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My Note-Book in the Weald

THE title of these sketches has reference to many wanderings,
afoot, driving, but mainly on horseback, which I have enjoyed
from time to time in the wealds of Surrey and Sussex. If you
stand on Blackdown or on Witley Hill and look out over the folds
and oak-forests spread below you to the very verge of the downs,
you see the country where Stephen Yesser still carves the haunch
of mutton—as I believe, inimitably : and the country where the
landlord’s wedding, at which I assisted, is still remembered as one
of the merriest days in Puddingfold.

            I—Stephen Yesser

To see him standing by the sideboard in his loose-fitting dress-
suit, his eye upon the table in the window no less than on
the table by the fire and the table in the centre, his ear hanging
upon the tinkle of the bell from the commercial room and the
private sitting-room upstairs, where a party was dining, his mind
upon the joint delicately furrowed by his unerring carver—to see
him so, you might have mistaken him for an ordinary waiter.
But even to call him a waiter of unusual ability would have been


                        40 My Note-Book in the Weald

to show yourself obtuse. This large, fair fat man with the shaven
face, double chin, even brick colour and eye of oyster blue, had a
character, and it came out when I happened to be the only person
in the coffee-room that evening.

“Nice little dog, Miss ?” he began, insinuatively stroking my
self-centred, unresponsive terrier—”I’m very fond of dogs myself;
bulls, I mostly fancy, tho’ I’ave kep’ all sorts one way an’ another.”
His voice had the low, furtive quality that distinguishes the sport-
ing class in the South country, the class, in fact, that “‘as kep’ all
sorts.” If his clothes had fitted more tightly upon his big
frame, you would have suspected him of having been a prize

I made an encouraging reply.

“If you was once to ‘ave one you’d never take to no other sort.”
There was a gentle defiance in his round, even voice, a voice that
had the training of an ostler with a dash of a gentleman’s servant in
it. Sometimes his lips moved as though turning a straw about in
his mouth ; his face in repose had the eyebrows raised, the lines
from nostril to lip-corner deeply marked, the mouth pulled down
but with no effect of sneering in its sneer ; rather the acrid cheer-
fulness of a man not too successful, but still nowise to be accounted
a failure, a man acquainted with the compensations of life. “I
shouldn’t recommend the brindle myself ; now a nice pure w’ite
with a butterfly nose would be as neat a pet as any lady could wish
to have. I’ve not long parted with my Snowdrop ; won a rare
lot o’ prizes with ‘er, till a gentleman—well, you might know him
Miss, Captain Soames of the Cawbineers ? ‘E awffered me
twenty-two pound for ‘er an’ I let ‘er go.” Melancholy triumphed
in the waiter’s broad face for a moment ; his sad eye roved mechani-
cally to my plate. “Cut you a little bit more off the ‘aunch,
Miss ? One of ‘er puppies took second at the Palace and would


                        By Ménie Muriel Dowie 41

‘ave ‘ad first, only the judge ‘e ‘ad a fancy for another pound or
so of weight.”

I threw in the appropriate remark.

“There’s Mrs. Dempsey of Colmanhatch—you might ‘ave
noticed the ‘ouse as you come along, Miss, stands back a bit from
the road in a s’rubbery—she wanted one of Snowdrop’s puppies,
an’ wouldn’t have stopped at money neither, but I promised the
last to Mr. Hutton of the ‘George.'”

I foresaw tears on the part of the waiter if we didn’t speedily
abandon the records of the Snowdrop family. I interposed with
a red herring.

“Yes, Miss, I daresay they are, but for my part I’d sooner ‘ave
a nice sharp fox-terrier after game than any of them wiry-‘aired
ones. Now, one Sunday morning I was up early walkin’ round
by Burley Rough—in the summer I often takes a early turn that
way just to see the rabbits. Well, this little fox-terrier I ‘ad
with me” (the waiter has an elusive narrative habit, and though
with intelligence he can be followed, use is really of most assist-
ance in gleaning his facts), “she started a rabbit in a bit of
furze an’ off after it before I could holler.” I am not sure if
Stephen really wished me to believe that he was at all likely to have
hollered. “She run it well out of sight, I never see a dog more
nimbler on her legs than what she was, an’ me after her. All at
wunst, I ‘eard ‘er sing out ; that fetched me on the track, and if
you’ll believe, she was in the mouth of a burrer with her forefoot
in a steel trap an’ ‘ad the rabbit in ‘er mouth, ‘an never left ‘old of
it. The rabbit bein’ lighter like ‘ad run clean over the trap an’
she’d just come up in time to snap it from be’ine.”

I had two more courses to eat through and I perceived that the
waiter was likely to draw heavily upon my appreciation. I econo-
mised with the caution and the dexterity that come only of long


                        42 My Note-Book in the Weald

practice, at the same time I offered a perfectly adequate com-

“They pay men eighteen shillings a week to keep the rabbits
down and yet if you was to ketch one in a snare an’ be found out
you’d ‘ave six weeks.”

I tried to see myself, on the waiter’s suggestion, in this predica-
ment, and admitted in the full glow of sympathy that it did seem

“An’ it is ‘ard,” said the waiter with conviction. “You can’t
get a full-grown rabbit not under eighteenpence in the town, an’
I’d sooner ketch one myself”—he dropped his voice to a note of
rapture—”I think they eat sweeter.”

It was impossible not to respond to the unquenchable human
nature in the waiter’s eye. After all, they weren’t my rabbits.
A venal warmth chequered the restraint of my smile. As the
irrigator directs the waterflow by a slight turn of his foot, I
directed, just so quietly, the conversation.

“Oh there is, Miss, a deal of poaching, to be sure. You see,
in the winter-time, a man may be out of work and he knows
where ‘is two-and-nine is waitin’ for him when ‘e’s wearin’ ‘is
fur-lined overcoat, as the sayin’ goes. Yes, Miss ; two-an’-nine’s
what they give for a hare—so I’ve been told.” Some day we may
have an actor capable of this delicate manipulation of the pause—
I know of none just now. “An’ then there’s them that does it
for the love of sport.”

I wanted some cheese, but I caught sight of the glow in the
oyster-eyes and I prayed that nothing might divert the waiter to
a sense of his duties at that moment. There is poetry in every
soul, we know ; by long study I have learned to detect sometimes
the moment of the lighting of its fires. There was that in the
waiter s kiln-brick face which a keen eye could recognise. So


                        By Ménie Muriel Dowie 43

looks the man who tells you of the one “woman in the world,”
so looks the poet who describes his last sonnet, so look the faces
of them that dream of heart’s desire.

“You see there’s a deal of preservin’ done round here, and
when a labourin’ man has say six or seven of a family and takes
‘is nine shillin’ a week, as some of em do in winter, an’ ‘as coal to
find and boots to keep on the children, well, ‘e ‘as to git it some-
where, asn’t he, Miss ? You can’t wonder that some of ’em steps
out of a night an’ nooses a brace of pheasants.” I maintained a
steady but an unexaggerated air of sympathy ; there was no use
in the waiter putting it off, we had heard the utilitarian side,
what about “them as does it for the love o’ sport ?” But I was
much too wary to ask ! “An’ you see, Miss, since this frozen
meat come in, why eighteenpence ’11 buy a man ‘is leg of lamb
at the stall. As for the poorer parts, they pretty near give it
away of a Saturday night, an’ for two shillin he’ll get what’ll
keep ‘is family in meat for a week.”

Very well, if I had to wait, I could wait.

“Every bit as good, Miss,” in answer to my query. “Of
course, it wants a knack in cookin’, it don’t want to be put in no
fierce oven ; you want to ‘ang it in the kitchen and thor it out
gradual, an’ it’ll make twice its size; then, if it’s nicely basted, you
won’t want to eat no sweeter bit of meat.”

