Desperate Remedies HTML version
Fifteen months have passed, and we are brought on to Midsummer Night, 1867.
The picture presented is the interior of the old belfry of Carriford Church, at ten
o'clock in the evening.
Six Carriford men and one stranger are gathered there, beneath the light of a
flaring candle stuck on a piece of wood against the wall. The six Carriford men
are the well-known ringers of the fine-toned old bells in the key of F, which have
been music to the ears of Carriford parish and the outlying districts for the last
four hundred years. The stranger is an assistant, who has appeared from nobody
The six natives--in their shirt-sleeves, and without hats--pull and catch frantically
at the dancing bellropes, the locks of their hair waving in the breeze created by
their quick motions; the stranger, who has the treble bell, does likewise, but in his
right mind and coat. Their ever-changing shadows mingle on the wall in an
endless variety of kaleidoscopic forms, and the eyes of all the seven are
religiously fixed on a diagram like a large addition sum, which is chalked on the
Vividly contrasting with the yellow light of the candle upon the four unplastered
walls of the tower, and upon the faces and clothes of the men, is the scene
discernible through the screen beneath the tower archway. At the extremity of the
long mysterious avenue of the nave and chancel can be seen shafts of moonlight
streaming in at the east window of the church--blue, phosphoric, and ghostly.
A thorough renovation of the bell-ringing machinery and accessories had taken
place in anticipation of an interesting event. New ropes had been provided; every
bell had been carefully shifted from its carriage, and the pivots lubricated. Bright
red 'sallies' of woollen texture--soft to the hands and easily caught--glowed on
the ropes in place of the old ragged knots, all of which newness in small details
only rendered more evident the irrepressible aspect of age in the mass
The triple-bob-major was ended, and the ringers wiped their faces and rolled
down their shirt-sleeves, previously to tucking away the ropes and leaving the
place for the night.
'Piph--h--h--h! A good forty minutes,' said a man with a streaming face, and
blowing out his breath--one of the pair who had taken the tenor bell.
'Our friend here pulled proper well--that 'a did--seeing he's but a stranger,' said
Clerk Crickett, who had just resigned the second rope, and addressing the man
in the black coat.
''A did,' said the rest.
'I enjoyed it much,' said the man modestly.
'What we should ha' done without you words can't tell. The man that d'belong by
rights to that there bell is ill o' two gallons o' wold cider.'
'And now so's,' remarked the fifth ringer, as pertaining to the last allusion, 'we'll
finish this drop o' metheglin and cider, and every man home-along straight as a