Daniel Frederick Edward Sykes.

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Produced by John Parkinson

Tom Pinder, Foundling, by D. F. E. Sykes, LL.B.

Part 1.

Tom. ......



(A Story of the Holmfirth Flood.)

by D.F.E. Sykes, LL.B.

Price one penny

F. Walker, Commercial and Artistic printer, Britannia Works.

Later published under the title "Dorothy's Choice"

About the author

D F E Sykes was a gifted scholar, solicitor, local politician, and
newspaper proprietor. He listed his own patrimony as 'Fred o' Ned's o'
Ben o' Billy's o' the Knowle' a reference to Holme village above
Slaithwaite in the Colne Valley. As the grandson of a clothier, his
association with the woollen trade would be a valuable source of
material for his novels, but also the cause of his downfall when, in
1883, he became involved in a bitter dispute between the weavers and
the mill owners.

When he was declared bankrupt in 1885 and no longer able to practise as
a solicitor he left the area and travelled abroad to Ireland and Canada.
On his return to England he struggled with alcoholism and was prosecuted
by the NSPCC for child neglect. Eventually he was drawn back to
Huddersfield and became an active member of the Temperance Movement. He
took to researching local history and writing, at first in a local
newspaper, then books such as 'The History of Huddersfield and its
Vicinity'. He also wrote four novels. It was not until the 1911 Census,
after some 20 years as a writer, that he finally states his profession
as 'author'.

In later life he lived with his wife, the daughter of a Lincolnshire
vicar, at Ainsley House, Marsden. He died of a heart attack following an
operation at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary on 5th June 1920 and was
buried in the graveyard of St Bartholomew's in Marsden.


Tom Pinder, Foundling is a romance and moral tale, set in the early part
of the 19th Century, to the backdrop of the Greenfield and Holme Valleys
when both were a part of West Yorkshire. It deals with the life of a
foundling, Victorian values, the burgeoning of the cooperative movement
and the Holmfirth flood. The book was first published c. 1902 and
subsequently published under the title Dorothy's Choice (A Rushing of
the Waters).

Sykes is one of few novelists who chose to portray the lives of common
people in this period and for this reason alone it is a valuable
resource as a social history. His use of the local dialect, ability to
sketch interesting characters and their relationships adds greatly to
its readability.


THE _Hanging Gate_ is a public-house of venerable aspect. It stands at
the corner of one of four cross ways, where the road from the summit of
Harrop Edge cuts the turnpike from Leeds to Manchester. It pays rates in
the township of Diggle, and to Diggle it properly belongs; but the small
cluster of tumble-down cottages that constitutes a very small hamlet
rejoices in the name of Wakey, a name whose origin has hitherto baffled
the researches of local antiquarians. The inn itself is a low,
two-storied, rambling building. Its rooms are so low that a moderately
tall man must dodge the oaken rafters. There is much stabling, now
largely abandoned to the rats, for the pristine glory of the _Hanging
Gate_ departed with the stage coach. A long horse-trough by the side of
the inn front still stands to remind the wayfarer of the days when the
highway was quick with traffic, but the sign itself bears eloquent
testimony of decay and fallen fortunes though it still flaunts its
ancient legend on a miniature crate that rocks and creaks over the
narrow doorway:
"This Gate hangs well and hinders none;
Refresh and pay and travel on."

