The Baldwin Library
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THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE GIPSY VAN.-Page 15.
THE CRUISE OF
THE ROVER CARAVAN
GORDON STABLES, M.D., R.N.
("THE GENTLEMAN GIPSY")
AUTHOR OF "FROM PLOUGHSHARE TO PULPIT," "LEAVES FROM THE LOG OF
A GENTLEMAN GIPSY, THE CRUISE OF THE LAND-VACHT
'WANDERER,'" ETC. ETC. ETC.
We have wandered in our glee
With the butterfly and bee,
We have climbed o'er heather swells,
We have wound through forest dells;
Mountain-moss has felt our tread,
Woodland streams our way have led;
Flowers in deepest shadowy nooks,
Nurslings of the loneliest brooks,
Unto us have yielded up
Fragrant bell and starry cup."
JAMES NISBET & CO.
21 BERNERS STREET
Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
At the Ballantyne Press
To the MYemoy of my dear Champion Newfoundland
Whose like I shall never see again. He
was the companion of my Caravan rambles
for years, and my guard as well. Sound
may he sleef, for he is dead and gone; yet
the trunp that shall wake us all may waken
Bob. Let the Pharisce who would deny a
soul to the noblest of God's brute creation
smile if he leases, but Heaven to me will
not be complete if I do not meet therein all
the dear ones I have loved on earth.
I AM writing my preface at Paisley, on board my
caravan The Wanderer," in which I arrived last night,
after about six hundred miles of devious journeying
through Scotland and England. Well, Paisley-pro-
nounced by the natives Peesley-is probably as good
a place at which to write a preface as any other.
Quiet and cosy enough in all conscience is the meadow
which has been lent me by kind and genial Captain
Sutherland, chief of the police force here. This is the
police recreation ground, so that, virtually speaking, I
am under police supervision like the ticket-of-leave
men, you know. I have been all over this large and
beautiful town, and have also inspected the ancient
castellated building which for many a long year has
done duty as a prison. The strength of the place is
enormous, and only equal to its gloominess. The
stone steps and cells are worn by the feet of the
unhappy prisoners and their stern warders. Ah!
many a sigh has been sighed and many an unavailing
tear has been shed here. Detective Munro, a Caithness
Highlander, a splendid athlete and excellent piper,
conducted me over the place, and I played at being
a prisoner. I had a spell of hard labour in turning a
crank, each round of which means an expenditure of
force equal to lifting sixty pounds ; then I spent some
time in the debtors' wards, and finally was locked and
bolted up in the terrible condemned cell. I tried to
fancy it was my last morning on earth, and waited,
listening breathlessly, for the tread of the executioner,
and sheriff, and warders, and for the tolling of the
doleful bell. Ugh! how dreary and cold it was; but
when bold Munro threw down the bolts and chains,
I and Lady Bute-the St. Bernard who figures in this
story-walked forth once more a free man and a free
dog into the fresh free air of heaven.
Paisley is a very ancient town, and strange to say
was hundreds of years ago celebrated for horse-racing
and football. For some reason or other, James III.
of Scotland decreed to put down the football, as it took
up too much time and attention.
But all around here where I lie is the country of
Tannahill, the Scottish poet, and that to me, after all,
is its chief attraction.
Yes, Paisley is a good place in which to write a
preface; but after all, dear reader, I haven't much to
say, only that if you think of going on the road
yourself as a gipsy-and oh, dear! it is an idyllic
mode of travelling-you will obtain much useful in-
formation in the book you hold in your hands.
Moreover, the scenes and incidents are nearly all
from the life. Lady Bute is my present caravan dog.
Kammy the chameleon, alas! is dead, but Polly is
alive and well, and so is Linten Lowerin the cat. So
my book is nearly all true, if indeed that be any re-
I. "PRESSED CLOSELY AGAINST THE GLASS WAS A
CHILD'S PALE FACE" I
II. EARLY THOUGH IT WAS, THE GIPSIES HAD GONE. 9
III. UNCLE BEN WAS A SAILOR 21
IV. FINDLAYSON TO THE FRONT 31
V. LAYING THE KEEL OF THE CARAVAN 39
VI. "YE'VE LOST THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME, MISTER 50
VII THE FURNISHING OF THE "ROVER "-UNDER
WEIGH FOR THE TRIAL TRIP 63
VIII. ON THE ROAD-A GIPSY DINNER-DOUGLAS TELLS
A FORTUNE. 75
IX. SEA-PIE FOR SIX-AROUND THE CAMP-FIRE-A
VERY HAPPY SCENE 86
X. IN WILD WOOD GREEN AND FOREST DARK 96
XI. HANS BECOMES AN OUTLAW-LINTEN IN PURSUIT
OF GAME-KAMMY ESCAPES-STRANGE ADVEN-
XII. PUNISHING A THIEF-DOUGLAS WITH ROD AND
LINE-A CHANGE OF ROUTE II9
XIII. IN THE LAND OF THE LARKS-A NIGHT OF STORM
AND TEMPEST-" LIKE A CARAVAN IN DREAM-
XIV. LAZING THROUGH A LOVELY LAND-SUSSEX AND
SURREY THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND 140
XV. EN ROUTE FOR THE LAND OF THE BROADS-IN
FOREST DEPTHS 153
XVI. A NARROW ESCAPE-IN THE LAND OF THE LINNETS
-AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR 163
XVII. "LIKE SERAPHS' VOICES RAISED IN SONG" I73
XVIII. A COLD AND SALT, SALT WIND 182
XIX. A REAL SILVER SHILLING, AND A SHARE OF THE
XX. PLEASANT LIFE IN A LAND OF STILL WATERS 202
XXI. "COME WITH ME QUICK TO THE WATER-SIDE" 212
XXII. WAS CARLETON DEAD? 222
XXIII. THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS TO ELFINLAND 231
XXIV. "LET US PLAY AT BEING LOST"--KAMMY IN HIS
LITTLE COFFIN 240
XXV. "KAMMY'S BEEN AND GONE AND RISEN FROM HIS
LITTLE GRAVE," CRIED BUFFLES 249
XXVI. LIKE THE SCENERY OF A FAIRY DREAM 256
XXVII. THE MAJOR AS CAMP-KEEPER DOUGLAS AND
CARLETON TAKEN PRISONERS 266
XXVIII. TOURS OF EXPLORATION-A PLEASANT SURPRISE 274
XXIX. IN A HIGHLAND SNOWSTORM-HANS AND BUFFLES
XXX. LADY BUTE FINDS BUFFLES BURIED IN THE SNOW 296
XXXI. HOME BY SEA-THE FOREST-A SPLENDID SUNSET
-PINE LODGE ONCE AGAIN -. 304
CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
"PRESSED CLOSELY AGAINST THE GLASS WAS A
CHILD'S PALE FACE"
ONE, two, three, four.
Yes, there were just four of them, seated around
the blazing hearth in that cosy old-fashioned parlour.
Four of them, that is, not including Linten Lowerin,
who had purred himself to sleep on Mrs. Radcliffe's
footstool; not including Lady Bute the St. Bernard,
who was extended at full length on the rag; and not
including Kammy the chameleon, who was squatting
on Uncle Ben's shoulder, the last joints of his mar-
vellous tail curled round the top button of Ben's
coat, and with one of his grey skinny hands held aloft,
one eye focused on the blazing logs, and the other
watching a fly on the ceiling.
Truly a weird and uncanny-looking pet!
"Just listen to the wind!" said young Carleton
Radcliffe, holding up a finger.
Kammy rolled the eye that had been focused on
2 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
the fire upwards, and round on a line with Carleton's
finger, leaving the other to watch the fly. His eyes
were funny, to say the least of it, and quite inde-
pendent of each other. In appearance they were not
unlike the tiniest of acorn-cups with the rough side
outermost, and a pin-hole bored where the stalks had
"Yes," said Douglas Stuart, Carleton's Canadian
cousin, "it does blow a bit."
Douglas went on busking" a trout-hook while he
spoke, and never looked up.
"Blow a bit, Douglas?" put in Uncle Ben; "why,
lad, outside it is blowing half a gale o' wind, at the
By "outside" he meant outside the harbour, or
miles away at sea.
He smoothed Kammy's side gently as he spoke,
and Kammy turned a darker green with pleasure, and
puffed out his throat as if swallowing something.
"He's blushing pea-green," laughed Carleton. His
mother looked up from her darning and smiled.
Silly boy," she said, "to talk of a chameleon
"Well, the creature changed colour anyhow; and
see, he is taking a snap-shot at you now, mother."
"But talking of blushes, Douglas, old man," added
Carleton, who felt in the humour to tease people
to-night--" talking of blushes, old Doug, nothing on
earth could bring a blush to your brow."
Douglas had finished his trout-fly off with two
A CHILD'S PALE PACE
tufts of grey and a tick of red, and was examining
"No, Douglas, you can't blush any more than a
brick, because you're that colour already, you know."
This was quite true, and a very handsome young
fellow was this Scotch Canadian, square-shouldered,
blue-eyed, with a bright winsome face, and hair that
was always all over the ship, as Uncle Ben de-
He was nearly six feet high, though only seven-
teen, but he never troubled himself about his measure-
"I say, uncle," he cried, holding up the fly, "isn't
it just too awfully fetching for anything ?"
"It is really, lad."
I'm going to try it on old Blue-back, who has
been sulking in King-fisher pool for weeks. If I can
catch old Blue-back, who weighs three pounds if he
weighs an ounce, I'll give my fly a name and patent
"I say, Doug," said Carleton.
"Do you know what I'd do if I were you? I
would try that fly on Kammy first. If he puts his
tongue out, then it's a natural fly; if he doesn't, it's
Douglas's disengaged palm fell with a resounding
slap on Carleton's knee, that made him jump and
rub the leg, and nearly awoke the cat.
Buff!" barked Lady Bute remonstratively, but
4 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
without ever troubling to raise her great head off
Carleton, or Car as his companion called him for
short, was nowhere compared to Douglas in physical
strength, but in intellect he was probably his superior.
The fact is, Douglas was phenomenal; but Car was
a handsome lad, a thorough English boy too, with a
face that gave promise of healthful and robust man-
hood yet to come. A pale face though, for, not six
months before the date of the opening of our story,
Carleton was confined to his chair or wheel-bed, on
which by day he had rested for over a year, suffering
from a weak spine.
When spring-time had come, however, and he was
able to sit up and take an interest in budding trees,
in the flowers and in the wild birds, the doctor gave
his anxious mother-Carleton was an only son and
an orphan-excellent hopes.
Then Douglas landed from Canada, with his brick-
red face, his sunny smiles and his breeziness yet
gentleness of manner, and as soon as the doctor saw
him he said to Mrs. Radcliffe, speaking cheerfully,
because he spoke from his heart-
"Well, madam, my services won't be wanted much
longer; your son has got just the sort of nurse to pull
him round. Why, that sturdy young fellow will make
a man of him in a few months."
And the doctor's words had almost come true
I do not pretend to know how Douglas managed to
A CHILD'S PALE FACE 5
instil new life into his cousin Carleton; I only know
that he did do so, for in a month's time, when spring
began to give place to early summer, when the pink
may bloomed on the lawn; when the hedges were
snowed over with white blossoms, and flowering chest-
nut trees welcomed the bees; when primroses hid in
the copses, and the 'woods were carpeted with the blue
of the wild hyacinth; when the blackbirds made
mellow music in the thorn trees, and the loud lilting
song of the thrush drowned the croodle of the cushat
in the thickets of spruce, or the low soft purr of the
dove in the ivy-clad poplars, then Carleton might have
been seen walking round the gardens and lawns, lean-
ing on the arm of the stalwart Canadian.
When four more weeks went by, and summer was
in its prime, Carleton and Douglas were still together
out of doors, but now they had extended their rambles
to the forest itself, and when they both returned, both
looked happy, and Car was only just a trifle tired.
And many a long excursion they had taken since
then, and many a lusty trout. So fond of fishing was
Douglas that he would gladly have spent all his
time down by the stream that flowed through the
valley not far from Pine Lodge, then lost itself in the
woods, to emerge after miles of meandering, and flow
softly on towards the sea.
But Pine Lodge itself stood on high ground, not
very far from the English Channel. So close indeed
was it to the cliffs, which here frowned dark and steep
over the ocean, that on stormy nights like this, if you
6 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
listened when the wind lulled for a little, you could
hear the sullen boom of the seas breaking on the
black rocks, and in imagination could see the spray
dashing high in air, and the great dark world of
waters that stretched away and away towards the
It was just such a night then as a landsman loves,
a dismal dark October evening, if he can but remain
safely ensconced at his own fireside, yet a night such
as never fails to carry the thoughts of a sailor-let
the fire burn e'er so brightly-far away to sea.
