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The Romany Rye by George Borrow

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now, to learn Armenian from me would take you twenty years."

Belle faintly smiled. "Come," said I, "take another cup of tea."
Belle took another cup of tea, and yet another; we had some
indifferent conversation, after which I arose and gave her donkey a
considerable feed of corn. Belle thanked me, shook me by the hand,
and then went to her own tabernacle, and I returned to mine.

CHAPTER XIII

Visit to the Landlord--His Mortifications--Hunter and his Clan--
Resolution.

On the following morning, after breakfasting with Belle, who was
silent and melancholy, I left her in the dingle, and took a stroll
amongst the neighbouring lanes. After some time I thought I would
pay a visit to the landlord of the public-house, whom I had not
seen since the day when he communicated to me his intention of
changing his religion. I therefore directed my steps to the house,
and on entering it found the landlord standing in the kitchen.
Just then two mean-looking fellows, who had been drinking at one of
the tables, and who appeared to be the only customers in the house,
got up, brushed past the landlord, and saying in a surly tone, we
shall pay you some time or other, took their departure. "That's
the way they serve me now," said the landlord, with a sigh. "Do
you know those fellows," I demanded, "since you let them go away in
your debt?" "I know nothing about them," said the landlord, "save
that they are a couple of scamps." "Then why did you let them go
away without paying you?" said I. "I had not the heart to stop
them," said the landlord; "and, to tell you the truth, everybody
serves me so now, and I suppose they are right, for a child could
flog me." "Nonsense," said I, "behave more like a man, and with
respect to those two fellows run after them, I will go with you,
and if they refuse to pay the reckoning I will help you to shake
some money out of their clothes." "Thank you," said the landlord;
"but as they are gone, let them go on. What they have drank is not
of much consequence." "What is the matter with you?" said I,
staring at the landlord, who appeared strangely altered; his
features were wild and haggard, his formerly bluff cheeks were
considerably sunken in, and his figure had lost much of its
plumpness. "Have you changed your religion already, and has the
fellow in black commanded you to fast?" "I have not changed my
religion yet," said the landlord, with a kind of shudder; "I am to
change it publicly this day fortnight, and the idea of doing so--I
do not mind telling you--preys much upon my mind; moreover, the
noise of the thing has got abroad, and everybody is laughing at me,
and what's more, coming and drinking my beer, and going away
without paying for it, whilst I feel myself like one bewitched,
wishing but not daring to take my own part. Confound the fellow in
black, I wish I had never seen him! yet what can I do without him?
The brewer swears that unless I pay him fifty pounds within a
fortnight he'll send a distress warrant into the house, and take
all I have. My poor niece is crying in the room above; and I am
thinking of going into the stable and hanging myself; and perhaps
it's the best thing I can do, for it's better to hang myself before
selling my soul than afterwards, as I'm sure I should, like Judas
Iscariot, whom my poor niece, who is somewhat religiously inclined,
has been talking to me about." "I wish I could assist you," said
I, "with money, but that is quite out of my power. However, I can
give you a piece of advice. Don't change your religion by any
means; you can't hope to prosper if you do; and if the brewer
chooses to deal hardly with you, let him. Everybody would respect
you ten times more provided you allowed yourself to be turned into
the roads rather than change your religion, than if you got fifty
pounds for renouncing it." "I am half inclined to take your
advice," said the landlord, "only, to tell you the truth, I feel
quite low, without any heart in me." "Come into the bar," said I,
"and let us have something together--you need not be afraid of my
not paying for what I order."

We went into the bar-room, where the landlord and I discussed
between us two bottles of strong ale, which he said were part of
the last six which he had in his possession. At first he wished to
drink sherry, but I begged him to do no such thing, telling him
that sherry would do him no good under the present circumstances;
nor, indeed, to the best of my belief, under any, it being of all
wines the one for which I entertained the most contempt. The
landlord allowed himself to be dissuaded, and, after a glass or two
of ale, confessed that sherry was a sickly, disagreeable drink, and
that he had merely been in the habit of taking it from an idea he
had that it was genteel. Whilst quaffing our beverage, he gave me
an account of the various mortifications to which he had of late
been subject, dwelling with particular bitterness on the conduct of
Hunter, who he said came every night and mouthed him, and
afterwards went away without paying for what he had drank or
smoked, in which conduct he was closely imitated by a clan of
fellows who constantly attended him. After spending several hours
at the public-house I departed, not forgetting to pay for the two
bottles of ale. The landlord, before I went, shaking me by the
hand, declared that he had now made up his mind to stick to his
religion at all hazards, the more especially as he was convinced he
should derive no good by giving it up.

CHAPTER XIV

Preparations for the Fair--The Last Lesson--The Verb Siriel.

It might be about five in the evening, when I reached the gypsy
encampment. Here I found Mr. Petulengro, Tawno Chikno, Sylvester,
and others in a great bustle, clipping and trimming certain ponies
and old horses which they had brought with them. On inquiring of
Jasper the reason of their being so engaged, he informed me that
they were getting the horses ready for a fair, which was to be held
on the morrow, at a place some miles distant, at which they should
endeavour to dispose of them, adding--"Perhaps, brother, you will
go with us, provided you have nothing better to do?" Not having
any particular engagement, I assured him that I should have great
pleasure in being of the party. It was agreed that we should start
early on the following morning. Thereupon I descended into the
dingle. Belle was sitting before the fire, at which the kettle was
boiling. "Were you waiting for me?" I inquired. "Yes," said
Belle, "I thought that you would come, and I waited for you."
"That was very kind," said I. "Not half so kind," said she, "as it
was of you to get everything ready for me in the dead of last
night, when there was scarcely a chance of my coming." The tea-
things were brought forward, and we sat down. "Have you been far?"
said Belle. "Merely to that public-house," said I, "to which you
directed me on the second day of our acquaintance." "Young men
should not make a habit of visiting public-houses," said Belle,
"they are bad places." "They may be so to some people," said I,
"but I do not think the worst public-house in England could do me
any harm." "Perhaps you are so bad already," said Belle, with a
smile, "that it would be impossible to spoil you." "How dare you
catch at my words?" said I; "come, I will make you pay for doing
so--you shall have this evening the longest lesson in Armenian
which I have yet inflicted upon you." "You may well say
inflicted," said Belle, "but pray spare me. I do not wish to hear
anything about Armenian, especially this evening." "Why this
evening?" said I. Belle made no answer. "I will not spare you,"
said I; "this evening I intend to make you conjugate an Armenian
verb." "Well, be it so," said Belle; "for this evening you shall
command." "To command is hramahyel," said I. "Ram her ill,
indeed," said Belle; "I do not wish to begin with that." "No,"
said I, "as we have come to the verbs, we will begin regularly;
hramahyel is a verb of the second conjugation. We will begin with
the first." "First of all tell me," said Belle, "what a verb is?"
"A part of speech," said I, "which, according to the dictionary,
signifies some action or passion; for example, I command you, or I
hate you." "I have given you no cause to hate me," said Belle,
looking me sorrowfully in the face.

"I was merely giving two examples," said I, "and neither was
directed at you. In those examples, to command and hate are verbs.
Belle, in Armenian there are four conjugations of verbs; the first
ends in al, the second in yel, the third in oul, and the fourth in
il. Now, have you understood me?"

"I am afraid, indeed, it will all end ill," said Belle.

"Hold your tongue," said I, "or you will make me lose my patience."
"You have already made me nearly lose mine," said Belle. "Let us
have no unprofitable interruptions," said I; "the conjugations of
the Armenian verbs are neither so numerous nor so difficult as the
declensions of the nouns; hear that, and rejoice. Come, we will
begin with the verb hntal, a verb of the first conjugation, which
signifies to rejoice. Come along; hntam, I rejoice; hntas, thou
rejoicest; why don't you follow, Belle?"

"I am sure I don't rejoice, whatever you may do," said Belle. "The
chief difficulty, Belle," said I, "that I find in teaching you the
Armenian grammar, proceeds from your applying to yourself and me
every example I give. Rejoice, in this instance, is merely an
example of an Armenian verb of the first conjugation, and has no
more to do with your rejoicing than lal, which is, also a verb of
the first conjugation, and which signifies to weep, would have to
do with your weeping, provided I made you conjugate it. Come
along; hntam, I rejoice; hntas, thou rejoicest; hnta, he rejoices;
hntamk we rejoice: now, repeat those words."

"I can't," said Belle, "they sound more like the language of horses
than human beings. Do you take me for--?" "For what?" said I.
Belle was silent. "Were you going to say mare?" said I. "Mare!
mare! by the bye, do you know, Belle, that mare in old English
stands for woman; and that when we call a female an evil mare, the
strict meaning of the term is merely a bad woman. So if I were to
call you a mare without prefixing bad, you must not be offended."
"But I should though," said Belle. "I was merely attempting to
make you acquainted with a philological fact," said I. "If mare,
which in old English, and likewise in vulgar English, signifies a
woman, sounds the same as mare, which in modern and polite English
signifies a female horse, I can't help it. There is no such
confusion of sounds in Armenian, not, at least, in the same
instance. Belle, in Armenian, woman is ghin, the same word, by the
by, as our queen, whereas mare is madagh tzi, which signifies a
female horse; and perhaps you will permit me to add, that a hard-
mouthed jade is, in Armenian, madagh tzi hsdierah."

"I can't bear this much longer," said Belle. "Keep yourself
quiet," said I; "I wish to be gentle with you; and to convince you,
we will skip hntal, and also for the present verbs of the first
conjugation and proceed to the second. Belle, I will now select
for you to conjugate the prettiest verb in Armenian; not only of
the second, but also of all the four conjugations; that verb is
siriel. Here is the present tense:- siriem, siries, sire, siriemk,
sirek, sirien. You observe that it runs on just in the same manner
as hntal, save and except that the e is substituted for a; and it
will be as well to tell you that almost the only difference between
the second, third, and fourth conjugation, and the first, is the
substituting in the present, preterite and other tenses e or ou, or
i for a; so you see that the Armenian verbs are by no means
difficult. Come on, Belle, and say siriem." Belle hesitated.
"Pray oblige me, Belle, by saying siriem!" Belle still appeared to
hesitate. "You must admit, Belle, that it is much softer than
hntam." "It is so," said Belle; "and to oblige you I will say
siriem." "Very well indeed, Belle," said I. "No vartabied, or
doctor, could have pronounced it better; and now, to show you how
verbs act upon pronouns in Armenian, I will say siriem zkiez.
Please to repeat siriem zkiez!" "Siriem zkiez!" said Belle; "that
last word is very hard to say." "Sorry that you think so, Belle,"
said I. "Now please to say siria zis." Belle did so.
"Exceedingly well," said I. "Now say, yerani the sireir zis."
"Yerani the sireir zis," said Belle. "Capital!" said I; "you have
now said, I love you--love me--ah! would that you would love me!"

"And I have said all these things?" said Belle. "Yes," said I;
"you have said them in Armenian." "I would have said them in no
language that I understood," said Belle; "and it was very wrong of
you to take advantage of my ignorance, and make me say such
things." "Why so?" said I; "if you said them, I said them too."
"You did so," said Belle; "but I believe you were merely bantering
and jeering." "As I told you before, Belle," said I, "the chief
difficulty which I find in teaching you Armenian proceeds from your
persisting in applying to yourself and me every example I give."
"Then you meant nothing after all," said Belle, raising her voice.
"Let us proceed," said I; "sirietsi, I loved." "You never loved
any one but yourself," said Belle; "and what's more--"
"Sirietsits, I will love," said I; "sirietsies, thou wilt love."
"Never one so thoroughly heartless," said Belle. "I tell you what,
Belle, you are becoming intolerable, but we will change the verb;
or rather I will now proceed to tell you here, that some of the
Armenian conjugations have their anomalies; one species of these I
wish to bring before your notice. As old Villotte says--from whose
work I first contrived to pick up the rudiments of Armenian--'Est
verborum transitivorum, quorum infinitivus--' but I forgot, you
don't understand Latin. He says there are certain transitive
verbs, whose infinitive is in outsaniel; the preterite in outsi;
the imperative in one; for example--parghatsout-saniem, I irritate-
-"

"You do, you do," said Belle; "and it will be better for both of
us, if you leave off doing so."

