Here’s another story by Richard Blakeborough, published in the Whitby Gazette on May 5th, 1905. I’m not sure if they’re too long to share on this blog, but I’m really interested in them, especially the ones about places I know such as this one about Guisborough Moor where I can picture the landscapes1‘Tales Our Grandmothers Told. The Weird Mystery Of the Moor. A Guisborough Legend. By Richard Blakeborough. The Following Legend Is | Whitby Gazette | Friday 05 May 1905 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2023. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001103/19050505/187/0006> [accessed 2 August 2023].
Some of the characters talk in an old Cleveland dialect, and that can be hard to understand. For the trickier parts, I’ve tried to give a modern translation as footnotes while keeping the original meaning intact.
The weird mystery of the Moor.
A Guisborough Legend.
By RICHARD BLAKEBOROUGH.
The following legend is but the remnant of a story which, even fifty years ago, was in an advanced stage of decay, and, doubtless, as told to the writer (twenty odd years ago) suffered much from omission, owing to the age and disinclination of the writer to retell the story; possibly through long years he had forgotten much. He said he had not “tell’d onnyboddy for mair an’ tho’tty year,”2“told anybody for more than thirty years,” so that many incidents had escaped the teller’s memory, when the writer won from him what is here written.
The reader will at once perceive this is a good example of two stories welded together. The earlier one probably dated three or four hundred years ago, the latter not more than one-hundred-and-fifty years back. It is now printed because it is such a perfect example of the condition in which many of our dale legends are found at the present day, simply rotting for want of retelling. More than half of this legend, incomplete as it is, was wormed out by the most persevering, subtle and judicious questioning. It is interesting to know that somewhere in the twenties of the last century, the body of a man was discovered buried on the moor some considerable distance from the path leading from Guisborough to Commondale. The remains, gossip decided, were those of a well known character in his day, one, “Tommy the Pedlar.” My informant told me that when he was a young chap, it was always said that the murdered lady mentioned in the legend was one of the Bulmers of Wilton castle. Certainly some of the fair dames of that illustrious family were perhaps a trifle more than lively jades. Still, it is only fair to say that not the least jot of evidence is to be found in the support of such a theory. It may be added that with the exception of the narrator (old Lennard, of the Alms Houses), the writer never met with any other individual, young or old, who could afford the least help in unravelling the mystery. Unfortunately, Lennard was one of the worst subjects he had ever tackled. Should the writer be mistaken in his belief that the legend is lost, and should any reader of these legends, know the least bit of additional matter, the gratitude and thanks of the writer will be accorded to any reader who can will throw any further light upon the story.
AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY
A great many years ago—so runs the story—seven men and one woman, when crossing the moor from Commondale to Guisborough found the dead body of a lady lying quite near to the common trod. That she was a personage of high degree her garments testified, they being of the finest and richest description; her age and personal appearance could not be judged, as the crows and other carrion had already disfigured her face. They could not help but observe that, in whatever guise Death had overtaken her, he had only done so but a few days before the cares and duties of motherhood must have fallen to her lot. The body must have lain where they found it for a couple of days at least. It was, indeed, a sad sight and pointed to some mystery beyond the power of their solution. Before continuing their journey, the woman begged of the men to remove one of her skirts and give it to her saying “It’s a shame sike good duds should be left owther ti spoil or be rovven off biv t’ next lot at cam’ past.”3“It’s a shame that such nice clothes should be left to either get ruined or be torn off by the next group of people who came by.” But the men rightly decided, if she wanted a skirt, it was more a woman’s job to take it off than a man’s; she could take what she had a mind to, they promising to keep her secret. The temptation of that nature once yielded to is not easily satisfied. Not one but two skirts did the woman steal, as also a pair of very handsome silver buckled garters. These she strove to slip into her pocket unseen seen by anyone, but one of the company saw what she did, and told one other of the seven. He was however wrong in saying that he had seen her take a pair, one leg only was thus circled, the other being tied with a silver silken band only.
