IT was on an October day in the year 1642 that the royalists and the Parliamentarians met on the battlefield of Edgehill. This fact has given an historic interest to one of the most lovely districts in the English Mid-lands, and attracts to the neighborhood many who are interested in the great struggle of the seventeenth century. There are also villages and hamlets scattered about this quiet region, both pretty and ancient, their names indicating early Saxon origin, and their peaceful life and their gentle beauty, as they nestle half playfully, half shyly, amidst the bright green trees, suggesting the simplicity and the happiness of Eden. Here one may still see England much as it was in the days of yore, and behold in their perfection the power and the charm of a rural life on which Nature has right royally bestowed some of her best gifts, and where the people are for the most part untouched by the realities of modern progress. Next to living in such an Arcadia, the best way to appreciate and understand it, to find out its secrets and to enjoy its delights, is to pass leisurely and contentedly through it on foot. It is no use to hurry through, riding or driving as if time were of consequence ; neither meadow nor village, neither woodland nor hill-side, will unfold its sweet mysteries to one who impatiently or thoughtlessly rushes along. Life is slow and quiet here, and they who cannot for the nonce enter into the same calm, steady spirit had better not visit the valley of the Red Horse nor climb the heights of Edgehill.
At Shipston the shadows were long and the streets were still when in the bright summer morning I set out on my ramble through this part of the country. It was not for the first time in my life: every step and every scene of the way was familiar and awakened pleasant recollections and associations. I passed over the mill-bridge, beneath which the boys still wade and fish for minnows and sticklebacks, as they have done for generations. The sunbeams flow through the willows on the bank and make the dewdrops sparkle and the tiny ripples on the clear water shimmer. A solitary frog plunges into the stream, the birds are twittering and looking eagerly for the early worm, and the cows in the meadow are busy at the mist-wet herbage. I cross the fields and soon reach Fell Mill lane, so called from a mill once used for felling cloth an ideal lane, tree-arched, hedge-hemmed and grass-bordered. Here you may hear the full, rich song of the blackbird and the thrush; and if you will remain motionless for a while, you may see partridges feeding in the wheatfields close by, rabbits skipping’ in the green sward, and linnets, blackcaps and wrens nest-building or bathing in the road dust. The woodpecker taps away at the withered branch in the elm and the rat comes sniffling up out of the ditch, undisturbed by the bleating of the sheep in the meadow or the barking of the dog at the distant farmyard or the cackling of the geese on their way to pasture or to water. Earlier in the year the cry of ” Cuckoo !” falls upon your ear, and in the late twilight the melody of the nightingale flows from the wayside orchard. The moment you stir all is changed : the rats and the rabbits run, the partridges whir away, the birds fly off.
As I walk on through the lane I meet two or three haymakers-stolid-looking, stiff-moving, carrying their scythes and rakes, and also their earthen jug of small-beer. I wish them ” Good-morning ” and turn into the road running across the fields, in which sheep and cattle and horses are grazing, past the farm known as St. Dennis, to Tysoe. In the still, bright morning the country appeared picturesque and pleasing. One could not tire of looking at the fresh green hedgerows, the tall tree-clumps, the fertile hills and the waving fields of corn. In the ponds which here and there occurred by the road-side ducks and geese were waddling or swimming and cows were cooling themselves and thoughtfully chewing the cud. Only once did I meet any one in the five miles between Fell Mill lane and Tysoe. Nor, indeed, did I wish to have the sweet solitude broken. Alone one can think aloud, hum over snatches of old melodies, recall passages of the poets, drop leisurely into desultory arguments with one’s self, build castles as high and as glorious as the towers and the palaces of cloudland, take in the scenery around, and stop at one’s own sweet will to behold this attraction or to examine that curiosity.
It was still early when I reached the little straggling village of Tysoe. The place is old; the church is said to have been built two hundred years before the Nor-man Conquest, and some parts of it may indeed be as ancient. Between the nave and the chancel is a small bell-cot or turret apparently as old as the rest of the building, and possibly in days gone by containing the bell which was rung at the consecration and elevation of the Host. In the yard, full of graves, is part of an old stone cross. These crosses are of frequent occurrence in ancient and medieval churchyards. After service did the people of bygone times adjourn from the church to the space immediately around such crosses as this to hear sermons ? The village is well supplied with arched fountains in the walls by the roadside. One of these fountains is surmounted by a cross and has running along the line of the arch the appropriate words, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” Doubtless many a weary-hearted villager who has come here to draw has realized the strength of these words, to the comfort of his soul.
