The Field of Rape
They say this field is haunted land
Because a mill by river grand,
Once held a story old and bleak
Of a father’s loss, a son’s deceit.
It happened many years ago
When a miller to his mill did go
And from his favourite look-out spot
Became the centre of the plot.
It came to pass the river here
In early days once held a weir
And people found it hard to cross
But walking round was such a loss.
The river fed to tidal streams,
(The sea was nearer then it seems),
And at full moon it sometimes gave
The villagers a chance to wade
But if you got the timing wrong
You’d face a current very strong,
And foolish was the lass who tried
To wade her way to t’other side.
A maiden with her sacks for corn
Had left departure ‘til the morn
And trapped upon the river bank
Was far too frightened less she sank,
And now the horror of this tale
Begins upon this maiden’s wail,
For passing was a farmer lad
With reputation very bad.
And hearing of her cry of woe
Showed the maid a way to go
“Come my wench, hang on to me
And I’ll get you across you’ll see”.
But now within his vice-like grip
This wretched rogue her dress did rip
And thinking no one was around,
Forced the maid upon the ground.
The miller working way off far,
Behind the mill door kept ajar,
Saw this wretched loathsome cur
Then have his wicked way with her.
He knew there simply wasn’t time
To stop the lad commit his crime
Or catch the rascal at his deed
And help the maiden in her need.
But then this ruthless farmer boy
Threw the maiden like a toy,
Into the torrent of the race
And then ran off at quite a pace.
The miller ran to where she fell
But knew that he would have to tell
The locals of his dreadful fear
That she’d been drowned within the weir.
But did he mention all he saw?
No, for there was plenty more
For he had recognised this lad
From the jacket that he had
But couldn't bear to lay the blame
Upon the son that bore his name.
And so he laid the maiden’s plight
Upon her crossing late at night.
The miller knew the river’s way
Of sweeping everything away
And said she’d tried to wade across
Resulting in her dreadful loss.
But when his son came to the mill
He questioned him at length until
The lad knew there was no escape
So this suggestion did he make
‘You’re right, I now admit my guilt,
Let’s say she slipped and fell in silt
I’m pleading, Dad, for you to lie,
To save my neck so I don’t die.
But his dad would take no part
And held a very heavy heart
And told his son to leave his home,
His wicked act he’d not condone.
This loathsome lad got volatile,
(His temper could be very vile),
And grabbed the miller by the neck
And threw him down upon the deck
And stamped upon his heaving chest
And tried to do his level best
To stop his father telling all
And thus prevent the gibbet’s call.
The miller grabbed a pipe of lead
And hit his son upon the head
Who lost his footing on the floor
And fell towards the open door,
A doorway to the river torrent
Which took this villain, so abhorrent,
And down he plunged to face his doom
Within the river’s icy tomb,
And when his body washed downstream
The locals took his death to mean
That yet another luckless soul
Had wrestled with the water’s roll.
The locals now were most afraid,
It wasn’t safe to cross ‘the wade’,
They wanted mills on t’other side
Where river flow was not so wide.
In walking round the longer way
(There was no bridge there like today)
A ploughman’s day was almost lost
And this was at too great a cost
So with new mills upon the bank
The miller’s fortunes slowly sank.
For now he had a lot to mourn
He’d lost his son and half his corn.
He readied now for Judgement Day
When typhoid carried him away
And in his mill he left a note
Revealing all to village folk,
He’d never even told his wife
His sorry tale of rape and strife,
For fear that he would lose her love
A greater fear than all above.
But she had guessed what happened there
Finding in her dead son’s hair
Corn kernels like those in the mill
And very much against her will,
But frightened of the hurtful truth,
Had hidden this condemning proof.
She had not guessed of evil rape,
But thought the miller’s story fake,
And now she knew the dreadful facts
About her son and all his acts,
She packed her bags and went away
This widowed lady, old and grey.
But on a cold and windless night
The locals hear the miller’s plight,
Of creaking doors and grinding wheel,
Which sound like they are almost real,
And so they say ‘tis haunted land,
It’s just as though the maiden planned
The field be used for growing rape
To keep the miller’s ghost awake.