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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.
MORE ADVENTURES.-I MEET WITH A STILL MORE
EXTRAORDINARY TRAVELLER THAN I HAVE YET
Oh, master, if you did but hear 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 landlords 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,
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 might 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.
do it out of curiosity. But pray, who else may have told you of me?"
“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."
“Which were not over creditable, perhaps, to my character ? ”
“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
messengers of the elect, however plain and humble they travel in appearance, always pamper themselves, when they can, like a lord, and to be sure I hope he will have more mercy upon his penitent brethren than he had upon the fried eggs. Upon this, we all laughed.”
“ Well, what afterwards ?”
“ He then thought you a nobleman's valet, who had left his place, and was tramping it home on foot, but so accustomed to the luxuries of the steward's room, that you could not do without them, for ale would not satisfy you. His wife, however, refuted that, by saying, that when you paid the bill, you took out a purse full of gold, so could not be a valet out of place. If this was true, and you shewed your gold, I would take the liberty of advising you another time not to be so indiscreet ; nobody knows who one meets at them public-houses, and some of the people who heard this might follow you on purpose to get at the purse. Did you really shew much gold ? "
“ Enough, I suppose,” said I, “to pay expenses.”
Here I put my hand into my breeches pocket, to ascertain the safety of my purse, which my companion observing, said he was glad to find I had not lost it; adding, however, that he thought I had better not carry too much money about me.
I thanked him for his caution, and asked if I had any other character with my good landlord ?
“Why yes; but this beats the others in impudence, and really I dare not mention it."
“O! let's have it. It can hardly be worse.”