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there was a fine old oak tree, quite in the
maturity of its years and strength. Under
its wide-spreading branches a herd of cattle
could shelter from the summer heat, and in
its giant bole was timber enough to build a
frigate almost. When Kester rose the morning
after his visit to 'Bram Rex, he opened his
window, and his eyes fell on this tree the first
thing, as they had probably done for many a
year. This time he gazed at it fixedly, half
expecting to seethe leaves and branches shrivel
under his gaze; but he spelt his name
backwards three times, and there were no visible
effects. He went to market after breakfast
and sold his corn, and bought a new cow;
so implicit was his faith in 'Bram's charm;
and, meeting Johnny Martin,told him ruefully,
that he must leave off thinking of Katie; for
she was not permitted to be his wife.

"Why not, Master Pateman?" demanded
Johnny, to whom this sudden change was

"Because thou's bespoken, Johnny, for
another woman; and there'd be contradiction
and the mischief and all if we tried to go
agen what's ordained. I spoke to 'Bram Rex
yesterday——-it was he tell't me."

"'Bram Rex! the vagabond fortune-teller!"
exclaimed Johnny, puffing out his fat cheeks
in token of contempt, for Johnny pretended
to more light than his neighbours. "Is that
Katie's best reason, Kester Pateman?"

"Maybe not, man; she's no inkling that
I've changed my mind yet. I 'ant spoken to
her, but I maun."

"But it's not fair to jilt a poor fellow,
because 'Bram Rex tells you a pack of lies,"
remonstrated Johnny. "I'll speak to Katie
myself, with your leave, Master Pateman,
and ask her her reasons."

"Her reasons, Johnny, is that she can't
abide thee; thou's a good lad, but it goes
agen the grain with her to think o' thee.
She's a saucy lassie, and her that's bespoken
you by the stars has a mint of money."

This happy invention of Kester's was
uttered boldly as a consolation to the
forsaken swain, and he, as such, accepted it.
Johnny was as credulous as his neighbours.

In about a month after Kester Pateman's
visit to 'Bram Rex there was a wedding at
Harwood, and such a dance in Kester's barn
as had never been heard of in the countryside
before. All the defeated swains were
there. Johnny Martin and Tom Carter made
the music on two independent-minded violins,
and lost, in this opportunity of distinguishing
themselves, the sore sensation of disappointment.
Johnny behaved nobly; he presented
Katie with half a peck of apples as a wedding
present, and looked glorious all night. When
Katie came near him once he whispered,
"Katie, did you tell anybody about the
Blue Cow?"

"No, man; it was only my fun," replied
she mischievously; and Johnny drew a long
breath of relief.

What a dance that was to the tune of
Merrily danced the Quaker's wife and
merrily danced the Quaker! It seemed as if it
would never come to an end. So loud and
hilarious was the mirth at the supper after it,
that nobody heard the thunder rattling overhead,
or saw, when all separated and went
home, the lightning leaping about the hills.
But there had been certainly a terrible storm
that night, though few people at Harwood
recollect it; and the next morning, when Kester
opened his window, as his custom was, to
give the charmed gaze at the oak tree in the
meadow, behold! one side was reft entirely
of its boughs, and a black scarred trunk faced
him instead of yesterday's majestic growth.
Kester started back affrighted. Could this
be the effect of his Evil Eye?

If you ever go to Harwood, as you ride
into the village, in the meadow opposite the
blacksmith's forge you will see the blasted
trunk of the giant oak tree; and, should
curiosity prompt you to ask how it came to
be destroyed, any gossip will tell you that
one Kester Pateman withered it away by the
power of the Evil Eyehe having gazed at
it every morning, fasting, for that purpose.
They will tell you also that, from having
been one of the most unlucky of men, he
became one of the most prosperous in the
district, with grandchildren and great-grand-
children, and flocks and herds innumerable.

Alick and Katie still live in the farmhouse
down by the water-pasture, which the
Squire let them have when they were married.
By dint of talking of it, they have come
themselves to believe in the Evil Eye. 'Bram
Rex's descendants live and flourish in various
districts; though 'Bram himself, for some
mistake respecting another person's property,
was transported to a distant colony to exercise
his craft therewith what success, this
tradition sayeth not.


ALONE by my fire-side dreaming,
   Counting Life's golden sands:
Counting the years on my fingers
   Since my youth and I shook hands
Since I stood, weak and weary,
   On the shores of a troubled sea,
And my youth and its hopes went drifting
   Down the ebb-tide, dark and dree
Counting the years on my fingers
   And looking along the shore,
Back to the spot where we parted,—
  Parted for evermore,—
Many a precious footprint
   Trace I upon the sands,
Hence to the shadow'd waters
   Where my youth and I shook hands.

Wavering and slow at their outstart,
   Oft halting and turning back,
Alone in the mournful journey,
   Are the first steps on the track;