In ancient times, as story tells,
The saints would often leave their cells,
And stroll about but hide their quality,
To try good people’s hospitality.
It happened on a summer’s day,
As authors of the legend say,
A tired hermit – a saint by trade,
Taking his tour in masquerade,
Disguis’d in tattered habits, hied
To ancient town in Raydaleside,
Where in stroller’s canting strain
He begged from door to door in vain
Tried every tone might pity win,
But not a soul would let him in.
Our wandering saint, in woeful state,
Treated at this ungodly state,
Having through all the city passed,
To a small cottage came at last,
Where dwelt a good old honest pair,
Who, though they had but homely fare,
They kindly did this saint invite,
To their poor hut to pass the night,
And their hospitable sire
Bid his good dame to mend the fire,
While he from the chimney took
A flitch of bacon from the hook,
And freely from the fattest side
Cut off large slices to be fried.
Then stepp’d aside to fetch him drink,
Filled a large jug up to the brink,
And saw it fairly twice drained off,
Yet, (what was wonderful – don’t scoff)
‘Twas still replenished to the top
As if he ne’er had touch’d a drop.
The gentle pilgrim was soon aware,
And told his mission in coming there.
‘Good folks, you need not be afraid,
I’m but a saint’, the hermit said,
‘No hurt shall come to you or yours,
But for this pack of churlish boors,
Not fit to live on Christian ground,
They and their cattle shall be drown’d
While you shall prosper in the land’,
At this the saint stretched forth his hand –
‘Save this little house! Semerwater sink!
Where they gave me meat and drink’
The waters rose, the earth sank down,
The seething floods submerg’d the town,
The gen’rous couple there did thrive
And near the lake, aye, long did live,
Until at good old age they died,
And slept in peace by Semerside.