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Title: Legends of Longdendale - Being a series of tales founded upon the folk-lore of - Longdendale Valley and its neighbourhood
Author: Middleton, Thomas Cooke, 1842-1923
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

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    [Illustration: Legends of Longdendale
    By TOM MIDDLETON
    Author of "Annals of Hyde"; "Old Godley", &c &c]



    LEGENDS of LONGDENDALE

    Being a Series of Tales
    Founded upon the Folk-lore of Longdendale
    Valley and its Neighbourhood.

    BY
    THOMAS MIDDLETON,
    Author of "Annals of Hyde," "Old Godley," etc., etc.


    Should you ask me whence these stories?
    Whence these Legends and Traditions?

           *       *       *       *       *

    I should answer, I should tell you,
    I repeat them as I heard them
    From the lips of Nawadaha,
    The musician, the sweet singer.
    Should you ask where Nawadaha
    Found these songs so wild and wayward,
    Found these legends and traditions,
    I should answer, I should tell you,
    In the bird's nest of the forest.

           *       *       *       *       *

    All the wild fowl sang them to him,
    In the moorlands and the fenlands,
    In the melancholy marshes.

           *       *       *       *       *

    In the Vale of Tawasentha,
    In the green and silent valley.--(Longfellow).


    HYDE:

    FRED HIGHAM, PRINTER AND BOOKBINDER, "CHESHIRE POST" OFFICE,
    CLARENDON PRESS.

    MCMVI.



LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS.


The Author desires to gratefully acknowledge the kindness and
encouragement that he has received from the Ladies and Gentlemen whose
names appear in the following list. It is in great measure owing to
their assistance that the present effort to preserve in book form the
Legends and Traditions of Longdendale has been successful.

    ANDREW, J. D., ESQ.,
        Longdendale, Oswestry.

    ANDREW, W. J., ESQ., F.S.A.,
        Cadster, Whaley Bridge.

    ASHTON, MRS. THOMAS,
        37, Princess Gardens, London, S.W. (4 copies).

    ASHTON, THOMAS GAIR, ESQ., M.P.,
        Of Hyde, and of Vinehall Place, Robertsbridge, Battle, Sussex.

    ASTLEY-CHEETHAM PUBLIC FREE LIBRARY
        (Stalybridge)--Thomas Swain, Esq., Librarian.

    ASPLAND, MRS.,
        Werneth Lodge, Gee Cross, Hyde.

    BARR, JOHN, ESQ.,
        Dinting Lodge, Dinting.

    BEAUMONT, MRS. T. A.,
        Lower Market Street, Broadbottom.

    BEELEY, JAMES, ESQ.,
        Derbyshire Level, Moorfield, Glossop.

    BENNETT, ISAAC BOOTH, ESQ.,
        Godley Green, Hyde.

    BIRKENHEAD CENTRAL LIBRARY
        (John Shepherd, Esq., Librarian).

    BLACKBURN PUBLIC LIBRARY
        (R. Ashton, Esq.)

    BODELL SMITH, REV. H.,
        The Parsonage, Mottram-in-Longdendale.

    BOOTH, AMOS, ESQ.,
        Hattersley, Gee Cross, Hyde.

    BOOTH, D., ESQ.,
        4, Mottram Moor, Mottram-in-Longdendale.

    BOWLES, CHARLES E. B., ESQ.,
        The Nether House, Wirksworth.

    BRADBURY, GEO. T., ESQ.,
        Green Lane, Hollingworth.

    BRAMHALL, FREDK. J., ESQ.,
        56, Bank Street, Hadfield.

    BRIDGES, REV. W. G., M.A.,
        Oxford (formerly Vicar of Hyde).

    BROWN, PERCY B., ESQ.,
        Chisworth House, Charlesworth, near Manchester.

    CALDWELL, MISS C. M.,
        Marple.

    CHAPMAN, CHARLES, ESQ.,
        Carlecotes Hall, Dunford Bridge, Sheffield.

    CHAPMAN, GEORGE J., ESQ.,
        Carlecotes, Dunford Bridge, Sheffield.

    CHEETHAM, F. H., ESQ.,
        Triscombe House, Taunton, Somerset.

    CLEGG, W. E., ESQ.,
        Printer and Publisher, Market Place, Oldham.

    COCKS, JOHN, ESQ.,
        Brookside, Romiley.

    COCKS, JAMES, ESQ.,
        Harden Cottage, Woodley.

    COLLIER, ALFRED, ESQ.,
        Solicitor, 44, Mosley-street, Manchester.

    COLLIER, EDWARD, ESQ.,
        Glen Esk, Whalley Range, Manchester.

    COLLIER, EDWIN, ESQ.,
        Holly Wood, Glossop.

    COPPOCK, MAJOR SYDNEY,
        Daisy Bank, Macclesfield.

    DAIN, EDWARD, ESQ.,
        Market Street, Stalybrldge.

    DERBY PUBLIC FREE LIBRARY,
        (W. Crowther, Esq.)

    DODDS, JAMES, ESQ.,
        Penketh House, near Warrington.

    DUKINFIELD FREE LIBRARY,
        (E. B. Broadrick, Esq., Librarian).

    ELLISON, F. B., ESQ.,
        Holly Grove, Hollingworth.

    EVANS, SETH, ESQ.,
        Bradwell Villa, New Mills.

    FAULKNER, F. W., ESQ.,
        527, Hollins Road, Hollinwood, Oldham

    FIDLER, SAMUEL, ESQ.,
        26, Ashton Road, Newton Moor.

    FIRTH, D., ESQ.,
        Hall Green, Dukinfield.

    FLINT, WILLIAM, ESQ.,
        Woolley Lane, Hollingworth.

    GARTSIDE, J. E., ESQ.,
        Moorlands, Stalybridge.

    GLOSSOP DALE NEW INDUSTRIAL CO-OPERATIVE  SOCIETY
        (John Hyde, Esq., 2 copies).

    HAMNETT, ROBERT, ESQ., Glossop.

    HEAPE, C, ESQ.,
        Hartley, High Lane, Cheshire.

    HIBBERT, OLIVER, ESQ.,
        Brook Bank, Mottram Road, Godley.

    HOLLINWORTH, GEORGE, ESQ.,
        277, Crompton Road, Macclesfield.

    HOLLINGWORTH INDUSTRIAL CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY, LTD.
        (J. Swindells, Esq.,     secretary, Education Committee).

    HOWARTH, DANIEL F., ESQ., F.S.A.,
        24, Villiers Street, Ashton-under-Lyne.

    HOWARD, JOSEPH, ESQ.,
        Denby Grange, Burford Road, Whalley Range, Manchester.

    HYDE PUBLIC FREE LIBRARY
        (John Chorton, Esq., Librarian).

    KENYON AND SONS,
        Chapel Field Works, Dukinfield (4 copies).

    KENWORTHY, ORLANDO, ESQ.,
        106, Werneth Hall Road, Oldham.

    KNIGHT, MISS M. H., Brooklands.

    KNIGHT, RICHARD, ESQ., F.R.C.O., Hyde.

    LAWRANCE, REV. HENRY,
        Dinting Vicarage, near Manchester.

    LEECH, MRS.,
        4, Kensington Palace Gardens, London, W. (8 copies).

    LEES, MRS.,
        Leesdene, Hale, Altrincham.

    LOMAX, HY., ESQ.,
        School House, Mottram.

    MACKENZIE, DR., Glossop.

    MARSDEN, JOSEPH, ESQ.,
        Solicitor, Hall Street, Glossop.

    MILLER, N., ESQ.,
        297, Buxton Road, Macclesfield.

    MOORHOUSE, F., ESQ.,
        Westfield, Bramhall.

    MOSS, ROBERT, ESQ.,
        Hague View, Charlesworth (5 copies).

    MOSSLEY INDUSTRIAL CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY
       (Ed. Jackson, Esq., Librarian)

    MANCHESTER PUBLIC LIBRARIES
        (C. W. Sutton, Esq., Chief Librarian--4 copies.)

    NEALE, JOHN, ESQ.,
        Borough Treasurer, Town Hall, Ashton-under-Lyne.

    NICHOLSON, ALBERT, ESQ.,
        Portinscale, Arthog Road, Hale, Altrincham.

    OGDEN, MISS, Oldham.

    OGDEN, GEORGE, ESQ., Broadbottom.

    OLDHAM CENTRAL FREE LIBRARY
        (W. H. Berry, Esq.)

    PEARSE, PERCIVAL, ESQ.,
        Bookseller, Warrington.

    PEMBERTON, REV. W. A., M.A., C.C.,
        The Vicarage, Mottram-in-Longdendale

    PHILLIPS, W. G., ESQ., J.P.,
        Ansley Hall, Atherstone, Warwickshire (2 copies).

    PLATT, EDWARD, ESQ., J.P.,
        Mersey Bank, Hadfield.

    POMFRET, DR. H. W., M.D., F.R.C.S.,
        Hollingworth, Cheshire (2 copies).

    POTTS, CHARLES, ESQ.,
        Braehead, Great Norbury Street, Hyde (4 copies).

    RAMSBOTTOM, MRS.,
        Highfield, Alderley Edge.

    RIDYARD, ALDERMAN JOSEPH, J.P.,
        High Bank, Stalybridge.

    RINGROSE, REV. R. D.,
        The Vicarage, Glossop.

    ROCHDALE PUBLIC LIBRARY
        (George Hanson, Esq.)

    ROSCOE, T., ESQ.,
        The Old Hall, Mottram-in-Longdendale.

    ROSS, G. B., ESQ.,
        Mersey Mill, Hollingworth.

    SALMONS, EDWARD J., ESQ.,
        The Villa, Mottram-in-Longdendale.

    SHAW, WRIGHT, ESQ.,
        234, Stamford Street, Ashton-under-Lyne.

    SIDEBOTHAM, E. J., ESQ., J.P.,
        Erlesdene, Bowdon.

    SIDEBOTHAM, J. W., ESQ., J.P., C.C.,
        Merlewood, Bowdon, Cheshire.

    SIDEBOTTOM, T. HARROP, ESQ., J.P.,
        Etherow House, Hollingworth.

    SIDEBOTTOM, COLONEL W., V.D., J.P.,
        Harewood, Broadbottom.

    SIMPSON, ALDERMAN ALLWOOD, J.P.,
        Enville Place, Stamford Street, Stalybridge.

    SPARROW, WALTER W., ESQ., J.P.,
        Betton Hall, Market Drayton.

    STAMFORD, THE RT. HON. THE EARL OF,
        Dunham Hall, Cheshire.

    SUMMERS, H., ESQ., Stalybridge.

    SUMMERS, JOHN, ESQ.,
        Inglewood, Stalybridge.

    TAYLOR, MISS JESSIE, A.L.C.M.,
        West End Terrace, Harry Fields, Broadbottom.

    TAYLOR, HENRY, ESQ.,
        Hollingworth Hall, Hollingworth, near Manchester.

    TURNER, GEORGE, ESQ.,
        5, Cathedral Yard, Manchester.

    UNDERWOOD, WM., ESQ., J.P.,
        Albert House, Astley Street, Dukinfield

    WAGSTAFFE, JOHN, ESQ.,
        Mottram House, Mottram-in-Longdendale.

    WAINWRIGHT, JOEL, ESQ., J.P.,
        Finchwood, Marple Bridge.

    WALTON, WILLIAM, ESQ., J.P.,
        Horsley Priory, Nailsworth, Stroud.

    WARD, MRS., The Hurst, Glossop.

    WATTS, JAMES, ESQ., J.P.,
        Abney Hall, Cheadle (2 copies).

    WHEWELL, SAMUEL, ESQ.,
        Hollingworth, Cheshire.

    WILKINSON, ARTHUR, ESQ.,
        Victoria Road, Dukinfield.

    WIGAN PUBLIC FREE LIBRARY
        (H. T. Folkhard, Esq., F.S.A., Librarian)

    WOOD, MRS., Moorfield, Glossop (2 copies).

    WOOD, COLONEL JOHN, V.D., J.P.,
        Whitfield House, Glossop.



PREFACE.


Hitherto, the Legends of Longdendale--although popular with the
country people of the extreme north-east corner of Cheshire--have been
scattered, and, to some extent, fragmentary. They are here re-told in
what, I hope, is a more permanent and complete form. As far as
possible I have carefully followed the original versions; but in one
or two instances, it has been necessary to draw upon imagination. I
have, therefore, introduced several characters and incidents for the
purpose of giving local connection and completeness to those stories
which were lacking in detail or were vague in location. The legends
are here printed in chronological order. They were first published in
the columns of the "CHESHIRE POST" during the winter of 1905-6; and it
is to the kind encouragement and assistance of Mr. Frederick Higham,
the proprietor and editor of that journal, that they owe their
appearance in book form.

If further explanation as to the publication of these stories be
considered necessary, I would refer the reader to the Preface to the
first series of "The Traditions of Lancashire." In it Mr. Roby quotes
the following passage from a German writer:--"All genuine, popular
tales, arranged with local and national reference, cannot fail to
throw light upon contemporary events in history, upon the progressive
cultivation of society, and upon the prevailing modes of thinking in
every age. Though not consisting of a recital of bare facts, they are
in most instances founded upon fact, and in so far connected with
history, which occasionally, indeed, borrows from, and often
reflects light upon, these familiar annals, these more private and
interesting casualties of human life. It is thus that popular
tradition connected with all that is most interesting in human history
and human action upon a national scale, ... invariably possesses so
deep a hold upon the affections, and offers so many instructive hints
to the man of the world, to the statesman, the citizen, and the
peasant."

I may add to the above the fact that these wild and improbable tales
have a fascination for me, and that I firmly believe it to be the duty
of the people of the present to preserve from oblivion the traditions
of the past. In the case of the County of Lancaster, this preservation
has been admirably carried out by the late John Roby; and it is with
the desire to perform a similar service for the County of Cheshire--or
at least one corner of it,--that I have ventured to write the stories
which appear in this volume.

                                                    THOMAS MIDDLETON.

    Manchester Road,
        Hyde.
            1906.



CONTENTS.


        I. THE LEGEND OF COOMBS ROCKS
        II. THE LEGEND OF ALMAN'S DEATH: A Tale of Melandra Castle
       III. KING ARTHUR'S ADVENTURE
        IV. THE LEGEND OF WAR HILL
         V. SIR RO, OF STALEY HALL
        VI. ROBIN HOOD'S VISIT TO LONGDENDALE
       VII. THE ABBOT OF BASINGWERKE, or the Wehr Wolf of Longdendale
      VIII. THE DEVIL'S ELBOW
        IX. THE LEGEND OF CHARLESWORTH CHAPEL
         X. SIR EDMUND SHAA
        XI. LORD LOVEL'S FATE
       XII. THE RAIDERS FROM THE BORDER-SIDE
      XIII. THE LEGEND OF GALLOW'S CLOUGH
       XIV. THE KING'S EVIL: or the Wonderful Cure of the Mottram Parson
        XV. THE MAGIC BOOK
       XVI. THE PARSON'S WIFE
      XVII. THE DEVIL AND THE DOCTOR
    XVIII. THE WRITING ON THE WINDOW PANE
       XIX. A LEGEND OF THE CIVIL WAR
        XX. A TALE OF THE '))45
       XXI. THE HAUNTED FARM
      XXII. THE SPECTRE HOUND
    XXIII. THE BOGGART OF GODLEY GREEN



ILLUSTRATIONS.


    PICTORIAL TITLE, with Distant View of Mottram Church, and
        Author's Portrait.--(A Sketch by H. C. Jaxon and F. Redfern)
    ROMAN COINS, BRICKS, AND TILES FROM MELANDRA
    INSCRIBED ROMAN STONE FROM MELANDRA
    PREHISTORIC SPEARHEAD FROM MOUSELOW CASTLE
    "THE PRINCESS INELD"
    "A COUNTRY MAID OF LONGDENDALE"
    THE WAR-HILL, MOTTRAM--WITH VIEW OF CHURCH
    "IN THE MINSTREL'S GALLERY"
    DOORWAY TO STALEY CHAPEL, MOTTRAM CHURCH
    EFFIGY OF SIR RO AND HIS LADY, MOTTRAM CHURCH
    "THE FOREST OF LONGDENDALE":--View at Bottom's Hall
    "THE ROBIN HOOD STONE"
    "THE ABBOT'S CHAIR"
    BASE OF CROSS ON THE MONK'S ROAD
    "THE LADY GERALDINE"
    "THE FAIRIES"
    "BESS ANDREW"
    MOTTRAM CHURCH AND VILLAGE CROSS
    "A RUNNING STREAM"
    DUKINFIELD HALL
    "A PURITAN CHANT OF PRAISE"
    ARMS OF THE DUKINFIELD FAMILY
    ANCIENT DOORWAY, MOTTRAM CHURCH


                           To
                    FREDERICK HIGHAM,
                           of
             Abbotsford, Godley Green, Hyde,
                      in memory of
    Happy Hours spent together in Literary Association,
                   and for the sake of
        A Friendship which ripens as the Years pass,
                     This Book of
          Legends of that Wild Land we both Love,
                     is Dedicated
                          by
                      THE AUTHOR.



I.

The Legend of Coombs Rocks.


For some time after the invasion of Britain by Julius Cæsar (55 B.C.)
no proper steps were taken by the Romans to reduce to submission the
northern portion of the island. The civil war in Rome, which resulted
in the establishment of a monarchy under Augustus, prevented the
Romans from making further attempts upon Britain, for Augustus was
unwilling to endanger the empire by extending its limits. At length,
however, the Emperor Claudius, remembering the island, sent over an
army which carried the Roman line beyond the Thames. Later in the same
reign the Romans subdued an insurrection among the Brigantines--a
nation which inhabited Lancashire, Yorkshire and the other Northern
counties. The kingdom of the Brigantines extended to Longdendale,
where it was bounded by the territory of the Cornavii, another ancient
British tribe who were masters of Cheshire and several other counties
to the south of the Brigantine line. These warlike tribes again rose
in opposition to the Romans, but were finally subdued by Julius
Agricola, who, coming to Britain about the year 79 A.D., took
possession of Cheshire, and occupied the county with his own legion.
He is supposed to have either led or sent a strong force of soldiers
to overcome the inhabitants of Longdendale, and one outcome of this
expedition was the series of incidents narrated in the following
legend.

It would be about the year 80 A.D. when the Romans advanced up the
north-east Horn of Cheshire to attack the people of Longdendale.
Agricola heralded his coming by a summons to surrender, which was met
by a defiant refusal from the haughty Britons. Proud of their country
and her great traditions, the local Britons determined to fight for
their freedom to the last, preferring death in battle to slavery
beneath the yoke of Rome.

"Tell thy proud chief that the sons of Britain are warriors and free
men. Free men will they live, and free men die. Never will they submit
their necks to the yoke of the Eagle. Rather will they perish on the
spears of the legionaires."

Thus spoke Edas the son of Atli, the brave hill warrior, who was chief
of the Britons in Longdendale. The Roman heard, and, proud and haughty
though he was, could not help admiring the heroic audacity of the
white, half naked savage who stood before him. Edas, son of Atli, was
a finely built man, six feet and more in height, broad of chest and
stout of limb, and standing thus, with no garment save a covering of
wolf-skin about his loins, the beautiful proportions of his frame
stood out with the clearness of a statue. His long hair hung loose
about his shoulders, shining golden in the sunlight, and truly was it
said of him that no hero of the old time was more glorious to look
upon.

For a moment the Roman paused. Then at length he spake.

"Why battle with the legions? Why fight against fate? Why not live as
free men? To be a citizen of Rome is to be a free man indeed--a
citizen of an empire which rules the world. Welcome the Eagles and
live. But resist the legions, and--what then?"

"Then," replied Edas, "we shall at least preserve our honour; we shall
at least remain free as our fathers were; we shall have the chance to
emulate the deeds, and die deaths as glorious as those of the heroes
of whom the bards sing, and we shall not live to see our wives and
daughters dishonoured by the ruthless soldiers of Rome."

He looked the Roman full in the face, and the emissary of Agricola
flushed with anger at the implication contained in the chief's
concluding words.

"Is that all?" he asked. "Is that thy message to Agricola? Not peace
but war?"

"War," answered the chief fiercely. "War to the death against the
Romans."

"So be it. The legions will surely come. Farewell."

A short time only elapsed after the dispatch of this defiant
declaration ere the British outposts brought news of the Roman
advance. Perfect master of the art of war, Agricola left nothing to
the last moment, and the same day which brought the message from the
Britons, saw the Roman army in motion. The troops marched along the
course of the Mersey, and halted for a space at Stockport, where they
afterwards built a strong station. Then they moved on, still following
the stream, and passed up the banks of the river Etherow, until the
great basin of the Coombs Valley lay before them.

Meanwhile the Britons had vigorously prepared themselves for the great
struggle. Over the heathery wastes of the hills--into what are now the
counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Derbyshire--through the thick
forests where the wolves, bears, and other wild beasts of prey
lurked--went the war message of Edas the chief, rallying the warriors
to battle. For once the tribal jealousies were forgotten, feuds
vanished in face of the common danger, and Brigantines joined with
Cornavii to offer a united front to the common enemy. For days
succeeding the arrival of the Roman herald there was a great massing
of warriors, fleet-footed graceful men from the Cheshire plains, big
wild men from the mountains which lie to the north and east of
Longdendale. Day and night the forest altars and the stone circles of
the Druids, which stood amid the heather on the summit of the Coombs,
were constantly the scenes of sacrifices and other savage rites of
Druid worship. Young men and maidens were slain by the golden knife of
the Arch Druid, and their spirits passed, with the strains of weird
singing, to intercede with God for the cause of Britain. All day the
bards sang the songs of old, and at night the ghosts of buried heroes
sailed past on the wings of the wind. Thus were the hearts of the
British warriors strengthened for the battle which was to come.

Night fell, and the forests of Longdendale were full of the white,
fierce warriors, who moved silently yet swiftly in the direction of
the Coombs. It was the last night of peace; on the morrow the songs of
war would arise, and brave men would die. Also, it was the night of
sacrifices, and the Druid altar--that strange group of stones now
known as the Robin Hood's Picking Rods--would witness the supreme
sacrifice--the offering to the Gods of that which was most dear to the
hearts of the Britons. That day, just before the setting of the sun,
Arwary, the fleet-footed, had bounded into the camp with the lightness
of the deer, bringing tidings of the Roman advance. The legions would
attack on the morrow, and so that night must be a night of
sacrifice--the greatest sacrifice of all. Caledon, the ancient Druid,
had summoned the Druid priests to the sacred groves of oak, and the
warriors were bidden to gather about the altar shortly before the
rising of the moon.

In the wood, near the dwelling of Edas, stood the chief. By his side
was a maid--Nesta the fair--the beloved of Edas, son of Atli. Soon, if
the gods willed, she would become his bride. Meanwhile she was the
fairest maid in all Britain, and even the voluptuous Romans sang her
praises about the camp fires at night.

Edas, son of Atli, spoke of love, and Nesta the fair drew close to his
breast. Her arms were about his neck, and the lovers kissed. Edas, son
of Atli, and Nesta the Fair, were happy.

Presently a voice was heard, and the maiden started. It was the voice
of Caledon, ancient Druid and he called for Nesta the Fair.

"The gods have need of thee," he cried. "They have sent to me their
message, and they ask as a sacrifice the beloved of Edas--the bride of
the chief."

The voice of the Druid was stern and terrible. Edas the chief stood
like one bereft of reason. Only Nesta the Fair remained calm.

"It is the will of the All-Giver," she said, and sighed. "Yet--I had
dreamed of happiness and love."

Again the voice of Caledon cried--

"What greater happiness can a maiden have than to be the chosen of the
gods?"

But Edas flung his arms about the maid.

"She is too young, too fair to die," said he, his voice breaking with
agony. "Druid, it shall not be."

For a moment the priest stood silent. Then the words fell from his
lips in an angry torrent.

"Art thou a coward, Edas, son of Atli? Must the daughters of the poor
be offered for sacrifices, and shall the mighty ones of the earth
escape? Shall the gods ask the consent of Edas before they select
themselves a holy bride?"

"And thou, Nesta, art thou not a daughter of a race of kings? Is not
the blood of Hu the Mighty in thy veins, the blood of heroes who
feared nought, death least of all. Maiden, I tell thee the gods demand
it. Only by thy death can the Romans be overthrown, and Britain remain
free. And behold the moon is even now in the sky, the hour of
sacrifice is come."

Nesta the Fair flung her arms about her lover and kissed him.

"Farewell, my heart," she cried. "The gods prosper thee, and give thee
a hero's death at last."

In another moment she was gone, and Edas, who knew the power of the
Druids, fell on the ground and sobbed.

The wild warriors hurried on, and gathered in silence about the altar
of sacrifice. There, between the upright stones, was bound the form of
Nesta the Fair. About her were the white-robed Druids, and Caledon,
the priest, stood near her on the altar.

The voice of Caledon rose, and the multitude drew their breaths to
listen.

"To thee, Dread All Giver, Master of Life, and Death, we offer now the
fairest maid in all the Isle of Britain. We give to thee our best
beloved. Better far is it that she should become Thy bride than fall
into the power of Roman ravishers. Deign to accept her blood as the
price of British victory. May our spears be dyed in the blood of the
Eagles, and may the Roman legions be swept away before the rush of our
warriors, even as the leaves scatter before the wind."

So he chanted, and then, as the moonlight fell in a slanting beam upon
the snow-white breasts of Nesta the Fair, he raised the golden knife,
plunged it deep in the maiden's heart, and the spirit of the bride of
Edas passed beyond the mountains to the Land of Rest.

Then Caledon turned to the warriors.

"Sons of Britain," he cried, "the Gods have accepted your sacrifice.
Get ye to your spears. The air is thick with ghosts. The dead heroes
have left their graves, and their spirits sail about the moor. Sing ye
the songs of the heroes who died for Britain. For on the morrow the
blood will flow like water, and it is well that ye know how to die.
The victory will be as the gods decree, but end the battle as it may,
see that the bards have a glorious song to sing of you, and let not
the ghosts of your fathers be ashamed when they greet you in the after
world."

Silently the warriors filed away, and, as they laid themselves to
rest, the bards sang of glorious deeds. Thus passed the night, and on
the morrow Edas the Chief, pale and heavy eyed with weeping, yet loyal
and true to the land he loved, led his men to meet the Roman steel.

Now the British army was gathered upon the level summit of Coombs,
which runs crescent shaped about the northern end of the valley, and
commands the whole land beneath. One glance at this position convinced
the skilful Roman leader of its impregnable character, and of the
impossibility of taking it by direct assault. The rocks at the head of
the basin-like vale presented an unscaleable barrier to the legions.
The Roman general determined to seek some easier path to the summit.
He moved his men to the right, and, working his way up the gentler
slopes about Ludworth, reached the high ground which stands level with
the crest of Coombs. Here, gathering his men in battle array, he
prepared for a final assault upon the British line.

But the British finding that the Romans were not inclined to attempt
the impossible task of scaling the rocks, and seeing no further
advantage in maintaining their position, moved rapidly towards the
west, and met the Romans on the Ludworth moor. Chanting their wild
songs of battle, the warriors charged upon the Roman line. Again and
again the warriors charged, but the legions stood firm, and the
slaughter was horrible to see. The Britons fought for freedom, which
was dearer to them than life, and few who went to battle that day
returned home to tell the tale. It is said that the British army was
annihilated, and certainly that was the last great fight between the
Romans and the Britons which took place in this part of the country.

When the battle was ended the dead were buried in two great groups
upon the field, and mighty cairns of stones were raised above their
graves. These cairns still remain, and are probably the oldest
monuments to British bravery in this district.

The chief Edas was one of the last to fall. He led charge after charge
of his warriors, shouting his wild war cry, until at length, pierced
by many blades, he fell far in front of the British. For a moment or
so he lay as one dead. Then a glad smile spread over his face, and he
sprang to his feet.

"Nesta, my beloved, I come. The gods are just. They will unite us. We
shall dwell together in the Land of Rest. Thus do I win my way to thy
side."

So crying, he gripped his war hatchet, and, rushing full upon the line
of Roman spears, slew until the soldiers made an end of him.

"That was truly a brave man," said the Roman general. "He could not
have died a nobler death had he been a Roman." And having learned the
story of the death of Nesta, he had the two bodies of the lovers
buried in one grave. The Romans encamped in the neighbourhood, and at
night were startled by a wild song which came from the battlefield. It
was Caswallon the bard, who sang above the grave of Edas. And thus he
sang.

"Now have the heroes gone beyond the veil of the Invisible, and the
Land of Ghosts is thronged with the spirits of the brave."

"Edas, the son of Atli, led his warriors to join the hosts of their
forefathers."

"Edas was of the blood of Hu the Mighty; he was glorious to look upon;
fair was his countenance, even as the light of the morning; he was
sturdy of stature as the oak; he was fleet of foot as the deer; his
eye was as the eye of the eagle; men fell before him in the battle."

"He gave his heart to Nesta the Fair. She was the fairest maid in all
Britain. The Gods had need of her."

"The Romans came, who are brave men. But the Britons are still braver.
Every Briton is a warrior."

"Edas, the son of Atli, led his men to the battle. The battle raged,
and the war song of Edas arose. Many brave men died, but the Britons
still fought on. Edas, son of Atli, led the way; he led his warriors
through the gates of death."

"The battle ended. The Romans won. But the Land of Ghosts welcomed the
souls of Edas and his brave Britons."

"The men sleep beneath the cairns amid the heather. But their spirits
sail upon the wind. And they shall watch over Britain until new heroes
shall arise. And the fame of the Eagles shall grow dim before their
fame, and Britain shall conquer, and shall be mightier than Rome."

Such was the song of Caswallon the bard.

It is said that at certain seasons of the year, when the moonlight
falls upon the Coombs Rocks, the ghosts of the ancient heroes marshall
on the battlefield, waving in phantom hands their phantom axes, as
though ready for the coming of the Roman foe. Thus they keep eternal
vigil over the wild land they loved of old.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

The foregoing story is founded upon one of the earliest traditions of
the neighbourhood, which states that a great battle between the
ancient Britons and the Romans was fought upon the elevated ground in
the vicinity of "Coombs Tor." Several writers of local history have
included this battle in their accounts of actual events. Butterworth,
the historian, gives an elaborate account of it in his description of
the Coombs Cairns. He first mentions the conflict as having taken
place between the Romans, "who were inspired by conquest and the
thirst for military glory," and the Britons, who "fought for their
country's independence"; and then he continues as follows: "Though the
poet and other historians are silent upon the great engagement--for
such I consider it to have been--yet two prodigious mounds, barrows or
tumuli, at from a quarter to half a mile distant from each other, on
the field of battle, remain to attest the magnitude and consequence of
the action. I have been upon them both, and observed that they each
consist of some hundred tons of stone heaped together in a circular or
rather an oval form, covered with the effect of time. One of them has
furze or dwarf gorse growing upon it, and I have seen cows in hot
weather standing on their summits for the purpose of inhaling the
cooling breezes." The same writer then goes on to record the erection
of a Roman trophy stone at some short distance from the field, and
also deduces evidence of the Druids once existing near.

