Part 1 out of 5
REWARDS AND FAIRIES
The Two Cousins
The Wrong Thing
A Truthful Song
King Henry VII and the Shipwrights
The Way through the Woods
The Knife and the Naked Chalk
The Run of the Downs
Song of the Men's Side
'A Priest in Spite of Himself'
A St Helena Lullaby
'Poor Honest Men'
The Conversion of St Wilfrid
Song of the Red War-Boat
A Doctor of Medicine
An Astrologer's Song
'Our Fathers of Old'
The Thousandth Man
The Tree of Justice
The Ballad of Minepit Shaw
Take of English earth as much
As either hand may rightly clutch.
In the taking of it breathe
Prayer for all who lie beneath -
Not the great nor well-bespoke,
But the mere uncounted folk
Of whose life and death is none
Report or lamentation.
Lay that earth upon thy heart,
And thy sickness shall depart!
It shall sweeten and make whole
Fevered breath and festered soul;
It shall mightily restrain
Over-busy hand and brain;
it shall ease thy mortal strife
'Gainst the immortal woe of life,
Till thyself restored shall prove
By what grace the Heavens do move.
Take of English flowers these -
Spring's full-faced primroses,
Summer's wild wide-hearted rose,
Autumn's wall-flower of the close,
And, thy darkness to illume,
Winter's bee-thronged ivy-bloom.
Seek and serve them where they bide
From Candlemas to Christmas-tide,
For these simples used aright
Shall restore a failing sight.
These shall cleanse and purify
Webbed and inward-turning eye;
These shall show thee treasure hid,
Thy familiar fields amid,
At thy threshold, on thy hearth,
Or about thy daily path;
And reveal (which is thy need)
Every man a King indeed!
Once upon a time, Dan and Una, brother and sister, living in the
English country, had the good fortune to meet with Puck, alias
Robin Goodfellow, alias Nick o' Lincoln, alias Lob-lie-by-the-
Fire, the last survivor in England of those whom mortals call
Fairies. Their proper name, of course, is 'The People of the Hills'.
This Puck, by means of the magic of Oak, Ash, and Thorn, gave
the children power
To see what they should see and hear what they should hear,
Though it should have happened three thousand year.
The result was that from time to time, and in different places on
the farm and in the fields and in the country about, they saw and
talked to some rather interesting people. One of these, for
instance, was a Knight of the Norman Conquest, another a young
Centurion of a Roman Legion stationed in England, another a
builder and decorator of King Henry VII's time; and so on and so
forth; as I have tried to explain in a book called PUCK OF POOK'S HILL.
A year or so later, the children met Puck once more, and
though they were then older and wiser, and wore boots regularly
instead of going barefooted when they got the chance, Puck was
as kind to them as ever, and introduced them to more people of
the old days.
He was careful, of course, to take away their memory of their
walks and conversations afterwards, but otherwise he did not
interfere; and Dan and Una would find the strangest sort of
persons in their gardens or woods.
In the stories that follow I am trying to tell something about
When Dan and Una had arranged to go out before breakfast, they
did not remember that it was Midsummer Morning. They only
wanted to see the otter which, old Hobden said, had been fishing
their brook for weeks; and early morning was the time to surprise
him. As they tiptoed out of the house into the wonderful stillness,
the church clock struck five. Dan took a few steps across the
dew-blobbed lawn, and looked at his black footprints.
'I think we ought to be kind to our poor boots,'he said. 'They'll
get horrid wet.'
it was their first summer in boots, and they hated them, so they
took them off, and slung them round their necks, and paddled
joyfully over the dripping turf where the shadows lay the wrong
way, like evening in the East.
The sun was well up and warm, but by the brook the last of the
night mist still fumed off the water. They picked up the chain of
otter's footprints on the mud, and followed it from the bank,
between the weeds and the drenched mowing, while the birds
shouted with surprise. Then the track left the brook and became a
smear, as though a log had been dragged along.
They traced it into Three Cows meadow, over the mill-sluice
to the Forge, round Hobden's garden, and then up the slope till it
ran out on the short turf and fern of Pook's Hill, and they heard
the cock-pheasants crowing in the woods behind them.
'No use!' said Dan, questing like a puzzled hound. 'The dew's
drying off, and old Hobden says otters'll travel for miles.'
'I'm sure we've travelled miles.' Una fanned herself with her
hat. 'How still it is! It's going to be a regular roaster.' She looked
down the valley, where no chimney yet smoked.
'Hobden's up!' Dan pointed to the open door of the Forge
cottage. 'What d'you suppose he has for breakfast?'
'One of them. He says they eat good all times of the year,' Una
jerked her head at some stately pheasants going down to the
brook for a drink.
A few steps farther on a fox broke almost under their bare feet,
yapped, and trotted off.
'Ah, Mus' Reynolds -Mus' Reynolds'-Dan was quoting from
old Hobden, - 'if I knowed all you knowed, I'd know something.' [See 'The
Winged Hats' in PUCK OF POOK'S HILL.]
I say,' - Una lowered her voice -'you know that funny feeling of
things having happened before. I felt it when you said "Mus' Reynolds."'
'So did I,' Dan began. 'What is it?'
They faced each other, stammering with excitement.
'Wait a shake! I'll remember in a minute. Wasn't it something
about a fox - last year? Oh, I nearly had it then!' Dan cried.
'Be quiet!' said Una, prancing excitedly. 'There was something
happened before we met the fox last year. Hills! Broken Hills -
the play at the theatre - see what you see -'
'I remember now,' Dan shouted. 'It's as plain as the nose on
your face - Pook's Hill - Puck's Hill - Puck!'
'I remember, too,' said Una. 'And it's Midsummer Day again!'
The young fern on a knoll rustled, and Puck walked out,
chewing a green-topped rush.
'Good Midsummer Morning to you! Here's a happy meeting,'
said he. They shook hands all round, and asked questions.
'You've wintered well,' he said after a while, and looked them
up and down. 'Nothing much wrong with you, seemingly.'
'They've put us into boots,' said Una. 'Look at my feet -
they're all pale white, and my toes are squidged together awfully.'
'Yes - boots make a difference.' Puck wriggled his brown,
square, hairy foot, and cropped a dandelion flower between the
big toe and the next.
'I could do that - last year,' Dan said dismally, as he tried and
failed. 'And boots simply ruin one's climbing.'
'There must be some advantage to them, I suppose,'said Puck,
or folk wouldn't wear them. Shall we come this way?'
They sauntered along side by side till they reached the gate at
the far end of the hillside. Here they halted just like cattle, and let
the sun warm their backs while they listened to the flies in the wood.
'Little Lindens is awake,' said Una, as she hung with her chin
on the top rail. 'See the chimney smoke?'
'Today's Thursday, isn't it?' Puck turned to look at the old pink
farmhouse across the little valley. 'Mrs Vincey's baking day.
Bread should rise well this weather.' He yawned, and that set
them both yawning.
The bracken about rustled and ticked and shook in every direction.
They felt that little crowds were stealing past.
'Doesn't that sound like - er - the People of the Hills?'said Una.
'It's the birds and wild things drawing up to the woods before
people get about,' said Puck, as though he were Ridley the keeper.
'Oh, we know that. I only said it sounded like.'
'As I remember 'em, the People of the Hills used to make more
noise. They'd settle down for the day rather like small birds
settling down for the night. But that was in the days when they
carried the high hand. Oh, me! The deeds that I've had act and
part in, you'd scarcely believe!'
'I like that!' said Dan. 'After all you told us last year, too!'
'Only, the minute you went away, you made us forget
everything,' said Una.
Puck laughed and shook his head. 'I shall this year, too. I've
given you seizin of Old England, and I've taken away your Doubt
and Fear, but your memory and remembrance between whiles I'll
keep where old Billy Trott kept his night-lines - and that's where
he could draw 'em up and hide 'em at need. Does that suit?' He
'It's got to suit,'said Una, and laughed. 'We Can't magic back at
you.' She folded her arms and leaned against the gate. 'Suppose,
now, you wanted to magic me into something - an otter? Could you?'
'Not with those boots round your neck.'
'I'll take them off.' She threw them on the turf. Dan's followed
immediately. 'Now!' she said.
'Less than ever now you've trusted me. Where there's true
faith, there's no call for magic.' Puck's slow smile broadened all
over his face.
'But what have boots to do with it?' said Una, perching on the gate.
'There's Cold Iron in them,' said Puck, and settled beside her.
'Nails in the soles, I mean. It makes a difference.'
'Can't you feel it does? You wouldn't like to go back to bare
feet again, same as last year, would you? Not really?'
'No-o. I suppose I shouldn't - not for always. I'm growing
up, you know,' said Una.
'But you told us last year, in the Long Slip - at the theatre - that
you didn't mind Cold Iron,'said Dan.
'I don't; but folks in housen, as the People of the Hills call them,
must be ruled by Cold Iron. Folk in housen are born on the near
side of Cold Iron - there's iron 'in every man's house, isn't there?
They handle Cold Iron every day of their lives, and their fortune's
made or spoilt by Cold Iron in some shape or other. That's how it
goes with Flesh and Blood, and one can't prevent it.'
'I don't quite see. How do you mean?'said Dan.
'It would take me some time to tell you.'
'Oh, it's ever so long to breakfast,' said Dan. 'We looked in the
larder before we came out.' He unpocketed one big hunk of bread
and Una another, which they shared with Puck.
'That's Little Lindens' baking,' he said, as his white teeth sunk
in it. 'I know Mrs Vincey's hand.' He ate with a slow sideways
thrust and grind, just like old Hobden, and, like Hobden, hardly
dropped a crumb. The sun flashed on Little Lindens' windows,
and the cloudless sky grew stiller and hotter in the valley.
