Obrazy na stronie

alone. Vast gambling speculations, quite outside his present home, had ruined Signor Josef. His last throw has failed and now, to use his own words, "all is over" for the present with the poor, unlucky foreigner.

Mrs. Burridge was of course for a new election, but Mr. Perkyns at this crucial point of affairs had several words to say. He, among other things, delicately pointed out to the Mayor that the grocer's real strength lay in the possession of a wife like Mrs. Burridge. "This borrowed splendour would be practically unattainable on committee, mark you, sir," he concluded, "and I need not tell you what the gain of becoming a member of your local parliament, if I may so call it, would be to me."

All this, together with the certainty that Mr. Burridge, even if elected, would be useless for some time to come, and also with the fact that Mr. Dyke had taken a fancy to the chemist (who certainly appeared to be an able man), conspired to settle things in favour of Mr. Perkyns. Indeed, the little fellow awoke, to find himself famous the day after Alenti's trial, at which proceeding, the full splendour of his past achievement became known to Thornborough at large.

Mr. Dyke, indeed, was heard to say that the chemist" will make a mayor some day," and this, coming from such a source, is praise greater than which no common councilman-especially one but newly elected-need desire.



An Anecdotic Medley.




HORSE stealing is a crime of considerable antiquity in

England, where it has always been regarded as deserving very severe punishment.

Holinshed mentions in his "Chronicles" that during the reign of Queen Elizabeth a noted horse-stealer named Ditch was apprehended, charged upon nineteen indictments, eighteen of which he confessed to. It appears that between the time of his apprehension and the sessions "he appeached many of stealing horses, whereof many of them were taken up, and ten of them condemned and hung at Smithfield, on horse-market day," a day specially selected, we presume, in order that the warning and example to such like evil-doers should be the more notorious and efficacious amongst the fraternity. This man Ditch was evidently possessed of the full cunning peculiar to his tribe, as it is said he practised the dodge of acting also the part of common informer, by helping many to recover their stolen horses, charging as a fee ten shillings each, whereby, as Holinshed says, "he made fifteen pounds of current money towards his charges."

In olden times Smithfield was the principal horse mart of London, and, till the cattle market was finally removed from the city, copers of the worst kind congregated there.

"Monsieur Rosetti says the Arabians have five distinct breeds of horses, and that some of these animals are so sensible as never to suffer themselves to be delivered up to a purchaser until the ceremony has been completed by the seller, of having received a little salt, and a morsel of bread! We presume this bread must be something like that formerly sold weekly at Smithfield, where it is customary and almost imperative, to insure 'good luck,' that the seller should treat the buyer with something more potent and palatable than salt. We have heard of two of these chapmen who invoked good luck by such potent libations to the jolly god that they at length quarrelled on the subject of their several identities; the original seller fancying himself the buyer, and the real purchaser as stoutly maintaining that he was the seller. Some


humane friend to the parties (it seems Smithfield abounded with such), by walking off with both the horse and the purchase money, ended the dispute, which convinces us that their Bacchanalian patron must have been offended either by the scantiness or the ill use of their offerings."*

In the wilder parts of America Judge Lynch settles accounts with horse-thieves, who are held in detestation. In more civilized States the crime is severely punished, though by a regular tribunal. A cute Yankee once got back a large sum of money by making a charge of horse-stealing against his defrauder, as is pleasantly related by Sam Slick:

"Felix Foyle lived in the back part of the State of New York, and carried on a smart chance of business in the provision line. Beef and pork and flour was his staples, and he did a great stroke in 'em. Perhaps he did so to the tune of four hundred thousand dollars a year, more or less. Well, in course, in such a trade as that, he had to employ a good many folks as clerks and salters and agents, and what-not, and among them was his book-keeper, Sossipater Cuddy. Sossipater (or Sassy, as folks used to call him, for he was rather high in the instep, and was Sassy by name, and Sassy by natur' too,)-well, Sassy was a cute man, a good judge of cattle, a grand hand at a bargain, and a'most an excellent scholar at figures. He was ginerally allowed to be a first-rate business Only to give you an idee, now, of that man's smartness, how ready and up to the notch he was at all times, I must jist stop fust and tell you the story of the cigar.


"In some of our towns we don't allow smokin' in the streets though in most on 'em we do, and where it's agin the law it is two dollars fine in a gineral way. Well, Sassy went down to Bosten to do a little chore of business there, where this law was, only he didn't know of it. So, as soon as he gets off the coach, he outs with his case, takes a cigar, lights it, and walks on smokin' like a furnace flue. No sooner said than done. Up steps constable and sais, I trouble you for two dollars for smokin' agin law in the street.' Sassy was as quick as wink on him. 'Smokin'!' sais he, 'I warn't a smokin'.'Oh, my!' sais constable, how you talk, I won't say you lie, because it ain't polite, but its very like the way I talk when I lie. Didn't I see you with my own eyes?' 'No,' sais Sassy, you didn't. It don't do always to believe your own eyes, they can't be depended on more nor other people's. I never trust mine, I can tell you. I own I had a cigar in my mouth, but it was because I like the flavour of tobacco, but not to smoke. I take it it don't convene with the dignity of a free and enlightened citizen of our almighty nation to break the law, seein' that he makes the law himself, and is his own sovereign and his own subject too. No, I warn't smokin', and if you don't believe me try


*Blaine's "Encyclopædia of Rural Sports."

this cigar yourself and see if it ain't so. It hante got no fire in it.' Well, constable takes the cigar, puts it into his mug, and draws away, and out comes the smoke like anythin'.