In the neighbourhood of Coombs Rocks there are several relics of
antiquity which are classed as Druidical. One of these, which consists
of two upright stone pillars, rising from a massive stone base, is
situated on Ludworth Moor. It is locally known as the "Robin Hood's
Picking Rods," because Robin Hood and his men are said to have used it
as a target for their arrows. But tradition states it to have been
used by the Druids as an altar of sacrifice.



II.

The Legend of Alman's Death.

A TALE OF MELANDRA CASTLE.


When the Roman general, Julius Agricola completed the subjugation of
the Britons, he began to prepare for a permanent occupation of the
country by erecting a series of strong military stations or forts
throughout the entire kingdom. A number of these fortresses were built
in Cheshire, Lancashire, and Derbyshire, and among the rest was
Melandra Castle, erected on the banks of the river Etherow, in what is
now known as the township of Gamesley. This fort was established about
the end of the first century of the Christian era; it was well built
and was of considerable size; moreover its importance was increased
because it commanded the hill country north and east of Longdendale.
It proved an admirable means of driving back the raids which the
scattered hill-tribes were fond of making on the rich lands of the
valley. The Romans originally called the fort "Zedrotalia," but, on
account of its standing in a district where oak trees were plentiful,
it came to be known by its present name. Melandra is said to be a
Roman name derived from the Greek MELANDRYON, which signifies "The
heart of oak," or "The heart in the oak," and is supposed to have
reference to the fact that the forests of Longdendale were noted for
their splendid oaks at the time when the Romans built their station.

The site of the Castle has been excavated during the years 1899-1905,
and the result of this has been the securing of ample proof that
Melandra was a station of great strength and importance. The
foundations of walls of considerable thickness, with the masonry still
solid and straight as on the day when it was laid, have been
unearthed. Pieces of pottery, broken weapons, and coins have
been found. There is also an inscribed stone containing the
inscription--"Cohortis Primæ Frisianorum Centurio Valerius Vitalis."
Dr. Watson, the eminent antiquary, translates this into "The Cohort of
the First Frisians, Centurion Valerius Vitalis." The Frisians were
troops attached to the renowned Twentieth Legion--the "Valiant and
Victorious"--and Valerius Vitalis is the only one of the Roman
commanders whose name has been handed down.

Across the valley, some distance from Melandra, is a hill called
Mouselow. This hill is supposed to have been a stronghold of the
Ancient Britons. It forms a position of great natural strength, and
was well adapted for military occupation in the days anterior to
gunpowder and artillery. Several pre-historic weapons have been
discovered near.

For a considerable time after the erection of Melandra Castle, the
Roman garrison was much harassed by the activity of a chieftain who
was encamped on Mouselow. This chief watched his opportunity, and
rallying to his side the few fighting men of the Britons who were
left, darted down on detached bands of the Roman soldiery, and left
not one alive to tell the tale. Thus from the earliest days, it seemed
fated that there was to be strife and enmity between the two
strongholds. Even when the Romans had finally driven out the Britons,
and razed the original building of Mouselow to the ground, the
struggle did not cease; for after a time the legions were forced to
leave the country, and no sooner had they turned their backs than the
native chiefs were quarrelling over the spoils. One chief took
possession of Melandra and became prince of that place, and a rival
chief rebuilt the fort on Mouselow and took the title of Prince of
Mouselow.

After a time came the Saxon invasion--bands of freebooters from the
continent landed on these shores, and pillaged where they listed, some
returning to their own land with the spoil they had won, others
settling on the lands of the chiefs they had defeated and slain. Among
the latter class was a Saxon chief named Alman--a brave, though
ruthless warrior, who, after some fierce fighting put to death the
Prince of Mouselow, and established himself in that mountain
stronghold. Thereafter the country of Longdendale was never free from
the depredations of this chief; his robber bands harassed the valleys,
and no man's property was safe if it happened to attract the attention
of the new Prince of Mouselow. He terrorised the native chiefs, who
were nearly all reduced to a state of vassalage by him; indeed, of all
those chiefs, the Prince of Melandra alone maintained his former state
of independence, and this principally because he was fortunate enough
to hold a castle built by the Romans, which, as may be readily
supposed, was the strongest fortress in that part of the country.
Affairs were in this state when there occurred those incidents which
form the substance of this legend.

Now Alman had set his heart upon winning the daughter of a
neighbouring chief for his bride. She was named Ineld, and her father
was the Lord of Woley--which at that time was a fair-sized town. He
was a brave old man, but his forces had been defeated, and his
territory ravaged by Alman's soldiers, so he was somewhat afraid of
the Prince of Mouselow, and more than half inclined to bestow his
daughter's hand upon Alman without ever consulting the girl's wishes
at all.

But it chanced that Ineld had views of her own upon the subject, and
Alman and his robber ways were not to her liking. She had heard things
of Alman and his doings which made the blood run cold.

One day there had come to her father's gate an old woman, who craved
an audience of the chief.

"Why are thine eyes so heavy with mourning?" asked the Lord of Woley.
And the old dame made answer:

"O Chief, I am a widow, and the only stay and comfort of my old age
was my son--an only child. He kept me from beggary and want. He loved
a maiden, and hoped shortly to make her his wife, and even to-day they
talked together by the roadside. But it chanced that the Prince of
Mouselow rode by with his retinue, and, happening to catch sight of
the maid, he ordered his guards to seize her and carry her to the
castle. My son interfered, and in an instant the Prince of Mouselow
slew him with his own hand. And now, O chief, I cry aloud to thee for
justice."

And another day one of her father's serfs had come in weeping.

[Illustration: ROMAN COINS, BRICKS, AND TILES, FOUND AT MELANDRA
CASTLE.]

"My lord," he cried, "I am heavy of heart. I have suffered a great
wrong, and I look to thee for redress. My farm, as thou knowest, is on
the boundary of the Prince of Mouselow's territory, and to-day, in my
absence, his men came and carried off my cattle and much store of
corn. Also, when my wife, who is very fair, remonstrated with them,
they seized her and carried her away to their prince, and my little
child they slew with the sword."

These things had Ineld heard, and they in no way predisposed her in
favour of Alman, nor did the appearance of the chief when he came
a-wooing, alter her first opinions of him. He was a rough, boisterous
man, who drank deep, and swore loud oaths--fine and handsome of
outward appearance, but a man lacking that refinement which most women
prefer to see in men.

Having disclosed his intention to the Lord of Woley, Alman made his
way to the fair Ineld's side, but so used was he to wooing by force
that he could not even now altogether rid himself of his blunt,
repulsive manner.

"Ah, my May," cried he, stealing behind the maid, and flinging his arm
roughly about her waist, "one kiss from those rosy lipe of thine, and
then we will talk of love."

He laughed as the startled Ineld struggled to free herself from his
grasp, but a scowl of anger swept over his face as, with her little
hand, she struck him heavily upon the coarse lips which he had thrust
near her face.

Then he laughed again, and even swore.

"By Woden," said he, "but you are a fit wife for any chief. Little
spitfire--but I like such play. Trust me, I love thee none the less
for that blow. Some day I will tame thee, and then, by the gods, we
shall make a mighty pair."

"Never," cried Ineld fiercely.

And, breaking away, she ran to the mansion, and hid herself in the
women's quarters, where even Alman dared not follow.

That day the Prince of Mouselow rode away immensely pleased with
himself; he loved to see a maid full of fight, so he said, and he
promised himself that Ineld should love him by and by. But the days
went past, and do what he would, he could never persuade the maiden to
grant him an interview alone.

His spirit chafed at the prolonged delay, and at length he determined
upon bolder measures. He lay in wait in the woodland near the home of
Ineld, and in due course his patient waiting was rewarded. The fair
maiden appeared, and, first looking timidly around, as though to make
sure she was unobserved, made her way through the glade to a spot near
a fern-covered spring.

Alman chuckled to himself with glee, and silently he kept pace with
the maiden, although remaining concealed the while.

When Ineld stopped, and showed unmistakable signs of going no further,
the Prince of Mouselow emerged from the undergrowth behind which he
had been hidden, and, with a laugh of triumph, stood before her.

"Now, my little vixen," said he, "I have won you at last. Maids so coy
as you must be wooed in rough fashion. And, once inside my mountain
fortress, I doubt not your consent to wed Alman will soon be
forthcoming."

So saying, he made to carry her to the spot where his steed was
tethered, for he would win his bride by force, even as he had won his
wealth and lands.

Ineld screamed shrilly in terror, and the Prince clapped his rough
hand upon her lips to stifle the cries.

"Cease such idle wailing," said he. "The wood is deserted, no one can
hear, nor would it greatly matter if they could. I hold thee now, and
no man in all the land shall rob me of my prize."

"Be not so sure of that," said a voice at his shoulder, so suddenly
and unexpectedly that Alman dropped the girl, who immediately, with a
joyful cry, sprang to the side of the new comer.

"Lewin--sweetheart," cried she--then could say no more by reason of
the caress which her deliverer bestowed upon her.

"Ah," cried Alman--a light breaking on him, as he recognised the
youthful Lewin, Prince of Melandra. "So 'tis a lover's tryst I have
marred by my presence. Well, let us see who is the better man--Lewin
or Alman, and the winner takes the maid."

He loosened the short axe at his side, and, without pause, rushed on
Lewin, waving the weapon aloft. Scarce had the youth time to thrust
the maid behind him and draw his blade when the axe fell; but the
sword of Lewin was swift to parry, and at the same instant he sprang
aside. The axe missed him by a hairsbreadth, but the sword was
shattered by the stroke, and the Prince of Melandra stood
weaponless--at the mercy of Alman.

[Illustration: INSCRIBED ROMAN STONE FOUND AT MELANDRA CASTLE.]

The Prince of Mouselow laughed, and again raised his axe to make an
end, but Lewin, disdaining to fly, faced him calmly, awaiting death
without a tremour. His cool and gallant bearing touched the fierce
robber, and he dropped his arm.

"I could slay thee easily," said he, "but I soil not my fame so. Thou
art a brave man, and above all the chiefs about, hast hitherto opposed
me with credit to thyself. I give thee thy life--the maiden goes with
me. But this chance I give thee. Rally thy men and meet me now in
battle array--Melandra against Mouselow, and we will fight for a noble
prize--the lordship of all the land of Longdendale, and the fair Ineld
for a queen. Thou may'st trust me. The maid stays in my keeping, but I
touch her not until the battle has been fought and won."

Lewin advanced and took the hand of Alman.

"I trust thee, Prince." said he. "'Tis a noble act. Get thee to thy
stronghold with the maiden, for soon the axe of Lewin will be knocking
at thy door."

Then, turning to the trembling girl, he whispered:

"Fear not, Ineld, I come quickly. Ere another hour is passed the
war-song of Lewin will echo through the hills."

Then he was gone.

An hour later Alman stood on the rampart of Mouselow, and gazed in the
direction of Melandra. The warrior by his side pointed to a dancing
light which played upon the distant fields and seemed to move on
Mouselow. It was the sunlight reflected from a host of shields and
spears.

[Illustration: PREHISTORIC SPEAR HEAD FOUND NEAR MOUSELOW CASTLE]

"They come, my lord," said he. And Alman answered:

"This Lewin keeps his word. The fight will be such as a soldier loves.
Now get to your arms."

The Prince of Mouselow watched the approach of the foe with gladness.
Rude and tyrannous though he might be, he was yet a brave man, and
asked for nothing better than a worthy foe and a fair field. It
mattered little to him if death came in the conflict. His fathers had
all died fighting, and he, too, longed to die in the thick of the
fray. He loved fighting for fighting's sake, and in the lust for the
conflict he even forgot the fair Ineld--the prize for which he fought.
Placing himself at the head of his men, he led them out of the fort,
and soon the two forces were in touch with each other. The Prince of
Melandra was at the head of his own troops, and as the two armies
closed he gave forth his war shout and called upon his men to charge.
The warriors clashed their axes and shields together, and cried aloud:

"Lewin we will follow thee to death. Lead on!"

And thus the great fight begun.

The battle lasted through the day, and it seemed almost certain that
the superior force of the Prince of Mouselow would win. But the men of
Melandra fought like heroes; they stubbornly maintained their ground,
and, as the day passed, the battle was still undecided.

Throughout the combat Lewin seemed to bear a charmed life. He was ever
in the thick of battle, and where his axe descended there death
reigned in the foemen's ranks. But towards the evening he realised
that his rapidly thinning ranks were in danger of being enveloped by
the greater number of the foe, and that if the battle was to be saved,
it would require a superhuman effort.

Then, knowing that where he led his men would surely follow, he raised
his war shout, and, with a mighty rush, charged single-handed on the
foe. He was surrounded in an instant, and a score of blows were
showered at his head. The peril of their chief so incensed the men of
Melandra that they became like madmen, and swept onwards with a charge
that nothing could withstand. This was exactly what Lewin had looked
for, and, hoping to render the effect of the charge doubly sure, he
still pushed on, making for the standard where Alman fought.

The Prince of Mouselow rallied his men about him, and, shoulder to
shoulder, they stood to repel the onslaught. But the rush of Lewin was
too fierce, the men of Mouselow were scattered like chaff, and Alman
himself fell pierced by a score of blades.

[Illustration: THE PRINCESS INELD.]

With the fall of Alman the battle ended, his men fled from the field,
and their dying chief turned and laughed as he watched them fly.

"They run," said he--"the dogs. And yet--they fought bravely. Well,
let them run. Ho. Lewin, the day is thine. Ineld is thine, and I--I
die. Tell her I died as a brave man should--face to the foe. Valhalla
calls me. Lewin, farewell."

So he died.

The old chronicle tells us that he died as the sun set, and his spirit
passed away with the dying beams to the eternal land of rest. It is
said that so keen was the conflict, and so great was the bloodshed,
that one part of the battlefield was afterwards termed Redgate in
perpetual commemoration of the day. The spot whereon Alman died was
called Almansdeath, a name it still retains.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

There are many traditions which speak of the fierce encounters between
the forces of Melandra and Mouselow. They are, however, extremely
vague, and it is difficult to say whether the story of Alman refers to
a battle between the Romans and the Britons, or a struggle of the
later Saxon period. For the purpose of this narrative I have adopted
the latter date. It may be added that Melandra has been a favourite
theme with local writers. The following fragments from the pen of
Thomas Barlow, the Longdendale poet, will serve as illustrations of
the way in which the "castle" has been the subject of song and
romance.

    And well I loved the roaring flood--
    The wind, when whistling through the wood,
    Below where once Melandra stood,
          With turrets high;
    And often stray'd at eve, to brood
          On days gone by;

    In which, traditions old declare,
    Melandra flourish'd, free and fair,
    And glisten'd in the morning air,
          Anent the sun;
    Ere Time, who swept the ruins bare,
          His freaks begun.

    When lordly knight, at dawn of day,
    Led forth his train--a proud array
    Of stalwart warriors blithe and gay
          With martial fire;
    Whose arms upheld the feudal sway
          Of knight and squire.

    When martial music could entrance,
    And prompt the love inspiring glance,
    Till knights and ladies would advance,
          Quick-step or slow;
    In halls where hung the sword and lance,
          And good yew bow.

    In fancy oft I saw the throng,
    And heard the aged minstrel's song,
    As, softly sweet, he did prolong,
          His tender strain;
    With themes of love or war his tongue
          Could audience gain.

    When deeds of arms his song would claim,
    He sang Melandra's knightly fame,
    And hung with reverence on the name
          His chieftain bore,
    Till tears reveal'd the ardent flame
          That fired his lore.



III.

King Arthur's Adventure.


Arthur, son of Uthyr, Pendragon of Great Britain, organised that high
order of Christian chivalry, commonly known as the knighthood of the
Round Table. The companions of this Order bound themselves by oath to
oppose the progress of paganism, to be loyal to the British throne, to
fight--not for self-glory, but for the redressing of human wrong, to
protect the defenceless, to show mercy to the fallen, to honour
womanhood, and never to turn their backs upon a foe in battle.

It is said that God raised up King Arthur that he might render Britain
free, drive out the heathen, purify his realm, and spread Christ among
men. For this purpose, the Lady of the Lake, "clothed in white samite,
mystic, wonderful," gave to the king the huge cross-hilted sword,
"Excalibur," which was forged beneath the sea, whose blade was so
bright that men were blinded by it, and before whose sweep no man
might stand. With this blade, Arthur led his knighthood, and in twelve
great battles overcame the Saxon heathen hordes. It is said that four
of these great victories of the young Pendragon were fought in
Lancashire, and that after the battles the knights of the Round Table
rode through the country, redressing the wrongs of the people, and
putting tyrants to the sword.

At this time there were great castles on the hills of Longdendale, and
in one of these strongholds dwelt a cruel and treacherous knight of
gigantic stature and enormous strength. On account of his many
cruelties he was known as Sir Terrible. His fortress was built upon a
commanding eminence; it was defended by ramparts surmounted by massive
towers of stone, and was so strong a place that it had never yet been
taken by a foe.

Sir Terrible was not married, though he was now in the prime of life.
It was said that no woman would mate with him, so black were his
deeds. Strange tales were told of his love passages, and many a
country maiden had mysteriously disappeared. Rumour said that the
knight carried off the maidens to his dreadful dwelling under cover of
the darkness, and it was certain that when morning came, the cottage
of each victim was found in ashes, and the dead bodies of the kinsfolk
lay around. No trace of the maids could be found, and they were never
seen again, though shrieks and cries of agony floated on the air from
the direction of the castle walls.

Now King Arthur held Court after one of his great victories, which he
won near Wigan, and to him flocked the people from far and near,
laying their grievances before the King, and beseeching help at his
hands. Among the rest came an old dame from Longdendale, who wept
bitterly as she told her story, bewailing the loss of the fairest maid
in all Cheshire. For it seemed that the maiden was the old dame's
grandchild, that they two lived in a lonely spot in the valley of
Longdendale, that Sir Terrible had become enamoured of the maid, and
had carried her to his castle, where he kept her a prisoner, neither
suffering her to go out, nor yet anyone to hold converse with her.
Also he had slain two noble knight-errants to whom the dame had told
her tale, and who had chivalrously sought to rescue the maiden.

It was towards the close of the day when the old dame told her story,
for there had been a large attendance of petitioners to see the King;
moreover all the knights had left the court on some quest or other in
keeping with their oaths as members of the Round Table. But when the
King heard of the cruelty of Sir Terrible, he rose at once, the gentle
look passed from his face, and in its place gleamed the determined
light of battle. He donned his war-gear, and buckled the great sword
"Excalibur" to his side. Then, accompanied only by a young squire, and
dressed only as a simple knight, he rode away towards Longdendale.

The King rested for the night at the hut of a poor peasant, from whom
he gleaned tidings of many fresh cruelties of Sir Terrible. Early in
the morning he set out and soon came in sight of the Castle.

Now, as they rode, the young squire had been silent. But when the
Castle towers hove in sight he spoke to the King.

"My liege," said he, "My father was a knight at the court of Uthyr
Pendragon, and was esteemed meet company for brave men. I, his son,
have not yet done a deed worthy of mine ancestry. Grant, I pray, that
this quest be mine to follow. 'Tis true I am untried, and the foe is
strong, yet the cause is just, and, mayhap, God will nerve my arm."

So he pleaded, for he desired above all else the chance to do some
Christian deed that might win for him the fellowship of the Round
Table.

After much persuasion the king at last granted him his prayer, and the
Squire rode with a glad heart to the castle gate, while Arthur hid
himself among the trees.

Reaching the gate, the squire thundered at it with his lance, and then
drew back to wait. In answer to his knocking, the knight Sir Terrible
appeared, ready mounted, armed with lance and sword.

"Villain and treacherous knight," cried the squire. "How darest thou
abduct innocent and defenceless maidens, whom all thy Order are bound
to protect, keeping them as slaves within thy castle? I am come to
make thee rue this foul insult to the order of our good King Arthur;
for thy cruelties are a stain upon the honour of his knighthood, and a
blotch upon the fair fame of his kingdom."

"Thou discourteous churl," answered Sir Terrible. "Do but lead on to
yon level piece of green, and I will first meet thee in fair fight,
and then send thy carcase to thy base born king."

Now the squire, used to the honour of noble knights, turned to ride to
the greensward indicated, but no sooner was his back turned than the
treacherous Sir Terrible, couching his lance, drove at him between the
shoulders, striking him so fierce a blow that the squire fell
senseless to the ground.

Then the knight laughed loudly, and would have hacked off the head of
his fallen foe, had not the king, who was now dismounted, stepped from
the shelter of the trees, and stood above the prostrate squire.

[Illustration: "A COUNTRY MAID OF LONGDENDALE."]

"Thou cruel traitor," cried the king. "That foul stroke shall cost
thee thy life. Never have I seen a blow more foul."

On seeing this new foe, Sir Terrible--who did not recognise the
king--again couched his lance, and, without waiting to give his
opponent chance to mount, and meet him in fair combat, charged down
upon the king.

But Arthur stood calm and firm, and drawing Excalibur from its sheath,
he stepped aside as the horseman charged, and smote with all his
might. The blow cut clean through the lance close to the haft, and
falling on the steed, brought it to the ground. Instantly the knight
sprang up in terror.

"Now I know thee," he cried. "Thou art Arthur Pendragon. No sword save
the brand Excalibur could have struck so great a blow as that."

"Thou speakest truly," answered the king. "I am indeed Pendragon."

Then the coward knight turned to fly, for well he knew that none
might stand before Excalibur and live.

But the king stepped forward. He raised the great sword aloft. The
blade flashed in the sunlight. It cut clean through the iron helm, and
the head of Sir Terrible rolled on the sward.

After slaying the tyrant--so the story tells us--King Arthur restored
the squire, who was merely wounded, and then the two, mounting their
steeds, rode up to the castle gates. The king rode in front, and at
his saddle bow there hung the bloody head of the dead tyrant.

Arthur raised his lance, and with it thundered on the outer gate.

"Ho! warder," cried the king, "open instantly!"

But the warder made answer--

"Who art thou who knockest so loudly? Know that I hold the castle for
Sir Terrible, and that I open only when my master comes."

At which the king laughed.

"Then open hastily," said he, "for thy master is here even now."

And swinging his arms, he hurled the gory head of the traitor knight
over the iron spikes of the gate, so that it fell with a thud at the
feet of the warder. The terrified fellow shrieked and fled, and his
cries rang through the castle, causing the men-at-arms to grasp their
weapons and stand at attention.

By this time the king was hammering loudly at the gate--great blows
that shook the stout oaken portal so that it trembled in its sockets,
and threatened to fall into splinters.

"By my troth," cried the captain of the men-at-arms, "but 'tis a
mighty arm which deals such blows. No wonder our master fell before
it."

Then, leaning over the rampart, he called aloud:

"Ho! there without. Who art thou who makest such a din; and what is
thy business?"

Then Arthur made answer:

"I am the king,"

Whereupon the men were overcome with fear, and casting aside their
weapons, they opened the gate, and surrendered the castle to King
Arthur. The king ordered all the captives to be set at liberty, and
this was immediately done, the long procession of unfortunate victims
of the cruelty of Sir Terrible passing before the king, each one
blessing him for having wrought their deliverance.

Last of all came the maiden whose rescue had been the immediate cause
of the king's visit to Longdendale. She was wondrously beautiful, and
as she stood before him, Arthur was so struck by her good looks that
he could not refrain from passing knightly compliments.

"Such beauty as thine," said he, "would best befit a court. 'Tis
wasted in these wilds. Thou shalt have a place among the maidens who
wait upon the Queen."

But the maiden answered:

"If it please thee, sire, I would stay in fair Longdendale. I am but a
country maiden. I love the free life of these hills and valleys; and
at thy court I should be but as a wild bird in a cage."

Whereupon the king, noticing her earnest look of supplication,
smilingly bent his head, and suffered her to depart.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now the rest of the tale is soon told. The king bestowed the castle
and the lands of the dead Sir Terrible, upon the young squire who had
accompanied him, and whom he now made into a knight.

And then great changes took place in that part of Longdendale. Instead
of being looked upon with dread by all the people of the countryside,
the castle came to be regarded as the seat of a protecting power, to
whose lord the poor might look for succour in time of need, and for
justice in all seasons.

And perhaps the greatest change of all took place in the maiden who
had been rescued from the clutches of Sir Terrible by King Arthur and
his squire. Formerly she had trembled at the very name of the lord of
the castle, and had witnessed his approach with a terror as great as
that which causes the timid to shrink from death. But now she shrank
from his approach no longer, there were even whispers that she kept
tryst with the new lord; and at length there arrived a day when the
young knight came in state, and carried her to the castle--a willing
captive--where, in the presence of the king, they were made man and
wife. The two lived long and happily together, trusted by the king,
respected by their equals, and beloved by all who were beneath them in
station. The knight won great renown as a warrior, so much so that
evil-disposed men feared to meet him, and during his lifetime,
although there were wars in other parts of the kingdom, the land of
Longdendale enjoyed peace.

In due time the knight and his lady had several fine sons, who grew up
after the pattern of the king, and long maintained the fair fame of
Arthur Pendragon in Longdendale, even in days after the good king had
passed from life, to sail in the black barge with the three Queens, to
Avilion, the Isle of Rest.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

Concerning the connection of King Arthur with Longdendale, it may be
of interest to mention that Bernard Robinson, in his "History of
Longdendale," writes thus:--"Traditions speak of castles and kings,
and great bloody battles fought along the hills--traditions of the
times of Aurelius Ambrosius, and King Arthur, that have come

"Floating down the tide of years' mantled in mystery."

I may further add that it is not surprising to find Longdendale
associated by tradition with the great hero of English romance.
Several great battles of King Arthur are said to have been fought in
Lancashire and Cheshire, and the former county is very closely linked
with the chief of the knights of the Round Table. The name Lancashire
is said to mean "Lancelot's Shire." Lancelot of the Lake is reputed to
have been monarch or ruler of this county.



IV.

The Legend of War Hill.


It was early autumn of the year 1138, and the Valley of Longdendale
was a vast tract of desolation. True, the trees were still decked with
verdure, and the mellow tint of autumn clothed nature with a lovely
garb. The streams still murmured with silvery splashes as they
wandered through the woodland, and the birds warbled among the
branches. In all this the valley was as of old--lovely, radiant, fair.
But the song of the reaper was never heard; the fields were tangled
and untilled, the instruments of husbandry were destroyed or
abandoned, and a grievous famine reigned. For the demon of war was
abroad, and the blight of his shadow had fallen on the fair Cheshire
vale.

King Stephen was seated on the throne which he had won by violence. As
he had usurped the sovereign power without the pretence of a title, he
was necessitated to tolerate in others, the same violence to which he
himself had been beholden for his crown. Even in time of peace the
nobles made sad havoc with the property of the people, but now that
war was in the land, and the forces of the Lady Matilda, King Henry's
child, sought to drive the usurper from the throne,--now, indeed, the
castles poured forth bands of licensed robbers, and the homesteads of
Longdendale were burned, the people driven to the woods, and the
flocks and herds of the yeomen were confiscated.

Had the reader been privileged to wander through the woodland glades
near Mottram, he would, maybe, have seen a group of fugitives
bargaining with a sturdy forester for leave to shelter themselves in
the depths of the forest, without fear of molestation.

"Thou hast known me all my life," said the leader of the party, "for a
patient, God-fearing, and faithful husbandman. I have ever kept the
forest laws, and seek not to work harm therein even now. But Mottram
town is no place for me, for all my poor belongings have been seized
by the King's men, and my hut has been burned to the ground. And but
yesterday there came a party of the other side, and their leader had
me up, and soundly thrashed me, because he said I helped the King, and
was disloyal to the Princess. Helped the King, forsooth, when the King
helped himself to all I had, and turned me out o' doors to shift for
myself."

"And I," quoth another, "come from Tingetvisie (Tintwistle), and there
the townsfolk are so scared they dare not seek their beds at night.
Nothing have I left to call my own, not even arms with which to
protect myself. Truly the forest is a heaven to all such poor people
as we."

"Well, well," grumbled the bluff forester, "get into the woods and
hide yourselves, but play not with the deer at your peril. A pest on
these troubles. I would the great folk would settle their differences
themselves, and allow the poor to live in peace. Get off, I say, and
hide yourselves. Steer clear of both King's men and Queen's men, and
be damned to both sides."

So saying he went on his way whistling, and the fugitives hastily left
the path, and were soon lost from view in the undergrowth. There, like
beasts of the forest, they lay by day, and emerged when the night
fell, to pick up such scraps of food as were to be had by the way.
Little wonder there were robbers on the roads in those times.

Days passed on, and the wanderers in the woods beheld parties of
rovers, riding with lance and sword, now north, now south, as the tide
of war ebbed and flowed. Rumours had reached them of an invasion of
the Scots under King David, and following the rumours came bands of
wild Highland men, who laid waste with fire and sword what little the
robber-bands of the English knighthood had spared. The King of
Scotland came south to aid his niece, the Princess Matilda, and with
the appearance of his army on this side the border, the nobles who
favoured the Princess arose. There was a mustering of all the
able-bodied men of the Vale of Longdendale, and, glad to strike a blow
to bring the state of tumult to an end, the men took sides.

"Hast thou heard the news?" asked one fugitive of another.

"To what news dost thou refer, good man?" was the reply. "Is it more
of evil?"

"Nay, that is as thou listest," was the answer. "'Tis said the King of
Scots rides hither with a great following of men at arms, and that
King Stephen's forces muster for the combat. In that case there may be
a great struggle toward, and now, maybe, we shall see the ending of
all this strife and misery."

"In that case, good man, methinks I will strike a blow for one side,
so that the matter may indeed be ended."

"On what side art thou?"

"I am for the Princess."

"And I for King Stephen."

"Then we are enemies, but I bear thee no ill-will. Mayhap we shall
meet again in the battle."

"Maybe. At least it will be better than starving in the woods. I wish
thee a good-morrow."

"And I thee. Farewell."

Upon which the speakers went their several ways to arrange themselves
beneath the banners of the cause they favoured.

Soon there was a fair mustering of each faction, and with the trains
of knights, who came from north and south, the rival forces grew from
companies into armies. King Stephen sent a great body of horse and
foot to strengthen the array of those who fought beneath his banner,
whilst stray bands of Highland men swelled the ranks of the warriors
of Matilda.

Now the chief forester of Longdendale was a man with a kind heart, and
to all those civil and respectable folk who took to the woods for a
refuge, he showed such toleration and care as his position allowed;
only upon the idle, thieves, and evildoers, was his anger bestowed. It
was no new thing for him to meet with fugitives--particularly
women--seeking shelter in the forest, and, accordingly, he gave little
heed to a small band of riders in which were several females, who
entered the forest of Longdendale upon a certain evening just before
the hour of sunset.

"Another band of fugitives," said he. "Poor souls; God have mercy on
them."