“Then they never eat the pheasants themselves ?” I remarked,
with the air of one whose mind is on the central problem. “I
don’t wonder, for I think a pheasant is nothing to rave about. I’d
as soon have a chicken.”

“If you’d ever tried one stuffed with chopped celery, then
closed up so the water don’t get to it in a bit of nice paste, and
boiled for about two hours, Miss,” said the waiter, in tender
remonstrance, “you’d never say that again.” I was on the point


                        44 My Note-book in the Weald

of offering never to say it again, when the waiter’s eyes again
sought the furthest gas-burner at the end of the room, and an air
of reverie and fervour again gleamed in his oyster-eye. “Wonderful
silly birds pheasants are, Miss. You can go out with a line in
your pocket, an’ a fish ‘ook on the end of it, an’ bait it with a
raisin, and ‘ang it over the fence—”

“Do pheasants like raisins ?” I was idiot enough to interject ;
but fortunately poetry and prudence may not burn in the same
brain at the same time, and the waiter had abandoned himself to

“Oh, marvellous fond of raisins, pheasants are. Of course, it
wants artful doin’ ; the line wants to be ‘ung just so, and a raisin
or two dropped where he’s likely to run, an’ ten to one ‘e’ll make a
peck at it—an’ the best of it is w’en ‘e’s got it the bird can’t ‘oller.”

I suppressed a weak desire to say it was shockingly cruel.
Mentally, I surveyed myself with cold dislike as I heard myself
remark that it must be very exciting work.

“I should say it was, Miss. These old poachers ‘as some fine
stories to tell of it. Some likes a pea at the end of a few strands
of horse-hair. ‘Ow is it done ? Oh, you want to dror it long
from the horse’s tail, an’ then you twist it fine together an’ runs
it through the pea and makes a knot. Some prefers a ‘ook in the
pea. Then, you see, the bird just swallows it, and there he is.
With either the raisin hor the pea it wants to be ‘ung so’s the
bird, when he pecks an’ takes it, ‘as ‘is feet just awf the ground.
It’s wonderful how quick they are to see it, too. Of course, it
has to be a fine night, but I don’t care for too much moon my-
self.” The waiter was unaware of this change of pronoun. “But
it’s wonderfully taking sport. Well,” with a deprecatory smile,
which displayed an irreproachable set of false teeth, ” I’ve ‘ad as
many as three in one evening.”


                        By Ménie Muriel Dowie 45

My morality being once in abeyance I did not stick at a hearty

“Seen a bit of all sorts of life, I ‘ave. Well, I was in Tom
Hotchkiss’s racing stables till I got too heavy, but I’ve always
been a great one for sports or anything of that. Fine sideboardful
o’ cups I’ve got wot I’ve won running ; I ‘ad a butter cooler,
silver-plated, only last year for the Married Men’s ‘Undred Yard
Race.” Melancholy again descended like a mist upon the waiter’s
cheerful countenance.

I feared he might have been reflecting on his growing handicap,
technical or physical, and I deployed a reflection upon the variety
of his experiences. He smiled again, and spoke softly of his lost

“Well, I began by bein’ apprentice’ to a butcher, an’ I stay’ at
that eighteen months. Then one morning where I took the
meat down, the gardener stop’ and ask me if I d care to come
hindoors”—some inner light illuminated this phrase for me. It
did not mean would he step into the kitchen ; it meant would he
take indoor service—” because ‘is master wanted a page-boy, an’ I
jumped at this. Oh, I thought it grand—that was with Mr.
Beatup at the ‘Bull,’ and I’ve been mostly in hotel service ever
since.” He paused ; he smiled thoughtfully, evidently a new idea
had struck him. “It seems funny to say it,” he began almost
shamefacedly, “but there’s one thing I ‘aven’t done, and that’s
drove a fly !” His air of triumph was so na if and so marked
that I felt it to be a point worth elucidating. I hunted for the
proper setting of the question ; I was anxious not to make a

“What, have you ever had a chance to ?” I said at last, and I
thought—indeed, still think—this very neat.