"I'll trouble you for two dollars, Mr. High Sheriff devil,' sais Sassy, for smokin' in the streets; do you underconstand, my old coon?' Well, constable was all taken aback, he was finely bit. Stranger,' sais he, 'where was you raised?' 'To Canady line,' sais Sassy. "Well,' sais he, your a credit to your broughtens up. Well, let the fine drop, for we are about even, I guess. Let's liquor;' and he took him into a bar and treated him to a mint julep. It was ginerally considered a great bite that, and I must say I don't think it was bad. But to get back to where I started from. Sassy, as I was a-sayin', was the book-keeper of old Felix Foyle. The old gentleman sot great store by him, and couldn't do without him on no account, he was so ready like, and always on hand. But Sassy thought he could do without him though. So one fine day he absgotilated with four thousand dollars in his pocket, of Felix's, and cut dirt for Canady as hard as he could chip. Felix Foyle was actilly in a most beautiful frizzle of a fix. He knew who he had to deal with, and that he might as well follow a fox almost as Sassy, he was so everlastin' cunnin', and that the British wouldn't give up a debtor to us, but only felons; so he thought the fust loss was the best, and was about givin' it up as a bad job, when an idee struck him, and off he started in chase with all steam on. Felix was the clear grit when his dander was up, and he never slept, night or day, till he reached Canady, too, got on the trail of Sassy, and came up to where he was airthed at Niagara. When he arrived it was about noon, so as he enters the tavern he sees Sassy standing with his face to the fire and his back to the door, and what does he do but slip into the meal-room and hide himself till night. Just as it was dark in comes old Bambrick, the innkeeper, with a light in his hand, and Felix slips behind him, shuts too the door, and tells him the whole story from beginning to end; how Sassy had served him; and lists the old fellow in his service, and off they set to a magistrate and get out a warrant, and then they goes to the deputy-sheriff, and gets Sassy arrested. Sassy was so taken aback, he was hardly able to speak for a minute or two, for he never expected Felix would follow him into Canady at all, seein' that if he oncet reached British soil he was safe. But he soon come too again, so he ups and bullies. Pray sir,' sais he, 'what do you mean by this? Nothin' above partikelar,' sais Felix, quite cool; only I guess I want the pleasure of your company back, that's all,' and then turnin' to the onder sheriff, Squire,' sais he, will you take a turn or two in the entry, while Sassy and I settle a little matter of business together?' and out goes Nab. 'Mr. Foyle,' sais Sassy, 'I have no business to settle with youarrest me, sir, at your peril, and I'll action you in law for false

[ocr errors]





[ocr errors]

imprisonment. Where's my money,' sais Felix, 'where's my four thousand dollars?' 'What do I know about your money? ' sais Sassy. Well,' sais Felix, it is your business to know, and I paid you as my book-keeper to know, and if you don't know you must jest return with me and find out, that's all-so come, let us be movin'. Well, Sassy larfed right out in his face. Why you cussed fool,' sais he, don't you know I can't be taken out o' this colony state but only for crime; what a rael soft-horn you must be to have done so much business and not know that!' 'I guess I got a warrant that'll take you out, tho',' sais Felix; read that,' a handin' the paper to him. Now I shall swear to that agin, and send it to governor, and down will come the marchin' order in quick stick. I'm soft, I know, but I ain't sticky for all that; I generally come off clear, without leavin' no part behind.' The moment Sassy saw the warrant his face fell, and the cold perspiration rose out like rain-drops, and his colour went and came, and his knees shook like anythin'. Hoss-stealin'!' sais he aloud to himselfhoss-stealin'!-heavens and airth, what perjury! Why, Felix,' sais he, 'you know devilish well I never stole your hoss, man; how could you go and swear to such an infarnal lie as that?' 'Well, I'm nothin' but a "cussed fool" and a rael "soft-horn "you know," sais Felix,' as you said just now, and if I had gone and sworn to the debt, why you'd a kept the money, gone to jail, and swore out, and I'd a-had my trouble for my pains. So you see I swore you stole my hoss, for that's a crime though absquotolatin' ain't, and that will force the British governor to deliver you up, and when I get you into New York State why you settle with me for for my four thousand dollars, and I will settle with you for stealin' my hoss,' and he put his finger to the tip end of his nose, and winked and said, 'young folks think old folks is fools, but old folks know young folks is fools. I warn't born yesterday and I had my eye-teeth sharpened before your'n were through the gums, I guess. You hante got the Bosten constable to deal with now, I can tell you, but old Felix Foyle himself, and he ain't so blind but what he can feel his way along, I guess--do you take my meanin' my young coon?' 'I'm sold,' sais Sassy, and he sot down, put both elbows on the table, and covered his face with his hands and fairly cried like a child. 'I'm sold,' sais he. "Buy your pardon then,' sais Felix. Pay down the four thousand dollars and you are a free and enlightened citizen once more.' Sassy got up and unlocked his portmanteau, and counted it all out in paper rolls just as he received it. Thar it is,' sais he, and I must say you deserve it. That was a great stroke o' your'n.' 'Stop a bit,' sais Felix, seein' more money there, all his savin's for years, we ain't done yet. I must have 500 dollars for expenses." There, d-n you,' sais Sassy, throwin' another roll at him; 'there it is, are you done yet?' 'No,' sais Felix, not yet; now you have done me justice, I must do you the same, and clear your

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »