網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Few younger

ginated in a rencontre. Struck with his appearance, Dick presented a pistol, and bade King deliver. The latter burst into a laugh, and an explanation immediately ensued. Thenceforward they became sworn brothers—the Pylades and Orestes of the road ; and though seldom seen together in public, had many a merry moonlight ride in company.

Tom still maintained three mistresses, his valet, his groom (tiger we should have called him), “and many a change of clothes besides," says his biographer, “with which he appeared more like a lord than a highwayman.” And what more, we should like to know, would a lord wish to have ? sons, we believe, can boast so much ; and it is chiefly on their account, with some remote view to the benefit of the unemployed youth of all professions, that we have enlarged so much upon Tom King's history. The road, we must beg to repeat, is still open; the chances are greater than they ever were ; we fully believe it is their only road to preferment, and we are sadly in want of highwaymen!

Fancy Tom lounging at D'Osyndar's, carelessly tapping his boots on the steps — there he stands ! Is he not a devilish good-looking gentlemanlike sort of fellow ? You could never have taken him for a highwayman but for our information. A waiter appears

supper is ordered at twelve a broiled chicken and a bottle of burgundy — his grooi brings his nags to the door

he mounts. It is his custom to ride out on an evening – he is less liable to interruption.* At Marylebone Felds (now the Regent's Park) his groom leaves him. He has a mistress in the neighbourhood. He is absent for a couple of hours, and returns gay or dispirited, as his luck may have turned out. At twelve he is at supper, and has the night before him. How very easy all this seems.

Can it be possible, we have no Tom Kings ? To return to Tom as he was in the arbour. Judging from

he appeared to be almost insensible to the presence of his companions, and to be scarcely a partaker in their revelry. His back was towards his immediate neighbour ; his glass sparkled untouched at his elbow ; and one hand, beautifully white and small, a mark of his birth and breeding (crede Byron), rested upon the edge of the table, while his thin delicate digits, palpably demonstrative of his faculty of adaptation (crede James Hardy Vaux) were employed with a silver toothpick. In other respects, he seemed to be lost in reverie, and was, in all probability, meditating new exploits.

* We have heard of a certain gentleman tobyman, we forget his name, taking the horses from his curricle for a similar purpose, but we own we think King's th simpler plan, and quite practicable still. A cabriolet would be quite out of the question, but particularly easy to stop.

his manner,

Next to King, sat our old friend, Jerry Juniper ; not, however, the Jerry of the gipsies, but a much more showylooking personage. — Jerry was no longer a gentleman of " three outsthe difficulty would now have been to say what he was “ without." Snakelike he had cast his slough, and rejoiced in new and brilliant investiture. His were “speaking garments, speaking pockets too." His linen was of the finest, his hose of the smartest. Gay rings glittered on his fingers; a crystal snuff-box underwent graceful manipula. tion

n; a handsome gold repeater was sometimes drawn from its location with a monstrous bunch of onions (anglice seals), depending from its massive chain. Lace adorned his wrists, and shoes (of which they had been long unconscious), with buckles nearly as large as themselves, confined his feet. A rich powdered peruke, and silver-hilted sword, completed the gear of the transmogrified Jerry, or, as he now chose to be designated, Count Albert Conyers. The fact was, that Jerry, after the fracas, apprehensive that the country would be too hot for him, had, in company with Zoroaster, quitted the ranks of the canting crew, and made the best of his way to town. A lucky spice on the road set them up; and having some acquaintance with Tom King, the party, on their arrival, sought him out at his customary haunt, D’Osyndar's, and enlisted under his banners.

Tom received them with open arms, gave them unlimited use of his wardrobe, and only required a little trifling assist. ance in return. He had a grand scheme in petto, in the execution of which they could mainly assist him. Jerry was a Greek by nature, and could land a flat as well as the best of them. Zoroaster was just the man to lose a fight; or, in the language of the Fancy, to play a cross. No two legs could serve Tom's purposes better. He welcomed them with fraternal affection.

We will now proceed to reconnoitre Jerry's opposite neighbour, who was, however, no other than that Upright Man,

The Magus Zoroaster, that great name. SHELLEY.

Changed as was Juniper, the Magus was yet more whimsically metamorphosed. Some traces of Jerry still remained, but not a vestige was left of the original Dimber Damber. His tawny mother had not known her son. This alteration, how, ever, was not owing to change of dress; it was the result of the punishment he had received at the “ set toat the Priory. Not a feature was in its place ; his swollen lip trespassed upon the precincts of his nose ; his nose trod hard upon his cheek; while his cheek again, not to be behind the rest, rose up like an apple-dumpling under his single eye - single we say — for, alas!

there was no speculation in the other. His dexter daylight was utterly darkened, and, indeed, the orb that remained, was as sanguine a luminary as ever struggled through a London fog at noonday. To borrow a couplet or so, from the laureate of the Fancy :

One of his peepers was put
: On the bankruptcy list, with his shop-windows shut,

While the other made nearly as tag-rag a show,
All rimmed round with black like the Courier in woe.

