crept through the hedgerow, and at a
sharp pace started for home. For some time they remained unaware of
the nature of their load, and they were congratulating themselves upon
the success which had crowned their industry, when suddenly there came
a cry from one of the prisoners, 'Dick, wheer art ta?' The poachers
stood petrified with alarm; and almost immediately a voice from the
other bag piped out--

    'In a sack,
    On a back,
    Riding up Hoghton Brow.'{8}

The terrified men at once let their loads fall, and fled at the top of
their speed, leaving behind them the bags full of fairies, who had
been driven from their homes by the intruding ferret. Next morning,
however, the two poachers ventured to the spot where they had heard
the supernatural voices. The sacks neatly folded were lying at the
side of the road, and the men took them up very tenderly, as though in
expectation of another mysterious utterance, and crept off with them.

Need it be said that those bags were not afterwards used for any
purpose more exciting than the carriage of potatoes from the
previously neglected bit of garden, the adventure having quite cured
the men of any desire to 'pick up' rabbits.

Like most sudden conversions, however, that of the two poachers into
hard-working weavers was regarded with suspicion by the inhabitants of
the old-world village, and in self-defence the whilom wastrels were
forced to tell the story of the imprisonment of the fairies. The
wonderful narrative soon got noised abroad; and as the changed
characters, on many a summer evening afterwards, sat hard at work in
their loom-house, and, perhaps almost instinctively, hummed the old
ditty,

    'It's my delight, on a shiny night,'

the shock head of a lad would be protruded through the honeysuckle
which almost covered the casement, as the grinning youngster, who had
been patiently waiting for the weaver to commence his song and give an
opportunity for the oft-repeated repartee, cried, 'Nay, it isn't thi
delight; "Dick, wheer art ta?"'



THE PILLION LADY.


It was on a beautiful night in the middle of summer that Humphrey
Dobson, after having transacted a day's business at Garstang market,
and passed some mirthful hours with a number of jovial young fellows
in the best parlour of the Ffrances Arms, with its oak furniture and
peacock feathers, mounted his steady-going mare, and set off for home.
He had got some distance from the little town, and was rapidly nearing
a point where the road crossed a stream said to be haunted by the
spirit of a female who had been murdered many years back; and although
the moon was shining brightly, and the lonely rider could see far
before him, there was one dark spot overshadowed by trees a little in
advance which Humphrey feared to reach. He felt a thrill of terror as
he suddenly remembered the many strange stories told of the headless
woman whose sole occupation and delight seemed to be that of
terrifying travellers; but, with a brave endeavour to laugh off his
fears, he urged his horse forward, and attempted to troll forth the
burden of an old song:--

    'He rode and he rode till he came to the dooar,
    And Nell came t' oppen it, as she'd done afooar:
    "Come, get off thy horse," she to him did say,
    "An' put it i'th' stable, an' give it some hay."'

It would not do, however; and suddenly he put spurs to the mare and
galloped towards the little bridge. No sooner did the horse's hoofs
ring upon the stones than Humphrey heard a weird and unearthly laugh
from beneath the arch, and, as the animal snorted and bounded forward,
the young fellow felt an icy arm glide round his waist and a light
pressure against his back. Drops of perspiration fell from his brow,
and his heart throbbed wildly, but he did not dare to look behind lest
his worst fears should be verified, and he should behold 'th' boggart
o'th' bruk.'

As though conscious of its ghastly burden, the old mare ran as she
never had run before; the hedgerows and trees seemed to fly past,
while sparks streamed from the flints in the road, and in an
incredibly short space of time the farm-house was reached.
Instinctively, Humphrey tried to guide the mare into the yard, but his
efforts were powerless, for the terrified animal had got the bit in
her teeth, and away she sped past the gateway.

As the rider was thus borne away, another sepulchral laugh broke the
silence, but this time it sounded so close to the horseman's ear that
he involuntarily looked round.

He found that the figure, one of whose arms was twined round his
waist, was not the headless being of whom he had heard so many fearful
narratives, but another and a still more terrible one, for, grinning
in a dainty little hood, and almost touching his face, there was a
ghastly skull, with eyeless sockets, and teeth gleaming white in the
clear moonlight.

Petrified by fear, he could not turn his head away, and, as the mare
bore him rapidly along, ever and anon a horrid derisive laugh sounded
in his ears as for a moment the teeth parted and then closed with a
sudden snap. Terrified as he was, however, he noticed that the arm
which encircled his body gradually tightened around him, and putting
down his hand to grasp it he found it was that of a fleshless
skeleton.

How long he rode thus embraced by a spectre he knew not, but it seemed
an age.

Suddenly, however, as at a turn in the road the horse stumbled and
fell, Humphrey, utterly unprepared for any such occurrence, was thrown
over the animal's head and stunned by the fall.

When he recovered full consciousness it was daybreak. The sun was
rising, the birds were singing in the branching foliage overhead, and
the old mare was quietly grazing at a distance. With great difficulty,
for he was faint through loss of blood, and lame, he got home and told
his story. There were several stout men about the farm who professed
to disbelieve it, and pretended to laugh at the idea of a skeleton
horsewoman, who, without saying with your leave or by your leave, had
ridden pillion with the young master, but it was somewhat remarkable
that none of them afterwards could be induced to cross the bridge over
the haunted stream after 'th' edge o' dark.'



THE FAIRY FUNERAL.


There are few spots in Lancashire more likely to have been peopled by
fairies than that portion of the highway which runs along the end of
Penwortham wood.

At all times the locality is very beautiful, but it is especially so
in summer, when the thin line of trees on the one side of the road and
the rustling wood upon the other cast a welcome shade upon the
traveller, who can rest against the old railings, and look down upon a
rich expanse of meadow-land and corn-fields, bounded in the distance
by dim, solemn-looking hills, and over the white farm-houses, snugly
set in the midst of luxurious vegetation. From this vantage-ground a
flight of steps leads down to the well of St. Mary, the water of
which, once renowned for its miraculous efficacy, is as clear as
crystal and of never-ceasing flow.

To this sacred neighbourhood thousands of pilgrims have wended their
way; and although the legend of the holy well has been lost, it is
easy to understand with what superstitious reverence the place would
be approached by those whose faith was of a devout and unquestioning
kind, and what feelings would influence those whose hearts were heavy
with the weight of a great sorrow as they descended the steps worn by
the feet of their countless predecessors.

From the little spring a pathway winds across meadows and through
corn-fields to the sheltered village, and a little further along the
highway a beautiful avenue winds from the old lodge gates to the
ancient church and priory. Wide as is this road it is more than shaded
by the tall trees which tower on each side, their topmost branches
almost interlaced, the sunbeams passing through the green network, and
throwing fantastic gleams of light upon the pathway, along which so
many have been carried to the quiet God's Acre.

At the end of this long and beautiful walk stands the old priory, no
longer occupied by the Benedictines from Evesham, the silvery sound of
whose voices at eventide used to swell across the rippling Ribble;
and, a little to the right of the pile, the Church of St. Mary, with
its background of the Castle Hill.

By the foot of this Ancient British and Roman outlook there is a
little farm-house, with meadow land stretching away to the broad
river; and one night, fifty or sixty years ago, two men, one of whom
was a local 'cow-doctor,' whose duties had compelled him to remain
until a late hour, set out from this dwelling to walk home to the
straggling village of Longton. It was near upon midnight when they
stepped forth, but it was as light as mid-day, the moon shining in all
her beauty, and casting her glamour upon the peaceful scene. So quiet
was it that it seemed as though even the Zephyrs were asleep. There
was not a breath of wind, and not a leaf rustled or a blade of grass
stirred, and had it not been for the sounds of the footsteps of the
two men, who were rapidly ascending the rough cart-track winding up
the side of the hill, all would have been as still as death. The sweet
silence was a fitting one, for in the graveyard by the side of the
lane through which the travellers were passing, and over the low
moss-covered wall of which might be seen the old-fashioned tombstones,
erect like so many sentinels marking the confines of the battle-field
of life, hundreds were sleeping the sleep with which only the music of
the leaves, the sough of the wind, and the sigh of the sea seem in
harmony.

As the two men opened the gate at the corner of the churchyard, the
old clock sounded the first stroke of midnight.

'That's twelve on 'em,' said the oldest of the two.

'Ay, Adam,' said the other, a taller and much younger man. 'Another
day's passin' away, an' it con't dee wi'eaut tellin' everybody; yet
ther's bod few on us as tez onny notice on't, for we connot do to be
towd as wer toime's growin' bod short. I should think as tha dusn't
care to hear th' clock strike, Adam, to judge bith' colour o' thi
toppin', for tha 'rt gerrin' varra wintry lookin'.'

The old man chuckled at this sally, and then said, slowly and drily:--

'Speyk for thisen, Robin--speyk for thisen; an' yet why should ta
speyk at o? Choilt as tha are--an' tha art nobbut a choilt, clivver as
tha fancies thisen--tha 'rt owd enough to mind as it's nod olus th'
grey-heeoded uns as dees th' fost. Th' chickins fo' off th' peeark
mooar oftener nor th' owd brids. Ther's monny an owd tree wi' nobbud a
twothree buds o' green abaat it, to show as it wur yung wonst, as
tha'd hev herd wark to delve up, th' roots bein' so deep i'th' graand;
an' ther's monny a rook o' young-lukkin' uns as tha met poo up as
yezzy as a hondful o' sallet. It teks leetnin' to kill th' owd oak,
but th' fost nippin' woint off th' Martch yon soon puts th' bonnie
spring posies out o' seet. If I'm growin' owd, let's hope I'm roipnin'
as weel. Tha'rt not th' fost bit of a lad as thowt heer baan to last o
th' tothers aat, an' as hed hardly toime to finish his crowin' afoor
th' sexton clapt o honful o' sond i' his meauth.'

This conversation brought the two beyond the gate and some distance
along the avenue, in which the moonlight was somewhat toned by the
thickness of the foliage above, and they were rapidly nearing the
lodge gates, when suddenly the solemn sound of a deep-toned bell
broke the silence. Both men stopped and listened intently.

'That's th' passin'-bell,'{9} said Adam. 'Wodever con be up? I never
knew it rung at this toime o'th' neet afooar.'

'Mek less racket, will ta,' said Robin. 'Led's keep count an' see heaw
owd it is.'

Whilst the bell chimed six-and-twenty both listeners stood almost
breathless, and then Adam said:--

'He's thy age, Robin, chuz who he is.'

'Ther wer no leet i 'th' belfry as wi come by, as I see on,' said the
young man, 'I'd rayther be i' bed nor up theer towlin' ad this toime,
wudn't tha?'

'Yoi,' said Adam. 'But owd Jemmy dusn't care, an' why should he? Hee's
bin amung th' deeod to' long to be freet'nt on 'em neet or day, wake
an' fable as he is. I dar' say hee's fun aat afoor neaw as they'r not
varra rough to dale wi'. Ther's nod mich feightin i'th' bury-hoyle,
beaut ids wi' th' resurrectioners. Bud led's get to'art whoam, lad;
we're loikely enough to larn o abaat it to-morn.'

Without more words they approached the lodge, but to their great
terror, when they were within a few yards from the little dwelling,
the gates noiselessly swung open, the doleful tolling of the
passing-bell being the only sound to be heard. Both men stepped back
affrighted as a little figure clad in raiment of a dark hue, but
wearing a bright red cap, and chanting some mysterious words in a low
musical voice as he walked, stepped into the avenue.

'Ston back, mon,' cried Adam, in a terrified voice--'ston back; it's
th' feeorin; bud they'll not hort tha if tha dusna meddle wi' um.'

The young man forthwith obeyed his aged companion, and standing
together against the trunk of a large tree, they gazed at the
miniature being stepping so lightly over the road, mottled by the
stray moonbeams. It was a dainty little object; but although neither
Adam nor Robin could comprehend the burden of the song it sang, the
unmistakable croon of grief with which each stave ended told the
listeners that the fairy was singing a requiem. The men kept perfectly
silent, and in a little while the figure paused and turned round, as
though in expectation, continuing, however, its mournful notes.
By-and-by the voices of other singers were distinguished, and as they
grew louder the fairy standing in the roadway ceased to render the
verse, and sang only the refrain, and a few minutes afterwards Adam
and Robin saw a marvellous cavalcade pass through the gateway. A
number of figures, closely resembling the one to which their attention
had first been drawn, walked two by two, and behind them others with
their caps in their hands, bore a little black coffin, the lid of
which was drawn down so as to leave a portion of the contents
uncovered. Behind these again others, walking in pairs, completed the
procession. All were singing in inexpressibly mournful tones, pausing
at regular intervals to allow the voice of the one in advance to be
heard, as it chanted the refrain of the song, and when the last couple
had passed into the avenue, the gates closed as noiselessly as they
had opened.

As the bearers of the burden marched past the two watchers, Adam bent
down, and, by the help of a stray gleam of moonlight, saw that there
was a little corpse in the coffin.

'Robin, mi lad,' said he, in a trembling voice and with a scared look,
'it's th' pictur o' thee as they hev i' th' coffin!'

With a gasp of terror the young man also stooped towards the
bearers, and saw clearly enough that the face of the figure borne by
the fairies indeed closely resembled his own, save that it was ghastly
with the pallor and dews of death.

The procession had passed ere he was able to speak, for, already much
affrighted by the appearance of the fairies, the sight of the little
corpse had quite unnerved him. Clinging in a terrified manner to the
old man, he said, in a broken voice--

'It raley wor me, Adam! Dust think it's a warnin', an' I'm abaat to
dee?'

The old man stepped out into the road as he replied--

'It wur a quare seet, Robin, no daat; bud I've sin monny sich i' mi
toime, an' theyne come to nowt i' th' end. Warnin' or not, haaever,'
he added, with strong common sense, 'ther'll be no harm done bi thee
livin' as if it wur one.'

The mournful music of the strange singers and the solemn sound of the
passing bell could still be heard, and the two awe-struck men stood
gazing after the cavalcade.

'It mon be a warnin', again said Robin, 'an' I wish I'd axed um haa
soon I've to dee. Mebbee they'n a towd me.'

'I don't think they wod,' said Adam. 'I've olus heeard as they'r rare
and vext if they'r spokken to. Theyn happen a done tha some lumberment
if tha 'ad axed owt.'

'They could but a kilt mi,' replied Robin, adding, with that grim
humour which so often accompanies despair, 'an' they're buryin' mi
neaw, ar'nod they?' Then in a calm and firm voice he said--'I'm baan
to ax 'em, come wod will. If tha 'rt freetent tha con goo on whoam.'

'Nay, nay,' said Adam warmly, 'I'm nooan scaret. If tha'rt for
catechoizing um, I'll see th' end on it.'

Without further parley the men followed after and soon overtook the
procession, which was just about to enter the old churchyard, the
gates of which, like those of the lodge, swung open apparently of
their own accord, and no sooner did Robin come up with the bearers
than, in a trembling voice, he cried--

'Winnot yo' tell mi haaw lung I've to live?'

There was not any answer to this appeal, the little figure in front
continuing to chant its refrain with even deepened mournfulness.
Imagining that he was the leader of the band, Robin stretched out his
hand and touched him. No sooner had he done this than, with startling
suddenness, the whole cavalcade vanished, the gates banged to with a
loud clang, deep darkness fell upon everything, the wind howled and
moaned round the church and the tombstones in the graveyard, the
branches creaked and groaned overhead, drops of rain pattered upon the
leaves, mutterings of thunder were heard, and a lurid flash of
lightning quivered down the gloomy avenue.

'I towd tha haa it ud be,' said Adam, and Robin simply answered--

'I'm no worse off than befooar. Let's mak' toart whoam; bud say nowt
to aar fowk--it ud nobbut freeten th' wimmin.'

Before the two men reached the lodge gates a terrible storm burst over
them, and through it they made their way to the distant village.

A great change came over Robin, and from being the foremost in every
countryside marlock he became serious and reserved, invariably at the
close of the day's work rambling away, as though anxious to shun
mankind, or else spending the evening at Adam's talking over 'th'
warnin'.' Strange to say, about a month afterwards he fell from a
stack, and after lingering some time, during which he often
deliriously rambled about the events of the dreadful night, he dozed
away, Old Jemmy, the sexton, had another grave to open, and the
grey-headed Adam was one of the bearers who carried Robin's corpse
along the avenue in which they had so short a time before seen the
fairy funeral.{10}



THE CHIVALROUS DEVIL.


About half-a-century ago there lived, in a lane leading away from a
little village near Garstang, a poor idiot named Gregory. He was at
once the sport and the terror of the young folks. Uniformly kind to
them, carefully convoying them to the spots where, in his lonely
rambles, he had noticed birds' nests, or pressing upon them the wild
flowers he had gathered in the neighbouring woods and thickets, he
received at their ungrateful hands all kinds of ill treatment, not
always stopping short of personal violence. In this respect, however,
the thoughtless children only followed the example set them by their
elders, for seldom did poor Gregory pass along the row of cottages,
dignified by the name of street, which constituted the village,
without an unhandsome head being projected from the blacksmith's or
cobbler's shop, or from a doorway, and a cruel taunt being sent after
the idiot, who, in his ragged clothing, with his handful of harebells
and primroses, and a wreath of green leaves round his battered, old
hat, jogged along towards his mother's cottage, singing as he went, in
a pathetic monotone, a snatch of an old Lancashire ballad.

In accordance with that holy law which, under such circumstances,
influences woman's heart, the mother loved this demented lad with
passionate fondness, all the tenderness with which her nature had been
endowed having been called forth by the needs of the afflicted child,
whose only haven of refuge from the harshness of his surroundings and
the cruelty of those who, had not they been as ignorant as the hogs
they fed, would have pitied and protected him, was her breast.
Lavishing all her affection upon the poor lad, she had no kindness to
spare for those who tormented him; and abstaining from any of those
melodramatic and vulgar curses with which a person of less education
would have followed those who abused her child, she studiously held
herself aloof from her neighbours, and avoided meeting them, except
when she was compelled to purchase food or other articles for her
little household. This conduct gave an excuse for much ill
feeling, and as the woman had no need to toil for her daily bread, and
as her cottage was the neatest in the district, there was much
jealousy.

One night, at a jovial gathering, it was arranged that a practical
joke, of what was considered a very humorous kind, should be played
upon the idiot. The boors selected one of their party, whose task it
should be to attire himself in a white sheet, and to emerge into the
lane when the poor lad should make his appearance. In accordance with
this plan the pack of hobbledehoys watched the cottage night after
night, in the hope of seeing the idiot leave the dwelling, and at
length their patience was rewarded. They immediately hid themselves in
the ditch, while the mock ghost concealed himself behind the trunk of
a tree. The lad, not suspecting any evil, came along, humming, in his
melancholy monotone, the usual fragment, and just before he reached
the tree the sheeted figure slowly stepped forth to the accompaniment
of the groanings and bellowings of his associates. They had expected
to see the idiot flee in terror; but instead of so doing, he laughed
loudly at the white figure, and then suddenly, as the expression of
his face changed to one of intense interest, he shouted, 'Oh, oh! a
black one! a black one!' Sure enough, a dark and terrible figure stood
in the middle of the road. The mock ghost fled, with his companions at
his heels, the real spectre chasing them hotly, and the idiot bringing
up the rear, shouting at the top of his voice, 'Run, black devil!
catch white devil!'

They were not long in reaching the village, down the street of which
they ran faster than they ever had run before. Several of them darted
into the smithy, where the blacksmith was scattering the sparks right
and left as he hammered away at the witch-resisting horseshoes, and
others fled into the inn, where they startled the gathered company of
idle gossips; but the mock ghost kept on wildly, looking neither to
the left nor to the right. The idiot had kept close behind the phantom
at the heels of the mock ghost, and when at the end of the village the
spectre vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, the lad ran a little
faster and took its place. Of this, however, the white-sheeted young
fellow was not aware, and, fearing every moment that the shadow would
catch him in its awful embrace, he dashed down a by lane. Before he
got very far, however, the idiot, who had gradually been lessening the
distance between them, overtook and seized him by the neck. With a
terrible cry the rustic fell headlong into the ditch, dragging Gregory
with him as he fell. The latter was soon upon his feet, and dancing
about the lane as he cried, 'Catch white devil! catch white devil!'
The mock ghost, however, lay quiet enough among the nettles.

Roused by the story told by the affrighted ones who had rushed so
unceremoniously into their presence, as well as by the startling cry
of 'Run, black devil! catch white devil!' which the idiot had shouted
as he sped past the door, several of the topers emerged from their
abiding place; and as nothing could be seen of either mock ghost,
spectre, or idiot, they bravely determined to go in search of them. As
they passed along the road from the village, their attention was
attracted by the cries which seemed to come from the lonely lane, and
somewhat nervously making their way along it, they soon saw the idiot
dancing about the side of the ditch. With a sudden access of courage,
due to the presence of anything human, however weak, they hurried
along, and as they drew nearer, the idiot paused in his gambols, and
pointed to the mock ghost, who lay stretched in the shadow of the
hedgerow. He was soon carried away to the village, where he lay ill
for weeks.

The kindness of Gregory's mother to the sick lad's parents, who were
very poor and could ill afford to provide the necessary comforts his
condition required, caused public feeling to turn in her favour, and
those who formerly had been loudest in defaming her became her warmest
eulogists. Between the idiot and the young fellow, too, a strange
friendship sprang up, and the pair might often be seen passing along
the lanes, the idiot chanting his melancholy fragments to the
companion whose cap he had adorned with wreaths of wild flowers.

With such a protector the idiot was quite safe, and, indeed, had the
village children been wishful to torment Gregory, if the presence of
this companion had not sufficed to restrain them, they had only to
remember that it was in defence of poor Gregory the Evil One himself
had raced through the village.{11}



THE ENCHANTED FISHERMAN.


There are few views in the north of England more beautiful than that
which is seen from Morecambe, as the spectator looks over the
beautiful bay, with its crescent coast-line of nearly fifty miles in
extent. At low water the dazzling sands, streaked by silvery deceptive
channels, stretch to the distant glimmering sea, the music of whose
heavings comes but faintly on the gentle breeze; but at tide-time a
magnificent expanse of rolling waves sweeps away to Peel, and is
dotted over with red-sailed fishing boats and coasters. Far to the
north the huge heather-covered Furness Fells stand sentinel-like over
the waters, and above them, dimly seen through the faint blue haze,
tower the grand mountains of the magic lake country. The scene is full
of a sweet dream-like beauty; but there are times when the beautiful
is swallowed in the majestic, as the mists come creeping over the sea,
obscuring the coasts, and hiding everything save the white caps of the
waves gleaming in the darkness, through which the muttering diapasons
of the wind, as though in deep distress, sound mysteriously; or when,
in winter, the moon is hidden by scudding clouds, and the huge
rollers, driven before the breeze, dash themselves to death, as upon
the blast come the solemn boom of a signal gun, and the faint cries of
those in danger on the deep.

Years ago, however, before the little village of Poulton changed its
name, and began to dream of becoming a watering-place, with terraces
and hotels, instead of the picturesque, tumble-down huts of the
fishermen, against which, from time immemorial, the spray had been
dashed by the salt breezes, the only people who gazed upon the lovely
prospect were, with the exception of an occasional traveller, the
families of the toilers of the sea, and the rough-looking men
themselves. These hardy fellows, accustomed to a wild life, and whose
days from childhood had been spent on or by the sea, loved the deep
with as much tenderness as a strong man feels towards a weak and
wayward maiden, for they were familiar with its every mood, with the
soothing wash of its wavelets when the sunbeams kissed the foam-bells,
as they died on the white sands, and with the noise of the thunder of
the breakers chased up the beach by the roaring gales.

One evening a number of these men were seated in the cosy kitchen of
the John-o'-Gaunt, listening to 'Owd England' as he narrated some of
his strange experiences.

