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The Bacon was not set for them I trow,
CHAUCER. Wife of Bath's Prologue.
PART THE FOURTH.
THE REGISTER OF THE COURT BARON OF LITTLE DUNMOW. Let us now return to the jovial party whom we left carousing in the principal room of the Old Inn.
The last bowl of punch was capital, and highly approved by the company. By all, at least, except Sir Gilbert de Montfichet, who ever since the departure of Dr. Plot, appeared pre-occupied. Taking no part in the conversation, he at last rose and walked moodily towards the fireplace, where he sat down by himself. The Squire looked after him, and shook his head; but Captain Juddock said there was nothing to be uneasy about; Sir G. was often down in the mouth, but soon came round, if left alone; truth being, he was desperately in love.
Nelly, still standing behind the Squire's chair, could not help inquiring with whom ? And when informed by the giant, who saw no reason for concealment, that it was with Rose Woodbine, she lifted up her hands in wonderment, exclaiming, “Dear! dear! only to think of it! And she a married woman!”
“Rose cannot help Sir Gilbert's being in love with her,” remarked Mr. Roper, drily, “any more than you, Mrs. Nettlebed, can prevent Captain Juddock, or Captain Anybody-else from admiring you. However, I myself can bear witness that his attentions are extremely dis
NOTICE.—The Author reserves the copyright of this Tale in France, and the right of publishing a French Translation of the work; as provided by the Treaty.
May-VOL. XCVIII. NO. CCCLXXXIX.
agreeable to her, and I sincerely trust they will cease. Indeed, after the scene that occurred this evening at the cottage—and the lesson the young baronet received from Dr. Plot—I do not think them likely to be repeated.”
* Ah! what is it you allude to, Roper ?” the Squire inquired.
“Excuse my entering into particulars just now, sir,” the steward replied. “ It may be sufficient to state, that Dr. Plot interfered to protect Rose from annoyance, and I cannot but think that Sir Gilbert's present abstraction is attributable to some other circumstances connected with this mysterious gentleman, with which he has been--or supposes himself
-mixed up, rather than to the disappointment occasioned by the unsuccessful issue of his frolic."
“Very likely,” the Squire rejoined, with a significant look at Roper.
“Fire and fury!" Juddock roared; “I can't pretend to say what may be Sir G.'s intentions in respect to this Dr. Plot, or Dr. Johnson, or whatever the fellow's vulgar name may be ; but if my honourable friend does not call him to account for his impertinence, I will. That's flat.”
“I advise you not to meddle with him, captain,” the Squire observed. “ He may be dangerous.”
“Dangerous ! why so am I, sir,--the more dangerous of the two I rather opine. Dangerous—ha!" And Juddock swallowed a glass of punch to allay his indignation.
The Squire laughed; the Vicar chuckled; indeed, everybody was amused, and no one more so than Jonas. The giant swore several tremendous oaths, but finding they only served to increase the general merriment, he held out his glass to be replenished, and grew calmer.
Just then, the conversation took a new turn, owing to a device of the landlord, who never happy unless riding his hobby, produced from a cupboard where it was deposited a great wooden model of a Flitch of Bacon, tolerably well executed, and naturally enough painted. In order to give due effect to the exhibition, Jonas mounted on a chair, and his fat little figure, seen under these circumstances, was certainly provocative of merriment. He had enough to do to preserve his equilibrium, the wooden flitch being very heavy, and it was only because he was propped up behind by Nelly that he could be kept steady at all.
• What does your honour think of this ?” he cried in a vain-glorious tone to the Squire. “I mean to hang it up in place of the real Flitch when that shall be entirely consumed."
“A very good idea,” the Squire rejoined.
“ Better have waited till you were secure of the other, Jonas," the Vicar sententiously observed. “Bear in mind the proverb, which says, “There's many a slip, 'twixt cup and lip.' And there is a Latin maxim yet more applicable to your case: Una siccidia in carnario valet duas in harâ; which means that one flitch in the larder is worth two in the sty. If you should chance to be disappointed after all, this model will only be a memento of your ill-luck.”
“Nay, Doctor, it will be something for the poor fellow to fall back upon," said the Squire.
And it seemed as if the good-natured gentleman's words were to be literally and at once fulfilled, for precisely at this moment, Nelly withdrawing her support, Jonas lost his balance, and tumbled off the chair