Three Stories

First story - I've Broke My Peel
A ploughman performs an act of simple charity for
an unseen hedge sprite, and finds a delicious reward.
[A peel is a baker's paddle, still to be seen in use with pizza ovens.
A description can be found on the following page: Bread Peels.]

Second story - Gaffer Clinch
Gaffer Clinch is asked to pass on a strange message to his cat.

Third Story - Ricardo

Preface

Miss Marcia Rice, a great-great niece of Jane Austen, was in her 80s when she wrote down these stories in the early 1950s. As she says, circumstantial evidence suggests that Jane Asuten and her siblings were told them by their parents.

‘These stories can be traced by me to the parents of Jane Austen, but no doubt go back into remote ages. It is a fact known to all my family that Edward, Jane's brother, told these stories to my grandmother and she in her turn told them to her children and grandchildren, and it has been the family pride to hand them on verbatim with never a change of word.

‘Montagu Knight, Edward's grandson, is responsible for the wording of “I've Broke My Peel” as given here. It had come to him from his father.

‘My grandmother's brother, Edward of Godmersham, doubtless heard the stories as a tiny boy from his parents, and Jane must have also been so entertained by them. They are meant for small children.

‘My own father who told them to me was an excellent story teller and I can testify to how they thrilled me when I asked for them over and over again. Their enchantment depends upon the narrator and I am sure that my father had his mother in mind when he told the stories. Of her a granddaughter wrote, “Grandmama was a perfect story teller and recognised a child's craving for details and love of mystery, and to hear her give the cat's message always made our flesh creep – and Ricardo still more. I used to tell the stories to my brother Harris – three years younger than me – and sometimes when we were in bed in the nursery, but he never could hear Ricardo then – it frightened him so that he could not sleep! It was the far-off cry of ‘Ri-car-do’ as Grandmama did it. She was too delightful.”’

(This granddaughter was Evelyn, Lady Templetown, daughter of Fanny, Lady Winchilsea – eldest daughter of the Rice family. Evelyn was very much at Dane Court in Grandmama’s early days as a Grandmother.)