A Charm Take of English earth as muchAs either hand may rightly clutch.In the taking of it breathePrayer for all who lie beneath—Not the great nor well-bespoke,But the mere uncounted folkOf whose life and death is noneReport or lamentation.Lay that earth upon thy heart,And thy sickness shall depart!It shall sweeten and make wholeFevered breath and festered soul;It shall mightily restrainOver-busy hand and brain;it shall ease thy mortal strife'Gainst the immortal woe of life,Till thyself restored shall proveBy what grace the Heavens do move.Take of English flowers these—Spring's full-faced primroses,Summer's wild wide-hearted rose,Autumn's wall-flower of the close,And, thy darkness to illume,Winter's bee-thronged ivy-bloom.Seek and serve them where they bideFrom Candlemas to Christmas-tide,For these simples used arightShall restore a failing sight.These shall cleanse and purifyWebbed and inward-turning eye;These shall show thee treasure hid,Thy familiar fields amid,At thy threshold, on thy hearth,Or about thy daily path;And reveal (which is thy need)Every man a King indeed! Introduction
Once upon a time, Dan and Una, brother and sister, living in the English country, had the good fortune to meet with Puck, alias Robin Goodfellow, alias Nick o' Lincoln, alias Lob-lie-by-the-Fire, the last survivor in England of those whom mortals call Fairies. Their proper name, of course, is 'The People of the Hills'. This Puck, by means of the magic of Oak, Ash, and Thorn, gave the children powerTo see what they should see and hear what they should hear,Though it should have happened three thousand year.
The result was that from time to time, and in different places on the farm and in the fields and in the country about, they saw and talked to some rather interesting people. One of these, for instance, was a Knight of the Norman Conquest, another a young Centurion of a Roman Legion stationed in England, another a builder and decorator of King Henry VII's time; and so on and so forth; as I have tried to explain in a book called PUCK OF POOK'S HILL.
A year or so later, the children met Puck once more, and though they were then older and wiser, and wore boots regularly instead of going barefooted when they got the chance, Puck was as kind to them as ever, and introduced them to more people of the old days.
He was careful, of course, to take away their memory of their walks and conversations afterwards, but otherwise he did not interfere; and Dan and Una would find the strangest sort of persons in their gardens or woods.
In the stories that follow I am trying to tell something about those people.COLD IRON
When Dan and Una had arranged to go out before breakfast, they did not remember that it was Midsummer Morning. They only wanted to see the otter which, old Hobden said, had been fishing their brook for weeks; and early morning was the time to surprise him. As they tiptoed out of the house into the wonderful stillness, the church clock struck five....