“But I assure you, it’s the truth,” said I earnestly.
“Peter, I seen Scotchmen afore now,” said he, with a reproachful look, “ah! that I ‘ave, many’s the time, an’ Scotchmen don’t go about wi’ tails, nor yet wi’ ’orns on their ’eads—leastways I’ve never seen one as did. An’, Peter, I know what a bagpipe is; I’ve heerd ’em often an’ often—squeak they do, yes, but a squeak bean’t a scream, Peter, nor yet a groan—no.” Having delivered himself of which, the Ancient shook his head at me again, and, turning his back, hobbled away.
When I turned to look at George, it was to find him regarding me with a very strange expression.
“Sir,” said he ponderously, “did you sleep in th’ ’aunted cottage last night?”
“Yes, though, as I have tried to explain, and unsuccessfully it seems, it is haunted by nothing more alarming than a Scots Piper.”
“Sir,” said George, in the same slow, heavy way, “I—couldn’t go a-nigh the place myself—’specially arter dark—I’d be—ah! I’d be afeard to! I did go once, and then not alone, and I ran away. Sir, you’m a better man nor me; you done what I durstn’t do. Sir, if so be as you ’m in the same mind about it—I should like to—to shake your hand.”
So there, across the anvil which was to link our lives together thenceforth, Black George and I clasped hands, looking into each other’s eyes.
“George,” said I at last, “I’ve had no breakfast.”
“Nor I!” said George.
“And I’m mightily hungry!”
“So am I,” said George.
“Then come, and let us eat,” and I turned to the door.
“Why, so we will—but not at—’The Bull’—she be theer. Come to my cottage—it be close by—that is, if you care to, sir?”
“With all my heart!” said I, “and my name is Peter.”
“What do you say to ’am and eggs—Peter?”
“Ham and eggs will be most excellent!” said I.
In which I forswear myself and am accused of possessing the “Evil eye”
Smithing is a sturdy, albeit a very black art; yet its black is a good, honest black, very easily washed off, which is more than can be said for many other trades, arts, and professions.
Yes, a fine, free, manly art is smithing, and those who labor at the forge would seem, necessarily, to reflect these virtues.
Since old Tubal Cain first taught man how to work in brass and iron, who ever heard of a sneaking, mean-spirited, cowardly blacksmith? To find such an one were as hard a matter as to discover the Fourth Dimension, methinks, or the carcass of a dead donkey.
Your true blacksmith is usually a strong man, something bowed of shoulder, perhaps; a man slow of speech, bold of eye, kindly of thought, and, lastly—simple-hearted.