Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Why you see, sir, all trades must live, and ours is not an easy one; so many people to please. Sometimes a gentleman won't come to a house, because one of an opposite party uses it, which is always the case when a town is divided between Whig and Tory. But the beauty of fishing is, that it has nothing to do with politics; and all parties, if they are fond of the sport, which all ought to be, will forget themselves for the moment, and eat and drink and be merry, when they are tired and hungry, all the same ; which does a dale of good, as I say, to the landlords.”

5 I suppose, then,” observed I, more and more amused, “that you and Mrs. Chubb are of no party ?”

Why, as to Mrs. Chubb, I always say, women shouldn't meddle with any thing that don't consarn them, but mind their cooking, and washing, and children; and, as to myself, my motto has always been, handsome is, as handsome does.' To be sure, in secret, I am for church and king, which is, I believe, as much as to say, a Tory; but then, if a Whig gentleman should drive up to the door, and spend his money freely, as you may do, sir, or perhaps stay two or three days, to examine the beauty of the place, as you will, I hope, also do, I have no right to consarn myself with what he thinks of politics, any more than what Sir Harry Englefield, and other Roman Catholic gentlemen, thinks of religion, when they come here, as they often do, to eat a fish dinner in Lent. And so, sir, as I see the bowl is out (unless you should please to order another), and the sky is nice and cloudy, I will attend you, if you please, up the river,

and charge you nothing for attendance, but only for the boat.”

“ And what may that be ?" asked I.

“ Half-a-crown if you go alone ; five shillings if I go with you."

“ I thought you said nothing for attendance ?”

- That is, I meant attendance upon you ; but I shall have to mind the boat, you know."

By this time I had taken a pretty good measure of the manners and principles of the landlord of the Jolly Angler; and as I never had handled a rod in my life, and meant not to learn, at least on that afternoon, I felt rather embarrassed to get rid of this quasi engagement, which, though of the host's own making, I felt I had encouraged by my silence. It was, indeed, to his surprise and almost consternation, when I excused myself from the party, as I had a particular engagement at Reading that evening.

He stared ; and his wife coming in at that moment, said it was very strange that a gentleman should not know his own mind, particularly as she had been up-stairs to get the white bed ready. I observed, too, that the landlord, in giving me my knapsack, handled it with an air of contempt, and even anger, observing, that there did not seem much tackle in it, and that if it had been but a little larger, he should have taken it for a pedlar's pack.

He recovered himself a little when I paid the bill, which would have done no discredit, in amount at least, to a London hotel.

CHAPTER XIV.

MORE ADVENTURES. -I MEET WITH A STILL MORE

EXTRAORDINARY TRAVELLER THAN I HAVE YET

SEEN.

Oh, master, if you did but bear the pedlar at the door, you would never dance again after a tabor and pipe. He sings tunes faster than you can tell money; he utters them as he had eaten ballads. He has songs for men and women of all sizes.-No milliner can so fit his customer with gloves.

SHAKSPEARE:— Winter's Tale.

“So much,” thought I, on turning my back on mine host of the Jolly Angler—“ so much for little landJords who profess morality and quote Walton.”

I was not the less, however, in a frame of mind to be amused with an account of still farther lucubrations on the part of Mr. Chubb, in respect of my personal appearance, which, rather curiously, I learned from a brother knapsack like myself, who found me loitering on the road to Pangburne, on the Kennet side, a few miles from Thatcham.

This next acquaintance of mine appeared a real pedlar, whose strength of back filled me with respect, for his knapsack was a pack of at least a quarter of a hundred weight.

I was sitting, as he approached, on the parapet of one of the little bridges over the river (a resting-place I always choose, wherever I find it, for the sake of its pleasant prospect up and down a stream, and the reflections it inspires) when he came up and saluted me. Till then he had been singing like Autolycus in the play

Jog on, , jog on, the footpath way,
And merrily hent the stile-a;
A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-a.” *

“ Save you, sir, and good afternoon," said he, resting his pack against the wall of the bridge.

“ The same to you,” returned I; and we mutually surveyed each other.

There was something keen, or rather cunning in his eye, as he looked at me, and a sort of sardonic expression in the smile with which he said, “ You have had a pleasant walk from Thatcham, sir.”

As I was now used to these interruptions, I no longer stood upon my dignity to play the exclusive with my fellow vagabonds, so asked him how he knew I came from Thatcham ?

“Oh, I heard of you in different places,“ returned he. “ A friend of mine, Dr. Firebrass, whom I saw on the Wallingford coach, as it stopt to water, told me I night overtake you, for you walked slow, though you were to get to Reading this evening, and had promised to attend his lecture.”

“I made no such promise,” said I,“ though I may

* Winter's Tale.

me

do it out of curiosity. But pray, who else may have told you

of ?” “Why I just stopt,” he answered, “ at the Jolly Angler for a pint, and the landlord was describing you to two or three other guests in the tap-room; and as to his outer description, there is no mistaking you. I hope I don't make too free, in resting my pack so close to yours.”

I did not much like the familiarity of being taken for a brother-pedlar; but, not much offended, I said, I supposed Mr. Chubb described something more than my mere outside ; “ may be, that I was a travelling merchant like yourself?"

“Not exactly so," replied he, “ though it was one of his many guesses.'

6 Which were not over creditable, perhaps, to my character?'

6.Why, as to that, whatever they were, he allowed that you spent your money very freely, but said that all was not gold that glitters—I beg pardon again for being so free.”

“O!” cried I, “there's no occasion; I should really like to know what he thought I was, for he seemed so out of humour at his mistake in thinking me a gentleman sportsman come to fish, that he had begun to be discourteous before I left the house."

“Shall I tell you, and not make you angry? " asked the pedlar.

By all means." “Why, at first he thought you a Methodist parson going to some congregation ; for, said he, them

92

[blocks in formation]
« ПредишнаНапред »