Stories of the Giants Page 3

Tom the Tinkard

 

Tom And The Giant Blunderbuss; Or The Wheel And Exe Fight.

Young giant, who does not appear to have been known by any other name than Tom, lived somewhere westward of Hayle, probably in Lelant. Tom would eat as much meat as three men, and when he was in the humour he could do as much work as half a dozen. Howbeit, Tom was a lazy fellow, and spent most of his time wandering about the parish with his hands in his pockets. Occasionally Tom would have an industrious fit; then, if he found any of his neighbours hedging, he would turn to and roll in all the largest rocks from over the fields, for "grounders". This was the only work Tom took delight in; he was won't to say, he could feel his strength about such work as that Tom didn't appear so very big a man in those days, when all men were twice the size they are now. He was about four feet from shoulder to shoulder, square built, and straight all the way down from shoulder to cheens (loins).

Tom's old mother was constantly telling her idle son to do something to earn his food, but the boy couldn't find any job to his mind for a long time. At last he undertook to drive a brewer's wain, in the hope of getting into plenty of strong drink, and he went to live in Market-Jew, where the brewery was. The, first day he was so employed, he was going to St Ives with his load of beer, and on the road he saw half a score of men trying to lift a fallen tree on to a "draw." It was, however, more than the whole of them could do.
"Stand clear!" shouts Tom.
He put his hands, one on each side of the tree, and lifted it on the "draw," without so much as saying "Ho!' to his oxen, or looking behind him. The feat was performed in Ludgvan Lees, and a little farther on was a giant's place diverting the road, which should have gone straight to St Ives but for it. This place was hedged in with great rocks, which no ten men of these times could move. They call them the Giant's Hedges to the present day. There was a gate on that side of the giant's farm which was nearest Market-Jew, and another on that side which joined the highway leading on to St Ives. Tom looked at the gate for some time, half disposed to drive through, but eventually he decided on proceeding by the ordinary road. When, however, Tom was coming back from St Ives with his empty wain, his courage screwed up by the influence of some three or four gallons of strong beer which he had drunk, he began to reason with himself thus:
"The king's highway ought not to be twisting and turning like an angle-twitch. It should go straight through here. What right has the giant to keep his place closed, stopping honester men than he ever was longer on the road home? If everybody were of my mind, the road would soon be opened. Faith, I'll drive through. He wouldn't eat me, I suppose. My old mammy never told me I was to come to my end that way. They say the giant has had scores of wives. What becomes of them nobody can tell; yet there are always more ready to supply their place. Well, that 's no business of mine. I never met the man to make me turn back yet; so come along, Neat and Comely," shouts Tom to the oxen, opening the great gate for them to pass through. On went Tom, without seeing anything of the giant or of anybody else, except the fat cattle of all sorts in the fields. After driving about a mile, Tom came to a pair of gates in a high wall, which was close to and surrounding the giant's castle. There was no passing round those, as deep ditches, full of water, were on either side of these gates. So at them went Tom. The huge gates creaked on their hangings and the wheels of Tom's wain rattled on over the causey. A little ugly midgan of a cur began to bark, and out tore the giant, a great ugly unshapely fellow, all head and stomach.
"You impudent little villain," roared the giant, "to drive into my grounds, disturbing my afternoon's nap. What business have you here?"
"I am on the road," says Tom, "and you--nor a better man than you--shan't put me back. You ha' no right to build your hedges across what used to be the king's highway, and shall be again."
"I shan't bemean myself to talk with such a little saucy blackguard as thee art," said the giant; "I'll get a twig, and drive thee out faster than 'thee came in."
"Well," says Tom, "you may keep your breath to cool your porridge; but, if that's the game you are up to, I can play at that as well as you."
The giant had pulled up a young elm-tree, about twenty feet high or so, and he began stripping the small branches from the head of the tree, as he came up the hill, gaping (yawning) all the time, .as if he were half asleep. Tom, seeing what he was up to, upset his wain. this he did without the oxen moving, as the tuntsy (pole) turned round in the ring of the yoke. He then slipped off the further wheel in a wink, hauled out the exe (axle-tree) fast in the other wheel, against the giant came up. (In old time the axle was made to work in gudgeons under the carts or wains.)
