The Bachelor's Darling by Anonymous
On a fine summer's morning, a few years ago, two travellers were observed
by the turnpike-woman, approaching along the high road, towards Bilberry
Gate; both were on foot, and one of them led a very pretty poney, laden
with two or three half-filled sacks, and an assortment of new and
second-hand saucepans, ladles, and similar wares. As they advanced, the
turnpike-woman amused herself, by picking up such crumbs of their
discourse, as the distance between her and the interlocutors would permit;
and by putting what she thus gleaned together, Dame Hetty discovered that
they were strangers to each other;—the tinker's companion having
scraped acquaintance with that worthy only a few minutes before, on the
ground of their both being, apparently, journeying in the same direction.
The tinker, she thought, was about thirty, or two-and-thirty years of age,
at the utmost; he was a rough, thick-set fellow, of a middling size, with
a loud voice and swaggering deportment His companion, Dame Hetty set down
in her own mind as an Irishman, by his brogue;—he was, most likely,
she thought, a beggar or a ballad-singer, or both, by his accoutrements;
he had a wooden leg, a patch over his right eye, and the left sleeve of
his ragged military jacket seemed to be empty. Hetty conjectured from
these appearances that he might be an old soldier; but thought it was more
probable that he had lost his limbs and eye by casualties not produced by
war; and had assumed regimentals, as a striking costume for a maimed
beggar or ballad-singer, although, perhaps, he had never smelt powder
since he fired off penny cannons in his urchinhood.
These ideas came into Dame Hetty's head, without any solicitation on her
part: she cared as little about the travellers as they did about her; but
she looked at them and thought about them merely for want of a better
subject, while she waited at the gate-side in expectation of the tinker's
toll. When the two men and the poney arrived within a few yards of the
turnpike, they turned suddenly to the right, and entered a lane which led
towards a village a few miles off. The poney's tail had scarcely
disappeared, when the dame entered the gate cottage, muttering that this
was the fourth time she had been disappointed, early as it was in the day,
by folks going down the lane instead of coming along the high road. "But,
odd!" said she; "I mustn't expect every horse that comes in sight will
pass the gate, when it's revel-day in the village. If there were a bar,
now, put across the lane, as hath long been talked of, I should ha' caught
the tinker's penny: but though he hath leave, my husband never will do't,
that's certain;—a stupid toad! if 'tweren't for I, he wouldn't have
a hole to put his head in; and much thanks I get! Lord! if I were but a
While Dame Hetty was soliloquizing to the foregoing effect, the tinker and
his companion proceeded at a quiet pace down the lane: the narrow road had
a verdant margin on each side, of considerable breadth; it was broken into
knolls in some parts, and here and there a hawthorn flourished, or a
bramble sheltered a family of tall weeds: the thorns and briars bore
evidence that sheep were occasionally permitted to pasture in the lane; a
horse, with a huge log chained to one of his hind legs, to prevent him
from roaming far, was quietly grazing on one side of the road; and nearly
opposite him, a pig, wearing a collar, as an estoppel to his invading the
fields, by creeping through their hedges, lay dozing on the other, near an
old dung-heap that was nearly covered with "summer's green and flowery
The travellers had proceeded but a few paces down the lane, when they
observed a thin stream of smoke rising from behind a large bush, which
grew within a little distance of the right-hand hedge, and they
immediately turned their steps across the turf towards it. On approaching
nearer, they discovered a tall, lean man, in a plaid cloak, actively
engaged in raking together the embers of a fire, and placing bits of dry
wood upon a little blaze that shot up from its centre. "Is this a gipsy's
old place, I wonder?" said the Irishman; "and is the pedlar, for so I take
him to be, making it up to cook his breakfast?—God save ye kindly!"
continued he, as he came within hearing of the man in the plaid coat.
"Whither awa', friend?" quoth the pedlar.
"Is it to the revel ye're budging, Sawney?"
"What would ye give to ken, Paddy?—And if I were ganging that gate,
why for no, eh?—Ye seem to be cattle for that market yoursel'; wi'
your bits o' ballads, and them scraps or fragments o' mortality ye've
saved fra' the wars. Ye're some broken-down beggar, I doubt Sauf us a'!
isn't it rare to see sic trash perk up to a travelling tradesman, and
address an honest and respactable person wi' a plain 'Sawney?'—a
mon, though I say it, whose bill for sax, ay, or aught pounds, in Bristol
"Aisy! aisy, man!" interrupted the other; "aisy, or we'll quarrel, I'm
sure;—and when I quarrel, I fight; and it isn't before breakfast I
like fighting:—everything's good in its season; so we won't fight
now. As for your bill, though, I'll make bold to say this,—so I
will, any how—as for your bill, I wouldn't give the worst ballad I
have, for the best bill you or the likes o' ye ever made:—but don't
let's be quarrelling, for all that.—Do you mark, though? if you cast
any more dirt upon my person or my goods, I'll indorse that bill of yours,
that sticks up betuxt your two eyes, in the place of a nose, with the fist
that's left me. I'll engage, if I put my hand to it, it won't add much to
its value, if you wished to raise money on it: but aisy, both of us;
quarrelling does no good."
"Come, come,—I like thee for that, comrade," said the third
traveller; "now that's nature;—so shake hands, both of'ee, lads."
"Oh! wid all my heart!" said the Irishman; "Darby Doherty isn't the boy to
bear malice: but when a big fellow, with all his legs and things o' that
kind left, tells me about my fragments, it puts me up—do you see?—puts
me up, sir:—though I'm not one for quarrelling, yet I'd like to have
a pelt at him; but it's before breakfast—Why should he notice my
legs? It's true then, sure enough, I've only one arm, one leg, one wife
and a child;—-just a thing of a sort:—but suppose it's my
fancy to be so; why should he throw it out at me?—wid his dirty pack—his
case of trumpery there!—May be I like number one; why shouldn't I?—Now
if I was given to quarrelling, here's an excuse, isn't there? But I'm not.—How
does he know, tinker—for a tinker I take you to be"—
Here the tinker bowed, and again requested Mister Doherty to shake hands
with the North Briton. By his endeavours, in a few moments, peace was
restored; the Irishman seemed to have forgotten what had passed, but the
Scotchman sat rather sullenly by the side of the fire, which blazed away
very pleasantly. The important subject of breakfast was soon broached, and
Doherty made a proposal to club the contents of their wallets. The tinker
had a loaf of black, dry, barley-bread, and a triangular morsel of cheese,
which, Doherty said, was fit food for cannibals, who wore hatchets in
their mouths instead of teeth. The pedlar drew forth a tin can, containing
a small quantity of meal. The Irishman had nothing eatable, but, as he
assured his companions, an appetite that would make up for the deficiency.
"I never carry any food outside my skin," said he; "when I've a trifle of
money to spare, I invariably invest it in whiskey. I've just nine-pen'orth
in my bottle here now; or may be more, for it wasn't empty when I made the
last purchase; and I'd share it most generously wid ye, if ye'd anything
aqual in value to offer me in return:—but you, tinker, have nothing
but black bread, and a little yellow bit of granite, you call cheese—"
"Nothing,—that's it," replied the tinker; "except a feed for the
poney. He! he! mayhap you'll eat a oat?"
"Oh! go to Otaheite,—where Captain Cook couldn't dress his dinner.
Do you take me for Cęsar, or any similar savage?—And you, Mr.
Pedlar, have nought in your wallet but dry meal, to make cold stirabout,
or a roley-poley bolus, worked up wid water, in the hollow of your hand."
"Didna I tell ye so?" said the pedlar; "and a wee bit it is, as ye may
"And you've nothing in the wide world else?"
"Nought that ye can eat."
"Then ould Ireland for ever! I'm a made man!—If you've nothing
eatable but meal, these red herrings are mine: I just picked them up from
the grass where your pack stood, a while ago, when you were dipping into
it for the meal-can. They can't be yours, you'll own!"
"I tell ye they are, though," cried the pedlar, advancing towards Doherty;
"and what's mair—"
"Aisy, aisy, again, or else we'll quarrel," said Doherty, pushing him
gently aside; "I'll abide by what the tinker says."
"He's an intarasted party," replied the pedlar; "and I'll no constitute
"Well, well, then,—I'll tell you what we'll do;—don't let's
quarrel;—to settle everything amicably, I'll trate you to a herring
a-piece.—You won't? Did you ever see the likes of him?—I'm
sure we'll quarrel: I'm sure we'll have a fight at last; though I wouldn't
for five farthings,—and that's money you'll own;—but Jove
himself couldn't stand this."
"The ballad-singer speaks fair, in my mind, pedlar," quoth the tinker.
"Hech! now, nane o' your havers! I'm no sic a puir daft body as to be
gulled o' my guids, by birds o' your feather; rad harrings dinna swim into
a mon's wallet, wi' whistling; you must bait your fingers wi' siller to
catch them in these pairts,—and groats dinna grow upon bushes
"Well, that's true enough," said the tinker; "give him his fishes, and
we'll buy one a-piece of him."
"Let's know what he'll take, though, before we part wi' them," said the
Irishman; "may be we'd quarrel about the price after."
"Right,—very right," replied the tinker.
"Sirs," quoth the pedlar, "business is bad; the girls dinna pairt with
their hair noo, as they used, for a bauble or so,—a mon must hae
guid guids for them. I'd be free, and invite ye to share wi' me,—but
prudence wouldna tolerate it in ane like me, that has eleven bairns."
"Now that's what I call nature!" exclaimed the tinker with considerable
"An arithmetical excuse for being stingy," quoth Doherty; "Eleven
children! and I've one at home,—which is a bag at his mother's back,—that
would eat as much as any seven of them. I'd another, once, but the
blackguard gipsies coaxed her away from the side of us, when we was
singing, 'Rogues around you,' at Weyhill. They did it by ginger-bread, or
something like it, I think;—bad luck to them!"
"Ay! ay! just as the pigeon people do decoy other folks' young birds by
hemp-seed and salt-cats. Oh! it's natura.—Why, now, there's a chap,
whose sweepings I ha' bought lately."
"Whose what?" inquired Doherty.
"The sweepings of his loft," replied the tinker; "he's a pigeon-keeper,
and I'm a collector."
"Oh! a sort of scavenger to the birds?"
