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London town is fair and great,
Many a tower and steeple,
Bells ring early and ring late,
Mocking all the people.
Some they say, "Good provender,"
Some they sing, "Sweet lavender,"
Some they call, "The taverner,"
Some they cry, "The fripperer
Is lord of London Town!"
London town is great and wide,
Many a stately dwelling.
And her folk that there abide,
Are beyond all telling.
But by land or water-gate,
Aldgate, Newgate, Bishopsgate,
Ludgate, Moorgate, Cripplegate,
Bells ring early and ring late,
The bells of London Town.
BARBARA, THE LITTLE GOOSE-GIRL
HOW BARBARA SOLD GEESE IN THE CHEPE AND WHAT FORTUNE SHE FOUND THERE
NY one who happened to be traveling along the Islington
Road between two and three
o'clock in the morning, when London was a walled city,
would have seen how London
was to be fed that day. But very few were on the road
at that hour except the people
whose business it was to feed London, and to them it
was an old story. There were
men with cattle and men with sheep and men with pigs;
there were men with little,
sober, gray donkeys, not much bigger than a large dog,
trotting briskly along with
the deep baskets known as paniers hung on each side
their backs; men with paniers
or huge sacks on their own backs, partly resting on the
shoulders and partly held
by a leather strap around the forehead; men with flat,
shallow baskets on their heads,
piled three and four deep and filled with vegetables.
That was the way in which
all the butter, fruit, poultry, eggs, meat and milk for
Londoners to eat came into
medieval London. Before London Wall was fairly
finished there were laws against
anyone within the city keeping cattle or pigs on the
premises. Early every morning
the market folk started from the villages round
about,—there were women as
 well as men in the business—and by the time the
city gates opened they
It was not as exciting to Barbara Thwaite as it would
have been if she had not
known every inch of the road, but it was exciting
enough on this particular
summer morning, for in all her thirteen years she had
never been to market alone.
Goody Thwaite had been trudging over the road several
times a week for years—and
sometimes she had taken Barbara with her, but never had
she sent the child by
herself. Now she was bedridden and unless they were to
lose all their work for the
last month or more, Barbara would have to go to market
and tend their stall.
Several of the neighbours had stalls near by, and they
would look after the child,
but this was the busy season, and they could not
undertake to carry any produce
but their own. A neighbour, too old to do out-of-door
work, would tend the
mother, and with much misgiving and many cautions,
consent was given, and
Barbara set bravely forth alone.
She had her hands full in more senses than one.
Besides the basket she had
carried on her head, full of cress from the brook,
sallet herbs and under these
some early cherries, she had a basket of eggs on her
arm, and she was driving
three geese. Barbara's geese were trained to walk in
the most orderly single
file at home, but she had her doubts as to their
behavior in a strange place.
The Islington Road, however, was not the broad and
dusty highway that it is to-day,
and at first it was not very crowded. Now and again,
from one of the little wooded
lanes that led up to farmsteads, a marketman would turn
into the highway with his
load, and more and more of them appeared as they
 neared the city, so that by the time they reached the
city gate it was really a dense
throng. From roads in every direction just such crowds
were pressing toward
all the other gates, and boats laden with green stuff,
fruits, butter and cheese were
heading for the wharves on Thames-side, all bound for
Naturally it had been discovered long before that some
sort of order would have
to be observed, or there would be a frightful state of
things among the eatables.
Like most cities, London was inhabited largely by
people who had come from
smaller towns, and certain customs were common more or
less to every market-town
in England. In the smaller towns the cattle-market was
held weekly or fortnightly, so
that people not anxious to deal in cattle could avoid
the trampling herds. London's
cattle-market was not in the Chepe at all. It was in
the fields outside the walls
in the deep inbent angle which the wall made between
Aldersgate and Newgate,
where Smithfield market is now. Even in the Chepe each
kind of goods had its
own place, and once through the gates the crowd
Barbara knew exactly where to go. From Aldersgate she
turned to the left and
followed the narrow streets toward the spire of St.
Michael's Church in Cornhill,
where the poultry-dealers had their stands. Close by
was Scalding Alley, sometimes
known as the Poultry, where poultry were sold by the
score, and the fowls were
scalded after being killed, to make them ready for
cooking. Goody Thwaite's little
corner, wedged in between two bigger stalls, was not
much more than a board
with a coarse awning over it, but she had been there a
long time and her neighbours
were friends. Barbara set down
 her loads, dropped on the bench and scattered a little
grain for her geese. They had
really behaved very well.
BARBARA KNEW EXACTLY WHERE TO GO.
She was not very much to look at, this little lass
Barbara. Her grandfather had come
from the North Country, and she had black hair and eyes
like a gypsy. She was rather
silent as a rule, though she could sing like a
blackbird when no one was about.