"You would hardly believe, Belle," said I, "that the Armenian is in
some respects closely connected with the Irish, but so it is; for
example, that word parghatsout-saniem is evidently derived from the
same root as feargaim, which, in Irish, is as much as to say I
vex."

"You do, indeed," said Belle, sobbing.

"But how do you account for it?"

"O man, man!" said Belle, bursting into tears, "for what purpose do
you ask a poor ignorant girl such a question, unless it be to vex
and irritate her? If you wish to display your learning, do so to
the wise and instructed, and not to me, who can scarcely read or
write. Oh, leave off your nonsense; yet I know you will not do so,
for it is the breath of your nostrils! I could have wished we
should have parted in kindness, but you will not permit it. I have
deserved better at your hands than such treatment. The whole time
we have kept company together in this place, I have scarcely had
one kind word from you, but the strangest--" and here the voice of
Belle was drowned in her sobs.

"I am sorry to see you take on so, dear Belle," said I. "I really
have given you no cause to be so unhappy; surely teaching you a
little Armenian was a very innocent kind of diversion."

"Yes, but you went on so long, and in such a strange way, and made
me repeat such strange examples, as you call them, that I could not
bear it."

"Why, to tell you the truth, Belle, it's just my way; and I have
dealt with you just as I would with--"

"A hard-mouthed jade," said Belle, "and you practising your horse-
witchery upon her. I have been of an unsubdued spirit, I
acknowledge, but I was always kind to you; and if you have made me
cry, it's a poor thing to boast of."

"Boast of!" said I; "a pretty thing indeed to boast of; I had no
idea of making you cry. Come, I beg your pardon; what more can I
do? Come, cheer up, Belle. You were talking of parting; don't let
us part, but depart, and that together."

"Our ways lie different," said Belle.

"I don't see why they should," said I. "Come, let us he off to
America together."

"To America together?" said Belle, looking full at me.

"Yes," said I; "where we will settle down in some forest, and
conjugate the verb siriel conjugally."

"Conjugally?" said Belle.

"Yes," said I; "as man and wife in America, air yew ghin."

"You are jesting, as usual," said Belle.

"Not I, indeed. Come, Belle, make up your mind, and let us be off
to America; and leave priests, humbug, learning, and languages
behind us."

"I don't think you are jesting," said Belle; "but I can hardly
entertain your offers; however, young man, I thank you."

"You had better make up your mind at once," said I, "and let us be
off. I shan't make a bad husband, I assure you. Perhaps you think
I am not worthy of you? To convince you, Belle, that I am, I am
ready to try a fall with you this moment upon the grass.
Brynhilda, the valkyrie, swore that no one should ever marry her
who could not fling her down. Perhaps you have done the same. The
man who eventually married her, got a friend of his, who was called
Sygurd, the serpent-killer, to wrestle with her, disguising him in
his own armour. Sygurd flung her down, and won her for his friend,
though he loved her himself. I shall not use a similar deceit, nor
employ Jasper Petulengro to personate me--so get up, Belle, and I
will do my best to fling you down."

"I require no such thing of you, or anybody," said Belle; "you are
beginning to look rather wild."

"I every now and then do," said I; "come, Belle, what do you say?"

"I will say nothing at present on the subject," said Belle, "I must
have time to consider."

"Just as you please," said I, "to-morrow I go to a fair with Mr.
Petulengro, perhaps you will consider whilst I am away. Come,
Belle, let us have some more tea. I wonder whether we shall be
able to procure tea as good as this in the American forest."

CHAPTER XV

The Dawn of Day--The Last Farewell--Departure for the Fair--The
Fine Horse--Return to the Dingle--No Isopel.

It was about the dawn of day when I was awakened by the voice of
Mr. Petulengro shouting from the top of the dingle, and bidding me
get up. I arose instantly, and dressed myself for the expedition
to the fair. On leaving my tent, I was surprised to observe Belle,
entirely dressed, standing close to her own little encampment.
"Dear me," said I, "I little expected to find you up so early. I
suppose Jasper's call awakened you, as it did me." "I merely lay
down in my things," said Belle, "and have not slept during the
night." "And why did you not take off your things and go to
sleep?" said I. "I did not undress," said Belle, "because I wished
to be in readiness to bid you farewell when you departed; and as
for sleeping, I could not." "Well, God bless you!" said I, taking
Belle by the hand. Belle made no answer, and I observed that her
hand was very cold. "What is the matter with you?" said I, looking
her in the face. Belle looked at me for a moment in the eyes--and
then cast down her own--her features were very pale. "You are
really unwell," said I, "I had better not go to the fair, but stay
here, and take care of you." "No," said Belle, "pray go, I am not
unwell." "Then go to your tent," said I, "and do not endanger your
health by standing abroad in the raw morning air. God bless you,
Belle. I shall be home to-night, by which time I expect you will
have made up your mind; if not, another lesson in Armenian, however
late the hour be." I then wrung Belle's hand, and ascended to the
plain above.

I found the Romany party waiting for me, and everything in
readiness for departing. Mr. Petulengro and Tawno Chikno were
mounted on two old horses. The rest, who intended to go to the
fair, amongst whom were two or three women, were on foot. On
arriving at the extremity of the plain, I looked towards the
dingle. Isopel Berners stood at the mouth, the beams of the early
morning sun shone full on her noble face and figure. I waved my
hand towards her. She slowly lifted up her right arm. I turned
away, and never saw Isopel Berners again.

My companions and myself proceeded on our way. In about two hours
we reached the place where the fair was to be held. After
breakfasting on bread and cheese and ale behind a broken stone
wall, we drove our animals to the fair. The fair was a common
cattle and horse fair: there was little merriment going on, but
there was no lack of business. By about two o'clock in the
afternoon, Mr. Petulengro and his people had disposed of their
animals at what they conceived very fair prices--they were all in
high spirits, and Jasper proposed to adjourn to a public-house. As
we were proceeding to one, a very fine horse, led by a jockey, made
its appearance on the ground. Mr. Petulengro stopped short, and
looked at it stedfastly: "Fino covar dove odoy sas miro--a fine
thing were that if it were but mine!" he exclaimed. "If you covet
it," said I, "why do you not purchase it?" "We low 'Gyptians never
buy animals of that description; if we did we could never sell
them, and most likely should be had up as horse-stealers." "Then
why did you say just now, 'It were a fine thing if it were but
yours?'" said I. "We 'Gyptians always say so when we see anything
that we admire. An animal like that is not intended for a little
hare like me, but for some grand gentleman like yourself. I say,
brother, do you buy that horse!" "How should I buy the horse, you
foolish person?" said I. "Buy the horse, brother," said Mr.
Petulengro, "if you have not the money I can lend it you, though I
be of lower Egypt." "You talk nonsense," said I; "however, I wish
you would ask the man the price of it." Mr. Petulengro, going up
to the jockey, inquired the price of the horse--the man, looking at
him scornfully, made no reply. "Young man," said I, going up to
the jockey, "do me the favour to tell me the price of that horse,
as I suppose it is to sell." The jockey, who was a surly-looking
man, of about fifty, looked at me for a moment, then, after some
hesitation, said, laconically, "Seventy." "Thank you," said I, and
turned away. "Buy that horse," said Mr. Petulengro, coming after
me; "the dook tells me that in less than three months he will be
sold for twice seventy." "I will have nothing to do with him,"
said I; "besides, Jasper, I don't like his tail. Did you observe
what a mean scrubby tail he has?" "What a fool you are, brother,"
said Mr. Petulengro; "that very tail of his shows his breeding. No
good bred horse ever yet carried a fine tail--'tis your scrubby-
tailed horses that are your out-and-outers. Did you ever hear of
Syntax, brother? That tail of his puts me in mind of Syntax.
Well, I say nothing more, have your own way--all I wonder at is,
that a horse like him was ever brought to such a fair of dog cattle
as this."

We then made the best of our way to a public-house, where we had
some refreshment. I then proposed returning to the encampment, but
Mr. Petulengro declined, and remained drinking with his companions
till about six o'clock in the evening, when various jockeys from
the fair came in. After some conversation a jockey proposed a game
of cards; and in a little time, Mr. Petulengro and another gypsy
sat down to play a game of cards with two of the jockeys.

Though not much acquainted with cards, I soon conceived a suspicion
that the jockeys were cheating Mr. Petulengro and his companion, I
therefore called Mr. Petulengro aside, and gave him a hint to that
effect. Mr. Petulengro, however, instead of thanking me, told me
to mind my own bread and butter, and forthwith returned to his
game. I continued watching the players for some hours. The
gypsies lost considerably, and I saw clearly that the jockeys were
cheating them most confoundedly. I therefore once more called Mr.
Petulengro aside, and told him that the jockeys were cheating him,
conjuring him to return to the encampment. Mr. Petulengro, who was
by this time somewhat the worse for liquor, now fell into a
passion, swore several oaths, and asking me who had made me a Moses
over him and his brethren, told me to return to the encampment by
myself. Incensed at the unworthy return which my well-meant words
had received, I forthwith left the house, and having purchased a
few articles of provision, I set out for the dingle alone. It was
a dark night when I reached it, and descending I saw the glimmer of
a fire from the depths of the dingle; my heart beat with fond
anticipation of a welcome. "Isopel Berners is waiting for me,"
said I, "and the first words that I shall hear from her lips is
that she has made up her mind. We shall go to America, and be so
happy together." On reaching the bottom of the dingle, however, I
saw seated near the fire, beside which stood the kettle simmering,
not Isopel Berners, but a gypsy girl, who told me that Miss Berners
when she went away had charged her to keep up the fire, and have
the kettle boiling against my arrival. Startled at these words, I
inquired at what hour Isopel had left, and whither she was gone,
and was told that she had left the dingle, with her cart, about two
hours after I departed; but where she was gone she, the girl, did
not know. I then asked whether she had left no message, and the
girl replied that she had left none, but had merely given
directions about the kettle and fire, putting, at the same time,
six-pence into her hand. "Very strange," thought I; then
dismissing the gypsy girl I sat down by the fire. I had no wish
for tea, but sat looking on the embers, wondering what could be the
motive of the sudden departure of Isopel. "Does she mean to
return?" thought I to myself. "Surely she means to return," Hope
replied, "or she would not have gone away without leaving any
message"--"and yet she could scarcely mean to return," muttered
Foreboding, "or she assuredly would have left some message with the
girl." I then thought to myself what a hard thing it would be, if,
after having made up my mind to assume the yoke of matrimony, I
should be disappointed of the woman of my choice. "Well, after
all," thought I, "I can scarcely be disappointed; if such an ugly
scoundrel as Sylvester had no difficulty in getting such a nice
wife as Ursula, surely I, who am not a tenth part so ugly, cannot
fail to obtain the hand of Isopel Berners, uncommonly fine damsel
though she be. Husbands do not grow upon hedgerows; she is merely
gone after a little business and will return to-morrow."

Comforted in some degree by these hopeful imaginings, I retired to
my tent, and went to sleep.

CHAPTER XVI

Gloomy Forebodings--The Postman's Mother--The Letter--Bears and
Barons--The Best of Advice.

Nothing occurred to me of any particular moment during the
following day. Isopel Berners did not return; but Mr. Petulengro
and his companions came home from the fair early in the morning.
When I saw him, which was about midday, I found him with his face
bruised and swelled. It appeared that, some time after I had left
him, he himself perceived that the jockeys with whom he was playing
cards were cheating him and his companion; a quarrel ensued, which
terminated in a fight between Mr. Petulengro and one of the
jockeys, which lasted some time, and in which Mr. Petulengro,
though he eventually came off victor, was considerably beaten. His
bruises, in conjunction with his pecuniary loss, which amounted to
about seven pounds, were the cause of his being much out of humour;
before night, however, he had returned to his usual philosophic
frame of mind, and, coming up to me as I was walking about,
apologized for his behaviour on the preceding day, and assured me
that he was determined, from that time forward, never to quarrel
with a friend for giving him good advice.

