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The Wren
by [?]

When he reached home his mother cried out joyfully, seeing his game-bag and how it bulged. She cried out to a different tune when he showed her what it contained–clods and clumps of turf, matted over with a tiny close-growing plant that might have been any common moss for aught she knew (or recked) of the difference.

“But where are all the birds you promised me?”

He held out his gun–he had promised no birds, but that mattered nothing. His father took it to the lamp and glanced at it; put on his horn spectacles slowly, and peered at it. He was silent for a long while. Young John had turned inattentively from his mother’s reproaches, and stood watching him.

The old man swung about at length. “When did ye contrive this?” he asked, rubbing the twist of the gun-barrel with his thumb. “And the forge not heated all this day!”

“We’ll heat it to-night after supper,” said Young John.

In the Church of Porthennis, up to twenty-five years ago, there stood a screen of ironwork–a marvel of arabesques and intricate traceries, with baskets of flowers, sea-monsters, Cherubim, tying the filigree-work and looping it together in knots and centres. One panel had for subject a spider midmost in a web, to visit which smiths came hundreds of miles, from all over the country, and wondered. For it was impossible to guess how iron had ever been beaten to such thinness or drawn so ductile. But unhappily-and priceless as was the secret Young John Cara had chosen to let die with him–the art of it was frail, frail as the titlark’s song. His masterpiece, indeed, had in it the corruption of Celtic art. It could not endure its native weather, and rusted away almost to nothingness. When the late Sir Gilbert Aubyn, the famous neo-Gothic architect, was called in (1885) to restore Porthennis Church–or, as we say in Cornwall, to “restroy” it–he swept the remnants away. But the legend survives, ferro perennius.