Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

had trode on his toes, all he sulkily muttered was, “ 'Twas enough, sure Prince Rusty's affairs were in his hands.”

“ I don't much like this game of mum-chance, Mister O'Bradley,” said another Don. “ Do you know the cards you have to play, Sir? I, for my own part have a house over my head to burn, and a weazen to cut some morning. John is rabid—no doubt of it-about the usage of himself and his wife, by my Most Mighty and Potent Cousin, whom, as of my blood, I stick by—but yet

“ And what but yet, Sir Don?” cries Hookey, firing with passion.

Why,” put in Heckelpins, - here's cause for doubt and pause; but none whatever to surrender our personal and most invaluable privileges and rights, identified with those of that Most Mighty and Potent, &c. &c. This vixen of John's, I am credibly assured, will not part with the keys; has brave Hookey in that case any resource ? She will, that vile fellow Chronie says, part with her life before what the stupid minx calls her virtue.”

Deuce take her virtue,” cried Ally, “ if we had her keys, I warrant we'd soon get all we want of her ;" but the new Clerk of Oxenforde, a grave man, rebuked this as an unseemly speech to get abroad :

-and this sort of thing went on, till a special messenger arrives to Hookey, whispering that the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, a mighty personage in John's neighbourhood, was at the last gasp,-fairly in her deaththroes,-either struck with mortal panic, or, as some said, stabbed all over the body by Brummagem Tom -;—and for certain seized with universal runnings, which must speedily exhaust her strength :-to-morrow must be the critical day with her.” Here a mighty clamour got up, and in the midst of it, one said, Brown Bess no longer denied her connexion with the Dominie :--down at the Gunsmith's Shop, she had openly gloried in it. Hookey looked as grim as a wolf's-mouth; and then in a voice of thunder, and with the eye of a mad doctor, made silence among them. For Prince Rusty and the Old Gentlewoman, John's mother, he, in his heart, cared scarce a pin-point; but Brown Bess and the Lady of Threadneedle Street were very different persons.

“ Mayn't we have a fumble at Pitapat's farthings,” cried he. “ If so, devil take the Old Woman of Threadneedle, and all old women whatsomever, whether in coifs, or periwigs ; give me the blunt, and I'll manage 'Squire John yet.” But the wig rose from the scalp of Old Bags at this hellish proposal of touching, were it but one of Billy's fructifying coins before they had duly ripened and borne fruit. “Had it pleased the pigs,” he said, “ that he had come into the world about the same time with the other venerable patriarchs and Judges in Israel, instead of appearing, for the good of 'Squire Bull, in these latter times, he might peradventure have dibbled in a couple of farthings himself on the Pitting system, from his own private savings, to fructify for John's sake; which would, by this time, have been a pretty penny, towards clearing off his encumbrances; and might have kept peace in the family, and between the 'Squire and his mother, money being, as was said in Holy writ, the root of all evil. And this I would have done for the 'Squire, cruelly and harshly, and most ungratefully as he has “ As you were going to say, Nestor," quoth Ally.

“Very strange,” mumbled Bags, adjusting his wig, “ that these Rusty lads admire my poor wit and wisdom so much, but will take none of the benefit of it.”

But this bye-play was nothing to the main scene now acting among

the Dons; where it was “Your ambition and presumption, sirrah !" while Swaggerer shook his fist in Hookey's face; “ and your damned idiotic pride,” retorted Atty. Huffing Hal, his bottle-holder, bustled up for him; and there would certainly have been a regular set-to at this time, had the Old Gentlewoman, John's mother, not thrown her silk apron over their weapon-points, and Bags dashed the powder of his wig in their eyes, praying them to be quiet, for the rogue Tims would be sure to report every blow exchanged.

“ I'll pay you all back for this,” quoth Hookey; and in a foaming rage he Aings off, and marches straight into John's great hall, where, with a face of brass, as Tims said, he struts up to Mrs. Bull, as one, on the best possible terms with her and her husband, and as if no such a person as Gaffer Grey had ever been heard of.

