Part 7 out of 13
For some time after I had deciphered the epistle, I stood as if
rooted to the floor. I felt stunned--my last hope was gone;
presently a feeling arose in my mind--a feeling of self-reproach.
Whom had I to blame but myself for the departure of the Armenian?
Would he have ever thought of attacking the Persians had I not put
the idea into his head? he had told me in his epistle that he was
indebted to me for the idea. But for that, he might at the present
moment have been in London, increasing his fortune by his usual
methods, and I might be commencing under his auspices the
translation of the Haik Esop, with the promise, no doubt, of a
considerable remuneration for my trouble; or I might be taking a
seat opposite the Moldavian clerk, and imbibing the first rudiments
of doing business after the Armenian fashion, with the comfortable
hope of realising, in a short time, a fortune of three or four
hundred thousand pounds; but the Armenian was now gone, and
farewell to the fine hopes I had founded upon him the day before.
What was I to do? I looked wildly around, till my eyes rested on
the Moldavian clerk, who was writing away in his ledger with
particular vehemence. Not knowing well what to do or to say, I
thought I might as well ask the Moldavian clerk when the Armenian
had departed, and when he thought that he would return. It is true
it mattered little to me when he departed, seeing that he was gone,
and it was evident that he would not be back soon; but I knew not
what to do, and in pure helplessness thought I might as well ask;
so I went up to the Moldavian clerk, and asked him when the
Armenian had departed, and whether he had been gone two days or
three. Whereupon the Moldavian clerk, looking up from his ledger,
made certain signs, which I could by no means understand. I stood
astonished, but, presently recovering myself, inquired when he
considered it probable that the master would return, and whether he
thought it would be two months or--my tongue faltered--two years;
whereupon the Moldavian clerk made more signs than before, and yet
more unintelligible; as I persisted, however, he flung down his
pen, and, putting his thumb into his mouth, moved it rapidly,
causing the nail to sound against the lower jaw; whereupon I saw
that he was dumb, and hurried away, for I had always entertained a
horror of dumb people, having once heard my another say, when I was
a child, that dumb people were half demoniacs, or little better.
Kind of stupor--Peace of God--Divine hand--Farewell, child--The
fair--Massive edifice--Battered tars--Lost! lost!--Good-day,
Leaving the house of the Armenian, I strolled about for some time;
almost mechanically my feet conducted me to London Bridge, to the
booth in which stood the stall of the old apple-woman; the sound of
her voice aroused me, as I sat in a kind of stupor on the stone
bench beside her; she was inquiring what was the matter with me.
At first, I believe, I answered her very incoherently, for I
observed alarm beginning to depict itself upon her countenance.
Rousing myself, however, I in my turn put a few questions to her
upon her present condition and prospects. The old woman's
countenance cleared up instantly; she informed me that she had
never been more comfortable in her life; that her trade, her HONEST
trade--laying an emphasis on the word honest--had increased of late
wonderfully; that her health was better, and, above all, that she
felt no fear and horror 'here,' laying her hand on her breast.
On my asking her whether she still heard voices in the night, she
told me that she frequently did; but that the present were mild
voices, sweet voices, encouraging voices, very different from the
former ones; that a voice, only the night previous, had cried out
about 'the peace of God,' in particularly sweet accents; a sentence
which she remembered to have read in her early youth in the primer,
but which she had clean forgotten till the voice the night before
brought it to her recollection.
After a pause, the old woman said to me, 'I believe, dear, that it
is the blessed book you brought me which has wrought this goodly
change. How glad I am now that I can read; but oh what a
difference between the book you brought to me and the one you took
away! I believe the one you brought is written by the finger of
God, and the other by--'
'Don't abuse the book,' said I, 'it is an excellent book for those
who can understand it; it was not exactly suited to you, and
perhaps it had been better that you had never read it--and yet, who
knows? Peradventure, if you had not read that book, you would not
have been fitted for the perusal of the one which you say is
written by the finger of God'; and, pressing my hand to my head, I
fell into a deep fit of musing. 'What, after all,' thought I, 'if
there should be more order and system in the working of the moral
world than I have thought? Does there not seem in the present
instance to be something like the working of a Divine hand? I
could not conceive why this woman, better educated than her mother,
should have been, as she certainly was, a worse character than her
mother. Yet perhaps this woman may be better and happier than her
mother ever was; perhaps she is so already--perhaps this world is
not a wild, lying dream, as I have occasionally supposed it to be.'
But the thought of my own situation did not permit me to abandon
myself much longer to these musings. I started up. 'Where are you
going, child?' said the woman, anxiously. 'I scarcely know,' said
I; 'anywhere.' 'Then stay here, child,' said she; 'I have much to
say to you.' 'No,' said I, 'I shall be better moving about'; and I
was moving away, when it suddenly occurred to me that I might never
see this woman again; and turning round I offered her my hand, and
bade her good-bye. 'Farewell, child,' said the old woman, 'and God
bless you!' I then moved along the bridge until I reached the
Southwark side, and, still holding on my course, my mind again
became quickly abstracted from all surrounding objects.
At length I found myself in a street or road, with terraces on
either side, and seemingly of interminable length, leading, as it
would appear, to the south-east. I was walking at a great rate--
there were likewise a great number of people, also walking at a
great rate; also carts and carriages driving at a great rate; and
all--men, carts, and carriages--going in the selfsame direction,
namely to the south-east. I stopped for a moment and deliberated
whether or not I should proceed. What business had I in that
direction? I could not say that I had any particular business in
that direction, but what could I do were I to turn back? only walk
about well-known streets; and, if I must walk, why not continue in
the direction in which I was to see whither the road and its
terraces led? I was ere in a terra incognita, and an unknown place
had always some interest for me; moreover, I had a desire to know
whither all this crowd was going, and for what purpose. I thought
they could not be going far, as crowds seldom go far, especially at
such a rate; so I walked on more lustily than before, passing group
after group of the crowd, and almost vying in speed with some of
the carriages, especially the hackney-coaches; and, by dint of
walking at this rate, the terraces and houses becoming somewhat
less frequent as I advanced, I reached in about three-quarters of
an hour a kind of low dingy town, in the neighbourhood of the
river; the streets were swarming with people, and I concluded, from
the number of wild-beast shows, caravans, gingerbread stalls, and
the like, that a fair was being held. Now, as I had always been
partial to fairs, I felt glad that I had fallen in with the crowd
which had conducted me to the present one, and, casting away as
much as I was able all gloomy thoughts, I did my best to enter into
the diversions of the fair; staring at the wonderful
representations of animals on canvas hung up before the shows of
wild beasts, which, by the bye, are frequently found much more
worthy of admiration than the real beasts themselves; listening to
the jokes of the merry-andrews from the platforms in front of the
temporary theatres, or admiring the splendid tinsel dresses of the
performers who thronged the stages in the intervals of the
entertainments; and in this manner, occasionally gazing and
occasionally listening, I passed through the town till I came in
front of a large edifice looking full upon the majestic bosom of
It was a massive stone edifice, built in an antique style, and
black with age, with a broad esplanade between it and the river, on
which, mixed with a few people from the fair, I observed moving
about a great many individuals in quaint dresses of blue, with
strange three-cornered hats on their heads; most of them were
mutilated; this had a wooden leg--this wanted an arm; some had but
one eye; and as I gazed upon the edifice, and the singular-looking
individuals who moved before it, I guessed where I was. 'I am at--
' said I; 'these individuals are battered tars of Old England, and
this edifice, once the favourite abode of Glorious Elizabeth, is
the refuge which a grateful country has allotted to them. Here
they can rest their weary bodies; at their ease talk over the
actions in which they have been injured; and, with the tear of
enthusiasm flowing from their eyes, boast how they have trod the
deck of fame with Rodney, or Nelson, or others whose names stand
emblazoned in the naval annals of their country.'
Turning to the right, I entered a park or wood consisting of
enormous trees, occupying the foot, sides, and top of a hill which
rose behind the town; there were multitudes of people among the
trees, diverting themselves in various ways. Coming to the top of
the hill, I was present' y stopped by a lofty wall, along which I
walked, till, coming to a small gate, I passed through, and found
myself on an extensive green plain, on one side bounded in part by
the wall of the park, and on the others, in the distance, by
extensive ranges of houses; to the south-east was a lofty eminence,
partially clothed with wood. The plain exhibited an animated
scene, a kind of continuation of the fair below; there were
multitudes of people upon it, many tents, and shows; there was also
horse-racing, and much noise and shouting, the sun shining brightly
overhead. After gazing at the horse-racing for a little time,
feeling myself somewhat tired, I went up to one of the tents, and
laid myself down on the grass. There was much noise in the tent.
'Who will stand me?' said a voice with a slight tendency to lisp.
'Will you, my lord?' 'Yes,' said another voice. Then there was a
sound as of a piece of money banging on a table. 'Lost! lost!
lost!' cried several voices; and then the banging down of the
money, and the 'lost! lost! lost!' were frequently repeated; at
last the second voice exclaimed, 'I will try no more; you have
cheated me.' 'Never cheated any one in my life, my lord--all fair-
-all chance. Them that finds, wins--them that can't finds, loses.
Anyone else try? Who'll try? Will you, my lord?' and then it
appeared that some other lord tried, for I heard more money flung
down. Then again the cry of 'lost! lost!'--then again the sound of
money, and so on. Once or twice, but not more, I heard 'Won! won!'
but the predominant cry was 'Lost! lost!' At last there was a
considerable hubbub, and the words 'Cheat!' 'Rogue!' and 'You
filched away the pea!' were used freely by more voices than one, to
which the voice with the tendency to lisp replied, 'Never filched a
pea in my life; would scorn it. Always glad when folks wins; but,
as those here don't appear to be civil, not to wish to play any
more, I shall take myself off with my table; so, good-day,
Singular table--No money--Out of employ--My bonnet--We of the
thimble--Good wages--Wisely resolved--Strangest way in the world--
Fat gentleman--Not such another--First edition--Not very easy--
Won't close--Avella gorgio--Alarmed look.