When the party arrived in Guisborough, their story soon spread, and several people having made full inquiries, set off immediately to view the body and bring it back with them. Two or three hours afterwards, back they came very indignant, as no dead body could they discover. When they in turn were questioned, it was quite certain they had passed the spot, and must have seen the corpse, if it had not been removed. These and others began to whisper the whole thing was a hoax—they had been sent on a wild goose chase. Some suggested ducking the whole party, women and all, in the abbey pond. So serious were they in their threats, that three of the seven offered to return with any who care to accompany them, and point out the exact spot. When these returned, they were compelled to admit that in some mysterious way the corpse had vanished. But unfortunately for their personal comfort, they bought back with them a finely worked lace tippet, which would only be worn by some lady of rank4A tippet is a piece of clothing worn over the shoulders in the shape of a scarf or cape.. It had been found hanging from a ling bush, some little distance from where the body was said to have lain. This discovery satisfied the most unbelieving, and quite a number of people at once decided to visit the spot in hope of making further discoveries. These very laudable intentions, however, were put to an end for the present, by the breaking overhead of a terrific thunderstorm. So loud was the thunder and so fierce, and brilliant, and incessant was the lightning, that some actually feared the Judgement Day was upon them. Never within the ken of the oldest Guisborean had such a storm been. Never had such blue and intense lighting been seen. Many a terrifying zig-zag flash, it was observed, shot out from behind Roseberry, arching its dreadful fork as far as Highcliffe. It was well on towards evening ere the torrent of rain which, since the first clap of thunder had poured down, ceased, and once again the sun shone forth. low down in the west, amidst broken and angry clouds, lighting up the still lowering sky with a splendour truly awful.
Viewed as it was by the superstitious of that day, the storm was considered to have some hidden connection with the memorable events of that day, and it assuredly pointed to an unerring finger to a dreadful murder having been committed on the moor. People now gathered together in groups and discussed the mystery, for the finding and subsequent disappearance of the body interested everybody, and various were the rumours set afloat, which, had they been but half of them true, would have fully explained everything twenty times over. It was something to talk about, and better than that, it was something to drink about, for Guisboreans of that date were not noted as a community for their sobriety.
In the event it was a half-drunken, half witted, lout who made the remark which set the more sober-minded ones thinking. Said he, “Ah ommaist wonder Tommy Stivvison nivver seed her, ya say sha mun a’e been liggin’ wheear sha war tweea ot three days, Ah aim he wad tumm’l across owther gahin’ or comin’. Eh! what d’ye folk think?”5“I almost wonder if Tommy Stevenson never saw her. You say she must have been lying where she was for two or three days. I believe he would have stumbled upon her either while going or coming. Oh! What do you folks think?”
The going and coming had reference to Tommy (who was a pedlar) making his journey between Castleton and Guisborough every week. It was then Friday night, and Tommy must have passed the very spot on Wednesday, towards evening, and again on Thursday night. Now, if the notion was correct, that the murdered woman had been a corpse less than two days, the body—so they reasoned—must have lain within sight on both occasions when he passed the spot, and so he could not have missed seeing it. Still, surely, if he had, he would have made such a fact known. Perhaps he had gone by some other path, suggested one. This was considered likely by those who knew the man. In the end they decided to wait until Tommy paid his usual visit, when doubtless, he would throw light upon much which was difficult of solution; but, when Wednesday arrived, no Tommy was forthcoming. Indeed, it was not until the week following that his arrival was hailed, with joy. So far, however, from affording them any information, he only deepened the mystery. Briefly, he had not deviated from his usual route, and he had not seen a dead body. He was absolutely positive, there was no dead woman, near the trod either as he went, or came back.
