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grieves me deeply. Appoint your man, I will send mine, and all shall be set fair and straight between us-quickly! quickly!”
Sampson Ilooks rode away apparently deeply wounded, and Mrs. Sampson Hooks soon entered some of the cottages of the people to see the sick, and said, " IIow sorely her dear Mr. Hooks was afflicted that his neighbours thought so badly of him. Never had she seen him in such a taking! No rest day nor night, nothing but restless watchfulness ; getting up, lying down, groans and tears. It was but last night,” said she, and the tears rushed to her eyes ; “I woke at twelve o'clock, and found him standing by the window, looking out into the moonlight! Dear Mr. Hooks, I exclaimed, 'what are you doing? You will be the death of yourself if you do so! Never mind, dear Mr. Hooks, never mind ! You have had the best intentions, and if you are hardly thought of, it will only be the lot of all good and tender-hearted people! In this world ye shall have tribulation. But take heart, dear, take heart ; all will soon be made right-all will be cleared up.
“ • Dear Mrs. IIooks,' said my dear Mr. Hooks, with a deep sigh, this is a sweet place--a paradise of a place I may call it; and what pleasure I have had in planning and laying it out! and what a pleasure it was to me to think that here should we live amid a loving people, on whom we might be able to shed blessings ! But it cuts me to the heart—it does indeed : and now, sweet as is this spot, I can take no pleasure in it: that is all over now, for the charm is gone since I have through my good intentions incurred the resentment of my neighbours.
Mrs. Hooks was too much affected to proceed, and took her leave weeping, and walked up the village with a heavy and slow step that touched the tender bosom of every cottage-dame who
“Oh, the villain ! Oh, that sarpent Ling! What a consarn has he made on it! To bring us all, and his Mester and Missis into all this trouble. Surely they must, after all, be good folks ; and it is that old deaf villain that has been making a hand of them and us. But there 'll come a storm one of these days, and he must pack, I warrant ye.
Out with him-out, I say,
with all such sarpents!”
The lawyers met ; old Joe Ling was there, as well as Sampson Hooks, and all the village concerned, in the parlour of the King of Prussia.
“Let the poor people have every justice, every possible favour,”
said Mr. Sampson IIooks to his attorney. “ Reflect that you are seeking satisfaction for them rather than for me. I want no satisfaction but to see them satisfied.”
The examination went on ; their own lawyer was keen and subtle, and every one now said in his heart, "Now old deaf ’un, now old Ling, thou ’lt catch it.” But old Ling seened by no means cast down, nor at all in any eagerness to justify himself ; indeed, he seemed not to be capable of understanding that any complaint lay against him. Ile drew document after document and book after book out of his bag, and gave every question its appropriate answer ; but his deafness seemed as complete a coat of defence as the shell of the tortoise. When the opposite lawyer told him that heavy suspicions were entertained of his proceedings, he only replied, “Oh yes, Mr. IIooks was always too goodnatured."
As he could not be got at through his cars, he made a direct pass at his eyes in the shape of a piece of paper, on which he wrote the same conciliatory assertion. Ling read it, and then laughed, as at a most capital joke.
most capital joke. “Oh Lord! oh Lord! What nonsense!
I've cheated 'em? Who says it ? Stuff! Ar' n't all the accounts here? Is not every figure here? Is n't all right cast up? Try, see! try it-try it ony one on you! Who says I've cheated 'em ?
They say! They say, is the first word of a lie! There, cast 'em up, I say ; examine 'em ony way yo likc, and if yo catch old Joe Ling in a trick, why I'll never eat bread again.
They cast up; they examined ; they questioned and crossquestioned, but they could make nothing appear, but that the villagers had been very foolish, and made very bad bargains ; and that Joe Ling had made very good ones for his master; but all was regular, most regular. The only thing that stood somewhat in the
way of fair play, was buying the land from the drunken man. But Joe Ling stoutly denied that he was then any more drunk than at any other time. “ Can ony on yo tell me,
" when he is right sober, and when he is not? Can ony on yo find him morning, noon or night, without his pot o’beer? But, what if he has made a bad bargain, now is the time to unbargain it ! IIasn't Mr. IIooks said, “ Pay me the money back and I yield the purchase ?'”
Nothing could be fairer. The man was asked if he could get the money somewhere and
it back. He desired time, and the
opposite lawyer offered to find him a man ; but somehow the time went over. Two or three people came, saw the land, shook their heads, and went away, and so the matter ended.
The villagers were defeated, though it cannot be said that they were silenced, for they were very savage, and talked in the King of Prussia more fiercely than ever. It was said that the whole was a juggle ; that the opposite lawyer had been feed by old Ling; the men who came to see the land that had been sold were sent on purpose by this villain lawyer; and the whole was a hoax and a smoke. Be that as it may, many years went on.
Ilooks was as mild as ever-Ling as deaf as ever. He rode on his yellowish little horse in the very same old hat, old blue coat, spattered gaiters, and jingling spur, as usual, into the village at certain times ; and it was observed that after every one of these visits there rose a furious clamour, and many curses and some conspicuous change followed. But it was only when a number of years had passed that the whole change was visible. Then it was seen how many old cottages had actually vanished, how many of the old croft hedges had got stubbed up, and what great wide ploughed fields lay in their places ; what numbers of old orchards and gardens were gone. The place, in truth, looked much
much more open and modern.
There were new cottages arisen in long rows, without gardens and pigstys, it is true; and what was more striking was, that almost all the people were mere labourers without a yard of land, and almost all the land and the village belonged to Sampson Ilooks.
What now struck them also as almost as extraordinary was, that not only had the people no longer a foot of land to call their own, but all the old foot-paths which used to run in every possible direction round the village, and away over the fields and commons to the next hamlet had got stopped up and lost.
There had been no application to the sessions for the purpose, yet the paths which used to give most delicious Sunday and holiday walks to the villagers were somehow gone. This had been done by stubbing up a variety of hedges, and ploughing up the land, so that the real direction had been, for a time, lost, especially as the rain made the newly dug and ploughed up ground such a perfect slough of mud and wet, that, in winter, it was impassable; and then, when spring came, and the corn sprung up, it was found to be let to some poor fellow that the people could not find in their NO. XXI. — VOL. IV.
hearts to do a damage to. But they were very clamorous to Sampson Ilooks himself, who always was put into a great flutter of concern at these matters which he himself never attended to. Mr. Ling should look better to these things, and avoid such complaints. Certainly, the people must have a path. Oh, certainly! But as it would now injure Thomas IIobson's or James Simpson's corn, they would perhaps be so good as to go a little round, or in another direction. Vay, a way should be opened for them through his own park, much nearer, much pleasanter. And this was done. Could anything be more accommodating?
In a few years, however, when the right to the old way was lost, then came that eternal old Joe Ling and stopped up the new road through the park; but such depredations had been committed on the trees in the park, and the hall was so exposed to thieves by these foot-roads so near it, that really they must be closed. But the people should harc a road. Mr. IIooks would see where it could go to the advantage of all parties. But time went on, and it never could be settled where the road should run. Then again rose the choler of the villagers ; hatchets and picks were taken, gates were cut down, fences cut through, and the old roads opened with much triumph and jubilee. The whole village was in a ferment, and the women stood at their doors and shouted to each other, and the men in the King of Prussia shouted all at once, “ Well, now we shall see what these tyrants will do!”
And truly did they soon see that. It was declared that it was very grievous to Mr. IIooks, but that such proceedings could not be allowed ; the peace must be preserved, the laws and property must be respected.
The offenders were summoned before the Justices, and, spite of all their representations, were fined for their outrage, and threatened with the IIouse of Correction ; for when did a county magistrate entertain a complaint against the closing of a foot-path? It is too much to be expected from human nature. Why, this man has these same obnoxious paths on his own lands, and wants to be well rid of them.
So the crofts and cottages were gone, and the foot-paths were all gone, yet not a legal complaint could be exhibited against the virtuous and compassionate Sampson Hooks, nor even against the faithful Joe Ling. Could any man say that they were not really most innocent, falsely-accused, fair-dealing, conscientious, though clever, successful men, as men with money in their pockets usually
are, and of which the money itself is a sufficient proof; for, were they not clever, they would never have got it, or would never have kept it when got.
Years went on, and all seemed bright and prosperous at the Hall. Neither Sampson IIooks nor his great roadster, Black Jack, seemed to grow a day older. Mrs. Sampson Hooks drove out in her handsome pony-chaise, and smiled and nodded to every
And old Joe Ling occasionally was seen riding to or from the Hall on the same little yellowish horse, with the pye-bald face and whitish legs; and as to Joe Ling himself, he was just the same figure, and wore the same jingling spur as ever. The old sun-burnt hat, and the old blue coat with the metal buttons, seemed never to get worse. It was said that Sampson Hooks was making a mint of money in collieries and farming, somewhere a good way off, and that Joe Ling came loaded with
money bee. If he did, it was not the fruit of the blessings and the prayers of the poor, for never did so many curses roll out of the cottages of the poor as when he rode by. But they might curse, and they did it pretty loud too—he was deaf to all—and when some surly fellow, or a knot of them in the village street, has said fiercely out, just as he passed, The devil fly away with him and his dog-tit too!” he has made his bow. No doubt he saw the fellow's lips move, and said, “Oh, pretty well, I thank ye, and I hope that you are all yourselves comfortable."
Spite of all show of prosperity, the villagers noticed that the rooks never came back, and never could be lured to settle in the old trees again, and they nodded knowingly to one another, and said in their broad dialect, “ We'll wait a bit ; the dee wull come!”
And truly, in a while there occurred some little matters that did not bear so easily smoothing out, and that made the villagers prick up their ears, and open their mouths, more confidently than ever ; and, what was more singular, in these there was no visible hand of old Joe Ling.
Such was the reputation at a distance of the substantial wealth and integrity of Sampson IIooks, that poor people who had saved a little money, could think of no safer means of depositing it than in his hands. The villagers, who would not have trusted him a crown, called those who did all the stupid “ flats and goslings' in the language. Old Ling was at the bottom of all this, they said, for he went canting about on his “scue-bald pony,” cracking