Presently a man emerged from the tent, bearing before him a rather
singular table; it appeared to be of white deal, was exceedingly
small at the top, and with very long legs. At a few yards from the
entrance he paused, and looked round, as if to decide on the
direction which he should take; presently, his eye glancing on me
as I lay upon the ground, he started, and appeared for a moment
inclined to make off as quick as possible, table and all. In a
moment, however, he seemed to recover assurance, and, coming up to
the place where I was, the long legs of the table projecting before
him, he cried, 'Glad to see you here, my lord.'
'Thank you,' said I, 'it's a fine day.'
'Very fine, my lord; will your lordship play? Them that finds,
wins--them that don't finds, loses.'
'Play at what?' said I.
'Only at the thimble and pea, my lord.'
'I never heard of such a game.'
'Didn't you? Well, I'll soon teach you,' said he, placing the
table down. 'All you have to do is to put a sovereign down on my
table, and to find the pea, which I put under one of my thimbles.
If you find it,--and it is easy enough to find it,--I give you a
sovereign besides your own: for them that finds, wins.'
'And them that don't finds, loses,' said I; 'no, I don't wish to
'Why not, my lord?'
'Why, in the first place, I have no money.'
'Oh, you have no money, that of course alters the case. If you
have no money, you can't play. Well, I suppose I must be seeing
after my customers,' said he, glancing over the plain.
'Good-day,' said I.
'Good-day,' said the man slowly, but without moving, and as if in
reflection. After a moment or two, looking at me inquiringly, he
added, 'Out of employ?'
'Yes,' said I, 'out of employ.'
The man measured me with his eye as I lay on the ground. At length
he said, 'May I speak a word or two to you, my lord?'
'As many as you please,' said I.
'Then just come a little out of hearing, a little farther on the
grass, if you please, my lord.'
'Why do you call me my lord?' said I, as I arose and followed him.
'We of the thimble always calls our customers lords,' said the man;
'but I won't call you such a foolish name any more; come along.'
The man walked along the plain till he came to the side of a dry
pit, when, looking round to see that no one was nigh, he laid his
table on the grass, and, sitting down with his legs over the side
of the pit, he motioned me to do the same. 'So you are in want of
employ?' said he, after I had sat down beside him.
'Yes,' said I, 'I am very much in want of employ.'
'I think I can find you some.'
'What kind?' said I.
'Why,' said the man, 'I think you would do to be my bonnet.'
'Bonnet!' said I, 'what is that?'
'Don't you know? However, no wonder, as you had never heard of the
thimble and pea game, but I will tell you. We of the game are very
much exposed; folks when they have lost their money, as those who
play with us mostly do, sometimes uses rough language, calls us
cheats, and sometimes knocks our hats over our eyes; and what's
more, with a kick under our table, cause the top deals to fly off;
this is the third table I have used this day, the other two being
broken by uncivil customers: so we of the game generally like to
have gentlemen go about with us to take our part, and encourage us,
though pretending to know nothing about us; for example, when the
customer says, "I'm cheated," the bonnet must say, "No, you ain't,
it is all right"; or, when my hat is knocked over my eyes, the
bonnet must square, and say, "I never saw the man before in all my
life, but I won't see him ill-used"; and so, when they kicks at the
table, the bonnet must say, "I won't see the table ill-used, such a
nice table, too; besides, I want to play myself"; and then I would
say to the bonnet, "Thank you, my lord, them that finds, wins"; and
then the bonnet plays, and I lets the bonnet win.'
'In a word,' said I, 'the bonnet means the man who covers you, even
as the real bonnet covers the head.'
'I just so,' said the man; 'I see you are awake, and would soon
make a first-rate bonnet.'
'Bonnet,' said I, musingly; 'bonnet; it is metaphorical.'
'Is it?' said the man.
'Yes,' said I, 'like the cant words--'
'Bonnet is cant,' said the man; 'we of the thimble, as well as all
cly-fakers and the like, understand cant, as, of course, must every
bonnet; so, if you are employed by me, you had better learn it as
soon as you can, that we may discourse together without being
understood by every one. Besides covering his principal, a bonnet
must have his eyes about him, for the trade of the pea, though a
strictly honest one, is not altogether lawful; so it is the duty of
the bonnet, if he sees the constable coming, to say, The gorgio's
'That is not cant,' said I, 'that is the language of the Rommany
'Do you know those people?' said the man.
'Perfectly,' said I, 'and their language too.'
'I wish I did,' said the man; 'I would give ten pounds and more to
know the language of the Rommany Chals. There's some of it in the
language of the pea and thimble; how it came there I don't know,
but so it is. I wish I knew it, but it is difficult. You'll make
a capital bonnet; shall we close?'
'What would the wages be?' I demanded.
'Why, to a first-rate bonnet, as I think you would prove, I could
afford to give from forty to fifty shillings a week.'
'Is it possible?' said I.
'Good wages, ain't they?' said the man.
'First-rate,' said I; 'bonneting is more profitable than
'Anan?' said the man.
'Or translating; I don't think the Armenian would have paid me at
that rate for translating his Esop.'
'Who is he?' said the man.
'No, I know what that is, Esop's cant for a hunchback; but
'You should know,' said I.
'Never saw the man in all my life.'
'Yes, you have,' said I, 'and felt him too; don't you remember the
individual from whom you took the pocket-book?'
'Oh, that was he; well, the less said about that matter the better;
I have left off that trade, and taken to this, which is a much
better. Between ourselves, I am not sorry that I did not carry off
that pocket-book; if I had, it might have encouraged me in the
trade, in which had I remained, I might have been lagged, sent
abroad, as I had been already imprisoned; so I determined to leave
it off at all hazards, though I was hard up, not having a penny in
'And wisely resolved,' said I; 'it was a bad and dangerous trade, I
wonder you should ever have embraced it.'
'It is all very well talking,' said the man, 'but there is a reason
for everything; I am the son of a Jewess, by a military officer'--
and then the man told me his story. I shall not repeat the man's
story, it was a poor one, a vile one; at last he observed, 'So that
affair which you know of determined me to leave the filching trade,
and take up with a more honest and safe one; so at last I thought
of the pea and thimble, but I wanted funds, especially to pay for
lessons at the hands of a master, for I knew little about it.'
'Well,' said I, 'how did you get over that difficulty?'
'Why,' said the man, 'I thought I should never have got over it.
What funds could I raise? I had nothing to sell; the few clothes I
had I wanted, for we of the thimble must always appear decent, or
nobody would come near us. I was at my wits' ends; at last I got
over my difficulty in the strangest way in the world.'
'What was that?'
'By an old thing which I had picked up some time before--a book.'
'A book?' said I.
'Yes, which I had taken out of your lordship's pocket one day as
you were walking the streets in a great hurry. I thought it was a
pocket-book at first, full of bank-notes, perhaps,' continued he,
laughing. 'It was well for me, however, that it was not, for I
should have soon spent the notes; as it was, I had flung the old
thing down with an oath, as soon as I brought it home. When I was
so hard up, however, after the affair with that friend of yours, I
took it up one day, and thought I might make something by it to
support myself a day with. Chance or something else led me into a
grand shop; there was a man there who seemed to be the master,
talking to a jolly, portly old gentleman, who seemed to be a
country squire. Well, I went up to the first, and offered it for
sale; he took the book, opened it at the title-page, and then all
of a sudden his eyes glistened, and he showed it to the fat, jolly
gentleman, and his eyes glistened too, and I heard him say "How
singular!" and then the two talked together in a speech I didn't
understand--I rather thought it was French, at any rate it wasn't
cant; and presently the first asked me what I would take for the
book. Now I am not altogether a fool, nor am I blind, and I had
narrowly marked all that passed, and it came into my head that now
was the time for making a man of myself, at any rate I could lose
nothing by a little confidence; so I looked the man boldly in the
face, and said, "I will have five guineas for that book, there
ain't such another in the whole world." "Nonsense," said the first
man, "there are plenty of them, there have been nearly fifty
editions, to my knowledge; I will give you five shillings." "No,"
said I, "I'll not take it, for I don't like to be cheated, so give
me my book again"; and I attempted to take it away from the fat
gentleman's hand. "Stop," said the younger man; "are you sure that
you won't take less?" "Not a farthing," said I; which was not
altogether true, but I said so. "Well," said the fat gentleman, "I
will give you what you ask"; and sure enough he presently gave me
the money; so I made a bow, and was leaving the shop, when it came
into my head that there was something odd in all this, and, as I
had the money in my pocket, I turned back, and, making another bow,
said, "May I be so bold as to ask why you gave me all this money
for that 'ere dirty book? When I came into the shop, I should have
been glad to get a shilling for it; but I saw you wanted it, and
asked five guineas." Then they looked at one another, and smiled,
and shrugged up their shoulders. Then the first man, looking at
me, said, "Friend, you have been a little too sharp for us;
however, we can afford to forgive you, as my friend here has long
been in quest of this particular book; there are plenty of
editions, as I told you, and a common copy is not worth five
shillings; but this is a first edition, and a copy of the first
edition is worth its weight in gold."'
'So, after all, they outwitted you,' I observed.
'Clearly,' said the man; 'I might have got double the price, had I
known the value; but I don't care, much good may it do them, it has
done me plenty. By means of it I have got into an honest,
respectable trade, in which there's little danger and plenty of
profit, and got out of one which would have got me lagged, sooner
'But,' said I, 'you ought to remember that the thing was not yours;
you took it from me, who had been requested by a poor old apple-
woman to exchange it for a Bible.'
