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Robert Dick of Thurso
Chapter XIII. Dick’s Searchings Amongst The Boulder Clay

Dick tested the statements of other geologists, no matter how distinguished, by his own observations. Thus, he found that Sir Charles Lyell had stated, in his ElemeifUs of Geology, that very few organic remains had been found in the boulder clay, and especially in the till, throughout Scotland.

“Now"’ says Dick to Hugh Miller, “you see the results of my observations. Marine shells have been found in nearly all the sections of boulder clay that I have met with. But I thought it better, instead of further searching the clay near Thurso, to try another direction. I accordingly determined to travel to Freswick Bay, on the east side of the county, and trace up the burn there.”

This journey from Thurso to Freswick was only one of the many instances of Dick’s enthusiastic determination in the cause of science. The distance was twenty-four miles. It took him six hours of unflinching walking to reach the scene of his operations. It was October, and the weather was growing cold. Dick went across the Broad Linns extending from Barwick to Mey and Canisbay, a long sea-exposed road. From neai Canisbay church he saw the moon overhead, and the Skerry lights shimmering in the distance at the mouth of the Pentland Firth.

The man who walks by moonlight travels among enchantments. Everything he sees is different from what it is in daylight. Roadside knolls are mountains along the horizon; the little cottages by the roadside are palatial; and the distant sea is full of glory. We tell the story of Dick’s journey to Freswick in his own words. They are full of interest:—

“It is a sad drawback to my long rambles,” he says, “that I am under the necessity of returning home by four o’clock in the same day. The distance to Freswick is twenty-four miles. It took me six hours to walk there, six hours to walk back, leaving about three hours for investigation on the spot,—thus making about fifteen hours in all.

“To accomplish this I started at midnight. I passed over the town’s bridge at a quarter to twelve, under the favour of as lovely a moon as ever blessed an unthankful world. Though I walked alone, I walked cheerily.

“About a quarter to six in the morning I found myself gazing up at the droll windows of the old castle of Freswick, while daylight and moonlight were yet struggling for the mastery.

“It was too dim, too queer a light to enable me to scrutinise the boulder clay sections, so I passed over the burn and along the shore, on the top of a high ridge of sand and recent shells, blown up, I suppose, by stormy winds—at least 100 feet over the sea-level. I looked round and round the little bay, and thought I could discern, on the Duncansby side, a terrace about thirty or forty feet above the present sea-level. It was the first terrace I had seen. There are no terraces at Thurso. If they ever existed, the encroachments of the sea have obliterated them.

"The daylight was now good. It had obliterated the light of the moon. At six o’clock I turned into the burn of Freswick, close under the castle; and had not proceeded above a gunshot, when I found a low section of blue clay, thickly charged with recent marine fragments, chiefly Cyprina.

“I passed up the burn, from section to section, and extracted shells out of them all—In some instances entire univalves. In the first clay section I examined I found many rolled pieces of what seemed chalk; it is either chalk, or very pure petrified shell-marl. I also found at another place chalk flints!

“As I went up the burn, I found the sections of boulder clay growing higher and higher, up to thirty feet in height. I found them get fuller of stones. It had also a reddish belt—a band of sand and clay intermixed, running through it horizontally. The marine shells exceeded in numbers my fondest expectations.

“I reached the bridge carrying the public road over the burn. Though the bridge is only about fifteen minutes’ walk from the sea, it took me three hours to reach it, and there I found that my time was exhausted, I had been so busily employed in extracting marine shells from the clay.

“Wishing to take the loop out of the road, I struck across the moor. I came to the burn again, and found section after section crowded with shell crumbs thicker than the spots on the leopard. Atop of the sections, a stratum of peat, and over all heather, knee deep. What a reward for my six hours’ travel! What a paradise for the geologist!

“I splashed through the burn, first to one side, then to the other; till in an agony I ultimately ran away from the temptation. I found it was half-past ten o’clock! So away I went post-haste! ”

Shortly after his return, Dick sent to Hugh Miller a list of the twenty-four marine shells (giving their various names) which he had already found in the boulder clay of Caithness. Hugh Miller had said that he “had never found in the boulder clay the slightest trace of an organism that could be held to belong to itself,” and he “became somewhat sceptical regarding the very existence of boulder fossils. I must now state, however,” he says, “that my scepticism has thoroughly given way; and that, slowly yielding to the force of positive evidence, I have become an assured believer in the comminuted recent shells of the boulder clay, as in the Belemnites of the Oolite and Lias, or the ganoid Ichthyolites of the Old Red Sandstone.” Hugh Miller then refers to the numerous marine shells found by Dick on the banks of the Thurso river, and in the boulder clay along the burn at Freswick.

