TALES OF NORTHUMBRIA - 13 Tales from Northern England - Howard Pease - ebook
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The tales which make up this volume all appeared in print in various publications before 1899 (some of which have since gone out of circulation). ‘A Long Main,’ ‘In Memoriov’m,’ in the National Observer; ‘The Protégé,’ in the Queen; ‘Quaker John and Yankee Bill,’ ‘T’Owd Squire,’ ‘An Ammytoor Detective,’ in the Newcastle Courant; ‘À l’Outrance,’ in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle; and the remaining six in the Newcastle Daily Leader. So popular were they that the author was persuaded to put them into one volume “Tales of Northumbria”. But why Northumbria you ask? Well some of them stretch back in time to when the term Northumbria was still in use. Herein you will find 13 tales from Northumbria, Northumberland and the surrounding area. These are: ‘A Long Main’ The Squire’s Last Ride À L’outrance ‘T’owd Squire’ An ‘Ammytoor’ Detective ‘In Memoriov’m’ ‘The Heckler’ Upon Womenfolk The ‘Caleb Jay’ Geordie Armstrong ‘The Jesu-Yte’ ‘Geordie Ride-The-Stang’ Yankee Bill And Quaker John The Protégé The Spanish Doubloon This volume is sure to keep you enchanted for hours, if only not because of the story’s content, but because of their quality, and they will have you coming back for more time-and-again. ============ KEYWORDS/TAGS: folklore, fairy tales, myths, legend, land, , stories, wonder tales, A Long Main, Squire, Last Ride, L’outrance, T’owd, Ammytoor, Detective, In Memoriov’m, memoriam, Heckler, Womenfolk, Caleb Jay, Geordie Armstrong, The Jesu-Yte, Jesuit, Ride-The-Stang, Yankee Bill, Quaker John, Protégé, Spanish, Doubloon, short stories, characters

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TALES OFNORTHUMBRIA

By Howard Pease

Originally Published byMethuen & Co., London[1899]

Resurrected byAbela Publishing, London[2018]

Tales Of Northumbria

Typographical arrangement of this edition

© Abela Publishing 2018

This book may not be reproduced in its current format in any manner in any media, or transmitted by any means whatsoever, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, or mechanical ( including photocopy, file or video recording, internet web sites, blogs, wikis, or any other information storage and retrieval system) except as permitted by law without the prior written permission

of the publisher.

Abela Publishing,

London

United Kingdom

ISBN-: 978-X-XXXXXX-XX-X

email:

[email protected]

Website

Abela Publishing

ABELA: Zulu – to share or distribute

Dedication

Earl Grey

Ever keenly interested in whateverconcerns his native countythese sketches of northumbrian characterare dedicated by the author.

Contents

Northumberland

‘A Long Main’

The Squire’s Last Ride

À L’outrance

‘T’owd Squire’

An ‘Ammytoor’ Detective

‘In Memoriov’m’

‘The Heckler’ Upon Womenfolk

The ‘Caleb Jay’

Geordie Armstrong ‘The Jesu-Yte’

‘Geordie Ride-The-Stang’

Yankee Bill And Quaker John

The Protégé

The Spanish Doubloon

Footnotes

Acknowledgements

The tales that go to make up this small volume have already appeared in print: the first part of the Introduction, ‘A Long Main,’ ‘In Memoriov’m,’ in the National Observer; ‘The Protégé,’ in the Queen; ‘Quaker John and Yankee Bill,’ ‘T’Owd Squire,’ ‘An Ammytoor Detective,’ in the Newcastle Courant; ‘À l’Outrance,’ in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle; and the remaining six in the Newcastle Daily Leader. I desire to tender my thanks herewith to the various editors concerned.

H. P.

Tales Of Northumbria

Northumberland

It is generally admitted that your Northumbrian pre-eminently possesses the quality which the pious but worldly Scotchman was used to pray for, namely, ‘a guid conceit o’ hissel’.’

It is the more unfortunate, therefore, that of late years a considerable landslip should have taken place in the ground whereon his reputation rested.

The local poet no longer hymns the ‘Champions o’ Tyneside,’ for Chambers and Renforth and other heroes have long since departed, leaving ‘no issue.’

Advancing civilization, again, has, it is to be feared, made havoc of the proud insularity of the Northumbrian squirearchy. No longer are they content, like the Osbaldistones of yore, to devote themselves to cellar and stable, to stay at home, contemptuous of London and its politics, of travel and of new ideas. ‘Markham’s Farriery’ and the ‘Guide to Heraldry’ have lost their pristine charm, and the Northumbrian is, as a consequence, foregoing his ancient characteristics merely to become provincial.