He would have passed on his way had not one of the band--a
sturdy-looking young man, dressed in plain russet garb--thus accosted
him:

"Ho there, fellow," cried the youth. "Come thou hither, for I would
have a word with thee."

The tone in which the words were spoken was commanding, and to the
forester it sounded insolent.

For answer he turned, and looking the horseman straight in the face
said:

"Have a care, knave, what words thou usest to thy betters, or thou art
likely to rue such speeches as that."

The young man frowned, and, raising a light riding whip, made as
though he would strike the forester. But the latter brought into
position a stout oak staff which he carried, and, advancing boldly,
said in a threatening voice:

"Take advice from an older man, and drop thy paltry weapon. Otherwise
I shall be put to the necessity of cracking thy pate. One blast of
this horn now dangling at my side will speedily summon some of the
stoutest lads in Cheshire, and thou and thy followers will ere long be
dangling from the nearest tree."

So saying, the bold forester blew upon his horn, and scarcely had the
echoes died away ere five stalwart men clad in green, each armed with
yew-bow and quiver, and long knives at their girdle, burst from the
thickets and ranged themselves by the forester's side.

What the newcomers would have done with the old forester at their
head, it is difficult to say; but a diversion was created by one of
the female riders, chiding the horseman who had first spoken.

"Thou art over-hasty, and even rude," said she; "where is thy
discernment. Seest thou not that these men are honest, and wouldst
thou set them against us?".

Then, advancing alone, she bent in her saddle, and whispered something
to the forester. The old man started, gazed at the speaker, for a
moment, then doffed his cap, and bowed low. Next turning to the five
who stood behind him, he cried:

"Uncover, and on your knees. It is the Queen."

The Royal Matilda--for she it was, thus driven with her infant son,
Henry, and a few faithful followers, to adopt the disguise of poor
travellers, and to seek for a place of refuge until the coming battle
should decide her fate--smiled graciously upon the old man and his
companions.

"Methinks there is a likeness in all your faces," said she. "Are these
thy sons?"

"They are my sons," answered the forester; "and withal thy loyal
subjects, gracious lady, ready to give their lives for thee and
thine."

After a few further passages of speech, the chief forester led the way
to his own dwelling--which was a strongly built and well concealed
place, where, attended by his good wife, the Queen might rest secure
until the battle had been fought and won.

Meanwhile the forester and his sons donned their war-gear, and when
the time was ripe they took their stand with the rest of those who
fought beneath the banner of the Queen.

It was in the gray dawning of an autumn day when the two armies met.
The battle was fought on a hill in the Mottram township, where the
ancient Church of Mottram now stands. But there was no sacred building
there on that gray morning of long ago, when the clashing of arms
awoke the echoes, and the air was heavy with the shrieks of dying men.

The army of Matilda was posted on the hill. Their position was strong
and commanding. From it they could note the approach of the foe, and
fight him with advantage. In the midst of their array rose the
standard of the Princess--the royal banner of the great Henry--and by
its side the bonnie flag of Scotland floated in the breeze.

As the gray light broke from the east, the watchers on the hill beheld
the first line of Stephen's forces emerge from the woods. The King's
army was a mighty host, the bright spears gleamed in the light of
dawn, and the archers carried great quivers full of deadly
goose-tipped shafts.

The royal force came on, and the leading ranks broke into a
battle-chant as they neared the hill foot, and bent to meet the slope.
The archers winged their shafts, the axes, bills, and pikes advanced;
a rain of arrows beat whistling from the ranks upon the hill, and the
great fight commenced.

Bit by bit the soldiers of Stephen advanced up the hill. They left
many dead upon the slopes, but still the host went on. The army of
Matilda hung thick and massive upon the crest, and waited with
unbroken front for the closing of the foe; they rained down their
flights of arrows, but kept their ranks unbroken, with bristling rows
of pikes in front.

At length the advancing host drew near. The foremost men rushed
bravely on, they clutched the wall of pikes with their hands, and
strove to hew a way to victory. But the arrows fell among them,
dealing death in full measure, and the brave men fell. Others took
their places, and again the goose-shafts flew.

Now the advancing army remembered the trick of Norman William on the
field of Senlac. At a given signal they turned and fled in apparent
confusion. With a wild yell the unwary Highland men broke from their
post upon the summit, and charged down to slay. Then, swift as
lightning, the warriors of Stephen turned. Their archers met the
onrush of the pursuers with a staggering volley of shafts. The pikes
and bills charged up the slope. The axes hacked the brawny Scots, and
the broken ranks upon the hill, opening wider yet to receive their
retreating comrades, let in the charging body of the foe. After that
there was a mingled mass of slaying men about the summit. The hosts of
King Stephen girt the hill round, so that there was no escape for the
men who stood upon it. Death was everywhere, death for the victors
and the vanquished; for the soldiers of the Princess died as soldiers
should, and they slew great numbers of the foe.

[Illustration: MOTTRAM CHURCH AND THE WAR HILL, THE SITE OF THE BATTLE
MENTIONED IN THE LEGEND.]

That was the last stand for the Princess Matilda in that part of
Cheshire, and the old chronicles say that the blood shed in the battle
ran in a stream down the slopes, and formed a great pool at the foot
of the hill.

       *       *       *       *       *

As the gray of the morrow's dawn fell upon the scene of battle, the
pale light fell also upon a group of living beings, who stood upon the
summit of the hill among the hosts of the dead.

Matilda, the Queen, was there--beaten and dismayed, since all hope was
lost. The chief forester of Longdendale stood there also, and he, too,
sighed, as one whose heart is broken--he had just been groping among
the corpses, and had found what he sought.

"Are thy fears well founded?" asked Matilda, anxiously.

The old man pointed to the inert forms of five dead men.

"They were all I had--and I am an old man. Now they are gone, my very
name must perish."

The royal lady looked at him for a moment, her whole being trembling
with grief.

"My heart is broken," she said. "Yet what is my loss to thine?"

The old man took her hand, and kissed it.

"I am a loyal man--and an Englishman. I gave them freely to the cause
of my Queen. Who am I that I should complain?"

Royal lady and lowly-born forester gazed into each other's eyes for a
brief space--their looks conveying thoughts which were too sacred for
words--and then the Queen's train moved down the hill, and the old man
was left alone--alone with his sorrow and his dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

The world is full of changes, and ever on the heels of war comes the
angel form of peace. Men called the hill whereon the battle had been
fought Warhill, and in after days the builders raised the sacred pile
of Mottram Church, where the soldiers of Matilda and Stephen fought
and died.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

According to an old Longdendale tradition, the War Hill, Mottram, is
the site of a battle which was fought in the twelfth century between
the forces of the Princess Matilda and King Stephen.



V.

Sir Ro of Staley Hall.


There was a noble gathering in the great banqueting room of Staley
Hall, on that memorable morning when Sir Ro or Ralph de Stavelegh
entertained his guests for the last time ere he set sail for the Holy
Land. The message of war had been sent through all merrie England, and
many of the Cheshire knights were leaving their homes, their wide and
pleasant meadows, and their dear wives and children, to engage in the
stern conflict of the great Crusade. Sir Ro, of Staley, was one of the
first to offer his sword in the holy cause. He was a brave knight,
born of a war-like ancestry, and desirous above all things to risk his
life in so sacred a war. And now he had called together his friends
and neighbours, that they might feast once more in the old banqueting
hall, and pledge themselves as true and leal comrades before the
knight said farewell.

There were many brave knights and squires, many noble dames and fair
maidens, seated about that hospitable board. But the lovliest of all
women gathered there was the young lady of Staley, and the handsomest
of men in that goodly company was the warrior knight, Sir Ro.

The feasting went on well into the night. In the minstrels' gallery
there were harpers who harped of war, and bards who sang of heroes'
deeds and victory. The music was wild and glorious; it lured men to
war, it breathed the spirit of strife, it lured the love of maidens to
the man who wielded axe and sword. When the music ceased there were
speeches made by the knights, and good wishes expressed, and the words
of friendship passed.

Then the Knight of Staley rose to bid farewell. He spoke of the true
comradeship between his guests and himself. He begged them to see that
no enemy laid waste his fair domain while he was distant at the war.
By every tie of friendship, he prayed them to protect well his dear
lady should ever the need arise. Then, turning to his wife, he asked
that she should hand her wedding ring to him, and the lady complied.
Holding up the ring, and in sight of all the guests, Sir Ro next
snapped the golden circlet in twain, and, restoring one half to his
spouse, he placed the other against his heart, swearing by that token
to be a true lover and husband until death. On her part, the lady made
a like vow, and thus, before all that noble company, they pledged
again eternal troth.

On the morrow, with many bitter tears at the pain of the parting, with
many tender kisses and protestations of fidelity, Sir Ro and his lady
parted--the lady to her lonely bower, the knight to his ship, his
journey, and the war.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sir Ro sailed the seas in company with many other English knights and
men-at-arms. They marched across the great desert, suffering many
privations, often being in peril of death by the wilderness, and at
other times endangered by the craft and might of the foe. They fought
many battles, winning great glory for the Christian arms, and putting
numbers of the Saracens to death. In all the fighting Sir Ro of Staley
played a great part. He was ever in the thickest of the battle, his
helm bore the marks and dints of many blows, his breast was scarred
with wounds, his sword dulled with hacking, his axe chipped with
striking. Wherever he rode the foe fell like hail beaten by the wind.
They were powerless before him; death came to them with the falling of
his brand; and before his arm multitudes of heathen bit the dust.

[Illustration: "IN THE MINSTRELS' GALLERY."]

At length befell an evil day for the Christian army. Sir Ro was
captured by a cunning strategy of the foe, and, bound hand and foot,
was carried off to a Saracen town. There, stripped of his knightly
raiment, and dressed in the poor garb of a palmer, he was cast into a
filthy and dark dungeon, and there left to pine and die.

For long dreary months did the brave knight suffer this cruel
captivity without a murmur or complaint. His cheeks grew white, his
limbs thin, his frame was wasted; the palmer's dress hung loose about
his figure. None would have recognised in that feeble prisoner the
once gay and handsome lord of Staley Hall.

One night Sir Ro fell into a troubled sleep, in which he dreamed some
horrid dream. It seemed that some great evil threatened his wife and
kindred at home--an evil which he had no power to avert. So vivid was
the dream that, on awakening, the force of his anguish was such as to
cause his frame to tremble and his heart to languish with despair.
But, like a good Christian knight, he fell upon his knees and poured
forth his soul in earnest prayer to God, asking his Heavenly Father to
succour his wife in the hour of peril, and, by some means--if it were
His will--to restore him to his home.

Having thus prayed, a calm fell upon the knight, and, repeating the
Saviour's prayer, he laid himself upon his couch, and fell into a
gentle sleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sir Ro awoke with a start. It seemed as though a bright light from
heaven blinded him. There was a warmth as of living fire about him.
All the cell seemed a-flame. Then his full senses came, and he leaped
and cried aloud for joy.

There in front of him was the fairest scene in all the world.

Gone was the cold damp cell, gone the poisonous atmosphere of the
dungeon, gone were the iron fetters, his strength had returned to him,
and lo!--before him, shining fair in the summer sunlight, rich in the
fulsome melody of singing birds, was a fair English landscape, and
beyond it his own ancestral hall of Staley.

God had heard his prayer. By His own Almighty working he had bridged
time and space, and Sir Ro was safe again at his old English home.

"A miracle, a miracle!" exclaimed the knight. And, like a good
Christian, he fell upon his knees, and gave thanks to God.

When he arose Sir Ro passed along the soft and level sward of green
until he came to the hall door. There he knocked long and loud. The
warder who answered the knocking, failed to recognise the knight.

"Who knocks so long and loudly?" asked the warder, peering curiously
at the palmer. "For a holy man, friend, methinks thou hast a mighty
powerful stroke."

This greeting reminded Sir Ro that he was no longer dressed as a
knight, but in the garb of a palmer, and that he had best put off
knightly ways unless he wished to be discovered, so, in a feigned
voice, he answered:

"I am a humble palmer, hungry and footsore, and I crave a meal and
leave to rest awhile. All of which I pray ye grant for Christ Jesu's
sake."

"Well, well," said the warder, somewhat mollified by the penitent tone
of his visitor, "of a truth thou lookest woe-begone and
travel-stained. Come thou within and eat and drink, and then,
perchance, thou wilt have a tale to tell, which will help the hours to
pass merrily. Hast thou any tidings? Is there any fresh news from the
Holy Land?"

"Little of importance," replied the supposed palmer. "But before I
tell my story, perhaps thou wilt answer me a few inquiries, for I
confess I am mightily curious about this same hall of thine. I had
thought this was the hall of Staley."

"And so it is, Sir Palmer. What belike should make thee doubt it?"

"Well, friend, I have travelled in the Holy Land myself, and thy
master's escutcheon is not unknown to me. He was a stout soldier of
King Richard against the Paynim. And that banner which floats from the
high tower bears not the same devise as that which Sir Ro of Staley
bravely upheld against the Saracens."

"In truth, thou art right there, Sir Palmer. 'Tis not the same banner,
and, though I eat my salt beneath the new devise, I do not mind
confessing that I would sooner see the old one flying overhead. 'Tis a
sad story, friend. Hast thou not heard in thy wanderings that the
brave knight of Staley was slain in the Holy Land?"

"That is news to me," answered the other, starting. "But even so, what
of his lady? Is she not alive?"

The warder looked uneasily about him, as though he had no wish to talk
upon such a subject.

"The women can tell thee more of my lady," said he. "And thou art
still hungry. Eat first, and talk afterwards."

[Illustration: DOORWAY TO STALEY CHAPEL, MOTTRAM CHURCH.]

Saying which he ushered Sir Ro to an apartment, and left him for a
while to the attention of the waiting maids. As the warder, even so
the maids--none recognised their lord, Sir Ro, in the palmer's garb
which he was wearing. In accordance with the old laws of English
hospitality, they brought to him a cup of methyglin, and manchets of
bread to eat. As he supped, Sir Ro fell into conversation with the
maids; he asked after the health of the Lady of Staley, and whether he
might have an audience with her. To which the maids made answer that
the Lady of Staley was sore troubled, and even then was weeping in her
chamber, and would see no man. Then they related to him the
circumstances of their lady's trouble. The knight of Staley, they
said, had gone away to fight in the great crusade. News had come that
he was dead--having been captured and put to death by the enemy--and
now the kinsmen of the lady were forcing her to wed again, although
her heart was still with her dead lord, and she could bear the sight
of no other man.

"That," said the spokeswoman, "is why Staley Hall is so much changed,
and why another banner floats above the turrets."

"But if your lady does not love the newcomer, why then does she submit
to a marriage which must be distasteful? Did not her lord will his
estates to her in case he should fall in the Crusade?"

"That we know not, good sir palmer. But 'tis said that this new knight
has made her understand that he hath a grant of her late husband's
lands from the king, and that he will dispossess both her and her
relations unless she consents to marry him. Folk do think it is more
for the sake of her kinsfolk that she brings her mind to the wedding."

"And when is the wedding to be?"

"To-morrow."

Sir Ro pondered awhile, then turning to the chief serving-maid, asked:

"Would'st do thy lady a service?"

Being answered in the affirmative, he took his empty drinking-cup,
and dropped into it the half of his wife's broken wedding ring, which
he had retained, and bade the maid carry it to her mistress. This the
maid did. On seeing it, the Lady of Staley gave a great cry, and,
saying that the palmer surely brought some news of her dead husband's
last hours, and perchance carried his dying message, she commanded him
to be brought into her presence.

Sir Ro now beheld the face of his loved one, whom he had never thought
to see again. At first the lady failed to recognise in the guise of
the palmer, the husband whom she had never ceased to love, and Sir Ro,
being anxious to learn whether she was still true to him, forebore to
make himself known. The lady, with tears in her eyes, looked at the
half of the wedding ring which the palmer had brought, and placing her
hand in her bosom drew forth the companion half which she wore ever
near her heart. Then, with many sobs, she protested that the image of
her dead lord had never left her, and that she only consented to mate
with another in order that her kinsfolk should not be reduced to
beggary.

[Illustration: EFFIGY OF SIR RO AND HIS LADY, IN STALEY CHAPEL,
MOTTRAM CHURCH.]

Bit by bit the knight drew from her all the story: how her new suitor
had been the one to bring tidings of her lord's death, and how he,
having secured the Staley estates, now offered her the choice of a
union with him or beggary for herself and her people.

Then Sir Ro, unable to restrain himself any longer, uttered her name
in his own voice, and instantly she recognised him, and, with a great
cry, fell into his arms.

Now the joyful cry uttered by the Lady of Staley rang throughout the
hall, and, full of wonder and fear, the retainers rushed to the
chamber, feeling that they had been indiscreet to leave her alone with
an unknown palmer. The treacherous knight, who, by his lying tale,
sought to entrap her into marriage, also appeared upon the scene, and,
in a voice of anger, demanded of the palmer what he wanted, and by
what right he was there.

"By the best right in the world," answered Sir Ro--"the right of
master."

"Insolent," cried the traitor-knight in a fury, drawing his sword as
he spake. "Thou shalt pay dearly for thy folly."

But Sir Ro, with a sharp action, cast from his shoulders the palmer's
disguise, and, standing forth in the full glory of his warlike figure,
snatched a mace from the wall, and advanced to meet his enemy.

"A Staley, a Staley!" he cried, giving forth the rallying cry of his
house in a voice which the retainers knew of old.

Instantly he was recognised, and with shouts of joy the men-at-arms
and servitors sprang to his side, whilst some of them disarmed the
traitor, and without waiting for the order from their lord, hurried
him to the deepest dungeon, there to await justice when the joyful
celebrations anent Sir Ro's return had come to an end.

Needless to say the imposter met with the punishment he deserved; he
was stripped of his knightly rank, and was never afterwards seen or
heard of in Longdendale. The bells of Mottram Church rang out a merry
peal in honour of the homecoming of the Knight of Staley. Sir Ro and
his lady lived a long and happy life together. At their death they
were buried in Mottram Church, where an effigy was placed to their
memory above their grave. This effigy, which represents a knight in
full armour, and his lady lying side by side, may still be seen in the
Staley Chapel of the old Church at Mottram, and it serves to keep
green the story of Sir Ro's adventures.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

In Mottram Church is an ancient monumental effigy, which is said to
represent the figures of Sir Ro or Ralph de Stavelegh of Staley Hall
and his wife--the hero and heroine of the foregoing legend. "Roe
Cross," the name of a well-known spot in Mottram, is also attributed
to the connection of the place with this popular local crusader.



VI.

Robin Hood's Visit to Longdendale.


Robin Hood, the greatest bowman that old England ever knew, frequently
visited Longdendale. Probably the "thick woods of Longden," with their
wealth of wild red deer, induced him to lead his band from the haunts
of merrie Sherwood to the no less merrie land of Longdendale. Old
traditions tell of a "mighty forest in Longdendale, whose trees were
so thick that the squirrels could leap from branch to branch from
Mottram to Woodhead." Such a country might well attract a lover of the
free forest life like bold Robin Hood; moreover, there ran a road over
a good portion of Longdendale, along which the fat old Abbots of
Basingwerke were wont to convey their treasures from their township of
Glossop, to their fine abbey seat in Wales. Doubtless the Abbot
dreaded a meeting with the mighty outlaw, for Robin dearly loved to
pluck a fat-bellied churchman that he might place the golden nobles in
the pouches of the poor.

This story, however, has nothing to do with the robbing of the Abbots
or Monks of Basingwerke. It is a story of skill and fabulous strength.
Indeed, there are many who doubt that the incidents related ever
occurred--simply because such things seem impossible. But then those
incidents are recorded in the traditions of the people of Longdendale,
and, consequently, they are worthy of serious consideration. He must
be either an amazingly bold or an exceedingly ignorant man, who would
cast a doubt on the veracity of a Longdendale tradition.

However, the reader must judge for himself.

The story has it that bold Robin Hood and his forest band (including
the redoubtable Little John, Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet, and Much, the
miller's son, and a hundred other sturdy yeomen, all clad in Lincoln
green, and having great long bows of English yew and good cloth-yard
shafts) appeared one day in the Longdendale country. Weary of hunting
the stag through the woodland glades, they were longing for some
chance of adventure to present itself, when they became aware of a
loud and dismal moaning hard by. The sound came from a handsome youth
who, cast full length upon the sward, was bitterly bemoaning his cruel
fate. It appeared that he was betrothed to a beautiful maiden, but her
guardian (who was a grim old bachelor) had forbidden their union, and
finally, to prevent all intercourse between them, had shut her up in
his castle.

On hearing the story the foresters were loud in their denunciations of
such heartless conduct. They vowed it was the greatest sin that man
could possibly commit--to interfere with lover's meetings. Little John
was for attacking the castle, battering down the gates, and sending an
arrow through the mid-rib of the guardian, which process, he
thought, was calculated to end the matter at once. But Robin, though
anxious enough for a fight, was of opinion that his henchman's plan
might endanger the maiden, who was completely at the mercy of the
tyrant. He suggested an interview, and, accordingly, the stout Friar
Tuck was sent as ambassador or emissary to make terms with the
maiden's guardian.

[Illustration: SCENE NEAR BOTTOM'S HALL; "PART OF THE ANCIENT FOREST
OF LONGDENDALE."]

At first the Friar was met with an angry outburst on the part of the
guardian--a bold bad baron--who loudly declaimed that he would permit
no outside interference with his affairs.

"Out on thee, thou fat-bellied churchman," shouted the Baron. "What
hast thou to do with lovers, particularly maidens. Methinks thy vows
should bid thee leave maids and love severely alone."

Now this sort of talk did not at all suit Friar Tuck, who, churchman
though he might be, and shaven and shorn to boot, yet loved to kiss a
pretty maid on the sly as well as the best layman who ever walked. But
he loved not to be twitted about it in this fashion.

"Fat-bellied churchman, indeed," quoth he. "And what about thine own
fat paunch. As for love and pretty maids, I warrant thou would'st have
a long way to travel fore thou comest across a maiden who would fall
in love with thee. Such a foul-visaged reptile I never set eyes on. As
for beauty--well, as far as thou art concerned--the least said on that
head the better."

The Baron stared at this rejoinder, as well he might. Such language
had never been hurled at him before, and for a moment he could
scarcely speak, so great was his surprise. When he recovered speech,
he ordered his attendants who were in the room to seize the Friar and
cast him into the dungeon. But Tuck lifted the quarter-staff which he
carried, and brought it down so heavily upon their crowns that the men
dropped like poled oxen. At this the Baron began to swear and rave,
vowing all manner of punishments for the Friar,--all of which,
however, only made Tuck fall a-laughing.

"Come," said he, "thou art short of wind enough, friend Baron. And if
thou goest on like that thou art like to choke thyself. Moreover, if
thou only so much as raises a finger to summon thy vassals to thy side
with intent to lay me by the heels, I shall een clout thee on the
sconce as I have served thy catiffs. So thou hadst best listen to
reason."

Now sorely discomfited as he was, a bright idea suddenly struck the
Baron, and turning blandly to the Friar, he readily consented to set
free the maiden, and to permit her marriage with her handsome lover,
providing the foresters (of whose shooting prowess he had heard so
much) could shoot their arrows from the tumulii now called "The Butts"
to the upright Druid stones, now known by the name of "Robin Hood's
Picking Rods." By setting them this (apparently impossible) task, he
thought to rid himself of interference from the band; and he chuckled
merrily to himself, when Tuck (who knew nothing of the distance to be
covered by the archers) coolly accepted the terms.

The time for the shooting display having arrived, the Baron led a gay
company to the scene, that he and all his friends might witness the
discomfiture of the renowned archers of Sherwood. As for the handsome
youth on whose behalf Robin had interfered, he was quite dismayed, and
even the assurance of the outlaw could not comfort him, for he thought
the feat impossible.

The archers stood at the butts, and away in the distance rose the
stone target of "The Picking Rods." Robin Hood took the first shot,
and he laughed inwardly as he drew the string tight and true. For he
knew the secret of the "Long Bow"--(as, indeed, do the chroniclers who
tell this story). The arrow left the bow with a shrill whistle of the
goose-wing tip, and, greatly to the surprise of the Baron, it fell
plump on the target with such force as to cut a notch in the hard
stone,--a notch so deep that it may be seen to this day. Little John,
Will Scarlet, and the rest of the forest band, all tried their skill,
and but few failed to hit the mark, though none were quite so near the
centre as their leader Robin Hood.

When the shooting was finished the Baron was in a great rage, and he
sought for some means of evading the fulfilment of his promise.
Turning to Robin Hood he made an offer--that if the outlaw, with his
own hands, cast down the great stone which stood upon Werneth Low,
then the Baron would not only bestow the maiden upon her lover, but
would give her a good dowry into the bargain. On the other hand, if
Robin failed to accomplish the task, the whole matter must rest where
it was, and the maiden remain a captive.

Greatly to the surprise of all, Robin agreed to the proposal.

"I will humour thee this once," said he to the Baron. "But if thou
attemptest to get behind thy word when the feat is done, my good
foresters shall fall upon thee and knock sparks out of thy baronial
hide."

"If thou doest the feat," quoth the Baron, "rest assured I shall keep
my promise."

For the task he had set bold Robin was, as the Baron well knew, a
thousand times more difficult than that of shooting at the Picking
Rods.

Robin Hood conversed awhile with Friar Tuck, and then the whole
company moved off to the summit of Werneth Low. The stone, or rock, as
it should more properly be called, was a huge mass almost the height
of a man. It had occupied its position on the summit of Werneth since
the world was created. A round half-dozen of the Baron's retainers
failed to lift it. But Robin Hood, casting aside his jerkin, and
baring his brawny arm, raised the great stone slowly aloft, and then,
with one mighty throw, cast it out westward towards the sunset, and,
amid a wild shout of triumph, it disappeared in the distance.

They afterwards found the stone in the bed of the River Tame, near the
woods of Arden, and, under the name of "Robin Hood's Stone" it
remains in that same spot to this day.

[Illustration: "THE ROBIN HOOD STONE."]

Now there are some who profess to believe that no mortal power could
cast that stone so great a distance, and they explain the event by
supposing that Robin was in league with the good fairies, who gave him
strength to lift the stone, and then, (invisible to men) flew away
with it, and dropped it in the Tame. And perhaps these people may be
right.

Be that as it may, there is no record to show that the bold bad Baron
disbelieved in Robin's powers, and we may take it for granted that the
lovely maiden was duly released, that she married the lad of her
choice, and that they lived happy ever afterwards, as they certainly
deserved to do.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is asserted by some that there was a much smaller stone near the
great Robin Hood Stone on Werneth Low, and that Little John afterwards
threw this stone in the direction of the one thrown by Robin. The
second stone, being lighter, travelled a few yards further than the
first, but the throw being not so skilful the stone was broken in
several pieces by the fall. It lies to this day near the Robin Hood
Stone in the waters of the River Tame, and it still retains the name
of that giant forester Little John.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

The "Robin Hood relics," referred to in the foregoing legend, are
objects of great local interest and curiosity. The "Robin Hood's
Picking Rods" are situated on Ludworth Moor, and consist of portions
of two upright stone pillars rising from a massive stone base. They
are thought by many to be relics of the Druidical period, and are
referred to in the "Legend of Coombs Rocks"--the first legend of the
present series. It is said that they received their present name
because Robin Hood and his outlaws used them as a target for their
arrows, and the dents in the pillars are said to have been caused by
the arrow points.

The "Robin Hood Stone" is a huge rock which lies in the bed of the
River Tame near the Denton Cemetery at Hulme's Wood, almost opposite
the Arden Paper Mill.

As stated in the legend, there are fragments of Little John's stone
near it, and old traditions state that both stones were thrown to
their present positions from the top of Werneth Low by the two
foresters whose names they bear. Certain indentations in the larger
stone are said to be the imprints of the fingers of Robin Hood, whose
grip was so strong that he left the impression in the solid stone.



VII.

The Abbot of Basingwerke

Or THE WEHR-WOLF OF LONGDENDALE.


Glossop, which in the Doomsday survey was reckoned as part of
Longdendale, was granted by William the Conqueror to his natural son,
William Peveril--Peveril of the Peak,--whose descendant was
disinherited by Henry II. for procuring the death of the Earl of
Chester by poison, when the township reverted to the Crown. King
Henry, however, being on a military expedition to North Wales, became
acquainted with the monks of Basingwerke, and in return for their
friendship and attention he bestowed the township upon Basingwerke
Abbey.

A road which crosses a portion of Longdendale is known as The Monk's
Road, and is so called because the Monks of Basingwerke are said to
have made and used it. On the wildest part of this road stands a large
stone, hollowed out in the shape of a rude seat, which is said to have
been the seat of the Abbot of Basingwerke, who periodically held
open-air court on that spot. The stone is known as "The Abbot's
Chair."

On a certain day in the reign of good King Henry, the Abbot of
Basingwerke sat in state upon the stone seat of "The Abbot's Chair."
He was holding a court for the receipt of all his rents and tithes,
for the dispensation of justice in that part of his possessions, and
for the purpose of hearing any petitions which the people might wish
to make. To him came an old dame, full of woe and misery, and almost
blind with the falling of bitter tears. Her tale was enough to melt
the stoutest heart. She had an enemy, and the enemy was a woman who
dabbled in witchcraft. Through the agency of evil spirits, this witch
had brought death upon the old dame's husband and on all her children,
so that now she was all alone in the world, and knew not where to look
for shelter or for bread. It was said, also, that the witch possessed
the power of changing her shape, appearing now as a woman, now as a
man, now as an animal or bird, so that it was almost impossible to
catch her and bring her for punishment.

The Abbot of Basingwerke, on hearing the story, was very angry. He
first relieved the distress of the poor woman, and then pronounced an
awful curse upon the wicked witch.

"May the hand of Heaven fall upon this wicked mortal," cried the
Abbot, "and in whatever shape she be at the present moment, may that
shape cling to her until justice has been done."

[Illustration: "THE ABBOT'S CHAIR."]

Then he prophesied that ere long the righteous wrath of heaven would
fall upon the witch, and that a bitter death would assuredly be her
portion. And the old dame went away satisfied.

Now it chanced that that very morning the witch had changed herself
into a wehr-wolf, and was even then prowling about the forest in
search of victims. And by further good luck it happened that good King
Henry II., who was on a visit to the Baron of Ashton-under-Lyne, was
out hunting in company with his son, Prince Henry, the Lord of
Longdendale, the Baron of Ashton, and other noblemen and knights of
the district, The Royal party hunted chiefly in the forests of
Longdendale, which were noted for wild boars, deer, and game of every
description. And inasmuch as it was customary at a Royal hunt for
every portion of the forest to be explored, and all the game therein,
great and small, driven forth before the hunters, there was--providing
there was any efficacy in the Abbot's curse--every prospect of the
wicked old witch being immediately laid by the heels. On former
occasions when she had assumed the form of an animal, it had always
been easy for her, if pursued, to fly into the nearest thicket, and
there resume her human shape, or else to suddenly disappear
altogether. But if the Abbot's curse took effect and compelled her to
remain in the garb of a wehr-wolf, then it was almost certain that
she would meet her doom before the sun set.

