The Baldwin Libray
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THE QUEEN4 IS COMING'.
GOOD OLD DAYS
Olrisrmaf unbpp Qurppn li(aftflp
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLORS FROM DRAWINGS
BY H. STACY MARKS, A.R.A.
MARCUS WARD & CO., CHANDOS STREET, STRAND
AND ROYAL ULSTER WORKS, BELFAST
I.-THE PENNYFEATHERS 9
II.-MIDSUMMER EVE 18
III.-How MAURICE WENT TO OXFORD. 41
IV.-JACOB'S WOOING 54
V.-MASTER PENNYFEATHER'S PIGS 72
VI.-THE PASTOR DISAPPEARS 92
VII.-Too GOOD A BONFIRE 99
VIII.-FAITHFUL LOVE I
IX.-CHRISTMAS-DAY IN THE EVENING 116
X.-A PENNYFEATHER IN PRISON 125
XI.-"THE QUEEN IS COMING!" 31
XII.--"ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL" 140
"THE QUEEN IS COMING !" (p. 136) Frontispiece
YE SILENT JOE GETTETH INTO HOT WATER 74
YE BUTCHER ROCHE-GOOD TURKEYS AND BAD NEWS 96
YE BIRDS OF EVIL OMEN 8
"ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL 140
THE GOOD OLD DAYS.
CHAP. I.-THE PENNYFEATHERS.
OU should have seen the great farmhouse on a
dewy morning the day before Midsummer Eve in
Sthe year of our Lord 1570. It was Master
SPennyfeather's farm, and he was but a strange
boor indeed who had not heard that worthy
yeoman's name for ten, aye twenty miles round
Sandhill. The farm itself was called Sandy's
Hollow, though who "Sandy" had been even
Master Pennyfeather himself could not have told,
or whether Sandy had ever been a living man at all, unless indeed
he had been a Pennyfeather. Had not that family been in pos-
session of Sandy's farm for generations past, and as no one had
ever handed down Sandy's name, did not this show that he had
lived before records were kept, and when tradition alone treasured
up a man's name in its archives? What gables Sandy's Hollow
could boast of! and the black wood-work crossed and recrossed
itself on the old walls about as often as the bars of a tartan plaid
10 The Good Old Days.
The windows were made so as to allow the light and air to come
in in moderate quantities, but not one drop of rain could pene-
trate into the interior. Master Pennyfeather could hear the patter
of the rain-drops as they fell from the eaves or poured down
through a curious funnel-shaped mouth of wood which served him
for a water pipe, but as to rain coming in through the windows,
such a thought had never entered the yeoman's head! But why
talk of rain so near to Midsummer Eve? In the good old days
when Queen Bess ruled the land the weather knew what was
expected of it, and held up its head on Midsummer Eve and
May Day, for all the folks danced on the green and did not come
home till morning. I have not mentioned the roses which had
climbed up the gables, or the sunflowers and lupins, nor all the
old-fashioned plants which Master Pennyfeather cultivated in the
neat flower-garden behind the house-nor have I spoken of the
green lawn with its great yew hedge at the bottom, because I
hope that by-and-by you will hear all these particulars;--and if
not, let your imagination conjure up all these things before you,
as Sir Philip Sidney said of the early English stage scenery:
"Now you shall see three ladies walking to gather flowers; and
then we must believe the stage to be a garden!"
Master Pennyfeather was blessed with a wife, who had
endowed him with six goodly children, four of them fine,
well-made sons and daughters, worthy of being of the race
of Pennyfeathers. His farm prospered, his wife was the soul
of neatness and order, and could rule her maid-servants wisely
and well; then, lastly, his six children were the joy of his heart.
"Pride must have a fall," is an old proverb, and one which
the yeoman had ofttimes heard though never taken to heart.
His fall had not come, and I am sorry to say that, in what he
The Pennyfeathers. 11
considered a harmless manner, Master Pennyfeather was exceed-
Maurice was his eldest son, but blue-eyed Annys was his first-
born. Ben, when my story opens, was a sturdy lad of fourteen,
and Eve, with her hazel eyes and white teeth, caused Dame
Pennyfeather many an anxious hour. "She was so full of con-
ceits," the good mother would say. The two youngest were
twins, by name Prudence and Rachel, fair, delicate creatures, of
whom their father would say that they were no true Penny-
feathers, and only sorry damsels. Nevertheless he loved them right
well, and would not have them thwarted.
Dame Pennyfeather came of a gentleman's family, but no one
had thought it beneath her when she married the rich yeoman,
John Pennyfeather. Could not he boast of a pedigree as long as
any knight in the shire; and, what is more, he did boast of it, and
was never too short-winded when this subject was brought forward.
The family were all assembled now for their dinner in the
great room, sometimes called the hall, sometimes the kitchen, and
which served both purposes excellently well. Could you have
entered Sandy's Hollow on the 22d of June, 1570, you would
have seen as joyous a sight as well could be. The table groaning
beneath the weight of good things--not only fine joints, but
delicacies in the shape of fish, fowls, and pastry. Master Penny-
feather prided himself on the good cheer always to be found in
his house; "Whether he be prince or beggar who knocks at my
door, there will be always a seat ready, and such viands as
beseemeth both:" the father would say, and truly never had
either rich or poor been turned from the door. The farm
labourers and maids sat at the lower end of the table, below the
salt, two of them taking it in turn to serve the whole assembly.
12 The Good Old Days.
Dame Pennyfeather always enjoined silence and decorous ways
at meals, but Eve could no more hold her tongue than a chattering
magpie, and knew well besides that her father would smilingly
beg for her pardon if she transgressed the rules-indeed he was
in no ways loath to hear her merry, though often inopportune
prattle. Annys and Maurice, who were considered old enough
to speak without being spoken to, seldom made use of their
rights, and ate their meals in silence, or listened and assented to
what their father said, for the good man seldom held his tongue.
This might perhaps be the reason of his sympathy with his
"Mother! and what kirtle shall Annys and I wear to-morrow
at the dance? my Sunday one is neither fine nor convenient enough
to dance in," said Eve suddenly.
"I must crave thee to hold thy peace, Eve," said Dame
Pennyfeather sternly to her second daughter: but this reproof in
no ways disconcerted the young maiden, who looked archly at
"I wot thou wilt look comely enough if thou only go in thy
biggen," said the father, laughing heartily at his own wit, and a
general titter went round. Eve did not like ridicule: she had no
intention of going in her nightcap, and knew that this was a hit
at the late hour she had risen from her bed. She therefore turned
the conversation by asking in a meek voice:-
"Prythee, Annys, whence got you that pot with the orpine in
it? It will wither in the hot sun in the bed-room." Annys
turned crimson, and murmured something as to its not being of
any consequence, but Eve was glad enough to have made some
one else the object of general gaze, and continued unmercifully,
"I should not wonder if it were Jacob Buckston that brought
The Pennyfeathers. 13
it. I met him near the barn, and, said he, 'Is Mistress Annys
in-doors, pretty Eve ?' Hear you that, father? he called me pretty.
But I laughed and said, 'Doubtless Annys is with our mother in
the dairy.' 'Then,' said he, 'I will leave this plant for her if of
your kindness you will tell her that what she inquired after I
have procured for her.'"
"Nay, I never asked him for ought," said Annys, looking up
quickly with tears in her blue eyes; "and I beseech thee, Eve,
have done with thy back-yard gossip."
"And why didst thou ask Annys if thou knew so well ?" said
Maurice from his seat on the right hand of his mother.
"Peace, children!" said Dame Pennyfeather sternly, though
in truth she had not passed over a single word, and stored them
up in her mind for future Sunday sermons to her children. Eve
should on the next holiday learn the chapter in the Acts of the
Apostles which told of Ananias and Sapphira, whilst to Annys
she would point out that all concealment was odious and brought
undignified blushes on the cheeks of maidens. Master Penny-
feather, however, interrupted her meditations by saying jovially,
"Methinks it was but some young man's frolic; but come,
mother, hast thou prepared ought fine for the girls, for the mid-
summer's dance? It shall not be said that one of my wenches
hath appeared dowdy in public."
"They shall have corsets of blue taffeta and skirts to match,"
answered his wife, somewhat reluctantly, for she had been keeping
this a great secret, for fear of turning Eve's head before the
eventful hour of robing; "but I would rather Eve went in a meek
spirit than in gorgeous attire."
"Marry beshrew me! that would scarce suffice!" and the
yeoman shook with laughter, enjoying his wife's increasing gravity.
14 The Good Old Days.
"Come, sweetheart, thou too must appear finely decked; promise
me that I shall drive thee arrayed in cramosy."
But the worthy dame was not to be laughed into good
temper, when her sense of decorum was ruffled. Eve was becoming
a sore trial to the good mother, who saw in her daughter's levity of
disposition much that would cause her anxiety. This day Eve
was quite irrepressible.
"If the pastor had his way I fancy Ben would remain at home
to learn his Greek and indite his Latin theme. Conceive, father,
what the pastor said."
"Aye, what said he?" Ignoring her mother's frown, Eve
"Why, that Ben should pluck those most godlisome herbs
or learning whilst he was yet young; that he might then chew
them by musing, so as to have them laid up in the granaries of
his mind! Ben, why art thou kicking me under the table;
mother is ever saying our feet should not stray during meals."
"Thou shouldest ask the pastor to teach thee thy catechism,"
said Ben surlily, for he and Eve were for ever sharpening their
wits against each other, much to the gentle Annys' sorrow, for
she indeed was a true peacemaker by nature, but found it a
difficult task with these two.
"Nay, but I know it right well by heart, and besides thou
knowest the pastor is a Puritan and will not teach 'those most
mischievous words'-" and Eve mimicked the pastor's voice so
cleverly that the maid-servants hid their faces in the ample
strings of their mufflers, to prevent their mistress seeing their
laughter. Happily for them Dame Pennyfeather rose and asked
Maurice to say the grace, which he did in Latin, this fashion
having not yet died away. Maurice was now at home for a
The Pennyfeathers. 15
short space before going to Oxford, after which he was to take
holy orders. He was a quiet, studious youth, and had never
given his father or his mother an hour's trouble. He and Annys
were very fond of each other, but both were of a shy, reserved
character, so did not mutually confide their troubles. Maurice
indeed had very few to talk about, for he always did what first
came to hand (if it was in the way of his duty), and as he gav,
his whole mind to his occupation, no matter what, he found little
leisure to pick up troubles. Whilst at home indeed he felt that
Ben and Eve did not contribute to his mental advancement, but
he bore with them patiently, and looked forward to his Oxford
career, when he might study as much as he liked.
With Annys it was far otherwise. She was always worrying
herself about her duties. Her conscience was so tender that it
left her very little peace of mind, yet she was so timid that she
dared not take counsel with her mother, or open her heart to her.
This we shall presently see was the cause of much trouble to the
gentle maiden, who was the pride of her father and the right
hand of her mother in all household matters.
The forenoon was spent by Eve and Ben in preparing their
lessons for the next day, and by Annys in teaching the twins,
but the lovely summer evening was given to each to spend as
they thought fit. Maurice would wander out in his father's fields
with a book, Eve and Ben would take long rambles within the
domain, and Annys would sit in the garden spinning or knitting.
This same evening Eve came back in time for supper with
her dress torn, and looking like a wood maiden. She had a large
bunch of "forget-me-nots" in her hands. Ben had not yet re-
turned, and Annys shook her head, smiling as Eve approached
16 The Good Old Days.
"Ah! sister, what a sorry plight thou art in! I will come
and help thee change thy dress, for supper will eftsoons be served
Annys! Annys! you should have seen the peril I went through
to procure these-will they not look lovely in our hair to-morrow
evening? See this bunch is for thy sweet head; and ah! Annys,
I will tell you as a great secret that after dinner I went on tip-
toe to our mother's room, and there on the bed, as I guessed, lay
our corsets and kirtles-such a blue of heaven, and so I determined
to get these posies. I know, Annys, what will be said of Master
Pennyfeather's eldest daughter!"
What, then?" asked Annys blushing; but happily Eve did
not see her, for her sister was leading the way up to their bed-
"Surely this !"-and Eve sang out in a merry voice-
"Annys is a darling
Of such a lively hue,
That whoso feeds his eyes on her
May soon her beauty rue."
Annys was glad to be able to laugh and thus hide her con-
fusion, as she answered with unwonted raillery-" And of thee
they will sing,
"Eve is comely, and thereto
In books sets all her care,
In learning with the Roman dames
Of right she may compare."
Eve pouted a little, but as the great horn sounded in the
yard in order to collect the farm folk for supper, she had not time
to find a witty repartee.
Before retiring to rest, and as they were assembling for family
The Pennyfeathers. 17
prayers, Eve came up to her mother with a meek face and sober
"Prythee, mother, I have a petition; grant it, sweet mother.'
But Dame Pennyfeather was not to be coaxed into saying
"yes" without hearing the request.
"I would fain not learn any lessons to-morrow. Surely the
pastor need not come. Ben, what sayest thou ?"
Ben cordially assented this time to his sister's petition.
I marvel at thee, Eve, after thy levity this day asking such a
thing. At thy age I would have disburdened my heart by double
study. Certainly the pastor shall not be hindered from his labour
of love," was the mother's answer.
Father pays him right well," said Eve, who would always
have the last word. "I heard him say so to farmer Buckston,
when he was bemoaning the poverty of the Puritans."
Dame Pennyfeather, who could not so readily find an answer
as her daughter, stopped the argument by telling Annys to fetch
the maids and men to prayers.
S. k '
-_ __ ._ "" -_ _" --1
-- --.. .
CHAPTER IL-MIDSUMMER EVE.
IDSUMMER EVE! The flowers seemed to say it, as they
waved their heads in the early summer breeze. The
gilly-flowers in a favoured spot of the garden had been eagerly
watched by the Dame, for these and the bright carnations were
new importations, and she wished all the household to have one
of these choice flowers on their person at the dance. Ben had
got up with the lark to see about the piling up of the bonfire,
an indispensable part of St. John's Eve, though, as the weather
was fine and warm, this was scarcely needed. The maid-servants
had decorated the whole house with branches of birch, and had
placed large nosegays of lilies in coloured jars in the rooms, and
were at the early hour of five bustling about to get their work
done, so as to be allowed to betake themselves in the forenoon to
the village, from whence the "Marching Watch" was to set out;
indeed, Amelia Sopp, Dame Pennyfeathor's own maid, had been
privately asked to represent "Maid Marian," and having as
privately accepted, was now in- an agony of mind for fear of any
accident detaining her. She secretly knew that her mistress would
much object to her taking a share in a public show.
"Annys, Annys, bestir thyself!" called out Eve at six o'clock
in the morning. "I would not have thought thee such a lie-a-bed.
Midsummer Eve. 19
Thy needfullest fingers are sorely needed now. If it were not for
the pastor-beshrew him !-and for his vile Latin, I would weave
the most comely wreath for my 'nut-brown pate,' as father calls it."
"Fie, dear Eve! what would mother say to hear thee abuse
the good pastor, and scoff at his marvellous book-craft ? Besides,
he will have nought of to-day's pleasuring. He thinks it but a
vain and sinful custom, somewhat savouring of Popery."
Eve tossed her head, and quoted the then common saying,
"The bear wants a tail, and cannot be a lion! He liveth ever
in his texts, and careth not for our sinful sports."
Annys had by this time got up and had approached the
window, where stood the pot of orpine. The two plants were
slightly withered, but were bending towards each other. A smile
lit up her face, which was seen by the lynx-eyed Eve, who was
glad to be able to ask about the orpine at her ease."
"What fantasies have taken hold of the sober Annys' head ?
I never before saw thee disposed so lovingly towards flower-pots.
Come, confess it was Jacob who sent it?"
An' it were, what then ?"
"Ah! I can tell thee what then! Father would break his
puritanical bones for him, and as to thee-!" Eve made a wry
face, and went skipping downstairs singing-
"And yet I daresay
She thinks herself gay
Upon a holiday."
At nine o'clock appeared the Rev. Mathias Hapgood, who, out
of courtesy, was called the pastor" by the family of Pennyfeathers.
Before he has time to make his way in, I must say a few words
about this pastor who had neither cure nor sheep! He was a
young man with a living worth 5 in the reign of Henry VII1.
