A Stranger in the Village by Mary E.
"Margary," said her mother, "take the pitcher now,
and fetch me some fresh, cool water from the well, and I
will cook the porridge for supper."
"Yes, mother," said Margary. Then she put on her
little white dimity hood, and got the pitcher, which was
charmingly shaped, from the cupboard shelf. The cupboard
was a three-cornered one beside the chimney. The cottage
which Margary and her mother lived in, was very humble,
to be sure, but it was very pretty. Vines grew all over
it, and flowering bushes crowded close to the
diamond-paned windows. There was a little garden at one
side, with beds of pinks and violets in it, and a
straw-covered beehive, and some raspberry bushes all
yellow with fruit.
Inside the cottage, the floor was sanded with the
whitest sand; lovely old straight-backed chairs stood
about; there was an oaken table, and a spinning-wheel. A
wicker cage, with a lark in it, hung in the window.
Margary with her pitcher, tripped along to the
village well. On the way she met two of her little
mates—Rosamond and Barbara. They were flying along,
their cheeks very rosy and their eyes shining.
"O, Margary," they cried, "come up to the tavern,
quick, and see! The most beautiful coach-and-four is
drawn up there. There are lackeys in green and gold,
with cocked hats, and the coach hath a crest on the
Margary's eyes grew large too, and she turned about
with her empty pitcher and followed her friends. They
had almost reached the tavern, and were in full sight of
the coach-and-four, when some one coming toward them
caused them to draw up on one side of the way and stare
with new wonder. It was a most beautiful little boy. His
golden curls hung to his shoulders, his sweet face had
an expression at once gentle and noble, and his dress
was of the richest material. He led a little flossy
white dog by a ribbon.
After he had passed by, the three little girls looked
at each other.
"Oh!" cried Rosamond, "did you see his hat and
"And his lace Vandyke, and the fluffy white dog!"
cried Barbara. But Margary said nothing. In her heart,
she thought she had never seen any one so lovely.
Then she went on to the well with her pitcher, and
Rosamond and Barbara went home, telling every one they
met about the beautiful little stranger.
THE LITTLE STRANGER.
Margary, after she had filled her pitcher, went home
also; and was beginning to talk about the stranger to
her mother, when a shadow fell across the floor from the
doorway. Margary looked up. "There he is now!" cried she
in a joyful whisper.
The pretty boy stood there indeed, looking in
modestly and wishfully. Margary's mother arose at once
from her spinning-wheel, and came forward; she was a
very courteous woman. "Wilt thou enter, and rest
thyself," said she, "and have a cup of our porridge, and
a slice of our wheaten bread, and a bit of honeycomb?"
The little boy sniffed hungrily at the porridge which
was just beginning to boil; he hesitated a moment, but
finally thanked the good woman very softly and sweetly
Then Margary and her mother set a bottle of cowslip
wine on the table, slices of wheaten bread, and a plate
of honeycomb, a bowl of ripe raspberries, and a little
jug of yellow cream, and another little bowl with a
garland of roses around the rim, for the porridge. Just
as soon as that was cooked, the stranger sat down, and
ate a supper fit for a prince. Margary and her mother
half supposed he was one; he had such a courtly, yet
When he had eaten his fill, and his little dog had
been fed too, he offered his entertainers some gold out
of a little silk purse, but they would not take it.
So he took hold of his dog's ribbon, and went away
with many thanks. "We shall never see him again," said
"The memory of a stranger one has fed, is a pleasant
one," said her mother.
"I am glad the lark sang so beautifully all the while
he was eating," said Margary.
While they were eating their own supper, the oldest
woman in the village came in. She was one hundred and
twenty years old, and, by reason of her great age, was
considered very wise.
"Have you seen the stranger?" asked she in her piping
voice, seating herself stiffly.
"Yes," replied Margary's mother. "He hath supped with
The oldest woman twinkled her eyes behind her
iron-bowed spectacles. "Lawks!" said she. But she did
not wish to appear surprised, so she went on to say she
had met him on the way, and knew who he was.
"He's a Lindsay," said the oldest woman, with a nod
of her white-capped head. "I tried him wi' a buttercup.
I held it under his chin, and he loves butter. So he's a
Lindsay; all the Lindsays love butter. I know, for I was
nurse in the family a hundred years ago."
This, of course, was conclusive evidence. Margary and
her mother had faith in the oldest woman's opinion; and
so did all the other villagers. She told a good many
people how the little stranger was a Lindsay, before she
went to bed that night. And he really was a Lindsay,
too; though it was singular how the oldest woman divined
it with a buttercup.
The pretty child had straightway driven off in his
coach-and-four as soon as he had left Margary's mother's
cottage; he had only stopped to have some defect in the
wheels remedied. But there had been time enough for a
great excitement to be stirred up in the village.
All any one talked about the next day, was the
stranger. Every one who had seen him, had some new and
more marvelous item; till charming as the child really
was, he became, in the popular estimation, a real fairy
When Margary and the other children went to school,
with their horn-books hanging at their sides, they found
the schoolmaster greatly excited over it. He was a
verse-maker, and though he had not seen the stranger
himself, his imagination more than made amends for that.
So the scholars were not under a very strict rule that
day, for the master was busy composing a poem about the
stranger. Every now and then a line of the poem got
mixed in with the lessons.