'I moind,' said he, 'when I was nobbut a bit of a lad, Tum Grisdale
bein' dreawnt; an' now as we're tawkin' abeaut th' dangers o' th'
sonds, yo'll mebbi hearken to th' tale. Poor Tum was th' best cockler
i' Hest Bank, an' as ust to th' sands as a choilt is to th' face o'
its mother; but for o that he wir dreawnt on 'em after o. I can co to
moind yet--for young as I wor I're owd enough to think a bit when owt
quare happent, an' th' seet o' th' deead bodies th' next ebb wir wi'
me day an' neet fur lung afterwart--th' day when Tum an' his missis
an' th' two lasses seet eawt o' seein' some relations o' th' missis's
soide, as livt i' th' Furness country yon, th' owd mon an' th'
dowters i' th' shandray, an' th' missis ridin' upo' th' cowt at th'
soide. It wir a gradely bonnie afternoon, at th' back eend o' th'
year. Th' day as they should o come back wir varra misty; an' abaat
th' edge o' dark, just as here an' theear a leet wir beginnin' to
twinkle i' th' windows, an' th' stars to peep aat, th' noise ov a cart
comin' crunchin' o'er th' beach tuk mi feyther to th' door. "Why,
yon's owd Tum Grisdale cart back ageean," he cried eaut. An' he dartit
eawt o' th' dur, an' me after, as fast as I could. A creawd o' folk
an' childer soon gathert reawnt, wonderin' what wir up; but neawt
could bi larnt, for though th' lasses as seet eawt, as breet an'
bonnie as posies o gillivers, wir theear i' th' shandray, they wir too
freetent an' dazed, an' too wake wi' th' weet an' cowd, to say a
whord. One thing, however, wir sewer enough, th' owd folk hedn't come
back; an' altho' th' toide then hed covert th' track, an' wir shinin'
i' th' moonleet, wheear th' mist could bi sin through, just as if it
hedn't mony a Hest Bank mon's life to answer for, a lot o' young
cocklers wir for startin' off theear an' then i' search on 'em. Th'
owder an' mooar expayrienced, heawiver, wodn't hear on it. Two lives
i' one day wir quoite enough, they said; so they o waitit till th'
ebb, an' then startit, me, loile as i'wir, among th' rest, for mi
feyther wir too tekken up i' talking to send me whoam. It wir a sad
outin', but it wir loively compaart wi' t' comin' back, for when we
tornt toart Hest Bank, th' strungest o' th' lads carriet owd Tum an'
his missis, for we hedn't getten far o'er th' sonds afooar we feawnt
th' poor owd lass, an' not far off, i' th' deep channel, owd Tum
hissel. They wir buriet i' th' owd church-yart, an' one o' th' lasses
wir laid aside on 'em, th' freet hevin' bin too mich for her. When t'
tother sister recovert a bit, an' could bide to talk abaat it, hoo
said as they geet lost i' th' mist, an' th' owd mon left 'em i' th'
shandray while he walkt a bit to foind th' channel. When he didn't
come back they geet freetent, but t' owd woman wodn't stir fray th'
spot till they heeart t' watters comin', an' then they went a bit fur,
but could find nowt o' Tum, though they thowt neaw an' then they could
heear him sheautin' to 'em. Th' sheawts, heawiver, geet fainter an'
fainter, an' at last stopt o' together. Givin' thersels up for lost,
they left th' reins to th' mare an' t' cowt. Th' poor owd lass wir
quoite daz't at th' absence o' Tum; an' as th' cowt wir swimmin'
across th' channel hoo lost her howd, an' wir carriet away. Th' lasses
knew neawt no mooar, th' wench olus said, till th' fowk run deawn to
th' cart uppo' th' beach. Hor as wir left, hoo wir olus quare at
after; an' hoo uset to walk alung t' bay at o heawers just at th'
toide toime, yo' known, an' it wir pitiful t' heear her when th' woint
wir a bit sriller nor usal, sayin' as hoo could heear her owd
fayther's voice as he sheauted when hee'd wander't fray 'em an'
couldn't foint way to 'em through t' mist. Hoo afterwarts went to
sarvice at Lankister, to a place as th' paason fun' for her, i' th'
idea o' th' change dooin' her good; but it worn't lung afooar th' news
come as hoo wir i' th' 'sylum, an' I heeart as hoo deed theear some
toime after.'

No sooner had the grey-headed old fisherman finished his story than
one of the auditors said, 'Hoo met weel fancy hoo heeart th' voice ov
her fayther, for monnie a neet, an' monnie another hev I heeart that
cry mysen. Yo' may stare, bud theear's mooar saands to be heeard i'
th' bay nor some o' yo' lads known on; an' I'm no choilt to be
freetent o' bein' i' th' dark. Why nobbut th' neet afooar last I
heeart a peal o' bells ringin' under th' watter.'{12} There was a
moment of surprise, for Roger Heathcote was not a likely man to be a
victim to his own fancies, or to be influenced by the superstitions
which clung to his fellows. Like the rest of his companions, he had
spent the greatest portion of his life away from land; and either
because he possessed keener powers of observation than they, or loved
nature more, and therefore watched her more closely, he had gradually
added to his store of knowledge, until he had become the recognised
authority on all matters connected with the dangerous calling by which
the men-folk of the little colony earned daily bread for their
families. As he was by no means addicted to yarns, looks of wonder
came over the faces of the listeners; and in deference to the wishes
of Old England, who pressed him as to what he had heard and seen,
Roger narrated the adventure embodied in this story.{13}

       *       *       *       *       *

The fisherman's little boat was dancing lightly on the rippling waters
of the bay.

The night was perfectly calm, the moon shining faintly through a thin
mist which rested on the face of the deep. It was nearly midnight, and
Roger was thinking of making for home, when he heard the sweet sounds
of a peal of bells. Not without astonishment, he endeavoured to
ascertain from what quarter the noises came, and, strange and unlikely
as it seemed, it appeared that the chimes rang up through the water,
upon which, with dreamy motion, his boat was gliding. Bending over the
side of the skiff he again heard with singular distinctness the music
of the bells pealing in weird beauty. For some time he remained in
this attitude, intently listening to the magical music, and when he
arose, the mist had cleared off, and the moon was throwing her lovely
light upon the waters, and over the distant fells. Instead, however,
of beholding a coast with every inch of which he was acquainted, Roger
gazed upon a district of which he knew nothing. There were mountains,
but they were not those whose rugged outlines were so vividly
impressed upon his memory. There was a beach, but it was not the one
where his little cottage stood with its light in the window and its
background of wind-bent trees. The estuary into which his boat was
gliding was not that of the Kent, with its ash and oak-covered crags.
Everything seemed unreal, even the streaming moonlight having an
unusual whiteness, and Roger rapidly hoisted his little sails, but
they only flapped idly against the mast, as the boat, in obedience to
an invisible and unknown agency, drifted along the mysterious looking
river. As the fisherman gazed in helpless wonder, gradually the water
narrowed, and in a short time a cove was gained, the boat grating upon
the gleaming sand. Roger at once jumped upon the bank, and no sooner
had he done so, than a number of little figures clad in green ran
towards him from beneath a clump of trees, the foremost of them
singing--

    To the home of elf and fay,
      To the land of nodding flowers,
    To the land of Ever Day
      Where all things own the Fay Queen's powers,
              Mortal come away!

and the remainder dancing in circles on the grass, and joining in the
refrain--

    To the home of elf and fay,
    To the land of Ever Day,
        Mortal come away!

The song finished, the little fellow who had taken the solo, tripped
daintily to Roger, and, with a mock bow, grasped one of the fingers of
the fisherman's hand, and stepped away as though anxious to lead him
from the water.

Assuming that he had come upon a colony of Greenies, and feeling
assured that such tiny beings could not injure him, even if anxious to
do so, Roger walked on with his conductor, the band dancing in a
progressing circle in front of them, until a wood was reached, when
the dancers broke up the ring and advanced in single file between the
trees. The light grew more and more dim, and when the cavalcade
reached the entrance to a cavern, Roger could hardly discern the
Greenies. Clinging to the little hand of his guide, however, the
undaunted fisherman entered the cave, and groped his way down a flight
of mossy steps. Suddenly he found himself in a beautiful glade, in
which hundreds of little figures closely resembling his escort, and
wearing dainty red caps, were disporting themselves and singing--

    Moonbeams kissing odorous bowers
    Light our home amid the flowers;

    While our beauteous King and Queen
    Watch us dance on rings of green.
      Rings of green, rings of green,
      Dance, dance, dance, on rings of green.

No sooner had the fisherman entered the glade than the whole party
crowded round him, but as they did so a strain of enchanting music was
heard, and the little beings hopped away again, and whirled round in a
fantastic waltz. Roger himself was so powerfully influenced by the
melody that he flung himself into the midst of the dancers, who
welcomed him with musical cries, and he capered about until sheer
fatigue forced him to sink to rest upon a flowery bank. Here, after
watching for a while the graceful gambols of the Greenies, and soothed
by the weird music, the sensuous odours, and the dreamy light, he fell
into a deep sleep. When he awoke from his slumber the fairies had
vanished, and the fisherman felt very hungry. No sooner, however, had
he wished for something to eat than on the ground before him there
appeared a goodly array of delicacies, of which, without more ado,
Roger partook.

'I'm in luck's way here,' he said to himself; 'It's not every day of
the week I see a full table like this. I should like to know where I
am, though.' As the wish passed his lips he saw before him a beautiful
little being, who said in a sweet low voice--

    In the land of nodding flowers,
    Where all things own the Fay Queen's powers!

The fisherman no sooner saw the exquisite face of the dainty Greenie
than he forgot altogether the rosy-cheeked wife at home, and fell
hopelessly over head and ears in love with the sweet vision. Gazing
into her beautiful eyes he blurted out, 'I don't care where it is if
you are there.' With a smile the queen, for it was indeed the queen,
seated herself at his side. 'Dost thou, Mortal, bow to my power?'
asked she. 'Ay, indeed, do I to the forgetfulness of everything but
thy bonny face,' answered Roger; upon which the queen burst into a
hearty fit of laughter, so musical, however, that for the life of him
the fisherman could not feel angry with her. 'If the king were to hear
thee talking thus thou wouldst pay dearly for thy presumption,' said
the Fay, as she rose and tripped away to the shadow of the trees. The
enraptured Roger endeavoured to overtake her before she reached the
oaks, but without success; and though he wandered through the wood
for hours, he did not again catch a glimpse of her. He gained an
appetite by the freak however, and no sooner had he wished for food
again than dishes of rich viands appeared before him.

'I wish I could get money at this rate,' said the fisherman, and the
words had hardly left his lips when piles of gold ranged themselves
within his reach. Roger rapidly filled his pockets with the glittering
coins, and even took the shoes from off his feet, and filled them
also, and then slung them round his neck by the strings.

'Now, if I could but get to my boat,' thought he, 'my fortune would be
made,' and accordingly he began to make his way in what he believed to
be the direction of the river. He had not proceeded very far, however,
when he emerged upon an open space surrounded by tall foxgloves,{14}
in all the beautiful bells of which dreamy-eyed little beings were
swinging lazily as the quiet zephyr rocked their perfumed dwellings.
Some of the Greenies were quite baby fairies not so large as Roger's
hand, but none of them seemed alarmed at the presence of a mortal. A
score of larger ones were hard at work upon the sward stitching
together moth and butterfly wings for a cloak for their Queen, who,
seated upon a mushroom, was smiling approvingly as she witnessed the
industry of her subjects. Roger felt a sudden pang as he observed her,
for although he was glad once more to behold the marvellous beauty of
her face, he was jealous of a dainty dwarf in a burnished suit of
beetles' wing cases and with a fantastic peaked cap in which a red
feather was coquettishly stuck, for this personage he suspected was
the King, and forgetting his desire to escape with the gold, and at
once yielding to his feelings, he flung himself on the luxuriant grass
near the little being whose weird loveliness had thrown so strange a
glamour over him, and without any thought or fear as to the
consequences he at once bent himself and kissed one of her dainty
sandalled feet. No sooner had he performed this rash act of devotion
than numberless blows fell upon him from all sides, but he was unable
to see any of the beings by whom he was struck. Instinctively the
fisherman flung his huge fists about wildly, but without hitting any
of the invisible Greenies, whose tantalising blows continued to fall
upon him. At length, however, wearying of the fruitless contest, he
roared out, 'I wish I were safe in my boat in the bay,' and almost
instantaneously he found himself in the little skiff, which was
stranded high and dry upon the Poulton beach. The shoes which he had
so recently filled with glittering pieces of gold and suspended round
his neck were again upon his feet, his pockets were as empty as they
were when he had put out to sea some hours before, and somewhat
dubious and very disgusted, in a few minutes he had crept off to bed.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the strange tale of the fisherman's wonderful adventure with the
hill folk was ended, the unbelievers did not hesitate to insinuate
that Roger had not been out in the bay at all, and that the land of
nodding flowers might be found by anyone who stayed as long and
chalked up as large a score at the John-o'-Gaunt as he had done on the
night when he heard the submerged bells and had so unusual a catch.

Others, however, being less sceptical, many were the little boats that
afterwards went on unsuccessful voyages in search of the mysterious
estuary and the colony of Greenies, and a year afterwards, when a
sudden gale swept over the restless face of the deep and cast Roger's
boat bottom upwards upon the sandy beach, many believed that the
fisherman had again found the land of Ever Day.



THE SANDS OF COCKER.


The quiet little village of Cockerham is hardly the spot one would
expect to find selected as a place of residence by a gentleman of
decidedly fast habits, and to whom a latch-key is indispensable; yet
once upon a time the Evil One himself, it is said, took up his
quarters in the go-to-bed-early hamlet. It hardly need be stated that
the undesirable resident caused no small stir in the hitherto drowsy
little place. Night after night he prowled about with clanking chains,
and shed an unpleasantly-suggestive odour of sulphur, that rose to the
diamond-paned windows and crept through cracks and chinks to the nasal
organs of the horrified villagers, who had been disturbed by the
ringing of the Satanic bracelets, and, fearing to sleep whilst there
was so strong a smell of brimstone about, lay awake, thinking of the
sins they had committed, or intended to commit if they escaped 'Old
Skrat.'

Before the wandering perfumer had thus, above a score of times,
gratuitously fumigated the villagers, a number of the more daring
ones, whose courage rose when they found that after all they were not
flown away with, resolved that they would have a meeting, at which the
unjustifiable conduct of a certain individual should be discussed, and
means be devised of ridding the village of his odoriferous presence.
In accordance with this determination, a gathering was announced for
noonday, for the promoters of the movement did not dare to assemble
after sunset to discuss such a subject. After a few cursory remarks
from the chairman, and a long and desultory discussion as to the best
way of getting rid of the self-appointed night watchman, it was
settled that the schoolmaster, as the most learned man in the place,
should be the deputation, and have all the honour and profit of an
interview with the nocturnal rambler.

Strange as it may appear, the pedagogue was nothing loath to accept
the office, for if there was one thing more than another for which he
had longed, it was an opportunity of immortalising himself; the daily
round of life in the village certainly affording but few chances of
winning deathless fame. He therefore at once agreed to take all the
risks if he might also have all the glory. Not that he purposed to go
to the Devil; no, the mountain should come to Mahomet; the Evil One
should have the trouble of coming to him.

His determination was loudly applauded by the assembled villagers,
each of whom congratulated himself upon an escape from the dangerous,
if noble, task of ridding the place of an intolerable nuisance.

There was no time to be lost, and a night or two afterwards, no sooner
had the clock struck twelve, than the schoolmaster, who held a branch
of ash and a bunch of vervain in his hand, chalked the conventional
circle{15} upon the floor of his dwelling, stepped within it, and in
a trembling voice began to repeat the Lord's Prayer backwards. When he
had muttered about half of the spell thunder began to roar in the
distance; rain splashed on the roof, and ran in streams from the
eaves; a gust of wind moaned round the house, rattling the loose
leaded panes, shaking the doors, and scattering the embers upon the
hearth. At the same time the solitary light, which had begun to burn a
pale and ghastly blue, was suddenly extinguished, as though by an
invisible hand; but the terrified schoolmaster was not long left in
darkness, for a vivid flash of lightning illuminated the little
chamber, and almost blinded the would-be necromancer, who tried to
gabble a prayer in the orthodox manner, but his tongue refused to
perform its office, and clave to the roof of his mouth.

At that moment, could he have made his escape, he would willingly have
given to the first comer all the glory he had panted to achieve; but
even had he dared to leave the magic circle, there was not time to do
so, for almost immediately there was a second blast of wind, before
which the trees bent like blades of grass, a second flash lighted up
the room, a terrible crash of thunder shook the house to its
foundations, and, as a number of evil birds, uttering doleful cries,
dashed themselves through the window, the door burst open, and the
schoolmaster felt that he was no longer alone.

An instantaneous silence, dreadful by reason of the contrast,
followed, and the moon peeped out between the driving clouds and threw
its light into the chamber. The birds perched themselves upon the
window sill and ceased to cry, and with fiery-looking eyes peered into
the room, and suddenly the trembling amateur saw the face of the dark
gentleman whose presence only a few minutes before he had so eagerly
desired.

Overpowered by the sight, his knees refused to bear him up, what
little hair had not been removed from his head by the stupidity of the
rising generation stood on end, and with a miserable groan he sank
upon his hands and knees, but, fortunately for himself, within the
magic ring, round which the Evil One was running rapidly. How long
this gratuitous gymnastic entertainment continued he knew not, for he
was not in a state of mind to judge of the duration of time, but it
seemed an age to the unwilling observer, who, afraid of having the
Devil behind him, and yielding to a mysterious mesmeric influence,
endeavoured, by crawling round backward, to keep the enemy's face in
front. At length, however, the saltatory fiend asked in a shrill and
unpleasant voice,

'Rash fool, what wantest thou with me? Couldst thou not wait until in
the ultimate and proper course of things we had met?'

Terrified beyond measure not only at the nature of the pertinent
question, but also by the insinuation and the piercing and horrible
tone in which it was spoken, the tenant of the circle knew not what
reply to make, and merely stammered and stuttered--

'Good Old Nick,{16} go away for ever, and'--

'Take thee with me,' interrupted the Satanic one quickly. 'Even so;
such is my intent.'

Upon this the poor wretch cried aloud in terror, and again the Evil
One began to hop round and round and round the ring, evidently in the
hope of catching a part of the body of the occupant projecting over
the chalk mark.

'Is there no escape,' plaintively asked the victim in his extremity,
'is there no escape?'

Upon this Old Nick suddenly stopped his gambols and quietly said,

'Three chances of escape shalt thou have,{17} but if thou failest,
then there is no appeal. Set me three tasks, and if I cannot perform
any one of them, then art thou free.'

There was a glimmer of hope in this, and the shivering necromancer
brightened up a little, actually rising from his ignoble position and
once more standing erect, as he gleefully said,

'I agree.'

'Ah, ah,' said the Evil One _sotto voce_.

'Count the raindrops on the hedgerows from here to Ellel,' cried the
schoolmaster.

'Thirteen,' immediately answered Satan, 'the wind I raised when I came
shook all the others off.'

'One chance gone,' said the wizard, whose knees again began to
manifest signs of weakness.

There was a short pause, the schoolmaster evidently taking time to
consider, for, after all, life, even in a place like Cockerham, was
sweet in comparison with what might be expected in the society of the
odoriferous one whose mirth was so decidedly ill-timed and unmusical.
The silence was not of long continuance, however, for the Evil One
began to fear that a detestably early cock might crow, and thereby
rescue the trembling one from his clutches. In his impatience,
therefore, he knocked upon the floor with his cloven hoof and whistled
loudly, after the manner followed now-a-days by dirty little patrons
of the drama, perched high in the gallery of a twopenny theatre, and
again danced rapidly round the ring in what the tenant deemed
unnecessary proximity to the chalk mark.

'Count the ears of corn in old Tithepig's field,' suddenly cried the
schoolmaster.

'Three millions and twenty-six,' at once answered Satan.

'I have no way of checking it,' moaned the pedagogue.

'Ah, ah,' bellowed the fiend, who now, instead of hopping round the
ring, capered in high glee about the chamber.

'Ho, ho!' laughed the schoolmaster, 'I have it! Here it is! Ho, ho!
Twist a rope of sand{18} and wash it in the river Cocker without
losing a grain.'

The Evil One stepped out of the house, to the great relief of its
occupier, who at once felt that the atmosphere was purer; but in a few
minutes he returned with the required rope of sand.

'Come along,' said he, 'and see it washed.' And he swung it over his
shoulder, and stepped into the lane.

In the excitement of the moment the wizard had almost involuntarily
stepped out of the magic circle, when suddenly he bethought himself of
the danger, and drily said--

'Thank you; I'll wait here. By the light of the moon I can see you
wash it.'

The baffled fiend, without more ado, stepped across to the rippling
streamlet, and dipped the rope into the water, but when he drew it out
he gave utterance to a shout of rage and disappointment, for half of
it had been washed away.

'Hurrah!' shouted the schoolmaster. 'Cockerham against the world!' And
as in his joy he jumped out of the ring, the Evil One, instead of
seizing him, in one stride crossed Pilling Moss and Broadfleet, and
vanished, and from that night to the present day Cockerham has been
quite free from Satanic visits.{19}



THE SILVER TOKEN.


Believe i' Fairies? 'Ay, that I do, though I never clapped mi een on
'em,' said old Nancy to a group of gaping listeners seated by the
farm-house kitchen fire.

'That's quare,' remarked a sceptical young woman in the ingle nook.

Old Nancy gave her a scornful glance, and then went on:--

'I never see'd a fairy as I know on, but I used to sarve one on 'em
wi' milk. Yo' mon stare; but th' way on it wir this. I wir at mi wark
i' th' dairy one day, abaat th' edge o' dark, when o ov a suddent a
loile jug clapt itsel daan afooar mi on th' stooan. Yo' may be sure I
wir fair capt, for wheear it come fray, or heaw it geet theear, I
couldn't mek aat. I stoopt mi daan to pike howd on it, and it met a'
bin silver, it wir that breet and bonnie; but it wir as leet as a
feather, an' I couldn't tell what it wir med on. I wir baan to set it
o' th' stooan again, when I seed at a new sixpenny bit hed bin put
theer wi' it, so it struck mi as milk wir wantit. Accordingly I fillt
th' jug and seet it daan again, an' welly as soon as I'd clapt it
wheear I fun' it, it up an' whipt eaut o' seet. Well I thowt it
meeterly quare, bud I'd heeard mi feyther say, monny an' monny a
toime, as thuse as geet fairy brass gin 'em should tell nubry, so I
kept it to mysen, though I'd hard wark, yo' may be sure. Every neet
th' jug an' th' sixpenny bit clapt theirsens o' th' stooan as reglar
as milkin' toime, an' I fillt th' jug and piked up th' brass. At last,
ha'ever, I thowt happen no lumber could come on it if I towd nobbut
one, so when Roger theear and me settlet a beein wed I towd him what
sooart ov a nest-egg I'd getten so quarely. Mi feyther wir reet,
ha'ever, for th' next neet nayther jug nor th' sixpenny bit showed
thersels, an' fray that day to this I've sin no mooar on 'em, an' it's
ower forty year sin I piked up th' last brass.{3}



THE HEADLESS WOMAN.

(BEAWT HEEOD.)


