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"BAD times! Master Trickett," said Betsy Humming, as she turned her wheel, at which she was most industriously spinning, "bad times! for tho' I be at work from morning to night, and do spin as fine Kersey, tho' I say it who ought not to say it, as any in Crediton, nobody comes to buy. Never had so little to do all the years I've worked for a living--'tis all along with the coming in of the Scotch King."
"Very bad times, neighbour," replied Trim Trickett, the tailor, "for nobody wears out their clothes as they used to do in the old Queen's time; or alters their fashions as the great folk did in the days of Elizabeth. Except a pair of trunk hose for master Justice, Sir Simon de Noodle, and a doublet for his young son; and a new gown for Dame Westcott, I have not had a job to keep my needle going for these two months. Never had such bad times, since I first crossed a leg in the way of business."
"You've as much as you deserve, and more too, Master Trickett; and so have you, Betsy Humming," said Gammer Guy, a cross-grained old crone, who was sitting in the easy chair by the chimney nook, leaning on her staff. She was one of those village gossips who do little themselves, and spend most of their time in hindering their neighbours.
"No thanks to you, Gammer Guy, if any good luck comes to me, or to any body else," said the tailor; "for if ill wishing be as bad as ill doing, as some folks think, a body need not go far to find it, when you be near. I know what some people do say of other people."
"And what do they say of other people?" asked Gammer Guy, "for I know you mean that hit for me, Master Trickett; but do you suppose every body means harm, or does it, because they be old and past work?"
"No, Mother Guy, I think no such thing," replied Trim. "There is old Anastatia Steer bed-ridden now; I never thought any ill of her, nor said it, tho' she be the oldest woman in the county; and may be in all England."
"Ah! poor old soul," said Betsy Humming, "I've spun the woollen for her shroud for her long ago, and that by her own desire to oblige her; tho' I'm not to be paid for it till she be dead, and calls for it."
"Then I reckon you won't much longer be out of pocket, Betsy," said the tailor.'
That's true enough, Trim," replied Betsy; "and if I be called on soon for the shroud, you'll have to make it;. and that will be grist, to your mill, Master Trickett. And then she has so many relations; and her great great grandchildren's children be so many, I reckon you'll have to make a mourning suit for them all, women and men; and what a wind-fall will that be for you! How your needle will go day and night to have the doublets, and hose, and the gowns, and the kirtles ready for the funeral! And I shall sell them some of my black kersies, and times will be better; and we shall have something else to do than to stand and talk about 'em."
"Well! if ever I heard the like!" said Gammer Guy, "You and Trim Trickett to go for to settle a poor harmless old neighbour's death after that fashion! And all to put money into your own pockets! O its a cruel and a very wicked thing! Who's ill-wishing now I trow?"
"Not I," said Trim, "I be sure."
"Nor I," said Betsy Humming.
"Did you not talk of old Anastatia Steer's death? and what a profit it would be to you both, before it comes?"
"Yes; but we did not say we'd kill her," said Betsy.
"Nor wish her dead neither," said Trim, "we only said she was like to die soon."
"And is not that bad enough," exclaimed Gammer Guy.. "What's the harm with old Anastatia that you should talk of her in such a way; and she only been bed-ridden these last six months?"
"Why, is she not said to be one hundred and forty years old complete? And don't folks come far and near to see her, as a cuerossity?" said the tailor. "And doesn't she fail faster and faster every day? She can't live for ever like the wandering Jew."
"But she has no doctor," said Gammer Guy," and so may last for many a year yet to come."
"She is blind," said Betsy Humming.
"And deaf," said Trim.
"And has never a tooth in her head, and can't feed her-self," said Betsy.
"And has lost her memory, and the use of her limbs," said Trim.
"But she's alive, and eats, drinks, and sleeps," said Gammer Guy.
"So she may," said Trim; "but I do say, for all that, old Anastatia Steer being one hundred and forty years complete, bed-ridden, blind, deaf, and helpless, may be supposed able to die soon, without anything going contrary to the rules of Natur, and without any ill-wishing from me and my neighbour, Betsy Humming; and we both wish her no harm."
Gammer Guy, who was given to have ill thoughts and suspicions of everybody, shook her head; and after taking a cup of warm spiced ale, with an egg beat up in it, at Betsy Humming's cost, repaid her hospitality by spreading at the next two or three neighbours where she called in for a gossip, that she was quite sure Betsy Humming, for the sake of selling some of her black kersies, and Trim Trickett, for the sake of having to make 'em up as mourning suits, were both of them ill-wishing poor old Anastatia Steer, who was comfortable in her bed, free from all sickness, and might last as long as the king himself, let alone their wicked wiles. But such ill-wishing was as bad as a downright murdering of her.
