The Romany Rye, by George Borrow

Chapter 20

Farewell to the Romans — The Landlord and His Niece — Set Out As a Traveller

On reaching the plain above, I found my Romany friends breakfasting, and on being asked by Mr. Petulengro to join them, I accepted the invitation. No sooner was breakfast over than I informed Ursula and her husband that they would find the property, which I had promised them, below in the dingle, commending the little pony Ambrol to their best care. I took leave of the whole company, which was itself about to break up camp and to depart in the direction of London, and made the best of my way to the public-house. I had a small bundle in my hand, and was dressed in the same manner as when I departed from London, having left my waggoner’s slop with the other effects in the dingle. On arriving at the public-house, I informed the landlord that I was come for my horse, inquiring, at the same time, whether he could not accommodate me with a bridle and saddle. He told me that the bridle and saddle, with which I had ridden the horse on the preceding day, were at my service for a trifle; that he had received them some time since in payment for a debt, and that he had himself no use for them. The leathers of the bridle were rather shabby, and the bit rusty, and the saddle was old-fashioned; but I was happy to purchase them for seven shillings, more especially as the landlord added a small valise, which he said could be strapped to the saddle, and which I should find very convenient for carrying my things in. I then proceeded to the stable, told the horse we were bound on an expedition, and giving him a feed of corn, left him to discuss it, and returned to the bar-room to have a little farewell chat with the landlord and at the same time to drink with him a farewell glass of ale. Whilst we were talking and drinking, the niece came and joined us: she was a decent, sensible, young woman, who appeared to take a great interest in her uncle, whom she regarded with a singular mixture of pride and disapprobation — pride for the renown which he had acquired by his feats of old, and disapprobation for his late imprudences. She said that she hoped that his misfortunes would be a warning to him to turn more to his God than he had hitherto done, and to give up cock-fighting and other low-life practices. To which the landlord replied, that with respect to cock-fighting he intended to give it up entirely, being determined no longer to risk his capital upon birds, and with respect to his religious duties he should attend the church of which he was churchwarden at least once a quarter, adding, however, that he did not intend to become either canter or driveller, neither of which characters would befit a publican surrounded by such customers as he was, and that to the last day of his life he hoped to be able to make use of his fists. After a stay of about two hours I settled accounts; and having bridled and saddled my horse, and strapped on the valise, I mounted, shook hands with the landlord and his niece, and departed, notwithstanding that they both entreated me to tarry until the evening, it being then the heat of the day.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 14:18