The wind all day had been roaring through the
bare purple-brown hedgerows, whistling among the
leafless branches of the elms, the oaks, and the limes,
and bending the tall and ghostly poplars as if they
had been but willow wands. Even the birds had
been blown hither and thither with their feathers all
awry; the robin, shivering on the gate, had looked
more like an animated ball than anything else, and
had given up all attempts at singing. So too had
the speckled-breasted mavis, who only the day before
"Echo ring from tree to tree,"
certain in his own mind that spring had come. For
to-day the notes had been blown out of his bill before
they were half-uttered, and whirled away to the back
of the north wind. The blackbird had uttered many
a peevish shriek because he had been obliged to keep
A CHILD'S PALE FACE 7
low down on the grass, and because Linten Lowerin, the
Persian cat, had been stalking him from bush to bush.
The rooks in the morning, who had made efforts to
fly to their happy hunting-grounds in a rich alluvial
valley five miles off, had lost heart when half way,
turned tail, and been blown speedily back again to
their rookery in the wind-tossed branches of the elms
around Pine Lodge.
There had been showers of rain and sleet too, and
now the night was as dark as it was dreary, and
occasionally the hail rattled against the panes of the
casement windows; while the storm-wind ever and
anon caught the loose branches of the rose trees that
clustered over the verandah, and dashed them against
But for all this, the gale raging without, only made
the room within seem doubly cosy. Carleton had a
book, a sentence or two of which he read now and
then by the soft actinic light of the great lamp that
stood not far off.
"Sister,-may I ?"
It was Uncle Ben who spoke, and as he did so he
tapped his tobacco-pouch.
His sister, Mrs. Radcliffe, nodded and smiled.
"Smoking is only fit for old sailors like me," said
Ben, teasing his morsel of twist preparatory to ramming
it into his big meerschaum.
"What a pity," he added, that boys should weaken
their hearts and age themselves before their time by
this vile weed."
8 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
"Uncle Ben," said Carleton mischievously, "it hasn't
aged you, has it ? "
"If a man goes to aea, my boy- "
What Uncle Ben would have added may never be
known, for just at that moment something very extra-
ordinary indeed took place.
It was Lady Bute who first attracted every one's
attention. She had lifted her head off the mat, and
uttered a low growl that ended in a half-suppressed
kind of a bark, as she pointed straight towards the low
French casement window, that reached right down to
the floor and opened on to the verandah.
Pressed close against the glass was a child's pale
EARLY THOUGH IT WAS, THE GIPSIES
WITH the lamp light streaming full towards the
window, every one could see that little face. It was
that of a girl enveloped in a red mantle and hood,
from the borders of which a few locks of coal-black
hair escaped, that were tossed to and fro in the
The face was very pretty withal, yet the dark eyes
had a sadness in them that but ill accorded with her
One arm was raised, and the fingers were beating
a tattoo on the glass.
When she saw she was observed, she smiled and
Dogs, as every one who has studied them knows,
are extremely superstitious; and it was evident that
Lady Bute took this mantled apparition for some-
thing far from canny. She jumped up, and raising
her muzzle and eyes towards the ceiling, uttered a
long lugubrious howl.
"Why!" cried Carleton, "that is the gipsy child
who wanted to tell my fortune to-day, and yours,
10 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
"So it is," said Douglas. She was fishing, and
had caught more than we had. Shall I let her in,
auntie; I want to know what she thinks of my fly ?"
"Certainly, dear, let her in. She must be half
Douglas got up, but Carleton was before him. He
quickly undid the fastening, and the child was whirled
in with the blast in the midst of a small cyclone of
dead and withered leaves.
Neeta-for that was the little gipsy's name-let
her hood drop back, now exposing the marvellous
masses of her jetty hair.
Lady Bute ran to meet her, thundering low and
But, wonderful to say, instead of being afraid, the
girl with outspread arms rushed to meet the dog, and
next moment had knelt beside her and was kissing
her brow and chest and towsy neck.
Row-row-row-row-rr-rr- Lady Bute
continued to thunder for some little time; but she
speedily recovered her temper, and licked the rain-
drops off Neeta's cheeks.
0 beauty, beauty, beauty!" cried Neeta, and
then, as if half ashamed of her effusiveness, she stood
up beside the dog, and demurely bobbed an old-
Both Douglas and Carleton laughed outright; but
Neeta, looking somewhat astonished, edged off towards
Uncle Ben and laid one little cold hand on his, as if
THE GIPSIES HAD GONE
Ben took the hand and chafed it, trying to coax a
little warmth into it.
Mrs. Radcliffe bent forward over her knitting to
listen to what Neeta had to say; and both lads, some-
what ashamed of themselves for having laughed so
rudely, reseated themselves.
"Well, Red Riding-hood," said Ben kindly, "what
is your story ? Where do you hail from, and how
came you here ?"
"I have been fishing all day, good father," she
made answer; "out yonder on a tree branch I have
hung up my fish, and my rod I have hidden in a
bush. I did lose myself, and could not find father's
caravan, then I ran through the woods to look for
myself. Night came on, and by-and-by I saw your
light and- that is all."
"But you must be hungry, child," said Mrs. Rad-
cliffe, "as well as cold."
"I have eaten a raw trout, great lady."
"Terrible! Well, Douglas my son here will take
you to the kitchen, and you will have supper; then
come back and we will see what is to be done."
"I will not go with Douglas your son. I can
go with good father here, or I can eat another raw
So, laughing pleasedly, Uncle Ben laid down his
meerschaum, and led the child out and away to have
By-and-by they both returned, chattering like
magpies, and the boys made room for her near the
12 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
fire. Sarah the servant brought her a low stool; but
she would not sit on that, only on the rug close to
In a few minutes she got quite friendly, even
with Douglas and Carleton, and chatted away right
merrily. Neeta could not have been more than ten
at most, yet, although her English was somewhat
stilted or story-bookish, she seemed possessed of far
more wisdom than many a girl double her age.
She appeared quite full of the semi-wild life she led
as a gipsy. The woods and forests, the moors and
glens, in which she had sojourned all her little life,
formed a background to all her thoughts, and to every
picture presented in her speech.
"And do you really love the strange wandering life
you lead, Neeta ?" said Mrs. Radcliffe.
She opened her dark eyes wonderingly wide, and
looked a second or two at the lady without answering
the question. She seemed surprised indeed.
"Oh yes, great lady, I love it much. Perhaps you
do love even your home though it is always, always
in the same spot, which is not good."
She sighed, then smiled.
"But I have the woods for ever with me, and the
trees do talk to me, you know; in summer they do
whisper to me, or they do sing songs with the brooks
where I fish. Sometimes, when the winds blow high,
the trees do talk loud, and wave their arms, and are
angry. But never, never am I afraid; and sometimes
when they are most angry, high, high up into their
THE GIPSIES HAD GONE
branches do I climb, away and away from the world,
and there I sometimes sleep."
"And the wild flowers, Neeta," said Carleton, who
was somewhat poetic in disposition, "do they talk to
you also ? "
Oh no; I do talk to them. The wild flowers are
my children, my babies; and I sing to them as I lie
beside them, and do put them to slumber."
And so the child kept prattling on; the story of
her life, though simple in the extreme, bringing up
before the mind's eye so many little peeps of rustic
nature in sunshine or in storm, by mountain, wood-
land, or stream, that as they listened the boys could
almost see the grain or grass waving green and sea-
like in the summer air; the trouts leaping up and
rippling the bosom of the still lakes, the water-
fowl diving among reeds that nod around brown
and lonesome tarns; the sailing clouds, with rifts of
himmel-blue between; the wild flowers by the path-
way sides, or crimson poppies in the corn.
And is everybody kind to you, Neeta ? said Mrs.
"Ye-es, great lady, but sometimes big farmer
men send their dogs down, but they do not bite. I
do run to. meet and kiss them, and then the big
farmer men do laugh."
"Poor child! and do you ever go to church ?"
"No, great lady, church is too good and grand for
gipsy people; but sometimes mother and I do go to
the graveyard and sit on a stone to hear the sweet
14 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
singing. And good men sometimes come to the van,
and tell us about a far-off beautiful country, which
they do say is beyond the blue of the sky, and where
we shall all live for ever if we are good on earth.
But the good men do not tell us if caravans are
there, and beautiful woods and fields to roam in; or if
wild birds and wild flowers are there. But the wild
flowers and the wild birds are so good, great lady,
surely they live for ever too ?"
"I hope so, Neeta."
At this point Douglas suddenly changed the subject
by holding up the artificial fly he had made. Neeta
took it and examined it critically, then out came a
very tiny pair of scissors, and, greatly to Douglas's
astonishment, she coolly clipped the wings of the fly off.
"No good, no good," she said. "The trout will
laugh at that."
Douglas's face fell considerably, but he was much
interested, as well as amused, when the gipsy child
took something from an old-fashioned bag that was
slung to her side, and deftly set herself to work
re-busking the hook.
When it was finished she handed it back, and a
very sober, unpretentious fly it looked. Yet I may
add that this very fly next day lured old Blue-back
from King-fisher pool under the shadow of a great
But now a look of uneasiness stole over the child's
face, and she glanced towards the window.
THE GIPSIES HAD GONE
"The good father and great lady will forgive
Neeta. She must go."
"No, no, child, you are lost," cried Mrs. Radcliffe;
"you must stay here till morning."
"But, great lady, I will seek the shelter of a bush;
then, when daylight does come, I will quickly find my
Douglas started up; so did Carleton and Lady Bute.
"I believe, Car," said the Canadian cousin, "that
was the caravan we saw lying on the bit of sward
near Dead-man's Copse. Is she painted yellow, dear ?"
"Oh yes, and so pretty."
"Well, we will soon get you home, if you will
Wowff! barked the great dog.
Kammy focused the dog with one eye, and his old-
world face appeared to express surprise and disgust.
To Kammy's notions the idea of getting excited about
anything was preposterous.
Neeta bent joyfully down and kissed Lady Bute's
big head, then she demurely said, Good-bye, and God
love you," and passed out and away into the night with
her trusty escort.
Carleton carried a lantern. The giant Douglas
offered to carry Neeta, but the child would not hear
of such a thing.
A walk through the tempest-tossed woods, mostly
up hill, for half an hour, brought them on to the
common, and soon to her great joy, which she took no
pains to hide, Neeta saw the red lights from the
16 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
windows of her home upon wheels, shining brightly
but a short distance ahead.
The child, clapping her hands and shouting, ran on
She had told her mother and father the chief part
of her adventures, before the young fellows came up.
When they did so, and peeped in at the back door,
they were more than surprised.
This was no ordinary gipsy-van. There was an air
of almost refinement about Neeta's mother and father,
swarthy in complexion though both of them were.
Douglas and Carleton were both asked to walk in.;
but they preferred to sit on the steps, that they might
all the more easily see the inside of the caravan and
all its fittings.
Neeta's parents followed the profession of fancy
box and basket makers, and the unsold goods were
outside; they also did a little in the fortune-telling
way; but within, the van looked a cosy and complete
There was a nice lamp hanging from the skylight
to give light, a nice arm-chair, a bed with snowy
curtains, a hammock for Neeta, and tiny pictures,
books, glittering delf, and vases of wild flowers and
heather. Every article small but pretty, and every-
thing so clean and tidy !
Then last but not least, there was the copper
shining stove in which the bright fire that was burn-
ing was all that was wanting to make up a perfect
picture of a home upon wheels.
THE GIPSIES HAD GONE
Neeta's father was profuse in his thanks, and her
In her sweet childish voice, Neeta sang the boys a
Spanish song, accompanying herself on the mandoline,
and so with talking and singing, nearly two hours
passed by quickly enough.
Then, hoping they would all meet again somewhere,
the gipsies bade our heroes good-bye, and the last
thing they saw when they looked through the darkness,
was Neeta standing in the back-doorway waving them
an adieu with her handkerchief.
Early next morning, the young men, or lads shall
we say, for in years they were nothing more, went for
an hour's rabbit-shooting before breakfast.
Said Douglas Stuart: "Let us just wander round
by the Dead-man's Copse, and see how the gipsies
look by daylight. Besides, I want to show Neeta
another fly. The child really knows more than I do
Said Carleton: I'm with you. Right shoulders
But early though it was, when they reached the com-
mon, they found that the birds of passage had flown.
Carleton heaved a sigh.
"Douglas," he said about twenty minutes after, as
they neared Pine Lodge, "sit down here on this fallen
tree. I've got an idea."
As he spoke he removed the cartridges from his
gun and stowed them away in his belt.
18 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
Spin it out. I'm hungry."
"Well, Doug, when do you want to go back to
"Oh, father said I could stop a year if you didn't
tire of me, and thus I could see something of England,
and of -my native land, Scotland."
Good I'm so glad !"
But what is the idea ?"
"Well, I'll tell you. Dr. Wilson informed my
mother two days ago that I must still consider myself
an invalid, but that I must do something to occupy
my mind. Do you understand so much ?"
And he wished my mother to remember that the
occupation must be of a pleasant nature, something that
I could take a downright interest in night and day."
