Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

66

retired; and his wife came with a little boy to fetch them away; and he called, and said, such a captain had sent such a thing, and such a captain such a thing; and at the end adds: God has sent it all; give thanks to Him." When the poor woman had taken up all, she was so weak, she could not carry it at once in, though the weight was not much neither; so she left the biscuit, which was in a little bag, and left the little boy to watch it till she came again.

Well, but," says I to him, "did you leave her the four shillings too, which you said was your week's pay?"

66

66

Yes, yes," said he; you shall hear her own it." So he calls again: "Rachel, Rachel ”—which it seems was her name— "did you take up the money ?"

σε

66

Yes," said she. How much was it?" said he. "Four shillings and a groat," said she. "Well, well," says he, "the Lord keep you all; and so he turned to go away.

99

99

As I could not refrain contributing tears to this man's story, so neither could I refrain my charity for his assistance; so I called him. "Hark thee, friend," said I," come hither, for I believe thou art in health, that I may venture thee;' so I pulled out my hand, which was in my pocket before, “Here,” said I, “go and call thy Rachel once more, and give her a little more comfort from me; God will never forsake a family that trust in Him as thou dost:' So I gave him four other shillings, and bid him go lay them on the stone, and call his wife.

I have not words to express the poor man's thankfulness, neither could he express it himself, but by tears running down his face. He called his wife, and told her God had moved the heart of a stranger, upon hearing their condition, to give them all that money; and a great deal more such as that he said to her. The woman, too, made signs of the like thankfulness, as well to Heaven as to me, and joyfully picked it up; and I parted with no money all that year that I thought better bestowed. DEFOE.

:

MEANINGS 1. Bow, at the time this story was written about 200 years agowas a small village to the east of London. 2. Taking water, getting into a boat. 8. Desolate, lonely. 4. Visited, sick of the plague. 5. Come at them; go near them. 6. Venture thee, not be afraid to come near thee.

THE MILLER OF MANSFIELD.

227

THE MILLER OF MANSFIELD.

The king has been hunting in Sherwood Forest (in Nottinghamshire), has been parted from his companions, and has lost his way. He meets a miller (of Mansfield, a village near Nottingham) who at first does not know whom he is addressing.

KING, MILLER, and COURTIER.

King. No, no; this can be no public road, that's certain. I have lost my way, undoubtedly. Of what advantage is it now to be a king? Night shows me no respect; I cannot see better, nor walk so well as another man. When a king is lost in a wood, what is he more than other men? His wisdom knows not which is north and which is south; his power a beggar's dog would bark at, and the beggar himself would not bow to his greatness. And yet how often are we puffed up with these false attributes! Well, in losing the monarch, I have found the man. But, hark! somebody sure is near. What is it best to do? Will my majesty protect me? No. Throw majesty aside, then, and let manhood do it.

Miller. I believe I hear the rogue. Who's there?

King. No rogue, I assure you.

Miller. Little better, friend, I believe. Who fired that gun ?
King. Not I, indeed.

Miller. You lie, I believe.

King. Lie-lie! how strange it seems to me to be talked to in this style. Upon my word, I don't, sir.

Miller. Come, come, sir, confess; you have shot one of the king's deer, haven't you?

King. No, indeed; I owe the king more respect. I heard the re port of a gun, to be sure, and was afraid some robbers might have been near.

Miller. I am not bound to believe this, friend. Pray, who are you? What's your name?

King. Name?

Miller. Name! ay, name. You have a name, haven't you? Where do you come? What is your business here ?

King. These are questions I have not been used to, honest man. Miller. May be so; but they are questions no honest man would be afraid to answer; so, if you can give no better account of yourself, I shali make bold to take you along with me, if you please.

King. With you? What authority have you to

Miller. The king's authority: if I must give you an account. Sir, I am John Cockle, the miller of Mansfield, one of his majesty's keepers in the forest of Sherwood, and I will let no suspicious fellow pass this way, unless he can give a better account of himself than you have done, I promise you.

King. Very well, sir; I am very glad to hear the king has so good

an officer; and, since I find you have his authority, I will give you a better account of myself, if you will do me the favour to hear it.

Miller. You don't deserve it, I believe; but let me hear what you can say for yourself.

King. I have the honour to belong to the king as well as you, and perhaps should be as unwilling to see any wrong done him. I came down with him to hunt in this forest, and the chase leading us today a great way from home, I am benighted in this wood, and have lost my way.

Miller. This does not sound well: if you have been a hunting, pray where is your horse.

King. I have tired my horse, so that he lay down under me, and I was obliged to leave him.

Miller. If I thought I might believe this, now!

King. I am not accustomed to lié, honest man.

Miller. What, do you live at court, and not lie! Ha, ha, ha! That's a likely story, indeed!

King. Be that as it will, I speak truth now, I assure you; and to convince you of it, if you will attend me to Nottingham, or give me a night's lodging in your house, here is something to pay you for your trouble, and, if that is not sufficient, I will satisfy you in the morning to your utmost desire.

Miller. Ay, now I am convinced you are a courtier; here is a little bribe for to day, and a large promise for to-morrow, both in a breath. Here, take it again; John Cockle is no courtier. He can do what he ought, without a bribe.