"Ay, truly; there's many dove-cotes hereabouts, and collecting be my main
business; they do use the sweepings in tanning. I pays a shilling a bushel
for'em if they be clean, and so turns an honest penny.—Tinkering
isn't half what it was, since iron crocks have come in so much. To be
sure, the maidens do save the broken spoons for me to melt and mould again
when I comes round; and there's a cullender or so, now and then, to
solder;—but what's that?—I'm a tradesman, as well as the
pedlar, and what's more, a mechanic; but if my trade won't support me, why
should I support my trade, eh?—Well, what did I do; but take to
waddling, as we call it, for wood-ashes to sell to the soap-makers, and
pigeon-cleanings for the tanners; and so I contrives, one way and another,
to make a pretty good bit of bread."
"Is this a specimen?" said the Irishman, taking up the tinker's loaf.—"If
it is, faith! then, the world's but a middling oven for you."
"Stop!—here!" cried the tinker, as Doherty was about to roll the
loaf along the grass: "Don't do that;—my poney is the biggest thief
as ever I knowed,—that is, for a horse. He'd snap it up in no time."
"Would he?—Then I honour him for his talent; though the less we say
about his taste the better. Who taught him them tricks?"
"Why, I did—that is, partly—but somebody stole him from me."
"Musha! then the man who did that, wouldn't scruple to rob a thief of his
"Well, he got into the riders' hands;—them chaps that goes about to
fairs, and revels, you know."
"Yes, I know;—and they finished his education; and when you got him
again he was quite accomplished, without any trouble or expense to
yourself. Tinker, you're a lucky man! I don't think you and I would ever
quarrel upon a point o' conscience."
"No, no;—that wouldn't be natural."
"Friends," observed the Scotchman, "we're wasting time; and time, to a
prudent mon, is siller:—ye're wasting it in idle discourse. The
"Oh! dirty butter upon your herrings and every one of them! Would you pick
a quarrel with me again?" vociferated Darby. "Tinker, bring me one of your
second-hand kettles, or crocks, and let's make soup or something, and go
to breakfast. If you'll club your herrings, your meal, and your bread,—why
then I'll be my whiskey."
The pedlar acquiesced with the best grace a man, who is compelled to give
his consent to a proposition, possibly could: a debate ensued, as to the
best mode of cooking the food; it was, at length, decided that the meal
should be boiled in a gallon of water, and that the herrings should be
broiled, and then put into the pot to give the mess a flavour. "If that
won't make it salt enough," said Darby, "a bit of burnt stick will do the
business royally. The finest salt in the world is the ash of an ash stick.
Now, boys," continued he, "see, here's the whiskey bottle. I'll just hitch
it up, by the string that holds it about my neck, to the branch above us
here;—so that, when we sit down, we can swing it one to the other,
drink, and let go again, without any fear of its being upset Oh, then!
discretion's a jewel any day in the year."
Doherty now began the culinary task, in which he exhibited a considerable
degree of dexterity, considering his bodily deficiencies. While his only
hand was employed in preparing the herrings for the gridiron, with which
the tinker had furnished him, his wooden leg was whirled rapidly round the
crock, to mix up the poor ingredients that served as the basis of his
broth. An onion, which the tinker found in his coat-pocket, was shred and
thrown in, with a few wild herbs, which the pedlar, with his pack safely
strapped to his back, condescended to gather from the adjoining hedge-row.
A steam, at length, began to rise from the crock, which the parties
interested in the contents, found most grateful to their olfactories: the
broiled herrings were immersed in the broth; Doherty drove them,
vigorously, two or three times round the crock; and matters approached
fast to a crisis. The cook exerted himself to his utmost; and, in the
enthusiasm of the moment, perhaps rather over-zealously, took his wooden
leg out of the broth and thrust it beneath the crock to stir up the
embers, when some one, who had approached unperceived by either of the
party, gently touched Darby's elbow. He turned half round, and beheld a
little girl smiling by his side.
"Will you please to tell me, if I am in the right road to the revel, sir?"
said the little girl, in a very winning and innocent tone.
"Is it the road to the revel, darling?" said Darby; "Why, then"—Here
Darby stopped short, and his eye wandered over the features and person of
the young inquirer. She was apparently about ten years of age; her skin
was remarkably fair; and her eyes, as Darby afterwards said, were as blue
and beautiful as little violets. She was dressed in a black stuff frock, a
tippet of the same material, and a seal-skin cap, with a gold band and
tassel, which seemed to have been very recently tarnished by the weather.
She wore gloves, but had neither shoe nor stocking; and the sight of her
delicate, white, little feet, as she held them up, one after the other,
toward the fire to warm them, convinced Darby that she had but very lately
been compelled to walk barefooted.
"Oh! sir, you're burning your wooden leg!" said the little girl, while
Darby was gazing at her, and wondering who and what she could be; and so
absorbed was the worthy ballad-singer in the interesting speculation, that
he had, in fact, forgotten to withdraw his leg from beneath the crock,
where he had just placed it, as will be recollected, when the little girl
touched his elbow. At the moment she advised him of the fact, Darby
received a hint or two that corroborated her assertion;—the flame
had twined up the stem, and rather warmed his stump, and the fire blazed
with such vigour, recruited as it was by the supply, that the broth boiled
over. His two companions, who were close at hand, both observed this
latter circumstance an instant after the child had spoken; the pedlar
cried aloud to Darby to save the broth, and the tinker shouted with glee
to see the Irishman sacrificing his trusty support for the common good.
Doherty did not lose his presence of mind: he withdrew his leg from the
fire, and popped it into the pot;—thus extinguishing the stump,
withdrawing the additional stimulus to the fire, and breaking down the
rebellious head of the herring-broth, by that single and simple act.
The child could not refrain from giggling, miserable as she evidently was,
at the scene; and Darby looked alternately at her and his leg, when he
withdrew it from the pot again, in so droll a manner, that the little girl
burst into a fit of laughter, which the Irishman, very good-naturedly,
subdued, or rather, smothered with kisses.
"Well, my pretty little maid!" said he; "and where have you come from,
"Oh! a long—long way; it's farther than I thought it was when I
"And what do you want at the revel?"
"I mustn't tell you."
"Eh, then! why not, eh?"
"If I was to tell you why I mustn't, you'd know what I wanted at the
"And where's your stockings and shoes? Have you put them in your pocket,
as the girls do in Ireland?"
"No, indeed;—I wore them out yesterday."
"And how far have you walked barefoot?"
"Oh! ever so far!"
"And how far's that?"
"I can't tell.—Is this the road to the revel?"
"It is;—but what hurry? Won't you wait and take pot-luck with us?"
"I'm hungry, thank you, sir, but I don't think I could eat any pot-luck,—it
smells so odd; I never tasted pot-luck in my life; but I thank you, sir,
for all that, you know."
"Now, do you hear that? Do you hear the innocence of her? God send we'd
better for you!—though you won't tell us where you come from."
"I shouldn't wonder but she hath been stole away," said the tinker; "stole
away, and carried afar, and now hath got liberty, and is seeking home
again. That's nature, you know:—a pigeon would do it; a carrier, a
horseman, a dragoon, or a middling good tumbler even; and why shouldn't a
"Wha may ye be in mourning for, my wee lassie?" inquired the pedlar. He
was proceeding to ask something about her father and mother, when Darby
put his hand on the pedlar's mouth, and whispered "Wisht! wisht! why not
now, eh?—Aisy, or well quarrel. Don't you know, you old snail, you!
that a child in black should never be axed who it's worn for? May be her
mother's dead," continued he, raising his voice, and fondling the child as
he spoke; "and your goose of a question raised her dead ghost up to the
little one's memory. Look there—see that now—if the tears
ar'n't running out of her eyes: may be she hasn't a father;—and you—ye
spalpeen, to hurt her feelings that way I Oh! fie upon you, sir!"
"Eh, mon! dinna prate; it's your ain sel' that did the business.—Come
hither, lassie! lassie, come hither!—Could you eat—that is,
ha' ye appetite for—a bit of a harring, daintily broiled? An' ye
could stomach it, I hae just ane in my pack, and I'll broil it mysel', and
ye shall eat it wi' a bit o' biscuit, I think there may be in the pack
The child smiled in the pedlar's face, and, with a nod, signified that she
would accept his offer. The pedlar then produced a fine herring from a
corner of his pack, and after a diligent search, discovered a piece of
biscuit, which he gave the little girl, who curtsied as she took it These
transactions by no means gratified Mr. Doherty: he was in a passion with
the pedlar; first, for possessing a fourth herring; and secondly, for
alluring their little guest with it from his arms: he also considered the
North-Briton's emphatic offer to broil it himself, as a sneer upon his own
culinary achievements. Darby was actually at a loss for words to express
his feelings, and he had recourse to action: thrusting his hand deep into
his bosom, and twisting his hip to meet it, he seemed to be diving into
some pouch, that was rarely visited, and difficult of access. In rather
more than a minute, his hand re-appeared, with a little odd-shaped bundle
of rags in its clutch. With the aid of his teeth, he contrived to take off
several pieces of ribbon and linen, and, at length, a small metal
snuff-box, in the shape of a high-heeled and sharp-toed shoe, emerged from
the mass He opened it and took out a sixpence. "There," said he, (for he
had now recovered his speech,) throwing the coin toward the pedlar, "take
the price of your herring and biscuit, and give me the change.—She
shan't be behoulden to you!—Little one!" continued he, addressing
the child, "don't listen to him; don't bite at his bait, nor don't go wid
him, darling.—Will I tell you what he is?—He's one o' them
people that cuts the long hair off the girls' heads, and gives them
gew-gaws for it He'll take you under a hedge, or, may be, when you're
asleep, pull out a big pair of shears and clip off all them pretty locks,
Which he'd make shillings of again, from the hair-merchants; for I see
you've longer hair than most maids of your age; and, faith! it's
beautiful, and he knows it He's looking at it as a cat would at a mouse.—He's
a bad man, my dear."
"Is he?" said the little girl, apparently half alarmed, but still feeling
rather inclined to doubt Darby Doherty's account of the pedlar;—"Is
he a bad man?—Then why do you stay with him?"
"I won't—no, not while you'd whistle, after I've ate his herrings;—that
is, if you'll come wid me.—Will you?"
"Perhaps," replied the little girl, "he'll say you are a bad man; and then
what can I do?"
At this the tinker laughed and muttered something about nature. The pedlar
still held the child, and putting his hand under her chin, turned her face
upwards, and then looking down upon her, spoke thus;—"My wee woman,
I hae eleven bairns, some younger than yoursel', and I wouldna harm sic a
puir, wee, defenceless child as thee, for the worth of an ingot of pure
gold; it would weigh down my heart on a death-bed, and carry my soul into
the sorrowfu' pit I'm a tradesman, and traffic in hair, as he has just
told you, and have a family,—eleven bairns, a wife, myself, a daft
brither, my first wife's aged and bed-ridden mither, and a sister's son,
as wee and as fatherless as ye seem yoursel';—saxteen mouths to find
food for to-day and to-morrow, and every morn that I rise. I travel far
and near to get it."
"Just like a good cock-pigeon," interrupted the tinker; "I've known an old
bird feed the young squeakers in one nest, and his mate to boot, while she
was setting over her eggs in another:—tightish work!—but there—it's
"And I dinna scruple," continued the pedlar, without noticing the
interruption of his companion; "I dinna scruple to do my best, and barter,
as well as I can, in order to get bread and cheese;—but not with the
like o' thee, cherub. I canna' take thee by adoption, for I hae eleven o'
my ain.—I'll hold out no temptation o' that sort; but I'll carry
thee, on the head o' my pack, safe and clear to the revel, if there's ony
there ye hae a wish to see."
"For that matter," cried the tinker, "she can ride a-top of my poney, with
the pots and that."
"Oh! don't be bothering!" shouted Doherty; "she shall ride upon my wooden
leg, or anywhere about me, for have her I will; to the revel she goes wid
me, right or wrong, in spite of man or baist, tinkers, tay-kettles,
pedlars, packs, pilfering ponies, and the whole fratarnity of ye.—I've
said it, and so it shall be.—How do I know,—answer me this,—how
do I know that she isn't the child I lost long ago, eh?—That was a
girl, and isn't this a girl? Now don't be trying to bother my brains with
a reply.—Darby Doherty is my name, and I'm to be found any day, here
or there, one place or another, if you go the right road.—Pedlar,
stop thief! the tinker has stole a herring out of the pot."
"Ay, truly, it's time to fall to," quoth the tinker.
"Wait a moment!" exclaimed the Irishman; "one moment, and we'll all begin
amicably. Hear what I've to say:—I've spoken what I thought about my
honourable friend the pedlar's scheme on the little one; and why mayn't I
indulge in an idea that the worthy tinker, in offering to let his poney
carry her, doesn't speculate—bad luck to his black paws, how he's
streaked the broth!—doesn't speculate upon the value of the child's
ear-rings and little necklace?—So, for these reasons, I'll let
neither of you have her:—now I'm aisy."
"Why, do you mean to throw out hints—" said the tinker, laying his
herring on the grass, and advancing with a formidable frown and clenched
fists toward Darby; "dost thee mean—"
"Now don't babble; the question's settled," said Darby; "don't prate, or
"And I'll be jiggered if we don't,—whether thee likes or not. I'll
stand up for my own character;—it's nature:—so ax pardon, or
"Strip! How the devil do you think I'd ever get my rags on again, eh? Ha!
"Come, come; a joke won't carry it off; it's too heavy. Talk to I about
her rings!—I—I—I—Oh! d—n thee! I'll thrash
The ballad-singer held up his stumps, and hopping back two paces, cried,
"What, would you assault one with not a plural offensive or defensive
"Oh! dang that!—thee'rt right, though;—it's natural Here,
pedlar, help me to tie up my leg and arm, and put thy neckerchief athirt
my eye:—fair play's the word."
The little girl now screamed loudly, and beseeched the pedlar to
interfere. "Oh! pray, dear Mr. Pedlar, don't let them fight! Oh! he's
going to kill the poor man with the little wooden leg!"
"Do ye hear—do ye hear?" exclaimed the pedlar, "how the bit creature—the
cause o' your quarrel—"
"Oh! pray let me run away," sobbed the child; "and then perhaps they'll be
friends;—do let me go!"
"Stay, darling," quoth Doherty; "rather than frighten the child, I'll
consent to apologize:—the heat of the argument made me singe the
whiskers of my friend the tinker's honour;—but if the child wasn't
where she is, and we were after breakfast, just now, right or wrong,
tinker, we'd quarrel."
"But not fight, it strikes me," muttered the pedlar.
Calm was again restored, and the trio sat down to their breakfast. The
tinker's loaf was divided; each man devoured his herring, and the soup was
dipped out of the crock, and drank from a little second-hand saucepan,
which alternately served each of the party. Darby's bottle, which was
suspended from the branch above, before the meal was half concluded, had
neatly proved an apple of discord between the tinker and the pedlar. Darby
began, by taking a tolerably good sup of the contents; he then swung the
bottle to the pedlar, who held it so long to his lips, that the honest
tinker became alarmed lest he should not obtain his share. The pedlar did
not withdraw the bottle from his mouth; and when he raised it to an angle
of nearly forty-five degrees with the horizon, the tinker could no longer
sit easy on the turf. He started up, rushed across the crock, which he
upset in his transit, seized the pedlar by the throat with one hand, and
clutched the bottle with the other.
"Hold hard!" said he; "not a drop more goeth down thy gullet! Quit thy
hold o' the bottle, or I'll choke thee I—I will, faith!—it's
natural:—thou hast had my bread, let me share in the whiskey."
The residue of the broth made the fire hiss and send forth fumes, the
odour of which was truly disgusting. The little girl screamed again, and
Darby Doherty was in high hopes that the brawny pedlar would have resented
the tinker's attack on his person: but he was disappointed.
"You'll excuse me," said the tinker, bowing as he succeeded in obtaining
possession of the bottle. "You'll excuse me, but, truly—"
"Dinna mention it, friend," quoth the pedlar. "I was wrong—I forgot
mysel';—it was vara well of ye to look to your ain:—I forgot
mysel', and should have taken it down to the ultimate drop; it glides away
like a joyful dream. It's Farintosh, I doubt: and vara excellent gude as
I've tasted for mony a day."
The child was much amazed to see storm and calm succeed each other so
rapidly; she felt alarmed at those whom chance had made her associates and
would-be protectors; but appetite mastered fear, and she soon dried her
eyes, and ate the remainder of a piece of the herring which the pedlar had
broiled for her while his companions were debating, and the biscuit he had
discovered in his pack.
After breakfast, the question as to who should take the child to the
revel, was again started. Each of the men spoke resolutely; and a third
quarrel was already budding, when the little girl stood up between the
brawlers, and proposed that, as all three of them were so kind as to wish
to take her, and neither of them would let her go with either of the
others, she should walk on alone; or, that all of them should go with her
An immediate assent was given to this proposal; the motion, as Darby said,
was carried by acclamation; and preparations were immediately made for
starting. While the pedlar was buckling on his pack, the poney neighed;
and the tinker exclaimed, "Who comes hither, I wonder, a-horseback?"
"Faith, no one that I see or hear, a-horseback or a-foot," replied the
"Ay, but there do, though, sure as death," said the tinker; "my poney
yean't no false prophet I'll lay pints round, a horse is coming: I won't
swear for a man,—mind me;—but a horse I be sure of:—and,
look—dang me if 'tean't Parson Hackle!"
"And who's he, then?" inquired the Irishman, as a tall, thin, middle-aged
man, in a black coat, with long leathern leggings, reaching from his toes
to his hips, and mounted on a fat, ambling, old coach-horse, turned from
the high-road, into the lane. "I'll just make my obedience and compliments
to him as he goes by."
"Thee'st better not," said the tinker.
"Why not, then?—May be he'd drop me a keenogue and be civil."
"Not he, friend; he's a magistrate, and though a good man in the main,
mortally hates beggars."
"Beggars!" exclaimed the Irishman; "sir, I'm a wandering minstrel—one
of the tribe of Orpheus of ould; who, as the song says, the stones
followed; and who, moreover, could move stocks themselves with his music:—maning,
I suppose, that he often got pelted by bad boys, and whistled himself out
of the stocks, with no thanks to the beadle.—Musha! that I mightn't,
"Well! I can only tell thee, lad," said the tinker, "Parson Hackle looks
as black at a ballad-singer, as his brother, the 'squire, do at a man who
happens to be misfortunate wi' a maiden."
"Bad luck to the pair o' them then!"
"So say I," quoth the tinker; "I ha' been in their clutches afore now, and
I'll warrant the person you spoke of couldn't ha' bought his liberty wi'
an old song, if he got into their wooden gaiters."
"Oh! sir, sir! pray—dear sir!" said the little girl, who had several
times in vain attempted to make herself heard, during the preceding
dialogue between Darby and the tinker, "did you say the gentleman's name
"Yea, I did, troth!" replied the tinker; "Parson Hackle."
"Parson Hackle!" repeated the little girl; "where is he going?"
"Down to the revel, I reckon," said the tinker, "like we be; only he goeth
a-horseback, and we poor folks a-foot; and he goeth to help to keep the
peace, and we, mayhap, to help to break it. I can't answer for myself,
much more for my friends, after one o'clock."
The tinker was right in his supposition that the reverend gentleman was on
his way to the scene of the revel, and necessity compels us to accompany
him; leaving the little girl and her three friends, to follow us at their
leisure. The Reverend Reginald Hackle rode on at a quicker pace than his
steed was accustomed to: Reginald partook, in some degree, of the
hereditary impatience of the Hackles; the humour broke out but rarely, for
Reginald's life was as seldom ruffled, as the gentle stream which glode
along by the garden-hedge of his quiet abode: but he was now on his way to
pass a few hours with his brother Archibald, whom he had not seen for a
number of years; and the old horse, unused to such exertions as those to
which his reverend rider, on this occasion, urged him, smoked like a
dumpling recently lifted from a crock, by the time he reached the village.
