178 Folk-Lore of the Wye Valley.
that the small whirlwinds which carry columns of dust along the quiet lanes are made by the fairies riding by.
My last story is of the nature of a " droll."
" Farmer Gag he lived at Ruardean, in the Forest of Dean, and he was in arrears with his rent. One day the farmer's youngest son met the landlord, who asks him where his father was. Lad says, ' He's off making a bad matter worse.' Landlord asks, 'Where is your mother ? ' Lad says, ' Baking a batch o' bread as was ate last week.' The landlord asks where his sister was. Lad says, ' In the other room crying over the fun she had at Whitsuntide.' The landlord asks where his brother was. Lad says, ' Gone a-hunting ; and all the game he kills he leaves behind, and all as he doesn't kill he brings home alive.'
" So then the landlord he says : ' Well, if you come to my house to-morrow at twelve, not before nor not after, not coming straight down the road nor across the fields, why, I'll forgive your father the six months' rent he owes.'
" The lad he went the next day, and got there just at twelve o'clock. * How did you come } ' says the land- lord ? ' Across the road,' says the lad. ' I told you you were nol to come down the road nor across the fields.' ' No more I didn't,' says the lad. ' I didn't come down the road. I rode the old sheep, and he ran from one hedge to the other across the road, all the way, and scratched my face, as you can see.'
"Then the lad he was taken into the house, for to make his explanations.
" ' Now, how was your father oft" making a bad matter worse . '
" ' The cow died, and father he was at the public spending the money as ought to have bought us a new cow,' says the lad.
" ' And your mother, who was baking a batch of bread as was ate last week .-' '