"Now then," says Tom, "fair play for the buttons. If you can beat me, I'll go back. The exe and wheel is my sword and buckler, which I'll match against your elm-tree." Then Torn began whistling.
The giant got round the uphill side, lifted his tree, and tore towards Tom without saying a word, as if he would cleave him from head to heel.
Tom lifted the axle-tree, with the wheel, up, to guard off the blow of the giant's twig--the giant being in such a towering passion to hear Tom coolly whistling all the time, that he couldn't steady himself. He missed Tom's head, struck the edge of the wheel, and, the ground being slippery, the giant fell upon his face on the ground. Tom might have driven the " exe" through him as he lay sprawling in the mud, and so have nailed him to the earth; but no, not he! Tom would rather be killed than not fight fair, so he just tickled the giant under the ribs with the end of the "exe." "Come, get up," says Tom, "let 's have another turn." The giant rose very slowly, as if he were scarcely able to stand, bent double, supporting himself on his twig. He was only dodging--the great cowardly skulk--to get the uphill side again, and take Tom unawares; but he was waiting with his right hand grasping the "exe," the wheel resting on the ground. Quick as lightning the giant raised his tree. Tom fetched him a heavy kick on the shins, he slipped, fell forward, and Tom so held the "exe," that it passed through his body like a spit. Good Lord, how the giant roared!
"Thee stop thy bleating," says Tom. "Stand quiet a moment. Let 's draw the exe out of thy body, and I'II give thee a chance for another round. Thee doesn't deserve it, because thee aren't playing fair."
Tom turned the giant over, laid hold of the wheel, and dragged out the "exe." In doing this he was nearly blinded with the blood that spouted out of the hole. Blunderbuss rolled on the ground like an empty sack, roaring amain all the time in great agony.
"Stop thy bleating," says Tom, "and put thy hands in the hole the 'exe' has made in thee, to keep in the blood, until I can cut a turf to stop up the place, and thee will'st do again yet."
As Tom was plugging the wound with the turfs, the giant groaned and said, "It's all no good; I shall kick the bucket. I feel myself going round land; but with my last breath I 'll do thee good, because I like thee better than anybody else I ever met with, for thy fair play and courage. The more thee wouldst beat me, the better I should like thee. I have no near relations. There is heaps of gold, silver, copper, and tin down in the vaults of the castle, guarded by two dogs. Mind there names are Catchem and Tearem. Only call them by these names and they'll let thee pass. The land from this to the sea is all mine. There is more head of oxen, cows, sheep, goats, and deer, than thee canst count. Take them all, only bury me decent."
"Did you kill all your wives?" asked Tom.
"No," sighed the giant, "they died natural. Don't let them abuse me after death. I like thee as a brother."
"Cheer up," says Torn, "you 'll do again."
He then tried to raise the giant up, but the plug of turf slipped from the wound, and all was over.
Tom put the wheel and axle in order, turned over the wain, and drove home to Market-Jew. The brewer was surprised and well pleased to see Tom back so early, and offered him good wages to stop for the year.
"I must leave this very night," says Tom, "for my old granfer, who lived up in the high countries, is dead. I am his nearest relation. He lived all alone. He 's left me all his money and lands, so I must go and bury my old granfer this very night." The brewer was about to pay him for his day's work--" Oh, never mind that," says Tom; " I 'll give up that for as much beer as I can drink with supper."
After supper Torn went and took possession of the giant's castle and lands--nobody the wiser except a little woman, the giant's last wife, who came from some place not far from the castle. Some name Crowlas, some Tregender, others Bougiehere, as the place where she dwelt. Howbeit, she knew all about the giant's overthrow, and thought it the wisest course to "take up" at once with Torn; and she being a tidy body, Tom was by no means unwilling. Tom and this woman took possession of the castle. They buried the giant down in the bottom, and placed a block of granite to keep him down. They gave the carcass of a sheep to Catchem and Tearem, visited the caves of the castle, found lots of treasure, and fairly got into the giant's shoes.

Tom The Giant, His Wife Jane, And Jack The Tinkeard, As Told By The "Drolls."

