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Chapter 21

Rove not from pole to pole-the man lives here
Whose razor's only equall'd by his beer;
And where, in either sense, the cockney-put
May, if he pleases, get confounded cut.
_On the sign of an Alehouse kept by a Barber._

We are under the necessity of transporting our readers to the
habitation of Benjamin Suddlechop, the husband of the active and
efficient Dame Ursula, and who also, in his own person, discharged
more offices than one. For, besides trimming locks and beards, and
turning whiskers upward into the martial and swaggering curl, or
downward into the drooping form which became mustaches of civil
policy; besides also occasionally letting blood, either by cupping or
by the lancet, extracting a stump, and performing other actions of
petty pharmacy, very nearly as well as his neighbour Raredrench, the
apothecary: he could, on occasion, draw a cup of beer as well as a
tooth, tap a hogshead as well as a vein, and wash, with a draught of
good ale, the mustaches which his art had just trimmed. But he carried
on these trades apart from each other.

His barber's shop projected its long and mysterious pole into Fleet
Street, painted party-coloured-wise, to represent the ribbons with
which, in elder times, that ensign was garnished. In the window were
seen rows of teeth displayed upon strings like rosaries--cups with a
red rag at the bottom, to resemble blood, an intimation that patients
might be bled, cupped, or blistered, with the assistance of
"sufficient advice;" while the more profitable, but less honourable
operations upon the hair of the head and beard, were briefly and
gravely announced. Within was the well-worn leather chair for
customers, the guitar, then called a ghittern or cittern, with which a
customer might amuse himself till his predecessor was dismissed from
under Benjamin's hands, and which, therefore, often flayed the ears of
the patient metaphorically, while his chin sustained from the razor
literal scarification. All, therefore, in this department, spoke the
chirurgeon-barber, or the barber-chirurgeon.

But there was a little back-room, used as a private tap-room, which
had a separate entrance by a dark and crooked alley, which
communicated with Fleet Street, after a circuitous passage through
several by-lanes and courts. This retired temple of Bacchus had also a
connexion with Benjamin's more public shop by a long and narrow
entrance, conducting to the secret premises in which a few old topers
used to take their morning draught, and a few gill-sippers their
modicum of strong waters, in a bashful way, after having entered the
barber's shop under pretence of being shaved. Besides, this obscure
tap-room gave a separate admission to the apartments of Dame Ursley,
which she was believed to make use of in the course of her
multifarious practice, both to let herself secretly out, and to admit
clients and employers who cared not to be seen to visit her in public.
Accordingly, after the hour of noon, by which time the modest and
timid whetters, who were Benjamin's best customers, had each had his
draught, or his thimbleful, the business of the tap was in a manner
ended, and the charge of attending the back-door passed from one of
the barber's apprentices to the little mulatto girl, the dingy Iris of
Dame Suddlechop. Then came mystery thick upon mystery; muffled
gallants, and masked females, in disguises of different fashions, were
seen to glide through the intricate mazes of the alley; and even the
low tap on the door, which frequently demanded the attention of the
little Creole, had in it something that expressed secrecy and fear of

It was the evening of the same day when Margaret had held the long
conference with the Lady Hermione, that Dame Suddlechop had directed
her little portress to "keep the door fast as a miser's purse-strings;
and, as she valued her saffron skin, to let in none but---" the name
she added in a whisper, and accompanied it with a nod. The little
domestic blinked intelligence, went to her post, and in brief time
thereafter admitted and ushered into the presence of the dame, that
very city-gallant whose clothes sat awkwardly upon him, and who had
behaved so doughtily in the fray which befell at Nigel's first visit
to Beaujeu's ordinary. The mulatto introduced him--"Missis, fine young
gentleman, all over gold and velvet "--then muttered to herself as she
shut the door, "fine young gentleman, he!--apprentice to him who makes
the tick-tick."

It was indeed--we are sorry to say it, and trust our readers will
sympathize with the interest we take in the matter--it was indeed
honest Jin Vin, who had been so far left to his own devices, and
abandoned by his better angel, as occasionally to travesty himself in
this fashion, and to visit, in the dress of a gallant of the day,
those places of pleasure and dissipation, in which it would have been
everlasting discredit to him to have been seen in his real character
and condition; that is, had it been possible for him in his proper
shape to have gained admission. There was now a deep gloom on his
brow, his rich habit was hastily put on, and buttoned awry; his belt
buckled in a most disorderly fashion, so that his sword stuck outwards
from his side, instead of hanging by it with graceful negligence;
while his poniard, though fairly hatched and gilded, stuck in his
girdle like a butcher's steel in the fold of his blue apron. Persons
of fashion had, by the way, the advantage formerly of being better
distinguished from the vulgar than at present; for, what the ancient
farthingale and more modern hoop were to court ladies, the sword was
to the gentleman; an article of dress, which only rendered those
ridiculous who assumed it for the nonce, without being in the habit of
wearing it. Vincent's rapier got between his legs, and, as he stumbled
over it, he exclaimed--"Zounds! 'tis the second time it has served me
thus--I believe the damned trinket knows I am no true gentleman, and
does it of set purpose."

"Come, come, mine honest Jin Vin--come, my good boy," said the dame,
in a soothing tone, "never mind these trankums--a frank and hearty
London 'prentice is worth all the gallants of the inns of court."

"I was a frank and hearty London 'prentice before I knew you, Dame
Suddlechop," said Vincent; "what your advice has made me, you may find
a name for; since, fore George! I am ashamed to think about it

"A-well-a-day," quoth the dame, "and is it even so with thee?--nay,
then, I know but one cure;" and with that, going to a little corner
cupboard of carved wainscoat, she opened it by the assistance of a
key, which, with half-a-dozen besides, hung in a silver chain at her
girdle, and produced a long flask of thin glass cased with wicker,
bringing forth at the same time two Flemish rummer glasses, with long
stalks and capacious wombs. She filled the one brimful for her guest,
and the other more modestly to about two-thirds of its capacity, for
her own use, repeating, as the rich cordial trickled forth in a smooth
oily stream--"Right Rosa Solis, as ever washed mulligrubs out of a
moody brain!"

But, though Jin Vin tossed off his glass without scruple, while the
lady sippped hers more moderately, it did not appear to produce the
expected amendment upon his humour. On the contrary, as he threw
himself into the great leathern chair, in which Dame Ursley was wont
to solace herself of an evening, he declared himself "the most
miserable dog within the sound of Bow-bell."

"And why should you be so idle as to think yourself so, silly boy?"
said Dame Suddlechop; "but 'tis always thus--fools and children never
know when they are well. Why, there is not one that walks in St.
Paul's, whether in flat cap, or hat and feather, that has so many kind
glances from the wenches as you, when ye swagger along Fleet Street
with your bat under your arm, and your cap set aside upon your head.
Thou knowest well, that, from Mrs. Deputy's self down to the waist-
coateers in the alley, all of them are twiring and peeping betwixt
their fingers when you pass; and yet you call yourself a miserable
dog! and I must tell you all this over and over again, as if I were
whistling the chimes of London to a pettish child, in order to bring
the pretty baby into good-humour!"

The flattery of Dame Ursula seemed to have the fate of her cordial--it
was swallowed, indeed, by the party to whom she presented it, and that
with some degree of relish, but it did not operate as a sedative on
the disturbed state of the youth's mind. He laughed for an instant,
half in scorn, and half in gratified vanity, but cast a sullen look on
Dame Ursley as he replied to her last words,

"You do treat me like a child indeed, when you sing over and over to
me a cuckoo song that I care not a copper-filing for."

"Aha!" said Dame Ursley; "that is to say, you care not if you please
all, unless you please one--You are a true lover, I warrant, and care
not for all the city, from here to Whitechapel, so you could write
yourself first in your pretty Peg-a-Ramsay's good-will. Well, well,
take patience, man, and be guided by me, for I will be the hoop will
bind you together at last."

"It is time you were so," said Jenkin, "for hitherto you have rather
been the wedge to separate us."

Dame Suddlechop had by this time finished her cordial--it was not the
first she had taken that day; and, though a woman of strong brain, and
cautious at least, if not abstemious, in her potations, it may
nevertheless be supposed that her patience was not improved by the
regimen which she observed.

