Friday, April 29, 2011

Memoirs of a Folk-Song Collector

Miss Letitia Vormal de Hyde has been song-collecting, and having adventures in and around Lingham Peveril, Somersetshire. Her activities have attracted some criticism from some of the local womenfolk.

Not long after my return to my lodgings, I determined to leave Lingham Peveril and return to my home. The shouting in the street below my window, and the several stones thrown through the casement caused me to doubt that I was welcome in the village. As Old Trouser conveyed my baggages down to the waiting carriage, (I had decided that I would not endure the doubtful comforts of the dog-cart again), who should appear but young Digby Charlesworth, apparently desirous of knowledge of my intended movements. Digby insisted in accompanying me in my carriage to the railway station. During the journey, the track proving equally uneven as on my way up to the village, Digby was thrown across the carriage and thereby became sprawled across my muff. It took him several minutes to remove himself, only to be thrown into me again, he being forced to use his hands to save himself from being jettisoned to the floor. Naturally, I seized hold of him, fearing he might sustain an injury.

We arrived at the railway station all too soon, for I had scarcely time to smooth my habiliment, and Digby to adjust his hose, before the door of the carriage was thrown open. I stepped down, and turned to wave goodbye to my tired but happy travelling companion, who could raise but a finger as a parting gesture. As I boarded the train, my thoughts were full of Lingham Peveril, Digby, and the semi-destitute but lusty fellows I had encountered, until my eyes fell on a dandy of a man, all silks and lace cuffs, who was occupying my compartment. “Good day, sir”, I remarked, remembering to cast my eyes modestly downwards, (although this was of little avail, for the gentleman’s nether garments were so fine and well-tailored as to leave nothing to a young lady’s imagination). “How far are you going, sir?”, I enquired. “Madam”, he said, with what I imagined was something resembling a twinkle in his eye, “I will, God willing, go all the way”. “Why, my dear sir”, I whispered, “I am going that way myself. Do you perchance know any songs?”.

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