Twelve hours had intervened since Bradley’s lying down, when he got up. “Not that I swaller it,” said Riderhood, squinting at his Lock, when he saw Bradley coming out of the house, “as you’ve been a sleeping all the time, old boy!”

Bradley came to him, sitting on his wooden lever, and asked what o’clock it was? Riderhood told him it was between two and three.

“When are you relieved?” asked Bradley.

“Day arter to-morrow, governor.”

“Not sooner?”

“Not a inch sooner, governor.”

On both sides, importance seemed attached to this question of relief. Riderhood quite petted his reply; saying a second time, and prolonging a negative roll of his head, “n — n — not a inch sooner, governor.”

“Did I tell you I was going on to-night?” asked Bradley.

“No, governor,” returned Riderhood, in a cheerful, affable, and conversational manner, “you did not tell me so. But most like you meant to it and forgot to it. How, otherways, could a doubt have come into your head about it, governor?”

“As the sun goes down, I intend to go on,” said Bradley.

“So much the more necessairy is a Peck,” returned Riderhood. “Come in and have it, T’otherest.”

The formality of spreading a tablecloth not being observed in Mr. Riderhood’s establishment, the serving of the “peck” was the affair of a moment; it merely consisting in the handing down of a capacious baking dish with three-fourths of an immense meat pie in it, and the production of two pocket-knives, an earthenware mug, and a large brown bottle of beer.

Both ate and drank, but Riderhood much the more abundantly. In lieu of plates, that honest man cut two triangular pieces from the thick crust of the pie, and laid them, inside uppermost, upon the table: the one before himself, and the other before his guest. Upon these platters he placed two goodly portions of the contents of the pie, thus imparting the unusual interest to the entertainment that each partaker scooped out the inside of his plate, and consumed it with his other fare, besides having the sport of pursuing the clots of congealed gravy over the plain of the table, and successfully taking them into his mouth at last from the blade of his knife, in case of their not first sliding off it.

Bradley Headstone was so remarkably awkward at these exercises, that the Rogue observed it.

“Look out, T’otherest!” he cried, “you’ll cut your hand!”

But, the caution came too late, for Bradley gashed it at the instant. And, what was more unlucky, in asking Riderhood to tie it up, and in standing close to him for the purpose, he shook his hand under the smart of the wound, and shook blood over Riderhood’s dress.

When dinner was done, and when what remained of the platters and what remained of the congealed gravy had been put back into what remained of the pie, which served as an economical investment for all miscellaneous savings, Riderhood filled the mug with beer and took a long drink. And now he did look at Bradley, and with an evil eye.

“T’otherest!” he said, hoarsely, as he bent across the table to touch his arm. “The news has gone down the river afore you.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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