The schoolmaster told in beautiful meters about the
stranger's rich attire, and his flowing locks of real
gold wire, his lips like rubies, and his eyes like
diamonds. He furnished the little dog with hair of real
floss silk, and called his ribbon a silver chain. Then
the coach, as it rolled along, presented such a dazzling
appearance, that several persons who inadvertently
looked at it had been blinded. It was the
schoolmaster's opinion, set forth in his poem, that this
really was a prince. One could scarcely doubt it, on
reading the poem. It is a pity it has not been
preserved, but it was destroyed—how, will transpire
Well, two days after this dainty stranger with his
coach-and-four came to the village, a little wretched
beggar-boy, leading by a dirty string a forlorn muddy
little dog, appeared on the street. He went to the
tavern first, but the host pushed him out of the door,
throwing a pewter porringer after him, which hit the
poor little dog and made it yelp. Then he spoke
pitifully to the people he met, and knocked at the
cottage doors; but every one drove him away. He met the
oldest woman, but she gathered her skirts closely around
her and hobbled by, her pointed nose up in the air, and
her cap-strings flying straight out behind.
"I prithee, granny," he called after her, "try me
with the buttercup again, and see if I be not a
"Thou a Lindsay," quoth the oldest woman
contemptuously; but she was very curious, so she turned
around and held a buttercup underneath the boy's dirty
"Bah," said the oldest woman, "a Lindsay indeed!
Butter hath no charm for thee, and the Lindsays, all
loved it. I know, for I was nurse in the family a
hundred year ago."
Then she hobbled away faster than ever, and the poor
boy kept on. Then he met the schoolmaster, who had his
new poem in a great roll in his hand. "What little
vagabond is this?" muttered he, gazing at him with
disgust. "He hath driven a fine metaphor out of my
When the boy reached the cottage where Margary and
her mother lived, the dame was sitting in the door
spinning, and the little girl was picking roses from a
bush under the window, to fill a tall china mug which
they kept on a shelf.
When Margary heard the gate click, and turning, saw
the boy, she started so that she let her pinafore full
of roses slip, and the flowers all fell out on the
ground. Then she dropped an humble curtesy; and her
mother rose and curtesied also, though she had not
recognized her guest as soon as Margary.
The poor little stranger fairly wept for joy. "Ah,
you remember me," he said betwixt smiles and tears.
Then he entered the cottage, and while Margary and
her mother got some refreshment ready for him, he told
his pitiful story.
His father was a Lindsay, and a very rich and noble
gentleman. Some little time before, he and his little
son had journeyed to London, with their coach-and-four.
Business having detained him longer than he had
anticipated, and fearing his lady might be uneasy, he
had sent his son home in advance, in the coach, with his
lackeys and attendants. Everything had gone safely till
after leaving this village. Some miles beyond, they had
been attacked by highwaymen and robbed. The servants had
either been taken prisoners or fled. The thieves had
driven off with the coach-and-four, and the poor little
boy had crawled back to the village.
Margary and her mother did all they could to comfort
him. They prepared some hot broth for him, and opened a
bottle of cowslip wine. Margary's mother gave him some
clean clothes, which had belonged to her son who had
died. The little gentleman looked funny in the little
rustic's blue smock, but he was very comfortable. They
fed the forlorn little dog too, and washed him till his
white hair looked fluffy and silky again.
When the London mail stopped in the village, the next
day, they sent a message to Lord Lindsay, and in a
week's time, he came after his son. He was a very grand
gentleman; his dress was all velvet and satin, and
blazing with jewels. How the villagers stared. They had
flatly refused to believe that this last little stranger
was the first one, and had made great fun of Margary and
her mother for being so credulous. But they had not
minded. They had given their guest a little pallet
stuffed with down, and a pillow stuffed with rose-leaves
to sleep on, and fed him with the best they had. His
father, in his gratitude, offered Margary's mother rich
rewards; but she would take nothing. The little boy
cried on parting with his kind friends, and Margary
"I prithee, pretty Margary, do not forget me," said
And she promised she never would, and gave him a
sprig of rosemary out of her garden to wear for a
The villagers were greatly mortified when they
discovered the mistake they had made. However, the
oldest woman always maintained that her not having her
spectacles on, when she met the stranger the second
time, was the reason of her not seeing that he loved
butter; and the schoolmaster gave his poetical
abstraction for an excuse. Mine host of the "Boar's
Head" fairly tore his hair, and flung the pewter
porringer, which he had thrown after the stranger and
his dog, into the well. After that he was very careful
how he turned away strangers because of their
appearance. Generally he sent for the oldest woman to
put her spectacles on, and try the buttercup test. Then,
if she said they loved butter and were Lindsays, they
were taken in and entertained royally. She generally did
say they loved butter—she was so afraid of making a
mistake the second time, herself; so the village-inn got
to be a regular refuge for beggars, and they called it
amongst themselves the "Beggars' Rest," instead of the
As for Margary, she grew up to be the pride of the
village; and in time, Lord Lindsay's son, who had always
kept the sprig of rosemary, came and married her. They
had a beautiful wedding; all of the villagers were
invited; the bridegroom did not cherish any resentment.
They danced on the green, and the Lindsay pipers played
for them. The bride wore a white damask petticoat worked
with pink roses, her pink satin shortgown was looped up
with garlands of them, and she wore a wreath of roses on
The oldest woman came to the wedding, and hobbled up
to the bridegroom with a buttercup. "Thou beest a
Lindsay," said she. "Thou lovest butter, and the
Lindsays all did. I know, for I was nurse in the family
a hundred year ago."
As for the schoolmaster, he was distressed. His wife
had taken his poem on the stranger for papers to curl
her hair on for the wedding, and he had just discovered
it. He had calculated on making a present of it to the
However, he wrote another on the wedding, of which
one verse is still extant, and we will give it:
"When Lindsay wedded Margary,
Merrily piped the pipers all.
The bride, the village-pride was she,
The groom, a gay gallant was he.
Merrily piped the pipers all.
When Lindsay wedded Margary."