Dick went on with his observations. On the 27th October 1848, he thus began his letter to Hugh Miller:—

“The whole affair is settled. Scepticism may go sneak with the moles and the bats, into holes and corners. It was no mud eruption—no temporary flood of ocean brine—that laid down the blue clay and marine shells in Freswick Burn. Ho! It was the ocean itself, wide and broad as poor auld Scotland, when the proudest pinnacles of Dunnet Head lay far beneath its billows.

“In my last note to you, I said that I must go and see the eastern side of Dunnet Head, chafed by the boisterous waves of the rude Pentland Firth. Monday,

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, went by—cold, wet, and listless. But I had hopes of Friday. I rose at half-past two o’clock, worked till eight, set out at halfpast eight for Dunnet cliffs, and was home again at halfpast three in the afternoon. Try that, gentlemen-geolo-gists; try that, if ye can!

“‘But what got ye?’ I hear you say. ‘What got ye? Well, I will tell you every word about it; and, believe me, unless I had the opportunity of telling it to you, I would never have gone a footstep in search of auld warld shells.

“Well! on arriving at the eastern side of Dunnet cliffs, I made direct for a precipitous cliff at least 150 feet high; where, some years ago, I sat on a big bouldei of sandstone, making my breakfast on cold rolls and cheese. In the present instance, I wound along the foot of these breakneck rocks, which, unless the tide had been out, I would not have been able to do,—for the tide comes close in under the cliff.

“I clambered over the fallen stones, dashed by white spray, which went clean over me like a shower-bath. Winding along, creeping my way, I could not help admiring the multitudes of Littorina rudis which besprinkled the stones. I was as much a child as ever. I filled my vest pocket—simply because they were bonnie.

“I soon found that I was about to be disappointed as regards the first half of the serious work that I had come in quest of. The precipitous cliffs of red sandstone to the west of the little haven of Brough are gradually mouldering, and as they moulder the earthy matter falls down; but meeting with few ledges of rock to arrest it, the whole is swept away by the sea.

“Here and there, as I went on, I found patches of it, forming a talus at the foot of the cliffs, with green turf, bedecked with withered wild flowers. I found that the sea, at high tides, had cut small sections out of the end of the slopes. I examined these, and found shell crumbs, but they were not the genuine thing. I found, along with the crumbs, entire shells of Helix, Pupa, Clausilia, etc. This stamped these sandslips as quite modern affairs.

“Then I went on to the cottage built beside the small, neat, landing-place on the sea-shore, at Brough Haven. The braes above here are at least eighty feet high; and a fine landslip had, not very long ago, taken place; but alas ! the Government folks, anxious to have everything tidy, had driven piles of wood into the ground, and laid fresh divots2 over the whole of it. Had they only known that I was coming to see the place, they would doubtless have left it bare and raw !

“Never mind! In spite of them, I found a few small landslips, and in the raw face of them I found, what surprised me, my old friend the blue boulder clay, filled with pieces of Cyprina! I gathered a handful, and passed on to a precipitous cliff of blue boulder clay, right above the cottages on the shore; and digging steps for my feet up the clay, I found Cyprina and shell crumbs of the sea. On the very top of the brae, just a little back, the Government men have built a very handsome cottage.

“A very little to the west of this cottage there is a small burn. The burn has cut its way down through the boulder clay. I went into the ravine, and stood looking round me. Ho sight could give me so much pleasure and surprise. I found, on walking along the little rill, that there was a tiny cascade about eight or nine feet deep, down which the mossy water leapt dashingly over a perpendicular wall of real, blue, stony, boulder clay!

“I advanced to the brink of the waterfall, and there again I stood, and looked, and wondered! Hever was mortal so enchanted. Boulder clay on each side, all fretted with ‘ barley mill fragments of shells, pieces of Cyprina, and blue stones, pebbly fragments, standing half out, half in, as thick as locusts. And the wide sea immeasurably far away!