When Tom and his wife had settled themselves in the giant's castle, they took good care not to allow any one to make a king's highway across their grounds. Tom made the hedges higher, and the gates stronger than ever, and he claimed all the run of land on the sea-side, and enclosed it. Tom's wife, Jane, was a wonderful cleanly body--the castle seemed to be always fresh swept and sanded, while all the pewter plates and platters shone like silver. She never quarrelled with Tom; except when he came in from hedging covered with mud; then in a pet she would threaten to go home to her mother. Jane was very famous for her butter and cheese, and Tom became no less so for his fine breed of cattle, so that he fared luxuriously, and all went on happily enough with Tom and his wife. They had plenty of children, and these were such fine healthy babies, that it took two or three of the best cows to feed them, when but a few weeks old. Tom and Jane thought that they had all that part of the world to themselves, and that no one could scale their hedges or break through their gates. They soon found their mistake. Tom was working one morning, not far from the gate, on the Market-Jew side of his property, when he heard a terrible rattle upon the bars. Running up, he saw a man with a hammer smashing away, and presently down went the bars, and in walked a travelling tinkeard, with his bag of tools on his back.
"Holla where are you bound for?" says Tom.
"Bound to see if the giant, whom they say lives up here, wouldn't let a body pass through where the road ought to be," says the tinkeard.
"Oh, ay! are you?" says Tom.
"He must be a better man than I am who stops me," says the tinkeard. "As you are a fine stout chap, I expect you are the giant's eldest son. I see you are hedging. That 's what all the people complain of. You are hedging in all the country."
"Well," says Tom, "if I am his son, I can take my dad's part any way; and we 'll have fair play too. I don't desire better fun than to try my strength with somebody that is a man. Come on. Any way you like--naked fists, single-stick, wrestling, bowling, slinging, or throwing the quoits."
"Very well," says the tinkeard, " I 'll match my blackthorn stick against anything in the way of timber that you can raise on this place."
Tom took the bar which the tinker had broken from the gate, and said, "I'll try this piece of elm if you don't think it too heavy."
"Don't care if it 's heavier. Come on!"
The tinkeard took the thorn-stick in the middle, and made it fly round Tom's head so fast that he couldn't see it. It looked like a wheel whizzing round his ears, and Tom soon got a bloody nose and two black eyes. Tom's blows had no effect on the tinkeard, because he wore such a coat as was never seen in the West Country before. It was made out of a shaggy black bull's hide, dressed whole with the hair on. The skin of the forelegs made the sleeves, the hind quarters only were cut, pieces being let in to make the spread of the skirts, while the neck and skin of the head formed a sort of hood. The whole appeared as hard as iron; and when Tom hit the tinkeard, it sounded, as if the coat roared, like thunder. They fought until Tom got very hungry, and he found he had the worst of it. " I believe thee art the devil, and no man," says Tom. "Let 's see thy feet before thee dost taste any more of my blood."
The tinkeard showed Tom that he had no cloven foot, and told him that it depended more on handiness than strength to conquer with the single-stick; and that a small man with science could beat a big man with none. The tinkeard then took the clumsy bar of the gate from Tom, gave him his own light and tough blackthorn, and proceeded to teach him to make the easiest passes, cuts, &c. Whilst the two men were thus engaged, Jane had prepared the dinner, and called her husband three times. She wondered what could be keeping Tom, as he was always ready to run to his dinner at the first call. At length she went out of the castle to seek for him, and surprised she was, and--if truth must be told--rather glad to see another man inside the gates, which no one had passed for years. Jane found Tom and the tinkeard tolerable friends by this time, and she begged them both to come into dinner, saying to the tinkeard that she wished she had something better to set before him. She was vexed that Tom hadn't sent her word, that she might have prepared something better than the everlasting beef and pease; and vowed she would give him a more savoury mess for supper, if she had to go to the hills for a sheep or a kid herself.
