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He never drew bit, nor stopp'd to bait,
Nor walk'd up hill or down,
Which is the Assizes town.
He made his black mare fly,
To swear to an Alibi.
And so did Sheriff Foster,
By nine o'clock at Gloucester.
Neither by hook nor crook ;
Most certainly mistook. Here it was, that on a dark and tempestuous night of November, when the wind, struggling amid the thick-clustered chimneys of St. Giles's, responded to the signal whistle of the thieves below, and the rain dashed with fitful violence against the windows of the private room in which they were stationed, that our hero and his companions arranged the plan of their attack
upon Farmer Bruin's house, of Finchley Com
“I tell you,” cried Harry, anxious to silence the objections of his comrades, “it's as lone and snug a dwelling as a man need wish to break into, I vas all over it vonce, and knows the rigs on't. No alarms ----no vatch-and as for the dog in the yard, we must physick him, that's all."
“And are you sure he keeps five hundred guineas ļu the bed-room ?” inquired Noose.
Psha, man! d'ye think I doesn't know vot 's vot?
Didn't he brag on it to his club at Barnet? Vill, the vaiter, told me so himself. Besides, there's a silver tankard vorth twenty, and a gold sneezer."
“ Vot men sleeps in the house ?” said old Charley, with a thoughtful look.
“Only one spooney chap of a rustic,--and old Bruin.”
Who isn't no flincher,” resumed Charley. “But we've our bull-dogs and barkers, and arn't we three to two ?-you’re ’nation squeamish, Charley."
“ I fears no man but the hangman,” said Noose, scratching his neck; “but there's no call for us to be nabb’d and pull'd up."
“ Never fear,” exclaimed Harry, slapping him on the back, “you shall have many a bout yet at stand and deliver."
“But,” said Charley inquiringly, “ if we has to stand at the Old Bailey, I should like to know who's to deliver us.”
“ Betty Martin ! never fear, man-you may live these three months yet--so cheer up, cheer up, my hearty.”
“ You're like a sparrow," mutter'd Crape; “ you would cry chirrup if a chap was going up the gallows' ladder-Hush ! hark! I heard some one snoring.” “ Stuff !” cried Harry ;
you're always thinking of the watchman: we ’re all snug.”—“ Zounds !" added Noose, making towards the door, “ vot noise is that there ?"-Here there was an audible snorting and rustling, as of some one awaking, and Harry, suddenly drawing a pistol from his pocket, and seizing the soli
tary candle by which they had been sitting, rushed to the corner of the dim chamber, where, behind a low screen, he discovered a female figure, stretching and yawning in apparent emergence from a sound sleep. “ Ranting Moll, by Jingo !” he exclaimed, the old drunken fortune-teller of Dog and Bear-yard. “What are you after here, you infernal — ? are you lurking for blood-money-do you mean to peach—have you heard our palaver ?-speak, you crazy old cat, or I'l] pop my barker down your muzzle."
The figure whom he thus addressed, while he held his pistol hardly an inch from her mouth, was not calculated to awaken suspicions of any very treacherous intentions, for she bore an expression of mental fatuity, which it would have been difficult to divide between the triple claims of nature, sleep, and intoxication. Her cap was off, her dress disordered, her hair wildly spread over her haggard features, and her eyes, one of which was black from some recent contusion, were fixed upon Harry in a stolid, unmeaning stare. But suddenly her recollection and intellects seemed to flash upon her, her countenance lighted up with a sort of prophetic orgasm; her eyes, particularly the black one, glared with a preternatural lustre ; and, without offering to move the pistol, she cried out in a harsh voice" Away, away! I have heard nothing of your plots and plans; but he that fears leaves, let him not go into the wood-good swimmers at length are drowned. Thou art young, Harry; but green wood makes a hot fire--thy doom is fixed, spite of these knaves, thy companions. He that lies with
dogs riseth with fleas--not a day passes but thou takest a step up Jack Ketch's ladder: punishment is lame, but it comes.
Mark me, boy ; I have read what the stars have written in the palm of thy hand-under the sign of the Bear wert thou born, and under that sign shalt thou perish. Stand aside--he who spitteth against heaven, it falls in his face.”. So saying, she put on her cap, gathered up her garments, and with a wild look of inspiration, as of an ancient Pythoness, stalked out of the room.
“ Bravo !" cried Harry ; “ bravo, ranting Moll!-Egad ! it is as good as a tragedy.”-“ Better," said Charley, “ for there's nothing to pay—but what did the old witch mean by your perishing at the sign of the Bear ? There's the Black Bear in Piccadilly, as well as the White ; but you never goes to neither.” "Mean?" replied Harry; "there's seldom much meaning comes out of the mouth, after fourteen or fifteen tosses of blue ruin have gone into it; and I warrant she hasn't had a drop less.” So saying, they resumed their conversation, and finally arranged the time and method of their attack upon the farmer's house at Finchley Common,
The unconscious object of their deliberation was one of those stout, surly, stubborn yeomen of the old school, who are about as amiable as one of their own bulls in a pound. He quarrelled with his wife if she let him have his own way, stormed outright if she thwarted him, and, though he was notoriously miserable before his marriage, did nothing but extol the happiness of his bachelor days. He would not let his
daughter Dolly marry young Fairlop, a neighbouring farmer to whom she was attached, simply because he had not first proposed the connexion himself; and insisted upon her having Mr. Gudgeon, a smart London fishmonger, who drove down to his cottage upon the Common in his own gig, not out of regard to the man, but out of opposition to his daughter. On the very evening of the meeting at the Wig and Water-Spaniel, he came growling home to his house, when the following colloquy ensued between him and his wife.
“ Thought you were all dead-couldn't you hear me at the garden-gate ? Where's Clod ?"
“ Gone out, my dear, but he 'll be back directly."
“ Always sending him out of the way on some fool's errand or other.”—“ He is gone to the village, to get your favourite dish for supper to-night.”
“Get the devil for supper to-night !-Shan't eat any: you never get one any thing to drink.” my dear, I tapp'd the ale on purpose."
“ Shan't drink any.-What are you staring at ?why don't you help me off with my coat And then, having eaten and drunk most copiously of the food which he had just said he would not touch, he drew his easy chair to the fire, stretched his legs, and, to the old tune of the Hunting of the Hare, roared out his favourite song of
Funny and free are a Bachelor's reveries,
Cheerily, merrily, passes his life;
Troublesome children and clamorous wife.