« AnteriorContinuar »
'these things: I could have repeated Homer by heart
'once.' 'Ifags! the gentleman has caught a traitor,'
says Mrs. Tow-wouse; at which they all fell a laughing.
The gentleman, who had not the least affection for joking, very contentedly suffered the doctor to enjoy his victory; which he did with no small satisfaction: and having sufficiently sounded his depth, told him, 'He 'was thoroughly convinced of his great learning and 'abilities; and that he would be obliged to him, if he 'would let him know his opinion of his patient's case 'above stairs.'—' Sir,' says the doctor, 'his case is that 'of a dead man—The contusion on his head has per'forated the internal membrane of the occiput, and divel'heated that radical small minute invisible nerve, which 'coheres to the pericranium; and this was attended 'with a fever at first symptomatic, then pneumatic; and 'he is at length grown deliriuus, or delirious, as the 'vulgar express it.'
He was proceeding in this learned manner, when a mighty noise interrupted him. Some young fellows in the neighbourhood had taken one of the thieves, and were bringing him into the inn. Betty ran up stairs with this news to Joseph; who begged they might search for a little piece of broken gold, which had a riband tied to it, and which he could swear to amongst all the hoards of the richest men in the universe.
Notwithstanding the fellow's persisting in his innocence, the mob were very busy in searching him, and presently, among other things, pulled out the piece of gold just mentioned; which Betty no sooner saw, than she laid violent hands on it, and conveyed it up to Joseph, who received it with raptures of joy, and, hugging it in his bosom, declared, he could now die contented. Within a few minutes afterwards, came in some other fellows, with a bundle which they had found in a ditch, and which was indeed the clothes which had been stripped off from Joseph, and the other things they had taken from him.
The gentleman no sooner saw the coat, than he declared he knew the livery; and, if it had been taken from the poor creature above stairs, desired he might see him; for that he was very well acquainted with the family to whom that livery belonged.
He was accordingly conducted up by Betty: but what, reader, was the surprise on both sides, when he saw Joseph was the person in bed; and when Joseph discovered the face of his good friend Mr. Abraham Adams!
It would be impertinent to insert a discourse which chiefly turned on the relation of matters already well known to the reader; for as soon as the curate had satisfied Joseph concerning the perfect health of his Fanny, he was on his side very inquisitive into all the particulars which had produced this unfortunate accident.
To return therefore to the kitchen, where a great variety of company were now assembled from all the rooms of the house, as well as the neighbourhood: so much delight do men take in contemplating the countenance of a thief.
Mr. Tow-wouse began to rub his hands with pleasure at seeing so large an assembly; who would, he hoped, shortly adjourn into several apartments, in order to discourse over the robbery, and drink a health to all honest men. But Mrs. Tow-wouse, whose misfortune it was commonly to see things a little perversely, began to rail at those who brought the fellow into her house; telling her husband; 'They were very likely to thrive, 'who kept a house of entertainment for beggars and 'thieves.'
The mob had now finished their search; and could
find nothing about the captive likely to prove any evidence; for as to the clothes, though the mob were very well satisfied with that proof, yet, as the surgeon observed, they could not convict him, because they were not found in his custody; to which Barnabas agreed, and added, that these were bona waviata, and belonged to the lord of the manor.
'How,' says the surgeon, 'do you say these goods be
'long to the lord of the manor V—' I do,' cried Barnabas.
'Then I deny it,' says the surgeon: 'what can the lord of
'the manor have to do in the case? Will any one at
'tempt to persuade me that what a man finds is not his
'own ?'—' I have heard,' (says an old fellow in the
corner) 'Justice Wiseone say, that if every man had his
'right, whatever is found belongs to the King of London.'
—' That may be true,' says Barnabas, 'in some sense,
'for the law makes a difference between things stolen
'and things found; for a thing may be stolen that is
'never found; and a thing may be found that was never
'stolen: Now goods that are both stolen and found are
'waviata; and they belong to the lord of the manor.'—
'So the lord of the manor is the receiver of stolen goods?'
(says the doctor); at which there was an universal laugh,
being first begun by himself.
While the prisoner, by persisting in his innocence, had almost (as there was no evidence against him) brought over Barnabas, the surgeon, Tow-wouse, and several others to his side; Betty informed them, that they had overlooked a little piece of gold, which she had carried up to the man in bed; and which he offered to swear to amongst a million, aye, amongst ten thoUsand. This immediately turned the scale against the prisoner; and every one now concluded him guilty. It was resolved, therefore, to keep him secured that night, and early in the morning to carry him before a justice.
Showing how Mrs. Tow-wouse was a little mollified; and how officious Mr. Barnabas and the surgeon were to prosecute the thief: with- a dissertation accounting for their zeal, and that of many other persons not mentioned in this history.
Betty told her mistress she believed the man in bed was a greater man than they took him for; for, besides the extreme whiteness of his skin, and the softness of his hands, she observed a very great familiarity between the gentleman and him; and added, she was certain they were intimate acquaintance, if not relations.
This somewhat abated the severity of Mrs. Tow-wouse's countenance. She said, 'God forbid she should not dis'charge the duty of a Christian, since the poor gentleman 'was brought to her house. She had a natural antipathy 'to vagabonds; but could pity the misfortunes of a 'Christian as soon as another.' Tow-wouse said, 'If the 'traveller be a gentleman, though he hath no money 'about him now, we shall most likely be paid hereafter; 'so you may begin to score whenever you will.' Mrs. Tow-wouse answered, 'Hold your simple tongue, and 'don't instruct me in my business. I am sure I am sorry 'for the gentleman's misfortune with all my heart; and I 'hope the villain who hath used him so barbarously will 'be hanged. Betty, go see what he wants. God forbid 'he should want any tiling in my house.'
Barnabas and the surgeon went up to Joseph, to satisfy themselves concerning the piece of gold. Joseph was with difficulty prevailed upon to show it them; but would by no entreaties be brought to deliver it out of his own possession. He however attested this to be the same which had been taken from him; and Betty was ready to swear to the finding it on the thief.
The only difficulty that remained was, how to produce this gold before the justice; for as to carrying Joseph himself, it seemed impossible; nor was there any great likelihood of obtaining it from him; for he had fastened it with a ribbon to his arm, and solemnly vowed, that nothing but irresistible force should ever separate them; in which resolution, Mr. Adams, clenching a fist rather less than the knuckle of an ox, declared he would support him.
A dispute arose on this occasion concerning evidence not very necessary to relate here; after which the surgeon dressed Mr. Joseph's head; still persisting in the imminent danger in which his patient lay; but concluding, with a very important look, that he began to have some hopes: that he should send him a sanative soporiferous draught, and would see him in the morning. After which Barnabas and he departed, and left Mr. Joseph and Mr. Adams together.
Adams informed Joseph of the occasion of this journey which he was making to London, namely, to publish three volumes of sermons; being encouraged, as he said, by an advertisement lately set forth by the society of booksellers, who proposed to purchase any copies offered to them, at a price to be settled by two persons; but though he imagined he should get a considerable sum of money on this occasion, which his family were in urgent need of, he protested he would not leave Joseph in his present condition: finally, he told him, he had nine shillings and threepence halfpenny in his pocket, which he was welcome to use as he pleased.
This goodness of parson Adams brought tears into Joseph's eyes: be declared, he had now a second reason to desire life, that he might show his gratitude to such a