“I looked down, and saw distinctly shells, comminuted shells, studding the clay at the foot of the waterfall, and the steep sides of a section beyond it, to the very edge of the precipice. I wished to jump down, but, like the cautious puddock, I reflected ‘ how was I to get up again V The sides of the small chasm were as perpendicular as a wall, and nearly as hard. I tried my hammer and old knife on the hard clay beside me, and it put me to a swither.

“Yet I must get down; and at length I determined to try. Observing that the bank or section of boulder clay, nearly at the very edge of the precipice, on the east side, was a little lower than the rest, I resolved to go down there. I thought that, by digging steps for my feet, I should doubtless get up again.

“It was a venture, let me tell you. One false step, and down I should have gone over the precipitous wall of red sandstone—down, down, to the sea-washed rocks below. But not so fast! I am not the man to break my neck for auld-warld shells. No ! So, laying firm hold of the grass, I deposited my legs downwards, quietly over each other, and then slid softly down on my hunkers !—Now!

“I walked up to the foot of the little cascade, and stood, and looked, and better looked. The boulder cliff or brae on the west side, was about fifteen or twenty feet high, and rested on polished red sandstone. It was thickly charged with stone fragments, not of red sandstone, mind you,—not one crumb; but dark, bituminous, claystone fragments, of small size, generally about the size of the heads of harrow teeth, or of old nails in cathedral doors. I found many barley mill* shell crumbs,—all small, not one large piece, and all of Cyprina.

“My dear friend Turritella was not there at all. I examined the pieces of stone to see if I could find grooving or scratching; but though they were all well polished, 1 detected no decided grooving. One or two of the largest and broadest stones had fine scratchings, but not at all so deep, or so continuous, as on the big stones I found at Thurdystoft, on the Thurso river.

“I brought away a piece of the bituminous clays, and one stone, well polished, with a hollow depression on one side. I took a few of the shell crumbs, but not all. I purposely left a few for the Critics ! or the next gentleman who may venture there.

“There are moments when a real heartfelt pleasure amply repays us poor mortals for years of sorrow. And such a moment was mine now. There I stood with evidences of Old World convulsions and changes environed round about me on every side. And yet there was a living cascade, merrily piping away the sunny hours at my feet, the crystal drops bedecking my clay-soiled boots. Columbus had never cast anchor here. Ho philosopher had ever entered this paradise. It was all a new world. To me for the moment it was The World. And I triumphed in the felt conviction that a humble individual like myself had, under Providence, ‘ done the State some servicefor the evidence that it brings to bear on geological science is not to be gainsaid.

“Hot many yards inland from this fine section of boulder clay, resting on cliffs of red sandstone on the east side of Dunnet Cliffs, high over the Pentland Firth, —not many yards inland there lies, over this clay, a black peat moss, which, judging from examinations made in it, is at least seven or eight feet thick. How old is that black moss? Hundreds, thousands of years? Yet what is that to the time that has elapsed since the icebergs went thundering over Dunnet Head? Then the sea, the wide sea, floated and stormed over all.

“Yes! there are thousands and millions of grey lichened sandstone boulders scattered over the moory top of Dunnet. There are boulders of grey granite too ! Ay, and there are boulders of gneiss and of clayslate.

“But, in the midst of these reflections, I forget that I am down in a breakneck ravine, and that it is necessary that I should contrive to get up again. Well I went to the lowest part of the section, and digging steps for my feet, I clambered up until I reached the green turf; and laying hold of it with my hands I pulled myself up with all my strength. . . . And then I went homewards, full of delight at my morning’s work.”

Dick was not yet satisfied. He must investigate the whole subject thoroughly. He was no featherbed philosopher. He was up in the morning early; did his work,—kneaded, worked the dough into loaves, put the whole into the oven, waited until it was baked, drew it out, and then was away on some fresh expedition.

At the beginning of November he went to Harpsdale, about eleven miles from Thurso. The weather was now cold and wet. It rained heavily during the whole day. He found in the black band, above described a belt of fine sea sand, white and pure, dipping east. It contained sea shells and shell crumbs; clays of various colours, black, blue, green, and grey; boulders of red granite; small red granite pebbles; pieces of quartz, gneiss, greenstone, and grauwacke; chalk and chalk flints; Portskerra conglomerate; Caithness flagstones, some of them well rubbed, grooved by ice,—all in the boulder clay!