"Why, thou ungracious and ingrate knave," said Dame Ursley, "have not
I done every thing to put thee in thy mistress's good graces? She
loves gentry, the proud Scottish minx, as a Welshman loves cheese, and
has her father's descent from that Duke of Daldevil, or whatsoever she
calls him, as close in her heart as gold in a miser's chest, though
she as seldom shows it--and none she will think of, or have, but a
gentleman--and a gentleman I have made of thee, Jin Vin, the devil
cannot deny that."

"You have made a fool of me," said poor Jenkin, looking at the sleeve
of his jacket.

"Never the worse gentleman for that," said Dame Ursley, laughing.

"And what is worse," said he, turning his back to her suddenly, and
writhing in his chair, "you have made a rogue of me."

"Never the worse gentleman for that neither," said Dame Ursley, in the
same tone; "let a man bear his folly gaily and his knavery stoutly,
and let me see if gravity or honesty will look him in the face now-a-
days. Tut, man, it was only in the time of King Arthur or King Lud,
that a gentleman was held to blemish his scutcheon by a leap over the
line of reason or honesty--It is the bold look, the ready hand, the
fine clothes, the brisk oath, and the wild brain, that makes the
gallant now-a-days."

"I know what you have made me," said Jin Vin; "since I have given up
skittles and trap-ball for tennis and bowls, good English ale for thin
Bordeaux and sour Rhenish, roast-beef and pudding for woodcocks and
kickshaws--my bat for a sword, my cap for a beaver, my forsooth for a
modish oath, my Christmas-box for a dice-box, my religion for the
devil's matins, and mine honest name for--Woman, I could brain thee,
when I think whose advice has guided me in all this!"

"Whose advice, then? whose advice, then? Speak out, thou poor, petty
cloak-brusher, and say who advised thee!" retorted Dame Ursley,
flushed and indignant--"Marry come up, my paltry companion--say by
whose advice you have made a gamester of yourself, and a thief
besides, as your words would bear--The Lord deliver us from evil!" And
here Dame Ursley devoutly crossed herself.

"Hark ye, Dame Ursley Suddlechop," said Jenkin, starting up, his dark
eyes flashing with anger; "remember I am none of your husband--and, if
I were, you would do well not to forget whose threshold was swept when
they last rode the Skimmington [Footnote: A species of triumphal
procession in honour of female supremacy, when it rose to such a
height as to attract the attention of the neighbourhood. It is
described at full length in Hudibras. (Part II. Canto II.) As the
procession passed on, those who attended it in an official capacity
were wont to sweep the threshold of the houses in which Fame affirmed
the mistresses to exercise paramount authority, which was given and
received as a hint that their inmates might, in their turn, be made
the subject of a similar ovation. The Skimmington, which in some
degree resembled the proceedings of Mumbo Jumbo in an African village,
has been long discontinued in England, apparently because female rule
has become either milder or less frequent than among our ancestors.]
upon such another scolding jade as yourself."

"I hope to see you ride up Holborn next," said Dame Ursley, provoked
out of all her holiday and sugar-plum expressions, "with a nosegay at
your breast, and a parson at your elbow!"

"That may well be," answered Jin Vin, bitterly, "if I walk by your
counsels as I have begun by them; but, before that day comes, you
shall know that Jin Vin has the brisk boys of Fleet Street still at
his wink.--Yes, you jade, you shall be carted for bawd and conjurer,
double-dyed in grain, and bing off to Bridewell, with every brass
basin betwixt the Bar and Paul's beating before you, as if the devil
were banging them with his beef-hook."

Dame Ursley coloured like scarlet, seized upon the half-emptied flask
of cordial, and seemed, by her first gesture, about to hurl it at the
head of her adversary; but suddenly, and as if by a strong internal
effort, she checked her outrageous resentment, and, putting the bottle
to its more legitimate use, filled, with wonderful composure, the two
glasses, and, taking up one of them, said, with a smile, which better
became her comely and jovial countenance than the fury by which it was
animated the moment before--

"Here is to thee, Jin Vin, my lad, in all loving kindness, whatever
spite thou bearest to me, that have always been a mother to thee."