"What, work all night!"
"No, no, don't be silly, Douglas; but anything a
man really likes to do by day he goes to sleep think-
ing about, and even dreams about. That's what the
"Yes; well, go on. I am getting more and more
"Well, then, I thought of keeping pets, going in
for birds and beasts of all kinds; but I've given that
up for a better idea, which came as an inspiration
last night while Neeta was singing to her mandoline
inside that charming caravan."
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Douglas. "I have it. I
thought of the same. I'm at one with you."
THE GIPSIES HAD GONE
"Yes; but what is it ?"
"To get a caravan- "
"To borrow one, or buy one."
"Or build one, Douglas."
"To be sure, build one. Capital! Furnish it neatly
and nicely and become amateur gipsies, and travel all
over the length and breadth of this beautiful country.
The idea is a glorious one."
"Well, shake hands on it. Glad we're both of the
"But away in Canada," said Douglas, "when
I was quite a little chap, I used to live for weeks
with the lumberers and go down stream on their
great rafts, and sleep with the rough men by their
camp-fires, and lead a life as wild as it was truly
How nice! You must tell me more about all
that when we get a camp-fire of our own."
Then both got up and walked towards the house.
They determined, however, before they went in,
to first and foremost lay the whole matter before
Uncle Ben, who, having been a sailor and a rover,
would be able to tell them if their plans were really
There was a heightened colour on Carleton's cheeks
when he sat down to breakfast, that his mother did
not fail to notice. There was an extra glitter of
happiness in his eye too.
You boys," she said, smiling, have got something
20 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
new to do and think about. You must tell me all
about it after breakfast"
Yes, mother," said Carleton; "but first, we are
going to consult Uncle Ben."
"Very pleased indeed!" said Uncle Ben, and so
breakfast was quietly discussed.
UNCLE BEN WAS A SAILOR
TAKING it all in all, with its gardens and lawns and
shrubberies, Pine Lodge was a large and a rambling
place. As regards trees it was a perfect arboretum, and
many of these had been arranged in avenues or walks,
with gravel, or simply green soft grass between and under
feet. There was, for instance, the Arbor Vitae walk, the
Yew-tree avenue, the Lime-tree glade-greatly beloved
by the thrushes and blackbirds-and there was a far
more cheerful vista afforded in the Rose-tree avenue.
Except on the lawns and terraces more close to the
house and verandah, that were kept neatly shaven,
modern-fashion, the grass in most of the glades and
avenues was allowed more freedom; and here on the
sward you would find the wild flowers blooming, the
blue of the speedwell, the pink of the pimpernel, lilac
lady's-pouches, orange bird's-foot trefoil, clover red and
white, and many a favourite of nature besides.
It is needless to say that splendid butterflies flitted
in the sunshine here by day, some orange, some white,
some tiny and blue, to say nothing of the red admiral
and the glorious painted lady; and I need not tell you
that the sward was visited by myriads of bees in the
sweet summer-time, whose drowsy song would have
22 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
put you to sleep, had you taken a book and lain down
in a hammock under the trees.
Of an early morning in May you might have seen
the nightingales running on the grass, and long-tailed
squirrels too; and somehow when, on still warm nights,
the moon rose solemnly up and hung like a great fire-
ball among the trees, you scarcely could have helped
holding your breath and waiting expectantly, to see
a band of fairies alighting to hold high revel in this
sylvan scene of beauty.
The beauty of Pine Lodge, however, did not end
here, for close to one grey old gable of the house, rose
a strange round hill or knoll high above even the
weirdly poplar trees, and this was entirely covered
with stone pines, and Scotch or Austrian fir trees.
No undergrowth here at all; none could exist, for all
between the brown pillar-like stems of the pines, the
ground was buried deep in the withered needles that
year after year had fallen from the trees. On the
very summit of this pine-clad hill, and under the
shadow of the dark and massive branches, was a kind
of pagoda, and inside this Uncle Ben used to read and
smoke in summer, because it was cool, and because
from between the smooth tall tree-trunks, he could
catch glimpses of the country all around three sides,
with its long stretches of moorlands, and the steeples
and chimney-stalks of a far-off town; while on the
third side, but far beneath, was the sea-the glorious
Follow me to the pagoda, boys," said Uncle Ben,
UNCLE BEN WAS A SAILOR 23
turning round as he was leaving the room by the
verandah window; follow me in a quarter of an hour.
I'll have calmed down into a thoughtful mood by then,
what with the sea breeze and so forth; but mind if
you have any daft notions in those noddles of yours,
I'm going to stamp them out. You'll see."
And off he went, followed by Lady Bute.
Uncle Ben was a sailor.
It was impossible to make any mistake about that.
It might probably be more correct to say that
Uncle Ben had been a sailor. Yet I doubt it; for
once a sailor always a sailor. If you have trodden
the decks of a man-o'-war, or the timbers of some
sturdy merchantman, for even a few years; if you
have studied the ocean in all its moods, if you have
seen storms arise, and howl around you-the raging
hurricane, the sweeping and terrible tornado, the piti-
less gale; if you have lain becalmed for weeks in the
sultry silence of a tropical sea, with nothing to ripple
its glassy surface except occasionally the fin of a
basking shark; if you have kept watch in the still
hours of night, while. stars above burned bright and
near, while darkling waves beneath seemed to talk to
you in spirit voices as they lisped and rippled under
the quarter; if you have thought of home, and felt
drawn nearer to God in solemn hours like these, then,
I say, there is no making a landsman of you any more.
The sea will have become a second mother to you, and
in your bed at night, while ashore, you will miss the
24 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
heaving of the great ocean's breast, and long to be
"Rocked in the cradle of the deep."
So I repeat Uncle Ben was a sailor. There was
no chance of his ever having the salt washed out of
him, nor getting over the effects of the ozone he had
inhaled in his briny, billowy path through life.
I must tell you, though, that honest Ben did try to
look like a landsman sometimes and in some ways.
For example, on a Sunday morning-he was a strict
Sabbatarian-Ben would persist in wearing the tallest
of tall silk hats, and the broadest of broadcloth coats.
In the interests of truth, however, I am bound to
confess that this coat did not fit so nicely as it might
have done. It was free and easy, like Ben himself.
On the other hand, the tall hat looked far from at
home above that weather-beaten, rubicund face of
Ben's, and those kindly eyes of his, that appeared to
have borrowed their colour from sunlit seas-eyes in
which seriousness never could dwell very long at a
But the hat would play all kind of queer pranks
with Uncle Ben. If it did not "lay aft," right on
the back of his head, it perched itself forward just
abaft the bridge of Ben's nose; or, failing this, it took
a list to port or a lurch to starboard, and stuck there,
giving a rakish, roguish cast to his countenance which
certainly did not belong to the kindly sailor's nature.
Ben's age ? Ah, well, he would have confessed to
being in the sixties, and leave you to guess the rest.
UNCLE BEN WAS A SAILOR
But though hair and whiskers were bleached and as
white as the wave-tops, that had chafed and curled
around him for many and many a year, Ben was
hale and hearty with it all. Indeed he was but a
boy still at the core, and there was no one better
fitted than he to be a boy's companion.
What stories he could tell those nephews of his,
out on the lawn of a summer's evening, while seated
at the entrance to a little tent, with Carleton and
Douglas and Lady Bute squatting or lying on the
grass near to him, or up in the pagoda when skies
were overcast and summer showers were falling!
There was truth in every one of Ben's yarns too.
You knew this and felt it, as he talked. Even the gra-
phic simplicity of his language gave to his stories an
atmosphere of reality, a groundwork of solid fact which
there was no mistaking for anything less substantial.
Or again, in the long winter's evenings, seated by
the fire in the crimson parlour, there you had Ben
and his listeners again; and the wilder the wind raged
without, or the harder the hail or rain rattled against
the window-panes, the cosier were all inside, and the
better form was the old sailor in.
Well, when Ben on this particular morning reached
the pagoda, and seated himself with a sigh of satis-
faction to inhale the delightful breeze-doubly health-
ful, laden as it was with the ocean's ozone and odorous
breath of the pine trees-his eyes naturally enough
turned seawards. The storm had gone down, but
there was still a ten-knot breeze blowing.
26 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
Ben had brought his long telescope with him and
was criticising every sail he saw, talking aloud to
himself, as men of his years have a habit of doing.
"There goes a ripping old barque, down Channel,
with every stitch set she can stagger under. Skipper
there himself on the quarter-deck. Take care, old man,
or you'll carry away something. Blow me farther if
the idiot isn't going to set stu'n'sails. Crack goes the
boom. Ha, ha, ha! I could have told him that.
"How prettily that yacht tacks and half-tacks,
and how near the wind she sails too! There, there,
they've got her all a-shiver. Wanting to do too
"Hullo! there's a schooner trying to round the
point. Why! I do declare she has missed stays.
Heaven help them if they strike on those whale-back
rocks, with such a sea on. Touch and go. But
they're saved. The Lord's name be praised !
And yonder goes a steamer, stiff and steadily up
the Channel, the spray dashing inboard white and
high above the fo'c'sle, the dark smoke cut straight
off the funnel in the breeze, and carried like a long
black snake along her frothing wake. Ah, well,
steamers must exist, I suppose, but give me a sailing-
craft, give- "
"Hillo! Uncle Ben," cried Carleton, as he and
Douglas rushed up the hill and stormed the pagoda.
"Hillo! what's all this about steamers and sailing-
crafts, eh ?"
"Just talking to myself, that's all, boys. Now sit
UNCLE BEN WAS A SAILOR
you down," he added, and tell me what you've got
on your minds."
"Well, Uncle Ben," began Carleton, "you know
that above all things I'd like to go to sea for a long,
long cruise. The doctor says it would make a man
of me. But then if you weren't there I wouldn't
care to go."
"That's a sop for Cerberus, you young rascal,"
said Ben. "Ah, right well do you know how to get
round the old man. But, heave round lad, anyhow."
"So, uncle," continued Car, "the very next best
thing that I can think of, and Douglas thinks so as
well, is for us both to go a-gipsying in a caravan.
And, Uncle Ben, we'd take you with us also if
"No, no, lads, no; Ben's got too fond of his easy-
chair to go rattling his bones over the stones, at his
time of life."
"But what do you want me to do ? "
"Oh, lots of things, uncle. Doug and I have
talked it all over, and we're as good as on the road
already. So what you've got to do first is- You
know that song, uncle-Tra-la lee-la-la, lah, la !"
I'm only singing the air, uncle, but the words, you
"'Break it gently to my mother.'"
"You've got to square auntie," added Douglas.
"That's what Car is driving at."
"Oh, that's it, is it. Well ?"
Well, then we shall want your assistance to help
28 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
to fit out the craft, and get her ready for the road-
make her sea-worthy and all that sort of thing, you
Ah, boys, many a craft I've helped to get ready
for sea, but as for a caravan- "
But Carleton put his hand gently on uncle's mouth.
You mustn't say one disheartening word, Uncle
Ben. Do you promise ?"
Ben nodded assent, and Carleton set him free.
"And now," continued Car, "we'll put all our
five wise heads together-that is, yours and mine
and Doug's, and Lady Bute's and Kammy's."
"But Kammy isn't here."
Oh, isn't he, though; I saw his old-world head
peeping out of your pea-jacket pocket half a minute
Ben dived his hand into his pocket, and there sure
enough was Kammy.
Kammy grew green and grey by turns with rage,
because Ben lifted him by the crest and placed him
on his shoulder.
This droll pet hated to be lifted up by the crest.
It was so undignified, he would have told you.
"I declare," said Ben, laughing heartily, Kammy
reminds me of
"'Sir Timothy's braces,
That were always found in such curious places.'"
And this indeed was true of this strange, weird-
like creature. He was always staying away, but
always turning up again. Sometimes, after being lost
UNCLE BEN WAS A SAILOR
for a whole day, he would be found in the fold of a
curtain, or crawling out of the coal-scuttle as black as
a sweep; or a strange unearthly kind of music would
come out of the piano, and Kammy would be found
moving over the strings; or when Ben would be
saying, "Ah, we'll never see Kammy any more "-
there the chameleon would be posing on the stone
fender before the fire, warming first one hand and then
Well, Kammy didn't say much, but he was an
excellent listener, and stalked flies in quite a wonderful
manner. If a blue-bottle came anywhere near enough,
Kammy first focused him with both eyes, then out
shot a tongue as thick as a slug, and there was no
more blue-bottle fly. A heaving motion in Kammy's
throat, and a look of satisfaction in his curious eyes,
told that the fly had crossed the bourn, and would
never see the sunshine more.
Well, now, boys, let's go to business straight away.
