The ones I saw

``Tell me,'' she wrote, ``I am in Yorkshire now. I have a car and want to see your moors, the moors you write about. What are their names?'' I sent her some. I mentioned Oxenhope, Ilkley and Baildon, Haworth, Pen-y-Ghent. If she should leave her car, to walk the paths across the acreage of gorse and heather she may observe the scraps of Roman wall which served me as a guide when I got lost in fog that used to creep over the Pennines. She may see rabbits scudding to their warrens, or startled female plover rising up to take her gaze away from clutch of eggs. She will see purple harebell and red campion. But will she see what I saw as I walked, plaid tam-o'shanter pulled about my ears and knitted scarf twice twisted round my neck against the rain and wind? Ah, will she see the people I saw trudging to the town hundreds of years ago, from hamlet to Piece Hall, carrying their bales of worsted on their backs? Or Nonconformists who set out at night to hold their services by candlelight down in the cellar of a wayside inn, at risk of being taken by the Crown because they would not read the Book of Prayer? ``The Bible and the Hymn Book,'' they declared, ``are all we use. And we'll ha' naught to do wi' printed prayers.'' I knew their story well. Two hundred years' resistance brought about release at last, by the Conventicle Act. I read about them in worn books, as I sat by the fire, with oat-cake dangling from the mantel. These I saw upon the moors: Although we never spoke I knew them well.

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