People were likely to forget Barbara until they wanted
something done; then they
She penned in the geese with a small hurdle of wicker
so that they should not get
away; she set out the cherries and cress on one side
and the eggs on the other;
then she put the eggs in a bed of cress to set off
their whiteness; then she waited.
An apprentice boy came by and asked the price of the
cherries, whistled and
went on; a sharp-faced woman stopped and looked over
what she had, and went
on. They were all in a hurry; they were all going on
some errand of their own. The
next person who came by was an old woman with a fresh
bright face, white cap
and neat homespun gown. She too asked the price of the
cherries and shook
her head when she heard it. "How good that cress look!"
she said smiling.
Barbara held out a bunch of the cress.
"I can't give away the cherries," she said, "they are
not mine, but you're
welcome to this."
"Thank you kindly, little maid," the old woman said,
"my grandson's o'er fond
of it. Never was such a chap for sallets and the
A few minutes later a stout, rather fussy man stopped
and bought the whole
basket of egg. As he paid for them and signed to the
boy who followed to take
them, Michael the poultryman in the next stall grinned
 "Ye don't know who that was, do you?" he said. "That
was old Gamelyn Bouverel
the goldsmith. You'll be sorry if any of those eggs be
addled, my maiden."
"They're not," said Barbara. "I know where all our
hens' nests are, and Gaffer
Edmunds' too. We sell for him since he had the palsy."
Then a tall man in a sort of uniform stopped, eyed the
staff, and without asking
leave took one of the geese from the pen and strode off
with it hissing and
squawking under his arm. But Michael shook his head
soberly as Barbara sprang
up with a startled face.
"That was one o' the purveyors of my lord Fitz-Walter,"
he said. "He may pay for
the bird and he may not, but you can't refuse him.
There's one good thing—London
folk don't have to feed the King's soldiers nor his
household. Old King Henry,—rest
his soul!—settled that in the Charter he gave to
the City, and this one has kept to it.
My grand-dad used to tell how any time you might have a
great roaring archer or
man-at-arms, or more likely two or three a dozen,
quartered in your house, willy nilly, for
nobody knew how long. There goes the bell for
Prime—that ends the privilege."
Then Barbara remembered that the stewards of great
houses were allowed to visit the
market and choose what they wished until Prime (about
six o'clock) after which the
market was open to common folk. A merchant's wife
bought another goose and some
cherries, and the remaining goose was taken off her
hands by the good-natured Michael,
to make up a load of his own for a tavern-keeper. The
rest of the cherries were sold to
a young man who was very particular about the way in
which they were arranged in
the basket, and Barbara guessed that
 he was going to take them as a present to some one.
The cress had gone a
handful at a time with the other things, and she had
some of it for her own dinner,
with bread from the bakeshop and some cold meat which
Goody Collins, her
neighbor on the the other side, had sent for. She
started home in good time, and
brought her little store of money to her mother before
any one had even begun
to worry over her absence.
The next market-day Barbara set forth with a light
heart, but when she reached
her stall she found it occupied. A rough lout had set
up shop there, with dressed
poultry for sale. A-plenty had been said about it
before Barbara arrived, both
by Michael and the rough-tongued, kind-hearted
market-women. But Michael
was old and fat, and no match for the invader. Barbara
stood in dismay, a great
basket of red roses on her head, her egg-basket on the
ground, and the cherries
from their finest tree in a panier hung from her
shoulder. The merchant's wife had
asked her if she could not bring some roses for
rose-water and conserve, and if
she had to hawk them in the sun they would be fit for
nothing. The Poultry was
crowded, and unless she could have her little foothold
here she would be obliged
to go about the streets peddling, which she knew her
mother would not like at all.
"What's your trouble here?" asked a decided voice
behind her. She turned to look
up into the cool gray eyes of a masterful young fellow
with a little old woman
tucked under his arm. He was brown and lithe and had
an air of outdoor freshness,
and suddenly she recognized the old woman. It was that
first customer, and this
must be the grandson of whom she had spoken so fondly.
"This man says he has this place and means to keep it,"
 Barbara explained in a troubled but firm little voice.
"He says that
only the poultry dealers have any right here,—but
corner and she has had it a long time."
"Aye, that she has," chorused two or three voices.
"And if there was a man
belonging to them you'd see yon scamp go packing, like
a cat out o' the dairy.
'Tis a downright shame, so 'tis."
"Maybe a man that don't belong to them will do as
well," said the youth coolly.
"Back here, gammer, out of the way—and you go
stand by her, little maid.
Now then, you lummox, are you going to pick up your
goods and go, or do I
have to throw them after you?"
The surly fellow eyed the new-comer's broad shoulders
and hard-muscled arms
for a moment, picked up his poultry and began to move,
but as he loaded his donkeys
he said something under his breath which Barbara did
not hear. An instant later she
beheld him lying on his back in a none-too-clean gutter
with her defender
standing over him. He lost no time in making his way
out of the street, followed
by the laughter of the Poultry. Even the ducks, geese
and chickens joined in the
cackle of merriment.