20 The Good Old Days.
At that time he had been ejected on account of his Catholic prin-
ciples. He then retired to Switzerland, learned French, changed
his opinions, and returned home in the last year of Henry's reign.
Some kind patron had presented the now thoroughly Protestant
minister with a living worth 20, but hardly had Queen Mary
ascended the throne, when the Protestant clergy found themselves
in no very enviable position. Mr. Hapgood again resigned, and
wandered about the country till Queen Bess proclaimed herself of
the Protestant religion. Mr. Hapgood was happy enough to get
back his living, but alas! he had now protested so long, that he
had far exceeded the queen's ideas of a good Protestant, indeed-
he himself did not deny it-he was a Puritan. In 1558 the Act
of Uniformity was passed, which enforced all the services of the
Church to be conducted in the manner prescribed by the Prayer-
book. Now the Rev. Mathias Hapgood had quite given up
following the Rubric, and his conscience would not permit him
to take to it again, so once more he found himself cast adrift
on the world. Happily, Master Pennyfeather came across him,
and as no one could say a word against his orthodox principles,
the good yeoman took compassion on the poor wanderer, and
engaged him to come daily and teach his children, on the one
condition, that the pastor should not fill their heads with
Puritanical ideas. The conscientious man had answered, "that
what he was inspired, that he must teach," upon which the
jovial yeoman had said-
"Go your ways, Mr. Hapgood, and work your will; you
will never convert a true Pennyfeather, and I won't deny that
it will be inspiration if you put anything into the thick pate
of my son Ben !"
A small room on the ground floor was set apart for the
Midsummer Eve. 21
pastor's scholastic duties, and here the worthy (though narrow-
minded) man went through a daily martyrdom with the wild
Eve, and the dull Ben. He was in truth far too good to them,
for he never got impatient, but when sorely tried he became
very argumentative, and quoted Scripture. He seldom found
that the Latin verbs were the better for it, but he put it down
to his own want of eloquence. He came in on this Midsummer's
Eve as calm as if it were a day in Lent, and took no notice of
the children's excitement. Annys would generally come in for
half an hour to improve her French, and when this hour came
round, the pastor asked why Mistress Annys was not forth-
coming. Indeed, he always hailed her appearance, as she was
a check on Eve, who feared her mother would hear of her
careless inattentive ways and pert answers.
"She would be right well pleased to come, but she is busy
making pasties for the feast to-night. Know you not that this
is St. John's Eve?" asked Eve, preparing to defend her most
"Aye, I know right well that there are misguided souls who
are this day going to celebrate the Pagan fires offered to idols.
It passeth my understanding how such wickedness remains
"There will be three fires," said Ben, volunteering the informa-
tion, "a bone-fire, a wood-fire, and St. John's fire. The first is to
drive away dragons and diseases, and the bones are those of St.
"Nay, Ben, it doth but represent his martyrdom, mother
"Horrible Popery!" murmured the pastor.
"You should see the procession which starts from the village.
22 The Good Old Days.
No beholder can keep from clapping his hands when Robin Hood
and Friar Tuck pass by. And know you, Ben, there will be morris-
dancers come expressly from London?"
"I shall have infinite pleasure in keeping within doors," said
the pastor, "and turning my countenance toward better sights."
"I wish you would take Annys to task," said Eve, who had
forgotten she was about to read French, "I know she has in
secret collected herbs to throw into the bonfire. If they burn
up brightly, then her lover-but she has none as yet-will keep
faithful; if not, he will turn sour. Call you not that super-
stition, good pastor ? I would not do so, but would leave it
for the silly maids."
"As if any would love thee!" quoth Ben, contemptuously;
which remark had the effect of making Eve resume her reading.
Not, however, before the pastor had lifted his hand and eyes
and murmured in a very audible whisper,
"Gog and Magog !" But the children did not know to whom
he referred, or whether it was his manner of denouncing the
wickedness of the world. The pastor's personal appearance,
about which I have said nothing, can best be explained by
asking the reader to have a telescope in his mind's eye. Each
part which made up the perfect whole of the pastor's body,
seemed to be drawn out or pulled in at pleasure, and he was so
thin that his clothes could not be said to fit, but simply to hang
on. He dwelt in a single small room, over a butcher's shop, in
the village of Sandhill. Had it not been for Master Penny-
feather's frequent invitations to dinner and supper, the poor
pastor would seldom have tasted any of the beautiful joints
which he daily set eyes on, as he passed out of his room. The
good dame, too, was very kind to the needy Puritan; in her
Midsummer Eve. 23
heart she rather sympathized with his opinions, though she
would not for the world have owned such a thing, for her lord
and master would never have forgiven her.
It was a happy release for both master and pupils this day
when the clock struck eleven, and they were summoned by
Annys to come to dinner before they prepared themselves for
the important drive to Sandhill. Ben and Eve needed no
second call; off they flew like birds released from their cage, and
began dancing about the hall to practise, as they said, the com-
plicated steps of the new dance that Annys had taught them.
The twins, who always went about hand in hand, and were in
great awe of Ben and Eve, retired into a corner whilst this war
dance was being performed, but it was soon put a stop to by the
blowing of the horn and the entrance of the household, headed
by Master Pennyfeather leading in the pastor.
"Come, come, good sir, you shall eat a mouthful with us,
and then join us in our sports. The young folk are tingling
all over with impatience. We will find a corner for you in our
"We cannot ease ourselves of our griefs by beholding such
vanities," answered the worthy man. He was then begged to
say grace, which he did by composing a somewhat lengthy
prayer, during which Ben looked out of the window, and Eve
prepared herself in imagination for the coming festivity. Maurice,
who went through everything he undertook with his whole mind,
was now talking eagerly about the dance on the green, saying that
if Annys had no partners he would take pity on her and trip it
once or twice with her.
"And with me too, Maurice," asked Eve. "Ben always finds
out some other partners and will have none of me."
24 The Good Old Days.
"'Tis because I dance with the prettiest," returned the lord
of creation, who knew that Eve was proud of her pretty features,
and wished-to lower her ideas!
"It beseemeth not one so young to talk of beauty," said the
pastor, who knew Eve too well to be at all softened by her arch
looks; "it is a thing of the present, a vapoury cloud which a
mere breath of wind will cause to disappear, a snare of the devil,
and a stumbling-block in the path of even the most virtuous."
"Then I would rather not be too good," answered Eve
demurely, but received such a look from her mother that she
thought it more prudent to hold her tongue during the rest of
Master Pennyfeather discussed many things with the pastor,
such as where his next discourse was to be preached. This was
a subject of constant amusement with the yeoman, and of
secrecy with the pastor, for the out-of-door meetings of the
ejected Puritans were much discountenanced by the Queen.
The pastor always parried the joke for some time, but before
the end of the meal he was sure to let the cat out of the bag,
whereupon Master Pennyfeather laughed heartily.
At last the meal was done, the pastor excused himself from
the forthcoming festivities, and Eve darted to her bedchamber,
where Amelia Sopp, fully as impatient *as herself, was waiting
to help her. Annys followed her sister more slowly; her head
was full of other things besides her attire and her good looks,
though I would not be so bold as to say that neither of these
ideas formed part of her meditations.
"Ah! Amelia," cried Eve, in a great state of excitement,
"I am wild to arrive at the green. First there will be the
archery trial; Maurice and Ben will both try their skill at it.
Midsummer Eve. 25
My private opinion is that Maurice will not show from what
ancient lineage he comes, he is so awkward with his hands.
Knowest thou, Amelia, I would willingly be one of those happy
persons who form the procession. If I were my own mistress
I would dress up as Maid Marian, and my lover should be the
friar. Would not that suit thy fancy also ?" Poor Amelia
blushed painfully; she thought Mistress Eve had found her out,
when in truth it was but an unconscious shaft. Eve was quick
enough to see the maid's discomfiture, and would have pursued
her inquiries if Annys had not at that minute entered the room.
"Prythee, Annys, what is the matter ? Thy face is full of
dolour, one would say thou wert going to a funeral. The pastor
told me yesterday that I had bedizened myself even as Jezebel,
but I would rather look like her than like a hired mourner!"
"Our mother says we must not linger, for father will never
like us to be late."
"Well, I am ready, Annys, sweetheart. Arrange my flowers
for me, and I will do the same by thee."
Very soon the whole family were packed into a rude sort
of conveyance, and were jolting along to the village green of
It was a beautiful day; white clouds were floating in the
blue expanse; the hedges were thick with green foliage, and at
their feet wild flowers were poking out their heads as much as
to say that they too wanted a share of the general admiration.
Eve, Ben, even the twins and Maurice, were in high spirits, and
allowed the dame and Annys to represent the sober part of the
family, for the good yeoman was the merriest of the party. On
all sides the peasants could be seen hastening to the village.
They were arrayed in their best clothes, and the pretty skirts,
26 The Good Old Days.
bodices, and head-dresses made a lovely picture. The village of
Sandhill was situated on a small river, which not far from there
emptied itself into the sea. Half the houses of the village were
on one bank of the river, and half on the other; a rude bridge
spanned the water and joined the two portions of the hamlet.
This bridge added greatly to the picturesque appearance of the
place, but I am sorry to say it was the cause of a good deal of
bad feeling among the inhabitants, for there was a decided
rivalry between the two sections. If the right bank expressed
a decided opinion on any subject, the left immediately loudly
proclaimed a contrary one, and vice versa. Even on this public
holiday the village had not been able to agree as to the spot
where the bonfire of bones should be placed. I This emblematic
heap was much coveted by each party; indeed, this year, they
had strongly advocated having two separate bone-fires, but as
such a thing had never been done before, there was a loud
outcry raised by those who were of a superstitious turn of mind.
The village green was situated at a little distance from the
right bank, and as they could not divide this piece of land, the
villagers agreed to keep the peace with regard to this "bone."
The left bank could not but acknowledge that it would be very
inconvenient if at any time their pride caused them to refuse
to dance on their famous village green.
When the Pennyfeathers arrived, the games and sports had
already begun. Young men were running races, and in another
spot archery was going on. Peals of laughter could be heard if
a runner fell down or retired from the course for want of breath,
and still greater merriment was caused if some unpractised
archer sent his arrow behind him or over his head, instead of
at the required mark. The green, on one side, was shaded by a
Midsummer Eve. 27
row of fine elms, and under the shadow of these the well-dressed
dames and maidens were sauntering about, having not yet
forgotten that they had on their best clothes. It was to this
spot that Dame Pennyfeather conducted her two daughters,
whilst the boys went off to seek the amusements which best
pleased them. Eve was not quite satisfied at this arrangement,
but comforted herself by thinking how much better dressed she
and Annys were than the rest of the maidens. Indeed the two
sisters were a pretty sight. Their short blue skirts, neat ankles,
and trim figures, attracted a good deal of attention, but as yet
not much admiration, for no young men were of the party.
"Mother, I would fain go nearer to the archery," sighed
Eve, when the subject of dress had been fully discussed; "it is
very dull here, one might as well be at home."
"Thou must curb thy desires, Eve," returned her mother,
"the dancing will soon begin, and then thou wilt stay by my
side till thou art bidden; remember thou art now a big girl."
Eve liked to be considered on the high road to being
"grown up," but did not like the restraint this implied. Last
year her mother had let her go about with Ben, and she would
have liked well enough to seek him out now; however, she
dared not ask this. Annys came to her help like the kind sister
that she was.
"Dear mother," said she, "if thou wilt walk round this way,
we can station ourselves very near to the shooters and see the
sport, whilst there will still be shade for thee." Dame Penny-
feather assented, especially as she saw the minister's wife and
daughter wending towards that spot.
"See you Mary Peckham, mother ? Is she not dressed like
a paynim with that white head gear?"
28 The Good Old Days.
"It behoves thee not to remark on thy neighbours, Eve; when
wilt thou learn to control thy tongue ?"
"It is such an unruly member, the pastor says, that I doubt
me whether it will ever be controlled. Ah, look, look, Annys,
there is Maurice going to shoot!" Maurice had indeed taken
a bow in his hand, and had made a great fuss about placing
himself according to rule. He bent his bow, adjusted his arrow,
and pulled the string up to his ear. The arrow was loosed, and
Maurice stared with all his might at the aim, which was a wooden
bird set up on a pole. He was still looking, expecting to see the
bird fall, when a burst of laughter made him turn round. By
some wonderful twist of his bow he had caused his arrow to fly
straight upwards, and had he not turned himself it would have
descended on his head. He burst into a hearty laugh, which
caused the whole company to think him a "right goodly and well
favoured young man," worthy of being a Pennyfeather. The
twins, who were holding each other, and also clinging to their
mother, remarked how clever Maurice had been, and then Rachel,
pulling her mother's gown, said plaintively, that the sun had made
her head ache. Dame Pennyfeather was somewhat embarrassed,
but as the little girl began to cry, she said she must take them
to a booth, which was the other side of the green.
"Annys, thou must stay here with Eve till I return, or shall
I ask Mrs. Peckham to have an eye on you ?"
"Nay, mother," answered Annys, "I will not stir, and thou,
Eve, say thou wilt stay with me ?" Eve was so busy watching
the shooters that she did not, or would not hear this remark,
and the dame did not tarry a minute longer.
Annys, look who is now going to take the bow: thinkest
thou he will strike down the bird ?" Annys had already seen
Midsummer Eve. 29
Jacob Buckston step forward: she almost thought she saw him
cast a glance towards their side, but could not be sure. There
was an expectant silence, the crowd seemed all at once hushed,
as each eye was bent upon the tall young man who stood alone
preparing to shoot. He was dressed in green, except some high
leather boots or gaiters, which were buckled in at the knees.
His green surcoat was also strapped in at the waist, and his
attire was completed by a tall broad-brimmed hat, beneath which
his dark handsome face could be seen. At this moment his lips
were compressed, his whole mind seemed bent on one object, and
this was to bring down the bird, which as yet no one had dis-
lodged. Annys held her breath, and as Jacob drew the bow she
shut her eyes. In an instant her arm was seized by Eve, who
What a lack of courage thou hast. Ah, thou didst not
see!" Then a loud cheer arose, and Annys, looking where the
bird had been, saw that it was there no longer.
"Eve, I do not believe there is such another marksman in
the country," she said eagerly; but looking to see why Eve did
not assent, she found to her horror that her sister was no longer
at her side. The crowd had increased, and she was alone. What
would her mother say ? but Annys had promised to stay in the
same spot, and she would not break her word. Still she felt vexed
with Eve, who was so thoughtless that she had not minded leaving
the timid Annys alone on the green.
"What shall I do ?" she said aloud, and unexpectedly she
received an answer. There was no need to look up and see who
it was, for Annys knew the voice quite well. She knew Jacob
Buckston stood near her, and was keeping off the crowd from
her by just holding out one of his arms as a bar of protection.
30 The Good Old Days.
"Why is Mistress Annys alone?" asked Jacob, with just a
little surprise expressed in his voice.
"My mother was forced to take Rachel to some place of
shelter from the burning sun, and Eve has left me; she is so
young that she did not wait to consider."
Annys answered in the same tone as she would have done
had her mother or the pastor asked her this question: unlike
Eve she could never alter her look and tone. Nothing but a
little nervousness of manner showed that she was agitated.
"Shall I be the bearer of a message to your sister?" asked
"I would indeed feel beholden to you if you would tell her
to return, and that I think her little careful of my safety."
"Nay, naught can harm you whilst I am here, though I
would not that you should be seen alone and unprotected."
Jacob said the words very seriously, and Annys feared he was
displeased. This made her still more miserable, and almost
inclined to cry. The crowd was dispersing, and moving towards
the centre of the green, where a ring was already forming in
preparation for the dancing. Annys felt even more frightened,
for she thought she saw her mother in the distance. She made
a great effort, and said imploringly, "If you would kindly leave
me, there can nothing befall me now. Everyone is gathering
for the dancing, and you will be required to foot it with ."
"Shall I conduct you to your father ?" asked the young man,
who evidently did not wish to leave Annys there alone; "I
think I can discern him out yonder."
