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

“‘E were allus a sight too fond o’ pitchin’ into folk, Jarge were!” said Job; “it be a mercy as my back weren’t broke more nor once.”

“Ah!” nodded the Ancient, “you must be amazin’ strong in the back, Job!  The way I’ve seed ‘ee come a-rollin’ an’ awallerin’ out o’ that theer smithy’s wonnerful, wonnerful.  Lord!  Job—­’ow you did roll!”

“Well, ’e won’t never do it no more,” said Job, glowering; “what wi’ poachin’ ‘is game, an’ knockin’ ’is keepers about, ’t aren’t likely as Squire Beverley’ll let ’im off very easy—­”

“Who?” said I, looking up, and speaking for the first time.

“Squire Beverley o’ Burn’am ’All.”

“Sir Peregrine Beverley?”

“Ay, for sure.”

“And how far is it to Burnham Hall?”

“’Ow fur?” repeated Job, staring; “why, it lays ‘t other side o’ Horsmonden—­”

“It be a matter o’ eight mile, Peter,” said the Ancient.  “Nine, Peter!” cried old Amos—­“nine mile, it be!”

“Though I won’t swear, Peter,” continued the Ancient, “I won’t swear as it aren’t—­seven—­call it six an’ three quarters!” said he, with his eagle eye on Old Amos.

“Then I had better start now,” said I, and rose.

“Why, Peter—­wheer be goin’?”

“To Burnham Hall, Ancient.”

“What—­you?” exclaimed Job; “d’ye think Squire’ll see you?”

“I think so; yes.”

“Well, ‘e won’t—­they’ll never let the likes o’ you or me beyond the gates.”

“That remains to be seen,” said I.

“So you ‘m goin’, are ye?”

“I certainly am.”

“All right!” nodded Job, “if they sets the dogs on ye, or chucks you into the road—­don’t go blamin’ it on to me, that’s all!”

“What—­be ye really a-goin’, Peter?”

“I really am, Ancient.”

“Then—­by the Lord!—­I’ll go wi’ ye.”

“It’s a long walk!”

“Nay—­Simon shall drive us in the cart.”

“That I will!” nodded the Innkeeper.

“Ay, lad,” cried the Ancient, laying his hand upon my arm, “we’ll up an’ see Squire, you an’ me—­shall us, Peter?  There be some fules,” said he, looking round upon the staring company, “some fules as talks o’ Bot’ny Bay, an’ irons, an’ whippin’-posts—­all I says is—­let ’em, Peter, let ’em!  You an’ me’ll up an’ see Squire, Peter, sha’n’t us?  Black Jarge aren’t a convic’ yet, let fules say what they will; we’ll show ’em, Peter, we’ll show ’em!” So saying, the old man led me into the kitchen of “The Bull,” while Simon went to have the horses put to.

CHAPTER XXXI

IN WHICH THE ANCIENT IS SURPRISED

A cheery place, at all times, is the kitchen of an English inn, a comfortable place to eat in, to talk in, or to doze in; a place with which your parlors and withdrawing-rooms, your salons (a la the three Louis) with their irritating rococo, their gilt and satin, and spindle-legged discomforts, are not (to my mind) worthy to compare.

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