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Chapter 9
Far in the lane a lonely hut he found,
No tenant ventured on the unwholesome ground:
Here smokes his forge, he bares his sinewy arm,
And early strokes the sounding anvil warm;
Around his shop the steely sparkles flew,
As for the steed he shaped the bending shoe.
As it was deemed proper by the traveller himself, as well as by Giles Gosling, that
Tressilian should avoid being seen in the neighbourhood of Cumnor by those whom
accident might make early risers, the landlord had given him a route, consisting of
various byways and lanes, which he was to follow in succession, and which, all the
turns and short-cuts duly observed, was to conduct him to the public road to
But, like counsel of every other kind, this species of direction is much more easily given
than followed; and what betwixt the intricacy of the way, the darkness of the night,
Tressilian's ignorance of the country, and the sad and perplexing thoughts with which he
had to contend, his journey proceeded so slowly, that morning found him only in the
vale of Whitehorse, memorable for the defeat of the Danes in former days, with his
horse deprived of a fore-foot shoe, an accident which threatened to put a stop to his
journey by laming the animal. The residence of a smith was his first object of inquiry, in
which he received little satisfaction from the dullness or sullenness of one or two
peasants, early bound for their labour, who gave brief and indifferent answers to his
questions on the subject. Anxious, at length, that the partner of his journey should suffer
as little as possible from the unfortunate accident, Tressilian dismounted, and led his
horse in the direction of a little hamlet, where he hoped either to find or hear tidings of
such an artificer as he now wanted. Through a deep and muddy lane, he at length
waded on to the place, which proved only an assemblage of five or six miserable huts,
about the doors of which one or two persons, whose appearance seemed as rude as
that of their dwellings, were beginning the toils of the day. One cottage, however,
seemed of rather superior aspect, and the old dame, who was sweeping her threshold,
appeared something less rude than her neighbours. To her Tressilian addressed the oft-
repeated question, whether there was a smith in this neighbourhood, or any place
where he could refresh his horse? The dame looked him in the face with a peculiar
expression as she replied, "Smith! ay, truly is there a smith--what wouldst ha' wi' un,
"To shoe my horse, good dame," answered Tressiliany: you may see that he has thrown
a fore-foot shoe."