Jenkin's English good-nature could not resist this forcible appeal; he
took up the other glass, and lovingly pledged the dame in her cup of
reconciliation, and proceeded to make a kind of grumbling apology for
his own violence--

"For you know," he said, "it was you persuaded me to get these fine
things, and go to that godless ordinary, and ruffle it with the best,
and bring you home all the news; and you said, I, that was the cock of
the ward, would soon be the cock of the ordinary, and would win ten
times as much at gleek and primero, as I used to do at put and beggar-
my-neighbour--and turn up doublets with the dice, as busily as I was
wont to trowl down the ninepins in the skittle-ground--and then you
said I should bring you such news out of the ordinary as should make
us all, when used as you knew how to use it--and now you see what is
to come of it all!"

"'Tis all true thou sayest, lad," said the dame; "but thou must have
patience. Rome was not built in a day--you cannot become used to your
court-suit in a month's time, any more than when you changed your long
coat for a doublet and hose; and in gaming you must expect to lose as
well as gain--'tis the sitting gamester sweeps the board."

"The board has swept me, I know," replied Jin Vin, "and that pretty
clean out.--I would that were the worst; but I owe for all this
finery, and settling-day is coming on, and my master will find my
accompt worse than it should be by a score of pieces. My old father
will be called in to make them good; and I--may save the hangman a
labour and do the job myself, or go the Virginia voyage."

"Do not speak so loud, my dear boy," said Dame Ursley; "but tell me
why you borrow not from a friend to make up your arrear. You could
lend him as much when his settling-day came round."

"No, no--I have had enough of that work," said Vincent. "Tunstall
would lend me the money, poor fellow, an he had it; but his gentle,
beggarly kindred, plunder him of all, and keep him as bare as a birch
at Christmas. No--my fortune may be spelt in four letters, and these
read, RUIN."

"Now hush, you simple craven," said the dame; "did you never hear,
that when the need is highest the help is nighest? We may find aid for
you yet, and sooner than you are aware of. I am sure I would never
have advised you to such a course, but only you had set heart and eye
on pretty Mistress Marget, and less would not serve you--and what
could I do but advise you to cast your city-slough, and try your luck
where folks find fortune?"

"Ay, ay--I remember your counsel well," said Jenkin; "I was to be
introduced to her by you when I was perfect in my gallantries, and as
rich as the king; and then she was to be surprised to find I was poor
Jin Vin, that used to watch, from matin to curfew, for one glance of
her eye; and now, instead of that, she has set her soul on this
Scottish sparrow-hawk of a lord that won my last tester, and be cursed
to him; and so I am bankrupt in love, fortune, and character, before I
am out of my time, and all along of you, Mother Midnight."

"Do not call me out of my own name, my dear boy, Jin Vin," answered
Ursula, in a tone betwixt rage and coaxing,--"do not; because I am no
saint, but a poor sinful woman, with no more patience than she needs,
to carry her through a thousand crosses. And if I have done you wrong
by evil counsel, I must mend it and put you right by good advice. And
for the score of pieces that must be made up at settling-day, why,
here is, in a good green purse, as much as will make that matter good;
and we will get old Crosspatch, the tailor, to take a long day for
your clothes; and--"

"Mother, are you serious?" said Jin Vin, unable to trust either his
eyes or his ears.

"In troth am I," said the dame; "and will you call me Mother Midnight
now, Jin Vin?"

"Mother Midnight!" exclaimed Jenkin, hugging the dame in his
transport, and bestowing on her still comely cheek a hearty and not
unacceptable smack, that sounded like the report of a pistol,--"Mother
Midday, rather, that has risen to light me out of my troubles--a
mother more dear than she who bore me; for she, poor soul, only
brought me into a world of sin and sorrow, and your timely aid has
helped me out of the one and the other. "And the good-natured fellow
threw himself back in his chair, and fairly drew his hand across his

"You would not have me be made to ride the Skimmington then," said the
dame; "or parade me in a cart, with all the brass basins of the ward
beating the march to Bridewell before me?"

