The Kirk Spook and more

The Kirk Spook and more

by E G Swain

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Before many years have passed it will be hard to find a person who has
ever seen a parish clerk.

The parish clerk is all but extinct. Our grandfathers knew him well--
an oldish, clean-shaven man, who looked as if he had never been young,
who dressed in rusty black, bestowed upon him, as often as not, by the
rector, and who usually wore a white tie on Sundays, out of respect
for the seriousness of his office. He it was who laid out the rector's
robes, and helped him to put them on; who found the places in the
large Bible and Prayer Book, and indicated them by means of decorous
silken book-markers; who lighted and snuffed the candles in the pulpit
and desk, and attended to the little stove in the squire's pew; who
ran busily about, in short, during the quarter-hour which preceded
Divine Service, doing a hundred little things, with all the activity,
and much of the appearance, of a beetle.

Just such a one was Caleb Dean, who was clerk of Stoneground in the
days of William IV.

Small in stature, he possessed a voice which Nature seemed to have
meant for a giant, and in the discharge of his duties he had a dignity
of manner disproportionate even to his voice. No one was afraid to
sing when he led the Psalm, so certain was it that no other voice
could be noticed, and the gracious condescension with which he
received his meagre fees would have been ample acknowledgement of
double their amount.

Man, however, cannot live by dignity alone, and Caleb was glad enough
to be sexton as well as clerk, and to undertake any other duties by
which he might add to his modest income. He kept the churchyard tidy,
trimmed the lamps, chimed the bells, taught the choir their simple
tunes, turned the barrel of the organ, and managed the stoves.

It was this last duty in particular, which took him into church 'last
thing', as he used to call it, on Saturday night. There were people in
those days, and may be some in these, whom nothing would induce to
enter a church at midnight; Caleb, however, was so much at home there
that all hours were alike to him. He was never an early man on
Saturdays. His wife, who insisted upon sitting up for him, would often
knit her way into Sunday before he appeared, and even then would find
it hard to get him to bed. Caleb, in fact, when off duty, was a genial
little fellow; he had many friends, and on Saturday evenings he knew
where to find them.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013762084
Publisher: WDS Publishing
Publication date: 01/15/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 20 KB

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