"Nay, nay, though I thank you from my heart. I promised
to stay here, and I needs must. Only, if you see Eve, bid her
hasten to me-but I pray you go." Annys really did see her
Midsummer Eve. 31
mother, and dared not be found talking to Jacob. This latter took
the hint and turned his steps towards the central ring. Annys
shed a few tears when he was gone. She had looked forward to
meeting him, but not in this way; she fancied he would have
asked whether she had received the pot of orpine. Perhaps after
all he had not sent it, and then Annys blushed at her own fool-
ishness. It was not often that Annys saw Jacob Buckston,
though his father's farm joined the domain of the Pennyfeathers.
Less often, too, had Annys spoken alone with Jacob, yet she
believed from various little trifles that he loved her. Annys was
too true to hide even from herself that she was not indifferent to
him, and, as we have seen, Eve had nearly divined the secret.
That pot of orpine, which yesterday she had believed he had sent
her, had filled her with happiness, but now all was changed.
He had not seemed pleased, nor had he said one gentle word.
It was all because he had found her alone, and because she had
kept her promise and remained standing where her mother had
told her. The dame now came hurrying up, looking worried and
a little out of temper.
"Annys! how comes it thou art alone ? It is most unseemly.
I wonder thou didst not keep with Eve! Where is then the
Annys did not dare tell her mother how Eve had left her, so
happening at that moment to see the runaway standing next to
her father, she pointed her out to the dame, adding,--
"I stayed here thinking thou wouldst not have found us
"Thou hast very little common sense! At thy age thou
shouldest better judge what is seemly; but come, the dancing
has begun, and by thy foolishness thou wilt have missed one
32 Thze Good Old Days.
dance. The folks say that young Jacob Buckston brought down
the bird at the first attempt; for my part I think Maurice's the
cleverer hit." Annys could not agree, so .was silent.
When they reached the circle they found it somewhat diffi-
cult to pierce the crowd, and had it not been that Master Penny-
feather caught sight of them they would never have reached the
inner ring, the only one fit for a Pennyfeather! Eve, with one
glance, at her mother's face, saw that Annys had not betrayed
her, and a weight was taken off her wicked little mind. She
forgot, however, to thank her kind elder sister. A country-dance
was en train, and Annys saw with a little heartache that Jacob
was dancing with Mary Peckham, the minister's daughter. She
had always imagined to herself that Jacob would come and ask
her to lead off with him-and then how well he danced! Annys
was sure none could compare with him !
"It is a pity that maidens must wait to be asked!" murmured
Eve, who could hardly keep still. She was overheard by her
father, who, sympathizing with his daughter, said that if she were
not ashamed of such an old partner he would himself foot it with
her-and Eve, who cared more for the dance than for the partner,
accepted eagerly. They made a comely pair, the strong stout
English yeoman, and the slight nut-brown maid with her pretty
blue dress and her bunch of forget-me-nots.
Annys was very glad to stand still by her mother and watch
the dancers, especially as she soon saw Maurice and Ben looking
extremely happy. The former indeed could hardly be recognized,
so merry and lively he seemed to have become. When that
dance was over he came up to his mother, whilst Master Penny-
feather was walking about with Eve. Not a little proud was he
of his pretty daughter.
Midsummer Eve. 33
"Look, mother!" cried Maurice. "See what a prize I have
received for running!" He held up a fool's-cap made of paper.
"This was for coming in last at the race," and the youth laughed
at his own failure.
"Those who gave it thee could not compete with thee at thy
book," said the dame, rather hurt at Maurice for laughing at
"They would not thank thee if thou didst require them to
sit down to class, I wot. Ah! what have we here ? Eve dragging
a young gallant after her. By my troth what a comely fellow."
"Mother!" cried Eve, edging her way with true Pennyfeather
determination across the crowd. "Father said I should present
our kinsman to thee, young Rowland Whyte. Is it not a second
cousin that my father would have it you were ?"
"Eve, this is no courteous introduction," said the dame, making,
or trying to make, a low curtsey, but finding it impossible for want
"We will imagine that my fair young coz has said all that
was necessary," returned the young man with the grace and ease
which marked those brought up near the courtly circle, "as
indeed she has, when she has called me Rowland Whyte and
I will not say that the dame was unwilling to own the
relationship-on the contrary, she felt herself two inches higher
than at the beginning of the dance.
"May I make so bold as to pray my eldest cousin to dance
with me ?" Rowland continued, casting a glance of admiration
on Annys, which was quite lost on her as she was watching Jacob
approaching. Evidently he too had come to beg her to dance.
"Annys, didst thou not hear ?" said the dame sharply. Thy
34 The Good Old Days.
kinsman is praying thee to dance." Poor Annys was obliged
to accept just as Jacob had come up and was about to speak; but
seeing her led off by such a fine youth, he turned away in spite
of Eve's glances, which were hints that she wanted to continue
"Come, then, Eve, thou and I will pair off," said the good-
natured Maurice, who could perceive his sister's wishes; and Eve
was only too glad to leave her mother's side and to join the
It would take too long to recount the various sports which
took place; there was a small fair on one side of the green, and
thither each dancer would take his love or his partner and buy
a fairing. What jokes were made, what laughter was heard,
what light-heartedness was to be seen on every side! Alas! for
the good old days when mirth was mirth indeed, and not a hot-
house plant well cultivated till it had lost its original form.
England has no time for so many holidays now, and a village
green is only the home and pleasure-ground of a few geese or
some young cricketers.
Towards evening I must, however, own that the fun began
to get a little noisy, and the crowd was to be seen pouring into
the village on both sides of the bridge-for the procession was to
start from the inn, and this was a sight which none wished to
lose. Eve was so anxious to secure a good place, that she per-
suaded her father to take her and Ben on before the others.
After the procession had passed, the Pennyfeathers were to return
home and have a sumptuous supper and their private bonfires-
for the villagers -became too noisy and boisterous in the evening
for it to be either pleasant or becoming to mix with them. This
procession which appeared very grand to the outward eye, was,
Midsummer Eve. 35
however, composed of doubtful characters, and their finery .was
of course very tawdry. As the village clock struck seven the
expected assembly filed out from beneath the old archway of
the inn. First came twelve young men dressed as archers, arrayed
in bright green coats, and carrying bent bows and sheaves of
arrows; next came twelve fishermen in bright corselets; then
a few billmen who wore aprons of mail (made of paper); and
then appeared, preceded by some morris-dancers, Robin Hood,
Friar Tuck, and Maid Marian, with their retainers. The rear
consisted of sword-bearers, henchmen, footmen, and giants. These
last, composed as they were each of three men, elicited roars of
laughter! As this goodly company passed, the bonfires were
lighted and the bright flames darted up into the air, whilst
a heavy cloud of smoke curled itself away on the light summer
breeze. Among the more tenderly nurtured there were some
whose noses did not appreciate the smell which rose from the
pile of burning bones, but these dared not express their disap-
proval of the most favoured of all the ancient and loyal customs
of the land, so they muffled up their faces or turned away. Eve
was not one of these-she was straining her eyes to see Friar
Tuck and Maid Marian. As they passed near the bridge where
she and her father were stationed, she was able to get quite close
to the maid, and she quickly recognized, in spite of walnut-juice
and finery, their waiting woman Amelia Sopp. This latter was
so proud of forming part of the show that she did not notice
Eve, and passed on all unconscious of having been found out.
"Now methinks we have had enough of this sport," said
Master Pennyfeather, who was beginning to think of his supper.
"It is high time that we took home such worthless baggage
as this Eve of mine. Come, Ben. thou wilt be wanted; so I will
36 The Good Old Days.
have no tarrying behind." Ben would far rather have stayed in
the village to see the procession return, which it did after going
the round of the great houses of the neighbourhood; but he dared
not disobey his father, and moreover he was to preside at the
home fires. This bait was sufficient to make him follow his
father and sister. He sought in vain to find Maurice; but as
no trace of him could be seen he kept up his dignity by walking
some way behind Eve. Master Pennyfeather had grown so lively
that he now nodded to every one he met, and asked any he might
know whether they would come to Sandy's Hollow that evening,
where more dancing was going to take place. Eve, too, joined
her invitations to her father's, so that it seemed doubtful whether
the large hall would hold the assembly.
When these three at last reached the house they found the
rest of the family had been there some time, having been able
to get their waggon harnessed, Maurice giving a helping hand
and counsel to the not quite sober hostler. Eve ran up to her
bed-chamber to change her blue dress, which was now hardly to
be recognized, so dusty and torn was it. Sitting by the narrow
casement she found Annys alone and without a light in the
"What, sister! did the bevy of dames crush thy spirits ?
Alone, too-and supper will be ready anon; then for some more
dancing. Ah! Annys, is it not sad that one must learn and
pore over books every day, and listen to that canting pastor, when
one could be so happy if every day were a St. John's Eve?"
"I am aweary," sighed Annys, "and would not for the world
that every day should be like this one; but Eve, I would fain
chide thee for having left me alone on the green I had promised
to stay and could not move; it was most thoughtless!"
Midsummer Eve. 37
"What! wert thou dull, sweet sister ? that is not thy wont;
come, I will give thee a kiss and thou shalt forgive me! I will
whisper something pleasant in thy ear. Know then that father
has bidden Rowland Whyte to come to-night, and he-that is,
the gallant-asked me in private whether he should lead off the
dance with thee! So I said yes; then he asked whether thou
couldst dance a galliard, and I was pleased to be able to say yes
again. Oh it will be fine indeed !"
"Leave me, dear Eve," sighed Annys, "I would rest before
"Art thou cross-grained, Annys, on St. John's Eve ? I fear
the saint will not favour thee if that is the case;" and the girl
hurried away after having put on another kirtle, seemingly ready
to begin again at the very beginning of the games. Annys, left
alone, leaned her elbows on the window-seat and buried her head
in her small hands. The whole day had been a disappointment
to her, she felt more inclined to cry than to join once more in
the festivities. To her the day seemed all too long, and the
evening she fancied would be still more wearisome.
"Ah !" thought she, "if even Jacob does come in I shall seem
to care only for this new gallant; but I should not be surprised
if he were to keep away. His father will not be here, I know;
he thinks it but riotous amusement. Ah! welladay! I do almost
agree with him. I find not myself much happier for all these
frolics-they do not feed my humour. I once heard Jacob's
father call them fooleriess,' and I think he is right-but father
does not think so, he loves all these sports, and says when we lose
old customs then we shall lose old virtues." She shook her head
in despair, as she heard the servants hurrying about below stairs
preparing for the supper, and in so doing her head came in con-
38 The Good Old Days.
tact with the pot of orpine. She looked up and saw the plants
were quite withered.
"Ah! wicked prophet," she murmured, "this morning thou
didst prophesy to me a day of happiness, but it has been far
otherwise. I have still my herbs to throw into the fire to-night.
Perhaps they will tell me something more true. Yesternight
I dreamt of Jacob, and I did not tell my dream for fear of
breaking the spell. But what a foolish maiden I am!
If Jacob loved me, as I had fondly hoped, what would father
say ? Even Eve was horrified at the idea." At this moment the
great horn sounded, and Annys knew that she must hurry down.
She had no time to change her dress; but then she was as neat
as when she had started, only the pale faded forget-me-nots still
clung to her tresses, and in her hurry she forgot to take them out.
I will not describe the great supper which followed. Let
the reader imagine for himself a large wainscotted room, in the
centre of which stood a long oak table, now covered with a
home-spun cloth, and groaning beneath the weight of good
things. Forks had lately come into fashion, and there was
nothing to shock our modern ideas, except, perhaps, that the
appetites of our forefathers wouldd seem to us rather prodigious.
Towards the end of supper songs were sung, and Rowland Whyte
delighted the company by singing, in a good clear voice, a song
"Hail and welcome, fairest queen !
Joy had never perfect been
To the fays that haunt this green,
Had they not this evening seen."
As he finished he turned towards Annys, who was so unconscious
of the compliment that Eve had to nudge her and whisper, Annys,
Midsummer Eve. 39
seest thou not that he means thee ? 'Tis only because thou art
the eldest, for I heard to-day some one remark that I was the fairest
of the two."
Whilst the table was being cleared, all the company went
out into a field adjoining the house. There, three immense
piles had been built, and Ben presided over the lighting, helped
by Master Pennyfeather. It was now quite dusk, and this
much added to the enjoyment of the younger members, till the
darkness was illuminated by the bright flames. The wood-fire
was the soonest burned out, and the young men amused them-
selves by running across the still burning ashes, and the maidens
secretly threw in their herbs, to which they attributed magic
powers. Annys had sought for Jacob's face in vain among the
guests at the supper table, and therefore was less unwilling than
she might otherwise have been, to hear the new kinsman talk
about his experiences of London. She had even allowed him to
escort her to the field, and was grateful to him for shielding her
from the sticks and burning brands which were now and then
thrown about by the young men. She, however, seized a
moment when he was not looking to take her bunch of dried
herbs and to throw them into the red ashes. They had just caught
fire, when Ben, with a long pole, scattered the ashes all about,
and with them the bunch of herbs disappeared and were trodden
under foot. She was on the point of exclaiming, when, looking
round, she saw that Jacob stood not a yard's distance from her.
"Is it not time to return to the house?" said he, as he
caught her eye; "now that the fires are dying the night air feels
chilly, and I hear the music beginning."
"Aye, and, fair cousin, I am promised the first dance," put
40 The Good Old Days.
"Nay," remonstrated Annys, for the second time disappointed,
"but I said nothing."
"But a pretty bird whispered it to me." Annys did not
answer, but walked on in silence, and having reached the hall
her mother at once whispered to her that Rowland Whyte was
to head the country-dance with her. She was therefore obliged
to submit, and when that was finished, and she looked round
the room whilst Rowland was complimenting her dancing, she
could nowhere perceive Jacob. The young girl no longer cared
for the dance, and would have been truly surprised had she
known that she was envied by all the maidens for having such a
handsome kinsman, who had so conveniently turned up on St.
John's Eve, and who, moreover,-seemed quite prepared to dance
in the saint's day itself.
"What a conquest thou hast made!" babbled Eve, as she was
hastily preparing for bed. "Would that I were thy age, and I too
should have young gallants dancing with me of their own accord.
Knowest thou, Annys, that I was forced to entreat Ben to dance
with me !"
"I would willingly have spared thee all my partners," said
Annys, who had that day learned that expectations are but vain
things. "If thou wert my age thou wouldest wish to be young
again: well I am right glad the day is over."
"Ah! Annys, thou art not in earnest ? I would get up now
if we might begin again !" But in two more minutes the "nut-
brown pate" of the maiden was wrapped in slumbers.
CHAP. III.-HOW MAURICE WENT TO OXFORD.
HEN Annys woke the next morning she remembered that
she had not found her bunch of forget-me-nots in her hair.
She was sorry, for she had meant to put them in paper and preserve
them as sad tokens of a sad day. She did not, however, dare to
ask if anyone had picked them up, for Dame Pennyfeather could
not have understood such a foolish fancy. Her mind was fully
occupied in seeing that all the household goods were put away,
and she had no mercy on the sleepy maids. Amelia was sharply
reproved for yawning when her mistress was setting her to
work. The good matron was further scandalized by seeing that
she had suspended a pair of large brass ear-rings to her ears, and
when asked where she could have got such vile trumpery,
replied, that they were fairings.
"Fairings, indeed!" quoth the dame, "let me see no such
fairings here, they are only fit to be given to one of the folks
who join the procession." After which remark Amelia was not
again seen with her ears adorned.
In a few hours the household was once more going on in its
old routine, and, alas! all too soon for Ben and Eve, the pastor
made his appearance, Latin book in hand. He was greeted by
his pupils with a volley of questions, such as-
42 The Good Old Days.
"Well, pastor, did you see Friar Tuck ? they must have passed
right under your window. If you were looking out at the stars,
as is your wont, you must have seen the lovely mask that
Friar Tuck had on. Come, you must own that you were
peeping at the procession from behind your casement."
"If I had," answered the pastor, pulling out a Casar" from
his pocket, "it would surely have been to upbraid them."
