Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 1, by William Bottrell, , at sacred-texts.com
Ancient traditions tell us that, long before monks or saints set foot in Cornwall, a mighty race of Titans dwelt in our hills, woods, and carns, who were anciently the masters of the world and the ancestors of the true Celtic race, and who, as they exceeded all other people in health and strength of body, were looked upon as giants. One of this potent race, called the giant Denbras, long dwelt among the hills of Towednack, until one Tom, who lived somewhere about Bowjeyheer, slew him in fair fight and got possession of his treasures, which were the making of many old high-country families, who keep fast hold of some of the riches, thus acquired, to this day.
When Tom was a young man he was always going about with his hands in his pockets, and never cared for doing much except rolling the big rocks from over the fields into the hedges for grounders. About such work as that, he said, he could feel his strength, and get the cramp out of his joints. He was not a very big man to look at for those times, when men in general were twice the size they are now. He was no more than eight feet high, but very broad-backed and square-built—full four feet across from shoulder to shoulder, and the same width all the way down to his cheens (loins), with legs and arms like iron for hardness. Tom's old mammy was always telling him to go and do something to earn his grub, because he would eat a pasty at every meal big enough to serve any two ordinary men. To please her he went over to Market-jew one morning to look for a job. He first called at the old public-house near the road to the Mount, kept by one Honney Chyngwens, who was a famous tin-dealer, brewer, and mayor as well,—and there never was a better mayor of Market-jew. Whenever any of the townfolks had a dispute he would make them fight it out, or drink it out, and if they did not speedily settle the matter he would belabour them with his stout thorn stick until they were sworn friends. There never was such another notable mayor of Market-jew until the first was elected of the mayors who always sat in their own light.
The brewer told Tom that he wanted to send a load of beer over to St. Ives, and would be very glad if Tom would drive over the wain-load
of beer. "With all my heart," says Tom, who soon got three or four yoke of oxen fixed to the wain, and the brewer put on an extra barrel for Tom to drink and to treat folks he might meet on the road. Down by Crowlas a dozen men or more were alongside the road, trying, without being able, to load a dray with a tree which they wanted to take away to build a church. "Stand clear," says Tom, as he came along, and, putting a hand on each side of the tree, lifted it into the dray without so much as saying "Ho" to the oxen. A little farther on the old road from Market-jew to St. Ives (wherever that road was) Tom found that a giant who lived thereabouts had built the walls of his castle-court right across what used to be the high road. "Well," says Tom to himself, "I don't see what right the old villain of a giant has got to build his hedges across the king's highway, and to enclose the common lands, any more than I or anybody else have: the road belongs to go straight through here where he has placed his gate. They say he is a monstrous strong fellow; well, so am I, and which is the best man we will soon try. He waent eat me I s’pose. My old mammy never told me I should come by my death that way at all. I be cuss’d if I don't break down his gates and drive right through." Tom ran full tilt against the giant's gates, smashed them open, and entered, calling out to the oxen, "Come along Spark and Beauty, Brisk and Lively, Wilk and Golden, Neat and Comely;—yo hup; come hither ho." As the wheels rattled over the caunce of the castle-court out came a little yelping cur of a dog, that with his barking waked up the giant, who came out a minute after—stretching himself, rubbing his eyes, and looking at a distance, before he saw Tom and the wain near him.
Tom wasn't the least bit frightened on seeing Old Denbras, the hurler, as most people called the big man, who stood about fifteen feet in his boots. His girth was more than proportionate to his height, because he was very big-bellied, the effect of his gormandizing, old age, and idle life. The hair of his head, from exposure to sun, wind, and rain, had gone to look like a withered brake of heath. His teeth were all worn down to his gums, from grinding up the bones of the goats, which he ate raw, with all the skin on. "Hallo!" says the giant, "Who are you, you little scrub, to have the impudence to drive in here and disturb my nap. Es the beer for me? I didn't expect any." "You are heartily welcome to a drink," Tom answered, "but I am on my way to St. Ives, and will keep upon the old road, and the right road too, in spite of you and a better man than you." "Thou saucy young whelp, to break into my castle and spoil my after-dinner nap: begone to the rightabout, or I will soon pluck a twig and drive thee out." "Not if I know it it," says Tom: "don't crow too soon my old cock." The giant now looked as black as the devil, and, going down the hill a few steps, he plucked up a young elm-tree about twenty feet high or so. Tom seeing what he was up to, whilst the giant was coming up the hill, breaking off the small branches and trimming the twig to his mind, handed off the barrels, and overturned the wain, then slipped off the wheel that turned round on one end of the exe, and
took the oak axle-tree, (fast in the other wheel) out of the gudgeons in which it worked round under the wain. The giant was so slow in his motions that all this was done, and Tom held the axle-tree and wheel aloft, before the giant had trimmed his twig to his mind. "Now," says Tom, "if you are for a fight, come on; the exe and wheel is my sword and buckler, which I will match against your elm tree." And at it they went.
Tom, seeing that old Denbras had become very blear-eyed, rheumatic, and altogether crushed and shakey, felt loth to fight with him. That he mightn't hurt the old man he did little more than ward off, with the wheel, which served him for bucklet, the ill-aimed blows of the giant's twenty-feet twig. Denbras was so slow in his motions that Tom often had the chance of giving him a thrust with the sword end of his weapon, yet he thought it a pity to wound the old fellow, and only sought to tire him out, disarm him, and thus make a bloodless conquest of the giant, who often fell to the ground with his twig, as it slipped off the edge of the buckler. Then Tom always helped him on his forkle-end again and gave him a drink. Seeing the sun declining, Tom thought he would just tickle the giant under the ribs to make him fight faster, that they might end the battle the sooner. For this purpose he turned ends to his weapon, and, careful not to do any grievous harm, he gave the giant what he meant to be only a slight thrust, but, not knowing how to manage his strength, the exe pierced the giant's stomach and came out close beside his back-bone. The giant fell on his back: his pottle belly caved in like a pierced bladder. The force of the fall, and weight of the wheel, drove the exe into the ground and nailed the giant to the earth. Tom was much grieved to see the mischief he had done, and to hear the moans of Denbras.
"Cheer up, my dear," says Tom, "you will do again yet; I'll do the best I can for ee. I wouldn't have hurt ee any more than my daddy and know it; but who would have thought that your skin was so thin?"
When, with much to do, Tom drew the exe out of the giant's body, the blood ran down the hill like a mill-stream, and the giant roared like thunder.
"Do stop the bellowing and bleating, the noise and mess, confound me," says Tom, "have the heart of a man to bear up with the accident, and keep your hands on the holes, do, to stay the bleeding till I can cut some turves to plug them up."
Tom tore and kicked up the turf for dear life and stopped the giant's wounds with it as well as he could. Then he fetched a barrel, knocked in the end, and held the beer to the giant's mouth. "Come, drink away my hearty," says he, "and we shall have some good play yet."
"It's all of no use, my son," groaned the giant, "I feel that I shall kick the bucket soon; I'm going round land fast, yet no one can say but I died in fair fight, and I like thee better, for the sake of thy fair play, than any other man I ever fought with in all my born days, and 'fair
play is good play,' whatever may betide. Thou art a true Cornish boy; I love thee like a brother: I have no near relations, and will make thee my son and heir; all my lands and treasures I give to thee. Now my breath is getting short, bow down thy ear my son, that thou mayest hear my dying wishes. Down in the caves of the castle there are lots of tin, gold, silver, and other treasures. Mind the names of the dogs that watch the entrance, but tell it to nobody else: they are called Standby and Holdfast. All my lands, for miles away to the north, all the hills between this and the sea, are stocked with oxen, deer, sheep, goats, and other beasts, more than one can count—all rolling in fat, and all I give to thee, my son; only bury me decent, under a burrow, and don't let anyone abuse me after I'm gone. Be kind to the dogs, for my sake; and the tame cattle, poor things, I'm as sorry to leave them as if I'd been their father."
Tom held the giant's head between his arms, resting against his breast, where it lay so still that he feared Denbras had settled his accounts with all below the moon. Yet a few minutes before the last gasp he roused himself to say, "Tom, my dear, I wish above all things to be buried after the fashion of the old people of the land. Take me to the top of the hill—a little higher up where the stone is placed; there I used to delight to stand to catch the first glimpse of the rising sun, or sit at eve and look out over the sea and this beautiful land, with my tame fawns, kids, lambs, rabbits, and hares, all sporting around me on the dewy heath.—Thither lead me, that I may take the last look of the hills where my race have so long lived."
The giant rose, supported by Tom, reached the summit of the hill, and sat on his favourite seat. On the western side of the stone on which the giant sat, a large flat rock, placed on edge, formed the back of his seat. Similar stones lay on either side, ready to be raised around him, after his death, and a large quoit near by, to cap the whole. Here, casting his eyes around, he bade farewell to the blue sea and sky—to the heath-covered hills, with their flocks and herds—to the cliffs, caves, and carns, which gave him shelter and sport.
"My eyes can no longer behold the glorious sun," moaned he, "and, now, farewell to thee, my dear. In thy arms I die content, my son."
"Oh, my dear daddy, don't go yet," says Tom; "stop a minutes or two longer, and tell me what in the world I am to do with your wives? You haven't eaten them all, have ee? They say, down in the low countries, that they suppose you have settled them that way; because, if what they say is true, you have enticed scores into your castle, and none ever came out again." The giant sprung up in a rage. "Oh! the wretches; may the devil fetch them, for their slanderous tongues. I hoped to die in peace with all the world. Now listen to the truth, my son. The women know better, whatever they may say. Long before my first old woman was dead, they were always beating round my castle to see if I would
take home another. All the stones I slung around from the top of the hill would not make them stay away. The little, sickly, palefaced women were the most troublesome of all. No use for me to tell each one who came to my gate, that she was of a most unsuitable mate for a giant's wife, and too weak to stand the wear and tear of a rough hill-country life. They would take no denial. The consequence was that in a short time they all died, as one may say, a natural death, and all of them blessed me with their latest breath. Under the burrows all around us, I have buried my dearest. On the sunny hill they rest, deck’d out and dress’d, and in their richest and rarest. What more could one do for them?"
The violent anger produced by the mention of this evil report, and the great exertion with which the giant spoke to clear his character, caused the plugs to be blown out of his wounds, when blood and breath escaped anew; yet once more he looked on Tom, and, smiling, said, "Now, my son, I'm glad to leave this wicked world," then bowed his head and died, resigned.
Tom, seeing that it was all over with poor old Denbras, raised the flat stones on edge around him, placed the stiffening giant's hands on his knees, and laid out the corpse as decently as he could for the time. Then he hastened down to his oxen and found them lying down, stretched out in the sun, quietly chewing their cuds. The innocent beasts, all unconscious of human pride and strife, had a comfortable rest during the time of the mortal combat and death of the giant. It was only a few minutes’ work for Tom to replace the wheel he had taken off the exe, turn over the wain, heave it between the wheels, reload, bar securely the castle-gates, and drive out through the enclosures on the St. Ives side of the giant's domain.
Tom worked with such haste and fury to stifle the grief he felt for the giant's untimely fate, that the beer was left in the old dirty town under the hill, and Tom (returning by another road) got back to Market-jew before dark. Yet, being the eve of the ancient festival of Midsummer, according to immemorial custom the bonfires were already blazing on all the hills around—on Mousehole Island, on the Holy Headland (Pensans), on the crest of the Mount, and on scores of other prominent places.
