profusion, that, starting up, I asked him what | affairs that night, we departed next morning the d- he meant by using me so? He by day-break, armed with a good cudgel each begged pardon, telling me his joy at meeting (my companion being charged with the furwith a countryman had occasioned some con- niture of us both, crammed into one knapfusion in him; and craved my name. But sack), and our money sewed between the when I declared my name was Random, he lining and waistband of our breeches, except exclaimed, in a rapture,-" How! Rory some loose silver for our immediate expense Random?" The same, I replied, looking at on the road. We travelled all day at a round him with astonishment. "What," cried he, pace, but, being ignorant of the proper stages, "don't you know your old school-fellow, were benighted at a good distance from any Hugh Strap?" At that instant, recollecting inn, so that we were compelled to take up his face, I flew into his arms, and, in the our lodging at a small hedge ale-house, that transport of my joy, gave him back one half stood on a by-road, about half a mile from of the suds he had so lavishly bestowed on the high-way: there we found a pedlar of my countenance; so that we made a very our own country, in whose company we ludicrous appearance, and furnished a great regaled ourselves with bacon and eggs, and deal of mirth for his master and shopmates, a glass of good ale, before a comfortable fire, who were witnesses of this scene. When conversing all the while very sociably with our mutual caresses were over, I sat down the landlord and his daughter, a hale buxom again to be shaved; but the poor fellow's lass, who entertained us with great good nerves were so discomposed by this unex- humour, and in whose affection I was vain pected meeting, that his hand could scarcely enough to believe I had made some progress. hold the razor, with which, nevertheless, he About eight o'clock, we were all three, at found means to cut me in three places, in as our own desire, shown into an apartment, many strokes. His master, perceiving his furnished with two beds, in one of which disorder, bade another supply his place, and, Strap and I betook ourselves to rest, and the after the operation was performed, gave pedlar occupied the other, though not before Strap leave to pass the rest of the day with he had prayed a considerable time extempore, ine. We retired immediately to my lodg- searched into every corner of the room, and ings, where, calling for some beer, I desired fastened the door on the inside with a strong to be informed of his adventures, which con-iron screw, which he carried about with him tained nothing more, than that his master for that use. I slept very sound till midnight, dying before his time was out, he had come when I was disturbed by a violent motion of to Newcastle about a year ago, in expectation the bed, which shook under me with a conof journey-work, along with three young tinual tremor. Alarmed at this phenomenon, fellows of his acquaintance who worked in I jogged my companion, whom, to my no the keels; that he had the good fortune of small astonishment, I found drenched in being employed by a very civil master, with sweat, and quaking through every limb: he whom he intended to stay till the spring, at told me, with a low faultering voice, that we which time he proposed to go to London, were undone, for there was a bloody highwhere he did not doubt of finding encourage-wayman loaded with pistols in the next room; ment. When I communicated to him my situation and design, he did not approve of my taking a passage by sea, by reason of the danger of a winter voyage, which is very hazardous along that coast, as well as the precariousness of the wind, which might possibly detain me a great while, to the no small detriment of my fortune: whereas, if I would venture by land, he would bear me company, carry my baggage all the way, and, if we should be fatigued before we could perform all the journey, it would be no hard matter for us to find on the road either returning horses or wagons, of which we might take the advantage for a very trifling expense. I was so ravished at this proposal, that I embraced him affectionately, and assured him he might command my purse to the last farthing; but he gave me to understand, he had saved money sufficient to answer his own occasions; and that he had a friend in London, who would soon introduce him into business in that capital, and might possibly have it in his power to serve me also.

Having concerted the plan, and settled our

then bidding me make as little noise as possible, he directed me to a small chink in the board partition, through which I could see a thick-set brawny fellow, with a fierce countenance, sitting at a table with our young landlady, having a bottle of ale and a brace of pistols before him. I listened with great attention, and heard him say, in a terrible tone-" D-n that son of a b- Smack the coachman!-he has served me a fine trick, indeed!-but d-n-n seize me, if I don't make him repent it! I'll teach the scoundrel to give intelligence to others, while he is under articles with me." Our landlady endeavoured to appease this exasperated rob ber, by saying he might be mistaken in Smack who perhaps kept no correspondence with the other gentleman that robbed his coach; and that, if an accident had disappointed him to-day, he might soon find opportunity enough to atone for his lost trouble. 66 I'll tell thee what, my dear Bet," replied he, "I never had, nor ever shall, while my name is Rifle, have such a glorious booty as I missed to-day. Z-ds! there was 4007. in cash to recruit