"Sit thee down and rest," said the youth to Barbara
kindly, "We must be getting on,
grandmother. If he makes any more trouble, send some
one, or come yourself,
to our lodging—ask for Robert Edrupt at the house
of Master Hardel the
"Thank you, " said Barbara shyly. "There's plenty
cress in the brook, and I'll
bring some next market-day—and strawberries too,
but not for pay."
"Kindness breeds kindness, little maid," added the old
 woman, and Barbara reflected that it sometimes breeds
good fortune also.
This was not the end of Barbara's accquaintance with
Dame Lysbeth and her
grandson. The old dame had taken a fancy to the
dignified little maid, and the Thwaite garden proved to
have in it many fruits and
herbs which she needed in her housekeeping. It was a
very old-fashioned garden
planted a long time ago by a tavern-keeper from the
south of France, and he
had brought some pears and plums from his old home in
the south and grafted
and planted and tended them carefully. There was one
tree which had two kinds
of pears on it, one for the north side and one for the
Barbara's mother did not get any better. One day
Robert Edrupt stopped by
in the Poultry to buy a goose for dinner, to celebrate
his home-coming from
a long wool-buying journey, and the stall was empty.
"Aye," said Goody Collins, wiping her eyes, "she was a
was Allison Thwaite, and there's many who will miss
her. She died two days
ago, rest her soul."
Edrupt bought his goose of Michael and went on his way
looking sober. A plan
had occured to him, and when he talked it over with
Dame Lysbeth she heartily
agreed. A day or two later Barbara, standing in the
door of the little lonely
cottage and wondering what she should do now, saw the
two of them coming down
the lane. Dame Lysbeth opened the gate and came in,
but Robert, after a bow and
a pleasant word or two to Barbara, went on to the next
farm on an errand.
Barbara could hardly believe her ears when she heard
what the old dame had
to say. The young wool-merchant had brought his
grandmother to London to
keep house for him
 because he did not like to leave her alone in her
cottage in the west country, nor
could he live there so far from the great markets. But
neither of them liked the
city, and for the next few years he would have to be
away more than ever. He
and Master Gay had been considering a scheme for
importing foreign sheep
to see if they would improve the quality of English
wool. Before they did this
Edrupt would have to go to Spain, to Acquitane, to
Lombardy and perhaps
even further. While he was abroad he might well study
the ways of the weavers
as well as the sheep that grew the fleece. He wanted
to buy a farm he had seen,
with a tidy house on it, where Dame Lysbeth could have
the sort of home she
was used to, but with maids to do the heavy farm work.
If Barbara would come
and live there, and help see to things, she would be
very welcome indeed as long
as she chose to stay.
Dame Lysbeth had never had a daughter, and she had
often thought in the
last few months that if she had one, she would like to
have such a girl as
Barbara. The young girl, on her side, already loved
her old friend better than
she had ever loved anybody but her own mother, and so
it came about that
when the spring turned the apple orchards white about
King's Barton, three
very happy people went from London to the farm near
that village, known as
the Long Lea. It had land about it which was not good
enough for corn, but
would do very well for geese and for sheep, and there
was room for a large
garden, as well as the orchard. Even in those early
days, people who bought
an English farm usually inheirited some of the work of
the previoius owner, and
as Robert said, they would try to farm Long Lea in such
a way as to leave it
richer than they found it, and still lose no profit.
 "Don't forget to take cuttings from this garden, lass,"
he said to Barbara in his
blunt, kindly way, as they stood there together for the
last time. "There are things
here which we can make thrive in the years to come."
"I have," said Barbara staidly. She motioned to a
carefully packed and tied parcel
in a sack. "And there's a whole basket of eggs from
all our fowls."
Edrupt laughed. He liked her business-like little way.
"Did you take any red-rose cuttings?" he inquired.
"There's a still-room
where the old castle used to be, and they'd use some, I
"It's the Provence rose," Barbara said. "I took the
whole bush up and set it in a
wooden bucket. Michael won't want that."
Michael the poultryman was adding the little garden and
the stall in the Poultry
to his own business. He would cart away the tumbledown
cottage and plant
"The Provence rose, is it?" queried Edrupt
thoughtfully. "We'll have it beside our door,
Barbara, and that will make you feel more at home."
Both Barbara and the roses throve by transplanting.
When Edrupt came home from
his long foreign journey, more than a year later, it
was rose-time, and Barbara, with
a basket of roses on her arm, was marshaling a flock of
mother-ducks with their ducklings into the
poultry-yard. The house with its
tiled and thatched roofs sat in the middle of its
flocks and fruits and seemed to
welcome all who came, and Dame Lysbeth, beaming from
the window, looked
so well content that it did him good to see her.