The Broad Highway (Book One - Chapter 3 Concerns Itself Mainly With a Hat, page 3 of 4)


Previous Page
Next Page

"But you're always a-axin', you are," said Joel gloomily.

"W'ich I notice," retorted the man Tom, blowing into his tankard,
"w'ich I notice as you ain't never over-fond o' answerin'."

"Oh!--I ain't, ain't I?"

"No, you ain't," repeated Tom, "nohow."

Here the red-faced man grew so very red indeed that the others
fell to coughing, all together, and shuffling their feet and
giving divers other evidences of their embarrassment, all save
the unimpressionable Tom.

Seizing the occasion that now presented itself, I knocked loudly
upon the floor with my stick, whereupon the red-faced man,
removing his eyes slowly and by degrees from the unconcerned Tom,
fixed them darkly upon me.

"Supposing," said I, "supposing you are so very obliging as to
serve me with a pint of ale?"

"Then supposin' you show me the color o' your money?" he growled,
"come, money fust; I aren't takin' no more risks."

For answer I laid the coins before him. And having pocketed the
money, he filled and thrust a foaming tankard towards me, which I
emptied forthwith and called upon him for another.

"Wheer's your money?"

"Here," said I, tossing a sixpence to him, "and you can keep the
change."

"Why, ye see, sir," he began, somewhat mollified, "it be precious
'ard to know who's a gentleman, an' who ain't; who's a thief, an'
who ain't these days."

"How so?"

"Why, only a little while ago--just afore you--chap comes a-walkin'
in 'ere, no account much to look at, but very 'aughty for all
that--comes a-walkin in 'ere 'e do an' calls for a pint o' ale--you
'eard 'im, all on ye?" He broke off, turning to the others; "you
all 'eard 'im call for a pint o' ale?"

"Ah--we 'eard 'im," they nodded.

"Comes a-walkin' in 'ere 'e do, bold as brass--calls for a pint
o' ale--drinks it off, an'--'ands me 'is 'at; you all seen 'im
'and me 'is 'at?" he inquired, once more addressing the others.

"Every man of us," the four chimed in with four individual nods.

"'Wot's this 'ere?' says I, turnin' it over. 'It's a 'at, or once
was,' says 'e. 'Well, I don't want it,' says I. 'Since you've
got it you'd better keep it,' says 'e. 'Wot for?' says I? 'Why,'
says 'e, 'it's only fair seein' I've got your ale--it's a case of
exchange,' says 'e. 'Oh! is it?' says I, an' pitched the thing
out into the road an' 'im arter it--an' so it ended. An' wot,"
said the red-faced man nodding his big head at me, "wot d'ye
think o' that now?"

Previous Page
Next Page


Rate This Book

Current Rating: 2.6/5 (149 votes cast)



Review This Book or Post a Comment