Hal o’ the Draft

These notes are based on those written by Donald Mackenzie for the OXFORD WORLD’S CLASSICS edition of Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies (1995) with the kind permission of Oxford University Press. Except where stated otherwise, the page numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Rewards and Fairies (1910, and frequently reprinted since).


This story was first published in the Strand Magazine of August 1906, and McClure’s Magazine for the same month. It was collected in Puck of Pook’s Hill in 1906 and in numerous subsequent editions of that collection. It was accompanied by the poems “Prophets at Home” and “A Smugglers’ Song”.

The story

Dan and Una meet Sir Harry Dawe, one of the great architects and craftsmen of the early 16th century, who had been born and brought up in their valley. He tells the story of how he was given the job of restoring their local village church, St Barnabas’. He found the Sussex villagers strangely unhelpful. His friend Sebastian Cabot, was planning a voyage across the Atlantic; he had ordered guns for his ship from a local forge, and he too was finding it a frustrating experience, since there were constant delays, and implausible excuses for broken promises.

Then they find that the local ironmasters are making guns secretly for Sir Andrew Barton, a pirate who sailed off the Sussex coast, and hiding them in the church before delivery. On the advice of a wise old local magistrate, Hal and Sebastian come down with soldiers and take the guns on the bland assumption that they are destined for Sebastian’s ship. They take no legal action, which saves the necks of the conspirators, and Hal gets every help from the villagers thereafter.

Critical comments

C. W. Scott-Giles, in the article cited in the headnote to “Young Men at the Manor”, remarks on the jumbling of dates in this story and its sequel, “The Wrong Thing” in Rewards and Fairies.

Notes on the Text

[Page 231, line 8] Jack Cade leader of a major rebellion in 1450 against the government of Henry VI. He entered London in July but was quickly driven out. Wounded and captured at Lewes, Sussex, he died at Heathfield while being transported to London.

[Page 231, line 11] ballad of Sir Andrew Barton in Percy’s Reliques (2nd series, Bk. 2).

[Page 231, line 12] swarved climbed.

[Page 232, line 16] Low Country cross-bow steel The best steel for making cross-bows came from what is now Belgium.

[Page 232, line 19] Gaffer Jonah Jonah, who – according to the Book of Jonah in the Old Testament – was swallowed by a whale, but managed to escape through divine providence.

[Page 232, line 22] Barnabas’s Barnabas was the companion of St Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 13-14).

[Page 232, line 32] Little Lindens Rye Green Farm on the Bateman’s estate.

[Page 233, line 18] Bramante Italian architect (1444-1514).


[Page 234, line 29] Galilee porch the large cruciform porch of this name was added on the west side of the south transept of Lincoln Cathedral (right) in the mid-thirteenth century, during the episcopacy of Bishop Grosseteste.



[Page 234, line 30] Torrigiano  Notable Florentine sculptor (1472-1528).

He worked on the tombs of Henry VII (left) and Henry’s wife and mother in Westminster Chapel..




[Page 235, line 19] came into England all in one year Hops (right) were first introduced into England in 1520 by brewers from the Low Countries, who used them to flavour beer.

The first record of a roast turkey at a banquet is from 1570, though turkeys may have been bred much earlier. ‘Heresy’ probably refers to the spread of reformist ideas from Germany or Geneva, and this could have referred to the 1520s, the decade before England’s breach with Rome.

[Page 236, line 6] the Pomps of the Flesh cf. the answer to the third question in the Anglican Catechism, `I should renounce … the pomps and vanity of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh’.

[Page 237, line 20] shaw a small wood.

[Page 237, line 24] Serpentines a kind of cannon; in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries used largely as a ship’s gun.

[Page 237, line 31] Sebastianus Sebastian Cabot (c. 1476-1557); explorer and cartographer. He may have accompanied his father John on the voyage of exploration to North America (in 1497) which discovered Newfoundland.

[Page 238, line 16] murrain pestilence.

[Page 238, line 18] Black Death plague that ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351, with later recurrences.

[Page 238, line 28] iron cramps a small bar with the ends bent, used for holding together two pieces of masonry, timber, etc.

[Page 238, line 29] spaulty dry and brittle (Oxford English Dictionary).

[Page 239, line 2] ary one anyone.

[Page 239, line 15] hoy Oxford English Dictionary (quoting from Smyth, Sailor’s Word-book) gives: A small vessel, usually rigged as a sloop, and employed in carrying passengers and goods particularly in short distances, on the sea-coast.

[Page 240, line 5] pure pute clean, mere.

[Page 240, line 30] willow-tot clump of willow.

[Page 241, line 7] lither wicked (in this sense normally applied to persons, not objects).

[Page 241, line 10] demi-cannon a large gun of about 6 1/2 ” (16 cm.) bore.

[Page 241, line 27] howlet owl.

[Page 242, line 26] carrack a large cargo ship, also fitted for war.

[Page 2342, line 31] mell with interfere with.

[Page 243, line 27] dozened stupefied or dazed.

[Page 242, line 23] coil fuss.

[Page 245, line 24] old tod a crafty, fox-like person.

[Page 246, line 9] Our King went forth to Normandie opening line of the Victory at Agincourt (Percy’s Reliques, 2nd ser., Bk. x); also the tune to which it is sung.

[Page 250, line 13] vivers Rootlets

[Page 250, line 30] Silly Sussex ‘silly’ is used here in its archaic sense of `simple, innocent, homely’.