O listen, good people in fair guildhall—
(Saxon gate, Norman tower on the Roman wall)
A King in forest green and an Abbot in gray
Rode west together on the Pilgrims' Way,
And the Abbot thought the King was a crossbowman,
And the King thought the Abbot a sacristan.
(On White Horse Hill the bright sun shone,
And blithe sang the wind by the Blowing Stone,—
O, the bridle-bells ring merrily-sweet
To the clickety-clack of the hackney's feet!)
Said the King in green to the Abbot in gray,
"Shrewd-built is youn Abbey as I hear say,
With Purbeck marble and Portland stone,
Stately and fair as Cæsar's throne."
"Not so," quo' the Abbot, and shook his wise head—
"Well-founded our cloisters, when all is said,
But the stones be rough as the mortar is thick,
And piers of rubble are faced with brick."
(The Saxon crypt and the Norman wall
Keep faith together though Kingdoms fall,—
O, the mellow chime that the great bells ring
Is wooing the folk to the one true King!)
Said the Abbot in gray to the King in green,
"Winchester Castle is fair to be seen,
And London Tower by the changeful tide
Is sure as strong as the seas are wide."
But the King shook his head and spurred on his way—
"London is loyal as I dare say,
But the Border is fighting us tooth and horn,
And the Lion must still hunt the Unicorn."
(The trumpet blared from the fortress tower,
The stern alarum clanged the hour,—
O, the wild Welsh Marches their war-song sing
To the tune that the swords on the morions ring!)
The King and the Abbot came riding down
To the market-square of Chippenham town,
Where wool-packs, wheatears, cheese-wych, flax,
Malmsey and bacon pay their tax.
Quo' the King to the Abbot, "The Crown must live
By what all England hath to give."
"Faith," quoth the Abbot, "good sign is her
Tithes are a-gathering for our clerkes' cheer."
(The song of the Mint is the song I sing,
The crown that the beggar may share with the King,
And the clink of the coin rhymes marvelous well
To castle, or chapel, or market-bell!)
RICHARD'S SILVER PENNY
HOW RICHARD SOLD A WEB OF RUSSET AND MADE THE BEST OF A BAD BARGAIN
ICHARD was going to market. He was rather a small boy to be
going on that errand, especially
as he carried on his shoulder a bundle nearly as big as
he was. But his mother, with
whom he lived in a little white-washed
timber-and-plaster hut at the edge of the common,
was too ill to go, and the Cloth Fair was not likely to
wait until she was well again.
The boy could hardly remember his father. Sebastien
Garland was a sailor, and had
gone away so long ago that there was little hope that
he would ever come back.
Ever since Richard could remember they had lived as
they did now, mainly by his
mother's weaving. They had a few sheep which were
pastured on the common, and
one of the
neigh-  bours helped them with the washing and shearing. The wool
had to be combed and sorted
and washed in long and tedious ways before it was ready
to spin, and before it was
woven it was dyes in colors that Dame Garland made from
plants she found in the
woods and fields. She had been a Highland Scotch girl,
and could weave tyrtaine,
as the people in the towns called the plaids. None of
the English people knew
anything about the different tartans that belonged to
the Scottish clans, but a woman
who could weave those could make woolen cloth of a very
pretty variety of patterns.
She worked as a dyer, too, when she could find any one
who would pay for the work,
and sometimes she did weaving for a farm-wife who had
more than her maids could do.
Richard knew every step of the work, from sheep-fleece
to loom, and wherever a boy
could help, he had been useful. He had gone to get
elder bark, which, with iron filings,
would dye black; he had seen oak bark used to dye
yellow, and he knew that
madder root was used for red, and woad for blue. His
mother could not afford to
buy turmeric, indigo, kermes, and other dyestuffs
brought from far countries or
grown in gardens. She had to depend on whatever could
be got for nothing.