Tom found the brewer in the street, near his house, beside a large cask of flowing beer, to which he was treating all corners, and encouraging them to keep up with spirit all the ancient festive observances of the Midsummer tide. Long before dark, young and old, rich and poor, with hands and hearts united, were dancing, to the music of pipe and tabor, round the various bonfires scattered up and down the good old town. The brewer, well pleased to see Tom back so early, with the cattle looking fresh enough to start on another such journey, offered him good wages and wished to bargain for a year. "I should never desire a better place
than this," said Tom, "where there is abundance of grub and the best of drink ever flowing; but my great-granfer, up in the high countries, died this very day, and left me all his land and tin. Luckily, I went up that way to-day to hear from him. Sorry I am to leave ee, but must be off, before morning, to take possession and bury the old gentleman decent."
By midnight Tom departed for the hills, whilst the bonfires were still blazing, with hundreds dancing around them, and one and all wishing health and long life to the jolly old mayor of Market-jew.
On his way to the hills, Tom wished his old mammy good-bye, telling her he had met with a good place a long way off. Then he went down to Crowlas for a woman he had been courting a long time, told her of his luck, and that he was come to take her home; but not a word of what had happened did he mention to anyone else. They arrived at the castle by the break of day. When Tom called the dogs by name they let him and his wife Joan enter the castle-caves without so much as a growl. Here they found no end of tin and treasures, such as were found in the giants’ castles of old. Soon after day-break Tom and his wife proceeded to bury the giant. In the castle-court they found the club and sling with which Denbras slew the game he wanted: these Tom placed on the giant's knees, and Joan laid green oak-branches and flowers around him; then they worked with a will, and before sunrise they collected so much stones as raised the barrow gradually sloping, even with the tops of the flat uprights which enclosed the giant. Then, by the help of poles, or such contrivances as were only known to the old folks, they placed the quoit or capstone over the head of Denbras, which hid him for ever from the light of day; and, before the sun sunk below the hill-tops, they had raised as noble a barrow over the giant as any to be found on Towednack hills; yet they were not without adding, time after time, to the carp of the giant's resting-place. The land, as far as the eye could reach, with the cattle on scores of hills, from their castle to the northern sea, was all their own. Here Tom and Joan lived for many years in peace, plenty, and content: no one knew or cared what had become of them, and they cared as little about the rest of the world. As soon as Tom saw himself lord of the castle and lands, he took good care, whenever he had leisure between seed-time and harvest, and during the winter, when he had no corn to thresh, to strengthen his hedges, so that no one should again make a king's highway across his ground: he soon saw a large family growing up around him, as rough and ragged, wild and strong, as the colts on the downs. ’Tis said that when Joan weaned her children she put them to suck the cows or goats, which took their sucklings as naturally as if they had been their own calves and kids: this was the principal reason why Tom's children grew so strong. To be sure some of the boys, nursed by the Nanny-goats, grew up so shaggy that they looked very much like old bucks, as well as their children
after them: on that account some of their posterity, who settled in these regions, acquired the name of Zennor goats, which they retain to this day. No matter for their looks, Tom's boys were able to work and help their dad by the time they were a year or two old; then they were for ever extending their hedges over the common lands, and no one to say them nay, or to come near them for fear of the giant, who was still thought to be living there. Some portion of these hedges, made by Tom and his boys, on the outskirts of his lands, may still be seen near Carn Stabba, and other parts of that neighbourhood, built with such large rocks as no ten men of these days can lift: they are still known as the giant's hedges. His farm included part of St. Ives parish, as well as the parishes of Zennor and Towednack. Some say the castle was on the high ground between Nancledrea and St. Ives; others place it near Huel Reeth: wherever it was, they lived there many years unknown to anybody, in a land flowing with milk and honey. There was no end to the cattle, and everything else they wanted, on their own domain. Tom's eldest daughter had become marriageable before his old mammy even was aware that the giant had been dead long ago, and that her great boy stood in his shoes.
One morning, Tom was out hedging, as usual—strengthening his fences near the gate on the Market-jew road, when he heard the noise of some one hammering away on the gate. By the time he called out, "Who is there? You can't come in, if you are ever so good looking!" The bolts and bars were knocked off the gate, and in marched a travelling tinkard (as the worker in tin was then called), hammer in hand, and a leathern bag of other tools on his back. "Hallo, my man, where are you bound for?" says Tom. "Bound to keep on the old road to Saint Ives, and to see on my way if the mistress of the castle may have any pots or pans to mend, in spite of your gates and hedges. The people complain that the old giant who lives up here, is hedging in all the country. I've never seen the giant that I cared for yet. I suppose you are the giant's eldest son, as you are a fine stout chap? Well; what say you, shall we try each other's mettle with a match of quarter-staff or single-stick?"
"With all my heart: I don't desire better fun than to try my strength with one who is a man, in any way of manlike play you like, single-stick or naked fists, wrestling, hurling, slinging, or throwing the quoits; take your choice."
"Very well," replied the tinkard, who said his name was Jack, "I'll match my black-thorn stick against any timber you can rise."
Tom took up the oak bar that Jack had broken off the gate. In a moment he was ready and cried guare (play). The tinkard, taking his black-thorn stick in the middle, made it spin so fast that it looked like a wheel flying round Tom's head and ears: the oak bar was soon struck out of his hand—the blood streaming from his nose, and one of his eyes
shut up. Tom didn't know the play;—though the few downright blows he gave came down with the force of a sledge hammer, they had no effect on the tinkard, because he wore a leather coat, the like of which was never seen in the west country before. This coat, made of a black bull's hide, left almost whole, was without a seam, and dressed with the curly hair on it. On the breast, back, and shoulders it was as hard as iron, and roared like thunder whenever Tom stuck it, which made him think he had to deal with the devil. "Yet," thought Tom, "if he is the old one he has no cloven foot, and is very civil to give me plenty of time to pick up my stick and never strike when I'm unarmed."
They fought a long time, and Tom, much to his surprise, got the worst of it.
"There, my dear boy, you had better give in," says Jack, as, with a sweeping blow, he sent Tom's cudgel over the gate. "I might have sent you sprawling more than a score times if I had a mind to, but I see you don't know this play, for which science is of more value than mere strength." The tinkard then put his thorn stick into Tom's hands and showed him how to make some of the easiest cuts, guards, passes, &c.
Whilst the two men were thus playing, and, from fighting, fast becoming the best of friends, Joan wondered whatever had kept Tom out so long after the dinner-time, because he was mostly ready for his mid-day meal before the sun was at the highest. When she came out to see whatever had kept him so long, she was surprised, and glad in truth, to see a stranger within the castle-gates. Although one might think she had everything heart could wish for, yet she was longing to hear what was going on in the rest of the world. She told the men to make haste in to dinner, and blamed Tom for not letting her know he had a visitor, that she might have got something better to set before him than the everlasting beef and peas. When the tinkard threw off his leather coat and hood before sitting down to the board, Tom saw that he had met with his match in an active young man who was not above the ordinary size, with a cheerful face, as brown as a berry, framed in an abundant crop of curling chestnut hair. That the guest might have the better welcome, Joan tapped a cask of the strongest beer, intended for the nearest tide (feast), and placed barley bread, cream, and honey before the stranger, with mead to drink at the end of the repast. Tom promised that they would go to the hills for some game in time for her to prepare a better meal in the evening.
After dinner, Tom, as usual, took his three hours’ nap: Jack mended the lady's pots and pans the while. By the time he had finished Tom awoke, and proposed to put off till the next day the wrestling-match they had agreed on before dinner, that they might go at once to the hills. The dogs were called out, and the tinkard, seeing that the only instrument of chase possessed by the master was a sling (which served his purpose
very well, as, hit or miss, stones were plenty enough), cut a young elm sapling, for want of better wood, soon fashioned it for a bow, and strung it with a cord which he took from his never-failing leather bag. On their way to the hills Jack barbed, notched, and feathered a good sheaf of arrows, cut from the thickets. All these contrivances were new to Tom, who had often heard of bows and arrows, but had seldom seen and never used them: yet he was convinced that they were much better for hunting gear than his sling and stones, when he saw the ease with which Jack laid low the fleeing hart and doe: he killed ten head of game to Tom's one. In less than an hour the children, who all followed them, gathered up more game of all kinds than they could make use of in a week. You may be sure Joan was proud enough to see them return so soon with the loads of venison, mutton, hares, and rabbits, which would enable her to make the good cheer in which her heart delighted, when she had a guest to partake of her dainty dishes.
Tom and Jack found they had taken exercise enough for the day, and, whilst the mistress of the castle, assisted by her eldest daughter (called Genevra, or more commonly Jenefer), prepared the supper, the master showed his visitor over the castle-caves, where, amidst much that Tom regarded as mere useless lumber collected by the giants of old, Jack the tinkard found many useful tools, and bars of iron, which he valued more than the golden bracelets, strings of amber beads, or those of crystal, flowered with bright blue, red, green, and purple, or the plates of gold and silver, shaped like suns and half-moons, which they found in a secret door, and which marks would have passed with the ignorant for accidental scratches of the mason's tool.
They had not examined half the treasures of the castle-caves, when the mistress bade them hasten up to the evening meal. "Look ee here, children," says Tom, as he threw on the floor a handful of amber and crystal beads for the boys to play marbles with, when he sat down to the board; "these are the trumpery things that the old fools of giants swopped (exchanged) their tin for, to please their wives, I s’pose, as the women are always fond of such trinklams." And the tinkard, placing a string of pearls to encircle Genevra's head, took his seat beside her. Jack had partaken of many good Cornish pies in his journey from the Tamar to Market-jew, yet he had tasted none to equal the excellence of those prepared by Joan, in which he found the various kinds of meat thoroughly cooked, dressed, and seasoned with such herbs as made the most agreeable combination of flavours. It would make one's lips water to smell the savoury steam of the pies of hares and rabbits, with pork and parsley,—of the venison pasties, roast lamb, and sweet herbs,—rich hot cakes, baked on the hearth, eaten with honey, besides the milk, cream, cheese, and other dainties from her dairy in profusion.
Jack said that near the country whence he came, they often put such an ill-assorted mixture into the dishes they called their pies, that the
very smell of them is sickening, and the flavour abominable. No, the true Cornish pie is only to be found in the West, made in such perfection as to be worthy of its ancient renown.
The lady of the castle was much gratified to see the guest enjoy her good fair, and to see the delight of the children playing with the golden wheels, and strings of amber and crystal beads, which she wished to examine when at leisure, and Genevra longed to place some of the glittering trinklets on her arms and neck.
Whilst the men were hunting, Joan and her daughter had been to the hills for fresh-flowering heath, and for rushes from the moor, with which they had spread the best bedplace in the hall for the stranger. Soon after supper was over, the mistress, thinking her guest must be weary with so much fighting, playing, hunting, and eating, showed him where she had made up a bed for him, and wished him good night; Tom left him to repose as well, after agreeing to have a wrestling-match the next day.
Early the next morning Tom and Jack were seated on a stone bench, near the blazing furze fire, which Joan was keeping in under the crock; at the same time, with ladle in hand, she was stirring pounded pillas into the vessel of milk, to make hasty-pudding for breakfast, and Genevra and some others were grinding or crushing the parched grains in the old stone troughs, which in those times (before water-mills were invented) served to grind the corn. Whilst the cooking went on, Jack the tinkard told them of his adventures.
