Midnight Mishaps by Edward Mayhew
Oh the rural suburbs of London!—the filthy suburbs!—where nothing
is green but the water, nothing natural but the dirt,—where the
trees are clipt into poles, and the hedges grow behind palings,—where
"no thoroughfare" forbids you to walk in one place, and the dust
prevents you from walking in another,—the filthy suburbs!
It was these delightful precincts of peace and "caution," retirement
and "handsome rewards," that Mr. Jacob Tweasle honoured with his
decided preference. This gentleman had inhabited a small shop at
the foot of Snow-hill for more than forty years, retailing tobacco to
the tradesmen, and cigars to the apprentices; and, having by supplying
other people's boxes gradually filled his own, he, how in his sixtieth
year, declined the manufacture of weeds for the cultivation of exotics.
An "Italian villa," beautifully situated in a back lane near Hornsey,
was pointed out to the tobacconist by a house-agent as particularly
"snug and retired." Before the ostentatious white front of this
"enviable residence" were exactly twenty square yards of lawn,
"delightfully wooded" by a solitary laburnum, which was approached
over a highly "ornamental Chinese bridge," crossing "a convenient
stream of water." The interior of the building it was "impossible for
the most fastidious to object to;" the rooms were so low, and the
windows so small, that the happy occupant always imagined himself a
hundred miles from the metropolis; the prospect, too, from the upper
stories "revelled in all the luxuries of the picturesque;" the dome of
St. Paul's lent magnificence to the distance, while the foreground was
enlivened by a brick-field.
Mr. Tweasle saw, approved, yet doubted. He did not know what
to say to it. There was, he acknowledged, everything that heart of
man could desire; the garden was walled in, and the steel-traps and
cabbages might be taken as fixtures; nevertheless he reached the
bridge without having made up his mind. There he paused, and
gazed in anxious meditation upon the black and heavy liquid that
stagnated beneath. "Can one fish here?" suddenly asked the tobacconist,
at the same time leaning over and disturbing the "convenient
stream of water" with his cane.
"I never do myself," replied the agent, in such a manner as to imply
that other people frequently did; for Tweasle instantly inquired,
"What do they catch?"
The agent was puzzled. Was the Londoner really ignorant, or was
this a design to test the truth of all his former assertions? It was a
case which required extreme caution. "I am no angler myself,—I
have no time for that delightful recreation; but—I should think—that
"Stewed eels make a nice supper," interrupted Tweasle with gluttonous
simplicity. "Fish arn't to be got fresh in London."
"Fish ought to be eaten the moment it is taken from the water,"
cried the agent with decision.
"My boy's got a fishing-rod," said Tweasle; and he took the Italian
villa on a repairing lease.
The announcement of this event created a "sensation" at the foot
of Snow-hill; the Rubicon was past; the business was to be disposed
of; and, that no time might be lost, Mr. Tweasle, without taking off
his gloves, began to scribble an advertisement, while Mrs. Tweasle
waddled into the shop and insulted a customer.
All was confusion. To fly from the paternal protection of the
Lord Mayor, and emigrate off the stones, was no casual event to him
who had hitherto proudly exulted in the freedom of the city. Much
was necessary to reconcile the mind to so bold a measure. The lady
undertook to pack up everything that could be got in London, and
purchase everything that could not be got in the country. The gentleman,
acting as a man should, wholly neglected the domestic. He
gave his attention to the noble arts of agriculture and self-defence,
botanical theories, treatises, and directories. Horticultural implements,
instruments, and improvements, swords and pistols, guns and
blunderbusses, detonating crackers for the shutters, and alarums for
the bedrooms, he spared neither trouble nor expense to procure.
"Now, Hanney, dear," said Tweasle to his wife, surveying the weapons
which had just been sent home, "I thinks here's everything a
contented mind could desire: the thieves will know better than to
come where we are."
But the timid woman's ideas of defence were concentrated in a
flannel gown and a rattle; she looked more terrified than assured:—fire-arms
and accidents were, in her mind, synonymous; and her only
answer was an urgent entreaty that "those nasty things might be
always so locked up that nobody could get at them."
In due time everything that the family thought they could possibly
want was procured; and when, to render the whole complete, Master
Charles, only son and heir, was commissioned to procure live stock
from St. Giles's, the boy returned with almond tumblers for pigeon-pies,
and bantam-cocks for poultry.
"New-laid eggs for breakfast!" chuckled his papa.
