The Broad Highway eBook

Jeffery Farnol
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 424 pages of information about The Broad Highway.

ANTE SCRIPTUM

As I sat of an early summer morning in the shade of a tree, eating fried bacon with a tinker, the thought came to me that I might some day write a book of my own:  a book that should treat of the roads and by-roads, of trees, and wind in lonely places, of rapid brooks and lazy streams, of the glory of dawn, the glow of evening, and the purple solitude of night; a book of wayside inns and sequestered taverns; a book of country things and ways and people.  And the thought pleased me much.

“But,” objected the Tinker, for I had spoken my thought aloud, “trees and suchlike don’t sound very interestin’—­leastways—­not in a book, for after all a tree’s only a tree and an inn, an inn; no, you must tell of other things as well.”

“Yes,” said I, a little damped, “to be sure there is a highwayman—­”

“Come, that’s better!” said the Tinker encouragingly.

“Then,” I went on, ticking off each item on my fingers, “come Tom Cragg, the pugilist—­”

“Better and better!” nodded the Tinker.

“—­a one-legged soldier of the Peninsula, an adventure at a lonely tavern, a flight through woods at midnight pursued by desperate villains, and—­a most extraordinary tinker.  So far so good, I think, and it all sounds adventurous enough.”

“What!” cried the Tinker.  “Would you put me in your book then?”

“Assuredly.”

“Why then,” said the Tinker, “it’s true I mends kettles, sharpens scissors and such, but I likewise peddles books an’ nov-els, an’ what’s more I reads ’em—­so, if you must put me in your book, you might call me a literary cove.”

“A literary cove?” said I.

“Ah!” said the Tinker, “it sounds better—­a sight better—­besides, I never read a nov-el with a tinker in it as I remember; they’re generally dooks, or earls, or barronites—­nobody wants to read about a tinker.”

“That all depends,” said I; “a tinker may be much more interesting than an earl or even a duke.”

The Tinker examined the piece of bacon upon his knifepoint with a cold and disparaging eye.

“I’ve read a good many nov-els in my time,” said he, shaking his head, “and I knows what I’m talking of;” here he bolted the morsel of bacon with much apparent relish.  “I’ve made love to duchesses, run off with heiresses, and fought dooels—­ah! by the hundred—­all between the covers of some book or other and enjoyed it uncommonly well—­especially the dooels.  If you can get a little blood into your book, so much the better; there’s nothing like a little blood in a book—­not a great deal, but just enough to give it a ‘tang,’ so to speak; if you could kill your highwayman to start with it would be a very good beginning to your story.”

“I could do that, certainly,” said I, “but it would not be according to fact.”

“So much the better,” said the Tinker; “who wants facts in a nov-el?”

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
The Broad Highway from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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