From Tysoe I passed along the road skirting the foot of Edgehill till I reached the Stratford and Banbury highway, leading directly up to the summit by the Sun-Rising.” This was formerly, in the days of stage-coach travelling and as far back as 1642, an inn of some celebrity, but it is now used as a farmhouse. Some who are now living remember when it was busy and prosperous, when ” mine host ” welcomed travellers to his friendly portals and hostlers, drivers, farmers and wayfarers made the old kitchen or tap-room a scene of riotous joy. Now the only signs of life visible were an elderly lady in a morning-wrapper and curl-papers writing at a table near an open window, and a pretty and comely damsel standing at another window thoughtfully looking down the hill for some chance being to come and break the matin monotony. Evidently she did not see a stranger every day; for when I asked her if the bridle-path on the opposite side of the road led to the ” Tower,” the rosy hue passed richly and softly over her cream-white cheeks and she answered me with a kindly tremulous voice. I wonder if such graceful maidens gladdened the eyes and the hearts of the Cavaliers in the days when they frequented this neighborhood ? The bridle-path runs along the top of the ridge, now across a pleasant clearing and now through the shady greenwood, while the view of the wide plain beneath is very fine such, so an old writer says, as Lot beheld in the valley of the Jordan before Sodom fell. I should have enjoyed it much more had it not been for the swarms of flies. If Pharaoh was plagued worse, I pity him. At times I was obliged to keep my handkerchief in constant motion, or I should have been eaten alive. The path is much used, for many initials and names are cut in the trunks of the beech trees on either side. Frequently I heard the prattle and the laughter of picnickers and down the hillside caught ‘glimpses of groups of young men and women. Delightful is the charm of a day’s outing in the country, and especially in such a place as this, where mossy banks and crystal springs and deep shades and glorious vistas together help to satisfy the mind and to please the senses.
I throw my blackthorn on the ground, take off my strapped wallet containing luncheon and guide-books, and sit down on a grassy bank within the shadow of the beeches to take in the magnificent panorama and to think upon the past suggested by it. On fine days the view extends so it is said into fourteen counties. On one side are the Malverns and on the other is Charnwood Forest. Coventry, Warwick and Stratford, with their spires and towers, are visible, and on the distant horizon rest the gray-black clouds of Birmingham. A well-wooded plain, set with picturesque villages and farms, threaded by the Avon, enriched with fertile fields and noble orchards, traversed by ancient roads and bordered by the glowing haze of a brilliant summer sky ! The eye rarely beholds a more lovely or extensive landscape or one in which Nature has been more prodigal of her richest gifts not, indeed, the romance and the splendor of the mountain and the forest, but the quieter graces of a low, level country in which prosperity contentedly smiles in the sunshine and beauty seems to move under the vision like tinted waves of some wide emerald sea. As I look upon ,the picture I remember the word of old: “And God saw everything that he had made, and, be-hold, it was very good.” Yes, very good; and yet the ancient rabbis used to say that ” God had taken of the dust under the throne of his glory and cast it upon the waters, which thus became earth.” What, then, must be the land beyond the clouds ? If this glorious scene is but the shadow of the heavenly splendor, what must be the substance? And yet down in yonder fields, now lying so calm and peaceful, the angry and sinful passions of man have arisen, brother has fought against brother and father against son, and the land has been defiled with blood.