But on a certain winter's night of 183 - , when this story opens, the
guest more bent upon refreshing than travelling on might have pleaded
good excuse. Outside, the snow lay upon field and road knee-deep, the
thatches, gables, and very faces of the scattered houses of Wakey were
splashed and bespattered with snow, which for days had fallen in big
flakes, silent and sad as the grey leaves of latest autumn, making thick
the air as with the lighting of grasshoppers. The moon in the
low-hanging sky was veiled by heavy masses of dark cloud that stole
across the heavens like mutes oppressed by the sombre garb of woe. Signs
of life about the Wakey there seemed none, save the mellowed light that
shone across the bisecting roads from the curtained lattices of the
_Hanging Gate_. It was eight o'clock and the hand-loom weavers or
mill-hands habiting the small stone-build houses that straggled from the
valley up the bleak sides of Harrop Edge had gone to bed, not so much
because they were weary as to save fire and light. The village smithy
flanking the stables of the _Hanging Gate_ was closed and the smith
himself, big burly Jim o' Little Hannah's had forged his last shoe and
blown the last blast from his bellows, poured his last pint down his
throat in the neighbouring taproom and trudged home to his little wife
and large family. The few frequenters of the tap-room had tarried till
tarry they might no longer, for times were bad, money was scarce and the
credit given by the best of innkeepers has its limits.

Mrs. Betty Schofield, the buxom hostess of the _Hanging Gate_ was no
wise dismayed by the slackness of her custom. Rumour had it that Betty
was a very warm woman. She had been some years a widow, and her husband
had left her, as the gossips said, well worth picking up. Look at her as
she sits in the long kitchen before a roaring fire of mingled coal, peat
and logs. Below the medium height, with wavy brown hair, a soft brown
eye, a dimpled chin, now inclined to the double, a full and swelling
bust, a mouth not too small and smiling lips that parted only to display
a perfect set of teeth - it does one good to look upon her rosy
cheek. - Happy the man, you say, who shall own those ample charms and
for whom shall beam the ready smile or soften the warm brown eyes.

There are another two seated in the brick-tiled kitchen. Mary o'
Stuart's commonly called Moll o' Stute's, and Mr. William Black. Moll
shall have precedence in honour of her sex and calling, a noble calling,
of a verity, for Mary was the midwife of the valley. She is scantily
clad for the time of the year, yet you judge that it is not from cold
that she huddles by the fireside, but rather for convenience of lighting
the black clay pipe she so intently sucks, one long skinny brown arm
resting on her knee, her eyes fixed upon the glowing fire that casts its
flickering light upon the sharp hard-featured face. Her black hair is
long and though streaked with grey is still abundant, and rebellious
locks, escaped from the coil, stray over the scraggy shoulders, round
which a shabby, faded, flannel shawl hangs loosely. No one knows where
Moll lives, if it be not at the _Hanging Gate_, which, if not her home,
is for Moll a sort of _Poste Restante_, and if not there to be always
seen there she can always be heard of. Moll has less need of fixed abode
than ordinary mortals. She has reached the age of fifty or more, and
still bears her virgin name and owns to neither chick nor child, though
there were that breathed mysterious hints of wild passages of thirty
years gone bye, when Moll's cheek was soft and rosy and her form, though
tall, lacked nought of grace and suppleness. "A saucy queen," the
village grannies said, "and one that always thought herself too good for
common folk; but pride had had its fall," - a reflection that seemed to
bring comfort to the toothless, hollow-cheeked beldames as they wheezed
asthmatically of the scandals of a youth long fled, when Mary's foot
light upon the village green and her laugh was readiest at feast or