All being at length ready for starting on the following day, and as
the house was dismantled even to the junction of the bed-posts, the
family determined to pass their last evening in London, whispering
soft adieus to their more intimate acquaintance. At first Tweasle
conducted himself with becoming hypocrisy. He lamented his separation
from the "friends of his youth," and ate cake and drank wine
with imposing solemnity; but, as the ceremony was repeated, he
committed himself by an occasional smile, and at last slipped out
something about "poor devils, who were smoked to death like red
herrings." Mrs. Tweasle was shocked, and hurried her husband
away; who, however, warmed into truth, would not acknowledge his
error or go to bed, but insisted on saying good-b'ye to his old friend
Gingham. They found the Ginghams preparing for supper; and, on
company arriving, the servant was whispered "to bring up the beef,"
which Tweasle overhearing, he turned to the hostess, and exultingly
"Come and see us in the country, and I'll give you stewed eels
and chicken for supper."
"I'm very sorry we've nothing better than cold beef to offer you,
sir," replied the lady with a look; "but I can send out."
"Not for the world!" shouted Mrs. Tweasle, who was rejoiced
when a request to be seated relieved her from reiterating her conciliatory
wishes that no one would mind her good man, who during
supper would converse on no other subject than the pleasures of new-laid
eggs and the country, till, having finished one glass of gin and
water, he undertook to explain to his friend how it was that he also
could leave off business like a squire. Nor was this personal investigation
of private family affairs rendered less unpleasant by the indelicate
egotism which induced the exhibitor to illustrate his friend's
faults by his own virtues; till, though repeatedly requested to "drop
it," Tweasle wound up his harangue by calling his host a fool.
"You're a fool, Gingham. You might ha' been as well off as I
am at the present moment, if you hadn't lived at such a rate, like a
The lady of the house instantly arose, and left the room in company
with her daughters, telling Mr. Tweasle "they were going to bed;"
and Mr. Gingham leant over the table to inform his guest, "he had
no wish to quarrel."
Of the rest of that evening Tweasle the next day retained a very
confused recollection. He thought some one pushed him about in a
passage, and remembered his wife's assisting him to put on his great-coat
in the middle of the street.
At the appointed hour, the glass-coach which was to convey the
family from London stopped at the foot of Snow-hill. Mr. Tweasle
was the first to jump in; the person to whom the business had been
advantageously disposed of, gave his hand to Mrs. Tweasle, and then
turned to say farewell to her husband.
"All I've got in this blessed world I made in that shop," said
Tweasle, anxious to give his successor a high opinion of the bargain,
and leave a good name behind him. "The many—many—happy—peaceful
days I've seen in it!—I can't expect to see them again!—On
a Saturday and on a Monday I've often been fit to drop behind
my own counter, quite worn out with customers. I'm afraid I've
done a rash thing; but I've this consolation, I've left the business in
"Come, don't look dull, Tweasle," cried his wife, who was imposed
on by her husband's pathetics: "cheer up! You know trade ain't
what it was, and I'm sure the two last years must have been a
It is impossible to say whether he who had bought or he who had
sold the business looked most appalled by this untimely truth. However,
Tweasle was the first to recover himself: he took his victim
affectionately by the hand, and, leaning forward, whispered in propitiatory
confidential accents, "Always put a little white pepper in
Alderman Heavyside's Welsh, or he'll think you've adulterated it."
But the successor was hurt past such slender consolation. With
lofty integrity he spurned the advice of his deceiver; for, jerking
his hand away, and looking Tweasle sternly in the face, he said, "Sir,
I shall do my duty!" and he strutted into the shop; whereupon the
coach began to move.
Disposed by this little incident to sadness, its late occupant looked
at the house till his eyes watered. He was no longer a "public
man;" his opinion of the weather was now of no importance; he
might henceforth loiter over his dinner undisturbed by any thought
of the shop! Feelings such as these could not be suppressed, and
Tweasle was about to apostrophise, when his gentle partner startled
him by exclaiming,
"Thank our stars, we're off at last!" and, catching a glimpse of the
house as the coach turned into Hatton-garden, she added, "there's
the last of it, I hope; I never wish to set eyes on the hole again!"
"Don't be ungrateful," said Tweasle, chidingly. "That roof has
sheltered me near forty years."
"Well, it was a nuisance to live in it,—no place to dry a rag in
but the servant's bed-room."
"And Martha made you give her rum and water, mother, or else
she would catch cold," added the son.
"Stop there!—stop there!—stop!" a voice was heard to cry.
"That can't be for us," observed Mrs. Tweasle.
