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in it, right over the animal's ears. He used to be very fond of going into the fields all alone, and lying on his back on the grass smoking a pipe. He was very reserved, and did not talk to people much ; and that's about all I know or have heard about him. You see, sir, ‘a prophet hath no honour in his own country, that's Scripture, so it must be true.” We nodded assent.
Then Mr. Baker showed us Sir Ingram Hopton's old home in the main street, and going down a narrow lane pointed out some bits of rough and ruined masonry, now built into walls and cottages; these crumbling bits of masonry, we were told, formed portions of the old castle. I must, however, confess that when castles come to this state of decay, they fail to arouse my sympathies, for their history in stone is over, and all their picturesqueness gone. After this we came to Mr. Baker's little sweetmeat-shop, situated in a by-street; we were ushered through the shop into a tiny and somewhat stuffy sitting-room. Here we were bidden to take a chair, and imagine ourselves at home; we did the former, the latter was beyond our power, the surroundings were so unfamiliar! Then Mr. Baker produced a parcel of letters written direct to him from sundry more or less notable people; three of these, we observed, to our surprise, were stamped at the top with the well-known name of an English royal palace. They were all addressed to “Dear Mr. Baker,” and bore the signature below of a royal personage! As we looked round the tiny humble parlour at the back of the sweetmeat-shop imme
diately after glancing at the letters, a certain sense of the incongruity of things struck us forcibly. Then we were handed another letter from the famous cricketer, Mr. W. G. Grace, complimenting Mr. Baker on his old round-arm bowling! “Maybe you would hardly think it,” remarked our host, “to look at me now, a gray old man, but I was a great cricketer once. Why, I bowled out at the very first ball the late Roger Iddison, when he was captain of the All-England Eleven." We felt inclined just then to say that we could believe anything! So we accepted the statement as a matter of course that the French (which one we were not told) Ambassador had been to see Mr. Baker. After this we were allowed to gaze upon and even handle his treasure of treasures, namely, the snuff-box of “ Bobbie Burns, the great Scotch poet,” in the shape of a small horn with a silver lid. This, we were assured, had once belonged to Burns. It may have done ; anyway, on the lid is inscribed “R. B., 1768,” and it looks that age.
Mr. Baker informed us that though he kept only a very small and unpretending sweet-shop, his mother's ancestors were titled, “but really the deed makes the nobleman and I make excellent sweets. I send them everywhere,” he said ; "you must try them,” whereupon he presented us with a tin box full of his “ Noted Bull's-Eyes." Let me here state that the bull's-eyes proved to be most excellent. I make this statement on the best authority, having given them to my children, and children should be the best judges of such luxuries, and they pronounced
them “most delicious.” Then Mr. Baker insisted upon singing to us an old English song; he would have added some ventriloquism, but we said that we really could not trespass upon his valuable time and hospitality any longer, so we took our departure, and sought the ease of our inn. We have come upon a goodly number of characters during our many driving tours, but I do not think that we have ever come upon a greater one than Mr. Baker ; long may he live yet! That I had never heard of him before I arrived in Horncastle seemed genuinely to surprise him! Well, I had not, “there are so many famous people in the world,” as I explained in excuse, “ nowadays you cannot really know of them all!” “That's quite true, sir," replied he, and we parted the best of friends. I am sure I was forgiven for my ignorance, for a little later that evening a parcel came for me to my hotel, and I found it to contain a quantity of gingerbread, “With Mr. Baker's compliments !'
A friend in a strange land-Horse sold in a church-A sport of the
past-Racing the moon !-Facts for the curious— The Champions of England -Scrivelsby Court-Brush magic-Coronation cups-A unique privilege—A blundering inscription--A headless body— Nine miles of beauty — Wragby — At Lincoln Guides and guide-books-An awkward predicament.
That evening, whilst looking over our day's sketches and notes in our cosy parlour at the Bull, we had a pleasant surprise. “A gentleman to see you,” said the be-ribboned waitress, whereupon in walked the antiquarian clergyman whose acquaintance we had made the day before, and who had so kindly given us introductions to the owners of Somersby Grange and Harrington Old Hall. “ I've just looked in,” exclaimed he, “to hear how you have fared and enjoyed your little explorationand for a chat,” and we bade him a hearty welcome. It was in truth very pleasant to find such good friends in strangers in a strange land!
A very delightful evening we spent together; our friend was a mine of information, a treasury of memories—apparently an inexhaustible mine and treasury—to say nothing of his store of old folk-lore. As he talked, I smoked the pipe of perfect peaceand listened, and took copious notes, most of which,
it proved afterwards, owing to the hurry in jotting them down, I could not make much of! One story amongst the number, however, I managed to take down in a readable form. This relates to an incident that took place last century at one of the great Horncastle horse fairs, a story that we were assured was “absolutely authentic.” I grant, for an authentic story, that the date is rather vague, but the exact one was given us, only I cannot make out my figures beyond 17—, but this is a detail ; however, the vicar's name is stated, which may afford a clue as to about the year. I transcribe the story from my notebook verbatim, just as we took it down :-Horse sold in Horncastle Church. Two dealers at the great horse fair in 17— tried to sell a horse to the vicar, Dr. Pennington. At their breakfast one Sunday morning the two dealers made a bet of a bottle of wine, one against the other, that he would sell his horse to the vicar first. Both attended divine service, each going in separately and unknown to the other. One sat by the door, intending to catch the vicar as he came out; the other sat close under the pulpit. As the vicar descended from the pulpit after a learned discourse, the dealer under the pulpit whispered, “Your reverence, I'm leaving early to-morrow morning, you'd better secure that mare.” The vicar whispered reply, “ I'll have her.” There is perhaps not very much in the story, but as we were assured by our clergyman friend that it was true, it may be repeated as showing the free and easy manners of the period, when at sundry times rural weddings and christenings had to