men for the king's service, besides the jewels, | comrade had undeceived our fellow-lodger, watches, swords, and money belonging to the passengers. Had it been my fortune to have got clear off with so much treasure, I would have purchased a commission in the army, and made you an officer's lady, you jade, I would." "Well, well," cries Betty, we must trust to Providence for that. But did you find nothing worth taking which escaped the other gentleman of the road?" "Not much, faith," said the lover; "I gleaned a few things, such as a pair of pops, silver mounted (here they are); I took them loaded from the captain who had the charge of the money, together with a gold watch which he had concealed in his breeches. I likewise found ten Portugal pieces in the shoes of a quaker, whom the spirit moved to revile me with great bitterness and devotion; but what I value myself mostly for, is this here purchase, a gold snuff box, my girl, with a picture on the inside of the lid; which I untied out of the tail of a pretty lady's smock."

and informed him of his reason for disturbing him; upon which, getting up softly, he peeped through the hole, and was so terrified with what he saw, that, falling down on his bare knees, he put up a long petition to heaven, to deliver him from the hands of that ruffian, and promised never to defraud a customer for the future of the value of a pin's point, provided he might be rescued from the present danger. Whether or not his disburthening his conscience afforded him any ease, I know not, but he slipped into bed again, and lay very quiet, until the robber and his mistress were asleep, and snored in concert; then, rising softly, he untied a rope that was round his pack, which making fast to one. end of it, he opened the window with as little noise as possible, and lowered his goods into the yard with great dexterity: then he moved gently to our bedside, and bade us farewell, telling us, that, as we run no risk, we might Here, as the devil would have it, the ped- the morning assure the landlord that we knew take our rest with great confidence, and in lar snored so loud that the highwayman, nothing of his escape; and, lastly, shaking snatching his pistols, started up, crying, us by the hands, and wishing us all manner "Hell and d-n-n! I am betrayed! Who's of success, he let himself drop from the winthat in the next room?" Mrs Betty told dow without any danger, for the ground was him he need not be uneasy; there were only not above a yard from his feet as he hung on three poor wearied travellers, who, missing the outside. Although I did not think prothe road, had taken up their lodging in the per to accompany him in his flight, I was not house, and were asleep long ago. lers!" says he, "spies, you b-ch! But no "Travel-at all free from apprehension, when I reflected matter; I'll send them all to hell in an in- man's disappointment, as he certainly inon what might be the effect of the highwaystant." He accordingly ran towards our tended to make free with the pedlar's ware. door; when his sweetheart interposing, Neither was my companion at more ease in assured him there was only a couple of poor his mind; but, on the contrary, so possessed young Scotchmen, who were too raw and with the dreadful idea of Rifle, that he soliignorant to give him the least cause of sus- cited me strongly to follow our countryman's picion; and the third was a presbyterian ped- example, and so elude the fatal resentment lar of the same nation, who had often lodged of that terrible adventurer, who would cerin the house before. This declaration satis-tainly wreak his vengeance on us, as accomfied the thief, who swore he was glad there was a pedlar, for he wanted some linen. Then, in a jovial manner, he put about the glass, mingling his discourse to Betty with caresses and familiarities, that spoke him very happy in his amours. During that part of the conversation which regarded us, Strap had crept under the bed, where he lay in the agonies of fear; so that it was with great difficulty I persuaded him our danger was over, and prevailed on him to awake the pedlar, and inform him of what he had seen and heard. This itinerant merchant no sooner felt somebody shaking him by the shoulder, our chamber, and perceiving our window It was no sooner day, than Betty, entering than he started up, called, as loud as he could, open, cried out,-"Ods bobs! sure you "Thieves, thieves !-Lord have mercy upon Scotchmen must have hot constitutions, to us!" And Rifle, alarmed at this exclama- lie all night with the window open, in such tion, jumped up, cocked one of his pistols, cold weather.' and turned towards the door, to kill the first sleep, and, withdrawing the curtain, called,— I feigned to start out of man that should enter; for he verily believed" What's the matter?" When she showed himself beset; when his dulcinea, after an me, I affected surprise, and said,—“ Bless immoderate fit of laughter, persuaded him me! the window was shut when we went to that the poor pedlar, dreaming of thieves, had bed." only cried out in his sleep. Meanwhile, my ney Waddle the pedlar has not got up in a "I'll be hanged," said she, "if Saw

plices of the pedlar's elopement. But 1 represented to him the danger of giving Rifle cause to think we knew his profession, and suggested, that, if ever he should meet us again on the road, he would look upon us as dangerous acquaintance, and find it his interest to put us out of the way. I told him withal my confidence in Betty's good nature, in which he acquiesced; and, during the remaining part of the night, we concerted a proper method of behaviour, to render us unsuspected in the morning.