As if in the spirit of matrimonial contradiction, her husband the
next moment exclaimed, "By George! it is though!"
It proved to be a debtor, who had journeyed to London in consequence
of some information which had been afforded him by an attorney.
Three hundred and odd pounds were in his pocket ready for
disbursement, if Mr. Tweasle would accompany him to an inn in the
Borough, and there go through the account This was vexatious.
The fear of losing the money had long disturbed the late tobacconist's
mental monotony, and now the certainty of its payment absolutely
angered him. He turned to his lady, and said to her in a voice of
"Hanney, I shall go. Don't you wait for me, do you hear? I
shall walk probably in the evening down to Hornsey,—when I've
given a receipt for the money. Now, sir, I'm at your service. Will
you show the way?"
"Please to remember a poor fellow who wants works," said a florid
muscular mendicant, thrusting his huge hand close to the late tobacconist's
face.—"The fellow must have overheard the arrangement,"
thought Tweasle; and an undefined feeling of alarm took the roses
from his cheeks. As he hastily threw the man a few pence, he delivered
some very profound remarks upon the Vagrant Act.
"Hanney, dear," cried he in a loud voice, while the beggar was
stooping for the money, "don't make yourself uneasy, but set the
steel-traps. I have pistols,—mind that, love,—I have pistols!" for,
afraid to acknowledge his own terror, he found relief in supposing
that others were more timid than himself.
Leaving his wife, Tweasle walked to the inn, where he remained
till all the items of a long bill had been discussed, when the clock
announced the hour of nine, and then the debtor insisted on being
asked to supper, so that it was fairly half-past ten before Tweasle left
So long as the lights of London illumined his way, he proceeded in
comparative composure, only occasionally feeling at his coat-pockets
to assure himself that the pistols were safe; but when the unaided
darkness announced that he had quitted the extremest outskirts of
the metropolis, Mr. Tweasle paused, and audibly informed himself
that "he was not afraid:" on receiving which information, he buttoned
his coat closer, slapped his hat firmer on his cranium, frowned, and
shook his head; and, endeavouring to act bravery, took a pistol in
either hand as he marched onward with every symptom of excessive
He had not more than two miles farther to proceed, when the distant
notes of St. Paul's cathedral announced the hour of midnight.
At this time Tweasle was creeping along a lane rendered gloomy by
high and parallel hedges, which inclosed fruitful pastures, and prevented
grazing cattle from being impounded; at a little distance from
him, behind one of these "leafy screens," stood a "pensive brother,"—a
fine he-ass, which had retired thither to nibble the tender shoots
of the mellifluous hawthorn.
As the last vibration died away, he stumbled into a cart-rut. On
recovering his perpendicular, panting from the unnecessary exertion
he had used, the poor traveller stared around him, and endeavoured
to survey the place whereon he was standing. It was a gloomy spot,—one
unrelieved mass of shade, in which the clouded heavens seemed
to harmonize; everything was in awful repose,—the night was cold,
but not a zephyr was abroad. Painfully oppressed by the utter loneliness
of his position, a sense of extreme lassitude gradually crept
over Tweasle,—he closed his eyes, and shuddered violently; he
could have wept, but the fear of being afraid made him suppress the
"This is a dreadful place!" he said aloud, with much gravity;
"just such a spot as a murder might be committed in. I'm very glad
Scarcely had he uttered the words, when the donkey thrust forward
his "pensive nose," and shook the hedge by pulling at a switch
of more than common luxuriance. "I'll sell my life dearly!" was
Tweasle's first sensation,—it could hardly be called idea, it was too
confused,—as, preparing for attack, he instinctively clapped one hand
upon his money, while with the other he presented a pistol towards
the spot whence the noise proceeded. Not being, as he expected,
immediately assaulted, he by a violent exertion of his mental powers
so far mastered his bodily alarm as to gulp first and then breathe.
He listened,—all was still. "They didn't know I was armed," thought
Tweasle; "it was lucky I showed them my determination:" and, in
something bordering upon confidence in the effects of his own courage,
he ventured to whisper "Who's there?" when, receiving no
answer, he increased his demand to "Who's there, I say?" in a
somewhat louder voice. He was anxiously waiting the result of this
boldness on his part when the animal, probably attracted by the
sound, slowly moved towards the spot where Tweasle was standing.
