I thought he would be a good person to learn interesting things from, so I asked him if he would mind telling me something about the whale fishing in the old days. He was just settling himself to begin when the clock struck six, whereupon he laboured to get up, and said,
“I must gang ageeanwards home now, miss. My grand-daughter doesn’t like to be kept waitin’ when the tea is ready, for it takes me time to crammle aboon the grees, for there be a many of ’em, and miss, I lack belly-timber sairly by the clock.”
He hobbled away, and I could see him hurrying, as well as he could, down the steps. The steps are a great feature on the place. They lead from the town to the church, there are hundreds of them, I do not know how many, and they wind up in a delicate curve. The slope is so gentle that a horse could easily walk up and down them.
I think they must originally have had something to do with the abbey. I shall go home too. Lucy went out, visiting with her mother, and as they were only duty calls, I did not go.
1 August.—I came up here an hour ago with Lucy, and we had a most interesting talk with my old friend and the two others who always come and join him. He is evidently the Sir Oracle of them, and I should think must have been in his time a most dictatorial person.
He will not admit anything, and down faces everybody. If he can’t out-argue them he bullies them, and then takes their silence for agreement with his views.
Lucy was looking sweetly pretty in her white lawn frock. She has got a beautiful colour since she has been here.
I noticed that the old men did not lose any time in coming and sitting near her when we sat down. She is so sweet with old people, I think they all fell in love with her on the spot. Even my old man succumbed and did not contradict her, but gave me double share instead. I got him on the subject of the legends, and he went off at once into a sort of sermon. I must try to remember it and put it down.
“It be all fool-talk, lock, stock, and barrel, that’s what it be and nowt else. These bans an’ wafts an’ boh-ghosts an’ bar-guests an’ bogles an’ all anent them is only fit to set bairns an’ dizzy women a’belderin’. They be nowt but air-blebs. They, an’ all grims an’ signs an’ warnin’s, be all invented by parsons an’ illsome berk-bodies an’ railway touters to skeer an’ scunner hafflin’s, an’ to get folks to do somethin’ that they don’t other incline to. It makes me ireful to think o’ them. Why, it’s them that, not content with printin’ lies on paper an’ preachin’ them out of pulpits, does want to be cuttin’ them on the tombstones. Look here all around you in what airt ye will. All them steans, holdin’ up their heads as well as they can out of their pride, is acant, simply tumblin’ down with the weight o’ the lies wrote on them, ‘Here lies the body’ or ‘Sacred to the memory’ wrote on all of