Read CHAPTER FOUR - LOST ON THE TOR. of Will of the Mill , free online book, by George Manville Fenn, on

“Well, go and ask Mr Manners to come up, then,” said Mr Willows, one morning a few days later, as Will and Josh stood waiting; “that is,” he went on, “if you really think that he would like to come.  I should be very pleased to see him.  But don’t worry the man.”

“Oh, I’m sure he would, father,” said Will; “wouldn’t he, Josh?”

“Yes,” said Josh, quickly.  “I know he’s been wanting to see the place.”

“He’s thrown out hints,” said Will.

“Oh, has he?” said the mill-owner, with a smile.  “Thrown out hints, eh?  Well, I shall be delighted to see him.  But I thought you two chaps were not on very good terms with him.”

“Oh yes, father; it’s all right now.  Of course we thought that he was only a painter, but he is really a splendid chap.  Come on, Josh; we’ll get him to come up now.”

“Only a painter,” said Mr Willows, with a laugh, as he looked after them.

The two lads started for the cottage where the artist, who was making picture after picture of the neighbourhood, took his meals ­when, that is, he did not picnic in the open, which was fairly frequently ­and where he slept ­and one could sleep in that crisp mountain air.

“No, my dears,” said Mrs Drinkwater, who had come down to the little white gate to speak to them, “Mr Manners is out, I am very sorry.”

“Oh!” said Will.

“Where’s he gone?” asked Josh.

“He went off very early this morning, sir,” said the woman.  “He told me to cut him some sandwiches.  He said that I would be away all day, as he was going as far as the Tor.”

“And never asked us!” cried Josh.  “What a jolly shame!”

“Humph!  It is a pity,” said Will, and he turned away.  “I say, why shouldn’t we go after him?”

“Perhaps he doesn’t want us.”

“Nonsense!” said Will.

“Then let’s go.  I’m willing, only I thought you would say that it was too far.”

“It’s you that would say that.”

“Bosh!” said Josh.

“Go on.  Be funny.  Bosh, Josh!  That’s a joke, I suppose.”

“Oh, all right; I’m ready,” said Josh.  “But it is no end of a long way.”

“Why, we’ve been there lots of times before now.”

“Yes, but we started early in the morning.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Will.  “I have been wanting to go there again for a long time.”

The Great Gray Tor was surrounded by mists which were wreathed round it half-way up, while the dark summit peering out above the vapour looked like some vast head emerging from a miniature sea.

“It’s glorious,” said Will, as the two boys got away into the wild rugged country, clothed here and there with marshes where numbers of flowers were growing luxuriantly, their blooms making bright splashes of colour.  “Fancy his wanting to paint all this, though!”

“Oh, I believe he would paint anything.”

“Well, he will soon have finished everything here.  He’s done the mill, and the sunsets, and old Drinkwater’s cottage.  There will be nothing left soon for him to daub.”

“Oh, yes; there will,” said Josh, knowingly, as they trudged on.  “I heard my father talking about it.  He said these artist chaps had a new way of looking at everything each day of their lives.  So that means that he will want to paint everything all over again.  Glad I am not an artist.  I don’t like doing things over again.”

“Ho!” said Will.  “I don’t care.”

“No more do I,” said Josh, “for I’m not an artist and I am not going to be one.  But what are you staring at?”

“I’ve lost the way,” said Will, at last.

“Ditto,” said Josh.  “Have you really?  Shout.  Mr Manners might hear.”

“You shout.”

Josh did so.

“Bah!  Nobody could hear that.”

Josh shouted once more.

“Shout again,” said Will.

“No, you have a try.  I shall be hoarse.”

“All right then. ­Mr Manners ­ahoy!”

“He won’t hear the Mister,” said Josh, scornfully.

“No, of course not,” said Will.  “Manners ­ahoy!”

“Ahoy!” came in a faint whisper.

“It’s an echo,” said Josh.

“Well, I know that, stupid.”

“He may have come round another way,” hazarded Josh.

“May anything,” said Will.  “But I don’t believe there is another way. ­ Mr Manners! ­Ahoy!” he shouted.

“Ahoy-oy?” came back faintly again.


“It is only the echo.  Seems too foolish to lose your way in a place like this.”

“Good as anywhere else,” said Josh, cheerily.  “But there’s the Tor, and there’s Mr Manners.”

“Where is he?” said Will, sharply.

“Why, at the Tor.”

“Ugh!  There, come on.  None of your jokes.”

“Well, we can’t be far wrong,” said Josh.

“We might be miles out,” said Will; “and it will be dark soon.  We were precious stupids to come all this way on the bare chance of meeting him.  He may have gone off home.”

“Then we should have been sure to meet him.”

“Why?” said Will.

“Because he would have come this way.  It’s the only safe one, on account of the bogs.  Somewhere near here a man and a horse were swallowed up once.”

“Don’t believe it,” said Will.

“You ask father.”

It was steady uphill work now; then real climbing; here and there their way was checked by a miniature heather-crowned crater, down which they peered, to see stony ledges and then a sheer fall.

“He is only an ignorant Londoner after all,” said Will, thoughtfully, as they scrambled on.  “He might have let himself fall down one of those places.”

“Any one might do that,” said Josh.  “Hark!  What’s that?”

“Didn’t hear anything,” said Will.

“That’s because you don’t listen.  Now!” said Josh, sharply.

Will uttered a cry.

“Yes,” he said, excitedly.

“You heard it?”

“Yes, yes!”

There was a groan.

“There!” cried Will.  “It’s Mr Manners, and something’s happened to him. ­Manners! ­Ahoy!”

No answer came.

“Wouldn’t be having a game with us, would he?”

“No,” said Josh.  “I don’t think he’d do that.”

“Then let’s go on a bit farther.”

The late afternoon sun lit up the valley away to the left, which the Tor had hitherto concealed from their view.  They scrambled on in the heat over the rough stone escarpments and amidst the gorse.

“Now, let’s listen again,” said Will.

They halted, and Josh wiped his streaming face.

“Shout again,” he said huskily.

“Shall I?”


“Manners! ­Ahoy!” shouted Will.

There was no response.

“Perhaps it wasn’t he,” said Josh.

“Perhaps he’s so busy painting something or another that he hasn’t been able to hear.”

“Oh, perhaps anything,” said Will.  “Come on, I am certain now.  It’s that big cleft where we found the stonechats.  He will have fallen down there, paint and all.”

“Help!” came faintly now.  “Help ­help!”

“Hear that?” panted Josh, looking scared, and then radiant.

“Yes,” said Will; “I hear.  He’s in danger.”  And the two lads tore on as fast as they could up the steep slippery incline.