Hackle Hall, the ancient and odd-looking edifice, toward which Reginald
turned his horse's head, on emerging from the lane, was the residence of
his elder brother, Sir Waldron; a man noted, as the tinker had stated in
other words, for being harsh and unforgiving to those rural rakes, from
whom scarcely any village in the kingdom is free. Neither Sir Waldron nor
Reginald was married; their younger brother, Archibald, had a wife and a
large family. Reginald, in addition to his duties as the pastor of a
neighbouring parish, educated six or eight youths of the first families in
the county, and Archibald had agreed to place his only boy, Waldron, under
Reginald's care, for three or four years, in compliance with the reverend
gentleman's affectionate and frequent invitations. He had stolen away from
London, leaving business, as he said, to take care of itself for a few
days, and brought young Waldron down with him. Reginald was absent on his
arrival, at a considerable distance, relative to certain affairs, the
arrangement of which he would have postponed, had he been made acquainted
with Archibald's intended visit; but the latter had determined, very
suddenly, on the journey. On taking a mental glance at his affairs one
morning, while he was discussing a glass of sherry and a sandwich, at
Garraway's, he discovered that there was nothing remarkably pressing, in
the way of business, for some days forward: the funds were closed; two or
three holidays at the public offices occurred in the ensuing week; he had
not been out of town, except to fetch his family from a watering-place,
for years past; he yearned to see his brothers,—and sent a
ticket-porter to book places by the Exeter mail of the same evening. Young
Waldron had scarcely time to take leave of his mother and sisters; and as
to packing up his clothes, Mrs. Hackle declared such an exploit to be
impossible. "Then what the devil is there in these, my love?" said
Archibald, pointing to two trunks, a portmanteau, a carpet-bag, a bundle,
and a hat-box, which lay before him. Mrs. Hackle replied, that they merely
contained a change of linen, or so, and a few immediate necessaries
for himself and his son. "Then, I suppose," said he, "Waldron may expect
the main body of his baggage by the broad-wheeled waggon."
Partings and meetings between relatives are seldom of any interest except
to those immediately concerned in them: we shall not, therefore, indulge
in a description of what took place at the departure of Archibald and his
son from Mrs. and the six Misses Hackle, nor of what Reginald said to
Archibald, or Archibald said to Reginald, during the first ten minutes of
their interview at Hackle Hall. We rather prefer relating the conversation
of the three brothers after they had made a tolerable lunch on a cold
pigeon-pie and two quarts of very respectable ale.
"Well, brother Archibald," said the reverend gentleman as soon as the tray
was removed, "and, pray, what aspect does your native place wear to your
eye, since your long absence from it?—But you were so young when you
quitted it, for a dismal, smoky, London-merchant's 'counting-house, that I
suppose all recollection of it must have escaped your memory."
"That's the positive truth," replied Archibald; "if I had remembered the
place and its people; if the least remnant of a sample had cleaved to me,
not even the pleasure of seeing you and Waldron, would have induced me to
have quitted the metropolis to pay it a visit."
"You amaze me!" exclaimed Reginald; "the hospitality—"
"Oh! I've had enough of hospitality, believe me; and so had Gulliver, in
the arms of the Brobdignag monkey, who ran away with him, and poked pounds
of nauseous chewed food out of its own jaws into his; people are sometimes
offensively, cruelly hospitable. Here, now, for instance, was I taken
yesterday, by my brother, for a treat—mark me—to dine with one
"Almost the sole remaining specimen," interrupted Sir Waldron, "of the
fine, old-English, West-country yeomen;—a race, alas! now nearly
extinct I honour the man: he farms his own land; sends his sons to the
plough; his daughters to the spinning-wheel, and his wife to the chum. He
keeps up all the good old customs of the country; raises the mistletoe on
his beam at Christmas, and dances round the May-pole, with his buxom dame,
at seventy, as gay at heart, though not as light of limb, as he did at
twenty: I repeat, that I honour such men."
"Honour them as much as you please, Waldron," replied Archibald; "honour
them, and welcome; but, I beseech you, do not entrap me to honour another
of them,—if, indeed, there be such another blade as old Jehoshaphat,
hereabouts,—with any more visits. First, brother Reginald, conceive
the misery, if you can, of dining in a room, falsely designated a parlour,
with a sanded floor! My teeth were set on edge every time I moved a foot."
"Ay, but, brother, provided the table be well covered," observed Reginald,
"one might, methinks, even put up with a clean, dry, sanded floor."
"Ay, ay, keep him to that, Reginald," said Sir Waldron; "the table was,
indeed, well covered. I have not dined so well these three weeks. We had a
full course of downright thoroughbred old-English dishes;—Devonshire
dainties of the first water; such as that transcendant lyrist, Robert
Herrick, himself, when he dwelt in this country, doubtless, occasionally
feasted on; compared with which, your modern kickshaws, your town messes,
and hashes, and fricassees, and starved turtle, brother Archibald, are as
chaff, compared with its own grain. You shall judge, Reginald: among other
things, there was a remarkably fine-flavoured muggot-pie;—a dish, of
which, I find, by an old manuscript, in our library, that the talented and
virtuous Raleigh, was remarkably fond, and moreover partook, three days
previously to his execution."
"In my opinion," said Archibald, "a man who would be fool enough to prefer
"It's fine eating, Archibald," quoth Sir Waldron; "would that you had
tasted it!—and Sir Walter was a great man;—fine eating, on the
honour of a gentleman."
"What! calves' tripe baked in a pie, fine eating!" said Archibald; "if
this be the result of your dwelling in Devonshire—"
"I never was out of it but thrice in my life," said Sir Waldron; "and each
time I had cause to repent of my folly.—But, to waive the muggot—had
we not, also, parsley-pie?—"
"Made, as its name implies, of the herb that's used for garnish!"
"A horrible mixture of mutton-chops, apples, onions, and fat bacon!—Most
abominable!—the stench was enough to have defeated an army of
civilized beings. In fact, the dinner given by Peregrine Pickle's friend,
the physician, in imitation of the ancients—"
"The ancients fed well," observed Reginald; "Heliogabalus—"
"Was a nincompoop to Queen Elizabeth's cook," added Sir Waldron, rather
warmly; "whose mistress was served with fine natural meat and drink—"
"Such as muggot, squab, and parsley-pies, I suppose," quoth Archibald.
"The appetites of the Romans," continued Sir Waldron, "were, in latter
times, depraved; and so is my brother Archibald's. Smollett very justly
ridicules the feasts of the ancients, in that passage of Peregrine Pickle,
"Really, brother Waldron," interrupted Reginald, while a slight blush
tinged his cheek, "I must entreat of you to pass on to some other subject;
you know we never agree on this: if I have a failing—if, said
I?—I meant, that, among my numerous failings, that of being slightly
irritable, when the glorious masters of the world are attacked, by one who
cannot appreciate them, is, I am sorry to say, very conspicuous."
"Exceedingly so, Reginald," replied Sir Waldron; "and if I have a virtue
in the world—I beg pardon—among my numerous virtues, that of
standing forth, manfully, for the customs of old England, and defending
its literature against any man who presumes to set up the cold, classical,
marbly stuff of the Greeks or Romans, in preference, is, certainly, I am
proud to say, most paramount."
"Pindarum quisquis studet emulari, brother Waldron," exclaimed
Reginald; but he was cut short, in his intended quotation, by Archibald,
who said, "And if I plume myself on any merit of mine,—except, from
my boyhood, always having balanced to a fraction,—it is on that of
preferring a good carpet to a sanded floor; a Hoby's boot to a hob-shoe; a
tooth by Ruspini, to fill up a gap made by time, to no tooth at all; a
calf by Sheldrake, to make my left match with my right, to an odd pair of
legs; a good dinner of fish, flesh, and fowl, at Guff's, or the Albion, or
in my own dining-room, to muggot, parsley, or squab pies, in Devonshire; a
glass of claret to poor pinch-throat cider; punch to such filthy messes as
buttered ale (hot ale with sugar, butter and rum!) or meaty-drinky
(ale made thick with flour!); and the company of two or three intelligent
men over a bottle or a bowl, to all the famous authors, from Homer
downwards, Greek, Roman, and English; not one of whose works I ever found
half so useful as the Tables of Interest, Patterson's Roads, or the London
This speech by no means raised Archibald in the estimation of either of
his brothers. Sir Waldron thrust his hands deep into his pockets, and
began whistling "Lillibullero." Reginald sighed, and said to the man of
business, in rather a doleful tone, "But, surely, brother, you have not
forgotten your Horace; we were class-fellows together; you cannot be blind
to the beauties of those illustrious names—"
"Chaucer, Sidney, Spencer,"—said Sir Waldron.
"Euripides, Sophocles,"—quoth Reginald.
"Ford, Decker, Marlow," thus the baronet proceeded; "Fletcher, Jonson,—"
"Ha, ha!" exclaimed Archibald; "a list of very good people in their day,
no doubt;—indeed, they were clever, for I know it;—but there's
not one of the names you have mentioned would make a bill five farthings
the better in Lombard Street."
"But don't you ever read, brother Archibald?" asked the reverend
gentleman, very earnestly.
"Ay," said Sir Waldron; "don't you sometimes take down a book to amuse
"Oh! yes; very often," was the reply.
"Greek or Roman?"—
"Shakespeare, Donne, Randolph,—or what book, brother Archy?"
"My ledger, or bill-book, brother Waldron," replied Archibald. His two
brothers, on hearing this, immediately rose from their chairs, and walked
to different ends of the room. "You may talk of interest, and pathos, and
so forth," continued Archibald, "as much as you please, but, egad! I find
more pathos in that folio of my ledger, where Crumpton, Brothers, and
Cross are debited items, to the tune of seven thousand pounds (speaking
roundly), and their assignees credited with a dividend of
seven-pence-halfpenny in the pound, than ever I did in all the works you
have mentioned. The account of Crumpton, Brothers, and Cross is real;
invoices and delivery-receipts may be produced to establish all the items:
but the tales of your poets are generally altogether, and always in part
fictitious, like the begging letters which the Mendicity people expose.
Now, I can't see, for the soul of me, why men in their senses can ever be
such asses as to invent and write tales of sorrow; as if there wasn't
enough of boną fide grief in the world already:—or how-, to
go further, people can read, and suffer themselves to be affected by such
woeful stories, when they have troubles enough of their own to cry over;
and, moreover, when they know that what they are perusing with aching
hearts, is a farrago of lies:—and, egad! the greater the lie, it
seems, the greater the merit;—lying, in this way, is called
imagination. Why, sir, if any given author of eminence, were to tell half
as many falsehoods in person as he does in print, upon my honour and
credit, if he wasn't reckoned a fool, he'd certainly get kicked out of
every house in the metropolis,—at least all those I visit."