The hunt proceeded, and the huntsmen met with good sport, but the
chief success of the day fell to the lot of the Lord of Longdendale,
who slew "several horrible British tigers," and after a tough struggle
succeeded in killing the largest wild boar which was ever seen in
Cheshire.

Prince Henry, who was a valiant youth, was desirous of imitating the
exploits of the Lord of Longdendale, and accordingly he repaired to a
gloomy part of the forest in search of some worthy adventure. Here, to
his great surprise, he was suddenly set upon by a fierce old
wehr-wolf, which, taking him unawares, seemed likely to put him to
death.

[Illustration: BASE OF CROSS ON THE MONKS' ROAD.]

At the first assault the Prince's steed, by swerving as the wehr-wolf
sprang, luckily saved the rider, and Prince Henry was enabled to bring
his hunting spear to bear upon the beast. He drove at it, and although
he succeeded in piercing its side, so that it cried out horribly--more
like a human cry than a beast's, said the Prince, when he afterwards
came to recount the story of the combat--yet it seized the spear
handle in its forepaws, and with a snap of its great jaws broke the
spear clean in two, so that the Royal huntsman was left almost
defenceless. He drew out his long hunting-knife and buried it to the
hilt as the beast sprang at him, but though he fought bravely and
long, the terrible thing succeeded in pulling him from his horse to
the ground. Here the Prince gripped the beast by the throat, but his
strength was much spent, and it seemed almost certain that he must
succumb. Fortunately, however, he had been followed at a distance by
the Baron of Ashton, who arrived upon the spot just in time to turn
the fight, and to engage and finally slay the wehr-wolf.

Great honour was, of course, bestowed upon the Baron of Ashton, and
the carcase of the wolf was taken in triumph to the Castle at
Ashton-under-Lyne. Upon the beast being opened, its stomach was found
to contain the heads of three babes which it had devoured that
morning.

Much talk then ensued as to the unusual fierceness shown by the
wehr-wolf, and the Prince again and again asserted that at times the
cries of the beast were most human in sound. A forester, also, on
hearing of the exploit, came forward and gave some strange testimony.

"May it please your highness," said he, "I was to-day lying in a doze
beneath the greenwood, whither I had crawled to hide, the better to
enable me to watch and ambush certain forest marauders who interfere
with the deer, when I was suddenly startled by a strange noise, and,
on looking through the copse, beheld a wehr-wolf tearing at its own
skin as though it desired to cast it off, even as a man discards his
clothes. And the thing screamed and moaned piteously, and it seemed
to me that a woman's cracked voice, muttering wild incantations,
emerged from the beast's throat. Upon hearing which I was sore afraid,
thinking I was bewitched by the evil one, and I fled."

Divers others had also strange tales to tell of the wehr-wolf's
actions, and that same evening, on the Abbot of Basingwerke coming to
dine with the Royal hunting party at the hall of Ashton-under-Lyne, it
was proved beyond doubt that the wehr-wolf was none other than the
wicked witch.

Thus was the curse of the Abbot speedily fulfilled and justice meted
out. Needless to say that witch was never seen again.



VIII.

The Devil's Elbow.


The traveller through the valley of the Etherow is invariably
impressed with the wild grandeur of the scenery, and in nine cases out
of ten his attention is especially claimed by the bold rock escarpment
known as "The Devil's Elbow," which frowns high over the course of the
stream. The situation of the rock is certainly romantic: the wild
moorlands of bog and heather stretch away on either side, in fact the
rock stands on the verge of some of the wildest mountain scenery of
Great Britain. The very name of the place is suggestive of legend, and
one is not surprised to learn that there are some queer stories
related concerning the neighbourhood; one of these explains how the
rock came to receive its name.

The date of the story is uncertain--that fact, however, should not
trouble the reader. At the time when the events now to be related
actually occurred, there was a castle standing on one of the heights
above the Etherow; it was a strong castle, fit home for a proud old
feudal lord; and its owner, De Morland, was one of the most haughty of
those barons who claimed descent from the great Norman lords who
landed with William the Conqueror. Little is known of him beyond the
fact that he was immensely proud of his long ancestry, that he was
very fierce, that he was rich, and looked with scorn upon most of the
gentry of the neighbourhood. These things certainly do not speak much
for his good sense, for why a man should imagine that the possession
of a few more pieces of gold or silver makes him a better man than his
neighbour, is a mystery. For instance, a thief may by successful
robbery become wealthier than an honest poor man, but surely the mere
possession of greater wealth does not make him better than the poor
man. The principle of this holds good with regard to wealth, no matter
how it may have been secured. So, after all, the Baron de Morland had
no sound base on which to build up his pride.

The baron had a daughter named Geraldine, who was born on May day, and
was as sweet as the month in which she was born. Her teeth were like
pearls, her hair gleamed like gold, her skin was the fairest, and her
figure the most beautiful ever known in Longdendale. Altogether she
was a maid to set the hearts of men aflame with love.

Now it should be stated at the outset that the maiden had been wooed
by more than one noble suitor, but she had an eye to none save a brave
young knight who came from Mottram. His name was Sir Mottram de
Mossland, and he was lord of a castle--something similar in appearance
to that of the Baron de Morland, but not quite so grand--which stood
on a bold ridge near Mottram town. This knight had long been in love
with the lady Geraldine, and on several occasions had managed to get
interviews with his lady-love. We may be sure he lost no time in
making known to her the state of his heart, and in ascertaining the
exact condition of her own. They kissed, and swore fidelity to each
other, and generally behaved like all young lovers do. But bye and bye
the Baron de Morland got to hear of this lover's business, and he
swore a terrible oath concerning it.

[Illustration: "THE LADY GERALDINE."]

"By my halidome," swore he, in the hearing of his daughter; "Who is
this upstart de Mossland? Are his lands to be compared with mine? Is
his name to be linked with that of de Morland? Shall one of his hated
blood mate with my own superior stock. Out upon the thought. I will
slay him sooner. Yea, by my halidome, and all the saints whom I adore,
I swear most solemnly that if I know him to speak another word with my
daughter, it shall be the last word he shall ever speak. For I will
have his blood."

The Lady Geraldine heard this terrible oath, and knowing the character
of her furious parent well, was quite certain that he would carry out
his threat. So, fearing for the safety of her lover, she had a message
conveyed to him, begging him, if he really cared for her, to cease his
stolen visits for a time. The lover, though sorely troubled, obeyed
her requests, and the days passed by in fruitless sighing and longing.

Of course, it goes without saying, that, although he might refrain
from speaking to the maid, a handsome and brave gallant like Sir
Mottram de Mossland would yet be on the alert to secure a glimpse of
his lady-love, and would worship her with his eyes even if his lips
were doomed to be closed. And so it came to pass that, day by day,
often in disguise, he followed her path, and gazed longingly at her
from a distance. Now, one day when she was out riding on her
milk-white palfrey, her steed took fright, and ran away, and would
certainly have leaped down a dreadful precipice--carrying the lady to
death,--if the gallant Sir Mottram had not sprung at its head, and
pulled it, by main force, to a place of safety.

Now, in spite of his lady-love's message, he could no longer refrain
from speaking, and, folding her in his arms, he kissed her, and asked
for some token of love in return. The maid kissed him gladly, and
promised to marry him in spite of her stern and cruel father. Then,
full of joy, Sir Mottram went on his way singing gaily, for his heart
was lifted up by the promise of his lady-love.

Unfortunately, however, the Baron de Morland was riding that way, and
when he beheld the transports of Sir Mottram he immediately guessed
what had been toward, and he at once began to swear again. No oath was
too strong for him to use concerning the family of Sir Mottram de
Mossland. It should be stated in explanation, that years before, the
Baron had been in love with Sir Mottram's mother--then a pretty maiden
in her teens--and had been rejected by her in favour of Sir Mottram's
father. Hence the Baron de Morland could never bear the sight or
mention of a de Mossland, and hence his hatred of a union between Sir
Mottram and his daughter Geraldine.

Full of anger the Baron rode home to his castle, and there at once
sent for his daughter.

"You minx," cried he, "is't true that you have promised yourself to
that foul de Mossland?"

"It is true, my father," said Geraldine, in a low yet clear voice.
"What else could I do since I love him? Moreover, he is not a foul
knight, but is brave and true."

Now the Baron swore again.

"You witch," he cried, "know this, rather than you should wed de
Mossland--yea, by all the saints I swear it!--I will send you to the
devil."

"Oh, my father!" shrieked Geraldine, "have mercy!"

And her shrieks rang through the castle, till the serving maids and
the men-at-arms came running in to see what was the matter.

But the Baron took up his sword, and with the flat of it struck right
and left, and drove them forth. Then, turning once more to her, he
shouted:

"Mark well what I say. If you speak to de Mossland again I will summon
the devil's aid, and you shall be sorely punished."

Then he left the room, and the lady fainted.

Now, the Lady Geraldine was bold enough, as became a daughter born of
a race of fighting men, and, having pledged her word to her lover, she
had no intention of going from it. So, on the day appointed, she
proceeded to a certain spot, where her lover met her, all prepared for
flight. The lovers kissed, and then the knight began:

"Dear Geraldine," said he.--But before he could proceed further, an
awful thing happened. A dark form rose up between them, and, on
looking at it they knew it was the Devil. He was in his own shape,
with horns, hoofs, and tail complete. With a mocking laugh he bent his
elbow, and made as though to seize the maid, but Sir Mottram,
throwing his arms about her, turned and fled, hoping to be able to
cross a running stream before the devil could touch them, and then, by
the laws of sorcery, they would be free from satanic molestation.

The devil, however, gained on them rapidly, and it appeared certain
that he would catch them, when, just as he put out his hand to touch
the maid, a strange light appeared in the sky, and a voice called out
the one word--"Hold."

The Devil staggered as though he had been shot, and when he recovered
the light had vanished, and with it the maiden and her lover.

They were never seen again, but the legends say that they were made
perfectly happy by the fairies, and that they still haunt the banks of
the Etherow at certain seasons of the year in the forms of two white
swans.

As for the devil, he received a shock. At the moment the light
appeared, his right arm had been bent at the elbow for the purpose of
seizing hold of his prey, but lo! when his victims had disappeared, he
found that the powers which had delivered them from him had turned his
right arm into stone. Not a muscle of it could he move, it would not
bend, it was worse than useless, it was an encumbrance.

So Satan, being a philosopher in his way, determined to make the best
of a bad job. He tore the arm out by the roots, and left it there--the
elbow showing prominently over Longdendale. And that is how the great
rock known as the Devil's Elbow came to be perched high up above the
Etherow valley.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

The Devil's Elbow is the name given to a picturesque rock which stands
on the brow of a high and steep hill above the valley of the Etherow.
This rock is one of the landmarks of the Longdendale country.



IX.

The Legend of Charlesworth Chapel.


An old chapel at Charlesworth is said to have owed its foundation to
the circumstances narrated in the following tradition.

Once upon a time--it is impossible to say exactly when, because,
unfortunately, the records as to date have been lost, but it was
certainly in that halcyon period of English history which is generally
spoken of as "the olden time"--a traveller was on his way from the
northern parts of England to London. Here again the chronicles are
slightly obscure, because there is no mention of his name, and
opinions differ as to his occupation. Some state that he was an Irish
merchant, others that he was a priest. But be that as it may, all
agree that he made the journey, that he made it on foot and alone. For
the purposes of this story, therefore, it will suffice to refer to him
as "The Traveller."

He had reached that portion of Derbyshire known as the Peak, and was
journeying over that part of the Peak which includes Coombs Rocks and
the hills above the River Etherow, when he found himself overtaken by
the night-fall. The track he was travelling was but ill-defined; it
led through a desolate region--in fact, one of the wildest regions in
all Britain--and, therefore, was but seldom used. As a consequence it
was no easy task to keep to it in broad daylight, and when the
darkness enveloped the moor, the danger of losing it was very great.
To-day, when almost every acre of the country is cultivated and
drained, the neighbourhood though savage enough is comparatively a
safe one to travel, but in the time of which we speak there were
treacherous bogs on every side in which the unwary might easily be
swallowed up.

Accustomed as he was to the perils and vicissitudes of a wandering
life, the Traveller was, nevertheless, somewhat dismayed to find
himself be-nighted so far from any habitation, and in a country
altogether strange to him.

"Now may the good saints protect me," mused he, "for of a truth I am
like to need their intercession this night. Already the path grows
fainter, the skies seem charged with rain, and the wind moans eerily."

He wrapped his cloak tighter about his limbs, and stepped along at a
brisker pace.

"If only the night would clear," he said, "so that I could see distant
objects, then should I be likely to make my way in safety from this
desolate moor. But the darkness hangs heavy like a pall: it is damp as
though the clouds were settling on the heather, and--ha!"

The last exclamation was wrung from him by the slipping of his foot,
and the fact that he suddenly found himself standing up to the knees
in the sponge-like peat. He turned his face and tried to retrace his
steps, hoping to regain the path, but this was no easy task, and
presently he found that he was wandering hopelessly through the bog,
with every risk of becoming engulfed if he proceeded further. To make
matters worse, at that moment, a thick white choking mist settled down
on the moor, and it seemed to the Traveller that his fate was indeed
sealed. He stretched out his staff in despair, and by great good luck
it struck on firm grit, and in another moment the Traveller had hauled
himself upon solid earth. Once here, prudence told him not to stir,
either to the right hand or the left, lest all the horrors from which
he had just escaped should be again about him. There was nothing for
it but to wait patiently for the return of day, when he might be able
to thread his way through the mazy bogs in safety. But the night was
chill, the mist was like the icy touch of death, and in a little while
the Traveller was shaking in every joint. The keen cold went to the
bone, and it seemed as though he must now perish from exposure.

"Now indeed am I in a sorry plight," quoth he, "and I have need of the
Divine help; else I am lost."

Whereupon, being a good Christian, he fell upon his knees, and prayed
aloud to God for help, vowing that if he was permitted to reach his
home again he would return to those hills, and as a thankoffering
erect thereon a house of prayer dedicated to his patron saint.

Scarcely was the prayer ended when a great wind arose, the mists were
rolled away like a curtain, the hill tops stood out in the clear
night, the stars shone, and the moon-beams fell softly over the
landscape, and a shepherd came along as though a heaven-sent guide to
show him the path from the hills.

"Friend," said the shepherd simply, as he beheld the Traveller, "Hast
thou been long upon the moor? If so, thou shouldst indeed be thankful
to God, for thou hast run a great risk of losing thy life upon this
desolate wilderness of heather."

"Thou sayest truly," replied the Traveller, who then proceeded to
recount his experiences and his vow, and also asked the name of the
place where they stood. Then he marked the spot, which lay upon the
bleak hill-side above the present village of Charlesworth.

"I will surely come here again," said he, "if my life is spared, and
fulfil my vow."

On concluding his journey, and having discharged his business, he
immediately returned to the Peak, and on the spot of his delivery he
built a small chapel or oratory of bog oak, which was specially
brought over from Ireland. This building, says tradition, was erected
upon the site now occupied by the present Charlesworth Chapel.

Why Irish bog oak should have been the material used in building, the
present writer has not been able to discover, nor does the tradition
in this particular altogether agree with the following account of what
is therein stated to have been the original fabric.

"It was a small octagon chapel," says the historian, "the roof of
which was carved; the arched rafters resting on massive buttresses,
the walls rough blocks of stone, the floor earth covered with rushes,
the seats and altar simple and unpretentious."

Possibly the building mentioned in this account was a successor of an
even earlier structure, and to judge from other sacred buildings in
the neighbourhood, it is by no means unlikely that the earliest chapel
of all was one mainly composed of timber. But after all, what does it
really matter whether the chapel was built of wood or stone, so long
as the Traveller fulfilled his vow, and so long as the chapel served
the purpose for which it was erected?



X.

Sir Edmund Shaa.


In the reign of King Henry VI. there dwelt in Longdendale a youth who
bore the name of Edmund Shaa. It is claimed by some that he was a
native of Longdendale, but other authorities assert that he was born
in the parish of Stockport. Certain it is that he was connected with
the parish of Stockport, and also with that of Mottram--a connection
which he maintained up to the close of his life. Moreover, the Shaas
were among the earliest of the inhabitants of Mottram of whom we have
reliable record, and the name Shaa, in its modernised form of Shaw, is
still found in the town, and other portions of the parish.

At the period of our story, the Shaas were recognised as a family of
great respectability, though not of much wealth. They probably
belonged to the yeoman class, and for generations had been accustomed
to live on the soil, passing their lives in the open air, varying the
hours of toil with the healthy recreations then common--shooting with
the bow, sword-play, or indulging in the chase. Healthy, manly lives
they led, fearing God, obeying the laws, and paying their way honestly
enough, with a margin left over to provide against a rainy day--but by
no means able to amass any great store of wealth. Besides Edmund Shaa,
his father, John Shaa, had other sons, of whom, however, little is
known.

The boyhood of Edmund Shaa passed like that of other Longdendale
children, exhibiting no signs of extraordinary promise, unless the
bright alertness and the ambitious imaginings of the lad might be
accounted as such. But as he grew older, there came over the boy an
unconquerable aversion to the unchanging life of the country. Not that
the life itself was disagreeable, but the labour seemed all in vain,
never leading to anything better than the humble respectability which
was the highest mark of yeoman rank. Young Edmund Shaa had seen the
trains of noble knights pass by; he had witnessed the huntings in the
forests of Longdendale, when lords and ladies gay rode in grand
attire, on richly-caparisoned steeds, and received every mark of
respect from the country people who assembled to witness the sport.
And to his young brain, it seemed that the best of them all was but a
mortal of flesh and blood and intelligence, like any yeoman's son and
daughter, or even as the hinds. Was not he, Edmund Shaa, as well made,
as shapely, as strong, as keen of intellect as any of the rich
gallants who flaunted themselves in silken attire before his eyes; and
that being so, why should not he, putting his abilities to use, come
to attain a position of power and affluence equal to theirs?

The young lad thought the matter out many a time, and to him there
seemed but one reason--the lack of opportunity. In Longdendale he had
no chance of distinguishing himself. There was no wealth to be won in
Longdendale,--nay, even the very abilities which he knew himself to
possess were not recognised by his fellows--for is it not a worldwide
truism that "a prophet is not without honour save in his own country?"

Then the lad decided in his own mind that he must leave his Cheshire
home, and seek occupation elsewhere, if he was to become anything
better than a yeoman. He accordingly sought counsel of his elders--his
relatives and friends--and made known his ambitions to them. But the
elders only laughed at him, and discouraged his scheming.

"Banish all such dreams from thy foolish pate," said one. "Thou art a
good lad, and a clever one to boot, but the life thy fathers led is
good enough for thee. Lords and ladies are above thy station; thou
wilt have to work for thy living, and, as for holding thy head high,
and bothering thy brains with affairs of State--why, lad, thou art a
fool to think about it."

Such discouragement was kindly meant, but other folk, to whom the lad
told his hopes and longings, were less sympathetic. Some openly jeered
at him, called him a dreamer, denounced him as a conceited fop,
upbraided him with the fault of considering himself superior to other
people, and finally snubbed him and treated him as a snob.

Young Shaa bore all this quietly enough in the presence of his
tormentors; but the bitterness of it was keenly felt by him, and when
alone, he gave way to grief. Often he would seek the quiet of some
secluded spot in the woodland glades of Longdendale, and sob as though
his heart would break, for it seemed that the obstacles in his path
were too great for him to overcome.

One day when he thus lay lamenting in solitude over his fate, a great
weariness stole over him, the hot summer's day overpowered him, and
presently he fell into a doze. Then it was that the good fairies stole
from their tiny palaces under the leaves in the forest, where no
mortal may ever find them even if he looks, and, taking pity upon the
handsome youth who lay sleeping near, decided to help him to achieve
that goal of greatness upon which his soul was set. The little sprites
gathered around him, and whispered in his ears a wondrous tale of the
wealth and honour awaiting in London town all those bold English lads
who dared seek fortune there. They drew phantom pictures of a young
man's struggle in London, of his success by honest industry and skill,
of civic functions in which the young man bore a part, of a grand
procession, where the youth,--now grown to manhood's prime,--was
become Lord Mayor; and to Edmund Shaa, who saw the pictures in his
sleep, it seemed as though the face of that phantom Lord Mayor was his
own face.

Then the fairies sang a song, and the words of the dream song were
these:--

    "If thou would'st win great renown,
    Make thy way to London town;
    Fortune waits to greet thee there
    Even London's civic chair;
    Lord Mayor of London thou shalt be
    --The wielder of authority.
    And when thou rulest London town
    The King shall beg of thee his crown."

Shaa awoke with a start, sat up, and rubbed his eyes, telling himself
that he had been dreaming--a wondrous pleasant dream,--but to his
charmed ears there still came the sweet strains of the music, and the
words of the fairy song:--

    "If thou would'st win great renown,
    Make thy way to London town.
      London town, London town."

The lad listened awhile, then sprang to his feet with a joyful cry,
and a determined look in his eyes.

"To London town," quoth he. "To London town! Thither I will go, and
nought shall stop me now."

Then with a merry whistle, he made off homewards, and before the sun
set, had completed his preparations for the long journey to the south.

The rest of Shaa's story reads like some romance, and yet it is true.
Once settled in London, he appears to have been successful even beyond
his wildest dreams. He became a member of the goldsmith's company, and
rising rapidly in wealth and civic position, was ultimately appointed
jeweller to King Edward IV.--and this position he continued to hold
under four successive monarchs. In the year 1482 he received the
dignity of Lord Mayor of London, and henceforth he became one of the
most striking and interesting figures in that most dramatic period of
English history. He received the honour of knighthood, and his
influence was sufficiently powerful to render him one of the most
prominent factors in securing the crown of England for King Richard
III.

When Edward IV. died in 1483, it fell to the lot of Shaa, as Lord
Mayor of London, to attend and take part in the funeral ceremonies,
and to receive in great state the infant King Edward V., on his
subsequent entry to the city. This occurred on May 4th, 1483, and is
thus described in the old chronicle:--"When the Kynge approached nere
the citie, Edmund Shaa, goldsmith, then Mayre, with William Whyte and
John Matthewe, Sheriffs, and all the other Aldermene, in scarlette,
with five hundred horse of the citizens in violette, received him
reverentleye at Harnesey, and rydyng from thence accompanyed him into
the city."

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, anxious to seize upon the crown, saw that
the only way to accomplish his design was to secure the sympathies and
support of the city of London. Being at that time Protector, he made
Lord Mayor Shaa a member of the Privy Council, and, after that, he
seems to have had no difficulty in inducing him to enlist his sympathy
and influence on the side of the plotters, and to secure the services
of his brother,--Dr. Shaa--an Austin Friar, and a noted preacher of
his day. The initial steps taken, the Shaas played conspicuous and
important parts in the critical events which followed. Dr. Shaa
preached at St. Paul's Cross against the legitimacy of Edward's
children, and in advocacy of the claims of Richard; and Lord Mayor
Shaa headed a deputation to Gloucester with an offer of the crown, and
after the proclamation he attended as cup-bearer of the King. The
citizens of London, however, began to suspect that the sons of their
late King (Edward VI.) had been murdered, and showed signs of
rebellion, upon which, Richard sent for over 5,000 soldiers to form
his bodyguard, and not daring to levy money for the purpose of
rewarding them, he disposed of some of the Crown property to Sir
Edmund Shaa, who found means to supply the sum required. After the
death of Richard at Bosworth Field, Shaa lived more the life of a
private citizen, though he still continued to hold office as a
magistrate and as the Royal Jeweller, and enjoyed the friendship and
confidence of King Henry VII., until his death. During the latter
portion of his career he had been associated with the most influential
men of his time, honours had fallen thickly upon him, and his
relations had become connected with families whose representatives are
still to be found in the British Peerage, and among the older landed
gentry.

It is pleasing to know that although Sir Edmund Shaa figured so
prominently in great historic events of his day, he did not forget the
northern county that gave him birth. He founded the old Grammar School
at Stockport, and left a considerable sum of money with which to endow
it. He gave a sum of money towards the cost of the building of the
tower of Mottram Church. He also built a chapel in the Longdendale
valley, at Woodhead, to which he thus refers in his will.

"I woll have two honest preestes, one of them to syng his mass and say
his other divine service in a chapel that I have made in Longdendale,
in the Countie of Chester; and to pray especially for my soule, and
for the soules of my father and mother, and all Christian people; and
I woll that he have for his salarie yerely for evermore, the sume of
£4 6s. 8d.; and I woll that the other honest preeste be a discrete
man, and coning in gramer."

The will of Sir Edmund Shaa is a curious yet beautiful specimen of the
old English testamentary document. It begins thus--"In the name of God
be it, Amen. The xxth day of the monthe of Marche, the yeare of our
Lord after tha' compt of the Church of England mcccclxxxvijth, and
iijth yeare of the reigne of Kinge Henry the vijth, I, Edmund Shaa,
Knight Cytezen and Goldsmith and Alderman and Late Mayor of the Citie
of London etc.... First I bequeathe and reccomend my soule to my Lord
Jesus Christe, my Maker and my Redeemer; to the most glorious Virgin
his mother, our Lady Saint Marye; to the full glorious Confessor,
Saint Dunstan, and to the Holy Company of Heaven, and my body to be
buryed in the Church of St Thomas of Acres in London, between the
Pyler of the same Churche, whereupon the image of Sainte Mychel, the
Archangel, standeth before the Auter, there called Saint Thomas Auter,
and the nether ende of the same that is to wit as nigh the same as my
body may reasonably be layed.... And in consideration that I have
bourne the office of Mayoralte of the said City, I will for the honour
of the same City, that my body be brought from my house to the Parish
Church of St. Petery's, in Chepe, where I am a Parysshen as the Manor
is, and from there to my burying at St. Thomas's, of Acres aforesaid,
in descrete and honest wise without pomp of the world, and I will have
xxiiij (24) honest torches to be bourne by xxiiij paide persons to
convey my body from my house to my said Parisshe Churche as the maner
is and so to my burying aforesaid, and I will have the same xxiiij
torches and my honest tapers to be holden in like wise by iiij poor
persons to brenne at my exequies to be doon for my soul as well at my
burying aforesaid as at my Moneth's Mynde to be done for me. And I
will that eache of the torch bearers and taper holders have for their
suche labours to pray for my soule after all my said Exequyes full
doon xxd."

The will then goes on to say--translated into modern English--"And, as
the usage of the City of London, at the burial of one who hath borne
the office of mayoralty is, for the mayor and aldermen, and other
worshipful and honest commoners, to be present in their proper
persons;--to the extent that they may understand that I was a true
loving brother of theirs, and am in perfect charity with them, and
each of them--if it would like the mayor and aldermen and recorder of
the City of London, to be present at my Dirge and Mass of Requiem to
be done for me; I would tenderly desire them, after the said Mass, to
take such a repast as my executors by the sufferance of our Lord God,
shall provide for them; and I will that each of them after his repast,
have of my gift, from the hands of my executors, to remember my soul
among their devout meditations, inasmuch as I am a brother of theirs,
6s. 8d." Among local bequests, the will contained the following--"I
will that my executors, as soon as they may goodly after my decease,
do buy so much Welsh frieze, half white, half black or gray, and
thereof do make at my cost, 200 party gowns; and the 200 party gowns
with 12d. in money along with every gown, I will be given to 200 poor
persons dwelling in the parish of Stopford, in the County of Chester,
whereat 'my fader and moder lyen buryed,' and within the parishes of
Cheadle and Mottram in Longdendale in the said County, and in the
parishes of Manchester, Ashton, Oldham, and Saddleworth, in the County
of Lancaster, by the counsel and advice of the curates of the said
parishes, ... such curates taking counsel with the saddest men dwelling
in their parishes, to the intent that those poor persons should have
them that have most need unto them." He also wills that his executors
make at his cost "sixteen rings of fine gold, to be graven with the
Well of Pity, the Well of Mercy, and the Well of Everlasting Life;
with all other images and other things concerning the same--the rings
to be distributed to certain persons named in the will." He also again
refers to "the saide Church of Stopford" (Stockport) and the grave
therein where the bodies of his father and mother "lyen buried."

Sir Edmund Shaa died on April 20th, 1487, just a month after making
his will, and was buried according to his direction in "the Church of
St. Thomas of Acres in London." He left behind him a widow--Dame
Juliana, one son, Hugh, and two daughters, Katherine and Margaret.
Hugh Shaa did not long survive his father, and died without male
issue. It only remains to be added in conclusion that Shakespeare has
immortalized Sir Edmund Shaa.



XI.

Lord Lovel's Fate.


The Lovel family came into possession of the township of Mottram at an
early period. In the time of Edward III. Sir John Lovel held the
lordship of Longdendale from the King (as Earl of Chester) by military
service. Sir John was a warrior of great bravery and fame. He served
through the French wars, and in 1368 is mentioned as a leader under
the Duke of Clarence. Most of the Lovels figure in history, and
Francis, Lord Viscount Lovel, was a great favourite with Richard III.
He was the King's chief Butler and Chamberlain of the Household.
Moreover, he exercised a great influence in shaping the course of
English affairs of his day. He was the Lovel of the ancient couplet:--

    The cat, the rat, and Lovel the dog,
    Rule all England under a hog.

The cat was Catesby, the rat Ratcliffe or Radcliffe, of Ordsall Hall,
Salford, and the hog represented the crookbacked King.

Francis Lovel was looked upon by his tenants in Mottram as a being of
almost equal importance to the King. His word was law, his favour was
courted, his anger feared. There are many curious stories told
concerning his connection with Mottram and its neighbourhood. It is
said that he owned a hall in Mottram which was connected by a
subterranean passage with the Parish Church. He is also the hero of
many adventures, most of which may be set down as pure stories of
imagination. Perhaps the following legend is of this class.

Now it should be stated that at the period of which we speak there
were witches in Longdendale. The age was one of gross superstition,
and it was universally believed that certain mortals, notably old
women, were in league with the evil one, and that Satan had bestowed
upon them powers of evil whereby they were enabled to work harm upon
the persons of any to whom they took a dislike. What particular powers
these wretched women possessed will probably never be known; it is
quite possible that some of them were students of magic, for in those
ages some of the most learned men professed to dabble in mystic arts;
but the probability is that by far the greater part of their dreaded
powers existed only in the superstitious imaginings of the day. But to
the people of that time the witches and their witchcraft were real
enough and terrible to boot; so much so that if a man fell ill, or if
some piece of bad luck befell him, to all the suffering caused thereby
was added the mental torture consequent upon the belief that all the
trouble had been caused by the evil schemes of some demon-possessed
witch-woman. This belief was widespread, even among the better
educated classes, to such an extent, that if a person lay ill of
consumption, it was supposed that his waxen image was at that moment
slowly melting before some witch-woman's fire, and that every fresh
pang of pain was caused by the witch thrusting her sharp bodkin into
the image. In Longdendale it was asserted that at night the witches
sailed across the bleak moors seated on broomsticks. Often would the
peasants rush in terror to the shelter of their cots as they heard a
strange rustling overhead, and, on looking up, beheld the wizened
forms of old hags riding on broomsticks through the air with a speed
which no horse could equal.

