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to effect his retreat, he ensconces himself in a large meal-trough or girnel, which lay in a nook of the chamber; the rich feast is then whirled off the board, the rabbits, capons, partridges, wine, and dainties, shut up in the aumry or closet, the fire slackened or put out, the house swept, and the dame herself, stripping off her gay apparel, creeps to bed. Meanwhile, as might be expected, Simon gets impatient “ And on his Alison began to cry, Whilst at the last she answered crabbedlyAh who is this that knows so well my name? Go hence, she says, for Simon is fra hame, And I will harbour here no guests perfay; Therefore I pray you that ye wend your way, For at this time ye may not lodged be. Then Simon said, Fair dame, ken ye not me?”'*
The goodman is at length admitted, and, being cold and hungry, asks hastily for his supper; Alison remonstrates, and ridicules the idea of getting meat at this unseasonable hour:“ The goodwife shortly said, ye may me trow,
Here is no meat that can be drest for you.
This hospitable wish of the honest innkeeper is overheard by the friars, who are in the adjoining * Poems, vol. ii. p. 11.
+ Ibid. p. 12.
loft, and brother Robert, indignant that the lord
That all this day has travelled with great pain;
Go call them down that we may drink together.” The two friars are not slow to obey the hospitable invitation; and, after a kindly meeting, honest Simon laments that he has not a more dainty supper to set before them“Yet would I give a crown of gold for me,
. For some good meat and drink among us three.”* • My excellent friend,” said friar Robert, “ let me know only what kind of meat or drink you most long for.
I was educated in Paris, and acquired in that university some little skill in the occult sciences, which I would gladly use for your profit, and the comfort of this kind landlady, to whom we are indebted for a lodging:"“ I take on hand, an ye will counsel keep,
That I shall make you taste, before you sleep,
+ Ibid. p. 14.
Simon is delighted with the proposal, and friar Robert, at his entreaty, commences his pretended conjurations. He starts upon the floor, opens a little volume which he has in his hand, turns first to the east, next to the west, then to the aumry or pantry, and lastly strikes with his wand the trough or girnel in which friar John lay trembling. After many complicated gestures and incantations, the hooded magician starts up “ full stoure,” and declares that his work is completed:“ Now it is done, and ye shall have plenty Of bread and wine the best in this countrie; Therefore, good dame, get up thou speedily, And march ye strait unto yon aumery, Then open it, and see ye bring us syne A pair of bottles filled with Gascoign wine; They hold a gallon and more, that wot I weil; Thence also bring the main bread in a creill, A pair of rabbits, fat and piping hot, The capons also, rostet well; I wot Two pair of bonny partridges are there, And eke of plewers a most dainty pair.'
Dame Alison at once perceives that her practices have been discovered; but, proceeding to the cupboard, and disclosing each savoury dish as it is named by the necromancer, she assumes a wellacted astonishment, whilst honest Simon cannot contain either his wonder or his appetite:“ He had great wonder, and swore by the mone, That friar Robert well his debt had done; He may be called a man of great science, That hath so quickly made this purviance, And brought it here through his great subtilty, And through his knowledge in philosophy.”
* Poems, vol. ii. p. 16.
The innkeeper, however, is hungry, and has no inclination to waste time in empty compliments; so sitting down without question or debate, he does excellent justice to the capons, plovers, partridges, and washes all down with many a lusty draught of the good Gascoign wine, little careful by what strange and unlawful practices it seemed to be procured; but, on the contrary, wonderfully pleased with that substantial philosophy which had provided him so excellent a repast. Having assuaged his appetite, however, he becomes inquisitive as to the mode by which so extraordinary a feat of necromancy has been performed, and earnestly begs friar Robert to show him his familiar; but he is answered, that, were the spirit to appear in its own dreadful shape, it is as much as his senses or his life were worth: he adds, however, that it is possible to make him change himself into some less questionable form, and bids the innkeeper say what that shall be:“ Then Simon said, In likeness of a frier,
In colour white right as your self it wear,
For white colour to hurt no man will dare,” “ It may not be so," says friar Robert, " for it were a despite to our order that so lubbard a fiend should be honoured by bearing our livery; yet, since you desire it, he shall assume the likeness of a friar, but it shall be a black one." “ But since it pleases you that now are here,
Ye shall him see in likeness of a frier,
In habit black it was his kind to wear. Simon then receives directions to take his stand. at the door with a stout oak cudgel in his hand,
* Poems, vol. ii. p. 19.
and to hold himself ready to strike with all his might the moment he received his orders, but to be careful not to say a word.
The catastrophe may be readily anticipated. Friar Robert, advancing to the trough, beneath which friar John has lain ensconced during the whole of this adventure, evokes him to make his instant appearance, by the name of Hurly bass.
“Ha! how, Sir Hurlybass- I conjure thee
That thou uprise, and soon to me appear
In habit black, in likeness of a frier,
With that the friar beneath the trough that lay,
and wist na better wayn,2
stone. going past.