One black patch decorated his rainbow-coloured cheek; another adorned his chin ; a grinder having been dislodged, his pipe took possession of the aperture. His toggery was that of a member of the prize ring; what we now call a “belcher” bound his throat ; a spotted fogle bandaged his jobbernowl, and shaded his right peeper, while a white beaver crowned the occiput of the Magus. And though, at first sight, there would appear to be some incongruity in the association of such a battered character as the Upright Man, with his smart companions, the reader's wonder will rapidly diminish, when he reflects that any distinguished P. C. man can ever find a ready passport to the most exclusive society. Viewed in this light, Zoroaster's familiarity with his swell acquaintance occasioned no suprise to old Simon Carr, the bottled-nosed landlord of the Falstaff, who was a man of discernment in his way, and knew a thing or two. Despite such striking evidences to the contrary, the Magus was perfectly at his ease, and sacrificing as usual to the god of flame. His mithra, or pipe, the symbol of his faith, was zealously placed between his lips, and never did his Chaldean, Bactrian, Persian, Pamphilian, Proconnesian, or Babylonian namesake, which ever of the six was the true Zoroaster (vide Bayle), respire more fervently at the altar of fire, than our Magus at the end of his enkindled tube. In his creed we believe Zoroaster was a dualist, and believed in the co-existence, and mystical relation of the principles of good and ill; his pipe being his Yezdan, or benign influence ; his empty pouch his Ahreman, or the devil. We shall not pause to examine his tenets; we meddle with no man's religious opinions, and shall leave the Magus to the enjoyment of his own sentiments, be they what they may.

One guest alone remains, and him we shall briefly dismiss. The reader, we imagine, will scarcely need to be told who was the owner of those keen, grey eyes; those exuberant red whiskers; that airy azure frock. It was

Our brave co-partner of the roads,

Skilful surveyor of highways and hedges; in a word

Dick Turpin ! Dick had been called upon to act as president of the board, and an excellent president he made, sedulously devoting himself to the due administration of the punch bowl.

Not a rummer was allowed to stand empty for an instant. Toast, sentiment, and anacreontic song, succeeded each other at speedy intervals; but there was no speechifying — no politics. He left church and state to take care of themselves. Whatever his politics might be, Dick never allowed them to interfere with his pleasures. His maxim was to make the most of the passing moment; the dum vivimus vivamus was never out of his mind ; a precautionary measure which we recommend to the adoption of all gentlemen of the like, or any other precarious profession.

Notwithstanding all Dick's efforts to promote conviviality, seconded by the excellence of the beverage itself, conversation, somehow or other, began to flag ; from being general it became particular. Tom King, who was no punch-bibber, especially at that time of day, fell into a deep reverie ; your gamesters often do so; while the Magus, who had smoked himself drowsy, was composing himself to a doze. Turpin seized this opportunity of addressing a few words on matters of business to Jerry Juniper, or, as he now chose to be called, Count Conyers.

My dear count,” said Dick, in a low and confidential tone, “ you are aware that my errand to town is accomplished. I have smashed Lawyer Coates's screen; pocketed the dimmock,

[ocr errors]

Oars.

(here 'tis," continued he, parenthetically slapping his pockets,) “and done t'other trick in prime twig for Tom King. With a cool thousand in hand, I might if I chose rest awhile on my

But a quiet life don't suit me. I must be moving. So I shall start to Yorkshire to-night.”

“ Indeed,” said the soi-disant count, in a languid tone so soon?”

“I have nothing to detain me,” replied Dick. “And, to tell you

the truth, I want to see how matters stand with Sir Luke Rookwood. I should be sorry if he went to the wall for want of any assistance I can render him."

" True,” returned the count, one would regret such an occurrence certainly. But I fear your assistance may arrive a little too late. He is pretty well done up, I should imagine, by this time.” rr That remains be seen,” said Turpin.

“ His case is a bad one to be sure, but I trust not utterly hopeless. With all his impetuosity and pride, I like the fellow, and will help him, if I can. It will be a difficult game to set him on his legs, but I think it may be done. That underground marriage was sheer madness, and turned out as ill as such a scheme might have been expected to do. Poor Sybil ! if I could pipe an eye for any thing, it should be for her. I can't get her out of my head.— Give me a pinch of snuff. Such thoughts unman one. As to the priest, that's a totally different affair. If he strangled his daughter, old Alan did right to take the law into his own hands, and throttle him in return.— I'd have done the same thing myself; and, being a proscribed Jesuit, returned, as I understand, without the King's licence for so doing, why Father Checkley's murder (if it must be so called, I can't abide hard terms) wo'n't lie very heavy at Alan's door. That, however, has nothing to do with Sir Luke. He was neither accessory, nor principal. Still he will be in danger, at least from Lady Rookwood. The whole county of York, I make no doubt, is up in arms by this time.”

“ Then why go thither ? ” asked the count, somewhat ironically; “for my part, I've a strange fancy for keeping out of harm's way as long as possible.”

Every man to his taste," returned Turpin -" I love to confront danger. Run away! pshaw ! always meet your foe

half way.”

« 上一頁繼續 »