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advice, and by that means got in their hay without damage, while most of that in the neighbouring village was spoiled. This occasioned a very great noise in the country, and so greatly provoked were the people who resided in the other parishes, that they absolutely accused her of being a witch, and sent old Gaffer Goosecap, a busy fellow in other people's concerns, to find out evidence against her. The wiseacre happened to come to her school when she was walking about with the raven on one shoulder, the pigeon on the other, the lark on her hand, and the lamb and the dog by her side; which indeed made a droll figure, and so surprised the man, that he cried out, “A witch! a witch ! a witch !”
Upon this, she, laughing, answered, “A conjurer! a conjurer !” and so they parted. But it did not end thus, for a warrant was issued out against Mrs. Margery, and she was carried to a meeting of the justices, whither all the neighbours followed her.
At the meeting, one of the justices, who knew little of life and less of the law, behaved very badly, and though nobody was able to prove anything against her, asked who she could bring to her character. “Who can you bring against my character, sir ?” says she. “There are people enough who would appear in my defence, were it necessary; but I never supposed that any one here could be so weak as to believe
such thing as a witch. If I am a witch, this is my charm, and (laying a barometer or weather-glass upon the table) it is with this,” says she, “that I have taught my neighbours to know the state of the weather.”
All the company laughed; and Sir William Dove, who
there was any
was on the bench, asked her accusers how they could be such fools as to think there was any such thing as a witch. And
returned her public thanks for the great service she had done the country. One gentleman in particular, Sir Charles Jones, had conceived such an high opinion of her that he offered her a considerable sum to take the care of his family and the education of his daughter, which, however, she refused; but this gentleman sending for her afterwards, when he had a dangerous fit of illness, she went, and behaved so prudently in the family, and so tenderly to him and his daughter, that he would not permit her to leave his house, but soon after made her proposals of marriage. She was truly sensible of the honour he intended her, but, though poor, would not consent to be made a lady till he had provided for his daughter.
All things being settled, and the day fixed, the neighbours came in crowds to see the wedding; for they were all glad that one who had been such a good little girl, and was become such a virtuous and good woman, was going to be made a lady. But just as the clergyman had opened his book, a gentleman richly dressed ran into the church, and cried, “ Stop ! stop!” This greatly alarmed the congregation, and particularly the intended bride and bridegroom, whom he first accosted, desiring to speak with them apart. After they had been talking some little time, the people were greatly surprised to see Sir Charles stand motionless, and his bride cry and faint away in the stranger's arms. This seeming grief, however, was only a prelude to a flood of joy, which immediately succeeded; for you must know that this gentleman so richly dressed was little Tommy Meanwell, Mrs. Margery's brother, who was just come from sea, where he had made a large fortune, and hearing as soon as he landed of his sister's intended wedding, had rode
post to see that a proper settlement was made on her, which he thought she was now entitled to, as he himself was both able and willing to give her an ample fortune. They soon returned to the communion-table, and were married in tears, but they were tears of joy.
Sir Charles and Lady Jones lived happily for many years. Her ladyship continued to visit the school in which she had passed so many happy days, and always gave the prizes to the best scholars with her own hands. She also gave to the parish several acres of land to be planted yearly with potatoes, for all the poor who would come and fetch them for the use of their families ; but if any took them to sell, they were deprived of that privilege ever after. And these roots were planted and raised from the rent arising from a farm which she had assigned over for that purpose. In short, she was a mother to the poor, a physician to the sick, and a friend to all who were in distress. Her life was the greatest blessing, and her death the greatest calamity that ever was felt in the neighbourhood.
AND THUS ENDED THE
HAPPY HISTORY OF