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fear. What could be more natural than that a criminal whom he himself had been instrumental in sending to gaol should make early use of his liberty by taking the then most fashionable method of revenge? “I know'd 'twere Swing by the looks of ’n,'

," he said to Miss Holmes over his bread and cheese. “ I'll be about the place wi' my gun to-night, and if there's a blaze by Gressford it shan't be in yard of mine."

Meanwhile, a man who is used to the regularity of prison diet is apt to feel the pangs of hunger both soon and sorely. The hour of the mid-day meal was now long past, and his fasting march in the seabreeze and hill-wind had proved exhausting to this gaol-bird who had been suddenly turned out of a cage where seed and water, if bitter, were at least plentiful. But, though rapidly growing faint with the craving pains of excessive emptiness and fatigue, there was nothing to be done but plod on out of the reach of Jowler and the flail. He had not even the sustenance of a light heart : and even if he had, that is not for long consistent with heavy limbs.

Noon was well over, and the surrounding world of labourers, paupers, and prisoners had for an hour or two completed their digestion, when the double conviction forced itself upon this exprisoner, would-be labourer, and very possible pauper, that food was absolutely necessary to enable him to reach some region where he might find work, and that to find work within a very considerable radius of Farmer Holmes was out of the question. He must go farther, not to fare worse, but to fare at all : and he must fare first before he could go farther. It was a true dilemma, for the two necessities seemed inconsistent things, while it was impossible to think to good purpose while hunger gnawed. Many a strong man has gone serenely without meat and drink, even for sport's or pleasure's sake, for a longer time than he: but it has been with that certainty of finding food at the end of his march which makes appetite a spur and an excitement; and then he was not a strong man, and could see no prospect of finding a crust within eight-and-forty or twoand-seventy hours; and not even theniunless he could find at least half a crust to carry him on. The clock of his body, set to regular prison time, was pointing to the hour at which the waking wolf that lurks in every man must either beg or steal, if it cannot earn.

The first collection of cottages through which the high road passes is a small hamlet called Stackworth—a sort of parochial suburb to the large and rambling village of Gressford St. Mary. The wolf naturally grew more ravenous as it approached the habitations of men.

At the edge of Stackworth, hard by the chapel of ease, he came upon a savour of new bread, a divine perfume that proceeded from a small baker's and chandler's shop. The door stood wide open, like welcome, and the entrance was protected by a hatch, knee-high, and a bell. The smell and the sight were as lamb to the wolf, and, though he passed on for a few yards, he soon turned back again, lingeringly, and with his nose in the air.

“A man who can dig ought not to be ashamed to beg when the country-side has no digging for him to do," he said to himself, as he opened the hatch and made the bell tinkle. “I can't get on till tomorrow without bread—and this is the only way, it seems, in Farmer Holmes's country.”

This was unjust to Farmer Holmes, who, if his visitor had acted under the one instinct of hunger, had but acted under the other instinct of self-preservation. But, then, on the other hand, justice is no instinct, especially in a felon.

The dusty, white-faced baker, whose name, according to the legend over his door, was Morse, stood behind the counter tying up tallow candles. The felon made his habitual bow, but this time did not remove his cap. His cropped scalp, he was beginning to find, could not afford courtesy.

“I want to ask you, sir,” he said, “to grant me, as the greatest favour, what every man—so they say—has a right to claim. You are a merchant, and have goods: I am a consumer, and have hunger. In a word, I am very hungry indeed.” “Well, Mister-here's plenty, for them as can pay."

But the transaction, in this case, is unfortunately complicated. I am not only very, very hungry, but am without either cash or credit. I cannot even offer you a bill. Nevertheless, one must live—within the last few hours I have found out that the philosopher who could not see the necessity was exceedingly near-sighted. One of those rolls will be nothing to you : it will be everything to me.”

The baker was not a bright-looking man, and stared at him with a more puzzled air than that of Farmer Holmes before the latter had discovered his visitor's quality. He could only say,

“You be a beggar, Mister?"

“Pray understand me, Mr. Morse. I am a beggar. I own it. I cannot even deposit security for the pennyworth I shall owe you, it may be, for years. I tremble to think of the amount of compound interest that will be due by me to you one of these days. But you doubtless know—seeing how near you are to the church-Who repays those who give to the poor. I am only a hungry fellow creature, out

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of work, nay, I am one who may become a burden to your parish, and therefore to yourself, unless he can get out of it: who may even become a burden to the nation by being driven to crime. Burglars, Mr. Morse, have been made by the chance refusal of a penny roll. You see that I am old, weak, and in all respects an object for a penn'orth of charity. I see that you are a charitable as well as a reasonable man. I have appealed to your intellect and to your heart.—I may take the roll?"

So bewildered was the baker by such a new and unheard-of kind of customer that he would probably have let the roll go without a word of protest, and have stood staring till it was too late to rebel against the transaction, had he not happily been blessed with a wife, and had not she been blessed with ready presence of mind.

“Here, you there!" she cried out, bringing down her fist hard on the counter to startle the beggar out of his impudence and her husband out of his gaping stare. “We don't give naught for naught herethey does that at Beckfield Workus, and that's the place for them as is hungry and can't pay. We don't keep no sturdy beggars, and don't want no thieves. So just you leave my loaves alone—my man don't bake to give away."