dream and done it, for I heard him very
obstropulous in his sleep. Sure I put a
chamber-pot under his bed." With these
words she advanced to the bed in which he
lay, and, finding the sheets cold, exclaimed,
"Good lack a daisy! the rogue is fled!"
"Fled!" cried I, with feigned amazement,
"God forbid!-Sure he has not robbed us."
Then springing up, I laid hold of my breeches,
and emptied all my loose money into my
hand; which having reckoned, I said,-
"Heaven be praised, our money is all safe:-
Strap, look to the knapsack.' He did so,
and found all was right. Upon which we
asked, with seeming concern, if he had stole
nothing belonging to the house?" No, no,"
replied she, "he has stolen nothing but his
reckoning;" which, it seems, this pious ped-
lar had forgot to discharge, in the midst of
his devotion. Betty, after a moment's pause,
withdrew; and immediately we could hear
her waken Rifle, who no sooner heard of
Waddle's flight, than he jumped out of bed
and dressed, venting a thousand execrations,
and vowing to murder the pedlar, if ever he
should set eyes on him again:-"for," said
he," the scoundrel has by this time raised
the hue and cry against me." Having dressed
himself in a hurry, he mounted his horse,
and for that time rid us of his company, and
a thousand fears that were the consequence
of it. While we were at breakfast, Betty
endeavoured, by all the cunning she was
mistress of, to learn whether or not we sus-
pected our fellow-lodger, whom we saw take
horse; but as we were on our guard, we an-
swered her sly questions with a simplicity
she could not distrust; when, all of a sudden,
we heard the trampling of a horse's feet at
the door. This noise alarmed Strap so much,
whose imagination was wholly engrossed by
the image of Rifle, that, with a countenance
as pale as milk, he cried,-" O Lord! there's
the highwayman returned!" Our landlady,
staring at these words, said,—“ What high-
wayman, young man?-do you think any
highwaymen harbour here?" Though I was
very much disconcerted at this piece of indis-
cretion in Strap, I had presence of mind
enough to tell her we had met a horseman
the day before, whom Strap had foolishly
supposed to be a highwayman, because he
rode with pistols; and that he had been ter-
rified at the sound of a horse's feet ever
since. She forced a smile at the ignorance
and timidity of my comrade; but I could per-
ceive (not without great concern) that this
account was not at all satisfactory to her.

of him-Strap is put to bed at an inn― adventures at that inn.

AFTER having paid our score, and taken leave of our hostess, who embraced me tenderly at parting, we proceeded on our journey, blessing ourselves that we had come off so well. We had not walked above five miles, when we observed a man on horseback galloping after us, whom we in a short time recognised to be no other than the formidable hero who had already given us so much vexation. He stopped hard by me, and asked if I knew who he was? My astonishment had disconcerted me so much, that I did not hear his question, which he repeated with a volley of oaths and threats; but I remained as mute as before. Strap, seeing my discomposure, fell upon his knees in the mud, uttering, with a lamentable voice, these words:"For C-st's sake, have mercy upon us, Mr Rifle, -we know you very well." "Oho!" cried the thief, "you do!--but you never shall be evidence against me in this world, you dog!" So saying, he drew a pistol, and fired it at the unfortunate shaver, who fell flat upon the ground, without speaking one word. My comrade's fate, and my own situation, rivetted me to the place where I stood, deprived of all sense and reflection; so that I did not make the least attempt either to run away, or deprecate the wrath of this barbarian, who snapped a second pistol at me; but before he had time to prime again, perceiving a company of horsemen coming up, he rode off, and left me standing motionless as a statue, in which posture I was found by those whose appearance had saved my life. This company consisted of three men in livery, well armed, with an officer, who (as I afterwards learned) was the person from whom Rifle had taken the pocket pistols the day before; and who, making known his misfortune to a nobleman he met on the road, and assuring him his non-resistance was altogether owing to his consideration for the ladies in the coach, procured the assistance of his lordship's servants to go in quest of the plunderer. This holiday captain scampered up to me with great address, and asked who fired the pistol which he had heard. As I had not yet recovered my reason, he, before I could answer, observed a body lying on the ground; at which sight his colour changed, and he pronounced, with a faultering tongue,-"Gentlemen, here's murder committed! let us alight.” "No, no," said one of his followers, "let us rather pursue the murderer. Which way went he, young man?" By this time I had recollected myself so far as to tell them, that he could not be a quarter of a mile before; and to beg of one of them to assist me in conWe proceed on our journey—are overtaken veying the corpse of my friend to the next by a highwayman, who fires at Strap-house, in order to its being interred. The is prevented from shooting me by a com-captain, foreseeing that, in case he should pany of horsemen, who ride in pursuit pursue. he must soon come to action, began




