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My Lady’s Coach
by [?]

The Reverend Timothy stowed away his snuff-box and gave me his arm again.

“The Duke,” he continued, “took my point. He is, by the way, not half such a fool as he looks and is vulgarly supposed to be. He wrote that same day to his brother-in-law (whom I will take leave to call the Bishop of Wexcester), and made me its bearer. It is worth quotation. It ran: ‘Dear Ted,–Ordain Noy, and oblige yours, Fred.’ The answer which I carried back two days later was equally laconic. ‘Dear Fred,–Noy ordained. Yours, Ted.’ Consequently,” wound up Mr. Noy, “I am down here to take over my cure of souls, and had in one of my pockets a sermon composed for my induction by a gifted young scholar of the University of Oxford. I paid him fifteen shillings and the best part of a bottle of brandy for it. The rascals have taken it, and I think they will find some difficulty in converting it into cash. Hullo! is that a cottage yonder?”

It was a small cottage, thatched and whitewashed, and glimmering in the moonlight beside the road on which its whitewashed garden-wall abutted. The moonlight, too, showed that its upper windows were closed with wooden shutters. Mr. Noy halted before the garden-gate.

“H’m, we shall have trouble here belike. Poor cottagers living beside a highroad don’t open too easily at this hour to a couple of come-by-chance wayfarers. To be sure, you wear the King’s uniform, and that may be a recommendation. What’s that track yonder, and where does it lead, think you?”

The track to which he pointed led off the road at right angles, past the gable-end of the cottage, and thence (as it seemed to me) up into the moorland, where it was quickly lost in darkness, being but a rutted cartway overgrown with grass. But as I stepped close to examine it my eye caught the moon’s ray softly reflected by a pile of masonry against the uncertain sky-line, and by-and-by discerned the roof and chimney-stacks of a farmhouse, with a grey cluster of outbuildings and the quadrilateral of a high-walled garden.

“A farmhouse?” cried his reverence, when I reported my discovery. “That’s more in our line by a long way. Only beware of dogs.”

Sure enough, when we reached the courtlage gate in front of the main building his lifting of the latch was the signal for half a dozen dogs to give tongue. By the mercy of heaven, however, they were all within doors or chained, and after an anxious and unpleasant half-minute we made bold to defy their clamour and step within the gate. Almost as we entered a window was opened overhead, and a man’s voice challenged us.

“Whoever you be, I’ve a gun in my hand here!” he announced.

“We are two travellers by the mail coach,” Mr. Noy announced; “one a clergyman and the other an officer in the King’s service.”

“You don’t tell me the coach is upset?”

“And one of us has a broken collar-bone, and craves shelter in Christian charity. What’s the name of this parish?”

“Hey?” The man broke off to silence the noise of his dogs.

“What’s the name of this parish?”


“I thought so. Then mine is Noy–Timothy Noy–and I’m your rector. Weren’t you expecting me?”

“Indeed, sir, if you’re Mr. Noy, the Squire had word you might be coming down this week; and ’twas I, as churchwarden, that posted your name on the church door. If you’ll wait a moment, sir–the coach upset, you say!”

He disappeared from the window, and we heard him shouting to awaken the household. By-and-by the door was unchained and he admitted us, exclaiming again, “The coach upset, you say, sir!”

“Worse than that: it has been robbed. We keep some bad characters in our parish, Mr.–“

“Menhennick, sir; George Menhennick–and this is Tresaher Farm. Bad characters, sir? I hope not. We keep no highway robbers in this parish.”