He was bred in a country more than a month's journey to the East, and many days’ travel from the river which divided Cornwall from the rest of the land. He never knew his father, and the first circumstance he well remembered was living on the moors amidst the hills with a company of men, some called them giants, who streamed for tin in those cold regions, where the hills were covered with snow a great part of the year. Merchants, from a city at no great distance, often came to the moors to purchase tin, and they brought the tinners tools and food in exchange. One of these merchants, taking a fancy to the streamer's boy, gave him the name of Jack. He didn't know that he had any name before he was taken to the city by the merchant and taught the trade of a tin-dresser and a worker in various kinds of metals. By the time he grew to man's estate he had contrived to learn much of many other handicrafts: he had also acquired many of the stone-workers’ mysteries among the rest. In this distant city he was well off as need be; yet, from hearing so much of the treasures of the giants’ castles, and of the wonders of the rich tin land of the West, he determined to traverse the country: to this intent he furnished his wallet with the most useful tools of his craft and worked his way down to Market-jew, that he might learn for himself what was to be found there. He saw but little to surprise him on the way,
although he had heard of many uncommon things, but they were all past and out of date, except what he was told that morning, in Market-jew—how a terrible big giant still lived up in Towednack hills, not far from St. Ives. He little thought the giant he sought, who was so much feared in Market-jew and all the country round, would turn out to be his good friend Tom. For his part he never feared to encounter any giants, as he mostly found that the larger the men the more gentle they are.
In this portion of the droll, the old folks of Lelant and Towednack (where the story is best known) relate many uninteresting details with respect to the week of games and feasting which celebrated the arrival of the tinkard in their country. It suffices to say that a week was passed in alternate feasting and trials of strength and dexterity between the two men. Tom won the prize in all games in which brute force was more required than science: the tinkard was always the victor in such as depended more on dexterity and trained skill than mere strength: consequently, Tom was the best wrestler, hurler, and bob-player, but Jack beat him all hollow at quarter-staff, and archery. He was also Tom's match in the use of the sling.
We shall only notice the sports of the wrestling-day, as that was attended by a circumstance which led to such an intrusion from the outer world as interrupted the peace and pleasure of the giant's castle for a short time.
Soon after breakfast the two men commenced their wrestling on the green near the castle. Tom laid the tinkard on his back as flat as a pancake every hitch; yet (remembering how unwittingly he had killed the giant) he placed Jack on his back as carefully as if he had been a basket of eggs, or a newly-born babe; but with all his care the tinkard was soon glad to cry for quarter and declare Tom to be the best man. The more the two men proved each other's strength and dexterity, the better friends they became. Joan and Genevra, as soon as the pies were put down to bake, took off their towsers, put on their clean aprons, took up their distaffs (which were always at hand, that every minute not otherways employed might be made the most of in adding to the stock of yarn) and came out to see the men's play; whilst the children, cattle, and dogs had a race round the hill, the elder children riding on anything with four legs that they could catch. Tom and Jack were so much taken up with their games that they had forgotten to secure the open gate (unfastened by Jack the day before), and when they were at the height of their sport two men from Tregendar, in going home from bal, spied the giant's gate broken open.
"Why look ee here, comrade," said one. "Can old Denbras be dead, and somebody broken into his castle? He must have been as good as dead long ago, by all accounts, as he have never been seen nor heard of for years; I'll go in and see what's going on, you, of thee west (thou wilt): come, cheer up, you, and let’s venture."
The two tinners, in shaking and quaking, passed through the gate, and, creeping along behind the thickets for a good way, came in sight of a big boy and girl mounted on a young bull;—they were riding back to back—the one holding on to the tail, the other grasping the neck, of the beast; another was astride an old buck goat; the whole galloping around the hill like mad, followed by the cows, colts, dogs, and even the pigs, that seemed to enjoy the sport as well as the rest.
"I say, you," says the tinner, "esn’t that what one may call a regular cows’ courant? But only to think of the giant having such a young family in his old years!"
This cows’ courant so excited the tinners’ curiosity that they went up the hill till they saw the two men wrestling, with the women looking on; then they quatted (stooped) down in a brake of furze to watch the play without being seen. At last the wrestlers gave over their play, and Joan, coming down the hill to look after the children and cattle, now going, helter-skelter, through the boggy moors, passed near the men of Tregendar.
"Can I believe my own eyes, you?" said one tinner in a whisper, "I never seed Joan of Crowlas in my life of that esn’t she. Sure I ought to knaw her, for I thought we were sweethearts; yet she left me in the lurch, and went off no one knew where (as people then supposed) with great Tom of Bowjeyheer, because they were both missed, if thee dost remember, one Midsummer's eve, some ten or a dozen years ago."
When Joan repassed then, in going up the hill a few minutes after, they had such a near view as convinced them that it could be no other than herself. The tinners, bursting with surprise, didn't know what to think, and feared to venture any farther; they had seen two stout chaps enter the castle, and didn't know how may more of the giant's boys might be inside. Seeing the coast clear, as Joan passe in, the tinners turned tail, ran home, and told their wives what they had seen. By night there wasn't a woman, and but very few men, in Market-jew and St. Ives, or in the country between but had heard that Joan of Crowlas was the lady of the giant's castle. No one knew how she could have lived there so long, have such a family—boys no more than ten or a dozen years old, as big as men—and nothing of the matter be known; but the women of St. Ives, above all others, determined to find out all about it, if they lost their lives in the attempt: they would chance the giants. Scores from the Stennack to Charnchy and the Dijey, who had never seen nor heard of Joan before, found out all at once, now that she was the mistress of house and lands, how she was some sort of relation to them.—Oh! what a blow-out of cream, cake, and junket they would have up at Cousin Joan's!
Early the following morning, Jack turned out to dress and string two cross-bows, which he had made the evening before, for himself and Tom;—the bows were made the archer's own height, with arrows a
yard in length for Jack, and others much longer for Tom. Jack also made small bows and arrows for the children, to train them in their use. When all were ready they passed a few hours in shooting at a butt (the tinkard hit the bull's eye almost every time, when Tom's arrows seldom struck the target); then Jack the tinkard blew a merry blast on his hunter's horn, and away they all went to the hills, like foresters bold, that they might try their arrows in shooting some of the wolves and foxes, which were getting too numerous amongst the hills and tarns of Towednack, and in Zennor cleves.
Joan was left in the castle, all alone, or with only a few old dogs for company, as Genevra, with a light bow, and arrows feathered by Jack with the greatest care, was also gone to the chase, in which she took great delight. Early in the afternoon the mistress of the castle was much surprised (in casting a glance through the look-out) to see a company of women and children coming up the hill: by the time she got out to see who they were, and what they wanted, the foremost of the party came up with hands outstretched, and hailed the lady of the castle, when many yards from the door in which she stood.
"My dear cousin Joan, how glad I am to see ee! How are ee an soas, and the dear old gentleman? How comfortable you are settled here, to be sure, with the old gentleman-giant, in this grand house! And how es the sweet old dear? I was thinking, as it es very cold up here on the hills, to knit a nightcap for his dear old head in the winter evenings, and have brought a piece of yarn in my pocket that I may take his measure. Where are the Cheldren? Do leave me see them, that I may kiss them all, the beautiful great dears!"
Joan replied, to the effect that she did not remember ever having had the pleasure of knowing the dame.
"Dear me," says she, "I'm a purty near relation too; for my husband's sister married a cousing to your own uncle's wife: I always took your part, cousing Joan, when the rest of the women coming behind said that you were gone the country with great long Tom the hedger of Bowjeyheer, as I always said you knowed better than to throw yourself away upon a poor piljack: better be an old man's darling than a young man's slave.—I believe ee fax."
Joan was confounded with the impudence of the women, who were for pushing their way into the castle without being asked; when, happily, an old dog began to growl within, and set others barking, which stopped the intruders’ progress until Joan thought of saying, "I might be glad to see ee another time, but the old giant es sleeping now: he caent abide to be disturbed when having a nap: he often sleeps for weeks together. I knaw his regular times of waking, and taeke good care to have a few sheep or goats ready for him as soon as he begins to stir; else he would
have devoured me long ago. Now, of the barking of the dogs should hap to waeke him you will never see the Dijey any more. I am very glad to see such near relations, but you had better taeke my advice and make haste home whilst you have a whole skin, and you had better wait till we send for ee before come again."
Hearing this, they went off as fast as they could scamper, abusing Joan, the giant, and all the family, as soon as they got out of hearing.
Joan succeeded in driving the cousins away just before Tom and Jack came back from the hunt, when the tinkard so well secured the gate with a wooden lock that the crowds of unwelcome visitors who continued to arrive at the gate were unable to enter the giant's domain.
(The old drolls make a long story out of the impertinence and selfishness of the summer's friends, who endeavoured to force themselves into the happy abode, which we omit, as it contains but little that is new.)
The following day, after Jack saw that the gate he had broken open was so well fastened as to keep out all unwelcome visitors, he told Tom, who was putting another row of stones on the hedge against the highroad, that it was time for him to say farewell and continue his journey.
"Not yet, me dear," says Tom, "et shall be a long spell before I will hear thee say good bye, of ever I do; and what should’st thee leave us to wander the world for? Ef it es to search for tin that thee art wandering the country, taeke as much as thee hast a mind to from the castle-caeves; only stay here: I don't care for the tin and trash: all et’s good for es to buy land, and havn’t I got more acres, miles, of land already than I can tell what to do weth; all stocked with the finest cattle. We shall never want for beef nor mutton, nor need we better clothing than our honest homespun. Taeke as much as thee hast a mind to of the land too, only stay here; I love thee like a brother, and Joan and the young ones the saeme."
Sooth to say, the tinkard, being as loth to leave as Tom and his family to part with him, it was decided that Jack should make his home in the castle. He might ramble over the country, for a change, when he listed, but the gates should be ever open to him.
Tom and Joan found that the tinkard could teach them and the children many things they had no notion of. Being skilful in working metals he made iron implements for the better cultivation of the land than the clumsy wooden tools in common use; and, knowing how to dress the skins of beasts, Tom and his family were soon supplied with fine buff coats and other garments of fine leather in the place of the raw hides before worn by them as their common working and winter's dress.—The homespun and knitted woollens were then only for grand occasions. (These noted leather coats were worn in the west, and retained in the
northern parishes long after the homespun became the general wear for all kinds of garments in more modish districts; and no kind of clothing was more suitable for the rough wear and tear of a land covered with a wilderness of thorns, furze, and briars.—If anyone going to a new and rough country (such as Cornwall was in the giant's time) will pay attention to the tinker's plan for making the same, or at least as much as is now known of it, he may some day bless the old drolls for preserving some remembrance of the tinkard's coat.)