“ I'd be glad, Sirrah," quoth Mrs. Bull, “ to know who does my hus. band's business in this house. As Bill Boswain cannot overtake all our business himself, I'd be glad to learn that he has got proper helpers, and such as my husband can approve.-Who, pray, is to do my husband's work and answer my bell?” Hookey was silent, but looked as sulky as the devil; but up bounces Meinheir Pastabaring, saying, “ he believed 'Squire John had once more the happiness and honour of being served by the brave and gallant Hookey, who beat the world at cock-fighting ; and certainly if he had that happiness and honour, never plain 'Squire was so nobly served before. He only feared the news was too good to be true.” Mrs. Bull turns to the old sparrer himself for explanation ; who in a swaggering, devil-may-care sort of way, and folding up his fambles, replies, “ Perhaps he was honest John's servant-perhaps he was not-he had always understood it was Bill Boswain's servant he was—the 'Squire was but in the second place. It was Bill's pleasure and interest he minded, as in duty bound. At any rate, if he ever entered that hall again, it was all to oblige Bill and his spirity wife, he should be so persuaded and condescend :-he'd be hanged for his own part, if he cared three skips of a flea for the place ;-he'd as lief be popping behind a hedge at a partridge.”

Mrs. Bull drew herself up with dignity ; “ Before you, or any one enter on the 'Squire's service, you would require to understand its duties something better, brave Sir. I presume you have not heard the message that I, 'Squire Bull's wife, sent to my hushand's head steward last night. His wife is nothing to the 'Squire, nor yet to me, I'd have you to know, save that we like to have, in their own proper place, all our people happy and comfortable about us, and handsomely maintained. But for females to forget themselves in this fashion-what do they fancy their place in my husband's establishment ?" Again, Mrs. Bull drew herself up.

“ Tims and Chronie have, I see, been priming her-Tom will set the match to her linstock, and the devil will be to pay,” thought Hookey; so lowering his crow, he says, “ That he must own, he had got a new light on the subject of Madam Reform and Rusty's pretensions. “ If Mrs. Bull herself was willing, that, as his friend Glorifluckum said, made a deuce of a difference :-he'd be hanged before he helped to bring a Duenna into the house—he hated the name of such, and all narrow-minded puritanical doings; but if the 'Squire insisted, and since Bill had half

1

* The explanations of the Duke and Mr. Baring, in Parliament, were not the least amusing part of these memorable transactions.

« Yea,

promised, and as Mrs. Bull was also willing, why he had, after all, no particular objection to hand Madam in himself:-and here he kept twisting his whiskers, and added, " ay, in spite of fifty fighting Winchys, Orator Mansies, Paddy Roddys, Old Heckelpins; and the whole tot of their musty High Mightinesses now assembled in divan at the Mitre, with their bead-roll of jaw-breaking names might raise the devil. He was a plain fellow, Arthur O'Bradley, liked to see fair play, and hated all blarney."

Mrs. Bull gave as high-bred a stare at this speech as if born a lady :and on he went,—“Let the 'Squire be grateful, Ma'am, and know his best friend; whose only fault is a blunt, off-hand, foolish honesty ; and I bet you a pair of new ear-rings, I'll soon content honest John; ay, and your ladyship too, better than fifty of that hoity-toity pragmatical stiff-backed Gaffer, who is a Rusty at bottom. True I read that rigmarole last night against Madam :—the devil confound the Pettifogger who put it into my head ; but what then?—all my eye !-a man may change his mind I suppose ? Bob settled that canon long ago. The 'Squire,” he muttered indistinctly, “has a guess how I can compass the Old Gentlewoman. Give me time, Ma’am, I'll content him * ***** Down on her marrow-bones :-refund to John ****** that pokerly Rusty, too, whose friends have used me like a dog—there's the truth on't.”

