Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/191

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Collectanea. 173

" Off I walked to be a spectator of the festivities of the Whitsun ale. On elbowing through the throng, the first fellow I met who was engaged as a party in the revels was an old man dressed up in the motley garb of a Tom Fool or clown, and I must say he looked his character to perfection.

"' How do, master?' cried he. ' May I ask your honour what you call that yonder?' pointing to a painted wooden horse, placed in the middle of a ring.

"'A wooden horse, to be sure,' said I. 'What should you think it was?'

" 'A shilling. Sir, if you please,' answered the clown; 'a forfeit, if you please. Sir.'

'"A forfeit ! a forfeit ! what for?' I inquired. 'I'll give you no shilling, I assure you.'

"'Bring out his lordship's gelding. Here's a gentleman who wishes for a ride ! Bring out the gelding ! His lordship's groom hey ! Tell her ladyship to be mounted ! '

"Here I was seized by four or five clumsy clod-poles, dressed up in coloured rags and ribbons. They were forthwith proceeding to place me on the wooden hobby just mentioned, behind an ugly, red- haired, freckled trull, who personated the lady of the revels. I bellowed out that I would pay the forfeit without more to do; and thus was I sconced of a shilling for not calling the cursed wooden hobby his lordship's gelding. Shortly after one of her ladyship's maids of honour came up to me, and begged me to look at the pretty bird in the cage, hanging over her ladyship's saloon, or dirty oblong tent made of tarpaulin. This was a great ugly white owl, stuffed ; and I thought I should be safe by answering that it was the very handsomest owl I had ever seen ! No sooner had I uttered this, than the fair maid of honour screamed out in treble, shriller than the squeak of a Christmas porker, or a pig driver's horn, ' A forfeit, Sir, if you please. A shilling forfeit ! ' ' Pooh ! ' said I, ' I've paid forfeits enough ! ' On which, continuing in the same strain, ' Bring out her ladyship's cook ! here's a gentleman wishes to marry her ! ' On this, all the dirty baggages, which formed the group of her ladyship's maids of honour, brought out a fat ugly wench, with a nose and cheeks reddened with brickdust, and bearing a toasting-fork in one hand and a dish-clout in the other ; and were on the point of commencing a mock cere- mony of marriage between myself and this fair syren of the