Jack made the first leather coat for Tom, by carefully slaying a young bull of the size to furnish a hide of the capacity required for the intended wearer. The skin was opened up the belly, breast, and neck, and taken from the head so as to form a hood of that portion. When the skin was flayed from the head, neck, and breast as far as the knife could be worked, the shoulders were unjointed, that the skin of the fore legs might be taken off whole, to form the sleeves;—the greatest difficulty was to unskin the fore legs without cutting holes in the sleeves: the hind quarters were cut off the length desired, and gores let in, if required, to give more spread to the skirt. The hide, turned inside out, was donned by Tom as soon as taken off the bull, and the best part of the tanning, and other dressing, was given to the coat on the wearer's back: the hide, thus treated, shrunk or stretched so as to make an exact fit. Tom's back was well belaboured in dressing the coat, that the leather might be made supple, but he didn't mind all the curring of his hide when he saw how nicely the garment came to his shape. The front was fastened together, when desired, with loops and silver skivers (skewers), and the neck or collar closed with a handsome clasp of the same metal. The younger boys had similar garments fashioned out of calf or goat skins, and when they were all rigged out they were as proud as peacocks of their new coats. Square-skirted coats were the prevailing fashion of Tom's time. We never hear that Tom or his boys ever sported anything approaching the cut of Paddy's favourite swallow-tails, or the style of the French modern dress-coat. If the boys wanted larger sleeves to jackets than the calves or goats required for their coats, the tailor had only to slash the sleeves under the arms, and let in gores to make them more comfortable or fashionable.
(We are apt to despise old fashions, yet we do not know of more suitable garments than Jack the tinkard's coat for the rough life of the bush.—There can be no necessity for all the dressing to be done on the owner's back we suppose.)
In Tom's time, Morvah and all the lands near the northern seashores were uninhabited except by one harmless old giant (without any family) who lived among the rocks in Carn Galva, and another somewhere in Morvah who was equally inoffensive; all this part of the country being then overrun with herds of deer, goats, and many other sorts of
game and wild animals, and the low ground covered with thickets. Jack the tinkard often went thither to hunt, and Genevra, who soon became fond of the chase and expert with the bow, often went with Jack and her brothers to the distant hills of Morvah, where the game was the most abundant: here the delight of the chase, and the pleasure of each other's company, would often keep the young man and maiden long after the sun had dipped into the western sea.
Genevra and Jack liked Morvah downs and each other's company so well, that they agreed it would be pleasant enough to live up there by themselves but Jack thought that as her father was the lord of a castle and land, he might regard a poor travelling tinkard as too mean a match for his daughter: however they decided to ask Tom's consent, for fashion's sake; for they had made up their minds to do without it, should there be any difficulty on that score. Genevra told her lover, come fair come foul, true love would make her his, to wander the wide world over.
The tinkard told Tom and Joan that he thought of getting married and wished to have Genevra for his bride, but if Tom thought he wasn't rich enough to be his son-in-law he would leave the castle at once.
"Thee do’st knaw well enough, without asking," Tom replied "that of I had the pick of the whole world, and Market-jew besides, to choose from, I should find no one I liked so well as thyself, and I be bound the old woman es of the same mind. What do’st a say Joan, doesn’t thee love the jolly cuss of a tinkard as well as one of thy own sons? But what do the maid Jenifer say to the bargain?"
"I'll answer for her," Joan said; "if Genevra swore that she dedn’t love the tinkard I wouldn't believe her. For, what does she place the golden hoops on her arms, hang the pearls in her ears, and the crystal beads on her neck, or pass so much time to dress and braid her long black hair, but to make herself appear more fair in Jack the tinkard's eyes? Call the maid and lev her spaek for herself."
As in these simple, honest times, none (not even the women) thought of making a mystery of anything, Genevra, like a dutiful daughter, told her parents that she was willing to be ruled by their pleasure.
Very soon after, Tom, Jack, and the boys built a dwelling on the part of Morvah Down which Genevra liked the best. The habitation was called Chy-goon, or, for shortness, Choon, which means the downs’ house: it was about thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide, with a door in the middle of the front and a small window on each side of the door: the large chimney and wood-corner took up the whole of one end, and a bedplace was screened off in the other: a linhay at the back served for spence and dairy: the side walls were raised to the height of eight feet or so, that a talfat might be made over one end when the family increased.
[paragraph continues] Tom wanted to have a stone bedstead made in the lower end of the house like the one in his castle, where a large flat stone, or quoit, about twelve feet by eight, was raised on other stones about four feet from the ground. A good substantial bedstead like that, he said, was far better than any shakey thing Jack could make out of timber; besides, there were rocks enough to choose from near at hand to make a shapely bedstead, as well as the benches and table, without any cutting or cleaving; but timber to make the things would have to be brought from the Morabs of Ludgvan or Gulval—miles away: ’twas bad enough to have such a distance to go of the poles to timber the roof and make the door. Whilst the men were building the walls, the women and children pulled the heath and cut reeds and rushes for the thatch, which, when covered over with a layer of turves, was wind-tight and water-tight, and strong enough to stand all the tempests of that high and stormy part of the country. They built a few crows for the calves, pigs, &c., and made the stone troughs which were wanted for various uses. The furze and turf were all cut, carried, ricked, and thatched securely. Little more remained for the men to do about the house; so during the spells of rainy weather they had begun to dig a fougou or vow (cavern) in the side of the hill, to serve as a more secure place of shelter if required. All the building-work was dry-walling: no one could beat Tom at that kind of work. The most shapely stones were chosen for the dwelling house. The large grounders were first placed in, all round; many of the long stones, raised on end, made the required height of the walls; then the spaces between were soon filled in with such stones as would exactly fit the places. For the crows and outbuildings they were not so particular; great part of the walls for these were already made by the large rocks they found standing handy about: all they had to do was to tumble in others to join them together, so as to form an enclosure. No matter what the shape might be, they could roof them all the same with poles, heath, and turf. All the nice fixing about the place was left to the women.
Tom was so delighted in building that he was always adding to the old giant's castle as his family increased. He built a tower at one end to see if he couldn't make as good work of it as a towerlike building at the other end, which contained the woman's chamber;—this was raised many feet above the other rooms (which were all on the ground floor), and carefully roofed with strong timber to bear the weight of thatch and turf: the floor was raised, by many feet of the bottom of the tower being filled in with small stones covered smoothly with clay. This carefully-constructed room must have been the private chamber of the old giant's wives. On the walls of this favourite retreat were hung many old-fashioned musical instruments, such as dulcimers, cymbals, timbrels, or tambourines; and on the floor, harps of different sizes, all unstrung, with Genevra trying her untaught fingers to sound the ringing wires in unison with her sweet voice, when she sung the wold old ballads her mother taught her.
Joan, in her younger days, had been one of the best dancers in Ludgvan, and none in the country round could excel her in beating the time on the tambourine, or in singing the old ballads to which they danced every Midsummer, when the bonfire was blazing: she made Tom join in the old hand-in-hand dance, which he shuffled through like a capering bull. She often wished some wandering harper could be brought into the castle, that Genevra might be taught to strike the strings aright; her own quick ear would do the rest. Now Jack had the skill, not only to play well on the harp, but to make the instrument; yet he despised the whole tribe of harpers, and rhymesters, or bards and minstrels, who, he said, seldom spoke anything in which there was more sense or reason than in the empty sound of their clanging cymbals; and, to make their jingling rhymes, they often pervert the truth, which, in their estimation, if of less consequence than mere sound: however, with all his abuse of the minstrels’ art, he, to please Genevra, strung the harps and taught her to sweep the strings with ease. He hung the rim of her tambourine with little silver bells and cymbals: when he saw her on the green, holding it aloft, and, at the same time that she made the ringing music, move through the dance sprightly and graceful as a fawn, he would take his harp and sing of love and beauty, truth and constancy, with other such-like fancies as come into the heads of love-struck youth. Tom would sit and laugh the while, to see, as he said, the wise Jack making a fool of himself by turning harper and rhymester to praise the graces of Genevra. Then the curious old owls, as tame as the pigeons and poultry (all unused to such music), would fly down from their ivy-bush on the tower, range themselves (with their wise-looking young ones between them) on the cope-stones of the castle-court wall, as near as they could get to the harper, flap their wings, and screech, in chorus, hoo-hoo hoo, to-wit, to-woo.
One evening, when Tom had finished building Choon, the two men returned from Morvah early. As supper wasn't ready when they came back, to pass the time till the porridge should be boiled, Tom challenged Jack to play a game of bob in the castle-court for some old gold coins, found under the rest of the things in the giant's locker: Tom threw a handful to Jack for him to begin with. The bob, with the broad gold pieces on it, was at one end of the court, and the mit at the other. At the third throw, Tom's quoit cut off a large piece of turf from the green bank, which was piled up against the inside of the court walls. In picking up his quoit from the caunce, for another throw, Tom saw that what he had always taken to be a pile of earth, overgrown with grass, was a heap of sparkling grey stone, rounded balls, and black glistening sand.
"Look here, you, Jack," says Tom, "see what a heap of small black stones, sand, and lumber the old fools of giants have piled up to the top of the walls, and covered over with turves. I wish the stuff was all away, that we might have a clear swing for the quoits."
"Why Tom, my old dear," says the tinkard, when he had looked at, handled, and poised the stones, "wilt thou never learn to know tin? Why, if half of these green banks, heaped up all round the court, in many places higher than the walls, are made of such rich stuff as what's in my hands, there's tin enough here to buy all the land between Hayle and Pedn-penwith. Thou may’st well bless the old giant," Jack continued, slapping Tom on the back, "richer tin was never seen. Hurrah!"
Here Joan and Jenifer came out to see the tin.
"But I tell thee, Jack, I don't care a cobbler's cuss about any more tin. As I have asked thee before, what need one wish for anything more than we have got? The only thing I can think of that one might like to have, now and then, es a barrel of the strong beer brewed by my old master, the mayor of Market-jew (bless his fat sides and rosy cheeks, which show the honesty of his brewing); and, as he es a tin smelter too, he might take some of the stuff in exchange. To be sure Joan's brewing es mostly purty good; yet the corn esn’t always well malted, and the grains, dried on the hearthstone, may be burnt or only half roasted, and sometimes she puts too much bitter herbs to make et keep longer than I want et to—mugwort, ground ivy, agrimony, centuary may do; but then she must have savoury and pellitory to boot, so that sometimes she brews a queer mixture. Besides, one may like a chaenge now and then."
Joan made wry faces at Tom, but she didn't say much, whilst she thought that, out of the tin, she might get new gowns for herself and Genevra, against the wedding, and that they would like to be seen at the fair-a-mo at St. Ives in something grand and becoming their rank, as dames of the castle.
It was soon decided that the women would, the next day, make sacks out of the spare skins, the men contrive pack-saddles, and the boys bring home horses from the hills, to take a few hundred of tin to the smelter for a sample.
By the following afternoon, the sacks were made, filled, and everything ready for taking the stuff to the smelting-house the next morning. About sunset the tinkard was standing on the western side of the castle, admiring how well the great stones were put together by the old builders (with all the largest placed to rest on each other, to break the joints, so that if half the stones in the wall were taken out the rest would stand), and, on looking towards the top of the wall, he spied a little loop-hole high up, and something glistening through it, in the setting sun: he had never seen such a look-out in any chamber inside the castle, and when he threw in a piece of tin so as to find the place within, it rung where it fell as sweet as if it struck on silver bells. He paced the distance from the angle on the outside to find the place within, but in the castle there was neither the tin-stone nor any such window to be seen: then, taking
his hammer, he beat along the wall till he came to a part which sounded hollow; yet here there was nothing to be seen but great stones like those in the rest of the wall.
"Ah!" said Jack to Tom and the rest, "see now if another of the giant's lockers isn't hereabouts."
Tom was for ripping out the stone with a bar of iron.