'AH - Cold Iron,' he said at last to the impatient children. 'Folk
in housen, as the People of the Hills say, grow careless about Cold
Iron. They'll nail the Horseshoe over the front door, and forget to
put it over the back. Then, some time or other, the People of the
Hills slip in, find the cradle-babe in the corner, and -'
'Oh, I know. Steal it and leave a changeling,'Una cried.
'No,' said Puck firmly. 'All that talk of changelings is people's
excuse for their own neglect. Never believe 'em. I'd whip 'em at
the cart-tail through three parishes if I had my way.'
'But they don't do it now,' said Una.
'Whip, or neglect children? Umm! Some folks and some fields
never alter. But the People of the Hills didn't work any changeling
tricks. They'd tiptoe in and whisper and weave round the
cradle-babe in the chimney-corner - a fag-end of a charm here, or
half a spell there - like kettles singing; but when the babe's mind
came to bud out afterwards, it would act differently from other
people in its station. That's no advantage to man or maid. So I
wouldn't allow it with my folks' babies here. I told Sir Huon so
'Who was Sir Huon?' Dan asked, and Puck turned on him in
'Sir Huon of Bordeaux - he succeeded King Oberon. He had
been a bold knight once, but he was lost on the road to Babylon, a
long while back. Have you ever heard "How many miles to
'Of course,' said Dan, flushing.
'Well, Sir Huon was young when that song was new. But
about tricks on mortal babies. I said to Sir Huon in the fern here,
on just such a morning as this: "If you crave to act and influence
on folk in housen, which I know is your desire, why don't you
take some human cradle-babe by fair dealing, and bring him up
among yourselves on the far side of Cold Iron - as Oberon did in
time past? Then you could make him a splendid fortune, and send
him out into the world."
'"Time past is past time," says Sir Huon. "I doubt if we could
do it. For one thing, the babe would have to be taken without
wronging man, woman, or child. For another, he'd have to be
born on the far side of Cold Iron - in some house where no Cold
Iron ever stood; and for yet the third, he'd have to be kept from
Cold Iron all his days till we let him find his fortune. No, it's not
easy," he said, and he rode off, thinking. You see, Sir Huon had
been a man once.
'I happened to attend Lewes Market next Woden's Day even,
and watched the slaves being sold there - same as pigs are sold at
Robertsbridge Market nowadays. Only, the pigs have rings on
their noses, and the slaves had rings round their necks.'
'What sort of rings?' said Dan.
'A ring of Cold Iron, four fingers wide, and a thumb thick, just
like a quoit, but with a snap to it for to snap round the slave's
neck. They used to do a big trade in slave-rings at the Forge here,
and ship them to all parts of Old England, packed in oak sawdust.
But, as I was saying, there was a farmer out of the Weald who had
bought a woman with a babe in her arms, and he didn't want any
encumbrances to her driving his beasts home for him.'
'Beast himself!' said Una, and kicked her bare heel on the gate.
'So he blamed the auctioneer. "It's none o' my baby," the
wench puts in. "I took it off a woman in our gang who died on
Terrible Down yesterday." "I'll take it off to the church then,"
says the farmer. "Mother Church'll make a monk of it, and we'll
step along home."
'It was dusk then. He slipped down to St Pancras' Church, and
laid the babe at the cold chapel door. I breathed on the back of his
stooping neck - and - I've heard he never could be warm at any fire
afterwards. I should have been surprised if he could! Then I
whipped up the babe, and came flying home here like a bat to his
'On the dewy break of morning of Thor's own day -just such a
day as this - I laid the babe outside the Hill here, and the People
flocked up and wondered at the sight.
'"You've brought him, then?" Sir Huon said, staring like any
'"Yes, and he's brought his mouth with him, too," I said. The
babe was crying loud for his breakfast.
'"What is he?" says Sir Huon, when the womenfolk had
drawn him under to feed him.
'"Full Moon and Morning Star may know," I says. "I don't.
By what I could make out of him in the moonlight, he's without
brand or blemish. I'll answer for it that he's born on the far side of
Cold Iron, for he was born under a shaw on Terrible Down, and
I've wronged neither man, woman, nor child in taking him, for
he is the son of a dead slave-woman.
'"All to the good, Robin," Sir Huon said. "He'll be the less
anxious to leave us. Oh, we'll give him a splendid fortune, and we
shall act and influence on folk in housen as we have always
craved." His Lady came up then, and drew him under to watch
the babe's wonderful doings.'
'Who was his Lady?'said Dan.
'The Lady Esclairmonde. She had been a woman once, till she
followed Sir Huon across the fern, as we say. Babies are no special
treat to me - I've watched too many of them - so I stayed on the
Hill. Presently I heard hammering down at the Forge there.'Puck
pointed towards Hobden's cottage. 'It was too early for any
workmen, but it passed through my mind that the breaking day
was Thor's own day. A slow north-east wind blew up and set the
oaks sawing and fretting in a way I remembered; so I slipped over
to see what I could see.'
'And what did you see?'
'A smith forging something or other out of Cold Iron. When it
was finished, he weighed it in his hand (his back was towards me),
and tossed it from him a longish quoit-throw down the valley. I
saw Cold Iron flash in the sun, but I couldn't quite make out
where it fell. That didn't trouble me. I knew it would be found
sooner or later by someone.'
'How did you know?'Dan went on.
'Because I knew the Smith that made it,' said Puck quietly.
'Wayland Smith?' Una suggested. [See 'Weland's Sword' in PUCK
OF POOK'S HILL.]
'No. I should have passed the time o' day with Wayland Smith,
of course. This other was different. So' - Puck made a queer
crescent in the air with his finger - 'I counted the blades of grass
under my nose till the wind dropped and he had gone - he and his
'Was it Thor then?' Una murmured under her breath.
'Who else? It was Thor's own day.' Puck repeated the sign. 'I
didn't tell Sir Huon or his Lady what I'd seen. Borrow trouble for
yourself if that's your nature, but don't lend it to your neighbours.
Moreover, I might have been mistaken about the Smith's
work. He might have been making things for mere amusement,
though it wasn't like him, or he might have thrown away an old
piece of made iron. One can never be sure. So I held my tongue
and enjoyed the babe. He was a wonderful child - and the People
of the Hills were so set on him, they wouldn't have believed me.
He took to me wonderfully. As soon as he could walk he'd putter
forth with me all about my Hill here. Fern makes soft falling! He
knew when day broke on earth above, for he'd thump, thump,
thump, like an old buck-rabbit in a bury, and I'd hear him say
"Opy!" till some one who knew the Charm let him out, and then
it would be "Robin! Robin!" all round Robin Hood's barn, as we
say, till he'd found me.'
'The dear!' said Una. 'I'd like to have seen him!'
'Yes, he was a boy. And when it came to learning his words -
spells and such-like - he'd sit on the Hill in the long shadows,
worrying out bits of charms to try on passersby. And when the
bird flew to him, or the tree bowed to him for pure love's sake
(like everything else on my Hill), he'd shout, "Robin! Look -see!
Look, see, Robin!" and sputter out some spell or other that they
had taught him, all wrong end first, till I hadn't the heart to tell
him it was his own dear self and not the words that worked the
wonder. When he got more abreast of his words, and could cast
spells for sure, as we say, he took more and more notice of things
and people in the world. People, of course, always drew him, for
he was mortal all through.
'Seeing that he was free to move among folk in housen, under
or over Cold Iron, I used to take him along with me, night-
walking, where he could watch folk, and I could keep him from
touching Cold Iron. That wasn't so difficult as it sounds, because
there are plenty of things besides Cold Iron in housen to catch a
boy's fancy. He was a handful, though! I shan't forget when I took
him to Little Lindens - his first night under a roof. The smell of
the rushlights and the bacon on the beams - they were stuffing a
feather-bed too, and it was a drizzling warm night - got into his
head. Before I could stop him -we were hiding in the bakehouse -
he'd whipped up a storm of wildfire, with flashlights and voices,
which sent the folk shrieking into the garden, and a girl overset a
hive there, and - of course he didn't know till then such things
could touch him - he got badly stung, and came home with his
face looking like kidney potatoes!
'You can imagine how angry Sir Huon and Lady Esclairmonde
were with poor Robin! They said the Boy was never to be trusted
with me night-walking any more - and he took about as much
notice of their order as he did of the bee-stings. Night after night,
as soon as it was dark, I'd pick up his whistle in the wet fern, and
off we'd flit together among folk in housen till break of day - he
asking questions, and I answering according to my knowledge.
Then we fell into mischief again!'Puck shook till the gate rattled.
'We came across a man up at Brightling who was beating his
wife with a bat in the garden. I was just going to toss the man over
his own woodlump when the Boy jumped the hedge and ran at him.
Of course the woman took her husband's part, and while the man
beat him, the woman scratted his face. It wasn't till I danced
among the cabbages like Brightling Beacon all ablaze that they
gave up and ran indoors. The Boy's fine green-and-gold clothes
were torn all to pieces, and he had been welted in twenty places
with the man's bat, and scratted by the woman's nails to pieces.
He looked like a Robertsbridge hopper on a Monday morning.
'"Robin," said he, while I was trying to clean him down with a
bunch of hay, "I don't quite understand folk in housen. I went to
help that old woman, and she hit me, Robin!"
'"What else did you expect?" I said. "That was the one time
when you might have worked one of your charms, instead of
running into three times your weight."