It was near upon twelve when Gabriel Fisher bade good night to the
assembled roysterers who were singing and shouting in the kitchen of
the White Bull, at Longridge, and, turning his back to the cosy
hearth, upon which a huge log was burning, emerged into the moonlit
road. With his dog Trotty close at his heels, he struck out manfully
towards Tootal Height and Thornley, for he had a long and lonely walk
before him. It was a clear and frosty night, but occasionally a light
cloud sailed across the heavens, and obscured the moon. Rapidly
passing between the two rows of cottages which constituted the little
straggling village, his footsteps ringing upon the frozen ground,
Gabriel made for the fells, and, as he hurried along, he hummed to
himself a line of the last song he had heard, and now and again burst
into a fit of laughter as he remembered a humorous story told by 'Owd
Shuffler.' When he reached the highest point of the road whence he
could see the beautiful Chipping valley, a soft breeze was whispering
among the fir-trees, with that faint rustle suggestive of the gentle
fall of waves upon a beach. Here and there a little white farm-house
or labourer's cottage was gleaming in the moonlight, but the inmates
had been asleep for hours. There was an air of loneliness and mystery
over everything; and though Gabriel would have scorned to admit that
he was afraid of anything living or dead, before he had passed out of
the shadow of the weird-looking melodious branches he found himself
wishing for other company than that of his dog. He suddenly
remembered, too, with no access of pleasurable feelings, that on the
previous day he had seen a solitary magpie, and all sorts of stories
of 'Banister Dolls' and 'Jinny Greenteeths,' with which his youthful
soul had been carefully harrowed, came across his mind. He tried to
laugh at these recollections, but the attempt was by no means a
successful one, and he gave expression to a hearty wish that Kemple
End were not quite so far off.

Just then a sharp shrill cry fell upon his ear, and then another and
another. 'Th' Gabriel Ratchets,'{33} he shouted, 'what's abaat to
happen?' The cries were not repeated, however, and he went on, but
when he reached the peak of the fell, and gazed before him into the
deep shade of a plantation, he could not repress a slight shudder, for
he fancied that he saw something moving at a distance. He paused for a
moment or two to assure himself, and then went on again slowly, his
heart throbbing violently as he lessened the space between the moving
object and himself. The dog, as though equally influenced by similar
feelings, crept behind him in a suspicious and terrified manner.

'It's nobbut a woman,' said he, somewhat re-assured; 'it's a woman
sewerly. Mebbee someburry's badly, an' hoo's gooin' for help. Come on,
Trotty, mon.'

So saying, he quickened his pace, the dog hanging behind, until he
approached almost close to the figure, when, with a wild howl, away
Trotty fled down the hillside. As Gabriel drew still closer, he saw
that the object wore a long light cloak and hood, and a large
coal-scuttle bonnet; and surprised to find that the sound of his
footsteps did not cause her to turn to see who was following, he
called out:

'It's a bonny neet, Missis; bud yo're aat rayther late, arn't yo'?'

'It is very fine,' answered the woman, in a voice which Gabriel
thought was the sweetest he had ever heard, but without turning
towards him as she spoke.

'Summat wrong at your fowk's, happen?' he asked, anxious to prolong
the talk. There was no reply to this, though, and Gabriel knew not
what to think, for the silent dame, although she declined to reply,
continued to keep pace with him, and to walk at his side. Was it some
one who had no business to be out at that hour, and who did not wish
to be recognised, he wondered? But if so, thought he, why did she
continue to march in a line with him? The voice, certainly, was that
of one of a different rank to his own; but, on the other hand, he
reflected, if she were one of the gentle folks, why the cottager's
cloak and bonnet, and the huge market basket? These conjectures
crossed his brain in rapid succession; and influenced by the last
one--that as to his companion's clothing--he determined again to
address her.

'Yo' met a left yir tung at whoam, Missis,' said he, 'sin' yo' connot
answer a civil mon.'

This taunt, however, like the direct query, failed to provoke an
answer, although the startled Gabriel could have sworn that a
smothered laugh came from beneath the white cloth which covered the
contents of the basket 'Let me carry yer baskit,' said he; 'it's heavy
for yo'.'

Without a word, the woman held it out to him; but, as Gabriel grasped
the handle, a voice, which sounded as though the mouth of the speaker
were close to his hand, slowly said:

'You're very kind, I'm sure;' and then there came from the same
quarter a silvery peal of laughter.

'What i' th' warld can it be?' said Gabriel, as without more ado he
let the basket fall to the ground. He did not remain in ignorance very
long, however, for, as the white cloth slipped off, a human head, with
fixed eyes, rolled out 'Th' yedless boggart!' cried he, as the figure
turned to pick up the head, and revealed to him an empty bonnet, and
away he fled down the hill, fear lending him speed. He had not run
far, however, before he heard a clatter of feet on the hard road
behind him; but Gabriel was one of the fleetest lads about the fells,
and the sight he had just seen was calculated to bring out all his
powers; so the sound did not grow louder, but just as he turned into
the old Chaighley Road, the head, thrown by the boggart, came whizzing
past in unpleasant proximity to his own, and went rolling along in
front of him. For a second or two Gabriel hesitated what to do, the
headless woman behind and the equally terrible head in front; but it
did not take long to decide, and he went forward with renewed vigour,
thinking to pass the dreadful thing rapidly rolling along in advance
of him. No sooner was he near to it, however, than, with an impish
laugh, which rang in his ears for days afterwards, the ghastly object
diverged from its course and rolled in his way. With a sudden and
instinctive bound, he leaped over it; and as he did so the head jumped
from the ground and snapped at his feet, the teeth striking together
with a dreadfully suggestive clash. Gabriel was too quick for it,
however, but for some distance he heard with horrible distinctness the
clattering of the woman's feet and the banging of the head upon the
road behind him.

Gradually the sounds grew fainter as he speeded along, and at length,
after he had crossed a little stream of water which trickled across
the lane from a fern-covered spring in the fell side, the sounds
ceased altogether. The runner, however, did not pause to take breath
until he had reached his home and had crept beneath the blankets, the
trembling Trotty, whom he found crouched in terror at the door of the
cottage, skulking upstairs at his heels and taking refuge under the
bed.

'I olus said as tha'd be seein' a feeorin wi' thi stoppin' aat o'
neets,' remarked his spouse after he had narrated his adventure; 'bud
if it nobbut meks tha fain o' thi own haath-stooan I'se be some glad
on it, for it's moor nor a woman wi' a heead on her shoothers hes bin
able to do.'{20}



THE RESCUE OF MOONBEAM.


From one corner of Ribbleton Moor, the scene of Cromwell's victory
over Langdale, there is as lovely a view as ever painter dreamed of.
Far below the spectator the Ribble sweeps almost in a circle beneath
the scars which, by the action of years of this washing, have been
scooped out so as to form a large precipice, under which the waters
flow, marking out in their course the great 'horse-shoe meadow,' with
its fringe of shining sand. The peaceful valley through which the
river, reflecting in its moving bosom the overhanging many-tinted
woods and cliffs, meanders on its way to the sea, is bounded afar-off
by noble hills, the whale-like Pendle towering in majestic grandeur
above the rest. From the moor a rough and stony lane winds down the
wooded hillside, past a beautiful old half-timbered house down to the
dusty highway and the bridge over the Belisamia of the Romans. The
beautiful river, with its tremulous earth and sky pictures, the
meadows and corn-fields whence come now and again the laugh and song
of the red-faced mowers and reapers, the clearly-defined roads and
white farm-houses, the spires of distant hillside churches, and the
rich green of the waving woods, make up an enchanting picture. When
night comes, however, and the lovely stars peep out, and the crescent
moon casts her glamour over the dreaming earth, and half-hidden in a
dimly transparent veil of shimmering mist the Ribble glides as gently
as though it had paused to listen to its own melody, a still deeper
loveliness falls upon the dreaming landscape, over which the very
genius of beauty seems to hover silently with outspread wings.

At such a time, when moon and stars threw a faint and mysterious light
over the sleeping woods, and not a sound, save the cry of a restless
bird, broke the silence, a young countryman made his way rapidly
across the horse-shoe meadow to the bend of the stream under Red
Scar.

It was not to admire the beautiful scenery, however, that Reuben
Oswaldwistle was crossing the dew-besprinkled field, over which faint
odours of hay were wafted by a gentle breeze. The sturdy young fellow
was too practical to yield entirely to such an influence, and although
he was by no means unlearned in the traditions and stories of the
neighbourhood, long familiarity had taught him to look upon the
landscape with the eye of a farmer. He was simply about to practise
the gentle art in the hope of beguiling a few stray 'snigs' for dinner
on the following day. Still the scene in all its glamour of moonlight
and peace was not powerless even upon his rude nature; so, after
setting his lines, he took out a little black pipe, filled it from a
capacious moleskin pouch, and after lighting the fragrant weed, gave
way to a train of disconnected fancies--past, present, and future
mingling strangely in his reverie.

What with the rustling of the leaves overhead, the musical rippling of
the river as it danced over the stones on its way to the sea, and the
soothing effect of the tobacco, Reuben was beginning to doze, when
suddenly he fancied he heard the sound of a light footstep in the
grass behind him. Turning round somewhat drowsily, he beheld a little
figure of about a span high, clad in green, and wearing a dainty red
cap, struggling along under the load of a flat-topped mushroom much
larger than itself. After having more than once fallen with its load,
the dwarf cried out in a sweet, faint voice, 'Dewdrop, Dewdrop!' and
no sooner had the sound died into silence than another little fellow,
who evidently answered to the pretty name, came tripping from the
shadow of a hawthorn.

'What's the matter, Moonbeam?' said the new-comer, cheerily.

'This table is too much for me,' answered the labourer whom Reuben had
seen first, 'and if the king's dinner is not ready to a minute he will
have me stung. Help me with this load, there's a good sort.'

Without any more ado Dewdrop came forward and the tiny pair put their
shoulders beneath the load and marched off. They did not bear it very
far, however, for the astonished Reuben simply stretched himself at
full length on the grass and again was quite close to them.

The two dots stopped when they came to a hole, into which they at once
stuck the stem of the mushroom. Moonbeam then took from his pocket a
butterfly's wing, which served him as a handkerchief, and wiping his
forehead as he spoke, he said:--

'I'm about tired of this. Every night the table is stolen, Dewdrop,
and I've to find a new one for each dinner, and no thanks for it
either. What has come of late over the king I am at a loss to imagine,
for he has done nothing but have me stung. I shall emigrate if this
continues, that's all.'

'So would I,' answered the other little fellow, 'if Blue-eyes would go
also, but I can't leave her.'

After a hearty peal of laughter, during which he had held his shaking
sides, Moonbeam shouted--

'Why, my dear innocent, if you went she would be after you in a trice.
I remember that when I was as guileless as you I fell in love with
Ravenhair, the daughter of old Pigear. She treated me just as
Blue-eyes uses you, but when, in a fit of jealous rage, I began to pay
delicate attentions to Jasmine, the tables soon were turned, and one
evening, as I was dozing in a flower cup, I heard some one call me,
and peeping out of my chamber, I saw the once scornful Ravenhair
weeping at the foot of the stalk. No sooner did she catch a glimpse of
the tip of my nightcap than in piteous tones, that went straight to my
heart, she cried out, "Dearest Moony, let me come up and"--. But,
hush! wasn't that the dinner gong?'

The pair listened intently as over the grass came the solemn hum of a
bee.

'I'm in for it,' said the fairy whose tale had been so suddenly
interrupted; 'there's the first bell, and I haven't got even the table
set.'

The pair darted off, and tripping away into the shade of the hawthorn,
they were for a moment or two lost to the sight of the wondering
Reuben, but they soon returned, each bearing a dish and cover made of
a little pearl shell. These they placed upon the mushroom, and away
they scudded, again to return in a minute with another load. In an
incredibly short space of time the table was set out with a goodly
array of tiny dishes and plates.

Once more the hum of the bee was heard booming over the grass, and
from the shadow of the tree there emerged a dainty being whose attire
glittered in the moonlight, and whose step was like that of a proud
monarch. He was clad in a many-hued coat made of wings of dragon
flies, a green vest cut from a downy mouse-ear leaf, and with buttons
of buttercup buds; little knee-breeches of fine-spun silk dyed in the
juice of a whinberry, stockings of cobweb, and shoes of shining beetle
case; his shirt, which was as white as falling snow, had been cut from
convolvulus flowers ere they had opened to the light; and his hat, a
gem of a thing fit only for a fairy, was of red poppy, with a waving
white feather, and a band of fur from a caterpillar. He led by the
hand another personage, equally daintily dressed, but of a higher
order of loveliness, with a pale oval face, and dreamy-looking eyes,
gleaming like the sea when the moon and stars are bending over its
bosom, and the wind is whispering its sad secrets. Her hair was
golden, and rippled almost to her exquisite feet, and over it she wore
a blue cornflower wreath, with diamond dewdrops here and there amid
the leaves. Her dress was of damask rose leaves looped up with
myosotis.

The grass hardly bent beneath her, so daintily did she trip along,
just touching the tips of the fingers of the hand the king extended
to her. Following this royal pair came a group of gaily-clad
attendants, and a band discoursing sweet sounds, the deep bass of bees
harmonising happily with the barytone of a beetle and the crescendo
chirp of a cricket.

With a loud flourish from the musicians all took their places at the
festive mushroom, and the banquet began. The dishes were sufficiently
various to tempt even an anchorite to excess, for all the delicacies
of the season were there. Ladybird soup, baked stickleback, roasted
leg of nightingale, boiled shoulder of frog with cranberry sauce, wild
strawberry tarts, and numerous kinds of fruits and juices, made up a
dainty repast, of which king, queen, and courtiers partook heartily.
The band, the members of which were perched in the swinging flowers of
a foxglove close by, played lustily during the feast.

'For once,' said the king, 'for once--and let the circumstance be
remembered when the annals of our reign are written--a day hath passed
without anything having annoyed our royal self, without anything
unpleasant having happened in our royal presence, and without
anything having disagreed with our royal stomach.'

No sooner had these words passed the royal lips, however, than the
queen gave a faint shriek, and cried out--

'My love, there is not a drop of my chickweed wine on the table.'

A dark cloud passed over the monarch's face as he angrily shouted--

'Methinks we were congratulating our royal self somewhat too early in
the day. Bring hither the rascally Moonbeam and bid the executioners
attend for orders.'

One of the courtiers, with an alacrity marvellously resembling that of
beings of a larger growth, rushed out, and speedily returned with the
unfortunate dependant, who at once flung himself on the ground before
the angry king and begged to be forgiven. What result might have
followed these prayers is uncertain, for, unfortunately, the
suppliant's tears fell upon one of the monarch's shoes and dimmed its
lustre.

'Bring hither the executioners and their instruments,' roared the
infuriated king, and almost immediately a couple of sturdy little
fellows appeared leading by a chain two large wasps.

'Do your disreputable work!' shouted the monarch.

The executioners seized Moonbeam, fastened him to a stake, and pressed
a wasp against him. The insect instantly stung him, and the miserable
little fellow howled with pain.

'Take him away,' cried the queen; 'we don't want _whine_ of that
kind.'

'What a wretched pun!' involuntarily said Moonbeam, as they were
dragging him from the royal presence.

'Bring the villain back,' roared the King; 'bring him back, and sting
him until he is less critical.'

'If tha hez him stung ageeon,' interrupted the indignant Reuben, who
in his excitement had gradually crept nearer to the royal table, 'I'll
knock thi proud little heeod off, chuz who tha art.'

Neither the king or the executioners, however, took the slightest
notice of the warning, so, as the latter were once more forcing the
unhappy Moonbeam against the other wasp, down came a huge fist upon
the royal head.

'Theer,' said the fisherman, exultingly, 'I towd tha, didn't I, bud
tha wouldn't tek wernin'. Tha 'rt on 't' penitent form bi this time, I
daat.'

Lifting up his hand, however, what was the surprise of the wondering
Reuben to find only a little crushed grass under it. King, Queen,
courtiers, Moonbeam, executioners, and wasps, all had vanished, and
even the band, whose humming and droning he had heard so distinctly
during the whole banquet, no longer broke the silence.

'Well,' said the fisherman, 'that's a capper, in o mi born days. I see
'em as plain as a pikestaff. Th' last day connot be far off, I'm
sewer. Bud I'll hev th' tabble, at onny rate, beawt axin.' And, so
saying, he took possession of the huge mushroom, and after hurriedly
gathering up his lines, he wended his way across the meadow to his
little cottage by the high road, and arrived there, he narrated to his
drowsy wife the story of the banquet.

'Drat th' fairies, an' thee, too, wi' thi gawmless tales,' said his
sceptical helpmate, 'I wondered what hed getten tha. Tha's bin asleep
for hours i' th' meadow istid a lookin' after th' fish. Tha never seed
a fairy i' thi life. Tha'rt nod hauve sharp enough, clivver as tha
art i' owt as is awkurt.' There was a short pause after this sally,
and then the sly Reuben drily answered--

'Yoy, I 've sin a fairy monny an' monny a time. Olus when I used to
come a cooartin' to thi moather's. Bud tha 'r nod mich like a fairy
neaw, tha 'st autert terbly. Tha 'rt too thrivin' lookin'.'

'Be off wi' thi fawseness,' said the pleased woman; 'tha 'd ollus a
desayvin tung i' thi heead;' and then after a drowsy pause as she was
dosing to sleep; 'but for o that I'll mek a soop o' good catsup out
o' thi fairy tabble.'



THE WHITE DOBBIE.


Many years ago, long before the lovely Furness district was invaded by
the genius of steam, the villagers along the coast from Bardsea to
Rampside were haunted by a wandering being whose errand, the purpose
of which could never be learned, used to bring him at night along the
lonely roads and past the straggling cottages. This pilgrim was a
wearied, emaciated-looking man, on whose worn and wan face the sorrows
of life had left deep traces, and in whose feverish, hungry-looking
eyes, mystery and terror seemed to lurk. Nobody knew the order of his
coming or going, for he neither addressed anyone, nor replied if
spoken to, but disregarded alike the 'good neet' of the tramp who knew
him not, and the startled cry of the belated villager who came
suddenly upon him at a turn of the road. Never stopping even for a
minute to gaze through the panes whence streamed the ruddy glow of the
wood fires, and to envy the dwellers in the cosy cottages, he kept on
his way, as though his mission was one of life and death, and,
therefore, would not brook delay.

On wild wintry nights, however, when the salt wind whirled the foam
across the bay, and dashed the blinding snow into heaps upon the
window-sills and against the cottage doors, and darkness and storm
spread their sombre wings over the coast, then was it certain that the
mysterious being would be seen, for observation had taught the
villagers and the dwellers in solitary houses along the lonely roads
between the fishing hamlets that in storm and darkness the weird
voyager was most likely to appear.

At such times, when the sound of footsteps, muffled by the snow, was
heard between the soughs and moans of the wailing wind, the women
cried, 'Heaven save us; 'tis th' White Dobbie,' as, convulsively
clutching their little ones closer to their broad bosoms, they crept
nearer to the blazing log upon the hearth, and gazed furtively and
nervously at the little diamond-paned window, past which the restless
wanderer was making his way, his companion running along a little way
in advance, for not of the mysterious man alone were the honest people
afraid. In front of him there invariably ran a ghastly-looking,
scraggy white hare,{21} with bloodshot eyes. No sooner however did
anyone look at this spectral animal than it fled to the wanderer, and
jumping into his capacious pocket, was lost to sight.

Verily of an unearthly stock was this white hare, for upon its
approach and long before it neared a village, the chained dogs, by
some strange instinct conscious of its coming, trembled in terror, and
frantically endeavoured to snap their bonds; unfastened ones fled no
man knew whither; and if one happened to be trotting alongside its
belated master as he trudged homeward and chanced to meet the ghastly
Dobbie with its blood-red eyes, with a scream of pain almost human in
its keen intensity, away home scampered the terrified animal, madly
dashing over hedge and ditch as though bewitched and fiend-chased.

For many years the lonely wanderer had traversed the roads, and for
many years had the hare trotted in front of him; lads who were cradled
upon their mother's knee when first they heard the awe-inspiring
footfalls had grown up into hearty wide-chested men, and men who were
ruddy fishers when the pilgrim first startled the dwellers in Furness
had long passed away into the silent land; but none of them ever had
known the wayfarer to utter a syllable. At length, however, the time
came when the solemn silence was to be broken.

One night when the breeze, tired of whispering its weird messages to
the bare branches, and chasing the withered leaves along the lanes,
had begun to moan a hushed prelude to the music of a storm, through
the mist that had crept over the bay, and which obscured even the
white-crested wavelets at the foot of the hill on which stood the
sacred old church, there came at measured intervals the melancholy
monotone of the Bardsea passing bell{9} for the dead.

Dismally upon the ears of the dwellers in the straggling hamlet fell
the announcement of the presence of death, and even the woman who had
for years been bell-ringer and sexton, felt a thrill of fear as she
stood in the tower but dimly lighted by a candle in a horn lantern,
and high above her head the message of warning rang out; for, although
accustomed to the task, it was not often that her services were
required at night. Now and again she gazed slowly round the chamber,
upon the mouldering walls of which fantastic shadows danced, and she
muttered broken fragments of prayers in a loud and terrified voice,
for as the door had been closed in order that the feeble light in the
lantern might not be extinguished by the gusts of wind, isolated as
she was from the little world upon the hillside, she felt in an
unwonted manner the utter loneliness of the place and its dread
surroundings.

Suddenly she uttered a shrill shriek, for she heard a hissing whisper
at her ear and felt an icy breath upon her cheek. She dared not turn
round, for she saw that the door opening upon the churchyard remained
closed as before, and that occasionally passing within the range of
her fixed stare, a white hare with blood-red eyes gambolled round the
belfry.

'T' Dobbie!' sighed she, as the dim light began to flicker and the
hare suddenly vanished.

As she stood almost paralysed, again came the terrible whisper, and
this time she heard the question--

'Who for this time?'

The horrified woman was unable to answer, and yet powerless to resist
the strange fascination which forced her to follow the direction of
the sound; and when the question was put a second time, in an agony of
fear she gazed into the wild eyes of the being at her elbow, her
parched tongue cleaving to her open mouth. From the pocket of the
dread visitor the ghastly animal gazed at the ringer, who mechanically
jerked the bell-rope, and the poor woman was fast losing her senses,
when suddenly the door was burst open, and a couple of villagers, who
had been alarmed by the irregular ringing, entered the tower. They at
once started back as they saw the strange group--the wanderer with
sad, inquiring look, and pallid face, the phantom hare with its
firelit eyes, and the old ringer standing as though in a trance. No
sooner, however, did one of the intruders gaze at the animal than it
slipped out of sight down into the pocket of its companion and keeper,
and the wanderer himself hastily glided between the astonished men,
and out into the darkness of the graveyard.

On many other gloomy nights afterwards the ringer was accosted in the
same manner, but although the unnatural being and the spectral hare
continued for some winters to pass from village to village and from
graveyard to graveyard, a thick cloud of mystery always hung over and
about them, and no one ever knew what terrible sin the never-resting
man had been doomed to expiate by so lonely and lasting a pilgrimage.

Whence he came and whither he went remained unknown; but long as he
continued to patrol the coast the hollow sound of his hasty footsteps
never lost its terror to the cottagers; and even after years had
passed over without the usual visits, allusions to the weird pilgrim
and his dread companion failed not to cause a shudder, for it was
believed that the hare was the spirit of a basely-murdered friend, and
that the restless voyager was the miserable assassin doomed to a
wearisome, lifelong wandering.{22}



THE LITTLE MAN'S GIFT.


Many are the wells in Lancashire that once were supposed to be the
homes of good or evil spirits--of demons or of beneficent
fairies--and, despite the injunctions of the Church against the
customs of praying at and waking wells, down to a comparatively recent
period they were resorted to by pilgrims of all grades who were in
search of health. One such spring near Blackpool, known as the
Fairies' Well, had its daily crowds of the ailing and the sorrowful,
for its water was credited with virtues as wonderful as they were
manifold, and from far and near people brought vessels to be filled
with the miraculous fluid.