At length the men were seated at the board, which groaned beneath the huge piece of boiled beef, with mountains of pease pudding, and they soon got fairly to work. Jane then went to the cellar, and tapped a barrel of the strongest beer, which was intended to have been kept for a tide (feast). Of the meat, Tom ate twice as much as the tinkeard, and from the can of ale he took double draughts. The tinkeard ate heartily, but not voraciously; and, for those days, he was no hard drinker. Consequently, as soon as dinner was over, Tom fell back against the wall, and was quickly snoring like a tempest. His custom was to sleep two or three hours after every meal. The tinkeard was no sleepy-head, so he told Jane to bring him all her pots and pans which required mending, and he would put them in order. He seated himself amidst a vast pile, and was soon at work. The louder Tom snored, the more Jack rattled and hammered away at the kettles; and ere Tom was awake, he had restored Jane's cooking vessels to something like condition.
At length Tom awoke, and, feeling very sore, he begged the tlnkeard to put off until to-morrow a wrestling-match which they had talked of before dinner. The tinkeard, nothing loath, agreed; so Tom took him up to the topmost tower of the castle, to show him his lands and his cattle. For miles and miles, farther over the hill than the eye could reach, except on the southern side, everything belonged to Tom. In this tower they found a long and strong bow. Tom said none but the old giant could bend it. He had often tried, and fretted because he could not bring the string to the notch. The tinkeard took the bow; he placed one end to his toe, and, by what appeared like sleight-of-hand to Tom, he bent the bow, brought the string to the notch, sent the arrow off--thwang,--and shot a hare so far away that it could hardly be seen from the heath and ferns. Tom was surprised, until the tinkeard showed him how to bend the bow, more by handiness than strength, and again he killed a kid which was springing from rock to rock on the cairns far away. The hare and kid were brought home, cooked for supper, and the tinkeard was invited to stop all night.
The story ordinarily rambles on, telling of the increasing friendship between the three, and giving the tinkeard's story of himself, which was so interesting to Tom and Jane that they stayed up nearly all night to hear it. He told how he was born and bred in a country far away--more than a score days' journey from this land, far to the north and east of this, from which it was divided by a large river. This river the tinkeard had swam across ; then there was a week's journey in a land of hills and cairns, which were covered with snow a great part of the year. In this land there were many giants, who digged for tin and other treasures. With these giants he had lived and worked,--they always treated him well; indeed, he always found the bigger the man the more gentle. Half the evil that's told about them by the cowardly fools who fear to go near them is false. Many, many more strange things did the tinkeard tell. Amongst other matters, he spoke of wise men who came from a city at no great distance from this land of tin for the purpose of buying the tin from the giants, and they left them tools, and other things, that the diggers required in exchange. One of these merchants took a fancy to the tinkeard, named him Jack--he had no name previously--and removed him to the city, where Jack was taught his trade, and many other crafts. The tinkeard had left that city four months since, and worked his way down to Market-Jew. Being there, he heard of the giant, and he resolved to make his acquaintance. The rest has been told.
While this, which was a long story, was being told, Jack the Tinkeard was enjoying Jane's new barley-bread, with honey and cream, which he moistened with metheglin. "Good night, Tom," says he at last; "you see you have lived all your days like a lord on his lands, and know nothing. I never knew father or mother, never had a home to call my own. All the better for me, too. If I had possessed one, I would never have known one-thousandth part of what I have learned by wandering up and down in the world."
Morning came; and, after breakfast, Tom proposed to try "a hitch" on the grass in the castle court. Jack knew nothing of wrestling; so he told Tom he had never practised, but still he would try his strength. Tom put the tinkeard on his back at every "hitch," but he took all the care he could not to hurt him. At last the tinkeard cried for quarter, and declared Tom to be best man.
Jane had made a veal-and-parsley pie, and put it down to bake, when, being at leisure, she came out to see the sport. Now, it must be remembered the tinkeard had broken down the gate, and no one had thought of repairing it, or closing the opening. Two men of Tregender were coming home from Bal, and passing the giant's gate, they thought it very strange that it should be broken down. After consulting for some time, they summoned all their courage, and--it must be confessed, with fear and trembling--they crawled into the grounds, and proceeded towards the castle. Now, no one in that country except Tom and Jane knew that the old giant was dead.
The two men turned round a corner, and saw three very large children playing. The baby, a year old, was riding an old buck-goat about the field. The two elder children, Tom Vean and young Jane, were mounted on a bull, back to back, one holding on by the horns, and the other by the tail, galloping round the field like mad, followed by the cows and dogs,--a regular "cow's courant."