'"I didn't think," he says. "But I caught the man one on the
head that was as good as any charm. Did you see it work, Robin?"
'"Mind your nose," I said. "Bleed it on a dockleaf - not your
sleeve, for pity's sake." I knew what the Lady Esclairmonde
'He didn't care. He was as happy as a gipsy with a stolen pony,
and the front part of his gold coat, all blood and grass stains,
looked like ancient sacrifices.
'Of course the People of the Hills laid the blame on me. The
Boy could do nothing wrong, in their eyes.
'"You are bringing him up to act and influence on folk in
housen, when you're ready to let him go," I said. "Now he's
begun to do it, why do you cry shame on me? That's no shame.
It's his nature drawing him to his kind.
'"But we don't want him to begin that way," the Lady
Esclairmonde said. "We intend a splendid fortune for him - not
your flitter-by-night, hedge-jumping, gipsy-work."
'"I don't blame you, Robin," says Sir Huon, "but I do think
you might look after the Boy more closely."
'"I've kept him away from Cold Iron these sixteen years ," I
said. "You know as well as I do, the first time he touches Cold
Iron he'll find his own fortune, in spite of everything you intend
for him. You owe me something for that."
'Sir Huon, having been a man, was going to allow me the right
of it, but the Lady Esclairmonde, being the Mother of all
Mothers, over-persuaded him.
'"We're very grateful," Sir Huon said, "but we think that just
for the present you are about too much with him on the Hill."
'"Though you have said it," I said, "I will give you a second chance."
I did not like being called to account for my doings on my own Hill.
I wouldn't have stood it even that far except I loved the Boy.
'"No! No!" says the Lady Esclairmonde. "He's never any
trouble when he's left to me and himself. It's your fault."
'"You have said it," I answered. "Hear me! From now on till
the Boy has found his fortune, whatever that may be, I vow to
you all on my Hill, by Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, and by the
Hammer of Asa Thor" - again Puck made that curious double-
cut in the air - '"that you may leave me out of all your counts and
reckonings." Then I went out'- he snapped his fingers -'like the
puff of a candle, and though they called and cried, they made
nothing by it. I didn't promise not to keep an eye on the Boy,
though. I watched him close - close - close!
'When he found what his people had forced me to do, he gave
them a piece of his mind, but they all kissed and cried round him,
and being only a boy, he came over to their way of thinking (I
don't blame him), and called himself unkind and ungrateful; and
it all ended in fresh shows and plays, and magics to distract him
from folk in housen. Dear heart alive! How he used to call and call
on me, and I couldn't answer, or even let him know that I was
'Not even once?' said Una. 'If he was very lonely?'
'No, he couldn't,' said Dan, who had been thinking. 'Didn't
you swear by the Hammer of Thor that you wouldn't, Puck?'
'By that Hammer!' was the deep rumbled reply. Then he came
back to his soft speaking voice. 'And the Boy was lonely, when he
couldn't see me any more. He began to try to learn all learning (he
had good teachers), but I saw him lift his eyes from the big black
books towards folk in housen all the time. He studied song-
making (good teachers he had too!), but he sang those songs with
his back toward the Hill, and his face toward folk. I know! I have
sat and grieved over him grieving within a rabbit's jump of him.
Then he studied the High, Low, and Middle Magic. He had
promised the Lady Esclairmonde he would never go near folk in
housen; so he had to make shows and shadows for his mind to
'What sort of shows?' said Dan.
'Just boy's Magic as we say. I'll show you some, some time. It
pleased him for the while, and it didn't hurt any one in particular
except a few men coming home late from the taverns. But I knew
what it was a sign of, and I followed him like a weasel follows a
rabbit. As good a boy as ever lived! I've seen him with Sir Huon
and the Lady Esclairmonde stepping just as they stepped to avoid
the track of Cold Iron in a furrow, or walking wide of some old
ash-tot because a man had left his swop-hook or spade there; and
all his heart aching to go straightforward among folk in housen all
the time. Oh, a good boy! They always intended a fine fortune for
him - but they could never find it in their heart to let him begin.
I've heard that many warned them, but they wouldn't be warned.
So it happened as it happened.
'One hot night I saw the Boy roving about here wrapped in his
flaming discontents. There was flash on flash against the clouds,
and rush on rush of shadows down the valley till the shaws were
full of his hounds giving tongue, and the woodways were packed
with his knights in armour riding down into the water-mists - all
his own Magic, of course. Behind them you could see great
castles lifting slow and splendid on arches of moonshine, with
maidens waving their hands at the windows, which all turned
into roaring rivers; and then would come the darkness of his own
young heart wiping out the whole slateful. But boy's Magic
doesn't trouble me - or Merlin's either for that matter. I followed
the Boy by the flashes and the whirling wildfire of his discontent,
and oh, but I grieved for him! Oh, but I grieved for him! He
pounded back and forth like a bullock in a strange pasture -
sometimes alone - sometimes waist-deep among his shadow-
hounds - sometimes leading his shadow-knights on a hawk-
winged horse to rescue his shadow-girls. I never guessed he had
such Magic at his command; but it's often that way with boys.
'Just when the owl comes home for the second time, I saw Sir
Huon and the Lady ride down my Hill, where there's not much
Magic allowed except mine. They were very pleased at the Boy's
Magic - the valley flared with it - and I heard them settling his
splendid fortune when they should find it in their hearts to let him
go to act and influence among folk in housen. Sir Huon was for
making him a great King somewhere or other, and the Lady was
for making him a marvellous wise man whom all should praise
for his skill and kindness. She was very kind-hearted.
'Of a sudden we saw the flashes of his discontents turned back
on the clouds, and his shadow-hounds stopped baying.
'"There's Magic fighting Magic over yonder," the Lady
Esclairmonde cried, reigning up. "Who is against him?"
'I could have told her, but I did not count it any of my business
to speak of Asa Thor's comings and goings.
'How did you know?'said Una.
'A slow North-East wind blew up, sawing and fretting
through the oaks in a way I remembered. The wildfire roared up,
one last time in one sheet, and snuffed out like a rushlight, and a
bucketful of stinging hail fell. We heard the Boy walking in the
Long Slip - where I first met you.
'"Here, oh, come here!" said the Lady Esclairmonde, and
stretched out her arms in the dark.
'He was coming slowly, but he stumbled in the footpath,
being, of course, mortal man.
'"Why, what's this?" he said to himself. We three heard him.
'"Hold, lad, hold! 'Ware Cold Iron!" said Sir Huon, and they
two swept down like nightjars, crying as they rode.
'I ran at their stirrups, but it was too late. We felt that the Boy
had touched Cold Iron somewhere in the dark, for the Horses of
the Hill shied off, and whipped round, snorting.
'Then I judged it was time for me to show myself in my own
shape; so I did.
'"Whatever it is," I said, "he has taken hold of it. Now we
must find out whatever it is that he has taken hold of, for that will
be his fortune."
'"Come here, Robin," the Boy shouted, as soon as he heard
my voice. "I don't know what I've hold of."
'"It is in your hands," I called back. "Tell us if it is hard and
cold, with jewels atop. For that will be a King's Sceptre. "
'"Not by a furrow-long," he said, and stooped and tugged in
the dark. We heard him.
'"Has it a handle and two cutting edges?" I called. "For that'll
be a Knight's Sword."
'"No, it hasn't," he says. "It's neither ploughshare, whittle,
hook, nor crook, nor aught I've yet seen men handle." By this
time he was scratting in the dirt to prise it up.
'"Whatever it is, you know who put it there, Robin," said Sir
Huon to me, "or you would not ask those questions. You should
have told me as soon as you knew."
'"What could you or I have done against the Smith that made it
and laid it for him to find?" I said, and I whispered Sir Huon what
I had seen at the Forge on Thor's Day, when the babe was first
brought to the Hill.
'"Oh, good-bye, our dreams!" said Sir Huon. "It's neither
sceptre, sword, nor plough! Maybe yet it's a bookful of learning,
bound with iron clasps. There's a chance for a splendid fortune in
'But we knew we were only speaking to comfort ourselves,
and the Lady Esclairmonde, having been a woman, said so.
'"Thur aie! Thor help us!" the Boy called. "It is round,
without end, Cold Iron, four fingers wide and a thumb thick, and
there is writing on the breadth of it."
'"Read the writing if you have the learning," I called. The
darkness had lifted by then, and the owl was out over the fern again.
'He called back, reading the runes on the iron:
"Few can see
Than when the child
Meets the Cold Iron."
And there he stood, in clear starlight, with a new, heavy, shining
slave-ring round his proud neck.
'"Is this how it goes?" he asked, while the Lady Esclairmonde cried.
'"That is how it goes," I said. He hadn't snapped the catch
home yet, though.
'"What fortune does it mean for him?" said Sir Huon, while
the Boy fingered the ring. "You who walk under Cold Iron, you
must tell us and teach us."
'"Tell I can, but teach I cannot," I said. "The virtue of the Ring
is only that he must go among folk in housen henceforward,
doing what they want done, or what he knows they need, all Old
England over. Never will he be his own master, nor yet ever any
man's. He will get half he gives, and give twice what he gets, till
his life's last breath; and if he lays aside his load before he draws
that last breath, all his work will go for naught."
'"Oh, cruel, wicked Thor!" cried the Lady Esclairmonde.
"Ah, look see, all of you! The catch is still open! He hasn't locked
it. He can still take it off. He can still come back. Come back!" She
went as near as she dared, but she could not lay hands on Cold
Iron. The Boy could have taken it off, yes. We waited to see if he
would, but he put up his hand, and the snap locked home.
