Woman. Never fear, my tiny tawny, we can give you one, such as you never ate, I daresay, however far you may have come from.

The serpent sank into its usual resting-place, and I sat down on the stool. The woman opened a box, and took out a strange little basket or hamper, not much larger than a man’s fist, and formed of a delicate kind of matting. It was sewed at the top; but, ripping it open with a knife, she held it to me, and I saw, to my surprise, that it contained candied fruits of a dark green hue, tempting enough to one of my age. ‘There, my tiny,’ said she; ‘taste, and tell me how you like them.’

‘Very much,’ said I; ‘where did you get them?’

The beldame leered upon me for a moment, then, nodding her head thrice, with a knowing look, said, ‘Who knows better than yourself, my tawny?’

Now, I knew nothing about the matter; but I saw that these strange people had conceived a very high opinion of the abilities of their visitor, which I was nothing loth to encourage. I therefore answered boldly, ‘Ah! who indeed!’

‘Certainly,’ said the man; ‘who should know better than yourself, or so well? And now, my tiny one, let me ask you one thing - you didn’t come to do us any harm?’

‘No,’ said I, ‘I had no dislike to you; though, if you were to meddle with me - ‘

Man. Of course, my gorgeous, of course you would; and quite right too. Meddle with you! - what right have we? I should say, it would not be quite safe. I see how it is; you are one of them there; - and he bent his head towards his left shoulder.

Myself. Yes, I am one of them - for I thought he was alluding to the soldiers, - you had best mind what you are about, I can tell you.

Man. Don’t doubt we will for our own sake; Lord bless you, wifelkin, only think that we should see one of them there when we least thought about it. Well, I have heard of such things, though I never thought to see one; however, seeing is believing. Well! now you are come, and are not going to do us any mischief, I hope you will stay; you can do us plenty of good if you will.

Myself. What good could I do you?

Man. What good? plenty! Would you not bring us luck? I have heard say that one of them there always does, if it will but settle down. Stay with us, you shall have a tilted cart all to yourself if you like. We’ll make you our little God Almighty, and say our prayers to you every morning!

Myself. That would be nice; and, if you were to give me plenty of these things, I should have no objection. But what would my father say? I think he would hardly let me.

Man. Why not? he would be with you; and kindly would we treat him. Indeed, without your father you would be nothing at all.

Myself. That’s true; but I do not think he could be spared from his regiment. I have heard him say that they could do nothing without him.

Man. His regiment! What are you talking about? - what does the child mean?

Myself. What do I mean! - why, that my father is an officer-man at the barracks yonder, keeping guard over the French prisoners.

Man. Oh! then that sap is not your father?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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