"I would sooner be carted to Tyburn myself," replied the penitent.

"Why, then, sit up like a man, and wipe thine eyes; and, if thou art
pleased with what I have done, I will show thee how thou mayst requite
me in the highest degree."

"How?" said Jenkin Vincent, sitting straight up in his chair.--"You
would have me, then, do you some service for this friendship of

"Ay, marry would I," said Dame Ursley; "for you are to know, that
though I am right glad to stead you with it, this gold is not mine,
but was placed in my hands in order to find a trusty agent, for a
certain purpose; and so--But what's the matter with you?--are you fool
enough to be angry because you cannot get a purse of gold for nothing?
I would I knew where such were to come by. I never could find them
lying in my road, I promise you."

"No, no, dame," said poor Jenkin, "it is not for that; for, look you,
I would rather work these ten bones to the knuckles, and live by my
labour; but--" (and here he paused.)

"But what, man?" said Dame Ursley. "You are willing to work for what
you want; and yet, when I offer you gold for the winning, you look on
me as the devil looks over Lincoln."

"It is ill talking of the devil, mother," said Jenkin. "I had him even
now in my head--for, look you, I am at that pass, when they say he
will appear to wretched ruined creatures, and proffer them gold for
the fee-simple of their salvation. But I have been trying these two
days to bring my mind strongly up to the thought, that I will rather
sit down in shame, and sin, and sorrow, as I am like to do, than hold
on in ill courses to get rid of my present straits; and so take care,
Dame Ursula, how you tempt me to break such a good resolution."

"I tempt you to nothing, young man," answered Ursula; "and, as I
perceive you are too wilful to be wise, I will e'en put my purse in my
pocket, and look out for some one that will work my turn with better
will, and more thankfulness. And you may go your own course,--break
your indenture, ruin your father, lose your character, and bid pretty
Mistress Margaret farewell, for ever and a day."

"Stay, stay," said Jenkin "the woman is in as great a hurry as a brown
baker when his oven is overheated. First, let me hear that which you
have to propose to me."

"Why, after all, it is but to get a gentleman of rank and fortune, who
is in trouble, carried in secret down the river, as far as the Isle of
Dogs, or somewhere thereabout, where he may lie concealed until he can
escape aboard. I know thou knowest every place by the river's side as
well as the devil knows an usurer, or the beggar knows his dish."

"A plague of your similes, dame," replied the apprentice; "for the
devil gave me that knowledge, and beggary may be the end on't.--But
what has this gentleman done, that he should need to be under hiding?
No Papist, I hope--no Catesby and Piercy business--no Gunpowder Plot?"

"Fy, fy!--what do you take me for?" said Dame Ursula. "I am as good a
churchwoman as the parson's wife, save that necessary business will
not allow me to go there oftener than on Christmas-day, heaven help
me!--No, no--this is no Popish matter. The gentleman hath but struck
another in the Park--"

"Ha! what?" said Vincent, interrupting her with a start.

"Ay, ay, I see you guess whom I mean. It is even he we have spoken of
so often--just Lord Glenvarloch, and no one else."

Vincent sprung from his seat, and traversed the room with rapid and
disorderly steps.

"There, there it is now--you are always ice or gunpowder. You sit in
the great leathern armchair, as quiet as a rocket hangs upon the frame
in a rejoicing-night till the match be fired, and then, whizz! you are
in the third heaven, beyond the reach of the human voice, eye, or
brain.--When you have wearied yourself with padding to and fro across
the room, will you tell me your determination, for time presses? Will
you aid me in this matter, or not?"

"No--no--no--a thousand times no," replied Jenkin. "Have you not
confessed to me, that Margaret loves him?"

"Ay," answered the dame, "that she thinks she does; but that will not
last long."

"And have I not told you but this instant," replied Jenkin, "that it
was this same Glenvarloch that rooked me, at the ordinary, of every
penny I had, and made a knave of me to boot, by gaining more than was
my own?--O that cursed gold, which Shortyard, the mercer, paid me that
morning on accompt, for mending the clock of Saint Stephen's! If I had
not, by ill chance, had that about me, I could but have beggared my
purse, without blemishing my honesty; and, after I had been rooked of
all the rest amongst them, I must needs risk the last five pieces with
that shark among the minnows!"

