Monthly Archives: March 2016

30 th March 2016

30 March

£10 in the draw! Are you sure it isn’t your Lucky Day? Well, it was lucky in 1856 when the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Crimean War, and in 1939, Detective Comics #27 was released, introducing Batman. Finally in 1964, Jeopardy!, hosted by Art Fleming began.

A wonderful day for famous birthdays! Anna Sewell, English author (Black Beauty), born 1820, Vincent van Gogh, Dutch-French painter and illustrator, born 1853, Warren Beatty, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter, born 1937, Eric Clapton, English guitarist and singer-songwriter, born 1945, MC Hammer, American rapper and actor, born 1962, Tracy Chapman, American singer-songwriter and guitarist, 1964, Piers Morgan, English journalist and talk show host, born 1965 and Celine Dion, Canadian singer-songwriter, born 1968.

So many to choose from! I was thinking of dedicating the day to Piers and one of his infamous quotes such as “Most of the men that sue in Hollywood are all about 5′ 2. They wake up every day, know they’re tiny and feel very angry about it, so they go out and sue people.”  Or “I never realised how endlessly entertaining Twitter would turn out to be. Oh, the joy when I realised you could tweet Manchester United stars personally, ridiculing them for everything from their dodgy haircuts to offensive swimwear. And even more delicious when they began firing back like enraged Rambos on acid.”

But instead we are going with Tracy Chapman!

“We all must live our lives always feeling, always thinking the moment has arrived.”
“We have more media than ever and more technology in our lives. It’s supposed to help us communicate, but it has the opposite effect of isolating us.”

Have a wonderful day my friend!


Smoke and Mirrors Day – 29th Mar, 2016 | Days Of The Year

Deceit! Deception! Celebrate these and all other types of trickery with Smoke And Mirrors Day, the festival dedicated to the art of fraudulent cunning.The phrase “It’s all smoke and mirrors’ refers to the way in which magicians use all manner of distraction to make sure the audience fails to see what’s really going on. The more complex the artifice, the more successfully the magician will get away with it. The most obvious example of smoke and mirrors is ‘Legalese’, that incredibly convoluted language that lawyers use to make sure that no-one else understands what’s happening. Politicians have been known to try that sort of thing too.How best to celebrate this auspicious day? Go back to its roots! Try a bit of magic. There are lots of easy magic tricks that will amaze your friends. Or, just see how quickly you can make a piece of cake disappear!

Source: Smoke and Mirrors Day – 29th Mar, 2016 | Days Of The Year

Niagara Falls Runs Dry Day – 29th Mar, 2016 | Days Of The Year

On March 29th, 1848, ice blockages caused rivers to run dry, and reduced the flow of water to such an extent that Niagara Falls’ 3,160 tons of water per second flow came to a halt. Locals celebrate with Niagara Falls Runs Dry Day, and with plenty of great hotels in the area, it’s not hard to come celebrate with them!

Source: Niagara Falls Runs Dry Day – 29th Mar, 2016 | Days Of The Year



National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day - March 29


Lemon Chiffon Cake Day is observed annually on March 29th.

For a nice refreshing spring dessert, chiffon cake is a very light cake made with vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder and flavorings.  A fluffy texture is made by beating egg whites until stiff and folding them into the cake batter before baking.  Chiffon cakes tend to be lower in saturated fat than butter cakes, potentially making them healthier than their butter-heavy counterparts.

The recipe for the chiffon cake was a closely guarded secret for years.  In the 1920s angel food cake was quite popular, but Henry Baker thought he could make a lighter, richer cake. The insurance salesman turned caterer tinkered with ingredients until in 1927 he came upon the perfect combination of ingredients and methods to produce the airy richness he was looking for.  

Keeping the recipe to himself, he offered his services to the Brown Derby Restaurant in Los Angeles which catered to Hollywood’s elite.  Until 1947, Baker was the only person to bake chiffon cakes.  Then he sold the recipe to General Mills for an undisclosed amount and the rest is baking history.


Here are a few chiffon cake recipes:

Use #LemonChiffonCakeDay to post on social media.

