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Scarborough Fair: A Short Story - Part 3


From Part 2

We last left Katherin and Godfrey searching for a way to comply with Reginald's three impossible tasks: The task of creating a shirt with no seam nor needlework; the task of finding an acre of land between the salt water and the sea strand and the task of reaping the land with a sickle of leather. Godfrey seeks out help from his friend, John as Katherine goes to the shop of fabrics to purchase cambric, enough to make a shirt. Here's where we left off.

She studied the words closely. Then she read aloud,

"If she tells me she can't, then I'll reply
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Let me know, that at least she will try.
Then she'll be a true love of mine."

Godfrey was deep in thought. Scratching his head, he exhorted, "My dear Lady, all he asks is that you try. We will do this! Quickly go back to the shop of fabrics. Bring me two good lengths of cambric. I must go to my fellow John. I shall return soon. I'll explain then."

Godfrey was off - running up and down the streets inquiring for John. He finally met him as he was examining goats at the livestock pavilion.

"John! John! My good fellow. Lady Katherin is in need of your assistance. You must come with me!"

"Godfrey, my old friend, what is so urgent?"

"Reginald has asked for Katherine's hand in marriage. He also has asked her to perform some very difficult tasks to prove her devotion. She needs our help. I will explain as we head back to the shop of fabrics. Please, we must hurry!" The two traveled back to the shop to meet Katherine, who was waiting patiently for their return.


Katherine didn't know what Godfrey was planning, but she was excited. As Godfrey approached, she hurried to meet him and presented him with the material - two rather large pieces of cambric.

"My Lady, this will do fine," Godfrey said as he inspected the cloth. Turning to John, he continued, "Quickly John, go gather the men. Tell them to meet me at the village green at half past the hour. You must hurry!"

"My Lady, come to this table quickly and bring the cambric." Godfrey hurried to a nearby table and bench motioning for Katherine to follow. Once there, he spread the material on the table matching each piece to each piece, end to end. He measured perfectly the center and cut out a large circular opening. He then turned the top piece forming a cross. He cut smaller circles on each side of the top piece. Carefully lifting the piece from the table, he put his head through the large center hole and his arms through the smaller side holes. Facing the bottom piece the opposite direction, he placed it over his head front to back. The bottom piece lay left to right as he was now covered in cambric.

In his pride, he boasted, "There, my Lady. A complete covering from head to waist, No seams, No needlework. I am sure Reginald will approve." Now, we must hurry off to the village green. Come quickly."


By the time Katherine and Godfrey arrived at the green, a large group of men had already assembled. Godfrey motioned for the men to draw near as he spoke.

"Men of Scarborough, Lady Katherine is in need of our services. We must erect an acre of land in the midst of the sea." The crowd began to buzz. Whatever was Godfrey saying? How could this be possible?

Godfrey continued. "My good Clive, take 15 men and gather as many containers as you can from whomever you can. Bring them here - quickly. Go! Go! Go!

"My good Henry, take 15 men more. Supply us with shovels and meet us over at the empty field beyond the hill.

"John and the rest of you men, come with me."

Godfrey, John, and the others ran to the field to await the shovels and containers. Sooner than later, the containers began to arrive - some large, some small. it mattered not. Godfrey and his men began to fill them with the dirt of the field as quickly as they arrived. As the containers were filled, the men who brought the shovels carried the various containers to the sea to await further instruction while the first group gathered more containers.

In time all the containers were filled. The men met at the sea, ready for whatever Godfrey commanded. Godfrey spoke. "Men, carefully place the containers on Henry's boat, as many as it will hold."

It wasn't long until the small boat set out to sea carrying the containers along with Godfrey, John, and Henry. Traveling a mile in the cold waters, Godfrey motioned for Henry to drop anchor. One by one, the three men began to dump the dirt from the containers into the sea. At last, a small mound of earth began to lift its head above the sea's water. They continued as they watched their new island take form.

Godfrey ordered, "Hurry, men. We must get back to shore. There's more work to do."

The men on the shore were cheering as the small boat returned from its successful journey. Godfrey shouted from the boat, "Men, gather me as many plants of heather as you can. Bring them back to shore quickly."

Within hours, the tiny boat was filled with heather, and Godfrey, John, and Henry were heading back to the new island. The transplanted heather filled the new land. It was only a matter of time until it could be reaped.

Upon the men returning to shore, a shout of victory was lifted from all who were waiting. Katherine stepped through the gathering and approached Godfrey. "Godfrey, you have done a wonderful thing, but the heather still must be harvested. We will never be successful with a sickle of leather. It will never work. How shall we gather the bunches without a proper sickle? Godfrey, I fear all is lost."

Modern Day Heather Harvest

"No, my good lady. I have the answer. Go back to the shop of fabrics and bring me a fine piece of leather, the softest you can find."

Godfrey, I fear something else."

"And what is that, my lady?"


"The heather, although it is mostly grown, it won't be ready for harvest for two months more. Even if your idea is successful, I fear Reginald will not wait. He will be expecting you to return from the fair before that."

"My dear Katherine, Reginald will wait. He would wait an eternity. He would not have requested these tasks if he did not know it would take time - and it will take time but only a few weeks. Compared to a lifetime, that's not long at all. He shall wait, and you shall be happy forevermore. Now, please get you to the shop of fabrics. We must begin work on your sickle of leather."

"And you, where shall you be?"

"I shall wait right here with John. We must make a plan to produce for you this sickle of leather. I will send John on a mission to get some other materials, but you, my Lady, must bring us the leather. Bring a good piece, perhaps sheepskin. It must be strong, yet pliable. You will have the finest sickle this town has ever known. Now, you go. We must put our plan into action. Hurry. The sun will be setting soon. We cannot wait until tomorrow!"

© 2018 William Kovacic