There are certain stories told which ascribe to Lord Lovel the habit
of consulting and using the services of these unholy mortals, but
implicit faith cannot be placed upon these stories, because other
tales describe him as absolutely fearless and devoid of
superstition--a man, in fact, who placed no faith in their supposed
powers.

On one occasion Lovel was in Longdendale. History does not tell us the
cause of his visit, but he had left his hall at Mottram, and was
walking in the woodland, when suddenly he found himself confronted by
a woman of evil shape. She was an old hag, of bent form and wrinkled
face, and she leaned heavily upon a crutch. For all that when she
walked she was nimble enough, and could get about with speed. When she
spoke it was in a cracked voice, like the croaking of a raven, so that
her very tones caused the flesh to creep, and a shudder to pass
through the frame of the listener. The nobleman would have passed on
with a brief salutation, but the hag planted herself firmly in his
path, and sawing the air with her fore-finger commenced to speak.

"Thou art a proud man, Lord Lovel, and like all thy class thou
regardest the poor as dirt beneath thy feet. But I tell thee that the
hour is at hand when thou shalt be lower than they. They that live by
the sword shall e'en perish by the sword, and they who scheme to
entrap others shall be caught in their own net. The curse of doom is
already on thee, and this night I can prophesy the end. Thy downfall
shall be speedy, and thy death paltry. Nothing heroic shall there be
about either. And the end shall be total. Neither child nor kindred
of thine shall rule after thee in Longdendale."

Lovel heard, and, despite his courage, he could not help trembling at
the terrible aspect of the witch.

"Out upon thee, thou whelp of Satan," he said at length, "or I will
have thee in the ducking stool."

But with a shriek of horrible laughter the witch vanished.

Now this was the end of Lord Lovel, and the reader may decide for
himself whether or not the witch's prophesy was fulfilled. It is quite
certain that from that date his fortunes began to wane. He fought in
the Battle of Bosworth Field on the side of the defeated King Richard
III., and after the battle he took refuge for a time in Longdendale
and Lancashire, but finally was forced to fly to Flanders. He returned
to England with the Earl of Lincoln as a supporter of the Pretender,
Lambert Simnel, and was a prominent figure at the "court" held for a
brief space by that would-be King at the Pile or Peel of Fouldrey--now
a picturesque ruin on Fouldrey Island off the coast of Lancashire. On
behalf of Simnel he fought in the Battle of Stoke, and the last seen
of him was after the defeat of the rebel army, when he was observed to
join in the flight, and to swim his horse across a river, and to
scramble safely up the further bank. Some say he was slain in this
battle, but the popular version of his death ascribes to him a far
different ending. According to this version some days after the
combat, the disguised figure of a man might have been seen wending his
way stealthily to a house at Minster Lovel, near Oxford. The fugitive
was none other than Lord Lovel himself.

With his enemies on his track, and afraid to trust even his friends,
he made his way alone to his own house and entered it under cover of
the darkness. Then, not daring to trust even his oldest servants, lest
they might be tempted to betray him, he quietly stole to a secret
underground chamber, and there immured himself, thinking to lie hidden
within until he could find some means of escape from the country. What
actually happened no man will ever know, but it is easy to surmise. It
would appear that Lovel, from some cause or other, was unable to open
the door by which he had entered his hiding-place, and having told no
one of his intention to make use of the chamber--or else through
treachery--he was perforce left to his fate, and died of starvation.
In all probability when he found out his predicament he attempted to
set some record of it down on paper, but, if so, his story was
destined never to be read. He disappeared from the sight of his own
generation, and the world had well-nigh forgotten him. But in the
Eighteenth Century--several hundred years after his death--a party of
workmen broke into the remains of an underground chamber at Minster
Lovel, and to their great surprise came across a skeleton. It was
thought that this skeleton was the frame of the once powerful
noble--Lord Lovel.

It is said that when the workmen broke into the vault, the skeleton
was found sitting at a table, the hand resting on a bundle of papers,
but that with the admission of air it soon crumbled into dust.

After the Battle of Stoke, Lovel's lands were confiscated, and in 1409
were granted to Sir Wm. Stanley, who had turned the fortunes of the
day at Bosworth Field. With this change of ownership Longdendale
passed out of the hands of the Lovels for ever.



XII.

The Raiders from the Border-Side.


There was once a time when it was considered the height of fashionable
conduct for the Scotch who lived upon the border, to dash into the
Northern Counties of England, put the men they met with to the sword,
burn their homesteads and stores, and carry off the women and cattle.
It is quite true that the English, on their part, considered it fit
and proper to cross the Scottish border, to raid the lands, and carry
off women and cattle from the lower shires of "Bonnie Scotland;" and
so on the score of fairness neither side had any cause for complaint.
But then, both parties never thought of that; the nature of their own
conduct was never questioned, it was always the other side that was in
the wrong. Their opponents were "thieves and marauders," their own
forays were characterized by the high sounding title of "military
expeditions." For such is the way of the world.

There is no record to say whether the men of Longdendale ever rode
north to join in expeditions across the Scottish border; but it is
chronicled that "bold moss-troopers from the border-side" occasionally
raided as far south as the rich country of the Longdendale valley.
These Scotchmen usually came in strong and well-armed bands,
consisting of picked fighting-men, and, oftener than not, led by some
distinguished lord or knight who wished to reap fresh honour by
reddening his blade in English blood. Sometimes the lord or knight
looked upon it as a fair (and certainly the easiest and cheapest) way
of securing a wife, or mayhap a mistress, together with a good fat
dowry in the shape of plunder. None can blame him for holding such
views, for it all came in the manner of living in the olden time.

But it did not always happen that the raiders were successful.
Sometimes the "raided" were on the look out, and the surprise party
themselves met with a surprise.

It was a bright morning in the summer, and the valley of Longdendale
had never looked more beautiful than it did that morning when Jock,
the steward's son, kissed his sweetheart at the end of the lane ere he
entered the woods to join his father's men, who had some work to do in
the forest. A fine lad was Jock, merry and free as becomes one whose
life is mostly spent in the greenwood: his limbs were finely made, he
was straight and strong, and there were none in all the country-side
who could run, fence, or box like he, or who could shoot straighter or
further with the bow. A right proper lad, such as an English maiden
loves. His father was steward to the Lord of Mottram, and to that
position young Jock looked one day to succeed. In the meantime he
discharged such tasks as were set him with diligence, and drank his
fill of happiness with that bonny yeoman's daughter, Bess Andrew. Bess
knew his habits and his times of departure and homecoming right well,
and thus the two found many a chance to bill and coo throughout the
day.

It was with a light heart that Jock sped through the lanes when he had
taken leave of Bess; and with a heart as buoyant, sweet Bess returned
to the homestead when the parting was over. The maid sang a snatch of
a country song as she entered the farmyard and set about her tasks,
wondering whether her mother had missed her during the few moments she
had been absent in the lane.

[Illustration: BESS ANDREW.]

But Goody Andrew, the farmer's wife, was busy in the kitchen, and the
farmer himself was away in the fields. His lands were broad, and on
this merry morn he was busy at a distance. So Bess had the farmyard to
herself save for the presence of the children, her brothers and
sisters, all younger than herself.

Bess busied herself with the milking-cans for some time, dreaming, as
sweet maids will, of love and hope and the life that is to be.
Suddenly she started, then bent her head to listen. On the wind came
the sound of horses' tread, and the jingling of harness; the sound
increased in volume, and it came from the lane which led to the farm.
Bess left her work, and moved to the gate. Then she screamed and
turned to fly to the steading. For, all gay and boldly, armed to the
teeth, came galloping into the farmyard a band of fierce
moss-troopers, having at their head a tall big-limbed laird, from the
Lowlands over the border.

"The raiders," screamed Bess, as she hurried towards the house. "God
'a mercy on us."

But she never reached the door, for the leader of the band rode to her
side, and with a laugh leaned down, seized her in a strong grip, and
swung her to the saddle before him.

"The raiders," echoed he; "and of a truth we have won a prize worth
raiding. Come, kiss me, my beauty. Thou shalt be my share of the
plunder."

He forced his face to hers, but the maid fought fiercely, and struck
him in the face, whereat the trooper laughed again.

"What a spitfire of a wench" said he. "But we will tame thee ere thou
art much older. Bring hither a rope my men, and tie her up. Also gag
her until she has found her senses, and knows where and how to use her
tongue. Now get to work and lose no time, for I have no wish to bring
a hornet's nest about my ears. Ho! who comes here. Settle them off in
the good old fashion."

The last words were uttered as a couple of farm-hands came from an
out-building to see what was astir. The poor knaves were instantly
seized before they had chance to cry aloud, and in another moment were
hanging by the neck from a neighbouring bough. That preliminary
accomplished, the troopers proceeded to plunder the farm of all its
valuables, and to get together the cattle that lay about. Poor Goody
Andrew begged hard for mercy, but her plea only met with a coarse
laugh from the robbers.

"Thou art a well-favoured vixen," quoth the chief. "And had'st thou
only been a score years younger, then I had not left thee to the
embraces of the southerners. But thy daughter is fair enough, and I
doubt not she will like her Scottish lover when her good humour
returns. Now, my lads, set the stead ablaze, and then to horse."

The men obeyed to the letter, and in a little while the farm was
blazing fiercely, the troopers, loaded with plunder, were galloping
towards the hills, on the saddle of the chief was the lovely form of
the maiden Bess, bound and gagged; and in the farmyard sat the good
dame with her younger children, wringing her arms, and weeping
bitterly.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the distant meadows, Yeoman Andrew paused at his work to wipe the
sweat from his brow, and then looked up. In the direction of his home
a column of smoke arose, which had not been there when last he looked.

"Hallo!" quoth he, "there is surely something amiss. What ho! ye
knaves, leave your work awhile, and hurry with me to the farm, for I
fear the worst."

Then, in company with his men, he ran to the steading, to find his
weeping wife, and the ruin of what had been his home.

The farmer was a practical man, so he just swore a good round English
oath, and then he got to business.

"Ho, there! Will Leatherbarrow, do thou slip for my good grey mare
down to John the smith's, get aback, and ride for thy life on their
trail. Send word by any messengers thou canst catch from time to time,
how they fare. And thou, Hob, cross the fields, and set the great bell
at Mottram Church a-ringing, and the rest of you scatter and bring out
the archers and the men who can fight. Cease thy chatter, good dame,
and see if thou canst scrape me a good meal together '))fore I set about
paying my debt to the Scottish laird."

In a little while the great bell at Mottram Church was clanging out
its wild alarm, and from the woods and fields about, and the distant
farms, the stout yeomen were hurrying into the town, bringing with
them their bows and bills, their swords and axes, and their horses all
ready for the chase. For they had ridden on the track of the raiders
before.

As the men mustered round the cross near the church, a horseman
galloped into the throng, the flanks of his steed white with foam. It
was the first messenger from Will Leatherbarrow, who hung like a
sleuthhound on the trail.

"They have e'en ta'en the Kings' high road," he shouted, "and they
ride for the hills."

"They will turn off at the bend before they reach Glossop town," said
Jock, the steward's son, who now sat his horse at the farmer's side.
"I know a short cut, and we may head them off. Do you, Farmer Andrew,
ride on the trail, and I will lead a band to get before them. Then not
a man of them shall escape."

"To horse!" cried the yeoman, curtly assenting. And in another moment
the spurs were driven deep, and the men of Longdendale were hard on
the track of the foe.

Grim men were they when the scent of war was in the air. Men who had
learned the use of the bow from their cradle. For did not the men of
Longdendale help to scatter the French at Cressy and Agincourt, and
did they not in later days join in the annihilation of the Scotch at
the fight of Flodden Field? On they rode, and as they went, their
number was swollen by fresh recruits, and so they galloped till near
the sundown.

"The pace tells on the beasts," said one man at length.

"It will tell more on the Scotch," said another, "since they are
hampered with plunder."

And the cavalcade still galloped along.

The road wound up the hills, and at the top there was a level stretch
of several miles. As the band of pursuers reached the top of the rise,
they beheld a cloud of dust at some distance ahead, and a shout of
triumph burst from their lips.

"They are yonder!" said one. "Ride faster, my men. We shall catch them
at the gorge."

"They will never get beyond the gorge," said Farmer Andrew quietly.
"Jock will ambush them there. The thieves are fairly caught."

Then silence reigned again, save for the sound of the galloping horses
and the rush of the wind about the horsemen.

The pursuers clearly gained upon the foe, but the latter reached the
next dip of the road well ahead, and disappeared from sight. A few
minutes later, when the Longdendale band reached the top of the
descent, a glad sight met their eyes. Across the narrow path, just
where the road bent, Jock had drawn up his men, and already the
archers were at work. Already several of the Scotch lay dead upon the
road, and the rest were in confusion. Ere they could rally, with a
wild shout the pursuing yeomen burst on them at the charge, and then
there was a fray well worth the telling. It only lasted a few minutes,
and Jock backed out of it the moment he found the sweet maid Bess
safely in his arms. But the rest of the Longdendale lads laid lustily
about them until the work was done. A palatable work it was to them--a
clashing of blades, a crashing of axes, and then the great Scottish
raid was over. Yeoman Andrew was avenged, and he had more in plunder
from the Scots than made up the total of the damages he had sustained.

It is said that many a "guid wife" in bonnie Scotland looked
southwards with eager eyes for the homecoming of her "man" from the
foray in Longdendale, but always looked in vain. For the ravens had a
rich feast spread on the hills above the Derbyshire and Cheshire
border, and those Longdendale moors were dotted white with the
bleaching bones of Scottish men.



XIII.

The Legend of Gallow's Clough.


Near Mottram, on the verge of the moors, overlooking what is now the
high road to Stalybridge, is a spot known as Gallow's Clough, which,
as its name implies, was in feudal times the scene of the Gibbeting of
malefactors. Here in the good old days, was reared the gallows,
whereon the criminal was first "hanged by the neck until he was dead,"
and from which his body was afterwards suspended in chains, until the
weather and the birds between them had picked the flesh away, and
nothing remained but a few bones--a grim reminder of the power of the
law, and the folly and risk of departing from the paths of virtue.

In the days when gibbetting was fashionable, it behoved almost every
petty township to possess its own gallows, for there was far too great
a demand for the services of rope and hangman to permit of only a few
recognised places of execution, and one common hangman, as is the
custom at the present time. Not that people were very much worse than
they are now, but the extreme punishment of the law was meted out for
what are now considered the minor crimes of sheep and cattle stealing,
poaching, highway robbery, house-breaking with violence, and such like
offences. The sight of a dead man dangling between earth and sky was
of too common a nature to cause surprise, even so late as the early
decades of the nineteenth century.

Wild and lonesome as the Gallow's Clough is at the present day, it was
a much bleaker and more awesome place in the days when the gibbet was
standing there. Then it was considered as a place accursed, and was
said to be haunted by the ghosts of all the dead men who had been
strangled there. Even in the daylight folk gave the spot a wide berth,
and at night when the winds moaned down the gullies from the hills,
and swayed the dead men to and fro, and caused the chains to clank and
rattle, then, indeed, the traveller kept as far off as his route would
permit, and hurried past with beating heart, and face blanched with
fear.

Nor was that all the terror. Witches were said to infest the place at
certain seasons, and in the darkness to hold converse with the ghosts
of the malefactors, from whom they learned how to transact deeds of
darkness successfully. Men forced to pass that way at these seasons
had seen from a distance the crouching forms of the old hags, and had
even heard their crooning voices, and the fiendish laughter with which
they accompanied their terrible midnight revels. Many a timid dame
added a petition to her prayers--that Providence would accord her and
all belonging to her, special protection from the witches who danced
and plotted and sang the hell-song round the gibbet at Gallow's
Clough.

On a certain day in the olden time, a throng of people might have been
seen wending their way through Mottram to the place of execution at
Gallow's Clough. It was a gloomy procession,--calculated to depress
the beholder for the remainder of the day, and probably for many days
to come. First marched a company of well-armed men--part of the
retinue of the feudal lord--and in their midst was one bound, and
wearing a halter dangling from his neck. Behind came a motley company
of the country-folk--some weeping, some grimly silent, and some few
laughing and jesting. Most of those who thus followed in the heels of
the armed men were women, and in the front rank of these was a
handsome peasant girl, who wrung her hands and cried aloud as though
distracted.

The prisoner--condemned man though he was, with only a few hundred
yards between himself and death--walked with a firm tread, and head
held proudly erect. Now and then he turned his head to look at the
weeping, wailing girl, and at such times his eyes grew moist: when the
guards somewhat roughly thrust the girl back, his lips compressed, and
his chest heaved, and his arms tugged at the thongs which bound him,
in a manner which indicated that it would have fared ill with the
guards had the young man been free. But beyond those silent
manifestations of feeling, the prisoner marched to his death as calmly
and fearlessly as though the journey had been an ordinary country
walk.

Presently the procession reached the gibbet at Gallow's Clough, and
here it halted. The guard cleared a space about the gibbet, and by
means of their axes and bills kept back the crowd. The prisoner and
the executioners took their place beneath the gallows, and near them
stood a well-dressed man--the representative of the feudal lord.

Without loss of time, and with but little ceremony, the executioners
went about their business, heedless of the cries of the women, and the
piteous appeals for mercy from the handsome peasant girl.

Soon the preparations were complete; the well-dressed,
officious-looking personage drew forth a document, and proceeded to
read aloud the details of the crime for which the poor wretch had to
suffer death--shooting at and killing deer in his lordship's forest of
Longdendale--a crime of so serious a nature in the eyes of the
authorities of that day that nothing less than the death of the
offender could atone for the sin. The reading being ended, the reader
nodded to the executioners, and they made as though to carry out the
sentence forthwith.

But at this juncture a diversion was created, for the young woman who
had hitherto so persistently and closely hung upon the steps of the
guard, burst through the ring and threw herself upon her knees before
the lord's representative.

"Mercy, mercy, Master Steward! Thou canst save him yet; and it is such
a little crime. What is one deer from the forest against the life of a
good man? He but shot the deer because I--his wife--and his child
needed food. And if thou sparest his life we will work, and more than
doubly make up the loss to his lordship."

The steward--a dark man of evil countenance--looked at the girl for a
moment, and hesitated; then he caught the eye of the prisoner, and
instantly his face grew stern.

"Get thee gone, thou baggage," said he, spurning the female. "Stop her
mouth, some of you; or, if she will scream, take her to the ducking
stool."

Then, turning to the hangman, he curtly said:

"Do your work."

With a wild cry of despair, the girl sprang up, leaped towards the
condemned man, flung her arms about his neck, and kissed him, and
then, before any could stop her, burst from the crowd and fled,
shrieking and laughing, over the wastes of the hills. In another
moment the prisoner was dangling in the air, and before the night fell
the gibbet at Gallow's Clough held the ghastly form of a dead man
swinging in chains.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was midnight, and the skies were inky black; not a single star
showed in the heavens, and there was no moon. A cold wind moaned down
the gully, and swung the dead man in his chains so that the gibbet
rocked and creaked. In the distant farms the timid country folk
shivered in their beds, and as the wind shook the casements, they
trembled the more, and told each other they could hear the clanking of
the chains and the shrieking of the witches at Gallow's Clough.

It was a night on which few would care to stir out of doors, but for
all that there were those who set out through the eerie darkness to
wend their way to the gibbet. When night had fallen, the dead man's
wife crept down from the hills and stood beneath the swaying form of
her lifeless husband, and with a grim energy cast pebbles, and uttered
shrill cries to scare away the birds that came to peck at the carrion
that had once been man.

As she kept her vigil, she sang snatches of wild songs, and ever and
anon talked to the dead man as though he could understand. It was
clear that the woman's grief had driven her mad.

Towards midnight she slackened in her exertions, and seated herself at
the foot of the gibbet, contenting herself with fearful but
intermittent screams to scare away the birds. But presently nature
gave out, and she fell into a troubled slumber. She was awakened by
the sensation that some other mortal was near, and with a wild cry she
sprang to her feet to find herself confronted by an old hag who
appeared to be sawing at the dead man's wrist, as though to sever the
hand from the arm.

"Malediction," croaked the hag, "who art thou?"

"I am his wife," answered the mad woman. "What dost thou want, witch?"

"Ah!" said the hag; "now I know thee. Thou hast need of help and
friendship--I will be thy friend."

"What dost thou here?" said the woman, unheeding the latter part of
the sentence.

"I seek a dead man's hand, and a dead man's flesh. The hand I would
dry and wither in the smoke of the fire, and it will point out the way
by which my schemes may achieve success. Of the fat of the dead man I
would make candles--witch-lights--and by their glimmer I shall see,
and see, and see,--things and secrets that are hidden from mortal
eyes."

"Thou shalt not touch this dead man; he is my husband. Seek what thou
requirest elsewhere."

The witch placed a long hand on the distracted widow's shoulder.

"Be not so foolish, poor wench," said she. "Trouble not over what I
do. I tell thee I am thy friend, and the hand of thy dead husband once
in my possession, will be of more service to thee than if left rotting
here. Will not the ravens come--the birds of the air--and peck the
bones clean; and is that not a greater defilement than boiling the fat
in the witches' kitchen, and drying the dead man's hand in the smoke
of the witches' fire? Listen!--dost know the meaning of revenge?"

The poor widow's eyes glistened as though a fire burned within her
brain, and she repeated the single word "Revenge."

The old witch laughed, and said:

"Ah--thou knowest that. Tell me thy story."

Then the younger woman told the tale of want and woe and cruel wrong.

"The steward cast his eyes on me," she said, "but I loved my husband,
and would have nought to do with him. And one day, my man being near
when the tyrant insulted me, struck him to the ground, whereupon the
steward dismissed him from his post, and we were made beggars. Then my
child sickened, and since we needed nourishment, and there was no
chance of honest labour for my husband, he took to the forest and shot
one of the deer, saying that no wife or child of his should starve as
long as there were any of God's creatures to be shot in the woods of
Longdendale. The steward heard of this, and, like a wicked fiend, he
hounded my man to death. There his body hangs, and the man who drove
him to sin walks about in pride and power."

She ended her story with a wail, and commenced to tear at her hair.

"Where is thy child?" asked the hag.

The distracted creature pointed to a bundle, which she had previously
deposited at the foot of the gallows. In the bundle was the form of a
male child, lately dead.

"Dead too, like its father," said the witch. "How did it die?"

"It died of want and of grief. Grief poisoned my milk, and the child
drank of it and died."

"Does anyone know 'tis dead?"

"No one but me--its mother."

The witch looked intently at the eyes of the mother, as though she
would read her very soul.

"And thou would'st have revenge?" she asked at length.

"Would I not," answered the woman; "Oh, would I not. 'Tis all I live
for now. Give me vengeance and I will become thy slave."

"Then listen to me." And the hag whispered something in the ears of
her young companion which appeared to satisfy her, for in a little
while the two left the gibbet, carrying the dead child in a bundle
between them.

The next day, one who passed the gibbet noticed that the corpse
hanging thereon had only one hand.

A short time afterwards it was reported that the infant child of the
steward had been spirited away in the night. It had been set to sleep
in its cradle, and when the nurse awoke the cradle was empty, and the
window open. There was a great outcry, and men were sent in search;
the searchers presently returned bearing the dead body of a male
child, the face of which had been half eaten away. It was impossible
to recognise the features, but the steward wept over the body, telling
himself that his son had been devoured by some savage beast of the
forest, that had made its way into the mansion, and stolen the child
while the household slept. He suspected that some evil witch-wife had
been at work, and he trembled with fear, for he was sore afraid of the
powers of darkness, as all wicked men are.

Meanwhile the dead man's widow dwelt with the old witch at a haunted
hut in the forest, and it was reported that her son throve apace.

       *       *       *       *       *

Years passed by, and the steward had no more children. The shock of
his son's death had proved too much for his lady's strength, and she
became an invalid. He grew more brutal and unmerciful in his conduct
day by day, and the peasantry came to regard him as a fiend in human
shape.

As for the old witch and the poor distracted widow and her child, they
lived in the haunted hut, shunned by all--for it was reported that the
widow herself had also become a witch, and was in league with the
powers of darkness. The lad grew up into a fine youth, and had he
lived an honest life, he would have been accounted one of the
handsomest and likeliest lads in all Longdendale. But the training of
his mother and the old witch had led him to spend his days in all
manner of evil, he robbed and plundered, and finally took to the woods
as an outlaw. Inspired by his mother, he was particularly severe in
his depredations upon the property of the steward, and being reckless
and daring to an unusual degree, he had so far succeeded in avoiding
capture. At length there came a time when an adventure more impudent
and daring than all previous affairs, caused the steward to put a
price upon his head, and so keen was the hunt after him that the bold
rascal found it necessary to keep in hiding.

The steward chafed with anger, for all his efforts to lay the robber
by the heels were fruitless, and he had small hopes of ascertaining
the whereabouts of the man he wanted. One day, however, an old hag
presented herself at his gate, and asked for an interview.

"Ah," said he, recognising the old witch, "what doest thou here. Where
is that imp of Satan whom thou hast helped to rear?"

"That, good Master Steward, is even what I am come to tell thee,"
answered the hag.

"How now," said the steward; "what evil scheme is afloat now?'

"Revenge," said the witch, snapping her toothless gums, and shaking
her crutch. "Revenge upon the woman--my companion, and upon her
evil-minded son. They have played me false, and now I mean to return
the compliment. The woman is away on a journey, and to-night her son
crept in from the forest for shelter and a meal. I gave him meat and
drink, but I drugged the drink, and now he lies in slumber at my hut
in the forest. Send thy guards, steward, and take him ere he wakes."

The steward rubbed his hands with glee, and laughed joyously.

"Thou devil's spawn," said he, "thou shalt be rewarded if we take
him."

"I seek no reward but to see him gibbetted," said the witch.

"Thy wish shall be gratified," said the steward; and without more ado
he called his men, and marched off to the witch's hut to effect the
arrest.

In those days little time was lost between the arrest of a man and his
death upon the gallows; and on the following day the witch and
her companion--the young widow of the earlier part of this
story--accompanied a procession to the place of execution at Gallow's
Clough. The steward was there with his men-at-arms--and as he beheld
the widow, he turned to her and began to rail.

"Ah, thou hell-cat. Dost thou love the gallows so? Thy husband died on
this gibbet, and now thy son comes to the same end. Like father, like
son. 'Tis in the breed. Why dost thou not weep and shriek for mercy as
thou did'st when thy man was swung?"

Then the woman answered with a laugh:

"Because I am mad, thou fool, and cannot weep. My tears were dried up
with weeping over my husband, and now I can weep no more. I must
laugh, man, laugh when the gibbet creaks beneath the weight of a dead
man. The days of weeping are past, the time of laughter and rejoicing
is come."

"Thou speakest truth," quoth the steward, turning away. "Thou art mad
indeed."

"Yet not so mad as thou, oh, thou wise man," said the woman,--but the
steward did not hear her.

The executioners did their work, and the young man was hanged by the
neck until he was dead. Then the steward and his men turned to depart.

But the widow stood before him, and laughed in his face.

"Wise man--madman, rather," said she. "Whom, thinkest thou, is that
dead man on the gallows?"

"Thy son, witch, thy son," said the steward, stepping back before the
wild appearance of the woman.

"My son, fool! Nay, 'tis thy son, steward. The child who disappeared
from his nurse's room was brought to me, was reared by me, was trained
for the gallows, and hangs there dead. My son died the same day that
his father was hanged--murdered by thee--and his mangled and
disfigured body was found by thy servants and buried as thy son. Dost
understand me now?"

The steward reeled, but recovered himself with an effort.

"'Tis false," said he, in a choking voice.

"'Tis true," screamed the woman; "was not there a birthmark upon thy
child's shoulder? Ah, thou rememberest it, I see. Look at the dead man
on the gallows, and thou wilt find the birthmark there."

With a wild cry the steward stripped the clothing from the dangling
corpse, and there upon the lifeless shoulder, he found the mark which
branded the criminal as his child. He had hanged his own son.

Before his men could lend a hand to stay him he had fallen senseless
to the ground.

The men turned and sprang towards the woman, who was now convulsed
with horrible laughter.

"Seize her," cried one,--and they all made to obey.

But quickly raising a phial to her lips, she drank the contents, and
in an instant fell back a corpse.

The old witch shook her crutch at the armed men.

"The murder of an innocent man is avenged," she cried. "Is it not
written that the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the
children? And lo--the murderer's son perishes upon the gibbet where
the father's crime was done."

Then, laughing shrilly, she hobbled away over the hills, and, full of
fear, the men-at-arms let her go unmolested.



XIV.

The King's Evil

Or THE WONDERFUL CURE OF THE MOTTRAM PARSON.


There was a certain John Hyde appointed Vicar of Mottram in the year
1575, who continued to hold the sacred office for over 50 years. He
succeeded his father, Sir Nicholas Hyde (the Vicar of Mottram from
1547 to 1575) who was buried in the Chancel of Mottram Church on the
24th day of April, 1575. John Hyde married at Mottram on February
26th, 1575-6, Alice Reddich, of Mottram, by whom he had several
children: and after her death on March 21st, 1593-4, he married for a
second wife, Ann Hyde, on May 22nd, 1597. In the year 1599 the Parish
Registers were transcribed from the old paper books into the parchment
volumes now in use, and every page of the transcripts bears the
signature of John Hyde. He was also rural dean of Macclesfield.

During a great portion of his life, Parson John Hyde had curates to
assist in the discharge of his ministerial duties; this assistance was
the more necessary on account of the wide extent of the ancient parish
of Mottram, and also because there was a chapel at Woodhead dependent
for its ministry upon the mother church at Mottram. The most prominent
of these curates was his eldest son, Hamnet Hyde, who, as appears from
the Mottram registers, was baptized at Mottram Church on May 14th,
1580, and afterwards settled in the town, marrying there on the 12th
day of January, 1601, Joane Greaves, of Mottram, by whom he had three
sons, John, Nicholas, and Thomas.

Parson Hyde was of an ancient family of gentry, notable in both
Lancashire and Cheshire; being connected with the Hydes of Denton, and
the Hydes of Hyde. His great influence, however, was not alone owing
to this circumstance, but was rather due to his own attainments and
his proved superiority in the matter of learning and wisdom. Hamnet
Hyde, his son, inherited his father's good qualities; he was a man of
good parts, was distinguished for his learning, and was withal pious
and devout. He made a good curate in every way. He was well liked by
the parishioners of Mottram, and was, indeed, well spoken of
throughout the whole of the Longdendale country. It should also be
added in view of the details of this tradition, that he was a fairly
robust man, steady, sober, in no way given to gluttony, and there
seemed every prospect of his living to a good old age.

