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cap, having around it more than one bell, about the size of those attached to hawks, which jingled as he turned his head to one side or other; and as he seldom remained a minute in the same posture, the sound might be considered as incessant. Around the edge of this cap was a stiff bandeau of leather, cut at the top into open-work, resembling a coronet, while a prolonged bag arose from within it, and fell down on one shoulder like an oldfashioned nightcap, or a jelly-bag, or the head-gear of a modern hussar.
It was to this part of the cap that the bells were attached; which circumstance, as well as the shape of his head-dress, and his own half-crazed, half-cunning expression of countenance, sufficiently pointed him out as belonging to the race of domestic clowns or jesters, maintained in the houses of the wealthy, to help away the tedium of those lingering hours which they were obliged to spend within doors. He bore, like his companion, a scrip, attached to his belt, but had neither horn nor knife, being probably considered as belonging to a class whom it is esteemed dangerous to intrust with edge-tools. In place of these he was equipped with a sort of sword of lath, resembling that with which Harlequin operates his wonders upon the modern stage.
The outward appearance of these two men formed scarce a stronger contrast than their look and demeanor. That of the serf, or bondsman, was sad and sullen; his aspect was bent on the ground with an appearance of deep dejection, which might be almost construed into apathy, had not the fire which occasionally sparkled in his red eye manifested that there slumbered, under the appearance of sullen despondency, a sense of oppression, and a disposition to resistance.
The looks of Wamba, on the other hand, indicated, as usual with his class, a sort of vacant curiosity, and fidgety impatience of any posture of repose, together with the utmost self-satisfaction respecting his own situation, and the appearance which he made.
The dialogue which they maintained between them was carried on in Anglo-Saxon, which, as we said before, was universally spoken by the inferior classes, excepting the Norman soldiers, and the immediate personal dependants of the great feudal nobles. But to give their conversation in the original would convey but little information to the modern reader, for whose benefit we beg to offer the following translation.
A PICTURE OF ANGLO-NORMAN DAYS.
ob-strep'er-ous-ly, loudly, noisily. beech'-mast, beech-nuts.
pre-pense', aforethought. ep'i-thet, name.
sloughs (slufs), mire. Eu-mæ'us (ū-mē'us), a swineherd, wā'ver, dangle to and fro. spoken of by Homer.
weath'er-gage, position of advanmur'rain (-rin), plague.
tage with regard to the wind.
“The curse of St. Withold upon these infernal porkers !” said the swineherd, after blowing his horn obstreperously, to collect together the scattered herd of swine, which, answering his call with notes equally melodious, made, however, no haste to remove themselves from the luxurious banquet of beech-mast and acorns on which they had fattened, or to forsake the
marshy banks of the rivulet, where several of them, half plunged in mud, lay stretched at their ease, altogether regardless of the voice of their keeper.
“The curse of St. Withold upon them and upon me!” said Gurth, “If the two-legged wolf snap not up some of them ere nightfall, I am no true man. Here, Fangs ! Fangs!” he ejaculated at the top of his voice to a ragged, wolfish-looking dog, a sort of lurcher, half mastiff, half greyhound, which ran limping about as if with the purpose of seconding his master in collecting the refractory grunters; but which, in fact, from misapprehension of the swineherd's signals, ignorance of his own duty, or malice prepense, only drove them hither and thither, and increased the evil which he seemed to design to remedy.
“A devil draw the teeth of him," said Gurth, "and the mother of mischief confound the Ranger of the forest, that cuts the foreclaws off our dogs, and makes them unfit for their trade! Wamba, up and help me, an thou beest a man. Take a turn round the back o' the hill, to gain the wind on them ; and when thou'st got the weather-gage, thou mayst drive them before thee as gently as so many innocent lambs.”
“Truly,” said Wamba, without stirring from the spot, “I have consulted my legs upon this matter, and they are altogether of opinion that to carry my gay garments through these sloughs would be an act of unfriendship to my sovereign person and royal wardrobe; wherefore, Gurth, I advise thee to call off Fangs, and leave the herd to their destiny; which, whether they meet with bands of traveling soldiers, or of outlaws, or of wandering pilgrims, can be little else than to be converted into
Normans before morning, to thy no small ease and comfort."
“ The swine turned Normans to my comfort !” quoth Gurth : "expound that to me, Wamba ; for my brain is too dull, and my mind too vexed, to read riddles."
"Why, how call you those grunting brutes running about on their four legs?" demanded Wamba.
“Swine, fool, swine,” said the herd; "every fool knows that.”
“And swine is good Saxon," said the jester. “ But how call you the sow when she is flayed and drawn and quartered, and hung up by the heels like a traitor ?”
“Pork,” answered the swineherd.
“I am very glad every fool knows that, too,” said Wamba; “and pork, I think, is good Norman-French. And so, when the brute lives, and is in the charge of a Saxon slave, she goes by her Saxon name; but becomes a Norman, and is called pork, when she is carried to the castle-hall to feast among the nobles. What dost thou think of this, friend Gurth, ha?”
“It is but too true doctrine, friend Wamba, however it got into thy fool's pate."
“Nay, I can tell you more," said Wamba, in the same tone. “There is old Alderman Ox continues to hold his Saxon epithet while he is under the charge of serfs and bondsmen such as thou; but becomes Beef, a fiery French gallant, when he arrives before the worshipful jaws that are destined to consume him. Mynheer Calf, too, becomes Monsieur de Veau in the like manner. He is Saxon when he requires tendance, and takes a Norman name when he becomes matter of enjoyment."
“By St. Dunstan,” answered Gurth, “thou speakest but sad truths. Little is left to us but the air we breathe; and that appears to have been reserved with much hesitation, solely for the purpose of enabling us to endure the tasks they lay upon our shoulders. The finest and the fattest is for their board; the loveliest is for their couch ; the best and bravest supply their foreign masters with soldiers, and whiten distant lands with their bones, leaving few here who have either will or the power to protect the unfortunate Saxon. God's blessing on our master Cedric! he hath done the work of a man in standing in the gap. But Reginald Front-deBoeuf is coming down to this country in person, and we shall soon see how little Cedric's trouble will avail him. – Here, here!” he exclaimed again, raising his voice. “So ho! so ho! Well done, Fangs! thou hast them all before thee now, and bring'st them on bravely, lad.”
Gurth,” said the jester, “I know thou thinkest me a fool, or thou wouldst not be so rash in putting thy head into my mouth. One word to Reginald Front-deBouf or Philip de Malvoisin that thou hast spoken treason against the Norman, and thou art but a castaway swineherd, - thou wouldst waver on one of these trees, as a terror to all evil speakers against: dignities.”
“Dog! thou wouldst not betray me,” said Gurth, “after having led me on to speak so much at disadvan
• Betray thee !” answered the jester; “no; that were the trick of a wise man: a fool can not half so well help himself. But soft! whom have we here?” he said, listening to the trampling of several horses, which became then audible.