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16 Good lack ! quoth he—yet bring it me,
My leathern belt likewise,
When I do exercise.
17 Now Mistress Gilpin (careful soul !)
Had two stone bottles found,
And keep it safe and sound.
18 Each bottle had a curling ear,
Through which the belt he drew,
To make his balance true.
19 Then over all, that he might be
Equipp'd from top to toe,
He manfully did throw.
20 Now see him mounted once again
Upon his nimble steed,
With caution and good heed !
21 But, finding soon a smoother road
Beneath his well-shod feet,
Which gall’d him in his seat.
22 So, Fair and softly, John he cried,
But John he cried in vain ;
In spite of curb and rein.
23 So stooping down, as needs he must
Who cannot sit upright,
And eke with all his might.
24 His borse, who never in that sort
Had handled been before,
Did wonder more and more.
25 Away went Gilpin, neck or nought ;
Away went hat and wig ;
Of running such a rig.
26 The wind did blow, the cloak did fly,
Like streamer long and gay,
At last it flew away.
27 Then might all people well discern
The bottles he had slung ;
As hath been said or sung.
28 The dogs did bark, the children scream’d,
Up flew the windows all ;
As loud as he could bawl.
29 Away went Gilpin—who but he ?
His fame soon spread around-
'Tis for a thousand pound !
30 And still, as fast as he drew near,
'Twas wonderful to view
Their gates wide open threw.
31 And now, as he went bowing down
His reeking head full low,
Were shatter'd at a blow.
32 Down ran the wine into the road,
Most piteous to be seen,
As they had basted been.
33 But still he seem'd to carry weight,
With leathern girdle braced ;
Still dangling at his waist.
34 Thus all through merry Islington
These gambols he did play,
Of Edmonton so gay.
35 And there he threw the wash about
On both sides of the way,
Or a wild goose at play.
36 At Edmonton, his loving wife
From the balcony spied
To see how he did ride.
37 Stop, stop, John Gilpin !-Here's the house ! They all at once did
Said Gilpin—So am I !
38 But yet his horse was not a whit
Inclined to tarry there ;
Full ten miles off, at Ware.
39 So like an arrow swift he flew,
Shot by an archer strong ;
The middle of my song.
40 Away went Gilpin, out of breath,
And sore against his will,
His horse at last stood still.
41 The Callender, amazed to see
His neighbour in such trim,
And thus accosted him :
42 What news ? what news ? your tidings tell ;
Tell me you must and shall —
Or why you come at all.
43 Now Gilpin had a pleasant wit,
And loved a timely joke ;
In merry guise he spoke :
44 I came because your horse would come ;
And, if I well forebode,
They are upon the road.
45 The Callender, right glad to find
His friend in merry pin,
But to the house went in ;
46 Whence straight he came with hat and wig ;
A wig that flow'd behind,
Each comely in its kind.
47 He held them up, and, in his turn,
Thus show'd his ready wit,
They therefore needs must fit.
48 But let me scrape the dirt away
That hangs upon your face;
Be in a hungry case.
49 Says John, It is my wedding-day,
And all the world would stare,
And I should dine at Ware.
50 So turning to his horse, he said,
I am in haste to dine;
You shall go back for mine.