"Ah! come—d—n—don't—now—I—I'm armed, you know!"
screamed the traveller, running about and wildly striking right and
left with the pistol, confident that the action this time had positively
commenced; but after some interval, becoming gradually convinced
that he remained unhurt, he was quite satisfied that nothing but the
extraordinary courage he had displayed could have saved him from
this second desperate attempt upon his life; and, somewhat anxious
to support the first dawn of his heroism, he said, or rather stammered,
in a voice not always distinct, "Now—now,—whoever you are,—don't
go too far, because it's no pleasure to me to shoot you;—but I
will, if you do:—so, in the King's name, who are you?—I must fire if
you won't speak!"
The last appeal was made more in the tone of entreaty than command,
for Tweasle beheld a black mass thrust itself against the
hedge, evidently inspecting him. A rush of confused ideas, a tumult
of strange suspicions and surmises, a "regular row" of contending
emotions, deprived him of all self-control; and, if the pistol had not
just at that moment accidentally exploded, he had probably fallen to
the ground. As it was, the noise revived him; and, taking advantage
of the circumstance, with a ready conceit he cried out "There!" for
he had seen the object disappear, and heard a faint cry as of one in
agony,—whereon he walked from the place with every appearance of
But this simulation did not long continue. As he became more
conscious, he grew more agitated: he had probably shot a robber.
For this he felt no remorse, and was persuading himself he would
repeat the act, when he discovered that he had lost his pistols. This
discovery gave him a fearful shock,—he was unarmed! Now came
another dread.—Was the miscreant he had killed alone? or had he
companions? Did not robbers usually congregate in bands; and might
he not be pursued? But Tweasle was adopting the very best mode of
avoiding such a danger, as, long before he asked himself the question,
his walk had quickened into a sort of hand-gallop, which this fresh
terror increased to the wild speed of utter despair. Without slackening
his pace, the affrighted man had nearly reached his home, when a
sharp blow across the shins brought him to the ground, and, looking
up, Tweasle perceived the mendicant of the afternoon, and two other
suspicious-looking fellows standing over him. He could not speak;
but, turning his face downwards, stretched himself upon the earth.
"Are you going to sleep there?" inquired the beggar with a kick
that was violently anti-soporific; and, seeing that Tweasle naturally
writhed under the infliction, the fellow vociferated, "Come, that
didn't hurt you. It's no use shamming here."
"I shan't wait about, all night for him," cried a diminutive gentleman
disguised in a coalheaver's hat worn jockey-fashion, who, seizing
Tweasle by the collar, lifted him from the ground, and giving him a
shake that was sufficient to render any human nerves unsteady for
eternity, asked the tottering man in a voice of angry expostulation,
"Why the devil he couldn't stand still?"
Too terrified to offer the slightest opposition, the unhappy Tweasle
endeavoured to obey, which spirit of accommodation was repaid by
the most scrupulous attentions. With a delicate dexterity that
scarcely acquainted the owner of the abstraction, everything that his
pockets contained was removed without unnecessary delay; and
Tweasle was beginning to hope that the robbers would be content
with their booty, when one of the fellows, anxious to have his clothes
also, told him in the slang phraseology to undress, by shouting,
"Come, skin yourself."
"Skin myself!" cried Tweasle, understanding the words literally,
and bounding from the place in horror of what appeared to him a
refinement on even fictitious barbarity. "Skin myself!—You can't
mean it. I couldn't do it, if you'd give me the world.—It's impossible!—Oh,
"No flash,—it won't do,—you'll undress," said the taller of the
three with a calmness that thrilled his auditor.
"Oh! good gentlemen," continued Tweasle, wishing to touch their
hearts by saying something pathetic, "do consider I'm a married
man!—think of my poor wife!—think of my poor wife!"
"Carry her that 'ere with my compliments," cried the beggar,
dashing his fist into Tweasle's face; an act which was received by the
rest as an excellent joke.
"It will do you no good to ill-use a fellow-creature," replied
Tweasle distinctly, as though the blow had refreshed him. "Don't
think I shall resist; take what you please; only, as you are a man—in
human form—in this world and in the next——"
"Sugar me! You're just agoing it nicely!" interrupted the mendicant.
"I'm blowed if we pads don't teach more vartey than a bench
of bishops. Never in all my born life borrowed on a friend that the
beggar didn't funk pious and grunt gospel."
"But it is a natural impossibility for any man to skin himself."
"We'll do it for you, if you don't begin."
"Oh my heart! No!—Think of something else;—I'm willing to do
anything but that."
"Stow that! Skin yourself,—shake them rags off your ugly pig
of a body;—undress, and be d—d to you!"
