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his habitation must be there; it were great wisdom to be advised, that he do a man no dishonour."
" God's arms !" quoth a rioter, “is it such peril then to meet him ? I make a vow by God's worthy bones to seek him by style, and eke by street. Hearken, companions; we three are as one. Let each hold up his hand, and each become the other's brother, and we will slay, this false traitor, Death. By God's dignity, ere it be night, he shall be slain, that hath slain so many."
Then these three plighted their troth to live and die together like brothers. And up they started in their drunken rage, and went forth towards the village of which the Taverner had spoken. Many a grisly oath they swore, tearing the blessed body of Christ ;-"Death shall die, an we may meet him.”
They had not gune quite a mile, when, just as they were crossing over a gate they met a poor old man, who greeted them meekly, and said, “ Now God sain ye, lordings." The proudest of the three rioters answered, “What, old churl ! why art thou so closely wrapt up except thy face? And why dost live so long to such great age ?" The old man looked him full in the face and replied, “ Because I can find no man neither in city, nor in village, though I should walk to India, who would change his youth for my age : therefore I must bear that age as long as it is God's will. Alas! Death will not take my life, and thus I walk, like a restless caitiff, and on the ground, which is my mother's gate, knuck early and late with my staff, saying, “ Mother, let me in. Lo! how I fall away, flesh and blood and skin. When, alas! shall my bones repose? Mother, I would change with you the chest that hath been so long time in my chamber, for a hair shroud to wrap me in. But yet will she not do me that grace ; therefore my face is wrinkled. And now sirs, it shows little courtesy in you to speak rudely to an old man, unless he trespass in word or deed. You may read yourself in holy writ, that you should arise before the hoary head; therefore, I advise ye, do no more harm to an old man now, than ye would should be done unto you in your age, if that ye may so long sojourn, and God be with ye, whether ye walk or ride. I must thither where I have to go.” .
“ Nay, old churl,” said one of these Hazarders, “ by St. John, you part not so lightly. Just now you spoke of that
traitor, Death, who in this country slays all our friends. You are his spy, I swear. Tell me where he is, or by God. and the Holy Sacrament thou shalt die; for in truth, thou false thief, thou art in league with him to slay us young folks.”
“ Nay, sirs," said the old man, “if you are so hot upon finding Death, turn up this crooked path, for truly I left him under a tree in yonder grove; and there will he stay, nor will he hide himself for all your boasting. You see yon oak? Exactly there you will find him; so Christ, that redeemed all mankind, save and amend you.”
Then these Rioters ran until they came to the tree, where they found fine florins of gold, in quantity, as they thought, near seven bushels. Upon this they sought no longer for Death, but all were so delighted at the sight, the florins being bright and fair, that down they sate by the precious hoard. The worst of them spoke first.
“ Brethren,” quothed he,.“ take heed to what I say, for my wit is great though I am a roisterer. Fortune hath given us this treasure that we may live in mirth and jollity, and lightly as it has come, so will we spend it. God's precious heart !-Who this morning would have thought we should receive so fair a grace? Now could we carry our gold home to my house or to yours,—for well I wot the gold is oursthen were we all in high felicity : But truly this may not be by day? for men would call us strong thieves, and hang us for our good luck. The treasure must be carried off by night as cunningly as possible; therefore my advice is, that we draw lots amongst us, and he who has the shortest cut shall run blithely and secretly to the town, to fetch us bread and drink, while the other two guard the treasure. Let him not tarry, and when it is night we will agree upon a place to which the gold may be carried.
Hereupon one of them brought grass in his hand, and bade the others draw, when the lot fell upon the youngest, and forthwith he set out for the town. No sooner was he gone, than the one spoke to the other, saying “thou knowest well that we are sworn brothers, and therefore will I tell thee anon, how thou mayest profit. Thou seest our fellow is gone, and here is gold in great plenty too, which is to be divided amongst us three. Nathless, if I can so shape matters that it shall be divided amongst us two, shall I not do thee a friendly turn?"
The other answered, “I know not how this can be. I could well wish that the gold were for us two alone, but what shall we do that it may be so ?
“ Shall it be counsel then?” quothed the first, “ If so, I will tell you in few words what we shall do to bring this to
" I plight thee my troth,” quothed the other, “ that I will not betray thee.”
“ Then,” quothed he, “ you wot well we are twain, and twain are stronger than one. Look, when he is seated, do you get up, and I will rive him through the sides, while you struggle with him as in sport. Do you the same with your dagger, and all the gold, my dear friend, shall be departed between you and me. Then may we both enjoy our lusts, and play at dice even to our pleasure.”
Thus was it accorded between the two to slay the third, as ye have heard me say.
The youngest, he that went to the town, kept revolving in his heart the beauty of these fair bright florins, and said to himself as he paced along," O Lord, if it could be so that I might have all his treasure to myself, there is no man liveth under the throne of God, should then live so merrily as I would."