On the opposite side of the hearth sat Mr. Black, the village
Schoolmaster, a little lean man well past his meridian, his hair sparse
and thin, and sparse and thin all his form and frame. He is clean
shaven, but his lips are firm and his eye bright and keen. Though he has
the lean and hungry look of the born conspirator, never did such a look
so belie a man; for a gentler being never breathed than William Black,
nor one more secure in the affection and esteem of high and low for many
miles around. He was not a that country man and how or by what fate,
driven by what adversity or sore mischance, he had drifted to that wild
neighbourhood none presumed to know. He kept a day school for boys and
girls, whose parents paid fourpence a child per week when they could
afford it, and less when they couldn't - generally less. Then on
alternate week-nights he kept a night-school where strapping and
ambitious youths from loom or farm or bench, whose education had been
neglected in their tender youth sought painfully to learn to read and
write and sum. These were known to pay as much as twopence a lesson. Mr.
Black - even in those irreverent days and parts, where few even of the
better sort escape a nick-name, he was always called _Mr_. Black, - was
a bachelor, and his modest household and Mr. Black himself were ruled by
a spinster sister, shrill of voice, caustic of speech, with profound
contempt for her brother's softness, but unceasing and untiring in the
care of the household gods, and happiest in those "spring cleanings"
that were not confined to spring. But to-night Mr. Black has fled before
his sister's voice and twirling mop, and a look of seraphic content
rests upon his face as he meditatively puffs his long churchwarden and
sniffs the fragrant odour of the mulled ale that simmers in the copper
vessel, shaped like a candle-snuffer, or, as Mr. Black reflected, like
a highly burnished dunce's cap, and which the plump hand of
Mrs. Schofield had thrust nigh to its rim in the very heart of the
ruddy fire. The schoolmaster's thin legs, clad in stout stockings of
native wool, knit by Miss Black's deft fingers, were crossed before the
blaze and the grateful warmth falls upon them, the while the clogging
snow slowly melts from his stout boots.

"Redfearn o' Fairbanks is late to-night," he said at length, after a
silence broken only by the click of Mrs. Schofield's steel knitting

"Aye, it's market day in Huddersfilt, yo' know, Mr. Black, an' th' roads
'll be bad to-neet. But Fairbanks 'll win through if th' mare dunnot
fall an' break his neck."

"Th' mare's nooan foaled 'at 'll break Tom o' Fairbank's neck," said
Moll o' Stuart's, grimly. "It's spun hemp that bides for him, if there's
a God i' heaven."

"Whisht yo' now, Moll, an' quit speakin' o' your betters, leastwise if
you canna speak respectful."

"Betters! Respectful! Quo' she," retorted Molly with a defiant snort,
pulling hard at her filthy cuddy.

"Aye betters!" snapped the landlady, or as nearly snapped as lips like
hers could snap. "It's me as says it, an' me as 'll stand to it. Wheer
i' all th' parish will yo find a freer hand or a bigger heart nor Tom o'
Fairbanks? Tell me that, yo' besom."

"Aye free enew," said Molly curtly.

Mrs. Schofield bridled indignantly.

"Oh! It's weel for yo' to sit by mi own fireside an' eat o' mi bread an'
nivver so happy as when yo're castin' up bye-gones 'at should be dead
an' buried long sin."

"Aye, aye, let the dead past bury its dead," put in the schoolmaster

"An' what if Redfearn o' Fairbanks ware a bit leet gi'en i' his young
days," went on the irate hostess. "He's nooan th' first an' he'll nooan
be th' last. He's nobbut human like most folk 'at ivver I heard tell on.
He's honest enough now, if he's had to wear honest. An' it's weel

But what was so well known that the voluble tongue of Mrs. Schofield was
about to repeat it at large shall not be here set down, nor was destined
that night to enlighten the company; for the outer door was opened, and
a gust of keen wind laden with feathery flakes of snow whirled up the
narrow passage, well nigh extinguishing the slender light of the oil
lamp on the wall, and causing the great burnished metal dishes and the
very warming-pan itself to sway gently on their hooks.

"It's Fairbanks, hissen," said Mrs. Schofield "Talk o' the de'il,"
muttered the irrepressible Moll but no one heeded.

Then was heard much stamping of feet in the outer passage and kicking of
boot toes on the lintel of the door and not a little coughing and
clearing of the throat.

"Ugh! Shut the door to, man," cried a hearty voice; "do yo' want me to
be blown into th' back-yard?"