First, then, where are you going to get the caravan ? "
"Oh, we won't have an ordinary gipsy affair, you
know. Our caravan must be a kind of a land yacht. So,
uncle, as you know something about shipbuilding--"
Stay, Carleton, I know somebody who knows a deal
more than me-an old friend. He'll be delighted to
"Uncle," cried Douglas, "you're a brick. You're
just as much a boy as myself, and more. Don't tell
me, Uncle Ben; I can see your eyes sparkling with
30 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
Ben laughed heartily,-and he could laugh, too.
Well, lads, we'll start for Plymouth to-morrow, just
the three of us. No, Lady Bute, you must stay with
mother, and you too Kammy."
"Meanwhile, Uncle Ben, go right away now and
"'Break it gently to my mother.'"
So Ben did.
Next morning, uncle "bent his Sunday's clothes."
That's his own way of expressing it. And the tall
hat was mounted also; and the boys got inside their
very best tweeds. The dog-cart appeared at the door
at nine o'clock, and after saying good-bye to mother,"
they mounted and were driven right merrily away, all
three of them waving their hats, till the road took a
sharp turn and the forest swallowed them up.
Lady Bute had hoped till the last that she too
might be permitted to go, but when the dog-cart dis-
appeared, she heaved a deep sigh and went solemnly
away to lie down beside Ben's empty chair.
Kammy stretched himself at full length on one of
the arms of the chair, and it really seemed to Mrs.
Radcliffe that this strange old-fashioned lizard missed
the boys and Uncle Ben quite as much as the dog
FINDLAYSON TO THE FRONT
THE three friends got to Plymouth that day quite
early in the afternoon, and put up at an old-fashioned
hotel, wherein every one, from the boots to the buxom
landlady, had a welcome word and smile for Uncle
There was an unmistakable air of the ocean about
this hostelry; and the people who passed out and in,
or sat reading or smoking in the cosy bar-parlour,
were weather-beaten sailors to a man, either ship-
masters or their mates. The great Newfoundland
lying in front of the fire brought up before one's
mind's eye visions of the tempest-riven rocks of far-off
Labrador, or the wild and inhospitable shores of New-
foundland. That honest brown tabby on the counter
had been a ship's cat for most of her life, and the
grey parrot that hung in its cage in the corner, looked
as if she could have told many a strange tale of the
sea, had she cared to, which she didn't, contenting
herself by putting her oar in now and then when some
one appeared to take more than his proper share
of the conversation, telling him unceremoniously to
"Belay!" to "Brail up!" or "Haul your foreyard
aback, matie," and she spoke with a voice like that
32 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
of a bo's'n's mate, a voice that was as hollow and
rough as if it had been well holystoned.
Half a dozen skippers at least knew Uncle Ben, so
what could he do but consent to spend the evening and
swap yarns with them. In order to do so all the more
free-and-easily, he dismissed the boys to have a look at
the town and enjoy themselves as much as they could.
Even Carleton, although by no means strong yet,
felt in good form. Everything about the ships and
dockyards was very new to both of them, and after
an early dinner they went to a grand concert, under
the patronage of the blue-and-gold or naval officers.
Carleton was himself a violinist in a modest way, but
he had an opportunity to-night of hearing a real
master, and could hardly believe that such ravishing
sweetness could be elicited from any instrument as that
he now listened to.
But next day Uncle Ben shook himself clear of his
old friends, and after a walk on the Hoe, which he
called a pipe-opener, he went to find out the man he
had come in search of.
They found him living in bachelor chambers, in a
street in the suburbs. Luckily he was at home. Mr.
Findlayson was a thin wiry man of about fifty, with
bright blue kindly eyes, and a very intellectual face.
He welcomed Ben right heartily.
My two nephews," said Ben, seating himself, and
motioning to the boys to do the same.
"Boys," continued Ben, "this is my friend Mr.
Findlayson. And he is a ne'er-do-weel."
FINDLAYSON TO THE FRONT 33
Findlayson laughed and was going to speak, but
Ben held up his hand.
"Never a word, Fin," he said, "till I've introduced
you. Boys, you see before you a specimen of the genus
too-clever-by-one-half. But Fin is more than that.
He has brains enough for a round dozen. Had he
been a soldier and stuck to it, he would now be a
general; had he been a man-o'-war's-man and stuck
to that, he'd now be an admiral; had he been content
to sell tape, or silks and sarcenets, he'd be a million-
aire; and had he turned his attention to building, he'd
now be riding in his carriage, superintending the con-
struction of docks, or forts, or even churches. What
have you invented last, Fin ?"
Oh, a new musical instrument; a bicycle tire; a
new tip for billiard-cues, and a torpedo that doesn't
weigh six pounds, a child can carry it, but, dropped
out of a balloon alongside a vessel, it will blow the
biggest man-o'-war ever made into flinders, as easily
as I could smash an old kettle pot with a blacksmith's
Bravo! cried Ben. Bravo, Findlayson; you'll
die rich, but- "
"But what ?" said Findlayson, with a gentle smile.
"You won't live rich. Never, Fin. Never."
Findlayson looked round him at his very plainly
furnished rooms, then stooped down to smooth his cat.
"No, I fear not," he said, with a sigh.
"Fin, my boy, none o' that," cried Ben. "Come,
you want a holiday, and we want you at Pine Lodge.
34 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
The sweet breath of the pine trees will set you up,
and give you new ideas- "
Oh, I don't want new ideas; I've too many as it is."
"Well, we're going to build a caravan. Can you
help us ? I know you could build a yacht, I know
you could build a cathedral, so surely a caravan won't
N-n-o, no, I don't think so. But just give me
some better idea of what you want, and I'll tell you.
Wait a minute, though."
He jumped up actively enough and took out a large
pad of drawing-paper, with pencil, ruler, and compass,
and then he told Ben to talk away, and he should do
Ben told the story of the little gipsy Neeta, of
Carleton's desire to become a wanderer in woods and
wilds, and of the doctor's desire he should take up some
healthful plan like that, and so on.
Ben rattled away glibly enough, but I don't think
Fin heard half he said. He was pencilling most of the
time, either in words or lines, and curves, on the block
Ben stopped at last, but added a minute after-
"We were half thinking, you know, Fin, that a
good plan would be to buy a furniture van, and
transform her into a caravan. How does that strike
"Well," he said, "it's a matter of taste. A very
useful candlestick can be made out of a mangel-wurzel
FINDLAYSON TO THE FRONT
with any old sailor's baccyy knife, but it doesn't strike
me as being elegant. Eh?"
"There wouldn't be much grace about a candle-
stick of that sort, certainly," said Ben.
"No; and your nephews must turn out in a cara-
van, if they go at all, that shall outshine most of the
ordinary boxes you meet on the road.
"Now, Ben, I happen to know where I can buy
under-works light and good, and with strong yet not
clumsy springs. If we secure these, why, we've got
our keel or foundation ready laid. What say you?"
Oh, I'm willing to leave it in your hands. Lay
your plans. Come to Pine Lodge when you're ready.
Bring a hand or two with you, and your timber and
material and everything; only, my nephews here can
handle tools a bit, and they'll be delighted to work
under your supervision."
Capital!" said Findlayson; "three heads are better
than one. I can see the caravan on the road already,
and I can see as pretty a little house upon wheels as
ever lay on the flowery sward of an English common,
with a wood for her background, and the music from
the larks or laverocks falling from the sky in showers
Well, I think I've found the right man in you,
Findlayson; and bless my soul, old friend, building
caravans is a far more humane sort of employment than
building torpedo-boats or tips for billiard-cues."
The conversation now became general and very
brisk indeed, and after a time Uncle Ben and his
36 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
young friends took their leave, very much delighted
October with its fierce winds and storms of rain
and sleet had passed away, and a November of un-
wonted mildness succeeded it. The sky was blue and
frequently almost cloudless, the distant sea of the same
colour and scarcely ruffled by a wave. Inland around
Pine Lodge, if winds blew at all they but whispered
through the woods, making a sound like tiny wavelets
breaking on a sandy beach in starlit frosty nights of
winter; on the moorlands the later wild flowers were
still in bloom, and there the rabbits and hares chased
each other, and played as joyfully as if it had been
Lady Bute lay much out of doors now on the sunny
verandah, her constant companion Linten Lowerin, the
great good-natured cat. As often as not Kammy
found his way also outside, and used to station himself
not far from her ladyship's nose, because he knew that
inquisitive flies often settled there, and Kammy had
It was always a matter of strange speculation with
everybody how Kammy got out or in doors. He
did not make use of the windows nor of any door
whatever. The conclusion arrived at finally was that
he found a rat's hole and used that. No tunnel,
though ever so long and dark, existed that Kammy
could not find his way to the other end of. But
surely the presence of such an uncanny-looking mortal
FINDLAYSON TO THE FRONT
in their haunts must have affected the nerves of
even the biggest rat that ever lived and dwelt at Pine
Well, one day Carleton came running in to look for
Uncle Ben, who was half asleep in his easy-chair, with
a newspaper on top of his bald head.
0 uncle, here comes Findlayson and his carts at
This was true, and Uncle Ben was as excited as
either of the boys.
So was Lady Bute, who, seeing there was something
unusual in the wind, must go dancing and jumping
round all three, barking with joy till the woods rang
"Let's go and meet Findlayson," said Ben.
And down the road they all went, the honest dog
well in front as outpost, and Linten Lowerin following
modestly behind as rear-guard.
Findlayson, it could be seen ere long, was himself
walking beside the first waggon; but as soon as he was
within hail of him, sailor like, Ben must put his hand
to his mouth and shout.
"What ho there, Findlayson, are you all alive and
Findlayson was certainly all alive, but as for kicking,
that was about the last thing in the shape of jubilancy
he would have thought about; for Findlayson had
none of the fire and go of old sailor Ben in him.
"Here I am, Ben," he said when he got near enough,
Healthy and well, and as happy as inventors ever are."
38 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
"Bravo! my boy," continued Ben, shaking hands
And I think, Ben, you and your nephews will
say I haven't been idle, when I tell them all I have
done, and when they've seen my plans spread out
The waggons were drawn in, and drawn up in a
tiny tree-sheltered meadow, not far from the big house
itself, and here everything was unpacked and stacked.
The tougher woods, or those for the finer and inside
work, were conveyed to a shed not far off, which was
roomy enough to permit all hands to work in the dry.
When everything was stowed away, the carters were
heartily regaled on bread and cheese and sent back.
The one man that Findlayson had brought with him to
assist in building the house upon wheels, was billeted
on the gardener; and his master became a member
of the household for the time being, and, for some
months to come, would form one in the ring around
the cosy ingleside of Pine Lodge.
For a caravan, it must be remembered, is not put
together in a week, nor even in two. It is a work of
LAYING THE KEEL OF THE CARAVAN
IF I were going to tell you that Carleton and Douglas
were up with the lark every morning, I should be
using language that was all too figurative. The truth
is that, unless there is something wrong with his brain,
no boy cares to get up of a morning too early, especially
As to summer, the average boy could no more rise
at the same hour in the morning as that happy bird,
than he could rise with it into the sky and carol with
it against the crimson clouds that herald the coming
day. Well, Carleton and Douglas were both boys, and
so while Douglas did, as a rule, manage to get up after
Sarah ran-tanned at the door for five minutes, Carleton
always required to be called twice, and sometimes even
But both young fellows were down together on the
morning after Findlayson arrived, for on this day the
keel of the caravan was to be laid down. Douglas
winked sleepily at the breakfast for about two minutes,
but when he did begin, he played a very good game at
knife and fork indeed.
Lady Bute seated herself between Uncle Ben and
Carleton. On the tit-bits from the table she was
40 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
perfectly willing to regale herself for the time being.
If these did no other good, they would at least whet
her appetite for the good breakfast that was sure to
Findlayson was as bright and hopeful as ever. I
believe that, had you known this man for fifty years,
you would always have found him the same, always
full of invention and plans, and certain in his own
mind that he was sure he was right, when he made a
statement; not that he was obtrusive by any means,
but he had unbounded faith in himself, and if he had
only been possessed of a lever long enough and a
fulcrum to rest it on, and a few bold blue-jackets to
bend on to the other end of it and heave when he gave
the word of command, he could have moved the world
as easily as men move a fifty-six pounder gun at sea.
Well, Findlayson was just stretching his hand out
towards the sugar-basin, when he drew it back with a
"What on earth have you got there ?" he cried.
"Am I going to be ill, or do I really see a terrible
specimen of a huge grey-no, green-no, reddish
lizard on the table-cloth ?"
He was interrupted by the sound of low derisive
laughter coming from behind him, then the following
words uttered in strange sepulchral tones-
"Ha, ha, ha! Whoa! Green, grey, red? ha,
There certainly was nobody in the room except
those around the table, and innocent Sarah.
LAYING THE KEEL OF THE CARAVAN
"I say, Ben," said Findlayson, "is this house
Everybody now laughed in chorus, for Findlayson's
face was a study.
