With a milintary air, too! said Mr Willet, surveying him from top to toe; with a swaggering, fire-eating, biling-water drinking sort of way with him! And what do you mean by pulling up the crocuses and snowdrops, eh sir?
Its only a little nosegay, said Joe, reddening. Theres no harm in that, I hope?
Youre a boy of business, you are, sir! said Mr Willet, disdainfully, to go supposing that wintners care for nosegays.
I dont suppose anything of the kind, returned Joe. Let them keep their red noses for bottles and tankards. These are going to Mr Vardens house.
And do you suppose he minds such things as crocuses? demanded John.
I dont know, and to say the truth, I dont care, said Joe. Come, father, give me the money, and in the name of patience let me go.
There it is, sir, replied John; and take care of it; and mind you dont make too much haste back, but give the mare a long rest. Do you mind?
Ay, I mind, returned Joe. Shell need it, Heaven knows.
And dont you score up too much at the Black Lion, said John. Mind that too.
Then why dont you let me have some money of my own? retorted Joe, sorrowfully; why dont you, father? What do you send me into London for, giving me only the right to call for my dinner at the Black Lion, which youre to pay for next time you go, as if I was not to be trusted with a few shillings? Why do you use me like this? Its not right of you. You cant expect me to be quiet under it.
Let him have money! cried John, in a drowsy reverie. What does he call moneyguineas? Hasnt he got money? Over and above the tolls, hasnt he one and sixpence?
One and sixpence! repeated his son contemptuously.
Yes, sir, returned John, one and sixpence. When I was your age, I had never seen so much money, in a heap. A shilling of it is in case of accidentsthe mare casting a shoe, or the like of that. The other sixpence is to spend in the diversions of London; and the diversion I recommend is going to the top of the Monument, and sitting there. Theres no temptation there, sirno drinkno young womenno bad characters of any sortnothing but imagination. Thats the way I enjoyed myself when I was your age, sir.
To this, Joe made no answer, but beckoning Hugh, leaped into the saddle and rode away; and a very stalwart, manly horseman he looked, deserving a better charger than it was his fortune to bestride. John stood staring after him, or rather after the grey mare (for he had no eyes for her rider), until man and beast had been out of sight some twenty minutes, when he began to think they were gone, and slowly re-entering the house, fell into a gentle doze.
The unfortunate grey mare, who was the agony of Joes life, floundered along at her own will and pleasure until the Maypole was no longer visible, and then, contracting her legs into what in a puppet would have been looked upon as a clumsy and awkward imitation of a canter, mended her pace all at once, and did it of her own accord. The acquaintance with her riders usual mode of proceeding, which suggested this improvement in hers, impelled her likewise to turn up a bye-way, leadingnot to London, but through lanes running parallel with the road they had come, and passing within a few hundred yards of the Maypole, which led finally to an enclosure surrounding a large, old, red-brick mansionthe same of which mention was made as the Warren in the first chapter of this history. Coming to a dead stop in a little copse thereabout, she suffered her rider to dismount with right goodwill, and to tie her to the trunk of a tree.
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