The heavy bolt-studded door was pressed back and there strode into the
room a tall well-built man. Top-booted, spurred, with riding-whip in
hand, and wearing the long heavy-lapetted riding-coat of the period - a
hale, hearty man fresh-complexioned, with close cropped crisping hair,
the face clean shaven after the fashion of the times, a masterful man,
you saw at a glance, and one who knew it. Though he was over the
borderland of his fifth decade, time had neither wrinkled his ruddy face
nor streaked his crisp brown hair. Behind him as he strolled into the
kitchen, shambled a thick-set, saturnine, grim-visaged churl, who knew
more of his master's business and far more of his master's secrets than
the mistress of Fairbanks herself. It was Aleck, the shepherd and
general factotum of Fairbanks farm, Aleck the silent, Aleck the cynic,
Aleck the misogynist, against whose steeled heart successive milk-maids
and servant wenches had cast in vain the darts and arrows of amorous
eyes and who was spitefully averred to care only for home-brewed ale,
and the sheep-dog, Pinder that now, already, was shaking the snow oft
his shaggy coat preparatory to curling himself up before the fire.

"Sakes alive! It's a rough 'un, good folk," said the master of
Fairbanks, "Good night to yo' Betty, an' to yo', Mr. Black. I was feart
aw should miss yo'. Give me a stiff 'un o' rum hot wi' sugar an' a
splash o' lemon; an' yo' Aleck, will't ha' a pint o' mulled?" Which
redolent compound Mrs. Schofield was now pouring into a capacious

"Tha knows better, mester," was Aleck's blunt reply. "A quart o' ale,
missis, an' nooan too much yead on it - no fal-lals for me, mi
stummack's too wake."

This was an unusually long speech for Aleck, and he sank exhausted on a
settle that ran beneath a long narrow window, whilst the dog prone upon
the hearth, his jaws resting on his fore paws, feigned sleep, but
blinked at times from beneath twitching eyebrows at the rugged visage of
the tanned, weather-beaten herdsman.

"An' yo' stabled th' mare aw nivver heerd th' stable door oppen?"
queried Mrs Schofield.

"Nay, I left Bess at th' _Floating Lights_. She cast a shoe coming over
th' Top. So we'n walked daan an welly up to mi chin aw've bin more nor
once - it's th' heaviest fall aw mind on."

"But you're late Fairbanks," said Mr Black. "I looked for you this hour
and more. Have you had a good market?"

"Aye nowt to grumble at, an' we Aleck? Sold forty head o' beast an'
bought thirty as fine cattle as ever yo' clapped e'en on, eh, Aleck? An'
we're nooan strapped yet," he laughed, as he drew a leather pouch from
an inner pocket and cast it jingling on to the table. "Here Betty, put
that i'th cupboard."

"Have yo' counted it?" asked Mrs. Schofield, handling the greasy bag

"Count be danged," said Mr. Redfearn, "saving your presence,
schoolmaster. Gi' me another jorum. Sup up, Aleck."

Aleck supped up and silently handed his pewter to Mrs Schofield.

"But it wasn't the market that kept me so late," went on Mr Redfearn.
"There were a meeting o' th' free holders o' th' district to consider
the new Reform Bill. We met i' th' big room at th' _George_, but it all
came to nowt; though Harry Brougham talked and talked fit to talk a hen
an' chickens to death. Gosh! Our Mary's a good 'un, but she couldn't
hold a can'le to Brougham."

"Aye, did you hear Mr. Brougham?" asked Mr Black, with interest. "What
manner of man is he?"

"Why nowt much to look at - aw could blow him away like thistle down;
more like a monkey up a stick nor owt 'at I can think on. But talk! You
should hear him! But he didn't talk my vote out o' me for all that. King
and Church for me, say I. Th' owd ways were good enough for my father
an' my father's father an' aw reckon they'll do for me."

"But he's a marvellous man," said Mr. Black. "Who but he could leave the
Assizes at York, travel, there and back, over two hundred miles after
the rising of the Court, address half-a-dozen meetings and be back next
day taking his briefs - I think they call them - as fresh as new paint."

