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There came a man from the neighbouring town,
At the well to fill his pail;
On the side of the well he rested it,
And he bade the stranger hail.
Now art thou a bachelor, stranger ? quoth he,
For, an if thou hast a wife,
The happiest draught thou hast drunk this day
That ever thou didst iu thy life.
Or has thy good woman, if one thou hast,
Ever here in Cornwall been?
For an if she have, I'll venture my life
She has drunk of the Well of St. Keyne.
I have left a good woman who never was here,
The stranger soon made reply;
But that my draught should be better for that,
I pray you answer me why?
St. Keyne, quoth the countryman, many a time
Drank of this crystal well,
And before the Angel summoned her
She laid on the water a spell.
If the husband, of this gifted well,
Should drink before his wife, A happy man thenceforth is hé,
For he shall be master for life.
But if the wife should drink of it first,
God help the husband then!
The stranger stoopt to the Well of St. Keyne,
And drank of the water again.
You drank of the well I warrant betimes ?
He to the countryman said :
But the countryman smil'd as the stranger spake,
And sheepishly shook his head.
I hasten'd as soon as the wedding was done,
And left my wife in the porch ;
But i' faith she had been wiser than I,
For she took a bottle to church.
TIT FOR TAT.
A mighty Elephant that swell’d the state
Of Xurengzebe the Great,
One day was taken by his driver
To drink and cool him in the river;
The driver on his neck was seated,
And as he rode along,
By some acquaintance in the throng,
With a ripe cocoa-nut was treated.
A cocoa nut's a pretty fruit enough,
But guarded by a shell both hard and tough :
The fellow tried, and tried, and tried,
Working and sweating,
Frowning and fretting,
To find out its inside,
And pick the kernel for his eating.
At length quite out of patience grown,
“Who'll reach me up (he cries) a stone
To break this plaguy shell?
But stay, I've here a solid bone,
May do perhaps as well.”
So half in earnest, half in jest,
He bang'd it on the forehead of his beast.
“To make my head an anvil (thought the creature)
Was never, certainly, the will of Nature;
So, master mine, you may repent:"
Then, shaking his broad ears, away he went;
The driver took him to the water,
And thought no more about the matter;
But Elephant within his memory hid it;
He felt the wrong—the other only did it.
A week or two elaps’d, one market-day
Again the beast and driver took their way;
Thro’ rows of shops and booths they pass’d,
With eatables and trinkets stor’d,
Till to a gard'ner's stall they came at last,
Where cocoa-nuts lay pil'd upon the board :
“Ha!” thought the Elephant, " 'tis now my turn
To try this method of nut-breaking; My friend above will have to learn,
Though at the cost of a head-aching."
Then in his curling trunk he took a heap,
Waving it o'er his neck with sudden sweep,
And on the hapless driver's sconce,
He laid a blow so hard and full,
That cracked the nuts at once,
But with them-cracked his skull!
The wind one morning sprang up from sleep,
Saying, “now for a frolic! now for a leap!
Now for a mad-cap galloping chase!
I'll make a commotion in every place !"
So it swept with a bustle right through a great town,
Creaking the signs, and scattering down
Shutters; and whisking, with merciless squalls,
Old women's bonnets and gingerbread stalls :
There never was heard a much louder shout,
As the apples and oranges trundled about.
Then away to the fields it went blustring and humming,
And the cattle all wonder'd whatever was coming.
So on it went, capering and playing its pranks,
Whistling the reeds on the broad river's banks;
Puffing the birds as they sat on the spray,
Or the traveller grave on the king's highway.
'Twas so bold that it feared not to play its joke
With the doctor's wig, or the gentleman's cloak.
Through the forest it roared, and cried gaily, “Now
You sturdy old oaks, I'll make you bow!”
Then it rushed like a monster on cottage and farm,
Striking their dwellers with sudden alarm;
And they ran out like bees in a midsummer swarm.
But the wind had pass'd on and had met in a lane,
With a school-boy who panted and struggled in vain;
For it toss'd him and twirl'd him, then pass’d, and he stood,
With his hat in a pool, and his shoe in the mud.
