Young Jacob Mutton was servant to William Hicks. Not teacher Billy Hicks of Bodmin who was such a good storyteller that Dickens took him to London to entertain his friends, but preacher Hicks, Rector of Cardinham, a small village on the edge of the moor near Bodmin. Reverened Hicks had a good few servants at his beck and call, fetching and carrying, plating and waiting, a flock of servants standing tall and andsome as befitting a man of his social standing. Young Jacob Mutton was one of them, he was happy, healthy, honest and hard working and after a hard days work he was ready for bed at 8 oclock.
One May Sunday evening, he climbed the stairs to the attic bedroom he shared with another servant lad, and dog tired he began to undress. He was just pulling off his woolly socks when he heard a voice calling
“So hoe, so hoe, so hoe.” He looked over to his room mate but he was already snoring, not shouting.
Then the voice cried again “So hoe, so hoe, so hoe.” Jacob was puzzled.. it was nearly dark, far too late to be gardening.. he followed the voice into the next room. It seemed to be coming from outside. Maybe it was a phantom gardener, hoeing the rectory garden. Jacob went to the window, opened it to lean out to see if anyone was outside, clasping the iron window bar to stop himself falling out,
and next think he new, it was morning, and he was lying dazed and confused in a hedge cluthcing the window bar.
A group of strangers walked by and Jacob called out 'Where am I? Whats that smell?'.
Strangers said ' Thats ransoms, wild garlic to you..and you'm near Stratton. We'm off to Strattton Fayre, come with us'.
'Stratton? Gedon..Strattons miles from where I live, I cant be there'.
Strangers said ' You are at Stratton boy. We'm off to Stratton Fayre,come with us'
Jacob tagged along to Stratton Fair, didn't know what else to do, but a fairs no fun with no money in your pocket and no socks on your feet, and happy Jacob got sadder by the minute. He left the iron bar in the hedge, didn't want folk thinking he was spoiling for a fight. When the fair was done strangers set Jacob on the long pilgrims road to Camelford, and after another garlic night in a hedge |Jacob walked back to Cardinham, arriving Tuesday morning.
'Where you'm be boy?' cried his Rector, his roommate, his fellow servants who had all been so worried
by Jacob's disappearance.' Open window, crossbar on the ground but no you'
'I've been to Stratton, market town over other side of the moor. No idea how I got there..but my poor sore feet tell me how I got back.' and Jacob went to get bowl of water to soak his feet and a fresh pair of socks....'
'Stratton.. thats Bevill ,the Kings General, Grenville's, home. If I'd have know you were going I would have sent my regards.' rumbled the Rector.
Jacob never did remember how he got to Stratton, and all he had to show for his adventure was a liking for wild garlic chopped in his salads, sprinkled in his stew, wrapped around his poor sore feet. It was a mystery.
Some say he was abducted by aliens and thrown out of their flying saucer on the other side of Cornwall when they couldnt work out what to do with him.
Some say his mysterious journey was a case of teleportation, and he had flown high above the woods and bogs, tors and moors until he came to Stratton.
But some of us know that Cornwall is a land of giants, and that Bevill Grenville, the Kings General, had a giant for a servant, name of Anthony Payne. In the year of Jacob's journey Anthony Payne was an old, old giant and needed a servant of his own to care for him. Giants look after their own , and rumour had it that an old giant, Soho, went looking for a servant for old Payne. He peered in many
attic windows until he spotted Jacob, and thought he would do, so he grabbed him window bar and all and strode over Bodmin Moor from south to north and took him all the way to Stratton. Old Anthony
didn't much like the look of the young servant, so Jacob ended up on the reject pile among wild garlic.
retold by Sue Field