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The Torch and Other Tales   By: (1862-1960)

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THE TORCH AND OTHER TALES

by

EDEN PHILLPOTTS

Author of Tryphena

New York: The MacMillan Company

I. 'SANTA CLAUS' II. THE RETURNED NATIVE III. JOHN AND JANE IV. THE OLD SOLDIER V. WHEN FOX WAS FERRYMAN VI. MOTHER'S MISFORTUNE VII. STEADFAST SAMUEL VIII. THE HOUND'S POOL IX. THE PRICE OF MILLY BASSETT X. THE AMBER HEART XI. THE WISE WOMAN OF WALNA XII. THE TORCH XIII. 'SPIDER' XIV. THE WOODSTOCK XV. THE NIGHT HAWK

No. I

'SANTA CLAUS'

Nobody knew where Teddy Pegram came from or why the man ordained to settle down in Little Silver. He had no relations round about and couldn't, or wouldn't, tell his new neighbours what had brought him along. But he bided a bit with Mrs. Ford, the policeman's wife, as a lodger, and then, when he'd sized up the place and found it suited him, he took a tumble down, four room cottage at the back side of the village and worked upon it himself and soon had the place to his liking. A most handy little man he was and could turn his skill in many directions. And he'd do odd jobs for the neighbours and show a good bit of kindness to the children. He lived alone and looked after himself, for he could cook and sew like a woman at least like the clever ones. In fact there didn't seem nothing he couldn't do. And his knowledge extended above crafts, for he'd got a bit of learning also and he'd talk with Johns at the shop of all sorts about business, or with Samual Mutters, the chemist, about patent medicines, or with butcher or baker concerning their jobs, or with policemen about crime, and be worth attending to on any subject.

His pleasure, however, was sporting, and not until he'd dwelt among us a good bit did a measure of doubt in that matter creep into our praise of the man.

Round about fifty he might have been a clean shaved, active chap, five feet three inches high, and always bursting with energy. He had grizzled hair and a blue chin and eyes so bright and black as shoe buttons. A hard mouth and lips always pursed up over his yellow teeth; but though it looked a cruel sort of mouth, nought cruel ever came out of it save in the matter of politics. He was a red radical and didn't go to church, yet against that you could set his all round good will and friendship and his uncommon knack of lending a hand to anybody in his power to serve. But he was up against the Government, and would talk so fierce of a night sometimes at the 'Barley Sheaf' that Ned Chown, the landlord, who was a true blue, didn't think so well on Mr. Pegram as the most of us. Friends he made, but hadn't much use for the women, though he declared himself as not against them. He was a bachelor minded man by nature, and yet, what ain't so common in that sort, he liked childer and often had a halfpenny in his pocket for one of his pets.

Mrs. Ford, however, he regarded as a great and trustworthy friend, and her husband also, for, from the time he lodged with them, they all agreed uncommon well, and Joseph Ford, the policeman, was high in his praises of Teddy from the first. He happened to be a very radical thinker himself, did Joseph, but, as became his calling, put law and order first; and you felt that the newcomer agreed on that matter and didn't want to do anything contrary to the constitution, but just advance the welfare of the under dog by proper means; so Joseph said there was no fault in the man and praised his opinions.

In truth Teddy Pegram appeared to be a very great stickler for the law and held it in high respect so he always declared and reckoned that those who put themselves within the reach of it deserved all they got. He might say doubtful things to Joseph Ford's ear now and again, but nought the policeman could fairly quarrel with, because both Joseph and Minnie, his wife, owed Teddy a bit by now, and, doting on their little son as they did, felt a bit weak to the man in that quarter... Continue reading book >>




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