PUT YOURSELF IN HIS PLACE
PUT YOURSELF IN HIS PLACE
I will frame a work of fiction upon notorious fact so that anybody
shall think he can do the same; shall labor and toil attempting the
same and fail--such is the power of sequence and connection in
writing."--HORACE: Art of Poetry.
Hillsborough and its outlying suburbs make bricks by the million
spin and weave both wool and cotton forge in steel from the finest
needle up to a ship's armor and so add considerably to the
But industry so vast working by steam on a limited space has been
fatal to beauty: Hillsborough though built on one of the loveliest
sites in England is perhaps the most hideous town in creation. All
ups and down and back slums. Not one of its wriggling broken-
backed streets has handsome shops in an unbroken row. Houses seem
to have battled in the air and stuck wherever they tumbled down
dead out of the melee. But worst of all the city is pockmarked
with public-houses and bristles with high round chimneys. These
are not confined to a locality but stuck all over the place like
cloves in an orange. They defy the law and belch forth massy
volumes of black smoke that hang like acres of crape over the
place and veil the sun and the blue sky even in the brightest day.
But in a fog--why the air of Hillsborough looks a thing to plow if
you want a dirty job.
More than one crystal stream runs sparkling down the valleys and
enters the town; but they soon get defiled and creep through it
heavily charged with dyes clogged with putridity and bubbling with
poisonous gases till at last they turn to mere ink stink and
malaria and people the churchyards as they crawl.
This infernal city whose water is blacking and whose air is coal
lies in a basin of delight and beauty: noble slopes broad valleys
watered by rivers and brooks of singular beauty and fringed by fair
woods in places; and eastward the hills rise into mountains and
amongst them towers Cairnhope striped with silver rills and violet
in the setting sun.
Cairnhope is a forked mountain with a bosom of purple heather and a
craggy head. Between its forks stood at the period of my story a
great curiosity; which merits description on its own account and
also as the scene of curious incidents to come.
It was a deserted church. The walls were pierced with arrow-slits
through which the original worshipers had sent many a deadly shaft
in defense of their women and cattle collected within the sacred
edifice at the first news of marauders coming.
Built up among the heathery hills in times of war and trouble it
had outlived its uses. Its people had long ago gone down into the
fruitful valley and raised another church in their midst and left
this old house of God alone and silent as the tombs of their
forefathers that lay around it.
It was no ruin though on the road to decay. One of the side walls
was much lower than the other and the roof had two great waves and
was heavily clothed in natural patterns with velvet moss and
sprinkled all over with bright amber lichen: a few tiles had slipped
off in two places and showed the rafters brown with time and
weather: but the structure was solid and sound; the fallen tiles lay
undisturbed beneath the eaves; not a brick not a beam not a
gravestone had been stolen not even to build the new church: of the
diamond panes full half remained; the stone font was still in its
place with its Gothic cover richly carved; and four brasses
reposed in the chancel one of them loose in its bed.
What had caused the church to be deserted had kept it from being
desecrated; it was clean out of the way. No gypsy nor vagrant
ever slept there and even the boys of the village kept their
distance. Nothing would have pleased them better than to break the
sacred windows time had spared and defile the graves of their
forefathers with pitch-farthing and other arts; but it was three
miles off and there was a lion in the way: they must pass in sight
of Squire Raby's house; and whenever they had tried it he and his
groom had followed them on swift horses that could jump as well as
gallop had caught them in the churchyard and lashed them heartily;
and the same night notice to quit had been given to their parents
who were all Mr. Raby's weekly tenants: and this had led to a
compromise and flagellation.
Once or twice every summer a more insidious foe approached. Some
little party of tourists including a lady who sketched in water
and never finished anything would hear of the old church and
wander up to it. But Mr. Raby's trusty groom was sure to be after
them with orders to keep by them under guise of friendship and
tell them outrageous figments and see that they demolished not
stole not sculptured not.
All this was odd enough in itself but it astonished nobody who knew
Mr. Raby. His father and predecessor had guarded the old church
religiously in his day and was buried in it by his own orders;
and as for Guy Raby himself what wonder he respected it since his
own mind like that old church was out of date and a relic of the
An antique Tory squire nursed in expiring Jacobitism and cradled
in the pride of race; educated at Oxford well read in books versed
in county business and acquainted with trade and commerce; yet
puffed up with aristocratic notions and hugging the very prejudices
our nobility are getting rid of as fast as the vulgar will let them.
He had a sovereign contempt for tradespeople and especially for
manufacturers. Any one of those numerous disputes between masters
and mechanics which distinguish British industry might have been
safely referred to him for he abhorred and despised them both with
The lingering beams of a bright December day still gilded the moss-
clad roof of that deserted church and flamed on its broken panes
when a young man came galloping toward it from Hillsborough on one
of those powerful horses common in that district.