'"What else could I have done?" said he.
'"Surely, then, you will do," I said. "Morning's coming, and
if you three have any farewells to make, make them now, for,
after sunrise, Cold Iron must be your master."
'So the three sat down, cheek by wet cheek, telling over their
farewells till morning light. As good a boy as ever lived, he was.'
'And what happened to him?' asked Dan.
'When morning came, Cold Iron was master of him and his
fortune, and he went to work among folk in housen. Presently he
came across a maid like-minded with himself, and they were
wedded, and had bushels of children, as the saying is. Perhaps
you'll meet some of his breed, this year.'
'Thank you,' said Una. 'But what did the poor Lady
'What can you do when Asa Thor lays the Cold Iron in a lad's
path? She and Sir Huon were comforted to think they had given
the Boy good store of learning to act and influence on folk in
housen. For he was a good boy! Isn't it getting on for breakfast-
time? I'll walk with you a piece.'
When they were well in the centre of the bone-dry fern, Dan
nudged Una, who stopped and put on a boot as quickly as she could.
'Now,' she said, 'you can't get any Oak, Ash, and Thorn leaves
from here, and' - she balanced wildly on one leg - 'I'm standing
on Cold Iron. What'll you do if we don't go away?'
'E-eh? Of all mortal impudence!'said Puck, as Dan, also in one
boot, grabbed his sister's hand to steady himself. He walked
round them, shaking with delight. 'You think I can only work
with a handful of dead leaves? This comes of taking away your
Doubt and Fear! I'll show you!'
A minute later they charged into old Hobden at his simple breakfast
of cold roast pheasant, shouting that there was a wasps' nest in
the fern which they had nearly stepped on, and asking him to
come and smoke it out.
'It's too early for wops-nests, an' I don't go diggin' in the Hill,
not for shillin's,' said the old man placidly. 'You've a thorn in
your foot, Miss Una. Sit down, and put on your t'other boot.
You're too old to be caperin' barefoot on an empty stomach. Stay
it with this chicken o' mine.'
'Gold is for the mistress - silver for the maid!
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.'
'Good!' said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
'But Iron - Cold Iron - is master of them all!'
So he made rebellion 'gainst the King his liege,
Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege -
'Nay!' said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
'But Iron - Cold Iron - shall be master of you all!'
Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,
When the cruel cannon-balls laid 'em all along!
He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,
And Iron - Cold Iron - was master of it all!
Yet his King spake kindly (Oh, how kind a Lord!)
'What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?'
'Nay!' said the Baron, 'mock not at my fall,
For Iron - Cold Iron - is master of men all.'
'Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown -
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.'
'As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,
For Iron - Cold Iron - must be master of men all!'
Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!)
'Here is Bread and here is Wine - sit and sup with me.
Eat and drink in Mary's Name, the whiles I do recall
How Iron - Cold Iron - can be master of men all!'
He took the Wine and blessed It; He blessed and brake the Bread.
With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:
'Look! These Hands they pierced with nails outside my city wall
Show Iron - Cold Iron - to be master of men all!
'Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong,
Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.
I forgive thy treason - I redeem thy fall -
For Iron - Cold Iron - must be master of men all!'
'Crowns are for the valiant - sceptres for the bold!
Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold.'
'Nay!' said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,
'But Iron - Cold Iron - is master of men all!
Iron, out of Calvary, is master of men all!'
The Two Cousins
Valour and Innocence
Have latterly gone hence
To certain death by certain shame attended.
Envy - ah! even to tears! -
The fortune of their years
Which, though so few, yet so divinely ended.
Scarce had they lifted up
Life's full and fiery cup,
Than they had set it down untouched before them.
Before their day arose
They beckoned it to close -
Close in destruction and confusion o'er them.
They did not stay to ask
What prize should crown their task,
Well sure that prize was such as no man strives for;
But passed into eclipse,
Her kiss upon their lips -
Even Belphoebe's, whom they gave their lives for!
Willow Shaw, the little fenced wood where the hop-poles are
stacked like Indian wigwams, had been given to Dan and Una for
their very own kingdom when they were quite small. As they
grew older, they contrived to keep it most particularly private.
Even Phillips, the gardener, told them every time that he came in
to take a hop-pole for his beans, and old Hobden would no more
have thought of setting his rabbit-wires there without leave,
given fresh each spring, than he would have torn down the calico
and marking ink notice on the big willow which said: 'Grown-
ups not allowed in the Kingdom unless brought.'
Now you can understand their indignation when, one blowy
July afternoon, as they were going up for a potato-roast, they saw
somebody moving among the trees. They hurled themselves
over the gate, dropping half the potatoes, and while they were
picking them up Puck came out of a wigwam.
:Oh, it's you, is it?' said Una. 'We thought it was people.'
'I saw you were angry - from your legs,' he answered with a grin.
'Well, it's our own Kingdom - not counting you, of course.'
'That's rather why I came. A lady here wants to see you.'
'What about?' said Dan cautiously.
'Oh, just Kingdoms and things. She knows about Kingdoms.'
There was a lady near the fence dressed in a long dark cloak that
hid everything except her high red-heeled shoes. Her face was
half covered by a black silk fringed mask, without goggles. And
yet she did not look in the least as if she motored.
Puck led them up to her and bowed solemnly. Una made the
best dancing-lesson curtsy she could remember. The lady
answered with a long, deep, slow, billowy one.
'Since it seems that you are a Queen of this Kingdom,'she said,
'I can do no less than acknowledge your sovereignty.' She turned
sharply on staring Dan. 'What's in your head, lad? Manners?'
'I was thinking how wonderfully you did that curtsy,' he answered.
She laughed a rather shrill laugh. 'You're a courtier already. Do
you know anything of dances, wench - or Queen, must I say?'
'I've had some lessons, but I can't really dance a bit,' said Una.
'You should learn, then.' The lady moved forward as though
she would teach her at once. 'It gives a woman alone among men
or her enemies time to think how she shall win or - lose. A
woman can only work in man's play-time. Heigho!'She sat down
on the bank.
Old Middenboro, the lawn-mower pony, stumped across the
paddock and hung his sorrowful head over the fence.
'A pleasant Kingdom,' said the lady, looking round. 'Well
enclosed. And how does your Majesty govern it? Who is your Minister?'
Una did not quite understand. 'We don't play that,' she said.
'Play?' The lady threw up her hands and laughed.
'We have it for our own, together,' Dan explained.
'And d'you never quarrel, young Burleigh?'
'Sometimes, but then we don't tell.'
The lady nodded. 'I've no brats of my own, but I understand
keeping a secret between Queens and their Ministers. Ay de mi!
But with no disrespect to present majesty, methinks your realm'
small, and therefore likely to be coveted by man and beast. For Is
example' - she pointed to Middenboro -'yonder old horse, with
the face of a Spanish friar - does he never break in?'
'He can't. Old Hobden stops all our gaps for us,' said Una, 'and
we let Hobden catch rabbits in the Shaw.'
The lady laughed like a man. 'I see! Hobden catches conies -
rabbits - for himself, and guards your defences for you. Does he
make a profit out of his coney-catching?'
'We never ask,' said Una. 'Hobden's a particular friend of
'Hoity-toity!' the lady began angrily. Then she laughed. 'But I
forget. It is your Kingdom. I knew a maid once that had a larger
one than this to defend, and so long as her men kept the fences
stopped, she asked 'em no questions either.'
'Was she trying to grow flowers?'said Una.
'No, trees - perdurable trees. Her flowers all withered.' The
lady leaned her head on her hand.
'They do if you don't look after them. We've got a few. Would
you like to see? I'll fetch you some.' Una ran off to the rank grass
in the shade behind the wigwam, and came back with a handful of
red flowers. 'Aren't they pretty?' she said. 'They're Virginia stock.'
'Virginia?' said the lady, and lifted them to the fringe of
'Yes. They come from Virginia. Did your maid ever plant any?'
'Not herself - but her men adventured all over the earth to
pluck or to plant flowers for her crown. They judged her worthy
'And was she?' said Dan cheerfully.
'Quien sabe? [who knows?] But at least, while her men toiled
abroad she toiled in England, that they might find a safe home to
come back to.'
'And what was she called?'
'Gloriana - Belphoebe - Elizabeth of England.' Her voice
changed at each word.
'You mean Queen Bess?'
The lady bowed her head a little towards Dan. 'You name her
lightly enough, young Burleigh. What might you know of her?'
, Well, I - I've seen the little green shoes she left at Brickwall
House - down the road, you know. They're in a glass case -
awfully tiny things.'
'Oh, Burleigh, Burleigh!' she laughed. 'You are a courtier
'But they are,' Dan insisted. 'As little as dolls' shoes. Did you
really know her well?'
'Well. She was a - woman. I've been at her Court all my life.
Yes, I remember when she danced after the banquet at Brickwall.
They say she danced Philip of Spain out of a brand-new kingdom
that day. Worth the price of a pair of old shoes - hey?'
She thrust out one foot, and stooped forward to look at its
broad flashing buckle.
'You've heard of Philip of Spain - long-suffering Philip,' she
said, her eyes still on the shining stones. 'Faith, what some men
will endure at some women's hands passes belief! If I had been a
man, and a woman had played with me as Elizabeth played with
Philip, I would have -' She nipped off one of the Virginia stocks
and held it up between finger and thumb. 'But for all that' - she
began to strip the leaves one by one - 'they say - and I am
persuaded - that Philip loved her.' She tossed her head sideways.
'I don't quite understand,' said Una.
'The high heavens forbid that you should, wench!' She swept
the flowers from her lap and stood up in the rush of shadows that
the wind chased through the wood.