It was so indeed in popular opinion, at the time of my tale, in the West of England; when poor old women and men, if they once got the character of ill-wishing, were sure to be taken up as witches, wizards, or sorcerers, and were in danger of being tried for their lives, and burnt under the law against witchcraft, which was particularly patronised by King James the First.
Now it so happened, that Anastatia Steer unluckily died suddenly within two or three days after this discourse, of no disease whatever, according to all appearance, except that from which there is no escape--worn-out nature. No sooner did Betsy Humming hear of it, than she produced the woollen shroud, spun by herself ten years ago to oblige the departed; and Trim very innocently solicited custom in his way from the friends and relatives of the deceased.
But what was his surprise, and that of his neighbour, the honest spinster of kersies, to find doors shut in their faces, backs turned upon them, and an expression of universal abhorrence at the very sight of them, as if they carried about the plague, at that time rife in a distant part of the county of Devon. It was too bad; and Trim hearing from his little boy, Johnny Trickett, that it was commonly reported all over Crediton, that he and Betsy Humming had ill-wished poor old Anastatia out of the world, he grew furious, and at once accused cross-grained Gammer Guy of having done this injury to the fame of two honest souls. Never was tailor so angry as he; and he protested that he would have justice on his defamer, even if he sought it at the throne of King James the First. But before he could seek that majestic person to obtain it, the town constable sought out him and his supposed associate, Betsy Humming, and both of them were taken into custody on the very serious charge of having conspired, by witchcraft and diabolical arts, the death of Anastatia Steer for their own selfish purposes and profit.
That was an awful morning on which the luckless tailor and spinster appeared before the Justice of the Peace. They were ushered into an old Gothic hall, venerable from age and the smoke of many generations. About the walls hung antiquated portraits of various judges, knights, esquires, and ladies, representing, in a goodly row, all the De Noodles who had flourished and died since the days of the Conquest.
Sir Simon, the living representative of his distinguished family, seemed to carry the, grandeur and importance of his long line of ancestry all in his own person. He had a proud and austere air; was tall and lank, of a somewhat withered appearance, with thin lips, and little pinky eyes, and a sharp-hooked nose, with a pair of barnacles stuck on the end of it that pinched so close as to cause him to speak through it with a small squeaking voice. He wore a large pair of trunk hose, a rich doublet, and a black velvet cap stuck on the crown of his head; and when seated in his high-backed carved oak-chair, with his clerk on his right hand, prepared with pen, ink-horn, and paper, to take the depositions, and Master Constable, a figure as broad as he was long, bearing his staff of office, on the other side, Sir Simon altogether presented the spectacle of a solemn, stately old gentleman, whose nod or whose frown was enough to scare the poor creatures who were brought before him on such a charge.
After surveying the accused with no very encouraging scrutiny, and hearing a general statement of the case, Sir Simon proceeded to examine Gammer Guy and the rest of the witnesses. The evidence was by no means satisfactory; and of the "says he," and "says she," and "says I," and "says you," that make up so much of evidence in a country place, there was a very sufficient share. Though told with many alterations and much exaggeration, nothing more really appeared against the accused than has already been related; not a single fact could be brought against either party except the following, viz., that Betsy Humming had a very favourite black cat, which she was known to fondle and pet considerably; that pussy had been seen to sit by her side and on her knee, and to raise her tail quite into Betsy's face; that the said cat would purr to her in a very suspicious manner when pleased, or when her mistress rubbed down her back, or gave her from her own bowl some of her milk porridge. The cat, it was solemnly deposed, in the opinion of Gammer Guy and many other credible witnesses, was no other than a familiar or evil spirit, employed by the aforesaid Betsy to do her wicked will.
And as a further evidence of her league with the tailor to do deeds of darkness, it was proved that he kept in his cottage a tame, old raven, of which he was very fond; and the witness who proved this, said, he would like to know what any honest man could have to do with a raven about his dwelling? And that the cat being black and the bird of the same colour, was such a sign of agreement in wickedness as could not be mistaken.
His worship, the justice, on hearing all this, gravely shook his head, and muttered, in an under tone, "Very suspicious."