The rich bright colors which dyers used in dyeing wool
for the London market
were not for her. Yellow, brown, some kinds of gree,
black, gray and dull red
she could make of common plants, mosses and the bark of
trees. The more
costly dyestuffs were made from plants which did not
grow wild in England, or
Richard was thinking about all this as he trudged along
the lane, and thinking also
that it would be much easier for them to get a living
if it were not for the rules
 Weavers' Guild. This association was one of the most
important of the English
guilds of the twelfth centrue, and had a charter, or
protecting permit, from the King,
which gave them special rights and privileges. He had
also established the Cloth
Fair at Smithfield in London, the greatest of all the
cloth-markets that were so-called.
If any man did the guild "any unright or dis-ease"
there was a fine of ten pounds, which
would mean more than fifty dollars to-day. Later he
protected the weavers still
further by ordaining that the Portgrave should burn any
cloth which had Spanish
wool mixed with the English, and the weavers themselves
allowed no work by
candle-light. This helped to keep up the standard of
the weaving, and to prevent
dishonest dealers from lowering the price by selling
inferior cloth. As early as
1100 Thomas Cole, the rich clothworker of Reading,
whose wains crowded the
highway to London, had secured a charter from Henry I.,
this King's grandfather,
and the measure of the King's own arm had been taken
for the standard
ell-measure throughout the kingdom.
Richard knew all this, because, having no one else to
talk to, his mother had
talked much with him; and the laws of Scotland and
England differed in so many
ways that she had had to find out exactly what she
might and might not do. In
some of the towns the weavers' guilds had made a rule
that no one within ten miles
who did not belong to the guild or did not own sheep
should make dyed cloth.
This was profitable to the weavers in the association,
but it was rather hard on
those who were outside, and not every one was allowed
to belong. The English
weavers were especially jealous of foreigners, and some
of their rules had been
 discourage Flemish and Florentine workmen and traders
from getting a foothold
in the market.
Richard had been born in England, and when he was old
enough to earn a living,
he intended to repay his mother for all her hard and
lonely work for him. As an
apprentice to the craft he could grow up in it and
belong to the Weavers' Guild
some day, but he thought that if there were any way to
manage it he would rather
be a trader. He felt rather excited now as he hurried
to reach the village before
the bell should ring for the opening of the market.
King's Barton was not a very big town, but on market
days it seemed very busy.
There was an irregular square in the middle of the
town, with a cross of stone in
the center, and the ringing of the bell gave notice for
the opening and closing of
the market. It was not always the same sort of market.
Once a week farmers
brought in their cattle and sheep. On another day
poultry was sold. In the season,
there were corn markets and grass markets, for the
crops of wheat and hay; and
in every English town, markets were held at certain
times for whatever was
produced in the neighborhood. Everybody knew when
these days came, and
the merchants from the larger cities came then to buy
or sell—on other days
they would have found the place half asleep. In so
small a town there was not
trade enough to support a shop for the sale of
clothing, jewelry and foreign wares;
but a traveling merchant could do very well on market
When Richard came into the square the bell had just
begun to ring, and the booths
were already set up and occupied. His mother told him
to look for Master
Elsing, a man to whom she had sometimes sold her cloth,
but he was
 not there. In his stall was a new man. There was some
trade between London
and the Hanse, or German cities, and sometimes they
sent men into the country
to buy at the fairs and markets and keep an eye on
trade. Master Elsing had
been one of these, and he had always given a fair
price. The new man smiled
at the boy with his big roll of cloth, and said, "What
have you there, my fine lad?"
Richard told him. The man looked rather doubtful.
"Let me see it, " he said.
The cloth was a soft, thick rough web with a long furry
nap. If it was made into
a cloak the person who wore it could have the nap
sheared off when it was shabby,
and wear it and shear it again until it was threadbare.
A man who did this work
was called a shearman or sherman. The strange merchant
pursed his lips and
fingered the cloth. "Common stuff," he said, "I doubt
me the dyes will not be fast
color, and it will have to be finished at my cost.