[ocr errors]

present went to dancing in the yard. While we were agreeably amused in this manner, our musician, spying a horseman riding towards the inn, stopped all of a sudden, crying out,-"Gad so! gentlemen, I beg your par don; there's our dog of a doctor coming into the inn." He immediately concealed his

to curb his horse, and give him the spur at the same time, which treatment making the creature rear up and snort, he called out his horse was frightened, and would not proceed; at the same time wheeling him round and round, stroking his neck, whistling and wheedling him with "sirrah, sirrah, gently, gently," &c. "Zounds!" cried one of the ser-instrument, and ran towards the gate, where vants, sure my lord's sorrel is not resty!" he took hold of the vicar's bridle, and helped With these words he bestowed a lash on his him off, inquiring very cordially into the state buttocks, and sorrel, disdaining the rein, of his health. This rosy son of the church sprung forward with the captain at a pace (who might be about the age of fifty) having that would have soon brought him up with alighted, and entrusted the curate with his the robber, had not the girth (happily for him) horse, stalked with great solemnity into the given way, by which means he landed in the kitchen, where, sitting down by the fire, he dirt! and two of his attendants continued called for a bottle of ale and a pipe, scarce their pursuit, without minding his situation. deigning an answer to the submissive quesMeanwhile, one of the three, who remained tions of those who inquired about the welfare at my desire, turning the body of Strap, in of his family. While he indulged himself in order to see the wound which had killed him, this state, amidst a profound silence, the found him still warm, and breathing; upon curate approaching him with great reverence, which I immediately let him blood, and saw asked if he would not be pleased to honour him, with inexpressible joy, recover; he hav- us with his company at dinner? To which ing received no other wound than what his interrogation he answered in the negative, fear had inflicted. Having raised him upon saying, he had been to visit Squire Bumpkin, his legs, we walked together to an inn, about who had drank himself into a high fever at half a mile from the place, where Strap, who the last assizes; and that he had, on leaving was not quite recovered, went to bed; and, his own house, told Betty he should dine at in a little time, the third servant returned home. Accordingly, when he had made an with the captain's horse and furniture, leav-end of his bottle and pipe, he rose and moved ing him to crawl after as well as he could. with prelatical dignity to the door, where This gentleman of the sword, upon his ar- his journeyman stood ready with his nag. rival, complained grievously of the bruise He had no sooner mounted, than the faceoccasioned by his fall: and, on the recom-tious curate coming into the kitchen, held mendation of the servant, who warranted forth in this manner; "There the old rasmy ability, I was employed to bleed him, for which service he rewarded me with half

a crown.

cal goes, and the d-l go with him. You see how the world wags, gentlemen. By Gad, this rogue of a vicar does not deserve The time between this event and dinner, I to live; and yet he has two livings worth passed in observing a game at cards between £400 per annum, while poor I am fain to do two farmers, an exciseman, and a young fel-all his drudgery, and ride twenty miles every low in a rusty gown and cassock, who, as I Sunday to preach, for what? why, truly, for afterwards understood, was curate of a neigh-£20 a-year. I scorn to boast of my own bouring parish. It was easy to perceive that qualifications: but-comparisons are odious. the match was not equal, and that the two I should be glad to know how this swagfarmers, who were partners, had to do with bellied doctor deserves to be more at ease a couple of sharpers, who stript them of all than me. He can loll in his elbow chair at their cash in a very short time. But what home, indulge himself in the best of victuals surprised me very much was, to hear this and wine, and enjoy the conversation of Betty, clergyman reply to one of the countrymen, his housekeeper. You understand me, genwho seemed to suspect foul play, in these tlemen. Betty is the doctor's poor kinswords;-"D-n me, friend, d'ye question woman, and a pretty girl she is ; but no matter my honour?"-I did not at all wonder to find for that:-ay, and a dutiful girl to her parents, a cheat in canonicals, this being a character whom she visits regularly every year: though, frequent in my own country; but I was scan-I must own, I could never learn in what dalized at the indecency of his behaviour, which appeared in the oaths he swore, and the bawdy songs which he sung. At last, to make amends, in some sort, for the damage he had done to the unwary boors, he pulled out a fiddle from the lining of his gown, and, promising to treat them at dinner, began to play most melodiously, singing in concert all the while. This good humour of the parson inspired the company with so much glee, that the farmers soon forgot their losses, and all

country they live-my service t'ye, gentlemen." By this time dinner being ready, I waked my companion, and we ate all together with great cheerfulness. When our meal was ended, and every man's share of the reckoning adjusted, the curate went out on pretence of some necessary occasion, and mounting his horse, left the two farmers to satisfy the host in the best manner they could. We were no sooner informed of this piece of finesse, than the exciseman, who had been

next_village-he escapes-we arrive at another inn, where we go to bed-in the night we are awaked by a dreadful adventure-next night we lodge at the house of a schoolmaster-our treatment there.

