The Broad Highway eBook

Jeffery Farnol
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 604 pages of information about The Broad Highway.

“Ay, that she be, that she be.”

“Why, then, Simon must be your son.”

“Son as ever was!” nodded the old man, “and a goodish son ’e be to—­oh, I’ve seen worse.”

“And now,” added Simon, “come in, and you shall taste as fine a jug of ale as there be in all Kent.”

“Wait,” said the old man, laying his hand upon my arm, “I’ve took to you, young chap, took to you amazin’; what might your name be?”

“Peter,” I answered.

“A good name, a fine name,” nodded the old man.

“Peter—­Simon,” said he, glancing from one to the other of us.  “Simon—­Peter; minds me o’ the disciple of our blessed Lord, it du; a fine name be Peter.”

So Peter I became to him thenceforth, and to the whole village.



And after the Ancient and Simon and I had, very creditably, emptied the jug between us, I rose to depart.

“Peter,” said the Ancient, “wheer be goin’?”

“Home!” said I.

“And wheer be that?”

“The cottage in the Hollow,” said I.

“What—­th’ ’aunted cottage?” he cried, staring.

“Yes,” I nodded; “from what I saw of it, I think, with a little repairing, it might suit me very well.”

“But the ghost?” cried the old man; “have ye forgot the ghost?”

“Why, I never heard of a ghost really harming any one yet,” I answered.

“Peter,” said Simon, quietly, “I wouldn’t be too sure o’ that.  I wouldn’t go a-nigh the place, myself; once is enough for me.”

“Simon,” said I, “what do you mean by ’once’?”

Now when I asked him this, Simon breathed hard, and shuffled uneasily in his chair.

“I mean, Peter, as I’ve heerd un,” he replied slowly.

“Heard him!” I repeated incredulously; “you?  Are you sure?”

“Sure as death, Peter.  I’ve heerd un a-shriekin’ and a-groanin’ to ’isself, same as Gaffer ’as, and lots of others.  Why, Lord bless ’ee! theer be scarce a man in these parts but ’as ’eerd um one time or another.”

“Ay—­I’ve ’eerd un, and seen un tu!” croaked the Ancient excitedly.  “A gert, tall think ‘e be, wi’ a ’orn on ’is ’ead, and likewise a tail; some might ha’ thought ‘t was the Wanderin’ Man o’ the Roads as I found ‘angin’ on t’ stapil—­some on ’em du, but I knowed better—­I knowed ’t were Old Nick ’isself, all flame, and brimstone, an’ wi’ a babby under ’is arm!”

“A baby?” I repeated.

“A babby as ever was,” nodded the Ancient.

“And you say you have heard it too, Simon?” said I.

“Ay,” nodded the Innkeeper; “I went down into th’ ’Oller one evenin’—­’bout six months ago, wi’ Black Jarge, for we ’ad a mind to knock th’ owd place to pieces, and get rid o’ the ghost that way.  Well, Jarge ups wi’ ’is ’ammer, and down comes the rotten old door wi’ a crash.  Jarge ’ad strung up ’is ’ammer for another blow when, all at once, theer comes a scream.”  Here Simon shivered involuntarily, and glanced uneasily over his shoulder, and round the room.

Project Gutenberg
The Broad Highway from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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