"That creature on the table is Kammy," said
Carleton. "He is a member of the family, and so is
the bird under the table behind you, that you can't
Polly," he continued, if you're done tearing holes
in the carpet, would you mind flying this way a
"Rats! was the derisive answer, but next moment
a huge grey parrot with a crimson tail did condescend
to appear on the edge of the table.*
: No farther, Polly, please," said Carleton.
He shook his fork at her as he spoke.
"You're a wretch," was the emphatic rejoinder.
The bird was presented with a piece of bacon rind.
She-I must call the bird "she" for custom's sake,
but Polly was and is a gentleman-she quickly
picked all the fat off the rind, then dropped it down
to the cat, who was at one end begging.
There was mischief in that bird's eye this morning,
and it very speedily took shape. She first hopped
down to the floor and begged the cat to scratch
her poll, and called him "an old sinner" because he
These were the only questionable words in the
Both the chameleon and wonderful parrot are sketched from
the life. Both pets of my own.-G. S.
42 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
bird's vocabulary, but she emphasised them strongly
enough for anything.
"You're an old, old, OLD sinner," she told pussy,
and made a grab at his toe.
Linten Lowerin lifted one fore-foot and struck
well out from the shoulder.
"Ah-h !" cried the bird. "You wr-r-retch!"
Polly emphasised this latter word by throwing an
extra r or two into it.
Then she sounded the policeman's whistle, so loudly
and shrilly that Linten shook his honest head and
made tracks for the door.
"Polly's a darling. Polly's a gem, a gem, an old
gem, a dear old gem !"
But next moment she was on the -table again, and
before any one could prevent it she had seized Kammy
by the crest in one of her powerful claws, and carried
him in triumph to the glittering glass chandelier.
Kammy had been flown away with before, but he
couldn't be supposed to like it, any more than Sinbad
the sailor liked being flown away with by the Rok.
Before Carleton could hurry to Kammy's rescue,
Polly had bent her head low, and held the chameleon
right over it.
Scratch poor old Polly's poll! "
This was said in such a wheedling way that every
one was obliged to laugh.
But Kammy in his struggles scratched the bird
more than was desirable.
Ah-h !" she screamed, "You are, you ARE."
LAYING THE KEEL OF THE CARAVAN
She dropped the lizard, and it fell into Carleton's
Kammy next moment was stalking itinerant flies
round the sugar-basin as coolly as if he had not just
escaped from the very jaws of death.
The next thing Polly did was to wrench off a
prism of glass from the chandelier, and drop it on the
table. It just missed the milk-jug. She laughed
derisively again, and shouted: Everybody's a wretch !
a wretch, a wretch, a wr-r-retch !" This was getting
serious, so she had to be hunted round the room,
and finally took refuge in her cage, and proceeded
to regale herself on seeds as coolly as if nothing had
That was Polly's way.
After breakfast all hands, with the exception of Mrs.
Radcliffe, betook themselves to the little meadow.
Findlayson said, "Now then! "
Ben laughed. "Look here, boys," he said, when-
ever Fin says 'Now then !' you may look out, for he
Findlayson's man seemed to know this, for he at
once took off his jacket.
It's a lovely morning, Ben," said Fin; but weather
like this isn't going to continue, so the first thing to
be done is to erect our shed."
That's so," said Ben. And here we are all right
and ready to help you."
"Well, you youngsters go with George, and get out
44 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
the planks and uprights, and we'll have the shed up
in a few hours."
The shed, I must tell the reader, was to be a very
simple one indeed, but very necessary nevertheless.
Six holes were first dug in the ground about ten
feet apart each way, just like the asterisks I place in
the figure here. Good deep holes they were too, and
Carleton, and even Douglas, young giant though he
was, were both perspiring before that job was over.
Into each hole was placed an upright round fir-tree
post, with the bark on, and all at exactly the same
length above and below ground. Indeed Fin's tape-
line, or three-foot rule, was not out of his hands for a
single minute all that forenoon.
He had a light ladder too, and also a spirit-level.
After he had got all the posts in the ground, and every-
thing plumb and square, strong deal planks were laid
on top to join them. These are represented in fig. I
by the dotted lines.
Big nails and strong hammers were wanted for this
work, and by the time it was finished, luncheon was
LAYING THE KEEL OF THE CARAVAN 45
No, Fin wouldn't go indoors for this meal; and as
he wouldn't, nobody did. The sun was shining very
brightly, anyhow, so Sarah brought everything out,
and a delightful al fresco meal was made on the grass,
the only table being the stump of an old elm tree.
"This reminds me of Canada and the lumberers up
in the forest," said Douglas.
Only," he added, we didn't have such beef as this,
nor white bread and butter either."
I believe you, my boy," said Ben. Pass the milk."
After a rest and a roll on the grass, work was
The most of the afternoon was taken up shaping
and erecting three huge frames like the letter A.
Thus A A A. These were hoisted up and
firmly fixed over the uprights by means of cross pieces
of wood at tips and sides, and lo! the skeleton shed
But what about the roof? Oh, that was very soon
A huge tarpaulin had been hired, somewhat similar
to that which farmers throw over a rick; and when
this was got aloft and carefully tacked on the beams,
behold, the rain-proof shed was all but complete.
It was entirely complete when further pieces of
tarpaulin were fixed on the two sides and at one end,
but these were so shipped that they could be lowered
or brailed up as occasion demanded, so that the work-
men beneath could always be protected against the
prevailing wind and storm.
46 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
After this the keel of the caravan was laid. This
is how Ben phrased it. The keel was in reality the
wheels, springs, and under-works that Findlayson had
bought at a sale in Plymouth and taken with him.
Carleton's Shetland pony helped to drag these round,
and under the shed; and very proud the saucy little
rascal seemed at being asked to assist in the work.
Hans Andersen, as he was called, was a bit of a
character in his own way. Most Shetland ponies are,
and most of them have a will of their own.
I don't know exactly how many hands high Hans
was. I do know he was small, but I also know he
was stronger for his inches than a shire stallion. He
had wee morsels of feet, sturdy legs overtopped those;
his body was short but as powerful as a lion's, and his
muscles were as hard as a flail. He had a wonderful
coat which culminated on his main and around his
daft little head; while his tail was so long that the
flies in summer-time had no chance at all. If Hans
Andersen switched that tail of his, and even a single
hair of it came across your face, it left a long red line.
Hans's eyes were little bits of wild-fire, and when he
lost his morsel of a temper they glowed like live coals,
though half hidden in hair. He would scream and
walk towards you on his two little hind legs, but if
you said at once, Hans must have a carrot," you dis-
armed him, and the lamb that followed Mary could
not have been more sweet and angelic than he became.
Woe betide you, though, if you did not fulfil your
promise. He would follow you everywhere till you
LAYING THE KEEL OF THE CARAVAN
found the carrot, even if it were into the drawing-room.
I don't mean you to infer that carrots were kept in
the drawing-room at Pine Lodge, but Sarah knew
where they were, and if you didn't find Sarah in the
kitchen you had to look for her all over the house,
up stairs and down.
And every footstep that you took,
That Hans was sure to follow.
When he got the carrot he ninnied with pleasure
and went off to eat it.
An apple also gave Hans delight, so did half-a-pound
of lump sugar.
But, strangely enough, you couldn't please the little
rascal better than by calling him "the horse Hans."
By so doing you curried favour at once with the wee
fellow. Just in the same way I know several little
human fellows that you cannot please better than by
making believe you think them men. Human nature
and horses' nature are indeed very nearly allied.
Hans Andersen is a strange name for a Shetland
pony, and I was never quite sure how he came by it.
Names of pets grow, I think, and I think Carleton had
a favourite author called Hans Andersen, and the name
was given either in honour to the man or to the
pony; I'm not certain which.
Linten Lowerin is a droll name for a cat. The cat
who owned it, however, would have felt very indignant
indeed had you called him anything else. It was
the name of a queer old song Uncle Ben learned far
north in Aberdeen, one verse of which I may transcribe
48 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
from a book which is dedicated by permission to Her
Majesty the Queen:-
"0 Rhynie's wark is ill to work
And Rhynie's wages are but sma';
And Rhynie's laws are double straight,
And that does grieve me maist of a'.
Linten Lowrin, Lowrin Linten,
Linten Lowrin, Linten lee;
I'll gang the gait I cam' again,
And a better bairnie I will be."
Linten Lowerin, as well as Lady Bute, was there in
the meadow all day long, making believe that he was
assisting most materially in getting up the shed or
harbour of refuge for the coming caravan.
He was on singularly good terms with himself too,
and with everybody else, which was a remarkable thing
for Linten. He was and is, and ever will be, I think,
the most independent cat in Christendom. He rarely
permits any familiarity. He will permit you to stroke
him, or even sing you a song, or he will sit and sing
on one's shoulder, but no one can lift him without
But his very peculiarities had endeared him to
everybody at Pine Lodge, and now that he seemed to
take so much interest in the work, it occurred to
Carleton that Linten might possibly become the
I would take the old rascal, assuredly," said Uncle
Ben. "A cat makes a capital companion on board
ship, why not in a caravan?"
LAYING THE KEEL OF THE CARAVAN 49
Linten had gone to sleep apparently on Hans's
broad back, but when he heard his name mentioned,
he opened his weather eye a little bit, and cocked his
starboard ear, so it was quite evident he was considering
all that was being said.
"YE'VE LOST THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME,
THE work continued day after day, slowly but surely.
No great undertaking is ever commenced in a hurry,
and finished off carelessly. Everything in art we see
around us, took much care, and thought, and study.
But, in Mr. Findlayson, Uncle Ben had certainly
found just the sort of man to superintend the con-
struction of a boys' house upon wheels.
I could easily have made out my two heroes to be
worldly wise and clever beyond their years, and caused
them to build their own caravan without assistance
from any one. But I should have been drawing very
much on my imagination indeed, and for once in a
way I have resolved to give my imagination a rest and
let everything in this book be natural and true to life.
A remark that Carleton made one day after dinner
led to a conversation about caravans and caravanning,
that may be interesting to any one who cares to try a
summer and autumn of true gipsy life, but may not
have the means of building and furnishing a big and
How long do you think it will take us altogether
to get her finished, Mr. Findlayson ? "
"YE'VE LOST THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME" 51
Findlayson did not answer at once. That wasn't
"Well," he replied, after he had dissected a walnut,
and floated one half of the shell in his finger-bowl
like a little boat. Well, Carleton, we've been on
her now for nearly a month, and we've just got deck
and roof and sides together in a highly respectable
kind of way. And I've been studying lightness all
"We have made her as light as is consonant with
strength; and if the weather isn't extra stormy I
think we can complete her by the end of February. I
can see by your face you think that no end of a long
time, but, boys, there is every little thing to be con-
sidered. She has got to be as steady as a rock, as
steady as if all cut out of a solid piece.
"That is the main consideration. If every upright
was not as steady and strong as a chest of the very
best kind of mahogany drawers, why, my dear young
sirs, the doors and windows would go all wrong in a
week after you were on the road, and she would be
rattling about like an old clothes-basket.
"Before I came here I visited a very large gipsy
encampment, just to pick up a wrinkle or two. Well,
if you had wanted to go in for cheapness, there were
all sorts there, and all shapes too. And the gipsies
would have sold me anything I chose to buy."
Tell us about some of them, Mr. Findlayson."
"Well, there were some very pretty old-fashioned
vans, that is, with leaning sides and rounded roofs,
52 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
slanting well over to carry off the rain. Those you
could have sat inside and driven.
"Then, I was offered a rather natty concern for
thirty-five pounds, and the man would have taken less.
It was pretty outside, but inside there was no art shown
in furnishing. The bed took up too much space, and
stood there as a fixture and eyesore all day long. But a
would-be amateur gipsy might have done worse than buy
this. It was light enough for one ordinary van horse.
"The purchaser could have cleared out everything,
or let the vendor do so; then he would have had to
go in for thorough scrubbing, then for fumigation, then
for another wash out, and finally for painting, gilding,
and general decoration.
The big stove and chimney would have had to be
banished of course, because oil-stoves are best for
caravans. They are cleaner and quicker, and perfect
in every way."
"But not so romantic looking," insisted Carleton;
"and I must say I like to see the smoking chimney."
"As far as romance goes," said Fin, "when you go
on the road you'll find you won't want for that; and a
camp-fire out of doors, when it doesn't blow too high
nor rain, is romantic enough for anything."
That it is," said Douglas Stuart.
"Besides," continued Mr. Findlayson, "as every
gipsy knows to his sorrow, the chimney on the roof is
constantly coming to grief, and gets knocked down by
bridges, or torn off with tree branches three times a
week, as certain as sunrise.
"YE'VE LOST THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME" 53
"But with that thirty-guinea caravan and a good
van nag, one could really enjoy a very nice summer's
outing, or a dozen of them for that matter.
"Well, then, I saw some gems of a more modern
build and with square sides, and these were pretty both
outside and in, regular land gondolas. I studied their
build and fittings, and we're going to improve on-them,
I can assure you.