"Granted," said Dame Ursula. "All this I know; and I own, that as Lord
Glenvarloch was the last you played with, you have a right to charge
your ruin on his head. Moreover, I admit, as already said, that
Margaret has made him your rival. Yet surely, now he is in danger to
lose his hand, it is not a time to remember all this?"

"By my faith, but it is, though," said the young citizen. "Lose his
hand, indeed? They may take his head, for what I care. Head and hand
have made me a miserable wretch!"

"Now, were it not better, my prince of flat-caps," said Dame Ursula,
"that matters were squared between you; and that, through means of the
same Scottish lord, who has, as you say, deprived you of your money
and your mistress, you should in a short time recover both?"

"And how can your wisdom come to that conclusion, dame?" said the
apprentice. "My money, indeed, I can conceive--that is, if I comply
with your proposal; but--my pretty Marget!--how serving this lord,
whom she has set her nonsensical head upon, can do me good with her,
is far beyond my conception."

"That is because, in simple phrase," said Dame Ursula, "thou knowest
no more of a woman's heart than doth a Norfolk gosling. Look you, man.
Were I to report to Mistress Margaret that the young lord has
miscarried through thy lack of courtesy in refusing to help him, why,
then, thou wert odious to her for ever. She will loathe thee as she
will loathe the very cook who is to strike off Glenvarloch's hand with
his cleaver--and then she will be yet more fixed in her affections
towards this lord. London will hear of nothing but him--speak of
nothing but him--think of nothing but him, for three weeks at least,
and all that outcry will serve to keep him uppermost in her mind; for
nothing pleases a girl so much as to bear relation to any one who is
the talk of the whole world around her. Then, if he suffer this
sentence of the law, it is a chance if she ever forgets him. I saw
that handsome, proper young gentleman Babington, suffer in the Queen's
time myself, and though I was then but a girl, he was in my head for a
year after he was hanged. But, above all, pardoned or punished,
Glenvarloch will probably remain in London, and his presence will keep
up the silly girl's nonsensical fancy about him. Whereas, if he

"Ay, show me how that is to avail me?" said Jenkin. "If he escapes,"
said the dame, resuming her argument, "he must resign the Court for
years, if not for life; and you know the old saying, 'out of sight,
and out of mind.'"

"True--most true," said Jenkin; "spoken like an oracle, most wise
Ursula." "Ay, ay, I knew you would hear reason at last," said the wily
dame; "and then, when this same lord is off and away for once and for
ever, who, I pray you, is to be pretty pet's confidential person, and
who is to fill up the void in her affections?--why, who but thou, thou
pearl of 'prentices! And then you will have overcome your own
inclinations to comply with hers, and every woman is sensible of that-
-and you will have run some risk, too, in carrying her desires into
effect--and what is it that woman likes better than bravery, and
devotion to her will? Then you have her secret, and she must treat you
with favour and observance, and repose confidence in you, and hold
private intercourse with you, till she weeps with one eye for the
absent lover whom she is never to see again, and blinks with the other
blithely upon him who is in presence; and then if you know not how to
improve the relation in which you stand with her, you are not the
brisk lively lad that all the world takes you for--Said I well?"

"You have spoken like an empress, most mighty Ursula," said Jenkin
Vincent; "and your will shall be obeyed."

"You know Alsatia well?" continued his tutoress.

"Well enough, well enough," replied he with a nod; "I have heard the
dice rattle there in my day, before I must set up for gentleman, and
go among the gallants at the Shavaleer Bojo's, as they call him,--the
worse rookery of the two, though the feathers are the gayest."

"And they will have a respect for thee yonder, I warrant?"

"Ay, ay," replied Vin, "when I am got into my fustian doublet again,
with my bit of a trunnion under my arm, I can walk Alsatia at midnight
as I could do that there Fleet Street in midday--they will not one of
them swagger with the prince of 'prentices, and the king of clubs--
they know I could bring every tall boy in the ward down upon them."

"And you know all the watermen, and so forth?"