In the pages of Clarendon may be found the best description of the famous battle. Near where I am now sitting the king viewed the progress of the struggle. In the plain below, the Parliamentarians, under the command of the earl of Essex, were encamped, twelve thousand strong. On the heights, of about equal strength, were the royal troops, one wing near the Sun-Rising, the main body where the Tower now stands, and the other wing commanding the road to Kineton. The key of the position was thus in the hands of the king; and, had his men remained on the hill and waited for Essex to attack, a decisive victory would in all probability have ended the conflict and changed the course of English history. The Puritans were stirred to vigor and zeal by the exhortations of their ministers. The: red horse cut in the side of the hill opposite Tysoe became to them ” the red horse of the wrath of the Lord,” which he caused ” to ride furiously to the ruin of the enemy.” In the neighborhood the people, largely persuaded by the rebels that the Cavaliers were cruel and wicked and that they robbed and evilly treated the inhabitants wherever they went, hid their goods and sought to protect themselves against the coming of the king. ” The very smiths hid themselves, that they might not be compelled to shoe horses.” Through the day the two armies watched each other. An October Sunday, possibly the sound of the chiming bells in yonder towers. came softly across the plain and some few pious souls on either side prayed that God would defend the right. At three o’clock in the afternoon the battle began, and the sun went down and a thousand and half a thousand men lay dead upon the field. They were buried where they fell; five hundred were thrown into a pit near to an elm-clump. Neither side had the victory, and neither side was desirous of renewing the combat. In the cold, frosty night the king’s soldiers, shelterless and hungry, straggled into the villages to beg for food, but, as Clarendon puts it, many ” were knocked in the head by the common people.” Ere long the armies marched away, the ancient quiet returned, and the red coats of the king’s men and the orange scarfs of his enemies were seen no more.
It is now an old study, that seventeenth century, and most people have long since ceased to hold exclusively with either side, but it is well to remember that the Puri-tans had no more a monopoly of the virtues of the age than had the Cavaliers of the vices. There were good men and bad men in both parties. The bad we may well pass by, but among the good none can forget such men as George Herbert and John Milton, the two poets of the period, nor Jeremy Taylor or Richard Baxter, two of its most eminent divines. It is true that Milton was a Puritan; it is also true that Milton describes the saintly Bishop Andrewes entering paradise vested in the robes of his order. Yet to the churchman and the royalist the bare thought of lifting up the hand against the Lord’s anointed was abhorrent. Charles was the king; the crown had been set upon his brow and the consecrated oil had been poured upon his head, removing him from among men, making him on earth the vicegerent of God and rendering his person sacred and his will law. The divine right of kings may be set aside now, but it was held then, and held, too, by many of the purest souls and the most thoughtful minds in England; they, at least, could not understand how men dared to resist the prince. Others besides them could not understand men who would abolish the ancient Church of the land, with its bishops, ritual and customs, and turn the sanctuaries of God, where beauty dwelt with holiness and splendor cast its vestment upon righteousness, from temples of worship into places of meeting. Sermons were good, but services were better ; and when the Puritan had the power when he had poured out the blood of the king and the primate of all England on the scaffold, and thrust the bishops out of their sees and the parsons out of their parishes, and made it criminal for any to use the Book of Common Prayer then were many hearts grieved and many souls oppressed. None can ever tell the full story of the cruelty and the wrong which the Puritan wrought in those days. He did in the seventeenth century what the papist had done in the sixteenth persecuted the Church, condemned the Liturgy, exiled the clergy. Rome and Geneva have clasped hands against Anglicanism. No ; Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy is quite as dependable as Neal’s History of the Puritans, and John Evelyn is worth more than Samuel Pepys. If in the reign of Elizabeth, and again in the reign of Charles II., the Church sought to drive her adversaries from the land, she but did that which she was forced to do for her own preservation. Doubtless there was wrong on both sides, but as of seed cast in the ground the bad perishes and the good re-mains, so that which was of evil among them has passed away and that which was of God abides even in our midst.
The country-people here do not know much beyond the facts that there was once a battle and that Oliver Cromwell did wonderful things toward settling the grievances of the poor. Some of them have heard of Julius Casar, for one asked me the other day which came first in English history, the Roman or the Puri-tan. The man seemed hurt, as though I had detracted from the fame of Oliver, when I told him that the great Commonwealth man lived in the century before the last ; he had heard of him all his life, and therefore thought he was a hero of far-distant times. But exactly what Cromwell did beyond upsetting affairs generally and satisfactorily, or what was actually done at Edgehill, the men who plough yonder fields or tend the sheep in these pastures close by have no idea. They know some ghostly legends, though, and in the dull October evenings, when the mists hang along the hillside and the gray shadows overspread the plain, they will hurry along these roads and paths, fearing and trembling lest they should see some of the dead ones who haunt the place. Apparitions and prodigious noyses of war and battels,” as an old writer affirms, have been seen and heard here; and though in a clear, warm August noon-tide it is not so easy to people the plain with incorporeal substances” as it might be in the dim wintry twilight, yet there comes to my mind an old story told me long ago by one whose years began before the last century ended, and who knew from his boyhood every nook and corner, every legend and tradition, of these parts.