Now. if Tommy was speaking the truth—and there was not the least reason for doubting his word—it meant nothing more nor less than that, sometime after had passed on Wednesday afternoon, some person or persons had brought a partly-decomposed body, laid it near to the common pathway, only mysteriously to spirit it away again within twenty-four hours afterwards. Of course, Tommy had heard the story, for, by that time, it was in everyone’s mouth between Guisborough and Whitby. Various were the rumous, but not one of the many solutions was viewed with favour by the more thoughtful of the dale’s folk. So the pedlar went on his way, having made them not the wiser. On this particular Wednesday, Tommy did not arrive until much past his usual time, and then came not by way of Bellmonte Gate6Belmangate, but from the low end of the town. This alteration in his route, he explained was owing his increasing age, the weight of his pack having induced him get an ass, upon which his pack was then strapped. So, in future, he should not go the moor path, it not being not fit for an ass to travel. “But.” said one of the bystanders. “other folk gan wi ther’ asses that road.” Tommy said, “Mebbe they do, but, noo Ah’ve giten t’ ass, Ah can ’range a better round ’an gahin’ biv t’ moor.”7“But,” said one of the bystanders, “other people go with their asses that way.” Tommy said, “Maybe they do, but now that I’ve got the ass, I can arrange a better route than going by the moor.” And so the matter dropped, and no one thought anything more about the old chap’s new route. But stay, this statement is hardly correct. One of the group, named Robert lndson, did think further about it. He was a man not universally beloved; in fact, his past career was a wee bit shady—he was looked upon by most people as an evil-minded, ill-disposed man. One old dame had once told him to his face: “Thoo’s ez sharp ez a needle, Bobby—thoo’s ez slippery ez an eel, Bobby, an’ ez shameless ez tha mak’ ’em.”8“You’re as sharp as a needle, Bobby – you’re as slippery as an eel, Bobby, and as shameless as they make them.”
After Tommy’s departure, a month slipped by, and, as neither he nor anyone else added any new matter to keep alive curiosity, the mystery began starve for want of new food; it would have died natural death had not fresh interest been aroused by the arrival of two strangers. Both bestrode well-groomed and richly-caparisoned steeds. After dismounting and giving their steeds in charge of their attendants, they at once engaged a private room. and, to the landlord, made no secret of their visiting Guisborough. They wished to gain every scrap of information connected with the finding of the dead lady. Would the landlord send for the men who had seen the body when on their way home from Commondale? They wanted to see everyone who could throw the least light upon the matter. The landlord soon ushered the men into the presence of the two strangers, one a young gallant of the period, the other an aged priest. But no information worthy their lightest consideration could they obtain. The men could not give the least description her appearance or age, and they had idea how she had come by her death. The only points upon which they seemed have the least settled opinion upon was that she was a lady, and had dark brown hair, inclining to curl. When the gallant heard this, burst into tears, crying in heart-broken voice, “It was my darling Mattie, my Mattie, my poor darling!”
At this painful outburst of grief, one of the party suggested that the lace tippet might throw some light upon who the lady was. “Lace tippet!” exclaimed the young fellow, “why was this not mentioned before? Bring it at once.”
The finder was soon found, and, no sooner was the much-valued prize produced than, with agonised cry, “It is her’s; I shall never see my Mattie again,” he staggered, weak and helpless, from the room, supported by the priest. The good father presently returned, fully satisfying the finder the tippet for his loss of the bit of lace. The priest then inquired if they knew of any other article which had belonged to the dead lady. Observing a suspicious hesitation the part of several of them, he demanded, under severe pains and penalties, that they should confess at once, if there was yet anything they were keeping secret. Those amongst them who were Roman Catholic claimed forgiveness for the sin they had committed, permitting the woman Liza to rob the body. They then made a full confession, that Liza had stolen two of the lady’s underskirts. When Liza stood in the presence of the priest, though a Protestant, she quailed before the searching gaze of the indignant father. She admitted she had stolen the petticoats, but stoutly declared that she had long ago repented or what she had done, and, fearing to keep things in the house, had burnt them both, and cast the ashes to the winds. “Are you speaking the whole truth, Eliza?” questioned the priest. And Liza declared she was.
