“And that’s fourpence,” added the voice in the chimney.
After a thorough cleaning, the saucepan was once more filled and set on the fire, but with no better success. The milk was hopelessly spoilt, and the housewife shed tears of vexation at the waste, crying, “Never before did such a thing befall me since I kept house! Three quarts of new milk burnt for one meal!”
“And that’s sixpence,” cried the voice from the chimney. “You didn’t save the tinkering after all Mother!”
With which the Hillman himself came tumbling down the chimney, and went off laughing through the door.
But thenceforward the saucepan was as good as any other.
A Legend of a Lake.
On a certain lake there once lived a Neck, or Water Sprite, who desired, above all things, to obtain a human soul. Now when the sun shone this Neck rose up and sat upon the waves and played upon his harp. And he played so sweetly that the winds stayed to listen to him, and the sun lingered in his setting, and the moon rose before her time. And the strain was in praise of immortality.
Furthermore, out of the lake there rose a great rock, whereon dwelt an aged hermit, who by reason of his loneliness was afflicted with a spirit of melancholy; so that when the fit was on him, he was constantly tempted to throw himself into the water, for his life was burdensome to him. But one day, when this gloomy madness had driven him to the edge of the rock to cast himself down, the Neck rose at the same moment, and sitting upon a wave, began to play. And the strain was in praise of immortality. And the melody went straight to the heart of the hermit as a sunbeam goes into a dark cave, and it dispelled his gloom, and he thought all to be as well with him as before it had seemed ill. And he called to the Neck and said, “What is that which thou dost play, my son?”
And the Neck answered, “It is in praise of immortality.”
Then said the hermit, “I beg that thou wilt play frequently beneath this rock; for I am an aged and solitary man, and by reason of my loneliness, life becomes a burden to me, and I am tempted to throw it away. But by this gracious strain the evil has been dispelled. Wherefore I beg thee to come often and to play as long as is convenient. And yet I cannot offer thee any reward, for I am poor and without possessions.”
Then the Neck replied, “There are treasures below the water as above, and I desire no earthly riches. But if thou canst tell me how I may gain a human soul, I will play on till thou shalt bid me cease.”
And the hermit said, “I must consider the matter. But I will return to-morrow at this time and answer thee.”
Then the next day he returned as he had said, and the Neck was waiting impatiently on the lake, and he cried, “What news, my father?”