Once upon a time there was a small farmer living in Wendron parish, not far from the church-town. ‘Thaniel Teague was his name. This Teague happened to walk into Helston on a Furry-day, when the Mayor and townspeople dance through the streets to the Furry-tune. In the evening there was a grand ball given at the Angel Hotel, and the landlord very kindly allowed Teague–who had stopped too late as it was–to look in through the door and watch the gentry dance the Lancers.
Teague thought he had never seen anything so heavenly. What with one hindrance and another ’twas past midnight before he reached home, and then nothing would do for him but he must have his wife and six children out upon the floor in their night-clothes, practising the Grand Chain while he sang–
Out of my stony griefs
Bethel I’ll raise!
The seventh child, the babby, they set down in the middle of the floor, like a nine-pin. And the worst of it was, the poor mite twisted his eyes so, trying to follow his mammy round and round, that he grew up with a cast from that hour.
‘Tis of this child–Joby he was called–that I am going to tell you. Barring the cast, he grew up a very straight lad, and in due time began to think upon marrying. His father’s house faced south, and as it came easier to him to look north-west than any other direction, he chose a wife from Gwinear parish. His elder brothers had gone off to sea for their living, and his sister had married a mine-captain: so when the old people died, Joby took over the farm and worked it, and did very well.
Joby’s wife was very fond of him, though of course she didn’t like that cast in his looks: and in many ways ’twas inconvenient too. If the poor man ever put hand on plough to draw a straight furrow, round to the north ‘twould work as sure as a compass-needle. She consulted the doctors about it, and they did no good. Then she thought about consulting a conjurer; but being a timorous woman as well as not over-wise, she put it off for a while.
Now, there was a little fellow living over to Penryn in those times, Tommy Warne by name, that gave out he knew how to conjure. Folks believed in him more than he did himself: for, to tell truth, he was a lazy shammick, who liked most ways of getting a living better than hard work. Still, he was generally made pretty welcome at the farm-houses round, for he could turn a hand to anything and always kept the maids laughing in the kitchen. One morning he dropped in on Farmer Joby and asked for a job to earn his dinner; and Joby gave him some straw to spin for thatching. By dinner-time Tom had spun two bundles of such very large size that the farmer rubbed his chin when he looked at them.
“Why,” says he, “I always thought you a liar–I did indeed. But now I believe you can conjure, sure enough.”
As for Mrs. Joby, she was so much pleased that, though she felt certain the devil must have had a hand in it, she gave Tom an extra helping of pudding for dinner.
Some time after this, Farmer Joby missed a pair of pack-saddles. Search and ask as he might, he couldn’t find out who had stolen them, or what had become of them.
“Tommy Warne’s a clever fellow,” he said at last. “I must see if he can tell me anything.” So he walked over to Penryn on purpose.
Tommy was in his doorway smoking when Farmer Joby came down the street. “So you’m after they pack-saddles,” said he.
“Why, how ever did you know?”