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Yorkshire. The beautiful scenery of this portion of Norfolk is not so well known as it deserves. Not only is the scenery lovely, but it abounds as well in ancient buildings, grand old churches, moated manor houses, Elizabethan homes, mostly interesting these and always picturesque. Not unfrequently these pasttime mansions have some quaint legend attached to them, and not a few have the reputation of possessing ghosts of the good old-fashioned sort! None of your modern paltry invisible spectres that rap upon and turn tables for money.
Our journey that day was in truth a very pleasant The weather still smiled upon us, the morning was bright, breezy, and invigorating, and as we drove along we felt as light-hearted and 'jolly' as a boy just home from school for his holidays. How inspiriting it is, this driving across country, how health-giving this being out in the open air the whole day long, without fatigue, the mind agreeably occupied with the ever changing scenes, and anticipating all sorts of pleasant possibilities! We had a kind of vague feeling as though we were exploring an unknown land; at any rate it was a fresh one to us, possessing all the charm of novelty, the glamour of mystery that lies upon an undiscovered country. Now that 'globe-trotting' is in fashion, and travellers rush all over the earth as fast as steam can take them, it is a wholesome change to remain at home and explore some portion of neglected England.
A wild west wind met us as we drove along, wild but warm. It rustled the leaves of the trees and bent the green corn before it, making great green
SUNSHINE AND SHADE.
waves as it passed over the long fields, waves on land as well as on the ocean, and the continuous 'sur, sur, sur' of the wind-blown foliage gave forth a soothing murmurous sound like that of the distant. Great white clouds were drifting past us overhead, causing mighty patches of shadow to sweep over the far-reaching landscape, and now and then a summer shower blotted out a portion of the view. The atmosphere was clear, the distance near and well defined, as it is in such weather; the transient effects of the ever changing light and shade were most beautiful. Now an isolated gleam would reveal an old church tower half hidden before, then it would rest upon a red-roofed farmstead, and travelling on would, as if by magic, change the leaden hue of a stream to a shining silvery streak. It is wonderfully beautiful and interesting to watch upon a cloudy day a ray of sunlight wandering thus capriciously over a far-spreading landscape.
Though our drive was most enjoyable, there was nothing special to note on the way till we reached Ingworth, a pretty little village by the side of the fishful-looking river Bure. Here on a rising knoll by the side of the road we observed a forsakenlooking church, its round tower in ruins, its graveyard grass-grown and neglected, the inscriptions on some of its tombstones weathered away, others chipped and uncared for, its thatched roof patched here and there to keep the rain out. Somehow this neglected-looking church appealed to us; such a humble, primitive place of worship, yet, as we found, interesting withal. Finding the door of the
structure locked, we glanced inside through one of the windows. Internally the church looked as neglected as it did externally, but our eyes alighted upon an interesting relic of the past, an hour-glass stand. We had never seen one in situ before, so we determined to go in search of the clerk and get the keys in order that we might sketch this quaint relic of ancient times. Our proceedings had aroused the curiosity of a village lad who was lazily looking at us from over the churchyard wall. We inquired of him where the clerk was to be found. 'At whoam,'
he replied. 'Whereabouts is his home?' we next asked. 'Over yonder,' the youth answered, pointing vaguely round the horizon. This was somewhat indefinite. Do you think, if we gave you threepence, you could fetch him for us?' was our next query. Without waiting to respond, the lad ran away in the direction of some houses, and presently returned accompanied by the clerk. Upon receipt of the promised reward, the lad, evidently with an eye to business, asked if he could fetch anyone else for us; he knew everybody in the place, he said. This was rather embarrassing. The clerk proved to be a very old man, with a grey beard and a moist nose; he was bent almost double with rheumatics,' and was, as he informed us, 'hard o' hearing.' Not an ideal clerk by any means. Poor old man, he fumbled a great while with the big key before he could get it into the keyhole, but he would not trust it to us.
Entering the church, we found the walls to be whitewashed, though not very white; the floor was of brick, uneven and damp; the communion table
A RHEUMATIC CLERK.
was of bare oak; the thatch showed through above. The sight was a depressing one, And this was the house of God! Whilst making our sketch, the clerk informed us that he had been a carpenter, but he had to live in a damp cottage and so caught the ' rheumatics bad and wern't able to work, which is hard upon a poor man, as it's main hard to live now.' Poor fellow, we heartily pitied him; he did not seem to think it 'hard' that he had been obliged to live in a damp cottage, he grumbled only that he could work no longer. 'It's a poor sort of a place, the church,' he remarked. 'I tries to keep it tidy a bit, but the birds do come in and mess it so.' Then he said to us, 'I can show you something worth seeing, though it be such a poor place. Look'ee there, sir,' and he pointed beneath a worm-eaten seat, there's a bit of real Norman woodwork; see how deeply and sharply it's cut. I know what such work is, being a joiner. Now pardon me, sir, but I doubts very much as ever you saw a bit of Norman woodwork afore.' Then he became quite enthusiastic. Come outside with me, and I will show you something else; ' and hobbling away as fast as his infirmities would permit, at the bottom of a buttress he pointed out to us a shield with a cross, a crown, and a scourge engraved upon it. Lichen-stained this, but the carvings are as sharp as the day they left the ancient workman's chisel-how many long years ago? A little gem that shield, in a rude rough setting of flint and weathered stones. Then he took us to an old tombstone, on which he said was a very curious inscription, but unfortunately the lettering was so weathered
away that we could not make it out; possibly we might have done had we devoted a whole day to the task. The clerk tried to remember the wording for us, but his account was so confusing that we could not make much of it. I do knows one thing,' he added, it were written long afore railways;' and we quite believed him. Poor old man! how his watery eyes glistened as we gave him a piece of silver! I wish now it had been more. He took our little gift in his trembling hands. 'Aye, sir,' he said, 'this will be a help to I; it's a happy day for me, this.' How little do the deserving poor complain of their hard lot, how grateful they are for small mercies!
Wishing good day to the rheumatic clerk, we once more proceeded on our way, almost immediately passing over Ingworth bridge, which crosses the river here at rather a sharp angle to the road. It certainly is an awkward corner for a stranger to take on a dark night, as the turn is so sudden and comes unexpectedly, but in the daylight it is right enough unless one drives recklessly; yet in the old coaching days several accidents occurred at this spot.
Without further incident we came to Aylsham, a pleasant and picturesque little town. Here we patronised the ancient coaching and posting hostelry of the Black Boys, wherein we were made exceedingly comfortable. During all our wanderings through rural England we had never stayed before beneath the sign of the Black Boys. As we drove up to our inn, we observed painted upon it the oldtime legend, Posting House. Posting in all its