‘No,’ said the postilion, ’but I heard plenty of Mumbo Jumbo when I was a boy.’
’I wish you would tell us something about yourself. I believe that your own real history would prove quite as entertaining, if not more, than that which you imagined about us.’
‘I am rather tired,’ said the postilion, ’and my leg is rather troublesome. I should be glad to try to sleep upon one of your blankets. However, as you wish to hear something about me, I shall be happy to oblige you; but your fire is rather low, and this place is chilly.’
Thereupon I arose, and put fresh charcoal on the pan; then taking it outside the tent, with a kind of fan which I had fashioned, I fanned the coals into a red glow, and continued doing so until the greater part of the noxious gas, which the coals are in the habit of exhaling, was exhausted. I then brought it into the tent and reseated myself, scattering over the coals a small portion of sugar. ‘No bad smell,’ said the postilion; ’but upon the whole I think I like the smell of tobacco better; and with your permission I will once more light my pipe.’
Thereupon he relighted his pipe; and, after taking two or three whiffs, began in the following manner.
An exordium—Fine ships—High Barbary captains—Free-born Englishmen—Monstrous figure—Swashbuckler—The grand coaches—The footmen—A travelling expedition—Black Jack—Nelson’s cannon—Pharaoh’s butler—A diligence—Two passengers—Sharking priest—Virgilio—Lessons in Italian—Two opinions—Holy Mary—Priestly confederates—Methodist chapel—Veturini—Some of our party—Like a sepulchre—All for themselves.
’I am a poor postilion, as you see; yet, as I have seen a thing or two and heard a thing or two of what is going on in the world, perhaps what I have to tell you connected with myself may not prove altogether uninteresting. Now, my friends, this manner of opening a story is what the man who taught rhetoric would call a hex—hex—’
‘Exordium,’ said I.
‘Just so,’ said the postilion; ’I treated you to a per—per—peroration some time ago, so that I have contrived to put the cart before the horse, as the Irish orators frequently do in the honourable House, in whose speeches, especially those who have taken lessons in rhetoric, the per—per—what’s the word?—frequently goes before the exordium.
’I was born in the neighbouring county; my father was land-steward to a squire of about a thousand a year. My father had two sons, of whom I am the youngest by some years. My elder brother was of a spirited roving disposition, and for fear that he should turn out what is generally termed ungain, my father determined to send him to sea: so once upon a time, when my brother was about fifteen, he took him to the great seaport of the county, where he apprenticed him to a captain of one of the ships