Imatges de pàgina

shapes, and postures, which it was never intended by its Maker to assume--is this, I say, right? Is this the way in wbich we ought to spend our time? Ought we not, rather, to employ ourselves in peaceable, profitable conversation, which might be a benefit to us here and hereafter? Yes, we ought to do so! but, alas! alas ! nothing will serve but impious merry-making. To-day-yes, this very day! I attempted to set the good example, and would have given the young people good advice, but—".

Here the orator was rather rudely interrupted by the cheesemonger, who told him gruffly to leave off his “ bawling, and let one hear the song which the gemmans was playin and singin."

The fact was, that while Mr. Plum was thus giving vent to bis violent indignation against such “impious merry-making,” Messrs. Tomkins and Willis were employed in choosing, out of a large bundle of music, an appropriate song.

As for the company, they paid as little attention to the worthy grocer as before : indeed, he was considered by the inhabitants of H--- as a complete nuisance; and, though none thought it would be to their interest (he being of good substance, and having an unmarried daughter, to whom all his riches would descend) to interrupt him, very few paid any heed to his speeches.

Finding that his remonstrances were totally without effect, Mr. Plum sat down, and, taking out of his pocket a “ Whole Duty of Man," began to read therein very devoutly, as if to secure him. self against the danger of contamination from the wickedness about to be enacted.

In the meantime, Mr. Willis, after expressing his sorrow that there was not a single wedding song in his whole bundle, began to sing the following rhymes, Mr. Tomkins accompanying him upon the fiddle :

“The roses denote the return of young spring—" “ You don't keep time," exclaimed he of the fiddle. “ We'll try again,” responded he of the song.

“ The roses denote the return of young spring;

The birds gaily twitter, the goldfinches sing;
And all looks so merry, so blithe, and so gay,

Yet-yet must I leave them, and go far away!
“ The violet sheds its loved perfume around-

The daisies spring forth on the lawn and the mound:
Though all are so dear, I must bid 'em farewell-
The hills and the streams, and the tree-shaded dell.
“Yet ere I leave them, to see them no more--"

Here were the musicians interrupted by a boisterous chorus out side, as unwelcome as unexpected : in short, the village clock had struck six, and Bob Mischief and his allies having provided themselves with old saucepans, tin kettles, and whatever else was capable of emitting a loud discordant sound, were putting into execution their threat of giving Mr. and Mrs. Bender the rough music in right

good earnest, making such a din, that nought could be heard above it.

“() my ears! my ears !” exclaimed Mr. Tomkins, throwing down his fiddle, and clapping his hands to his organs of hearing.

“ D-mn the rascals,” ejaculated Mr. Bender, forgetting, for the moment, to speak with the propriety befitting him who bore the office of parisb-clerk; “it's that black Bob Mischief, and his set, giving us the rough music, in revenge, I suppose, for the cuts I gave him this morning. We shan't be able to get rid of him without giving something. Ring the bell, my dear."

The bell was accordingly rung, and the servant appeared. “Here, Sal," continued Mr. Bender; “ here, take this half-crown, and give it to the ragamuffins outside, and tell them that I should be very much obliged if they would make their tune as short as possible."

Sal quickly departed upon her errand to the “ragamuffins,” who, upon her appearance, unanimously deputed the redoubtable Bob Mischief to treat with her upon their behalf.

"Well, Missis !” began Bob,“ ve 'ave jist comed, you see, to give yer master a little tid bit of music at his wedding-day. Come, Missis, yer must'nt look so plaguy black and blue —none of yer d-mn'd cook's airs now, 'cause i'd jist tell ye that ve gemmans won't stand yer throwing saucepans, and such like gear at ve, as yer did at poor Bet —

“ You impudent scoundrel-"

“ Call me a scoundrel, you old baggage! Now if I arn't got a great mind to trundle you into this ere ditch for that there speech. But go, make haste, and tell yer master, as how ve vants summut to drink his health.”

“Here he has sent you this half-crown, and tells you to get about your business.”

“ Vhat, is this all ? Stuff! Ve shan't be put off vith this ere, as ye may jist tell him. Here, I gie him it back again,” cried he, throwing the half-crown through the front parlour window, to the destruction of a rather expensive pane of glass, “ for a nasty stingy old dog as he is.”