There is no profit for me in it,
but I should like to help you—I like manly boys.
What do you want for it?"
Richard named the price his mother had told him to ask.
There was an empty
feeling inside him, for he knew that unless they sold
the cloth they only had threepence
to buy anything whatever to eat, and it would be a long
time to next market day.
The merchant laughed. "You will never make a trader if
you do not learn the worth
of things, my boy," he said good-naturedly. "The cloth
is worth more than that.
I will give you sixpence over, just by way of a
Richard hesitated. He had never heard of such a thing
as anybody offering more
for a thing than was asked, and he looked incredulously
at the handful of silver
and copper that
 the merchant held out. "You had better take it and go
home," the man added.
"Think how surprised your mother will be! You can tell
her that she has a fine
young son—Conrad Waibling said so."
Richard still hesitated, and Waibling withdrew the
money. "You may ask any
one in the market, " he said impatiently, " and if you
get a better price than mine
I say no more."
"Thank you," said Richard soberly, "I will come back if
I get no other offer."
He took his cloth to the oldest of the merchants and
asked him if he would
better Waibling's price, but the man shook his head.
"More than it is worth,"
he said. "Nobody will give you that, my boy." And
from two others he got
the same reply. He went back to Waibling finally, left
the cloth and took
He had never seen a silver penny before. It had a
cross on one side and
the King's head on the other, as the common pennies
did; it was rather
tarnished, but he rubbed it on his jacket to brighten
it. He thought he
would like to have it bright and shining when he showed
it to his mother.
All the time that he was sitting on a bank by the
roadside, a little way
out of the town, eating his bread and chees, he was
polishing the silver
penny. A young man who rode by just then, with a
woman behind him, reined in his horse and looked down
amusement. "What art doing, lad?" he asked.
"It's my silver penny," said Richard. "I wanted it to
be fine and bonny to
"Ha!" said the young man. "Let's see." Richard held up
the penny. "Who gave
you that, my boy?"
 "Master Waibling the cloth-merchant," said Richard, and
he told the story of
The young man looked grave. "Barbara," he said to the
girl, "art anxious to
get home? Because I have business with this same
Waibling, and I want to
find him before he leaves the town."
The girl smiled demurely. "That's like thee, Robert, "
she said. "Ever since I
married thee,—and long before, it's been the same.
I won't hinder thee.
Leave me at Mary Lavender's and I'll have a look about
The two rode off at a brisk pace, and Richard saw them
halt at a gate not far
away, and while the girl went in the man mounted his
horse again and came
back. "Jump thee up behind me, young chap," he ordered,
"and we'll see to this.
The silver penny is not good. He probably got it in
some trade and passed it off
on the first person who would take it. Look at this
Edrupt held up a silver penny from his own purse.
"I didn't know," said Richard slowly. "I thought all
pennies were alike."
"They're not—but until the new law was passed they
anything you please. You see, this penny he gave you
is an old one. Before
the new law some time, when the King needed money very
Stephen's time maybe—they mixed the silver with
lead to make it go further.
That's why it would not shine. And look at this." He
took out another coin. "This
is true metal, but it has been clipped. Some thief
took a bag full of them probably,
clipped each one as much as he dared, passed off the
coins for good money, and
melted down the parings of silver to sell. Next time
 you take a silver penny see that it is pure bright
silver and quite round."
By this time they were in the market-place. Edrupt
dismounted, and gave
Richard the bridle to hold; then he went up to
Waibling's stall, but the merchant
was not there.
"He told me to mind it for him," said the man in the
next booth. "He went out
but now and said he would be back in a moment."
But the cloth-merchant did not come back. The web of
cloth that he had bought
from Richard was on the counter, and that was the only
important piece of goods
he had bought. Quite a little crowd gathered about by
the time they had waited
awhile. Richard wondered what it all meant. Presently
Edrupt came back, laughing.
