Chapter 81

At a funeral - Two days ago - Very coolly - Roman woman - Well and hearty - Somewhat dreary - Plum pudding - Roman fashion - Quite different - The dark lane - Beyond the time - Fine fellow - Such a struggle - Like a wild cat - Fair Play - Pleasant enough spot - No gloves.

SO I turned back with Mr. Petulengro. We travelled for some time in silence; at last we fell into discourse. ‘You have been in Wales, Mr. Petulengro?’

‘Ay, truly, brother.’

‘What have you been doing there?’

‘Assisting at a funeral.’

‘At whose funeral?’

‘Mrs. Herne’s, brother.’

‘Is she dead, then?’

‘As a nail, brother.’

‘How did she die?’

‘By hanging, brother.’

‘I am lost in astonishment,’ said I; whereupon Mr. Petulengro, lifting his sinister leg over the neck of his steed, and adjusting himself sideways in the saddle, replied, with great deliberation, ‘Two days ago I happened to be at a fair not very far from here; I was all alone by myself, for our party were upwards of forty miles off, when who should come up but a chap that I knew, a relation, or rather a connection, of mine - one of those Hernes. "Aren’t you going to the funeral?" said he; and then, brother, there passed between him and me, in the way of questioning and answering, much the same as has just now passed between me and you; but when he mentioned hanging, I thought I could do no less than ask who hanged her, which you forgot to do. "Who hanged her?" said I; and then the man told me that she had done it herself; been her own hinjiri; and then I thought to myself what a sin and shame it would be if I did not go to the funeral, seeing that she was my own mother-in- law. I would have brought my wife, and, indeed, the whole of our party, but there was no time for that; they were too far off, and the dead was to be buried early the next morning; so I went with the man, and he led me into Wales, where his party had lately retired, and when there, **** through many wild and desolate places to their encampment, and there I found the Hernes, and the dead body - the last laid out on a mattress, in a tent, dressed Romaneskoenaes in a red cloak, and big bonnet of black beaver. I must say for the Hernes that they took the matter very coolly; some were eating, others drinking, and some were talking about their small affairs; there was one, however, who did not take the matter so coolly, but took on enough for the whole family, sitting beside the dead woman, tearing her hair, and refusing to take either meat or drink; it was the child Leonora. I arrived at night-fall, and the burying was not to take place till the morning, which I was rather sorry for, as I am not very fond of them Hernes, who are not very fond of anybody. They never asked me to eat or drink, notwithstanding I had married into the family; one of them, however, came up and offered to fight me for five shillings; had it not been for them I should have come back as empty as I went - he didn’t stand up five minutes. Brother, I passed the night as well as I could, beneath a tree, for the tents were full, and not over clean; I slept little, and had my eyes about me, for I knew the kind of people I was among.

‘Early in the morning the funeral took place. The body was placed not in a coffin but on a bier, and carried not to a churchyard but to a deep dell close by; and there it was buried beneath a rock, dressed just as I have told you; and this was done by the bidding of Leonora, who had heard her bebee say that she wished to be buried, not in gorgious fashion, but like a Roman woman of the old blood, the kosko

  By PanEris using Melati.

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