"They would scarce have listened to you," responded Eve;
"the maid was, however, gloriously dressed. She had on mock
chekelaton, all glittering with gold, and an embroidered cameline
kirtle. But the greatest jest was when one of the giants fell
down. The mask came off, and the poor man, who was hoisted
on the shoulders of his fellows, was overturned into the midst
of the crowd, and for some minutes my father said the hapless
swain was in jeopardy of being trampled under foot! Surely,
pastor, you heard the cries; they were not far from Butcher
Roche's shop. The jolly butcher himself was in the midst of
the disturbance, I saw his rubicund face glistening like a holly
"I was soaring in mind to higher things," answered the
pastor; "I would not be seen among such gadding people. I
seek but the haunts of sobriety. It is time, Ben, to cull the
herbs of- "
"Yea, yea," was Ben's answer impatiently, for he knew that
speech about culling "herbs of learning" by heart; to-day he
would willingly have been gathering true herbs in the fields,
instead of the dry mental and figurative ones which his tutor
would fain have made him chew. Eve, however, was not
sorry to begin her studies, knowing that the sooner begun, the
sooner done, and to her they were no trouble. She secretly
How Maurice went to Oxford. 43
pitied Ben, whose head had not been formed with a view to
Latin or Greek, and who was hopelessly stupid over his books.
It did not improve the boy's temper to see that his sister could
beat him at their lessons; he, however, revenged himself by
lording it over her in their play-hours; he knew full well that
if she tried to follow his example she would tear her girl's attire
to shreds, and would get a severe reprimand from her mother.
If Eve feared anyone, that person was Dame Pennyfeather, who
tried to bring up her children according to Bible rule, and had
always before her mind's eye the text, "Spare the rod, and
spoil the child." So she neither spared the rod, nor spoiled her
Rowland Whyte had come to Sandy's Hollow a few days
after St. John's Eve, and had informed Master Pennyfeather
that he was paying a visit to his uncle, who was a squire in
the neighbourhood, but that he had lately been made secretary
to the Earl of Sussex. He had only a few days more to spare,
but, when the autumn should have come, the earl had promised
him a long release from work, then he hoped that he might
once more be able to pay his respects to his brave kinsfolk.
Master Pennyfeather was most cordial, said that he was proud
to own such a goodly young man, though for that matter he,
Rowland Whyte, might be proud to belong to the race of
Pennyfeathers. Was there not a Pennyfeather now in high
power at some foreign court; was there not another in the navy,
and one in the army; in fact, was not the world nearly peopled
by Pennyfeathers and their relations? Rowland Whyte smiled
unperceived, and added gravely that he knew well that Penny-
feathers abounded, for at this moment there was one under
sentence of death for having been concerned in the late rising
44 The Good Old Days.
under my Lords of Northumberland and Westmoreland, which
the great Earl of Sussex had himself put down. The good
yeoman did not like his words to be so interpreted, but finding
nothing to say, contented himself by warmly repeating his
invitation. Rowland also impressed the dame most favourably
by sitting with her for half an hour, whilst he made his adieux,
and telling her about the court fashions. Annys was in the
room, and listened wonderingly at the stories of court wit, and
of entertaining gossip. It opened such a new world to her,
that the quiet country maiden listened to the recital with the
same eagerness as when a child she had heard her old nurse
repeat fairy tales and legends of the neighbourhood. She
wondered whether those grand court ladies were ever unhappy
about their lovers, as she was about Jacob, or whether they ever
cried when they looked out of their casements on moonlight
nights. Annys, however, dismissed these ideas. No, the witty,
gay people Rowland talked about could never be sad. At that
part of her meditations Rowland got up and took his leave,
making such a grand bow that Annys blushed, for he also
murmured a compliment in such low tones that Dame Penny-
feather could not catch the words. Poor Annys could not help
wishing for the rest of the afternoon that Jacob had been to
court and had learned to make such knightly bows!
With Rowland Whyte's departure the excitement of midsummer
time seemed to be over, but there were quiet country pleasures and
pastimes which could always please the simple-hearted Penny-
feathers, and which made their lives flow on happily, as well as
peacefully. And very soon they began to prepare for Maurice's
going to college. The mother's heart was a little sore, as well
as her fingers, when she stitched away at the new set of shirts,
How Maurice went to Oxford. 45
but she would not let her sorrow appear, for she had a little of
the Roman matron in her character, and, moreover, felt a certain
pride in sending out her first-born into the world, in order to
show that censorious circle what a genius had been growing up
beneath the eaves of Sandy's Hollow. Annys, too, felt the
approaching separation deeply. In early youth she and Maurice
had studied together, and played together, and Maurice had
always been her knight and her champion. He had ever been
ready to do battle for her, and no gentle knight could have been
more attentive to his lady love than he had been to his quiet
timid sister. Now it would all be changed. Maurice would be
called on to fight harder battles, and he would have to make
truth his lady love, and for her sake conquer many enemies.
Eve and Ben in a lesser degree felt sorry that their elder brother
was going out of their daily circle, for he had never been ill-
natured, and had often helped them out of their misfortunes.
But Master Pennyfeather was the one who most felt his son's
departure, though he said the least. From henceforth he could
not appeal to Maurice, as was his wont, for after his college life
Maurice had elected to become a clergyman. Ben was to walk
in the footsteps of his father, that is, if Ben could ever learn to
walk in any footsteps, but those marked out by himself.
At length the day came which was to be the last one
Maurice was to spend at home for some few months. The
pastor had been invited to stay for supper, and pass the evening
at Sandy's Hollow; he had assented with more willingness than
usual, for his purse having been of late very empty, his table
had followed suit; in plain words the pastor had not had a good
dinner for a week, and this was the reason why his grace that
day was so unusually long, that even Master Pennyfeather grew
46 The Good Old Days.
a little impatient and said a more hearty Amen than was his
custom. Annys allowed a few tears to trickle down her cheeks,
but the others behaved as usual. Eve, indeed, refrained from
making any pert speeches, and this for her was a great sign of
grief. After supper the family went out and sat on the green
lawn: a few benches had been brought for the elders, and
Maurice, Eve, and Ben lay on the smooth grass. Presently
Master Pennyfeather rose, and having retired to the house soon
came out again bearing in his arms a large volume.
"Think you, Ben, that father is going to preach us a homily
out of that big volume ?" whispered Eve; "or is it for the pastor
that he may the better digest his supper ?"
"I care not, if it be a sermon I will go to sleep, and if thou
tellest of me, Eve, I will not let thee into a secret that I have
found out." Eve being very curious, nodded her acceptance of
the bargain, just before Master Pennyfeather reseated himself
and turned towards Maurice, saying,
And now, my boy, tell us where thou art going to-morrow."
"Nay, father, we all know that," answered Eve, but was
silenced by her mother, upon which Master Pennyfeather repeated
If all's well, father, I shall to-morrow start for Oxford."
"And what wilt thou do when thou hast reached the learned
"With God's help I hope to study and become a learned
"Aye, aye," said the pastor, "but thou wilt find there a
crowd of varlets who pretend to be scholars, and who are but
pupils of the devil. I tell thee, Maurice, beware of such fools in
caps and gowns."
How Maurice went to Oxford. 47
"I vouch for Maurice that he will not mix with such as
those," said Dame Pennyfeather, who had full confidence in her
"But even among the learned," persisted the pastor, "Maurice
will find ravening wolves. Hebrew is taught by a Jew, and a
Greek monk instructeth in his own language."
"Then thou wilt learn puzzling things," said his father, "they
will teach thee Algrim and many uncanny things. Is it not so,
"Yea, yea, they will teach him also the property of the
circle, and the parts of the triangle, but this knowledge will not
keep out the devil from the heart."
"Nay, I know that well, but Roger Bacon was not misguided
by his learning, and I hope I may not be," said Maurice.
"Let us suppose thee well out of college, lad, and what then ?"
"Then I will take holy orders and be a good Protestant,
loyal to my church and my queen."
At this speech the pastor was going to burst forth in defence
of the Puritans, when he was stopped by Master Pennyfeather.
"No offence to you, good Mr. Hapgood, I like right well to
hear the boy speak out so boldly. Now, Maurice, I am pleased
with thy answers, but prythee, lad, what sort of a parson wilt
thou make ? Nay, answer not in thine own words, but read
this out, and if it should be a little rude in language, thou wilt
interpret it to us who have no learning."
So saying, Master Pennyfeather held out the great volume
to Maurice, who took it and read in a clear voice Chaucer's
description of the poor parson:-
"A good manne there was of religion,
And was a poore parsone of a toun,
48 The Good Old Days.
But rich he was of holy thought and werke.
He was eke a learned man and a clerke,
That Christes gospels truly would preach;
His parishens devoutly would he teach."
When he had finished to the end there was a moment's
silence, then Master Pennyfeather repeated again the last two
lines in a slow, impressive manner-
"But Christes love and His apostles twelve
He taught, but first he followed it himselve."
"That is what I would fain thou shouldest remember, my
lad; a Pennyfeather must needs set the example wherever he
goes, and thou wilt not bely thy race."
"I will do my best, father, albeit I am not strong on my
"Modesty becomes the young," quoth the pastor, "and I
am right glad Maurice is not altogether bereft of it, nor yet
entrapped by the deceitfulness of the world."
By this time Ben and Eve had got tired of the serious
conversation and wandered away. This effectually stopped the
pastor's moral remarks, for to say the truth they had chiefly
been hurled at the heads of his heedless pupils. Annys having
finished her work drew Maurice aside, so that they might once
more visit all the old haunts of childhood lying near the house,
and thus passed the time till it was the hour for family prayer
and retiring to bed. Master Pennyfeather lay down with a
clear conscience, for he had warned his son of the perils he was
about to encounter, and had, moreover, told him what was expected
of a Pennyfeather. The dame, I am sorry to say, kept awake half
an hour, worrying that Maurice's twelfth shirt was not quite
finished, but she remedied this evil by getting up an hour earlier
How Maurice went to Oxford. 49
than was her wont. So in their several ways Maurice's family
bade him God-speed.
The day after the departure of one of the family circle is always
a day of dulness and general sadness. Though Maurice had been
the silent one of the family, yet now he was gone it seemed the old
mirth had departed with him. Eve was especially dull, and only
consoled herself by being more troublesome than usual at her
lessons. After these wearisome tasks were over, Eve drew Ben
away into a wood at some distance from the house, and then said
with much energy-
"Ben, thou must tell me what thy secret is. Dost thou
know that thou went fast asleep whilst Maurice was reading
about the poor parson, and I did not tell of thee, so thou art
bound to tell me."
"Nay, because it would not be a secret if thou knewest it;
I wot that Annys and mother would know it afore night."
"Nay, indeed, Ben, look then, what shall I do to convince
thee that I can hold my tongue when occasion serves ?"
Ben could not at that minute devise a trial to prove the
chattering maid, and as he really wished her to know his secret,
he only let her beg for a quarter of an hour longer before he
said "Well, Eve, promise once more and I will tell thee, only I
"I believe it is nothing, or thou wouldest have told me long
ago," replied Eve, who, like a true woman, now went a round-
about way to get at her object. "I care not to hear it."
"It truly will please thee, though. Know then that yester-
night when I was walking out alone in the evening before
supper, I wandered further than usual. I was about returning
home, when I thought I heard sounds not far off. They seemed
50 The Good Old Days.
to come from the old barn that has been left to rot, and where
no one ever goes. So I crept up quietly behind it, and sure
enough some one was talking within. Now, Eve, guess who
was the speaker ?"
"The pastor, I should say."
"Yes, there he was standing on an old tub in the middle of
the barn, and around him were some thirty persons. Nearly all
of them were women and children, but the pastor was not
looking at them, he was looking straight up in the roof at an
old rotten beam, and I half thought it would fall on his nose.
He was talking very gravely, but I know not one word of what
he said, that is, I know not one word of the homily, but when
he had done speaking he said that if his hearers would come
Thursday, that is to-morrow, night, at the hour of eleven, he
would bring a famous preacher to talk to them. You see the
pastor is afraid of being seen. He little guessed that I was
peering at him through the beams. Anyhow, I mean to get up
and go too, to hear this great preacher. Only think, Eve, what
a frolic it would be to be out at that time."
"Then, Ben, I must come with thee. It would be an adventure
so much to my taste. I promise no one shall know it."
It is some way; thou art a girl, and couldst never walk
so far, besides Annys would hear thee quit thy bed."
"Nay, trust me, none shall know."
And Ben, after much persuasion, consented, though in his
heart he was very glad to have Eve's company.
"There is yet another thing," continued the cautious Ben;
"there will be a moon on our way there, but none when we
come back, and there are ditches and such like to be climbed
over. In the dark it will be no easy task."
How Maurice went to Oxford. 51
"There, Ben, have no fear of leaving me forlorn in a ditch
or on the top of a hurdle. Now let us see how best our plan
will succeed. Annys sleeps so soundly that a house on. fire and
a troop of soldiers would not wake her; of her there is no fear,
but it is about the back-door. We must pray Silent Joe to
leave it open for us. It is his business to see it is shut."
"Pish! If thou want doors open for thee, thou hadst best
stay in bed. I had thought of getting out through my casement
on to the gable, and so down into the garden."
"Aye, but how climb up again ?" Eve was not prepared to
do this; indeed, the climbing up again in the dark would not
have been easy for Ben, so he condescended to listen to a plan
of bribing Silent Joe, who was a new servant man, lately come,
and who had acquired the nickname of "Silent" by his unusual
wisdom in keeping his tongue nearly always at rest except when
he was eating.
"He never asks any questions," continued Eve, "and if Amelia
finds out, and she always does find out everything, I know
something that will stop her tongue."
"Well, I will leave all this underhand business to thee," said
Ben, grandly. "Now we had best come home, or mother will
inquire what we have been doing."
SThe rooms on the first floor at Sandy's Hollow were large
and commodious, but the upstairs sleeping rooms were small
and dark. A long, badly lighted passage ran the whole length
of the house, and the bedroom doors all opened into it. Annys
and Eve shared a room at the end of this passage; Ben had a
small closet at the head of the stairs at the other end; Eve
would, therefore, have the whole length of the passage to traverse
to join her brother. But the reckless girl only thought that the
52 The Good Old Days.
pleasure was heightened by the chance of discovery. She well
knew that if she were found out the punishment would be severe;
but Eve had a clever head, and determined to lay her plans on
a safe foundation.
Silent Joe was busy building up a stack of straw the next
morning, when he was surprised to see young Mistress Eve
climbing up the ladder which was placed against the stack.
When she had reached the top she sat down, and looking round
to see that no one had observed her, said-
"Joe, I want you to leave the back-door open to-night.
Ben and I wish just to have a little walk."
"Awaw," responded Joe, not pausing in his occupation.
And say naught about it, Joe."
"Awaw," drawled out Joe again.
"No harm can happen; we shall not tarry so very long."
Joe made no answer this time, but scratched his pate and
paused in his work. Evidently he did not quite take in what
was wanted of him, and could not make out what Mistress Eve
was aiming at.
At last a bright thought struck Eve. It was commonly
reported that Silent Joe much admired Amelia. This latter had,
however, taken no notice of her dumb suitor, for it was a subject
of joke among her fellow-servants. Eve remembered this, and said
in a very coaxing voice, which was meant to move Joe's heart,-
"If you will leave the door open to-night, Joe, I will tell
Amelia what a good-hearted swain you are. You would like
that, Joe ?"
"Awaw," said Joe, grinning from ear to ear: he evidently
took in this last piece of news, and he found it very pleasant
How Maurice went to Oxford. 53
Then thought Eve-surely he will do it; but she was not
quite certain even now, and determined to make sure. How
angry Ben would be if they found the door fastened! For the
undoing of the bolts would certainly awake, if not Master
Pennyfeather, at least the dame, who would not scruple to send
her husband down, halbert or club in hand, to fall upon the
"Now, Joe, I will sing thy praises to Amelia this very
evening if the door need not be shut."
"And the master," said Joe, now taking in the idea that his
honour was being tampered with. He will think ill of me."
"I will see to that; no blame shall fall on any but myself."
"Awaw," finally answered Joe, and Eve could get nothing
more out of him, and so contented herself with this.
