THE FATE OF A LITTLE OLD WOMAN
AST Monday morning at six o'clock in the evening, as I
was sailing over the tops of the mountains in my little
boat, I met two men on horseback riding on a donkey;
and I asked them could they tell me whether the little
old woman was dead yet who was hanged a week ago Friday
for drowning herself in a shower of feathers.
"No," said they, "we cannot inform you; but if you will
go to the next town beyond the mountains and call on
Sir Gammer Vans he can tell you all about it."
"But how am I to know his house?" I asked.
"Ho! 'tis easy enough," they replied, "for 'tis a
wooden house built of brick, standing alone by itself
in the midst of sixty or seventy other houses just like
"Then nothing in the world can be easier," said I, and
I went on my way.
 This Sir Gammer Vans was a giant, and when I got
to his house he popped out of a little thumb-bottle
from behind the door.
"How d' ye do?" says he.
"Very well, I thank you," says I.
"Have some supper with me this morning," says he.
"Certainly," says I.
 So he gave me a slice of coffee and a cup of cold
beef; and there was a big dog under the table who
picked up all the crumbs.
When we had finished drinking the beef and eating the
coffee, I said, "Sir Gammer, do you happen to know
whether the little old woman is—"
But I said no more, for at that moment we heard a
distant shouting and Sir Gammer Vans interrupted me by
saying, "I wonder if that can be my bird-hunter who
catches fish for me?"
"Why not go to the door and look out of the window and
see?" I asked.
"So I would," said he, "but I have the gout in my left
foot a trifle above my right knee which makes it
painful for me to move about. Pray, go in my stead and
tell me if you can see any one just out of sight beyond
the woods that grow in the bare field where my wheat is
ripening for the harvest."
I looked as he requested. "Yes," I replied, "I see a
man running in this direction as fast as he can walk."
"Ah," said Sir Gammer Vans, "he is no doubt bringing me
Soon the man arrived and was admitted to the house. At
once he took a fine salmon from an
 empty basket
he carried, and said, "I shot that salmon with my club
as it was flying over a barn in the valley on the next
"Very good!" says Sir Gammer, "and now you may get it
ready for us to eat for breakfast this evening."
So the man put the fish in a pot of water turned bottom
upwards on the fire, and when it had boiled for three
hours he took the salmon out hard frozen and made it
into the best apple-pie I ever tasted.
We ate the pie all up that evening for breakfast. Then
I rode away in my little boat over the mountain tops,
and Sir Gammer Vans had not told me whether or not the
little old woman was dead who had been hanged for
drowning herself in a shower of feathers; for I had
forgotten to ask him.