'Well,' said the man, 'did she ever get her Bible?'
'Yes,' said I, 'she got her Bible.'
'Then she has no cause to complain; and, as for you, chance or
something else has sent you to me, that I may make you reasonable
amends for any loss you may have had. Here am I ready to make you
my bonnet, with forty or fifty shillings a week, which you say
yourself are capital wages.'
'I find no fault with the wages,' said I, 'but I don't like the
'Not like bonneting,' said the man; 'ah, I see, you would like to
be principal; well, a time may come--those long white fingers of
yours would just serve for the business.'
'Is it a difficult one?' I demanded.
'Why, it is not very easy: two things are needful--natural talent,
and constant practice; but I'll show you a point or two connected
with the game'; and, placing his table between his knees as he sat
over the side of the pit, he produced three thimbles, and a small
brown pellet, something resembling a pea. He moved the thimble and
pellet about, now placing it to all appearance under one, and now
under another; 'Under which is it now?' he said at last. 'Under
that,' said I, pointing to the lowermost of the thimbles, which, as
they stood, formed a kind of triangle. 'No,' said he, 'it is not,
but lift it up'; and, when I lifted up the thimble, the pellet, in
truth, was not under it. 'It was under none of them,' said he, 'it
was pressed by my little finger against my palm'; and then he
showed me how he did the trick, and asked me if the game was not a
funny one; and, on my answering in the affirmative, he said, 'I am
glad you like it; come along and let us win some money.'
Thereupon, getting up, he placed the table before him, and was
moving away; observing, however, that I did not stir, he asked me
what I was staying for. 'Merely for my own pleasure,' said I; 'I
like sitting here very well.' 'Then you won't close?' said the
man. 'By no means,' I replied; 'your proposal does not suit me.'
'You may be principal in time,' said the man. 'That makes no
difference,' said I; and, sitting with my legs over the pit, I
forthwith began to decline an Armenian noun. 'That ain't cant,'
said the man; 'no, nor gypsy either. Well, if you won't close,
another will, I can't lose any more time,' and forthwith he
And after I had declined four Armenian nouns, of different
declensions, I rose from the side of the pit, and wandered about
amongst the various groups of people scattered over the green.
Presently I came to where the man of the thimbles was standing,
with the table before him, and many people about him. 'Them who
finds, wins, and them who can't find, loses,' he cried. Various
individuals tried to find the pellet, but all were unsuccessful,
till at last considerable dissatisfaction was expressed, and the
terms rogue and cheat were lavished upon him. 'Never cheated
anybody in all my life,' he cried; and, observing me at hand,
'didn't I play fair, my lord?' he inquired. But I made no answer.
Presently some more played, and he permitted one or two to win, and
the eagerness to play with him became greater. After I had looked
on for some time, I was moving away: just then I perceived a
short, thick personage, with a staff in his hand, advancing in a
great hurry; whereupon, with a sudden impulse, I exclaimed -
The man, who was in the midst of his pea-and-thimble process, no
sooner heard the last word of the distich than he turned an alarmed
look in the direction of where I stood; then, glancing around, and
perceiving the constable, he slipped forthwith his pellet and
thimbles into his pocket, and, lifting up his table, he cried to
the people about him, 'Make way!' and with a motion with his head
to me, as if to follow him, he darted off with a swiftness which
the short, pursy constable could by no means rival; and whither he
went, or what became of him, I know not, inasmuch as I turned away
in another direction.
Mr. Petulengro--Rommany Rye--Lil-writers--One's own horn--Lawfully-
earnt money--The wooded hill--A great favourite--The shop window--
And, as I wandered along the green, I drew near to a place where
several men, with a cask beside them, sat carousing in the
neighbourhood of a small tent. 'Here he comes,' said one of them,
as I advanced, and standing up he raised his voice and sang:-
'Here the Gypsy gemman see,
With his Roman jib and his rome and dree -
Rome and dree, rum and dry
Rally round the Rommany Rye.'
It was Mr. Petulengro, who was here diverting himself with several
of his comrades; they all received me with considerable frankness.
'Sit down, brother,' said Mr. Petulengro, 'and take a cup of good
I sat down. 'Your health, gentlemen,' said I, as I took the cup
which Mr. Petulengro handed to me.
'Aukko tu pios adrey Rommanis. Here is your health in Rommany,
brother,' said Mr. Petulengro; who, having refilled the cup, now
emptied it at a draught.
'Your health in Rommany, brother,' said Tawno Chikno, to whom the
cup came next.
'The Rommany Rye,' said a third.
'The Gypsy gentleman,' exclaimed a fourth, drinking.
And then they all sang in chorus:-
'Here the Gypsy gemman see,
With his Roman jib and his rome and dree -
Rome and dree, rum and dry
Rally round the Rommany Rye.'
'And now, brother,' said Mr. Petulengro, 'seeing that you have
drunk and been drunken, you will perhaps tell us where you have
been, and what about?'
'I have been in the Big City,' said I, 'writing lils.'
'How much money have you got in your pocket, brother?' said Mr.
'Eighteenpence,' said I; 'all I have in the world.'
'I have been in the Big City, too,' said Mr. Petulengro; 'but I
have not written lils--I have fought in the ring--I have fifty
pounds in my pocket--I have much more in the world. Brother, there
is considerable difference between us.
'I would rather be the lil-writer, after all,' said the tall,
handsome, black man; 'indeed, I would wish for nothing better.'
'Why so?' said Mr. Petulengro.
'Because they have so much to say for themselves,' said the black
man, 'even when dead and gone. When they are laid in the
churchyard, it is their own fault if people ain't talking of them.
Who will know, after I am dead, or bitchadey pawdel, that I was
once the beauty of the world, or that you Jasper were--'
'The best man in England of my inches. That's true, Tawno--
however, here's our brother will perhaps let the world know
something about us.'
'Not he,' said the other, with a sigh; 'he'll have quite enough to
do in writing his own lils, and telling the world how handsome and
clever he was; and who can blame him? Not I. If I could write
lils, every word should be about myself and my own tacho Rommanis--
my own lawful wedded wife, which is the same thing. I tell you
what, brother, I once heard a wise man say in Brummagem, that
"there is nothing like blowing one's own horn," which I conceive to
be much the same thing as writing one's own lil.'
After a little more conversation, Mr. Petulengro arose, and
motioned me to follow him. 'Only eighteenpence in the world,
brother?' said he, as we walked together.
'Nothing more, I assure you. How came you to ask me how much money
'Because there was something in your look, brother, something very
much resembling that which a person showeth who does not carry much
money in his pocket. I was looking at my own face this morning in
my wife's looking-glass--I did not look as you do, brother.'
'I believe your sole motive for inquiring,' said I, 'was to have an
opportunity of venting a foolish boast, and to let me know that you
were in possession of fifty pounds.'
'What is the use of having money unless you let people know you
have it?' said Mr. Petulengro. 'It is not every one can read
faces, brother; and, unless you knew I had money, how could you ask
me to lend you any?'
'I am not going to ask you to lend me any.'
'Then you may have it without asking; as I said before, I have
fifty pounds, all lawfully-earnt money, got by fighting in the
ring--I will lend you that, brother.'
'You are very kind,' said I; 'but I will not take it.'
'Then the half of it?'
'Nor the half of it; but it is getting towards evening, I must go
back to the Great City.'
'And what will you do in the Boro Foros?'
'I know not,' said I.
'If I can.'
'And if you can't?'
'You look ill, brother,' said Mr. Petulengro.
'I do not feel well; the Great City does not agree with me. Should
I be so fortunate as to earn some money, I would leave the Big
City, and take to the woods and fields.'
'You may do that, brother,' said Mr. Petulengro, 'whether you have
money or not. Our tents and horses are on the other side of yonder
wooded hill, come and stay with us; we shall all be glad of your
company, but more especially myself and my wife Pakomovna.'
'What hill is that?' I demanded.
And then Mr. Petulengro told me the name of the hill. 'We shall
stay on t'other side of the hill a fortnight,' he continued; 'and,
as you are fond of lil-writing, you may employ yourself profitably
whilst there. You can write the lil of him whose dock gallops down
that hill every night, even as the living man was wont to do long
'Who was he?' I demanded.
'Jemmy Abershaw,' said Mr. Petulengro; 'one of those whom we call
Boro drom engroes, and the gorgios highway-men. I once heard a rye
say that the life of that man would fetch much money; so come to
the other side of the hill, and write the lil in the tent of Jasper
and his wife Pakomovna.'
At first I felt inclined to accept the invitation of Mr.
Petulengro; a little consideration, however, determined me to
decline it. I had always been on excellent terms with Mr.
Petulengro, but I reflected that people might be excellent friends
when they met occasionally in the street, or on the heath, or in
the wood; but that these very people when living together in a
house, to say nothing of a tent, might quarrel. I reflected,
moreover, that Mr. Petulengro had a wife. I had always, it is
true, been a great favourite with Mrs. Petulengro, who had
frequently been loud in her commendation of the young rye, as she
called me, and his turn of conversation; but this was at a time
when I stood in need of nothing, lived under my parents' roof, and
only visited at the tents to divert and to be diverted. The times
were altered, and I was by no means certain that Mrs. Petulengro,
when she should discover that I was in need both of shelter and
subsistence, might not alter her opinion both with respect to the
individual and what he said--stigmatising my conversation as saucy
discourse, and myself as a scurvy companion; and that she might
bring over her husband to her own way of thinking, provided,
indeed, he should need any conducting. I therefore, though without
declaring my reasons, declined the offer of Mr. Petulengro, and
presently, after shaking him by the hand, bent again my course
towards the Great City.