"Can converse with every sculler in his own language, from Richmond to
Gravesend, and know all the water-cocks, from John Taylor the Poet to
little Grigg the Grinner, who never pulls but he shows all his teeth
from ear to ear, as if he were grimacing through a horse-collar."

"And you can take any dress or character upon you well, such as a
waterman's, a butcher's, a foot-soldier's," continued Ursula, "or the

"Not such a mummer as I am within the walls, and thou knowest that
well enough, dame," replied the apprentice. "I can touch the players
themselves, at the Ball and at the Fortune, for presenting any thing
except a gentleman. Take but this d--d skin of frippery off me, which
I think the devil stuck me into, and you shall put me into nothing
else that I will not become as if I were born to it."

"Well, we will talk of your transmutation by and by," said the dame,
"and find you clothes withal, and money besides; for it will take a
good deal to carry the thing handsomely through."

"But where is that money to come from, dame?" said Jenkin; "there is a
question I would fain have answered before I touch it."

"Why, what a fool art thou to ask such a question! Suppose I am
content to advance it to please young madam, what is the harm then?"

"I will suppose no such thing," said Jenkin, hastily; "I know that
you, dame, have no gold to spare, and maybe would not spare it if you
had--so that cock will not crow. It must be from Margaret herself."

"Well, thou suspicious animal, and what if it were?" said Ursula.

"Only this," replied Jenkin, "that I will presently to her, and learn
if she has come fairly by so much ready money; for sooner than connive
at her getting it by any indirection, I would hang myself at once. It
is enough what I have done myself, no need to engage poor Margaret in
such villainy--I'll to her, and tell her of the danger--I will, by

"You are mad to think of it," said Dame Suddlechop, considerably
alarmed--"hear me but a moment. I know not precisely from whom she got
the money; but sure I am that she obtained it at her godfather's."

"Why, Master George Heriot is not returned from France," said Jenkin.

"No," replied Ursula, "but Dame Judith is at home--and the strange
lady, whom they call Master Heriot's ghost--she never goes abroad."

"It is very true, Dame Suddlechop," said Jenkin; "and I believe you
have guessed right--they say that lady has coin at will; and if Marget
can get a handful of fairy-gold, why, she is free to throw it away at

"Ah, Jin Vin," said the dame, reducing her voice almost to a whisper,
"we should not want gold at will neither, could we but read the riddle
of that lady!"

"They may read it that list," said Jenkin, "I'll never pry into what
concerns me not--Master George Heriot is a worthy and brave citizen,
and an honour to London, and has a right to manage his own household
as he likes best.--There was once a talk of rabbling him the fifth of
November before the last, because they said he kept a nunnery in his
house, like old Lady Foljambe; but Master George is well loved among
the 'prentices, and we got so many brisk boys of us together as should
have rabbled the rabble, had they had but the heart to rise."

"Well, let that pass," said Ursula; "and now, tell me how you will
manage to be absent from shop a day or two, for you must think that
this matter will not be ended sooner."

"Why, as to that, I can say nothing," said Jenkin, "I have always
served duly and truly; I have no heart to play truant, and cheat my
master of his time as well as his money."

"Nay, but the point is to get back his money for him," said Ursula,
"which he is not likely to see on other conditions. Could you not ask
leave to go down to your uncle in Essex for two or three days? He may
be ill, you know."

"Why, if I must, I must," said Jenkin, with a heavy sigh; "but I will
not be lightly caught treading these dark and crooked paths again."

"Hush thee, then," said the dame, "and get leave for this very
evening; and come back hither, and I will introduce you to another
implement, who must be employed in the matter.--Stay, stay!--the lad
is mazed--you would not go into your master's shop in that guise,
surely? Your trunk is in the matted chamber, with your 'prentice
things--go and put them on as fast as you can."

"I think I am bewitched," said Jenkin, giving a glance towards his
dress, "or that these fool's trappings have made as great an ass of me
as of many I have seen wear them; but let line once be rid of the
harness, and if you catch me putting it on again, I will give you
leave to sell me to a gipsy, to carry pots, pans, and beggar's
bantlings, all the rest of my life." So saying, he retired to change
his apparel.

Sir Walter Scott