Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

it at neighbor Jackson's or anywhere.” While the fellow was gone, he entertained me with a pathetic harangue on the great scarcity of silver, which I undertook to improve, by deploring also the great scarcity of gold; so that by the time Abraham returned we had both agreed that money was never so hard to be come at as now. Abraham returned to inform us that he had been over the whole fair and could not get change, though he had offered half a crown for doing it. This was a very great disappointment to us all ; but the old gentleman having paused a little, asked me if I knew one Solomon Flamborough in my part of the country; upon replying that he was my next-door neighbor: “If that be the case, then,” returned he, “ I believe we shall deal. You shall have a draft upon him, payable at sight; and, let me tell you, he is as warm a man as any within five miles round him. Honest Solomon and I have been acquainted for many years together. I remember I always beat him at three jumps ; but he could hop on one leg farther than I.” A draft upon my neighbor was to me the same as money ; for I was sufficiently convinced of his ability. The draft was signed and put into my hands, and Mr. Jenkinson (the old gentleman), his man Abraham, and my horse, old Blackberry, trotted off very well pleased with each other.

After a short interval, being left to reflection, I began to recollect that I had done wrong in taking a draft from a stranger, and so prudently resolved upon following the purchaser, and having back my horse.

horse. But this was now too late: I therefore made directly homewards, resolving to get the draft changed into money at my friend's as fast as possible. I found my honest neighbor smoking his pipe at his own door, and informing him that I had a small bill upon him, he read it twice over. “ You can read the name, I suppose,” cried I,“ Ephraim Jenkinson.” — “Yes," returned he, "the name is written plain enough, and I know the gentleman too, - the greatest rascal under the canopy of heaven. This is the very same rogue who sold us the spectacles. Was he not a venerable-looking man with gray hair, and no flaps to his pocket-holes? And did he not talk a long string of learning, about Greek and cosmogony and the world?” To this I replied with a groan. “Ay,” continued he, "he has but that one piece of learning in the world, and he always talks it away whenever he finds a scholar in company; but I know the rogue, and will catch him yet.”

Although I was already suficiently mortified, my greatest

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][subsumed][merged small]

struggle was to come, in facing my wife and daughters. No truant was ever more afraid of returning to school, there to behold the master's visage, than I was of going home. I was determined, however, to anticipate their fury by first falling into a passion myself.

But, alas! upon entering, I found the family no way disposed for battle. My wife and girls were all in tears, Mr. Thornhill having been there that day to inform them that their journey to town was entirely over. The two ladies having heard reports of us from some malicious person about us, were that day set out for London. He could neither discover the tendency nor the author of these; but whatever they might be, or whoever might have broached them, he continued to assure our family of his friendship and protection. I found, therefore, that they bore my disappointment with great resignation, as it was eclipsed in the greatness of their own. But what perplexed us most was to think who could be so base as to asperse the character of a family so harmless as ours, too humble to excite envy, and too inoffensive to create disgust.

FROM “SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER."

Аст І.
SCENE I. A Chamber in an old-fashioned House.

[Enter Mrs. HARDCASTLE and Mr. HARDCASTLE.] Mrs. Hardcastle. -I vow, Mr. Hardcastle, you're very particular. Is there a creature in the whole country, but ourselves, that does not take a trip to town now and then, to rub off the rust a little? There's the two Miss Hoggs, and our neighbor Mrs. Grigsby, go to take a month's polishing every winter.

Hardcastle. — Ay, and bring back vanity and affectation to last them the whole year. I wonder why London cannot keep its own fools at home. In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us, but now they travel faster than a stagecoach. Its fopperies come down not only as inside passengers, but in the very basket.

Mrs. Hardcastle. — Ay, your times were fine times, indeed; you have been telling us of them for many a long year. Here we live in an old rumbling mansion, that looks for all the world like an inn, but that we never see company. Our best visitors are old Mrs. Oddfish, the curate's wife, and little Cripplegate, the lame dancing-master; and all our entertainment your old stories of Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough. I hate such old-fashioned trumpery.

Hardcastle. — And I love it. I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine; and, I believe, Dorothy (taking her hand], you'll own I have been pretty fond of an old wife.

Mrs. Hardcastle. — Lord, Mr. Hardcastle, you're forever at your Dorothys and your old wives. You may be a Darby, but I'll be no Joan, I promise you. I'm not so old as you'd make me, by more than one good year. Add twenty to twenty, and make money of that.

Hardcastle. - Let me see; twenty added to twenty, makes just fifty and seven.

Mrs. Hardcastle. - It's false, Mr. Hardcastle: I was but twenty when I was brought to bed of Tony, that I had by Mr. Lumpkin, my first husband; and he's not come to years of discretion yet.

Hardcastle. — Nor ever will, I dare answer for him. Ay, you have taught him finely!

Mrs. Hardcastle. — No matter; Tony Lumpkin has a good fortune. My son is not to live by his learning. I don't think a boy wants much learning to spend fifteen hundred a-year.

Hardcastle. - Learning, quotha! a mere composition of tricks and mischief.

Mrs. Hardcastle. — Humor, my dear; nothing but humor. Come, Mr. Hardcastle, you must allow the boy a little humor.

Hardcastle. - I'd sooner allow him a horsepond. If burning the footman's shoes, frightening the maids, and worrying the kittens be humor, he has it. It was but yesterday he fastened my wig to the back of my chair, and when I went to make a bow, I popt my bald head in Mrs. Frizzle's face.

Mrs. Hardcastle. And am I to blame? The poor boy was always too sickly to do any good. A school would be his death. When he comes to be a little stronger, who knows what a year or two's Latin may do for him?

Hardcastle. Latin for him! A cat and fiddle. the alehouse and the stable are the only schools he'll ever go to.

Mrs. Hardcastle. — Well, we must not snub the poor boy now, for I believe we sha'n't have him long among us. Any. body that looks in his face may see he's consumptive.

No, no;

« НазадПродовжити »