E. BOYD BAYLY
I-[ODDER AND STOUGHTON
27, PATERNOSTER ROW
The Baldwin Lbrary
E. BOYD BAYLY
HODDER AND STOUGHTON
27, PATERNOSTER ROW
Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.
THE OLD YEAR OUT
" UP-STYRES "
THE stillness of an August Sunday morning lay over
the wide tableland of the Falconbury Downs and the
little white and red village of Lammergett which nestled in
one of its hollows. For though from a height, where the
Downs ran up, the plain looked level as a calm sea, to those
who crossed the level it proved, like the ocean in a calm,
a place of swells and hollows.
Lammergett church and rectory stood on the brow of a
rise, half a mile from the village. It was grand, on a windy
day, to stand by the upper wall of the churchyard, and see
the cloud shadows chasing one another across the plain, like
giant birds. In spring the thrushes kept up a chorus in
the elm-trees there; but now, in August, stillness brooded
over God's acre. The sun poured down without a cloud
on fields and fallows, ripe golden standing corn, and paler
stubble, where the corn was cut. No sounds of labour broke
the Sabbath silence, and it was not time, yet, for church
bells to begin.
The road from the village, which passed the foot of the
churchyard, was bordered on one side by a long double row
of lofty beeches. Opposite, on the same side as the church,
stood six red brick cottages with slated roofs, their front
gardens gay with hollyhocks and sunflowers. Beyond, the
rectory field sloped down to the road; next to it came God's
acre, two great cedars shadowing the graves; beyond the
churchyard swept the great Downs-no sign of habitation
nearer than the scattered farms and cottages two or three
Old Amram Long stood at the door of the last cottage of
the six, leaning upon his stick. He had been a fine figure
of a man in his day; he was a fine figure of an old man
still, in his Sunday fustian, so carefully preserved, his waist-
coat of crimson velveteen, and clean checked shirt. But
there was a wistful, troubled look upon his wrinkled face
this day; his faded blue eyes seemed to be seeking what
they could not find.
Look at the sunflowers, fatherr" said a cheery old voice
within. "'Ee ain't been down sin' they comed out."
The old man turned slowly to what appeared to him only
an irregular patch of gold. "They do seem dim to I," he
This was the first time he had been downstairs in day-
light since a long illness, and he found the world not at all
the same as when he left it. The colours had gone off sadly;
the shadows he used to tell the time by, had lost their sharp
edge; there was a lonely stillness in the air. He knew it
was Sunday morning, and the roads were quiet; but it was
strange to hear no cows lowing-no far-off tinkle of a sheep-
bell up the Down, nor set-up hens cackling as if eggs had
never been laid before.
Have a cheer, father, till 'ee do get used to the light.
'Ee be dazed, like."
Amram did not like to be told that, but he was glad to
take the chair his wife brought out. She was nearly as old
as himself, but wonderfully brisk and competent for her
The cottages faced the south; the shadow of the beech-
trees came inside the
garden in August, till
nearly church time. Am-
ram watched it stealing
off the larkspurs, and
then off the moss-rose
bush by the gate. It
was time for folks to be
coming up to church; the
ringers would be first.
"Why, their be faa-
ther I" said a man's
voice in the road; and
another, younger, voice
called out, loud enough
to enter the deaf ears:
"Hey, Gaffer! How be
you this martin' ? "
Oh, I be fine again,"
said old Amram, cheer-
ing up. He rose, and
went to meet his de-
scendants coming in at
the gate. There stood
four generations him-
self; Samuel, his first-
born, a grey-headed man
of sixty-two, with the
true withered-apple skin
of a hale old country-
man; Reuben, son to
Samuel, a sturdy labourer
of thirty; and Amram,
"OLD AMRAM LONG STOOD AT THE DOOR,
LEANING UPON HIS STICK."
known as Ram," a boy of fourteen, son of Samuel's eldest
daughter. She had died when her second child, only
eleven months younger than Ram, was born. Her hus-
band died within the year, and the two children had
been brought up by their grandparents.
"Hey, Gaffer! thee've a-come out to hear we ploy
Chirrupee again ? "
"Oh, ay," said Amram, a smile breaking over his face.
He was Gaffer" pre-eminently; Samuel was only "Grand-
The great-grandmother came out to see her son and
grandson, and Ram, the apple of her eye, firstborn of
the first darling grandchild. Ram was his grandfather's
shadow, whenever he could be; and above all things he
loved to watch him and uncle Reuben when they rang
The pride of Lammergett was its peal of eight bells. No
other church within hearing had more than four. All they
could say was, Come, ye people I come, ye people come, ye
people !" with the single bell to follow, saying, Come, come,
come I" But Lammergett's could ring out the words that
Amram's father set to them a hundred years ago: Che'er
up ye, ahl in the martin'"; or, in the improved edition of
"Cheer up ye, o' Sunday martin'
Cheer up ye-ee,
Cheer up ye-ee
Ahl cheer up o' Sunday martin'!