‘Geordie Pitman’ alone makes a stand against all modern innovation. Firm in his pele tower of ancient superiority, he is still convinced of the superiority of all things Northumbrian.

‘Champions’ may have died out elsewhere, and patriotism be decayed in the higher social ranks, but in the pit-village there still lingers an admirable quantity of the old self-love.

In each separate village you may find some half-dozen self-styled ‘champions’ who will match themselves against ‘any man in the world’ for £10 or £15 a side at their own particular hobby or pastime.

Defeat has little effect upon a ‘champion’: like Antæus, he picks himself up the stronger for a fall, and having advertised himself in the papers as ‘not being satisfied’ with his beating, challenges another attempt forthwith.

Now this self-satisfaction—though somewhat decayed of late—is probably one of the oldest strains in the Northumbrian character, having been developed, doubtless, in the first instance, under stress of constant raid and foray, and but little affected thereafter—owing to the remoteness of the county both from the universities and from London—by the higher standards of softer and more civilized centres.

After this, the next most predominant trait is a love of sport, for which the climate, together with the physical conformation of the county, may be held responsible; for the open aspect of the plain, the crown of bare western hills, the wind-swept moorland and the sea, suggest a life of hard endurance and fatigue, the strenuous toil of the hunter, the keen excitements of the chase.

Still, as of old, the wide and spreading grasslands try horse and rider with a tempting challenge, as of one who cries, ‘Come, who will tire first?’ The music of the hounds sweeps down the brae: ‘Yoi—yoi—yoi!’ quivers the cry from the streaming pack. Onward the rider gallops, the plover perchance rising at his horse’s heels, the long note of the curlew sounding in his ears, the breath of the west wind racing in his nostrils; he may see on this side the purple bar of Cheviot, on the other the blue, flat line of the sea, and therewith—if ever in his life—may taste of the primeval joy of living—of the joy of the early hunter who lived with his horse as with a comrade, drew from the sea the ‘sacred fish,’ from the moorland the ‘winged fowl,’ and knew not discontent.

The beauty of the southern counties is not to be met with here.

The south is the well-dowered matron, the north a bare-headed gipsy-lass, freckled with sun and wind, who ‘fends’ for her living with strategies of hand and head.

Still, in the northern blood, the heritage of the ‘raid’ and the ‘foray’ abides, and still, as of old, are the children of the Borderland nursed by the keen wind of the moorland and the sea. ‘Hard and heather-bred’ ran the ancient North-Tyne slogan; ‘hard and heather-bred—yet—yet—yet.’

‘A Long Main’

‘So you’re a county family?’ I echoed, and, though it may have been impolite, I could not forbear a smile, for never had I seen County Family so well disguised before.

‘Ay,’ replied Geordie Crozier, ‘I is,’ and forthwith proceeded to search in the pocket of his pit-knickerbockers for his ‘cutty.’ He had just come up to ‘bank’ from the ‘fore-shift,’ and was leaning on a waggon on the pit-heap, about to have a smoke before going home for a ‘wesh,’ dinner, and bed. ‘The last ov us,’ he continued, having lit his pipe, ‘that had Crozier Hall was grandfeythor—Jake Crozier, of Crozier Hall, was his name an’ address, an’—an’—I’s his relics.’

I glanced at the ‘relics’ afresh—six foot two if he was an inch, and broad in proportion, a magnificent pair of arms—he was champion hewer at the colliery—with legs to match, though slightly bowed through the constant stooping underground. Under the mask of coal-dust his eyes gleamed like pearls, and a thrusting lower lip, backed by a square jaw, gave evidence of determination and the faculty of enjoyment. A short, well-trimmed beard put the finishing touch to ‘the Squire,’ for so his friends styled him, half in jest.

‘Well, and how was it lost?’ said I. ‘Was “cellar and stable,” the good old Northumbrian motto, his epitaph? Or did your grandfather take an even quicker road to the bailiffs?’