His clerk shook his head in assent to the sapient observation of his master, and master constable gave three shakes of his; one, it is to be presumed, in concurrence with his worship's opinion; another in assent to the echo of his clerk, and the last in confirmation of both the former with his own. At length the hearing of the evidence against the accused closed.
Sir Simon de Noodle looked very wise, shook his head again, leant back in his chair, twisted his thumbs, hemmed thrice, and then--asked his clerk what he thought of the matter. The clerk consulted the constable in an undertone of voice; and the constable whispered with old cross-grained Gammer Guy, who, amongst the many bitter charges she on that morning made against Trim, forgot not to state that he had called her an old fool.
Trim, seeing so much consultation going on, not knowing what would be the result, and fearing nothing less than hanging if the justice took up the matter with the assistance of so many counsellors, rashly stepped forward, and proposed that the nearest relatives of the deceased, who had come into some property by her death, should be called upon to say whether there might not be great probability of poor old Anastatia Steer, in the one hundred and fortieth year of her age, managing to die a natural death, without the assistance either of witches or wizards, or witchcraft of any kind.
Now the relatives of the deceased were far more disposed to settle the matter reasonably than the enemies of Trim and Betsy, had they been left to themselves. But Gammer Guy would interfere; and as Sir Simon de Noodle was, in respect to knowledge of the law, quite as much an old woman as herself, he did not check her. So she persuaded the friends of the dead to drop prosecution for witchcraft and murder solely on the accused subscribing to the following conditions of ordeal: namely, that Betsy Humming should spin one hundred and forty threads (that being the number in agreement with the years of the deceased), and spin them so fine, that they should all, pass through, and remain in the eye of Trim Trickett's needle with which he usually worked in his shop. But unless this were done by the expiration of one month, and if they eventually failed in such object, then they should both be put upon their trial for witchcraft and murder. The ordeal was a severe one; and the luckless spinster and tailor looked at each other aghast with affright. But Betsy had a stout heart, far stouter than the tailor; and so, raising her hand after a minute's pause, she gave Trim an encouraging slap on the back, exclaiming, "Never start from the trial, man! never fear. We have done no wrong; let us do right still; and trust the rest to all the good saints in the calendar. I can spin with a clear conscience, and you can thread a needle with an honest man's hand; and so I'll try which can spin the finest, I or the spiders. 'Tis 'for life or death, Master Trickett, so never fear; but look to pass one hundred and forty of my threads through your needle, till a hundred and forty stick in it."
"But if the thing fails," said Trim.
"Why then it fails," replied Betsy; "and in one month we be tried for witchcraft and murder; but that can't make us guilty of such wickedness; and if there's law or justice to be had in the land, we'll have it, Trim, in some way or other."
Trim shook his head; but the bystanders observed that the black cat, which had been brought before the justice as a guilty party in the business, raised her tail three times as Betsy spoke, and a murmur of dread ran through the assembly. Even Sir Simon de Noodle did not like the sign, nor the understanding it seemed to indicate between the witch and her familiar, and directed the constable to detain the cat, saying--that the said cat was to be considered as remanded in point of law. Master constable bowed profoundly to this command; and a bag was ordered to convey pussy out of the court to the safe keeping of the law officer. The cat took her removal very ungraciously; and as she scratched and resisted, and mewed loudly, on being forced into the bag, it was considered as an unequivocal proof of her being a familiar spirit in a feline form.
Sir Simon de Noodle now proceeded most solemnly to confirm the conditions of ordeal. But as, for the sake of his dignity, he fancied he must do something out of his own head, he rendered the conditions still harder by ordering that Betsy Humming and Trim Trickett should be forthwith sent to gaol, there to spin the one hundred and forty threads, and there to pass them within the eye of the needle; and the sapient justice added, that unless they could accomplish this task before the expiration of the month allotted for the purpose, he thought the evidence so strong against both of them, that he doubted not one would be burned alive, and the other certainly hanged.
All this was very cruel. Betsy Humming spun from, morning till night, and till she nearly blinded herself with the fineness of her work; but Tim could not get more than ten or a dozen threads through the eye of his needle. They were so poor that they had nothing to live on but prison fare--bread and water; and only straw in their cold, stone cells to sleep upon. For the first week, when they met every day in the court-yard of the gaol, it was only to bewail their ill-fortune, though Betsy's heart was still stouter than Trim's.