“Should ‘ave ‘ad,” said the waiter, quite respectfully but enjoy-


                        46 My Note-Book in the Weald

ing the joke none the less, “for my father was a cab-proprietor
down in Weymouth, since ever I remember. ‘Ad twenty-three
or twenty-four lots going time he died, landaws and privek
brooms and closed-and-opens. ‘E was a very curious man my
father, ‘e ‘ad a great belief in luck. Sometimes ‘e would buy a
horse for luck, other times ‘e’d think one of ‘is carriages brought
him bad luck. He always used to go about with a carriage dog,
one o’ them spotted—well, Darmations some calls ’em ; oh, she
was a beautiful creature—an’ knowin’! Well, there wasn’t any-
thing she wouldn’t do. Why, she’d go up to one of the other
horses on the rank, as it might be, what wasn’t my father’s, you
see, Miss, an’ she’d ackshly pull the clover out of ‘is nose-bag and
kerry it to one of my father’s own ‘orses.” I blinked, but
got it down. “Ho, wonderful knowin’ she was ! There was
a lady there awffered my father eighteen sov’rins for her, but
‘e wouldn’t sell. ‘No,’ ‘e said, ‘if I sell my dog, I sell my
luck,’ ‘e said, ‘besides, she wouldn’t stay with you, she’d always
be back in the yard,’ ‘e said. Often enough she ask’ ‘im,
but ‘e always said the same about ‘is luck. At last she came
and said she was goin’ away to live in Brighton, and she
awffer’ him £20,” the waiter’s figures always came out with a
suspicious glibness—”so father ‘e was beat, but ‘e says ‘so sure as
my name’s Stephen Yesser’—that was my father’s name an’ ‘e
give me the same—’my luck’s sold’, ‘e says ! An’ it wasn’t a
twelvemonth later that ‘e was drivin’ home one night with
a horse he’d bought in London some time before, an’ it bolted at
the scroop of a tramway, turn’ the corner short and come down
pitchin’ father out and his ‘ead was all cut to pieces—killed ‘im on
the spot. He was took up in a bag. Seems he might have fell
free if his coat hadn’t ‘ave caught in the lamp-iron.” My mind
had filled suddenly with a lurid picture of Mr. Yesser, senior,


                        By Ménie Muriel Dowie 47

being “took up in a bag,” but the waiter’s point was not lost upon
me for all that. “But it was a funny thing after what he’d said
when ‘e come to part with the Darmation, wasn’t it, Miss ?” he
said. “Yes, I know, I know,” this to a subordinate who appeared
at the door, “it’s the hupstairs parlour bell, so you’ll escuse me,
Miss ; I don’t mind to keep them waitin’ a minute, they ain’t
none of our lot—business gentlemen from London.”

            II—The Landlord’s Wedding

“CAN Mrs. Sollop have the landau this afternoon ? She
wishes to drive out to Cray’s Wood ; have you a horse
disengaged about three ?”

I recognised the old Rector’s voice at once ; he spoke his
inquiry like a piece of ritual—or is it rubric ?—in the tone
reserved for celebrations. The reply was inaudible, but I was
quite sure that Mrs. Sollop couldn’t have the landau : I had been
in the inn-yard that morning, and I knew that the landau had
other fish to fry, so to speak. Words would fail to depict the
ardour with which Tom and Frank, the two ostlers, had been
assailing the old landau, leathers in hand and scarlet braces flying,
from an early hour ; they had got my wheel jack in use, and pail
after pail of water went through the spokes. They did not
apologise for borrowing the wheel jack, and I recognised with
them that the occasion lifted us all above considerations of common
formulae. Within the stable could be seen the patient heads of
“the Teamster” and “Bay Bob” (provisionally referred to as
“the pair”) dipping reflectively between the pillar-chains. Poor
beasts, they knew something was going to happen, if it were only
from the reek of “compo” on the harness. No hope of Mrs.