"Wait a bit," says the tinkard, as he caught sight of some curious markings, the meaning of which was only known to the builders of those ancient places, and some few, like Jack, who were admitted into the fellowship of the craft. Contriving to draw the attention of the lookers-on to something else, Jack touched a large square stone with the tip of his finger, in the place shown by some secret sign. When Tom and the rest looked round again, they saw that the large rock had swung back on a pivot, laying open a closet, in which they saw heaps of silver and gold, in plates, platters, goblets, and flagons;—there were golden chains and pieces of gold like flattened rings, large enough to be worn on the arms or ankles; besides, there were ornaments in the form of silver moons set round with glittering gems, like stars of every colour. In, under, and among the whole, were heaps of old gold coin, as rough and cracked round the edges as if a blacksmith had beaten them out with a stone hammer oh a stone anvil.
"Whatever could the ould giants do with such lumber?" says Tom, "I'd rather have one of my cows than all the glistening things in this hole."
Whilst Joan took some of the drinking vessels outside the door, to view then in better light, Jack, by a slight touch, made the rock roll back into its place, and when they returned to the giant's locker, seeing nothing but the dead wall they thought the place enchanted.
The next morning, by sunrise, Jack and young Tom, or Tom Vean, as be was mostly called were passing down the Mount side of Trassow hill, with four horses and a dozen sacks of tin: old Tom would’nt turn out before his time for all the tin in the country. Jack found out that the brewer was now the captain of the Royal Archers of Penwith, still the only tin smelter, and the mayor or king of Market-jew, and so he ought to be for he always gave a fair price for tin, though the play was all in his own hands. Yet he was rolling in riches, which he spent freely, for the good of town and country. Kings were plenty in Tom's time: they say that Gweek had a king then. If such a poor, out-of-the-way place as that had a king, a town so rich and flourishing with tin and trade as Market-jew ought to have had half-a-dozen. A richer lot of stuff had never passed through king Honney's furnaces than what Jack brought him.
When the tinkard told him that the owner of the rich store of tin was his man Tom, who carne into his granfer's land and good luck up in the high countries, one Midsummer's eve some dozen years ago, the good man's delight was unbounded; for nothing rejoiced his heart so much, not even a gallon of his best beer, as to hear of the welfare of anyone he liked; and who didn't he like?—He was such a good fellow himself that he couldn't believe the devil and his playmates, or anyone else, to be half so bad as the saints make them out to be.
When king Hanibal was told that all Tom wanted for the tin was a cask of his beer, he called some of his men to yoke the oxen to the wain, whilst others loaded it with the best in his cellar, from which he sent plenty of other good drink as well as the beer.
"But avast there," said Jack, "You musn’t send all the value of the sacks of tin and more too, in drink for Tom: I want a piece of strong stuff of some sort to make a gown for his wife Joan, and I am going to buy something to make a dress for his maid Genevra, who is to be my wife before long, but I don't know what to choose among the women's faldelals."
For answer king Hannibal called his wife Penelope (or Pee as he mostly called her to save his breath), and told her all about Tom's luck, and how Jack wanted something good to make bettermost garments for Tom's wife and daughter. The dame, who was as good-natured as her fat husband, had great store of silks. velvet, cloth of gold, and silver tissue, shawls, and other rich fabrics from the East, which were often taken from the merchant captains in exchange for the tin, and these goods were sold by the dame to rich persons who came to Market-jew and the Mount from the most distant parts of the country. She chose out four pieces, to make as many dresses for Joan and Genevra (two were of the richest purple silk, flowered with gold, for the lady of the castle, two of the clearest blue, sewn with silver sprigs of dainty needlework, for Genevra), besides many yards of ordinary cloth for common wear, and some shawls, which looked like a flowery mead, many yards square, yet of so fine a texture that the largest might be drawn through a finger-ring. The lady also sent gold and silver lace for garniture, thread, and everything else which was required, besides her last new gown for a pattern.
The wain-load of drink had been despatched long before Jack was ready to start for home, after having agreed with king Honney to bring him down, by the time a merchant-ship was expected at the Mount, so much tin as would make a larger smelting than he ever had before. The smelting-day, according to ancient custom, was to be a grand feast, when Tom and all his family were to come down and meet the other great folks who had plenty of tin in their ground. Jack placed on his horse the bales of rich things the lady sent, with her love, to Joan and Genevra,
and a charge to have them made against the smelting feast, when their best wain should be sent up for Joan and the children.
The next job was to find Tom Vean, who had gone off with the brewer's children to see the wonders of the town. The crier was sent round to find them: they heard the crier's horn from the Mount, and came over just in time to save the tide. After kisses all round and promises to see them again soon, Jack and the boy Tom jogged away back to the hills.
About halfways home they met the brewer's wain coming back, with Tom and Genevra on the road to meet them. Tom was mad to know the news, and what was in the bales which Jack carried with so much care before him. "The devil a word," says Jack, "shall either you or Genevra get out of me before we get home to Joan and the children, to shew you all together what we have brought for the women, as well as drink for you, my dear old daddy Tom."
When the bales of rich cloths, and other things for the children which Jack hadn't seen put in, were opened out before Tom, Joan, and Genevra, the two women fairly cried as if they had their gizzards split, and even great Tom blubbered like a baby for company to the rest. One can't tell how their joy, or surprise, or something, made them act so like fools; yet, no, not like fools, for all the time they were laughing and crying by turns they felt ready to burst with joy and love for those who had shown them such kindness.—They felt that all outside the castle wasn't to be despised—that intercourse and fellowship with some of the rest of the world would add to their pleasures and content.
"Now go to bed, Tom, my son," says Jack, "after he had told him more than a score times how the mayor and his wife looked, and what they said; then he took a large brass jew's-harp from his pocket for Tom (the only instrument he ever played), and several smaller ones and whistles for the children. Whilst the women were still admiring the beautiful fabrics spread out before them, the tinkard went to the tower for his harp. As he entered the castle-hall Tom rose, to act the herald's part, calling "a hall, a hall, for the harper!" Joan entering into the spirit of the hour, gaily called to her daughter, "plaece the red wine and sweet mead on the board to cheer the minstrel's heart before he sings." A barrel of ale was then broached, wine poured into the silver goblets, and with one accord they all drank to the health of their good friends in Market-jew; then, in the fulness of their joy, all rose at once, took their brimming beakers and flagons to the castle-court, and cheered with such a heart that the shout they made on Towednack hills was echoed by Trink and Trecroben; and the Mount, taking up the joyous sound, sent it to the fireside and hearths of their good friends in Market-jew: and, when the shades of evening fell on the hills, a bonfire was made on the Garrack zans
[paragraph continues] (holy rock) before the door, around which they danced hand-in-hand whilst the tinkard harped and sang,
In a few days, more tin-sacks were made out of anything they could contrive, and many more horses brought from the hills to carry the tin to Market-jew. An ox-dray was also sent up by king Honney (the mayor), to get the tin down sooner. Tom had, more than once, been down, with Jack and the boys, that he might help to keep the horses in the tracks, and to reload the sacks, which often fell off as the horses passed over the rocky hills. The jolly old mayor, in his joy to see his man Tom as big as a lord, always made him take so much of his best drink, that he had to be taken home on the brewer's dray, to which he was fastened with all the ropes they could muster, for fear of accidents, because he could never see, stand, nor go, nor lie on the ground without holding—when he left Market-jew for the hills.
In a few weeks, more tin was taken from the piles in the giant's castle-court to the smelting-house yard than king Hannibal ever saw there before; yet there was but a very small hole made in the heaps which surrounded Tom's castle; besides which, the purest of all—the stream-tin, in the castle caves—had never been touched.
Great preparations had been made by Joan and Genevra, in order that they, and all the family, might appear so well rigged out that the kind mayor and his wife might not be ashamed to present their high-country acquaintances to the rest of their friends. When the day for the smelting feast came, by the time the first signs of dawn appeared in the sky, all the household were down at the brook taking their morning wash: they had all scoured themselves as bright as gard and clear water could make their skins rosy, before the thrushes and blackbirds, in the hawthorn and honeysuckle brakes which overhung the steam, began to sing to the music which the water made in rippling round the rocks. The ladies of the castle didn't think it best to display the richest jewels found in the giant's locker: Joan only placed a few strings of amber and crystal beads around her neck, and a gold chain; to which necklet were fastened a bloodstone and glennadder, to protect her from adders and other harm, and these hung over her robe of purple and gold, which last was seen through the transparent folds of the shawl which she wore as a veil over her head and shoulders. Genevra merely hung a few strings of pearls around her neck, clasped a pair of massive gold and diamond bracelets on her arms, and placed hoop-shaped rings, hung with choice pearls, in her ears. A circlet of gold and diamonds kept in place the folds of a silk gauze scarf, starred and fringed with silver, which, flowing over her shoulders and rich wavy black hair, reached below her waist. The men and boys were all in their new buff coats; and, before sunrise, the
brewer's wain, drawn by the finest oxen in the mayor's possession, was at the castle-gates: a few bundles of straw, tightly bound, were placed across the wain to make a comfortable seat for the lady and her youngest children. Tom and the tinkard, with Genevra and the elder boys, were all on horseback. Joan turned the skirts of her rich gown up over her shoulders, and tied up the shawls and other fine things (which she and Genevra intended to put on when they came to Market-jew bridge) in a nackan, that they mightn’e be foused (rumpled). As the cavalcade passed through the outer gateway, the tame nurse-goats (who considered themselves important members of the family), to show that they had no intention of being left behind, sprung over the hedge, followed by the pet lambs. Cows, pigs, and calves—seeing all, the family going off—wanted to go to. The hobby colts got out, in spite of everything, and off they trotted by the side of their dams, followed by the goats and dogs: the lambs had to be taken on the wain with Joan and the children. Genevra's doves flew along for many miles over the road, often alighting on her head and shoulders. The old watch-dogs howled, the pigs screeched as if their hearts were breaking, and the cows bleated as if they never expected to see the rest of the family any more. Joan had much to do to harden her heart so as to leave the poor sorrowing beasts for a few hours; but pride came to her aid when she thought how, only a few years ago, she and Tom went to the hills, poor and unknown; yet now, through the almighty power of Tin, they were going out in grand state, to make merry cheer, and feast with the highest in the land.
It was tedious travelling in olden times, when the few roads were all carried over the hills, as all the low grounds were then a wilderness of thorns, briars, and scrubby trees, which gave shelter to wolves, wild boars, and many other noxious animals. The old folks say that down to much later times, the moors and cleared ground of the lowlands were so infested with adders that they were not only uninhabitable, but that it was unsafe for cattle to leave the hills during the summer months;—this may be' the principal reason why the most ancient habitations are generally found high on the bleak hill-sides. However, the brewer's wain, with its motley freight of the lady, children, and lambs, was got safely over the rocky hills, and on Tregerthen moors they were met by king Hannibal and his wife Penelope, who came, accompanied by men and fresh oxen, to help the convoy over the boggy moors between the hills and the town. Penelope, after kissing Genevra, mounted on the wain with Joan, gave her and the children a dram, whilst king Honney and his men made the rest take a drink all round, and yoked the relay of oxen to the wain. Long before arriving at Market-jew bridge, they were regaled with merry minstrelsy, and saw many dancing to the shrill sound of tinkling harps around the fires where oxen were being roasted whole—their bellies stuffed with all sorts of small game. Mutton, and many other kinds of meat, were seething and boiling in large crocks, over turf fires made on the beach, where many savoury pies were also baking. When the
mayor's lady had taken Joan and her daughter into the house (which was also the hostelry as well as royal palace of the tinsmelter king), she didn't know which to admire most—the modest beauty of Genevra, or the simple honesty and good nature of Joan, who presented Penelope with some of the rarest jewels found in the giant's locker, as some return for the rich stuffs, and more valued kindness, of the brewer's dame, or mayor's lady, or Honney's queen (call her which you will).