But (according to a trite and true observation), as in this world there is no condition, however good, but some drawback is found to attend it, so is there none, perhaps, so miserable but some consolation is afforded to lighten the load of inevitable suffering. Now this was exactly the case with Trim Trickett. He was the parent of a little boy named Johnny; an only child, and a very good one. Johnny, seeing how hard his poor father fared, could not bear the thoughts of his having nothing to eat but bread and water; and so he determined to do as other boys did (for there was a great demand for them at this time), and go and work in the mines, to save as much as he could of his small weekly pittance to get some comforts and a little meat for. his father; and, if it were necessary, to live on bread and water himself, so that he might but help his suffering parent.
I shall not detain you, my young friends, with giving you any long account of a Cornish mine, more than to tell you, that, at a very great depth below the surface of the earth, running in lines on beds, called lodes, people find a vast deal of copper ore. This is dug out and smelted with fire, so as to free it from the dross mixed with it, and then it becomes a valuable metal; and the copper-smith works it into many useful things for household and other purposes. A pit, or hole, is made in the earth, and sometimes a mine is found and worked several hundred feet below the surface; and men are let down into it with buckets, not unlike those used at a well. Water is always found in mines; very large machines, therefore, are erected, by which it is constantly pumped up, or the men would be drowned whilst digging out the copper ore. As the light of day cannot penetrate thus deep in the earth, the miners used candles in lanterns; but, in our days, more frequently the safety lamp invented by Sir Humphrey Davy. Boys are much wanted in mines, to do many slight matters of work; such as to wheel small quantities of the ore in barrows to the heap, whence the men remove the load above ground. They are sometimes also employed to pick and wash the copper, so as to free it from the loose earth with which it is mixed. In many other things they are likewise very useful.
Now, at the time of my story, a man named Tregarrens, who was of a morose and tyrannical disposition, wanted a lad to help him do his work in the mines; and seeing little Johnny was a willing and active lad, he engaged him at once; and the pay he was to give him was rather more than the boy expected. Johnny went, therefore, eagerly to work, but he soon had cause to rue having placed him-self under his new master; for on all occasions, whether he deserved it or not, the poor lad was abused and maltreated by this tyrant below-ground in a very vexatious manner, and kicked, and cuffed, and thrashed for the smallest, and oftentimes for no offence at all.
Among other practices in the mine, Johnny observed that the miners anxiously worked wherever they heard a sort of hammering noise within the rock. Their belief was, that this hammering was made by a Pixy, named Gathon, a great frequenter of mines, but who acted with considerable caprice. Sometimes he would hammer where there was nothing but rubble to be found; and then the men would hear him laughing heartily at having so misled them, and caused their labours to be in vain. Whilst, at other times, quite unexpectedly, he would hammer and disclose to them the richest and, hitherto, undiscovered ore.
One day, when Tregarrens' mood had been more than usually brutal, so that poor little Johnny had received several blows of a very severe kind (though he would not think of quitting his employer, on account of the pittance which enabled him to help his father), he could no longer resist giving vent to his feelings. He sat down in an obscure corner amongst the rocks, where nobody was at work, where it was dark and gloomy, and cried as if his young heart would break; the tears literally poured down his cheeks as he endeavoured to wipe them away with his hand.
Whilst he thus sat deploring his hard lot, all at once he saw a bright and greenish light stream upon the opposite side of the rock; and, on looking up, beheld with surprise the queerest little boy he had ever seen. He was very low in stature, but such limbs! they seemed to be composed of rolls of fat; with a face like a ball, and so full and red, with a nose as round as a bottle; whilst the eyes, that were small, gleamed out of his head like a couple of bright burning coals in a blacksmith's forge. He had very large ears, hairy and long, resembling those of a donkey, and a tail that he twirled and twisted about, and at last rested the end of it, which was full and bushy, upon his shoulder. He carried a hammer in his little fat hand, and was as naked as when he was born; but that never troubled him. To complete the whole, there was a look in his face, merry and waggish.
Johnny did not know what to make of such a strange creature, and was afraid to speak to it. But my little gentleman did not stand for ceremony; so he said, laughing as he spoke, "Don't be frightened at me; I'm your friend, Johnny Tricket, and am come to do you good; for I'm a good natured little fellow, as you may see by my being so fat. I am Gathon the mining man; look at my hammer! Ho, ho, ho," continued he laughing, "I am just come from calling off that tyrant your master, Tregarrens, who intended to thrash you, for being absent from the gallery when he wanted you to help to do his work. But as he started to come hither, to look after you, I hammered away furiously in the great rock near his standing; and off he went to call the men to batter for what they won't find, a new run of copper ore. Ho, ho, ho!"