He was not yet satisfied with his first visit to Freswick. He determined to make another, though it was so late in the year. He was for some time deterred by the stormy weather. It was blowing from the north, with rain, sleet, and snow alternately. But no sooner did a pause occur than, equipped with stern resolution, he took the road. To show his determination, we quote his own words, which are not only full of life but of eloquence. They are taken from his letter to Hugh Miller, dated the 13th November 1848 :—

“The nights are much longer now, and of course the days are much shortened. I knew that I could not discern a piece of shell from a piece of stone before eight o’clock; and I did not wish to stand shivering there waiting for the sun.

“Up, sluggards! up!’

“At half-past two o’clock I got my parritch ready, gulped it down, and sallied forth.

“It is a cold damp morning. Black clouds are wheeling and circling along the sky. The moon is somewhere above, but I see it not. Her light is shorn. But, for the little light she sheds, I am thankful. It is a long, long, lonely road to Freswick; but though alone I have no fears.

“Ghaist nor bogle shalt thou fear;
Thou’rt to Heaven and Science dear!"

“I am not sure, not exactly sure, whether the deductions of scientific men are always such as to merit the approbation of Heaven. Man at best is but an erring, groping, half-blind animal. His reason is often at fault. But hark! the sleepless one gives warning. One, two, three o’clock, and now across the bridge, and now along the road,—encompassed on either side with cultivated fields, once stubborn blue boulder clay, and even yet, after hundreds of years of dibbling and dibbling, drilling and digging, it is still a rough soil.

“On now, opposite the Cairn of Murkle, is a green mound on the left hand, where lies a large boulder of Portskerra conglomerate. It is about a hundred feet above the sea-level. There is another of the same stuff on the shore at Cleardane. At East Murkle there lies one of the largest boulder stones I have seen in Caithness. Twenty years ago it lay there amid heather and long grass. The field is ploughed now, and we have stubble instead of heath, but the stone is the same. It lies about 300 feet above sea-mark, and when the ice and the flood brought it there, very little of Dunnet Head was dry.

“The village of Castletown stands on the boulder clay, and there is blue boulder clay in the bottom of the bay beyond. It can be seen right off Castlehill harbour. . . At the south-west angie of Dunnet Sands, beside the

House of Castlehill, the blue bituminous flagstone crops out. charged with broken fossil fish. The strata dip at low angles—nearly flat. Crossing the sands, with a group of dunes or sandhills on our right, we arrive at Dunnet, at the north-east angle of the bay. . . . The blue slate at Brough, and on to Ham, dips very suddenly. Indeed, all the way to Barrogill, one would think that the bottom of the Pentland Firth had fallen in; the strata are all on end.

“It is a dull, cold, dreary morning. Strange stories are told of wild men and wild bulls to be encountered amid the grassy links of Dunnet; but with a fearless step we go on our way in hope, remarking that surely the ocean was once farther inland than where we are treading. We are now across the links without any harm or appearance of evil. By and by we have Loch Haellan on our right, and we hear the ‘quack, quack’ of ducks and the startled cry of the snipe. The word is still ‘On!’Up the hill, along the hill, and down the hill; and now we are fairly moving across the Moss of Mey.

“The clouds have now dispersed. Shall we look at the Aurora, or shut our eyes on Mars, on Venus, or Jupiter, or the Moon; for they all peep out and bid us good morning! Yonder are the twin lights of the Skerries. The wind has died away; the sky is serene, and the voice of the sea murmurs plaintively along the shore. Oh ! ’tis worth all the trouble, all the toil, all the fatigue, to have the opportunity of lifting up one's eyes and contemplating the beauty, the grandeur, the sublimity of such a scene as this.

“Daylight is a sure thing. Moonlight is good, but you never feel certain where you are. There is always a hazy uncertainty about it. You may strain your eyeballs as you will, but you can never get a hold of it. But you lay hold of daylight at once. You always know where you are, even when the most imperfect glimmer breaks through the sky. Does not this tell emphatically that Man is the creature of the Day?

“How lovely looked Stroma Isle across the waters ! And all the various islands far and near lying encompassed by the sea without a wave, placid as a lake. Below me lay John o’ Groat’s. Not without reason did De Groot choose his habitation. I admire his sagacity. Old John must have been a true poet.

