The Broad Highway (Book One - Chapter 8 Which Concerns Itself with a Farmer's Whiskers and a Waistcoat, page 1 of 5)


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How long I slept I have no idea, but when I opened my eyes it was
to find the moon shining down on me from a cloudless heaven; the
wind also had died away; it seemed my early fears of a wild night
were not to be fulfilled, and for this I was sufficiently grateful.
Now as I lay, blinking up to the moon, I presently noticed that we
had come to a standstill and I listened expectantly for the jingle
of harness and creak of the wheels to recommence. "Strange!" said
I to myself, after having waited vainly some little time, and
wondering what could cause the delay, I sat up and looked about me.
The first object my eyes encountered was a haystack and, beyond
that, another, with, a little to one side, a row of barns, and
again beyond these, a great, rambling farmhouse. Evidently the
wain had reached its destination, wherever that might be, and the
sleepy wagoner, forgetful of my presence, had tumbled off to bed.
The which I thought so excellent an example that I lay down again,
and, drawing the loose hay over me, closed my eyes, and once more
fell asleep.

My second awakening was gradual. I at first became conscious of
a sound, rising and falling with a certain monotonous regularity,
that my drowsy ears could make nothing of. Little by little,
however, the sound developed itself into a somewhat mournful
melody or refrain, chanted by a not unmusical voice. I yawned
and, having stretched myself, sat up to look and listen. And the
words of the song were these: "When a man, who muffins cries,
Cries not, when his father dies,
'Tis a proof that he would rather
Have a muffin than his father."

The singer was a tall, strapping fellow with a good-tempered
face, whose ruddy health was set off by a handsome pair of black
whiskers. As I watched him, he laid aside the pitchfork he had
been using, and approached the wagon, but, chancing to look up,
his eye met mine, and he stopped: "Hulloa!" he exclaimed, breaking short off in the middle of a
note, "hulloa!"

"Hallo!" said I.

"W'at be doin' up theer?"

"I was thinking," I returned, "that, under certain circumstances,
I, for one, could not blame the individual, mentioned in your
song, for his passionate attachment to muffins. At this precise
moment a muffin--or, say, five or six, would be highly acceptable,
personally."

"Be you partial to muffins, then?"

"Yes, indeed," said I, "more especially seeing I have not broken
my fast since midday yesterday."

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