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A TALL WINDMILL
The weather being fine and having finished our interview with our landlord, we started off without further delay, anxious to have as much time as possible before us for our day's explorations. The country still continued level, the road winding in and out thereof, as though determined to cover twice as much ground as needful in getting from place to place. Just beyond Wainfleet we passed, close to our way, the tallest windmill I think I have ever seen; it looked more like a lighthouse with sails attached than a proper windmill; it was presumably so built to obtain all the breezes possible, as in a flat country the foliage of the growing trees around is apt to deprive a mill of much of its motive power. In fact an Essex miller once told me that owing to the growth of the trees around his mill since it was first built, he could hardly ever work it in the summer time on account of the foliage robbing him of so much wind. Then as we drove on we caught a peep of low wooded hills ahead, showing an uneven outline, faintly blue, with touches of orange here and there where the sun's rays rested on the golden autumn leafage, now lighting up one spot, now another. We were delighted to observe that our road led apparently in the direction of these hills, for they gave promise of pleasant wanderings.
Farther on we reached a pretty little village, with its church picturesquely crowning a knoll. Here we pulled up for a moment to ask the name of the place from a man at work by the roadside. “This be I-r-b-y,” he responded, spelling not pronouncing the name, somewhat to our surprise ; so we asked him why he did so. “Well, sir, you see there be another village not far off called Orby, only it begins with a 'O' and ours begins with a "T,' and the names do sound so alike when you speaks them, that we generally spells them to strangers to make sure. Often folk comes here who wants to go to Orby, and often folk who wants to come here gets directed to Orby. One of the names ought to be changed, it would save a lot of trouble and loss of temper.” Then we asked him how far it was to Halton Holgate, and he said he thought it was about three miles, but he was not quite sure, not being a good judge of distances; “it might be more or it might be less,” which was rather vague. Indeed we noticed generally in Lincolnshire how hard it was to obtain a precise reply to any query as to distance. Here is a sample of a few of the delightfully indefinite answers made to us from time to time when seeking information on this point. “Oh! not very far.” “Some goodish bit on yet.” “Just a little farther on.” “A longish way off.” “A few miles more." To the last reply a further query as to how many miles only brought the inconclusive response, “Oh! not many."
In due time we bade good-bye to the level country, for our road now led us up quite a respectable hill and through a rock cutting that was spanned at one point by a rustic bridge. It was a treat to see the great gray strong rocks after our long wandering in Fenland. The character of the
QUESTIONING A NATIVE
scenery was entirely changed, we had touched the fringe of the Wold region, the highlands of Lincolnshire—"Wide, wild, and open to the air.” At the top of the hill we arrived at a scattered little village, and this proved to be Halton Holgate. The church stood on one side of the road, the rectory on the other; to the latter we at once made our way, trusting to learn something authoritative about the haunted house from the rector, and hoping that perhaps we might obtain an introduction to the tenant through him. Unfortunately the rector was out, and not expected back till the evening. This was disappointing. The only thing to do now was to find our way to the house, and trust to our usual good fortune to obtain admission and an interview with the farmer's wife.
We accosted the first native we met. Of him we boldly asked our way to the “haunted house,” for we did not even know the name of it. But our query was sufficient, evidently the humble homestead had become famous, and had well established its reputation. We were directed to a footpath which we were told to follow across some fields, “it will take you right there.” Then we ventured to ask the native if he had heard much about the ghost. He replied laconically, “Rather.” Did he believe in it? “Rather” again. We were not gaining much by our queries, the native did not appear to be of a communicative nature, and our attempts to draw him out were not very successful. To a further question if many people came to see the house, we received the same reply. Mani