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mature peal to be struck up,--an error of judgment for which he was rewarded with shouts of ironical laughter and a few indignant peltings from his fellow-playmates, intermixed with sarcastic inquiries of—“Who took old Chubbs's cart for the Squire's coach ?" an unnecessary question, to which the sulky delinquent scorned to give any reply.
“Well,” said the village butcher, spinning his steel into the air, and expertly catching it as it descended, “ he don't mean to keep sheep I larn for sartain, so I shall have the killing of his mutton,--that's one comfort.”
“ And they do say,” added a half-starved barber, “ that he wears a wig, which must be titivated now and then,—that's another good thing."
“Sure he won't think of brewing his own beer?” said the brewer:“ the vat up at the old Manor-House be all to pieces, and the mashing-tub too.” But the speaker forgot to add that this piece of mischief was his own covert handiwork.
“The Squire 'll have good eyes,” wheezed
a fat laundress, “ if he do find any washingtubs fit for use :” a safe averment; for the worthy dame and her husband had purloined and fresh painted the best of them, on the plea that “what was in Chancery was everybody's right, and didn't belong to nobody.”
“I warrant the Squire will bring down a smart young valet, and perhaps a couple of grooms,” simpered the red-armed, fair-haired daughter of the last speaker.
“Well, minx, and what if he do ?” sharply retorted the mother. “D'ye think them fine Lunnuners will have anything to say to the likes of you ? Go home to your ironing, hussy!"
La, mother, how cross you be !" muttered the wench, making a show of obeying the mandate, though she presently returned, and ensconced herself behind a tree, where she could see and not be seen. “I
say, Master Waghorn,” hiccoughed fat Sam Belcher, as he finished his pot of porter, “don't
think the Squire 'll stop at the Half-way House, just to take a snack of bread and cheese and inguns, and a glass o' purl? I know I should.”
“ The Half-way House !” replied the indignant Boniface; “I should like to know what decent body, let alone a Squire and a rich man, would stop at such a low place as that! Like enough he may pull up at the Green Man. Here he wouldn't be pisoned at all events.”
“I be glad o' the Squire's coming,” growled the blacksmith, “ acause I shall have the shoeing of his horses ; and I dare say they'll want it often enough, if so be that the coachman and I be good friends. 'Taint on that account, for I baint selfish, not a bit on't; but acause his coming will sarve to keep the whole village alive like.”
“ And I baint no more selfish nor others,” coughed the grave-digger ;“ but as to keeping the whole village alive-od's heart, Master Blow-bellows, sure they live long enough as it is. Devil a grave have I had the digging on for these three months.”
“Here he comes ! here he comes !" shouted a dozen eager voices at once, as dust was seen to arise at some distance along the road ; but their expectations were quickly checked by the boy in the tree calling out, “ Hold your jabber, can't ye? it's old white-faced Dobbin, and the doctor's one-horsed chay."
“He a doctor !” muttered the grave-digger, with a scornful air; "we might as well have never a doctor at all, for he don't ever set the bell a tolling, at least hardly any to speak on. One has no luck now-a-days. There's no fever nor no influenzy a going on these hard times."
Leaving this rural conclave to pursue their speculations in the same disinterested spirit, we must advance a little along the Cheltenham road, and give our readers a short and hasty introduction to the party whose expected arrival had excited so profound a sensation at Woodcote. To adopt the style of the Newgate Calendar,—though we have a very different character to describe, we will commence by stating that Adam Brown
was born of poor but honest parents in the parish of Woodcote,” a fact which accounts for his selecting the Manor-House, deserted as it had long been, for his final place of residence. After passing through the successive stages of a druggist's apprentice, a supercargo, and a merchant's clerk, both at London and Smyrna, he settled in the latter city, carried on business for many years on his own account, and accumulated a handsome fortune; when, finding his health affected by the influence of the climate, he gave up his commercial concerns, and returned to the British metropolis, where he intended to reside and enjoy himself during the remainder of his days.
This plan, however, being defeated by a recurrence of the asthma to which he had latterly been subject, he resolved to retire into the country, and pitched upon his birthplace, under the impression that his native air would be most likely to agree with his constitution. An almost uninterrupted success in all his undertakings, and a consciousness that he owed his advancement in life to his own unaided exertions, had inspired him with a confidence in his own judgment which sometimes manifested itself by a perverse and wilful opposition to the judgments of others. His peculiarities, however, we