“ You mean to say that you yourself—you, Arthur O’Bradley, or whatever you may be called—you would bring in Madam !” cried Mrs. Bull in unfeigned astonishment, thinking she had not heard aright. 1, Arthur O'Bradley !-where's the wonder, pray, ma’am?” Mrs. Bull made no answer, but Tims did, and with a vengeance to it.

The whistle John gave, when Tims tells him of this next morning at breakfast, might have been heard as far as Brentford ; and he turns me up the whites of his eyes, till you could see no more blue in them than in the welkin, on a snowy Christmas.

“ Content me !-me, John Bull !—the devil he would !-with the bil. boes, and the cold iron diet, and the ring in my pig's snout,' lest I nuzzle out the tricks of his giglets and varlets of the back-stairs ! As I live by beef, the cool impudence of this knave beats cockfighting ! He guard the purity of my wife! He, Hookey! He bring in Madam ! Lord ! Lord !” and again the 'Squire throws up his day-lights. But this was but for a moment:-and up he starts, for he was sure some rank devilry was in the wind now.

“Now, after that, the lift may fall, and smother the laverocks!” cried Peg, when Murdo's caddie arrived post-haste with the tidings. Murdo was indeed to her ever most attentive, and she accordingly ordered his lad cakes and cheese, and a dram, while she glanced over Murdo's letter, “ The virtuous Corporal Hookey,” quoth she, “ bring in my brother John's friend, Madam !” for there was nothing going with Peg now but “ my brother John,” at every word ; “ the impudent, fause loon !" for Peg was a lass of religion and conscience, and was now for the first and last time fairly disgusted with the brave Hookey. “ If he had dirked her, Madam I mean, I could have forgiven him ; but the back o' my hand to the fause hypocrite !” Indeed the whole neighbourhood shouted in derision to his face; Pat called him “ the Omadhaun ;" " and how can myself or any other jontleman believe the word comes out of the throat of him, or thank him, the tief of the world ! for the good turn he'd ever again do, barrin' it was in him to do a good turn. He bring in Madam ! -whew!

When the devil was sick, the devil a monk would be ;

When the devil got well, the devil a monk was he. 'Ware the tripper-general! First, after all his trippings, he trips me up the heels of gentle Georgy; a purty lad of figure and parts both, who loved me well too, in his heart, if he durst have shewed it. Next he turns Husky adrift, a bred clerk—though sure enough I did think him a bit of a bother with his crabbed pot-hooks and hangers, and his new-fangled tallies that never tallied ; not minding a rap,-Hookey I mean never did, --if his pride was pleased, what became of your invoices and ledgers, Master John."

And who pray, like a great goose, cackled loudest, when I sent that pragmatical Husky to the right about, with his priggish counting-house airs to me, an old cock-fighter?—who but the clear-headed and most wor. shipful 'Squire Bull ?” cried Hookey staring at John, as if he had him at drill in the awkward squad. The 'Squire could hardly deny this, for then who but Hookey! with John. Hookey was to do this, and Hookey was to do that :-but this only made the 'Squire the madder now, especially to be bullied in this way, and convicted, too, before Peg and Pat. By Jingo !” he foams out, “ if you don't take yourself off !” “What will you do, pray, most valorous 'Squire ?" cries Hookey, snapping his fingers, as Tims said, in John's face; and the 'Squire had certainly have given him a sound drubbing then, which John was well able to do, had not friends interposed, and said it was not worth his while to meddle with the fool, and tore him away, more resolved than ever to keep Mas. ter O'Bradley out of his premises.

“ Blatant Brute!" cried Hookey again looking after him ; “ but now nothing keeps me from running the ring in your snout; and what if Madam's bodkin should serve me for pincers ? and what is more, it shall too, or I'm not named Hooknose !" And off he shuffles once more to Bill's house. A stirring hard life he had of it, for so old a sinner; but, as Peg said, “ Needs must, whom deils and lasses drive."