Cheer up and come, cheer up and come, by
Sunday martin' time!"-
and so on, in endless changes. Amram used to run the
first words together when he was a little boy, and all through
Lammergett the chimes went by the name of "Ploying
Amram had sat on a bench when his little feet dangled
a long way from the ground, to watch his father pull. The
church tower was low, and the ringers stood on the church
floor. As he grew older, he was like Ram now, always
haunting the spot, and getting his hands upon the ropes to
try how they went. He could hardly tell when and how
he first began to practise in good earnest, but he remembered
like yesterday the hour when first he stood with the ringers,
to make one in the full peal: the moment of agony lest he
should be "out "-the leap of all his soul when he heard
his own bell fall in. He was seventeen then: he was eighty-
four now. For fifty-six years, from nineteen years old and
upwards, he had stood with the ringers regularr." From
the time when his father resigned till he resigned himself,
in favour of his son Samuel, at seventy, he had been head
ringer; and on his eighty-fourth birthday, which fell on a
Sunday, he had played Chirrupee once more-just to say
that he had. That was his last pull; but, come wet, come
dry, he was always out on Sunday to hear the bells, until
this summer, when he had been laid aside by illness for the
first time in his life.
He watched "the b'ys down the road, and saw them
again where the churchyard path rose higher than the wall.
He had had a deep design of giving missus the slip while
she went up to put on her Sunday gown, and getting as far
as a tombstone to sit on, at any rate; but his limbs gave
him notice to the contrary, and he had to be content to
sit where Reuben had placed his chair, close to the gate,
and listen for the well-loved sound.
It came, but faintly, as if the bells belonged to another
"Ther be Chirrupee, father. Do 'ee hear un ?" said
" missus," coming out.
Ees, I do hear un; but it be vurry dim to I," said
Mr. Netley, the young rector, came by, with his two little
boys, and stopped to congratulate Gaffer on being out
"Be they aall ra-ight, sir, them bells ? said the old man
anxiously. "'Cause they don't sound ra-ight, like, to I."
"All right, Amram. Perhaps the wind is the wrong way
He said it, hoping to satisfy him. That was quite a mistake.
Gaffer always knew which way the wind was, and he very
nearly made the rector late by the number of tokens he
brought up to prove the case.
Samuel's wife came by-a neat, compact little woman,
called Little Grannie-with Ram's sister Polly at her side.
Polly was a fine, well-grown girl, as tall as her brother, with
shoulders broad in proportion, a rosy face, blue eyes, and
wavy brown hair falling on her shoulders. Polly was Gaffer's
darling. He held out his hand for her to come in and give
him a kiss. She did so, dutifully, and was glad when it was
done : she did not like his old face with hard hairs about the
"HE HAD TO BE CONTENT TO SIT WHERE REUBEN HAD PLACED HIS CHAIR,
CLOSE TO THE GATE, AND LISTEN FOR THE WELL-LOVED SOUND.'
THE church was very old-older than the cedars outside.
The belfry tower was on the right of the main entrance;
on the left was a monument of a former lord of Lammergett
and his lady, lying with folded hands pointed straight before
"As though they did intend
For past omissions to atone
By saying endless prayers in stone."
At the farther end of the church, by the chancel, was the
figure of a Crusader in scarlet and gold still bright, two
cherubs with heavy gold halos presiding over him. He had
no inscription save his name, and the date of his death, far
away in the Holy Wars. Polly used to look at him with
interest, and wonder if he had wife or child to weep for him.
The lord and lady did not impress her : the slab beneath them
was inscribed with a long record of their virtues, including a
statement that they had lived together forty-seven years
" without once Quarrelynge." She wondered what they
called quarrelling, exactly. And then her eyes would turn
to the tower where the strong figures bowed, and bowed, and
the ropes came down and flew up again, caught on their way
in the strong brown hands. She wished she was a boy, to
play the bells when she grew up.
By the following Sunday, Gaffer was strong enough to go
to church. He had his own place near the pulpit, and it
used to be an inspiration to the rector to see how his old face
kindled at any happy thought that struck home. It had been
quite a loss to miss the sight, Sunday after Sunday; and
when he was expected back, Mr. Netley sunned himself,
in his study, with the prospect of watching the old bright
Gaffer came, but his face never changed from its wistful,
troubled look. Mr. Netley strained his voice to make him
hear; still there was no response.
"l'm afraid I didn't speak up, Amram," said the rector,
"Oh ay, thankee, I hearn 'ee, paarson. But-it be dim
The beautiful words that used to thrill him had lost their
hold, and he wanted them. All his life long he had had, in
his simple way, the joy of the Lord for his strength. When
he went out to his work before the light, he thought, "Thou,
God, seest I." The sod he turned was "the Lard's," the
bread he ate was all from He." When the great sun rose,
" the Lard was lighting up the world; when it set in glory,
he thought of that place the Lard had gone to prepare,
where dear children had entered already. As old age crept
on, that bright place seemed to him "just nexen door." His
favourite of all hymns was, My rest is in heaven, my rest is
not here," which they sang, at the schoolroom service, to the
tune of "Home, sweet home." The last time he was out
before his illness they had sung that hymn, and when the
rector wished him good-night afterwards, he said, "Eh,
paarson, when you do come to be as old as I, 'ee'll know
how 'tis to be just at the fut of the styres, like, so as us can
a'most see up."
They sang that hymn when the service began again,
after harvest, and Amram was there; but no light kindled
on his face.
It was the same when Mr. Netley brought the Book, and
read, by the fireside, the promises which had been his stay
"That's for you and me," he said.
"I do know it," the old man answered, "but it be aall
dim to I."
He did not seem to be troubled with any fears and doubts;
he was simply desolate: the voice of the Beloved failed, and
life was so lone without it! It was hard to lose the glory
from earth and sky-the sweet singing of birds, the flash of
the stars above-but all was as nothing compared with the
loss of those long looks up-styres," which used to make up
to him for all the burden of old age and failing powers.
The months rolled on; the winter passed, and spring came
back, and summer, and still it was ahl dim to Gaffer.
He would brighten up and be diverted sometimes, but the
shadow always settled down again. Gentle, patient, kind as
ever, he had lost the old cheery -ways. Polly found it very
depressing to wait on him and Great-grannie. This was her
appointed task, and it grew more exacting as' Great-grannie
Harvest came round again: the schools gave holiday, and
all the children were out l'azing (gleaning). Samuel Long
worked for a large farmer whose land reached to the top of
the Down. Polly and Ram went up to the highest fields, with
their dinner tied in a handkerchief, and spent a delicious day
among the sheaves. The air up there was pure as nectar ;
but Polly did not know it, never having drawn a breath of
city air to show her the difference. Ram worked with the
men; she gleaned with the girls who came from over the
hill. They went home their own way: she and Ram
walked back with her two bundles of ears, down the white
road together. Polly had been very happy all day, but
as the church tower of Lammergett came in sight, she began
to think that harvest would be over directly, and then the
old- dull round would go on again, round and round-
going backwards and forwards to Gaffer's. Other girls
went away to service or to shops: she had to stay behind
and caddie with the old folks. She had been reading some
very interesting stories out of the library, and felt a desperate
longing for something to happen.
A carriage and pair came in sight over the Down on
her left, and spun quickly down the white road that crossed
hers. Polly lingered till it should go by. There were
ladies in it, beautifully dressed, and a gentleman. If it
should be upset If the ladies even dropped something,
or wanted to ask the way !
The fleet horses trotted up-and passed. Nothing
happened: nothing ever did. Polly trudged on, dispirited.
Ram whistled by her side. He did not care about things
happening, as long as he could go to work.
They reached the churchyard corner.
"Look, Ram: what's got the bells ? exclaimed Polly.
For through the open spaces in the tower they could see
two bells swinging their half-circle, and the rim of another
that swung out and disappeared, without making a sound.
"They'm practising with the bells tied," said Ram.
So many men had left the place that it was not easy to
keep up the full staff of ringers. Two of the present staff
were going to leave, as soon as harvest was over: the rector's
man Puttick and one of the villagers were training to
take their places, and the rector himself was taking lessons,
to qualify for serving on emergencies. Out of mercy to
the neighbours and respect for the bells, they practised
with the clappers lashed fast.
The church door stood ajar. The boy and girl stole
into the churchyard, and leaving their little sheaves upon
a tombstone, cautiously peeped. There were Uncle Reuben
and Gilroy, who worked for a farmer whose harvest was
in-Puttick, and the rector, pulling with all their might-no
sound following except the creak of the wheels overhead,
and the "whoo as each bell cut the air. Now and again
Reuben called a halt, to criticise: then on they went, till the
rector stopped, exhausted, his hands bleeding where he had
let the rope touch them as it ran through.
Haven't 'ee done enough, sir ?" said Reuben.
Mr. Netley thought he had, and went out by the little door
in the chancel. Polly and Ram ventured in.
Hey, Ram I do 'ee want to have a try?" said Uncle
Ram advanced, blushing like a lover to think of being
allowed such honour, and took off his jacket. This was not
his first try.
"Let we see now," said Reuben. "'Ee do know
the w'y ?"
Ram did indeed. No need of directions for him I He
had heard them all, dozens of times, and laid up every
Down went Ram, head and shoulders, till his back was
level. Down came the rope with him-but what a tug that
was Up-it leaped like a live thing, but he caught it on
the salley (the pad), and never scored his hand.
Haw! There was a deep note of admiration from the
two Lammergett men. Puttick felt half jealous.
"He do taake to it like a duck to the waterr" said
Reuben. "But that wouldn't strike, my b'y. Thee must
go down shaarper nor that."
Ram had so often heard beginners warned not to pull
too hard and make the bell kick the stay, that he had
been over-cautious. He pulled again, as though his life had
hung upon that rope. Up it flew-he never forgot to keep
the end fast. Red, panting, he heard in his uncle's "Haw !
that he had done well.
"That be enough, said Reuben, after a few more pulls.
"Thee'll stand with the ringers one o' these days, Ram; but
thee mustn't pull thee aarms out yet."
Ram retired, longing to go on, but afraid to ask it before
the two other men. They went to work again, and he
and Polly crept softly round the church to look at the
Crusader. Some other inscriptions attracted them; they
were out of sight, in one of the nooks of that quaint old
place, when the door shut, and they heard the key turn
in the lock.
"I say, Polly, we'm locked in I" cried Ram.
They ran to the small door, which was nearest, and found
it not locked: the rector had the key. They were alone
with the ropes, the bells tongue-tied; it was irresistible.
Back they posted to the tower, Polly quite as much excited
as Ram: she, too, was a ringer born.
"Why couldn't I ring, if you can ?" she said, laying hold
of a rope, while Ram pulled off his jacket.
Have a try," said Ram, never thinking whether it was
fit for her.
Polly was a great girl for her age, her muscles much
better knit than the rector's. She had carried little Grannie
all round the garden for fun. Now she gave a pull, and
down came the rope-faster than at Ram's first pull, for
she had larger ideas of the strength required. It leaped up,
carrying her hands with it. Ram snatched them off in
time to save her from being lifted off her feet, and caught
the rope again as it came up.
Why didn't you let go ? he exclaimed, frightened.
"I meant to," said Polly, panting, "but it went so
I/ v( liilll'l/ ill I 'ii'
'WHY COULDN'T I RING, IF YOU CAN?' SHE SAID, LAYING HOLD OF A ROPE,
WHILE RAM PULLED OFF HIS JACKET."
Have another try, and don't pull so fur," said Ram.
Polly tried again, gently. The first lesson was to learn
how to let go the rope and catch it again in the twinkling of
an eye, still keeping the loop at the end in hand to prevent
its flying out. Her mind knew the way, but the instinct
for holding on was too strong. She tried and tried, till
Ram discovered that she had pulled her arms out-meaning
her sleeves. Dusk was coming on fast; the marble lord
and lady glimmered ghostly in their dark corner. A sudden
sense of eeriness and dread came over the boy and girl.
Any minute the rector might come back and lock them in.
Hastily escaping, they took up their gleanings and hurried
They were too shy to say a word about this adventure
at home. The men went on practising with lashed bells,
and again and again the two stole the bliss of a secret pull,
till they began to feel a mastery over the ropes. Uncle
Reuben had given Ram leave, so it was all right: they
would astonish grandfather some day. They were so
dreadfully stiff at first, after the pulling, that little Grannie
very nearly found them out by that; but that wore off.
ON Sunday, when the tongues were loosed, Uncle Reuben
gave his place to one of the new ringers, and took the
boy and girl up to the belfry. There lay the eight bells by
their eight wheels, in position to strike. Suddenly a wheel
turned, and its bell swung round and spoke. One after
another the others moved, till all were going. Polly tried
to trace their order, but gave up in despair: it was a maze
of turning and swinging, bells, wheels, and clanging sound
that made the solid tower vibrate and tremble. She thought
of the cherubim in Ezekiel.
A day or two afterwards, she and Ram were sent up to
weed Gaffer's garden, after rain. They went by the field
path which led up to the top of the churchyard. Hearing
voices inside the church, they softly tried the little door;
it opened, just as Puttick and Gilroy went out by the large
one and locked it behind them. They must have been
practising with the bells lashed.
It was too tempting! Ram and Polly hurried on tiptoe
across the church, to give just one more pull. Ding,
dong," clanged the bells, with a loud voice.
The ringers leaped back, letting the ropes fly out, and
were out of the church like shots, never stopping till safe
in the shelter of the blackberry bushes in the rector's field.
Then they took breath and gasped out: "We done it I Our
bells did ring !"
But what would' come next ? They came stealing out
from the bushes, and went back along the path and down
to the road, so that when they reached the cottages it
appeared as though they had come straight up from
the village. They were an honest couple, not given to
underhand ways; but Lammergett had so little to talk
about-if this story went round the village there would
be no end to it. And it was really no business of any
one but grandfather and the rector.
Gaffer was in his front garden, as they expected, and the
neighbours could hear every.word that was shouted to him.
Fortunately that Ding-dong had passed unheeded by the
deaf ears that were not straining to listen, and he asked
no questions. Great-grannie was indoors. She was rather
"THERE STOOD THE BELLS, IN POSITION TO STRIKE."
fond of blaming little Grannie's over-indulgence; but she
happened to have fine harvest cakes in the cupboard, which
a farmer's wife had sent her, and instead of setting her
grandchildren to work at once, she called them in to eat
cake. The geraniums made a screen across the little
window. Polly and Ram, sitting behind it with their pieces
of cake, heard the gate click; their hearts beat fast, for
through the leaves they saw Puttick and Gilroy walking
up the path.
"Good even, Muster Long. 'Ee ain't been up to the
church, have 'ee? "
Nor seen nobody go by ? "
Amram had not, nor heard the bells speak a word.
"Wull, I never knowed such a thing afore!" said
Puttick, and described at length how he and Gilroy had
but just left the church, after untying the bells for a
full-tongued practice, when they heard, "as plain as ever
wor, 'Ding, dong,' come shaarp, as if ahl Chirrupee wor
a-coming afterr" Hastening back to see if some of the men
were beginning, they found the ropes swaying, but not
a soul in sight. They looked all round about, and inquired
at the rectory-no one had been a-nigh.
While the tale was in progress, the rest of the ringers
came by, and joined the group. Two of them had heard
the sound, but none knew anything about it. Puttick
"Wull, ahl I can say is, them bells runged: an' if
nobody ain't a-done it, ther'll be a death, you'll see. Old
Harry's had dealings with 'em."
Amram fired up. "What Do 'ee think as the Lard
'ud let Old Harry have d'alings wi' that their p'ale?" he
exclaimed. "Why, they bells has rung fur He, year in,
year out, they tells I, hunderds o' years. They mid be wore
out, or they mid be crackened : I've a-hearn tell o' that-
but Old Harry hain't laid a finger on 'em, for sartin."
"No more un haves," said Puttick soothingly. He came
from the next county, where manners are born and bred.
"Ther mid be a death. I worn't going fur. to say their
middent," said the old man reverently; but it won't be
Old Harry's doing."
"Why, Muster Long," said Gilroy, a downright dogged
Wiltshireman, "'ee kept your church all these year, and
not mind how paarson do read as it be the devil as haves
the power o' death I An' who be that but Old Harry, I'd
a-like to knaw ?"
"Haw !" Amram uttered a sound of supreme contempt.
"He've a-got just so much power as the Lard do 'low of
un, to cut un's own throat wi'. I don't say nothing 'bout
them as do choose un to their maaster-that be their look-out;
but fur them as hain't-he do have power so long as us be
soul an' body jined-aah, un haves But get 'em paarted-
he can't do no more: an' if it be he as parts of 'em, that's
where he do overjump hisself, he do."
"So a mid-so a mid," said Puttick, with a warning
glance at Gilroy.
Reuben interposed, suggesting that they had better go
and set the bells right again now, anyhow.