“Well, I trust it may be so. but if it that you leave presence with an unconfessed lie upon your lips, may the spirit of the departed lady give you no rest.” Presently, the strangers and their attendants departed, none having discovered whence they had come, or whither they were bound. Their visit gave rise to many wild conjectures, more even than the actual discovery of the corpse, but no certain clue was forthcoming. To go back to day following Tommy’s first visit, after the memorable discovery. Robert Indson, without saying a word to anyone, betook himself to the moor, and, afterwards, it was observed that almost daily took walk in that direction. This sudden fancy of roaming about the moor-top was, very soon, remarked upon. When questioned upon this craze, he said he “didn’t knaw it war onny body’s business wheear he went, bud, if they wanted ti knaw he loved Nature, and the moor was beautiful.” This answer was not satisfactory, so he was secretly followed and watched. Those who thus spied upon him said that be seemed be looking for something, as he walked with his head down, and far from the beaten trod. Indson never saw Tommy without making some remark which always greatly irritated the pedlar. would say. “Whativver is the matter wi’ tha, Tommy; thoo seems ti start if onnybody says ow’t aboot that moddered woman,”9“What’s the matter with you, Tommy? You seem to get startled whenever anyone mentions anything about that murdered woman,” or he would remark, “It was a despart good job for somebody, Tommy, that thun’ner storm cam’ on, it washed away ivvery foot prent, thoo knows,”10“It was quite fortunate for somebody, Tommy, that the thunderstorm came on. It washed away every footprint, you know,” or “Thoo wadn’t a’e liked gahin ower t’ moor when the dark neeghts come, t’ same like ez thoo ez deean, eh, Tommy?”11“You wouldn’t have liked going over to the moor when the dark night came, just like you’ve done, right, Tommy?” This continual baiting, in the end, so exasperated the old pedlar that he turned upon Indson, quite startling every one present, by the remark which broke out with, in fit of passion. “D’ye aim ‘at Ah killed her,”12“Do you imply that I killed her?” and, taking no notice of Indson’s “Ya knaw best,” he continued. “Now, Ah’ll tell tha what, thoo’s been picking at ma this lang while, an’ Ah’ve said now’t; bud, mind tha, Ah’ve ‘ed my awn thowts aboot yon deead woman, an’ its this, if thoo wants for ti knaw.” And then, looking Indson straight in the face, said, very deliberately, “Ah it aim war thoo wheea moddered her, an’ that’s why thoo can’t let it drop. It’s allus preying o’ the mind, Bob, that’s what’s it.”13“Now, I’ll tell you what, you’ve been picking at me for a while, and I’ve kept quiet about it. But mind you, I’ve had my own thoughts about that dead woman, and it’s this: you’re the one who murdered her, and that’s why you can’t let it go. It’s always weighing on your mind, Bob, that’s what it is.”
For the moment, Indson was quite upset by this sudden outbreak, but only for moment. “Wheear did ta get t’ brass fra for ti buy this ass, an’ double t’ size o’ thi pack?” he questioned. “By honest labour and hard work, an’ that’s mair ‘an thoo could allus say. Aye, an’ trampin’ monny a tang mile wi’ my pack on my back: honest toil. Bob. honest toil, thoo knaws.”14“Where did you get the money from to buy this ass, and why is the pack double the size of yours?” he questioned. “Through honest labour and hard work, and that’s more than you could always say. Yes, and I’ve travelled many a long mile with my pack on my back: honest work, Bob, honest work, you know.”
This last remark was very nasty hit at Indson, as he had once been caught, red handed, stealing, Indson did not speak; indeed, Tommy barely gave him time ere he continued, “Neeabody can lift finger again mah character, but hoo aboot thahn, Bobby eh?”15“Nobody can tarnish my reputation again, but what about you, Bobby, eh?” This was the pedlar’s parting shot, for gave the ass a smart cut with his whip, and was about to on his way. ” Stop a moment! ” cried Indson, fairly exasperated. “You don’t go yet; yon shan’t slip away, I mean slink away, like that. I’ll set you a task, see if you dare it. Think on I offer to do it first. That’a fair, isn’t it?” he asked of the crowd now gathered about the two, enjoying the sport16“Wait a moment! You can’t leave just like that. I’ll give you a challenge, let’s see if you’re brave enough to accept it. Think on it before I tell you what it is. That’s fair, isn’t it?”