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There did appear no subtle shows,
More craft was in a buttoned cap,
There was no open forgery,
Some good bold face bears out the wrong,
The poor man's back is crack'd ere long, Yet there he lets him lie.
And no degree, among them all,
Back to the woods I got again,
There city, court, nor country too,
There live I quietly alone,
A tinker is a moveable, for he hath no abiding in one place; by his motion he gathers heat, thence his choleric nature. He seems to be very devout, for his life is a continual pilgrimage; and sometimes in humility goes barefoot, therein making necessity a virtue. His house is as ancient as Tubal Cain's, and so is a renegade by antiquity; yet he proves himself a gallant, for he carries all his wealth upon his back; or a philosopher, for he bears all his substance about him. From his art was music first invented, and therefore is he always furnished with a song, to which his hammer keeping tune, proves that he was the first founder of the kettle-drum. Note, that where the best ale is, there stands his music most upon crotchets. The companion of his travels is some foul sun-burnt quean; that, since the terrible statute, recanted gipsyism, and is turned pedlaress. So marches he all over England with his bag and baggage; his conversation is irreprovable, for he is ever mending. He observes truly the statutes, and therefore had rather steal than beg, in which he is irremoveably constant, in spite of whips or imprisonment; and so strong an enemy to idleness, that in mending one hole, he had rather make three than want work; and when he hath done, he throws the wallet of his faults behind him. He embraceth naturally ancient customs, conversing in open fields and lowly cottages; if he visit cities or towns, 'tis but to deal upon the imperfections of our weaker vessels. His tongue is very voluble, which, with canting, proves him a linguist. He is entertained in every place, but enters no farther than the door, to avoid suspicion. Some would take him to be a coward, but,
believe it, he is a lad of mettle; his valour is commonly three or four yards long, fastened to a pike in the end for flying off. He is very provident, for he will fight with but one at once, and then also he had rather submit than be counted obstinate. To conclude, if he 'scape Tyburn and Banbury, he dies a beggar.-Overbury.
A CHRISTMAS DINNER.
"And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content.
"As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.'
Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this, and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty.
His active little crutch was heard upon the floor, and back came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by his brother and sister to his stool beside the fire; and while Bob, turning up his cuffs as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made more shabby-compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer; Master Peter and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose, with which they soon returned in high procession.
Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course and in truth it was something very like it in that house. Mrs. Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Miss Belinda sweetened up the applesauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah!
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by the apple sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't ate it all at last! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onions to the eyebrows! But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone-too nervous to bear witnesses to take the pudding up, and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose: a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.
Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washingday! That was the cloth. A smell like an eatinghouse, and a pastry cook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that! That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered: flushed, but smiling proudly: with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.
At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted and considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chesnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass-two tumblers, and a custard cup without a handle.