The afternoon seemed truly long and tedious, she could
hardly sit still to her work. And this brought down a severe
reprimand from the dame upon her. Annys was so dull that
Eve did not seek out her company, or perhaps her sister's sober
ways might have brought her back to her senses. In the after-
noon the weather clouded over, and rain began to fall. Eve
thought with regret that the land would be wet, and the heavy
ground she would have to pass would leave traces on her petti-
coats. However, she hoped to secure Amelia's silence by telling
her how she had discovered her under the character of Maid
Marian. Poor Eve, she could so well plot and plan for her own
thoughtless amusement, but she could not foresee the conse-
quences of her conduct.
CHAP. IV.-JACOB S WOOING.
URING the family prayers Eve could think of nothing but
how best to steal down the passage unheard by her mother.
Now, what if her stern parent should take it into her head to sit
up that night ? Maurice's shirts were disposed of, so Eve hoped
for the best, and these hopes were realized. She herself was always
in bed before Annys came up, and very often she had fallen fast
asleep, but there was no fear of that this evening. Eve, however,
dreaded sleeping so much that she sat up pinching herself. As
usual, Annys and Dame Pennyfeather came upstairs, and each
turned in to their own chambers. Annys, however, being sad at
heart (for Jacob had not come near Sandy's Hollow since Mid-
summer's Eve), sat down on her window-sill, and opening the
casement, leaned out of the window. The moonbeams lighted up
her fair head, and strayed lovingly over her neck and hands; but
Eve cared nought for moonlight or for sentiment.
"Annys, thou wilt catch cold if thou stayest all night at the
window. Prythee, come and undress, and shut the casement."
Annys started-she had thought her sister asleep-and immediately
drew in her head and shut the window. In truth, she was a little
afraid of Eve's ridicule.
"Thou shouldest be asleep, little sister," she said gently.
"facob's Wooing. 55
"Nay; how could I sleep when thou art all the while moving
about and making a noise?" Annys made haste without saying
another word, and in an hour more the whole household but Eve
was asleep. Eve guessed it must be near half-past ten, and knew
she had very little time to spare. There was enough light to dress
by, and this she did as quickly as she could. Yet she was obliged
to use unwonted care for fear she should upset a chair, and throw
down her brushes, or other such noises as she was accustomed to
make. How silently she crept down the passage, holding her
boots in her hands! how softly she tapped at Ben's door, and how
eagerly she listened for his answer! It came at last, for Ben had
by no means exercised his sister's self-denial in stinting himself of
sleep; but on the contrary, he had slumbered soundly until her
knock woke him up, and he jumped out of bed, put on his things,
and let her in.
Oh! Ben, I thought thou wert never coming; I thought too
thou hadst gone without me! There, do not tread so heavily;
mother will hear the stairs creak." Eve was leading the way, and
once arrived at the bottom she breathed more freely. How glad
too was she to find the back-door not bolted! After all, Joe was
not so stupid as he looked. But their difficulties were not yet over.
They found that they were shut in in the farm-yard, and unless they
made a long round by the lawn and bowling-green they could not
"We shall be late," sighed Eve in despair.
"I shall not make the round," said Ben: "I have often got
over the roof of the pig-sties, and so out into the fields; and that is
what I shall do now, whether thou wilt follow or not." Eve had, of
course, no intention of being left behind, and prepared to follow.
What would Dame Pennyfeather have said could she have seen her
56 The Good Old Days.
younger daughter entering the pig-sty, splashing through the mire,
and lastly, running boldly through the midst of the collection of
animals, and rousing a dozen little two-weeks-old infant pigs, and
with a helping hand from Ben, hoisting herself up on to the roof,
and from thence leaping down into the field ?
"Ben, this is the most exquisite adventure."
Can'st thou walk no faster ? there is some way yet," was all the
answer she got. After this Eve spoke no more till they were
approaching the spot. When within a few yards of the barn door
the two children stopped and listened. They could see some lights
burning through the holes and cracks of the old beams, and could
distinctly hear a man's voice speaking with much energy.
"That is not the pastor's voice," whispered Eve, edging up to
"Could we not make our way in where it would be less chilly?"
It had rained during the evening, and every blade of grass was drip-
ping wet, and the earth damp and cold. The air too was saturated
with moisture, and a slight fog was rising, making the landscape
appear distorted and uncanny in the moonlight. Ben and Eve
approached on tip-toe, though they need not have taken this trouble:
no one was thinking of them, and no one heeded them. When they
came close up to the barn-door they found that it was only closed.
Eve, muffling up her head so as not to be recognized, gently pushed
it open and entered, followed by Ben. They squeezed themselves
into a corner, and then Eve found herself at liberty to take a survey
of the place and of its occupants. The old tub mentioned by Ben
had given place to a common wooden chair, raised on a kind of
platform: the tub was placed on the ground so as to form another
seat. Most of the people were seated on the ground, whilst a few
of them stood leaning against the wooden beams. Standing on
Jacob's Wooing. 57
the platform was a man who at once attracted Eve's attention.
He was thin and spare; his face had an earnest expression, and his
eyes kindled as he spoke. On the chair by his side was a broad-
brimmed hat of black felt, "quite of a novel shape," thought Eve.
He himself was dressed in black, and Eve at once recognized him
to be a Puritan clergyman. Seated on the tub was the pastor,
gazing earnestly at the preacher, and evidently drinking in every
word that fell from his lips. At first, Eve was so much occupied in
taking note of all those present that she did not hear what the
Puritan was saying, but presently she was attracted by the
eloquence and power of his speech. She now listened and caught
"Have we not suffered, my brothers, for our faith, have we not
been exiled, have we not hidden ourselves in caves and dens, and
asked for shelter at every poor cottage ? Aye, we have done all
this! I myself have crossed the sea and wandered through Ger-
many, seeking shelter and finding none. I have been hungry and
penniless, and why ? Because I would not return to tread once
more in the mire, because even a sovereign could not force me back
to those iniquitous Popish practices. Aye, I fled, but there were
some who stayed, and shall I tell you what was done to them? Nay!
but that would make your blood curdle in your veins. Ask others
and they will 'tell you; but this much you all know-how that
those steadfast ones who would not give up their faith were thrown
into dungeons, noisome holes, dark, loathsome corners. Some were
kept there loaded with irons; some were tied to the stocks, and left
there for hours, fastened with manacles and fetters; some whipped,
some beaten with rods, some buffetted with fists. But enough of
this : they suffered for the faith, and would not return to the
religion which could order. such cruelties. They are the blessed,
58 The Good Old Days.
and we have to follow their example. When our gracious sovereign,
whom God preserve, ascended the throne, the exiled heard from
afar of her goodness, and came flocking back to the old land.
Did they find Popish faith and Popish customs extinguished by
the blood that had been shed ? Alas! the name only had been
effaced. The church has still her foes to fight against. Every-
where there can be found signs that Popery is not rooted out.
The so-called rulers of the church have once more lifted up their
voices, and are telling the clergy what they shall do within their
church, and how they shall do it, instead of allowing each one to
follow the path pointed out to him by his conscience. Very soon
greater tyranny will follow, and the blood of those martyrs will
have been shed in vain. Nay, but it shall not be in vain: if each
true believer will stand firm, what cannot we accomplish ?-
anything and everything. Take your Bible and let that guide you,
aided by your conscience."
There was quite a murmur of applause when the preacher got
down from his platform. This he had to do very carefully, for
none of it seemed very secure; indeed, as it was, he nearly fell into
the arms of Mr. Hapgood. Then came a great shaking of hands,
in the which the pastor joined, forgetting that he was not the man
of consequence himself, so much had he identified himself with his
friend. In the general bustle Ben and Eve were nearly suffocated
by being flattened against the wall: this proceeding very much
hurt Ben's inner feelings and Eve's outward sensations. On the
whole, they had not found this secret meeting much fun, and the
heat of the barn had made them very sleepy, and not at all inclined
to turn out into the dark night and walk home. There was also some
difficulty as to how they should get out of the barn at all without
being discovered, for Mr. Hapgood, after having shaken hands all
7acob's Wooing. 59
round within the building, had now stationed himself at the door-
way in order to repeat the process. Eve was fairly puzzled. How
could she and Ben pass unnoticed ? for if the pastor shook hands,
he certainly would recognize them. (They had escaped the first
"We must run quickly past him," she whispered at last to
her brother: "only one at a time: now you must go first and wait
for me round the corner of the barn." Ben was only too glad, and
with a great deal of unnecessary noise he dashed past his tutor.
Eve saw at once that this had been a bad plan, for Mr. Hapgood
having stretched out his hand, expecting the next comer to seize it
and give it a hearty shake, found that the hand remained stretched
out, but not taken, and moreover, that some one had rushed by
him, treading with much violence on his foot in so doing. He
rubbed his eyes and began to say something about "a strange
apparition," when Eve, thinking it best not to tarry longer, darted
past the bewildered pastor. "It is a spy! a spy!" said he.
Immediately the cry was taken up, and about half a dozen people
who still remained in the barn ran out in order to give chase. Poor
Eve! she heard the cry, and fear gave her strength. She never
paused to find Ben, but flew on straight before her into the night.
She heard the shouts of her pursuers, but the darkness which
hindered her also impeded their progress. She was, however,
crossing a field, and the wet mould clung to her shoes, and she
could not run. She was not aware, moreover, that she was flying
away in the wrong direction: her mind was solely occupied with
the thought of her mother. What would Dame Pennyfeather say
if Eve were taken by one of the common people as a spy? (In
those days it was no joke to be even thought a spy.) Then her
father-what would he say to her having attended this meeting?
60 The Good Old Days.
Eve repented heartily as she struggled through that heavy field.
She heard steps: some runner was coming quite close to her. Oh!
she must elude him; she must run on till she came to a hedge,
where she could crouch down. Alas! at that moment Eve fell
over a big stone, and was so much shaken that for a few seconds
she could not raise herself up. Before she had collected her ideas
a hand had seized her, and some one was helping her to rise.
"By my troth! whom have we here? A maiden!" A thrill of
pleasure ran through poor Eve's chilled veins. She said hurriedly,
"Oh, Jacob Buckston! it is you: Prythee, good Jacob, I beseech
you to take me out of the path of those vile people : I will do
anything for thee if thou wilt." Jacob laughed heartily, which
wounded poor Eve's vanity. He, however, had helped her on her
feet again, and was now trying to reassure the frightened girl
"This is no fit night for you to be walking about, and alone
too! but it was indeed a fine sight to see how you frightened the
pastor!" and Jacob laughed again at the recollection. Eve was
silent and pouted.
"To speak seriously, Mistress Eve, may I ask your intentions,
for this is not the way home ? Does Dame Pennyfeather know of
this midnight walk? I should scarce think she would approve
of her daughter turning Puritan."
"Neither would Annys care to hear you were there," said Eve,
"That is another matter. I went with my father, who is too
old to guide himself in the dark." Jacob forgot that he was talking
to a young girl; he remembered only that she was Annys' sister,
and therefore wished to justify himself. He had given her his arm,
and they were now retracing their steps. After a little silence
Jacob's Wooing. 61
"It passeth my understanding how such a frolic entered your
head. But it was fortunate I was there. Yet I did not see you
during the meeting."
"If you come with your father I may come with my brother,"
and Eve tossed her head. The truth was that she was beginning
to be very much ashamed of herself; she had tasted her apple, and
found it sour.
"What! Ben is here too! Why did he leave you in this
"Ply me not with so many questions, only let us walk faster,
and, good Jacob, will you promise me not to breathe a word about
having seen me to my mother ? As to those poor cravens who will
not say their 'say in the broad daylight, make up some cock-and-bull
story for them." There was a silence; then Jacob said gravely,
"A man must ever speak the truth, Mistress Eve; if not, he is
debased in his own eyes-when that happens things are come to
a sorry pass."
But you need say nothing, and no one will ask."
"But in after years, should it ooze out, Dame Pennyfeather
would think of me as a dishonourable fellow, and I could not look
her in the face. Nay, nay, Mistress Eve, had not you best make
a clean breast of it and confess your fault ?"
I could not, I could not," said poor Eve, now quite humble.
"You do not know my mother, she is so stern, and has such strict
ideas of a girl's conduct. Annys would never have done such
a thing; and indeed I meant no harm."
"Aye, truly;" and by this Jacob meant that he knew well that
Annys would never have dreamt of escaping at night for a frolic.
Presently Eve, who was almost crying, said humbly,
"Then, Jacob, I know what must be done to ease your con-
62 The Good Old Days.
science. If you will come to-morrow into the bowling-green I will
tell Annys to go there, and you shall tell her yourself. Annys
may do as seems to her good about telling our mother." Eve knew
well that she could easily work on Annys' feelings, and thus hoped
to get out of the scrape altogether. Her spirits rose with this idea,
and it was in her usual tone she said,
"Jacob, was it all true what that man was saying ? If so, I do
not wonder much at there being discontent in these days. Though
what he finds of Popish practices in our village church I am at
a loss to guess."
"There are many things not to his mind. Some of them would
even do away with the sign of the cross in baptism, and of the ring
in marriage. All form and ceremony is odious to them."
"Why, Jacob, I thought that you yourself were a Puritan."
"There is no pledge which binds the Puritans, Mistress Eve.
They say that conscience should guide us; if so be that that forms
a Puritan, then I am one; but if you mean that I would wish to
abolish both state and church, then God forefend that I should be
called a Puritan; but come now, here we are approaching Sandy's
Hollow, and in this chill autumn air it is not good to tarry about."
Ben and I cut our way short by climbing over the pig-sties and
so out from the farmyard. Maybe you would give me a helping
hand up again, then I should not trouble you further." But Jacob
quite declined this feat, and conducted the maiden round by the
lawn, and from thence led her to the back door! How dark and
silent was everything; a sudden fear took hold of the usually
courageous Eve. Jacob gave her his hand at parting, and she shook
it warmly. "Thank you, Jacob, you have been very kind. But
what of your father ? and what shall you say to him ?"
7acob's Wooing. 63
"He will have gone home with some neighbour, and I promise
he shall know naught about the runaway lady."
If you should meet Ben, you will tell him of my safety."
"Ben shall find out what he likes," returned Jacob; "he will
not die if he is a little frightened, and it will teach him to mend
his ways." So saying, he went off with quick steps, and Eve,
feeling very much like a thief, stole upstairs, and so into her own
chamber. All she had on was so bespotted with mud that she was
obliged to conceal everything beneath a large shawl, and soon after
the weary girl fell asleep, little thinking that Ben had been in half
an hour before. Not having seen his sister, and, moreover, hearing
the outcry, he had made the best of his way home, and was already
wrapped in the arms of Morpheus.
Eve's punishment (for concealment is a real trial to the natu-
rally open nature) was not over. The next morning, when Amelia
came into the chamber, she was full of amazement at the most
extraordinary circumstances which had taken place during the
"Ah Mistress Annys, I will never believe but that the house
is haunted. I woke up in the dead of the night, and such a tramping
on the stairs that my blood became frozen in my veins. I sat up
and listened, and then I heard the tread of a multitude of feet in
the garden, and then I buried my head in the coverlet and nearly
"It is well thou art alive to tell the tale," said Annys, smiling.
"Nay, but this is not all; this morning, Anne has found foot-
marks on the stairs, and enough real earth that would serve for
a man's grave."
"Or a ghost's, thou timorous Amelia."
"You may laugh, Mistress Annys, but I say it is no laughing
64 The Good Old Days.
matter; I would rather lie in my grave than pass such another
"Or perhaps thou wouldest rather go out merry-making, and
figure as Maid Marian," put in Eve crossly; "come, enough of thy
Amelia blushed scarlet, but said not another word about the
mud. She at once divined that Eve had found her out, and more-
over, that for some reason nothing was to be said about the night's
disturbances, if she wanted not herself to get into disgrace. Eve
congratulated herself on having escaped the only mode of dis-
covery that had entered her head; but neither she nor Ben were
prepared for Master Pennyfeather's sour looks at breakfast. The
cause of these looks had occurred before that meal, when the
yeoman was making his morning's survey of the farm. The
autumn was already far advanced-many of the trees were bare,
and there was nothing which could tempt Master Pennyfeather
to linger long over his inspection of his live-stock. But as he
passed the pig-sty which contained his best sow, behold the sty
door was open and the little pigs were nowhere to be seen! Silent
Joe had not yet come round with their morning meal, so the
yeoman concluded that he had carelessly left it unfastened the
previous evening. I am sorry to say he became very wroth within
himself, and seeing a lad lingering about sent him at once to find
the delinquent. Silent Joe was again at work at his stack, and
being summoned, appeared, pitchfork in hand, before his master, who
was standing in the sty. His face did not, however, express any
surprise at seeing his master's state of mind.