. “Ay, lad, that’s fair eneeaf; what’s thi task, lad?”17“Yes, lad, that’s fair enough. What’s the challenge?” they shouted. “Well, it’s this. Next Wednesday afternoon, some of you—you can arrange it amongst yourselves—shall take summat easy ti hug, summat ya can all ken again, an’ lay it doon just wheear yon dead body war liggin’. An’, close on midnight. I’ll start fra t’ Bull Ring, an’ fetch it back. If thoo’ll gi’e thi wo’d ‘at thoo’ll t’ deea ‘t same t’ week efter, will ta?”18“Well, here it is. Next Wednesday afternoon, some of you (you can decide among yourselves) shall take something easy to recognise, something we all know, and place it where that dead body was lying. Then, close to midnight, I’ll start from the Bull Ring and retrieve it. If you promise that you’ll do the same thing the week after, do we have a deal?” For a moment,Tommy made no answer. “Think on, if thoo daren’t gan, folk ‘ll think ther’ awn think boot it. Mind ya, wa a’e ti gan by wersels; neeabody gans witv ez fer company like.”19“Think about it, if you’re not willing to go, people will assume you have your own doubts. And remember, we have to go alone; no one goes with us for company.” After a moments hesitation. Tommy said. ”Whya, let it be az thoo says. Ah deean’t see ’at Ah’ve onny call fer ti gan scram’ling aboot t’ moor at t’ dark o’ midnight, bud, if thoo’ll gan, Ah will.”20“Well, let it be as you say. I don’t see any reason for me to go wandering around the moor in the dark of midnight, but if you’re going, I will too.” Then Tommy went on his way. A week soon slipped by, and at last the eventful day arrived. The committee had made all arrangements, and these had determined there should be no chance left open for deceit, or any advantage given to either party. Afterwards several of the committee went to the spot, leaving there an old hat. On their return, Indson was never lost sight of, until it was time for him to start on his midnight walk. It was known that he was a quick walker, and, as it was considerably after eleven o’clock at night before started off. could possibly reach the hat before the witching hour of midnight. The market-place was like a fair, groups of people once again discussing every phase of the mystery. It was last turned one o’clock when cheers from the bottom of Bellmonte Gate announced Indson’s return, and, a few minutes later, hat in hand, made quite a trumphal entry, loudly cheered by everyone around the Bull Ring.
When something like quiet and order had been obtained. Indson publicly announced that much what had transpired, whilst near the fatal spot, would never pass his lips, and that which he dare make public, felt, in all fairness Tommy, should not be made known until after had performed his part of the task. Then they could form their own judgment on the whole matter. There was just one bit he could tell them, which he knew would surprise them greatly. The spirit of the departed woman had appeared to him, and confessed she had been murdered. When Indson made his startling statement, every eye was turned upon the pedlar. “Ya needn’t stare at me, wait while Ah come back wi’ t’ hat next week, an’ then All’ll tell ya summat at ’ll ‘maze ivvery yan o’ ya.”21“You needn’t stare at me. Wait while I come back with the hat next week, and then I’ll tell you something that will amaze every one of you.” Daring the excitement, which ran wild and hot through all the following week, many tried to draw Indson out, but one and all failed. “Wait while Tommy comes back wi t’ hat,” was all they could get out of him, as often as not, adding, “Bud Ah reckon he’ll nivver come, he daren’t gan ti save his life, you’ll see.” But Tommy did come, and, at the appointed time, started from the Bull Ring. Some thought he looked both nervous and pale, but, for all that, the man never offered the least excuse, or strove to evade the midnight journey. One o’clock came, two o’clock, but no Tommy returned, and then the grey light above the hills spoke the break of day. yet no Tommy. Then, not one or two, but a crowd of a hundred, hurried down Bellmonte Gate, and began to climb the banks, bent on finding the missing man. Some of the younger and fleeter of foot soon reached the spot. They found the hat gone, but no Tommy was anywhere to be seen. Wide apart companies of twos and threes spread themselves over the moor, but not a sign or mark, or clue, of the missing man could found. It was evening before the last search party returned. Tommy had vanished, and was never heard of again. His ass and pack remained, and that was all. Late that evening, to a silent crowd, Indson gave his promised information. His story, in brief, set forth how, after had been nearly frightened out of his wits by the awful scene he had been compelled to witness, and made swear would never divulge, the spectre had confessed that she was a dishonoured wife fleeing from shame and the wrath of an indignant husband. There were other details which need not now noticed. In concluding his story, Indson made this even more startling statement:—The spectre had told him had met the pedlar on the moor, and inquired the best way to a certain place. No sooner was her back turned, than Tommy had struck her to the earth with his staff, murdered her, robbed her, and left her lying dead. The spectre had told who she was, but this he was forbidden to mention. The spectre had assured Indson that when Tommy came the week following would never seen again. And then the spectre had vanished. “That being the case,” concluded Indson, “it ‘ll ti neea good laating on him onny mair; t’ sperrits a’e gitten him, an’ they’ll owther felt him or tak’ him wheear neeen on ya ‘ll ivver aim o’ leeaking.”22“That being the case, it will take a good beating