Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
TWO days are passed. It is a summer evening; the coachman has
set me down at a place called Whitcross; he could take me no
farther for the sum I had given, and I was not possessed of another
shilling in the world. The coach is a mile off by this time; I am
alone. At this moment I discover that I forgot to take my parcel out
of the pocket of the coach, where I had placed it for safety; there it
remains, there it must remain; and now, I am absolutely destitute.
Whitcross is no town, nor even a hamlet; it is but a stone pillar set
up where four roads meet: whitewashed, I suppose, to be more
obvious at a distance and in darkness. Four arms spring from its
summit: the nearest town to which these point is, according to the
inscription, distant ten miles; the farthest, above twenty.
From the well-known names of these towns I learn in what county
I have lighted; a north-midland shire, dusk with moorland, ridged
with mountain: this I see.
There are great moors behind and on each hand of me; there are
waves of mountains far beyond that deep valley at my feet. The
population here must be thin, and I see no passengers on these
roads: they stretch out east, west, north, and south-white, broad,
lonely; they are all cut in the moor, and the heather grows deep
and wild to their very verge. Yet a chance traveller might pass by;
and I wish no eye to see me now: strangers would wonder what I
am doing, lingering here at the sign-post, evidently objectless and
lost. I might be questioned: I could give no answer but what would
sound incredible and excite suspicion. Not a tie holds me to human
society at this moment-not a charm or hope calls me where my
fellow-creatures are-none that saw me would have a kind thought
or a good wish for me.
I have no relative but the universal mother, Nature: I will seek her
breast and ask repose.
I struck straight into the heath; I held on to a hollow I saw deeply
furrowing the brown moorside; I waded knee-deep in its dark
growth; I turned with its turnings, and finding a moss-blackened
granite crag in a hidden angle, I sat down under it. High banks of
moor were about me; the crag protected my head: the sky was over
Some time passed before I felt tranquil even here: I had a vague
dread that wild cattle might be near, or that some sportsman or
poacher might discover me.
If a gust of wind swept the waste, I looked up, fearing it was the
rush of a bull; if a plover whistled, I imagined it a man. Finding