"Sirrah! what mean you by your carelessness? Look what
damage has been done. The pigs gone, and who knows where or
when they will be found."
Yacob's Wooing. 65
"Awaw !" replied the silent one unmoved.
"A plague on you, man. Have you no explanation to give
Silent Joe put his thumb under his chin, and took hold of it,
seemingly trying to remember what he had or had not done the
evening before; but evidently his memory could not recall such
a long past period, so he only shook his head slowly. Master
Pennyfeather, seeing he could get nothing further out of him,
calmed down, thinking him more fool than knave; so saying he
had best hasten himself and seek for the wanderers, he took himself
back to the house with the sour looks before mentioned.
Whilst Ben and Eve were lingering about before the arrival
of the pastor, they heard their father lament Joe's carelessness to
the dame, and assure this latter that he had taken the man to be
a trusty fool, but now he found that he had no head as well as no
wits, and that he had a great mind to part with him. Poor Eve
bitterly reproached herself, for she had no unkind feelings towards
Joe, and would willingly have spoken out and told her father
everything; but the dame's presence restrained her then, and every
minute made free confession more difficult and impossible. Ben
took the whole affair most easily, and had found time to whisper
to his sister that she had acted very foolishly on the previous night.
Eve did not deny the statement; still it never improves the temper
to be told something which one knows to be true, about personal
shortcomings. Eve found out that it is very unpleasant to be cross
with one's self; she began to understand what Jacob meant by
being debased in one's own eyes. Before going to join Ben and
the pastor, Eve went in search of Annys. She was helping
her mother to mend some precious household linen, and hardly
looked up when Eve said-
66 The Good Old Days.
"Prythee, Annys, wilt thou go to the bowling-green at eleven
o'clock ? I was told to tell thee."
Annys answered "Yes," thinking the message came from her
father, who often wanted her to come to him to take back direc-
tions to Dame Pennyfeather. Eve waited not to be questioned,
but hastily joined the pastor, who could not imagine why his pupil
was so wonderfully subdued. Once or twice a mischievous feeling
came over her. She would dearly have loved to have inquired
about the meeting and the supposed spy, but she restrained her
tongue, knowing that the pastor would at once inform against her.
"Annys, it is eleven of the clock," quoth Dame Pennyfeather
at last. "Go, seek thy father, and after that thou mayest read thy
French; I shall want thee no more;" and thus the mother
dismissed her daughter from her thoughts, little dreaming who it
was she had sent her to meet. Annys put away her work, and
slipping on her pattens, for the ground would be wet on the
bowling-green, thought she, the maiden tripped out. She walked
down: the path of the old garden at the end of which stood the
sun-dial, crossed the lawn, and turned in past the yew hedge on to
the bowling-green. This was a long smooth bit of lawn, on both
sides of which rose the tall yew hedge. A small path ran beneath
the hedge, and at one end was a tiny arbour. Annys looked up
and down, but could see no one. The sun was shining and making
the many rain and dew drops to flash back blue, yellow, and red.
The birds were having a morning concert, the invitations to which
performance were given out gratis. Some smaller ones were
darting, or rather springing along the grass and the path, in their
own peculiar fashion, looking for worms. Annys had an eye for
beauty, and sauntering towards the arbour began plucking some
late monthly roses, thinking she would wait a few minutes to see
yacob's Wooing. 67
if her father made his appearance. After a few moments she
heard a step, but as she was struggling with a rosebud she did not
look up till the footsteps paused; then she exclaimed-
"There, father, I have hurt my fingers picking this, but I would
"You should have waited till I came, Mistress Annys;" and
the girl started, and turning round beheld Jacob Buckston.
"I had been told it was my father I should meet; that is,"
added Annys, always most truthful, "I understood I was to see
Jacob saw her troubled face, and said at once-
"Then the scapegrace did not tell you; indeed I might have
guessed as much, as she bid me come here for the purpose of
"Who then ? Not Eve ? What has she been doing ?"
"Be not astounded, fair Mistress Annys, it has ended happily,
though I must own I was much alarmed at first; for had any but
myself found her I know not what they might have thought." He
then related what had happened, finishing with his promise to tell
only Annys, and to let her follow her own counsels for the rest.
"Only be lenient," pleaded Jacob, who loved Eve for Annys
sake, and would not that through him the maiden should be well
chid, as she indeed deserved to be.
"Do you then think me so hard-hearted ?" replied Annys, with
a little tremble of the red lips.
"Not a whit; I think that ofttimes you lean on the other
Annys answered nothing; she felt herself in a dream, and
yet it was almost like a night-mare. There was something which
prevented her from speaking. She would fain have answered from
68 The Good Old Days.
the depth of her heart, but no reply would come. When she did
speak, the words were not what she intended.
"Then you too were attending the secret meeting. My father
laughs about them in public, but in private he laments over them,
and says they will lead to harm. He says, moreover, that we owe
obedience to the sovereign, and that these meetings are dis-
honourable, and unworthy of true men." Jacob looked hurt, but
"There may be two sides to every question. Will you not
grant that, Mistress Annys ? Last night it was the great and good
man Mr. Fox who himself addressed the meeting. You were too
young to understand the miseries endured by the poor Protestants
in the last reign; but the sore is still fresh in the minds of many
men. They do not forget what they suffered, and now they would
fain prevent the possibility of a recurrence of those persecutions."
"Yes, you may be right; but I mind having heard father say
that many of those 'martyrs' provoked the authorities. Nay, that
they even courted death."
Men's minds are seldom evenly balanced, Mistress Annys;
besides, in this reign there has been much provocation; Sampson
and the worthy Humphrey were dismissed from the colleges at
Oxford, and that violence has done much harm to the cause of the
church. But I came not here to dissert upon the affairs of the
Puritans. I am only a half-hearted champion. I wish you had
heard Mr. Fox. Even your sister was struck with his earnestness."
"What would my father say ?" answered Annys, laughing;
"know you not that he can be very bitter against the disobedience
of that party, as he calls it ?"
"I know it too well, and that is why-" he paused, and the
colour mounted to the soft cheeks of the maiden. She knew by
yacob's Wooing. 69
instinct what Jacob wished to say, but she did not mind biding his
time to hear it. She did not help him by word or look. "That is
why," repeated Jacob, "I have not spoken what has so often been
on my lips, what methinks you must have seen ere this in my
eyes; but the thought of your father-Ah! Mistress Annys, you
may have thought me to blame; you may even have doubted of
my love, if such a doubt could enter your mind; even now I dare
not tell you what is in my heart. I hear you say beforehand that
it is impossible, that I may not love you."
"I could not say that," said Annys, in a very low voice.
Jacob seemed hardly to hear her remark as he continued : I have
no right to tell you this, but for this meeting which neither of us
sought. I would not have done so, but by my troth I could not
keep it in. Yet you shall not say that Jacob could do an ungentle
thing; if so, I should not be worthy of you. I will straightways
to your father and tell him-implore him to think twice before he
reject my suit. I have so long dreaded what would be his answer
that I put off till this moment. Then came the thought that
perhaps I was not loved. I cannot court you like the gallants
who have fair speeches at their fingers' ends, but I know that I
could love you far better. Annys will you not believe this ?"
Annys did not wish to doubt, and felt far too happy to
think about what her father would say. Unlike Jacob she was
content with the present happiness, as she held out her hand and
they walked on together down the little path, where there was only
just room enough for the two side by side. Moments of perfect
happiness are so rare, they so seldom can be repeated, that on
looking back we often wonder why we did not make a better use,
or what we think a better use of them when they were ours. We
would have said so much more had we guessed what circumstances
70 The Good Old Days.
would follow, and then we upbraid ourselves bitterly for having
wasted those golden, but, alas! winged moments which can never
"Mistress Annys has of late lost her zeal for the French
language," murmured the pastor, as Ben's stupidity put him in
mind of his more docile pupil "It is a bad sign when the spirit
wearies of useful study, and refuses to imbibe the wholesome
draught of learning."
My mind would rather occupy itself with other things besides
those vile books," said Ben. "If I were as old as Annys I would
never open another; that will be my desire when I am a man."
"Except the Bible, Benjamin," replied the pastor, sternly.
Nay, I would go to church and hear what is appointed for me
"There is Annys walking up the lawn," cried Eve, who had
been looking out for her sister for the last half hour; "may I not
run and warn her that you are at leisure ? There too is Jacob
Buckston with her. Look, Ben !"
"A godly young man," quoth the pastor, "and one from whom
she may learn much good."
"He is not a Puritan at heart, though," responded the heedless
Eve; he told me so himself, and I rejoice to hear it."
"What say you?" cried the pastor with unusual warmth;
" my ears deceive me, or it is an invention of your tongue."
"Yes, yes, I dare say;" and Eve, surprised at her quiet tutor,
was glad to escape in order to carry her message to Annys.
"Annys, dear Annys, have you heard? whispered Eve, with-
out taking notice of Jacob; "and you will not tell of me. It was
but a piece of sport, truly it shall not happen again."
Annys was too happy to be able to chide much: she, however,
jacob's Wooing. 71
said laughingly, "Jacob will think but ill of me for having let thee
escape from so near to me, and ill of thee for getting into such
"But you will not think very ill of me," pleaded Eve. Since
last night Jacob had grown in her estimation: she really respected
him, and this was indeed wonderful on her part.
I could not think ill of one who had been the cause of my
happiness. What sayest thou, Annys ?"
Eve now took in the state of affairs, and a curious expression
overspread her countenance. "But my father! Oh Annys! he will
ask what took thee to the bowling-green, and then it will all out."
The prospect was gloomy, indeed, to Eve, who had thought
herself out of the wood. She now remembered her message, and
said that Annys had better come, or their mother might find out
she had been out.
"Does Mistress Eve remember what I said about truth?"
asked Jacob sternly. "Nothing can be obtained by crooked means;
I would say, nothing that is worth having. I have naught to hide!"
Eve hung her head: she took Jacob's few words to heart more
than all the pastor's sermons, and so she returned silently to her
studies. Presently Annys followed, and sat down to read a book of
French history, written by a certain Froissart, of whom Annys
knew nothing but that she liked his lively style, and was generally
much interested in her book. To-day, however, she had to use
great self-command to force herself from calling her historical
personages Jacob, or saying in the middle of a paragraph, "I am so
happy! It was well that she could be happy for a few hours at
least, for she was young, and her hopes were tinged with golden
love; such a thing as disappointment her mind could not at
present take in.
CHAP. V.-MASTER PENNYFEATHER'S PIGS.
URING this time Jacob had been seeking for Master Penny-
Sfeather, and at last lighted on him in a wood at some
distance from the house, whither the good yeoman had gone to see
about some tree-cutting. Jacob, however, had come at a bad
moment. A tree was being felled, and in a few minutes it would
come crashing down.
"Stand off, Jacob Buckston! Holla, there! keep a look-
out ease it, ease it! Plague take thee, fellow thy rope is in the
wrong groove. Now, out of the way; holla!" The last mighty
strokes were struck, and with a crash, a cracking of branches, a
sudden flight of birds, a rustle, and lastly a shout from the men
standing by, the tree fell. Master Pennyfeather shook himself
well over, drew out his handkerchief and wiped his forehead, and
then with the air of a man who has done a good morning's work,
though in truth he had not struck one stroke, he turned round
towards Jacob, saying, as he held out his hand-
"I must crave pardon for my rude behaviour, but in truth
it was a ticklish moment: if I had not been here they would have
spoilt that timber for me; I lay a wager on that. Has thy father
marked his trees yet? My children are already thinking about
Christmas-tide, and the Yule log must be well seasoned before
Master Pennyfeather's Pigs. 73
Christmas. Ah, Jacob! thou'lt find it out soon enough, I trow.
We must have an eye ourselves to everything, and not leave it to
silly hare-brained fellows, who scarce know their right hand from
their left. I might as well dig my grave as let them have their own
way. Just fancy to thyself my vexation this morning at finding
half my pigs wandering about the country. It was that blockhead
of a Joe. If it were not that I am short of hands, he should go
to-morrow. But I was forgetting: thou couldst not have come to
see my tree fall: what was then thy purpose-a message from thy
father ? If it be about that mill-stream, I tell thee plainly, Jacob,
I will hear none of it."
Poor Jacob, usually so bold and fearless, knew not what to
answer, and began to walk off from the neighbourhood of the men,
who indeed would have overheard had he begun to speak.
"My communication was of a somewhat private nature," he
said at last, whilst the yeoman was still wiping and panting for
breath: "it related to a meeting I had this morning with your
daughter, Mistress Annys."
A meeting! how came that about ? by appointment? "
Yes; but it was not for any purpose of our own. Still, when
I saw her again I could not hold my tongue, and I told her that I
loved her. I have now come to tell you, Master Pennyfeather, and
pray you to consider my suit. It is no hasty love, no young man's
fancy, for I have loved her as long as I have had a heart to love; I
loved her the first day I saw her, when we were both young, she,
indeed, but a child, with quiet ways, and naught of subtlety about
her. Methinks such love should not be altogether considered
hastily, though I know you care not much for our family, and there
is no good feeling betwixt you."
The yeoman had now found his breath, but was nearly losing it
74 The Gooa Old Days.
again from surprise and anger. Jacob had expected as much, and
stood by calm and silent, though not for a minute losing his
"Sirrah! how dare you come and make love to my daughter ?
I wonder she is not ashamed to let you speak smooth words to her;
a meeting forsooth! and who let you meet my daughter ? Do you
think I should let a Pennyfeather marry a Buckston --a Puritan,
a man with no pedigree! It's a marvel to me how you could be
Jacob waited till he paused, then said, "You care not for your
daughter's heart, Master Pennyfeather? I cannot expect you to
think of me; but she-I fancy she is not wholly indifferent. Nay,
I know she loves me."
"Then she may learn to unlove thee: not with my consent
shall Annys be your wife."
"She shall not be my wife without your consent," answered
Jacob, who knew too well what misery an unblessed marriage
would bring, and would not for the world that Annys should
repent of being his wife. So saying, he turned aside and was soon
lost in the wood. Master Pennyfeather took a long time to recover
his temper; indeed, he was so much afraid of meeting Annys that
he sent a message to his wife that he would not appear at the mid-
day meal, but would like some mess to be sent out to him. This
was accordingly done by the hands of Silent Joe.
"Aye! aye! Joe, and have you found those pigs? Scoundrel
that you are, you should not stay an hour longer if I were not in
extra press of work."
Joe looked foolishly sulky, and murmured one, of his usual
exclamations, but got away as soon as he had deposited his
master's food on the trunk of a tree.
YP SILENT JOE GETTETH INTO HOT WATER":
Master Pennyfeather's Pigs. 75
Master Pennyfeather would rather he had stayed, so that he
might have had some one to vent his wrath upon. When one
is in a bad temper the day wears but slowly away, and when one
is unhappy the day seems to lengthen out into two, so for both these
reasons I cannot say which of the two aggrieved persons-Annys
or her father-were the most glad when the darkness obliged
Master Pennyfeather to come in and set himself down by the hall-
fire. Happily for him there was no one there when he first entered,
so he was able to give sundry kicks to the great oak table, and to
upset a chair or two before he finally settled himself down and
began to meditate.
"Was there ever such an unhappy man as myself ?" thought
he; "I must e'en have a neighbour who behaves like a Turk about
a paltry stream which runs twixt my land and his, and then,
forsooth, his son must needs fall in love with my daughter. A
low-born Puritan to cast his eyes on the eldest daughter of a
Pennyfeather. I'll see him dangle from the gallows before that
happens, as indeed may be the case. If the queen be as deter-
mined as folks say she is, why, she'll soon have these Puritans
up and teach by sharp means if they will not learn by gentle ones.