Mr. Tweasle, who from this last speech gathered enough to remove
his more horrible misgivings, delicately hinted at the inappropriateness
of the place for such a purpose, the coolness of the night, the
dislike he had to spectators at his toilet, and other things objectionable,
but without effect: his opposition only confirmed the robbers'
resolution, till a smart blow on the left cheek showed that they were
inclined to silence, if they could not convince him.
Reluctantly the old man began to unrobe, parting with his garments
one by one, and begging as a favour he might be allowed to
retain only his waistcoat, on the worthlessness of which he expatiated
till he convinced the plunderers it was of more value than its outside
promised, as proved to be the case, notes to the amount of several
hundreds being found pinned to the lining. They made many mock
apologies for depriving him of this; sarcastically complimenting him
for his modesty, which easily parted with other coverings, but blushed
to expose his bosom: then, kicking him till he fell to the earth, there
they left him.
Mrs. Tweasle reached the Italian villa as it was getting dusk, and
the family sat up till midnight expecting Mr. Tweasle's arrival. As
the hours advanced, the lady became alarmed, and sent Charles with
a tumbler of rum and water into the kitchen, who, on his return,
announced that Martha had declined the kitchen chair in favour of
John's knee. "Never mind," cried the lady, made considerate by her
fears; "such things are thought nothing of in the country." Whereupon
she proceeded, with a strange concatenation of ideas, to state
her opinion of second marriages; lamented that widows' caps were so
difficult to get up; drank a little more rum and water; endeavoured
to divert her mind with the Newgate Calendar, but could not enjoy
it for thinking how cruel it was of Mr. Tweasle not to come home
earlier, and openly protested against sleeping alone in a strange house;
then took upon herself, in Mr. Tweasle's absence, to read prayers and
lock up for the night. The signal for retiring being given, each took
a candlestick; but, before they separated, the mistress entreated all
of them to be very watchful in their sleep for fear of robbers, as she
was certain Mr. Tweasle would not be home that night, and did not
know what his absence might bring about.
The subject being once started, every one tarried to relate some
tale of midnight assassination; and all of them selected a strange uninhabited
dwelling as the scene of their agitating incidents. The
straw and half-opened packages which strewed the apartment gave
the place where they were congregated a cheerless aspect; and they
were excited to a degree of listening silence, and staring inquisitively
at one another, while John recounted how a lady of high respectability
chanced to be sitting by herself in the kitchen of a dilapidated
mansion about two hours after midnight, and looking thoughtfully,
not knowing what ailed her, at a round hole where a knot in the
wainscot had been thrust out, when she saw the large dark sparkling
eye of a most ferocious assassin peeping at her through the opening.
Just as John had reached this point of painful interest, the heavy
foot of a man was heard to pass hastily over the bridge, and the next
moment the front-door was violently shaken. The two females instantly
pinioned John by clinging round him with all the tenacity of
terror, while at the same time they were loud in their demands for
that protection which, had they needed it, he was by them effectually
disabled from affording; while Master Tweasle, seizing the rattle, and
aiding its noise with his voice, in no small degree increased the family
distraction; above which, however, was plainly heard some one without,
using his best endeavours to force the entrance. Whoever that
some one was, he appeared wholly unmindful of secrecy; which palpable
contempt of caution, and open disregard of whatever resistance
the inhabitants might be able to make, greatly increased their fear of
the villain's intentions. At each shock the door sustained, shrieks
were uttered by the women, accompanied by a very spirited movement
by the boy upon the rattle; and the interval between these
assaults Mrs. Tweasle employed in murmuring prayers and complaints
to Heaven and John for the protection of her life and property.
At last the assailant appeared to get exhausted; his attempts gradually
became weaker and less frequent. Emboldened by this, the
family ventured to the first-floor window, whence they could plainly
see what all agreed was a countryman in a white smock-frock pacing
to and fro in front of the house in all the bitterest rage of excessive
"Oh, the wretch!" cried Mrs. Tweasle. "What a good door that
is! I make no doubt he knew the furniture was not unpacked; and,
if he could only have got in, he would have carried it all off before
morning: he must have known Mr. Tweasle was not at home. Oh
Soon after she had spoken, the man seemed to have conquered his
vexation, and, approaching the door, he gave a very decent double
knock; but, not receiving an answer, he knocked again somewhat
louder, and then with all his former violence frequently returned,
making actions as if he were vowing vengeance against the family,
or calling imprecations down upon their heads for their resistance:
but of what he said nothing could be heard, for this conduct so
terrified the women that they screamed and shrieked, and Master
Tweasle, as before, accompanied them on the rattle.