'I should like to know about the shoes,' said Dan.
'So ye shall, Burleigh. So ye shall, if ye watch me. 'Twill be as
good as a play.'
'We've never been to a play,' said Una.
The lady looked at her and laughed. 'I'll make one for you.
Watch! You are to imagine that she - Gloriana, Belphoebe, Elizabeth - has
gone on a progress to Rye to comfort her sad heart
(maids are often melancholic), and while she halts at Brickwall
House, the village - what was its name?' She pushed Puck with
'Norgem,' he croaked, and squatted by the wigwam.
'Norgem village loyally entertains her with a masque or play,
and a Latin oration spoken by the parson, for whose false quantities,
if I'd made 'em in my girlhood, I should have been
'You whipped?' said Dan.
'Soundly, sirrah, soundly! She stomachs the affront to her
scholarship, makes her grateful, gracious thanks from the teeth
outwards, thus'- (the lady yawned) -'Oh, a Queen may love her
subjects in her heart, and yet be dog-wearied of 'em 'in body and
mind - and so sits down'- her skirts foamed about her as she sat -
'to a banquet beneath Brickwall Oak. Here for her sins she is
waited upon by - What were the young cockerels' names that
served Gloriana at table?'
'Frewens, Courthopes, Fullers, Husseys,' Puck began.
She held up her long jewelled hand. 'Spare the rest! They were
the best blood of Sussex, and by so much the more clumsy in
handling the dishes and plates. Wherefore' - she looked funnily
over her shoulder - 'you are to think of Gloriana in a green and
gold-laced habit, dreadfully expecting that the jostling youths
behind her would, of pure jealousy or devotion, spatter it with
sauces and wines. The gown was Philip's gift, too! At this happy
juncture a Queen's messenger, mounted and mired, spurs up the
Rye road and delivers her a letter' - she giggled -'a letter from a
good, simple, frantic Spanish gentleman called - Don Philip.'
'That wasn't Philip, King of Spain?'Dan asked.
'Truly, it was. 'Twixt you and me and the bedpost, young
Burleigh, these kings and queens are very like men and women,
and I've heard they write each other fond, foolish letters that none
of their ministers should open.'
'Did her ministers ever open Queen Elizabeth's letters?' said Una.
'Faith, yes! But she'd have done as much for theirs, any day.
You are to think of Gloriana, then (they say she had a pretty
hand), excusing herself thus to the company - for the Queen's
time is never her own - and, while the music strikes up, reading
Philip's letter, as I do.' She drew a real letter from her pocket, and
held it out almost at arm's length, like the old post-mistress in the
village when she reads telegrams.
'Hm! Hm! Hm! Philip writes as ever most lovingly. He says his
Gloriana is cold, for which reason he burns for her through a fair
written page.' She turned it with a snap. 'What's here? Philip
complains that certain of her gentlemen have fought against his
generals in the Low Countries. He prays her to hang 'em when
they re-enter her realms. (Hm, that's as may be.) Here's a list of
burnt shipping slipped between two vows of burning adoration.
Oh, poor Philip! His admirals at sea - no less than three of 'em -
have been boarded, sacked, and scuttled on their lawful voyages
by certain English mariners (gentlemen, he will not call them),
who are now at large and working more piracies in his American
ocean, which the Pope gave him. (He and the Pope should guard
it, then!) Philip hears, but his devout ears will not credit it, that
Gloriana in some fashion countenances these villains' misdeeds,
shares in their booty, and - oh, shame! - has even lent them ships
royal for their sinful thefts. Therefore he requires (which is a
word Gloriana loves not), requires that she shall hang 'em when
they return to England, and afterwards shall account to him for all
the goods and gold they have plundered. A most loving request!
If Gloriana will not be Philip's bride, she shall be his broker and
his butcher! Should she still be stiff-necked, he writes - see where
the pen digged the innocent paper! - that he hath both the means
and the intention to be revenged on her. Aha! Now we come to
the Spaniard in his shirt!' (She waved the letter merrily.) 'Listen
here! Philip will prepare for Gloriana a destruction from the West
- a destruction from the West - far exceeding that which Pedro de
Avila wrought upon the Huguenots. And he rests and remains,
kissing her feet and her hands, her slave, her enemy, or her
conqueror, as he shall find that she uses him.'
She thrust back the letter under her cloak, and went on acting,
but in a softer voice. 'All this while - hark to it - the wind blows
through Brickwall Oak, the music plays, and, with the
company's eyes upon her, the Queen of England must think what
this means. She cannot remember the name of Pedro de Avila,
nor what he did to the Huguenots, nor when, nor where. She can
only see darkly some dark motion moving in Philip's dark mind,
for he hath never written before in this fashion. She must smile
above the letter as though it were good news from her ministers -
the smile that tires the mouth and the poor heart. What shall she
do?' Again her voice changed.
'You are to fancy that the music of a sudden wavers away.
Chris Hatton, Captain of her bodyguard, quits the table all red
and ruffled, and Gloriana's virgin ear catches the clash of swords
at work behind a wall. The mothers of Sussex look round to
count their chicks - I mean those young gamecocks that waited on
her. Two dainty youths have stepped aside into Brickwall garden
with rapier and dagger on a private point of honour. They are
haled out through the gate, disarmed and glaring - the lively
image of a brace of young Cupids transformed into pale, panting
Cains. Ahem! Gloriana beckons awfully - thus! They come up for
judgement. Their lives and estates lie at her mercy whom they
have doubly offended, both as Queen and woman. But la! what
will not foolish young men do for a beautiful maid?'
'Why? What did she do? What had they done?' said Una.
'Hsh! You mar the play! Gloriana had guessed the cause of the
trouble. They were handsome lads. So she frowns a while and
tells 'em not to be bigger fools than their mothers had made 'em,
and warns 'em, if they do not kiss and be friends on the instant,
she'll have Chris Hatton horse and birch 'em in the style of the
new school at Harrow. (Chris looks sour at that.) Lastly, because
she needed time to think on Philip's letter burning in her pocket,
she signifies her pleasure to dance with 'em and teach 'em better
manners. Whereat the revived company call down Heaven's blessing
on her gracious head; Chris and the others prepare Brickwall
House for a dance; and she walks in the clipped garden between
those two lovely young sinners who are both ready to sink for
shame. They confess their fault. It appears that midway in the
banquet the elder - they were cousins - conceived that the Queen
looked upon him with special favour. The younger, taking the
look to himself, after some words gives the elder the lie. Hence, as
she guessed, the duel.'
'And which had she really looked at?' Dan asked.
'Neither - except to wish them farther off. She was afraid all the
while they'd spill dishes on her gown. She tells 'em this, poor
chicks - and it completes their abasement. When they had grilled
long enough, she says: "And so you would have fleshed your
maiden swords for me - for me?" Faith, they would have been at
it again if she'd egged 'em on! but their swords - oh, prettily they
said it! - had been drawn for her once or twice already.
'"And where?" says she. "On your hobby-horses before you
'"On my own ship," says the elder. "My cousin was vice-
admiral of our venture in his pinnace. We would not have you
think of us as brawling children."
'"No, no," says the younger, and flames like a very Tudor
rose. "At least the Spaniards know us better."
'"Admiral Boy - Vice-Admiral Babe," says Gloriana, "I cry
your pardon. The heat of these present times ripens childhood to
age more quickly than I can follow. But we are at peace with
Spain. Where did you break your Queen's peace?"
'"On the sea called the Spanish Main, though 'tis no more
Spanish than my doublet," says the elder. Guess how that
warmed Gloriana's already melting heart! She would never suffer
any sea to be called Spanish in her private hearing.
'"And why was I not told? What booty got you, and where
have you hid it? Disclose," says she. "You stand in some danger
of the gallows for pirates."
'"The axe, most gracious lady," says the elder, "for we are
gentle born." He spoke truth, but no woman can brook contradiction.
"Hoity-toity!" says she, and, but that she remembered that she
was Queen, she'd have cuffed the pair of 'em. "It shall be
gallows, hurdle, and dung-cart if I choose."
'"Had our Queen known of our going beforehand, Philip
might have held her to blame for some small things we did on the
seas," the younger lisps.
'"As for treasure," says the elder, "we brought back but our
bare lives. We were wrecked on the Gascons' Graveyard, where
our sole company for three months was the bleached bones of De
'Gloriana's mind jumped back to Philip's last letter.
'"De Avila that destroyed the Huguenots? What d'you know
of him?" she says. The music called from the house here, and they
three turned back between the yews.
'"Simply that De Avila broke in upon a plantation of Frenchmen
on that coast, and very Spaniardly hung them all for heretics -
eight hundred or so. The next year Dominique de Gorgues, a
Gascon, broke in upon De Avila's men, and very justly hung 'em
all for murderers - five hundred or so. No Christians inhabit there
now, says the elder lad, "though 'tis a goodly land north of
'"How far is it from England?" asks prudent Gloriana.
'"With a fair wind, six weeks. They say that Philip will plant it
again soon." This was the younger, and he looked at her out of
the corner of his innocent eye.
'Chris Hatton, fuming, meets and leads her into Brickwall
Hall, where she dances - thus. A woman can think while she
dances - can think. I'll show you. Watch!'
She took off her cloak slowly, and stood forth in dove-coloured
satin, worked over with pearls that trembled like running water
in the running shadows of the trees. Still talking - more to herself
than to the children - she swam into a majestical dance of the
stateliest balancings, the naughtiest wheelings and turnings aside,
the most dignified sinkings, the gravest risings, all joined
together by the elaboratest interlacing steps and circles.