Father said a soft voice close to him. Father, wilt thou
wish me joy ? Is he not the handsomest, the best, the bravest man
in the county ? Have I not been longing for thee, and thought the
day would never end ?"
Master Pennyfeather was silent. It was now his turn to be
dumb. At last he said in an uncertain, half playful tone, Come,
come, Annys, thou couldst not have taken it in earnest. Pshaw!
I thought thou wert more sensible. Consider, Annys, the fellow
is a Puritan, and has been in danger, or at all events will be
76 The Good Old Days.
in danger of being taken up as a disobedient, unruly mischief-
"I know not what his principles or his opinions may be,"
answered Annys, standing up straight and proud before her father,
like a true Pennyfeather that she was; "but I know, father, that
Jacob is a right honourable man, and as good a Christian as any in
the land. As to being a mischief-maker, I have never heard him
breathe an ill-natured word of any living soul."
"Aye, aye! that may be; I say not but that he may have his
merits; but then his father is a cross-grained, beggarly churl. He
wishes to pick a quarrel with me about that stream, and by my
troth he shall find me a tough subject for his blows!"
"But it is not the father who loves me," pleaded Annys.
"Enough of this, wench; I tell thee no Buckston shall ever
have aught that is mine, unless he give up his puritanical whims."
"Jacob would scarce displease his father by openly breaking
with him. He would not be a bad son for my sake, and I am
right glad of it." Annys' blue eyes never sparkled like the hazel
orbs of pretty Eve, but they had an open truthful look which
inspired respect as well as love. Master Pennyfeather looked
upon Annys as perfect because she bore his name, but he could not
understand her being so far blinded by love as to wish to become
a Puritan's wife. Far better not marry than to give up the church
and the good old ways.
"Here will supper soon be prepared, so let us hear no more
about it, Annys. Dost thou mind me?"
"I cannot bid my heart obey thee, father, and if I meet Jacob
I shall tell him so; but in all else I hope thou wilt find me an
obedient daughter." Some of the household now entering, poor
Annys retired to her chamber.
Master Penznyfea/ter's Pigs. 77
It was quite dark, and the chill autumn wind whistled beneath
the eaves and round the corners of the house. The sad moaning
found an answer in the girl's heart and mingled its sighs with hers.
The morning had been so bright, so full of sunlight, and now the
evening brought nothing but sad thoughts, and a great void which
nothing could fill. Of course Annys said to herself that evening
that nothing ever would or should fill that place in her affections
which she had given to Jacob. Those words "never again" belong
to youth, belong to that time when clouds and sunshine quickly
succeed each other; but whilst the clouds are lying low there seems
no hope of the sun reappearing, and when sunshine reigns, the far
off clouds are viewed as specks which cannot increase or burst
upon the life which revels in the sunlight.
Perhaps Jacob would give up his opinions, mused Annys; but
even as she mused she remembered his strict ideas about truth.
He would never stoop to a mean action, never profess with his lips
what his heart could not endorse, and on the whole Annys was not
sorry that her lover should be of such a firm, upright character.
Alas! lovers as well as unromantic folks must follow the daily
routine of life, and as the horn sounded, Annys dried her tears and
went down to take her accustomed place.
In the midst of the meal a horse's hoofs were heard in the
yard. At so late an hour this was a most unusual thing. Master
Pennyfeather, who noticed the curious looks on the faces of his
household, said he should himself go and see what traveller had
stopped to ask for hospitality, which thing he accordingly did.
He was not long absent, and as he re-entered he held up a large
square paper, saying joyfully :
"There, Dame Pennyfeather, what say you to this ? A letter
from your eldest born, come all the way from Oxford. We have
78 The Good Old Days.
indeed much to be thankful for, now that the quietness of the land
allows us to hear of the safety and welfare of those we love.
What say you, shall I open it at once ?"
"It would be more advisable to finish supper," answered the
dame, who had little curiosity in her composition, and could
restrain that little admirably. Eve had many troubles on her
mind, Annys, as we know, was sad, and Ben cared not much for
any news which came out of book or paper, so no one remonstrated
against the delay. After supper, however, another log was thrown
on to the fire, and the whole family being seated the father read
MY MOST LOVED AND HONOURED PARENTS,-
I would willingly have sent you before this some token of my
poor penmanship to prove to you how well I was in mind and body. I
like right well the college life, were it not that now and then some
mischievous fellows oppress me and would fain that I should join in some
of their mad frolics. But when I resisted them they wished me ill, and
I had some persecution to bear. All is now however passed over, and we
are good friends when we meet, which is not often, for I keep within my
rooms or the lecture-rooms, knowing well the preciousness of time. The
finest thing I have seen was the entry into this loyal city of our
great Queen herself. It was a fair sight indeed, but it behoves me not to
describe what Rowland Whyte could best tell you of. I met him in the
streets, for he was in the suite of my Lord of Essex. Rowland Whyte
said that he would be in our neighbourhood afore myself, upon which I
wished him joy. My heart longs after you all. I would fain know how
fare the twins and our wild Eve. Tell Annys I read daily some portion
from out the Bible she gave me. I wish I could show you the fair
colleges which adorn this city. The river, too, affords much enjoyment
to those who come to Oxford for amusement and not for improvement.
Tell Ben I depute him to choose the Yule log, and let it be of a famous
Master Pennyfeat/her's Pigs. 79
size. If you dance in the hall we will not except one of the old customs.
Ask Annys to let me know when we are to dance at her wedding.
Your dutiful son,
"A wonderful letter!" exclaimed Master Pennyfeather, looking
at the outside as well as the inside of the large sheet which
Maurice had not managed to fill. "Maurice is a wonderfully
clever fellow. Ah Ben, I fear we shall never receive such a large
epistle from thee; does this not make thee wish to go to college ?"
"Nay, nay, one genius is enough for the family. I would far
rather shoot with the bow like Jacob Buckston, and ride like
Rowland Whyte, and become an honest man, than grow musty
over books. I would not be like the pastor for the world."
This mention of Jacob brought a cloud on two of the faces of
the circle, and the letter was folded up and put away along with
the deeds belonging to the Pennyfeathers. Eve soon slipped out
unnoticed; she wished to find Amelia, which she happily succeeded
in doing. Eve was certain that neither Jacob nor Annys had told
of her; there was only one person she now feared, and this was
Silent Joe, who, if he were to be much blamed, might find his tongue.
If he told his master that his children had taken a midnight walk,
Eve knew not what consequences might follow.
"Prythee, good Amelia, I would thou couldest stitch up my
kirtle, which Ben has even just now trodden on. I would thank
thee heartily. Come then to my chamber with thy needle and
thread." Amelia complied, and presently Eve said-
Dost thou not think Silent Joe a very comely fellow, Amelia ?"
"I do not deny that he is well-grown, Mistress Eve, and that
his appetite is something astonishing."
80 The Good Old Days.
"Nay, but he is also a well-favoured sort of a fellow."
"It would not be my place to deny it," was the guarded
answer, for at present the maid could not see what the young girl
was driving at. At something, she was sure.
"He certainly does not talk much, but perhaps, as the pastor
would say, he ruminates all the more."
"There is no denying that, certainly."
"I fear," continued Eve, coming to the point, "that he may
think my father was somewhat vexed about those brainless pigs,
but thou hadst best tell him, good Amelia, that it is nothing, and
that my father will soon forget it. Above all, tell him not to
mention it 1 He thinks a mighty deal of thee, I fancy."
I can hardly believe that, Mistress Eve; but of course if one
good turn is done me, I must say that it deserves another." Amelia
spoke the words pointedly, and Eve, who understood well enough,
was forced thus to make a mean bargain with her maid-servant.
She seemed to be led deeper and deeper into difficulties. How she
wished she had not gone out, and then she wished still more that she
had owned her fault. Every day made it more difficult to confess,
and Eve found she had not courage to face her parents' anger.
She answered therefore, half crossly, though she had but herself to
Of course, Amelia, that is but just; now my dress is mended,
and it will soon be time to assemble in the hall. Remember, I
trust thee to deliver the message to Joe." So saying, Eve ran
downstairs, and Amelia shook her head up and down and smiled
in a contented manner, murmuring-
"That is well; I now can be sure that that silly girl will not
disclose her knowledge. She has entrapped herself."
Amelia also descended well satisfied with her interview; whether
Master Pennyfealtzer's Pigs. 81
she told Joe, or how she managed to explain to him the matter
need not be told. One thing is certain, that Joe still kept to his
silence, and apparently his wits did not sharpen as winter came
on, and Christmas with all its gaiety was at hand.
Surely in those olden days old Father Christmas was more of
a smiling old man than he now appears to us! I fear we have
offended him by taking too little notice of him. He has now
folded his arms, and as he shakes his head reproachfully, he says,
"Yes, yes; it's all very well for you: you say you are too busy
now to attend to me. I am a jolly old fellow doubtless, but really,
I am rather too much of a good thing. They did not say so in
the year 1570-oh no! Do you know what they did when I was
walking slowly towards them ? Oh no! of course you don't,
because you have never taken the trouble to inquire. But I won't
tell you. Only one thing I will say: that they enjoyed my
company a great deal more in those days than you do now. I
made myself a great deal more amusing. Ah! ah! my old sides
shake to think of it. And what snow-storms I brought along
with my white locks. Ah! ah! When I laughed and shook
my hoary head, the earth became white, and the ice spread itself
over the water, and the icicles got blue noses, and my fingers made
everything look like frosted silver when I touched them accident-
ally. Ah! ah! ah I was a jolly boy then, but now-well, well,
it's quite altered. I can't expect you young people who have
smoky trains, and I don't know how many posts in the day, to care
whether I stay long with you or not. I hear you say quite sadly,
'Dear me! there's Christmas coming again; it seems but yesterday
since he was here last.' The folks in 1570 said quite otherwise.
Ah me it is hard when the old people have to be put away on the
shelf; but it's the way of the world;" and the old gentleman
82 The Good Old Days.
melts into childish tears; and this is the cause why we so often
have quite a mild Christmas. But in the time of good Queen Bess
Father Christmas was a welcome guest, and his approach was hailed
with delight and joy. Nowhere did he receive more greetings than
at Sandy's Hollow. Perhaps Dame Pennyfeather was the only
one who did not altogether expect him with unbounded pleasure,
for her mind was weighed down by the beef and the venison which
would have to be provided. Then the beer! What would her
husband say if every man on the premises had not enough-and
more than enough-to drink; so she must see that there was
plenty brewed; and there must be the best malt put in, for the
labourer knows what good beer is as well, nay, better than his
superiors. There was also some present to be provided for each
family, and her qwn household was not satisfied unless a gift was
ready for them on Christmas Eve. Dame Pennyfeather was, how-
ever, quite equal to the occasion. Her daughter Eve wished
many times in the morning that her duties were only made up of
looking after a household. She could not see that going to visit
the dairy, and ordering the maids, could even be considered as
duties. If such were their names, she would willingly exchange
them for hers, which were learning French and Latin, and hearing
the pastor declaim against the wickedness of all Roman Catholic
kings and countries. In this way he taught history. When he
lectured upon Martin Luther his eyes would brighten, his telescopic
figure lengthen out, his whole being seemed changed. Of late the
poor man had been growing very thin, and an anxious frown had
become habitual to him. The tender-hearted Annys soon noticed
it, for her own troubles made her more susceptible to those of others.
"What has taken away your spirits, good sir ?" asked she,
about a week before Christmas, which that year fell on a Monday.
Master Pennyfeather's Pigs. 83
"I cannot confide my sorrows to you, good Mistress Annys;
"I would not burden a young heart with the troubles of one who
is not far off from his grave, but e'en you must know that we are
living in sad times, and that wickedness is rampant."
"I know not that our day is more evil than other days,"
returned Annys, "but I know that troubles come upon the young
as well as the old; still, I would fain relieve you if I could."
The pastor gazed a minute at Annys: he seemed to perceive
for the first time that she too had a sad look about her which was
not habitual. A silent sympathy was that day established between
them, though they agreed in nothing except in thinking Jacob
"a godly young man." I will not say that Annys at all considered
that the pastor's sufferings could equal hers, but still she was sorry
for him, and pity can never be wasted. On Christmas Eve, Ben
and his sister were to have a fortnight's holiday, and it was with
no little glee that they found the time drawing near. Instead of being
more attentive they were less so, and this circumstance did not
help to smooth the brow of the weary pastor. Eve, who had over-
heard the above conversation, bent over towards her sister and
"I know what makes the pastor sad."
What then ?" answered Annys; to which Eve replied, laughing:
"It is the wickedness of the world-Gog and Magog in especial."
"For shame, Eve! I would not joke about the sorrows of
others: who knows whether thou mayest not thyself have grief
Annys little knew that Eve did carry about with her the daily
fear of her autumn escapade being discovered. Of late she had
been happier, thinking it had all blown over; but she was daily
tormented by Amelia, who would often insinuate that if Mistress
84 The Good Old Days.
Eve did not do this, that, and the other to please her, she would
mention to Master Pennyfeather how Silent Joe had been blamed
unfairly. Annys knew naught about the pig-sty, or nothing
would have hindered her from clearing Joe's reputation.
You will come and share our Christmas dinner ?" asked Annys
of the pastor when lessons were over, and both were standing on
the threshold of the door. You must promise me that; and know
you that Maurice returns to-morrow; and he would never forgive
you if you came not to hear his many tales, about Oxford.
Maurice was ever a favourite with you."
"Yea, yea; he was a youth of much promise, and I say not but
that he might have grown up to be a Puritan prop had he been
left to my teaching; but I love him right well as it is."
Annys smiled, but it was a sorrowful smile; for as she stood
there and saw the snow lying many inches thick on the hard
ground, she also noticed that the pastor's black coat (of a most
spare cut of cloth) was sadly threadbare, and could not protect him
from the piercing wind. So she said playfully, "You are not going
to one of your meetings, good pastor ? It is not weather for you
to be out in these cold snowy days; surely no one would wish to
turn out from their fire-side and their cheerful homes."
"Nay, but that is then the time when the wolves prowl around
and seize the flock; if any must be sacrificed it must surely be the
shepherd, and not the lambs of the fold."
Annys did not understand to what he referred, or what he
feared, but she did not laugh at him, only smiled once more as he
went his way. As Annys turned into the hall she beheld no other
than Rowland Whyte, who had come in whilst she had been
studying her French. He looked more of a gallant than ever, and
rose with so much haste and politeness that he let fall his feathered
Master Pennyfeather's Pigs. 85
cap, and as it rolled away Annys' first impulse was to pick it up.
This somewhat spoiled the meeting, but Dame Pennyfeather, with
true courtesy, made all smooth by saying that his cap had no
intention of being displaced from its lodging, and she hoped
Rowland Whyte would return as favourable an answer to her
"I should indeed demur to thrust myself upon you at this busy
time," quoth Rowland, "but that my heart yearns for the quiet
pleasures of a country life, and my uncle, the squire, has betaken
himself to the town. I shall therefore be much beholden to you,
nay, much delighted." But Annys thought to herself that this
fine gentleman would not have come to them had his uncle, the
squire, been in the country.
"What news bring you from court ?" demanded the dame, who,
albeit she looked so prim and stern, was the one of the household
who enjoyed court gossip or what she called "news." Rowland
enjoyed no less giving out his ideas and opinions. It sounded
mighty fine to tell his personal experience of court life to his
country relations. They little knew what a mere court drudge the
poor youth's post really was, and by his words they could not
have guessed it.
"I have never seen Her Majesty so lively: in September we
had a right royal journey to my Lord Hunsdon's mansion. It
was quite a progress. The queen went in her canopied-chair,
which was carried by six gentlemen. These were preceded by
some knights of the Garter. The whole suite accompanied her,
but by far the finest sight was the queen herself! You should
have seen her jewels : pearls the size of-"
"Pigeons' eggs, doubtless," said the dame; "I have heard tell
86 The Good Old Days.
"And then her diamonds, how they sparkled! Ah! fair
Mistress Annys, you should have been there to see it. Yet I make
bold to say none could have vied with you as to freshness. Those
ladies of the court are too much bedizened to please me : they are
not to my taste."
"Methought you just now praised their jewels," said Annys,
who felt in no mood for compliments.