Two more days passed, and still Isopel Berners did not return.
Gloomy thoughts and forebodings filled my mind. During the day I
wandered about the neighbouring roads in the hopes of catching an
early glimpse of her and her returning vehicle; and at night lay
awake, tossing about on my hard couch, listening to the rustle of
every leaf, and occasionally thinking that I heard the sound of her
wheels upon the distant road. Once at midnight, just as I was
about to fall into unconsciousness, I suddenly started up, for I
was convinced that I heard the sound of wheels. I listened most
anxiously, and the sound of wheels striking against stones was
certainly plain enough. "She comes at last," thought I, and for a
few moments I felt as if a mountain had been removed from my
breast;--"here she comes at last, now, how shall I receive her?
Oh," thought I, "I will receive her rather coolly, just as if I was
not particularly anxious about her--that's the way to manage these
women." The next moment the sound became very loud, rather too
loud, I thought, to proceed from her wheels, and then by degrees
became fainter. Rushing out of my tent, I hurried up the path to
the top of the dingle, where I heard the sound distinctly enough,
but it was going from me, and evidently proceeded from something
much larger than the cart of Isopel. I could, moreover, hear the
stamping of a horse's hoof at a lumbering trot. Those only whose
hopes have been wrought up to a high pitch, and then suddenly cast
down, can imagine what I felt at that moment; and yet when I
returned to my lonely tent, and lay down on my hard pallet, the
voice of conscience told me that the misery I was then undergoing I
had fully merited, for the unkind manner in which I had intended to
receive her, when for a brief moment I supposed that she had
returned.

It was on the morning after this affair, and the fourth, if I
forget not, from the time of Isopel's departure, that, as I was
seated on my stone at the bottom of the dingle, getting my
breakfast, I heard an unknown voice from the path above--apparently
that of a person descending--exclaim, "Here's a strange place to
bring a letter to;" and presently an old woman, with a belt round
her middle, to which was attached a leathern bag, made her
appearance, and stood before me.

"Well, if I ever!" said she, as she looked about her. "My good
gentlewoman," said I, "pray what may you please to want?"
"Gentlewoman!" said the old dame, "please to want--well, I call
that speaking civilly, at any rate. It is true, civil words cost
nothing; nevertheless, we do not always get them. What I please to
want is to deliver a letter to a young man in this place; perhaps
you be he?" "What's the name on the letter?" said I, getting up,
and going to her. "There's no name upon it," said she, taking a
letter out of her scrip, and looking at it. "It is directed to the
young man in Mumper's Dingle." "Then it is for me, I make no
doubt," said I, stretching out my hand to take it. "Please to pay
me ninepence first," said the old woman. "However," said she,
after a moment's thought, "civility is civility, and, being rather
a scarce article, should meet with some return. Here's the letter,
young man, and I hope you will pay for it; for if you do not I must
pay the postage myself." "You are the postwoman, I suppose," said
I, as I took the letter. "I am the postman's mother," said the old
woman; "but as he has a wide beat, I help him as much as I can, and
I generally carry letters to places like this, to which he is
afraid to come himself." "You say the postage is ninepence," said
I, "here's a shilling." "Well, I call that honourable," said the
old woman, taking the shilling, and putting it into her pocket--
"here's your change, young man," said she, offering me threepence.
"Pray keep that for yourself," said I; "you deserve it for your
trouble." "Well, I call that genteel," said the old woman; "and as
one good turn deserves another, since you look as if you couldn't
read, I will read your letter for you. Let's see it; it's from
some young woman or other, I dare say." "Thank you," said I, "but
I can read." "All the better for you," said the old woman; "your
being able to read will frequently save you a penny, for that's the
charge I generally make for reading letters; though, as you behaved
so genteelly to me, I should have charged you nothing. Well, if
you can read, why don't you open the letter, instead of keeping it
hanging between your finger and thumb?" "I am in no hurry to open
it," said I, with a sigh. The old woman looked at me for a moment-
-"Well, young man," said she, "there are some--especially those who
can read--who don't like to open their letters when anybody is by,
more especially when they come from young women. Well, I won't
intrude upon you, but leave you alone with your letter. I wish it
may contain something pleasant. God bless you," and with these
words she departed.

I sat down on my stone, with my letter in my hand. I knew
perfectly well that it could have come from no other person than
Isopel Berners; but what did the letter contain? I guessed
tolerably well what its purport was--an eternal farewell! yet I was
afraid to open the letter, lest my expectation should be confirmed.
There I sat with the letter, putting off the evil moment as long as
possible. At length I glanced at the direction, which was written
in a fine bold hand, and was directed, as the old woman had said,
to the young man in "Mumpers' Dingle," with the addition, near -,
in the county of-- Suddenly the idea occurred to me, that, after
all, the letter might not contain an eternal farewell; and that
Isopel might have written, requesting me to join her. Could it be
so? "Alas! no," presently said Foreboding. At last I became
ashamed of my weakness. The letter must be opened sooner or later.
Why not at once? So as the bather who, for a considerable time,
has stood shivering on the bank, afraid to take the decisive
plunge, suddenly takes it, I tore open the letter almost before I
was aware. I had no sooner done so than a paper fell out. I
examined it; it contained a lock of bright flaxen hair. "This is
no good sign," said I, as I thrust the lock and paper into my
bosom, and proceeded to read the letter, which ran as follows: -

"TO THE YOUNG MAN IN MUMPERS' DINGLE.

"SIR,--I send these lines, with the hope and trust that they will
find you well, even as I am myself at this moment, and in much
better spirits, for my own are not such as I could wish they were,
being sometimes rather hysterical and vapourish, and at other
times, and most often, very low. I am at a sea-port, and am just
going on shipboard; and when you get these I shall be on the salt
waters, on my way to a distant country, and leaving my own behind
me, which I do not expect ever to see again.

"And now, young man, I will, in the first place, say something
about the manner in which I quitted you. It must have seemed
somewhat singular to you that I went away without taking any leave,
or giving you the slightest hint that I was going; but I did not do
so without considerable reflection. I was afraid that I should not
be able to support a leave-taking; and as you had said that you
were determined to go wherever I did, I thought it best not to tell
you at all; for I did not think it advisable that you should go
with me, and I wished to have no dispute.

"In the second place, I wish to say something about an offer of
wedlock which you made me; perhaps, young man, had you made it at
the first period of our acquaintance, I should have accepted it,
but you did not, and kept putting off and putting off, and behaving
in a very strange manner, till I could stand your conduct no
longer, but determined upon leaving you and Old England, which last
step I had been long thinking about; so when you made your offer at
last, everything was arranged--my cart and donkey engaged to be
sold--and the greater part of my things disposed of. However,
young man, when you did make it, I frankly tell you that I had half
a mind to accept it; at last, however, after very much
consideration, I thought it best to leave you for ever, because,
for some time past, I had become almost convinced, that though with
a wonderful deal of learning, and exceedingly shrewd in some
things, you were--pray don't be offended--at the root mad! and
though mad people, I have been told, sometimes make very good
husbands, I was unwilling that your friends, if you had any, should
say that Belle Berners, the workhouse girl, took advantage of your
infirmity; for there is no concealing that I was born and bred up
in a workhouse; notwithstanding that, my blood is better than your
own, and as good as the best; you having yourself told me that my
name is a noble name, and once, if I mistake not, that it was the
same word as baron, which is the same thing as bear; and that to be
called in old times a bear was considered a great compliment--the
bear being a mighty strong animal, on which account our forefathers
called all their great fighting-men barons, which is the same as
bears.

"However, setting matters of blood and family entirely aside, many
thanks to you, young man, from poor Belle, for the honour you did
her in making that same offer; for, after all, it is an honour to
receive an honourable offer, which she could see clearly yours was,
with no floriness nor chaff in it; but, on the contrary, entire
sincerity. She assures you that she shall always bear it and
yourself in mind, whether on land or water; and as a proof of the
good-will she bears to you, she sends you a lock of the hair which
she wears on her head, which you were often looking at, and were
pleased to call flax, which word she supposes you meant as a
compliment, even as the old people meant to pass a compliment to
their great folks, when they called them bears; though she cannot
help thinking that they might have found an animal as strong as a
bear, and somewhat less uncouth, to call their great folks after:
even as she thinks yourself, amongst your great store of words,
might have found something a little more genteel to call her hair
after than flax, which, though strong and useful, is rather a
coarse and common kind of article.

"And as another proof of the good-will she bears to you, she sends
you, along with the lock, a piece of advice, which is worth all the
hair in the world, to say nothing of the flax.

"FEAR GOD, and take your own part. There's Bible in that, young
man: see how Moses feared God, and how he took his own part
against everybody who meddled with him. And see how David feared
God, and took his own part against all the bloody enemies which
surrounded him--so fear God, young man, and never give in! The
world can bully, and is fond, provided it sees a man in a kind of
difficulty, of getting about him, calling him coarse names, and
even going so far as to hustle him: but the world, like all
bullies, carries a white feather in its tail, and no sooner sees
the man taking off his coat, and offering to fight its best, than
it scatters here and there, and is always civil to him afterwards.
So when folks are disposed to ill-treat you, young man, say, 'Lord
have mercy upon me!' and then tip them to Long Melford, which, as
the saying goes, there is nothing comparable for shortness all the
world over; and these last words, young man, are the last you will
ever have from her who is nevertheless,

Your affectionate female servant,

ISOPEL BERNERS.

After reading the letter I sat for some time motionless, holding it
in my hand. The daydream in which I had been a little time before
indulging, of marrying Isopel Berners, of going with her to
America, and having by her a large progeny, who were to assist me
in felling trees, cultivating the soil, and who would take care of
me when I was old, was now thoroughly dispelled. Isopel had
deserted me, and was gone to America by herself, where, perhaps,
she would marry some other person, and would bear him a progeny,
who would do for him what in my dream I had hoped my progeny by her
would do for me. Then the thought came into my head that though
she was gone, I might follow her to America, but then I thought
that if I did I might not find her; America was a very large place,
and I did not know the port to which she was bound; but I could
follow her to the port from which she had sailed, and there
possibly discover the port to which she was bound; but I did not
even know the port from which she had set out, for Isopel had not
dated her letter from any place. Suddenly it occurred to me that
the post-mark on the letter would tell me from whence it came, so I
forthwith looked at the back of the letter, and in the post-mark
read the name of a well-known and not very distant sea-port. I
then knew with tolerable certainty the port where she had embarked,
and I almost determined to follow her, but I almost instantly
determined to do no such thing. Isopel Berners had abandoned me,
and I would not follow her; "Perhaps," whispered Pride, "if I
overtook her, she would only despise me for running after her;" and
it also told me pretty roundly, provided I ran after her, whether I
overtook her or not, I should heartily despise myself. So I
determined not to follow Isopel Berners; I took her lock of hair,
and looked at it, then put it in her letter, which I folded up and
carefully stowed away, resolved to keep both for ever, but I
determined not to follow her. Two or three times, however, during
the day, I wavered in my determination, and was again and again
almost tempted to follow her, but every succeeding time the
temptation was fainter. In the evening I left the dingle, and sat
down with Mr. Petulengro and his family by the door of his tent;
Mr. Petulengro soon began talking of the letter which I had
received in the morning. "Is it not from Miss Berners, brother?"
said he. I told him it was. "Is she coming back, brother?"
"Never," said I; "she is gone to America, and has deserted me." "I
always knew that you two were never destined for each other," said
he. "How did you know that?" I inquired. "The dook told me so,
brother; you are born to be a great traveller." "Well," said I,
"if I had gone with her to America, as I was thinking of doing, I
should have been a great traveller." "You are to travel in another
direction, brother," said he. "I wish you would tell me all about
my future wanderings," said I. "I can't, brother," said Mr.
Petulengro, "there's a power of clouds before my eye." "You are a
poor seer, after all," said I; and getting up, I retired to my
dingle and my tent, where I betook myself to my bed, and there,
knowing the worst, and being no longer agitated by apprehension,
nor agonized by expectation, I was soon buried in a deep slumber,
the first which I had fallen into for several nights.