There came a time, however, when good Master Hamnet Hyde was greatly
distressed to find a grievous disease slowly yet surely creeping over
him. Do what he would, it was impossible to shake the sickness off.
Bit by bit the disease grew worse, and the local quacks and surgeons
were entirely powerless to stay its course. One by one the local
doctors tried, and each one was sorrowfully obliged to confess to
failure in the end. "Nothing could be done," they said; and a complete
cure seemed almost hopeless.

Now, not only was Master Hamnet Hyde distressed with this
intelligence, and not only did his good wife Dame Joane, weep until
her good looks were impaired, but the news also gave great pain
throughout the parish. The people took the matter to heart as though
the parson was one of their own relations. So greatly was he beloved
by the common people that some of them even went so far as to employ
charms and other harmless means, whereby they hoped to remove the
sickness from which the curate was suffering.

The curate's condition formed the subject of gossip when the people
gathered together about the cross opposite the churchgates after
divine service.

"Goodman Shaw," said one to his neighbour, "what think you of Master
Hamnet Hyde to-day?"

The man addressed shook his head sadly before he answered.

"Methinks we shall not have many more sermons from him unless he
alters greatly."

The curate, it should be stated, had preached that morning.

"Thou art right, goodman," went on the first speaker, "but it comes
into my mind that there is one remedy he has not yet tried, which it
were worth his while to put to the test. Someone should suggest it to
him."

"And what is that, pray?" "Why, the Royal Touch. Let him visit the
King, and be touched for the evil. There was a pedlar called on my
dame but yestereen, and he told a great tale of the marvellous cures
wrought by His Majesty King James, God bless him. Why should not our
curate journey up to London, and get the King to remove his sickness?"

"Why not, indeed. Thou hast spoken wisely."

It should be mentioned that in those days the cure of disease by the
patient being "touched" by the Royal fingers was widely believed in.
It was asserted that kings were specially endowed by God with the
power of healing by touch; and of all the monarchs who ever ruled in
England, none were believed to have received this truly royal gift in
such abundance as that Most High and Mighty Prince, James the First.

A suggestion of the sort mentioned by the gossip was not likely,
therefore, to be neglected, and accordingly the idea was laid
pertinently before the curate, who eventually made up his mind to seek
the royal remedy. With this object in view, he mounted his horse, and,
attended by his friends, journeyed southward to see the king. Before
setting out on the journey, he commended himself to God, for the roads
were infested with highwaymen, and it was a perilous venture to travel
from Longdendale to London at that time. There was a goodly
congregation in the old church at Mottram, and from the heart of every
worshipper there went up a fervent prayer for the curate on the
occasion of the last service specially held before his departure.

On the morrow the whole village was early astir, for it was known that
the curate would that morning set out upon his journey; and a numerous
array of villagers gathered in the street before the parson's door as
the hour of departure drew nigh.

[Illustration: MOTTRAM CHURCH AND VILLAGE CROSS.]

"Fare thee well, good Master Hamnet," cried one; "God prosper thy
journey."

"If the king but touch thee thou art surely healed," said another.

"Look well to thy pistols, parson," quoth a third. "'Twere a pity not
to put to good service the weapons God hath placed in our hands. And,
of a truth, there be many rogues upon the road."

"Be sure the beds whereon thou sleepest are well aired," put in an old
dame. "Nothing aggravates the sickness like a damp bed."

And so with numerous manifestations of good will, the sturdy Mottram
folk sped their parson upon his journey.

Now, after safely passing the many perils of the road, Master Hyde
arrived at Greenwich in due course and, securing an audience of the
King, was touched by His Majesty upon the 22nd day of May, 1610. There
was a crowd of sufferers gathered about the Royal Palace, many of
whom, like the curate, had travelled from a distance, and they cried
aloud for joy when the King came amongst them. They fell upon their
knees before him; and, with a gracious smile and many words of
comfort, the monarch passed through the crowd, touching each patient
as he passed, and breathing a prayer for their welfare. Immediately
the fingers touched the patient, the royal virtue passed into the
frame of the sufferer, and he was instantly healed. Then the crowd
gave thanks to God and his Majesty, and with glad hearts set out for
their homes.

It is needless to dwell long over the homecoming of good Master
Hamnet. The news of his return was heralded abroad, and when he
entered the village, the people flocked about him, throwing up their
caps and cheering lustily, so that he returned like some great
conqueror to his own.

After his return, he not only showed his gratitude by rendering public
thanks to God for the wonderful cure performed upon him, but in order
that future generations might know of the Divine goodness, and the
King's most excellent kindness, he inscribed the following passage in
the parish register of Mottram, where it may be read to this day.

     "Anno Dni, 1610. Md. that uppon the 22nd daie of Maie, 1610, I,
     Hamnet Hyde, of Mottram clerke was under the King's most
     excellent Matie. his hands (for the evill) and att Greenewiche
     was healed. On wch. daie three years itt is requyred by his
     Matie. that the ptie so cured shoulde returne (if God pmitt) to
     render thanks bothe to God and His Matie.

      God save Kinge James, p. me. Hamnettum Hyde, clericum."

Hamnet Hyde lived several years after this miraculous cure. He died in
1617, and was buried at Mottram on the 3rd January, 1617-18. The entry
in the register written by his father is as follows:

     "1617-18, January 3rd. Hamnet Hyde, my sonn, buried--."

Parson John Hyde survived his son Hamnet nearly 20 years, for he
continued Vicar of Mottram until the year 1637, being buried on the
17th March in that year. He left direction concerning his burial in
his will as follows: "In the name of God. Amen. The 13th February,
1633, I John Hyde, Vicar of Mottram, in the County of Chester, Clerk,
being aged. My body to be buried in due and decent manner under the
stone where my late father lyeth buryed, in the Chancell of the Parish
Church of Mottram, adjoining to the tomb of Mr. John Picton, late
parson there." etc., etc.

It may be added in conclusion that the sovereigns of England claimed
and frequently exercised the power of healing certain diseases by
touch. The curing of scrofula, or the "King's Evil," as it was called,
was practised by Henry VII, Henry VIII., and Queen Elizabeth; and was
also very extensively carried on by those believers in the "Divine
Right" theory--the Stuart Kings. The "cure by touch" was believed in
as late as the time of Queen Anne. The "Form of Healing" occurs in the
older prayer books, especially those of the 17th century.



XV.

The Magic Book.


There is a spot prettily situated near the town of Glossop, known as
Mossey Lea. It is notable as having been the home of a great magician,
who dwelt there in the olden time, and who was renowned far and wide.
He was, perhaps, the most learned and powerful of all magicians who
have lived since the days of Merlin, but unfortunately his name has
been forgotten. Such is fame.

So renowned was he in his own day, however, that pupils came to him,
not only from all parts of England, but even from across the seas.
These pupils desired to be inculcated with the mystic lore, and
invested with the same degree of skill in the exercise of the magic
arts, that their master possessed. Accordingly they left no stone
unturned in their efforts after knowledge--that is to say, they were
not over-particular as to the means they adopted to secure the end
they had in view. They strove to impress upon everyone with whom they
came in contact, their vast superiority to ordinary mankind, and
generally they proved a big nuisance to the country side.

But there were two of these pupils who were especially curious; they
were constantly prying into nooks and corners which were labelled
"private"; they were ever meddling with business that did not concern
them. By some evil chance, the magician fixed upon these two pupils to
act as his agents for the transaction of some business in a town in
Staffordshire, and to bring back with them a very remarkable book,
which dealt with magic, and which was, moreover, itself endowed with
magical powers. Thus the two luckless youths became all unwittingly
the heroes of the following Longdendale tradition.

History--as is often the case in these legends of the olden time--has
forgotten to record for us the names of the two notable youths, hence
we are driven to the necessity of naming them ourselves, in order to
distinguish them from each other. So we call one Ralph and the other
Walter. It has already been said that they were two curious youths,
ever ready to pry into things; and on the night preceding their
journey, they indulged in this pastime to the full.

While they were at supper the magician had bidden them to repair to
his private chamber ere they retired to rest; and having
entered therein, they were treated to the information already
recorded--namely, that they would have to make a journey on his
behalf, transact some business, and bring back with them a magic
book--with the addition of the following piece of advice and warning.

"Look to it that ye heed what I now say," said the magician; "for by
the shades, 'tis a matter of mighty import. Ye shall get the book, and
ye shall jealously guard it. On no account shall you open it. More I
do not vouchsafe to you, but remember my warning. Open not the book at
your peril. Now get ye to rest, for to-morrow you must een start with
the rising of the sun."

The youths left the room looking very solemn and good, with many
promises that they would faithfully remember their master's charges,
and what was of more consequence, that they would act upon them. But
for all that they did not retire to rest. When they reached the
passage leading to their apartment, Ralph said to Walter:

"What thinkest thou of this quest of ours? Is our master treating us
fairly in thus keeping secret this matter? We have paid a high fee for
tuition in magic, and here he sends us on our first quest, and we are
een to know nothing of the mission on which we go."

"Thou art right," said Walter. "'Tis most unfair, and methinks our
master has in view the acquisition of some potent power. If we engage
in the quest, it is but fair we should share the spoil--the knowledge
to be gained."

To which Ralph added, "I am with thee, comrade. And I would know more
of this business before I start."

Here he whispered to his companion, and the latter nodded his head in
acquiescence. After which the two stole together in silence to the
door of the magician's room, and in turn set their eyes to the
key-hole, whilst their ears drank in every sound.

The magician was seated before a crucible, muttering certain
incantations which are as foreign language to the unlearned. But the
two students understood the meaning of the sentences quite well, and
the result of their eavesdropping appeared to give them satisfaction.
When the magician made signs of coming to the end of his labour, they
skipped nimbly away, and sought their beds, chuckling triumphantly as
they ran.

It is not to the purpose of the legend to dwell upon the incidents of
their next day's journey. Suffice it to say that on that day they were
early astir, that they went gaily upon their way, and in due course
received the magic book from its owner. Then they set out on their
homeward journey, looking very good and innocent until they were well
out of sight. But withal both determined to see the inside of that
volume before the day was over.

Soon they came to a lonely part of the country, and here they sat
down, intending to gratify their curiosity.

"If there is knowledge contained within, then am I determined to drink
of the well thereof, and become even one of the wise."

So spoke Ralph, and Walter also said:

"And I am of a like mind, comrade. So bring hither the book, and let
us fall to."

They placed the thick volume upon their knees, and quickly undid the
handsome clasp which held the sides together, when, lo! a veritable
earthquake seemed to have come upon the scene. The ground shook,
houses tottered, walls and fences fell down, a tremendous whirlwind
arose, which uprooted trees and tossed the forest giants about like
little wisps of hay. Even the students were terrified at the result of
their curiosity, and as for ordinary mortals, why there is no
describing the panic in which they were thrown.

When the luckless students recovered from the first shock of
astonishment, they could only bemoan their folly in discarding the
warning of so potent a magician as their master, and they were filled
with dread as to the punishment they would receive when next they
stood before him.

"Of a truth we are undone," said Ralph; "our master will never more
trust us."

"We are like to be beaten to death with the tempest," said Walter "Who
can stay the power of this evil Spirit, that our mad curiosity has
thus let loose?"

Now, luckily, the magician no sooner beheld the tempest than he at
once divined the cause of this hubbub of the elements, and with
commendable promptitude he proceeded with all speed to the spot where
the students lay with the magical volume. Arrived there, he pronounced
an incantation, and then by magic means known to himself alone,
rapidly stilled the tempest, which the ill-timed curiosity of his
pupils had brought forth. In the words of the old chronicle, he "laid
the evil spirit, commanding him as a punishment to make a rope of sand
to reach the sky."

Which venture no doubt had a salutary effect upon the spirit, for
there is no later mention of any similar antics on its part. We may
conclude from this circumstance, that the spirit has found the task
assigned it as a punishment, greater than it can discharge, and that
it is still labouring away at the sand rope, which is not much nearer
reaching the sky than it was when the work first begun.



XVI.

The Parson's Wife,


In olden time Providence often punished the sins of men and women in
some remarkable fashion. The divine retribution often followed swiftly
upon the violation of the sacred rules of life. We frequently read of
profane men and women whose blasphemy has been instantly followed by
some paralytic seizure, or who, when guilty, and protesting their
innocence have called down heaven's vengeance on their heads if they
were not even then stating the truth, have been at once rendered
lifeless by some strange stroke of the divine power. The following
story will illustrate this principle.

There was once a parson of Mottram--his name and the date of his
holding the benefice are for obvious reasons not mentioned--who had a
peculiar wife. In many respects she was a loveable woman, but she
possessed a nose formed like a pig's snout, and she was forced to eat
her meals out of a silver trough specially provided for her. How she
came to win the affections of the parson, is not known, it might have
been that she had riches to make up for her deficiency in beauty of
countenance, or it might have been that the parson saw in her
compensating charms which were not obvious to the rest of mankind.
This tradition only deals with the cause of her strange infirmity.

Her parents were very wealthy; her mother was a haughty dame who
worshipped wealth, and looked down on all people who were humble in
station. To those wealthier than herself, or whose social standing was
above her own, she was most polite and agreeable, and willing to go to
any trouble no matter how great, to win their friendship and esteem,
but to those who were poor, no matter how estimable they might be in
mind, ability, or real worth, she was chilling and distant, and even
insolent in bearing. True Christian love and charity were virtues she
did not understand. Probably she did not believe in them; at least she
did not practice them. No poor man's blessing ever ascended to heaven
on her behalf, for she was never known to bestow a gift willingly upon
the needy. So, no doubt, Providence considered that it was necessary
she should be taught a severe lesson, that thereby mankind might be
led to see that such un-Christian conduct was opposed to the highest
rules of life, and could not be practised with benefit and impunity.

One day, to her door, there came an old beggar woman and her children,
clearly betokening by their appearances the utmost misery and
destitution. Their clothes were all in rags, only just able to hang
together, while here and there, through the great rents, the flesh
showed bare and cold. Their faces were pinched, and their frames thin
and withered from lack of proper food; and nearly all of them were
shoeless. Their feet were red and blistered, cut in places by the
sharp stones of the wayside.

"A charity, I pray, good lady, for the love of Christ," said the
beggar woman as the lady stood at the door. "Not a bite have we had
this day, and we have travelled far. If thou hast children of thine
own, take pity upon the starving children of the poor."

But the haughty dame bade her begone.

"Out on thee, thou vulgar drab," said she. "Thou art no honest woman,
else had thou hadst a husband to provide for thee."

"My man is dead, lady," protested the beggar, "and I am left a widow."

"More likely thou art a harlot, and the children basely begotten. Away
with thee from my door, or I will have the constables after thee, and
thou shalt be publicly whipped for a low woman."

Then, losing her temper completely, she called for her serving men.

"Ho, there. Rid me of this pest. Turn out this old sow and her litter,
for there is the smell of the stye about them."

At this outrage the poor woman fled. Some say she called down the
vengeance of heaven upon the haughty dame, others state that divine
justice asserted itself of its own accord. Be that as it may, the
wealthy lady was in due course with child, and she brought forth a
daughter having a face shaped like an animal with a pig's snout
thereon, who in after years married the parson of Mottram. Thus did
pride and want of charity bring its own reward.



XVII.

The Devil and the Doctor.


Longdendale has always been noted for the number of its inhabitants
devoted to the study of magic arts. Once upon a time, or to give it in
the words of an unpublished rhyme (which are quite as indefinite)--

    "Long years ago, so runs the tale,
    A doctor dwelt in Longdendale;"

and then the rhyme goes on to describe the hero of the legend--

    "Well versed in mystic lore was he--
    A conjuror of high degree;
    He read the stars that deck the sky,
    And told their rede of mystery."

Coming down to ordinary prose, it will suffice to say that the doctor
referred to was a most devoted student of magic, or, as he preferred
to put it--"a keen searcher after knowledge"--a local Dr. Faustus in
fact. Having tried every ordinary means of increasing his power over
his fellow mortals, he finally decided to seek aid of the powers of
darkness, and one day he entered into a compact with no less a
personage than His Imperial Majesty, Satan, otherwise known as the
Devil. The essentials of this agreement may thus be described.

It was night--the black hour of midnight--and the doctor was alone in
his magic chamber. He had long desired power sufficient to enable him
to accomplish a certain project, and hitherto all means by which he
had tried to secure that power, had been of no avail. Blank failure
had attended every effort, and at last he had decided to make use of
the most certain, yet withal most desperate, agency known to him. In
other words, he would call up the Prince of Darkness, and ask his aid.
The only thing which troubled the doctor was the thought that the
price which Satan would demand, might be much greater than he would
care to pay. But, after all, that was something he would have to risk.

He set a lamp burning on the table, and into a small cauldron hung
above it, he poured certain liquids, which he mixed with certain
evil-looking powders and compounds. Some of the items which he added
to this unholy brew, appeared to have once been members of the human
frame. But that, of course, was known only to the doctor. When the
brew began to simmer, the doctor commenced to mumble certain strange
incantations, which he continued with unabated vigour for the best
part of an hour, without, however, eliciting any manifestations from
the dwellers in the spirit world. At length, however, his patience was
rewarded, for the light beneath his cauldron suddenly went out, the
mixture within boiled over, and the vapour which rose from it, spread
over the room until all the objects therein were hidden as though by a
thick black cloud. Then, out of the cloud, came a voice, deep and
terrible in tone, which caused the very building to rock as though an
earthquake had occurred.

"Why hast thou summoned me from the shades, O mortal, and what dost
thou require?"

The doctor gasped with awe, he almost felt afraid to address the
dreadful spirit, which his own incantations and rites had brought from
the underworld. At length he screwed up sufficient courage to proceed,
and said:

"I would have the possession of certain powers, O, thou Dread spirit."

"And of what nature are they?" asked the spirit.

Whereupon, the worthy doctor commenced a long explanation, into which
we need not enter, setting forth his evil desires, and begging the
Devil to aid him.

"Thou shalt have all that thou requirest, and more," said the Devil
when the doctor had come to an end of his requests; "that is,
providing thou art prepared to pay the price."

"And the price is?" ventured the doctor, trembling.

"The usual one," said the Devil. "I have but one price, which all
mortals must pay. On a day which I shall name, thou shalt wait upon
me, and deliver up thy soul to me."

"'Tis a stiff price, good Satan," said the doctor in protest.

"'Tis the only price I will listen to," said the Devil.

"Then I must een pay it," said the doctor, seeing that further
argument was useless, and, being by this time quite determined to have
his desires no matter what the cost. "I agree," he added. And there
and then he signed the bond in blood, with a pen made from a dead
man's bone.

Satan pocketed the bond.

"Thy desires are granted," said he. "Make the most of thy
opportunities. One day I shall surely call upon thee for payment."

Then, with a burst of mocking laughter, he disappeared.

The doctor seems to have enjoyed the results of the compact until the
day drew near for the settlement. Then, indeed, he appears to have
repented, But he was by no means a dull-witted individual, and in a
happy moment he began to cudgel his brain for some way out of the
difficulty--some plan of escape. Before long his face brightened, a
gleam of hope shone on it, and at length he seemed to see his way
clear. He received the formal summons of Satan with a knowing smile,
and when the day at last arrived, set out in good time to keep his
unholy tryst.

In the language of the rhyme,

    "Now rapidly along he sped
    Unto a region waste and dead,
    And here at midnight hour did wait
    His Sable Majesty in state."

The Devil appeared, seated upon a coal black charger, which was of the
purest breed of racing nags kept specially for the Derby Day of the
Infernal Regions. Satan was very proud of his horse; he was open to
lay any odds on its beating anything in the shape of horse flesh that
could be found on earth.

Judge then of the Devil's surprise when the Longdendale doctor offered
to race him. (It should be stated that the doctor had ridden to the
place of meeting on a horse which was bred in Longdendale, though the
trainer's name has unfortunately been lost).

At first Satan laughed at the impudence of the proposition, but after
some little haggling, he at length agreed to the doctor's conditions.
The conditions were that the Devil was to give the doctor a good
start, and that the latter was to have his freedom if he won the race.

[Illustration: "A RUNNING STREAM."]

"I am unduly favouring thee," said the Devil; "I do not as a rule
allow my clients a single minute's grace when payment falls due, and I
do not reckon to let them bargain as to other means of payment. But
for all that, I do not see why I should not make merry at thy expense.
I am not altogether as black as I am painted. And if it will give thee
any comfort to imagine thou hast a chance of escape--why then get on
with the race."

Acting upon the above agreement, a start was made, and the course was
along the road now known as Doctor's Gate. The contest was most
exciting. Prose can scarcely do justice to the occasion, but we will
endeavour to give some account of the strange contest. The Devil good
naturedly conceded a big start, for, of course, he felt quite certain
of reaching the winning post first, and when the signal was given he
went full cry in pursuit. Away the coursers sped like wind, the doctor
riding with grim countenance, and teeth firmly set, ever and anon
casting an anxious look behind him, and now looking as anxiously in
front. Meanwhile the Devil rode in approved hunting fashion, with many
a loud halloa, which made the very mountains shake as though a thunder
peal was sounding. His horns projected from his head, his cloven feet
did away with the necessity for stirrups, and he lashed the flanks of
his coal black charger with his tail in lieu of a whip.

Slowly but surely the Devil gained upon the doctor. Inch by inch the
black steed drew nearer the Longdendale hack, until at length the
Devil, by leaning over his horse's head, was able to grasp the tail of
the doctor's horse. With a loud burst of fiendish laughter, Satan
began to twist the tail of the Longdendale horse, until at last the
poor beast screamed with pain and terror. This greatly amused the
Devil, who twisted the tail all the harder, so that the doctor's
horse, goaded almost to madness, plunged along faster than before, and
in its fright took a mighty leap into a running stream which dashed
brawlingly across the path. All too late Satan saw his danger; he held
on to the beast's tail and tugged with all his might. For a second,
the contest hung in the balance, and the result seemed doubtful. But
luckily for the doctor, the tail of the horse came off--torn out by
the roots--the Devil's steed fell back on its haunches, and the
doctor's charger plunged safely through the flood, and gained the
opposite bank. Then the doctor gave a great shout of triumph, for
according to the laws of sorcery--laws which even the Devil must
obey--when once the pursued had crossed a running stream, the powers
of evil lost all dominion over him.

Thus by a combination of skill, cunning, and good luck, the
Longdendale doctor outwitted the Devil. Some profane mortals state
that when he found himself victorious, the doctor turned towards the
Devil, and put his fingers to his nose as a sign of victory, while the
Devil, sorely disgusted, rode off to hell with his tail between his
legs, vowing that the mortals of Longdendale would have no place to go
to when they died, for they were too bad for heaven, and too clever
for hell.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

The road known as "The Doctor's Gate"--mentioned in the above
story--runs across a portion of Longdendale. In reality it is part of
the old Roman road from Melandra Castle, Gamesley, to the Roman
station at Brough in the Vale of Hope.

With reference to the main incident of this legend, the following
quotation from Sir Walter Scott will be found of interest:--"If you
can interpose a brook between you and witches, spectres, or fiends,
you are in perfect safety."

No date is attached to the legend.



XVIII.

The Writing on the Window Pane.


It was an evening in the glad month of June, of the year 1644, and the
children of Longdendale were playing games on the smooth green plots
before the cottage doors. At one spot not far distant from the site of
the old Roman station, Melandra Castle, a group of merry little ones,
lads and lassies, were swinging round hand in hand, their sweet young
voices chanting an old-time rhyme.

Suddenly there was a shrill cry from one of the girls, and following
the direction of her gaze, the children beheld a sight that at first
set their young hearts beating sharp with fear. A company of horsemen,
wearing wide-brimmed and much befeathered hats, with long hair hanging
about their shoulders, rode jauntily past the greensward in the
direction of the Carr House Farm. The horsemen were well armed,
carrying swords and pistols, and bright steel armour shone dazzling
upon their breasts. As the cavalcade moved on, the jingling of
stirrups, bits, and harness, made a merry music that was well adapted
to the martial scene. The children, though startled at first, soon
recovered from their fright, and ran gaily to see the squadron pass
by. Curiosity, in their case, got the mastery of fear. For those were
what the historians term "stirring times,"--days of war and tumult, of
peril and death, of bloodshed and ruin, of suffering and horror; and
well the children of Longdendale knew that the quarrel between King
Charles and his Parliament had already made sad hearts and weeping
eyes, widowed women and orphaned children, even in their own
neighbourhood. But the great battles of which they had heard had all
been fought at a distance, and, as is well known in the case of war,
"distance lends enchantment to the view." There was something wildly
romantic and fascinating to the minds of the children in those great
events which were daily transpiring, and about the men who fought in
the battles; and so, on the June evening of this story, the children
flocked curiously about the horsemen, who were a band of gentlemen
cavaliers on their way from Lancashire to join the army of King
Charles at York.

Accompanied by the children, the cavaliers rode up to the Carr House
Farm, and, at a sign from their leader, dismounted, and, without
troubling to ask consent, proceeded to stable their horses, and take
possession of the best rooms for their own accommodation. It was not
altogether a good mannered proceeding, but then, the people who lived
in those days when war was rife, grew accustomed to such violations of
the rights of property, and submitted to the indignities with as good
a grace as they could assume. They knew full well that if they had not
placed upon the table of their very best, the soldiers would have
raided the larder and confiscated all the contents. So, in the
language of modern days, "they made the best of a bad job."

One stalwart trooper, throwing the reins of his steed to a comrade,
was the first to stride through the farm door, and, as he came, the
farmer went bareheaded to greet him,--not altogether without some
qualms of doubt and fear.

"Come, good man," cried the trooper merrily, "show me the way to thy
best room, for our leader, Captain Oldfield, rests there this night.
And if thou art of the King's party, set thy wife to work at once, and
prepare him a feast right merrily, or if thou be'st of the roundhead
faction, why, do the same unwillingly, and be damned to thee."

History does not tell us which side of the quarrel the farmer
favoured, and it does not really matter which, for in any case a visit
from the Royalists would be alike unwelcome. If he was a Roundhead,
then, as a matter of course, the billeting of a force of Cavaliers was
bound to be distasteful; if he were loyal to the King, then against
the satisfaction of providing for the King's troops, must be set the
knowledge that the next force of Roundheads that came into the
neighbourhood would pay him a visit and demand satisfaction for the
favour he had shown their enemies. The farmer made a discreet remark.

"If ye are true men, ye are welcome to such hospitality as I can
afford."

And then he and his servants set about doing with as good a grace as
possible that which they knew themselves compelled to do.

But although the soldiers might be unwelcome guests to the farmer and
his wife, their coming was by no means received with a bad grace by
other members of the household. The maids, in particular, seemed quite
glad as they beheld the Cavaliers enter the yard, and what was more
remarkable, they made scarcely any attempt to prevent the arms of the
fighting-men stealing around their trim-set waists with the coming of
the gloaming and the shadows. There were shy giggles and blushes and
many a stolen kiss in and about the Carr House Farm that night, before
the bugle sounded the hour of rest.

When all the men were inside save the sentries, whose duty it was to
give notice of the approach of Roundheads--if any such rebel gentlemen
should chance to put in an appearance--the officer in command gathered
his soldiers around the oak table in the best room, and seated himself
at their head. Captain Oldfield, of Spalding (for such was his name
and title), first addressed the company, which included the master and
mistress of the farm, and all the pretty maids whose lips so readily
lent themselves to a soldier's kiss. He reminded his hearers of the
great sin of fighting against the "Lord's anointed."

"For," said he, "did not God appoint kings and princes and governors,
and if they are not to rule their people, wherefore are they created?
Therefore it stands to reason that they who oppose the will, and set
themselves in array against the authority of good King Charles, are
fighting against God, and are likely ere long to suffer grievously
from the displeasure of God. And I would especially urge upon ye good
people of Longdendale that ye remain loyal and true to His Majesty,
and have nothing to do with traitorous rebels who are prompted of the
devil. So shall ye escape a felon's death here and damnation
hereafter."

Then, drawing from his finger a ring set with a large diamond, he
continued--

"My stay will doubtless be short, yet would I leave behind a loyal
sentiment which shall serve to remind you of your duty toward your
royal master."

Whereupon he advanced to the window, and on one of the little
diamond-shaped panes, he scratched the following words in the Latin
tongue:--

    "May King Charles live and conquer.
    Thus prays
    John Oldfield,
    of Spalding,
    1644."

The task of writing being ended, he then called on all present to fill
their cups with the farmer's best country wine, and drink deep to the
sentiment which he had just inscribed.

The men filled their cups and drained them to the dregs, after which
they cheered for King Charles. And then the band broke up, the
troopers seeking their hard couches, while Captain Oldfield retired to
his room with the officers, to discuss their future movements, and to
question and gossip with the farmer and such of the loyal gentry of
the neighbourhood as had come to greet him on hearing of the arrival
of his force.

"And whither march ye, Captain Oldfield?" asked one of the gentlemen
of Longdendale, as the talk went on.

"Toward York, Sir Squire," replied the officer; "To join the King."

"And how will the fight go? Think you the rebels will attack the
city?"

"That I doubt. For Rupert is there, he of the Rhine, a Prince of fire,
whose hot blood can never wait in patience for an assault. Rather
should I think he will sweep down on the Roundheads before they muster
in force sufficient to attack the city. As for the end of the fight,
why, look you, I am no prophet. Being in the struggle I do my best,
and I take the outcome, be it what it may, as becomes a true soldier.
There be some who pretend the seer's gift of sight so that they can
foresee what is to happen, but on such things I set little importance.
If the end is evil, why, then, the knowledge of it comes soon enough.
And if good, why the joy is all the greater for the waiting."

The farmer now raised his voice:

"If it please you," he said, "there is a neighbour woman who possesses
the gift of sight. She foretells events in a manner right wonderful.
If your worships like, I will e'en summon her before you."

"Well," quoth the Cavalier, "I have no objection to witnessing her
antics, though I set no store by what she may say. So bring her
within; 'twill help the time to pass."

The farmer left the room, and presently returned, leading in an old
beldame, whose withered and bent form seemed scarcely able to stand
upright. She leaned heavily upon an old crutch, and her breath came in
loud gasps as though she were a prey to asthma.

"What is your will?" she asked, in a fit of coughing. "I am old; could
ye not let me rest a'nights without summoning me to make sport at your
revels."

"Come, granny," said one of the gentlemen, "be not ill-tempered; we
would let these good Cavaliers witness a sample of your skill. They
ride to York to join the King, and would know what fate awaits them
there."

The old dame laughed shrilly.

"Better had they wait. Evil comes soon enough. Why not drink and be
merry while ye may?"

"Why, granny, whence this croaking? What ill-fate seest thou?"

