The Waggoner’s Tale

Dick Carter was nearing the end of a long day.  It was his last load into Andover.  Ahead was a pint or two at the Collage Inn and a mattress in the stable, a few jobs on the morrow and after that a load to take back to Farnham.  He’d sleep at home tomorrow night.

Making his way by Batchelor’s Barn he spied men playing at cricket and halted his team to take a look.  Like many before and since it was not possible for Dick to pass a game of cricket without checking the score.

“How be on Lumpy?” he shouted to a sweating player fielding at Third Man.

“Ney s’ bad, Dick.  We notched 166.”

“Who be we?”

“His Grace the Duke of Dorset.  I’m England today.  And they be the ‘Dons.

“Hambledon? You hav’em by the throat?”

“Not yet.  Sueter, Nyren and Taylor have swiped a few.  And Francis and Small.”

“Who’s that in now?”

“Tis Great Aylward, tenth man today.”

“You’ll not be in the field much longer.”

Dick watched a while as Lumpy took his turn to bowl.

“Bullen, cover the middle wicket and point”

“What – out, to save two runs?

“Why, you would not play to save one on this ground.”

“I would when you bowls, Lumpy.”

The evening passed well for Dick, kept company by old waggoning friends from Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, and a few from Wessex on their way to Town.   Talk of the Revolutionary War was heated and one Foxite up from the West Country had to be dunked in the Anton before the night was over.

The morning loads took longer than he’d hoped and its was late in the day when the team passed Bachelor’s Barn on their way back to Farnham.

Here he again pulled up his team to check the score.

“Why, Lumpy, you still in the field!”

“That b***er Aylward batted all nite and all this fore noon.  He’s on 167 and the ‘Dons are 403.”

“That’s one more than you lot got together.”

“Aye, no one never seen the like.”

“Tis a year to fear.  Too many sevens.”

“1777’s lucky for Jim Aylward though.”

***********

Some say that Aylward’s record score, which stood unsurpassed for over forty years, was made in Sevenoaks Vine.  But Third Man believes the Farnham Waggoner’s Tale.

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