"Brother, brother!" exclaimed Sir Waldron, "I cannot listen to this
"Nor I; indeed, I cannot," said Reginald. "But, perhaps, my brother Archy
preferreth the authors of modern days, and they delight him to the
exclusion of the fine old spirits of past ages."
"Not so—not so, indeed," replied Archibald; "they are all the same
to Archibald Hackle. I would rather have a good dinner than the finest
feast of reason that ever enthusiast described. I prefer a roasting pig to
Bacon; a Colchester oyster to Milton; a cut of the pope's-eye to Pope's
Homer; an apple-tart to-Crabbe; Birch's real turtle to Ovid's Art of Love;
and a roasted potato to Murphy. While others embark in man-of-war,
frigate, merchantman, heavy Dutch lugger, hoy, yacht, bum-boat, gondola,
canoe, funny, or other craft, for the wide ocean of literature—let
me enjoy myself in port. 1 would, any day, barter a volume of Sheridan
for a bottle of Dan sherry;—a second quarto for the first pottle of
strawberries, or a book by—"
"Brother Archibald, pr'ythee do not run on at this rate," interrupted Sir
Waldron; "you, surely, are not so lost to all intellectual delights as you
pretend; you cannot be always employed at your business or your bottle;—to
say the least, you must have some time to kill."
"Kill! kill time!—Oh, dear! no," replied Archibald; "you know
nothing about the matter. Time travels too fast by half to please me;—I
should like to clip the old scoundrel's pinions. The complaints which 1
have heard, occasionally, of time passing away so slowly, ennui,
and what not, are to me miraculous. Time seems to travel at such a deuce
of a rate, that there's no keeping pace with him. The days are too short
by half so are the nights; so are the weeks, the months, and the years. I
can scarcely get to bed before it's time to get up; and I haven't been up
but a little time, apparently, before it's time to go to bed. I can but
barely peep at the Gazette, or any matter of similar interest in the
papers, and swallow an anchovy-sandwich, and a couple of cups of coffee,
when it's time to be at the'counting-house. By the time I have read the
letters and given a few directions, it's time to be in a hundred places;—before
1 can reach the last of, them, it's time to be on 'Change;—I don't
speak to half the people there, to whom I have something to say, before
it's time to reply to correspondents; and my letters are scarcely written
before it's post and dinner time. Farewell business!—but then
there's no time for enjoyment: dinner, wine, coffee, supper, and punch,
follow in such rapid succession,—actually treading on each other's
heels,—that there's no time to be comfortable at either of them.
It's the same in bed;—a man must sleep fast, or time will get the
start of him, and business be behind-hand an hour or two, and everything
in disorder next morning.—If I accept a bill for a couple of months,
it's due before I can well whistle: my warehouse rents are enormous; and,
upon my conscience, Lady-day and her three sisters introduce themselves to
my notice, at intervals so barely perceptible, that the skirt of one of
the old harridans' garments has scarcely disappeared, before in flounces
another. It's just as bad with the fire-insurances, and a thousand other
things,—little matters as well as great: a man can scarcely pick his
teeth before he's hungry again. The seasons are drawn by race-horses; my
family has barely settled at home after a trip to Buxton, Brussels, or
elsewhere, before summer comes round, and Mrs. H. pines for fresh air and
an excursion checque again. I can scarcely recover the drain made on my
current capital, by portioning one daughter, before another shoots up from
a child to a woman; and Jack This or Tom T'other's father wants to know if
I mean to give her the same as her sister. It's wonderful how a man gets
through so much in the short space of life; he must be prepared for
everything, when, egad! there's no time for anything."
"Can this really be the fact?" inquired Reginald, incredulously.
"I give you my word and honour it is."
"But," said Sir Waldron, "you have actually complained to me, this
morning, how the past week has 'dragged its slow length along' with you."
"To be sure it has," replied Archibald; "because I'm here—where I've
nothing to do—and nothing to eat."
"Nothing to eat, Archibald Hackle!" exclaimed Sir Waldron, drawing himself
up with an expression of offended dignity; "Hackle Hall, sir, is almost an
open house, even to the wayfarer;—you are one of its sons. I trust I
have supported the honour of our ancestors while it has been in my
keeping;—if you think otherwise, brother Archibald, and can shew
that I have not deported myself as becometh the head of the family,
although you are my younger brother, I lie open to your most severe
"My dear fellow," said Archibald, in a familiar manner, that Sir Waldron
deemed altogether unsuitable to the circumstances of the moment, "my dear
fellow, I don't care a pepper-pod about the honour of our ancestors."
"Not for the honour of our ancestors, brother Archibald!" exclaimed
Reginald, raising his eye-brows, and laying considerable emphasis on every
word, so as to make himself clearly understood.
"Ay, sir!" said Sir Waldron sternly; "not for the honour of our house,
"Not a pepper-pod!" replied Archibald, coolly. "I have other things to
trouble me:—I care more about the house of Van Bummel and Crootz of
Amsterdam honouring its bills; except, indeed, that this house is your
property, Waldron;—but I suppose, of course, it's insured;—you
couldn't be such a fool as not to insure it;—and therefore, perhaps,
the sooner it's burned down the better, if it wasn't for the loss to the
company; for, to speak the truth, it's one of the ugliest edifices I ever
had the honour of beholding. I dare say it was well enough a few centuries
back; but it has been so patched, and with so little attention to orders
that it looks as bad as a beggar's coat. It's a compound of the tastes of
every half century for these four hundred years past, and harmonizes
remarkably well, brothers, with the range of our ancestors' portraits in
the gallery:—there they are, bow-legs and bandy-legs, fat old
fellows in flowing wigs, who remind one of porters at a masquerade, and
brawny ruffians in armour, whose looks would half hang them, without other
evidence, in any court in the kingdom:—Round-heads, cavaliers,
churchmen, and knights of the shire;—mitres and helmets, cocked hats
and cones, with women to match, for each generation;—tag-rag and
bob-tail, pell-mell, higgledy-piggledy,—in all styles, costumes,
forms and fashions!"
"Those portraits, sir," exclaimed Sir Waldron, "are invaluable—invaluable,
"They wouldn't fetch a pound a-piece, one with another, by auction,"
replied Archibald: "the collection is just like the house itself; to which
each generation seems to have added its quota, more in accordance with the
fashion of the day, than the character of the building. What remains of
the original masonry reminds me of an old iron chest; and the affair
altogether, with its turrets and chimneys sticking up, of various sizes
and forms, resembles nothing in the world (except its gallery of
portraits) but an old cruet-stand, furnished with odd bottles. The squat,
round, flat-headed west turret, with the flag-staff without a flag,
overhanging one side of it, resembles a tenpenny mustard-pot; the little
trumpery dome that stands up at the east, a pepper-castor; the tall
chimney, almost in the centre, the neck of a slender vinegar-cruet; the—"
"'Sdeath! brother Reginald," interrupted Sir Waldron; "are we to bear
"No—really, I think Archibald is going to lengths which are not
decidedly to his credit," said Reginald.
"I would take leave to tell him," continued Sir Waldron, "if he were not
under my roof, and in the honourable house of his ancestors, that the
expressions he has used are derogatory to his elder brother's dignity. I
have always endeavoured to support the name of Hackle, in the county, in
its proper rank: I am proud to say, there is not a blot in my escutcheon;
I think I may almost vie with my brother Reginald, in moral deportment; I
watch myself with the most scrupulous exactitude; I consider the name as a
special trust confided to me for life, and I strive to maintain it pure
and unsullied for the next possessor: I mortify myself out of respect to
the house of which I am—I trust, not unworthily,—the head.
Hospitality in Hackle Hall, is not a mere word—"
"No, indeed," said Archibald; "here is plenty to eat and drink, but
nothing eatable or drinkable. In matters appertaining to the table, you
are a century and a half behind us in town. I can no more live upon your
dishes than I could wear my grandfather's breeches, or old Sir Geoffry's
greaves for gaiters. You keep up a custom of dining at two o'clock,—and
I don't care a farthing for dinner till five, at the very earliest moment
The post of honour in the parlour, at breakfast-time, is occupied by a
huge, blear-eyed, irascible, old stag-hound, instead of an agreeable
woman; and there he lies, dreaming of following the stag, where she ought
to be sitting, all smiles and sweetness, asking a man if he'd take half a
cup more. But night is worse than all; it's so awfully silent, that I
can't sleep!—In fact, brother Waldron, although you have done all in
your power to make me comfortable,—to speak the plain truth,—when
the novelty of the thing wore off when there was nothing more left to
laugh at,—in other words, within twenty-four hours after my arrival,
I began to sigh for a lunch at the'counting-house, sent in hot from the
Cock in Threadneedle Street, and a draught of London porter, again. I feel
as though I was in a strange country; I can't understand two-thirds of
what the people say. With the assistance of my man,—whom I brought
down, not out of ostentation, but because I can't shave myself and
entertain a mortal fear of a country barber,—'I have to-day
discovered, that meat, in the dialect of these parts, means bread, butter,
and almost everything eatable but meat; and meat they call flesh!—He
had a quarrel with a farmer's son, last night, who threatened to 'scat him
down upon the planchin;' and shortly afterwards tripped up his heels: so
that, thank heaven! if any one, while I remain here, threatens to scat me
down upon the planchm, I shall know, that nothing but my legs can save me
from being transferred from a perpendicular to a horizontal position. He
tells me, too, that you make broth of hot water poured upon chopped leeks
and bits of mutton-suet,—and that, in this country, broth is plural;—that
they ask you to have a few, instead of some; and tempt you to take
some, by vowing, that they—that is, the broth—are cruel
good.—Item, that when they blowed dust in your eyes, the bumpkins
exclaim, 'How the pellam blaeth!' and that, upon one fellow being asked
what he meant by 'pellam,' he replied, 'Muck adrouth.' 'And what's muck
adrouth?' said the stranger. 'Why, pellam, to be zure,' replied the
bumpkin; and this was all that could be elicited from him, in explanation.
