’The scarecrow had a suit of clothes that was all tatters, and an old beaver hat. It was the hat that took Nathan’s fancy. Beaver hats cost a deal of money in those days: but they had a knack of lasting, and Nathan had scarcely ever met with one, however old, that he couldn’t sell for a few pence. For a minute or so he stood there, letting his sense of business get the better of his fright; then he swallowed down the last doubt sticking in his throat, walked straight up to the scarecrow, and made a grab at the hat.
’"Leave my head alone, can’t you?” said the scarecrow. And with that Mr Nathan dropped in a fit; yet not so quick but that before dropping he caught a straight blow full on the jaw.
’When he came to, his coat was gone, and his bag, and his hats, including the scarecrow’s. But the rest of the scarecrow stood over him, with its arms stretched out just as before; and he picked himself up and ran from it.
’As for the lad, by this time he had made the best of two miles towards Plymouth. In his letter he apologised very prettily to my grandmother for not saying good-bye. He owed his life to her, he said; but being taken unawares he had done the best he could in the circumstances.’
MY CHRISTMAS BURGLARY.
[From the Memoirs of a Pierrot.]
I had come with high expectations, for Mr Felix, a bachelor of sixty-five, was reputed to have made for thirty years this particular cabinet his idol. Any nabob or millionaire can collect. Mr Felix, being moderately well to do, had selected. He would have none but the best; and the best lay stored delicately on cotton-wool, ticketed with the tiniest handwriting, in a nest of drawers I could have unlocked with a hairpin.
The topmost drawer contained scarabs (of which I am no connoisseur); the second some two dozen intaglios, and of these, by the light of my bull’s-eye lantern, I examined five or six before sweeping the lot into my bag—Europa and the Bull, Ganymede in the eagle’s claw, Agave carrying the head of Pentheus, Icarus with relaxed wing dropping headlong to a sea represented by one wavy line; each and all priceless. In the third drawer lay an unset emerald, worth a king’s ransom, a clasp of two amethysts, and a necklace of black pearls graduated to a hair’s-breadth. By this time I could see—I read it even in the exquisite parsimony of the collection—that I had to deal with an artist, and sighed that in this world artists should prey upon one another. The fourth drawer was reserved for miniatures, the most of them circleted with diamonds: the fifth for snuff-boxes-gold snuffboxes bearing royal ciphers, snuff-boxes of tortoise-shell and gold, snuff-boxes of blue enamel set with diamonds. A couple of these chinked together as they dropped into the bag. The sound startled me, and I paused for a moment to look over my shoulder.