‘Grandfeythor was like us, I b’lieve; he was a fine spender but an ill saver, an’ he had a h—— ov a time till the mortgages gave oot, for he was a tarr’ble tasteful man—lasses, greyhounds, an’ horses, racin’, drinkin’, cockin’, an’ card-playin’ were aal hobbies ov his at one time or another, but what was warse than aal this put togither was that he never wud be beat. Everything he had must be the best, an’ the fact that anythin’ belonged to him was quite enough to prove to him it was the best o’ the sort i’ the county. Well, for a while as a young man things went well o’ him. He win the Plate[1] two years runnin’, an’ many was the cock-fight an’ coursin’ match he pulled off wiv his cocks an’ his hounds; but there was a chap came oot o’ Aadcastle who was one too many for him at the finish. This chap had made a vast o’ brass i’ the toon at ship-buildin’ or such like, an’ bein’ wishful to set hisself up as a big pot, had hired a big place next grandfeythor’s i’ the country. Well, grandfeythor couldn’t abide him, for, bein’ a red-hot Tory, he didn’t believe i’ one man bein’ as good as another at aal, an’ when, as happened shortlies, his neighbour’s son came sweetheartin’ his daughter, he says, “No Crozier lass ever yet married a shopkeeper’s son, an’ they never shall as long as I’m above ground—orffice boys mun marry wi’ orffice gals,” says he.

‘Well, the lad’s feythor was tarr’ble vext at this, an’ he swears he’ll have his revenge on the Squire—an’ it wasn’t long before he got his opportunity.

‘He’d set hissel’ up as a sportin’ man, ye ken, when he come to the country, an’ wes tarr’ble keen o’ shootin’ wiv a gun, an’ occasionally he meets grandfeythor at a shootin’ party, an’ always takes the opportunity to differ from him i’ a polite sort o’ way on every topic under the sun.

‘Well, after their dinners one day, grandfeythor, bein’ fairly full up wi’ beer, ye ken, begins sneering at all toon’s folk settin’ up as sportsmen. “It stan’s to reason,” says he, “if a man’s forbears have never handled a gun, nor shot nowt mevvies[2] but a hoody crow or a seagull on a holiday, that the bairns canna shoot either, for it’s bred an’ born in a man—it’s part o’ his birthright, like a fam’ly jool,” says he; “a heditary gift, the same as a proper knowledge o’ horseflesh, fightin’ cocks, greyhounds an’ aal; money won’t buy it, an’ it’s no use argifyin’ aboot it, for it’s a fact, and the will o’ Providence,” says he.

‘Noo, when grandfeythor got on aboot Providence, most folks, I b’lieve, used to say nowt, but Smithson—that was the chap’s name—he gies a sort o’ tee-hee at this oot loud, which would be the same as if you or me were to say, “It’s just d——d nonsense.”

‘Well, there was a tarr’ble tow-row at this, grandfeythor as red as a bubbly-jock an’ swearin’ like a drunken fishwife, and Smithson as polite as a counter-jumper wiv his “pardon me’s” and “pray be seated, sirs”—aal to no effect.

‘At the finish, when matters were quieted doon a bit, Smithson offers to back hissel’ at a shootin’ match wi’ grandfeythor for £1,000 a side, an’ also at a cockin’ match—“a long main” it was to be—twenty battles at £100 the “battle” and £1,000 the “main.”

‘Well, aal the comp’ny thought it was just a bit swagger on the part o’ Smithson, an’ that when the time came he’d just cry off an’ pay forfeit, for the match was to take place in three weeks’ time, and never a cock had Smithson in his place ava, whereas grandfeythor, he had a rare breed, the best i’ the county—mixed Rothbury an’ Felton—an’ the old Felton breed was the one the King o’ England win his brass ower formerly.

‘The time comes, an’ the comp’ny is aal assembled i’ the cock-pit at Bridgeton, grandfeythor, full o’ beans an’ bounce, backin’ hissel’ like a prize-fighter, takin’ snuff an’ handin’ roon’ the box to his friends, an’ sayin’ noo an’ again, “Where’s that dam’ fellow Smithson?”

‘Well, the clock on the old tower was just on the stroke of ten, when in saunters Smithson, cool as a ha’penny ice, an’ behind him, in green and gold liv’ries, come ten flunkies each wi’ two big bags behind his shoulder, an’ in each bag a tarr’ble fine fightin’ cock.

‘Where he’d gathered them nobody knew save old Ned Stevison—an ancient old cock-fighter o’ Bridgeton, who loved cocks more than many a man his missus. “The Moonlight Breed” he called them, but they had a strain of the famous old Lord Derby’s breed i’ them, and were blood uns to the bone.