They leaned forward breathlessly to watch the splendid acting.
'Would a Spaniard,' she began, looking on the ground, 'speak
of his revenge till his revenge were ripe? No. Yet a man who
loved a woman might threaten her 'in the hope that his threats
would make her love him. Such things have been.' She moved
slowly across a bar of sunlight. 'A destruction from the West may
signify that Philip means to descend on Ireland. But then my Irish
spies would have had some warning. The Irish keep no secrets.
No - it is not Ireland. Now why - why - why' - the red shoes
clicked and paused -'does Philip name Pedro Melendez de Avila,
a general in his Americas, unless' - she turned more quickly -
unless he intends to work his destruction from the Americas? Did
he say De Avila only to put her off her guard, or for this once has
his black pen betrayed his black heart? We' - she raised herself to
her full height - 'England must forestall Master Philip. But not
openly,'- she sank again -'we cannot fight Spain openly -not yet
- not yet.' She stepped three paces as though she were pegging
down some snare with her twinkling shoe-buckles. 'The Queen's
mad gentlemen may fight Philip's poor admirals where they find
'em, but England, Gloriana, Harry's daughter, must keep the
peace. Perhaps, after all, Philip loves her - as many men and boys
do. That may help England. Oh, what shall help England?'
She raised her head - the masked head that seemed to have
nothing to do with the busy feet - and stared straight at the children.
'I think this is rather creepy,' said Una with a shiver. 'I wish
The lady held out her jewelled hand as though she were taking
some one else's hand in the Grand Chain.
'Can a ship go down into the Gascons' Graveyard and wait
there?' she asked into the air, and passed on rustling.
'She's pretending to ask one of the cousins, isn't she?' said Dan,
and Puck nodded.
Back she came in the silent, swaying, ghostly dance. They saw
she was smiling beneath the mask, and they could hear her
'I cannot lend you any of my ships for the venture; Philip would
hear of it,' she whispered over her shoulder; 'but as much guns
and powder as you ask, if you do not ask too -'Her voice shot up
and she stamped her foot thrice. 'Louder! Louder, the music in the
gallery! Oh, me, but I have burst out of my shoe!'
She gathered her skirts in each hand, and began a curtsy. 'You
will go at your own charges,' she whispered straight before her.
'Oh, enviable and adorable age of youth!' Her eyes shone through
the mask-holes. 'But I warn you you'll repent it. Put not your
trust in princes - or Queens. Philip's ships'll blow you out of
water. You'll not be frightened? Well, we'll talk on it again, when
I return from Rye, dear lads.'
The wonderful curtsy ended. She stood up. Nothing stirred on
her except the rush of the shadows.
'And so it was finished,' she said to the children. 'Why d'you
'What was finished?' said Una.
'The dance,' the lady replied offendedly. 'And a pair of
'I don't understand a bit,' said Una.
'Eh? What did you make of it, young Burleigh?'
'I'm not quite sure,' Dan began, 'but -'
'You never can be - with a woman. But -?'
'But I thought Gloriana meant the cousins to go back to the
Gascons' Graveyard, wherever that was.'
''Twas Virginia after-wards. Her plantation of Virginia.'
'Virginia afterwards, and stop Philip from taking it. Didn't she
say she'd lend 'em guns?'
'Right so. But not ships - then.'
'And I thought you meant they must have told her they'd do it
off their own bat, without getting her into a row with Philip. Was
'Near enough for a Minister of the Queen. But remember she
gave the lads full time to change their minds. She was three long
days at Rye Royal - knighting of fat Mayors. When she came back
to Brickwall, they met her a mile down the road, and she could
feel their eyes burn through her riding-mask. Chris Hatton, poor
fool, was vexed at it.
'"YOU would not birch them when I gave you the chance,"
says she to Chris. "Now you must get me half an hour's private
speech with 'em in Brickwall garden. Eve tempted Adam in a
garden. Quick, man, or I may repent!"'
'She was a Queen. Why did she not send for them herself?' said Una.
The lady shook her head. 'That was never her way. I've seen
her walk to her own mirror by bye-ends, and the woman that
cannot walk straight there is past praying for. Yet I would have
you pray for her! What else - what else in England's name could
she have done?' She lifted her hand to her throat for a moment.
'Faith,' she cried, 'I'd forgotten the little green shoes! She left 'em
at Brickwall - so she did. And I remember she gave the Norgem
parson - John Withers, was he? - a text for his sermon - "Over
Edom have I cast out my shoe." Neat, if he'd understood!'
'I don't understand,' said Una. 'What about the two cousins?'
'You are as cruel as a woman,' the lady answered. 'I was not to
blame. I told you I gave 'em time to change their minds. On my
honour (ay de mi!), she asked no more of 'em at first than to wait a
while off that coast - the Gascons' Graveyard - to hover a little if
their ships chanced to pass that way - they had only one tall ship
and a pinnace - only to watch and bring me word of Philip's
doings. One must watch Philip always. What a murrain right had
he to make any plantation there, a hundred leagues north of his
Spanish Main, and only six weeks from England? By my dread
father's soul, I tell you he had none - none!' She stamped her red
foot again, and the two children shrunk back for a second.
'Nay, nay. You must not turn from me too! She laid it all fairly
before the lads in Brickwall garden between the yews. I told 'em
that if Philip sent a fleet (and to make a plantation he could not
well send less), their poor little cock-boats could not sink it. They
answered that, with submission, the fight would be their own
concern. She showed 'em again that there could be only one end
to it - quick death on the sea, or slow death in Philip's prisons.
They asked no more than to embrace death for my sake. Many
men have prayed to me for life. I've refused 'em, and slept none
the worse after; but when my men, my tall, fantastical young
men, beseech me on their knees for leave to die for me, it shakes
me - ah, it shakes me to the marrow of my old bones.'
Her chest sounded like a board as she hit it.
'She showed 'em all. I told 'em that this was no time for open
war with Spain. If by miracle inconceivable they prevailed against
Philip's fleet, Philip would hold me accountable. For England's
sake, to save war, I should e'en be forced (I told 'em so) to give
him up their young lives. If they failed, and again by some miracle
escaped Philip's hand, and crept back to England with their bare
lives, they must lie - oh, I told 'em all - under my sovereign
displeasure. She could not know them, see them, nor hear their
names, nor stretch out a finger to save them from the gallows, if
Philip chose to ask it.
'"Be it the gallows, then," says the elder. (I could have wept,
but that my face was made for the day.)
'"Either way - any way - this venture is death, which I know
you fear not. But it is death with assured dishonour," I cried.
'"Yet our Queen will know in her heart what we have done,"
says the younger.
'"Sweetheart," I said. "A queen has no heart."
'"But she is a woman, and a woman would not forget," says
the elder. "We will go!" They knelt at my feet.
'"Nay, dear lads - but here!" I said, and I opened my arms to
them and I kissed them.
'"Be ruled by me," I said. "We'll hire some ill-featured old
tarry-breeks of an admiral to watch the Graveyard, and you shall
come to Court."
'"Hire whom you please," says the elder; "we are ruled by
you, body and soul"; and the younger, who shook most when I
kissed 'em, says between his white lips, "I think you have power
to make a god of a man."
'"Come to Court and be sure of't," I said.
'They shook their heads and I knew - I knew, that go they
would. If I had not kissed them - perhaps I might have prevailed.'
'Then why did you do it?' said Una. 'I don't think you knew
really what you wanted done.'
'May it please your Majesty' - the lady bowed her head low -
'this Gloriana whom I have represented for your pleasure was a
woman and a Queen. Remember her when you come to your Kingdom.'
'But- did the cousins go to the Gascons' Graveyard?' said Dan,
as Una frowned.
'They went,' said the lady.
'Did they ever come back?' Una began; but - 'Did they stop
King Philip's fleet?' Dan interrupted.
The lady turned to him eagerly.
'D'you think they did right to go?' she asked.
'I don't see what else they could have done,' Dan replied, after
thinking it over.
'D'you think she did right to send 'em?' The lady's voice rose a
'Well,' said Dan, 'I don't see what else she could have done,
either - do you? How did they stop King Philip from getting Virginia?'
'There's the sad part of it. They sailed out that autumn from
Rye Royal, and there never came back so much as a single
rope-yarn to show what had befallen them. The winds blew, and
they were not. Does that make you alter your mind, young Burleigh?'
'I expect they were drowned, then. Anyhow, Philip didn't
score, did he?'
'Gloriana wiped out her score with Philip later. But if Philip
had won, would you have blamed Gloriana for wasting those
'Of course not. She was bound to try to stop him.'
The lady coughed. 'You have the root of the matter in you.
Were I Queen, I'd make you Minister.'
'We don't play that game,' said Una, who felt that she disliked
the lady as much as she disliked the noise the high wind made
tearing through Willow Shaw.
'Play!' said the lady with a laugh, and threw up her hands
affectedly. The sunshine caught the jewels on her many rings and
made them flash till Una's eyes dazzled, and she had to rub them.
Then she saw Dan on his knees picking up the potatoes they had
spilled at the gate.
'There wasn't anybody in the Shaw, after all,' he said. 'Didn't
you think you saw someone?'
'I'm most awfully glad there isn't,' said Una. Then they went
on with the potato-roast.
Queen Bess Was Harry's daughter!
The Queen was in her chamber, and she was middling old,
Her petticoat was satin and her stomacher was gold.
Backwards and forwards and sideways did she pass,
Making up her mind to face the cruel looking-glass.
The cruel looking-glass that will never show a lass
As comely or as kindly or as young as once she was!