I crossed the river at a bridge considerably above that hight of
London; for, not being acquainted with the way, I missed the
turning which should have brought me to the latter. Suddenly I
found myself in a street of which I had some recollection, and
mechanically stopped before the window of a shop at which various
publications were exposed; it was that of the bookseller to whom I
had last applied in the hope of selling my ballads or Ab Gwilym,
and who had given me hopes that, in the event of my writing a
decent novel, or a tale, he would prove a purchaser. As I stood
listlessly looking at the window, and the publications which it
contained, I observed a paper affixed to the glass by wafers with
something written upon it. I drew yet nearer for the purpose of
inspecting it; the writing was in a fair round hand--'A Novel or
Tale is much wanted,' was what was written.
Bread and water--Pair play--Fashion--Colonel B---Joseph Sell--The
kindly glow--Easiest manner imaginable.
'I must do something,' said I, as I sat that night in my lonely
apartment, with some bread and a pitcher of water before me.
Thereupon taking some of the bread, and eating it, I considered
what I was to do. 'I have no idea what I am to do,' said I, as I
stretched my hand towards the pitcher, 'unless (and here I took a
considerable draught) I write a tale or a novel--That bookseller,'
I continued, speaking to myself, 'is certainly much in need of a
tale or a novel, otherwise he would not advertise for one. Suppose
I write one, I appear to have no other chance of extricating myself
from my present difficulties; surely it was Fate that conducted me
to his window.
'I will do it,' said I, as I struck my hand against the table; 'I
will do it.' Suddenly a heavy cloud of despondency came over me.
Could I do it? Had I the imagination requisite to write a tale or
a novel? 'Yes, yes,' said I, as I struck my hand again against the
table, 'I can manage it; give me fair play, and I can accomplish
But should I have fair play? I must have something to maintain
myself with whilst I wrote my tale, and I had but eighteenpence in
the world. Would that maintain me whilst I wrote my tale? Yes, I
thought it would, provided I ate bread, which did not cost much,
and drank water, which cost nothing; it was poor diet, it was true,
but better men than myself had written on bread and water; had not
the big man told me so? or something to that effect, months before?
It was true there was my lodging to pay for; but up to the present
time I owed nothing, and perhaps, by the time that the people of
the house asked me for money, I should have written a tale or a
novel, which would bring me in money; I had paper, pens, and ink,
and, let me not forget them, I had candles in my closet, all paid
for, to light me during my night work. Enough, I would go doggedly
to work upon my tale or novel.
But what was the tale or novel to be about? Was it to be a tale of
fashionable life, about Sir Harry Somebody, and the Countess
something? But I knew nothing about fashionable people, and cared
less; therefore how should I attempt to describe fashionable life?
What should the tale consist of? The life and adventures of some
one. Good--but of whom? Did not Mr. Petulengro mention one Jemmy
Abershaw? Yes. Did he not tell me that the life and adventures of
Jemmy Abershaw would bring in much money to the writer? Yes, but I
knew nothing of that worthy. I heard, it is true, from Mr.
Petulengro, that when alive he committed robberies on the hill, on
the side of which Mr. Petulengro had pitched his tents, and that
his ghost still haunted the hill at midnight; but those were scant
materials out of which to write the man's life. It is probable
indeed, that Mr. Petulengro would be able to supply me with further
materials if I should apply to him, but I was in a hurry, and could
not afford the time which it would be necessary to spend in passing
to and from Mr. Petulengro, and consulting him. Moreover, my pride
revolted at the idea of being beholden to Mr. Petulengro for the
materials of the history. No, I would not write the history of
Abershaw. Whose then--Harry Simms? Alas, the life of Harry Simms
had been already much better written by himself than I could hope
to do it; and, after all, Harry Simms, like Jemmy Abershaw, was
merely a robber. Both, though bold and extraordinary men, were
merely highwaymen. I questioned whether I could compose a tale
likely to excite any particular interest out of the exploits of a
mere robber. I want a character for my hero, thought I, something
higher than a mere robber; some one like--like Colonel B-. By the
way, why should I not write the life and adventures of Colonel B-,
of Londonderry in Ireland?
A truly singular man was this same Colonel B-, of Londonderry in
Ireland; a personage of most strange and incredible feats and
daring, who had been a partizan soldier, a bravo--who, assisted by
certain discontented troopers, nearly succeeded in stealing the
crown and regalia from the Tower of London; who attempted to hang
the Duke of Ormond at Tyburn; and whose strange, eventful career
did not terminate even with his life, his dead body, on the
circulation of an unfounded report that he did not come to his
death by fair means, having been exhumed by the mob of his native
place, where he had retired to die, and carried in the coffin
through the streets.
Of his life I had inserted an account in the Newgate Lives and
Trials; it was bare and meagre, and written in the stiff, awkward
style of the seventeenth century; it had, however, strongly
captivated my imagination, and I now thought that out of it
something better could be made; that, if I added to the adventures,
and purified the style, I might fashion out of it a very decent
tale or novel. On a sudden, however, the proverb of mending old
garments with new cloth occurred to me. 'I am afraid,' said I,
'any new adventures which I can invent will not fadge well with the
old tale; one will but spoil the other.' I had better have nothing
to do with Colonel B-, thought I, but boldly and independently sit
down and write the life of Joseph Sell.
This Joseph Sell, dear reader, was a fictitious personage who had
just come into my head. I had never even heard of the name, but
just at that moment it happened to come into my head; I would write
an entirely fictitious narrative, called the Life and Adventures of
Joseph Sell, the great traveller.
I had better begin at once, thought I; and removing the bread and
the jug, which latter was now empty, I seized pen and paper, and
forthwith essayed to write the life of Joseph Sell, but soon
discovered that it is much easier to resolve upon a thing than to
achieve it, or even to commence it; for the life of me I did not
know how to begin, and, after trying in vain to write a line, I
thought it would be as well to go to bed, and defer my projected
undertaking till the morrow.
So I went to bed, but not to sleep. During the greater part of the
night I lay awake, musing upon the work which I had determined to
execute. For a long time my brain was dry and unproductive; I
could form no plan which appeared feasible. At length I felt
within my brain a kindly glow; it was the commencement of
inspiration; in a few minutes I had formed my plan; I then began to
imagine the scenes and the incidents. Scenes and incidents flitted
before my mind's eye so plentifully, that I knew not how to dispose
of them; I was in a regular embarrassment. At length I got out of
the difficulty in the easiest manner imaginable, namely, by
consigning to the depths of oblivion all the feebler and less
stimulant scenes and incidents, and retaining the better and more
impressive ones. Before morning I had sketched the whole work on
the tablets of my mind, and then resigned myself to sleep in the
pleasing conviction that the most difficult part of my undertaking
Considerably sobered--Power of writing--The tempter--Hungry talent-
Rather late in the morning I awoke; for a few minutes I lay still,
perfectly still; my imagination was considerably sobered; the
scenes and situations which had pleased me so much over night
appeared to me in a far less captivating guise that morning. I
felt languid and almost hopeless--the thought, however, of my
situation soon roused me--I must make an effort to improve the
posture of my affairs; there was no time to be lost; so I sprang
out of bed, breakfasted on bread and water, and then sat down
doggedly to write the life of Joseph Sell.
It was a great thing to have formed my plan, and to have arranged
the scenes in my head, as I had done on the preceding night. The
chief thing requisite at present was the mere mechanical act of
committing them to paper. This I did not find at first so easy as
I could wish--I wanted mechanical skill; but I persevered, and
before evening I had written ten pages. I partook of some bread
and water; and before I went to bed that night, I had completed
fifteen pages of my life of Joseph Sell.
The next day I resumed my task--I found my power of writing
considerably increased; my pen hurried rapidly over the paper--my
brain was in a wonderfully teeming state; many scenes and visions
which I had not thought of before were evolved, and, as fast as
evolved, written down; they seemed to be more pat to my purpose,
and more natural to my history, than many others which I had
imagined before, and which I made now give place to these newer
creations: by about midnight I had added thirty fresh pages to my
Life and Adventures of Joseph Sell.
The third day arose--it was dark and dreary out of doors, and I
passed it drearily enough within; my brain appeared to have lost
much of its former glow, and my pen much of its power; I, however,
toiled on, but at midnight had only added seven pages to my history
of Joseph Sell.
On the fourth day the sun shone brightly--I arose, and, having
breakfasted as usual, I fell to work. My brain was this day
wonderfully prolific, and my pen never before or since glided so
rapidly over the paper; towards night I began to feel strangely
about the back part of my head, and my whole system was
extraordinarily affected. I likewise occasionally saw double--a
tempter now seemed to be at work within me.
'You had better leave off now for a short space,' said the tempter,
'and go out and drink a pint of beer; you have still one shilling
left--if you go on at this rate, you will go mad--go out and spend
sixpence, you can afford it, more than half your work is done.' I
was about to obey the suggestion of the tempter, when the idea
struck me that, if I did not complete the work whilst the fit was
on me, I should never complete it; so I held on. I am almost afraid
to state how many pages I wrote that day of the life of Joseph
From this time I proceeded in a somewhat more leisurely manner;
but, as I drew nearer and nearer to the completion of my task,
dreadful fears and despondencies came over me.--It will be too
late, thought I; by the time I have finished the work, the
bookseller will have been supplied with a tale or a novel. Is it
probable that, in a town like this, where talent is so abundant--
hungry talent too--a bookseller can advertise for a tale or a
novel, without being supplied with half a dozen in twenty-four
hours? I may as well fling down my pen--I am writing to no
purpose. And these thoughts came over my mind so often, that at
last, in utter despair, I flung down the pen. Whereupon the
tempter within me said--'And, now you have flung down the pen, you
may as well fling yourself out of the window; what remains for you
to do?' Why, to take it up again, thought I to myself, for I did
not like the latter suggestion at all--and then forthwith I resumed
the pen, and wrote with greater vigour than before, from about six
o'clock in the evening until I could hardly see, when I rested for
a while, when the tempter within me again said, or appeared to say-
-'All you have been writing is stuff, it will never do--a drug--a
mere drug'; and methought these last words were uttered in the
gruff tones of the big publisher. 'A thing merely to be sneezed
at,' a voice like that of Taggart added; and then I seemed to hear
a sternutation,--as I probably did, for, recovering from a kind of
swoon, I found myself shivering with cold. The next day I brought
my work to a conclusion.