"Lord, you," says one of the men to the other, "what dost a' think of that for a change?"
"But to think," says the other, "that the old giant should ever have a wife and young children here, and the people knaw nothing about it."
"Why, don't everybody say that he ate all his wives and chil'ren too. What lies people tell, don't they, you?"
"Le 's go a little farther; he won't eat we, I suppose."
"I 'll throw my pick and sho'el down the throat of an, as soon as a' do open as jaws."
"Look you," now shouts the other, "you come round a little farther just peep round the corner and thee meest see two fellows wrestling, and a woman looking on."
"Can I believe my eyes, you? Don't that woman look something like Jane I used to be courson of?"
The miners satisfied themselves that it was Jane, sure enough, and quietly beat a retreat. Soon was St Ives in a state of excitement, and all Jane's cousins, believing from the accounts given by the miners that Jane was well off, resolved to pay her a visit. These visits worked much confusion in Tom's castle and family. He and his wife quarrel, but the tinkeard is the never-failing friend. All this part of the story is an uninteresting account of fair-weather friends.
Jack the Tinkeard taught Tom how to till his ground in a proper manner. He had hitherto contented himself with gathering wild herbs, -- such as nettles, wild beet, mallows, elecampane, various kinds of lentils, and chick or cat-peas. Jack now planted a garden for his friends,--the first in Cornwall,--and they grew all kinds of good vegetables. The tinkeard also taught Jane to make malt and to brew beer; hitherto they had been content with barley-wort, which was often sour. Jack would take the children and collect bitter herbs to make the beer keep, such as the alehoof (ground ivy), mugwort, bannell (the broom), agrimony, centuary, woodsage, bettony, and pellitory. Jane's beer was now amongst the choicest of drinks, and her St Ives cousins could never have enough of it. Tom delighted in it, and often drank enough to bewilder his senses.
Tom had followed the example of the old giant, and killed his cattle by flinging rocks at them. The giant's "bowls" are seen to this day scattered all over the country. Jack gave Tom a knife of the keenest edge and finest temper, and taught him how to slaughter the beasts. When a calf was to be skinned, he instructed Tom how to take the skin off whole from the fore legs, by Un-jointing the shoulders, and to remove it entirely clear of grain, and without the smallest scratch. In addition to all this, Tomy Vein (who was now a boy four years old, but bigger than many at ten) must have a coat possessing all the virtues which belonged to the tinkeard's. So a bull-calf's skin was put on to the boy, and Jane had special instructions how she was to allow the coat to dry on his back, and tan and dress it in a peculiar way. The skin thus treated would shrink and thicken up until it came to his shape. Nobody can tell how proud the young Tom was of his coat when all was done, though the poor boy suffered much in the doing.
Now Jack the Tinkeard desired the intrusion of strangers as little as did Tom and Jane, so he set to work to repair the gate which he had broken down. He not only did this, but he constructed a curious latch with the bobbin; it was so contrived that no stranger could find the right end of it, and if they pulled at any other part, the latch was only closed the tighter. While he was at work a swarm of Jane's St Ives cousins came around him; they mistook Jack for Tom, and pointed out how the children, who were playing near him, were like their father. Jack "parlayed with them until he had completed his task, and then he closed the gate in their faces.
Much more of this character is related by the "drolls;" but with the exception of constant alterations of feasting and fighting, there is little of novelty in the story, until at last a grand storm arises between Tom and his wife, who is believed by the husband to be on too intimate terms with Jack the Tinkeard. The result of this is, that Jane goes home to Crowlas, fights with her mother, old Jenny, because old Jenny abuses Tom, which Jane will not allow in her presence While yet at Crowlas another boy is born, called Honey, and, as the cow was not at hand as when she was in the castle, he was nursed by a goat, and it is said a class of his descendants are yet known as the Zennor goats.

