“Then—what do ye want?”
“Oh well, I’ll just go on lying here, and see what turns up,—so drive on, like the good fellow you are.”
“Can’t be done!” said the Waggoner.
“Why, since you ax me—because I don’t have to drive no farther. There be the farm-house,—over the up-land yonder, you can’t see it because o’ the trees, but there it be.”
So, Bellew sighed resignedly, and, perforce, climbed down into the road.
“What do I owe you?” he enquired.
“Owe me!” said the Waggoner, staring.
“For the ride, and the—er—very necessary exercise you afforded me.”
“Lord!” cried the Waggoner with a sudden, great laugh, “you don’t owe me nothin’ for that,—not nohow,—I owe you one for a knocking of me into that ditch, back yonder, though, to be sure, I did give ye one or two good ’uns, didn’t I?”
“You certainly did!” answered Bellew smiling, and he held out his hand.
“Hey!—what be this?” cried the Waggoner, staring down at the bright five-shilling piece in his palm.
“Well, I rather think it’s five shillings,” said Bellew. “It’s big enough, heaven knows. English money is all O.K., I suppose, but it’s confoundedly confusing, and rather heavy to drag around if you happen to have enough of it—”
“Ah!” nodded the Waggoner, “but then nobody never has enough of it,—leastways, I never knowed nobody as had. Good-bye, sir! and thankee, and—good luck!” saying which, the Waggoner chirrupped to his horses, slipped the coin into his pocket, nodded, and the waggon creaked and rumbled up the lane.
Bellew strolled along the road, breathing an air fragrant with honey-suckle from the hedges, and full of the song of birds; pausing, now and then, to listen to the blythe carol of a sky-lark, or the rich; sweet notes of a black-bird, and feeling that it was indeed, good to be alive; so that, what with all this,—the springy turf beneath his feet, and the blue expanse over-head, he began to whistle for very joy of it, until, remembering the Haunting Shadow of the Might Have Been, he checked himself, and sighed instead. Presently, turning from the road, he climbed a stile, and followed a narrow path that led away across the meadows, and, as he went, there met him a gentle wind laden with the sweet, warm scent of ripening hops, and fruit.
On he went, and on,—heedless of his direction until the sun grew low, and he grew hungry; wherefore, looking about, he presently espied a nook sheltered from the sun’s level rays by a steep bank where flowers bloomed, and ferns grew. Here he sat down, unslinging his knap-sack, and here it was, also, that he first encountered Small Porges.
How Small Porges in looking for a fortune for another, found an Uncle for Himself instead
The meeting of George Bellew and Small Porges, (as he afterward came to be called), was sudden, precipitate, and wholly unexpected; and it befell on this wise: