“You stay where you are,” ses Mr. Cutts. “We ain’t going to let you out of our sight.”
“Very well, then, you take me ’ome,” ses Bob. “I’m not going to catch my death o’ cold sitting ’ere. I’m not used to being out of a night like you are. I was brought up respectable.”
“I dare say,” ses Mr. Cutts. “Take you ’ome, and then ‘ave one o’ your mates come and get the sack while we’re away.”
Then Bob Pretty lost ’is temper, and the things ’e said about Mr. Cutts wasn’t fit for Smith to ’ear. He threw ’imself down at last full length on the ground and sulked till the day broke.
Keeper Lewis was there a’most as soon as it was light, with some long hay-rakes he’d borrowed, and I should think that pretty near ’arf the folks in Clay-bury ’ad turned up to see the fun. Mrs. Pretty was crying and wringing ’er ’ands; but most folks seemed to be rather pleased that Bob ’ad been caught at last.
In next to no time ’arf-a-dozen rakes was at work, and the things they brought out o’ that pond you wouldn’t believe. The edge of it was all littered with rusty tin pails and saucepans and such-like, and by-and-by Lewis found the things he’d ’ad to go ’ome without a few hours afore, but they didn’t seem to find that sack, and Bob Pretty, wot was talking to ’is wife, began to look ’opeful.
But just then the squire came riding up with two friends as was staying with ’im, and he offered a reward of five shillings to the man wot found it. Three or four of ’em waded in up to their middle then and raked their ’ardest, and at last Henery Walker give a cheer and brought it to the side, all heavy with water.
“That’s the sack I found, sir,” ses Bob, starting up. “It wasn’t on your land at all, but on the field next to it. I’m an honest, ’ardworking man, and I’ve never been in trouble afore. Ask anybody ’ere and they’ll tell you the same.”
Squire Rockett took no notice of ’im. “Is that the sack?” he asks, turning to Mr. Cutts.
“That’s the one, sir,” ses Mr. Cutts. “I’d swear to it anywhere.”
“You’d swear a man’s life away,” ses Bob. “’Ow can you swear to it when it was dark?”
Mr. Cutts didn’t answer ’im. He went down on ’is knees and cut the string that tied up the mouth o’ the sack, and then ’e started back as if ’e’d been shot, and ’is eyes a’most started out of ’is ’ead.
“Wot’s the matter?” ses the squire.
Mr. Cutts couldn’t speak; he could only stutter and point at the sack with ’is finger, and Henery Walker, as was getting curious, lifted up the other end of it and out rolled a score of as fine cabbages as you could wish to see.
I never see people so astonished afore in all my born days, and as for Bob Pretty, ’e stood staring at them cabbages as if ’e couldn’t believe ’is eyesight.
“And that’s wot I’ve been kept ’ere all night for,” he ses, at last, shaking his ‘ead. “That’s wot comes o’ trying to do a kindness to keepers, and ’elping of ’em in their difficult work. P’r’aps that ain’t the sack arter all, Mr. Cutts. I could ha’ sworn they was pheasants in the one I found, but I may be mistook, never ’aving ’ad one in my ’ands afore. Or p’r’aps somebody was trying to ’ave a game with you, Mr. Cutts, and deceived me instead.”