He came so swiftly and so direct that ere the sun had been down
twenty minutes he and his smoking horse had reached a winding gorge
about three furlongs from the church. Here however the bridle-
road which had hitherto served his turn across the moor turned off
sharply toward the village of Cairnhope and the horse had to pick
his way over heather and bog and great loose stones. He lowered
his nose and hesitated more than once. But the rein was loose upon
his neck and he was left to take his time. He had also his own
tracks to guide him in places for this was by no means his first
visit; and he managed so well that at last he got safe to a
mountain stream which gurgled past the north side of the churchyard:
he went cautiously through the water and then his rider gathered up
the reins stuck in the spurs and put him at a part of the wall
where the moonlight showed a considerable breach. The good horse
rose to it and cleared it with a foot to spare; and the invader
landed in the sacred precincts unobserved for the road he had come
by was not visible from Raby House nor indeed was the church itself.
He was of swarthy complexion dressed in a plain suit of tweed well
made and neither new nor old. His hat was of the newest fashion
and glossy. He had no gloves on.
He dismounted and led his horse to the porch. He took from his
pocket a large glittering key and unlocked the church-door; then
gave his horse a smack on the quarter. That sagacious animal walked
into the church directly and his iron hoofs rang strangely as he
paced over the brick floor of the aisle and made his way under the
echoing vault up to the very altar; for near it was the vestry-
chest and in that chest his corn.
The young man also entered the church; but soon came out again with
a leathern bucket in his hand. He then went round the church and
was busily employed for a considerable time.
He returned to the porch carried his bucket in and locked the
door leaving the key inside.
That night Abel Eaves a shepherd was led by his dog in search of
a strayed sheep to a place rarely trodden by the foot of man or
beast viz. the west side of Cairnhope Peak. He came home pale and
disturbed and sat by the fireside in dead silence. "What ails
thee my man?" said Janet his wife; "and there's the very dog keeps
"What ails us wife? Pincher and me? We have seen summat."
"What was it?" inquired the woman suddenly lowering her voice.
"Cairnhope old church all o' fire inside."
"Bless us and save us!" said Janet in a whisper.
"And the fire it did come and go as if hell was a blowing at it.
One while the windows was a dull red like and the next they did
flare so I thought it would all burst out in a blaze. And so
'twould but bless your heart their heads ha'n't ached this
hundred year and more as lighted that there devilish fire."
He paused a moment then said with sudden gravity and resignation
and even a sort of half business-like air "Wife ye may make my
shroud and sew it and all; but I wouldn't buy the stuff of Bess
Crummles; she is an ill-tongued woman and came near making mischief
between you and me last Lammermas as ever was."
"Shroud!" cried Mrs. Eaves getting seriously alarmed. "Why Abel
what is Cairnhope old church to you? You were born in an other
Abel slapped his thigh. "Ay lass and another county if ye go to
that." And his countenance brightened suddenly.
"And as for me" continued Janet "I'm Cairnhope; but my mother came
from Morpeth a widdy: and she lies within a hundred yards of where
I sit a talking to thee. There's none of my kin laid in old
Cairnhope churchyard. Warning's not for thee nor me nor yet for
our Jock. Eh lad it will be for Squire Raby. His father lies up
there and so do all his folk. Put on thy hat this minute and I'll
hood myself and we'll go up to Raby Hall and tell Squire."
Abel objected to that and intimated that his own fireside was
particularly inviting to a man who had seen diabolical fires that
came and went and shone through the very stones and mortar of a
"Nay but" said Janet "they sort o' warnings are not to be
slighted neither. We must put it off on to Squire or I shall sleep
none this night."
They went up hand in hand and often looked askant upon the road.
When they got to the Hall they asked to see Mr. Raby. After some
demur they were admitted to his presence and found him alone so
far as they could judge by the naked eye; but as they arrived there
charged to the muzzle with superstition the room presented to their
minds some appearances at variance with this seeming solitude.
Several plates were set as if for guests and the table groaned and
the huge sideboard blazed with old silver. The Squire himself was
in full costume and on his bosom gleamed two orders bestowed upon
his ancestors by James III. and Charles III. In other respects he
was rather innocuous being confined to his chair by an attack of
gout and in the act of sipping the superannuated compound that had
given it him--port. Nevertheless his light hair dark eyebrows
and black eyes awed them and co-operated with his brilliant
costume and the other signs of company to make them wish themselves
at the top of Cairnhope Peak. However they were in for it and
told their tale but in tremulous tones and a low deprecating voice
so that if the room SHOULD happen to be infested with invisible
grandees from the other world their attention might not be roused
Mr. Raby listened with admirable gravity; then fixed his eyes on the
pair in silence; and then said in a tone so solemn it was almost
sepulchral "This very day nearly a century and a half ago Sir
Richard Raby was beheaded for being true to his rightful king--"