Johnny was greatly startled, and could not forbear expressing a fear that the disappointment would cause his master to be in a worse humour with him. "Never mind that," said the Pixy, "haven't I deceived them finely? Ho, ho, ho! Let Gathon alone for a frisk and a trick, when he's in the mood to make fools of the fellows. But now, Johnny Trickett, leave off crying and hear me; for I'm your friend; and let me tell you that you may have a worse than Pixy Gathon the hammering man."
Johnny's surprise at seeing and hearing a real Pixy was very great. But the poor boy recollected that he had done no harm, though he had suffered a great deal; and so he took heart, and thanking his new friend for his good in intentions, begged him to go on.
"Well then, this is what I have to say. Johnny Trickett, I pity you much; and your father once did me a good turn, though without knowing it, and I'm not ungrateful. He once cracked a nut, into which, as it was hollow, a wicked old witch had squeezed me, and as you may see, I'm not the most easily to be so squeezed, and so he let me out; and though I bobbed up against his nose, he never raised a hand to brush me rudely off or to hurt me; and now I'll repay his good deed, by doing good to his son, and to him into the bargain. Don't cry, my boy, but continue to bear patiently the ill treatment of Tregarrens, till the end of the month your poor father is to be in gaol, and I will do what no mortal creature could do to serve your father; since for every kick and cuff which you take patiently from your tyrant below ground, I'll pass a thread of Betsy Humming's spinning through the eye of your father's needle. And no fear of a hundred and forty cuffs coming to your share, my lad, before the month is ended."
"Say five hundred and no fear, but I'll have 'em all and take them patiently," said Johnny joyfully; "and then my dear father will be safe and out of gaol."
"That he will," said Pixy Gathon, "and I shall rejoice in doing him good!" And with that the little fellow tumbled three times head over heels and whisked about his tail to show his joy on the occasion.
"I'm sure, master Gathon," said Johnny, "that father will be grateful; and if it would be no offence to you, and you would like to have them, instead of running about naked in that fashion, father would be very glad to make you a little pair of hose, and charge nothing for them."
"Pixies never wear hose--thank you all the same for the offer, master Johnny; but I'll serve you and your father too without seeking reward;" and so for the present little Gathon took his leave, popped into a nook among the rocks, and was for the time seen no more.
True indeed was the assurance of the Pixy, Johnny got so many kicks and cuffs, and so well did Gathon keep his word, that, to his exceeding joy and surprise, the tailor, who was not in the secret, found sometimes five or six threads, or more, passed in one day through the eye of his needle from the skein he already possessed of Betsy Humming's spinning. Still there wanted a great number of threads to make up one hundred and forty.
In the meanwhile his good little son continued to labour in the mines, and to receive all his injuries with a cheerful as well as a patient spirit. On one occasion, however, his tyrant was so brutal in the fury of his passion, for some slight offence, as to strike the lad a violent blow when he stood close to the mouth of the shaft or pit; he reeled and fell down it. The poor boy must have been killed on the spot, but for the ready services of his friend Gathon. The Pixy had been hammering near the spot, when seeing the lad's danger he whisked into the bucket, and caught him in it ere he reached the ground, landing him in perfect safety.
Tregarrens, when he saw the lad tumble down the shaft, had been in a terrible fright; not that he cared a rush for the boy's life; but he knew well, that had Johnny lost it by his means, he should be turned out of his place, and be brought up before a magistrate for his conduct on a very serious charge. When, therefore, he found that the lad had only fallen into the bucket, and that he had not so much as a scratch by way of injury, it was such a relief to his fears, it did what nothing else could have done in all the world, it actually put him in a good humour with little Johnny. This was the very thing which, at the moment, the lad least desired; for there was only ONE day left to complete the month allotted for his father's ordeal; and his needle wanted but ONE thread more to complete the number of one hundred and forty.
Johnny was, therefore, in a terrible fright when, on that last day, Tregarrens, for the first time since he had been in his employ, called him a good boy; and not a sign of a cuff could he trace in his master's face or in his manner towards him. At this crisis, hoping to excite in him something like an angry mood, so that it could but procure from him one gentle kick, or if only a box on the ear, he purposely did his task of work negligently; and left two or three wheel-barrows with the ore, standing in the way of Tregarrens, so that he stumbled over one of them and nearly broke his shins. Many other little matters did he neglect in the duty of the day, with the last forlorn hope of obtaining but one more cuff; but none came. Tregarrens had not yet quite recovered from the joy occasioned by his being relieved from the fright of supposing he had killed little Johnny; so that he could not so immediately favour him with a renewal of rough kindnesses or tyranny.