Puttick's countenance fell. Us don't know who wer
their lastt" he said solemnly, too low for Amram to hear.
"Wull, somebody's got to go after un, whoever 'twer,
nelse Gaffer's bells ain't never to ring no more," said Reuben
cheerfully; "so come along."
Amram saw they were going, and moved uneasily. "I'd
a-like to knaw as it be ahl ra-ight wi' they bells," he
Come along o' we, then, Gaffer," said Reuben. "Here
be my aarm, an' I'll get your stick."
He stepped inside, and discovered Ram and Polly, red
as the snapdragons without-their eyes round, their cake
uneaten in their hands. He had the presence of mind to
take the stick and go out again as though he had not seen
them, chuckling in his sleeve. The others walked on; he
followed slowly with Gaffer. The old man paused for
breath where the churchyard path sloped up.
"Ther mid be a death, an' it mid be I," he said slowly.
I be vurry tired, Reuben. I never wor that tired having
or harvesting as. I be now a-doing nothing at ahl. But
I'd a-like to see up-styres afore I go."
Reuben did .not know how to answer; he could not treat
the old man like a child, and say, So you shall."
The bells rang out merrily; they were certainly not
"crackened," nor bewitched either, as far as could be heard.
Reuben took Gaffer home again, and waited for Ram and
Polly, who were weeding away with the energy of those
who fear that their characters may be in danger. It was
nearly dark when they had finished and set off with him
down the road.
"Vurry strange about them bells, Ram-doan't 'ee think
so? he .asked, with a sly poke, when they were past all
"Oh, Uncle Reuben, don't tell anybody-need you ?"
exclaimed Polly, greatly relieved, for the secret was
becoming quite a load.
No, don't tell nobody. Let 'em tahk-it'll do 'em good,"
He wanted to hear all the story, and was much amused
to learn Polly's share in it; but he made her promise not
to pull again, for fear she might hurt herself.
Gaffer went out alone next day, and stood long in the
churchyard, listening. If that Ding-dong came again, he
would be sure it was for him. He yearned for it, and yet
half feared the call.
Polly came up to the cottage, and- Great-grannie said,
" Polly, thee go and tell Gaffer he bean't to bide out no
longer. It do thratten fur roin."
Polly obeyed briskly. Uncle Reuben had been telling
stories about Gaffer and his bells which had given her quite
a new interest in the old man. His face was turned from
her, and as she drew near she heard him speaking, and
paused. He spoke on, unconscious of her approach.
"Lard, it wor You as I chose to my Maaster. I've
a-wrastled to keep 'long o' You; but Sattan, he've a-come
it over I a-many times. I've had a main deal o' wark wi'
un. I be vurry old now, an' w'ake: I can't keep un under
no longer. Do 'ee taake un in hand fur I, so as he shaan't
have nothing to do wi' old Gaffer at the lastt"
Polly heard with awe. It was a perfectly new idea to
her that the old could have their struggles as well as the
young. She touched his arm, saying gently in his ear:
"Will you come back with me, Gaffer? Grannie says
it's going to rain."
He turned, conscious of the change in her manner at once.
"Thee be growing a fine gurl," he said kindly, taking her
arm. "Thee'll be as purty as thee mother wor afore 'ee."
Polly blushed, and sidled a little nearer to him. Some-
thing had happened I A touch had come, unsealing springs
of love for Gaffer in her young heart. It made such a
From that day, tiresome duties began to put a glory on.
She had been very "slack twisted," as we say in my
country, in her service at the cottage, always wanting to get
through and be off. She began now to feel that the place
was her own, and take a pride in keeping it and the dear
old folks like a picture. They were her story-a real story,
more interesting than any library book.
Such a pretty picture it made, when the brass candlesticks
were burnished, and the bureau rubbed till it shone-when
the flowers were tended, and the cat purred at Gaffer's feet
before the clear wood fire 1 Grannie, in her clean print gown
and red crossover, would be stirring about or sitting down
to knit; and Gaffer, all brushed up and neat, sat in the
elbow-chair, the great Book open on the table beside him,
and resting on it, one of the separate books of the Bible, in
large Oxford type, which made the only reading he could
see with ease. It passed the time to spell over the familiar
words; but he had no joy in them. He would lift his eyes
from the page with the old look that said, "It be dim to
I." Polly did not understand it: she saw only that Gaffer
was "down," and by degrees love made her an expert in
finding little things to divert his mind. She took particular
note of the difference between Great-grannie and Uncle
Reuben in their ways with him. Whenever he wanted to
do anything out of the common round, Grannie took fright,
and forbade it; Uncle Reuben almost always said, "Wull,
have a try, then," and found some way of making the little
exploit easy. Consequently, when Reuben was obliged to
shake his head and say, It be too big a job for thee," Gaffer
was quite satisfied to give up the attempt; whereas Grannie
was always being circumvented.
THE OLD YEAR OUT
N the dead of winter something else happened-influenza
swept over the land, and settled heavily on Lammer-
gett. Hardly a house escaped, and death was busy. Little
Grannie was very ill. In the cottage next to Gaffer's, the
whole family were down at once, but he and Great-grannie
remained untouched, and quite renewed their youth in
bustling about to help their neighbours. Ram and Polly
were in blooming health, and worked like Trojans in the
emergency. All over the Downs, the clergy had to help
each other for Sundays and funerals, as one after another
broke down in turn. Mr. Netley was one of the first
patients. He struggled up for Christmas, but half his
household were still among the sick. The Christmas hymns
were very faint and thin. Day by day the number of cases
increased; and when the last night of the old year came
round, five of the ringers were down with the plague.
