“What about my blunderbuss?” expostulated the Bagman, faintly, as I seated myself beside him, “you’ll give me my blunderbuss—cost me five pound it did.”
“More fool you!” said the highwayman, and, picking up the unwieldy weapon, he hove it into the ditch.
“As to our argyment—regardin’ gibbetin’, sir,” said he, nodding to me, “I’m rayther inclined to think you was in the right on it arter all.” Then, turning towards the Bagman: “Drive on, fat-face!” said he, “and sharp’s the word.” Whereupon the Bagman whipped up his horse and, as the tired animal struggled forward over the crest of the hill, I saw the highwayman still watching us.
Very soon we came in view of “The White Hart,” an inn I remembered to have passed on the right hand side of the road, and scarce were we driven up to the door than down jumped the Bagman, leaving me to follow at my leisure, and running into the tap, forthwith began recounting his loss to all and sundry, so that I soon found we were become the center of a gaping crowd, much to my disgust. Indeed, I would have slipped away, but each time I attempted to do so the Bagman would appeal to me to corroborate some statement.
“Galloping Dick himself, or I’m a Dutchman!” he cried for the twentieth time; “up he comes, bold as brass, bless you, and a horse-pistol in each hand. ‘Hold hard!’ says I, and ups with my blunderbuss; you remember as I ups with my blunderbuss?” he inquired, turning to me.
“Quite well,” said I.
“Ah, but you should have seen the fellow’s face, when he saw my blunderbuss ready at my shoulder; green it was—green as grass, for if ever there was death in a man’s face, and sudden death at that, there was sudden death in mine, when, all at once, my mare, my accursed mare, jibbed—”
“Yes, yes?” cried half-a-dozen breathless voices, “what then?”
“Why, then, gentlemen,” said the Bagman, shaking his head and frowning round upon the ring of intent faces, “why then, gentlemen, being a resolute, determined fellow, I did what any other man of spirit would have done—I—”
“Dropped your blunderbuss,” said I.
“Ay, to be sure I did—”
“And he pitched it into the ditch,” said I.
“Ay,” nodded the Bagman dubiously, while the others crowded nearer.
“And then he took your money, and called you ‘Fool’ and ‘Fatface,’ and so it ended,” said I. With which I pushed my way from the circle, and, finding a quiet corner beside the chimney, sat down, and with my last twopence paid for a tankard of ale.
What befell me at “The white hart”
When a man has experienced some great and totally unexpected reverse of fortune, has been swept from one plane of existence to another, that he should fail at once to recognize the full magnitude of that change is but natural, for his faculties must of necessity be numbed more or less by its very suddenness.