In this dilemma, his fat little friend once more came to his aid; for having bound himself by the honour of a Pixy only to pass a thread through Trim's needle whenever his son took a cuff patiently; it was not in the power of such a gentleman Pixy as he was, to break his word. But he bethought him of a way to come to Johnny's relief. Whilst Tregarrens was at work in the mine, he heard himself repeatedly called by his name, accompanied by peals of laughter, and the most insulting and provoking expressions. He looked round, and saw only Johnny standing near him. He at once accused him of these insults; but Johnny ever loved the truth, and protested he had not spoken a word.
Tregarrens doubted this much; but still keeping his temper, he once more turned to his work in the rock. Whilst so engaged, peals of laughter and renewed insults met his ears, as if spoken by some one close at his elbow., there could be no mistake, for at his elbow stood little Johnny.
Now fully provoked, Tregarrens turned and gave the lad a most hearty box on the ear. Johnny, delighted to think that this blow taken patiently would procure the desired end and his father's liberty, exclaimed--" Thank you, thank you, Master Tregarrens," and fairly cut a frisk or two in the joy of his heart.
Tregarrens, thinking all this was done in mockery, and to add insult to insult, forgot his former forbearance, and in the extremity of his rage, snatched up his pickaxe, with which he was working, and would have knocked poor little Johnny on the head, had not, at that moment, a most furious hammering in the rock met his ear, from the end of the gallery. Thinking that this was an indication where the rich ore might be found, for he had toiled all that day with very little effect, his covetousness overcame even his fury; and he rushed forward to find the exact spot before the mysterious hammering could cease.
No sooner was he gone, than from out an obscure chink in the rock, near where Johnny stood, popped Pixy Gathon; with his usual joyousness of spirit, he tumbled bead over heels by way of frolic, without doing the slightest injury to a large bright bottle, shining like gold, and almost as big as himself, which he carried under his arm. At length he squatted down after his fashion, and indulging in a hearty laugh to think how he had provoked, played upon, and finally deceived Tregarrens, he bade Johnny get up in all haste and follow him.
Johnny lost not a moment in obeying his whimsical friend; and they soon came beneath the shaft, where was hanging (suspended from aloft) the empty bucket, at a considerable height from the ground on which they stood.
"Get in this moment," said the Pixy, "and I will give the signal to those above to raise the bucket."
"I cannot reach it," said Johnny, "it is so high above my head."
"Never mind that," replied little Gathon, "but catch hold of my tail; and I'll whisk you into it in a second. But first take this bottle; it is filled with gold. Take it to your father; it will make him a rich man for life. It is honestly come by; for I've dug deep in the earth to get it up for him; and I make him a present of it. But, though he will not see me, for I don't shew myself above ground, that's not the way of the hammering man, I shall be with him before you; for I will keep my word, and this day will pass the last thread through the eye of his needle. Farewell, my boy; and whenever you hear us of the Pixy race ill spoken of as mischievous elves, remember there was one little fellow among them who served you well at the hour of your need; and do us justice as good-natured folk sometimes. when we are pleased, and bestir ourselves at a pinch."
So saying, the Pixy raised his tail, Johnny seized hold of it as a ship boy would of a rope when in danger of tumbling overboard; he held fast, and in another second little Gathon whisked him into the bucket, pulled a bell, and up went Johnny from the regions below to the surface of the earth.
Need I tell what followed on that memorable morning? That the one hundred and forty threads were completed; and that Betsy Humming and Trim Trickett were set at liberty and pronounced innocent; for they had successfully undergone the ordeal. Even the innocence of the black cat was made apparent; for Master Constable, on opening the bag in the presence of the justice, found her dead! which, as she had been allowed no food, clearly proved she was not a familiar, who could have lived without it. Sir Simon de Noodle admitted the fact of innocence tested and proved, as pussy had very properly died from an empty stomach. Trim shared the contents of the bottle with Betsy Humming; his little boy was taken into the service of Sir Simon's lady as a very pretty page; and the golden bottle became a sign in Watling Street, London; where multitudes of people, and even King James himself went to satisfy their curiosity by seeing one hundred and forty threads within the eye of the tailor's needle.