And at the last, the fiend, our enemy, put it into his thoughts to buy poison, with which to slay his two fellows; for the fiend found him living so lewdly that he lusted to bring him to sorrow. He therefore moved the drunkard, to slay them both and never to repent.
Forth then went the Rioter, without more delay, to an apothecary in the town, and prayed him for some poison, saying that he wished to quell his rats withall; moreover, he added, there was a pole-cat that infested his house, slaying his capons, and he could well wish to be rid of such destroying vermin. To this demand the apothecary an. swered, “ Thou shalt have-as God shall save my soul a confecture so poisonous, that no creature in all this world can eat or drink of it, be it only the quantity of a corn of wheat, but he anon shall lose his life; yea, he shall die, and that in less time than thou canst walk a mile, so strong and violent is the poison.
And now this cursed man hath taken in his hand the poison enclosed in a box, and went into the next street to borrow three large bottles of a man. Into two of these he poured the drug ; the third he kept clean for his own drink, for he expected to sweat throughout the night in carrying away the gold. Having filled the three bottles with sorry grace, he again repaired to his fellows.
What needeth it to sermon more hereof? for rights as they had before cast his death, so have they slain him, and that anon. When it was accomplished then spake the one, say ing, “ let us sit and drink and make us merry.”—And they buried the body of their fellow. Afterwards one took the bottle wherein the poison' was, and having drank of it, gave it to his companion, who also drank of it, through which anon they both died. Thus ended the two homicides, and eke the false empoisoner, and thus found they death beneath the oak.
THE HAMPSHIRE FARMER'S LETTER.
TO THE EDITOR.
Sir, I am one of those unfortunate parents, who, as my wife observes, are blest, but as experience tells me, are curst, with a son who is cleverer than his father. I was born to a considerable estate in Hampshire; and although I make the observation, was considered as a youth of rising genius and ability, being known all over the country for the superior way in which I smoked hams, cured bacon, and held the plough. I early imbibed an aversion to literature, from the appearance of our village curate, who was a poet and a philosopher, but throve so much worse on these qualities than our family did on bacon, that I determined never to introduce a book into our cottage, except the Art of Cookery and the Prayer Book. I kept this vow until my son attained the age of fourteen years, and as I often boasted to my neighbours, knew neither how to write nor read. One unhappy evening, when I had invited the learned curate to try the goodness of my new-made wines, and cream cheeses, the conversation turned on the subject of education. “I vow," said our guest to my wife, “ you should send your son William to the grammar school at Winchester; it was there I picked up my learning ;" and your leanness too, thought, f. “ No, no, Mr. Curate, William shall never
during my lifetime, be guilty of knowing how to write or read verses or any such stuff. I have heard of your poets and philosophers," I added, casting a glance at my reverend friend's length of face, and scantiness of apparel," and never shall my son lose the ruddiness of his cheek, or the peace of his mind, for all the talent that a year's schooling can bring.” The subject was now dropped for some time, until' again resumed by the policy of the curate, who was my wife's agent in this concerted scheme. “ Pray, good folks,” said he addressing us all, “ who wrote the Psalms ?” “ Pro. verbs,” cried I, with a cunning look of intelligence; “ Revelations,” screamed my wife; “ Job,” roared my daughter; “ Moses,” shrieked my sister; “ David," whined my son. « Well done, my boy,” exclaimed the curate; and after a few well-feigned hysterics on the part of my wife, to which my children furnished a chorus, I was prevailed upon to send William to Winchester.
A sad alteration has since taken place in our family; my poor boy has returned from school, but so altered both in person and manner, that even the acute instinct of parental affection can scarcely recognize him. His cheeks, which were once as red as the sun at mid-day, and as broad, Mr. Editor, as a Christmas ham, are now wan and pale; and to aggravate, if possible, my distress, he actually exults in the change, and tells me that the red cheeks are completely out of fashion ; and that a poet should always be like a Daddy Longlegs. “ An author, sir," said he, “ should be as thin as the poet of old, who was compelled to put lead into his pockets, lest he should be blown away by the violence of the wind.” “ Ah! Will,” said I, “the brass in your face will supersede the necessity of wearing lead in your pocket;" and pleased, for an instant, at the only joke I ever brought forth that was not still-born, resumed awhile my wonted mirth and good humour.
It was but the other day Mr. Editor, that I met my son at the door, drenched to the skin, and disfigured with mud; on enquiring into the cause of his disaster, he informed me that he had been endeavouring to imitate the character of a shepherd, in Pope's Pastorals. “ The Pope's Pastorals," I exclaimed, “ what, are you going to desert the religion of your ancestors, and turn Catholic, you unnatural heretic?" “ No, father," said he, with a rueful smile, “ Pope was a poet, who wrote verses about shepherds, and demons, and