Today In History

This Day in History

  • 2013 36 were killed when a 16-floor building collapsed in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
  • 2012 Died: Luke Askew, American actor, best known for the role in Easy Rider. He appeared in many Westerns and played a lead role in spaghetti Western Night of the Serpent.
  • 2010 Two female suicide bombers hit the Moscow Metro system in the morning rush hour. 40 were killed.
  • 2004 Estonia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia joined NATO as full members.
  • 1999 An earthquake magnitude 6.8 stroke the Chamoli district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. 103 were killed.
  • 1982 Died: Carl Orff, German composer, best known for cantata Carmina Burana.
  • 1974 The Terracotta Army was discovered by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi’an, Sghaanxi province, China. The Terracotta Army was buried with Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China.
  • 1970 Died: Anna Louise Strong, American journalist and activist, best know for her support and reporting on communist movements in the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.
  • 1968 Born: Lucy Lawless, New Zealand actress and singer, best known for the role as Xena in internationally successful television series Xena: Warrior Princess.
  • 1962 The president of Argentina, Arturo Frondizi, was overthrown in a military revolt by Argentina’s armed forces. This ended an eleven and half day of constitutional crisis in the country.
  • 1957 Born: Christopher Lambert, American-French actor, best known for the role as Connor MacLeod in the movie and franchise Connor MacLeod and for roles in Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Mortal Kombat, Beowulf, Gideon.
  • 1952 Born: John Hendricks, American businessman, founder of Discovery Communications, that started operation as a single Discovery Channel.
  • 1948 Died: Harry Price, English author and psychic researcher, gained prominence for his investigations of the purportedly haunted Borley Rectory in Essex, England, and for exposing of fake spiritualism.
  • 1942 Born: Scott Wilson, American actor, best known for the roles in films The Ninth Configuration, The Right Stuff, Judge Dredd, Pearl Harbor, The Last Samurai.
  • 1942 Royal Air Force attacked the city of Lübeck and caused severe damage to the historic center with bombs. This attack is known as the first major success for the RAF Bomber Command against German city.
  • 1941 Born: Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr., American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate for discovery of a new type of pulsar, that opened new possibilities for the study of gravitation.
  • 1936 Adolf Hitler received 99% of the votes in a referendum to ratify Germany’s illegal reoccupation of the Rhineland.
  • 1927 Born: John Vane, English pharmacologist and academic, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine laureate. He also played an instrumental role in understanding how aspirin produces pain-relief effect. His work led to discovery of new treatments for heart and blood vessels.
  • 1918 Born: Sam Walton, American businessman, founder of Walmart, an American multinational retail corporation.
  • 1912 Died: Robert Falcon Scott, English lieutenant and explorer, the commander of the Terra Nova Expedition to Antarctica.
  • 1912 Died: Edward Adrian Wilson, English physician and explorer, member of Terra Nova Expedition to Antarctica.
  • 1902 Born: William Walton, English composer, known for his music in several classical genres and styles. He wrote music from film scores to operas. His best-known works include Façade, the cantata Belshazzar’s Feast, the Viola Concerto and the First Symphony.
  • 1901 Born: Andrija Maurović, Croatian comic book author and illustrator, often called the father of Yugoslav and Croatian comics.
  • 1891 Died: Georges Seurat, French Post-Impressionist painter and draftsman, best known for innovative usage of drawing media. His painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is one of the icons of late 19th century.
  • 1886 The first batch of Coca-Cola was brewed by dr. John Pemberton in a backyard in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • 1826 Died: Johann Heinrich Voss, German poet and classicist, best known for translation of Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad into German.
  • 1790 Born: John Tyler, American lawyer and politician, the 10th President of the United States.
  • 1772 Died: Emanuel Swedenborg, Swedish astronomer, philosopher and theologian, best known for the book on the afterlife Heaven and Hell.
  • 1697 Died: Nicolaus Bruhns, Danish-German organist, violinist, and composer, one of the most prominent composers and organists of his generation.
  • 1461 Edward of York defeated Queen Margaret in the Battle of Towton and became King Edward IV of England.

March 29, 2016

Holidays Calendar for March 29, 2016

March 29 is a public holiday in the Republic of Madagascar known asMartyrs’ Day. It honors the memory of those who died in the Malagasy Uprising that started on March 29, 1947.

