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long before he wanted it, and before then something would turn up. So they went on, the Newtons and others. Why had they not gone on so long before ? Because their neighbours before had no money themselves to tempt their neighbours with, and had that sort of simple consciences that they had a horror of coveting their neighbours' goods.
Nobody could be more forbearing, more considerate, more kind, than good Sampson looks; he never asked them for the money nor for the interest ; on the contrary, lie always had a smile and a nod for them when he met them ; stopped his great lofty roadster and asked how they all went on.
But in a while there came riding into the village a singular little fellow, on a little yellowish pony, with whitish legs and a face white all on one side. The man was a little lean man, yet with a considerable paunch, as if all his food turned into fat there. IIe had an oll hat on, particularly sun-burnt and slouching in the brim ; an old blue coat with metal buttons ; a waistcoat that folded over and buttoned across the front of a tawny kind of checked stuff; a blue-spotted cotton handkerchief on ; corduroy small clothes, and old fustian gaiters well splashed with the roads -the roads then were abominable. Ilis horse was also splashed up to the sides, and he urged him on by the constant use of one old jingling spur. There was a still, close look in the solid ruddy face and small black eyes, nearly lost under the slouching hatbrim of this little man ; and the little horse had also a look as if he would be always going just the way that his ridler did not wish him, for which he got incessant jerks in the mouth with the bridle, kicks with the one spur, and thumps on the flank with a tough and heavy ash plant.
This man, who was destined to be well known in that village, rode up to the door of Bill Newton, tied his horse to the hook in the wall, and walking in with one hand on his stick as a staff, and the other in his brecches pocket, with a sort of stealthy and unsteady gait, announced himself as Joe Ling, the bailiff of Mr. Sampson IIooks.
He said, that as he put Mr. IIooks' accounts in order, he had found two or three trifles which related to him, Bill Newton. He did not want to hurry him. Mr. Hooks hurried nobody—in fact, he was such a man, that if he, Joe Ling, did not take care of things a little, he would soon be like the child that gave away his breakfast because another cried for it, and then had to cry
itself. Never was there such a good-natured, careless fellow. He had put these little matters together, and if it were not convenient to pay just then, why he, Bill Newton, could put his name to a bit of paper which he had brought with him, and which he presented. Bill Newton, who, of course, could not pay, and did not half like the looks of this fellow so well as those of Sampson IIooks, told Joe Ling that he had no doubt but that it was all right, and that he would see Mr. IIooks himself about it. To his great mortification he then found that Joe Ling was as deaf as a door-nail, and that he could do nothing at all with him. Ile only answered quite beside the mark; as, · Yes, it really was fine weather : No, there was really no hurry at all; he had only to sign that bit of paper.
Bill Newton shouted into the man's ears that he could not sign it,-he would see Mr. IIooks about it.
Oh, very well, I can wait a little; I did not know you were busy; don't let me listurb
can wait!” IIe clapped himself down in an old arm chair, poked the children on the hearth in the ribs with his stick as they lay there staring at him, and, making a low chuckling sort of half-laugh, half-wheezing, added, “Oh no; no hurry at all!"
Bill tried again to drive his meaning into him ; it was hopeless. He only replied, “ Oh yes, he was sure the amount was cast up right; but he could take his time, and look it over. IIe had only to put his name where he had shown him.”
Bill, then, making a sort of funnel of his hands, put them to his car, and shouted into it that he had to go out, and bid him good morning "Oh, yes,” said Ling, “Mr. IIooks is an uncommon good-natured man: ererybody knew that!”
Bill Newton went out; and Ling, waiting for some time, took a stroll into some of the neighbours' houses on the like errand, leaving his horse at Bill's door. Three liours afterwards, at dinner-time, Bill returned, and saw, to his desperate vexation, the fellow's pony still hanging at his door ; and scarcely was he himself got within, where the pudding was already smoking on the table, than in walked Joe Ling, and on Bill's saying that he had no occasion to wait, he replied, “Why, yes, he would take a bit of dinner with them, for waiting so long had made him hungry." Without ceremony he drew a chair, helped himself liberally to the pudding, and talked on of Dr. IIooks, and all his good-nature, and what a heap of concerns he had on his hands in the village
he himself (that is, Ling) came from, till Bill Vewton wished him at Jamaica. But Joe Ling was in no hurry to be off, either to Jamaica where else. Ile sate, ate, drank, joked with the wife, poked the children in the ribs, and made himself very much at home. Bill Newton's choler began to rise, for the Newtons were a very choleric family, and he thought several times of knocking the impudent fellow off his seat; but he remembered Sampson IIooks, and the debt, and restrained himself. But he ate his dinner sullenly; and with the disappearance of the last mouthful strolled out of the house, and betook himself to the King of Prussia. Ilere, with his cup before him, but boiling with wrath, he despatched a little lad several times to see whether Ling's pony still hung at his door. lle returned every time with the same tale-it still was there. Roused to a pitch of fury, he started up, hastened down the village with murderous thoughts in his mind, when, to his very agreeable surprise, he saw his door, but no pony there. IIe wheeled round, and once more regaining the public house, spent the evening there in endeavouring to drown his chagrin in the company of the jolly frequenters of the old house. What was his surprise, however, at ten o'clock at night, to find, as he entered his cottage, Joe Ling comfortably ensconced in the old arm-chair, and the pony well-suppered up in the stable!
“ Thou 'st kept me long, my lad; thou'st kept me long. I did not know that thou meant to pay all up this time ; but well and good, well and good ; I can stay till morning—it will never do to venture home on such roads in the dark. I've got my night-cap, luckily, and ony bit of a bed will do for me."
Bill paused for a moment, considering whether he should nos pound him to a jelly with his own ash sapling; but another thought occurred to him : he whispered to his son Jem, and betook himself, without wasting another word on Ling, to bed.
This son Jem made signs to Ling to follow him, took him into his room, and made signs to him that he must make shift with half his bed. Joc Ling nodded his approbation, adding, as if to himself, “ IIalf a loaf is better than no bread.”
He was soon between the sheets, when, to his astonishment, Jem Newton, a great brawny fellow, heaped a great pile of malt bags on the bed, and crept under them himself.
What's that ?” said Joe Ling, half crushed and half smothered. “What does the lad mean? Why, man, this mountain would
crush a horse's ribs in, and swelter him to death ;” upon which he began to fling them off. But in this process he was interrupted by Jem, with a knock on the chest, followed by another on the nose, and a loud outcry of “ What does the fellow mean? If you will lie wi' me, you mun lie as I do. I've gotten th' ague, I tell you, and mun ha' my bags on me!”
Ling, who found that he had got a terrible fellow to deal with, ducked down quietly, but with many a groan and many a sigh did he bear his mountainous burden till the daylight began to peep, when, springing up, he saw that the young rogue had laid all the bags on his (Ling's side), and had been sleeping most comfortably himself with the usual quantity of sheets and blankets on him. Ling soon descended below, and appeared again at breakfast time with a note from Sampson Hooks, who begged in most courteous terms that Bill Newton would just sign the trifling account which his bailiff had brought. “ He was a good soul, was Ling, but a perfect formalist in business. He would oblige him by signing, and letting him go about his affairs. All would be right; there was no occasion in the world for hurry.'
Bill signed his name to be rid of the fellow himself. This was the first appearance of Joe Ling, but it was a sample of what they would find him. On all occasions he was just as deaf, and just as invariably imperturbable. IIe always lauded the good-nature of Hooks, and Hooks praised him for å thoroughly good fellow, but such a man for business!
So things went on some years, when at once a regular storm broke out. The Newtons, and many others, found that they actually, drunk or sober, had signed mortgages, and that for sums of such amount as they vowed they had never had. How this was we cannot pretend to tell, but certain it is, that when old Joe Ling met any of these people at the market town or elsewhere, he was always most civil, treated them like a king, and on one occasion posted off to Derby in the night, in a great hurry, while he had one of them drunk as a piper at an inn in a neighbouring village, returned before the sun was up, paid him over a sum of money, and saw him sign a deed. Soon after the man was called upon to evacuate his cottage and fields, according to terms of sale, when he declared he had never made a sale ; but found a regular deed drawn out of the pocket of Joe Ling, with his signature there to a certainty, in his own undeniable hand.
In short, never was there such a hubbub! The Newtons, and
five or six others, found their mortgages foreclosed, and their little property gone, as in a dream. This man had sold, and did not know when ; and the whole place was up and vowing to tear down Sampson Ilooks' house about his ears, and murder him and his rascally swindler, Joe Ling.
What did Sampson Ilooks? Did he shrink? Did he defy, or eren justify? No: he role through the village daily, calm and smiling, and inquiring into the health and happiness of those he met; and when he met with black and threatening looks, asked, with the greatest and most simple mildness, what was amiss? Had he done anything to offend them?
**Ilave you done anything?" said indignantly some of the sturdy villagers; “has not your scoundrel man, Ling, robbed and cheated us all ? Ilas not he got almost every man's property into his clutches? Hlave we any of us now a home of our own? When was it before that any
of us had our houses and fields in debt? And how the devil hås the fellow managed to heap up charges against us?”.
To this Sampson IIooks replied with a look of surprise, which, if it were feigned, was well feigned; it looked very genuine and very. natural.
“Oh! dear," said he, “it grieves me extremely that you should think that any body belonging to me should use you unfairly. I am sure my only wish has been to see you comfortable. Have not I lent you money for that purpose ? Have not I always advised you to good and prudent management? Oh! dear, this is very unpleasant! But let me be assured that Mr. Ling has done anything unhandsome, and it shall be instantly righted-instantly. High as is my opinion of him, nothing in such a case should screen him. But my good people, I cannot think, I really cannot think it, indeed. I have seen so much of Joseph Ling, and never could I detect him in any dirty action; on the contrary, he has always appeared a most innocent, faithful creature; quite careless of himself-quite; but his faithful spirit makes him, perhaps, too eager to serve his master. But let all be examined-let all be examined into-and if any wrong be done, let it be righted ; nay, if you can pay off all your debts, or can find any one else to take up your property, willingly will I relinquish it! Oh! what good would it do me to win the whole parish, and yet make enemies of all my good neighbours ? Why should I ? Have I not enough? Have I any one to save for ? llave I child or chick ? Let the thing be searched into-let it be searched into—for this state of matters grieves me,