But the task of revision still remained; for an hour or two I
shrank from it, and remained gazing stupidly at the pile of paper
which I had written over. I was all but exhausted, and I dreaded,
on inspecting the sheets, to find them full of absurdities which I
had paid no regard to in the furor of composition. But the task,
however trying to my nerves, must be got over; at last, in a kind
of desperation, I entered upon it. It was far from an easy one;
there were, however, fewer errors and absurdities than I had
anticipated. About twelve o'clock at night I had got over the task
of revision. 'To-morrow for the bookseller,' said I, as my head
sank on the pillow. 'Oh me!'
Nervous look--The bookseller's wife--The last stake--Terms--God
forbid!--Will you come to tea?--A light heart.
On arriving at the bookseller's shop, I cast a nervous look at the
window, for the purpose of observing whether the paper had been
removed or not. To my great delight the paper was in its place;
with a beating heart I entered, there was nobody in the shop; as I
stood at the counter, however, deliberating whether or not I should
call out, the door of what seemed to be a back-parlour opened, and
out came a well-dressed lady-like female, of about thirty, with a
good-looking and intelligent countenance. 'What is your business,
young man?' said she to me, after I had made her a polite bow. 'I
wish to speak to the gentleman of the house,' said I. 'My husband
is not within at present,' she replied; 'what is your business?'
'I have merely brought something to show him,' said I, 'but I will
call again.' 'If you are the young gentleman who has been here
before,' said the lady, 'with poems and ballads, as, indeed, I know
you are,' she added, smiling, 'for I have seen you through the
glass door, I am afraid it will be useless; that is,' she added
with another smile, 'if you bring us nothing else.' 'I have not
brought you poems and ballads now,' said I, 'but something widely
different; I saw your advertisement for a tale or a novel, and have
written something which I think will suit; and here it is,' I
added, showing the roll of paper which I held in my hand. 'Well,'
said the bookseller's wife, 'you may leave it, though I cannot
promise you much chance of its being accepted. My husband has
already had several offered to him; however, you may leave it; give
it me. Are you afraid to intrust it to me?' she demanded somewhat
hastily, observing that I hesitated. 'Excuse me,' said I, 'but it
is all I have to depend upon in the world; I am chiefly
apprehensive that it will not be read.' 'On that point I can
reassure you,' said the good lady, smiling, and there was now
something sweet in her smile. 'I give you my word that it shall be
read; come again to-morrow morning at eleven, when, if not
approved, it shall be returned to you.'
I returned to my lodging, and forthwith betook myself to bed,
notwithstanding the earliness of the hour. I felt tolerably
tranquil; I had now cast my last stake, and was prepared to abide
by the result. Whatever that result might be, I could have nothing
to reproach myself with; I had strained all the energies which
nature had given me in order to rescue myself from the difficulties
which surrounded me. I presently sank into a sleep, which endured
during the remainder of the day, and the whole of the succeeding
night. I awoke about nine on the morrow, and spent my last
threepence on a breakfast somewhat more luxurious than the
immediately preceding ones, for one penny of the sum was expended
on the purchase of milk.
At the appointed hour I repaired to the house of the bookseller;
the bookseller was in his shop. 'Ah,' said he, as soon as I
entered, 'I am glad to see you.' There was an unwonted heartiness
in the bookseller's tones, an unwonted benignity in his face.
'So,' said he, after a pause, 'you have taken my advice, written a
book of adventure; nothing like taking the advice, young man, of
your superiors in age. Well, I think your book will do, and so
does my wife, for whose judgment I have a great regard; as well I
may, as she is the daughter of a first-rate novelist, deceased. I
think I shall venture on sending your book to the press.' 'But,'
said I, 'we have not yet agreed upon terms.' 'Terms, terms,' said
the bookseller; 'ahem! well, there is nothing like coming to terms
at once. I will print the book, and give you half the profit when
the edition is sold.' 'That will not do,' said I; 'I intend
shortly to leave London: I must have something at once.' 'Ah, I
see,' said the bookseller, 'in distress; frequently the case with
authors, especially young ones. Well, I don't care if I purchase
it of you, but you must be moderate; the public are very
fastidious, and the speculation may prove a losing one after all.
Let me see, will five--hem--' he stopped. I looked the bookseller
in the face; there was something peculiar in it. Suddenly it
appeared to me as if the voice of him of the thimble sounded in my
ear, 'Now is your time, ask enough, never such another chance of
establishing yourself; respectable trade, pea and thimble.'
'Well,' said I at last, 'I have no objection to take the offer
which you were about to make, though I really think five-and-twenty
guineas to be scarcely enough, everything considered.' 'Five-and-
twenty guineas!' said the bookseller; 'are you--what was I going to
say--I never meant to offer half as much--I mean a quarter; I was
going to say five guineas--I mean pounds; I will, however, make it
up guineas.' 'That will not do,' said I; 'but, as I find we shall
not deal, return me my manuscript, that I may carry it to some one
else.' The bookseller looked blank. 'Dear me,' said he, 'I should
never have supposed that you would have made any objection to such
an offer; I am quite sure that you would have been glad to take
five pounds for either of the two huge manuscripts of songs and
ballads that you brought me on a former occasion.' 'Well,' said I,
'if you will engage to publish either of those two manuscripts, you
shall have the present one for five pounds.' 'God forbid that I
should make any such bargain!' said the bookseller; 'I would
publish neither on any account; but, with respect to this last
book, I have really an inclination to print it, both for your sake
and mine; suppose we say ten pounds.' 'No,' said I, 'ten pounds
will not do; pray restore me my manuscript.' 'Stay,' said the
bookseller, 'my wife is in the next room, I will go and consult
her.' Thereupon he went into his back room, where I heard him
conversing with his wife in a low tone; in about ten minutes he
returned. 'Young gentleman,' said he, 'perhaps you will take tea
with us this evening, when we will talk further over the matter.'
That evening I went and took tea with the bookseller and his wife,
both of whom, particularly the latter, overwhelmed me with
civility. It was not long before I learned that the work had been
already sent to the press, and was intended to stand at the head of
a series of entertaining narratives, from which my friends promised
themselves considerable profit. The subject of terms was again
brought forward. I stood firm to my first demand for a long time;
when, however, the bookseller's wife complimented me on my
production in the highest terms, and said that she discovered
therein the germs of genius, which she made no doubt would some day
prove ornamental to my native land, I consented to drop my demand
to twenty pounds, stipulating, however, that I should not be
troubled with the correction of the work.
Before I departed, I received the twenty pounds, and departed with
a light heart to my lodgings.
Reader, amidst the difficulties and dangers of this life, should
you ever be tempted to despair, call to mind these latter chapters
of the life of Lavengro. There are few positions, however
difficult, from which dogged resolution and perseverance may not
Indisposition--A resolution--Poor equivalents--The piece of gold--
Flashing eyes--How beautiful--Bon jour, Monsieur.
I had long ago determined to leave London as soon as the means
should be in my power, and, now that they were, I determined to
leave the Great City; yet I felt some reluctance to go. I would
fain have pursued the career of original authorship which had just
opened itself to me, and have written other tales of adventure.
The bookseller had given me encouragement enough to do so; he had
assured me that he should be always happy to deal with me for an
article (that was the word) similar to the one I had brought him,
provided my terms were moderate; and the bookseller's wife, by her
complimentary language, had given me yet more encouragement. But
for some months past I had been far from well, and my original
indisposition, brought on partly by the peculiar atmosphere of the
Big City, partly by anxiety of mind, had been much increased by the
exertions which I had been compelled to make during the last few
days. I felt that, were I to remain where I was, I should die, or
become a confirmed valetudinarian. I would go forth into the
country, travelling on foot, and, by exercise and inhaling pure
air, endeavour to recover my health, leaving my subsequent
movements to be determined by Providence.
But whither should I bend my course? Once or twice I thought of
walking home to the old town, stay some time with my mother and my
brother, and enjoy the pleasant walks in the neighbourhood; but,
though I wished very much to see my mother and my brother, and felt
much disposed to enjoy the said pleasant walks, the old town was
not exactly the place to which I wished to go at this present
juncture. I was afraid that people would ask, Where are your
Northern Ballads? Where are your alliterative translations from Ab
Gwilym--of which you were always talking, and with which you
promised to astonish the world? Now, in the event of such
interrogations, what could I answer? It is true I had compiled
Newgate Lives and Trials, and had written the life of Joseph Sell,
but I was afraid that the people of the old town would scarcely
consider these as equivalents for the Northern Ballads and the
songs of Ab Gwilym. I would go forth and wander in any direction
but that of the old town.
But how one's sensibility on any particular point diminishes with
time; at present I enter the old town perfectly indifferent as to
what the people may be thinking on the subject of the songs and
ballads. With respect to the people themselves, whether, like my
sensibility, their curiosity has altogether evaporated, whether,
which is at least equally probable, they never entertained any, one
thing is certain, that never in a single instance have they
troubled me with any remarks on the subject of the songs and
As it was my intention to travel on foot, with a bundle and a
stick, I despatched my trunk containing some few clothes and books
to the old town. My preparations were soon made; in about three
days I was in readiness to start.