This exploit of Bob's was hailed, as might be expected, with a boisterous shout of applause from his comrades, who immediately followed up the assault, by sending a shower of stones, mud and dirt, right through the unfortunate window, not only breaking every pane of glass in it, but doing, as Mrs. Bender stated, "the warld o' damage within sides, smashing the 'ansome peer glass to mammocks, 'sides ruining the carpet, and breaking the chairs."

“Now, then, Ma’m Cook,” said Bob, “jist show a clean pair o' heels, and march yourself in, else yer knows as how that I shall jist pay off some old scores wi' yer, that's all. I don't forget, ye knows, as how ye got me three months at the

Here, however, the hero's auditor had disappeared, her place being supplied by Mr. Bender. Bob doffed his hat to him with an air of mock respect, and thus addressed him :-“Sorry for the broken windar, werry sorry, yer honour (that's yer new title, arn't it?); but that hussey the cook provoked us. If ye'll jist now give us one or two golders to drink yer healths wi', ve'll go peaceable away, 'cause you see as how yer be rich, and can afford it.”

“Why, my good fellows,” answered Mr. Bender in his smoothest tone, as from their desperate characters he well knew it was dangerous to provoke the rabble who had now surrounded his dwelling; “ you ought to consider that you have broken an expensive window

“Amen! That's it, arn't it, clerk ?” bawled out one of the rabble, interrupting Mr. Bender's harangue, while a tremendous peal of laughter testified how well the joke was relished among the crowd.

You maru't speechify, yer knows, Cocky Bender," continued the same voice, “'cause as how that's the parson's place, not the clerk's. Vill ye gi' us the golders ?"

“Why, I can't afford it," answered Mr. Bender.

“ Can't afford it!” _“ Pelt him”_" the stingy dog" — " duck him”-" pelt him,"—now became the universal cries of the crowd; and accordingly a volley of mud (procured from the opposite ditch) was hurled as quick as thought at the unfortunate parish-clerk, who was therefore soon obliged to take refuge within doors.

The rabble now set up a scornful shout, and while some once more began to beat their old saucepans, &c. &c. with all their might, others employed themselves in scooping mud ont of the ditch, and plastering the windows therewith.

This plastering the windows provoked Mrs. Bender more than all the rest, and she angrily resolved “ to put the blackards out of tune.” She accordingly filled her largest pail full of water, and opening the street-door, suddenly threw it among the thickest of the mob. This wetting was at once indignantly resented, for before she could even turn herself round, a saucepan full of mud was thrown right into her face, whereupon she screamed so loud and lustily, as to bring down all the male part of the company to her relief.

The rabble had no more respect for these gentry, than for Mrs. Bender, and accordingly saluted them in the same way by a volley of mud,

" That's right, my fine’uns,” cried Bob; “ gi' it'em well-throw, pelt away as hard as ye can. Gi’ that flash ’un there vith the gold chain an' flare-up vaistcoat a tid bit of a taste.”

In obedience to these commands of their leader, the rabble pelted with threefold energy; more especially aiming to annoy Mr. Bender and Mr. Tomkin. Now Mr. Bender was a very cholerie man when provoked, and by no means a coward; he, therefore, upon this ran into the house, and snatching up pokers, tongs, shovels, and whatever other offensive weapons came into his way, quickly armed the most athletic of the males, and then himself set the example of assault, by plunging into the midst of the crowd, and dealing around him dreadful blows with a ponderous kitchenpoker. The company emulating the martial conduct of the parishclerk, also plunged into the melee after him, while Mrs. Bender, shouting out “ Murder! murder! murder!" ran into the house, almost tumbled down the kitchen-stairs, and hid herself from danger, with her maids, in the coal-hole.

Meantime the combat outside raged with unequal success. Mr. Bender had at length been disarmed, and rolled into the muddy ditch before mentioned; and Bob Mischief, on the other hand, had received a broken head from Sermonising Plum. Will Hardened had also very quickly levelled Mr. Tomkins to the earth, and to keep up his character, had deprived the unfortunate musician of his gold chain. This circumstance, however, was the means of depriving Bob of Bill's valuable assistance, for finding the chain to be of great value, he prudently made off to secure his booty before the constables came up, which his experience told him would now be in about a quarter of an hour.*

This defection was a great misfortune to Bob, Will being a large strong built ruffian, able to send fifty Mr. Tomkins with their "heads afore their heels ;" more particularly as Bob himself, the next to him in point of strength, was now disabled from loss of blood, to take any active part in the fray. Still, however, like a good general, he remained on the field of action, encouraging his followers by his voice and gestures.