“Ma'am,” said the beggar, “Mungo Park once wrote some touching lines on the kindness and charity of your charming sex as compared with that to which Mr. Morse and myself have the misfortune to belong. It is true he drew his experiences from Central Africa, and not from the parish of Gressford St. Mary, in which corner of civilisation I believe I have the privilege of standing. But the principle is the same :

From sultry India to the Pole,


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I think it ends.”

“Mungo me no Mungos : and for the Park, 'tis at Beckfield, and the workus too. Thou gaping dunderhead this to Mr. Morse—“Do thee call thyself a man ?”

“Pray don't scold Mr. Morse, ma'am," he said, with a hungry sigh and a farewell look at the roll. “I am gone; but, may I ask who is your landlord ? "

“What's that to thee, or to anybody, so long as the rent's paid ? 'Tis the Earl of Wendale--and if you get to Beckfield, you'll know who he be.-Hulloa, what's that? 'Tis all the hounds, as sure as

? ' I'm a living woman—and in full

too." And sure enough, right through the hamlet and past the baker's door dashed dogs, horses, and scarlet coats. The baker threw


himself over his counter; the baker's wife, forgetful of her stock, ran into the road.

The sudden temptation of fate was surely irresistible to a beggar who had but just been let out of gaol. Before the hunt was past, he had pocketed the roll : before the baker and his better-half came back to the counter, he was gone. Nor was the bread missed: it was the wont of the Wendale hunt, in that country, to scatter to the wind all meaner things.

“Which is the better off — Reynard or I?” thought the thief, just as he had thought, “Which looks the blacker-gaol or liberty?”

By Beckfield, Gressford St. Mary, and Stackworth runs the Beck—a tiny trout-stream, that somehow or other manages to creep straight into the sea, as confidently and boldly as if it were the Severn or the Thames. By this weedy brooklet the convict sat down, in solitude and secrecy, to devour his crumb from the lap of plenty. The bread of theft may be as sweet as stolen waters to a hungry man—at least until it has been gulped down. He broke the crust —surely the best that was ever baked, in or out of Stackworth : he raised a mouthful to his lips-his teeth touched it—when, as if stung by an electric shock, he rose to his feet, shut his eyes, pressed his lips together, and threw the mouthful, and every possibility of mouthfuls, into the Beck, to feed the trout there. Then he turned away, and came back into the weary, hungry, miserable high road.

By-and-by he came to another white five-barred gate that opened into a path of turf and moss which led to a brown-leaved copse. On the other side of this gate, however, was a touch of life and coloura scarlet coat on a grey horse ; and within the scarlet coat rode a man between whom and the tramp lay a contrast of contrasts.

The rider was nothing less than a mounted Apollo, in respect both of youth and form. The regular features, refined and thrice refined in their perfect symmetry, were those of a tall and athletic young man of not more than three-and-twenty, who sat his splendid animal with the ease, if not in the attitude, of a Centaur. His eyes were bright blue-grey, and his hair, that waved down from under his huntsman's cap, in the unmilitary fashion of that peaceful time, was of bright brown. His cheeks, just touched with healthy bronze, were slightly shaded with as yet unshaven down. As the tramp came up, this equestrian Adonis was trying to unhasp the gate with the handle of his hunting crop.

“Here, my good man!” he called out, in a voice which was at the same time clear and soft-almost too soft to agree with his broad


chest and shoulders, though in full accord with his features. "Here Just undo this confounded gate for me. —Thank you ; that'll do.— Hang it, I've got no change. Never mind-here's enough for a glass of beer,” and he threw a penny into the dust, and cantered off towards Gressford.

The tramp picked up the penny, looked after the young man, and walked back, as well as his weary, hungry limbs would carry him, to Stackworth. He peeped into the baker's shop and found it empty.

When Mrs. Morse came in five minutes later, she found a penny, not to be accounted for in any way, lying on the counter.

“Is this the way to leave the change about, thee great hulking oaf?" she said to the baker.

As for the tramp, he ended his first day's march by creeping back to the white gate and into the wood, where he found a corner in which to lie down. Happily there is no rent to pay for a lodging in the Hôtel à la belle Etoile - and, if there is no supper, there is no bill.


The next morning rose as brightly as that of yesterday had risen gloomily. The guest of old mother Earth breakfasted, at last, upon the sumptuous fare of blackberries, served in a sauce of dew, and washed down with cold brook-water from the Beck. But he was stiff and cramped, and his bones ached with lying out of doors through a long cold October night, and he was chilled and hungry to the very marrow of his bones. Nevertheless, there was nothing to do but to tramp on. His next stage on the road to possible work and probable starvation was the village of Gressford St. Mary.

The village—some called it town-of Gressford St. Mary is entered from the south, or Melmouth ide, by Gressford Green—a broad open space of turf, with a smithy and a dozen labourers' cottages for circumference, and a noble oak tree, four centuries old, for its centre. The forge was already hard at work, for it was a good two hours after sunrise, and the village children were already on their way to learn the alphabet in the schoolroom, or to forget it in the fields. Suddenly, however, as the tramp approached, the forge ceased working, and the children, no doubt willing enough to loiter, set up a buzz of expectation. The tramp, for a moment, thought that Farmer Holmes had been preparing him an inhospitable reception, but he was soon undeceived by the shrill whistle of a fife and the sharp beat of a drum. The children ran forward : he leaned against the smithy door—at


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