"I see what ye in your pride deem impossible. Ye have just now drunk
to the King. Ye have inscribed on the window-pane of this dwelling a
prayer for his triumph. And a bonny sentiment it is that ye have
written, ye bloody murderers of Englishmen. Upholders of a tyrant,
think ye that the powers of the other world will ever smile upon your
cause? Not so. Your cause is accursed. Never shall the words of the
writing come to pass. King Charles shall perish. So shall ye, his
myrmidons. Lo! I see a field of battle. Rupert is there and the army
of King Charles--a glorious array without the walls of York. But there
cometh Cromwell, the man of iron, his horsemen charge once twice,
thrice, and lo! the army of the King is scattered, and the earth is
red with blood. I see faces, cold and dead, turned upwards towards the
sky. The faces of men slain in the battle. And behold, some of the
faces are your faces, For such is your doom. And in the end your King
shall perish, and old England shall be free."

The frame of the old beldame shook as she delivered herself of this
tirade, and when she had ended she moved feebly to the door. The
company remained still, too awestruck to stay her, and presently she
had disappeared. The soldiers soon recovered their spirits, and joked
gaily over the occurrence.

But it was destined that the words should come true.

With the first streak of dawn, Captain Oldfield led his men on their
long march to the city of York. There on the second day of July, they
fought in the Battle of Marston Moor, and, even as the woman had
prophesied, most of the band perished in the battle, and Cromwell beat
back the King's army, and England was one step nearer being free.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

Ralph Bernard Robinson refers to the above legend in the following
passage in his little book on Longdendale.

"Opposite, on the other side of the river, is Melandra Castle as the
the villagers call it. Some fields here are called in old deeds 'THE
CASTLE CARRS.' Hard by is an ancient homestead going to ruin called
'THE CARR HOUSE.' This old house has an historical celebrity. A party
of Royalists, on their march to Yorkshire before the Battle of Marston
Moor, stayed here one night. The name of the Captain, John Oldfield,
of Spalding, that of King Charles, and the date (1644), long remained
inscribed in Latin, with a diamond ring, on a window-pane of the old
dwelling."

In some way or other, the pane of glass referred to by Robinson became
the property of the late A. K. Sidebottom, Esq., J.P., and after his
death was purchased at a public auction by my friend, Mr. Robert
Hamnett, of Glossop. To the kindness of the last-named gentleman, I am
indebted for the loan of the glass, and for various particulars
concerning it. When it came into Mr. Hamnett's possession, it was in
two pieces, which, however, have now been cemented together. The pane
is the ordinary size of small diamond panes frequently found in
cottages of old date, and still largely used in the windows of our
churches. The inscription is quite clear, but the glass is badly
scratched, as though some sturdy member of the Cromwell faction had
done his best to obliterate the Royalist writing without going to the
expense of breaking the window.

The inscription is as follows:--

    Vivat et vincat Rex Carolus,
    Sic orat
    Johnes Oldfield
    de Spalding
    1644.

Mr. Hamnett has been at considerable pains to trace the career and
family of the above John Oldfield. I am indebted to him for the
following particulars. The passage given here is taken from an ancient
MSS. belonging to the family, and has been supplied by the Wingfields,
who are direct descendants of Captain Oldfield.

"We now come to John--the Captain Oldfield of the Longdendale
legend--the eldest son of the first Anthony, who, as we have sayd,
succeeded to his estate November, 1635. This gentleman was a most
zealous Royalist, and as the other party prevailed (he being left
wealthy by his father, notwithstanding his providing so well for
his other children), was at several times plundered by the
parliamentarians, and sequestred as a Delinqt., and at the Siege of
Newark, where he served the Royal cause gallantly as a gentleman
volunteer, was shot through the body, but recovered of his wounds. He
married Alice, the daughter of ---- Blythe, of Shawson, in the County
of Lincoln. He added to, and very much improved the seat built here by
his father, building the rooms and grand staircase in the north wing
of that house, and planting many forest trees and much wood about it.
This John was interred in the chancel of the Parish Church of our Lady
and St. Nicholas, in Spalding, as was Alice, his wife, by whom he had
three sons and as many daughters, viz., Anthony, his eldest, who
succeeded him to his estate and was afterwards created a Baronet by
King Charles II.... We now come to Anthony, eldest son of John, who,
as we have said, succeeded to his father's estate, 1660. He married
first Mary, the daughter of ---- Parker, Esq., by whom he had no
issue; secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edmond Gresham.... This
gentleman was much esteemed and had a great intimacy with people of
the greatest worth and quality in his neighbourhood, and particularly
with Sir Robert Carr, Bart., Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and
one of His Majesty's Most Honble. Privy Council, and upon the
recommendation of the Rt. Hon the Countess of Dorset, he was, by His
Majesty King Charles II., by letters patent, bearing date the 6th day
of August, 1660, advanced to the degree and dignity of a Baronet of
England, by the title of Sir Anthony Oldfield, of Spalding, in the
County of Lincoln, Bart.--he lies in the chancel under a very large
grey marble, upon which is this inscription:--

     "Here was interred the body of Sir Anthony Oldfield, of this
     town, Bart., who departed this life the fourth day of
     September, Anno Salutis--1668; Aetatis--42."

Sir John Oldfield, son of Sir Anthony, married in 1668, but at his
death in 1704, left only three daughters surviving. The baronetcy
accordingly became extinct. Elizabeth, the third daughter and co-heir
of the last Sir John, married John Wingfield, of Tickencote, High
Sheriff of Rutland (1702). From this union spring the present family
of Wingfield, which includes among its members Sir Edward Wingfield,
K.C.B., and Captain John Maurice Wingfield, of the Coldstream
Guards.



XIX.

A Legend of the Civil War.


In the year 1644 the town of Stockport became the scene of some
exciting incidents in the great struggle then waging between the King
and his Parliament. From ancient days, Stockport had been accounted a
place of military importance, commanding, as it did, the passage of
the river Mersey. When the Romans took possession of the county, they
established a strong fortified camp upon a site near the modern market
place. The Norman lords of Stockport reared a castle upon the same
site, and from that period downwards, the strategic value of the place
continued to increase. When the Civil War broke out, the importance of
obtaining and maintaining possession of the town, was soon recognised
by both factions, and throughout the grim and prolonged contest.
Stockport was held first by one party, then by the other, as the
respective fortunes of the Cavaliers and Roundheads ebbed and flowed.

The majority of the principal landowners and gentry--that is to say,
the most powerful of the representatives of the old county
families--in the vicinity of Stockport, were much inclined to
Puritanism, and so the cause of Parliament received strong support in
this part of the country. The Bradshawes of Marple Hall were vigorous
supporters of the Roundheads--Colonel Henry Bradshawe was a
distinguished Parliamentary soldier; and his brother, John Bradshawe,
afterwards became President of the Council of State, acted as the
Judge at the trial of King Charles, and passed the death sentence upon
that unhappy monarch. The Ardernes of Arden Hall, the Dukinfields of
Dukinfield, the Hydes of Hyde, and the Hydes of Denton were all
resolute supporters of the Parliament; and inasmuch as all these
families had property and influence in the town and parish of
Stockport, it is scarcely a matter for surprise to find that in the
year in which our story opens Stockport was held by a Parliamentary
force under command of that staunch soldier, Colonel Dukinfield, of
Dukinfield.

Colonel Dukinfield is a man who deserves a few words of description.
He was one of the most distinguished of the group of famous historical
characters who sprang from this part of East Cheshire, and helped to
mould the destinies of the nation in the 17th century. A man of
Puritan ancestry, himself a great Puritan, with Republican tendencies,
endowed, moreover, with many of the gifts of a great soldier, he took
part at an early age in the opening stages of the great war. His
exploits in the field, and his influence and ability to raise and keep
together strong bodies of horse and foot, soon won for him a high
place in the ranks of the Parliamentary party; and right worthily did
he acquit himself, whether in the field at the head of his troops, or
in the Council Chamber, where all the qualities of a statesman were
called into play. Historians are unanimous as to the disinterestedness
of his character, and the purity of his motives; indeed, it is
generally recognised that he was one of the truest men of either party
that the Civil War produced.

In the year mentioned, he was sent to guard Stockport, and the bridge
over the Mersey--one of the entrances from Cheshire into
Lancashire--and this task he performed, until military necessity
compelled him to evacuate the town, and retire before a superior force
of the enemy.

A strong army of Loyalists, being sent to invade Lancashire, must
needs take possession of Stockport on their way; they were led by that
dashing dare-devil nephew of the King--Prince Rupert of the Rhine.
Recognising that the enemy was too strong for him, and deeming it
imprudent to risk the lives of his soldiers in a hopeless resistance,
Colonel Dukinfield withdrew his force, and vanished from Rupert's
sight. He of the Rhine sent his men through the rich farm lands about
Stockport, and they plundered the suffering yeomen--confiscating
whatever they required for the service of the King. The Roundheads, on
their part, had done the same, so no one could grumble very much about
the matter. As the sufferers said, "One side was every bit as bad as
the other."

But not a glimpse of the Roundhead soldiers did the gay Cavaliers get,
and Rupert of the Rhine, hot-headed as he was, had yet more sense in
his pate than to be led astray from his direct line of march to begin
a risky, fruitless, and possibly disastrous chase of the
Parliamentarians. For he knew that Dukinfield, who, being a native,
was acquainted with every yard of the country, had taken refuge in the
wild and mountainous region of Longdendale, where it was easy enough
for the Roundheads to ambush the Cavaliers, and where there was little
chance for practising that dashing form of warfare--the grand charge
of large masses of cavalry upon equally compact masses of the
enemy--which was Rupert's favourite method, and which--until Cromwell
and his Ironsides came upon the scene--was invariably successful.

So after a time Rupert passed on his march.

Our story, however, has to do with the troops of the Parliament, and
their sojourn in Longdendale. When he left Stockport, Colonel
Dukinfield led his men directly to the wild country beyond Mottram;
and on the lands adjoining the old halls of Mottram, Thorncliffe, and
Hollingworth, and about the homes of the wealthier inhabitants, he
quartered his force. He does not seem to have met with much resistance
in this matter; and it is most likely that the Longdendale landowners
were themselves inclined to favour the Parliamentary cause.

Be that as it may, they found food for horse and men, and supplied
Dukinfield with money, cattle, and soldiers, when the time came for
him to march. There are some interesting documents still preserved,
which give the details of the various expenses to which the
Longdendale gentry were put by the prolonged stay of the Roundhead
forces on their lands.

[Illustration: DUKINFIELD HALL.]

As was to be expected, the arrival of so renowned a fighter as Colonel
Dukinfield, and his bold band of Roundheads, caused more than a
flutter of excitement in the breasts of the country folk of
Longdendale. Those inclined to the Roundhead faction, were rather
proud to stand by and wave their caps and cheer at the brave men who
had so resolutely fought against the tyrant King; while the Royalist
inhabitants surveyed the soldiers and their Puritan colonel, with
feelings akin to hatred seeing in them nothing but a set of rebels who
were too vile to live.

Of the last-named class was a stout yeoman whom for the purpose of
this story we will name Timothy Cooke. A thorough King's man at heart,
he had no sympathy with any who set themselves up to fight against the
"lords anointed," and as he saw the Roundheads ride past he would, had
he dared, and had the opportunity presented itself, have put a bullet
into the body of each rider.

"A damnable set of psalm-singing rascals," muttered Tim to a
companion, as the Parliamentary troops went by. "May the food and
fodder they get in Longdendale, choke both man and beast. They are of
the devil's spawn, every one, enemies to God as well as to the King."

"Steady, Tim," whispered his companion. "They will overhear thee, and
then, belike, thou wilt get into serious trouble."

"Trouble!" quoth Tim. "I care mighty little for anything they can do.
The King's forces will wipe them out ere long; and had I been but half
the man I was in my young days, I would have ridden behind the
Cavaliers, and struck a blow for His Majesty."

Then, grumbling at the perversity of the times, which permitted such
unseemly sights as that presented by a band of Republican soldiers
marching coolly through Longdendale, he jogged off homeward, to weary
his wife with his ill-humour.

But the goodman had more to put up with ere long, for after a few days
were passed, there came riding into his farmyard, the stalwart figure
of a Roundhead. The soldier was a young man, of gentlemanly
appearance, and strikingly handsome. He wore his hair cropped close,
and his face was clean shaven. He sat his horse firmly, and his
well-proportioned figure gave signs of strength.

"Farmer," cried he; "I give you a good day. You have a grey mare, I
understand, of some little fame hereabouts. My officers require the
use of her for the service of the Parliament. And I am come to take
her forthwith. Also a sheep from your fold would not come amiss, but
that you may send to the headquarters by one of your farm hands."

He spoke with the free air of one who expected that his requests, or
orders, would be observed as a matter of course.

Timothy stood stock still for a few moments, lost in wonder. Then his
hot temper blazed forth in a volume of words.

"Why you knave--you close-cropped murdering rebel--you speak and carry
yourself with the bearing of an honest King's man. Get out of my yard
this instant, or I'll brain you on the spot. No horse or sheep of mine
goes from here to the service of the King's enemies."

He flourished a large hay-fork dangerously near the horseman, and the
steed began to back with alarm.

"Drop that fork," cried the soldier, drawing his pistols, "I've no
mind that there shall be any accident, but if you will advance, and if
one of these weapons goes off, 'tis no fault of mine."

But the old farmer's blood was up.

"I'll spit you as I would a goose," cried he; "and all other such
Republican knaves."

The soldier pulled his horse aside, and levelled his pistol at the
farmer's head.

"Thou mad fool," he cried. "If thou wilt rush to thy death, 'tis no
concern of mine."

And sighting the weapon, he made ready to fire.

But at that moment came a diversion, and from an unexpected quarter;
for in the doorway of the farm, directly behind the irate yeoman,
there appeared the figure of a maid. She was the farmer's daughter,
and a maid of uncommon beauty; and the sight of so fair a daughter of
Eve, bursting thus suddenly on the soldier's vision, banished for one
brief second the murderous purpose from his mind. He hesitated, let
his eyes wander from the farmer to rest upon the figure of the girl.
That second's hesitation was fatal, for the hay-fork driven with force
by the yeoman, took him in the shoulder, and tumbled him heavily to
the ground. He had a confused sense of having done something very
foolish and unsoldierlike, of falling with a thud from his horse, of a
sharp pain in the shoulder, and then his senses left him.

When he recovered consciousness, the unfortunate Roundhead found
himself lying on a couch inside the farmhouse. He was at first dimly
aware that a somewhat heated discussion was going on in one quarter of
the room, and that some person with gentle touch bent over him and
tended to his hurts. In another moment, his senses having fully
returned, he could distinguish the voices of the disputants, and knew
that they were talking about himself.

The farmer's wife, good mistress Cooke, was denouncing her husband's
folly in having wounded the soldier, and thus brought the man nigh to
death, and the yeoman, himself, in grave danger of arrest, court
martial, and the gallows.

"'Tis thy hot temper, of which I have so often spoken, and which thou
never canst control, that has led thee into this mess--and a pretty
mess it is, upon my conscience," said the dame, "What harm had the
poor fellow done to thee or thine, that thou must prod him with the
fork, as thou dost a truss of hay, and tumble him headlong out of the
saddle. A mercy it is he did not break his neck by the fall. As it is,
he is not seriously hurt, though the back of his head will carry a
lump for many a day, and his shoulder will be stiff enough for weeks.
The next thing that will happen, I suppose, will be that thou wilt
have the whole band of them--foot and horse--about the house, and they
will carry thee away a prisoner, and I and the bairns will een be
tumbled out upon the road-side."

"Stop thy chatter," growled the farmer, his courage somewhat overawed
by the volubility and sting of his wife's tongue. "Wouldst have me let
a Roundhead knave, an enemy to the King, rob and plunder me of the
grey mare, and a sheep from the fold, without using the hay-fork when
'tis in my hand. Death and damnation is too good for all such rogues."

..."Death and damnation," quoth the dame. "Death and damnation,
forsooth. That is like to be thy reward for the business. Out of the
room, man, for thy presence drives away my patience. Out thou goest,
while I see if I can bring the poor fellow round, and make amends for
thy fool's folly."

She bundled the farmer out, and at this moment the Roundhead opened
his eyes. Then he shut them suddenly, as though some bright light had
dazzled him, for there, bending close above him, was the bonny face of
the maiden, whose dazzling beauty had been the cause of his undoing.
She had been tending to his hurts, and was gazing at him anxiously,
wondering the while if he were about to die.

The Roundhead did not long remain with closed eyes, for the vision of
the maid was too sweet to lose for want of the effort of raising his
lids. He gazed straight into her eyes, and smiled; and the girl,
finding him fully alive, and conscious of her presence, blushed
crimson, and drew backwards in confusion. Her movement attracted the
dame, who by this time had got rid of her husband; and having no
special desire to be the recipient of attentions from an old lady--no
matter how estimable and kindly disposed she might be--the Roundhead,
with an effort sat up. He had not been seriously injured by his fall,
which had done nothing more than deprive him of his senses for a short
time; and the thrust in the shoulder was nothing more serious than a
flesh wound; now that the bleeding had been stopped, he was really
little the worse for his misadventure.

"I thank you, madam," said he to the farmer's wife, "for your kindness
and attention. Doubtless your good offices, and those of the young
lady, have saved my life; and I promise you they shall not be
forgotten in my report to my commanding officer."

Relieved as she was to find the Roundhead out of all danger, poor Dame
Cooke was terribly upset on hearing the concluding words of the
soldier.

"Oh, sir," said she, the tears springing to her eyes, "must you indeed
report the misdeeds of my hot-headed husband. If he is taken,
and called to account for this mishap, I much fear that his
punishment will be severe. If you could overlook--could find some
excuse--could----"

She broke off, utterly unable to say more, but her eyes pleaded with
the soldier.

Restraining an inclination to smile, with an effort, the Roundhead
said solemnly:

"A bandaged head and shoulder must of necessity give rise to comment.
And how can I escape from the necessity of a report? Moreover, there
is the matter of the grey mare, and the sheep."

"They shall be sent to your camp within the hour," put in the woman
eagerly; "and more likewise, if ye will only be merciful to my good
man."

Other talk followed, but for reasons of his own, the Roundhead omitted
to assure the dame as fully as she could have wished, that she should
hear no more about the matter. It was not without a feeling of great
trepidation that she listened to his last words of gratitude for her
personal attentions, and witnessed his departure.

Mounted on his horse, he rode slowly down the lane, and not till the
farmhouse had disappeared from sight--hidden by a bend in the lane,
and a dip in the road--did he meet a single soul. Now, however, he
reined in his charger suddenly; and he felt his heart beat quicker as
he beheld the pretty maid standing in the road barring his path.

Off came his hat, with a sweeping bow, that would have done credit to
a Cavalier; and he bent gallantly in the saddle to converse with the
fair being who had waylaid him with the evident intention of speaking
to him.

"Oh, sir," said the maid, her voice trembling with emotion, her face
rosy with excitement and bashfulness; "you will forgive my father will
you not? He is not a bad man, and if anything happened to him, it
would break my heart, and my mother's also. Do not punish him, and
mother and I will make amends in some way."

The Roundhead looked at the maid, then cast his eyes rapidly up and
down the lane, and a twinkle of merriment shone in his glance.

"You are quite willing to compensate for your father's sins--to render
a service if I pledge myself to silence on his misdeeds."

"I will do anything," said the maid, eagerly.

The Roundhead bent low in his saddle, until his face was dangerously
near that of his companion. There was a look in his eyes which caused
the maid to blush a deeper red, and set her heart pit-a-pat with a
thrill of strange and joyous excitement.

"Then kiss me," was all he said.

The girl dropped her eyes a moment, then looked full into his, and
finally raised her lips and kissed him.

"Now," she said, "remember your promise, and keep it."

Then with a mischievous nod of her head, that caused her curls to
dance in the sun, she skipped out of his reach, and ran up the lane
towards the farm.

He turned the horse as though to pursue her, but contented himself
with calling after her, "Tell your mother not to trouble about the
grey mare and the sheep. I will come for them myself--another day."

He doffed his hat, and the girl waved her hand; and then the Roundhead
trotted off to explain in some cunning fashion how he had foolishly
met with an accident, and if his colonel had no objection he would go
for the grey mare and the sheep another day. The young man was a
favourite officer with his superiors, and his colonel had no objection
whatever, so the farmer heard no more about his attack upon the
Parliamentary forager.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not to be supposed that human nature of the masculine gender,
however much inclined to Puritanism, could, after having once tasted
the sweet lips of the farmer's daughter, resist the longing for more
of such delights. And so the Roundhead more than once or twice made
his way towards the farm; and either, owing to his cleverness, or to
the strangest coincidence, it so happened that he never returned to
quarters without having held some converse with the maid.

In this way the time passed, and to the two lovers it seemed as though
everything was sweet and fair, and as though war, and suffering, and
death were not abroad in the land. Indeed, so far, the revolution had
brought nothing but fortune to the young man, for he was already
promised a captaincy when next the troops were put in motion; and then
he would move onward to fresh adventures, wherein he hoped to add to
his laurels, so that when the wars came to an end, he would have a
position of some standing to offer to his bride.

At last there came a day when Colonel Dukinfield bade his men make
ready to march. Messengers had ridden in on foam-flecked steeds, and
it was understood that great events were about to transpire. The
troops looked to their arms, burnished up their breast-plates, and
head pieces, and after a busy day spent in preparations, made ready to
pass their last night in Longdendale in the fashion that the Puritan
soldier loved.

When the night had fallen, groups of soldiers were gathered within the
best rooms of the farms whose owners--being favourers of the
Parliament--had gladly welcomed and billeted the Roundheads, and the
host having brought forth some musical instruments, which were tuned
up forthwith, soon the voices of all were joining in a Puritan chant
of praise. Loud and long that night sang the Puritans, and ever and
anon, in the intervals between the chants, some of them, in nasal
tones, would break out into prayer--strange old-fashioned petitions,
in which the Lord was asked to strengthen the arms of the Parliament,
and to sweep the Royalist faction away as the leaves are scattered
before the wind. Then with the first break of day the bugles sounded;
and, leaving the fair Longdendale land behind them, the Roundheads
passed to scenes of grim contest--some joining in the conflicts in
Yorkshire, others participating in different sieges in Lancashire and
Cheshire. After their departure, Longdendale was visited in turn by
bands of Cavaliers, who rode towards the points of strife; and then
for a time the valley was left to its rural quietness.

[Illustration: "A PURITAN CHANT OF PRAISE."]

For some weeks the maid heard nothing of her lover and her only
consolation during his absence was to chat and talk with the wives and
sweethearts of Longdendale men who had joined Colonel Dukinfield's
troops, and ridden off to the fight.

One day, however, when the tasks about the farm were all done, she
sat in the old-fashioned seat in the advanced porch of the steading,
which looked out towards the west. It was the close of a glorious day,
and far away over the great levels of the Cheshire plain, the sun was
setting--flooding the earth and sky with a light that seemed too
beautiful to be real. It was as though one looked right into the gates
of heaven. The farmer and his wife were seated near, for they, too,
were weary with the toil of the day, and were resting for a space in
the cool of the evening before the darkness fell.

Suddenly the girl raised her head as though to listen, and then
pointing towards the sunset, she uttered a loud scream.

"There, there! do you not see them? the Roundheads are beaten back,
and their leader falls. It is he, my love--and oh!--they have slain
him----"

Then she fell back into the seat and sobbed, and shivered, and moaned.

The farmer took her by the shoulders, and shook her.

"Art daft, my lass," said he, "or dreaming. What is it thou see'st?"

For a moment the girl could not do anything but sob and moan, then,
recovering herself, she told her parents that, as she gazed at the
sunset, it seemed as though the western heavens were alive with the
figures of men--she could see the Roundhead troops rushing to the
assault, at their head was the form of her lover, and even as she
looked, the Royalists repulsed the attack, and in the melee she saw
her lover fall, his brain pierced by a musket ball. It seemed, too,
that she could hear the noise of the piece, and the death-shriek as he
fell.

"Tut-tut," said the farmer, "'tis nothing but a dream. Thou hast been
dozing, that is all."

The mother also tried to comfort her, and the two led her inside, but
that night when the farmer and his spouse sought their chamber, the
latter said in an awesome whisper:

"'Tis the gift of sight, good man. My grandmother had it; and I fear
that the vision she has seen will prove true."

       *       *       *       *       *

Some days passed, and nothing was heard of the great strife which
waged beyond the valley; but one day a man, pale and thin from
suffering, seated upon a jaded steed, rode wearily into Longdendale.
Near Mottram town he met Yeoman Cooke, whom he accosted; and the
latter looked at him with a start of surprise.

"Why, Jack, is't thee, my man?" said the farmer. "Bless me if I knew
thee. Thou art just like a ghost."

"And I had nearly been turned into one, farmer," answered the man.
"For I got a blow on my head in the fight just a week gone by to-day,
which stretched me senseless; and other hurts about my body, have
knocked out of me all the fighting for some months to come. 'Twas an
evil day for Longdendale, and I trow that thy own home will be turned
into a house of mourning by it. For this was how we fared. Even as the
victory seemed assured, the Royalist rascals made a great rush, and by
ill-luck our leader was shot dead, and other officers falling, we were
beaten off. As for the Captain--well, I think he loved that lass of
thine--King's man though thou art,--for in his breast, when we came to
carry his body off, were certain keepsakes which I have seen thy
daughter wear. There was also a letter addressed to her, and I have it
with me here. Thou wilt tell her that he died as a brave man should
die, and that he was worthy of her love to the last. I must ride on
now, for it grows late, and I have ill-news to carry to other
Longdendale women besides thy wench. This is the worst side of war."

[Illustration: ARMS OF THE DUKINFIELD FAMILY.]

"One moment," said the farmer, placing his hand on the bridle of the
other's horse, "When did this happen?"

"A week ago to-day," replied the Roundhead. "Just as the sun set; and
it was too late to renew the attack that day."

With that the man rode on, and the farmer was left alone.

"The good wife is right after all," he said to himself. "'Twas second
sight, and the lass has the gift. We must keep the matter to
ourselves, or the folk will think she is a witch."

Then he set his face homewards, and walked off wondering.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

The following particulars from old historical documents will give the
reader some idea of the part Longdendale played in the Civil War; they
will also afford evidence of the unrest which was the predominant
feature throughout the country, in the days of the great Rebellion.

Earwaker, the learned historian of East Cheshire, quotes a series of
accounts from the Harleian MSS. These relate to Hollingworth in the
time of the Civil War, and are the accounts "made and sworn unto by
several inhabitants of the Township of Hollingworth" in 1645. The
following extract will serve as a sample of the contents of this
interesting document.

The accompts of Alexander Hollinworth, of Nearer Hollinworth, in the
above said Townshippe.

    Imprimis: I paid to Collonell
    Duckenfield, the 15th day of
    Deecmber (1643), for pposicon
    money                        5 0 0

    Itm: The same tyme ye said
    Collonell had of me a bay
    gueldinge ffor to be one in his
    Troope, well worth           5 6 8
    Wch continued in his Troope
    until Candlemas after, and then
    was soe spoyled that he was not
    able to do any more service.

    Itm: After the said horse was
    soe lamed I sent another horse
    in his roome, and a man to ride
    him, which horse hath beene in
    ye said troope ev since Candlemas
    after to this present tyme:
    the horse when I put him in
    was worth                   8 10 0

    Itm: I was att charges for the
    man that did ride ye said horse
    sev'all waies above 40tye shillings
                                  2 0 0

    Itm: When Sr William Breerton
    marched towards Yorke wth
    Cheshire fforces ffor ye assistance
    of that County, there was
    250 horse and rydrs quartered
    at my house; the damage I
    had by them in eatinge my
    meadowe, killinge my sheepe,
    and plunderinge some of my
    goods privily, and consuminge
    my victualls they found in
    my house, to ye value att ye
    least of 20tie marks            13 6 8

    Itm: The damage I sustayned
    in quarteringe some of Captaine
    Rich horse and foote ye most
    pte of halfe a yeare Anno 1642
    att the least                  10 0 0

    Itm: The damage I sustayned
    in quarteringe div'se of Captaine
    Eyres Troope sev'all
    tymes in Ann 1642 and 1643
    was att the least               5 0 0

    Itm: In quarteringe some of
    Collonell Deukenfield souldrs,
    Major Bradshawes, and diverse
    others, the tyme when Prince
    Rupert came to Stockport, was
    att the least damages to me     3 6 8

    Itm: In quarteringe of 18
    Troopers of Sr William Breerton
    Companye when they
    marched towards Nottingham
    (as they said) about 5 or 6
    weeks agoe                     1 10 0

    Itm: I have mainteyned one
    musquetyer from the beginninge
    of theise unhappy warres,
    and never had the value of one
    penny towards the charge
    thereof from the Publique       25 0 0

    Item: I have been sometymes
    att charge of one and sometymes
    3 souldrs more when any
    publique danger was, as div'se
    tymes into Darbishire, to Adlington,
    to ye raysinge of the
    siege of Namptwicke, wch I
    verily thinke cost me above 5
    markes att the least             3 6 8
                                  _____
              Sum                  £82 6 8

John Hollinworth, of Hollingworth, had a similar bill of £70 16s., and
the Booths and the Bretlands also sought recompense for the expense
they had been put to in buying arms and quartering men.

One other old document may be quoted.

On the 8th of December, 1653, Colonel Dukinfield and Colonel Henry
Bradshaw sat at Stockport to prepare a list of pensioners in the
Stockport division in connection with the civil wars. The list
contained the following names: Ellen Wagstaffe, whose husband was
wounded at Adlington; Catherine Goodier, whose husband was slain at
Nantwich; Ellen Heape, of Tintwistle, whose husband was slain at
Nantwich; Elizabeth, wife of Hugh Wooley, slain at Chester; Jane
Cooke, whose husband was slain at Middlewich; John Wylde, of Disley,
wounded at Worcester; Thomas Hinchcliffe, wounded at Worcester;
Elizabeth Small, whose husband was slain at Cholmondeley; Joan Small,
whose husband was slain at Middlewich; John Sydebotham, wounded at
Cholmondeley; Margaret Whewall, whose husband was slain at Selby; The
widow of George Hopwood, wounded at Middlewich; Randal Cartwright,
wounded at Hanmore; Margaret Ashton, whose husband was slain at
Lichfield; Ellen Benetson, wife of William Benetson, of Dukinfield,
wounded at Chester, and died.

It will be noticed that several of the above are names of Longdendale
men.



XX.

A Tale of the '))45.


The year 1745 was a noteworthy year in the annals of Longdendale. In
that year the valley was roused to excitement by the doings of Prince
Charles Edward Stuart, the young Pretender, who, at the head of a
large army, marched through Manchester and Stockport on his road to
Derby. Many of the male portion of the inhabitants of Longdendale
walked into either Manchester or Stockport to see the army pass, and
to catch a glimpse of the romantic figure which might one day sit upon
the throne of England. Most of these sightseers returned home full of
the grand picture which the Scottish army presented; they told a great
tale of how the Prince forded the river at Stockport, that the water
took him up to the middle, that he wore a light plaid, and a blue
bonnet, in which was set a milk-white rose.