Among those who fought and fell in this battle so runs the story was a knight of noble birth and of brave and loyal soul. When living, he had made the welkin ring with his manly voice, and around his hearth clustered many a true and kindred spirit. No stint of hospitality was there in his day ; no lack of free souls to hail the baron of beef and the tankard of mead. He is said to have been the last gentleman in the neighbor-hood who took his greyhounds and his hawk to church. Such a good man, beloved as he was by all who knew him and having died in the noblest cause for which one can die that of king and country ought to have rested contentedly in his grave ; but no : for many years on the anniversary-night of the battle he was seen riding along the heights of Edgehill on a steed of fiery hue. Noiselessly the horse rushed hither and thither, and the rider at times gesticulating fiercely with his sword, as though urging his troops to the front, and at times spurring his beast and bending forward his body, so as to pass swiftly on, but never uttering or causing sound, though clad in the armor of an earthly warrior had a careworn, shrivelled visage which all who saw it said belonged to the nether realm. For weeks, till the winter’s rains washed them away, the imprints of the hoofs in the soil glowed brightly in the darkness. Some had seen them; some, more venturous than others, had tried to touch them, but there was nothing, only they shone clearly and imparted to the fingers a strange trembling light. Nor was it only in this place that the knight of Edgehill appeared: people of reliable reputation declared that they had seen him in the market, both at Stratford and at Shipston, and that he had examined their samples of grain and asked the price. Others said that he had been seen kneeling before the altar in the church in which he was buried, and others, again, that he frequented the avenue which wound through his park to his ancestral home. Of course everybody was alarmed. Old people shook their heads and said little, and young folks cared not to wander abroad after dark. Even the rude and unbelieving Commonwealth man ceased his swaggering and said his prayers when he passed by any of the haunts of the warrior-soul. So long as the Puritans ruled nothing could be done the spirits are not amenable to such as they but years after, when a prelate sat once more in the chair of St. Oswald at Worcester, a well-remembered and successful attempt was made to lay the ghost.”
One midnight so says the legend the bishop and the neighboring clergy, accompanied by a large concourse of people, proceeded to the church, near the altar of which was the grave of the old knight, covered with an inscribed stone. It was a wild night. The rain fell fast, the daws and owls screeched in the belfry, the lightning flashed and the thunder rolled as though the day of doom had come, and the wind roared angrily as it shook the building and swayed the tall elms. The people began to imagine that the powers of darkness divined their purpose and were causing the elements to war against them, and a number of them waved yew branches and rang the bells to drive away the evil ones. But the storm raged as fiercely as ever. When the bishop, standing on the altar-steps, solemnly adjured the knight to appear, there was intense and silent excitement as the echoes died away amid the distant arches, and every one trembled with fear lest the mandate should be obeyed. They who held the flaming torches stood as though ready to run, and even the clergy looked on with pallid faces. The charge was uttered again, and then again, three times, according to the form prescribed. Then came a blinding flash, then a very avalanche of thunder-billows, rattling like quickly-fired artillery, roaring like huge, breaking waves upon an ocean-shore ; the wild wind swept through the nave, and, lo ! in an instant all was still, and there in the midst of the terrified throng stood the old knight, his armor red with glowing fire, his head bowed toward the ground. No one moved; no one had strength or courage to run. The very men who over their ale had sworn that they had seen him time and time again were startled and stunned at the apparition. They looked with awe akin to horror, and some devoutly hoped that as a result of England’s sin the power of controlling demons and spirits was not taken away from the ministers of grace.
At last the old knight spoke
” What would ye with me ? Why have ye disturbed my rest ?”
” Because,” said one standing close by, ” thou cant not sleep in peace.”
” Hath England peace ?” asked the knight.
It hath,” the man replied. The king’s son sits on royal Charles’s throne; the Church hath her own again, and loyal men till the land as in the old time.”
“‘Tis well,” responded the knight. Then why trouble ye me ?”
” We fear to see thee in the dismal shadows,” another said ; “we dread to have one with us who belongs to another world.”
“Thou thinkest I am worse than ye ?” said the old knight, with a scornful laugh which seemed to drive life itself out of some hearts. ” I go to church as often as any here.”
” That dost thou, sir,” the bishop exclaimed, jubilantly, but thou leavest thy heart at home.”
