Richard. A horse!—A horse!—my kingdom for a horse! Catesby......My lord, I’ll help you to a horse. --Richard III.
Our travellers were in the act of passing a small thicket of trees close by the roadside, when the first living being presented himself whom they had seen since their departure from Cumnor Place. This was a stupid lout, seemingly a farmer’s boy, in a grey jerkin, with his head bare, his hose about his heels, and huge startups upon his feet. He held by the bridle what of all things they most wanted—a palfrey, namely, with a side-saddle, and all other garniture for a woman’s mounting; and he hailed Wayland Smith with, “Zur, be ye zure the party?”
“Ay, that I be, my lad,” answered Wayland, without an instant’s hesitation; and it must be owned that consciences trained in a stricter school of morality might have given way to an occasion so tempting. While he spoke, he caught the rein out of the boy’s hand, and almost at the same time helped down the Countess from his own horse, and aided her to mount on that which chance had thus presented for her acceptance. Indeed, so naturally did the whole take place, that the Countess, as it afterwards appeared, never suspected but that the horse had been placed there to meet them by the precaution of the guide or some of his friends.
The lad, however, who was thus hastily dispossessed of his charge, began to stare hard, and scratch his head, as if seized with some qualms of conscience for delivering up the animal on such brief explanation. “I be right zure thou be’st the party,” said he, muttering to himself, “but thou shouldst ha zaid Beans, thou knawest.”
“Ay, ay,” said Wayland, speaking at a venture; “and thou bacon, thou knowest.”
“Noa, noa,” said the lad; “bide ye—bide ye—it was Peas a should ha said.”
“Well, well,” answered Wayland, “Peas be it, a God’s name! though Bacon were the better password.”
And being by this time mounted on his own horse, he caught the rein of the palfrey from the uncertain hold of the hesitating young boor, flung him a small piece of money, and made amends for lost time by riding briskly off without further parley. The lad was still visible from the hill up which they were riding, and Wayland, as he looked back, beheld him standing with his fingers in his hair as immovable as a guide-post, and his head turned in the direction in which they were escaping from him. At length, just as they topped the hill, he saw the clown stoop to lift up the silver groat which his benevolence had imparted. “Now this is what I call a Godsend,” said Wayland; “this is a bonny, well-ridden bit of a going thing, and it will carry us so far till we get you as well mounted, and then we will send it back time enough to satisfy the Hue and Cry.”
But he was deceived in his expectations; and fate, which seemed at first to promise so fairly, soon threatened to turn the incident which he thus gloried in into the cause of their utter ruin.