King. Thou art a very extraordinary man, I must confess, and I should be glad, methinks, to be further acquainted with thee.

Miller. I pray thee, don't thee and thou me at this rate. I suppose I am as good a man as yourself at least.

King. Sir, I beg pardon.

Miller. Nay, I am not angry, friend; only I don't love to be too familiar with you, until I am satisfied as to your honesty.

King. You are right. But what am I to do ?

Miller. You may do what you please. You are twelve miles from Nottingham, and all the way through this thick wood; but, if you are resolved upon going thither to-night, I will put you in the road and direct you the best I can; or, if you will accept of such poor entertainment as a miller can give, you shall be welcome to stay all night, and in the morning I will go with you myself.

King. And cannot you go with me to-night?

Miller. I would not go with you to-night, if you were the king himself.

King. Then I must go with you, I think.

Courtier. Ah! is your majesty safe? We have hunted the forest over to find you.

Miller. How! are you the king? Your Majesty will pardon the

229

ill usage you have received. [The king draws his sword.] His majesty surely will not kill a servant for doing his duty too faithfully?

WILLIAM TELL.

King. No, my good fellow. So far from having anything to pardon, I am much your debtor. I cannot think but so good and honest a man will make a worthy and honourable knight. Rise, SIR JOHN COCKLE, and receive this sword as a badge of knighthood, and a pledge of my protection; and to support your nobility, and in some measure requite you for the pleasure you have done us, a thousand crowns a year shall be your revenue. DODDRIDGE.

WILLIAM TELL.

The following is Mr. Knowles's version of the famous interview between William Tell and Gesler, the Austrian viceroy. The conversation is in blank verse; but it is here printed as prose.

TELL, ALBERT (his Son), GESLER, and SARNEM.

Sar. [To Tell.] Behold the Governor!

knees, and beg for mercy.

Ges. Does he hear?

Sar. He does, but braves thy power. Down, slave, and ask for life.

Down, slave, upon thy

Ges. [To Tell.] Why speak'st thou not?

Tell. For wonder! Yes, for wonder-that thou seem'st a man. Ges. What should I seem?

Tell. A monster.

Ges. Ha! Beware!-think on thy chains.

Tell. Think on my chains! How came they on me?

Ges. Dar'st thou question me! Beware my vengeance.
Tell. Can it more than kill?

Ges. Enough; it may do that.

Tell. No, not enough:-it cannot take away the grace of life—the comeliness of look that virtue gives-its port erect, with consciousness of truth-its rich attire of honourable deeds-its fair report that's rife on good men's tongues:-it cannot lay its hand on these, no more than it can pluck his brightness from the sun, or with polluted finger tarnish it.

Ges. But it may make thee writhe.

Tell. It may, and I may say, "Go on!" though it should make me groan again.

Ges. Whence comest thou?

Tell. From the mountains; there they watch no more the ava lanche.

Ges. Why so?

Tell. Because they look for thee. The hurricane comes unawares upon them from its bed the torrent breaks and finds them in its track

:

Ges. What then?

Tell. They thank kind providence it is not thou! Thou hast perverted nature in them. The earth presents her fruits to them, and is not thanked. There's not a blessing Heaven vouchsafes them, but the thought of thee doth wither to a curse-as something they must lose, and had far better lack.

Ges. 'Tis well. I'd have them as their hills-that never smile, though wanton summer tempt them e'er so much.

Tell. But they do sometimes smile.

Ges. Ah! when is that?

Tell. When they do talk of vengeance! And the true hands are lifted up to Heaven on every hill for justice on thee.

Ges. [To Sarnem.] Lead in his son. Now I will take exquisite vengeance. [To Tell.] I would see thee make a trial of thy skill with that same bow. Tis said thy arrows never miss.

Tell. What is the trial.

Ges. Thou look'st upon thy boy as though instinctively thou guessest it.

Tell. Look upon my boy! What mean you? Look upon my boy as though I guessed it!-Guessed at the trial thou wouldst have me make! Guessed it-instinctively! Thou dost not mean-no, nothou wouldst not have me make a trial of my skill upon my child? Impossible! I do not guess thy meaning.

+

Ges. I'd see thee hit an apple on his bead, three hundred paces off. Tell. Great Heaven!

Ges. On this condition I will spare his life and thine.

Tell. Ferocious monster! make a father murder his own child!'Tis beyond horror! 'tis too much for flesh and blood to bear.

Ges. Dost thou consent ?

Tell. My hands are free from blood, and have no gust for it, that they should drink my child's. I'll not murder my boy for Gesler! Boy. You will not hit me, father. You'll be sure to hit the apple. Will you not save me, father?

Tell. Lead me forth-I'll make the trial.

Boy. Father

Tell. Speak not to me;-let me not hear thy voice-thou must be dumb, and so should all things be. Earth should be dumb, and heaven, unless its thunder muttered at the deed, and sent a bolt to stop it. Give me my bow and quiver.

Ges. When all is ready. Sarnem, measure hence the distancethree hundred paces.

Tell. Will he do it fairly?

Ges. What is't to thee fairly or not?

Tell. Oh, nothing! a little thing! a very little thing! I only shoot

« AnteriorContinuar »