March 29 is a public holiday in the Central African Republic known as Boganda Day. It marks the death anniversary of Barthélemy Boganda, the first Prime Minister of the Central African Republic autonomous territory who is considered the hero and father of his nation.

On March 29, the Republic of China (commonly referred to as Taiwan) celebrates Youth Day. This holiday commemorates the victims of the Second Guangzhou uprising, also known as the Yellow Flower Mound revolt.

Chiffon cakes come in different flavors: orange, chocolate, maple syrup, walnut and today’s reason to celebrate – lemon. March 29 is National Lemon Chiffon Cake!

Day of the Young Combatant (Día del joven combatiente) is a non-official remembrance day annually observed on March 29 in Chile. It is the death anniversary of the brothers Eduardo and Rafael Vergara Toledo.


Tuesday, 29 March 201629 March£10 in the draw! Is it your Lucky Day? It was a lucky day in 1549 when the city of Salvador da Bahia, the first capital of Brazil, was founded and in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall was opened by Queen Victoria. Finally, in 1886, Dr. John Pemberton brewed the first batch of Coca-Cola in a backyard in Atlanta.Famous people born on this day include Eric Idle, English actor and singer, born 1943, Michael Winterbottom, English director and producer, born 1961, and Elle Macpherson, Australian model and actress, born 1964. The day has to be dedicated to Eric Idle, if only for ‘Always look on the bright side of life’! Take it away Eric!

Some things in life are bad

They can really make you mad

Other things just make you swear and curse.

When you’re chewing on life’s gristle

Don’t grumble, give a whistle

And this’ll help things turn out for the best..

.Always look on the bright side of life…

Always look on the light side of life…


A.Word.A.Day –apricity


with Anu Garg




noun: Warmth of the sun; basking in the sun.


From Latin apricari (to bask in the sun). Earliest documented use: 1623.


“As he stood in the sunshine, apricity began to cover him like a wool sweater.”
Ryan Patrick Sullivan; Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow; Trafford; 2014.



Kindness is always fashionable. -Amelia Barr, novelist (29 Mar 1831-1919)

Source: A.Word.A.Day –apricity

Black Knight Pageant), Ashton-under-Lyne

Riding The Black Lad (Black Knight Pageant), Ashton-under-Lyne

In 1911, the following description of this ancient Ashton custom appeared in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. ‘The ceremony of ‘riding the Black Lad,’ still to some extent kept up, was performed on Easter Monday; the effigy of a knight in black armour was paraded through the streets on horseback in derision, afterwards hung up on the old market cross and used as a target, being finally plunged in a stagnant pool. There are contradictory accounts of the origin and intention of the ceremony.’

The Black Knight is a representation of the cruel Sir Ralph de Assheton (Born 1421– Died 1486) of Ashton Hall (half brother of the alchemist Sir Thomas de Assheton (Born 1403)) and the festival a celebration of his death, when he was shot y a relative on Easter Sunday.

The Riding of the Black Lad dates back at least as far as the 18th century though today’s incarnation is somewhat different. In 1909 it became the Black Knight Pageant and took place at either Easter or September. Here a man dressed as Sir Ralph would ride through Ashton-under-Line with a Pageant Queen. In 1954 it stopped. A revival of the Black Knight since 1995 sees Sir Ralph as the part of Ashton’s carnival.

The following earlier description of this tradition appears in ‘Traditions Of Lancashire’ (1872) by John Roby. ‘Sir John Assheton, the founder of the church, is the reputed father of Ralph, whom the following tradition commemorates. The origin of “Riding the Black Lad” is involved in great obscurity—some ascribing it to the tyranny of Sir Ralph, and others to the following circumstance, which may have been fabricated merely to throw off the odium attached to his name:—In the reign of Edward III., one Thomas Assheton fought under Queen Philippa in the battle of Neville’s Cross. Riding through the ranks of the enemy, he bore away the royal standard from the Scotch King’s tent, who himself was afterwards taken prisoner. King Edward, on his return from France, conferred on Thomas the honour of knighthood, with the title of Sir Thomas Assheton of Ashton-under-Line. To commemorate this singular display of valour, he instituted the custom of “Riding the Black Lad” upon Easter Monday at Ashton; leaving the sum of ten shillings yearly to support it, together with his own suit of black velvet and a coat of mail. Which of these accounts is correct we cannot presume to determine. There is, however, sufficient testimony upon record to account for the dislike entertained towards the memory of Sir Ralph Assheton.