"The commonest kind of caravan of any, if you
could have given it such a name, was a mere tent
upon wheels, and small at that."
Quite a child's caravan ?"
"Well, Douglas, it was long enough inside for even
you to have stretched your legs in. The canvas was
mounted on hoops, and at each side there was a little
window, and one at the end. It was storm-proof
enough too, and inside everything looked snug and
comfortable-without doubt the tiniest and completest
house upon wheels I have ever seen. And the fiery
steed that drew it was a very intelligent-looking,
straight-backed, strong-crested donkey, about the same
colour as Polly the parrot yonder.
"The proprietor of this equipage, seeing me admir-
ing it, came up and touched his hat with the butt of
his brass-mounted whip.
He was a dark-skinned very black-eyed lad of gipsy
build, and dressed in cords, and scores of pearl buttons.
"'Are we goin' to deal, mister,' he said; 'sell you
this whole tee-total turn-out for twenty poun'. Come.'
As I only shook my head, he came a little closer.
54 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
"' Now I see ye a bit nigher,' he said persuasively,
'I'm boun' to say I likes the looks o' yer, so you may
have donkey, van, and whip and all for seventeen ten,
and I'll give ye back the ten for a luckpenny."
"' Come, sir, won't ye deal ? Tell ye what it is, once
ye has that turn-out ye're set up for life, and ready to
"' And listen, mister, I can get ye a wife, a beauty
too, as'll sing all day, and make the bed and clean
the taters, and you'll have nothing' to do but lie on
your side and drive the donkey through the flowery
lanes, as happy as the king o' Morocco. No deal ?
What, not if I said fifteen ? Gee up then, Daisy,'
he cried, cracking his whip. 'Let me tell ye this,
mister, ye've lost the chance of a lifetime.'
And off he went.
"But really," added Finlayson, "if boys who had
only a small sum of money at their command wanted
to go in for romance and adventure, a tiny canvas
caravan like that which the gipsy lad was so desirous
to sell me would just be the thing."
Three more weeks passed by, and lo! the boys'
caravan was complete, as far as the shell went. Then
came a long spell of hard frost and stormy weather,
but during this time painting and varnishing and
gilding were not much interfered with. Because, when
the wind and rain blew high, Carleton and Douglas, on
whom the first decorative work devolved, worked
inside; and when it was not so stormy, the outside of
MAKING THE ROVER CARAVAN.-Page 55.
"YE'VE LOST THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME" 55
the caravan could be seen to. Both lads were rather
clever with the brush ; and as for gilding, well, that is
not so difficult as one who hasn't tried it might ima-
gine. You have the leaf fixed on paper, then you put
on the size and smooth the leaf neatly over. The gold
adheres to the size, and the paper is afterwards easily
The main part of the body of the caravan was built
of a light hard wood, and the panels were painted like
satin-wood. This, Fin's man did, although the boys
had put on the first coat or two. Each coat was
sand-papered down, bar the last; the panels were ticked
out by dividing bands of gold-leaf, and the whole,
when finished, had a most charming effect.
The varnish used outside and in was the very best
copal, so that, for six months at any rate, she would
look as good as new when sponged over now and then,
to relieve her of the dust of the road.
The wheels were painted chocolate-brown, prettily
ticked out with vermilion.
The skylight on top was also white ticked out with
red; the whole of the roof was covered with special
felt, and painted white. The under part of the great
carriage beneath was painted brown, but every part of
the ironwork was coated with black, so as to be
defiant of rust.
It is now time to describe the size and the shape
of the caravan, and to make the labour of doing so
more easy for myself, and the whole concern more
56 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
comprehensible to the reader, I must draw out one or
two rough plans of this house upon wheels.
Until one begins to build and furnish a caravan
one has no idea of the many little matters of detail
that have to be thought out, sketched out, altered, and
argued over with your friends and assistants.
Before describing to you this special caravan, I wish
to say that although she may not be the acme of per-
fection, I think she comes so near to this that I am
purposing having a one-horse road-carriage of this
same sort built; and I have been a gipsy now for ten
years, so should know from experience what is wanted
on the road, and what isn't.
The caravan in which I am at present writing these
lines is the Wanderer," now so well known on the
road. She is a two-horse house, and her inside ac-
commodation consists not only of a large and elegantly
furnished saloon, but an after-cabin, which does duty
as pantry, kitchen, &c., and for a sleeping apartment
for my valet or secretary. This is separated from the
saloon by prettily curtained folding-doors. In order
to enter the saloon of the Wanderer," you must climb
the after-steps and pass through the kitchen. This is
no hard ordeal to any one, for this portion of my
summer-house on wheels is a picture in itself. There
is also, of course, the door in front.
But our young heroes' caravan was a one-horse
house, with only one room inside. Therefore one of
the very first questions to be considered was : Shall
the entry-door be at the back, or on one side between
"YE'VE LOST THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME" 57
the windows. It was finally decided to have it in the
Now that she is built, therefore, the plan (fig. 2) will
give some idea of this side view. It is a rough sketch,
and not taken from a photograph.
The door, it will be seen, is on the front, not the
starboard side, because in driving through a town one
keeps to the left, and in shopping or inviting a friend
on board the door is thus handy.
What I beg to direct your attention to in this plan
is the door. It is partly glass, the lower half is pan-
elled with wood; it has a beautiful brown crystal door-
knob, and a brass knocker of small dimensions with
the name of the caravan over it. The glass is prettily
draped inside with a crimson blind. Gipsies are
always fond of loud colours.
Next there are the windows, one at each side of the
58 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
door. Both are as large as possible, for light and
health are almost synonymous terms.
There are blinds to each window, grey flowered
and fringed, and there are two curtains to each
window, one yellow, another bright crimson. The
effect is beautiful, and not at all too loud for a
Above the side of the caravan may be seen the sky-
light. This is also large, though not very high. It is
nicely glazed all round, and opens at both ends for
ventilation. Between the side panes in this skylight
Note further, please, that the roof of the caravan
projects right over the coup, turning it into a regular
verandah. This is gaily balanced and curtained, and
is broad enough for Carleton to lie down on the rugs
placed thereon, with Lady Bute as well, while Douglas
Stuart occupies the driver's seat and takes command
of the ribbons. Although the valance goes all round
the projecting part of the roof, there are no curtains
on the starboard side, because this would interfere
with the driver's view.
Note also that the wheels are comparatively small,*
and that they do not project an inch beyond the body
of the caravan, being quite under it. This gives
greater width to the house itself than it could have
with projecting hubs and wheels rising high over the
carriage. She can thus wriggle through a much
In the sketch they are made much too small.
"YE'VE LOST THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME" 59
It is, moreover, a cleaner plan, as the mud is only
thrown on the bottom of the caravan, and not all over
The coup or verandah itself requires a word or
two of explanation. In front there is the splash-
board. That much is easily understood, but the port
half or door-side of the caravan projects a foot farther
out than the driving-side. This gives. space inside for
a glass-fronted cupboard two feet high above the floor
or deck, while in the other or right-hand half is the
A B A
FIG. 3.-DECK PLAN OF THE CARAVAN.
door and the corn-box, which latter is also the driver's
A reference to the plan of the floor will be suffi-
cient to show what I mean (fig. 3). This plan
includes the coup.
Now, in this sketch A, A, A, A represent the win-
dows, two on each side. B is the door in the side,
opening inwards, of course. C is the front-door,
glazed half-way down, just like the side-door.
60 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
D is the corn-box and cushioned driver's seat all in
one, and placed in the right-hand corner of the coupe.
E is the portion of the caravan that juts out a foot or
fourteen inches on to the coupe, and gives inside space
for the aforesaid cupboard. I is the splash-board. G
is a folding-table.
But I want now to draw your attention to some-
thing very special, namely, the arrangements in the
back or after end of the caravan. Here, note that A
represents a bow-window. F and F are two cushioned
lockers which form delightful seats, where you can sit
tite-d-tete with a friend and view the scenery on each
side and astern through the bow-window. This bow-
window is wide and large, and reaches from roof to
within two feet of the floor.
Now notice, this gives an extra space, which in the
case of the boys' caravan was occupied by a charming
wee bookcase, on top of which was room for vases of
beautiful flowers, all firmly fixed so that they would
not be displaced by the jolting. But I want you to
notice something else. You see the dotted lines
between F and F; well, at night before bed-time a
board shipped on there, and another cushion, trans-
formed the whole into a sofa-bedstead. The bed-
clothes, &c., were stowed away by day in the lockers
That sofa was Carleton's bed. As for Douglas
Stuart, he slept in a sailor's canvas hammock which was
slung from the roof right fore and aft, and which, with
his rugs and pillows, was stowed away every morning.
" YE'VE LOST THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME" 61
The small chiffonier E might more properly be
described as a glass-fronted cupboard, because it was a
fixture. It stood about three feet high, or rather less,
with shelves covered with dark velvet. As this was of
a rough texture, nothing slipped much on it, so that
here the youngsters were enabled to display their very
prettiest cups and saucers and delf, and their prettily
adorned tins of fancy biscuits. Over this cupboard
there was a space of three feet extending upwards to
the roof; well, the whole back of this was a mirror,
and the whole access being beautifully curtained or
draped all round the front, with lovely vases for flowers
and ferns, and with fairy-lights burning between, the
effect at night was simply magical.
Under the folding-table G stood the oil cooking-
stove when not in use. At each side of this table
was a two-foot space beneath the starboard windows,
and these were charmingly cupboarded and racked
for the kitchen utensils and delf generally. All was
neatness and elegance even here, and everything was
Right above the table G was a fairy bookcase and
handy cupboard; here in three rows were arranged
tiny editions of favourite poets. The case was of
polished ebony. So, when one opened the door, B, the
sight right in front was most fetching, an ideal picture
of comfort and elegance in miniature.
I may add that, without any appearance of crowding,
there was not a foot of space inside the caravan, when
at last she started on her adventures, that was not
62 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
occupied, and there were small shelves hidden away in
corners where you would never have expected them.
But I am somewhat "previous," as the saying is,
for there was much to be done yet before she could
start away upon her wanderings.
Mind I make no apology for bothering you with
details, because without these the reader can know
but little of the outs and ins of an amateur gipsy's
life upon the road.
THE FURNISHING OF THE "ROVER"-UNDER
WEIGH FOR THE TRIAL TRIP
"Gloomy winter's noo awa',
Saft the western breezes blaw,
'Mang the birks o' Stanley Shaw
The mavis sings so cheery, 0.
Towerin' o'er the Newton woods,
Laverocks fan the snaw clouds,
Siller saughs wi' downy buds
Adorn the banks so briery, 0."
SPRING was coming back to all the land, to the woods,
to the moors, to the sea itself, and the boys' caravan
was almost ready for the road.
Everybody had worked right hard to get her fit for
sea, as Uncle Ben phrased it.
Even Mrs. Radcliffe herself had been busy, especially
with the kitchen arrangements and the internal de-
First, though, the boys had painted her most chastely
and prettily inside. The roof was in panels, and each
panel was covered with well-chosen white American
cloth with silver stars on it, and all round each was a
beading of gold.
The height of the caravan inside was a little over
six feet to the top of the sides; but the centre skylight
64 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
was a foot high, and as this occupied the greater por-
tion of the centre of the roof, there was room enough
inside for quite as tall men as Douglas Stuart to move
about in comfort.
The floor was covered with darkish-coloured linoleum,
that could be washed, and over the centre of this was
spread a rich thick mat that could be taken outside to
be shaken. This was of gay but not gaudy colours.
There were smaller mats of wool, crimson and yellow,
to match the colour of the curtains. There was a nice
footstool for Linten Lowerin, who had condescended to
signify his intention of making one in the expedition.
There were, of course, sofa-rugs and cushions, which
on fine summer days could be taken on the coup for
one or other of the young fellows to lounge upon.
By the way, I should have mentioned before, that
the space outside the front-door between the corn-box
and driver's seat D, and the projecting portion of the
caravan E, had a lid that could be let down from the
side, and a cushion to cover it.
The front-door, when the caravan was under way,
would be kept open by being hooked back, so on the
seat in the centre the boy whose spell at driving it
didn't happen to be, could sit shoulder to shoulder
with the driver and talk to his heart's content.
Outside on the coup deck was a strong ring to
which Lady Bute could be attached by a short chain,
whenever there was any danger of her taking it into
her head to jump overboard.
That corn-box D under the driver's cushion held just
FURNISHING THE ROVER"
two bushels of oats, and these, you know, could be
purchased on the way.
Mrs. Radcliffe herself chose the curtains for the
windows, also the pattern for the upholstering of the
cushions that formed the bed-sofa F, F, and the pillows
The bedclothes were all-wool, even the sheets, and
each boy had a nice pyjama suit to wear during the
long hot nights of summer.