‘Some half dozen were Stevison’s own, but the remainder ’twas said he had stolen from awa doon Sooth for Smithson, an’ anyways “Captain Moonlight” was his nickname ever afterwards.

‘Well, they weighs aal the cocks; from six to six and a half pounds their weight was to be, an’ the fight commences.

‘Bob Stevison fought Smithson’s cocks for him, an’ grandfeythor fought his own, kneelin’ doon on the cock-pit floor wiv his coat off so as to handle them the better.

‘The first two or three battles grandfeythor wins easy, Stevison using his warst cocks at the first, d’ye see, oot o’ craft mevvies to get longer odds i’ the bettin’, so that at one time grandfeythor was five battles to two to the good; a bit later it was eight all, an’ the excitement was immense, bets flyin’ aboot like snowflakes at Christmas.

‘Then Stevison oots wiv a beauty—a perfect picture it was ov a fighter; eyes like a furnace at night, liftin’ his legs like a Derby winner, wings an’ tail clipped short—aal glossy wi’ health an’ shinin’ like mahogany.

‘Stevison runs him up an’ doon the floor to heat his blood, an’ tweaks a feather doon from his rump—that was a clever trick he had, to madden his cock just before the start—an’ holds him ready for the battle.

‘Then grandfeythor, he oots wiv his champion cock—“Stingo,” he called him—an old favouryte ov his, a gran’ bird too, six years old, an’ a little past his prime mevvies, though he’d never lost a battle in his life.

‘As soon as they sees each other “Stingo” gies a bit triumphant crow, an’ leans forward from his master’s hand to try an’ nip hold o’ the other wiv his beak. The other says nowt, just looks at him wi’ fiery eyes red hot wi’ murder, an’ as soon as ever his feet touch the sawdust bends low, then springs straight for Stingo, drivin’ wiv his spur o’ shinin’ steel right for his heart.

‘Just i’ the nick o’ time Stingo leaps i’ the air to meet him; there’s a “click, click,” “click, click,” as o’ daggers crossin’, an’ pantin’ from the shock, doon sinks either bird to the ground.

‘Stevison’s mouth was tremblin’ like a bairn’s as he took his favouryte up, for there was blood on his lower breast feathers, but Stingo wasn’t touched ava, an’ grandfeythor, puffed oot wi’ pride, claps a bit mair o’ the fam’ly property on to his champion.

‘It was a bit lesson for the other cock; he was just as determined as ever, but a bit quieter like; round an’ round Stingo he goes like a prize-fighter, clickin’ in noo an’ again as he thought he saw his openin’, an’ when they grappled tegither wi’ their beaks, though his comb was almost torn in two, he hammered for Stingo’s eye as a blacksmith hammers on his anvil.

‘After about fifteen minutes neither cock could stand straight; at a distance you’d have said they was both as drunk as my lord; both were drippin’ blood; Stingo had lost an’ eye, an’ neither o’ t’other’s were much use to him, bein’ bunged up wi’ bruised flesh. They staggered aboot here an’ there; knocked up against each other in a blind-man’s “beg-pardin” sort o’ way. Every noo and again the Moonlight cock would pull himself together, hop feebly into the air, an’ strike wiv his spurs, but as often as not the air was all he hit, for, his eyesight bein’ aal askew, he couldn’t aim straight, an’ doon he would flop on his tail end, coughin’ an’ choakin’ wi’ blood—powerless, yet mad to gan on fightin’.

‘At the finish he gets Stingo pinned up against the cockpit bars, an’, thinkin’ he has him noo, gies a feeble craw, lifts hissel’ into the air, an’ claps for his heart wiv his spurs.

‘There was a bit clash in the held-breath stillness of the place, then a tiny moan, an’, by Gox! there was Moonlight lyin’ flat on his back on the sawdust wiv one leg broke in two an’ danglin’ wiv its spur like a watch-chain on his breast.

‘Such a hullaballoo as there was, grandfeythor yellin’ like an Injun! “Pick up yo’r bird,” he cries, “he’s a dead un!” for there was Stingo a-top o’ Moonlight peckin’ at what was left ov his head-piece like a blackbird at a snail.

‘Stevison never moved, but his gills went flutterin’ like those ov a dyin’ fish; he couldn’t speak, but I b’lieve he was prayin’ for his favouryte.

