One Snowy Night - Long ago at Oxford

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Published : Wednesday, December 08, 2010
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Number of pages: 101
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of One Snowy Night, by Emily Sarah Holt This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: One Snowy Night Long ago at Oxford Author: Emily Sarah Holt Illustrator: M. Irwin Release Date: February 2, 2009 [EBook #27962] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ONE SNOWY NIGHT *** Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England Emily Sarah Holt "One Snowy Night" Preface. The story of the following pages is one of the least known yet saddest episodes in English history—the first persecution of Christians by Christians in this land. When Boniface went forth from England to evangelise Germany, he was received with welcome, and regarded as a saint: when Gerhardt came from Germany to restore the pure Gospel to England, he was cast out of the vineyard and slain. The spirit of her who is drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus is the same now that it was then. She does not ask if a man agree with the Word of God, but whether he agree with her. “When the Church has spoken”—this has been said by exalted ecclesiastical lips quite recently—“we cannot appeal to Scripture against her!” But we Protestants can—we must—we will. The Church is not God, but man. The Bible is not the word of man, but the Word of God (One Thessalonians, two, verse 13; Ephesians, six, verse 17): therefore it must be paramount and unerring. Let us hold fast this our profession, not being moved away from the hope of the Gospel, nor entangled again with the yoke of bondage, but stablished in the faith, grounded and settled. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. ” Chapter One. Saint Maudlin’s Well. “For men must work, and women must weep, And the sooner ’tis over, the sooner to sleep.” Reverend Charles Kingsley. “Flemild!” “Yes, Mother.” It was not a cross voice that called, but it sounded like a very tired one. The voice which answered was much more fresh and cheerful. “Is Romund come in yet?” “No, Mother.” “Nor Haimet either?” “I have not seen him, Mother.” “Oh dear, those boys! They are never in the way when they are wanted.” The speaker came forward and showed herself. She was a woman of some forty years or more, looking older than she was, and evidently very weary. She wore a plain untrimmed skirt of dark woollen stuff, short to the ankles, a long linen apron, and a blue hood over her head and shoulders. Resting her worn hands on the half-door, she looked drearily up and down the street, as if in languid hope of catching a glimpse of the boys who should have been there, and were not. “Well, there’s no help for it!” she said at last, “Flemild, child, you must go for the water to-night.” “I? O Mother!” The girl’s tone was one of manifest reluctance. “It can’t be helped, child. Take Derette with you, and be back as quick as you can, before the dusk comes on. The lads should have been here to spare you, but they only think of their own pleasure. I don’t know what the world’s coming to, for my part.” “Father Dolfin says it’s going to be burnt up,” said a third voice—that of a child—from the interior of the house. “Time it was!” replied the mother bluntly. “There’s nought but trouble and sorrow in it—leastwise I’ve never seen much else. It’s just work, work, work, from morning to night, and often no rest to speak of from night to morning. You get up tireder than you went to bed, and you may just hold your tongue for all that any body cares, as the saints know. Well, well!—Come, make haste, child, or there’ll be a crowd round Saint Martin’s Well.” (Note 1.) “O Mother! mayn’t I go to Plato’s Well?” “What, and carry your budget four times as far? Nonsense, Flemild!” “But, Mother, please hear me a minute! It’s a quiet enough way, when you are once past the Bayly, and I can step into the lodge and see if Cousin Stephen be at home. If he be, he’ll go with me, I know.” “You may go your own way,” said the mother, not quite pleasantly. “Young folks are that headstrong! I can’t look for my children to be better than other folks’. If they are as good, it’s as much as one need expect in this world.” Flemild had been busily tying on a red hood while her mother spoke, and signing to her little sister to do the same. Then the elder girl took from a corner, where it hung on a hook, a budget or pail of boiled leather, a material then much used for many household vessels now made of wood or metal: and the girls went out into the narrow street. The street was called Kepeharme Lane, and the city was Oxford. This lane ran, in old diction, from the Little Bayly to Fish Street —in modern language, from New Inn Hall Street to Saint Aldate’s, slightly south of what is now Queen Street, and was then known as the Great Bayly. The girls turned their backs on Saint Aldate’s, and went westwards, taking the way towards the Castle, which in 1159 was not a ruined fortress, but an aristocratic mansion, wherein the great De Veres held almost royal state. “Why don’t you like Saint Martin’s Well, Flemild?” demanded the child, with childish curiosity. “Oh, for lots of reasons,” answered her sister evasively. “Tell me one or two.” “Well, there is always a crowd there towards evening. Then, very often, there are ragamuffins on Penniless Bench (Note 2) that one does not want to come too near. Then—don’t you see, we have to pass the Jewry?” “What would they do to us?” asked the child. “Don’t talk about it!” returned her sister, with a shudder. “Don’t you know, Derette, the Jews are very, very wicked people? Hasn’t Mother told you so many a time? Never you go near them—now, mind!” “Are they worse than we are?” Flemild’s conscience pricked her a little as she replied, “Of course they are. Don’t you know they crucified our Lord?” “What, these Jews?” asked Derette with open eyes. “Old Aaron, and Benefei at the corner, and Jurnet the fletcher, and—O Flemild,
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