“Come—I’ll take a belt—give me a belt!” said I, more hastily than before.
“A belt?” said the Pedler.
“A belt, yes.”
“Wi’ a fine steel buckle made in—”
“Yes—yes!” said I.
“Two shillin’ an’ sixpence!” said the Pedler.
“When I saw you last time, you offered much the same belt for a shilling,” I demurred.
“Ah!” nodded the Pedler, “but belts is riz—’arf-a-crown’s the price—take it or leave it.”
“It’s getting late,” said I, slipping the money into his hand, “and I’ll wish you good night!”
“You’re in a ’urry about it, ain’t you?”
“Ah—to be sure!” nodded the fellow, looking from me to Charmian with an evil leer, “early to bed an’—”
“Come—get off!” said I angrily.
“Wot—are ye goin’ to turn me away—at this time o’ night!”
“It is not so far to Sissinghurst!” said I:
“But, Lord! I wouldn’t disturb ye—an’ there’s two rooms, ain’t there?”
“There are plenty of comfortable beds to be had at ‘The Bull.’”
“So you won’t gi’e me a night’s shelter, eh?”
“No,” I answered, greatly annoyed by the fellow’s persistence.
“An’ you don’t want to buy nothin’ for the young woman—a necklace—or, say—a pair o’ garters?” But here, meeting my eye, he shouldered his brooms hastily and moved off. And, after he had gone some dozen yards or so, he paused and turned.
“Very well then!” he shouted, “I ’opes as you gets your ’ead knocked off—ah!—an’ gets it knocked off soon!” Having said which, he spat up into the air towards me, and trudged off.
CONCERNING BLACK GEORGE’S LETTER
It was with a feeling of great relief that I watched the fellow out of sight; nevertheless his very presence seemed to have left a blight upon all things, for he, viewing matters with the material eye of Common-sense, had, thereby, contaminated them—even the air seemed less pure and sweet than it had been heretofore, so that, glancing over my shoulder, I was glad to see that Charmian had re-entered the cottage.
“Here,” said I to myself, “here is Common-sense in the shape of a half-witted peddling fellow, blundering into Arcadia, in the shape of a haunted cottage, a woman, and a man. Straightway our Pedler, being Common-sense, misjudges us—as, indeed, would every other common-sense individual the world over; for Arcadia, being of itself abstract and immaterial, is opposed to, and incapable of being understood by concrete common-sense, and always will be —and there’s the rub! And yet,” said I, “thanks to the Wanderer of the Roads, who built this cottage and hanged himself here, and thanks to a Highland Scot who performed wonderfully on the bagpipes, there is little chance of any common-sense vagrant venturing near Arcadia again—at least until the woman is gone, or the man is gone, or—”