“So do I,” said Mr. Norton. “’Tis a libel on them. They couldn’t go such a humdrum gait”.
“That reminds me”, said Mr. Somers, “of a very curious and original painting I saw in England. It represented the ghost of a flea”.
“Ridiculous!” exclaimed John. “You are romancing, Ned”.
“I am stating a fact. It was painted by that eccentric genius, Blake, upon a panel, and exhibited to me by an aquaintance, who was a friend of the artist”.
“What was it like?” said John.
“It was a naked figure with a strong body and a short neck, with burning eyes longing for moisture, and a face worthy of a murderer, holding a bloody cup in its clawed hands, out of which it seemed eager to drink. The shape was strange enough and the coloring splendid,—a kind of glistening green and dusky gold,—beautifully varnished. It was in fact the spiritualization of a flea”.
“What a conception!” exclaimed Mr. Norton. “The artist’s imagination must have been stimulated by intense personal sufferings from said insect. The savage little wretch. How did you manage the diet, Mr. Lansdowne?” continued the missionary, a smile twinkling all over his face.
“Ah! yes, the table d’hote. I found eggs and potatoes safe, and devoted myself to them, I was always sure to get snagged, when I tried anything else”.
“Verily, there is room for improvement in the mode of living, among His Majesty’s loyal subjects of this Province. I should say, that in most respects, they are about half a century behind the age”, said Mr. Norton.
“How did you ascertain I was here, John?” inquired Mr. Somers.
“I learned at Fredericton that you had left with Mr. Dubois, and I obtained directions there, for my route. Really”, added John, “you are fortunate to have found such an establishment as this to be laid up in”.
“Yes. God be thanked for the attention and care received in this house and for the kindness of this good friend”, said Mr. Somers, laying his hand affectionately on the missionary’s arm.
“But this Mummychog”, said John, breaking into a clear, musical laugh, “that I came across last night. He is a curiosity. That, of course, isn’t his real name. What is it?”
“He goes by no other name here”, replied Mr. Norton. “I met him”, said John, “a few rods from here”, and asked him if he could inform me where Mr. Dubois lived. “Well, s’pose I ken”, he said. After waiting a few minutes for some direction, and none forthcoming, I asked, “will you have the goodness to show me the house, sir?” “S’pose you hev particiler business there”, he inquired. “Yes. I have, sir”. “Well! I s’pose ye are goin’ fur to see hur?”
“Hur!” I exclaimed, my mind immediately reverting to the worthy ancient, who assisted Aaron in holding up the hands of Moses on a certain occasion, mentioned in the old Testament. “Hur! who is Hur? I am in pursuit of a gentleman,—a friend of mine. I know no other person here”. “O well! come then; I’ll show ye”. As he was walking along by Caesar’s side, I heard him say, apparently to himself, “He’s a gone ’un, any way”.