                        48 My Note-Book in the Weald

Sollop getting up to Cray’s Wood—what a name, by the way,
for a rector’s wife ? And for a Rector ! The Rev. Richard
Grace Sollop ; and it is their name, too ; it’s certainly none of my

I had a sort of feeling that I would like to lend a carriage and
“a pair,” but at best I could only have proffered a scratch tandem,
Black Nannie in the shafts and Nutcracker in front, and this
would certainly have interrupted the ceremony.

There was an odd sense of stir about the Green. There was
not exactly a crowd, but two or three more men than usual were
listening to the blacksmith’s famous story of his six beagle
puppies ; beagle I say, but in the interests of truth and dog-
breeding I ought to call it “very-nearly beagle” puppies. The
old man who carries telegrams and wears a grey surtout with a
rakish air of Stock-Exchange failure about it, has picked up the
puppy that favours a fox-terrier, and Mr. Remmitt from the
grocer’s shop is explaining why he thinks the “spannel bitch” is
going to make the best beagle of the lot. Although the whole
six are similarly spotted in liver and black upon white, they are
all known by separate names—like the above, of a narrowly
descriptive nature. They were born and bred in the centre of
the Green, and every dog in the village has a sort of proprietary
interest in them.

At this moment Mr. Hampshire passed from the telegraph
office ; he has his bluish-pink trousers on and wears a black coat
and waistcoat, all new, a black tie, and a straw hat. He is a very
shy man, and he has calculated to a second when he will change
to a puce satin tie with white lozenges before he starts ; whereas
the topper that came by post is to be taken with him and assumed
en route ; I know this, for I saw Frank trying to get it incon-
spicuously stowed under the cloth flap of the box-seat. What will


                        By Ménie Muriel Dowie 49

they do with the pasteboard box, I wonder ? Throw it away in
Ambledon Wood, no doubt, to be picked up by some hawker and
used for a baby’s cradle or to put a sitting hen in.

Ten o’clock, and he doesn’t start till eleven, and yet the poor
man cannot be seen outside his own inn without some joke being
thrown at him, and a convulsive titter issuing from the knot of
boys gathered on the corpse-bench below the lych-gate.

Bang ! Now I know that that was a champagne cork ex-
ploding in the commercial room, and they don’t explode of them-
selves—in an Inn !

Annie runs in to whisper :

“He’s got the ring on his third finger, fear he’d forget.”

“Well ! She must have a large hand if his third finger and
hers are the same size,” I observe. “Oh, it can’t be the ring.”

Annie looks disheartened, but says she will ask Mrs. Groves.

“By the way, how is Mrs. Groves this morning ?” I had for-
gotten her till now : she is the housekeeper, only five years Mr.
Hampshire’s senior and a widow ; one or two people had said,
before the affair which finishes to-day was heard of . . . .

“Oh ! she’s wonderful down, and she gets a deal of chaff in
the bar.” In a whisper behind a corner of her apron, ” Oh, she
‘as been treated bad.”

“Ah, she’ll be glad when it s over. Is that the carriage ?
Good gracious, it’s not eleven ? How grand Tom looks on the
box ! and I would never have said Bob and Teamster stood so
much of a height.”

There is a wild flight of a figure across the sweep as with
scarlet wings to it, and Frank, pouring with perspiration, slogs at
the Teamster’s mane with a water-brush, in a last agony of

“Well, it really does look smart !” I exclaim at intervals to


                        50 My Note-Book in the Weald

Annie, behind the curtains of my parlour. ” That man’s hand
will be shaken off if the bricklayer gets hold of it.” There are at
least two dozen workmen and neighbours crowding in the bar-
passage, and all the pots in use are quarts.

“A quart bottle of champagne—between three of them,” gasps
Annie, who has been out for more gossip. “And it isn’t the
ring ; he has that in his waistcoat pocket !”

“They’re off !”

