I awoke, on my own calculation, about midnight—it was pitch dark, and there was much fear upon me.
Free and independent—I don’t see why—Oats—A noise—Unwelcome visitors—What’s the matter?—Good-day to ye—The tall girl—Dovrefeld—Blow on the face—Civil enough—What’s this?—Vulgar woman—Hands off—Gasping for breath—Long Melford—A pretty manoeuvre—A long draught—Signs of animation—It won’t do—No malice—Bad people.
Two mornings after the period to which I have brought the reader in the preceding chapter, I sat by my fire at the bottom of the dingle; I had just breakfasted, and had finished the last morsel of food which I had brought with me to that solitude.
‘What shall I now do?’ said I to myself; ’shall I continue here, or decamp?—this is a sad lonely spot—perhaps I had better quit it; but whither shall I go? the wide world is before me, but what can I do therein? I have been in the world already without much success. No, I had better remain here; the place is lonely, it is true, but here I am free and independent, and can do what I please; but I can’t remain here without food. Well, I will find my way to the nearest town, lay in a fresh supply of provision, and come back, turning my back upon the world, which has turned its back upon me. I don’t see why I should not write a little sometimes; I have pens and an ink-horn, and for a writing-desk I can place the Bible on my knee. I shouldn’t wonder if I could write a capital satire on the world on the back of that Bible; but, first of all, I must think of supplying myself with food.’
I rose up from the stone on which I was seated, determining to go to the nearest town, with my little horse and cart, and procure what I wanted. The nearest town, according to my best calculation, lay about five miles distant; I had no doubt, however, that, by using ordinary diligence, I should be back before evening. In order to go lighter, I determined to leave my tent standing as it was, and all the things which I had purchased of the tinker, just as they were. ’I need not be apprehensive on their account,’ said I to myself; ’nobody will come here to meddle with them—the great recommendation of this place is its perfect solitude—I daresay that I could live here six months without seeing a single human visage. I will now harness my little gry and be off to the town.’