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A HALF-TIMBERED HOSTEL.
back at us.
A true artist sees a picture almost everywhere; some people can never see one at all till a painter has revealed it to them.
Descending the hill and ascending another, we arrived at a straggling dimly lighted village, with a church prominently set on a height-a grey old fane with the usual round tower; then another steep and long descent brought us to the ancient and romantic little town of Thetford, once the capital of East Anglia and the seat of a bishopric. Here we patronised the Bell Inn, a very ancient and old-fashioned hostelry, with a half-timbered upper story projecting the whole of its length. We could discover no date on the building, but judged it to be of the sixteenth century. Doubtless it was formerly a coaching house of some importance, but when we were there the only conveyance we saw in the spacious yard was an antiquated omnibus. Our cosy little sitting-room here had a curious staircase all to it itself communicating directly with our bedroom just above. Such a peculiar arrangement we had never met with before ; we presumed that this was not originally thus, but was the outcome of alterations made from time to time in the rambling structure to suit varying needs.
As Thetford appeared to be an interesting place, we determined to make a later start next day than usual, so as to have time to inspect the town and surroundings. First we found our way to the ruins of the abbey, founded by Roger Bigod in 1104; these stand in a pleasant position by the riverside, but are too ruinous to be of much interest save to
the enthusiastic antiquary. Here in mid-stream we saw an angler sitting in a punt waiting for a nibble. We watched him for some time, but no nibble came; nevertheless there he sat smoking his pipe, the very picture of contentment—or laziness. When we drove out of the town some three hours later, there still sat our patient angler watching his idle float. Surely the gentle fisherman has learnt the rare art of contentedly doing nothing.
Much for my sport I cannot say,
Though, mind, I like the fun :
Without extracting one. The gentle craft has a certain strange fascination for some men. I know of one (the most energetic and restless of mortals, over-active in mind and body, who never seems happy unless he is on the move), who became enamoured of the sport, and now he will take his rod to some quiet stream or hire a punt on the Thames, and there he will stay the whole long summer day, patience personified. For myself I must say, to enjoy fishing I like to catch fish, but all anglers are not similarly minded, fortunately for them. Upon one occasion I went out with a friend for a day's salmon fishing; we neither of us caught anything, though my companion was an old hand with the rod. In very truth we had only one rise between us. I got at last somewhat weary of sport without any sport,
friend vowed that we had had a very jolly' day, and what more, asked he, could I wish ?
From the abbey ruins we wandered to what is
ON THE WRONG ROAD.
locally called the Castle Hill, though there is no castle there, and probably never was—at least history gives no record of any. The hill consists of a singular and mighty rounded mound of earth, grass-grown now, with very steep sides, and over a hundred feet in height; manifestly the remains of an ancient British stronghold of much importance in its day. These prehistoric remains interested us much; the construction of them must have been a vast undertaking in those far-off times. The mound is now crowned by trees; the climb to the top of it over the short grass we found, even with the help of a stick, to be a task. Properly defended, in an age before gunpowder, this mighty earthwork must have been almost impregnable.
We had a delightful day on which to continue our journey. The thunder had cleared the air, and the weather, though cool and cloudy, gave every promise of being fine; the rain moreover had laid whatever dust there might have been. As we found by glancing at our maps that we were only an easy stage from the ancient and historic town of Bury St. Edmunds, we determined to make our way thither in order to see the notable ruins of its once magnificent abbey.
Leaving Thetford we managed to get on the wrong road at starting. Not a difficult matter in the absence of sign-posts, and owing to the fact that few people one meets nowadays are able to direct the stranger as to his way out of towns. Natural enough this in an age when everybody travels by train. It was provoking getting wrong thus, as we much wished to see the famous ruins at Bury. Had it not