‘A minute passed, then Moonlight comes to; he beats wiv his wings, struggles, crawls an inch or two, manages to shake off Stingo, then hoistin’ hissel’ up once again wiv his one leg an’ wings slashes wiv his spur, and by the damn’dest luck lands it in Stingo’s eye.

‘Doon in a motionless heap they falls, an’ when they’re separated Stingo’s dead as a leg o’ mutton.

‘The rest o’ the comp’ny yells and shouts; some says Moonlight’s a dead un, too, an’ it’s a drawn battle, an’ grandfeythor, he swears his bird can still fight, while Stevison, unable to find his voice, picks up Moonlight, an’ finally claps a great kiss on to the middle ov his back, an’ when he sets him doon again wiv a drop brandy in his mouth he sets up a feeble craw of defiance, plainly axin’, “Who the deevil says I’s a dead un?”

‘After that it was all up wi’ grandfeythor; the stuffin’ seemed knocked oot o’ him an’ his cocks by the loss ov his favouryte, an’ in the next battle another of his best birds had his heart squashed oot, like a ripe gooseberry, at the vary first encounter.

‘It was a black day that for grandfeythor, but, as I was sayin’ at the start, he never gies in, an’ he comforts hissel’ wi’ thinkin’ he’d make matters square up an’ a bit to spare by the shootin’ match which was to follow in a fortnight’s time.

‘Smithson had agreed to shoot off the match at Crozier Hall, for grandfeythor had aboot the best shootin’ in the county at the time, an’ there was one place famous for the grand shots ye got overhead between two woods planted on either side of a dene, ye ken.

‘There was stubbles an’ beanfields usuallies beyond, an’ the pheasants, when driven off, used to fly right across the haugh below over into the woods beyond—mevvies aboot two hundred yards awa’.

‘Well, the great day comes. A fine, sunshiny October day it was, wiv a bit o’ wind from the west—the way the birds was to fly, ye ken, an’ a tarr’ble big comp’ny was assembled to see grandfeythor gie “the furrinor” his gruel.

‘Grandfeythor was i’ tremendous spirits that mornin’, an’ as full o’ gob as a torkey-cock; nothin’ could hold him; the world was a toy to him—like the geography chap[3] i’ the bairns’ books, ye ken—he felt sae tarr’ble strong an’ healthy. “Eyeball clear as a bairn’s,” says he, “hand steady as a rock, digestion a marvel,” an’ he pats hissel’ on the stomach as pleased as Punch.

‘They tosses as to who shoots first, an’ the coin comes doon for grandfeythor, an’ mighty delighted he was to be the first to shoot. There wasn’t much chance o’ grandfeythor’s bettin’ as much as he wished for, for naebody thought Smithson had a chanst, but what he could get he gobbled up like a hungry trout—fearfu’ odds they was—six to one on himself he had to lay, an’ often a bit more.

‘The match was for £1,000 a side, a hundred shots each at the first hundred pheasants within shot, an’ the referee to decide any disputed points.

‘Grandfeythor takes up his stand aboot thirty yards awa’ from the wood’s edge; then the referee fires a pistol, the head-beater i’ the wood above waves a white flag, an’ there’s a dead stillness as though we were aal i’ church prayin’.

‘There was a big clump o’ fir-trees standin’ right oot from the thick o’ the wood’s edge about fifty yards off mevvies, an’ two o’ the firs stood oot high above their fellows, an’ that was where the pheasants always broke oot, whizzin’ up like rockets as they came ower the top o’ them, an’ it was just at that point that grandfeythor had always nicked them clever—just as they cleared the rise of the topmost tree, ye ken, an’ started on their level flight for the opposite side. If ye missed them i’ front ye hadn’t much chanst behind, for they swept awa’ like lightnin’ doon the wind before ye could get turned round. Well, aal was stillness as I said, when sudden there comes a far-away cry through the clear air—“Cock forrard, cock forrard!” an’ in another two seconds there comes a clap o’ wings from above. Bang! gans grandfeythor’s gun, as a fine cock sweeps overhead. “D——!” says he, wiv a flush on his cheek; for aal there was to show was some half-dozen tail feathers left twirlin’, as if in mock’ry, forty yards in the air above him.

‘“Cock forrard, cock forrard!” comes the cry again, an’ grandfeythor grips a firmer stand wiv his feet, an’ grasps his weapon a bit tighter than before. Bang, bang! this time, an’ the cock gies a frightful lurch as though about to fall headlong, but steadies hissel’, rises a bit, an’ wins over to the other side.

