Saturday, 1 September 2012

Quaking bog revisited

Okay, here's a snippet to follow on from yesterday's post about the quaking bog at Hatchmere.

I blogged back in February about Mam Blain, who was the inspiration for Mam Tunstall in my novel. Here she is telling Susan a poignant little story, the one I hinted at in yesterday's post:

Gradually, Mam Tunstall’s smile faded and she began to look wistful and sad. ‘There was a night I shall always remember. A Saturday, it was, and I’d got all the littl’uns off to bed. I was sitting over there where you are now, Susan lass, smoking my pipe. And there comes a rattling at the door latch. Well, I turned round and the door opened. Couldn’t see who was there. She didn’t show her face. Just pushed a basket through. So I upped and was for going after her, but I couldn’t. Cause in that basket there was a tiny little baby. A little boy new born.’
She paused, put another log on the fire and pulled the kettle across onto it. Then she continued. ‘I took that little baby and I cleaned him up and I tied off his cord. Fed him the cream off the milk but that’s not enough, you see. But there was a couple of lasses nursing their own so that was all for the best. Used to come here, both of them did and they helped me feed him. And we called him Tommy.’
‘Oh gosh, what a story. Did you ever find out who the mother was?’
‘Oh aye. The very next day. All the village knew it was young Emma. Fourteen years old, she was. And after she’d left her baby here where he’d be safe, she took herself round the back of Hartsmere. And she fell through the quakey bog and drownded. And you know, Susan lass, the parson wouldn’t have her in his churchyard. No, he says, she must lie outside the walls. Right, says I, then you’ll never see me the other side them walls ever again neither. Nor have I been.’

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