Mrs Becher's Diary

 

Henry Cakebread

Henry Cakebread had ‘Bats in the Belfry’ & he had them badly. Schoolmaster and Church warden for many years, he was now living in retirement in the house next [to] the schools; with his wife & daughter. He was a short bald little man, with red cheeks and a long nose & he attended morning service in Church very regularly.

One Sunday, a stranger was preaching. There was terrible storm of thunder and lightning & shattering peals broke over our heads at intervals. Suddenly, during a moment of quiet, there was an ominous sound just above & for a moment many of us thought that a part of the roof was falling in on us.  It must have been several loose slates clattering down at the same time. To stress a point in his sermon, the preacher used it as a parable: ‘The hand of the Lord upon the sinful’ – loudly came the immediate reply from Henry Cakebread ‘You are a liar’. Consternation reigned and a breath-taking silence. Then Mrs Prynne, lately come to the village & understanding the circumstances not at all, rushed in where angels would have feared to tread.  She rose in her place & pointing a finger at him shouted: ‘you naughty man, leave the Church at once’.

Fortunately Mr Long, who knew Mr Cakebread & his weaknesses, went quietly to the old man & with one of his sweet smiles, gently led him down the aisle & out into the storm.

Note: Henry Cakebread was elected Churchwarden eighteen times from 1892.