860 ' WILL-O'-THE-WISPS ARE IN THE TOWN '
The man was going to shut the window, when the woman stood before him again.
' Now it's done,' she said ; ' but I shall have half the beer to brew over again to-morrow, if the weather is suitable. Well, what have you to ask me ? I've come back, for I always keep my word, and you have seven four-leaved clovers in your pocket, and one of them is a six-leaved one. That inspires respect, for that's a decoration that grows beside the high-way; but every one does not find it. What have you to ask me ? Don't stand there like a ridiculous oaf, for I must go back again directly to my bung and my cask.'
And the man asked about the Story, and inquired if the Moor-woman had met it in her journeyings.
' By the big brewing-vat! ' exclaimed the woman, ' haven't you got stories enough ? I really believe that most people have enough of them. Here are other things to take notice of, other things to look after. Even the children have gone beyond that. Give the little boy a cigar, and the little girl a new crinoline ; they like that much better. To listen to stories ! No, indeed, there are more important things to be done here, and other things to attend to ! '
* What do you mean by that ? ' asked the man, ' and what do you know of the world ? You don't see anything but frogs and will-o'-the-wisps ! '
' Yes, beware of the will-o'-the-wisps,' said the Moor-woman, ' for they're out—they're let loose—that's what we must talk about ! Come to me in the moor, where my presence is necessary, and I will tell you all about it; but you must make haste, and come while your seven four-leaved clovers, of which one has six leaves, are still fresh, and the moon stands high ! '
And the Moor-woman was gone.
It struck twelve on the church-clock, and before the last stroke had died away, the man was out in the yard, out in the garden, and stood in the meadow. The mist had vanished, and the Moor-woman stopped her brewing.
1 You've been a long time coming ! ' said the Moor-woman. ' Witches get forward faster than men, and I'm glad that I belong to the witch folk ! '