"Aye, but that wern't Brougham," said Redfearn. "It wer' Owdham

"Eh?" queried the schoolmaster.

"Aye, Owdham browies. I had it from a sure source. Th' other day i' th'
Court Harry wer' fair done an' it wer' getting late. 'Won't your ludship
adjourn, now?' He says, as mild as milk."

"'No, sir,' says th' judge,'I shall finish this case if I sit till
midnight.' Yo' see he knew Harry only wanted to be off spoutin' an' th'
owd judge wer' a Tory."

"'Very well, my lord,' says Harry an' turns to his clerk, an' in a jiffy
there war a basin o' haver-bread wi' hot beef drippin' poured on it an
pepper an salt an' a pint o' old port wine stirred in, an' Harry
spooinnin' it into him like one o'clock, slap under th' owd Judge's
nose. Th'owd felly wer' a bit hungry hissen, an' th' smell set his mouth
a watterin' an' he jumped up an' adjourned th' Court, an' if he didn't
say 'curse yo',' they say he looked it. But what ails Pinder?"

The sheep-dog had pricked its ears, then listened intently, then gone
into the passage whining and growling.

"Pinder thinks it's time to be goin' whom'," said Aleck, as he followed
the cur into the passage. The dog laid its nose to the bottom of the
thick door; whined and began frantically to scratch at the door beneath
which the snow had drifted in thin sprays. When Aleck neared the dog it
leaped on him and then with looks more eloquent than speech compelled
him to the door.

"Ther's summat up," said Aleck, as he opened the door. "Bring th'
lantern, missus."

The dog bounded out, set its head to the ground and howled dismally.
Aleck stooped, his big hands swept away a big mound of snow and he
lifted something in his arms. "Mak' way theer," he cried, as nearly
excited as ever Aleck had been known to be; "mak' way; it's a woman an'
oo's dead, aw'm thinkin'."

He bore his burthen, almost covered with its cold winding sheet of snow,
into the warm kitchen, and laid it before the fire. Mrs. Schofield had
snatched a cushion from the settle and placed it under the head of the
lifeless figure. The men had risen to their feet and gazed helplessly at
the rigid form. They saw the fair young face, marble white and set, fair
tresses, sodden through. Upon the feet were shoes of flimsy make, the
heel gone from one of them. A slight cape covered a thin dress of good
make and material, but far too tenuous for winter wear, and all was
travel-stained and soaked through.

Moll o' Stute's thrust the men aside. "Go whom," she said, "yo're nooan
wanted here." She put her hand into the woman's bosom. "Gi' me some
brandy," she said. It was there already, held in Mrs. Schofield's
trembling hand. A little passed the lips and gurgled down the throat. A
little more and the potent spirit did its saving work. The white thin
hand twitched, the eyes partly opened, then closed again as a faint sigh
breathed from the pallid lips.

"Put th' warming pan i' th' best bed, an' leet a fire upstairs,"
commanded Moll. "I'st be wanted afore mornin' or aw'st be capped."

"Shall Aleck fetch Dr. Garstang?" ventured Mr. Redfearn.

"Garstang fiddlesticks," snapped Moll. "This is wark for me, aw tell
yo'. There'll be one more i' this house bi morn, and happen one less,
God save us. But get you gone an' moither me no more."