But away went the wind in his holiday glee,
And soon it was far on the billowy sea.
Then the stately ships felt its staggering blow,
And the little boats darted to and fro;
But lo! when the night came it sank to rest
On the sea-bird's rock in the gleaming west,
Laughing to think in its fearful fun
What various mischief it had done.
The Abbot arose, and closed his book,
And donned his sandal shoon,
And wandered forth alone, to look
Upon the summer moon:
A starlight sky was o'er his head,
A quiet breeze around;
And the flowers a thrilling fragrance shed :
And the waves a soothing sound :
It was not an hour, nor a scene, for aught
But love and calm delight;
Yet the holy man had a cloud of thought
On his wrinkled brow that night.
He gazed on the river that gurgled by,
But he thought not of the reeds ; He clasped his gilded rosary,
But he did not tell the beads :
If he looked up to Heaven, 'twas not to invoke
The Spirit that dwelleth there;
If he opened his lips, the words they spoke
Had never the tone of prayer.
A pious Priest might the Abbot seem,
He had swayed the crosier well;
But what was the theme of the Abbot's dream,
The Abbot were loth to tell.
The Abbot was weary as Abbot could be,
And he sat down to rest on the stump of a tree :
When suddenly rose a dismal tone-
Was it a song, or was it a moan?
“Oh, oh! Oh, oh!
Lightly and brightly they glide and go:
The hungry and keen to the top are leaping,
The lazy and fat in the depths are sleeping;
Fishing is fine when the pool is muddy,
Broiling is rich when the coals are ruddy!”
In a monstrous fright, by the murky light,
He looked to the left, and he looked to the right.
But what was the vision close before him,
That flung such a sudden stupor o'er him ?
'Twas a sight to make his hair uprise,
And the life-blood colder run:
The startled Priest struck both his thighs,
And the Abbey clock struck one!
All alone, by the side of the pool,
A tall man sat on a three-legged stool,
Kicking his heels on the dewy sod,
And putting in order his reel and rod.
Red were the rags his shoulders wore,
And a high red cap on his head he bore;
His arms and his legs were long and bare;
And two or three locks of long red hair
Were tossing about his scraggy neck,
Like a tattered flag o'er a splitting wreck.
Pulling and tugging the Fisherman sat;
When he hauled out a gentleman, fine and fat,
With a nose as red as a comet.
“A capital stew,” the Fisherman said,
“ With Cinnamon and sherry!”
There was turning of keys, and creaking of locks,
As he took forth a bait from his iron box.
Many the cunning sportsman tried,
Many he fluny with a frown aside;
A minstrel's harp, and a miser's chest,
A hermit's cowl, and a baron's crest,
And golden cups of the brightest wine
That ever was pressed from the Burgundy vine.
There was a perfume of sulphur and nitre,
As he came at last to a bishop's mitre !
From top to toe the Abbot shook,
As the Fisherman armed a golden hook;
And awfully were his features wrought
By some dark dream, or wakened thought.
Look how the fearful felon gazes
On the scaffold his country's vengeance raises,
When the lips are cracked, and the jaws are dry,
With the thirst which only in death shall die.
Wilder far was the Abbot's glance,
Deeper far was the Abbot's trance :
Fixed as a monument, still as air,
He bent no knee, and he breathed no prayer;
But he signed,-he knew not why or how,-
The sign of the Cross on his clammy brow.
"Oh, oh! Oh, oh!
The cock doth crow;
It is time for the Fisher to rise and go.
There was turning of keys, and creaking of locks,
As he stalked away with his iron box.
The Abbot had preached for many years,
With as clear articulation
As ever was heard in the House of Peers
Against Emancipation :
His words had made battalions quake,
Had roused the zeal of martyrs;
Had kept the Court an hour awake,
And the king himself three-quarters : But ever, from that hour, 'tis said,
He stammered and he stuttered,
As if an axe went through his head,
With every word he uttered.
He stuttered o’er blessing, he stuttered o'er ban,
He stuttered, drunk or dry,
And none but he and the Fisherman
Could tell the reason why! W. M. PRAED.