By the time the women had fixed their dresses to their mind, and given and exchanged jewels as keepsakes, the crier had been round the town with his horn summoning high and low to the feast. The long and strong tables, placed under the shade of spreading trees on the green, were groaning under the weight of the great pewter platters of roast, boiled, and baked, flagons of wine, and jacks of beer. Many great lords and ladies of the neighbourhood were waiting at the high board to receive Penelope and her guests, who, preceded by harpers and minstrels, and followed by the townsfolk, were placed at the cross-board, which was raised as a table of dais on a terrace of green turf, and canopied by broad-spreading oaks.
They say that in the olden times (when Tom of Towednack lived in his castle), kings even were glad to be invited to the smelting-feasts. There were persons just as grand at the board with Tom and Joan; among others the merchant captains, who were often royal princes, and the lords of Godalwin, Tregonan, and Pengersec. The latter was the most noted of the guests—not so much for the great riches he had acquired in the East, many years ago, as for his skill in the magical arts which he learned in that part of the world where all the overwise men come from. High and low brought their own knives and wooden spoons;—as for forks, those substitutes for fingers hadn't yet been thought of.
The grand folks were regaled with venison and beef-steaks, which, cooked on the slowly-congealing blocks of molten tin, were always regarded as a dainty dish. The enchanter of Pengersec made much of Tom, and drank his health so often that Tom, in returning the courtesy, soon became as drunk as a lord, and lay stretched, with many more in the same condition, under the board.
The dinner wasn't over at the lower tables, among all the Curnows, Corins, and Laitys, who came in droves from all the country round, when Joan wanted to return;—she heard, or fancied she heard, the cows, on the hills, miles away, bleating to call her home. The oxen were yoked to the wain to take her and the children over the moors, and the mayor's lady went with them as far as the foot of the hills, where, after many expressions of love and regard, they parted,—Joan not choosing to ride any farther, as she, with the children, kids, and lambs, could skip over the hills much faster than the oxen could wind along the road among the rocks and cairns. Jack and Genevra saw Tom put to bed
all right in the mayor's hostelry, then mounted their horses to take their way to the hills.
When the Ludgvan hurlers and young men of Market-jew were going down to the green, as fast as the silver ball could be cast from hand to hand, Jack and Genevra following as far as their road lay, half-way to Chyandour, their gallopping steeds could scarcely keep pace with the swift-footed hurlers. At the same time, there were wrestling-matches and many other games taking place on the green.
By the time Joan had milked the cows and goats, finished her other evening work, and put the children to bed, daylight had left the sky;—she then took her supper outside and sat to eat it on the stone bench beside the door. Whilst she was looking down on Market-jew (which was all alight with the fires on the green at which the cooking was still going on), and wishing that all the rest of her family were safe within the castle, Genevra and Jack walked into the court, having turned their horses into the moors below.
"Oh! I am glad you're come, but where's Tom?" said Joan, as they placed themselves beside her; "you should never have come home and left him behind with the conjuror. Ah! how often I have wished this day that the tin had never been seen. Who wouln’t rather be sitting here in a homespun petticoat, bedgown, and towser (wrapper), eating barley bread and honey, and drinking new milk at one's ease, than be perched at the mayor's grand board as stiff as a stake, decked out in purple and gold, afraid to move lest the gay gown should be foused." Then, turning to Genevra (whose silk and silver dress was glittering in the starlight, and the jewels on her neck, breast, and arms, shining like the stars above), she said, "Throw away the strings of pearls, child, which bind thy glossy black hair, for neither they, nor the chains of clear crystal, amber, and gold can make thee more lovely; and the heavy bracelets of red gold and glittering jewels only burthen thy arms."
They were all tired; yet they had no inclination to sleep, but sat in silence—Genevra resting her head on her mother's bosom. Jack leant against the wall, listening to the chatter of the tame birds, nestled in the ivy which hung overhead. Here, beside the old blinking owls were perched a pair of restless noisy magpies—Joan's favourites, that would talk with her by the hour, and carry off everything that struck their fancy to their nests, where her thimble and thread were mostly to be found. Close by the owls as they could well get, on the other side, were a pair of choughs, that took great pleasure in being with Tom;—wherever he went, hedging or digging, the birds would be near him, often calling, "Tom, Tom," in a voice so like Joan's that, every now and then, he would be running in at the call of the birds. And now all the birds—talking and croaking together, in the most doleful tone—often repeated the name of Tom.
"Ah, me!" says Joan, "hear the dogs howling and the birds grieving for Tom; they know, better than we do, the bad luck that's in store for him. I would give ten times the tin and treasure to have Tom as contented as he was a few weeks agone."
Jack assured her that the mayor's lady would take all the care in life of him—that Penelope gave Tom a cordial as soon as she returned from seeing Joan and the children off to the hills.
This speech wasn't the least bit of comfort to Joan, who, knowing better than the tinkard the weakness of female hearts, and seeing how the ladies of Market-jew admired the burly build, health, and strength of her giant Tom, who was still in his prime, with his easy good nature, feared that the blandishments of the gay dames of the town would lead him oftener to stray outside his fences than the spells of the conjuror Pengersec.
There they sat, sad and weary, till past the turn of the night. Then the waning moon arose, which reminded Joan that it had only to measure another week to the new harvest-moon, when Genevra would leave her to become the tinkard's bride. At last they went to bed, and the sun was high in the heavens, the next day, when the lowing of the cows, impatient to be milked, and the bleating of the sheep wanting to be let out of the folds to their pastures on the hills, awakened Joan from her uneasy slumbers. Dinner-time was nearly come before their breakfast was over. During the morning meal, Joan said she heartily wished that the giants of old, who collected so much tin in the castle-court, had left all the stuff down in Trewe bottom, whence she supposed it had been brought, as everybody said that the old bals thereabout had been worked before the flood; yet, whenever these bottoms were streamed, though they had been worked over and over again, they alway found more tin.—Nancledrea bottom, too, was handy by for old Denbras and his giant forefathers. Besides, they had a moor-house on Embla green, which is still called the Giant's House; that distance of a few miles was nothing for them to stride from hill to hill with their sacks of tin; and, by all accounts, in old times, any quantity of tin-stones might be picked up from the face of the ground, all over the high-country hills.
"But I can't rest," she continued, "for thinking of Tom, the great bucca, like all the rest of the giants, with more strength than knowledge, to be made drunk so soon with that crafty conjuror when he would often drink gallon after gallon at home, without being more stupid than usual: surely the enchanter must have mixed some of his magic powder in Tom's drink: they say, he can by that means send any person's spirit out of their body to wander in such realms of delight as were never seen by mortal eye, and when they return they are never more like their former selves, but discontented ever. Neither I nor Genevra could look round to see what was going on, without encountering the piercing black eyes of the
swarthy sea-captains and their tawny crews, who looked as if ready to devour us. I went away from the castle very happy and proud, but during the day often wished myself home in the hills."
Penelope, too, whilst they sat at the board, had whispered fearful things of the maidens of Market-jew who had sometimes been wedded by the eastern seamen;—of others taken away, and never more heard of; but the sailors always left their wives behind; and all they ever gave their brats, besides their hot blood and swarthy skin, was their own grand outlandish names. In the drive over the moor she had also told Joan how the enchanter of Pengersec could, with equal ease, raise the devil or the dead; and how the old giant of the Mount was even afraid to show out of his cavern ever since one night the Pengersec, by his spells, bound him to a rock, where he was lashed by the sea till morning. The old giant, being hard-up for food, waded from the Mount over to Pengersec lands to get a young bullock for his supper: the conjuror, by his books, or by the aid of his familiars, found out what the giant was up to, and allowed him to catch a young bull, tie his four feet together, and drag him on to the edge of the cliff, so that he might, when standing on the beach below, slip his head between the tied legs and the belly of the bleating beast. When he got the legs over his head he sat down on a rock, surrounded by the rising tide, that he might fix the bull on his shoulders, comfortable like, before he waded off to the Mount, but when he tried to rise he found that he could neither stand, nor move hand or foot; no more could he get the bellowing bull from his shoulders;—there the poor old giant had to remain all night with the foaming waves lashing round his head, into his mouth, and over him: he could scarcely keep his head above water. If the old giant hadn't been hard of hearing the bleating of the bull and the roaring of the waves would have made him deaf before the morning, when the enchanter, thinking that he had punished him enough, raised the spell and let him go, bull and all; yet not before he and his servants had the fun of seeing him on the rock, the water up to his lips, with the bull floating round his neck, and of pelting him well with pebbles they flung from the beach, as he waded off home. Since that time neither the old giant nor any of his brood have ever ventured to the main land.
But that's nothing to what they say of Pengersec's magic glass, with which he can draw fire from the sun, and set the whole country in a blaze, or of his making gold (by the aid of the devils who come at his call) out of clay and common stones, which he burns in a furnace, placed in a tower that none but himself and spirits of darkness, ever enter. The fire and brimstone is ever seen blazing within; yet but little is known of what takes place there, because the few strangers who make up his household are bound, by dreadful oaths, never to disclose the secrets of the magician's abode.
"Now go, Jack, my son," says Joan to the tinkard, "and see whatever can be keeping Tom so long from home, and don't come back without him."
As they looked out of the door, two horsemen were seen approaching the outer gate.
"Speak of the devil and see his horns," says the tinkard; "behold our great bucca Tom, bringing the enchanter into his castle: no one can mistake the Lord of Pengersec, on that fiery steed, which seems to tread the air and spurn the ground.—Some say that his horse is no animal of flesh and blood, but a mean devil or under fiend he has broken in, and bound to serve him."
"Genevra, child vean," says Joan, "keep to the chamber in the farther tower, and I will prepare the supper alone: the dinner-hour is passed now, but supper must be got; for if the Old One himself came to the castle, one's bound to treat him to the best cheer the place affords; and perhaps, after all, neither the devil nor his mate is so bad as they are made out to be."
The ladies of the castle left the tinkard to receive Tom and his guest, and to place bread and wine before them when they enter the hall. Tom took the visitor over his lands to see all his flocks and herds, except the sheep, goats, and young cattle, which his children watched, whilst they pastured on the distant hills: these sheep, goats, and young cattle were all brought home at night, and folded near the castle or shut up securely in a strong-walled bowjey (sheep fold and house) among the hills, if at a distance; because all the northern hills and the forests of Ludgvan were then swarming with wolves. Pengersec's admiration of Tom's hedges and praise of his cattle won his heart, and Jack, in spite of a natural dislike, for which he could give no reason, could not help being charmed, at times, by the agreeable discourse and easy courtesy of the great lord. Joan, assisted by some of the younger children, who were not of the age nor size to be of much note yet, did the milking, prepared the supper, and dressed herself and Genevra in a way to show respect to their guest; and, for all the devilish black character of the enchanter, they could not help admiring him when he entered the hall and saluted them with the air of a prince: at the first glance they thought him the handsomest man they ever saw: his dark complexion wasn't of the tinkard's healthy bright brown, but of a sallow hue, tinged with black, which made him appear rather grim when he stood in the clear sunshine, yet the lightning-glance on his eye, the curling black hair, flowing beard, and stately mien, made him appear such as women admire; besides, his long flowing mantle gave him the look of a king in his royal robes.
