« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
every thing, I had the cunning to conceal my treasure, and taking a penny from my pocket, I begged the woman of the houfe, for that and charity's fake, to give me a little bread and milk, and fome hole to lie in.
Having finished my supper, I was fhewn to a kind of hovel under the stairs, where, throwing myfelf on fome ftraw with a piece of a blanket over me, I fell faft as a rock. Awakening, howéver, about midnight, or fomewhat after, and feeing all dark about me, and no creature near hand; I began to tremble greatly; and then I wished to fay my prayers, but I did not dare to pray; and fo I lay weating and trembling, and trembing and fweating, till the dawning of the day brought fome relief to my spirits.
Having breakfafted at the coft of a segond penny, I fet out, though not with my former fpeed; for, reflecting that I had not my livery on, but á fmall frockcoat, I was under the lefs fear of being known. However, I pushed on as well as I was able, wanting ftill to get as far from danger as poffible. And indeed I hoped, by going on ftill further and further, to get away from my own fears and from my own confcience..
O Gentlemen! what mifery did I not endure at that feafon? The truft I had in my treasure began now to abate, the dread of losing it alfo brought new troubles upon me; peace was banished from within me; and without there was no place whereto I might fly for rest.
On the fifth morning of my travels, having expended what halfpence and fmall filver I had; I took out half a crown, and offered it to the man of the house, defiring him to return what was over the reckoning. As he took it, he gave me a look that I thought went through me, and continuing to ftare me in the face, he fhamed me fo, that I was conftrained to turn aside. He gave me the change, however, and I fet forward on my journey, all trembling, and apprehending I knew not what.
I had not gone above a mile, when, meeting a dirty road, I turned over a ftile that led to a path through the fields. Here I walked on a little way, when, turning, I faw my landlord making long ftrides after me; whereupon my heart. beat, and my knees grew fo weak under me that I ftood as ftill as a stone.
He came quickly up with me, and, feizing me. by the neck, he caft me on my back. Ha! you young rogue, fays he,
he, let us fee what money you have got. Then, diving into my pockets, he pulled out the whole ftock in which I trufted for happiness. O, you little dog of a villain, from whom have you ftolen all this treasure? But I must go and return it to the right owner. O, good Sir, good Sir, I roared out, will you not leave me a little? every fo little, dear Sir, to keep me from ftarving? But he was deaf to my cries and prayers, and away he went.
Hope, the laft comfort of the miferable, now forfook me. I curfed, at my heart, the day on which I was born; and I lay a long time, as one who had no ufe for limbs, or any further way to travel upon earth. At length I broke out into fhouts and a great gufh of tears, and having got fome eafe by venting my forrows, I rofe, by a kind of inftinct, and went on I knew not whither.
Growing hungry after noon, I would willingly have begged the charity of paffengers; but this I did not dare to do, for fear they should ask me whence I came, and who I was, and whereto I was going; questions to which I could give no very honeft anfwer. So I bore my hunger as well as I could, till coming at night to a hovel where a farmer kept his pigs,
I made way for myself among them, and flept in the ftraw till morning.
The day following, as I paffed flowly and half famished through a fmall village, my eye catched at a penny-loaf that lay on a little shop window which jutted into the ftreet. I looked here and there, and peered into the fhop, and was just going to feize the ready and tempting spoil; when fomething whifpered at my heart, Do not touch it for your life, ftarve, farve, rather than offer to fteal any more; and fo I tore myself away, and running as faft as I could, for fear of turning back, I at laft got clear off from the reach of this temptation.
When I had travelled fomething far ther, I got into an inclofed country, where there were hedges on every fide, with plenty of haws and bramble berries on every bush. And here I filled my belly with berries to ferve me for dinner; and I ftuffed my pockets with haws again't I fhould want. Upon this I grew wonderful glad that I had not taken the loaf; and peace again began to come upon my mind; and, about night fall, having reached a copfe on one fide of the road, I crept, like a hare, under the shelter of the bushes; I then fupped upon my haws, after which I kneeled down, and half ventured
tured at a prayer to God; and gather ing up in my form, I flept happily till morning.
Having lived thus for fome days, I came into an open country, where there was fcarce any path, nor any haw or berry within many a mile. I now began to grow fick and faint with hunger; and again my ficknefs went off, and I became fo greedy and ravenous, that I was ready to eat my own flesh from the bones. Soon after, I spied, at a distance, a confused heap of fomething at the root of a great tree that grew in the open fields. I made up to it in expectation of I knew not what; and found an old beggar-man faft afleep in his patched cloak, with a bundle of fomewhat lying befide him,
Inftantly I opened his little baggage, when to my inexpreffible tranfport, a large luncheon of brown bread, with fome halfpence, ftruck my eyes. I did not hesitate a moment about feizing the bread; for I could no more withstand the cravings of my appetite at the time, than I could withstand a torrent rushing down a hill. Having appeafed my flomach, I began to demur about what I fhould do with the remainder of the bread, and felt a motion or two incli