These accounts greatly interested the inhabitants of Mottram town,
who, like most people, loved to hear of martial doings at a distance.
The Mottram folk, however, were not so highly elated when, a little
later in the year, they heard that portions of the flying Scottish
army were likely to pass through their town during the retreat from
Derby. They would gladly have had the soldiers play the part of the
Levite of old, and "pass by on the other side."

"A murrain on them," quoth the sexton, as he sat in the ingle of the
"Black Bull's Head"--that homely tavern perched on the hillside just
beneath the graveyard of Mottram Church. "Why cannot they even travel
back the same gait they came, and leave our good Mottram folk in
peace? Like enough if they come, there will be blows, and who knows
but what my trade will flourish mightily. And that will be the only
trade that will flourish if they get to fighting on this side of the
border."

The maid who was attending to the wants of the customers pricked her
ears at the conversation, and as she filled the sexton's glass, she
joined in with her sweet woman's voice.

"For my part I should be glad to see them march through Mottram. They
say that the Prince is a handsome gentleman, and brave as he is fair.
One day he will be the King, and then, think what an honour it will be
to Mottram, to have had his army billet in the town when he fought
for his own. Moreover, as I hear, there be some of the best and
bravest of the old families of Lancashire in his train, and we see too
few of the real gentry hereabouts to throw away so fine a chance as
this. As for the fighting, I see no sin in that when the good Prince
but seeks to win back his own."

The sexton smiled at the maid's enthusiasm. He slowly charged his
pipe, lit it, and when she had done, took the stem from his lips.

"You are a maid," said he; "and like all women, are easily carried
away by a handsome face and a fine figure. And belike you are a
supporter of the Stuarts. As for me, I am for King George. I know
enough of the Stuarts never to wish them in power again. My
grand-father was a youth when the great war was on, and he saw enough
blood shed then through the follies of Charles the First to turn him
and all his kin against the breed. I could tell you tales he told to
me that would set your heart a sick at the very mention of a Stuart.
And war is not the grand thing some folks think. It's all well when
someone else gets the worry, and pays the price, and leaves to us the
glory of it. But I've no desire to see my thatch blazing above my
head, my goods and chattels carried off, and my earnings squandered to
keep some hungry fighting man in trim."

John the smith now took up the tale.

"As for me, I'm a favourer of the Stuarts. The lad is the true King,
say I, by all good right. But I'm heart and soul with you, sexton, in
hoping the army of the Scots will keep clear of Mottram town."

And as the talk went on the speakers were divided on questions of
politics, some siding with the Prince, others with the House of
Hanover; but all alike agreed in hoping that the fugitives would give
the Longdendale country a wide berth.

Military necessity, however, knows no law, and the Scotchmen came at
last--big burly Highland men. They wore kilts, and carried
claymores--for the most part they were bearded, unkempt creatures, men
who followed their leaders with the blind faith of children. As soon
as definite news of the retreat of the rebel army in the direction of
the town became known, the householders of Mottram became greatly
alarmed, and everybody grew busy in hiding his or her valuables, and
in driving the cattle to places of safety. The farmers scattered about
their fields, and horses, cows, sheep, and swine, were hurried into
the hills, and there secreted as comfortably and well as possible.
Even the poultry were collected, and hidden away, so that they should
not become a prey to the hungry Scots. It is said that the sexton had
a busy time among the graves, burying such pieces of plate as were
owned in the neighbourhood; and in many other spots throughout the
district the savings of the householders were committed to the ground.

Contrary to expectation, however, the Mottramites found the
Highlanders a quiet, harmless lot of mortals, who did not seem
desirous of reckless plunder. When they arrived they showed no
disposition to take more than was absolutely necessary to provide for
their needs, nor did they turn the people out of doors, and take
forcible possession of the houses. During their short halt at Mottram,
they roughed it with the best, killing cattle for food, and then
(through lack of proper utensils) boiling the meat in hides skewered
up at the corners.

[Illustration: BELFRY DOOR IN MOTTRAM CHURCH.]

The kilts of the Highlanders were what interested the people most of
all, and the children would often flit about, in and out, near the
legs of the soldiers, looking in awe at the strange petticoats for
men, and the knees all bare and bony. Sometimes the men would take the
children on their knees, and tell them stories of war and panic, of
the charging of horse and foot, and of the glorious deeds of the great
and brave. At which the children were greatly pleased, and could have
listened all day long.

The soldiers did not camp together, but were divided into companies;
one portion stayed in Mottram, but the bulk of them encamped near
Hollingworth Hall. Some of the inhabitants took pity on the men, and
treated them with great kindness, which appears to have been much
appreciated by the rebels. On departing, one of the soldiers left
behind as a mark of his gratitude a tinder-box--the most valuable
possession he had--and this box was long preserved at Hollingworth
Hall.

A noticeable feature about the coming of the Highland men was the
excitement and pleasure it occasioned among the female portion of the
inhabitants of Longdendale. The lasses in no way showed those signs of
distress and doubt which were so evident in their elders. On the
contrary, they dressed themselves in their best, became gay with
ribbons, and by every art known to woman sought to enhance their many
charms. Even in those days a soldier's coat was a magnet of attraction
to a maid.

Among the rest was the pretty maid who had spoken to the sexton in the
"Black Bull." She was a fair lass, of good figure, and winsome ways,
and she was greatly admired by all the lads of Mottram town. One of
these was one whom we will call Robin Shaw, on whom she seemed to look
with favour; and already that handsome yeoman had come to consider her
as especially his property. A sad surprise was in store for poor Robin
when the Scotchmen came marching through the town.

Robin, young though he was, had strong views upon the situation. He
was a staunch "King's man," and it was with no good grace that he
beheld his lady love sporting the rebel colours as the Highlanders
marched by. His cup of bitterness, however, ran over when, on the next
night, he came across the faithless damsel strolling down a lane,
where he himself had often made love to her, in company with a
handsome youth who followed the fortunes of Prince Charlie.

It was an angry scene which followed.

Good Robin lost his temper, and in the most approved Longdendale
fashion, then and there gave forth his opinion of the heartless
conduct of his lady love, and the unjustifiable meddlesomeness of the
soldier. The two would have come to blows there and then (for the Scot
was quite as eager for the fray as his enraged antagonist) had it not
been for the presence of the maid, who placed herself between them,
and firmly decided against hostilities. As it was, she commenced an
onslaught with her tongue, and the unlucky Robin, on whose head she
poured forth her wrath, at last beat an ignominious retreat.

"I'll be even with you yet, you bare-legged rebel," he cried to the
Highlander as he went.

And the soldier with a light laugh replied, "At your service, my
friend, whenever you are ready."

But the fates were against their meeting for the present, for, eager
to get back beyond the border before the English army, which was
massing, should lay them by the heels, the Scots left Longdendale, and
passed hurriedly northwards.

The day after they left, a fine figure of a man, equipped and ready
for war, strode into the bar of the "Black Bull" at Mottram. It was
Robin Shaw, and he sought the maid.

"Well, my lass," said he, "I'm off. I've joined the army for the
north, and now I'll be on the track of the rebels. If I meet your
Highland lover, there'll be blows, and the end will be that you'll
have no difficulty to make a choice between us. If I live, I'll come
back to claim you. One kiss now, and then good-bye."

Without waiting to see if the girl would give consent, he drew her to
him in a grasp that would admit of no resistance, and kissed her. Then
without another word he left the inn, and went swinging on his way.

The weeks passed, and the grey dawn broke upon the heath near
Culloden, where the English and the Scottish armies lay. With the dawn
the Duke of Cumberland set out on his march, and shortly after mid-day
the roar of the English artillery told that the battle had begun. All
the world knows the history of that fight, how the fierce Highlanders,
rendered desperate by the play of the cannon upon their ranks, burst
into that wild and ill-fated charge which met with a bloody repulse;
but there are personal details of the conflict that the world knows
nothing of.

When the Highland line darted forward, there moved in the front rank a
"braw" young Scot, whom one at least of the Royal troops welcomed with
a shout of joy. For an instant the weight of the Scottish column
caused the English regiment to waver before the impetus of the charge.
But there was one man who never gave ground an inch--the Longdendale
Loyalist--Robin Shaw. He had seen among the charging host the form of
the soldier who had tampered with his love in distant Longdendale, and
with a shout he set himself in front of his foe.

"Now, my merry rebel," he cried; "we meet again. We will settle old
scores."

"Thou art welcome," cried the Highlander, crossing blades. "We fight
for the love of a lass and--King James."

"For the love of a lass, and King George," said honest Robin Shaw.

And with that the fight began.

Now, Robin was no match for his foe save in strength. In skill of
sword play, the Scot was greatly the superior of the two, and the
result was not long in doubt. Before he knew where he was, Robin's
blade was dashed from his grasp, and the sword of the Highlander
thrust him through. Robin grew sick, and a mist rose before his eyes,
but in the mist he could still make out the triumphant face of his
foe. With teeth firmly set, he pulled himself together, and sprang at
the throat of the Scot. In vain the latter drew back. Before he could
draw his dirk, the Longdendale lad had him by the throat, gripping him
like a vice. The men fell to the ground, rolling over and over in the
struggle, but the grip of Robin never slackened, and at length both
lay still. Another moment and the beaten wave of the Highlanders swept
over them, and the victorious English charged past in pursuit. The
battle of Culloden was fought and won; Charles Edward was beaten, and
the Stuart cause for ever lost.

When the burial parties passed over the battlefield, they found two
corpses firmly locked together--an Englishman run through the body by
the other's sword--a Scotchman strangled to death by the grip of his
foe. The dead man's grip might not be loosened, and they buried the
bodies in one common grave.

So Robin and his rival lay down together in the last long sleep
beneath the heather at Culloden, and away in merry Longdendale a fair
girl watched and waited for a lover who never came.



XXI.

The Haunted Farm.


In the township of Godley, on the fringe of what was formerly an
unenclosed common known as Godley Green, stands an old farm,
stone-built, of picturesque appearance. It is pleasantly situated a
short distance from the turnpike road, from which it is approached by
a country lane. Its windows command some beautiful views over the farm
lands of Matley and Hattersley, which stretch away eastwards with many
a clough and dingle, to the bleak hill country where the old church of
Mottram stands out dark against the sky. The farm is said to occupy
the site of an ancient hall, and old folk tell of the remains of
mullioned windows, and a curious antique mounting block, which were to
be seen there in the days when they were young.

Tradition says that the farm is haunted. In former times it was
occupied by a family, the last survivor of which was an old dame, who
is spoken of by those who remember her as being the very picture of a
witch. She is said to have had a nose and chin so hooked that they
almost met; and to have been very mysterious in her movements. Rumour
had it that there was some treasure or secret buried in or about the
farm, and that after the old dame's death, her spirit, unable to rest
in the grave, commenced to wander through the farm at night, as though
searching for something which was lost.

Various persons who have at different times resided in the farm--some
of whom are still living,--have related strange stories of their
experiences of the ghostly visitant. In the dead of night, the
doors--even those which were locked--have suddenly opened, footsteps
have been heard, as though some unseen being walked through the rooms
and up the stairs, and then the doors have closed and locked
themselves as mysteriously as they opened. Sleepers have been awakened
by the beds on which they lay suddenly commencing to rock violently;
and at times the bed clothes have been snatched away and deposited in
a heap upon the floor. The ghostly figure of an old woman has been
seen moving about from room to room, and then has vanished. Fire-irons
have been moved, and have tumbled and danced about mysteriously; pots
and pans have rattled, and tumbled on the floor; and there has been
heard a strange noise as though some one invisible was sweeping the
floor.

In the early and the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the
appearances of the ghost were of frequent occurrence, so much so that
the farmer's family became accustomed to them, and beyond the
annoyance and the loss of sleep which were occasioned, ceased
troubling themselves about the visits. But for guests or strangers the
ghost had terrors. The farmer's daughter had a sweetheart, and one
night he paid a visit to his betrothed, and sat with her before the
kitchen fire. Suddenly there came a gust of wind, there was a noise as
though every pot and pan in the house had been broken, and every door
was flung wide open by a mysterious and invisible agency.

"What on earth is that?" asked the young man, full of surprise, not
unmixed with terror.

"It is only the ghost of the old dame prowling about," answered his
sweetheart.

But the youth had seen and heard enough, and seizing his hat, he
dashed outside and made off rapidly over the fields. Scarcely had he
departed, when the doors shut themselves, and all was quiet as before.

Some time afterwards, the farmer engaged a farm-hand from a place
beyond Charlesworth. The new man took up his abode and slept one night
in the haunted farm. The next morning he came downstairs with blanched
face and startled eyes.

"I have seen a boggart," said he; "the ghost of an old woman; and I
think it must be my mother. On her deathbed I promised her to place a
stone upon her grave; I have been too greedy to spare the money for
the purpose. It must be her ghost come to upbraid me; and I cannot
rest until I have placed the stone above her grave."

Never again would the poor fellow spend a night in the farm, but for
years he walked to and from his home beyond distant Charlesworth and
his work at the haunted farm.

Other farm-hands and servants were equally terrified by the strange
noises and apparitions; and the farmer found it almost impossible to
get anyone to remain long in his service. At length, so annoying did
the ghost visits become that it was decided to call in the aid of some
minister of the Gospel for the purpose of "laying the boggart." The
Rev. James Brooks--the respected pastor of Hyde Chapel, Gee Cross,
from 1805-1851--was asked to undertake the task, and he readily
complied. Accompanied by other devout men, he spent several nights in
the haunted rooms, reading passages from the Bible, and uttering
prayers specially adapted for driving evil spirits away. The
ministrations of the reverend gentleman were so far successful that
the ghost did not again appear for some time, and its visits have not
since been of such frequent occurrence as formerly. It was widely
believed that had Mr. Brooks continued his visits and his prayers long
enough, the boggart would have been effectively "laid."

As it is, the strange noises and visitations have continued, and are
borne witness to by several persons. Between 1880 and 1890 the
following strange thing happened. It was in the middle of the
afternoon, when most of the household were out of doors, and there
were only the farmer's wife and a boy, and girl within the house.
Presently the mother went into the yard, and the youngsters, bent on
mischief, rushed into the pantry for the purpose of feasting on the
jams and honey which they knew to be there, when lo! they were
suddenly startled by a loud and strange noise overhead, giving them
the impression that some burglars must have got in the upstairs rooms
by some means or other. Full of fear, they rushed for their mother,
who boldly went upstairs, the children following at her heels. When
they entered the room from which the noise came, they beheld the
curious sight of an old rocking-chair, violently rocking itself as
though some person might have been seated in it, and the rocking
continued unabated for a considerable time. A farm labourer, who was
called in to stop the chair, was too terrified to do anything, and
finally the farmer's wife had to sit in the chair to stop it.

It is said that the old dame whose ghost haunts the place, died in her
rocking-chair in that very corner of the room; and the belief was that
it was her spirit, invisible to the inhabitants of the farm, which had
set the chair rocking so mysteriously.

To add to the mystery and the uncanny character of the place, there is
a certain part of the garden connected with the farm, on which nothing
will grow. Time after time have the tenants endeavoured to cultivate
this little spot, but always unsuccessfully. Some years ago human
bones were dug up, and the secret attached to their interment is
supposed to account for the sterile nature of the soil. The present
tenant of the farm asserts that he has paid special attention to the
piece of ground, has applied quantities of the best manure, and in
other ways has endeavoured to bring the soil to the same state of
fruitfulness as the rest of the garden, but all to no purpose. So
recently as the month of April, 1906, primroses growing on that part
of the garden are pale and withered; while those in other parts are
fine and healthy flowers.

The present tenant's wife relates a strange story of a supernatural
death-warning which occurred in connection with this haunted house.
Her brother lay ill in the farm, and she had occasion to go to Gee
Cross on business. Returning homewards, she met a black cat, which, do
what she would she was unable to catch. Then, whilst walking along the
lane leading to the farm, in company with her mother who had met her,
a strange thing happened. It was a beautiful summer night, hot and
still; not a breath of air stirred the leaves upon the trees; and
there was no sound. Suddenly the high thorn hedge on their right
commenced to rock violently; and behind it there sailed along from the
direction of the farm a female figure draped in white. The beholders
were spellbound, and they entered the house with bated breaths. There
they found that the sick man had just died.

The history of this haunted farm is but another testimony to the truth
of the saying that there are more things in heaven and earth than are
dreamt of by ordinary mortals. Things such as these are beyond human
ken; and in all probability the apparition and the ghost-noises of
this old farm house in Godley will baffle the wisdom and the cunning
of generations yet unborn.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

It is quite probable that the majority of those who read the foregoing
account of "The Haunted Farm" will come to the conclusion that it is
entirely the outcome of the writer's imagination. I therefore hasten
to explain that there is not a single detail in the account which has
been imagined by me. Every incident recorded has been supplied to me
by persons who have resided in the farm, and all that I have done has
been to put them in the form in which they now appear.

Most of my informants are still living; indeed, I saw and interviewed
four of them so recently as the last week in March, 1906. One of these
was the old lady, who, as a young woman, was one of the lovers
mentioned in the account; after her marriage she resided in the farm
and is "the farmer's wife" referred to, who witnessed, and stopped the
mysterious rocking-chair. The other individuals, who were much
younger, related to me the story of the strange noises, invisible
footsteps, and uncanny opening and closing of doors, which they
witnessed towards the close of the nineteenth century. They are
persons of the most reputable character, and of social standing, and
they solemnly assure me that the things recorded in the above article
are literally true.

I also visited the farm in the month of April, 1906, and obtained from
the present occupants their experiences, which are also embodied in
the above narrative. The sterility of the "haunted" part of the garden
I saw for myself; and can unhesitatingly testify that, from some cause
or other, the flowers growing on it are quite withered and weak,
whilst similar flowers in other parts of the garden are healthy and
blooming. There is no apparent reason for this fact, inasmuch as the
unfruitful portion of the ground is as advantageously situated as the
rest of the garden.



XXII.

The Spectre Hound.


Until the latter half of the nineteenth century there might have been
numbered among the curious old buildings for which the township of
Godley has long been famed, a low, old-world farmstead of the style
that is now fast fading away. It was a small, picturesque building,
and stood upon a portion of Godley Green, surrounded by a prettily
laid-out cottage garden. Its occupants combined farming with other
pursuits, and in one part of the building handloom weaving was carried
on to a comparatively late period. The farm was pulled down, as
already indicated, in the latter half of the nineteenth century; and a
handsome modern residence has been erected near the site on which it
stood.

There is a curious legend told about this old building. It is said to
have been haunted; and the ghost, in the form of a spectre hound, is
still supposed to roam at nights over the fields which were formerly
attached to the farm. The legend runs that some persons were done to
death in some mysterious fashion in the building; and that ever since,
an evil spirit, in the shape of a great yellow hound, has haunted the
neighbourhood. Old people who can remember the farm, state that in it
there was a certain flag on the stone floor, which bore the stains of
blood; and that no amount of swilling and scrubbing could ever remove
the stains. What became of the stone when the house was pulled down is
not known.

Many persons--residents in Godley, and others who have had occasion to
be in the neighbourhood said to be haunted--have seen the spectre
hound, careering over the fields and through the lanes during the
night-time. The occupants of the adjoining farms have been awakened
from their sleep in the dead of the night by the noises made by the
cattle in the fields; and on looking from their windows have seen the
terrified animals dashing wildly across the fields, chased by the
horrible form of the great ghost-hound, which with hanging tongue,
protruding eyes, and deep sepulchral baying, drove them round and
round.

Children, returning along the country lanes from school on winter
evenings, have seen the hound dash past, and have reached home
well-nigh frightened out of their wits. Young lovers, walking arm in
arm along the quiet lanes, seeking some secluded spot wherein to dream
of love and happiness, have been put to flight by the spectre; and the
more timid maids from the farms have been afraid to venture out after
dark.

The wife of one of the farmers, when returning home one night, after
delivering the milk in the neighbouring towns, was driving slowly
along the lane past the site of the demolished farmstead, when the
horse suddenly stood still, and began to tremble violently. At that
instant the form of the giant hound, yellow in colour, with horrible
staring eyes, sprang from the field, leaped over the fence into the
lane, and with great strides like the galloping of a horse raced down
the lane in the direction of a well which is sunk close to another
farm. Full of fear the good woman reached home, and told her father
what she had seen. The old man, merely shook his head, and said
quietly:

"The yellow hound. So you have seen the yellow hound?"

"What is it--what does it mean?" asked the daughter.

"Some day I will tell you," said he. "But not now. If you have seen it
once, be sure you will see it again."

Some time afterwards the old man himself came quietly home, and told
his daughter that he, too, had just seen the hound.

"It was sitting by the edge of the old well," said he, "looking into
the water. Its eyes were staring wildly, and foam dropped from its
lips."

"What is it--what does it mean?" again asked the daughter.

But the old man only shook his head, and answered:

"Who can tell?"

Again the woman saw the hound in the fields of their own farm, and
sometimes it appeared without head. A great hound it was, life-like
enough at first appearance, but clearly a spectre, terrible to see.

Another lady saw the hound when she was a child, and several times
during her life it has appeared before her. This is her narrative:

"The first time I saw it was in the lanes, when I was walking with a
relation, older than myself. I was a child at the time, and although
startled was not too frightened to think of trying to scare it away.
As it kept pace with us, I looked out for some stones to fling at it;
but my relative caught hold of me and said: 'Don't; you mustn't throw
at it, or it will attack us, and tear us to bits. It is the
ghost-hound.' Since then I have seen it several times. It is not a
pleasant thing to meet, and I have no wish to see it again."

Yet a third lady saw the ghost-hound between the years 1890 and 1900.
"I was staying at ---- Farm," said she; "and I went down to the well
to get some water. It was a winter night, and on a pool near the well
was a strong sheet of ice. While the buckets were filling I went
towards the ice, thinking to enjoy a slide. But when I reached the
pool, there stood the hound. It was about the size of a lion, its skin
much the same as a lion's in colour, and it had eyes as large as
saucers. At first I thought it must have been a lion that had escaped
from Belle Vue, or from some menagerie; and as it came towards me I
backed away. I was too terrified to turn and run, but kept my face to
it, as I retreated. When I neared the house it disappeared. I shall
never forget the sight as long as I live. It was a dreadful thing to
see."

A tradesman of Hyde--a fishmonger, who made a weekly journey round
Broadbottom, and came homewards across Godley Green--once saw the
spectre, and his story is equally sensational.

"It was as big as a cow," said he, "its skin a light tan colour. I was
walking down the lane with my basket on my shoulder, when suddenly I
saw the thing beside me. It kept pace with me as I walked; if I stood
still, it stopped, and if I ran, it ran also. I could not overtake it.
I was not more than a yard from the hedge, and the ghost was between
me and the hedge. I struck at it, but hit nothing; for my hand went
clean through it as through air, and my knuckles were scratched by the
hedge. My blood ran cold, and I was terribly frightened. Then it ran
in front of me, and then came back, and passed me again; it did not
turn round to do this, but, strange to say, its head was in front when
it returned. As soon as it had passed, I took to my heels as fast as I
could run, and it was a long time before I ventured down the lane
again at night. When next I met the farmer whose lands were haunted by
it, and whom I had formerly served with fish, he asked me where I had
been lately; and I then told him I had seen the ghost. He replied that
he and his family had seen it often; and that I must not be afraid."

"Never mind about that," I said. "You'll have to do without fish at
night, unless you like to fetch it."

"It was the most hideous thing I ever saw. Its feet went pit-a-pat,
pit-a-pat, with a horrible clanking noise like chains. I wouldn't meet
it again for twenty pounds. I never want to see it again if I live to
be a hundred."

And so on, the different mortals who have seen this terrible spectre
of the yellow hound relate their grim experiences.

The legend is that the ghost-hound must haunt the lanes and fields
about the site of the old farmstead, until the crime for which it is
accursed has been atoned for, when its midnight wanderings will cease,
and the troubled spirit will find rest.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

As in the case of the story of the "Haunted Farm," I desire to state
that I have not drawn upon my imagination for any of the incidents
related in the account of "The Spectre Hound." The story of the ghost
came to my ears from the lips of a friend, and being filled with
curiosity at so remarkable a story I determined to investigate it. For
this purpose I saw and interviewed all the persons whose experiences
are related in the story, and from them I received the substance and
detail of the above account. They are all perfectly serious, and
positively affirm that they saw with their own eyes the actions of the
spectre hound as recorded.

Their statements were given to me in the presence of reliable
witnesses; and my informants are still alive at the time of writing
(May, 1906).

The fishmonger whose statement is given above is a well-known Hyde
worthy, and I interviewed him at his own house on Thursday evening,
March 29th, 1906. I took with me two friends--well-known public men of
Hyde--as witnesses. My knock at the door was answered by the
fishmonger himself. I told him who I was, and my object in
calling--that it was about a ghost, a spectre hound--a great dog.

"Great dog," said he; "why, man, it was as big as a blooming cow. Come
inside."

With that we entered the house, and he related the story which is
recorded in the foregoing narrative. At the conclusion I suggested
that the spectre might have been a cow.

The man shook his head.

"It was no cow," said he solemnly. "It was a ghost. I never want to
see the thing again if I live to be a hundred years old."



XXIII.

The Boggart of Godley Green.


It would, perhaps, be difficult to find in all England a tract of
country of which so many wild stories of ghosts and boggarts are told
as the old common land of Godley Green, and the picturesque cloughs
and dingles which surround it. Some interesting old farmsteads still
stand on and near the "Green," and there were in former times others
still more quaint, which have disappeared before the march of time.
Concerning most of these homesteads, ghost tales are told; indeed, one
old native of Godley recently declared that "there were more boggarts
at Godley Green than anywhere else in the kingdom." And perhaps this
statement is true.

Most of the stories are old tales, which have been handed down from
former generations, no living being laying claim to any personal
experience of the boggarts referred to. But in one or two cases the
boggarts are said to be still haunting the scenes of their former
exploits; and people still living claim to have actually seen the
ghosts, as well as heard about them. The present story belongs to the
latter class.

There is a certain house in that part of the township of Godley known
as the Green, which is said to be haunted by a boggart in the shape of
an old lady, who formerly belonged to the house. The legend is not
very precise as to the cause of her unrest, but it is said that she
did certain things in her lifetime the memories of which will not
allow her to rest quietly in her grave. Accordingly, her ghost wanders
about the house and grounds, occasionally startling people by its
appearance, and its peculiar actions.

One old lady--still alive--gives some graphic details of the boggart.
She at one time resided in the house but now she has removed to a
distance.

"Many a time," says she, "I have seen 'Old Nanny'--the
boggart--wandering about after dark. She is generally outside the
house, but occasionally peeps in at the windows. I can remember the
old woman during her lifetime, and the boggart is just like her. She
wears an old-fashioned cap, and a skirt kilted or tucked up in the
old-fashioned style. She wears an apron, which she shakes, and makes a
peculiar hissing noise. There is a gate leading from the garden into a
meadow and I have seen the boggart standing there, waving her apron,
and saying, 'Ish, ish, ish.'"

"On one occasion a relative of the old dame, was present, and saw the
boggart. 'It's owd Nanny,' said he, '))reet enough. Why the d---- can't
she rest quiet in her grave. What does she want frightening people
like that.'"

Another night a serving man was ordered to go into the back garden,
and gather a quantity of rhubarb. He was gone a short time, and then
he rushed back to the house with blanched face, and terror in his
countenance.

"What is the matter?" asked his mistress; "where is the rhubarb?"

"It's where it mun stop, missus, for me," he replied. "I've had enough
of rhubarb getting in that garden."

And then he related how he had proceeded to the rhubarb bed, had
gathered one stick, and was about to pluck another, when he suddenly
became aware of the white figure of an old woman standing before him
in the midst of the rhubarb, looking at him intently.

"She waved her apron at me," said he, "and then I heard her say, 'Ish,
ish, ish.'"

While he looked the boggart vanished, and then the man took to his
heels.

Another lady, who resided at the house in the last years of the
nineteenth century, has also some queer tales to tell of the
appearance of the boggart. Says she:

"I would not live in that house again if its owner would give it to
me, and the land it stands on. The place is uncanny, and the boggart
is always there. I saw it more than once. I remember going into the
orchard one evening with my sister. We went to pick some apples, and
having got as many as we wanted, were returning to the house. At the
gate, which leads into the meadow, we saw the boggart--in the form of
an old lady, with a withered face. She stood there waving her apron,
and saying 'Ish, ish, ish.'"

"We dropped the apples, and fled."

Other persons still alive assert that they have seen this boggart, and
it is firmly believed by many that the ghost of the old woman will
continue to haunt the house until her sins are expiated, or until some
minister or holy man "lays the boggart," by using the forms laid down
by law in the olden time, for exorcising evil spirits.


AUTHOR'S NOTE.

To the two other ghost stories relating to the township of
Godley--namely, the stories of "The Haunted Farm" and "The Spectre
Hound"--I have thought it necessary to append a note of explanation. I
now adopt the same course with regard to the story of "The Boggart of
Godley Green." I wish to repeat in this instance that nothing in the
story must be credited to the imagination of the writer. All the
details have been given to me by persons still living (May, 1906), who
have resided in the house at one time or another, and who solemnly
assert that they have seen the boggart, under the circumstances
related in the above account. Their statements were given to me in the
presence of witnesses, and it is impossible to doubt the earnestness
and honesty of my informants.

I do not wish to cast any harsh doubt upon their statements, nor do I,
on the other hand, desire to give it forth that I am a convert to the
belief in ghosts and boggarts. I merely record the stories as told to
me by people whose honesty I know to be above suspicion, and who
firmly believe that they have seen the things they describe.

The houses and the fields and lanes mentioned in the three stories, as
haunts of the ghosts, are all well known to me. I have walked over
them alone, at all times of the night and day, and in all seasons. And
with the house and grounds mentioned in the story of "The Boggart of
Godley Green" I am especially familiar. The land behind the house dips
down to a secluded valley; and the gate mentioned by the narrators as
a favourite haunt of the ghost is half-way up the slope. It is
overshadowed by tall trees, and in certain lights the darkness cast by
these trees is peculiar, and almost palpable. Beyond the gate is a
meadow, from which at certain times the mists rise thick and white.
When seen through the trees the mist sometimes takes strange forms. My
first experience of it was rather startling. I had been in the orchard
alone one night, and when slowly walking up the rise I chanced to look
towards the gate, and there in the gap between the trees appeared a
white form, like the veiled and draped figure of a female. It seemed
to be moving, and for the moment I received a shock. On proceeding
towards the gate, however, I found it was nothing but a moving column
of mist, framed by the thick foliage of the trees. Even then, by an
abnormal imagination, it might have been taken for a spectre.

But although the mist might in some degree explain away the appearance
of "The Boggart" at the gate, I must candidly admit that it does not
account for the spectre hound, or the strange noises, movings of
furniture, and openings of doors, recorded in the two first stories.
These things are as much a mystery as ever.


                                 THE END


[Illustration:   HYDE:
              FRED HIGHAM,
                PRINTER,
            "CHESHIRE POST,"
             MARKET PLACE.
                MCMVI.]





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