“What, has he got in ?” The poor nervous little man had
left the inn with the furtive scuttle of a rabbit breaking cover,
and just his head and shoulders appeared in the deep well of the
old landau. Mr. Brooker followed—he is to be best man—Frank
relinquished the Teamster, much flattened, and Tom whipped
the two to a heavy canter. A derisive cheer went up from the
little boys upon the corpse-bench and a hearty shout from the
work-people at the Inn door. Mr. Hampshire neither lifted his
hat nor looked round, but the purple mounted slowly and surely
to the back of his ears. It is a trying thing to be married from
your own Inn.

            III—Cakes and Ale

THE Brewer seemed to be stopping all day ; the whole morning
he had been rumbling barrels down the cellar-way below my
parlour, and in the afternoon when I went out with a wooden
trencher full of cut apples for our own beasts, I saw that his
large, pale, café-au-lait coloured mare and the great white horse
that goes beside her were still there. They sniffed at apples, and
Black Nannie shot reproachful glances at me over her stall as
much as to say :

“Why offer apples to them ? Their palates are destroyed by


                        By Ménie Muriel Dowie 51

the fermented liquors they are given ; they are fat and stupid with
beer. They must be, or they wouldn’t pull the loads they do !”

Like most brewers, Quarpitt is rather a fine-looking person,
and I fell into conversation with him with some pleasure ; his great
bass rolled and rumbled like his own waggon, and as he stood, he
seemed to be trying to look as much like a vat as possible.

“Oh, yes,” he said, ” don’t come every day, b’long way ; an’
there’s fine doin’s forward to-night. I’m ‘ere to take four eigh-
teens” (he pronounced it four-ray-teens), “down to the cricket
field to-night, to be give away by”—he waved a large freckled
arm and hand towards the Inn door—”the good gentleman as has
now left us.”

“Four eighteens !” I repeated with an air of amazement, not
knowing in the least what that was, but judging that when the
Brewer assumed the manner popular at his Harmony Club and
fell unwittingly into the phrase of a funeral oration, something
important must be toward.

I knew more later.

No sooner was my simple tea begun than the boys, who earlier
on had adorned the lych-gate, came to lean upon the wood rail
that surrounds the cellar opening before my window, to crack
nuts thoughtfully upon the flags, and to keep up a tapping of a
maddening intermittence upon the wooden cellar-flap. I gathered
from their conversation that the band was expected.

Very soon a gentleman strolled up, the pocket of whose black coat
bulged suggestive of a cornet and, indeed, when he turned, the
nozzle of the instrument disclosed itself, nestling in the groove
worn by a week-day foot-rule, which had disappeared with the
rest of a joiner’s trappings for the nonce.

I was buried in the unsatisfactory tannin of a second cup,
when a sound so horrid and inexplicable that fear alone prevented

The Yellow Book—Vol. XII. D


                        52 My Note-Book in the Weald

my choking to death, announced the heretofore unsuspected
arrival of the big drum. The rest of the brass was not slow to
follow, and about half-an-hour of preliminary pints intervened
before the performers took up their position upon the triangle of
grass below the sign of “The Merry Hedgehog.” To their
credit, be it said, they were not yet complete, the oboe lingered.
(I gleamed this intelligence from the boy’s continual references to
“George ;” there seemed even to be a question as to whether
“George” would come.) At length there appeared a saturnine
person who bore an oboe in a bag. He took no beer, he nodded
sullenly to the circle, or rather, he threw a nod in front of him,
and such of the circle as cared to, caught it. He was drawing
out a small thumb-browned piece of written music when the
drum, who had command of the performers, no doubt because he
made most noise, looked inquiringly round and thundered out a
preludial boom-boom-boom-boom, which had the effect of drawing
certain hesitating cat-calls from the brass. I had heard the drum
whisper “the new march,” in a tone which was meant to reach
his co-musicians, and not the crowd ; the crowd was not intended
to know that a new march had been sedulously studied in view of
the present occasion. George had his eye upon his oboe, and
after the boom he spat meditatively beside his shoulder and
chirped to his instrument, which responded instantly with a florid
growl, lasting about half a minute. The others were too interested
in “getting away ” and “getting a good place,” to notice this
observation on the part of George’s oboe, but I noticed it, and a
dreadful suspicion fell upon me.