At length the robber, as if despairing of entrance, was seen to
retire, but it was only to change the point of assault; they watched
the villain move towards the back of the house; saw him, with a
lofty courage that disdained at broken bottles, scale the garden-wall;
and to their extreme delight, just as they were certain the back-door
would not hold out, beheld him approach the jessamine bower where
John had on the previous evening set one of the man-traps—and
there he stayed.
A council of war was now held, which would have lasted till morning
had it not been interrupted by Master Charles's firing a blunderbuss
out of the window, thus bravely endeavouring to bring down the
robber at a long shot; and he would have repeated his aim till he
had hit his object, who might be distinctly seen making various
strange contortions near the jessamine bower, had not his mother
forbidden him. The boy, vexed by the check he received, mistook his
ill-humour for bravery, and pettishly volunteered to advance to the
thief, if John would accompany him on the expedition; but Mrs.
Tweasle asked in surprise, "Was she to be left alone at the mercy
of Heaven, without protection?" and John, with strong moral courage
preferring duty to honour, rejected the proposal.
"Well, then," said the lad, "come along, Martha."
"Oh!—me?" cried the girl: "oh, Master Charles!" for the boy,
when he requested her company, only thought that the exchange of
a woman for a man was a vast sacrifice on his part; he never once
considered how the substitution might affect the party it principally
Thus abandoned, he had stayed within, had not his mother insisted
that he should not stir out: filial obedience supplied the place of resolution;
he unbolted the back-door, and in a state of obstinate alarm
issued into the garden.
Advancing cautiously, and by a most circuitous way, the boy approached
the jessamine bower, and there discovered his father writhing
and moaning, with one leg fast in a trap, which, according to
his own orders, had been set for the protection of the cabbages.
"Oh! my dear boy, don't fire any more. It's me, Charles! let
me out of this—I'm dying!"
"Why, if it isn't you, father!—only wait a bit——"
"Wait!—don't talk nonsense!" cried Tweasle, looking at his unfortunate
leg, which was held in the trap, and feeling his condition
aggravated by the supposition that it was one of choice.
"Yes, I'll fetch mother,"
"Hang your mother!—let me out of this!" ejaculated the poor
man, who was no ways desirous of continuing his agony that it might
be made a kind of domestic exhibition of; but, deaf to his parent's
entreaties, the boy ran away, quite full of his discovery. On the
steps he met the maid-servant, whom he rebuked with much coarseness
for appearing alarmed, and presently returned, marching like a
conqueror at the head of a triumph.
All were much surprised at beholding Mr. Tweasle in such a
situation, unrobed and wounded, shivering from cold and terror, and
deprived of all self-command by exhaustion and a man-trap. Mrs.
Tweasle was quite overpowered by the sight: her feelings rather
claimed pity than bestowed it; for while John was removing the
steel trap from his master's legs, she kept moaning, and entreating
her husband only to consider how his conduct had pained her. The
poor maid-servant displayed great goodness of heart; she tenderly
bound her master's naked legs, gently lifted him into the chair that
was brought to convey him into the house, and appeared quite to
overcome the natural delicacy of her sex in the praiseworthy endeavour
to render a fellow-creature every possible assistance; while John and
Master Tweasle seemed more inclined to converse on what had happened
than to mingle in what was taking place, repeatedly putting
questions which the sufferer was incapable of answering, as to wherefore
he did that, or why he did not do this.
Tweasle's injuries were rather painful than dangerous: in a few
days he was convalescent, and was beginning to grow valiant in his
descriptions of his midnight mishaps, when the following hand-bill
was submitted to his notice.
"Whereas a valuable male donkey, the property of Stephen Hedges,
was on the night of the 6th of May last maliciously shot at and killed
by some person or persons unknown; this is to give notice, that
whoever will render such information as shall lead to the conviction
of the offender or offenders, shall receive Five Pounds reward."
For some time after reading this, Tweasle appeared full of thought,
when he surprised his family by a sudden resolution to send Stephen
Hedges five pounds; nor could any remonstrance on the part of his
wife change his charitable purpose. No one could account for this:
in pence the late tobacconist had always been a pattern of benevolence;
but to give pounds was not in the ordinary scale of his charity.
None could assign a reason for so boundless a beneficence,
more than they could comprehend why Tweasle should, whenever
the subject was mentioned, expatiate with so much feeling on "What
the poor ass must have suffered!"