Before departing, however, I bethought me of my old friend the
apple-woman of London Bridge. Apprehensive that she might be
labouring under the difficulties of poverty, I sent her a piece of
gold by the hands of a young maiden in the house in which I lived.
The latter punctually executed her commission, but brought me back
the piece of gold. The old woman would not take it; she did not
want it, she said. 'Tell the poor thin lad,' she added, 'to keep
it for himself, he wants it more than I.'
Rather late one afternoon I departed from my lodging, with my stick
in one hand and a small bundle in the other, shaping my course to
the south-west: when I first arrived, somewhat more than a year
before, I had entered the city by the north-east. As I was not
going home, I determined to take my departure in the direction the
very opposite to home.
Just as I was about to cross the street called the Haymarket, at
the lower part, a cabriolet, drawn by a magnificent animal, came
dashing along at a furious rate; it stopped close by the curb-stone
where I was, a sudden pull of the reins nearly bringing the
spirited animal upon its haunches. The Jehu who had accomplished
this feat was Francis Ardry. A small beautiful female, with
flashing eyes, dressed in the extremity of fashion, sat beside him.
'Holloa, friend,' said Francis Ardry, 'whither bound?'
'I do not know,' said I; 'all I can say is, that I am about to
'And the means?' said Francis Ardry.
'I have them,' said I, with a cheerful smile.
'Qui est celui-ci?' demanded the small female, impatiently.
'C'est--mon ami le plus intime; so you were about to leave London,
without telling me a word,' said Francis Ardry, somewhat angrily.
'I intended to have written to you,' said I: 'what a splendid mare
'Is she not?' said Francis Ardry, who was holding in the mare with
difficulty; 'she cost a hundred guineas.'
'Qu'est ce qu'il dit?' demanded his companion.
'Il dit que le jument est bien beau.'
'Allons, mon ami, il est tard,' said the beauty, with a scornful
toss of her head; 'allons!'
'Encore un moment,' said Francis Ardry; 'and when shall I see you
'I scarcely know,' I replied: 'I never saw a more splendid turn
'Qu'est ce qu'il dit?' I said the lady again.
'Il dit que tout l'equipage est en assez bon gout.'
'Allons, c'est un ours,' said the lady; 'le cheval meme en a peur,'
added she, as the mare reared up on high.
'Can you find nothing else to admire but the mare and the
equipage?' said Francis Ardry, reproachfully, after he had with
some difficulty brought the mare to order.
Lifting my hand, in which I held my stick, I took off my hat. 'How
beautiful!' said I, looking the lady full in the face.
'Comment?' said the lady, inquiringly.
'Il dit que vous etes belle comme un ange,' said Francis Ardry,
'Mais, a la bonne heure! arretez, mon ami,' said the lady to
Francis Ardry, who was about to drive off; 'je voudrais bien causer
un moment avec lui; arretez, il est delicieux.--Est-ce bien ainsi
que vous traitez vos amis?' said she passionately, as Francis Ardry
lifted up his whip. 'Bon jour, Monsieur, bon jour,' said she,
thrusting her head from the side and looking back, as Francis Ardry
drove off at the rate of thirteen miles an hour.
The milestone--The meditation--Want to get up?--The off-hand
leader--Sixteen shillings--The near-hand wheeler--All right.
In about two hours I had cleared the Great City, and got beyond the
suburban villages, or rather towns, in the direction in which I was
travelling; I was in a broad and excellent road, leading I knew not
whither. I now slackened my pace, which had hitherto been great.
Presently, coming to a milestone on which was graven nine miles, I
rested against it, and looking round towards the vast city, which
had long ceased to be visible, I fell into a train of meditation.
I thought of all my ways and doings since the day of my first
arrival in that vast city--I had worked and toiled, and, though I
had accomplished nothing at all commensurate with the hopes which I
had entertained previous to my arrival, I had achieved my own
living, preserved my independence, and become indebted to no one.
I was now quitting it, poor in purse, it is true, but not wholly
empty; rather ailing it may be, but not broken in health; and, with
hope within my bosom, had I not cause upon the whole to be
thankful? Perhaps there were some who, arriving at the same time
under not more favourable circumstances, had accomplished much
more, and whose future was far more hopeful--Good! But there might
be others who, in spite of all their efforts, had been either
trodden down in the press, never more to be heard of, or were
quitting that mighty town broken in purse, broken in health, and,
oh! with not one dear hope to cheer them. Had I not, upon the
whole, abundant cause to be grateful? Truly, yes!
My meditation over, I left the milestone and proceeded on my way in
the same direction as before until the night began to close in. I
had always been a good pedestrian; but now, whether owing to
indisposition or to not having for some time past been much in the
habit of taking such lengthy walks, I began to feel not a little
weary. Just as I was thinking of putting up for the night at the
next inn or public-house I should arrive at, I heard what sounded
like a coach coming up rapidly behind me. Induced, perhaps, by the
weariness which I felt, I stopped and looked wistfully in the
direction of the sound; presently up came a coach, seemingly a
mail, drawn by four bounding horses--there was no one upon it but
the coachman and the guard; when nearly parallel with me it
stopped. 'Want to get up?' sounded a voice, in the true coachman-
like tone--half querulous, half authoritative. I hesitated; I was
tired, it is true, but I had left London bound on a pedestrian
excursion, and I did not much like the idea of having recourse to a
coach after accomplishing so very inconsiderable a distance.
'Come, we can't be staying here all night,' said the voice, more
sharply than before. 'I can ride a little way, and get down
whenever I like,' thought I; and springing forward I clambered up
the coach, and was going to sit down upon the box, next the
coachman. 'No, no,' said the coachman, who was a man about thirty,
with a hooked nose and red face, dressed in a fashionably-cut
greatcoat, with a fashionable black castor on his head. 'No, no,
keep behind--the box ain't for the like of you,' said he, as he
drove off; 'the box is for lords, or gentlemen at least.' I made
no answer. 'D- that off-hand leader,' said the coachman, as the
right-hand front horse made a desperate start at something he saw
in the road; and, half rising, he with great dexterity hit with his
long whip the off-hand leader a cut on the off cheek. 'These seem
to be fine horses,' said I. The coachman made no answer. 'Nearly
thoroughbred,' I continued; the coachman drew his breath, with a
kind of hissing sound, through his teeth. 'Come, young fellow,
none of your chaff. Don't you think, because you ride on my mail,
I'm going to talk to you about 'orses. I talk to nobody about
'orses except lords.' 'Well,' said I, 'I have been called a lord
in my time.' 'It must have been by a thimble-rigger, then,' said
the coachman, bending back, and half turning his face round with a
broad leer. 'You have hit the mark wonderfully,' said I. 'You
coachmen, whatever else you may be, are certainly no fools.' 'We
ain't, ain't we?' said the coachman. 'There you are right; and, to
show you that you are, I'll now trouble you for your fare. If you
have been amongst the thimble-riggers you must be tolerably well
cleared out. Where are you going?--to--? I think I have seen you
there. The fare is sixteen shillings. Come, tip us the blunt;
them that has no money can't ride on my mail.'
Sixteen shillings was a large sum, and to pay it would make a
considerable inroad on my slender finances; I thought, at first,
that I would say I did not want to go so far; but then the fellow
would ask at once where I wanted to go, and I was ashamed to
acknowledge my utter ignorance of the road. I determined,
therefore, to pay the fare, with a tacit determination not to mount
a coach in future without knowing whither I was going. So I paid
the man the money, who, turning round, shouted to the guard--'All
right, Jem; got fare to--'; and forthwith whipped on his horses,
especially the off hand leader, for whom he seemed to entertain a
particular spite, to greater speed than before--the horses flew.
A young moon gave a feeble light, partially illuminating a line of
road which, appearing by no means interesting, I the less regretted
having paid my money for the privilege of being hurried along it in
the flying vehicle. We frequently changed horses; and at last my
friend the coachman was replaced by another, the very image of
himself--hawk nose, red face, with narrow-rimmed hat and
fashionable benjamin. After he had driven about fifty yards, the
new coachman fell to whipping one of the horses. 'D- this near-
hand wheeler,' said he, 'the brute has got a corn.' 'Whipping him
won't cure him of his corn,' said I. 'Who told you to speak?' said
the driver, with an oath; 'mind your own business; 'tisn't from the
like of you I am to learn to drive 'orses.' Presently I fell into
a broken kind of slumber. In an hour or two I was aroused by a
rough voice--'Got to -, young man; get down if you please.' I
opened my eyes--there was a dim and indistinct light, like that
which precedes dawn; the coach was standing still in something like
a street; just below me stood the guard. 'Do you mean to get
down,' said he, 'or will you keep us here till morning? other fares
want to get up.' Scarcely knowing what I did, I took my bundle and
stick and descended, whilst two people mounted. 'All right, John,'
said the guard to the coachman, springing up behind; whereupon off
whisked the coach, one or two individuals who were standing by
disappeared, and I was left alone.
The still hour--A thrill--The wondrous circle--The shepherd--Heaps
and barrows--What do you mean?--Milk of the plains--Hengist spared
After standing still a minute or two, considering what I should do,
I moved down what appeared to be the street of a small straggling
town; presently I passed by a church, which rose indistinctly on my
right hand; anon there was the rustling of foliage and the rushing
of waters. I reached a bridge, beneath which a small stream was
running in the direction of the south. I stopped and leaned over
the parapet, for I have always loved to look upon streams,
especially at the still hours. 'What stream is this, I wonder?'
said I, as I looked down from the parapet into the water, which
whirled and gurgled below.