CHAPTER XVII

The Public-house--Landlord on His Legs Again--A Blow in Season--The
Way of the World--The Grateful Mind--The Horse's Neigh.

It was rather late on the following morning when I awoke. At first
I was almost unconscious of what had occurred on the preceding day;
recollection, however, by degrees returned, and I felt a deep
melancholy coming over me, but perfectly aware that no advantage
could be derived from the indulgence of such a feeling, I sprang
up, prepared my breakfast, which I ate with a tolerable appetite,
and then left the dingle, and betook myself to the gypsy
encampment, where I entered into discourse with various Romanies,
both male and female. After some time, feeling myself in better
spirits, I determined to pay another visit to the landlord of the
public-house. From the position of his affairs when I had last
visited him I entertained rather gloomy ideas with respect to his
present circumstances. I imagined that I should either find him
alone in his kitchen smoking a wretched pipe, or in company with
some surly bailiff or his follower, whom his friend the brewer had
sent into the house in order to take possession of his effects.

Nothing more entirely differing from either of these anticipations
could have presented itself to my view than what I saw about one
o'clock in the afternoon, when I entered the house. I had come,
though somewhat in want of consolation myself, to offer any
consolation which was at my command to my acquaintance Catchpole,
and perhaps like many other people who go to a house with "drops of
compassion trembling on their eyelids," I felt rather disappointed
at finding that no compassion was necessary. The house was
thronged with company, and cries for ale and porter, hot brandy and
water, cold gin and water, were numerous; moreover, no desire to
receive and not to pay for the landlord's liquids was manifested--
on the contrary, everybody seemed disposed to play the most
honourable part: "Landlord, here's the money for this glass of
brandy and water--do me the favour to take it; all right, remember
I have paid you." "Landlord, here's the money for the pint of
half-and-half-fourpence halfpenny, ain't it?--here's sixpence; keep
the change--confound the change!" The landlord, assisted by his
niece, bustled about; his brow erect, his cheeks plumped out, and
all his features exhibiting a kind of surly satisfaction. Wherever
he moved, marks of the most cordial amity were shown him, hands
were thrust out to grasp his, nor were looks of respect,
admiration, nay, almost of adoration, wanting. I observed one
fellow, as the landlord advanced, take the pipe out of his mouth,
and gaze upon him with a kind of grin of wonder, probably much the
same as his ancestor, the Saxon lout of old, put on when he saw his
idol Thur, dressed in a new kirtle. To avoid the press, I got into
a corner, where on a couple of chairs sat two respectable-looking
individuals, whether farmers or sow-gelders, I know not, but highly
respectable-looking, who were discoursing about the landlord.
"Such another," said one, "you will not find in a summer's day."
"No, nor in the whole of England," said the other. "Tom of
Hopton," said the first: "ah! Tom of Hopton," echoed the other;
"the man who could beat Tom of Hopton could beat the world." "I
glory in him," said the first. "So do I," said the second, "I'll
back him against the world. Let me hear any one say anything
against him, and if I don't--" then, looking at me, he added, "have
you anything to say against him, young man?" "Not a word," said I,
"save that he regularly puts me out." "He'll put any one out,"
said the man, "any one out of conceit with himself;" then, lifting
a mug to his mouth, he added, with a hiccough, "I drink his
health." Presently the landlord, as he moved about, observing me,
stopped short: "Ah!" said he, "are you here? I am glad to see
you, come this way. Stand back," said he to his company, as I
followed him to the bar, "stand back for me and this gentleman."
Two or three young fellows were in the bar, seemingly sporting
yokels, drinking sherry and smoking. "Come, gentlemen," said the
landlord, "clear the bar, I must have a clear bar for me and my
friend here." "Landlord, what will you take," said one, "a glass
of sherry? I know you like it." "- sherry and you too," said the
landlord, "I want neither sherry nor yourself; didn't you hear what
I told you?" "All right, old fellow," said the other, shaking the
landlord by the hand, "all right, don't wish to intrude--but I
suppose when you and your friend have done, I may come in again;"
then, with a "sarvant, sir," to me, he took himself into the
kitchen, followed by the rest of the sporting yokels.

Thereupon the landlord, taking a bottle of ale from a basket,
uncorked it, and pouring the contents into two large glasses,
handed me one, and motioning me to sit down, placed himself by me;
then, emptying his own glass at a draught, he gave a kind of grunt
of satisfaction, and fixing his eyes upon the opposite side of the
bar, remained motionless, without saying a word, buried apparently
in important cogitations. With respect to myself, I swallowed my
ale more leisurely, and was about to address my friend, when his
niece, coming into the bar, said that more and more customers were
arriving, and how she should supply their wants she did not know,
unless her uncle would get and help her.

"The customers!" said the landlord, "let the scoundrels wait till
you have time to serve them, or till I have leisure to see after
them." "The kitchen won't contain half of them," said his niece.
"Then let them sit out abroad," said the landlord. "But there are
not benches enough, uncle," said the niece. "Then let them stand
or sit on the ground," said the uncle, "what care I; I'll let them
know that the man who beat Tom of Hopton stands as well again on
his legs as ever." Then opening a side door which led from the bar
into the back yard, he beckoned me to follow him. "You treat your
customers in rather a cavalier manner," said I, when we were alone
together in the yard.

"Don't I?" said the landlord; "and I'll treat them more so yet; now
I have got the whiphand of the rascals I intend to keep it. I dare
say you are a bit surprised with regard to the change which has
come over things since you were last here. I'll tell you how it
happened. You remember in what a desperate condition you found me,
thinking of changing my religion, selling my soul to the man in
black, and then going and hanging myself like Pontius Pilate; and I
dare say you can't have forgotten how you gave me good advice, made
me drink ale, and give up sherry. Well, after you were gone, I
felt all the better for your talk, and what you had made me drink,
and it was a mercy that I did feel better; for my niece was gone
out, poor thing, and I was left alone in the house, without a soul
to look at, or to keep me from doing myself a mischief in case I
was so inclined. Well, things wore on in this way till it grew
dusk, when in came that blackguard Hunter with his train to drink
at my expense, and to insult me as usual; there were more than a
dozen of them, and a pretty set they looked. Well, they ordered
about in a very free and easy manner for upwards of an hour and a
half, occasionally sneering and jeering at me, as they had been in
the habit of doing for some time past; so, as I said before, things
wore on, and other customers came in, who, though they did not
belong to Hunter's gang, also passed off their jokes upon me; for,
as you perhaps know, we English are a set of low hounds, who will
always take part with the many by way of making ourselves safe, and
currying favour with the stronger side. I said little or nothing,
for my spirits had again become very low, and I was verily scared
and afraid. All of a sudden I thought of the ale which I had drank
in the morning, and of the good it did me then, so I went into the
bar, opened another bottle, took a glass, and felt better; so I
took another, and feeling better still, I went back into the
kitchen, just as Hunter and his crew were about leaving. 'Mr.
Hunter,' said I, 'you and your people will please to pay me for
what you have had?' 'What do you mean by my people?' said he, with
an oath. 'Ah, what do you mean by calling us his people?' said the
clan. 'We are nobody's people;' and then there was a pretty load
of abuse, and threatening to serve me out. 'Well,' said I, 'I was
perhaps wrong to call them your people, and beg your pardon and
theirs. And now you will please to pay me for what you have had
yourself, and afterwards I can settle with them.' 'I shall pay you
when I think fit,' said Hunter. 'Yes,' said the rest, 'and so
shall we. We shall pay you when we think fit.' 'I tell you what,'
said Hunter, 'I conceives I do such an old fool as you an honour
when I comes into his house and drinks his beer, and goes away
without paying for it;' and then there was a roar of laughter from
everybody, and almost all said the same thing. 'Now do you please
to pay me, Mr. Hunter?' said I. 'Pay you!' said Hunter; 'pay you!
Yes, here's the pay;' and thereupon he held out his thumb, twirling
it round till it just touched my nose. I can't tell you what I
felt that moment; a kind of madhouse thrill came upon me, and all I
know is, that I bent back as far as I could, then lunging out,
struck him under the ear, sending him reeling two or three yards,
when he fell on the floor. I wish you had but seen how my company
looked at me and at each other. One or two of the clan went to
raise Hunter, and get him to fight, but it was no go; though he was
not killed, he had had enough for that evening. Oh, I wish you had
seen my customers; those who did not belong to the clan, but who
had taken part with them, and helped to jeer and flout me, now came
and shook me by the hand, wishing me joy, and saying as, how 'I was
a brave fellow, and had served the bully right!' As for the clan,
they all said Hunter was bound to do me justice; so they made him
pay me what he owed for himself, and the reckoning of those among
them who said they had no money. Two or three of them then led him
away, while the rest stayed behind, and flattered me, and
worshipped me, and called Hunter all kinds of dogs' names. What do
you think of that?"

"Why," said I, "it makes good what I read in a letter which I
received yesterday. It is just the way of the world."

"A'n't it," said the landlord. "Well, that a'n't all; let me go
on. Good fortune never yet came alone. In about an hour comes
home my poor niece, almost in high sterricks with joy, smiling and
sobbing. She had been to the clergyman of M---, the great
preacher, to whose church she was in the habit of going, and to
whose daughters she was well known; and to him she told a
lamentable tale about my distresses, and about the snares which had
been laid for my soul; and so well did she plead my cause, and so
strong did the young ladies back all she said, that the good
clergyman promised to stand my friend, and to lend me sufficient
money to satisfy the brewer, and to get my soul out of the snares
of the man in black; and sure enough the next morning the two young
ladies brought me the fifty pounds, which I forthwith carried to
the brewer, who was monstrously civil, saying that he hoped any
little misunderstanding we had had would not prevent our being good
friends in future. That a'n't all; the people of the neighbouring
county hearing as if by art witchcraft that I had licked Hunter,
and was on good terms with the brewer, forthwith began to come in
crowds to look at me, pay me homage, and be my customers.
Moreover, fifty scoundrels who owed me money, and would have seen
me starve rather than help me as long as they considered me a down
pin, remembered their debts, and came and paid me more than they
owed. That a'n't all; the brewer being about to establish a stage-
coach and three, to run across the country, says it shall stop and
change horses at my house, and the passengers breakfast and sup as
it goes and returns. He wishes me--whom he calls the best man in
England--to give his son lessons in boxing, which he says he
considers a fine manly English art, and a great defence against
Popery--notwithstanding that only a month ago, when he considered
me a down pin, he was in the habit of railing against it as a
blackguard practice, and against me as a blackguard for following
it; so I am going to commence with young hopeful to-morrow."

"I really cannot help congratulating you on your good fortune,"
said I.

"That a'n't all," said the landlord. "This very morning the folks
of our parish made me churchwarden, which they would no more have
done a month ago, when they considered me a down pin, than they--"

"Mercy upon us!" said I, "if fortune pours in upon you in this
manner, who knows but that within a year they may make you a
justice of the peace?"

"Who knows, indeed!" said the landlord. "Well, I will prove myself
worthy of my good luck by showing the grateful mind--not to those
who would be kind to me now, but to those who were, when the days
were rather gloomy. My customers shall have abundance of rough
language, but I'll knock any one down who says anything against the
clergyman who lent me the fifty pounds, or against the Church of
England, of which he is parson and I am churchwarden. I am also
ready to do anything in reason for him who paid me for the ale he
drank, when I shouldn't have had the heart to collar him for the
money had he refused to pay; who never jeered or flouted me like
the rest of my customers when I was a down pin--and though he
refused to fight cross FOR me was never cross WITH me, but listened
to all I had to say, and gave me all kinds of good advice. Now who
do you think I mean by this last? why, who but yourself--who on
earth but yourself? The parson is a good man and a great preacher,
and I'll knock anybody down who says to the contrary; and I mention
him first, because why; he's a gentleman, and you a tinker. But I
am by no means sure you are not the best friend of the two; for I
doubt, do you see, whether I should have had the fifty pounds but
for you. You persuaded me to give up that silly drink they call
sherry, and drink ale; and what was it but drinking ale which gave
me courage to knock down that fellow Hunter--and knocking him down
was, I verily believe, the turning point of my disorder. God don't
love them who won't strike out for themselves; and as far as I can
calculate with respect to time, it was just the moment after I had
knocked down Hunter, that the parson consented to lend me the
money, and everything began to grow civil to me. So, dash my
buttons if I show the ungrateful mind to you! I don't offer to
knock anybody down for you, because why--I dare say you can knock a
body down yourself; but I'll offer something more to the purpose;
as my business is wonderfully on the increase, I shall want
somebody to help me in serving my customers, and keeping them in
order. If you choose to come and serve for your board, and what
they'll give you, give me your fist; or if you like ten shillings a
week better than their sixpences and ha'pence, only say so--though,
to be open with you, I believe you would make twice ten shillings
out of them--the sneaking, fawning, curry-favouring humbugs!"

"I am much obliged to you," said I, "for your handsome offer,
which, however, I am obliged to decline."

"Why so?" said the landlord.

"I am not fit for service," said I; "moreover, I am about to leave
this part of the country." As I spoke a horse neighed in the
stable. "What horse is that?" said I.

"It belongs to a cousin of mine, who put it into my hands yesterday
in the hopes that I might get rid of it for him, though he would no
more have done so a week ago, when he considered me a down pin,
than he would have given the horse away. Are you fond of horses?"

"Very much," said I.

"Then come and look at it." He led me into the stable, where, in a
stall, stood a noble-looking animal.

"Dear me," said I, "I saw this horse at--fair."

"Like enough," said the landlord; "he was there and was offered for
seventy pounds, but didn't find a bidder at any price. What do you
think of him?"

"He's a splendid creature."

"I am no judge of horses," said the landlord; "but I am told he's a
first-rate trotter, good leaper, and has some of the blood of
Syntax. What does all that signify?--the game is against his
master, who is a down pin, is thinking of emigrating, and wants
money confoundedly. He asked seventy pounds at the fair; but,
between ourselves, he would be glad to take fifty here."

"I almost wish," said I, "that I were a rich squire."

"You would buy him then," said the landlord. Here he mused for
some time, with a very profound look. "It would be a rum thing,"
said he, "if, some time or other, that horse should come into your
hands. Didn't you hear how he neighed when you talked about
leaving the country? My granny was a wise woman, and was up to all
kinds of signs and wonders, sounds and noises, the interpretation
of the language of birds and animals, crowing and lowing, neighing
and braying. If she had been here, she would have said at once
that that horse was fated to carry you away. On that point,
however, I can say nothing, for under fifty pounds no one can have
him. Are you taking that money out of your pocket to pay me for
the ale? That won't do; nothing to pay; I invited you this time.
Now if you are going, you had best get into the road through the
yard-gate. I won't trouble you to make your way through the
kitchen and my fine-weather company--confound them!"

CHAPTER XVIII

Mr. Petulengro's Device--The Leathern Purse--Consent to Purchase a
Horse.

As I returned along the road I met Mr. Petulengro and one of his
companions, who told me that they were bound for the public-house;
whereupon I informed Jasper how I had seen in the stable the horse
which we had admired at the fair. "I shouldn't wonder if you buy
that horse after all, brother," said Mr. Petulengro. With a smile
at the absurdity of such a supposition, I left him and his
companion, and betook myself to the dingle. In the evening I
received a visit from Mr. Petulengro, who forthwith commenced
talking about the horse, which he had again seen, the landlord
having shown it to him on learning that he was a friend of mine.
He told me that the horse pleased him more than ever, he having
examined his points with more accuracy than he had an opportunity
of doing on the first occasion, concluding by pressing me to buy
him. I begged him to desist from such foolish importunity,
assuring him that I had never so much money in all my life as would
enable me to purchase the horse. Whilst this discourse was going
on, Mr. Petulengro and myself were standing together in the midst
of the dingle. Suddenly he began to move round me--in a very
singular manner, making strange motions with his hands, and
frightful contortions with his features, till I became alarmed, and
asked him whether he had not lost his senses? Whereupon, ceasing
his movements and contortions, he assured me that he had not, but
had merely been seized with a slight dizziness, and then once more
returned to the subject of the horse. Feeling myself very angry, I
told him that if he continued persecuting me in that manner, I
should be obliged to quarrel with him; adding, that I believed his
only motive for asking me to buy the animal was to insult my
poverty. "Pretty poverty," said he, "with fifty pounds in your
pocket; however, I have heard say that it is always the custom of
your rich people to talk of their poverty, more especially when
they wish to avoid laying out money." Surprised at his saying that
I had fifty pounds in my pocket, I asked him what he meant;
whereupon he told me that he was very sure that I had fifty pounds
in my pocket, offering to lay me five shillings to that effect.
"Done!" said I; "I have scarcely more than the fifth part of what
you say." "I know better, brother," said Mr. Petulengro; "if you
only pull out what you have in the pocket of your slop, I am sure
you will have lost your wager." Putting my hand into the pocket, I
felt something which I had never felt there before, and pulling it
out, perceived that it was a clumsy leathern purse, which I found
on opening contained four ten-pound-notes, and several pieces of
gold. "Didn't I tell you so, brother?" said Mr. Petulengro. "Now,
in the first place, please to pay me the five shillings you have
lost." "This is only a foolish piece of pleasantry," said I; "you
put it into my pocket whilst you were moving about me, making faces
like a distracted person. Here, take your purse back." "I?" said
Mr. Petulengro, "not I, indeed I don't think I am such a fool. I
have won my wager, so pay me the five shillings, brother." "Do
drop this folly," said I, "and take your purse;" and I flung it on
the ground. "Brother," said Mr. Petulengro, "you were talking of
quarrelling with me just now. I tell you now one thing, which is,
that if you do not take back the purse I will quarrel with you; and
it shall be for good and all. I'll drop your acquaintance, no
longer call you my pal, and not even say sarshan to you when I meet
you by the roadside. Hir mi diblis I never will." I saw by
Jasper's look and tone that he was in earnest, and, as I had really
a regard for the strange being, I scarcely knew what to do. "Now,
be persuaded, brother," said Mr. Petulengro, taking up the purse,
and handing it to me; "be persuaded; put the purse into your
pocket, and buy the horse." "Well," said I, "if I did so, would
you acknowledge the horse to be yours, and receive the money again
as soon as I should be able to repay you?"

"I would, brother, I would," said he; "return me the money as soon
as you please, provided you buy the horse." "What motive have you
for wishing me to buy that horse?" said I. "He's to be sold for
fifty pounds," said Jasper, "and is worth four times that sum;
though, like many a splendid bargain, he is now going a begging;
buy him, and I'm confident that, in a little time, a grand
gentleman of your appearance may have anything he asks for him, and
found a fortune by his means. Moreover, brother, I want to dispose
of this fifty pounds in a safe manner. If you don't take it, I
shall fool it away in no time, perhaps at card-playing, for you saw
how I was cheated by those blackguard jockeys the other day--we
gyptians don't know how to take care of money: our best plan when
we have got a handful of guineas is to make buttons with them; but
I have plenty of golden buttons, and don't wish to be troubled with
more, so you can do me no greater favour than vesting the money in
this speculation, by which my mind will be relieved of considerable
care and trouble for some time at least."

Perceiving that I still hesitated, he said, "Perhaps, brother, you
think I did not come honestly by the money: by the honestest
manner in the world, for it is the money I earnt by fighting in the
ring: I did not steal it, brother, nor did I get it by disposing
of spavined donkeys, or glandered ponies--nor is it, brother, the
profits of my wife's witchcraft and dukkerin."

"But," said I, "you had better employ it in your traffic." "I have
plenty of money for my traffic, independent of this capital," said
Mr. Petulengro; "ay, brother, and enough besides to back the
husband of my wife's sister, Sylvester, against Slammocks of the
Chong gav for twenty pounds, which I am thinking of doing."

"But," said I, "after all, the horse may have found another
purchaser by this time." "Not he," said Mr. Petulengro, "there is
nobody in this neighbourhood to purchase a horse like that, unless
it be your lordship--so take the money, brother," and he thrust the
purse into my hand. Allowing myself to be persuaded, I kept
possession of the purse. "Are you satisfied now?" said I. "By no
means, brother," said Mr. Petulengro, "you will please to pay me
the five shillings which you lost to me." "Why," said I, "the
fifty pounds which I found in my pocket were not mine, but put in
by yourself." "That's nothing to do with the matter, brother,"
said Mr. Petulengro, "I betted you five shillings that you had
fifty pounds in your pocket, which sum you had: I did not say that
they were your own, but merely that you had fifty pounds; you will
therefore pay me, brother, or I shall not consider you an
honourable man." Not wishing to have any dispute about such a
matter, I took five shillings out of my under pocket, and gave them
to him. Mr. Petulengro took the money with great glee, observing--
"These five shillings I will take to the public-house forthwith,
and spend in drinking with four of my brethren, and doing so will
give me an opportunity of telling the landlord that I have found a
customer for his horse, and that you are the man. It will be as
well to secure the horse as soon as possible; for though the dook
tells me that the horse is intended for you, I have now and then
found that the dock is, like myself, somewhat given to lying."

He then departed, and I remained alone in the dingle. I thought at
first that I had committed a great piece of folly in consenting to
purchase this horse; I might find no desirable purchaser for him,
until the money in my possession should be totally exhausted, and
then I might be compelled to sell him for half the price I had
given for him, or be even glad to find a person who would receive
him at a gift; I should then remain sans horse, and indebted to Mr.
Petulengro. Nevertheless, it was possible that I might sell the
horse very advantageously, and by so doing obtain a fund sufficient
to enable me to execute some grand enterprise or other. My present
way of life afforded no prospect of support, whereas the purchase
of the horse did afford a possibility of bettering my condition,
so, after all, had I not done right in consenting to purchase the
horse? the purchase was to be made with another person's property,
it is true, and I did not exactly like the idea of speculating with
another person's property, but Mr. Petulengro had thrust his money
upon me, and if I lost his money, he could have no one but himself
to blame; so I persuaded myself that I had, upon the whole, done
right, and having come to that persuasion, I soon began to enjoy
the idea of finding myself on horseback again, and figured to
myself all kinds of strange adventures which I should meet with on
the roads before the horse and I should part company.

CHAPTER XIX

Trying the Horse--The Feats of Tawno--Man with the Red Waist-coat--
Disposal of Property.

I saw nothing more of Mr. Petulengro that evening--on the morrow,
however, he came and informed me that he had secured the horse for
me, and that I was to go and pay for it at noon. At the hour
appointed, therefore, I went with Mr. Petulengro and Tawno to the
public, where, as before, there was a crowd of company. The
landlord received us in the bar with marks of much satisfaction and
esteem, made us sit down, and treated us with some excellent mild
draught ale. "Who do you think has been here this morning?" he
said to me, "why, that fellow in black, who came to carry me off to
a house of Popish devotion, where I was to pass seven days and
nights in meditation, as I think he called it, before I publicly
renounced the religion of my country. I read him a pretty lecture,
calling him several unhandsome names, and asking him what he meant
by attempting to seduce a church-warden of the Church of England.
I tell you what, he ran some danger; for some of my customers,
learning his errand, laid hold on him, and were about to toss him
in a blanket, and then duck him in the horse-pond. I, however,
interfered, and said, 'that what he came about was between me and
him, and that it was no business of theirs.' To tell you the
truth, I felt pity for the poor devil, more especially when I
considered that they merely sided against him because they thought
him the weakest, and that they would have wanted to serve me in the
same manner had they considered me a down pin; so I rescued him
from their hands, told him not to be afraid, for that nobody should
touch him, and offered to treat him to some cold gin and water with
a lump of sugar in it; and on his refusing, told him that he had
better make himself scarce, which he did, and I hope I shall never
see him again. So I suppose you are come for the horse; mercy upon
us! who would have thought you would have become the purchaser?
The horse, however, seemed to know it by his neighing. How did you
ever come by the money? however, that's no matter of mine. I
suppose you are strongly backed by certain friends you have."