MR. Black did not sleep well that night. He had fevered visions of
Alpine crevasses, of St. Bernard dogs and of fair blanched faces set in
long dank tresses of clinging hair. He had had, too, before seeking his
narrow pallet, a rather bad and disquieting quarter of an hour with his
sister, who had demanded in acrid tones to be told what made him so late
home. He was losing his character, the irate Priscilla had declared,
spending every spare moment at the _Hanging Gate_, whose landlady
everyone knew to be a designing women and openly and unblushingly
"widowing." A nice howdyedo it must be for him, a scholar, to have his
name bandied about in every tap-room between Diggle and Greenfield. But
she would see Mr Whitelock the vicar of St Chad's, and perhaps her
abandoned brother would take more notice of his spiritual adviser than
he did of those that were his own flesh and blood so to speak. But if he
meant to go on that gate, drinking and roistering and maybe even worse,
she, for one, wouldn't stand it, and nevermore would she set scrubbing
brush to desk and floor or duster to chair, no not if dirt lay so thick,
you could write your name in it with your finger - and so forth. Mr.
Black had smiled when Mr Whitelock was mentioned, for well he knew the
worthy vicar's cob stopped without hint from rein as it reached the
_Hanging Gate_, and no one knew better than the reverend gentleman the
virtues of those comforting liquids Mrs. Schofield reserved for favoured
guests. Priscilla, however, had been somewhat mollified and allowed the
cauldron of her righteous wrath to simmer down, when her brother told
her he had been detained by Mr. Redfearn of Fairbanks, and that she
might expect a basket of butter and eggs, with maybe a collop, as a mark
of friendship and esteem from Mrs. Redfearn herself.

Mr. Black struggled hard with his early breakfast of porridge and milk,
but it was no use. He pushed away bowl and platter and murmuring
something about being back in time to open school he seized his beaver,
donned frieze coat and made off to the _Hanging Gate_.

His heart sank within him when he found the door closed though not
bolted, and every window shrouded by curtain or blind.

Mrs. Schofield was rocking herself in the chair and looked, as was
indeed the case as if she had known no bed that night. There were marks
of tears upon her, cheeks, and her glossy hair, was all awry and

"Eh, but Mr. Black," she half sobbed, "but it's good for sair e'en to
see yo' or any other Christian soul after such a time as aw've passed
through this very neet that's passed and gone. Glory be to God. And oh!
Mi poor head, if it doesna crack it's a lucky woman Betty Schofield will
be. If it hadn't been for a cup o' tay goodness only knows but what aw'd
ha' sunk entirely, and Moll o Stute's wi' no more feelin' nor a stone.
But sit yo' down, sir, an' drink a dish o' tea."

Now black tea in those days was 8s. a pound and a tea-drinking was
almost as solemn a function as a Church sacrament. Tea was not to be
lightly drunk, and indeed was reserved chiefly for funerals and
christenings. The women folk of the middle classes drank it at times to
mark their social status, as people now-a-days emblazon emblems of
spurious heraldry on the panels of their broughams. The men held it in
derision as a milksop's beverage and swore by the virtues of hops and
malt. But Mr. Black was fain to forget his manhood nor resisted over
much when a certain cordial, darkly alluded to as "brown cream" and
commonly supposed to mellow in the plantations of Jamaica, was added to
the fragrant cup.

"And the poor woman?" he asked timidly at last.

"Ah! Poor woman well may yo' call her, though mebbe now she's richer nor
any on us, for if ever misguided wench looked like a saint i' heaven she
does - an' passed away as quiet as a lamb, at two o'clock this mornin'
just as th' clock theer wer strikin' th' hour. Eh! But she's a bonnie
corpse as ever aw seed but she looks so like an angel fro' heaven aw'm
awmost feart to look at her. Yo'll like to see her, but Fairbanks 'll be
comin' down aw doubt na an' yo'll go up together."

"Did she speak, is there anything to show who or what she is?"

"Not a word, not a sign, not a mark on linen or paper; but oo's no
common trollop that aw'st warrant, tho' she _had_ no ring on her

"Maybe her straits compelled her to part with it," suggested Mr. Black.

"Weel, weel, mebbe, mebbe, tho' it's th' last thing a decent woman parts
wi', that an' her marriage-lines. But, as I said, th' poor thing med no
sign. 'Oo just oppened her sweet e'en as Moll theer laid th' babby to
her breast, an' her poor hand tried to touch its face, an' just th'
quiver o' a smile fluttered on her lips, an' then all wer' ovver, but so

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