In the town of Ashton-under-Line, or Lime, called in the ancient rent-rolls Ashton-sub-Lima, a singular custom prevails. On Easter Monday in every year, the ceremony of “Riding the Black Lad” takes place. According to some, it is a popular expression of abhorrence towards the memory of Sir Ralph Assheton, commonly called The Black Knight, whose character and conduct would seem to warrant the odium thus attached to his name. The following is a brief account of the ceremony;—An effigy is made of a man in black armour, and this image is deridingly emblazoned with some emblem of the occupation of the first couple that are married in the course of the year. The Black Boy is then fixed on horseback, and after being led in procession round the town, is dismounted, made to supply the place of a shooting-butt, and all sorts of fire-arms being in requisition for the occasion, he is put to an ignominious death. Five shillings per annum are reserved from some neighbouring estate for the perpetuation of this absurd custom.

Sir Ralph Assheton was sheriff of York in the reign of Edward IV., and knight marshal and lieutenant of the Tower under Richard III., being in great esteem with the latter monarch. In the Harleian MSS. annuities are mentioned as being granted to him, with divers lordships, and a tun of wine yearly. So powerful was his jurisdiction, that a grant was made him to the effect, that if in cases of emergency suitable persons could not be procured for the trial of delinquents, his own authority should be a sufficient warrant for the purpose. Hence, from the nature of his office, and the powers that were intrusted to him by the king, and probably too from the natural bent of his disposition, arose the popular dislike which vented itself in the well-known traditionary distich we have taken as our motto.

In those days, when the gentry went little from home, set times of mirth and recreation were constantly observed in their spacious and hospitable mansions. Yule, or Christmas, was a feast of especial note and observance. The great hall was mostly the scene of these boisterous festivities; where, from the gallery, the lord of the mansion and his family might witness the sports, without being incommoded by the uncouth and rustic manners of their guests. It was the custom to invite all who were in any way dependent on the proprietor, and who owed him suit and service.

The mansion of Sir Ralph had, like those of the neighbouring gentry, its lofty and capacious hall. At one end was a gallery resting on the heads of three or four gigantic figures carved in oak, perhaps originally intended as rude representations of the ancient Caryatides.

The Christmas but one following the elevation of Richard to the throne, in the year of our redemption 1483, was a season of unusual severity. Many tenants of Sir Ralph were prevented from assembling at the Yule feast. A storm had rendered the roads almost impassable, keeping most of the aged and infirm from sharing in this glorious pastime.

The Yule-log was larger than ever, and the blaze kept continually on the roar. No ordinary scale of consumption could withstand the attacks of the enemy, and thaw the icicles from his beard.

The wassail-bowl had gone freely about, and the company—Hobbe Adamson, Hobbe of the Leghes, William the Arrowsmith, Jack the Woodman, Jack the Hind, John the Slater, Roger the Baxter, with many others, together with divers widows of those who owed service to their lord, clad in their holiday costume—black hoods and brown jackets and petticoats—were all intent upon their pastimes, well charged with fun and frolic. Their mirth was, however, generally kept within the bounds of decency and moderation by a personage of great importance, called the Lord of Misrule, who, though not intolerant of a few coarse and practical jokes upon occasion, was yet, in some measure, bound to preserve order and decorum on pain of being degraded from his office. To punish the refractory, a pair of stone hand-stocks was commonly used, having digit-holes for every size, from the paws of the ploughman to the taper fingers of my lady’s maiden. This instrument was in the especial keeping of the dread marshal of these festivities.