If I happen to mention anything metropolitan, which, in their sublime
stupidity, they either do not comprehend or believe, they say, with
roguish and provoking gravity, 'Ahem! quo' Dick Bates!' and then, if I
manifest a little display of venial irritability at their ignorance, they
tell me, that I'm 'all of a ruck, like Zekiel Hodder's boot!'—Now,
who the deuce Dick Bates or Zekiel Hodder may be, I can't learn. I was
offered my choice of three apples, yesterday, and the man who held them,
instead of asking me which I would have, this, that, or the other, said
something like what I am about to attempt:—'Well,'zquire, which
'ull'ee ha',—thic, thac, or thuc? Some of the old people,
positively, banish 'she' and 'I' from their discourse, using 'her' for the
former, like the Welsh, and the kingly plural, for the latter; always,
nevertheless, substituting the accusative for the nominative case; as, for
instance:—your housekeeper, Sir Waldron, speaking of the housemaid,
said to me, to-day, 'Us ha' told her, scaures and scaures o' times, to
take up hot water to'ee, at eight o'clock; but her never heeds, not her,
then, vor-sooth! her thinks zo much o' gallivanting wi' the men-volks!—her's
no good, bless'ee! not a ha'p'orth!' That old housekeeper of yours,—by-the-by,—Waldron,
is a grievous nuisance to me; she comes and talks to me daily by the hour.
I can't endure the woman."
"My servant annoy you, brother Archibald!—I'm sorry you did not
mention this before."
"It seems strange to me," said Reginald, "that Archibald did not give her
an admonition, when she first grew troublesome, and so get rid of her."
"Get rid of her!" exclaimed Archibald. "Sir, you may as well talk of tying
a tin-kettle to the tail of a comet!—the thing's impossible. Last
night, she spent full half an hour imploring me to suffer her to close the
shutters and pin up the curtains of the east window of my bed-room, to
prevent the rays from my candle shooting across the park-path outside;
which rays, as she protests, impede our grandfather's ghost very much, in
his nightly rambles: it seems, that he frequently walks down that path;
but as a Devonshire ghost cannot cross a ray of light from a candle, the
good old gentleman is compelled to go round, or kick his heels in the cold
until 1 get into bed. One of your tenants, brother Waldron, told me, with
a very grave face, that he has often met our grandfather, in the middle of
the night, with old Geoffry his huntsman, and a whole pack of hounds,
hunting a stag at full speed; that he has actually opened the gates for
the old man and his ghostly pack to pass through, and that, although
'squire, huntsman, dogs, and stag, are without heads, he recognizes, and
honours them! Why, the man must be either a natural idiot, or travelling
fast toward lunacy; and yet he's accounted a positive Sir Oracle, in these
parts. It is said, our ancestor is seen in all forms, by various persons,
at different parts of the village: one scoundrel has had the impudence to
tell me, that he met him one night in Blackpool-lane, in the form of a
woolpack! and that he gave him a cut with his whip, as he rolled at full
speed along the road! Now, admitting that ghosts walk or run, how he could
know Sir Jonathan, in the shape of a woolpack, is to me, a miracle:—but,
so it was—he knew him; he'll swear to it; and may I be posted at
Lloyd's, if the villagers don't believe him. But I'd forgive them almost
everything if they'd let the church-bells alone, and wouldn't roar
choruses: every evening, between six and eight, some of the brawny
vagabonds go to practise triple-bob-majora, or grandsire-trebles, in the
belfry;—thus agonizing my ears with the most atrocious music that
ever was inflicted on suffering man: to mend the matter, I've a natural
antipathy to all bells except the waiter's and the postman's. It occurs
very unluckily for me, that I should arrive among you in a week of
merry-making, ending with a revel; and go where I will, my ears are
assailed by excruciating songs, all of which, without exception, have some
terrific hhorus tacked to the tail of each verse, which the rogues bellow
in such a way, that I'm often obliged to take to my heels in mere
self-defence. The song which just now seems to be most fashionable in, the
village, I have heard so often, that, much against my inclination, I know
every word of it; I feel it humming in my brain when I awake in the
morning, and my watch ticks it when I go to bed at night, I will be judged
by any reasonable man, if the eternal affliction of such words and sounds
as those which I am about to utter, vociferated by Stentorian lungs, is
not enough to drive a decent being, with a nice ear and moderate taste,
mad:—you shall hear."
"Pray, don't trouble yourself brother," said Reginald. "Nay, but with your
leave, I insist upon giving you a specimen: match it for sense, in all
Europe, if you can:—
'My vather a' died, but a' didn't know how,
A' left I zix hossees to vollor tha plough;
Wi' my wim, worn, woddle, oh!
Jack, strim, stroddle, oh!
Bubble, boys! bubble, boys!
Down by tha brook!'"
"Enough, enough, brother," said Reginald: "I lament that you should be so
dissatisfied with your visit."
"Not at all, sir; I'm not at all dissatisfied. I'm perfectly satisfied
with it: it has cured me of a mania I've had all my life of enjoying rural
felicity, and Devonshire, my birth-place, in my old age: I've seen quite
enough of it to make me put up with London or Clapham Common, and rest
contented—Besides, I've seen you and Waldron;—God bless you
both, my boys!—I shall be glad if you will run up to town now and
then:—I leave my boy to your care, Reginald;—and to-morrow I
The two brothers now approached Archibald, and most affectionately
entreated him to prolong his stay with them; and Reginald had just
extorted a promise from him to go to the vicarage for two or three days,
when a servant entered the room, and stated, that Constables Quality and
Batter had brought in some prisoners to be examined before his worship.
Sir Waldron desired that they might be taken into his study; and said,
that he would descend in a few minutes; but before the servant had quitted
the room, Archibald begged that they might be brought up, so as to offer
him an opportunity of witnessing, what he called, "a bit of bumpkin
police," which he had not hitherto taken an opportunity of enjoying. Sir
Waldron acquiesced, and ordered the servant to send up the constables,
with their prisoners.
"You will neither be amused, interested, nor edified, I suspect," said Sir
Waldron, to Archibald, "by the scene that is about to take place; it is,
doubtless, some trifling, ridiculous affair: the constables are two of the
most arrant blockheads that ever a magistrate was afflicted with:—as
to Onesiphorus Quality, one might as well attempt to elicit evidence out
of a mallet, as from him: I assure you, my patience and my temper are
often put to the test, by his stupid taciturnity."
As the baronet concluded, the huge form, and meek, beardless face of
Constable Quality himself, appeared at the door-way, ushering in four
prisoners, who were closely followed by a man of a middling size, with
sharp features, a large mouth, piercing cat's eyes, and limbs which were
puny, compared with those of the gigantic, chill-looking Quality. The
person we have described as bringing up the rear, was Constable Batter:
the prisoners were our old friends, the pedlar, the tinker, Darby Doherty,
and the little girl. The pedlar placed his pack very carefully on the
ground, the little girl stood up behind it, and the three men ranged
themselves in a line, with Quality, on one side, and Batter, on the other,
in front of the table at which the brothers were now seated.
"What is the charge made against these people, Quality?" inquired Sir
"Well,—then," replied Quality, "for that matter,—your worship,—you
must ask Batter."
"I ha' nought to say,—nought in the world," exclaimed Batter; "but
they're oddish bodies—I must say that for Quality. He apprehended
and I assisted;—not a thing more."
"Your worship," said Quality, with a most piteous countenance;—"your
worship know better:—I never apprehends nobody."
"That's true enough. Constable Quality, I must needs confess," observed
"I thank your worship, kindly, for your good word," quoth Quality.
"Oh! do not be such an idiot as to take what I have said as a compliment.
The feet is, Quality, you want either heart or wit enough to capture a
fly; Batter, luckily for the Hundred, sins a little on the opposite side
to you, Onesiphorus: all is fish that comes near his net; for one real
offender, he brings at least fifty innocent people before me. To say the
truth, I do not believe another brace of such ignorant blockheads have
flourished in one parish, since the days of Dogberry and Verges. Batter, I
am sure you have taken these people:—what have they done? To
begin with this good man, who has the appearance of a pedlar;—what
do either of you know of him?"
"Why," said Quality, with a shake of the head and an odd sort of frown
which he intended to be very significant; "why, your worship, I can't say
that I know any good of him."
"You utterly incomparable ninny, do you know any evil of him?"
"For that matter," quoth Quality, to the baronet, "I refer to Batter."
Batter drew up his chin and replied to this appeal, "I say nothing, your
worship; but—a—that is to say—"
"Go to the devil!" cried the enraged magistrate; "this is what I have to
go through, daily, brother Reginald."
"Ay, but, brother Waldron—"
"I know, I know!" exclaimed Sir Waldron, interrupting Reginald; "I know
what you are going to say; but my patience has been long exhausted with
these boobies.—What did you bring the men before me for?" shouted
the magistrate in a thundering tone.
"Well, then, your worship," said Quality, no whit moved, "ask Batter."
Batter, with great gravity, declined the honour, and protested against
taking precedence of his senior, Onesiphorus Quality; who, he vowed, had
bestirred himself as principal in the affair, and laudably exerted himself
to the utmost extent of his mental and bodily powers, to bring the
delinquents before his worship.
While the worthy constable was making a speech to the foregoing effect,
Sir Waldron sat tilting his chair on its hind legs, shaking his head up
and down with great velocity, beating the devil's tatoo with the fingers
of his right-hand on the back of his left, and gazing at his pale and
placid brother Reginald with an expression of countenance, which the
latter understood as meaning "Now you hear! could Job himself bear this,
brother?" That was, in truth, what Sir Waldron intended to convey to
Reginald by his looks; and when Batter concluded, he rose from his chair,
and with a stride, which might be pronounced emphatic, moved towards the
window, turning his back upon the constables and prisoners, apparently
determined to leave the settlement of the affair to Reginald himself. The
citizen brother had highly enjoyed the whole scene, and while Waldron was
walking away, observed to Reginald, that Batter and Quality differed
essentially from the police of the metropolis, who, if they had a fault,—and
this he professed, with a roguish sneer, to say under correction,—it
was the immense crop of evidence which they were generally prepared to
Let it not be imagined, that during the preceding dialogue, Mr. Jeremiah—or
as he chose to designate himself by the diminutive,—Darby Doherty
remained voluntarily silent. He frequently attempted to address the
magistrate; but Quality, who was not only silent himself, but the cause of
silence in others, as soon as Darby opened his mouth, covered the aperture
with his broad hard palm, and safely barricadoed the portals of speech.