on him anymore; the spirits have gotten hold of him, and they’ll either possess him or take him where none of you will ever hear of him again.” In some small degree, we can imagine the effect such a story as the above, told to crowd in the days when superstition was strongly rooted in the mind of every listener, must have created. With solemn faces, and in whispers, they spoke to one another, speaking of the awful judgment which had so speedily overtaken the murderer. The spell was broken by one of the committee, who turned to Indson, and asked. “Did the spirit tell you what had become her body, is that one of the things you dare not mention?” “No! she never alluded to that.” said Indson, looking keenly at the speaker. “Sha’ed deean wiv it, like, an’ didn’t care wheea it war, eh. Bob?” suggested another of the committee. “That’s not for for me tl say,” And then, everyone was absolutely held speechless with amazement, by the first speaker slapping him on the back, and saying—and his words were listened to, for he was one of the leading men in the town, and greatly looked to and respected—”Ah, Bobby, you really are the biggest liar I ever came across.” “Of course, you’ll a’e ti tal’ mah wo’d for what Ah’ve tell’d ya, seeing Ah ‘evn’t gitten onny witnesses ti bear an’ back up what Ah’ve tell’d ya, bud Ah’ve spokken now’t bud the Gospel truth.”23“Of course, you’ll have to take my word for what I’ve told you, since I haven’t gotten any witnesses to support what I’ve said. But I’ve spoken nothing but the absolute truth.” At this statement, the whole of the committee burst into most uproarious fit of laughter. “That’s just where you make a mistake, Bob; you had witness, but you were not aware of the fact. I was standing at the bottom of the bank. I saw you arrive, and receive the hat given to you by your accomplice, who took it from the spot two hours after our leaving it there. This little arrangement of yours, sir, was to save you the trouble and the terror visiting the moor at midnight, which it seems you had not courage to do. There are eight of here who can and solemnly declare there is not one single word of truth in the story you have just told us, and that you never went beyond hundred yards past the last gate up the bank. We can tell you something you don’t know. Although Tommy has not returned, which is the great mystery, he did on the moor. I saw him lift the hat, and start his homeward journey. Having seen this much, I hurried homeward. Being a much younger man, I soon left Tommy. I wish now I had joined the old chap; however, it is use crying over spilt milk. Do you imagine. Indson, that we placed implicit confidence in either of you?” Indson slank away, muttering something about it’s being all plot of his enemies, to ruin his character.
* * * * * *
And this is all we know of the mystery. I almost fancy can hear old Lennard saying, as he concluded his story, given with very ill-grace, ”Ya knaw it’s yan o’ them things ’at nivver neeabody could mak’ ow’t on, an’ some on it Ah’ve forgitten. Bud, then, Ah deean’t aim ‘at Ah ivver did know all on’t; ya see, it’s seea lang sen it all teeak place.”24“You know, it’s one of those things that nobody could ever figure out, and some of it I’ve forgotten. But then, I don’t claim that I ever knew all of it; you see, it’s been so long since it all took place.” “But,” said I, “was there never any idea what had become of the old pedlar?” “Whya, aye, Ah deea call ti mind at some aimed what it war alt a plot an’ a plan ti modder t’ au’d chap, an’ git all his brass frev him. Ya ken Indson so ’ranged it, that Tommy gan on t’ moor the very time when it was his round for collecting in what folk war awing on him, an’ it war knawn ‘at he wad ’ev a gay bit o’ brass on him when climm’d t’ banks. Neea doot Indson ’ed ‘ranged wi’ chaps ti modder t au’d feller, an’ neen doot tha made off wiv his body an’ sided it oot o’ t’ road.”25“Well, yes, I do recall at some point what it was all a plot and a plan to deceive the old man and get all his money from him. You know, Indson arranged it in such a way that Tommy went onto the moor exactly when it was his turn to collect the debts people owed him. It was known that Tommy would have a considerable amount of money on him when he climbed the banks. Undoubtedly, Indson had arranged with some guys to deceive the old man, and without a doubt, they took his body and disposed of it out of the way.” In this, as is many other of our decaying dale legends and stories, much is retained which, no doubt, one time led up to the most striking incidents of the whole story, but which, now told, are longer connecting links, and could, without any loss to the story itself, be omitted, because the incident itself has, through time, been forgotten. Instance the stealing of the skirts and garter, followed by what seems have been a deliberate lie told to the priest. Even the visit of these two, which, at one time, must have been the main event in the story, now plays such an insignificant part, that it might well be left out. It only leads one to imagine what the story may have been; but we can only imagine—it is lost.