“Most of the existing maps are very faulty. The one, the two, before me are eminently so. Never mind! The road strikes off to Freswick. We wander over a moss; the land rises; and then we wind along the Wart Hill3

“The last time I walked along this road I observed what I thought looked liked boulder clay, but the moonlight prevented my observing it closely. To-day I had daylight. I found that much red sandstone debris lay thick on this side of the Wart Hill. By and by I came to a stream of water pouring in a torrent over the hill. I went oft* the road into the chasm made by the water, and found the underlying strata blood-red sandstone. Most likely it was a continuation of Duncansby Head —‘ square, red, and ugly so Maculloch says.

“But what took me into the chasm was to examine the debris lying over the rock. I found it nine or ten feet thick. In its upper portion it seemed a mixture of blue clay and red sand, and the upper portions were very distinctly stratified. The lower portion was red, like the sandstone on which they lay. I found no shells, nor shell crumbs. The stuff contained many fragments of rubbed sandstones. There were a few pieces of quartz and granite. ... A flood of water undoubtedly brought this red debris to the south side of Wart Hill. Has Duncansby Head felt the ‘ plaguey knocks of icebergs too?

“Walking on a little farther, I stood on the little bridge over the Freswick burn, with the fine sections I have come in search of, in all their glory. The burn was in flood, rushing down towards the sea. It washed the base of the section. There was no mode of getting near it, hut through the water.

“Darest thou, Cassius, now
Leap in with me into this angry flood,
And swim to yonder point?’

Ha! na! Like the Duke o’ Buccleuch, we can neither ‘flee nor soom!' and as for sinking, like Csesar, I find it good stiff clay at the bottom, and just liurdie deep. So in I go, and wade along the base of the section, though indeed the rush of the snow water was very cold at first: and now ‘ we get auld stanes in store.’

“Well, I found a considerable variety of stones in the clay section; and they were all rubbed, or grooved, or scratched. I found pieces of flint, and rubbed pieces of chalk. I found granite, quartz, greenstone, and the ordinary clay slate of the county. I saw very large boulders. Broken shells were very abundant. I found a small fragment of broken Belemnite !4 I am quite sure of it. It is a piece split down the middle, exhibiting a vertical section and two end sections. I give you a sketch of it [a drawing given]. Now, surely this is a most important fact; and it is elicited and brought to light through your own request to me to make these examinations.

“Look at the map. There is a long stretch of country between Harpsdale and Freswick, and yet both contain fossils of the Oolite, chalk and flint, and a great variety of stones common to both. Nor must you suppose that a hundredth part has yet been found. No, no! What avails a hasty journey of mine ? Comparatively nothing.

“I looked for my big bone of the first journey, intending to send it up to Edinburgh. But it was gone, as I half expected it to be. It has been swept into a deep pool, perhaps carried out to sea. To the best of my skill this section is stratified, and is a mixture of blue and red boulder clay, with the red predominating.

“After satisfying my curiosity at this section (from twenty to twenty-four feet in height), I left it and went to examine the strata and section at the small bridge. I found that the strata, when wet, looked blood-red; and the clay resting on it dark blue. The rest of the section seemed to be a mixture of red and blue boulder clay, containing broken shells. I have a piece of the clay and the strata in contact, for the purpose of sending to you at Edinburgh.

“Observing a small stream joining the main burn, I turned into it; and found that here too, blue boulder clay lay thicker than the stream had yet cut down to. Shells of Cyprina and Turritella were very abundant. I traced the stream up until it seemed to terminate in a shallow ditch. Becrossing, in a direct line, to the burn that I had left, I paused on one of the rising mounds of boulder clay—heath-clad and fern-decked—and looked around me. I endeavoured to grasp, at one glance, the extent and the amount of the formation. It was too much. The organic remains that the mass contained are immense. Arithmetic is powerful; but it fails here: it can give no idea of the tons of clay, boulders, stones, and shells, that have been deposited throughout the extent of country that lies between here and Dunnet Bay! ”

In a future letter to Hugh Miller, Dick gives the conclusion of his journey to Freswick. He begins :—

“The whole universe is set to music! It is harmonious. There is, in truth, no jarring, no discord! Hone whatever! And when man thinks that he discovers a want of harmony, the fault is in himself. It is he that is out of tune, and not Nature—not the Creator of the universe.

