Page:Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Peasantry - 1887.djvu/122
Ii8 TRADITIONAL TALES.
"'And while this woman spake, there came another woman, the wife of one who had sailed to a distant land, and had left her with two sweet children, and the name of the one was Samuel, and the name of the other John. Now John was a fair and comely child, the image of her husband ; but he was not his mother's joy, for she loved Samuel, who bore the image of one she had loved in her youth; and this made her husband sorrowful, and caused him to sail to a far country. And when she came in, she said : " So ye have dreamed a bad dream, and ye have sought this ill woman of the Rowantree-burn to give the interpretation thereof; if evil is threatened, evil is the way you seek to avert it. Now listen unto me ; ' the wind bloweth as it listeth ' the ways of God will not be changed by the wisdom of man. Provi- dence may seek thy child for a saint ; see that ye cast him not to the fiends by dealing with unholy charms and spells and with graceless hags. I have two fair children ; one of them is his father's love, the other is mine. Say, saw ye not the name of John written on one of those visionary coffins? for I hope my Samuel will long be the grace of the green earth before he goes to the dowie mools." And the eyes of the woman of the Rowantree-burn flashed with anger, and she said, " Hearken to the words of this shameless woman ! She seeks the destruction of the child of wedlock, and wishes life to the child of wantonness and sin. Lo ! I say, hearken unto her. But the evil of her ways shall be to her as sadness, and what has given her joy shall be to the world a hissing and a scorn, to her a scourge and a curse. She will lose the sweet youth John, even as she wishes, but long and full of evil shall be the life of the child she loves." And upon this these two foolish women reproached each other with works of sin and with deeds of darkness ; and, waxing wroth with their words, they tore each other's raiment and hair, and smote and bruised one another, and the clamour of their tongues increased exceedingly.
" ' Now, in the midst of all this folly there came to my fireside a man cunning in the culture of corn, and versed in the cure of those evils which afflict dumb creatures. And when he saw the strife between the woman of the Rowan- tree-burn and the mariner's wife he laughed aloud in the fulness of his joy. " Strong may the strife be, and long may it continue," said he, " for pleasant is the feud between the raven and the hooded crow, and the small birds sing when