One day at noon, a poor woman who had journeyed many a weary mile in
order to obtain a supply of the water with which to bathe the eyes of
her child, whose sight was fast failing, and upon whom all the usual
remedies had been tried without success, on rising from her knees at
the well side, was surprised to find standing near her a handsome
little man clad in green, who certainly was not in sight when she bent
to fill her bottle. As she stood gazing at the dainty object, the
visitor, without having previously asked her any questions, handed to
her a beautiful box filled with ointment, and directed her to apply
the salve to the eyes of her child, whose sight it would restore.
Surprised beyond measure at the little man's knowledge of her family
affairs, the woman mechanically accepted the gift, but when, after
carefully placing the box in her pocket, she turned to thank the
giver, he was no longer to be seen; and satisfied that she had had an
interview with one of the beings after whom the well was named, she
started on her journey to her distant home.

The strangeness of the present, given as she trusted it was by a fairy
who was conversant with the painful circumstances under which she had
made her pilgrimage, caused her to hope that the ointment would prove
efficacious in removing the disorder under which her child was
labouring; but this vague feeling, based as it was upon the mysterious
nature of the gift, was accompanied by a perfectly natural fear that,
after all, the giver might have been one of those mischievous beings
whose delight it was to wreak harm and wrong upon humanity.

When she reached home and told the strange story to her wondering
husband, the nervous pair decided that the ointment should not be used
unless a further mark of fairy interest in the child's welfare were
vouchsafed to them; but when a few days had passed, and the child
continued to grow worse, the anxious mother, in the absence of her
husband, determined to test the salve upon one of her own eyes. She
did so, and after a few minutes of dreadful suspense, finding that
evil results did not follow, and saying to herself that surely the
fairy could not be desirous of harming her child, she anointed the
little girl's eyes. She refrained, however, from making her helpmate
acquainted with what she had done, until in the course of a few days
the child's eyesight was so nearly restored that it was no longer
necessary or possible to keep the matter from him. Great were the
rejoicings of the worthy pair over their little one's recovery; but
there was not for a very long time any opportunity afforded them of
expressing their gratitude.

Some years had passed,--and, as the girl had never had a relapse, the
strange gift was almost forgotten,--when one day, in the market-place
at Preston, the woman, who was haggling about the price of a load of
potatoes, saw before her the identical little fellow in green attire
from whom, long before, she had received the box of wonder-working
ointment. Although he was busily engaged in a pursuit in which,
perhaps, few gentlemen would care to be interrupted, that of stealing
corn from an open sack, the thoughtless woman, regardless of
etiquette, and yielding to the sudden impulse which prompted her to
thank him, stepped forward, and, grasping the fairy's hand, gave
utterance to her gratitude.

To her surprise, however, the little fellow seemed very angry with
her, and, instead of acknowledging her thanks, hastily asked if she
could see him with both eyes, and if she had used the ointment
intended for her child. The frightened woman at once said that she
saw him with only one eye, and was entering into a long account of the
circumstances under which, with maternal instinct, she had tested the
value of the gift, when, without more ado, the irritated fairy struck
her a violent blow and vanished, and from that time forward the poor
woman, instead of being able to see better than her neighbours, was
blind of one eye. The daughter, however, often saw the fairies, but,
profiting by her mother's painful experience, she was wise enough to
refrain from speaking to them either when they gathered by moonlight
beneath the trees or in broad daylight broke the Eighth Commandment,
utterly unconscious that they were observed by a mortal to whom had
been given the wondrous gift of fairy vision.{23}



SATAN'S SUPPER.{24}


                                      I.

  Ye Evil One         The 'Old Lad' sat upon his throne,
  giveth unto           Beneath a blasted oak,
  them a stayve.      And fiddled to the mandrake's groan,
                        The marsh-frog's lonely croak;


                                     II.

  Ye corpses          Whilst winds they hissed, and shrieked, and moaned
  dashe their           About the branches bare,
  wigges.             And all around the corpses groaned,
                        And shook their mould'ring hair;


                                    III.

  Ye hagges           As witches gathered one by one,
  crowde to ye          And knelt at Satan's feet,
  _levee_.            With faces some all worn and wan,
                        And some with features sweet,


                                     IV.

  Ye power            The earth did ope and imps upsprang
  of                    Of every shape and shade,
  Musicke.            Who 'gan to dance as th' welkin rang
                        With tunes the 'Old Lad' played;


                                      V.

  Ye poetrie          At which the witches clapped their hands,
  of                    And laughed and screamed in glee;
  motion.             Or jumped about in whirling bands,
                        And hopped in revelry,


                                     VI.

  Ye delicacies       Till Satan ceased, when all did rest,
  of ye                 And swarmed unto the meat:
  season,             The flesh of infants from the breast,
                        The toes from dead men's feet,


                                    VII.

  Ye ditto,           With sand for salt, and brimstone cates,
                        With blood for old wine red;
                      On glittering dish and golden plates
                        The dainty food was spread.


                                   VIII.

  Ye                  From heavy cups, with jewels rough,
  coolinge              The witches quenched their thirst;
  drinkes.            Yet not before the ruddie stuff
                        Had been by Satan cursed.


                                     IX.

  Ye barde            But one lank fiend of skin and bone,
  telleth of            With hungry-looking eyne,
  an outcaste         Gazed at the food with dreary moans,
  impe.                 And many a mournful whine;


                                      X.

  Of hys              For Satan would not let him feed
  unparalleled          Upon the toothsome cheer,
  wickednesse;        (He had not done all day a deed
                        To cause a human tear);


                                     XI.

  Of hys              And so he hopped from side to side,
  gamboles              To beg a bit of 'toke,'
  and praieres,       And, vagrant-like, his plea denied,
                        He prayed that they might choke


                                    XII.

  And of              Themselves with morsels rich and fat
  hys                   Or die upon the floor,
  revylyngs of        Like paupers (grieving much thereat
  goode menne.          The guardians of the poor).


                                   XIII.

  Ye earlie byrde     A cock then flapped his wings and crew,
  prepareth for ye       Announcing coming light;
  'Diet of            When, seizing on a jar of stew,
  Wormes.'              The snubbed imp took his flight.


                                    XIV.

  _Les Adieux._       And at the solemn sound of doom
                        The witches flew away,
                      While Satan slunk off through the gloom,
                        Afraid of break of day;


                                     XV.

  Ye fruitlesse       And in the darkness drear he cried--
  remorse of            His voice a trifle gruff,
  Beelzebubbe.        'Those omelettes were nicely fried;
                        I have not had enough!'


                                    XVI.

  Ye resulte          A blight fell on the trembling flowers
  of ye meetynge        And on the quivering trees--
  uponne ye           No buds there drink the passing showers,
                        Or leaves wave in the breeze;


                                   XVII.

  Agryculture         For Satan's presence withered all
  of ye                 The daisies and the grass,
  dystricte.          And all things over which like pall
                        His sulphurous tail did pass.



THE EARTHENWARE GOOSE.


Once upon a time, which somewhat vague reference in this instance
means long before it was considered a compliment by the fair dames of
Lancashire to be termed witches, there lived in the Fylde country
village of Singleton a toothless, hooknosed old woman, whose ill
fortune it was to be credited with the friendship of the Evil One.
Perhaps had the ancient dame been somewhat better looking she might
have borne a better character. In those distant days to be poor was
considered decidedly discreditable, but to be ugly also was to add
insult to injury. The old woman knew only too well that she was poor
and that she was plain, for the urchins and hobbledehoys of the
locality lost no opportunity of reminding her of the facts, whenever,
on frugal mind intent, she emerged from her rude cottage to expend a
few pence upon articles of food.

Ugliness and poverty, however, Mag Shelton persisted in considering
misfortunes and not crimes, and when anybody to whom she was an
eyesore, with gallantry peculiar to the time and place let us hope,
wished that she would die and rid the village of her objectionable
presence, the old woman took no notice of the polite expression. To
die by particular desire was not in Mag's line. What harm could a
toothless old woman do, that the world, by which term the half-dazed
creature meant the village in which she had spent her life, should
evince so much anxiety to be rid of her?--argued Mag. True, if
toothless, she had her tongue; but without a visiting circle, and with
no benefactors to belie, that valuable weapon in the service of spite
might just as well have been in the mouth of an uneducated heathen.
Harmless, however, as the old dame thought herself, the villagers held
a different opinion, and the children, afraid of disturbing the witch,
invariably removed their wooden-soled clogs before they ran past the
hut in which Mag lived,{25} while the older folk, if they did not
literally take the coverings from their feet as they passed the
lonely dwelling, crept by on tiptoe, and glanced furtively at the
unsuspecting inhabitant of the cottage, who, by the aid of the fitful
firelight, might be seen dozing near the dying embers, and now and
again stroking a suspiciously bright-eyed cat, nestled snugly upon her
knee.

The old woman's solitary way of life favoured the growth of
superstitions regarding her, for the Singletonians were not without
their share of that comforting vanity which impresses the provincial
mind with a sense of the high importance of its society, parish, and
creed; and they could not imagine anyone preferring to keep away from
them and to sit alone, without at once believing, as a necessary
consequence, that the unappreciative ones must have dealings with
Satan.

It soon was found convenient to attribute anything and everything of
an unpleasant nature to the denizen of the lonely cottage, 'th' Owd
Witch,' as she was termed. Was a cow or a child ailing? Mag had done
it! Had the housewife omitted to mark with the sign of the cross the
baking of dough left in the mug on the hearth, and the bread had
turned out 'heavy,' Mag Shelton had taken advantage of the overworked
woman's negligence! Was there but a poor field of wheat? 'Twas the
fault of old Mag, swore the farmer. In short, whatever went wrong
throughout the entire country-side was judged to be clearly traceable
to the spite and malevolence of the toothless old woman and her
suspicious-looking cat.

This state of things might, however, have continued without any
interruption, until Nature had interposed and released Mag from her
attendance upon such a world, had it not begun to be noticed that
almost every farmer in the neighbourhood was complaining of the
mysterious disappearance of milk, not only from the dairies, but also
from the udders of the cows grazing in the pastures. A bucolic genius
immediately proclaimed that in this case, too, the culprit must be
Mag, for had not she her familiars to feed, and what could be more
agreeable to the palate of a parched fiend or perspiring imp, than a
beaker of milk fresh from the cow and redolent of meadow-flowers? With
such a gaping family to satisfy, what regard could the old lady retain
for the Eighth Commandment?

This logic was deemed unanswerable, and a number of the farmers
determined to conceal themselves one night about the witch's cottage,
in the hope of something confirmatory turning up. It was late when
they took their places, and they barely had settled themselves
comfortably behind the hedgerow before a noise was heard, and the old
woman emerged from the house,--the cat, and, of all things else in the
world, a stately goose solemnly paddling behind her.

The men in ambush remained silent until Mag and her attendants had
passed out of sight and hearing, when one of them said, 'Keep still,
chaps, till hoo comes back. Hoo's gone a milkin', I daat.' The
watchers therefore kept perfectly quiet, and in a little while their
patience was rewarded; for the old woman reappeared, walking slowly
and unattended by her former companions. As she paused to unfasten the
cottage door, the men pounced out of their hiding-place, seized her
roughly, and at once tore off her cloak. To the surprise of the rude
assailants, however, no sign of milkjugs could be observed; and, as
they stood aghast, Mag cried, in a shrill and angry voice, 'Will ye
never learn to respect grey hair, ye knaves?' 'We'll respect tha'
into th' pit yon, mi lady,' immediately responded one of the roughest
of the men. 'What hes ta done with th' milk to-neet?'

In vain were the old woman's protestations,--that, driven from the
roads and lanes in the daytime by the children and the hobbledehoys
who persecuted her, she had of late taken her exercise by night; the
judicial mind was made up, and rude hands were outstretched to drag
her to the horsepond, when, fortunately for Mag, the appearance of the
goose, waddling in a hurried and agitated manner, created a timely
diversion in her favour.

'I thowt it quare,' said one of the would-be executioners--'varra
quare, that th' goose worn't somewheer abaat, for hoo an' it's as
thick as Darby an' Jooan.'

As though conscious that all was not well with its mistress, the
ungainly and excited bird, stretching its neck towards the bystanders,
and hissing loudly, placed itself by the old woman's side.

'We want no hissin' heear,' said the leader of the band, as he lifted
a heavy stick and struck the sibilant fowl a sharp rap on its head.

No sooner had the sound of the blow fallen upon the ears of the
assembled rustics than the goose vanished, not a solitary feather
being left behind, and in its place there stood a large broken
pitcher, from which milk, warm from the cow, was streaming. Here was
proof to satisfy even the most credulous, and, as a consequence, in a
moment the old woman was floundering in the pond, from which she
barely escaped with her life. A few days afterwards, however, upon the
interposition of the Vicar, she was permitted to leave the
inhospitable village, and away she tramped in search of 'fresh woods
and pastures new,' her cat and the revivified goose bearing her
company.{26}

She had left the inhospitable place, when the landlord of the Blue Pig
discovered that the jug in which the witch-watchers had conveyed their
'allowance' to the place of ambush had not been returned. It was not
again seen in its entirety, and the sarcastic host often vowed that it
was here and there in the village in the shape of cherished fragments
of the broken one into which the watchers declared that they had seen
Mag's goose transformed.



THE PHANTOM OF THE FELL.


On a beautiful night late in summer a solitary man, who was returning
from some wedding festivities, was rapidly crossing Fair Snape. The
moon was at the full, and threw her glamour upon the lovely fell, as a
breeze sighed among the tall ferns which waved gently to and fro under
the sweet invisible influence, and the only sounds which fell upon the
wayfarer's ear were the almost inaudible rustling of the bracken, and
the occasional faint bark of a distant watch-dog. Giles Roper,
however, was not thinking of the beauty of the night, or of the
scenery, but, naturally enough, was congratulating himself upon being
ever so much nearer to the stocking of that farm without which he
could not hope for the hand of the miller's rosy daughter. Thoughts of
a chubby, good-hearted little woman like Liza were calculated to
drive out all other and less pleasant ones; but Giles was rapidly
approaching a part of the hillside said to be haunted. Many tales had
he heard by the winter's fire of the doings of the nameless
appearance, the narrators speaking in hushed voices, and the hearers
instinctively drawing closer together on the old settle; and these
narratives crowded into his recollection as he left the cheerful
moonlight and stepped into the shade of the little clough. Before he
had got very far down he was prepared to see or hear anything; but,
making allowance for the fear which somehow or other had taken
possession of him, he knew that there was something more than fancy in
a melancholy wail which broke upon his ears as he reached a bend in
the ravine. There was nothing however in the sad note of lamentation
calculated to terrify, save the consciousness that such sweet music
could not be that of a mortal. Instinctively Giles looked in the
direction whence the sound had come, and in the dim light he saw the
figure of a woman with a pallid face of singular and unearthly beauty,
her hair falling behind her like a sheet of gold, and her eyes
emitting a strange lustre, which, however, was not sufficiently
intense to conceal their beautiful azure hue. The bewildered spectator
gazed in rapt worship, for though his limbs still trembled he no
longer felt any fear, but rather a wild delirious longing to speak to,
and to be addressed by, the beautiful being before him. He was
sufficiently near to the appearance to be able to distinguish the
features clearly, and when he saw a movement of the lips his heart
throbbed violently under the expectation that he was about to receive
a mysterious commission. He was, however, doomed to be disappointed,
for the only sound emitted by the phantom was another low melodious
cry, even more pathetic and mournful than that by which his attention
had first been attracted to the lovely object. At the same time Giles
saw that the figure was more distant than before, and that it was
slowly gliding away, but beckoning to him, as though anxious that he
should follow. The young man, spell-bound and fascinated by the
enchanting eyes, which were beautiful enough to turn the head of one
wiser than the raw country lad upon whom they were fixed, followed
eagerly, but at the end of the clough, where the moonlight was
brilliant, the figure vanished, leaving Giles, not with that feeling
of relief said to follow the disappearance of a mysterious visitant,
but, on the contrary, anxious to behold the vision again. He therefore
turned and retraced his steps to the undulating summit of the fell,
where the wind was sighing over the many-flowered heather, but there
was nothing to be seen of the blue-eyed phantom, and only for the
faint wash of the rustling ferns all would have been silent.

Unwilling to leave the spot, although he was conscious that the task
was a fruitless one, he continued to wander from one point to another,
and it was not until daybreak that he finally gave up the search and
descended the fell. Not caring to allude to his adventure and vain
search upon the pike, Giles accounted for his lateness by asserting
that he had remained until midnight at the distant farmhouse where the
rejoicings had taken place, and had afterwards lost his way on the
fells. With this excuse, however, his relatives were quite content,
one sarcastic farm-servant drily remarking that after wedding
festivities it was wonderful he had been able to find his way home at
all.

The extraordinary thoughtfulness which Giles evinced during the day
was of too marked a nature to remain unobserved; but the old father
attributed it merely to that natural dislike to settled labour which
generally follows boisterous relaxation, and the mother thought it was
due to a desire to be off again to see the chubby daughter of the
miller. The old dame, therefore, was not surprised when her son
announced his intention to leave home for a few hours, and she
congratulated herself on her foresight and discernment, finishing her
soliloquy by saying--'Well, hoo's a bonny wench as he's after; an',
what's mooar, hoo's as good as hoo's pratty.'

It was not, however, to the far-off dwelling of the miller that Giles
was making his way.

On the contrary, he was leisurely pacing in quite an opposite
direction, his back turned to the old mill, and his eyes fixed upon
the distant fells, which he did not care to reach until the gloaming
had given way to moonlight. Not that he was afraid of being seen, the
road he trod was too lonely for that; but he thought it was unlikely
his watchings would be rewarded before the night had properly set in.
If the beautiful object was a spirit--and what else could it have
been?--it would come at its own time, and who ever heard of spirits
appearing before midnight? The young fellow, therefore, waited until
the moon rose and bathed the hills in her golden flood, when he at
once began to climb the fell, making his way up the ravine in which on
the previous night he had heard the mysterious voice.

It was some time from midnight, and he stopped to rest, taking his
seat upon a moss-covered stone. Here he waited patiently; but he had
begun to fear that his visit was to be a fruitless one, when once more
he heard the peculiar mournful wail, and rapidly turning round, he saw
that he was not alone. Again the weird eyes, in all their unearthly
beauty, were fixed upon him, and the long white arms were extended as
though to beckon him to draw nigh.

Instinctively Giles rose in obedience to the pleading attitude of the
fair vision; but as he approached the phantom it grew less and less
distinct, and at length vanished. As on the previous night, the young
fellow wandered about in the hope of again seeing the lovely being,
and once more he was obliged to return to the farm unsuccessful.

Possessed by a maddening and irresistible desire to gaze upon the
wondrous face which had bewitched him, the approach of nightfall
invariably found Giles on his way to the fell, and it can easily be
imagined to what unpleasantness in his family circle this course of
conduct gave rise. On the one hand the parents gave the rein to all
sorts of vague suspicions as to the cause of the night rambles; and
the lad's disinclination to give any explanations did not help the old
people to think more kindly of him. The father of the girl whom he had
asked in marriage also did not fail to expostulate with him, in the
idea that he had fallen into evil ways, and that his pilgrimages were
to a distant town; while the girl herself, loving him as she did with
all the vigour of her simple and earnest nature, and uninfluenced by
any foolish feeling of false shame, came to his parents' house in the
hope of obtaining a promise of better things.

Her pleadings and her womanly threats, however, were unavailing, the
whilom lover in a shamefaced manner refusing to make any promise of
different behaviour. The interview was a painful one; for the girl,
feeling certain that her father's interpretation was correct, used all
her powers to induce Giles to abandon his evil courses; but at length,
finding that her prayers were ineffectual, she bitterly reproached him
with his want of honesty.

'It's no evil as I'm after, lass! Don't think that on mi,' said the
young man, in an appealing tone; but the girl was not to be convinced
by mere assertion.

'It's no good as teks tha away o'er t' pike neet after neet,' said
she, with a sudden access of grief, 'it'ull come by tha in some way or
another, Giles.' And in tears she turned away from him.

'Whisht, lass, whisht! If tha nobbut knew, O tha'd pity i'stid o'
blaming mi.'

The girl heeded not these words, but kept on her way. When she got to
a turn in the road, however, she looked back mournfully, as though in
doubt whether to return and cast herself upon his breast, and bid him
trust in her; but pride overcame her, and she resisted the impulse.

That night, as two of the miller's men were poaching, they were
startled by the unexpected sound of a human voice, and hastily hiding
themselves beneath the tall ferns, they saw Giles emerge from the
clough and run towards the place where they were concealed. He seemed
to be half mad with excitement, and as he ran he was crying aloud some
words they could not catch. When he drew nearer, however, they were
able to hear more distinctly, and to their surprise they found that he
was appealing to an invisible being to appear to him.

For some time they remained in their place of concealment, Giles
hovering about the spot; but when the young fellow ran to a distance,
they emerged from their hiding-place and rapidly made their way to the
mill. For obvious reasons, however, they agreed to keep silence as to
what they had seen and heard.

The day after this episode Giles was in a fever and delirious, raving
continually about the bonny face and 'breet een' of the being he had
seen in the ravine. His afflicted parents found in the wild utterances
sad confirmation of their worst fears, and, half broken-hearted, they
hovered sorrowfully about his bed. For weeks he battled with the
disorder, and at nightfall frequently endeavoured to leave the house,
and vainly struggled with the friends who prevented him, to whom he
frantically cried that she of the blue eyes was calling him.

A cloud fell over the hitherto happy household. Night and day the old
people watched over their sick lad, each of them feeling that the task
would have been a comparatively easy one had not the patient's
delirious ravings revealed to them so terrible a background to the
round of their primitive and innocent daily life. Not that they loved
their child any less because of the revelations he had unconsciously
made to them, but they brooded and fretted over his supposed
wickedness, and bowed their heads in grief and shame as they
unwillingly heard his impassioned cries.

By-and-by the story of these ravings got noised about, and the
miller's daughter, who hitherto had been suffering bravely, broke down
altogether when she knew that she was an object of pity to the
gossips. It fortunately happened, however, that the miller's men who
had seen Giles at the pike got into conversation with their master
about the matter, and it struck one of them that the woman about whom
Giles was supposed to be raving, and of whom tales of all sorts were
being circulated, was a feeorin of some kind that the young fellow had
seen on the lonely fell. No sooner was this idea arrived at than off
they started to see the distressed parents, the miller's daughter
hastening with them. They found no difficulty in gaining credence for
their narrative, and with a burst of thankfulness the old people felt
that the gulf which had yawned between them and their eldest born was
for ever closed; while, as for the girl, her transports of joy were
almost painful in their intensity. So great a weight was lifted from
all hearts that the illness of the patient was for the time almost
forgotten. Giles, however, still remained in a very critical
condition, but he soon had an additional nurse, who, despite the
watchings and the toil of which she relieved the old people, was
rapidly becoming more and more like the ruddy-faced damsel to whom the
young fellow had plighted his troth, for she could listen to and
disregard the ravings of her lover and look forward to the time when
happiness should again smile upon them.

A few weeks passed. The violence of the disorder abated, and the
patient recovered so far as to be able to bear removal to a large
chair by the kitchen fire. As he sat quietly dreaming the short autumn
days away, without any allusions to the beauty about whom he had so
constantly raved during his delirium, the old people and the miller's
daughter began to congratulate themselves that the dream-madness had
passed away with the worst phase of the illness. The girl, however,
although she did not utter any complaint, suffered deeply from the
coolness with which Giles treated her. Not that he was ungrateful,
for, on the contrary, it was impossible to do anything for him,
however slight the service might be, without a thankful
acknowledgment; but there was a visible constraint in his manner which
could not escape the keen sight of love. Fearing to distress him by
any remonstrances, the patient girl refrained from referring to the
past or showing that she was observant of any change in his behaviour
towards her, but she brooded over her grief when she was alone. The
young fellow knew that the poor girl was suffering, but for the life
of him he could not assume that which he did not feel. Much as he had
loved her before the night of his adventure on the pike, from the
moment when he had first seen the face of the mysterious being his
affection for her had faded away, consumed by the intense longing
which filled his soul night and day whenever he thought of the eyes
illumined by a fire that was not human, and of the features and hair
so exquisitely beautiful in the faint moonlight. Calm and quiet as he
looked, seated propped with cushions in the old chair by the fire, he
was inwardly fretting against the weakness that kept him from the
fells, and his longing soul came into his eyes as he gazed through the
little diamond-paned window, and saw the pike, in all the beauty of
many-tinted autumn, kissed by the setting sun as the blushing day sank
into the swarthy arms of night.