"Yea, but there are fairer jewels which nature gives, and
which art denies."
"And what say they of the Queen of Scots ?" asked the dame
"They say so much that one cannot tell which is the truth.
Some call her fairer than the fairest, and as innocent as a dove;
but the greater part who are near the queen do but blacken the
Scot's face and fame."
"If I were at court I should speak my mind," said Annys,
"and I would not blow both hot and cold."
Not to cool your porridge, and to warm your taper fingers ?"
asked Rowland laughing.
Annys saw that she could not bandy words with a courtier, su
contented herself with saying, "I would cool my porridge and go
with cold fingers in order to be consistent."
"And feel the cold wind for your pains. Aye, Dame Penny-
feather, you must ne'er send your daughter to court unless under
"Truly, our Annys is too simple for court life."
"Know you not that the simple are those most hard to deal
with ? The queen would rather deal with a knave than with one
who was too simple. The first she could put into the Tower, but
the second there is no getting rid of."
"Marry !" cried the yeoman, entering; "do I hear you speaking
Master Pennyfeather's Pigs. 87
treason, fair sir? But I came to find my little Annys. Look you,
my pale flower, there is Bernet the smith, who is in great trouble
about his child. It has the croup again, and his wife says that
none but Dame Pennyfeather can cure it. Thou canst not go,
dame; but couldest thou not tell Annys what thy remedies are,
and she must tuck up her kirtle. We must e'en do our best for
the poor, or we shall get no Christmas blessing. Well, Annys,
what is thy mind?"
"I will willingly go, and if I do but get a little snowy there
will no hurt be done. Prythee, good mother, tell me thy receipt."
"Would that I could go myself; but as I must not, listen,
Annys. Thou must take a couple of onions-then hold them over
a steaming vessel. Next thou must cut them into slices, and then
apply them to the soles of the child's feet. Take care thou cover
them up with flannel, or the virtue will be gone. I have never
known the cure fail if done rightly. When the child sneezes thou
must give it a drop of this stuff, but an it sneezes twice, put thou
on more onions."
"Come, then, get thee gone forthwith," added her father, "and
tell him I send him this crown to buy what is requisite."
I question whether you could send him a kinder present than
the sight of Mistress Annys' face," said Rowland. "Her look of
amity would cure me were I never so sick;" but this time his
compliment was wasted, for Annys was already in her chamber
beginning to array herself for the walk.
The way to the smith lay through a lane leading by the side
of the Buckstons' farm, so that one reason of Annys' willingness to
go may be easily divined. But in truth she was always ready to
perform any little act of kindness which lay in her power. As she
passed out of the Pennyfeather estate she entered a lane called
88 The Good Old Days.
Hawthorne Lane, and here the snow had drifted so deep that she
found it hard work to get along. She was about half way when
she saw a kneeling figure which made her heart beat. It was
Jacob, she was sure, but what was he doing ? He was kneeling low
on the white surface, and in his hand was a tool. Annys was so
glad that she walked all the more slowly. She liked watching
him unperceived, for in truth she had not set eyes on him since the
unhappy day when her father had withheld his consent. Jacob
was too honourable to seek out Annys, though he would often
linger on the outskirts of their domain to catch if he might but
a glimpse of her. Annys, on the other hand, felt no compunction
about speaking to Jacob, if she could only have the happiness of
meeting him-and here he was! Her heart almost jumped into
her mouth for joy, and as I have said she crept on gently.
Presently a lusty voice behind the hedge sang out in no very
Come bring with a noise,
My merry merry boys,
The Christmas log to the firing.
This was accompanied with loud blows from an axe, which told
plainly that the singer was thinking of Christmas and of the
famous Yule log.
"Come then thou here, fellow," cried Jacob, without looking
up; "instead of singing thyself hoarse, I would thou mightest give
a helping hand this way. The poor thing is nearly dead, and I
must make speed."
"Aye, aye, master!" answered the voice, and a young wood-
cutter came springing down from the top of the hedge, and very
nearly alighted on Annys herself.
The youth's exclamation of dismay caused Jacob to look up,
Master Pennyfeather's Pigs. 89
and seeing Annys, the colour slightly mounted to his cheeks, but
he did not get up or relax from his employment. Annys and the
youth now approached at the same time, and the former saw at
once that Jacob was trying to dig a poor sheep out of a drift.
"Ah Mistress Annys," said Jacob, "I see you have a bottle in
your basket; is it some cordial that could do this poor beast any
good ? I half doubt whether I shall save it now. Gently, Harry,
the sheep can well feel, albeit it is half dead. I think thou hadst
best run to our house and bring back some Hollands. Tell old
Mary it is for the sheep which was once her pet lamb, and I trow
she will give thee of the best."
"Very good, master, though I know not how I can make the
speed you wish in this snow."
Then don't stay there chattering like a woman. I beg pardon,
Mistress Annys. I meant not women such as you." The boy went
off with as much speed as was possible, then Jacob's manner
changed, though he would not leave the sheep. Annys put down
her basket, and gave a helping hand.
"Ha! Annys, Annys, my heart has been right sore on thy
account 'since last we met. I would fain have sent thee some
message, but I would do naught that was underhand."
"Dear Jacob, I knew that thou wouldest not change thy mind,
so I cared not so much, and my own heart was fixed."
Aye! say you so, Annys, sweetheart ?"
"Thou couldest not doubt that ?"
"I know not; at times all looks dark and lowering. My father
is not overpleased at me; he still harps upon that mill-stream, albeit
the poor brook is under snow and ice, and cannot flow much
anywhere. Then he reviles thy father, and when I remonstrate, he
calls me a church-ridden churl. He is old and has many infirmi-
90 The Good Old Days.
ties, so I will not vex him with overmuch contradiction. But at
times I am down-hearted."
"Poor Jacob! thou too hast much to bear. But thinkest thou
not that at this blessed Christmas-tide all ill-feeling will be put
aside? Oh! if thou couldest come to church on Christmas-day-
and now I fear it will be Rowland Whyte who will be with us."
"What! that young vain gallant who robbed me of my dance
on St. John's Eve ?" Jacob was somewhat excited, and with
a mighty effort he released the sheep and began rubbing its poor
half-frozen body. Annys was trying to pour a little of the cordial
down its throat, and did not see the angry flush on Jacob's face.
"Alas! Jacob, I must not tarry though these moments are
precious. I am bound to a sick child-oh! my heart grieves about
the religious differences. If it were not for these,-but prythee,
Jacob, is there aught amongst the Puritans which alarms them?
Lately the pastor has had a troubled look which saddens me."
"Aye, tender-hearted as ever, my Annys. I know not what to
tell thee. Thou knowest that the pastor, though he looks so quiet,
is very zealous in the cause. I know not, but I gather that he is
a marked man, and that if he does not beware, he will be in danger."
In danger ? What of ?" Annys looked frightened.
"Who knows ? The Queen likes not all these secret meetings,
and in truth they are mischievous. Indeed, Annys, I would not
go were it not for my father-but he clings to his creed."
Is there danger for thee, Jacob ? Alack! there comes thy lad.
I must not tarry longer or the child may fare ill."
At the youth's approach the lovers were obliged to return to
their stiff ways and cold speech, so that Annys having seen the
sheep in a fair way to recovery went forward, trying to make up for
lost time. Yet her heart was lightened. It would not be difficult
Master Pennyfeather's Pigs. 91
to be patient and hope for better times, now she knew Jacob would
not change towards her. And Christmas was coming; Christmas,
which had such a good effect on the tempers of all the brave folks
of "merrie England." Pleasant thoughts speed the way, so that
Annys found herself at the cottage before she knew that she had
got half way. It was pleasant too to act nurse and lady-bountiful,
when she was looked upon as an angel of goodness. The onions
did their part; whether nature herself might have restored her
patient without the aid of Dame Pennyfeather's onions, it is not
meet to inquire. When Annys reached the lane she was only too
happy to see Jacob waiting for her; no one will doubt they had
a pleasant talk and a pleasant walk; and as they had not sought
the meeting, both of them were free from scruples of conscience.
Jacob would not, however, step within the limit of the Perinyfeather
land, though Annys begged him to come a little further. His strict
view of what was right and honourable was to him sacred. Nothing
could have made him go to the right hand or to the left, when he
knew his road lay straight before him. Annys found it a great
relief to meet with one who could so well direct her, and settle so
easily her many uncertainties; if only Jacob had not had those
Puritanical leanings, all would have been so happy. Nevertheless
it was with a bright face she tripped into Sandy's Hollow, being
met at the door by Ben and Eve, both exclaiming eagerly-
Annys, know you that Rowland Whyte is going to stay for
a fortnight at least ? Shall we not have some happy days? for we
must have a great deal of company in honour of such a gallant."
"Yes, yes, I know it; let me go; I must see that Maurice's
chamber is prepared for him. He wants no grand company, but
I fancy he will want a bed." Annys went to Maurice's chamber,
but thinking more about Jacob than about her brother's bed.
,l~ .... ... .... ---- 'Y"""' ..... .
'.\-jS ^ '^ .^.^.. '\
CHAP. VI.-THE PASTOR DISAPPEARS.
HE winter sun had risen over the white land two days
after this, and was tinging part of the landscape with a
pretty rose-light, when Annys might have been seen standing on
the door-step and looking eagerly over the broad surface of frozen
snow. Her blue eyes, with their simple honest expression, nad an
anxious sad look in them, which was touching in one so young.
She had been standing there fully ten minutes when a step
approached from behind her, and Maurice's voice said cheerfully,
as he took hold of her round the waist-
"My sweet Annys, I have not half feasted my eyes on thee,
why are you deserting me? Rowland Whyte has even stopped to
listen to my stories of our grand feast. Ah! you should all see
the chimney of Christ Church. That good cardinal had a right
loyal idea of what cooking should be."
"What, Maurice! hast thou learned to eat an ox entire since
yonder city of Oxford received thee in her arms. If so be, thou
must not bide at home for Christmas. But, brother, my mind is
sore troubled this morning about the pastor; I have been looking
along the road for him, but it is all in vain. My heart misgives
me. I feel sure some mischief has befallen him."
"What! because he has shirked his morning's teaching? I
The Pastor Disafpears. 93
think he did right well. Eve is a very mad-cap at the idea of the
Christmas dances and good cheer, and can settle down to nothing.
As to Ben-"
"Nay, it is not that; but oh! of late his face has been so
sorrowful, and he has been wearying himself to death with his long
tramps about the country. There has been some mischief, I fear
"Ah say you so ? Have the Puritans made Sandhill too hot
for them ? Faith, I am not sorry; they should be put down with
a high hand."
If they had but one neck, as Nero would say; but, Maurice,
they are acting up to what they deem right, and a man can do no
Right, Annys; meseems thou art grown in wisdom. What
is it that has filled thy head with such wise sayings ? but come,
I see my father in the yard. The snow is so crisp it will not
hurt thee, and we will go and ask him."
The two accordingly laid the matter before Master Penny-
feather, who, as we have said, had a warm heart, and who had
always acted kindly towards the poor pastor. He, however, did
not think so seriously of the non-appearance of Mr. Hapgood.
Doubtless he had caught a cold in his head, or had some other
"Then he will want some one to nurse him," said Annys,
"though I never in my lifetime have known him have a cold; but
of late his coat must often have allowed much wind to penetrate.
Will you not go and see, father ?"
Master Pennyfeather demurred; there was much to see after.
At last he said, "Thou hast foolish ideas, Annys, but a right
tender heart. Come, I will promise thee that I will go and order
94 The Good Old Days.
him a turkey. It shall be sent up to his room, and he can eat it
during the whole of Christmas-day. Will that satisfy thee ?"
"Thou shouldest add a new coat, Annys thinks," said Maurice.
"And make her go without one for herself, eh ?"
"Yes, indeed, father, that will I right gladly do; but I was
going to ask thee if I might accompany thee. A woman can
always say the most cheering words if illness is the matter."
"Thou thinkest over much of thy sex, Annys, but a woman
will e'en have a way, so go and get thee ready, wench; and
Maurice, do thou see if that fool Joe is doing his duty out yonder,
whilst I take Annys to the village, that is if thou hast not become
too fine a scholar to look after out-of-door work."
"A scholar has more sense than a gallant !" said Maurice, who
pitied Rowland for finding nothing better to do than to tease Eve
and laugh at Ben.
Very soon after Annys and her father set out, for the snow
was firm enough to render walking agreeable. The maiden had
slipped-on a long half-tight pelisse. It was well quilted and trimmed
with fur. She did not forget to hang her purse to her girdle,
thinking she would add a few eliscaies to her father's turkey.
The young serious face was an attractive sight, as with a quiet
determination she struggled to keep up with her father's pace.
Annys had always her mind set on what she undertook; it was
this honesty of purpose which made her such a useful right hand
to her mother. During the walk she mentioned her fears about
the poor pastor's safety. He was so unselfish that if there was any
danger to be encountered he would be the first to undertake it.
Master Pennyfeather would not, however, believe in danger. In
half an hour they reached Sandhill, and walked quickly up the
street lying on this side of the river. The bridge had to be crossed,
The Pastor Disappears. 95
and here the wind blew so hard that Annys clung to her father.
Very soon they were at the entrance of the further village, and
then they found themselves in front of the worthy Roche's
shop, which was plentifully supplied with turkeys, all looking as if
even in death they were mourning over their untimely end.
Roche, who had fears of not selling all his stock, had stationed
himself on his door-step, and would dart out on the passers-by and
inquire whether they had yet bought their Christmas turkey.
On seeing Master Pennyfeather he was quite eloquent on the
merits of his beautiful birds, digging his fingers as he spoke with
much energy into the ribs of the departed ones.
"Ah! ah! Roche! and so you can see turkey written on my
face ? Well, I tell thee there are a dozen depicted on thy features.
However, tell us thy price, and if it be not exorbitant I will surely
Roche named his price, and was further going to relate how no
other turkeys in the country were as cheap, when Annys interrupted
him by quickly exclaiming,
"Good Roche! we wanted to know how Mr. Hapgood fares,
as he came not to Sandy's Hollow this day or yesterday. Is he
indisposed ? Pray tell us !"
Roche's manner changed at once, and he became very mysteri-
ous; next he beckoned them into his shop.
Poor Annys' heart sank within her: her fears were certainly not
unfounded if this mystery was necessary.
"Look you, sir, it was a sad thing, a very sad thing."
"But what was it ? Speak out, man, and tell us what was
"Ah, sir! that is it. I was told that my eyes must be turned
away, and my tongue must hold its own counsel."
96 The Good Old Days.
"Tut, tut man, show some grains of sense, and out with the
"He was a good man, sir, and I have naught to find fault with
his way of living under my roof, unless it is that he kept the fasts
so rigidly, albeit no Popish priest; but I must say, sir, that I have
oft-times been much annoyed at his lengthy sermons as he stepped
out and in of my house. Though my wife will bear me witness
that I never listened to them, and was as deaf as if my ears had
been sealed with wax. No, no, there will be no one found to say
that I was aught but a good Protestant and a right loyal butcher!"
"Out upon thee, man! no one is. asking after thy welfare."
Ha, sir! I was coming to the history if you will have patience:
one must first pluck a fowl before one can get at the good flesh.
It was even in this way that the thing took place: I was sitting in
my parlour, my wife being in bed, and the night cold and lonesome,
when I heard a great knocking at the outer door. I wondered for
some time who was the neighbor# who was so late a visitor,
when the knocks were repeated with greater strength. I knew
Mr. Hapgood was in bed, and I could in no way guess; so, deter-
mined to go and see, I rose from my seat-"
"Well, well, let us suppose you have opened the door," said
Master Pennyfeather impatiently.
"Let us then suppose this, sir, an it please you, if so you will
but hear half my tale. What was my surprise in beholding half-a-
dozen soldiers, who had evidently walked a good six miles in the
snow; I might venture to say seven. I prayed them of their
courtesy to tell me their business; thereupon they said they had
come to seize the person of Mr. Hapgood, known to be a disobedient
and turbulent fellow. I told them that I verily knew Mr. Hapgood,
but that he was as quiet a man as any in the realm. Indeed, that
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ys BUTCHER ROCHEGOOD TURKEYS G BAD NEWS.