For the first time within the memory of living man,
Lammergett bells would not ring the new year in: they
could only be chimed-that is, pulled so as to move the
clapper and not the bell, making a sound which would not
carry any distance. It might just reach the village, if the
wind blew that way; but up on the Downs, where dwellers
in the lonely houses were used to sit up and listen for
Chirrupee, it would not be heard at all.
Little Grannie was better by that time, and Polly was
sent up to Gaffer's for the night, to comfort him. He
was very low; and after ten o'clock Puttick looked in,
ahd entertained him with long histories of sickness and
THE OLD YEAR OUT
"Didn't I say as ther'd be a death," he said, when
them bells went Ding, dong, and never a'martal hand as
touched of 'em ?"
Polly grew scarlet. Gaffer sat mournfully silent, looking
into the fire. It was a wild night, snow falling in showers
at intervals, and drifting into heaps.
Steps and voices sounded on the frozen path without.
Gaffer heard faintly, and looked up. The door latch clicked,
and a tall man muffled in a plaid stepped in, followed by
Samuel, Reuben, and Ram.
Up sprang Grannie. Ameram I Ameram I" she cried,
with kindling eyes.
Eh, mother, thee worn't a-thinking to see I come along,
wor 'ee ?"
He was her second son; and he had walked nine miles
through the storm, across the Downs, to see if they could
muster strong enough to ring half of "Chirrupee," having
heard from the carrier how the ringers had broken down.
"I says to missus, 'Snow or shine, I be bound to go,'"
he said. I thought as us could make up flower: an' here
be Ram, he says he've had a try-he mid try again. An' if
the rector could pull a rope, ther'd be six."
"Six!" said Gaffer, rousing up. "Ther'll be seven to-
night, b'ys. Missus, fetch down my cowat."
"Faather! Thee set a fut outside o' the house a night
like this I It 'ud be the death on 'ee I" exclaimed Grannie,
Wull, us must go Ho-am some w'y," said Gaffer. "But
I bain't a-going arf so easy's that, you'll see."
Muster Long, ther've been warningss" said Puttick
"No, their wasn't," burst out Polly. "'Twas Ram and me.
We thought the bells were tied, and- "
The uncles drowned her confession in a roar of laughter.
Puttick stood disgusted at the collapse of his mystery, for
a moment; then, like a good fellow, he laughed too. Grannie
never even smiled : she stood, defiant, her eyes set upon her
Wor it thee ? Then 'ee shall do of it again, my gurl,"
said Gaffer, rising stiffly. "Get thee cowat. Us'll ploy
Chirrupee after ahl. Missus, thee fetch my cowat, or I'll
go up fur he myself."
Let un go, mother," said Amram, in a low voice; and
Samuel added, It 'ud do un more haarm to be thwarted,
Grannie was overborne; she shut her mouth and walked
up the steep stairs, inwardly shaking the dust from off her
feet against the whole proceeding. If the boys would make
an idol of those bells and be the death of her old man, no
blame to her It was not only to humour him that they let
him go: they wanted the peal, she knew. And they did-
the blood of a long line of ringers was in their veins.
Gaffer was wrapped round and round in mufflers, Amram's
gaiters on his legs. Samuel opened the door. Whew I the
wind drove in a shower of snowflakes. He drew back,
doubtful after all.
"Haw I A little snow never hurt I," said Gaffer. "Keep
the fire up, missus "; and forth he went, leaning on Reuben's
arm, along the way he had trodden so many times before,
to toll the old year out and ring in the new. The wind
roared in the tree-tops, and whirled the snow round the
dark figures, bending to the storm; but overhead the clouds
were breaking, and patches of pale silver shone in the east,
near the waning moon.
"Step out," said Gaffer, ploughing along. Ram and
Polly danced on before, treading down a path. Samuel
THE OLD YEAR OUT
had the lantern, and Amram walked on Gaffer's other side.
How the north wind howled and drove the snow into their
faces as they turned up the churchyard path and the great
arms of the cedars thrashed about, flinging off jets of snow.
The church was dark. Suddenly the windows shone up.
Puttick had gone on before, to tell the rector, and show
a light there.
The young rector had risen from his own sick bed to go
from one house of sorrow to another, in his parish. His
own home was full of sickness, his wife worn out; and
in the general depression, his first thought, on hearing
Puttick's tidings, was a kind of indignation at having more
illness brought on for the sake of a peal of bells. He
hurried down to the church, meaning to send the old man
back to his bed straightway.
Puttick's lantern threw long slants of light and darkness
across the old church. The Crusader was lost in shadow:
the praying hands of my lord and lady stood out white
against the gloom. As the rector advanced from the small
door, the large one was thrown open, and the outrunners
entered-girl, boy, and Samuel, their lantern cutting fresh
cantlets of shade and yellow light. Gaffer followed,
breathless from his battle with the wind, but with the old
fire in his eyes.
"Eh, paarson," he panted, hushing his joyful voice in
reverence for the place. "Lammergett bells-be a-going
to ploy up-same as always. Eighty year an' more-I've
a-hearn 'em-' Chirrupee o' New Year martin.' They
bain't a-going to stop-afore I does."
The rector's protests died on his lips. "You mustn't
hurt yourself, Amram," he said, anxiously but meekly.
"They bells never hurt I, an' never wooll. Be they
ahl muffled, Reuben ? "
"Yes, Gaffer, ahl ready. Thee sit down and rest while
us ploy the muffled, and then you and Polly strike in for
"Oh, ay; I'll rest of myself. But Polly-her must
have a try in the muffled, to make shoor as her do do it
"All right, Gaffer."
