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COUNTY LEGENDS.-No. II.

BY THOMAS INGOLDSBY, ESQ.

NELL COOK!!

A TALE OF THE DARK ENTRY.'

THE KING'S SCHOLAR'S STORY. • From the “ Brick Walk” branches off to the right a long narrow vaulted passage paved with flagstones, vulgarly known by the name of the “ Dark Entry." Its eastern extremity communicates with the cloisters, crypt, and, by a private staircaso, with the interior of the Cathedral. On the west it opens into the “Green Court," forming a communication between it and the portion of the “Precinct” called the * Oaks "-A Walk round Canterbury, &c. Scene—A back parlour in Mr. Ingoldsby's house in the Precinct. A blazing fire

The Squirc is seated by it in a high-backed easy-chair, twirling his thumbs, and contemplating his list shoe.-Little Tom, the King's Scholar, on a stool opposite. -Mrs. Ingoldsby at the table, busily employed in manufacturing a cabbage-rose, -or cauliflower?-in many.coloured worsteds.—The Squire's meditations are interrupted by the French clock on the inantlepiece. - The Squire prologizeth with vivacity.

'Hark! listen, Mrs. Ingoldsby-the clock is striking nine !
Give Master Tom another cake, and a half a glass of wine,
And ring the bell for Jenny Smith, and bid her bring his coat,
And a warm bandana handkerchief to tie about his throat.

* And bid them go the nearest way, for Mr. Birch has said
That nine o'clock's the hour he'll have his boarders all in bed ;
And well we know when little boys their coming home delay,
They often seem to walk and sit uneasily next day!'-

“Now, nay, dear Uncle Ingoldsby, now send me not, I pray,
Back by that Entry dark, for that you know's the nearest way;
I dread that Entry dark with Jane alone at such an hour,
It fears me quite--it's Friday night, and then Nell Cook hath

pow'r !

* And, who's Nell Cook, thou silly child ?-and what's Nell Cook to

tbee? That thou shouldst dread at night to tread with Jane that dark en

trée ?'“Nay, list and hear, mine Uncle dear! such fearsome things they

tell Of Nelly Cook, that few may brook at night to meet with Nell!' 'It was in bluff King Harry's days, -and Monks and Friars were then, You know, dear Uncle Ingoldsby, a sort of Clergymen. They'd coarse stuff gowns, and shaven crowns, no shirts and no

cravats; And a cord was placed about their waist-they had no shovel hats!

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VOL. VII.

It was in bluff King Harry's days, while yet he went to shrift,
And long before he stamped and swore, and sent the Pope adrift ;
There lived a portly Canon then, a sage and learned clerk ;
He had, I trow, a goodly house fast by that Entry dark !
• The Canon was a portly man-of Latin and of Greek,
And learned lore, he had good store-yet health was on his cheek.
The priory fare was scant and spare, the bread was made of rye,
The beer was weak, yet he was sleek--he had a merry eye.

For though within the Priory the fare was scant and thin,
The Canon's house it stood without; he kept good cheer within ;
Unto the best he prest each guest with free and jovial look,
And Ellen Bean ruled his cuisine.—Ho called her “ Nelly Cook!"
* For soups and stews and choice ragouts Nell Cook was famous still ;
She'd make them even of old shoes, she had such wond'rous skill :
Her manchets fine were quite divine, her cakes were nicely brown'd,
Her flawns and custards were the boast of all the “Precinct” round;
* And Nelly was a comely lass, but calm and staid her air,
And earthward bent her modest look, yet was she passing fair ;
And though her gown was russet brown, their heads grave people

shook ; - They all agreed no Clerk had need of such a pretty cook. One day—'twas on a Whitsun-Eve-there came a coach and four; It passed the “Green-Court” gate, and stopped before the Canon's The travel-stain on wheel and rein bespoke a weary wayEach panting steed relaxed its speed-out stept a Lady gay. "“Now, welcome! welcome ! dearest Niece,"—the Canon then did

cry, And to his breast the Lady prest-he had a merry eye“Now, welcome! welcome! dearest Niece! in sooth thou’rt wel.

