(Full Directions will be found at the End)
THE Reverend Dr Hall was in his study making up the entries for the year in the parish register: it being his custom to note baptisms, weddings and burials in a paper book as they occurred, and in the last days of December to write them out fairly in the vellum book that was kept in the parish chest.
To him entered his housekeeper, in evident agitation. 'Oh, sir,' said she, 'whatever do you think? The poor Squire's gone!'
'The Squire? Squire Bowles? What are you talking about, woman? Why, only yesterday——.'
'Yes, I know, sir, but it's the truth. Wickem, the clerk, just left word on his way down to toll the bell—you'll hear it yourself in a minute. There now, just listen.'
Sure enough the sound broke on the still night—not loud, for the Rectory did not immediately adjoin the churchyard. Dr Hall rose hastily.
'Terrible, terrible,' he said. T must see them at the Hall at once. He seemed so greatly better yesterday. He paused. 'Did you hear any word of the sickness having come this way at all? There was nothing said in Norwich. It seems so sudden.'
'No, indeed, sir, no such thing. Just caught away with a choking in his throat, Wickem says. It do make one feel— well, I'm sure I had to set down as much as a minute or more, I come over that queer when I heard the words—and by what I could understand they'll be asking for the burial very quick. There's some can't bear the thought of the cold corpse laying in the house, and——.'
'Yes: well, I must find out from Madam Bowles herself or Mr Joseph. Get me my cloak, will you? Ah, and could