“Here is a magnificent amphitheatre of heather1 One must turn round, and again round, to take in the beauty of the whole. What a marvellous extent of boulder clay formation! I crossed and recrossed the heath-adorned mounds, and I saw that the stony clay was not confined to a mere central strip in the vicinity of the Mossy Burn. It extends to a great distance on either side of it. Marking the scenery very attentively, I could come to no other conclusion, than that when the clay on which I stood was laid down, the whole of the country was occupied by a sea, wave tumbling upon wave!

“It is just possible for a human being to dig into these sections of boulder clay, and think nothing about them. He is contented to find clay, stones, shells, and sea-sand, far inland. He never agitates his noddle about them. There they are! It’s ‘all right! ’ What is it to him how these things came there!

“And even when he begins to reflect—when he tries to ascertain how shells, and sand, and clay are found so far inland, how far does he get, and where does he end ? After inquiring, and thinking, and guessing about these wonders,—he finds he is no nearer the truth than when he began:

"Well did’st thou say, Athena’s wisest son,
The most we know is, nothing can be known.’

“And yet, despite the wisdom of the Greek, Dr. Beattie holds that our Creator has permitted us to know just a very little; and the sagacious Dr. P^W that what we do not know, need not disturb in what we do know. Though Berkeley

that we cannot be sure of anything—that my such thing as matter or material bodies,—yet our people do not usually run their head against a post, under the idea that all that they see is an illusion.

“Here, for instance, in Caithness, are vast accumulations of what we call Clay. On examination, we find it composed of many different ingredients. We perceive it to be a body,—unique, distinct, and totally different, as a whole, from every other. Creation holds nothing similar. Slate rocks, ground down, seem its main constituent, mixed with sand. Here and there we find * fine braw troggin frae the banks o’ Dee/ or from the plains of Sweden, in the shape of chalk and flint. There, detached fragments of Morven, and the mountains of Sutherland! Yonder, broken Belemnites from the Hebrides! There, red sandstone fragments from Dunnet Head or Duncansby! Shells raked up from the bottom of the ocean! Lime encrusted with pebbles from sea caves! Eolled corallines and fresh water marl! In fact, a hundred years of scrutiny will not exhaust its wonders. These are the facts, which tell of some great catastrophe in the illusory world’s history!

“What is that History ? What is the History of even one of its rolled pebbles ?5 or of its white or blue stones ? No one can tell. And yet, if we glance at them for a moment, one or two little truths can be learnt:

“First;—those white or blue stones were once soft, and formed part of a much larger mass.

“Second;—they were detached from their parent beds, and tossed to and fro, and thus became irregularly rounded.

“Third;—they then enjoyed a period of repose, during which some of them became tinged with oxide of iron.

“Fourth;—they were once more in motion. The abrading time came. The stupendous catastrophe occurred, which drove them along to a new abode, and during this period they suffered a diminution of their surface.

“Is it necessary to say more? I state facts. Let others theorise.

“Many persons attribute the changes which have occurred on the face of the earth, to Time. But what is Time without his instruments? Bain, frost, hail, snow, ice—these are his instruments. With these he rends and brings down the mighty rocks—even the eternal hills. The Sea also is his—one of his most efficient workers.

“A mighty mass of water must once have covered the Sutherland mountains, and rolled down from them ponderous boulders, tossing them about like playthings, and throwing them far and near over Caithness. Thus, a great boulder from Morven lies at Weydale, not far from Thurso. Another lies at Slater’s obelisk, on Holborn Head. In short, I cannot tell how many more there are.

“But one thing seems evident. The boulder stones owe their removal to the same causes which laid down the blue boulder clay. They lie on its surface; some of them are embedded in its uppermost tier; others are near the bottom.

“But a truce! I am still standing by the Freswick Burn, and must trace it up before I set out homewards. Well, I trace up the burn. I pass section after section, finding more broken shells than I can gather. There are numerous rolled white pebbles. Within a bowshot I could have filled a cart with them. And every one now in the bum was once in the boulder clay. I traced up the burn until it ended in a marsh, at the foot of a gently rising eminence. I reached the south end of Loch Scister, and then passed homewards.

“I hope to make four other journeys to different parts of the county; but I do not intend to weary you with such long palavers.”

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