Leaving the bridge, I ascended a gentle acclivity, and presently
reached what appeared to be a tract of moory undulating ground. It
was now tolerably light, but there was a mist or haze abroad which
prevented my seeing objects with much precision. I felt chill in
the damp air of the early morn, and walked rapidly forward. In
about half an hour I arrived where the road divided into two, at an
angle or tongue of dark green sward. 'To the right or the left?'
said I, and forthwith took, without knowing why, the left-hand
road, along which I proceeded about a hundred yards, when, in the
midst of the tongue of sward formed by the two roads, collaterally
with myself, I perceived what I at first conceived to be a small
grove of blighted trunks of oaks, barked and gray. I stood still
for a moment, and then, turning off the road, advanced slowly
towards it over the sward; as I drew nearer, I perceived that the
objects which had attracted my curiosity, and which formed a kind
of circle, were not trees, but immense upright stones. A thrill
pervaded my system; just before me were two, the mightiest of the
whole, tall as the stems of proud oaks, supporting on their tops a
huge transverse stone, and forming a wonderful doorway. I knew now
where I was, and, laying down my stick and bundle, and taking off
my hat, I advanced slowly, and cast myself--it was folly, perhaps,
but I could not help what I did--cast myself, with my face on the
dewy earth, in the middle of the portal of giants, beneath the
The spirit of Stonehenge was strong upon me!
And after I had remained with my face on the ground for some time,
I arose, placed my hat on my head, and, taking up my stick and
bundle, wandered round the wondrous circle, examining each
individual stone, from the greatest to the least; and then,
entering by the great door, seated myself upon an immense broad
stone, one side of which was supported by several small ones, and
the other slanted upon the earth; and there, in deep meditation, I
sat for an hour or two, till the sun shone in my face above the
tall stones of the eastern side.
And as I still sat there, I heard the noise of bells, and presently
a large number of sheep came browsing past the circle of stones;
two or three entered, and grazed upon what they could find, and
soon a man also entered the circle at the northern side.
'Early here, sir,' said the man, who was tall, and dressed in a
dark green slop, and had all the appearance of a shepherd; 'a
traveller, I suppose?'
'Yes,' said I, 'I am a traveller; are these sheep yours?'
'They are, sir; that is, they are my master's. A strange place
this, sir,' said he, looking at the stones; 'ever here before?'
'Never in body, frequently in mind.'
'Heard of the stones, I suppose; no wonder--all the people of the
plain talk of them.'
'What do the people of the plain say of them?'
'Why, they say--How did they ever come here?'
'Do they not suppose them to have been brought?'
'Who should have brought them?'
'I have read that they were brought by many thousand men.'
'How did they bring them?'
'I don't know.'
'And what did they bring them for?'
'To form a temple, perhaps.'
'What is that?'
'A place to worship God in.'
'A strange place to worship God in.'
'It has no roof.'
'Yes, it has.'
'Where?' said the man, looking up.
'What do you see above you?'
'Have you anything to say?'
'How did these stones come here?'
'Are there other stones like these on the plains?' said I.
'None; and yet there are plenty of strange things on these downs.'
'What are they?'
'Strange heaps, and barrows, and great walls of earth built on the
tops of hills.'
'Do the people of the plain wonder how they came there?'
'They do not.'
'They were raised by hands.'
'And these stones?'
'How did they ever come here?'
'I wonder whether they are here?' said I.
'So sure as the world,' said the man; 'and, as the world, they will
stand as long.'
'I wonder whether there is a world.'
'What do you mean?'
'An earth, and sea, moon and stars, sheep and men.'
'Do you doubt it?'
'I never heard it doubted before.'
'It is impossible there should be a world.'
'It ain't possible there shouldn't be a world.'
'Just so.' At this moment a fine ewe, attended by a lamb, rushed
into the circle and fondled the knees of the shepherd. 'I suppose
you would not care to have some milk,' said the man.
'Why do you suppose so?'
'Because, so be there be no sheep, no milk, you know; and what
there ben't is not worth having.'
'You could not have argued better,' said I; 'that is, supposing you
have argued; with respect to the milk you may do as you please.'
'Be still, Nanny,' said the man; and producing a tin vessel from
his scrip, he milked the ewe into it. 'Here is milk of the plains,
master,' said the man, as he handed the vessel to me.
'Where are those barrows and great walls of earth you were speaking
of?' said I, after I had drunk some of the milk; 'are there any
near where we are?'
'Not within many miles; the nearest is yonder away,' said the
shepherd, pointing to the south-east. 'It's a grand place, that,
but not like this; quite different, and from it you have a sight of
the finest spire in the world.'
'I must go to it,' said I, and I drank the remainder of the milk;
'yonder, you say.'
'Yes, yonder; but you cannot get to it in that direction, the river
'Avon is British,' said I.
'Yes,' said the man, 'we are all British here.'
'No, we are not,' said I.
'What are we then?'
'Ain't they one?'
'Who were the British?'
'The men who are supposed to have worshipped God in this place, and
who raised these stones.'
'Where are they now?'
'Our forefathers slaughtered them, spilled their blood all about,
especially in this neighbourhood, destroyed their pleasant places,
and left not, to use their own words, one stone upon another.'
'Yes, they did,' said the shepherd, looking aloft at the transverse
'And it is well for them they did; whenever that stone, which
English hands never raised, is by English hands thrown down, woe,
woe, woe to the English race; spare it, English! Hengist spared
it!--Here is sixpence.'
'I won't have it,' said the man.
'You talk so prettily about these stones; you seem to know all
'I never receive presents; with respect to the stones, I say with
yourself, How did they ever come here?'
'How did they ever come here?' said the shepherd.
The river--Arid downs--A prospect.
Leaving the shepherd, I bent my way in the direction pointed out by
him as that in which the most remarkable of the strange remains of
which he had spoken lay. I proceeded rapidly, making my way over
the downs covered with coarse grass and fern; with respect to the
river of which he had spoken, I reflected that, either by wading or
swimming, I could easily transfer myself and what I bore to the
opposite side. On arriving at its banks, I found it a beautiful
stream, but shallow, with here and there a deep place where the
water ran dark and still.
Always fond of the pure lymph, I undressed, and plunged into one of
these gulfs, from which I emerged, my whole frame in a glow, and
tingling with delicious sensations. After conveying my clothes and
scanty baggage to the farther side, I dressed, and then with
hurried steps bent my course in the direction of some lofty ground;
I at length found myself on a high-road, leading over wide and arid
downs; following the road for some miles without seeing anything
remarkable, I supposed at length that I had taken the wrong path,
and wended on slowly and disconsolately for some time, till, having
nearly surmounted a steep hill, I knew at once, from certain
appearances, that I was near the object of my search. Turning to
the right near the brow of the hill, I proceeded along a path which
brought me to a causeway leading over a deep ravine, and connecting
the hill with another which had once formed part of it, for the
ravine was evidently the work of art. I passed over the causeway,
and found myself in a kind of gateway which admitted me into a
square space of many acres, surrounded on all sides by mounds or
ramparts of earth. Though I had never been in such a place before,
I knew that I stood within the precincts of what had been a Roman
encampment, and one probably of the largest size, for many thousand
warriors might have found room to perform their evolutions in that
space, in which corn was now growing, the green ears waving in the
After I had gazed about the space for a time, standing in the
gateway formed by the mounds, I clambered up the mound to the left
hand, and on the top of that mound I found myself at a great
altitude; beneath, at the distance of a mile, was a fair old city,
situated amongst verdant meadows, watered with streams, and from
the heart of that old city, from amidst mighty trees, I beheld
towering to the sky the finest spire in the world.
And after I had looked from the Roman rampart for a long time, I
hurried away, and, retracing my steps along the cause-way, regained
the road, and, passing over the brow of the hill, descended to the
city of the spire.
The hostelry--Life uncertain--Open countenance--The grand point--
Thank you, master--A hard mother--Poor dear!--Considerable odds--
The better country--English fashion--Landlord-looking person.
And in the old city I remained two days, passing my time as I best
could--inspecting the curiosities of the place, eating and drinking
when I felt so disposed, which I frequently did, the digestive
organs having assumed a tone to which for many months they had been
strangers--enjoying at night balmy sleep in a large bed in a dusky
room, at the end of a corridor, in a certain hostelry in which I
had taken up my quarters--receiving from the people of the hostelry
such civility and condescension as people who travel on foot with
bundle and stick, but who nevertheless are perceived to be not
altogether destitute of coin, are in the habit of receiving. On
the third day, on a fine sunny afternoon, I departed from the city
of the spire.
As I was passing through one of the suburbs, I saw, all on a
sudden, a respectable-looking female fall down in a fit; several
persons hastened to her assistance. 'She is dead,' said one. 'No,
she is not,' said another. 'I am afraid she is,' said a third.
'Life is very uncertain,' said a fourth. 'It is Mrs. -,' said a
fifth; 'let us carry her to her own house.' Not being able to
render any assistance, I left the poor female in the hands of her
townsfolk, and proceeded on my way. I had chosen a road in the
direction of the north-west, it led over downs where corn was
growing, but where neither tree nor hedge was to be seen; two or
three hours' walking brought me to a beautiful valley, abounding
with trees of various kinds, with a delightful village at its
farthest extremity; passing through it, I ascended a lofty
acclivity, on the top of which I sat down on a bank, and, taking
off my hat, permitted a breeze, which swept coolly and refreshingly
over the downs, to dry my hair, dripping from the effects of
exercise and the heat of the day.
And as I sat there, gazing now at the blue heavens, now at the
downs before me, a man came along the road in the direction in
which I had hitherto been proceeding: just opposite to me he
stopped, and, looking at me, cried--'Am I right for London,
He was dressed like a sailor, and appeared to be between twenty-
five and thirty years of age--he had an open manly countenance, and
there was a bold and fearless expression in his eye.