 

How Tom and the Tinkeard found the tin, and how it led to Morva Fair

When Tom had fairly thrown the tinkeard in the wrestling match, which, it must be remembered, was seen by the miners of Tregender, at which Tom was much pleased, although he did not express his pleasure, it was settled that Tom was the best man. This was sealed over a barrel of strong ale, and a game of quoits was proposed, while Jane was taking up the dinner. Tom had often wished, but never more so than now, that the green sloping banks against the inside of the castle walls had not been there, that he might have a fair fling of the quoits from end to end of the court. Tom's third throw in this game was a very strong one, and the quoit cut a great piece of turf from the banks, laying bare many gray-looking stones, small rounded balls, and black sandy stuff.
"Look here you, Jack," says Tom; "whatever could possess the old fools of giants to heap up such a lot of black and gray mining-stones against the wall? wherever could they have found them all?"
Jack carefully looked at the stuff thus laid bare, clapped his hands together, and shouted --
"By the gods, it 's all the richest tin!"
Now Tom, poor easy-going soul, "didn't knaw tin;" so he could scarcely believe Jack, though Jack had told him that he came from a tin country.
"Why, Tom," says Jack, "thee art a made man. If these banks are all tin, there is enough here to buy all the land, and all the houses, from sea to sea."
"What do I care for the tin; haven't I all a man can desire ? My lands are all stocked with sheep and horned cattle. We shall never lack the best beef and mutton, and we want no better than our honest homespun."
Jane now made her appearance, announcing that dinner was ready. She was surprised at seeing so much tin, but she didn't say anything. She thought maybe she would get a new gown out of it, and go down to St Ives Fair. Notwithstanding that Tom and Jane professed to treat lightly the discovery of the tin, it was clear they thought deeply about it, and their thoughts spoiled their appetites. It was evidently an accession of wealth which they could not understand.
Tom said he didn't know how to dress tin, it was of little use to him. Jack offered to dress it for the market on shares. Tom told him he might take as much as he had a mind to for what he cared. After dinner, the giant tried to sleep, but could not get a snore for the soul of him. Therefore, he walked out into the court, to get some fresh air, as he said, but in reality to look at the tin. Jane saw how restless Tom was, so she unhung his bows and arrows, and told him he must away to the hills to get some kids and hares.
"I shan't trouble myself with the bows and arrows," says Tom; "all I want are the slings Jack and I have in our pockets. Stones are plenty enough, hit or miss, no matter; and we needn't be at the trouble to gather up the stones again."
Off went Tom and Jack, followed by young Tom and Jane, to the Towednack and Zennor hills. They soon knocked down as many kids, hares, and rabbits as they desired;--they caught some colts, placed the children on two of them and the game on the others, and home they went. On their return, whilst waiting for supper, Jack wandered around the castle, and was struck by seeing a window which he had not before observed. Jack was resolved to discover the room to which this window belonged, so he very carefully noticed its position, and then threw his hammer in through it, that he might be certain of the spot when he found the tool inside of the castle. The next day, after dinner, when Tom was having his snooze, Jack took Jane with him, and they commenced a search for the hammer near the spot where Jack supposed the window should be, but they saw no signs of one in in any part of the walls. They discovered, however, a strangely-fashioned, worm-eaten oak hanging-press. They carefully examined this, but found nothing. At last Jack, striking the back of it with his fist, was convinced, from the sound, that the wall behind it was hollow. He and Jane went steadily to work, and with some exertion they moved the press aside, and disclosed a stone door. They opened this, and there was Jack's hammer lying amidst a pile of bones, evidently the relics of some of old Blunderbuss's wives, whom he had imprisoned in the wall, and who had perished there. Jane was in a great fright, and blessed her good fortune that she had escaped a similar end. Jack, however, soon consoled her by showing her the splendid dresses which were here, and the gold chains, rings, and bracelets, with diamonds and other jewels, which were scattered around. It was agreed that Tom for the present should be kept in ignorance of all this. Tom awoke, his head full of the tin. He consulted with Jack and Jane. They duly agreed to keep their secret, and resolved that they would set to work the very next day to prepare some of the tin stuff for sale. Tom as yet scarcely believed in his wealth, which was magnified as much as possible by Jack, to bewilder him. However, several sacks of tin were duly dressed, and Tom and Jack started with them for Market-Jew, Tom whispering to Jack before he left the castle, that they would bring home a cask of the brewer's best ale with 'em. " It is a lot better than what Jane brews with her old-fashioned yerbes; but don't 'e tell. her so."