Joan rejoiced to see Tom home again, safe and sound, and was charmed with the lord of Pengersec, when he praised the beauty of her
children and the order of her house, just the same as his admiration of Tom's hedges, cattle, and tin had sent the sleepy giant off to a fool's paradise. Genevra feared the man, she knew not why; his glance, when directed towards her, held her spellbound like a bird before an adder. He tried the glamor of his fine speeches on the tinkard too, but when their glances met it was like the flashing of forked lightning on an iron-stone rock, or diamond cut diamond; yet there was music in the tones of the enchanter's voice which charmed the senses in spite of reason. Joan placed before her lordly guest such a repast as would please a king. The healths of all were often drunk and returned, in the richest wines and strongest beer, by all but Jack, and the night quickly passed on in revelry and song.
The boys were unable to get the sheep and cattle near the castle until Jack drove the visitor's horse away down the hill. The colts, cows, and other cattle gathered around the tinkard, trembling and moaning, as they will often flock round a person they know during a violent thunderstorm. When Jack came back from folding the sheep, Pengersec's horse was nowhere to be seen: he told their strange guest that his horse was gone out of sight, but it could’nt get over the hedges. "You dont know that. Yet, never mind," the lord replied, "if he were as far away as Tregonan hill (ten miles or more) I've only to whistle, and he would be at the door in one minute."
Joan and Genevra sang many old songs which the guest much admired; then Pengersec took the harp: he was said to be such a cunning minstrel that he could make the harp speak, and that he often used his minstrelsy for the purpose of his magic art. Now, when he first ran his fingers over the strings, the harp seemed to screech and cry in agony, as if to drown the shrill whistle, echoing from hill to hill, which he sent after his horse, and which was answered by the neighing of the steed from Godalwin hill ten miles away: the cows, and other cattle near the castle, were so frightened that they all galloped off, bellowing and bleating, to the carns and cliffs. Pengersec stood up, and, running his fingers over the strings, he sang many sweet melodies, learned from the eastern princess he had brought to Pengersec, to be the mistress of his castle; though the words were all unknown, yet the melody of voice and harp even charmed Jack into forgetfulness of the minstrel's evil fame: when the music ceased a moment, Jack went out to see the time of night by the rising and southing of the noted stars which served as clocks in those times;—the height of certain stars, and the remnant of the waning moon glimmering over the carns on the hill of Trencrom, told him that midnight was passed: on looking through the court-yard doorway he saw the enchanter's steed standing near the heaving-stock, in the shadow of the wall;—the eyeballs of the beast shone like coals of fire, and the breath from its nostrils looked like the blue flames of brimstone;—then Jack entered the hall, and saw Pengersec standing in the midst of clouds of smoke or vapour, which spread throughout the castle with an intoxicating
perfume. A metal band, set with seven precious stones, for the planetary signs, encircled the magician's head; his mantle, spread wide, showed round his waist the broad leather girdle, on which were many strange magical figures; on his breast hung the magic pentagram; in his hand he grasped the conjuring-stick which he was waving over Tom, Joan, and the rest, who, all but Genevra, were laid on the ground as dead as the stones on which they lay.
Jack was nearly overcome with the intoxicating fumes of the incense which rose around the enchanter;—everything seemed to shimmer and swim before his dazzled vision when he looked at the conjuror waving his wand in the midst of the curling clouds of smoke. The tinkard was so entranced that, when he saw Genevra, unable to speak or rise, stretch out her hands towards him, he was powerless to move, and unable to hinder the magician from taking Genevra into his arms; but when he saw her, like one dead, hanging on Pengersec's shoulder, as he bore her to his horse, the lover's heart moved again and awakened him from the magic trance. The enchanter, bearing the helpless Genevra, passed out. Jack sprung after them into the castle-court, but only to see the enchanter place the maiden on his horse, spring into the saddle, and gallop off, leaving a train of blue fire to mark their track, all down the hillside from the castle-court to the lower gate. Now, here the enchanter stopped a moment; whether the demon-steed was unable to rise off the earth with the innocent maiden, or Pengersec feared to take the leap with his precious burthen, he did not attempt to spring his horse over the iron spikes which the tinkard had placed on the top of the gate, but tried in vain when he lifted the latch to push open the gate, because, you remember, the gate was secured by a lock of the tinkard's contrivance, which could not be opened by anyone unacquainted with the secret of its construction. At the instant the magician bore off Genevra, Jack felt the charm-stone or amulet (which had been hung on his neck when a child, to protect him from the spirits of darkness, sorcery, and witchcraft) leaping on his breast like a thing alive, as much as to say, "Try my virtue when everything else has failed!" Jack had thought but little, and believed less, of what his mammy had told him about the virtue which abode in the bit of ironstone she hung on his breast. Yet now, quick as thought, he followed her directions, by first touching his forehead and mouth with the stone; then, when he placed it on his breast near his heart, he felt the courage of a lion; his lips were unsealed to speak a word which broke the spell, and his brain told him to use his bow;—Jack aimed his arrow at the enchanter's naked left hand, stretched out to pull the bobbin that lifted the latch. "There, catch that, devilskin," says Jack, as the bowstring twanged, and the arrow flew;—and Pengersec did catch it too, for the arrow went right through his open left hand and nailed it to the oaken gate: just as quickly as the arrow flew, Jack arrived, hammer in hand. With the first blow of his hammer he broke the enchanter's right arm;
then he tore Genevra from his grasp, and laid her on the grass, to all appearance dead;—then he gave a vigorous blow to the diamond star which blazed in the forehead of the steed, and with the ring of the hammer Jack spoke a word which makes the devils quake and tremble. The demon-steed shrunk to the ground like a shrivelled-up skin, which, in a twinkling, changed into a black adder, that crawled away under the gate and left the rider hanging by his hand.
The enchanter, seeing that he was now forsaken by his familiar, and at the mercy of the tinkard, begged to be released.
"No, not yet," says Jack, "I pay no regard to begging, kissing, or praying, and you don't budge an inch till I've stripped you of all your devil-spun toggery, and Genevra is restored to life."
Some blows of Jack's hammer smashed the frontlet of stones which shone on the magician's head; then, placing the claws of his weapon between the clasp of Pengersec's cloak and his neck, he wrenched the collar open, tore the garment from his shoulders, and from his waist the magic girdle, which fell to the ground with the gold chains and diamonds the ungrateful guest had stolen;—he then pushed open the gate, and, with a blow of his hammer, knocked off the iron arrow-head which had passed through the timber and held fast the conjuror. Pengersec, released and stripped of all his magical machinery, seemed changed from a big, dark, handsome man into an old, withered, ugly, filthy wretch that was loathsome to behold; his sunken orbs gleamed in their sockets like the eyes of an adder ready to spring on its prey, as he slunk away, mumbling curses and threats of vengeance. "Begone, wretch," says Jack, "I fear thy curses no more than I heed thy prayers; and don't show thy nose over Towednack hills again, for with my charmed stone, strong bow, and hammer, I defy every conjuror, witch, wizard, and devil west of Carn-brea."
As soon as the lord of Pengersec slunk away, Jack's first care was to release Genevra from her enchanted trance by a counter-spell;—for this he fetched, in the sleeve of his coat, living water from the spring below, which he sprinkled over the enchanted maid in passing nine times round her, following the course of the sun, and repeating at each turn the charm which thus begins (and which is still used as a cure for epileptic fits, &c.),—"Three spirits came from the east, two with life and one with death," &c. (We omit the rest of this charm, in which sacred words are so mixed up with an ancient superstitious practice, that it is nothing less than blasphemous; yet such practices are still common amongst us.)
The ninth time the tinkard passed round Genevra (sprinkling the water and saying the charm), she murmured her lover's name;—when he raised her from the ground and supported her on his breast she was still in the regions of enchanted visions; yet the sound of her lover's voice
brought him into her dreams, and she clung to his neck, still murmuring in her troubled sleep, "Oh! my beloved, let us escape from this strange land, where the glaring light, and glitter of crystal, gold, and purple blind one. The ceaseless music tires me to death, but here one can neither die nor sleep, with the everlasting harpings of the unearthly-looking beings, dressed all in white. Oh! let me hide in thy bosom from the face of the enchanter, whose stern looks freeze my blood. Let us haste to the hills and carns, where long ago we lived, and loved; there the summer's day was all too short, from early dawn, when the birds greeted the rising sun, to dewy eve, when the gentle moon shone over the sea; and the lambs, kids, and fawns sported around us among the flowers, heath, and ferns. Thither let us return—that we may again hear our mother's voice, the noontide song of the lark, the calling of the cleaves, and the roaring of the sea, where the clouds sometimes hide the sun, that we may have shadow and rest!"
Jack placed the iron-stone on her burning forhead and pressed her to his breast;—the charm soon restored her reason, and, when she unclosed her eyes and beheld the honest loving face of the tinkard, all her enchanted visions fled like the spectres of an unnatural dream. The tinkard then, displaying his amulet to the admiring gaze of Genevra, said "Blessings on thee, Spirit of the iron-stone!—thou ray of the bright star of the north, around which all other stars revolve! Thou inpartest some of thy virtue to the magic vase, by whose direction mariners from unknown regions find their way over the trackless ocean to the land of tin—to the happy land where the sacred sun, from whom all beings derive light and life, loves to linger, before he gives place to the rulers of the night! When sun, moon, and stars are shrouded, by black clouds, from the sight of the tempest-tossed mariner, thou showest him the spot where, behind the storm-woven veil, the beacon-star still shines! Thou mysterious, invisible spirit! who shall say where thy power begins or ends!—To my good blade and hammer, even, thou showest thy love, and givest some of thy virtue, all-powerful spirit of iron!"
When Jack had finished his rhapsody about the bit of loadstone he descended to mother earth, and thought of Tom, Joan, and the rest, and placing his arm around Genevra's waist he supported her tottering steps to the castle-hall, where she was grieved and confounded to see father, mother, and children all in confusion on the floor, like a herd of stuck pigs. "Never grieve, nor fear, Genevra dear," says Jack, as he well drenched the enchanted sleepers. The fresh water from the spring so far restored the prostrate crew that they came round to snore in a natural way; then the tinkard faced towards the east, and made some signs in the air with his hammer, the mode and use of which are only revealed to the brethren of certain ancient mysteries: he next left the sleeping inmates of the castle to the care of Genevra and with a long pike, carried a few faggots of furze down near the gate that he might burn all the enchanter's
machinery and purify the place. With the long-hilted pitchfork, or pike, he threw the enchanter's cloak, girdle, frontlet, and conjuring-stick into the flames;—the stick jumped up, changed into a winged serpent, and flew away, howling and hissing, through the smoke towards Pengersec: as the cloak and other things burned, they sent off troops of demons of all shapes and sizes: and these, ascending with the flames, forked lightning, and smoke, raised the wind to a howling tempest. The lightning flashed, the thunder roared louder and louder. "Howl away, devils," says Jack, "all your noise and ugly faces can't harm an honest tinkard!"