silent hitherto, began to open with a malicious grin:-"Ay, ay, this is an old trick of Shuffle: I could not help smiling when he talked of treating. You must know this is a very curious fellow. He picked up some scraps of learning while he served young Lord Trifle at the university. But what he most excels in is pimping. No man knows his STRAP and I were about to depart on our talents better than I; for I was valet-de- journey, when we perceived a crowd on the chambre to Squire Tattle, an intimate com- road, coming towards us, shouting and halpanion of Shuffle's lord. He got himself looing all the way. As it approached, we into a scrape, by pawning some of his lord- could discern a man on horseback in the ship's clothes, on which account he was middle, with his hands tied behind him, whom turned away; but, as he was acquainted with we soon knew to be Rifle. This highwaysome particular circumstances of my lord's man not being so well mounted as the two conduct, he did not care to exasperate him servants who went in pursuit of him, was too much, and so made interest for his re- soon overtaken, and, after having discharged ceiving orders, and afterwards recommended his pistols, made prisoner without any further him to the curacy which he now enjoys. opposition. They were carrying him in triHowever, the fellow cannot be too much umph, amidst the acclamations of the counadmired for his dexterity in making a com- try people, to a justice of peace in a neighfortable livelihood, in spite of such a small bouring village, but stopped at our inn to allowance. You hear he plays a good stick, join their companion, and take refreshment. and is really diverting in company. These When Rifle was dismounted, and placed in qualifications make him agreeable wherever the yard, within a circle of peasants armed he goes; and, as for playing at cards, there with pitchforks, I was amazed to see what a is not a man within three counties a match pitiful dejected fellow he now appeared, who for him the truth is, he is a d-ble cheat, had but a few hours before filled me with and can shift a card with such address, that such terror and confusion. My companion it is impossible to discover him." Here he was so much encouraged by this alteration was interrupted by one of the farmers, who in his appearance, that, going up to the thief, asked why he had not justice enough to ac- he presented his clenched fists to his nose, quaint them with these particulars before and declared he would either cudgel or box they engaged in play? The exciseman re- with him for a guinea, which he immediately plied, without any hesitation, that it was none produced, and began to strip, but was disof his business to intermeddle between man suaded from this adventure by me, who reand man; besides, he did not know they presented to him the folly of the undertaking, were ignorant of Shuffle's character, which as Rifle was now in the hands of justice, was notorious to the whole country. This which would, no doubt, give us all satisfacdid not satisfy the other, who taxed him with tion enough. But what made me repent of abetting and assisting the curate's knavery, our impertinent curiosity, was our being and insisted on having his share of the win-detained by the captors as evidence against nings returned: this demand the exciseman as positively refused, affirming, that whatsoever slights Shuffle might practice on other occasions, he was very certain that he had played on the square with them, and would answer it before any bench in Christendom; so saying, he got up, and having paid his reckoning, sneaked off. The landlord thrusting his neck into the passage to see if he was gone, shook his head, saying," Ah! Lord help us, if every sinner was to have his deserts. Well, we victuallers must not disoblige the excisemen. But I know what :if parson Shuffle and he were weighed together, a straw thrown into either scale, would make the balance kick the beam. But, masters, this is under the rose," continued Boniface, with a whisper.


The highwayman is taken—we are detained as evidence against him—proceed to the


him, when we were just going to set forward. However, there was no remedy; we were obliged to comply; and, accordingly, joined in the cavalcade, which luckily took the same road that we had proposed to follow. About the twilight we arrived at the place of our destination; but as the justice was gone to visit a gentleman in the country, with whom (we understood) he would probably stay all night, the robber was confined in an empty garret, three stories high, from which it seemed impossible for him to escape. This, nevertheless, was the case; for next morning, when they went up stairs to bring him before the justice, the bird was flown, having got out at the window upon the roof, from whence he continued his route along the tops of the adjoining houses, and entered another garret window, where he skulked until the family were asleep, at which time he ventured down stairs, and let himself out by the street door, which was found open. This event was a great disappointment to those that apprehended him, who were flushed with hopes of

« VorigeDoorgaan »