The brewer of Market-Jew was also mayor, and, as it appears, tin-smelter, or tin merchant. To him, therefore, Tom went with his black tin, and received not only his cask of beer, but such an amount of golden coin--all of it being a foreign coinage--as convinced him that Jack had not deceived him. This brewer is reputed to have been an exceedingly honest and kind-hearted man, beloved by all. It was his practice, when any of the townspeople came before him, begging him to settle their disputes,--even when they "limbed" one another,--to shut them up in the brewery-yard, give them as much beer as they could drink, and keep them there until they became good friends. Owing to this practice he seldom had enough beer to sell, and was frequently troubled to pay for his barley. This brewer, who was reputed to be "the best mayor that ever was since the creation of gray cats," gave rise, from the above practice of his, to the proverb still in daily use, "Standing, like the mayor of Market-Jew, in his own light."
The mayor was always fat and jolly. He was an especial favourite, too, with the Lord of Pengerswick, who is believed to have helped him out of many troubles. He had bought his tin of Tom and Jack, such a bargain, that he resolved to have some sport, so a barrel of beer was broached in the yard, and the crier was sent round the town to call all hands to a "courant" (merrymaking). They came, you may be certain, in crowds. There was wrestling, hurling,--the length of the Green from Market-Jew to Chyandour, and back again, --.throwing quoits, and slinging. Some amused themselves in pure wantonness by slinging stones over the Mount; so that the old giant, who lived there, was afraid to show above ground, lest his only eye should get knocked out. The games were kept up right merrily until dusk; when in rode the Lord of Pengerswick on his enchanted mare, with a colt by her side. The brewer introduced Tom and Jack, and soon they became the best of friends. Tom invited Pengerswick to his castle, and they resolved to go home at once and make a night of
it. Pengerswick gave Tom the colt, and, by some magic power, as soon as he mounted this beautiful animal, he found himself at home, and the lord, the brewer, and Jack with him. How this was brought about Tom could never tell, but Jack appeared to be in the secret. Tom was amazed and delighted to find Jane dressed like a queen, in silks and diamonds, and the children arrayed in a manner well becoming the dignity of their mother.
Jane, as soon as Tom and Jack had left her, had proceeded to the room in the wall, and with much care removed the jewels, gold, and dresses, caring little, as she afterwards said, for the dead bones, although they rattled as she shook them out of the robes. In a little time she had all the dresses in the main court of the castle, and having well beaten and brushed them, she selected the finest--those she now wore--and put the rest aside for other grand occasions.
The condescension of the great Lord of Pengerswick was something wonderful. He kissed Jane until Tom was almost jealous, and the great lord romped about the court of the castle with the children. Tom was, on the whole, however, delighted with the attention paid to his wife by a real lord, but our clear-headed Jack saw through it all, and took measures accordingly.
Pengerswick tried hard to learn the secret of the stores of tin, but he was foiled by the tinkeard on every tack. You may well suppose how desirous he was of getting Jack out of the way, and eventually he began to try his spells upon him. The power of his necromancy was such, that all in the castle were fixed in sleep as rigid as stones, save Jack. All that the enchanter could do produced no effect on him. He sat quietly looking on, occasionally humming some old troll, and now and then whistling to show his unconcern. At last Pengerswick became enraged, and he drew from his breast a dagger and slyly struck at Jack. The dagger, which was of the finest Eastern steel, was bent like a piece of soft iron against Jack's black hide.
"Art thou the devil?" exclaimed Pengerswick.
"As he 's a friend of yours," says Jack, "you should know his countenance."
"Devil or no devil," roared Pengerswick, "you cannot resist this," and he held before Jack a curiously-shaped piece of polished steel.