Still, the hilarity of the occasion augmented from moment to
moment. The church bells had rung out a complimentary peal
or two, and only desisted because a woman was to be buried at
five o’clock ; the bellringers, all save the. man, who attended to


                        By Ménie Muriel Dowie 53

the toll had come into the bar, had their beer (carefully paying
for it), and formed up among the crowd near the blacksmith’s to
listen to the band. Outlying labourers who had left their work
began to slouch up with that peculiar report which corduroys
will make when the spare material flaps together in walking, the
grocer’s and baker’s carts began to come in from their rounds, and
the men hurried their tired horses into the stables, with a shake
of hay and no wisp down, the sooner to join the crowd.

All this while “the new march,” with an afflicting element of
discord from the oboe, blared tunelessly below the sign. A cart
had appeared mysteriously, the brewer, passing his mottled hand
through his shock of beard and hair (all the colour of “four-ale”),
was loading up certain barrels, with the assistance of Frank ;
then it dawned upon me what “four eighteens” might mean ;
four times eighteen gallons ! . . . The third of my abstruse
calculations brought this out at seventy-two gallons ; seventy-two
gallons of free beer up on the cricket-ground !

While the band sought among its leaflets for a light waltz,
which all the village whistled carelessly in advance, and a boy
tucked two black bottles labelled “Scottish Nectar” securely into
his armpits, I observed a short colloquy to take place between
George and the flute, who was old and bearded and of a neutral
temper ; it resulted in blacker scowls than ever from the oboe,
and the bitter tapping of his finger upon a band-part. When,
finally, they all formed into line in front of Mr. Brewer Quarpitt,
the cart, and the four eighteens, for an adjournment to the cricket-
ground, I saw the oboe step moodily into the bar. He had
refused to play any more—musical people are notably touchy—
owing to some quarrel between him and the drum : he had blown
steadily through the Wedding March first of all—which the drum
had reserved to take them up the village to the cricket-field.


                        54 My Note-Book in the Weald

Nobody told me this, but when the Wedding March ultimately
started, and the party and the four eighteens, and the crowd and
a number of the beagle puppies got under weigh for the cricket-
ground, George could be seen striding glumly homeward with the
disconsolate and silent oboe in a bag.

At first an air of delicate reserve hung over the populace, and
the large white jugs moved slowly above the glasses ; there was a
tendency to dawdle in the neighbourhood of the “whelk and
winkle barrow,” which had taken up a promising corner, but
kindly dusk hid many blushes, and with nightfall all tremors were
dispersed, and, since it was there . . . they might as well . . .
and so they did.

It was, I say it with pain, a very drunk village, and a very gay
inn by eleven o’clock that night. But then a landlord is not
married every day, and who knows how dull things may be when
“The Merry Hedgehog” has a missis ?

There was but one clear head (I am excepting the Rev. and
Mrs. Sollop, of course) and two sore hearts upon the green that
night. Mine was the clear head. George’s was one of the sore
hearts (unless the oboe had one, and that would make a third) and
Mrs. Groves, the housekeeper, who had to have a good deal of
whisky and very little else, in a claret glass, at intervals during
the evening—hers was the other.

“A twelvemonth ago there wasn’t one but would have said it
would be ‘er,” Mr. Brewer Quarpitt kept repeating a suspicious
number of times as he slapped the big white horse confidingly,
till every link upon the waggon gave out a note of music. And
then, “Never see such a mort o’ beer put down so quick in my
life,” and he gathered up his reins and jangled gaily off upon his
homeward way. And I shut down my window to avoid the
hymeneal comments of the rustics below.

MLA citation:

Dowie, Ménie Muriel. “My Note-Book in the Weald.” The Yellow Book, vol. 12, January 1897, pp. 39-54. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2020.