The custom of heriotship, or a fine payable on the death of the landholder to the feudal lord, was then in most cases rigorously exacted. This claim fell with great severity upon widows in poor circumstances, who were, in too many instances, thus deprived of their only means of subsistence. Then came fees and fines to the holy Church, so that the bereaved and disconsolate creature had need to wish herself in the dark dwelling beside her husband. Sir David Lindsay may not be unaptly quoted in illustration of this subject. His poem called “The Monarch” contains the following frightful picture of the exactions and enormities committed on these defenceless and unoffending victims of their rapacity:—

“And also the vicar, as I trow,
Will not fail to take a cow,
And uppermost cloths, though babes them an,
From a poor seely husbandman,
When he lyes ready to dy,
Having small children two or three,
And his three kine withouten mo,—
The vicar must have one of tho,
With the gray cloke that covers the bed,
Howbeit that they be poorly cled;
And if the wife die on the morn,
And all the babes should be forlorn,
The other cow he takes away,
With her poor cote and petycote gray:
And if within two days or three
The eldest child shall happen to dy,
Of the third cow he shall be sure,
When he hath under his cure;
And father and mother both dead be,
Beg must the babes without remedy.
They hold the corse at the church style,
And thare it must remain awhile,
Till they get sufficient surety
For the church right and duty.
Then comes the landlord perforce,
And takes to him the fattest horse;
Poor labourers would that law were down,
Which never was founded by reason.
I heard them say, under confession,
That this law was brother to oppression.”

As it drew on towards eventide, the mirth increased. The rude legendary ballads of Sir Lancelot of the Lake, Beavois of Southampton, Robin Hood, The Pindar of Wakefield, and the Friar of Fountain’s Abbey, Clim of the Clough, Ranulph of Chester, his Exploits in the Holy Land, together with the wondrous deeds of war and love performed by Sir Roger of Calverly, had been sung and recited to strange and uncouth music. Carols, too, were chanted between whiles in a most unreverend fashion. A huge Christmas pie, made in the shape of a cratch or cradle, was placed on the board. This being accounted a great test of orthodoxy, every one was obliged to eat a slice, lest he should be suspected of favouring the heretical tenets then spreading widely throughout the land. Blind-man’s-buff and hot-cockles had each their turn; but the sport that seemed to afford the most merriment was a pendulous stick having an apple at one end, and on the other a lighted candle, so that the unfortunate and liquorish wight who bit at this tempting bait generally burnt his nose on the rebound, as the stick bounced to and fro on its pivot. The hall was now cleared for the masks. In this play, the Black Knight himself generally joined, laughing heartily at and hurrying on the mis-haps of the revellers. Many horrible and grotesque-looking shapes and disguises soon made their appearance; but one, more especially than the rest, excited no slight degree of distress and alarm. His antics proved a continual source of annoyance to the rest of the company. He singed Will the Arrowsmith’s beard, poured a whole flagon of hot liquor in the wide hosen of Hobbe Adamson; but the enactor of St George in a more especial manner attracted his notice; he crept between his legs, and bore him right into the middle of the pig-sty, before he could be stayed; from whence the heroic champion of England issued, sorely shent with the admixtures and impurities of the place.


This termagant was a little broad-set figure wearing a mask, intended as a representation of his Satanic majesty, adorned with a huge pair of horns. From it hung a black cloak or shirt, out of which protruded a goodly and substantial tail. No one could discover this ruthless disturber of their sports. Every attempt was unavailing; he shot through their fingers as though they had been greased, and a loud and contumelious laugh was the only reward of their exertions.

In the end, a shrewd conjecture went abroad that he was none other than some malicious imp of darkness let loose upon their frolics, to disquiet and perplex their commemoration of the Blessed Nativity. Yet was it an unusual occurrence upon Yule night, when these disturbers were supposed to be prevented from walking the earth, being confined for a space to their own kingdom. But the desperate character of their lord, who was thought to fear neither man nor devil, might in some sort account for this unwelcome intrusion.

The guests grew cautious. Whispers and unquiet looks went round, while the little devil would ever and anon frisk about, to the great detriment and dismay of his companions.

Their lord’s presence was anxiously looked for. The ruddy glow of their mirth had become dim. Sir Ralph, they hoped, would either unmask this mischievous intruder, or eject him from the premises; he having the credit of being able to master aught in the shape of either mortal or immortal intelligences.