The Queen was in her chamber, a-combing of her hair,
There came Queen Mary's spirit and it stood behind her chair,
Singing, 'Backwards and forwards and sideways you may pass,
But I will stand behind you till you face the looking-glass.
The cruel looking-glass that will never show a lass
As lovely or unlucky or as lonely as I was!'
The Queen was in her chamber, a-weeping very sore,
There came Lord Leicester's spirit and it scratched upon the door,
Singing, 'Backwards and forwards and sideways may you pass,
But I will walk beside you till you face the looking-glass.
The cruel looking-glass that will never show a lass
As hard and unforgiving or as wicked as you was!'
The Queen was in her chamber; her sins were on her head;
She looked the spirits up and down and statelily she said:
'Backwards and forwards and sideways though I've been,
Yet I am Harry's daughter and I am England's Queen!'
And she faced the looking-glass (and whatever else there was),
And she saw her day was over and she saw her beauty pass
In the cruel looking-glass that can always hurt a lass
More hard than any ghost there is or any man there was!
THE WRONG THING
A Truthful Song
I tell this tale, which is strictly true,
just by way of convincing you
How very little since things were made
Things have altered in the building trade.
A year ago, come the middle o' March,
We was building flats near the Marble Arch,
When a thin young man with coal-black hair
Came up to watch us working there.
Now there wasn't a trick in brick or stone
That this young man hadn't seen or known;
Nor there wasn't a tool from trowel to maul
But this young man could use 'em all!
Then up and spoke the plumbyers bold,
Which was laying the pipes for the hot and cold:
'Since you with us have made so free,
Will you kindly say what your name might be?'
The young man kindly answered them:
'It might be Lot or Methusalem,
Or it might be Moses (a man I hate),
Whereas it is Pharaoh surnamed the Great.
'Your glazing is new and your plumbing's strange,
But other-wise I perceive no change,
And in less than a month, if you do as I bid,
I'd learn you to build me a Pyramid.'
I tell this tale, which is stricter true,
just by way of convincing you
How very little since things was made
Things have altered in the shipwright's trade.
In Blackwall Basin yesterday
A China barque re-fitting lay,
When a fat old man with snow-white hair
Came up to watch us working there.
Now there wasn't a knot which the riggers knew
But the old man made it - and better too;
Nor there wasn't a sheet, or a lift, or a brace,
But the old man knew its lead and place.
Then up and spake the caulkyers bold,
Which was packing the pump in the after-hold:
'Since you with us have made so free,
Will you kindly tell what your name might be?'
The old man kindly answered them:
'it might be Japhet, it might be Shem,
Or it might be Ham (though his skin was dark),
Whereas it is Noah, commanding the Ark.
'Your wheel is new and your pumps are strange,
But otherwise I perceive no change,
And in less than a week, if she did not ground,
I'd sail this hooker the wide world round!'
BOTH: We tell these tales, which are strictest true, etc.
The Wrong Thing
Dan had gone in for building model boats; but after he had filled
the schoolroom with chips, which he expected Una to clear away,
they turned him out of doors and he took all his tools up the hill to
Mr Springett's yard, where he knew he could make as much mess
as he chose. Old Mr Springett was a builder, contractor, and
sanitary engineer, and his yard, which opened off the village
street, was always full of interesting things. At one end of it was a
long loft, reached by a ladder, where he kept his iron-bound
scaffold-planks, tins of paints, pulleys, and odds and ends he had
found in old houses. He would sit here by the hour watching his
carts as they loaded or unloaded in the yard below, while Dan
gouged and grunted at the carpenter's bench near the loft
window. Mr Springett and Dan had always been particular
friends, for Mr Springett was so old he could remember when
railways were being made in the southern counties of England,
and people were allowed to drive dogs in carts.
One hot, still afternoon - the tar-paper on the roof smelt like
ships - Dan, in his shirt-sleeves, was smoothing down a new
schooner's bow, and Mr Springett was talking of barns and
houses he had built. He said he never forgot any stick or stone he
had ever handled, or any man, woman, or child he had ever met.
just then he was very proud of the Village Hall at the entrance of
the village, which he had finished a few weeks before.
'An' I don't mind tellin' you, Mus' Dan,' he said, 'that the Hall
will be my last job top of this mortal earth. I didn't make ten
pounds - no, nor yet five - out o' the whole contrac', but my
name's lettered on the foundation stone - Ralph Springett, Builder
- and the stone she's bedded on four foot good concrete. If she
shifts any time these five hundred years, I'll sure-ly turn in my
grave. I told the Lunnon architec' so when he come down to
oversee my work.'
'What did he say?' Dan was sandpapering the schooner's port bow.
'Nothing. The Hall ain't more than one of his small jobs for
him, but 'tain't small to me, an' my name is cut and lettered,
frontin' the village street, I do hope an' pray, for time everlastin'.
You'll want the little round file for that holler in her bow. Who's
there?' Mr Springett turned stiffly in his chair.
A long pile of scaffold-planks ran down the centre of the loft.
Dan looked, and saw Hal o' the Draft's touzled head beyond
them. [See 'Hal o' the Draft' in PUCK OF POOK'S HILL.]
'Be you the builder of the Village Hall?' he asked of Mr Springett.
'I be,' was the answer. 'But if you want a job -'
Hal laughed. 'No, faith!'he said. 'Only the Hall is as good and
honest a piece of work as I've ever run a rule over. So, being born
hereabouts, and being reckoned a master among masons, and
accepted as a master mason, I made bold to pay my brotherly
respects to the builder.'
'Aa - um!' Mr Springett looked important. 'I be a bit rusty, but
I'll try ye!'
He asked Hal several curious questions, and the answers must
have pleased him, for he invited Hal to sit down. Hal moved up,
always keeping behind the pile of planks so that only his head
showed, and sat down on a trestle in the dark corner at the back of
Mr Springett's desk. He took no notice of Dan, but talked at once
to Mr Springett about bricks, and cement, and lead and glass, and
after a while Dan went on with his work. He knew Mr Springett
was pleased, because he tugged his white sandy beard, and
smoked his pipe in short puffs. The two men seemed to agree
about everything, but when grown-ups agree they interrupt each
other almost as much as if they were quarrelling. Hal said
something about workmen.
'Why, that's what I always say,' Mr Springett cried. 'A man
who can only do one thing, he's but next-above-fool to the man
that can't do nothin'. That's where the Unions make their mistake.'
'My thought to the very dot.' Dan heard Hal slap his tight-
hosed leg. 'I've suffered 'in my time from these same Guilds -
Unions, d'you call 'em? All their precious talk of the mysteries of
their trades - why, what does it come to?'
'Nothin'! You've justabout hit it,' said Mr Springett, and
rammed his hot tobacco with his thumb.
'Take the art of wood-carving,'Hal went on. He reached across
the planks, grabbed a wooden mallet, and moved his other hand
as though he wanted something. Mr Springett without a word
passed him one of Dan's broad chisels. 'Ah! Wood-carving, for
example. If you can cut wood and have a fair draft of what ye
mean to do, a' Heaven's name take chisel and maul and let drive at
it, say I! You'll soon find all the mystery, forsooth, of wood-
carving under your proper hand!' Whack, came the mallet on the
chisel, and a sliver of wood curled up in front of it. Mr Springett
watched like an old raven.
'All art is one, man - one!' said Hal between whacks; 'and to
wait on another man to finish out -'
'To finish out your work ain't no sense,' Mr Springett cut in.
'That's what I'm always sayin' to the boy here.' He nodded
towards Dan. 'That's what I said when I put the new wheel into
Brewster's Mill in Eighteen hundred Seventy-two. I reckoned I
was millwright enough for the job 'thout bringin' a man from
Lunnon. An' besides, dividin' work eats up profits, no bounds.'
Hal laughed his beautiful deep laugh, and Mr Springett joined
in till Dan laughed too.
'You handle your tools, I can see,' said Mr Springett. 'I reckon,
if you're any way like me, you've found yourself hindered by
those - Guilds, did you call 'em? - Unions, we say.'
'You may say so!' Hal pointed to a white scar on his cheekbone.
'This is a remembrance from the Master watching-Foreman of Masons
on Magdalen Tower, because, please you, I dared to carve stone without
their leave. They said a stone had slipped from the cornice by accident.'
'I know them accidents. There's no way to disprove 'em. An'
stones ain't the only things that slip,' Mr Springett grunted. Hal
'I've seen a scaffold-plank keckle and shoot a too-clever workman
thirty foot on to the cold chancel floor below. And a rope can
'Yes, natural as nature; an' lime'll fly up in a man's eyes without
any breath o' wind sometimes,' said Mr Springett. 'But who's to
show 'twasn't a accident?'
'Who do these things?' Dan asked, and straightened his back at
the bench as he turned the schooner end-for-end in the vice to get
at her counter.
'Them which don't wish other men to work no better nor
quicker than they do,' growled Mr Springett. 'Don't pinch her so
hard in the vice, Mus' Dan. Put a piece o' rag in the jaws, or you'll
bruise her. More than that'- he turned towards Hal -'if a man has
his private spite laid up against you, the Unions give him his
excuse for workin' it off.'
'Well I know it,'said Hal.
'They never let you go, them spiteful ones. I knowed a plasterer
in Eighteen hundred Sixty-one - down to the wells. He was a
Frenchy - a bad enemy he was.'
'I had mine too. He was an Italian, called Benedetto. I met him
first at Oxford on Magdalen Tower when I was learning my trade
-or trades, I should say. A bad enemy he was, as you say, but he
came to be my singular good friend,' said Hal as he put down the
mallet and settled himself comfortably.
