They will not walk up Colby Glen,
The knowing ones, when it is dark,
That would disturb the Little Men
Who work till morning makes its mark.
But one there was, now to the south,
With brawny fists and puny wit,
Who swore through wide and noisy mouth
That he believed no word of it.
And so, replying to a dare,
He went, one dark and thund’ry night,
Up the glen road, lit by the glare
Of fitful lightning’s ghostly light.
The echoes of his comrades’ jeers,
The fumes of potent spirits downed,
Made a loud clamour in his ears
And sent him raging o’er the ground.
Amid the trees he found his way
And stumbled over hidden roots,
The clinging vines he tore away;
He crushed the leaves with stamping boots.
He howled derision to the skies,
Where lightning stabbed and thunder cracked,
And there before his frozen eyes
He saw it, looming, still, compact.
A hideous white and headless form
With bony arms raised high to mock,
He saw before him in the storm,
A sight to give a saint a shock.
The grisly shape bestrode his path,
Confronting him with challenge dire,
Stronger than dread his mounting wrath
Burned him with pugilistic fire.
“I’ll strike thee, fiend” he cried aloud,
“Spectre or not, I’ll lay thee low.
You’ll find in me no victim cowed.”
And struck it a resounding blow.
His fist encountered stubborn wood;
The spectre showed no pained surprise.
A blasted tree before him stood
Revealed by lightning from the skies.
He stumbled to a sheltering hedge
And nursed his broken bleeding hand.
He signed next day the temperance pledge,
And grew respected in the land.