From that hour John had no faith to put in Atty, and could no more have trusted him alone with Madam than a fox with his chickens. He certainly had designs on her life, disguised under the pretence of leading her up stairs. Even that rampant cousin of Rusty's, the new clerk of Oxenforde, among others, exclaimed against his knavery. “ What he vowed yesterday he'll disclaim to-day,” quoth he; “ he beats my wor thy predecessor, Bob, hollow. He, like a lad of grace, generally takes from two to three days, to make a grand wheel.”

This same night the Steels and Brummagem Tom formed themselves into a body guard for Madam, resolved never to lose sight of her now night or day, till Greysteel was steward, and she herself fairly housed in honour. There came a rumour too, that same day, that Hookey intended to strangle Mrs. Bull, since she disdained his courtship, with his own hands at midnight !-and more horrible still, that Bill Boswain was art in part, or as Peg said, an accessary before the fact ! But this seems too bad ; and as nothing came of it ,it might be another piece of scandal against poor Bill; of which there was plenty going at this time on all sides.

Never was poor 'Squire's family in such a condition as John's was now;the Steels yelling and knocking home the Rustys at every corner; Tims and Chronie, and the whole batch jumping hither and thither like Wills o the Wisp : Prince Rusty fit to hang himself in his green and red garters, of which he was usually so proud ; the Old Gentlewoman frantic,

and the Lady of Threadneedle Street expected this night to finish her long career of pride, glory, and full house-keeping! You will be sur. prised that poor Bill should know very little of all this; for though by this time it was · Hell and Tommy'in his back parlour, all was mum before him. Here Hookey now stood in his spurs; and there the gossoons had in haste assembled Noodle and Doodle, and all those ancient greybeards of the Rusty.clan who had been bed-rid for years, and all their kith, kin, and allies, man, woman, and child, cur, and turnspit, to see how Hookey was to be kept in place. But these worthies I leave to their own coun. sels and devices, and turn to poor Bill, who, snug up stairs in his own cock-loft, was sipping a glass of moderately stiff grog with his friend Tom Pipes. And in high spirits, cock-sure he had now pleased 'Squire John, by ordering Atty to lead in Madam, he trolled forth the old stave,

Ho! why dost thou shiver and shake, Gaffer Grey,

And why does thy nose look so blue ? But of this you shall hear anon; as also of the warning visit of his Cousin Jockey of Norfolk, the peaching of Sly Bob, and Peg's marriage, in our concluding chapter.

HYMN, ON THE PASSING OF THE THREE REFORM BILLS-BY THE AUTHOR OF

“ CORN LAW RHYMES."

We thank Thee, Lord of Earth and Heav'n,
For hope, and strength and triumph given!
We thank Thee that the fight is won,
Athough our work is but begun.
We met-we crush'd the evil powers;
A nobler task must now be ours;
Their victims, maim'd and poor, to feed,
And bind the bruis'd and broken reed.
Oh, let not Ruin's will be done,
When Freedom's fight is fought and won!
The deed of Brougham, Russell, Grey,
Outlives the night! Lord, give us day!
Grant time, grant patience, to renew,
What England's foes and thine o'erthrew;
If they destroy'd, let us restore,
And say to Misery, mourn no more.
Lord, let the human storm be stilrd !
Lord, let the million mouths be fill'd!
Let labour cease to toil in vain!
Let Britain be herself again!
Then shall thisL and her arm stretch forth,
To bless the East, and tame the North ;
On tyrants' hearths wake buried souls,
And call to life the murdered Poles.
Lord, hear our hymn !-the sound shall go
Wherever Freedom finds a foe :
This day, a trumpet's voice is blown,
O’er every despot's heart and throne.
"Twill keep the gore-gorg'd Hun at home,
Or quench his howl in gory foam ;
'Twill chain him in his den of ice,
Or make his grave a paradise.

« AnteriorContinuar »