The old man was king of the ringers again. Samuel
stood by, quietly smiling, while he laid down the law.
Polly must pull first, because that was easiest.
"Come and pull stroke, Polly," said the rector. He had
caught the fire : anything for Chirrupee !
They wrapped up Gaffer on the nearest seat, and the
seven stood round in the gloom under the tower, each with
a hand upon a rope, except Samuel, who stood holding his
watch towards the lantern's light.
Time," he said, and laid it down.
Polly's heart jumped into her mouth, and her back bowed.
"Ding." Her bell had rung! And Ram's fell in all
Six times the muffled peal ran down; and then Gaffer
called off the young hands and the rector, to husband their
strength, and the four men rang muffled changes. The
rector's wife tripped across the snow with a drink of hot
soup for Gaffer, and that was muffled too. The wind
had died down: the sweet, solemn notes of the old year's
dirge lingered on the silence, as she hurried home to the
little sick beds there.
The changes ceased; the great bell alone tolled out the
last few minutes of the dying year. Then even that was
silent; and through the dead stillness came the strokes of
twelve: the old year was gone I
Gaffer had risen and stood in his place. At the last
THE RECTORS WIFE TRIPPED ACROSS WITH SOME HOT SOUP FOR GAFFER.
"THE RECTOR'S WIFE TRIPPED ACROSS WITH SOME HOT SOUP FOR GAFFER."
THE OLD YEAR OUT
stroke of the clock he gave the word, and out rang the
"Cheer up ye, o' New Year morning!
Cheer up ye, o' New Year morning!
Cheer up ye-ee,
Cheer up ye-ee!
All cheer up o' New Year morning!"
The people in the village heard, and cried to one
another: "Hork The bells is played! Who done it ? "
And away on the Downs, watchers in lone cottages, who
had listened and wondered if the cruel sickness would be
even too much for Chirrupee, caught the sweet sound, and
ran to the side of the sick, each telling the other that the
New Year was runged in." An old man dying heard the
chime, and smiled as he sank into his last sleep. His
daughter sat watching his slow, faint breathing-all alone,
for every friend she had was bound in some way by the
sickness-and listened to the music as it died away, and
again came sweeping back upon the night wind. It was
like company: it made her think of the angels.
The ringers were content with but a few octave peals, for
the men were afraid for Polly. But Gaffer pulled and pulled,
ringing some of the changes. The bells were fired (all struck
together with a clang) in a triumphant salvo; then came the
last changes. Gaffer dropped down upon a seat, and panted
out, I done it "
CREAT-GRANNIE sat heaping wood upon the fire and
Nursing the flames of her indignation. While the bells
rang, she was softened, in spite of herself-so many, many
memories awoke at the sweet sound; but when the last
victorious change had clanged, she rose up, fierce, and waited
to see her old man brought in more dead than alive, if he
lived to get home at all.
Strong, cheery voices sounded again without, and the four
generations entered-all joyful, and the first and the fourth
in ecstacies. Gaffer looked at his wife with a sly twinkle in
his eyes-sank into the settle corner, and said, I done it "
She was beaten gloriously ; but her turn came, when she
poured out the hot barley broth she had ready, and the men,
as hungry as hunters (especially Amram), ate it up with
great hunks of home-made bread, and told her they had never
had anything so good in all their lives. Gaffer did not want
much; he was glad to go to rest, while Samuel was there to
help him up the stairs. He stretched himself upon his bed
and sighed out, I've a-done it. Bless the Lard !"
The rector came down early next morning, in fear of what
the after-effects might be, and found the old man so stiff that
he could scarcely turn in his bed, but bubbling over with
delight. I've a-runged Chirrupee again! I haves I I
done it I" and then came a joyous chuckle. An' Polly; her
'ud stand king o' the ringers, if her wor a b'y. Aw I "-a
rash movement surprised him into a cry of pain. "I be as
stiff as an old harse, I be and he laughed again. It don't
mind now; the New Year be in. Us played un in ahl
C k ',I ~ii Lii
"STRONG, CHEERY VOICES SOUNDED AGAIN WITHOUT."
I 1 -
" UP-STYRES "
But them changes didn't sound not ra-ight to I," he said
doubtfully, when the rector had congratulated him with all
"They were right, Amram. A man has been along from
Watbury, and he said tfey heard them plainly all that way
off. And so they did up at Farmer Bayne's, on the Down."
It must a-been my ears was wrong then," said Amram.
His face grew thoughtful, the old wistful look in his eyes.
The rector tried to think of some way of softening the
I wor a-thinking, paarson," began Amram slowly. "Do
'ee think as maybe the Lard be a-tahking to I, same as used
to, and my ears is wrong? "
I'm sure He is talking to you, Amram: at any rate, He
is looking after you."
"Ay." Gaffer put his wrinkled hands together, and,
looking up as if he would fain pierce through the mystery
beyond, he said: I've a-chose un to my Maaster; He do
knaw that as well's I. An' I've a-wrastled to bide close up
to un; but I've not a-done it."
Twvo large tears rolled down the withered cheeks. "I
can't wrastle no more, now. And it did seem as if He
wor gone on up-styres, an' left I at the fut. But last night
I wor a-thinking-when I wor a little b'y, I'd be a-ploying
round, 'musing myself, an' nobody took notice of I-till come
bedtime; an' then, father, he'd a-come out, an' carry of I
up to bed."
