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they are very poor. I wish you would
promise him the next presentation to Shipley.
You could not do better. He is so
clever and so learned, andand he was
very good to James, papa dear."

In this way, the Reverend Charles Levincourt
became vicar of Shipley-in-the-Wold.


THE small and obscure village of Shipley-
in-the-Wold, stands in one of the westernmost
of the midland counties.

Its name was given in days before the
whole of that part of England had been
marked by the plough and spade, like a
page by the tracings of a pen. Generation
after generation has left its sign-manual
on the face of the land: each writing the
record of its labours in straight furrows
on many a fertile field: furrows effaced
and changed and renewed, from season to
season, and from age to age, as are the
waving ripples on a seaside sand, washed
by the eternal tides.

A stretch of furze-grown common is,
perhaps, the only remnant of that
characteristic aspect of the country which gave
Shipley its distinctive appellation.

There are wide, flat meadows all round
about it, where herds of cattle graze on
the dew-fed grass. The principal farms
in the immediate neighbourhood of Shipley-
in-the-Wold, are grazing farms. All the
land is flat and monotonous as far as the
eye can see; save to the westward, where
the horizon line is broken by a range of low
turf-covered hills, called by the inhabitants
of those parts, emphatically "the Hills."
Behind "the Hills" lies another Shipley;
Shipley Magna, a tiny market town.

If it could be reached by a direct line
cut through one swelling green mound,
Shipley Magna would not be more than
two or three miles distant from Shipley-in-
the-Wold. But the road winds about and
over the hills; and it is six miles from the
village to the town. Southward the
landscape grows prettier and more smiling.
There are trees, and there is arable land
where, in summer, wide fields of sunburnt
grain wave, and rock, and change colour
in the breeze, as a face pales or flushes at
a sudden whisper.

But Shipley-in-the-Wold only beholds
these things from afar. The stretch of
furze-grown common already mentioned,
and beyond that, a considerable extent of
oozy marshland, separate it from the smiling
southern country.

In the winter season, bleak winds sweep
scythe-winged over Shipley; the snow lies
deep about it; and often a single track of
hoofs, and wheels, and feet may be traced
in long black lines and uncouth dots, for
miles across the otherwise unbroken whiteness
of the level.

The village straggles over a considerable
extent of ground, but its houses are few
and its population is scanty. There is
nothing which can be called a main street
belonging to it.

The dwellings stand scattered irregularly;
here a cottage, and there a cottage, and
each one is set within its own little patch
of kitchen-garden.

The place is remote from any great
centre of commerce and activity. No railway
passes near it.

Twenty miles to the southward, among
the trees and the cornfields, lies the cathedral
city of Danecester; with its bishop, and
its dean, and its minster, and many other
civilising and excellent institutions. But
Danecester is, after all, but a silent, sleepy,
old-fashioned city; and it wots little, and
cares less, about poor little Shipley out on
the bleak, wind-swept flats.

There is a very ancient church in Shipley:
a low-roofed, stone church with round
arches, pillars of disproportionate thickness,
and a square, squat tower. It has a deep
porch, to enter which you descend two steps
from the graveyard. The labouring
centuries have piled their dust high around
the massive masonry of St. Gildas's church,
and the level of the outside earth is
considerably above that of the stone pavement
within the little temple.

The graveyard is enclosed by a low wall,
and its gateway is a relic of antiquity coeval
with the church itself. The said gateway
is of hewn stone, with a projecting
penthouse roof, and beneath it on one side is
a large stone slab, cracked, weather-stained,
and half sunk into the earth. Here, in the
old time, the coffin-bearers were wont to
set down their burthen, and a preliminary
prayer for the dead was said before entering
the churchyard.

There is no beauty in St. Gildas's graveyard.
It lies defenceless and exposed to
every wild north-easterly gale that sweeps
over the flats. Its clustered mounds are
turf-grown. Sheep graze there sometimes
in summer. The few grave-stones, as yet
undefaced by time and weather, bear humble
names of yeomen and peasants, born,
living, and dying, at Shipley, generation
after generation.

There are some rank flaunting marigolds