have of these pedlars, that have more in’em than
you’d think, sister.—WINTER’S tale, act iv., Scene 3.
In his anxiety to obey the Earl’s repeated charges of secrecy, as well as from his own unsocial and miserly habits, Anthony Foster was more desirous, by his mode of housekeeping, to escape observation than to resist intrusive curiosity. Thus, instead of a numerous household, to secure his charge, and defend his house, he studied as much as possible to elude notice by diminishing his attendants; so that, unless when there were followers of the Earl, or of Varney, in the mansion, one old male domestic, and two aged crones, who assisted in keeping the Countess’s apartments in order, were the only servants of the family.
It was one of these old women who opened the door when Wayland knocked, and answered his petition, to be admitted to exhibit his wares to the ladies of the family, with a volley of vituperation, couched in what is there called the JOWRING dialect. The pedlar found the means of checking this vociferation by slipping a silver groat into her hand, and intimating the present of some stuff for a coif, if the lady would buy of his wares.
“God ield thee, for mine is aw in littocks. Slocket with thy pack into gharn, mon—her walks in gharn.” Into the garden she ushered the pedlar accordingly, and pointing to an old, ruinous garden house, said, “Yonder be’s her, mon—yonder be’s her. Zhe will buy changes an zhe loikes stuffs.”
“She has left me to come off as I may,” thought Wayland, as he heard the hag shut the garden-door behind him. “But they shall not beat me, and they dare not murder me, for so little trespass, and by this fair twilight. Hang it, I will on—a brave general never thought of his retreat till he was defeated. I see two females in the old garden-house yonder—but how to address them? Stay—Will Shakespeare, be my friend in need. I will give them a taste of Autolycus.” He then sung, with a good voice, and becoming audacity, the popular playhouse ditty,—
“Lawn as white
as driven snow,
Cyprus black as e’er was crow,
Gloves as sweet as damask roses,
Masks for faces and for noses.”
“What hath fortune sent us here for an unwonted sight, Janet?” said the lady.
“One of those merchants of vanity, called pedlars,” answered Janet, demurely, “who utters his light wares in lighter measures. I marvel old Dorcas let him pass.”
“It is a lucky chance, girl,” said the Countess; “we lead a heavy life here, and this may while off a weary hour.”
“Ay, my gracious lady,” said Janet; “but my father?”
“He is not my father, Janet, nor I hope my master,” answered the lady. “I say, call the man hither—I want some things.”
“Nay,” replied Janet, “your ladyship has but to say so in the next packet, and if England can furnish them they will be sent. There will come mischief on’t—pray, dearest lady, let me bid the man begone!”