The rector's eyes softened as he caught the old man's
"So will our Father now-when the time comes," he said.
"Ay, I be a main deal more trouble to carry now," said
Gaffer; but I shaan't be too much for He."
The rector went on upon his rounds, and lo !-the village
had cheered up. Instead of the unbroken list of ailments
which had become customary, he was met with particulars as
to who had been awake to hear Chirrupee-the surprise, the
surmises, and how the story had flown round the place, in the
morning. The merry bells had done good like a medicine.
It is a fact that from that night the sickness abated-which
might have happened all the same if the bells had not played
" Cheer up," but you must not say that in Lammergett.
Gaffer kept his bed for a week, and came down much more
feeble than before; the little spurt of strength had drawn on
his last reserve. Grannie saw it; she always knew that so
it must be. But she had one grand quality : though a down-
right fury in contending against adversity as long as a shot
remained to her, when the blow had fallen and the fight was
lost, she never said another word ; so Gaffer was left in peace,
to tell over and over again the tale of his last triumph-his
last and Polly's first. He was quite as proud of her share in
it as of his own.
The shadows came back upon his mind at times, but never
so darkly; he was content to wait patiently till he should
reach the light, Up-styres." Through the early part of the
year he gently failed. In May the rector was sent for in
haste one evening-Gaffer was took bad." The old man
lay as if in sleep, and they thought he would pass away
without another conscious word; but when Mr. Netley
returned next morning, Gaffer was propped up, quite himself,
and held out a feeble hand to him.
Ah, I be called he said, and a light shone in his fading
eyes. I be going up-styres-at last. It won't seem dim to
I-never no more. Eh, paarson, don't 'ee have 'em toll the
bell for I Let 'em ploy Chirrupee when I be gone."
"We'll play it for you, Amram," said the rector, for he saw
" UP-STYRES "
that the old man's heart was set upon it; "but you must
let us toll the bell for ourselves. We shall all miss our dear
Eh, I ain't done nothing for nobody but to make wark,
this many a day," said the old man. But the Lard-He've
a-bought I-though I bain't worth nothing-an' bought I a
cowat, to make I company for He. Them styres won't paart
He an' I much longer. Eh, paarson, thee mid have a long
w'y to wrastle yet, afore 'ee do come up their ; but old
Gaffer'll be looking out for 'ee, and the lady and yer little
b'ys. Missus-- "
He wanted her to fetch, from hoarded treasures, some little
keepsakes for his friends. Missus" and Polly he com-
mended once more to the love of the rector's wife. Then
his last desires were accomplished. When Mr. Netley was
gone, he lay down and slept his life away.
On a lovely May day they bore him to his last earthly
rest, wreaths of white blossom on his coffin, and one, all
of forget-me-nots, from the rector's little boys. The bell
tolled slowly as. the bier moved up the path, under the
great cedars, the mourners following, and after them a
concourse of the village people-some in black, but more
in their usual garb-the women in print gowns and
coloured crossovers. Through the service at the church the
bell tolled still; but after it, as the bier began to move
again, Mrs. Netley played softly on the organ, "Home,
Sweet Home," and Gaffer's bells took up the air, always
associated, to the listeners, with the words of the hymn he
had loved so much.
Slowly the dark procession passed under the cedars, and
round, up the long path, past white headstones and graves
covered with bright spring flowers, to the spot under the
elm-trees where Gaffer was to lie,-the bells ringing out
the sweet melody. The re-
frain was reached for the
second time just as the rector
took his place beside the open
grave. He turned his face
towards the sound, and all
waited, silent, while the last
strokes were played :
"Home, home-sweet, sweet
There's no place like home-there's
no place like home."
The last holy rites were
ended, the first sods had
fallen, and the mourners turned
away. Grannie drew her
hand from Samuel's arm; he
had "summat yet to do fur
fatherr" Sons and grandsons,
ringers all, had come, some
of them long miles, to keep
the old man's last command,
and play Chirrupee for him.
There were just eight of them,
with Polly and Ram: Grannie
said the girl should pull, that
every hand which rang that
peal might be of kin to Gaffer.
The men took off their black
coats and stood by their ropes.
"THE RINGER STOOD SOBBING BY Polly, in her black dress,
HER ROPE." stood by hers, a hard lump
" UP-STYRES "
in her throat. Samuel cleared his own throat, and drew
his hand across his eyes.
Us be bound to do it," he said. Pull then, b'ys."
He gave the signal, and the peal rang out, Cheer up
ye, all in the morning I "
It was morning for Gaffer-bright morning.
They rang a few changes after the octaves. When the
full peal should have come in again, the first note was
waited for-the ringer stood sobbing by her rope. The
men's hearts failed them: they let go too.
"That be enough, said Samuel. "It be ahl Chirrupee
now fur he; the tolling's done."
Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.
WORKS BY E. B. BAYLY.
A NEW ZEALAND COURTSHIP. Crown
8vo, cloth, ss. 6d.
RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY.
CHIRRUPEE. Illustrated by URSULA WOOD.
Fcap 4to, is. Reprinted from the Sunday at Home by
HODDER AND STOUGHTON.
ALFREDA HOLME. A Story of Social Life
in Australia. Third Edition. Crown 8vo, cloth,
JONATHAN MERLE. A West-Country Story
of the Times. Ninth Thousand. Crown 8vo, cloth,
ZACHARY BROUGHT'S VENTURE. Third
Thousand. Crown 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d.
FORESTWYK. Third Thousand. Crown 8vo,
cloth, 3s. 6d.
JARROLD & SON.