Slowly winter came, bringing snow and storm, and as though influenced
by a feeling that even Nature had interposed her barriers between him
and the lovely being, one afternoon, as the mists crept slowly over
the white landscape, and hid in their shimmering folds the distant
fells where he had first seen the sweet face so seldom absent from
his feverish dreams, he could not resist the desire which seized him
to visit once more the haunted ravine. The various members of the
little household were away from the house engaged in their labours
about the farm, and taking advantage of this, Giles fled from the
dwelling, and made his way through the dim light to the hills. It was
not long, however, before his absence was discovered, but some time
elapsed before the men-folk could be gathered, and the shades of night
had fallen before the anxious pursuers reached the foot of the pike.

The thick mist had enveloped everything, and as the lanterns, choked
as they were by the damp, threw but a fitful light, it was with the
utmost difficulty that the men found the footmarks of the wanderer in
the snow up the fell side. The searchers were led by the father of
Giles, who spoke not, but glanced at the track as though in dread of
discovering that which he had come to find. Suddenly the old man gave
a startled cry, for he had followed the marks to the edge of a little
cliff, over which he had almost fallen in his eagerness. It was
forthwith determined to follow the ravine to its commencement, and
although nothing was said by any of the party, each man felt certain
that the missing young fellow would be found at the bottom. It did not
take long to reach the entrance, and with careful steps the old man
led the way over the boulders. He had not gone far before the light
from his lantern fell upon the upturned face of his son, whose body
lay across the course of a little frozen stream. The features were set
in the sleep of death, for Giles had fallen from the level above, the
creeping mists having obscured the gorge where he first saw the lovely
phantom, in search of which he had met an untimely end.



ALLHALLOW'S NIGHT.


To many a beautiful landscape the majestic Pendle adds a nameless
charm, and the traveller who gazes upon it from any of the points
whence a view of the whalelike mass is to be obtained, would hardly
dream that the moss and fern-covered hill, smiling through the dim
haze, once was the headquarters of witchcraft and devilry. Readers of
the quaint and sad trials of the witchmania period, and of Harrison
Ainsworth's celebrated novel based thereon, will, however, remember
what dread scenes were said to have transpired in the dim light of its
cloughs and upon its wild sides, when Chattox, Mouldheels, and the
other poor wretches whose 'devilish practices and hellish means,' as
they were termed in the old indictments, made the neighbourhood of the
mountain so unsafe a locality.

In a lonely little house some distance from the foot of Pendle, there
dwelt a farmer and his family, together with a labourer whom he
employed. Entirely illiterate, and living in a wild and weird
district, with but few houses nearer than a mile away, the household
believed firmly in all the dreadful boggart, witch, and feeorin
stories current in the district. For a long time, however, the farmer
had not any personal experience of the power of either witch or
boggart; but at length his turn came. After a tempestuous night, when
the windows and doors rattled in their frames, and the wind, dashing
the big rain drops against the little diamond-shaped panes, moaned and
shrieked round the lonely dwelling, three of the beasts were found
dead in the shippon. A few days afterwards two of the children
sickened, and when 'th' edge o' dark' was creeping up the hill-side
one of them died. As though this trouble was not enough, the crops
were blighted. With reluctance the farmer saw in these things proof
that he had in some unknown manner incurred the displeasure of the
invisible powers, and that the horse-shoe over his door, the branches
of ash over the entrance to the shippon, and the hag stones hung up
at the head of his own and of the children's bed, had lost their power
of protection.

The family council, at which the unprotected condition of the house
was discussed, was of the saddest kind, for even the rough labourer
missed the prattle of the little one whose untimely end had cast a
shadow over the dwelling, and he thoroughly sympathised with his
master in his losses; while, as for the farmer and his wife, dread of
what the future might have in store for them mingled with their
sorrow, and added to the heaviness of their hearts.

'Isaac, yo' may as weel tek' th' wiggin{27} an' th' horse shoes
deawn, for onny use they seem to be on. We'en nowt to keep th' feorin'
off fra' us, an' I deawt we'es come off bud badly till November,' said
the farmer, as he knocked the ashes from his pipe.

'An' why nobbut till November, Ralph,' asked the wife in a terrified
voice, as she gazed anxiously towards the little window through which
Pendle could be dimly seen looming against the evening sky.

'Because on O'Hallow neet, mi lass, I meean to leet th' witches{28}
on Pendle.'

'Heaven save us!' cried the woman. 'Tha'll be lost as sewer as th'
whorld.'

There was a short silence, and then old Isaac spoke--

'If th' mestur goes, Isik guz too. Wis be company, at onny rate.'

The farmer gratefully accepted this offer of fellowship, and the
appeals of his wife, who implored him to abandon the notion, were of
no avail. Others had lighted the witches, and thereby secured a
twelvemonth's immunity from harm, and why should not he go and do
likewise? Ruin was staring him in the face if things did not improve,
thought he, and his determination to 'leet' his unseen enemies grew
stronger and stronger.

At length the last day of October came, bringing with it huge clouds
and a misty rain, which quite obscured the weird hill; but at
nightfall the wind rose, the rain ceased, the stars began to appear,
and the huge outline of Pendle became visible.

When the day's work was over, the farmer and Isaac sat in the kitchen,
waiting for the hour at which they were to start for the haunted
mountain, and the dread and lonesome building where the witches from
all parts gathered in mysterious and infernal conclave. Neither of the
men looked forward to the excursion with pleasurable feelings, for, as
the emotion caused by the losses had somewhat subsided, terror of the
beings who were supposed to assemble in the Malkin Tower resumed its
sway; but soon after the old clock had chimed ten they rose from the
settle and began their preparations for the lighting. Each man grasped
a branch of mountain ash, to which several sprigs of bay were tied as
a double protection against thunder and lightning, and any stray
fiends that might happen to be lurking about, and each carried in the
other hand an unlighted candle.

As they passed from the house the tearful goodwife cried a blessing
upon them, and a massive old bulldog crept from a corner of the yard
and took its place at their heels.

The three stepped along bravely, and before long they had crossed the
brook and reached the foot of Pendle. Rapidly making their way to a
well-known ravine they paused to light the candles. This operation,
performed by means of a flint and steel and a box of tinder, occupied
some time; and while they were so engaged clouds obscured the moon, a
few heavy drops of rain fell, the wind ceased to whisper, and an
ominous silence reigned, and the dog, as though terrified, crept
closer to its master and uttered a low whine.

'We's hev' a storm, I daat, Isik,' said the farmer.

'Ise think mysen weel off an' win nowt else bud a storm,' drily
replied the old man, as, lighted candle in hand, he began to climb the
hill-side, his master and the dog following closely behind.

When they had almost reached the top of the ravine a flash of
lightning suddenly pierced the darkness, and a peal of thunder seemed
to shake the earth beneath them; while a weird and unearthly shriek of
laughter rang in their ears as a black figure flew slowly past them,
almost brushing against their faces in its flight. The dog immediately
turned and fled, howling terribly as it ran down the hill-side; but
the men went on, each one carefully shading his light with the hand in
which the branch of ash was grasped. The road gradually became
rougher, and occasionally Isaac stumbled over a stone, and almost
fell, the farmer frantically shouting to him to be careful of his
candle, but without any serious mishap the pair managed to get within
sight of the tower.

Evidently some infernal revelry was going on, for light streamed from
the window-openings, and above the crash of the thunder came shrieks
of discordant laughter. Every now and again a dark figure floated over
their heads and whirled in at one of the windows, and the noise became
louder, by the addition of another shrill voice.

'It mon be drawin' nee midneet,' said the farmer. 'If we con but pass
th' hour wis be reet for a twelvemonth. Let's mek for whoam neaw.'

Both men readily turned their backs to the building, but no sooner had
they done so than a Satanic face, with gleaming eyes, was visible for
a moment, and instantaneously both lights were extinguished.

'God bless us!' immediately cried both men.

Almost before the words had left their lips the tower was plunged in
total darkness, the shrieks of unholy laughter were suddenly stilled,
and sounds were heard as of the rapid flight of the hags and their
familiars, for the ejaculations had broken up the gathering.

Terrified beyond measure at the extinction of their lights, but still
clinging tenaciously to the branches, which apparently had proved so
ineffectual to preserve them against the power of the witches, the men
hurried away. They had not proceeded far in the direction in which
they supposed the farm lay, when, with a cry, the farmer, who was a
little in advance of his aged companion, fell and vanished. He had
slipped down the cleft, on the brink of which Isaac stood, tremblingly
endeavouring to pierce the darkness below.

Not a sound came up to tell the old man that his master had escaped
with his life; and, as no response came to his shouts, at length he
turned away, feeling sure that he was masterless, and hoping to be
able to reach the farm, and obtain assistance. After wandering about
for some time, however, half-blinded by the lightning, and terrified
beyond measure at the result of their mutual boldness, Isaac crept
under a large stone, to wait for the dawn. Influenced by the cold and
by fatigue, the old man fell asleep; but no sooner had the first faint
rays of coming day kissed the hill-summit, than he was aroused by the
old bulldog licking his face, and as he gazed around in sleepy
astonishment some men appeared. The farmer's wife, terrified by the
arrival of the howling dog, and the non-arrival of the 'leeters,' had
made her way to a distant farm-house and alarmed the inmates, and a
party of sturdy fellows had started off to find the missing men.
Isaac's story was soon told; and when the searchers reached the gorge
the farmer was found nursing a broken leg.

Great were the rejoicings of the goodwife when the cavalcade reached
the farm, for, bad as matters were, she had expected even a worse
ending; and afterwards, when unwonted prosperity had blessed the
household, she used to say, drily, 'Yo' met ha' kept th' candles in to
leet yo' whoam, for it mon ha' bin after midneet when _he_ blew 'em
aat,' a joke which invariably caused the farmer and old Isaac to smile
grimly.



THE CHRISTMAS-EVE VIGIL.


Many years have passed since the living of Walton-le-Dale was held by
a gentleman of singularly-reserved and studious habits, who, from noon
till night, pored over dusty black-letter folios. Although he was by
no means forgetful of the few duties which pertained to his sacred
office, and never failed to attend to the wants of those of his
parishioners who were in trouble and had need of kind words of
sympathy and advice, or even of assistance of a more substantial
nature, the length of time he devoted to his mysterious-looking
volumes, and a habit he had of talking to himself, as, late at night,
with head bent down, he passed along the village street, and vanished
into the darkness of a lonely lane, gave rise to cruel rumours that he
was a professor of the black art; and it was even whispered that his
night walks were pilgrimages to unholy scenes of Satanic revelry.
These suspicions deepened almost into certainty when the old people
who had charge of his house informed the gossips that the contents of
a large package, since the arrival of which the women in the village
had been unable to sleep for curiosity, were strange-looking bottles,
of a weird shape, with awful signs and figures upon them; and that,
during the evening, after the carrier had brought them, noises were
heard in the clergyman's room, and the house was filled with
sulphurous smoke. Passing from one gossip to another, the story did
not fail to receive additions as usual, until when it reached the last
house in the straggling village the narrator told how the student had
raised the Evil One, who, after filling the house with brimstone,
vanished in a ball of fire, not, however, without first having
imprinted the mark of his claws upon the study table.

Had the unconscious clergyman lived more in the everyday world around
him, and less in that of black-letter books, he would not have failed
to perceive the averted looks with which his parishioners acknowledged
his greetings, or, what would have pained him even more deeply, the
frightened manner in which the children either fled at his approach,
if they were playing in the lanes, or crept close to their parents
when he entered the dwellings of the cottagers. Ignorant alike of the
absurd rumours, and unobservant of the change which had come over his
flock, or at least acting as though unaware of them, the clergyman
continued to perform the duties of his sacred office, and to fly from
them to his beloved volumes and experiments, growing more and more
reserved in his habits, and visibly paling under his close
application.

After matters had gone on in this way for some time, the villagers
were surprised to see a friendship spring up and ripen between their
pastor and an old resident in the village, of almost equally strange
habits. There was, however, in reality but little to wonder at in
this, for the similarity between the pursuits and tastes of the two
students was sufficiently great to bridge over the gulf of
widely-different social positions.

Abraham, or 'Owd Abrum,' as he was generally named, was a herb doctor,
whose knowledge of out-of-the-way plants which possessed mysterious
medicinal virtues, and of still more wonderful charms and spells, was
the theme of conversation by every farmhouse fireside for miles round.
At that day, and in that locality, the possession of a few books
sufficed to make a man a wonder to his neighbours; and Abraham had a
little shelf full of volumes upon his favourite subjects of botany and
astrology.

The old man lived by himself in a little cottage, some distance along
a lane leading from the village across the meadows; and, despite the
absence of female supervision, the place always was as clean and
bright as a new pin. Had he needed any assistance in his household
duties, Abraham would not have asked in vain for it, for he was feared
as well as respected. If he was able to charm away evil and sickness,
could he not also bring sickness and evil? So reasoned the simple
villagers; and those who were not, even unconsciously, influenced by
the guileless everyday life of the old man, were impressed by the idea
that he had the power to cast trouble upon them if they failed to
maintain an outward show of reverence.

However early the villagers might be astir, as they passed along the
lanes on their way to their labour in the fields, they were certain to
find 'Owd Abrum' searching by the hedgerows or in the plantations for
herbs, to be gathered with the dew upon them; and at night the belated
cottager, returning from a distant farm, was equally certain of
finding Abraham gazing at the heavens, 'finding things aat abaat
fowk,' as the superstitious country people said and believed.

Addicted to such nocturnal studies, it was not likely that the old
herb doctor and the pale student would remain unknown to each other.
The acquaintance however, owing to the reserved habits of both, began
in a somewhat singular manner. Returning from a long and late walk
about midnight, the minister was still some distance from his abode,
when he heard a clear voice say: 'Now is the time, if I can find any:
Jupiter is angular, the moon's applied to him, and his aspect is
good.'

The night was somewhat cloudy--the stars being visible only at
intervals--and it was not until the clergyman had advanced a little
way that he was able to perceive the person who had spoken. He saw
that it was the old herbalist, and immediately accosted him. An
animated conversation followed, Abraham expatiating on the virtues of
the plants he had been gathering under the dominion of their
respective planets, and astonishing the pale student by the extent of
his information. In his turn, the old man was delighted to find in the
clergyman a fellow-enthusiast in the forbidden ways of science; and as
the student was no less charmed to discover in the 'yarb doctor' a
scholar who could sympathise with him and understand his yearnings
after the invisible, late as was the hour, the pair adjourned to
Abraham's cottage. The visitor did not emerge until the labourers were
going to their toil, the time having been spent in conversation upon
the powers exercised by the planets upon plants and men, the old man
growing eloquent as to the wonderful virtue of the Bay Tree, which, he
said, could resist all the evil Saturn could do to the human body, and
in the neighbourhood of which neither wizard nor devil, thunder or
lightning, could hurt man; of Moonwort, with the leaves of which locks
might be opened, and the shoes be removed from horses' feet; of
Celandine, with which, if a young swallow loseth an eye, the parent
birds will renew it; of Hound's Tongue, a leaf of which laid under the
foot will save the bearer from the attacks of dogs; of Bugloss, the
leaf of which maketh man poison-proof; of Sweet Basil, from which
(quoting Miraldus) venomous beasts spring--the man who smelleth it
having a scorpion bred in his brain; and of a score of other herbs
under the dominion of the Moon and Cancer, and of the cures wrought by
them through antipathy to Saturn.

From that time the pair became intimate friends, the clergyman
yielding, with all the ardour of youth, to the attraction which drew
him towards the learned old man; and Abraham gradually growing to love
the pale-faced student, whose thirst after knowledge was as intense as
his own. Seldom a day passed on which one of them might not have been
observed on his way to the abode of the other; and often at night the
pair walked together, their earnest voices disturbing the slumbering
echoes, as at unholy hours they passed up the hill, and through the
old churchyard, with its moss-covered stones and its rank vegetation.

Upon one of these occasions they had talked about supernatural
appearances; and as they were coming through the somewhat neglected
God's Acre, the clergyman said he had read, in an old volume, that to
anyone who dared, after the performance of certain ghastly ceremonies,
wait in the church porch on Christmas-eve, the features of those who
were to die during the following year would be revealed, and that he
intended upon the night before the coming festival to try the spell.
The old man at once expressed a wish to take part in the trial, and
before the two parted it was agreed that both should go through the
preliminary charms, and keep the vigil.

In due time the winter came, with its sweet anodyne of snow, and as
Christmas approached everything was got in readiness.

Soon after sunset on Christmas-eve the old herb doctor wended his way
to the dwelling of his friend, taking with him St. John's Wort,
Mountain Ash, Bay leaves, and Holly. The enthusiasts passed the
evening in conversation upon the mysterious qualities of graveyard
plants; but shortly after the clock struck eleven they arose, and
began to prepare for the vigil, by taking precautions against the
inclemency of the weather, for the night was very cold, large flakes
of snow falling silently and thickly upon the frozen ground.

When both were ready the old man stepped to the door to see that the
road was clear, for, in order to go through the form of incantation, a
small fire was requisite; and as they were about to convey it in a
can, they were anxious that the strange proceeding should not be
noticed by the villagers. Late as it was, however, lights shone here
and there in the windows, and even from the doorways, for, although it
was near midnight, many of the cottage doors were wide open, it being
believed that if, on Christmas-eve, the way was thus left clear, and a
member of the family read the Gospel according to St. Luke, the saint
himself would pass through the house.

As the two men, after carefully closing the door behind them, stepped
into the road, a distant singer trolled forth a seasonable old hymn.
This was the only noise, however, the village street being deserted.
They reached the churchyard without having been observed, and at once
made their way round the sacred building, so as not to be exposed to
the view of any chance reveller returning to his home. It was well
that they did so, for they had hardly deposited the can of burning
charcoal upon a tombstone ere sounds of footsteps, somewhat muffled by
the snow, were heard, and several men passed through the wicket. They
were, however, only the ringers, on their way to the belfry, and in a
few minutes they had entered the building, and all was still again for
a few moments, when, upon the ears of the somewhat nervous men there
fell the voices of choristers singing under the window of a
neighbouring house the old Lancashire carol--

    'As I sat anonder yon green tree,
    Yon green tree, yon green tree--

    As I sat anonder yon green tree
    A Christmas day in the morning.'{29}

The words could be heard distinctly, and almost unconsciously the two
men stood to listen; but directly the voices ceased the student asked
if they had not better begin, as the time was passing rapidly.

'Ay,' replied Abraham, 'we han it to do, an' we'd better ger it ower.'

Without any more words they entered the porch, and at once made a
circle around them with leaves of Vervain, Bay, and Holly. The old man
gave to his companion a branch of Wiggintree,{27} and firmly held
another little bough, as with his disengaged hand he scattered a
powder upon the embers. A faint odour floated around them, as they
chanted a singular Latin prayer; and no sooner was the last word
uttered than a strain of sweet sad music, too inexpressibly soft and
mournful to be of earth, was heard. Every moment it seemed to be dying
away in a delicious cadence, but again and again was the weird melody
taken up by the invisible singers, as the listeners sank to their
knees spell-bound. An icy breath of wind hissed round the porch,
however, and called the entranced men to their senses, and suddenly
the student grasped the arm of his aged companion, and cried, in a
terrified voice--

'Abraham, the spell works. Behold!'

The old man gazed in the direction pointed out, and, to his
inexpressible horror, saw a procession wending its way towards the
porch. It consisted of a stream of figures wrapped up in
grave-clothes, gleaming white in the dim light. With solemn and
noiseless steps the ghastly objects approached the circle in which
stood the venturesome men, and, as they drew nearer, the faces of the
first two could be seen distinctly, for the blazing powder cast a
lurid glow upon them, and made them even more ghastly.

Both spectators had almost unconsciously recognised the features of
several of the villagers, when they were aroused from their lethargy
of terror by the appearance of one face, which seemed to linger longer
than its predecessors had done. Abraham at once saw that the likeness
was that of the man by his side, and the clergyman sank to the ground
in a swoon.

For some time the old man was too much affected by the lingering face
to think of restoring the unconscious man at his feet; but at length
the clashing of the bells over his head, as they rang forth a
Christmas greeting, called him to himself, and he bent over the
prostrate form of his friend. The minister soon recovered, but as he
was too weak to walk, the old man ran to the belfry to beg the ringers
to come to his assistance. When these men came round to the porch the
fire was still burning, the flickering flames of various colours
casting dancing shadows upon the walls.

'Abraham,' said one of the ringers, 'there's bin some wizzard wark
goin' on here, an' yo' sin what yo'n getten by it.'

'Han yo' bin awsin to raise th' devul, an' Kesmus-eve an' o'?' asked
another, in a low and terrified voice.

With a satirical smile, Abraham answered the last speaker: 'It dusn't
need o' this mak' o' things to raise th' devul, lad. He's nare so far
fra' thuse as wants him.'

Bearing the clergyman in their arms, the men walked through the
village, but they did not separate without having, in return for the
confidence Abraham reposed in them by confiding to them the secret of
the vigil, promised strict secrecy as to what they had witnessed.

Abraham's companion soon recovered from the shock, but not before the
story of the night-watch had gone the round of the village. Many were
the appeals made to the old herbalist to reveal his strangely-acquired
knowledge, but Abraham remained sternly obdurate, remarking to each of
his questioners--

'Yo'll know soon enough, mebbi.'

The clergyman, however, was in a more awkward position, and his
parishioners soon made him aware how unwise he had been in giving way
to the desire to pry into futurity; for, when any of them were ill and
he expressed a kindly wish for their recovery, it was by no means
unusual for the sick person to reply--

'Yo could tell me heaw it will end iv yo' loiked.'

This oftentimes being followed by a petition from the assembled
relatives--

'Will yo tell us if he wir one o' th' processioners?'

Ultimately Abraham's companion went away, in the hope of returning
when the memory of the watch should have become less keen, but, before
a few months had passed away, news came of his death, after a violent
attack of fever caught during a visit to a wretched hovel in the
fishing village where he was staying. By the next December, all the
people whose features the old herbalist had recognised during the
procession had been carried to the churchyard; but, although several
men offered to accompany Abraham to the porch on the forthcoming
Christmas-eve, he dared not again go through the spells and undergo
the terrors of a church-porch vigil.{30}



THE CRIER OF CLAIFE.


Upon a wild winter night, some centuries ago, the old man who plied
the ferry-boat on Windermere, and who lived in a lonely cottage on the
Lancashire side of the Lake, was awakened from his sleep by an
exceedingly shrill and terrible shriek, which seemed to come from the
opposite shore. The wind was whistling and moaning round the house,
and for a little while the ferryman and his family fancied that the
cry by which they had been disturbed was nothing more than one of the
mournful voices of the storm; but soon again came another shriek, even
more awe-inspiring than the former one, and this was followed by
smothered shouts and groans of a most unearthly nature.

Against the wishes of his terrified relatives, who clung to him, and
besought him to remain indoors, the old fellow bravely determined to
cross the water, and heeding not the prayers of his wife and daughter,
he unfastened his boat, and rowed away. The two women, clasped in each
other's arms, trembling with fear, stood at the little door, and
endeavoured to make out the form of their protector; but the darkness
was too deep for them to see anything upon the lake. At intervals,
however, the terrible cry rang out through the gloom, and shrieks and
moans were heard loud above the mysterious noises of the night.