"He has left town," he said to Richard. "He must have
seen me before I met you.
I have had dealings with him before, and he knew what I
would do if I caught
him here. Well, he has left you your cloth and the
price of the stuff, less one bad
penny. Will you sell the cloth to me? I am a
wool-merchant, not a cloth-merchant,
but I can use a cloak made of good homespun."
Richard looked up at his new friend with a face so
bright with gratitude and relief
that the young merchant laughed again. "What are you
going to do with the
penny," he asked the boy, curiously.
"I'd like to throw it in the river," said Richard in
sudden wrath. "Then it would
cheat no more poor folk."
"They say that if you drop a coin in a stream it is a
sign you will return," said Edrupt,
still laughing, "and we want neither Waibling nor his
money here again. Suppose
 it up by the market-cross for a warning to others? How
would that be?"
This was the beginning of a curious collection of coins
that might be seen, some
years later, nailed to a post in the market of King's
Barton. There were also the
names of those who had passed them, and in time, some
dishonest goods also
fastened up there for all to see. When Richard saw the
coin in its new place he
gave a sigh of relief.
"I'll be going home now," he said. "Mother's alone, and
she will be wanting me."
"Ride with me so far as Dame Lavender's," said the
"What's thy name, by the way?"
"Richard Garland. Father was a sailor, and his name
was Sebastian," said the
boy soberly. "Mother won't let me say he is drowned,
but I'm afraid he is."
"Sebastian Garland," repeated Edrupt thoughtfully.
"And so thy mother makes
her living weaving wool, does she?"
"Aye," answered Richard. "She's frae Dunfermline last,
but she was born in the
"My wife's grandmother was Scotch," said Edrupt
absently. He was trying to
remember where he had heard the name Sebastian Garland.
He set Richard
down after asking him where he lived, and took his own
way home with Barbara,
his wife of a year. He told Barbara that the town was
well rid of a rascal, but
she knew by his silence thereafter that he was thinking
out a plan.
"Some day," he spoke out that evening, "there'll be a
law in the land to punish
these dusty-footed knaves. They go from market to
market cheating poor folk,
and we have no hold on them because we cannot leave our
work. But about
 this lad Richard Garland, Barbara, I've been
a-thinking. What if we let him and
his mother live in the little cottage beyond the
sheepfold? The boy could help
in tending the sheep. If they've had sheep o' their
own they'll know how to make
'emselves useful, I dare say. And then, when these
foreign fleeces come into the
market, the dame could have dyes and so on, and we
should see what kind o'
cloth they make."
This was the first change in the fortunes of Richard
Garland and his mother.
A little more than a year later Sebastian Garland, now
captain of Master Gay's
ship, the Rose-in-June, of London, came into
port and met Robert
Edrupt. On inquiry Edrupt learned that the captain had
lost his wife and son many
years before in a town which had been swept by plague.
When he heard of the
Highland-born woman living in the Longley cottage, he
journeyed post-hast to
find her, and discovered that she was indeed his wife,
and Richard his son. By
the time that Richard was old enough to become a
trader, a court known as the
Court of Pied-poudre or Dusty Feet had been established
by the King at every
fair. Its purpose was to prevent peddlers and
wandering merchants from cheating
the folk. The common people got the name "Pie-powder
Court", but that made
it none the less powerful. King Henry also appointed
judges—to go about from place to place and judge
according to the King's
law, with the aid of the sheriffs of the neighborhood
who knew the customs of the
people. The general instructions of these courts were
that when the case was
between a rich man and a poor man, the judges were to
favor the poor man
until and unless there was a reason to do otherwise.
The Norman barons, coming
from a country in which they had bee
 used to be petty kings each in his own estate, did not
like this much, but little the
King cared for that. Merchants like young Richard
Garland found it most
convenient to have one law throughout the land for all
honest men. Remembering
his own hard boyhood, Richard never failed to be both
just and generous to a boy.