This rejoinder was unanswerable, for everybody knows that a ghost does not take his heart about with him. The knight was therefore in the power of the bishop, and by the law which obtains in such matters was bound to remain wherever he was laid. As a rule, spirits thus subdued were consigned to the depths of the Red Sea, where Pharaoh and his host abide in everlasting bondage; but sometimes the wishes of the ghost were considered, and he was allowed to choose a place for himself. Frequently the ghost would select his resting-spot among the roots of an apple tree or under a gate-post or a front doorstep, or near a spring of water, or in some other strange and unexpected position ; from which we gather that ghosts were facetious as well as troublesome. The old knight saw his mistake, and bowed in token of submission.
” Where wilt thou that we lay thee ?” asked the bishop.
Give me thy blessing, reverend lord, and I will go in peace,” the knight replied.
The blessing was given; the people looked to the spirit, and as they looked it vanished from their sight. From that hour one soul at least remained at rest. Nobody ever saw or heard the knight of Edge-hill again, and doubtless he has long since passed into regions far from this of ours.
I remember how anxiously the ancient gentleman who told me this story sought to impress me with its truth.
Whether it were in the summer afternoon as we sat together on the wooden bench under the box tree in his garden, or in the winter evening around his fire before the candles were lighted, he would always add, by way of finally disposing of any possible doubt,
“There is Edgehill, and there was a battle ; and what more can any reasonable man need ?”
But time passes, and I have yet miles to go before my day’s jaunt is over. From the spot where I have rested for the last half hour to the Tower is only a few minutes’ walk. This building, erected about the middle of the last century, marks the place where the royal standard stood on the day of battle. It is a sham ruin, and as a sham ought to have no place in either heaven or earth. The view from its walls is splendid, and, as it is a public-house, refreshments as well as relics can be obtained there. As I got over the stile from the bridle-path into the road I asked a man who stood leaning against a gate if the place had any other name than that of the ” Tower.” He looked at me with grave stupidity ; I repeated my question. A woman looked out of a cottage door close by, and said ” Old Israel’s deaf, sir.” But even she was not able to give me any information.
I wandered on along the hot and dusty highway, the very road on which the king’s army marched in the dusk of that October morning. On the way to Warmington, close by, are the remains of a veritable British camp. Here one may stop and picture the scenes, not of two hundred years since, but of two thousand. In those re-mote ages the land was a wilderness and its inhabitants were fierce, savage and heathen. With bow and sharp stone-headed arrows, and javelin, axe and club, they hunted the beasts of the forest or lay in wait for and struggled with their human foes. I fancy I can see them moving stealthily along through the tall grass and watching me with wild, restless eye from yonder bushy hedge, ready to spring upon me as I stand here. This was their village-home a place of huts or wigwams made of poles and wattled work and thatched with rushes or covered with sods. A hole in the side of the simple structure served both as a chimney for the smoke and as a door for the inmates. Around were rough palisades and high earth-banks. The valle and the fosse of this camp still remain. In this open space the thick-limbed and skin-clad warriors, fearless of death and cruel as the wolves in the jungle-like woodland, listened to the decisions of their chief and prepared for battle. Their women, more degraded, worse clothed and dirtier than themselves, stood by to urge them on to deeds of blood. Doubtless the unkempt, brown-skinned boys searched the hillside hereabouts for nests in the spring and nuts in the autumn, and learned, as savages learn, by expo-sure and trial, the skill and the habits of their fathers. The soil, badly tilled, supplied the family with a few roots; cows and goats, half tamed and thriving poorly in captivity, gave them milk, and the forest furnished them with fuel. The only thing natural to us about the hut or the camp would be the cat. Puss was there, as happy and contented as she was among the Egyptians two thousand years earlier, and as she is amongst us to-day. This ancient camp was admirably chosen for military purposes, and, situated, as it is, at the extreme point of Edgehill, commands a wide stretch of country. Now, even as the bell-tones gently wafted from some village church near by proclaim that the cross has triumphed over the old heathendom, so the soft green robe which Nature has cast over the place declares that the hidden past has been forgiven and that peace reigns.