The dawn was breaking when Jack returned to the castle, where all was fair weather;—the children were rising from their beds of rushes and ferns. Jack went with them to the distant hills to seek the cattle which had been frightened away with the devilish doings which took place during the night.
(Now that tranquility is again restored to the giant's castle, before we begin the history of another day, we may remark that from what we find in some fragments of old stories (which are still floating in remote places, like waifs and strays) it is certain that the loadstone (sometimes spoken of as the stone of knowledge, stone of virtue, &c.) was regarded here, in Tom's time, as a kind of divinity, or at least it was venerated as the shrine of a deity, and was thought to possess much greater power than the little discs or wheels of moorstone, rudely polished, with a hole drilled in the centre, which the mothers in the high countries, and in other places too, perhaps, still hang from their children's necks as a charm, or kind of talisman, to keep their precious offspring from being ill-wished, blighted by an evil eye, led astray into the bogs, or from losing themselves among the pig-sties and turf-ricks through the tricks of the piskies; and, above all, that the small people may not make changelings of the young ones. Yet, in spite of all their care, it often happens that the small people (fairies) steal the pretty babes and place their own wisht-looking brats in their stead).
The glorious sun, the holy sun, high in the heavens, had driven far from the castle all spirits of evil when Jack and the boys came home with the cattle;—they found that Joan, though she still felt much stupified, like one getting out of a long drinking-bout, had managed to prepare the morning meal. Tom—sick, sore, and crazy—thought he must soon die: in his time people were rarely sick more than once in their lives, and that was when they died. Sometimes Tom raved about going to see the fine things which the enchanter had promised to show him in his castle;—at other times the mayor and ladies of Market-jew were uppermost; but when he could no longer eat his porridge, he thought of his old mammy, who yet lived down by the long sheep's house and fold near the place which is still called Bowjeyheer, in Ludgvan. She was one of the wise women of old, who were skilled in charms, herbs, and white
witchcraft, like the tellars of to-day, who can read everybody's fortune but their own.
When Tom was in health and strength he never thought of the old woman, but as soon as he was taken sick Tom Vean was sent to bring her to the castle. She wasn't at all surprised to find her Tom the lord of a castle and lots of tin; for she knew he was born to good luck, yet didn't think he would find it so near by. Joan cursed the tin as the cause of all the mischief, "That all depends," says the old dame, "whose hands it falls into. Tom should have kept out of bad company; but, like other fools, he made feasts for wiser men to eat, and only yesterday he thought a nod from a lord was as good as breakfast. Now, Joan, you go about your work," the old granny continued, "leave the boy Tom and his tin to me; I'll soon cure the one and take good care of the other, for all that's amiss with Tom is high living and lazy times;—the fat is all but grown over his heart;—in a few days more, by drinking Honney-the-Brewer's beer, the thing in his breast would be so clogged that it wouldn't be able to move. Now, Tom, my son, you are to eat nothing but barley bread, and drink nothing but vervain water, or something else of your mammy's brewing for a week or more, till your big belly be reduced to a healthy and handsome size, and you can go on with your hedging again: I will cure or kill thee be sure, for now thee art of no use in life, but only a trouble to thyself and everyone about thee."
During the rest of the week, whilst Tom was doctored by the old dame, Jack and the boys were away in the kills killing game for the tinkard's wedding.
We know next to nothing about the marriage ceremonies in Tom's time, or whether they had any of more consequence then that of jumping over the broom.—However, the bridal took place on the first day of the harvest moon. All the cousins were invited: these, with the mayor of Market-jew and all his family, made some hundreds of wedding-guests, who enjoyed the fat feasting and merry games till night, when all the young men and maidens, with light torches, accompanied Jack and Genevra over the hills to their new home in Choon. The feasting and games were kept up on Morvah hills all the following week: it was easy to have good feasting then; the young men had only to hunt the hills and moors for a few hours to kill game enough to feast on for a week. Tom got over the feast very well, as his old mammy, with her knitting in her hand, always sat beside him with her piercing grey eyes fixed on his trencher, and stuck her knitting-needles in his side when he had eaten and drunk enough. Every year after, when the tinkard's wedding-day came round, all their relations came from far and near to keep up the remembrances of the happy time by holding high festival in Choon: a week or more was always passed in hunting Morvah hills and carns in the mornings, and in feasting, or the ancient games, during the rest of the hours of daylight. In a few
years the number of Tom's and Jack's posterity had so increased that the union of all the family on the first Sunday in August (which in latter times was fixed for the year-day of the tinkard's wedding feast) became such a crowd that the assemblage assumed the character of a fair; and the remembrance of this fair is observed in Morvah down to the present time.
After the tinkard had settled in Morvah, he became known all about by the name of Jack of the Hammer, because he was said to have performed many wonderful feats with that tool, both in working and fighting,—such as making millstones, killing wolves, and smashing the skulls of sea-robbers who landed on the shores to steal the tin. In a few years, when Jack had a large family grown up, they cleared and cultivated large tracks of the lower lands, which, until then, were overgrown with thickets of brambles, hazel, and oak. In breaking up the ground they found no end of tin, which they piled up around their dwelling-place and covered over with the turf and furze-ricks, that it mighn’t be stolen.
When Jack's family numbered a score or more, the small dwelling built just before his marriage was much enlarged, and a strong wall constructed round the whole, to secure their tin and cattle against the robbers of the northern sea; for in those times large bands of the red haired rovers frequently landed on Genvor sands, or in Pendeen, Porthmear, Pendower, and other coves along the coast: whilst some of the fiery-headed crew watched the boats, others fired and pillaged all the country round. As the family increased the old crellas, or crows, which still remain, were built within safe distance of Choon castle. Much of the strong walls, built by Jack of the Hammer and his sons to fortify their dwelling on the downs, may be seen to this day. In a few generations Jack's posterity spread over the land, and many of them settled in a part of the country more to the south and west, which was still richer in tin than the hills of Morvah: some of their old works, which the tinners call coffins, may still be seen about Bosorn and Bellowal. They also built, on Morvah waters, and farther down toward the west, the first mills known; among others the ones near Carn-y-vellan and Nancledrea;—then the troughs (querns) in which the old people ground their corn were seldom used except to crush the pillas.
Tom and his family always lived on the best of terms with the hearty, honest, mayor of Market-jew. Best of all, the enchanter hadn't the chance to serve Tom any more dirty tricks; for a short time after the sorcerer was beaten out of the castle by the tinkard, people say that his time was up, and his master came one night in a thunderstorm, took off Pengersec, and burnt his castle to the ground. This event happened hundreds of years before the pirate-ship was stranded on the sands of Pengersec cove, and the sea-robber (with the treasures saved from the wreck of his vessel) built the present castle on or near the ruins of the enchanter's abode.
We hear but little more about Tom and Joan, because the old woman kept herself alive a long time by eating little else but pillas porridge and drinking her decoctions of agrimony, bettany, vervain, and other herbs that she knew all about. She took good care to make her son lead a sober respectable sort of life, and pass his time in hedging more lands, and she only let the tin be taken from the castle when there was a chance to get other people's land for it in exchange;—in this way she contrived that all Tom's sons should have large estates. From these high-country boys all the oldest families in those parts are descended. To be sure, some of them have left the country, died out, or become poor and unknown (when they are much the same as dead to the rest of the world), yet some of the brood are still found in the Trewhellas, Tregarthens, Trenwiths, and others, who took their names from the places where their ancestors lived. The ancient family of the Curnows, too, are said to have come from the Towednack hills. Besides, one of Tom's daughters, called Tibby, or Tiberia (wherever she got the grand name from) was married to a Ludgvan man who had a large run of rushy moors all along the morabs of Ludgvan and Gulval;—from the bulrushes and reeds, in the midst of which the descendants of this couple lived, their family acquired the name of Hoskin, and this family still preserves the remembrance of the giant's daughter in the name of Tiberia, as the family is never without an aunt Tibby. In Jack of the Hammer and Genevra, or An Jinnifer, as she came to be familiarly called, many of the ancient families of Morvah and the adjacent parishes had their rise.
The celebration of Morvah fair connects the giants’ age with the times we well remember, when such crowds came to Morvah from all the parishes round, on the August Sunday, to keep up this remarkable holiday, that a three-acre field would not hold all the horses ridden to Morvah fair, so that each horse might have a mouthful of grass and room to toss up his heels; and one may be sure there were plenty of riders for the number of beasts, from the old saying of "riding three on one horse, like going to Morvah fair." More than a score often got a lift on the same horse, as we should take turns to ride and run, holding fast by the girths, legs, or tail of the horse, that we might keep all together. When we arrived in Morvah, none but the old folks ever thought of going indoors;—we young folks seated ourselves on the hillside, hedges, rocks, anywhere, to eat, drink, chat, and enjoy the fun of Morvah fair games. In the afternoon many of the youngsters would ride away, helter-skelter, to Carn Galva, to gather hurts (whortle-berries), and have a bit of courtship on the way back. Some few got home by morning, but many stayed in Morvah all night, and often all the week, when they had no harvest work to call them home. Morvah fair was for us the grand day of all the year, when hundreds on hundreds, from east and west, used to meet to see each other and high-country cousins; and we hope it will never be forgotten as long as a rock remains on Morvah hills.
In these happy simple times we have often sat on the hill the best part of the night, to listen to some old Morvah croney's story about their old giant who had twenty sons, and how he would have them, and all their descendants, to meet in Morvah on August Sunday, for the sake of keeping up his wedding-day and the remembrance of their relationship in all time to come. Now, the giant of whom the Morvah people used to tell these legends is none other than Jack of the Hammer, or Jack the Tinkard. In after years, when his doughty deeds were only imperfectly remembered by his descendants, they, for more glory, made him out to be a giant, just as they have magnified the deeds and made giants of many other heroes; and Jack (if anything like the character given of him in the old folks' drolls) was worth a big bundle of many old giants and saints, as the former, by most accounts, did little more than hurl great rocks from hill to hill, or play bob with the quoits they have left about among the cairns. As for the Cornish saints, the poor-tempered set, they were often fighting, cursing, or tricking each other, as is proved by the legends of St. Just and St. Keverne, and others, who came to share the popular homage with our old giants.
(It may be necessary to remark that in ancient times (before the country was divided into parishes), much more land was comprised under the name of Morvah, than the small parish of that name. Morvah means the sea-coast or country near the sea, and has much the same signification as morabs, morveth, &c. The saying is often heard among the old folks that Morvah was the ancient name for all the high countries in which Choon is included. It is somewhat remarkable that, among the primitive people of the high countries, the saints, to whom the northern churches are dedicated, have not succeeded in getting their names attached to the parishes. In the three parishes of Morvah, Zennor (holy land), and Towednack, more curious usages and legends are preserved than in all the rest of the West. From the inhabitants of the huts among these northern hills one may still hear many a strange story about distant places, as well as those relating to their own neighbourhood. In some versions of the Towednack story, Jack's encounter with the enchanter is related somewhat differently; yet all are, in substance, the same, and the above is the most general. This portion of the legend seems to belong to much later times than the rest of the story. We have reason to think some old traditions about Pengersec are mixed up with the high-country droll, because in Breage many old legends are preserved, in which an enchanter of Pengersec castle always figures with a witch of Fradden, an eastern princess for a wife, &c.)