At length he came, clad in his usual suit of black velvet. A swarthy and ill-favoured wight he was, with a beard, as the story goes, that would have swept off the prickly gorse-bush in its progress. He was received with a great show of humility, and all made their best obeisance. But this deputy, representative, or vicegerent of “Old Hornie,” he stood erect, among the obsequious guests, in a posture not at all either respectful or becoming.

“Now, knaves, to your sport. Ye be as doleful as a pack of pedlars with a full basket after the fair. I’ll make ye play, and be merry too; or, e’ lady, ye shall taste of the mittens. Dan, give these grim-faced varlets a twinge of the gloves there just to make ’em laugh.”

His tyrannous and overbearing temper would even make them merry by compulsion. But the terrified hearers did not manifest that intense feeling of gratification which this threat was intended to produce. Each looked on the face of his neighbour, hoping to find there some indication of the felicity which his own had failed to exhibit.

The countenance of their chief grew more dark and portentous. Just as they were expecting the full burst of his fury, up trotted the merry imp, and irreverently crept behind Sir Ralph. Before their almost incredulous eyes did he lay hold on the tail of the knight’s cloak, and twisting it round his arm, by a sudden jerk he brought this dignified personage backwards upon the floor. The oaken beams trembled at this unlooked-for invasion of their repose. Deep, deadly, and abominable curses, rang through the hall. Livid and ghastly by turns, the knight’s features wore that ludicrous expression of rage and astonishment more easy to conceive than to portray. Volleys of oaths and inarticulate sounds burst out from his wrath, almost too big for utterance. When reinstated in that posture which is the distinctive characteristic of man, he did not attempt to administer his vindictive retribution by proxy. Laying hold on a tough cudgel, he gave it one ominous swing, describing an arc of sufficient magnitude to have laid an army prostrate. He then pursued the luckless emissary of the Evil One, roaring and foaming with this unusual exertion. There was now no lack of activity. A hawk among the chickens, or a fox in a farm-yard, were nothing to it. Sometimes was seen the doughty Sir Ralph driving the whole herd before him like a flock of sheep; but the original cause of the mischief generally contrived to mingle with the rabble rout, who in vain attempted to rid themselves of his company. The knight was not over-nice in the just administration of his discipline. Often, when he thought himself near enough for its accomplishment, he aimed a terrific blow, but shot wide of the mark, bringing down the innocent and unoffending victims, who strewed the floor like swaths behind the mower. Whenever a lucky individual could disentangle himself from his comrades, he darted through the door, and in spite of the storm and pitchy darkness without, thought himself too happy in escaping with a few holes in his skin. Yet he of the horns and tail, by some chance or another, always passed unhurt; a hideous laugh accompanying the adroit contrivances by which he eluded the cudgel.

The hall was now but scantily supplied with guests; the runaways and wounded having diminished the numbers to some half-score. A parley was now sounded by the victorious and pursuing enemy.

“Hold, ye lubberly rascals! Ye scum—ye recrement—why do ye run?” said the knight, puffing with great vigour. “I say, why run ye!” brandishing his club. “Bring hither that limb of Satan, and ye shall depart every one to his home. Lay hold of him, I tell ye, and begone.”

But these terms of capitulation were by no means so easy to accept as the proposer imagined.

The first mover of the mischief had gotten himself perched on a projecting ledge by the gallery, from whence they were either unable or unwilling to dislodge him.

“How!” said the knight. “Ye are afraid, cowards, I trow. Now will I have at thee, for once. I’ll spoil thy capering!” This threat was followed by a blow aimed at the devoted representative from the infernal court; but it failed to dismount him, for he merely shrunk aside, and it was rendered harmless. Another and a more contumelious laugh announced this failure. Even the Black Knight grew alarmed. The being was surely invulnerable. He stayed a moment ere he repeated the attack, when, to his unspeakable horror and astonishment, there issued a thin squeaking voice from underneath the disguise.

“The heriot, Sir Ralph—the heriot! We’ll have a heriot at Easter!”

Had a thunderbolt fallen at his feet, the knight could not have been more terrified. He let the weapon fall. His hands dropped powerless at his side. His countenance was like the darkly rolling sea, strangely tossed by some invisible tempest. The cause of this sudden and unexpected termination of the assault we will now proceed briefly to unfold.