'Yes,' said I, in reply to his question; 'this is one of the ways
to London. Do you come from far?'
'From -,' said the man, naming a well-known seaport.
'Is this the direct road to London from that place?' I demanded.
'No,' said the man; 'but I had to visit two or three other places
on certain commissions I was intrusted with; amongst others to -,
where I had to take a small sum of money. I am rather tired,
master; and, if you please, I will sit down beside you.'
'You have as much right to sit down here as I have,' said I; 'the
road is free for every one; as for sitting down beside me, you have
the look of an honest man, and I have no objection to your
'Why, as for being honest, master,' said the man, laughing and
sitting down by me, 'I haven't much to say--many is the wild thing
I have done when I was younger; however, what is done, is done. To
learn, one must live, master; and I have lived long enough to learn
the grand point of wisdom.'
'What is that?' said I.
'That honesty is the best policy, master.'
'You appear to be a sailor,' said I, looking at his dress.
'I was not bred a sailor,' said the man, 'though, when my foot is
on the salt water, I can play the part--and play it well too. I am
now from a long voyage.'
'From America?' said I.
'Farther than that,' said the man.
'Have you any objection to tell me?' said I.
'From New South Wales,' said the man, looking me full in the face.
'Dear me,' said I.
'Why do you say "Dear me"?' said the man.
'It is a very long way off,' said I.
'Was that your reason for saying so?' said the man.
'Not exactly,' said I.
'No,' said the man, with something of a bitter smile; 'it was
something else that made you say so; you were thinking of the
'Well,' said I, 'what then--you are no convict.'
'How do you know?'
'You do not look like one.'
'Thank you, master,' said the man cheerfully; 'and, to a certain
extent, you are right--bygones are bygones--I am no longer what I
was, nor ever will be again; the truth, however, is the truth--a
convict I have been--a convict at Sydney Cove.'
'And you have served out the period for which you were sentenced,
and are now returned?'
'As to serving out my sentence,' replied the man, 'I can't say that
I did; I was sentenced for fourteen years, and I was in Sydney Cove
little more than half that time. The truth is that I did the
Government a service. There was a conspiracy amongst some of the
convicts to murder and destroy--I overheard and informed the
Government; mind one thing, however, I was not concerned in it;
those who got it up were no comrades of mine, but a bloody gang of
villains. Well, the Government, in consideration of the service I
had done them, remitted the remainder of my sentence; and some kind
gentlemen interested themselves about me, gave me good books and
good advice, and, being satisfied with my conduct, procured me
employ in an exploring expedition, by which I earned money. In
fact, the being sent to Sydney was the best thing that ever
happened to me in all my life.'
'And you have now returned to your native country. Longing to see
home brought you from New South Wales.'
'There you are mistaken,' said the man. 'Wish to see England again
would never have brought me so far; for, to tell you the truth,
master, England was a hard mother to me, as she has proved to many.
No, a wish to see another kind of mother--a poor old woman, whose
son I am--has brought me back.'
'You have a mother, then?' said I. 'Does she reside in London?'
'She used to live in London,' said the man; 'but I am afraid she is
long since dead.'
'How did she support herself?' said I.
'Support herself! with difficulty enough; she used to keep a small
stall on London Bridge, where she sold fruit; I am afraid she is
dead, and that she died perhaps in misery. She was a poor sinful
creature; but I loved her, and she loved me. I came all the way
back merely for the chance of seeing her.'
'Did you ever write to her,' said I, 'or cause others to write to
'I wrote to her myself,' said the man, 'about two years ago; but I
never received an answer. I learned to write very tolerably over
there, by the assistance of the good people I spoke of. As for
reading, I could do that very well before I went--my poor mother
taught me to read, out of a book that she was very fond of; a
strange book it was, I remember. Poor dear!--what I would give
only to know that she is alive.'
'Life is very uncertain,' said I.
'That is true,' said the man, with a sigh.
'We are here one moment, and gone the next,' I continued. 'As I
passed through the streets of a neighbouring town, I saw a
respectable woman drop down, and people said she was dead. Who
knows but that she too had a son coming to see her from a distance,
at that very time?'
'Who knows, indeed?' said the man. 'Ah, I am afraid my mother is
dead. Well, God's will be done.'
'However,' said I, 'I should not wonder at your finding your mother
'You wouldn't?' said the man, looking at me wistfully.
'I should not wonder at all,' said I; 'indeed, something within me
seems to tell me you will; I should not much mind betting five
shillings to fivepence that you will see your mother within a week.
Now, friend, five shillings to fivepence--'
'Is very considerable odds,' said the man, rubbing his hands; 'sure
you must have good reason to hope, when you are willing to give
'After all,' said I, 'it not unfrequently happens that those who
lay the long odds lose. Let us hope, however. What do you mean to
do in the event of finding your mother alive?'
'I scarcely know,' said the man; 'I have frequently thought that if
I found my mother alive I would attempt to persuade her to
accompany me to the country which I have left--it is a better
country for a man--that is, a free man--to live in than this;
however, let me first find my mother--if I could only find my
'Farewell,' said I, rising. 'Go your way, and God go with you--I
will go mine.' 'I have but one thing to ask you,' said the man.
'What is that?' I inquired. 'That you would drink with me before
we part--you have done me so much good.' 'How should we drink?'
said I; 'we are on the top of a hill where there is nothing to
drink.' 'But there is a village below,' said the man; 'do let us
drink before we part.' 'I have been through that village already,'
said I, 'and I do not like turning back.' 'Ah,' said the man,
sorrowfully, 'you will not drink with me because I told you I was--
' 'You are quite mistaken,' said I, 'I would as soon drink with a
convict as with a judge. I am by no means certain that, under the
same circumstances, the judge would be one whit better than the
convict. Come along! I will go back to oblige you. I have an odd
sixpence in my pocket, which I will change that I may drink with
you.' So we went down the hill together to the village through
which I had already passed, where, finding a public-house, we drank
together in true English fashion, after which we parted, the
sailor-looking man going his way and I mine.
After walking about a dozen miles, I came to a town, where I rested
for the night. The next morning I set out again in the direction
of the north-west. I continued journeying for four days, my daily
journeys varying from twenty to twenty-five miles. During this
time nothing occurred to me worthy of any especial notice. The
weather was brilliant, and I rapidly improved both in strength and
spirits. On the fifth day, about two o'clock, I arrived at a small
town. Feeling hungry, I entered a decent-looking inn--within a
kind of bar I saw a huge, fat, landlord-looking person, with a very
pretty, smartly-dressed maiden. Addressing myself to the fat man,
'House!' said I, 'house! Can I have dinner, house?'
Primitive habits--Rosy-faced damsel--A pleasant moment--Suit of
black--The furtive glance--The mighty round--Degenerate times--The
newspaper--The evil chance--I congratulate you.
'Young gentleman,' said the huge fat landlord, 'you are come at the
right time; dinner will be taken up in a few minutes, and such a
dinner,' he continued, rubbing his hands, 'as you will not see
every day in these times.'
'I am hot and dusty,' said I, 'and should wish to cool my hands and
'Jenny!' said the huge landlord, with the utmost gravity, 'show the
gentleman into number seven, that he may wash his hands and face.'
'By no means,' said I, 'I am a person of primitive habits, and
there is nothing like the pump in weather like this.'
'Jenny,' said the landlord, with the same gravity as before, 'go
with the young gentleman to the pump in the back kitchen, and take
a clean towel along with you.'
Thereupon the rosy-faced clean-looking damsel went to a drawer, and
producing a large, thick, but snowy white towel, she nodded to me
to follow her; whereupon I followed Jenny through a long passage
into the back kitchen.
And at the end of the back kitchen there stood a pump; and going to
it I placed my hands beneath the spout, and said, 'Pump, Jenny';
and Jenny incontinently, without laying down the towel, pumped with
one hand, and I washed and cooled my heated hands.
And, when my hands were washed and cooled, I took off my neckcloth,
and, unbuttoning my shirt collar, I placed my head beneath the
spout of the pump, and I said unto Jenny, 'Now, Jenny, lay down the
towel, and pump for your life.'
Thereupon Jenny, placing the towel on a linen-horse, took the
handle of the pump with both hands and pumped over my head as
handmaid had never pumped before; so that the water poured in
torrents from my head, my face, and my hair down upon the brick
And, after the lapse of somewhat more than a minute, I called out
with a half-strangled voice, 'Hold, Jenny!' and Jenny desisted. I
stood for a few moments to recover my breath, then taking the towel
which Jenny proffered, I dried composedly my hands and head, my
face and hair; then, returning the towel to Jenny, I gave a deep
sigh and said, 'Surely this is one of the pleasant moments of
Then, having set my dress to rights, and combed my hair with a
pocket comb, I followed Jenny, who conducted me back through the
long passage, and showed me into a neat sanded parlour on the
I sat down by a window which looked out upon the dusty street;
presently in came the handmaid, and commenced laying the table-
cloth. 'Shall I spread the table for one, sir,' said she, 'or do
you expect anybody to dine with you?' 'I can't say that I expect
anybody,' said I, laughing inwardly to myself; 'however, if you
please you can lay for two, so that if any acquaintance of mine
should chance to step in, he may find a knife and fork ready for
So I sat by the window, sometimes looking out upon the dusty
street, and now glancing at certain old-fashioned prints which
adorned the wall over against me. I fell into a kind of doze, from
which I was almost instantly awakened by the opening of the door.
Dinner, thought I; and I sat upright in my chair. No; a man of the
middle age, and rather above the middle height, dressed in a plain
suit of black, made his appearance, and sat down in a chair at some
distance from me, but near to the table, and appeared to be lost in
'The weather is very warm, sir,' said I.