BLTC Press Titles

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Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

Vanity Fair

William Thackery

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely


by Sir Walter Scott


In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by the river Don,' there extended in ancient times a large forest, covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster. Remains of the extensive wood are still to be seen around Rotherham." Here were fought many of the most desperate battles during the civil wars of the Roses,' and here also flourished in ancient times those bands of gallant outlaws whose deeds have been rendered so popular in English song.

The sun was setting upon one of the rich grassy glades of that forest. Hundreds of broad-headed, short-stemmed, widebranched oaks flung their gnarled arms over a thick carpet of the most delicious greensward. In some places they were intermingled with beeches, hollies, and copsewood of various descriptions, so closely as totally to intercept the level beams of the sinking sun. In others they receded from each other, forming those long sweeping vistas, in the intricacy of which the eye delights to lose itself. A considerable open space, In the midst of this glade, seemed formerly to have been dedicated to the rites of the Druidical' superstition; for on the summit of a hillock there still remained part of a circle of rough, unhewn stones of large dimensions. Seven stood upright; the rest had been dislodged from their places, and lay, some prostrate near their former site, and others on the side of the hill. One large stone only had found its way to the bottom, and in stopping the course of a small brook gave by its opposition a feeble voice of murmur to the placid and elsewhere silent streamlet.

1 a river of Yorkshire, one of the northern each claiming the crown. One was headed

counties of England. by the Duke of York, whose badge or em

a Rotherham, Doncaster, and Sheffield are blem was a white rose; the leader of the

towns of Yorkshire. other was the Duke of Lancaster, whose

3 wars in England in the 15th century emblem was a red rose; hence the name

between two branches of the royal family, given to the wars.

The human figures which completed this landscape were in number two, partaking in their dress and appearance of that wild and rustic character which belonged to the woodlands of Yorkshire at that early period. The elder of these men had a stern, savage, and wild aspect. His garment was of the simplest form, being a close jacket with sleeves, composed of the tanned skin of some animal, on which the hair had been originally left, but which had been worn off in many places. This vestment reached from the throat to the knees, and served at once all the usual purposes of body clothing; there was no wider opening at the collar than was necessary to admit the passage of the head, from which it may be inferred that it was put on by slipping it over the head and shoulders, in the manner of a modern shirt. Sandals bound with thongs made of boar's hide protected the feet, and a roll of thin leather was twined artificially around the legs, and, ascending above the calf, left the knees bare, like those of a Scottish Highlander. To make the jacket sit yet more close to the body, it was gathered at the middle by a broad leathern belt, secured by a brass buckle; to one side of which was attached a sort of scrip," and to the other a ram's horn,

J Druidism was the religion of the ancient ligious rites or ceremonies usually in groves inhabitants of Britain. The priests were of oak. called Druids. They performed their re- 3 a small bag.

accoutered with a mouth-piece, for the purpose of blowing. In the same belt was stuck one of those long, broad, sharp-pointed and two-edged knives, with a buck's horn handle, which were fabricated in the neighborhood, and bore even at this early period the name of a Sheffield whittle. The man had no covering upon his head, which was only defended by his own thick hair, scorched by the sun into a dark-red color, forming a contrast with the overgrown beard, which was of a yellow or amber hue. One part of his dress only remains, but it is too remarkable to be suppressed; it was a brass ring, resembling a dog's collar, but without any opening, and soldered fast round his neck, so loose as to form no impediment to his breathing, yet so tight as to be incapable of being removed, excepting by the use of the file. On this was engraved in Saxon characters the following inscription:—■" Gurth, the son of Beowulph, is the born thrall1 of Cedric of Rotherwood."

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