By this time, however, the street-keeper (a tailor by profession) finding that he had put the last stitch to the parson's smalls, began to think it high time that measures should be taken to put down the disturbance at Mr. Bender's, and accordingly went in search of his colleague, the beadle. After the tailor had searched almost every nook and corner in the village, this functionary was found snugly ensconced in the taproom of a certain alebouse, distinguished by a daub dangling over the door, intended to represent one man pouring down the throat of another, who appeared horribly pale and faint, something out of a great tumbler; bearing underneath the inscription, “ A Friende at nede.”

Here, as I said before, was Mr. Beadle comfortably employed in pledging four great plongh-men in huge jugs of ale, when the streetkeeper entered; and explained to him how matters stood at Mr. Bender's. Whereupon, after swearing a few oaths at being disturbed so unseasonably, he accompanied the tailor to the spot, attended by the four ploughmen aforesaid.

Their arrival on the scene of action soon turned the scale of fortune: deserted by Will Hardened, with their leader, Bob Mischief, disabled, and tired by their previous exertions, the rabble were not able to offer any protracted resistance to these fresh recruits. They all quickly took to their heels, and the two officers allowed them to escape, in order to save the trouble, which their being locked up in the cage, would necessarily give to Mr. Beadle, and Mr. Street-keeper.

* Very likely the reader will be rather curious to know why the constables had not come up before the riot had gone thus far. The parish of H--, although ful of rookeries, which afford an harbourage for the worst of characters, has no effective police; and so fearful are the inhabitants of expense, that they never would allow one to be established, although many gentlemen have endeavoured to overcome their aversion. They trust the protection of their property to a beadle, who is hardly ever to be found when he is wanted, and a street-keeper, who pursues the peaceable occupation of a tailor !!!-A NOD OR A WINK TO A BLIND HORSE.

Chapter V.

Many Castles in the Air dispersed. Mr. Bender did not get up until half-past twelve o'clock, on the morning succeeding his wedding day. What must then have been his surprise upon rising, to find a great part of the furniture, down stairs, already removed, while two large waggons were being loaded with what remained ! He could hardly believe his eyes—whatever could be the meaning of it? He determined to seek an explanation from his wife at once.

“My dear," said he to her, directly he found an opportunity of addressing her, which was no easy matter, for she was bustling about, now ordering this one, now directing another; and all husbands must know how un-come-at-able wives are on such occasions, “ why are you having all these things removed ?"

66 Why Lud! Mister Bender, however can you ax that there question,” answered bis wife, “ why o'course you means to take me home to your house to day, don't you ?”

Why, my dear," replied Mr. Bender, rather uneasily, “I did think of staying in this house to live."

“ To be sure I can ha' no manner of objection to that,” observed Mrs. Bender, “ if so be that you can afford to gi’ up your shop, and live on your ends like a gemman."

“ Why, my dear, having married you,” continued Mr. Bender, striving in vain to conceal his increasing uneasiness, “and with the assistance of your fortune I think

“ Oh!” answered the lady, “if my fortune be all you ha' to depend on, I'd jist advise you to keep in business, that's all.”

76 Why surely,” exclaimed the parish-clerk, “it is sufficient to keep us comfortably all the rest of our lives, for you know it is "

"My own self, and not a stiver more,” interrupted the wife, “I have no fortune; why bless the man, what made you think I had ?"

" Whose then," asked Mr. Bender, “is this great house- "

• The house and furniture is my own dear brother's, I tell you," replied his wife, “and he's a lodging-house keeper, and he took this ere house a little while ago, and put chairs and tables in it, to let it out in lodgings, 'cause he thought he could let it to a family who wanted to come down into the country, a wee bit distance from Lunnun, but the doctor said that this ere place was too damp. So then you know my dear brother was goin' to take the furniture out o'it, and let it on lease, but I (who he had put in jist to look arter it) finding, as how you, a respectable tradesman, in a werry good business, and who'd be able to keep me for the rest of my life, wanted to marry me, persuaded him to let the things be in it till we were married, as we were yesterday."

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