The road down the hill to Kineton is steep, and by a notice on a board at the top bicyclers are informed that it is dangerous. In the way I meet a heavily-laden wagon slowly coming up the hill. What ponderous wheels ! and what mighty horses ! The driver is clad in corduroys and smock-frock, with thick hob-nailed boots on his feet and a great wide-awake on his head. His hair is lank and long and his stubbled beard has not been cut for some time. He walks beside the team, his bending shoulders suggesting hard work rather than age, and the loud smack of his whip, with his “Coom hup, nu !” and his whistle, indicating both vigor and interest in his work. The broiling sun pours fiercely down upon him, but no sun could make him browner than he is or cause the perspiration to drop more freely from his face. When I pass him, he stops his wagon, getting a huge stone from the roadside to put under one of the hind wheels, and asks the time of day. It is past one. How far to Kineton? Three miles and a half from the Tower the best part of three miles from here.
“Dear me!” I say, “and along that dry, unshaded road ! It’s enough to roast one, such a day as this.”
” Us must expect ‘ot waythur this tiime o’ yaare,” he replies, philosophically, and leisurely wiping his face with his large white-spotted red handkerchief.
” It’s a hard pull for your horses up this hill,” I remark.
” Them dunna miind it ; uld Beetty aar ah gooód un to goo, and Buuttarcoop ahn’t ah bad un. And gooin’ hup ahnt as bad as gooin’ doon. Gooin’ doon ‘ill aar allus bad. Ah mon mah breeak ‘is neck gooin’ doon ‘ill, an’ theen ee’s dun fur.”
I move on. Then I hear the ” Gee hup, uld gaal,” ” Pool awah theer, maw luve,” and the harness cracks and the wagon creaks, and on the heavy load goes round the turn in the highway and up the hill. It is not only in the moral sense that going down hill is bad which sense the driver’s words naturally suggested but it is also bad physically. Try it in the blazing sunshine after a walk of ten miles, for the most part across soft meadows and through shaded woods. The hands become swollen, the legs get stiff and the feet feel as if they were going through the toes of the shoes. This was the most uncomfortable bit in my day’s journey, but then pleasures must be expected to have their correlative pains, and what is a wearisome tramp of a mile or two, even down hill and along a sunburnt road, to compare with the delights of a stroll through the country-side ? Besides, Providence is generally kind under such circumstances : some vehicle drives up with the horse’s head in the right direction, and the cheery welcome to a lift makes one forget the heat and the toil. Here is my chance coming a chaise with an elderly gentleman, fat, and therefore good-natured. Is he going far my way ? I have not time to ask, for he stops his pony and inquires if I am going to Kineton. The very place, and off we drive together. He is from Banbury. Do I know Banbury ? Rather : I ate Banbury cakes at the time I began to ride to Banbury Cross. It is a prosperous town, but in old days it was awfully Puritan. The story goes that a man there of that persuasion once hanged his cat on Monday for killing a mouse on Sun-day. The church has no steeple, but the cheese has a reputation centuries old; Camden implies that it was good, but Shakespeare makes Bardolph speak of it as though it were thin and soft. No ; I shall not be able to visit the place this time. I know something of its history: the elderly gentleman is disposed to antiquity as well as to adiposity. There was once a battle fought there in early Saxon times that of the Wessex men against the Britons about A. D. 550 ? Yes. So some have said, but it was in Wiltshire, and not here at Byran-byrig, and not at Banes-byrig. I know nothing about that, but I am right in charging the Parliamentarians with pulling down the ancient castle after the royalists had held it under siege for three months, and before they surrendered were reduced to such straits that they ate up all their horses but two. People drive in for miles to the fair, where, among other things, they get some of the best beef and the strongest ale in the country and see the biggest woman in the world and the only original Tom Thumb. The latter individual seems to be ubiquitous and sempiternal. I have seen the ” only original ” in my day on both sides of the Atlantic ; old folks have told me that they saw him three-quarters of a century earlier than I did ; a ballad of the reign of Charles I. speaks of him as a hero of King Arthur’s time, when he was swallowed by a cow, tumbled into a pudding, and was finally eaten by a giant ; a village in Rutlandshire claims to be his birthplace and declares that he was served up in a royal pie ; and lastly the folk-lorists come in and say that the whole story is a myth of Northern origin. Any way, they had the little fellow at Banbury Fair had him for years and the farmers and the gamekeepers, dressed up in their Sunday velveteen, and the laborers and the laborers’ wives, and young men and young women, also dressed up in their best, used to look upon him with the greatest interest and believe all that the showman said concerning him.
So, chatting merrily about one thing and another, we jogged along the road to Kineton.