come here, 'Tis many a day since we have met-how fares my Brother dear ?”— "“Now, thanks, my loving Uncle,” that Lady gay replied ; “Gramercy for thy benison;" then “Out, alas !" she sighed; "My father dear he is not near; he seeks the Spanish Main ; He

prays thee give me shelter here till he return again !”— "“Now, welcome! welcome ! dearest Niece ; come lay thy mantle

by!" The Canon kissed her ruby lips-he had a merry eyeBut Nelly Cook askew did look—it came into her mind They were a little less than " kin,” and rather more than “kind.” • Three weeks are gone and over-full three weeks and a day, Yet still within the Canon's house doth dwell that Lady gay; On capons fine they daily dine, rich cates and sauces rare, And they quaff good store of Bourdeaux wine-80 dainty is their

fare.

door ;

* And fine upon the Virginals is that gay lady's touch,
And sweet her voice unto the lute, you'll scarce hear any such ;
But is it “O Sanctissima!" she sings in dulcet tone ?
Or“ Angels ever bright and fair ?" --Ah, no!--it's “ Bobbing Joan!"

· The Canon's house is lofty and spacious to the view :
The Canon's cell is ordered well-yet Nelly looks askew;
The Lady's bower is in the tower—yet Nelly shakes her head-
She hides the poker and the tongs in that gay Lady's bed!

'Six weeks were gone and over, full six weeks and a day,
Yet in that bed the poker and the tongs unheeded lay!
From which, I fear, it's pretty clear, that Lady rest had none;
Or, if she slept in any bed—it was not in her own.

But where that Lady passed her nights I may not well divine,
Perhaps in pious orisons at good St. Thomas' shrine ;
And for her father, far away, breathed tender vows and true-
It may be so-1 cannot say--but Nelly looked askew.

• And still, at night, by fair moon-light, when all were locked in sleep,
She'd listen at the Canon's door-she'd through the key-hole peep-
I know not what she heard or saw, but fury filled her eye-
She bought some nasty Doctor's-stuff, and she put it in a pie !

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'It was a glorious summer's eve-with beams of rosy red
The Sun went down-all Nature smiled--but Nelly shook her head !
Full softly to the balmy breeze rang out the Vesper bell;
Upon the Canon's startled ear it sounded like a knell !

"“Now here's to thee, mine Uncle ! a health I drink to thee i
Now pledge me back in Sherris sack, or a cup of Malvoisie !
The Canon sighed; but, rousing, cried, “ I answer to thy call,
And a Warden pie's a dainty dish to mortify withal!”
''Tis early dawn--the matin chime rings out for morning prayer;
And Prior and Friar is in his stall—the Canon is not there!
Nor in the small Refectory hall, nor cloistered walk is he!
All wonder-and the Sacristan says, “Lauk-a-daisey me!”

• They've searched the aisles and Baptistry-hey've searched above

aroundThe 'Sermon House '—the Audit Room'-the Canon is not found. They only find the pretty cook concocting a ragout ; They ask her where her master is—but Nelly looks askew !

“They call for crow-bars—'jemmies' is the modern name they bear : They burst through lock, and bolt, and bar—but what a sight is

there! The Canon's head lies on the bed his niece lies on the floor! They are as dead as any nail that is in any

door!

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• The livid spot is on his breast, the spot is on his back!
His portly form, no longer warm with life, is swoln and black !

The livid spot is on her cheek ; it's on her neck of snow !
And the Prior sighs, and sadly cries, “ Well! here's a pretty go!”