In a state of dreadful suspense and terror the women stood for some
time, but at length they saw the boat suddenly emerge from the
darkness, and shoot into the little cove. To their great surprise,
however, the ferryman, who could be seen sitting alone, made no effort
to land, and make his way to the cottage; so, fearing that something
dreadful had happened to him, and, impelled by love, they rushed to
the side of the lake. They found the old man speechless, his face as
white and blanched as the snow upon the Nab, and his whole body
trembling under the influence of terror, and they immediately led him
to the cottage, but though appealed to, to say what terrible object
he had seen, he made no other response than an occasional subdued
moan. For several days he remained in that state, deaf to their
piteous entreaties, and staring at them with wild-looking eyes; but at
length the end came, and, during the gloaming of a beautiful day, he
died, without having revealed to those around him what he had seen
when, in answer to the midnight cry, he had rowed the ferry-boat
across the storm-ruffled lake.

After the funeral had taken place the women left the house, its
associations being too painful to permit of their stay, and went to
live at Hawkshead, whence two sturdy men, with their respective
families, removed to the ferry. The day following that of the arrival
of the new-comers was rough and wild, and, soon after darkness had
hidden everything in its sable folds, across the lake came the fearful
cry, followed by a faint shout for a boat, and screams and moans. The
men, hardy as they were, and often as they had laughed at the story
told by the widow of the dead man, no sooner heard the first shriek
ring through the cottage than they were smitten with terror.
Profiting, however, by the experience of their predecessor, and
influenced by fear, they did not make any attempt to cross the lake,
and the cries continued until some time after midnight.

Afterwards, whenever the day closed gloomily, and ushered in a stormy
night, and the wind lashed the water of the lake into fury, the
terrible noises were heard with startling distinctness, until at
length the dwellers in the cottage became so accustomed to the noises
as not to be disturbed by them, or, if disturbed, to fall asleep again
after an ejaculation of 't' crier!' Pedlars and others who had to
cross the lake, however, were not so hardened, and after a time the
ferry-boat was almost disused, for the superstitious people did not
dare to cross the haunted water, save in the broad daylight of summer.

It therefore struck the two individuals who were most concerned in the
maintenance of the ferry that if they intended to live they must do
something to rid the place of its bad name, and of the unseen being
who had driven away all their patrons. In their extremity they asked
each other who should help them, if not the holy monks, who had come
over the sea to the abbey in the Valley of Deadly Night Shade; and one
of the ferrymen at once set out for Furness. No sooner had he set eyes
upon the stately pile erected by the Savignian and his companions than
his heart felt lighter, for he had a simple faith in the marvellous
power of the white-robed men, whose voices were seldom if ever heard,
save when lifted in worship during one of their seven daily services.

Knocking at the massive door, he was received by a ruddy-looking
servitor, who ushered him into the presence of the abbot. The ferryman
soon told his story, and begged that a monk might return with him to
lay the troubled spirit, and after hearing the particulars of the
visitation, the abbot granted the request, making a proviso, however,
that the abbey coffers should not be forgotten when the lake was freed
from the fiend.

No sooner had the visitor finished the meal set before him by the
hospitable monks than, in company with one of the holy men, he set out
homeward. As, by a rule of his order, the monk was not permitted to
converse, the journey was not an enlivening one, and the ferryman was
heartily glad when they reached his cottage.

The first night passed without any alarm, the monk and his hosts
spending the dreary hours in watching and waiting. The following day,
however, was as stormy as the worst enemy of the ferry could have
wished, and, when night fell, all the dwellers in the cottage, as well
as the silent monk, gathered together again to wait for the cries, but
some hours passed without any other sounds having been heard than
those caused by the restless wind, as it swept over the lake and among
the trees. The Cistercian was beginning to imagine himself the victim
of an irreverent practical joke, and that the stories of the spectral
crier which had reached the distant abbey long before the ferryman's
visit were a pack of falsehoods, when about midnight, he suddenly
jumped from the chair upon which he was dozing by the wood fire,
hastily made the sign of the cross, and hurriedly commended himself to
the protection of his patron saint, for sharp and clear came the dread
cry, followed rapidly by a number of shrieks and groans and a
smothered appeal for a boat.

In an instant one of the men, with courage doubtless inspired by the
presence of the holy man, shouldered the oars and opened the door, and
the monk at once stepped into the open air and hurried to the lake,
the men following at a respectful distance. The white-robed father was
the first to get into the boat, and the ferrymen hoped that he
intended to go alone, but he called upon them to propel the boat to
the middle of the lake, and much as they disliked the task, as it was
on their behalf that the monk was about to combat the evil spirit,
they could not well refuse to accompany him.

When they were about half-way across the lake the wind suddenly
lulled, and once more they heard the awful scream, and this time it
sounded as though the crier was quite close to them. The occupants of
the boat were terribly frightened, and one of them, after suddenly
shrieking 'he's here,' fainted, and lay still at the bottom of the
boat, while the monk and the other man stared straight before them, as
though petrified.

There was a fourth person present, a grim and ghastly figure, with the
trappings of this life still dangling about its withered and shrunken
limbs, and a gaping wound in its pallid throat. For a few minutes
there was a dead silence, but at last it was broken by the monk, who
rapidly muttered a prayer for protection against evil spirits, and
then took a bottle from a pocket of his robe, and sprinkled a few
drops of holy water upon himself and the ferryman, who remained in the
same statuesque attitude, and upon the unconscious occupant of the
bottom of the boat. After this ceremony, he opened a little book, and,
in a sonorous voice, intoned the form for the exorcism of a wandering
soul, concluding with _Vade ad Gehennam!_ when to the infinite relief
of the ferryman, and probably of the monk also, the ghastly figure
forthwith vanished.

The Cistercian asked to be immediately taken to the shore, and when he
neared the house, the little book was again brought into requisition,
and the spirit's visits, should it ever again put in an appearance,
limited to an old and disused quarry, a distance from the
cottage.{31}

From that time to this, the wild, lonely place has indeed been
desolate and deserted, the boldest people of the district not having
sufficient courage to venture near it at nightfall, and the more timid
ones shunning the locality even at noonday. These folks aver that
even yet, despite the prayers and exorcisms of the white-robed
Cistercian from Furness, whenever a storm descends upon the lake, the
Crier escapes from his temporary prison house, and revisits the scene
of his first and second appearance to men, and that on such nights,
loud above the echoed rumble of the thunder, and the lonely sough of
the wind, the benighted wayfarer still hears the wild shrieks and the
muffled cry for a boat.



THE DEMON OF THE OAK.


Once a fortress and a mansion, but now, unfortunately, little more
than a noble ruin, Hoghton Tower stands on one of the most commanding
sites in Lancashire. From the fine old entrance-gate a beautiful
expanse of highly-cultivated land slopes down and stretches away to
the distant sea, glimmering like a strip of molten silver; and on
either hand there are beautiful woods, in the old times 'so full of
tymber that a man passing through could scarce have seen the sun shine
in the middle of the day.' At the foot of these wooded heights a
little river ripples through a wild ravine, and meanders through the
rich meadows to the proud Ribble. From the building itself, however,
the glory has departed. Over the noble gateway, with its embattled
towers, and in one of the fast-decaying wainscots, the old family
arms, with the motto, _Mal Gre le Tort_, still remain; but these
things, and a few mouldering portraits, are all that are left there to
tell of the stately women who, from the time of Elizabeth down to
comparatively modern days, pensively watched the setting sun gild the
waters of the far-off Irish Sea, and dreamed of lovers away in the
wars--trifling things to be the only unwritten records of the noble
men who buckled on their weapons, and climbed into the turrets to gaze
over the road along which would come the expected besieging parties.
Gone are the gallants and their ladies, the roystering Cavalier and
the patient but none the less brave Puritan, for, as Isaac Ambrose has
recorded, during the troublous times of the Restoration, the place,
with its grand banqueting chamber, its fine old staircases, and quaint
little windows, was 'a colledge for religion.' The old Tower resounds
no more with the gay song of the one or the solemn hymn of the other,

     'Men may come, and men may go,'

and an old tradition outlives them all.

To this once charming mansion there came, long ago, a young man,
named Edgar Astley. His sable garments told that he mourned the loss
of a relative or friend; and he had not been long at the Tower before
it began to be whispered in the servants'-hall that 'the trappings and
the suits of woe' were worn in memory of a girl who had been false to
him, and who had died soon after her marriage to his rival. This story
in itself was sufficient to throw a halo of romance around the young
visitor; but when it was rumoured that domestics, who had been
returning to the Tower late at night, had seen strange-coloured lights
burning in Edgar's room, and that, even at daybreak, the early risers
had seen the lights still unextinguished, and the shadow of the
watcher pass across the curtains, an element of fear mingled with the
feelings with which he was regarded.

There was much in the visitor calculated to deepen the impressions by
which the superstitious domestics were influenced, for, surrounded by
an atmosphere of gloom, out of which he seemed to start when any of
them addressed him, and appearing studiously to shun all the society
which it was possible for him to avoid, he spent most of his time
alone, seated beneath the spreading branches of the giant oak tree at
the end of the garden, reading black-letter volumes, and plunged in
meditation. Not that he was in any way rude to his hosts; on the
contrary, he was almost chivalrous in his attention to the younger
members of the family and to the ladies of the house, who, in their
turn, regarded him with affectionate pity, and did their utmost to
wean him from his lonely pursuits. Yet, although he would willingly
accompany them through the woods, or to the distant town, the approach
of the gloaming invariably found him in his usual place beneath the
shadow of the gnarled old boughs, either poring over his favourite
books, or, with eyes fixed upon vacancy, lost in a reverie.

Time would, the kind people thought, bring balm to his wounds, and in
the meanwhile they were glad to have their grief-stricken friend with
them; and fully appreciating their sympathy, Edgar came and went about
the place and grounds just as the whim of the moment took him. This
absence of curiosity on the part of the members of the family was,
however, amply compensated for by the open wonder with which many of
the domestics regarded the young stranger; and before he had been many
months in the house his nightly vigils were the theme of many a
serious conversation in the kitchen, where, in front of a cosy fire,
the gossips gathered to compare notes.

Unable to repress their vulgar curiosity, or to gratify it in any more
honourable or less dangerous manner, it was determined that one of the
domestics should, at the hour of twelve, creep to the door of the
visitor's chamber, and endeavour to discover what was the nature of
those pursuits which rendered lights necessary during the whole of the
night. The selection was soon made, and after a little demur the
chosen one agreed to perform the unpleasant task.

At midnight, therefore, the trembling ambassador made his way to the
distant door, and after a little hesitation, natural enough under the
circumstances, he stooped, and gazed through a hole in the dried oak
whence a knot had fallen. Edgar Astley was seated at a little table,
an old black-looking book with huge clasps open before him. With one
hand he shaded his eyes from the light which fell upon his face from
the flames of many colours dancing in a tall brazen cup. Suddenly,
however, he turned from his book, and put a few pinches of a
bright-looking powder to the burning matter in the stand. A searching
and sickly odour immediately filled the room, and the quivering flames
blazed upwards with increased life and vigour as the student turned
once more to the ponderous tome, and, after hastily glancing down its
pages, muttered: 'Strange that I cannot yet work the spell. All things
named here have I sought for and found, even blood of bat, dead man's
hand, venom of viper, root of gallows mandrake, and flesh of
unbaptized and strangled babe. Am I, then, not to succeed until I try
the charm of charms at the risk of life itself? And yet,' said he,
unconscious of the presence of the terrified listener, 'what should I
fear? So far have I gone uninjured, and now will I proceed to the
triumphant or the bitter end. Once I would have given the future
happiness of my soul to have called her by my name, and now what is
this paltry life to me that I should hesitate to risk it in this
quest, and perhaps win one glimpse of her face?'

There was a moment of silence as the student bent his head over the
book, but though no other person was visible, the listener, to his
horror, quickly heard a sharp hissing voice ask, 'And wouldst thou not
even yet give thy soul in exchange for speech with thy once
betrothed?' The student hastily stood erect, and rapidly cried: 'Let
me not be deceived! Whatever thou art, if thou canst bring her to me
my soul shall be thine now and for ever!'

There was a dead hush for a minute or two, during which the lout at
the door heard the beating of his own heart, and then the invisible
being again spoke: 'Be it so. Thou hast but one spell left untried.
When that has been done thou shalt have thy reward. Beneath the oak at
midnight she shall be brought to thee. Darest thou first behold me?'

'I have no fear,' calmly replied the student, but such was not the
state of the petrified listener, for no sooner had the lights
commenced to burn a weird blue than he sank fainting against the door.

When he came to consciousness he was within the awful room, the
student having dragged him in when he fell.

'What art thou, wherefore dost thou watch me at this hour, and what
hast thou seen?' sternly demanded Edgar, addressing the terrified
boor, and in few and trembling words the unhappy domestic briefly
answered the queries; but the student did not permit him to leave the
chamber, through the little window of which the dawn was streaming,
before he had sworn that not a word as to anything he had seen or
heard should pass his lips. The solemnity of the vow was deepened by
the mysterious and awful threats with which it was accompanied, and
the servant, therefore, loudly protested to his fellows that he had
not seen or heard anything, but that, overcome by his patient
watching, he had fallen asleep at the door; and many were the
congratulations which followed when it was imagined what the
consequences would have been had he been discovered in his strange
resting-place.

The day following that of the adventure passed over without anything
remarkable beyond the absence of Edgar from his usual seat under the
shade of the giant oak, but the night set in stormily, dark clouds
scudded before the wind, which swept up from the distant sea, and
moaned around the old tower, whirling the fallen leaves in fantastic
dances about the garden and the green, and shaking in its rage even
the iron boughs of the oak. The household had retired early, and at
eleven o'clock only Edgar and another were awake. In the student's
chamber the little lamp was burning and the book lay open as usual,
and Edgar pored over the pages, but at times he glanced impatiently at
the quaint clock. At length, with a sigh of relief, he said, sternly
and sadly, 'The time draws nigh, and once more we shall meet!' He then
gathered together a few articles from different corners of the room
and stepped out upon the broad landing, passed down the noble old
staircase, and out from the hall. Here he was met by a cold blast of
wind, which shrieked round him, as though rejoicing over its prey; and
as Edgar was battling with it, a man emerged from a recess and joined
him.

The night was quite dark, not a star or a rift in the sky visible, and
the two men could hardly pick their way along the well-known path.
They reached the oak tree, however, and Edgar placed the materials at
its foot, and at once, with a short wand, drew a large circle around
the domestic and himself. This done, he placed a little cauldron on
the grass, and filled it with a red powder, which, although the wind
was roaring through the branches above, immediately blazed up with a
steady flame.

The old mastiffs chained under the gateway began to howl dismally;
but, regardless of the omen,{32} Edgar struck the ground three times
with his hazel stick, and cried in a loud voice: 'Spirit of my love, I
conjure thee obey my words, and verily and truly come to me this
night!'

Hardly had he spoken when a shadowy figure of a beautiful child
appeared, as though floating around the magic ring. The servant sank
upon his knees, but the student regarded it not, and it vanished, and
the terrified listener again heard Edgar's voice as he uttered another
conjuration. No sooner had he begun this than terrible claps of
thunder were heard, lightning flashed round the tree, flocks of birds
flew across the garden and dashed themselves against the window of the
student's chamber, where a light still flickered; and, loud above the
noises of the storm, cocks could be heard shrilly crowing, and owls
uttering their mournful cries. In the midst of this hubbub the
necromancer calmly went on with his incantation, concluding with the
dread words: 'Spirit of my love, I conjure thee to fulfil my will
without deceit or tarrying, and without power over my soul or body
earthly or ghostly! If thou comest not, then let the shadow and the
darkness of death be upon thee for ever and ever!'

As the last word left his lips the storm abated its violence, and
comparative silence followed. Suddenly the little flame in the
cauldron flared up some yards in height, and sweet voices chanting
melodiously could be heard. 'Art thou prepared to behold the dead?'
asked an invisible being.

'I am!' undauntedly answered Edgar.

An appearance as of a thick mist gathered opposite him, and slowly, in
the midst of it, the outlines of a beautiful human face, with mournful
eyes, in which earthly love still lingered, could be discerned.

Clad in the garments of the grave, the betrothed of Edgar Astley
appeared before him.

For some time the young man gazed upon her as though entranced, but at
length he slowly extended his arms as though to embrace the beautiful
phantom. The domestic fell upon his face like one stricken by death,
the spectre vanished, and again the pealing thunder broke forth.

'Thou art for ever mine,' cried a hissing voice; but as the words
broke upon the ears of the two men, the door of the mansion was flung
open, and the old baronet and a number of the servants, who had been
disturbed by the violence of the storm, the howling of the dogs, and
the shrill cries of the birds, rushed forth.

'Come not near me if ye would save yourselves,' cried the necromancer.

'We would save thee,' shouted the old man, still advancing. '_In
nomine Patris_,' said he, solemnly, as he neared the magic circle; and
no sooner had the words left his lips than sudden stillness fell upon
the scene; the lightning no longer flashed round the oak; and, as the
flame in the cauldron sank down, the moon broke through a cloud, and
threw her soft light over the old garden.

Edgar was leaning against the oak tree, his eyes fixed in the
direction where the image of his betrothed had appeared; and when they
led him away, it was as one leads a trusting child, for the light of
reason had left him. The unfortunate domestic, being less sensitive,
retained his faculties; but he ever afterwards bore upon his wrist, as
if deeply burned into the flesh, the marks of a broad thumb and
fingers. This strange appearance he was wont to explain to stray
visitors, by saying that when, terrified almost out of his wits, he
fell to the ground, his hand was outside the magic circle, and
'summat' seized him; which lucid explanation was generally followed up
by an old and privileged servitor, who remarked, 'Tha'll t'hev mooar
marks nor thuse on tha' next toime as _He_ grabs tha', mi lad.'



THE BLACK COCK.


'Ay,' said Old 'Lijah, 'I mind one time when they said th' Owd Lad
hissel appear't i' broad dayleet, an' wir seen bi hunderts o' fowk,
owd an' yung.'

There was a dead silence for a little while as the listeners gathered
nearer the blazing fire, two or three of them getting a little further
away from the door, against which the wind was dashing the snow, and
then 'Lijah resumed: 'When I wir a lad, me an' mi mestur wer ast to a
berryin. Ther wer a deeol o' drink stirrin, th' coffee pot, wi th'
lemon peel hangin aat, gooin abaat fray one side to th' tother fast
enough, and at last o' wer ready, but just as they wer baan to lift
th' coffin a clap o' thunder shuke th' varra glasses o' th' table.

'Th' chaps as hed howd stopped a bit an' lukt raand, but th' deead
chap's feythur shouted, "Come on, lads, or wist be late, an' th'
paason waynt berry;" so they piked off, but no sooner hed they
getten' i' th' street nor a lad i' th' craad cried out, "Heigh, chaps,
luk at th' black cock {34} on th' top o' th' coffin," an' sure enough
theer it wor. One o' th' beerers said directly as they'd enough to
carry wi'out ony passingers, an' up wi' his fist an' knockt it off,
but it wer on ageean in a minit, an one bi' one they o' hed a slap at
it, but every time it wer knockt off back it flew to it' place at th'
deead mon's feet, so at last th' owd mon give th' word of command, an'
off they startit wi' th' looad. Th' craad geet bigger afooar they
reached th' owd country church wheer he hed to be berried, an' th'
fowk geet a throwin stooans at th' black bird, an' hittin it wi'
sticks an' shaatin at it, but it stuck theer like a fixter.

'After a while we reached th' graveyart, an' th' paason come deawn th'
road fray th' church door to meet th' coffin, an' he wer just baan to
start th' service when he see th' bird an' stopped.

'"What han yo' got theere?" he says, lukin varra vext, for he thowt
some marlock wer gooin on. "What han yo' theere, men?"

'Th' owd feythur stepped forrut an' towd him what hed happent, an' as
nooan on 'em could freetun it off it peeark naythur wi' sticks or
stooans or sweearin.

'"It's a strange tale," said th' vicar, "but we moant hev no brids
here! Yo' fowk keep eaut o' th' graveyart nobbut thuse as is invitet
to th' funeral! I'll settle him for yo!" an' so sayin he grabbed howd
o' th' cock, an' walked o'er th' graves wi' it to a place wheer th'
bruk run under th' hedges, an' then he bent deawn o' th' floor an'
dipped th' bird i'th' watter, an' held it theer for abaat a quarter ov
an hour.

'No sooner had he getten up, heawever, nor th' brid flew up eaut o'
th' watter quite unhort, an' hopped o'er th' grass to th' coffin an'
peearkt ageean as if nowt hed happent.

'Th' vicar lukt varra consarnt for a while, an' skrat his yed as he
staret at th' fowk.

'Theer's summat not reet abaat that brid,' he said, 'but that's no
rayson why we shouldn't bury th' deead!' an' he pottert off toart th'
grave, an' th' beerers carriet th' coffin to th' side, an' th' sarvice
wer gone through, wi' th' bird harkenin every word like a Christian.

'Th' chaps then startit o' lowerin th' coffin into th' grave, an' th'
brid still stuck o' th' peeark, an' it wer nobbut when th' hole wer
filled, as it came above graand ageean, an' theer it set on th' maand.

'A craad o' fowk waited abaat an' hung on th' graveyart wo' till th'
edge o' dark, an' then they piket off whoam, for they begun to think
as mebbi it were th' Owd Lad hissel, but a twothree on us stopped till
it wer neet afooar we went after 'em, th' cock sittin theear just th'
same as it hed done i' th' dayleet.

'It were usual i' thuse days to watch th' graves for a few neets, for
ther wer a deeal o' resurrectionin' gooin on i'o' directions, th'
body-snatchers hevin mooar orders than they could attend to; but
though th' deead chap's feythur offert brass an' plenty o' drink an'
meyt to anybody as ud keep a look aat, not one dar do it, an' th'
deead mon wer laft to tek care o' hissel, or for th' brid to mind him.

'Soon after dayleet th' next mornin I went wi' a twothree moor young
chaps to see heaw th' place lukt, an' th' grave hedn't bin brokken
into, but th' brid had flown, and fray that day to this I could never
find aat ayther wheer it coom fray or went to, but I heeart as th'
vicar said it met be th' Owd Lad claimin' his own.'



THE INVISIBLE BURDEN.


At the junction of the four cross roads, gleaming white in the hot
sunshine and hawthorn-bounded, and marked by the parallel ruts made by
the broad wheels of the country carts, the old public house of the
_Wyresdale Arms_ was scarcely ever without a number of timber wagons
or hay carts about its open door, the horses quietly munching from the
nose-bags and patiently waiting until their owners or drivers should
emerge from the sanded kitchen.

Nathan Peel's hostelry was the half-way house for all the farmers and
cart-drivers in the district, and generally quiet enough at night
time, but from its capacious kitchen roars of laughter rang out many a
summer afternoon, as the carters and yeomen told their droll stories.

On one of these occasions, when the sun was blazing outside, and
shimmering upon the sands and the distant sea, and through the open
window the perfume of the may-blossom stole gently, a quaint looking
old fellow, whose face had been bronzed by three-score summers and
winters, happened to mention an occurrence as having taken place about
the time of 'th' quare weddin',' and a chorus of voices at once called
upon him for the story.

'It's quite forty year sin,' he said thoughtfully, 'an' I wir quite a
young chap then, an' ready for any marlock. I could dance too wi' hear
an' thear one, an' no weddin' wir reet wi'aat axin' me. This one I'm
baan to tell abaat heawivir wir Mester Singleton's owdest son o' th'
Dyke Farm, an' as he wir weddin' th' prattiest lass i' o' th' country
side, varra nigh everybody wir theear, 'specially as Mester Singleton
hed given it aat ther'd be a welcome for onnybody. A string o' nearly
twenty conveyances, milk carts, an' shandrys, an' gigs, went to th'
church wi' fowk o' seein' 'em wed; but comin' back, young Adam started
off wi' his young wife as if he wir mad, an' isted o' gooin' th' owd
road across th' Stone Brig, an' through th' Holme meadow he pelted
off through th' Ingleton Road an' th' Owd Horse Lane. Th' mare seemed
to know what th' young chap wir up to, an' to enter into th' spirit
o't' thing an' off hoo went like th' woint, th' string o' shandrys an'
milk carts an' gigs peltin' on at after abaat a mile behint, an' th'
fowk laughin' an' shaatin' at th' fun. Th' gate into th' Owd Horse
Lane wir wide open, so th' fowk wir disappointed as expected to gain a
minnit or two wi' Adam hevin' to get daan theer to oppen it, an' into
th' lane th' mare dashed, an' on hoo went as if th' shandry an' Adam
an' his wife wir nowt behint her. Abaat midway i'th' lane heawever th'
road dipped a bit, an' th' watter fra a spring i'th' bank ran o'er it,
an' just afoor th' shandry reyched it th 'mare stopped o' of a sudden,
an' Adam flew aat o'er th' horse's back an' pitched into th' hedge
like leetnin'. Th' wife shaated as if he wir kilt, but he'd no bones
brokken, an' when we geet up to him he crept aat o'th' prickles wi' a
shame-faced look as if he'd bin catcht thievin'. Ther wir some rare
jokin' as he climbed up to th' side of his wife an' lasht the mare for
another start, but it wir no use, th' mare couldn't stir th'
conveyance. Adam lasht away at her, but stir it hoo couldn't, an' at
last eight or ten on us set to an' turned th' wheels for twenty or
thirty yards an' it wir th' same as if it wir a timber-wagon, it wir
that heavy. It wir th' same wi' every one o'th' conveyances, not one
could be got o'er th' watter only wi' eight or ten on us toilin' an'
slavin' at th' wheels, no matter heaw th' horse strained an' pulled.
Nobody could make aat what it wir, an' th' Vicar came an' look't abaat
but could find nowt. He said, heawever, th' Owd Lad had some hand in
it, an' he warned th' fowk not to use th' road when they could help
it. Many an' many a time heawivir, I see carts stuck theear bi' th'
day together, for some chaps wouldn't be persuaded not to go through
th' lane, for it wir a short cut, an' other chaps went i' nowt but
darin' when they'd hed a sup o' drink. It went on for some years like
that, an' fowk came fray far an' near to see it. I'd gettin' wed mysen
and hed a farm on the Holme, but I used to go raand to it bi'th' owd
road across the Brig, but one day, a breet hot day, I'd mi little lad
i'th cart an' he bothert mi to go through th' lane, he wantit to see
th' Owd Lad he said, an' as he started o' cryin' abaat it, I went.
Well, the cart stuck i'th' owd place bi th' runnin' watter, an' th'
little lad wir deleeted. I geet daan an' took howd o'th' wheel, for I
knew it wir no use usin' the whip, an' th' horse wir sweatin' as if it
wir rare an' 'freetont, when little Will shaated aat o' ov a sudden
'Feythar, I con see him!' 'See what?' I sang aat, an' broad dayleet as
it wir, mi knees wir quakin'. 'A little chap i'th' cart,' he said, 'a
fat little chap wi' a red neet cap on.' 'Wheer is he?' I shaated, for
I couldn't see owt. 'Theer on th' cart tail,' he said, an' then he
shaated 'Why, he's gone,' an' no sooner hed he spokken than th' horse
started off wi' th' cart as if it hed nowt behint it.

Thir never wir a cart stuck theer at after that, an' th' Vicar said it
wir because little Will hed persayved th' Feeorin, an' as Will hed th'
gift o' seein' feeorin an' sich like because he wir born at midneet.



APPENDIX.

_COMPARATIVE NOTES._


1.

Belief in the appearance of the Skriker, Trash, or Padfoot, as the
apparition is named in Lancashire, or Padfooit, as it is designated in
Yorkshire, is still very prevalent in certain parts of the two
counties. This boggart is invariably looked upon as the forerunner of
death, and it is supposed that only the relatives of persons about to
die, or the unfortunate doomed persons themselves, ever see the
apparition.

Of quite a distinct class to that of the 'Skrikin' Woman,' an
appearance which, at a but recent period, obtained for a lane at
Warrington the reputation of being haunted, the Padfoot seems to be
peculiar to Lancashire and Yorkshire, unless, indeed, the Welsh
Gwyllgi or Dog of Darkness, and the Shock of the Norfolk seaboard, are
of the same family. In Norfolk, the spectre, as it does in Lancashire,
portends death, but I have been unable to find any Welsh story of the
apparition with a more tragic ending than fright and illness.

As the Trash generally takes the form of a large shaggy dog or small
bear, can the superstition be an offshoot from that old Aryan belief
which gave so important an office to the dog as a messenger from the
world of the dead, and an attendant upon the dying, or has the grim
idea come down to us from the ancient times, when, as the Rev. S.
Baring Gould says, 'It was the custom to bury a dog or a boar alive
under the corner-stone of a church, that its ghost might haunt the
neighbourhood, and drive off any who would profane it--_i.e._ witches
or warlocks'?


2.

In most of these stories of compacts with the Evil One it is singular
how little is received in exchange for the soul. In a few instances
poverty bargains for untold wealth, or ugliness and age for youth and
loveliness, but generally it is for the bare means of prolonging or
supporting life that the daring and despairing one enters into the
everlasting agreement. In fact, as a French authoress has said, it is
'for a mouthful of bread to nourish their debilitated stomachs, and
the bundle of sticks which warms again their benumbed limbs.' In
Sussex it would appear, from what a country-lad told the Rev. S.
Baring Gould, that half-a-crown is the price Satan pays for a soul,--a
letter addressed to the Evil One, and containing an offer of the soul,
bringing a response in that practical form, if placed under the pillow
at night.

In Normandy it is considered sufficient to make the compact binding
for the acceptance to be simply a verbal one; but in Lancashire the
formal parchment deed, with its signatures in blood, is indispensable.


3.

Old Isaac, it would seem, was not disappointed when he came to make
use of his handful of money, and probably, therefore, he had spent it
before he told the story, for in all instances where the fairies are
recorded as rewarding mortals with money, any revelation as to its
source is invariably followed by the gift being turned to bits of
paper or leaves.


4.

Although there appears to have been some little confusion in the mind
of the old farmer as to the rank in the world of faerie held by his
little benefactor, he seems to have designated him correctly, for
although the general idea of Puck is that of a mere mischief-loving
and mischief-working sprite, such as is painted by Drayton, Shakspere
credits Puck not only with wanton playfulness, but also with industry,
for in the second act of the 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' the fairy,
addressing the sprite, says:

    'Those that hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
    _You do their work_.'

Shakspere and Ben Jonson, however, agree in making Oberon King of the
Fairies--a king, too, with a stately presence, and far above showing
an interest in a farmer's fields. Under any circumstances one is not
prepared to find Puck of royal estate, and doubtless the labouring
spirit of our story was simply one of those goblins who, according to
the author of the _Anatomy of Melancholy_, would 'grind corn for a
mess of milk, cut wood, or do any manner of nursery work'--a Robin
Goodfellow merely, the 'lubber fiend' of Milton, the Bwbach or
household fairy of Wales. Lancashire had many such. Stories of beings
rejoicing in the name of Hobthrust or Throbthrush, but in all other
respects closely resembling the fairy king of the foregoing tradition,
still are told by the farm-house fires in Furness, in South-East
Lancashire, and in the Fylde country. Rewarded night after night with
a supply of oatmeal porridge--strange relic, probably, of the old
libations to the gods--they toiled at the churn till daybreak. A
Furness legend chronicles how a farmer, whose house was the favourite
resting-place of one of these visitors, one evening, when threatening
clouds were gathering, wished that he had the harvest carted. Next
morning the work was found done, but a horse was found dead in the
stable, Hob having been unsparing. As the day was a beautiful one, the
farmer did not appreciate the housing as he ought to have done, and
testily wished that Hob was in the mill-dam. A few hours afterwards,
not Hob, but the grain was found there.

'Crawshaws in Berwickshire,' says the author of the _Popular Rhymes of
Berwickshire_, 'was once the abode of an industrious Brownie, who both
saved the corn and thrashed it for several seasons. At length, after
one harvest, some person thoughtlessly remarked that the corn was not
well mowed or piled up in the barn. The sprite took offence at this,
and the next night threw the whole of the corn over the Raven Crag, a
precipice about two miles off, muttering--

    "It's no weel mowed! It's no weel mowed!
    Then it's ne'er be mowed by me again.
    I'll scatter it o'er the Raven stone,
    And they'll hae some wark ere it's mowed again."'

The North Lancashire Hobthrusts, however, do not seem to have been
made to disappear by man's ingratitude, but, like the Irish Cluricaun
and the Scotch Brownie, were to be driven away by kindness. In one
instance, a tailor, for whom a Hobthrust had done some work,
gratefully made him a coat and hood for winter wear, and in the night
the workman was heard bidding farewell to his old quarters--

    'Throb-thrush has got a new coat and new hood,
    And he'll never do no more good.'

Readers of the Brothers Grimm and lovers of George Cruikshank will not
need to be reminded how the grateful shoemaker deprived himself of the
assistance of the elves. In the German story, however, as in Breton
ones, although the elves depart, prosperity continues to bless the
labours of the people whose practical gratitude has driven the little
beings away.

The Hob which, according to Harrison Ainsworth, haunted the Gorge of
Cliviger, does not appear to have been at all domesticated, the
novelist, in the only allusion he makes to it, characterising it as 'a
frightful hirsute demon, yclept Hobthrust.' In the Fylde country,
however, the lubber fiends seem to have been as industrious as was
that of our legend. Tradition tells of one at Rayscar which not only
housed the grain but also got the horses ready for the journey to the
distant market. At Hackensall Hall one took the Celtic form of a great
horse, and required only a pie in reward for its toil.

The Hobs of the neighbouring county of Yorkshire are credited with
greater powers than those required for the rapid performance of
household duties. One of these beings is still said to haunt a cave in
the vicinity of the old-world hamlet of Runswick. To this place
anxious and superstitious mothers brought their ailing little ones,
and as they stood at the mouth of the cavity, cried, 'Hob, my bairn's
gettent kinkcough (whooping-cough?), takkt off, takkt off!' In the
same district there is a haunted tumulus called 'Obtrash Roque,'
rendered by Walcott 'the Heap of Hob-o'-the-Hurst.' Of the bogle
denizen of this mound a story similar to that told by Mr. Crofton
Croker, in Roby's _Traditions (Clegg Hall Boggart)_, is current in the
district. A farmer who was bothered by the spirit, determined to
remove to a quieter locality, and as the carts were leaving with the
goods and implements a neighbour cried out, 'It's flittin yo' are,'
when the Hob at once replied, from a churn, 'Ay, we're flitting;' upon
which the farmer thought he might as well remain where he was. Similar
flitting stories, however, are told of the Scandinavian _Nis_, the
Irish _Cluricaun_, the Welsh _Bwbach_, and the Polish _Ickrzycki_.


5.

Why the expression of a wish like this should have offended Puck is
not very evident. There is in Sweden a lubber fiend named the _Tomte_,
and of this being the peasantry believe that only by unrewarded toil
can it work out its salvation. Can the Lancashire King of the Fairies
have been one of the same order, and have considered the utterance of
a good wish as a reward, or even as a sarcastic allusion to his 'lost
condition'?

The belief is by no means uncommon that the fairies are the angels who
were neutral during the Satanic rebellion. In Brittany, however
(_Chants Populaires de la Bretagne_, par Th. Hersart de la
Villemarqué), they are the Princesses who, in the days of the
Apostles, would not embrace Christianity.

The traditions of most countries agree, however, in attributing to
the fairies extreme sensitiveness on the subject of their condition.
Mr. Campbell has recorded that when the elves, who had grown weary of
crossing the Dornoch Frith in cockle-shells, were engaged in building
a bridge of gold across its mouth, a passer-by lifted his hands and
blessed the tiny workmen, who immediately vanished, the bridge sinking
with them beneath the waves, and its place being at once taken by
quicksands. Almost every district haunted by 'greenies' or 'hill folk'
has its story of a piteous appeal on the subject of their future state
made by visible or invisible fairies. In a Highland story it is an old
man reading the Bible who is accosted, the inquirer screaming and
plunging into the sea upon being answered that the sacred pages did
not contain any allusion to the salvation of any but the sons of Adam.
My friend, Mr. Kennedy, in his valuable _Legendary Fictions of the
Irish Celts_, gives a charming traditionary story of a priest who was
benighted and lost upon a moor, and who was similarly accosted, and
implored to declare that at the last day the lot of the fairies would
not be with Satan. After the appeal had been somewhat ambiguously
answered, 'a weak light was shed around where he stood, and he
distinguished the path and an opening in the fence.'

In Cornwall they are supposed to be the spirits of the people who
inhabited the country long before the birth of Christ, and who,
although not good enough to partake of the joys of Heaven, yet are too
good for Hell. In Wales there is a somewhat similar belief, but it is
said that their probation will end at the day of judgment, when they
will be admitted to Paradise. It is commonly believed by the Cornish
peasants that they are gradually growing smaller, and that at length
they will change into ants. Few people in Cornwall, therefore, are
sufficiently venturesome to destroy a colony of those insects.


6.

Many are the old sacred piles in Lancashire with the building of which
it is believed that goblins had something to do. The parish church of
Rochdale, the old church of Samlesbury, that of St. Oswald's at
Winwick, near Warrington, and the parish church of Burnley, may be
instanced as a few of those which are popularly supposed to have been
interfered with by superhuman labourers. At Rochdale the unexpected
workpeople took the form of 'strange-looking men;' in other cases, as
in those of Winwick and Burnley, pigs removed the materials, it being
traditional that their cry of 'we-week' gave its name to the former
place; while at Newchurch, in Rossendale, although the interloping
builders were invisible, a little old woman with a bottle was not only
seen, but was fraternised with by the thirsty watchers who had been
appointed to guard the foundations. Similar stories of changed site
are told of numerous churches throughout Britain. The legend of
Gadshill church, near Ventnor, like that of Hinderwell, Yorkshire,
attributes the removal of the foundations to supernatural means, the
stones having hopped after each other from their original place at the
foot of the hill to that in which they were afterwards found, the
shins of the watchers having been 'barked' in the most unceremonious
manner by certain little blocks of somewhat erratic tendencies. It is,
however, by no means improbable that at Gadshill, as at Rochdale, the
fact of the building having been erected in a position so difficult of
access, and so trying to aged and infirm parishioners, may have caused
a testy and irreverent, and perhaps asthmatic, worshipper to invent
the Satanic theory. In one case, that of Bredon, in Leicestershire,
the objectors appear to have taken the form of doves. Loth as one may
be to think harm of such sweet messengers, Mr. Kennedy, after telling
the story of the building of the cathedral of Ardfert, in Kerry, by
St. Brendain, and the trouble caused by a large crow, which took the
measuring line in its bill and flew across the valley with it, adds,
'The bird was a fairy in disguise. If the messenger had been _from
another quarter_, he would have made his appearance under snowy
plumes.'[B]

[B] The foundations of the priory church of Christchurch, Hampshire,
were, tradition says, removed by unseen hands, down from the lonely
St. Catherine's Hill to the present site in the valley. The beams and
rafters, too short on the hill, were too long in the vale. In the
valley, too, an extra workman, Christ, always came on the pay-night.


7.

This work of art was one of the gargoyles of the old building, and was
purchased by Mr. Ffarington, the father of the present lady of the
manor, when the church was rebuilt. It bore the name of 'the Cat
Stone.'

Another version of this tradition, of but limited circulation, and
little known even in the immediate locality, credits an angel with the
removal of the foundations and with the utterance of the following
anything but angelic strain:--

    Here I have placed thee,
      And here shalt thou stand;
    And thou shalt be called
      The church of Leyland!


8.

This legend appears to have had a Teutonic origin. Mr. Kelly, in his
chapter on the 'Wild Hunt,' quotes a somewhat similar story from a
German source: 'The wild huntsman's hounds can talk like men. A
peasant caught one of them, a little one, and hid it in his pack. Up
came the wild huntsman and missed it. "Where are you, Waldmann?" he
cried. "In Heineguggeli's sack," was the answer.'


9.

'The passing bell,' says Harland, 'according to Grose, was anciently
rung for two purposes, one to bespeak the prayers of all good
Christians for a soul just departing, the other to drive away the evil
spirits who stood at the bed's foot ready to seize their prey, or at
least to molest and terrify the soul on its passage.'

Mr. Sikes says that in Wales, before the Reformation, 'there was kept
in all Welsh churches, a handbell which was taken by the Sexton to the
house where a funeral was to be held, and rung at the head of the
procession,' and that 'the custom survived long after the Reformation
in many places, as at Caerleon, the little Monmouthshire village,
which was a bustling Roman city when London was a hamlet. The bell,
called the _bangu_, was still preserved in the parish of Llanfair
Duffryn Clwyd half a dozen years ago.'

The bell might now with greater propriety be called the _passéd_ bell,
as it is tolled only after a death, the ringing concluding with a
number of distinct knells to announce the years and sex of the
deceased, which the authority alluded to above considers 'a vestige of
an ancient Roman Catholic injunction.' Until a comparatively recent
period it was customary at Walton-le-Dale, Lancashire, to inter
Protestants in the afternoon, a bell being tolled at intervals prior
to the funeral; Catholics, however, were buried in the evening, a full
peal being rung upon the bells immediately before the procession
started.

Mr. Thornber, writing in 1844, says that at the beginning of this
century, at Poulton, the more respectable portion of the inhabitants
were buried by candle-light, and that it was considered a sacred duty
to expose a lighted candle in the windows of every house as the corpse
was carried through the streets. He speaks of the custom as a mark of
respect to the dead, but possibly there was something more than this
in it. In Ireland even to-day it is usual to leave lighted candles in
the room where a corpse is laid out.

This belief in the power of bells over not only demons and evil
spirits of every kind, but also over the elves and 'good people,'
appears to have been held in all countries ever inhabited by fairies
and hill folk. The Danish trolls are said to have been driven out of
the country by the hanging of bells in the churches, the noise
reminding them forcibly of the time when Thor used to fling his hammer
after them. It is recorded in a bit of local doggrel from the pen of a
dead and forgotten rhymester, that the fairies remained at
Saddleworth, on the confines of Lancashire and Yorkshire, until

                'The steeple rose,
    And bells began to play;'

when the Queen wandered away to the wild district

    'Where Todmore's kingdom lay;'

and the less important plebeians of fairy land 'disperséd, went.' Mr.
Henderson says that 'at Horbury, near Wakefield, and at Dewsbury, on
Christmas Eve, is rung the "devil's knell," a hundred strokes, then a
pause, then three strokes, three strokes, and three strokes again.'

In Iceland it is believed that at daybreak or upon the ringing of a
bell the trolls flee.


10.

Fairy funerals, according to tradition, have been seen in other
counties beside Lancashire, for an old Welsh writer alludes to such
sights as having been witnessed in his day. Mr. Wirt Sikes, in his
_British Goblins_, a recent and most valuable contribution to the folk
lore and mythology of South Wales, says that the bell of Blaenporth,
Cardiganshire, was noted for tolling thrice at midnight, unrung by
human hands, to foretell death, and that when the 'Tolaeth before the
burying,' the sound of an unseen funeral-procession passing by, is
heard, the voices sing the 'Old Hundredth,' and the tramping of feet
and the sobbing and groaning of mourners can be heard. In Normandy,
says P. Le Fillastre, _Annuaire de la Manche_, 1832, the large white
coffins, _les bières_, which the belated voyager sees along the roads,
or placed on the churchyard fences, are unaccompanied by either
bearers or mourners, and the cemetery bell is silent.

Readers of Professor Hunt's volumes of Cornish Drolls and Romances
will remember the beautiful legend of the fisherman who, gazing by
night through the window of a lonely church, saw a procession passing
along the aisle, and witnessed the interment, near the sacramental
table, of the fairy queen. The only point of resemblance, however,
between the Southern and Northern traditions is to be found in the
solemn tolling of the church-bell. The Cornish story is unique in one
respect, inasmuch as, although we have plenty of legends in which the
fairies evince a desire to peer into their future state, and even some
in which their deaths are alluded to, it is extremely rare to find one
in which the burial of a fairy is narrated; and this fact would seem
to point to a defect in the 'Finn theory,' so plausibly advocated by
Mr. Campbell; for, surely, if once upon a time 'the fairies were a
real people, like the Lapps,' tradition would not be so silent, as it
almost universally is, with reference to the outward and visible signs
of their mortality.[C]

[C] Only since these notes were in type have I seen the excellent
paper from the pen of Mr. Grant Allen (_Cornhill Magazine_, March
1881), on the Genesis of the Myth of the Fairies. See also the same
charming writer's _Vignettes from Nature_, p. 206, and papers by B.
Melle and F. A. Allen, in _Science Gossip_ for 1866, 'The Track of the
Pigmies.'


11.

My friend, Mr. W. E. A. Axon, in his interesting _Black Knight of
Ashton_, tells a story of a 'Race with the Devil,' the hero of which
was one of a party of _pace-eggers_, who, waking up after a doze by a
farm-house fire, beside which the party had been permitted to sleep on
a wild night, and, feeling cold, had put on his Beelzebub dress, to
the terror of another member of the company, who awoke afterwards, and
seeing, as he supposed, the Devil seated airing himself by the fire,
fled into the darkness and the storm, his equally terrified companions
following him, and the no-less-frightened Beelzebub bringing up the
rear.

The Mid and South Lancashire stories, as will at once be seen, do not
resemble each other in any way, however; and I refer to Mr. Axon's
legend for the sake of directing my readers' attention to a valuable
note appended to it, in which Mr. Axon points out that there is a
similar old Hindoo story of such a chase, which was translated from
the Sanscrit into Chinese not later than the year 800.

It seems hardly probable that the Lancashire pace-egging story, so
exquisitely narrated by my friend, could have had an Aryan origin, yet
the resemblance is a striking and remarkable one.


12.

Many are the traditions of submerged bells told along the Lancashire
coast. 'Here,' says the Rev. W. Thornber in the scarce _History of
Blackpool_ (1844), 'or out at sea opposite this spot, once stood the
cemetery of Kilgrimol, mentioned in the above-quoted chapter of the
Priory of Lytham. Of this fact, tradition is not silent, and the
rustic who dwells in the neighbourhood relates tales of fearful
sights, and how many a benighted wanderer has been terrified with the
sounds of bells pealing dismal chimes.' In Wales, too, the
superstition is a common one. It is by no means improbable that there
may be more in these faint whispers than would at first appear, and
that underneath these dim traditions of churches swallowed by the sea
there may rest a faint stratum of the old Scandinavian superstition
that sweet singing and beautiful music could be heard by any who stood
to listen on an Elf hill; for, although the idea of submerged cities
may be found floating in the lore of all Celtic peoples, and in some
places the submersion is a matter even of history,[D] in others, as at
Kilgrimol, it is doubtful whether the sounds come from the sea or the
earth. It is, therefore, more than likely that the traditions of
submersion have received the addition of pealing bells from natural
causes. There is an Indian superstition which in another way
illustrates this theory. Manitobah Lake, in the Red River region,
derives its name from a small island, upon which is heard, whenever
the gales blow from the north, a sound resembling the pealing of
distant church-bells, and which is caused by the waves beating on the
shore at the foot of the cliffs and the rubbing of the fallen
fragments against each other. This island the Ojibeways suppose to be
the home of Manitobah, 'the speaking god,' and upon it they dare not
land.

[D] _Vide_ Lyell's _Principles of Geology_, Chapter on _Encroachments
of the Sea_, for many instances of submerged villages and churches
along the English coast.