The morning of this day, being the eve of the Blessed Nativity, had been employed by the Black Knight in the laudable occupation of visiting a poor widow; who, though recently bereaved of her husband, had not rendered the customary heriot. Unfortunately, the only valuable she possessed was a cow, the produce of which formed the chief support of the family; four young children, and a boy of about fourteen, whose brains were generally supposed more or less oddly constructed than those of his neighbours, depended on this supply for their daily support. Cold, bitter cold, was the season, and it had set in with more than common severity. Day after day the payment was delayed. Every morning the widow and her son fondled the poor beast, as though it were the last; but another morning and evening succeeded. Supper could not supply the place of breakfast, nor breakfast contend against the wants of supper; and how could the already half-famished ones be sustained, when their only resource should be taken away?

“Go down upon your knees, Will, and thank God for another morning’s meal. It is the eve of our blessed Lord’s incarnation, and I think He will not leave us to perish in this world, who has made such a bountiful provision for our well-being in the next. The knight has not sent for the heriot, and I think that He alone who succours the widow and the fatherless can have inclined his heart to mercy.”

Scarcely were the thanksgivings finished, when they were alarmed by the rapid approach of their persecutor. The door flew open, and in thundering accents the Black Knight himself came to make his demand.

“I’ll have thee to the dungeon, hag, for lack of service. How comes it to pass the heriot is not paid!”

The widow made no reply. Her heart was full.

“See to it,” continued the pitiless churl; “for if thy quittance be not forthcoming, and that in haste, I’ll turn thee and thy brats into the moor-dikes, where ye may live upon turf and ditch-water if it so please ye.”

“Oh, ha’ pity!” But the widow’s prayer was vain. The Black Knight was never known to hearken either to pity or persuasion.

“Thy cow—thy cow! This night let it be rendered. Sir Ralph Assheton never uttered a threat that fell to the ground.”

“Mother,” said the boy, “is this Sir Ralph, our liege lord?”

“Ay, fool,” angrily replied the knight. “And what may thy wits gather by the asking?”

“And will he ever die, mother?”

“Hush, Willy,” said the terrified woman.

“Nay,” returned the leering half-wit, “I was but a-thinking, that if he does, may be his master too will want a heriot.”

“And what may be the name of my master?” said Sir Ralph, with a furious oath.

“The devil,” replied the boy, with apparent unconcern.

“Ay,—and what will they give him, dost think?”


Whether the peculiar expression of the lad’s face, or the fearless indifference of his address, so unusual to that of the crouching slaves he generally met with, contributed to the result, we know not; but, instead of correcting the boy for his audacity, he hastily departed, finally repeating his threat of punishment in case of disobedience.

When Sir Ralph got home, his ill-humour vented itself with more severity than usual. On joining the sports, he was at the first somewhat startled, on perceiving a representation of the personage which the morning’s conversation had by no means prepared him to recognise either with admiration or respect. Still, as it was nothing out of the common usage, he took no apparent notice, farther than by remarking the general gloom that prevailed, contrary to the usual course of these festivities. Then came the unlooked-for aggression upon his person, provoking his already irritated feelings into vehement action. But, when the last unfortunate blow had failed in its purpose, appearing to the furious knight to have been warded off by a charm, a sudden misgiving came across him, which, with the speech of this supposed imp of darkness, so strangely alluding to his adventure with the boy, wrought powerfully upon his now excited imagination, so that he stood aghast, unable to grapple with its terrors. He hastily departed from the hall, leaving the enemy in undisputed possession of the field.

What occurred subsequently we are not told, save that on the following morning the widow’s heriot was sent back, with an ungracious message from the knight, showing his unwillingness to restore what terror only had wrung from him.

The person who adventured this dangerous personification of the Evil One was never known. Whether some bold and benevolent individual, interposing on behalf of the fatherless and famishing little ones, or some being of a less substantial nature,—whether one of those immortal intelligences of a middle order between earth and heaven, who at that time were supposed to take pleasure in tormenting the vicious and unworthy,—is more than our limited capacities can disclose.

It is said that on Easter Monday following the Black Knight died; and though probably it had no connection with the circumstances we have related, yet was his decease a sufficiently strange event in the mysterious chapter of coincidences to warrant this memorial.

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