marks of distinction, which, as a regular customer, and one within the freemasonry of the trade, he had a right to claim.
This Lion or landlord,for he was called both man and beast, by reason of his having instructed the artist who painted his sign, to convey into the features of the lordly brute whose effigy it bore, as near a counterpart of his own face as his skill could compass and devise,was a gentleman almost as quick of apprehension, and of almost as subtle a wit, as the mighty John himself. But the difference between them lay in this: that whereas Mr Willets extreme sagacity and acuteness were the efforts of unassisted nature, the Lion stood indebted, in no small amount, to beer; of which he swigged such copious draughts, that most of his faculties were utterly drowned and washed away, except the one great faculty of sleep, which he retained in surprising perfection. The creaking Lion over the house-door was, therefore, to say the truth, rather a drowsy, tame, and feeble lion; and as these social representatives of a savage class are usually of a conventional character (being depicted, for the most part, in impossible attitudes and of unearthly colours), he was frequently supposed by the more ignorant and uninformed among the neighbours, to be the veritable portrait of the host as he appeared on the occasion of some great funeral ceremony or public mourning.
What noisy fellow is that in the next room? said Joe, when he had disposed of his breakfast, and had washed and brushed himself.
A recruiting sergeant, replied the Lion.
Joe started involuntarily. Here was the very thing he had been dreaming of, all the way along.
And I wish, said the Lion, he was anywhere else but here. The party make noise enough, but dont call for much. Theres great cry there, Mr Willet, but very little wool. Your father wouldnt like em, I know.
Perhaps not much under any circumstances. Perhaps if he could have known what was passing at that moment in Joes mind, he would have liked them still less.
Is he recruiting for afor a fine regiment? said Joe, glancing at a little round mirror that hung in the bar.
I believe he is, replied the host. Its much the same thing, whatever regiment hes recruiting for. Im told there ant a deal of difference between a fine man and another one, when theyre shot through and through.
Theyre not all shot, said Joe.
No, the Lion answered, not all. Those that aresupposing its done easyare the best off in my opinion.
Ah! retorted Joe, but you dont care for glory.
For what? said the Lion.
No, returned the Lion, with supreme indifference. I dont. Youre right in that, Mr Willet. When Glory comes here, and calls for anything to drink and changes a guinea to pay for it, Ill give it him for nothing. Its my belief, sir, that the Glorys arms wouldnt do a very strong business.
These remarks were not at all comforting. Joe walked out, stopped at the door of the next room, and listened. The sergeant was describing a military life. It was all drinking, he said, except that there were frequent intervals of eating and love-making. A battle was the finest thing in the worldwhen your side won it and Englishmen always did that. Supposing you should be killed, sir? said a timid voice in one corner. Well, sir, supposing you should be, said the sergeant, what then? Your country loves you,
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