that vile wizard. No man durst even go to steal a sheep, or a pony, or so much as a deer for dinner, lest he should be brought to book by a far bigger rogue than he was. And this went on for many years; though they prayed to God to abate it. But at last, when the wizard was getting fat and haughty upon his high stomach, a mighty deliverance came to Exmoor, and a warning, and a memory. For one day the sorcerer gazed from his window facing the southeast of the compass, and he yawned, having killed so many men that now he was weary of it.

“Ifackins,’ he cried, or some such oath, both profane and uncomely, ‘I see a man on the verge of the sky-line, going along laboriously. A pilgrim, I trow, or some such fool, with the nails of his boots inside them. Too thin to be worth eating; but I will have him for the fun of the thing; and most of those saints have got money.’

With these words he stretched forth his legs on a stool, and pointed the book of heathenish spells back upwards at the pilgrim. Now this good pilgrim was plodding along, soberly and religiously, with a pound of flints in either boot, and not an ounce of meat inside him. He felt the spell of the wicked book, but only as a horse might feel a ‘gee-wug!’ addressed to him. It was in the power of this good man, either to go on, or turn aside, and see out the wizard’s meaning. And for a moment he halted and stood, like one in two minds about a thing. Then the wizard clapped one cover to, in a jocular and insulting manner; and the sound of it came to the pilgrim’s ear, about five miles in the distance, like a great gun fired at him.

‘By our Lady,’ he cried, ‘I must see to this; although my poor feet have no skin below them. I will teach this heathen miscreant how to scoff at Glastonbury.’

Thereupon he turned his course, and ploughed along through the moors and bogs, towards the eight- sided palace. The wizard sat on his chair of comfort, and with the rankest contempt observed the holy man ploughing towards him. ‘He has something good in his wallet, I trow,’ said the black thief to himself; ‘these fellows get always the pick of the wine, and the best of a woman’s money.’ Then he cried, ‘Come in, come in, good sir,’ as he always did to every one.

‘Bad sir, I will not come in,’ said the pilgrim; ‘neither shall you come out again. Here are the bones of all you have slain; and here shall your own bones be.’

‘Hurry me not,’ cried the sorcerer; ‘that is a thing to think about. How many miles hast thou travelled this day?’

But the pilgrim was too wide awake, for if he had spoken of any number, bearing no cross upon it, the necromancer would have had him, like a ball at bando-play. Therefore he answered, as truly as need be, ‘By the grace of our Lady, nine.’

Now nine is the crossest of all cross numbers, and full to the lip of all crochets. So the wizard staggered back, and thought, and inquired again with bravery, ‘Where can you find a man and wife, one going up- hill and one going down, and not a word spoken between them?’

‘In a cucumber plant,’ said the modest saint; blushing even to think of it; and the wizard knew he was done for.

‘You have tried me with ungodly questions,’ continued the honest pilgrim, with one hand still over his eyes, as he thought of the feminine cucumber; ‘and now I will ask you a pure one. To whom of mankind have you ever done good, since God saw fit to make you?’

The wizard thought, but could quote no one; and he looked at the saint, and the saint at him, and both their hearts were trembling. ‘Can you mention only one?’ asked the saint, pointing a piece of the true cross at him, hoping he might cling to it; ‘even a little child will do; try to think of some one.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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