The Peddler of Swaffham

The Peddler of Swaffham

16 June 2015,   By ,   0 Comments

A tale from England

Long ago, in the village of Swaffham, in the county of Norfolk, in England, there lived a peddler who had the same dream night after night after night. In his sleep he heard a voice that told him to go to London Bridge and there to stand until he would hear joyful news.

At first the peddler paid little attention to the dream.  For him to go to London would take him several days of walking and he’d have to sleep in barns or under hedges, along the way for he was a very poor man.

But the dream persisted night after night after night.  The voice was so insistent that the peddler became very upset and worried.  He dreaded going upstairs to bed.  At last he said to his wife, “It is no use.  I shall have to go to London and stand on London Bridge or I shall know no peace for the rest of my life.”

He packed a few belongings, some food for himself and his little dog, a little money and walked the long road to London.  In those days London Bridge was a bustling

place with houses and shops on either side.  For several days the peddler stood on the bridge, first in one spot and then another, but no one spoke to him and no one gave him joyful news.

“I was a fool to come,” he told himself, but still he waited and waited.

Finally, when he had nothing but a crust of bread left in his pocket and he was just about to leave to go back to his village, a shopkeeper stepped from his shop and came and spoke to him.

“Please satisfy my curiosity,” said the shopkeeper.  “I have seen you here for several days past.  You do not beg, you do not pick pockets, you are not selling anything.  Why are you standing here?”

The peddler replied honestly that he had had a dream that told him to go and stand on London Bridge and wait to hear joyful news.
The shopkeeper burst out laughing. “What a fool you are to take notice of such dreams!” he said.  “Why, I keep having a dream that says if I go to a place called Swaffham – a place I know nothing of – and ask for the peddler’s house and go into the orchard behind the back of the house and dig under a great oak tree, that I shall find a hoard of treasure.  What nonsense!  I am sure that if I took any notice of that dream, I should make a long journey to that unknown place and when I got there, find nothing.  Go home, my foolish friend, and take no notice of your dreams.”

At once the peddler hurried home to Swaffham.  He went into the orchard at the back of his house and dug under the great oak tree where he found a chest filled with treasure.  And so he was wealthy for the rest of his life.

Being a generous man, the peddler gave some of the money to the local church for repairs and inside it he had a statue raised of himself with his pack on his back and his dog at his heels, walking towards London Bridge, where he had indeed heard joyful news.

If, some day, you go to that village of Swaffham in the county of Norfolk, in England and you go to that church, you will see that statue.

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