THE TINNER OF CHYANNOR [a]
THE village of Trereen, near the Logan Stone, was at one time an important market-town. Here came all the tin-streamers who worked from Penberth to the hills, and to protect the place and the valuable property which was accumulated here, Castle Trereen was built. Here came-- or rather into the cove near it came--the Tyrian merchants. They were not allowed to advance beyond the shores, lest they should discover the country from which the tin was brought. But it is not of them that we have now to tell, but of a knot of tinners who came from the low country between Chyannor and Trengothal. These were assembled round the Garrack Zans, which then stood in the centre of the market-place of Trereen. Times had been bad, and they were consulting together what they had better do. The "streams" had failed them, and they believed all the tin was worked out. Some of them had heard that there was tin in "the country a long way off." some miles beyond Market-Jew; but they had but a very dim idea of the place or of the people. One of them, who, though an old man, was more adventurous than any of his comrades, said he would travel there and see what could be done. It was then determined that Tom Trezidder should try his fortune, and the others would wait until he came home again, or sent for them to come to him. This was soon noised about, and all the women, old and young, came to say" Good-bye" to Tom. His parting with his wife was brief but bitter. He bore up well, and with a stout heart started on his adventure. Tom Trezidder arrived at length at a place not far from Goldsythney, and here he found one of the Jew merchants, who farmed the tin ground, and sold the tin at St Michael's Mount; and the Jew was very anxious to engage so experienced a "streamer" as Tom was. Tom, nothing loath, took service for a year. He was to have just enough to live on, and a share of profits at the year's end. Tom worked diligently, and plenty of tin was the result of his experienced labour. The year expired, and Tom looked for his share of the profits. The Jew contrived to put Tom off, and promised Tom great things if he would stop for another year, and persuaded him to send for some of his old comrades, clenching every argument which he employed with a small piece of advice, "Never leave an old road for a new one,"
The other tiriners were shy of venturing so far, so that two or three only could be persuaded to leave the West Country. With Tom and with his brethren the year passed by, and at the end he got no money, but only the same piece of advice, "Never leave an old road for a new one." This went on for a third year, when all of them, being naturally tired of this sort of thing, resolved to go home again.
Tom Trezidder was a favourite with his master, and was greatly esteemed for his honesty and industry by his mistress.
When they left she gave Tom a good currant cake to take home to his old woman, and told him to remember the advice, "Never leave an old road for a new one."
The tinners trudged on together until they were on the western side of Penzance. They were weary, and they found that since they had left home a new road had been made over the hills, which saved them a considerable distance--in fact it was a "short cut." On they went. "No," says Tom; "never leave an old road for a new one." They all laughed at him, and trudged on. But Tom kept in the old road along the valley round the hill. When Torn reached the other end of the "short cut" he thought he would rest a bit, and he sat down by the road-side and ate his fuggan. This his mistress had given him, that he might not break his cake until he got home.
He had not sat long when he heard a noise, and, looking up the hill, he saw his comrades, who he thought were miles in advance of him, slowly and sorrowfully descending it. They came at last to where Tom was seated, and a sad tale had they to tell, They had scarcely got into the new road when they were set upon by robbers, who took from them "all their little bit of money," and then beat them because they had no more.
Tom, you may be sure, thought the piece of advice worth something now, as it had saved his bacon.
Tom arrived home at last, and glad was the old woman to see her old man once again; so she made him some "herby tea" at once. He showed his wife the cake, and told her that all he had received for his share of profits was the piece of advice already given.
The ladies who read this story will understand how vexed was Tom's wife,--there are but few of them who would not have done as she did, that was to seize the cake from the table and fling it at her husband's head, calling him an old fool. Tom Trezidder stooped to avoid the blow. Slap against the corner of the dresser went the cake, breaking in pieces with the blow, and out on the lime-ash floor rolled a lot of gold coins.
This soon changed the aspect of things; the storm rolled back, and sunshine was once more in the cottage. The coins were all gathered up, and they found a scrap of paper, on which, when they got the priest to read it, they discovered was written an exact account of each year's profits, and Tom's share. The three years' shares had been duly hoarded for him by his master and mistress; and now this old couple found they had enough to make them comfortable for the rest of their days. Many were the prayers said by Tom and his wife for the happiness and health of the honest Jew tin merchant and his wife.
[a] See Appendix BB.