• All at the silent hour of night a bell is heard to toll,
A knell is rung, a requiem's sung, as for a sinful soul;
And there's a grave within the Nave, it's dark, and deep, and wide,
And they bury there a Lady fair, and a Canon by her side!
'An Uncle—so 'tis whispered now throughout the sacred fane ;
And a Niece, whose father's far away, upon the Spanish Main ;
The Sacristan, he says no word to indicate a doubt,
But he puts his thumb unto his nose, and he spreads his fingers out!
• And where doth tarry Nelly Cook, that staid and comely lass?
Ay, where? for ne'er from forth that door was Nelly known to pass.
Her coif, and gown of russet brown were lost unto the view;
And if you mentioned Nelly's name, the Monks all looked askew!

* There is a heavy paving-stone fast by the Canon's door,
Of granite grey, and it may weigh some half a ton or more ;
And it is laid deep in the shade within that entry dark,
Where sun or moon-beam never played, or e’en one starry spark.

'That heavy granite stone was moved that night, 'twas darkly said, And the mortar round its sides next morn seemed fresh, and newly

laid;

But what within the narrow vault beneath that stone doth lie,
Or if that there be vault or no, I cannot tell, not I!

'But I've been told that moan and groan, and fearful wail and shriek, Came from beneath that paving-stone for nearly half a week: For three long days and three long nights came forth those sounds

of fear; Then all was o'er-they never more fell on the listening ear.

• A hundred years were gone and past since last Nell Cook was seen, When, worn by use, that stone got loose, and they went and told the

Dean. Says the Dean, says he, “My Masons three! now haste and fix it

tight; And the Masons three peeped down to see, and they saw a fearsome

sight.

* Beneath that heavy paving-stone a shocking hole they found !
It was not more than twelve feet deep, and barely twelve feet round;
A fleshless, sapless skeleton lay in that horrid well!
But who the deuce 'twas put it there those Masons could not tell.

And near this fleshless skeleton a pitcher small did lie,
And a mouldy piece of “ kissing-crust,” as from a warden-pie !
And Doctor Jones declared the bones were female bones, and,

« Zooks! I should not be surprised," said he,“ if these were Nelly Cook's !"

It was in good Dean Bargrave's days, if I remember right, Those fleshless bones beneath the stones these Masons brought to

light; And you may well in the “ Dean's Chapelle” Dean Bargrave's por.

trait view, “Who died one night,” says old Tom Wright, “in sixteen forty-two !" And so two hundred years have passed since that these Masons

three, With curious looks, did set Nell Cook's unquiet spirit free; That granite stone had kept her down till then—so some suppose-Some spread their fingers out, and put their thumb unto their nose. • But one thing's clear—that all the year, on every Friday night, Throughout that Entry dark doth roam Nell Cook's unquiet Sprite: On Friday was that Warden-pie all by that Canon tried; On Friday died he, and that tidy Lady by his side ! "And though two hundred years have flown, Nell Cook doth still

pursue Her weary walk, and they who cross her path the deed may rue ; Her fatal breath is fell as death! the Simoom's blast is not More dire—(a wind in Africa that blows uncommon hot).

But all unlike the Simoom's blast, her breath is deadly cold,
Delivering quivering, shivering shocks unto both young and old,
And whoso in that Entry dark doth feel that fatal breath,
He ever dies within the year some sad untimely death!

get

No matter who—no matter what condition, age, or sex,
But some

get shot," and some “get drowned," and some
broken necks ;
Some “get run over” by a coach ;-and one beyond the seas
“Got" scraped to death by oyster-shells among the Caribbees!

"Those Masons three, who set her free, fell first !-it is averred That two were hanged on Tyburn tree for murdering of the third ! Charles Storey,* too, his friend who slew, had ne'er, if truth they

tell, Been gibbetted on Chartham Downs, had they not met with Nell!

• In or about the year 1780, a worthy of this name cut the throat of a journeyman paper.maker, was executed on Oaten Hill, and afterwards hung in chains near the scene of his crime. It was to this place, as being the extreme boundary of the City's jurisdiction, that the worthy Mayor with so much naïveté wished to escort Arch. bishop M** on one of his progresses, when he begged to have the honour of "attending his Grace as far as the Gallows."

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