I informed the landlord that he was right in supposing that I came
for the horse, but that, before I paid for him, I should wish to
prove his capabilities. "With all my heart," said the landlord.
"You shall mount him this moment." Then going into the stable, he
saddled and bridled the horse, and presently brought him out before
the door. I mounted him, Mr. Petulengro putting a heavy whip into
my hand, and saying a few words to me in his own mysterious
language. "The horse wants no whip," said the landlord. "Hold
your tongue, daddy," said Mr. Petulengro. "My pal knows quite well
what to do with the whip, he's not going to beat the horse with
it." About four hundred yards from the house there was a hill, to
the foot of which the road ran almost on a perfect level; towards
the foot of this hill I trotted the horse, who set off at a long,
swift pace, seemingly at the rate of about sixteen miles an hour.
On reaching the foot of the hill, I wheeled the animal round, and
trotted him towards the house--the horse sped faster than before.
Ere he had advanced a hundred yards, I took off my hat, in
obedience to the advice which Mr. Petulengro had given me, in his
own language, and holding it over the horse's head commenced
drumming on the crown with the knob of the whip; the horse gave a
slight start, but instantly recovering himself, continued his trot
till he arrived at the door of the public-house, amidst the
acclamations of the company, who had all rushed out of the house to
be spectators of what was going on. "I see now what you wanted the
whip for," said the landlord, "and sure enough, that drumming on
your hat was no bad way of learning whether the horse was quiet or
not. Well, did you ever see a more quiet horse, or a better
trotter?" "My cob shall trot against him," said a fellow, dressed
in velveteen, mounted on a low powerful-looking animal. "My cob
shall trot against him to the hill and back again--come on!" We
both started; the cob kept up gallantly against the horse for about
half way to the hill, when he began to lose ground; at the foot of
the hill he was about fifteen yards behind. Whereupon I turned
slowly and waited for him. We then set off towards the house, but
now the cob had no chance, being at least twenty yards behind when
I reached the door. This running of the horse, the wild uncouth
forms around me, and the ale and beer which were being guzzled from
pots and flagons, put me wonderfully in mind of the ancient horse-
races of the heathen north. I almost imagined myself Gunnar of
Hlitharend at the race of -

"Are you satisfied?" said the landlord. "Didn't you tell me that
he could leap?" I demanded. "I am told he can," said the landlord;
"but I can't consent that he should be tried in that way, as he
might be damaged." "That's right!" said Mr. Petulengro, "don't
trust my pal to leap that horse, he'll merely fling him down, and
break his neck and his own. There's a better man than he close by;
let him get on his back and leap him." "You mean yourself, I
suppose," said the landlord. "Well, I call that talking modestly,
and nothing becomes a young man more than modesty." "It a'n't I,
daddy," said Mr. Petulengro. "Here's the man," said he, pointing
to Tawno. "Here's the horse-leaper of the world!" "You mean the
horse-back breaker," said the landlord. "That big fellow would
break down my cousin's horse." "Why, he weighs only sixteen
stone," said Mr. Petulengro. "And his sixteen stone, with his way
of handling a horse, does not press so much as any other one's
thirteen. Only let him get on the horse's back, and you'll see
what he can do!" "No," said the landlord, "it won't do." Whereupon
Mr. Petulengro became very much excited; and pulling out a handful
of money, said, "I'll tell you what, I'll forfeit these guineas, if
my black pal there does the horse any kind of damage; duck me in
the horse-pond if I don't." "Well," said the landlord, "for the
sport of the thing I consent, so let your white pal get down, and
our black pal mount as soon as he pleases." I felt rather
mortified at Mr. Petulengro's interference; and showed no
disposition to quit my seat; whereupon he came up to me and said,
"Now, brother, do get out of the saddle--you are no bad hand at
trotting, I am willing to acknowledge that; but at leaping a horse
there is no one like Tawno. Let every dog be praised for his own
gift. You have been showing off in your line for the last half-
hour; now do give Tawno a chance of exhibiting a little; poor
fellow, he hasn't often a chance of exhibiting, as his wife keeps
him so much out of sight." Not wishing to appear desirous of
engrossing the public attention, and feeling rather desirous to see
how Tawno, of whose exploits in leaping horses I had frequently
heard, would acquit himself in the affair, I at length dismounted,
and Tawno, at a bound, leaped into the saddle, where he really
looked like Gunnar of Hlitharend, save and except the complexion of
Gunnar was florid, whereas that of Tawno was of nearly Mulatto
darkness; and that all Tawno's features were cast in the Grecian
model, whereas Gunnar had a snub nose. "There's a leaping-bar
behind the house," said the landlord. "Leaping-bar!" said Mr.
Petulengro, scornfully. "Do you think my black pal ever rides at a
leaping-bar? No more than a windle-straw. Leap over that meadow-
wall, Tawno." Just past the house, in the direction in which I had
been trotting, was a wall about four feet high, beyond which was a
small meadow. Tawno rode the horse gently up to the wall,
permitted him to look over, then backed him for about ten yards,
and pressing his calves against the horse's sides, he loosed the
rein, and the horse launching forward, took the leap in gallant
style. "Well done, man and horse!" said Mr. Petulengro, "now come
back, Tawno." The leap from the side of the meadow was, however,
somewhat higher; and the horse, when pushed at it, at first turned
away; whereupon Tawno backed him to a greater distance, pushed the
horse to a full gallop, giving a wild cry; whereupon the horse
again took the wall, slightly grazing one of his legs against it.
"A near thing," said the landlord; "but a good leap. Now, no more
leaping, so long as I have control over the animal." The horse was
then led back to the stable; and the landlord, myself and
companions going into the bar, I paid down the money for the horse.

Scarcely was the bargain concluded, when two or three of the
company began to envy me the possession of the horse, and forcing
their way into the bar, with much noise and clamour, said that the
horse had been sold too cheap. One fellow, in particular, with a
red waistcoat, the son of a wealthy farmer, said that if he had but
known that the horse had been so good a one, he would have bought
it at the first price asked for it, which he was now willing to
pay, that is to-morrow, supposing--"supposing your father will let
you have the money," said the landlord, "which, after all, might
not be the case; but, however that may be, it is too late now. I
think myself the horse has been sold for too little money, but if
so all the better for the young man, who came forward when no other
body did with his money in his hand. There, take yourselves out of
my bar," he said to the fellows; "and a pretty scoundrel you," said
he to the man of the red waistcoat, "to say the horse has been sold
too cheap; why, it was only yesterday you said he was good for
nothing, and were passing all kinds of jokes at him. Take yourself
out of my bar, I say, you and all of you," and he turned the
fellows out. I then asked the landlord whether he would permit the
horse to remain in the stable for a short time, provided I paid for
his entertainment; and on his willingly consenting, I treated my
friends with ale, and then returned with them to the encampment.

That evening I informed Mr. Petulengro and his party that on the
morrow I intended to mount my horse, and leave that part of the
country in quest of adventures; inquiring of Jasper where, in the
event of my selling the horse advantageously, I might meet with
him, and repay the money I had borrowed of him; whereupon Mr.
Petulengro informed me that in about ten weeks I might find him at
a certain place at the Chong gav. I then stated that as I could
not well carry with me the property which I possessed in the
dingle, which after all was of no considerable value, I had
resolved to bestow the said property, namely, the pony, tent,
tinker-tools, etc., on Ursula and her husband, partly because they
were poor, and partly on account of the great kindness which I bore
to Ursula, from whom I had, on various occasions, experienced all
manner of civility, particularly in regard to crabbed words. On
hearing this intelligence, Ursula returned many thanks to her
gentle brother, as she called me, and Sylvester was so overjoyed
that, casting aside his usual phlegm, he said I was the best friend
he had ever had in the world, and in testimony of his gratitude
swore that he would permit his wife to give me a choomer in the
presence of the whole company, which offer, however, met with a
very mortifying reception, the company frowning disapprobation,
Ursula protesting against anything of the kind, and I myself
showing no forwardness to avail myself of it, having inherited from
nature a considerable fund of modesty, to which was added no slight
store acquired in the course of my Irish education. I passed that
night alone in the dingle in a very melancholy manner, with little
or no sleep, thinking of Isopel Berners; and in the morning when I
quitted it I shed several tears, as I reflected that I should
probably never again see the spot where I had passed so many hours
in her company.

CHAPTER XX

Farewell to the Romans--The Landlord and His Niece--Set Out as a
Traveller.

On reaching the plain above, I found my Romany friends
breakfasting, and on being asked by Mr. Petulengro to join them, I
accepted the invitation. No sooner was breakfast over than I
informed Ursula and her husband that they would find the property,
which I had promised them, in the dingle, commanding the little
pony Ambrol to their best care. I took leave of the whole company,
which was itself about to break up camp and to depart in the
direction of London, and made the best of my way to the public-
house. I had a small bundle in my hand, and was dressed in the
same manner as when I departed from London, having left my
waggoner's slop with the other effects in the dingle. On arriving
at the public-house, I informed the landlord that I was come for my
horse, inquiring, at the same time, whether he could not
accommodate me with a bridle and saddle. He told me that the
bridle and saddle, with which I had ridden the horse on the
preceding day, were at my service for a trifle; that he had
received them some time since in payment for a debt, and that he
had himself no use for them. The leathers of the bridle were
rather shabby, and the bit rusty, and the saddle was old fashioned;
but I was happy to purchase them for seven shillings, more
especially as the landlord added a small valise, which he said
could be strapped to the saddle, and which I should find very
convenient for carrying my things in. I then proceeded to the
stable, told the horse we were bound on an expedition, and giving
him a feed of corn, left him to discuss it, and returned to the
bar-room to have a little farewell chat with the landlord, and at
the same time to drink with him a farewell glass of ale. Whilst we
were talking and drinking, the niece came and joined us: she was a
decent, sensible young woman, who appeared to take a great interest
in her uncle, whom she regarded with a singular mixture of pride
and, disapprobation--pride for the renown which he had acquired by
his feats of old, and disapprobation for his late imprudences. She
said that she hoped that his misfortunes would be a warning to him
to turn more to his God than he had hitherto done, and to give up
cock-fighting and other low-life practices. To which the landlord
replied, that with respect to cock-fighting he intended to give it
up entirely, being determined no longer to risk his capital upon
birds, and with respect to his religious duties, he should attend
the church of which he was churchwarden at least once a quarter,
adding, however, that he did not intend to become either canter or
driveller, neither of which characters would befit a publican
surrounded by such customers as he was, and that to the last day of
his life he hoped to be able to make use of his fists. After a
stay of about two hours I settled accounts, and having bridled and
saddled my horse, and strapped on my valise, I mounted, shook hands
with the landlord and his niece, and departed, notwithstanding that
they both entreated me to tarry until the evening, it being then
the heat of the day.

CHAPTER XXI

An Adventure on the Road--The Six Flint Stone--A Rural Scene--Mead-
-The Old Man and His Bees.

I bent my course in the direction of the north, more induced by
chance than any particular motive; all quarters of the world having
about equal attractions for me. I was in high spirits at finding
myself once more on horse-back, and trotted gaily on, until the
heat of the weather induced me to slacken my pace, more out of pity
for my horse than because I felt any particular inconvenience from
it--heat and cold being then, and still, matters of great
indifference to me. What I thought of I scarcely know, save and
except that I have a glimmering recollection that I felt some
desire to meet with one of those adventures which upon the roads of
England are generally as plentiful as blackberries in autumn; and
Fortune, who has generally been ready to gratify my inclinations,
provided it cost her very little by so doing, was not slow in
furnishing me with an adventure, perhaps as characteristic of the
English roads as anything which could have happened.

I might have travelled about six miles amongst cross roads and
lanes, when suddenly I found myself upon a broad and very dusty
road which seemed to lead due north. As I wended along this I saw
a man upon a donkey riding towards me. The man was commonly
dressed, with a broad felt hat on his head, and a kind of satchel
on his back; he seemed to be in a mighty hurry, and was every now
and then belabouring the donkey with a cudgel. The donkey,
however, which was a fine large creature of the silver-grey
species, did not appear to sympathize at all with its rider in his
desire to get on, but kept its head turned back as much as
possible, moving from one side of the road to the other, and not
making much forward way. As I passed, being naturally of a very
polite disposition, I gave the man the sele of the day, asking him,
at the same time, why he beat the donkey; whereupon the fellow
eyeing me askance, told me to mind my own business, with the
addition of something which I need not repeat. I had not proceeded
a furlong before I saw seated on the dust by the wayside, close by
a heap of stones, and with several flints before him, a
respectable-looking old man, with a straw hat and a white smock,
who was weeping bitterly.

"What are you crying for, father?" said I. "Have you come to any
hurt?" "Hurt enough," sobbed the old man, "I have just been
tricked out of the best ass in England by a villain, who gave me
nothing but these trash in return," pointing to the stones before
him. "I really scarcely understand you," said I, "I wish you would
explain yourself more clearly." "I was riding on my ass from
market," said the old man, "when I met here a fellow with a sack on
his back, who, after staring at the ass and me a moment or two,
asked me if I would sell her. I told him that I could not think of
selling her, as she was very useful to me, and though an animal, my
true companion, whom I loved as much as if she were my wife and
daughter. I then attempted to pass on, but the fellow stood before
me, begging me to sell her, saying that he would give me anything
for her; well, seeing that he persisted, I said at last that if I
sold her, I must have six pounds for her, and I said so to get rid
of him, for I saw that he was a shabby fellow, who had probably not
six shillings in the world; but I had better have held my tongue,"
said the old man, crying more bitterly than before, "for the words
were scarcely out of my mouth, when he said he would give me what I
asked, and taking the sack from his back, he pulled out a
steelyard, and going to the heap of stones there, he took up
several of them and weighed them, then flinging them down before
me, he said, 'There are six pounds, neighbour; now, get off the
ass, and hand her over to me.' Well, I sat like one dumbfoundered
for a time, till at last I asked him what he meant? 'What do I
mean?' said he, 'you old rascal, why, I mean to claim my purchase,'
and then he swore so awfully, that scarcely knowing what I did I
got down, and he jumped on the animal and rode off as fast as he
could." "I suppose he was the fellow," said I, "whom I just now
met upon a fine gray ass, which he was beating with a cudgel." "I
dare say he was," said the old man, "I saw him beating her as he
rode away, and I thought I should have died." "I never heard such
a story," said I; "well, do you mean to submit to such a piece of
roguery quietly?" "Oh, dear," said the old man, "what can I do? I
am seventy-nine years of age; I am bad on my feet, and dar'n't go
after him."--"Shall I go?" said I; "the fellow is a thief, and any
one has a right to stop him." "Oh, if you could but bring her
again to me," said the old man, "I would bless you till my dying
day; but have a care; I don't know but after all the law may say
that she is his lawful purchase. I asked six pounds for her, and
he gave me six pounds." "Six flints, you mean," said I, "no, no,
the law is not quite so bad as that either; I know something about
her, and am sure that she will never sanction such a quibble. At
all events, I'll ride after the fellow." Thereupon turning my
horse round, I put him to his very best trot; I rode nearly a mile
without obtaining a glimpse of the fellow, and was becoming
apprehensive that he had escaped me by turning down some by-path,
two or three of which I had passed. Suddenly, however, on the road
making a slight turning, I perceived him right before me, moving at
a tolerably swift pace, having by this time probably overcome the
resistance of the animal. Putting my horse to a full gallop, I
shouted at the top of my voice, "Get off that donkey, you rascal,
and give her up to me, or I'll ride you down." The fellow hearing
the thunder of the horse's hoofs behind him, drew up on one side of
the road. "What do you want?" said he, as I stopped my charger,
now almost covered with sweat and foam close beside him. "Do you
want to rob me?" "To rob you?" said I. "No! but to take from you
that ass, of which you have just robbed its owner." "I have robbed
no man," said the fellow; "I just now purchased it fairly of its
master, and the law will give it to me; he asked six pounds for it,
and I gave him six pounds." "Six stones, you mean, you rascal,"
said I; "get down, or my horse shall be upon you in a moment;" then
with a motion of my reins, I caused the horse to rear, pressing his
sides with my heels as if I intended to make him leap. "Stop,"
said the man, "I'll get down, and then try if I can't serve you
out." He then got down, and confronted me with his cudgel; he was
a horrible-looking fellow, and seemed prepared for anything.
Scarcely, however, had he dismounted, when the donkey jerked the
bridle out of his hand, and probably in revenge for the usage she
had received, gave him a pair of tremendous kicks on the hip with
her hinder legs, which overturned him, and then scampered down the
road the way she had come. "Pretty treatment this," said the
fellow, getting up without his cudgel, and holding his hand to his
side, "I wish I may not be lamed for life." "And if you be," said
I, "it will merely serve you right, you rascal, for trying to cheat
a poor old man out of his property by quibbling at words."
"Rascal!" said the fellow, "you lie, I am no rascal; and as for
quibbling with words--suppose I did! What then? All the first
people does it! The newspapers does it! the gentlefolks that calls
themselves the guides of the popular mind does it! I'm no
ignoramus. I read the newspapers, and knows what's what." "You
read them to some purpose," said I. "Well, if you are lamed for
life, and unfitted for any active line--turn newspaper editor; I
should say you are perfectly qualified, and this day's adventure
may be the foundation of your fortune," thereupon I turned round
and rode off. The fellow followed me with a torrent of abuse.
"Confound you," said he--yet that was not the expression either--"I
know you; you are one of the horse-patrol come down into the
country on leave to see your relations. Confound you, you and the
like of you have knocked my business on the head near Lunnon, and I
suppose we shall have you shortly in the country." "To the
newspaper office," said I, "and fabricate falsehoods out of flint
stones;" then touching the horse with my heels, I trotted off, and
coming to the place where I had seen the old man, I found him
there, risen from the ground, and embracing his ass.

I told him that I was travelling down the road, and said, that if
his way lay in the same direction as mine he could do no better
than accompany me for some distance, lest the fellow who, for aught
I knew, might be hovering nigh, might catch him alone, and again
get his ass from him. After thanking me for my offer, which he
said he would accept, he got upon his ass, and we proceeded
together down the road. My new acquaintance said very little of
his own accord; and when I asked him a question, answered rather
incoherently. I heard him every now and then say, "Villain!" to
himself, after which he would pat the donkey's neck, from which
circumstance I concluded that his mind was occupied with his late
adventure. After travelling about two miles, we reached a place
where a drift-way on the right led from the great road; here my
companion stopped, and on my asking him whether he was going any
farther, he told me that the path to the right was the way to his
home.

I was bidding him farewell, when he hemmed once or twice, and said,
that as he did not live far off, he hoped that I would go with him
and taste some of his mead. As I had never tasted mead, of which I
had frequently read in the compositions of the Welsh bards, and,
moreover, felt rather thirsty from the heat of the day, I told him
that I should have great pleasure in attending him. Whereupon,
turning off together, we proceeded about half a mile, sometimes
between stone walls, and at other times hedges, till we reached a
small hamlet, through which we passed, and presently came to a very
pretty cottage, delightfully situated within a garden, surrounded
by a hedge of woodbines. Opening a gate at one corner of the
garden he led the way to a large shed, which stood partly behind
the cottage, which he said was his stable; thereupon he dismounted
and led his donkey into the shed, which was without stalls, but had
a long rack and manger. On one side he tied his donkey, after
taking off her caparisons, and I followed his example, tying my
horse at the other side with a rope halter which he gave me; he
then asked me to come in and taste his mead, but I told him that I
must attend to the comfort of my horse first, and forthwith, taking
a wisp of straw, rubbed him carefully down. Then taking a pailful
of clear water which stood in the shed, I allowed the horse to
drink about half a pint; and then turning to the old man, who all
the time had stood by looking at my proceedings, I asked him
whether he had any oats? "I have all kinds of grain," he replied;
and, going out, he presently returned with two measures, one a
large and the other a small one, both filled with oats, mixed with
a few beans, and handing the large one to me for the horse, he
emptied the other before the donkey, who, before she began to
despatch it, turned her nose to her master's face, and fairly
kissed him. Having given my horse his portion, I told the old man
that I was ready to taste his mead as soon as he pleased, whereupon
he ushered me into his cottage, where, making me sit down by a deal
table in a neatly sanded kitchen, he produced from an old-fashioned
closet a bottle, holding about a quart, and a couple of cups, which
might each contain about half a pint, then opening the bottle and
filling the cups with a brown-coloured liquor, he handed one to me,
and taking a seat opposite to me, he lifted the other, nodded, and
saying to me--"Health and welcome," placed it to his lips and
drank.

"Health and thanks," I replied; and being very thirsty, emptied my
cup at a draught; I had scarcely done so, however, when I half
repented. The mead was deliciously sweet and mellow, but appeared
strong as brandy; my eyes reeled in my head, and my brain became
slightly dizzy. "Mead is a strong drink," said the old man, as he
looked at me, with a half smile on his countenance. "This is at
any rate," said I, "so strong, indeed, that I would not drink
another cup for any consideration." "And I would not ask you,"
said the old man; "for, if you did, you would most probably be
stupid all day, and wake the next morning with a headache. Mead is
a good drink, but woundily strong, especially to those who be not
used to it, as I suppose you are not." "Where do you get it?" said
I. "I make it myself," said the old man, "from the honey which my
bees make." "Have you many bees?" I inquired. "A great many,"
said the old man. "And do you keep them," said I, "for the sake of
making mead with their honey?" "I keep them," he replied, "partly
because I am fond of them, and partly for what they bring me in;
they make me a great deal of honey, some of which I sell, and with
a little I make some mead to warm my poor heart with, or
occasionally to treat a friend with like yourself." "And do you
support yourself entirely by means of your bees?" "No," said the
old man; "I have a little bit of ground behind my house, which is
my principal means of support." "And do you live alone?" "Yes,"
said he; "with the exception of the bees and the donkey, I live
quite alone." "And have you always lived alone?" The old man
emptied his cup, and his heart being warmed with the mead, he told
his history, which was simplicity itself. His father was a small
yeoman, who, at his death, had left him, his only child, the
cottage, with a small piece of ground behind it, and on this little
property he had lived ever since. About the age of twenty-five he
had married an industrious young woman, by whom he had one
daughter, who died before reaching years of womanhood. His wife,
however, had survived her daughter many years, and had been a great
comfort to him, assisting him in his rural occupations; but, about
four years before the present period, he had lost her, since which
time he had lived alone, making himself as comfortable as he could;
cultivating his ground, with the help of a lad from the
neighbouring village, attending to his bees, and occasionally
riding his donkey to market, and hearing the word of God, which he
said he was sorry he could not read, twice a week regularly at the
parish church. Such was the old man's tale.

When he had finished speaking, he led me behind his house, and
showed me his little domain. It consisted of about two acres in
admirable cultivation; a small portion of it formed a kitchen
garden, while the rest was sown with four kinds of grain, wheat,
barley, peas, and beans. The air was full of ambrosial sweets,
resembling those proceeding from an orange grove; a place which
though I had never seen at that time, I since have. In the garden
was the habitation of the bees, a long box, supported upon three
oaken stumps. It was full of small round glass windows, and
appeared to be divided into a great many compartments, much
resembling drawers placed sideways. He told me that, as one
compartment was filled, the bees left it for another; so that,
whenever he wanted honey, he could procure some without injury to
the insects. Through the little round windows I could see several
of the bees at work; hundreds were going in and out of the doors;
hundreds were buzzing about on the flowers, the woodbines, and
beans. As I looked around on the well-cultivated field, the
garden, and the bees, I thought I had never before seen so rural
and peaceful a scene.

