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226 THE FOLK-SONGS OF POITOU.
then mocks him for his credulity. A similar jest, with the proverb that when you hold a quail in hand you should pluck it, is very common in French folk-song, as, indeed, in that of all nations. This is one of the Poitevin versions : —
THE SHEPHERDESS AND THE GENTLEMAN.
It was a gentleman returning from the army,
Upon the road he met a shepherd maid ; He dismounted quickly, and went to sit beside her.
Cunning was the maid, and wept as if afraid.
" Have mercy, gentleman, you '11 spoil my fine, white cap,
I '11 go and put it off, and come back quite soon." *
The gallant gentleman found the time quite tedious, The maiden did not come ; he whistled a blank tune.
" John, my little John, go and tell the maiden
To come back at once, for she must be asleep."
" Good fortune it is to me that I have got away, By the grace of God I have no shame to weep."
" Little John returned to where his master waited, Whistling a blank tune beneath the willow tree,
" Alas, my master, the maid is very cunning ; She is safe at home, and sends you mockery."
The gallant ceased his tune, and swore in bitter anger,
" If again that maid I meet by any hap, Either in the highroad, or on the flowery meadow,
I will have no mercy on her fine, white cap."