'What might his trade have been - plastering' Mr Springett asked.
'Plastering of a sort. He worked in stucco - fresco we call it.
Made pictures on plaster. Not but what he had a fine sweep of the
hand in drawing. He'd take the long sides of a cloister, trowel on
his stuff, and roll out his great all-abroad pictures of saints and
croppy-topped trees quick as a webster unrolling cloth almost.
Oh, Benedetto could draw, but 'a was a little-minded man,
professing to be full of secrets of colour or plaster - common
tricks, all of 'em - and his one single talk was how Tom, Dick or
Harry had stole this or t'other secret art from him.'
'I know that sort,' said Mr Springett. 'There's no keeping peace
or making peace with such. An' they're mostly born an' bone idle.'
'True. Even his fellow-countrymen laughed at his jealousy. We
two came to loggerheads early on Magdalen Tower. I was a
youngster then. Maybe I spoke my mind about his work.'
'You shouldn't never do that.' Mr Springett shook his head.
'That sort lay it up against you.'
'True enough. This Benedetto did most specially. Body o' me,
the man lived to hate me! But I always kept my eyes open on a
plank or a scaffold. I was mighty glad to be shut of him when he
quarrelled with his Guild foreman, and went off, nose in air, and
paints under his arm. But' - Hal leaned forward -'if you hate a
man or a man hates you -'
'I know. You're everlastin' running acrost him,' Mr Springett
interrupted. 'Excuse me, sir.' He leaned out of the window, and
shouted to a carter who was loading a cart with bricks.
'Ain't you no more sense than to heap 'em up that way?' he
said. 'Take an' throw a hundred of 'em off. It's more than the
team can compass. Throw 'em off, I tell you, and make another
trip for what's left over. Excuse me, sir. You was sayin'-'
'I was saying that before the end of the year I went to Bury to
strengthen the lead-work in the great Abbey east window there.'
'Now that's just one of the things I've never done. But I mind
there was a cheap excursion to Chichester in Eighteen hundred
Seventy-nine, an' I went an' watched 'em leadin' a won'erful fine
window in Chichester Cathedral. I stayed watchin' till 'twas time
for us to go back. Dunno as I had two drinks p'raps, all that day.'
Hal smiled. 'At Bury, then, sure enough, I met my enemy
Benedetto. He had painted a picture in plaster on the south wall of
the Refectory - a noble place for a noble thing - a picture of
'Ah! Jonah an' his whale. I've never been as far as Bury. You've
worked about a lot,' said Mr Springett, with his eyes on the
'No. Not the whale. This was a picture of Jonah and the
pompion that withered. But all that Benedetto had shown was a
peevish grey-beard huggled up in angle-edged drapery beneath a
pompion on a wooden trellis. This last, being a dead thing, he'd
drawn it as 'twere to the life. But fierce old Jonah, bared in the
sun, angry even to death that his cold prophecy was disproven -
Jonah, ashamed, and already hearing the children of Nineveh
running to mock him - ah, that was what Benedetto had not
'He better ha' stuck to his whale, then,' said Mr Springett.
'He'd ha' done no better with that. He draws the damp cloth off
the picture, an' shows it to me. I was a craftsman too, d'ye see?'
'"Tis good," I said, "but it goes no deeper than the plaster."
'"What?" he said in a whisper.
'"Be thy own judge, Benedetto," I answered. "Does it go
deeper than the plaster?"
'He reeled against a piece of dry wall. "No," he says, "and I
know it. I could not hate thee more than I have done these five
years, but if I live, I will try, Hal. I will try." Then he goes away. I
pitied him, but I had spoken truth. His picture went no deeper
than the plaster.'
'Ah!' said Mr Springett, who had turned quite red. 'You was
talkin' so fast I didn't understand what you was drivin' at. I've
seen men - good workmen they was - try to do more than they
could do, and - and they couldn't compass it. They knowed it,
and it nigh broke their hearts like. You was in your right, o'
course, sir, to say what you thought o' his work; but if you'll
excuse me, was you in your duty?'
'I was wrong to say it,' Hal replied. 'God forgive me - I was
young! He was workman enough himself to know where he
failed. But it all came evens in the long run. By the same token,
did ye ever hear o' one Torrigiano - Torrisany we called him?'
'I can't say I ever did. Was he a Frenchy like?'
'No, a hectoring, hard-mouthed, long-sworded Italian
builder, as vain as a peacock and as strong as a bull, but, mark
you, a master workman. More than that - he could get his best
work out of the worst men.'
'Which it's a gift. I had a foreman-bricklayer like him once,'
said Mr Springett. 'He used to prod 'em in the back like with a
pointing-trowel, and they did wonders.'
I've seen our Torrisany lay a 'prentice down with one buffet
and raise him with another - to make a mason of him. I worked
under him at building a chapel in London - a chapel and a tomb
for the King.'
'I never knew kings went to chapel much,' said Mr Springett.
'But I always hold with a man - don't care who he be - seein'
about his own grave before he dies. 'Tidn't the sort of thing to
leave to your family after the will's read. I reckon 'twas a fine vault?'
'None finer in England. This Torrigiano had the contract for it,
as you'd say. He picked master craftsmen from all parts -
England, France, Italy, the Low Countries - no odds to him so
long as they knew their work, and he drove them like - like pigs at
Brightling Fair. He called us English all pigs. We suffered it
because he was a master in his craft. If he misliked any work that a
man had done, with his own great hands he'd rive it out, and tear
it down before us all. "Ah, you pig - you English pig!" he'd
scream in the dumb wretch's face. "You answer me? You look at
me? You think at me? Come out with me into the cloisters. I will
teach you carving myself. I will gild you all over!" But when his
passion had blown out, he'd slip his arm round the man's neck,
and impart knowledge worth gold. 'Twould have done your
heart good, Mus' Springett, to see the two hundred of us
masons, jewellers, carvers, gilders, iron-workers and the rest - all
toiling like cock-angels, and this mad Italian hornet fleeing one to
next up and down the chapel. Done your heart good, it would!'
'I believe you,' said Mr Springett. 'In Eighteen hundred Fifty-four,
I mind, the railway was bein' made into Hastin's. There was
two thousand navvies on it - all young - all strong - an' I was one
of 'em. Oh, dearie me! Excuse me, sir, but was your enemy
workin' with you?'
'Benedetto? Be sure he was. He followed me like a lover. He
painted pictures on the chapel ceiling - slung from a chair.
Torrigiano made us promise not to fight till the work should be
finished. We were both master craftsmen, do ye see, and he
needed us. None the less, I never went aloft to carve 'thout testing
all my ropes and knots each morning. We were never far from
each other. Benedetto 'ud sharpen his knife on his sole while he
waited for his plaster to dry - wheet, wheet, wheet. I'd hear it where
I hung chipping round a pillar-head, and we'd nod to each other
friendly-like. Oh, he was a craftsman, was Benedetto, but his
hate spoiled his eye and his hand. I mind the night I had finished
the models for the bronze saints round the tomb; Torrigiano
embraced me before all the chapel, and bade me to supper. I met
Benedetto when I came out. He was slavering in the porch Like a
'Workin' himself up to it?' said Mr Springett. 'Did he have it in
at ye that night?'
'No, no. That time he kept his oath to Torrigiano. But I pitied
him. Eh, well! Now I come to my own follies. I had never
thought too little of myself; but after Torrisany had put his arm
round my neck, I - I' - Hal broke into a laugh - 'I lay there was not
much odds 'twixt me and a cock-sparrow in his pride.'
'I was pretty middlin' young once on a time,' said Mr Springett.
'Then ye know that a man can't drink and dice and dress fine,
and keep company above his station, but his work suffers for it,
'I never held much with dressin' up, but - you're right! The
worst mistakes I ever made they was made of a Monday
morning,' Mr Springett answered. 'We've all been one sort of
fool or t'other. Mus' Dan, Mus' Dan, take the smallest gouge, or
you'll be spluttin' her stem works clean out. Can't ye see the grain
of the wood don't favour a chisel?'
'I'll spare you some of my follies. But there was a man called
Brygandyne - Bob Brygandyne - Clerk of the King's Ships, a
little, smooth, bustling atomy, as clever as a woman to get work
done for nothin' - a won'erful smooth-tongued pleader. He made
much o' me, and asked me to draft him out a drawing, a piece of
carved and gilt scroll-work for the bows of one of the King's
Ships - the SOVEREIGN was her name.'
'Was she a man-of-war?'asked Dan.
'She was a warship, and a woman called Catherine of Castile
desired the King to give her the ship for a pleasure-ship of her own.
I did not know at the time, but she'd been at Bob to get this
scroll-work done and fitted that the King might see it. I made him
the picture, in an hour, all of a heat after supper - one great
heaving play of dolphins and a Neptune or so reining in webby-
footed sea-horses, and Arion with his harp high atop of them. It
was twenty-three foot long, and maybe nine foot deep - painted
It must ha' justabout looked fine,' said Mr Springett.
'That's the curiosity of it. 'Twas bad - rank bad. In my conceit I
must needs show it to Torrigiano, in the chapel. He straddles his
legs, hunches his knife behind him, and whistles like a storm-cock
through a sleet-shower. Benedetto was behind him. We were
never far apart, I've told you.
'"That is pig's work," says our Master. "Swine's work. You
make any more such things, even after your fine Court suppers,
and you shall be sent away."
'Benedetto licks his lips like a cat. "It is so bad then, Master?"
he says. "What a pity!"
'"Yes," says Torrigiano. "Scarcely you could do things so bad.