The summer and autumn had been so wet,
That in winter the corn was growing yet,
‘Twas a piteous sight to see all around
The grain lie rotting on the ground.
Every day the starving poor
Crowded around Bishop Hatto’s door,
For he had a plentiful last-year’s store,
And all the neighbourhood could tell
His granaries were furnish’d well.
At last Bishop Hatto appointed a day
To quiet the poor without delay;
He bade them to his great Barn repair,
And they should have food for the winter there.
Rejoiced such tidings good to hear,
The poor folk flock’d from far and near;
The great barn was full as it could hold
Of women and children, and young and old.
Then when he saw it could hold no more,
Bishop Hatto he made fast the door;
And while for mercy on Christ they call,
He set fire to the Barn and burnt them all.
“I’faith ’tis an excellent bonfire!” quoth he,
“And the country is greatly obliged to me,
For ridding it in these times forlorn
Of Rats that only consume the corn.”
So then to his palace returned he,
And he sat down to supper merrily,
And he slept that night like an innocent man;
But Bishop Hatto never slept again.
In the morning as he enter’d the hall
Where his picture hung against the wall,
A sweat like death all over him came,
For the Rats had eaten it out of the frame.
As he look’d there came a man from his farm–
He had a countenance white with alarm;
“My Lord, I open’d your granaries this morn,
And the Rats had eaten all your corn.”
Another came running presently,
And he was pale as pale could be,
“Fly! my Lord Bishop, fly,” quoth he,
“Ten thousand Rats are coming this way,…
The Lord forgive you for yesterday!”
“I’ll go to my tower on the Rhine,” replied he,
“‘Tis the safest place in Germany;
The walls are high and the shores are steep,
And the stream is strong and the water deep.”
Bishop Hatto fearfully hasten’d away,
And he crost the Rhine without delay,
And reach’d his...