- 1‘Tales Our Grandmothers Told. The Weird Mystery Of the Moor. A Guisborough Legend. By Richard Blakeborough. The Following Legend Is | Whitby Gazette | Friday 05 May 1905 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2023. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001103/19050505/187/0006> [accessed 2 August 2023]
- 2“told anybody for more than thirty years,”
- 3“It’s a shame that such nice clothes should be left to either get ruined or be torn off by the next group of people who came by.”
- 4A tippet is a piece of clothing worn over the shoulders in the shape of a scarf or cape.
- 5“I almost wonder if Tommy Stevenson never saw her. You say she must have been lying where she was for two or three days. I believe he would have stumbled upon her either while going or coming. Oh! What do you folks think?”
- 7“But,” said one of the bystanders, “other people go with their asses that way.” Tommy said, “Maybe they do, but now that I’ve got the ass, I can arrange a better route than going by the moor.”
- 8“You’re as sharp as a needle, Bobby – you’re as slippery as an eel, Bobby, and as shameless as they make them.”
- 9“What’s the matter with you, Tommy? You seem to get startled whenever anyone mentions anything about that murdered woman,”
- 10“It was quite fortunate for somebody, Tommy, that the thunderstorm came on. It washed away every footprint, you know,”
- 11“You wouldn’t have liked going over to the moor when the dark night came, just like you’ve done, right, Tommy?”
- 12“Do you imply that I killed her?”
- 13“Now, I’ll tell you what, you’ve been picking at me for a while, and I’ve kept quiet about it. But mind you, I’ve had my own thoughts about that dead woman, and it’s this: you’re the one who murdered her, and that’s why you can’t let it go. It’s always weighing on your mind, Bob, that’s what it is.”
- 14“Where did you get the money from to buy this ass, and why is the pack double the size of yours?” he questioned. “Through honest labour and hard work, and that’s more than you could always say. Yes, and I’ve travelled many a long mile with my pack on my back: honest work, Bob, honest work, you know.”
- 15“Nobody can tarnish my reputation again, but what about you, Bobby, eh?”
- 16“Wait a moment! You can’t leave just like that. I’ll give you a challenge, let’s see if you’re brave enough to accept it. Think on it before I tell you what it is. That’s fair, isn’t it?”
- 17“Yes, lad, that’s fair enough. What’s the challenge?”
- 18“Well, here it is. Next Wednesday afternoon, some of you (you can decide among yourselves) shall take something easy to recognise, something we all know, and place it where that dead body was lying. Then, close to midnight, I’ll start from the Bull Ring and retrieve it. If you promise that you’ll do the same thing the week after, do we have a deal?”
- 19“Think about it, if you’re not willing to go, people will assume you have your own doubts. And remember, we have to go alone; no one goes with us for company.”
- 20“Well, let it be as you say. I don’t see any reason for me to go wandering around the moor in the dark of midnight, but if you’re going, I will too.”
- 21“You needn’t stare at me. Wait while I come back with the hat next week, and then I’ll tell you something that will amaze every one of you.”
- 22“That being the case, it will take a good beating on him anymore; the spirits have gotten hold of him, and they’ll either possess him or take him where none of you will ever hear of him again.”
- 23“Of course, you’ll have to take my word for what I’ve told you, since I haven’t gotten any witnesses to support what I’ve said. But I’ve spoken nothing but the absolute truth.”
- 24“You know, it’s one of those things that nobody could ever figure out, and some of it I’ve forgotten. But then, I don’t claim that I ever knew all of it; you see, it’s been so long since it all took place.”
- 25“Well, yes, I do recall at some point what it was all a plot and a plan to deceive the old man and get all his money from him. You know, Indson arranged it in such a way that Tommy went onto the moor exactly when it was his turn to collect the debts people owed him. It was known that Tommy would have a considerable amount of money on him when he climbed the banks. Undoubtedly, Indson had arranged with some guys to deceive the old man, and without a doubt, they took his body and disposed of it out of the way.”