When we returned to the cottage we again sat down, and I asked the
old man whether he was not afraid to live alone. He told me that
he was not, for that, upon the whole, his neighbours were very kind
to him. I mentioned the fellow who had swindled him of his donkey
upon the road. "That was no neighbour of mine," said the old man,
"and, perhaps, I shall never see him again, or his like." "It's a
dreadful thing," said I, "to have no other resource, when injured,
than to shed tears on the road." "It is so," said the old man;
"but God saw the tears of the old, and sent a helper." "Why did
you not help yourself?" said I. "Instead of getting off your ass,
why did you not punch at the fellow, or at any rate use dreadful
language, call him villain, and shout robbery?" "Punch!" said the
old man, "shout! what, with these hands, and this voice--Lord, how
you run on! I am old, young chap, I am old!" "Well," said I, "it
is a shameful thing to cry even when old." "You think so now,"
said the old man, "because you are young and strong; perhaps when
you are as old as I, you will not be ashamed to cry."

Upon the whole I was rather pleased with the old man, and much with
all about him. As evening drew nigh, I told him that I must
proceed on my journey; whereupon he invited me to tarry with him
during the night, telling me that he had a nice room and bed above
at my service. I, however, declined; and bidding him farewell,
mounted my horse, and departed. Regaining the road, I proceeded
once more in the direction of the north; and, after a few hours,
coming to a comfortable public-house, I stopped, and put up for the
night.

CHAPTER XXII

The Singular Noise--Sleeping in a Meadow--The Book--Cure for
Wakefulness--Literary Tea Party--Poor Byron.

I did not awake till rather late the next morning; and when I did,
I felt considerable drowsiness, with a slight headache, which I was
uncharitable enough to attribute to the mead which I had drunk on
the preceding day. After feeding my horse, and breakfasting, I
proceeded on my wanderings. Nothing occurred worthy of relating
till mid-day was considerably past, when I came to a pleasant
valley, between two gentle hills. I had dismounted, in order to
ease my horse, and was leading him along by the bridle, when, on my
right, behind a bank in which some umbrageous ashes were growing,
heard a singular noise. I stopped short and listened, and
presently said to myself, "Surely this is snoring, perhaps that of
a hedgehog." On further consideration, however, I was convinced
that the noise which I heard, and which certainly seemed to be
snoring, could not possibly proceed from the nostrils of so small
an animal, but must rather come from those of a giant, so loud and
sonorous was it. About two or three yards farther was a gate,
partly open, to which I went, and peeping into the field, saw a man
lying on some rich grass, under the shade of one of the ashes; he
was snoring away at a great rate. Impelled by curiosity, I
fastened the bridle of my horse to the gate, and went up to the
man. He was a genteelly-dressed individual; rather corpulent, with
dark features, and seemingly about forty-five. He lay on his back,
his hat slightly over his brow, and at his right hand lay an open
book. So strenuously did he snore that the wind from his nostrils
agitated, perceptibly, a fine cambric frill which he wore at his
bosom. I gazed upon him for some time, expecting that he might
awake; but he did not, but kept on snoring, his breast heaving
convulsively. At last, the noise he made became so terrible, that
I felt alarmed for his safety, imagining that a fit might seize
him, and he lose his life while fast asleep. I therefore
exclaimed, "Sir, sir, awake! you sleep over-much." But my voice
failed to rouse him, and he continued snoring as before; whereupon
I touched him slightly with my riding wand, but failing to wake
him, I touched him again more vigorously; whereupon he opened his
eyes, and, probably imagining himself in a dream, closed them
again. But I was determined to arouse him, and cried as loud as I
could, "Sir, sir, pray sleep no more!" He heard what I said,
opened his eyes again, stared at me with a look of some
consciousness, and, half raising himself upon his elbows, asked me
what was the matter. "I beg your pardon," said I, "but I took the
liberty of awaking you, because you appeared to be much disturbed
in your sleep--I was fearful, too, that you might catch a fever
from sleeping under a tree." "I run no risk," said the man, "I
often come and sleep here; and as for being disturbed in my sleep,
I felt very comfortable; I wish you had not awoke me." "Well,"
said I, "I beg your pardon once more. I assure you that what I did
was with the best intention." "Oh! pray make no further apology,"
said the individual, "I make no doubt that what you did was done
kindly; but there's an old proverb, to the effect, 'that you should
let sleeping dogs lie,'" he added with a smile. Then, getting up,
and stretching himself with a yawn, he took up his book and said,
"I have slept quite long enough, and it's quite time for me to be
going home." "Excuse my curiosity," said I, "if I inquire what may
induce you to come and sleep in this meadow?" "To tell you the
truth," answered he, "I am a bad sleeper." "Pray pardon me," said
I, "if I tell you that I never saw one sleep more heartily." "If I
did so," said the individual, "I am beholden to this meadow and
this book; but I am talking riddles, and will explain myself. I am
the owner of a very pretty property, of which this valley forms
part. Some years ago, however, up started a person who said the
property was his; a lawsuit ensued, and I was on the brink of
losing my all, when, most unexpectedly, the suit was determined in
my favour. Owing, however, to the anxiety to which my mind had
been subjected for several years, my nerves had become terribly
shaken; and no sooner was the trial terminated than sleep forsook
my pillow. I sometimes passed nights without closing an eye; I
took opiates, but they rather increased than alleviated my malady.
About three weeks ago a friend of mine put this book into my hand,
and advised me to take it every day to some pleasant part of my
estate, and try and read a page or two, assuring me, if I did, that
I should infallibly fall asleep. I took his advice, and selecting
this place, which I considered the pleasantest part of my property,
I came, and lying down, commenced reading the book, and before
finishing a page was in a dead slumber. Every day since then I
have repeated the experiment, and every time with equal success. I
am a single man, without any children; and yesterday I made my
will, in which, in the event of my friend's surviving me, I have
left him all my fortune, in gratitude for his having procured for
me the most invaluable of all blessings--sleep."

"Dear me," said I, "how very extraordinary! Do you think that your
going to sleep is caused by the meadow or the book?" "I suppose by
both," said my new acquaintance, "acting in co-operation." "It may
be so," said I; "the magic influence does certainly not proceed
from the meadow alone; for since I have been here, I have not felt
the slightest inclination to sleep. Does the book consist of prose
or poetry?" "It consists of poetry," said the individual. "Not
Byron's?" said I. "Byron's!" repeated the individual, with a smile
of contempt; "no, no; there is nothing narcotic in Byron's poetry.
I don't like it. I used to read it, but it thrilled, agitated, and
kept me awake. No; this is not Byron's poetry, but the inimitable
-'s"--mentioning a name which I had never heard till then. "Will
you permit me to look at it?" said I. "With pleasure," he
answered, politely handing me the book. I took the volume, and
glanced over the contents. It was written in blank verse, and
appeared to abound in descriptions of scenery; there was much
mention of mountains, valleys, streams, and waterfalls, harebells
and daffodils. These descriptions were interspersed with
dialogues, which, though they proceeded from the mouths of pedlars
and rustics, were of the most edifying description; mostly on
subjects moral or metaphysical, and couched in the most gentlemanly
and unexceptionable language, without the slightest mixture of
vulgarity, coarseness, or pie-bald grammar. Such appeared to me to
be the contents of the book; but before I could form a very clear
idea of them, I found myself nodding, and a surprising desire to
sleep coming over me. Rousing myself, however, by a strong effort,
I closed the book, and, returning it to the owner, inquired of him,
"Whether he had any motive in coming and lying down in the meadow,
besides the wish of enjoying sleep?" "None whatever," he replied;
"indeed, I should be very glad not to be compelled to do so, always
provided I could enjoy the blessing of sleep; for by lying down
under trees, I may possibly catch the rheumatism, or be stung by
serpents; and, moreover, in the rainy season and winter the thing
will be impossible, unless I erect a tent, which will possibly
destroy the charm." "Well," said I, "you need give yourself no
further trouble about coming here, as I am fully convinced that
with this book in your hand, you may go to sleep anywhere, as your
friend was doubtless aware, though he wished to interest your
imagination for a time by persuading you to lie abroad; therefore,
in future, whenever you feel disposed to sleep, try to read the
book, and you will be sound asleep in a minute; the narcotic
influence lies in the book, and not in the field." "I will follow
your advice," said the individual; "and this very night take it
with me to bed; though I hope in time to be able to sleep without
it, my nerves being already much quieted from the slumbers I have
enjoyed in this field." He then moved towards the gate, where we
parted; he going one way, and I and my horse the other.

More than twenty years subsequent to this period, after much
wandering about the world, returning to my native country, I was
invited to a literary tea-party, where, the discourse turning upon
poetry, I, in order to show that I was not more ignorant than my
neighbours, began to talk about Byron, for whose writings I really
entertained considerable admiration, though I had no particular
esteem for the man himself. At first, I received no answer to what
I said--the company merely surveying me with a kind of sleepy
stare. At length a lady, about the age of forty, with a large wart
on her face, observed, in a drawling tone, "That she had not read
Byron--at least, since her girlhood--and then only a few passages;
but that the impression on her mind was, that his writings were of
a highly objectionable character." "I also read a little of him in
my boyhood," said a gentleman about sixty, but who evidently, from
his dress and demeanour, wished to appear about thirty, "but I
highly disapproved of him; for, notwithstanding he was a nobleman,
he is frequently very coarse, and very fond of raising emotion.
Now emotion is what I dislike;" drawling out the last syllable of
the word dislike. "There is only one poet for me--the divine--"
and then he mentioned a name which I had only once heard, and
afterwards quite forgotten; the same mentioned by the snorer in the
field. "Ah! there is no one like him!" murmured some more of the
company; "the poet of nature--of nature without its vulgarity." I
wished very much to ask these people whether they were ever bad
sleepers, and whether they had read the poet, so called, from a
desire of being set to sleep. Within a few days, however, I learnt
that it had of late become very fashionable and genteel to appear
half asleep, and that one could exhibit no better mark of superfine
breeding than by occasionally in company setting one's rhomal organ
in action. I then ceased to wonder at the popularity, which I
found nearly universal, of -'s poetry; for, certainly in order to
make one's self appear sleepy in company, or occasionally to induce
sleep, nothing could be more efficacious than a slight prelection
of his poems. So poor Byron, with his fire and emotion--to say
nothing of his mouthings and coxcombry--was dethroned, as I
prophesied he would be more than twenty years before, on the day of
his funeral, though I had little idea that his humiliation would
have been brought about by one, whose sole strength consists in
setting people to sleep. Well, all things are doomed to terminate
in sleep. Before that termination, however, I will venture to
prophesy that people will become a little more awake--snoring and
yawning be a little less in fashion--and poor Byron be once more
reinstated on his throne, though his rival will always stand a good
chance of being worshipped by those whose ruined nerves are
insensible to the narcotic powers of opium and morphine.

CHAPTER XXIII

Drivers and Front Outside Passengers--Fatigue of Body and Mind--
Unexpected Greeting--My Inn--The Governor--Engagement.

I continued my journey, passing through one or two villages. The
day was exceedingly hot, and the roads dusty. In order to cause my
horse as little fatigue as possible, and not to chafe his back, I
led him by the bridle, my doing which brought upon me a shower of
remarks, jests, and would-be witticisms from the drivers and front
outside passengers of sundry stage-coaches which passed me in one
direction or the other. In this way I proceeded till considerably
past noon, when I felt myself very fatigued, and my horse appeared
no less so; and it is probable that the lazy and listless manner in
which we were moving on, tired us both much more effectually than
hurrying along at a swift trot would have done, for I have observed
that when the energies of the body are not exerted a languor
frequently comes over it. At length arriving at a very large
building with an archway, near the entrance of a town, I sat down
on what appeared to be a stepping-block, and presently experienced
a great depression of spirits. I began to ask myself whither I was
going, and what I should do with myself and the horse which I held
by the bridle? It appeared to me that I was alone in the world
with the poor animal, who looked for support to me, who knew not
how to support myself. Then the image of Isopel Berners came into
my mind, and when I thought how I had lost her for ever, and how
happy I might have been with her in the New World had she not
deserted me, I became yet more miserable.

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