‘“H——!” yells grandfeythor, trembling wi’ rage, an’ stamps upon the ground. “Cock forrard, cock forrard!” again comes the beater’s cry, an’ half a dozen come flightin’ overhead at once.

‘Bang! once again, an’ grandfeythor wiv a groan flings his gun to the ground, for he had missed altogether that time.

‘“I’m fair bewitched,” he cries, and aal the while the pheasants were streamin’ overhead.

‘He trembled aal over, an’ we thought he was gannin’ to have a fit, for his brow was damp wi’ drops o’ sweat, an’ his eye wild an’ glassy. “Thoo damned fellow,” he cries, glancing round at Smithson, an’ takes a step towards him, “thoo’s cozened me somehow, thoo must have poisoned my beer!” he yells.

‘“Steady, sir, for God’s sake, steady!” says the keeper in his ear, an’ offers him his gun again ready loaded for another shot, for aal the while the pheasants came liftin’ above their heads.

‘Well, he takes it up again, looks at it an’ feels as though he didn’t recognise it, as though it had injured him somehow, an’, tremblin’ aal over, takes up a stand again. After a shot or two he kills one in beautiful style, an’ gradually getting back a bit o’ confidence he gets warmed up, an’ at the finish he has seventy-five oot o’ the hundred—oot o’ the last twenty never missin’ one.

‘And noo it was Smithson’s turn.

‘He makes a splendid start, wipin’ up the first fifteen birds wivvoot an error; after that again the pheasants come wilder, an’ gettin’ flurried belike, he tailors them. Then he gets steadied once more, an’ at the finish has ten cartridges left an’ seventy birds doon.

‘A wunnerfu’ chap for nerve he was, was Smithson; the mair excitement the cooler he gets.

‘A hen pheasant comes sailin’ awa’ to the right some sixty yards off.

‘“In shot?” asked he, as though he were passin’ the time o’ day.

‘“Shoot,” cries the referee, an’ ping, ping! gans two cartridges, but he cannot stop her, she was ower far off, though she left a trail o’ feathers ahint her.

‘He gets another fearfu’ hard one to the left this time, an’ it takes two cartridges to settle number seventy-one—six cartridges left an’ five birds to bag.

‘Wow! but the excitement was painfu’, an’ folks fell to bettin’ i’ quick whispers, “Two to one against Smithson,” an’ he takes it wiv a nod, smilin’ if you please.

‘The next three he gets, then he misses a longish shot, two cartridges left an’ two birds to knock doon.

‘Here they come—two cocks high together overhead—be-eauties; suthin’ seems wrang wi’ trigger or cartridge, an’ Smithson misses first barrel.

‘“I’ve won!” yells grandfeythor, an’ tosses his cap i’ the air. Bang! says Smithson’s second barrel, an’ doon comes the two cock pheasants togither. The first had swerved, d’ye see, an’ jostled up against the second, an’ Smithson cops ’em both wiv his last cartridge an’ wins on the post, seventy-six to seventy-five. Gox! but it was the nearest touch an’ go thing ever seen i’ the North Country, I’s warn’d, an’ wi’ that last cartridge bang gans Crozier Hall.’

‘Was there any trickery?’ I inquired; ‘had Smithson tampered with your grandfather’s cartridges, for instance?’

‘No, he’d not done that; he couldn’t ha’ done that, but he had tricked grandfeythor a bit, though it wasn’t found out till afterwards.

‘The way of it was this: Smithson was a d——d clever feller, ye ken, an’ knowin’ as he did that grandfeythor had a wunnerfu’ way o’ pickin’ off the pheasants just as they came over the topmost trees, he had sent two or three o’ his men i’ the night-time, an’ had fixed up a young fir right on to the top o’ the highest tree, so that Mr. Pheasant had to rise another six feet afore he cam’ ower.

‘Well, this was just enough to put grandfeythor oot ov his reckonin’s, an’ when he misses the first one, as he’d never done before, he cannot make it oot, he went clean flustered, thought he must have had a stroke, an’ swore he was bewitched, or poisoned, or such like.

‘It was a crool thing to do, but it wasn’t exactly what ye could call a Jew’s swindle—but, damn Smithson aal the same, I says; for here’s me, Geordie Crozier, left a po’r orphin i’ the warld wi’ none o’ his fam’ly property to belang to him, ’cept two gifts—the yen for drinkin’ an’ t’other for gamblin’, an’ it’s damn Smithson, says I.’