HOW JOAN LOST THE SIGHT OF HER EYE.
JOAN was housekeeper to Squire Love!!, and was celebrated for her beautiful knitting. One Saturday afternoon Joan wished to go to Penzance to buy a pair of shoes for herself, and some things for the Squire. So the weather being particularly fine, away she trudged.
Joan dearly loved a bit of gossip, and always sought for company. She knew Betty Trenance was always ready for a jaunt to be sure, everybody said Betty was a witch; but, says Joan, "Witch or no witch, she shall go; bad company is better than none."
Away went Joan to Lemorna, where Betty lived. Arrived at Betty's cottage, she peeped through the latch-hole (the finger-hole), and saw Betty rubbing some green ointment on the children's eyes. She watched till Betty Trenance had finished, and noticed that she put the salve on the inner end of the chimney stool, and covered it over with a rag.
Joan went in, and Betty was delighted, sure enough, to see her, and sent the children out of the way. But Betty couldn't walk to Penzance, she was suffering pain, and she had been taking milk and suet, and brandy arid rue, and she must have some more. So away went Betty to the othe, room for the bottle.
Joan seized the moment, and taking a very small bit of the ointment on her finger, she touched her right eye with it. Betty came with the bottle, and Joan had a think; when she looked round she was surprised to see the house swarming with small people. They were playing all sorts of pranks on the key-beams and rafters. Some were swinging on cobwebs some were riding the mice, and others were chasing them into and out ol the holes in the thatch. Joan was surprised at the sight, and thought she must have a four-leaved clover about her.
However, without stopping to take touch drink, she started alone for Penzance. She had wasted, as it was, so much time, that it was nearly dark when she reached the market.
After having made her purchases, and as she was about to leave the market, who should Joan spy but Betty's husband, Tom Trenance. There was, stealing about in the shadows, picking from the standings, shoes and stockings from one, hanks of yarn from another, pewter spoons from a third, and so on. He stuffed these things into capacious pockets, and yet no one appeared to notice Tom.
Joan went forth to him.
"Aren't ye ashamed to be here in the dark carrying on such a game?"
"Is that you, Dame Joan," says Tom; "which eye can you see me upon?"
After winking, Joan said she could see Tom plain enough with her right eye.
She had no sooner said the word than Tom Trenance pointed his finger to her eye, and she lost the sight of it from that hour.
"The work of the world" had Joan to find her way out of Penzance. She couldn't keep the road, she was always tumbling into the ditch on her blind side. When near the Fawgan, poor Joan, who was so weary that she could scarcely drag one leg after the other, prayed that she might find a quiet old horse on which she might ride home.
Her desire was instantly granted. There, by the roadside, stood an old, bony white horse, spanned with its halter.
Joan untied the halter from the legs and placed it on the head of the horse; she got on the hedge, and seated herself on the horse's back.
There she was mounted, "Gee wup, gee wisp; k'up, k'up, k'up." The horse would not budge. Busy were Joan's heels rattling against the ribs of the poor horse, and thwack, thwack went a thorn-stick over his tail, and by and by the old blind brute began to walk. Joan beat, and kicked, and k'uped, and coaxed, the horse went but little faster until it got to the top of the hill.
Then away, away, like the wind it went through Toldava Lanes, and it swelled out until the horse became as high as the tower. Over hedges and ditches, across all the corners that came into the road, on went the horse. Joan held on by the mane with both hands, and shouted, "Woa! woa! woey!" until she could shout no longer.
At length they came to Toldava Moor; the "ugly brute" took right away down towards the fowling-pool, when Joan, fearing he might plunge in and drown her, let go her hold.
The wind was blowing so strong, and the pair were going so fast against it, that Joan was lifted off, over the hindquarters of the horse, and by luck she fell soft on the rushes at the very edge of the fowling-pool.
When she looked up, Joan saw whatever she had been riding going down the "bottom" in a blaze of fire, and the devil riding after, with. lots of men, horses, and hounds, all without heads. All the marketing was lost; and in getting through the bogs, Joan had her shoes dragged from her feet. At last she got to Trove Bottoms, and seeing the Bougd (sheep-house), she clambered over the hedge as she best could; got into it, and laying herself down amongst the sheep, she soon fell fast asleep, thoroughly wearied out.
She would have slept for a week, I believe, if she had not been disturbed. But, according to custom on Sunday morning, the Squire and his boys came out to the Downs to span the sheep, and there, greatly to their surprise, they found her.
They got the miserable woman home between them. The Squire charged her with having got drunk, and said her eye had been scratched out by a furze-bush; but Joan never wandered from her story, and to the day of her death she told it to all young women, warning them never to meddle with "Fairy Salve."