THE CHAINED TREE
It happened in this wise, my friends,
Or so the legends run,
That the Earl of Shrewsbury
Cantered home, in 1821.
The Earl was a fine, upstanding man,
But his heart was hard as stone.
He viewed his servants much like dirt,
And worked them to the bone.
A storm was raging on that night
As he rode through Dimminsdale;
The lightning flashed, the thunder roared:
He was soaked by rain and hail.
He could scarcely see the road ahead
As he hurtled through the night.
And, suddenly, a shape loomed up!
A truly ghastly sight!
A Beggar stood there, drenched and wild,
Shouting above the din
'A penny for a Beggar, Sir!
You can see the state I'm in!'
The horse reared up, the Earl let loose
With a shout of rude surprise;
'Get out of my way, Old Beggar!
You blackguard! Damn your eyes!'
But still the Beggar stood his ground,
Though lashed by wind and rain;
'Just one penny, Master!
And I'll never ask again!
A penny for a glass of port
At the local hostelry!'
But the Earl in heartless fashion cried
'You felon! Leave me be!'
He whipped his horse into action;
It set off with one bound,
Leaving the Beggar sprawling
On the dank and muddy ground!
But, as the Earl sped fast away,
The Beggar loudly cursed;
'From this day forth, oh lordly Earl,
Prepare yourself for the worst!
In every storm, in future years,
Yon tree will lose a limb.
So look to your well-fed children,
For their futures will be grim!
I curse thee up, I curse thee down,
I curse thee low and high.
For every time a limb is lost,
One of your sons will die!'
And, sure enough, a mighty storm
Destroyed a limb from the tree
And, that very night, the eldest son,
Died, in great agony.
'Tie up the tree with chains of iron!'
The Earl was heard to cry!
'The tree must be protected
So no other child will die!'
And still one great chain can be seen
Though the tree shows signs of age,
Proof of a rich man's folly
And a Beggar's dreadful rage.
Yes, still the legend lingers on,
A dire and haunting tale,
And you'll see the chain on that fateful tree
As you pass through Dimminsdale.