Darby, with his wooden leg, trod on Quality's corns; and Quality,
notwithstanding the anguish he suffered, replied only by a terrific nudge
with his staff in Doherty's ribs, which was imperceptible to all present
but the receiver. Quality was very generous with his nudges to prisoners
who were at all refractory, and attempted to break silence in his
worship's presence: much to the indignation of Sir Waldron, who often
wondered where he could have picked up the word, Quality denominated these
The Reverend Reginald Hackle now took up the examination, and, with some
difficulty, discovered that the prisoners had quarrelled at the fair,
sought out the constables, and insisted upon going before a magistrate.
"Upon this," quoth Batter, "we took them into custody. The child," added
he, "seemed as glad to come as anybody;—so, what to make of it, I,
for one, don't know.—-Perhaps I've suspicions they've picked up the
girl, and are quarrelling between themselves about her clothes, and
ornamental valuables;—that, however, I shall keep to myself.—I
have searched the prisoners separately. The pedlar's pack contains ribbons
of various patterns and lengths; human hair of ditto ditto; silk and
imitation handkerchiefs, bits of lace, and cetera, and so forth; a large
pair of shears, a pocket-bible much worn, and, three red herrings."
"More red herrings!" exclaimed Darby, emancipating himself by a sudden
movement from the gripe of Quality, and advancing to a position whence he
could look the pedlar fall in the face; "three more red herrings! Well,
after that I've done, any how!".
"Next," continued Batter, who had now grown rather communicative,
"I searched the Irishman."
"And how dared you do so?" exclaimed Sir Waldron, striding from the window
with as great energy as he had strode toward it; "how dared you do so,
dolt?—Irishman, what are you?"
"I'm an Irishman, your honour!" replied Darby, and Sir Waldron strode to
the window with greater emphasis of cadence than he had strode from it,
muttering imprecations as he went.
"Have you been in the service?" inquired Reginald; "it has pleased
Providence to pour great bodily afflictions on you;—such losses as
those of a leg, an arm—-"
"E' then, your honour," interrupted Darby, "afflictions they are, indeed:—my
leg lost a good friend in losing me; I cut his corns for him every week,
and kept him warm in a good worsted stocking, and shoes at never less than
seven and sixpence the pair, since he came of age: but that's not the
question, your worship's reverence and glory; but this is it,—I ask
pardon for contradicting,—but don't fear,—I won't quarrel wid
your worships excellence:—Here's three of us: that's me, the tinker;
and the man o' the herrings there—the pedlar; we all wants the
child, and no blame to us, for she's a beauty;—and having no kith or
kin, that we can find out, nor a soul alive to own her—"
"She escheats," interrupted Batter, "as a waif, or an estray, in such
cases, to the lord of the manor, Sir Waldron."
"The lord of Bally-no-place, and my nose, too!" said Darby, snapping his
fingers at Batter; "do you call her cattle? ye he-cow, ye!—Well,
then, your honour's worship," continued Darby, turning, with a smile on
his face, towards Reginald, "as we couldn't agree about her, for she came
to us together, and we've no great opinion of one another—that is, I
haven't of the pedlar or the tinker, may be; and it's not unlikely they
think bad of me,—why shouldn't they?—why then, rather than
quarrel,—which I'm not one for, though well able, barring my limbs
and eye,—we tould the middle and both ends of it to dirty Butter
"Batter, prisoner, if you please," quoth the constable of that name.
"Well, to Batter, be it then; but of all the beasts or constables to boot
under the moon, he's the most stupid. Well, then, when we couldn't make
him understand our story, we insisted on his comprehending us."
"And here they are, Sir Waldron," quoth Quality.
"This is another of your cock-and-bull stories," said the Baronet,
returning to his chair. "What have we to do with this? Who is the third
"The tinker, your worship," observed Quality; "I suspect Batter knows
"Truly so," said Batter; "he's the father of Nancy Warton's two children;
you'll find his name on record; it's written on the bonds;—a
confirmed bad one in respect of—-"
"Tinker," said Sir Waldron, assuming a most formidable aspect, "I now
recollect your face. Moreover, 1 have heard that you have not yet
quitted your evil ways: you had an affair of a similar sort to that which
Batter speaks of, last month, at the sessions.—Fie upon you, man!
Venial as this sort of sin may appear to you, to me it seems most grave,—nearly
unpardonable. Why not take a wife?"
"That's just what I've said to him," observed Doherty; "matrimony is the
best of money,—it's pure felicity."
"Are you married, fellow?" inquired Sir Waldron, who felt by no means
pleased at the Irishman's interruption.
"Is it married, your worship?" replied Darby; "faith! then, I am, every
inch of me."
"And where's your wife?"
"Why, then, I left her this morning eleven miles hence."
"What, you've deserted her, eh?"
"Oh! quite the contrary;—I ran away from her,—we agreed to
come different roads; for, to tell you the truth, Mistress Doherty has a
tongue: but that says nothing; may be your honour's own wife has one too."
"I have no wife, sirrah!"
"Well! God help you, then! that's all I say.—Though we quarrelled
last night, I'd be mighty glad to see Mistress Doherty to-day,—so I
would: I wonder she hasn't come. I'll tell you how it was, and you'll
judge who did wrong.—We got a fi'penny bed at a road-side house; and
when such a case occurs, which isn't often, Mistress Doherty is all for
getting as much as she can for her money; so, if I'd let her, she'd go to
bed at eight o'clock, and lie till twelve or one the next day, or make me
and the child do so: but no, I don't like going to bed at night over soon
then, so I don't,—but I'll lie a-bed as long as one here and there,
the next morning; for then's the time, if one has such a thing, when a
bed's pleasant. Well then, Mistress Doherty, having some places to patch
in her coat, bid me go to bed before her, so that I might get up early,
and tramp to the revel with her,—just as Dobbin and Joan would, but
I wouldn't never mind why. Says she—says Mistress Doherty, 'Go to
bed, Darby, or the child will be perished with cold; go to bed and warm
him, Darby, while I put a patch on my coat but I wouldn't; so then she got
in her tantarums; I was obstinate, and we quarrelled."
"Ay, ay! I understand," said the tinker, who had not spoken before, "she
wanted to beat you to nest, as the hen-pigeon doth the cock, when he
loiters; it's natural,—yea, nature all over."
"Whenever I quarrel, I fight," pursued Darby; "and whenever I fight with
Mrs. Doherty, she licks me; I'd scorn to be beat by any man breathing;
I'll crow like a bit of game as I am, though I've lost half my spurs, but
I don't scruple to own, that I knock under to my wife:—so we paid
what we couldn't well afford for a bed,—-quarrelled and fought all
night in it, when we might have slept happy and contented under a tree;
and the next morning,—that's this morning,—I tould her, when
she was dreaming, to come after me to the revel by her own self; and so
she will, I'll engage my last arm; for, if we fight, Mistress Doherty
doats on me."
"And who is this child?" inquired Archibald.
"Your worship," replied the pedlar; "I hae held my peace till now, and it
is time for me to speak. This wee thing cam' to us where we breakfasted;
we ken nought about her; she wanted to come to this revel, and we hae
brought her together.—She would hae parted with us, but neither of
us would suffer her to do so, without letting us know whither she went; a
small broil followed, and here we are before ye;—we've done nought
but what humanity would justify;—tak' the bairn and question her.
She's in your hands, and I've done with her—saving a blessing—Gude
"Oh! don't think to gallyboozle the justice with your mealy mouth," said
Darby; "I've no great opinion of my friend here, your honour; no, nor of
Tom Tinker, this fellow with the black face, as I had the honour of
telling ye before. Now, if I may be allowed to say one word in my defence,—though
nobody accuses me, nor can, that's more,—but if I may speak, I'll
just say this by way of advice to your worship:—make yourself a
Solomon the second; cut off the child's hair, take every ha'p'orth she
has, and then see who'll have her: it isn't the tinker, I'll engage; no,
nor the pedlar, with his blackguard red herrings."
"I dinna want the bairn," said the pedlar; "I hae eleven o' my ain; but
I'd do to anither mon's child, what I'd expact anither, mon would do to
mine,—that is to say—sauf her fra tinklers and
"Come, come, pedlar, 'ware that," growled the tinker; "good words or
broken heads, says the old saying."
"Hold your tongue, you reprobate!" exclaimed Sir Waldron.
"Silence!" roared Batter in the tinker's ear, while Quality dealt him an
"What you want with the child I cannot comprehend," continued Sir Waldron;
"why not take one of those poor things, of whom you're the putative
father? that would do you a little credit—Why wish for this little
"Why, your worship"—The tinker was cut short in his reply to the
magistrate's question, by Batter shouting silence, and Quality giving him
"Blockhead!" exclaimed Sir Waldron to Batter; "am I not to have an answer
to my question? let the man speak, and do you behave with common sense,
or, by heaven, I'll commit you.—Speak, tinker, how do you account
for your wishing to take this child in preference to your own? I must tell
you, that it looks strange and suspicious."
"Why," replied the tinker, "I ha'n't no wish in particular about it:—to
be sure, I took a fancy to her; she hath such a main pretty little nob,
and a pearly sort of an eye, just like my best almond tumbler pigeon at
home—and the poney likes her; so its natural, you see, your worship:
but then, I don't covet her; only keep her out of these chaps' clutches,
that's all I say; except, mind me, this:—I wouldn't offend your
worship for the world; I'd pretty near die first,—but, look'ee, Sir
Waldron, if your constable pokes I in the ribs again, as he hath twice,
I'll just make so free as to break his neck, here right, if I do die
for't;—it's nature you know."
"This language is improper;—we must not hear it," observed Reginald.
"How dare you strike the man?" exclaimed Sir Waldron.
"I merely gave him a hint—"
"Hold your tongue—quit the room—or stop—stay—I'll
consider whether I ought not to order Batter to take you into custody."
The little girl now stepped from behind the pedlar's pack, and advancing
close to Sir Waldron, with a smile playing over her features, said to the
magistrate, "If you please, sir, may I speak, now every body's done?"
"Certainly, child," replied the baronet; "what have you to say?—what
is your name?"
"Agnes what, child?—what is your other name?" The little girl made
no reply, but looked alternately at Sir Waldron and the prisoners, and the
tears gushed from her eyes.
"What is the meaning of this?" said the baronet.
"Perhaps, brother,—you know best," observed Reginald;—"but
perhaps there is some mystery in this matter, something that lies deeper
than you imagine. The child may be intimidated from speaking the truth in
the presence of these three good people."