Mrs. Radcliffe's skill was shown in a variety of neat
little ways; in brackets in corners, in flower-vases, in
ornamental fans and pin-cushions that hung here and
there, and in everything that could possibly give the
inside of the caravan a home-like air of refinement.
The colours inside the caravan stood by crimson
and yellow, a pretty contrast, but beautiful mirrors in
the panels, stars of coloured candles, more for show
than light, fairy-lights and flowers, flowers everywhere,
made the whole room at night look like the inside of
a kind of movable fairy-land.
For light after sunset, there were a pair of beautiful
lamps on jointed brackets, one on each side of the
table, and as these had soft crimson shades to them,
the effect was magical.
Indeed no one who has not seen such a caravan as
this or my own "Wanderer," .for example, lit up of an
evening, can believe how much beauty can be cheaply
arranged by means of draping, mirrors, brackets, fairy-
lights, and flowers.
The caravan, I should tell you, was armed only with
66 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
a couple of good trusty revolvers and two spears, but
enough to repel boarders in the shape of highwaymen.
This is quite necessary, because no gentleman's caravan
can travel without money, and there be those on the
road who know this.
One's caravan is one's castle, and one has a right to
defend it. Besides, one never knows the time one may
have to. I speak from experience. Highway robbers
are generally cowards, however, so that the plan would
be first to fire over the men's heads. But if that were
not sufficient, and if burglars forced an entrance into
my house on wheels, the only comfort they would have
subsequently would be a coroner's inquest.
If you had glanced under the caravan after she was
fairly fitted out, several things would have attracted
your notice, but all were neat--the oil-can for instance,
the buckets for the horse, with his head-stall and nose-
bag, a charming little meat safe, and a basket for
potatoes and vegetables.
Something else besides.
You could not guess what that something was. Well,
I will tell you. It was an ambatch boat. This was a
special gift from one of Uncle Ben's sailor friends.
She was about three feet in beam, and about nine
feet from stem to stern.
Ambatch wood grows in China, and is the lightest
in the world. Small though this boat was, it could
easily support Carleton, Douglas, and Lady Bute, and
yet she could be carried easily by one man. Indeed
FURNISHING THE ROVER"
the young athletic Scotch Canadian could hold her
straight out in one hand as easily as one could hold a
bedroom chair. She hung keel down, and was covered
with painted canvas, and little odds and ends could be
carried in her, so she was handy in many ways.
She was rowed with paddles, not oars.
Inside her went all the fishing gear.
But note, she was hung amidships, and far enough
aft not to interfere with the locking round of the fore
Well, under the caravan right aft were two drawers
in which shoe-brushes, oil-rags, the keys for the caps
of the wheels, &c., were kept, and there were also two
drawers under the coup in which the sponges, horse's
brushes and combs, &c., were kept.
All these drawers were of course kept locked,
Carleton having one bunch of keys at his girdle, and
Douglas another to match it.
The horse's rug was folded up and kept on the coupd.
Something else was folded up there also, namely, a
large piece of canvas, that every night at sunset would
depend from. the roof of the verandah all round, and
be tied in under the coupe, thus forming it into a
canvas room. This was Lady Bute's bedroom, so that
the boys could have the whole space of the caravan to
themselves at night, and be able at the same time to
carry the front-door open. This was a great advan-
tage for health's sake, because they were thus virtually
sleeping in the open air.
68 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
What shall we call the caravan, boys ? said Uncle
Ben; "she must be baptized, of course, in due form."
"My dear," he added, looking towards his sister,
"you must baptize her. But the question is, what
shall her name be? "
"Rats !" shouted Polly, who was busy picking out
the inside of a hazel-nut.
"No, Polly, no, that won't do."
Several names were suggested, and at last the
"Rover" was proposed, discussed, and finally adopted.
It had at all events simplicity to recommend it.
So on a large scroll, right in front of the top part
of the verandah, the name was painted in crimson
letters, ticked out with gold.
It was also engraved on the brass knocker of the
The steps of this door, by the way, were strong
carriage ones that could be let down when wanted,
and shipped up when the van was on the road.
Findlayson and Uncle Ben disappeared for a whole
week, about the end of March. They had gone off
together to buy a large, strong van horse.
I may mention that the caravan when loaded up
did not weigh much over a ton, and the splendid
animal with which Uncle Ben and Findlayson finally
returned, after having seen and tried quite a large
number, looked just the beast for the work.
He was not so very tall, but he was grandly coupled
and built, and with fine free action.
He looked so wise too.
FURNISHING THE ROVER 69
Dark bay in colour, with good head and shoulders,
and prettily arched neck.
It was evident in the delight with which both boys
hailed him, that he would soon be a favourite and a
"What is his name?" said Carleton.
"Dick," replied Uncle Ben.
"Well, but that is only his front name. Oh, I have
it; let us call him Dick Swiveller."
So Dick Swiveller he was called forthwith, but he
really appeared one of those quick good-natured
animals that don't trouble about a name, and will
answer to anything to oblige you.
There is one young gentleman to whom the reader
has not yet been introduced, but as he is to form
part of the expedition, let him now appear on the
His name is Buffles. He had been page and
kitchen-boy at Pine Lodge for over a year. He was
about fourteen, short and stout, with a round rosy
face, and eyes that disappeared entirely whenever he
laughed, which he always did when he smelt food.
This rotund urchin, considering his build, was wonder-
fully active, and he was, moreover, very willing to
oblige. The Shetland pony and he were sworn friends,
there was nothing indeed that Hans wouldn't do for
Major Buffles, so it was determined to take him along
to be general servant, and to drive Hans in a light
canvas-covered cart, that had been specially prepared
as tender to the "Rover."
70 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
The idea had been Uncle Ben's, for in this tiny
canvas caravan, boxes containing spare clothing and
spare everything else could be taken.
The tender could act as pilot, and she could go
marketing and do a deal to relieve the duties of those
in the caravan herself.
The boys put Major Buffles into livery, and if he
had not been so very round and fat he would have
looked very smart indeed.
As to the dress of the boys themselves, it was
simply a knickerbocker suit of grey tweed that Carle-
ton chose; but Douglas being a Scot perfervidus wore
the Highland dress; only plain tartan-the Forty-
second-and a tweed jacket. No ornaments except
the cairngorm-mounted knife or skean dhu which he
wore in his right stocking.
On the 2 1st day of April, everything being com-
pleted to Uncle Ben's entire satisfaction, the Rover,"
with the good old sailor himself on board, weighed
anchor as he phrased it, and bore east and away by
the main road on her trial trip.
This it was thought would only extend to a run of
a few days, but was really necessary to make sure that
everything was in good working order.
Major Buffles drove on ahead with the canvas
Independent of the Pine Lodge servants, more than
a score of neighbours had assembled to see them draw
out, and as the Rover" swung out from the meadow,
prettily driven by Douglas Stuart, and got into the
rURN1SHMNG THE "ROVER "
main road, a cheer was raised that did everybody's
heart good who heard it.
They hadn't gone a mile before they made a very
delightful discovery indeed. It had been imagined
that, strong though the horse was, he would only be
able to go at a walking pace.
But Dick Swiveller soon undeceived them, for he
shook his pretty head till his bells all jingled and
rang, and started off at a pleasant trot which meant
seven miles an hour if a yard.
Why," cried Ben, this is simply delicious; it is as
good as being at sea, and if I were only a hundred
years younger you wouldn't leave Uncle Ben behind,
boys, I can tell you."
But when Dick came to a hill he walked steadily
up it. It was a stiffish ascent, so the roller had been
put down in case the horse might want to rest half-
He had three minutes' breathing time while the
roller was being tied up again, then on he jogged
Indeed Dick seemed to know precisely what to do
at every part of the road. They came to a long
down-hill, and Carleton put on the break-which was
like that of an omnibus, you had to turn a handle.
Steadily down all the way walked Dick, till within about
twenty-five yards of the foot, when he tossed his head.
This said as plainly as horse could speak: "Take
off the break now, boys, quick, and let her rip."
Round went the wheel, and the released van sped
72 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
forward, Dick breaking into a nice trot, and the impetus
gained carried the Rover half-way up a rise in front.
Honest Dick Swiveller had had a good breakfast
that morning, and he was now showing the effects of
it. He knew too that there was corn and crushed
beans in that box under the driver's seat, for he had
had a sniff just before he was put to, and really horses
know a deal more than we give them credit for.
A horse's life is by no means an unhappy one, if
he is treated in a reasonable way and has all his
I am confident, that I myself would never have
made my first big record of one thousand three hundred
miles in a single summer and autumn, had I not
studied the comforts of my moving power-my nags.
No two ordinary horses could have taken the great cara-
van Wanderer right away from the south of England
to the far north of Scotland, crossing the Caledonian
Alps or Grampian Mountains, amidst scenery so wild
and lonesome and rugged, that even so light a convey-
ance as a dog-cart has often more than enough to do.
"I declare," said Uncle Ben, who was sitting by
Douglas, "you handle the ribbons well, my lad."
Douglas laughed. "I've driven a little in Canada,"
he said. "But really, uncle, this Dick Swiveller is a
treat. He seems to know more about the road than
That may be so, Douglas, for he belonged to a fur-
niture vanner, and he is a man who always treats his
horses as if they really were sentient, suffering beasts."
FURNISHING THE ROVER"
Hee-haw-haw-haugham-m-m! neighed Dick as
he tossed his head.
Dick was laughing to himself apparently at some-
thing he saw in a field, for he appeared to take notice
of everything that occurred all along the route.
"That horse is happy," said Ben, "and full of fun."
"Yes," said Carleton, who was lying with Lady
Bute on the rugs, "and I feel sure, uncle, he is proud
to drag along---"
"Tool along," suggested Douglas.
Well, Doug, tool along so beautiful a caravan."
They had been trotting easily along a splendid bit
of road for the last mile, as level as a dancing-room
floor, and nicely macadamised.
But ahead of them a dark elm wood now appeared,
and into this the road dipped and lost itself; anyhow,
it could not be seen from the place where the Rover"
"Hillo!" cried Carleton. "Major Buffles is sig-
nalling to us."
This was true.
Right in front of the Major's little canvas caravan
a small mast or flag-staff had been stepped, and on
this signals could be flown, a tiny red flag for danger, a
green for caution, and a white to show when the road
was all clear. This had been Ben's notion, and Major
Buffles was very pleased indeed with the arrangement.
At the present moment, first a green flag was
hoisted. This was hauled down,'and immediately in
its place appeared a red one.
74 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
I am not going to say that Dick Swiveller knew
anything about signalling, but a horse can sniff danger
a long way off.
The great horse now slackened his pace without
One of his ears was pricked forward, the other lay
"Speak into that ear," he seemed to tell Douglas,
"if you have any commands; I'll keep the other one
lifting to see what's ado on ahead."
ON THE ROAD-A GIPSY DINNER-DOUGLAS TELLS
MAJOR BUFFLES meanwhile had hauled down his signal
and gone on through the wood.
As soon as the "Rover" got up to the place where
the Major had been, they found out all about it.
Here was a decidedly nasty hill, and near by was
a printed notice on a tree-
"DANGEROUS TO CYCLISTS."
Douglas pulled up.
"No break on earth will do this hill," he said.
"Jump down, Carleton, and get on the skid."
"Shall I put on the safety-chain also?" cried
Carleton from behind.
"I certainly would," shouted Douglas in answer.
When the wheel of the great waggon is in the skid
or iron shoe that is attached by a chain to the under
part of the van, it slides along instead of revolving, and
acts as a drag to prevent the carriage going forward
on the horse. This would be sufficient for any hill
but for one thing; the sudden jilt of a stone may
wrench the skid from under the wheel, so it is always
best to have a wheel entirely locked by the safety-
76 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
chain. This is a very strong short chain roughly
covered in the middle with leather, to prevent its
abrading the wheel. It is bolted above at one end,
and, when in use, is carried round the rim of the wheel
between two spokes and secured on a hook above.
This makes safety doubly safe.
Well, all being right, forward went Dick, feeling his
way as cautiously as an elephant would have done,
step by step.
It was indeed a long and a terrible hill, and what
made it worse was that it had a nasty bend to the
right half-way down. It was rutty and stony too.
While still on the hill, Uncle Ben turned his head
to have a look inside the caravan-sailor-like-to
make sure things were all fast, and nothing tumbling
about. But so secure was everything, that there
were very little effects of the motion indeed. If a
glass or a book is left on a table in a caravan it is
sure to fall, and well Ben knew this.
Kammy the pet chameleon was high up the after-
curtains of the bow-window. He was stalking flies.
Nothing in this world could disturb the equanimity of
that strange old lizard. They tell us that Nero fiddled
while Rome burned. Kammy would have gone quietly
on stalking flies if half the world had been on fire.
Taking it equally easy on one of the after-lockers
was Linten Lowerin. He had one of the morning
papers. No, he was not reading it, but he was curled
up sleeping on it, and that was one of the chief
delights of Linten's life.
ON THE ROAD
But Polly the parrot was in distress.
