Mouldheels

Mouldheels

Most folk don’t know much about my best mate Kate Hewitt.  Everyone round here calls her Mouldheel’s Wife as she’s wed to John Hewitt of Colne.  He’s a weaver in Waterside – a slippery knave, and not much to look at either.  I know he bulks out his cloth with tallow.  You can tell from the shine, even afore the mould starts growing.  And each time there’s an official complaint they’ve to pack up shop and move on.

For a while they lived here, in Barley.  It was years ago, when all our bairns were just scraps.  That’s when Kate came and asked me to cure her rabbits.  She raises them like chickens until they’re firm and plump and then wrings their necks for market.  But that year summat made the whole bunch sick, and it was a couple of weeks afore I worked out a cure.  Then she was that glad I’d saved the kits she invited our lot to supper – treated us more decent than anyone outside of the clan ever had – and we became friends.

When me and Ali were arrested, Lizzie invited Kate (and her neighbor Alice Gray) to the Good Friday gathering at Malkin Tower, to see if they’d any suggestions for getting us free.  They came on Alice’s ponies, which is likely why she was asked along in the first place.  I don’t know much about Goodwife Gray, except for the rumor a while back that she fell out with some lot at Folds Farm and was accused of putting their young lass in hanck.  Now I’m told both women have been arrested, I’ll warrant on account of some old scores that needed settling.

I hope they put Kate in the Well Tower so we can find out what’s been going on out there.  It won’t seem quite so grim if my mate’s in here with us too.

The Robys

Robey Mad Martha

Mad Martha Roby’s as bony and brown as any Romany I ever laid eyes on, though she’s riddled with the Pox.  She and her lass Belle live rough in a cave, some place at the back of Fell Woods.  Belle’s the young slattern Our Jim took a fancy to.

I know Martha can’t show her face in town – been banned ever since she caught the French Disease off some soldier a good few years back – so they scrape by from begging.  Then Belle got hired by the swineherd at Roughlee Hall and filches the best scraps of meat from the pigs.  But since she’s been sent to the castle alongside Jim, I wonder how Martha’s coping.

Ali’s got no time for either of them.  She says Martha’s moonstruck – away with the fairies – as mad as the locals claim.  And Belle’s a simple soul.  Ali hates how free that wench is with her favors.  She’ll lift her smock for aught that’s shiny or worth eating.  But they don’t get Ali that cheap!

(Picture: Matthijs Maris)

The Bulcocks

I hear tell they’ve also arrested the Bulcocks – Jane her lad Big John, o’fMoss End Farm.  They’re not down here with our lot either, so they must’ve bartered the mistress’ fancy broach for finer lodgings.  That diamond pin will like be the death of them both.  It certainly caught ourJenny’s green eye, and earned her a rare old thrashing.

Still, that light-fingered lassie did find out summat I never knew.  Turns out, Mistress Bulcock’s great granddad was a knight, made Lord of the Realm for his service to the old King Henry.  That’s how they got the diamond – for saving His Majesty’s life in the Battle of the Spurs at Guinegate.  After Jane’s grandma died whelping their only daughter, he re-wed.  But when he passed away afore his new wife, everything went to her side of the family, except the farm.  And the pin Jane got as a keep-sake.

Bulcocks

Now our Jenny loves aught shiny.  She couldn’t keep her grubby paws off that broach, and a whole heap of bother it caused.  They took pity on the lass being just a bairn – but if me or Lizzie or Jim had filched summat that costly we’d have swung from the nearest crossbeam for sure.

Yet here they are in the castle accused as witches!  I’ve never heard aught so daft in all my born days.  Jane Bulcock was one of my patrons, aye, but a wise woman herself?  It’s utter nonsense.  Then again, happen the jailers are merely baiting us.  Let’s wait up and see.

Pssst! Wear silver today for good luck.

Squinting Lizzie

Let me tell you a bit about our lot at Malkin Tower.  First off, there’s my lass Lizzie.  She’s not the bonniest of the bunch, but she’ll service aught that can pay, and has plenty who’ll visit to do the things that their wives at home won’t allow!

She must be nigh-on forty two years, and if anyone ever dares question her powers I chuckle and say, “Well, she got John Device to wed her!”  Even I don’t  know how she conjured up that miracle – not that the vagabond was aught to boast on, but at least he made her legal.

Lizzie

Lizzie had four bairns – Jim, Ali, Harry, and Jenny.  Little Harry died around the same time as his dad.  Jenny came later, but when no one bothered to add up the months the villages called her a Device, the same as the others.

We all keep dogs, except wee Jenny.  Lizzie’s got a nasty white mutt named Ball who likes scrapping and mounting bitches.  The Justice calls them familiars.  We play along, because when all this witch-mess is over it’ll pay handsome to have the village folks thinking we’ve got a pack of  demons doing our bidding.  That’ll make them think twice about swindling us.  That’ll bring the alms in when we go begging!

Our Lizzie’s got the gift of second sight and of that there’s no doubt.  She does a roaring trade reading palms and telling fortunes, though she can’t scry in the mirror as good as me.  In winter she works at the Great Wheel, spinning our Chris’ fleece into wool, earning that lot at Hay Booth a pretty penny.  Still, I mustn’t grumble just because they’re better situated than us – our Chris looks after his old mum better than most.

I often wished he lived here instead of Lizzie.  She’s turned into a mean, grumpy cow and I’m sick of looking at her ugly face.  I know she can’t help being born like she was – one eye drooping half way down her cheek and puffy lips that seem bee-stung.  But with that pock-scarred skin and wild gray hair it’s small wonder she puts the fear of God into folk.  Even I wouldn’t want to meet her in a country lane after dark, and neither would you!