"Do you think so?—Well, then, I'll take her apart into my study,"
replied Sir Waldron: "come," added he, addressing the child, "come with
me, Agnes; do not be frightened."
"Bless you, I am not frightened," said the child; "I'm very glad."
"Ay, ay," quoth Reginald, "it is as I suspected, very clearly; Batter and
Quality, look well to these honest fellows."
The prisoners loudly exclaimed against Reginald's suspicions; but Batter,
by dint of bawling, and Quality, by the virtue of his apothegms, soon
restored order, and Agnes followed Sir Waldron into the adjoining room.
"Now, my dear," said the baronet, taking a chair, and drawing Agnes
between his knees, "what have you to say? Why not tell your name before
the people in the parlour? Is either of those men related to you?"
"Oh, no! no, indeed! I never saw them before to-day."
"And whose child are you?"
"Yours!" replied Agnes, looking archly up at Sir Waldron, and placing her
little hand on his as she spoke.
"Pooh! pooh! child, don't be foolish," replied Sir Waldron, who felt half
inclined to be angry, but, at the same time, could not prevent his
features from relaxing into a smile; "tell me the truth."
"I have told the truth; indeed and indeed I have."
"How do you mean, child?"
"Why, if you're my papa, you know, I must be your little daughter:—musn't
"Truly so, child," replied Sir Waldron; "but as I am not your papa—"
"Oh! but you are, though," interrupted Agnes; "my mamma told me so."
Sir Waldron's cheek grew pale; he stared at the child, and remained for a
few moments silent; then, assuming a stern manner, he said to Agnes rather
sharply,—"I suspect you to be a designing, bold, bad child; or the
tool of wretches; or, at best, remarkably impudent. Do you know who I am?"
"Sir Waldron Hackle;—at least, so I hope," was the child's reply;—"the
men said they were going to bring us before Sir Waldron Hackle,—and
that's you, isn't it?—If not, I've kept my promise to my poor mamma
finely;—but it isn't my fault."
"What mamma? what promise? How you talk, child!—what promise?"
"Not to tell any one who I was, nor to mention my name, until I saw my
"And what is your name?" eagerly inquired Sir Waldron.
"Oh! you know what it is well enough—don't you?"
"How the devil should I?" exclaimed the irritated baronet, who for a
moment forgot that he was speaking to a child. "How should I?" he
repeated, in somewhat a calmer tone.
"Why, you haven't any more little girls, have you?"
"Ridiculous! Tell me your name, instantly!"
"You won't be angry with me, I hope, for asking you first, if you are
Sir Waldron Hackle? My mamma so strictly charged me—"
"Well, well! I am—I am," replied the baronet; "I am Sir Waldron
"Ay; but are you the gentleman that broke his arm at Westbury, and—"
"Yes, yes!—Westbury, said you?—What's this flashes across me?
it surely cannot be—"
"Indeed, and it is, though!"
"Hannah Russelts child?"
"Yes! my mamma's dead; and I've walked all the way by myself, and now you
won't own me," sobbed little Agnes; and her head dropped upon Sir
Waldron's hand, which he immediately felt was wetted with her tears.
"Own you!" said Sir Waldron, scarcely knowing what he said. "How can I own
"I'm sure I don't know," replied the little girl, raising her head, and
endeavouring to restrain the sobs which almost rendered her unable to
articulate; "you must do as you please about that; my mamma sent her dying
love—to you,—and she told me to be sure to say that she had
done—her duty, and you need not be ashamed of me!"
Sir Waldron made no reply; but he snatched Agnes up, pressed her to his
bosom, and kissed her repeatedly: he then put her at arm's length from
him, gazed earnestly on her face, and again most affectionately embraced
"Kiss me again, papa," were the first words that little Agnes uttered,
after Sir Waldron had placed her on her feet; but the baronet was so
absorbed in thought, at that moment, that he did not notice what she said.
He sat silent and motionless, with the child mutely gazing upon him, for
above a minute. He then started up, wrung his hands together, stamped
violently on the floor, and walked to the wall of the room, against which
he leant his forehead. Starting thence in a moment, he returned to his
seat, exclaiming, "Man! man! thou dost truly merit this agony!"
Agnes now approached him, and familiarly, or rather, endearingly,
embracing his arm, said, "Are you very ill, papa?—My mamma tied this
bit of love-ribbon on the finger where married ladies wear their rings,
that I shouldn't forget to tell you she forgave you with her last breath,
and died happy!"
"May she be in heaven!" exclaimed Sir Waldron.
"Amen!" responded little Agnes.
"What to do—what to do, I know not," said the baronet, rising from
his chair again.
"Won't you own me, papa?—pray do; or I don't know what I shall do,
after walking so far and all. I wore out my shoes and stockings—"
"Bless thy poor little feet—what a sight is this!"
"Won't you own me, papa?" repeated Agnes.
"I do—I do, child," replied Sir Waldron, kissing her; "but I must
send you away,—how, I cannot tell.—You must not be known to be
mine:—my honour, my reputation;—the character I have
maintained—s'death! it drives me mad!"
"Mayn't I live with you, then?" said Agnes.
"It is absolutely impossible."
"Oh, dear! Then I suppose I must find out a place where grapes grow in a
wood, and build a little house, as Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday did,
for I've nobody to help me but you,—and you won't, you say."
"I said no such thing: you shall never want; but here you cannot remain."
"My mamma said I was to;—but then, she told me too, that when
she was dead and gone, I was to obey you; and you say I must go,—so
I don't know what to do:—I'm very hungry."
"Hungry! pull the bell—but stop—hold—my position is most
perplexing. To send the child here! It was cruel—but I merit it. I
have brought sorrow on myself, by my own villany.—It is miraculous
how you could have reached me."
"I walked all the way!" said the child, with a sigh. "My little bones ache
so, you can't think.—My mamma, when she knew she was going to die in
a day or two, gave me some money, and told me to go to The White Hart,
with a little paper of directions she folded it up in, for the coachman;
and she said, that he would give me something to eat on the road, and
carry me within three miles of your house: but I wasn't to tell him where
I was going; and she told me to carry the paper and money to him the day
after she was buried. But,—do you know?—the people where we
lodged found the paper, and took the money out; and said, I shouldn't go
unless I told them who I was going to, and why, and all about it But I
wouldn't, because my mamma charged me to tell nobody but Sir Waldron;—that's
you,—my papa. So then, I said to myself I'd walk,—for the
place where the coachman was to leave me didn't seem very far in my
sampler:—but sometimes I thought I should never get here. And I
brought my sampler with me to find out the way; but it was all wrong,
bless you! there's no red line between Somersetshire and Devonshire, like
that I worked in the sampler; so I kept on asking my way."
"My dear little cherub!" exclaimed Sir Waldron; "what thou must have
endured!—And where did you sleep?"
"Oh! the people was hay-making, and I lay down upon the nice little
hay-cocks;—its no night, hardly, now.—I liked it at first; but
I'm stung all over with flies, or something—"
"And did you beg for food?"
"Oh! no! I brought all my pretty money, and spent it in gingerbread and
apples;—not all,—for I've two Queen Anne shillings, and
another bit of money, I don't know what it is, left." Agnes, in answer to
several other questions put to her by Sir Waldron, told him, that she
often followed the waggons, and, in a very early part of the journey, saw
the names of several places painted on the boot of a coach, before that
one where the coachman was directed, by her mother's paper, to set her
down; that she learnt them by heart, and inquired for each, successively:
she also related the manner of her meeting with the pedlar and his
companions, and stated, that a woman had told her, just before she saw
them, that there was a revel at the village, to which, she was inquiring
Sir Waldron was still undecided as to what he should do with Agnes, and
sat pondering, with the little girl seated on his knee, and warming her
feet with one of his hands, when the child suddenly started from him, and
exclaimed, "Oh, dear! I quite forgot the letter!"
"Letter! from your mother?"
"Yes; the people of the house didn't find out that, when they took the
money that was in the paper of directions away from me. I brought it all
the way safe enough in my bosom, until this morning."
"And where is it now?"
"That naughty constable took it from me. He opened it and read it."
"D—t—n!" exclaimed Sir Waldron; "then all is known, and I
shall be every booby's jest."
He had scarcely uttered these words, when the door of the room was opened,
and The Reverend Reginald Hackle entered, with an open note in his hand.
He was followed by the citizen: Reginald looked more grave than usual; but
Archibald seemed with difficulty to restrain himself from laughing
"Waldron," said he, "we have just wormed a letter out of Constable
The baronet snatched it from Reginald's hand; looked first at the
superscription, which bore his name and address, and then hastily perused
"The blockhead's excuse," continued Archibald, "for not producing this,
which I consider, under correction, a document of importance as regards
the examination, is, that you cut Batter short in his statement of the
particulars of his searching the prisoners."
"And is this rightly addressed to you, brother? Are you indeed the man?"
asked Reginald, in a tone of reproach.
"Well, she's a pretty child; a very pretty child, indeed, Waldron," said
Archibald, taking the little girl in his arms. "Come, kiss your uncle, my
dear: I suppose I may call her yours, Waldron."
"You may:—it's useless to dissimulate;—so preach, brother
Reginald; sneer, brother Archy; jest, joke, and do your worst, world;—she
is mine,—my dear, darling child!"
Shortly afterwards, Archibald returned to the prisoners, and, addressing
Darby Doherty, informed him that he and his two companions might go about
"And the child—" quoth Darby.
"She will remain with Sir Waldron," replied Archibald.
"Thank your honour, kindly, for this, as well as for the cold meat, which,
of course, your honour is going to order us to get in the hall," said
Doherty. "His worship has acted upon what, I've always been tould, is the
true principle of justice; so I can't complain:—he's taken the
oyster himself, and," added Darby, bowing alternately to the pedlar and
the tinker as he spoke, "sent me packing with the shells."
Sir Waldron soon became so doatingly fond of little Agnes, that, among all
his friends, she obtained the appellation of The Bachelor's Darling. As
she approached towards womanhood, the beauty of her person, and the
sweetness of her disposition, made a strong impression on the heart of
Archibald's son; and five years had scarcely elapsed after the completion
of his studies under his reverend uncle, when she became his wife.
The three brothers lie, side by side, in the church-yard of their native
village; and the citizen's son, and Hannah Russell's child, are now Sir
Waldron and Lady Hackle.