She would get used to life on the road before long,
no doubt, but at present she hadn't got her sea legs.
She couldn't swing in her ring, nor sit with comfort
on her perch. Her drop of water was spilt on this
terrible hill, and some of her seed jolted out.
So she was clinging to the side of her new square
cage in despair.
Hilloa-oa!" she was crying. Whoa! Whoa!
You are an old sinner. An old, old, OLD sinner.
Uncle Ben laughed, and she blew the policeman's
whistle. She always did so when thoroughly angry.
"You wr-r-retch! You are, you are, you are."
At the bottom of the hill the road was once more
level, and the caravan was stopped and carefully
backed an inch or two, to permit Carleton to get the
He stood by the horse's head for a few minutes to
talk to and pet the beast. The following conversation
is one-half imaginary.
You are a good honest horse." This from Carle-
ton, as he smoothed Dick's ears, and rearranged a lock
of hair that had been straggling over his right eye.
Dick: Well, master, I suppose I'm about as honest
as they make 'em. But, bless your innocence, there
ain't many honest 'orses in this world."
Car: "It's the masters, I think, Dick, that make
their horses bad."
78 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
Dick: Hee-haw-ha-ha-haugham-m-m. There is
a deal o' truth in that. But I say, young master, that
grass be wondrous green, now 'alf a handfull would
cool my mouth uncommon."
Carleton pulled some long green grass, and very
much indeed Dick seemed to enjoy it.
"Now a mouthful o' water," said Dick.
The caravan was drawn up at the bottom of a
beautifully wooded valley. There was no fence at
either side of the road, only green cool mossy banks.
Farther in through the wood were the brown curling
fingers of ferns, banks of primroses, and glorious
scented carpets of the wild blue hyacinth.
The trees were not yet in leaf, but they waved
their arms gently to and fro in the breeze, with a
sound that mingled musically with the purring of a
brook to the left. Farther up was visible the Gothic
arch of a bridge, that they would presently have to pass,
and the road would then go winding away up through
the woodlands, till it reached the higher land again.
"What a heavenly day!" said Uncle Ben. "0
boys, it is amid such scenes as, these that a man's
thoughts, if he be worthy of the name of a man, are
wafted upwards to Him who made and cares for us
all. Hark! Do you hear that blackbird? He is
the very spirit of the scene, and all this young life
and loveliness seem to belong to him."
It appears to me there is no wild-bird melody half
so pleasant as the low sweet fluting of the blackbird.
There is happiness in every note of it.
ON THE ROAD
But see, Carleton has got a bucket, and has stepped
over the boulders of the brook and filled it.
Dick follows him with his dark clear eyes, and
ninnies his delight.
Now drivers and carters and id genus omne will tell
you, that you must not give a horse anything to drink
while warm, and owing to their ignorance the poor
animals suffer much on the road.
It does them good to have now and then a mouth-
ful of water, though they must never be permitted to
fill their stomachs.
On they went once more, and in an hour's time
found themselves away out in the middle of a moor-
There was not, it is true, the shelter of a tree for
the horse, but it was not hot, and here there was a
spring bubbling clear from a rock, and as the sun was
well over the foreyard, as Ben phrased it, a halt was
called to cook and discuss the mid-day dinner.
Douglas took his whistle from his girdle, and blew
a shrill blast, and back came Major Buffies with Hans
at a brisk trot, and drew up in the rear of the big
How goes it, Buffles ?" cried Ben.
Buffles blew out his fat cheeks and rubbed his
"Oh, ain't I 'ungry, sir," he said. "And ain't Hans
"Well, then," cried Douglas, "off with your extra
garments, and clean the potatoes."
80 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
For a boy of his build, young Buffles bustled about
wonderfully. The thought of a good dinner, however,
was the stimulant.
As there was a bit of a breeze blowing here, it
was determined to use the oil-stove, so it was got
out and placed handy to the lee-side of the canvas
At home the boys had tried cooking with this range,
and made a discovery, namely, that if placed quite in
the open, it takes ever so much longer to cook. So
at Douglas's suggestion a kind of tin-lined wooden
box had been prepared for it, which retained the heat,
and didn't catch fire. This box could be taken to
pieces in ten seconds, and built up in twenty. The
pieces were carried in the canvas caravan.
While Douglas and Buffles were busy seeing to
dinner, Carleton got out the nose-bags, and mixed the
food for Dick and daft little Hans.
Dick's shafts were propped up, so that he should
have no weight at all on his back. His bag was filled
with oats and a bit of chaff.
Nothing so satisfying," Dick would have told you,
"as a handful or two of chaff. It does seem to fill
one's ribs out so."
Hans soon discussed his bit. The little animal's
eyes were riveted all the time on Major Buffles.
The fact is, he wanted to secure the potato skins, and
the spare blades of cabbage, and anything else that
came in his way.
The dinner consisted of most tender and juicy chops,
ON THE ROAD
with greens and potatoes, all of which could easily be
cooked by means of the oil-range.
Here, by the way, let me give the amateur gipsy
two hints. Ist. Always buy your meat three days
before you cook it. 2nd. Always have a store of the
best crystalline oil, in a can under the caravan. The
ordinary stuff is dangerous.
In half-an-hour's time dinner was cooked and ready.
The steps had been let down of course, but to-day,
as there was an extra hand-namely, Uncle Ben-and
as the weather continued so delightful and fine, the
dinner was taken al fresco, spread on the grass.
When once fairly away on the road, Douglas and
Carleton would often sit down to their meals comfort-
ably in the caravan itself, and with a real paper table-
Buffles was served first, a large heaped plateful.
He received his dinner with sparkling eyes, and dis-
appeared round the corner of the canvas caravan to
discuss it in peace and triumph. Yes, that is just
The thoughts that there would be no pudding
detracted a little from his enjoyment, but he didn't
let down his heart, for presently he was heard singing
"Buffes!" shouted Douglas, and Buffies appeared.
"Take Hans out and ride over to yonder farm for
a quart of best milk. Here's the money."
A sheet of clean white grocer's paper makes the best of caravan
82 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
Buffles was off like a bird next minute. And right
quickly was he back again.
"What's this?" said Douglas, for Buffles had
handed him back the fourpence.
Oh, if you please, sir, they wouldn't take a penny
for the milk."
"How good of them said Car, laughing. "Why,
it isn't so bad being a gipsy after all." *
Linten Lowerin walked quietly down the steps for
his dinner. Lady Bute had hers. Then the cat sat
down to wash his face, and the Major having cleaned
the knives by sticking them in the soft earth and
moving them up and down, took her ladyship over
the moor and along the road for a scamper.
The plates were first rubbed with grass, then washed
and dried, and in ten minutes' time everything was
stowed away again once more.
That milk was delightful as a beverage, when a
large teaspoonful of essence of coffee was added to
Then all lay down on the rugs to chat and to rest.
So passed the first real gipsy dinner. No wonder
that, when Ben lit his meerschaum, after returning
thanks, he said, "Boys, I feel like a giant refreshed."
The course the caravan was taking lay about E.N.E.,
and they had come twelve miles this first morning.
While on the road in my "Wanderer" I have all kinds of little
presents sent me from kindly farm-folks, which it would be bad
breeding on my part to refuse.-G. S.
ON THE ROAD
The length of the afternoon journey would depend
upon the road, and also upon their coming to a cosy
inn, at which they could stable the horses for the night.
It was determined at all events not to exceed an
average of twenty miles a day, and to rest and go to
church on the Sabbath day.
As our amateur gipsies were still lying on the
sward there came slowly along the road a tall, whole-
some-looking, but painfully shy ploughman. By his
side walked a buxom girl of about nineteen, not half
so shy as he.
They stopped dead when they came opposite the
caravan, and after eyeing everything they held a little
whispered conversation together.
By-and-by the young man was first nudged and
urged, then finally pushed towards old Ben and his
He blushed, like a beggar at a buttered roll.
"My Sally-ahem-I means Sally here, and me'd
like our fort'n's read. We don'tnmind a bob's worth."
I'm your man," said Douglas. Squat down here
the pair of you. But first, where's the shilling ?"
"Here she be," cried the yokel, handing over a
bright silver coin.
Douglas took it, cut a little mark in it with the
knife he wore in his stocking, and said something over
it in broad Scotch. Then he handed it to the girl.
"Put that coin in the poor-box to-night," he said,
"else the fortune will have no effect."
"That I will, sir, honour bright," said Sally.
84 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
Now, both of you, hold out your hands."
Douglas took them and pretended to scrutinise them
"Why," he cried, "how very funny! I took you for
sister and brother, and you're not related at all."
"That we ain't."
"And more funny still, both the lines of life in
your palms run the same way. Why, you'll be married
before the year's out! "
"La! George !" said Sally.
"La! Sally! said he.
A nice little cottage-a pretty garden-cocks and
hens, comfort and happiness, and by-and-by a farm of
your own. That's all."
"God bless 'ee, sir gipsy. I believe ye be about
right. Hurrah Sally-Hurrah !"
And away they trudged arm in arm, and long
after they were gone our boys could hear them both
Douglas laughed. "I don't want to start telling
fortunes," he said, "uncle, but I'd like if every day of
our long outing we could go to bed thinking we had
made some one happy, if only a child."
"Resolved," said Carleton, "that we shall try."
"Agreed!" cried Douglas, and the two shook
"Do good, my boys," said Ben; "there's ever a
But now," cried Douglas, springing up, "it's time
to get under way again. Mount, men, mount. Major
ON THE ROAD 85
Buffles, go on ahead. The road is straight and good
for many a mile to come."
Buffles drove on, and after him, with jingling bells,
trotted Dick, with the "Rover."
"Oh, the cat!" cried Carleton, after they were a
mile or two on the road; "did anybody see Linten
come on board ?"
Nobody had, but Linten was inside all the same,
asleep once more on his newspaper.
SEA-PIE FOR SIX-AROUND THE CAMP-FIRE-A
VERY HAPPY SCENE
IN the afternoon, they knew from their maps and road-
book that they would pass through a large village,
but they concluded that they would not stop here,
only long enough to stretch their legs and do a little
The caravan was supplied with a chart of every
county in Great Britain through which she would pass.
These are called cyclists' maps, and cost one shilling
each, in strong binding. I cannot speak too highly of
their usefulness to the wanderer by caravan. Without
these and his road-book he would be lost indeed. With
them he can go anywhere.
As I write, I bend down and pick up one from my
caravan bookshelf. It happens to be a well-thumbed
map of Sussex. It will do as a sample. What do we
find herein ? Why, every road, and every town, village,
mountain, and river. All the main roads marked in
brown. A scale of miles too, so that, with a pair of
ordinary compasses, I can tell, to a yard almost, the
distance I have to go to any village or town I want
And here and there along these roads I find crimson
SEA-PIE FOR SIX
arrows, which tell me what sort of hills I have to get
down or up videe fig. 4). If the point of an arrow
faces one, that is uphill, and vice versd, while the
number of feathers on the arrow indicates caution
These maps also give the best hotels. However, a
man with a caravan never looks for these. He has
a hotel along with him.
But here is my road-book, and this is always carried
FIGa. 4.-HILLS ON MAP.
handy, and referred to morn, noon, and night all along
the route. I open the book at random and make an
"Lymington to Christchurch (I2j miles). At the
end of Lymington turn to 1.; there are two or three
ups and downs, but nothing difficult by Efford mill,
2 miles (cross river Avon), to Welton Street, 2j, then
through Downton, 5, to Milton, 7-, is almost level
except a short but steep winding descent beyond
Downtown; from Milton it is generally undulating with
88 THE CRUISE OF THE ROVER CARAVAN
a sharp fall to and rise from Chewton Ford, 8, where
a stream crosses the road in a deep gully.' Very
pretty drive, but not easy to follow owing to the turns
and absence of guide-posts."
Well, I used to find these fords rather troublesome
in my Wanderer," because, although the bottom may
be good, the horses, unless whipped up and hallooed
at, wanted to lie down to bathe. Awkward!
The best plan is to walk on and have a look at the
stream first, judging of its depth and the nature of
the bottom. Then, having mounted, shake up the
reins, crack the whip, and go tearing and plunging in.
You thus get across before the nags have had time to
think about the delights of a bath.
To show you what sort of road and dangers the
caravan master and his nags have to encounter some-
times, I make one other extract, and I may tell
you, to begin with, that this is nothing compared
with the roads among the Grampian Mountains in
Kendal to Shap (151 miles). For the first mile or
so the road is bad, and soon after leaving Kendal the
ascent to Shap begins, and continues for o miles; it
is not difficult to Otter Bank (whence a capital view
can be obtained of Kendal), and then it becomes more
or less steep, passing Gateside, Banisdale Bridge, to
Demmings, and for a mile or more on and over the
top of Shap Fells, Iooo feet above sea-level. Then
the descent begins, part of it very steep. The greater
part of this stage is very bad, overgrown with grass,