Jack only smiled, and quietly unfastening his cow's hide, he opened it. The cross, like a star of fire, was reflected in a mirror under Jack's coat, and it fell from Pengerswick's grasp. Jack seized it, and turning it full upon the enchanter, the proud lord sank trembling to the ground, piteously imploring Jack to spare his life and let him go free. Jack bade the prostrate lord rise from the ground. He kicked him out of the castle, and sent the vicious mare after him. Thus he saved Tom and his family from the power of this great enchanter. In a little time the sleep which had fallen upon them passed away, and they awoke, as though from the effects of a drunken frolic. The brewer hurried home, and Tom and Jack set to work to dress their tin. Tom and Jane's relations and friends flocked around them, but Jack said, "Summer flies are only seen in the sunshine," and he shortly after this put their friendship to the test, by conveying to them the idea that Tom had spent all his wealth. These new friends dropped off when they thought they could get no more, and Tom and Jane were thoroughly disgusted with their summer friends and selfish relations. The tinkeard established himself firmly as an inmate of the castle. No more was said about the right of the public to make a king's highway through the castle grounds. He aided Torn in hedging in the wastelands, and very carefully secured the gates against all intruders. In fact, he also quite altered his politics.
Jack had a desire to go home to Dartmoor to see his mother, who had sent to tell him that the old giant Dart was near death. He started at once, on foot. Tom wished him to have Pengerswick's colt, but Jack preferred his legs. It would be too long a tale to tell the story of his travels. He killed serpents and wild beasts in the woods, and when he came to rivers, he had but to take off his coat, gather up the skirts of it with a string, and stretch out the body with a few sticks,--thus forming a cobble,--Iaunch it on the water, and paddle himself across. He reached home. The old giant was at his last gasp. Jack made him give everything to his mother before he breathed his last. 'When he died, Jack carefully buried him. He then settled all matters for his mother, and returned to the West Country again.
Tom's daughter became of marriageable years, and Jack wished to have her for a wife. Tom, however, would not consent to this, unless he got rid of a troublesome old giant who lived on one of the hills in Morva, which was the only bit of ground between Hayle and St Just which Tom did not possess. The people of Morva were kept in great fear by this giant, who made them bring him the best of everything. He was a very savage old creature, and took exceeding delight in destroying every one's happiness. Some of Tom's cousins lived in Morva, and young Tom fell in love with one of his Morva cousins seven times removed, and by Jack's persuasion, they were allowed by Tom and Jane to marry. It was proclaimed by Jack all round the country that great games would come off on the day of the wedding. He had even the impudence to stick a bill on the giant's door, stating the prizes which would be given to the best games. The happy day arrived, and, as the custom then was, the marriage was to take place at sundown. A host of people from all parts were assembled, and under the influence of Jack and Tom, the games were kept ~p in reat spirit. Jack and Tom, by and by, amused themselves by .itching quoits at the giant's house on the top of the hill. The old giant came out and roared like thunder. All the young men were about to fly, but Jack called them a lot of scurvy cowards, and stayed their flight. Jack made faces at the giant, and challenged him to come down and fight him. The old monster thought he could eat Jack, and presently began to run down the hill,--when, lo! he disappeared. When the people saw that the giant was gone, they took courage, and ran up the hill after Jack, who called on them to follow him.
There was a vast hole in the earth, and there, at the bottom of it, lay the giant, crushed by his own weight, groaning like a volcano and shaking like an earthquake.
Jack knew there was an adit level driven into the hill, and he had quietly, and at night, worked away the roof at one particular part, until he left only a mere shell of rock above, so it was, that, as the giant passed over this spot, the ground gave way. Heavy rocks were thrown down the hole on the giant, and there his bones are said to lie to this day.
Jack was married at once to young Jane, her brother Tom to the Morva girl, and great were the rejoicings. From all parts of the country came in the wrestlers, and never since the days of Gogmagog had there been such terrific struggles between strong men. Quoits were played; and some of the throws of Tom and the tinkeard are still shown to attest the wonderful prowess of this pair. Hurling was played over the wild hills of those northern shores, and they rung and echoed then, as they have often rung and echoed since, with the brave cry, "Guare wheag yw guare teag," which has been translated into "Fair play is good play," - an honourable trait in the character of our Celtic friends. All this took place on a Sunday, and was the origin of Morva Feast and Morva Fair. We are, of course, astonished at not finding some evidence of direct punishment for these offences, such as that which was inflicted on the hurlers at Padstow. This has, however, been explained on the principle that the people were merely rejoicing at the accomplishment of a most holy act, and that a good deed demanded a good day.