He was already handing mincemeat down his throat in the most curious manner - more like a man who was putting it away somewhere in a violent hurry, than a man who was eating it - but he left off to take some of the liquor. He shivered all the while, so violently, that it was quite as much as he could do to keep the neck of the bottle between his teeth, without biting it off.
`I think you have got the ague,' said I.
`I'm much of your opinion, boy,' said he.
`It's bad about here,' I told him. `You've been lying out on the meshes, and they're dreadful aguish. Rheumatic too.'
`I'll eat my breakfast afore they're the death of me,' said he. `I'd do that, if I was going to be strung up to that there gallows as there is over there, directly afterwards. I'll beat the shivers so far, I'll bet you.'
He was gobbling mincemeat, meatbone, bread, cheese, and pork pie, all at once: staring distrustfully while he did so at the mist all round us, and often stopping - even stopping his jaws - to listen. Some real or fancied sound, some clink upon the river or breathing of beast upon the marsh, now gave him a start, and he said, suddenly:
`You're not a deceiving imp? You brought no one with you?'
`No, sir! No!'
`Nor giv' no one the office to follow you?'
`Well,' said he, `I believe you. You'd be but a fierce young hound indeed, if at your time of life you could help to hunt a wretched warmint, hunted as near death and dunghill as this poor wretched warmint is!'
Something clicked in his throat, as if has works in him like a clock, and was going to strike. And he smeared his ragged rough sleeve over his eyes.
Pitying his desolation, and watching him as he gradually settled down upon the pie, I made bold to say, `I am glad you enjoy it.'
`Did you speak?'
`I said I was glad you enjoyed it.'
`Thankee, my boy. I do.'
I had often watched a large dog of ours eating his food; and I now noticed a decided similarity between the dog's way of eating, and the man's. The man took strong sharp sudden bites, just like the dog. He swallowed, or rather snapped up, every mouthful, too soon and too fast; and he looked sideways here and there while he ate, as if he thought there was danger in every direction, of somebody's coming to take the pie away. He was altogether too unsettled in his mind over it, to appreciate it comfortably, I thought, or to have anybody to dine with him, without making a chop with his jaws at the visitor. In all of which particulars he was very like the dog.
`I am afraid you won't leave any of it for him,' said I, timidly; after a silence during which I had hesitated as to the politeness of making the remark. `There's no more to be got where that came from.' It was the certainty of this fact that impelled me to offer the hint.
`Leave any for him? Who's him?' said my friend, stopping in his crunching of pie-crust.
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