There is in Normandy a singular tradition of a submerged bell, dating
back to the time of the English occupation, along with others of
buried and hidden treasure. It is said that, as the English soldiers
were abandoning the country, they destroyed the abbey of Corneville,
and were taking away with them the principal bell, when the barge
capsized. As they were trying to recover the prize, the French came
upon them, and they were obliged to hurry away, leaving the bell
behind. Since that time, whenever the bells of the churches in the
district ring out their joyous peals upon solemn festival days, the
submerged bell also can be heard joining in the carillon. (_Essai sur
l'arrondissement de Pont-Audemer_.)

A story somewhat similar to this is told of a bell from St. David's,
Pembrokeshire, carried off by Cromwellian troops whose vessel
afterwards was wrecked in Ramsay Sound, from the moving waters of
which the pealing can be heard when a storm is rising.


13.

For the sake of those who are not 'native and to the manner born,'
Roger's story is not given in his vernacular, a mixture of the
Mid-Lancashire and the Furness dialects, trying even to those who are
acquainted with the expressive Doric of other parts of the County
Palatine.


14.

Mr. Henderson, in his _Notes on the Folk Lore of the Northern Counties
of England and the Borders_, states that Mr. Wilkie maintains that the
_Digitalis purpurea_ was in high favour with the witches, who used to
decorate their fingers with its largest bells; hence called Witches'
Thimbles. Mr. Hartley Coleridge has more pleasing associations with
this gay wild-flower. He writes of 'the fays

    That sweetly nestle in the foxglove bells;'

and adds in a note, 'popular fancy has generally conceived a
connection between the foxglove and the good people.' In Ireland,
where it is called _lusmore_, or the great herb, and also Fairy Cup,
the bending of its stalks is believed to denote the unseen presence of
supernatural beings. The Shefro, or gregarious fairy, is represented
as wearing the corona of the foxglove on his head, and no unbecoming
head-dress either. In Wales, that the elves wear gloves of the bells
of _Digitalis_ is a common fancy.


15.

This conventional circle seems to be universally common to such
stories of summoning the Evil One. Even in China, as Mr. Dennys has
stated, the ring is drawn round the summoner, and the incantation
uttered, as in our own stories.


16.

In Lancashire, Old Nick (afterwards St. Nicholas, the patron saint of
sailors) is considered the patron saint of the wind, just as in the
Scandinavian mythology it is Odin, also termed Nick and Hold Neckar,
who raises storms.

In Normandy, near Aigle, there is a superstition respecting a Mother
_Nique_, doubtless, says Vaugeois, of Scandinavian origin.


17.

Instances of generous treatment of opponents on the part of the Evil
One are by no means rare. Readers of Mr. Roby will remember that Satan
gave a loophole of escape to Michael Waddington, the hero of 'Th' Dule
upo' Dun' legend, by granting him an extra wish, although the poor
wretch's time was up.


18.

The Cockerham schoolmaster appears to have lacked originality, for in
the Scottish legend of 'Michael Scott' it is recorded that when the
fairies crowded round his dwelling crying for work, he bade them twine
ropes of sand to reach the moon, and tradition has it that traces of
their unsuccessful attempts may yet be found. A more recent instance
is told in a sketch of Dr. Linkbarrow, a Westmoreland wizard, who
lived about a hundred years ago, quoted from the _Kendal Mercury_ by
Mr. Sullivan, in his _Cumberland and Westmoreland, Ancient and
Modern_. The Doctor, who was disturbed at church by a terrible storm,
hurried home, and on the way met the devil, who asked for work. He
immediately set him to make 'thumb symes' of river sand. Imitating the
Israelites, perhaps not unconsciously--for Satan's knowledge of
Scripture is proverbial--the Evil One asked for straw, which was
refused him. On his arrival at home, the Doctor found his servant
prying into his black-letter book, which imprudence had caused the
storm and Satan's pilgrimage.

Several similar stories, illustrating the danger of tampering with
books of magic, are told in Normandy. In one of them it is recorded
that the servant of a village curé, moved by curiosity, read a page or
two of one of his master's volumes, when suddenly Satan appeared. The
domestic fled, but the Evil One captured him, and was making away with
him when the curé arrived and simply read a few other words from the
book, upon which Satan dropped his prey. In another one Satan keeps
his victim three years, but at length is obliged to let him go.

In the last story of this kind, however, which has come under my
notice--a French one by the way--the incautious student has scarcely
read a line of the open book when Satan appears and strangles him. The
sorcerer, quietly returning home, sees devils perched on the house,
and, surprised, beckons them to approach. One does so, and tells him
the story, and he thereupon rushes to his study and finds the student
stretched dead upon the floor. Afraid of being accused of murder, he
orders the devil who had assassinated the scholar to pass into the
body of his victim. The demon obeys, and goes to promenade in the
street at the point most frequented by the students, but suddenly,
upon another order, he quits the body, and the corpse falls in the
midst of the terrified promenaders.

In Cornwall, instead of the devil, it is the ghost of Tregeagle, the
wizard, that is doomed to make trusses of sand in Genvor Cove, and to
bear them to the top of Escol's Cliff. Having once succeeded in
carrying a truss, after having first brought water from a neighbouring
stream and frozen the sand, he is now condemned to make the trusses
without water.


19.

Another version of this story, which is still told in the lonely
farm-houses of the district, gives the scholars the credit of having
raised the devil during the absence of their master. Similar tasks
were given to the infernal visitor by a sharp-witted lad, who feared
lest his should be the soul the Evil One threatened to take back with
him; and not many years ago a flag, said to have been broken by the
outwitted Satan in his passage across the floor, used to be
triumphantly exhibited to any daring and irreverent sceptic who
expressed doubts as to the truthfulness of the narrative.

At Burnley Grammar School a black mark on a stone was at one time
exhibited in proof of a state visit of the same kind, and a similar
ignominious flight.

The Grammar School of Middleton, near Manchester, also can boast of
the patronage of the Evil One; and Samuel Bamford has recorded that in
his youth a hole in the school flags was shown as an impression of the
Satanic hoof. The Middleton legend credits the lads with the
unenviable honour of having called up the fiend and afterwards
innocently wishing him to withdraw, which he sternly declined to do
without having received his usual fee of a soul. As at Cockerham, he
was requested to make a rope of sand; and he was rapidly completing
the task, when, to the joy of the urchins, the schoolmaster came upon
the scene, and quickly exorcised the visitor, who, in his disgusted
and disordered flight, broke down nearly half of the building.


20.

Stories of headless beings may be found in the lore of most countries
of Europe, and are of the same class as those of the men, women and
horses 'beawt yeds,' common to the hilly districts of both North and
South Lancashire. As a general rule, in South Lancashire, the head is
not seen at all, whereas in the northern part of the county the
spectre almost invariably carries it under the left arm, as is done by
the wandering beings in similar Danish stories. A Scotch legend,
alluded to by Sir Walter Scott, credits the ghost of a Duchess of
Queensberry with an innovation, as the spectre is said to wheel its
head in a barrow through the galleries of Drumlanrick Castle. In
Glamorganshire there is a tradition of a headless woman, who appears
every sixty years, and many are the terrible stories told of her
dreadful visitations.

Although tales of headless horses are not rare in Lancashire, there
does not appear to be any tradition of hearses, or other conveyances
drawn by them, similar to the Northumberland legend of the midnight
cavalcade along the subterraneous passage between Tarset and Dalby
Castles, or to the stories told by the Irish peasants.

It is more than probable that many of the legends and stories of
headless beings of both sexes had their origin in the old Saxon belief
that if a person who was guilty of a crime for which he deserved to
lose his head, died without having paid the penalty, he was condemned
after death to travel over the earth with his head under his arm.


21.

Not very long ago it was commonly believed at Warrington, on the
authority of many persons who declared they had seen the apparition,
that a spectral white rabbit haunted Bank Quay, its appearance
invariably foretelling the early death of a relative of the person
whose misfortune it was to behold the animal.

'In Cornwall,' says Mr. Hunt, 'it is a very popular fancy that when a
maiden who has loved not wisely but too well, dies forsaken and
broken-hearted, she comes back in the shape of a white hare to haunt
her deceiver. The phantom follows the false one everywhere, mostly
invisible to all else. It sometimes saves him from danger, but
invariably the white hare causes the death of the betrayer in the
end.'


22.

Can this tradition be an offshoot of the legend of Ahasuerus, the
Wandering Jew, the man who, standing at his door, refused the cup of
water for which the Saviour, bowed down beneath the burden of the
cross, begged, but who bade the Lord walk quicker, and was answered,
'I go, but thou shalt thirst and tarry till I come'? In one shape or
another most European countries have the weird myth of this restless
being. In none of the stories, however, have I found any reference to
an animal accompanying the wanderer.


23.

The belief in the efficacy of fairy ointment appears to have been
somewhat generally held in England. A Northumberland tradition tells
of a midwife who was fetched to attend a lady, and who received a box
of ointment with which to anoint the infant. By accident the woman
touched one of her eyes with the mixture, and at once saw that she was
in a fairy palace. She had the good sense, however, to conceal her
astonishment, and reached her home in safety. Some time afterwards she
saw the lady stealing bits of butter in the market-place, and
thoughtlessly accosted her, when, after an inquiry similar to that of
the Lancashire legend, the fairy breathed upon the offending eye and
destroyed the sight. Other versions still current in Northumberland
make the thief a fairy stealing corn. Similar stories are told in
Devonshire and in both the Lowlands and Highlands of Scotland. In
Scotland, however, the fairy spits into the woman's eye. The Irish
fairy (Co. Wexford), a vindictive being, uses a switch.

In Cornwall a fairy bantling has to be put out to nurse, and has to be
washed regularly in water and carried to its room by its invisible
relatives. The nurse receives the marvellous sight after some of the
liquid has splashed upon her eyes, and the usual result follows. She
sees a thief in the market-place--that of St. Ives; and after he has
muttered--

    'Water for elf, not water for self!
    You've lost your eye, your child, and yourself!'

she becomes blind. In another Cornish legend a green ointment, made
with four-leaved clover, gathered at a certain time of the moon,
confers the wondrous gift. In Lancashire the four-leaved clover does
not require any preparation; the mere possession of it being supposed
to render fairies visible.

The Scandinavian belief appears to have been that, although the hill
folk could bestow the gift of this sight upon whom they chose, all
children born on Sunday possessed the faculty. This superstition seems
to survive in a slightly altered form in the Lancashire one that
children born during twilight can see spirits and foretell deaths,
the latter faculty, probably, having been substituted for the
prophetic power of the chosen of the elves in the Northern mythology.

It is more than probable that these ointment stories came from the
East. Who does not remember the charming history of the blind man,
Baba Abdalla, whose sight was destroyed by a little miraculous
ointment, and afterwards as wonderfully restored by a box on the ear?


24.

An old farm-labourer pointed out to me a place where the Evil One used
to meet the witches, and gambol with them until cock-crow. It was at
the junction of four cross-roads, between Stonyhurst and Ribchester;
and as I stood there at 'th' edge o' dark,' when the wind was
whispering through the fir woods on either hand, with that mysterious
sound so like the gentle wash of waves upon a sandy shore, the spot
seemed indeed a suitable one for such gatherings.

My informant, however, although very circumstantial in his account of
what had transpired at the nocturnal assemblies, scouted the idea of
anything of the sort taking place in these times, and remarked drily:
'Ther's too mich leet neaw-a-days, Mesthur, fur eawt o' that mak'. Wi'
should hev' th' caanty police after um afooar they'd time to torn
raand!'


25.

Until recently, there was an ancient British tumulus by the side of
the highway from Darwen to Bolton, where the road passes through the
domains of White Hall and Low Hill. This spot, long before the urns of
bones were disinterred, was looked upon by the country people as being
haunted by various boggarts, and Mr. Charles Hardwick says that
children were in the habit of taking off their clogs and shoes, and
walking past the heap barefooted when compelled to traverse the road
after nightfall.[E]

[E] _Vide_ Footnote [C]


26.

Mag did not wander far, for her grave is shown in the churchyard at
Woodplumpton, in which village her memory still is green. But few
people venture to rest themselves upon the huge stone which marks the
spot where her spirit was laid.

A strangely jumbled tradition tells how a priest managed to 'catch'
her and 'lay her spirit.' In Cornwall and other counties a clergyman
of the Establishment was considered qualified to 'lay' a ghost; but in
Lancashire it was believed that only a Roman Catholic priest had the
wondrous power. In Wales the magical number three is brought in, for
three clergymen are necessary to exorcise a spirit. In Normandy, as a
matter of course, only the priests have the power.


27.

Witchen or quicken, old English names of the rowan or mountain ash.
Mr. Kelly (_Indo-European Tradition and Folklore_) accounts for the
reputation of the 'wiggin' by connecting it with the Indian Palasa,
the tree that, according to the Vedas, sprang from the feather which,
together with a claw, fell from the falcon bringing the heavenly
_soma_ to earth. The same writer also compares it with the Mimosa, and
quotes a singular passage from Bishop Heber, to the effect that the
natives of Upper India are in the habit of wearing sprigs of it in
their turbans, and of suspending pieces of it over their beds, as
security against wizards, spells, the Evil Eye, etc. Naturally enough
the Bishop expresses his surprise at finding the superstitions, which
in England and Scotland attach to the rowan, applied in India to a
tree of similar form, and he asks, 'From what common centre are these
common notions derived?' The Mimosa is popularly supposed to have
sprung from the claw alluded to above.

On account of its reputed power against the 'feorin,' a rowan tree was
almost invariably planted near the moorland or mountain side
farm-house.

    'Rowan, ash, and red thread
    Keep the devils from their speed,'

says the old distich.

In some parts of Scotland ash sap still is given to infants as a
preservative against fairies.


28.

It was firmly believed in Lancashire, says Mr. Harland, that a great
gathering of witches assembled on this night at their general
rendezvous in the Forest of Pendle--a ruined and desolate farm-house
called the _Malkin Tower_ (Malkin being the name of a familiar demon
in Middleton's old play of _The Witch_, derived from _maca_, an equal,
a companion). This superstition led to another, that of _lighting_,
_lating_, or _leeting_ the witches (from _leoht_, A.-S., light). It
was believed that if a lighted candle were carried about the fells or
hills from eleven to twelve o'clock at night, and it burned all the
time steadily, it had so far triumphed over the evil power of the
witches, who, as they passed to the Malkin Tower, would employ their
utmost efforts to extinguish the light, that the person whom it
represented might safely defy their malice during the season; but if
by any accident the light went out, it was an omen of evil to the
luckless wight for whom the experiment was made. It was also deemed
inauspicious to cross the threshold of that person until after the
return from leeting, and not then unless the candle had preserved its
light. Mr. Milner describes the ceremony as having been recently
performed.


29.

Mr. Sullivan quotes this quaint old carol at length in his _Cumberland
and Westmoreland, Ancient and Modern_; and adds, 'This song is still
sung at Penrith, having replaced one called "Joseph and Mary," in the
early part of the century. Yet its antiquity is undoubted, and it has
probably come here from Lancashire, where it is well known.'

As, however, it is by no means so widely known as Mr. Sullivan
supposes, we may be pardoned if we reproduce it here. The second and
remaining verses are as follows:--

    'I met three ships come sailing by,
    Come sailing by, etc.

    Who do you think was in one of them?
    In one of them? etc.

    The Virgin Mary and her Son,
    And her Son, etc.

    She combed His hair with an ivory comb,
    An ivory comb, etc.

    She washed His face in a silver bowl,
    A silver bowl, etc.

    She sent Him up to heaven to school,
    To heaven to school, etc.

    All the angels began to sing,
    Began to sing, etc.

    The bells of heaven began to ring,
    Began to ring, etc.'


30.

Mr. Samuel Bamford says that Middleton Parish Church was the scene of
a procession similar to that described in the above legend, the
observer being an avaricious old sexton who was anxious to know what
fees he should receive in the following year. This worthy, on All
Souls' night, stationed himself in the sacred building, and counted
the spirits he saw enter and walk about, until he observed a double of
himself. Of course, soon afterwards there was a vacancy for a
gravedigger at Middleton, the sight having been too much for 'Old
Johnny.'

A similar superstition reigns in various parts of England and in
Wales, where, at Christmas-time, says Mr. Croker, quoting from a Welsh
authority, the relatives of the deceased listen at the church door in
the dark, 'when they sometimes fancy they hear the names called over
in church of those who are destined shortly to join their lost
relatives in the tomb.'

In Cornwall, strange to say, it is a young unmarried woman who,
standing in the church porch at midnight on Midsummer's-eve, sees the
strange gathering. 'This is so serious an affair,' says Professor
Hunt, 'that it is not, I believe, often tried. I have, however, heard
of young women who have made the experiment. But every one of the
stories relate that they have seen shadows of themselves coming last
in the procession; that pining away from that day forward, ere
Midsummer has again come round they have been laid to rest in the
village graveyard.'

Mr. Sikes says that it is a Hallow-Een custom in some parts of Wales
to listen at the church door in the dark to hear shouted by a ghostly
voice in the edifice the names of those who are shortly to be buried
in the adjoining churchyard. In other parts, he says, 'the window
serves the same purpose,' and, he adds, 'there are said to be still
extant outside some village churches steps which were constructed in
order to enable the superstitious peasantry to climb to the window to
listen.' These steps in several places seemed to me to be merely old
mounting blocks, but they may have been made use of for the less
practical purpose in question.


31.

It is asserted that at the present day dogs cannot be induced to go
near this quarry, and that even closely hunted animals will permit
themselves to be captured rather than enter its recesses.


32.

Few superstitions have a wider circle of believers in Lancashire than
that which attributes to dogs the power of foretelling death and
disaster. There are few people, however well educated, who would be
able to resist a foreboding of coming woe if they heard the howling of
a strange dog under the window of a sick person's room; and, absurd as
the dread so inspired may seem to the sceptic, there is more ground
for it than can easily be explained away. It has frequently been urged
that the animals are attracted by the lighted window, and that their
howlings are nothing more than unpleasant appeals for admittance; and
that often, by reason of the awe with which tradition has surrounded
the noises, they terrify the invalid, and produce the end they are
supposed to foretell. This plausible theory, however, does not account
in any way for the similar visitations made in the daytime, when there
is no artificial light to attract; or for the singular facts, that
generally the dog is a stranger to the locality--that it does not
loiter about, but makes its way direct to the particular house--that
it will wait until a gate is opened, so that it may get near to the
window--that it cannot be driven away before its mission has been
performed--and that, in all cases, the howling is alike, invariably
terminating in three peculiar yelping barks, which are no sooner
uttered than the animal runs off, and is no more seen in the
neighbourhood.

In Normandy the noise is considered an infallible presage of death.

Mr. Kelly says that this superstition obtains credence in France and
Germany; and that in Westphalia, a dog howling along a road is
considered a sure sign that a funeral soon will pass that way. In the
Scandinavian mythology, Hel, Goddess of Death, is visible only to
dogs.

The superstition has, at any rate, antiquity to recommend it, and it
seems evident from Exodus xi. 5-7, that even in the days of the
captivity of the Children of Israel in Egypt, the omen was firmly
believed in.

I was seated one summer evening in the drawing-room of a house in one
of the large London squares. The conversation was of the ordinary
after-dinner nature, but enlivened by the remarks of more than one
gifted guest. It was, however, suddenly interrupted in a very
startling manner by the howling of a dog, which had placed itself in
the roadway facing the house, regardless alike of the wheels of the
numerous passing carriages and cabs, and of the whips of the drivers.
The lady of the house, a north-country woman, said at once, as she
rose from her seat at the open window, 'That means death. I shall hear
of some sad trouble.' The dog would not be driven away by the angry
coachmen and cabmen, but finished the howling with three peculiar
yelps, and then trotted off rapidly; and there was much jesting during
the rest of the evening about the strange occurrence. A few days
afterwards, however, I was informed that on the evening of the
dinner-party the brother of the hostess had died in North Lancashire.


33.

'Th' Gabriel Ratchets' strike terror into the heart of many a moorland
dweller in Lancashire and Yorkshire still, presaging, as they are
believed to do, death or sorrow to every one who is so unfortunate as
to hear them. In the popular idea they are a pack of dogs yelping
through the air. Our old literature has many references to the
superstition. In more recent days, Wordsworth has introduced it in one
of his sonnets:--

                  'And oftentimes will start--
    For overhead are sweeping GABRIEL'S HOUNDS.'

Mr. Philip Gilbert Hamerton, in a poem dated 1849, in his _Isles of
Loch Awe and other Poems_, which he has kindly given me permission to
quote here, says of them,--

    'Faintly sounds the airy note,
    And the deepest bay from the staghound's throat,
    Like the yelp of a cur, on the air doth float,
    And hardly heard is the wild halloo.'

and--

    'They fly on the blast of the forest
    That whistles round the withered tree,
    But where they go we may not go,
    Nor see them as they fly.'

Mr. Hamerton, however, goes beyond the Lancashire peasant, at any rate
so far as I have been able to ascertain, for I never met any one in
the hill country or on the moorlands of the North who fancied that the
throng included anything but _Ratchets_, _i.e._ dogs, for the poet
goes on to sing--

      'Hark! 'tis the goblin of the wood
      Rushing down the dark hill-side,
    With steeds that neigh and hounds that bay.'

Mr. Henderson has recorded that, about Leeds, the flight is supposed
to be that of 'the souls of unbaptized children doomed to flit
restlessly above their parents' abode.' In Germany, certainly the Wild
Hunt or Furious Host is accompanied by unbaptized children, and it has
been recorded that a woman, about the year 1800, died of grief upon
learning that the Furious Host had passed over the village where her
still-born child had died just before. Mr. Kelly (_Indo-European
Tradition_) very ably and poetically resolves all the various
superstitions of this Wild Hunt into figurative descriptions of
natural phenomena, but Mr. Yarrell, the distinguished naturalist,
reduces the cries of the Gabriel Hounds into the whistling of the Bean
Goose, _Anser Segetum_, as the flocks are flying southward in the
night, migrating from Scandinavia.

In Wales 'The Whistlers,' the cry of the golden-plover, is considered
an omen of death, but it seems to be a quite distinct superstition
from that of the _Cwn Annwn_, or Dogs of Hell, which latter is a Wild
Hunt.

I have heard the weird cry of the Gabriel Ratchets at night in several
of the northern countries, and in the loneliness and gloom of early
winter in the heart of the hills, or upon a wild bleak moorland, it
was difficult to overcome a sudden feeling of dread when the yelps
rang forth, even with Mr. Yarrell's scientific explanation fresh in my
mind.

To sketch the ramifications of the superstition of the Wild Hunt,
however, would require a volume, so numerous and various are they.


34.

In the old witch-mania records it is not unusual to find a cock
sacrificed to the Evil One, and Satan's dislike of cock-crow has
become proverbial. Brand has pointed out that the Christian poet
Prudentius (fourth century) mentions that antipathy as a tradition of
common belief. In an old German story Satan builds a house for a
peasant who agrees to pay his soul for the work. A condition is made,
however, that this house must be completed before cock-crow, and the
wily peasant, just before the last tile is put on the roof, imitates
the bird of morn, upon which all the cocks in the locality crow, and
Satan, baffled, flees.

The Evil One's appearance in the form of a cat, a goat, a pig, an old
woman, a black dog, a stylish gentleman, and the conventional shape,
with hoof and horns, have been testified to, and Calmet (_Traité sur
les apparitions des Esprits et sur les Vampires_, 1751) alludes to his
taking the shape of a raven, but I have not met with any record of his
appearance as a cock. In this case, however, that was insisted upon,
although it was suggested that it might have been some other fowl.


EDINBURGH: T. AND A. CONSTABLE,

PRINTERS TO THE QUEEN, AND TO THE UNIVERSITY.


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Transcriber's Note:


Archaic and inconsistent spelling, dialect, and punctuation retained.

Advertisements were moved from the front of the book to the end.

Numbers in braces {} refer to sections of the appendix.

Letters in brackets [] refer to footnotes at the end of the paragraph.





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